Marquette’s faculty senate voted Monday to rebuke the school’s administration for the process that led to a sudden withdrawal of a job offer to a highly-recommended professor who’d been chosen by a search committee to become dean of Marquette’s College of Arts and Sciences, Marquette Tribune reports.
The faculty senate declined to support two other more serious resolutions, however. One of them would have called for a formal censure of Marquette’s president, Father Robert A. Wild, for the decision to withdraw the offer to Jodi O’Brien, an out lesbian professor of sociology at Seattle University. Another would have called for Wild’s immediate resignation.
O’Brien has written several academic articles on queer studies. Wild has reportedly expressed concerns to faculty members about those articles.
The faculty senate recommended Monday that their representatives consider a vote of no confidence in Wild in the fall, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Students and faculty spoke during a portion of the three-hour Academic Senate meeting, but members of the group's executive committee went into a closed session for much of the debate, according to the Journal Sentinel.
Just before faculty members filed into an auditorium for their meeting and votes, about 200 Marquette students staged a quiet demonstration in the hallway outside the auditorium.
A man who pleaded guilty to a vicious attack on a Vancouver gay man was sentenced Friday to 12 months in jail, Vancouver Sun reports.
In announcing the sentence, BC Supreme Court Justice Joel Groves said the attack by Michael Kandola was an affront to “Canadian social values”.
Kandola was originally charged with aggravated assault but pleaded guilty in March to the lesser charge of assault causing bodily harm, Xtra reports.
He was also charged under Canada’s rarely-used hate-crimes law, which allows a judge to increase a sentence if it is shown that a crime was committed out of hatred against a person based on race, religion, or sexual orientation.
During trial, the court was told that group of young men including Kandola, had shouted a tirade of homophobic slurs at Jordan Smith, 27, and his boyfriend, Charles McKay, after the gang saw the couple walking hand-in-hand near Davie Street, in Vancouver’s West End gay neighborhood.
Kandola and the group trailed behind Smith and McKay, shouting at the couple, Xtra reports. When Smith stopped, Kandola blindsided him with a “sucker punch”, knocking him out and breaking his jaw.
Groves ruled that Kandola acted out of hatred when he attacked Smith.
The judge said Friday he was convinced by the overwhelming evidence that “hatred of the victim’s sexual orientation was at play in these events”, the Sun reports.
“There really is no alternative explanation of what happened,” Groves said, calling the crime “utterly abhorrent. He admits to the derogatory language before what I’ll call the sucker punch,” Groves said.
“Mr Kandola must know that his actions are not only contrary to the law but are abhorred by Canadian society,” Groves said.
An upscale Vancouver, BC Catholic girls’ school is disputing reports that the it fired its choir director after parents found out that she is a lesbian.
Through an activist group, Lisa Reimer said yesterday that the school, Little Flower Academy, had dismissed her after she’d taken a brief leave when her wife gave birth to a baby boy.
But the school now insists it didn’t fire Reimer, but merely told her that she couldn’t continue to teach classes at the school which is located in what the Globe and Mail describes as “a ritzy pocket of Vancouver”.
At a Wednesday press conference Reimer stood by the charges made in a Wednesday press release from BC Pride Education Network.
“I feel like I’ve been fired with a payout,” she told reporters.
She said that school administrators cancelled her music classes and told her to work from home marking papers until her one-year temporary employment contract with the school expires in June, Vancouver Sun reports.
“All the families have been told I am on a personal leave, which I am not.”
::: A private Catholic girls’ school in Vancouver, British Columbia fired its well-known music teacher and choir director after she asked for family leave when her wife gave birth. Lisa Reimer announced her dismissal from Little Flower Academy Monday through the Pride Education Network, which said the prestigious all-girls school was discriminating against her on the basis of sexual orientation, Vancouver Sun reports. Steve LeBel, a member of PEN, released a statement for Reimer saying that the school’s principal told her that parents had raised concerns about Reimer’s sexual orientation after she asked for parental leave. The families were worried that “the girls might follow Ms. Reimer’s lead,” LeBel recounted in the news release. He said in his statement, “[I]t is absolutely unfathomable that any school would insinuate that students could be led into homosexuality by having a lesbian teacher and then fire that teacher.” LeBel said that the school “has knowingly employed [Reimer] as a lesbian during the current school year, but suddenly dismissed her without warning.” Reimer is founding artistic director of Vancouver's Zing! Children's Choir. She was hired by the Catholic school last year while she was on leave from her regular job with the Vancouver School District. PEN notes that the school gets some public funding from the province. The leader of a teacher’s association is quoted by PEN: “"This case is a clear example why private schools should not receive any kind of public funding whatsoever.”
US Supreme Court justices seemed “skeptical” during a hearing today of claims made by opponents of marriage equality that names should be kept secret of those who signed a petition to put an anti-gay referendum on the Washington ballot in 2009, Associated Press writer Jesse L Holland observed.
USA Today’s Joan Biskupic writes that the justices “expressed skepticism, some bordering on outrage”.
“Democracy requires civic courage,” said Justice Antonin Scalia. “The First Amendment does not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls when you exercise your political rights to legislate, or to take part in the legislative process.”
Protect Marriage Washington (PMW), the group that backed the anti-gay Referendum 71 had petitioned the court to withhold names of those who signed the petitions the put the measure on the ballot. The referendum asked voters to weigh in on the “everything but marriage” law that was adopted last year by the Washington legislature. (Voters approved the law in November.)
PMW’s lawyer, conservative activist James Bopp, argued that the petitions should be kept secret because signers might be subject harassment and intimidation if the petitions are made public.
“The government is compelling people to identify their political beliefs and then outing them,” Bopp claimed prior to today’s hearing. “There couldn’t be anything more chilling to free speech.”
Scalia scolded Bopp during the hearing, according to USA Today: “The people of Washington evidently think that this is not too much of an imposition upon people’s courage — to stand up and sign something and be willing to stand behind it.”
::: Backers of a proposed initiative in Washington that would establish an income tax for the wealthy, today submitted a modified version of the measure. The new version would allow gay couples and seniors registered as domestic partners to file joint returns, SeattlePI.com reports. The measure, known as Initiative 1077, is backed by Bill Gates, Sr., a retired partner in a prominent Seattle law firm and the father of Microsoft’s co-founder. Some LGBT advocates criticized the initial language of the initiative for not including domestic partners. If I-1077 makes it to the ballot and is passed by voters in November, it would establish a state income tax for the first time. It would tax couples with adjusted gross incomes greater than $400,000 annually, or incomes of more than $200,000 for individuals, and would reduce some existing taxes. State officials will now review both versions of the proposed initiative. Backers of the measure could then decide which version to submit to the attorney general who will set a ballot title for the measure. Gov. Christine Gregoire said today that she will sign the initiative petition. She said, “I do think it is time for us to have a good discussion in the state of Washington about how are we going to fund education.” Backers must collect more than 240,000 valid petition signatures by July 2 to qualify Initiative 1077 for the November ballot.
The suit was filed Tuesday in US District Court in Seattle by National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) on behalf of Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles, and Jon Russ, who were members of D2, a team in the San Francisco Gay Softball League.
Along with over 175 other teams, D2 had traveled to Seattle in August, 2008 for the Gay Softball World Series, an annual event operated by the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association (NAGAAA).
NCLR’s suit alleges that NAGAAA violated Washington’s laws governing discrimination in public accommodations and state consumer protections by implementing and enforcing a “two heterosexual players per team” cap during the 2008 Series.
[NCLR offers a copy of the complaint in pdf format.]
After playing in the series championship game, D2 was disqualified because an NAGAAA committee determined that Apilado, Charles, and Russ—who said they are bisexual—are not “gay”.
NCLR’s suit says NAGAAA also violated the rights of Apilado, Charles, and Russ by subjecting them to a series of invasive questions about their sexual orientation and private lives in front of more than 25 people, most of them strangers.
The suit also alleges that the three plaintiffs, who are men of color, were treated differently than white players.
For the second time less than two years, a petition campaign to recall Portland, Oregon’s out gay mayor, Sam Adams, has failed to collect enough signatures to make it onto the ballot. Organizers admitted Monday they would be unable to collect all of the 32,000-plus required signatures before a Tuesday deadline, KGW TV reports.
[see video clip of KGW’s report at the end of this post]
Avel Gordly, the lead organizer of this year’s recall effort, blamed the economy for the failure of the latest effort.
The campaign raised $51,000, including a $17,500 donation from Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle, the Oregonian reports. But Gordly claimed to KGW that more funding would have allowed the campaign to send out one more mailing, which she insisted would have put them over the needed signature count.
Gordly said Tuesday morning that the campaign had gathered 23,500 signatures since the effort was launched in January, KGW reports.
“I’m disappointed it didn't rise to the level of interest for folks that I thought it might,” said Boyle, the primary bankroller of the campaign.
After a marathon public hearing that last nearly seven hours, the city council in Missoula, Mont. approved a new anti-discrimination ordinance that makes it Illegal to discriminate based on race, age, sex orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Hours earlier, hundreds of students had rallied in a nearby park to mark the college town’s first Diversity Day and to support the proposed anti-discrimination ordinance.
The council members voted 10-2 after midnight Tuesday morning in favor of amending the city’s equality ordinance to prohibit discriminatory behavior in employment, housing, and other areas, KPAX TV reports.
The measure passed at 1:45 am, the Missoulian reports
“Most of us can't remember civil rights in action,” said Councilwoman Stacy Rye, an ordinance sponsor. “This is it for us. This is our lifetimes.”
Councilman Dave Strohmaier, another sponsor of the ordinance, said, “Hopefully our actions tonight will ripple through Montana from Libby to Billings, from Dillon to Wolf Point, and eventually to the capital in Helena.”
The ordinance is the first of its kind in Montana but is similar to measures that have been adopted by several states and by about 129 local governments across the country.
The Miami hospital that once refused to let a lesbian tourist visit her dying partner has agreed to policy changes that significantly broaden the official definition used by the hospital for ‘family’ and ‘family member’.
Jackson Memorial Hospital has agreed to a what it called a “liberally construed” definition of family “solely for the purposes of visitation”. According to a bureaucratic committee-written statement, the new policy will allow for visitation by “legal parents, foster parents, same-sex parent, step-parents, those serving in loco parentis…, and other persons operating in caretaker roles.”
Lambda Legal, which unsuccessfully sued Jackson Memorial for its 2007 refusal to let Janice Langebehn visit her partner Lisa Pond, said in a statement that the new rules “are more responsive to the needs of the LGBT community, but added “the new policies still do not provide as much protection as may be needed in critical situations.”
Littrell said in today’s statement, “[W]e urge the hospital to finish the job” by formally apologizing to Langebehn and adopting a procedure that could resolve visitation disputes while there’s still time for family members to visit a loved one while living.
Langbehn, Pond, and their children, who live in Lacey, Wash. were in Miami in February, 2007 for an RFamily cruise when Pond collapsed on the cruise ship. Pond was taken by ambulance to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Doctors at the hospital eventually told Langebehn that Pond had suffered a fatal brain aneurism, but for eight hours hospital staff refused to let Pond and the four Langebehn-Pond children who were in Miami visit Pond.
Even after legal documentation of the couple’s relationship and of the children’s adoptions had been faxed by friends in Washington to the hospital, a social worker at Jackson Memorial told Langebehn that they were not considered by the hospital to be immediate family of Pond because “you are in an anti-gay city and state”.
There have long been houses set aside at the Olympics for athletes from various countries and for the different sports, but for the first time in Olympic history there are special places in Vancouver and Whistler for LGBT athletes and supporters. In fact, there are two “Pride Houses”—one at Whistler and one in the heart of Vancouver’s West End gay village.
Both venues are hosting special events throughout the Olympics and the ParaOlympics which follow in late March. The Whistler site will also remain open for the resort’s annual Winter Pride gay ski week which was displaced by the Games and is scheduled this year for March 1 to 8.
Both Pride Houses host special events and special guests through March.
On Thursday, Feb. 24 the special guest of Whistler Pride House will be former Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury. As a member of Canada’s team, Tewkesbury won won a silver medal in 1988 at the Seoul games and a gold and a bronze medal at Barcelona in 1992.
Tewksbury announced he was gay in 1998 and published the book Inside Out: Straight Talk from a Gay Jock in 2006.
He recalled for Vancouver Sun’s Andrea Woo that he felt compelled to stay in the closet while he was an Olympics athlete.
“There was this sort of don’t-ask don’t-tell shadow over it ... and I couldn't really live an open life,” he told Vancouver Sun this week. “I couldn’t bring my partner to things and I was kind of guessing who knew and who didn’t. I just decided, ‘I can't stand this any more. I need to live my life’.”
Prior to the opening ceremonies in Vancouver last week, Tewkesbury was invited to address Team Canada—an invitation that he interpreted as a sign that things might be slowly changing of LGBT Olympics athletes.
“These Olympics have turned out to be very magical,” he told CBC last week, “because I’m a very openly gay athlete and I was invited [by Vancouver's Olympic Organizing Committee] to speak to the Canadian team before they walked into the [opening ceremony], as who I am—as a gay athlete.”
The two Pride Houses are another sign of that slow change, Tewkesbury said.
“I kind of unofficially became a spokesperson because there are still so few openly gay, male Olympians out there,” he told the Sun. “Just by virtue of Pride House happening, I began to get phone calls.”
::: The US Supreme Court will hear arguments April 28 in a case brought by a Washington anti-gay group that seeks to keep secret the names of those who signed a petition to put a referendum on last November’s ballot, Seattle Times reports. Because of the state’s Public Records Act, which was adopted by initiative in 1972, the state has previously released the names of those who sign initiative and referendum petitions, but right-wing lawyers sued to stop release of names from petitions for Referendum 71. They argue that the First Amendment rights of petition signers are violated by public release of their names. The referendum asked voters approve or reject a recently expanded state domestic-partnership law that grants “everything but marriage” benefits to gay and lesbian couples. Voters approved the measure. The conservative lawyers arguing for petition secrecy assert that release of the names would subject signers to potential harassment. In its decision to block webcast of the Prop. 8 trial in San Francisco, the high court’s conservative majority indicated that it was persuaded by those arguments.
Article: Thank the Idaho media for Bryan Fischer’s national celebrity
Author: Jody May-Chan
Bryan Fischer was judged one of Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Persons” yesterday on MSNBC’s Countdown. But in what was probably considered an insult by Fischer—who appears to crave the media spotlight—his name wasn’t even mentioned by Olbermann. Instead, Olbermann read sections of a blog post that was posted under Fischer’s name, but instead of giving the night’s “worser” dishonor to Fischer, Olbermann gave it to Don Wildmon, Fisher’s boss at the Mississippi-based fringe-right group American Family Association.
In giving the dishonor to Wildmon, Olbermann quoted a Tuesday blog post by Fischer at the AFA website. In it, Fischer asserts:
If President Obama, congressional Democrats, and homosexual activists get their wish, your son or grandson may be forced to share military showers and barracks with active and open homosexuals who may very well view them with sexual interest.
Olbermann pointed out the obvious: That’s already possible because gay people are allowed to serve in the US military.
For a decade, Bryan Fischer was a one-man right-wing activist group in Idaho. Under the name “Idaho Values Alliance”, Fischer churned out press releases that were gobbled up by the state’s mainstream media, and occasionally even made minor national splashes. In June, he was hired by Wildemon’s fringe-right group and moved from Boise to Tupelo, Miss. to begin hosting a daily webcast for AFA and to churn out logically-challenged web posts like the one Olbermann cited last night.
Lesbian activist Jody May-Chan, who lives in Idaho, traces the several ways in which Idaho’s mainstream media helped Fischer promote himself and his homophobic rants.
::: One of the most right wing of several such Republican senators in the Washington state senate has been banned from participating in the GOP caucus. Sen. Pam Roach (R-31) will not be able to enter the party’s caucus room at the capitol or participate in any of the caucus’s offsite meeting, Seattle Times reports. A letter sent last week by the caucus to Roach says she has “demonstrated an ongoing pattern of treating your co-workers and employees with hostility and anger. As your fellow Senators, it is difficult to be in a room with you when you erupt in anger. For our employees it is unacceptable.” The letter recommends that Roach get anger-management therapy. Although it’s never been one of her primary issues, Roach—who was first elected in 1990—has always been a reliable anti-gay vote in the senate. She consistently received the lowest possible rating—0 out of 5—from a Seattle group that rated election candidates for their receptiveness to LGBT-rights issues. In 2007, Roach was one of nine Republicans and two Democrats who sponsored a bill calling for a constitutional amendment to redefine marriage as an exclusive right for opposite-sex couples. Roach told the Times Friday that senate GOP leadership “wants to persecute me”. In her blog, Roach celebrates Tea-Party members and cites as her main issues expansion of “gun rights” and attacks on the state’s Child Protective Services.
::: Idaho’s only out gay legislator, Sen. Nicole LeFavour (D-Boise), will try again this year to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s human rights law, which currently bans discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of race, religion, and disability. LeFavour announced on a Facebook page set up for the law that the bill will have 20 co-sponsors when it is introduced. The bill would allow the state’s Human Rights Commission to investigate and mediate complaints of discrimination. When the same bill was introduced one year ago in the state senate, it wasn’t even given a public hearing by the Senate State Affairs Committee, which voted 4-2 to kill the bill as soon as it was introduced. LeFavour was allowed to speak in favor of the bill before the committee, Spokesman Review reported, but her impassioned plea didn’t move her fellow senators. She said that many employers and many individuals believe that it’s OK to discriminate against LGBT people because the law is silent on the matter. “By our silence, we condone it,” she said. Since then, the Facebook page and a website for “Human Rights for All” has encouraged supporters of the anti-discrimination measure to speak up with letters to the editors of state newspapers, and personal lobbying of legislators.
The US Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a case brought by the backers of Washington’s anti-gay Referendum 71 that seeks to keep secret the petitions that were signed by voters to get the referendum on the November ballot.
The anti-gay campaign claims in its court filing that release of the petition names would violate the First Amendment rights of those who signed the petitions.
In this case the anti-gay lawyers are asking the high court to gut parts of a law, the Public Records Act, passed by voters through a citizen initiative in 1972. The same anti-gay campaigners have insisted in other situations—notably their defense of Prop 8 last year before the California Supreme Court—that that voters have a right to pass laws at the ballot box even when they infringe on the constitutional rights of a minority.
Janet I Tu reports for Seattle Times:
At stake is whether a portion of Washington’s Public Records Act, which requires publicly disclosing the identities of those who sign referendum or initiative petitions, violates the signers' First Amendment rights.
“It’s very encouraging that (the Supreme Court justices) have obviously treated this case with great sensitivity and respect for the privacy rights of citizens.… And now they're going to consider those rights on the merits,” said James Bopp Jr., attorney for Protect Marriage Washington, the organization that brought the case.
Secretary of State Sam Reed, the defendant in the case, said: “We welcome an opportunity to go to the highest court in the land to defend Washington citizens' strong desire for transparency, openness and accountability in government, and the public's belief that our state and local public documents must be available for public inspection….
American Federation for Equal Rights, the group that is sponsoring the lawsuit, has released details about the remote viewing locations where the Prop. 8 trial—Perry v. Schwarzenegger—will be streamed live from San Francisco.
“Additional sites may be announced” according to the AFER statement, but these are the locations where the initial day will be viewable. (Barring a possible intervention by the US Supreme Court to prevent the broadcast.) All locations are at federal courthouses. (Security at the buildings will, of course, be enforced.)
San Francisco, California:
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
James R. Browning United States Courthouse
95 7th St.
Library Conference Room, First Floor
Richard H. Chambers United States Courthouse
125 South Grand Avenue
Courtroom Three, First Floor
United States Court of Appeals
700 SW Sixth Avenue
Courtroom, Second Floor
William K. Nakamura United States Courthouse
1010 Fifth Avenue
Courtroom One, Eighth Floor
Brooklyn, New York:
Theodore Roosevelt United States Courthouse
225 Cadman Plaza East
Courtroom 8A South, Eighth Floor
hattip: The Advocate
::: The Washington state senator who has introduced a marriage equality bill in each of the last several sessions tells Seattle Times reporter Lornet Turnbull that he will do so again this year, but Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle) added that he doesn’t expect much to happen with it this year. He said a majority of residents don’t yet support same-sex marriage and that he lacks the votes to pass a bill out of the Senate, Turnbull reports. He added that Gov. Chris Gregoire, a fellow Democrat, is not on record as supporting same-sex unions. “I think we have to be in a stronger position,” he told the Times. “That’s going to take at least a year.” In the past three sessions, Murray and the other half-dozen members of the state’s informal caucus of out gay legislators have focused on establishing and then expanding the state’s domestic partnership law, which now offers to registered couples all the legal rights (but not the name) of marriage. The law survived a referendum challenge last November. Murray told the Times that he wants the gay community to focus for now on raising money and organizing, “so we can be prepared to pass marriage law and fight any referendum that would happen as a result.”
::: The US Supreme Court will decide on January 15, 2010, whether to accept or reject the appeal of last fall’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upheld Washington’s practice of treating ballot measure petitions as releasable public records, the Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office reports on its blog, according to Joe.My.God blog. The case arose from legal actions filed against the state by Protect Marriage Washington (PMW) which used Referendum 71 to force a public vote on the state’s “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law. PMW argued that the state should not release for public review the petition forms that it circulated for the ballot measure. The group alleges that the first-amendment free-speech rights of those who signed the referendum petitions would be violated by release of their names. Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office has argued that the state’s voter-approved Public Records Act requires release of all public records, including petitions for referendums and initiatives. The 9th Circuit agreed with the attorney general’s arguments and ordered release of the records, but PMW appealed to the Supreme Court. If the high court doesn’t hear the appeal, the circuit court ruling will stand. The “everything but marriage” domestic-partnership law was upheld in last November’s election.
On Nov. 20 three films shipped to Ottawa’s Inside Out LGBTQ film festival were held for review by Canadian customs officials. The films weren’t released until Nov. 25, three days after the festival had ended, which left festival organizers scrambling to find replacement copies.
Because one of the paper’s staff writers was in the audience during the first scheduled screening for one of the quarantined films, the Canadian queer newspaper Xtra quickly reported the seizure and has followed the story intensively in the week since then.
Members of parliament contacted this week by Xtra worried that the actions of the customs agency hearkened back to a long running legal battle between the agency and Vancouver LGBT bookstore Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium.
“How long does this battle have to go on?” NDP House Leader Libby Davies said to Xtra’s Marcus McCann when asked about last week’s film seizures. “There's been thousands, maybe millions of dollars spent on litigation [and] court battles by Little Sister's. Why are they holding up material that is totally acceptable?”
Jason St. Laurent, programming director for the Inside Out festival told CBC that he learned that the films were stuck at the border when he called the courier company on Thursday to confirm tracking numbers for their shipment.