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Volume 21/Issue 2/2003

Rip & Marsha



by Rip & Marsha Naquin-Delain 
Visit their site: ripandmarsha.com

Graham/Studio One to Unveil Official Gay Mardi Gras Poster at KCQ Bash

Acclaimed photographer Larry Graham is set to unveil the Official Gay Mardi Gras 2003 Poster on Sun., Feb. 16 at the, by invitation only, King Cake Queen Coronation Bash. Celebrating the tenth anniversary of the selection of a King Cake Queen (KCQ), the Graham/Studio One poster will immortalize KCQ X Teryl-Lynn Foxx, who was selected by the Co-Captains of the Krewe of Queenateenas.

Foxx will lead the 16th Annual Official Gay Mardi Gras Bead Toss from the world famous Ambush balcony, 828 Bourbon St. on Mardi Gras, Mar. 4, 1pm.

Graham's last Official Gay Mardi Gras Poster was titled "Ash Wednesday" celebrating Carnival 2001. He remains Official Gay Mardi Gras Photographer as well as Official King Cake Queen Photographer.

Posters will be available for purchase at the coronation bash or on-line after Feb. 16 at www.GrahamStudioOne.COM. Also visit www.GayMardiGras.COM for more info.

Scholarships Available for Gay, Lesbian Students

The New Orleans Chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) has announced that twenty-five, or more, $1,000 scholarships are available for the 2003-2004 school year. The purposes of the scholarships are to recognize outstanding Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trangendered (GLBT) youth, to encourage continuing education for self-identified GLBT students and to help these students foster a positive image of young people in society.

To be eligible, the student must:

(a) self identify as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Trangendered,

(b) be 17 years or older as of April 15, 2003,

(c) be a resident of Louisiana, and

(d) be planning to attend (or attending) a post-secondary educational institution.

The application and required supporting materials must be post marked by Feb.10, 2003 and recipients must be present at the awards event on May 10, 2003 to accept the scholarship in person.

Applications can be obtained by visiting the PFLAG website at www.pflagno.org; (fastest response); at The Lesbian and Gay Community Center at 2114 Decatur St.; or by writing to PFLAG-New Orleans, Scholarship Committee, P.O. Box 15515, New Orleans, LA 70175. All applicants will be notified of results by April 25, 2003. Application forms have been sent to counselors at colleges and universities as well as to metropolitan New Orleans high schools. Additional information can be obtained via e-mail: scholarship@pflagno.org.

Interested persons may make donations to the scholarship fund with a check payable to PFLAG Scholarships and mailed to the address listed above.

Financial Advisor Brett H. Fowler Serves Financial Needs of Gays & Lesbians

Brett H. Fowler accepted a job as a financial advisor at American Express Financial Advisors in April 2002. The company was one of the very first Fortune 100 companies to extend domestic partner benefits and also do corporate sponsorships of gay and lesbian organizations including the Names Project, Gay Pride, AIDS walks, Fabric of Life, Gay & Lesbian business expos and Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). That is the primary reason Fowler accepted the job with American Express Financial Advisors rather than offers from several other financial companies.

Fowler strives to serve the financial needs of gay men and lesbians through sound financial planning for domestic partners, income tax management, retirement and investments.

If you’re looking for sound recommendations to help you manage savings, investments, or your overall financial picture, consulting a financial advisor is the way to go.

Fowler is a native of New Orleans, attending both Abramson Senior High and The University of New Orleans. He owned and managed Mirrors Bar at 504 Esplanade. He sold the bar to the late Dennis Gene, who reopened the bar as The Mint. He managed several nightclubs during the next 13 years after moving to Miami Beach. He returned to New Orleans in February of 2002. Fowler says he could not stay away from this city, it gets in your blood.

To set up an appointment, contact Financial Advisor Brett H. Fowler at American Express Financial Advisors Inc., First Bank Center, One Galleria Blvd., Metairie, LA 70001, or call 504.799.2450.

Texas Rep. Warren Chisum Advances His Attack

Ultra conservative forces continue to draw the battle lines for the 78th session of the Texas Legislature. Representative Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) circulated a memo this week inviting his fellow house members to sign on as co-authors to House Bill 38, also know as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby of Texas regards the bill as unnecessary and redundant because Texas law already defines marriage as existing between one man and one woman.

"This bill is a slap in the face to the GLBT community in Texas. The Texas Family Code already states that [a marriage] ‘license may not be issued for a marriage of persons of the same sex.’ Federal law already addresses the concerns of same sex unions from other states being recognized in Texas. What more do they want?" Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby Executive Director Randall K. Ellis said. "The only thing this bill does is perpetuate homophobia and hate in Texas. The GLBT should be outraged. How dare they do this to us!"

Under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Texas does not have to recognize couples united in other states. The federal law also creates a definition of marriage as a "legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."

"I think this issue is indicative of how things will be for the GLBT community this session. The feeling in Austin is that the far right will jump at every chance they get to attack our community," Ellis stated. "We can not allow this to continue. Every legislator that supports this bill will hear from our members. And in the November 2004 election, legislators that supported this bill will hear from us again. We are not going to simply disappear, and there will be a price to pay for supporting this hateful bill."

Last session a Texas Defense of Marriage Act was passed out of the Texas Senate, but failed to make it out of committee in the House of Representatives. A shift in the balance of power in the House of Representatives after the November elections increases the possibility of this session’s bill passing both chambers of the Legislature.

Thirty-six states have enacted anti-gay marriage laws. No state currently allows gay couples to marry. Vermont does recognize same sex couples by granting them civil unions and extending the 300-plus benefits that married couples are eligible for in Vermont.

Vast Atlanta Antique & Arts Festival set for April 24-27

One of the most extensive art and antique festivals ever held in the southeast is currently being organized in Atlanta. Scheduled April 24-27, 2003, the event is expected to attract collectors, dealers, and browsers from throughout the country.

The antique shops of Miami Circle will host the Arts & Antiques Festival, that is designed to raise more than $100,000 for Senior Citizens Services of Metropolitan Atlanta/Meals On Wheels Atlanta. The festival will begin at 5pm Thurs., April 24 and run from 10am to 5pm April 25-27.

"This is the first time we’ve organized a charitable event," said John Tribble, owner of J. Tribble Antiques. "Not only do we expect to attract a large local crowd, but we are expecting people from other states who will be attending to buy and sell."

The event will include:

•Silent auctions to be held in each of the 40 participating galleries throughout the event. The pieces donated are valued from $500 to $8000. Ticket holders are also eligible for five gifts valued at $1,000 and above.

•Discounts on antiques, art and other services at shops on Miami Circle

•A tour of homes Sat. April 26 from 11am to 3pm.

•Free transportation to exhibits and activities along the Circle

•Live music

•Door prizes, food and beverage

•An opening night party at Eclipse de Luna Restaurant, April 24 beginning at 9pm.

Tickets for the event are $100 per couple and can be purchased from Senior Citizens Services of Metropolitan Atlanta, 1705 Commerce Road, Atlanta 30318. Tickets can also be purchased from participating merchants of Miami Circle. Telephone 404/351-6208. The ticket purchase price is tax deductible.

"The cost of one ticket will provide more than one month of hot meals and case management for a homebound senior citizen," says Jeff Riddle, Senior Citizens Service director. "Atlanta has a wealth of antique and art dealers and this is a wonderful opportunity for citizens to discover them and at the same time realize they are providing much needed assistance to our senior citizens," Riddle added.

Miami Circle is located off Piedmont Road, one-quarter mile North of the Lindberg MARTA Station. For additional information: Jeff Smythe, Senior Citizens Services, 404.605.8445 or jsmythe@scsalt.org.

GLAAD Questions Thacker Whitewashing

Outcry from gay rights and AIDS advocacy groups and an investigative front page story in the Washington Post has prompted Jerry Thacker to decline his appointment to the Presidential Advisory Commission on HIV and AIDS. In an Associated Press story, Thacker was said to be sending a letter advising the White House that he would not accept the appointment. Thacker drew heavy criticism for his many references to AIDS as the "gay plague" and as an advocate of so-called "reparative" or "conversion" therapy for gay men and lesbians. He was scheduled to be sworn in next week.

Thacker’s appointment also drew media scrutiny when it was discovered that his anti-gay advocacy had recently and systematically been deleted from the Internet. Using Google cached documents, it is possible to compare the sanitized sites with the previous versions that explicitly demonstrated Thacker’s anti-gay views. In addition to the site mentioned in the Washington Post, GLAAD has uncovered additional instances of Thacker’s anti-gay comments disappearing from the Web.

The obvious attempts to purge the public record of Thacker’s anti-gay advocacy should raise questions in the media about whether some Bush Administration appointees and nominees are concealing their records on important issues. As with Charles Pickering, a controversial judicial nominee whose court rulings have selectively been made available to the public, the systematic deletion of Thacker’s homophobia from the Internet raises questions about how other appointees and nominees are being vetted, selected and prepared.

"Despite the rapidly changing nature of this story, GLAAD urges journalists to not miss the big picture," said Cathy Renna, GLAAD’s news media director. "The media’s recent missed opportunity to include the ways LGBT people are affected by issues like Trent Lott’s prejudicial comments — as well as broader issues like federal funding of anti-gay religious organizations and the battle over reproductive rights — remind us that the media have a responsibility to connect the dots around these stories." Defamation (GLAAD) is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of individuals and events in all media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

To report defamation in the media, to report breaking new of interest to the LGBT community, or to join GLAAD and receive the quarterly GLAAD Notes, contact GLAAD at 800.GAY.MEDIA, glaad@glaad.org or www.glaad.org.

ACLU Files Suits Against Schools in KY and TX

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed separate federal lawsuits against school officials in Kentucky and Texas challenging efforts to block students who sought to form Gay-Straight Alliances in their high schools.

"With these lawsuits we hope to put school officials on notice that we will no longer tolerate their dirty tactics and bureaucratic excuses to keep students from forming Gay-Straight Alliances," said James Esseks, Litigation Director for the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "As theses two cases so clearly show, there is a tremendous need for students to have a club where they can discuss how to deal with the anti-gay harassment they face."

The ACLU charges that both schools violated students’ rights under the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment. The lawsuits seek to enjoin the schools from further discriminating against the students by permitting the GSAs, as they are called, to meet. Hearings on the motions in both cases are expected to take place within a few weeks.

The Kentucky case involves Boyd County High School in Ashland, a rural coal mining community in the Northeastern part of the state.

Last December, the Boyd County Board of Education took the extraordinary step of suspending all clubs in all schools K-12 in an effort to prevent a group of approximately 30 students from forming a GSA in Boyd County High School. The students initially petitioned the school to form the GSA in March 2002, after two former students were kicked out of their homes for being gay. The school’s Site Based Decision Making Council reluctantly approved the GSA this past October after the ACLU sent a letter explaining the students’ rights under the federal Equal Access Act. Bowing to opposition from local ministers, the Board of Education then reversed the council’s decision and suspended all clubs.

The lawsuit filed in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Kentucky on behalf of potential GSA members charges that school officials have permitted many clubs, including the Beta Club, drama club, student council, cheerleading and sports teams, to continue to meet since the school board’s decision to suspend all clubs. Permitting some clubs to meet while not allowing the GSA is a clear violation of the Equal Access Act. In addition to claims under federal law, the lawsuit charges that the Board of Education violated the Kentucky Education Reform Act.

"School officials in Boyd County deserve an F for the dishonest and bigoted tactics they’ve taken to keep a group of students from talking about tolerance and acceptance," said Jeff Vessels, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kentucky. "It’s shameful that the students have had to be the responsible ones and teach the educators about freedom and equality."

The Texas case involves Klein High School in the town of Klein, an affluent suburb of Houston. After students at the high school submitted their application to form a GSA this past September, school officials immediately changed the requirements for student clubs. The students resubmitted their application following the new rules. With the school year more than half over, the students have still not been notified by the school if they can meet.

A complaint charging violations of the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment was filed today in the United States District Court of Southern District of Texas.

"Officials at Klein High School have been sitting on the students’ application far too long," said David George, an ACLU cooperating attorney with the firm of Edwards & George, LLP. "It’s time for the school to follow the law or face the consequences in court."

While the federal Equal Access Act makes it clear that students must be allowed to form GSAs if the school permits other non-curricular clubs, in the past year the ACLU has repeatedly heard from students who have encountered resistance from their school administrators. The excuses used to discriminate against GSAs range from simply failing to respond to student requests to requiring special rules such as parental notification to banning all clubs.

"These baseless excuses to avoid the law just hurt the students who are already struggling to find acceptance in a hostile environment," said Tamara Lange, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "Through our litigation, we hope educators will come to understand that GSAs make schools safer for all students."

In the Boyd County case, the GSA is represented by Tamara Lange and ACLU cooperating attorneys Ed Dove and David Friedman of Kentucky. In Houston, Ken Choe, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, is aided by David George.

The ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project is spearheading efforts to help schools address homophobia before it escalates, with a campaign called Every Student, Every School. For more information, go to http://archive.aclu.org/issues/gay/safe_schools.html.

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