Compiled by Ashley Garman
California passes proposal requiring gay history in textbooks
The state assembly passed a bill that would require public schools in California to have textbooks that include historical contributions of the LGBT community.
The legislation is partially aimed at decreasing anti-gay bullying of students, according to Slate Magazine, and was passed with a 49-25 margin. The bill is now in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown who can either sign or veto the law. The Democratic governor has made no statements supporting or opposing the issue.
“I don’t want to be invisible in a textbook,” Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who is openly gay, told his colleagues, according to the Los Angeles Times.
If it passes, schools would have until January to change their curriculums; the law does not detail how teachers’ curriculum must change. However, budget cuts have postponed textbook updates until the 2015-2016 school year.
“As a Christian, I am deeply offended,” said Assemblymember Tim Donnelly of San Bernadino. He joined other opponents of the bill who cited religious objections.
Update: Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Thursday, July 14.
House votes against gay unions on military bases
The House approved a measure that prohibits military chaplains from officiating same-sex marriages on base regardless of state law. In a 236- 184 vote, the measure was attached to the defense spending bill. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a supporter of the measure, said he wanted to ensure that “America’s military bases are not used to advance a narrow social agenda.
“The vote’s practical effect is unclear,” the Boston Herald reported. The ban on gays serving openly is likely to be lifted before Congress completes the defense spending bill for the budget year beginning Oct. 1.
Some say this measure is an attempt by House Republicans to delay the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said “fringe lawmakers in the House are continuing to desperately try to slow down or undo a settled issue. Given that the majority of the American people, the military and our senior defense leaders support this policy change, these votes will be a stain on the legacies of those who cast them in the long run.”
Servicemembers United is the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans.
Mayor Bloomberg to officiate staff’s same-sex wedding
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of New York, will perform one of the state’s first same-sex weddings for his chief policy advisor John Feinblatt and his longtime partner Jonathan Mintz on July 24. Bloomberg approached Feinblatt, saying that if the couple wanted to marry and needed someone to officiate the ceremony, he would love to. The New York Times reported Bloomberg “is now punctuating his official advocacy with a personal gesture: hosting and presiding at a gay wedding on the first possible day, in one of the grandest possible settings.”
The mayor has only presided over two weddings in the past—that of his daughter and the previous New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. He had made a point of not wanting to preside over any other weddings, but he is making an exception for Feinblatt and Mintz because of his close personal connection to them and the role the couple played in “personalizing the issue of same-sex marriage for him,” according to the New York Times.
The couple met 14 years ago on a blind date and have since parented two children with the help of a surrogate.
Florida University offers new living options for transgender students
The University of Southern Florida will offer gender-neutral dorms to transgender students. The change will go into effect during the spring semester, allowing transgender students the choice to live alone, with a friend of any gender, or with a randomly assigned roommate. The housing application will now have a “transitioning” gender box in addition to “male” and “female.
“The university’s policy change was sparked by requests from transitioning students who reported harassment in their dorms,” care2.com reported. Taylor McCue is the founder of the university’s Transgender Student Union, and was a leader in the fight for better housing options.
“It’s going to be really positive for a lot of trans people, especially first-year students. It doesn’t mean the trans war has been won —you can’t win everything in one night. This is just part of the process for changing things on campus,” he said.
Currently, USF and Harvard are part of a select few universities that offer gender-neutral housing for students of all grades who identify as transgender.
Nepal to offer shelter to battered gays in South Asia
Nepal is becoming the first country in south Asia to offer shelter to battered gays. Blue Diamond Society, an LGBT rights organization based in Nepal, will offer a place of refuge to LGBT individuals who face violence. The five-story LGBT Centre for South Asia is in the works in Kathmandu’s Dhumbarahi area, according to The Link newspaper.
“In countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan non-conformity is taboo and members of the community face violence and even the possibility of death,” says Sunil Babu Pant, the founder of Blue Diamond Society. “We had a pair of teenaged girls from Kolkata run away from home and come to us for help. One was from the Hindu community and one Muslim and there was additional parental anger. The shelter is meant for persecuted people like them.”
Presidential candidate signs anti-same sex marriage pact
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is the first presidential candidate to sign a pledge that supports the view-point that homosexuality is a choice rather than a biological trait.
The pledge, titled “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family,” was written by a conservative advocacy group in Iowa led by Bob Vander Plaats. The group is asking all 2010 presidential hopefuls to sign it, according to the Washington Post.
The two-page pledge condemns adultery, pornography and cohabitation, as well as warning that the institution of marriage is in jeopardy.
“Since announcing her presidential candidacy last month, Bachmann has largely sidestepped questions about her views on homosexuality,” the Washington Post reported, despite her vocal opposition to same-sex marriage.
“We’re calling on all of the Republican presidential candidates to speak out against the Bachmanns’ dangerous views and activities before more damage is done,” gay rights group Human Rights Campaign posted on its site.
The only other GOP presidential candidate to sign the pledge has been Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, although Tim Pawlenty is reviewing it.
Presbyterian church allows LGBT individuals to be ordained
A measure allowing openly gay individuals in same-sex relationships to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) took effect last weekend.
The change was approved in May and was marked by a day of prayer on Sun., July 10. The measure doesn’t require churches to ordain LGBT individuals but, rather, to remove barriers to doing so, according to The Huffington Post.
“We are entering a new era of equality,” said Michael Adee, the executive director of a Minnesota-based church group that has pushed to allow openly gay clergy. “Across this country members of welcoming
and affirming congregations and ministries are telling the stories of faithful candidates who can now be considered for ordination.” Adee said he knew some clergy members who are planning on coming out because
of the change.