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June 13, 2012


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Why Aren't We Fighting for CeCe McDonald?

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The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. NBJC's mission is to end racism and homophobia.

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It's no secret that here at NBJC we celebrate our pride and power 365 days a year. This month is no different. We recently kicked off Pride Month by announcing CNN/ESPN columnist LZ Granderson as NBJC's OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit National Chair. From September 19-22, 2012, Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) leaders and activists from across the country will gather in the nation's capital to participate in an inspiring week of discussion, strategizing and organizing as well as educate congressional leaders, the White House and federal agencies about Black LGBT public policy concerns. To read more about last year's summit, click here. Registration for the OUT on the Hill 2012 Black LGBT Leadership Summit opens on July 2nd.


Our pride doesn't stop there. Yesterday, history was made when the Senate heard testimony from a transgender witness for the first time ever. In a hearing dedicated to highlighting workplace discrimination experienced by LGBT people, NBJC Board Member Kylar Broadus emphasized the importance of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  The Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) founder recounted how he was harassed while working at a major financial institution as well as the emotional and financial challenges he faced in the aftermath. Read NBJC's statement on this historic hearing.


Other highlights in this edition include: CeCe McDonald to be housed in male prison; prosecutors to appeal 30-day sentence in Rutgers gay bullying case; DOMA ruled unconstitutional by federal appeals court; and more

nominateNominate NBJC for the 2012 LGBTQ Awards!

nbjc logo GreatNonprofits, the leading developer of tools that allow people to find, review, and share information about nonprofits, has launched the 2012 LGBTQ Awards to recognize organizations that support LGBTQ issues and equality across the globe.


Here's where you come in! We need you to take a few minutes to fill out a brief five-star review saying what you appreciate about NBJC.


We only have until Saturday, June 30 to collect reviews!

meetalliesMeet the Allies

– Washington Blade 

President Obama's historic announcement endorsing marriage equality stands as perhaps the most prominent example of straight ally support for the LGBT rights movement. But there are many allies working hard to advance equality, from U.S. senators to ministers to community volunteers. Here, [the Washington Blade] introduces a few straight allies making a difference.


Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, chooses her words carefully. She prefers to think of herself as a "sister of the movement," and says the word ally is, for her, a misnomer. She's also very clear about what she sees as her role at the helm of the large black LGBT political organization she oversees.


"From a business perspective, yes, I'm an ally, but culturally speaking, black people understand family, so when I'm speaking as an ally, it sounds like a cultural transaction. You're doing something for me and we should be grateful. But I don't think any LGBT person should feel grateful for getting respect. We should demand it. Thank you for accepting me? How dare you? Get out of my way. You don't legislate people. Don't think I'm going to let your rhetoric go unchallenged. I see my role as educating people on why their thought process of discrimination, homophobia and judgment is misplaced, inappropriate and unwelcome."



contradictionNo Contradiction: I'm Black and Gay  

– LZ Granderson for CNN 


The National Organization for Marriage, a fringe anti-gay think tank, actually had outlined a plan to try to race bait the black community into fighting with… itself.


"N.O.M.'s memos detailed its campaign to direct money to a handful of African-American clergy in order to attack gay and lesbian couples that have made a lifelong promise to one another," said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition. "The organization admitted their key goal is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks."


But I am black, and I am gay. A wedge cannot be driven between parts of my being.

complexBlacks, Gays And The Church: A Complex Relationship       

– NPR     


A small but growing number of churches, such as the [Revs. Dennis and Christine Wiley's Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ] and Flunder's City of Refuge United Church of Christ, publicly welcome LGBT members, and their ranks are swelling with people leaving intolerant churches.


But many others say they are torn between their allegiance to their churches, which form the cultural and institutional backbone of black communities, and their desire to live free of homophobia. They often chose the former, convinced that their sexuality is a sin.


"They would rather suppress their identity than denounce their church," says Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, an LGBT advocacy group. "I've seen people refuse to divorce themselves from their church in spite of the ignorance that spews from the pulpit."

ofourtimesNAACP President: Marriage Is 'Civil Rights Issue of Our Times'

– Washington Blade


"For the black community, the president of the United States is as close to Martin Luther King in terms of moral leadership," said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, in response to a question about whether Obama's support of marriage rights for same-sex couples prompted the NAACP's position. "It's not just amazing that we have a black president but that he exemplifies exceptional leadership. From a space of cultural connection more than anything else, the president stood up beyond popularity, beyond the norm, beyond status quo and took the courageous step on behalf of the LGBT community that many would have seen as a political risk. I see it as nothing less than courageous leadership."





nowedgeCoalition Wants 'No Wedge' Between Black Voters, President Over Gay Marriage  

– GA Voice  


A No Wedge participant, [Sharon] Lettman-Hicks said it is time for "honest dialogue with black LGBT people."


"Now our moral leadership has spoken," she said. "It is time to start having healthy conversations."


There is no doubt that NOM and others have co-opted the evangelical right, she added, but now is the time to get started on bringing more awareness of black LGBT people into the churches and into African-American communities themselves.


"We will not let them divide our community," she said.




bigdeal'This is a Very Big Deal'  

– Washington Blade


Sharon Lettman-Hicks, who prefers the term "sister of the movement" to straight ally (she's married to a man but is also executive director of the LGBT rights group National Black Justice Coalition), agrees. "I was extremely proud," she says. "I was in shock and awe, but also just extremely proud that he would do this in such a polarizing political climate, but he was willing to step outside of the world of politics and really put human dignity first."   



dcprideNBJC Celebrates DC Black Pride    

NBJC Senior Fellows Rodney Nickens and Je-Shawna Wholley ensured that NBJC's presence was felt at this year's Washington, D.C. Black Pride. NBJC co-founder and Leadership Advisory Council member Mandy Carter, Darryl Gorman, Management Consultant for the federal government, and Jeffrey Richardson of the Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs were among the familiar faces that stopped by the NBJC booth. "I had a wonderful time celebrating Pride with the greater LGBT family," said Wholley. "This was my first opportunity to attend Pride and I enjoyed learning about community-based organizations and resources as well as fellowshipping with members of the Black LGBT community," added Nickens.


View photos from DC Pride  


campusprideNBJC Teams Up With Campus Pride  


Campus Pride joins NBJC to recognize and support HBCU student leaders at colleges across the nation. This summer Campus Pride awarded a scholarship to attend the annual Camp Pride Summer Leadership Camp to Jamale Stevenson, a sophomore at Bowie State University. The five-day, five-night camp builds leadership skills and equips students with knowledge and resources to create safer, more LGBT-friendly campus communities. The full scholarship was given to Stevenson as a way to invest in HBCU outreach and the goal is to offer more targeted scholarships in future years.


"In order to create safer, more welcoming learning environments for LGBT students at HBCUs, we need to invest in the student leaders at HBCUs and provide them with the necessary tools, knowledge, resources — and ultimately the power to get things done," says Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride's Executive Director. "Campus Pride and NBJC are committed to HBCU outreach and seeing that 'real' action happens by training these student leaders at Camp Pride and work with them throughout the year. Together Campus Pride is excited to work strategically with NBJC and to see our efforts with HBCUs continue to grow."


NBJC is a proud partner of Campus Pride's "Stop the Hate: Train the Trainer" program, fighting bias and hate crimes on college campuses.


broadusendaFirst Trans Witness Ever to Testify Before Senate on ENDA

– Washington Blade


An openly transgender person for the first time is set to testify before the Senate on [Tuesday, June 12] about the lack of federal employment LGBT non-discrimination protections and the need to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, according to a committee notice published [Thursday, June 07].


Kylar Broadus, founder of the Columbia, Mo., based Trans People of Color Coalition [and NBJC board member], is scheduled be among five witnesses who'll speak during the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee hearing titled, "Equality At Work: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act."



notfightingWhy Aren't We Fighting for CeCe McDonald?    

– Marc Lamont Hill for EBONY     


Last week, Chrishaun "CeCe" McDonald, a 23-year-old Black transgender woman, was sentenced to 41 months in prison for second-degree manslaughter despite clear evidence of self-defense. Making matters worse, she is now being forced to serve her time in a men's prison. CeCe McDonald's case not only represents a tragic miscarriage of justice, but also speaks to the fundamental unfairness of the criminal justice system for the Black trans community.  




mediaignoresMedia Ignores Rash of Assaults on Transgender Women   

– The Daily Beast    


The spate of violence has gone virtually unnoticed by the mainstream media, as well as by the mainstream gay community, which has been consumed by the same-sex-marriage debate and the Tyler Clementi/Dharun Ravi case, writes Jay Michaelson. 




knowyourrightsNational Center for Transgender Equality Releases Trans Job Discrimination "Know Your Rights" Guide

National Center for Transgender Equality


To help trans-identified individuals understand and assert their rights in the workplace, the National Center for Transgender Equality is releasing Know Your Rights: Employment Discrimination and Transgender People, a resource outlining the laws protecting trans people in the workplace and steps for reporting job discrimination. The guide details how to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as well as through a state or local civil rights agency or their union.




janetmockTrans Advocate Janet Mock Remembers Lorena Escalera at the GLAAD Media Awards

– GLAAD   


Trans advocate Janet Mock remembers Lorena Escalera at the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Awards and calls for The New York Times to restore Lorena's dignity after the publishing of a problematic article. "I'm on this stage tonight because Lorena was much more than the demeaning, sexist portrait the Times painted of her," Mock stated. "But until the media treats trans women with respect, society will continue to see us as less-than-human creatures to be gawked at and because violence against trans women is escalating, that shift needs to happen now.



Janet Mock Remembers Lorena Escalera at the #glaadawards
Janet Mock Remembers Lorena Escalera

at the  GLAAD Awards



janetjacksonJanet Jackson To Produce 'Truth' Documentary About Transgender Lives Around The World

Huffington Post

Janet Jackson has announced plans to executive produce a documentary about transgender people around the world. The Grammy-winning pop diva will not only executive produce "Truth," but will also conduct some of the on-camera interviews. Set to begin production this summer, "Truth" will be directed by Robert Jason, who previously directed the Style Network documentary "Style Exposed: Born Male, Living Female," about four transgender New Yorkers.


Jackson, 46, said in a statement to MTV News that she hopes the documentary — which will reportedly include stories from North America, Europe, Australia and Latin America — will help stop discrimination against the transgender community.



antigaymurderHighest Number of Anti-Gay Murders Ever Reported in 2011: The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

– Huffington Post 

More murders motivated by anti-gay bias occurred last year than any year since the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs began collecting data in 1998, the national advocacy organization reported this week. In 2011, 30 fatally violent hate crimes were committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender victims, 3 more than the previous year's total.




rutgersProsecutors to Appeal 30-Day Sentence in Rutgers Gay Bullying Case



Prosecutors will appeal a 30-day jail sentence handed down Monday against Dharun Ravi, the ex-Rutgers student convicted of spying on and intimidating his gay roommate, who then killed himself by jumping off New York's George Washington Bridge.


Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan said Ravi's crimes warranted "more than a 30-day jail term" and called Superior Judge Glenn Berman's sentence "insufficient under the sentencing laws of this state, the facts that were determined by a jury and long-standing appellate precedent."



evolvedWhy Blacks Evolved So 'Quickly' on Gay Marriage

– Huffington Post

What really caused the black community's rapid 'evolution' on gay marriage over the past month? The answer is simple: We didn't evolve overnight. We've been evolving for decades, even when the media wasn't paying attention. [Writer Lenox] Magee's argument that African Americans have been slow to embrace LGBT issues seems to miss an important point: marriage equality is not the only LGBT issue.




jamaicaCouple Makes History at First Lesbian Wedding in Jamaica


Brides Nicole Y. Dennis and Dr. Emma Benn made history in Jamaica at the first lesbian wedding in the island's history. Read Nicole Y. Dennis' first-person narrative of the couple's journey, and see exclusive photos from the ceremony.


NBJC congratulates the newlyweds and commends EBONY for covering this beautiful love story.





domarulingDOMA Ruled Unconstitutional By Federal Appeals Court 

– Huffington Post  


An appeals court ruled Thursday that a law that denies a host of federal benefits to gay married couples is unconstitutional. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, discriminates against gay couples.




lesbiandivorceLesbian Couple Can File for Divorce in Maryland, Court Rules



Maryland's highest court has ruled that a lesbian couple married out of state can legally file for divorce, even though Maryland's own same-sex marriage law does not take effect until next year. The issue is whether states without legalized same-sex marriage can recognize gay or lesbian weddings outside their borders. The appeal involved a Prince George's County couple, Jessica Port and Virginia Anne Cowan.


"Maryland courts will withhold recognition of a valid foreign marriage only if that marriage is 'repugnant' to state public policy. This threshold, a high bar, has not been met yet," the seven state Court of Appeals justices said in their 21-page opinion. "The present case will be treated no differently."


NBJC is proud to have partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Maryland Black Family Alliance on releasing a joint amicus brief on this case, calling the state of Maryland to treat gay and lesbian spouses equally. 



wadedavisFormer NFL Player Wade Davis Tells Soledad O'Brien Why He Waited to Come Out



Former pro football player Wade Davis talked to CNN's Soledad O'Brien about being gay and working with LGBT youth at The Hetrick-Martin Institute. "I knew when football was over, my life would begin," Wade Davis says of time in NFL.




 fostercareThe Intersectionality of Foster Care and Youth Homelessness 

– Red Zone Solutions

The reality is there is a need for homes for children currently waiting for adoption, but not just any home, a safe and loving family. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (S. 1770) will help to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status no longer keeps children waiting for families because safe and loving families are being turned away. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (S. 1770) will also reduce the number of young adults who age out of care and become homeless.  All of our nation's children deserve to be a part of a permanent, loving family.



steppingoutLGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent Presents "Stepping Out on Faith"


Saturday, June 16, 2012 2 pm – 4 pm 

Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

State Office Building 

163 West 125th St., 8th Floor  

New York, NY  10027  


"Stepping Out on Faith" is a premiere screening of a film project featuring 8 lesbian and gay African Americans speaking of their own personal journeys to embrace their sexual orientation and their faith. The event is followed by a panel discussion with the 8 speakers who represent a range of faith traditions. Admission is free.


 stopfriskEnd Stop & Frisk: Silent March Against Racial Profiling


Sunday, June 17, 2012

1 pm – 4 pm 

110th Street

(between 5th Avenue and Lenox Avenue) 

New York, NY


Though they account for only 4.7 percent of New York City's population, Black and Latino males between the ages of 14-24 accounted for 41.6 percent of the stops in 2011. Join 1199 SEIU, the NAACP, National Action Network, civil rights, faith, labor and community groups in a silent march against NYC's "Stop and Frisk" policy! On Father's Day, let's stand together to show that New Yorkers refuse to let our children be victimized by racial profiling!


NBJC has officially endorsed this march to raise awareness around bias-motivated police activity. 


To learn more visit    

 esteemEsteem Awards: Honoring Black LGBT Individuals and Organizations


Saturday, June 30, 2012

2 pm – 4 pm


3349 N. Halstead Street 

Chicago, IL 60657 


Since 2007, Esteem Awards has honored local and national organizations and individuals for their continued efforts in supporting the African American and LGBT communities in the areas of entertainment, media, civil rights, business and art. This year's honorees include NBJC Board Member Michelle E. Brown, NBJC Communications Director Kimberley McLeod, author and professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago Dr. Cathy Cohen, WWRL radio host Clay Cane, trans advocate Janet Mock and many more. The event is free and open to the public.




The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.