Thursday, June 18, 2009

World Congress Latin American Development Fund

World Congress Latin American Development Fund
The World Congress Latin American Development Fund was created three years ago to help integrate our fellow gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews into the mainstream Jewish communities in Latin America.
During April 2009, we are continuing our Tzedaka work, helping underserved GLBT Jews around the world with a recommitment to the Latin America Development Fund. But we need your help.

Perhaps you are fortunate enough to be a member of an LGBT synagogue or Jewish community group that is welcoming to Jews of all sexual orientations. In many communities served by the World Congress, Jews are unable to fully participate in Jewish communal life. (Read a succesfull story)
Please be a facilitator for them and help move your community and your family toward this goal. Help us continue helping.

Click here to make a secure online donation.
Or please send your checks or money orders payable to the World Congress or WCGLBTJ. Memo: Latin America Development Fund 2009.
PO Box 23379 Washington, DC 20026-3379 USA
Or contact our treasurer

For more information about the program please contact

Yes on Gay Marriage

Gay Pride Month has been a great opportunity for volunteers to get involved with our Yes on Gay Marriage campaign. We are seeking 1,000,000 petition signatures to present to President Barack Obama during the National Gay March on Washington D.C. on October 11, 2009.

You can show your support by making a small donation and we will send you a Yes on Gay Marriage T-shirt, Yes on Gay Marriage Sticker, or both.

We are seeing new grassroots movement for equal rights, similar to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s. The young people in our community are hungry to get involved in this fight. They want their voices to be heard and they are angry that federal and state elected officials seem only to be paying lip service to their promises of fierce advocacy for equal rights for the gay community.

Yes On Gay Marriage Team Members are organizing petition drives at hundreds of local Gay Pride events and celebrations all over America. The new interest comes on the heels of the court’s decision to uphold Prop 8, a Justice Department brief comparing gay marriage to incest, the discharge of highly qualified and trained military personnel under the “Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell” policy and President Obama’s seemingly tepid support of equal rights for gays, a community that heavily backed his campaign for the presidency.

Happy Gay Pride Month!


Dan Kirk

Gays in Great Danger in Iraq

Gays in Great Danger in Iraq

By Bill Berkowitz, Religion Dispatches, June 15, 2009

After months of silence, the U.S. State Department finally condemns the murders of 24 young men who were gay, or perceived to be gay.

In 2005, during the height of internecine violence and resistance to the U.S. occupation, the country’s most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali a-Sistani, issued a religious decree that said that gay men and lesbians should be “punished, in fact, killed.” He added, “The people should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.” According to the New York Times, “The language has since been removed from his Web site.”

When al-Sistani talks, some Iraqis listen!

In early April, the New York Times reported that “The relative freedom of a newly democratic Iraq and the recent improvement in security have allowed a gay subculture to flourish here. The response has been swift and deadly.”

In late May, ABC News reported that “Two gay men were killed in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, and police confirmed they found the bodies of four more men, all killed during a 10-day period after an unknown Shiite militia group urged a crackdown on homosexuals in the country.” A month earlier, commenting about two young men that had been recently killed, a Sadr City official who declined to be named, called the young men “sexual deviants [whose] … tribes killed them to restore their family honor," according to a Reuters report.

Reuters also noted that prior to the murders, “Sermons condemning homosexuality were read [in late March] at … Friday prayer gatherings in Sadr City, a sprawling Baghdad slum of some 2 million people [that] … is a bastion of support for fiery Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army militia.”

"This (homosexuality) has spread because of the absence of the Mehdi Army, the spread of sexual films and satellite television and a lack of government surveillance," said the office's Sheikh Ibrahim al-Gharawi, a Shi'ite cleric.

While homosexuality is prohibited nearly everywhere in the Middle East, homosexual acts are punishable by up to seven years in prison in Iraq.

ABC News reported that “The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs believes as many as 30 people have been killed during the last three months because they were -- or were perceived to be -- gay.”

A Human Right Watch Iraq country report 2009, pointed out that “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are also vulnerable to attacks from state and non-state actors.”

Amnesty International, in a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, called for "urgent and concerted action" to end the violence against the gay community, the group reported on its Web site.

In an interview with EdgeBoston, Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch’s LGBT Rights Program who had been on a fact-finding mission to Iraq, responded to State spokesperson John T. Fleming's statement that “homosexuality is not a crime in Iraq,” by saying that Fleming’s statement "would be an interesting fact if the law, or the rule of law, mattered in Iraq.”

Wayman Hudson of the Bilerico Project recently pointed out that “While statistics have been hard to gather on the number of LGBT Iraqis killed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, it has recently been reported that at least 25 boys and men have been killed in Baghdad alone because they were either gay or believed to be.”

Now, after months of silence, the United States finally issued a sharply worded condemnation. When questioned by reporters, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said “In general, we absolutely condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals in Iraq because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

This is an issue that we've been following very closely since we have been made aware of these allegations, and we are aware of the allegations. Our training for Iraqi security forces includes instruction on the proper observance of human rights.

“Human rights training is also a very important part of our and other international donors' civilian capacity-building efforts in Iraq. And the US embassy in Baghdad has raised, and will continue to raise, the issue with senior officials from the government of Iraq, and has urged them to respond appropriately to all credible reports of violence against gay and lesbian Iraqis.

Iraqi LGBT ( (“a Human Rights group Supporting Iraqi lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people”) is in desperate need of funds “to assist … efforts to help other Lesbians, Gay, Bisexuals and Trans gender Iraqi's facing death, persecution and systematic targeting by the Iraqi Police and Badr and Sadr Militia and to raise awareness about the wave of homophobic murders in Iraq to the outside world.”

According to the website, “Funds raised will also help provide LGBTs under threat of killing with refuge in the safer parts of Iraq (including safe houses, food, electricity, medical help) and assist efforts help them seek refuge in neighboring countries.”

Less Unequal is Still Unequal -- Dump DOMA!

Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont now allow same-sex couples to marry and to enjoy the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage in those states. And thousands of same-sex marriages performed in California before the passage of Prop 8 ended equal marriage there are still valid according to a recent court ruling.

But in none of these places can someone in a same-sex marriage who has paid into the social security program collect survivors' benefits if his or her spouse were to pass away, nor receive the hundreds of other important federal benefits that heterosexual married couples are entitled to receive. This is because of the prohibitions contained in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

DOMA is a looming roadblock to full legal equality for same-sex couples ... a roadblock that candidate AND President-elect Barack Obama pledged to remove.

People For the American Way is collecting the names of Americans willing speak out and tell both the president and congressional leaders that the time has come to DUMP DOMA, and that they should act to do so now.

Please add your name to the petition and to this historic movement now:;

Yesterday, President Obama announced that he is moving administratively to provide some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees. This is a very small step in the right direction, but it's really just a token, and tokens are no longer enough. What stands in the way of real progress for all same-sex couples is DOMA, which denies the most important benefits -- healthcare, retirement, health insurance and more -- to anyone but "spouses" under DOMA's definition of marriage (ie. married heterosexual couples).

And sadly, the administration has not lived up to the president's earlier calls to repeal DOMA.

Last Friday, the Justice Department filed a legal brief in which it went far above and beyond simply defending DOMA as a federal policy against a court challenge. The brief cited laws regarding incest ... it called DOMA a policy of government "neutrality" (which it is clearly anything but) ... and it justified the government's continued discrimination on the basis that it's cheaper than expanding fundamental rights and protections.

There is no defense for the Defense of Marriage Act. Tell the president and Congress it's time for DOMA to go. Tell them to DUMP DOMA now:;

Please speak up and remind our leaders now that less unequal is still unequal -- tell them to DUMP DOMA:;

-- Your Allies at People For the American Way

P.S. You can read PFAW's statement on today's administrative action by Obama here:;

It's Time To Repeal DADT

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: I Stand With Lt. Dan Choi, It's Time To Repeal DADT

I am firmly committed to repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. I plan to work with Lt. Choi to repair the damage to his career and spare thousands of brave men and women from the same injustice.

Religious right leaders say it is anti-Christian to oppose hate?

Fred Karger sent a message to the members of Californians Against Hate

Read the whole story on: The Huffington Post

Fred Karger
Posted: June 17, 2009 02:28 PM

How to Win Back Same-Sex Marriage In California - Voter Registration

I spent three decades as a public affairs and political consultant. I spent a couple of hours at Los Angeles Gay Pride last Sunday.

Being heavily involved right now in our LGBT civil rights movement, it is important to observe what is going on out there. Several hundred thousand people attended the Sunday morning parade and the annual weekend festival. June is Gay Pride month, and there are literally dozens of cities in California that hold Pride weekends throughout June and all summer long.

Last year's Pride was particularity interesting, because much to our surprise, gay marriage had been made legal just weeks earlier, and it was going to take affect days later. What an exciting and historic time that was. What a difference a year makes.

I remember last year that there was no one registering voters the entire weekend of LA Pride. Odd I thought, since one year ago we knew in advance that Proposition 8 was very likely going to be on the November 4th ballot.

Voter registration is an essential element in all major political campaigns. Practically every campaign and every political party has conducted voter registration drives almost going back as far as George Washington. It's basic, nothing really new or innovative. The idea is, to register new voters who will vote with you in order to help your side get more votes than your opponents. Like I said, pretty basic.

This year I went into the Pride Festival to do a little test. I wanted to see what all was going on with voter registration.

I had assumed that our wonderful LGBT organizations (and they are incredible organizations) would have hundreds of people out registering LGBT voters and all our friends at LA Pride this year. I figured that they would be taking advantage of this mostly younger crowd, and get everyone at Gay Pride registered to vote. After all we very likely will be back on the ballot to repeal Prop 8 in less than 17 months.

As I went to my first LGBT political booth, I asked gently if there was a way to register to vote? A young bewildered volunteer said, "not really sure." I visited the over 20 more LGBT political booths, out of over several hundred at the festival. Sadly, I could not find one voter registration card! Not even one!!!

During my wanderings, I finally met a very nice girl who had heard that the Stonewall Democrats booth had some voter registration forms. She marched me right over there, and I was thinking bingo, but alas, after some searching around they first said "we ran out," then said, "sorry, we don't have any." Then the cute volunteer added, "good idea though."
200,000 to 300,000 LGBT individuals and so many of our friends were in one place, who all agree that marriage equality should return to California. You do the math. Talk about a missed opportunity!!!

I'm pretty certain that at least half of the mostly younger crowd at Pride is not registered to vote yet. Once they do register, they will be voting for let's say 70 more years on many more LGBT issues and for candidates who support us. That's a lot of Novembers and Junes. In California, all new voters have the option of checking a box to have an absentee ballot mailed to their home forever. Vote at home = very high turnout.

It's simple. Elections are won by who gets the most votes. We narrowly lost last year. Let's put on the biggest, most successful most fun voter registration program in California history. Let's give it a catchy name like "Milk the Vote" or "Register for Equality." Then brand it, use our massive volunteer force that has been and continues to be organized, and let's go get 600,000 new LGBT voters and our friends registered now. This new army should be everywhere the next 17 months where there is a gay event, rally, march, college campus and any place that there are more than 25 gay people assembled.

It's a lot of work, but if all our organizations and volunteers get behind "Milk the Vote," or whatever the name is, we can make up the 599,602 votes that we lost by and win next year's election to repeal Prop 8. Let's make sure that California once again leads the way on equality.
I appeal to all our very effective LGBT organizations to work together and make voter registration the number one activity between now and next October 18th (last day to register for the November 2, 2010 election).
Hell, people can even register on line:; and then just print out the form and mail it in.

We lost by only 4% of the vote last year -- 599,602 votes out of the over 13.4 million cast on Prop 8. What a change from just 8 years earlier when we lost by 23%!

Please, make this the last Pride in California, or anywhere in the country for that matter, where we are not registering voters.
It is the smartest thing that we can be doing now and for our future.

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