Friday, June 10, 2011

Don’t Delay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal

SOURCE: AP/Alex Brandon

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, left, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen speak during a media availability at the Pentagon Wednesday, May 18, 2011 in Washington.By Crosby Burns | June 8, 2011

Last December, Congress passed the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, marking the first step toward repealing the military’s outdated and ineffective ban on openly gay troops. With DADT repeal implementation and training well underway, we are closer than ever to finally allowing gay men and women to serve openly and honestly in the armed forces.

Under the law President Barack Obama signed in December 2010, open service will begin 60 days after the president, the secretary of defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that repeal will not impact military readiness or effectiveness. Prior to certification, Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen have tasked military leaders with preparing to implement repeal, which includes updating guidelines, policy manuals, and directives, and training the troops in preparation for open service.

On the eve of the bipartisan vote in Congress that repealed DADT, a comprehensive survey revealed that the majority of troops believed that allowing open service would have an overall positive or neutral effect on the armed forces. Our military leaders have repeatedly testified their support for legislative repeal and the certification process, and with much of training already complete, it has become clear that DADT repeal is simply a nonevent for our troops. The public, too, has long supported open service of gay and lesbian troops.

But conservative members of the House of Representatives have chosen to ignore the recommendations of our military’s leaders. The House recently approved its version of the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which included several amendments that jeopardize the successful DADT repeal process that is well underway.

President Obama, Secretary Gates, and Chairman Mullen clearly support repealing DADT, asserting that allowing gay men and women to serve openly abolishes an outdated, flawed, and discriminatory law that ultimately weakens our national security. Considering that House conservatives are trying to keep in place a policy that is harmful to our country, Secretary Gates, Chairman Mullen, and President Obama should do everything they can to speed up the certification process.

Conservatives and DADT: Delay, disrupt, and derail
The House of Representatives passed its version of the 2012 NDAA on May 26, 2011 by a vote of 322-96, with six Republicans voting against and 95 Democrats supporting the bill. The House NDAA included three amendments aimed to delay, disrupt, and derail the successful but still ongoing implementation of DADT repeal. One of these amendments, introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), would require the chiefs of staff for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps to also certify that repeal will not impact military readiness or effectiveness.

This amendment is an unnecessary political distraction that defies the wishes of our military’s leaders. Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen have both indicated that they are in close consultation with the service chiefs as the implementation process moves forward. Further, Secretary Gates commented that he would not issue his certification until the service chiefs are confident that open service would not undermine unit cohesion and combat effectiveness. The service chiefs themselves have voiced opposition with expanding the certification requirements, testifying before Congress that they trust Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen to address their concerns before eliminating the policy. They further warned that expanding certification to include the chiefs would undermine the military’s chain of command.

Conservative members of the House, however, blatantly ignored the will and advice of these military leaders. Rep. Hunter actually went far as to question the leadership, competence, and experience of Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen.

Training the troops is a vital step in repealing DADT
As CAP has reported, all branches of the military are currently implementing the first steps of DADT repeal. This includes updating the Pentagon’s policy manuals, directives, and guidelines so that a single standard of conduct will apply to all military personnel whether they are gay or straight. Regulations dealing with benefits, housing, and conduct are also being updated to reflect the open service of gay men and women.

Most importantly, the military has made significant progress training troops to prepare them for open service, and to “underscore that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.” Beginning in February, each branch began with Tier 1 training of those serving with special skills such as lawyers, chaplains, and personnel specialists. Next, Tier 2 training includes commanding officers and senior noncommissioned officers, and finally Tier 3 training includes the rank-and-file of the armed forces. Each branch has begun implementing Tier 2 and Tier 3 training.

Training across all three tiers is now moving forward successfully and without disruption under the strong leadership of our military’s commanders. This is true across all branches of our armed forces:

Navy: "The fact that someone is gay or lesbian doesn't really enter into a disruption to the mission. The same standards—the same regulations and standards of conduct will apply. ...It's not as if we're having to create new policies." Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Navy

Marines: “I’m looking for issues that might arise specifically coming out of the … training, and to be honest with you, chairman, we’ve not seen it. There’s questions about billeting for Marines—I mean, the kinds of questions you would expect—but there hasn’t been the recalcitrant pushback, there’s not been the anxiety over it from the forces in the field.” General James F. Amos, Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps

Air Force: “We will rely on steady leadership at all levels to implement this change in a manner that is consistent with standards of military readiness and effectiveness, with minimal adverse effect on unit cohesion, recruiting and retention in the Air Force.” General Norton A. Schwartz, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force

Army: “I had a session with commanders last Friday, they have indicated no issues so far in Tier I and Tier II training as they get ready to kick off our Tier III training.” General Peter W. Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

DADT repeal never threatened our military’s effectiveness
While the Pentagon has rightly implemented a careful training regimen to prepare troops for repeal, experts have always stated that open service would not threaten military readiness or effectiveness. And a prerepeal survey indicated that our servicemembers would handle open service professionally and responsibly, and that many already knew they were serving with gay men and women.

The survey, which General Carter Ham called “the most comprehensive assessment of a personnel policy matter that the Department of Defense has conducted,” was sent to more than 400,000 troops and their spouses. It asked troops and their spouses what they thought of open service and how DADT repeal might impact the armed forces. The results were clear. Sixty-nine percent of troops said they were already working in a unit with someone they believed to be gay or lesbian. Moreover, an astounding 92 percent of those individuals believed their unit’s “ability to work together” was either “very good,” “good,” or “neither good nor poor.” This includes 89 percent of those in Army combat arms units and 84 percent of those in Marine combat arms units.

Even in countries where troops expressed outright opposition to open service, repealing bans on gay and lesbian troops was a nonevent. In the United Kingdom, for example, prerepeal surveys indicated significant resistance to repeal compared to the survey results found in the Pentagon Working Group report. But repeal occurred with no disruption to military effectiveness or unit cohesion. Moreover, these countries implemented repeal without the comprehensive training and careful implementation steps currently underway within the U.S. military.

Our senior military leaders should swiftly certify repeal of DADT
Both Gates and Mullen have long advocated for DADT’s repeal. They recognize that the policy wastes hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars annually, undermines our national security, and is an unfair and unworkable policy that asks troops to lie about who they are. Both men, however, are set to retire in the next several months.

Secretary Gates is set to retire later this month. Chairman Mullen is likely to retire sometime in the fall of 2011. Our senior military leaders should leave their posts having finished what they started by certifying DADT repeal.

Not certifying repeal before their retirements would likely delay the final steps of ending the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers. Conservative lawmakers are determined to delay and derail DADT’s demise, and the longer our military leaders wait to certify, the more likely it is that these tactics will succeed. Politics will trump policy, which will deny brave men and women the ability to serve their country with honesty and integrity.

We are now closer than ever to allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the armed forces. Once repeal is complete, the United States will join the ranks of 35 of our foreign allies that permit gay men and women to serve openly in uniform, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, and Israel. Secretary Gates, Chairman Mullen, and President Obama have worked tirelessly to repeal the military’s ban on openly gay troops. The time has come for them to complete their work. We urge them to accelerate the implementation process underway and thereby expeditiously certify repeal.

Crosby Burns is the Special Assistant for the LGBT Research and Communications Project at American Progress.

Gay and Transgender People Face High Rates of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment

Data Demonstrate Need for Federal Law

Vandy Beth Glenn, who lost her job with the Georgia General Assembly when her boss fired her because she was transgender, testifies at a hearing regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on September 23, 2009. Lawmakers should swiftly enact ENDA to level the playing field for all American workers, gay or straight, transgender or not.

By Crosby Burns, Jeff Krehely | June 2, 2011

Gay and transgender individuals continue to face widespread discrimination in the workplace.* Studies show that anywhere from 15 percent to 43 percent of gay people have experienced some form of discrimination and harassment at the workplace. Moreover, a staggering 90 percent of transgender workers report some form of harassment or mistreatment on the job. These workplace abuses pose a real and immediate threat to the economic security of gay and transgender workers.

Congress should work quickly to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, to ensure that all Americans are judged in the workplace based on their skills, qualifications, and the quality of their work. Right now, too many of our country’s gay and transgender workers are being judged on their sexual orientation and gender identity— factors that have no impact on how well a person performs their job.

The numbers
The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy aggregated a number of surveys to determine the extent to which gay and transgender workers experience discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Their findings illustrate that discrimination and harassment are pervasive:

■Fifteen percent to 43 percent of gay and transgender workers have experienced some form of discrimination on the job.
■Eight percent to 17 percent of gay and transgender workers report being passed over for a job or fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
■Ten percent to 28 percent received a negative performance evaluation or were passed over for a promotion because they were gay or transgender.
■Seven percent to 41 percent of gay and transgender workers were verbally or physically abused or had their workplace vandalized.
Straight coworkers also attest to the presence of discrimination and harassment against LGBT workers. The Williams Institute’s report found that 12 percent to 30 percent of straight workers witnessed discrimination in the workforce based on sexual orientation.

Controlled experiments have found consistent evidence of workplace discrimination as well. When researchers send two sets of matched resumes to major employers, and one indicates the applicant is gay, employers warmly receive “gay” resumes far less often than “straight” resumes. Seven out of eight of these studies confirmed the existence of antigay employment discrimination.

Transgender individuals encounter workplace discrimination and harassment at even higher rates than gays and lesbians. Earlier this year, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released a comprehensive study on transgender discrimination that revealed near universal problems at the workplace:

■Ninety percent of transgender individuals have encountered some form of harassment or mistreatment on the job.
■Forty-seven percent of workers have experienced an adverse job outcome because they are transgender. This includes:
■Forty-four percent who were passed over for a job
■Twenty-three percent who were denied a promotion
■And 26 percent who were fired because they were transgender
The stories behind the numbers
Behind these statistics are the heartbreaking stories of everyday Americans losing their jobs based on characteristics that have nothing to do with their job performance.

Vandy Beth Glenn lost her job with the Georgia General Assembly when her boss fired her because she was transgender:

[My boss] told me I would make other people uncomfortable, just by being myself. He told me that my transition was unacceptable. And over and over, he told me it was inappropriate. Then he fired me. I was escorted back to my desk, told to clean it out, then marched out of the building…I was devastated.

Brook Waits was gainfully employed in Dallas, Texas until her manager fired her immediately after she saw a picture on Brook’s cell phone of Brook and her girlfriend kissing on New Year’s Eve:

I didn’t lose my job because I was lazy, incompetent, or unprofessional. Quite the contrary, I worked hard and did my job very well. However that was all discarded when my boss discovered I am a lesbian. In a single afternoon, I went from being a highly praised employee, to out of a job.

And officer Michael Carney was denied reinstatement as a police officer in Springfield, Massachusetts because he told his supervisors that he was gay:

I’m a good cop. But I’ve lost two and a half years of employment fighting to get that job back because I’m gay…I’m proud to be Irish-American. I’m proud to be gay, and I’m proud to be a cop in Springfield, MA.

The economic consequences of discrimination
Gay and transgender individuals suffer from socioeconomic inequalities in large part due to pervasive discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination directly causes job instability and high turnover, resulting in greater unemployment and poverty rates for gay and transgender people, as well as the wage gap between gay and straight workers.

Consider that gay men earn 10 percent to 32 percent less than similarly qualified heterosexual males. Older gay and lesbian adults experience higher poverty rates than their heterosexual counterparts. And transgender individuals are twice as likely to be unemployed and are four times as likely to live in poverty. Nearly 20 percent have been or are currently homeless.

Companies should care about these numbers if they are in the business of boosting profits. Time and again, researchers have demonstrated that discrimination diminishes productivity, job satisfaction, and the mental and physical health of all employees.

Enacting legislation that provides real protection
Gay and transgender individuals’ legal and social standing is improving despite their unfair and unequal treatment in the workplace. An increasing number of states, municipalities, and businesses have adopted nondiscrimination protections that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The public, too, has increasingly voiced support for employment protections and workplace fairness for gay and transgender workers. And more and more gay workers are coming out at the workplace, a sign that workplace climates have become more accepting or at least tolerant overall.

Nevertheless, gay and transgender people continue to lack full workplace protections afforded to women, people of color, veterans, seniors, and the disabled. Under federal law it is still legal to fire someone for being gay or transgender. Where state or local laws exist, gay and transgender workers file discrimination complaints at comparable rates and in some case higher rates than other protected classes such as gender and race. But Congress has thus far failed to incorporate gay and transgender workers into employment laws that shield these and other groups from workplace discrimination nationwide.

Lawmakers in both chambers of the 112th Congress recently introduced ENDA, which would finally bring full workplace protections to nearly all of our nation’s workforce. If passed, gay and transgender workers would have similar protections that were afforded to other minority groups with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. And while comprehensive in scope, ENDA explicitly exempts religious organizations and small businesses with less than 15 employees, prohibits preferential treatment for gay and transgender workers, and does not require employers to offer domestic partner benefits to employees’ same-sex partners.

ENDA’s premise is simple: All Americans deserve equal treatment in the workplace regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Lawmakers should swiftly enact ENDA to level the playing field for all American workers, gay or straight, transgender or not.

Gay and transgender individuals comprise a significant part of the American labor force. Every day, they go to work to make an honest living to support themselves and their families, and help our economy grow along the way. But far too many go to work with the fear that they will lose their job based on factors that have nothing to do with their job performance and ability.

Discrimination has no place in our society or in our workplaces. Our nation can and should do better for all our workers.

*In this column, the term gay is used as an umbrella term for people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

Crosby Burns is a Special Assistant and Jeff Krehely is Director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gay teens more likely to engage in risky behaviors: study

ATLANTA | Mon Jun 6, 2011 5:50pm EDT

(Reuters) - Gay, lesbian and bisexual high school students are more likely than heterosexual students to engage in such risky behavior as smoking, drinking alcohol and carrying guns, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

"This report should be a wake-up call for families, schools and communities that we need to do a much better job of supporting these young people," said Howell Wechsler, director of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Heath.

"We are very concerned that these students face such dramatic disparities for so many different health risks."

The study, which surveyed 156,000 high school students and was released on Monday, is the largest of its kind by the federal government.

Researchers analyzed data from student surveys conducted from 2001-2009 in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin, and also in the Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, San Diego and San Francisco school districts.

When asked if they had driven a car while drinking alcohol within the last 30 days, 15.4 percent of gay and lesbian students responded "yes," compared to 7.8 percent of heterosexual students.

The gap was even greater on whether students had carried a gun at least one day during the previous month. About 12 percent of gay and lesbian students said they had carried a gun, almost four times more than heterosexual students.

There also was a large disparity with cigarette smoking, with 27.8 percent of gay and lesbian students reporting they had smoked more than 10 cigarettes in a day during the previous month compared to 9.1 percent of heterosexual students.

Gay and lesbian students were much more likely to have seriously contemplated suicide, the study found. Nearly 30 percent of those students said they had considered suicide compared to 11.7 percent of heterosexual students.

The study results quantify what advocates say they have long known anecdotally.

Gay, lesbian and bisexual youths are often driven to risky behavior because they are rejected by their families and other support groups, said Laura McGinnis, spokeswoman for the Trevor Project, a national organization that provides crisis counseling and suicide prevention programs for youths.

"We've known this for years but the research hasn't been there to back it up," she said.

She said the new data should help increase the awareness of policymakers and lead to more training for school staff members.

Wechsler said efforts to promote adolescent health and safety should take into account the "additional stressors these youth experience because of their sexual orientation, such as stigma, discrimination, and victimization."

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton

Therapy to change 'feminine' boy created a troubled man, family says

By Scott Bronstein and Jessi Joseph, CNN June 7, 2011 -- Updated 1745 GMT
Family describes anti-'sissy' therapy
• Siblings: Gay brother killed himself decades after treatment to make him more masculine
• Treatment included withholding maternal attention and punishment
• Ex-clinic psychologist: It's "inaccurate to assume" therapy caused Kirk Murphy's suicide
Editor's note: Tonight at 10 ET on CNN TV, "AC360º" examines a shocking "experimental therapy" designed to make feminine boys more masculine. See what one family says was the devastating result in a special report, "The Sissy Boy Experiment."

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Kirk Andrew Murphy seemed to have everything to live for.

He put himself through school. He had a successful 12-year career in the Air Force. After the service, he landed a high profile position with an American finance company in India.

But in 2003 at age 38, Kirk Murphy took his own life.

A co-worker found him hanging from the fan of his apartment in New Delhi. His family has struggled for years to understand what happened.

Gallery: UCLA's Gender Identity Clinic
"I used to spend so much time thinking, why would he kill himself at the age of 38? It doesn't make any sense to me," said Kirk's sister, Maris Murphy. "What I now think is I don't know how he made it that long."

After Kirk's death, Maris started a search that would uncover a dark family secret. That secret revealed itself during a phone conversation with her older brother Mark, who mentioned his distrust of any kind of therapy.

"Don't you remember all that crap we went through at UCLA?" he asked her. Maris was too young to remember the details, but Mark remembered it vividly as a low point in their lives.
IReport: Did you participate in similar research?

Wanting a 'normal life'
Kirk Murphy was a bright 5-year-old boy, growing up near Los Angeles in the 1970s. He was the middle child, with big brother Mark, 8, and little sister Maris, just a baby at 9 months. Their mother, Kaytee Murphy, remembers Kirk's kind nature, "He was just very intelligent, and a sweet, sweet, child." But she was also worried.

It left Kirk just totally stricken with the belief that he was broken, that he was different from everybody else.
--Maris Murphy, Kirk's sister

"Well, I was becoming a little concerned, I guess, when he was playing with dolls and stuff," she said. "Playing with the girls' toys, and probably picking up little effeminate, well, like stroking the hair, the long hair and stuff. It just bothered me that maybe he was picking up maybe too many feminine traits." She said it bothered her because she wanted Kirk to grow up and have "a normal life."

Then Kaytee Murphy saw a psychologist on local television.

"He was naming all of these things; 'If your son is doing five of these 10 things, does he prefer to play with girls' toys instead of boys' toys?' Just things like this," she said.

The doctor was on TV that day, recruiting boys for a government-funded program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"Well, him being the expert, I thought, maybe I should take Kirk in," said Kaytee Murphy. "In other words, nip it in the bud, before it got started any further."

Kirk becomes 'Kraig'
Kaytee Murphy took Kirk to UCLA, where he was treated largely by George A. Rekers, a doctoral student at the time.

In Rekers' study documenting his experimental therapy (PDF), he writes about a boy he calls "Kraig." Another UCLA gender researcher confirmed that "Kraig" was a pseudonym for Kirk.

The study, later published in an academic journal, concludes that after therapy, "Kraig's" feminine behavior was gone and he became "indistinguishable from any other boy."

"Kraig, I think, certainly was Rekers' poster boy for what Rekers was espousing for young children," said Jim Burroway, a writer and researcher who has studied Rekers' work.

I thought, maybe I should take Kirk in ... nip it in the bud, before it got started any further.
--Kaytee Murphy, Kirk Murphy's mother

"We have been wondering where is Kraig? A lot of us have talked about it. Where is he today? Is he married or is he gay? Or specifically does he even know that Rekers has been writing about him?" said Burroway. "I found 17 different articles, books, chapters, that he has written in which he talked about Kraig."

Rekers' work with Kirk Murphy helped him build a three-decade career as a leading national expert in trying to prevent children from becoming gay, a career as an anti-gay champion that would later be tainted by his involvement in an embarrassing scandal.

The experiments
The therapy at UCLA involved a special room with two tables where "Kraig's" behavior was monitored, according to the study.

"There was a one-way mirror or one-way window -- and some days they would let him choose which table he would go to," said Maris, who has read about the experiments.

At one table Kirk could choose between what were considered masculine toys like plastic guns and handcuffs, and what were meant to be feminine toys like dolls and a play crib. At the other table, Kirk could choose between boys' clothing and a toy electric razor or items like dress-up jewelry and a wig.

See details about the experimental therapy
According to the case study, Kaytee Murphy was told to ignore her son when he played with feminine toys and compliment him when he played with masculine toys.

"They pretty much told him he wasn't right the way that he was, but they never really explained it to him what the issue was. They did it through play," Maris said.

Rekers wrote that Kirk would cry out for attention, even throwing tantrums, but Kaytee Murphy was told to keep going.

Harsh beatings
At home, the punishment for feminine behavior would become more severe. The therapists instructed Kirk's parents to use poker chips as a system of rewards and punishments.

According to Rekers' case study, blue chips were given for masculine behavior and would bring rewards, such as candy. But the red chips, given for effeminate behavior, resulted in "physical punishment by spanking from the father."

Mark said he was told to participate in the chip reward-and-punishment system as a way to make Kirk feel like the system was OK.

I only meant to help, do the best I could with the parents.
--Dr. George Rekers

The family said the spankings were severe. Maris remembers "lots of belt incidents." She escaped the screaming by going to her bed to "lay in the room with my pillow on my head." Later, she would go to Kirk's bedroom and "lay down and hug him and we would just lay there, and the thing that I remember is that he never even showed anger. He was just numb."

During one particularly harsh punishment, their mother recalls, her husband "spanked" Kirk "so hard that he had welts up and down his back and on his buttocks."

She remembers her son Mark saying, "Cry harder, and he won't hit so hard." She says, "Today, it would be abuse."

Sometimes Mark would try to protect his brother, to make his beatings less severe.
"I took some of the red chips and I put them on my side," said Mark, as tears came to his eyes. But he said the beatings were still frequent.

The number of stacked red chips became a telltale sign about the level of tension in the house. When he returned home each day, Mark often looked for the chips in their easily visible location between the living room and the kitchen.

"You looked and were like, 'What's the chip count today? What happened? What changed? How bad is it going to be?' And it was always bad. There was whipping every Friday night. There was no way out of it."

Kirk's formal clinical treatment lasted 10 months, but the family said some of the treatment techniques and practices lasted longer at home.

'Different from everybody else'
Mark Murphy vividly remembers a photo of a smiling young Kirk, age 4, taken a year before the therapy started.

"This is my brother, Kirk Andrew Murphy, right here," Mark said, pointing to the picture. "This is the way he's supposed to be right here," Mark said tearfully.

Mark said the photo shows the last time he remembers his brother as a happy child.
Maris, who was too young to remember Kirk when he went to therapy, said she only knew Kirk after his treatment.

"It left Kirk just totally stricken with the belief that he was broken, that he was different from everybody else," she recalled. "He even ate his lunch in the boy's bathroom for three years of his high school career, if you want to call it that."

CDC: Lack of acceptance can lead to risky behavior for non-straight youth
Kirk's mother said she believes the experimental therapy destroyed Kirk's life.

"I blame them for the way his life turned out," she said. "If one person causes another person's death, I don't care if it's 20 or 50 years later, it's the same as murder in my eyes."

Of course, the actual reason someone commits suicide is difficult, if not impossible to know. The family's allegations that Rekers' therapy caused Kirk Murphy to take his life are just that -- allegations.

When Rekers did not respond to CNN's repeated requests for an interview, CNN producers tracked him down in Florida to ask about the Murphy family's allegations.

It's "inaccurate to assume" therapy led to Kirk Murphy's suicide, says George Rekers, who treated Murphy.

"Well, I think, scientifically that would be inaccurate to assume that it was the therapy, but I do grieve for the parents now that you've told me that news. I think that's very sad," he said.

Rekers pointed out that the therapy had been decades earlier.

"That's a long time ago, and to hypothesize, you have a hypothesis that positive treatment back in the 1970s has something to do with something happening decades later. That would, that hypothesis would need a lot of scientific investigation to see if it's valid. Two independent psychologists with me had evaluated him and said he was better adjusted after treatment, so it wasn't my opinion." he said.

One of those psychologists has since died. The other -- Dr. Larry Ferguson -- told CNN that he did evaluate Kirk Murphy as a teenager. He said the family was well adjusted and he did not see any "red flags" when evaluating Kirk. But Maris Murphy says Kirk lied to those examining him. "He was conditioned to say what they wanted to hear," she said.

Rekers said he could not give specific details about Kirk Murphy's treatment, citing doctor-patient confidentiality. For him, the bottom line is that the therapy was intended to help.

"I only meant to help, do the best I could with the parents, and I've written articles you can look up, too, on the rationale for our treatment. And the rationale was positive; to help children, help the parents who come to us in their distress asking questions, 'What can we do to help our child be better adjusted?' " Rekers said.

Karl Bryant, a professor of women's and gender studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz, was also taken to UCLA as a child, as a part of a different study of effeminate boys.

Bryant said he thinks the more tragic part of Kirk's story is people "trying to do something good, trying to help ... even in a misguided mode, who end up producing these negative outcomes for people."

Bryant has studied the history of work done with children with opposite-sex behavior extensively, and said the studies are complex.

"I never have -- had tried to kill myself or thought that I was going to kill myself," said Bryant. "But I could identify with that pain of -- of feeling like you want to be something and other people want you to be something that you aren't."

'Unwanted homosexuality'
Rekers, who conducted the therapy on Kirk, went on to build a career of influence based on the premise from his research that homosexuality can be prevented.

He became a founding member of the Family Research Council, a faith-based organization that lobbies against gay-rights issues. Rekers was also on the board of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, an organization of scientists that says its mission is to offer treatment to those who struggle with what they call "unwanted homosexuality."

"He's viewed as an expert by some, you know, when it's -- when it serves their purposes," said Bryant. "So, you know, basically, conservative and what I would call mostly 'fringe' groups have really, you know, Rekers as their poster boy."

Just last year, Rekers' days as an anti-gay champion would come to an end. He hired a male escort to accompany him on his trip to Europe.

Rekers denies any sexual contact with the male escort. Rekers says he's not gay. He claims he wasn't aware that his companion offered sexual favors for sale over the Internet until after the trip, and says he hired him only to carry his bags. But the reporters who broke the story about Rekers' trip say they saw Rekers pushing a luggage cart through a Miami airport, where they took his photo.

After the scandal broke, Rekers resigned from NARTH. And the Family Research Council said in a statement they hadn't had contact with Rekers in "over a decade."
Rekers vacations with 'rentboy'

His reputation among those who oppose homosexuality may be tarnished, but his research is still being cited in books and journals.

As recently as 2009, a book Rekers co-authored, "Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Attractions," cites Kraig's case as a success. That was six years after Kirk Murphy took his own life.

For Maris Murphy, there is more to the story than what was written in case studies about her brother.

"The research has a postscript that needs to be added," she said. "That is that Kirk Andrew Murphy was Kraig and he was gay, and he committed suicide."

"I want people to remember that this was a little boy who deserved protection, respect and unconditional love," his sister said. "I don't want him to be remembered as a science experiment. He was a person."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Recipients of civil union license: 'We wanted to make a statement'

By Rex Huppke, Ruth Fuller & Serena Maria Daniels Chicago Tribune, June 1, 2011
Every Valentine's Day for the past seven or eight years, Roseann Szalkowski and Barb McMillan walked into the DuPage County Clerk's office to ask for a marriage license, and every year the answer was the same: no.

Today, promptly at 8 a.m. when the clerk's office opened, McMillan asked department supervisor Judi Wilkovich the same question.

"I'd like to ask for a marriage license," said McMillan, tears welling in her eyes. An equally emotional Wilkovich, who for years was saddened to turn the couple away, again couldn't grant a marriage license, but she told the couple, "I'm happy to say that you can apply for a civil union license."

Amid applause from clerk's office workers, Szalkowski, 50, and McMillan, 60, who come from Roselle and have been together 11 years, were the first to be granted a civil union license in DuPage County.

Illinois is now the sixth state that allows civil unions or their equivalent, and two other states — Hawaii and Delaware — have passed civil-union laws that have not yet been enacted.

Advocates of gay and lesbian rights say the civil union law is a historic moment worthy of celebration, but they stress that it in no way marks the end of their work. The next step would be to follow either a judicial or legislative path toward the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Similar scenes to the one in DuPage played out around the Chicago area this morning, the first day that same-sex couples were eligible for civil-union licenses.

In Cook County, Janean Watkins and Lakeesha Harris camped overnight outside the Daley Center to be the first in line as the state's new civil-unions law kicked in.

"It's historic," said Watkins, who has been with Harris for 10 years. "We wanted to be first. We wanted to make a statement. For us, for our kids. It really means something."

The couple has six children who will all be in attendance at a formal civil union ceremony tomorrow.

Watkins and Harris were followed by more than 100 other couples who arrived early to get licenses.

Vicki Kenyon and Lisa Martin of Skokie were up at 4 a.m. and headed to the Daley Center to get a license to legally cement their nearly 10-year relationship.

"We thought we'd just get it done in Skokie," Martin said. "But then we figured, hey, if they're going to throw a party downtown, we should be there, be part of history."

Couples can obtain licenses starting today, but must wait a day before holding a ceremony. On Thursday, the governor and Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be on hand in Millennium Park as more than 30 couples enter into civil unions.

The group The Civil Rights Agenda plans to host another cluster of civil union celebrations on Friday at the Chicago History Museum. Anthony Martinez, the group's executive director, said at least 30 couples signed up, reflecting the widespread enthusiasm he has seen in the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Linda Zetterberg, 59, and Sherry Burlingame, 52, wed in Ontario, Canada, on May 27, 2005, but showed up to the DuPage County clerk’s office today to see if their marriage would recognized in Illinois now that civil union licenses are being issued.

Plus, they wanted to be around to congratulate other same-sex couples.

“We’ve waited for a long time for this,” said Zetterberg, just as the office’s first couple became licensed. “We had to drive with all of our paperwork in a glove compartment in case anything happens.”

DuPage County clerk’s office officials told the couple they did not know whether foreign marriage licenses are now honored in Illinois and said they would have to defer to their legal department.

Workers who typically issue marriage licenses also had to make adjustments in how they addressed the civil union applicants.

One couple, Martha Flores, 37, and Jessica Meyer, 33, of Westmont, who became licensed just before 11 a.m., for example, didn’t know the proper term to use when referring to their relationship status would be once they held a ceremony.

“Certified” would be the proper term to use, not married, said Wilkovich, the department supervisor, who had to learn the appropriate terminology.

Flores and Meyer have been together since 2009. Flores moved in with Meyer shortly afterward.

The couple from Glendale Heights said they initially wanted to have a less formal commitment ceremony, but decided to hold off when they learned of the possibility that civil unions would be legalized in Illinois.

Stress Once the possibility became reality, “I didn’t want to wait because I was afraid that what happened in California would happen here,” said Flores of California’s constitutional amendment in 2008 that limited marriage to be between only a man and a woman.

By 11 a.m. at the DuPage County clerk’s office five people had been granted licenses to certify their civil unions. Meyer was surprised to find the office empty when the couple arrived.

Flores was not.

“For the most part I thought DuPage County was pretty homophobic,” Flores said.

To the couple’s surprise, everyone in the office treated them with respect.

“You’ve been waiting a long time,” the woman who licensed the couple told them as they walked out of the door.

At an unrelated event today, Gov. Pat Quinn applauded the law.

"I signed that law, and I think it's a good law," Quinn said. "I think it makes us a better state. I think it's important that Illinois be a place of tolerance and welcoming to all."

In Lake County, about a dozen couples lined up outside of the clerk's office this morning.

Sam Johnson, 45 and Michael Maurello, 44, of Beach Park, who have been together for 12 years, said that while they didn't need a piece of paper to show their commitment to each other; they came to be a part of history.

"Since so many people went to so much trouble to make this happen we wanted to show our appreciation," Johnson said.

"It is important to show our support in numbers," added Maurello, who said he works at the Art Institute of Chicago and has seen the numbers of people demonstrating against civil unions downtown. "If they repeal it, hopefully they won't be able to take this away from us."

Mel Robson, 39 and Jessie Ritter, 33, of Gurnee, a lesbian couple, came to the courthouse this morning with their 2-year-old daughter, Bella Ritter-Robson. The couple has been together for almost 11 years.

"This is a big step for our family, so she should be a part of it," Ritter said.

The couple had a wedding for family and friends over five years ago.

"That was the celebration," Robson said. "This is the paperwork that follows."
Posted at

Register Now for GLMA’s 29th Annual Conference!

Registration is now open for the 29th Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA, September 21-25, 2011. Join us for the world’s largest scientific lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health. The conference is remarkable for its size, scope, and diversity of programming. And remember, GLMA members receive registration discounts!

GLMA Student Scholarships
A limited number of student scholarships are available to help defray the cost of attending the GLMA Annual Conference. Scholarship applications must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern on June 20, 2011.

Information: For more information on the conference and how to register, visit

Presidential Proclamation—LGBT Pride Month

On May 31, 2011, President Obama proclaimed June 2011 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month and called “upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.”

Information: To read the full text of the Presidential Proclamation, visit

Larkin Street Stories (Episode 2) : Confronting Hate Speech

In Episode 2 of Larkin Street Stories, Toby offers tips on how to create a safe and welcoming space for LBGTQ youth. During staff meeting, Toby and the Larkin Street staff discuss how to handle hate speech when it occurs between youth. After work, Toby spends time in the park with her daughter and reflects on keeping healthy boundaries between work and family time.

Commemorating 30 Years of HIV/AIDS

By Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This week marks 30 years since the first report of a mysterious and deadly new syndrome that would come to be known as AIDS was published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). At the time, no one could have predicted the enormous toll the disease would take—claiming the lives of more than 500,000 Americans and many millions worldwide. Today we remember those we have lost, and honor them by recommitting ourselves to the fight against this deadly yet preventable disease.

Over the last three decades, prevention efforts have helped reduce new infections and treatment advances have allowed people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives. But as these improvements have taken place, our nation's collective sense of crisis has waned. Far too many Americans underestimate their risk of infection or believe HIV is no longer a serious health threat, but they must understand that HIV remains an incurable infection. We must increase our resolve to end this epidemic.

CDC released data today showing that the number of Americans living with HIV continued to increase by more than 71,000 people between 2006 and 2008, mainly due to treatments which allow those infected with HIV to live longer, healthier lives. Currently, more than 1.1 million people in the United States live with HIV, and as this number increases, so does the risk of HIV transmission.

Today, the most infections are among people under 30—a new generation that has never known a time without effective HIV treatments and who may not fully understand the significant health threat HIV poses. Groups that have historically borne a disproportionate burden of HIV continue to see more than their share of devastation from this disease:

· Gay men: Gay and bisexual men of all races remain the group most affected by this epidemic. Men who have sex with men (MSM) account for just 2 percent of the U.S. population but represent more than half of all new infections in the United States. White MSM continue to account for the largest number of new infections, but MSM of color are disproportionately impacted. And a CDC analysis released today found high levels of HIV infection even among those MSM who get tested regularly. Approximately 7 percent of MSM in the 21 cities surveyed tested positive for HIV in the study, even though they reported having a negative HIV test result during the past 12 months.

· African-Americans and Latinos: The rate of new HIV infections for black men is about 6 times as high as that of white men, and about 3 times that of Hispanic men. The HIV incidence rate for black women is nearly 15 times as high as that of white women, and nearly 4 times that of Hispanic women. Among Hispanics, the rate of new HIV infections among men is more than double that of white men, and the rate among women is nearly 4 times that of white women.

Reducing HIV rates in the United States is not only possible—it is imperative. A recent analysis of the epidemiological and economic impacts of HIV estimates that if infection continues at its current rate, it could cost more than $200 billion to treat those who become newly infected over the next decade.

Advances in HIV prevention hold promise for reducing new infections and avoiding this high burden on lives and medical costs. More people know their HIV status and protect others from infection. New prevention interventions have been identified, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for MSM. And new data confirm that early testing and treatment for HIV-infected heterosexuals in relationships in which one person is HIV-positive and the other is not could contribute to declines in HIV in the United States.

At CDC, we are entering the next decade of HIV/AIDS with an aggressive focus on increasing the impact of prevention. Guided by the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, we are prioritizing prevention activities based on their effectiveness, cost, coverage, feasibility and scalability—to have the greatest possible impact with every dollar. Further, with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, CDC is implementing 12 demonstration projects in hard-hit areas across the country. The goal is to identify and implement a combination approach to enhance effective HIV prevention. And we are continuing to keep HIV on the radar of all Americans, through our national Act Against AIDS communication campaign. But government alone cannot end this epidemic. It's up to all of us to get the facts about HIV, get tested, and take control to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

On this 30th commemoration of AIDS, our resolve to end the epidemic cannot falter. It is possible to greatly reduce new HIV infections. Working together, we can break through complacency, save lives, and end HIV as a threat to the health and well-being of all Americans.

For more information on the 30 years of HIV, please visit For more information on HIV, please visit; to find an HIV testing site in your local area, visit

Call for Action Against University Funded Discrimination

The proposed state budget passed recently in the Ohio House includes an obscure provision that will allow student groups at taxpayer-funded state universities to discriminate and exclude students from membership and leadership positions based on religious beliefs or standards of conduct (Ohio Rev. Code §3345.023).

This means that our state universities will not be able to withhold funding from student groups who exclude LGBT people; Jewish, Christian or Muslim people; women; people who have had premarital sex; and, anyone else that a particular religious student group deems unworthy of membership. Fair-minded Ohioans do not want taxpayer dollars to fund discrimination.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez upholding the constitutionality of a state law school’s “all-comers” policy because it is reasonable and viewpoint neutral. Justice Ginsburg wrote that “by bringing together students with diverse views, [the policy] encourages tolerance, cooperation, learning, and the development of conflict-resolution skills.” After Ohio State University changed its policy recently to require student groups to accept all-comers as members, the Christian Legal Society Chapter at OSU stated it was “yet one more opportunity to welcome all students to attend CLS's meetings and activities.”

All-comers policies do nothing more than ensure that students are given an equal opportunity to engage, discuss, and collaborate with groups on campus. Compelling student groups to adhere to the nondiscrimination policy is also fair because it ensures that no student will be paying part of his or her tuition or fees for student groups that will not allow him or her to become a member. An all-comers policy does not prevent members of groups like the Christian Legal Society from practicing their religion or associating with those with similar beliefs, but simply states that such groups cannot exclude certain students as members and receive university funding.

Posted by Equality Ohio, reposted at

Ohio residents: contact your State Senator today and tell them to take discrimination out of the Ohio budget!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Unity Picnic, Sat. June 4, Columbus, Ohio

Saturday, June 4, 2011
Goodale Park, Columbus

All are welcome (kids & pets too!)!

This is our annual Unity Picnic which is open to the ENTIRE GLBTQI & Allied Community!

Food. Games. Conversation. Community. Prizes. And more!

The Unity Picnic is open to everybody, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s a wonderful opportunity to hang out, relax, enjoy some great bbq and picnic-style food, friends and conversation! Please bring a picnic-style dish to share, and your own drinks (alcohol is not permitted in the park (bring a chair, sun block and your family and friends)!

TransOhio provides hotdogs/hamburgers/chicken.If you’re vegetarian or vegan (please bring your own ‘main’ entrée), we’ll make sure that grill space is available for you!

Volunteers needed for setup, end of day cleanup and general picnic stuff! Email and let us know!

Trans & Gender Non-Conforming – (Columbus) June Meeting @ PBJ Connections
The Columbus Trans & Gender Non-Conforming Support group that meets the 1st Wednesday of the month will be moved to a new location for its Wednesday, June 1st meeting (only for this particular date!).

The June meeting will be held onsite at PBJ Connections.

PBJ Connections helps youths build emotional awareness and relate how they are feeling to how they are behaving. Their treatment program uses horses to help clients with emotional and behavioral growth and learning.

PBJ Connections guides their clients through connecting how they are relating to their world with how they are relating to the horses. Their focus is simple. PBJ Connections works to provide emotional healing for at-risk youth and families through equine-assisted activities.

PBJ Connections is located in Pataskala at:
9800 Jug Street Road NW
Pataskala, OH 43062

As usual, the group will being at 7pm and run through 9pm.

Please wear appropriate clothing and shoes as we’ll be able to work with the horses. This is group is open to all people wherever they are on the gender spectrum, ages 18+.

The Archetype of Power: Harnessing our Inner Power.
Horses represent the epitome of power. Learn how to create your own sense of empowerment from interacting with the horses. How do we learn to accept ourselves? How do we move through a world that often challenges our self-acceptance? Horses are powerful animals; experience how they stay in the moment to channel their power.

4th Annual TransOhio Transgender and Ally Symposium - Registration Now Open!

Registration is now open for the 4th Annual TransOhio Transgender and Ally Symposium, to be held onsite at The Ohio State University Multicultural Center Student Union.

Keynote Presenter: Ignacio Rivera

Ignacio Rivera aka Papí Coxxx is a gender queer Trans-Former born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Ignacio who prefers the gender-neutral pronoun “they”, is a performance artist, currently performing skits, spoken word, one-person shows and story-telling internationally. Ignacio is the founder of Poly Patao Productions. P3 is dedicated to producing performance pieces, films, play parties, panel discussions, social/political groups and educational opportunities that are specially geared toward queer women, transgender, multi-gender, gender-queer, gender non-conforming and gender variant people of color. Ignacio is also one of the founding board member of Queers for Economic Justice, a progressive non-profit organization committed to promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation.

For event information, and to register, visit!