Crisis in the LGBT Community: We Are Losing Our History


by David Mixner
June 30, 2010
(source)

Aristotle once wrote,

“If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.”

The quote contains enormous wisdom for young LGBT Americans. For them to understand the current epic battle for civil rights, they must understand how it emerged over time and was fashioned by heroes and heroines. The story of our journey is a magnificent one filled with amazing moments and astounding individuals. The LGBT community has emerged from a real greatness that must never be forgotten.

However, we are on the brink of losing a good portion of our history. Those individuals who fought in the trenches in the period from the 1950’s through the 1980’s are soon to become endangered species as more and more die from natural causes. As with World War II veterans, time is rapidly running out to capture their stories. The recent “New York Times” article on Stonewall pioneer lesbian Storme DeLarverie (photograph) reminds us all how important these stories are to be preserved for future generations.

Deeply aggravating the situation was the deliberate destruction of so much of our history during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the dark years of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. When some of our early pioneering activists died of HIV/AIDS their families, ashamed of them for both being gay and also dying of AIDS, destroyed any document, record or letter that would shine light on their journey as a homosexual. When I was organizing my papers for the “David Mixner Collection at Yale University,” I was shocked at what little information was left from the early stages of the movement. For example, thinking I had just one of thousands of newsletters printed by organizations in the 1970’s that no longer exist, I quickly found out that I had one of maybe a dozen that still survive! Entire sections of materials were erased by our families ashamed that we were homosexuals.

No sophisticated oral history project has surfaced and been well-financed to capture the remaining survivors of this period. Our LGBT pioneers are rapidly disappearing and along with them so are their stories. As the article on Storme illustrates, due to the stress of getting older, many who remain have trouble recalling details even now.

Our current young activists and future generations need to understand that we come from giants and a history of courage, dignity and bravery. Let’s not lose our storie to those who wanted to erase our journey. Time is running out …..quickly.

On Equality


by Alexi Giannoulias
U.S. Senate nominee and Illinois State Treasurer
Campaign Rally
Jun 21, 2010
(source)

From David Mixner:

As we watch people in Washington attempt to find ways to dribble out our human rights without taking a tough stand on issues like marriage equality, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias who is running for United States Senate in Illinois shows how it should be done. Without equivocating or searching for new words to describe our struggle, he comes down squarely and unconditioinally for full equality.

This charismatic young Democrat represents the new generation of Americans running for office who refuse to abide by the old ways of caution. Want to know who should get your funds this year? Just click here and support this amazing man. Watch this video and you will become even more impatient with those who refuse to stand by our side in marriage equality

Google: Celebrating Pride 2010


Celebrating Pride 2010
Google Blog
July 1, 2010
(source)

Googlers came out en masse this year to celebrate Pride around the world, in cities ranging from Dublin to Pittsburgh. Pride celebrations are a time for family, friends and members of the LGBT* community to reiterate their commitment to equality and honor the trailblazers whose efforts made it possible for us to stand out and proud today.

Nearly 300 Googlers marched with colorful balloons down Market Street for San Francisco’s 40th annual Pride parade. We braved the rain in Boston, enjoyed the sun in New York, rode a trolley in Chicago and marched with the Israel Gay Youth Organization in Tel Aviv and Haifa. Googlers will be participating in EuroPride, held in Poland this year, as well as many other parades, including Tokyo for the first time. And we’ll be celebrating Pride season in Singapore too.

This year, we have another reason to celebrate. Google will be grossing-up imputed taxes on health insurance benefits for all same-sex domestic partners in the United States, retroactive to January 1, 2010. Starting July 1, we’ll also be providing the equivalent of the Family and Medical Leave Act for all same-sex domestic partners. And we’ve worked with our carriers to update their definition of infertility—it’s now defined as the inability to conceive a child with no stipulations on trying for one year.

Google supports its LGBT employees in many ways: raising its voice in matters of policy, taking a moment to remember the plight of transgender people around the world and going the extra mile to ensure that its employees are treated fairly.

There’s a lot be proud of this year but we know the best is yet to come. We look forward to many more years of Pride celebrations. Take a glimpse at the global festivities below.

*LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered but, without letting the acronym get too unwieldy, is also intended to include people who identify as queer, asexual or intersexed, amongst others.

Posted by Cynthia Yeung, Strategic Partner Development Team

Poverty is a Queer Issue


by Gloria Nieto
June 29, 2010
(source)

Over the weekend, Pride weekend in many parts of the world, I visited with old friends.  What was completely astonishing to me was the state of poverty that we find ourselves in right now.

All of us are well over 50.  We are the only ones to lose our home at this point.  The other friends are barely holding on.  Of the four of us out the other night at the Egyptian museum, only one of us has a job.  The other three hobos, I mean homos, have all been gainfully employed all our adult lives.  One has owned and operated several businesses over time.  Her unemployment just ran out on Friday.  She is one of the 1.3 million who were dropped that day.

My unemployment ran out back in April.  No income since then so my spouse is trying to keep both of us afloat.

The other friend is on disability and her partner is her paid caregiver.  The Governator is about to drop that program so that poor disabled will continue to bear the burden of this Depression.  They live a half hour drive out of town and cannot afford to move in closer to town so they are facing down foreclosure also.

I have to give a shout out to fellow blogger Patricia Nell Warren  for also talking about the financial crisis many lgbt folks find themselves in, including herself.  We are losing our houses, our savings, our dignity in this disaster.

In all the latest rumblings about LGBT rights, I wonder how we get more of our own folks realizing the recession is a queer issue?  ENDA is a jobs bill, so is DADT.  But ultimately my life and ability to be a participating member is tied up in the Senate and their lack of understanding of our realities, straight and LGBT.

It was finally explained to me during my last visit to DC.  It is an obvious answer, really.  None of the legislature, Senate and House alike, ever see needy people every day.  There is always money in DC so since they don’t go outside of the comfort zone of the Hill and their homes, why would they see the other realities.

There is no urgency on the economy.  There is no urgency on anything.  When I heard the President tell the folks on the Gulf Coast that they were not going to be forgotten, I thought well what about the rest of us?  You have forgotten about us and left us.  We have no help and there is no help on the horizon.

Abandoned.

Let me ask this – how many unemployed people were invited to the White House cocktail party last week?  All the glowing reports of words from the President are irrelevant without action.  There is no action because we have been forgotten and left behind.  Again.

This continued depression has a strong effect on our community.  How many lgbt centers are struggling?  The AIDS prevention money was stripped from the California budget so who will be the next wave of infected gay men in California?  How many activists are sidelined because they have no resources and cannot devote time to planning or activism because we are crippled by poverty.  Getting turned down repeatedly for jobs doesn’t do a lot for a person’s self esteem, trust me.

There is a price to pay for this disaster.

Unfortunately, those who should be paying for it are summering in the Hamptons.  The rest of us are stuck with the bill, both financial and emotional.

So during this month of Pride, while we celebrate all our victories over the years, try to remember those on the sidelines, struggling to keep our heads above water.  Equality should mean an equal chance to contribute to our communities, live  a good life, and hold our heads high.

Mr. Fierce Advocate, this is your chance to make a difference for all of us.

Remarks at An Event Celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Month


by Hillary Clinton
Department of State
Loy Henderson Auditorium
Washington, D.C.
June 22, 2010

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Loy Henderson Auditorium
Washington, DC
June 22, 2010

Thank you. Thank you all very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Gee, let’s do this every week. (Laughter.) It’s great after a hard week to tell you how delighted I am to join with all of you from the State Department and USAID and indeed from departments across our government and many guests who are here in the State Department celebrating Pride Month.

And the purpose of this occasion is to recognize with gratitude the contributions made by LGBT members of the State Department family every single day. We celebrate the progress that is being made here in our own country toward advancing the rights of LGBT Americans, and we recognize that there is still a lot of work to be done but that we are moving together in the right direction. And we reaffirm our commitment to protect and advance the rights of all human beings, as Cheryl just said, of members of the LGBT community around the world. I want to thank Administrator Raj Shah who we are so delighted, is leading USAID into a very positive future. I want to thank Eric Schwartz, who has traveled tirelessly on behalf of his bureau here at the State Department, dealing with population, refugees, migration. And I want to thank Bob Gilchrist, the outgoing GLIFAA president, for his leadership.

I look around this room and there are not only familiar faces, but there are some longtime friends whom I have had the great personal pleasure of knowing over the years. And I must say that knowing my friends who are here, and assuming much about many of you, I know that this occasion is really part of a deeply personal effort that has impacted lives and has helped to create, as Cheryl said, more space and time for people to lead their own lives. And people in this room – I know from experience – have marched in parades and demonstrations; have lobbied our government and other governments to overturn discriminatory laws; have demonstrated courage, both in public and private, to confront hatred and intolerance; and have helped to build a national movement that reflects the diversity of America.

I have been really moved and greatly motivated by the personal stories and the testimonies of so many whom I have known over so many years. Ten years ago, I was the first First Lady – that is often a phrase that I hear – I was the first First Lady to march in a Pride parade, and it was so much fun. (Applause.) And one or two of you marched with me and I am still grateful to you. (Laughter.) As a senator from New York, I was proud to co-sponsor the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which would grant equal benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees; and the Matthew Shephard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which President Obama signed into law this year. (Applause.)

Now, we, though, in the State Department have to continue the work that many of you have begun and many of you carry on around the world. And I’m very proud that the United States, and particularly the State Department, is taking the lead to confront the circumstances that LGBT people face in just going about their daily lives. So as we enjoy today’s celebration and as we mark the progress that has been truly remarkable – I know that when you’re in the midst of a great movement of change it seems like it is glacial, but any fair assessment, from my perspective, having lived longer than at least more than 75 percent of you that I see in this room – (laughter) – is that it is extraordinary what has happened in such a short period of time.

But think about what’s happening to people as we speak today. Men and women are harassed, beaten, subjected to sexual violence, even killed, because of who they are and whom they love. Some are driven from their homes or countries, and many who become refugees confront new threats in their countries of asylum. In some places, violence against the LGBT community is permitted by law and inflamed by public calls to violence; in others, it persists insidiously behind closed doors.

These dangers are not “gay” issues. This is a human rights issue. (Applause.) Just as I was very proud to say the obvious more than 15 years ago in Beijing that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, well, let me say today that human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights, once and for all. (Applause.)

So here at the State Department, we will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We are elevating our human rights dialogues with other governments and conducting public diplomacy to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.

Our Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor produces an annual Human Rights Report that include a section on how LGBT persons are treated in every country. And recently, that bureau announced a new grant to provide emergency aid to human rights defenders in Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East who are at risk, either because they work on these issues or because of their LGBT status.

Our regional bureaus are working closely with our embassies on this issue. The Bureau of African Affairs has taken the lead by asking every embassy in Africa to report on the conditions of local LGBT communities. And I’m asking every regional bureau to make this issue a priority. (Applause.)

Today, we are joined by four human rights activists from Africa who are working to protect LGBT rights in their communities. I want to welcome them to the State Department and ask if they would stand: our four African activists. (Applause.) I thank you for the work you do, often in unfriendly, even dangerous circumstances, to advance the rights and dignity of all people.

Now, the United States is also focused on threats facing LGBT refugees. Eric Schwartz is working to increase protection for refugees who face persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Dr. Eric Goosby, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, is working to ensure that HIV prevention, treatment, and care are provided to all members of the LGBT population. For example, in the greater Mekong sub-region, we support the Purple Sky Network, which helps protect the health of gay men and transgender people who are too often overlooked or excluded from lifesaving social services.

And around the world, members of the U.S. Foreign Service continue to stand with LGBT communities in ways both large and small. There are two people who are not here that I want to mention and recognize, because they are indicative of both what people face as they fight for these rights and what our embassies and posts across the globe are doing to support them.

In Albania, a young man named Klodian Cela recently came out on a popular television program called Big Brother. Soon after, our ambassador, John Withers, went on television to publicly express support for this man. He visited his hometown and he invited him to an event at our Embassy, conveying to all Albanians that the United States supports his rights and respects his courage.

In Slovakia, at that nation’s first ever Pride Parade last month, our chargé, Keith Eddins, marched to represent the United States. There were anti-gay protestors who became violent and the police used tear gas, which our chargé and other diplomats were exposed to – a quite unpleasant experience, but in service to a just cause.

So as we continue to advance LGBT rights in other countries, we also must continually work to make sure we are advancing the agenda here.

At the State Department, USAID, and throughout the Administration, we are grateful for the contributions of all of our team. And I just want to say thank you, thank you to those of you who serve, thank you for doing so by being open and honest about who you are and helping others see the dignity and purpose of every individual. Our work is demanding and we need every person to give 100 percent. And that means creating an environment in which everyone knows they are valued and feels free to make their contribution.

Last year, I received a petition with more than 2,200 signatures supporting equal benefits to same-sex partners. And I was delighted that soon after, the President signed an executive order to that effect. This month, the Bureau of Consular Affairs issued new regulations making it easier for transgender Americans to amend their passports, ensuring dignified and fair processing. And today, I’m pleased to announce that for the first time, gender identity will be included along with sexual orientation in the State Department Equal Employee Opportunity Statement. (Applause.)

Now, we know that a lot of work lies ahead, and I really want to challenge each and every one of you. Whether you’re LGBT or not, if you’re here, you obviously care about or at least were curious enough to come, and therefore are exhibiting an interest in what we are attempting to achieve here. And in looking at you and seeing a group of accomplished, successful, well-educated, professionally challenged people reminds me that many in our own country, let alone around the world, who are LGBT don’t have those tools, don’t have those assets to be able to speak for themselves, to stand up for themselves, to be in a position to claim who they are.

I used to, when I represented New York, have the great joy and honor of traveling across New York state, so I could go to a Pride Parade in New York City and then I could be a few days later somewhere in upstate New York, where someone would take me aside after an event and whisper their fears about the life they led and wonder whether there was anything we could do. And I used to remind my very activist friends in the Pride movement that they were doing this not for themselves, because basically many of them were well enough off to be able to construct a life that would be fairly immune from the outside world, but they were doing it for so many others who did not have that opportunity, that luxury, if you will.

Well, I still believe that. We’ve come such a far distance in our own country, but there are still so many who need the outreach, need the mentoring, need the support, to stand up and be who they are, and then think about people in so many countries where it just seems impossible. So I think that each and every one of you not only professionally, particularly from State and USAID in every bureau and every embassy and every part of our government, have to do what you can to create that safe space, but also personally to really look for those who might need a helping hand, particularly young people, particularly teenagers who still, today, have such a difficult time and who still, in numbers far beyond what should ever happen, take their own lives rather than live that life. So I would ask you to please think of ways you can be there for everyone who is making this journey to defend not only human rights globally, but to truly defend themselves and their rights. The struggle for equality is never, ever finished. And it is rarely easy, despite how self-evident it should be. But the hardest-fought battles often have the biggest impact. So I hope that each and every one of us will recommit ourselves to building a future in which every person – every, single person can live in dignity, free from violence, free to be themselves, free to live up to their God-given potential wherever they live and whoever they are. And I thank you for being part of one of history’s great moments.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

Remarks by President Obama at the LGBT Pride Month Reception


by Barack Obama
East Room
June 22, 2010

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

_________________________________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release June 22, 2010

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

AT LGBT PRIDE MONTH RECEPTION

East Room

6:16 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, hello, hello! (Applause.) Hello, everybody! (Applause.) I was going to say welcome to the White House — but you guys seem like you feel right at home. (Laughter.) You don’t need me to tell you — it’s the people’s house.

A couple of acknowledgements that I want to make very quickly — first of all, our Director of the Office of Personnel Management, who has just done an extraordinary job across the government — give John Berry a big round of applause. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: All right, John!

THE PRESIDENT: All right, John! (Laughter.)

Our chair of the Export/Import Bank, helping to bring jobs here to the United States of America — Fred Hochberg. (Applause.) Our chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, doing outstanding work each and every day — Nancy Sutley. Where is she? (Applause.) Nancy is a little vertically challenged, but I see her over there. (Laughter.)

We’ve got here a trailblazer for federal appointees — we are so proud of her — Ms. Roberta Achtenberg is here. Give Roberta a big round of applause. (Applause.) And then I understand we’ve got a terrific country singer — Chely Wright is in the house. (Applause.)

In addition — I know they had to leave because they had votes, but you guys obviously don’t have just fiercer warriors on your behalf than a couple of our openly gay and lesbian members of Congress — Tammy Baldwin and Jared Polis. (Applause.) They are openly terrific. (Laughter.) They do great work.

And it is also great to have so many activists and organizers from around the country — folks who fight every day for the rights of parents and children and partners and citizens to be treated equally under the law. And so we are very proud of all of you. (Applause.)

Oh, and by the way, the guy standing next to me — this is Joe Biden. (Applause.) Just because he’s a Phillies fan — he’s from Delaware. (Laughter.)

Now, look, the fact that we’ve got activists here is important because it’s a reminder that change never comes — or at least never begins in Washington. It begins with acts of compassion -– and sometimes defiance -– across America. It begins when ordinary people –- out of love for a mother or a father, son or daughter, or husband or wife -– speak out against injustices that have been accepted for too long. And it begins when these impositions of conscience start opening hearts that had been closed, and when we finally see each other’s humanity, whatever our differences.

Now, this struggle is as old as America itself. It’s never been easy. But standing here, I am hopeful. One year ago, in this room, we marked the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall protests. (Applause.) Some of you were here, and you may remember that I pledged then that even at a time when we faced enormous challenges both on the economy and in our foreign policy, that we would not put aside matters of basic equality. And we haven’t.

We’ve got a lot of hard work that we still have to do, but we can already point to extraordinary progress that we’ve made over the past year on behalf of Americans who are gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

Just stay with me here for a second. Last year, I met with Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard’s mom, and I promised her that after a decade’s-long struggle, we would pass inclusive hate crimes legislation. I promised that in the name of her son we would ensure that the full might of the law is brought down on those who would attack somebody just because they are gay. And less than six months later, with Judy by my side, we marked the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act. It’s now the law of the land. (Applause.)

Just a few moments ago, I met with Janice Langbehn and her children. Where did Janice go? There they are right there. And when Janice’s partner of 18 years, Lisa, suddenly collapsed because of an aneurysm, Janice and the couple’s three kids were denied the chance to comfort their partner and their mom — barred from Lisa’s bedside. It was wrong. It was cruel. And in part because of their story, I instructed my Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, to make sure that any hospital that’s participating in Medicare or Medicaid -– that means most hospitals — (laughter) — allow gay and lesbian partners the same privileges and visitation rights as straight partners. (Applause.)

After I issued that memorandum, I called Janice and I told her the news. And before we came out here today, I wanted to make sure that I had followed up — Secretary Sebelius will officially be proposing this regulation. And I can also announce that the Secretary has sent a letter today asking these hospitals to adopt these changes now -– even before the rule takes effect. (Applause.) Nothing can undo the hurt that her — that Janice’s family has experienced. And nothing can undo the pain felt by countless others who’ve been through a similar ordeal –- for example, Charlene Strong is here. She lost her wife, Kate Fleming — and Charlene is here along with Kate’s mom, who said on behalf of all mothers, thank you. Because we think it’s the right thing to do. (Applause.)

In addition, I’ve issued an executive order[SIC]* to extend as many partnership benefits to gay and lesbian federal employees as possible under current law. And I’m going to continue to fight to change the law: to guarantee gay federal employees the exact same benefits as straight employees -– including access to health insurance and retirement plans. (Applause.) And in an announcement today, the Department of Labor made clear that under the Family and Medical Leave Act, same-sex couples –- as well as others raising children -– are to be treated like the caretakers that they are. (Applause.)

Because I believe in committed — I believe that committed gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country, I have called for Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. (Applause.) We are pushing hard to pass an inclusive employee non-discrimination bill. (Applause.) No one in America should be fired because they’re gay. It’s not right, it’s not who we are as Americans, and we are going to put a stop to it.

And finally, we’re going to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. (Applause.) That is a promise I made as a candidate. It is a promise that I reiterated as President. It’s one that this administration is going to keep. Now, the only way to lock this in -– the only way to get the votes in Congress to roll back this policy — is if we work with the Pentagon, who are in the midst of two wars.

And that’s why we were gratified to see, for the first time ever, the Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates, testify in favor of repeal. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, has repeatedly and passionately argued for allowing gay men and women to serve honestly in the military. (Applause.) We know that forcing gay and lesbian soldiers to live a lie or to leave the military, that doesn’t contribute to our security — it harms our security.

And thanks to Patrick Murphy and others, for the first time in history, the House has passed a repeal that would allow gay men and women to openly serve in our armed forces. And this repeal is authored so that the Pentagon can complete its review of the policy — which is critical, by the way, not only to passage, but it’s also critical to making sure that the change is accepted and implemented effectively. In the Senate, the Armed Services Committee has approved repeal for the first time, and the full body is poised to vote soon.

So here’s the bottom line: We have never been closer to ending this discriminatory policy. And I’m going to keep on fighting until that bill is on my desk and I can sign it. (Applause.)

Of course, ultimately, change is about more than just policies in our government. And that’s why I want to close by recognizing all the young people who are here -– I had a chance to take a bunch of pictures with them, just really impressive folks who are advocating on their behalf. I know there are some in the audience who have experienced pain in their lives, who at times have been — felt like outcasts, who have been scorned or bullied, and I know that there are families here on behalf of loved ones who are no longer with us, some in part because of the particularly difficult challenges that gay men and women still face.

This is a reminder that we all have an obligation to ensure that no young person is ever made to feel worthless or alone — ever. Now, at the same time, I think there’s plenty of reason to have some hope for many of the young people including those who are here today. They’ve shown incredible courage and incredible integrity — standing up for who they are. They’ve refused to be anything less than themselves.

And we all remember being young — sort of. (Laughter.) But it’s not easy. It’s not easy standing up all the time and being who you are. But they’re showing us the way forward. These young people are helping to build a more perfect union, a nation where all of us are equal; each of us is free to pursue our own versions of happiness.

And I believe because of them that the future is bright. It’s certainly bright for them. Of course, it does depend on all of us. It depends on the efforts of government and the activism of ordinary citizens like yourselves. It depends on the love of families and the support of communities. And I want you all to know that as this work continues, I’m going to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you, fighting by your side every step of the way. (Applause.)

So, thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END 6:29 P.M. EDT

________________________________________________________________

*Clarification: The President signed a Presidential Memorandum on June 2, to extend benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees. Click HERE to view the memo on whitehouse.gov.