The Dharun Ravi Verdict/ Anti-Gay St. Patty’s Parade/ Ben and Jerry’s Supports Gay Marriage

Dharun Ravi

(New Brunswick, New Jersey) In New Jersey, Dharun Ravi was found guilty of 13 of the 15 charges against him in a New Brunswick, New Jersey court. Ravi has been found guilty of guilty of invasion of privacy, witness tampering, tampering with evidence, and several other crimes. The only crimes that Ravi was not found guilty of were those relating to the intimidation of his former roommate Tyler Clementi’s sexual partner at the time of Ravi’s webcam spying.

Ravi was charged after Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in 2010.  which many suspect was the direct result of Ravi’s spying on and exposure of Clementi’s gay sexual encounter at Rutgers University.

Because Ravi’s acts are being treated as a hate crime he could face as much as a ten year longer sentence, and he could even face deportation since Ravi is not a citizen of the United States.

Although I think hate crime legislation has come along with good intentions, it seems difficult to apply and I don’t trust courts to get it right every time.  How well can a court ascertain exactly why an individual attacks another, or whether the use of racial or other slurs were specifically used in a biased manner or as generic derogatory? Don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning bias motivated crimes, but criminal law focuses on intent and how many people will suffer longer sentences when their intent is incorrectly assessed? Whether their crime is distasteful to us or not, criminals still have rights.

To read the whole Clementi/Ravi story visit the New Yorker here: The Story of a Suicide

(New York City) The Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish-American Roman Catholic fraternal organization sponsors the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and is refusing to allow the “Irish Queers” to participate in the parade procession.

The Irish Queers claim that the parade has become a religious procession under the Catholic church, and that the New York Police Department, a participant in the parade, is also advocating the church’s bigoted views.

LGBT organizers have also been banned from the annual Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade. You can lead an Irishman to green beer, but you can’t make him think 🙂

(The United Kingdom)An organization that is supporting sexual minorities, is Ben and Jerry’s. The corporation has released a new ice cream flavor, “Apple-y Ever After” formerly “Apple Pie”, to support equal marriage rights in the United Kingdom.

The Group has also released a Facebook application to show support for same-sex marriage rights in the U.K. as the British parliament debates same-sex marriage.

Enjoy your St. Patty’s Day!

Marriage Equality in Maryland/Transgender Rights Developments/Tennessee Principal Resigns After Anti-Gay Remarks

Governor O'Malley of Maryland signs marriage equality bill into state law.

(Maryland) Firstly, I would like to congratulate the state of Maryland and its people for becoming the latest state to legalize same-sex marriage! Maryland’s Governor, Martin O’Malley, signed the marriage equality bill last Thursday, a week after the state Senate passed the bill in a close 25-22 vote. Maryland is now the 8th state, in addition to its neighbor the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex unions.

The state is expected to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in January 2013. Opponents of the law, namely the religious Maryland Marriage Alliance, have committed to collecting more than 55,000 signatures required to create a referendum, if a referendum is created the marriage equality bill would be put to the Maryland voting public to decide whether it becomes law.

Let’s see if there are 55,000 people who should mind their own business in Maryland.

(Hong Kong) Progress is also being made in Hong Kong as a transgender woman was granted permission to file a final appeal, following two losses of her case, seeking the government’s permission to marry her fiancee.

Identified only as “W”, the woman was granted an appeal by the Court of Appeal after the court said her case raised points of great public importance. Despite “W”‘s government issued identity card designating her sex as female, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Registrar of Marriages had not violated the constitution by blocking her marriage. The Registrar of Marriages cited the Marriage Ordinance claiming that a person’s gender at birth is what matters when deciding marriage eligibility, not the sex a person becomes after surgical correction.

The nearby nations of China, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, New Zealand, and Australia all permit transgender women to marry men. “W” underwent sex-reassignment surgery prior to 2008, and has lived in a female identity since.  This is a great case for the government to here as the asian continent sees an increase in market economies hopefully leading to greater personal rights.

(Washington D.C.)  The Department of Homeland Security is also taking steps to improve transgender rights, as it recently issued new performance based national detention standards to agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The standards will improve the treatment of transgender detainees through the following measures:

• Recognizing transgender detainees as a vulnerable population and recognizing (somewhat less clearly) that detainees may be vulnerable because of their sexual orientation;

• Ensuring that any strip searches of transgender detainees be conducted in private;

• Not determining whether to house transgender detainees with males or females based solely on their physical anatomy; and

• Allowing transgender detainees who received hormone therapy before detention to continue hormone therapy.

Dorothy Bond, former principal of Haywood High School in Tennessee, resigned after telling gay students they were on their way to hell.

(Tennessee)  Progress is even being made in Tennessee where a school principal who told her gay and lesbian students they will go to hell, has resigned. As she should.

Former principal Dorothy Bond of Haywood High School told gay students that they were “not on God’s path” and said she would expel, suspend, or assign students to an “alternative school” if any were caught showing affection to members of their own sex on school grounds. Bond also told students that by being gay they were ruining their lives. On another occasion Bond told a lesbian student that she would go to hell.

If any one is going to hell, it is you Dorothy. Judging people is not your job, that is why you are a principal and not god. Read your bible and stay in church, you shouldn’t be involved in the education of youth.

To think that this woman has been a principal of a public school and has on many occasions encouraged prayer within the school, and specifically discriminated against sexual minority students is appalling. She needs to sit in on a civil rights class.

I’d like to close with a quote from Daniel Dennett who recently spoke of the late Christopher Hitchens. Dennett said Hitchens taught him that:

“there is a time for politeness and there is a time when you are obliged to be rude, as rude as you have to be to stop such pollution of young minds in its tracks with a quick, unignorable shock.”

Keep this in mind the next time you are unsure about speaking up. Your voice can make a difference.

Good for the students and their families who took the time to report Bond’s actions to the ACLU, one less person is in a public position they abused.

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