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    Meridian, MS – Satanists Turn Founder of Westboro Baptist Church’s Dead Mom Gay – 7.1

    The Satanic Temple, a burgeoning community of worship devoted to the Dark Lord, has performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of homophobic Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps Jr.’s mother. The Pink Mass is a Satanic ritual performed after death that turns the deceased’s straight spirit into a queer one: it’s not unlike the Mormon practice of baptizing the dead, only much gayer.

    The Satanic Temple went to the Phelps family graveyard in Mississippi to perform the ritual. Two Pink Masses were performed: one with a female couple and another with men. Lucien Greaves, the Temple’s spokesperson and officiator of the ceremony, has an official website, westboro-baptist.com.

    The idea for the mass came about when the WBC announced their intention to protest the funerals of the Boston bombing victims. The church never showed up, but later issued a statement saying they were there “in spirit.” As is always the case when WBC does or says anything, both the initial plans and the subsequent statement pissed off everyone in the world, including Satanists. And so, the Satanic Temple decided that a ceremony celebrating same-sex couples “at the gravesite of Fred Phelps’ mother was an appropriate way to meet the Westboro Baptists, ‘in spirit,’ but this time on our terms.”

    Now the spirit of Catherine Idalette Johnston is officially into other women – meaning her gravesite is a viable target for one of her son’s “God hates fags” protests.

    Will the Temple perform Pink Masses on any other deceased members of the homo-hating Phelps family? “We haven’t gayed Fred’s father yet, or his great-aunt,” Greaves said. Meanwhile Fred himself is getting pretty old, and could be getting a Pink Mass himself before long. One can only pray.

    Source: vice.com

     

    New York, NY – Freedom to Marry Ramps Up for Big Push – 7.22

    Shortly after rolling out the “Roadmap to Victory – Finishing the Job,” an ambitious movement plan for the next push in the campaign to win marriage nationwide, Freedom to Marry announced a new development director as part of its commitment to raising the high cost required for victory. Juan Barajas, formerly the director of philanthropy at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and deputy director of development at GLAAD, will oversee the campaign’s call to raise millions of dollars to be strategically channeled into public education, state campaigns and federal work. Barajas has nearly 15 years’ experience in nonprofit management, fund development and work dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ community.

    “As Freedom to Marry propels our movement forward with our Roadmap to Victory winning strategy, we have called on others to step up and help us do the heavy lifting and meet the hefty price-tag victory will require,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. “We are upping our game, too, and part of our ramp up is bringing on seasoned fundraiser Juan Barajas to spearhead the smart and effective fundraising needed to get the job done.” He added, “Fresh from wins in the states and at the Supreme Court, it’s time to redouble our efforts and finish the job – multiplying the number of Americans who live in freedom to marry states, growing national public support beyond 60%, and fully ending federal marriage discrimination.”

    “Following June’s historic Supreme Court victories, I knew I wanted to make a difference and be part of the next chapter in the campaign to win marriage nationwide,” said Barajas. “I want to make sure the next wave of needed campaigns have the resources they need to win.”

    37 more to go!

    Source: freedomtomarry.org

     

    San Diego, CA – California Tells Court to Reject San Diego Clerk’s Prop H8 Bid – 7.23

    California’s chief law enforcement officer urged the state high court to refuse once again to stop same-sex marriages while the justices consider a legal bid to revive Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage.

    Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, responding to a request filed by San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg Jr., told California’s top court that stopping gays from marrying now would amount to an unconstitutional interference with a federal court order. “The public interest weighs sharply against issuing a stay in this case,” Harris’ office argued. “After years of litigation, there is now a final determination that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”

    Dronenburg urged the California Supreme Court to rule that Gov. Jerry Brown and other statewide officials lack supervisory powers over elected county clerks. Harris suggested that her legal analysis prodded the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to take “the extraordinary step” of removing a legal hold on same-sex marriage before a June 26 Supreme Court decision became final.

    The San Diego clerk’s petition was the second challenge to same-sex marriage filed since the high court ruled that the sponsors of Prop 8 had no legal right or “standing” to appeal. Supporters of Prop 8 contend that the injunction applied at most to two counties – Los Angeles and Alameda – because they were the only two counties named in the injunction. Harris countered that the injunction applied statewide because it also ordered Brown and other statewide officials to stop enforcing Prop 8, and those officials have authority over county clerks.

    The California Supreme Court unanimously rejected a request by the sponsors of Prop 8 to put a hold on the marriages and also turned down Dronenburg’s bid. Will Prop H8ers EVER give up?!

    Source: latimes.com

     

    Rural, NC – Young Undocumented Gay’s Dreams are Bigger Than the Klan – 7.16

    As the House continues its conversation about immigration reform, the story of one of the activists in North Carolina, Moises Serrano, can help push immigration reform over the finish line – and to ensure that we get a good bill from the House that will uplift and help folks like Serrano from coast to coast.

    Serrano came to America when he was two years old. As he moved through public school, he knew that he was different than his classmates. Not only was he hiding that he was undocumented, but also that he
    was gay.

    Living in rural North Carolina, his whole life was dictated by the closet. “I hid who I was; I hid my immigration status; I hid everything about myself from everyone around me,” he said. “It wasn’t until I met folks who were ‘out’ about their sexual orientation or their immigration status that I found the courage to tell my mom I was gay.”

    “I live in Klan country – coming out as gay and/or as undocumented was a dangerous thing to do for myself, and also for my family,” Serrano said. But he found courage in the small community of folks who were organizing to make changes in his area, “and I find courage each day because I desperately want to ensure that my mother, who has since become my rock and my biggest advocate, can live up to her full potential via a pathway to citizenship.”

    He needs Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform. “I want for other LGBTQ undocumented folks like me to be able to raise their heads up high and no longer live in the shadows,” he said. He urges others like him to visit salsalabs.com and tell their stories.

    Source: getequal.org

     

    Washington D.C. – Investigation Concludes Government Agency Discriminated Against Transgender Job Applicant – 7.16

    Mia Macy’s case has changed the legal landscape for transgender employees. Macy won her case after the investigation conducted by the Department of Justice determined she was unlawfully discriminated against by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).

    Macy, an experienced police detective who worked alongside ATF employees doing ballistics-tracking work, was trained on ATF’s computer systems. The agency had offered Macy a job as a ballistics technician, but rescinded the job offer after she told them that she was transgender.

    Macy’s case, filed with the assistance of Transgender Law Center, resulted in a landmark ruling by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stating that Title VII, the federal sex discrimination law, protects employees who are discriminated against because they are transgender or gender non-conforming. After the EEOC’s ruling, the Department of Justice investigated Macy’s claim, and found that she was indeed discriminated against.

    “We’re thrilled for Mia that justice has been served, and we are incredibly proud to have worked with her to change the legal landscape for transgender Americans moving forward,” said TLC Legal Director Ilona Turner. “This is truly historic. Employers everywhere need to understand that they will be held accountable if they discriminate against transgender people.”

    “It’s a victory for all transgender people to know that we have a voice, that we have recourse, and that when it comes to workplace protections we deserve to make a living,” Macy said.

    The Department of Justice’s 51-page decision ordered ATF to re-offer Macy the job and awarded her back pay with interest and other compensatory damages. The decision also ordered ATF to take action to ensure no future employees or job applicants are discriminated against on the basis of gender identity. That’s a big win!

    Source: meltwaterpress.com

     

    Local News Briefs

    Transgender Law Center Hires Deputy Director and Staff Attorney

    Transgender Law Center in San Francisco has hired Kris Hayashi, deputy director, and Sasha Buchert, staff attorney, to their growing team. They both have extensive experience in LGBTQ and social justice movements. “We look forward to working together to create a world in which everyone can live free from discrimination based on their gender identity or expression,” says Executive Director Masen Davis.

    Hayashi has been active in social, racial and economic justice organizing for over 20 years. For the last ten years he served as the executive director/co-director of the Audre Lorde Project, a LGBTQ, two-spirit and gender nonconforming, people of color organizing center based in New York City. Previously he served as a trainer/organizer at Western States Center in Portland, Oregon, and as executive director of Youth United for Community Action – a youth organizing group in California, led by young people of color organizing for social and environmental justice.

    Buchert is joining TLC from Basic Rights Oregon, the state’s chief LGBTQ advocacy organization where she was the communications manager, and most recently the transgender policy organizer. She is a member of Basic Rights Oregon’s legal advisory group where she has worked on a wide range of transgender policy issues, and is a member of the Transgender Justice Working Group, a group of community members driving transgender justice forward in the state. She is a board member of the LGBT Bar Association of Oregon, and is the current chair of the Oregon State Hospital Advisory Board and is the first openly transgender person to be appointed to an Oregon state board. Buchert often presents “Know Your Rights” talks addressing LGBTQ legal rights and hosts a community radio program focused on queer culture. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Willamette University.

    Story by Dennis McMillan

     

    Feeling Alone? Click Your Mouse to Anonymouse

    AnonyMouse, a Bay Area startup recently founded by Aaron Moy and Aashay Desai, is the latest safe place to discuss LGBTQ issues anonymously. If someone feels alone, mentors have people that have been through what they’ve been through. Their mentors have grown up in the Midwest, are active duty military, are transgender and/or have been elite level athletes. This is the place to find a particular mentor. They say they are not a website that wants your information. In fact, the less information they have about you, the better.

    They list what they are not: a website to discuss suicide or abuse (visit the Trevor Project for that); not a medically certified website; not a dating or sex website; and not a website designed to connect mentors to users outside the scope of AnonyMouse. All conversations are to remain within the confines of this website. AnonyMouse (www.anonymou.se) will revolutionize the way people seek anonymous help.

    They focus on online and mobile-based communications. The impetus for AnonyMouse was born out of Moy’s own struggles. As a closeted athlete in college with a long-term girlfriend, he struggled with finding someone to talk to while in the closet. He needed advice, but nothing anonymous existed that didn’t involve sex, dating or crises.

    He ended up turning to Craigslist to find a mentor. Obviously a dangerous move in retrospect, it seemed like the only option at the time. Fast forward a few years, and he realized the service he never had still didn’t exist. So he created AnonyMouse to prevent future generations from resorting to similarly dangerous methods. He hopes that AnonyMouse will help alleviate issues so that no one will feel as alone as he once did.

    Story by Dennis McMillan