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ACLU Sues San Bernardino Sheriff's Department Over Anti-LGBT Discrimination

San bernadinoLGBT inmates at the West Valley Detention Center, both current and former, have filed suit against the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department for discrimination and abuse faced behind bars. The prison system often separates LGBT inmates for their own safety, but that discrepancy should not reinforce and legitimize the difficulties they have faced according to the suit, from name calling to longer jail sentences. 

The Los Angeles Times reports:

The suit cites several cases in which gay inmates were allegedly denied equal access to drug rehabilitation and educational programs. Gay inmates were allowed less time out of their cells and were unable to participate in work programs that would reduce their sentences, the suit claims.

"In the United States, we punish people because of the crime they commit, not because of who they are," said Melissa Goodman, an ACLU attorney who filed the suit along with the law firm Kaye, McLane, Bednarski & Litt, LLP.

The 'Althernative Lifestyle Tank' where LGBT inmates are kept became a personal hell for the fifteen people filing suit alongside the ACLU, including Peter Guzman who claims he was kept in his cell for up to 23 hours each day.  

Guzman, who spent seven months in West Valley awaiting trial in a fraudulent check-writing case, said that from his cellblock he could see that straight inmates were often out of their cells. Sometimes, violent offenders who were straight served food to the gay inmates as part of a work program that gay inmates were denied access to, Guzman said...

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's office, along with deputies and sheriff John McMahon, are being named in the suit, and for good reason: they either enforced or committed the in-jail discriminatory behavior.

Mckibben[Former Indiana sheriff deputy and West Valley inmate Dan] McKibben (pictured far right with partner Sean), 51, said he once saw deputies beating a gay inmate. Deputies, he said, regularly used gay slurs when addressing inmates.

McKibben, who spent about two months in the gay cellblock, said he was appalled at the behavior of those who'd taken an oath to uphold the law.

"When you're sworn, you're sworn. And I took that oath," he said. "These guys, every other minute, were violating that."

Coronado, California Residents Give Gay Couple Heckled By Homophobe a Beautiful 'Do-Over' Wedding: VIDEO


Last month we reported that Arizonans Oscar De Las Salas and Gary Jackson were holding a wedding ceremony in Centennial Park in Coronado, California when it was interrupted by a man in a nearby building shouting "go home fags" and other anti-gay slurs.

The incident prompted an apology from the city of Coronado and the condo complex's Home Owner’s Association as well as an investigation by police.

Local residents and merchants who were also disturbed by the heckling banded together to organize a "do-over" wedding for the gay couple yesterday. The ceremony, organized by Coronado attorney Alisa Kerr and officiated by Mayor Casey Tanaka, ended up being a beautiful display of love in the face of hate.  

U-T San Diego reports:

The ceremony came off absent heckles or other such distractions.

The guests mostly included those who donated one gift or another and others who contacted Kerr and her friends with offers to help. It mattered little that they did not actually know the couple.

“I came because of the synergy they created with the attempt to turn this around,” said Rob Crenshaw, who brought his wife, Laura, to the party. “A wedding is supposed to be the happiest event of your life.”

Jackson and de Las Salas brought about 25 friends who were unable to make the August affair.

“We’re two men in love,” de Las Salas said. “That’s all.”

More photos and video of the ceremony, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Coronado, California Residents Give Gay Couple Heckled By Homophobe a Beautiful 'Do-Over' Wedding: VIDEO" »

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin Is Once Again a Marriage Equality Supporter

Swearengin_pageBio2Ashley Swearengin, a Republican candidate for California’s state controller office, has doubled back on her views about gay marriage, asserting that she’s--once again--a supporter of LGBT equality. During her initial bid for the mayorship of Fresno in 2008 Swearengin expressed her belief that marriage consisted of a union between a man and a woman. Swearengin also threw her support behind California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage, a fact that she addressed while speaking to a local chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans.

"Like most Californians, I believe it is time to move beyond this issue,” she explained to a gathering of lesbian and gay conservatives. “[We need to] focus our public policy energies on addressing the mountain of debt and outstanding liabilities that threaten the financial future of the next generation."

"She told us, 'I support marriage equality,'" said Kevin Gilhooley, president of the Orange Country Log Cabin Republicans. "That's what she said, verbatim. It was such a powerful statement for our group to hear, she got a great round of applause. We were very appreciative."

Swearengin’s platform this time around, according to her campaign manager Tim Clark, is focused squarely on righting California’s mounting economic woes and promoting job creation. Swearengin insisted that despite her past with homophobic legislation, the office of controller has no real bearing on social issues like marriage equality, and the evolution of her views was a reflection of her new-found political goals.

"As state controller, I wouldn't have any influence over this issue. But I am very concerned about the legacy of debt and outstanding obligations that we're leaving for our children and our grandchildren. I will do everything in my power to try address those two most important issues. That's what my campaign is about, and as mayor that's what I'm focused on as well."

Ohio Gay Teen Crowned Homecoming Queen

Cooper robar

A high school in Lakewood, Ohio, has crowned a gay male student as homecoming queen, reports

Last September, a transgender student in Huntington Beach, California, was crowned homecoming queen. In August 2013, two out gay students in Illinois were named homecoming king and queen.

Instead of naming a traditional king and queen, Lakewood High School decided to crown three people after Cooper Robar won the race for homecoming queen. Also named as members of “royalty” were Tess Jones, who received the most votes among girls, and Xavier Pedro, who was elected king.

Cooper’s mother Wendy explained that what started out as a joke turned into a statement on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community:

"It was him being a goofball and saying wouldn't it be fun if he could be queen. I was pretty shocked [that we won]. I was surprised by the roaring of applause and the yelling for Cooper….We are very proud of him being able to stand up for himself and tell the world he is who he is and have no misgivings about it.”

She added that although Cooper is popular at school, she was surprised he didn't encounter any serious backlash from critics.

Lakewood Principal Keith Ahearn said there was nothing in the rules preventing a boy from running as queen and deciding to name three members of royalty was the fairest way to handle the situation.

California GOP Congressman Posts, Removes Image Insulting Transgender People


Commenting on a bill allowing death certificates to reflect the expressed gender identity of the decedent, Devin Nunes [pictured below], a Republican representative for California’s 22nd District, has posted an image insulting to the transgender community on his official Congressional website, reports Queerlandia.

NunesThe post on Nunes’s blog, which appears to have since been deleted, included an image of Johnny Depp portraying the title character in Tim Burton’s biopic Ed Wood. Wood was an actor, writer, director and producer who is best known for his B-movies including “Glen or Glenda” and “Plan 9 From Outer Space.”

Wood was open about both cross dressing and his interest in drag.

According to Queerlandia, the image “does not reflect what transgender is, but is clearly an a snarky put-down of both a Democratic attempt to respect a group of citizens long treated poorly by society, and of that group itself.  Nunes should be ashamed.”

Coronado, California Residents Give Gay Couple Heckled by Homophobe a 'Do-Over' Wedding


Last month we reported that Arizonans Oscar De Las Salas and Gary Jackson were holding a wedding ceremony in Centennial Park in Coronado, California when it was interrupted by a man in a nearby building shouting "go home fags" and other anti-gay slurs.

The incident prompted an apology from the city of Coronado and the condo complex's Home Owner’s Association as well as an investigation by police.

Now, residents and merchants in Coronado are throwing the couple a "do-over" wedding, the San Diego Union Tribune reports:

The goal of the second ceremony is giving the couple a more positive experience and showing that Coronado is a welcoming community where discrimination won’t be tolerated.

“The people of Coronado, who said they wouldn’t tolerate what happened to us, have created a happy ending,” said Oscar de Las Salas, who will marry Gary Jackson again next week. “We never expected this. It’s incredible.”

The "do-over" wedding was led by four young women who were horrified by the incident and the effort has snowballed, the paper reports, throwing the couple a wedding that would normally cost between $15,000 and $20,000:

Loews Coronado Bay Resort donated a 300-seat venue, Coronado’s Blue Bridge Hospitality restaurant chain will supply the food, Coronado Cupcakery is handling the wedding cake and Vigilucci’s Ristorante contributed champagne for the toast, Kerr said. Many other local restaurants and merchants have also made contributions, she said.

Coronado residents are determined to show that their town is one that is welcoming to LGBT people. The police investigation is continuing.


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