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News items affecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals & transsexuals

2011-September: Accelerating steps toward
equality etc., after DOMA decision in early 2011

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We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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See also the previous essay describing events during the second half of 2011-AUG

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Background:

The Obama administration announced on 2011-FEB-23 that it would no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. They cited an earlier decision in a Massachusetts federal court that found multiple reasons why the federal DOMA legislation violates the U.S. Constitution and is thus invalid.

Some commentators predicted that this decision will generate a tipping point that will lead to a more rapid decline in discrimination against sexual minorities in the U.S.

This prediction may be coming true. We have noticed an increase in events -- some important, some minor, some merely symbolic -- that indicate a gradual evaporation of animosity and homophobia against sexual minorities.

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Developments toward marital equality and a lessening of discrimination against sexual minorities:

  • 2011-SEP-02: NC: Newspaper comes out against defense of marriage act: Commenting on a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, the following excerpt was published in the News & Observer of Raleigh:

    "Unveiling their plans the other day, leaders of the Republican-dominated Legislature said North Carolinians deserve a chance to vote on such a vital topic — would it have been a good thing if we'd voted on preserving racial segregation in 1960? — and that the rising tide of accommodation to gay marriage in other states (where, somehow, the sky has not fallen) means we must erect a constitutional barrier here. ...

    Relatively new this year is the argument by Democratic leaders that an amendment that forbids gay marriage and even civil unions — which the Senate's version does — would discourage big corporations, which increasingly have accommodated themselves to domestic-partner benefits and the like, from locating in the state. Not to mention companies started or headed by gay businesspeople, who surely would feel a singular chill. ...

  • Because a three-fifths margin is needed in both the House and Senate, a handful of Democratic votes will be needed in the House, although not in the Senate, to advance the Republican-sponsored amendment. The week of Sept. 12 would be a fine time for House Democrats to show some of that same solidarity their GOP colleagues are known for. They should vote no, and they should be joined by some of the more libertarian-minded Republicans, who surely must have doubts about imposing the state constitution between two consenting unrelated adults who wish to commit to that most conservative of social institutions, marriage." 5

  • 2011-SEP-03: USA: Chaz Bono receives support for his appearance on Dancing With The Stars: Bono was selected as a contestant -- the first transgender person/transsexual on the show. There were a flurry of "ugly bigoted comments" on the show's message boards. 1

    Chaz commented:

    "You know, it just kind of shows why for me it's important to be on the show, because so little still is known about what it means to be transgender[ed]. And there's so many just completely inaccurate stereotypes and thoughts that people have." 2

His representative, Howard Bragman, said:

    “He’s really using [the controversy] to motivate himself. He’s working incredibly hard, dancing hours at a time, and he’s committed to being a great dancer and having a great time on the show.”

The show's executive producer Conrad Green said:

    "The thing that is also worth remembering one of the great features of our show is we got quite a broad-minded audience who are often willing to give people a chance. They might have preconceptions about some of our celebrities before they meet them on the show, but on our show you get to see people in a way you've never seen them before."

Earlier in the week, Chaz's mother, Cher, tweeted:

    "This is Still America right? It took guts 2 do it. Mothers don't stop Getting angry with stupid bigots who (mess) with their children!" 3

  • 2011-SEP-04: USA: Productivity and leadership consultant fired for anti-gay book: Conservative Christian consultant Dr. Frank Turek was fired from both Cisco and the Bank of America because he wrote an anti-SSM book titled: "Correct, Not Politically Correct: How Same-Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone." He sent a letter to the Bank of America CEO arguing that his beliefs on same-sex marriage were completely unrelated to his scheduled presentation which was titled "Why Can't You Be Normal Just Like Me?." His talk dealt with adapting to diverse personalities in business in order to improve productivity and relationships. He complained that he was being excluded for his political and religious viewpoint. Talking on NPR, he said that he is opposed to SSM "not because of hate or bigotry but because of the biological facts of nature that the only relationship that can procreate and bring forth the next generation and best nurture the next generation is when a man and a woman get together." 4

    This is an increasingly common argument used against SSM. Unfortunately, it attacks all infertile couples, whether they be of the same or opposite-sex. Same-sex couples are vastly outnumbered by those opposite-sex couples where one spouse is infertile for whatever reason -- age, vasectomy, having had fallopian tubes tied, or naturally infertile.

  • 2011-SEP-06: Scotland: Soldier becomes first Scottish person to be convicted of an offence motivated by transphobia: Terry Porter, 19, was found guilty of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner likely to cause fear and alarm. He admitted that his behavior was aggravated by his transphobia. He forced his way into a house where Chloe Dow, a transgender person, was sleeping. He allegedly yelled: "Get up or I’ll drag you out or knock you out. You’re a mutant, a f*****g mutant. What a state. Why would you want to dress like that? You look like a freak." He later had his lawyer apologize for his behavior. He was fined the equivalent of US $316 for breaching the peace, and an extra US $237 equivalent for transgender prejucide. 6

  • 2011-SEP-16: USA: Kevin Keller, the first gay character in Archie Comics, was introduced in issue 202 during the fall of 2010. Some observers expected that he would play a token role. However, the issue sold out and the company issued a reprint for the first time in their history. Jon Goldwater, co-chief executive said:
    "The introduction of Kevin is just about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive. Archie’s hometown of Riverdale has always been a safe world for everyone. It just makes sense to have an openly gay character in Archie comic books. ... [people who might be offended by a gay storyline] aren’t the kind of people we want reading our comics anyway."
    Kevin is expected to marry in an upcoming issue. 7

  • 2011-SEP-20: USA: The Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy of the U.S. military ends: As of 12:01 AM, LGBT service members may now come out of the closet without risking expulsion from the service. However, several Republican candidates for the presidency in 2012 have included a reinstatement of the DADT policy in their platforms. There is little doubt that an attempt would be made to reinstall the DADT policy if the Republican party were to capture the presidency, House and Senate in 2012, even though the vast majority of American adults oppose the policy.

  • 2011-SEP-21: USA: Mark Malkin wrote a column about a conversation during a recent episode of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox news. He wrote:

    "... this week. Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and Fox News contributor, ... [urged] parents not to let their children watch [Dancing With the Stars] DWTS because of [the performance by Chaz] Bono [who is transgender and has transitioned from female to male].

    Ablow claimed that Bono actually asked to speak to Brad Pitt's daughter ... because she dresses like a tomboy and said, 'I could be of use to her.'

    'For what could you be of use, Chaz?' he snarled. 'To convince her that when she develops breasts she should cut them off?'

    That's quite a leap, Dr. Ablow.

    O'Reilly, to his credit, challenged him for his 'harsh' assumptions. 'I'm not so sure he's as militant as you're portraying him,' O'Reilly said, adding that Bono's visibility could 'be a positive for parents to discuss this with their children.'

    We think Bono would agree. 'I see myself as just somebody who's gone through the process,' he told me. 'For me, part of the way that I got through my fears is by reading books and seeing documentaries of people who transitioned before me. So I look at myself as one of those people who are just out in the community and the difference is that I just have a little bit of a larger reach.'

  • If only that reach could get through to Dr. Ablow." 8

  • 2011-SEP-21: USA: Military facilities can be used for LGBT functions: Department of Defense general counsel Jeh Johnson issued a facilities memo stating that "military facilities for private functions, including religious and other ceremonies, should be made on a 'sexual-orientation neutral' basis, provided such use is not prohibited by applicable state and local laws." More details 12

  • 2011-SEP-22: USA: Brad Pitt, when interviewed on Ellen referred to his relationship with Angelina Jolie. He said: "We will not be getting married until everyone in this country has the right to be married." This was followed by enthusiastic applause from the audience.

  • 2011-SEP-23: USA: Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe expects that the repeal of DOMA will be facilitated by the end of DADT. Tribe hired Obama as a research assistant in his first year of law school. He said of SEP-20:

    "Tuesday is a very historic day. It’s part of the dismantling of a nationwide system of apartheid against gays and lesbians. And it’s coming apart faster than anyone thought was possible. ... People are all catching up to the recognition that the skies doesn’t fall when we recognize gay rights. It’s about time." 9

  • 2011-SEP-30: USA: Chaplains can officiate at same-sex marriages: The Department of Defense authorized military chaplains to conduct same-sex weddings of service members in states where SSM is legal. Ceremonies can be conducted on or off military bases. Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford L. Stanley wrote that chaplains' homophobia trumps servicemembers' equal rights:
    "A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law. Further, a chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion or personal beliefs. Finally, a military chaplain’s participation does not constitute an endorsement of the ceremony by DoD." 10,11

As earlier pointed out by 63 Republican representatives of Congress, this appears to violate Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which prohibits all federal government recognition of same-sex marriages. More details.

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See also events during 2011-October

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Catherine Lawson, "Dancing With the Stars' Attracts Controversy for Casting Chaz Bono," AOL TV, 2011-AUG-31, at: http://www.aoltv.com/
  2. Tim Kenneally, "Chaz Bono says America 'really needs' him on 'Dancing'," Reuters, 2011-SEP-04, at: http://tv.yahoo.com/
  3. Sandy Cohen, "Cher takes to Twitter to defend Chaz Bono on DWTS," 2011-SEP-01, at: http://tv.yahoo.com/
  4. Nathan Black, "Christian Consultant Fired by Bank of America Over Gay Marriage Book," 2011-SEP-04, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
  5. "North Carolina editorial roundup," Associated Press, 2011-SEP-06, at: http://www.reflector.com/
  6. "Scottish man is first to be charged with transgender prejudice," Pink News (UK), 2011-SEP-06, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
  7. Jessica Geen, "Archie Comics’ first gay character Kevin Keller to wed," Pink News (UK). 2011-SEP-16, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
  8. Marc Malkin, "Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie & Chaz Bono Get Spun by Fox News Doctor," Eonline, 2011-SEP-21, at: http://ca.eonline.com/
  9. Kevin Douglas Grant, "After Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Former Lt. Dan Choi Doubles Down On His Fight For Gay Equality," Huffington Post, 2011-SEP-20, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  10. Sarah Pulliam Bailey, "Military Chaplains allowed to perform gay weddings," Christianity Today, 2011-SEP-30, at: http://blog.christianitytoday.com/
  11. Clifford Stanley, "Military Chaplains," Under Secretary of Defense, 2011-SEP-30, at: http://www.washingtonblade.com/
  12. Jeh Johnson, "Uses of DoD facilities," General Counsel of the Department of Defense, 2011-SEP-21, at: http://www2.advocate.com/

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Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-OCT-29
Author: B.A. Robinson
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