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Entries in LGBT (9)

Tuesday
Jul242012

Nebraska Lesbian Mutilated in Anti-Gay Hate Crime

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LINCOLN, Neb.) -- Nebraska cops are hunting three masked men who carved derogatory epithets into the body of an openly gay woman.

"Three men wearing masks, that's all the victim was able to provide," said Officer Katie Flood of the Lincoln Police Department.

"Derogatory terms associated with her sexual orientation were painted inside her home," the officer said.

Flood would not comment on what was carved into the victim's body.

The woman, who is 33, was bound, gagged and mutilated early Sunday and the three attackers splashed the victim's home with gasoline and tried to set it on fire, scorching a floor, police reports state. The attack is being classified as a hate crime.

"According to our policy any offense is classified as a hate crime when it appears biased regarding someone's sexual orientation," Flood said.

The officer refused to divulge additional details, telling ABC News, "We are not releasing any further details."

A neighbor of the woman was appalled by the attack.

"When someone takes the time to handcuff someone with a zip tie and carve derogatory comments or words into somebody else's body, that's sheer hate and at this point, this is a hate crime," a neighbor who declined to be identified told ABC affiliate KLKN.

The victim is openly homosexual, said her friend Erin Thompson who spoke with the Omaha World-Herald. She said that the attackers slashed the word "dyke" among two other epithets into the victim's stomach and arm.

Hundreds of Lincoln residents came out to show their support for the victim, holding a vigil in front of the State Capitol Building Sunday evening. "Hate crimes are despicable and appalling to me and to all Lincoln residents," the city's mayor said in a statement.

Among those present at the vigil were members of Lincoln's gay and lesbian community.

"Someone hurt someone in my family -- my LGBT family," one person told ABC's KLKN.

Some residents fear this may be a setback for the local gay and lesbian community, one that that only two months prior saw local officials approve a measure that would ensure fair treatment of gay and transgendered residents in housing and job applications.

"Another reason it's difficult to come out in Lincoln," wrote one commenter on Outlinc's Facebook page, a local non-profit organization that supports the city's LGBT community.

"Many in our community are understandably experiencing a great deal of sadness, anger, and confusion," said Tyler Richard, President of Outlinc, in a statement on the organization's homepage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun082012

Backed By Obama, Pride Month Takes Off

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It’s a rite of June that has been going on for years. In cities across the country, including Washington, rainbow flags wave beneath the summer sun as the LGBT community celebrates “Pride Month.”

Friday night, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray held a reception and panel discussion on the LGBT Alliance in politics. At the reception,  transgendered, gay and lesbian members and advocates acknowledged each other with the warm greeting of “Happy Pride!” Mayor Gray hosted a live interview followed by a panel discussion with local politicians. The audience was in good spirits as the panel vocally supported LGBT causes. And this year, LGBT advocates have something more to celebrate.

In May, President Obama told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in an exclusive interview that he thinks “same sex couples should be able to get married,” a comment that made Obama the first sitting president to voice support for same sex marriage. The president’s support has lit a flame under the members of the LGBT community during the 2012 Pride Parades giving the phrase “Happy Pride” a new meaning.

Talking to ABC News before taking part in the panel Thursday evening, Mayor Gray said “people are exhilarated by what Obama has come out and done but there does not seem to be a fundamental change in Pride week simply because of Obama’s remarks.” He affirmed that Washington has always shared this sense of pride for the LGBT community.

Advocates feel empowered by the political progress made in the past few years. Bonnie Cullison, a gay member of the Maryland House of Delegates, said that she has “certainly noticed a change for the better since Obama had vocalized support of same sex marriage.”

She believes that gay marriage was a “wedge” issue in the 2008 presidential campaign and that it was very meaningful for the Obama administration to jump on board with same sex advocacy. Cullison believes that the Obama administration has brought same-sex marriage to the forefront of public discourse, enabling politicians and citizens alike to engage in the conversation.

Members of the LGBT community in “gay-friendly” Washington have rallied in support of Pride Week for a long time now, but what about American cities that aren’t so accepting?

Salt Lake City, Utah held its Pride Parade earlier this week with the largest Mormon turnout seen in the city’s history, organizers said. The outburst of support and participation in Salt Lake City was an “outlet for individuals to declare that Mitt Romney’s views of gay marriage do not speak for the whole Mormon population,” according to Sarah McBride, a young transgendered LGBT advocate who attended the LGBT Alliance event on Thursday night.

“I hope that the turnout in Salt Lake City this week was a result of people acting out against the policies of Mitt Romney and his administration,” Mayor Gray told ABC News. “Supporting same-sex marriage is the right thing to do. It is welcomed in Washington, D.C. and should be picked up in other states as well.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May232012

Air Force Academy Graduates First Openly Gay Cadets

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) -- Eight months after a repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, the U.S. Air Force Academy Wednesday graduated its first group of openly gay cadets.

As President Obama addressed the graduates, no rainbow flags could be seen on display. The LGBT students couldn’t be picked out of the crowd of white and blue.

But gay and lesbian advocates, academy alums, school officials and current students said they were there.

“The whole thing is we don’t want to be identified as anything different,” said Trish Heller, who heads the Blue Alliance, an association of LGBT Air Force Academy alumni. “We want to serve, to be professional and to be symbols of what it means to be Air Force Academy graduates.”

Heller said her group had connected with at least four members of the class of 2012 receiving diplomas Wednesday who had come out publicly as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  There were likely others, but they preferred to keep a low profile, she said.

Conversations with dozens of current academy students and some new graduates presented a picture of a smooth transition from the military’s ban on openly gay service members serving to the repeal of that ban. There have been no major incidents of overt discrimination or harassment since the policy was repealed in September.

But many signaled the change in policy would continue to hold a tender and personal meaning for those cadets who were weighing the decision to come out of the closet.

“It’s just been really open, a lot of acceptance. I haven’t heard anyone say, ‘I hate this. I can’t serve in the military with this,’” said 3rd Class Cadet Kevin Wise, a second-year management major. “It’s a sense of ‘OK, this is their lifestyle, but they’re still the person I’ve spent 21 credit hours a semester next to or I’ve gone through this with,’” he said.

Wise said he knew several classmates who chose to come out in the past few months. “Honestly, for me, it was, ‘Oh well, I kind of had a suspicion since I’ve known you for two years now, but you just move on,'” he said.

Acacia Miller, a sophomore from Shreveport, La., praised the school’s leadership for setting the right tone before the repeal. “They did a good job preparing us. There were lots of briefings about it. They stated how the military was going to go forward with it, how we should act. It was pretty much just like any other repeal, segregation, all that stuff. We just got told this is what’s going to happen and we all need to be adults about it,” she said.

Gay cadets at all the U.S. military service academies have been forming clubs and support groups, slowly making their existence known online and at campus social events. The Air Force Academy group -- called Spectrum -- was officially sanctioned earlier this month and had about 30 members from across all classes, the organizers said.

The Air Force Academy’s administration has also allowed the Blue Alliance to have a more high-profile role on campus. The group flew rainbow flags during a tailgate party before a home football game in November, Heller said, and hosted a dinner attended by the dean of faculty, Gen. Dana Born. In February, the group participated in a campus leadership symposium, she said.

“Things have gone very smoothly at the academies since repeal,” said Sue Fulton, a 1980 West Point graduate and spokeswoman for the LGBT military advocacy group OutServe.

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was approved by President Clinton in 1993 as a compromise toward ending a long-standing ban on allowing homosexuals to serve in the military. Gay service members could enlist but had to keep quiet about their sexual orientation.  Advocates said it essentially forced them to live a lie.

Congress passed a law in 2010 formally ordering repeal of the policy. After a period of preparation and training for lifting the ban, the Pentagon gave the green light for final certification in September 2011.

Advocates said they never believed the repeal would prove problematic on campus, given that younger generations of students were generally more accepting of homosexuality, and the military’s commitment to following the rules set by leaders.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May032012

NC Pastor Apologizes for Encouraging Violence Toward Gay Children

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) -- A North Carolina pastor who told parents in a Sunday sermon that they should hit their children if they began to act gay has retracted his advice, saying he should have spoken more carefully.

Pastor Sean Harris, of the Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., apologized in a statement released this week for "any and all words that suggest that child abuse is appropriate for any and all types of behaviors, including (but not limited to) effeminacy and sexual immorality of all types."

In the sermon, given Sunday in support of a proposed North Carolina amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, Harris talked at length about homosexual behaviors. At one point, he instructed fathers who "see that son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist."

Harris said that gay tendencies in young children should be "squashed like a cockroach" and that if parents see young boys acting like girls, fathers should "give [them] a good punch."

"When your daughter starts acting too butch, you reign her in," Harris said in the sermon, which was posted in a video online. "You're going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl, and that means you're going to be beautiful and you're going to be attractive and you're going to dress yourself up."

Harris later told the Fayetteville Observer newspaper on Tuesday that he "would never ever advocate" hitting a child.

"If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt," Harris told the newspaper Tuesday.

Despite retracting his statement that parents should be violent toward seemingly-gay children, Harris reiterated that parents should reinforce traditional gender roles in children.

"I do not apologize for the manner in which the word of God articulates sexual immorality, including homosexuality and effeminacy, as a behavior that is an abomination of God," he said in a written statement.

Gay rights activists in Harris' community equated his tactics with the Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist Christian church.

Harris did not return calls for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Md. Priest Who Denied Lesbian Communion at Funeral Placed on Leave

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A priest who denied communion to a gay woman at her mother’s funeral mass has been put on leave by the Washington D.C.-area archdiocese, but the archdiocese said the suspension is not related to the communion controversy.

In a statement, the archdiocese said Father Marcel Guarnizo was placed on administrative leave because of “credible allegation that Father Guarnizo had engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others.”

The statement did not elaborate on what that behavior might have been.

Guarnizo, a suburban Maryland priest, had been criticized by Barbara Johnson and her family for his behavior at the funeral of Johnson’s mother. Johnson, who is a lesbian, said Guarnizo denied her communion at her mother’s funeral mass.

“He covered the bowl with the Eucharist with his hand and looked at me, and said I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin in the eyes of the church,” Johnson told ABC News affiliate WLJA in Washington.

“She was clearly distraught,”  her older brother Larry Johnson told ABC News.

Both Barbara and Larry Johnson wrote letters to the Archdiocese of Washington, saying they believe that Guarnizo’s actions then and during the rest of the funeral were unacceptable. The Johnsons say the priest walked out of the service while Barbara Johnson was delivering her eulogy.

Family members also say the priest failed to come to the grave site, and the burial was attended by a substitute priest found by the funeral director.

As for the decision to suspend Guarnizo, Larry Johnson told ABC News: “I think the actions of the diocese speak for themselves. Whatever the ultimate reasons were, as far as I’m concerned, this individual, for the time being, will not be in parish life."

“I think this is a pretty significant action that they took,” he said. “I don’t think they would have taken it lightly.”

The Johnson family issued a statement Monday saying that they “pray for the Archdiocese of Washington, Father Guarnizo, and all Catholics during this time of upheaval.”

“While we understand this letter does not pertain to the events that occurred at our mother’s funeral, we are hopeful that Bishop Knestout’s decision will ensure that no others will have to undergo the traumatic experiences brought upon our family,” the statement said. “We urge all Catholics to put aside political points of view, and pray that our Church will remain in Christ’s love."

But the head of DignityUSA, a group that focuses on gay and lesbian rights and the Catholic Church, said the incident is part of a wider problem.

“The reality is in some ways it is very emblematic of the hierarchy’s approach to gay people, transgender people,” Marianne Duddy-Burke said. “There are little messages of rejection that happen all the time.”

Guarnizo did not return an email asking for a comment about the communion incident.

The Archdiocese of Washington issued a statement that indicated Guarnizo should have taken up the matter of whether Johnson could receive communion in private.

“When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for communion it is not the policy of the Archdiocese to Washington to publicly reprimand the person,” the statement said.

Duddy-Burke said the archdiocese’s response misses the point.

“I would hope that it provides a wake-up call to church leaders to make them see where the extremes of their policy are leading,” she said. “My concern is they will just see this as an isolated incident and fail to see the context.”

Larry and Barbara Johnson both received letters from the archdiocese apologizing “that what should have been a celebration of your mother’s life…was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity.”

Guarnizo has been in the Washington area for a year, after serving as a priest in Russia. The Archdiocese of Washington has launched an inquiry into his alleged intimidating behavior toward staff and others. In its statement, the archdiocese said, Guarnizo will remain on leave “until all matters can be appropriately resolved with the hope that he might return to the priestly ministry.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb242012

Gay Texas Judge Refuses to Perform Marriage Ceremonies

File photo. (http://tonyaparkerforjudge.com)(DALLAS) -- Texas Judge Tonya Parker cannot legally marry a woman in her state, so she refuses to perform any marriage ceremonies until there is equality. She finds it "oxymoronic" to perform a ceremony that cannot be performed for her.

Parker, an openly gay judge, told a group at a Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meeting Tuesday that when she turns a couple away, she uses it as an opportunity to teach them a lesson about marriage equality.

"I don't perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality and until it does, I'm not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn't apply to another group of people," Parker said in a video of the Tuesday discussion. "And it's kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can't be performed for me, so I'm not going to do it."

A spokeswoman for the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct said the commission had no comment.

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Parker is the first LGBT person elected as a judge in Dallas County and she is believed to be the first openly LGBT African-American elected official in the state's history, according to the Dallas Voice.

Parker described examples of discrimination in the courtroom that she has seen and been able to stop.

She once heard a case involving a man who allegedly molested a young boy in which a participant used the terms "homosexual" and "child molester" interchangeably.

"When a man molests a little girl, people don't call him heterosexual," Parker said in the video. "So, when this man molests this little boy, assuming [the] allegations to be true, you are not going to stand in my courtroom and call him a homosexual."

Another example she gave was the Texas Supreme Court's jury instruction that dictates that jurors cannot discuss cases with their husbands or wives.

"Well, I might have modified it a little bit," Parker said to her audience. "And I said, 'Do not discuss this case with your husband, your wife or your partner.'"

She said these are small ways of making her point but she believes it is important to go out of her way to do things that others in the LGBT community might not be able to do because they are not in her position of power.

"I want to help those folks to have dignity, in that moment that they are with me, to know that I see you," she said. "I see you."

Parker did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News. A court clerk said she was in court day.

Parker's goal as a judge is to "make sure laws are applied equally to everyone who comes to court and that we take the opportunity to put issues on people's radar's that might not otherwise be there."

Seven states currently allow gay marriage. Maryland would become next one next week, if the governor signs into law a recently passed bill as promised.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct172011

University of Iowa Weighs Adding a Gay Fraternity on Campus

Scott Morgan/Getty Images(IOWA CITY, Iowa) -- The University of Iowa may be the site of the newest chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity for gay and bisexual men, and their straight allies.

The university will gauge student interest in opening a chapter at a meeting Oct. 25, but until then Kelly Jo Karnes, associate director of the university's Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, is confident that "all signs say yes, there is interest."

Karnes and her colleagues are encouraged by the success of a Delta Lambda Phi chapter that opened in 2005 at nearby Iowa State University.

"We know, OK, this can work in the Midwest," Karnes said. "We don't need to be in an East Coast or West Coast school to do this."

Opening a chapter of a gay fraternity is part of a larger strategy to expand Greek life on the University of Iowa campus, said Karnes. "We want to make sure we're offering a wide variety of groups," Karnes said. "You don't have to have a cookie-cutter experience in Greek life."

Chris Newman, the executive director of Delta Lambda Phi, said that interest in the gay fraternity has grown. Last year alone, it added eight chapters, increasing the total number from 19 to 27 nationwide. The fraternity has outposts at such schools as New York University, Vanderbilt and the University of Arizona. There's even a "colony" chapter at McGill University in Montreal. While still a small, Delta Lambda Phi is larger than gay fraternity Sigma Phi Beta or Gamma Rho Lambda, a lesbian sorority.

Newman said starting Delta Lambda Phi chapters at Midwestern state schools can be easier than opening them in large urban centers of the Northeast.

"A lot of those Midwestern schools, they are sort of these little liberal centers in typically conservative states, and they have very strong Greek systems because there isn't much else to do when you're in the middle of a cornfield," he said. "We actually struggle in urban areas, because there's no interest -- there are so many other outlets."

For Joe Picini, co-founder of BornLikeThis.org, an LGBTQ support website, gay fraternities might be stronger in rural areas because lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students don't have as many outlets available to them. An alumnus of New York University, Picini was vice president of the campus chapter of Delta Lambda Phi. "In urban settings," he said, "there is already a very strong sense of a gay community."

Schools that don't have gay Greek organizations often offer other social and service opportunities for LGBTQ students. William Atkins, assistant director of Greek life at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, said the school hadn't yet measured student interest in starting a gay fraternity, but that LGBTQ students who were already in Greek organizations worked for the community through Lambda Alliance, a group that recognizes sexual diversity in fraternities and sororities.

An increase in LGBTQ services could be part of a broader movement that recognizes gay marriage and gays serving in the military. "There's a widening conversation in general about the lives of LGBTQ people," said Gabe Javier, the director of the LGBTQ campus center at University of Wisconsin-Madison. And that leads to more resources being provided across the board, from community groups to LGBTQ-focused Greek life.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar282011

'OutServe' Magazine Launched for Active-Duty Gay and Lesbian Troops  

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An underground group of gay and lesbian service members Monday launched a new magazine, OutServe, hoping it will spread awareness about the contributions of gay troops and serve as a watchdog for the full repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

OutServe, the group behind the magazine, was formed last year to create a supportive community for active-duty gay service members who still cannot reveal their sexual orientation out of fear that they might be discharged while "don't ask, don't tell" is being repealed. The 18-page magazine, published electronically, represents the latest step in that mission, with feature stories, photographs and contact information for OutServe chapters around the world. The publishers plan to make the next edition available in print as well as online.

"We definitely hope to have it in select [military] installations, as well as the Department of Defense," J. Mills, the editor of the magazine, who is active-duty in the Air Force, said, asking that his first name be withheld to avoid reprisal from the military.

Mills pulled together the first edition of the magazine with a team of three other people but, he said, he expects the May-June issue to be twice as long with work from more contributors. He said OutServe has already been contacted by potential advertisers and others who simply want to give their time and talents.

"The magazine really is a grassroots efforts by our own people to reach out and support our own," Mills said.

As the formal repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" progresses, Mills expects the magazine to share stories about OutServe members and focus on still-contentious issues such as benefits for partners of gay service members, he said.

OutServe was formed in July and has rapidly grown to include about 2,900 members in more than 40 chapters. The group says that members come from all five military branches, including a mix of officers and enlisted men.

President Obama signed the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" into law in December but the implementation of the repeal is occurring gradually. The Pentagon has said that the training process will be completed this year, with different timelines for each branch of the service.

OutServe magazine is aimed primarily at active-duty lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops, but its editors hope it might also make a difference to others in the military who come across the publication.

"It just helps us get our message out and helps people to see that this is no big deal," Mills said. "Full implementation is right around the corner, and we think it's a great thing to get this out sooner rather than later."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct202010

Facebook Users Wear Purple, Stand Up Against Anti-LGBT 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Purple was the color of choice on Facebook Wednesday, as millions of users showed support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens.

Answering the call from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to "wear purple on Oct. 20 for Spirit Day," Facebook fans around the world changed their status messages, created purple versions of their profile pictures, joined Facebook groups and more.

Oct. 20 was designated Spirit Day by Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan to honor the teenagers who recently committed suicide after anti-LGBT bullying online, according to GLAAD.

Rallying around the cause, several Facebook groups encouraging people to wear purple have popped on the site. One of the biggest, "R.I.P. ;; In memory of the recent suicides due to gay abuse, wear purple," has attracted more than 1.6 million attendees.

In news feeds across the site, Facebook fans from California to Canada and Vienna to Venezuela posted messages of support.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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