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Ohio Gay Teen Crowned Homecoming Queen

Cooper robar

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

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.


Marriage Equality Advocates to Rally in Chicago Today on Eve of Seventh Circuit Arguments

ChicagoplazaMidwestern same-sex couples, LGBT supporters, and faith leaders will rally in the Chicago Federal Plaza this afternoon on the eve of marriage cases before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals tomorrow. Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris, author of the new Illinois marriage equality law, will kick off the rally and welcome the plaintiffs in the cases which center on marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin. The three-judge panel will be announced in the morning. 

For more information on the rally, head HERE.

Last month, the Seventh Circuit ruled that the state of Indiana must recognize the marriage of a terminally ill lesbian. 

[photo via Flickr]


Catholic Parishioners Rally Behind Man Fired As Church Music Director Over Same-Sex Engagement

ColletteAt a meeting at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Inverness, Illinois on Wednesday, a large number of parishioners showed up to voice their thoughts on the recent firing of Colin Collette - the man who had served as the church's music director for the past 17 years until he was unceremoniously let go after pastor Terry Keehan saw that Collette had proposed to his long-time partner William Nifong.  

The Chicago Tribune reports that many of the roughly 700 people who attended appeared to support Collette, who received a standing ovation when he entered the sanctuary.

Kevin Keane of Bartlett, one of dozens of people addressing a panel that included representatives of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, quit his position as cantor in protest of Collette's firing.

“He has given his entire life to the church,” Keane said, repeating a portion of his speech. “That leads me to the conclusion if he's not fit to serve, then I am not fit to serve.” [...]

Collette said this week that he has continued to attend Mass at the church and had hoped that he could be reinstated in his job as a private contractor. In a meeting with Keehan on Tuesday, Collette said, he was told there was no way he could return to his former job.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has since taken up all questions surrounding Collette's firing. Earlier this month the archdiocese released a statement saying: "Those that serve as Ministers of the Church, including worship ministers, are expected to conform their lives publicly with the teachings of the Church."


Catholic Church Fires Music Director Over Same-Sex Engagement

GayzColin Collette (pictured left) — the music director who served at the Holy Family Catholic Community church in Inverness, Illinois for the last 17 years — got fired by pastor Terry Keehan after Collette posted photos of his proposal to his long-time same-sex partner.

Though Keehan initially asked Collette to resign, Collette refused and so Keehan fired him. The Daily Herald reports:

”Holy Family was supposed to be a place where all are welcome," [Collette] said, noting the church's motto is "Inviting all to new life in Christ.”…

On Tuesday Collette sent an email about his firing to all the members of the church's choir, which he estimates to include 100 to 120.

"I needed them to know that I'm not doing this to contradict church teachings or make a political statement," he said. "I believe God has given me this in my life and saying no to this relationship would be saying no to God."

The response from his choir was overwhelmingly positive, Collette said. Their kindness and acceptance often moved him to tears.

In a statement released this week, the Chicago Archdiocese said they knew of Collette’s firing, but declined to comment on this specific case, instead adding, "Those that serve as Ministers of the Church, including worship ministers, are expected to conform their lives publicly with the teachings of the Church.”


Michigan Democrat Adam Zemke Introduces Bill To Ban Gay Conversion Therapy in the State

Adam zemke

New legislation has been introduced by Michigan Democrat Rep. Adam Zemke which aims to ban gay conversion therapy for minors in the state, reports mlive.com.

Zemke hopes Michigan can join California and New Jersey in banning “ex-gay” therapy for under-18s.  Efforts to introduce bans on conversion therapy in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York state have been blocked or stalled.

Zemke said:

"The evidence shows you cannot change sexual orientation, so the legislation was kind of a no-brainer. We want to make sure children cannot be exposed to situations that are emotionally harmful to them because of their parents' beliefs or desires to try to change their orientation."

In 2009, the American Psychological Association said that attempts to change sexual orientation are ineffective and can have harmful side effects including depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety.

Zemke has had positive support from some Republicans. However, Republican Rep. Gail Haines, chair of the House Health Policy Committee, said that new laws intervening in the relationship between parents and their children "seems unnecessary."

The “ex-gay” movement has had a number of recent setbacks. Last week, Duane Youngblood was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a teenager. Yesterday, we reported that Yvette Cantu Schneider, one of the most vocal and best known representatives of the ex-gay movement, announced that she no longer wishes to identify with anti-gay groups.


Lesbian Chicago Councilwoman Deborah Mell Announces Divorce

Mell

Though same-sex marriage just became legal in Illinois, one prominent same-sex couple in the Land of Lincoln is calling it quits. Deborah Mell, the first openly lesbian member of Chicago’s City Council, announced on Twitter last week that she and wife Christin Baker will be parting ways. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

"Dear Friends, It is with great sadness I tell you my marriage with Christin has ended. As you know divorce is painful, therefore we ask for privacy as we go through this process. Thank you for your continued support and understanding," Mell wrote on Twitter.  She could not be reached for comment, but the Chicago Sun-Times independently confirmed the news that the couple that had so publicly celebrated their love, were now splitting. […]

Mell married Baker, a onetime national director for the YMCA, in a ceremony in Iowa in 2011. Mell became the first high-profile elected official in Illinois to publicly enter into a same-sex marriage. In June, Baker took a position with Daxko Consulting, which is based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Mell was outspoken in Illinois’ fight for marriage equality and memorably announced her engagement to Baker on the Illinois House floor back in 2010. 


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