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November 14, 2012


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Obama Nominates Gay African-American Judge to Federal Bench

Marriage Equality Takes Four Steps Forward

Black Churches May Be More Friend Than Foe to Gay Congregants

LGBT Groups Recover from Hurricane Sandy

Silence is Golden on Gay Issues

OP-ED: Study Proves Black LGBT Community No Longer Invisible

OP-ED: Maryland and Beyond: What This Election Means for Black LGBT Love and Families – Black AIDS Weekly

MARYLAND: NBJC Campaigns for Marriage Equality in Maryland

NEW YORK CITY: NBJC Executive Director Keynotes at LGBT Faith Leaders Forum

WASHINGTON, DC: NBJC Serves as Panelist at HBCU Leadership and Career Summit

OREGON: NBJC Hosts Tele-Lecture at Western Oregon University Students

VIRGINIA: NBJC Attends Campus Diversity and Inclusion Training

Black, Trans & Proud: Send Us Your Testimonies and Raise Black Trans Visibility!

Apply for the Point Foundation Academic Scholarship

Staff Announcement: From Fellows to Fulltime Employees, NBJC Adds New Staff Associates to the Team

Biden Says Transgender Discrimination 'Civil Rights Issue of Our Time'

Trans Voters Excluded in Election Exit Poll

Continuing the Fight for Transgender Rights

Authorities: Boy, 14, Charged with Far South Side Murder

Judge to FAMU Hazing Defendant: 'I Think Your Life is Worth Saving'

Maryland Lesbian Couple Gets Engaged At Obama's Election Night Celebration

The Black Vote for Gay Marriage

Maryland Voters Approve Same Sex Marriage Law

'With Liberty and Justice for ALL' 

Five Takeaways from Election Day

KICK – The Agency for LGBT African Americans Hosts Voter Engagement Forum

New Report Examines Political Impact of Young People of Color in the 2012 Election

The White House is an OUT100 Honoree

What Color Is Your Princess?

Malawi Lauded on Anti-Gay Law Moratorium

Healing Detroit: Health & Wellness Expo


ProjectDBGM Gala and Premiere

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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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Congratulations President Barack Obama! 


It has been a celebratory last couple of weeks at NBJC as we commemorate the landslide for LGBT equality. Exit polls indicate that a coalition of people of color and LGBT Americans (undoubtedly many at the intersection of both identities) helped re-elect Barack Obama, the most pro-LGBT president in U.S. history. These groups also played a significant role in our recent marriage equality victories across the country. 


Young voters, ages 18-29, also flexed their political muscle voting primarily in support of the president. A teary-eyed Obama noted in a speech to young campaign workers, "[Y]our journey is just beginning. You're just starting, and whatever good we do over the next four years will pale in comparison to what you guys end up accomplishing for years and years to come."


The president's words underscore the importance of investing in our emerging leaders as we look to our future as a more fair and just nation. That is why NBJC is proud to announce the promotion of NBJC Senior Fellows Rodney K. Nickens, Jr. and Je-Shawna Wholley. Read about their new roles here.


As NBJC continues to grow and we continue to march forward in this movement for full equality, we encourage you to hold us accountable and know that NBJC belongs to you.



In this issue of the E-Digest: Black pastors speak out in support of marriage equality; the fight for transgender equality continues; one mother supports her son dressing as a princess for Halloween; and more.


gayjudgeObama Nominates Gay African-American Judge to Federal Bench 


On November 14, President Barack Obama nominated seven judges to the federal bench, including the president's first out African-American nominee. Judge William L. Thomas was nominated by Obama on Wednesday to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In a statement, Obama called on the Senate to promptly consider his nominees as too many courtroom benches remain unfilled.



fourstepsMarriage Equality Takes Four Steps Forward 

– Washington Post    


"It is clear that marriage-equality opponents are fighting a losing battle and our movement for full equality is at a tipping point," said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition. "More and more Americans are realizing that LGBT people deserve the same protections to care for the people they love." 



friendfoeBlack Churches May Be More Friend Than Foe to Gay Congregants 

– Center for American Progress    



Sharon Lettman-Hicks, president and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, suggests that the fruits of this relationship between black gay and transgender Americans and their churches far outweigh any anti-gay energy that might surface. "The data tells us the truth that we see daily in our lives, families, churches and communities–a narrative quite different from the ones we witness in the media and in the political arena."  


sandyLGBT Groups Recover from Hurricane Sandy 

– Windy City Times     



As the East Coast (particularly New York and New Jersey) recovers from the damage that Hurricane Sandy recently caused, a few LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations provided updates to Windy City Times (through personal emails or statements) about how things are — Sharon Lettman-Hicks, National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC): "The NBJC team has returned safely to our office in Washington, D.C. We have not let the storm slow our mobilization efforts as Election Day quickly approaches. Our hearts and prayers go out to the individuals and families also affected by the hurricane."  

silencegoldenSilence is Golden on Gay Issues 

– Washington Post    



While Obama and Romney haven't talked much about LGBT issues during the general election, where they stand is very clear. "From President Obama's impeccable record, it's clear who is on our side and who supports our community," said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director and chief executive officer of the National Black Justice Coalition. "From repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' to plainly stating his position on marriage equality, President Obama's commitment to LGBT Americans is indisputable." As always, actions speak louder than words. 


notinvisibleOP-ED: Study Proves Black LGBT Community No Longer Invisible 

– theGrio     


The proof is in the pudding. Black LGBT people are here and they're here to stay. However, nothing is more important for full equality than being out, particularly if you're black and gay. We have the data, now it's time to have the dialogue. The black LGBT community needs to be visible, be proud, and live their lives–authentically and unapologetically. It is up to black America to start the often hard-to-have conversations within our homes, churches, schools and workplaces. There's a proud and out family of tens of thousands of black LGBT people and allies ready and waiting to welcome our black LGBT brothers and sisters home. 



beyondLGBTOP-ED: Maryland and Beyond: What This Election Means for Black LGBT Love and Families

– Black AIDS Weekly


His re-election is critical to the future of our movement, marriage equality and our families. President Obama has consistently made historic strides in support of freedom and fairness, and will undoubtedly continue to do so during his second term. His moral leadership serves as a compass for the rest of our country as more and more Americans continue to realize that LGBT people deserve the same protections that are so fundamental to our nation's values.

mdcampaignMARYLAND: NBJC Campaigns for Marriage Equality in Maryland  




NBJC adopted three precincts on Election Day to campaign for the "Vote for Question 6" campaign. The NBJC team volunteered on the ground in Prince George's County encouraging registered voters to make their way to the polls, and more importantly, make an informed decision that will protect and benefit Black families. Justice and fairness prevailed. While freedom and equality should not be subject to a popular vote, NBJC celebrates this historic win for families in the state of Maryland.  



faithleadersNEW YORK CITY: NBJC Executive Director Keynotes at LGBT Faith Leaders Forum   


NBJC's Sharon Lettman-Hicks served as the keynote speaker at the LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent's "Empowering Ourselves: Using Faith as Our Anchor" fall forum. The conference illuminated the intersections between faith and Black LGBT identity. NBJC provided resources on bridging the gaps between the Black LGBT faith community and political action, including information on advocacy trainings and other opportunities to help hone attendees' advocacy prowess and policy acumen.



hbcucareersWASHINGTON, DC: NBJC Serves as Panelist at HBCU Leadership and Career Summit




NBJC Programs and Outreach Associate, Je-Shawna Wholley, served on the panel "Faith, Family, Friends and Other Challenges" during the 2012 Human Rights Campaign (HRC) HBCU Leadership and Career Summit. The summit aims to develop a potent group of HBCU LGBT student leaders to advocate for LGBT equality and social justice issues on campus and in their communities. The panelists talked about their personal life journey and how they were able to overcome certain challenges that they may have faced due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. 



telelectureOREGON: NBJC Hosts Tele-Lecture at Western Oregon University




NBJC hosted a tele-lecture on the state of the LGBT movement as it pertains to the African-American community at Western Oregon University. NBJC Executive Director Sharon Lettman-Hicks delivered the message educating the community on LGBT equality and racial justice, providing constituents with tools and resources to educate their community on LGBT grassroots advocacy. Students were encouraged to join NBJC's Emerging Leaders Network. 



inclusiontrainVIRGINIA: NBJC Attends Campus Diversity and Inclusion Training 



Je-Shawna Wholley attended a diversity training hosted by Virginia Tech's Diversity Development Institute. This Institute is designed to enhance diversity and inclusion efforts that contribute to the core mission of Virginia Tech. It provides faculty and staff the opportunity to engage in educational sessions and interactive workshops through multiple learning methods. The session attended was entitled "Introduction to Diversity and Inclusion: Awareness – Action" and was facilitated by Dr. Jamie Washington. In this one-day workshop, participants learned the basic concepts and terminology used to converse about diversity and inclusion, including the key components for creating an inclusive learning environment and examining the concepts of power, privilege, and discrimination.  



transtestimonyBlack, Trans & Proud: Send Us Your Testimonies and Raise Black Trans Visibility!



In honor of Transgender Awareness Week, NBJC is collecting submissions for our "Black, Trans & Proud" campaign. Taking place Tuesday, November 13 through Tuesday, November 20, Transgender Awareness Week celebrates people who identify as transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, masculine-of-center, two-spirit, and other trans identities. Participating is easy! Simply send us your photos (or videos) explaining in a few sentences why you're proud to be Black and trans.


Email your submissions to NBJC Director of Communications, Kimberley McLeod, at Tweet your photos @NBJContheMove with the hash tag #BlackTransProud or post them on our Facebook page


pointscholarshipApply for the Point Foundation Academic Scholarship 



Point is the largest foundation to provide academic scholarships exclusively to LBGT students. The Point Foundation is now accepting applications for 2013-2014 scholarships. LGBTQ students enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in the 2013-2014 academic year are eligible. Applications are only accepted online. Individuals may also nominate a student, or download an application information flyer. We encourage our Black LGBT Emerging Leaders to take advantage of this opportunity. Apply here!


fellowsfulltimeStaff Announcement: From Fellows to Fulltime Employees, NBJC Adds New Staff Associates to the Team 



NBJC has named Rodney K. Nickens, Jr. as the Policy and Networks Associate and Je-Shawna Wholley as the Programs and Outreach Associate. In his new role, Nickens will guide and support NBJC's federal legislative strategies. Wholley will build and strengthen NBJC's relationships with community partners.


"From day one, Rodney and Je-Shawna have been invaluable additions to the team. Their commitment to NBJC is undeniable," says Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer. "They have proven time and time again that as emerging leaders, their innovation and enthusiasm is critical to propelling this movement forward."


Read full announcement here.

bidenBiden Says Transgender Discrimination 'Civil Rights Issue of Our Time'   

– Politico



Biden has long been a vocal advocate for LGBT rights — most memorably getting out "a little bit over his skies," as President Obama put it — when Biden endorsed same sex marriage before the president did earlier this year. The vice president met with LGBT leaders at his Washington, D.C., home last month, including transgender advocates, according to the Easton Patch. The Obama-Biden administration was the first to send a representative to a trans-gender conference.




transexitpollTrans Voters Excluded in Election Exit Poll   

– Washington Blade


A national polling firm retained by a consortium of five TV networks and the Associated Press will include gay, lesbian, and bisexual voters in its presidential election exit poll on Nov. 6. But Joe Lenski, executive vice president of the New Jersey based Edison Research polling firm, told the Blade on Thursday that the exit poll won't seek to identify transgender voters through a lengthy questionnaire given to voters as they leave polling places across the country.




transrightsContinuing the Fight for Transgender Rights 

Huffington Post 


This year has witnessed transgender pioneers set impressive precedent in the ongoing struggle against the multiple levels of discrimination faced by the community. In June, activist and attorney Kylar Broadus became the first transgender witness to testify before the Senate, relaying his experience of discrimination in defense of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). A few months earlier, the Transgender Law Center led a landmark case that resulted in an EEOC ruling that extended employment protection rights to transgender individuals throughout the country. Despite the significant gains in the movement for transgender equality, there still remain strict barriers for trans people when it comes to accessing health care, housing, education and economic advancement.



youthmurderAuthorities: Boy, 14, Charged with Far South Side Murder 

– Chicago Tribune  

A 14-year-old boy is accused of fatally shooting an 18-year-old [openly gay] man earlier this month in the Far South Side's Jeffery Manor neighborhood, authorities said. The boy, who is not being named because of his age, appeared in Juvenile Court today after being charged as a juvenile with murder for the fatal shooting Oct. 19, according to Cook County state attorney's office spokesman Andy Conklin.



famuhazingJudge to FAMU Hazing Defendant: 'I Think Your Life is Worth Saving'

– Los Angeles Times  

The first of a dozen defendants in the death of a Florida A&M drum major avoided prison time and was sentenced to probation and community service after he tearfully apologized for a hazing ritual that went tragically awry… "How are we going to keep going if we don't hold these people responsible?" the father said. "This is the time for you to stand up and show others you were responsible for what you did."

electionengagementMaryland Lesbian Couple Gets Engaged At Obama's Election Night Celebration 

– Huffington Post



Election Night proved significant on a more personal level for one Maryland-based lesbian couple. Keesha Patterson of Ft. Washington, Md. popped the question to her girlfriend Rowan Ha during the reelection celebration for President Barack Obama in Chicago.  Fortunately for the happy couple, they'll soon be able to tie the knot for real right at home as Maryland joined Maine in affirming same-sex marriage by a popular vote on Election Night.




blackgayvoteThe Black Vote for Gay Marriage 

– New York Times     

Yoruba Richen has been shooting "The New Black," the film from which this Op-Doc video is adapted, for the past three years. In the course of production, she realized that the issue of gay rights in the black community is in many ways a fight over the African-American family, which has been a contested space since the time of slavery. So marriage is not just about marriage for black people – it's also about how blacks have become accepted as legitimate participants in American society. Now this issue is playing out in Maryland. In February, the State Legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. And just as with Proposition 8 in California, opponents to this bill collected enough signatures to put it on the ballot. 




ebonymarriageMaryland Voters Approve Same Sex Marriage Law 


While much of the world's attention last night was focused on the electoral map and what would eventually become a landslide re-election for President Barack Obama, history was also made right outside Washington D.C in the state of Maryland. About 52 percent of the voters said "yes" to Question 6 and chose to uphold the state's same-sex marriage law, according to the Maryland Board of Elections.


justiceforall'With Liberty and Justice for ALL'

– Washington Post  


As an African-American Christian pastor, I cannot stand on the side of those who would attempt to justify legalized discrimination under the guise of religious belief. The denial of rights to some based upon religious belief sets the precedent for the denial of rights to others based upon religious belief as well, and that would be a very dangerous public policy precedent to establish in America. As a Christian in America, I believe that my charge is to live in my faith, not to legislate it, and as long as the state does not seek to regulate the church, the church should not seek to regulate the state.



fivetakeawaysFive Takeaways from Election Day 

Washington Blade 




Hailed as a watershed moment for the LGBT movement, Election Day yielded several milestones that political observers say will have a profound impact on the advancement of LGBT rights and marriage equality going forward. Here are five takeaways from an evening that saw wins for marriage equality at the ballot and the election for the first time of an openly gay U.S. Senate candidate – not to mention the re-election of a U.S. president who endorsed marriage equality.





kickKICK – The Agency for LGBT African Americans Hosts Voter Engagement Forum 

KICK YouTube Channel



LGBT mobilization, project of KICK – The Agency for LGBT African Americans, hosted the second Voter Engagement Forum on, Thursday, November 1 at Wayne State University. The Voter Engagement Forum, a moderated, panel style forum encouraged attendees to GET OUT AND VOTE, presented the preliminary findings from the LGBT Voter Ask survey and allowed voters to see and discuss the ballot ahead of today's general election. Discussions were held about the proposals on the ballot, what they meant to voters, gave an opportunity to both sides of the proposals to explain their position and why voters should vote for them.





youngpeoplereportNew Report Examines Political Impact of Young People of Color in the 2012 Election 

Black Youth Project


Young people played a pivotal role in the 2008 election. As previous reports in this series have shown, in 2008 young people turned out to vote at the highest rates since 18-year-olds received the right to vote in 1972. Moreover, this increase in turnout was driven entirely by higher levels of turnout among people of color-particularly young Blacks and Latinos. During the 2012 presidential campaigns, many people doubted that these high levels of engagement could be sustained. In this report, the Black Youth Project outlines the role played by young people-particularly young people of color-in the 2012 election.



out100The White House is an OUT100 Honoree 

– OUT Magazine


Just this past spring, President Obama declared his official (fully evolved) support for marriage equality. While it's taken a while for him to get there, many inside the Beltway have long been out and proud. This portrait of 14 dedicated government employees — from a special advisor in the U.S. Department of State to the director of specialty media in the White House Office of Communications — symbolizes the full breadth and diversity of the LGBT staff under the Obama-Biden administration.

The list includes Ashlee Davis, Staff Assistant, Office of Presidential Personnel, the White House; Gautam Raghavan, Associate Director, Office of Public Engagement, the White House; and Monique Dorsainvil, Deputy Director of Advance and Special Events, Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the White House.




colorprincessWhat Color Is Your Princess? 

– New York Times     

Last Halloween, my 3-year-old son wanted to be a princess. Assuming this was similar to his robot and rock star phases, I broached the subject again a few days after his initial declaration. "Bug, what do you want to be for Halloween?" "A princess," he said, his Spider-Man backpack bobbing as we walked hand-in-hand to school. I discovered his idea of a princess had blond hair and peach-colored skin.




malawiMalawi Lauded on Anti-Gay Law Moratorium 

– ABC News

Going against a trend in Africa, Malawi's government is moving to suspend laws against being gay and has ordered police not to arrest people for same-sex acts until the anti-gay laws are reviewed by parliament. Human Rights Watch called the decision "courageous" and said it should inspire other countries that criminalize [being gay].


healingdetroitHealing Detroit: Health and Wellness Expo


Saturday, November 17, 2012

8:30 am – 4:00 pm

Hannan House

4750 Woodward Avenue

Detroit, MI 48201


This free, community-wide health & wellness expo will focus specifically on issues of importance to the black community, including HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart disease, mental health, domestic violence and smoking cessation. Topics will include HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart disease, addition, mental, domestic violence and smoking cessation. The event is open to the public.


For more information, visit



projectdbgmProjectDBGM Gala and Premiere


Saturday, November 17, 2012

7:00 pm

Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz

Memorial and Educational Center

3940 Broadway Avenue

New York, NY 10032 


ProjectDBGM is a three-in-one project: a book, currently being written, in which Black gay men share stories of their struggle and suffering with depression; a documentary You Are Not Alone, in which Black gay men are breaking a taboo and speaking out about their depression, how they coped and survived; and community discussion forums which serve to raise awareness of depression in Black gay men who are empowered to rebuild their self esteem, boot their confidence and develop trust, to reach out for help, so as to heal, realize and achieve their potential in life. Tickets cost $50. Proceeds benefit DBGM.


Purchase tickets at




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.