Archive for November, 2009

Harrisburg Men’s Chorus Presents “Chorus Christmas Capers” Dec. 6

November 21, 2009

Harrisburg Men’s Chorus entertaining at American Music Festival last summer.

Harrisburg Men’s Chorus presents “Chorus Christmas Capers” Sun., Dec. 6, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center, 1110 N. 3rd St. General admission is $10.

The chorus proudly announces its First Annual Chorus Christmas Capers as part of its 2009-2010 Season. The concert is a light-hearted mix of holiday favorites with some no-so-traditional carols. The audience will hear several numbers performed by the full chorus in addition to featured soloists and small ensembles.

The cabaret-style concert will also feature food by Nonna’s Deli Sioso and a full range of beverages by the arts center.

Artistic Director David Walker has designed a program that is sure to entertain both novice and seasoned choral fans. Our chorus’ mission continues to be one of inclusion and tolerance to new audiences while continuing its tradition of fusing humor and sentiment to create an unforgettable musical experience.

Info: http://www.harrisburgmenschorus.org; 717-236-3809.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 21, 2009

About 30 people gathered Nov. 20, 2009 on the steps of the Pennsylvania state capitol for “Transgender Day of Remembrance”. The event was organized by TransCentral PA, Harrisburg’s MCC of the Spirit Church, and the LGBT Community Center Coalition. Twelve volunteer readers, each holding a lit candle, read a short bio of a transgender person killed because they were different. Each reader then blew out the candle to commemorate the life lost.

D.C. Board of Elections: Rights of a Minority Will Not Be Put to Referendum

November 19, 2009

Civil rights triumphed over another failed attack from advocates of discrimination when the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics rejected a proposed referendum to put the rights of a minority up for a vote.

The proposed effort to limit the rights of District residents was brought by Stand For Marriage and Maryland pastor, Bishop Harry Jackson. The BOEE denied the referendum as a violation of the Human Rights Act of the District of Columbia.

“Equality should never be up for debate or denied on a ballot,” said D.C. resident Michael Crawford, Co-chair of D.C. for Marriage. “We only want what every other American already has – the right to marry the person we love.”

Rev. Cedric Harmon, a D.C. resident and a representative of D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality, a group of nearly 200 Washington, D.C. faith leaders representing all eight wards of the District and a variety of religious faiths added the following statement in support of the BOEE’s decision:

“It is shameful when religious leaders fail to uphold the Christian teachings of our faith by trying to institutionalize a second-class citizenship on our neighbors. People of faith have worked for generations to achieve social justice for all people – regardless of race, creed, class, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. We serve our entire flock, and there is no justification under God that we should discriminate against any of God’s children.

“The District of Columbia has not voted on the civil rights of a minority since the Civil War, when a majority prevented freed male slaves from gaining the right to vote. Today, the Board of Elections and Ethics reminded us that human rights should never be put to a vote. As members of the clergy who support equal rights for all citizens, and who struggle to achieve social justice in the District of Columbia, we applaud the BOEE for standing up for human rights in the face of discrimination.”

Equality Forum Calls for Investigation

November 17, 2009

Nov. 14, 2009, the body of 19-year-old George Lopez Mercado was found by the side of the road in Cayey, a city near the victim’s hometown of Caguas, Puerto Rico.

Lopez Mercado was partially burned, decapitated and with both arms and legs dismembered from his torso.

The police investigator suggested that Lopez Mercado deserved what he got because of the “type of lifestyle” he was leading.

According to Puerto Rican activists, Puerto Rico has never classified the murder of a gay man as a hate crime.

“Equality Forum calls on US Attorney General Eric Holder to have the FBI investigate,” stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum. “The Matthew Shepard Amendment empowers and requires the federal government to prosecute this horrific murder.”

Lazin served as a federal prosecutor; received the US Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award, the department’s highest annual honor; and was the Chair of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission.

The Matthew Shepard Amendment to the federal hate crimes act includes among other protected categories, sexual orientation. President Obama signed the bill into law on October 28, 2009. The federal hate crimes act enables federal agents to investigate hate crimes, especially where there does not appear that a full and fair investigation will be undertaken.

Puerto Rican gay activist Pedro Julio Serrano stated, “It is inconceivable that the investigating officer suggests that the victim deserved his fate, like a woman deserves rape for wearing a short skirt.”

“Equality Forum joins Puerto Rican activists in condemning the statements of the investigator and calls on Police Superintendent Figueroa Sancha to terminate the officer,” stated Malcolm Lazin. “It is clear that without federal intervention, there can be no fair and complete investigation.”

BREAKING NEWS: PA House Judiciary Committee Passes LGBT-inclusive Hate Crimes Legislation

November 17, 2009

The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee today passed House Bill 745, legislation to amend the Title 18 Ethnic Intimidation Act to include protections for actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by a bipartisan 18-8 vote.

House Bill 745, introduced by Representative Josh Shapiro (D-153), would reinstate hate crime protections originally passed in 2002 for LGBT people, but that were later struck down by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2008.

“This morning’s bipartisan vote shows that protecting each and every Pennsylvanian, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but rather a moral imperative for our entire Commonwealth,” said Jake Kaskey, Policy and Programs Director of Equality Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization. “Thousands of LGBT Pennsylvanians thank those elected officials that today stood up against violence motivated by hate.”

According to statistics compiled by Equality Pennsylvania, from 2006 to 2007 hate violence against LGBT people across Pennsylvania increased by 28 percent, and one report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates hate crimes targeted at LGBT Americans are under-reported by more than 30 percent. Since 2001, more than 420 people have called the legal hotline to report incidents of hate-incited violence, from every corner of the state.

“Today’s bipartisan vote was a significant step forward for Pennsylvania to ensure that hate violence perpetrated against our people and communities is not tolerated,” said Representative Josh Shapiro, prime sponsor of House Bill 745.

Equality Pennsylvania led member organizations of the Value All Families Coalition in engaging their elected Representatives and advocating for today’s vote. Over 50 organizations from across the Commonwealth support hate crime protections for LGBT people, and together this coalition worked tirelessly to see this bill passed. Thousands of letters and e-mails were sent to members of the Judiciary Committee in support of protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Pennsylvanians from all across the Commonwealth.

“Today’s vote is a huge step forward for all Pennsylvanians,” said Lynn Zeitlin, Executive Director of Equality Pennsylvania. “I look forward to the entire House passing this important legislation to protect all Pennsylvanians from hate violence.”

Today’s bipartisan vote brings hate crime protections for LGBT Pennsylvanians one step closer.

FAB Draws 525+, Lancaster Mayor, 2 Gubernatorial Candidates

November 16, 2009

FAB Draws 525+, Lancaster Mayor, 2 Gubernatorial Candidates

Back with a roar, FAB drew 525+ attendees Nov. 14 in Lancaster County’s new downtown convention center on the site of the former Watt & Shand department store. Three-term Scranton mayor and now gubernatorial candidate Chris Doherty attend the dinner. Former US congressman and current Montgomery County Commissioner Joseph M. Hoeffel worked the crowd before dinner. Newly-re-elected Lancaster mayor Rick Gray attended the entire event.

Student Refused “Pledge” over Gay Civil Rights; PA Connection

November 14, 2009

Student Refused “Pledge” over Gay Civil Rights; PA Connection

Reprinted from Arkansa Times & Parentdish.com

Student Braves Controversy, Refuses to Recite Pledge
by Tom Henderson
Nov 13, 2009 3:29PM

Editor’s Note: The original case decided by the US Supreme Court (compelling recitation and later overturned due to the ruling’s effects) originated in Minersville, PA. History: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minersville_School_District_v._Gobitis

Will Phillips refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Liberty and justice for all?”

Will Phillips doesn’t believe that describes America for its gay and lesbian citizens. He’s a 10-year-old at West Fork Elementary School in Arkansas, about three hours east of Oklahoma City. Given his beliefs, he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

That did not go over well with the substitute teacher in his fifth-grade classroom.

The Arkansas Times reports that he started refusing to say the pledge Mon., Oct. 5. By Thursday, the substitute was steamed. She told Will she knew his mother and grandmother and they would want him to recite the pledge. Will told the Times the substitute got more and more upset. She raised her voice. By this point, Will told the newspaper, he started losing his cool too, adding: “After a few minutes, I said, ‘With all due respect ma’am, go jump off a bridge.'”

That got him sent to the principal’s office. The principal made him look up information about the flag and what it represents. Meanwhile, there was the inevitable call to his mother.

At first, mom Laura Phillips told the Times, the principal talked about Will telling a substitute to jump off a bridge. When pressed, the principal admitted the whole incident was sparked by the boy exercising his constitutional right not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Phillips suggested an apology was in order — from the teacher. When the principal said that wasn’t necessary, Will’s mother started venting to friends via Twitter. Those friends, in turn, told the news media. And what would have been a minor classroom incident has people throughout Arkansas and beyond choosing sides.

As for Will, he continues to exercise his right to remain silent. It can be rough at times, he and his family admit. He has his share of supporters, however, his critics are louder and nastier — especially because he took his stand to defend gay rights.

“In the lunchroom and in the hallway, they’ve been making comments and doing pranks, calling me gay,” he told the Times. “It’s always the same people, walking up and calling me a gaywad.”

Nonetheless, Will told the paper, he is sticking to his convictions. A reporter for the paper asked Will — with all this talk about patriotism and the pledge — what he thinks it means to be an American.

“Freedom of speech,” he responded. “The freedom to disagree. That’s what I think pretty much being an American represents.”
His mother is proud.

“He’s probably more aware of the meaning of the pledge that a lot of adults,” Phillips told the Times.

Breaking News: Marriage Issue Heats Up

November 12, 2009

Breaking News: Below is a statement from D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality in response to the Washington Archdiocese of the Catholic Church letter to D.C. City Council.

“Yesterday, the leadership of the Catholic Church made clear that they are choosing a cynical political ploy over their call to serve the neediest among the community.

“Members of the Church hierarchy announced that they will prohibit Catholic Charities from providing services to D.C. residents if the D.C. City Council decides to recognize all married couples as equal under law. If it indeed takes this step, the leadership of the Catholic Church will be turning their backs on thousands of D.C. Catholics and other D.C. residents who embrace all of our neighbors and seek to provide for them in times of need.

“The Catholic Church hierarchy is at a crossroads: they must decide whether they are in the charity business for charity¹s sake, or if imposing their will on the D.C. City Council and the citizens of the District is their primary interest.”

Rev. Dr. Dennis W. Wiley, Pastor
Covenant Baptist Church
Co-Chair, D.C. Clergy United For Marriage Equality

D.C. Clergy United For Marriage Equality is a coalition of nearly 200 District of Columbia clergy and religious leaders of many faiths, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. We represent religious institutions in every ward in the District. We have worked together over many years for peace and justice and now join our voices again to speak a faithful word for freedom and equality. We declare that our faith calls us to affirm marriage equality for loving same-sex couples. Learn more by visiting: http://www.ClergyForMarriage.com

Harrisburg Men’s Chorus Dec. 6

November 12, 2009

The Harrisburg Men’s Chorus proudly presents their Christmas Cabaret Concert. The performances will be held on Sunday, December 6th at 1:00PM and 6:00PM.

The chorus will be performing in the new Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center in a fun, light-hearted concert. The performances will feature several numbers by the chorus and also feature some of our beloved soloists and small ensembles. Please join the popular chorus at either time for a great afternoon of Holiday fun.

Key West Fantasy Fest PHOTOS

November 6, 2009

Central Voice Key West correspondent Chris Tittel sends readers a sample of photos from last week’s annual Fantasy Fest.