Queer as Folks

By Lavender August 14, 2008
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Two Cities, One Love

On the heels of Twin Cities Pride was this year’s Black Pride, August 1-3, organized by Color CoordiNation, which states that it “connects, cultivates and sustains lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities of color.”

Black Pride at Minnehaha Falls Park. Photo by Sophia Hantzes

On Friday, a kickoff at Pi Bar & Restaurant was a festive night of food, drinks, and dancing. The activities moved to Minnehaha Falls Park on Saturday, where everyone involved enjoyed a barbecue, games, and even more entertainment including an open mic. Ending on a high note Sunday, the finale was a roller skating party at The Roller Garden that featured a mix of music from oldies to hip-hop and soul.

Color CoordiNation thanks its Pride Partners for a successful Black Pride that connected more than 3,000 people at the partnered events.
Laura Smidzik. Photo by Sophia Hantzes

Smidzik Is New Project 515 Executive Director

Laura Smidzik is the new Executive Director of Project 515, a nonprofit organization seeking to change the more than 515 laws that specifically deny same-sex couples the same rights and considerations as straight couples under Minnesota Law. She is the former Executive Director of Rainbow Families.

According to a Project 515 statement, “Smidzik brings advocacy, education experience to the organization’s efforts to highlight benefits and obligations denied to same-sex families.”

Project 515 board member Susan Cogger added, “Project 515 is very fortunate to have Laura serve as our Executive Director. Her nonprofit leadership experience and high standing in the community are wonderful assets for our growing organization.”

For more information, visit www.project515.org.
Lynx Go Pink at Target Center. Photo by Sophia Hantzes

Lynx Go Pink

Pink is the new green, as the Minnesota Lynx held the first Lynx Go Pink on July 31 in support of the Jean Stankoski Scholarship Fund and the Minnesota Lynx Foundation. Lynx players were on hand to greet fans, and help boost support for both beneficiaries. For as little as $25, everyone was able to enjoy carnival fare from corn dogs and cotton candy (pink of course!) to favorite carnival games staffed by Lynx players and coaches.

The Minnesota Lynx Foundation supports breast cancer research programs in Minnesota. The Jean Stankoski Scholarship Fund provides postsecondary education scholarships to Minnesota students directly impacted by breast cancer in their immediate family. The fund is in memory of Jean Stankoski, a Lynx and Timberwolves employee who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2006, and was an advocate for postsecondary education opportunities for all.

For more information, visit www.wnba.com/lynx/team.

One Response to Queer as Folks

  1. Recently, Project 515, OutFront and Rainbow Families issued a proclamation to discourage the legalization of gay marriage in Minnesota. This should surprise no one.

    For years OutFront has been in front of the gay marriage issue like a road block. Since the early 1990’s, those who seek real progress on gay marriage have been told, “it’s not the right time.” When pressed to identify the “right time,” OutFront cites the need for getting more Dem’s elected to government and more favorable justices appointed to Minnesota courts. Unfortunately while following OutFront’s do-nothing strategy, Republican governors have been appointing judges throughout the state, Michele Bachmann has been elected to Congress and most Democrats (bolstered by OutFront’s timidity) can’t flee fast enough from the gay marriage issue.

    Another argument is the fear that a gay marriage lawsuit could set bad legal precedence. As an example, OutFront notes that the U.S. Supreme Court took 17 years to reverse itself on the 1986 Hardwick sodomy case. The Minnesota Supreme court did rule against gay marriage in the Baker case, but that was nearly 40 years ago. Hence, OutFront continues to work against gay marriage based on a Minnesota ruling that has remained on the books over twice has long as it took the Hardwick case to get reversed. Of course, no one – not even OutFront – knows the outcome of any case a priori. Unfortunately, OutFront prefers to passively assume defeat and actively stymie the efforts of those who seek to pursue change.

    In a display of their own disarray, OutFront fails to abide by the words of their own staff attorney, Phil Duran. Regarding the pending Minnesota gay marriage lawsuit, Duran characterized some of the legal arguments as “fascinating.” Duran also said, “If it works, that’s terrific. But before we take a firm position on this thing, we’re going to have to take a look at the arguments they’re going to advance.” On the contrary, OutFront issued their proclamation of discouragement without even contacting the litigants nor their legal consultants.

    Although our community assumes gay “advocacy” groups have our best interests at heart, a healthy dose of cynicism may be in order. Consider Project 515 for example. Founded just a few months ago, the sole mission of this group is to correct 515 instances of discrimination which gay couples suffer as a result of not being allowed to get married. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. Dig a little deeper and one finds a profound conflict of interest. If a gay marriage lawsuit were successful in Minnesota, Project 515 Executive Director, Laura Smidzik, would be out of a job because the mission of Project 515 would cease to exist. Incidentally, Smidzik is the former Executive Director of Rainbow Families, the third gay “advocacy” organization to sign the proclamation against gay marriage. Last April under Smidzik’s direction, Rainbow Families merged with the Family Equality Council, a group based in Boston. As a result, the current direction of Rainbow Families is uncertain.

    Rather than relying on the likes of Project 515 and OutFront, the gay community would be better served by heeding the advice of a reputable law firm with a track record of SUCCESS – a law firm which is encouraged by the merits of a gay marriage case in Minnesota. Minnesota needs to move forward on gay marriage because NOW is always a good time.

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