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Tolerance in the Workplace: A panel discussion


LGBT hosts gay rights speaker

Marshall students and others of the community gathered last night to listen to Elizabeth Birch, former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign.

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Outreach Office, which sponsored the event titled "The State of Gay Rights Today" opened up the program.

"This is the biggest thing we've ever done," Doug Evans, one director of the LGBT, said.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest LGBT advocacy group in the United States. While Birch was executive director, the organization grew from 100,000 members to 500,000 members.

Birch began her speech by talking about the reason why she came to West Virginia and the story of two male penguins from a New York zoo. The penguins are unusual because they are apparently homosexual and she used this as a loose example for homosexual relationship. Then she spoke about her own background.

"I was this little girl running through the forest," Birch said. "I started realizing I was different and if I didn't leave my small town, it would crush my spirit. I traveled the world and realized that for all its foibles that at least we can survive here. There are places you can barely survive as a woman, let alone as an out lesbian."

Birch criticized how with all the problems America faces, why gay marriage is something that has to be stopped right now.

In a country where three out of five lesbians are mothers and one out of every five gay men were fathers it was an important issue, Birch said.

"Gay people are not just born in nice, left liberal families," Birch said. "They are born even in Evangelical Christian households."

Turning her attention towards the past November election, Birch commented on how Gay rights were more jeopardy than ever.

"We are screwed," Birch said. "We are in a dangerous time, and we have two giant waves coming together to form the perfect storm. We have spent 300 years trying to expunge our worse carnal sins from the Constitution such as racism and slavery. I believe people are fundamentally good at heart, until you put two words together: gay marriage."

Many students agreed with her assessment of where Gay rights are in the United States.

"I hope we are moving forward with Gay rights," Christina Wass, senior elementary education major, said. "However, I feel in my gut that we are moving backwards. There are many influential people who are against homosexuality and many people will just continue to believe what they believe."

To end her speech, Birch then commented on how in order for equality Gays and their opponents need to reach that middle ground which will promote understanding.


Press Releases

Monday, April 04, 2005
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications (304) 696-7153

Former Human Rights Campaign director speaks Wednesday at MU

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Elizabeth Birch, former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, speaks on “The State of Gay Rights Today” at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, in the Marshall University Memorial Student Center Alumni Lounge.

Birch’s visit to campus is sponsored by Marshall’s LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender) Outreach Office and the Office of Multicultural Affairs and is free to the public.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest LGBT advocacy group in the United States. Under Birch’s leadership, the group grew from 100,000 members in 1995 to 500,000 in 2003. During her tenure, the group became recognized as one of the top political organizations dealing with the equal treatment of LGBT people.

The organization is one of the largest bipartisan political action committees in the United States. The programs Birch helped engineer include HRC Network, a comprehensive resource center for LGBT workplace advocacy; HRC family Familynet, a virtual online community for LGBT families; the National Coming Out Project, dedicated to helping thousands of LGBT people come out every year, and Equality Rocks, the largest LGBT concert ever.

Birch was honored in 2002 by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights for her work in the civil rights community. Additionally, she has served as worldwide director for Apple Computer, Inc., and as general counsel to Claris Corporation to help implement non-discrimination and domestic partner benefits policies.

Birch graduated from the University of Santa Clara School of Law in California with honors and from the University of Hawaii in Political Science and Oceanography in 1980.

For more information on Birch’s visit to Marshall, persons may call (304) 696-6623, or visit


Thursday, March 10, 2005
Contact: Kelli Kerbawy , (304) 696-6623

Drag King Sile Singleton to visit MU, discuss race and gender identity

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Sile Singleton, a male impersonator who has been in the Drag King and Queen business for 10 years, speaks at Marshall University on Tuesday, March 15.

Singleton will conduct a discussion on race and gender identity from 2 to 3 p.m. in Prichard Hall room 143. The film “Drag Kings on Tour” will be shown from 7 to 9 p.m. the same day in Corbly Hall room 105.

Singleton’s appearance and the film are sponsored by the MU Women’s Center and the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender (LGBT) Outreach Office.

Singleton co-founded and produced IDKE – the annual International Drag King Extravaganza, a three-day event that includes presentations, workshops and performances. She also appeared in the Discovery Channel documentary “Kings on the Road.”

For more information, persons may call Kelli Kerbawy at (304) 696-6623.


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Last updated: 01/11/12.