David Kato murdered in Uganda

David Kato, a tireless LGBT advocate and spokesperson with Sexual Minorities Uganda, was murdered in his home. Kato’s name was published by a Ugandan newspaper decrying the "Top 100 Homosexuals In Uganda" with a call to "hang them."

Kato also worked Soulforce as part of the United Nations Faith Coalition. We are deeply saddened by this greivous crime and the loss of a great person. We will update you as more develops.

American Jewish World Service mourns the loss of David Kato

AJWS is deeply saddened and outraged by the brutal murder of David Kato, a Ugandan LGBTI activist. Kato was one of the most visible and vocal defenders of human rights for LGBTI Ugandans and served as the advocacy officer for the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). He partnered closely with AJWS’s Ugandan grantees to voice opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill — a piece of proposed legislation that would strengthen existing penalties against homosexuality and make same-sex relations in Uganda punishable by prison. Among the bill’s many dangerous provisions, a person who fails to report within 24 hours the identity of anyone perceived to be LGBTI or who supports the human rights of LGBTI people, would be subject to up to three years’ imprisonment.

Read the full statement

Decriminalization Now!

Decriminalization now! Worldwide freedom for gender and sexaul minorities from state sanctioned violence

In light of David Kato’s murder in Uganda, it is even more urgent that all people join our voices to call for the immediate end to the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer lives.

"I support decriminalization of the lives of sexual minorities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people) in all nations of the world.  I object to the use of USA tax-exempt status by churches and organizations who promote "ex-gay" or reparative therapy messages and/or homophobic missions in all nations of the world.  I call for a thorough investigation of these organizations and their practices."

SLDN Making History, Moving Forward Dinner

A message from our friends at Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN),

We are honored to welcome Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and former Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA), as co-chairs of SLDN’s 19th Annual National Dinner – Making History, Moving Forward – on March 19 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.

These tireless champions courageously led the fight last year in the Senate and House to pass "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" repeal legislation. And in less than eight weeks, we will salute their leadership in an evening of celebration and reflection. We hope you can be there.

Time is quickly running out to RSVP. Seating is limited and tickets will sell out very soon. Any day now invitations will hit your mailboxes, but you can beat the last-minute rush and register online.

RSVP today. www.sldn.org/dinner

Heroes of the repeal movement – veterans, legislative leaders and advocates, as well as supporters from coast to coast – will join as one to celebrate and recommit to achieving full equality for LGBT service members at this year’s National Dinner.

We hope you can experience this special time of inspiration with the SLDN family. Purchase your ticket now to ensure you have a seat at the table.

RSVP today. www.sldn.org/dinner

Your resilience through the years helped us pass the historic repeal bill in 2010, and your dedication will continue to change lives for LGBT patriots as we resolve to tackle new challenges this year.

We look forward to seeing you March 19.

Hospital Visitation Regulations Go Into Effect Today

From the White House blog
Posted by Brian Bond, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, on January 18, 2011 at 05:41 PM EST

"There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital.  In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean – a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them."

With those words on April 15, 2010 President Obama directed HHS Secretary Sebelius to initiate rulemaking to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors.  The President further advised that the rule should ensure that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges based on factors including sexual orientation or gender identity.
Today the new Hospital Visitation Regulations go into effect.

This policy impacts millions of LGBT Americans and their families.  The President saw an injustice and felt very strongly about correcting this and has spoken about it often over the years.  I want to thank HHS Secretary Sebelius and her team for their resolve to see this rule implemented.  In fact, long before this rule was finalized, back in June, 2010 the Secretary laid the groundwork by reaching out to leaders of major hospital associations asking them to encourage their member hospitals to not wait for the formal rulemaking to run its course regarding patient-centered visitation rights suggested by the President.

This significant policy change is due in no small part to the journeys of two incredibly courageous and passionate women, Janice Langbehn and Charlene Strong.  Both lived through unimaginable experiences with the loss of their wives and life partners.   While I never had the opportunity to meet Janice’s wife Lisa Pond, or Charlene’s wife Kate Fleming, I have had the honor to meet and work with Janice and Charlene.  I want to thank them for bringing us all into their lives and for sharing themselves and their families with us, and for using their voices to make lives better for LGBT families.

Soulforce @ Creating Change

Join our special Soulforce @ Creating Change mailing list to receive exclusive information about our time at the Creating Change conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We will use this information to send workshop announcements and reminders, plan meetups, organize other events, and distribute information and reflections. If you are a Soulforce supporter and will attend Creating Change, this mailing list will keep you connected!

PBS: Martin Luther King and Robert Graetz

PBS Religion & Ethics recently interviewed Rev. Robert Graetz. Rev Graetz and his family have stood with Soulforce in the past and we invite you to learn more about this remarkable man.

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: Although the social revolution led by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. grew out of the black church, from even the earliest days of the movement there were white foot soldiers, too. King initially came to national prominence while leading the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, where he was serving in his first job as a local pastor, and working closely with him there was a young white pastor named Robert Graetz.

REV. ROBERT GRAETZ: We were here because God brought us here, and in a very real sense this changed the character of the movement here, because it was not totally black then from that point on.

LAWTON: Graetz is now 82 years old and still active in the Montgomery community.

GRAETZ: Fifty years ago we were a praying people…

LAWTON: On this day, he’s participating in the unveiling of a new sign marking a site that was important during the bus boycott. He and his wife, Jean, still work for civil rights, reconciliation, and a vision that began more than 50 years ago, a vision they shared with King called "the beloved community."

GRAETZ: We are all different, but we are still all together in this one relationship, and the key to that kind of a relationship was respect, which means I look at you and I say, you know, "I know that you have value. God put value in you." You look at me and you say the same thing.

Continue reading & watch video

Ex-Gay Survivor Caucus at Creating Change

My name is Philip Lowe, Jr.  I am an ex-gay survivor of the Catholic church’s ex-gay group Courage.  I am involved with Beyond Ex-Gay as well.

I want to inform you and ask you to help spread the word about the Ex-Gay Survivor’s Caucus meeting that will be held at Creating Change 2011 in Minneapolis, Feb 2-6th.   The Caucus meeting will be on Friday, February 4th at 6:30pm in Board Room 2.

At this meeting we are going to talk about how we use our Ex-Gay Survivor experiences to help create change toward LGBT equality in all aspects.  Our stories are very powerful and moving.  At the Caucus meeting we will be talking about how to use our stories and experiences to build movements towards change.

Philip Lowe, Jr.

Memorial Service for Paul Egertson at California Lutheran University

Paul Egertson smiling holding a rainbow umbrella and wearing a rainbow print stole around his neckA memorial service will be held for Paul W. Egertson in the Samuelson Chapel of California Lutheran University (CLU), 1-4 pm, Saturday, January 15, 2011.  The announcement from the Egertson family and the CLU community invites people to gather "for a time of laughter and tears, remembering the life a man of grace and faith. The service will be led by Pastors Scott and Melissa Maxwell Doherty, with Pastor Howie Wennes as preacher."