Marriage amendment proposal tied up
In a 2-2 vote along party lines Aug. 23, the State Board of Canvassers denied the proposed constitutional amendment banning equal marriage rights, civil unions and benefits for domestic partners in Michigan, a place on November’s ballot.
The vote, however, is viewed as only a bump in the road, rather than a roadblock, to the anti-gay quest. The measure’s proponents have vowed to appeal the Board’s decision in court later this week.
“We’re still preparing to defeat this at the ballot box in November should the courts decide to overturn the Board of Canvassers’ decision,” said Dana Houle, political director of the Coalition for a Fair Michigan. “Past history suggests that the court will overrule the Board of Canvassers and place the issue on the ballot.”
TransGender Michigan declares Transgender Awareness Day
In August 1966, a group of transgender women fought back against a police raid at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco. The riot that ensued marks what many believe was the beginning of the transgender equality movement.
Although the specific date and many of the details surrounding the riot at Compton’s Cafeteria have been essentially erased from history, TransGender Michigan is seeking to let the bravery of these transwomen live on by educating others about this momentous event and about transgender identity through the creation of Transgender Awareness Day, a day devoted to increasing understanding about transgender identity and issues.
Transgender Awareness Day will be held annually on Aug. 15 in honor of the riot at Compton’s Cafeteria.
“Unfortunately, many say that the transgender equality movement is a relatively new one; however, our movement pre-dates Stonewall, the date most consider the beginning of the gay and lesbian civil rights movement,” says Rachel Crandall, executive director of TransGender Michigan. “While Transgender Awareness Day may be a new event, it is definitely not a new way of thinking.”
Gay pastor walks out of unexpectedly anti-gay chaplaincy training
He thought he was going to learn to be a better chaplain; instead, he was confronted with the bitter truth of intolerance. Rev. Mark Bidwell, pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit, signed up for a six-day, 47-hour fully accredited chaplaincy certification training given by the International Fellowship of Chaplains. Bidwell made it no further than day two, however, and left when the “spiritual violence” he encountered became overwhelming.
“We were talking about organizations for referral and one of the students in the class brought up the ‘homosexual agenda,’ and at that point I was waiting for this to take a negative turn,” said Bidwell.
He didn’t have to wait long. Responding to the student, Bidwell says the instructor of the course, IFOC founder and president Major General Rev. David Vorce, was clear.
“He said, ‘The one thing that I cannot tolerate is homosexuality,'” said Bidwell. “He said, ‘The Bible says that it’s an abomination and that homosexuals should be killed – and I believe that.'”
Bidwell requested a refund of his registration fee, and was told he would receive one. He also reported the incident to the Triangle Foundation, who issued a press release and contacted the IFOC.
“It is reckless and horrifying that someone charged with training chaplains would advocate murder,” said Jeffrey Montgomery, Triangle’s executive director, in the press release.
When contacted by Between The Lines, the IFOC said that Vorce was unavailable and referred the paper to their press release on the matter.
“At no time did Reverend David C. Vorce, President and CEO of the International Fellowship of Chaplains, Inc. support, condone or even encourage the killing of homosexuals and lesbians,” the release read.
Blue Water Pride treading rough waters
The executive board of Blue Water Pride, an organization serving the LGBT community in Port Huron and its surrounding areas, has sent a letter to members and supporters asking for help to keep the organization going.
Citing a lack of “active participatory support and even less financial support outside of the members of the board of directors,” the organization now faces the possibly of folding.
The letter lists the accomplishments of Blue Water Pride and stresses the importance of keeping the organization in existence.
“The time has come to show your (rainbow) colors,” reads the letter, which is signed by Chairman Scott Frazer, Secretary Michael Halamka, and Treasurer Ellen Frazer.
The group produced the annual Port Huron Pride for several years, but recently canceled that event and reformed its mission.
“We decided to focus on reaching those who live outside the social outlets of GLBT bar and ‘out’ activities,” said Frazer. “We have a large sector of people at different comfort levels with their sexuality. We have developed peer-support groups for men, women, youth and straight spouses.”
• One week after BTL columnist Charles Alexander profiled him in his Parting Glances column, Calla “Cal” Adams, 80, died suddenly of a massive stroke. At 18, Cal was dismissed from his post office job, outed as a “known homosexual.” He majored in philosophy and education at Wayne University, and taught grade school in the suburbs for decades.
• Sistas Providing Intelligence Creativity and Empowerment, which received its tax exempt status in 2004, announced the appointment of Kirsten Ussery as interim executive director.
• For the first time, BTL took a hard-hitting look at the state of gay seniors in a feature titled, “In the autumn of their lives – gay seniors speak out.” “I’ve been young and I’ve been old, and it’s not a hell of a lot different,” said Wayne, 58, one of the seniors interviewed. “It’s just not as pretty and it’s just not as marketable.”