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Gay Soccer Player Comes Out to West Virginia High School by Dancing with Homecoming King

Martin

Michael Martin, an all-state soccer goalie for Musselman High School in rural West Virginia, came out of the closet to his classmates at their homecoming dance by dancing with another guy — his boyfriend Jem — who also happened to be the Homecoming King from another school. Two weeks earlier they had done the same thing at Jem's school.

Martin writes about it at Outsports:

My homecoming dance at Musselman -- two weeks after the dance at Jem's school -- was the big moment I revealed being gay to my school. Jem was the date of girl at Musselman and her outside guest for the dance, while I went "alone." The girl knew Jem and I were together. I was on the homecoming court, which was a big honor and something I never thought would happen. Only some people knew about me before the homecoming, so it was a shocker for some seeing me dance with another guy.

Jem and I danced all night to the most popular pop songs. But it was the slow dance that I most remember that night at the school cafeteria -- "Remember When" by Alan Jackson. It was the best night ever. Jem and I got asked a lot if we were together and we said yes. "That is so cute!" some girls said. It made us felt accepted.

Word quickly spread and the following week I sensed that some guys were looking at me differently. My friends even told me people were talking about me in a negative way in different classes. "He is a faggot now," I was told some people said. My friends courageously stood up for me and I am so proud to call them my friends.

Martin also writes about coming out to his best friend, life in rural West Virginia, the general atmosphere at his school for LGBT students, and how his soccer team reacted when he told them.

Teammates were curious and I got a lot of questions. I also got teased by my teammates closest to me making jokes or saying sexual things, but I know they were just kidding. Actually, their joking told me they were OK with things. I also knew that even if someone did say something negative that a lot of my teammates would have my back. Recently I was named captain for the Musselman swim team. They all know about my sexuality and gratefully are accepting.

Martin says he was inspired by L.A. Galaxy star Robbie Rogers ("He gave me hope and confidence to be true to myself. Once he came out I started to contemplate doing the same myself and being proud of who I am."). He graduates this spring.


Gay Freshman Diver Alex Obendorf Comes Out at West Virginia University, Qualifies For NCAA Postseason

Obendorf

As a senior in high school, Alex Obendorf (above) suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car wreck that left him out of diving for nine months.  

Perhaps that difficult experience explains why Obendorf is undaunted by the idea of being openly gay as a freshman athlete on a relatively conservative college campus. 

Obendorf2Obendorf, who attends West Virginia University, quietly came out publicly this weekend in the The Missourian, which treated his sexual orientation as a footnote related to his admiration for gay Olympians Matthew Mitcham and Tom Daley: 

“I like their form and everything,” Obendorf said. “I’m pretty proud of them because I know that it’s a hard thing to open up about, especially to the public as an Olympian. I am openly gay. I know where they come from.”

The Missourian reports that Obendorf became the first male WVU diver to qualify for the NCAA postseason this year, by finishing fourth in the 3-meter springboard at this weekend's Mizzou Invitational.

Obendorf was a two-time All-American at his high school in Ohio, but he missed his senior season after the car wreck in August 2013.

He was initially diagnosed with a concussion, but realized the injury was more serious when he tried to return to diving and the symptoms reappeared. 

He didn't get back on the board permanently until May, which left him nervous about how he'd perform after joining the WVU team in August. But so far, things seem to be going pretty well, and now that he's qualified for the postseason, his coach is pushing him to make the NCAA Championships. 

Although he just came out in the media this weekend, Obendorf has been open about his sexual orientation on Facebook since at least August.

And guess what? He's single. 

Obendorf1

[h/t Outsports]


Federal Judge Overturns West Virginia's Gay Marriage Ban

Coming less than a month after marriage equality's arrival in West Virginia, a federal judge has now officially declared the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional, the Associated Press reports:

West virginiaU.S. District Judge Robert Chambers in Huntington ruled Friday in a lawsuit brought by three same-sex couples after putting the case on hold pending the outcome of a Virginia case.

On Oct. 6 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in July striking down Virginia's same-sex marriage ban. The appeals court also has jurisdiction over West Virginia.

Marriage equality began in West Virginia on October 9 following WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announcing he would no longer be defending the state's ban. 

Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Beth Littrell reacts:

We are grateful to Judge Chambers for this ruling that officially puts an end to the long fight for marriage equality for West Virginia’s same-sex couples and their families. This decision clears away the last obstacle to marriage equality in the state. Even though the Fourth Circuit’s decision had already cleared a path for West Virginia to issue marriage licenses, this is still a great day for equality. The state is indeed stronger today after the Court’s ruling confirming that all loving West Virginia couples and their families now have equal access to the privileges and protections of marriage.

Lambda Legal adds Chambers also offered a critique of the Sixth Circuit's ruling upholding four states' gay marriage bans, with Chambers stating that the appeals court:

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 7.28.57 AM"fail[ed] to recognize the role of courts in the democratic process. It is the duty of the judiciary to examine government action through the lens of the Constitution’s protection of individual freedom. Courts cannot avoid or deny this duty just because it arises during the contentious public debate that often accompanies the evolution of policy making throughout the states. Judges may not simultaneously find a right violated yet defer to an uncertain future remedy voluntarily undertaken by the violators."


Eric Holder Announces Federal Government Will Recognize Gay Marriages in Six More States

Holder

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the federal government will recognize same-sex married couples in six additional states: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Last week, Holder made a similar announcement regarding federal recognition of same-sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Colorado. 

Via press release:

The Attorney General’s announcement means couples married in these states will now qualify for a range of federal benefits, including those administered by the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs.

“With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving of full equality for all Americans,” the Attorney General said. “We are acting as quickly as possible with agencies throughout the government to ensure that same-sex married couples in these states receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law.”

In addition, the Attorney General also announced that the Department of Justice has determined it can legally recognize marriages performed in Indiana and Wisconsin this past June. These marriages were performed immediately after federal district courts ruled that those states’ bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but subsequent developments created confusion about the status of those marriages. Based on the Attorney General’s announcement, however, those couples married during that period will now have their unions recognized by the federal government.


PHOTOS: Marriage Equality Comes to West Virginia and Nevada

Atkinson2
(photo via twitter)

With West Virginia Attorney General announcing he would no longer be defending the state's gay marriage ban in court and Justice Anthony Kennedy clearing the mix-up that inadvertently put a hold on marriages in Nevada, two more states were added to the marriage equality column yesterday. 

In Nevada, State Senator Kelvin Atkinson [top right] and Sherwood Howard [top left]  became one of the first same-sex couples to obtain a marriage license in Clark County. You can also check out the pair's wedding proposal we featured on the site yesterday HERE

In West Virginia, meanwhile, Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins [pictured below] became the first gay couple to be married in Cabell County.

Mcgee

More photos (and video) from marriages in other counties across these two states, AFTER THE JUMP...

[bottom photo via Facebook]

Continue reading "PHOTOS: Marriage Equality Comes to West Virginia and Nevada" »


Trans Women Face Hideous and Dehumanizing DMV Discrimination In West Virginia

West Virginia isn't known for being hospitable to anyone who is LGB or T, and as is so unfortunately often the case trans people tend to get it the worst.

Kristen Skinner and Trudy KitzmillerOn May 10, 52-year-old Mount Storm resident Trudy Kitzmiller went in to the DMV to have her license updated with her legal name and new photo. Even though she brought all of the proper court documents, Kitzmiller was told to remove her wig and all makeup before they would take the picture, and was called "it" during the process by a hostile DMV employee.

Similarly, 45-year-old Ranson resident Kristen Skinner went to the Charles Town DMV on January 7 for the same reasons, received similar treatment. Just like Kitzmiller, Skinner was called "it" and was told to remove her wig, makeup, and false eyelashes...even though the "wig" was her own hair and the eyelashes were natural. Skinner relented and removed her makeup in order to have her photograph taken.

On June 30th, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund contacted the West Virginia DMV requesting that the two women be allowed to have their photographs taken of them as they normally are.

Other women are permitted to wear makeup and items that facilitate female gender expression in their driver’s license photos as a matter of course, yet Trudy and Kristen were targeted for suppression simply because they are transgender women. Forcing them to remove their makeup and other items that facilitate a female gender expression before allowing them to take their driver’s license photos restricts their free speech rights in violation of state and federal constitutional protections.


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