Western Colorado’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender + (LGBTQ+) students have a new scholarship fund to boost their higher education aspirations, thanks to the thoughtful people who formed the Basinger Leadership Scholarship Committee. The Jeffrey Alan Basinger Leadership Scholarship was established to recognize beloved local resident Jeff Basinger, who died in May of 2018. Jeff was a strong advocate for western Colorado residents living with HIV/AIDS and members of the LGBTQ+ community through decades of working with various community organizations, and as a volunteer. Jeff worked on the “Vote No on Amendment 2” campaign in 1992 and was a founding member of the Common Decency Coalition, which later became Western Equality. He belonged to the Grand Junction Downtown Association and other community organizations, had a deep working historical knowledge of the Grand Junction area, and a long and successful career working with the Western Colorado AIDS Project (WestCAP).
Janet Rowland is running for Mesa County Commissioner.
She’s already been a Mesa County Commissioner — from January, 2005 to January, 2013 — but that doesn’t mean her being commissioner again is a good idea. It arguably is not a good idea. From her previous two terms, we have an abundance of experience with her and know what is in store if Janet Rowland gets another chance to be Commissioner.
So let’s take a look at the past and see what it tells us.
Morally and ethically challenged
Certainly Janet has done some good things through her career, like trying to address child abuse and finding homes for foster kids. While those endeavors are laudable, we also need to take into account all the things she’s done that have set a poor example for kids, and our entire community and that have harmed the County.
Shortly after losing statewide election for lieutenant governor as Bob Beauprez’s running mate in 2006, and while she was previously Mesa County Commissioner, Janet was a guest columnist for the Grand Junction Free Press, at the time a competing newspaper to the Daily Sentinel. She wrote several articles for the Free Press until one day a sharp reader noticed Janet had lifted most of one of her columns word for word from a government-published pamphlet, and brought this information to the attention of the Free Press’s editor.
The Daily Sentinel reported on Rowland’s plagiarism on February 3, 2007:
A Mesa County official has plagiarized a government substance abuse booklet in her two most recent columns in the Grand Junction Free Press, that newspaper’s editor confirmed Friday.
The majority of Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland’s Feb. 1 column in the Free Press, titled “The importance of a strong parent-child bond,” was lifted verbatim from a 2006 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism publication titled, “Making a Difference: Talk to Your Teen About Alcohol.”
A reading of Rowland’s unattributed column and the text of the booklet revealed the two are virtually identical. The only differences were found in the column’s first sentence and its lead into several bullet points.
The editor said if Rowland had been a staff writer, she probably would have been fired.
Janet’s first reaction to the plagiarism charge was to claim she couldn’t even remember writing the columns. (Denial.) When that failed to tamp down the controversy, she next said the information she used in her columns had been intended for “mass duplication anyhow,” adding that if people wanted to make what she did out as something evil, that was THEIR prerogative. (Sour grapes.) Next, she blamed the plagiarism on others, saying she had included the necessary attributions in her column, but Free Press staff had edited them out. (Lying and blaming.) Free Press management quickly produced the emails that contained the articles exactly as they had received them from Janet for publication, showing that they contained no references or attributions.
It was all about love and acceptance for the crowds lining Main Street for downtown Grand Junction’s annual Pride Parade on Saturday, June 23, the biggest and best yet, with thousands of people attending. The weather was clear, sunny and a perfect 75 degrees. The parade route went from First and Main and Streets east along main to 6th Street.
Attendees cheered 23 floats, including entries from the First Congregational Church, the American Lutheran Church and the Grand Valley Interfaith Network. Residents of Delta had a float in this year’s parade, as did a Cosplay group, and a group called Coffee and Civic Action (CACA) that meets Thursday mornings at Main Street Bagels to write to elected representatives and advance progressive causes. The costumes were exotic and spectacular and rainbows were everywhere.
Three of President Donald Trump’s nominees for U.S. District Court judgeships have gone down in flames in the last few days for reasons that make Americans scratch their heads about how they could ever have been nominated to in the first place.
Trump’s nominee for U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, Matthew Spencer Petersen, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, December 14, 2017 and was forced to admit he had never tried a single case in any court of law, and had never filed a single motion or conducted even one deposition on his own over the course of his entire legal career. He was also stunningly unable to answer even the most basic questions about legal procedures common to federal courts.
An employee at the Horizon Drive Safeway discovered hateful anti-gay graffiti scrawled in the store’s restroom tonight and posted photos of it on social media. The employee discovered the graffiti while changing out of work clothes in the restroom.
One message was “Trump 2020” with a swastika. The other message said “God hates all fags,” also with a swastika.
In a landmark action towards welcoming diversity in our community, at its Wednesday, May 4, 2016 meeting, the Grand Junction City Council will officially declare May 2nd through May 8th, 2016 “Grand Junction Pride Fest Week.”
The Delta County School Board is violating state and federal laws in order to keep students from getting medically-accurate sex education information, and it seems to be by design.
Last October, the school district hired controversial abstinence-only-before-marriage pontificator Shelly Donahue as a sex education speaker for students. According to students, this was the only “sex education” the Delta County School District provided them, and the school board and district administration apparently consider this an adequate sex education.
Far from it.
For those who aren’t familiar with Shelly Donahue, she is an evangelistic Christian abstinence-only speaker who rakes in government grant funds by giving “WAIT” (“Why Am I Tempted”) training in public schools. Donahue’s website says
“She is passionately committed to Jesus Christ as the ultimate answer to the teen sexual activity problem in America. As a motivational speaker and a leading sex education expert, she is making a significant impact for the Kingdom of God!”
In her talks, Donahue dishes out vast amounts of medically inaccurate information to kids and uses broad, simplistic analogies that convey stereotypical images of what boys’ and girls’ personalities are like. She includes liberal doses of religiously-based, guilt-and-shame to frighten students out of having sex before marriage.
News about the pending distribution of atheist and Satanic literature in Delta County schools April 1 is encouraging more students, parents and even teachers to come forward with information about what they say is a persistent pattern of state/church violations, religiously-based discrimination and even outright bigotry, harassment and demeaning of atheist and non-believing students occurring within the Delta County School system.
Parents from Delta County contacted Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) Tuesday morning (3/22/16) to alert the group to what they feel is pervasive Christian proselytizing occurring in Delta County Schools. They say they and their child have suffered to a great extent from the school district’s persistent embrace of religious promotion.
If we accept one person’s religious beliefs as valid, we must accept them all, no matter how crazy they may be.
But if we act on this principle and start honoring all these various beliefs (and even the more mainstream ones) in workaday life, mayhem will result.
To see how this bears out, just take the principle to its logical extensions:
A woman goes to medical school and becomes a heart surgeon, then decides to become a Jehovah’s Witness who believes blood transfusions violate her religion. Honoring her religious belief at work would sacrifice patients’ quality of care, and could cost lives.
A devoutly religion 911 operator believes everything happens according to God’s will. Your house catches fire and you call 911. The religious operator answers, is your neighbor and recognizes you and your address. She knows you occasionally use alcohol, and based on the comings and goings at your house, has conclude that you regularly have sex on occasion even though you aren’t married. These activities violate her religion, and she honestly believes the fire at your house is God’s punishment for your sins. She does not alert the fire department because she dare not interfere with God’s will.
Your house is toast.
You get the idea.
We’ve already seen how the Kentucky County, Clerk Kim Davis’, religious belief against equal marriage have caused her to deny citizens’ their civil rights.
Just because a crowd of people mass in support Kim Davis by gathering in front of the jail she is being held in, and prominent Republican politicians make a show out of of visiting her in jail doesn’t mean she is right.
She is wrong. People who believe she is right need a thorough lesson in the purpose and value of a secular government and separation of church and state.
In the U.S., Ms. Davis is welcome to follow her faith any way she likes in her personal life, but as an elected public official, she is required to law carry out all of the duties her job requires in full accordance with the law or step down.
While Caitlyn Jenner has been grabbing all the headlines, it’s been almost overlooked that Grand Junction has been experiencing some gender-bending of its own.
Grand Junction now has its first professional drag queen troupe, The CD’s Drag and Jewell Case, LLC. The troupe is another indication of a slow but steady culture shift going on in this formerly conservative area of Colorado, and for that reason alone it’s surely something significant enough to talk about.
The troupe currently has five members, although usually only two or three perform at any given time. The group’s founders and lead performers are Coco Jem Holiday and Donatella Mysecrets De’Ore, and the supporting members are Livvi Dior, Onyx Reign and Delilah Delight. With a total of five entertainers now in their “Jewell Case,” the CDs have enough so they can have coverage in the event that some can’t make it to a gig.
Grand Junction’s Third Annual Colorado West Pride Parade was more impressive than ever this year, with more sponsors and floats than in previous years, and a bigger crowd of spectators on Main Street. The weather was perfect for the event, with a temperature in the 70s, intermittent cloud cover, just a faint breeze and no rain.
Things aren’t going very well for poor Ray Scott, the incumbent Republican candidate for Colorado Senate District 7. The senate seat he is after will soon be vacated by longtime Mesa County GOP favorite son, Steve King, who currently is facing multiple misdemeanor and felony charges for theft and failing to report income as required by legislators. King’s fate may not be directly tied to Ray Scott in any way, but it certainly doesn’t help the beleaguered local GOP, which has put forth a truly embarrassing long string of inept and/or discredited candidates for office.
Ray Scott faced off with Democrat Claudette Konola in the recent Club 20 candidate debates, where he took a real hit.
Claudette opened the debate by linking Scott and his party with some of those truly bad candidates, including Steve King and former congressman Scott McInnis, who got his buddies in Congress to name a federal wilderness area named after himself in violation of congress’ House Rules, and who stepped down in disgrace from the 2010 race for governor amid allegations of massive plagiarism.
Scott opened at the debate by saying he probably wouldn’t even have gotten up that morning if it hadn’t have been for the debate. Not exactly the level of enthusiasm an incumbent legislator should project with an election just weeks away.
The most overlooked and historic story in Grand Junction this week is the area’s burgeoning gay scene and the growing prominence of the area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population.
This year Gay Pride week brought an extended celebration of gender diversity to this formerly staid town, where previously people preferred to quietly sweep such culture under the rug.
Not any more.
Saturday, May 17 brought a gender-bending drag queen show to the Mesa Theater on Main Street, complete with a laser light show, throbbing techno music, Cirque-de-Soleil-style dancers atop lit towers and rambunctious performances by hilarious drag entertainers from Denver, Salt Lake and Provo.
Lest you think organizers had to go out of town to find such entertainers, that wasn’t the case. The show featured a performance by a home-grown, local drag troupe, The CDS Drag, with performers Jem Holiday, Donatella Mysecrets and Stella Rae.
Sunday, May 18 brought the Second Annual Gay Pride Parade and street festival. Heidi Hess, the western slope grassroots organizer for One Colorado, which works to secure and protect equality and opportunity for LGBT people and their families, reports that the size of the parade nearly tripled this year.
The spring fashion ad campaign of luxury department store Barneys New York features seventeen transgendered models, most of whom have never modeled before. The campaign, titled “Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters,” was shot in New York by renowned photographer Bruce Weber. The ads are an effort to raise awareness of a largely misunderstood community that has seen little progress towards acceptance over the last few decades. The photos feature the models posing with members of their support networks — friends, relatives and even pets — accompanied by a short summary of each model’s personal story. Barneys hopes that by giving the models and their unique personal stories national exposure, they will help increase social acceptance of transgendered individuals. Barneys partnered with the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the LGBT Community Center to create the campaign, and the retailer will donate 10 percent of all the sales it makes on February 11, at their stores or online, to the two organizations, with the total proceeds being divided equally between them.
Today, Saturday, May 19 was a landmark day for this conservative town. It was the day of Grand Junction’s first-ever Gay Pride Parade and Festival. The weather was perfect for a parade — not too cold, not too hot.
Former Arizona state senator Kyrsten Sinema made history November 6 when she became the first openly atheist female ever to be elected to Congress. Sinema, 36, replaces Rep. Pete Stark of California as the only other openly atheist person ever to have served in Congress. Stark, who will turn 80 this year, represented a district near San Jose, California. While holding office in 2007, he went public in about his lack of belief in God. In spite of this admission, he won re-election twice, making huge in-roads for non-believers’ representation in Congress. Stark’s coming out about his lack of belief in God helped paved the way for Sinema’s election. Sinema will represent Arizona’s 9th Congressional district, which includes parts of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Paradise Valley. Sinema, a former Mormon, is also openly bisexual. While Stark was elected to office prior to admitting he was an atheist, Sinema is the first candidate ever in U.S. history to run openly as a non-theist and get elected.
This post is part of our ongoing series exploring the millions of previously-secret tobacco industry documents now available on the Internet. – Ed.
“Project SCUM” was R.J. Reynolds’ plan to increase sales of Camel cigarettes in the San Francisco area by marketing them to gay people in the Castro district, “rebellious, Generation X” -ers, people of “international influence” and “street people,” by introducing Camel cigarettes into less-traditional retail outlets like “head shops.” SCUM was an acronym that stood for “Sub-Culture Urban Marketing.” RJR’s rationale for the project was a higher incidence of smoking and drug use in these subcultures. There are several versions of the “Project SCUM” document, ranging in dates from 1995-97. Each offers revealing marginalia (handwritten markings on the page). For example, in one document, handwritten in next to a bulleted list of consumer subcultures are the words “Gay/Castro” and “Tenderloin,” referring to gay areas of San Francisco. Next to a list that discusses the rationale for the program, a line says “higher incidents of smoking in subcultures” and has the phrase “and drugs” handwritten in. On yet another copy, the phrase “and drugs” is crossed out, revealing RJR’s ambivalence about their exploitation of the drug culture. A later copy of the document’s title page has the word “SCUM” crossed out and the word “Sourdough” handwritten in, as though RJR realized too late the derogatory name they had slapped on their customers. See a copy of RJR’s Project Scum document here.
The lone Republican legislator responsible for killing Colorado’s civil unions bill voted against it even though his son and only child is gay. Rep. Don Coram of Montrose cast the deciding vote on a 5-4 party line vote May 14. Rep. Coram is the father of Dee Coram, who runs the Coffee Trader, a popular coffee bar in downtown Montrose. Dee Coram has served on a local economic development board, has been active in helping revitalize downtown Montrose and even got an award from the Governor for his work. Dee Coram says his father not only let him down, but also let down the entire gay community. Commenting on his father’s vote, Coram said, “I was told by my grandfather, there’s always a time to lead and there’s always a time to follow. He was given a time to lead, and he didn’t do it. He could have and should have been the deciding vote.” Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper called the special session to address the civil unions bill after Republican maneuvering blocked it from coming to a vote in the entire House, where it had enough votes to pass. The bill had already received the approval of three separate House committees during the regular session and had enough bipartisan support to pass in the full House. To kill it, House Speaker Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) assigned the bill to yet a fourth committee — the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee — where he knew it would not pass.