Camp Trans plans protest of festival policy
By Sarah Mieras
HART - Transgender activists from throughout the world will once again set up camp across the road from the world's largest women-only event to protest a long standing policy that excludes certain groups of women from attending.
Close to three decades old, the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival has a policy that excludes anyone who is not a born female from attending the weeklong event, held on more than 600 private acres in the Manistee National Forest. Transgender activists have long hailed the policy as discriminatory, since it bars pre- and post-operative male to female persons from attending the festival.
In response to the policy, Camp Trans was born as a protest outside the Women's Festival gates in 1991. In recent years Camp Trans has become a festival in its own right, including workshops, camping space and outreach to festival attendants. Despite its recent transition into its own event, organizers of Camp Trans maintain that the focus of the gathering still remains changing the Womyn's Festival policy to include a more inclusive definition of "woman."
"I think the women-born-only policy doesn't take into account the reality of transgender identity," said Carrie Tune-Copeland, secretary for TransGender Michigan. "If the Festival was to truly appreciate the richness of gender identity then more people would be let in and they wouldn't be acting like the gender police."
Couples sue for marriage rights in Maryland
The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday sued the city of Baltimore and four Maryland counties for the right of same-sex couples to marry. The suit was filed in Baltimore circuit court on behalf of nine couples and a man whose partner recently died. The couples had sought marriage licenses and were denied, said Ken Choe, staff attorney for the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, based in New York.
Maryland law specifically defines marriage as a union between a man and woman. In February, Attorney General Joseph Curran sent a memo to state legislators and the 24 clerks of the court reminding them that clerks are not authorized to issue licenses to gay couples. Curran's memo also said the law prohibits recognition of same-sex marriages from other states. A spokesman said Wednesday that the attorney general had not received a copy of the ACLU lawsuit.
The suit asks the court to declare that state law is unjustified discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. The suit asks the court to prohibit the 24 circuit court clerks from refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples. "Maryland law excludes hundreds of gay couples the legal protection intended to help families at the time of their greatest need, such as in sickness and death," said Choe.