Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Columbus HRC Gala Line-up Announced

We are PLEASED to announce the guests of the 28th Columbus Gala will be in the company of several FANTASTIC and TALENTED individuals.

1) Mantryx (, the talented aerial acrobat act, will be joining us this year with an ALL NEW act.

2) Gavin Creel ( will be singing one of his hit songs. Born in Findlay, Ohio, Creel released his debut CD, Goodtimenation, in March 2006. Creel, who is openly gay, is a regular on the LGBT RFamilyVacations cruise with Rosie O'Donnell. He is also one of the founders, with Rory O'Malley, of Broadway Impact, an organization fighting for equality and the LBGT community. He recently released his second album, a six song EP titled Quiet. Upon release, Quiet climbed the iTunes charts snagging No. 41 in albums. In addition, for the first time, Gavin entered the Billboard "Heatseekers Albums" at No. 44 with the Quiet.
Broadway Performances
2002 - Thoroughly Modern Millie as Jimmy Smith (Tony Award nomination for Best Actor)
2004 - Hair (Actors' Fund Concert)
2004 - La Cage aux Folles as Jean-Michel
2009 - Hair as Claude (Tony Award nomination for Best Actor) - Left March 7, 2010 to begin run on the West end

3) Kathy Najimy (, most recently seen on Desperate Housewives, Drop Dead Diva, Ugly Betty and the hysterical RuPauls Drag Race, as well, as Hocus Pocus and the Sister Act movies, will be performing her brand new, never-before-seen monologue. Kathy has appeared in over 20 films including a starring role in Hocus Pocus and RatRace, Hope Floats, Nevada, Cats Don’t Dance, Zack And Reba, This Is My Life, The Fisher King, Say Uncle, (best actress Philadelphia Film fest) Soapdish, and The Hard Way, and Step Up 3D, with cameo appearances in It's Pat, The Wedding Planner, Jeffrey, The Big K and Margaret Cho's: Bam Bam and Celeste, and 2 Sisters. She's currently filming My Mothers Curse with Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen. Take a look at this great video from Kathy and her husband Dan Finnerty in support of Equality...

PBS’s Independent Lens Premiers Documentary on Two Spirits

6/14Event Starting Date: June 14, 2011 6:00 pm

Event Details: Independent Lens: Two Spirits June 14, 2011

Two Spirits interweaves the tragic story of a mother’s loss of her son with a revealing look at the largely unknown history of a time when the world wasn’t simply divided into male and female and many Native American cultures held places of honor for people of integrated genders. Powerful and moving, Lydia Nibley’s Two Spirits explores the life and death of Fred Martinez and the ancient Native American two-spirit tradition. Two Spirits will premiere on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by America Ferrera, on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 (check local listings).

Fred Martinez told his mother he felt as if he was both a boy and a girl, and she explained that this is a special gift, according to traditional Navajo culture. But the place where two discriminations meet is a dangerous place to live, and Fred became one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at sixteen. Between tradition and controversy, and freedom and fear, lies the truth—the bravest choice you can make is to be yourself.

Two Spirits explores issues of national concern including the bullying and violence commonly faced by LGBT people, and the epidemic of LGBT teen suicide, and reveals the range of gender expression that has long been seen as a healthy part of many of the indigenous cultures of North America, and of Navajo culture in particular.

To learn more about the film, and the issues involved, visit the companion website for Two Spirits at Get detailed information on the film, watch preview clips, read an interview with the filmmaker, and explore the subject in depth with links and resources. The site also features a Talkback section where viewers can share their ideas and opinions.

Gay and transgender teens find refuge at home created for them

Posted at reposted at

By Theresa Vargas, Published: May 21
In Room 8, the carpet is stained and the walls are bare, except for strips of tape that once held someone else’s photos. But to the 21-year-old getting dressed this morning, the room offers a measure of freedom she has never had: a place where, without judgment, she can slip on a flower-print blouse and shave her face. A place where no one knows Guy Jones, only Sarah Feliciano.

“How does this look?” Sarah asks, sweeping a cobalt blue powder over her eyes. Foundation the color of “soft copper” covers the rest of her face, hiding any hints of a shadow that monthly laser therapy and a daily shave might have missed.

Devin, a transgender male living at the Wanda Alston House in Northeast Washington, reads a poem he wrote. The Wanda Alston House is a place where homeless or near homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth can live for up to 18 months.

 As the District takes significant steps to advance the rights of LGBT residents, the youths who pass through the Wanda Alston House — named after an LGBT leader and mayoral adviser who was killed in 2005 — tell of the vulnerability the community still faces.

In the three-story brick house in Northeast Washington, there are eight bedrooms, each filled with a young person who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. And like Sarah — a transgender woman who until February was sleeping at Reagan National Airport, washing her hair with shampoo fished from the trash — each ended up homeless or close to it.

As the District takes significant strides to advance the rights of LGBT residents — for example, recently legalizing same-sex marriage — the youths who pass through the Wanda Alston House tell of the vulnerability the community still faces. The house, named after an LGBT leader and mayoral adviser who was killed in 2005, is one of a handful of transitional houses in the nation that cater to people who experts say are more likely to become homeless and who, once in that category, pose challenges most shelter systems are unequipped to address. Should a transgender female be placed in a shelter with men or women? Where should a transgender male who still has the anatomy of a woman shower? What about a young gay man?

Recently, two teenagers repeatedly punched and kicked a transgender woman after she used the women’s restroom at a McDonald’s in Baltimore. It was a brutal act, caught on tape, that resulted from what seems a brief crossing of paths. In a homeless shelter, interactions are more immersed. Everything is shared: rooms, showers, dinner tables.

“These kids get swallowed up in the system,” says Brian Watson, who manages the house through the District’s Transgender Health Empowerment program. He says he has seen young people come from shelters who have been sexually abused, ridiculed and, in one case, made to sleep in a common living room instead of a bedroom because she was transgender.

“These are good kids, really good kids,” Watson says. “They just need a chance.”

In Room 1, Devin sits on his bed, a broken guitar and Bible nearby, reading a poem he has written:

I don’t subscribe to their norms. So I must be the enemy. Unsurprisingly, both they and I share the same make up, the same creator, and some of the same sentiments. I too delight in the breeze on a warm summer day. I enjoy traveling even though I haven’t gone very far. I appreciate companionship, a listening ear, a warm heart. Yet somehow these human similarities are disregarded, and I become reducible to a “he/she” or an “it.” An animal, an alien, a traitor.

Devin, a 22-year-old transgender man who asked that his last name not be used, used to wear bright pink Christian Dior glasses and competed in beauty pageants, starting when he was a baby. More than once, he won the title Miss Photogenic.

“I was socialized to be very feminine,” he says. He recalls shopping as a teenager in Connecticut, where he grew up, and picking out the brightest pinks and greens, thinking, “What’s the most girl-like?”

Devin, a transgender male living at the Wanda Alston House in Northeast Washington, reads a poem he wrote. The Wanda Alston House is a place where homeless or near homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth can live for up to 18 months.

 As the District takes significant steps to advance the rights of LGBT residents, the youths who pass through the Wanda Alston House — named after an LGBT leader and mayoral adviser who was killed in 2005 — tell of the vulnerability the community still faces.

Later, while studying pre-med at George Washington University, he joined a sorority.

Still, no matter how much he tried to fit gender norms or received praise, he wasn’t happy. There were times he dreaded showering, would even skip days, because it meant looking at his womanly curves. In darker moments, he says, he questioned life: “I said, ‘I don’t even feel I’ve got a reason to live.’ ”

Before deciding to take testosterone, Devin says, he prayed, fasted and decided: “This is a huge leap of faith, but I really believe I’ll be a more productive human being by taking this.” He was 20, and his father took him to get his first shot.

Eight months passed before Devin wrote his mother and other relatives a letter, telling them of his decision and saying he hoped they could still love him. That’s when he went from studying medicine to facing homelessness.

“She was heartbroken,” Devin says of his mother. She pulled her financial support, and with his college tuition went his housing, he says. “I understand how she feels. In my mother’s eyes, her child died.”

Devin’s girlfriend, who had only dated biologically born men before meeting Devin in college, says the hardest part of his transition has been his family’s “abandonment, just their not being able to handle it.” At the beginning, his mother couldn’t talk to him on the phone without crying and telling him he was going to hell, but now Devin says they have brief conversations. “I hope, and he doesn’t have a choice but to hope,” his girlfriend says, “that someday she’ll be able to spend time with him.”

With testosterone, Devin’s shoulders have grown broader, his face has begun sprouting hair, and his size 38D chest has shrunk so that he can wear a sports bra under baggy clothes without feeling self-conscious. (When he first started dating his girlfriend, she says, he wouldn’t let her see him without a binder constricting his chest). Showering is also no longer an ordeal. Devin says he is now less bothered by his body, one that he has no intention of changing with surgery, except for maybe getting a mastectomy.

“I still see the person I was born as, which I’m in no way trying to deny,” he says. “But I also see this person who is more self-assured and confident.” A person, he says, who sings in a church choir in a voice he never had as a woman.

Almost two dozen names of young people hoping to get in the house sit on a waiting list.

Most of them hear about the place through word of mouth, Watson says. Many grew up in the Washington region. But others came to the area through circumstance: a relationship gone wrong, a parent’s job change, a search for a more tolerant neighborhood.

Residents, ranging in age from 16 to 24, can live at the house for up to 18 months. And in that time, LaShone Hoffman, one of six housing monitors, says she tries to give them the guidance their parents, if they were in the picture, would provide. She teaches them how to bake cakes, how to tie ties, how to shop with coupons.

“I motivate them so I can escalate them,” Hoffman says. For the most part, they don’t just have goals, she says. “They have huge goals.” One wants to become an executive chef and own a chain of restaurants. Another wants to do makeup for the dead because he remembers how his grandmother, the woman who took care of him, looked at her funeral. Another wants to be a pharmacist. Another, a pediatric neurosurgeon or a minister.


Devin, a transgender male living at the Wanda Alston House in Northeast Washington, reads a poem he wrote. The Wanda Alston House is a place where homeless or near homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth can live for up to 18 months.


 As the District takes significant steps to advance the rights of LGBT residents, the youths who pass through the Wanda Alston House — named after an LGBT leader and mayoral adviser who was killed in 2005 — tell of the vulnerability the community still faces.
Live Q&A, 1:30 pm ET

Transgender teens discuss life and homelessness in DC

Ask now

.While studies are sparse, experts say that LGBT youths make up a disproportionate number of the young homeless population. Although only 5 to 10 percent of young people identify as LGBT, they make up anywhere between 20 and 40 percent of homeless youths, said Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. And once they become homeless, she said, research shows they are more susceptible to sexual exploitation, physical abuse and suicide attempts.

In Room 4, three pairs of gray sweatpants sit folded in a drawer. They are what Kadeem Swenson, 19, wore for more than a year to school when his home consisted of a square of stained carpet in an abandoned apartment building.

As Kadeem tells it, he already had a rocky relationship with his parents when at 16 he told them he was gay and they kicked him out of their Maryland house.

For a while, he lived with his grandmother in North Carolina. But if he stayed, he says, he wouldn’t have been able to enroll in school and would’ve had to settle for a GED. “I’m too smart for that,” he says. So he returned to the District and lived with a friend’s family until they moved.

On the night they left, he slept on a park bench near Chinatown. The next day, he walked around the neighborhood near Ballou STAY Senior High School in Southeast Washington and felt lucky when he found the building with plywood-covered windows and an open door.

On a recent afternoon, Kadeem returns there. An unlighted stairwell crunches underfoot with broken glass, chunks of drywall and dirt-caked trash. In one room, a refrigerator sits on its side. In another, a sink rests upside down in a hall closet.

He stops at Room 302.

“This is the one I was in,” he says. On the floor of the bedroom is the small Tweety Bird pillow he slept on. On the wall, a school calendar with his writing. Under the date, Sept. 21, 2010, it reads, “Ms. Lloyd class test.” Under Oct. 12, “College Fair!”

“The plan was to stay here until I went to college,” he says.

For most of 11th grade and part of 12th, Kadeem lived this way, washing up at a grocery store down the street and surviving off fast-food dollar menus. Only when he ran low on money, he says, did he tell school officials. They referred him to Transgender Health.

Next month, Kadeem and one other resident will walk the stage and get their diplomas. Kadeem has enrolled at the University of the District of Columbia and hopes to transfer to an Ivy League school, ideally Harvard, he says. He’s interning with a city official and is practicing sports he hopes will give him an advantage.

“I’ll be a black gay man who plays tennis, golf and rowing,” he says, flashing a wide smile. “Oh, Lord, that has to spark their interest.”


Transgender and gay in D.C.

As the District takes significant steps to advance the rights of LGBT residents, the youths who pass through the Wanda Alston House — named after an LGBT leader and mayoral adviser who was killed in 2005 — tell of the vulnerability the community still faces.

Here is a photo series you should check out.Reposted at, originally posted at the Washington Post website.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Raising a kid without disclosing its sex

Cory Doctorow at 9:22 AM Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kathy Witterick and David Stocker are raising a kid in Toronto without disclosing its sex to anyone except its older siblings and grandparents. Its siblings are boys, but choose whether they wear "girl's" clothes or "boy's" clothes and get to pick their own toys. The parents attribute their childrearing notions to being reared on Free to Be... You and Me. I like the section in the article about bullying: "When faced with inevitable judgment by others, which child stands tall (and sticks up for others) -- the one facing teasing despite desperately trying to fit in, or the one with a strong sense of self and at least two 'go-to' adults who love them unconditionally? Well, I guess you know which one we choose."

"When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, 'Is it a girl or a boy?'" says Witterick, bouncing Storm, dressed in a red-fleece jumper, on her lap at the kitchen table.

"If you really want to get to know someone, you don't ask what's between their legs," says Stocker.

The moment a child's sex is announced, so begins the parade of pink and barrage of blue. Tutus and toy trucks aren't far behind. The couple says it only intensifies with age.

"In fact, in not telling the gender of my precious baby, I am saying to the world, 'Please can you just let Storm discover for him/herself what s (he) wants to be?!." Witterick writes in an email.

RI House Approves Civil Unions

The Rhode Island House has overwhelmingly approved civil unions by a vote of 62-11 after a last-ditch attempt to convert the bill to full marriage equality failed. The bill now goes to the state Senate, where it is predicted to pass easily. Gov. Lincoln Chafee has promised to sign it.

Nissan, Comcast, FedEx, AT&T on verge of getting gay rights law pulled in Nashville

Thursday, May 19, 2011 Posted by John Aravosis (DC) at 5/19/2011 08:16:00 PM at reposted at

It's abominable.

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce - chaired by Nissan, and whose other board members include such companies as Nissan, FedEx, AT&T, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG, Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare - actively lobbied for a religious right bill in the Tennessee legislature that would rescind Nashville's civil rights protections for its gay and trans citizens, and which bans every city in Tennessee from passing any civil rights laws, for anyone, ever again.

The bill passed yesterday. It's on its way to the state's Republican governor for his signature, unless he vetoes it.

And these companies led the way in making it happen. And let me reiterate, these companies aren't just members of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce. These compares are all on the board of directors of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce. They run the TN Chamber.

Joe and I just launched a campaign to pressure the governor to veto the bill, and to punish every company involved in making this bigoted legislation happen. Please join our campaign today and sign this open letter to the companies involved. We're going to be writing a lot about this in the coming days.

Make no mistake, this was legislative gay-bashing at its worst. The legislation was crafted by the religious right in order to repeal Nashville's new ordinance protecting gay and trans residents from discrimination. Apparently not discriminating against their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees was just too much to ask from Nissan, FedEx, AT&T, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG. Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare. According to the TN chamber of commerce, of which they all sit on the board, abiding by such protections would be too much of an "additional burden." Really? It's now a burden to simply not discriminate against your own employees? I'm a lawyer, it's really not that complicated of legal advice. Simply don't discriminate against your employees. How complicated is that? So why would these companies, as board members of the TN chamber, permit their own organization to kill this gay and trans civil rights law?

And don't for a minute buy the chamber's excuse that this is about business, not prejudice. Every other minority is protected in the state under federal law. Gays and trans are not. The law was the idea of the religious right. The lead lobbyist on the law was the religious right. The only victim of the law was the LGBT community. This law was specifically written and intended to repeal Nashville's new civil rights ordinance protecting gay and trans citizens, period.

Tell me again how this was only about business.

And don't think that this is only about Tennessee. If the religious right, and their new corporate henchmen, are successful in repealing current, and banning future, gay rights law in Tennessee, they'll do the same thing in every single state until only a handful of states protect our community.

After all, if the state of Texas were to pass a gay rights law and Tennessee didn't have such a law, then it would be oh so confusing for these poor corporations, having one law in TX and another in TN, and they'd simply have to lobby the Texas legislature to repeal statewide civil rights protections too - right? And if some day America passes ENDA, but, say, Singapore has no such protections, imagine how confusing it would be for poor Nissan and FedEx to have two different laws in two different countries. I guess they'd have no choice but to oppose a federal ENDA too. After all, that is the logic of their "business" argument, isn't it?

This has to stop now.

Nissan, FedEx, AT&T, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG. Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare don't know the meaning of pain. They just ticked off the wrong community.

Please sign our open letter to each of those companies, demanding they immediately withdraw their support for this hateful legislation, and that they tell the governor to veto the bill now.

This is only the first step. We are not going to let these companies get away with this. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shop For A Psychotherapist To Avoid The Lemons

by Nancy Shute

May 16, 2011 NPR article posted at reposted at!/pages/Mental-Health-America-of-Licking-County/123584317683400 and reposted here at

Turn on a TV talk show, and you'll think that everyone in America is in need of mental health counseling. But there are hundreds of different kinds of therapy out there, and it's hard to know which ones work.

Researchers have put a lot of effort into testing different forms of psychotherapy, and they have solid evidence of what works, particularly for common mental problems like depression and anxiety.

But despite that, people can't presume they're going to get the right psychotherapy, according to Alan Kazdin, a clinical psychologist who directs the Yale Parent Center and Child Conduct Clinic. That's partly because therapies don't have a lot of marketing money behind them, unlike new pharmaceuticals. As a result, "The public doesn't know about them and isn't demanding them," he says.

In the past decade, there has been a big push in the mental health community to use evidence-based therapies to treat common mental health problems like depression, anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The STAR*D trial, for instance, found that cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy were as effective as antidepressants in treating major depression.

Shop For Therapy Like You Shop For A TV

But not all therapists have adopted these treatments, and with hundreds of different forms of therapy offered, it's difficult at best for people to figure out what kind of therapy they need, and then find it.

People should be as practical-minded when they shop for therapy as they are when they shop for a flat-screen TV, Kazdin says. And they should ask therapists: Do you use an evidence-based treatment, which one, and how often have you used it?

How To Find Evidence-Based Mental Health Treatment
The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) runs a searchable registry of almost 200 tested treatments.

National Alliance on Mental Illness has information on what families need to know about evidence-based practices.

The National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists lists therapists that meet certain standards for this evidence-based treatment.

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies also has a therapist finder.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance has a "Find A Pro" service with therapists recommended by peers.

Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology lists evidence-based treatment for children and teens.

The American Counseling Association has information on how to find a professional counselor.

"People are now much better shoppers when they seek surgery in hospitals," Kazdin says. "And all we need here is just that same informed nonprovocative questioning about, 'I'm paying for a service and I'm suffering. Am I getting the best I can get?' "

Web resources can help identify treatments that have been tested and proven effective. A searchable database from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) is a good place to start. So are advocacy groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness or the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Once you know what kind of therapies work, professional societies like the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists can help find therapists who have specialized training.

But shopping can be a challenge when you're suffering.

'I Wasn't Sure Where To Turn'

Janet Ohlsen found that out. Three years ago, she started to spiral downward into depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. She was dizzy and couldn't think straight. Once, she told her husband she was going to do laundry; instead, she disappeared into the woods near her home in Erieville, N.Y.

Her physician prescribed antidepressants, but she reacted badly to them and more than once ended up in the emergency room. She diligently researched her various diagnoses and discussed them with her doctor but still had a hard time finding treatment.

"I wasn't sure what was wrong with me," Ohlsen, 54, says. "I wasn't sure where to turn."

A friend who was a clinical social worker recommended a therapist who does psychodynamic therapy. "I was lucky in getting a good therapist right off the bat," Ohlsen says.

Ohlsen has assembled a team to help her manage her mental health: her primary care physician; a psychiatrist who prescribes medication; and her psychotherapist, whom she sees twice a week.

"Counseling is the biggest part of this whole recovery — finding someone you trust, someone you click with," Ohlsen says. She and the psychotherapist have been working together on negative thinking, which is a hallmark of depression.

The Art Of Persuasion

Some therapists fear that the push for evidence-based techniques will restrict their ability to connect with their clients on a deeply human level, that they'll be doing cookbook therapy.

Scott Lilienfeld, a clinical psychologist at Emory University, says a good psychotherapist can do both. He's the author of the book 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior and a frequent critic of ineffective or dangerous therapy. "Most good therapists are good listeners," he says.

That's critical, because psychotherapy done right is hard work. "A lot of psychotherapy is difficult," Lilienfeld says. "It involves getting people to change and try hard things, try new things that people have often been resisting. Part of the role of a good psychotherapist is persuasion. It's getting a person to understand why they should change."

The civil union bait-and-switch: Compromise is far from true marriage equality

By Theodore B. Olson & New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
Editorial in New York Daily News, reposted at

Proponents of same-sex marriage are only a few weeks into a new effort to pass a marriage equality bill in New York State by the end of this year's legislative session, and already there are opposing voices offering civil unions as a potential "compromise." As lawyers from both sides of the aisle who have been entrusted with pursuing the law on behalf of the public, we can agree that this is simply not an acceptable legal alternative.

A civil union reflects a second-class status that fails to protect committed same-sex couples who choose to be married. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue; this is a matter of protecting the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under law for all Americans.

In New York, there are more than 1,300 state rights and responsibilities that come with a marriage license. From spousal inheritance rights to the ability to file joint tax returns to child custody rules to the transferring of workers' compensation benefits, the scope of marriage-related law is expansive. Some are fundamental, others mundane - but all serve to underscore how deeply interwoven New York's marriage laws are and how extraordinarily they reach into the lives of countless people.

Unlike the universally accepted concept of marriage, employers, businesses and individuals simply do not know how to treat civil unions. Several states have experimented with these so-called compromise solutions and have already reached the conclusion that they just don't work.

For example, after New Jersey granted civil unions to gay and lesbian couples, many employers refused to offer them partner benefits because they were not legally married. Hospitals denied them the rights of married couples, checking the "single" box - rather than the "married" box - on patients' admissions forms, thereby denying them access to hospitalized loved ones. Gay and lesbian couples were put at risk in emergencies when they traveled, because civil unions, unlike marriages, are often not recognized across state lines.

All of these legal uncertainties led the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission to ultimately declare civil unions a failure, finding that the separate categorization "invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children."

Many states that have experimented with civil unions have abandoned them and moved to marriage for all couples, citing similar experiences that demonstrate this separate status is not equal. Connecticut and New Hampshire have replaced their civil union statues with marriage for all couples. And legislators in Vermont voted to do the same by a two-thirds, bipartisan majority.

Civil unions were not the right solution for these states and they are not right for New York.

Moreover, civil unions are not what the public is demanding: They are voicing full-throated support for the freedom to marry. Marriage for gay and lesbian couples has stronger across-the-board support from New Yorkers than ever before, with a recent poll showing a solid majority of 58% in favor. As individuals across the state learn more about the issue, that number continues to climb.

Support for marriage spans all demographics, with a majority of support among independent voters and a virtual tie among Republicans in the state. The state Assembly has twice passed marriage legislation, and all 81 pro-marriage legislators who sought reelection in 2008 won, including each of the Republicans who voted in favor of the bill.

The call for equality is picking up steam across the nation as well, with a majority of Americans now in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage for the first time. This growing group of supporters is not calling for the legalization of half-steps or civil unions. They're calling for marriage.

A civil union is not a marriage, nor is it an adequate substitute for one. To suggest otherwise is a cruel fiction. Even if all of the inherent confusion and complexities could be resolved and civil unions could somehow provide couples with the same rights and responsibilities of a true marriage, the separation of the two institutions creates a badge of inferiority that forever stigmatizes the relationships of committed same-sex couples as different, separate, unequal and less worthy.

Time and time again, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that marriage is one of the most fundamental rights that we enjoy as Americans under the Constitution. It's a right older than the Bill of Rights and older than our political parties. It is the foundation of society. The time to grant the right of marriage to all New Yorkers is now.

Olson is former United States solicitor general. Schneiderman is attorney general of New York.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Study: Gay Men Are Twice as Likely to Have Cancer

By Meredith Melnick Monday, May 9, 2011 Time

Reposted at

It makes for a grabby headline, but are gay men really more likely to develop cancer? A new study published in the journal Cancer found that gay men were nearly twice as likely to report a diagnosis of cancer than straight men. But why?

The study did not answer that question. It's not clear, for instance, whether gay men were more likely to develop cancer than straight men, whether they were more likely to be diagnosed, or whether they more likely to survive and report it.

Similar data in women found no difference in cancer rates by sexual orientation; however, the study did find that lesbian and bisexual cancer survivors were more likely to self-report poor or fair health than heterosexual women. Self-reported health status did not differ by sexual orientation in men.

Researchers led by Ulrike Boehmer of the Boston University School of Public Health analyzed three years of data on more than 120,000 adults who filled out the California Health Interview survey. Among other questions, the respondents were asked about their sexual orientation and whether they had ever been diagnosed with cancer.

Out of 51,000 men, about 3,690 reported having had cancer: they accounted for 8% of gay men and 5% of straight men; the increase in risk in gay men was not attributable to other factors like race, income level or age.

Among 71,000 women, 7,252 reported a cancer diagnosis, but the rate of diagnosis was the same regardless of sexual orientation. But women who identified as lesbian or bisexual were more than twice as likely to report fair or poor health than straight women after surviving cancer.

Again, the study didn't delve into the reasons for the disparities in rates of cancer diagnosis, but the authors said the gay community is more vulnerable to certain cancer risk factors. For instance, both gay men and lesbian women are more likely to smoke and abuse alcohol than their straight peers — these are known contributors to cancer.

Gays and lesbians are also less likely to get routine cancer screening and check-ups because of perceived discrimination from doctors, said Liz Margolies, executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network.

The higher rates of HIV infection in gay men than in straight men could also help explain the difference: HIV-positive patients have a higher risk of anal, lung and testicular cancers and Hodgkin's lymphoma (HIV status was outside the scope of the study, however).

Another factor that may affect health in the LGBT community is "minority stress," lead author Boehmer said, referring to the psychological strain endured by minority groups as a result of prejudice or discrimination. MyHealthNewsDaily reported:

"It's been my experience that the lower quality of life that lesbians report after a cancer diagnosis does not reveal as much about the particular diagnosis, but more about our life experience in general, particularly when confronting a major life crisis" like a cancer diagnosis, a relationship change or a job loss, said Linda Ellis, executive director of the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative in Georgia, who was not involved with the study.

It's not that lesbian or bisexual women walk around more depressed than their straight peers, Ellis said. But coming out to each new person, whether it's the new nurse in the chemo clinic or the members of the cancer support group, takes a lot of energy, she said. ... In addition, it's not unusual for lesbian or bisexual women to have severed ties with family, so a person's natural circle of support may be weakened, she said.

The current was not designed to measure potential contributors to cancer and health risks in the LGBT community. But the findings suggest that public-health officials need to pay more attention to the gay, lesbian and bisexual population — particularly when it comes to cancer prevention and screening.

In April, an Institute of Medicine report proposed including sexual orientation information in medical records and in government studies as a way to increase understanding of the health risks that may be particular to the gay and lesbian community.

"At a time when lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals — often referred to under the umbrella acronym LGBT — are becoming more visible in society and more socially acknowledged, clinicians and researchers are faced with incomplete information about their health status," said the report.

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Updates from Nat. Coalition for LGBT Health

Register Now for the 2011 National LGBTI Health Summit
We are just 60 days away from the 2011 National LGBTI Health Summit on July 16-19, 2011, in Bloomington, Indiana. Register now to take advantage of the low $150 registration cost, thanks to collaborations with Positive Link (a program of Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital), the City of Bloomington, and Indiana University. The conference offers CHES credits for public health professionals and a broad range of innovative workshops, plenaries, networking, organizing, and social activities to meld our "rainbow alphabet" together around our work in the field of LGBTI health. The 2011 National LGBTI Health Summit is dedicated to preserving and improving the emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, and social health and wellness of LGBTI people. The theme of this year’s summit is "At the Crossroads," which emphasizes the summit’s mission to reach members of LGBTI communities who are marginalized and experience health disparities unique to race/ethnicity, age, and disability; as well as disparities on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender. Register now!

New LGBT-Inclusive Regulations from Department of Housing and Urban Affairs
Stable and affordable housing is a major component of good health and wellbeing for everyone, including LGBT people. Among other benefits, stable housing can help reduce substance use, lower risk of HIV infection, and improve mental and physical health. Earlier this year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed regulations banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in its core federal housing programs. The Coalition strongly supports the new regulations and submitted comments recommending a broader and more inclusive definition of family and asking that the proposed ban on discrimination be extended to include perceived as well as actual sexual orientation and gender identity. We applaud HUD for its commitment to helping make stable and affordable housing accessible for LGBT people and their families.

New LGBT-Inclusive Regulations from Department of Labor
Like housing, regular employment and a workplace free of discrimination and harassment is a crucial factor in quality of life for LGBT people. Employment is particularly important for health because employer-based health insurance is a cornerstone of the US health system. Recognizing this, the Department of Labor joined the Department of Health and Human Services in revising its equal employment opportunity policy to include gender identity as well as sexual orientation. The Coalition welcomes the new policies and looks forward to continuing to work with agencies such as the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Housing and Urban Affairs to create and implement policies that help LGBT people and their families lead safe and healthy lives.

LGBT Families Matter
Same-sex couples live in almost every county across the United States, and more than one million of these couples are raising children. These families need the same protections as any other family to ensure that parents and partners can fulfill their commitment to keeping each other and their children safe and healthy. Check out our new blog post at MomsRising Blog about what the Affordable Care Act means for LGBT people and their families. Then head over to the National Partnership for Women and Families to read more about how paid sick days standards help LGBT families.

All of this and more can be found at
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