Jaheem Herrera, the 11-year-old Atlanta boy who took his own life after months of relentless harassment and anti-gay bullying, was laid to rest in the Virgin Islands. The Atlanta Journal-Constitutionreports from St. Croix:
More than 200 mourners crowded into the tiny funeral chapel, decorated
with blue and white balloons, which sat upon a hill overlooking the
Kingshill Cemetery here to bid farewell today to 11-year-old Jaheem
Masika Bermudez, Jaheem’s mother, greeted well-wishers with a sad smile
and a hug before breaking down in loud, gasping sobs as the body of her
eldest child and only son was wheeled past her in a gleaming white
coffin with gold trim.
An aunt, Ama Bermudez,
recalled the time he spent living on the island with his grandparents
and how their recent deaths affected him. His aunt urged mourners and the children in attendance to not let Jaheem’s death be in vain. "I call upon all the parents and children out there; don’t allow
anyone to bully you in any which way or form," she said. "There must be
a person you can trust to tell. You must put a stop to this immediately
so that the reason we are here today won’t happen again. We are all
hurting, but in spite of the circumstances, Jaheem is now resting. He’s
not suffering anymore."
The DeKalb County District Attorney is considering filing criminal charges on behalf of Jaheem Herrera. The criminal investigation into the DeKalb County School District gains momentum as other parents say their sons were repeatedly bullied, harassed, "called gay" and beaten at the same school.
A battle over control of the party's purse strings has erupted at the troubled Republican National Committee, with defenders of Chairman Michael S. Steele accusing dissident RNC members of trying to "embarrass and neuter" the party's new leader.
Randy Pullen, the RNC's elected treasurer, former RNC General Counsel David Norcross and three other former top RNC officers have presented Mr. Steele with a resolution, calling for a new set of checks and balances on the chairman's power to dole out money.
A party chairman without authority to write checks? Steele would be the party's "token" chairman in more ways than one.
Dakar's L'Observeur quotes a local youth leader: "The homosexuals will not escape lynching. They will be fish food."
Press Agence Emmegi reports: "The men told Amnesty International delegates who met them at the Camp Penal prison in Dakar in April that following their arrest, 'A crowd of bystanders was waiting for us, they asked the police to remit us to the crowd as they threw stones at us and screamed: "These are fags, they should not be put in jail, they should be lynched, let them out, we'll kill them ourselves".' "
The report adds: "Media and an Islamic organization have disseminated homophobic
statements describing the nine men as 'vicious' or 'perverts' spreading
AIDS. Radio programs have broadcast messages calling on the population
to attack and throw stones at anyone suspected of 'being a homosexual.' "
Finally. DeKalb County, Georgia school administrators begin their internal review on the months of relentless harassment and anti-gay bullying that drove 11-year-old Jaheem Herrera to suicide, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Superintendent Crawford Lewis [is] meeting with the boy’s principal "to make sure something like this never happens again."
Jaheem’s mother, Masika Bermudez, said she had complained to school
officials about the bullying and taunts Jaheem endured. On one
occasion, Jaheem was choked in the bathroom. "If she came one time, that should have been sufficient," Lewis said.
Administrators are now piecing together a timeline that documents
how often Bermudez met with school officials, and what they did to
follow up. The system’s review, Lewis said, will coincide with talks that
DeKalb District Attorney Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming will hold with parents
and educators involved in the case. The system will cooperate fully,
Meanwhile, progressive and LGBT inclusive members of Atlanta's faith community speak out against the bullying and anti-gay epithets that drove little Jaheem to take his own life. Rev. Dennis Meredith, the pastor of the well-known LGBT inclusive Tabernacle Baptist Church: "This is not just a problem
that was perpetrated from the bullies that harassed and taunted the
young man, but this is a cultural problem. It represents how people
feel in our culture towards people who are different."
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown pens a beautiful profile of two black lesbian couples from Chicago's South Side who recently moved to Iowa. The four women were "among the first" gay and lesbian couples who married in Iowa yesterday. Kentaindra Scarver (left) and Veronica Spann are seen above.
Scarver and Spann moved their family here from Englewood last October in hopes of finding a safer place to raise their children, not with any expectation of greater acceptance for their lesbian lifestyle. It was the same for their good friends Rosalyn Henry and Laketta Davenport, who made the move from Chicago to this old Mississippi River town a few years earlier.
On Monday, though, the four women were among the first couples to take advantage of the opportunity to legally marry in Iowa, taking their vows to be "spouse for life" in front of Dubuque County Magistrate John Nemmers. The four ceremonies were performed back-to-back in front of a small crowd that included me.
Based on that experience, I can tell you that same-sex weddings in a courthouse look a lot like any civil marriage ceremony, not particularly romantic but no less meaningful to those involved. There were friends and family in attendance, women who got teary-eyed, a baby that cried and a fidgety little boy just wanting to go home. Pictures were taken. "Boo-yah," shouted the little boy when his aunties completed their vows. Even the magistrate smiled a little.
Scarver is the co-treasurer of Windy City Black Pride and says she Spann are returning home to Chicago to celebrate: "We've proved there is hope."
Brown writes another judge "rejected the request" of another lesbian couple to waive the three-day waiting period "routinely granted for heterosexual couples", which he later witnessed. Marriage equality might be the law of the land in Iowa. That doesn't mean everyone welcomes equality.
Ciara channels with her inner dominatrix—with a little help from Janet Jackson and The Matrix—at her weekend performance at London's G-A-Y. The club was packed with "several thousand fans" who got into the new look.
If you had the good fortune to see The Little Mermaid or The Color Purple, you could not help but notice James Brown III. Here is your chance to see much more. Brown strips down and shows off his bod for the Third Annual Mr. Broadway 2009 Beauty Pageant. The pageant benefits the Ali Forney Center, which provides housing and much-needed services for homeless LGBT youth.
"'I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary,' said Specter in a statement. 'Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the
Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than
200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to
become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with
Democrats than Republicans.'"
"The move will give Democrats a filibuster-proof 60 vote majority in
the Senate, presuming Minnesota's Al Franken is eventually seated.
However, in his statement Specter said his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act—widely seen as a defense against a Republican primary challenge—will not change."
Specter supported the labor bill but (unfortunately) switched to be competitive in the Republican primary. Rasmussen has former Rep. Pat Toomey beating the Senator by 21 points in the GOP primary. As far as the 60-vote number, eh. There is always a Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln or Evan Bayh ready, willing and able to vote with the Republicans.
Specter is decent on LGBT issues. The Pennsylvania senator has a 70 percent rating (PDF) from the Human Rights Campaign for the 110th Congress. Specter was one of the original Senate co-sponsors of ENDA and co-sponsors the hate crimes bill. In contrast, Bob Casey, the Democratic junior Senator from Pennsylvania, has a 100 percent rating.
Think Progress reports Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) said that he,
Sen. Bob Casey, and Vice President Biden had been lobbying
Specter to switch.