Equity Action honors Frank, Hocking, Iwon and Steinfeld

At November’s Julie Pell Awards ceremony, Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank was presented with the Equality Award for National and Regional Advocacy.

In his remarks, Frank spoke of the election of David Cicilline to Congress as “an important milestone,” and recounted his experience in coming out as a young congressman in 1987, saying, “I just needed to be honest about who I was to people.” Sometimes emotional, sometimes passionate, and often funny, Frank concluded by assuring the crowd that “we’re winning the fight. We will win because other Americans will support us.”

Also honored at the event were Jenn Steinfeld, Peter Hocking and Lise Iwon, all of whom lauded the inspiring dedication of the woman for whom the award is named, Julie Pell. The daughter of Claiborne Pell and an ardent gay rights activist, she is given much credit for the passage of the civil rights bill that today prohibits discrimination against gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders in many areas. She died in 2006 of brain cancer.

Tell Your Story

Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) is interested in hearing from people who have something to say about why marriage equality matters. “We want to amass a thousand stories,” says MERI Executive Director Kathy Kushnir. “Gay or straight, children of gay parents, parents of gay children, we want to hear your voice so that we can bring the personal to the political.”

Anyone who is interested in submitting a brief (200 words or less) explanation of why marriage equality matters to them should contact Hillary Feeney at hfeeney@MarriageEqualityRI.org.

Sarah Palin Misses Teachable Moment after Willow Palin makes anti-gay comments on Facebook

Media sources have called on former Republican Vice Presidential candidate and current reality TV show star Sarah Palin to come out against the kind of anti-LGBT comments sadly typified by her 16-year-old daughter’s posting on Facebook.

According to media accounts, someone watching Palin’s reality show posted on Facebook that the show was failing. That prompted Willow Palin to respond by saying, “Haha your so gay. I have no idea who you are, But what I’ve seen pictures of, your disgusting… My sister has a kid and is still hot…. Tre stfu. Your such a faggot.” [sic]

Over the past year, a number of teenagers have taken their own lives after being the victims of anti-gay bullying or harassment by other teenagers – most predominantly in the mid-teen age range of Willow Palin. Many public figures, including President Obama, have addressed the issue, telling teenagers who are confronted by bullying and harassment that it will get better.

Should Sarah Palin take the opportunity to address the issue of these insensitive remarks – and we hope she does – we will be sure and let you know. (Update: Willow has now apologized for her comments. Still no word from her mom. Ed.)

Election of Archbishop Timothy Dolan a Surprise

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York has been elected President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, defeating the current USCCB Vice President, who is known as a more moderate figure in the church hierarchy.

Sixty-two percent of American Catholics say that homosexuality should be accepted by society and more American Catholics favor marriage equality than oppose it, according to polling by Gallup and the Pew Research Center. However, the higher-ups in the church, including Dolan, do not hold the same tolerant views.

“Roman Catholics in the pews know that everyone deserves respect and freedom, including LGBT people,” said Rev. Harry Knox of the Human Rights Campaign. “As long as the Catholic hierarchy continues to put up barriers to these basic values, the disconnect between the bishops and the Catholic faithful will continue to widen.”

Mormon Church: Same-Sex Attraction Is Normal

Following a characterization of same-sex attraction as “impure and immoral” by its 86 year-old president, the Mormon Church has removed same-sex attraction as a sin in church policy. The new policy, released by church leaders in November, for the first time does not call for professional counseling for those who experience same-sex attraction.

While still claiming that “homosexual behavior violates the commandments of God,” the new policy differentiates between same-sex behavior, to which they continue to object, and attraction, which the church is able to rationalize.

Boyd K. Packer, the president of the Mormon Church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, claimed that same-sex attraction can be “corrected.”  Packer’s rhetoric came on the heels of the suicides of a number of teenagers who were victims of anti-gay bullying or harassment.

Aspire After Hours

For the late-night, LGBT 21+ crowd, Aspire After Hours (AAH) is a new option. Held at the Hotel Providence, a boutique downtown hotel, AAH offers Top 40 and dance music mixed by an Aspire DJ, and a signature drink called the OMG – which is rainbow-colored — on Saturday nights from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The party’s host is Eddy “Drunkerella” Lupien, who promises his “upscale night club for the LGBT scene” is going to be “legendary!”

Aspire is open for dinner until 11:00 on Saturdays, and is very welcoming to the LGBT community. The bar has an outdoor terrace, top-shelf cocktails and an extensive wine list, and guests will enjoy room discounts (hotel guests can join the party for free). In addition, special offers will be available to those who are on the “guest list,” accessed through Facebook, and they plan to have giveaways — like room stays and dinner gift certificates — during the evening.

Admission is $5, and proper dress is requested.