Right-wingers, Lies & Videotape; Deconstructing Bryan Fischer

Jody May-Chang©
March 10, 2009 PrideDEPOT.com

On February 20, the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee turned its back on equality in a 2 to 5, voice vote by saying no to printing the Idaho Human Rights Act Amendment (IHRAA). They killed the bill in committee and silenced any opportunity for public debate on the proposed legislation. The forces of intolerance made certain that the bill would not get printed, distributed or entered into the public record just as if it never existed.

The IHRAA legislation would have added the “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the already protected classes of people such as race, religion, and national origin in areas of employment, education and public accommodation. The wording also included a religious exemption for legitimate churches and faith organizations that felt threatened if their religious beliefs were not inclusive of LGBT people in their memberships or employment.

Idaho Human Rights Act Amendment IHRAA Religious Exemption
Idaho Human Rights Act Amendment IHRAA Religious Exemption

When it came down to making a decision, the Senate State Affairs Committee listened mainly to the words of Bryan Fischer, executive director of the Idaho Values Alliance, whose letter was delivered to the committee just before the hearing.

Before examining the letter in detail, it is important to examine the author’s background.

Who is Bryan Fischer and what is the Idaho Values Alliance?

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Idaho AG’s Office, says “Family” not specifically defined by law – Marriage law is not a “Family” law

Jody May-Chang©
February 22, 2009 PrideDEPOT.com

When the Nampa Recreation Center (NRC) used Idaho’s marriage law for the basis of denying a same-sex couple and their 4-year-old son a “family” membership, they may find themselves at legal odds* with the State Attorney General’s Office.

*Editor clarification: 02/24/09: The phrase “at legal odds” above is meant simply to illustrate a significant discrepancy. It is not intended to suggest legal action is, or will, be taken by the Idaho State Attorney General’s office against the Nampa Recreation Center or Mayor Tom Dale.

This drama unfolded in early February when Amber Howard and Rachel Dovel where shown the door at the NRC and told that they did not constitute a family and would not be entitled to such membership privileges.

The couple told PrideDEPOT.com that since they could not produce a marriage certificate, they could not be considered a family along with the rest of those who have obtained such privileges. They could, however, produce evidence of a domestic relationship since Howard is listed on Dovel’s workplace health insurance plan as a domestic partner.

Nampa Mayor Tom Dale told several media outlets, including PrideDEPOT.com that family passes are issued “only to families as defined under Idaho law.” Dale also added that the city-managed center would “suffer financially” if couples like Howard and Dovel were awarded such memberships. Continue reading

Nampa ID Recreation Center Denies Same-Sex Families

UPDATE: It is a great honor to have just learned this story was quoted from, and included in, the prestigious Williams Institute September 2009 Memorandum: “Idaho Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Documentation of Discrimination”

The Williams Institute advances sexual orientation law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates it to judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public. A national think tank at UCLA Law, the Williams Institute produces high quality research with real-world relevance.

Jody May-Chang©
February 2, 2009 PrideDEPOT.com

What is a ‘Family’ and who gets to decide?

In late January a story broke in Idaho’s Treasure Valley about Amber Howard and Rachel Dovel, a lesbian couple raising Howard’s biological 4-year-old son, being denied a family membership at the Nampa Recreation Center; a facility owned and operated by the City of Nampa.

Amber Howard Rachel Dovel and son Logan denied a family membership at the Nampa Recreation Center in IdahoThe family was ultimately refused on the grounds that the women are not legally married. The couple claims they were told over the phone that they could acquire a family membership as long as they provided evidence of a domestic relationship.

Howard provided evidence that her partner’s employer recognized their relationship by including Howard on Dovel’s company’s health insurance plan. The city refused to consider the shared insurance coverage as proof of a relationship.

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Life as a Second Class Citizen

Jody May-Chang©
December 7, 2008 PrideDEPOT.com

My best friend Melinda and I were having a heart to heart last week. I was telling her how a person is worn down with the daily challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. I am not talking about the big stuff like hate crime, employment and housing discrimination or marriage. I am talking about all of the little things that happen every day and compel us to come up with unique ways, often at a moments notice, just to maintain our dignity and live honest lives.

Now mind you, Melinda is a very progressive and supportive LGBT ally. She has a number of gay friends, clients and a solid grasp of who we are. She has complete compassion for the challenges we face. But even she was surprised by some of the things I was telling her. She had never realized just how much we actually have to deal with because straight people take so much for granted. I think for her it was a light bulb moment.

I got to thinking about this conversation and wondered how many people, even some of our closest allies and supporters might not truly understand what our daily lives are really like. If more people really knew, perhaps it might put into perspective the deep sadness, frustration and anger we feel on a daily basis and that has been on display in protests across the country after California’s Proposition 8 was passed.

For those of you reading this that are not LGBT, I ask you to seriously and sincerely try for just a few minutes to put yourself in the following situations. Then ask yourself what you would do. How would you feel if this was your life all of the time?

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