Lesbian veteran challenges Idaho to be buried with her late wife

After her wife died, 74-year-old Navy Veteran Madelynn Taylor went to the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery to make arrangements so the two could eventually be buried together. But she was turned away. Madelynn, with the help of NCLR and Boise attorneys Deborah A. Ferguson and Craig Durham, filed a lawsuit this month challenging Idaho state laws banning her from being buried with her late wife, Jean Mixner, who she married in California in 2008.

The lawsuit argues that Idaho’s laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying and recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states violates the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

“Idaho is where some of our best memories together are and it’s where I want to spend eternity with Jean,” Madelynn said. “I could be buried here alone, but I don’t want to be alone. I want Jean with me forever.”

The lawsuit follows a landmark marriage equality victory in Idaho. On May 13, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale ordered the State of Idaho to allow same-sex couples to marry and to recognize the marriages of couples who married in other states after four same-sex couples challenged state laws. The couples in that case are also represented by NCLR and attorneys Ferguson and Durham.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden have appealed Judge Dale’s decision to the Ninth Circuit. The appeal will be argued on September 8 in San Francisco, California. www.nclrights.org

Catholic Church fires music director over plans to marry same-sex partner

The longtime music director at a suburban Chicago Roman Catholic church says he was fired after posting on social media plans to marry his same-sex partner. Colin Collette says his partner proposed to him last week in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

After leading the music on Sunday at Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, Collette says Pastor Terry Keehan asked for his resignation. He said he left without resigning, but was fired Monday.

Collette told the Chicago Sun-Times someone sent to Cardinal Francis George a Facebook image featuring the couple after their engagement. The cardinal then sent the church’s pastor an email calling for Collette’s resignation, he says. When he refused to resign, he was fired.

Collette said the church’s pastor knew he was gay, and had attended dinners with the couple.

In a written statement Wednesday, Archdiocese of Chicago officials said they were aware of the action taken by Keehan. After pointing out it doesn’t comment on individual personnel issues, the Archdiocese said those serving as ministers, including worship ministers, are “expected to conform their lives publicly with the teachings of the church.”

Collette is not the first layperson fired by the Catholic Church in retaliation for marrying a same-sex partner.

Earlier this year, Brian Panetta was forced to resign from his job as band and choir director at a Catholic school in Sandusky, Ohio, after officials learned he and his boyfriend became engaged to be married. In May, Flint Dollar, a band director at Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, Ga., was also fired after announcing plans to marry his partner.

And in Missouri, Colleen Simon, a parish food pantry worker, is suing the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph for firing her after her same-sex marriage was mentioned in a local article; Simon said she told the church of her marriage before she was hired.

New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group, has found more than 15 cases since 2010 of U.S. teachers, school administrators or parish musicians who lost jobs or resigned after expressing support for gay marriage or going public with their own same-sex relationships. Several of the former employees have sued.

AP contributed to this report.


GLAAD film industry report card reveals lack of LGBT visibility

In its second annual report card on LGBT representation in motion pictures, media advocacy group GLAAD gives the film industry a mostly failing grade.

GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Index (SRI), a report that maps the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios during the 2013 calendar year, found that of the 102 releases from the major studios in 2013, only 17 of them included characters identified as LGBT.

The majority of these characters were minor roles or cameos, said GLAAD, and many of these were outright defamatory representations in films such as Pain & Gain and Riddick.”

“The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film, in addition to the outdated humor and stereotypes suggests large Hollywood studios may be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community,” said GLAAD’s CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis.

“These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe,” she said.

Key findings from the report released last week:

Out of the 102 releases GLAAD counted from the major studios in 2013, 17 of them (16.7%) contained characters identified as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Last year, GLAAD counted 14 inclusive films, however this is also the first year that Lionsgate Entertainment was included in the tally. Lionsgate released 3 inclusive films in 2013.

More than half of those inclusive films (64.7%) featured gay male characters, while another 23.5% featured lesbian characters, 17.7% contained bisexual characters, and 11.8% contained transgender female characters (better described as impressions). Male LGBT characters outnumbered female characters 64% to 36%.

Of the 25 different characters counted (many of whom were onscreen for no more than a few seconds), 19 were white (76%) while only 3 were Black/African American (12%), 2 were Asian/Pacific Islander (8%), and 1 was Latino (4%).

The most common place to find LGBT characters in the major studios’ 2013 releases were in comedies, where 8 of the 19 total comedies GLAAD counted (42.1%) were inclusive. By comparison, 43 genre films (action, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.) made up the majority of the 2013 releases, though only 4 (9.3%) of those contained any LGBT characters.

Additionally, 5 of 28 dramas (17.9%) were inclusive, while there were no LGBT characters in any animated or family-oriented films or documentaries from the seven studios tracked.

Both Paramount and Warner Brothers received “failing” grades for including only minor and offensive portrayals of LGBT people in their 2013 releases. 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios received grades of “adequate.”

Sony Columbia was the first and only studio to receive a “good” score for several LGBT-inclusive films, including Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which was the only film tracked in the report that was also nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. No studio has yet received a grade of “excellent.”