Posted: June 28, 2007 - 1:00 pm ET
(London) The British military this week issued a blanket apology to all gay and lesbian members of the armed forces who drummed out of the services because of their sexuality.
In 2000 the military ended its ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military- more than 30 years after homosexuality was decriminalized in the UK.
But up until 2000 the armed forces discharged hundreds of gays and lesbians. It even had a special investigative unit to root out suspected homosexuals.
Since then the various branches of the military have embarked on a policy of inclusion. Last year the Royal Navy hired LGBT rights group Stonewall to advise it. But a survey conducted for the navy the same year still found widespread homophobia. (story)
Twenty percent of respondents said they did not want to serve alongside gays or lesbians.
This week the man in charge of equality training for the Ministry of Defense, Wing Commander Phil Sagar, apologized for the persecution that gays and lesbians had suffered prior to 2000.
"We’re sorry for anyone who has suffered personal trauma," Sagar told the BBC.
"Our challenge is to create an environment where there is a genuine freedom from harassment and discrimination. We’re only seven years down the trail . . . I guess there’s still some way to go."
In the years since Great Britain ended the ban on gays serving in the military the government has paid out more than $1.6 million to servicemembers drummed out of the services.
The figures represent 24 former servicemembers who threatened court action over their dismissal after the removal of the ban in 2000. More than 50 claims are still pending.
On Saturday LGBT members of the Royal Navy will be taking part in a Gay Pride march in London, all of them wearing their uniform. Members of the Army and the RAF have been banned from wearing their uniform at pride events.
The United States is the only major Western power to bar gays from serving openly in the military, under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
A public opinion poll conducted in the US last month found that 79 percent support gays serving openly in the military.
In February, legislation was reintroduced in Congress to repeal DADT. (story)
Two lawsuits challenging DADT are underway. One, by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is underway in federal court in Boston and a second, by Log Cabin Republicans, is before a federal court in California. (story)
Posted: June 28, 2007 - 10:00 am ET
(Los Angeles, California) Three former leaders of an international ministry that counsels gays to change their sexual orientation apologized for their efforts, saying that though they acted sincerely, their message had caused isolation, shame and fear.
The former leaders of the interdenominational Christian organization Exodus International said Wednesday they had all, over time, become disillusioned with the group's ideas and concerned about what they described as the wrenching human toll of such gay conversion efforts.
"Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families," the three, including former Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee, said in a joint written statement presented at a news conference in Hollywood. "Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear and loss of faith that this message creates."
The news conference was held in a courtyard outside an office of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. It was timed to coincide with the opening of Exodus' annual conference, which is being held this week at Concordia University in Irvine and expected to draw about 1,000 people.
Exodus' president, Alan Chambers, said he disagreed with its critics and the ministry's methods have helped many people, including him.
"Exodus is here for people who want an alternative to homosexuality," Chambers said by phone. "There are thousands of people like me who have overcome this. I think there's room for more than one opinion on this subject, and giving people options isn't dangerous."
Bussee left Exodus in 1979 after he fell in love with a man who was a fellow ex-gay counselor with the group. He speaks out frequently against ex-gay therapies.
The others speaking at the news conference included Jeremy Marks, former president of Exodus International Europe, and Darlene Bogle, the founder and former director of Paraklete Ministries, an Exodus referral agency based in Hayward, California.
Chambers, who is married and has children, said he and other current Exodus officials are careful to warn those who seek help that such a path is not easy.
Sexual orientation, he said, "isn't a light switch that you can switch on and off."
Founded in 1976, the Orlando, Florida-based Exodus has grown to include more than 120 local ministries in the United States and Canada and over 150 ministries in 17 other countries. The group has monthly newsletters, annual conferences, speaking engagements and Web services. It promotes "freedom from homosexuality" through prayer, counseling and group therapy.
Posted: June 28, 2007 - 8:00 am ET
(Denver, Colorado) U.S. Roman Catholic bishops began a campaign this week to strengthen the institution of marriage by encouraging spouses to perform simple day-to-day gestures for one other.
The campaign, a series of radio and television spots, is part of a broader effort to bring a greater Catholic voice to the debate over the meaning of marriage.
The spots show ordinary people in parks and other public places answering the question "What have you done for your marriage today?" The answers - waking up early with the baby, organizing a date night - are meant to promote small acts of kindness as medicine for making marriages last a lifetime.
Missing from the spots is any overt religious message, although they are identified as Catholic and end with an invitation to visit http://www.foryourmarriage.org . The Web site promises resources for Catholic and non-Catholic couples on everything from conflict resolution to finances.
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, a member of the bishops' committee on marriage and family life, said the spots deliberately avoid religion to reach a wide audience.
"Both marriage and family are necessary for the common good of society," he said. "When either institution weakens, all of us suffer the consequences. When both marriage and family grow stronger, all of us benefit."
The $600,000 marketing campaign was introduced in Denver to coincide with the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers conference underway here. The media spots are not paid advertisements, but public service announcements available to TV, radio and cable outlets.
U.S. Catholic bishops and conservative evangelicals have found common ground opposing same-sex marriage since it has emerged as a political issue.
But the bishops' National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage - which runs through 2011 and of which the marketing campaign is a part - seeks to branch beyond gay marriage and combat other trends that church leaders deem disturbing. That includes a declining marriage rate, more people living together outside of marriage and the prevalence of divorce.
"I don't think this is a political maneuver against gay marriage," said Timothy Muldoon, director of The Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College. "Many bishops see this issue of marriage broadly as having significant impact on the well-being of a good society, not to mention an impact on the church. There is no hiding the fact that Catholics are Catholics because they were raised that way, people who choose to bring their children to church."
The bishops' larger marriage initiative, set in motion in 2004 and still in the research and development stages, aims to promote marriage as both "a human institution and a Christian sacrament." Plans call for improving parish marriage ministries, a pastoral letter and working in the legal and political arenas to "promote, strengthen and protect marriage."
Perhaps anticipating one criticism, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops emphasizes that married couples have played a key role in the initiative, both through focus groups and continued consultation.
"In spite of what the public reaction or perception might be, it isn't just a bunch of celibate men who are behind all of this," said John Grabowski, an associate professor of theology and religious studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington and a consultant on the project.
Grabowski acknowledged other challenges, including lingering mistrust created by the clergy sexual abuse crisis that exploded in 2002.
"It certainly has become harder for people with those funny collars on to get up and talk publicly about sexuality and marriage because the immediate cynical reaction on the part of some people is, 'Who are you to tell us about morality and sexual relationships?'" he said. "You can't deny that's in the background here."
Posted: June 28, 2007 - 5:00 pm ET
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) An officer who ordered two women to put on a "sex show" in a jail cell will be fired.
Norberto Cappas, 32, was found guilty by a police tribunal of conduct unbecoming an officer and lying during a departmental investigation and will lose his job following a 30-day suspension, the department said.
Internal Affairs investigators found that Cappas ordered the two women to kiss and touch each other and expose their breasts in September 2003.
The two had been picked up on suspicion of drug possession, but they had no drugs and were not charged with a crime.
Cappas has denied wrongdoing and refused to talk to a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter seeking comment.
The case sat idle for years until the Inquirer raised questions about it last year.
One of the women filed a civil lawsuit and was awarded $17,500.
The city's own lawyers concluded that she never should have been detained in the first place.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 - FreeMarketNews.com
Click Here For The Full Story
MORE GAYS STAND UP IN CENSUS by Harley Dennett
Gay and lesbian couples are increasingly making themselves known according to latest Census figures unveiled yesterday.
The 25 percent jump in same-sex couples from 2001 has reignited a debate about a specific question on sexuality in future surveys.
More than 24,00 same-sex couples identified their relationships in the 2006 Census, but even the Australian Bureau of Statistics admits the community is underreported.
An ABS spokesman said it was important to note that same-sex data from the Census had limitations, including a reluctance to identify and lack of knowledge that same-sex relationships would be counted.
“We also understand some people will worry about privacy, such as not feeling comfortable revealing that information in smaller towns where the Census collector would be known to the person,” the spokesman said.
Gay And Lesbian Equality spokesman Rod Swift said there would always be underreporting, but the figures were continuing to improve.
“It gets larger every time there’s a Census. We haven’t had a 25 percent increase in the population, same-sex couples are just more willing to identify themselves,” he said.
“It’s starting to show how many couples are being affected by discrimination in laws identified by the Human Rights Commission.” (Full story: page 3)
Swift called for the Australian Bureau of Statistics to consider a question on sexuality to identify gay and lesbian people who were not in relationships or not living with their partner.
“As more states allow civil unions, registration or de facto recognition, allowing same-sex couples to report that as part of the question on marriage would make things much easier,” he said.
NSW continued to report the largest number of same-sex couples, but also the smallest increase, up 15.1 percent to 9724 couples. Queensland had the highest increase, up 57 percent to 8285 couples.
“The changes between 2001 and 2006 look like more people are reporting in states outside NSW where law reforms have gone through,” Swift said.
“We’re looking for future results which show how many of these couples have children.”
The gay and lesbian health sector has called for the government to include more explicit questions on sexuality in official demographic research so the community’s needs would no longer be ignored.
“However there is a strange reluctance to do so. One reason we have been given previously is that the inclusion of a question like this would offend some people,” Acon President Adrian Lovney said.
“There are literally tonnes of research and data on health issues affecting the Australian community but this material tells us little about the health of gay and lesbian communities because none of this research includes a basic sexuality question.”
The 2001 Census reported a 91 percent increase in same-sex couples over 1996.
By Aron Blake
June 28, 2007
A large nationwide poll of Republican voters shows that an increasing number consider themselves conservative, that about half favor universal healthcare and allowing gays in the military, and that the vast majority say spreading democracy shouldn’t be the United States’ top foreign policy goal.
The poll, conducted by GOP consultant Tony Fabrizio 10 years after he conducted a similar study, also casts some doubts on the conventional wisdom about moral-issues voters, thought to be the key constituency for President Bush in 2004. It showed that the group hasn’t grown significantly in recent years and is surprisingly willing to vote for former New York
Mayor Rudy Giuliani despite his differences with it on social and moral issues.
The survey of 2,000 self-described Republican voters, titled “The Elephant Looks in the Mirror 10 Years Later,” showed that 71 percent consider themselves conservative, a 16 percent increase over the 1997 numbers.
Fifty-one percent of the GOPers said universal healthcare coverage should be a right of every American, and 49 percent favored allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
Those two issues continue to divide the party, though, with more than 40 percent opposed to both. Fabrizio emphasized that “the devil is in the details” on healthcare, and that providing a plan that pleases the entire 51 percent would be difficult.
Nearly four in five Republicans said that U.S. foreign policy should be based on protecting economic and national security interests, versus 16 percent who preferred basing it on spreading democracy.
Fabrizio described it as a test of support for the “Bush Doctrine.”
“We’re not about spreading democracy around the world; we’re about doing what’s best for us,” Fabrizio said. “Even the [pro-Iraq war] ‘Bush hawks’ don’t buy it.”
“Bush hawks” was one of seven groups into which the survey categorized voters. The others were “moralists,” “government knows best Republicans,” “Dennis Miller Republicans,” “fortress America Republicans,” “heartland Republicans” and “free marketeers.”
The “moralist” section of the party — those focused overwhelmingly on social and moral issues — has grown only slightly since 1997, to just less than a quarter of Republicans.
At the same time, economics-focused “free-marketeer” and “heartland-Republican” voters decreased drastically, from about half to less than 20 percent, while two new foreign policy-focused groups — “Bush hawks” and “fortress America Republicans” — took in most of their ex-members.
The poll provided several insights into Giuliani’s prospects and showed him leading the GOP field in all seven groups into which it broke the party.
Given the choice between leadership and issues, 41 percent of respondents said leadership qualities matter most, while 53 percent said issues are more important. Fabrizio made the case that Giuliani is more focused than others on the leadership segment of the party and that the figures bode well for his candidacy.
Even among “moralists,” 33 percent said they were likely to vote for someone with whom they disagreed on abortion but agreed on many other issues.
Overall, 60 percent of Republicans said they would be likely to vote for a candidate who fits that description.
The poll was conducted in late May and early June. Since then, former Sen. Fred Thompson’s (Tenn.) imminent entry into the GOP field has reduced Giuliani’s lead in other polls.
Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), a key supporter of Bush’s Iraq policy and the troop increase there, actually performed worse among the pro-Iraq “Bush hawks” than he did among Republicans in general. He took 15 percent from “Bush hawks” versus 17 percent overall.
McCain has been falling in the polls in general.
“McCain is being capped in the center of the party by Giuliani, who no question is the favorite of the moderate and liberal elements of the party,” Fabrizio said. “On the right, McCain is getting huge competition from [former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt] Romney, Thompson … and Giuliani.
“He’s not finding a home in either place.”
The “moralist” category was the most undecided group in the presidential contest, perhaps reflective of discontent with the front-runners’ records. Nearly one in five didn’t yet have a presidential preference.
The survey found that one in three has not always been a Republican, while one in four used to be a Democrat.
Three in four maintain that going to war in Iraq was the right decision.
The party has also gotten much older, with 41 percent of Republicans now 55 or older, compared to 28 percent in 1997.
The poll was conducted between May 28 and June 3 by Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates, with half of the surveys conducted online and half over the phone to control for age and other variables.
It's June again. The weather is warming up. It's time to water the lawn, plant the flowers and clean the closets. Oh and did I mention it's time to prance up and down Broadway in size 13, 6" platform pumps while gyrating with a hot pink boa, clad in a leather harness, studded color, white hot pants, glitter and a beehive?
Yes I've come to realize, in my 28 years, that as part of the gay community if you're not a leather daddy, or a candy kid, or a drag queen, or a bear, or dyke on a bike ... you must not be proud of who you are.
I am elated that the gay rights movement has come as far as it has, and I nod my head in acknowledgement that we, as a community, have a long way to go to gain equality. But at the same time, I am ashamed that as we try so hard to express how much we are like everyone else, we take great pride in showing off how different we are.
Our differences make us unique but some of our differences make us flat-out odd. It amazes me that the stereotypes we have fought for decades are spotlighted on Pride Weekend and treated as the norm for the gay community.
I don't fly a rainbow flag off of my garage; I don't feel I need to. Why have we, as a "community," continued on with this tradition? There is not a Seattle African American pride parade. There isn't a Single Mother Pride Parade.
I am all for a Gay History Awareness month, week, day, hour, whatever. I think it is important for everyone to be aware of the important keynotes in the gay rights struggle to get where we are today.
Why can't I be proud without a parade? I don't hide who I am. I work with my husband at a large corporation in downtown Seattle. We are out at work and are comfortable and happy with that. We have a house and four children with fur. We go on trips together, we pay bills together and we contribute to society together.
One day we plan on having a family of our own. And regardless if our children grow up to be straight, gay or bisexual, I'm sure they will be proud of whom they are without the need for a weekend gala of embarrassing stereotypes on display.
Be proud of who you are, regardless of who you are. Don't be afraid to be you, but don't feel that you have to be a stereotype to be you, either.
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: June 27, 2007 - 5:00 pm ET
(Washington) President Bush issued a warning to Congress on Wednesday that he will veto budget appropriations for the District of Columbia unless the measure contains language barring the district from using any of the money for its domestic partner registry.
The registry allows same and opposite-sex unmarried couples to register their relationships.
Three quarters of the District of Columbia's budget comes from local revenue - city taxes and fees. But, about $120 million in additional funds comes from the federal government.
That money is contained in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act.
Under Republicans the legislation stated that none of the federal money could be used to support the partner registry. When Democrats took control of Congress the requirement was removed.
In threatening a veto the White House on Wednesday issued a statement saying: "The Administration strongly opposes the bill’s exclusion of a longstanding provision that disallows the use of Federal funds to register unmarried, cohabitating couples in the District, to enable them to qualify for benefits on the same basis as legally married couples. Under Federal law, legal marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Federal tax dollars are not used to extend employment benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees, and D.C. should not enjoy an exception to this rule."
The Domestic Partner registry includes such partner rights as hospital and nursing home visitations, medical decisions, and inheritance rights.
"With his popularity at an all time low, this President has yet again dipped his cup into the well of anti-gay bigotry," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
"He has issued a veto threat on funding for the District of Columbia because long-term, committed couples want to have such basic rights as visiting each other in the hospital and making medical decisions for their partner. The anti-gay zeal of this Administration has reached a new low."
Gay Democrats seized on the veto threat as another example of wedge politics.
"This is a misleading veto threat designed to parrot the talking points of the anti-gay special interests which control and finance the Republican Party, said National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jo Wyrick,
"President Bush would never threaten to withhold federal funds from California because it employs a domestic partnership registry. Yet, Republicans feel that the District of Columbia is their financial playground that they can use to bully local families at the pleasure of their anti-gay agenda. That is wrong."
The District of Columbia established a local domestic partnership registry in 1992. However, the Republican congressional leadership routinely prevented the registry from being enacted until 2002.
Since that time, the Republican-led Congress have repeatedly attached anti-gay language to past appropriations bills which stipulate that federal funds cannot be used to operate the program. Since local funds are used, observers have noted that the provision was simply used as a way for Republicans to demonstrate their disapproval for the law and for same-sex families.
The removal of the domestic partner provision from the financial services act came at the request of Congressman José Serrano (D-NY) and other Democrats.
"There are serious issues for the country to deal with, yet the President wants to focus on this," said Congressman José Serrano (D-NY) in a statement.
"This was a redundant provision that bashes the District of Columbia. There are no federal funds directed at the domestic partners registry. Its like putting out a statement that says that José Serrano is not a Republican. Yeah, we know that already. I took out this past provision because it is a bad statement that doesn't bring people together, but tries to divide them instead."
Ironically the legislation also provides financial support for federal programs including the salary of the President.
It is the second time in two months the president has threatened a veto over a gay issue.
In May the White House said that if legislation adding gays and lesbians to federal hate crime laws the president would nix it.
by The Associated Press
Posted: June 27, 2007 - 5:00 pm ET
(Santa Ana, California) Buildings used by three Episcopal parishes that broke away from the mother church in a dispute over a gay bishop should be placed under the control of the Los Angeles diocese, an appeals court ruled.
Relying on church law, the state's 4th District Court of Appeal ruled Monday, "The right of the general church in this case to enforce a trust on the local parish property is clear."
But the three judges on the panel made it clear they were staying out of doctrinal disputes.
"Readers will look in vain in this opinion for any indication of what religious controversy may have prompted the disaffiliation," Judge David G. Sills wrote. "That controversy is irrelevant to this action."
The appeals court reversed lower court rulings in favor of the three conservative parishes - St. James Church in Newport Beach, All Saints Church in Long Beach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood.
They pulled out of the six-county Los Angeles Diocese and the 2.3-million member national Episcopal Church in 2004, following the ordination of a gay bishop in the Diocese of New Hampshire. They announced they were placing themselves under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in Uganda.
The Los Angeles Diocese sued to gain control of the properties, arguing that the parishes held their church buildings in trust for the diocese and the national Episcopal Church and were not entitled to them.
The churches argued the diocese's lawsuit to seek control of the properties interfered with the parishioners' freedom of speech. The trial judge said the churches had demonstrated they were being sued for their disagreement with the church's views concerning the consecration of homosexual clergy and also ruled that the local churches owned the property.
Diocese officials were pleased by the decision.
"Now we can get about the business of healing and about the business of being a church. It's been a long ordeal," said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the diocese.
Eric Sohlgren, lead lawyer for the three parishes, said the decision ran counter to 30 years of legal precedent in California.
"What the court said here was that if a hierarchical church wants to take control of local church property, all it has to do is pass a rule," he said.
The parishes will decide soon whether to appeal to the California Supreme Court.