Rundown, Queer 411: Texas Shooting Update, Boeing’s Homophobia + Lesbian Mom Fights Back

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.

Texas Shooting Update

Crime Stoppers in Texas have released a video with more details about the summer shooting of a teenage lesbian couple in Portland, TX, according to the Dallas Voice. Mary Chapa, 18, and Mollie Olgin, 19, were shot in a public park on June 22. According to the Voice, the new video mentions that “the teens were walking late at night when they saw a man walk past. A few minutes later he returned with a mask and gloves. He forced them to a secluded area before assaulting and shooting them.”  Police haven’t had luck finding the man who attacked the couple, killing Olgin and wounding Chapa.  A $20,000 reward is being offered and the Tri-County Crime Stoppers is seeking tips at 800-245-TIPS (8477).

New U.N. Gender Resolution

This past week the United Nations committee responsible for human rights issues approved a draft resolution that for the first time acknowledges gender identity as a characteristic in need of protection from extrajudicial executions. The Third Committee of the General Assembly passed the resolution by a vote of 108 to 1, with 65 abstentions, according to a United Nations news release. Iran was the only country to oppose the resolution, which was approved after “rigorous debate” over the language. Sweden introduced the resolution, which condemns extrajudicial, arbitrary, and summary executions on the basis on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and other categories. The text reiterates states’ obligation to conduct prompt, comprehensive, and fair investigations into all suspected extrajudicial executions, and urges states to investigate all killings, including those of people targeted because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and other reasons.

Boeing’s Homophobia

Boeing Company told union negotiators that it intends to deny pension survivor benefits to same-sex married couples, even though Washington State voters decisively approved a marriage equality law earlier this month. Boeing represents over 23,000 engineers and technical workers. Ray Goforth is executive director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001. He was sitting at the negotiation table Friday—as part of ongoing talks over retirement benefits—and says the company’s position “says to employees that they can be discriminated against based on who they are.” Goforth explains that his union has long sought equal pension benefits for same-sex domestic partners, to no avail. But since voters approved same sex marriage—establishing parity with married straight couples—Goforth re-framed the proposal to apply to his union’s gay Boeing employees who wed. “Their answer was that they had no intention of granting pension survivor benefits to legally married same-sex couples because they didn’t have to,” Goforth explains. Boeing representatives told him that pensions are governed by federal law, which doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, thereby trumping the state law on the matter.

Lesbian Mom Fights Back

A lesbian mother from Washington State was so offended by an anti-gay marriage pin her daughter’s math teacher wore that she has taken matters into her own hands and launched an online campaign in hopes to ban teachers from promoting political causes in school, the Peninsula Daily News (Wash.) reports. Cynthia Deford, a gay parent who has a daughter in the 8th grade, claims that an unnamed teacher from Steven’s Middle School in Port Angeles, Wash., wore a button days before the Nov. 6 election that read, “No on 74: one man + one woman = marriage.” The pin references the state’s Referendum 74, which legalized same-sex marriage in Washington and was passed with 52 percent of the vote.  Port Angeles is about 120 miles north of Olympia.  “Urge the Port Angeles School District to prohibit politicking by teachers in the K-12 classrooms,” her petition, which has been taken offline, stated. “This would not affect balanced discussion of political issues in civics, history, social sciences, etc.” The publication points out that Superintendent Jane Pryne said the district has a policy in place when it comes to teachers showcasing their political views in the classroom and that the issue has already been addressed. She also wrote in an email that “an employee may not campaign for a political candidate or for a political issue during school hours on school property.”

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

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