“Maybe what a gay icon is, is a person who is rooted for – in other words, cheered on – by people who feel different.”
– Liza Minnelli as quoted by the Detroit Free Press
“A person’s sexual orientation has no bearing on their ability to perform their job, and I will continue to fight for fair treatment and equal protection under the law for all working Americans.”
– U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) in a letter to a constituent
Several Detroit-area activists including Michelle Fox-Phillips and Jamie Phillips-Fox form Transgender Detroit to serve the needs of transgender individuals living in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
BTL reports Rodger Keller, a retired University of Michigan horticulturalist who helped organize the first pride march in Detroit in 1972, was found shot to death in his Key West, Florida home March 23, 2006. He was 63.
The National Gay Newspaper Guild of the United States announced results of officer elections, electing five officers, each for two-year terms, at its annual meeting held in San Francisco on April 1. Sue O’Connell of Bay Windows in Boston was elected President. Michael Portantino of the Gay and Lesbian Times in San Diego was elected Vice President. Robert Moore of the Dallas Voice in Dallas was elected Treasurer. Susan Horowitz of Between The Lines in Michigan was elected Secretary. Tracy Baim of the Windy City Times in Chicago and Mike Kitchens of the Southern Voice in Atlanta were elected Officers At Large.
Julia Pell, a longtime advocate for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, died at age 52. The daughter of the former U.S. Senator from Rhode Island Claiborne Pell, Julia Pell served as president of Rhode Island Alliance for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights.
Musician treats orientation as minimal
Just like the various stages she plays on, musician Garrison Starr treats her sexuality as a minimal part of the musical equation. “It’s the same as anybody else making it,” Starr said. “I hate categories, I hate labels … I certainly don’t think that gay people should be any different. The more you focus on it, the more other people focus on it.”
More online: Issue 1414, “The Sound of Garrison Starr,” by Chris Azzopardi
Support welcomed out activist
“When I came out as a lesbian in 1973 I did so to a welcoming community,” said Cheryl Clarke, a poet and activist who came out at the “height of gay liberation and gay pride on a New Brunswick college campus.”
More online: Issue 1414, “Speaking it into being,” by Imani Williams
Jewish film fest features LGBT issues
The annual film festival presented by the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit turned 8 years old on April 30. The year’s line-up included three LGBT issue films including the drama “Walk On Water,” “Keep Not Silent” and “Hineni: Coming Out in A Jewish High School.”
More online: Issue 1417, “Jewish film festival features LGBT films,” by BTL staff
Michigan Appeals Court to hear Prop. 2 case
On April 11 a panel of three judges from the Michigan Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case of National Pride at Work v Granholm, et al, which was filed by pro-gay family activists to protect domestic partner benefits.
Despite both printed quotes and documents from Proposal 2’s proponents during the 2004 campaign that the anti-marriage amendment had nothing to do with employment benefits, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox appealed the Sept. 2005 ruling by Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuk that it is still legal under Michigan’s Constitution for public employers to offer the protection of benefits to same-sex headed families.
Study finds widespread abuse against LGBTs by police
Amnesty International says its study of four major U.S. cities found “serious police abuses” and levels of hate crimes against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
The report, Stonewalled: Still Demanding Respect,is based on research collected by Amnesty International and other groups between 2003 and 2005.
The research focused on four U.S. cities – Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Antonio – but also included efforts to survey police departments in other major cities. Many of those departments, including Detroit, failed to respond to Amnesty’s request for information.
Parents, youth urge passage of anti-bullying legislation
From conservatively dressed senior citizens to Mohawk sporting youth, over 100 people joined the largest ever lobbying day for the Triangle Foundation at the State Capitol March 28. The event was designed to lobby state legislators to support anti-bullying legislation that has been introduced in both the state house and senate. The bills, HB 5616 and SB 1156, would create rules for all Michigan school districts dictating how reports of bullying should be dealt with.
The day before the lobby day, the bills received a big push of support from Governor Jennifer Granholm. “Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that one out of every three students – one out of every three – in grades six through 10 is the victim of bullying,” Granholm said during her March 17 weekly radio address. “While some school districts in Michigan have worked to address this issue, it’s important to require that every district have policies in place to discourage bullying.”
Gay networking group inspires LGBT success
ROYAL OAK – Do you know what the man across the conference table thinks about gay people? Is the woman writing your home loan working against the LGBT community when 5 p.m. rolls around? Thanks to Robert Lalicki and Reid Beyerlein, you won’t have to ask those questions.The pair created “Ties Like Me!” – a networking group for gay and lesbian professionals.
“It’s our opinion that people like to do business with people they know,” said Beyerlein, a financial planner with Edward Jones in Lathrup Village. “To make our community stronger, we’ve got to try to drive business amongst ourselves.”
Ties Like Me meets the third Wednesday of each month.
Anti-gay graffiti pulls school together
Michigan Tech meets chalking incident with determination, pride
Hatred struck the campus of Michigan Technological University in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the form of chalk and poor handwriting. On April 7, students awakened to the last day of Pride Week to find between 35 and 45 violent threats against gays chalked on campus sidewalks and buildings.
Appeals court hears Proposal 2 case
On April 11, a packed courtroom of The Michigan Court of Appeals heard arguments on whether domestic partner benefits constituted a violation of Proposal 2, the anti-gay marriage amendment passed by Michigan voters in November 2004. No immediate decision was rendered in the case, which pits Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox against a coalition including the American Civil Liberties Union, the office of Governor Jennifer Granholm and several Michigan universities. The case originated following the passage of an amendment to the Michigan Constitution that outlaws marriage for same-sex couples. Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm determined that the last words of the amendment — “or any union for similar purposes” – required her to remove domestic partner benefits from state employee contracts. Her action led 22 couples to file suit. Members of these couples are employed either by the state or by state-run universities.
St. Maarten police seek help after attack on 2 New York tourists
Police have appealed to the public for help in the investigation into an attack on two New York journalists, who were beaten with tire irons outside a bar on the Dutch side of St. Maarten in what the victims described as a hate crime.
Dick Jefferson, 51, and Ryan Smith, 25, who work for CBS, were outside a bar with several friends early Thursday when three men attacked them and started hitting them with tire irons.
Jefferson, a senior broadcast producer for CBS’ national evening news, said the attackers yelled anti-gay slurs at his friends earlier in the evening.
Both victims were flown to Miami for medical treatment.
Gay, lesbian parents line up for White House Easter Egg Roll
Hundreds of gay and lesbian parents hoping to take their families to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll start lining up Friday evening to make sure they get tickets for the Monday event.
Tennessee hints at what’s to come on adoption front
The state legislature considered such bills (opposing adoption by gay couples) before and they have failed. But this year, the strategy of gay civil rights opponents has changed. Instead of introducing explicitly anti-gay bills concerning adoption, foster care, and guardianship, the legislators have introduced “stealth” bills, says Chris Sanders, a spokesperson for Tennessee Equality Project, a statewide LGBT organization. This stealth strategy needs to be watched for across the country, urrently, only one state (Florida) bans gay couples from adopting. Twenty-five states allow gay couples to co-adopt children. (A judge in Michigan ruled in 2002 that adoptions by gay couples could no longer be allowed due to a state law which stipulates that only married couples and single individuals can adopt.)