Rundown, Queer 411: Anti-Gay T-shirt Arrest, 300 Employers Against DOMA + more!

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 T-Shirt Arrest

Both Plymouth and Wolcott police in CT charged Derrell Rice, 68, of Grove Street in Torrington with breach of peace Wednesday. Wolcott also charged him with first-degree criminal trespass, according to a police press release. According to the release, about 10 a.m. Wednesday, Rice went to the Plymouth Center School and rang the buzzer to be let in. When asked through the intercom why he was there, Rice said he wanted to register his granddaughter.  When met at the door, he “began to express his displeasure” with the recent decision allowing an anti-gay T-shirt to be allowed in school. The staff member told him that the decision had been made in Wolcott. Rice became very upset, police said, and the school employee called police. Rice drove away.  Plymouth notified Wolcott police and officers responded to the schools, Chief Edward L. Stephens said. Wolcott schools also were advised.  Rice appeared at the board of education offices and talked to Joseph Macary, superintendent of schools, who told him the decision to allow the shirt was based on the First Amendment, as well as school policy, police said. He then told Rice he is no longer allowed on school property, and that he should leave.  But Rice refused to leave, police said, and said he was going to the high school to tell everyone what was going on. Officers who were nearby arrested him.  Rice posted $1,000 bail. He will appear in March in Superior Court in Waterbury on the Wolcott charges and in Superior Court in Bristol on the Plymouth charge.

Murderer Caught

A man has been charged with the murder of gay Clarksdale, Miss., mayoral candidate Marco McMillian.  The Coahoma County Sheriff’s Department released a statement Thursday saying Lawrence Reed, 22, of Shelby, Miss., was charged in the death of McMillian, 34, reports USA Today.  McMillian’s body was found near the Mississippi River Wednesday. Police considered him missing after his SUV, driven by Reed, collided with another vehicle Tuesday. McMillian was not in SUV.  The sheriff’s department did not release information on the cause of McMillian’s death or any theories about a motive, although the county coroner said he believed politics was not a factor.  McMillian was one of four Democrats seeking the Clarksdale mayoral nomination and “was considered one of the first viable openly gay office-seekers in the state,” USA Today notes.

300 Employers Against DOMA

Nearly 300 businesses and city governments filed a brief with the Supreme Court last week calling for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriage, be struck down as unconstitutional.  Signed by approximately 278 employers, including major businesses such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Starbucks, Morgan Stanley, Google and cities from Baltimore to Los Angeles, the brief argues that DOMA hurts work efficiency and employee morale.  “In the modern workplace, the employer becomes the face of DOMA’s discriminatory treatment, and is placed in the role of intrusive inquisitor, imputer of taxable income, and withholder of benefits,” writes attorney Sabin Willett. “The employer is thus forced by DOMA to participate in the injury of its own workforce morale.” Several of the employers who have attached their names to the brief have spoken out on the issue of marriage equality before. The brief comes one day after attorneys for Edith Windsor, the 83-year-old lesbian widow at the center of the DOMA case before the Supreme Court, filed their brief with the high court. Windsor’s lawyers echoed many of the arguments made in a brief filed by the Obama administration last week, arguing for “heightened scrutiny” in the case and dismissing arguments made by the Republican-controlled House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which has been defending DOMA in court since the Obama administration stopped doing so in February 2011.

Australia’s Gay Mardi Gras

As the 35th Mardi Gras kicks off in Sydney, organizers expect hundreds of thousands of people in what is expected to be one of the biggest in the event’s history.  Organizers said that around 10,000 performers on 110 floats would take place in a parade described as containing”tapestry, fun and frivolity”, reports  Michael Rolike, the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO, said that joining the hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets would be some of those who took part in the first Mardi Gras march in 1978. This year’s parade celebrates 35 years history, from very humble beginnings,” he said.  The event’s creative director, Ignatius Jones, said that the first float would be”dedicated to the 78ers, the first generation”.  Notably, for the first time, the armed forces will also be “proudly marching in uniform”, Jones said. He went on to say that they expected a big youth presence, as well as those from the first ever staging of the event. There are quite a number of floats concentrating on youth, actually built by youth, dedicated to such things like sexual identity, bullying, depression and even youth suicide,” he said. 

That’s all folks and I hope you tune in next week!




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