Friday, July 24, 2009

Blog Update

Thanks to Ryn Gargulinski and Mark Evans of the Tucson Citizen, Mark Kerr is blogging on that site about news and issues of concern to the LGBT Community.

The following is the link to the Observer page there, so update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

AIDS Walk, October 11

Mark your calendars for October 11th as Tucson celebrates its 21st Annual AIDSWALK presented by Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel benefiting the programs and services of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF). AIDSWALK features a 5K walk, 10K fun run, great food, entertainment, community education, kid and pet friendly play areas, a beautiful quilt opening ceremony with quilt panels on display from the Names Project Foundation, and much more.

Your participation in AIDSWALK means joining thousands of friends, families, and community members to walk in support of those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, HIV education and prevention, and in memory of loved ones lost to HIV/AIDS.

This year’s message, I walk because, allows people to share their story. I walk because…every 9½ minutes someone is infected with HIV. I walk because…approximately 2 young Americans under the age of 24 become infected with HIV every hour of every day. I walk because…everyone has an HIV status. I walk because…

SAAF provides care and support for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in southern Arizona, including housing, a food pantry, medical and dental assistance and support groups. Equally important, SAAF provides outreach to groups at high risk of HIV/AIDS through seven different culturally targeted prevention programs as well as general community education to help reduce the risk of HIV.

You may visit us online for more info at or call (520) 791-WALK (9255). Proceeds benefit the programs and services of SAAF.

Reveille Men's Chorus 2009-2010 Season

Dear Reveille Supporters,

I don't need to tell you about the impact these difficult economic times are having on the arts and nonprofit organizations here in Tucson. In the recent weeks you have no doubt received pleas for help from more than a few local GLBT non-profits. Sadly, Reveille is no different as we find ourselves in the same financial bind as most groups in Tucson. We desperately need your help.

In one month Reveille Men's Chorus will begin our 15th year of changing lives through music in Southern Arizona. As a performance ensemble Reveille has always been dedicated to musical excellence while promoting human rights, diversity and a world free of AIDS. We have partnered with local groups such as SAAF, TIHAN and Wingspan to assist in their efforts in battling HIV. We perform at AIDS Walk, TIHAN's Musical Potpourri, the Annual Wingspan Dinner and various other fundraisers throughout the year. Reveille also performs at local churches, synagogues, schools and senior citizen centers throughout Southern Arizona to entertain and to promote a positive image of our LGBT community. Reveille has performed in Mexico (on 5 separate occasions) and Brazil to help raise funds for local HIV/AIDS support groups. We traveled at our own expense, and funds raised for our performances stayed with the local groups that organized the concerts. We have always felt that music can be a powerful medium to affect change but we are now in danger of having to shut our doors.

I cannot put it in simpler terms, due to a decrease in donations this year we are faced for the first time without having the funds to begin our new season. We are grateful to all those who recently donated funds at our most recent performance in June. That money has enabled us to survive the summer months. But unless we receive the money necessary to begin our 2009-2010 season the singing may have to stop. To make a donation:

* Mail your tax deductible check to Reveille Men's Chorus, 300 E. University Blvd., #142, Tucson, AZ 85705.

* Or call the Reveille phone at (520) 304-1758 to make a credit card donation.

Your support will enable the men of Reveille to continue to raise our voices in song and lend our hands and our hearts to all of those in our community for whom we help with our music.

Thank you,
Jeffrey Bracker
President, Board of Directors

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Right to Marry Arizona Update

Greetings from fellow Arizonans. We are writing to tell you about the Right to Marry campaign that will taking place in August.

We wanted to let you know young-adults will engage Phoenix during the week of August 9th. The Equality Walkers will journey 97 miles, the number of years Arizona has been a state without equal protection for its LGBT citizens, throughout the city. Along the route they will bring the conversation of civics, faith, and equality to religious institutions, politicians and community members.

We are writing foremost because we recognize and value your work on LGBT issues in this state. We think it behooves us all to be in good communication about our respective efforts. Secondly, if you have feedback, insight, or a desire to be involved, we should talk. This week we are putting out the call for participation, and this is an exciting intergenerational campaign that many folks can be a part of in creative ways.

We would love for you to show support of this event in any of the following ways:

* Host a meal

* Walk a portion of the route

* Email blast information about the walk

* Bring your organization members and supporters to the final mile of the walk from Phoenix City Hall to the Arizona State Capital on Saturday August 15th at 11am.

* Contact us with your personal stories

Please also check out our website for more information about the structure, the timeline, and details on involvement. We hope that we can work together or be mutually beneficial in our movement's goals for marriage equality in our state.

Feel free to contact us at any time.

Many thanks,

Meg Sneed


Melissa Halverson


Friday, July 17, 2009

Open Letter from Wingspan Board President Cynthia Garcia

Times are tough. We've all felt the effects in our pocketbooks and portfolios.

Your LGBT community center is no exception. Wingspan is making some big changes. We must take these bold actions now to preserve our core services.

I wanted to tell you what's happening and ask for your help.

First Wingspan is moving.

Beginning this weekend, the Wingspan community center and staff offices will consolidate buildings with the EON Youth Lounge. This is a smaller building just across the street from Wingspan. Wingspan will be open Saturday July 18 and then close Sunday, July 19. Wingspan will remain closed next week (July 20—24) during the transition and reopen Monday, July 27 in the new space.

I've listed further details at the end of this letter about new hours and what this will mean.

There are more big changes ahead.

I want to also let you know that as part of a strategic plan to conserve resources by cutting all staff positions that are not grant-funded, Wingspan's Executive Director Jason Cianciotto has offered his resignation. When Jason saw that his resignation was a necessary part of cost-saving measures to preserve core services, he came to the board to recommend that he resign. We reluctantly accepted.

Jason has volunteered to continue as executive director, with only a $1 salary until July 31. Jason will write to you soon himself. Jason has given complete devotion and passion to his leadership of Wingspan over the last 18 months. We are grateful for his service, leadership, and generosity.

And finally, in place of the annual community dinner held in September, we are going to do something different this year. At this time when every dollar counts, we don't want to spend any money that doesn't go directly to support our programs and staff.

Various activities are being planned in the coming months for the community to gather and support Wingspan. We will continue to keep you informed and encourage your participation in these events.

I realize that this is a lot to take in. And it's happening fast.

It's been difficult for the board to make these changes. We are available to answer your questions and hear your concerns and ideas.

Now more than ever Wingspan needs you. This is our community. It's our center.

We'll need volunteers to do many things that paid staff used to do. We'll also need your financial support to ensure that Wingspan continues.

Wingspan has a strong history of community involvement and leadership. Wingspan began as an all-volunteer organization. Wingspan's roots actually go back to the late 1970s, when local community members offered their homes for a weekly youth support group.

In the late 1980s Wingspan rented a tiny office space. And in 1998 Wingspan hired its first paid staff. It wasn't until 2000 that Wingspan had an executive director.

Now, it's time to return to our roots.

In the very first newsletter of Wingspan, published in the late 1980s, the volunteer leaders wrote why they chose to call the community center Wingspan:

"The word Wingspan represents the enfolding of wings around us, cradling us in our struggle for survival," they wrote. They went on to explain that, "It expresses our desire for freedom; the freedom symbolized by a bird in flight. And it represents the spreading of our own wings, as each of us reach beyond our limits."

It's time to spread our own wings. To reach out. To stretch beyond what we thought was possible.

Your gifts of time and leadership are needed now. And your financial support is imperative.

For Wingspan to continue we must raise $125,000 by October 31, and find 1,000 new monthly donors who commit to giving $25 or more each month. And we need your help to do it.

Every donation counts. Nothing is too small. We need every person who cares about Wingspan in Southern Arizona to stretch and do their part.

Giving online is the quickest and easiest way for us to process your gift. Please go online today to and give as much as you can. Ask your friends to do the same.

Times are tough for everyone. But I know that we have an amazing community. The board of directors have already personally pledged $20,000 toward our $125,000 goal.

This is it. This is the critical moment to offer your skills and support to Wingspan. Wingspan needs you to continue offering critical, life-saving services and to speak loudly and proudly on behalf of the freedom and equality of the LGBT community in Southern Arizona.

Thank you in advance for your sacrificial giving. And for all that you will do to ensure that Wingspan continues.


Cynthia Garcia

Wingspan Board President

P.S. If you have questions or ideas please feel free to email me directly at or the board vice president Karyn Prechtel at

We've tried to anticipate some of your questions below. But please contact us if you have more questions.

What will the transition be like next week?

· The anti-violence hotline will remain available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the transition. The number is 520-624-0348 and toll-free 800-553-9387.

· The EON Youth Lounge will remain open next week during its regular hours, 3 to 8 pm for youth ages 13-23.

· Staff email is currently down due to the transition. We hope to have this back up and running smoothly by the close of business Saturday, July 18.

· The Wingspan website will remain up during the transition. The web address is

· The new combined Wingspan center and EON Youth Lounge will be open at its new location July 27.

What will the new center be like?

· The new center hours will be Monday — Friday. Wingspan and EON will be closed on the weekends. From 11 am until 2 pm the community is welcome to come and use the cyber center, library, and the one available meeting room.

· Wingspan will be closed each weekday from 2 pm to 3 pm to allow for a daily transition to an all-youth lounge.

· EON Youth Lounge will remain a youth-only safe space from 3 pm until 8 pm Monday—Friday. Only youth, SAGA and some Wingspan committees will be able to use the space from 3 pm to 8 pm.

What will the new Wingspan look like?

Wingspan's outreach, support and advocacy will continue with paid staff through the following programs: EON Youth Lounge, Anti-Violence Programs, and the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance. Wingspan's community education programs will also continue with leadership by volunteers. These programs have been the crux of Wingspan's 21-year legacy of providing national leadership in LGBT education and advocacy.

Wingspan's finances will remain professionally administered through a financial management contract.

Volunteer teams of community leaders will take the lead on organizing volunteers, fundraising, and Wingspan's public advocacy. Already volunteers completely run many of Wingspan's work such as our community Senior Programs. Wingspan began as a volunteer organization. By engaging the many gifts and talents of our community and returning to our roots as a volunteer organization, Wingspan will continue to promote the freedom, equality, safety, and well-being of LGBT people in Southern Arizona.

My group used to meet at Wingspan: Where else can we meet?

Tucson's public libraries and city council offices have free meeting spaces for the public. Both have offered their spaces for groups that used to meet at Wingspan.

See these websites for more about reserving rooms at a library near you:

I want to help. What can I do?

If you can help pack boxes, come to the center Saturday, July 18, starting at 9 am.

If you'd like to give a donation the easiest way is to go online to and donate online.

If you have ideas or would like to volunteer to write grants, do data entry, sweep floors, answer phones, host a fundraiser, or lead a new outreach program for instance, contact board president, Cynthia Garcia, or the board vice president, Karyn Prechtel at Jason will also be available until July 31.Thank you. Together we are Wingspan. This is our community. And our center.

Mass. Sues Feds over Definition of Marriage

BOSTON, MA (Observer Update) - assachusetts, the first state to legalize Gay marriage, sued the U.S. government Wednesday (July 7) over a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, reported the Associated Press on

The federal Defense of Marriage Act interferes with the right of Massachusetts to define and regulate marriage as it sees fit, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said. The 1996 law denies federal recognition of Gay marriage and gives states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Boston, argues the act “constitutes an overreaching and discriminatory federal law.” It says the approximately 16,000 same-sex couples who have married in Massachusetts since the state began performing Gay marriages in 2004 are being unfairly denied federal benefits given to heterosexual couples.

Besides Massachusetts, five other states - Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Iowa - have legalized Gay marriage. Gay marriage opponents in Maine said Wednesday that they had collected enough signatures to put the state’s new law on the November ballot for a possible override.

The Massachusetts lawsuit challenges the section of the federal law that creates a federal definition of marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

Before the law was passed, Coakley said, the federal government recognized that defining marital status was the “exclusive prerogative of the states.” Now, because of the U.S. law’s definition of marriage, same-sex couples are denied access to benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including federal income tax credits, employment benefits, retirement benefits, health insurance coverage and Social Security payments, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also argues that the federal law requires the state to violate the constitutional rights of its citizens by treating married heterosexual couples and married same-sex couples differently when determining eligibility for Medicaid benefits and when determining whether the spouse of a veteran can be buried in a Massachusetts veterans’ cemetery.

“In enacting DOMA, Congress overstepped its authority, undermined states’ efforts to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and codified an animus towards Gay and Lesbian people,” the lawsuit states. The Justice Department had not seen the lawsuit and cannot respond until it has a chance to review it, spokesman Charles Miller said.

The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted when it appeared Hawaii would soon legalize same-sex marriages and opponents worried that other states would be forced to recognize them.

President Barack Obama has pledged to work to repeal the law, although Gay rights activists criticized the administration last month after Justice Department lawyers defended it in a court brief. White House aides said they were doing their jobs to support a law that is on the books. This is the second lawsuit filed in Massachusetts challenging the law.

In March, the Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders claimed the law discriminates against Gay couples and is unconstitutional because it denies them access to federal benefits that other married couples receive, such as health insurance and pensions.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

DOMA-ME-ME - By Mark R. Kerr

When the American Foundation for Equal Rights and former Bush v. Gore attorneys, former Solicitor General Ted Olson and David Boies, had teamed up to file suit (May 22) in federal court, the Ninth U.S. Circuit, located in San Francisco, California, challenging California’s Proposition 8, on the grounds that it violates the federal Constitution, specifically the Fourteenth Amendment and the equal protection clause when the California Supreme Court, in its ruling, said Gay and Lesbians could be treated “separate but equal” under the law, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) rights groups reacted with disdain.

This “premature” legal challenge, in a statement, on May 27 by the ACLU, GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Defenders), Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Freedom to marry, GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay Lesbian Task Force “may well not win the right to marry back in California.” and that a legal defeat “would likely set back the fight for marriage nationwide, and hurt LGBT parents, employees, and students all over America,” but now more than a month later, these groups have filed a legal brief asking to be a part of this legal challenge.

Jennifer Pizer, Lambda Legal's national marriage director, said in an interview that their full participation is vital now that U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker has put the Proposition 8 challenge on a fast-track to trial. "We think it will be very helpful to Judge Walker and the ultimate resolution of the questions in the case for the litigation to have the benefit of the presence of the community in all its diversity," Pizer said.

Chad Griffin, the Board President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, called the legal maneuvering, “too late” since the same groups originally criticized a federal civil rights claim as premature.
"You have unrelentingly and unequivocally acted to undermine this case even before it was filed. Considering this, it is inconceivable that you would zealously and effectively litigate this case if you were successful in intervening," Griffin said in a letter to the groups. "Therefore, we will vigorously oppose any motion to intervene."

More lawyers, Griffin continued would “delay and unnecessarily complicate the proceedings” but the public interest groups were welcome to continue participating as consultants, something the groups should do since they were initially loath to join this legal challenge, something they now see as a possibility but “if you snooze, you lose!”

Protecting and advancing equal rights through legal and policy advocacy, for all Americans is the reason, according to their website ( why the American Foundation for Equal Rights was formed. For more information about this case, the American Foundation or to support their efforts, go to their website.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Boys R Us Presents: Life's a Drag - a Community Drag Event, July 25

TUCSON - Boys R Us presents: Life's a Drag - A community drag event, Saturday, July 25, 8:00 p.m. - midnight, benefiting IDKE XI, featuring performances by Janee' Starr, Turkish Delights, Switchblade Parade and DJ Motion all on one stage to raise funds for this year's International Drag King Community Extravaganza! Eegees, drinks, auctions!

Life’s a Drag will take place at the Fourth Ave. Winsett Outdoor Performance Center, just south of Bison Witches, 326 N. Fourth Ave.

For more information, contact Rachel Castillo, (520) 551-0778.

Summer Tea Dance, July 25

TUCSON (Observer Update) - A Summer Tea Dance for LGBT Seniors and their Friends, Saturday, July 25, 4:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Coyote Moon, 915 W. Prince.

The DJ will play a mix of '40s big band, '50s/'60s oldies, country western, and the best of disco. Burgers, fries and other food items are available for purchase, and be sure to ask about the "Howl/Senior Pride" food and drink special.

For more information, call (520) 624-1779.

Rainbow Families - Mt Lemmon Trip, July 25

TUCSON (Observer Update) - On Saturday, July 25, 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., enjoy a trip up to the cool temperatures of Mt. Lemmon. Meet at the NE corner of Tanque Verde and Catalina Hwy at the McDonalds (at 11:00 a.m.) to caravan/car pool up the mountian.

There is a $5 per vehicle park pass required. If you want to meet later in the afternoon, take the Catalina Highway off Tanque Verde Road in Tucson. Drive 4.2 miles to the Forest boundary and continue 25.6 miles (through Summerhaven). Marshall Gulch Picnic Area is a quarter mile beyond the village. We will have a rainbow flag at the picnic area.

Rainbow Families is a group of LGBT parents with children who get together for monthly social events. Everyone is welcome and for more information, contact Peter, (520) 245-6659,