Gay Rights Hub




Israeli Education Minister Apologizes for Attacking Gay Families

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Shai Piron, Israel’s Education Minister, has apologized for the homophobic comments he made against same sex families earlier this month. Piron was met with a fierce outpouring of backlash from Israel’s prominent LGBT community after asserting that “[i]t’s a Jewish state’s right, maybe even its duty, to say to same-sex couples who decide to live their lives together—that’s not a family,’" in an interview with the Israel National News.

Hagit Rimon, Piron’s lesbian sister, came to the Education Minister’s defense soon after his comments were made public. “I wasn’t offended. I don’t get offended by general statements, and I trust his intentions,” Rimon said to Israel’s Walla News. “He does work for many different communities, and he is a pluralistic guy.”

Piron took to his Facebook account to issue an awkwardly articulated backtracking of his previous stance.

”You can disagree with the wording of words, yet it reflects the reality in Israel and the difficulties of the religious community with changes in family structure.” He wrote, “Every day I try to build a bridge between groups and communities, the first phase of the bridge is to accept and understand.” Piron went on to faux-pologize “if [his] words were understood incorrectly” in the post, prompting for yet another, appropriate apology. Chairman of the Knesset Gay Pride Lobby MK Nitzan Horowitz, called the apology “feeble” and “inadequate.”

“Piron is the education minister and his comments affect the entire system,” he said yesterday. “Students in the education system, children of gay families, gay teachers, and gay parents, all were hurt by the statement of the man who is in charge of education in Israel.”


Former GOP Florida Governor Charlie Crist Files Amicus Brief In Support Of Same-Sex Marriage

Former GOP governor of Florida and current Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist previously apologized for a blatantly anti-gay political track record. Now he has made good on part of his promise to do everything he can to help achieve equal rights for same-sex couples and the LGBTQ community. He filed an amicus brief today in support of same-sex marriage in the Pareto v. Ruvin case set for a July hearing. 

CristEquality Florida reports:

"As former Governor, and as someone who previously supported this measure, Charlie Crist's words matter a great deal,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. “He has taken the same journey the majority of Floridians have taken in realizing that this ban serves no purpose but to disparage and discriminate against gay couples and our children."

In the brief, Crist stated that as a former Governor and Attorney General who previously supported the ban, he is in a unique position to provide the court a perspective on why it is wrong, harmful to Florida and harmful to gay couples and children who are denied the protections only marriage provides. 

In his brief, Crist references his own evolution, in conjunction with the American public's:

“Thus, with the arc of history now, in fact, bending toward justice, this issue of marriage equality will almost certainly not even be an issue for the children and grandchildren of this State. But it is still the duty of those in the present to recognize that the legitimacy of government depends upon its willingness to fairly, transparently, and equitably administer the law. That goal is frustrated by denying an entire class of citizens equality in the institution of marriage simply because of who they are and whom they love.”

Crist's brief is an exciting addition to this case, following others filed by the Orlando and Miami Beach city councils. 


Unintentionally Hilarious Ad Targets Houston's LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance: LISTEN

HoustonMayorThe Houston, TX-based coalition "No Unequal Rights" has created a radio ad in protest of the LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance that the city council passed this May.

The fearmongering ad, containing a story delivered by a  'McDonald's worker', tries to instill fear in the public with the spectre of a trans woman exposing pubic hair and stuffing a bra in a women's restroom.

The ridiculousness of the story combined with the theme from "The Young and the Restless" may cause you to do a spit take.

Listen and laugh, AFTER THE JUMP...

(via good as you)

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Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) Introduces Bill to Impose Sanctions On Foreign Officials for LGBT Human Rights Violations

David_Cicilline,_Official_Portrait,_112th_Congress_2Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) has introduced a bill into the House that would impose sanctions on foreigners responsible for LGBT human rights violations.

H.R. 4907 The Global Respect Act takes into account that “more than one-third of laws criminalizing same-sex relations” and recognizes that “There are too many instances in which police, prison, military, and civilian government authorities have been directly complicit in abuses aimed at LGBT citizens, including arbitrary arrest, torture, and sexual abuse.”

The bill proposes that President Obama should communicate to the responsible committees a list of foreign officials complicit in the extrajudicial violations of internationally recognized human rights. As of June 20th the bill has some 17th democratic cosponsors and is awaiting a vote within the House.

Read the bill’s full text AFTER THE JUMP...

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Film Review: 'Broken Heart Land' Weaves Unexpected And Tragic Tapestry Of Grief

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Broken Heart Land, an expectation-eschewing documentary from directors Jeremy and Randy Stulberg, begins with an all-too-familiar tragedy in the rural American landscape: the suicide of a gay teenager. From there it weaves a far different story than one might anticipate, opting for a complex exploration of a family struck by death and a town in the throws of an identity crisis. 

The setting, Norman, Oklahoma--home to the University of Oklahoma--is seen by many citizens as a bastion of liberal goodwill in one of the nation’s most conservative geographic regions. In reality, though, the town is largely inhabited by Christian conservatives and other folks who fall uneasily within a murky spectrum of political thought. 

BHL2Two such people, Van and Nancy Harrington, are the parents of Zack, a reserved guy who came out in high school, seemingly without significant fanfare and with ardent support from his family. We learn very little about Zack, save for his participation in the high school color guard; his sudden suicide leaves him even more of an enigma. Only when his grieving parents receive the coroners report do they, and the audience, find out that Zack was HIV-positive and had been treating himself with drugs bought on the street. It is a surprising turn of events within the film. One friend, overcome with emotion and unsure whether or not to speak on the matter, recounts the way that Zack finally told her, after over a year of hinting, about his status. The wound of his death is clearly still fresh for everyone involved, and this particular revelation throws them for a loop. The trailer, which we reported on previously, framed Zack’s HIV-status as the central mystery within the narrative, but its reveal comes early, both in the run time and in the mourning process. The film actually seems far more concerned with picking up the pieces and understanding just how great an impact Zack’s death had, particularly on his mother and rather surprisingly on small town politics.

BHL1Just before Zack’s death, he may or may not have attended the Norman town council meeting where an LGBT History Month proposal was discussed and voted on. The mystery of his attendance reflects the unknowable qualities of his personality, but it is no matter in comparison with the bigoted and disturbing diatribe unleashed by many of the town’s most influential conservatives, including Chad Williams, an assistant pastor of a local mega-church and an eventual candidate for town council. 

The dueling campaigns of Williams and an openly lesbian opponent form the backbone of much of the documentary, framed by the broken and embittered family at the center of the tragedy. Both Van and Nancy Harrington are self-proclaimed Republicans and supporters of the LGBT rights movement, an almost oxymoronic combination these days, and their understanding of politics is shaken throughout the film by national trends (see: the Tea Party) and the closer-to-home town council race. Nancy joins a Norman group called Moms Of Many (MOM), formed in the wake of Zack’s death. She learns about the representation of the LGBT community in politics, campaigns for Williams’ competitor, and, in a particularly tense scene, confronts the pastor after all of her LGBT-related questions are ignored at a debate amongst the candidates. Van is largely seen sitting on a couch at home, watching Fox News, and smoking a cigarette; the grief is palpable and nearly unbearable. 

Still, both he and Nancy traverse an arc, from disbelief and upset about Zack’s status (his keeping it from them more so than the fact that he was positive) to a state of sad but empowered motivation to create change. We eventually see them dedicate a bench in Norman to their son and march in an AIDS Walk in his memory. 

BHL3Ultimately the “broken heart land” of the film’s title seems twofold. It is a comment on the nature of grief and tragedy, rendered so vividly in the lives of the Harringtons, and it is an observation about the shifting, highly oppositional politics of a nation, and particularly the midwest. The Harringtons are a family awakened to their own faults, their political aspirations, and their beliefs. The same, unfortunately, cannot necessarily be said for Williams and others in the more conservative contingent. They stand behind a “we love everyone enough to tell them that they are wrong” facade, never owning up to what the filmmakers and the Harringtons come to believe: something, many things, must be wrong in a society where someone, Zack, would take his own life. LGBT inequality, non-comprehensive sex education, and perhaps even organized religion come under fire. While there is no conclusive reason behind Zack's suicide, beautifully-read passages of his tormented poetry and journals accompany nostalgic video footage throughout the film, giving prophetic voice to a young man no longer able to speak his mind.

Broken Heart Land is a powerful, unexpectedly political, and deeply sad documentary. At its center lies a teenager who could have lived a long, fulfilling life, given the support he deserved all along.

You can stream Broken Heart Land online at worldchannel.org, or catch it airing The World Channel through this weekend.


Michael Stipe's Passionate Speech On Uganda: VIDEO

Tonight at 9 PM ET, Logo will air a special titled "Trailblazers" to commemorate the one-year anniversary of DOMA's defeat. Included in the special is a brief word from R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, who eloquently links the past struggles of LGBT Americans with the struggles of today's queer people around the globe:

IStipen the early ’80s, as a 22-year-old queer man living during the Reagan/Bush administration, I was afraid of getting tested for HIV for fear of quarantine, the threat of internment camps and having my basic civil rights stripped away...I waited five years to get my first anonymous test. I am happy that attitudes have matured and changed, and I feel lucky that i live in a country where acceptance, tolerance and policy toward HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ issues have advanced as far as they have.

Stipe goes on to introduce Ugandan gay rights activist John “Longjones” Abdallah Wambere, who fights against the powers that be in his country, where homosexuality is illegal and anti-gay violence continues to rise. As Wambere puts it, speaking to the audience at the "Trailblazers" event, in Uganda "[this event] would be illegal. We would be all arrested or closed."

Check out Stipe and Wambere's speeches, embedded AFTER THE JUMP...

[h/t MTV News]

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