As I See It…PODCAST: On the Record with Constance McMillan

As I See It… Talks ON THE RECORD with Constance McMillan who, with the help of her local ACLU affiliate, sued her Fulton, Mississippi school district for barring her from taking her girlfriend to the senior prom. Constance visited Idaho last week as the keynote speaker for the ACLU of Idaho Bill of Rights fundraiser, Prom is for Everyone.

ACLU of Idaho Executive Director Monica Hopkins and Constance McMillan

ACLU of Idaho Executive Director Monica Hopkins (left) and Constance McMillan

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Prop 8 Ruling: Same-Sex Marriages Still On Hold

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on Mar. 23, 2011

Ruling: Same-Sex Marriages Still On Hold
Posted by Jody May-Chang on Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 4:09 PM

A federal appeals court refused today to let same-sex marriages resume in California while it considers the constitutionality of a 2008 ballot measure that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Today’s decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an order preventing legal gay and lesbian unions.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights filed a motion in March with the Ninth Circuit asking the court to lift its stay and allow California’s gay and lesbian couples to marry.

In a statement released today AFER said:

“It is decidedly unjust and unreasonable to expect California’s gay and lesbian couples to put their lives on hold and suffer daily discrimination as second-class citizens while their US District Court victory comes to its final conclusion. It is un-American to deprive gay and lesbian couples of their fundamental constitutional right to marry. These are adults in committed; loving relationships who just want to live their lives without government interference.”

The U.S. District Court now must wait to hear back from the California Supreme Court on the question of whether the proponents have jurisdiction to challenge the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, which has stalled progress on the case. An answer is not expected at least until September.

CA Supreme Court Will Not Expedite Schedule in Prop 8 Question

Monday was a busy day for legal filings in California’s fight to strike down Proposition 8.

Six major lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legal and advocacy organizations all filed briefs with California courts March 1 including California State Attorney General, Kamala Harris.

Harris’s seven-page motion to the Night Circuit Court of Appeals asked the Court to permanently vacate the District Court’s earlier order to stay a decision that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional. With the stay in place Proposition 8 is still being enforced, prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying.

Now, six months later Harris wrote, “Since then, events have demonstrated if the stay ever was justified, it is no longer,” stating supporters of Prop. 8, “have been utterly unable to demonstrate that injury would befall them in the absence of a stay…”

Harris continues to argue that because the stay continues, plaintiffs’ due prose and equal protection rights have continued to be violated, perpetuating unconstitutional discrimination. Continue reading

How Obama’s DOMA Decision Affects Idaho

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on Feb. 24, 2011

Calling it an “historic position,” Idaho scholars and activists cheered the Obama administration’s move to no longer defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In Wednesday’s announcement, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the act unconstitutional by denying gays and lesbians the right to marry.

David Adler, director of the McClure Center for Public Policy Research at the University of Idaho, told Citydesk the change would carry a great deal of influence in the courts.

“The fact that the Justice Department has changed its position reflects the fact that it can, in fact, change a historic position on a constitutional issue,” said Adler. Continue reading

As I See It: 2010 – Reporting from the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

2010 has been an amazing year for the movement toward full LGBTQI Equality. Encouraging challenges to California’s Proposition 8 and the Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, despite strong powerful forces against us, have set in motion a light forward for really substantive change toward federal employment non-discrimination, the repeal of DOMA, with full marriage equality, and same-sex partner immigration.

However, the epidemic of youth suicides, the rise of Bryan Fischer to the national stage and the tea party extremist’s being mainstreamed in the GOP, and the resurgence of the Idaho Values Alliance, tell us we still have so much further to go in our journey toward a truly free and inclusive Democracy.

To those of you who have supported and passed along my work to your mailing lists, family and friends, those who shared stories on Facebook and Twitter, THANK YOU! I am very humbled and truly grateful.

Mostly, I wish to thank my sources because it is they, who put the faces and names to many important issues, explain complicated issues and help sort out fact from fiction in a corporate media world that is full of noise, spin and propaganda. Continue reading

Idaho Soldier Serving from the Closet. DADT Repeal Doesn’t Lift All Burdens

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on Dec. 30, 2010

Despite the recent repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the policy remains in effect for several more months at least, leaving an estimated 65,000 active duty military service members still vulnerable for discharge for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.

One Idaho soldier now serving in Afghanistan as a combat medic is risking more than her life for her country. She is risking discharge because she is also a lesbian.

To protect her identity Citydesk will refer to her only as “Savanna,” which is not her real name.

“My time in service has been rough,” said Savanna. “I was aware of the DADT policy, but I don’t believe now that any soldier who DADT directly affects really understands how difficult, mentally and emotionally, hiding their true identity will be until it’s too late to turn back.”

“During basic training,” Savanna recounted, “a small group of lesbians were unfairly blamed for being ‘too close’ to who was obviously a lesbian drill sergeant. I am thankful to have had a First Sergeant who stood for what he believed was right. He pulled each of the trainees facing the indiscretion aside and helped us to send home anything that could be perceived to be against the DADT policy (letters, pictures etc.) before the investigation began.”

“I am willing to die for my country. Who I go home to at night and who I love should hold no substance,” she said. Continue reading

One-on-One Interview: Fehrenbach Flying High Since DADT Repeal

By Jody May-Chang ©2010

Lt. Col. Victor FehrenbachBorn on Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio where his father was a navigator and his mother a nurse, Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach was essentially born to serve.

After giving his entire adult life to the Air Force as a combat pilot, this highly decorated war hero has been grounded and sitting behind a desk for the last two and a half years.

After being outed as gay by a civilian, Fehrenbach learned, Sept. 11, 2008 his commander recommended him for separation from the U.S. Air Force under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, (DADT).

Today however, the elated Fehrenbach no longer needs his jet to fly since President Obama signed the repeal of DADT into law Dec 22. Stationed at Mountain Home AFB since 2007, Fehrenbach talked to this reporter the next day about his turbulent journey.

The day of the Senate vote (Dec. 18), “I was actually in the Senate chamber,” said Fehrenbach. “I was counting on my fingers as we went.” Suspecting 61 votes and perhaps some surprises, he knew it was in the bag when his senator, George Voinovich (R-OH), voted yes.

“I knew then it would defiantly pass the 60 mark and I knew it was over.” The final vote was 65 to 31.“Gosh, there was probably ten minutes where I was extremely emotional,” Fehrenbach recalled. Continue reading