Anti-gay Ark. school board member resigns after FB rant
PLEASANT PLAINS, Ark. — A school board member who urged bullied gay and lesbian youths to “commit suicide” has quit his post, CNN and other media outlets reported this week.
Clint McCance, the vice-president of the Midland School District in Pleasant Plains, Ark., apologized for the comments which caused public outcry. He had posted them on Facebook in response to Spirit Day on Oct. 20, when people were asked to wear purple in recognition of bullied gay youths after several suicide.
McCance apologized on CNN during an interview with Anderson Cooper. He’d written on his Facebook page and said, “Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves,” McCance wrote. “The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I can’t believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin.”
McCance told Cooper his statements were ill-chosen and not indicative of his true feelings. He attributed the posts to a lapse in judgement.
McCance’s comments had been savaged by his peers.
Tom Kimbrell, Arkansas commissioner of education, said, “I strongly condemn the statements that appeared on Mr. Clint McCance’s Facebook page. The divisiveness and disruption of these comments cause me to seriously question the ability of Mr. McCance to remain as an effective member of the Midland School Board.”
A statement signed by Midland School headmaster Dean Stanley, distanced the school from McCance’s remarks but school officials said they didn’t have the authority to fire McCance since he was an elected official.
D.C. gayest U.S. region: report
WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia leads the country in male same-sex households and Massachusetts is tops in lesbian-led homes, Washington Times has reported citing a university-based research center report.
Overall, there were 581,300 gay-couple-headed households in the United States in 2009, the National Center for Marriage & Family Research said in this month’s Family Profiles report, citing data from the 2009 American Community Survey.
This is somewhat smaller than the 594,391 same-sex couples identified in the 2000 census, but potential misclassifications mean “these differences should be interpreted with caution,” the Center report said.
About 26 percent of the nation’s 581,300 gay households, or 152,121, were led by married couples in 2009.
Census Bureau data also showed that, when it came to weddings, lesbians significantly outnumbered gay males — 85,847 to 66,274 or 56 percent to 44 percent. But this broad-based number was less dramatic than other studies that have suggested that lesbians marry at twice the rate of gay men.
Geographically, the report identified about a dozen places where at least one in 10 unmarried couples are gay (whether the gay couples are themselves unmarried or married), the Times article said.
The District came in No. 1 in the nation, with 31 percent of the city’s unmarried couples identifying themselves as same-sex. This high representation was overwhelmingly due to the men — gay male households make up 26 percent of all unmarried households, compared with 4 percent that were led by lesbians.
However, Massachusetts was the top choice of lesbian couples, who represented nearly 8 percent of the state’s unmarried couples. Gay males were about 6 percent of the Bay State’s unmarried households.
The Center’s Family Profiles are summaries of the latest statistics on a variety of family issues. The center was established in 2007 at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, and receives support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
LGBT domestic violence up 15 percent nationwide
CHICAGO — LGBT domestic violence is up 15 percent from 2008 in the U.S. according to a report released last week from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.
The findings — which cite six 2009 murders related to LGBT domestic or intimate partner violence, represents a 50 percent rise since 2007 — come at a time when gay-specific programs are losing staff or closing due to the sluggish economy.
“Member programs face sharp increases in calls from LGBTQ survivors, while sustaining 50 percent or more in cuts to staffing and program closures because of the financial crisis,” said Lisa Gilmore of Chicago’s Center on Halsted Anti-Violence Project. “We know that LGBTQ survivors need specific and culturally competent services to stay safe, and our primary recommendation is that funding for LGBTQ-specific anti-violence programs is needed now more than ever.”
From 2008 to 2009 there was a 99 percent increase in calls for police assistance and a 135 percent increase in arrests, though misarrests and reports of police misconduct also rose dramatically in LGBT households, the report said.
“Police are 10 to 15 times as likely to make a dual arrest in cases of same-sex domestic/intimate partner violence than in heterosexual ones,” said Kelly Clark at the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley’s Community Safety Program. “This report demonstrates the critical need for LGBTQ-specific cultural competency for first responders, such as law enforcement, to prevent re-traumatizing the survivor of violence.”
Chicago Jewish group in spotlight after terror plot
CHICAGO — About two dozen members of the Congregation Or Chadash were enjoying their usual Friday evening dinner before services at their Edgewater neighborhood headquarters when they got the startling news that they were apparently the target of an international terrorist plot, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The small congregation for LGBT Jews that started with an alternative newspaper ad in 1976 had gotten used to a life of relative obscurity — too small with about 100 members to afford its own building or build much of a profile.
How a terrorist in Yemen who’d rigged printer cartridges with explosives would know who and where they are sparked as much puzzlement as fear, congregants said last week.
“I thought ‘Wow, I didn’t know we had such visibility,'” congregation member Marvin Levin said.
But that’s what the tight-knit group got as federal officials announced last week that a woman in Yemen had been arrested in the alleged terrorist plot that sent several packages to the U.S. loaded with the industrial explosive, PETN.
Authorities have not said which two Chicago addresses the packages were mailed to, but a source told the Tribune both were Jewish congregations on the North Side, home to a thriving Jewish community. Chicago police said they were making increased checks in areas with a high number of synagogues, including Edgewater, Rogers Park and West Rogers Park.
Or Chadash leaders said they learned that their group was an intended recipient of one of the Yemen packages from Emanuel’s Rabbi Michael Zedek.
“It was just a surprise,” said Rabbi Larry Edwards of Or Chadash. “When I was first hearing news (about the packages), I assumed there were probably bigger targets. We’re a small congregation. Either we were selected at random or it’s because we’re a mostly gay congregation.”
In a historic first, Colorado now has a 1st gentleman as Gov. Polis marries
The governor and his now husband decided to hold their nuptials on the 18th anniversary of their first date
DENVER – Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis married his longtime partner Marlon Reis in a ceremony that marked the first same-sex marriage of a sitting Out governor in the United States.
The couple was married Wednesday in a small traditional Jewish ceremony at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where Reis had matriculated and graduated from. The governor and his now husband decided to hold their nuptials on the 18th anniversary of their first date.
“We met online and went out on a date and we went to the Boulder bookstore and then went to dinner,” Polis told KCFR-FM, Colorado Public Radio (CPR).
In addition to family and close friends in attendance, the couple’s two children participated with their 7-year-old daughter serving as the flower girl and their 9-year-old son as the ring bearer.
The governor joked that their daughter was probably more thrilled than anyone about the wedding. “She was all in on being a flower girl. She’s been prancing around. She got a great dress. She’s terrific,” he said CPR reported.
Their son was also happy, but more ambivalent about it all according to Reis. “Kids are so modern that their responses to things are sometimes funny. Our son honestly asked us, ‘Why do people get married?”
The greatest lesson we have learned over the past 18 months is that life as we know it can change in an instant. We are thankful for the opportunity to celebrate our life together as a married couple.— Governor Jared Polis (@GovofCO) September 15, 2021
After 18 years together, we couldn’t be happier to be married at last. pic.twitter.com/psBhfEoEny
Colorado’s chief executive, sworn in as the 43rd governor of Colorado in January 2019, over the course of nearly 20 years as a political activist and following in public service as an elected official has had several ‘firsts’ to his credit.
In 2008 Polis is one of the few people to be openly Out when first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as well as being the first gay parent to serve in the Congress. Then on November 6, 2018, he was the first openly gay governor elected in Colorado and in the United States.
Gov. Jared Polis And First Gentleman Marlon Reis Are Newlyweds
U.S. Catholic theologians call for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections
Joint statement says church teachings support equality
More than 750 of the nation’s leading Catholic theologians, church leaders, scholars, educators, and writers released a joint statement on Sept. 14 expressing strong support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
The six-page theological statement, “A Home for All: A Catholic Call for LGBTQ Non-Discrimination,” was scheduled to be published along with the names of its 759 signatories as a four-page advertisement on Sept. 17 in the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper widely read by Catholic clergy and laypeople.
The statement was initiated by New Ways Ministry, a Mount Rainier, Md., based Catholic group that advocates for equality for LGBTQ people within the church and society at large.
“As Catholic theologians, scholars, church leaders, writers, and ministers, we affirm that Catholic teaching presents a positive case for ending discrimination against LGBTQ people,” the statement says. “We affirm the Second Vatican Council’s demand that ‘any kind of social or cultural discrimination…must be curbed and eradicated,’” it says.
“We affirm that Catholic teaching should not be used to further oppress LGBTQ people by denying rights rooted in their inherent human dignity and in the church’s call for social equality,” the statement adds.
The statement notes that its signers recognize that a “great debate” is currently taking place within the Catholic Church about whether same-gender relationships and transgender identities should be condoned or supported.
“That is a vital discussion for the future of Catholicism, and one to which we are whole-heartedly committed,” the statement continues. “What we are saying in this statement, however, is relatively independent of that debate, and the endorsers of this statement may hold varied, and even opposing, opinions on sexual and gender matters,” it says.
Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministries executive director, said his organization and the signers of the statement feel the issue of nondiscrimination for LGBTQ people can and should be supported by Catholic leaders and the church itself even if some are not yet ready to support same-sex marriage and sexual and gender identity matters.
“LGBTQ non-discrimination is being debated at all levels in our society, and the Catholic perspective on this is often misrepresented, even by some church leaders,” DeBernardo said. “Catholics who have studied and reflected deeply on this topic agree that non-discrimination is the most authentic Catholic position,” he said.
DeBernardo said those who helped draft the statement decided it would be best to limit it to a theological appeal and argument for LGBTQ equality and non-discrimination and not to call for passage of specific legislation such as the Equality Act, the national LGBTQ civil rights bill pending in the U.S. Congress.
The Equality Act calls for amending existing federal civil rights laws to add nondiscrimination language protecting LGBTQ people in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations. The U.S. House approved the legislation, but the Senate has yet to act on it.
“We wanted this to be a theological statement, not a political statement,” DeBernardo said.
He said organizers of the project to prepare the statement plan to send it, among other places, to the Vatican in Rome and to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has expressed opposition to the Equality Act.
Among the key signers of the statement were 242 administrators, faculty, and staff from Sacred Heart University, a Catholic college in Bridgeport, Conn. New Ways Ministries says the statement was circulated by the school’s administration and eight of its top leaders, including President John Petillo, are among the signers.
Some of the prominent writers who signed the statement include Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking;” Richard Rodriquez, author of “Hunger of Memory;” Gary Wills, author of “Lincoln at Gettysburg;” and Gregory Maguire, author of “Wicked.”
The full text of the statement and its list of signatories can be accessed at the New Ways Ministry website.
Activists reflect on Black Trans Lives Matter movement resurgence
Blade speaks with Alex Santiago, Jasmyne Cannick
The world came to a standstill last year as a video surfaced online that showed then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd. The video went viral and sparked numerous protests against racism and police brutality in the U.S. and around the world as many people felt it a potent time to relay their frustrations with and to their governments.
For the LGBTQ community, these protests brought to light the need for human rights for transgender individuals as the murders of people like Tony McDade in Florida and Nina Pop in Missouri reawakened the flame within the Black Trans Lives Matter movement.
The Washington Blade more than a year later spoke with Alex Santiago, executive director of the I Am Human Foundation in Atlanta, and Jasmyne Cannick, a Democratic political strategist and journalist in Los Angeles, to reflect on last year’s Black Trans Lives Matter movement, how far it has come, and what’s in store for the future.
Uplifting voices often silenced
Participating in the Black Lives Matter protests was an easy decision for Santiago. He is a member of the Legendary House of Garcon, a ballroom house headquartered in D.C.
Although the house is composed mostly of LGBTQ members, Santiago still felt the need to center trans voices and experiences by visually representing them during Black Lives Matter marches.
“[I decided that] when I go I’m going to have signs that say ‘Black Trans Lives Matter.’ After talking to a couple of the people in the house, they said it was a great idea. So, they got these t-shirts made that incorporated the trans colors [baby blue, baby pink and white],” says Santiago.
Out of the 250 people in the Legendary House of Garcon, 175 showed up to D.C. from other states to march in solidarity with Black trans people. Santiago says that from what he was told, his was the largest group of activists representing Black trans lives at protests.
“At first I thought people were going to look at us crazy, like, ‘Why are you separating yourselves or being exclusive?’. But, we got a great response from the general population that was there that day. It was a good day,” says Santiago.
Cannick, who was in Los Angeles during the protests, lent her efforts to platforming pertinent issues. She identifies herself as an ally and a “friend” to the LGBTQ community.
“I’m active in the LA community and everybody knows me. So, whenever something happens, someone is hurt, someone is killed or someone needs to get the word out about something that’s going on particularly as it relates to the trans community, I’m always asked to get involved, and I do,” says Cannick.
Over the past year, she reported on multiple LGBTQ issues including the trial of Ed Buck, a Democratic political fundraiser who was convicted in the deaths of two gay Black men who he injected with methamphetamine in exchange for sex.
What happened to the BTLM movement and what needs to change?
The nature of many social movements is that as the intense emotion surrounding them fades, people’s fervor for change wanes as well. This is especially true with allies who are not directly linked to the cause.
“Fatigue and frustration at the relatively slow pace of change to a growing backlash on the right against efforts to call out systemic racism and white privilege — has led to a decline in white support for the Black Lives Matter movement since last spring, when white support for social justice was at its peak,” US News reports about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Cannick believes this is the same for the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. She says Americans allow the media to dictate how it behaves and responds to issues. Thus, when stories “fall out of our media cycles … they fall out of our memories.”
“I think that’s not going to change, and that’s a psychological thing, until we learn how to not let the media necessarily dictate our issues,” says Cannick.
She suggests that individuals remain plugged into their communities by “doing anything to make sure they keep up with an issue” including following the “right people” on social media and setting up Google alerts for any breaking news.
Santiago also echoes Cannick’s sentiments.
“We wait until something happens before we do something. And, I don’t want to be retroactive; I want to be proactive. I want people to see me when things are going well [and when they’re not going well],” says Santiago.
Upon returning to his home in Atlanta after the D.C. protests, Santiago contacted a billboard installation company and paid for a billboard labelled, “Black Trans Lives Matter” to be displayed on University Avenue near downtown Atlanta. He says that the billboards got attention and helped to spread much-needed awareness. Following this success, he is now in the process of installing a new billboard labelled, “Black, Trans and Visible. My life Matters.”
“Unless you’re in people’s faces or something drastic happens, people forget. Unless you’re living it, people forget,” says Santiago.
As time progresses, both Santiago and Cannick nest hope for the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. However, this hope can only persist when crucial steps are taken to ensure Black trans individuals around the country are protected, most importantly through legislation.
The New York Times reports there are close to 1,000 elected LGBTQ officials in the U.S., with at least one in each state except Mississippi.
“We need to have more legislation. We need more voices in power like the council Biden has right now,” says Santiago.
“You know that [Biden] has a lot of trans people and Black trans people [involved], and a part of that’s a positive step in the right direction, but we need that times 10,” says Santiago.
He believes that political representation should extend to local governance where ordinary Black trans individuals can be trained to assume leadership roles.
Cannick’s focus is on the Black community.
“[Trans women] are usually murdered by Black men. If we ever expect that to change, we need to start talking about that,” says Cannick.
She’s open to having conversations that put people, including her as a cis-identifying woman, in uncomfortable and awkward spaces.
She hosts a podcast titled “Str8 No Chaser” and recently aired an episode, “Why Are Black Men Killing Trans Women,” where she discussed with three Black trans women about the gender and sexuality dynamics within the Black community and their perils.
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