Archive for June, 2010

Jury Convicts Keith Phoenix of Murder as a Hate Crime

June 30, 2010

By Boy in Bushwick
A Brooklyn jury found a man guilty of murder as a hate crime in connection with José Sucuzhañay’s death.

The panel deliberated for several hours before it convicted Keith Phoenix on the charge late last night; and attempted assault as a hate crime against Romel Sucuzhañay. The verdict comes nearly two months after a jury convicted Hakim Scott of manslaughter, but acquitted him of second degree murder as a hate crime.

Members of the Sucuzhañay family, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other elected officials and activists criticized Scott’s acquittal on the hate crime charges, but they welcomed Phoenix’s conviction in statements they released after the jury announced its verdict.

“No verdict will ever bring peace to the family and friends of José Sucuzhañay,” said Quinn. “However, last night we received justice in the form of a guilty verdict of murder as a hate crime against Keith Phoenix.”

Ana María Archila, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, agreed.

“Although nothing will ever restore the life of José Sucuzhañay, this verdict will bring some measure of peace and justice to the family and the community,” she said. “We must now continue to work together to eradicate violence from our streets, and to promote public policies that respect and honor the humanity of LGBT and immigrant communities.”

Prosecutors maintain Phoenix and Scott shouted anti-gay and anti-Latino slurs at Sucuzhañay as he and his brother walked home on Dec. 7, 2008, before they beat him to death on a Bushwick street corner. Scott faces up to 25 years in prison, and Phoenix could potentially spend the rest of his life behind bars.

“On Dec. 8, 2008, our city woke up to the sad news that anti-immigrant and homophobic hatred had taken another precious life away,” continued Archila. “The murder of José Sucuzhañay reminded us all that you do not have to be gay to be the victim of homophobia, and you do not have to be undocumented to be the victim of anti-immigrant violence.”

Developing News: Lancaster County Considers Droping Human Relations Commission

June 29, 2010

A Central Voice reader and Ning member reports that Lancaster County Commissioners are considering disbanding the Lancaster County Human Relations Commission.

The reader also reports that when the commissioners disbanded the Human Relations Commission Aug 14, 1991, the Ku Klux Klan marched in Lancaster two weeks later. The commission serves both the city and the county.

There is a county commissioners’ meeting June 29, 7:30 p.m., where the matter is expected to come up. The meeting is held at Lancaster Township Municipal Office, 1240 Maple Avenue, Lancaster.

Reading: A Weekend of Pride Events July 16-18

June 25, 2010

by Donald Maher, marketing/pubic relations chairperson for Reading Pride Celebration

While many believe that Reading Pride is just a one day event, it is actually so much more. It is true that the main Pride Festival will occur on Sunday, July 18th in Centre Park, but it is actually an entire “Weekend of Pride Events.”

Forum on the Gay Bar

Reading Pride Celebration’s weekend of events begins on Friday July 16th, with a forum on the “gay bar.” The evening will include the showing of the award winning film “Small Town Gay Bar,” which offers a poignant look at the struggle waged by rural Americans to find a place of their own and shows just how hard it can be to fit in when homophobia and intolerance are the status quo. The film documents the owners of two gay bars in the Deep South who speak candidly about the challenges to maintain their presence in hostile territory and what emerges is a telling tale told about the ongoing quest for equal rights in the small towns of the United States.

The evening will also include music, presentation, personal sharing, feedback from the audience and a reception. This forum begins at 7 PM at the Schmidt Training and Technology Center of the Reading Area Community College, 10 S. 2nd Street.
Pride in Faith Interfaith Prayer Service

On Saturday July 17th, Reading Pride will host an interfaith prayer service entitled “Pride in Faith Interfaith Prayer Service.” The service commences at 7 PM at Calvary United Church of Christ, located at 640 Centre Ave.

Pride Night Before Party

After the prayer service and later that night, join Reading Pride at 10 PM on Saturday July 17th at the Red Star Saloon, 11 S. 10th St., the “Pride Night Before Party.”

Pride Festival

The weekend’s main event is of course the Pride Festival itself which as noted above occurs on Sunday July 18th. Reading Pride is delighted to present as this year’s headliner the internationally acclaimed hit-maker Thea Austin. Anyone who has ever spent time on a dance floor will have no problem remembering her many hits (“I’m Addicted To You”, ”Don’t Stop”, “Rhythm is a Dancer”, “I Can’t Get Enough”, “I Got the Power”) just to name a few.

Also performing at this year’s event and back by popular demand is Tom Goss. Adding to the entertainment will be DJ Evelyn and your favorite Drag Queens and Kings.
Idol Contest and Pet Drag Show

In addition to the entertainment there will be two contests. First is the Reading Pride Idol contest. Second is the Pet Drag show. You can register on line at readingpridecelebration.org

After Party

Following the Pride Festival and on Sunday evening July 18th Reading Pride will head to a castle for the crowning event of the weekend. The pride celebration will continue with a major after party beginning at 7 PM at the new Stokesay Castle with DJ, music and dancing. $5 cover with drinks and food available for purchase. The castle is located at 141 Stokesay Castle Lane in Reading; and has lots of room for kings, queens and other lesser royalty. For directions see Stokesay.net or call 610 375 610.

Stokesay Castle

While it is the site of Reading Pride’s after party this year, Stokesay Castle is a destination in and of itself and is worth a comment or two. It was built in 1931 by George Heister as a honeymoon cottage for his bride, closely duplicating the original Stokesay Castle in Shrophire, England built in 1240 and still in existence. The bride did not find the castle to her liking and it was sold eventually becoming a restaurant and banquet facility. It reopened last year after new owners put some $2.5 million into the renovations to restore the castle to its former glory. The castle sits on 10 acres and has some 43,000 square feet of building space.

Happy Pride

On behalf of Reading Pride Celebration, we hope to see you at these “Weekend of Pride Events.” Bring your friends and family members and have a great time. Enjoy the celebrations and take pride in your self and in our community. Happy Pride! For further information, see readingpridecelebration.org

DADT Pre-trail Hearing Set for June 28

June 24, 2010

Will “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” go to trail in California?

June 28, in a federal district courthouse in Riverside, CA, interested parties may finally learn whether the Log Cabin Republicans’ six-year case challenging the government’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (DADT) will finally go to a trial. If so, that landmark trial would open on July 13.

“This case is the only one in the country that challenges the constitutionality of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said Dan Woods, a partner in White & Case’s Los Angeles office who is representing the Log Cabin Republicans. “It goes right to the heart of whether this policy is legal.”

On June 28, White & Case and Justice Department lawyers will participate in a pretrial conference with the court. In preparation for this conference, both sides have filed witness lists, exhibit lists and numerous pretrial memoranda. Predictably, the government has also filed motions to exclude evidence Log Cabin Republicans intends to introduce at trial, and Log Cabin Republicans have responded by filing briefs in opposition. By the end of the day, it is expected the court will make several important decisions, including whether this case will finally go to trial, as scheduled, on July 13.

“The government intends to submit no testimony from any military or government official that DADT was or is necessary to achieve its ostensible purposes; no expert opinion testimony to that effect; and no reports or studies to that effect,” write the Log Cabin Republicans in the Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Contentions of Fact and Law.

“All the evidence at this trial will be presented by Log Cabin, and that evidence will overwhelmingly demonstrate the unconstitutionality of DADT.”

“Finally, some have questioned why Log Cabin Republicans are actively pursuing this case even as Congress appears poised to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said Woods. “The answer is that such a legislative solution is neither certain to be enacted nor would it be immediate and unconditional in effect. And, with a trial date of July 13 fast approaching, we believe we are poised to bring a speedy and definitive end to this policy with such repeal becoming effective immediately – a stark contrast to the approach Congress is considering.”

June 26 Pride Benefit Features “The Problemaddicts” and Glenda’s Cabaret

June 22, 2010

Join the Pride Festival of Central PA June 26, 9:30 p.m. at Liquid 891 for one of their popular “Pride Mixers” featuring “The Problemaddicts”. The $10 cover gets you the entertainment, a Free Buffet and a Midnight Dance Party. The event benefits Pride.

The event features “The Problemaddicts,” described as “a group who brings a unique combination of rock guitars, synth hooks, dance beats and pop melodies that rock the house and make it impossible to sit still.” Glenda’s Cabaret featuring Glenda, Tai and the newly crowned Mr. and Miss Pride will provide a mini drag show.

New LGBT Health Project Off to Great Start

June 11, 2010

32 Attend First Program

“Whenever a segment of the community is not accepted stress often creates health disparities such as higher rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, tobacco use, and obesity,” says Rebecca Fox, director, National Coalition on LGBT Health. Fox headlined AIDS Community Alliance’s LGBT Health Priorities Forum June 9 at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg.

Thirty-two people, some representing services and organizations, attended the program on lgbt health issues. ACA recently engaged numerous community organizations in discussions around the agency’s new LGBT Community Health Initiative.

The next free program is Wed., Aug. 11, 7 p.m. at MCC of the Spirit, Harrisburg on “Lesbian Health Challenges”. Info: 1-800-867-1550

“Let me say clearly that our traditional core services to HIV/AIDS clients is intact, will remain intact, and will continue and expand as usual. We are adding lgbt health issues to our mission not subtracting services,” explains Phil Goropoulos, ACA’s President/CEO.

“We believe the organization has the skills, resources and partnerships necessary to improve health outcomes in eight areas that were highlighted by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association in its companion document to Healthy People 2010: HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Immunizations & Infectious Diseases, Health Communication, Access to Quality Health Services, Mental Health & Mental Disorders, Substance Abuse, and Cancer.

Although the lgbt people are often excluded from the life of the community “We know that we are a strong community with support mechanisms,” Fox says. The more an individual is “out” the better chance for a positive mental health and general health outlook, she notes.

Fox says that the lgbt community still has work to do even with national healthcare reform underway. “We won’t have data collection under reform,” Fox says, meaning that health disparities won’t be measured as a part of reform policy. “Many in the community are uninsured and/or underinsured and this needs to be addressed,” Fox says.

Locally, ACA hopes to step in and partially address lgbt health issues.

In the first year of ACA’s LGBT Community Health Initiative, programming will address the disparities in sexually transmitted infections, immunization and infectious diseases. “We will also begin a communication program around lgbt health issues which will, of course, include these disparities among other lgbt-related health issues,” Goropoulos says.

Also during this first year, “We will begin investigation into the means and best practices of addressing lgbt access to quality health services,” Goropoulos says. “Our meetings with community stakeholders stressed the importance of adding services to address mental health and mental disorders as quickly as possible to the Initiative’s efforts. We will work toward this goal as speedily as possible,” he says.

To date, ACA has secured a Preferred Provider Agreement from the Pennsylvania Department of Health Division of STDs to being screening for syphilis. Members of ACA’s staff are to be trained during the next few weeks with the hope that the service should be in place by Central PA Pride Festival July 23–25. In addition, the Agency has begun the process of securing the staffing, training and appropriate contracts to add testing and treatment for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia . ACA hopes to incorporate the full array of STD screenings and treatment options into the Agency’s community-based testing program that currently provides HIV Rapid Testing at locations throughout the region.

ACA has been in communication with the division of the Department of Health responsible for immunizations. The department is interested in partnering with ACA for the provision of Hepatitis A and B vaccine and ACA is in the process of securing a medical director to oversee the program. “Once the director is in place, the application process may move forward. The Hepatitis A and B vaccine will be provided by the Department of Health at no cost to ACA,” Goropoulos says. In addition to Hepatitis A and B, the agency is exploring the addition of HPV vaccinations for both men and women through the program.

As part of its research, the agency has visited the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective and is planning a visit to the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia. Regarding the addition of mental health services, the agency will be meeting with Pittsburgh’s Persad Center to discuss mental health service delivery and models that have been effective as it has evolved over the years.

“We are planning to potentially do some surveying during Pride (both in Lancaster and Harrisburg). In addition, if you are a trained phlebotomist / nurse and would be willing to assist with blood draws for syphilis screenings at Harrisburg Pride please let ACA know calling 717.233.7190.

Contact: Phil Goropoulos, President/CEO, AIDS Community Alliance, 100 North Cameron Street, Ste. 301-East, Harrisburg, PA 17101, 717.233.7190, fax: 717.233.7196
http://www.ACA-PA.com.