They were a gay, interracial couple in an age of relentless bigotry. The two Harolds didn’t flinch.

Estate agent Verna Clayborne takes a seat in the dining room of an expansive 16th Street Heights home and sighs.

The two Harolds have tired her out.

It’s Clayborne’s job to get rid of the stuff of the deceased. The couple who lived in the house for more than half a century — Harold Herman, a white man who died in 2016 at 87, and Harold Mays, a black man who died almost exactly a year later at 81 — had a lot of it.Harold

These aren’t your typical finds in the home of retirees. Clayborne is sitting amid a pile of antiques and memorabilia — paintings, LPs, books, coins, stamps, personal correspondence — worth, she estimates, $500,000. These objects, curated lovingly by two collectors in love for over five decades, offer glimpses of what it was like to be black and gay in America when it was dangerous to be either.

“They knew how to live and lived well,” she said of the Harolds.

The Harolds met in New England before moving in together in post-integration, pre-riot Washington in 1965. One was a black Army veteran from St. Louis, the other a white college professor from Pennsylvania. Though family and acquaintances say they were a private couple, they could not help being pioneers.

They later ran Two Harolds Antiques in Alexandria for more than a decade and owned a collection of thousands of signed first editions so extensive that they kept an in-house card catalogue. The books are varied — works by gay raconteur Quentin Crisp amid Janet Evanovich thrillers.

Much of what’s left in the Harolds’ home doesn’t explicitly bear their mark. There’s large black-and-white prints of the last century’s black royalty: Harry Belafonte, Jesse Jackson, Lou Rawls, Cicely Tyson. Another photo includes two faces lesser known outside the Beltway in the 1960s and 1970s, but inescapable within it: Marion Barry and his first wife, Blantie Evans, on a beach.

But every collection reveals the collector, and in other ephemera the Harolds left behind, they come into sharper focus. One snapshot shows Mays shaking Belafonte’s hand at a Politics and Prose. Another shows their modest wedding, held in 2013 at what looks like a courthouse following the legalization of same-sex marriage — after they had already been a couple for almost 50 years.

By Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, October 16, 2018

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Matthew Shepard Will Be Interred at the Washington National Cathedral, 20 Years After His Death

For 20 years, the ashes of Matthew Shepard have not been laid to rest.

Mr. Shepard’s killing in 1998, when he was a 21-year-old college student, led to national outrage and, almost overnight, turned him into a symbol of deadly violence against gay people.

Mourners flocked to his funeral that year in Casper, Wyo., but there were also some protesters, carrying derogatory signs. Mr. Shepard’s parents worried that if they chose a final resting place for their son, it would be at risk of desecration.Matthew Shepard

Now they have found a safe place. On Oct. 26, Mr. Shepard will be interred at the Washington National Cathedral, the neo-Gothic, Episcopal house of worship that is a fixture of American politics and religion.

“I think it’s the perfect, appropriate place,” Dennis Shepard, Matthew’s father, said in an interview on Thursday. “We are, as a family, happy and relieved that we now have a final home for Matthew, a place that he himself would love.”

Two decades ago, Matthew Shepard was robbed by two men, pistol-whipped and tied to a fence in Laramie. He hung there bleeding in near-freezing temperatures until a passing bicyclist spotted him, thinking at first that he was a scarecrow. He later died in a hospital.

“His death was a wound on our nation,” Mariann Edgar Budde, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said in an interview on Wednesday. “We are doing our part to bring light out of that darkness and healing to those who have been so often hurt, and sometimes hurt in the name of the church.”

The elder Mr. Shepard said his family had long searched for a fitting resting place for his son, who was once an altar boy in the Episcopal Church. They considered spreading his ashes over the mountains and plains of Wyoming, but still wanted a place they could visit to talk to him. They considered splitting the ashes.

At the cathedral, not only will the family be able to visit him, but so will guests from across the world.

“It’s a place where there’s an actual chance for others to sit and reflect about Matthew, and about themselves, and about their friends,” Mr. Shepard’s father said.

by Jacey Fortin, NYTimes.com, October 11, 2018

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Stigma Against Gay People Can Be Deadly

L.G.B.T. people experience a range of social, economic and medical disparities that jeopardize their long-term health.

I’ve never been sure what to expect when meeting someone who’s just tried to take his own life. But I’ve learned to stop expecting anything.

Sometimes, the person in front of me barely speaks, staring right through me, lost in a deep catatonic depression. Sometimes he or she can’t stop talking, breathlessly describing what happened as if we’re gossiping at brunch after an hour of SoulCycle.LGBTQ

Yesterday, my patient, a 20-something graduate student, swallowed a jumble of unmarked pills, hoping to die, after his father told him never to come home again. Today, he greeted me with a soft smile, his delirium starting to clear, his heart beating normally again.

“Whoops,” he said.

He’d been a happy kid who aimed to please. He once felt so bad for lying about having done his homework before playing video games, he told me, that he’d grounded himself. Sociable but square, he didn’t drink until he was 21, even though he’d gone to a college with a reputation for partying. Deeply religious, he was gay but desperately wanted not to be.

Now his father’s disavowal pushed him over the edge, capping a string of stigmatizing experiences at home, at school and at church. He’d had enough.

For decades, we’ve known that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals experience a range of social, economic and health disparities — often the result of a culture and of laws and policies that treat them as lesser human beings. They’re more likely to struggle with poverty and social isolation. They have a higher risk of mental health problems, substance use and smoking. Sexual minorities live, on average, shorter lives than heterosexuals, and L.G.B.T. youth are three times as likely to contemplate suicide, and nearly five times as likely to attempt suicide.

Some of these disparities have interpersonal roots: social exclusion, harassment, internalized homophobia. But often they stem from an explicit denial of rights: same-sex marriage bans, employment discrimination, denial of federal benefits. Discrimination in any form can have serious health consequences: Sexual minorities living in communities with high levels of prejudice die more than a decade earlier than those in less prejudiced communities.

But civil rights advances and growing public acceptance of L.G.B.T. individuals in recent years are among the more transformative social changes in modern American history. And evidence increasingly suggests this shift has measurably improved health care access and health outcomes for L.G.B.T. populations.

The halting, patchwork nature of L.G.B.T. rights expansions across the country has allowed researchers to study the effects on health and well-being by comparing states that expanded rights to those that failed to introduce protections, or actively curtailed them. Since Vermont became the first state to formally recognize same-sex partnerships in 2000, many other states either legalized same-sex marriage, or conversely, passed constitutional amendments banning it — until the landmark 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges required all 50 states to recognize same-sex marriage.

By Dhruv Khullar, M.D., NYTimes.com, October 9, 2018

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Supreme Court Stays Out of Case on Gay Rights and Foster Care

The Supreme Court refused on Thursday to intercede in a dispute between Philadelphia and a Catholic foster care agency that does not work with same-sex couples.

The city imposed a freeze on placements with the agency, Catholic Social Services, after an article in March in The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on its policy against placing children with same-sex couples. The agency and several foster parents sued the city in May, saying the move had violated their First Amendment rights to religious freedom and free speech.Anthony Kennedy retirement

A federal judge ruled against the agency in July, and an appeals court refused to order that placements be resumed while the appeal moves forward.

In asking the Supreme Court to step in, the agency said it could face dire consequences. “Without intervention,” the agency’s emergency application said, “the city’s intake freeze will force Catholic’s foster care program to close.”

The Supreme Court’s brief order gave no reasons for denying the request. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch said they would have granted it.

The agency said the dispute with the city was hypothetical, as it had not been approached by a same-sex couple seeking to be foster parents. Were that to happen, the agency said, it would refer the couple to one of many other foster care groups that work in Philadelphia.

“Whether or not Catholic’s program remains open,” the agency wrote, “there will be the same number of agencies in Philadelphia that serve L.G.B.T.Q. individuals.”

The case, the latest clash between anti-discrimination principles and claims of conscience, reached the justices at a preliminary stage and may yet return to them.

The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, No. 18A118, is broadly similar to that of a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

by Adma Liptak, New York Times, August 30, 2018

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Catholic Charities ending foster, adoption programs over same-sex marriage rule

Catholic Charities of Buffalo will end its foster care and adoption program because state rules that bar discrimination based on sexual orientation conflict with church teachings, officials from the organization said Thursday.

“We’re a Catholic organization, so we have to practice what we do consistent with the teaching of the church,” Dennis C. Walczyk, the chief executive officer of Catholic Charities, told The News.

A same-sex couple recently applied to the agency to become adoptive foster parents, and that precipitated the agency’s decision, Walczyk said.

The agency has a contract with the Erie County Department of Social Services that expires in March. The state Office of Children and Family Services licenses Catholic Charities and other providers of these services.

The state requires contracting organizations to allow same-sex couples to adopt or to raise foster children. That directive, however, goes against the church’s position that marriage is between a man and a woman, the Catholic Charities officials said.

Given that tension, the agency made the decision to phase out the foster care and adoption program.

“It is with deep sadness we acknowledge that the legacy of the high quality, exceptional services which our staff provides to children and families through foster care and adoption will be lost,”  Walczyk said in a statement formally announcing the end of the services. “We are working with the state OCFS and Erie County DSS to support a smooth transition for children in foster care and foster parents, as well as those who have submitted applications to provide foster care or seek adoption.”

Catholic Charities said the program currently has 55 certified foster homes, with 34 children in care in 24 of those homes.

“They will stay with their parents,” Walczyk said of the children currently placed through Catholic Charities. “They will stay in their homes.”

But eventually they will be under the auspices of another agency.

August 23, 2018, By  By

BuffaloNews.com

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More People Now Support Allowing Businesses To Refuse LGBTQ Customers: Survey

Americans are conflicted over whether Christians like Colorado baker Jack Phillips should have the right to refuse service to queer customers.

In handing a narrow victory to a Christian baker who refused to make cakes for a gay wedding, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to punt a bigger question down the road: whether Americans can use religion to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people.

A new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that for many Americans, the jury is also still out on this issue.

PRRI completed the survey shortly after the Supreme Court’s June decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It found that Americans were conflicted over whether Christians with conservative religious beliefs, like Colorado baker Jack Phillips, should have the right to refuse service to queer customers.

The survey of 2,008 adults between June 27 and July 8, 2018, showed evidence of an America still divided over how to treat LGBTQ citizens.

Nearly half of Americans surveyed (46 percent) said that owners of wedding-based businesses, such as caterers, florists and bakers, should be allowed to refuse to serve same-sex couples if doing so violates their religious beliefs. Roughly the same number (48 percent) disagreed, saying that these types of businesses should be required to serve queer couples.   

That’s a slight shift from how Americans felt about the issue last year, PRRI reports. In 2017, only 41 percent of Americans said wedding-based businesses should be allowed to refuse service to LGBTQ people, while a majority of Americans (53 percent) said these businesses should be required to serve gay and lesbian couples.

Gay Couple Stabbed While Holding Hands Outside Denver Nightclub

“We were just holding hands minding our business,” one of the men said.

Two gay men were holding hands while walking home from a nightclub early Sunday morning in Denver when a man attacked the couple, stabbing them multiple times. 

“We were just walking and I guess he didn’t like what he saw … that we were holding hands,” Chris Huizar, 19, told local outlet 9News on Sunday. 

Huizar and his boyfriend, Gabriel Roman, 23, were walking home from a dance club called The Church just after midnight when the two said they heard a man yell “fuckin’ faggots” before he attacked the couple with a folding knife. Huizar was stabbed in the neck and Roman was stabbed in the hand and back before they were able to escape.

The couple called the police and were taken to the hospital immediately where, according to Gay Star News, Roman received 30 internal stitches and 52 stitches on his hand. The wounds were not life-threatening, Denver police spokesman Sgt. John White told The Denver Post.

By Alanna Vagianos Huffingtonpost.com, May 29, 2018

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Pope Francis tells gay man: ‘God made you like this’

Juan Carlos Cruz, who was sexually abused, says Pope Francis told him God did not mind that he was gay

A survivor of clerical sexual abuse has said Pope Francis told him that God had made him gay and loved him, in arguably the most strikingly accepting comments about homosexuality to be uttered by the leader of the Roman Catholic church.Pope Francis

Juan Carlos Cruz, who spoke privately with the pope two weeks ago about the abuse he suffered at the hands of one of Chile’s most notorious paedophiles, said the issue of his sexuality had arisen because some of the Latin American country’s bishops had sought to depict him as a pervert as they accused him of lying about the abuse.

“He told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are,’” Cruz told Spanish newspaper El País.

Now 87, Fernando Karadima, the man who abused Cruz, was found guilty of abuse by the Vatican in 2011.

Greg Burke, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, did not respond to questions about whether Cruz’s statement accurately reflected his conversation with the pope.

It is not the first time it has been suggested Francis has an open and tolerant attitude toward homosexuality, despite the Catholic church’s teaching that gay sex – and all sex outside of heterosexual marriage – is a sin. In July 2013, in response to a reporter’s question about the existence of an alleged “gay lobby” within the Vatican, Francis said: “Who am I to judge?”

The new remarks appear to go much further in embracing homosexuality as a sexual orientation that is designed and bestowed by God. It suggests that Francis does not believe that individuals choose to be gay or lesbian, as some religious conservatives argue.

The Guardian – May 20, 2018

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Arizona Governor Signs New Human Embryo Law

When a couple is unable to conceive naturally or medical treatments — like chemotherapy — make future pregnancies unlikely, there are a variety of fertility options available, including harvesting a woman’s eggs, freezing them and using them at a later date.

Up until now, reproductive fertility law specialists in Arizona would help couples navigate any tricky ethical issues that might arise in the future, like what happens if you split up or divorce before you decide to use the eggs.Arizona Embryo

But, a new law signed Tuesday by Gov. Doug Ducey has the potential to upend any contractual agreements written between husbands and wives or domestic partners, and dictates who is allowed to keep frozen eggs after a breakup.

Cathi Herrod, President of Center for Arizona Policy, said the new human embryo law helps make the law clearer and it is a positive step for Arizona.

“Just like a judge will decide when there are disputes over property, disputes over who gets the family dog — now who gets the family embryos will also be decided by a judge according to the law,” Herrod said.

by Lauren Gilger, KJZZ.com, April 4, 2018

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National Organization for Marriage Announces International Anti-LGBT Group

Brian Brown, director of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage and president of the anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families (WCF), has announced the launch of the International Organization for the Family (IOF).

IOF is the new name of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, which is the parent organization of WCF. The name and mission of the Howard Center have been re-tooled for an international arena, though WCF, which will remain a project of the IOF, according to Brown’s announcement, has always been extremely active internationally. Its world conferences serve as a key nexusfor religious right leaders and activists and the formulation of policies that are detrimental to LGBT people and reproductive health, and they provide a platform for anti-LGBT rhetoric and conspiracy theories

The IOF, which was ironically announced on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, has been in the works for a while.gay hate

In August of this year, the Howard Center sent out a letter to supporters signed by President Emeritus Allan Carlson, in which he stated that the Center’s board of trustees resolved to “sharpen the focus” of the organization “on international family questions” which reflect the reality “that key family policy battles now occur more frequently at the transnational level in bodies such as the U.N., the Organization of American States, and the European Union.” To that end, the board of directors of the Center resolved to change the organization’s name to IOF.  

The name of the Center’s policy journal is also changing from The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy to The Natural Family: An International Journal of Research and Policy, but senior editing staff remains the same.

In keeping with the mission of the Howard Center and WCF to dictate the so-called “natural family” –– that marriage is only for one man and one woman –– as the only correct way to be a family, IOF’s first order of business was to release the “Cape Town Declaration” at a WCF regional conference at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.

The declaration purports to affirm marriage as only between a man and a woman, and “the patrimony of all mankind” to secure for children the “birthright of all men: to know the faithful love of the man and woman whose union gave them life.” The declaration goes on to assert that a “thriving culture will therefore serve marriage — and all society —by promoting purity outside it and fidelity within.” These “thriving cultures” will also discourage pornography, adultery and divorce, and will resist attempts to “redefine marriage” to include “same-sex or group bonds, or sexually open or temporary ones.”

Southern Poverty Law Center – December 19, 20165

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