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    By Dennis McMillan

    Indianapolis, IN – Mary Cheney Headlines Same-Sex Marriage Fundraiser – 12.11

    The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney came to Indianapolis to help raise money to fight a proposed amendment banning gay marriage.

    Mary Cheney headlined a fundraiser for Freedom Indiana, where tickets ranged from $30 to $5,000. Cheney is a married lesbian who supports same-sex marriage throughout the nation. Dick Cheney also seems to support same-sex marriage – or at least his daughter’s gay marriage.

    “No one should be denied the fundamental liberties we all deserve,” Mary Cheney wrote in a fundraising appeal sent prior to her appearance.

    Cheney has recently been fighting publicly with her sister, a conservative Republican running for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming. Senate candidate Liz Cheney recently said earlier that she continues to believe marriage should be limited to being between one man and one woman. Cheney is seeking to oust U.S. Senator Mike Enzi in next year’s Republican primary.

    However, in Indiana, the fight is not over legalizing gay marriage, but rather strengthening and expanding the state’s existing ban on gay marriage. Lawmakers are considering a measure that would add the state ban to the constitution, but also expand it to bar future approval of civil unions or employer benefits for same-sex couples.

    Supporters of the strengthened ban say it is needed to block a judge from potentially overturning state law, while opponents say it would drive new businesses from locating in Indiana.

    If approved during the upcoming legislative session, the measure would head to Indiana voters for approval, which has the potential to turn 2014 into a high-dollar, national battle.

    One wonders whether the homophobic Mormon and Catholic zealots will pour as much money into defeating marriage equality in Indiana as they did in California.

    Source: edgeonthenet.com

     

    NYC, NY – Free & Equal Releases Video on 65th Anniversary of Adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights – 12.10

    Free & Equal, the United Nations campaign for LGBTQ equality, released “A History of LGBT Rights at the UN,” a short info-graphic video telling the story of LGBTQ rights at the UN in honor of International Human Rights Day, December 10. This year’s Human Rights Day marked the 65th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly in 1948, which states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

    To view the informational, inspirational film, go to unfe.org/human-rights-day.

    The short video was screened at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the 10th of December at a Human Rights Day event with speakers including tennis legend Martina Navratilova, NBA star Jason Collins, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, and human rights activists from Russia, South Africa and the USA.

    “The history of human rights at the United Nations is as old as the institution itself,” said Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the UN. “Today we remember where we came from and redouble our efforts to create a world in which no one is discriminated against because of who they are or whom they love.”

    The video includes the instrumental version of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s hit song “Same Love,” which was generously donated by the artists who also serve as Free & Equal equality champions.

    The Free & Equal campaign aims to raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, and encourages greater respect for the rights of LGBTQ people everywhere. The campaign was launched in Cape Town, South Africa, on July 27 at an event featuring Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and South Africa Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron.

    Three cheers for Macklemore and Lewis!

    Source: unfe.org

    Hollywood, CA – “Biggest Loser” Trainer Comes Out as Gay – 11.27

    On a recent episode of NBC’s weight-losing reality show The Biggest Loser, trainer Bob Harper publicly came out in order to help a contestant, who was struggling with coming out to his family. Harper told a contestant named Bobby that he was gay, hoping to encourage him to come out to his family, especially his father.

    “I haven’t talked about my sexuality on this show ever,” Harper said on the show. “And now, meeting Bobby, I really do believe this is the right time. I want to show Bobby that he doesn’t have to live in shame.”

    Harper then shared his coming out story to Bobby and the viewers, saying, “When I came out, when I was 17 years old, it was one of those things where I realized that there was going to be so many obstacles, but being gay doesn’t mean being weak. And being gay doesn’t mean that you are less than anybody else. It’s just who you are.”

    Harper encouraged Bobby to come out to his dad, believing that his dad would support and love him for who he was. Bobby said the trainer’s words and story were inspirational. While that talk hasn’t happened yet – at least as far as we know – Bobby did say that Bob’s encouragement has given him the push to do it.

    Soon after the episode aired, fans lauded Harper on Twitter for coming out and encouraging Bobby to be open to his family.

    “Thank you to everyone that supported my decision to talk about being gay with Bobby,” Harper tweeted. “I felt like it was appropriate and necessary. LOVE Y’ALL!!”

    And we love YOU, Bob, you hot gay hunk!

    Source: edgeonthenet.com

    Morehead, KY – Kentucky City Council Unanimously Approves LGBT Fairness Law – 12.9

    Following a three-month process devoid of community opposition, the Morehead City Council unanimously approved an anti-discrimination Fairness Ordinance, extending discrimination protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. The Eastern Kentucky city of 6,845, home to Morehead State University, is now the sixth in the commonwealth to extend civil rights protections based on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

    Through Fairness Coalition efforts, the number of Kentucky cities with LGBT Fairness ordinances has doubled in 2013 alone, adding victories in the Appalachian town of Vicco (January 2013) and the state’s capital Frankfort (August 2013) to pre-existing laws in Covington (2003), Lexington (1999), and Louisville (1999).

    Begun in September by members of the Rowan County Chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, the grassroots movement to pass a Fairness Law in Morehead received unanimous civic support from its introduction – a reflection of current polling that shows 83% of all registered Kentucky voters support simple anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Similar grassroots movements span nearly a dozen other Kentucky cities, including Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Owensboro, Shelbyville, and Berea, where the city council has appointed a task force to draft a local Fairness Law.

    Despite tremendous municipal progress across the commonwealth, Kentucky’s General Assembly has yet to hold a hearing on a statewide Fairness Law, which has been introduced for more than 15 years. Coalition leaders are hopeful Morehead and other cities’ movements will inspire a debate on Rep. Mary Lou Marzian’s (D-Louisville) statewide Fairness Bill in the House Judiciary Committee in 2014. More than 25 percent of Kentucky residents now live in a city with LGBT Fairness.

    The Fairness Coalition consists of members and allies of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, Fairness Campaign, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, and Lexington Fairness – all working together.

    It seems only fair.

    Source: fairness.org 

    Washington D.C. – Social Security to Process Survivor Benefits for Same-Sex Couples – 12.16

    The Obama administration announced the latest new policy in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling against Defense of Marriage Act: the Social Security Administration will now begin processing survivor’s benefits for certain married same-sex couples.

    Carolyn Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security, said that benefits will begin to flow to the surviving spouses of same-sex marriages – at least in some cases – in the same way they flow to survivors of opposite-sex marriages.

    “Social Security is processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due,” Colvin said. “In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum death benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses.”

    In August, the Social Security Administration announced similar policy on new benefits for same-sex couples in the aftermath of the court ruling on DOMA. But the announcement months ago pertained to retirement benefits, unlike the announcement Monday regarding survivor benefits.

    But there’s a caveat to the new policy for a survivor of a same-sex marriage if both individuals in the relationship moved to a non-marriage equality state. Claims for survivor benefits or the one-time lump sum death benefit from in this situation will be placed on hold. Social Security law looks to the state of residence, not the state of celebration, in determining whether a same-sex couple is married.

    However, a person in a same-sex marriage living in a non-marriage equality state is eligible for the one-time lump sum death benefit if the other person in the relationship died while living in another state that recognizes same-sex marriage.

    Although the Social Security Administration is placing certain claims on hold, Colvin encourages all individuals who believe they may be eligible for Social Security “to apply now to protect against the loss of any potential benefits.”

    Social Security helps secure equality!

    Source: washingtonblade.com

    Local News


    Bay Area Education Leaders Support School Success and Opportunity Act

    Local school boards and communities continue their progress towards implementing the School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266), which Governor Brown signed earlier this year. The new law restates existing anti-discrimination law to ensure that all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to fully participate and succeed in schools.

    The Marin County Board of Education resolution noted that, “due to lack of awareness of how to support transgender students in some school districts, transgender students are often improperly excluded from participating in school-based activities, programs and facilities … [which] isolates and stigmatizes transgender students, puts them at increased risk of harassment and violence, harms their long term health and wellbeing, and often prevents them from earning the credits they need to graduate.”

    Marin County’s actions were followed by a vote of the Berkeley Unified School District to adopt a new policy to provide a, “safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environment for all students, including transgender students … in all school activities, programs, facilities, and educational opportunities.” Sacramento City Unified School District will consider a similar measure this week.

    The School Success and Opportunity Act is poised to take effect in 2014, and to ensure that school administrators understand their responsibility for the success and wellbeing of all students, and parents and students understand their rights. The Support All Students coalition, comprising Equality California, Transgender Law Center, GSA Network, National Center for Lesbian Rights and the ACLU, thanked the educators for their support of this historic bill.

    “All students deserve the same opportunity to study and learn in a safe environment, including transgender students,” said John O’Connor, executive director of Equality California. “We’re excited to see leaders in education stand up in support of the School Success and Opportunity Act and for acknowledging that all students deserve a fair shot at success.”

    Of course homophobic organizations everywhere are trying to stop AB 1266.

    Story by Dennis McMillan

    Castro Country Club in Renovation; Announces Winter Schedule

    The Castro Country Club is a clean and sober gathering place for all people and a home for the queer recovery community. Since April 1983, the Castro Country Club has been a safe haven for LGBTQ people in recovery from drugs and alcohol. As of November 16, 2012, the Castro Country Club is fiscally sponsored by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

    Castro County Club would like to get the word out that they are not closed, but are renovating the Club in phases in order to minimize any impact on the community they serve.

    “There have been some changes to our plans as the work progresses, and we appreciate your patience and understanding,” says Castro Country Club Manager Terry Beswick.

    Here follows their current remodel schedule: Now through Dec. 19, the front room is closed for renovations. All groups are asked to meet temporarily in the café room. Dec. 20 through Jan. 1, the front room and café will be open through the holidays during their usual hours of operations for meetings and fellowship. The back deck will remain closed Jan. 2 through Feb. 28, and the front room will be open while the café, restroom, and back patio will be closed for renovations. Books will be available for sale on a limited basis.

    Approximately the first of March, the remodeled Castro Country Club will re-launch with a new open design, a new menu, and improved services.

    “We need your support,” says Beswick. “Please consider making a donation to the Castro Country Club to help offset lost café revenue during this renovation project.”

    Any tax-deductible donations will be gratefully accepted at castrocountryclub.org.

    For a very sober holiday, CCC is offering marathon meetings Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, Tuesdays, 7am to 12 midnight at 4058 18th Street. Also, there is a Christmas Fellowship Potluck, 1:30 to 5pm. Bring something to share; bring your chosen family; bring a newcomer. All are welcome.

    Story by Dennis McMillan