Welfare Warriors


spring
2005

MW voice FEATURE

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War

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Corporate war on the people

youth/ disabled/  gay news

Resistance in the War
Against the Poor

other SPRING 2005 articles

 

  Spring 2005


Youth, Gay & Disability News

More Salad, Please

 

Students from Sisson Middle School in California crashed the monthly meeting of the school district trustees. The students demanded more nutritious school lunches, including salads. They presented trustees with a student poll. 90% of Sisson students rated their school lunches between “Don’t like” and “Horrible.”

            Sisson lunches are pre-packaged. The plastic wrap that covers the lunches melts in the microwave. Cheese is often moldy. One girl found a worm in her lunch.

            The students passed some of the food around for trustees to taste. “That’s bad,” said trustee Chuck Rosencrantz. Superintendent Mitrovich wants nearby Weed Elementary School to bring meals from their kitchen to Sisson.

Info from The Dunsmuir News

924B N. Mount Shasta Blvd, Mount Shasta, CA 96067

 

 

Yakama Nation Teens Organize Relay on the Rez

Yakama Nation teens traveled to Olympia, WA, their state capitol, on March 3 to participate in the American Cancer Society’s lobby day. The teens set up tents around the Tivoli Fountain. They wore traditional Yakama outfits and did traditional dances. They rallied for a statewide smoking ban and funding for the state’s Basic Health Plan and Breast and Cervical Health Program.

            The teens belonged to a youth group who organized Relay on the Rez, It was the first American Cancer Society Relay for Life in the country started by American Indian youths. The event will take place July 15-16 on the Yakima Reservation.

            The teens met a Senator with multiple myeloma and the Governor who has breast cancer. They presented them with blankets, a pin and an invitation to Relay on the Rez. The teens lobbied for stricter regulation of tobacco advertising. They think it’s wrong that some ads are geared directly toward Indian teens.  They also want public spaces to be smoke-free. Yakama elders who accompanied the teens told politicians about their own experience with cancer, long commutes to treatment centers, and miscommunications and misunderstandings. All the politicians agreed to send letters of support to the Rez.

            After a photo session in the House Chamber, the teens headed back to their tents.

Info from News from Indian Country

 

 

 

Immigrant Youth Organize in Chinatown

 

All of the youth members of CYOC Community Youth Organizing Campaign are recent immigrants or refugees. They organize recent immigrant Chinatown residents who work mostly in restaurant and garment shops. They work on immigration and gentrification issues, labor and housing issues.

            Three construction workers fell off scaffolding because it was not built to code. A restaurant worker cut off the end of his finger and couldn’t go to the hospital till his shift ended. A garment worker works 80 hours per week but hasn’t been paid in three months. There is a link between all these worker’s rights problems. CYOC helps people understand that these are community problems, not just individual ones.

            Youth are best able to do this work. Most adults are too busy. Even those with low-wage jobs fear losing them. They don’t want to make trouble. They see how others are being deported and detained. They are afraid it will happen to them.

            Youth organizers met with community members who have had difficulties getting driver’s licenses and state IDs. They are organizing with council Migration Service of Philadelphia. They are lobbying the immigration arm of the Bureau of Homeland Security to change its local practices with stamping asylees’ passports.  In May 2004, CYOC organized a community forum to engage greater numbers of people in action to make change.

Info from Resist

259 Elm St., Ste 201, Somerville, MA 02144

 

Alaskan Youth Take Lead in Protecting Earth

 

In 1998, six teenagers formed the Alaska Youth for Environmental Action {AYEA). In six years AYEA has trained 650 teenagers and received 23 awards. They have won progressive pesticide policies at their schools. They published a statewide recycling curriculum. And they helped pass legislation on cruise ship pollution.

AYEA brings youth from vastly different communities together. They learn about one another’s culture, economy, geography and unique environmental challenges. Because of its emphasis on cross-cultural understanding, AYEA has developed a membership that is almost 40% rural and Alaska Native youth.

            AYEA has trained hundreds of teens about the environment and how to do public speaking and run effective meetings. They learn how to survey their community, identify environmental issues, propose solutions and develop an action plan. Teens plan and facilitate trainings, run local chapters and sit on the Statewide Advisory Group. AYEA places youth on the boards of environmental organizations like Alaska Conservation Voters, Sierra Club and Alaska Conservation Council.

            AYEA hosts an annual Civics and Conservation Summit. Teens learn how the legislature works. They analyze legislation affecting their communities. And they speak about these issues with  state politicians. Through the summit teens have addressed fish farming, pesticide tracking, coal bet methane development and cruise ship pollution.

            For each issue AYEA youth address, the National Wildlife Foundation connects them with local resources. When they wanted to put together a recycling curriculum, they did got help from Green Star  and Alaska Center for the Environment. They joined forces with Alaska Community Action on Toxics  to pass a school pesticide policy.

Info from RESIST

 


San Diego FIST Fights Campus Racism

 

The San Diego chapter of Fight Imperialism-Stand Together (FIST) operates out of Southwestern College. Most of the students in this college are of Mexican descent. Some live in Tijuana, Mexico. Most commute to the US each day. Many are not “legal”. They have to pay higher tuition, don’t qualify for financial aid, can’t apply for scholarships. They also have to worry about incarceration and deportation.

            Recently the Southwestern College newspaper, The Sun, ran an editorial called “Illegal Immigrants Are Taxing on American Citizens.” It stated, “It is time to burn the leeches off of our society and crack down on the people who flagrantly take advantage of America’s wealth and prosperity.” The article also included fictitious quotes.

            In response, FIST, MEChA and other campus organizations formed the ERACISM coalition. They collected over 700 signatures from students who felt attacked, harassed and let down by Southwestern College and The Sun. They demanded:  a printed apology from the Sun; a retraction of the statement, “It’s time to burn…”; the student coalition’s rebuttal printed uncensored; and no more racist propaganda in the paper.

            The administration responded by sending campus police to harass students. They tried to prevent the distribution of flyers and collection of signatures. The Sun sent a letter to ERACISM that failed to address their demands. Instead it offered free advertising for future events.

ERACISM held a campus rally that received strong support from students and members of the local labor and anti-war community.

                                                                               Info from Workers World

 

Women Over-Represented in Drug Ads

 

A 20-year study found that women are far more likely than men to show up in ads for drugs in psychiatry journals. Women are portrayed as submissive, sexy or asleep. But men in the ads were usually in active professional roles.

            In 1981, there were equal numbers of men and women in psychiatric ads. By 2001, 80% of people depicted in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry were women. And 88% of those shown in the American Journal of Psychiatry were women. In ads for antidepressants, 100% were women. 88% of the drug ads depicted white people.

Info from The Washington Post

 

Advocates Protest PhRMA’s Take Over of Mental Health System

 

MindFreedom International held a peaceful protest and press conference in front of the headquarters of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Researchers of America (PhRMA) on May 2 in Washington DC.

Protesters announced, “The drug industry has taken over the mental health system. And we want it back.” David Oaks, Director of MindFreedom, said “Drug corporations have America’s youth in their cross hairs.”

Bush wants universal screening of all US youth by programs developed by the psychiatric drug industry. The Mind Freedom press conference announced a new national campaign to oppose this screening. Activists will bring allegations of Bush’s abuse of the mental health system to the international community via the UN and World Health Organization.

Representatives of mental health advocacy groups from the US, British Columbia and Hungary also told PhRMA to stop supporting forced psychiatric drugging. They demanded that the drug companies be truthful about the clinical trials and side effects of drugs their member companies profit from.

            On March 3, MindFreedom International wrote a letter to PhRMA stating their demands. They offered to meet with PhRMA to address their concerns. PhRMA never responded. Attorney Jim Gottstein of the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights in Alaska said, “PhRMA represents the Big Lie of Big Pharma. It must be called to account for its despicable sacrifice of people on the altar of corporate profits.”

Info from MindFreedom

 

Victory for Mental Health Sabotaged

 

In November Californians voted for Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). Voters were told that $275 million would be used for voluntary, community-based services. These services would be client-centered and support choice, autonomy and self-determination.

But on Feb. 15, the California Department of Mental Health (CA DMH) announced they would allow MHSA funds to be used for involuntary treatment. This will include court-ordered outpatient commitment. (Laura’s Law) Laura’s Law expands criteria for court-ordered forced treatment. But it requires counties to pay for it themselves. This has kept counties from implementing forced treatment up until now.

            The California Network of Mental Health Clients (CNMHC) has launched an international letter-writing campaign. They urge folks to tell the CA DMH that forced and coercive treatment represents a dangerous retreat from the voluntary, community-based, client-centered competent services and supports. And forced treatment is NOT what California voters were promised under Prop 63.

            In New York, “Kendra’s Law” has been opposed by a coalition of clients, service providers and civil rights lawyers. (Kendra’s Law allows forced “treatment” (drugging) of mental health patients.) They are working to stop NY Gov. Pataki from making it permanent in June. A recent study shows that people of color have been disproportionately subjected to court-ordered forced outpatient drugging in New York State.

Info from San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center

 

 

 

 

U.S. Mental Health Screening A Dangerous Reality

 

President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health has begun screening school children in nine states. Psychiatrists at the University of Texas with financial ties to big drug companies developed the screening.  The screen is used to remove children from their parents’ care and incarcerate them in psychiatric facilities. There they are forced to take multiple psychiatric drugs, which are so dangerous they carry a Black Box warning. Even short exposure to these drugs puts children at twice the risk of suicidal behavior.

            In the late fall of 2003, psychologists from the University of Texas visited Dessau Middle School in Pfugerville, TX. They conducted a mental health screening of sixth and seventh grade girls. Six weeks later a child-protection worker went to the school and interviewed 13-year-old Aliah Gleason. They called her father and told him to take Aliah to Austin State Mental Hospital. When he refused, the CPS worker placed Aliah in emergency custody. She had a police officer drive the girl to the hospital.

            The Gleasons were not allowed to see or speak to Aliah for five months. She spent a total of nine months in the hospital and residential treatment facilities. While in the hospital, she was placed in restraints over 26 times. She was given at least 12 different psychiatric drugs, many of them simultaneously, against her will and without her parents’ consent. What, if anything, was wrong with her remains cloudy.

            Aliah was given the antidepressants Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Desyrel and Ativan, an antianxiety drug. She was given the “atypical antipsychotics” Geodon And Abilify-plus and an older antipsychotic, Haldol. She was given the anticonvulsants Trileptal and Depakote to control seizure disorders that she did not have. She was given Cogentin, an anti-Parkinson’s drug, to control the side effects of the antipsychotic drugs. When she was transferred to the residential facility, she was on five different drugs. Once there, she was put on Risperdal, an atypical.

            Antidepressants are marketed to huge audiences as lifestyle drugs. Antipsychotics are aimed at schizophrenics and people with bipolar disorder. Atypicals are profitable because they are as much as 10 times more expensive than the old antipsychotics like Haldol.  In 2004, sales of atypicals totaled $8.8 billion. $2.4 billon of this was paid for by state Medicaid funds.

            Doctors are giving psychiatric drugs to over 8 million American children-- some as young as age two. Most of these drugs have not been properly tested or approved for children. Two investigators were fired for exposing the drug industry’s inappropriate medicating of patients, particularly children. They have sued the state of Pennsylvania for exposing the drug industry’s undue influence over state prescribing practices.

Info from Alliance for Human Research Protection

 

 

Drugging Children Has Dangerous Consequences

Bush’s New Freedoms Commission on Mental Health wants TeenScreen to give all children a mental health check-up before graduation from high school. This is a drug company marketing scheme to get more kids hooked into the psychiatric system.

            The New Freedom Commission’s drug treatment program for children mandates specific drugs for the children deemed “mentally ill.” These include Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Wellbutron, Zyban, Remeron, Serzone, Effexor, Buspar, Adderall, and others. In March 2004 at a public hearing, dozens of people testified about suicide and violence committed by people on these drugs. So the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory about the risks associated with these drugs.

            These very expensive drugs are dangerous. And they don’t even work on children. Two-thirds of the trials by drug manufacturers found that these drugs preformed no better than sugar pills. The details of these trials were kept from doctors and parents.

A study of over 4,400 children revealed a 4% risk of suicidal behavior or thinking during the first few months of treatment. Kids receiving a sugar pill had a 2% risk. A study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh found that 23% of children aged 8-18 who took Prozac suffered mania or manic symptoms. Another 19% became aggressive and hostile.

            Jeff Weise, 16, killed nine people and himself in Red Lake, MN. At the time he was under the influence of Prosac. His aunt said. “They kept upping the dose for him. And by the end, he was taking three of the 20 milligram pills a day.”

            Eric Harris killed 12 people and himself and injured many others at Columbine High School.        Court records show that Harris’s Luvox prescription had been filled 10 times between April 1998 and March 1999. Three months before the shooting, his dosage had been increased. Mark Taylor, one of Harris’ victims, endured three years of surgeries due to gunshot wounds. He is suing Solvay Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Luvos.   

Florida House Bill 209 would stop the state from rejecting public school students whose parents refuse to put them on drugs. Florida Senate Bill 1766 would require full disclosure to parents if school administrators refer their children for psychiatric care.

            Ken Kramer has been investigating child suicides in Florida over the past five years. He found that 100% of the children who commit suicide in Pasco County and 81% in Pinellas County were either on psych drugs or had received psychiatric treatment. Kramer concluded that medicating kids with dangerous mind-altering drugs “is the real cause of high rates of teen suicide.” He is leading the fight against TeenScreen for public schools in Florida. In Pinellas County he urged parents to send e-mails to the school board to voice their objections. The school board received over 700 e-mails. As a result, the Pinellas County School Board voted 6-1 to bar TeenScreen’s suicide questionnaire program. Hillsborough County school district determined the survey was too invasive.

            There is no medical test that can verify the existence of mental illness in children. TeenScreen questionnaires are given by teachers. They are not licensed as psychologists, nurses or mental health workers to label behaviors as suicidal. TeenScreen will lead to millions of children being labeled mentally ill and hooked on mind-altering, addictive drugs.

Info from Evelyn Pringle

 

Doctors Even Drug Babies for “Mental Illness”

 

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, in 1994, doctors wrote 3,000 prescriptions for Prozac for children younger than one year old. And in Ohio alone, last July, 696 children newborn to three years old received mental-health drugs through Medicaid. 75% received Hydroxyzine, an antihistamine which also reduces anxiety. Over 90 of the children were on another antihistamine, 48 were taking anti-anxiety medication, 27 received Valium and 18 were on antipsychotics. 28 were prescribed antidepressants, including Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, which have been found to increase suicidal thoughts and behaviors in some children.

Most of these drugs have never been tested on children. Side effects of the drugs include headaches, nausea, weight gain, liver damage and sudden death. All drugs eventually damage the brain. Some antipsychotics have caused learning problems in 3-6-year olds.

            In Ohio, 31% of children ages 6-18 in foster and group homes took mental health medications in July. 225 of children in detention were on psychiatric drugs in January. Many were on five or more. Nearly 40,000 Ohio children on Medicaid were taking drugs for anxiety, depression, delusions, hyperactivity and violent behavior in July. Last year the Ohio Dept. of Jobs and Family Services paid out about $65.5 million for kids’ mental health drugs.

            In Texas, Controller Carole Keeton Strayhorn criticized her state’s child-welfare agency for spending $4 million a year on mental health drugs without enough oversight. She said the agency gives kids drugs to make them docile and so “doctors and drug companies can make a buck.”

            Psychiatric medications are big business. In 2002, drug companies made $12 billion in profits from antidepressants alone. Those numbers continue to grow because of increasing use on children. Spending for drugs to control attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has gone up 183% for children overall and 369% for kids younger than age 5.

            In February, Canada pulled the ADHD drug Adderall off the market. They said it was related to 20 sudden deaths. The FDA determined that Adderall should carry a warning that it not be prescribed to people with heart trouble.

            When Stephanie Hall was 6 her teacher pressured her parents to put her on Ritalin for ADHD. She remained on Ritalin for 6 years. In January 1996, the morning after a doctor doubled her daily dose of Ritalin, Stephanie died in her sleep of a heart attack. Her parents sued the company that makes Ritalin in January 2000. The case was thrown out of court because the statute of limitations had expired.

Info from The Columbus Dispatch

 

Access a Problem for Disabled Voters

 

Over 418,000 people with disabilities in Indiana voted in the last presidential election. But over 541,000 didn’t. That’s because there are barriers to voting for people with disabilities in all 49 counties in Indiana.

            Count Us IN, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, surveyed all polling places in Indiana to ensure compliance with the Help America Vote Act. They found that of the 511 polling sites in Marion County alone, 96% had at least one problem. These included lack of handicapped parking, buildings without elevators and doors without accessible handles. In at least 25 sites a person in a wheelchair would have a difficult time entering the building. In some instances, people with disabilities had to be carried into the site.

            Some fixes are simple. Have enough parking for people with disabilities and provide enough space between tables for wheelchair-using voters. Paying for changes is harder. There is only about $350,000 in federal money to make upgrades to over 4,000 sites statewide.

            Marion County spent $11 million on optical scan and touch-screen voting machines in late 2002. But the machines remain in a warehouse because the Indiana Election Commission didn’t certify the software in time for the 2004 election. And an accessible voting machine is no good in an inaccessible building.

Info from The Paragram

1545 S. Layton Blvd, Milwaukee WI 53215

 

Italy Honors Gay Holocaust Victims.

As part of Holocaust Memorial Day, Italy unveiled a memorial Europe’s gay community. Nazis sent tens of thousands of gays to concentration camps during World War II. The memorial, a pink triangle with a black marble plaque, was erected at San Sabba, a converted rice mill.  Nazis built their only Italian camp there. As many as 25,000 people were tortured in this camp. 3,000 to 5,000 were killed and burned.

            Germany and the US erected monuments in 2003 to represent the large number of gay people killed in concentration camps. In 2002  Germany also gave a formal pardon to 50,000 gay people convicted under Nazi rule.

Info from PlanetOut

 

Lesbian Moms Lead Sydney Mardi Gras

Lesbian and gay people from across the globe traveled to Australia in March for the Sydney Mardi Gras parade. It is one of the world’s biggest celebrations of LGBT people. Lesbians Vicki Harding and Jackie Braw led this year’s parade. They had caused controversy in Australia by appearing in a TV children’s program “Play School” with their daughter Brenna.

            Conservatives, both political and religious, claimed that a same-sex couple in a preschool program was “inappropriate.”  There was no talk about a relationship or sex in the episode.  A similar uproar occurred in the US when conservatives objected to two lesbian couples and their children in an episode of “Postcards from Buster.”

Info from PlanetOut

 

Religions Unite in Hatred

WorldPride 2005, organized by the International Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Coordinators, will be held in Jerusalem August 18-28.  “Love Without Borders” will include a film festival, arts exhibition, conference for religious leaders and a parade. But Islamic, Christian and Jewish clergy are uniting to oppose the festival.

            Rabbi Yehuda Levin, a U.S. American, called the festival “the spiritual rape of the Holy City.” “This is not the homo land, this is the Holy Land,” he said.

            “We can’t permit anybody to come and make the Holy City dirty,” said Abdel Azia Bukhari, a Sufi sheik. “This is very ugly and very nasty to have these people come to Jerusalem.”

            “It hurts all of the religions. We are all against it,” said Israel’s chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar.

            The event will go on as planed. “This is a democracy, not a theocracy,” said Hagai El-Ad, director of Jerusalem Open House. They are the gay rights group hosting the festival. “It’s quite sad and ironic that these religious figures are coming together around such a negative message.” El-Ad said. He called the clerics’ objections “an attempt to globalize bigotry.”

Info from Planet Out

 

Separation of Church and Hate

Over 200 Christian clergy and lay people from across Wisconsin took part in a legislative Lobby Day on Feb. 22.. Sonsored by Christians for Equality They sang “Jesus Loves Me” and “Amazing Grace” to drown out taunts and jeers of fundamentalist hecklers. 

They carried signs which read “God’s Love is Big Enough to Hold ALL Families” and “I Believe in Separation of Church and Hate.”

            At the State Capitol, United Methodist Bishop Donald Ott said “As people of faith and of the Scriptures, we seek to create a society where all are see as equal in the sight of God. The constitutions of our state and nation should not codify societal prejudices, but rather affirm that equality for all time.”

Clergy from over a dozen denominations made it clear that homophobic right-wing Christians do not speak for all Christians.

            Christians for Equality organized the Lobby Day to oppose a GOP plan to place an anti-gay Constitutional amendment on the Nov. 2006 ballot. After the rally, delegates visited all 33  state senators. They told the senators that the effects of the amendment were un-Christian. They would remove individual rights and hurt children and families.

            On Feb, 14, over 600 people filled three floors of Milwaukee’s city hall rotunda. This rally was sponsored by the No on the Amendment Coalition. Pastor David Dragseth of Lake Park Lutheran stated, “The Bible is about one simple word. And it’s a great word for Valentine’s Day—Love!”

            Among the threatened programs is Milwaukee’s domestic partner registry. Couples use the registry to gain access to health insurance and other protections for their families.

Info from Queer Life

703 S. 2nd St, Milwaukee WI 53204

 

Miitary Mental Midgets Propose Gay Sex Weapon

 In 1994 the US Air Force Laboratory in Dayton OH proposed a chemical weapon which would make enemy troops sexually attracted to each other. The proposal estimated that this project would cost over $7 million. It was never approved.

            Steve Ralls of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said “It is a homophobic and delusional proposition for the Pentagon to assume a gay opponent is any less formidable than a straight one.”

Info from PlanetOut

 

Mexican Pro-Gay Ad Campaign Stirs Debate

 

A government-sponsored radio ad in Mexico features a mother preparing dinner for her son’s boyfriend. It has conservative groups in an uproar. The ad is a part of a new law, signed by President Vicente Fox in 2003. The law outlaws discrimination, including bias based on sexual orientation. It requires federal agencies to launch campaigns to promote tolerance.

            Religious and conservative groups, including the National Unity of Parents, are trying to stop the ad. Guillermo Bustamante Manilla, president of this group said “We are not saying homosexuals should be discriminated, disrespected or hurt. But homosexuality is not natural. It is aberrant and we don’t believe it should be promoted with our taxes.” The group has its own ad, A daughter tells her mother she is attracted to women. The mother says her family will help her so she “won’t act out tendencies that could affect her gravely.”

            The government-sponsored National Council to Prevent Discrimination is airing their ad in 15 Mexican cities. They have refused to air National Unity’s ad.

Info from PlanetOut

Freedom of Speech? Not on CBS and NBC

 CBS and NBC have refused to show a United Church of Christ  (UCC) TV commercial. It is aimed at attracting gays and others alienated by other denominations. The ad shows two “bouncers” standing outside a church. The bouncers select which people are allowed to attend services. A gay couple is among those rejected. Written text says “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.”

            CBS said “This commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by individuals and organizations. And the executive branch has recently proposed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Thus this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the CBS and UPN networks.”

            NBC, which airs “Will & Grace” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” said the ad is “too controversial.” Rev. Robert Chase, director of UCC’s communication ministry said. “We find it disturbing that the networks in question have no problem exploiting gay persons through mindless comedies or titillating dramas. But when it comes to a church’s loving welcome of committed gay couples, that’s where they draw the line.”

            Seth Kilbourn, national director of the Human Rights Campaign said, “The divisive and unsuccessful attempt to put discrimination in the Constitution is being used to deny the church its freedom of religion. This is un-American.”

            The 1.3 million-member United Church of Christ has a long reputation for promoting inclusion. It was the first denomination to ordain an African-American pastor in 1785. It was the first to ordain a woman in 1853. In 1972 it was the first mainstream denomination to ordain an openly gay man.

            The UCC ad will air on ABC, AMC, BET, Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, Nick@Nite, TBS, TNT, Travel and TV Land.

Info from PlanetOut

 

Military Ban on Gays Cost $200 Million

 A government report shows that the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) act of 1993 has cost the Pentagon hundreds of millions of dollars. Under this law, lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel cannot reveal their sexual orientations. If they do, they risk expulsion from the armed forces.

            About 10,000 military gays have been discharged under this policy. The Pentagon has spent nearly $200 million to recruit and train replacements. Among those discharged are 800 specialists with critical skills. 322 of these were linguists, including 54 who specialized in Arabic. Training a linguist can take over a year.

A proposed Readiness Enhancement Act would end the ban on gay and lesbian military personnel.

Info from PlanetOut

 

 

The Delicious Lesbian Kisses Campaign 

The “Delicious Lesbian Kisses Campaign” is part of an ongoing national effort to raise awareness of lesbian health issues. It was developed by, for and about lesbians.

As a kick-off to the Milwaukee campaign,  the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center sponsored a “Kiss Off Smoking” party. It featured entertainment by Ronnie Nyles and comedian Tanya Atkinson, a kissing booth, give-aways and door prizes.

The event was open to the public but smokers had to leave their “butts” outside. The campaign also debuted in Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, AZ.

Info from Queer Life

 

Soulforce Protests Spiritual Violence against Gays

Over 1,000 people from Soulforce held a two-day protest outside Focus on the Family’s Colorado Springs headquarters. Soulforce is an organization which opposes spiritual violence against LGBT people,At the Sunday rally Soulforce members sang and danced. And Christian singers Jason and deMarco, a gay couple.performed.

            Focus on the Family claims homosexuality is a choice. They sponsor seminars to convince lesbian, gay and bisexual people to undergo “reparative therapy.” This is therapy to change their sexual orientation. Potential risks of  ‘reparative therapy’ include depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior. A therapist’ support for societal prejudices can reinforce self-hatred already experienced by a patient.

            On Monday, Focus on the Family shut down its office. This prevented Soulforce from delivering thousands of letters to the Focus on the Family leader, James Dobson. But Jacob Reitan, youth director of Soulforce, read from his letter “This family is about love. My parents love me as I am, as God created me. James Dobson is out to destroy loving families like mine!”

            Jacob’s mother, Randi Reitan read from her letter. “There was never a moment we did not love or accept our dear son. But we struggled with how best to see the day Jake is loved, accepted and understood by society. As parents and Christians, we felt called to work for justice for all in the gay community.”

            Police arrested the Reitan family the instant they crossed on the Focus on the Family property. Over 125 Soulforce supporters sang “Amazing Grace” and waited for the family to be released. Laura Montgomery Rutt, spokeswoman for Soulforce said “James Dobson’s misinformation around gay and lesbian people is perpetuated when he won’t meet with their loving families. Love is love no matter what. James Dobson refuses to acknowledge that fact.”

Info from PlanetOut

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