Archive for March, 2010

3 Prides & Central Voice Meet in Harrisburg

March 31, 2010

3 Prides & Central Voice Meet

In an effort to compare notes and discuss ways to work together, representatives of three Pride organizations from around the region and Central Voice met March 27 in the Giant Center community room, Linglestown Road. Represented at the meeting were Lancaster Pride, Reading Pride, Central PA Pride Festival, and Central Voice.

“We’ve met before and wanted to continue our communication,” says Mark Smith, who has successfully chaired a parade for the Central PA Pride Festival for the last four years.

All present agreed each venue would maintain its own separate identity. “Each event has its own history but there are ways we can work together to share costs, reduce costs. We’re all 100% volunteer organizations but with that comes a responsibility to act in a businesslike manner nonetheless. These events are more than ‘Gee kids, let’s put on a show,’” explained Donald Anklam, who has chaired the main event for Central PA Pride Festival.

“This is wonderful. We need to keep meeting,” said Richard Spangler, Reading Pride.

Lancaster Pride is June 19. Reading Pride is held July 18. Central PA Pride Festival is July 23-25.

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Ricky Martin Comes Out

March 30, 2010

Ricky Martin Comes Out


Putting to rest consistent rumors about his sexual orientation, Ricky Martin announced on his blog he is “a fortunate homosexual man.”

“I am very blessed to be who I am,” the Puerto Rican singer wrote.

Martin spoke out against Jorge Steven López Mercado’s death in an op-ed el Nuevo Dia published on Dec. 20. And in what appears to have been a potential prelude to his own personal torment, he wrote mere tolerance of those who are different is simply not enough.

Central Voice reported (Jan-Feb) on Jorge Steven López Mercado’s gruesome death near Cayey last November. Since then Puerto Rican authorities have charged a local man with first-degree murder and four other counts in connection with his death.

Following the incident more than a thousand people marched through the streets of San Juan to pay tribute to Mercado and to demand an end to hate crimes.

“If we accept each other, humanity will come together,” Martin said.

250 Jam HACC Same-sex Marriage Debate

March 25, 2010

Harrisburg Area Community College hosted an audience of 250 for a lively but civil same-sex marriage debate March 24. Debaters were Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach, an avid supporter of same-sex marriage and sponsor of legislation allowing for same-sex marriage, and Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage.

The first portion of the debate was moderated by WITF’s Scott Detrow. The second half of the discussion featured a question and answer period facilitated by HACC senior professor of English Trum Simmons.

Dan Choi Newsweek Excerpt on DADT

March 23, 2010

An excerpt from Dan Choi’s remarks in this week’s Newsweek:

When you walked into the courtroom after your night in jail, you were in uniform, handcuffed with a chain around your waist. You are a West Point graduate and Army lieutenant, how did you reach this point?
Being in chains, for me, matched what was in my heart the whole time I was serving and was closeted. Harriet Tubman once said she had freed 1,000 slaves but could have freed so many more if they only knew that they were slaves. People don’t always know that they are in fetters. Even my feet were shackled so I could only take small steps forward. To me that symbolizes what it is to live under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the only law that enforces shame. Those chains symbolized how my country is trying to restrict my movement, how we are only allowed incremental, tiny steps.

Critics of last week’s civil disobedience at the White House and Nancy Pelosi’s office say this is not the time for actions like this. They argue that the gay-equality movement is so close to progress, why risk it all now?
Why not now? Within the gay community so many leaders want acceptance from polite society. I think there’s been a betrayal of what is down inside of us in order to achieve what looks popular, what look enviable. The movement seems to be centered around how to become an elite. There is a deep schism [in the gay-rights movement], everyone knows this. But this shouldn’t be about which group has better branding. There is a tremor right now in every gay and transgender youth that these groups are not grasping. I would say to them—you do not represent us if all you are looking for is a ladder in to elite society.

Lesbian Air Force Sgt. Jene Newsome in DADT Grinder

March 20, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010 – 2:47 p.m.
Lesbian Air Force Sgt. Jene Newsome in DADT Grinder
Former Harrisburg Resident
By Frank Pizzoli
Central Voice

“I’ve always played by the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rules, all nine years of my Air Force service. There was no reason for the police to inform the military about my personal life,” beleaguered lesbian Air Force Sgt. Jene Newsome tells Central Voice in a telephone interview from Alaska.

A former Harrisburg resident, 28-year-old Newsome was until Feb. 26 an aircraft armament system craftsman. Rapid City, SD police department’s discovery of her Iowa marriage license – where gay marriage is legal – and the military’s DADT policy – under scrutiny that could lead to repeal – have collided head-on at the crossroads of gay civil rights.

Newsome’s story begins Nov. 20, 2009 when Rapid City police see an Iowa marriage certificate in her home. They were at Newsome’s home to serve her partner with an arrest warrant. Allegedly, her partner was wanted on theft charges in Fairbanks, Alaska.

While police were at her home, Newsome was working at nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base, about 15-20 minutes away. Police decided to tell base officials about the license, a disclosure that lead to Newsome’s discharge from the military in January. More than 13,500 service members have been discharged under the policy since 1994, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Complicating the matter are police claims that Newsome was not cooperative when they showed up at her home to serve her partner with the warrant. “They called me several times that day. I was at work, 15-20 minutes away, and couldn’t leave. I didn’t interfere with the police doing their work and I don’t know what their work has to do with my personal life, the fact that I’m married to a woman,” Newsome says.

“The police have released different statements about how they first saw our marriage license,” Newsome says. One report says officers spotted the marriage license on the kitchen table through a window of Newsome’s home. “The size of the print on the license is about 6 or 8 point, a small size letter. I’m not sure anyone could read the license through a window,” Newsome says.

In a statement released to the AP, Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender said his department alerted the base because the marriage license was relevant to the investigation. In subsequent media interviews, he said the document showed both the relationship and residency of the two women.

“I just don’t agree with what the police department did. They violated a lot of internal policies on their end, and I feel like my privacy was violated,” Newsome says. “I always played by DADT,” she says, adding “I never told anyone in the military I’m a lesbian.

Consequently, Newsome contacted the American Civil Liberties Union – South Dakota in February and filed a complaint against the police department. The complaint claims police had no legal reason to tell the military Newsome is a lesbian and that officers knew if they did, it would jeopardize her military career.

Robert Doody, ACLU – South Dakota executive director says “One aspect of the case is the ability of third parties, like the police department, to ‘out’ service members.” That’s why, he explains, “we filed a complaint with the police department not the military.” At press time, Doody had not received a formal reply from police although he says “I’ve heard third hand it was denied.”

Doody’s legal intervention does not directly involve the military’s DADT policy, now under review by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Instead, as Doody clarifies, his complaint focuses directly on the police department. The ACLU theory of the case is that Newsome’s marital status and sexuality have no bearing on the police carrying out their duties in serving a warrant.

“The DADT policy is important and critical to this, but it’s also a police misconduct case,” Doody claims. Newsome said she and her attorney have not yet decided on whether to file a lawsuit.

“Outrageous,” says Paul Cates, of the national ACLU office. “The charges that led police to Newsome’s home don’t involve her. They involve her partner,” he clarifies. “What Newsome’s marriage status has to do with her partner’s situation and why police felt compelled to inform the military is not at all clear,” Cates says. “It shows the absurdity of DADT,” Cates says. He’s not sure, as police chief Allender stated, the marriage license or Newsome’s sexuality is relevant to the police investigation.

As the story swelled to national attention, Allender said “It’s an emotional issue and it’s unfortunate that Newsome lost her job, but I disagree with the notion that our department might be expected to ignore the license, or not document the license, or withhold it from the Air Force once we did know about it.” Newsome’s marriage document “was a part of the case, part of the report and the Air Force was privileged to the information, Allender said. He also said his department does not seek to expose gay military personnel or investigate the sexuality of Rapid City residents.

In scenarios like Newsome’s involving third-party disclosure of another’s sexual orientation, military leaders may be considering ways to relax enforcement before full repeal may be achieved. Gates has said the military might not have to expel someone whose sexual orientation was revealed by a third party out of vindictiveness or suspect motives. How Newsome’s circumstances comport with Gates’ suggestion isn’t readily clear.

While about 80 percent of DADT discharges come from gay and lesbian service members who out themselves, third-party outings are “some of the most heinous instances of DADT,” says Nathaniel Frank, research fellow, Palm Center, a think tank trying to direct traffic in the debate. Newsome acknowledges that some gay and lesbian service members choose to disclose.

“I was once the direct supervisor of a woman who went to the legal department and revealed she is a lesbian. She explained that she wasn’t suited for the service and was discharged. As her supervisor I had to be right there with her through the process,” Newsome says.

South Dakota is home to Mount Rushmore National Park where the heads of four presidents are carved in stone. Is DADT carved in stone?

South Dakota ABC-affiliate KOTA TV asked visitors to their web site: Do you support allowing gays to serve openly in the military or do you support the current policy of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”? At press time, 46% supported the change, 47% supported DADT, and 7% didn’t know.

While the nation debates the future of DADT, Newsome contemplates her future. “I’m not an activist. I hadn’t planned to be changing my life. Right now I’m looking into different jobs. If I hadn’t been discharged I’d be making the Air Force my career,” she says.

Gay USA TV News Magazine for March 19

March 19, 2010

Gay USA TV, a national news magazine with Andy and Ann, discuss the fact that same-sex marriage has begun in Washington, D.C., Buenos Aires and Mexico City; Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli defends his stance on LGBT discrimination in that state’s universities; an anti-gay California state senator, Roy Ashburn, is outed but still defends his anti-gay platform.

“Gay USA” is a weekly news-hour that offers comprehensive news and analysis by and about the LGBTQ community with hosts Ann Northrop and Andy Humm.

Link – http://www.freespeech.org/video/gay-usa-march-9th-2010

Pa Senate Committee Votes Against Same-sex Marriage Ban

March 16, 2010

The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee today (3/16/2010) voted against legislation to amend the state constitution to ban same sex marriage.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania hailed the vote as a victory for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the commonwealth.

“The efforts to embed discrimination against LGBT people into our constitution have failed for a third time,” said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, citing failed attempts to pass similar legislation in 2006 and 2008.

“This committee today recognized that LGBT people are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends, and our family members and that they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Senate Bill 707, introduced by Senator John Eichelberger of Blair County, was tabled by an 8-6, bipartisan vote of the committee. Although Senate rules allow the bill to be considered again at any time, Hoover noted that it is unlikely that the bill will be brought up before the end of the 2010 legislative session.

“This vote today spoke loud and clear,” Hoover said. “Members want to move on and address truly pressing issues for the people of Pennsylvania.”

Committee members who voted for the motion to table SB 707 included Republicans Pat Browne, Jane Earll, and Mary Jo White and Democrats Daylin Leach, Lisa Boscola, Wayne Fontana, Michael Stack, and Jay Costa.

CentralVoice Spam

March 15, 2010

Over the past several weeks Central Voice’s web site has been targeted by spammers. To safeguard legitimate members the management of your site has been deleting suspected spammers. If your membership was mistakenly deleted we apologize and ask you to contact us to re-instate your membership. Also please contact us if you have been victimized by spammers.

Lancaster Pride Set for June 19

March 8, 2010

Lancaster Pride is set for another lively year June 19, noon- 6 p.m. at Lancaster’s Buchanan Park. The park is located near Franklin and Marshall College.

The third such event in Lancaster, the first two years drew rave reviews from a usual crowd of about 1,000 to 2,000 attendees. Organizers put together a venue that celebrates the lives of lgbtqa folks and is child and family friendly. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.

The outdoor festival features a mix of live entertainment, vendors booths, that run from arts and crafts to pride regalia, plus a full menu of food offerings. Local theatres, live bands as well as choirs, choruses, comedians and drag performers wow the growing crowd. Silent Witness volunteers, local police, and campus security are on hand to safely escort attendees and shield them from any potential protesters. In previous years only a handful of protestors have shown up and the venue has remained peaceful and free of incident.

Another way to help the event is by attending Isaac’s Night Fundraiser, Wed., May 26, 5:30 p.m. until closing at Downtown Isaac’s on Queen St. The event includes the deli’s popular Pickle Bar. Lancaster Pride will also have an information and merchandise table set up on First Friday, June 4, at Building Character, 342 North Queen St. Lancaster . 5 -9 p.m.

Recently Lancaster Pride announced a partnership with the LGBT Community Center Coalition of Central PA. The center will manage administrative duties of the pride venue in exchange for a fee-based percentage from their revenues. The event will now operate under the center’s non-profit status and market itself as a “Project of the LGBT Community Center.”

“We reached out to the Center to discuss ways we could work together,” says Lancaster Pride co-chair, Chris Baldwin, “and they were really open to hearing our ideas and looking for a solution that would help us both. The conversations that followed were easy and thorough and we talked about everything. It was the kind of open conversations that partners have, and I’m really pleased with the outcome. I honestly think that it will make the lives of both groups better.”

Center board president Ted Martin expanded on Baldwin’s sentiments. “The Center is always looking for the best ways to support the community. That is our purpose and all our efforts are aimed at making this one goal tangible. This partnership with Lancaster Pride is a proud moment and it makes our mission of finding common ground for the region’s lgbt community just a little more real. Plus, we are helping a great organization like Lancaster Pride grow and that’s a tremendously positive feeling.”

Under the agreement, the Lancaster event maintains its officers and volunteer leadership and remains in full control of the event and organization. “That’s one of the key elements of the agreement” says Martin. “On a working level, the only major changes will be how Pride’s banking is done and that they can now function as a non-profit organization. We really worked hard to find a way for Pride to maintain its identity, leadership, and place in the community while giving the center the ability to maintain its operational standing.”

“In everything that we talked about, it seemed that the center was always interested in supporting the work that Pride was already doing. They said this repeatedly and stuck by their word,” says co-chairs Chris Baldwin and Mark Stoner. “That was an important factor in making this agreement happen.”

The governing body holds open community meetings and encourages attendance by anyone interested in helping out. The next meetings are Wed., May 19 and Wed. June 16, Fulton Theatre, 7-8 p.m.

The all volunteer-led event is managed by a Steering Committee comprised of Co-Chairs, Chris Baldwin, Mark Stoner; Media Contact, Anthony Lascoskie JR, Web Design, Lauren Bitner; Fundraising/Entertainment, Sue Meister; Logistics, Chris Baldwin; Vendors, Nancy Gockley; Volunteers, Erica Millner; Pageants, Whitley Nycole DeAire.

Info: http://lancasterpride.com

Deborah Cox Ready for Black & White Party May 7

March 6, 2010

“My joy in life is performing,” Deborah Cox tells Central Voice as she sets her sights on May 7 when the Platinum crooner performs at The Black and White Party at Club XS, York, PA.

This year’s theme is “Alice in Boogie Wonderland” which sets the pace for the event’s talked-about inside and outside entertainment settings.

All funds raised by the Party support HIV/AIDS programs in the region through York’s Family First and The AIDS Fund of South Central Pennsylvania, which funds programs throughout the entire region.

To date, the event has raised $52,000 to support local programs. The AIDS Fund is also affiliated with the National AIDS Fund (NAF) which provides matching dollars to the funds raised locally. The AIDS Fund is the only such endeavor in Pennsylvania with a “matching funds” relationship with NAF.

“Cox is the highest level of entertainment ever offered by Club XS. We’re glad that the event brings her here to help us raise money to fight HIV/AIDS,” says benefit lead organizer Charles Oswald. Cox’s appearance is expected to draw people from Maryland, Delaware, and far outside the south central Pennsylvania region.

“When you purchase a ticket or make a donation, you dollar goes a long way with our fundraiser,” Oswald says. The event draws in dozens of volunteers each year to staff the indoor and outdoor entertainment as people assemble to fight HIV.

“It breaks my heart,” Cox says about HIV. “I’ve lost friends to this disease and the day scientists announce a cure I’m determined to be part of the announcement.”

That determination harkens back to Cox’s childhood days and her mother’s influence on her life now.

“My mom was a calm lady with routines and that’s rubbed off on me. And so has having children,” she shares. Cox’s three daughters are 6, 3, and 1. Her youngest child sometimes travels with her. Between her mom’s influence and her artistic career Cox says “I’m a low maintenance person. I’m not a diva, not fussy.”

“I have great people around me who get it done,” Cox says.”

Getting it done for Cox means she samples a full palette of musical tastes. Her “Destination Moon” album is a tribute to Dinah Washington, who like Cox, delved into blues, jazz, big band, and pop ballads. That partly my mom’s influence there too Cox says. Her mom listened to 60s soul, Washington, Bob Marley, Lou Rawls.

Getting it done also means she makes time for herself.

Cox jumps rope on the road and does cardio exercises three times a week when time permits. “Don’t overdue it,” she warns, advising loving fans to find a routine that makes sense for them. Her routine includes soy and lots of vegetables. She knows what she’s talking about at 5” 6’, 120 lbs. – her high school size. Not perfect, her one weakness is Twizzlers.

“Let’s get the job done with The Black and White Party,” Cox says enthusiastically.

“Our board of directors and volunteers are pumped!” exclaims Oswald, originator of what has been called “the best party you’ll ever attend”. Man Behind the Curtain Productions is helping The Black and White Party, Inc to produce the entertainment this year.

“Chris Quigley, who directs the inside entertainment, and Chad-Alan Carr who will direct the outside entertainment, are ready to wow the pants off of you!” Oswald says. Past performers have included RuPaul, CeeCee Peniston, and Sarah Bernhardt.

Tickets online: https://www.mycommunitytickets.com/event_info.asp?eventid=26424 or call 717-846-6969.
Info: http://www.theblackandwhiteparty.com.