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A national LGBT history museum is proposed for D.C.
Washington, D.C.--Furniture magnate Mitchell Gold and his spouse, former Smithsonian researcher Tim Gold, are spearheading efforts to create an LGBT history museum in the nation’s capital.
The couple is raising money and collecting artifacts for the project, which Tim Gold said coalesced in his mind when he was reading about James Smithson, founder of the Smithsonian, who may have been gay. His sexual orientation, however, is seldom mentioned.
Gold expects that it will take $50 to $100 million to get the museum up and running. Among the artifacts he already has in his possession are protest signs from demonstrations, film of a 1970s parade in New York City, the sign from Washington’s Lambda Rising bookstore and the violin of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers students who killed himself in 2010 after his roommate posted a video of Clementi and another man kissing online.
Harvey Milk SFO International Airport?
San Francisco--Supervisor David Campos introduced an ordinance on January 15 to rename San Francisco International Airport in honor of Harvey Milk, the city’s first openly gay supervisor, who was slain in office in 1978.
If the plan is accepted, the airport would be the first in the nation named after an out LGBT person. To send the issue to voters on the November ballot, five other supervisors would have to support it.
According to Campos, the name change would cost between $50,000 and $250,000, but he hopes to attract private donations to defray the cost. The estimate is based on the cost to other cities that have renamed their airports.
With 9 million international travelers among the 40 million people coming through the airport every year, naming it for Milk would present a powerful statement on equality, said Campos.
Tiny Appalachian town passes equality law
Vicco, Ky.--The state’s fourth LGBT fairness ordinance was passed on January 14, as this tiny Appalachian village’s commission and mayor passed a ban on discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Lexington and Louisville both passed similar ordinances in 1999; they are two of the state’s largest cities. Covington, a suburb of Cincinnati, passed theirs in 2003.
What sets Vicco apart from the other three is that it is a 334-person village in the heart of coal country; it was, in fact, named for the Virginia Iron Coal and Coke Company.
“Vicco is a community that believes all folks should be treated fairly,” city attorney Eric Ashley said. “We believe everyone deserves the opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Fairness is a Kentucky value, a Vicco value, and one of our most American values.”
The ACLU of Kentucky, Kentucky Fairness Alliance, Fairness Campaign and other groups are currently working with five other cities and towns to get similar ordinances passed in Bowling Green, Berea, Elizabethtown, Richmond and Shelbyville.
Puerto Rico may bar discrimination
San Juan, Puerto Rico--Legislators introduced a bill on January 14 to bar discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
The bill was put forward by a senator with the Popular Democratic Party, which gained control of the legislature in the election in November.
Similar legislation has made it through the House of Representatives in previous years, but was torpedoed in the Senate, formerly controlled by the New Progressive Party.
The measure would make Puerto Rico the first U.S. territory with such a law. Presently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have them. Ohio does not.
Another bill introduced at the beginning of the session, which runs through mid-May, calls for domestic violence laws to cover all partners, regardless of gender and the legal status of their relationship.
Two western states consider marriage
Cheyenne, Wyo.--Bills to create civil unions and full same-sex marriage were introduced in the Wyoming legislature on January 14, after three previous sessions ignored similar legislation.
This year, however, the bills are getting support from some Republican legislators, including Reps. Keith Gingery and Ruth Ann Petroff. Both also expressed a preference for full marriage, but said they would consider civil unions instead.
Gingery is the chair of the House judiciary committee, which is the first that will hear the bill. While he is Catholic, he said that the matter isn’t a religious issue, since churches do not perform marriages to which they are opposed.
“We need to separate the religious issue from the civil function of society,” he told the Jackson Hole News and Guide.
In New Mexico, Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe introduced a proposed constitutional amendment allowing same-sex marriage.
The Santa Fe New Mexican quotes the language of the proposed amendment: “The issuance of a marriage license shall not be denied on the basis that the sex of both applicants is the same. No church or religious institution shall be required to perform a marriage ceremony or recognize a marriage for religious purposes that conflicts with the church’s or religious institution’s beliefs.”
Religion doesn’t justify bias, court rules
Strasbourg, France--The European Court of Human Rights ruled on January 15 that religious beliefs do not justify discrimination against same-sex couples.
The ruling came in the case of two British people who said that their employer discriminated against them because they opposed the recognition of same-sex relationships.
One of the plaintiffs is a borough registrar who said she was disciplined for refusing to officiate at civil partnership ceremonies. The other is a counselor fired when he said he might object to providing sex therapy to same-sex couples.
A bill is expected in the near future in the British and Scottish parliaments expanding marriage rights to same-sex couples, who already can enter into civil partnerships. The French legislature will start debate on marriage equality legislation at the end of January.
What if the future king is gay?
London--While members of Parliament are debating a bill to allow Prince William’s child to become monarch regardless of the baby’s gender, an amendment to the proposed legislation could also establish protections for the as-yet-unborn child’s same-sex partner, if he or she turns out to be gay or lesbian.
MP Paul Flynn is currently gathering support for the amendment, which would recognize the partner as royal consort, and would allow a child the couple has to ascend to the throne, as long as the couple had a civil partnership or marriage.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, is a strong supporter of LGBT rights, so he is expected to approve it for debate on the floor, where it will likely receive support from most Labour ministers, as well as Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives that are backing Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans for full same-sex marriage.
A surprise at the pizza truck
Columbus--AIDS Resource Center Ohio development officer Joel Diaz had a startling moment in the Short North on December 29.
As he and Ethan White were standing in line at Mikey’s Late Night Slice pizza truck, holding hands and huddling against the cold, a person in front of them in line turned around and told them to “cut our gay shit out.”
Diaz recounted on his Facebook page, in a post that has since stormed the Internet, that what happened next surprised him: Everyone else in line told the guy to shut up, that it “was not ok for him to speak to us like that.”
Then the men working in the truck told the harasser that they would not serve him “because he was spewing hate and that he should get out of line.”
“As I walked away with my pizza all I could think about was that’s it! Every person who spoke up to defend us including the pizza guys representing their business was doing their part to make hate a thing of the past,” Diaz wrote.
Compiled by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.