Maybe Christopher Smitherman, the Cincinnati NAACP’s president, is cagier than most people think.
A few weeks ago, I caught this story as it was firing up: Sacramento, Calif., morning radio hosts Rob Williams and Arnie States spent more than a half-hour making disparaging and dehumanizing comments about transgendered children on their May 28 radio show. People were pretty up in arms about it. I was among the hundreds of people who wrote letters to the station manager expressing my unwillingness to tolerate such content.
Across the nation, commemorations of Gay Pride Month have just wrapped up. In Cincinnati, where things often seem a little behind the times, they haven't even begun yet.
Cincinnati Pride Equinox 2011 is scheduled for July 7-10 in the Queen City. To kick off the festivities, a multi-faith worship service will be held at St. John's Unitarian Universalist Church at 7 p.m. July 7.
University of Cincinnati and Miami University student organizations will hold rallies at 5 p.m. Thursday in response to the March 24 assault of two students — one from UC and one from Miami — on the Miami campus. The events are meant to show support for GLBT people and call for an end to hate crimes.
Miami University student Michael Bustin and a male friend were reportedly walking home from a drag show when someone yelled a derogatory slur at them. Bustin's friend was then attacked by four men who also reportedly assaulted Bustin when he tried to help, according to WLWT-TV. The two men had been holding hands during their walk home. Miami University sent a memo to the community and reached out to Bustin soon afterward.
The rallies’ Facebook page says the other man was a University of Cincinnati student. The police have released a sketch of one of the accused attackers and are seeking the public’s help to find those involved.
Both events will begin at 5 p.m. Those attending the Miami rally are encouraged to wear "Love is the New Label/White Out Hate" shirts or just white T-shirts or tops. After the rally, participants will line up holding hands in a demonstration of solidarity and to show that “no one deserves to be hurt for showing affection.”
More from the rallies’ Facebook page: “We, the students of the LGBTQA alliances of Miami University and University of Cincinnati, stand united in our demand for a safe places to live, learn, work and show affection. It is unacceptable for anyone to be assaulted, but it is especially repulsive for the victims to be targeted because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other classification.”
The Miami rally will take place at the Phi Delt Gates on the Miami Campus, while the UC event will take place at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Clifton Avenue. The events are being organized by Miami Spectrum and UC Alliance.
For more information, click here or search on Facebook: “Emergency Action: Miami & UC Unite Against Hate!"
Six gay-oriented taverns in Covington are teaming up Saturday for a “Zero Tolerance for Hate Crimes” event, in response to a recent violent attack on four people at a nearby gas station.
The event, which begins at 9 p.m., involves a gathering at the corner of Pike and Main streets in a show of strength and unity. Businesses participating are Blue Bar, Bar Monet, Yadda Club, Leapin' Lizard Gallery, 701 Bar and Rosie's Tavern.
Pride/Visibility Week at the University of Cincinnati (UC) is about inclusion and acceptance, not merely tolerance. Beginning on April 29, a variety of events are scheduled to focus on and celebrate LBGT (if you need an explanation of that acronym, you really need to attend a few events).
The city and gay rights organizations will host an LGBT public safety forum tonight. The partnership between the city of Cincinnati, Equality Cincinnati and the Human Rights Campaign of Greater Cincinnati (HRC) is meant to encourage and improve relations between the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) and the gay community.
Lisa Davis, spokesperson for CPD, says the idea for the public forum came about when Andrew Winters, a diversity co-chair at HRC, ran into Police Chief James Craig at the Coffee Emporium coffee shop in Over-the-Rhine. Winters introduced himself to Craig, and Craig told Winters he was interested in addressing the LGBT community to open some dialogue and gather feedback.
One of the forum's purposes will be to explain CPD priorities. As an example, Davis explained why police might take an hour and a half to respond to a call at a gay club. She said that kind of delay is likely related to CPD's priority system. In the example of the gay club, perhaps someone was assaulted, but the suspect already left. If that happens, CPD would prioritize a case in which a suspect is still on the scene.
Davis hopes the explanations will ease concerns of police discrimination in the LGBT community. On the other side, she says the forum could help CPD gather feedback and learn about any overlooked problems.
CPD will also name Angela Vance as an LGBT liaison.
Davis says Vance will be open to calls from anyone in the LGBT community
to look into special events, collect information on crimes and review
possible cases of police mistreatment. For these cases, Vance will help
victims file complaints and provide guidance.
The public forum will take place at 6 p.m. tonight at the Mayerson Room in the School for Creative and Performing Arts, 108 West Central Parkway.
City Council today unanimously passed a motion that will require parades funded by the city to adhere to the city's anti-discrimination policies, marking the end of an effort that began when the Cincinnati St. Patrick's Day Parade barred an LGBT group from participating.
The motion, which was championed by Councilman Chris Seelbach, requires any future parade that receives funding from the city to respect the city's protected class rules, which prevent discrimination against people of color, women and LGBT individuals.
Council members cautioned that the measure won’t require event hosts to invite fringe groups, but it will make it so LGBT individuals, people of color and women are allowed to participate in future events.
The motion was passed in response to a controversy that began when the St. Patrick's Day Parade prevented the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) from participating. Seelbach, the first openly gay council member, told CityBeat that Chris Schulte and other parade organizers excluded GLSEN because they didn't want the holiday event, which has Catholic roots, to be affiliated with members of the gay and lesbian community.
Schulte later sent out a press release claiming the parade's rules do not allow for the advancement of "any political party, social movement or cause," even though the parade allows politicians and other political groups to march.
In response to the controversy, Seelbach and other council members boycotted the parade. Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan was the only Democratic council member to participate, but she protested the parade's decision by walking alongside a banner in support of marriage equality.
The parade controversy was also picked up by national news outlets, including Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post.
On National Coming Out Day, Cincinnati’s only openly gay city councilman told CityBeat that equality for America’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgendered people would take a hit under a President Mitt Romney.
“On day one (of his presidency) he (Romney) could hurt gay families by reinstating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and hurt security for our country,” Seelbach said. “We need as many people serving as possible.”
Councilman Chris Seelbach spoke to CityBeat as he waited to vote early outside of the Hamilton County Board of Elections.
Proponents of the measure that prevented openly gay service members from serving in the military have said repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would damage the country’s combat-readiness.
A study published by the Williams Institute at University of California Los Angeles Law School in September found that there has been no overall negative impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, recruitment, retention or morale.
Seelbach said there would be a stark contrast for LGBT people under President Barack Obama and his GOP rival. He pointed to the Obama administration’s refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court; his vocal approval of same-sex marriage; anti-discrimination measures signed by the president that, among other things, give same-sex partners the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital and make medical decisions.
He said the next president would also likely have the opportunity to appoint new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court will likely decide the fate of California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage.
"If you care about equality, you've got to vote," Seelbach said. "The easiest way to vote is to vote early."
The Obama campaign in Ohio plans to release a new online ad touting the president’s accomplishments for LGBT people.
The ad, made available to CityBeat, features Zach Wahls, a gay-rights activist born to a lesbian couple via artificial insemination. Wahls is known for his testimony before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee against a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in that state.
In the ad, Wahls touts the president’s accomplishments and exhorts Ohioans to reelect Obama.
“We want to make sure that we’re all doing everything we can this fall to get out, register voters, canvass, knock on doors, get our family members and friends out to the polls so that we can re-elect the best president this country has ever seen on LGBT rights,” Wahls said.