No breakfast of champions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — To the dismay of many within the LGBT community, President Barack Obama joined numerous House and Senate members at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. As always, the Feb. 7 event was hosted by The Fellowship Foundation — a conservative Christian organization that is known to support barbaric anti-gay legislation around the world.

“The Family,” as the Foundation is sometimes called, has ties to Ugandan Parliamentarian David Bahati, sponsor of the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently moving through the Ugandan Parliament. The legislation is better known as the “Kill The Gays Bill” because it seeks to impose the death penalty upon anyone found guilty of same-sex relationships.

Heather Cronk

“For another year, President Obama has chosen to set aside his stated values of inclusion in order to attend the National Prayer Breakfast — an event rooted in hatred of LGBT people and covered up by pastries and coffee,” said Heather Cronk (pictured), managing director of GetEQUAL. “There are so many communities of faith that fully embrace LGBT people and that are rooted in social justice — we really don’t understand why President Obama continues to give his permission for ‘The Family’ to support killing LGBT folks abroad.”

Report examines marriage wins

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — For over a decade and a half, same-sex marriage advocates experienced a long and almost unbroken series of defeats at the ballot box, but in fall 2012, things changed. Not only did Minnesota voters defeat a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but majorities in Maine, Maryland, and Washington voted for marriage equality. So, what changed? A new report from Political Research Associates, “The Right’s Marriage Message: Talking Tolerance, Marketing Inequality,” says the Right’s messaging shifted away from what had proven successful in previous campaigns, even as marriage advocates learned from previous failures.

Report author David Dodge, equality activist and researcher, observed: “While this election will likely be looked back upon as a turning point for the marriage equality movement, it is important to remember that none of these victories were won in a landslide. [National Organization for Marriage] and its right-wing affiliates will not concede future battles simply because they are unaccustomed to electoral defeat. Rather, these groups will learn from their mistakes in order to prepare for future campaigns, several of which are just around the corner in states including Indiana and Oregon.”

Boy Scout leaders punt on equality

NEW YORK, N.Y. — After more than a week of reports that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) would consider lifting its national ban on gay Scouts and leaders, on Feb. 6 the organization’s Board of Directors decided in a closed door meeting to stall. Instead of taking action, they voted to form a task force to study the issue. According to a later statement, the move will delay a vote on the ban until the group’s national meeting in May.

Poll results released the same day by Quinnipiac University revealed a strong majority of U.S. voters believe it is time for the BSA to end its anti-gay policy. Just 33 percent of voters said the ban should remain in place. A coalition of gay and straight Scouts and Scout leaders along with scores of equal rights groups have been working for more than nine months to convince BSA leaders to repeal the policy. Over 1.4 million people have signed petitions on calling for the BSA to reverse its position.

Children’s book stays on shelf

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Davis School District has agreed to never again remove a children’s book about a family with same-sex parents from its library shelves based solely on its content. The agreement settles a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Utah on behalf of a mother with children in the district.

Parents may still use the library’s normal procedures to prevent their children from checking out particular books, but the school agreed not to remove the book from the shelves just because it features a same-sex couple or because it contains “homosexual content.”

In Our Mothers’ House, by acclaimed children’s author Patricia Polacco, was initially placed in the Easy Reading section of Windridge Elementary School in Davis County. After some parents complained the book “normalizes a lifestyle we don’t agree with,” the school district instructed librarians to put the book behind a counter and lend it only with written permission from a parent. The settlement also applies to the three other school libraries with copies of the book.

Anti-gay law moving forward

MOSCOW, Russia — Representatives of LGBT rights group ILGA-Europe are concerned with what looks to be the impending approval by the Russian federal parliament (State Duma) of a bill aimed at banning “propaganda of homosexuality” in Russia.

If adopted in second and third readings and signed by the president, the law will make it illegal nationwide for any organization or individual to publish an article, hold an event or in any way publicly discuss LGBT issues. An overwhelming majority of the members of Parliament (388 out of 390 present for the vote) supported the draft legislation, with one voting against and one abstention.

ILGA-Europe leaders also denounced recent acts of violence in Russia against LGBTI rights advocates and their supporters.

David Stout is the former associate editor of QNotes.