Gay Activists Don’t Think Queen Elizabeth’s Anti-Discrimination Charter Goes Far Enough

In Deference to Commonwealth Countries, Omits References to Gays and Lesbians

On March 11, 2013, Her Majesty the Queen,in a live broadcast, signed a new charter dubbed “a 21st Century Magna Carta” designed to stamp out discrimination against homosexuals and promote “empowerment” of women in a drive to boost human rights.  The document includes affirmations on democracy, human rights, international peace and security as well as freedom of expression.

The Queen’s charter states that signatories oppose “all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, color, creed, political belief or other grounds.”  It’s “the other” that annoys activists such as American Democratic political consultant, writer, and Americablogger John Aravosis.

Says Aravosis, a Washington lawyer, “ in 2013, I’m supposed to laud someone who doesn’t even have the moral and ethical fortitude to call me anything other than “other?”  Did Lincoln free the “others?”

“What is this? the 1980s?  I’m supposed to genuflect because the Queen was too embarrassed to mention the g-word and the t-word?”

The British Press says that the charter doesn’t specifically refer to gays and lesbians because it might offend the Commonwealth’s countries with anti-gay laws.  More than forty-one countries of the fifty-four within the Commonwealth still criminalize homosexuality.  Aravosis again takes offense: “So just in case that wasn’t clear to you – Queen Elizabeth won’t be mentioning gays or trans people in her anti-discrimination statement, lest she offend countries that discriminate.”

British Activists Have Their Say About Her Historic Pledge

Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, initially praised Queen Elizabeth’s agreement.  “Although the clause rejects discrimination based on ‘other grounds’ implicitly includes a rejection of homophobic discrimination, The Queen has never publicly acknowledged the LGBT community since she was crowned in 1952.” Ben Summerskill, the Chief Executive of the gay and lesbian rights group Stonewall UK, says that “this is the first time that the Queen has publicly acknowledged the importance of the six percent of her subjects who are gay.” Columnist at The Guardian, Patrick Strudwick  remarked that “by refraining from using the word gay or gay rights, the head of the Commonwealth will in fact silence opponents of equality!  Gay people of the Commonwealth need its head to speak of them and to them, to protect them.”

Don’t Look A Gift Horse In the Mouth?

Is the Queen, 86, evolving?  Summerskill commented , “we would of course be much happier if the terms would be addressed and discussed openly.  But if addressing them obliquely is a first step, we should be happy about that. It would be foolish not to acknowledge this may be a first step towards equality in some Commonwealth countries.”



ICE to Consider Gay Couples as Families

First Time DHS Has Explicitly Spelled out Policy to Immigration Officers

The Department of Homeland Security plans to instruct in writing to its field offices next week that illegal immigrants with long-term same-sex spouses or partners are eligible for consideration under a federal program designed to focus resources away from low-priority cases. GLBT couples will have their deportations put on hold.

Extends Discretionary Relief to LGBT Immigrants with U.S. Citizen Spouses & Partners

Although the administration had formerly told reporters that same-sex relationships will be taken into account when making deportation decisions, on September 27, 2012, Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano put it in writing to make clear the definition of the phrase ‘family relationships.’ In the letter, Napolitano directed ICE (Immigrant and Customs Enforcement) U.S. offices to “disseminate written guidance to the field that the interpretation of the phrase ‘family relationships’ includes long-term, same-sex partners.” As with every other factor identified in ICE’s Director John Morton’s June 11 memorandum, the applicability of the ‘family relationships’ factor is weighed on an individualized basis in the consideration of whether the immigrant is high-priority for deportation. Government attorneys weigh factors such as a person’s criminal record, family ties and community relations in making their decisions.

ICE Should Consider “The Totality of Circumstances” Outlined in 2011 Memo

When making enforcement decisions in immigration law, the new directive informs ICE personnel that they should consider “ties and contributions to the community,” military service, undocumented immigrant’s age, and cooperation with authorities.

Led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Rep. Mike Honda (D-Ca.) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), more than 80 House Democrats called in late July for the Department of Homeland Security to add a specific mention of same-sex couples to its guidelines. Rep. Honda said in a statement on September 28th that” he will continue to push for immigration reform legislation such as his Reuniting American Families Act, which would allow Americans to petition for legal status for their same-sex couples, as heterosexual couples can.”

What New Guidance Does Not Mean

The instructions do not mean that foreigners who are married to Americans of the same sex will be eligible for green cards or citizenships, as are immigrants with heterosexual spouses. The DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act ) Law of 1996 prohibits the government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even as it opposes it in court and takes gay relationships into account when evaluating deportation cases. The decision to grant reprieves still would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Whose at Stake

The Williams Institute in California estimates that as of 2010 there were about 29,000 same-sex couples in U.S. comprised of a U.S. citizen and a non-U.S. citizen.

“Until now, LGBT families and their lawyers had nothing to rely on but an oral promise that prosecutorial discretion would include all families,” stated Rachel B. Tiven, Executive Director of Immigration Equality, a gay rights and reform group. “This is a huge step forward. The administration’s guidance will help families facing separation and the field officers who are reviewing their cases.”




2013 Gay & Lesbian Ski Weeks

All you summer lovers please don’t hate me, but it is THAT time again. Time for us snow lovers to start thinking about all the exciting gay & lesbian ski weeks planned for 2013! 

NOW is the time you will find the best travel deals to popular ski resorts.

We here at Out & About Travel have been customizing ski packages for almost 15 years and are more than happy to assist you. 

Here is sample of upcoming gay & lesbian ski weeks: 

  • Utah Gay & Lesbian Ski Week: January 9-13, 2013
  • Aspen Gay & Lesbian Ski Week: January 13-20, 2013
  • Stowe, Vermont’s Winter Rendezvous Gay & Lesbian Ski Week: January 23-27, 2013
  • Whistler Pride Gay & Lesbian Ski Week: February 3-10, 2013
  • Telluride Gay & Lesbian Ski Week: February 22-March 3, 2013
  • Canadian Rockies Gay Ski Tour: March 16-23, 2013
  • Mammoth Mountain Gay & Lesbian Ski Week – March 13-17, 2013

 We will be updating our web site, in the coming weeks with more information. 

In the meantime be sure to email us at for assistance planning your getaway. 

See you on the slopes! 


Top 10 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent


One of the most asked questions I receive as a travel agent is, “Why should we book through you?” 

I can come up with hundreds of reasons, but here I have compiled the Top 10 Reasons why you should use a travel agent or, more specifically, why you should book your next trip through my agency, Out & About Travel.

You don’t have to be gay to book a trip through us, we are straight friendly too! 😉

Out & About Travel ( is a full service, gay & lesbian, online travel agency specializing in gay & lesbian tours, cruises, adventure travel, gay ski trips, customized packages and more. I started Out & About Travel back in 1999 out of my genuine love of travel and the desire to provide the gay & lesbian community with the many options available to them.

TOP 10 Reasons Why You Should Use a Travel Agent and Book Your Next Trip With Out & About Travel

1. Save Time. I can do all the research for you when planning out your next vacation. A travel agent provides one stop shopping for all your travel plans and arrangements.
2. Save Money. I never charge a service fee and have a price match guarantee. I am also fortunate enough to have strong working relationships with travel suppliers and experience in the travel industry, knowing where to look for the best deal.

3. Personalized Service. I work for you and not for any travel supplier. 
4. Experience and Knowledge. I am always researching and reading about the latest trends in travel and great places to go. I also receive information about vacation plans before the public. Travel is my job. I will give you expert advice and my opinion.

5. Support Small Business. I started Out & About Travel in 1999, at the age of 23, and have been running my business on my own since. We are celebrating our 14 year anniversary this year. 

6. Avoid Problems. I can help you clarify the fine print on cancellation penalties and restrictions preventing problems. I am your direct contact person if a problem arises and will save you the hassle by correcting issues for you.

7. Field Specialist. I can help anyone plan a trip to anywhere. In addition, I specialize in exclusive gay and lesbian travel destinations as well as gay and lesbian friendly destinations. Throughout the years I have traveled to many popular gay & lesbian travel destinations throughout the world and have gained hands on knowledge of what is truly gay and lesbian friendly.

8. Personalized Vacations. My longest road trip, thus far, has been 3 months. I can help you route out an extensive road trip or plan a personalized vacation package through my direct experience and knowledge of travel.

9. Trust. I have been in business since 1999 and have clients from all over the world. We were one of the first online travel agencies specializing in LGBT travel and are considered pioneers of the gay & lesbian travel industry.
10. It is Free! I will work hard for you to ensure that your vacation is exactly what you want. I do not charge a service fee and have a price match guarantee. Let me do all the research, lay out the options, and book and plan out everything for you from hotel, car rental, sites to see, restaurants, events, attractions, shows, and more.

So, please, contact me the next time you are planning a vacation.

Desiree Sousa, owner of Out & About Travel, can be reached at: 

Call: 1-800-842-4753

Also be sure to check out our travel blog –
Gay Travel Information: 

Friendlier Skys for Transgender Pilots

Old Rules for Transgender Pilots

Before the recent ruling by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), trans pilots were required to undergo additional psychological tests: projective, personality, and intelligence. These tests were expensive, tedious, and often had to be financed by the pilots themselves. Because of these extra tests, some pilots failed the added requirements or were grounded.

According to Harper Jean Tobin, director of public policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality, the FAA guidelines lacked any rational medical backing, and were vague in their position on trans pilots.

“It was as though someone had said, ‘OK, we don’t know a lot about transgender people, but we think something might be wrong with them, “ Tobin reported to The Advocate Monday.” There’s no particular reason to think that just because someone is transgender or transitioning, they would have developed some kind of cognitive deficits.”

New FAA Requirements for Transgender Pilots

The FAA requires that all pilots receive medical and psychological clearance to fly. The new medical certification procedures for transgender pilots are as follows: the pilot must submit current clinical records together with an evaluation from a psychiatrist or psychologist with experience in transgender issues as well as a post-operative report on any surgery, if applicable.


“This sends a positive signal that being trans shouldn’t create barriers to people being able to perform a highly-skilled job with a lot of responsibility,” confirms Tobin. “We think this is going to make things a lot easier and fairer all the day around.” See (LBTQNation, “FAA eliminates unnecessary psychological testing for transgender pilots, 8/13/12).




It’s Marketing Not A Social Agenda Stupid

I can remember when the slogan for AMTRAK was “there’s nothing like a train”.  How far we have come since those days of innocence in marketing a train, a form of travel and what constitutes “a family”.

That was when AMTRAK was marketing itself as a more relaxing, less hurried way to travel across the USA and in particular a way for families to share a once in a lifetime experience as they glide upon silver rails across the heartland, through mountains and see things which can’t be seen by driving or flying overhead by plane.

So it is that AMTRAK has started its latest marketing campaign this time geared towards same-sex parents and their children.

Read more