Saturday, September 30, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
DISTRICT OF COMUMBIA -- Legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate Wednesday that would extend family benefits to the same-sex partners of gay and lesbian employees of the federal state.
The measure is sponsored by U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and Gordon Smith (R-Oregon). Among the co-sponsors are U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer of New York, Barbara Boxer of California, and Ted Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts.
The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act would provide benefits to federal employees' same-sex partners on the same basis as spousal benefits - including participation in retirement programs, compensation for work injuries and life and health insurance. In addition, the bill would subject federal employees with domestic partners to the same obligations as federally recognized married couples.
"This bill is very affordable but more importantly, it is the right thing to do. Many leading employers, including my home state of Connecticut, provide benefits to domestic partners," said Lieberman. "It's time for the federal government to catch up as extending benefits to domestic partners is fair and will help federal agencies compete for the most qualified personnel."
"Federal workers should be able to extend their benefits to loved ones," said Smith. "It's a matter of fairness and I think the government should be leading the way rather than following. I believe we need to rid the workplace of discrimination, not just in hiring decisions, but also in the rights and privileges afforded employees."
The House version of the bill was introduced in July, 2005 and sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D. Massachusetts).
As of 2006, more than one half of the Fortune 500 companies provide health benefits for their employees' domestic partners.
How far the legislation will advance is unclear. Congress is scheduled to adjourn later this week and most Republicans say they will oppose the measure.
Friday, September 22, 2006
KENTUCKY EQUALITY FEDERATION PRESIDENT JORDAN PALMER NOW SATISFIED WITH NORTHERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY’S RESPONSE TO AN INCIDENT INVOLVING A GAY STUDENT
FLORENCE, KY (PRWEB) September 22, 2006 -- Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer stated today that he is now satisfied with Northern Kentucky University's response to an incident involving a gay student.
On August 28th, Jeremy Phillippi said he found "[this word omitted by Kentucky Equality] you fag. I hope you get AIDS" on his dorm room door and that the decorations on a bulletin board had been torn down. Phillippi is a resident advisor at the university and a member of Common Ground, Northern Kentucky University's Gay-Straight Alliance.
Phillippi filed a complaint with the Federation to push NKU administrators to take a more aggressive stance against acts of discrimination, intimidation and hatred.
The Kentucky Equality Federation requested university management assume a more "hands on" role in the investigation and issue a public statement condemning this action with consequences of targeting students because of their sexual orientation or gender identity clearly identified.
"After speaking to Vice President of Student Affairs Mark G. Shanley, I have a much better uderstanding of the situation," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "We had a very friendly, candid conversation about the incident and will keep an open dialog. I thought Mr. Shanley was both receptive and supportive, having made himself personally available to Phillippi if he encountered any additional problems."
Vice President Shanley and Dean of Students Kelso stopped by a Common Ground meeting this week and spoke with them about discrimination, tolerance, and a variety of other topics.
"I think Vice President Shanley making time to personally address Jeremy Phillippi's concerns and speak directly to NKU's Gay-Straight Alliance is very impressive," stated Kentucky Equality Federation Awareness Coordinator Jesse Alexander.
Alexander's comments where echoed by Common Ground's Co-President Mike Volmer yesterday during a telephone conversation with Palmer.
"Because the reported misconduct also represents behavior inconsistent with our University's values, it is important that we also respond in a manner that sends a clear message reaffirming the importance of civilized behavior toward all individuals and discouraging behavior which threatens the freedom and respect that every individual deserves. When the investigation into this complaint is completed, I will personally communicate this message to the entire Northern Kentucky University community," stated Northern Kentucky University President James C. Votruba.
Phillippi partnered with another resident advisor to facilitate a two-day program focused on diversity, tolerance, and AIDS with the University Housing Department providing funding, marketing support and serving as co-sponsor.
Northern Kentucky University's response came the day after the Federation's Board of Directors condemned the University for its lack of response.
Palmer stated Kentucky Equality Federation would continue to support its members and Gay-Straight Alliances across Kentucky.
Palmer and other management from Kentucky Equality Federation still plan to meet with members of Common Ground's Board to discuss monetary and material ways the federation can support the Gay-Straight Alliance.
"Education and exposure to diversity in non-threatening environments promotes tolerance; it is critical this occur during high-school and college, when individual minds are significantly more open to social diversity." - Jordan Palmer
Saturday, September 09, 2006
These attacks, targeted against the LGBT community in Northern Kentucky are record in numbers. Never before has the commonwealth seen such blatant hate crimes related to our community. Education and exposure to diversity in non-threatening environments promotes tolerance; it is critical that occur during high-school and college, when individual minds are significantly more open to social diversity. Jordan Palmer, president of Kentucky Equality Federation spoke with Mike Volmer, co-president of Common Ground at Northern Kentucky University; the Federation offered Common Ground financial and material aid, and plan to meet next week.
COVINGTON - Police believe two apparent homophobic attacks - one in which a man was stabbed - are not related. The victim in the stabbing was attacked following an encounter in a local restaurant.
Police say that he was in the bar of La Tradicion restaurant when a man approached him and asked "if he was really a female." The victim said he was not and walked away. According to the police report, "Suspect then approached victim from rear, stabbing him twice. Suspect stated to victim, 'I got you.'" The victim, whose name is being withheld for his own protection, was treated at a local hospital and released.
Police have listed the attack as a bias crime but have few leads. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his early 20s with dark shaved hair. Investigators say he fled in what may have been a gray Chevrolet Impala with Ohio plates.
Police also are looking for vandals who spray painted hate messages on a local home. The owner, a white woman who says she is not gay, found the graffiti about 2:30 in the morning. KKK and fag were painted on the exterior of the home, along with a swastika.
NORTHERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY - After vandals scrawled anti-gay messages across Jeremy Phillippi's dormitory door last week, the Northern Kentucky University resident assistant suspected the culprits would never be caught. But he hoped university officials would use the incident to underscore their intolerance for such hate crimes.
He enlisted the help of the Kentucky Equality Federation this week to push NKU administrators to take a more aggressive stance against acts of discrimination, intimidation and hatred. Now, administrators at the Highland Heights school say they will consider Phillippi's suggestions.
The 19-year-old gay man returned to his first-floor room in Kentucky Hall Aug. 28 to find expletives and anti-homosexual messages scribbled across his door in bold black marker.
"It said, 'Fag! I hope you get AIDS,'" he said.
Phillippi followed procedures that require an electronic report be filed immediately with the resident hall director and university housing administrators. After that, he cleaned the words from his door and went to bed.
In the days following the crime - officially classified as third-degree criminal mischief - Phillippi also met with the director of university housing and the dean of students. He said he hoped the university would use the case to inform students about the school's intolerance for such discriminatory acts. But he said there was a lack of action.
They "said they just wanted to see how I was doing and let me knew the administration knew about what happened," Phillippi recalled of his conversation with the housing administrator.
"I asked if a statement had been prepared about it, and (they) said yes, a statement had been written up to be released, which hasn't happened. And he kept using the word 'vandalism' which I think downplays the incident. I was pretty upset, so I just left. ... I really felt victimized again pretty much."
Phillippi said 10 days after the incident he remains dissatisfied with the university's response, so he met with members of the campus Gay-Straight Alliance. They directed him to contact the Northern Kentucky chapter of the Kentucky Equality Federation for help.
The volunteer organization works for gay, lesbian and transgender rights, and was recently instrumental in helping students at Boone County High School gain approval to form an in-school Gay-Straight Alliance.
Thursday, Phillippi filed a complaint with the federation, seeking help in getting further action from university officials. "We would definitely like for the administration to take a more hands-on approach with this," said Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "I don't think realistically they'll ever find out who did it, but (administrators) could issue a statement in the school newspaper, for instance ... that you don't target people like this. This isn't acceptable behavior."
University officials said they have kept silent about the incident because they believed that was Phillippi's wish. But school spokesman Chris Cole said administrators are open to Phillippi's ideas about using the incident to teach students, administrators and teachers that all types of discrimination and hatred are unacceptable.
"The strong conclusion that the housing director and the (campus police) officer came to was that the R.A. did not want to call attention to himself and the investigation ... so we attempted to retain his privacy," Cole said.
"But, we are always looking for teachable moments, and any time an incident like this happens, it's certainly a teachable moment. ... So, anything he wants to do, I'm sure the housing director would be glad to work with him on it."
Cole said school officials understand that difficult discussions need to take place about things "in a way that's not threatening or destructive." Cole alluded to an incident in April when a professor was charged with helping her students tear down an anti-abortion display on the Highland Heights campus. Charges against the teacher, Sally Jacobsen, were dismissed after she successfully completed a mediation program, but the controversy raged for months following the high-profile incident.
Phillippi also referred to that incident as added reason for university officials to take swift and public action to condemn acts of destruction, discrimination and hatred. He said he plans to educate residents in his dorm about issues relevant to the case. His hope is that the university will lend its muscle to his message before then. "I just think that if something relatively small like this gets by, then what are they going to do with something else?" Phillippi said.
"That's why I wanted to take an educational twist with what happened. ... So people learn from it."
Friday, September 08, 2006
On August 28, 2006 at approximately 12:30 AM someone committed a hate crime, act of vandalism, and bullying against a resident assistant, who is also a member Northern Kentucky University's Common Ground, the university's Gay-Straight Alliance (campus police report # 060549).
Writing foul language with the words "Fag......I hope you get AIDS" is a clear act of hatred directed to Common Ground, as well as the resident assistant's door it was written on.
One or more of the members of Common Ground has filed an official complaint with Kentucky Equality Federation because the university isn't doing anything proactive to either find the individual(s) involved in the incident, or advise students that such behavior is unacceptable.
The Kentucky Equality Federation would like to see university management take a more "hands on" role in this investigation, and issue a public statement condemning this action with consequences of targeting students because of their sexual orientation or gender identity clearly identified.
The academic consequences of bullying are severe, not to mention the mental and physical well-being of targeted students and bystanders alike. Students at Northern Kentucky University deserve to be able to be themselves, without having to face verbal or physical violence and be able to get an education without having to suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Kentucky Equality Federation would like to know what action(s) are being taken to find the individual(s) involved and advise students that such behavior will not be tolerated.
Click here to sign the letter to Northern Kentucky University's President, as well as the Executive Assistant to Northern Kentucky University's Board of Regents.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Kentucky Equality Federation offers new services to report hate crimes, discrimination, and school bullying; Federation to act as a buffer.
Hate crimes, discrimination, and school bullying is a sickening reality for many of us. From high profile murder cases, such as those of Matthew Shepard and David 'Sinders' Morley, to local, everyday incidents, hate crime is a startling fact of life for gay people.
What is hate crime?
"A crime committed against a person or persons because of a particular group they belong to such as women, lesbians, gay men and bisexual people, transgender people, Black and minority ethnic people, Jewish people, Muslim people and so on."
Hate crime against one person sends a message of violence to their communities, which creates an atmosphere of fear. Hate crimes can range from anti-gay insults, threats, queer-bashings, sexual violence and murder. It can also include harassment such as hate mail, phone calls, texts, emails, graffiti, repeated name calling, following, theft or damage to property.
How prevalent is hate crime?
The United States has seen a startling increase in the number of LGBT hate crimes; this steady increase has been documented in all 50 U.S. states, 2 commonwealths, and 3 territories.
I would like to report a hate crime, school bullying, or discrimination. What should I do?
You can now complete a report online and submit it to Kentucky Equality Federation. We will do everything possible and necessary to protect your privacy, and we will ensure your constitutional freedoms, rights, and liberties are protected.
How is the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community facing up to hate crime?
Organisations such as Kentucky Equality Federation act as a "buffer" between the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community and the police; we are also campaigning for better resources to address hate crimes.
“Some children and teenager’s, especially in small Kentucky communities are afraid to go to the police, or take legal action when they suffer from or witness discrimination, school bullying, and even hate crimes,” stated Jordan Palmer, president of Kentucky Equality. “Schools throughout the commonwealth are particularly quick to dismiss school bullying related to a child or teenager’s gender identity and sexual orientation; we want to make sure their complaints are taking seriously, and make sure local officials stop it with more than just a slap on the wrist.”
In 2006 the Kentucky House of Representatives passed HB 270, a school bullying bill that included provisions to protect homosexual students. The bill died however in the Kentucky Senate.
Kentucky Equality believes a lot of incidents go unreported each year throughout Kentucky because of bad experiences in working with law enforcement, others fear being “outed” or reprisals from their perpetrators. However, unless people do report it, there will be no true record of the extent of the problem and nothing will be done to address it.
Kentucky Equality Federation will do everything possible and necessary to protect the privacy of individuals who do not want their incidents to become public knowledge.