Still Wearing Red?

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You should- the arguments to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act are being heard today. So if you changed your Facebook profile photo yesterday (and most of mine did) don’t change it yet! One of my friends has vowed to keep his red equality pic up until they hand down the decisions.

For a good brief on the impact of DOMA, see today’s Washington Post.

And if you don’t have your facebook pic changed yet- feel free to borrow from yesterday’s post.

Pride Foundation Gathering In Billings tomorrow

English: Rainbow flags at the end of the gay, ...

Leaders from two of the nation’s largest gay rights funders will help raise money for students and organizations in Montana at a fundraiser at Corby Skinner’s historic “Castle” on Friday, January 25 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Kris Hermanns, the Executive Director of the Pride Foundation, and Tim Sweeney, CEO and President of the Gill Foundation, will speak about the state of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality movement in Montana and the impact of recent marriage equality wins in the region.

For more information, to RSVP (invite yourself!), go to the Facebook event page here.

New Equality Organization For Catholic Students Launched

Good news! From GLAAD, Thursday, October 11, 2012

LGBT and allied students at Catholics universities are using National Coming Out Day to launch a new association calling on the church to expand its acceptance of LGBT equality. The Catholic Association of Students for Equality (CASE) is made up of LGBT student groups from eleven Catholic-affiliated colleges.

Each LGBT student organization mailed a letter highlighting the benefits of LGBT and Catholic collaboration to their own Bishops, Diocese, and school administrators. The letters referenced how the Church’s stance on LGBT issues has been harmful, using passages from scripture and the Church’s catechisms.  However, it focused on how the groups that make up CASE have been able to work with Catholic institutions to better their campus communities. CASE’s goal is to raise awareness about these instances of cooperation and acceptance.

“Before some of us were tall enough to even see over the pews, let alone understand our orientations, we were being raised with Catholic values. We were taught to believe in family, love, and commitment. To work to ensure respect, inclusion, and human dignity,” wrote Thomas Lloyd, Georgetown student and founder of CASE. “Therefore, it is only natural that as we grew into adults we would apply these values to how we viewed our LGBTQ identities.”

So far, participating schools include: DePaul University, Chicago; Georgetown University, Washington, DC; Fordham University, New York City; Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California; College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts; University of San Francisco;Loyola University, ChicagoLoyola University,  New OrleansLoyola University,  Maryland;Boston College; and Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles. CASE is actively reaching out to LGBT students at other Catholic schools to grow the list of participating schools.

“These students are right in step with the strong Catholic support for LGBT equality that we see nationwide, “ said Ross Murray, GLAAD’s Director of Religion, Faith & Values. “At a time when the Roman Catholic hierarchy has only negative messages, these students remind us that the true Catholic values are about dignity and solidarity.”

More information can be found at CASE’s Facebook page. CASE and many of the participating networks will also be going purple for Spirit Day on October 19, to stand with LGBT youth and oppose bullying. Over time the group will post more photos, stories, and videos, to show how LGBTQ groups on Catholic campuses are helping their administrations and students better fulfill their catholic mission.

Fairness For All Families- Billings

Family Portrait - Montreal 1963

Family Portrait – Montreal 1963 (Photo credit: Mikey G Ottawa)

As an alternative to the Chik-Fil-A fundraiser for Montana Family Council- an obvious dig at gay people and “unnatural” families- The Montana ACLU, Montana Human Rights Network and Pride Foundation are holding a rally nearby.

From their Facebook Event Page:

Fairness for ALL families is important in Montana. If you would like to show your support for equality and fair treatment for ALL Montana families and declare that LOVE is the most traditional family value, please join us in Billings for an Fairness Rally on Saturday, September 8. Details are being worked out so check back for the specifics!

If you cannot join us, please consider donating to the following organizations that work every day to support all families and protect them from discrimination against LGBT couples and their children. 
You can sign a statement of support with Fair is Fair Montana at: http://www.fairisfairmontana.org/statement-of-support-for-fairness-in-montana 
or DONATE to our LGBT work at: https://www.aclu.org/secure/support-aclu-montana

You can donate to the Montana Human Rights Network’s Equality Project at: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=mthrn&id=1

You can donate to the Pride Foundation at: https://www.pridefoundation.org/giving/give-online/

Have a look and do what you feel you should.

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Hate (Officially) Comes To Billings For A Day

From KTVQ News:

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A (Photo credit: Adam Kuban)

Calling it an opportunity to support traditional family values the Montana Family Foundation will open a Chick-fil-A drive through in Billings for one day in September. The chicken will be available for one day only in Billings’ west end on Saturday, September 8th from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. This one-day drive-thru event is called Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day 2.0.

For a suggested donation of $20 per person the public is invited to attend this fund-raising event where hot Chick-fil-A chicken, coleslaw and chocolate chip cookies will be available to the first 1000 people.

Jeff Laszloffy, President/CEO of the Montana Family Foundation said, “A majority of the citizens of Montana share the same conservative values as Dan Cathy and solidified them as the law in 2004 when Montana voted to amend its Constitution to define marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman in this state.”
“Since Chick-fil-A doesn’t yet have locations in our state most Montanan’s were unable to participate in the national event in August. So we created Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day 2.0 on Saturday, September 8th from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and invite the Treasure State to join the celebration and help support the Montana Family Foundation’s efforts.”

Yeah, this completely sucks- and it hurts my heart. But here’s something I love:

From the KTVQ Facebook comments on the story:

“Twenty dollar donation? Why protest across the street when you can be much more effective: they want people to donate twenty dollars to their deplorable organization. They will serve 1,000. Simply get in line, be polite, and pay .01 for the meal.”

Sounds like a plan.

Who’s in?

Update 2:  A Counter Rally is being planned- check it out here. 

Compassion For The Boy Who Cried “Wolf!”

So, I want to take a moment to respond to the faux gay-bashing incident that swept me (and the gay media) by storm yesterday.

Yeah, I’m angry.

I think this may have set things back a bit as far as people taking the threat to LGBTQ people seriously in the state of Montana. When someone needs the help of the police because they have been a victim of  gay assault, will it be met with deep suspicion and possibly a sneer?

I’m also really worried about the kid who reported the whole thing.

I’m worried that this will ruin his life. I’m worried that this decision to report- however it was made- was possibly made under the influence. Bad decisions are made every day under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Montana is populated with an extraordinary amount of repeat DUI offenders. Our stats are not pretty. When Montana police respond to fights, domestic violence or robbery, they’re mostly alcohol related. Ask any cop. In a 2010 survey of  Montana State Prison inmates, 93% had alcohol related to their crime. 93 percent. So I’m worried that an all-too-common clouded decision-making process will become a reason for retribution.

Yeah, I’m worried that the community that so quickly rallied around him will turn just as quickly against him.

I want to argue for some understanding. We don’t know the circumstances. We don’t know the reasons. We don’t know the situation. We don’t know anything- except what the police reports and press releases have told us.

I think that the concern we all had for him can be turned in a new direction- toward trying to understand- and trying to forgive. Youthful indiscretion aside, mistakes are made- and so are apologies.

When his is made, I’m going to do my damnedest to accept it.

Because I’ve made mistakes of my own.

I also know that we’re going to need to remember the response that galvanized a bunch of people around the country into action. Because, someday, we’re going to need to rally around a victim of hate, a victim of injustice, a victim of violence- and I don’t want to have suspicion be the first voice that enters my head. I want compassion to be the first voice.

And I don’t want the memory of this or any incident to overcome compassion’s voice in my heart.

Ever.

That’s my prayer.

Update: Homophobic Attack In Missoula

The Missoulian, KPAX and Towleroad are all reporting on the Missoula beating of a young gay man on his 22nd birthday.

Wipeout Homophobia’s Facebook page posted photos earlier today- I can’t bear to put them up here- they’re upsetting and I don’t think I need to make the point that there are people out there who think it’s okay to beat up people they see as queer- as ‘fags’, as ‘dykes’ as ‘trannies’, as, well, whatever.

There are people everywhere who think it’s okay to do that- not just in Montana.

After the most successful Pride Celebration in Montana history, when more supporters than ever showed up for equality and to support their LGBTIQ brothers and sisters, it’s very hard to see the reality of hate and ignorance that we all have to face every day in the U.S.

It’s not just Montana. It’s not “just” anywhere. It’s everywhere.

And that’s why we can’t be silent. That’s why we need to keep standing up in the face of bullying and violence. It goes against the values of the Montana I know and love. And sadly, bullying and violence still seems to be promoted as a value in some Montana circles (yeah I’m talking about you, Tim Ravndal).

But I still believe more people have our best interest at heart than don’t. The ignoramuses just have the advantage of jumping out of dark alleys.

So, again- please- be careful out there.

Update: Police are now saying that this investigation has taken a turn- from the Missoulian:

Missoula police are examining a videotape that purports to show a young gay man injuring his face while doing a backflip.

The man reported to police that he’d been beaten up outside the Missoula Club early Sunday morning, allegedly because of his sexual orientation.

But the video shows him doing a backflip off a curb on North Higgins Avenue and smashing his face on the sidewalk as he lands.

“Until we finish the investigation, we won’t know the entire story, but it has certainly been a major development in the case,” said Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir.

I’m making no further comments until we know more.

But what I said above applies nonetheless.