In commemoration of Black History Month and Presidents’ Day 2011, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) asks you to join us in celebrating the extraordinary heights President Barack Obama has reached in his unwavering mission to shape our nation’s policies and governing laws to recognize the full equality of LGBT people. In his election night acceptance speech, President-elect Barack Obama told an enthusiastic crowd of tens of thousands of joyous supporters, “… while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us that we can’t; we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can.”
President Obama has seamlessly woven his advocacy for LGBT equality into his everyday efforts to promote justice for all people. He could have succumbed to the fear of negative political consequences and retreated. Instead, he has demonstrated courage and loyalty. He has been a true ally to our community. According to the Victory Fund, President Obama has appointed more LGBT people in his first two years in office than President Clinton did during his eight years in office. Unfortunately, he has not taken the credit due for the monumental strides this nation has made on his watch to advance efforts toward full equality achieved for LGBT people. In this spirit, NBJC has created a Presidential Midterm Report Card in recognition of the outstanding record of the sitting President of the United States, who happens to be an African American. We salute you, Mr. President, and look forward to more gains for our community in the second half of your first term in office (Read complete message here).
In addition, we also stand united with people who love freedom and justice to celebrate the legacy of the venerable Barbara Jordan on her 75th birthday (February 21). Her commitment to promoting equality and the power in the veracity of her words are why she will always be one of NBJC’s “(s)heroes.”
If you would like to learn more about NBJC’s work, please visit us at NBJC.org, “like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
Onward and upward.
Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks
NBJC Board Member, Kylar Broadus, Featured on BlackEnterprise.com
As a young girl, Kylar Broadus (born Karen) always knew that he was in the wrong body. He spent endless nights praying for God to change him from female-to-male. Finally, in 1995, after discovering that sex change procedures were covered through his company’s insurance policy, he began a 15-year transition from Karen to Kylar, but the Columbia, Missouri native never thought that this decision would come at the cost of his job.
Help Bring Brother Outsider to Netflix
If you have a Netflix account, please sign in and add "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin" to your queue. Netflix is refusing to carry the film until a sufficient demand is demonstrated. Our friend Barrett Singer, the film's director, explains the situation on the Brother Outsider website where he suggests:
1. If you are a Netflix subscriber, click the Save button on his web page to add Brother Outsider to your queue.
2. Give the film a rating and/or write a review.
2011 Congressional Black Caucus Internship Program–Apply Now!
The CBCF Leadership Institute for Public Service is now accepting applications for the summer 2011 Congressional Internship Program. The program is scheduled to run from May 30 – July 30, 2011. Interns will receive a stipend and housing. Interns work in CBC member offices, attend professional development events, and participate in leadership development projects. The program prepares young people to become informed decision makers and influential leaders who shape our world.
Click here to apply.
NBJC featured in a Groundbreaking Lesbian Soldier's Story in Essence Magazine
NBJC worked with a Black, lesbian servicemember to have her compelling story told by a pillar of the African American community, Essence magazine. The article was published in the March 2011 issue, which is on newsstands now. Please be sure to pick up your copy today. Then, go to our Facebook page and tell us what you thought.
John Lewis: True Champion of "Equality and Justice for All" – Washington Post
Venerable Civil Rights pioneer, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), was one of 15 individuals to whom President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom last week at the White House. (Others included Maya Angelou and Bill Russell.) Jonathan Capehart writes, “As an African American, I was proud to have Lewis so squarely in my corner as a gay man. As a gay man, I was overwhelmed to have a black man respect and defend my right to be happy. Little did I know that the man who helped America live up to its ideals for blacks had been speaking up for gays since at least 1996.”
Metro Nashville Council Advances Anti-Gay Bias Bill – Tennessean.com
Nashville took a major step toward joining more than 100 other communities across the country as the Metro Council on Tuesday voiced its support for extending workplace protections to gays, lesbians and transgender people working for city contractors.
Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, who is pictured, said, "We want to communicate that we're for equality. We want to make sure we're always basing things on performance and talent."
Army Trains for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal – Washington Post
The Army's top general kicked off the service's training program Thursday on the new law allowing gays to serve openly in the military, and officials said they hope to have the whole force trained by mid-August.
DOMA is Unconstitutional – Huffington Post
The Supreme Court has held that most laws that treat some people differently from others are constitutional if the difference in treatment rationally furthers a legitimate government interest. A central question in the legal debate over the constitutionality of laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians (such as the federal Defense of Marriage Act) is whether the government's interest in treating gays and lesbians differently from other Americans is sufficiently weighty to justify the discrimination.
What's Next for Marriage Equality in Maryland – Baltimore Sun
What would happen in a statewide vote on the issue is anyone's guess. Gay marriage has suffered a string of defeats at the ballot box in other states, but the latest polling on the question in Maryland found majority support for gay marriage. Public opinion is steadily moving in that direction, and supporters appear to have the energy and momentum on their side. The most recent developments were crucial but small steps, with many more to go. Still, those eager to see all of the state's residents treated equally under the law have good reason for optimism that this will be the year.
In Defense of Marriage, for All – New York Times
The Defense of Marriage law, signed by President Bill Clinton, denies married same-sex couples the federal benefits granted to other married couples, including Social Security survivor payments and the right to file joint tax returns. When December’s repeal of the noxious “don’t ask, don’t tell” law goes into effect, gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans will be able to serve openly in the military but may not be entitled to on-base housing or a spouse’s burial in a national cemetery.
After Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Transgender Service Members Face Uphill Battle – tbd.com
"Of everyone who went on the fence that day, I risked the most," says Sandeen, who carefully calibrated her military career to avoid being punished for her gender identity. Sandeen served in the Navy for 20 years as a man; only upon retirement did she confess her identity issues to a counselor and begin living her life openly as a woman. Now an LGBT activist, Sandeen regularly submits herself to abuse for the greater community's causes. After law enforcement officers removed her from the White House fence, Sandeen says she was openly mocked as a "shim" and an "impersonator," then locked up in a holding cell with men. “As a pre-operative transgender woman," Sandeen says, "jail is not exactly fun."
Hawaii Passes Civil Unions – KHON2.com
The Hawaii House of Representatives has voted to approve civil unions for same-sex couples, moving the proposal to the state Senate for final legislative consideration.
Facebook Adds "Civil Union," "Domestic Partnership" to Relationship Status Options – Huffington Post
Among other information included on their Facebook profiles, such as their alma mater and favorite books, users also have the option to characterize their relationships. Previously, the set of options included: single, in a relationship, married, engaged, it's complicated, in an open relationship, widowed, separated, and divorced.
LGBT Africans Face Blackmail and Extortion on a Regular Basis – Democracy in Action
Antiquated laws against same-sex sexual activity as well as deeply ingrained social stigma result in the all-too-frequent targeting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Africa for blackmail and extortion, said the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) in a report entitled Nowhere to Turn: Blackmail and Extortion of LGBT People in Sub-Saharan Africa.
"God Created You": Bishop Supports Gay Ugandans, Defies Death Threats – Religion Dispatches
Standing by the graveside of slain Uganda gay rights advocate David Kato at the end of last month, many of the gays and lesbians in attendance at his funeral wept. They were grieving the death of a beloved friend and mentor but they were also shaken by the interruption of the ceremony by a homophobic pastor, who told them that they were all destined for hell. The local pastor exhorted homosexuals to repent or be punished by God before the microphone was snatched away by one of Kato’s supporters.
Jamaica's Gays Finding Refuge by Applying for U.S. Asylum – Washington Post
Jamaica is a beautiful island with an ugly dimension. As a nation that criminalizes sodomy, it is known to be virulently homophobic. The reality of harm is so great that there is a wave of LGBT people fleeing Jamaica for asylum in America. The stories are compelling. The fear is real.
Can Gay Marriage Save State Budgets? – New York Times
Legalizing gay marriage in Rhode Island could bring the state an additional $1.2 million over a three-year period, according to a study from the Williams Institute at the School of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The institute, a research group that studies sexual orientation law and public policy, based its figure on estimates of reduced spending on means-testing for public benefit programs, in addition to increased revenue from state marriage license fees, as well as income and sales taxes.
Target Revises Political Giving Policy After Flap – washingtonpost.com
Target Corp. has revised its policy concerning political giving a few months after a controversy over its $150,000 donation to a business group that was backing a conservative Republican candidate for Minnesota governor.
Court: Student Counselor Must Treat Gays – Advocate
Julea Ward is an African American student who was studying to be a counselor at Eastern Michigan University. Then, she made her personal views clear by stating that she would refuse to counsel gay clients. The University removed her from the graduate counseling program, and she sued. The courts ruled in favor of the University explaining that counseling students are not allowed to discriminate.