Monday, April 27, 2009

Lambda Legal Update

Lambda Legal today issued the following statement on the first day that marriage licenses are being issued to same-sex couples in Iowa.

Statement from Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director at Lambda Legal:

"At Lambda Legal we are thrilled to extend our congratulations and warmest wishes to the couples and their families who can celebrate today and in the future because their relationships will now be honored and treated equally under the law.

"When the Iowa Supreme Court issued its unanimous decision in Lambda Legal’s marriage equality case, history was made not only for Iowans, but for the entire nation. Within days, the Vermont legislature enacted a marriage equality bill and proposed bills are now pending in other states. Equality is taking root and growing strong from coast to coast and in the heart of our country.

"We have a lot more work to do to protect the relationships and families of LGBT people and people with HIV in other states, and to advance and protect our civil rights on the job, in school, and in all aspects of our lives.

"Today, our thoughts and hearts turn to Iowa. We know there is a long road ahead to protect this victory. We must roll up our sleeves and work with our colleagues at One Iowa to continue to share with Iowans, and the rest of the country, about the importance of marriage equality for our families. But first, we celebrate. Love, justice and history are on our side." ...

Lambda Legal today issued the following statement in response to the tragic suicides of Jaheem Herrera of Dekalb County, Georgia, and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, of Springfield, Massachusetts, both 11-year-olds who faced antigay harassment and bullying.

Statement from Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal:

“This has been a somber time for everyone who heard the terrible news of two young people taking their own lives after being the targets of antigay physical and emotional abuse. We extend our sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of these young boys.

“The tragic deaths of Jaheem Herrera and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover underscore the importance of safe schools where harassment and violence based on racist, sexist, antigay or other biased attitudes are not tolerated. Unfortunately, there is much work to be done. Harassment of LGBTQ students and those perceived to be LGBT remains a serious problem across the country. Lambda Legal pledges to continue to stand up for students and hold schools accountable for preserving their rights and integrity. We applaud schools that stand up for safety and respect for all students because any student can be the target of LGBT-related bullying and harassment.

“Lambda Legal has played a key role in securing equality for LGBTQ and allied youth and standing up for their rights in schools. We advocated for students’ rights to an environment of safety and respect in communities from New York and New Jersey to Oregon to California and Georgia. In 1996 we made history with the first legal challenge to antigay violence in public schools on behalf of Jamie Nabozny, in Nabozny v. Podlesny, and in our 2000 case, Colin v. Orange Unified School District, we established the obligation of schools to allow Gay Straight Alliance’s on equal terms with other student activities.

“Every student deserves the right to a respectful and affirming experience in school hallways and classrooms. We owe it to Jaheem Herrera and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover to make sure that school officials, teachers and fellow students take a stand against LGBT-related harassment every day, and at Lambda Legal we will continue our work in schools to help prevent similar tragedies from occurring.”

Lambda Legal will join the Faith and Community Alliance and other community groups at a vigil for Jaheem Herrera on Tuesday, April 28, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., First Christian Church of Decatur ,601 West Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, GA.

(Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.)

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