LGBT Advocacy Groups issue letter in support of slain Missouri teenager Michael Brown

18 year old Michael Brown

LGBT advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, GLAAD, Center for Black Equity, Inc., PFLAG National and more have issued a statement in support of slain Missouri teenager Michael Brown and his family.

The shooting death of Brown has inflamed racial tensions across the country. The letter calls for a swift and thorough investigation.

When communities experience fear, harassment and brutality simply because of who they are or how they look, we are failing as a nation. In light of the recent events in Missouri, it is clearer than ever that there is something profoundly wrong in our country.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community cannot be silent at this moment, because LGBT people come from all races, creeds, faiths and backgrounds, and because all movements of equality are deeply connected. We are all part of the fabric of this nation and the promise of liberty and justice for all is yet to be fulfilled.

The LGBT community stands with the family of Michael Brown, who was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri. We stand with the mothers and fathers of young Black men and women who fear for the safety of their children each time they leave their homes. We call on the national and local media to be responsible and steadfast in their coverage of this story and others like it–racialized killings that have marred this nation since the beginning of its history. We call on policy makers on all levels of American government not to shrink from action, and we are deeply grateful to Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice for their immediate commitment to a thorough investigation.

At this moment, we are inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies … but the silence of our friends.”

The letter is signed by the following:

ACLU
AIDS United
Center for Black Equity, Inc.
Courage Campaign
Equality Federation
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
GLAAD
GMHC
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality Human Rights Campaign
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Minority AIDS Council
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) PFLAG National
Pride at Work, AFL-CIO
Soulforce
Southerners on New Ground (SONG)
Trans People of Color Coalition
Transgender Law Center
Trevor Project

LGBT Recruiting – Forth Worth Police Department

Fort Worth police detective Chris Gorrie

In my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, the Fort Worth Police Department has begun a series a humorous four-minute videos to encourage recruitment.

The one posted below stars openly gay police detective Chris Gorrie.

“You may be asking yourself, ‘What does this 30-year-old white guy have to do with diversity?’” asks the eight-year veteran. “Well, the short answer is, I’m gay.”

Serious progress for my hometown that the PD can make this kind of video.

Bravo, Chris and the FWPD.

Salt Lake City officer says he never “refused” to work Pride Parade

I recently reported on a Salt Lake City police officer who allegedly “refused” an assignment to work on the Utah Pride Parade.

It turns out there’s another side to that story. According to the officer’s lawyer, he never “refused” to work the Parade, just asked to not ride a motorcycle at the head of the parade.

From FOX13 in Salt Lake City:

The officer’s attorney, Bret Rawson, told FOX 13 that his client worked on the motorcycle squadron for the Salt Lake City Police Department and was uncomfortable with his role at the pride parade. Rawson said the officer has “conservative, religious beliefs” and felt that riding with the motorycle squad would be seen as “advocating in favor of the LGBTQ community, a possition which made him uncomfortable given his personal and religious beliefs.”

Rawson claims the officer had managed to trade roles with another officer, when department administration intervened and put him on suspension.

“He never flatly refused to do his job in that motorcade,” Rawson said in an interview with FOX 13. “Instead of being given that opportunity, he was ridiculed in the press by allegations of bigotry and more.”

On Friday, the officer was put on paid administrative leave after he reportedly refused an assignment during this past weekend’s Utah Pride Festival.

I would love to say, if true, this makes the story a different issue. BUT – for one thing, as the police department pointed out, officers don’t get to pick and choose their assignments. So why should this instance be different?

Also, with a motorcycle helmet and sunglasses and uniform, I can’t imagine anyone would even recognize this particular officer. So the idea of his being seen as “advocating” homosexuality is a stretch. I think that idea would only exist in his head.

It’s interesting that he did not want to be on a motorcycle at the head of the parade, but now feels he’s been “defamed” by the police department’s statements – which did not include his name.  How can you be “defamed” if no one knows who you are?

See FOX13’s report below.

South Carolina: Columbia police officers defy orders to march in Pride parade

Based on “religious beliefs,” two Columbia, SC, police officers defied orders and went over their police chief’s head:

Santiago had ordered a lieutenant and sergeant to join eight other officers in last Saturday’s parade even though they cited religious beliefs in their opposition. On the day of the parade, City Manager Teresa Wilson and her assistant met with Santiago and reached an agreement to make participation in the parade voluntary since there were then enough officers to march.

The police chief says not following direct orders and going around the chief sets bad precedent.

“An officer cannot choose their assignments based on their religious beliefs. When you have a police department that really values strict discipline and adherence and obedience to directives, the Chief of Police is the person they look toward for that direction. Any department that expects to instill public trust, must demonstrate that by being visible to the public.”

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott agrees:

“A chief or sheriff has to be able to make the decisions, a person that works underneath him are not going to respect them if they don’t have the ability to make decisions, and I think that’s a problem with the Columbia Police Department, not just now but for many many years/”

wistv.com – Columbia, South Carolina |

Reese Witherspoon to police officer: “Do you know my name?”

Reese Witherspoon apparently got into a bit of trouble last Friday as her husband was stopped by a police officer for driving while intoxicated after apparently swerving in and out of his lane.

Husband Jim Toth blew 0.139 on the Breathalyzer test, the report said, and was charged with driving under the influence.

During the traffic stop, reports say Witherspoon got out of her car more than once after being told to stay put by the officer.  Eventually, the “Walk The Line” star addressed the officer and said “Do you know my name?” She also said: “You’re about to find out who I am” and
“You’re about to be on national news,” according to the report.

Oh dear.  No one ever comes out on the other side of that line well, do they?

Reese was charged with disorderly conduct.  She has since stated “I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said.”

More at Newsday.

Austin Police Department – It Gets Better

The Lesbian & Gay Peace Officers Association produced a video comprising of LGBT officers and civilian members of the Austin Police Department to send a message to LGBTQ youth that it does get better.

This is part of the It Gets Better Project and The Trevor Project to reach out to LGBTQ youth who may be struggling due to bullying, harassment, and non-acceptance, and who may be thinking of committing suicide.

The message is to let those youth know that even though it is difficult today, tomorrow will bring hope, love, and life.  Help is here to get you there.

As a native Texan who spent my summers in Austin (one of my favorite cities) I’m so proud of this video.  These folks did an amazing job of communicating not only the struggles of the journey of coming out, but the pride and joy you feel when it finally “gets better” and you can accept and love yourself.

Great job guys!