Archive for December, 2009

Silent Witness Benefit Rescheduled for Dec. 26, 9 p.m.

December 21, 2009

Due to inclement weather, the “Holidays on the Rocks” benefit for The Silent Witnesses of PA has been rescheduled for Sat., Dec. 26, 9 .m. at Club XS. The fundraiser benefits an organization that is virutally part of every major LGBT event in the region and beyond.

The fundraiser is a variety show featuring Miss Conception of Toronto, live singing, dancing and musicians, drag queens and much more. The Silent Witnesses do so much for the LGBT Community and this is the perfect chance to show your appreciation. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the entertainment kicks into high gear at 9 p.m. Info: 717-846-6969.

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DC Mayor Fenty Signs Marriage Bill; Ball in Congress’ Court

December 18, 2009

“D.C. for Marriage is elated that Mayor Adrian Fenty has signed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, following the overwhelming vote in support of marriage equality by City Council on Tuesday. We are blessed to have the continuing strong and diverse support for marriage equality in Washington, D.C from Mayor Fenty, members of the Council, faith leaders, and residents.

“Having the right to legally marry will have an invaluable impact on gay and lesbian people and our families. Our work has always been about ensuring that every child and every parent in the District has the protection of full equality, so we can strengthen both our families and our community. We are excitedly looking forward to seeing the first couples and their joy as they are finally able to marry, here in the District.

“With today’s bill signing, the District has once again proven its long-time commitment to social justice and equality. We have boldly blazed a trail for the rest of the country by creating a coalition of support among clergy representing many different faiths, and residents of every race, ethnicity and origin in this majority African-American city. Together, we have ensured that the first jurisdiction in the South to make marriage equality law is our nation’s capital.

“As we now focus on defending marriage equality on Capitol Hill, we remain committed to our outreach and education efforts to unify the D.C. community. Our hope is that, as the federal government takes its first look at a local marriage equality measure, Members of Congress will respect the decision made by D.C.’s democratically elected government and not interfere with the enactment of the bill.

“At the same time, the discrimination-promoting groups who stripped marriage equality from our families in California and Maine now have their sights on D.C., and threaten to force a ballot initiative on same-sex marriage, along the lines of California’s Proposition 8 and Maine’s Question 1.

“In D.C., we believe all people and families should be treated equally. We disagree with outsiders who come into our city to advocate for discrimination against our friends and our neighbors. Their efforts will fail here.

“Mayor Fenty’s signing of the bill today may not end the fight, but we will triumph. In a matter of months, the work of so many of D.C.’s residents will culminate in full equality for all.”

BBC’s Coverage of Uganda’s “Anti-homosexuality bill” Sparks Controversy

December 18, 2009

By Boy in Bushwick
The British Broadcasting Corporation has responded to the growing controversy over a question a debate on one of its programs about a Ugandan bill that would impose the death penalty against anyone found guilty of homosexuality in the East African country.

Africa Have Your Say asked its listeners to debate the question: “Should homosexuals face execution.” Peter Horrocks, director of the World Service, responded to the controversy earlier today.

“The reaction from part of our audience was very strong and [we] do feel in retrospect the headline taken out of context was too stark and [we] do apologize for any offense that was caused to people, but it was an absolutely legitimate debate to have,” he said. “We were having that debate clearly because that’s the question the Uganda Parliament is having.”

Indeed, Ugandan lawmakers are scheduled to debate the so-called “anti-homosexuality bill” in Kampala tomorrow. People have taken to the streets in Chicago, San Francisco and other cities around the world to protest the proposed law.

British activist Peter Tatchell opined the BBC should encourage debate over the draconian bill, but he added he feels editors should have approached it differently.

“I think it perfectly reasonable for the BBC to host a debate about the current Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill, but not in the terms that it was framed,” Tatchell said.

Horrocks again defended the debate he said he feels Africa Had Your Say encouraged.

“This question is being posed directly in the Ugandan Parliament and there were plenty of people who took part in the program who were supportive of it,” he said. “It is a legitimate subject for debate, but clearly the way that you handle something like that with different sensitivities in different societies [over] the ways the questions are posed is something we need to be careful about.”

A journalist’s basic obligation is to pose difficult questions–including those that make their sources and those who hear, read or watch them uncomfortable or even angry. The idea Uganda could potentially sanction executions of gays and lesbians is a disgusting and shameful stain on the East African country. The BBC and other media outlets, however, have a responsibility to encourage an honest and open debate about the bill and the very real impact it could have on gay and lesbian Ugandans. And this obligation must trump any potential controversy and outrage that could result from such an exchange.

DC Marriage Bill Expected to Pass, 400 Rally

December 15, 2009

Last night (Dec. 14) more than 400 supporters of marriage equality in the District of Columbia gathered at a rally held by DC Clergy for Marriage Equality, DC for Marriage, the Human Rights Campaign, the Campaign for All DC Families and other groups.

This morning (Dec. 15) the DC City Council will take a second vote, expected to pass by a wide margin, and send the legislation to Mayor Fenty’s desk, where he is expected to sign it swiftly. The bill then goes to Congress for review for 30 working days, after which is will be become law, barring opposition.

Houston Elects Openly Gay Mayor

December 14, 2009

Houston Elects Openly Gay Mayor
Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, Dec. 12 elected an openly gay mayor. City controller Annise Parker registered a solid victory. Anniseparker.com

New Yorkers Protest Anti-marriage Vote

December 3, 2009

Hundreds of New Yorkers protested anti-marriage vote in Times Square last night.

The New York State Senate voted 24-against a bill that would have allowed gays and lesbians to marry. Another protest is scheduled to take place in Union Square this afternoon. Photos by Andres Duque.

BREAKING NEWS: NY State Senate Rejects Marriage Bill

December 2, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: NY State Senate Rejects Marriage Bill
by Michael K. Lavers
EDGE National News Editor
Wednesday Dec 2, 2009

The New York State Senate voted 24-38 today against a bill that would have allowed gays and lesbians to marry in the Empire State.

The long-delayed vote came on the heels of more than two hours of passionate and even emotional debate on the Senate floor.

“Provide me with the exact same rights as you have Madam President and each and every member of the New York State Senate has,” openly gay state Sen. Tom Duane [D-Manhattan,] who initially introduced the bill, said. “It would make me equal in every way to everyone else in this chamber.”

State Sen. Diane Savino [D-Staten Island] was among those who applauded Duane as she spoke in support of marriage for gays and lesbians.

“We have nothing to fear from Tom Duane and [his partner] Louis,” she said. “We have nothing to fear from [state Assemblymember] Danny O’Donnell and his partner. We have nothing to fear from love and commitment.”

State Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson [D-Mount Vernon] spoke about her gay brother as she announced her support of the marriage bill. She also discussed those who continue to oppose nuptials for same-sex couples based on their religious convictions.

“Nobody elected me… to be the moral arbiter of their decisions,” Hassell-Thompson said. “They did ask me to provide leadership and the rights for all of the people I serve.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm Smith [D-St. Albans] was more blunt.

“What is wrong is not knowing what the Bible says and retreating to it,” he said.

State Sen. David Valesky [D-Oneida] was among the handful of undecided lawmakers who supported the bill, but embattled state Sen. Hiram Monserrate [D-Jackson Heights] and state Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr., were among the eight Democrats who voted against it. No Republicans supported the bill.

“Let’s do what Mayor Bloomberg did: let’s go against the will of the people by doing [it] through politicians and without the people’s will,” Diaz said as he spoke in opposition to the bill. “Let the people decide. I say let the people decide. If you put this issue before the voters, they will reject it.”

Activists were quick to react.

“While we are disappointed by today’s vote, we are pleased that the issue of marriage equality at last was debated in the New York State Senate,” Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said. “We had long called for a public debate on this matter so we could determine who was truly on our side.”

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn expressed disappointment.

“Today the New York State Senate rejected an opportunity to declare that all citizens in New York are equal,” she said. “This is a loss for every family in New York. This is a loss for every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorker.”

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, agreed.

“Today’s vote is a vote against equal treatment for New York families,” he said.

Activists are planning to rally tomorrow night in Washington Square Park in lower Manhattan and in Albany.

BREAKING NEWS: D.C. City Council Votes in Favor of Equal Marriage

December 1, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: D.C. Marriage Equality Supporters Celebrate Vote on Same-sex Marriage as D.C. City Council Votes in Favor of Equal Marriage

The D.C. City Council voted for the first time as a full council in favor of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009.

The bill, which will formally legalize same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia while protecting the rights of religious institutions to define marriage according to their own beliefs, will be voted on a final time later this month by the full council. The bill is expected to then be signed by Mayor Fenty and finally go to Capitol Hill for Congressional review before becoming law. Eleven of 13 council members voted in support of the bill.

Aisha Mills, President of the Campaign for All D.C. Families released the following statement:

“Today we celebrate the District of Columbia City Council’s initial vote to extend marriage equality to all residents. When passed this important law will provide gay and lesbian couples the securities and protections of marriage and create a stronger community for all of us.

“Denying marriage protections to loving and committed couples here in the district, and elsewhere, puts them and their families in harm’s way. I would to thank the Council and all of the advocates for their work on this first step toward ensuring that gay and lesbian couples are able to make a lifelong commitment to take care of and be responsible for one another.”