Your News-y Roundup–News Briefs, August 6

That cake is begging for some straight lines. Photo courtesy Facebook.
By Kim Hoffman, PQ Monthly

Our not-so-favorite sweets shop, the now-infamous Sweet Cakes by Melissa, is back in the news. No, they didn’t deny another lesbian couple a wedding cake for their big day — this time around they posted a photo to their Facebook page of a cake they recently made for the Restored Hope Network (who we reported on in last week’s news), a conservative Oregon group whose aim is to “reverse” or “convert” gays into straight people, because it’s 1960 and they probably also feel OK about lobotomies. Under the bakery’s photo post was the caption: “What a wonderful ministry” and a slew of comments followed. My favorite: “Can’t even pipe straight,” referring to the clumsy icing piping along the sides of the cake, and a little double entendre if you ask me.

The Public Employees Benefits Board unanimously voted to support all-inclusive transgender health care on July 31 for employees in Washington state. This is a huge deal for our neighboring state because it means inclusive health care is open wide in the case of life-saving health care for transgender individuals. The Office of the Insurance Commissioner recently made waves when they announced that insurance companies cannot discriminate against transgender individuals. For many, this isn’t a simple news item of the day — it means the difference between life and death; it’s the future of health care.

As of July 15, Basic Rights Oregon is now a union employer. They now recognize Oregon AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees). Both share one major thing in common: They both advocate for equality among LGBTQ people. From their joint press release: “Basic Rights Oregon has critical work ahead, ensuring that all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Oregonians experience freedom and equality under the law, as well as in their day-to-day lives. That’s why we’re committed to negotiating a first contract that is both good for the workers and ensures the long-term stability of the organization,” said Jeana Frazzini, Executive Director of BRO and Ken Allen, Executive Director of Oregon AFSCME Council 75.

In a recent letter, former leaders of “ex-gay ministries” wrote: “As former ex-gay leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy. It is our firm belief that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBT individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives. We fully support the aim of #BornPerfect to bring an end to conversion therapy.” The #BornPerfect campaign is run by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Some of these former leaders include Brad Allen, who signed the letter, a former church network coordinator for Exodus International, plus eight other individuals from other ministries such as Coming Back and Love in Action.

#BornPerfect aims to protect LGBTQ children who face the dangers of conversion therapy by working alongside state legislators to create awareness and empowerment. NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell told the Seattle Lesbian, “These practices have been thoroughly discredited by every major mental health organization, and yet, every day, young lives are wrecked. We intend to stop the practices once and for all.” Find out how to get involved and bring protective laws to our state at: nclrights.org/bornperfect.

Emily Goodnow, Associate Pastor of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Salem, says that the church has at least six same-sex weddings coming up in the next few months. She tells the Statesman Journal they’ve been “opening and affirming for 20 years.” While the nation continues to see one state after the next overturn their bans against same-sex marriage, churches are seeing similar movements. In June, the Presbyterian Church voted to allow pastors to conduct same-same marriages on a national level, if their state has legalized same-sex marriage. It’s just one of those instances were that whole, boisterious “Amen!” really comes in handy.

You may recall the Portland lesbian couple that was left stranded on the side of the highway by that taxi cab last summer. The Broadway Cab employee, Ahmed Egal was said to have held the women, Kate Neal and Shanako Devoll under false arrest and told them they could not “be gay” in his cab. (If you guys have seen that Swedish lesbian film, “Show Me Love” then you know exactly how situations like this go down.) To make matters worse, it was discovered that Broadway Cab allowed Egal to keep working for their company after previously forcing other passengers to exit his cab. Neal and Devoll are suing Broadway Cab for $38,000 in damages.

Portland State University continues to make waves in the LGBTQ community as a leader among schools — the school hosts such festivities as Lavender Graduation, a ceremony that recognizes the accomplishments of the queer community on campus. And after perusing their most recent campus map, you may notice there are more gender-neutral bathrooms than there are male/female specific ones. This year marks three years PSU has been included as part of the Campus Pride Campus Climate Index as one of the top 25 LGBT-friendly colleges in America. Now, don’t we all wish we could do college over again at PSU?