Acts of Courage
April 3, 2009
by John Long
In this issue of Camp, we celebrate the courage and wonderful spirit of all who participate in the annual AIDS Walk Kansas City, scheduled for April 25, and all of the fundraising activities leading up to the walk. If youíre not already registered to walk, itís still very easy to sign up or to make a pledge for other walkers at www.aidswalkkansascity.org.
A Kansas Senate committee also showed the courage to do the right thing recently. The Federal and State Affairs Committee voted 5-3 on March 19 in favor of forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. According to the Kansas Equality Coalition, which requested that this bill be introduced, SB 169 would amend the Kansas Act Against Discrimination, which protects Kansans from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, disability, familial status, national origin, or ancestry.
If this bill passes, Kansas will join 26 states and Washington, D.C., in offering some level of protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Kansas also would join 13 states and Washington, D.C., in providing protection to transgender people. As of press time, the bill has still not been approved and may go into a future session. We applaud the work of the Kansas Equality Coalition and the Federal and State Affairs Committee of the Kansas Senate for their work on this important legislation.
On a less congratulatory note, the Missouri State Senate made national and local news in March when it rejected a resolution presented by openly gay Missouri State Sen. Jolie Justus (D., Kansas City) honoring the Heartland Menís Chorus for its recent ďAnd Justice For AllĒ concert. The performances honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others who have fought for equality for all.
When Justus asked Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields (R., St. Joseph) about the resolution, she was told he couldnít sign it as written because some senators might object to the language describing homophobia or LGBT rights. He offered to rewrite the proposal, and Justus refused. She instead created her own resolution issued from her office rather than one from the full Senate.
A March 26 Associated Press story about this reported: ďState lawmakers approve hundreds of courtesy resolutions every year, usually honoring such milestones as 50th wedding anniversaries or Eagle Scout achievements.Ē
We thank Justus for her courage in spite of her colleagues in the Senate who would be ashamed of their homosexual constituents.
Here is the full text of Justusí resolution, which she presented to the Heartland Menís Chorus at the concert:
Certification of Recognition
MISSOURI STATE SENATE
In recognition of the Heartland Menís Chorus production of ďAnd Justice for All,Ē a concert presented on March 28-29, 2009, that explores important social issues with the hope of bringing diverse communities together as one.
The Heartland Menís Chorus, Kansas Cityís gay menís chorus, has been singing out since 1986. They currently have 135 singing and 35 non-singing members for a total membership of 170.
The chorus presents innovative, relevant programming that expresses the vision statement: Our Voices Enlighten, Inspire, Heal and Empower.
The mission statement is: Heartland Menís Chorus provides excellence in performance while advancing menís choral music, building community, and reaching out to diverse audiences.
Artistic Director Dr. Joseph Nadeau has created a concert genre they call ďMusical DocumentariesĒ in which they combine music, narration and visuals to give a complete perspective of a timely societal issue. This genre has been accepted and performed by other choruses around the country.
The concert ďAnd Justice for AllĒ is the fourth in our series of musical documentaries.
ďAnd Justice for AllĒ explores and celebrates the music of the civil rights era, specifically those sung by women, African Americans, and the LGBT community.
The music from ďAnd Justice for AllĒ is the songs that were sung on the streets, at rallies, in churches and at funerals by those struggling to be free of oppression during a critical time in our nationís history.
ďAnd Justice for AllĒ is also being performed as part of the Folly Theater Kids Series for students in grades 5 through 12 as an opportunity to bring to life the names and accounts of civil rights leaders found in their text books.
ďAnd Justice for AllĒ has also been performed in Oklahoma City as part of the Heartland Menís Chorusí efforts to bring the musical message to a regional audience.
While much progress has been made in achieving civil rights, the Heartland Menís Chorus realizes there are still barriers to everyone being free of prejudice, racism and homophobia. The Heartland Menís Chorus hopes the music, words and images of ďAnd Justice for AllĒ will help lower those barriers and bring people together as a community of one.
Senator Jolie Justus, District 10