Obama Signs DADT Repeal, Idaho Professor: “It Lights a Path for Equality.”

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Dec. 22, 2010

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 will go down in history as a pivotal and unprecedented milestone in the struggle for equality for lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

“This is a very good day,” said President Obama, in a moving 20 minute speech before he signed into law the Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” that for 17 years discriminated against gay members of the United States Military.

President Obama Signing DADT Repal into Law

Speaking directly to gay service members, Obama acknowledged a “particular kind of sacrifice” requiring them to, “carry the added burden of secrecy and isolation and all the while you’ve put your lives on the line for the freedoms and privileges of citizenship that are not fully granted to you.” Continue reading

Senate Votes to Repeal DADT

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Dec. 18, 2010

In a historic move, the U.S. Senate passed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell by a 65 to 31 vote this afternoon. Once signed into law by President Barack Obama, the 17-year ban on gay and lesbian members of the military to serve openly will be over.

Republicans who voted in favor of repeal were Senators Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snow of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and George Voinovich of Ohio. Republicans who were not present for the vote were Jim Bunning of Kentucky, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

“This is incredible news for equality and justice. We commend the senate for repealing this discriminatory and unconstitutional policy known as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” said ACLU of Idaho Executive Director Monica Hopkins. “This is a huge win for civil rights here in Idaho. We have to remember there are many Idahoans serving in the armed forces, and now they can be judged on the content of their character and their skills as soldiers. It opens up their work environment to live openly and honestly, which is one of the core values of our armed services.” Continue reading

BREAKING: Senate Repeals DADT 65 to 31

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Saturday struck down the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, bringing to a close a 17-year struggle over a policy that forced thousands of Americans from the ranks and caused others to keep secret their sexual orientation.

By a vote of 65 to 31, with eight Republicans joining Democrats, the Senate approved and sent to President Obama a repeal of the Clinton-era law, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a policy critics said amounted to government-sanctioned discrimination that treated gay and lesbian troops as second-class citizens.

Mr. Obama hailed the action, which fulfills his pledge to reverse the ban. “As commander in chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known,” Mr. Obama said in a statement after the Senate, on a 63-33 vote, beat back Republican efforts to block a final vote on the repeal bill.

Get the full story here on the New York Times

Payette Transgender Woman Awaits Arson, Weapons Trial in Isolation

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Dec. 7, 2010

Monday, Dec. 6, Catherine Carlson, 53, was in Payette Country Court for a preliminary hearing after a psychological evaluation earlier this month deemed her competent to stand trial.

After over an hour of testimony by city and county officials and first responders to the July 11 incident where Carlson set fire to her Payette trailer, Judge A. Lynn Krogh, found “probable cause” to proceed with the case. Carlson is scheduled to be arraigned on January 7 where a trial date will likely be set.

Facing up to 40 years in state prison, Carlson said she sees herself a martyr for an issue she has been fighting in Idaho for several years: dignity and respect for transgender citizens.

Carlson is a transgender woman who had a legal name change in California as a prerequisite to sexual reassignment surgery she had 30 years ago.

According to Carlson, the state of Idaho was not aware of her male history until it was revealed in court over a civil matter more than a decade ago by her own mother. Carlson said ever since Idaho has listed her male name as an a.k.a. despite her efforts to have the name removed. Continue reading

Transgender Community: Prosecutor’s Comments Were Out of Line

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Nov. 23, 2010

Idaho’s transgender community expressed outrage over a prosecutor’s comments in the case of a transgender accused of practicing medicine without a license. The remarks by Ada country prosecutor, Ana Mamani were made Nov. 17 during the arraignment of Kristina Ross.

Kristina Ross

Kristrina Ross (Boise Police Dept. Photo)

Ross, 37, is accused of representing herself as a doctor and performed breast exams on two women in local night clubs.

Ross also happens to be a transgender woman. How her gender identity was portrayed in court, and subsequently by local media, is what has the trans-community upset.

Mamani stated in court, “The most concerning facts here are that the defendant is not a doctor and that the defendant is a male touching a woman’s breast under the guise of being a female.”

“As a lesbian who is legally and physically female, but with a male history, this certainly worries me,” Jennifer Smith told Citydesk. “Given that the charge is practicing medicine without a license, I don’t see how Ms. Ross’s gender has any bearing. The issue is whether her actions constituted practicing medicine.”

Smith adds, “Since many of us conduct regular breast exams on ourselves without our physicians considering us to be unqualified to do so, the charge seems a bit of a stretch.

Transgender educator and human rights activist, Emilie Jackson-Edney said, “The manner in which [Mamani] made that statement was like looking me straight in the face, calling me an impostor, and saying, ‘You sick pervert!’ Kristina Ross identifies as a woman. She isn’t pretending to be a woman.” Continue reading

Exclusive Lands Top Story on Religion Dispatches

Gays Attacked in Uganda After Mag Publishes Info

American evangelicals complicit in the anti-gay atmosphere.

By Jody May-Chang

Religion Dispatches Top Story Jody May-Chang Uganda Anti-Homosexuality BillIt’s 11:00 PM on a late October night in a small village on the outskirts of Kampala. The power is out and the streets are dark when a mob of five men unexpectedly show up at the home of Peter Yiga, a known gay activist.

Yiga, like many gays and lesbians in Uganda, leads a double life, living a typical heterosexual existence with a woman who is also the mother of his child in order to provide cover from dangers like the one unfolding.

The men knock on the door, Yiga’s “wife” quietly asks, “Who’s there?” They tell her they’re friends of Peter’s and that he’s expecting them for a meeting. Just as she cracks the door to get a look, they force it open and enter the house.

Get the full story here on Religion Dispatches


Religion Dispatches is a daily online magazine dedicated to the analysis and understanding of religious forces in the world today, highlighting a diversity of progressive voices and aimed at broadening and advancing the public conversation.

Rally Against Anti-Gay Bullying

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Nov. 18, 2010

About 300 braved the cold night air Nov. 16 on the steps of the Statehouse for a rally and candlelight vigil to draw attention to the increasing epidemic of youth suicide brought brought on by anti-gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender bullying in schools in Idaho and across the nation.

Casey Dempsey said he witnesses bullying “almost every day” at Centennial High.

“One day I was in the hall minding my own business and someone spat on me. There is nothing worse in my mind than feeling worthless and being spat on,” said Dempsey. “One day you are straight and everyone thinks you’re the coolest person, the next you’re not straight and they stop talking to you and all of a sudden you’re getting bullied by people who you were friends with just days before.”

BSU student Justin Baxter described the years of bullying and taunting he endured in both middle and high school in Sandpoint, Idaho. Walking home one day after a bullying incident in his gym class locker-room, Baxter was struck in the head with a glass bottle. He fell unconscious to the grown breaking his nose as his attackers kicked him.

“People do no understand what it is like to be in that kind of darkness,” said Baxter. Continue reading