25 February 2010

You're Beautiful, Like a Rainbow!

I have always loved Cyndi Lauper, from the time she was starting out in the East Village.  (I was there too, complete with safety pins, black mascara, clothes from Cheap Jack's or one of the vintage clothing stores that were everywhere in the early 80s,  and black rubber bracelets, which were actually plumbing gaskets that you could pick up at the hard-ware store for a few cents each.)  I still lover her music and think that she is a far more talented singer than "that other one".  Those of you who were around the East Village in the 80s know who I mean.

Seeing this today brought a smile to my face.   Cyndi has never forgotten where she came from.
Thanks Cyndi.

Construction Begins on "True Colors," New York City's First Permanent Housing for Homeless LGBT Youth

West End Intergenerational Residence HDFC, Inc. has closed financing and commenced construction on an exciting new housing development effort: True Colors Residence, located in Central Harlem.

True Colors Residence will be New York City's first permanent housing facility with support services for 18-24 year old lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth with a history of homelessness. The undertaking was conceived by West End Executive Director Colleen Jackson, and by musical artist Cyndi Lauper and Ms. Lauper's manager Lisa Barbaris. The project entails the construction of a new, energy-efficient multifamily building containing 30 studio apartments, indoor and outdoor community space for residents, and a computer room and resource library. The building is named in honor of Cyndi's Lauper's support for the project and for West End, and references Ms. Lauper's hit song, "True Colors."

True Colors is being financed by a variety of sources, including a construction loan and the purchase of low-income housing tax credits by Citi; construction and permanent lending provided by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Supportive Housing Loan Program; construction and permanent lending from the Federal Home Loan Bank's Affordable Housing Program, through its member M&T Bank; a grant from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; and a loan from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). A portion of the financing was made possible by the Federal Tax Credit Assistance Program. The low-income housing tax credit equity is being syndicated by Richman Housing Resources LLC, a member of The Richman Group of Companies.

"This is a very exciting time for West End," said Colleen Jackson. "After what seems like an eternity, we have finally broken ground and are one step closer to our goal of turning the concept of the True Colors Residence into reality. We extend our sincerest gratitude to all of our funders and collaborators and we send special thanks to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for his invaluable support, and to Cyndi Lauper and Lisa Barbaris whose commitment to serving the needs of LGBT youth led to the creation of this residence. "

"Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth living on the streets and in foster care need our support more than ever," said Cyndi Lauper. "In New York City, the True Colors Residence is going to play a big role in providing these young people with the leg up and encouragement they need. I am thrilled that construction has already begun and I am honored to be a part of this important project."

Borough President Scott M. Stringer said, "West End has provided transitional housing for hundreds of homeless families and individuals over the years. Finding safe, affordable housing is step one for New Yorkers working to build a better life for themselves, and the groundbreaking for True Colors will create a refuge for some of our city's most at risk young people, specifically the many homeless LGBT youth in our City. I applaud all of the work done by West End and Cyndi Lauper to design and launch this welcome mat for Central Harlem."

"HPD is proud to be a partner in creating quality affordable housing that will foster an environment to support and empower the LGBT youth who will call the True Colors Residence home," said HPD Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero. "As part of the NYNYIII program, True Colors will help further our shared commitment with the State to provide affordable housing for New York's most vulnerable citizens. This is truly a special project and I thank Citi, West End, Cyndi Lauper, and Richman Housing for their dedication and commitment."

"We at Citi are thrilled to be financing True Colors," said William Yates, a vice president with Citi Community Capital, the community development lending and investing arm of Citi. "Through both our construction loan and through the permanent equity we are providing, Citi is helping to get the building built and to ensure its long-term affordability. True Colors is a unique effort, and Citi is proud to be a part of it."

"We appreciate the effort on the part of all our partners - West End, HPD and Citi - in getting True Colors started," said Bill Traylor, the President of Richman Housing Resources. "It is an important and unique model of supportive housing and like a lot of first-of-a-kind projects it requires all hands on deck to get it launched."

Acquisition and pre-development financing for True Colors was provided by the Corporation for Supportive Housing and the New York Acquisition Fund. Joseph Biber was engaged as Housing and Development Consultant for the project and legal counsel was provided by Hirschen, Singer & Epstein LLP. The building was designed by Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architects LLP. True Colors is being constructed by C&A Construction Corporation. Support services will be offered through funding from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

For more information contact: Colleen Jackson at 212-873-6300 ext. 331.


West End Intergenerational Residence provides transitional housing and services to homeless young mothers and their children, and permanent supportive housing to formerly homeless and low-income older adults.


19 February 2010

Full Faith and Credit in Louisiana

Federal Court Orders Louisiana to Issue Birth Certificate Listing Both Adoptive Fathers

U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Couple Denied Birth Certificate for Adopted Child in Louisiana

On February 18, 2010, Lambda Legal convinced the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to rule that the Louisiana Registrar of Vital Statistics must respect a New York adoption by a same-sex couple of a Louisiana-born boy.

"We're pleased our son will finally have a birth certificate where he sees both his parents included," said plaintiff and parent Oren Adar. "A birth certificate is more than a piece of paper. It’s at the heart of your identity."

The three-member panel voted unanimously to uphold a lower court ruling in favor of Lambda Legal clients Adar and Mickey Smith, a gay couple who adopted their Louisiana-born son in 2006 in a New York court where a judge issued an adoption decree.

When the couple attempted to get a new birth certificate for their child, in part so Smith could add his son to his health insurance, the registrar’s office told him that Louisiana does not recognize adoption by unmarried parents and could not issue it.

Lambda Legal filed suit on behalf of Adar and Smith in October 2007, saying that the registrar was violating the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution by refusing to recognize the New York adoption. The Constitution requires that judgments and orders issued by a court in one state be legally binding in other states as well.

The Louisiana attorney general disagreed, and advised the registrar that she did not have to honor an adoption from another state that would not have been granted under Louisiana law had the couple lived and adopted there.

In December 2009, U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey ruled against the registrar and issued a summary judgment ordering her to issue a new birth certificate identifying both Adar and Smith as the boy's parents, saying her continued failure to do so violated the U.S. Constitution. The attorney general appealed the case, unsuccessfully.

"Even our opponents have said this is a landmark case," said Ken Upton, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal, "and we're pleased the court agrees that it's wrong to punish children just because the Registrar doesn't like their parents."


18 February 2010

Bill to Ban US Currency in South Carolina from SCNow

OK.  So this one is not about Texas.

COLUMBIA—State Rep. Mike Pitts has introduced a bill that would require South Carolina to abandon U.S. currency as legal tender.
“The bill basically gives the state the ability to honor gold and silver coinage,” said Pitts, a Republican from Laurens.
“It also gives the state the ability to say we won’t use legal printed tender as currency within the state,” he said.
“I don’t want to go as far as to say it’s laughable,” said Dr. Neal Thigpen, a longtime political analyst and former chair of the political science department at Francis Marion University.
“With all the difficulties that this state is facing, for the General Assembly to take up that kind of proposed legislation, I would just view it as a complete waste of time,” said Thigpen.
Pitts says he’s introducing the bill in order to make a statement about state’s rights.
“The Federal Government has consistently eroded the 9th and 10th Amendments, the sovereignty of the state and the state’s rights, using the Interstate Commerce Act and a variety of regulations,” said Pitts.
He says he would love to see a debate in the Supreme Court about the state’s right to govern itself.
Pitts also says there are other lawmakers who would support the bill.
“If public pressure is out there for other legislators to join this bill then that constituency will make their voice heard and those legislators will become sponsors of the bill,” he said.
However, Thigpen is skeptical and said he believes lawmakers will be cool to the idea.
“Now maybe they won’t belittle it, because the guy is a colleague,” he said, “but I’d be surprised if practically anybody signs on with him on it.”
Pitts does concede it’s unlikely the bill will ever pass.
“I think it has a very slim margin to pass. I don’t think there’s intestinal fortitude in the General Assembly to test constitutionality on any issue,” Pitts said.
He says if the Federal Government continues to spend at the current rate, there’s a chance the U.S. economy could collapse and printed money would become worthless.
He says gold and silver would always have value.
Pitts says the idea isn’t so crazy, because many people thought it wasn’t possible for the Soviet Union to collapse 20 years ago.“I just think that if that’s the most pressing problem that the state of South Carolina faces, then things must be a heck of a lot better out there than I think,” said Thigpen.

Pitts Introduces Bill to Ban US Currency in State SCNow

Sorry, Texas

Honestly, I did not start out this series to make fun of the state of Texas.  As Counterlight pointed out, much progress is being made.  Houston has an openly gay mayor and President Obama did well in most of the major cities.     However, I could not resist this article from the Texas Tribune entitled:

"Meet the Flintstones"

"Nearly a third of Texans believe humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time, and more than half disagree with the theory that humans developed from earlier species of animals, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

"The differences in beliefs about evolution and the length of time that living things have existed on earth are reflected in the political and religious preference of our respondents, who were asked four questions about biological history and God..."

Follow the link to read the whole article.  http://www.texastribune.org/stories/2010/feb/17/meet-flintstones/

16 February 2010

The Anglican Church in Southern Africa Speaks Out Against Homophobia

The Bishops of the Anglica Church in Southern Africa (Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha) issue a press release in which they do not only condemn the current proposed legislation in Unganda, but also about the way that LGBT persons are treated in most of sub-Saharan Africa.     

This is indeed progress.

We, the Bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, meeting at Thokoza Conference Centre, Swaziland, from 8 to 12 February 2010, are disturbed by the debate among Ugandan law-makers of a draft bill that seek to criminalize homosexuality and to prosecute gay people. It even proposes imposing the death penalty, which we regard as a breach of God’s commandment, “You shall not murder,” given in Exodus 20:13. We also deplore the statement, attributed to our fellow Bishop, describing those who are opposed to this legislation as “lovers of evil”. Though there are a breadth of theological views among us on matters of human sexuality, we see this Bill as a gross violation of human rights and we therefore strongly condemn such attitudes and behaviour towards other human beings. We emphasize the teachings of the Scriptures that all human beings are created in the image of God and therefore must be treated with respect and accorded human dignity.

We are therefore also deeply concerned about the violent language used against the gay community across Sub-Saharan Africa. We thus appeal to law-makers to defend the rights of these minorities. As Bishops we believe that it is immoral to permit or support oppression of, or discrimination against, people on the grounds of their sexual orientation, and contrary to the teaching of the gospel; particularly Jesus’ command that we should love one another as he has loved us, without distinction (John 13:34-35). We commit ourselves to teach, preach and act against any laws that undermine human dignity and oppress any and all minorities, even as we call for Christians and all people to uphold the standards of holiness of life.

We call on all Christians to stand up against this Bill so that its provisions do not become law in Uganda or anywhere else in the world. We also call on our President and law-makers to engage in dialogue with their counterparts on the rights of minorities.


Homeschoolers in Texas

Seen at a rally for Rick Perry, the secessionist Governor of Texas who is up for reelection.
I think the photo says it all.

12 February 2010

Texas Scares Me

I must admit to having been in Texas only a few times in my life, mostly for business.  I have had several room-mates from Texas, including a bona fide beauty queen from the Rio Grande Valley, and no, it was a woman and not a beauty "queen".  I've had, and still have, quite a few friends in and from the Lone Star State.  But the entire place just seems to scare the bejesus out of me.

A case in point, The New York Times, in their Sunday Magazine section this week has a long and very in-depth article on the way that school books are chosen in Texas.   Last year the Texas Board of Education rewrote science.  This year they seem to be doing the same to history in order to show that America is and always has been a Christian nation with a God-given purpose.

Below is just an excerpt from the article,  the last sentence is the scariest in the quote, but the article will have you wanting us to pay Mexico to take Texas back:

The Christian “truth” about America’s founding has long been taught in Christian schools, but not beyond. Recently, however — perhaps out of ire at what they see as an aggressive, secular, liberal agenda in Washington and perhaps also because they sense an opening in the battle, a sudden weakness in the lines of the secularists — some activists decided that the time was right to try to reshape the history that children in public schools study. Succeeding at this would help them toward their ultimate goal of reshaping American society. As Cynthia Dunbar, a Christian activist on the Texas board, put it, “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.”

And this little gem:

The board considered an amendment to require students to evaluate the contributions of significant Americans. The names proposed included Thurgood Marshall, Billy Graham, Newt Gingrich, William F. Buckley Jr., Hillary Rodham Clinton and Edward Kennedy. All passed muster except Kennedy, who was voted down.

For the full article go to:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/magazine/14texbooks-t.html

Be prepared to be very, very afraid for the education of this next generation.

05 February 2010

Albania Passes LGBT Rights Bill but falls short of Marriage Equality

Gay rights advocates in Albania are welcoming the partial victory of an antidiscrimination law parliament passed Thursday. The law includes protections for the LGBT community, but it drops a provision to legalize same-sex marriages that drew international attention this past summer.

See the Advocate for the full article.

Albanian Law Drops Gay Marriage Proposal News Advocate.com

If Albania can do this, why can't the USA?
Just asking?