Rundown Queer 411: Lesbian Beauty Queen Contender, Senators for Marriage Equality + 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.

Lesbian Beauty Queen Contender

Analouisa Valencia breaks all the pageant stereotypes: she’s articulate, mixed-race, and proudly, openly gay.  Analouisa Valencia — a lesbian African-American/Latina beauty queen — is very comfortable in her own skin. Currently Miss Lyman, S.C., Valencia travels to the state capitol in July to compete in the Miss South Carolina contest and, hopefully, advance to the Miss America pageant. Valencia isn’t coming out per se, because the 19-year-old college student has been out for years; she took her girlfriend, Tamyra Bell, to her prom and attended Bell’s. But Valencia is ready to tell the world her story and remains optimistic the judges in Columbia will see her like so many already do: as a role model. In certain parts it’s a little bit more welcoming. “There are certain organizations and certain people and certain areas that aren’t so welcoming of [gay people], so I guess we’re still getting there. Very slowly but surely.” said Ms. Valencia.

Church Bigotry

Long Island resident Nicholas Coppola says he had been accepted as a gay man in his church, but after an anonymous letter was sent to his bishop about his marriage, he was barred from teaching a children’s religion class. A gay Long Island man has been stripped of his volunteer duties at his Roman Catholic Church after he married his longtime partner.  Lifelong Catholic Nicholas Coppola, 47, had been an active parishioner and taught a children’s religion class at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in Oceanside, N.Y. He continued to do so after legally marrying his partner of 10 years, David Crespo, last October, a wedding that was attended by several church members and even some clergy.  But an anonymous letter-writer notified Bishop Bob Brennan, the head of the Catholic diocese of Rockville Centre, that a married gay man was teaching religion at St. Anthony’s, and Brennan spoke to St. Anthony’s pastor Nicholas Lombardi about it. Lombardi then told Coppola he could no longer teach the class, NBC’s New York City affiliate reports.  “It has been difficult, very difficult for me,” Coppola told the station. “Because I’m trying to fill that void of good deeds. … I was accepted into the church being openly gay. But once I got married, which went against Catholic teaching, they had to remove me from my teaching position.”

Senators for Marriage Equality

Two more Democratic U.S. senators have come out for marriage equality: Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.  Donnelly, who voted against marriage equality when he was in the House of Representatives, said the cases heard by the Supreme Court last week made him change his mind, USA Today reports.  “I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all,” he said in a Facebook post.  Heitkamp also posted her change of heart on Facebook, saying, “I have concluded the federal government should no longer discriminate against people who want to make lifelong, loving commitments to each other or interfere in personal, private, and intimate relationships. “I view the ability to marry as a logical extension of this belief. The makeup of families is changing, but the importance of family is enduring.”  The activist group MoveOn.org noted that a constituent had used its petition platform to urge Heitkamp to change her position, and similar petitions are calling for the same move by the four remaining Democratic senators who have yet to come out for equal marriage rights: Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

TV Reporter Fired

Mark Saxenmeyer wanted to do a story about a gay Minneapolis couple who attended the White House Easter egg hunt but instead passed it off to a co-worker at KSTP-TV.  While she was writing the story, Mr. Saxenmeyer, who’s openly gay, added some things to her script to make her laugh, including a reference to the couple as “Big HOMO dads”. The line made it into the story, which was posted on the station’s website on March 30th. Mr. Saxenmeyer said it was up for less than five minutes before the line was deleted, but not before a reader complained.  Speaking to the St Paul Pioneer Press, Mr. Saxenmeyer said he felt terrible about his mistake and understands why KSTP fired him.  “Bizarre ironic is what it is,” he said. “I’m not sorry for me. I’m a big boy; I’ll get over it. I made a profoundly stupid mistake. There’s just no getting around that. I have apologized profusely. It was stupid, inappropriate, and irresponsible. It is beyond comprehensible.” He added: “When you are gay, you sometimes feel you can say things because they are coming from a place not of disrespect or evil.”

Paraguay’s Homophobic Judge

Judge Nery Kunzle rejected Cazal Simon and Sergio Lopez’s request to register their marriage.  The judge quoted articles 49, 50 and 51 of Paraguay’s constitution that states marriage is only formed by a man and a woman.  Cazal Simon told the Washington Blade that despite the ruling, he and his husband will continue to raise public awareness of the discrimination faced by LGBT people in Paraguay.  They are both members of the gay rights group Somosgay.  “It is a decision that we were expecting, based on the judge’s previous history,” Mr. Cazal said, noting he hopes to eventually bring the case before the country’s Supreme Court and may potentially also petition the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.  On Tuesday, the Uruguayan Senate passed a bill which would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.  President José Mujica has said he will sign it into law once the country’s House of Deputies gives it final approval.  Argentina legalized equal marriage in 2010.

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