Torchwood Star Barrowman Marries

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Top showman, entertainer and actor John Barrowman married his long term partner Scott Gill last week, after a 20-year committed relationship.

The couple had already entered into a civil partnership back in 2006, however following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) recently, Barrowman and his partner Scott Gill were delighted to legally marry in the state of California.

Barrowman himself announced the news via a video clip before posting a photo after their special ceremony. During the short video John can be seen addressing the camera, saying: “It’s five after one and we’ve got our coffee and we’re in the car getting ready to leave, because where are we going, Scott?” The Torchwood star then turned the camera on his partner Gill, who replies: “To get married. Yay!”

He closes the video with a reference to the overturning of DOMA last week, adding: “We’re getting married in the state of California. Thank you Supreme Court, about time you made it legal. See you after we have the ceremony!”

The happy newlyweds later posted a photograph of themselves with their marriage certificate, writing: “We are now legally married. Thanks for all your great wishes. JB and Scott.”

The couple have always been open about their desire to get married telling many in the media they would just as soon as it became legal to do so in the US. They have also indicated in interviews that would like to have children too, when the time was right – “We haven’t ruled out having children ourselves but it depends where my career takes us.” John claimed in an interview in the UK’s Sun newspaper last year.

“We wouldn’t want a baby. We’d look at adopting an older child or teenager who might have been in trouble. We would also look at adopting a gay child, thrown out of their home because of their sexuality.”

We send our love and warmest wishes to John and Scott on their happy news and hope they have a long and happy married life together.

Couples Can Wed Again in California


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Proposition 8 Struck Down

What is Prop 8?

Proposition 8 in California is the voter-approved law that limits marriage to one man and one woman that was passed in 2008.  In 2010, Prop 8 was declared unconstitutional by Judge Vaughn Walker because it limited marriage to only opposite couples thereby denying gay and lesbian Californians their basic rights.

Judge Walker’s decision was challenged by a group of citizens who put Prop 8 on the ballot. A federal court ruled that this group did not have legal standing to challenge the law.  Hollingsworth vs. Perry was the case before the Supreme Court.

The justices essentially adopted the rationale of the federal appeals court that found that California could not take away the right to marry that had been granted by the state Supreme Court in 2008, before Proposition 8 passed. The Court ruled that “because the Governor and Attorney General of California – the officials responsible for defending state laws in court- decided not to appeal Judge Walker’s decision. The supporters of Proposition 8 could not appeal that decision on their own because they could not show that allowing same-sex couples to marry would personally affect them in any way.”

This historic ruling on June 26, 2013, restores the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in California. Because of the demise of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, Californians once married can now receive federal benefits equal to those of heterosexual couples.

Time-Line for Same-Sex California Marriages

On June 28, 2013, the Ninth Circuit lifted the stay preventing California from marrying same-sex couples.  California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. issued a statement saying “I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state’s fifty-eight counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted.”

Immediate Weddings

Attorney General Kamala Harris, rushed to San Francisco City Hall within minutes of the meeting to marry two of the plantiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier.  Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa of Los Angeles married the other two plantiffs in the case Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo.

Many legal experts and advocates had expected the court to wait for an official decision from the Supreme Court –this is normally the procedure.  But Attorney General Harris urged the Circuit Court to act immediately.

Counter Argument

Under Supreme Court rules, the losing side in a legal dispute has twenty-five days to ask the high court to rehear the case.  The court said that it would not finalize its ruling in the Proposition 8 dispute until after that time had elapsed.

Justice Anthony Kennedy denied the emergency petition from an anti-gay marriage group to halt same-sex weddings in California immediately.  The Ninth Circuit’s June 28, 2013 Order purporting to dissolve the stay allowed weddings to resume two days after the Supreme Court declined to rule on Proposition 8’s constitutionality.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the Supreme Court’s majority opinion: “we have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statue when state officials have chosen not to.  We decline to do so for the first time here.”

 

  

 

 

The Little Engine Who Could: Edie Windsor

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The Woman Who Sued the United States and Won!

“I think I can, I think I can” must have been Windsor’s motto as she led an uphill battle that lasted five years, and culminated in a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the federal law DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) that regarded marriage as a union only between a man and a woman.  But in terms of her strength,  Edie Windsor’s  impact on gay rights in the U.S. was  (like Superman) “as strong as a locomotive.”

Auspicious Beginnings

Edith Schlain was born eighty-four years ago in Philadelphia.  She briefly married a man, divorced , and moved to New York City “to be gay.” A math and computer whiz, Edie worked at I.B.M.., one of the few women at the heart of the revolution in programming.  She was closeted at that time, but did ask a friend “if you know where the lesbians go, please take me.”

The First Meeting

On Friday evenings, Portofino in the West Village was a hangout for gay women.  It was here that she met Thea Spyer, a wealthy Jewish emigre from Holland, who was a psychologist and violinist in 1963.  Four years later, they began what turned out to be “ a very long engagement”( the title of a documentary about Edie and Thea).

Sickness Enters Equation

In 1977, Spyer was found to have multiple sclerosis.  Edie quit her job to care for Spyer.  At that time, Edie became a gay activist, financial donor, and was drafted to design and manage computer systems for gay groups.

Because of the severity of Spyer’s illness, Edith and Thea went to Toronto to wed in May 2007 ( New York did not have legalized gay married until 2011).  Thea died on February 5, 2009. They were a couple for forty-four years!

Edith Taxed Unfairly

Because the federal government did not recognize the couple’s marriage, Edie could not receive federal benefits, according to DOMA. She was saddled with $363,053 in federal estate taxes and more than $600,000 overall because the government did not recognize her as Spyer’s spouse who could inherit the modest cottage in the Hamptons and couple’s Fifth Avenue apartment, tax free.

Windsor sued the federal government Windsor v. United States for failing to recognize her marriage to her partner after Spyer’s death in 2009.  In her lawsuit, Windsor argued that DOMA violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution because it requires the government to treat same-sex couples who are legally married as strangers.

Challenging Laws:  Through The Maze of Courts

Windsor’s lawsuit was filed by the law firm of Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP,, the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

In October 2012, in a 2 to -1 ruling, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled in her favor: that DOMA unconstitutionally discriminates against married same-sex couples.

On December 7, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that the justices would be hearing Windsor’s challenge to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act as well as a challenge to California’s Proposition 8 marriage amendment. 

During this past March, the U.S. Supreme Court heard gay marriage arguments. On Wednesday, June 26, they finally came to a conclusion.

Supreme Court Delivers Victory to Windsor

In a 5-to-4 ruling, U.S. Supreme Court justices, with Anthony Kennedy as the “swing vote,” said that DOMA is unconstitutional because it is deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.  Same-sex couples who are legally married must now be treated the same as married opposite-sex couples and be entitled to benefits including income taxes, social security benefits and over a thousand other federal laws and programs – same as heterosexual couples. (See Gay Agenda’s Post “Supreme Court Delivers Gay Marriage Victory,” Gay Agenda, 26/6/13.)

Edie never lost sight of what was fair not only for herself, but for other gay couples who have been denied their benefits in states where same-sex marriage is legal.  Because of this hero’s tenacity, a bill known as the Respect for Marriage Act is working its way through Congress to supplant DOMA.

 

  

 

Kids in Grade School May Know They’re Gay

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Pew Research Center’s Landmark Survey Shows Coming Out Sooner

The just-released Pew Survey reveals that kids as young as ten sense they are GLBT.  For greater anonymity, the survey was done online to attract a wider range of participants who were asked when they first knew they were gay and when they first told a close friend or relative. (Of course, closeted gays are reluctant to participate in a survey, thus eliminating a greater population).

Gender-Different Responses

On the average, male respondents said they suspected by the age of ten, knew at age 15, and told a friend or relative at age 18.  Female respondents, however, sensed it at age 13, knew at 18, and told someone at 21.

Ritch Savin-Williams, Ph.D., Cornell University professor, and author of Mom, Dad, I’m Gay: How Families Negotiate Coming Out,” attributes this age gap to the social cues boys and girls receive:   It takes longer for a lesbian to realize she has a “crush” on a friend because she is taught that it is socially acceptable to hold hands, exchange friendship bracelets, and have intimate conversations. Boys, on the other hand, are instructed not to have physical contact with other boys.  So, the lack of physical contact helps them realize their attraction to other boys goes against society’s expectations of them.

Children claim to know because of an earlier biochemical benchmark: the adrenal gland’s release of hormones or “adrenarche.” According to Savin-Williams, this typically occurs around third grade, before puberty.

Whom Do The GLBT Kids Tell?

Six out of ten GLBT Americans had told one or both of their parents.  The others had told friends or other relatives.  Surprisingly enough, 13 percent had still not told any one.  A few respondents didn’t know they were gay until they were in their 60’s.

Savin-Williams found that a gay teen will usually tell a mother first.  Most parents, the survey found, particularly mothers, already suspected.  The father was usually told later, either by the child or the mother, by request.  Grandparents or extended family members were often the last to be told. Gay teens usually tell a female friend first.

Reaction of Parents

Sons and daughter received the same reaction from parents.  The average reaction is characterized as “slightly negative.” It can range from celebration to violence and eviction. “Most don’t throw the kid out of the house,” says Savin-Williams.  “I think we haven’t given parents who are really decent and reasonable enough credit.”

Mothers are typically more emotional in their reaction.  They worry about what this discovery means for their child’s future, as they worry about their child’s safety and how society will treat their child.

 

 

2 boys voted ‘Cutest Couple’ at NY High School

Courtesy of Carmel High School

Photo Courtesy of Carmel High School

The senior class at a suburban New York High School voted two boys as ‘Cutest Couple’ this year. Carmel High School seniors Dylan Meehan and Brad Taylor started dating each other a year ago.

“Yeah, our friends are giving it to us about being Internet famous,” said 18-year-old Dylan Meehan, a senior at Carmel High School.

“We’ve never had any problems at all,” added 17-year-old senior Brad Taylor. “As a matter of fact, before the results, people were telling us ahead of time, ‘You guys are going to win hands down.'”

However, officials were concerned enough that they checked with the boys and their parents before the “cutest couple” selection was memorialized in the yearbook.

Congratulations to Carmel High School for being accepting of the LGBT Community. Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Two Ways You Can Support GLBT Youth This Week

October is Anti-Bullying Month

In deference to October as anti-bullying month, glaad, The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is sponsoring Spirit Day on Friday, October 19th.  On that day, millions of Americans will wear purple to speak out against bullying and to show support for GLBT youth.

Why Purple?  It represents spirit on the rainbow flag.  Participants will either wear purple on Spirit Day or change their social media profile pictures to purple using GLAAD’s Spirit Day apps available at http://glaad.org/spiritday. “By going purple for Spirit Day, millions of Americans are helping to send a clear message that no one should be bullied simply because of who they are,” states GLAAD President Herndon Graddick.

Businesses that Participate in Spirit Day

AT&T is the exclusive underwriter of the of the Spirit Day Text purple campaign: supporters can donate to GLAAD, Glsen ( Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network)and The Trevor Project by texting ‘PURPLE’ to 80888 to make a $5 contribution.

American Apparel, the Los Angeles clothing manufacturer launched a Spirit Day store featuring the company’s purple clothing items. Supporters will receive a special 10% discount on the purple items by using the promo code ‘SPIRIT’ at check out.  American Apparel will donate 10% of all ‘purple proceeds’ to GLAAD.

Celebrities Don Purple on October 19th

Hosts of ‘Good Morning America,’ ‘The Talk,” ‘E!News,’ ‘Chelsea Lately,’ among others, have pledged to wear purple along with Katy Butler, the 17 year old openly lesbian Michigan high school student whose campaign changed the Motion Picture  ‘R’ rating of the documentary “Bully.” Butler is calling for President Obama and Governor Romney to wear purple on Friday.

What will you be wearing this Friday?

GLSEN Sponsors ALLY WEEK, October 15-19, 2012

Glsen, the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students is sponsoring its seventh Ally Week in schools and communities nationwide October 15-19. Ally Week is a time that student organizers can plan events that serve to identify, support, and celebrate allies against anti-LGBT language, bullying and harassment in U.S. schools. Students, often with the help of Glsen’s resources, plan events for their school community through their Gay Straight Alliances, similar clubs, pledge drives, PSA announcements, as well as workshops. The events increase awareness for students and school staff of anti-LGBT behavior while working to build the networks of support within the schools.

Ways to Show Your Support

  • Register your school and event on http://action.glsen.org/page/s/allyweek
  • Take the Ally Pledge found on http://www.allyweek.org/resources
  • Print badges and twibbons from website to use.
  • Make a video of why you’re an ally or why allies are important to you.
  • Post your story about why allies are important to your or why it’s important that you as an ally are creating safer schools for LGBT youth.
  • Download  resources that include sample letter to administrators, printable pledge form, printable pledge cards, Ally Week Organizing Manual, 20 Things You Can Do for Ally Week, Ally 101 Workshop Guide, and Thank you Card to send to allies.
  • Find out now about other days of action such as National Silence Day in April 2013.

Most importantly, show your support not just for this week, but throughout the year for GLBT students.

 

Rick Santorum Thinks Gays Are So Powerful!

The Ex-Senator, Rick Santorum, seems to think we;  our little gathering  of gay and lesbian people are a lot more powerful than even we thought we were,   he thinks we have to the power to overthrow the entire religious establishment. But,  not only that,  he seems to think we can destroy the entire human race by ending families and smashing to pieces over two thousand years of marriage by simply living under the same laws as everyone else!  Gosh,   we’ve got some power then huh Rick.

The former senator,  not popular enough to run for President,  has stepped up joined the campaign against equal marriage in Washington state.  He claims that  if marriage equality became a reality, churches and families would be destroyed.   The former Republican presidential candidate said that marriage would “disintegrate” if equal marriage became law.   He was addressing the audience at a closed-door Spokane fundraiser for the Family Policy Institute of Washington, an anti-marriage equality group.

There are only a few weeks to go before the  November 6th,  referendum on equal marriage takes place in the state of Washington, which is a milestone for equality in the State. The video of Mr Santorum’s full address  is posted by SeattlePI,  in which he claims  “This is a turning point in American history and, yes, the state of Washington,” he said.   “The movement you are fighting is the most important movement to win,” he said, “This issue will destroy and undermine the church in America more than any other movement,”

Mr Santorum warned that the fight against equal marriage rights was more important than the anti-abortion battle, and that marriage, and the American family, would “disintegrate” if equal marriage became law.

He described opponents to the referendum as “on the side of truth,” and said: “You folks are in the front line. You folks are in the foxhole.”    He said that Western European countries were “declining” because of “a secular revolution, a godless revolution”, which threatened to spread to America and “destroy the institutions of America’s foundation, destroy the American family.”

Mr Santorum whined on  about the “normalisation, acceptance, tolerance,” of LGBT people since the 1990s, and said: “This will be the norm in America,” he said, “this is what you are fighting. You are on the front lines.”

The deeply homophobic Santorum doesn’t like gay people obviously,  from his remarks it seems like he doesn’t want us to even be allowed to be free in America,  the land of the free.  He seems to be saying simply allowing gay people to share the same legal rights as our heterosexual counterparts will somehow change the way straight people love each other.    His remarks come hot on the back of a poll last week that showed the population of Washington  supported marriage equality was running at 57 per cent.  How allowing two people to join together in marriage would end other peoples families seems a bit far fetched by anybody with even a reasonable IQ of say over 2.

Maine and Maryland will also be voting on marriage equality on November 6. At the same time, Minnesota voters will choose whether to make a constitutional amendment which would define marriage as only between one man and one woman.  This is a most troubling time and a crucial one in American history,  as the number of states that increasingly go down to rout of setting up laws to ban marriage equality,  the more they are sending the message that gay and lesbian’s are second class citizens.  Discrimination is widespread all over the country and the USA is one of very few most powerful nations on earth that DONT have national laws to prevent discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.  There is increasing concern in the international community over the anti-equality stance and the laws that legally permit discrimination in the USA and undoubtedly  the  US reputation is being harmed dramatically.

 

 

September is Suicide Prevention Month

The Trevor Project, the leading national organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth, has named September as National Suicide Prevention Month, with a month of awareness activation on youth suicide prevention. September 27th is Trevor Day,  named to raise awareness and show support for youth in crisis through special events held throughout the country.

“Talk to Me “ Campaign

To encourage conversation and support for the GLBTQ population, The Trevor Project has a current campaign “Talk to Me.”  It is inspired by research released by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this month that indicates that the promotion of help-seeking has a significant impact on suicide. The campaign has five components:

  • Pledge
  • Post
  • Wear
  • Act
  • Share

For more details, see http://www.thetrevorproject.org/talktome/2012

History of The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project was founded in 1998 in West Hollywood by three filmmakers, creators of an Academy Award-winning short film “Trevor.” This film was about a gay thirteen-year-old boy, who was rejected by his friends and attempted suicide. When the film was scheduled to air on HBO in 1998, the filmmakers wanted a support line for kids like Trevor to be aired during the broadcast.

“Build It And They Will Come”

Finding that none existed, they formed, with the help of The Colin Higgins Foundation and HBO’s license fee, The Trevor Lifeline, the first and only nationwide 24 hour crisis and suicide prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth. 1-866-488-7386.

It’s a free and confidential service that offers hope and counseling. Without judgment, the trained counselors listen and understand. They can also direct the caller to supportive organizations and groups in the caller’s area.

Celebrities, both gay and straight, have supported The Trevor Project. Since August 10, 2009, actor Daniel Radcliffe, “Harry Potter,” gave generously to the Lifeline because “it is truly devastating to learn that LGBTQ youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.” There is a Live Chat Q & A with Daniel Radcliffe now on the website as well as You Tube and Google + pages.

Other services that The Trevor Project include are:

  • Dear Trevor, an online non-time-sensitive question-and-answer resource for young persons with questions surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Trevor Chat, a live and secure online messaging service for those not at risk for suicide.
  • Trevor Space, an online social networking community for LGBTQ youth, ages 13 and 24, and their friends and allies. With links to the home page, Trevor Space is monitored by administrators designed by the project to ensure content is age-appropriate for personal profiles.
  • Youth Advisory Council serves as a liaison between youth nationwide and the project as it relates to young people and the issues surrounding suicide, sexuality and gender identity. This Council submits recommendations to the project to increase Trevor visibility and best serve the LGBTQ population.
  • Palette Fund Internship Program has five internships in Los Angeles, New York City offices. They work in communication and development and are introduced to the LGBTQ youth population.
  • School Workshops. The Lifeguard Workshop Program uses an age-appropriate curriculum to address sexuality, gender identity, and effects of language and behavior upon LGBTQ students. It also teaches recognition of depression and suicide among peers and suicide prevention skills in schools.
  • Awards:  Annual events honor individuals and businesses that have been leaders in supporting LGBT rights and advocated against bullying and hate crimes. Lady Gaga won last year’s Trevor Hero Award. Past recipients of the Trevor Life Award for inspiration to LGBTQ youth include Roseanne Barr and Debra Messing.

 

Be Willing To Help Others

Wealth and prosperity are usually terms associated with money and financial matters.  When one is wealthy it generally means that they have a lot of money in the bank and are most times influential in matters of business.  We also would like to think that well-to-do individuals have some philanthropic commitment to humanity, generally.

In much more subjective terms, however, wealth and prosperity do not necessarily equate to matters grounded in money.  An individual can be wealthy and prosperous in spirit and have a benevolent outlook on life and toward the humans and other creatures encompassed within one’s existence and yet have very little monetary worth.  In this instance one’s philanthropic commitment may be more focused on improving the human condition and imparting wisdom to others, thus touching other people’s lives in a much more meaningful way than money ever could.

How many rich people have you known that seem to be void of any obligation to helping others or reaching out to someone who has been wronged or just in need of a helping hand.  Conversely, there are people struggling with their own lives, just trying to make ends meet, but yet, they are constantly offering what little they have to others; thinking of someone else’s well being before their own.  It would appear, anecdotally anyway, that when wealthy people have some grounding in the converse situation, they seem to have more of an appreciation of the human condition and the needs of those less fortunate.

In the context of queer issues, how many times have you seen a queer person turn the other cheek and deny a helping hand to someone else struggling with their sexuality?  They make a conscious decision to withhold their wealth of knowledge, their wisdom, and do not give of themselves in a prosperous way to help someone in need with a kind word, a smile or some other reassuring gesture to make them feel that they are not alone.

If you are out, do not be void in your obligation to help someone else not yet out of the closet.  Remember the days of your solitary anguish and use your experiences to help others move forward toward becoming who they truly were born to be.  You do not need to be wealthy to be generous with your willingness to help others become strong, complete and prosperous queer individuals.  Decide to impart yourselves to others and not keep yourself within yourself, thus touching no one in a beneficial way.

Michigan Lesbians tackling Adoption

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a Michigan Lesbian couple, today filed an additional complaint in court during a news conference today. Besides their civil rights lawsuit to change Michigan’s state’s law barring same-sex couples from adopting, they amended their suit to declare Michigan’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional as well. They are challenging Governor Richard Synder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard Jr. They are the first, according to the Associated Press, to challenge the state’s ban, operative since 2004,  on same-sex marriage. (See “April DeBoer And Jayne Rose, Michigan Lesbian Couple, Battle State’s Marriage and Adoption Laws,” Huffpost Gay Voices, September 7, 2012).

What They Want

The Hazel Park couple are fostering three “special needs” children: Nolan, 3, Ryanne, 2, and Jacob, 2. One adopted one child and the other adopted two, all because the law does not allow them to adopt the children together. They are concerned that because they are not legally married, if one partner dies, the other has no legal claim to the children she did not legally adopt. Only one of them can make legal and and medical decisions for each child. Their children could lose health insurance and other benefits that heterosexual married people automatically enjoy. Says April, ” for Jayne and I this fight is, and always will be, about the rights and protections of our children. It has never been about our rights.”

The state of Michigan wants Judge Bernard Friedman to dismiss a lawsuit that would challenge a ban on adoption for unmarried couples. One of five states that bans joint adoption by unmarried parents, Michigan, in the past seven years, has not passed any proposals introduced to allow second-parent adoptions. In 2011, two new state proposals House Bill 4249 and Senate Bill 169 were introduced that are sitting in committee.

What their Lawyer Says 

The attorney acting on their behalf, Dana Nessel, states that “the state gave them children who had been abandoned and surrendered at birth to raise. They are raising them with all the love, nurturing, care and affection that a parent would give to any child. But the state then rewards these women by telling them while they are good enough to foster as a couple, but not good enough to adopt as a couple. We submit that this is pure and utter insanity.”

Stay tuned to this landmark challenge.