Tuesday, June 9, 2009

CofC Prof Dissertation on Gay Rights Wins Top National Award

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Tue, Jun 9, 2009 at 2:20 PM

A new assistant professor in the College of Charleston's communications school has won top honors for her Doctoral dissertation on gay rights activism.

Leigh Moscowitz, who joined the school's faculty last year, won an award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication for her work, "For Better or For Worse: News Discourse, Gay Rights Activism, and the Same-Sex Marriage Debate."

From the release:

"We congratulate Leigh Moscowitz on this prestigious award,” said Brian McGee, chair of the Department of Communication. “Winning the highest honor given for dissertation research in this field is very difficult.”

Moscowitz has quickly made an impact at the College of Charleston. The students of the Department of Communication voted her the department’s best undergraduate teacher for 2008-2009, an award normally given to members of the faculty with many years of service.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Calif. Marriage Decision Good News For Charleston's Gay Newlyweds

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 2:04 PM

d617/1243360811-manhands.jpgThe California Supreme Court upheld November's constitutional ban on gay marriage today, but it preserved about 18,000 same-sex weddings that took place last summer.

The loss was expected by gay rights groups nationally, but that preservation of previous marriages is good news for folks like Bryan and Michael. The Lowcountry couple tied the knot while vacationing on the West Coast last year.

Monday, May 11, 2009

S.C. Racial Injustice Referenced in Maine's Gay Marriage Debate

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Mon, May 11, 2009 at 11:55 AM

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When the Maine legislature approved gay marriage last week, comments from the floor included a reference to the Civil Rights era in South Carolina.

Several senior white men stood to support the bill. One told of how he has been haunted since he was a young man because he had visited South Carolina and drank from a water fountain marked “For Whites Only.”

It's ironic considering the civil-rights theme of the Alliance for Full Acceptance's current media campaign.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

DeMint Wants States Rights, Except Marriage

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Tue, May 5, 2009 at 3:47 PM

c7fa/1241552351-gaymarch.jpgPictured: A local gay rights rally last fall.

Sen. Jim DeMint’s office has reasserted his commitment to a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. In a Wall Street Journal op ed this week, DeMint argues states should determine their own policies on a host of issues, not the federal government. At one point in the piece DeMint mentions the continuing debate over gay marriage, but his office confirmed today that he still feels the pressing need for federal intervention on that issue.

1e65/1241552413-_080326.demint-large_resized.jpgIn the piece, DeMint charts a course for the Republican Party by suggesting the GOP brand “freedom.” The word means different things to different people, DeMint says, but there are core principles the party can rally around.

“Republicans can welcome a vigorous debate about legalized abortion or same-sex marriage; but we should be able to agree that social policies should be set through a democratic process, not by unelected judges,” he writes.

Likely meant to be a reference to the oft-mentioned “activist judges” that have ruled against marriage bans in a handful of states, DeMint’s rhetoric doesn’t match the realities on the ground. State legislators in Vermont recently became the first elected leaders to approve gay marriage without a court mandate. New Hampshire and New York could soon be next.

Considering the op ed was meant to encourage state and local control on issues like education, health care, and energy, it led us to wonder whether DeMint was now supporting a state’s right to determine whether gays could wed. Not so, says spokesman Wesley Denton.

Speaking to us briefly on Tuesday, Denton says the senator continues to support the federal government stepping in through a constitutional amendment. He says this does not run counter to DeMint’s anti-federalist argument and that it’s “the most democratic process” because each state must weigh ratification (amendments require the support of legislatures in three-fourths of the states).

DeMint has largely found support in libertarian (lower case “l”) circles in recent months, but his federal solution to the marriage issue doesn’t mesh with that of Congressman Ron Paul and other libertarian leaders. Paul is opposed to a federal amendment, saying the issue should be left to states or that the government’s role in recognizing unions should be eliminated all together.

DeMint’s strong support for states rights, while also seeking federal involvement on gay marriage may be indicative of a larger struggle between the religious and libertarian elements of the Republican Party as it rebrands itself.

Monday, April 6, 2009

AFFA Billboard: Gay Rights Are Civil Rights

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 11:32 AM

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Local gay rights advocates at the Alliance for Full Acceptance have two new billboards up on I-26 with a message that should spur conversations about how today’s movement for gays relates to the long fight for racial equality.

One of the billboards has two water fountains with one labeled “straight” and one labeled “gay” — a reference to the days of segregation of whites and blacks in every facet of daily life — with the tagline “Gay Rights Are Civil Rights.”

“If there are images that will stop people and make them think about it, then I think we should use it,” says Warren Redman-Gress, executive director of AFFA. “We can’t keep dancing around issues of language. We’re going to have to use imagery to show the connection.”

The idea for the billboard had been gestating until the Obama administration’s “Civil Rights” agenda was released with a host of reforms for gays and the transgendered, including repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, expanding hate crime laws, and providing civil union and federal benefits to gay and lesbian couples.

“That energized us,” Redman-Gress says. “It was almost like the president was sanctioning this kind of language.”

AFFA is using the term civil rights out of admiration for the predecessor to the gay rights movement.

“We’re not saying the experiences are the same,” he says. “But we can learn from the civil rights movement that came before us.”

One black leader who is welcoming the flattery is NAACP President Julian Bond. At a gay rights dinner last month, Bond told the crowd that his group is proud to support anti-discrimination efforts regarding sexual orientation.

“Black people of all people should not oppose equality,” he said. “And that’s what gay marriage is.”

The AFFA billboard campaign is expected to run for three months, along with a combination of print, TV, and radio ads.

And the local gay rights group isn’t the only one trying to bridge the divide between gays and blacks.

South Carolina Equality, a statewide group the presses for gay rights reforms, is developing an Opening Doors program that will work to find common ground in the two communities. A first effort will be Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner — pot luck events around the state that will facilitate the discussion on civil rights and what can be accomplished together.

“Discrimination is discrimination,” Redman-Gress says.

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