Kirsch headed east?

SAN DIEGO — Dan Kirsch, the onetime visionary behind OutCharlotte and The Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Center, has stepped down as executive and artistic director of Diversionary Theatre.

The Wisconsin-native has been there since he left Charlotte after helping to get the Center on its feet at its Central Ave. location six years ago.

According to SignOnSanDiego, Kirsch hopes to relocate back east in March. Before departing, he’ll help the theater plan for its 2011-12 season, as well as spearhead the effort for a replacement for himself.

Diversionary, a 25-year-old venture, produces plays with LGBT themes. Currently, it is in the top 10 in local theater companies.
— Lainey Millen

Hospital rules respect gays

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare issued new rules Nov. 17 that require all hospitals that participate in Medicaid and Medicare to allow patients to designate who shall be allowed to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. The order will allow for same-sex partners to have the same rights as other immediate family members. The new rules will be published in the Federal Register on Nov. 19.

The rules follow a directive issued by President Obama to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in April in which he noted that LGBT people are “uniquely affected” by being “unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.” Upon announcing the rules, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “Basic human rights — such as your ability to choose your own support system in a time of need — must not be checked at the door of America’s hospitals.”
— David Stout

Gay bishop to retire in ’13

CONCORD, N.H. — Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Bishop in the Episcopal Church, has announced his intention to retire from his role as Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in January of 2013. He plans to pursue a greater role in worldwide evangelism and expand his work with LGBT advocacy.

Robinson’s retirement will come at the culmination of 35 years in the diocese, nine of which will have been spent as Bishop, and a career devoted to physical and spiritual wellness — including immense work on AIDS education and prevention.

“Bishop Robinson has been among the chief spiritual leaders in the movement for LGBT freedom,” said Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program Director Rev. Harry Knox. “His courage, poise, and grace in the face of vitriolic attacks on his humanity and faith have made him a model by which the rest of us judge our daily actions.”
— D.S.

Lesbian widow sues gov’t

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Edith “Edie” Windsor, who shared her life with her late spouse, Thea Spyer, for 44 years, has filed a lawsuit against the federal government for refusing to recognize their marriage. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), a federal statute that defines marriage for all federal purposes as a legal union between one man and one woman. Windsor and Spyer were married in Canada in 2007, and were considered married by their home state of New York.

Spyer died in 2009. Because of DOMA, Windsor was not able to claim the estate tax marital deduction that is available when the surviving spouse is of the opposite sex. In her lawsuit, Windsor is seeking to have DOMA declared unconstitutional and to obtain a refund of the federal estate tax that she was forced to pay following Spyer’s death.

Windsor, a senior computer systems programmer, and Spyer, a clinical psychologist, met in the early 1960s, and lived together for decades in an apartment in Greenwich Village. Despite not being able to get legally married, they got engaged in 1967. After more than 40 years together, they were finally married in Toronto in 2007. Their relationship, which is recognized by their home state of N.Y., is the subject of a documentary entitled, “Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement.”
— D.S.

Aiken supports bullying bills

WASHNGTON, D.C. — On Nov. 18, Senators Bob Casey and Al Franken and Representatives Jared Polis and Linda Sánchez were joined by N.C.-based singer Clay Aiken, “Dancing with the Stars” regular Louis Van Amstel, and Sirdeaner Walker and Tammy Aaberg, two mothers who lost their sons to suicide after they faced in-school bullying, to stress the importance of two bills that address bullying and harassment in schools.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) is a federal anti-bullying bill that includes protections based on race, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. The bill has bi-partisan support and currently has 130 cosponsors in the House and 15 cosponsors in the Senate.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act, modeled after Title IX, would provide protections to students targeted for bullying, harassment and discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill currently as 127 cosponsors in the House and 30 cosponsors in the Senate.
— D.S.

‘Give a Damn’ about runaways

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The Give a Damn Campaign, a project of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, has released its latest video during National Runaway Prevention Month to raise awareness about homeless LGBT youth. Susan Sarandon, Alan Cumming, Rebecca Romijn, Pete Wentz, Eden Riegel and Cyndi Lauper speak up about the need to bring an end to this epidemic.

Each year, between 500,000 and 1.6 million youth in the U.S. are homeless or runaways. LGBT youth make up an estimated three percent to five percent of the general U.S. population. Yet they make up more than 20 percent — and possibly up to 40 percent — of all homeless youth in the country.

Family conflict is the most common cause of all youth homelessness. For gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, the conflict tends to be over their sexual orientation or gender identity. Half of all teens get a negative reaction from their parents when they come out to them resulting in many of them running away. More than 1 in 4 are actually thrown out of their homes by their parents.
— D.S.

LGBT aging conference held

NEW YORK, NY — Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders (SAGE) held its first national conference created by and for LGBT older adults Nov. 11-13, at the CUNY Graduate Center. “The Future of Aging Is in Our Hands” brought together hundreds of older adults from around the country to explore issues such as activism, financial security, health, ageism and more.

Plenary sessions and workshops covered topics such as reforming public policies to address the inequities that harm LGBT older adults; tackling ageism within and outside the LGBT community; the unique challenges of caregiving for the loved ones of LGBT elders; overcoming the mental and physical challenges of aging; and achieving financial and legal security when discrimination is rampant among LGBT older adults and their loved ones.
— D.S.