Friday, August 28, 2009

Aug. 26 show: Softball World Series and gay rights pioneer Cleve Jones in Madison

We had a great time putting this week's show together for you. Some highlights of the show and information so you can follow up, if you so choose:

We talked to Rep. Mark Pocan about Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Hollen's decision not to defend the new domestic partnership law, and about the attorney who has been hired to do Hollen's job for him.


We had Ben Monty of Madison's SSBL (Saturday Softball League) on the show to talk about the ASANA 2009 Softball World Series, which will take place here in Madison Sept. 1 to Sept. 5. Highlights of the women's softball tournament include:
  • an opening celebration on Willow Island, Alliant Energy Center, from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday
  • a softball-themed roller derby bout on Thursday at Alliant's Exposition Hall, 6 p.m.
  • BurlesQuepade burlesque and drag show Friday at 9 p.m. at the Majestic on King Street
  • a closing celebration on Saturday at 4 p.m., Elver Park
  • oh yeah, and a lot of softball games at Elver and Olbrich Parks
For a complete schedule and volunteer opportunities (Ben said there are still plenty of ways to help out), you can go to


Robin Gee of LGBTI Equality Now told us about Cleve Jones' upcoming visit to Madison on August 31. Jones is the founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and a long-time friend of Harvey Milk. He is organizing the National Equality March in Washington D.C. on October 10 and 11 (National Coming Out Day) to demand equal rights for the LGBT community in all matters governed by civil law. He'll be here to talk about the march and the importance of pressing for equal right in a talk called "Why We Can't Wait." The talk will be at 7:30 p.m. in room 3650 of the Humanities Building on the UW-Madison campus, 455 N. Park St. The talk is a fundraiser so LGBTI Equality Now can charter buses to the National Equality March, so there is a small fee. For more information call Emily at 314-660-4764 or Jessie at 446-0273.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New LGBTQ center for Beloit and Rockford

Our friends on the Wisconsin-Illinois border now have their own LGBTQ community center. Spectrum of Rockford offers social activities, support groups, and counseling services by mental health professionals. You can visit the center between noon and 9 p.m. at 7120 Windsor Lake Parkway, Loves Park, Ill.

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J.B. Van Hollen's refusal to defend law to cost state an estimated $20,000

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the state could pay the independent counsel hired to defend the new domestic partnership law up to $20,000 for up to 115 hours of work in the next year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Governor Doyle appoints attorney to defend the state in domestic partnership case

Governor Jim Doyle has appointed Madison attorney Lester Pines to defend the state in a lawsuit that seeks to overturn Wisconsin's domestic partner registry. The attorney general would normally represent the state, but the current AG, J.B. Van Hollen, has refused. Van Hollen says that the domestic partner registry is constitutionally indefensible.

The state will pay Pines for his representation, but there has been no indication that the fees will be subtracted from Van Hollen's salary.

Pines is a partner in Cullen Weston Pines & Bach LLP who received his law degree from UW-Madison in 1975. He was active in the failed attempt to defeat the 2006 constitutional amendment that barred same-sex marriages and is currently involved in a lawsuit to overturn the 2006 amendment on technical grounds. He has argued several cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wisconsin attorney general refuses to defend domestic partnerships

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, in an apparent attempt to polish his socially conservative credentials for a possible gubernatorial bid, has stated that he will not defend Wisconsin's domestic partnership law against a challenge by Wisconsin "Family" Action.

The attorney general says the domestic partnership law is clearly unconstitutional in light of the fact that Wisconsin's constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman and forbids any legal status to be created that is similar to marriage. However, the non-partisan Legislative Council, a governmental office that provides legal and other research services to the legislature, found that domestic partnerships are in line with the constitution. It found that domestic partnerships are not substantially similar to marriage because they only provide a quarter of the state benefits of marriage and none of the federal benefits.

Mark Pocan, a Madison representative who helped get domestic partnerships written into this year's state budget, has a few choice words to say about Van Hollen's decision.

Lutherans allow people in same-sex relationships to serve as clergy

In a 559-451 vote, representatives of the United States' largest Lutheran denomination voted to allow people in "lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships" to serve as pastors. Dissenting members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) plan to hold a convention in Indianapolis to discuss plans for the future. You can read more about the decision here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Family leaves Appleton after rash of anti-gay harassment

A straight single mother of three children is moving away from Appleton after a rash of homophobic attacks on her car and rental property that started in March. The attacks included anti-lesbian graffiti. The car's bumper features a rainbow flag sticker and the symbol of the Human Rights Campaign. The woman shares the car with her lesbian sister and her sister's domestic partner. The sister lives in another-and apparently less hostile-area of Waupaca County.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

News 08.19.09

Equality California statement on DOMA
The Obama Administration filed court papers saying the Defense of Marriage Act does discriminate against same-sex couples, but the Justice Department is continuing to defend the law that prevents married same-sex couples from having their unions recognized by the federal government. In response, Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors issued the following statement:
“Although we are pleased that the Obama Administration has stated that DOMA is discriminatory and that same-sex couples are as good parents as heterosexual couples, we are troubled by the Obama Justice Department saying that discrimination based on sexual orientation does not raise serious constitutional issues and that such discrimination is rational,” Kors says. “Discrimination against same-sex couples is never rational, and laws that discriminate must be reviewed carefully to ensure that the majority’s animus toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is not the motive.”
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. In the past decade, EQCA has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil-rights protections in the nation. EQCA has passed over 50 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, public education and community empowerment.

Suit to overturn Wisconsin's anti-marriage amendment

As you may already know, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case against the Wisconsin anti-marriage amendment, which voters passed in 2006. The amendment bars the legislature from expanding the legal definition of marriage to apply to same-sex couples, and also blocks it from creating any legal status that is substantially similar to marriage, whether for gay or straight couples.

The plaintiff is arguing that the way in which voters were asked to weigh in on the amendment violates state law. That's because the law allows only one issue to be covered in each constitutional amendment. The plaintiff says the amendment covers two separate issues: (1) defining marriage and (2) blocking the legislature from granting certain civil rights to non-married couples. For example, a voter who wanted to define marriage as between one man and one woman, but believed that same-sex couples should be afforded protections through substantially similar civil unions, was not given the option to vote in favor of the first part of the amendment, but against the second.

Alex De Grand, legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, has a concise analysis of the legal issues raised in this case.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This week's announcements: Roller derby, potlucks, NOW conference and more

August 20
Senior adults from the LGBT communities meet on the first & third Thursdays of the month from 2:30-4pm at the Madison Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin St., Room 201. These are friendly conversations that are informal, open dialogues. Friends and families of LGBT folks are welcome. Participants determine the topics based on current interests and the groups are facilitated.

Are you a same sex parent or planning to become one? Have you been wanting to meet other families like your own family? Come spend time with the same-sex family group. Children are welcome to come with parents but are not necessary for attendance. The group will meet the third Thursday of the month at OutReach (600 Williamson St.) from 6-7:30pm For more information, call 255-8582 and ask for Harry or e-mail Leilani at robertson-hoyt(at) or Melissa at missyann24(at)

August 22
The Wisconsin chapter of the National Organization for Women is having a conference Saturday at the Goodman Community Center, 149 Waubesa Street in Madison. The conference runs 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For more info, go to the conference website by clicking here.

Saturday evening, the Mad Rollin Dolls present the Dairyland Dolls vs. the North Star Supernovas of Minneapolis at the Duck Pond at Warner Park, 2920 N. Sherman Ave. Doors open at 5 p.m., action starts at 6 p.m.

August 23
Madison Bi/Gay Fathers meets at 4 p.m. on Sunday for social and potluck with discussion and support for dads. Location is confidential, so call 692-0149 if you want more info.

September 21
Retired Old/older Lesbians Lunch (ROLLers) meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 12:30 pm. Call 608-219-7751 for location.

On-going Resource: Room to Breathe Smoking Cessation Program
Rm2Breathe is a state wide anti-tobacco program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual people in Wisconsin. Check out the web-site for more resources to quit.

Ready or Not ... They're Gay

Tonight on Queery, we spoke with Paul and Hjordy Wagner of Eau Claire and their son Brad about their new book Ready or Not … They’re Gay. The book talks about the Wagner parents’ experiences as two of their sons came out and gives guidance to straight parents and their gay children on making the coming out experience positive for everyone. As retired educators, the Wagners also provide advice about making schools a safer place for LGBT youth and educators.

You can share your own story with the Wagners for their follow-up book to Ready or Not ... They're Gay by going to

Pride photos and tonight's show

Here's a few photos our intrepid reporters took at the Pride parade on Sunday. You can hear some on-the-street interviews on tonight's show at 7:30 PM CDT on WORT 89.9 FM ( We'll also be joined by Hjordy and Paul Wagner, the Eau Claire authors of Ready or Not ... They're Gay, and their son Brad about how family relationships can grow stronger through the coming out process.

Ms. Wisconsin Capitol Pride

On the route

Bubble-blowing machine leaves bubbles on the capitol lawn.

LGBT sports bar Woof's decided not to let the dogs out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First the Episcopalians, now the Lutherans

The Friday, 1,000 delegates at the biennial national assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America are set to vote on whether people in committed same-sex relationships can serve as pastors. You can read a bit more here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weekly news round-up: Domestic partnerships in Wisconsin, plus national and international news

Wis. same-sex couples sign up as domestic partners
Same-sex couples in Wisconsin have started signing up for the state’s new domestic partnership registry. This will allow them to obtain dozens of the same legal protections as spouses. Fifty-six-year-old Janice Czyscon (SIZE’-kon) and her partner of 29 years, 57-year-old Crystal Hyslop, arrived at the Dane County offices in Madison at 5:12 a.m. and waited in the rain until the doors opened. Wisconsin is the first Midwestern state to enact protections for same-sex couples through legislation. Gov. Jim Doyle proposed the plan, and the Democratic-controlled Legislature approved it in the state budget. Some who want the law invalidated say it conflicts with the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

ENDA introduced into Senate
An inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act is now on the move in the U.S. Senate. Long-time sponsor Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced the bill along with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). The Human Rights Campaign launched a lobby effort to muster support for the legislation, asking supporters to send e-mails to their senators urging their support. The e-mail notes that, in 29 states, there is no law to prevent an employer from firing someone because he or she is gay and, in 38 states, no law to prohibit an employer from firing someone for being transgender. The National Gay and Lesbian Task says it hopes the stated support of President Obama will play a role in assisting with [the bill's] swift passage in both the House and the Senate. A form of Employment Non-Discrimination act without gender identity passed the House in the last session of Congress but engendered so much opposition for omitting gender identity that it was never brought up in the Senate. The Employment Non-Discrimination bill introduced in the House and Senate this year both seek to prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Current federal law prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability.

Chicago holds first civic salute to LGBT veterans
Gay war veterans have recently been honored in Chicago’s Daley Plaza at the first civic salute to LGBT veterans. Many of those in attendance at the event spoke out against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and revealed how they have personally been affected by the bill. Former US Navy officer Steven Lorandos says “If there was no ban and I were allowed to openly serve, I wouldn’t have had any of those extra stressors, I wouldn’t have had any of those extra worries, and I would have re-enlisted.” Several local politicians came out to also support the event and spoke out against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as well. Chicago’s 7 News reports that the United States military has more than 65,000 gay members in active service. House Resolution 1283 has been created by Don’t Ask Don’t Tell opponents to ask Obama to repeal the bill.

Great Nationwide Kiss-in this Saturday
The Great Nationwide Kiss-In, an event created in response to a spate of anti-gay incidents that arose out of gay men being publicly affectionate, takes place this Saturday, August 15th. And activists across the country have signed-on to take part. After incidents in San Antonio, TX, El Paso, TX and Salt Lake City, UT - where different gay and lesbian couples were harassed or detained by law enforcement or other people for the simple act of kissing in a public place. Many people feel there’s a need to make a strong statement to everyone everywhere that kissing is not a bad thing, nor has it ever been. It’s not vulgar or inappropriate. Over 50 cities have come on board. A Madison Wisconsin location has yet to be determined. People in Madison that are interested can contact Jean Wennlund - for more information.

Malaysia’s state newspaper says gay sex leads to swine flu
Malaysia’s state newspaper, Bernama, claims in a recent article that avoiding masturbation and homosexual activities will help prevent swine flu, and are among preventive measures one could take against Influenza A (H1N1), according to an eminent practitioner of complimentary therapy. Dr. V. M. Palaniappan says that such activities caused the body to develop friction heat which in turn, produces acid and makes the body hyper-acidized. Thus, the body becomes an easy target for H1N1 infection. The doctor emphasizes, however, that sexual union between members of the opposite sex is absolutely safe.

Rate of rejected signatures opposing same-sex referendum in Washington increases
In Washington, the error rate of signatures for Referendum 71 has increased according to the secretary of state’s office. R-71 supporters are trying to do away with the state’s new same-sex domestic partnership law. 14.4 percent of the 5,815 signatures that had been checked were rejected. Out of 17,317 signatures that have been checked so far, 15,067 have been accepted. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in total there have been “45 duplicate R-71 signatures, 150 no-match, 2,006 non-voters, and 49 where the state is checking for a signature.” In order to get on the November ballot, R-17 supporters need 120,577 valid signatures; 137,689 signatures have been turned in.

Settlement reached in N.J. gay-harassment suit
A former police officer in Millville, New Jersey, has settled a suit he filed in October 2007 in which he accused fellow officers and superiors of harassing him because of his sexuality. Robert Colle, now of Egg Harbor Township, settled his lawsuit for $415,000. Colle says he was harassed by the other officers because he is gay, and received further harassment when he threatened to expose an on-duty romantic tryst involving a superior. Six officers were originally named in the suit, though two were later dropped. The Press of Atlantic City said the city has not disclosed whether any of the remaining officers had been disciplined for the ordeal, though they all are still employed by the police department. Three of the officers have also received promotions since the law suit was filed.

Inclusive Church Plans Survey of LGBT Clergy
The British organization Inclusive Church is planning a survey of clergy in the Anglican church.This would be the first attempt to figure out the real numbers of LGBT clergy in the Church of England. Organizers hope to show how extensive - and crucial - the participation of the LGBT community is in the operation of the church. Inclusive Church hopes to help increase respect for and acknowledgement of the LGBT community within the church and perhaps nudge the Anglican community overall a little closer to the 21st century.

Anchorage passes gay rights ordinance - veto possible
The Anchorage Assembly approved an ordinance Tuesday banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by a 7-4 vote. The vote falls one short of the eight-vote supermajority needed to override a mayoral veto. Mayor Dan Sullivan has seven days to decide. He has said he has not yet made a decision. The Assembly members who voted yes brought up gays and lesbians who they are close to. One mentioned that the Assembly voted to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in Anchorage in 1976 - that bill was vetoed by then-mayor George Sullivan, the current mayor’s father.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Capitol Pride is on the way

On Wednesday's show, we talked to members of Wisconsin Capitol Pride's organizing committee about pride activities scheduled for Friday, Aug. 14, through Sunday, Aug. 16. On Friday, there will be a commitment ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda, and Sunday will bring the Pride Parade around Capitol Square. Other activities are at Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Minnesota Episcopalians nominate lesbian for bishop post

And in L.A., two of six candidates for assistant bishop are in same-sex relationships. You can read more here.

State's domestic partner registry opens today

Same-sex Wisconsin couples wishing to register as domestic partners can do so at their county clerk's office. Dane County also allows opposite-sex couples to register as domestic partners under different paperwork, although these latter relationships are not recognized under the state law.