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04/19/2007


Arkansas High School Refuses To Run Openly Gay Student's Yearbook Profile

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin has written a letter to administrators of Arkansas-based Sheridan High School, who are refusing to run a yearbook profile on openly gay student Taylor Ellis (pictured), demanding they not censor it.

TaylorThe letter reads in part:

Regardless of print deadlines, it would be unconscionable to release the yearbook with the omission of Taylor's well-deserved profile.

If not resolved immediately, this act of discriminatory censorship will send a dangerous message to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in Sheridan, across Arkansas and around the nation — that they are second-class citizens and their lives are not equally valid. Instead of respecting the wishes of Taylor's fellow students to recognize him in their yearbook, you have told him and other students who may already feel marginalized that they are not an equally valued part of the Sheridan high school student body.

Cases similar to this have popped up every so often during the past few years.

In 2013, a Texas high school pulled a lesbian couple’s photo from the yearbook and another Texas school refused and then assented to include a yearbook photo of a trans student in a tuxedo.

In 2012, four Colorado yearbook staffers left the publication after their advisor required them to remove a gay couple from a spread on high school relationships. In the same year, a Tennessee school board member protested the inclusion of an article entitled, “It’s OK to be Gay” in the Lenoir City High School yearbook.


LGBT Content Wins Big at SXSW Interactive and Film Awards: VIDEO

The_Case_Against_8_credit_Diana_WalkerAFER

It's been a fantastic ten days, but the 2014 SXSW Festival's panels, films, and music have sadly come to an end. Fortunately, LGBT-related content managed to win top honors at the Interactive Awards Ceremony and Film Festival Audience Awards here in Austin. 

Hrc red logoThe Human Rights Campaign's red logo, which went viral last March during the Prop 8 and DOMA trial hearings at the Supreme Court, was the big winner of the SXSW Interactive Awards, taking home three awards: Social Media, Digital Campaign of the Year, and Best of Show. These categories were voted on by industry experts and highlight the projects that best push the boundaries of what’s possible in digital content and help inspire the next wave of creativity. 

On the film side of things, The Case Against 8, which goes behind the scenes of the high-profile trial that overturned California’s Proposition 8, took home an Audience Award in the “Festival Favorites” category. Shot over five years, this extraordinary film chronicles the two gay couples involved, as well as the unlikely alliance of lead attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, political opponents who last faced off on opposing sides in the landmark Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore

You can check out a video of filmmakers Ben Cotner and Ryan White discussing the film at Sundance earlier this year, AFTER THE JUMP

Catch up on all our coverage of SXSW HERE.

Continue reading "LGBT Content Wins Big at SXSW Interactive and Film Awards: VIDEO" »


Activist Claims DNC Chair Discouraged Dems from Urging Obama to Issue 'ENDA' Executive Order

A prominent activist is accusing DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL, pictured) of discouraging Democratic lawmakers from signing a letter asking President Obama to issue an executive order that would ban workplace discrimination against LGBT people, the Washington Blade reports.

Wasserman-schultzHouse Speaker John Boehner has repeatedly said he will not allow a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which passed the Senate for the first time this year, and activists are growing impatient.

Said Paul Yandura, political director for gay philanthropist Jonathan Lewis, to the Blade:

"I was told personally by two members that she was tamping down on public calls for the president to make good on his promise — this was last year when the issue was really getting hot. She is most likely doing the same still," adding, "I think she doesn’t want to embarrass the president, and still doesn’t want to embarrass the president, because it is an embarrassment that he still hasn’t done it. We’re now coming down to the end of the second term, and if they don’t get moving on it, it’ll never even get implemented."

Wasserman Schultz's spokesperwon Mara Sloan called Yandura's assertions a "bald-faced lie," adding:

"The congresswoman believes the most effective way to ensure equal rights for LGBT Americans in the workplace is through passing comprehensive non-discrimination legislation. The congresswoman regularly speaks to the administration about issues important to the LGBT community, and will continue to be a fierce advocate for full equality."

Yandura said his claims are based on things he heard while collecting signatures for a 2013 letter urging Obama to issue the order.

More at the Blade....

WILL REPUBLICANS BE THE KEY TO ENDA?

SingerIn related news, a group of wealthy Republicans and former GOP lawmakers are joining an HRC-led campaign to push the House to take a vote on ENDA, USA Today reports:

"America is a place where the freedom to be who you are shouldn't be a barrier to your ability to get a job and provide for your family," said Paul Singer (pictured), a billionaire hedge fund founder and big Republican donor. Singer is putting $375,000 toward the push for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. "In the workplace, employees should be judged on their merit and hard work and not on aspects that are irrelevant to their performance."

Fellow billionaire and GOP donor Seth Klarman also donated $375,000 to the campaign spearheaded by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights lobby. HRC is putting up an additional $1.3 million in the effort to get 218 House lawmakers — a majority of the chamber — on record in support of ENDA.

The campaign plans to go after 48 persuadable House Republicans and gain their support for the bill:

If the group can get 218 lawmakers on public record in support of the legislation, they say House GOP leaders, including Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, may have to rethink their decision not to vote this year.

Boehner told members of the LGBT caucus at an historic first meeting earlier this year that ENDA had no chances of seeing a vote in 2014.


Pro-LGBT Resolution Passed By Oxford, Mississippi City Council

Photo: The Lyceum, oldest building on the campus of the University of Mississippi.

Though the Mississippi house's Judiciary B Civil Subcommittee advanced their "religious freedom" bill yesterday, an exciting bit of news out of the Magnolia State this week indicates that on a town-by-town basis, LGBT citizens are beginning to be heard and respected.

MississippiWDAM reports:

Tonight Oxford, Mississippi unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the dignity and worth of all city residents - including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).  Oxford joins two other Mississippi cities - Starkville and Hattiesburg - which both passed similar resolutions earlier this year...

 "Diversity is what made and continues to make this country amazing.  It strengthens and enhances the experiences of everyone, to understand that it is our differences from which we learn and make us stronger," said Alderman Jay Hughes.  "At a time when signals from some parts of the State seem to be focused on exclusion, I am absolutely honored and proud to be in a community that embraces inclusion of everyone, to make Oxford the great place that it is.  Tolerance and acceptance creates the strongest bonds between neighbors, and I am proud to be on the right side of history in reaffirming Oxford's long-standing commitment to that most fundamental principle."

HRC President Chad Griffin applauded the city council, arguing that the decision "moved Mississippi forward on the road to equality." The general public may be more forward-thinking than state legislation would suggest, too, with 2013 poll finding "that nearly 60 percent of Mississippians under the age of 30 support marriage equality, while  64 percent of residents back workplace non-discrimination protections for LGBT employees." 


Human Rights Organizations Want U.S. Ambassadors to Uganda and Nigeria Recalled Over Anti-Gay Laws

The Human Rights Campaign yesterday called on Secretary of State John Kerry to recall U.S. ambassadors to Uganda and Nigeria in reaction to legislation and oppression of LGBT citizens in those nations.

Via HRC:

Kerry"The Ugandan and Nigerian governments' decisions to treat their LGBT citizens like criminals cannot be accepted as business as usual by the U.S. government. We urge Secretary Kerry to recall both Ambassadors for consultations in Washington to make clear the seriousness of the situation in both countries," said HRC President Chad Griffin.

Last week, a spokesperson for the Ugandan president announced that President Yoweri Museveni is set to sign an archaic anti-LGBT bill into law that was passed by the Uganda parliament last December. The bill, which once included the death penalty, calls for gay Ugandans or anyone "promoting" homosexuality to be jailed -- potentially for life. The passage of the AHB and subsequent approval by Museveni is part of a broader clawback in fundamental freedoms in Uganda over the last several years, particularly regarding freedom of expression, assembly and association. Human rights violations are on the rise and the AHB represents an especially troubling escalation of this trend.

An equally horrific law was signed by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in January. The law criminalizes same-sex marriage, punishes homosexuality with jail terms of up to 14 years, and threatens any person who supports or is a member of an LGBT organization with 10 years' imprisonment. Since the law was enacted, Nigerian activists and human rights groups have reported dozens of LGBT individuals have been arrested, many of who work to combat HIV/AIDS in the country. It has also been reported LGBT Nigerians are facing blackmail by the police and mob violence.

Over the weekend, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice reported on Twitter that dialogue with President Museveni urging him to refrain from enacting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB) had proven unproductive. President Barrack Obama also issued a statement condemning the AHB.

International human rights organizations agree in an interview with the AP that the "quiet diplomacy" from the U.S. is not working:

"Quiet diplomacy up to the final moment clearly has failed," said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch.

"We need a better strategy," said Julie Dorf, senior adviser at the Council for Global Equality. "We do believe that our government here in the U.S. needs to ramp up the potential consequences that countries might face for these regressive anti-human rights measures. I have no doubt that President Museveni watched very carefully what happened after President Jonathan signed the Nigeria bill. And the truth is, there wasn't much of a reaction."

Human Rights Watch and the Robert F. Kennedy Center are both calling on the U.S. ambassador to Uganda to be recalled for consultation.

Canada has threatened to cut ties with Uganda over the anti-gay bill, according to an interview with the Canadian ambassador to Uganda published earlier this week.


HRC Blasts Brian Brown, Scott Lively, and Paul Cameron Over Anti-Gay Deeds in Russia: VIDEO

Russia_hrc

The Human Rights Campaign has put out a new video calling out NOM's Brian Brown, and evangelists Scott Lively, and Paul Cameron for their responsibility with regard to Russia's anti-gay legislation.

All three Americans traveled to Russia to demonize gay people and persuade Russian lawmakers to pass the so-called ban on 'gay propaganda' along with other bills prohibiting adoption by gay couples.

Watch HRC's new clip, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "HRC Blasts Brian Brown, Scott Lively, and Paul Cameron Over Anti-Gay Deeds in Russia: VIDEO" »


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