Compiled by Elena Buckley | GSD Reporter
Controversy with Target continues
Lady Gaga recently told Target that her exclusive album distribution deal with the store would only happen if it began supporting LGBT charity groups and underwent an attitude change from their previous antigay support. She told Billboard Magazine, “That discussion was one of the most intense conversations I’ve ever had in a business meeting.” According to The Washington Blade, last month Target began updating its political giving policy by establishing a committee of senior executives who will make financial support decisions along with the chief executive officer and the board of directors. Some organizations, however, such as MoveOn.org refuse to forgive Target in any way. And, according The Advocate, Robin Beck, the website’s campaign manager, said, “As far as we can tell, they’ve expanded the number of people who will be making decisions about the political giving they do. There’s no apology for the giving they’ve done, there’s no commitment to equality. There’s no commitment to stop funding 527s. There’s no commitment to not use corporate funds.”
Hawaii approves civil unions
The Hawaiian senate recently approved a bill that would make civil unions in the state legal come Jan. 1, 2012, after it receives a final signature from the governor. In 1998, Hawaii’s constitution was amended to prohibit same-sex marriage, but with civil unions, LGBT couples will have access to family court, child support, alimony and other important legal protections.
Bill introduced to fight LGBT bullying in schools
Equality California is sponsoring the Equality and Equal Access in Higher Education bill designed to fight anti-gay bullying, discrimination and harassment of students and staff in public schools and universities. San Diego Assemblymember Marty Block introduced the bill, which would require staff at these institutions to go through professional development and awareness training on anti-LGBT bullying and for schools to have harassment policies as part of their code of conduct.
“Students attending our public colleges and universities deserve a campus that is serious about providing a safe environment, where all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, can excel to their fullest academic potential,” said Block in an Equality California statement. “Bullying and harassment sadly continue to be a primary concern for LGBT students on campus, and are often cited when determining why they underperform or drop out.”
Mexican beer for LGBTs
A Mexican brewery has created a new string of beers—Artisan Honey-Ales—and is directing them specifically toward the LGBT community. All of the different beer labels, which can be taken off and worn, represent gay icons and events, including one called “Purple Hand” that pays homage to a protest in San Francisco in 1969. The Minerva brewery states that the gay market has been ignored up until this point. “We’re out in the market with great respect, with the idea of offering a product directed to the gay-lesbian community that has been ignored for too long but is important and very demanding,” a representative told a Mexican news agency.
Marriage equality in Maryland
According to The Baltimore Sun, the Maryland senate has voted 7-4 in favor of marriage equality. The new proposed bill will come before the entire senate next week, which, according to senate president Thomas V. Mike Miller, will make the final decision on Feb. 28. The bill needs 24 votes to become legal and has recently obtained all of them. The last vote came from Sen. James C. Rosapepe, who said in an e-mail to his constituents, “I intend to vote for the bill, as it was reported out of committee with a strengthened conscience clause to respect the views of religious denominations which do not recognize same-sex marriage.” In addition, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has promised to sign the upcoming bill.
Marriage debates in NH
According to The Washington Post, more than 600 people attended and spoke at a hearing in New Hampshire before the house judiciary committee on whether to rescind the state’s two-year-old marriage equality law. There are three bills to repeal the marriage equality law, rescinding the law, defining marriage only for heterosexual couples and establishing domestic partnerships only for same-sex couples. The law was passed in 2009, and Republican representatives Leo Pepino and David Bates, who sponsored two of the bills, said that it was passed without “the consent of the people.” Thirteen hundred couples have wed since the law was enacted, and most spoke in favor of keeping it intact. Openly gay former state representative Ed Butler—who married his husband last year—told The Post, “We’ll be here next year. We’ll be here every year we need to be here until marriage equality is no longer an issue.”
Pride parade allowed in Budapest
The Budapest gay Pride parade will continue as planned on Jun. 18, according to Pink News, despite police resistance. Organizers of the parade wanted to extend the route to the parliament building and met with police resistance due to what they cited as “traffic concerns.” The Metropolitan Court sided with the Rainbow Mission Foundation, an LGBT group in Budapest, reversing the decision. Boris Dittrich of Human Rights Watch in New York said, “The court’s decision was a victory not only for the community of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, but for the right of all Hungarians to freedom of assembly.”
Rufus Wainwright welcomes new daughter
Rufus Wainwright and his partner Jorn Weisbrodt had a daughter via surrogate Lorca Cohen—daughter of the musician Leonard Cohen—on Feb. 2 in Los Angeles. Wainwright said of new daughter Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen on his website, “Daddy #1 would like to offer everyone a digital cigar and welcome the little lady in with a French phrase from his favorite folk song, a la Claire Fontaine: ‘Il y a longtemps que je t’aime, jamais je ne t’oublierai.’” [“It’s been so long that I’ve loved you. Never will your memory fade.”]
LGBT anti-discrimination rights in Montana
Montana Democratic state representative Edie McClafferty introduced a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Montana Human Rights Act. According to KFBB.com, she said, “These are our sons, daughters and neighbors and constitutes and they are entitled to live a free life from discrimination.” However, the bill met with anti-gay resistance at a hearing in Helena last week. Harold Himes, a pastor and a member of Montana Eagle Forum said, “This bill actually discriminates against me and those who believe as I do that homosexuality and transgender and all of these things is an abomination to God.”
Transgender bathrooms in Chicago
Youth organizers from Genderqueer Chicago—endorsed by Join the Impact-Chicago, Equality Illinois, Video Action League and others—are urging businesses to have transgender friendly restrooms. Called the T-Friendly Bathroom Initiative, this effort will ask 500 businesses and organizations to sign a pledge saying that they will let transgender customers use whichever bathroom they please and they will also be given a window decal showing that they have the option. In a press release published in Windy City Times, Kate Sosin, project coordinator and co-founder of the Genderqueer noted the violence inflicted on transgender people when simply using a bathroom that fits their identity saying “We expect this will dramatically improve the way transgender people experience our city and state.”
Child visitation in Arkansas
Although Arkansas does not allow same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court did grant Emily Jones child visitation rights with a child she had with her ex-partner, even though she is not the biological parent. According to Arkansas News, Alicia Bethany, Jones’ ex-partner, said that visitation rights were not allowed based on the aforementioned marriage law that was passed in 2004. The ruling went in Jones’ favor because the court cited that she had been the primary caretaker for the past three years as a stay-at-home mom, regardless of paternity or the rules about legal marriage.
GA teen reaches out to stop bullying
Marina Belotserkovskaya, a teenage lesbian in Marietta, GA, and an active member of her school’s Anti-Defamation League, made a YouTube video reaching out to bullied LGBT teens. A target of bullying herself, she told WXIA News in Atlanta “One time there were probably, like, 10 kids in the classroom yelling at me. [The] teacher didn’t really do anything, which is what shocks me. I consider myself to have gone through hell. I want to show people that … as dark as things may seem, everything will get better. I really wanted to stress that. My story did have that happy ending.”
First gay judge for Israel
Israel appointed Dori Spivak this week as its first gay judge for Tel Aviv’s labor court. Spivak is a lawyer and was the former chair of Israel’s Association for Civil Rights (ACRI). According to Ynet, an Israeli newspaper, Dan Yakir, another lawyer for ACRI, said that Spivak would “contribute to developing human rights.” Spivak was involved in several high-profile gay court cases, including one in which the Supreme Court had a state-run TV channel air a program about gay teenagers, according to TheJC.com.