Wednesday, August 4, 2010

National Religious Leaders Respond to Proposition 8 Ruling

From the Washington Post - August 5, 2010

Below is a roundup of religious responses; this list will be updated as more congregations and religious organizations weigh in.

Catholic Church Statement by USCCB President Cardinal George:

"Marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of any society. The misuse of law to change the nature of marriage undermines the common good," Cardinal George said. "It is tragic that a federal judge would overturn the clear and expressed will of the people in their support for the institution of marriage. No court of civil law has the authority to reach into areas of human experience that nature itself has defined."

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regrets today's decision. California voters have twice been given the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage in their state and both times have determined that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman. We agree. Marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of society."

Family Research Council:

"Marriage is recognized as a public institution, rather than a purely private one, because of its role in bringing together men and women for the reproduction of the human race and keeping them together to raise the children produced by their union. The fact that homosexuals prefer not to enter into marriages as historically defined does not give them a right to change the definition of what a 'marriage' is."

Jewish Orthodox Union:

"Traditional Jewish values recognize marriage as being only between a man and woman. In addition to our religious values - which we do not seek to impose on anyone - we fear legal recognition of same-sex "marriage" poses a grave threat to the fundamental civil right of religious freedom."

Episcopal Bishop Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles:

"Justice is advancing thanks to today's ruling affirming Californians' constitutional right to marriage in faithful, same-gender relationships."

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:

"Proposition 8, adopted by ballot initiative in 2008, effectively denies gay and lesbian individuals the same rights afforded heterosexual couples under the law. Judge Walker's decision reaffirms the strong commitment to equality upon which our nation is built."

Rev. Welton Gaddy, Baptist minister and President of Interfaith Alliance:

"We are pleased to see that Judge Vaughn Walker was sensitive to the concerns of people of faith who oppose same-gender marriage on religious grounds but that he recognized, as do we, that their religious freedom will not be impacted by the legalization of same-gender marriage. America's diverse religious landscape leaves room for a variety of theological perspectives on same-gender marriage; indeed, some faiths enthusiastically support it and others vehemently oppose it. Under this ruling, as with any constitutionally based marriage equality law, no religion would ever be required to condone same-gender marriage, and no member of the clergy would ever be required to perform a wedding ceremony not in accordance with his or her religious beliefs."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

20+ LGBT Rights Groups & Allies Join Outcry Against Anti-Immigrant Measure in Arizona

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups and allies join outcry against anti-immigrant measure in Arizona

(New York, June 7, 2010) — More than 20 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality groups and allies today issued the following joint statement:

Arizona's S.B. 1070 takes the state down a path that will lead to racial profiling, discrimination and anti-immigrant extremism. We stand in solidarity with other individuals, organizations and local governments in rejecting the misrepresentation of immigrants put forth in this unjust and ill-conceived measure.

S.B. 1070 essentially declares an entire class of people to be inherently criminal on the basis of their race and appearance. The consequences of S.B. 1070 are grave and troubling: the inevitability of racial profiling and infringement of civil liberties; the strong probability of violence and harassment against individuals and their families; and the reversal of progress toward creating a more inclusive society.

We also note that this bill was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer, the same governor who last year stripped away earned health insurance benefits from the same-sex domestic partners of state employees. Brewer's actions as governor demonstrate, at best, callous indifference—and at worst, willful malice—toward immigrants and LGBT people alike.

All Arizona families—lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight—have reason to be alarmed. The state's new law threatens to tear apart families, separate children from their parents and rip apart loving couples who are building their lives together. The LGBT community knows all too well how easily people who "look different" or "act different" can be singled out for harassment and persecution. LGBT immigrants will be doubly vulnerable under this law, which gives license to discriminate.

We are united in our determination to stand for political and legislative change that will ensure just treatment of immigrants, people of color, and all people in Arizona. Such justice requires the repeal of S.B. 1070 and the passage and implementation of comprehensive federal immigration reform.

Today we join with groups such as Service Employees International Union, League of United Latin American Citizens, Asian American Justice Center, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, National Council of La Raza, National Action Network, the National Puerto Rican Coalition, and many others in the boycott against the state of Arizona until S.B. 1070 is repealed, overturned by the courts, or superseded by comprehensive federal immigration reform.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
Human Rights Campaign
Immigration Equality
National Black Justice Coalition
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
International Foundation for Gender Education
Family Equality Council
Two Spirit Press Room
Equality Federation
National Minority AIDS Council
National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce®
Freedom to Marry
Gay Men's Health Crisis
Lambda Legal
International Federation of Black Prides, Inc.
Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
Atticus Circle
National Center for Lesbian Rights


Contact: Jonathan Adams 212-809-8585 ext 267;

Thursday, February 25, 2010

GMHC Report on Antiquated Ban on Gay, Bi Men Donating Blood

From the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC).

For Immediate Release
February 25, 2010
Media Contact: Krishna Stone, (212) 367-1016

 Antiquated U.S. Blood Donation Ban Against Gay Men Contributes to Stigma and Blood Shortages;

GMHC Report Explores Alternatives to Lifetime MSM Ban

New York, NY — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently bans any man who had sex with another man (MSM), even once, since 1977 from donating blood.  The policy does not consider the potential donor's HIV status, frequency or risk of sexual activity, or if he is in a monogamous relationship.  Today, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) released a report detailing the history of the policy, efforts towards revision, and analysis of alternative donation criteria.

Advances in HIV screening of blood supplies since the 1980s make the chance of receiving a unit of HIV infected blood one in 1.5 million.  Guidance, for most donors, takes into account the "window period," the short period after HIV infection whereby a HIV screening would not detect infection.  Current FDA guidance includes a questionnaire of potential blood donors that asks 48 questions about current health status, medical history, blood donation history, sexual practices, drug use, and other behaviors.  But risk factors are not uniformly applied.  A heterosexual donor who has had sex with a knowingly HIV-positive partner 366 days ago would be eligible for donation.  By contrast, a man who has had sex with another man, regardless of the frequency, safe sex practices involved, or duration since the episode, is denied for life.

"Across the country, we experience critical shortfalls of blood supplies on a consistent basis," said Janet Weinberg, Chief Operating Officer at GMHC.  "Yet only five percent (or less) of Americans that are able to donate blood do so.  We call on the FDA to re-examine discriminatory policies that categorically exclude potential blood donors, including gay and bisexual men," added Weinberg.

The report analyzes alternative recommendations for blood donation by gay and bisexual men using a comprehensive framework to assess actual risk of HIV transmission and increased availability of blood supplies. The framework, called "DONATE," provides a way to understand how the use of advanced technology and objective screening standards can decrease the risk faced by recipients of blood products, while at the same time reducing the discriminatory impact on MSM, expanding the pool of blood donors (thereby reducing the potential for blood shortages), and raising awareness of HIV/AIDS risk among donors in general, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.

The report also examines how other countries, including Russia, South Africa, and Spain, treat gay and bisexual male blood donors.

GMHC thanks Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Davis Polk) for their immense contribution in researching and writing this report. "We believe it is important to help GMHC highlight the current challenges with FDA blood donation guidelines," said Joseph Wardenski, a former Davis Polk associate and primary author of the report.  "We hope the report will encourage the FDA to revise its guidelines both to reflect current technology and to avoid reinforcing inaccurate stereotypes and harmful stigmas against gay and bisexual men," added Wardenski.


On Friday, February 26, at 12:30 EST, GMHC will host a conference call featuring the report's primary author Joseph Wardenski. The call is primarily for media but is open to the public as well. To join the call, please dial 1-800-920-7487 and press 95266285#.

The press release with a link to the report can be found here.

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GMHC is the world's first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy. Building on decades of dedication and expertise, we understand the reality of HIV/AIDS and empower a healthy life for all.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Stigma Hurts Senegal's AIDS battle

Fearing society's rejection or violence, most gay men won't attend educational meetings

By Peter O'Neil, Canwest News Service - January 6, 2010

Three gay Senegalese men huddle just after midnight in the corner of a restaurant, wolfing down chicken dinners after agreeing to have their photographs taken on the condition their faces are hidden from view.

Full Article from

Worlds AIDS Day in Muslim Countries