An LGBT activist’s view of entertainment and world news.
As an LGBT activist, the promotion of queer rights is #1 on my homosexual agenda. This weekly column serves as a forum for me to comment on issues and causes currently affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. My “rundown” of these topics is from the perspective of an LGBT activist; it is my goal that by keeping our community informed, we can all help contribute to the battle for equality.
Anti-Gay Arkansas Restaurant
An LGBT center in Van Buren, Ark., has claimed that a local restaurant owner discriminated against them and compared them to the Ku Klux Klan when he cancelled a reservation the group made to hold a fundraiser there. Representatives from the River Valley Equality Center told ABC affiliate 40/29TV that the owner of Sisters Gourmet Bistro cancelled the group’s reservation to host a fundraiser after he realized it was for an LGBT organization. “I told them that I do not support their cause,” Sisters owner Richard Hodo told 40/29. “That if they want to do that, that’s their business. I do not care, but I don’t support their lifestyle and their cause.” River Valley organizers say Hodo’s refusal to serve them amounts to antigay discrimination, and noted that the owner compared the center to a white supremacist hate-group. ”It felt like he was comparing us as equals with the KKK,” said River Valley organizer Sarah Sarrubbo. “And we’re about completely opposite things.” Hodo confirmed that comparison in an interview with 40/29. “What I told the lady on the phone,” said Hodo, “Look, I said, if the KKK came here and wanted to hold a fundraiser rally and all that, I wouldn’t allow that either.” Organizers at River Valley said they plan to hold an awareness rally on a street corner near the restaurant in response to the incident.
Down Under Football Players Support Equality
Players from two of Australia’s professional football teams marched in last Sunday’s St. Kilda pride parade in Melbourne. Brock McLean of the Carlton team and Daniel Jackson of Richmond participated in the event; McLean says he was prompted to take part after his sister came out. Also part of the parade was out amateur footballer Jason Ball. “I don’t know if [McLean] would be aware how many lives he has touched and changed in the process of taking the stand he has done,” Ball said. “He’s not only a role model for the gay community but also for people who are straight because I think he’s sort of given permission for straight people to get on board.”
LGBT Gets Rosanne’s Cash
Singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash has written and recorded a song, “Jim and George,” about a longtime gay couple, proceeds from which will benefit the LGBT-related outreach programs of the inclusive Church of St. Luke’s in the Fields, located in New York City’s Greenwich Village. “As a longtime supporter and member of the St. Luke’s community, I am so happy and humbled to offer this track to help benefit the outreach programs at St. Luke’s,” Cash said in a statement on St. Luke’s website. “I wrote this song about an elderly gay couple in Chelsea who were very dear to me, and it was an exercise in compassion and awareness to see myself through their eyes, and them through my eyes. Love is love, and love doesn’t contain itself within arbitrary borders of gender, orientation, race, nationality, creed, or age. Love is love, and I send as much as I can to the outreach programs and the entire St. Luke’s community.” Sales of the track will benefit programs for people with AIDS and LGBT street youth.
Gay Parent News
A judge in Miami-Dade County, Florida, has decided that a gay man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple has the right to be on the birth certificate of their 23-month-old daughter. Massimiliano “Massimo” Gerina was asked to provide sperm by Maria Italiano and Cher Filippazzo, who married in Connecticut. After a successful conception the two women sent a contract to Mr Gerina seven months into the pregnancy asking him to give up parenting rights, but he decided not to sign. Florida law states that artificial insemination sperm donors have no legal rights as parents, but Mr Gerina was able to file a paternity suit after the child, Emma, was born. “My papers said I would have parental rights, a visitation schedule,” Mr Gerina said. “They hated it. They said this wasn’t what they wanted. I said, ‘Now that you’re already pregnant, you should have thought about that before.’ Despite opposing him in court for nearly two years the women did want him to be involved, says the couple’s attorney, Kenneth Kaplan: “As the child gets older, the child will want to know who her father is. They want to be an honest family and they’re not going to keep secrets from the child. He loves the child. That’s a beautiful thing. The more people who can love your child, the better it is.” Mr Gerina said of his desire to be a father to Emma: “It’s nature — the same reason a woman wants to be a mother.” A trial was set for January 31, 3014, but the three managed to settle their dispute out of court a week beforehand.
Pentagon Makes Baby Steps
The Pentagon has decided to extend new benefits to the spouses of gay personnel, according to officials and people notified about the decision, responding to the increasingly vocal appeals of same-sex couples in the military. The new benefits may include housing privileges, access to base recreational facilities and joint duty assignments for uniformed couples, but legal experts say the Pentagon is unlikely to find a way to offer health-care coverage and more than 100 other spousal benefits while the Defense of Marriage Act — which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman — remains in effect. The decision represents the Obama administration’s latest effort to expand legal rights for same-sex couples. It also comes at a time of growing momentum for those campaigning for the full equality of gay men and lesbians. “If you provide benefits to individuals seen as the most deserving and the social fabric doesn’t tear, that does make it easier down the line to do away with DOMA,” said Tammy S. Schultz, the director of the National Security and Joint Warfare Program at the Marine Corps War College, who has studied implementing the repeal of the ban on openly gay troops. “It could be a flanking maneuver to keep chipping away at it.”
That’s all folks and I hope you tune in next week!