Rundown, Queer 411: GOP Anti-Gay Filibuster, WV Approves Anti-Bullying Policy, VA Anti-Gay Adoption, Gay Binational Couple Win + Outed GOP Mayor

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.

GOP Anti-Gay Filibuster
The ambassadorial nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte was successfully filibustered by Senate Republicans on Monday, who cited a pro-LGBT editorial she wrote as one reason to vote against her.  Aponte has already been serving as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador through recess appointment, but to remain in effect, the nomination must be approved by Jan. 3. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a Tea Party favorite, said on the Senate floor that an editorial in favor of LGBT rights that Aponte wrote was a reason to withhold support for her. The op-ed, titled “For the Elimination of Prejudices Wherever They Exist,” was published on June 28 in La Prensa Grafica, a Spanish-language newspaper in El Salvador.

West Virginia Approves Anti-Bullying Policy
The West Virginia State Board of Education passed revisions to a student behavior policy this past week, including a measure protecting sexual orientation and gender identity. Board members unanimously approved Policy 4373, titled Expected Behavior in Safe and Supportive Schools, amid a flurry of public comments. Public speakers were limited to three minutes each. Punishment for bullying or harassment can range from a change in a student’s class schedule to in-school suspension. Out-of-school suspension for up to 10 days or an administrative recommendation that the student be placed in an alternative education program is on the more severe end of the scale.

VA Anti-Gay Adoption
Virginia private adoption agencies acting on the state’s behalf will be allowed to discriminate against gays and lesbians seeking to become adoptive parents under rules passed this past week by the Virginia Board of Social Services. After many speakers voiced support or opposition to the regulations, the Virginia Board of Social Services voted 5-1 at its regular meeting Wednesday to have them take effect May 1. Two members weren’t present for the vote.  The new rules, originally adopted in April, strip out protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, age, disability, gender, family status and political beliefs. Several representatives of the Catholic Church and other faith-based groups urged the board to keep out protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and other factors. Church leaders framed the issue as a matter of religious freedom and the ability of birth mothers to have the right to choose prospective parents who share their religious beliefs. They also said no one has a “right” to adopt a child.

Gay Binational Couple Win
In the latest victory for binational gay couples in the immigration system, officials in Hartford, Conn. moved last week to drop deportation proceedings against Michael Thomas, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago who married his American spouse, John Brandoli, in Massachusetts last year, according to Immigration Equality.  Immigration Equality spokesman Steve Ralls announced that his organization had brought the case to the attention of Department of Homeland Security executive secretary Philip McNamara, who was recently appointed to the role of LGBT liaison in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) working group tasked with reviewing the nation’s 300,000 pending deportation cases.  On November 30th, an immigration judge granted a motion, agreed to by government attorneys, to close the deportation case of Monica Alcota, an Argentine national who lives in Queens, N.Y. with her American wife, Cristina Ojeda. Alcota is represented by immigration attorney Lavi Soloway of Stop the Deportations.

Outed GOP Mayor

Greg Davis, a Republican Mississippi mayor, came out as gay Thursday after an expense receipt he filed was revealed to have come from a gay adult products store in Canada. The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn., first identified the $67 receipt from Priape, a self-described “gay lifestyle store and sex shop,” as part of its investigation of about $170,000 worth of questionable expenses that might lead to criminal charges against Davis. The newspaper posted audio of his coming-out statement on its website. Davis ran for Congress in 2008 reportedly as a “family values” candidate for the Republicans in Mississippi’s first congressional district, and high-profile social conservatives such as former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee campaigned on his behalf. Davis got the national attention when tried to tie his Democratic opponent, Travis Childers, to Barack Obama and his comment on rural people “clinging” to guns and religion.

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

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