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«The Voice of PFLAG Hartford Caring Volume 20, No. 6 _ November/December 2011 IN THE PFLAG HARTFORD FAMILY: CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK-YOU to our PFLAG ...»

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Wishing you a joyous and safe holiday season!

The Voice of PFLAG Hartford

Caring

Volume 20, No. 6 _ November/December 2011

IN THE PFLAG HARTFORD FAMILY:

CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK-YOU to our PFLAG Hartford board members elected at the September

Annual Meeting: John & Becky G., Joan J., Rose & Larry P., David O., Jean C., Donna S., Connie G., Mike R.,

Tom & Mary Beth M.

THANK-YOU to our PFLAG PRIDE Volunteers: Becky & John G., Jim W., Steve B., Jean & Bob C., Tom M., Mike R. and Connie G. We handed out free booklets and sold rainbow beads to fund our yearly scholarships.

PFLAG is a welcoming place for parents and friends of lesbians & gays, but we are much more than that.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people are also encouraged to attend our meetings. GLBTI people come with or without their family members, and parents and friends come with or without their GLBTI loved ones. PFLAG is for YOU!

PFLAG HARTFORD MONTHLY SUPPORT GROUP MEETS: Third Wednesday of each month, 7:30 p.m., Immanuel Congregational Church House, 10 Woodland Street (Just North of Farmington Ave.), Hartford. For more information, please call Marie & Bob at (860) 633-7184 or Becky & John at (860) 633-5111.

REFRESHMENT REMINDER: MEMBERSHIP DUES:

November 16 – Bev & Bob H. Student/Limited Income: $10 December 21 – Dusty & Mom Household Membership: $40 January 18 - Eric & Jason Individual Membership: $25 February 15 - Alexis & Mitch Please make your check payable to PFLAG Hartford and Send it to Joan Jansen, 12 Colchester Commons, Colchester, CT 06415 Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays promotes the health and well-being of gay, lesbian,

bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and their families and friends through:

SUPPORT: To cope with an adverse society EDUCATION: To enlighten an ill-informed public ADVOCACY: To end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights.

PFLAG provides an opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.

November/December 2011 Vol. 20 - No. 6

UPCOMING /ONGOING EVENTS

 RAINBOWROOM: (a program of the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective) - - A welcoming place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and questioning "LGBTQ" teens (13-21 years old). RainbowRoom meets the third Sunday of every month, 3-6 p.m., 1841 Broad Street (Health Collective building), Hartford. For more information please visit our website at http://www.hglhc.org/ or contact lizy@hglhc.org or call 860/278-4163.

 HGLHC TRANSGENDER SUPPORT GROUP: Group is currently not meeting. Updated information will be posted as changes are made. More Info at: http://www.hglhc.org/ or lizy@hglhc.org or call 860/278-4163.

 STONEWALL SPEAKERS is an all volunteer speakers’ bureau composed of LGBT people and allies dedicated to reducing violence and bias while promoting equality for all. We speak to thousands of Connecticut students and adults annually. Listeners will meet LGBT people and their allies in person; hear candid accounts of their lives; and receive honest, informed answers to any questions they have. Let your high school, college, business, religious group or community group know we are available. For more information please contact coordinator@stonewallspeakers.org.

 CT PRIME TIMERS, an international social group of mostly retired gay men, will hold a brunch with Scott Pasfield, photographer for the book Gay in America, Sunday, November 20, noon to 3:30 pm, at the Marco Polo Restaurant in East Hartford. Cost for the buffet, including cocktails, is $20. Call Chuck Anthony at 860/646-0504 for information and reservations.

DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL REPEALED by Joe Salmonese, President, HRC …September 20, 2011, will mark the end of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, which bans lesbian, gay, and bisexual men and women from serving openly in our armed services. Since 1993, gay Americans willing to risk their lives and serve their country in uniform have been forced to serve in silence, out of fear of being discharged.

Following President Obama, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ certification of repeal two months ago, and a built-in waiting period, this discriminatory law will now formally be a thing of the past. For far too long, the ban on openly gay service members endangered our security, violated our values, and ruined lives. Tomorrow’s formal, final end of DADT is a monumental step in this movement’s history – not just for those wishing to openly serve their country, but for all Americans who believe in fairness, equality, and the right to pursue our passions free of discrimination.

While we cheer the demise of this ugly law, let us also think about the thousands of men and women affected by DADT – brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines – some fired outright and others who just couldn’t bear the thought of living a lie, whose careers fell victim to this mistake of a law. Now, some want to return to their military careers, but face frightful uncertainty about whether or not they can reclaim their ranks or the assignments that were stolen from them.





And despite this milestone, much work remains to ensure we continue toward full equality in the military. The so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits the military from extending a number of benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian service members, such as health insurance benefits. Gay and lesbian service members and their loved ones also face limitations in areas like family housing, access to legal services, spousal relocation support and an adequate infrastructure to process incidents of discrimination and harassment against gay and lesbian service members. We must also do everything we can to ensure that transgender Americans are able to serve in the U.S. military. It’s incumbent on fair-minded lawmakers to push back against discriminatory legislative actions, push for the repeal of DOMA and pay attention to military personnel matters.

We all know our fight for equality is not over. Our challenges are many: from presidential candidates who’ve promised to reinstate DADT to a far-right Congress that continues to defend the equally horrific Defense of Marriage Act in court. We won’t let any of their attacks go unchallenged. HRC will keep fighting… 2011 BRILL SCHOLARSHIP WINNER, JENNA McPHAIL has also been awarded a PFLAG National Scholarship. Congratulations to Jenna and her family! Check out our July/August issue of Caring to read what Jenna has done, as an ally, to earn these scholarships by promoting equality for all students at her high school.

-2November/December 2011 Vol. 20 - No. 6 PFLAGers: The wars over marriage equality for same-sex couples are over in Connecticut, but are still raging in other areas of the country. Here are excerpts from a thoughtful piece that is worthy of our attention - Becky & John Observations from the Intersection of Religion, Science, Politics, and Culture September 21, 2011

WHY A FATHER OF THREE CARES ABOUT LGBT EQUALITY

I am a heterosexual, married, father of three, who has lived in North Carolina for most of my life. There have been a few ugly North Carolina moments during the time I have lived here …But the ugliness that took place in North Carolina General Assembly this week was a stark reminder that, … there are a lot of people who still wish to deny rights to other citizens based on religious beliefs and misconceptions about sexuality and gender.

…the NC Senate voted 30-16 to approve a proposed constitutional amendment banning any legal relationship recognition for same-sex couples. The amendment will be on the ballot in May during the Republican presidential primary. Same-sex marriage… is already illegal in North Carolina. The amendment is simply a push to put the nail in the coffin, making it extremely difficult for same-sex marriages to be legalized in the future.

The issue of same-sex marriage is complicated in North Carolina, as it is in any state. According to recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, while most North Carolinians strongly believe that same-sex marriage should be illegal, they also strongly believe that there should not be a constitutional amendment to write that into the constitution. As conflicted as that message may be, it is clear: people may disagree on an issue, but that doesn't mean we should play political football with our constitution.

I've had people ask why I am so vocal about the issue of LGBT equality. Why is a heterosexual, married father so concerned with what gay people can or can't do? I don't have a dog in this fight, do I? I find those kinds of questions to be puzzling (and telling), as if we should value the rights of one group of humans over any other group, or only be concerned with the welfare of a group to which we belong. As Elie Wiesel said, "I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.

Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

So, anyway, this is why I care (and why you should too):

LGBT people are citizens. I have friends (some of whom were married in other states years ago) who love each other as dearly as I love my own wife (and who have been committed to each other for just as long). It pains me to know that there are people who reject the validity of these relationships, and who wish to deny these couples the same benefits that other married couples are afforded. These committed, same-sex couples are North Carolinians. They contribute to the economy, they pay taxes, and they certainly do not deserve to be treated as second-class citizens by anyone. Just as it is hard to believe that we once denied marriage rights to interracial couples, or voting rights to women and African-Americans, we will look back upon this time with the same disbelief and shame.

Homosexuality is not a choice. Although science has not zeroed in on any one single cause, the growing body of research suggests that sexual orientation is caused by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. …The following major medical and professional organizations have also concluded that sexual orientation (and gender identity) is not a choice: American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, Royal College of Psychiatrists, and American Academy of Pediatrics. If you think that all these scientists, doctors, and experts are all part of a conspiracy to advance the homosexual agenda, ask yourself this: at what point in your life did you make the choice to be heterosexual?

Kids do just fine in families with same-sex parents. "All of the major professional organizations with expertise in child welfare have issued reports and resolutions in support of gay and lesbian parental rights" (Professor Judith Stacey, New York University). … If you are convinced that kids absolutely need one mom and one dad, you're a) forgetting about the many single-parent families…, b) equating 'gut feelings' with facts, c) depriving a lot of children a wonderful life with a family, a stable loving home, and the best opportunities possible.

Religious arguments against same-sex marriage do not pass the Lemon Test, a three-pronged legal requirement which stipulates that a) the government's action must have a secular legislative purpose, b) the government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion, and c) the government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion. I am not sure I have heard anyone make a case against same-sex marriage that did not invoke religion. … Unfortunately, anti-LGBT legislators cynically take great care to ensure that the language in their legislation is not based on a religious ground -- even though we all know it is rooted in religious dogma. … Happiness is contagious. Really. It's true. And guess what else? Acceptance of LGBT folks helps protect against depression, substance abuse, and suicide. Why in the world would anyone want to cause suffering in

-3November/December 2011 Vol. 20 - No. 6 others? If the answer lies in your religion, then you need to re-evaluate your religion. … Societies which embrace human reason, ethics, justice, and the search for human fulfillment are statistically happier societies. According to Gallup data, the happiest nations were Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands. These countries are among the least religious in the world. Coincidence? I'm not asking you to discard your religion. Just keep it to yourself, your family, and your congregation. We'll all be happier if you do.

Definitions change. Society evolves. I keep hearing over and over that "we can't redefine marriage." Well, why not? We have been redefining marriage throughout history. In fact, marriage pre-dates recorded history. The Bible (which is often used to defend the 'one man'/'one woman' definition) is full of polygamous marriages. There is also a long history of recognized same-sex marriages all over the world (including, but not limited to: Egypt, Greece, Rome, Japan, India, England, Italy, and North America). Over the course of history, marriage has meant different things: Love, the granting of property rights, or the protection of bloodlines. In some cultures two men and two women have been allowed to marry. People have historically married for many different reasons: legal, social, economic, spiritual, libidinal, and religious. So stop it with your 'sacred institution' argument and open up some history books. When you say that the Bible is clear about homosexuality, you must also admit that it was also very clear about how to treat your slaves, and the uncleanliness of women during their menstrual period. Listen. Society evolves. Sometimes we leave behind the Bronze Age mentality of the men who wrote the Bible. You want your marriage to be a religious, strictly bible-based marriage? That's fine. Nobody is stopping you from having one.



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