The LGBTQ+ community is under attack; Howard County has PFLAG

Until Trump, the LGBTQ+ community was making real strides in public acceptance and legal support for their rights. Two thirds of Americans endorse same-sex marriages, according to the latest Gallup poll. But the Trump administration has been dismissive of marriage equality and is attempting to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

I’ve had many gay and transgender friends and family throughout my life. I’ve seen up close the inevitable struggle that folks who are gay or transgender endure to find acceptance in a world full of bigotry.

It’s a time of immense peril for the LGBTQ+ community, but also one of enormous possibility. All of us “coming out” with public support for this minority would go a long ways to bringing our country, our families together. This post is all about the threats to the LGBTQ+ community, and their cause for celebration.

For my part, I was just elected Treasurer of PFLAG Columbia-Howard County, “the extended family of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Harry Schwarz

Obama Gave Us Gay Marriage, Trump The Honeymoon From Hell [EXCERPTS]

by Tim Teeman (Daily Beast), October 4, 2018

But ever since President Donald Trump’s election, the victory and meaning of marriage equality—so hard fought, and a brilliant achievement­­­­­­­­—has become imperiled.

Those opposed to LGBT equality have a new drum to march behind: religious liberty.  The new guard at the White House, with Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions [now Whittaker?] at their ideological forefront, have chosen an insidious scythe to chop away at not just marriage equality but also other equality and anti-discrimination measures and protections.

(by Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

‘Religious liberty,’ as evidenced in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, posits that it is fine to not marry gay people, or serve them in shops, or afford them equality of treatment when it comes to adoption and fostering if you, as a religious person, disapprove of them.

The attacks on LGBT people, using “religious liberty,” has coincided with a period of particular trans-focused prejudice. President Trump has announced his determination to ban trans people from serving in the military. States like Texas have tried to pass ‘bathroom bans’ (and in Texas’ case will possibly try once more after failing the first time), which seek to regulate where trans people can and cannot use toilets in public.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/obama-gave-us-gay-marriage-trump-the-honeymoon-from-hell

LGBTQ Victory Fund

Washington, DC – The Rainbow Wave of openly LGBTQ candidates who won elections nationwide included an impressive number of historic firsts and groundbreaking victories at the state legislative level [winners in Maryland are below]. As of November 7th, at 1:00pm ET, 84 openly LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed candidates won seats across 36 states.

“The rainbow wave touched down in state capitals throughout the country on Election Day – with an astounding number of out LGBTQ candidates shattering long-standing political barriers and becoming historic firsts,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “We elected state legislative candidates in three states that had never elected openly LGBTQ state legislators before, tripled the number of out trans state legislators, and elected LGBTQ women and people of color in key states.”

“While our attention is often focused on Donald Trump and Congress, it is in our state legislatures where the most horrific attacks on LGBTQ equality are occurring. But personal relationships matter in these legislative chambers and we know out LGBTQ officials significantly influence the votes of their colleagues on equality issues. Voters chose to send out candidates to their state legislatures – and these leaders will be game changers.”

https://victoryfund.org/

‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration

PFLAG Columbia-Howard County,
The extended family of the LGBTQ+ community

The mission of PFLAG Columbia-Howard County is to support parents and caregivers of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer children. We welcome all people – gay, straight, bisexual, transgender and queer – as well as their families and friends. Together, we support each other, educate the broader community and advocate for equality.

PFLAG families, friends and allies work together with those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer+ to provide opportunities for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity. PFLAG acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.

PFLAG Columbia-Howard County at the Riverdale Independence Day Parade, 2012 (from PFLAG facebook page)

PFLAG is a national nonprofit organization with thousands of members and supporters and more than 400 chapters across the United States. This vast grassroots network is cultivated, resourced and serviced by the PFLAG National Office, located in Washington, D.C., the national Board of Directors and 13 Regional Directors.

https://www.pflaghoco.org/

Howard’s LGBTQ groups planning first Pride parade, community outreach [EXCERPT]

by Kate Magill (Howard County Times ) June 20, 2018

Advocates, led by the county’s chapter of the LGBT group PFLAG, short for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, hope to see [their] work culminate on the Columbia lakefront next June in the county’s first pride festival.

PFLAG Columbia-Howard County at Baltimore Pride Day (photo by Steve Charing, Steve Charing OUTspoken)

Set to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, often viewed as a catalyst in the movement for LGBT rights, the festival is scheduled for June 28 [2019] with the theme “Remember, Resist and Rejoice.”

“Howard County [is] such a population center for the state but we don’t have an event to highlight the diversity we supposedly treasure here,” said Jumel Howard, vice president of Howard County’s PFLAG chapter who is leading plans for the festival. “This is a great way to not just show how much we care for the LGBT community [but] to educate the community on some of the issues that affect the LGBT community.”

Queens and Cocktails, PFLAG Columbia-Howard County annual fundraising event. The Queens, with PFLAG Steering Committee members June Howard and Sue Garner (from the PFLAG website)

Howard County’s pride fest joins a growing number of festivals in the area. Washington, D.C., Baltimore City, Montgomery County and Frederick County all have or will hold pride events during the year.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/ph-ho-cf-lgbt-hoco-pride-0531-story.html

And this Essay by a Local Blogger . . . .

Events: Transgender Day of Remembrance Service at UUCC [EXCERPT]
by Colleen Morgenthau (RoCo in HoCo), November 22, 2018

Bruce was gay, of course, but there’s overlap in the experiences of gayness and trans-ness. I absolutely consider him to be someone who was murdered for being who he was. I watched him plunge into a depression so deep that he took his own life, and the reason he did so is because he thought his loved ones would reject him if they knew he was gay. He murdered himself, pretty much to prevent the pain of having his soul murdered by a cruel society.

In the absolute greatest irony of his whole situation, I’m sure that eventually his parents would have embraced him totally for who he was. They, like my parents and Robert’s parents, were members of the Conservative Jewish tradition, but their politics were very liberal. They had gay friends, and were vocal about being pro-gay rights. But Bruce knew, in his eminently wise way, that when it comes to their own child even the most open-minded thinkers might struggle with the idea that their son was different. He couldn’t risk it, I suppose.

https://rocoinhoco.com/events-transgender-day-of-remembrance-service-at-uucc/

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The partners operating Haven on the Lake are fighting in court

The Columbia Association (CA) and Still Point Spas partnered to establish Haven on the Lake, a wellness spa in downtown Columbia, in 2014. Now they are battling each other in court and it doesn’t seem a fair fight. Still Point is accusing CA of “pursuing unrelenting legal actions; CA’s strategy seems to be to ‘bully’ the Still Point into leaving, dragging out the legal process so the costs become too great for a small women-owned business to continue.”

The founders of Still Point, Tori Paide and Marla Peoples, are acupuncturists I know from when I worked at Tai Sophia Institute (now MUIH). They are heart-centered people with the utmost integrity. They are also award-winning entrepreneurs and CA wisely partnered with them for their expertise in creating a healing environment and profitable business model.

Tori Paide, left, and Marla Peoples, founders of The Still Point spa at Haven on the Lake in Columbia, one of two locations

Tori and Marla shared their legal struggle with me, and while it’s their side of the story only, many of the elements are indisputable and the overall documentation seems to me compelling. I am sharing their story so that perhaps the court of public opinion might provide some support in their battle against Goliath. Continue reading The partners operating Haven on the Lake are fighting in court

John Swinglish, a member of the Camden 28, has died

John Swinglish was a great man. I met him in 1973 when we were both involved with the Catholic Peace Fellowship near Catholic University in DC. During this time, he put his life on the line to oppose the Vietnam War. 

I lost track of him about 10 years ago until I learned he died suddenly in early April. His friends will miss him for the quality of his friendship, his easy rapport, and unmistakable laugh. The world is a better place for his witness. It is a story that must not be forgotten.

Obituary

[Posted 5/12/17; Updated 8/26/17, 9/19/17]

John Swinglish was found dead at his home in Odenton, MD from “hypertensive cardiovascular disease” on April 12, 2017.  He was 73.  John was born March 25, 1944. He was adopted by Aloysius and Jean Swinglish and grew up in Lakewood, OH near Cleveland where he attended St. Edward High School. In the early 1960s he enlisted in the Navy and served with Attack Squadron VA-42 at the Naval Air Station in Oceana, Virginia Beach, VA.

Following his military service, John came to Washington DC to work for a defense contractor doing research on nuclear guided-missile destroyers. But he became more and more disillusioned with the country’s war effort and became active with the Catholic Peace Fellowship at DC’s Emmaus House around 1968, attempting to influence the Catholic Church to re-establish its priorities.

In 1971, John was indicted, along with 27 other antiwar activists, for conspiracy to break into a Selective Service office in Camden, NJ and destruction of government property.  The group came to be known as the Camden 28. Following a landmark trial that lasted 63 days, the 28 were found not guilty on all charges. The acquittals represented the first legal victory for the antiwar movement in five years of such draft board actions and prosecutions. The jury’s verdict moved Supreme Court Justice William Brennan to call the proceeding “one of the great trials of the 20th century.”

Following the trial, John returned to DC and transformed Emmaus House into a neighborhood social service center which he directed until 1982. On September 11, 1976, John married Mimi Darragh of McDonald, Pennsylvania. They divorced about seven years later and there were no children.

John later worked for the American Red Cross, providing emergency and disaster services, and founded his own photography business specializing in weddings and family events. He said, “I’ve finally figured out a way to get people to pay me to go to wild parties every week. It’s really not a bad life.” John was a featured narrator in the film, The Camden 28, which was released in 2007. He promoted the film widely and was proud of his contribution. He also contributed to the documentary Hit and Stay, released in 2014, about the efforts of the Catholic Left.

John was active in the Center of Light Church in Bowie and assisted with the youth groups there. He was a life-long reader and frequent writer and enjoyed road trips and Bowie Baysox games. After retiring, he devoted his life to befriending dogs of all kind as a dog sitter. John had a stroke in 2010 and was challenged by various ailments through the remaining years of his life.

John was predeceased by his parents and a sister, Jan Weiskittel of Columbia Station, Ohio. He is survived by Jan’s children Laura McDermott, Larry Weiskittel, Bob Weiskittel, Kati Emrick, and Joe Weiskittel, all of Ohio; Sharyn Carrasco of Texas; and Patti Leonard of Illinois.  John is also survived by his goddaughter, Carrie Noel-Nosbaum of Silver Spring, MD.  A memorial service was held on August 26, 2017 at the home of Ray and Ruth Noel-Nosbaum, Silver Spring, MD.

by Harry Schwarz, gleaned from a number of sources

The Shrine 6, arrested for nonviolent resistance

On Monday night, November 10, 1969 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception the U.S. bishops [attending a meeting in Washington DC of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops] were attending a Mass in honor of the military. Billed as a “Peace Mass,” it featured military men carrying guns and swords around the Shrine as if it were one of their armories.

Outside, members of the Center for Christian Renewal and the Catholic Peace Fellowship were distributing leaflets and displaying large photographs depicting Viet Nam war atrocities. The leaflets protested “the prelates of the church which claims to have been founded by Jesus Christ walking hand in hand with the ‘Masters of War’ through the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.” The Christian Peace Message being distributed further protested the contemporary U.S. bishops acting as “the voice of Christ today,” yet choosing to “lie low, safely refraining from any strong statement condemning the hate, killing, and total dehumanization of our war-programmed society.”

The peace messengers had been displaying the photographs and distributing the leaflets for about· a half an hour when they were told by a Shrine usher that he was authorized by the administrator of the Shrine to halt any demonstrating or leafleting on Shrine property. A police officer then read the D.C. Code stating that they were subject to arrest if they did not stop at the usher’s request. “Our argument was that we, as Catholics, have a right to speak out on moral issues on Catholic Church property,” stated John Swinglish; “however, at his request, we did cease distributing literature, and we removed the photographs.”

Approximately fifteen minutes later, Joseph Coleman and John Swinglish, of the Catholic Peace Fellowship were arrested while standing in front of the shrine talking to two other members. The Shrine usher and police officer approached them and told them to leave since they were in possession of the peace literature. They refused to leave, stating that they “are Catholics and have a right to be on church property.” The usher stated that he had the right to tell anyone whom he did not want on Shrine property to leave. The officer read the D.C. Code and asked Coleman and Swinglish if they were going to leave. When they refused, they were arrested.

from The Catholic Peace Fellowship Bulletin, June 1970

The Camden 28

From a pamphlet that the defendants published about themselves

“We are twenty-eight men and women who, together with other resisters across the country, are trying with our lives to say no to the madness we see perpetrated by our government in the name of the American people the madness of our Vietnam policy, of the arms race, of our neglected cities and inhuman prisons. We do not believe that it is criminal to destroy pieces of paper which are used to bind men to involuntary servitude, which train these men to kill, and which send them to possibility die in an unjust, immoral, and illegal war. We stand for life and freedom and the building of communities of true friendship. We will continue to speak out and act for peace and justice, knowing that our spirit of resistance cannot be jailed or broken.”

www.camden28.org (via wayback machine)

The Camden 28 (documentary film – 2007)

Written, directed, and produced by Anthony Giacchino

The Camden 28 recalls a 1971 raid on a Camden, N.J., draft board office by “Catholic Left” activists protesting the Vietnam War and its effects on urban America. Arrested on site in a clearly planned sting, The Camden 28 reveals the story behind the arrests — a provocative tale of government intrigue and personal betrayal — and the ensuing legal battle, which Supreme Court Justice William Brennan called “one of the great trials of the 20th century.” Thirty-five years later, the participants take stock of the motives, fears, and costs of their activism — and its relevance to America today.

http://www.pbs.org/pov/camden28/

Interview with The Camden 28 director Anthony Giacchino and defendant John Swinglish.

Movie Geeks United Podcast, April 22, 2007.  Podcast is 18 minutes long; The interview with John begins at 7:50.

Please add your own comments below if you knew John or are moved by his story.