Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.01.18
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org/
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to firstname.lastname@example.org
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1. New University (UC-Irvine) - Opinion: An End to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy
2. The Daily (University of Washington) - Dear Obama: Members of the LGBTQ community march to send a message
3. Ithaca College Office of Media Relations (Ithaca, NY) - Ithaca College To Screen Film On Church Outreach To Gay Community
4. Daily Record (Parsippany, NJ) - Mother of gay hate crime victim to speak at Drew
5. The Telegraph (London) - Transgender lavatories trialled at a university union
6. The Daily Beacon (University of Tennessee) - LGBT forum hopes to promote understanding, provide 'civil discourse'
7. UC Davis News & Information (Davis, CA) - Family law professors file Prop. 8 amicus brief
8. The Record (Stockton, CA) - UOP gay alumni club to host 1st event
9. Belleville News Democrat (Belleville, IL) - Safe Zone program resumes at SIUE
1. New University, January 12, 2009
UC-Irvine, 3100 Gateway Commons, Irvine, CA 92697-4250
An End to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy
By Editorial Board
The United States military is an honorable institution with a long tradition of pride, honor and distinction. However, within the walls of this institution lies a darker legacy, one dealing with the unfair treatment of its gay and lesbian soldiers. Its current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy forces many soldiers to hide their sexual orientation, or face being ejected from serving their country. While promoted as a "compromise," this policy has seen the dismissal of nearly 13,000 soldiers for acknowledging – or outing – their homosexuality. High-ranking military officials fear that giving gays equal rights within the military would have disastrous results.
Unfortunately, there is little logic behind this reasoning. As it stands, the U.S. remains one of the few liberal democracies that do not allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military. For instance, American allies like Great Britain and Israel allow soldiers to serve openly, without incident. The irrational fear of homosexuals that is evident in the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy only manages to strip away highly qualified individuals from a military already stretched to its limit.
Like other minority groups before them, homosexuals face a backlash from a conservative institution that resists changes in the status quo.But if history is any indication, there is no reason to believe that gay soldiers would be any less fit to serve in our military. The Tuskegee airmen were an all-black fighter squadron in World War II that not only saw the first black pilots, but also established one of the greatest escort records within the Air Force. The 442 infantry regiment consisted mostly of Japanese Americans whose families had been placed in internment camps. At a time when anti-Japanese sentiment ran wild, the 442 not only served bravely in the European theater, but also became the most decorated military unit in the armed forces. There is an ironic history here, as minority groups have not only managed to ignore the prejudice they faced to fight for their country, but have done so with such fervor and dedication that they stand among the most honored in our country's history.
With the election of Barack Obama as our next president, there is a rush of excitement that progress will be made through the elimination of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy so that gays will be given the full rights they deserve. From his campaign Web site, the President-elect boldly declares, "The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty and a willingness to serve." While Obama inherits many pressing issues to deal with, his stance that military action should continue in Afghanistan will most likely force his hand on the issue, and depending on the time frame for how he acts, may prove to be a real test to see if his talk of "change" is real or just more political rhetoric.
It seems foolish that the military would be so hesitant to afford gay Americans the simple right to state their sexual preference. Doesn't the Constitution state that all men are created equal, and they have the right to the pursuit of happiness? And it is that very same Constitution that those in the military, both heterosexual and homosexual, have volunteered to risk their life to protect. The difficult part to believe is that even with all the inequality and fear-mongering that military officials espouse, there are still those gay and lesbian individuals who risk it all simply for the defense of their country. And in this instance, it is a choice they make; there is no draft plucking them from the populace to prop up America's military engagements across the globe. These people willingly risk their lives and decide to become defenders of liberty and freedom. While many soldiers don't get the chance to test their bravery until they step onto the battlefield, any gay American willing to enlist while knowing that it will be immeasurably more difficult for them from the very beginning proves that they may know more about the meaning of bravery than the rest of us.
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2. The Daily (University of Washington), January 12, 2009
144 Communications Bldg., University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
Dear Obama: Members of the LGBTQ community march to send a message
By Erinn Unger
It was only a few months ago that thousands of people celebrated President-elect Barack Obama's election night victory at Broadway and East Pine Street on Capitol Hill. This past Saturday, members and allies of Seattle's gay community rallied there again, asking Obama to keep his campaign promises.
The rally and march were organized by Join the Impact, a group dedicated to full equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, and The Queer Ally Coalition, an organization that promotes grassroots organizing around LGBTQ issues, in response to an open letter from President-elect Obama.
The small group gathered at Seattle Central Community College, listened to speakers in the drizzle and then marched downtown to Westlake, chanting, "Yes, we can!" as cars were stopped by the police escort and a few passersby waved.
The letter, which was released by Obama's campaign in 2007, promises that, if elected, Obama would address the HIV/AIDS epidemic, repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and pass the Matthew Shepard Act. He also promises to work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The issue of DOMA was at the forefront of Join the Impact's effort. Joe Mirabella, an organizer of the Seattle chapter of Join the Impact, has been with his partner for five years come February.
"We could go to Massachusetts or Connecticut and get married," he wrote in an e-mail. "But still our marriage would not be recognized in Washington."
DOMA leaves it up to the individual states to decide whether same-sex couples can marry. Therefore, same-sex marriages recognized in one state may not be recognized in another, unlike marriages between a man and a woman.
The second half of the act defines marriage for use in federal law as a union solely between a man and a woman. The 1996 legislation was passed by Congress and approved by President Clinton.
Obama is open to dialogue between the supporters of gay marriage and its opposition, said Andrew Caldwell, who marched on Saturday holding an enormous poster of Obama above his head.
"He's saying, 'I'm with you on the issue, I'm listening,'" Caldwell said. "He's saying that about all the issues. I understand that. I'm very optimistic ... I still have hope."
Wen Liu is a UW senior and member of Queer People of Color Alliance (QPOCA) and ChiQ, a group in the Q Center for those who want to explore GLBTQ identities with other Chinese speakers and outside of the Western context. She was not aware of Join the Impact's march and thinks the focus of the future gay rights movement should not be on achieving gay marriage.
"Marriage is only a white middle class concern," she wrote in an e-mail. "And we should focus more on getting basic rights for all people such as universal health care, without getting [those rights] through the institution of marriage."
Join the Impact wrote a letter in response to Obama's, and the group's goal is to gather one million signatures through this rally and others happening nationwide.
"We are not worried that Obama will back down on his promises," Mirabella wrote. "We do not operate from a place of fear. We know that Obama needs a sign of support from us that he can take to Congress."
Members of the group are delivering the letter to Obama after his inauguration, said Amy Balliett, a founder of Join the Impact.
"The goal was to maintain visibility and get as many signatures as possible," she said. "We've got 10 people in the U-District getting signatures."
The group is not using an online petition. Instead, signatures are being recorded on paper.
"The stack will be 50,000 sheets high, at least," Mirabella wrote. "We assume we will receive some sheets that are not completely filled out, so it is likely to be an impressive visual impact."
Reach reporter Erinn Unger at firstname.lastname@example.org .
3. Ithaca College Office of Media Relations, January 13, 2009
Ithaca College, 219 Alumni Hall, Ithaca, NY 14850-7044
Ithaca College To Screen Film On Church Outreach To Gay Community
Contact: Dave Maley
ITHACA, NY —The Out of the Closet and Onto the Screen film series at Ithaca College will offer a screening of "Call Me Troy," a documentary about the founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches, on Thursday, January 22. The 7:00 p.m. showing in Textor 102 is free and open to the public.
This past year marked the 40th anniversary of the Metropolitan Community Churches, founded in 1968 by the Reverend Troy Perry as the world's first church group with a primary, positive ministry to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons. From the first gathering of 12 people in Perry's living room in Huntington Park, California, the movement today has grown to 43,000 members, comprising almost 300 congregations in 22 countries.
The first openly gay person to serve on the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, Perry performed the first public same-sex wedding in the U.S. The film chronicles his quest to provide a place for all people — gay and straight — to worship side by side, as well as his four decades of public service, activism and advocacy.
Sponsored by the Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Education, Outreach, and Services, the Out of the Closet and Onto the Screen series will present nine screenings this spring focusing on the topic of "Intersections of Sexuality and Faith in Film." For more information, visit www.ithaca.edu/lgbt.
Contact: Dave Maley
Office: (607) 274-1440
4. Daily Record, January 13, 2009
800 Jefferson Road, Parsippany, NJ 07054
Mother of gay hate crime victim to speak at Drew
MADISON — On March 4, at 7 p.m., Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard's mother, will speak at Drew University's Dorothy Young Center for the Arts Concert Hall about her ongoing fight for equality and safety for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and queer (GLBTQ) community. The public is welcome to attend.
Shepard's talk, titled "The Legacy of Matthew Shepard," will focus on her efforts to make schools and communities safe for GLBTQ individuals. Also speaking at the event will be Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality, New Jersey's largest GLBTQ advocacy organization.
Matthew Shepard was killed in 1998, when two men led him to a remote area east of Laramie, Wyoming, where they beat him and left him to die tied him to a split-rail fence.
Shepard's appearance at Drew is sponsored by The Drew University Alliance, a student-run organization.
5. The Telegraph, January 14, 2009
111 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0DT
Transgender lavatories trialled at a university union
The block is being trialled at Staffordshire University union's nightclub, and could be rolled out across the campus.
They are believed to be among the first dedicated transgender lavatories in Britain.
Members of the student union council voted in December to try them out and they were introduced for the first time a week ago.
Union President Fee Wood said: "We are trying to make things as easy as possible for all our students.
"We do have transgender students here, but the new facilities are not just for them – they are for the androgynous students as well.
"The decision whether to keep them or roll them out to all our venues will be taken in March time.
"We are also considering lobbying the University for them as well."
The "gender-neutral" lavatories are in the union on Leek Road, in Stoke, and are set apart.
Last year Manchester University renamed their men and women's lavatories to avoid offending its transgender students.
The men's were labelled "toilets with urinals", while the ladies were simply called "toilets".
6. The Daily Beacon, January 13, 2009
5 Communications Building, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-0314
LGBT forum hopes to promote understanding, provide 'civil discourse'
By Olivia Smithscott
Hodges Library Auditorium will host the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender forum on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Plans for further unity and better understanding are among the topics.
The program is a joint effort of both Lambda Student Union and the UT Commission for LGBT People.
Amy Davidson, a second-year graduate student in social work and president of Lambda Student Union, said a combination of things sparked interest in this sort of event.
"There's been talk of doing a forum like this for several months now, spawning off of different political conversations," Davidson said. "A lot of it did spawn off of the recent election of Barack Obama. I think that will be a big topic of discussion is how things will change for this community in particular."
"With the election of Obama and at the same time the passage in California of Proposition 8, these issues are even more on the front page and at the forefront of people's minds," said Donna Braquet, communications co-chair of the UT Commission for LGBT People. "We just wanted to keep that momentum going."
Braquet also expressed hope that a new administration would mean more civil discourse between individuals.
"In the past, these issues have been deemed as controversial or taboo," Braquet said. "In the past, the climate of the nation has given a negative stigma to LGBT issues. We're all hoping that, with the new administration, LGBT issues and all minority issues, issues that have sort of been pushed aside, will be given a new look."
A similar forum was held last semester in which students, faculty and staff participated in a panel discussing what it's like to be gay on campus.
"We had close to 100 people show up, and that forum lasted close to two hours," Braquet said. "We learned that there was a need on campus. People had a wide range of opinions and thoughts, and there was a real desire to learn more about LGBT issues."
Braquet said the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which illegalized the marriage of same-sex couples in that state, will be one of the biggest issues the forum will look at. Other issues up for discussion will be Proposition two passed in Florida, the equivalent of Proposition 8 for that state, as well as an Arkansas ban on adoption by same-sex couples.
"What happens nationally affects gay people here," Braquet said. "Some of the main topics we are going to cover are how the Obama administration will advance equality, what federal laws might be passed, and that will come down to a local level."
"Another thing we want to discuss is the recession and how that's affecting LGBT people," she said. "Is it more of a hardship for gay couples because there are no benefits for gay partners?" Those issues are on the agenda as well, she said.
Braquet encouraged students to come out to the forum and experience the diverse opinions of the discussion.
"Despite how you might feel, I think taking that step to come out and learn about people who might have different ideas than you is a step towards making that change and everyone having unity and civil discourse," she said.
7. UC Davis News & Information, January 16, 2009
Third floor Mrak Hall, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616
Family law professors file Prop. 8 amicus brief
Contact: Courtney Joslin, School of Law, (415) 902-7981, email@example.com
Contact: Claudia Morain, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9841, firstname.lastname@example.org
Even if the California Supreme Court upholds California's ban on gay marriage, same-sex couples who tied the knot before November 2008 will remain legally married, family law scholars argue in a friend-of-the-court brief submitted yesterday (Jan. 15). The brief was signed by 28 family law professors from 15 California law schools.
The scholars make clear in their brief that they believe Proposition 8 should be overturned. But they focus their arguments on just one question facing the court: If Proposition 8 is allowed to stand, what will happen to sex-same couples who exchanged vows before the measure was passed?
"Our amicus brief argues that the only possible answer to this question is that Proposition 8 has no effect on these marriages," said Courtney Joslin, professor of law at UC Davis.
Joslin and Michael Wald of Stanford Law School submitted the brief on behalf of family law specialists from 13 other law schools statewide:
UC Berkeley, UC Hastings, UCLA, University of Southern California, Loyola Law School Los Angeles, California Western School of Law, Santa Clara University, Loyola Marymount University, University of San Francisco, Whittier Law School, McGeorge School of Law, Pepperdine University and Golden Gate University.
Many of the professors have played major roles in drafting California family law legislation and have weighed in as friends of the court in other significant family law, adoption and parentage cases decided by the state Supreme Court.
Thursday was the deadline to file amicus briefs in the litigation seeking to overturn Proposition 8, which passed in November with 52 percent of the vote.
8. The Record, January 16, 2009
P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201
UOP gay alumni club to host 1st event
By Jennifer Torres
STOCKTON - The first members of a newly formed alumni club focused on University of the Pacific's gay and lesbian graduates say they hope to provide resources to students and to help create a more supportive campus environment.
The Pride Pacific Alumni Club will host its first event, the Lavender Reception, on Jan. 24 at Pacific's DeRosa Center. Another reception is planned for alumni weekend in June.
Traditionally, college alumni clubs have been built around geography and have helped members develop their own career and social opportunities.
Pride Pacific, like the university's Latino and black alumni clubs, is forming around a shared experience and, members said, aims to help students who are on campus now.
"Really, I think our primary focus right now is to assist current students," said Heather Dooley, a chairwoman for the club. She graduated in 2004 after studying English and gender studies and works in Seattle. "For so many students, there isn't a lot of connection to people who are already out in the professional community. ... What's it going to be like in work place in general, and as a gay or lesbian person? How out can I be at work?"
Corrie Martin oversees clubs and regional programs for the Pacific Alumni Association, with which Pride Pacific is affiliated.
There have been discussions for several years about forming a gay and lesbian alumni club, she said. Then, in February, Pacific hosted its first conference on gay and lesbian issues called "It takes a rainbow: Bridging the mountains to the bay."
"That was a huge thing for Pacific," Martin said. "We said, 'This is going to be really visible, really public and get people from off campus to come.' "
Afterward, there was momentum behind the alumni club, she said. "I really do think this club can have a tangible and immediate impact on the current campus climate and on the future."
Robert Oakes, who is on Pride Pacific's steering committee, studied business and works in Sacramento.
"I graduated from Pacific in 1986, and coming out in that environment, when there wasn't a lot of support, was very frightening," he said. "I almost failed out, and I contemplated suicide."
Administrators were supportive when he asked for help, Oakes said. But "a lot of people won't reach out. There was a lot of homophobia on campus. You knew that it wasn't OK for you to tell people. If you add the presence of a student club, it sends the message that it's a safe and welcoming place for everybody."
By the time Dooley was an undergrad about 20 years later, the environment had changed, she said. With support from students and university officials, she helped found Pacific's Pride Resource Center.
"I was fortunate to be there when things were starting to get much more open and accepting," she said.
Both Dooley and Oakes said they hope the new alumni club will help that shift continue.
"I want to be able to send a message to lesbian and gay alumni that there's a place for them," Oakes said. "Just our presence and our visibility at alumni events says, 'We're there. We've always been there. We contribute, and we care and love this place ... just like the rest of you. We're not invisible.' "
Contact reporter Jennifer Torres at (209) 546-8252 or email@example.com .
9. Belleville News Democrat, January 15, 2009
120 S Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62220-2130
Safe Zone program resumes at SIUE
By Elizabeth Donald
EDWARDSVILLE -- The Safe Zones are returning to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Safe Zone was launched at SIUE several years ago as a voluntary training program for faculty and staff in issues relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Once trained, the employee would put a Safe Zone sign on his or her door, indicating to the students that they could talk freely with this person.
"It's a concept principally on college campuses to make campuses safe for LGBT students, but also for the faculty and staff," said Lenore Horner, physics professor and the new co-chair of Safe Zone. "It's so there are places on campus where students can be themselves and ask questions about what this means for their careers. This is the time when some students may realize they don't fit the mold."
Safe Zone went dormant a few years ago and has been inactive for several semesters. This was due primarily to organizational issues, not to any resistance from the university, Horner said.
"We've always had great support from the administration," she said.
But now Safe Zone is relaunching in partnership with the SIUE Gay-Straight Alliance, and it's doing more than before.
In addition to training faculty and staff, Horner and co-chairman Kevin Cannon are training resident advisers in the dorms, which Horner described as a high-priority area.
"Dorm life is one of the places where students may have confrontations with each other and where hostility can show up," Horner said. "RAs can find out how to handle issues that may arise."
Cannon said if a problem is developing, it's statistically more likely in the area of student housing. "And they'll go to the RAs first," he said.
In addition, there will be a series of brown-bag lunches and guest speakers on topics such as LGBT discrimination and strategies while job hunting, Horner said. Safe Zone is coordinating with programs for Women's History Month and with the GSA on National Coming Out Day.
Cannon, who has been with Safe Zone since the beginning, called Horner "the real driving force" behind the group's relaunch. It's needed, he said, so that students have somewhere to go where they know they won't face condemnation or ridicule. "There have been a few issues over the years that we've been able to help out with, and we've trained more than 100 faculty and staff," Canon said.
There was no "trigger incident" to create the need for Safe Zone, Horner said. But some students speak of "discomfort" in certain situations, not to the point of violating school rules.
"Universities are certainly more welcoming than other aspects of society, but there's still ignorance," Cannon said. "We're helping to provide a safe environment."
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org .