Archive for April, 2011

Bethlehem Council Cte. Unanimously Votes Anti-Discrimination Ordinance to Full Council

April 29, 2011

Bethlehem, PA – Following a three-hour public comment hearing last night (4/28/2011), the Bethlehem City Council Human Resources and Environment Committee voted 3-0 to refer the proposed Human Relations Ordinance to the full council, with their support.

The Committee, chaired by Gordon Mowrer, also consists of Jean Belinski and David DiGiacinto. All members of council and the Mayor attended the meeting. Almost 100 community members attended with 3o speaking in favor and noone spoke against.

Mayor John Callahan introduced the ordinance in September, and told council that “this important piece of legislation is long overdue. As a City, we have to be welcoming to everyone.” Councilwoman Karen Dolan urged “Swift passage” by the full council as they consider the ordinance for the first reading on May 18th.

If passed, Bethlehem will become the 21st municipality in Pennsylvania to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, in addition to the enumerated protected classes in the state Human Relations Act, according to Stephen Glassman, Chairperson of the PA Human Relations Commission. Glassman was on hand to provide expert testimony and to answer questions regarding the legislation at the Committee hearing.

Adrian Shanker, Vice President of Pennsylvania Diversity Network, led the campaign to build public support for this ordinance. The ordinance is endorsed by 100+ organizations, businesses, labor unions, and religious leaders in Bethlehem. Shanker stated, “there is no rational reason to oppose this legislation. Which is why there is such broad public support from the arts, labor, faith, business, and civil rights communities.” Shanker noted that the legislation is supported by, among others, the AARP, Planned Parenthood, ArtsQuest, ACLU, Equality PA, Lehigh Valley Labor Council, and 39 businesses.

Recent statewide polling commissioned by EqualityPA indicates sustained and strong support for non-discrimination laws protecting people on the basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Executive Director, Ted Martin, said “the support for this is so strong because most people know what is right and what is wrong, and they know discrimination is simply wrong.”

Pennsylvania Diversity Network led the campaign to pass this legislation in Allentown, Easton, and Reading as well. Liz Bradbury, Executive Director, is “hopeful that [she] can soon recommend Bethlehem as a safe place to live, work or visit for everyone.”

The legislation now goes before the full council, and it is expected they will support the final version and send it back to Mayor Callahan for his signature.

Pennsylvania Diversity Network is the Lehigh Valley-based LGBT advocacy organization, and is the largest membership-driven LGBT organization in the Commonwealth of PA. http://www.PADiversity.org

Advertisements

Alder Health Service’s Phil Goropoulos Selected for Black and White Party’s Folby Award

April 28, 2011

AVAILABLE NOW – Alder Health Services, formerly AIDS community Alliance, now offers Mental Health Services, Health Education Forums & Workshops, STD Screenings & Treatment, call 717-233-7190 or 800-867-1550

COMING SUMMER 2011 – Alder Health Services will open Primary Care Health Center dedicated to the unique health needs of populations traditionally marginalized by the healthcare system

http://alderhealth.org/

Phil Goropoulos, president and CEO of Alder Health Services, formerly AIDS Community Alliance, is the 2011 recipient of the John Folby Award to be presented May 14 at The 5th Annual Black & White Party, Zembo Shrine Auditorium and Event Complex in Harrisburg.

The award is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to helping those with HIV. The award is named after its first recipient.

This year’s event is a Broadway theme of “The Show Must Go On”.

Headliner Martha Wash (“It’s Raining Men”) said, “Open your wallets” and support the event. Wash’s classic “It’s Raining Men,” scored her a Grammy Nomination and is a cult classic. “The Black and White audience is going to have a ‘greatest hits’ night!” she exclaimed.

“We’re going to raise money together” Wash said. Funds raised from the all-volunteer benefit are directed to The AIDS Fund of South Central Pennsylvania and York Family First Health. Through a grantmaking process, The AIDS Fund provides money to organizations within the region that help people with HIV/AIDS. Family First Health provides services directly.

Goropoulos –
• 1997, Dickinson College graduate
• 2004, Jeffrey Zonis Leadership Award, Family Health Council of Central PA
• 2005, Twenty In Their Twenties, Patriot News
• 2006, 40 Under Forty, Central Penn Business Journal
• 2010-2011, Lead transition of AIDS Community Alliance into Alder Health Services
• Master Degree, Non-Profit Management, Regis University

Info: 717-814-8862; http://theblackandwhiteparty.com/

New Poll Shows Statewide Support for Non-discrimination Bill

April 27, 2011

Clink link to survey map below.

State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, earlier today unveiled a statewide poll indicating sustained strong support for legislation that would protect people who live or work in Pennsylvania from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Frankel is the lead House sponsor of the bill (H.B. 300), which would address discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations. State Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh/Northampton/Monroe, plans to introduce the legislation in the Senate.

“Support for this bill has remained constant over the past eight years, solid at roughly 70 percent. The overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians – regardless of region or political party – support it. They know being gay or transgendered has nothing to do with a person’s ability to fix a car or computer, or to show up on time and to do a good day’s work,” Frankel said.

The poll was conducted in February for Equality Pennsylvania by Susquehanna Polling and Research, a firm with many Republican and business clients.

Frankel said, “It is time for Pennsylvania to catch up to the 21 states and the District of Columbia that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Twelve of those and the District of Columbia also ban discrimination based on gender identity. We should be a leader, not a follower, on this issue.

“In addition to making state law more fair and just, this would make Pennsylvania more economically competitive. We are surrounded on three of four sides by states that ban anti-gay discrimination – Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and New York. They have a competitive advantage over Pennsylvania when it comes to attracting and retaining businesses and residents.

“More municipalities continue to pass these protections at the local level, but an estimated 70 percent of Pennsylvanians still live or work in communities that do not provide these protections. The people of Pennsylvania support this commonsense change, and it’s the right thing to do.”

Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act currently bans discrimination based on race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, a non-job related handicap or disability, or the use of a guide or support animal due to a person being blind, deaf or having a physical handicap.
Surveycolormap

Discrimination Poll to be Released; Bethlehem City Ordinance Hearing

April 27, 2011

Civil Rights News
New ‘Discrimination’ Poll to be Released Today;
Bethlehem City Council to Hold Public Hearing April 28

A news conference today (Wednesday) at the Capitol on a Pennsylvania non-discrimination bill and new poll results released by State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny will highlight legislation that would protect people who live or work in Pennsylvania from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Frankel is expected to be joined at the news conference by lawmakers co-sponsoring the bill as well as advocates from organizations that support the legislation.

Bethlehem City Council Committee to Hold Hearing April 28
Bethlehem City Council may be the 21st Pennsylvania municipality to pass a non-discrimination law at the local level. A public hearing is scheduled for April 28, 7 p.m. by Bethlehem City Council, City Hall, 10 Church Street, Bethlehem, PA. The ordinance was introduced by Mayor Callahan in September.

A coalition led by the Pennsylvania Diversity Network, EqualityPA, and the ACLU-PA, and supported by more than 100 businesses, labor unions, nonprofit organizations, and faith leaders, has built public support for the ordinance, lead organizer Adrian Shanker told Central Voice.

More than 100 supporters and community leaders are expected to be present.

Among ordinance supporters are: AARP Pennsylvania, ArtsQuest, Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, Turning Point of Lehigh Valley, Lehigh Valley Labor Council, Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem. Complete list below.

If passed, the bill would make it illegal to discriminate in employment, housing, education, or public accommodation in the City of Bethlehem based on a series of protected classes. Nearby cities of Allentown, Easton, and Reading already have this law on the books.

Supporters
Business

Alandos’s Kenyan Cuisine, 520 Main St.
American Hairlines, 74 W. Broad St.
Antiques & Gifts of Broad St., 99 W. Broad St.
Artsy Diva Boutique, 458 Main St.
Back Door Bakeshop, 1422 Center St.
Bethlehem Brewworks, 569 Main St.
Black Forest Deli, 745 7th Ave
Blue Cactus, 583 Main St.
Blue Sky Café, 22 W. 4th St.
The Boyd Theatre, 30 W. Broad St.
The Chocolate Lab, 446 Main St.
Cleo’s Silversmith Studio, 21 E. 3rd St.
Deja Brew Coffeehouse & Deli, 101 W. 4th St.
Diamonz Bar & Grill, 1913 W. Broad St.
Dreamscape Comics, 302 W. Broad St.
Edible Arrangements, 34 W. Broad St.
First Impressions Creative Interior Solutions, 3040
Barnsdale Rd.
Fox Optical & Gallery, 28 E. 3rd St.
Girlfriends Boutique, 559 Main St.
Home & Planet, 25 E. 3rd St.
Isenhour & Rooney Strategies, LLC. 117 E. Broad St.
La Petit Provence, 458 Main St.
LaRose Boutique Inc., 91 W. Broad St.
Mama Nina Foccacheria, 546 Main St.
MarVal Optical, 83 W. Broad St.
Millenium Strategies PA, 301 Broadway, Ste 201
The New Street Book Shop, 515 N. New St.
New Street Folk Shoppe, 511 N New St.
Ostara, 521 Main St.
Profiles Salon, Inc., 77 W. Broad St. #2C
ReWired Café, 520 Main St.
Saraceno Design, Inc., 26 E. 3rd St.
Spark, 1 W. Broad St., Suite 1000
Stone Soup Studios, 20 W. Broad St.
Tallarico’s Chocolates, 26 E. 3rd St.
Terra Café, 316 S. New St.
TIMEZONES Global Goodies & Framing Gallery, 7 E.
3rd St.
Tri State Strategies Pennsylvania, 117 E. Broad St.
Wadsworth & Co., 107 E. 3rd St.

Labor Unions with Members in Bethlehem:
Bethlehem Education Association, PSEA
Bethlehem Fire Fighters, Local 735, IAFF
Communication Workers of America, District 13
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers,
Local 1600
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 773
Lehigh Valley Carpenters, Local 600
Lehigh Valley Labor Council, AFL-CIO
North East Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation
Pennsylvania Joint Board Local 391B, SEIU
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania
Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ
Service Employees International Union, Local 668
United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1776

Organizations:
AARP Pennsylvania
Alliance for Sustainable Communities
American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania
AIDSNET
ArtsQuest
Bethlehem City Democratic Committee
Bethlehem NAACP
CAT, Coalition for Appropriate Transportation
Communities in Schools of the Lehigh Valley
Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley
Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley
Equality Pennsylvania
The Hispanic Center
Indian American Association of the Lehigh Valley
Latino Leadership Alliance of the Lehigh Valley
Lehigh County Democratic Committee
Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living
LEPOCO Peace Center
Northampton County Democratic Committee
Pennsylvania Diversity Network
Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates
Pride of the Greater Lehigh Valley
SouthSide Film Institute
Touchstone Theatre
Turning Point of Lehigh Valley
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley
WDIY-FM, Lehigh Valley Community Public Radio

Bethlehem Clergy:
Rev. T. Scott Allen, Rector, St. Andrews Episcopal Church*
Rabba Nehama Benmosche, Congregation Am Haskalah*
Rev. Mary Cabot-Butler
Rev. Don Garrett, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley
Rabbi Seth Goren
Rev. Raymond Harbort, Retired Episcopal Priest
Rev. David Henkelman, Retired Moravian Pastor
Rev. Anne Huey
Rev. Laura Thomas Howell, Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church*
Rev. Sharon Joseph, Church of the Manger*
Rabbi Allen Juda, Congregation Brith Shalom*
Rev. Anne E. Kitch, Canon for Formation in Christian Faith, Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem*
The Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem*
Rev. Elizabeh Miller, Deacon, Trinity Episcopal Church*
Lisa Mixon, Director, People in Mission, Moravian Church Northern Provence*
Rev. Canon Mariclair E. Partee, Cathedral Church of the Nativity*
The Very Rev. Anthony R. Pompa, Dean, Cathedral Church of the Nativity*
Rev. Hillary Raining, Curate, Trinity Episcopal Church*
Rev. Dr. Lloyd Steffen, Lehigh University Department of Religion*
Rabbi Mark Schulman, Beth El Gibor*
The Ven. Howard Stringfellow III, Archdeacon, Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem*
Rev. Canon Jane Teter, Canon for Ministries, Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem*
*listed for identification purposes only

Harrisburg Men’s Chorus Sponsors Screening of “Bullied” May 23

April 25, 2011

The Harrisburg Men’s Chorus and Unitarian Universalists of the Cumberland Valley will hold a screening of the new documentary, “Bullied,” produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The documentary film screens May 23, 7 p.m., Unitarian Universalists of the Cumberland Valley Church, 2 Forge Road, Boiling Springs, PA 17007. Admission is free.

The documentary focuses on the story of Jamie Nabozny, a young person that was subjected to relentless antigay verbal and physical abuse by fellow students at his public high school in Ashland, Wisconsin. Jamie filed suit against the school and Lambda Legal took his case before a federal appeals court and won (Nabozny v. Podlesny). The evening will include musical selections by the Harrisburg Men’s Chorus and a screening of the documentary followed by a discussion/Q&A session led by Nabozny in person.

A period of light refreshments after the program will allow for further discussion and personal conversation with Nabozny. Funding for this event was provided by the Carlisle Area Health & Wellness Foundation.

Contact: wagnerk@carlisleschools.org
Movie Info: http://www.tolerance.org/bullied

GetEqual Presents Gay Marriage Opponent with Award

April 15, 2011

At a Congressional hearing on “Defending Marriage” in the Subcommittee on the Constitution, GetEQUAL – a national lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization using direct action and nonviolent civil disobedience tactics – presented Maggie Gallagher, one of those testifying at the hearing and the board chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, with the “First Annual Anita Bryant Award for Unbridled and Unparalleled Bigotry.” Competition for the prize was fierce, with Ms. Gallagher out-bigoting such notable figures as Senator John McCain, Michelle Bachmann, Pastor Rick Warren, and Sarah Palin.

“In presenting this award to Ms. Gallagher, we are recognizing the bigotry that she has pioneered over the past few years – malice that has put her ahead of the pack in the world of professional bigots who draw a paycheck each day from the hatred they stir up among the ‘radical right’ wing of the American public,” said Robin McGehee, director of GetEQUAL. “At a time when Americans overwhelmingly support marriage equality it takes a very special person like Ms. Gallagher to stand up and fight for discriminations and bigotry. It’s gratifying to be able to draw attention to the unrelenting hatred that Ms. Gallagher and others at the National Organization for Marriage have been contributing to American life.”

At the Congressional hearing, GetEQUAL was able to present Ms. Gallagher with an award certificate, which will be accompanied at a later date with a prize in honor of the award’s namesake – a cream pie. Harkening back to an incident in 1977, the award is given in commemoration of the “pieing” of Anita Bryant – then the leader of Save Our Children. Video of the incident can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dS91gT3XT_A.

“I have seen the video of the four ‘self-proclaimed homosexuals’ who delivered the pie to Anita Bryant in 1977,” said Michael Dixon, a GetEQUAL activist. “It is truly an honor to walk in their footsteps as GetEQUAL recognizes and rewards the tireless efforts of Ms. Gallagher – the woman who has picked up the mantle of hatred and prejudice from Ms. Bryant – and worked so hard to promote bigotry and discrimination against an entire class of American citizens. I hope we can unite her with her pie as soon as possible – I have always believed that bigots should get their just desserts.”

GetEQUAL will deliver the pie prize during a future public appearance by Ms. Gallagher, to ensure that she is able to celebrate the award publicly, in front of an audience. The exact moment of delivery is unknown at this time.

Founded in 2010, GetEQUAL is a national grassroots organization whose mission is to empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and our allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information go to http://www.getequal.org. For more information, go to http://www.getequal.org , http://www.facebook.com/getequal , or http://www.twitter.com/getequal.

Laguna Pointe Offers 5 New Fitness Classes

April 12, 2011

Mark your Calendar:
April 16 – “Fitness Kickoff Day”

Tired of big gyms, commitments, and membership fees? Looking for a more personal, boutique, studio environment? Laguna Pointe has free fitness classes for you to try. Try one or take them all. Call to reserve the class or classes you would like to attend.

Beginning April 22, Laguna Pointe is offering 5 exciting new fitness classes.

Class Menu –
ZUMBA -Come and experience the hottest danced-based class on the planet right now. Zumba combines Latin and international music with a fun and effective work-out. Where the moves are simple to pick up and you feel like you’ve just joined a party rather than a fitness class. Come find out why women have become addicts to this class. Join the hip-shaking party!!

CARDIO KICKBOXING – Burn calories, melt fat, and have a blast doing it to music that keeps you moving. Shed those unwanted pounds with a heart pounding workout and get fit like never before.

MAT PILATES – The teachings of Joseph Pilates reach a new level in this fun and exciting class. This class will strengthen your core, sculpt and tone your arms and legs, all while giving you improved balance.

ALL IN ONE FITNESS – Finally, a fitness class that has it all. This power packed class combines strength, conditioning, and cardio designed to tone and sculpt lean muscle.

GENTLE YOGA – This is a slower paced yoga class, ideal for those new to yoga, and those with health concerns such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain conditions, weight management, or other manageable diseases where exercise is advised.

Once you decide which class is for you, or perhaps you would like to attend several different classes, we offer the following packages:
6 Sessions for $72.00

Choose the class that you prefer and attend once per week for 6 weeks. 12 Sessions for $144.00.

If you cannot decide which class you want to attend and/or would like to mix and match, this package gives you the freedom to do so. As a bonus for purchasing this package, you will receive one free personal training session valued at $50.00

Personal Training by Appointment
4 one hour sessions for $175.00
1 hour single session for $50.00

Contact: lagunapointespa@gmail.com or call 717-458-5096

Equality Pennsylvania Announces Endorsements for May 17 Primary

April 12, 2011

3 Local Candidates Make List

Today Equality Pennsylvania announced its statewide candidate endorsements for the May 17, 2011 Primary election.

Three local candidates made the list: John C. Campbell, Harrisburg City Treasurer, Democrat; Michael Fedor, Cumberland County Commissioner, Democrat; and Brad Koplinski, Harrisburg City Council, Democrat.

“This was a terrific process with a strong pool of interested candidates from which to select,” noted Board president, Brian Sims. “We used questionnaires and interviews to come to our decisions, and I think our endorsements provide a unique mix of candidates from across the political spectrum and state. The goal of Equality Pennsylvania is to help elect lgbt people and allies to office everywhere. This is just the beginning.”

The complete list of endorsed candidates includes:

Det Ansinn – Bucks County Commissioner, Democrat
Geoffrey Brace – Lehigh County Commissioner, Democrat
Kathryn Boockvar – Judge, Commonwealth Court, Democrat
John C. Campbell – Harrisburg City Treasurer, Democrat
Dan Clifford – Judge – 38th Judicial District, Republican
Sherrie Cohen – Philadelphia City Council, At Large, Democrat
Geraldine Delevich – New Hope Borough Council, Democrat
Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia – Bucks County Commissioner, Democrat
Jeanette Eichenwald – Allentown City Council, Democrat
Casey Evans – Luzerne County Council, Democrat
Michael Fedor – Cumberland County Commissioner, Democrat
Joe Grace – Philadelphia City Council – First District, Democrat
Gloria L. Hamm – Lehigh County Commissioner, At Large, Democrat
Brad Koplinski – Harrisburg City Council, Democrat
Malcolm Lazin – Philadelphia City Council, At Large, Republican
Hugh F. McGough – Magisterial District Judge for Magisterial District 05-2-35 (Pittsburgh), Democrat
Lucille Prater-Holliday – Pittsburgh City Council -District 9, Democrat
Marlene Pray – Doylestown Borough Council -Ward 1, Democrat
Blondell Reynolds Brown – Philadelphia City Council, At Large, Democrat
Peter G. Schweyer – Allentown City Council, Democrat
Elinor Warner – Easton City Council, At Large

Info: www.equalitypa.org

Lancaster-born Comic Suzanne Westenhoefer Appears April 16 at Sharadin Bigler Theatre

April 7, 2011

Lancaster-born Suzanne Westenhoefer April 16, Sharadin Bigler Theatre

How (semi) sweet she is!

Suzanne Westenhoefer slates her third homecoming funfest April 16 for the Sharadin Bigler Theatre.

Twenty years after bursting onto the comedy club scene as America’s first out lesbian comic, Suzanne Westenhoefer is still wowing audiences with inappropriately candid – and hilariously unique captures of this wild ride known as life.

From airline nightmares to unblushingly outrageous confessionals, Suzanne has kept her comedy star in orbit in clubs from coast to coast, as well as winning awards for her many cds and dvds. But of all the gigs she plays, Suzanne always saves a little something special for her hometown fans here in Lancaster County, PA, where she is making her third concert appearance at the Sharadin Bigler Theatre at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 16.

Her first two gigs for the theatre were sold out sensations, including last year’s appropriately titled “Totally Inappropriate.” She’s coming back armed with more new salvos of laugh-your-butt-off observations of the human condition, including some bull’s eye material aimed straight at the funny bone of the LGBT community.

“I’m calling the new show ‘Semi-Sweet’ because there’s a lot of sweet stuff to talk about…. and a lot of stuff that, well, isn’t.” says Westenhoefer. “The show is cry/laugh funny, and a little bit thought-provoking at the same time. It’s all about the changes that have occurred in my life over the past year. Some have been good… and some not-so-much. I thought the name Semi-Sweet captured that perfectly.”

Tickets for this unpredictable, strictly adult funfest are $35, including a meet and greet wine & cheese reception with Suzanne following the performance. Order reserved seating online at ephrataperformingartscenter.com or call the Sharadin Bigler Theatre box office at (717) 733-7966.

Remember, her first two concerts for were sold out events.

Curve magazine voted Suzanne “America’s Funniest Lesbian” and she has recently appeared in fan-favorite “We Have to Stop Now” (also starring lesbian icons Meredith Baxter, Cathy DeBuono and Jill Bennett). She will also be seen in the upcoming Nicole Conn film “A Perfect Ending” scheduled to begin filming in Spring 2011.

After entering the world of comedy on a dare, Suzanne has been delivering gay material in mainstream clubs to straight audiences and proudly performing within the LGBT community ever since. She became the first openly lesbian comic ever to appear on television in 1991 on an episode of Sally Jesse Raphael entitled “Breaking the Lesbian Stereotype…Lesbians Who Don’t Look Like Lesbians.”

She went on to become the first openly gay comic to host her own HBO Comedy Special in 1994, which earned her a Cable Ace Award nomination. Other television appearances include The Late Show with David Letterman, GSN’s remake of the classic game show, “I’ve Got a Secret” as well as HBO, Bravo and LOGO TV specials. Now beginning her 20th year of side-splitting merriment, she continues to forge new ground while enjoying her well-earned reputation as a pioneer on the lesbian comedy scene.

Suzanne’s GLAMA award-winning specials “Nothing in my Closet but my Clothes,” “I’m Not Cindy Brady” and “Guaranteed Fresh” are all available on DVD, as are her most recent televised specials, “Live from the Village” and “A Bottom on Top.” The first season of the web-series “We Have To Stop Now” is now available on DVD from Wolfe Video.

Prop. 8 Judge Comes Out

April 6, 2011

Prop. 8 Judge Walker

PoliGlot: A Queer Spin on Politics is reporting on a Reuter’s story that Prop 8 judge has come out to reporters.

Walker, Now Retired, Tells Reporters He’s Gay
Posted by Chris Geidner |
April 6, 2011

Now retired, former U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided of the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial over the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, was asked if he is gay and — now — he’s telling. Reporters, at that.

Reuters reports:

The talk to a handful of reporters was Walker’s first public comments to reporters about presiding over the lawsuit challenging to Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California. Walker struck down the ban as unconstitutional, and the case is currently on appeal.

It was also the first time Walker publicly acknowledged his own sexual orientation. Walker said he has been in a relationship with the man for 10 years. “He is a physician,” Walker said.

The San Francisco Chronicle had reported on the “biggest open secret in the landmark trial” way back in Feb 2010, following the close of the presentation of evidence at the Perry trial. As Metro Weekly reported in an article that detailed the many people to have heard rumors about but not reported on Walker’s sexual orientation prior to the Chronicle column’s publication:

Michael Triplett, a board member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, said in an interview on Thursday that The Reporter’s weighing of the news value versus the privacy of the judge was the usual balancing that goes on with most mainstream media – and even some more established LGBT media – when considering whether to publish such information.

Walker found Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional on Aug. 4, 2010.

Walker also told the reporters today that he never thought about giving up the case because of his sexual orientation:

Former U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who retired from the bench at the end of February, said it would not be appropriate for any judge’s sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin or gender to stop them from presiding over a case.

“That’s a very slippery slope,” Walker said.

The National Organization for Marriage and some others had called for Walker’s recusal.

On Thursday, April 7, the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to consider the nomination of J. Paul Oetken for a judicial nomination in the Southern District of New York. Oetken would be the first out gay male federal judge to serve, if confirmed by the Senate.