Greetings! As we celebrate Black History Month, it is critical that today we plant the necessary seeds in the fertile groundwork those before us have already laid. It was with that in mind that NBJC took Baltimore by storm at this year’s Creating Change, a national conference on LGBT equality hosted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
We kicked things off with a lively movement-building session titled “Can You Hear Me Now? We Are Black Too: Electrifying the Black LGBT Base.” Moderated by filmmaker Maurice Jamal and NBJC senior fellow Je-Shawna Wholley, the workshop delved into how we as Black LGBT people can mobilize. A panel of advocates talked candidly about what factors hold us back as a community and what changes need to happen so that we can effectively strategize. The takeaway? We must utilize untapped resources and no longer be complicit in our oppression by settling for less than we deserve.
Later, NBJC partnered with the National Education Association's Office of Minority Community Outreach to present a town hall meeting that focused on the challenges LGBT youth of color face. ESPN/CNN writer and commentator LZ Granderson guided the youth-led discussion. Youth leaders and experts in youth advocacy explored themes like empowerment, creating safe spaces for our young people, and ensuring that youth from all walks of life have a seat at the table.
Finally, at “Jumping Beyond the Broom: Why Black Gay and Transgender Americans Need More Than Marriage Equality,” NBJC Executive Director Sharon Lettman-Hicks joined Center for American Progress advisors Aisha and Danielle Moodie-Mills, to discuss why there are a host of other protections that Black LGBT people need in addition to marriage equality.
But we didn’t stop there! NBJC’s presence was felt throughout Creating Change with founder and NBJC Leadership Advisory Council member Mandy Carter and current board member Kylar Broadus leading workshops and a display table providing materials pertinent to our community. Our work continues.
Highlights in this issue of the E-Digest include: NBJC is urging the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an immediate investigation into the death of Florida A&M University student Robert Champion Jr. as a potential anti-gay hate crime; NBJC celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day; the NAACP supports extending rights to transgender residents in Maryland; and much, much more.
WHITE HOUSE POLICY BRIEFING FOR BLACK LGBT EMERGING LEADERS
Friday, February 24, 2012
As a leader in your community, you are invited to participate in a policy briefing at the White House for Black LGBT Emerging Leaders. Priority will be given to emerging leaders, ages 18-30, to attend. This event will be an opportunity for you to learn more about President Obama’s commitment to equal rights for all Americans and the important steps his Administration has taken to ensure health, well-being, security, justice, and equality for black and LGBT Americans.
At this briefing, you will have the opportunity to:
- Interact directly with senior Obama Administration officials who will discuss important LGBT policy updates related to non-discrimination, health, and international human rights;
- Identify opportunities to collaborate with the Obama Administration in breakout sessions on youth entrepreneurship, safe schools and communities, faith-based outreach, and HIV/AIDS prevention;
- Participate in a listening session with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs);
- Provide candid and constructive feedback to White House and agency staff;
- Get engaged with upcoming White House outreach efforts to black, LGBT, youth, and faith-based communities.
In addition, we will also offer an East Wing tour from 11 AM to Noon, with an hour-long break for lunch (on your own) between the end of the tour and the start of the briefing.
If you are interested in sponsoring an emerging leader or attending this event, please contact MarQuis Fair at email@example.com no later than Wednesday, February 8, 2012.
Demand Justice for Robert Champion
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation’s largest Black LGBT civil rights organization, is urging the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service (CRS) and Civil Rights Division, in addition to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, to launch an immediate investigation into Mr. Champion’s death as a potential anti-gay hate crime.
On November 19, 2011 Florida A&M University student Robert Champion Jr. was found unresponsive aboard a band bus after the school's biggest game of the year. Police ruled the death a homicide from hazing; furthermore, the parents of Mr. Champion, a 26-year-old drum major in the university’s famed marching band, have recently revealed that Mr. Champion was gay.
VIDEO:Rodney Nickens, Jr., Senior Fellow at NBJC, featured in MD. Same-Sex Marriage Coverage
Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley introduced the legislation earlier this month to allow civil marriage between same-sex couples, making the proposal a key piece of his legislative package.
Young Activists Plot the Future of the LGBT Rights Movement
A few minutes into a breakout session at last week’s Creating Change LGBT equality conference in Baltimore, the presenter noted that more than 150 colleges in the U.S. have programs aimed at supporting LGBT students—but none of those schools are HBCUs.
Why We Cannot Wait: NBJC Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day
– Huffington Post
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation's largest black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, reflects on King's legacy as we continue to demand justice for Robert Champion, Jr. Champion, a gay drum major at Florida A&M, died as a result of a hazing ritual aboard a band bus on Nov. 19, 2011. NBJC is urging the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether his death was a possible hate crime. Our call to action, coming on King's birthday, is tragically timely.
Equation for a Hate Crime: How Hazing and Homophobia Could Have Played a Role in FAMU's Robert Champion Jr. Death
– Huffington Post
Was Champion's death a hazing act that went wrong, or is there something more? What is not being readily discussed in this hazing death is why, in his case, the beating he received was severe enough to kill him. Publicly, it seems that the college is quick to assert that being gay had little to do with Champion's death. The attorney for the Champion family, Christopher Chestnut, also stated, "Our investigation is very clear: This was hazing, not a hate crime." The attorney does admit, however, that Champion's sexual orientation may have been a factor, albeit one of several factors.
Ben Jealous: LGBT and Civil Rights Groups Must Work Together
– The Root
Bridging the gap between LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and civil rights organizations was the overarching motif as NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous helped kick off the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Creating Change, the 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality, in Baltimore Thursday night. "Unfortunately, the national media tends to exaggerate divisions between civil rights and LGBT institutions," Jealous said to conference attendees during his keynote address at the Hilton Baltimore. "But more damaging than the media's failure to recognize our common struggles is our own failure to come together on issues of common interest."
NAACP Supports Extending Rights to Transgender Residents in Maryland
– Washington Post
NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said Thursday the civil rights group supports legislation in Maryland to extend rights to transgender residents. Jealous spoke at a national conference on rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the 24th national conference on LGBT equality.
VIDEO: LGBTQ Youth Activists at OUT on the Hill
LGBTQ youth tell us what's on their mind at the annual OUT on the Hill Summit sponsored by the National Black Justice Coalition.
REPORT: Laws Jeapordize Economic Security for LGBT Parents and Their Children
– LGBT Map.org
The latest in a series of groundbreaking reports shows how children are suffering because of laws and policies intended to hurt lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. Strengthening Economic Security for Children Living in LGBT Families describes how antiquated and discriminatory laws increase poverty for children with LGBT parents, and can be especially harmful for children living in low-income households.
Jumping the Broom: Why Black Gay and Transgender Americans Need More Than Marriage Equality
– Center for American Progress
While some states and the federal government continue to expand protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, more than half of all states still deny them basic civil rights. Such systemic inequities render people of color who are also gay and transgender among the most vulnerable in our society.
Bernice King’s Gay-Inclusive Speech at MLK Rally Surprises LGBT Participants
– The GA Voice
Bernice King took the stage today at Atlanta’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. rally and included gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people among the various groups she said need to come together to fulfill her father's legacy.
Massachussetts Gov. Patrick Signs Transgender Equality Bill into Law
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick held a ceremonial signing for H.3810, “An Act Relative To Gender Identity,” which now legally protects transgender individuals from discrimination in housing, education, employment and credit. The new law also provides additional civil rights and protections from hate crimes.
Tennessee Lawmaker Threatens Trans Women With Violence
– Huffington Post
Tennessee State Representative Richard Floyd (R-Chattanooga) said he would "stomp a mudhole" into any transgender woman he saw attempting to use a women's restroom. That phrase means to sexually and violently assault someone to the point where they are unable to fight back.
VIDEO: OutServe: It Gets Better
Deployed military in Bagram, Afghanistan, show LGBTQ kids that it gets better! Special thanks to the Outserve Network for standing "OUT and proud" and for giving such a great group of people a platform to spread such a positive message.
Reducing the Impact of HIV/AIDS in Black Communities
– Amsterdam News.com
“African-Americans constitute 12 percent of the U.S. population but account for roughly 45 percent of those newly infected with HIV, according to the CDC. Furthermore, a large percentage of new infections occur in women as a result of heterosexual sex. In New York City alone, there are over 3,000 new HIV diagnoses a year.”
Terry Angel Mason Named Nat’l Spokesperson for Nat’l Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
– Broadway World.com
Terry Angel Mason, internationally-renowned author, keynote speaker, poet, singer, songwriter, minister, columnist and civil rights activist was selected as The National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Spokesperson for 2012. February 7, 2012 will be the 12th annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a nationwide community mobilization effort to emphasize the HIV/AIDS “State of Emergency” among African-Americans. The theme is “I am my Brother/Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS."
Gail Kerr: “Don’t Say Gay” Bill Will Add to Hostility at Schools
Two Middle Tennessee gay teens have killed themselves in recent weeks, and friends and family members say both were the objects of persistent bullying in school because of their sexuality. Which is the best reason Tennessee lawmakers need to examine their hearts and put a screeching halt to the “don’t say gay” bill, which would contribute to a toxic atmosphere in schools. By telling teachers that they cannot discuss homosexuality, the legislature would be endorsing free-for-all bullying of gays.
Christie Wants Voters to Decide on Gay Marriage
– New York Times.com
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said Tuesday that he would veto a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, and he challenged the State Legislature instead to put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide. Democrats, who control the Legislature, swiftly rejected the idea, accusing the governor, a Republican, of trying to punt on a politically sensitive issue. “Marriage equality isn’t like sports betting,” said Senator Raymond Lesniak, a Union County Democrat, referring to a referendum on an amendment to the State Constitution on gambling last year. “It’s a civil right, which is already guaranteed in our Constitution. It’s up to the Legislature to guarantee these rights.”
VIDEO: Penny Nicholas at Marriage Equality Senate Hearings
Straight mother Penny Nicholas testifies to the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee in Maryland in support of the marriage equality bill.
Gov. Christie nominates two for state Supreme Court, including gay African-American mayor
Gov. Chris Christie today nominated an openly gay African-American Republican mayor and an assistant state attorney general to the state’s highest court.
Christie nominated Phil Kwon, who worked under Christie when he was U.S. attorney, and Bruce Harris, who was elected mayor of Chatham Borough in November. Kwon, of Bergen County, would be the first Asian-American to sit on the state Supreme Court.
Dustin Lance Black's Gay Marriage Play '8' Goes To Los Angeles
– Huffington Post
"Milk" and "J. Edgar" screenwriter Dustin Lance Black's gay marriage play "8" will feature an star-studded cast for its March premiere in Los Angeles.
In September, "8" was performed as a one-night benefit with stars including Morgan Freeman, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, Cheyenne Jackson, and others, raising over $1 million. The Los Angeles event will also function as a benefit, with a line-up that includes George Clooney, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Rob Reiner, Martin Sheen and George Takei.
Black Pastors Protest the SPLC
In news that may seem ironic, some African-American pastors are speaking out against a non-profit civil rights organization that for decades has been known to fight hate and bigotry: The Southern Poverty Law Center.
About a dozen African-American pastors joined anti-gay extremists on Tuesday in condemning the SPLC for using its “hate group” label to describe faith-based organizations that are against the LGBT lifestyle. At a press conference staged outside of the SPLC offices in Montgomery, Alabama, the pastors spoke and stood in solidarity with organizations, including Americans for the Truth about Homosexuality (AFTAH), an organization the SPLC lists as an anti-gay hate group.
Black Pastors, Marriage Equality and NOM's Money
– Huffington Post
A 2005 article on now-disgraced Atlanta pastor Eddie Long highlights a disturbing perspective to this issue of the National Organization for Marriage utilizing the black church and leaders against marriage equality that very few people are openly talking about. The article quotes the Rev. Timothy McDonald, who theorizes that there was a tie between Long's 2005 anti-marriage equality march held in Atlanta and a $1 million grant he received from the faith-based initiatives of the Bush administration.
Hidden in the Open: Photos of Black Gay Couples in History
– No More Down Low.TV
In honor of Black History Month, NoMoreDownLow.TV Episode 105 features an exclusive interview with curator Trent Kelly who gives us a glimpse into rarely before seen photos of black gay men since the mid-19th Century — including a photo of black gay men during Civil War times.
Violent Prejudice Against Jamaica’s Gay People Must Stop
– Guardian UK
Almost a year to the day that David Kato, the Ugandan human rights activist, was murdered in his home because of his sexuality, I am flying from Toronto to London to accept the inaugural the David Kato Voice and Vision Award, which recognises individuals who uphold the human rights and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world. I should have been flying from Jamaica my country of birth and, until very recently, my home. After the ceremony I should be returning there to celebrate with fellow activists. But this time there's no going home.
Lesbians with 3 Kids Sue to Overturn Michigan Ban on Adoption by Unmarried Couples
– The Republic
Two lesbians who are raising three children filed a lawsuit Monday to overturn Michigan's ban on adoption by unmarried couples. April DeBoer, with two adopted children, and Jayne Rowse, with one, are longtime partners and nurses who live together with the kids in suburban Detroit. But under state law, they can't adopt them as a couple, an option available only to heterosexual married couples.
Hate the Gays? Imagine the World Without Us
– Huffington Post
In our current political discourse, right-wing politicians continue to demonize the LGBT community in sad and desperate attempts to rally their base. While, happily, their efforts have not been as effective as in the past, any attempt to make gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people feel anything less than equal can lead to devastating consequences, as the ongoing string of youth suicides so painfully highlights.