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.
Quinn for Mayor
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn formally launched Sunday what she hopes will be a history-making mayoral bid. A veteran of city politics, Quinn would be a groundbreaking mayor across two personal dimensions: She would be the first female and first openly gay mayor to lead the nation’s largest city. Announcing on Twitter that she’s in the race, Quinn said she wanted to give middle- and working-class New Yorkers the same opportunities generations of her family got when they came here. “I’m running for mayor because I love this city. It’s the greatest place in the world,” she said in a video linked to her post, before starting what she called a walk-and-talk tour intended to take her to every neighborhood in the city before the Democratic primary in September. Her first stop was the upper Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood, where she was surrounded by supporters carrying signs that read “Christine Quinn for Mayor” and wearing baseball caps with her initials on them. Before the walk, Quinn told reporters, “I’m running today and I’ll stack my record against anybody else’s in this field. … I balance budgets on time, and I had the wisdom in the first three years I was speaker, when there were surpluses, to not spend that money.”
A report released Friday by the Williams Institute at UCLA calculated that out of the 11 million undocumented immigrants estimated to be America today, 267,000 adults identify as LGBT. Another 637,000 LGBT adults were legal immigrants. Gary Gates, a scholar at the Williams Institute, said that the number was a conservative estimate based on cross-referencing survey data on undocumented immigrants, sexual orientation, along with data on married same sex couples. Gates’ remarks came at an event in Washington, D.C., debuting the finding that was hosted by the liberal Center for American Progress. There are some issues gay and immigrant rights groups are looking to address that concern specifically LGBT immigrants, for example greater sensitivity towards gay and transgendered detainees taken into custody by ICE. But the dominant issue affects U.S. citizens and immigrants alike: the ability to sponsor one’s partner or spouse for a visa. The Defense of Marriage Act, now under review by the Supreme Court, bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples. That means that the usual laws allowing citizens to bring foreign-born husbands or wives to America under a family visa don’t apply. The result is often that couples are forced into effective exile: the popular progressive blogger Glenn Greenwald, for example, lives in Brazil with his partner because only Brazilian law recognizes their relationship and grants Greenwald permanent residency. According to the Williams Institute, the nation is home to an estimated 32,300 same-sex binational couples in which one spouse is an American and the other a non-citizen. According to Gates, more than half have children, meaning entire families face the prospect of being split apart if a foreign partner or spouse can’t find an alternative visa through work, school, or other family relationships — a process that can take years in the best of circumstances.
RI Bible Clause
Maria Valente and Andrea Bond were married in Massachusetts four years ago by a justice of the peace. The East Providence women insist they are just like any other couple raising three children. But a few years ago, when Bond had surgery in Rhode Island, they found out not everyone agrees. ‘‘I was told I couldn’t be in the room with her,’’ Valente said. ‘‘It was discouraging and hurtful. The children were upset. Why drive a wedge into a family like that?’’ Valente and Bond hope Rhode Island joins the rest of New England this year in allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. But they are concerned that the treatment they received may still be allowed if lawmakers insert a broad exemption allowing religious organizations like churches, hospitals, and schools — or private businesses — to ignore the law and decide for themselves whether to extend benefits and rights to married gay couples. Supporters and opponents alike predict the debate could turn on the religious exemption. The bill passed the House in January but has yet to receive a vote in the Senate. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who has opposed gay marriage in the past, has said the sticking point in the debate for many senators is how broad the exemption is. Several senators, she said, wanted a more expansive exemption to protect religious organizations and private individuals who do not want to recognize gay marriage. The same objection has been raised by the Roman Catholic Church and several religious leaders who say the issue comes down to religious liberty. They argue that religious schools and charitable organizations like the Knights of Columbus should not be forced to change employee benefit policies or rent an event hall to a same-sex couple for a wedding reception. ‘‘The establishment of same-sex marriage would pose yet another threat to religious freedom,’’ wrote Bishop Thomas Tobin, the leader of the Providence Diocese, in a column in the state’s Catholic newspaper. ‘‘. . . Religious bodies will be obliged to extend their resources, facilities, and benefits to individuals who are living in immoral relationships — contrary to sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Anti-Gay Mayor Loses
An anti-gay German mayor has lost his seat to openly gay candidate Sven Gerich, of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Sven Gerich, of the pro-same-sex marriage party Social Democratic Party, won with a small majority of 50.8%. Müller, of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party who opposes same-sex marriage, has been mayor of Wiesbaden since 2007. Just two weeks before, preliminary results showed Müller had been leading with the vote. ‘I thank all voters for their confidence,’ the 38-year-old Gerich said. ‘Although I am still overwhelmed, it is slowly starting to sink in. “’This overwhelming success is the result of a great campaign. My further thanks go to all the people who helped and supported me.” On the election night, the 60-year-old Müller told DAPD he was ‘expecting a close vote’. He also said the result must be analyzed at once and ‘digested’. Some German political experts are saying this win is symbolic of the public becoming tired with the CDU. Merkel’s party has run the state since 1999 and hoped to have extended that run until 22 September, the day Germany elects a new parliament. The SPD, who are in favor of marriage equality, has extended its run of wins since winning the Frankfurt mayoral election last year. Gerich joined the party recently, in 2003, and from 2008 to 2011 he was parliamentary secretary of the SPD faction city council. A center-left politician and entrepreneur, he promised to promote business growth in the traditionally conservative south-west city. In 2001, Klaus Wowereit became one of the most famous gay politicians in Germany when he was elected mayor of Berlin..
Get Gay Funded
A mutual agreement re-establishing Amazon Payments as the funding processor for LGBT projects listed on Apps Genius Corp’s crowd funding website,GetGayFunded.com, was reached by the two companies resulting in the site’s re-launch on March 9. Additionally, Amazon Payments also agreed to continue processing funds that had previously been pledged for various LGBT projects, a sum of nearly $7,000, before GetGayFunded.com temporarily shut down on February 19. “It was very important for us to work with Amazon Payments to process the money that had been pledged for those projects already,” Adam Kotkin, chief executive officer of Apps Genius, the company that developed and operates GetGayFunded.com, said in a press release dated March 14. “We appreciate the tremendous outpouring of support from the public to get our website back online and we are grateful to Amazon Payments for working through this issue so GetGayFunded.com can go back to work providing much-needed funding support for LGBT community projects.
That’s all folks and I hope you tune in next week!