Friday, February 15, 2008

Morally Clean and Straight? The Boy Scouts and Discrimination

David Knapp, now 81, was expelled from the Boy Scouts after a lifetime of scouting and service when the organization “discovered” he was gay.

In the late 1990’s, lawsuits all over the country challenged the Boy Scouts’ discrimination against gay men and youth.

Boy Scouts of America v. Wyman in Connecticut was one of the successful suits, in which the Scouts were barred from a state employee fund-raising campaign because their anti-gay policy violates Connecticut's non-discrimination law.

David Knapp and GLAD attorney Jennifer Levi tell the story of Boy Scouts and discrimination in our podcast, Morally Clean and Straight: Boy Scouts of America v. Wyman.

Tell us your story:

Were you a Boy Scout? Were your children? Share your thoughts on the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Religion and Equality

We received news this week that our friends at the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry (RCFM) will be closing their doors here in Massachusetts – for the best of reasons. “We’ve accomplished our mission!” said RCFM leader Rabbi Devon Lerner. While marriage equality is secure in Massachusetts, Rabbi Lerner also told us that she recognizes that the work of religious leaders is not done: “We know we have more work to do in our denominations and in our faith communities for GLBT equality, but it will be done through new and different coalitions.”

Our partnerships with religious people over the years have subverted the idea that religion = bigotry, and that the religious right speaks for all people of faith when they denounce gay equality. In our work throughout New England, we’ve seen religious coalitions for equality grow in strength and numbers in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine, and of course here in Massachusetts.

One of the most powerful moments on the June day that our Massachusetts legislature was to vote marriage equality up or down came early in the morning. The Religious Coalition held a rally and prayed at St. Paul's Cathedral, then marched en masse across the Boston Common to the State House. Religious opponents to marriage equality, praying across the street, had to part ways to let the supportive clergy through. It was only one of many times and many ways over the years that RCFM has demonstrated its support for equality, and we are extraordinarily grateful.

Friday, February 1, 2008

School's Right to Teach About Family Diversity Upheld

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit yesterday unanimously affirmed District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf's dismissal of a lawsuit brought by two sets of parents against the Lexington school system. In the suit, parents David and Tonia Parker and Robert and Robin Wirthlin claimed that a Lexington elementary school violated their constitutional rights by exposing their children to books portraying many different kinds of families, including non-judgmental depictions of families headed by same-sex couples.

Judge Sandra Lynch wrote for a unanimous court that the parents who brought the suit have no constitutional "right to be free from any reference in public elementary schools to the existence of families in which parents are of different gender combinations." Her decision further stated, "Given that Massachusetts has recognized gay marriage under its state constitution, it is entirely rational for its schools to educate their students regarding that recognition."

We're delighted that school systems remain free to include age-appropriate material featuring a wide variety of families, including those with two moms and two dads. As a result, gay and lesbian parents and their children can feel safe and supported in their schools, and all children can learn about the true diversity of the society we live in.