President Barack Obama, already known as the first U.S. president to advocate for gay rights during an inauguration speech, just became the first Commander-In-Chief to pose for the cover of an LGBT magazine.
Gracing the cover of OUT magazine’s OUT 100 issue as “Ally of the Year” comes as no surprise — Obama is likely to go down in history as one of the most progressive presidents, if not the only one who has fought so tirelessly for LGBTQ rights. Shortly after taking office, Obama signed a bill repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. And in June, after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide, Obama delivered an emotional address to the nation, calling it a “victory for America.”
“This is the first time a sitting president has been photographed for the cover of an LGBT title, a historic moment in itself, and a statement on how much his administration has done to advance a singularly volatile issue that tarnished the reputations of both President Clinton and President Bush,” OUT’s editor-in-chief Aaron Hicklin wrote.
Obama granted the magazine an interview that highlighted his own upbringing and how it affects his perspective on equality.
“My mom instilled in me the strong belief that every person is of equal worth,” Obama told Hicklin. “At the same time, growing up as a black guy with a funny name, I was often reminded of exactly what it felt like to be on the outside. One of the reasons I got involved in politics was to help deliver on our promise that we’re all created equal, and that no one should be excluded from the American dream just because of who they are. That’s why, in the Senate, I supported repealing DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act]. It’s why, when I ran for president the first time, I publicly asked for the support of the LGBT community, and promised that we could bring about real change for LGBT Americans.”
He also discussed how daughters Sasha and Malia have helped him recognize the generational shift in attitudes towards the LGBTQ community, urging for the end of damaging conversion therapy for young people that doesn’t allow them “to be who they are.”
“To Malia and Sasha and their friends, discrimination in any form against anyone doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t dawn on them that friends who are gay or friends’ parents who are same-sex couples should be treated differently than anyone else,” Obama said. “That’s powerful. My sense is that a lot of parents across the country aren’t going to want to sit around the dinner table and try to justify to their kids why a gay teacher or a transgender best friend isn’t quite as equal as someone else. That’s also why it’s so important to end harmful practices like conversion therapy for young people and allow them to be who they are. The next generation is spurring change not just for future generations, but for my generation, too. As president, and as a dad, that makes me proud. It makes me hopeful.”
Jamaica is set to hold its first gay pride celebration next week. Security concerns prevent a parade, but organizers have planned a full week of events. This is monumental because Jamaica is a country that is known for extreme homophobia. According to the Human Rights Watch, Jam Rock’s LGBT population lives in constant fear, and anyone who listens to (and understands) dancehall may be familiar with anti-gay sentiment in a lot of the music where many artists make references to “burning the chi chi man,” etc. Marriage between men is is also illegal in the country, which is a holdover from British Colonial law.
However, the festivities will commence from August 1-8 in the nation’s capital city, Kingston. This is also concurrent with Jamaica’s Emancipation and Independence celebration. Festivities will include a flash mob, an opening ceremony, an art exhibition, an open mic night, a flag raising ceremony, and a coming out symposium that will feature allies to the community, reports the Advocate.
“We will pause the negative vibrations from anti-gay lobby groups and focus on the strides we have made as a community. More importantly, we will recommit to initiatives that see us moving forward as one community,” said Latoya Nugent, the associate director of the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG).
President Barack Obama plans to sign an order banning discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees by companies that do business with the federal government, a long-sought goal of gay rights organizations. After months of calling on Congress to pass a strong anti-discrimination law, Obama told his staff to come up with an executive order banning discrimination by federal contractors, a White House official said Monday.
The measure will prohibit those firms from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The move would implement on a limited scale what the White House would like to see Congress pass into law for everyone to follow. “This is consistent with the president’s views that all Americans, LGBT or not, should be treated with dignity and respect,” the official said.
Although several states have laws that ban discrimination against gays in the workplace, many do not. In those states, an employer can legally fire, demote or otherwise discriminate against a worker solely on grounds of sexual orientation.
Gay rights advocates say the executive order could provide employment protections for about 11 million workers who have none. The order comes after years in which the president has called on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and thereby make it unlawful for any employer to fire or censure a worker based on sexual orientation.
President Obama has officially declared June to be Pride Month, releasing a lengthy statement on the issue a few days ago. He said in part, “During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, we celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains. The United States calls on every nation to join us in defending the universal human rights of our LGBT brothers and sisters.”
In an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, President Barack Obama on Tuesday night said that he expected Russia to welcome gay and lesbian athletes to the 2014 Sochi Olympics because the country has “a big stake in making sure the Olympics work.” The conversation stemmed from a question Leno asked about the treatment of the LGBT community in Russia, which Leno characterized as a place where “homosexuality is against the law.”
A top Russian government official recently stated that, even during the Olympics, the country would enforce a new law that prohibits “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations around minors.” The law, signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin in June, also bans public events that promote gay rights and public displays of affection by same-sex couples.
The International Olympic Committee has stated publicly that athletes and visitors attending the 2014 Sochi Games in Russia will not be affected by the anti-gay legislation. “I mean, this seems like Germany,” Leno said. “Let’s round up the Jews, let’s round up the gays, let’s round up the blacks. I mean, it starts with that. You round up people who you don’t — I mean, why is not more of the world outraged at this?”
President Obama responded that he had “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”
Washington D.C.— Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin) released a statement Monday in celebration and recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride month, which occurs annually in June.
Despite the fact the homosexuality is often a taboo topic in the black community, Moore has chosen to embrace members of the LGBT community and their accomplishments during this month.
“LGBT Pride Month is a time to celebrate the progress we have made towards achieving equality for all Americans regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Moore in her statement.
Moore has shown her support by participating in the NOH8 marriage and gender equality campaign, a charitable organization that advocates for the LGBT community and their rights, in addition to efforts to include LGBT members in her Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Also, in her statement Moore encouraged others to recognize the work that needs to be done to improve the opportunities for members of the LGBT community as well as appreciate the diversity that they offer our nation.
Moore takes pride in her LGBT friends and allies in politics stating, “I am also proud to celebrate my Wisconsin friends and LGBT Members of Congress – Senator Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay United States Senator and Representative Mark Pocan, whose husband became the first LGBT partner to receive a Congressional spousal ID.”
NBA center Jason Collins has become the first athlete in a major American team sport to come out as gay during his playing career. In a personal essay set to publish in Sports Illustrated, Collins begins, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport,” he continues. “But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”
Previously, Collins wore No. 98 in honor of Matthew Shepard, a student at Wyoming who was tortured and murdered just outside of Laramie, Wyo., in October of 1998. During the trial, reports indicated that Sheppard was targeted because he was a gay man.
“I had no intentions of speaking that night. [I] heard some of my colleagues speak, and I just felt like now is a really good time to do it. My heart was pounding through my suit. I just felt like it was time.”
Donte’ Stallworth #19 of the New England Patriots works out before a preseason game with the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium on August 20, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
NFL wide receiver Donté Stallworth has joined the group Athlete Ally and their fight against homophobia in sports. Athlete Ally is a non-profit organization aimed at educating and encouraging individual athletes to respect every member of their communities, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Fellow NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo, who came out in support of LGBT rights, is chairman of Athlete Ally’s advisory board.
“I realize that every day is a gift and you need to do the most with the time that you have,” Stallworth said in a statement. “Joining my friend Brendon Ayanbadejo and the other NFL Ambassadors today is my way of helping make our game better. We need to build a support system in the NFL so that every player can be who they are, play their best, and live life to the fullest.”
CLEVELAND, Ohio — A federal jury awarded $13.2 million to a former housing authority security officer Friday after finding two Cleveland detectives fabricated or withheld evidence at his 2000 murder trial.
David Ayers, 56, who spent 11 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, and several jurors wept as the verdict against detectives Denise Kovach and Michael Cipo was read in U.S. District Court.
“These detectives didn’t do their jobs at all,” juror Stephanie Kocian told The Plain Dealer in an interview. “They manipulated the evidence, and didn’t look at anyone else except the most convenient suspect to convict. The word ‘railroaded’ was thrown around the jury room during deliberations.”
At the time of his 1999 arrest, Ayers had been working for more than eight years as a security officer with the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. He was accused and eventually convicted of the beating death 76-year-old Dorothy Brown, who lived in a CMHA high rise in Cleveland.
Ayers continued to maintain his innocence, filing appeals while serving a life prison term for aggravated murder. He finally prevailed in 2011, when DNA tests proved that a single pubic hair found in Brown’s mouth did not come from him.