Will the USPS Issue a Harvey Milk Commemorative Stamp?

I received the following press release on July 22nd, while I was out of the office:

Stamp proposals reviewed by Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee at July 21-22 meeting in Washington, D.C.

Will USPS Issue Stamp Honoring Harvey Milk? National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Delivers Change.org Petition to Committee with 10,000 Signatures Supporting Historic Move

Stamp proposals reviewed by Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee at July 21-22 meeting in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has delivered more than 10,000 signatures from a Change.org petition supporting a Harvey Milk Stamp to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, which is holding its quarterly meeting this week in Washington, D.C.

“Harvey Milk was a lion of social justice. To see his likeness on a U.S. stamp would do this country proud,” said Russell Roybal, deputy executive director of external relations at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “Harvey Milk’s courage, commitment and perseverance continue to inspire and inform people all around the world who fight every day for equality and our common humanity.”

He adds, “Thousands have made their voices heard by signing this petition. We ask the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee and United States Postal Service to listen and do the right thing by choosing a true trailblazer, Harvey Milk. The Task Force is proud to partner with the Harvey Milk Foundation and International Court Council in this important and historic endeavor.”

The Task Force launched its Change.org petition leading up to Harvey Milk’s 80th birthday in May, in coordination with the Harvey Milk Foundation and International Court Council.

“As one of the first openly gay men elected to public office in the United States, and as the first in California, Milk inspired a generation of activists and continues to be a lasting symbol in the fight for full equality,” the Task Force petition said. “As a 2009 recipient of the Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, Harvey Milk has already been nationally recognized as a pioneer in the fight for civil rights of gays and lesbians.”

Roy Betts, manager of community relations for the United States Postal Service, told Change.org, “I am pleased to respond that Harvey Milk is under consideration by the committee for possible future stamp issuance. The committee is responsible for reviewing stamp proposals and making subject and design recommendations to the Postmaster General.”

On behalf of the United States Postal Service’s Postmaster General, the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) is tasked with evaluating the merits of all stamp proposals. A public announcement about a potential Harvey Milk stamp will not be made until the fall of 2013 at the earliest.

“The committee decides on new stamp subject recommendations far in advance of the issue date in order to provide time for planning, design, production and distribution. Currently, the 2012 and 2013 stamp programs are completed, and stamp subjects for the 2014 program and subsequent years are being selected,” said Betts. “Although many of the subjects for upcoming new stamps have been identified, no public announcement of individual new stamps is made until the entire stamp program for that year has been approved. This occurs in the fall preceding the year of issuance.”

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Harvey Milk Stamp Petition on Change.org here.

Learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force here.

Learn more about Harvey Milk here.

Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.

Author’s Note:  I published a post on Harvey Milk last May.  Read it here.


Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski


Protestors FCKH8.com Targets Tennessee “Teachers Can’t Talk About Gays” Law

As you may recall from an earlier post, there is a law before the Tennessee legislature to prohibit teachers from teaching or discussing gay issues in schools.  I received the following press release from FCKH8, an organization opposing the ridiculous legislation:


FCKH8.com Targets Tennessee “Teachers Can’t Talk About Gays” Law, Gives Hundreds of Pro-Gay T-shirts to Nashville School Children, Launches New F-Word-Filled Viral Internet Video & Donates $25,000 to Fight Anti-Gay Bill

On Day of Before State Senate Vote, Gay Activist & T-Shirt Website FCKH8.com Distributes “Don’t B H8N on the Homos” T-shirts, Buttons, Bracelets & Stickers to School Children Just Blocks from the State Capital

Nashville, TN – May 10, 2011 – Angered at the progress that the proposed “Teachers Can’t Talk About Gays” law has made in the Tennessee state senate, gay activists with the website FCKH8.com passed out hundreds of pro-gay T-shirts, wristbands, pins and stickers in front of TV cameras to school children on Tuesday morning in the state capital to protest the law which would make it a crime for teachers to discuss homosexuality. The website distributed gear from its line of “Don’t B H8N on the Homos” products to crowds of cheering kids at Hume-Fogg high school which is just blocks from the senate building where the anti-gay law is scheduled to be voted on this Wednesday. The website is also donating $25,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project to fight the anti-gay agenda of the bill’s sponsor Senator Stacy Campfield (R-TN).

NBC News Coverage of T-shirt Give Away: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLh7sIjRyJA

FCKH8.com director Luke Montgomery stated, “This anti-gay law is really f**king absurd. It would make it a crime for teachers to counsel gay students who are bullied into suicide. It would criminalize teachers for teaching acceptance or stopping anti-gay bullies name-calling. You wouldn’t even be able to talk about the latest homo plot twist on Glee. They want to make it illegal to say gay? We’re gonna f**king say it anyway!”

The video can be seen here: http://FCKH8.com

BLEEPED Media Safe Broadcast Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzRhnXOvovA

The irreverent website also launched an F-word-filled viral Internet video campaign aimed at high-school aged students that features parents, drag queens, teachers and swearing kids as young as 6 years-old attacking the proposed bill’s impact on LGBT youth. The snarky and comedic video rant has already been seen by hundreds of thousands of people online and on Friday hours after its debut it became the #1 trending topic on Twitter in the United Staes. The video’s director Luke Montgomery points out, “While the F-word may be a four letter word, gay is not. There should be no problem with teachers or kids talking about homos in the classroom as many of those kids will turn out gay themselves god willing. The funny video captures people’s anger at this hateful law. We’re using a bad word for a good cause. We’re here to recruit kids to promote the acceptance of homosexuality and if homo hating douches don’t like it they can f**k off.”

The website’s previous videos on gay marriage and gay bullying have been seen by over 6 million people. T-shirt sales from the website have raised over $250,000 for gay rights causes with sales to over 75 countries around the planet.

Note: The Tennessee Equality Project does not endorse the tactics or approach of FCKH8.com and had nothing to do with the creation of its F-word-filled Internet video.

For more information, contact Luke Montgomery Luke@FCKH8.com or visit FCKH8.com http://fckh8.com


Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

History of the Gay Rights Movement in the United States

StonewallI am often asked about the history of the gay rights movement in the United States. To better answer that question, I’ve searched the web for some articles on the topic. I present them here for your review.

• This article gives a brief history of the movement from 1779 to 2004 (when MA legalized same-sex marriage]: The American Gay Rights Movement: A Short History by Tom Head

• This is a timeline through June, 2009: The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline

[Sources: About.com and infoplease.com]


Disclaimer:  The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice.   I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

Gay Activist Killed in Uganda

It’s a sad day when a person is murdered for no other reason than being gay.  It’s happened many times in the United States, which continues to shock my sensibilities because this is supposed to be a civilized and enlightened country.

Yesterday, it happened on another continent.  David Kato, who was an activist with Sexual Minorities Uganda, was beaten to death outside his home.  News sources report that he was repeatedly struck with what may have been a hammer.

In Uganda, lesbians and gays literally take their lives in their own hands if they dare to admit their sexuality.  They will face harassment and violence.  Gay activists like Kato have been trying to stop the hatred and violence.  For Kato, the sacrifice was his own life.

Last year, Rolling Stone (not related to the U.S. magazine) published a list of persons believed to be gay.  Kato and two other activists petitioned the court to ban the publication from continuing the discriminatory – and dangerous policy – and they won.  However, the damage had already been done and violence against gays escalated.

As if this were not sad enough already, it appears that the upswing in violence and hatred toward gays was infused by three anti-gay evangelists from the United States who visited Uganda in 2009 with the sole purpose of pushing for a law that would make homosexuality illegal.  They believe that homosexuality can be “cured” and spewed forth enough lies about lesbians and gays to turn the climate into one of fear.  This is obviously not a new concept for anti-gay zealots but it’s time those same zealots took responsibility for how their anti-gay rhetoric takes innocent lives.

Please take the time to read the following articles and pass them along to others.  Together, we can spread awareness that hate kills.

Ugandan Gay Rights Activist Slain After Being Named on ‘Hit List’ [AOL News]

Americans’ Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push [NY Times]


UPDATE 1/28/11:

David Kato, Slain Ugandan Gay Activist, Funeral Marred By Commotion


Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

What “The Wizard of Oz” Can Teach the Gay and Lesbian Community

I attended a fabulous performance of The Wizard of Ozlast night and afterward, I got to thinking about the lessons, parallels and symbolism in that play and how they might apply to the gay and lesbian community.  You all think I’ve gone crazy?  Nope, I assure you I’m serious.

Think about it.  We’ve got Dorothy, a strong female character who isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind and isn’t afraid to go the mile to make change happen for herself and her friends.  She suddenly finds herself in a foreign environment where she must face difficult challenges and stand up for what she needs  — and that girl does not back down.  She’s an activist of sorts, fighting for the simple basic needs that we all have:   a brain, a heart, courage and a home.  Not necessarily in that order, of course, but follow me on this.  Dorothy is representative of the women and men who have championed the gay rights movement.  Dorothy is every person who has given their time, energy and money to fight for the repeal of DADT and DOMA.  It’s a long, hard process but it has to start somewhere.  As Glinda advises, “it’s always best to start at the beginning – and all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road.”  Just as activists for gay and lesbian causes have fought hard and won, Dorothy followed that yellow brick road a long way in order to get the result she wanted.  It wasn’t easy and that nasty wicked witch threw her a lot of obstacles in her path.  But in the end, she won the battle.  She also got that nifty broomstick.

We’ve got two wicked witches and a good witch.  The wicked witches terrorize people for sport.  (One is eradicated early on when the twister drops Dorothy’s house on her.  Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead).  The good witch educates and protects them.  Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy that not all witches are ugly … just the ones who are bad.  Metaphorically, I see that parallel in a lot of gay and lesbian situations.  There are some downright ugly people out there who commit horrific acts against gay and lesbian people simple because they (the perpetrators) are bad people.  They launch verbal attacks and violent physical assaults on decent human beings for the simple fact that they happen not to be heterosexual.  The heinous murder of Matthew Shepard comes to mind.  Dorothy should throw a bucket of water on those horrible people.  Perhaps they’ll melt.

Then we have groups such as GLAD and PFLAG and GLSEN and True Colors … those are the good witches who educate the general public and protect gay and lesbian citizens.  They are the groups that make it snow on the field of poppies so that the bad witches don’t get the upper hand.   They are the organizations who stand up to the bad witches and warn them, “be gone before somebody drops a house on you!”  You really do have to work with me on the metaphors and symbolism … just close your eyes and click your heels three times.

The scarecrow starts off not having a clue which way to go.  Once he gets his bearings, he stays on top of his game right to the end.   Grassroots organizations like Love Makes A Family were successful for that same reason.  Nobody had a clue how to make gay marriage a reality.  LMF figured out the strategy and made it happen in Connecticut.  There are other organizations like LMF all across the country.  They’ve figured it out, too, and they won’t stop trying until all 50 states recognize and allow gay marriage.

The tin man is a cool guy.  He just wants to love and he’ll fight flying monkeys and wicked witches for the privilege.  He’s the Plaintiff  in every lawsuit that has been brought to court in order to make same-sex marriage a reality. He’s every gay man or lesbian woman who has testified before a legislative hearing. He’s every gay or lesbian person who has made phone calls, carried signs, stuffed envelopes and fought for the right to marry the person they love. He has a lot of heart. As the Wizard explains when he gives him the ticking heart “testimonial” after he and the others return from their battle with the wicked witch, “a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” The parallel here is acceptance and support of gay and lesbian relationships by the straight contingent. (Repealing DOMA would be helpful).

You’ve got to love the cowardly lion. He’s afraid until he learns that he’s not alone in his fight for courage. With the support of complete strangers, he is able to obtain what has eluded him for a lifetime:

“How? Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on a mast to wave? Courage! What makes an elephant charge his tusk, in the misty mist or the dusky dusk? What makes a muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the Seventh Wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?”

Um, courage! In the fight for gay and lesbian rights, courage is the hallmark of the movement. If not for the courage of a few individuals, organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign and Get Equal would not exist. It has taken a lot of courage for every person who has fought the long battle for equality. To every one of those people, “for meritorious conduct, extraordinary valor, conspicuous bravery against Wicked Witches, I award you the Triple Cross. You are now a member of the Legion of Courage!” Thank you for fighting.

Yes, “The Wizard of Oz” can teach us all a lesson. Speak up, fight, don’t give in and don’t let the wicked witches get those ruby slippers.

In the end, I hope that every gay and lesbian person will enjoy true equality in his or her lifetime.

Toto, too? Toto, too.




Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, as we honor the memory of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. , I am reminded of the struggles for equality in the LGBT community and the lessons we can apply from King’s legacy.

King believed in creating change by organizing peaceful, nonviolent protests and delivering powerful speeches that would inspire those fighting for equality — and educate those who needed to understand why our Constitution did not just grant civil rights to a select group of people.

In the GLBT community, the struggle for civil rights continues. Organizations across the country continue to speak out to educate the public and eradicate intolerance and hate. When appropriate and timely, legal groups such as GLADLambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights challenge discriminatory laws in the courts. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., these organizations seek change through peaceful, nonviolent means.

Time Magazine named King Man of the Year in 1963.  In 1964, King was the youngest person, at age 35, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

He is perhaps most remembered for the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., where he delivered his famous address, “I Have A Dream,” to a crowd of 250,000 people.

Read the full text of his speech here.

As we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., today, we should not lose sight of his contributions to the civil rights movement — nor to our own convictions that equality for all GLBT citizens is possible through peaceful demonstrations, intelligent dialogues and the continued education of the general public.




Disclaimer:  The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice.   I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

GLAD Competes for $25K Grant from Pepsi Refresh

I received the following e-mail from GLAD (Gay Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) today and thought it was important to pass on …  GLAD has been instrumental in groundbreaking legal work that has gained the LGBT community many rights.   Please do your part to help them continue to help you.

Dear Irene,

As we begin a new year, I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks for your support in 2010, and to ask for your help in a new project.

Help us raise $25,000 – not by giving us money, but by giving us a little of your time.

On January 1st, we received the great news that GLAD had been selected to compete for a $25,000 grant as part of the Pepsi Refresh Challenge, an initiative supporting innovative ideas to improve society. If we win, we’ll use those funds to help LGBT youth, letting them know their rights and how to enforce them to ensure a safe learning environment in school.

You can help us win that grant by signing up to be a daily voter for GLAD and the “Progressive Slate” we have joined to increase our chances of winning.

Ordinarily we steer clear of contests like this, but Pepsi is giving away a significant amount of money and, more importantly, we have a strategy that gives us a great shot at winning. We’re pooling our resources and our voting blocs with a group of 9 other organizations – including GLSEN, Netroots Nation, PROMO and Equality Pennsylvania. Working together, we all stand a much greater chance of being successful than if we competed alone. In fact, this strategy has helped win over $1,000,000 for 25 previous participants in the “progressive slate” coalition.

As a daily voter, you will receive a short email each morning during the month of January with a link where you can cast 10 votes each day for all the organizations on the Progressive Slate. The contest runs through January and we’ll know by the end of the month whether or not we’ve won. It’s that easy.

Your support already helps us win legal and legislative challenges. Two minutes of your time each morning this month can help us win the Pepsi Challenge, too. Please sign up today, and please remember to vote!

Lee’s Signature
Lee Swislow
Executive Director

Note: in order to start casting votes, you’ll need to create a profile on the Pepsi Refresh Everything website or login using Facebook. Progressive Slate organizers will only use your email for communication related directly to the progressive slate.

Sign up to be a
daily voter for the
Progressive Slate

and help us empower LGBT youth, like
former GLAD InfoLine
Caller Jason Haas


GLAD on Facebook

GLAD on Twitter

GLAD on YouTube

Tell a Friend!



Disclaimer:  The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice.   I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski