Tuesday, February 05, 2008

EQCA to honor transgender and marriage equality leaders

San Francisco – San Francisco’s queer community will be dressed up to the nines Saturday, February 9 for the
Equality Awards and to celebrate Equality California’s 10th anniversary.

Theresa Sparks, 58, the highest elected and appointed transgender official in the United States as the president of the San Francisco Police Commission and CEO of Good Vibrations, will be honored with the Equality Leadership Award.

“I’m looking forward to accepting the award literally on behalf of myself, but on behalf of all of the transgender people that have been working on all these issues for many years now,” said Sparks, who said that the transgender community had made progress in San Francisco, but that “we really need to turn our attention national.”

“An award from Equality California is truly an award from your contemporaries who live and work in California,” added Sparks. “That’s a bigger honor than being honored by a national organization.”

Sparks returned a
Human Rights Campaign Award she received from the organization in 2004 directly to HRC president Joe Solmonese on January 5 when he was in San Francisco for one of the town hall meetings with the transgender community, reported the Bay Area Reporter. Sparks told the B.A.R. “she could no longer stand to even look at the etched glass award when it was on her credenza.”

The empty space on Sparks’ credenza will soon be filled.

“It was time to honor someone who has been at the forefront of the transgender equality movement and there is no one better than Theresa,” said EQCA executive director Geoff Kors. “It was our honor to honor Theresa.”

Evan Wolfson, 51, founder and executive director of Freedom to Marry and named Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2004, will be honored with the sixth annual Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon Marriage Equality Award.

“I feel truly honored to receive an award named for two pioneers whom I respect and admire so much,” wrote Wolfson in a February 5 e-mail. “Celebrating their marriage in 2004 and our commitment to winning the freedom to marry for all—hopefully in 2008, if we all do our part...”

Kors pointed out that EQCA, an LGBT civil rights organization, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Kors said Sparks and Wolfson “really stood out as leaders of the decade.”

Individual tickets starting at $350 per person is still available. To RSVP for the event at San Francisco’s City Hall click
here. The black tie event begins at 6 p.m. with a silent auction. A gourmet dinner will be served at 7 p.m. followed by a special performance by m-pact, touted as “one of the best pop-jazz vocal groups in the world,” according to the Web site, and Broadway Star and TV actress Rachel York and an after party with DJ Luke Johnstone.

The Equality Awards is sponsored by AT&T, Gary D. Soto, Clear Channel Outdoor, Olivia, Stoli, Wells Fargo, Comcast, Hollenbeck Associates, Energy 92.7 FM, and others.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sex and the City star to receive Point Courage Award

San Francisco – The
Point Foundation announced late last month that Emmy-award winning Sex and the City star, Cynthia Nixon, will receive the Point Courage Award.

The Point Courage Award recognizes individuals who advocate for the future of the LGBT community and lives with the vision that investing in today’s potential will produce a brighter tomorrow, according to the January 30 news release that announced the awardees.

"Not only does Cynthia Nixon lead a phenomenally successful career as an actress, she is also a strong supporter of New York City Public Schools and an advocate for quality education and it is with great pleasure that we will present her with the Point Courage Award," said Jorge Valencia, executive director and chief executive officer of Point Foundation, in the release. "For her position in the LGBT community and pursuit of quality education for today's youth, Cynthia stands as a source of hope and inspiration to potential Point Scholars."

The awards will be held in New York City, April 7 at the Capitale starting at 6 p.m.

Nixon, 41, a child star and New York City native is best known for her role as the no nonsense lawyer Miranda Hobbes on HBO’s
Sex and the City. Nixon currently is reprising the Hobbes character for the Sex and the City movie due May 2008, according to the film’s Web site.

Reports of Nixon’s relationship with the education activist
Christine Marinoni surfaced in 2004. Nixon somehow managed to “make her coming-out story boring,” reported the New York Magazine in September 2006.

“I never felt like there was an unconscious part of me around that woke up or that came out of the closet; there wasn’t a struggle, there wasn’t an attempt to suppress,” Nixon told New York Magazine. “I met this woman, I fell in love with her, and I’m a public figure.”

Marinoni has since turned union organizer reported New York Magazine. Nixon has two children with her former partner Danny Mozes, Samantha Mozes, 11, and Ezekiel Mozes, 5.

The Point Foundation also announced the Point Inspiration Award honoree Time Warner.

The Point Inspiration Award recognizes a corporation that champions respect and inclusion of the LGBT community, and operates with the vision that the success achieved by talented young people is limited only by the resources and opportunities they are given to help them fulfill their potential.

The Point Foundation is the nation's largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students of merit. Point provides financial support, leadership training, mentoring and hope to LGBT individuals who are marginalized because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

The Media Sponsors for the event are Metrosource, Genre, Echelon, HX, and The New York Blade.
Tickets for the Point Foundation Award dinner and program will be held April 7 at the Capitale, 130 Bowery in New York City. The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a reception and silent auction and the award dinner award program begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are available for the Doctorate Level Table – $10,000, Masters Level Table – $5,000, Bachelors Level Table – $2,500, Individual Ticket - $500 per ticket.

For more information about the event, visit the
Point Foundation.
First same-sex marriage validated in the U.S. across country and state lines

San Francisco – New York’s appellate court unanimously ruled February 1 that New York must recognize a lesbian couple’s Canadian nuptials.

The first of its kind court decision in the U.S. ruled that same-sex marriages entered into outside of the state must be recognized, according to an ACLU February 1 news release.

"This is a victory for families, it's a victory for fairness and it’s a victory for human rights," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU in the release. “Congratulations to all same-sex couples validly married outside of New York State: You are now considered married in New York as well. Now we need to work toward a New York where you don't have to cross state or country lines to get married."

The New York Civil Liberties Union filed the case, Martinez v. County of Monroe, in the state supreme court on behalf of Patricia Martinez seeking health care benefits for her partner Lisa Ann Golden in 2005, according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit Martinez married Golden in Ontario, Canada in 2004 and the couple celebrated a civil union together in Vermont prior to their marriage. The couple has been together since 2000 and in spite of their legal union they were denied extension of health care benefits by Monroe Community College where Martinez has worked since 1994. Golden was employed as an inventory control specialist and had her own benefits until she lost her benefits in 2004. In every aspect of their lives, from owning a home to legally and fiscally being responsible for each other the women’s relationship is the same as opposite sex married couples, according to information outlined in the lawsuit.

"Gay and lesbian couples make the same long term commitments to each other as heterosexual couples," said Gary Pudup, director of the NYCLU’s Genessee Valley Chapter, in the release. "This case highlights the fact that same-sex couples are entitled to the same protection under state law."

This case raised the issue of whether the time-honored "marriage recognition rule," which requires New York State to recognize marriages that were solemnized outside the state, applies to same-sex marriages, according to the release. The court answered with a resounding yes, stated the release, holding that the couple's valid Canadian marriage at issue in the case is entitled to recognition.

"If a marriage is valid in the state or country in which the marriage took place, New York law generally requires the recognition of that marriage," said Arthur Eisenberg, the NYCLU’s legal director, in the release. "This case involved a straightforward application of that principle."

"Today's decision is a great step forward for same-sex couples in New York," added James Esseks, litigation director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project of the ACLU, in the release. "But there is still lots of work to be done here. It’s now up to the state legislature to finish the job it started last year and pass the marriage bill so that lesbian and gay New Yorkers won’t have to leave the state to celebrate their commitments."

Friday, February 01, 2008

Check out Just Out magazine’s February 1 "news briefs," my article is on page 7:

Conference Held for Queer Youth Advocates
Queer youth advocates working in the legal arena have an opportunity to increase their skills at Juvenile Law 2008: Eyes on the Child. Sponsored by the Oregon State Bar Association, the workshop focuses on a variety of issues concerning queer youth, said Jody Marksamer, director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Youth Project and staff attorney, who is conducting the workshop...on page 7.

Hearts go a fluttering in the February issue of ON magazine, check out the articles I penned for this issue:

Spain blesses California with tales of same-sex marriage victory
The two women who convinced Spanish citizens to pass marriage equality legislation spoke in San Francisco recently to share their journey, and to offer support and a sense of hope for Californians who are themselves fighting for marriage equality…on page 13;

Gay Couples Achieve Big Win in California Supreme Court
California’s domestic partners kicked off 2008 on a positive note when the Supreme Court upheld a law that allows them to transfer property to a partner in the event of the other one’s death—similar to married spouses…on page 23; and

Learn How to Work Jealousy in Your Favor
Jealousy has been known to infect a couple like a disease, but experts say that if handled correctly, it can actually help enhance a relationship.

Jealousy is an unpleasant emotion that is caused by the fear of losing someone…on page 24.