Dear Family Research Council,
We’re talking about electing champions like Senator Susan Collins, Representative Richard Hanna and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Congress, and on the state level, leaders like NY State Senators Jim Alesi, Mark Grisanti, Roy McDonald and Steve Saland.
Log Cabin Republicans look forward to supporting candidates who believe in the conservative principles of fiscal responsibility, a confident foreign policy, and individual liberty – core values that unite us as a party and as Americans.
Thank you for highlighting our Executive Director’s new role as part of the team at the RNC. We’re proud of him, and proud to play our part in ensuring victory in 2012 by supporting Log Cabin Republicans PAC.
Earlier today, the Republican National Committee announced it had appointed R. Clarke Cooper -- executive director of the gay Log Cabin Republicans -- to the GOP Finance Committee.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2011
Republican National Committee Taps Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director for Finance Committee
(Washington, DC) – The Republican National Committee, the central arm of the Republican Party, named Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper to its Finance Committee, where he will be playing a critical role in raising funds for the party’s efforts to elect Republicans to the White House and across the country. ...
For those who don’t know, this is the organization that the RNC now wishes to share a bed with:
- The Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) were the lead organization in a law suit (Log Cabin Republicans vs. the United States of America) that sought to strike down the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s prohibition of those who openly engage in homosexuality from serving in the military. The group professes allegiance to the GOP but committed to using judicial activism to advance their radical social policies even at the risk of undermining the U.S. military and as a result, national security
This is not the first time the LCR have opposed the ideals found in the Republican Party platform and attacked the principles still held among a majority of Republican voters.
Ultimately, FRC suggests conservative donors give money directly to the group or other conservative PACs, rather than to the Republican Party. Click here to read the complete FRC posting.
From Thomas Barker and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
4th Annual SummerFest Arrives July 22 to 24
Miami Beach’s only gay weekend event of the summer returns!
(Miami Beach, FLA) - From Friday, July 22, to Sunday, July 24, 2011 the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force -- producers of Miami’s largest LGBT weekend event, Winter Party Festival -- and Pink Dollar Enterprises will partner to create a fantastic weekend of stiff cocktails, over-the-top entertainment, and sexy fashions during the 4th Annual SummerFest Weekend.
For decades almost every major destination city in the country has hosted some sort of gay weekend celebration during the summer --with the notable exception of Miami Beach. Luckily that all changed four years ago with the arrival of SummerFest. Last year, over 1,000 people participated in the weekend’s festivities, imbibing on complimentary cocktails, moving to the beats of international DJs, and enjoying incredible shows by world-renowned entertainers – all while supporting the largest LGBT rights organization in the country, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
The Task Force will work with some of Miami Beach’s greatest venues to create the hottest event of the summer. The heart and soul of the 4th Annual SummerFest Weekend, the SummerFest Pool Party, has kicked things up a few notches by moving to the opulent pools of the Shore Club Hotel in South Beach. Guests will get the chance to dance poolside to the beats of DJs Miik and Charlie Rojas, while VIP guests will enjoy exclusive access to the private pool at the Shore Club Hotel Beach House. SummerFest Pool Party tickets are currently on sale: $25 in advance for general admission and $45 for VIP. Each ticket includes two free cocktails with general admission receiving two free Chambord Vodka Cocktails and VIP having the option to enjoy both Chambord Vodka and Herradura Tequila cocktails.
The Shore Club will also host a Summer Sunset, a VIP cocktail reception on Friday, July 22, in its spectacular Penthouse, where guests will enjoy an open bar and tasty appetizers while experiencing one of the most amazing views in South Beach.
Other SummerFest events include Summer Storm, a Saturday night dance party at Score featuring Brazilian DJ Rafael Calvente; SummerFest Brunch on Sunday at the Lords South Beach; and Summer Fling Tea Dance at the Palace on Sunday afternoon.
Visit www.SummerFestmiami.com for details and to purchase tickets. Local ticket outlets include The Palace (1200 Ocean Drive), Miami Beach Gay Visitor’s Center (1130 Washington Ave.), and Score Nightclub (727 Lincoln Road).
The Shore Club offers SummerFest guests a special rate of $195 per night. Reservations can be made by calling 1.800.606.6090 and referencing “SummerFest 2011.”
SummerFest’s proceeds will benefit the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. For more information, call 786.216.7513.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Summer Sunset Cocktail Reception
Penthouse of the Shore Club Hotel
1901 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Experience one of the most exclusive hotel suites in South Beach, The Penthouse of the Shore Club Hotel. Royalty, celebrities, and the social elite continue to enjoy this opulent, three-story penthouse suite that features its own private pool, sun bathing deck, and an unobstructed view of the pearly sands of South Beach! Enjoy complimentary cocktails, paired with delicious hors d’oeuvres courtesy of The Shore Club Hotel.
Admission: $40 in advance/$50 at the door
Saturday, July 23, 2011
SummerFest Pool Party
The Shore Club Hotel
1901 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
DJs Charlie Rojas and Miik
Summer heat, sizzling bodies, free cocktails, and the gorgeous pools of the Shore Club Hotel combine to create the hottest pool party of the summer!
Hundreds of sexy partygoers will get the chance to dance poolside, as DJs Charlie Rojas and Miik work the turntables till sunset – all while enjoying two free Chambord Vodka and Herradura Tequila cocktails.
This year, the producers of SummerFest are providing revelers with the opportunity to enjoy a total VIP package, complete with access to the private Shore Club Hotel Beach House and exclusive pool, cocktails, and the SummerFest '11 CD, compliments of DJ Charlie Rojas.
General Admission: $25 in advance/$35 at the door
VIP Admission: $45 in advance/$55 at the door
727 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
DJ Rafael Calvente
Summer heat, hot boys, and fabulous entertainment make SummerFest’s late night dance event, Summer Storm, one of the hottest parties of the summer. The clouds will roll in with DJ Rafael Calvente pumping out some thunderous tracks. As one of the hottest DJs in Brazil, Rafael is set to spin Summer Storm revelers into whirlwind of high-energy tracks! Revelers will receive one free complimentary cocktail between 10 p.m. and midnight with the purchase of a ticket.
Admission: $10 in advance/$15 at the door
Sunday, July 24, 2011
The Lords South Beach
1100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
After a whole weekend of non-stop partying, there’s nothing better to help get you to the next event than a fabulous meal, champagne, and, of course, cocktails! This year, we will be hosting the SummerFest Brunch at the only gay hotel in Miami, The Lords South Beach. Expect delicious fare, fabulous entertainment, and great people!
Brunch: $25 per person
Summer Fling T-Dance and Ascension Kick-off Party
1200 Ocean Drive,Miami Beach
4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
DJ George Figares
After a weekend of SummerFest soirees, it’s time for a little Summer Time T, as Palace hosts the closing event for SummerFest ’11. Indulge in some stiff cocktails, while checking out some of SoBe’s sexiest beach goers as they move to the beats of DJ George Figares.
News release from Stop The Deportations:
Statement by Lavi Soloway, attorney for Henry Velandia and Josh Vandiver, and founder of Stop The Deportations – The DOMA Project:
“This historic decision by the government to close deportation proceedings against Henry Velandia allows him to stay in the United States with his American husband, Josh Vandiver, without the fear that they will be torn apart. This unprecedented move will save Josh and Henry’s marriage and end the threat of deportation, while Josh continues to fight for his right to sponsor Henry for a green card based on their marriage and the fate of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is resolved by Congress or the Supreme Court.
“For the first time the Department of Homeland Security has demonstrated that when it comes to the spouses of lesbian and gay Americans the government does indeed have the discretion necessary to evaluate the merits of each case and, where appropriate, to decline to pursue deportation. Importantly, it is proof that we can bring about positive change by telling our stories, and thereby educating the general public, elected officials and executive branch agencies about the cruel impact of DOMA on the lives of married binational lesbian and gay couples. This decision will lay the foundation for administrative closure of other deportation cases involving gay and lesbian couples. Stop The Deportations – DOMA Project campaign will continue to fight for every binational couple facing deportation. Even so, we will also continue to urge the Obama administration to institute an immediate moratorium on all deportations of spouses of lesbian and gay Americans. In the end, we must defeat DOMA so that all married couples are equal under federal law.”
On June 29 Henry Velandia and Josh Vandiver received the news that the Newark Immigration Court had granted a Motion by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Chief Counsel, Jane Minichiello, to administratively close deportation proceedings that had been first initiated in 2009.
The decision had been set in motion on June 9 when the ICE Chief Counsel reconsidered a request that had been originally filed by the couple’s lawyer, Lavi Soloway, in advance of a May 6 deportation hearing. In that request, Soloway urged the government to exercise prosecutorial discretion in Mr. Velandia’s case citing on his marriage to an American citizen; the impossibility and danger, as a gay binational couple, of relocating to Venezuela; the changing landscape of DOMA including the President’s decision to cease defending the law because he determined that it was unconstitutional; Mr. Velandia’s good moral character; and his strong ties to his Princeton, New Jersey community. Although the government rejected this request at the time, the Immigration Judge post-poned the hearing on May 6 until December, giving Mr. Velandia and Mr. Vandiver a 7 month reprieve from deportation.
In a brief telephone call three weeks ago, ICE Chief Counsel notified Mr. Soloway that the government had a change of heart. ICE had decided to grant Soloway’s request for Administrative Closure because “the case was not an enforcement priority at this time.” ICE Chief Counsel notified Immigration Judge Alberto Riefkohl who granted the government’s Motion to Administratively Close proceedings on June 13. The decision was received on June 29.
What does this mean?
For the first time ever, ICE has decided that it would no longer pursue the deportation of a spouse of a gay American citizen. It has done so in the midst of active deportation proceedings, responding to months of relentless, high profile advocacy that successfully argued that this loving, married couple should not be forced apart only because of DOMA. As a result, the case has been closed and Henry Velandia’s deportation proceedings have been removed from the court’s calendar. While the move does not grant Henry any lawful status, it does mean that the threat of deportation has been removed. This historic move caps a nearly year-long battle waged by Josh and Henry as part of the Stop The Deportations campaign.
Henry Velandia, 27, is a professional salsa dancer and dance teacher from Venezuela, and Joshua Vandiver is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Theory at Princeton University, originally from Colorado. The couple has been together for five years, and after the couple married last year in Connecticut, Josh filed a marriage-based green card petition for Henry. The petition was denied in January solely because of the Defense of Marriage Act. After the announcement by the White House that the administration would no longer defend DOMA in court because it believed the statute to be unconstitutional, Josh filed a second marriage-based green card petition for Henry. That petition is still pending with USCIS.
For the past year they have lead a high profile campaign leading the Stop The Deporations-DOMA Project efforts to stop the Henry’s deportation which would tear them apart, destroy their marriage and lead to Henry being barred from the United States for 10 years.
If Henry and Josh were an opposite-sex couple, there would be a clear path to resolve to this very predicament. Even in deportation proceedings, an American citizen can sponsor his or her foreign spouse for a “green card.” However, because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government cannot recognize Henry and Josh’s same-sex marriage for immigration purposes. Consequently, Henry Velandia is denied access to the typical marriage-based green card process.
After months of advocacy, on May 6 Newark Immigration Judge Alberto Riefkohl adjourned Henry’s deportation case citing the couple’s marriage, the pending marriage-based petition that Josh filed for Henry, and considering recent legal developments involving DOMA a related deportation case.
Just a month later, on June 9, Newark’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Chief Counsel, Jane Minichiello, contacted Lavi Soloway, Henry and Josh’s lawyer, and founder of the Stop The Deportations- DOMA Project. ICE Chief Counsel informed Mr. Soloway that ICE had re-considered its position and had decided to seek Administrative Closure of the case against Henry by filing a Motion with the Immigration Judge. The Immigration Judge tentatively set a hearing date for July 6 to consider the Motion, but the process moved more swiftly than expected. ICE Chief Counsel filed the Motion on June 10 and the Immigration Judge granted it on June 13. The couple received the decision by mail on June 29. It read:
"A Motion to close the proceedings administratively has been filed in the above entitled matter. Upon due consideration, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion be granted. Joint Motion is made part of this order by reference. Parties are advised."
Tens of thousands of binational same-sex couples will celebrate this historic victory with Josh and Henry. It is the first concrete step taken by the administration to prevent a married gay couple from being torn apart by a “DOMA deportation.” Lesbian and gay binational couples who are fighting to stay together in this country; couples who are separated by cruel, discriminatory laws; and couples who have been forced into exile—can all rejoice at this milestone. It is one more step in a long battle toward full equality.
STOP THE DEPORTATIONS – THE DOMA PROJECT is a campaign which was co-founded by the couple’s attorney, Lavi Soloway in July 2010 along with his law partner, Noemi Masliah. For nearly two decades, Soloway has been the most prominent attorney and advocate on LGBT immigration law and policy in the United States. He has worked exclusively in this field since co-founding the non-profit organization, Immigration Equality, in 1993.
More information on the Stop The Deportations - DOMA Project can be found at www.stopthedeportations.com.
By MARTHA WAGGONER, Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. -- A Bible-waving preacher protesting at a gay pride event in North Carolina turned the other cheek - and got kissed on it by a 74-year-old female gay rights supporter who is now charged with simple assault.
Joan Parker admits she kissed a preacher on the cheek at the event, proclaimed by the Salisbury mayor as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Day.
"He was just waving his arms and has a Bible in one hand, up and down, and screaming at the top of his lungs, 'sodomites' and 'you're going to hell,'" Parker said in a phone interview. "I thought he needed a hug. So I gave him a hug."
At some point, Parker said, the preacher turned to yell to a man with a camera to take a picture of her. Also at some point, she kissed him. On the cheek, she says, not on the mouth.
"He claims I kissed him on the lips, and he's a damned liar," said Parker, who is from Colfax and said he was at the event with her husband to show support. "I believe I did kiss him on his cheek."
The preacher, James Edward Belcher of Taylorsville, says he never claimed Parker kissed him on the lips, but that's only because he turned his face as she came toward him.
"If I hadn't turned my head, I'd have gotten it right on my mouth," said Belcher, 49, minister at New Light Baptist Church No. 2 in Millers Creek.
He described the encounter this way: "She ran her arms all the way around me and pulled me toward her." As he held his Bible in one hand, he stuck both arms in the air and turned toward a police officer standing nearby who witnessed the exchange, he said.
Belcher contends the kiss "was just one of many attempts to silence the preaching to those in need of salvation who practice a death style that they call a lifestyle."
Police estimate that about 2,000 gay rights activists attended the event Saturday, along with 200 protesters. Belcher was among several people who showed up to preach and protest, even though they didn't have a permit. Police let them stay, with some rules, so officers didn't have to spend all of their time issuing citations.
Rory Collins, police chief in the town located about 45 miles northeast of Charlotte, said Belcher wanted to press charges, which he hadn't expected. Belcher contends police would have charged him if he had touched a 74-year-old woman and that he didn't personally pursue charges.
And it doesn't matter if Parker was aiming for Belcher's mouth or cheek, Collins said.
"She might disagree with this, but it wasn't done as a show of affection," he said. "It was an unwanted touching."
Parker is due back in court Sept. 12. Simple assault is a misdemeanor and could bring a sentence of up to 30 days of community service for a first-time offender.
News release from NLGJA, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association:
Washington, D.C. - Today the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association announces the recipients of its Excellence in Journalism Awards.
The recipient of this year's Journalist of the Year is LZ Granderson of ESPN and CNN. The recipient of this year's Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media goes to freelance journalist Michael Luongo.
NLGJA's Excellence in Journalism Awards were established in 1993 to foster, recognize and reward excellence in journalism on issues related to the LGBT community. In addition to Journalist of the Year and the Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media, awards will be presented for excellence in news writing, feature writing, opinion writing, network television, radio, online, photojournalism, HIV/AIDS and student journalism.
The 2011 Journalist of the Year is LZ Granderson of ESPN and CNN. Granderson’s work—whether about sports, race, gender, sexual orientation, or a combination of them all—succeeds at being topical and profound, often spurring water cooler (and social media) conversation. His willingness to talk about the intersection of race and sexual orientation makes him a unique voice in the national conversation.
This year’s Sarah Petit LGBT Journalist of the Year Award goes to freelance writer Michael Luongo. His collective work for publications including The Advocate, Gay City News, Out and the Gay and Lesbian Review focused primarily on gay life in the Middle East. While Luongo’s work is broadly viewed as travel writing, his portraits of the gay Middle East defy boundaries and provide readers with a glimpse of gay life in a region few LGBT people visit.
"With a huge increase in entries, the 2011 awards show the depth of quality journalism reporting on LGBT issues and lives. From legacy media—like Jeff Sharlet's stunning reporting on homophobia in Africa for Harpers—to online citizen journalism—Bil Browning's heartbreaking saga of Betsie Gallardo chronicled at Bilerico Project—NLGJA's excellence in journalism awards recognize a variety of media and journalists who exemplify NLGJA's commitment to fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues" says David Steinberg, NLGJA’s National Board President.
NLGJA Journalist of the Year
Winner: LZ Granderson, ESPN and CNN
Honorable Mention: Chris Johnson, Washington Blade
Sarah Petit LGBT Journalist of the Year
Winner: Michael Luongo, Freelance Writer
Honorable Mention: Chris Geidner, MetroWeekly
Excellence in News Writing
First Place: Chris Geidner, MetroWeekly, Body of Work on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal
Second Place: Steve Freiss, The Daily Beast, “Sharron Angle's Gay Campaign Cash Hypocrisy”
Third Place: Diana Scholl, City Limits, “For Transgender Homeless, Choice of Shelter Can Prevent Violence”
Excellence in Feature Writing
First Place: Jeff Sharlet, Harpers, “Straight Man’s Burden”
Second Place: Jeff Sharlet, The Advocate, “Dangerous Liaisons”
Third Place: Kate Brodoff and Ginny Graves, Glamour, “Meet My Two Moms”
Excellence in Network Television
First Place: CNN, Gay in America, “Gary and Tony Have a Baby”
Soledad O’Brien, Reporter
Excellence in Local Television
First Place: “Gay in America: Tensions and Tolerance” – WTIC-Hartford, Conn.
Sarah French, Reporter
Sarah Aaskov, Producer
Charles Carter, Executive Producer
Ryan Wark, Editor
Matthew Nodland, Editor
Daniel Putnam, Editor
Excellence in Radio
First Place: State of the Re:Union, “Bayard Rustin: Who is this Man?”
Al Letson, Host-Executive Producer
Ian DeSousa, Executive Producer
Tina Antolini, Senior Radio Producer
Taki Telonidis, Senior Content Editor
Second Place, NPR, All Things Considered “Word Is Out: A Love That Dared Speak After All”
Neda Ulaby, Reporter
Tom Cole, Editor
Third Place, NPR, Weekened Edition Saturday, “Express Yourself: A Major New Showcase of Gay Portraiture”
Neda Ulaby, Reporter
Tom Cole, Editor
Excellence in Photojournalism
First Place: James Kirchick, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “A Battle for Gay Rights in Belgrade”
Excellence in HIV/AIDS Coverage Award
First Place: Jacqueline Gares, Series Producer, In the Life, “Legalizing Stigma”
Second Place: Trenton Straube, Poz, “Thou Shalt Not Fear AIDS”
Excellence in Online Journalism
First Place: Bil Browning, Bilerico Project, “A Christmas Miracle for Betsie Gallardo”
Second Place: Chris Geidner, MetroWeekly’s Poliglot blog, Proposition 8 in Court
Third Place: Cyd Ziegler, Outsports, “Kye Allums First Transgender Man Playing NCAA Women’s Basketball”
Excellence in Multimedia Journalism
First Place: TheBody.com
Kellee Terrell: News Editor/Project Manager
Excellence in Student Journalism
First Place: Newscene, iTV, “Day of Rememberence”
Alex Miller Pastore-camera and editing
Steven Commer - reporter/track (San Diego City College)
Second Place: Meredith Bennett-Smith (New York University), Pavement Pieces, “Transgender Rights Still Uncertain After DADT repeal”
Third Place: Laura Murray (Columbia University), NarrativeNYC.org, “Willing to Die for Equal Rights”
Excellence in Opinion Writing
First Place: Jonathan Rauch, The Advocate, “The Majority Report”
Second Place: Sean Bugg, MetroWeekly, “Learning Experiences”
Third Place: Alfred Doblin, The Record, “The Tragedy of Tyler Clementi”
Awards will be presented at NLGJA's National Convention & LGBT Media Summit, August 25-28 2011. This year’s convention will provide media professionals the opportunity to participate in high-level training with some of the industry's best and brightest, as well as provide the opportunity to make the contacts and connections that will strengthen them in their field.
For more information on the convention, visit the convention Web site.
About the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association
NLGJA is an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students working from within the news industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues. NLGJA opposes all forms of workplace bias and provides professional development to its members. For more information, visit the NLGJA Web site.
Campaign led by Dan Choi and Truth Wins Out to end Hong Kong’s sponsorship of “ex-gay therapy” gathers thousands of supporters over 48 hours; Organization behind “gay cure” iPhone app continues to spread anti-gay doctrine overseas
WASHINGTON, DC – A petition calling on the Hong Kong government to drop “gay cure” therapist Hong Kwai-wah -- who claims he can “cure” LGBT people through cold showers, prayer, and abstinence -- has reached more than 14,000 signatures in the last 48 hours, signaling momentum for the campaign started on Change.org by gay rights advocates Dan Choi and Truth Wins Out.
The petition has taken off on Change.org following news that Hong Kong's Social Welfare Department recently held a workshop for its staff led by Hong Kwai-wah. Hong Kong’s endorsement of discredited “ex-gay therapy” and psychologist Hong Kwai-wah prompted Choi -- a West Point graduate, combat veteran, and a leading voice in the campaign to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” -- to work with Truth Wins Out to ask Hong Kong to end its sponsorship of “ex-gay therapy” and its promoters.
“It is shocking that Hong Kong would risk its reputation as an international business and cultural center by hiring a therapist with such disturbing views,” said Choi. “Hong Kong should move decisively to restore its honor and dignity by removing Hong Kwai-wah. The world is watching and taking note of this embarrassing travesty.”
The effort to infiltrate Hong Kong’s government and promote anti-gay ideology has been spearheaded by Canada-based Exodus Global Alliance and United States-based Exodus International. Exodus International is the same organization behind the “ex-gay” iPhone app recently removed from Apple’s iTunes store after more than 150,000 Truth Wins Out and Change.org members petitioned the technology company. Exodus has been spreading its fundamentalist anti-gay doctrine overseas for some time -- as it did in Uganda, encouraging advocates of the notorious “Kill the Gays” bill to criminalize homosexuality.
“Ex-gay therapy is rejected by all respected medical and mental health organizations across the world,” said Truth Wins Out’s Wayne Besen. “It is appalling that Hong Kong would allow American fundamentalist Christians to infiltrate and bring great shame and dishonor. It is time for the good people of Hong Kong to stand up and not allow themselves to be exploited by America’s most notorious religious zealots.”
Truth Wins Out released a comprehensive report this week -- How Radical American Christian Sects Are Invading Hong Kong and Beyond -- produced by researcher Bruce Wilson, detailing extensive efforts by American extremists to evangelize Hong Kong.
“The hiring of Hong Kwai-wah is the tip of the iceberg,” said Besen. “If we don’t take a stand now and stop the Social Welfare Department, the efforts to infiltrate Hong Kong and spread a radical, hate-filled ideology will only intensify.”
Rainbow Action, a Hong Kong-based organization, protested the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department last week to draw international attention to the issue. After a concerned citizen wrote the Social Welfare Department, he received a bizarre reply that wrongly equated “ex-gay” conversion therapy with more reputable therapy.
“We consider that knowledge from multiple perspectives is essential for social workers to make professional, comprehensive and independent assessment on their cases and to address the specific needs of individual clients,” responded Gloria Lee of the Social Welfare Department. “In this connection, the Department has adopted an open and impartial attitude in organising training activities for the professional development of our social workers.”
“The Social Welfare Department’s reaction to the controversy is entirely inadequate and unacceptable. This is the equivalent of the tobacco industry infiltrating the health system and portraying the ‘health benefits’ of smoking as just another perspective,” said TWO’s Besen. “It is grossly irresponsible for the Social Welfare Department to embrace a form of dangerous, religious therapy that harms clients and ruins lives.”
The American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and American Psychological Association are all on record in stating that there is no evidence to support the efficacy of so-called “ex-gay” therapy and attempts to change sexual orientation can be psychologically harmful.
View Dan Choi’s petition to the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department (including current signature total): https://www.change.org/petitions/tell-hong-kongs-social-welfare-department-end-sponsorship-of-ex-gay-therapy
Dan Choi is a West Point graduate, combat veteran, and proud son of immigrants. He was a leading voice in the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.http://www.ltdanchoi.com
Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism and the "ex-gay" myth. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.http://www.truthwinsout.org
Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 300,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country. http://www.change.org
By DAVID SHARP, Associated Press
LEWISTON, Maine -- Gay marriage supporters in Maine began laying the groundwork Thursday for another referendum on the issue, one day after Rhode Island lawmakers approved civil unions for gay couples.
Gay marriage supporters say many have changed their minds since state voters overturned a same-sex marriage law in 2009. They said Thursday they're filing paperwork with election officials to start the process of gathering 57,000 signatures to put the matter on the November 2012 ballot.
Matt McTighe from Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders says polls show 53 percent of Mainers now support gay marriage. In 2009, gay marriage was rejected by the same margin.
"We believe there's strong support for marriage in Maine. We believe that all families deserve the right to marry. The longer we wait, the longer we delay this right of loving and committed couples to marry," McTighe said Thursday.
Gay marriage supporters hope to build on momentum in Rhode Island and in New York, which earlier this month became the sixth state to allow gay marriage.
But gay marriage supporters say the Maine effort has been under way for some time.
Betsy Smith of EqualityMaine said Maine activists are focused on having 40,000 conversations with voters to bring them over to their side.
"We are going voter by voter," said Smith, adding that 15,000 of those conversations have been held, in targeted areas of the state.
The announcement was made in Lewistown, Maine's second-largest city, which rejected gay marriage in 2009. Smith said it is one of the communities that gay marriage supporters need to win to succeed at the ballot box in 2012.
"We've been having conversations with Mainers for the last year and a half, and what we know is that Mainers are changing their minds on this issue," Smith said. "We began working for marriage equality in 2009. We want to finish that job."
McTighe said gay marriage supporters will decide after gathering signatures and completing one-on-one conversations whether to go to the ballot.
Joining EqualityMaine and GLAD at a news conference Thursday were Lewiston Mayor Laurent F. Gilbert and the Rev. Michael Gray, a United Methodist pastor in Old Orchard Beach.
"As a pastor whose faith has been the guiding force throughout my adult life, I had a very traditional view of what marriage meant. But over time, as I met more gay and lesbian couples, including some who are active in my parish, I came to learn that gay people are no different from me," Gray said.
Michelle Mondor, a Roman Catholic mother from Biddford, described how she came to accept that her son's committed relationship with a partner of more than 11 years is just as strong as her own relationship with her husband.
She wants to see a marriage for them, as well as their adopted 11-year-pld son.
"He needs the protection and stability of knowing his two dads are married, and I pray that the people of Maine make that a reality so our entire family can join them in celebrating their love at their wedding."
Glenn Adams in Augusta, Maine, contributed to this report.
News release from Log Cabin Republicans:
(Washington, DC) - The Republican National Committee, the central arm of the Republican Party, named Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper to its Finance Committee, where he will be playing a critical role in raising funds for the party's efforts to elect Republicans to the White House and across the country.
“As a member of the Republican National Committee, I know that our party has a winning strategy for 2012, one based upon inclusion and the conviction that with a big tent the GOP can recapture the White House. I look forward to working closely with Clarke to raise the resources necessary to back the right candidates for office,” said Bob Kabel, Chairman of the District of Columbia Republican Committee, having served as the first National Chairman of the Log Cabin Republicans.
"I am honored to be a part of the Republican National Committee’s effort to advance a pro-growth, pro-free enterprise agenda, especially while working to elect and reelect pro-equality Republicans to office all across the country,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. “Chairman Priebus has demonstrated that he believes inclusion wins and that our Party is strongest when we reach every community. I look forward to working within the Party to help ensure we are victorious next November.”
The Finance Committee is the fundraising arm of the Republican National Committee, chaired by former Ambassador Ron Weiser, in the 2008 cycle; it was instrumental in raising approximately $430 million for Republican candidates.
Twist South Beach on Washington Avenue celebrated its 18th anniversary Wednesday night with an open-bar party that filled all rooms of the nightclub.
Performer TP Lords entertained before midnight and early Thursday.
Click the pictures to view a gallery from the party. All photos by STEVE ROTHAUS / Miami Herald Staff.