This Week – LGBT Weekly http://lgbtweekly.com Tue, 03 May 2016 22:58:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 HRC Alabama calls for full repeal of Oxford, Alabama’s anti-transgender ordinance http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/03/hrc-alabama-calls-for-full-repeal-of-oxford-alabamas-anti-transgender-ordinance/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/03/hrc-alabama-calls-for-full-repeal-of-oxford-alabamas-anti-transgender-ordinance/#respond Tue, 03 May 2016 22:35:36 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70235

MONTGOMERY, Ala.  – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Alabama responded to the Oxford, Ala., City Council’s decision to hold a special meeting tomorrow to consider the fate of an anti-transgender ordinance by calling for repeal of the measure, which was unanimously approved last week. The new law prevents transgender residents and visitors from using public restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity, and imposes a $500 fine or six months in jail on violators.

“Nothing short of full repeal of this outrageous law is acceptable,” said HRC Alabama State Manager Eva Walton Kendrick. “One need only look to the fierce backlash North Carolina is facing over its anti-transgender law HB2, and the chorus of GOP voices opposed to this sort of discrimination, to know that this is a losing issue. Our state can do better than this and we urge the fair-minded residents of Oxford to let their City Council members know that this sort of hate has no place in Alabama.”

Oxford’s anti-transgender law is unprecedented, the first in the nation to attack transgender people by establishing criminal penalties for violations of the law, raising a myriad of privacy and legal concerns, including questions about how the law will be enforced. There has been no clarity on whether all people in Oxford will be expected to produce birth certificates when using public facilities or, if not, how law enforcement officials will obtain evidence of people’s assigned sex at birth. The American Civil Liberties Union has already announced a possible legal challenge to the law, .

Proposals similar to Oxford’s have been rejected at the state and local level across the country. Just yesterday, the City Council of Rockwall, Texas, unanimously rejected a bill proposed by Mayor Jim Pruitt that would have prohibited transgender people from using restrooms consistent with their gender identities. Scores of community members also came to speak out against that proposal.

At the state level, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed legislation that limited restroom use for transgender children in public schools earlier this year, and last month, the sponsor of a similar bill in Tennessee announced plans to pull the legislation from consideration this legislative session. With its passage of the anti-transgender HB2, North Carolina became the first state to enact this type of legislation and is facing a federal court challenge and fierce backlash.

Oxford’s ordinance is unprecedented in that it enumerates criminal penalties, including the potential for jail time, for violations. It also applies to bathrooms and locker rooms citywide, including in private businesses, which goes further than similar provision in North Carolina’s law which applies to government buildings and schools.

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Alabama continues to work to advance equality for LGBT Alabamians who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Alabama, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

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International human rights groups launch campaign to support the LGBTI community in Indonesia http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/03/international-human-rights-groups-launch-campaign-to-support-the-lgbti-community-in-indonesia/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/03/international-human-rights-groups-launch-campaign-to-support-the-lgbti-community-in-indonesia/#respond Tue, 03 May 2016 21:54:25 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70217

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – International human rights groups launched a global campaign today to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community in Indonesia. Increasing homophobic and transphobic rhetoric by political and religious leaders has caused growing hostility toward members of the LGBTI community in Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest country by population.

The campaign will benefit the Indonesian human rights network Arus Pelangi, a national federation supporting LGBTI human rights in Indonesia. The organization has responded to the current backlash by launching an emergency assistance program to help the most vulnerable members of the community.  The program includes a temporary safe house for human rights defenders under threat, relocation assistance, a national hotline and other emergency support services.  But current funds for emergency services run out at the end of May.  Funds raised through this campaign will help ensure that the work continues.

The global campaign is led by Alturi, a new non-profit organization based in Los Angeles dedicated to raising attention and support for global LGBTI advocates, and is joined by Human Rights Watch and OutRIght Action International.

“Arus Pelangi has provided a critically important voice for the LGBTI community in Indonesia for more than 10 years,” said Steve Roth, co-founder and director of Alturi.  “And when this current backlash against LGBTI people began they quickly sprang into action.  But this emergency support puts a strain on their resources, so we’re asking Americans and other members of the international community to make a small contribution to help them continue this important work.”

Alturi, Human Rights Watch and OutRight Action International invite members of the international community to contribute to help ensure that Arus Pelangi can provide emergency services to LGBTI Indonesians most in need as result of the hostile, anti-LGBTI rhetoric from government officials.  Funds raised will also support Arus Pelangi’s broader work to ensure the well being of LGBTI Indonesians, including their “You Are Not Alone” awareness campaign and other critical advocacy work.

The campaign can be found at: http://www.alturi.org/indonesia_campaign

Yuli“When urgent needs like these arise, we have to act quickly to help and protect the most vulnerable members our community,” said Yuli Rusinawati, founder and chairperson of Arus Pelangi.  “At the same time, we have to keep advocating strongly for equality and respect for the broader LGBTI community in Indonesia.  We greatly appreciate the support from the international community, which will enable us to keep pushing forward with our work on multiple fronts.”

Established in 2006, Arus Pelangi is a non-profit, member-based federation that works to advance the human rights of LGBTI people in Indonesia through education, public awareness, advocacy and community organizing.

“OutRight partners with Arus Pelangi to change hearts and minds in Indonesia to support long-term change — but right now they need emergency support to keep their community safe and stand tall in the face of mounting opposition,” said Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International.

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America’s ‘Best-of-the-Best’ companies for diversity named by NGLCC and its partners in National Business Inclusion Consortium http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/03/americas-best-of-the-best-companies-for-diversity-named-by-nglcc-and-its-partners-in-national-business-inclusion-consortium/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/03/americas-best-of-the-best-companies-for-diversity-named-by-nglcc-and-its-partners-in-national-business-inclusion-consortium/#respond Tue, 03 May 2016 21:34:29 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70213

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the business voice of the LGBT community, in collaboration with its partners in the National Business Inclusion Consortium (NBIC), has named the inaugural Best-of-the-Best list of corporations in America committed to diversity and inclusion across all community sectors.
“The Best-of-the-Best designation is the top corporate honor bestowed for commitments to America’s diverse employees and business owners, which includes LGBT, people of color, women, and people with disabilities. This designation is not easily earned, making it all the more prized,” said NGLCC Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson. “By recognizing these industry leaders and the policymakers who collaborate with them as the Best-of-the-Best, we are creating a better future for all diverse communities in business. Together we reaffirm our common, ongoing mission to improve business inclusion among Fortune 500 corporations and government agencies nationwide.”
Only companies achieving industry leading results across all diverse segments are eligible to receive the prestigious Best-of-the-Best designation from the NBIC, a coalition of national diverse business organizations spearheaded by NGLCC and including Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce, National Black Justice Coalition, U.S. Business Leadership Network and WEConnect International.  NGLCC formed the National Business Inclusion Consortium in 2011, and its members represent a total of over $8 trillion in annual consumer spending power and significant contributions to the marketplace and workplace.
Criteria required to be named a Best-of-the-Best corporation includes the completion of a detailed survey of an organization’s inclusive programs, which may involve Supplier Diversity initiatives, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and workplace engagement opportunities, and diverse marketplace and community engagements. Additionally, a detailed report of policies and achievements in the diversity and inclusion space–along with recognition or ratings such as the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, the U.S. Business Leadership Network’s Disability Equality Index, or Diversity Inc.’s Top 50— is weighted and reviewed by a committee of NBIC leaders.
The 2016 Corporations Designated as Best-of-the-Best are:
2016 NBIC Diversity Corporation of the Year:
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
2016 NBIC Program or Initiative of the Year:
TIAA Contingent Worker Diversity Program
2016 NBIC Best-of-the-Best Top 30 Corporations for Inclusion:
American Airlines
AT&T
Bank of America
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Capital One
Chevron
Comcast|NBCUniversal
Corning
Cummins
CVS Health
Fidelity Investments
Freddie Mac
General Motors
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Kellogg
KPMG
Marriott International
Merck
Morgan Stanley
Nationwide
New York Life Insurance Company
Northrop Grumman
Pacific Gas & Electric Company
PNC Financial Services Group
Prudential
Sodexo
TD Bank Group
TIAA
UPS
Wells Fargo
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NCORE to bring together academic, social, and cultural leaders to discuss race and ethnicity issues in higher education http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/02/ncore-to-bring-together-academic-social-and-cultural-leaders-to-discuss-race-and-ethnicity-issues-in-higher-education/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/02/ncore-to-bring-together-academic-social-and-cultural-leaders-to-discuss-race-and-ethnicity-issues-in-higher-education/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 22:01:32 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70208

NCORESAN FRANCISCOThe National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE), the most comprehensive national forum on race relations, equity, and access on college campuses, will take place May 31-June 4 in San Francisco at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.

Dolores Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union and highly influential labor leader of the twentieth century, will be one of the five featured keynote speakers at the 2016 conference. Also featured are Reza Aslan, internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religion; Danny Glover, renowned actor, producer, and humanitarian; Shaun Harper, author and one of the most influential professors in the field of education; and Matika Wilbur, celebrated photographer and social documentarian.

NCORE serves as a vital national resource for higher education institutions. It offers hundreds of pre-conference institutes, workshops, and keynote addresses that provide its attendees with the tools they need to affect positive change in the campuses they represent. Topics and sessions include:

  • The Pervasiveness of Racism in U.S. Higher Education
  • Approaching Issues of Equity and Diversity in STEM through Multidisciplinary STEM Faculty Learning Communities
  • Confronting Anti-Immigration Hysteria
  • Is Race a Choice? A Conversation on MultiRacial Identification Fluidity and Ethnic Fraud in a post-Dolezal Context
  • Unintended Outcomes of Diversity on Campus: White Students and Perceptions of Discrimination
  • Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces: Activating Intersectionality to Support LGBTQ+ People of Color
  • Confronting Islamophobia: Proactive Efforts to Address Hate and Bias on and off Campus

More information including registration, schedule, hotel, session list, and exhibit information can be found at www.ncore.ou.edu.

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Reform Movement leaders speak out against state-level anti-LGBT legislation http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/02/reform-movement-leaders-speak-out-against-state-level-anti-lgbt-legislation/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/02/reform-movement-leaders-speak-out-against-state-level-anti-lgbt-legislation/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 21:45:28 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70204

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to numerous anti-LGBT laws being introduced, and in many cases passed, at the state-level, the leadership of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the North American Federation of Temple Youth issued the following statement:

“As leaders in the Reform Jewish Movement, we are deeply troubled by the sharp rise in legislation being proposed and in too many cases passed at the state-level that affirms rights to discriminate against the LGBT community. We are especially concerned that such legislation is often falsely justified by appeals to religious freedom rights.

We know personally and professionally how the United States, through our Constitution and laws, has protected, ensured and enhanced religious freedom and religious diversity. Such freedom has allowed the Jewish people – and people of all faiths – to flourish in this country to a degree nearly unmatched anywhere else in the world. As Jews remain a religious minority in every state, we also know the importance of maintaining a balance between religious freedom and the many other rights and freedoms that define who we are as Americans. Any laws that aim to impinge on or imperil an individual’s fundamental dignity and humanity must be rejected.

Over the past few weeks, legislation has been introduced and/or become law in Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee, to name only a few states, that would, in all or in part:

  • Irrevocably tilt the balance in favor of religious freedom against laws that protect against discrimination, without even the opportunity to assess the appropriate equilibrium for each situation;
  • Permit taxpayer-funded discrimination, especially in employment; and
  • Target LGBT people by overturning existing non-discrimination protections, or render this community even more vulnerable, such as by barring transgender or gender-nonconforming people using facilities of the gender with which they identify.

We stand united against these proposals, and any similar legislation at the state or federal level. These bills defy our values as Reform Jews and as Americans. In this Passover season, as we celebrate liberation and redemption around our seder tables and in our communities, we are obligated to taste maror, the bitter herb, to feel the oppression that the Israelites faced in Egypt. The story, rituals and values of Passover remind us of the many people in our society who still know the bitterness of reprehensible discrimination, and that we must act to ensure that all people are treated equally, with dignity and respect.

That such harmful state-level bills are being introduced clearly demonstrates the need for federal non-discrimination protections for the LGBT community. We call on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would explicitly prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, federal funding, education, credit and jury selection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These long-overdue protections for the LGBT community would bring us closer to wholeness, justice and peace for all people.”

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President
Daryl Messinger, Chair
Union for Reform Judaism

Rabbi Steve Fox, CEO
Rabbi Denise Eger, President
Central Conference of American Rabbis

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Isabel P. Dunst, Chair
Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism

Jeremy Cronig, President
Kathryn Fleisher, Incoming President
North American Federation of Temple Youth

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Dept. of Education publishes list of institutions receiving right to discriminate against LGBT students http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/02/dept-of-education-publishes-list-of-institutions-receiving-right-to-discriminate-against-lgbt-students/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/02/dept-of-education-publishes-list-of-institutions-receiving-right-to-discriminate-against-lgbt-students/#comments Mon, 02 May 2016 21:34:15 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70201

WASHINGTON –  The U.S. Department of Education has published a list of educational institutions who have received an exemption from federal civil rights law in order to discriminate against LGBT students. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) first called on the Department of Education in December to take action in light of this growing and disturbing trend by some religious colleges and universities.

“We commend the Department of Education for answering our call for greater transparency and helping to ensure no student unknowingly enrolls in a school that intends to discriminate against them,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The alarming and growing trend of schools quietly seeking the right to discriminate against LGBT students, and not disclosing that information publicly, is what spurred our call for greater transparency. We believe that religious liberty is a bedrock principle of our nation, however, faith should never be used as a guise for discrimination.”

Released by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the list of educational institutions published today can be found here.

HRC first called on the Department of Education to take action in a comprehensive report released in December called Hidden Discrimination: Title IX Religious Exemptions Putting LGBT Students at Risk. In the report, HRC spotlighted 56 colleges and universities based in 26 states across every region of the country – which collectively have nearly 120,000 students – that have requested religious exemptions under Title IX since 2013. These institutions have utilized a little-known provision in the law that allows educational institutions controlled by a religious organization to request an exemption from full compliance with the law if “application of the law would conflict with specific tenets of the religion.”

In the report, HRC specifically called for:

  • The Department of Education to require schools to publish comprehensive information about the scope of the exemption they received, the characteristics or behaviors to which the exemption applies, and the way in which Title IX still protects students;
  • The Department of Education to regularly report which educational institutions have been granted Title IX religious exemptions, the scope of those exemptions, the characteristics or behaviors to which the exemption applies; and
  • Congress to amend the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) governing statute to require OCR to annually report the number of Title IX exemptions that were requested, granted, and denied.

While the Department of Education has little discretion to deny these requests for exemptions, HRC believes religiously controlled educational institutions should not be exempt from full transparency.

LGBT students face discrimination and harassment at an alarming rate. According to a 2010 study, lesbian, gay, and bisexual college students are nearly twice as likely to experience harassment when compared with their non-LGB peers, and are seven times more likely to indicate the harassment was based on their sexual orientation. In the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, one-fifth of transgender students reported that they were denied gender-appropriate housing, and five percent reported outright denial of campus housing. LGBT college students also suffer from higher rates of sexual assault and misconduct on America’s campuses; transgender and gender nonconforming students report one of the highest rates of sexual assault and misconduct.

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FDA launches public education campaign to prevent and reduce tobacco use among LGBT young adults http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/02/fda-launches-public-education-campaign-to-prevent-and-reduce-tobacco-use-among-lgbt-young-adults/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/02/fda-launches-public-education-campaign-to-prevent-and-reduce-tobacco-use-among-lgbt-young-adults/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 19:11:26 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70197

This Free LifeThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced the launch of a historic public education campaign aimed at preventing and reducing tobacco use among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young adults ages 18-24. Of the more than 2 million LGBT young adults in the U.S., more than 800,000 smoke occasionally. The “This Free Life” campaign is designed to specifically reach the occasional or “social” smokers in the LGBT community to help prevent tobacco-related disease and the loss of tens of thousands LGBT lives to tobacco use each year.

“We know LGBT young adults in this country are nearly twice as likely to use tobacco as other young adults,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “We want LGBT young adults to know that there is no safe amount of smoking. Even an occasional cigarette can have serious health implications and lead to addiction.”

There are a number of factors that contribute to the higher risk for tobacco use among LGBT young adults. The “coming out” process is a unique tobacco-use risk factor for LGBT young adults due to the actual and perceived social stigma, discrimination and anxiety experienced during this process. And data show that the “coming out” process faced by most LGBT young adults can lead to tobacco use and negative health consequences.

Research also indicates that many LGBT young adults can find a sense of community at LGBT bars and clubs, which sometimes provide environments conducive to tobacco use. Additionally, when some LGBT influencers — such as YouTube personalities, community bloggers and other nationally known figures — openly promote tobacco use, it further establishes tobacco use as a norm within the LGBT community.

“‘This Free Life’ is designed to challenge the perception that tobacco use is a necessary part of LGBT culture,” said Richard Wolitski, Ph.D., acting director of HHS’ Office for HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy. “The campaign shows LGBT young adults they can be the person they want to be and still live tobacco free.”

The process of accepting one’s LGBT identity and “coming out” to their friends and family leaves many LGBT young adults with a deep sense of resilience and passion to live their lives freely. “This Free Life” expresses this notion through the campaign’s tagline — “Freedom to Be, Tobacco-Free.” The campaign also uses authentic and credible messages to engage LGBT young adults by appealing to their core ideals, similar life experiences and common interests.

“This Free Life” launches in 12 markets in the U.S. this week using print, digital and out-of-home ads, as well as outreach at the local level to showcase tobacco-free behaviors and attitudes within the LGBT community. The $35.7 million campaign is funded by user fees collected from the tobacco industry, not by taxpayer dollars.

The new campaign is part of the FDA’s ongoing efforts to prevent death and disease caused by tobacco use and will complement the agency’s at-risk youth education campaigns. The FDA launched “The Real Cost” Smoking Prevention Campaign in February 2014, the “Fresh Empire” Multicultural Tobacco Prevention Campaign in October 2015, and “The Real Cost” Smokeless Tobacco Prevention Campaign in April 2016. The FDA’s campaigns are based on the best available science and are evaluated to measure effectiveness in preventing and reducing youth smoking over time.

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Commentary: North Carolina HB 2 –The ghost of Jesse Helms http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/30/commentary-north-carolina-hb-2-the-ghost-of-jesse-helms/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/30/commentary-north-carolina-hb-2-the-ghost-of-jesse-helms/#comments Sun, 01 May 2016 00:30:50 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70179
Jesse Helms

Jesse Helms

Contributor Note: July 19, 1994, Sen. Jesse Helms, in a fiery speech recorded by C-SPAN and The Congressional Record, moved to fire Mr. Patterson from his US government job for “promoting the gay agenda” in the federal workplace.

Gov. Pat McCrory responded to the call of North Carolinians when he signed HB 2 into law. He also responded to the ghost of North Carolina’s long serving GOP US Sen. Jesse Helms.

I identify as a Republican. I am a paid life member of the Republican Party. I wholeheartedly believe in employment and legal protections for LGBT people as I have seen the economic misery in the lives of LGBT friends and families.

While working as an agricultural diplomat in the Clinton administration I supported the administration’s federal workplace initiative to fight discrimination against my LGBT colleagues. This work became a part of my employment.  The position description is a part of the Congressional Record for July 19, 1994.

When Sen. Helms read the position description and learned of my work to promote workplace diversity in the federal government, he considered my work prohibited political activity. Using government resources to fight employment discrimination against LGBT workers amounted to waste of government resources to Sen. Helms and he moved to fire me to stop the waste.

Helms became so outraged he called me a “pervert” in The Congressional Record and the Q-word and F-word on the campaign trail. It was a tough time for me and I learned firsthand of the misery my LGBT colleagues experienced and, sadly, continue to experience.

HB 2, a long and complex bill, contains a provision that requires people in North Carolina to use public restrooms corresponding to their sex at birth rather than gender identity. This transphobic bill has drawn national and international outrage by corporate, government and political sources.

As a Republican I was proud GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and John Kasich stepped forward to reject the politics behind HB 2. I also applaud those North Carolina Republicans who have rejected the bill.

My deeply held Christian faith tells me everyone needs to work to support themselves, their families and their churches. Likewise, my deeply held political faith in the Republican Party tells me people should be free to work for the same reasons. Workplace discrimination forces people to lives of personal misery and economic dependency on poorly managed government programs.

Americans are free to choose where to work and for whom. Employers and employees need to be freed from the politics of workplace stigma due to a person’s sexuality.

After 20 years, I bare no grudge toward Sen. Jesse Helms. I wish him peace. He and I, though in the same political party and from the Deep South, did not see eye to eye on LGBT rights. His views on LGBT people were based on the prevailing views of his time that we were all sick criminals and LGBT groups made little or no effort to help him alter his views. As a result, he saw no reason to change with his times and his political legacy suffers in this regard.

In his 1994 speech in The Congressional Record, Sen. Helms said “we are at the crossroads of twisted values” in our Nation. In 2016 North Carolina is at a political and economic crossroads. I believe Sen. Helms would want the state’s economy to continue to grow and for North Carolinians to prosper.  To do that HB 2 should be repealed.

Contributor Jim Patterson is a writer and speaker based in California and Washington DC. JEPCapitolHill@gmail.com

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NC Senate President Berger doubles down on anti-LGBT HB2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/30/nc-senate-president-berger-doubles-down-on-anti-lgbt-hb2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/30/nc-senate-president-berger-doubles-down-on-anti-lgbt-hb2/#comments Sat, 30 Apr 2016 14:00:34 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70160

Further compounding the HB2 economic catastrophe that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Pat Moore inflicted on the state when they rammed the HB 2 legislation through in less than a day, they are now doubling down on their refusal to listen to the business community. While CEOs and business leaders have spoken with one voice over the past six weeks, calling on North Carolina leaders to repeal HB2, Sen. Berger has sent a letter to corporate leaders defending his discriminatory HB2 law.

The letter, sent just before the state legislature returned to session, inherently acknowledges what an economic disaster HB2 has been for the state as companies look to protect their employees and consumers from discrimination and harm. It also contains the worst of the lies and misinformation Senator Berger has been peddling over the last six weeks.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has taken the liberty of redlining Senator Berger’s letter with the truth and publishing it here.

Chad Griffin, HRC president said, “Sen. Berger is defending the indefensible. He knows HB2 is an unmitigated disaster that strikes at the basic rights and dignity of North Carolinians. In the face of so many business voices denouncing the bill and calling for its full repeal, Senator Berger is desperately digging in even further.  He is  lying about local laws and recycling dangerous myths about transgender people that have been soundly rejected by both the business community and fair-minded North Carolinians.”

Matt Hirschy, director of advancement, Equality NC, said, “It is disheartening to see Sen. Berger use the same misinformation that has dominated so much of the debate leading to the passing of the discriminatory House Bill 2. He appears to think that these executives, companies and their collective attorneys don’t fully understand the intention or focus of the bill when in fact they are very aware and worried. Furthermore, Senator Berger claims that ‘one of those narratives misstates the impact of the law’, yet he is quick to dismiss the countless people coming out against HB2 who are negatively affected by the bill. We urge the Senator to meet with the transgender North Carolinians who now fear for their safety and meet with the mothers whose children are being bullied at school because of this harmful law. We implore the Senator to really listen to his constituents, not just the ones that he is counting on at the polls in November.”

HRC have outlined below some major points to consider regarding claims in Berger’s letter and other communications from proponents of HB2:

  • Berger Claim: Charlotte’s ordinance mandated gender-neutral bathrooms FALSE   Charlotte joined 18 states and more than 100 cities — including Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, Louisville, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Dallas, and nearly every other major city in the country – by passing a non-discrimination ordinance. Nothing in the ordinance required a bathroom to be gender-neutral. Gov. McCrory’s repeated assertions that HB2 is about keeping men out of women’s restrooms is simply a lie.  Transgender women are women, and should have access to women’s restrooms.

  • Berger Claim: Charlotte’s ordinance raised serious safety concerns FALSE  This is a tired and entirely unfounded trope that opponents of equality have trotted out in jurisdictions across the country. Tens of millions of people in this country are covered by laws that prohibit discrimination in places of public accommodation on the basis of gender identity without problems. Law enforcement officials have spoken out against bills like HB2.  Asserting that gender identity non-discrimination protections pose dangers is offensive. Transgender people should not and must not be conflated with sexual predators. Men who are sexual predators will not have increased access to restrooms — if they identify as men they’ll still be required to use the men’s room.  Characterizing this law as a way to enable or protect sexual predators is ludicrous. Sexual predators engage in behavior that is, was, and always will be illegal — and this law doesn’t change that.

  • Berger Claim: HB2 allows reasonable North Carolinians to solve complicated issues without government interference FALSE  HB2 is the very definition of government interference. Charlotte spent two years considering and vetting an ordinance; candidates ran for re-election on the promise of passing such an ordinance, and were voted into office by voters who wanted them to pass such an ordinance. They passed an ordinance similar to laws in 18 states.  Sen. Berger and Gov. McCrory responded by hastily convening a special session in which the General Assembly took almost no testimony, considered the matter for less than 10 hours it was approved, and signed by the governor that same day.

  • Berger Claim: This law allows North Carolina businesses to adopt whatever workplace and accommodation policies they may choose PARTLY FALSE The Charlotte ordinance is primarily about places of public accommodation. Workplace policies were only implicated if an employer had or wanted to have a contract with the city of Charlotte. Invoking workplace policies is a red herring, Many businesses already have their own policies prohibiting discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the EEOC has determined that employers covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act have similar non-discrimination obligations under federal law.  Some businesses that were covered by the ordinance in Charlotte are now free to discriminate in public accommodations if they so choose.  However, HB2 now forces private businesses leasing property owned by the state, state agency, city, or other public agency — including the airports, convention centers, office space or otherwise – to discriminate in the provision of restroom facilities. Schools are also now required to discriminate against transgender students in the provision of facilities — a situation unprecedented in the country.

  • Berger Claim: Much of the opposition to House Bill 2 has rested on a false premise: namely, that a decision not expanding current law beyond protections existing in federal law and a majority of statements is an endorsement of discrimination ABSOLUTELY FALSE  It continues to be clear that Sen. Berger, Gov. McCrory and Speaker Moore either don’t understand what this law does or are intentionally lying about it.  HB2 does not restore the status quo. That is a lie.  It is the first bill in American history to force transgender people to use a bathroom inconsistent with their gender identity. It is an unprecedented effort to write anti-transgender discrimination into law. HB2 is motivated by anti-LGBT animus, particularly toward transgender people.  Writing anti-transgender discrimination into the law is an endorsement of discrimination. HB2 also embraces discrimination by removing from state law the cause of action for people who have experienced discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin and sex.  HB2 is simply an endorsement of discrimination in every sense.

Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers are under increasingly intense pressure to repeal HB2. More than 180 leading CEOs and business leaders are urging Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the deeply discriminatory law that’s bad for business and bad for North Carolina. Mayors and governors across the country are banning travel to the state, musicians are cancelling concerts, and the New York Times editorial board called North Carolina a “pioneer in bigotry.” The NBA has threatened next year’s All-Star Game in Charlotte, NASCAR has spoken about its opposition publicly, and the NCAA has said it won’t schedule events – including the Final Four – in cities that don’t have fully-inclusive non-discrimination laws. Major film studios and corporations, from PayPal to Deutsche Bank, have stopped investments in the state because of the new law. The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office has even warned its LGBT citizens of the risks of traveling to North Carolina.

HRC and Equality NC continue to call for the full repeal of HB2, a blatantly discriminatory law targeting transgender people, and denying municipalities supporting LGBT equality from extending non-discrimination protections to all of their residents.

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Congresswoman Suzan DelBene calls for judiciary hearing on Equality Act http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/29/congresswoman-suzan-delbene-calls-for-judiciary-hearing-on-equality-act/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/29/congresswoman-suzan-delbene-calls-for-judiciary-hearing-on-equality-act/#respond Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:45:22 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70152
 Suzan DelBene

Suzan DelBene

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) Thursday joined more than 100 colleagues in calling on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-06) to hold a hearing on the Equality Act (H.R. 3185), a comprehensive bill that aims to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans.

“In too many states, people who are LGBT can still be fired, denied credit and evicted from their home simply based on who they are and who they love,” DelBene said. “What’s worse, our nation is seeing a proliferation of state laws legalizing discrimination under the guise of ‘religious freedom.’ The House Judiciary Committee, which I serve on, should take up the Equality Act without delay to make clear that LGBT Americans deserve full equality under our laws. We can’t stop fighting until all Americans have equal rights and protections.”

DelBene is an original cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would provide explicit, consistent civil rights protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in credit, education, employment, federal funding, housing, jury service and public accommodations.

Mississippi and North Carolina recently enacted laws to permit discrimination against LGBT individuals, underscoring the need for a comprehensive prohibition on discrimination.

Last year, DelBene introduced a resolution (H.Res. 549) to designate June 26, as “LGBT Equality Day,” to honor the anniversary of LGBT milestones and highlight how much work remains to be done

Full text of the letter led by Rep. David Cicilline (R.I.-01), follows:

Dear Chairman Goodlatte:

We write as cosponsors of H.R. 3185, the Equality Act, to request that you hold a hearing on this legislation in the House Judiciary Committee.  As you may know, this bipartisan legislation has the support of 175 Members of the House, and would ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals are protected under the law.

While many states have adopted numerous LGBT civil rights laws, there is currently no uniform federal standard that protects all LGBT Americans from discrimination.  The current patchwork of LGBT state laws has not only created an enormous amount of confusion and uncertainty, but it has impacted the safety and lives of LGBT Americans.  Under the current system, LGBT Americans are forced to choose where to live and work based on the legal protections available in a particular jurisdiction.

The Equality Act amends existing federal statutes to provide explicit, consistent protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of credit, education, employment, federal funding, housing, jury service, and public accommodations. By amending existing code, we extend the exact same protections to LGBT people, no more and no less, than exist for the protected classes of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

All Americans deserve equal protection under the law. We request that as the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to which this legislation has been referred, you recognize the vital importance of this issue by holding a hearing on the Equality Act, to be followed by the opportunity for passage by the Judiciary Committee and ultimately, by the House of Representatives.

We look forward to working with you on moving this historic legislation.

Sincerely,

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HRC and advocates across nation host readings of ‘I Am Jazz’ to support transgender youth http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/29/hrc-and-advocates-across-nation-host-readings-of-i-am-jazz-to-support-transgender-youth/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/29/hrc-and-advocates-across-nation-host-readings-of-i-am-jazz-to-support-transgender-youth/#respond Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:30:29 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70143
Jazz

Jazz Jennings

WASHINGTON — Thursday, parents, teachers and youth advocates across the nation stood up to efforts targeting transgender people, including a law recently passed in North Carolina, by holding more than 50 readings of “I Am Jazz,” a book by transgender teen and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation Youth  Ambassador Jazz Jennings.

The nationwide action involving more than 3,500 people in two dozen states was inspired by the residents of tiny Mount Horeb, WI., who unequivocally rebuked bigotry and censorship last year, showing up in numbers exceeding 600 at a public reading of “I Am Jazz.” The reading was organized by a caring parent after legal threats by an anti-LGBT hate group forced a local school to cancel plans to support a transgender student by reading the book in class.

Days later, the Mount Horeb school board adopted inclusive measures fully accommodating transgender students. Said one board member: “We will not be intimidated, and we will teach tolerance and will be accepting to everyone.”

The national reading effort was sponsored by HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program, the National Education Association (NEA) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). It united in action youth advocates across the country — including the mother of the Mt. Horeb transgender student; Jazz and her mom; and the book’s co-author Jessica Herthel — who are hosting readings of “I Am Jazz” in dozens of schools, churches, bookstores, homes, and community centers across the country. U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA, a member of the Transgender Equality Task Force, will read the book from the floor of the U.S. House.

“Mount Horeb parents and school leaders acted with courage and showed that love, indeed, conquers hate,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training. “Today, in dozens of communities across the country, people are standing up and supporting the full humanity of transgender children and youth by lifting up the values of respect, compassion and love. They know that there never has been a more important time to step up and speak up, helping all of our children thrive, and become better human beings for a better tomorrow.”

In a video (above) created for the first HRC-sponsored “I Am Jazz” national reading earlier this year, Jazz, a Youth Ambassador for the HRC Foundation, the educational arm of America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, thanks the caring people reading her book. Growing up transgender, she says, can be challenging, and kids–all kids–need the support, compassion and kindness of their parents, schools and friends.

HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier resource for LGBT-inclusive professional development tools, lessons and resources that help elementary schools across the nation embrace family diversity, prevent bias-based bullying and gender stereotyping, and support transgender and gender-expansive students. HRC’s Welcoming Schools has created this guide to help organizers of “I Am Jazz” reading events build more affirming and supportive spaces for transgender and gender-expansive youth across the country.

The story of Mount Horeb and its support for the young student and her family was featured

during the HRC Foundation’s annual Time to THRIVE conference in February, when the Foundation announced this second national day of action of “I Am Jazz” readings.

Follow “I Am Jazz” day of action events on Twitter at #ClosetheBookonHate and #LoveConquersHate.

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ACA condemns passage of Tennessee’s Hate Bill 1840 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/29/aca-condemns-passage-of-tennessees-hate-bill-1840/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/29/aca-condemns-passage-of-tennessees-hate-bill-1840/#respond Fri, 29 Apr 2016 15:45:35 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70156
ACAWASHINGTON, D.C.—Thursday, Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee followed in the footsteps of North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory and Mississippi’s Governor Phil Bryant to become the latest to sign into law discriminatory “religious freedom” legislation targeting the LGBTQ community. Tennessee’s HB 1840/SB 1556 permits counselors to deny services and refer clients based on the provider’s “strongly held beliefs” and makes Tennessee the only state in the country to invalidate the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) Code of Ethics.
Not only will the vague language of this legislation open a Pandora’s box of discrimination toward Tennesseans, but it also has the potential to
jeopardize the state’s federal healthcare funding and severely damage Tennessee’s bottom line as businesses and consumers react to the state’s entrance into the contentious national debate surrounding LGBTQ rights and religious freedom legislation.
Said Art Terrazas, the Director of Government Relations at the American Counseling Association, “We are extremely disappointed that Governor Haslam has ignored the lessons learned in North Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi and has elected to sign this dangerous bill into law. Plain and simple, this bill codifies discrimination. It not only disproportionately affects LGBTQ Tennesseans seeking counseling, but will also have unintended consequences that will reach Tennesseans in all walks of life—whether it’s a veteran suffering from PTSD, a woman suffering from spousal abuse, or a business owner simply trying to attract out of state clients. Despite this setback, the American Counseling Association remains committed to fighting legislation like this across the country and to ensuring that counselors who improperly or unethically refuse services to clients in need continue to be held accountable.”
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House Armed Services Committee votes to strip away LGBT non-discrimination protections http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/house-armed-services-committee-votes-to-strip-away-lgbt-non-discrimination-protections/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/house-armed-services-committee-votes-to-strip-away-lgbt-non-discrimination-protections/#comments Thu, 28 Apr 2016 19:26:00 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70135

WASHINGTON – Today the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment during the markup of the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Sponsored by anti-LGBT Representative Steve Russell (R-OK), the amendment would dismantle President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination in federal contracting based on sexual orientation or gender identity, under the guise of religious liberty.

“Rep. Russell’s harmful amendment would strip away existing protections for LGBT workers by undermining President Obama’s executive order on LGBT non-discrimination protections in federal contracting,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “Evidently some House Republicans want to emulate their state legislative colleagues in undermining legal protections for LGBT Americans. House Republican Leadership must get this language out of the bill.”

The Russell amendment was approved by a vote of 33-29 early this morning. It would allow sweeping, taxpayer-funded discrimination in an attempt to promote anti-LGBT religious-based discrimination in the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. With far-reaching intended and unintended consequences, the vague amendment could even undermine existing nondiscrimination provisions that protect workers, and perhaps even beneficiaries, against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.

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Drunk driver gets 14 years for killing Oscar Melero, injuring three others http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/drunk-driver-gets-14-years-for-killing-oscar-melero-injuring-three-others/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/drunk-driver-gets-14-years-for-killing-oscar-melero-injuring-three-others/#respond Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:07:13 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70094

The drunk driver who killed hair stylist Oscar Melero was sentenced April 20 to 14 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Charles Rogers ordered Abraham Granados Beltran, 25, to pay $13,400 in restitution for funeral expenses and gave him credit for 488 days in jail.

Melero, 52, worked at Indigo Salon & Spa in Hillcrest. A co-owner, several co-workers and his partner also spoke at the sentencing.

“The world is a lesser place since his passing. He strikes me as an exceptionally bright light,” said Rogers. “What a terrible loss.”

“If I could switch places (between) Mr. Melero and Mr. Beltran, with all due respect to Mr. Beltran, I would do it in a heartbeat,” said Rogers.

Melero was killed Feb. 15, 2015 while he was waiting in his car to participate in the California 10/20 run on Interstate 5 near Del Mar. Beltran, of San Juan Capistrano, struck Melero’s car at approximately 75 mph around 7 a.m. after partying and getting no sleep the night before, said prosecutor Cally Bright.

Beltran apologized for his actions. He also pleaded guilty to injuring three other people in the wreck. His attorney, Alma Cruz, said his guilty pleas resulted in “sparing everyone a trial.”

“I think redemption is beyond no person – a personal journey you must make,” said Rogers to Beltran.

A second-degree murder charge was added to the charges last May, but was dropped Feb. 26 when Beltran pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter. Beltran didn’t have a valid driver’s license at the time because it was revoked due to several drunk driving convictions in Orange County in 2011 and 2012.

Rogers fined him $720, but ordered the restitution be paid first.

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Skyy Fisher fires trial attorney, sentencing delayed http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/skyy-fisher-fires-trial-attorney-sentencing-delayed/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/skyy-fisher-fires-trial-attorney-sentencing-delayed/#comments Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:03:56 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70096

Skyy Fisher

A former Compton school board member who was convicted of a sex crime on a straight man got a new attorney Monday and sentencing was delayed until June 17.

Skyy De’Anthony Fisher, 32, fired his trial attorney and a deputy public defender was appointed by San Diego Superior Court Judge Runston Maino. Fisher was found guilty Jan. 28 of oral copulation on a sleeping straight man in his San Diego hotel room in 2014 after jurors deliberated only 45 minutes before finding him guilty in a three day trial.

The new attorney may want to file a motion for a new trial, but both the motion and sentencing would be heard June 13. Fisher could get a maximum eight year term in state prison.

The 25-year-old victim, who was referred to as Steve in court, testified he woke up April 4, 2014, and found Fisher orally copulating him. Steve testified Fisher quickly returned to his bed and denied giving him a blow job.

Steve called 911, and agreed to undergo a sexual assault exam. Fisher’s DNA from saliva was confirmed and was evidence at the trial. Fisher says he is straight also.

Fisher remains in the George Bailey Detention Facility without bail. He had been free on $100,000 bond, but Maino remanded him into jail after the verdict.

Fisher, a Democrat, was the youngest man at age 28 to be elected to the Compton Unified Board of Education in 2011, but was defeated for re-election Nov. 3, 2015 when he received 4.4 percent of the vote while this trial was pending.

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Kevin Melton: Ready to take on Todd Gloria in District 78 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/kevin-melton-ready-to-take-on-todd-gloria-in-district-78/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/kevin-melton-ready-to-take-on-todd-gloria-in-district-78/#respond Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:01:16 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70098

Kevin Melton

California Assembly District 78 is one of the most diverse districts in the state. This essentially coastal district stretches all the way from Solana Beach to the Mexican border. When the district hits the 8 it expands east taking in Old Town, North and South Park, Hillcrest and Kensington and up to College. Currently held by the ever popular Toni Atkins, who is timed out in 2016, the district is being contested by two candidates – San Diego Councilman Todd Gloria and Republican Kevin Melton. Gloria has been endorsed by Atkins and is clearly the favorite over Melton who ran unsuccessfully for the same seat in 2014.

Melton is a native of the Los Angeles area who ran for Los Angeles City Council in 2003 and again in 2007. Melton moved to San Diego in 2008 living in Pt. Loma and now currently downtown. He recently worked on the campaign finance committee to elect Kevin Faulconer as mayor.

He is involved in his 40+ year family real estate investment business in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas.

San Diego LGBT Weekly talked with Kevin Melton to understand his motivation for running for District 78 and how he thinks he is going to overturn LGBT favorite Gloria.

San Diego LGBT Weekly: Kevin, you have chosen a pretty tough race. In 2014, in the same district, you polled 11.6 percent of the vote in the primary. Your opponent Todd Gloria has been endorsed by Toni Atkins, and as a former San Diego City Council president and current councilmember has big name recognition. How are you going to do this?

Kevin Melton: My opponent only has name recognition in San Diego. He is now dealing with four other cities with their own mayor and council. If you go out of the immediate area I have found most residents do not even know who he is. As far as council president he was ousted by his own Democratic Party, which should give you some idea about his performance. He has been endorsed by Toni Atkins who bullied Marty Block – need I say anything else. I have the endorsement of the Log Cabin Republicans and the San Diego Republican Party and a host of high profile elected officials from all the five cities in my district. Also note this district has 70k Republicans, 80k Democrats and 75k Independents. The Independents will decide this race and they are fiscally conservative and socially moderate – that’s why I will win.

You state that you are running for the California State Assembly because “… it is time to bring honesty and integrity to Sacramento.” Specifically who and what are you referring in that statement?

I am talking about transparency. I am referring to all political people in Sacramento.

I am talking about when we send our hard-earned tax money to Sacramento for a specific task. That money should be used for that specific task to be carried out and not diverted to something else. If it’s to go to the classrooms for books – buy books, not pave a road.

One of your platforms is lowering taxes for both individuals and businesses. California’s debt is nearly $400 billion, so why would you propose tax cuts at this time?

When I refer to tax cuts I am talking about temporary taxes that get caught in the system and are never rescinded. For example Proposition 30 has an October expiration date and now there is a push to extend it.

District 78 is very diverse. How will you be an assemblymember for all the people?

I am an African American gentlemen; I know diversity. I have lived in South Central L.A., Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes, Point Loma and downtown San Diego. If anyone understands diversity it’s me. I know the needs of all these communities because I have lived it. The 78th Assembly District has all of these types of communities.

The Republican platform on LGBT rights is not a good one, as can be seen in the Republican presidential race. Why should a member of the LGBT community vote for you?

This is California; this is not the rest of the nation. We have a very diverse population and I believe in the rights of all people.

If elected, you have pledged to give $50,000 of your salary for use in classrooms in the district. Can you elaborate on that pledge?

There is no hidden meaning in this pledge. I will seek out the schools in my district, find out their needs and donate my own money to help. I believe in putting my money where my mouth is.

Finally, in a few words why should District 78 voters vote for you?

I say what I do, and I do what I say.

http://www.kevinmelton.net

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SDHDF and PFLAG to honor local students who have overcome challenges and achieved academic excellence http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/sdhdf-and-pflag-to-honor-local-students-who-have-overcome-challenges-and-achieved-academic-excellence/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/sdhdf-and-pflag-to-honor-local-students-who-have-overcome-challenges-and-achieved-academic-excellence/#respond Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:58:45 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70100

Back row, left to right: Hillary Flocke, Ian Morton, Arturo Soriano, Georgia Kenney, Dan Ferbal, Crystal Knight, Jordon Daniels, Drew Liam Jack, Vinnie Pompei, Terrie Vorono. Front row, left to right: Kimberly Martinez, Andria Montgomery, Mariel Hoac, Trevor Hill, Brayan Astorga, Francine Oca

Friday, May 13 San Diego’s LGBTQ community will honor nine local students poised to make a difference in our community at the 2016 Launching Leaders PFLAG Scholarship Awards Luncheon. Recipients represent a broad range of age and experiences and were chosen through a competitive selection process.

The Launching Leaders PFLAG Scholarships program recognizes the importance of higher education for members of the LGBTQ community. Even in 2016, LGBTQ high school students experience verbal slurs and harassment at a rate of up to 84 percent, creating a significant barrier to the desire to continue their education after graduating. While college and university campuses are making improvements to the LGBTQ climate, any assistance our community can give to bridge that step from high school to college is extremely significant.

The individual scholarships have their own specific focus. For instance, the Rob Benzon Memorial Scholarships highlight individuals who have overcome personal hardships to continue their education, the Mary Wagner Memorial Scholarship focuses on those who intend to enter the field of education, while the Richard Geyser Memorial Ethics Scholarship challenges prospective recipients to take on a current ethical problem and propose how they would address this issue.

In 2015, San Diego Human Dignity Foundation (SDHDF) partnered with PFLAG San Diego to create “Launching Leaders” as an event that would both highlight scholarship recipients and raise funds for a sustainable scholarship fund. “Our foundation’s commitment to the LGBTQ community must include the cultivation of future leaders,” explains John Brown, executive director, SDHDF.

The review process was managed by PFLAG Scholarship Chair Hillary Flocke. The panel included Donna Bowersox, Sherry Cohen-Richards, Tinesia Conwright, Drew Jack, Mark McClean, and Jason Schreiber. Each member reviewed the applications, letters of recommendation and essays from each candidate, to assess their choices for each scholarship.

“Through the essays of our applicants, we are reminded of the need to proactively support LGBTQ scholars,” says Jack, the former board president of SDHDF. “Some applicants have experienced barriers to their education such as homelessness, incarceration, HIV-infection, parental abandonment and bullying. However all candidates have chosen to incorporate these experiences into a place of strength.”

“The challenge to achieve academic excellence is a big one for young people, but to achieve academic excellence while living openly as LGBTQ is simply remarkable,” says Eugene La Pietra, founder of the La Pietra Foundation, which is the presenting sponsor of the luncheon.

Tickets for the May 13 luncheon are available at http://pflag.sdhdf.org

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After the murder of LGBT journalist and friend in Bangladesh, National Press Club urges justice http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/27/after-the-murder-of-lgbt-journalist-and-friend-in-bangladesh-national-press-club-urges-justice/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/27/after-the-murder-of-lgbt-journalist-and-friend-in-bangladesh-national-press-club-urges-justice/#respond Wed, 27 Apr 2016 21:33:41 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70029

WASHINGTON — National Press Club leaders expressed outrage Tuesday about the murder of two people, including a journalist, in Bangladesh.

Xulhaz Mannan, editor of Roopbaan, an LGBT magazine, and Tanay Mojumdar, a friend of Mannan’s, were hacked to death in Mannan’s apartment in the capital, Dhaka, on April 25, according to news reports. Ansar al-Islam, an Al Queda affiliated Islamist organization has taken responsibility for the attack, according to CNN.

Mannan was also a USAID worker and a prominent leader of the LGBT community of Bangladesh, where homosexuality is illegal. His murder is only the latest in a slew of brazen attacks on journalists, academics and human rights activists in the country.

“The brutal murders of journalists, academics and human rights activists in Bangladesh over the past year are deeply distressing,” said NPC President Thomas Burr. “The Bangladeshi government has a duty to protect journalists, to bring their murderers to justice and to ensure the right to free speech.”

“Mannan’s murder is not just an attack on another human being but an attack on free speech in one of the largest democracies in the world,” said Burr.

The National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the club promotes freedom of expression and transparency.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute is the club’s non-profit affiliate. It is committed to advancing journalistic practice by equipping professionals with the skills and competence to innovate, leveraging emerging trends, recognizing leaders and innovators, and mentoring the next generation of journalism and communications professionals.

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Oxford, Ala. City Council unanimously approves anti-transgender ordinance http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/27/oxford-ala-city-council-unanimously-approves-anti-transgender-ordinance/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/27/oxford-ala-city-council-unanimously-approves-anti-transgender-ordinance/#respond Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:31:51 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Today, the Oxford, Ala. City Council unanimously approved an anti-transgender ordinance that prevents transgender residents and visitors from using public restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity, and imposes a $500 fine or six months in jail on violators. This anti-transgender law is unprecedented in its establishment of criminal penalties for violations of the law, and raises a myriad of privacy and legal concerns, including questions about how the law will be enforced. There is no clarity on whether all people in Oxford will be expected to produce birth certificates when using public facilities or, if not, how law enforcement officials will obtain evidence.

“This ordinance is a shameful and vile attack on the rights and privacy of transgender people,” said HRC Alabama State Manager Eva Walton Kendrick. “Transgender people are our neighbors, our coworkers and our fellow churchgoers, and every Alabamian has the right to live their lives without fear of discrimination and prejudice. Throughout the country elected officials from both sides of the aisle, along with hundreds of business leaders and advocates throughout the country have resoundingly rejected these kinds of proposals, which only seek to demean and marginalize the transgender community.”

Despite claims to the contrary by anti-LGBT activists who have preyed on misinformation and ignorance, states with laws protecting transgender people’s access to the appropriate bathroom have seen no increase in public safety incidents. In fact, a coalition of more than 250 sexual assault prevention organizations released a statement last week decrying policies like the one passed in Oxford last night.

Oxford is now the first city in the nation to enact such a law attacking the transgender community, even as similar proposals have been rejected at the state level across the country. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed legislation that limited restroom use for transgender children in public schools earlier this year, and just last week, the sponsor of a similar bill in Tennessee announced plans to pull the legislation from consideration this legislative session.

With the passage of HB2, North Carolina became the first state to enact this type of legislation and is currently facing a federal court challenge and fierce backlash. Oxford’s ordinance is unprecedented in that it enumerates criminal penalties, including the potential for jail time, for violations. It also applies to bathrooms and locker rooms citywide, including in private businesses, which goes further than the similar provision in North Carolina’s law which applies to government buildings.

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Alabama continues to work to advance equality for LGBT Alabamians who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Alabama, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

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Trans woman settles human rights case with City of Hamilton http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/26/trans-woman-settles-human-rights-case-with-city-of-hamilton/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/26/trans-woman-settles-human-rights-case-with-city-of-hamilton/#respond Tue, 26 Apr 2016 20:02:42 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70007

HAMILTON, Ont. – The City of Hamilton reached an agreement to settle a human rights application involving a trans woman who was denied access to the women’s washroom at the MacNab Bus Terminal in Hamilton by a City employee. The trans woman was provided access to the family washroom.

The City of Hamilton recognizes the right of trans people set out in Ontario’s Human Rights Code which includes the right to access facilities in accordance with their self-identified gender identity. The City is committed to communicating that a trans person will not be required to use a separate facility because of the preferences or negative attitudes of others.  The City is committed to providing accommodation options for washrooms and change rooms on an individualized basis.

As part of the resolution of the human rights application, the City of Hamilton has agreed to codify these principles into written policy, train its employees on the policy and post signage confirming its commitment to providing safe and accessible washroom/changeroom spaces for all. The City of Hamilton and its employees are committed to providing services and facilities to its citizens in a manner consistent with all legislative requirements, including the Human Rights Code of Ontario, as it applies to all grounds, including gender identity and gender expression.

“Taking legal action doesn’t make the pain go away, but I hope employees will be more aware and respectful in the future,” said the applicant, who was not named to protect her privacy.

Clara Matheson, the applicant’s lawyer from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre commented, “We were pleased to facilitate this agreement with the municipality.  Policies and procedures that serve to protect the rights of trans persons in accessing facilities lead the way to a more inclusive environment in which people can thrive.”

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Equality California announces 2016 legislative package http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/26/equality-california-announces-2016-legislative-package/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/26/equality-california-announces-2016-legislative-package/#respond Tue, 26 Apr 2016 18:00:03 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70004

EQCA 1SACRAMENTO — Equality California Monday announced seven bills comprising its 2016 legislative package.

“Each of our sponsored bills advances a key portion of the mission we unveiled in 2014,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “Laws surrounding HIV transmission continue to stigmatize people living with HIV and must be modernized.  LGBT people are targets of discrimination both inside and outside of California. LGBT kids are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBT peers. Transgender and gender non-conforming people face harassment and violence, often when just trying to use the restroom. These bills begin to address these disparities in LGBT health and wellbeing, and more.”

This year, Equality California is sponsoring the following bills:

AB 2246 – Suicide Prevention Policies in Schools

AB 2246, authored by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), would require schools to adopt policies to give teachers the tools necessary to identify and combat teen suicide. With studies showing that LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBT peers, this bill is of particular importance to LGBT students. The bill is co-sponsored by Equality California and The Trevor Project.

SB 1408 – HIV Organ and Tissue Donation Equity

SB 1408, authored by Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), would allow for organ and tissue donation between HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive recipients, bringing state law in line with federal law under the HOPE Act. Permitting donated, HIV-positive organs and tissue to be used for transplantation in HIV-positive patients has the potential to save the lives of hundreds of HIV-positive patients each year, as well as shorten the waiting list for individuals awaiting transplants. SB 1408 is co-sponsored by Equality California, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Positive Women’s Network-USA.

AB 1887 – Prevent California-Funded Travel to States with A License to Discriminate

AB 1887, authored by Asm. Evan Low (D-Campbell), would prohibit state-funded or sponsored travel to a state that, after June 26, 2015, has enacted a law that voids or repeals existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, or has enacted a law that authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families on those bases. AB 1887 is co-sponsored by Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

AB 1888 – Cal Grant Disinvestment in Discrimination

AB 1888, also authored by Asm. Low, would eliminate the use of Cal Grant funding at California academic institutions that seek waivers to allow them to discriminate against students or employees based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.  AB 1888 is co-sponsored by Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

AB 1732 – The Equal Restroom Access Act

AB 1732, authored by Asm. Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) would enact the most progressive statewide restroom access policy in the nation, requiring all single-occupancy restrooms in businesses, government buildings and places of public accommodation to be available to everyone. Restricting access to single-occupancy restrooms by gender creates problems of safety, fairness, and convenience for LGBT people and many others, including families and people with disabilities. Compliance with the bill is a matter of changing a sign on a restroom door. The bill is co-sponsored by Equality California, the Transgender Law Center and California NOW.

AB 1675 – Diversion Instead of Prosecution for Juvenile Victims

AB 1675, authored by Asm. Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), would ensure that minors who participate in acts of prostitution are treated as victims of sexual exploitation instead of as criminals.

Over the past few years, some lawmakers have attempted to pass draconian measures that would increase punishment for young people involved in acts of prostitution. However, criminalizing minors, many of whom engage in sex work simply to survive, continues a pattern of blaming the victim without looking at the heart of the issue. These laws disproportionately affect LGBT youth, many of whom have been forced from their homes due to lack of acceptance or even hostility from their own families and engage in sex work to survive. AB 1675 would provide the much-needed diversion and support this vulnerable population requires.  This bill is sponsored by Equality California.

SB 1005 – Modernizing Code Language to Reflect Marriage Equality

SB 1005, authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), amends various sections of California law to reflect the fact that marriage equality is now law in California, including replacing references to “husband” and “wife” with “spouse” and clarifying that “spouse” also applies to a domestic partner. This bill is sponsored by Equality California.

Equality California adopted a new mission in 2014 dedicated to achieving full equality and acceptance in California and beyond, reducing the glaring disparities in health and wellbeing that the LGBT community suffers in comparison with non-LGBT people, and creating a fair and just society for LGBT people and all the diverse communities of which we are a part. This expanded mission guides this year’s legislative package.

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Hundreds of thousands call for repeal of North Carolina anti-LGBT law as legislature returns http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/25/hundreds-of-thousands-call-for-repeal-of-north-carolina-anti-lgbt-law-as-legislature-returns/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/25/hundreds-of-thousands-call-for-repeal-of-north-carolina-anti-lgbt-law-as-legislature-returns/#respond Mon, 25 Apr 2016 19:19:48 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69993

RALEIGH, N.C. – Nearly 190,000 signatures demanding the repeal of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2 were delivered to the office of Gov. Pat McCrory today by a collection of civil rights, faith, business, and advocacy groups as the state legislature returns for the first time since it introduced and passed the law limiting legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in a one-day special session on March 23. Thousands of people are expected to rally for the discriminatory law’s repeal outside the legislature throughout Monday.

Today’s petition delivery was coordinated by TurnOUT! NC, a joint project of the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality, and Equality North Carolina, whose goal is to mobilize and empower LGBT and pro-equality North Carolinians against HB 2.

“For more than a month, Governor McCrory, Senator Berger, and Speaker Moore have sat idly by as HB 2 has cost North Carolina millions, badly damaged their state’s reputation, and inflicted irreparable harm on the people they were elected to serve,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “The catastrophe these leaders have created and the damage they have caused can only begin to be reversed by repealing HB 2 in its entirety and replacing it with commonsense non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. To do anything less would be to continue their streak of gross negligence. The time for leadership is now.”

“It’s time the legislature get to work repairing the damage it has caused with the passage of HB 2,” said Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, which is challenging the law in federal court along with the national ACLU and Lambda Legal on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians. “HB 2 was a reckless attempt to malign and marginalize transgender people, and it is bringing immense harm to our state’s people, economy, and reputation. The General Assembly must work as expeditiously as possible to repeal this terrible law as it worked to pass it.”

“HB2 is a blatant, unconstitutional attack on the transgender community in North Carolina and we call for its immediate repeal. We must come together as a community to organize and support each other to make North Carolina safe for all of its citizens,” said Ivy Hill, LGBT Rights Toolkit Coordinator for the Campaign for Southern Equality.

“House Bill 2 is a deeply discriminatory bill that has put the most vulnerable people of our community at risk. This bill is a mess that Governor McCrory and NCGA leadership have made for us. In a special session – in just 12 hours – they passed a bill without ever meeting the people that are directly impacted by the law – transgender North Carolinians,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “Over the last month, Business leaders, entertainers, advocates and everyday North Carolinians have mobilized and called for the repeal of HB 2. Senator Berger, Speaker Moore, and Governor McCrory can no longer ignore the havoc the bill has wreaked on the state. The only way to restore North Carolina’s reputation is to repeal all of HB 2 and pass comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that protect all North Carolinians.”

Since Gov. McCrory signed HB 2, a host of high-profile Republicans, including Sen. Mark Kirk, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, have spoken out against HB 2 and similar bills.

More than 180 leading CEOs and business executives of major companies, including Apple, Bank of America, and Marriott International have called for HB 2’s repeal. The law has led Paypal to cancel a major expansion that would have brought more than 400 jobs to North Carolina, and Deutsche Bank to halt plans to add 250 jobs in the state. Major artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and Pearl Jam, have cancelled performances in North Carolina as a result of HB 2, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday that the league will move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte if the law is not repealed.

In the federal court challenge, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina argue that through HB 2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. The complaint argues that HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and invading the privacy of transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.

The Obama administration is presently considering whether HB 2 makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways, and housing. North Carolina receives more than $4.5 billion in federal funding for secondary and post-secondary schools, all of which remains at jeopardy given the state’s policy of systemically violating Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students. On April 19, the federal appeals court that has jurisdiction over North Carolina ruled in a separate case that Title IX protects the rights of transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities, such as restrooms, that are consistent with their gender identity.

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Ted Cruz releases new transphobic ad (VIDEO) http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/25/ted-cruz-releases-new-transphobic-ad-video/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/25/ted-cruz-releases-new-transphobic-ad-video/#comments Mon, 25 Apr 2016 18:56:46 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69989

Ted Cruz has released a new campaign ad attacking transgender people. Released Thursday, Cruz’s ad highlights his support for North Carolina’s HB2, an anti-LGBT law that forces transgender North Carolinians to use restroom facilities in schools and on publicly-owned property inconsistent with their gender identity. HB2 also attacks minorities by blocking individuals from suing under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and sex. Moreover, HB2 bars municipalities from enacting their own non-discrimination protections.

“Ted Cruz’s transphobic smear campaign peddles a dangerous brand of hate and ignorance,” said HRC Communications Director Jay Brown. “At a time when transgender women are at a disproportionately high risk for violence and assault, Ted Cruz’s reckless ad puts them at even greater risk. Moreover, what message does Ted Cruz think this sends to transgender youth across this country? We deserve a president who’ll fight to protect the rights and dignity of everyone — not a reckless, feckless politician who’ll do or say anything to score a point.”

Today, transgender Americans face an epidemic of bias-motivated violence — particularly transgender women of color. Cruz’s video exacerbates an environment where already four in 10 transgender young people report being bullied by their peers, according to an HRC youth survey.

Ted Cruz has made anti-transgender rhetoric an integral part of his bid for the White House. Just this week, his campaign threw a transgender teenager out of a campaign event. During a prior campaign stop in Iowa, he turned a simple question on education into a bigoted rant against the Obama Administration’s decision to support a transgender student, falsely accusing officials of forcing the school to “let a little boy take showers with junior high girls.” Previously, Cruz made equally offensive comments during an interview with conservative radio host Steven Crowder.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Cruz has decried efforts to lift the ban prohibiting transgender Americans from serving openly in the military, even though the American Medical Association approved a resolution earlier last year that said, there is “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from service in the U.S. military.”

H.B. 2 is opposed by more than 180 major businesses, entertainment and sports leaders, and a majority of North Carolinians. In fact, 61 percent say H.B. 2 has hurt the state’s image nationally and 61 percent also say the law has hurt the state’s ability to attract and retain business. A 64 percent majority of North Carolinians support LGBT nondiscrimination protections. Nationally, nearly 8 out of 10 Americans believe LGBT people are entitled to federal nondiscrimination protections.

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Commentary: Yes Hillary, it should be Warren http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/24/commentary-yes-hillary-it-should-be-warren/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/24/commentary-yes-hillary-it-should-be-warren/#respond Sun, 24 Apr 2016 14:00:43 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69961

Clinton WarrenAs the media now pivots to vice presidential candidates for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, she should take a page out of her husband’s playbook and buck conventional wisdom.

When Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton picked Tennessee Senator Al Gore as his running mate for the presidency, conventional political wisdom believed the choice of Gore was a mistake. Two Southerners just did not make sense. Everyone believed that Bill Clinton should have selected someone to broaden his appeal geographically, as well as to bring the party together; someone from Northeast or the West, heck even someone from the Plain states. Just not another Southerner. Hillary, your husband bucked conventional wisdom and so should you.

Picking Elizabeth Warren as your VP candidate will unite the Democratic Party. Warren represents all the Sanders supporters want; progressive views that take on Wall Street greed and address income inequality. Hillary, you can announce that Warren will be chartered with addressing income inequality and investigating how to create equity in the tax code.

The great thing is that you can have your cake and eat it too. Hillary, you would be bucking conventional wisdom by picking a female northeasterner like yourself, but also be embracing conventional wisdom by balancing the ticket with a progressive on the ticket that represents all that the Bernie Sanders campaign has achieved.

Your all-female ticket would be historic in itself. Just as the Clinton-Gore ticket was historic; the youngest ticket in history, two Southerners and two guys from the Ivy League. Clinton-Warren would be two women from the Northeast, one totally progressive, the other moderate, for who Republican moderate women would quietly enter the voting booth and pull the lever. A female ticket that would fundamentally change Washington.

I know brothers, and political rising stars, Joaquin and Julian Castro are on your short list for vice president. They have time to be chosen and to run. Hillary, pick Warren and give women the opportunity to say “we too are qualified” in the voting booth. You believe it and so does America.

This article was first published on HuffPost Politics Front Page

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President Obama: NC and Mississippi laws ‘are wrong and should be overturned’ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/23/president-obama-nc-and-mississippi-laws-are-wrong-and-should-be-overturned/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/23/president-obama-nc-and-mississippi-laws-are-wrong-and-should-be-overturned/#comments Sat, 23 Apr 2016 14:00:06 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69945

President Barrack Obama spoke at a press conference in London Friday calling the recent laws passed in North Carolina and Mississippi “wrong” and that they “should be overturned.”

Speaking alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron on his fifth visit to the U.K., President Obama was responding to a journalist who asked him to comment on the recent Foreign Office travel advisory warning U.K. citizens about the new laws in those states.

In its warning to travelers, the foreign office wrote, “The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country.” The two anti-LGBT laws that the U.K. foreign office was referring to are North Carolina’s House Bill 2 and Mississippi’s House Bill 1523.

The president responded, “I want everybody here in the United Kingdom to know that the people of North Carolina and Mississippi are wonderful people.  They are hospitable people.  They are beautiful states, and you are welcome and you should come and enjoy yourselves.  And I think you’ll be treated with extraordinary hospitality.

“I also think that the laws that have been passed there are wrong and should be overturned.  And they’re in response to politics, in part; in part, some strong emotions that are  generated by people — some of whom are good people but I just disagree with when it comes to respecting the equal rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, whether they’re transgender or gay or lesbian.  And although I respect their different viewpoints, I think it’s very important for us not to send signals that anybody is treated differently.

“And I think it’s fair to say that we’re not unique among countries where — particularly under a federal system in which power is dispersed, that there are going to be some localities or local officials that put forward laws that aren’t necessarily reflective of a national consensus.  But if you guys come to North Carolina or Mississippi, everybody will be treated well.”

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HRC calls out North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger on HB 2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/22/hrc-calls-out-north-carolina-senate-president-pro-tem-phil-berger-on-hb-2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/22/hrc-calls-out-north-carolina-senate-president-pro-tem-phil-berger-on-hb-2/#respond Fri, 22 Apr 2016 20:49:29 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69935
Phil Berger

Phil Berger

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) called out North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger for his campaign of hate against transgender people. Repeatedly, Berger, the top ranking official in the North Carolina State Senate, has taken to social media to spread hateful anti-transgender rhetoric and lies about his shameful and discriminatory HB2 law. Here are 5 of Senator Berger’s worst lies and attacks on transgender North Carolinians:

1.      BERGER: “Federal Judges Could Force Middle School Boys and Girls to Use Same Bathrooms, Locker Rooms: http://goo.gl/smKznn #NCGA #NCPOL” [Twitter, @SenatorBerger, 4/19/2016]

In a statement released after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that civil rights protections can be extended to transgender students, Sen. Berger exhibited deep ignorance of both the law and transgender people, claiming that allowing a transgender student to use facilities consistent with their gender identity was the same as “forcing” students to integrate gender-segregated facilities. Wrong.

2.      BERGER: “Mayor @jenrobertsnc’ Radical Bathroom Sharing Ordinance Costs Charlotte PayPal: http://goo.gl/1a75xR #NCGA #NCPOL” [Twitter, @SenatorBerger, 4/19/2016]

Sen. Berger flat out lied when he asserted that PayPal’s decision to seek an alternative location for its new “global operations center” was in response to Charlotte’s LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. PayPal changed its plans to build a North Carolina center, which would have created 400 jobs, because of the discriminatory HB 2. They even announced it in a press release. PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman is also one of the more than 180 business leaders who have signed onto an open letter to both Sen. Berger and Gov. Pat McCrory calling for the repeal of HB 2.

3.      BERGER: “…Roy Cooper …failed to do his job and protect our children.” [Facebook, /SenatorBerger, 3/23/2016]

Berger lobbed this attack at North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who said he would not defend the discriminatory HB2 bill in court because it is unconstitutional. Cooper, whose job specifically requires him to uphold the constitution and safeguard the rights of children — including transgender children — across the state has done his job exactly right. Moreover, a Fourth Circuit decision this week supports Roy Cooper’s position by ruling that it is a violation of federal civil rights law for schools to force transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity. And the American Academy of Pediatrics recently spoke out against this bill on behalf of North Carolina’s trans youth, stating HB 2 goes against the health, safety and well-being of transgender children.

4.      BERGER: HB2 is “the common sense bathroom safety bill protecting the privacy and safety of women and children throughout North Carolina.” [Facebook, /SenatorBerger, 4/2/2016]

HB 2 does nothing to protect North Carolina’s women and children. In fact, beyond eliminating cities’ ability to create their own protections for the LGBT community, it removed people’s ability, including women experiencing sex discrimination, to sue under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, religion, national origin and sex. Now, North Carolinians have no state-based recourse when they experience discrimination – that’s not common sense at all.

5.      BERGER: “QUESTION: Why is Roy Cooper making it easier for peepers like this to sneak into women’s bathrooms and young girls’ locker rooms?” [Facebook, /SenatorBerger, 4/11/2016]

In voting for HB 2, Sen. Berger took action that has harmed young girls — specifically, young trans girls who are now forced to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity. Yesterday, a broad coalition of more than 250 sexual assault and domestic violence organizations, led by the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, released a powerful statement calling for the end to the scourge of discriminatory anti-transgender legislation, highlighting that outrageous rhetoric, including that employed by Sen. Berger, is not only demonstrably false, but terribly dangerous.

For more on the lies spread by North Carolina’s anti-LGBT leadership, watch HRC’s “True or False” video, which debunks the worst of Governor McCrory’s smears, such as saying transgender equality is somehow new, even though non-discrimination protections just like those passed in Charlotte have been around for decades and exist in 18 states and more than 100 cities – including nearly all of the nation’s largest cities.

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Jackson Public School Board unanimously adopts LGBT-inclusive employment policy http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/22/jackson-public-school-board-unanimously-adopts-lgbt-inclusive-employment-policy/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/22/jackson-public-school-board-unanimously-adopts-lgbt-inclusive-employment-policy/#respond Fri, 22 Apr 2016 20:42:52 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69932

JACKSON, Miss. – Today the Jackson Public School Board of Trustees voted unanimously to extend fully-inclusive sexual orientation and gender identity workplace protections to their employees. With almost 30,000 students, the Jackson Public School district is second largest in the state and one of the first in the Mississippi Public School system to grant employment protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff members.

“Every Mississippian, no matter who they are or whom they love, has the right to earn an honest living and provide for their families without fear of prejudice and discrimination in the workplace,” said HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill. “As state lawmakers roll back the rights of LGBT Mississippians, we commend the Jackson Public School board members for doing what they can to safeguard these necessary protections for all their employees.”

Superintendent Dr. Cedrick Gray shared, “I am proud to announce the Board of Trustees for Jackson Public Schools has revised its policies to reflect that the District shall not discriminate against any individual because of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity.”

The Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted 5-0 to approve the updated policy, which goes into effect immediately.

This week’s vote comes as the Mississippi State Legislature is facing fierce backlash for the passage of HB 1523 — a deeply discriminatory law that allows almost any individual or organization to use religion to justify discrimination against a host of Mississippians, including LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples and others. Major national and local businesses are calling for repeal, and performers like Bryan Adams, and most recently Tracy Morgan, have cancelled shows in the state, while actress Sharon Stone has cancelled a film shoot. ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who is featured as the welcoming face of the Hospitality State’s official tourism guide, also decried the legislation, as did native Mississippian actress Sela Ward. Earlier this month, nearly 100 prominent writers from the state, including John Grisham and Kathryn Stockett, also signed a letter protesting the discriminatory law.

On Sunday, May 1, HRC Mississippi will join local advocates in a rally calling on Governor Bryant, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip A. Gunn to listen to fair-minded Mississippians, and repeal H.B. 1523. The rally will culminate in a march from the Mississippi State Capitol to the Governor’s mansion.

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Mississippi continues to work to advance equality for LGBT Mississippians who have no state level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations. Through HRC Mississippi, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

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NBA commissioner warns All-Star Game will be moved out of NC If lawmakers fail to change HB 2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/22/nba-commissioner-warns-all-star-game-will-be-moved-out-of-nc-if-lawmakers-fail-to-change-hb-2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/22/nba-commissioner-warns-all-star-game-will-be-moved-out-of-nc-if-lawmakers-fail-to-change-hb-2/#comments Fri, 22 Apr 2016 20:34:37 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69929
Adam Silver

Adam Silver

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s radical anti-LGBT HB 2 must be changed or the league will move the 2017 All-Star Game out of the state. The commissioner’s comments come just days before the North Carolina General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene.

Thursday at the Associated Press Sports Editors’ commissioner meetings, Silver said of the league’s plan to hold the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte: “We’ve been, I think, crystal clear a change in the law is necessary for us to play in the kind of environment that we think is appropriate for a celebratory NBA event.”

“Commissioner Silver’s comments are crystal clear: If Governor McCrory, Senator Berger, and state lawmakers do not act immediately to repeal their deeply discriminatory HB 2 law, North Carolina will lose the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, costing the state and regional businesses millions of dollars,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The economic catastrophe Governor McCrory has inflicted on North Carolina can only be  repaired by repealing this draconian law and replacing it with commonsense non-discrimination protections for LGBT people across the state.”

Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers are under increasingly intense pressure to repeal the discriminatory HB 2 in next week’s legislative session. Mayors and governors across the country are banning travel to the state, musicians are cancelling concerts, and the New York Times editorial board called North Carolina a “pioneer in bigotry.” Major film studios and corporations, from PayPal to Deutsche Bank, have stopped investments in the state because of the new law. The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office has even warned its LGBT citizens of the risks of traveling to North Carolina. More than 180 leading CEOs and business leaders are urging Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the deeply discriminatory law that’s bad for business and bad for North Carolina.

HB 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. In addition, the legislation prevents transgender students in public schools from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in publicly-owned buildings, including in public universities, major airports, and convention centers. Further, HB 2 revokes the ability to sue under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, religion, national origin, and sex.  Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session, and Gov. McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night. The discriminatory law is already facing a legal challenge, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said he will refuse to defend it in court.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were rejected across the country this year — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to massive liability and putting an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as funding received by schools from other federal agencies, at risk. This section of HB 2 offers costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it forces schools to choose between complying with federal law — plus doing the right thing for their students — or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights. Read more about how this bill puts federal funding at risk here.

While the governor’s recent executive order extends protections to some state workers, it does nothing to fix the vile and discriminatory provisions he signed into law through HB 2. Under HB 2, transgender people are prohibited from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in public buildings, including the University of North Carolina campus and the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Cities still cannot adopt ordinances to prohibit discrimination against their residents and visitors. And HB 2 still prevents individuals from bringing discrimination suit in state courts.

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Sen. Leno’s Foreclosure Prevention Bill passes key committee http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/21/sen-lenos-foreclosure-prevention-bill-passes-key-committee/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/21/sen-lenos-foreclosure-prevention-bill-passes-key-committee/#comments Thu, 21 Apr 2016 17:30:21 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69896
Mark Leno

Mark Leno

SACRAMENTO – The Senate Banking Committee Wednesday passed legislation that helps prevent unnecessary foreclosures when a primary mortgage holder passes away. Senate Bill 1150, authored by Senators Mark Leno and Cathleen Galgiani, closes a loophole in California law that fails to provide surviving spouses and children important protections against foreclosure that are available to other homeowners.

“Instead of getting basic information on how to proceed with a home loan following the death of a loved one, surviving spouses and children face a labyrinth of paperwork and conflicting directions and requests, which only prolongs their grief,” said Senator Leno. “Many family members unnecessarily lose their homes without ever knowing they had the right to assume the loan or seek foreclosure remedies. Before more families give up, we must step in.”

Cathleen Galgiani

Cathleen Galgiani

In 2012, California led the nation in providing foreclosure relief for homeowners by passing the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights. However, this legislation did not protect surviving family members who own their homes but are not listed on the mortgage. These survivors report that lenders refuse to communicate with them or fail to provide factual information about loan details and foreclosure avoidance programs. As a result, many families have endured unnecessary foreclosures.

SB 1150 clarifies the responsibilities of a mortgage lender when a borrower dies and one of the surviving homeowners wishes to assume the loan. The legislation ensures that heirs receive accurate information about loan assumption and foreclosure prevention programs. It also gives survivors a single point of contact with the lender and the ability to simultaneously apply for loan assumption and modification.

SB 1150 is sponsored by the California Alliance for Retired Americans, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates and California Reinvestment Coalition. The bill is also supported by Attorney General Kamala Harris, AARP and the California District Attorneys Association, as well as a long list of civil rights, housing and labor organizations. The bill will be heard next in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Alabama House Committee advances LGBT-inclusive hate crimes legislation http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/21/alabama-house-committee-advances-lgbt-inclusive-hate-crimes-legislation/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/21/alabama-house-committee-advances-lgbt-inclusive-hate-crimes-legislation/#respond Thu, 21 Apr 2016 17:00:55 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69893

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Wednesday, the Alabama House Judiciary Committee’s 7-5 voted to advance H.B. 413 —  legislation that would add to the state’s hate crimes statute critical new protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Juandalynn Givan and Patricia Todd, now heads to the full Alabama House for consideration.

“Hate-motivated crimes are vicious, brutal acts that not only cause extraordinary harm to victims and their families, but also instill fear in the entire community that is targeted,” said Eva Walton Kendrick, HRC Alabama State Manager. “All Alabamians should have the opportunity to live their lives free from fear and discrimination, and passing this legislation would be a deeply significant step forward for the state. We thank Reps. Givan and Todd for their leadership on this issue, and urge the Alabama Legislature to continue this momentum by passing H.B. 413.”

Rep. Givan, who also introduced a same-sex marriage recognition bill this session, boldly reintroduced H.B. 413 today after it was voted down by a voice vote last week.

In 1994, the Alabama legislature passed a hate crimes law mandating  harsher sentences for perpetrators who commit crimes motivated by the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, and physical and mental health. H.B. 413 extends those same penalties to crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.

Alabama is one of 20 states that do not have hate crimes laws explicitly protecting sexual orientation or gender identity.

Today’s pro-equality vote comes as the Alabama State Legislature is considering two harmful anti-LGBT bills that would allow state-licensed adoption and foster-care agencies to disregard the best interest of children and prioritize religious-based discrimination. An agency could turn away qualified LGBT couples; interfaith couples; single parents; married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced; or any other parent seeking to care for a child in need to whom the agency has a religious objection. Chief executives of major child advocacy organizations have come out strongly against this type of legislation in a letter hand-delivered to state lawmakers.

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Alabama continues to work to advance equality for LGBT Alabamians who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Alabama, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

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The U.K. warns tourists about anti-LGBT laws in North Carolina and Mississippi http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/21/the-u-k-warns-tourists-about-anti-lgbt-laws-in-north-carolina-and-mississippi/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/21/the-u-k-warns-tourists-about-anti-lgbt-laws-in-north-carolina-and-mississippi/#respond Thu, 21 Apr 2016 16:00:11 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69888

Foreign OfficeThe United Kingdom’s Foreign Office warned its LGBT citizens of the risks of traveling to North Carolina and Mississippi, which have enacted anti-LGBT laws. The updated travel warning comes just ahead of President Obama’s planned visit to England.

The new Foreign Office advice states: “The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country. Laws vary from state to state. When you are physically present in a state, even temporarily, you are subject to that state’s laws. You must carry a passport showing that you have leave to enter or remain with you at all times. LGBT travellers may be affected by legislations passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi.Before travelling please read our general travel advice for the LGBT community. You can find more detail on LGBT issues in the US on the Website of the Human Rights Campaign.”

Reacting to the new advisory Director of HRC Global.Ty Cobb said, “It is both frightening and embarrassing that one of our nation’s staunchest allies has warned its citizens to of the risks of traveling to North Carolina and Mississippi because of anti-LGBT laws passed by their elected officials. It is now more clear than ever that these terrible measures are not only harming individuals and taking an economic toll on the states, but are also causing serious damage to our nation’s reputation, and the perceived safety of LGBT people who travel here.”

The Independent reported that Dr Felicity Dahttp, director of the LGBT Kaleidoscope Trust said, “It is heartening the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is becoming more LGBT responsive in their work, it’s a good sign as it is an important issue in the UK, but most people who identify as LGBT in the UK will already be aware of the nature of certain states.”

Matt Horwood of Stonewall charity said: “What’s happened in Mississippi and North Carolina proves that equality is never secure. It’s positive to see the UK government recognise this need and update its travel advice pages accordingly.”

North Carolina’s  H.B. 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. In addition, the legislation prevents transgender students in public schools from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in publicly-owned buildings, including in public universities, major airports, and convention centers. Further, HB 2 revokes the ability to sue under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, religion, national origin, and sex.

North Carolina lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session, and Governor Pat McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night. The discriminatory law is already facing a legal challenge, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said he will refuse to defend it in court.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of  becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were being rejected across the country — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. Earlier this week, the sponsor of a similar bill in Tennessee announced plans to pull the discriminatory legislation from consideration this year, after outcry from tens of thousands of fair-minded Tennesseans; major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; country music stars; and major business leaders. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Attorney General Slatery had also expressed concerns about the state losing millions of dollars in federal funds.

In Mississippi, the the so-called “Religious Liberty Accommodations Act,” H.B. 1523 would allow almost any individual or organization to use religion to justify discrimination against LGBT Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at school and in their communities. Tax-payer funded faith-based organizations could: refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for provision of critical services including emergency shelter; deny children in need of loving homes placement with LGBT families including the child’s own family member; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person — even if the organization receives government funding. It would also give foster families the freedom to subject an LGBTQ child or a pregnant unwed girl to abuse, without fear of government intervention or license suspension.

Furthermore, under H.B. 1523 schools, employers, and service providers could refuse transgender people access to appropriate sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity — all in direct conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice’s enforcement of federal law. HB 1523 even legalizes Kim Davis-style discrimination by allowing government employees to abdicate their duties and refuse to license or solemnize marriages for LGBT people.

 

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American Counseling Association and Tennessee Equality Project call on Gov. Haslam to veto Hate Bill 1840 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/american-counseling-association-and-tennessee-equality-project-call-on-gov-haslam-to-veto-hate-bill-1840/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/american-counseling-association-and-tennessee-equality-project-call-on-gov-haslam-to-veto-hate-bill-1840/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 19:47:16 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69879
Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam

The Tennessee General Assembly recently voted to pass HB 1840/SB 1556. Also known as Hate Bill 1840, HB1840 will permit counselors to deny services and refer clients based on the provider’s “strongly held beliefs.” Not only is the proposed legislation discriminatory in nature, but it is also an unnecessary government intrusion that could result in costly unintended consequences for the state of Tennessee. Today, national and state leaders gathered on a press call to discuss the implications of this harmful legislation and call on Governor Haslam to do the right thing and veto the bill.

If the Governor signs the bill into law, Tennessee will become the only state in the country to invalidate the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics and the vague language will open a Pandora’s box of discrimination toward Tennesseans, most blatantly toward the LGBT community.
“This is the first time in the history of the Association that any legislative body—local, state, federal—has ever passed a piece of legislation specifically targeting our code of ethics, that has never been done,” said Art Terrazas, Director of Government Relations, American Counseling Association. “This bill opens the door to blanket discrimination—whether it’s a veteran suffering from PTSD or a woman suffering from spousal abuse— and we at the American Counseling Association are not going to stand for that. Governor Haslam now has a choice. He can either follow the  heroic example set by Governor Deal of Georgia and veto this terrible legislation, or he can be on the wrong side of history and legalize discrimination.”
“I want to say strongly and clearly—this bill codifies the ability of counselors to discriminate,” added John Duggan, Licensed Professional Counselor and Manager of Professional Development at the American Counseling Association, “It creates a dilemma that will leave clients in a very difficult situation and something that as a licensed counselor, I cannot wrap my head around. Refusing to see a client  because of their gender identity or sexual orientation after establishing a relationship is abandonment plain and simple and that is not and should not be permitted.”
Chris Sanders, Executive Director, Tennessee Equality Project concluded, “If this bill is enacted, the eyes of the country will turn to Tennessee, and I fear we will reap the whirlwind. After enacting similar legislation, Georgia and North Carolina saw a huge loss of investment in their states. But, unlike those states, Tennessee does not have an income tax, so we rely heavily on tourism and the investment of national companies. If our long term economic development is thwarted by this legislation, it’s hard to know how Tennessee will move forward. We’ve come to a critical point, and Tennesseans have to choose between prosperity or discrimination.”
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Federal court decision upholds civil rights protections for transgender students http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/federal-court-decision-upholds-civil-rights-protections-for-transgender-students/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/federal-court-decision-upholds-civil-rights-protections-for-transgender-students/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 19:36:42 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69875

Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the U.S. Department of Education’s assertion that federal civil rights laws protect transgender students from discrimination.

In a 2-1 decision, the court affirmed the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 as protecting transgender students from discrimination, including allowing them to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. The ruling came in the case of Gavin Grimm, a 16-year-old high school student and transgender teen, whose lawsuit against Virginia’s Gloucester County School District alleges the district violated Title IX by denying him use of  the boy’s restroom.

While today’s ruling guarantees  protections for transgender students in North Carolina, it does not address the other  discriminatory provisions contained in HB2. As a result, HRC continues to call for full repeal of the discriminatory HB2 law, which also prevents transgender youth and adults from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in all government-owned buildings, including in libraries, major airports, and convention centers. HB2 also eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future.  Further, HB 2 revokes the ability to sue under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, religion, national origin, and sex. Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session, and Governor McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

“Today’s historic decision is not only a victory for Gavin, but for all transgender young people who are being targeted by discriminatory actions — including North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s anti-transgender HB2 law,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “This ruling not only gives appropriate deference to the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX as allowing transgender students to use school restrooms consistent with their gender identity, it also is binding on the state of North Carolina. We therefore expect public schools, including those in North Carolina, to immediately comply, ensuring transgender students full protections under the law, which includes full access to the appropriate facilities.”

The discriminatory law is already facing a legal challenge, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said he will refuse to defend it in court.

The ruling comes as a number of states — most recently South Carolina — have introduced legislation attacking transgender students by preventing their access to appropriate restroom and other facilities in schools. Last month, North Carolina became the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were being rejected across the country — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. Just yesterday, the sponsor of a similar bill in Tennessee announced plans to pull the discriminatory legislation from consideration this year, after outcry from tens of thousands of fair-minded Tennesseans;major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; country music stars; and major business leaders. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Attorney General Slatery had also expressed concerns about the state losing millions of dollars in federal funds.

Today’s ruling by the Fourth Circuit affirms that school districts denying transgender students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity are in direct violation of Title IX.  That’s true of the Virginia district that has been discriminating against Grimm, and it is true of any school that chooses to comply with HB2 in North Carolina, which is also in the Fourth Circuit.  HB2 subjects schools to massive liability, and it puts an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education at risk, as well as  other funds a school may receive from another federal source.

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Missouri: Execs from Time Warner, T-Mobile, Starwood, and others call for defeat of SJR 39 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/missouri-execs-from-time-warner-t-mobile-starwood-and-others-call-for-defeat-of-sjr-39/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/missouri-execs-from-time-warner-t-mobile-starwood-and-others-call-for-defeat-of-sjr-39/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 17:23:01 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69873

Executives from Time Warner Cable, T-Mobile US, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Etsy, Zynga, and others have signed onto an open letter now including over 60 major CEOs and business leaders urging Missouri lawmakers to stop the discriminatory Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 39 from moving forward. SJR 39 would lead to a ballot measure that proposes to allow individuals, organizations, and businesses to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people.

The updated letter addressed to Missouri House of Representatives Speaker Todd Richardson, which was originally released on April 13, 2016, can be found below.

“Missourians don’t want to see us go back to a time when people could be turned away and discriminated against just because of who they are, or what they look like,” said HRC President Chad Griffin in announcing the open letter. “The vast majority of Americans believe laws like these — which are designed to make LGBT people second-class citizens in their own homes, schools and communities — are wrong. That’s why CEOs of some of the largest companies in Missouri and America are speaking out against SJR 39 today. Not only would this bill hurt their employees and their consumers, they know it would also be terrible for business and Missouri’s economy.”

SJR 39 goes far beyond protecting the right of free exercise of one’s religion. While shrouded in language framed as prohibiting the state government from making funding or tax status decisions based on an organization’s views on marriage that are driven by religious belief, in reality it opens the door to discrimination against same-sex couples, their families, and those who love them.

The legislation could have reckless intended and unintended consequences. If voted into law, LGBT people and their families could suddenly find themselves at risk of being denied many basic services. Businesses could refuse to provide goods or services to same-sex couples. Taxpayer-funded foster care providers and adoption agencies could refuse to place children in need of loving homes with same-sex couples. Taxpayer-funded homeless shelters could turn away LGBT couples and their families. The measure could also undermine existing LGBT non-discrimination protections passed at the local level, including in cities like Columbia, Kansas City, and St. Louis.

In addition to the major CEOs and business leaders signing onto this letter, the discriminatory proposal has received widespread condemnation from fair-minded Missourians and businesses throughout the state, including Governor Jay Nixon, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the St. Louis Regional ChamberDow Chemical Company, and Monsanto. The St. Louis Regional Chamber said the proposal is “counter to MO values & will have negative economic consequences.” Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have also spoke out against the resolution.

Despite a historic filibuster by Senate Democrats attempting to stop the anti-equality majority from moving the resolution forward, the Senate passed the measure in early March, and it is now pending consideration in the House of Representatives.

The discriminatory measure addresses no real problem in the state as no federal or state law requires religious organizations or clergy to sanction or perform same-sex marriages.

The full letter from major CEOs and business leaders states:

Dear Speaker Richardson,

We write with concerns about legislation your chamber is currently considering, SJR 39, which would place on the statewide ballot, a constitutional amendment that would allow individuals, religious organizations and private associations to use religion to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Missourians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at schools, in their family life and more. Put simply, SJR 39 is not an initiative that reflects the values of our companies.

We were disappointed to see the Senate pass this discriminatory legislation. The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business. This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development. We believe that SJR 39 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country. It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses, and economic activity.

Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in Missouri or anywhere in our country. As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you to work to ensure this bill is not brought to the ballot.

Sincerely,

Laura Alber, President and Chief Executive Officer, Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
Brandee Barker, Cofounder and Partner, Pramana Collective
Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO, Salesforce
Chip Bergh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Levi Strauss and Co.
Michael Birch, Founder, The Battery
Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa, co-CEOs, Warby Parker
Steven Boal, CEO, Quotient
Craig Bromley, President, John Hancock Financial
Wes Bush, Chairman, CEO and President of Northrop Grumman
Lloyd Carney, CEO, Brocade Communications Systems, Inc.
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Founder and CEO, Joyus
Amy Chang, CEO, Accompany
Alex Constantinople, CEO, The OutCast Agency
Chad Dickerson, CEO, Etsy
Amy Erret, Founder and CEO, Madison-Reed
Jared Fliesler, General Partner, Matrix Partners
Jennifer Fonstad, Cofounder and Managing Partner, Aspect Ventures
Joe Gebbia, Cofounder and CPO, Airbnb
Jason Goldberg, Founder, Pepo
Peter T. Grauer, Chairman, Bloomberg L.P.
Julia Hartz, Cofounder and President, Eventbrite
David Hassell, CEO, 15Five
Robert Hohman, Founder and CEO, Glassdoor
Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox
Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and Chair, Emerson Collective
Steve Joyce, President and Chief Executive Officer, Choice Hotels International, Inc.
David Karp, Founder and CEO, Tumblr
Travis Katz, CEO, Gogobot
Albrecht Kissel, President, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica
Kees Kruythoff, President, North America, Unilever
Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel
Sarah Leary, Cofounder, Nextdoor
Aileen Lee, Founder and Managing Partner, Cowboy Ventures
John Legere, President & CEO, T-Mobile US
Max Levchin, CEO, Affirm, Inc.
Aaron Levie, CEO, Box
Dion Lim, CEO, NextLesson
Andrew N. Liveris, CEO and Chairman of the Board, The Dow Chemical Company
Joe Lonsdale, General Partner, 8VC
Tom Mangas, CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
Rob Marcus, Chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable
Melody McCloskey, Founder, StyleSeat
Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, Founder and CEO, Intellectual Ventures
Christopher J. Nassetta, President & Chief Executive Officer, Hilton Worldwide
Lorrie Norrington, Operating Partner, Lead Edge Capital
Bob Page, Chairman and CEO, Replacements, Ltd.
Sunil Paul, Founding Partner, Spring Ventures
Michelle Peluso, CEO, Gilt
Mark Pincus, Founder and Executive Chairman, Zynga
Kevin Ryan, Founder and Chairman, AlleyCorp
Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association
Tom Sheahan, CEO, Red Oxygen
Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International
Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp
Christopher J. Swift, Chairman and CEO, The Hartford
Brian Tippens, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
David Tisch, Managing Partner, BoxGroup
Nirav Tolia, Cofounder and CEO, Nextdoor
Anne Wojcicki, CEO, 23andMe
Robert Wolfe, CEO, CrowdRise
Emanuel Seth Yekutiel, CEO, ESY Strategies
John Zimmer, Cofounder and President, Lyft

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The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issues statement condemning recent state laws and pending proposals targeting the LGBT community http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/19/the-u-s-commission-on-civil-rights-issues-statement-condemning-recent-state-laws-and-pending-proposals-targeting-the-lgbt-community/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/19/the-u-s-commission-on-civil-rights-issues-statement-condemning-recent-state-laws-and-pending-proposals-targeting-the-lgbt-community/#respond Tue, 19 Apr 2016 20:06:15 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69855

USCCRWASHINGTON — The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights today issued a statement regarding recent state laws passed, and proposals being considered, in the states of North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kansas. The full statement follows:

The United States Commission on Civil Rights strongly condemns recent state laws passed, and proposals being considered, under the guise of so-called “religious liberty” which target members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) community for discrimination.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory recently signed into law H.B. 2, legislation blocking local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules that grant protections to gay and transgender persons. The law also repeals existing municipal anti-discrimination laws which protected LGBT people from bias in housing and employment. Critically, the new legislation also forces transgender people to utilize public bathrooms and changing facilities based on the sex issued on their birth certificates, and not according to their gender identities. This jeopardizes not only the dignity, but also the actual physical safety, of transgender people whose appearances may not match societal expectations of the sex specified on their identification documents.

In Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant recently signed HB 1523 into law. The new statute is far- reaching and allows people with “religious objections” to deny wedding services to same-sex couples. It also clears the way for employers to cite religion in determining workplace policies on dress code, grooming and bathroom access. The physical safety concerns for transgender people are the same as in North Carolina.

The laws enacted in North Carolina and Mississippi are not isolated, but are part of a larger, alarming trend to limit the civil rights of a class of people using religious beliefs as the excuse. Similar laws were passed by the legislatures in Georgia and Virginia, but those were vetoed after significant public pressure. The Tennessee legislature just passed a bill which, if signed by Governor Bill Haslam, will permit mental health professionals to deny counseling services to LGBT people based upon “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Kansas is considering a non-legislative, administrative policy change which would make it more difficult for transgender people to change the sex listed on their birth certificates. These laws and policies can be found to violate the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. These laws can also be found to violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which forbids discrimination against transgender students in any school that receives federal funding.

The Commission recently approved a report, which will be released shortly, on the issue of religious liberty. In our findings and recommendations the Commission makes clear:

  • Civil rights protections ensuring nondiscrimination, as embodied in the Constitution, laws, and policies, are of preeminent importance in American jurisprudence.
  • Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon these civil rights.
  • Overly broad religious exemptions unduly burden nondiscrimination laws and policies.

Federal and state courts, lawmakers, and policy-makers at every level must tailor religious exceptions to civil liberties and civil rights protections as narrowly as applicable law requires.

Commission Chairman Martin R. Castro stated on behalf of the Commission, “Religious freedom is an important foundation of our nation. However, in the past, ‘religious liberty’ has been used to block racial integration and anti-discrimination laws. Those past efforts failed and this new attempt to revive an old evasive tactic should be rejected as well. The North Carolina and Mississippi laws, and similar legislation proposed in other states, perverts the meaning of religious liberty and perpetuates homophobia, transphobia, marginalizes the transgender and gay community and has no place in our society.”

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is an independent, bipartisan agency charged with advising the President and Congress on civil rights matters and issuing a federal civil rights enforcement report. For information about Commission’s reports and meetings, visit http://www.usccr.gov.

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Statewide movement launched to promote safety and respect for the transgender community http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/19/statewide-movement-launched-to-promote-safety-and-respect-for-the-transgender-community/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/19/statewide-movement-launched-to-promote-safety-and-respect-for-the-transgender-community/#respond Tue, 19 Apr 2016 19:44:18 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69851

TransformLOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Monday joined individuals from the transgender community, statewide LGBT organizations, local officials, civil rights groups, businesses, faith-based leaders and community members to launch Transform California – a statewide movement founded by Equality California and the Transgender Law Center to promote respect, understanding and safety for the transgender community. As part of the effort, coalition members signed a Transform California pledge – opposing discrimination against transgender people.

“California and its residents are known around the world for standing up for the values of tolerance and equality,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Trans people should have the freedom to live their lives, to dream, and to plan for the future without worrying about their safety or basic rights. I am proud to add my voice to the broad coalition supporting Transform California, a new step in the march toward full inclusion for our trans brothers and sisters.”

“My message today, is that there are still many ways in which the world we live in tells transgender people like me that we aren’t welcome. And I encourage folks to think about how it would make you feel if you or your child faced that kind of discrimination.” added Maria Roman, a community activist and transgender Californian. “Transform California is one important step toward bringing our communities together to ensure respect and dignity for all.”

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, “transgender people face extraordinary levels of physical and sexual violence, whether on the streets, at school or work, at home, or at the hands of government officials. More than one in four transgender people has faced a bias-driven assault, and rates are higher for transgender women and transgender people of color.”

Just recently in Los Angeles, a transgender teenager was purposely run over, and we’re mourning the loss of another young transgender woman, Quartney Yochum, who was murdered last month. Transform California is building a coalition of Californians committed to ending this violence and lifting up the voices and solutions of transgender people.

The statewide launch celebration in Los Angeles was held on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall and attended by more than 50 coalition members, including Pat Manuel, a transgender Californian, amateur boxer and small business owner; Maria Roman, a transgender Californian and community activist; Rabbi Becky Silverstein, one of the first openly transgender Rabbis affiliated with the conservative movement; Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce; Isa Noyola, Transgender Law Center Program Director; Kris Hayashi, Transgender Law Center Executive Director; and Rick Zbur, Equality California Executive Director.

Following the Los Angeles launch, Transform California will host regional rallies throughout the state, which will be attended by organizations and individuals from vastly different landscapes, including civil rights organizations, business leaders, and local and state elected officials, among many others. While varied in background, the mission of every Transform California coalition member is the same: promote respect, understanding and safety for the transgender community, and oppose discrimination of all kinds.

“I hope you’ll join me by going to TransformCalifornia.com today and signing our pledge to make the Golden State a place where all people can feel safe and live free from discrimination,” added Pat Manuel, a participant in the Transform California Los Angeles rally.

By signing the Transform California pledge coalition members are openly declaring to make a meaningful effort to change the statistics on violence and discrimination that transgender people face each and every day.

For more information on Transform California or to sign the coalition pledge and join the movement, visit www.TransformCalifornia.org.

 

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N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory on ‘Meet the Press’ – No repeal on HB 2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/18/n-c-gov-pat-mccrory-on-meet-the-press-no-repeal-on-hb-2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/18/n-c-gov-pat-mccrory-on-meet-the-press-no-repeal-on-hb-2/#respond Mon, 18 Apr 2016 18:22:24 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69847
Pat McCrory

Pat McCrory

Appearing on ‘Meet the Press’ Sunday,  North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said he wouldn’t support a statewide non-discrimination law for the LGBT community and will not repeal H.B. 2, which removes the ability of people facing discrimination on any basis, including on the basis of race, religion, sex, and national origin, to sue in state court; prevents local cities from enacting their own non-discrimination protections; and forces transgender North Carolinians to use restroom facilities in schools and on publicly-owned property inconsistent with their gender identity. H.B. 2 is opposed by more than 160 major business leaders.

In the interview, even as Chuck Todd said NBC estimated the law has already cost the state millions, Pat McCrory said he would not repeal H.B. 2, nor would he support a statewide non-discrimination law protecting LGBT people from employment discrimination because he didn’t know of any discrimination occurring against LGBT people.

“Today, a nation watched as Gov. McCrory invoked an outdated and retrograde argument to defend his decision to write discrimination into state law and deny equal treatment under the law for LGBT people,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.Pat McCrory can’t have it both ways and say he doesn’t want the government to tell the private sector what to do while he also sticks his head in the sand and ignores more than 160 businesses who have clearly said they want H.B. 2 repealed.”

Watch HRC’s “True or False” video, which debunks the worst of McCrory’s smears, such as saying transgender equality is somehow new, even though non-discrimination protections have been on the books for decades. On the show, panelist Kathleen Parker called McCrory’s defense “bogus” and Perry Bacon said McCrory made a “mistake” in signing it. Hugh Hewitt said anti-LGBT laws are “not the terrain” the party wants to fight on heading into November.

HRC’s national survey of the LGBT community found that an enormous percentage of LGBT Americans have experienced discrimination. 63 percent reported experiencing discrimination in their personal lives. Meanwhile, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the LGBTQ Task Force reported that in a survey of North Carolina, half of their respondents had been harassed or discriminated against in public places like hotels, restaurants and other public services.

A new poll from North Carolina’s WRAL this week found only 38 percent support H.B. 2 while 50 percent oppose it. 61 percent say H.B. 2 has hurt the state’s image nationally and61 percent also say the law has hurt the state’s ability to attract and retain business. A 64 percent majority of North Carolinians support LGBT nondiscrimination protections.

On Friday, HRC announced that the number of major corporation leaders have signed an open letter urging Gov. McCrory to repeal H.B. 2 has grown to 160. PayPal and Deutsche Bank, have stopped investments in North Carolina because of H.B. 2 and last week Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro to stand in solidarity with LGBT people across North Carolina and the nation. The NBA indicated in a statement Friday it is open to moving the 2017 All-Star game if H.B. 2 is not repealed.

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This is how North Carolina’s HB2 impacts a 9th Grade transgender boy http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/18/this-is-how-north-carolinas-hb2-impacts-a-9th-grade-transgender-boy/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/18/this-is-how-north-carolinas-hb2-impacts-a-9th-grade-transgender-boy/#respond Mon, 18 Apr 2016 17:24:21 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69829
Skye Thomson

Skye Thomson

A 9th Grade transgender North Carolina boy has written to the N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory about the discriminatory “bathroom bill” he signed into law a couple weeks ago.

The boy, Skye Thomson, writes earnestly about the way the law effects him explaining what it’s like to be a trans kid and again asking the governor to meet with him. Skye spoke at a state Senate hearing (At the 1:03:40 time mark in the video) meeting about the proposed law last month and talked about how he felt bullied by his state legislators. He requested a meeting with the governor before he signed HB2. The meeting was pulled an hour before the governor signed the bill. Read Skye’s letter below:

Dear Governor McCrory:

My name is Skye Thomson. I am 15 years old, I live in Eastern North Carolina, and I am a transgender boy. That means I was born a female and identify as a male.

I was in Raleigh for the debate on House Bill 2 on March 23. I was the only transgender student who got a chance to speak out against HB2, the so called “bathroom bill” that is supposed to keep everyone safe in bathrooms. But it doesn’t keep everyone safe, especially people like me. Imagine yourself in my shoes, being a boy walking into a ladies room. It’s awkward and embarrassing and can actually be dangerous. By putting this law in place you’re putting kids like me in danger.

I’ve dealt with bullying my whole life. And now I feel that my own state lawmakers and governor are bullying me as well. I face daily harassment for being myself, everything from dirty looks to physical assaults. I don’t report them because I know it will just make the other kids bully me more. In schools all over the place transgender kids go through the same thing every day. Because of the constant harassment, I have had more than one transgender friend attempt suicide.

HB2 just gives other students all the more reason to hate us.

After my speech at the HB2 hearing, two people from your staff invited me to a private meeting. They said that you wanted to learn more about the difficulties transgender kids like me face. At the end of our meeting, I asked your staff if I could meet with you in person before you made your decision about HB2. I hoped that if we met you would see that I’m just like any other kid, a kid worth protecting. I wanted to tell you my story, really bad things that have happened to me that I’m not comfortable sharing in this letter and that should never happen to a kid. Your staff said they would try to find a way for us to meet, but we never did. You signed HB2 into law an hour later.

Governor, I would still like to meet with you if at all possible. My friends would like to meet with you too. We think that if you get to know us, you will work on helping to keep us safe in bathrooms and everywhere else we go.

Thank you for your time,

Skye Thomson, 9th Grader

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Commentary: Corporate economic testicular strangulation in Dixie http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/16/commentary-corporate-economic-testicular-strangulation-in-dixie/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/16/commentary-corporate-economic-testicular-strangulation-in-dixie/#respond Sat, 16 Apr 2016 19:30:25 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69804

Map_of_the_Southern_United_States_modern_definitionDuring my totally unpleasant 5-year association with the San Francisco Pride Celebration Committee, reportedly a non-profit membership organization responsible for the city’s annual LGBT Pride festival and parade, I listened to moronic debate about acceptance of corporate donations, “sponsorship,” and inclusion of corporate groups carrying their corporation’s identifying brand name with pride colors, and slogans.

Socialist, anti-corporate and anarchists on the SF Pride Board, a supposed leadership entity charged with making decisions for the city’s LGBT community, wasted hours upon hours ranting about corporations ruining the spirit of the Pride celebration.

At great personal risk of being shouted out of SF Pride meetings, I spoke in favor of corporate inclusion and explained the corporations were involved in Pride to support their LGBT employee groups and in response to the requests of LGBT and allied corporate stockholders.  I am speaking of corporations based in San Francisco like Pacific Gas and Electric (NYSE: PCG), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) and others.

Corporate stockholder activists have since the 1960s brought national and global change on business, social and political issues. While in university in the 1970s, I worked with activists to stop Nestle from promoting their infant formula to young African mothers in place of breast milk. Early in my Washington career, I worked with stockholder activists in Washington and New York to fight corporate business practices, especially better wages, for African workers.

Simultaneously, I worked to end apartheid through corporate activities. It was during this time, I began a business relationship with corporate activist and Holocaust survivor Evelyn Y. “Queen of the Corporate Jungle” Davis. Initially Mrs. Davis, or “EYD,” she liked to be called, worked from her residence at The Mayflower Hotel. She later moved to the Watergate despite resistance to her controversial activism. Mrs. Davis and I worked on and off over the year and married in 2005.

Evelyn, nearly 30 years my senior, was verbally abrasive, to put it mildly, to CEOs and politicians, but she played a role in democratizing and, to a degree, sexualizing corporate meetings. Mrs. Davis, unknown to me at marriage, had a prostitution arrest in her background and often engaged in a form of sexual performance art at corporate annual meetings. The old gal, now incapacitated, did enjoy sex. A LOT!

In recent days, GOP governors in Dixieland have moved to alter onerous provisions in “religious freedom” legislation deemed anti-LGBT by many corporate leaders. Georgia GOP Gov. Nathan Deal, it is widely believed, responded to corporate pressures in vetoing an anti-LGBT “religious freedom” bill. Though he said his veto decision was not pressured by corporate interests, the “dismal science” of economics surely played a role.

Economics, if not social progress, also marched toward equality in North Carolina and Louisiana where GOP governors “saw the light” of economics if not full LGBT equality. In a sense it might be that corporate activism put the economic fear of God into Dixie governors.

Economics is speaking as loudly today as my ex-wife Evelyn Y. “Queen of the Corporate Jungle” Davis during her over 60 years of “prowling,” to borrow a word from The Financial Times, corporate annual meetings.

The SF Pride Board and the San Francisco LGBT community should see the results of corporate involvement in the move toward LGBT rights and employment equality in the rights resistant South, long a Confederate States of Anti-LGBT America (CSALA). Corporate action is greater than street action. Though I agree both are important.

The LGBT community, whether in corporate resistant San Francisco or in other cities, should borrow a lyric from Sir Paul McCartney, whom I saw perform at the closing of San Francisco’s Candlestick Park,  “open the door and let them in.”

It is past time for Pride organizations to honor corporate chiefs and stockholder activists in Pride parades and celebrations.  The stockholder activists are the real and unsung heroes who worked namelessly and tirelessly for decades to embolden resistant corporate chiefs, boards and other stockholders to change the minds of those resistant to LGBT rights.

Southern governors will demonstrate political leadership when economics, especially jobs in traditionally high jobless regions, are at stake.  Mrs. Davis was fond of telling male CEOs and male board members that her questions and corporate resolutions had them all by the balls. This raised gasps when she first started using it at annual meetings in the 1970s.

Corporate chiefs and activists of today have resistant politicians by the balls by “bargaining” economics for equality. Unlike corporate meetings of the 1970s, no one is gasping at the suggestion of corporate economic testicular strangulation. Most people, like Mrs. Davis and I, rather enjoy it.

Longtime Washington diplomat Jim Patterson writes from California and Washington, DC. JEPCapitolHill@gmail.com Disclosure: The author owns stock in some of the companies mentioned.

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NBA reaffirms its opposition to North Carolina’s H.B. 2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/16/nba-reaffirms-its-opposition-to-north-carolinas-h-b-2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/16/nba-reaffirms-its-opposition-to-north-carolinas-h-b-2/#respond Sat, 16 Apr 2016 14:00:03 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69800

In a statement Friday, the NBA reaffirmed its opposition to North Carolina’s H.B. 2, noting that NBA owners are unanimous in opposing the bill, and made clear that the league has not ruled out moving the game.

The statement, issued by Mike Bass, executive vice president, Communications read:  “During a media availability earlier today following the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting, Commissioner Adam Silver clarified that the NBA remains deeply concerned about its ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte, North Carolina, in light of recent legislation that discriminates against the LGBT community. At no time did Adam affirm that the league would not move the All-Star Game; rather he stressed repeatedly that the legislation is problematic, that we feel it is best to engage with the community to work towards a solution, that change is needed and we are hopeful that it will occur.”

The momentum against H.B. 2 continues to grow. Today, HRC announced 160 major corporations have signed an open letter urging Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the radical provisions in the deeply discriminatory law.

“Today the NBA reiterated its opposition to H.B. 2 and made crystal clear this law threatens the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We thank the NBA and Commissioner Silver for standing strong in support for the equal dignity of all North Carolinians and for continuing to advocate for the repeal of this hateful and draconian law.”

PayPal and Deutsche Bank, have stopped investments in North Carolina because of H.B. 2 and last week Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro to stand in solidarity with LGBT people across North Carolina and the nation. Basketball players including Charles Barkley and Jason Collins have called on the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte if the law is not repealed. The NCAA has also said that future NCAA events in the state of North Carolina are in jeopardy as the result of H.B. 2.

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Additional companies call for repeal of HB 2, despite NC Gov. McCrory’s executive order http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/15/additional-companies-call-for-repeal-of-hb-2-despite-nc-gov-mccrorys-executive-order/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/15/additional-companies-call-for-repeal-of-hb-2-despite-nc-gov-mccrorys-executive-order/#respond Fri, 15 Apr 2016 17:33:41 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69792

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC announced that executives from the American Express Company, AXA Financial Inc., Bloomberg L.P. ,Capital One, Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, Campbell Soup Company, CohnReznick LLP, CrowdRise, eMaint Enterprises, LLC, Ernst & Young LLP, the Estée Lauder Companies, Inc., John Hancock Financial, Kohler Co., Logitech, Plum Organics, RBC Capital Markets, REI, Strava Inc., The Hartford, Time Warner Cable, United Airlines, Visa Inc. and Williams-Sonoma, Inc. have signed onto an open letter that now includes more than 160 leading CEOs and business leaders urging Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the radical provisions in the deeply discriminatory law that was rammed through the legislature on March 23rd. These companies are continuing their support after Governor McCrory announced an executive order that does nothing to fix the discriminatory provisions signed into law through HB 2.

Yesterday, HRC released a new video (above) fact-checking Gov Mccrory’s dangerous rhetoric on HB 2.

While the governor’s executive order extends protections to state workers, it does nothing to fix the vile and discriminatory provisions he signed into law through HB 2. Under HB 2, transgender people are prohibited from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in public buildings, including the University of North Carolina campus and the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Cities still cannot adopt ordinances to prohibit discrimination against their residents and visitors. And HB 2 still prevents individuals from bringing discrimination suit in state courts.

HRC is invoking the North Carolina Public Records Law to gain access to any communications the Governor, the Executive Branch, or the General Assembly had among each other or with the kind of extreme anti-LGBT special interest groups who often craft and push this language. Specifically, the organizations are demanding that the government release any communications legislators or the Governor or his staff have had with the North Carolina Values Coalition or the Alliance Defending Freedom from the office of Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate leader Phil Berger and Speaker Tim Moore about HB 2. View the letters to the office of Gov. McCrory, Senator Berger and Speaker Moore here.

The copy of the updated letter, which was first made public on Tuesday, March 29th, can be found here and below.

“Governor McCrory’s executive order does nothing more than highlight the actual problems caused by HB 2,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “These businesses understand that discrimination is bad for North Carolina, and will continue to speak out until Governor McCrory and the General Assembly repeal this heinous attack on basic human dignity.”

“North Carolina’s place as a business leader in the South is based on fairness, inclusion, and diversity,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro with the original launch of the open letter. “HB 2 does not represent North Carolina values, and it weakens our competitive edge. We are glad to see our business community in the Old North State standing up against discriminatory measures like this. Governor McCrory made a mess of our state last [month], and our businesses are leading the charge to repair our state to a place of fairness.”

Gov. Pat McCrory and state lawmakers are under increasingly intense pressure to repeal the discriminatory law in the upcoming legislative session. Mayors and governors across the country are banning travel to the state, and the New York Times editorial board called North Carolina a “pioneer in bigotry.” Major film studios and corporations, including PayPal and Deutsche Bank, have stopped investments in the state because of the new law. Last week, Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro to stand in solidarity with LGBT people across North Carolina and the nation.

HB 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal funding under Title IX at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in state buildings, including in public universities. Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session last month, and Governor McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were rejected across the country this year — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to massive liability and putting an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as funding received by schools from other federal agencies, at risk. This section of HB 2 offers costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it forces schools to choose between complying with federal law — plus doing the right thing for their students — or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights. Read more about how this bill puts federal funding at risk here.

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ASPA stands in support of an anti-discriminatory society http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/15/aspa-stands-in-support-of-an-anti-discriminatory-society/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/15/aspa-stands-in-support-of-an-anti-discriminatory-society/#respond Fri, 15 Apr 2016 17:19:42 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69787

ASPAWASHINGTON— The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) has called on governments and organizations at all levels to reaffirm their commitment to an inclusive society and to reject laws and policies that are counterproductive to it.

ASPA’s Code of Ethics highlights the critical need to increase awareness and commitment to ethical principles and standards among all those who work in public service. These principles include:

  • Respecting and supporting government constitutions and laws, while seeking to improve laws and policies to promote the public good.
  • Treating all persons with fairness, justice and equality and respecting individual differences, rights and freedoms. Promoting affirmative action and other initiatives to reduce unfairness, injustice and inequality in society.

Prompted by recently enacted discriminatory legislation in North Carolina and Mississippi, ASPA supports the efforts of its membership in working to negate these regressive actions. Such laws as North Carolina HB2 and Mississippi HB 1523 undermine ASPA’s Code and are damaging to an open and free society.

“Discrimination is incongruent with ASPA values,” ASPA President Susan Gooden said. “ASPA represents a broad and diverse workforce and it is critical that our country has laws that respect and reflect its makeup.”

ASPA encourages its members and all public servants to continue their constant work to promote an inclusive and nondiscriminatory society.

ASPA is the leading interdisciplinary public service organization that advances the art, science, teaching and practice of public and nonprofit administration. Learn more at www.aspanet.org

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San Diego Wrestling Club to host tournament April 23 at The Center http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/san-diego-wrestling-club-to-host-tournament-april-23-at-the-center/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/san-diego-wrestling-club-to-host-tournament-april-23-at-the-center/#respond Thu, 14 Apr 2016 21:00:02 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69728

PHOTO: SDWC

The San Diego Wrestling Club (SDWC) will be hosting their 10th annual Bulldogs Wrestling Tournament Saturday April 23 starting at 1 p.m. in the main auditorium of The Center in Hillcrest. Spectators are welcome to come and check out the wrestling competition during the tournament for a $5 donation to the club.

The annual San Diego wrestling weekend draws dozens of wrestlers from across the West Coast. The three days of wrestling begins Thursday April 21 with the club’s regular Thursday night practice which starts at 7 p.m., continues with a skills and rules clinic Friday night April 22 then concludes with the tournament on Saturday afternoon.

Now celebrating its eighteenth season, the SDWC is San Diego’s only year round wrestling club focusing on the adult wrestler. The club maintains diversity in its membership and all weights, ages and skill levels are represented. The SDWC is always looking to increase their membership and invites those interested in a good cardio workout as well as learning the sport of freestyle wrestling to come down and check out their practices which are held on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. and on Sunday afternoons from 4-7 p.m. Both practices are held in the main auditorium of The Center located at 3909 Centre Street in the heart of Hillcrest. The club is sanctioned by USA Wrestling, the national body for Olympic style wrestling.

In addition to their regular practices, the club hosts fundraisers, BBQ’s and events throughout the year to bring together folks interested in the sport of wrestling. The Bulldogs also participate in other freestyle wrestling tournaments including those in San Francisco and the recent Sin City Shootout in Las Vegas.

For more information visit sdwrestling.org or contact Coach Tom at 619-569-7547.

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‘Energy Wave’ medical device seller sentenced to 30 months http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/energy-wave-medical-device-seller-sentenced-to-30-months/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/energy-wave-medical-device-seller-sentenced-to-30-months/#respond Thu, 14 Apr 2016 20:21:54 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69730

The last person connected to the sales and promotion of unapproved “Energy Wave” medical devices to treat AIDS and cancer has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

The devices had two steel cylinders with two application plates and customers were told to digitally enter a numbered code to treat the specific condition, such as diabetes, AIDS, stroke, ulcer, abdominal pain, worms and cancer. A micro-current frequency generator would emit sound waves to the patient’s body.

David Perez, 61, formerly of Carlsbad, was sentenced April 4 by U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez, who allowed him to remain free on $25,000 bond until May 13.

Perez sold each device, online mostly, for approximately $1,200-$1,500 and received $271,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. The devices are not approved by the Food & Drug Administration.

Perez’s sentence is the highest among the others charged – even over the manufacturer, David Arthur, 51, who received 18 months in prison. Arthur has a release date set for March 2, 2017.

Arthur, though, forfeited $30,000 to the government and was fined $3,000 in October 2015. Perez’s attorney objected to the longer sentence, citing the lesser sentence that Arthur received.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Pierson said Perez’s sentence was higher because he did not cooperate with authorities and Arthur did. Perez and Arthur pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell unapproved medical devices and introduced an unapproved medical device into interstate commerce respectively.

Perez’s wife, Sandra Perez, 56, of Medford, Ore., pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sale of an unapproved medical device and she was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service on one year probation. She is raising the couple’s teenage son and was ordered to pay $1,495 to one customer.

Beth Campbell, 53, of Salt Lake City, pleaded guilty to selling a misbranded device into interstate commerce to a man with prostate cancer. She received no jail time, but was ordered to pay $6,185 to three customers on terms of three years’ probation.

“It’s unconscionable to sell useless medical devices to critically ill people who are hoping for a miracle,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

David Perez wrote a letter to the judge, saying he was wrong to sell these types of machines, but after his release he will start over and transition to the clean energy industry. His attorney asked for one year home detention and 160 hours of community service.

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Former SeaWorld manager accused of embezzlement also produced gay movies http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/former-seaworld-manager-accused-of-embezzlement-also-produced-gay-movies/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/former-seaworld-manager-accused-of-embezzlement-also-produced-gay-movies/#respond Thu, 14 Apr 2016 20:12:55 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69732
Sebastian Jobin Photo: Linkedin

Sebastian Jobin
Photo: Linkedin

A detention hearing is set for April 14 for a former manager at SeaWorld who has been charged with stealing $750,000 from the company through an elaborate embezzlement scheme.

Sebastian Jobin, 47, worked at SeaWorld since 1997 until his suspension Jan. 22, 2015, but he is also known as the producer of two gay comedic movies.

His Linkedin account still lists him as working for SeaWorld, but it also says he worked with Daisy 3 Pictures. He is identified as the producer of 29th & Gay, a comedy about a gay man turning 29 in 2005, and Ready OK, another gay comedy in 2008 on entertainment Web sites.

Jobin pleaded not guilty April 4 to wire fraud and remains in the Metropolitan Correctional Center without bail. A federal judge will decide April 14 whether to keep him there through trial. He was arrested March 12 in Dallas.

More charges could be added as he is accused of creating more than 100 fake invoices from a fictitious company he created whose only business was with SeaWorld San Diego. He could face tax charges for not reporting the income he is alleged to have embezzled.

The fraudulent invoices came from his computer at SeaWorld and it listed deliveries of merchandise such as “sea creature rings,” and “purple shiny ornaments.” No merchandise was ever delivered and no packing slips were ever found.

SeaWorld investigators found his cell phone linked to the sham company and the names of himself and his former roommate listed as co-owners with the California Secretary of State. The company’s address was listed as Jobin’s residence in Mission Hills.

Bank records for the firm show it paid nothing for any materials for merchandise it sold, and most of the expenses were for restaurants, clothing stores such as Casual Male and plane tickets. Jobin was the only SeaWorld employee who ever interacted with the company and he was listed as accepting their merchandise for SeaWorld.

SeaWorld discovered the invoices on his computer. He was assigned to the entertainment department in 2004, and promoted to a manger in 2006. He was responsible for planning and budgeting special events.

“We are dedicated to protecting our local business and institutions from corruption inside and out,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in a press release. “We will root out and prosecute business insiders who abuse the trust of their employers and the community.”

He is charged under his full legal name of Wilfred David Joseph Jobin-Reyes, but he is known as Sebastian Jobin on entertainment Web sites and his Linkedin account.

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#GayMediaSoWhite http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/gaymediasowhite/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/gaymediasowhite/#comments Thu, 14 Apr 2016 20:02:27 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69718

When I started San Diego LGBT Weekly there were many in the community that offered their sage advice. One of those phrases of wisdom was “if you put anything other than a young white man on the cover, the number of people picking up your magazine will decrease.” I was horrified that people thought they should express this reality. I am an African American gay man who was the former national co-chair of the 2008 Obama Campaign LGBT Leadership Council and owner of LGBT Weekly. Yet, these well intentioned people thought they were helping me by telling me to avoid putting people who looked like me on the cover.

Over the last week there has been a controversy about the lack of people of color on the covers of national LGBT magazines creating the hashtag #GayMediaSoWhite. In particular, OUT and Advocate. The nation has caught up with what LGBT Weekly has known all along, the representation of our community on magazine covers and Web sites is still exclusively the purview of young white males. I am proud to say that LGBT Weekly broke the mold in San Diego.

From June 2011 through May 2016, 15 percent of OUT’s covers have featured people of color (POC) and 10 percent LGBT POC. The Advocate fared better with 23 percent POC on the cover but it should be noted that a cover with four POC was counted four times. Essentially, the analysis counted every person on a cover.

LGBT Weekly has featured 32 POC on its cover for an overall percentage of 23 percent. Of course, we eliminated any covers that were composites of the community with POC in the mix. We only looked at the single imagery that is LGBT Weekly’s brand. If LGBT Weekly counted in the same way as the analysis of the Advocate, our representation of POC on our covers would be significantly higher.

What’s the point? LGBT Weekly is the most honored LGBT publication in San Diego’s history. LGBT Weekly is also the publication which has featured the most POC and trans people on the cover. People read LGBT Weekly because of its content. While the cover is our “lobby,” all types of people come through our lobby each year. Each one of these customers is as important as the other.

That’s why we featured the first transgender woman in San Diego history on our cover. Transgender – not a drag queen. And while transgender issues are trending in the news media right now, LGBT Weekly is the only LGBT publication that had from its launch in 2010 and continues to have a trans column in every issue.

We also cater to the senior LGBT community in every issue, which few if any other LGBT publications do, recognizing the need to provide content “For [LGBT] seniors and those who will be.”

Yes, I am celebrating LGBT Weekly’s commitment to representing the entire community; young, old, Black, White, Latino, Asian, Native American, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, rich and poor. At LGBT Weekly we don’t discriminate. How about the other publications and Web sites you read?

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Mississippi: More than 60 major CEOs and business leaders demand repeal of H.B. 1523 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/mississippi-more-than-60-major-ceos-and-business-leaders-demand-repeal-of-h-b-1523/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/mississippi-more-than-60-major-ceos-and-business-leaders-demand-repeal-of-h-b-1523/#comments Thu, 14 Apr 2016 19:56:57 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69750

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign announced that more than 60 leading CEOS and business leaders, including executives from Bloomberg LP, CVS Health, Dropbox, Hilton Worldwide and Salesforce have signed onto an open letter calling on Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and House Speaker Philip A. Gunn to repeal H.B. 1523. H.B. 1523, the so-called “Religious Liberty Accommodations Act,” allows almost any individual or organization to use religion as a justification to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at school, and in their communities.

“It is unfathomable that in 2016, Mississippi has passed a law that explicitly allows LGBT people to be denied service or discriminated against simply because of who they are and whom they love,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.“That’s why across Mississippi and the nation, business leaders are speaking out against this discriminatory legislation that harms their employees, harms consumers, and harms their businesses. But there’s still time for Mississippi lawmakers to reverse course and do the right thing. We urge Governor Bryant and state lawmakers to lead their state to a better future, leaving the politics of discrimination and prejudice firmly in the past. It’s time for them to listen, stand up for all Mississippians, and work quickly to repeal H.B. 1523.”

Earlier this week, Mississippi State Rep. Jay Hughes and members of the Mississippi House of Representatives announced an effort to suspend regular House rules in order to introduce the “Mississippi Economic and Tourism Recovery Act” — a bill that would overturn H.B. 1523. Two-thirds of House members must vote in favor of suspending the rules to allow a vote on the proposed legislation to repeal H.B. 1523.

In addition to the major corporations signing onto this letter calling for repeal, some of the state’s largest employers, including Nissan Group of North America, Tyson Food Inc, MGM Resorts International, and Toyota, have publicly voiced their opposition to the appalling legislation — joining national corporations such as AT&T, IBM, and MassMutual. Gov. Bryant also ignored the call of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA) to veto the discriminatory measure. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has joined an effort to get more CEOs to speak publicly against the law, and top executives from Microsoft and IBM have asserted that the law is bad for business.

Additionally, rocker Bryan Adams cancelled a concert scheduled for later this week in Biloxi, MS, and nearly 100 prominent writers from the state, including John Grisham and Kathryn Stockett, signed a letter protesting the discriminatory law. ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who is featured as the welcoming face of the Hospitality State’s official tourism guide, also decried the legislation saying, “hurts my soul to think of anyone not feeling welcome.” Actress Sharon Stone has also cancelled a film shoot in Mississippi because of the law, and the New York Mississippi Society cancelled their 37th Mississippi Picnic in Central Park.

Under this new law, religion could be used by almost any individual or organization to justify discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples, and others. Tax-payer funded faith-based organizations could: refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for provision of critical services including emergency shelter; deny children in need of loving homes placement with LGBT families including the child’s own family member; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person — even if the organization receives government funding. It would also give foster families the freedom to subject an LGBTQ child to the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy,” and subject a pregnant unwed girl to abuse, without fear of government intervention or license suspension. It would even allow individuals to refuse to carry out the terms of a state contract for the provision of counseling services to all eligible individuals, including veterans, based on the counselor’s beliefs about LGBT people or single mothers.

Furthermore, schools, employers, and service providers could refuse transgender people access to appropriate sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity — all in direct conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice’s enforcement of federal law. HB 1523 even legalizes Kim Davis-style discrimination by allowing government employees to abdicate their duties and refuse to license or solemnize marriages for LGBT people.

The full letter and list of signatories is below:

Dear Governor Bryant, Lieutenant Governor Reeves & Speaker Gunn:

We write with concerns about legislation signed this week, HB 1523, which would allow individuals, religious organizations and private associations to use religion to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at schools, in their family life and more. Put simply, HB 1523 is not a bill that reflects the values of our companies.

We are disappointed to see the legislature and governor’s office pass discriminatory legislation. The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business. This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development. We believe that HB 1523 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country. It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses, and economic activity.

Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in Mississippi or anywhere in our country. As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you to repeal this bill.

Sincerely,
Laura Alber, President and Chief Executive Officer, Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
Karen Appleton, Senior Vice President, Box
Brandee Barker, Cofounder and Partner, Pramana Collective
Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO, Salesforce
Chip Bergh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Levi Strauss and Co.
Michael Birch, Founder, The Battery
Lisa Bisaccia, EVP and Chief HR Officer, CVS Health
Steven Boal, CEO, Quotient
Craig Bromley, President, John Hancock Financial
Wes Bush, Chairman, CEO and President of Northrop Grumman
Lloyd Carney, CEO, Brocade Communications Systems, Inc.
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Founder and CEO, Joyus
Amy Chang, CEO, Accompany
Alex Constantinople, CEO, The OutCast Agency
Bracken P. Darrell, CEO, Logitech
Chad Dickerson, CEO, Etsy
Alex Dimitrief, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, GE
Sandy Douglas, Executive Vice President and President, Coca-Cola North America, The Coca-Cola Company
Amy Erret, Founder and CEO, Madison-Reed
Jared Fliesler, General Partner, Matrix Partners
Jennifer Fonstad, Cofounder and Managing Partner, Aspect Ventures
Joe Gebbia, Cofounder and CPO, Airbnb
Jason Goldberg, Founder, Pepo
Peter T. Grauer, Chairman, Bloomberg L.P.
Julia Hartz, Cofounder and President, Eventbrite
David Hassell, CEO, 15Five
Robert Hohman, Founder and CEO, Glassdoor
Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox
Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and Chair, Emerson Collective
Steve Joyce, President and Chief Executive Officer, Choice Hotels International, Inc.
David Karp, Founder and CEO, Tumblr
Travis Katz, CEO, Gogobot
Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel
Sarah Leary, Cofounder, Nextdoor
Aileen Lee, Founder and Managing Partner, Cowboy Ventures
Max Levchin, CEO, Affirm, Inc.
Aaron Levie, CEO, Box
Dion Lim, CEO, NextLesson
Andrew N. Liveris, CEO and Chairman of the Board, The Dow Chemical Company
Joe Lonsdale, General Partner, 8VC
Melody McCloskey, Founder, StyleSeat
Ryan McDonough, CFO, Accompany
Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, Founder and CEO, Intellectual Ventures
Christopher J. Nassetta, President & Chief Executive Officer, Hilton Worldwide
Lorrie Norrington, Operating Partner, Lead Edge Capital
Bob Page, Chairman and CEO, Replacements, Ltd.
Sunil Paul, Founding Partner, Spring Ventures
Michelle Peluso, CEO, Gilt
Walter Robb, Co-CEO, Whole Foods Market
Dan Rosensweig, CEO, Chegg Inc.
Kevin Ryan, Founder and Chairman, AlleyCorp
Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association
Tom Sheahan, CEO, Red Oxygen
Ben Stevenson, Data Engineer, Accompany
Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp
Christopher J. Swift, Chairman and CEO, The Hartford
Brian Tippens, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
David Tisch, Managing Partner, BoxGroup
Nirav Tolia, Cofounder and CEO, Nextdoor
Robb Webb, Chief Human Resources Officer, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Tony West, EVP Government Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, PepsiCo
Anne Wojcicki, CEO, 23andMe
Robert Wolfe, CEO, CrowdRise
Emanuel Seth Yekutiel, CEO, ESY Strategies
John Zimmer, Cofounder and President, Lyft

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TurnOUT! North Carolina launches town hall series focused on repeal of anti-LGBT H.B. 2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/13/turnout-north-carolina-launches-town-hall-series-focused-on-repeal-of-anti-lgbt-h-b-2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/13/turnout-north-carolina-launches-town-hall-series-focused-on-repeal-of-anti-lgbt-h-b-2/#respond Wed, 13 Apr 2016 19:21:40 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69669

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Today, TurnOUT! North Carolina announced a series of town hall meetings across the Tar Heel State, focused on engaging and mobilizing pro-equality North Carolinians against House Bill 2 (H.B. 2) in the upcoming legislative session. A joint effort of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality NC TurnOUT! NC has been working to repeal the discriminatory legislation since it was signed by Gov. McCrory  March 23. The North Carolina General Assembly returns for its 2016 short session  April 25.

The first town hall will take place tomorrow, Thursday, April 14th at Le Meridien in Charlotte from 7 to 9pm. Speakers will include Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Charlotte City Councilmember Al Austin, HRC President Chad Griffin, Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro, and other local LGBT community members.

“Over the last several weeks, state legislative leaders have heard from a growing chorus of North Carolinians, civil rights advocates, business executives and faith leaders that H.B. 2 is dangerous to people and business across the state,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “In Charlotte this Thursday and in cities across the state over the next two weeks, we must continue to stand up, speak out, and ensure the state legislature approaches the coming short session with an understanding of how urgently this discriminatory bill must be repealed.”

“While H.B. 2 was hatched to divide our state and distract from the real issues we face during this pivotal election year, the result has been the opposite: H.B. 2 has galvanized our allies, business voices, and faith communities to stand together against this and other anti-LGBT laws,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “We’re proud to lead this campaign against this craven attack on LGBT people, and further inspire even more fair-minded North Carolinians to turn up and turn out against this measure in the days, weeks and months ahead.”

H.B. 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting $4.5 billion in federal funding under Title IX at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people in publicly-owned buildings, including public universities, major airports, and convention centers. Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session, and Governor McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were rejected across the country this year — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to massive liability and putting at risk an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as funding received by schools from other federal agencies. This section of H.B. 2 offers costly supposed “solutions” to non-existent problems, and forces schools to choose between complying with federal law — and doing the right thing for their students — or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights.

As a result of North Carolina’s H.B. 2 law, which puts thousands of youth, citizens, employees, and visitors to the state at risk, more than 130 business leaders are calling for a repeal effort during the upcoming legislative session and a number of businesses have begun to remove investments from the state.

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National LGBTQ Task Force calls on Mississippi’s governor to resign for legalizing more LGBTQ discrimination http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/13/national-lgbtq-task-force-calls-on-mississippis-governor-to-resign-for-legalizing-more-lgbtq-discrimination/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/13/national-lgbtq-task-force-calls-on-mississippis-governor-to-resign-for-legalizing-more-lgbtq-discrimination/#comments Wed, 13 Apr 2016 18:17:46 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69657
Phil Bryant

Phil Bryant

WASHINGTON, D.C.The National LGBTQ Task Force is calling on Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi to resign. One week ago today, the governor signed a law, HB 1523, that legalizes discrimination against LGBTQ people. This new law may also lead to discrimination against unmarried people raising children, unmarried people having sex, and others.

“Mississippi has once again passed a law that unduly infringes on basic human rights. What Gov. Bryant did was immoral. That’s why he must resign immediately. By signing this law, he is targeting some of the poorest people with the least legal protections in our nation, Mississippi’s LGBTQ community. And, he manipulated faith and cherished constitutional rights to justify this reprehensible action. Make no mistake: this law was knowingly designed to have the biggest negative impact on the most vulnerable. Contrary to what the governor has said, this law makes a mockery of the basic American idea that we are guaranteed freedom of religion and freedom from religion. We believe that what he did makes his position untenable,” said Rea Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force, executive director.

Mississippi has the highest proportion of same-sex couples raising children in our nation at 26%. It has one of the highest percentages of Black same-sex couples. And Mississippi has the highest number of poor people in the country — many of whom are LGBTQ. “These folks already face devastating discrimination and racism. With this law they are going to face more. This is what makes Bryant’s action so despicable,” said Carey.

The state’s new law discriminates against LGBTQ people and many others in a number of different contexts. These include: the workplace, at schools, in health care settings and in public spaces such as stores, hotels or eateries by giving individuals, religious associations and private entities the right to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to “shut the door” on anyone they choose.

The outcry against Bryant has been diverse — from people of faith who think what he did was immoral to businesses who think that his action will be a jobs killer.

“Bryant could have stopped this bill becoming law. Instead he signed it. Now it’s time for him to sign something else — his resignation letter. He must resign to do the decent thing, and to help make the Hospitality State truly hospitable again,” urged Carey.

The petition calling for Gov. Bryant to resign is available online at http://bit.ly/quitPhil. To take part in the conversation using social media, follow the hashtag #quitPhil.

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North Carolina Gov. signs executive order modifying HB2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/12/north-carolina-gov-signs-executive-order-modifying-hb2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/12/north-carolina-gov-signs-executive-order-modifying-hb2/#respond Tue, 12 Apr 2016 22:24:14 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69653
Pat McCrory

Pat McCrory

Following a huge backlash against the anti-LGBT House Bill 2 North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory today signed an executive order modifying the bill, albeit somewhat modestly.

McCrory’s action affirms that private businesses, nonprofits, and local governments can establish their own employment nondiscrimination policies — for their own workers. And it expands the state’s employment nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity — that is, for state employees, reports The Advocate.

While the governor’s executive order extends protections to state workers, it does nothing to fix the discriminatory provisions he signed into law through HB 2. Under HB 2, transgender people are prohibited from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in public buildings, including the University of North Carolina campus and the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Cities still cannot adopt ordinances designed to prohibit discrimination against their residents and visitors. And, today’s action does not undo the damage to the state nondiscrimination laws, which now prevent individuals from bringing suit in state courts.

LGBTQ advocates were quick to criticize McCrory’s actions  saying his actions just did not go far enough.

“Gov. McCrory’s executive order today is too little too late. It is like trying to solve a massive life threatening injury with a small band-aid that doesn’t come close to covering the wound. Complete repeal of HB2 and the passage of comprehensive statewide non-discrimination legislation are the only actions that will provide real, strong protections for all the LGBTQ people of North Carolina.” said Rea Carey, executive director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.

HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said, “The governor’s action is an insufficient response to a terrible, misguided law that continues to harm LGBT people on a daily basis. It’s absurd that he’ll protect people from being fired but will prohibit them from using the employee restroom consistent with their gender identity. The North Carolina Legislature must act to right this wrong as swiftly as possible. They created this horrendous law, and they need to repeal it.”

Equality North Carolina and the HRC continue to call on the governor and North Carolina’s elected officials to repeal HB 2.

“While Gov. McCrory’s Executive Order creates vital protections in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, it does not address the deep concerns we share with members of the business community and citizens across the state about the damaging impact of HB 2,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “In fact, the order doubles down on the Governor’s support for some of the most problematic provisions of HB 2.”

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