One Equal World

The most recent polls for San Diego’s 52nd Congressional District election are showing a dead-heat among voters. The results currently show Democratic Rep. Scott Peters at 47%, with Republican Carl DeMaio trailing by just 1%, at 46%. “This is a real fight to the finish and a battle to see which of these two are better able to turn out their supporters in better numbers,” said Jay Leve, SurveyUSA founder.

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Openly gay republican Carl DeMaio is running for California’s 52nd congressional district.

While Republican Carl DeMaio also trails slightly in fundraising from PACs compared to Peters, he’s found a different way to collect over $150,000 in contributions: joint fundraising committees (JFCs).

DeMaio, an openly gay Republican, has much of his JFC money coming from the GOP gay rights movement, which includes high profile GOP LGBT supporters. DeMaio is involved in the joint funding committee called the Equality Leadership Fund. This JFC includes DeMaio and Richard Tisei, another openly gay Republican who represents Massachusetts. This exclusive fund has generated over $143,000 since its formation in 2013.

Big names are contributing to the funding, such as founder and CEO of hedge fund Elliott Management Corporation Paul Singer donating to the cause. While not gay himself, Singer has contributed over $1.8 million to a super PAC created to back gay marriage by Republicans and in December of last year, he has donated $5,200 to the JFC fund.

Ken Mehlman, a former campaign manager for President George Bush’s 2004 reelection who came out as gay in 2010, has made four contributions totaling $7,000 to the Equality Leadership Fund. And political action committee The Log Cabin Republicans contributed $500 to the fund, with the LCR advocates for gay rights. The committee has donated $1,125 directly to DeMaio’s campaign.

DeMaio’s campaign spokesman Dave McCulloch stressed the importance of DeMaio’s broad support base, and noted that while their commitment to the LGBT community is an essential factor, a varied group of supporters are also vital to the campaign.

“I’d say that Carl’s support of LGBT issues stands strong, and I’d say that he’s willing to work with different coalitions of people to further that and it seems to be that people are receptive to Carl’s ideas [about LGBT equality],” McCulloch said.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, the progress that DeMaio has made as a gay candidate who openly advocates for LGBT rights signifies progress. With the poll results still so close, there’s no telling yet if the additional financial support from JFCs will help DeMaio come out on top.

 

LGBT inclusiveness is an issue that has been historically fraught within St. Patrick’s Day celebrations throughout the country. In recent years, gay and lesbian participants have been outright banned from parades and other festivities, a blatant act of discrimination that came to a head last year in New York and other major cities.Saint-Patrick's-Day-Parade

In a recent statement to the Associated Press, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade committee said, “change of tone and expanded inclusiveness is a gesture of goodwill to the LGBT community in our continuing effort to keep the parade above politics.” For the first time ever, an openly gay group will march in the 2015 parade under their own banner.

The change comes months after Mayor Bill de Blasio boycotted the 2014 event because the exclusion of LGBT groups. In the past, LGBT groups have been allowed to participate in the parade so long as they are not identified as an LGBT group.

Irish Central offers an explanation: “In a historic move aimed at defusing the storm that erupted this year over the exclusion of gay banners in the march, the addition of a banner identifying gay NBC staffers is a compromise forged at the insistence of several New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee members, including Dr. John Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, and Francis X. Comerford, chief revenue officer for NBC-owned TV stations. NBC, the long-time broadcast home of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, was prepared to drop its coverage unless a compromise that resulted in the inclusion of a gay group was brokered.”

Many are very happy with the decision, including Mayor de Blasio who calls this progress. According to one statement, organizers have worked diligently to keep politics out of the parade in order to preserve it as a single and unified cultural event that has paradoxically ended up politicizing the annual celebration.

As activists gathered to participate in Charlotte, North Carolina’s Moral Monday event last week, promoting the importance of combating voter suppression and racial profiling, a relevant event was happening just a parking lot away: Activist and former State Senate candidate Ty Turner was arrested for distributing leaflets on parked cars. The arrest, caught on cell phone video by a fellow activist, shows Turner, a black activist for LGBT rights, questioning police about their actions and receiving no response.

“They said they would charge me for distributing literature,” Turner commented after his release from jail. “I asked [the policeman] for the ordinance number [being violated], because they can’t put handcuffs on you if they cannot tell you why they’re detaining you. I said, ‘Show me where it’s illegal to do this.’ But he would not do it. The officer got mad and grabbed me. Then he told me that I was resisting arrest!”

Instead of taking Turner directly to jail, police transported him to three other locations before finally delivering him to the jail to receive a citation.

Though the video, taken by Turner’s friend and fellow activist Casey Throneburg, shows the officers telling Turner he was under arrest, a police department spokesperson told the press that he was detained but not charged.

Even if the officers couldn’t name the specific ordinance they were trying to enforce, Throneburg said there is, in fact, one on the books, though it’s rarely enforced and “certainly not with handcuffs.”

When they heard what had happened, thirty of the Moral Monday activists marched to the jailhouse and demanded Turner’s release.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department did not choose to comment.

Reverend Dr. William Barber, the founder of Moral Mondays and President of the North Carolina NAACP, said the incident illustrated the urgent need to promote voting in the African American community.

Just over a year ago, 16-year-old AJ Betts took his life at his home in Iowa because of bullying. He decided to become an organ donor months before his death, but now that wish won’t be fully granted. His eyes were rejected because of an FDA regulation that came about around the AIDs epidemic.

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The rejection of AJ’s eyes has made many question whether current regulations are out of date. “My initial feeling was just very angry because I couldn’t understand why my 16-year-old son’s eye couldn’t be donated just because he was gay,” Moore said.

The regulation makes would-be donors ineligible to donate certain tissues because it is believed they have a risk factor. Gay men also are banned for life from donating blood because of the regulation. The Food and Drug Administration classifies eyes as tissue rather than organs, which means they have different standards for donation.

Luckily, not all of AJ’s organs have been rejected because of such antiquated laws. AJ’s mother, Sheryl Moore, received a letter letting her know what became of her son’s kidneys, liver, heart and lungs. “I was very happy to hear that a 14-year-old boy got his heart. He would have really liked that,” Moore said.

Alexander “AJ” Betts was taken off life support over a year ago after an attempted suicide caused irreversible damage that he’d never survive. The suicide came after classmates called him out for being gay and bullied him. At the time, AJ was the fifth student from Southeast Polk High School to commit suicide within five years.

“We had no indication that anything was wrong. He is the happiest kid I’ve ever met. Everybody who meets him says that,” said Moore.

Trevor Burgess just became the first openly gay CEO of a publicly traded bank in the United States. While recent trends in America have progressed toward more LGBTQ-friendly companies, there still isn’t an openly gay CEO at any of the top 1,000 firms in the United States.

Trevor Burgess is the first openly gay CEO of a publicly traded bank in the US

Trevor Burgess is the first openly gay CEO of a publicly traded bank in the US

However, Burgess made history when he became the CEO of C1 Financial. The company is a regional bank with 29 locations in Florida. Burgess’s husband, Gary Hess, owns shares in the company as well.

“It’s only a matter of time before openly gay people, people like me who have been authentic their entire adult lives, rise through the ranks to the C-suite,” Burgess said. “We have great examples in basketball, soccer, football and many other walks of life and now the [New York Stock Exchange]!”

While there might not another openly gay CEO, there are plenty of people who represent the LGBTQ communities in large roles within major companies and institutions. For example, Antoino Simoes is the deputy chief executive of HSBC UK, a prominent banking company, Claudia Brind-Woody is the Vice President of IBM, and Ken Mehlman has an active leadership role at KKR, a global private equity firm. These are only just a handful of openly gay men and women holding top leadership positions at large companies. As Burgess notes, there are many other openly LGBT individuals in other industries such as professional athletics and entertainment.

Many took to social media to congratulate Burgess about his new role as CEO. Irene Dorner, President and CEO of HSBC stated, “Leaders who feel comfortable being open about their sexual orientation are more productive and engaged, which directly impacts the success of their organizations…HSBC offers sincere congratulations to Trevor on leading the way with this IPO, and our best wishes for continued success.”

Campus Pride released an index this week to base colleges off of when looking at safety and academic life for LGBT students at schools across the country. This is the sixth year the index has served as a national benchmark for how LGBT-friendly individual higher education institutions are—and an indicator of progress being made.

“For six years in a row, Campus Pride has seen an increase in the number of campuses coming out as LGBT-friendly and making notable improvements to LGBT academic life, so we decided to honor 50 campuses with our national distinction,” Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride, said in a statement. “Today the Campus Pride Index has over 425 campuses featured online and for the first time ever we have 56 campuses who achieved the highest five stars overall rating, the largest number to date.”

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Top 50 LGBT Friendly Colleges

Usually the site only releases 25 of the top colleges, but this year their list had 50 schools, a happy indicator that educational institutions are on the up-and-up when it comes to being LGBT-friendly. The Campus Pride tool is free to use and can be found at CampusPrideIndex.org.

Windmeyer also said there is a lot to be learned from these top 50+ schools, which are working to specifically address the recruitment and retention of LGBT students as well as safety for transgender students, which has notoriously been a target for high levels of discrimination throughout history.

Some of the featured schools included Brown University in Rhode Island, Cornell University in New York, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, the University of Washington in Washington, and Harvard University in Massachusetts.

Want to find out how LGBT-friendly your campus is? Check out Campus Pride’s online index to see where it stands in the rankings.

International human rights communities around the world are celebrating the latest ruling by the Ugandan constitutional court that struck down a recently passed law that imposed lengthy jail sentences for both “attempted homosexuality” and “promotion of homosexuality.” The head of the United Nations called the decision a “step forward” and Amnesty International named the ruling a “significant victory.”

The original law was introduced earlier this year in Uganda and had been condemned by many world leaders, including President Obama, who called it “odious.” The law, which went into effect in February after being signed by President Yoweri Museveni, increased the punishment for homosexuality and made acts of “aggravated homosexuality” punishable with a life sentence in prison. Two men are still currently awaiting trial under these laws.

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The court struck down the archaic law because on procedural grounds, it was invalid with no quorum in Parliament when the legislation was passed on December 20th. Since the vote last year, there has been a 20-fold increase in incidents of anti-LGBT harassment, according to a study by Sexual Minorities Uganda.

“Many people are going to retaliate and attack community members,” said Kasha Jacqueline of the organization Freedom and Roam Uganda, another of the petitioners. “People are going to retaliate — not just the members of Parliament and anti-gay groups and religious leaders, but in the community as well.”

One present concern is that the ruling still leaves Ugandan politicians room to reintroduce the law or similar legislation if they have a full quorum present to pass it. “We now hope that this step forward translates into real improvements in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people in Uganda, who have been trapped in a vicious circle of discrimination, threats, abuse and injustice for too long,” said Amnesty International.

Despite how the law was struck down on something of a legal technicality, it appears that the presence of a deeply homophobic community in Uganda remains, proving that the fight for social equality is far from over there.

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