June Fast Approaching

As we roll into National Pride Month, we face new challenges and opportunities. For the PFLAG chapters in both Coeur d’Alene and Spokane, our calendars are chock-full of community events, pride outreach and team-building. Be sure to check out the Google calendar on this website to update your own agenda– I wouldn’t want you to miss anything!

In national news, we lost a star yesterday. Dr. Maya Angelou was a tireless champion for all human rights and her voice, so often the only voice of reason and compassion, will never be forgotten.

maya angelou

In happier news, today, Houston, TX (a very conservative state) passed a city-wide non-discrimination ordinance, protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.

hrc houston

June is going to be a BIG month for PFLAG! Hope to see you OUT and about!!

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Marriage Equality Moves Forward

In the last week, we have seen monumental progress for marriage equality in our country. We have celebrated (and backtracked) in Idaho; we have cheered wholeheartedly for Oregon. And, just today, we welcomed Pennsylvania to the list of states that will officially recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. Congrats to all!

Since the United States Supreme Court struck down a critical section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June of last year, Pennsylvania’s Judge Jones makes the eleventh federal judge to nullify a state statute restricting gay marriage as unconstitutional.  In eighteen states, same-sex couples now have the freedom to marry.

(except imagine Pennsylvania is a beautiful dark green)

(except imagine Pennsylvania is a beautiful dark green)

If we keep going at this rate, the other half of the country will be on board by the end of the summer! Only four states have bans that are not currently being challenged in court.

History: Made

Tonight, we received amazing news: an Idaho judge has struck down the 2006 amendment to the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage. This means that, as early as Friday, clerks will begin issuing marriage licenses to every.damn.couple that walks in the door.

Incredible.

Momentous.

Unbelievable.

Read all about it here or here.

Send Judge Candy Dale a “thank you” card here.

idaho freedom to marryI’m so overwhelmed right now, I can barely form a coherent thought about this. I just want to hug everyone I see and hope balloons will start falling from the sky!!

Idaho, we did it!!!

No Rational Reason to Ban Same-Sex Marriage

On Friday, an Arkansas judge struck down the state’s 2004 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage stating “This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality. The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent.” This makes Arkansas the 18th state in the Union to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay people. Judge Piazza of Pulaski County in Arkansas cited the 1967 decision to repeal laws which up until that point prohibited interracial marriage in his decision.

interracial marriage protestArkansas has become the first state in the Bible Belt to legalize marriage equality, which is huge.

As many of you already know, we are awaiting news on oral arguments heard on May 5th by the Federal Court in Idaho to decide the constitutionality of our own state’s 2006 amendment.

Learn more about marriage equality battles by state here.

Come on, Idaho!!

rainbow idaho

 

Mothers’ Perspectives: Part One

First off, a heartfelt thank you to Bev Moss, her daughter, Susan and Verna Swan and her son, Josh. It was courageous to stand up the way you did last night and bare your honest experiences with the group. It was wonderful to see how perspectives the same exact situation could differ, even to the point of reminding one another what had happened.

Part one is for Bev and Susan Moss:

“Isn’t it wonderful when one person loves another?”

In the case of Susan Moss, her coming out story began at age 16, nearly 25 years ago. Obviously, the societal climate toward the LGBT community was much different. (If you think we’ve got work to do now, just imagine how far we’ve come.) Susan noticed something different about herself as she entered her teenage years, but didn’t have a definitive answer until her first relationship with another girl at 16.

She didn’t want to tell anyone. It is important to note that Susan and Bev never really talked about it.They began the reminiscence by disclaiming that neither one really new what the other was going to say. “Let’s see how this goes,” they said. Bev, Susan’s mother, chimed in to take over a little of the story then. She told us that she had confronted Susan. “Are you gay?” After giving the confirmation, Susan felt like a ‘failure at coming out.’ She felt as though the control she had over her own story had been taken from her, and she ran from the situation, eventually leaving North Idaho altogether for a period.

In the year 1988, Bev cried over the news that her daughter was gay. Not necessarily the fact, but the struggles of disclosing the information to other family members, the unhealthy high school relationship Susan was in and the widespread misinformation of HIV and AIDS during that time. Even though, she’d had suspicions, the confirmation meant she couldn’t hide with her “head in the sand” anymore; she had to wage this uphill battle alongside her daughter.

Advice given to Susan’s parents is universal and so important for all to hear:

Ask your child for three years to fully adjust. It’s likely that it took that long or longer for your child to come to terms with this part of themselves. Do as much research as you can. Get the facts because having knowledge is the best way to assuage fear. Remind yourself that this person is the same person you called your child yesterday; you’ve just learned some new information about them.

This wise, before-his-time man was also quoted as saying “Isn’t it wonderful when one person loves another?”

Bev has long since fully accepted this piece of Susan’s identity, spending years manning the hotline for concerned parents of LGBT persons and providing a safe, accepting place in her home for Susan’s peers. And Susan has returned to Coeur d’Alene and is working tirelessly to make Coeur d’Alene schools secure and inclusive for all students.

Bev

Bev

Susan (2nd from the left) and her gorgeous family

Susan (2nd from the left) and her gorgeous family

May is National Foster Care Month!

Did you know that there are 400,000 children currently in the United States foster care system, 100,000 of whom still need to find adoptive homes? According to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) more children more gay couples are raising families than ever before, through adoption, surrogacy, and artificial insemination. However, same-sex couples still face discriminatory legal barriers in the effort to bring up children.

allies for adoption

An article in the New York Times in June 2011 posits that a large portion of the legal hurdles same-sex couples face when raising children stems from the fact that marriage is prohibited to these couples in two-thirds of the nation’s states. Only two states (Utah and Mississippi) explicitly bar gay and lesbian couples from adopting. But the inability to legally marry leaves many challenges to both parents having official guardianship of their adopted child. Read the full article here.

PFLAG is in full support of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which strives to nullify the challenges same-sex persons face in the quest for adoption based upon marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

You can help too!

Learn more about what ECDF strives to do here. The, head over the the PFLAG National Action Center to learn about contacting your legislators to register your support for the bill.

family is family

 

 

 

Respect for Marriage Coalition – New Ad

The Respect for Marriage Coalition is a collaborative effort by over 100 special interest groups (the primary focus of which may or may not be LGBT issues) to end the Defense Against Marriage Act (DOMA). PFLAG National is one of them.

The Respect for Marriage Coalition is a partnership of more than 100 civil rights, faith, health, labor, business, legal, LGBT, student, and women’s organizations working together to end the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and grow support for the freedom to marry.

This organization is responsible, in part, for introducing the Respect for Marriage Act to the United States Congress in June of last year (apparently just hours after Section 3 of DOMA was overturned by the Supreme Court). The bill would effectively nullify the discriminatory language of the 16-year-old statute and recognize the rights of all married couples (same-sex or otherwise) on a federal level regardless of where that marriage was officiated.

The Respect for Marriage Coalition is gaining steam since last June and just release an ad which features the opinions of three prominent Republican figures, former First Lady, Laura Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney (who has a gay daughter, in case you didn’t know) and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

To see what you can do for the Respect for Marriage Coalition, go here.

 

Laramie and CDA – Not So Different by Josh Swan

Josh Swan is a soon-to-be graduated student at North Idaho College, having completed his general course of study and planning to move on to systems and design thinking and sociolinguistics. In addition to his most recent project of joining the board of directors for the renewed PFLAG CDA, Josh has served on the Associated Students of North Idaho College (the student senate) for two years, as the treasurer for NIC Signers Club and was the president of the NIC Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) for the 2012-13 school year.  He volunteered to be on a talk-back panel for the play. Go ask him a question tonight!

If you want to see the play, there is still a chance! Tonight (followed by guest speaker and actor panel) and Saturday; 7:30PM at the Boswell Hall Schuler Performing Arts Center.

The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later was a phenomenal production by the North Idaho College Theatre Department. If you are unfamiliar with the original Laramie Project, it is a play based on the events following the murder Matthew Shepard, a 21 year old gay student of the University of Wyoming.

As this murder attracted national attention, one crew that went in to interview was the Tectonic Theatre Project. Tectonic differed from other media sources as it decided to take the interviews, court transcripts and create a play out of them. A cast of around 8 then presented the play, each with the possibly of playing up to ten different characters. The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later is a follow up to that play.

Following the murder, there was a 20/20 episode that worked to discredit the court cases that this was a hate crime. They tried to make the implication that the assault was not about discrimination, but rather a drug deal or robbery gone way too far. The Tectonic Theatre Project re-entered the scene and did some follow up interviews. They spoke with anyone involved or just members of the community whether they were for or against. They even went as far as interviewing Matthew’s mother Judy Shepard, and his murderers Aaron McKinney, and Russel Henderson. This play discusses the changes in climate of Laramie, work done in the state of Wyoming, and even work Judy has done to create federal hate crime laws.

As a native of the Coeur d’Alene area, it was interesting to see. Coeur d’Alene and Laramie have a lot more in common than one might think. In both cities, the college is the “liberal hub”  and while the town of Laramie faced the hate crime that led to Matthew Shepard’s death, Coeur d’Alene has been known for it’s struggle with the Aryan Nations. Both cities resent that past and wish to fully put it behind them. They wish to “forget about the past” in order to move forward. This comes up whenever a law to make a change is suggested or someone digs up a past wound. There even is similarity in arguments in board meetings and senate meetings regarding how the marriage needs to remain an institute between one man and one woman. Hearing the same arguments over again in play format allowed me to realize that every testimony against it was like a stab in the chest, another invalidation of my existence or ability to love. By the end of the play though, there has been some progress forward for change very similarly to Coeur d’Alene. There is still a ways to go, but overall it is stepping in the right direction.

Idaho – Same Sex Marriage Update

In 2006, the people of Idaho voted to have a constitutional amendment ratified which defined “marriage” as between one man and one woman. (Absurd.) It’s been eight years since this vote. Do we think the tides may have changed in this, the third most conservative state in the American union? We can only hope.

In November of last year, a case was brought before the Idaho federal court on behalf of four lesbian couples petitioning for marriage licenses.

Latta v. Otter is a 2013-2014 Idaho federal court case challenging the constitutional marriage ban and corresponding statutes, as well as state recognition of out-of-state marriages. The case was filed on November 8, 2013 under case number 1:13-cv-482, and was assigned to Judge Candy Dale.

A hearing is scheduled for May 5, 2014. Hopefully, we get some good news then.

Read the case notes here.

(It’s good to know Idahoans are not giving up.)

 

Safe Schools Improvement Act (H.R. 1199)

As you know, locally, we’ve been dealing with adding the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to Idaho’s Human Rights Act, which would extend legal protections and due process to members of the LGBTQ+ community with regard to employment, housing and service. In addition, advocates are hoping to “add the words” to language in the school district’s anti-discrimination employment and student conduct policies.

Well, turns out, adding the words at the federal level is moving along as well, if not better. The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) has the possibility of heading to the House floor, and with just 25 more co-sponsors (that is, legislators willing to vote in favor), it has a good chance of making it up to the Senate. PFLAG National participated in National Safe Schools Partnership coalition, and by persistently contacting lawmakers, they were integral in attaining 11 additional co-sponsors, bringing the total support to 193. Go here to see what you can do to help. You can also use the information you find there if you plan to attend this event. (We need 218 out of 435 to have a majority vote.) Watch this informative video from my friend, Bill, to learn how how a law is made.

Learn more about the SSIA from the Human Rights Campaign.

The Human Rights Campaign conducted the largest survey of LGBT youth ever conducted, over 10,000 respondents aged 13 to 17. For the resulting statistics on the unique struggle of LGBT youth, go here.

lgbt bullying