Regnerus Doc Dump

Today, to coincide with the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, I am releasing public records that are relevant to the controversy surrounding Mark Regnerus and the publication of his discredited, anti-gay New Family Structures Study.

These documents were obtained through open records requests. The University of Central Florida is still withholding certain records covered under a request I made of them, and my lawsuit — which seeks to compel the release of said records — is currently pending in circuit court in Orange County, Florida.
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Remembering the UpStairs Lounge Fire

upstairs_loungeForty years ago today, on June 24, 1973, thirty-two people lost their lives after a fire broke out in the UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

The fire was set by an arsonist, believed to have been an unruly patron who had been ejected from the bar earlier that same evening. He returned to the building and set the stairwell leading to the second-floor UpStairs Lounge ablaze, cutting off the main escape route.

Upon discovering the inferno, the bartender began leading people to safety on the roof through a back exit. Approximately twenty people escaped with their lives before that exit became unusable, but dozens remained trapped inside. Bars on the windows, intended to prevent revelers from falling, prevented their escape from the blaze.

As smoke and flames engulfed the building, many who had managed to escape stood by helplessly and watched as their friends and lovers burned to death. George Mitchell, an assistant pastor at New Orleans’ Metropolitan Community Church — which held services in the bar — got out, but quickly returned to rescue his boyfriend, Louis Broussard. Their bodies were found in the charred rubble of the UpStairs Lounge, clinging to each other. The MCC’s pastor, Rev. Bill Larson, made it to a window but could not squeeze through the 14-inch gap in the bars. He got stuck halfway and died screaming “Oh God, no!” as the flames consumed his flesh.

It was the deadliest fire in New Orleans history and remains the largest mass murder of LGBT people ever to occur in the United States. Yet public officials in New Orleans reacted with a mixture of silence and indifference. Continue reading

Tone-Deaf: Michelle Shocked Playing SF on Pride Day

In what can only be described as a shocking display of tone deafness, San Francisco Examiner president Todd Vogt announced via Twitter this weekend that the newspaper will present folk singer Michelle Shocked live in a free concert in San Francisco at the end of this month:

Readers will remember Shocked as the singer whose career imploded in March after she stunned a San Francisco audience with a vicious onstage homophobic tirade.

Shocked infamously remarked:

So it’s not too late. You can jump into this Jesus gang anytime you want. But, um, I was in a prayer meeting yesterday, and you’ve gotta appreciate how scared, how scared folks on that side of the equation are. I mean, from their vantage point — and I really shouldn’t say ‘their,’ because it’s mine, too — we are nearly at the end of time. And from our vantage point, we’re gonna be, uhhh, I think maybe Chinese water torture is gonna be the means, the method — once Prop 8 gets, uh, instated, and once, um, preachers are held at gunpoint and forced to marry the homosexuals, I’m pretty sure that that will be the signal for Jesus to come on back.

And it got worse from there — Shocked even said “God hates faggots” at one point. Continue reading

Like My Work? Help Me Out! Vol. 2

Hello, readers!

I hope you’re all enjoying a great start to your week, and that you’ve also been enjoying my blogging on this site and over at the Bilerico Project.

bilerico_logoCome to think of it, I don’t know if I’ve ever announced it here, but last month I was named the Bilerico Project‘s Managing Editor! I’m incredibly honored that Bilerico Founder and Editor-in-Chief (and dear friend) Bil Browning has entrusted me with the management of his site, which is one of the biggest and most important LGBT blogs in the country. Of course, I plan on continuing to update this site as I’m able, but Bilerico will be my primary blog home. I hope you’ll all bookmark Bilerico and continue following me there as well! Things have been amazing with Bilerico so far — last week, for example, I joined the White House press pool for the first time, covering President Obama’s remarks at a reception for LGBT Pride Month. Neat, huh?

I also wanted to share that I’ve been selected to receive a full scholarship to attend the 2013 Netroots Nation conference this week in San Jose, California as an LGBT blogger/journalist. Netroots Nation is an annual convention for American progressive political activists, and these scholarships are competitive. I’m grateful to have been selected!

My scholarship covers transportation, hotels, and registration for Netroots Nation and the LGBT Netroots Connect pre-conference. What it does not cover, however, are expenses like baggage fees and meals during the five days I’ll be in San Jose. And that’s why I’m turning to you for help: would you be willing to kick in a couple bucks to help sponsor me while I’m at Netroots Nation? If so, please click the button below — or at the top of the page — to donate.

donation_jarAs I’ve written before, LGBT blogging is something one does for the love, not for the money. Most of us aren’t paid to do what we do. In my case, Bilerico generates some ad revenue, but the money for each month doesn’t come in until a month or two later, which means that this first month and a half here in DC has been rough.

If you appreciate my work and think I make a valuable, worthwhile contribution to the fight for LGBT equality — and you’re in a position to toss a few dollars my way to help cover my costs at Netroots Nation — please click the button below to donate.

Thank you so much for your continued support, and for all you do to help make a difference. Onward to equality!

Home State Pride: Vermont & Wisconsin

Bil and Jerame, both Indiana natives, are going to the White House today for a reception honoring the Indiana Fever, which just won the WNBA championship. Bil jokes that yesterday was the White House LGBT Pride reception, but today is Hoosier Pride at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

In that spirit, I thought I’d share two news items that make me proud of the states I’ve called home: Wisconsin and Vermont.

door_county_colorsFirst, Wisconsin. I haven’t found many reasons to take pride in my birth state lately, but I couldn’t help smiling when I read a press release announcing Door County’s inaugural “Commit with Pride” weekend, scheduled for September 20-22.

The weekend, hosted by the Door County Visitor Bureau, revolves around a mass commitment ceremony to be held on the waterfront at the Stone Harbor Resort in Sturgeon Bay. Rev. Richard Feyen of Hope United Church of Christ will officiate. The end of September is the beginning of Wisconsin’s fall colors season, so the setting should be especially beautiful.

Same-sex couples in Wisconsin are forbidden from marrying each other by a constitutional marriage discrimination amendment, and with anti-LGBT Republicans in firm control of state government, repeal efforts are dead in the water for the time being. So it’s especially encouraging to see tourism groups and faith leaders stepping up and providing other creative opportunities for couples to make meaningful commitments to each other. Continue reading

Obama at Pride Reception: “We’re Not Done Yet”

IMG_9497President Barack Obama told over one hundred invited guests, journalists, and public officials at his annual LGBT Pride Month reception at the White House today that many hearts, minds, and laws have moved towards equality during the course of his administration, but much work remains to be done.

The President ticked off a long list of LGBT rights milestones achieved since he took office in 2009, including the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act, strengthening the Violence Against Women Act to protect LGBT victims, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the implementation of policies that treat transgender Americans “with dignity and respect,” and the administration’s order to hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid funds that they treat all patients equally.

“[From] Minnesota to Maryland, from the United States Senate to the NBA, it’s clear we’re reaching a turning point,” Obama said. “We’ve become not just more accepting; we’ve become more loving, as a country, and as a people.”

Obama also told the story of Susan, a PFLAG mom from Ohio, who wrote to him expressing concern about the harassment many LGBT people experience in the workplace. He said he shared Susan’s concern, and reiterated his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA):

“In 34 states, you can be fired just because of who you are or who you love. That’s wrong. We’ve got to change it. There’s a bipartisan bill moving forward in the Senate that would ban discrimination against all LGBT Americans in the workplace, now and forever. We need to get that passed. I want to sign that bill. We need to get it done now. And I think we can make that happen — because after the last four and a half years, you can’t tell me things can’t happen.”

However, Obama did not commit to signing an executive order forbidding federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people in the workplace, despite increasing pressure from activists, LGBT organizations, and gay and lesbian members of Congress to do so.

Obama promised to “keep pushing” for the LGBT community by expanding access to affordable health care for people with HIV, supporting efforts in states like Illinois to legalize marriage equality, and implementing the LGBT protections in the Affordable Care Act.

He also mentioned his commitment to fighting for better and safer schools, and to protecting kids from gun violence, saying that recent setbacks in the push for tighter gun safety laws show that progressive change doesn’t always come smoothly:

“…as we saw earlier this year with the gun safety debate, sometimes this stuff takes time, and it’s frustrating. You take two steps forward and sometimes there’s a step back. But I deeply believe in something that Martin Luther King, Jr. said often, and that is that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. Eventually, America gets it right.

That doesn’t mean we can be patient. We know from our own history that change happens because people push to make it happen. We’ve got to do the hard work of educating others, showing empathy to others, changing hearts and minds. And when we do that, then change occurs. It doesn’t come always as quickly as we like, but progress comes.”

The full text of President Obama’s remarks at the reception for LGBT Pride Month, after the jump. Continue reading

French Mayor Refuses to Obey Marriage Equality Law, Faces Jail

coloJean-Michel Colo, mayor of the southwestern French city of Arcangues, is making headlines by openly defying the country’s new marriage equality law and refusing to marry same-sex couples, in violation of his civic responsibilities.

In an interview with France Television, Colo said:

When people close the door at home, they do what they want. For me, marriage is for a woman and man to have children. I am not discriminating as a same-sex couple is sterile. It’s a parody of equality, it’s a big lie.

While Colo is of course free to believe whatever he wishes in the privacy of his own heart, he is not free to pick and choose what laws he wishes to obey in his official capacity as Mayor of Arcangues. And to the French government’s credit, they aren’t backing down from enforcing the new marriage equality law: Interior Minister Manuel Valls told the media that Colo faced “significant sanctions” if he refused to comply, saying that the mayor would be guilty of discrimination, which is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of €45,000 ($59,769).

The Committee to Defend Gay Rights says it will formally report Colo for discrimination if he does not back down from his exclusionary threats.