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Monday, November 29, 2010

Key West lesbian guesthouse now welcoming men

Pearl's Rainbow

Several women sunbathe by the pool at Pearl's Rainbow, cooled by the tropical breezes that draw over 2 million visitors to Key West, Fla. each year. No men are to be found, which has remained a selling point for the guesthouse that has catered to lesbian travelers for 20 years. But the economy has contracted, and Pearl Rainbow's lesbian owner, Heather Carruthers, made a tough business decision she hopes will keep her rooms full—lesbian guests can now bring male family members or friends.
 
Check out the Miami Herald to read more. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bloomberg speaks out against hate

Michael Bloomberg

New York City’s media tycoon mayor last week vowed to stand with the LGBT community after a series of menacing hate crimes hit his city recently.

"When one New Yorker is attacked because of who they are or who they love, the fabric that binds us together is torn," said Michael Bloomberg. "And that’s why these attacks are attacks on us all — and why they can never, ever be allowed. Especially when it comes to our kids.”

Read more at Manhattan digital news provider DNAinfo’s website.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Breaking News: Prop 8 overturned by Chief U.S. District Judge

San Francisco

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco issued a ruling this afternoon declaring California's gay marriage ban to be unconstitutional. Read the ruling
here. A live press conference from the group that filed the case can be streamed in a few minutes at the American Foundation for Equal Rights website.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Opinion: A letter of protest to Target

Target should not take its best customers for granted

The following e-mail exchanges regard Target’s controversial $150k support for Tom Emmer, a homophobic, xenophobic Republican candidate for governor of Minnestoa. Learn more about the controversy through Minnesota Public Radio. Feel free to contact Target with your own words of protest. Frankly, I’m surprised anyone from Target replied, but I’m not at all happy with the response.

----
Robin Hartzell’s initial e-mail on July 27:

PLEASE FORWARD TO THE CEO AND CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS: As a longtime, brand-committed Target customer, I cannot underscore enough how disappointed and resentful I am at your company's decision to provide $150k to support Tom Emmer's campaign for Governor of Minnesota. Emmer is a confirmed homophobe and xenophobe. Do you not know your customers?! You just lost one here, and I'm making every effort to inform others online and off. I feel completely disgusted and betrayed. It will take nothing short of a major public apology and condemnation of Emmer's bigotry, along with a withdrawal of financial support for him and similar bigoted politicians, to win me back. Until then, goodbye.

----
Reply from Target on July 27:

Dear Robin Hartzell,

Target has long believed that engaging in civic activities is an important and necessary element of operating a national retail business. What's more important than any one candidate's stance on a particular issue is how we nurture thoughtful, long-term growth in the state of Minnesota.

Our support of causes and candidates is based strictly on issues that affect our retail and
business objectives. To continue to grow and create jobs and opportunity in our home state, we believe it is imperative to be engaged in public policy and the political process. That is why we are members of organizations like the Minnesota Business Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce and many others. And that is why we decided to contribute to MN Forward.

MN Forward's objective is to elect candidates from both parties who will make job creation and economic growth a
top priority. We operate best when working collaboratively with legislators on both sides of the aisle.  In fact, if you look at our Federal PAC contributions year to date, you will see that they are very balanced between Republicans and Democrats. For more information please visit www.target.com/company, and view the Civic Activity page.

Target
has a large stake in Minnesota's future, which is why it is so important to be able to provide jobs, serve guests, support communities and deliver on our commitment to shareholders. As an international business that is proud to call Minnesota home, it is critical that we have a business environment that allows us to be competitive. Our guests, team members, communities and shareholders depend on Target to remain competitive.

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Hanson
Target Executive Offices

----
Robin Hartzell’s reply to Target on July 28:

Jennifer,

A company that puts its own business interests ahead of the human rights of its customers is not a company I want to do business with. I had dinner with several friends last night. All were aware of the contribution, all were highly disappointed, and all have decided to avoid shopping at Target until it makes a sincere effort to rectify this ill-advised contribution to Tom Emmer's campaign.

Regards,
Robin Hartzell, a former loyal Target customer

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wedding bells to ring for gay Argentinians

Buenos Aires Skyline

Yesterday Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, granting gay and lesbian couples all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage provides to their straight counterparts. Some LGBT business leaders predict an economic ripple effect with increasing tourism among gays and lesbians who will see Argentina as a friendly, desirable destination. Read more from the Associated Press.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Harvey Milk to be honored Saturday

Harvey Milk, 1978


California stands as the only state to officially recognize Harvey Milk Day, but 26 cities across 20 states hold rallies and events to honor the first openly gay man to be elected to public office. Today Milk serves as an icon of the gay-rights movement. Read more in “USA Today.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Diversity commitment drives RBC

Gordon M. Nixon, president and CEO, RBC

Could Royal Bank of Canada be so successful because of the diversity of its workforce? Canada's biggest bank actively targets the gay and lesbian community, new immigrants, women entrepreneurs, Canadian Aboriginals and people with disabilities. In fact, of the more than 21,000 employees who’ve joined RBC since 2006, 52 percent have been women and 26 percent have been "visible" minorities. Read more about RBC’s commitment to diversity and the positive impact it has on the bank’s business at U.S. Banker.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Frank says ENDA to come out of committee soon


Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)


On Sunday Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) addressed a crowd of approximately 700 Victory Fund supporters at the group’s annual fundraising brunch in Washington, D.C. According to Frank, legislation aimed at ending employment discrimination against LGBT people will be marked up in committee ''this week or next.'' He said the LGBT community will win full equality in America, but not without a good fight. Read more in “Metro Weekly,” which covers LGBT news in the Washington, D.C. area.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Obama takes on heterosexism in hospitals

Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where last year 
Janet Langbehn was prevented from visiting her partner,
Lisa Pond, along with their children. Pond later died.

Last week President Obama jumped over a potential fight with conservatives when he ordered hospitals nationwide to honor patients' wishes about who may visit them in the hospital. Medical facilities that do not comply could lose Medicaid and Medicare money. Obama’s directive requires hospitals receiving payments from Medicare and Medicaid to follow all legally valid advance directives. The president’s action is expected to change the way some medical centers handle the issue.

Read more in the “Los Angeles Times” and at the website for ABC News. Click here to learn about the actions Jackson Memorial Hospital has taken to mend its relationship with the LGBT community.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Palm Springs welcomes LGBT visitors

Palm Canyon with Palm Springs in the distance.
(Photo: Stan Shebs)

Palm Springs continues to be a favorite destination for gay and lesbian travelers. The city, with a population of 48,000, competes with much larger rivals for a piece of the LGBT market that is estimated to be worth $63.3 billion in the United States. Read more in “The Desert Sun.”

Monday, April 12, 2010

700 protest LGBT Social Security discrimination

Protesters march Sunday to Hollywood's Social Security office.
(Photo: Nick Martinez / L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center)

An energetic crowd of over 700 people rallied at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and marched more than a mile to the Social Security Administration office in Hollywood yesterday to protest discrimination against LGBT taxpayers who are denied Social Security benefits.

Representative Linda Sanchez, a member of the House Subcommittee on Social Security, announced that she will write legislation to provide equal Social Security benefits for same-sex couples. Rep. Judy Chu offered to co-author the bill. Other political and community leaders spoke at the event, including Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. Laura Richardson, L.A. city council member Paul Koretz, West Hollywood mayor Abbe Land, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri L. Jean, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force executive director Rea Carey and AIDS Community Action Foundation president Craig R. Miller.

"We now have quality, affordable health care coming to all. What good is the quality of our health care in America if Americans are not treated equally under all of our laws?" said Rep. Sanchez. "I look at this country—which is great but could be made better—and I see that there is still discrimination … I don't think it's right that Americans should be treated differently by the country they love because of who they love."

Sanchez made the announcement at the Center's McDonald/Wright building before the crowd marched down Hollywood Boulevard to the Social Security office on Vine Street, where Lorri L. Jean , L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO, led the crowd in chanting and picketing to demand an end to the discrimination that hurts seniors like Alice Herman, a client of the center's seniors services department. Herman shared her story about being denied benefits after the loss of her beloved wife, Sylvia, even though the two were legally married.

"At the time I was burying Sylvia and grieving her loss, I had to look for a place to live as fast I as could," says Herman, who was left "a heartbeat away" from living in her car because she could no longer afford to live in the home they shared. Had Sylvia been a man, Herman would have been entitled to receive her spouse's larger Social Security payments. "This has got to change," she said.

Herman's challenges inspired Jean to speak out on the issue of discrimination in Social Security benefits. "We must stop the discrimination heaped upon our elders just when they are suffering profound grief after losing a partner," Jean says. "They shared their lives for 20, 30 even 40 years—and paid into Social Security with every paycheck just like everyone else. But they are cheated out of survivor benefits because their relationships are not recognized by the Social Security system."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Legal same-sex marriages create niche market for Iowa

Des Moines

Iowa’s Supreme Court ruling to legalize gay marriage has turned the state into a wedding tourism magnet. The decision a year ago to issue marriage licenses led to 1,783 same-sex weddings by the end of 2009, including 1,044 couples traveling from outside the state.
Read an Associated Press article about Iowa’s gay marriage market at PrideSource.com.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Austin officials consider support for Pride Weekend


News report (Video: KVUE-TV, Austin)

On Thursday the Austin City Council will consider making the annual Pride Weekend an event sponsored by the city. Pride Weekend began in 1997 and continues to grow each year. Critics say the city shouldn’t support an LGBT event, but several city officials see an opportunity to promote Austin as an inclusive city and generate revenue from travelers in town to celebrate. Read more at KVUE-TV’s website.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A hallmark of LGBT marketing from Guinness




The commercial above, "Mess," was produced in the United Kingdom for Guinness. Filmed in 1994 in black and white, it features a good-looking man getting ready for work while leaving a “mess” as he moves through his morning routine. Tammy Wynette’s song, “Stand by Your Man,” provides its soundtrack with a wink. Although somewhat entrenched in the contrasts of a heterosexual binary (masculine/feminine), the commercial nevertheless stands as groundbreaking work in gay advertising.

It’s too bad Guinness was never brave enough to air this commercial. At least we can thank the rise of online video to help LGBT people share and archive our media history. For more ads like this, check out what used to be the Commercial Closet, now run by Gays and Lesbians Allied Against Defamation (GLAAD) as its advertising media program, at CommercialCloset.org.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New same-sex wedding magazine announced


On Monday “Equally Wed,” a same-sex wedding magazine, launched its premiere issue online. Equally Wed's quarterly publication aims to fill a specialized niche by offering gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples an extensive and fashionable guide of ideas and trends for planning their engagements, weddings and honeymoons. Learn more at equallywed.com.

While Equally Wed will produce a new full issue every season, its departments ‘Beauty & Grooming,’ ‘Health & Fitness,’ ‘Honeymoons,’ ‘Etiquette’ and blogs will be updated on a weekly basis. Equally Wed magazine and EquallyWed.com are both products of Palladino Publishing, LLC.

Equally Wed was founded in 2009 by Kirsten and Maria Palladino, a recently married couple offering a fierce combination of talents in journalism and design and were unable to find what they needed when they were planning their own nuptials during 2008 and early 2009. With Kirsten's magazine and newspaper editorial background and Maria an entrepreneur who owned a graphic and web design agency, the pair decided to launch their own magazine on a subject they were extremely passionate about: Same-sex weddings.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

15,000 lesbians to swarm Palm Springs for Dinah Shore Weekend 2010

The Dinah from Club Skirts

By the early 1990s Dinah Shore’s golf tournament, held in the desert of California’s Coachella Valley every spring, had grown a sizable lesbian following and more parties and events were springing up every year to accommodate them. Mariah Hanson of San Francisco-based Club Skirts promotion company found a way to bring all the events together under one umbrella—the Dinah Shore Weekend, which she also calls The Dinah. A few years later another promotion company, Girl Bar, came on the scene and teamed with Club Skirts for fourteen years. In 2005 both companies went back to running two separate series of events, which seems to have attracted more women.

Dinah Shore is big business. Last year an estimated 15,000 lesbians flocked to Palm Springs, filling its bars, restaurants, hotels and stores with travelers ready to spend money and have a good time. This year Ke$ha headlines The Dinah’s White Diamonds Party on April 2, while Girl Bar features Kelly Rowland at its Circus A Go-Go bash on April 3.  Read more about the history and happenings of the Dinah Shore Weekend 2010 in “San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.”

Monday, March 22, 2010

Visit London launches iPhone app for LGBT visitors

London gay pride, 2009

Visit London has become the first tourism board to launch a gay travel application for smart phones. The Visit London “Gay London” app can be viewed on the iPhone and iPod touch and is now available on iTunes as a free download.

“London is an exciting destination with much to offer LGBT travelers,” says Martine Ainsworth-Wells, marketing director, Visit London. “We invite the community to take in our city’s unique cultural and nightlife options and enjoy our shopping, restaurants and wide range of hotels. Only in London can you shop to your heart’s content in shopping districts like Oxford Street, Carnaby Street or Saville Row and end the day in Soho, home to our city’s gay community.”

Gay Consultants, Inc. developed the application, which currently highlights 131 bars, restaurants, hotels and attractions for LGBT travelers. The app also has a blog feature that will continuously provide up-to-the-minute information on news and events of interest to the city’s LGBT visitors. Plus, the app provides four videos offering an insider’s guide to gay life in the British capital. The Visit London “Gay London” application works with 3G/GPS to give walking or driving directions to LGBT attractions.

The application comes on the second anniversary of the “Only in London” campaign, which celebrates London’s unique appeal to travelers. Click on VisitLondon.com/rainbow for more information.

Friday, March 19, 2010

HRC honors employers for LGBT equality


The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, celebrated with its Sixth Annual LGBT Workplace Awards Seminar and Reception Wednesday night to honor 305 employers as the 2010 “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”  The event, held at the Time Warner Center in New York City and hosted by Time Warner, featured Don Lemon, anchor and reporter for CNN, and special guest Tim Gunn, CEO of Liz Claiborne, Inc. and host of “Project Runway.”

“We’re happy to honor these companies who have taken strong actions that constitutes tangible, significant civil rights progress,” said Joe Solmonese, president, Human Rights Campaign. “With our recent launch of our ‘Best Places to Work’ iPhone application and with other resources coming soon, anyone, anywhere at anytime will be able to find out how a company ranks on LGBT inclusion. By mandating equal opportunity in hiring, ensuring equal compensation through medical and family benefits, and promoting informed work forces and equal work places, these companies continue to push progress forward. The federal law has to catch up.”

Companies receiving the honor scored 100 percent on the HRC Foundation’s 2010 Corporate Equality Index, which serves as a national standard to evaluate policies, practices and diversity efforts regarding LGBT workers. The Index measures factors such as non-discrimination policies, benefits, diversity training and other internal resources for LGBT workers, as well as external support for LGBT job seekers and customers. Released in September, the 2010 Corporate Equality Index report can be downloaded at hrc.org/cei. A full list of the 2010 “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality is available at hrc.org/placestowork.

Credit Suisse and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants each received both the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality” honor and the 2010 “Innovation Award for Workplace Equality.” The latter honors a specific program that a business has implemented to further LGBT inclusion in their workplaces. Criteria for the award include degree of innovation, originality and senior leadership support for fair treatment of its LGBT workers.

Credit Suisse was recognized for its “Open Perspectives” program, which educates LGBT MBA students about being “out” in their careers within the financial services sector and more specifically, how Credit Suisse’s culture supports LGBT employees. The other recipient, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, received the award for its work in creating a model health insurance policy that includes coverage for transgender employees.

“We are both thrilled and humbled that the Human Rights Campaign Foundation selected Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants for its Workplace Equality Innovation Award,” said Niki Leondakis, chief operating officer, Kimpton. “At Kimpton, we are committed to a culture that includes everyone, one that celebrates the individuality of our guests and employees alike. As a result, we have the unique vantage point of our entire employee base that has helped us build our LGBT program and offerings.”

This is the second year that HRC has honored companies with this award. Learn more about the Innovation Award for Workplace Equality and the winning programs at hrc.org/innovation.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New study tackles LGBT aging issues

Old Hand (Photo: Robin Hartzell)

After withstanding many years of discrimination, LGBT Baby Boomers say their approach to aging and retirement has been shaped by their identity and experiences.
A new study, "Still Out, Still Aging: The MetLife Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Baby Boomers," conducted with the American Society on Aging (ASA) and its constituent group, the LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN), shows LGBT Boomers will approach retirement differently than the general population and most will delay retirement until they are 70. Largely single and living alone, they plan to rely more on close friends than family for support as they age.
"Boomers in the LGBT population, born between 1946 and 1964, advanced the gay rights movement," says Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director, MetLife Mature Market Institute. "Born into a generation known for social activism, they were activists on a personal mission, forced to fight discrimination in school, in the workplace, in government, in society and among their own families. The result is a cohort of strong individuals who will continue to blaze trails as older Americans."
 
"Completely" or "Mostly" Out
Families are "Completely" or "Very" Accepting
Lesbians     
76%
61%
Gay men 
74%
57%
Bisexuals
16%
24%
Transgender
39%
42%
LGBT in the U.S. in 2010
According to Robert Stein, president and CEO of ASA, there are recommendations from the study that should be implemented. "We suggest that policy makers look at a number of items, including workplace and benefit changes to address the delayed age of retirement for many and a broader definition of caregivers than those now accepted by the aging industry. We also need to take a look at a greater public role in caregiving for those who say they have 'no one' to rely on in an emergency. Finally, there are lessons to be learned by the resilience and self-advocacy skills of the LGBT group that should be shared."
The study, which polled 1,200 LGBT individuals and 1,200 people from the general population, illustrates sharp differences and striking similarities between both groups with regard to attitudes, demographics and aging:
-- 60% of LGBT Boomers fear being unable to care for themselves as they age; 35% fear becoming dependent on others; and 10% fear discrimination as they age.
-- Of the LGBT sample surveyed, Lesbians (76%), Gay men (74%), Bisexuals (16%) and Transgender individuals (39%) say they are "completely" or "mostly" out. 61% of Lesbians and 57% of Gay men say their families are "completely" or "very" accepting, while that is true for 24% of Bisexuals and 42% of Transgender individuals.
-- Members of the LGBT group are more likely to say they will be at least 70 before they can retire, 48% compared with 40% in the general population, mostly for economic reasons. Only a quarter or fewer in the LGBT group say they have saved what they need to live in retirement.
-- While LGBT Boomers continue to fear discrimination, 55% of the LGBT sample say they have total or near total confidence that they will be treated with dignity and respect, compared with 39% of the comparison group.
-- A higher percentage of LGBT Boomers have completed living wills, health care proxies, rights of visitation and partnership agreements, in comparison to the general population.
-- Though both populations are likely to discuss end-of-life issues with their partners/spouses, LGBT Boomers have many more of those discussions with siblings, parents and other relatives.
-- In the LGBT group, men and women are equally likely to be caring for a parent or partner.
-- Members of the general population are more likely to be in a relationship than those in the LGBT sample, 77% vs. 61%. More than a quarter (26%) of LGBT partners have gotten married, even though only five states grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Many (63%) say they would marry if there was a federal law allowing gay marriage.
-- Nearly two thirds of LGBT Boomers say they have a "chosen family," a group of people they consider family, even though they are not legally or biologically related.
In conjunction with the study, the MetLife Mature Market Institute and SAGE, the world's oldest and largest non-profit agency dedicated to serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults, has produced "Planning Tips for LGBT Individuals and Couples," a consumer checklist to ensure that people have the necessary documents for financial, retirement, estate issues.
Methodology
To conduct the MetLife study, "Still Out, Still Aging," Harris Interactive collected survey responses from 1201 individuals aged 45-64 who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT) and 1206 individuals of the same age from a "general population" pool. Surveys were conducted online between December 10-21, 2009.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

LGBT business groups offer support to professionals




This recently produced promotional video for the DC-based Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce does a good job of underscoring the benefits of belonging to an LGBT business organization. The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce maintains a list of affiliated chambers and LGBT business groups. If your community doesn’t have a gay and lesbian business group and you would like to start one, the NGLCC offers a start-up kit and other resources. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Forum targets LGBT business leaders

Le Parker Meridien conference facility (Photo: Le Parker Meridien)

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is inviting applicants who qualify to take part in the 2010 Out & Equal Executive Forum’s class for emerging lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender business leaders.

Set for April 19-21 at the Le Parker Meridien in New York City, the Executive Forum will bring emerging executives together for a unique, two-day experience designed to enhance participants’ effectiveness as business leaders. Seating is limited for the Executive Forum, now in its third year and recognized as one of the premiere conferences designed for senior LGBT executives.

"Over the years, we have created a program - a foundation - that gives LGBT business leaders from around the world the opportunity to learn best practices from one another and become role models and examples for millions of people on how to be successful while being true to oneself," said Out & Equal Founding Executive Director Selisse Berry.

Forum participants will be able to do the following:
  • Hear from experts on issues that intersect with participants' professional roles, their LGBT identities and their advocacy.
  • Engage in dialogue with peers on the toughest issues related to the LGBT equality movement.
  • Gain a greater understanding of their roles as leaders in their corporations and as leaders creating inclusive workplaces.
  • Learn successful strategies and tactics for an executive to further an out and equal workplace.
  • Receive encouragement and coaching from peers on how to be their most authentic and powerful self.
  • Benefit from expert facilitation to help reflect on and process provocative questions that arise during the Executive Forum.
Out & Equal is especially targeting leaders who identify from the transgender community, bisexual community and communities of color. The 2010 Out & Equal Executive Forum will conclude with the Leadership Celebration on April 21 at the Le Parker Meridien. The celebration - including an exclusive reception and dinner - will celebrate those making a difference in the movement for LGBT workplace equality.

The cost to participate in the Executive Forum’s Emerging Executive Class is $1,600, which includes both the Executive Forum and the Leadership Celebration. To apply or learn more about the Executive Forum, go to OutandEqual.org.

Monday, March 15, 2010

RSVP Vacations to mark 25th year with Hawaiian cruise

Aloha Tower Marketplace & Downtown Honolulu Skyline at Sunset. Island of Oahu. (Photo: Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau)

Minneapolis-based RSVP Vacations, the first travel company to produce gay and lesbian cruises, today kicks off its yearlong celebration to mark 25 years of gay and lesbian cruises.  As part of its Silver Anniversary year, RSVP announced its first ever cruise to one of the company's most requested destinations – the Hawaiian Islands. 

The company designs unique travel packages aimed at gay and lesbian travelers. RSVP signed its first cruise ship charter in 1985 and hosted its first all-gay cruise in 1986.  Since then, the company has served more than 80,000 customers with a range of large and small ocean cruises, riverboat cruises, resort vacations and land tours.

"We're thrilled and honored to have been a central force in the growth and evolution of gay and lesbian travel throughout the last 25 years," says Charlie Rounds, president.  "RSVP is still creating unique cruise and resort experiences that bring together gays and lesbians from all walks of life, celebrating the great diversity of our community."

Reservations for all RSVP programs can be made through most travel agencies or directly from RSVP.  Visit rsvpvacations.com for more information.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Houston’s gay tourism gets boost

Houston's downtown skyline atop Buffalo Bayou. (Photo: Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau)

A report in “The Edge,” a local LGBT news publication in Houston, covers how that city’s gay marketing efforts have seen a boost since its new lesbian mayor took the helm. Houston's tourism office has launched a campaign, called “My Gay Houston,” with print ads and reworked web pages that feature gay and lesbian locals discussing the city’s appeal. Read the full story in “The Edge” and learn more about travel to Houston at visithoustontexas.com/mygayhouston.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ben & Jerry’s honors expanded DC marriage rights


Andreas Vellios (left) and Keith Spangler-Vellios (right) exchange vows in front of Reverend Lance Orndorff at the Ben & Jerry's Georgetown Scoop Shop on Thursday following the legalization of same-sex marriage in the nation's capital last week. (Photo: Stephen J. Boitano, AP)

Now the words “I do” ring true for all couples in Washington, D.C. after the successful, historic signing of the freedom to marry bill last week. To honor the city’s expanded marriage equality, today Ben & Jerry’s celebrates in the District of Columbia with a wedding and reception for Keith Spangler-Vellios and Andreas Vellios at the Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop in Georgetown.
Ben & Jerry’s co-founder, Jerry Greenfield, D.C. council member and sponsor of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, David Catania, Freedom to Marry Director of New Media, Michael Crawford along with friends and family will gather to celebrate the couple’s vows with a special wedding ice cream cake and ceremonial traditions.
Following the symbolic renaming of Ben & Jerry’s well-known ice cream flavor “Chubby Hubby” to “Hubby Hubby” in September 2009 to celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriages in its home state of Vermont, the company continues to demonstrate its commitment to social justice, including gay rights and its partnership with the non-profit Freedom to Marry, the leading campaign to win marriage nationwide.
“Equal rights and treatment for all people was a founding principle of Ben & Jerry’s when we started the company over 30 years ago,” said Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s. “We are proud that the District of Columbia is recognizing the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry and are happy to celebrate the milestone with an ice cream wedding cake and best wishes for the happy couple.”
City Councilmember David Catania will toast the couple and speak about the meaning of marriage equality for the District of Columbia and beyond. To keep the momentum of this movement, Ben & Jerry’s and Freedom to Marry will continue to raise awareness for marriage equality and encourage consumers to take action and urge states to pass similar legislation.
“The issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in America’s capital marks a significant victory for the national movement to secure the freedom to marry, and a great joy for D.C. couples who no longer need to leave home to secure the protections and responsibilities of marriage for their families,” says Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry. “Washington D.C. now joins the five states and eight countries where same-sex couples share in the freedom to marry.”
For more information on same-sex marriage matters and to take action in your state, go to freedomtomarry.org. Learn more about Ben & Jerry’s social mission at benjerry.com.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Miami area LGBT business group to open visitor center in South Beach

Ocean Drive, South Beach

As the 600-member strong Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MDGLCC) packs up its rainbow flag to prepare for a move to the historic Old City Hall in Miami Beach, plans are being finalized to open one of the first gay business group-sponsored LGBT visitor centers in the United States.
“We envision the new visitor center becoming the nucleus of LGBT activity for visitors, locals and our business community,” says Steve Adkins, president, MDGLCC.  “Other cities have LGBT community centers or general tourist information places, but we’re aware of no other city in the country that has a permanent, central location run by a gay chamber that serves the needs of both LGBT and gay-friendly visitors and locals.”
The center will be housed at the MDGLCC’s new headquarters. The Chamber aims for it to be a place of community, information, resources and business networking for the 1.2 million LGBT people who visit Miami-Dade County each year and the estimated 183,000 LGBT residents who call Miami and Miami Beach home, says Adkins.  The target date to open is on April 15. A dedication celebration will mark its opening.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gay weddings create business boom in DC



A study by the nonprofit Williams Institute says that newly legalized same-sex marriages in the District of Columbia will create over 700 jobs and pump $52.2 million into the economy there over the next three years. Read more about the impact gay marriage is having on businesses in Washington, D.C. in the “Washington Post.”

Monday, March 8, 2010

Virginia newspaper owner blasts new attorney general


Nicholas Benton, owner of the award-winning Falls Church News-Press” in Virginia, today sent a public letter to that state's post-secondary schools to criticize the "unprovoked, inflammatory act of bigotry" by Virginia's new Republican attorney general, Kenneth Cuccinelli. Last week Cuccinelli sent notice to the state's colleges and universities advising them to remove any policy language that protects the rights of lesbians and gays.

Benton denounced Cuccinelli's action not only for removing existing equal rights protections for gay and lesbians, but also for its negative impact on economic development in Virginia. He says the action undermines civic efforts to embrace diversity and perpetuates a mood of hate, intimidation and violence fueled by the far right.

"The unprovoked, inflammatory act of bigotry by the new Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli last week, in the form of a letter advising Virginia colleges and universities to remove language protecting lesbians and gays from discrimination, takes away existing protections from an embattled minority, and represents a profound threat to the Commonwealth in a number of important ways,” writes Benton.

He continues, "I urge every fair-minded citizen, every civil libertarian, every elected official of any party, and every proponent of economic growth in Virginia, every advocate of civility, to go on record in strong opposition to the Attorney General's incendiary action and to affirm that every Virginian enjoys equal protection under the law. Wherever public resolutions or pronouncements can be enacted to this end by local jurisdictions, political action or religious groups, or business or other organizations, I urge this to be done with the sense of clarity and urgency it deserves.”

Benton has owned the “Falls Church News-Press” for 19 years. He has also served for 19 years on the board of directors of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce and is also on the board of directors of the Virginia Partisans Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club.