Around the Nation – LGBT Weekly Fri, 28 Oct 2016 18:06:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 LGBTs speak out at Jill Stein rally Fri, 28 Oct 2016 18:06:58 +0000
Ann Menasche  Photo: Frank Colosi

Ann Menasche
Photo: Frank Colosi

Members of the local LGBT community spoke out at a rally for Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein at the World Beat Center Thursday, Oct. 20.

“The corporate rulers tell a lie, that we must vote the lesser evil, that we must vote with our fears, not our hopes, in order to stop things from getting even worse,” said Ann Menasche, local lesbian activist and Green Party of San Diego member. “They tell us to swallow the medicine and choose between Donald, the bigoted, billionaire buffoon who can’t keep his mouth shut or his hands off women’s bodies, or Hillary, the double talking darling of Wall Street and Neocons promoting fracking all around the world, who can’t keep her missiles from raining down on other countries. [But] there’s another choice out there folks. There’s another woman in the raise!”

Presidential candidate Stein is a physician by trade who later became an activist and politician. She began her career as a medical doctor in the 70s, turning to activism in late 90s fighting against environmental racism and for campaign finance reform. By the 2000s, she began a path in electoral politics, including running as a Green for Mass. Governor, State Representative, and in 2012 and now as a candidate for the U.S. President. Ajamu Baraka; a human rights activist, scholar and educator; is her running mate.

Stein and Baraka are running on a platform called “Our Power to the People Plan,” which includes halting climate change, creating living wage jobs for all, guaranteeing “economic human rights” (including access to food, water and housing), making public education free (from pre-school to college), and reforming the criminal justice system (including releasing non-violent drug offenders and demilitarizing the police).

At the rally, speakers pointed out why Stein was superior over other candidates and what the Green Party stands for.

“The Green Party is the only party that doesn’t accept money from corporations or Super PACs. We are a grassroots party of the people and for the people and truly by the people and that’s why we’re here tonight,” said Cecile Estelle, local queer activist and emcee for the event.

Lucila Conde at the Jill Stein rally Photo: Frank Colosi

Lucila Conde  Photo: Frank Colosi

Lucila Conde, a local queer activist that fights for human rights in Mexico, spoke about the legacies of NAFTA and said that Stein understands its impact. NAFTA refers to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which President Bill Clinton signed in 1994, eliminating all tariffs (taxes on imports and exports) between the U.S., Canada and Mexico over the following 15 years. The Stein/Baraka platform includes repealing the agreement.

“The difference between the Jill Stein and the Clinton and Trump ticket is that Jill understand the true meaning of NAFTA…” Conde said, who criticized the agreement for its impact on Mexican society.

“Corn growers and other agricultural workers were especially hit by the economic impact of this bill. As a result, we have one of the largest economically forced migration of Mexicans into the United States in history,” Conde said.

The lead speaker

David Cobb  Photo: Frank Colosi

David Cobb
Photo: Frank Colosi

The lead speaker for the night was David Cobb, Stein’s campaign manager. Cobb himself ran for president as the Green Party nominee in 2004. At the rally, Cobb addressed critics who say a vote for the Green Party is just a blank or protest vote.

“The Green Party is not a protest vote!” said Cobb. The Green Party is a movement vote!”

But Cobb was clear to point out that the Green Party did not represent the movement.

“The Green Party is not the movement for peace and justice and democracy and ecology, Cobb explained. “[There are] organizations actually leading those movements – lets name them – black lives matter, the eco-justice movement, the movement to abolish the prison industrial complex, the movement to end corporate constitutional rights. These movements exist and they’re getting larger, more stronger, more organized, every single day.”

What the Green Party does seek, said Cobb, is to be the movements’ political party.

“Let’s be honest, a movement alone, is not enough. It is a necessary but not sufficient condition,” Cobb said. “Yes we need those social movements and those social movements are growing but we also need an electoral arm of those movements at the ballot box. … The Green Party aspires to be [that].”

Cobb on LGBT issues

After his stump, I asked Cobb what would a Stein presidency do for LGBT people? Cobb responded by pointing out the party’s openness to talk about LGBT concerns.

“We are willing to talk about sexism and racism and homophobia. We are willing to talk about not just LGBT issues, but actually talk about transgender people and intersexed people, and actually say that we know that gender is actually a construct. We want to be a place where we challenge ourselves and our own supporters to rethink these things,” Cobb said.

One of the event’s attendees, a 20-year old bisexual man named Michael Leggerie who was helping with the event’s clean up, listened to Cobb speak to this reporter and became a bit taken aback.

“I’ve never heard a presidential candidate [or campaign staff] current or past say that gender is a social construct,” Leggerie told Cobb and this reporter. “So I applaud him for that, and that is profound.”

This reporter also asked Cobb what specific LGBT policies a Stein presidency would push for. While Cobb could not answer the question in that moment, he did follow up with me through email. In his email, Cobb provided a number of policies a Stein presidency would be working on, including a national non-discrimination law that is queer and intersex-inclusive, LGBTQ-inclusive single-payer healthcare including gender confirmation treatment and surgery, a policy that allows for transgender people to obtain correct government IDs and stopping U.S. wars abroad that “kill LGBTQ persons and their families worldwide.”

Rally attendees

More than 150 people attended the event at the Balboa Park event center. Some of them were LGBT. Those that identified were asked if they would be voting for Stein and why?

Jose Cortez, 35, gay man living in North Park, was one of them. He said he would be voting for Stein and had several reasons.

“I am a byproduct of the system and how the system is not working for me and the system has been based on two parties and they have not been working out and therefore I have been looking elsewhere,” said Cortez. “With the Green Party, I align with their philosophy, the idea of people, planet, peace before profit. And you know with climate change getting worse by the day, I want to have a future and I want my nephews and nieces to have a future, and I feel if we stay on the same trajectory, we won’t have a future.”

Similar to Cortez, Leggerie, the man that appreciated Cobb’s gender perspective, said he too would be voting for Stein and had multiple reasons for his decision.

“She’ll fight for the planet and fight for peace and nonviolence, when the U.S. has such an imperialistic and violent force in the world and that’s terrible. She’s fighting for a fair economy and because right now our system favors the corporations and wealthy,” said Leggerie. “And you can take her seriously because she’s not beholden to any corporate interests.”

As of this report, national presidential polls showed Stein fluctuating between 2 and 4%. If Stein were to win at least 5% of the popular vote, the Green nominee in the next presidential election would receive approximately $10 million in federal funding, a major goal the party is seeking to achieve.

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Point of Pride launches transgender surgery fund and donation programs Fri, 28 Oct 2016 17:52:25 +0000
Aydian Dowling

Aydian Dowling

EUGENE, Ore. — Today, Point of Pride has begun accepting applications for its annual Transgender Surgery Fund, which offers financial assistance to trans people who cannot afford a gender-affirming surgery.

Any transgender person in financial need seeking surgery who does not have medical insurance (or whose surgeries are not covered by their insurance) may apply for this assistance at Applications close November 31, and finalists will be announced January 2017.

Aydian Dowling, Board President for Point of Pride, stated: “Last year, the Surgery Fund received an incredible 637 applications from trans people around the world and in need of support, and we anticipate over 1,000 applications this year. This illustrates how important community fundraising programs like this one are until all trans folks can get the coverage and assistance they need with gender-affirming surgery.”

Jeffrey Main, Board Secretary for Point of Pride, added: “Every applicant deserves safe and complete access to surgery. We will work tirelessly to support as many applicants as we can and expand our reach each year. Last year we donated $4,600 to people in need, and this year our fundraising goal is $10,000.”

Point of Pride also offers two donation programs year-round for the trans community, free for those in need: a chest compression (binder) program and free breast forms/prosthetic inserts program. To apply or learn more, visit

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HRC on the cost of HB2: At least $698 million Fri, 28 Oct 2016 17:35:23 +0000
Pat McCrory

Pat McCrory

Last year North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s ignited a national controversy over HB2, the anti-LGBT legislation he pushed and signed into law. Since then, McCrory has staked his re-election on standing by his hateful law, despite the consequences for the states.

While in 2012, McCrory was easily elected by more than 11%, according to the Real Clear Politics average, he is trailing by 1.5%, while other polls show him up one point. The race is in a statistical dead heat.

The reason for McCrory’s electoral challenges is simple: HB2. The New York Times Magazine recently reported that the law has “created a rift between what used to be the Republican Party’s most durable bases: social conservatives and business.” More than 160 leading CEOs and business have come out against the law. More are refusing to do business in Pat McCrory’s North Carolina.

Just this week, North Carolina lost out on another 730 jobs and a $250,000,000 investment because of HB2, bringing the total cost to the state to at least $698,000,000.

According to recent polling, 60% of North Carolina voters think the law has hurt the states reputation and only a third of voters support the discriminatory law. Voters want their governor to focus on job creation and growing the economy, not chasing good-paying jobs to other states.

Below is an overview of the economic cost of McCrory’s discriminatory law as compiled by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC):

Total estimated cost:

·       An estimated combined cost of at least $698 million (commerce loss + money spent to fight HB2 + money devoted to bringing business back to North Carolina)

Commerce loss:

·       WRAL reports that Raleigh could lose as much as $7.6 million in canceled convention gatherings, and an additional $32.6 million in surrounding business loss. [WRAL, June 6, 2016]

·       NBC News cites HRC figures from the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce that the Charlotte Area has lost $285 million in commerce. [NBC News, June 6, 2016]

·       Penny Rich, County Commissioner for Orange County, wrote for Chapelboro that the county has lost roughly $460,000 in economic loss, and predicts a total loss of $1.3 million. [Chapelboro, July 11, 2016]

·       TIME reported that the economic impact of Charlotte losing the NBA All-Star Game was$100 million. [TIMEJuly 24, 2016]

·       The Virginian Pilot reports that the Greensboro area was expected to receive a $14.5 millioninfusion from the NCAA tournament, as well as $1.6 million from the soccer championships in December that are being moved. [The Virginian PilotSeptember 13, 2016]

·       The News & Observer reports that the NCAA soccer, baseball, lacrosse and tennis events taken from Cary will deprive the area of about $2 million. [The News & ObserverSeptember 13, 2016]

·       The Huffington Post reported that North Carolina lost $250 million when CoStar Group chose not to move to Charlotte because of HB2 [The Huffington Post, October 26, 2016]

Money spent to fight HB2:

·       The Associated Press reports that the North Carolina General Assembly set aside $500,000in funds diverted from the state’s disaster relief fund. [The Associated Press, July 1, 2016]

Money devoted to bringing business back to North Carolina:

·       The News & Observer reports that NC State Rep. Darren Jackson proposed a provision to the North Carolina House budget that would repeal HB2 and set aside $2 million to restore the state’s reputation. The provision failed. [The News & Observer, May 19, 2016]

·       Indy Week reports that McCrory spent nearly $7,500 in state money flying to TV appearances to defend HB2 [Indy Week, July 11, 2016]

·       $3.75 million in additional marketing allocations in the NC budget

Performances in NC affected by HB2:

·       Bruce Springsteen, April 10 — Cancelled performance in Greensboro

·       Mumford & Sons, April 14  — Made a donation to an unnamed local LGBTQ organization from its show in Charlotte.

·       Pearl Jam, April 20 — Cancelled performance in Raleigh

·       Cirque du Soleil, April 20-24 (Greensboro), July 6-10 (Charlotte), & June 22-26 (Raleigh) —Cancelled performances in three locations for two tours.

·       Dead & Company, featuring John Mayer, June 10 — Donated $100,000 to HRC and Equality North Carolina, also welcomed organizers on site at Charlotte performance

·       Beyonce, May 3 — Spoke out during session against HB2 at performance in Raleigh

·       Boston, May 4-6 — Cancelled performances in Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh

·       Jackson Browne, May 28 and June 1 — Donating proceeds to HRC and Equality North Carolina from Asheville and Wilmington performances

·       Al Yankovic, June 18 — Donating personal fee to HRC from Greensboro performance

·       Ringo Starr, June 18 — Cancelled performance in Cary

·       Cyndi Lauper, June 4 — Donating proceeds to LGBT groups in NC from Raleigh performance

·       Maroon 5, September 11 & 12 — Cancelled performances in Charlotte and Raleigh

·       The Lumineers, September 15 — Donating all profits to HRC and Equality North Carolina, will also have organizers on site collecting donations


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Advocacy groups applaud USAID for LGBT nondiscrimination protections Thu, 27 Oct 2016 18:20:24 +0000
Susan E. Rice

Susan E. Rice

Advocacy groups have applauded the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Administrator Gayle Smith for ensuring that LGBT people will have equal access to services and aid delivered by contractors and sub-contractors of USAID that work internationally. This policy, announced Wednesday in a speech by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at American University in Washington, D.C., provides critical nondiscrimination protections ensuring that LGBT people can fully benefit from global development programs and efforts of the United States.

“The unshakeable conviction that all people are equally endowed with fundamental and irrevocable rights has been central to our nation from the beginning,” said Rice.  “The story of America is one of striving to fulfill our ideals and always gradually expanding the circle of inclusion; it stretches from Selma to Stonewall to frontiers yet to come.  For me, this issue is deeply personal.  As the daughter of proud citizens who suffered the indignities of Jim Crow, I never forget that I stand here today because those who came before me pried open doors that had long been shut to people who looked like me.  As a public servant and as a mother, I don’t want my children, or anyone else’s, to be limited by how they look, who they worship, or whom they love.

“As President Obama has said, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law—for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”  Of course, it has taken generations of protest and struggle to begin to realize that vision.  Many have fallen in the battle that continues, heroes like Harvey Milk, Eric Lembembe, Xulhaz Mannan, and too many others.  Matthew Shepherd—killed for the crime of being himself—would have turned 40 this year.

“Whether we are talking about race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, this fight for equal rights is what our history and values demand.  It is also profoundly in our interests.  If we reduce the disparities that can lead to instability and violence, we increase our shared security.  Countries do better—across every metric—when they tap the talents of all their people.  A 2014 USAID study estimates that expanding rights for a country’s LGBT population is associated with an increase in GDP.  So, advancing equality is both morally right and strategically smart.”

“We applaud the Obama administration for taking a bold and principled stand to ensure that American foreign aid dollars cannot be used to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said Robert Bank, President and CEO of American Jewish World Service. “As an organization that supports advocacy efforts for the human rights for LGBT communities in 13 developing countries and provides disaster relief alongside USAID, AJWS understand how badly this new non-discrimination policy is needed. Too often, we have witnessed how LGBT people are cut off from aid because of discrimination by USAID contractors and international aid organizations. We believe that foreign aid must be delivered fairly and justly to all in need, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“Crucially, USAID’s new anti-discrimination policy provides a strong model for the more than 20 executive agencies of the federal government that distribute foreign assistance dollars,” Bank said. “We urge the President and the Obama Administration to build on this new non-discrimination policy and require all aid agencies to adopt full non-discrimination clauses in their contracting, grantmaking and procurement policies. These policies should apply both nationally and internationally, pertain to agency contractors and grantees, and strive to prohibit both discrimination against LGBT people in the provision of services as well as employment. USAID’s new non-discrimination policy in contracting services brings us one step closer to using the power of U.S. government and its funds to pursue international development as inclusively as possible.”

The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus also applauded the USAID announcement.

“On behalf of the LGBT Equality Caucus, I thank USAID for this critical nondiscrimination rule,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. David Cicilline (RI – 1).  “Both here in the United States and abroad, LGBT people are routinely targets of violence and discrimination. USAID’s latest rule shows the world that we take the wellbeing of LGBT people seriously, and that we will not tolerate denying LGBT people critical services.”

“I am happy to hear of USAID’s latest rule,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Vice-Chair Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA – 47).  “U.S. foreign assistance is a critical part of our mission to promote human rights across the globe, and LGBT individuals are often those in dire need of these services. USAID’s rule ensures that all marginalized communities can access its programs without fear of being turned away arbitrarily.”

By explicitly including sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, USAID is ensuring that LGBT communities across the world are able to access its often life-saving services, spanning from HIV/AIDS treatment to food aid.  This rule reinforces the U.S.’s commitment to equality, fairness, and dignity, and shows that the U.S. government does not tolerate discrimination of any kind.  USAID’s latest nondiscrimination rule follows other efforts by the administration to promote and protect the rights of LGBT persons across the world, and to ensure equality broadly.

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GLAAD: Time to use LGBTQ not LGBT Thu, 27 Oct 2016 17:59:15 +0000

GLAAD Media Guide 2016NEW YORK, NY – GLAAD has released the tenth edition of its Media Reference Guide, the industry standard style guide for reporting on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and the issues that affect their lives.

The newly released tenth edition of the guide includes an updated terminology section and, for the first time, encourages journalists and other media content creators to adopt the use of ‘LGBTQ’ as the preferred acronym to most inclusively describe the community.

“On one level, it is just adding another letter,” says Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO. “But really it is bringing a whole new definition to the way we describe ourselves. It’s the start of a bigger shift.”

“Queer” existed as a slur for a long time, an arrow slung at people to make them feel like freaks or deviants, writes Katy Steinmetz in Time. The oldest meaning, going back to the 1500s, is strange, peculiar or questionable, and the word will still ring pejorative in many older people’s ears. Yet around the time of the AIDS crisis groups really started to reclaim it (“We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”), and today young people are increasingly gravitating toward this label, one with no precise definition related to sexuality or gender. Which is the point.

For more than two decades, the GLAAD Media Reference Guide has provided journalists with the essential information they need to report fairly and accurately on the LGBTQ community. The GLAAD Media Reference Guide has also informed the style guides of leading news organizations including The Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others.

The word has been on the rise for the past several years, as has the acronym, Steinmetz continues.   Some media outlets are already using it, as are lots of advocacy organizations and even government programs. Teen magazines from outlets like Vogue are “going queer.” Liberal politicians are using the five-letter version, as are some Republicans. (Donald Trump used “LGBTQ” during his acceptance speech at the convention this summer. Twice.) When the National Park Service embarked on a mission to identify places of significance related to sexual and gender minorities two years ago, one of the first actions scholars recommended was changing the title of that mission from an “LGBT heritage initiative” to an “LGBTQ” one, so as “to have the initiative be explicitly inclusive of those who, for personal or political reasons, do not feel represented by lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identifiers,” as the eventual report explained.

GLAAD today also renewed its commitment to working on behalf of queer-identified people, updating its mission to include “queer” in the organization’s work to accelerate acceptance for LGBTQ people. GLAAD’s powerful media programs will continue to share stories from the LGBTQ community that lead national dialogue, build understanding, and drive acceptance forward.

“The GLAAD Media Reference Guide is the industry standard for fair and accurate reporting on the LGBTQ community, and informs the style guides of the world’s leading news organizations,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “This latest edition reflects the increasingly diverse ways LGBTQ people, especially young people, talk about their identities.”

Additional updates to the GLAAD Media Reference Guide include an updated glossary of terms that includes “Asexual,” “Aromantic,” and “Intersex”; an updated transgender terminology section; and updated In Focus sections for reporting on the bisexual community, nondiscrimination laws, religion and faith, and HIV & AIDS.

The tenth edition of the GLAAD Media Reference Guide is available here:

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PSEG partners with The Tyler Clementi Center at Rutgers University Thu, 27 Oct 2016 17:34:55 +0000

PSEGNEWARK, N.J., — Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), a publicly traded diversified energy company, and The Tyler Clementi Center at Rutgers University have partnered to help provide incentives to New Jersey public high schools interested in offering the LGBTQ Youth Empowerment Initiative to their LGBTQ student population and allies.

Through a $10,000 grant from the PSEG Foundation, the Tyler Clementi Center at Rutgers University will fund The LGBTQ Youth Empowerment Initiative. The Initiative is designed to encourage New Jersey public high schools to apply for grants to partner with the Tyler Clementi Center on day-long youth events to help improve the health and well-being, academic performance, and graduation rates among LGBTQ students.

“We are proud to be part of such a critically important social initiative that will help school leaders feel empowered to speak to students about their needs and develop resources to help bridge the gap between trusted adults and LGBTQ students,” said Ellen Lambert, President of the PSEG Foundation. “In both school and work environments, we strive to create inclusive cultures that allow everyone to succeed.”

“The Tyler Clementi Center is thrilled to be partnering with the PSEG Foundation on such an important initiative.  While LGBTQ youth are more visible than ever in our schools, many continue to cope with social stigma, peer aggression/bullying, and fragmented support networks,” said Maren Greathouse, director, Tyler Clementi Center. “This partnership with PSEG will provide critical support to LGBTQ youth and their allies, and prepare teachers and administrators to carry on this work in their respective schools.”

The workshops will help engage all students in meaningful discussions about identity development, coping strategies, constructive methods for responding to anti-LGBTQ violence, and improve overall relationships between LGBTQ students and allies.  Students will be invited to participate in a statewide climate survey that measures school, home and neighborhood environment, overall health and academic aspirations — providing an in-depth snapshot of the experiences and needs of LGBTQ youth across New Jersey.

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HRC launches new ad featuring mother of Pulse Nightclub victim (VIDEO) Wed, 26 Oct 2016 19:51:55 +0000

WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released a new digital ad featuring Christine Leinonen, the mother of Christopher “Drew” Leinonen — a young man shot and killed along with his boyfriend, Juan Guerrero, and 47 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

In the ad, Christine speaks directly to American voters, saying, “We have to continue moving forward as an inclusive society. If you love a gay person, if you know someone who’s gay, and you truly really love them, I don’t know how you could justify a vote for Donald Trump.”

“This heartbreaking plea from Christopher’s mother is a sobering reminder of the responsibility we have to the 49 LGBTQ people and allies who lost their lives in Orlando that tragic night at the Pulse nightclub,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We have a responsibility to not only find commonsense solutions to gun violence, but to ensure we continue moving forward as a nation towards full equality for LGBTQ people. While Donald Trump threatens to drag us backwards, time and again Hillary Clinton has demonstrated through her words and actions that she has the vision and leadership to unite us and move this country forward. Let’s make sure the voices of Christopher, Juan, and the countless others who have lost their lives to hatred are heard on November 8.”

In the digital ad, Christine says about her son, “He had the kind of personality that brought people together — all people. And that’s why he supported Hillary Clinton. He was impressed with her as a leader. She wants to bring everybody to the table.” In her appeal to voters, she goes on to say, “Think about Christopher. He lost his right to vote. You still have the right to vote. Vote for the future you would want Christopher to have. He’ll be happy you gave him his vote for Hillary Clinton. I would be happy that you gave Christopher a voice.”

Watch the full digital ad above. Two 30-second versions of the ad can be found here and here.

In June, HRC made a significant policy announcement in the aftermath of the hate-fueled attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, endorsing common-sense gun violence prevention measures. They include limiting access to assault-style rifles, expanding background checks, and limiting the ability of suspected terrorists and those with a history of domestic abuse to access guns. For decades, LGBTQ people have been a target for bias-motivated violence; easy access to deadly weapons has compounded this threat.

In addition to her historic pro-LGBTQ equality platform, Hillary Clinton has a long record of advocating for commonsense approaches to reduce gun violence. While making clear her support for the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, she has promised as President to expand background checks, take on the gun lobby, and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and other violent criminals. More on her platform can be found here.

The new ad is part of HRC’s unprecedented get-out-the-vote digital campaign aimed at 10 million LGBTQ voters and millions more of potential pro-equality voters nationwide.

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More jobs lost in N.C. due to HB 2 Tue, 25 Oct 2016 19:51:57 +0000
Charlotte city center

Charlotte city center

North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2 has cost the city of Charlotte 730 new jobs and an approximately $8.2 million in initial investment by CoStar Group Inc. after the company selected Richmond for a new research operations headquarters.

The Charlotte Business Journal quoted David Dorsch, senior vice president at Cushman & Wakefield’s Charlotte office as saying, “The primary reason they chose Richmond over Charlotte was HB2.”

Cushman & Wakefield was representing CoStar nationally, and Dorsch said he had been working with CoStar in its local real estate search for most of 2016. He said the company was looking at downtown new construction for about 100,000 square feet, the report continued.

“(CoStar) is a great company; they’re a world leader in commercial real estate,” Dorsch said. “Their not coming here is a commentary on Gov. Pat McCrory and Mayor Jennifer Roberts … HB2 is a problem that was, in my opinion, led by those two people.

“This would come on the heels of a growing list of companies that have not moved to Charlotte as a result of HB2,” Dorsch continued.

After the news broke, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin and Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro released the following statements:

“With each passing day that Governor McCrory’s discriminatory HB2 remains law the people of North Carolina continue to pay the price,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “North Carolina and its people are suffering under HB2, and yet Governor McCrory and his allies continue to defend the indefensible. Governor McCrory has proven he is unfit to lead this great state, and the majority of fair-minded North Carolinians will finally have a chance to make their voices heard on Election Day.”
“What a travesty — our state has lost 730 more jobs because of Governor McCrory’s bad bill,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “HB2 puts LGBT people at risk for discrimination and violence and it’s hurting all North Carolinians every day. Where are Pat McCrory’s priorities? 200 days after he signed this bill, he still refuses to step up and fix the mess he made of our state. Shame on him for putting his politics above our economy.”
Pat McCrory has refused to fully repeal HB2, despite massive economic fallout as companies concerned with protecting their consumers and employees have moved conventions, trainings, operations and productions out of state. Since Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers rammed HB2 into law, the outcry has continued to grow:
  • The NBA announced it was moving the 2017 All-Star Game because of the failure of the General Assembly to repeal HB2, costing North Carolina an estimated $100 million in All-Star Game related profits.

  • The NCAA, the ACC and the CIAA also announced they would stand up for the safety of their employees, players, and fans by moving championship games out of North Carolina due to the state’s refusal to repeal its anti-LGBTQ HB2 law.

  • More than 200 major CEOs and business leaders signed an open letter calling for full repeal of HB2 – including many of North Carolina’s largest employers. More than 50 investment managers with more than $2.1 trillion in investments signed a similar letter.

  • Major film studios and corporations, from PayPal to Deutsche Bank, have stopped investments in the state because of the new law’s threat to employees and consumers. Conventions have withdrawn from the state, taking substantial revenue with them. Prior to the NBA and NCAA decisions, the Tar Heel State had already taken a hit of at least $329.9 million in lost business, and in taxpayer money used to defend the measure – including funding Gov. Pat McCrory’s road trips to explain why he signed discrimination into law.

  • Artists including Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, Dead & Company and Cyndi Lauper have spoken out.

  • In May, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit in federal court, stating that HB2’s state-mandated discrimination against transgender people, including government workers and students, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Act of 2011.

  • Joined by 68 major companies, HRC filed an amicus brief in support of DOJ’s effort to block some of the most egregious and discriminatory components of HB2.

  • Duke University men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski called the bill “embarrassing” and North Carolina State University men’s basketball coach Mark Gottfried said it “appalled” and “embarrassed” him.

]]> 0 Legendary LGBTQ filmmaker and human rights activist Pat Rocco to receive inaugural Troy Perry Medal of Pride Tue, 25 Oct 2016 19:31:21 +0000

Pat RoccoLOS ANGELES, Calif. – Legendary LGBTQ filmmaker and human rights activist Pat Rocco will receive the inaugural Troy Perry Medal of Pride, honoring LGBTQ people and allies who are on the front lines of community activism around the world.  In recognition of LGBTQ History Month, the award will be presented by Rev. Troy Perry, in whose name the awards have been created, at a special event launching The Lavender Effect® Queer History Channel and Student Filmmaker Competition at the W Hollywood Hotel, Oct. 26 from 6-8 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public at the Rooftop Pool.

Pat Rocco captured some of the most important historic moments of LGBTQ history on film during the 1960s and 1970s, including the first march from Olivera Street to the State Building in Los Angeles, candlelight marches, protests at famed West Hollywood bar Barney’s Beanery, the first gay pride parade and countless other events.  Most of these early events and protests were led by LGBTQ human rights activist Rev. Troy Perry.

Rev. Troy D. Perry is a renowned international LGBTQ human rights activist, a pioneer in social equality, legal protection and spiritual justice for LGBTQ people.  Rev. Perry led historic gay rights marches in the 1960’s and co-founded the Christopher Street West organization to launch the first LA PRIDE event in 1970.  He is perhaps best known as a leader in the marriage equality movement and the founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) denomination, the first church to recognize the spiritual needs of the gay community which sparked a worldwide movement, now with more than 160 churches in 33 countries.

In addition to Pat Rocco, Jamaican LGBT human rights activist Angeline Jackson will receive the Troy Perry Medal of Pride at the October 26 event. Angeline is an LGBTQ activist, HIV/AIDS educator, and the Executive Director of Quality of Citizenship Jamaica, the first organization specifically for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in Jamaica.  The Troy Perry Medal of Pride is a year-round program of Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Community Charities to honor LGBTQ people and allies engaged in community action.  The annual Troy Perry New Vision Awards will be presented to innovative community leaders and their programs in June 2017.

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Voter registration deadline is today, Oct. 24 at 11:59pm! Mon, 24 Oct 2016 19:05:46 +0000

Vote 4

Victory starts with voting!
With so much at stake this election, it’s absolutely vital that everyone who is eligible gets out and votes. In order to be able to vote on Nov. 8, all California voters must be registered by 11:59pm today- Monday, Oct. 24. If you’ve never registered before, recently moved, changed political parties, or need up to update your information, make sure to register to vote now!

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HRC releases new Florida ad in Spanish and English (VIDEO) Mon, 24 Oct 2016 18:43:41 +0000

WASHINGTON – Sunday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released a new digital ad in Florida: Ricardo. It features Ricardo Negron-Almodovar, an Orlando resident and survivor of the tragic June attack on the Pulse nightclub, who emphasizes the importance of voting to make real change. Sunday was the first day of in-person early voting in Florida.

Ricardo, who will cast his first-ever vote in a presidential election this November, talks about what it means for him to participate in the political process: “You have to vote. Let your voice be heard. Every issue that we face has a root at the political level. We are a force to be reckoned with if we organize.”

In a longer version of the ad (below), Ricardo movingly shares the horror he experienced during the Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead and 53 wounded, and how it underscored the importance of political participation by Latinx and LGBTQ people: “Many of [the victims] were immigrants coming here looking for a better life, only to lose their lives in such a tragic way. But what it brings out is how Latino issues and LGBT issues are issues that affect everybody.”

“What happened in Orlando wasn’t just an attack on the Pulse nightclub that stole the lives of 49 innocent people, most of them members of the Latinx community — it was an attack on the fundamental right of LGBTQ people to live and love,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “People like Ricardo are a reminder that despite this horrific attack, our community will never be silenced or defeated. We must continue to stand up and ensure our voices are heard. The most effective way to do that is at the ballot box this November.”

Ricardo is part of HRC’s digital campaign that is targeting pro-equality voters across Florida, focusing on Orlando, Jacksonville, Broward, and Miami-Dade. In Orlando, half of the millennial voter contacts HRC is making are Hispanic. There are an estimated 550,000 LGBTQ voters in Florida, a state where the margin of victory in the 2012 presidential election was 74,309.

The campaign is part of a larger get-out-the-vote effort aimed at mobilizing the 10 million LGBTQ voters nationwide.

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Meet the ‘Bad Hombres’ and ‘Nasty Women’ driving the economy Mon, 24 Oct 2016 00:30:26 +0000

Bad HombresWASHINGTON, D.C.- Main Street Alliance, a national network of state-based small business coalitions, is committed to representing the diversity of the business owners and customers in local Main Street communities. Women, people of color, and immigrants own businesses, frequent local businesses, and are the economic drivers lifting us out of the Great Recession. These are the hardworking small business owners that Donald Trump insulted on a national stage during the third and final presidential debate.

“As a Mexican immigrant and the owner of an architecture firm I make my living building walls. My walls are to house families and keep people safe, not to keep good people out. I’ve been in business for a decade and I see the contributions of fellow immigrants, documented and undocumented, on our local communities. Turning voters against them, and supporting a policy that locks them out of our economy would be a disaster for our country,” said Francisco Garcia, the owner of The Building Workshop in San Diego.

Francisco is a leader with the recently launched Main Street Alliance project in San Diego and has advocated social responsibility and economy-boosting investments, such as increased wages and access to paid sick days.

“My parents, who immigrated from Mexico, have been working, paying taxes and building a family here in the US for over 40 years. They have suffered because of people like Donald Trump. To them, and to many of us, he is the “bad hombre,” said Jose Gonzalez, President and Principal Broker of Tu Casa Real Estate in Salem, Oregon. “I am blessed to have been born here in the U.S., but I look like my parents and I could just as easily be an immigrant. When Mr. Trump talks about immigrants the way he does he creates an image of people like me in the minds of his supporters. To them, I am a criminal, and frankly, I’ve had enough of Mr. Trump and I look forward to defeating him on election day.”

In addition to serving on the National Steering Committee of Main Street Alliance, Jose is Board President of the Latino Business Alliance and Vice-Chair of FHDC, the Farmworker Housing Development Corporation. He is a dedicated community servant, working to develop strong local economies and communities.

“Donald Trump calling Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” is an affront to women everywhere. Insulting his rivals and taking to Twitter to disparage women has become more important to him than the issues impacting Main Street,” said Megan Baker, co-owner of Orange Blossom Jamboree in Brooksville, Florida. “He formed a small business advisory council just four days ago and it’s obvious we haven’t been a priority for him. His tax policy skews towards large corporations and the rich, his immigration policy is a mass deportation of members of my customer base. On women’s issues, and on issues impacting small business owners, Donald Trump is just WRONG.”

Megan and her business partners cultivate artists and musicians from across the southeastern states, many of whom are new immigrants and first-generation. Their marquee annual music and arts festival played host to over 3,000 attendees and over 150 food and merchandise vendors. Megan is a leader with the Main Street Alliance of Florida.

“What’s nasty is Donald Trump’s treatment of women and his proposals on immigration. If his policies were put in place it would tear our communities apart and threaten our businesses. It’s time we put our foot down on immigration and the issues important to real job creators,” said ReShonda Young, the owner of Popcorn Heaven in Waterloo, Iowa and Main Street Alliance Executive Committee Member. “Had Mr. Trump formed a small business advisory council before this past weekend I’m sure he would have heard the same concerns from his advisers. On taxes, on immigration, and on the issues important to small business owners, Mr. Trump gets it WRONG.”

ReShonda opened Popcorn Heaven in Waterloo, Iowa in 2014 after years of experience helping her father run his small business. She was recently awarded the White House Champions of Change Award for her work on pay equity, health care reform, and minimum wage. ReShonda is a leader with the Main Street Alliance in Iowa and nationally. She is a member of the Main Street Alliance National Executive Committee.

Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “business genius” is lost on Main Street small business owners. Had Mr. Trump formed a small business advisory council sooner he would likely have heard the concerns our members are expressing. Instead, his policy is written, and his misses the mark on immigration, taxes, issues impacting women, and policy that fuels local economic growth.

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Local West Hollywood leaders speak out against big tobacco’s heavy marketing to the LGBTQ community Sat, 22 Oct 2016 14:00:15 +0000

LOS ANGELESWith the countdown to election day in full swing, dozens of city leaders across the state are gathering to educate voters of the importance of Prop 56.  The campaign’s latest supporters, West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran, Councilmember Lindsey Horvath and local community and advocacy leaders, joined forces with Yes on Prop 56 to stand up to big tobacco’s LGBTQ youth targeted marketing tactics, highlight the negative impacts of tobacco on LGBTQ communities.

Big tobacco’s advertising and marketing tactics have long targeted LGBTQ Americans. Tobacco companies spend $9 billion every year marketing their deadly, costly products, intentionally targeting LGBTQ communities through advertising and event sponsorship. Nationally, the American Cancer Society estimates that 30,000 LGBTQ Americans die from tobacco-related diseases annually.

“The additional tax on tobacco products will boost Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for the poor,” said Councilmember John Duran.  “It’s appropriate since many smokers who develop heart and lung disease due to tobacco end up being cared for by Medi-Cal.”

“Big tobacco has a long, well-chronicled track record of targeting young people and LGBTQ people with smoking ads. They don’t care about us; they’re just trying to add to their profits,” said Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath. “They spend millions on deceptive advertising and hide their own involvement behind the endorsers they pay. We’re not buying it.”

The skyrocketing popularity of e-cigarettes among youths is creating a new generation of addicts.  E-cigarette vapor includes toxic chemicals and highly addictive nicotine. About 21% of California youths reported they use e-cigarettes and other electronic vapor products, and 45% reported using them at one point, according to a 2015 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Teens who try e-cigarettes are at least two times more likely to try traditional cigarettes.

“The main reason we support this measure is because tobacco is a leading cause of death for the LGBT community and we believe raising the prices on cigarettes has been shown to effectively reduce smoking,” said Dave Garcia, Director of Policy and Community Building for the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “The smoking rate among LGBT community in California is 27.4 percent, compared to a heterosexual smoking rate of 12.9 percent.”

“Every year, LGBT Americans spend $7.9 billion on tobacco products,” said Tony Hoang, Deputy Director of Equality California.  “To put this in perspective, this is 65 times more than what is spent on lobbying for LGBT issues. Smoking is not only bad for our health, it’s bad for our wallets and our community’s progress.”


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HRC release new ad featuring Hillary Clinton’s commitment to LGBTQ equality (VIDEO) Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:21:37 +0000

WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released a new video ad featuring Hillary Clinton’s historic commitment to fighting for full LGBTQ equality.

“Time and again Hillary Clinton has demonstrated through her words and actions that she is committed to fighting for full LGBTQ equality,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “All of the progress we’ve achieved is at stake in this election. While Donald Trump continues his hate-filled campaign and threatens to drag us backwards, Hillary Clinton will fight to break down the walls of discrimination that still hold us back. It’s crucially important that pro-equality Americans turn out and vote for Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States.”

In the video, Hillary Clinton says, “We need to build an America where no one has to worry that they can get married on Saturday and be fired on Monday; where kids aren’t bullied just because of who they are; and where every American has the chance to live up to his or her God-given potential, no matter who they are or who they love.”

Watch the video above.

In addition to her long record as a champion for LGBTQ rights both in the U.S. and around the globe, Hillary Clinton has proposed the most robust pro-LGBTQ equality agenda of any presidential candidate in history. She has called the Equality Act her “highest priority,” and her detailed LGBTQ policy platform specifically calls for outlawing dangerous “conversion therapy” for minors, ending the epidemic of transgender violence, and supporting HIV prevention and affordable treatment, among other proposals that would advance equality and support the LGBTQ community. Find out more at

The new video is part of HRC’s unprecedented digital campaign in a get-out-the-vote effort aimed at more than 2 million potential pro-equality voters nationwide.

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Transgender military student facing discrimination at the direction of U.S. Department of Defense Education official Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:14:54 +0000

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) military families, expressed deep concern over the way a transgender student is being discriminated against by a U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) elementary school at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. At the direction of DoDEA District Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Dunham – and in direct disregard of guidance issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice – the transgender girl is being denied access to the restroom consistent with her gender identity.

“This superintendent’s decision to violate the civil rights of this transgender student is alarming,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “All students, regardless of their gender identity, deserve to be able to go to school in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. The Department of Defense school system is currently observing October as National Bullying Prevention Month, yet this superintendent has unacceptably chosen to single out and discriminate against a student because of her gender identity. Transgender youth already face high rates of marginalization, bullying, and harassment, and we urge the Director of the Department of Defense Education Activity, Mr. Thomas Brady, to immediately step in and correct this unconscionable decision.”

As reported today by NBC News, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense issued a statement late last night, saying, “In guidelines issued on May 13, 2016, the Departments of Education and Justice advised school districts to allow students who are transgender access to restroom facilities and other accommodations consistent with their gender identity.” The spokesperson went on to say, “Accordingly, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs will engage and reaffirm the guidance with schools and other facilities that provide services to school aged children.”

In May of this year, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released guidance to help schools ensure the civil rights of transgender students, including by ensuring they have access to restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. As stated in the release of the guidance, “Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status.”

Discriminatory bathroom policies can have serious health consequences for transgender people who often avoid using public restrooms out of fear of violence and harassment. In an important survey on the impact these discriminatory policies have on transgender people, the Williams Institute found that “54 percent of all respondents reported having some sort of physical problem from trying to avoid using public restrooms, such as dehydration, kidney infections, and urinary tract infections.”

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Generic drugs save California $20.1 billion Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:31:46 +0000

Medicine & MoneyWASHINGTON, D.C. – Annual savings from generic prescription drugs increased 328 percent from 2005-2016, according to the new 2016 Generic Drug Savings and Access in the United States report, compiled by the QuintilesIMS Institute on behalf of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA). This report confirms again that generic drugs are essential to reducing health costs and play a critical role in growing patient access.

“Generic drugs are the foundation of any successful effort to lower health spending and increase patient access to affordable medicine,” said Chip Davis, president and CEO, GPhA. “A diverse group of experts — the federal government, pharmacy benefit managers, consumer groups and others — agree that generic drugs drive system savings, not costs. More can be done to increase patient access to safe, effective and more affordable generic medicines. GPhA will continue working with policymakers, regulators and others to bring greater health savings to our country. That effort begins with policy that builds on this industry’s record of significant savings and promotes generic competition.”

Key findings from this year’s report include:
• Generic drugs are 89% of prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. but only 27% of drug costs
• $227 billion in 2015 savings
• $1.46 trillion 10-year savings (2006-2015)
• Medicare savings: $67.6 billion in 2015 which translates to savings of $1,737 per enrollee
• Medicaid savings: $32.7 billion which translates to savings of $450 per enrollee.

Nearly 3.9 billion of the total 4.4 billion prescriptions dispensed in the United States are for generics. Generics make up 89% of prescriptions dispensed but only 27% of total medicine spending. Put another way, brand drugs are 11% of prescriptions and responsible for 73% of drug costs.

The report also looks at state-by state savings and generic savings by therapy area. Notably, the most savings from generic drugs were found in mental health ($34.4 billion), hypertension ($25.8 billion) and cholesterol ($24.5 billion) treatments.

View the full report on the GPhA Web site at

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Sobering data drives home need to expand teen DUI prevention program Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:13:09 +0000

TREDSIn an effort to put the brakes on sobering statistics related to teenagers driving under the influence, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine will join forces with the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) to reduce alcohol-impaired driving among San Diego youth ages 15 to 20.

With funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the UC San Diego Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety Program (TREDS) will contribute to SDPD’s Teen Alcohol Awareness Program (TAAP) by implementing an evaluation component and delivering sessions to parents about how to most effectively communicate with their kids about drinking and driving. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 74 percent of youth under age 18 identify their parents as the leading influence in their decisions about drinking.

“In a recent survey, one out of ten high school students admitted to driving after drinking and one in four had been a passenger with a driver who had been drinking. Parental involvement can help guide teens away from substance use while driving,” said Linda Hill, MD, MPH, program director of TREDS and professor of family medicine and public health at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

TAPP classes, hosted at the SDPD headquarters, educate teenagers and parents about the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence, as well as the responsibilities of social hosting and the penalties for violating current local ordinances.

To further support teens in making the right choice about drinking and driving, SDPD and Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) San Diego will collaborate with UC San Diego School of Medicine to deliver sober driving education at local high schools and implement a social media campaign focusing on prevention and intervention strategies.

“Alcohol-involved crash fatalities increased nearly 8 percent just last year and drug involved crash fatalities have increased nearly 14 percent in the past decade, according to the California DUI-MIS 2015 report,” said Nancy Gannon Hornberger, CEO of SAY San Diego. “We are honored to work collaboratively with UC San Diego TREDS and the SDPD on this new Sober Driving campaign. Together, we will involve parents and community members to reverse these trends and prevent such tragedy in the lives of young people and their families.”

“Working with TREDS will provide a broader reach for TAAP to provide expertise on substance abuse trends and related laws to our target demographics,” said Lieutenant Scott Bender of the SDPD Traffic Division.

October 16-22 is National Teen Driver Safety Week, an opportunity to learn more about the life-threatening issues facing youth behind the wheel and what can be done to resolve them.

TREDS also recently received funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety to extend the following programs.

Just Drive – Take Action Against Distraction

This program targets the general adult population about the dangers of distracted and drowsy driving and provides practical strategies to reduce those risks. Classes will soon be available in both English and Spanish, as well as job specific curricula to meet the needs of commercial drivers and first responders.   TREDS continues to assist companies with the development of worksite cell phone policies to keep employees safe while driving — both on and off the job.

Senior Driver Safety

This program educates health professionals, law enforcement and social service providers, who all play a role in the identification and referral of older adults with impairments that affect driving. The program’s activities include both in-person and online training to promote safe driving and mobility with older roadway users. The program information is also disseminated through professional societies, conferences and publications.

To learn about TREDS, visit

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ACLU, Lambda Legal file brief to protect all transgender people harmed by HB 2 Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:47:42 +0000

RICHMOND, Va. — In a lawsuit challenging the North Carolina law banning transgender people from using restrooms that correspond to their gender identity, LGBT rights groups yesterday asked a federal appeals court to broaden a preliminary injunction in order to protect all transgender people in the state from discrimination.

In August, a district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the North Carolina university system from enforcing H.B. 2 against the three individual transgender plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Carcaño v. McCrory, which is scheduled for trial in May 2017. The advocates also asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to expedite the appeal and schedule oral argument for January.

“Every day that H.B. 2 singles out transgender North Carolinians — whether at school, at work, or just moving through their daily lives — is another day that the transgender community is told that they are second class,” said Chris Brook, ACLU of North Carolina legal director. “Though the district court recognized the serious harm to three of our clients at UNC as a result of H.B. 2, that recognition unfortunately didn’t extend to the harms that law inflicts on other transgender individuals in public buildings across North Carolina. We hope and expect that the Fourth Circuit will expand this ruling to protect all transgender people.”

The appeal brief filed yesterday argues that H.B. 2 violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it specifically targets transgender people, and that discrimination against transgender people is a form of sex discrimination. While North Carolina has argued that H.B. 2 advances interests in public safety and privacy, ACLU and Lambda Legal argue that these interests, which can be protected in other ways, do not justify the harms H.B. 2 imposes on transgender people and that to restore the status quo, the court must grant a broader preliminary injunction while the case proceeds to trial.

“H.B. 2 makes transgender North Carolinians pariahs in their own state. Courthouses, airports, libraries, public schools, highway rest stops, police departments, state hospitals, and the very halls of government itself are now unsafe for, and unwelcome to, transgender North Carolinians,” said Jon W. Davidson, national legal director at Lambda Legal. “Such unequal treatment simply cannot be squared with the Fourteenth Amendment’s promise of equality under the law. The Fourth Circuit should order this broader relief, pending trial.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal, and the law firm of Jenner & Block are challenging the law in federal court on behalf of four LGBT North Carolinians in addition to members of the ACLU of North Carolina. The lawsuit was filed days after H.B. 2 was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory. In it, the groups argue that H.B. 2 sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded to others, and that transgender individuals are expelled from public life since they are not allowed to use the restrooms and changing facilities that match who they are.

Read the appeals brief:

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Betty Ford Center to open new outpatient facility in San Diego Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:32:19 +0000

Betty Ford Clinic SDSAN DIEGO, Calif. – The Betty Ford Center has signed a lease to open a new outpatient addiction treatment facility in the San Diego area.

The treatment center, in Del Mar Heights, will start taking patients mid-December. The Betty Ford Center is part of the national non-profit Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, which will now have 17 sites across the country.

“This expansion will enable us to provide people with the world-class care they need, right where they are, and when they need it,” said Janelle Wesloh, who is serving as Interim Executive Director of the new facility. She noted the new facility will offer a full continuum of outpatient substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health services, including a teens/young adults program and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s Comprehensive Opioid Response with Twelve Steps (COR-12™) protocol.

“This beautiful new location overlooking the Torrey Pines area is a wonderful addition to the Foundation’s family of services,” added Wesloh, who is also Executive Director of Recovery Management for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and has been with the organization for 23 years. “We will be able to help even more people access the care they need – close to home and with convenient scheduling and a strong network of community resources.”

The Betty Ford Center, which has a residential treatment facility in Rancho Mirage, now will have two outpatient facilities in Southern California. The other, in West Los Angeles, opened last year. As with all locations in the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s national system of care, insurance options are available, and financial case managers will work to ensure that individuals and families seeking treatment are able to leverage their insurance benefits.

“Our new San Diego facility will offer our state-of-the-art treatment and resources for individuals and families, and will serve as a neighborhood hub for recovery support and community education,” said Wesloh, who said the new location will host a public open house on Jan. 11.

“The chronic disease of addiction demands multiple levels of care and accessible treatment that works. While our world-class, residential treatment will continue as the best option for those patients who need the highest level of care, there is a pressing demand for additional treatment options that encompass the full continuum of care. We are excited to offer proven, high-quality treatment services to the residents of San Diego and surrounding communities.”

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New report shows most Americans believe discrimination is a serious problem Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:20:35 +0000

WASHINGTON — According to the Public Affairs Council, strong majorities of Americans are concerned about all forms of discrimination — whether it’s based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, gender, disability, religion, or age. A new survey shows that the problem of racial discrimination is considered the most serious discrimination challenge the country faces, followed by gender identity (transgender) discrimination.

Attitudes about discrimination vary sharply based on political party, age, gender and other factors.

The results come from the 2016 Public Affairs Pulse survey, a telephone poll of 1,000 Americans conducted Sept. 12–17 by Public Opinion Strategies and sponsored by the Public Affairs Council.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Americans believe racial discrimination is at least a serious problem and 37 percent say it is a very serious problem. Similar percentages call gender identity discrimination at least serious (67%) or very serious (37%).

Differences Between Political Parties
Republicans, on balance, are less likely than Democrats and Independents to see discrimination across these seven areas as serious problems. The largest differences between Republicans and Democrats show up in attitudes about gender identity discrimination (46 percent of Republicans versus 84 percent of Democrats view the matter to be serious) and sexual orientation (45 percent of Republicans versus 79 percent of Democrats say this is a serious problem). The smallest difference in attitudes relates to religious discrimination (52 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of Democrats call this issue serious).

Many Business Anti-Discrimination Efforts Go Unnoticed
Major companies receive little credit for their efforts to reduce discrimination. One in three Americans (34%) think corporations have played a positive role in reducing discrimination of people with disabilities, and slightly lower percentages recognize business efforts to reduce discrimination by gender (28%), race (27%) and sexual orientation (26%). For discrimination by gender identity, religion and age, more Americans feel companies have played a negative role than positive role.

If major companies were to take steps to prevent discrimination based on any of these factors, most Americans say they would view these efforts favorably.

For full survey results and methodology, visit

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Managing Jesse Helms-style anxiety and stress Tue, 18 Oct 2016 20:13:01 +0000

Sad young men sitting under tree in the park.

This is the time of year to reflect on health with September Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, October both LGBT History Month and National Bullying Prevention Month, and with World Mental Health Day Oct. 10, Coming Out Day Oct. 11, Mental Health Awareness Week Oct. 2-8, Oct. 6 as National Depression Screening Day, and Oct. 15 as National Latino AIDS Awareness Day.

As LGBT people, we need support services especially in our youth. Many LGBT community members use support services throughout their professional lives and into retirement due to employment discrimination, marginalization and humiliation at work and the impact of such discrimination on our relationships. Support mental health services are especially important if one has other health issues, such as HIV or cancer.

In my personal situation, I considered suicide and homicide after my explosive encounter with Sen. Jesse Helms in July 1994. Fortunately, I got help through my church, my health care provider and through support groups at the Whitman Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C.

My high profile C-SPAN broadcast gay bashing by Sen. Jesse Helms in July 1994 had several immediate negative personal and career effects. My car was vandalized with a broken window and obscene graffiti. I received late night telephone calls. Some of the calls were hang- ups; others were death threats.  I got nasty notes left on my desk at work and nastier anonymous letters in the mail.

As a result my sleep suffered and fatigue and stress developed. I had bouts of shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting spells, headaches, rapid heart rate, and, finally, panic attacks.  My physician referred me to a psychologist who, after several sessions, diagnosed me with an anxiety disorder. I wanted to kill myself and I wanted to attack Helms in his Senate office.

The source of the disorder was not just Helms but the tactics he had used to obtain my government personnel folder, medical files and tax filings. The anonymous notes and calls I received made mention of personal information.  I was correct in assuming this information would be publicized and used to professionally penalize me at work. It was a hugely stressful period for me that resulted in a failed suicide attempt on the floor of my shower at my apartment.

I used a combination of several therapies to combat the anxiety that disabled me and entangled my mind in a complex web of stress. I used meditation. I tried yoga. I practiced breathing techniques. I sat in countless hours of stress therapy with professionals in Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco. I came to an understanding of how my negative experience with Jesse Helms had affected my life and my thinking. I had to learn to train my mind to deal with the past stressful experience and with future such experiences.

Eventually, I read books about writing as a way to relieve and manage stress and stressful situations. I sat with computer and began to write about anxiety, stress, my emotions and my relationships.  I identified situations that led to stress and prepared myself mentally for when I encountered them.

For me these situations were places and individuals, especially vicious individuals who said coldhearted and insensitive things about LGBT people and tactics they would use to make them work harder than others and demoralizing things they could say to LGBT employees to instill a sense of inferiority and servitude. I encountered such extreme personality types in workplaces, professional and social settings.  I had to develop strategies to effectively deal with these people and my emotions without losing myself in an anxiety state of mental entanglement that could result in panic attack and collapse.

Time did not heal the stress disorder I encountered from Jesse Helms attempting to take my career and livelihood from me. The idea still deeply distresses me. Additionally, I am distressed by the thought someone else might try to do the same thing, though more subtly than the blatantly discriminatory attempt by Jesse Helms documented for eternity in the pages of The Congressional Record.

I found a strong support base of friends, writers and colleagues helpful in overcoming the anxiety that virtually paralyzed me for a period of time. Most helpful for me though are the hours spent at computer and in conversations and speeches with others who were targets of discriminatory employment tactics and cruel workplace treatment that caused them to consider taking their own lives or the lives of others.

If you are in the situation I encountered, please know there is treatment for anxiety and depression. You can recover and have a productive and meaningful career even after a Jesse Helms-style career disaster like I had. What you and your loved ones can never recover from is suicide. That choice leaves loved ones hurting for a lifetime. Write away the anxiety. Write away the anger. Write a different and  more successful outcome for your life.

Jim Patterson is a Washington, D.C.-based writer and speaker. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Foreign Service Journal, The, and he is a contributor at He plays a reporter in the award-winning 2015 film “Selma.”

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HRC salutes San Diego for earning perfect score every year since launch of the Municipal Equality Index Mon, 17 Oct 2016 16:57:19 +0000

San Diego, California, USA downtown skyline.

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation announced that for the fifth year in a row San Diego has achieved a perfect score on HRC’s 2016 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) for establishing LGBTQ-inclusive local laws, policies and services.

“San Diego has been a leader in advancing LGBTQ rights at a local level, a fact reflected in its membership in this exceptional group of municipalities earning perfect scores every year since the inception of our Municipal Equality Index.” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “For the past five years, San Diego has stood up for its LGBTQ residents and municipal workers time and time again,, serving as an inspiring example to other municipal, state and the federal governments on how to ensure full equality for all.”

Since the MEI’s debut in 2012, the number of cities earning perfect scores has more than quintupled, and today at least 24 million people now live in cities that have more comprehensive, transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws than their state or the federal government. And cities that have been rated all five years of the MEI have improved their scores by about 20 points over that time.

Progress on transgender equality has been particularly noteworthy in cities across America this year, continuing a positive trend that the MEI has tracked — and encouraged — since 2012. Transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits are offered to employees of 86 municipalities this year — up from 66 in 2015 and 5 in 2012 — and the growth of cities offering those benefits to their employees outpaces the growth in the number of cities rated. The MEI’s Issue Brief on Transgender-Inclusive Health Benefits is available here.

For the first time this year, the MEI deducted points from the scores of cities that have non-discrimination protections containing carve-outs prohibiting individuals from using public facilities consistent with their gender identity. It also created a new category of points to recognize cities that are offering transgender-specific city services.

Two special reports are also included in the 2016 MEI: Power Struggles and Preemption details efforts by anti-equality officials at the state level to pass discriminatory legislation like North Carolina’s HB2 law that strip municipalities of their ability to protect their residents and workers with non-discrimination measures. Inclusive and Innovative Approaches to Citywide Bullying Prevention lays out the serious public health issue of bullying, how it disproportionately affects LGBTQ youth, and innovative ways municipalities can protect its young people from bullying. The 2018 MEI will change the way it assesses anti-bullying issues, as described in this brief.

Other key findings from the 2016 Municipal Equality Index include:

  • 87 cities from states without nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people scored above the overall nationwide mean of 55 points. These cities averaged 80-point scores; 22 scored a perfect 100.
  • Cities continue to excel even in the absence of state laws: 37 “All Star” cities in states lacking comprehensive non-discrimination laws scored a perfect 100 score, up from 31 last year, 15 in 2014, eight in 2013, and just two in 2012.
  • The average city score was 55 points. 60 cities, or 12 percent of those rated, scored 100 points; 25 percent scored over 75 points; 25 percent scored under 33 points; and 8 cities scored zero points.
  • Cities with a higher proportion of same-sex couples, as tabulated by a UCLA Williams Institute analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, tended to score better. The presence of openly-LGBTQ city officials was also correlated with higher scores.

The MEI rated 506 cities: the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities (including undergraduate and graduate enrollment), 75 cities and municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples, and 98 cities selected by members and supporters of HRC and Equality Federation state organizations.

The MEI rates cities based on 44 criteria that fall into five broad categories:

  1. Non-discrimination laws
  2. Municipal employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage and non-discrimination requirements for contractors
  3. Inclusiveness of city services
  4. Law enforcement, including hate crimes reporting
  5. Municipal leadership on matters of equality

The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at


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HRC announces further endorsements in North Carolina Fri, 14 Oct 2016 16:57:00 +0000
Linda Coleman and Josh Stein

Linda Coleman and Josh Stein

WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign announced two endorsements in North Carolina.

The first endorsement is of Linda Coleman for the office of North Carolina lieutenant governor. The office is currently held by Dan Forest.

“Working with Roy Cooper as governor, Linda Coleman will help repair the damage inflicted on North Carolina and ensure everyone, including LGBTQ people, can live free from fear of discrimination,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “Linda Coleman is a leader who believes in fairness and equality, and HRC is proud to endorse her campaign.”

Coleman’s opponent. Dan Forest, has been one of Pat McCrory’s biggest defenders on HB2, launching vile smears to defend the dangerous law. Forest claimed that HB2 was an “anti-discrimination law,” even though it writes discrimination into state law and prevents local communities from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances.

HRC then announced its endorsement of Josh Stein for the office of North Carolina Attorney General, which is being vacated by Roy Cooper.

“The Human Rights Campaign is proud to endorse Josh Stein, who understands that LGBTQ people deserve equal treatment under the law, nothing more, and nothing less,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof.  “Josh Stein will work to ensure that LGBTQ North Carolinians can live their lives free from fear of discrimination.”

Stein’s opponent, Buck Newton, has been an outspoken defender of the vile and dangerous HB2. While defending the law in April, Newton notoriously told a crowd, “Go home, tell your friends and family who had to work today what this is all about and how hard we must fight to keep our state straight.”

HRC has endorsed pro-equality candidates up and down the ticket this year in North Carolina, including Roy Cooper for Governor, Deborah Ross for U.S. Senate and candidates for the General Assembly.



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Covered California looks to renew more than a million members Fri, 14 Oct 2016 16:43:09 +0000

Covered California 2SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Beginning this month, more than a million Californians are poised to renew their health coverage through the Affordable Care Act — proof that health reform in California has taken hold and is working, says the head of Covered California.

“To date, upwards of 2.5 million people have come through our doors to get coverage,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. “It’s improving the overall health of our state and making a real difference in the lives of Californians.”

One of Covered California’s first members was Amber Freitas, and she’s coming back for year four. “I would have renewed no matter what,” she said.

For Amber, having health insurance through Covered California has been lifesaving. A mother of two, Freitas recently was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I felt the lump while I was breast feeding and thought it was suspicious,” Freitas said.

Two weeks after Freitas first discovered the lump in her breast, she was on an operating table and then faced an intense regimen of chemotherapy and follow-up surgery. “I’m 34-years-old,” Freitas exclaimed. “I never thought I would be really sick!”

And while life-saving stories like Amber’s are abundant, considerable attention is currently being placed on health insurance rate increases for 2017. Covered California’s average statewide increase will be 13.2 percent, up from an average 4 percent the past two years.

Freitas can understand concerns over rising health care costs, but when it comes to renewing your health coverage, she says, “If you’re going to spend your money on anything how about spending on securing what’s most important. Your life!”

Meanwhile, Lee explained the bump in health insurance rates is in part due to the ending of a three-year federal program that put controls in place to limit the amount of rate increases. Even with the rate controls gone, most consumers could see a much smaller increase — or even pay less next year — if they switch to another plan. That’s where Lee says comparing plans side-by-side, comes in.

“Shopping is going to be more important this year than ever,” Lee said. “Almost 80 percent of our consumers will either be able to pay less than they are paying now, or see their rates go up by no more than 5 percent, if they shop and buy the lowest-cost plan at their same benefit level. That’s the power of shopping.”

If current Covered California members don’t select new health plans before Dec. 15, they will automatically be renewed into their existing plans and then health plans will send them invoices containing the new 2017 monthly rates. Even after being renewed, members still have until the end of Covered California’s three-month open-enrollment period — running from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31 — to change their minds and select different health plans.

As an added bonus for renewing members, more than 90 percent of them will be able to choose between three or more brand-name health insurance carriers in specific regions throughout the state, with all regions offering at least two health plans.

Covered California is also addressing complaints head-on about its members not being able to find doctors in their networks. Starting in 2017, health insurance companies must find and assign primary care physicians to Covered California members within 60 days of receiving payment for the first month’s premium.

“Health care reform isn’t just about making insurance affordable,” Lee noted. “It’s about doing things to make it easier for consumers to get the right care at the right time and the right place.”

Consumers looking to renew their Covered California coverage should visit or contact Certified Insurance Agents and Certified Enrollers in their local area, who can be found online here:

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Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf and the big gay con Thu, 13 Oct 2016 20:18:43 +0000
John Stumpf

John Stumpf

In 2013 the Corporate Equality Index named Wells Fargo the “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.” The CEI gave Wells Fargo a “perfect score” on its index “for the 11th consecutive year.”  This leads me to wonder if corporate corruption is included in the Corporate Equality Index. One must wonder how many LGBT crooks Wells Fargo has trained to rob customers, straight and LGBT, in the nine year corporate run of disgraced CEO John Stumpf.

As a longtime LGBT stockholder in Wells Fargo, resignation of the corrupt scoundrel Stumpf comes too late for me. I have been calling for his resignation for years.

Though I do not often agree with Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, I applauded the verbal intensity she directed at Stumpf during the Senate Banking Committee hearings into Stumpf’s role in cheating and robbing Wells Fargo customers with bogus accounts. Warren suggested Stumpf resign as CEO.

Stumpf did resign and forfeited a $41 million bonus as a crooked CEO and I truly hope he finds his crooked self in a prison cell.  These are criminal acts. Wells Fargo fired 5,300 employees for the scam, the press reports. The correct number is 5,301 including CEO scammer Stumpf.

I am one of those Wells Fargo customers scammed, as well as a stockholder. I raised the scam to Stumpf in correspondence and suggested he either resign as CEO or appoint a psychiatrist to the corporate board to provide him with dignity therapy as CEO.

Now with Stumpf gone, I suggest the Wells Fargo Board appoint Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton to run the corporation.  I believe they could restore customer and market confidence in the corporation.

The Wall Street Journal blamed Stumpf’s resignation on the bureaucratic work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They were involved. The recent Stumpf scam is not the one he has masterminded as CEO. Consider the following:

In August 2010, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup issued a 90-page opinion in the case of Guitierrez v. Wells Fargo Bank finding the corporation manipulated processing of customer debit card purchases by California customers to maximize overdraft fees in violation of California state law. Wells Fargo must pay over $200 million to customers, LGBT and straight.

In July 2012 Wells Fargo agreed to pay $175 million to settle charges that it discriminated against thousands of blacks, Latinos and other minority borrowers between 2004 and 2009. The Justice Department found Wells Fargo charged minority borrowers higher interest rates and fees on home loans than it charged white borrowers with similar credit ratings.

In November 2015 Wells Fargo agreed to return $81.6 million to homeowners after reaching a settlement with the Department of Justice over the bank’s “repeated failures” to provide bankrupt homeowners with legally required notices of mortgage payment increases.

In April 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court declined Wells Fargo’s request to review its 2010 loss at trial, where U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup entered a $203 million judgment against the bank for manipulating debit card purchases to maximize its overdraft fee revenue in violation of California state law. The April 4, 2016 decision ends the bank’s efforts to escape judgment. This was a class action suit so if you’re a Wells Fargo customer, look to receive your notice of status in the case.

In August 2016 Wells Fargo agreed to pay a $4.1 million settlement on allegations that it charged illegal fees and misled student-loan borrowers. In the current September 2016 scandal Wells Fargo fired 5,300 employees for scamming customers. It also agreed to pay $185 million in fines and refund $5 million to customers.

In June 2015 Rev. Franklin Graham, of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in North Carolina, called for Christians to boycott Wells Fargo for a TV advertisement of a lesbian couple adopting a child. My view is Christians, LGBT and straight, should boycott Wells Fargo for consistent corporate business practices that rob all of us, perhaps involving the LGBT community based on chump gay groups like the Corporate Equality Index and others.

These irrelevant gay ranking groups must consider more than a corporate LGBT friendly workplace. They must consider the corporate damage done to hardworking LGBT families who deserve to be treated honestly by the firms they trust with their business.

Former U.S. diplomat Jim Patterson is a Washington DC-based speaker and writer. His late father served with the Alabama National Guard in the 1960s and the author plays a reporter in the award-winning 2015 film “Selma.”

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ACLU takes legal action to protect rights of Minnesota transgender student Thu, 13 Oct 2016 18:01:33 +0000

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and the ACLU filed a motion yesterday to intervene on behalf of a transgender student in a lawsuit that seeks to bar trans students from using locker rooms consistent with the student’s gender identity.

The transgender girl, identified as Jane Doe to protect her privacy, is a sophomore in high school at a public school in Virginia, Minnesota. Last year she played on the girls’ basketball and track team, and she currently plays on the girls’ volleyball team. A small group of parents, acting through an organization they have named “Privacy Matters,” have filed a complaint against Doe’s school district and the U.S. Department of Education for protecting Doe from discrimination when using the locker room.

The lawsuit seeks to segregate Doe from her peers, prevent her from using the girls’ locker room. The complaint singles her out from her teammates using misleading innuendo and salacious phrasing to depict the ordinary behavior of a teenage girl dancing with the rest of her friends as threatening or scandalous, just because she is transgender.

“This lawsuit has been devastating to my daughter and our family. She just wants to live a normal life,” said the mother of Jane Doe, identified as Sarah Doe in the lawsuit.

“Providing inclusive and nondiscriminatory treatment to Jane Doe does not threaten anyone else’s privacy. The entire team talks, listens to music, and dances in the locker room as part of team camaraderie, and it is unfortunate that the plaintiffs have singled Jane Doe out from the rest of her teammates with these sensational allegations just because she is transgender,” said Joshua Block, senior staff attorney at the ACLU. “Schools can provide extra privacy protections or alternative changing areas for any student uncomfortable changing with the rest of the team, but no student has a right to unilaterally demand that transgender teammates be segregated from the team locker room.”

Doe’s brief argues that she has a right to be free from discrimination on the basis of her sex under the Constitution and Title IX, a federal law which prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. The brief also explains that using the girls’ locker room and restroom is a critical part of Doe’s medical treatment and has had a substantial positive effect on Doe’s health and well-being.

“Jane Doe wants what all of us want, to be accepted for who she is and participate as a member of the team, just like any other girl,” said Charles Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota. “It is hard enough being a teenager without being de-humanized and targeted with these false and sensational allegations.”

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in September 2016. This case is similar to lawsuits filed around the country that are trying to prevent transgender students from using the locker rooms and restrooms that match their gender identity.

Attorneys in the case include Timothy Griffin, Brian Thomson, Andrew Davis, and Ivan Ludmer of the law firm Stinson Leonard Street, Teresa Nelson of the ACLU of Minnesota, and Block of the ACLU.

The motion to intervene can be found here:

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National Gay Media Association member papers endorse Clinton for president Wed, 12 Oct 2016 19:46:13 +0000

Gay papersIn an unprecedented move, all 12 of the country’s longest-serving and most award-winning LGBT newspapers are each separately endorsing Democratic Hillary Clinton for president of the United States.

The 12 are members of the National Gay Media Association, a trade association of the nation’s major-market legacy LGBT newspapers. NGMA members have a combined circulation in print and online of more than one million readers per week.

The members of NGMA who are each endorsing Clinton in their own pages are: Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco), Washington Blade, Philadelphia Gay News, Dallas Voice, Windy City Times (Chicago), Between the Lines (Detroit), Bay Windows (Boston), Georgia Voice, SFGN (Ft. Lauderdale), Watermark (Orlando and Tampa Bay), Gay City News (New York), and The Pride LA.

This is an unprecedented joint announcement from the newspapers, because several do not engage in political endorsements: 31-year-old Windy City Times has endorsed just once in 16 years, and the Dallas Voice has never endorsed for any race in 32 years.

“This race for president is showing this country a clear choice of moving backward or moving forward on LGBTQ and other human rights,” said NGMA spokesperson Tracy Baim, publisher of Windy City Times. “We know that the LGBTQ community is made up of diverse political voices. But the homophobia, transphobia, racism, anti-immigrant and sexist nature of Republican candidate Donald Trump means that we can’t sit on the sidelines this election season.”

“Hillary Clinton has spent her career fighting for social justice,” Baim said. “While she came late to some LGBTQ issues, so did most mainstream politicians. In this presidential race, there is a clear choice to keep this country moving forward in the footsteps of President Barack Obama, the most pro-LGBTQ president in U.S. history. That choice is Hillary Clinton.”

In an op-ed for NGMA member paper the Philadelphia Gay News, Hillary Clinton talked about how, as president, she would advance the historic pro-LGBTQ equality agenda she and her running mate Tim Kaine have embraced. She is the first major-party candidate for president to write an op-ed for an LGBTQ publication. “If I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, I’ll protect the progress we’ve fought so hard to achieve—and I’ll keep fighting until every American can live free from discrimination and prejudice,” she wrote.

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Pennsylvania school hosts first high school kNOw Tech-A-Thon Wed, 12 Oct 2016 19:40:11 +0000
KT4T teens singing at the Kimmel Center lobby piano

KT4T teens singing at the Kimmel Center lobby piano

PHILADELPHIA — In a year in which all Cheltenham High School (CHS) students have been issued Chromebook computers to aid their learning, there will be another technology first in November – the first-ever, high school-wide kNOw Tech-A-Thon.

Hundreds of CHS teens will be taking part in the kNOw Tech-A-Thon on Saturday, November 12, 2016. These students will volunteer to go completely tech free for 24 hours – a commitment that includes computers, cell phones and other electronic devices. Billed as the 21st Century version of a dance-a-thon or read-a-thon, the event is a program of, which inspires young people to become more aware of the need for, and the benefits of, balance in their use of technology, and helps build awareness about technology’s impact on bullying.
This year’s kNOw Tech event is dedicated to the memory of CHS alumnus Jacob Marberger ’14 on the one year anniversary of his passing. Half of the proceeds will go to the Jacob Marberger H.A.W.K Foundation, which was established to further the principles of good citizenship Jacob exemplified. The hawk is the symbol for the foundation and H.A.W.K. stands for Honoring Activism With Kindness.”We are honored to be involved with this great project.” say Jacob’s parents, Jon and Debra Marberger. “The message of this event, that teens have the power to make positive choices in their lives, really parallels with the message we are basing the Foundation’s mission on, which is ‘Shift & Lift,’” adds Debra. “Technology is a powerful tool that can be used to knock down or lift up others,” Debra observes. “This event will help to raise consciousness about how its use is a personal choice and responsibility. We’re glad the Jacob Marberger H.A.W.K. Foundation will be a kNOw Tech beneficiary, along with the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which teaches young people to stand up to bullying.”
Members of the Cheltenham High School Choir are serving as the Teen Leaders for the event. Because many of the CHS choir members are also members of Keystone State Boychoir and Pennsylvania Girlchoir, they are familiar with kNOw Tech-A-Thons. The founder of these groups, Steven Fisher, is also the founder kNOw Tech 4 Teens. Organizer Greg Davis, a CHS senior, notes, “There are a lot of people who doubt teenagers and think that all we can do is sit on our phones for hours. We want to prove that we can live without technology and still have a strong connections, person to person and face to face.”
In the lead up to the kNOw Tech-A-Thon, CHS teens will be asking adults in their lives to become their sponsors by donating $1 an hour for each of the 24 hours of the kNOw Tech A Thon. “I’ve been asking all the people who are always telling me to stop texting…my parents, teachers,” explains CHS student Charles Miller.
The 24 tech-free hours will be filled with activities that will allow the teens to connect with their peers without the help or distraction of technology. Activities include a game of “kNOw Tech Ultimate Frisbee,” a hiking trip to Hawk Mountain, a “kNOw Tech @ The Table” excursion, where the teens will share a tech-free meal at a downtown restaurant, a scavenger hunt, and, for the top 100 pledge earners, an overnight sleepover at the Kimmel Center, where there will be all-night activities including a “Shift and Lift” Line Dance competition, as well as Late Night Forums, where teens can discuss topics such as how to balance technology use in their lives, suicide prevention, texting and driving, and tolerance.
For more information about the CHS kNOw Tech-A-Thon, or to find out about how you can host your own kNOw Tech-A-Thon, visit
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Congresswoman Susan Davis rates a perfect score with the Human Rights Campaign Tue, 11 Oct 2016 20:59:59 +0000
Susan Davis

Susan Davis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Susan A. Davis (D-San Diego) solidified her perfect lifetime record on LGBT issues with the release of the Human Rights Campaign’s legislative scorecard for the 114th Congress.

“Equality is a founding principle of America,” said Davis, a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. “I’ve been proud to work with the Human Rights Campaign and want to thank them for their work to ensure America is living up to its principle of total equality.”

In addition to supporting the legislative priorities of HRC, Davis introduced the Juror Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit a person from being removed from a jury because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  The federal government already prohibits juror discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and economic status.

This marks the 8th consecutive perfect score Davis has received from the HRC. Their legislative scored card can be viewed here.

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HRC and Equality NC slam Gov. McCrory for campaigning with hate group Tue, 11 Oct 2016 20:33:50 +0000
Pat McCrory

Pat McCrory

WASHINGTON – A report by Buzzfeed found that just nine minutes after declaring a disaster area in 66 counties, Gov. Pat McCrory campaigned in support of HB2 with anti-LGBTQ leaders, including one that leads an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a “hate group.” At the event, McCrory played the victim by bemoaning the fact that he is being “shunned” for staking his re-election bid on an anti-LGBTQ agenda.

In response to the Buzzfeed report, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality North Carolina released the following statement:

“It’s a sign of his misplaced priorities that Gov. McCrory would rather campaign for HB2 while lives in North Carolina were at risk from Hurricane Matthew,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “Tonight, Governor McCrory should explain to the people of North Carolina why he was campaigning with a hate group instead of focusing on storm preparedness.  This is just the latest example of McCrory putting himself first, playing the victim while real people were suffering. North Carolina needs a leader who will stand up for fairness and equality, and that leader is Roy Cooper.”

“Pat McCrory has failed the people of North Carolina time and again,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “He and he alone signed the most anti-LGBT bill in the entire nation into law, and he is responsible for the millions of dollars in economic loss we are suffering. His handling of HB2 shows him unfit to be Governor. On the other hand, we have a thoughtful candidate who embodies North Carolina values – common sense, fairness, and a commitment to building our state. That candidate is Roy Cooper. I am certain that this difference will be on display at tonight’s debate, and I know that North Carolinians will stand with Roy Cooper on November 8th, because he stands with us.”

HRC and Equality North Carolina have endorsed pro-equality candidates up and down the ticket this year in North Carolina, including Roy Cooper for governor and candidates for the General Assembly.

The LGBTQ vote has the power to impact elections up and down the ticket in North Carolina. An estimated 331,000 LGBTQ adults of voting age live in the state – a substantial population given that the state was won in the last three presidential elections by an average margin of 180,500 votes.


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LGBT advocacy groups celebrate National Coming Out Day Tue, 11 Oct 2016 20:00:42 +0000

Today is National Coming Out Day.

The Human Rights Campaign celebrated the day by releasing a new video (above) highlighting actors, athletes, musicians, and others who are helping to advance equality by coming out and sharing their stories. HRC is also featuring guides and resources that are part of its National Coming Out Project.

“Coming out — whether as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or as an ally — is incredibly important in our fight to advance LGBTQ equality,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC senior vice president for Programs, Research, and Training. “Research proves that when people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality. It takes bravery and courage to come out, and by speaking up and sharing our stories, we are helping to make the world a better place by changing hearts and minds.”

In celebration of the day, Rea Carey, executive director, National LGBTQ Task Force said, “Coming out, being you proudly and openly, is perhaps still the most significant action we can take as LGBTQ people and as an LGBTQ movement. Coming out has changed millions of hearts and minds — and has transformed labels, and letters, into real people — a son, a niece, a mom, a grandpa. In fact, it has made who we are — and the advancement of our freedom, justice and equality — personal for families across the nation. Today, we encourage everyone who has not yet come out, to come out if it is safe to do so. Your extended family is waiting to give you a huge hug.”

Every year on October 11, National Coming Out Day promotes a safe world in which LGBTQ people can live truthfully and openly. In honor of the important annual event, HRC’s new video highlights actors, athletes, musicians and YouTube sensations who have helped advance the movement for equality by coming out over the past year. Numerous celebrities and public figures have come out for equality in 2016, including Sara Ramirez, Marcelas Owens, Stefanie Dolson, Bill Kennedy, Michael Angelakos, Amandla Stenberg, Charlie Carver, Rowan Blanchard, Gus Kenworthy, Rayvon Owen, Brendan Jordan, Colton Haynes, Lilly Wachowski, Trey Pearson, Keke Palmer, Mara Wilson, Aubrey Plaza, Alexis G. Zall, Stephanie Beatriz, Claire Kittrell, Bella Thorne, Eva Gutowski, Ricky Dillon, Reid Ewing, Shawn Balentine, Nyle DiMarco, Rebecca Sugar, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brian Anderson, and Holland Taylor.

Coming out and living openly is a journey that individuals choose to make every single day of their lives. Whether it’s for the first time ever or the first time today, coming out can be an arduous journey. Every coming out experience is unique and must be navigated in the way most comfortable for the individual.


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John Lewis backs Clinton’s record on equality in new ad (VIDEO) Mon, 10 Oct 2016 22:16:02 +0000

Veteran activist, civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis has appeared in a new commercial for Hillary Clinton backing her commitment to equality.

Lewis, who as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was one of the “Big Six” leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington, played many key roles in the Civil Rights Movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States.

In the new commercial Lewis says, “When Hillary Clinton becomes president of the United States, it will be another trip down a very long road. She’s smart. She’s gifted. She is ready. She is a leader. She is a fighter for what is right, what is fair, and what is just. It will send a strong and powerful message to the people of American and to the people of the world, that we truly believe in equality.”

Watch the ad above.


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Logo to symbolically censor LGBT content with ‘Day of Disruption’ on National Coming Out Day Mon, 10 Oct 2016 19:39:27 +0000

NEW YORK, NYLogo today announced it will symbolically censor LGBT content on-air and online in a show of solidarity with international LGBT people who live in countries where positive LGBT media images are invisible or banned. The unprecedented ‘Day of Disruption,’ part of Logo’s international LGBT project, Global Ally, takes place on Tuesday, October 11 on National Coming Out Day, a day dedicated to celebrating coming out and living openly as LGBT. This year, Logo is flipping the script and providing a glimpse at what life could be like in countries where LGBT people can’t turn on the television, open the newspaper, or go to social media to see positive and relatable images. During a marathon of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 8, Logo will symbolically censor LGBT content, display facts about international LGBT issues, and provide ways to stand in solidarity with LGBT people who cannot or do not feel safe to come out and live openly.

Logo’s Global Ally also released a video of activists from Russia and Singapore explaining what LGBT censorship looks like in their countries:

And a video of an activist originally from Iran on how lack of LGBT media images impacted his coming out:

Candis Cayne, Gus Kentworthy, Trace Lysette, Jason Collins, Geena Rocero, Billy Porter, Omar Sharif Jr., JD Samson, Alec Mapa and Bruce Vilanch will appear on Logo throughout the ‘Day of Disruption’ to speak out about the 72 countries where being LGBT is criminalized and the 10 countries where gay and lesbian relationships can be punishable by death. Logo will also release videos of activists from Russia, Iran, Singapore and more discussing how media censorship impacts their lives.

The ‘censored’ marathon of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 8 starts at 6am ET/PT on Tuesday, October 11. During the marathon, openly LGBT contestants and guests will have their eyes blocked by a black bar, drag outfits will be pixelated, and audio bleeps will disrupt LGBT content. A static graphic will feature facts about LGBT criminalization laws, ways to take action at Logo’s, as well as statistics from the ILGA-RIWI 2016 Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People. Content on,, and Logo’s social media channels will also be disrupted and direct followers to take action in solidarity with the global LGBT community at

The all new and highly anticipated finale of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” will air Thursday, Oct. 13 at 9pm ET/PT.

Logo’s ‘Day of Disruption’ is the latest initiative in Global Ally, an international LGBT storytelling project ( featuring video profiles, first-of-its-kind research and the most robust and interactive site dedicated to global LGBT issues.

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Equality California endorses three LGBT allies for California Legislature Sun, 09 Oct 2016 19:30:34 +0000

LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Equality California Friday announced the endorsement of three strong LGBT allies for state legislature. The candidates are as follows:

Raul Bocanegra

Raul Bocanegra

Raul Bocanegra (Assembly District 39 currently represented by Democrat Patty Lopez of San Fernando.) During his time in the California Assembly, Raul Bocanegra proved himself a strong LGBT ally, earning an Equality Score rating of 100 percent from Equality California each year. He supports LGBT cultural competency training programs for health professionals, LGBT-specific anti-bullying programs in California schools and has backed legislation like AB 1266 protecting the right of transgender people to use facilities and participate in programs based on their gender identity. He also supports legislation, such as the recently passed SB 1146, requiring state-funded private colleges and universities to follow California non-discrimination laws.

“Raul has already proven himself a reliable ally of the LGBT community,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “He has voiced his commitment to supporting potentially controversial pieces of public policy, because, as matters of social justice and civil rights, it’s the right thing to do. He has supported our community and we are pleased to support him for California Assembly District 39.”

Josh Newman

Josh Newman

Josh Newman (California Senate, District 29 – currently represented by Republican Bob Huff of San Dimas.) Josh Newman is the founder and executive director of ArmedForce2Workforce, a non-profit dedicated to helping servicemembers make the transition from military service to working life. Newman himself served in the US Army for 14 years, where he was aware of and supported openly-LGBT servicemembers before the overturning of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Newman has indicated that he will “proudly and unequivocally” continue his support of the LGBT community if elected to Senate.

“Josh demonstrated his support for LGBT servicemembers despite a government policy forcing them to live in hiding,” said Zbur. “We are confident that he will show the same courage and commitment to the LGBT community as a state legislator.”

Eloise Reyes

Eloise Reyes

Eloise Reyes (California Assembly, District 47 – currently represented by Democrat Cheryl Brown of Rialto.) Attorney Eloise Reyes features her LGBT civil rights platform prominently on her campaign website. She has voiced strong support for laws requiring state-funded private universities to adhere to California LGBT anti-discrimination protections. She has also indicated her commitment to be a “champion” for LGBT civil rights, and to ensure that existing civil rights laws are enforced.

“Eloise believes strongly in diversity, inclusion and equality,” said Zbur. “Her passion for these issues will make her an outstanding advocate and ally for our community in Sacramento.”


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HRC releases Scorecard measuring support for LGBTQ equality in the 114th Congress Sun, 09 Oct 2016 14:00:02 +0000

HRC Congressional ScorecardHRC Friday released its Congressional Scorecard measuring support for LGBTQ equality in the 114th Congress. The scorecard shows continued strong support for LGBTQ equality from Democrats and growing bipartisan support for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections. The 114th Congress saw a record number of Republicans vote at different times to affirm President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections gained important bipartisan support in the 114th Congress. Unfortunately, despite those gains, the 114th Congress failed to advance any pro-equality legislation and remains an impediment to progress for the LGBTQ community,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. Today, a majority of Americans — Republicans, Democrats and independents — all believe that LGBTQ people should be able to live their lives free from fear of discrimination and be protected from discrimination. It’s long past time that Congress reflects the opinion of the majority of fair-minded Americans.”

With 190 Democrats in the House and Senate receiving perfect 100 scores, pro-equality legislation received exceptionally high levels of support from Democratic lawmakers. In comparison, one House Republican and one Senate Republican earned perfect scores.

“Building on our incredible support from Democratic elected officials, gaining ground with fair-minded Republicans is important next step to win the support we need to pass important legislation like the Equality Act,” added David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director.  “Winning 62 Republican votes in the House is a historic achievement that can help lay the groundwork for future success.”

Members of Congress were scored based on their votes and co-sponsorships of pieces of legislation that are key indicators of support for LGBTQ equality. Despite the 114th Congress failing to enact any legislation to protect the LGBTQ community, majorities emerged in both chambers on key LGBTQ issues.

In the House, a historic 62 Republicans voted at different times to affirm President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — nearly double the total from Republicans on previous LGBTQ non-discrimination votes. And in the Senate, bipartisan majorities voted for amendments supporting spousal benefits for same-sex couples, non-discrimination protections in runaway and homeless youth programs, and non-discrimination protections in education.

For more information on the HRC Congressional Scorecard go here.

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Sanctuary cities and Alabama’s suspended Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore Sat, 08 Oct 2016 14:00:56 +0000

As a former resident of San Francisco and of Alabama in the era of racial segregation I feel qualified to speak on the sanctuary city issue. At present there are over 200 sanctuary cities in the United States that refuse to enforce federal immigration law. There are other cities and states who refuse to endorse the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

In sanctuary cities, politicians passed local laws to prevent city and federal law enforcement officials from arresting and deporting undocumented aliens.  Reasons for sanctuary city policies range from political to religious. The political argument goes that conservative Republicans in Washington passed inhumane and illegal laws to deport undocumented aliens who only want to work and support their families in the United States. The religious argument is similar: It is Christian to help those in need.

In that sanctuary city policies selectively pass local laws against federal laws they disapprove, whether politically or religiously, this is States’ Rights in the form of City Rights.  States do have rights to make laws but those laws cannot be in defiance of the U.S. Constitution or in defiance of federal law, without legal consequences.

States’ Rights in the Alabama of my youth were used to justify racial segregation and deny people of color their rights as American citizens. The words of racists and States’ Rights proponents, called Righters at the time, to hardworking, honest African Americans were repugnant and vile. The words were meant to humiliate and threaten people to lives of servitude, obedience and fear.

Roy Moore

Roy Moore

The U.S. Constitution does not allow states to deny an individual’s constitutional rights. Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, Republican of Etowah County, did not agree with the U.S. Supreme Court Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states and he devised a bureaucratic way to cheat same-sex couples in Alabama their right to legal Alabama civil marriage or to Christian marriage in truly Christian Alabama churches.

As Chief Justice of Alabama, Moore lacked the right to overrule the U.S. Supreme Court, just like Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace lacked the right to deny the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s.  The State of Alabama removed Moore from his office and placed him on a public trial of sorts.

I want to be clear I am not criticizing former Justice Moore for his Christian belief, his religious background or his interpretation of the Holy Bible. As a Christian, I urge former Justice Moore to pray about his decision and maybe he can evolve on same-sex marriage as have many other politicians, Democrats and Republicans.

Moore should understand that same-sex couples are Christians also and they deserve their right to have their relationships legal by law and by faith. Former Justice Moore for interfering in the application of Alabama which he swore or affirmed to uphold, Alabama Judicial officials have suspended him as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court until the end of his term in 2019. The Judicial officials, Moore’s Alabama legal peers, found he violated “the Canons of Judicial Ethics” in Alabama.

What Moore, the politician likely wanted, was a legal decision against him based on his religious views against same-sex marriage. The state of Alabama officials wisely, in my view, denied Moore that argument. It will not, however, prevent him from accusing “the national homosexual lobby” as the evil villain in the decision to suspend him made by other straight Alabamians.  Not even Alabama GOP Gov. Robert Bentley, an ordained minister, would come to Moore’s aid.

Moore plans to appeal his suspension and he could use the sanctuary city argument in his defense. He could argue that since some 200 sanctuary cities defy federal immigration law, cities may also defy federal marriage law. He could cite the political and religious arguments for sanctuary cities against same-sex marriage.

Unless Moore’s personal prayers invoke the Word of God for him to accept same-sex marriage, Moore may continue his pitiful fight against Washington , “the national homosexual lobby,” Alabama, Christianity and other social and legal changes he disapproves. That could be dangerous if it motivates violence against LGBT people in Alabama or other states. The LGBT community should pray for Moore to change otherwise I fear his zealotry against same-sex marriage could lead to acts of violence against honest, hardworking Alabamians, gay and straight.

Jim Patterson is a Washington, D.C.-based writer, speaker and travels internationally on assignments.His late father served with the Alabama National Guard at Selma in 1965 and the author plays a reporter in the 2015 film Selma.

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Leading LGBTQ entrepreneur organization to launch first-of-its-kind online community Fri, 07 Oct 2016 16:04:29 +0000

SAN FRANCISCO and NEW YORK — StartOut, a national non-profit organization that supports, educates and connects LGBTQ entrepreneurs, today announced the launch of its online platform, the StartOut Community. It is designed to address the multifaceted needs of LGBTQ entrepreneurs. The primary goals of this digital portal are to accelerate the ability of LGBTQ founded and run companies to reach sustainable success, showcase the significant contributions StartOut members make to societies all over the world, and help level the economic playing field for LGBTQ entrepreneurs.

StartOut’s inaugural research study, The State of LGBT Entrepreneurship in the U.S., conclusively shows that startups founded by LGBTQ entrepreneurs are at risk for discrimination—affecting where founders choose to locate their businesses, to what extent they can raise capital, and how they build trust with investors. Based on the data and findings from this research study behind us and seven years of “real-life” success accelerating LGBTQ entrepreneurship, StartOut is now taking its programs to the next level with the launch of the StartOut Community. Supported by ROI Genius, the new complementary platform is open to all LGBTQ entrepreneurs, friends, supporters, and allies globally. The platform includes:

  • Online forums, organized by topic and industry, designed to allow users to take advantage of StartOut members’ deep entrepreneurial and business expertise
  • Forums to share experiences and advice specific to our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender entrepreneur communities
  • Invitations to local and national events
  • Educational content
  • Inspirational member successes stories
Andres Wydler

Andres Wydler

“Designed for massive scalability, our new StartOut Community is the first platform of its kind tailored specifically to the LGBTQ entrepreneurial community,” says Executive Director Andres Wydler. “Too many LGBTQ entrepreneurs still lack role models they can relate to and the professional networks to advance their businesses. We are determined to connect our members with the contacts they need to succeed, and provide the visibility, recognition and respect they deserve, no matter where they live.”

Following this initial launch, StartOut will release its premium features, including a searchable directory to connect its members 24/7; a nationwide mentorship program, supported by AT&T; and an investor portal to connect LGBTQ-friendly investors with StartOut premium members.

To support and help fund the ongoing development and program management for this groundbreaking portal, you may become a member at

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HRC launches largest get-out-the-vote effort in its history Thu, 06 Oct 2016 19:48:49 +0000

Turn OutWASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced the latest push in the organization’s largest get-out-the-vote effort in its more than 35-year history. It’s a multi-state targeting campaign that for the first time reaches well beyond the nation’s nearly 10 million LGBTQ voters to mobilize the growing ranks of allies and others with a history of supporting equality.

“Our new model allows us to reach out directly to hundreds of thousands of voters not yet affiliated with HRC, but who have demonstrated an openness to creating a more equal and fair society,” said HRC President Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin). “LGBTQ equality is no longer a wedge issue, but one embraced by a clear majority of Americans, and particularly younger Americans. In fact, being anti-LGBTQ is now a liability.”

HRC’s dynamic new model, developed with the elections data firm Catalist, makes possible some of the most sophisticated targeting ever of potential pro-equality voters. It allows direct outreach to hundreds of thousands of potential pro-equality voters in crucial swing states through both new and traditional means.

In North Carolina alone, HRC expects to reach more than 400,000 voters through phone calls and an online persuasive advertising campaign unprecedented for the organization. Potential pro-equality voters have been identified using years of HRC polling, public voter files and other available data. HRC is initially targeting five states — North Carolina, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, with more to come.

This historic targeting effort is part of an unprecedented #turnOUT campaign that HRC launched earlier this year, which includes massive voter mobilization efforts across all 50 states and deployment of more than 100 staff members to battleground states and races. The targeting campaign announced today represents a new dimension of HRC’s work, and is expected to be replicated in years to come as the organization mobilizes the nation’s growing ranks of equality voters to help fuel ongoing efforts to ensure full equality for LGBTQ people.


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Texas Latino Gay Pride to host third annual festival Thu, 06 Oct 2016 19:12:29 +0000

3x4-Texas-Gay-inglesDALLAS, Texas — Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, Texas Latino Gay Pride returns to Reverchon Park in Dallas to host their 3rd Annual Gay Latino Pride Festival entitled Azucar! – a celebration of music, dance and culture.

The goal of the festival is to unite communities through music and art, and to connect the broad range of people who make up the LGBTQ community – not just the Latino community – which spans numerous cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identity/expressions.

“Each and every year, our festival continues to grow,” said Juan Contreras, president and co-founder of the festival. “That we are expecting nearly 4,000 attendees tells us that people from a variety of backgrounds are eager to embrace and celebrate what we are creating.”

Headlining this year’s festival is Quimikoz Del Son, a local Latin/Cumbia fusion band, Mi Diva Loca, and Otro K Libre. Joining the lineup of artists are Calirumba, Alianza Rumbera, Leyla Edwards and RuPual’s Drag Race contestant Cynthia Lee Fontaine. Popular DJ’s from Havana Lounge, Marty’s Live, and TMC will provide cumbia-inspired sets in between live performances.

Legacy Counseling Center is recognized as the receiving beneficiary of the festival. For nearly three decades, Legacy has provided affordable and quality mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and housing services to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Dallas City Council Member Adam Medrano and Judge Sara Martinez are this year’s honorary padrinos of the community for their ongoing commitment, dedication and support of LGBTQ people.

Texas Latino Gay Pride Festival is Saturday, October 8th from 2:00 PM to 10:00 PM at Reverchon Park, located at 3505 Maple Avenue, Dallas, TX 75219. This is a free event.

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Equality PAC calls on presidential debates to address LGBT issues Wed, 05 Oct 2016 21:08:12 +0000

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Equality PAC, a political action committee formed by leaders of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, expressed disappointment that neither of the general election debates have included any discussion of the specific issues facing LGBT Americans.

“It was disappointing that Gov. Pence’s extreme anti-LGBT record was not raised in last night’s debate questions,” said Equality PAC Managing Director Roddy Flynn. “Gov. Pence has supported some of the most insidious anti-LGBT legislation in this country, designed to ensure that LGBT people can be turned away from shops, hotels, and restaurants and disallowing same-sex couples from adopting children.  The kind of bigotry that the Trump/Pence ticket supports is out of line with American values and should have been a topic in the first two debates.  We hope future debates will be more inclusive of the concerns of LGBT Americans.”

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Presidential Memorandum on promoting diversity and inclusion in the national security workforce Wed, 05 Oct 2016 16:35:57 +0000

Today the White House issued the following Presidential Memorandum on promoting diversity and inclusion in the national security workforce:

Since the beginning of his Administration, President Obama has deepened the commitment of the United States Government to draw upon the talents and skills of all parts of our society.  Diversity has always been one of the Nation’s greatest strengths, and it is no different for the Federal workforce, which has a responsibility as the country’s largest employer to lead by example and to reflect the population that we serve.  Inclusion has been key to ensuring that the investments we make to develop our workforce result in a more effective and skilled government for the American people.

The imperative to promote diversity and inclusion is also critical for our national security workforce.  In a complex and interconnected world, the nature of our national security challenges and opportunities is more global than ever.  As a society that can trace its roots to every region around the world, the American people are our greatest asset when it comes to the United States’ ability to build bridges to communities at home and abroad, address foreign threats and aggression, and lead coalitions to promote global peace and prosperity.  Promoting diversity and inclusion ensures that national security departments and agencies can recruit their employees from the broadest possible pool of talent and bring a wide range of perspectives, skills, and backgrounds to bear to tackle our toughest problems.

Today, the President is issuing a new Presidential Memorandum that provides guidance on the implementation of policies to promote diversity and inclusion in the national security workforce.  Currently, more than three million military and civilian personnel in the U.S. Government are engaged in protecting the country and advancing our interests abroad, through diplomacy, development, defense, intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security.  In broad comparison with the wider Federal Government, the federal workforce dedicated to our national security and foreign policy is – on average – less diverse, including at the highest levels.

While this data does not necessarily indicate the existence of barriers to equal employment opportunity, the Presidential Memorandum outlines a number of actions that will allow departments and agencies to better leverage the diversity and inclusion of the federal workforce, consistent with the existing merit system and applicable law, including:

  • Collection, analysis, and dissemination of workforce data: Data is an essential tool to help departments and agencies identify workforce talent gaps, assess the efficiency and effectiveness of their diversity and inclusion efforts, and promote transparency and accountability.  The memorandum provides guidance for departments and agencies to make key workforce data available to the general public, provide an annual report to their leadership and workforce on the status of diversity and inclusion efforts, expand the use of applicant flow data to assess the fairness and inclusiveness of their recruitment efforts, and identify any additional demographic categories they recommend for voluntary data collection.
  • Provision of professional development opportunities and tools consistent with merit system principles: Providing access to professional development opportunities consistent with merit system principles is a key element to retaining and developing a diverse and inclusive workforce.  The memorandum directs departments and agencies to engage their workforce through regular interviews to understand their views on workplace policies and why they choose to stay or leave, prioritize the expansion of professional development opportunities including programs specifically designed to develop the next generation of career senior executives, and implement a review process for decisions related to certain assignment or geographic restrictions.
  • Strengthening of leadership engagement and accountability: The memorandum recognizes the critical role that senior leadership and supervisors play in fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce and cultivating talent consistent with merit system principles.  It encourages departments and agencies to reward and recognize efforts by senior leaders and supervisors to participate in mentorship, sponsorship, and recruitment; to disseminate voluntary demographic data for external committee and boards that advise the leadership of an agency; and to expand the provision of training on implicit or unconscious bias, inclusion, and flexible work policies.

The guidance in this Presidential Memorandum furthers the initiative that President Obama announced in 2011 in Executive Order 13583, “Establishing a Coordinated Government-wide Initiative to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Workforce,” for departments and agencies to develop and implement a more comprehensive, integrated, and strategic focus on diversity and inclusion.  It also complements the remarkable progress that the national security workforce has made over the past several years in recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion to the success of their mission, including but not limited to:

  • The Department of Defense’s decisions to eliminate all remaining institutional barriers to service by opening all military occupations to women and transgender individuals;
  • The Central Intelligence Agency’s commissioning and public release of two studies on women and diversity in their leadership and its active implementation of the studies’ recommendations;
  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence release of its annual Intelligence Community demographics report, the first time it has ever been publicly released; and
  • The Department of Justice announced that all law enforcement agents and prosecutors will receive training to recognize and address implicit bias.

The Presidential Memorandum also aligns with a number of congressional efforts to promote the diversity of the national security workforce.  Over the past several decades, Congress has passed legislation mandating reforms to ensure that institutions including the Foreign Service, Intelligence Community, and U.S. military provide equal employment opportunity to all those who have the desire and qualifications to serve their country.  Under this Administration, the Congress and President Obama have collaborated on important legislation on this issue, most notably on the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.

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HRC: VP debate puts LGBTQ equality front and center Tue, 04 Oct 2016 19:56:40 +0000
Tim Kaine and Mike Pence

Tim Kaine and Mike Pence

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ahead of tonight’s vice presidential debate, the Human Rights Campaign is spotlighting the particularly stark contrast on LGBTQ equality between Tim Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — who earned wide criticism last year for signing a discriminatory anti-LGBTQ law in Indiana that harmed Hoosiers and cost his state millions. But Pence’s “license to discriminate” bill wasn’t the first time Mike Pence has targeted LGBTQ people with political attacks. Well before his shameful anti-LGBTQ legislation last year that cost Indiana more than $60 million, Pence had established a track record that included opposing hate crimes legislation and the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ backing anti-LGBTQ activists. He even supported offsetting funding for HIV prevention with funding for the abusive practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” Meanwhile, Tim Kaine has advanced LGBTQ equality as governor, senator and now as a vice presidential candidate pushing the most aggressive platform for LGBTQ equality in U.S. history.

The contrast on display tomorrow night will be crucial to the 9.4 million LGBTQ voters who will play a pivotal role in deciding this election. The Human Rights Campaign has launched a nationwide #turnOUT GOTV campaign to mobilize LGBTQ voters and pro-equality allies in key states where the equality vote will be crucial to a Clinton-Kaine victory. In battleground states like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, the LGBTQ vote is more than double the margin of victory in the last three presidential elections. In Virginia, where tomorrow night’s debate will take place and President Obama’s 2012 margin of victory was only 150,000 votes, there are at least 190,000 LGBTQ voters.

The Human Rights Campaign will be launching an #AskTheGays tweet-up tomorrow night at 7 P.M. ET ahead of the VP debate. The hashtag first gained attention after Donald Trump bizarrely pandered to LGBTQ voters and challenged those skeptical over his anti-LGBTQ record to “ask the gays” about him.

While Donald Trump and Mike Pence have actively campaigned against LGBTQ equality, the Clinton-Kaine campaign has made it a priority from the outset. Not long after Hillary Clinton unveiled the most robust agenda for LGBTQ equality of any presidential candidate in history, she secured the earliest primary endorsement in the 36 year history of the Human Rights Campaign in Iowa. She has repeatedly spoken out on the campaign trail for the Equality Act, vowed to fight discriminatory laws like HB2 in North Carolina, pledged to end the scourge of anti-transgender violence and finally do what’s necessary to prevent the stigma and spread of HIV — among other things.

Sen. Kaine has also hit the trail with the Human Rights Campaign in recent weeks to campaign for the LGBTQ vote — joining a debate watch party in Orlando last week and keynoting the 2016 HRC National Dinner in early September. In fact, on the same day that Tim Kaine spoke at the nearly 4,000-person Human Rights Campaign event, Mike Pence was across town courting votes from anti-LGBTQ extremists at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit.

“Donald Trump’s warped vision for America puts Mike Pence — the face of modern day  discrimination — a heartbeat away from the presidency,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The choice is crystal clear. While Tim Kaine has worked as governor of Virginia and in Congress to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, Mike Pence has built his entire career on denying LGBTQ people equal treatment under the law. Pence is nationally known for targeting Hoosiers so they could be denied service because of who they are or whom they love. We cannot allow Mike Pence and Donald Trump to ‘Take America Backward Again.’”

Here’s a summary of just how stark the difference is between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine on LGBTQ equality:

On Marriage Equality

Pence: Pence opposed the Supreme Court’s nationwide marriage equality ruling. After the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which barred legally married same-sex couple from having their marriages recognized by the federal government, was ruled unconstitutional, he urged amending the state of Indiana’s constitution to outlaw marriage equality.

Kaine: Kaine  discussed his support of marriage equality at HRC’s national dinner in September. Coming out in favor of marriage equality in 2013, Kaine said: “I believe all people, regardless of sexual orientation, should be guaranteed the full rights to the legal benefits and responsibilities of marriage under the Constitution….I hope the Supreme Court will affirm that principle.”

On Non-Discrimination Protections

Pence: While in Congress, Pence voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. As governor, his “right to discriminate” bill could have allowed businesses to discriminate and deny service to LGBTQ people because of who they are or whom they love. He opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” by saying it would turn the military into “a backdrop for social experimentation.”

Kaine: Kaine is an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act — federal legislation that would finally guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people under our existing civil rights laws. One of Kaine’s first actions as Virginia Governor in 2006 was to sign an executive order adding sexual orientation protections to the non-discrimination policy for state workers. He has voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA).

On Transgender Equality

Pence: Opposed guidance from the Department of Education that clarifies that transgender students have a right under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to access restrooms consistent with their gender identity, saying, “The federal government has no business getting involved in issues of this nature.”

Kaine: Kaine called for the repeal of North Carolina’s dangerous and vile HB2. He recently signed onto an amicus brief in the 2nd Circuit case, Christiansen v Omnicom Group Inc., arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are prohibited under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Kaine also expressed support for the Obama Administration’s decision to drop the outdated ban on transgender troops serving openly in the military.

On Hate Crimes

Pence: He voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, calling it a “radical social agenda.” Under Pence’s leadership, Indiana still lacks a hate crimes law that covers LGBTQ people.

Kaine: As Governor, Kaine told the Roanoke Times that, “…crimes against gays should be added to the list of hate crimes as long as the statute is on the book…”

HIV and AIDS and Conversion Therapy

Pence: Opposed funding to treat HIV unless it was offset by cuts to programs that he
claimed “…celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.” Pence instead preferred funding harmful conversion therapy programs that would seek to change “sexual behavior.” Last year, Pence dragged his feet on supporting a needle exchange program in Indiana to combat an HIV outbreak related to needle-sharing among opioid drug users that was later deemed “preventable” due to his moral opposition to needle-exchange programs.

Kaine: In a speech at HRC’s 2016 National Dinner, Kaine pledged to “take on drug companies and cap out-of-pocket expenses so that people with HIV can get medication they need at a price they can afford.” He also committed to address “any stigmatization of HIV criminalization laws that still exist here and around the world.” Last week, HRC’s Noël Gordon released a powerful OpEd about how Hillary Clinton is the only choice in November, particularly since only Clinton has a plan to help combat the HIV crisis facing gay black men. Gordon noted how Pence’s failed leadership in Indiana failed to contain an HIV outbreak.

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LGBTQ advocates respond to Donald Trump’s 1995 federal income taxes Tue, 04 Oct 2016 19:29:19 +0000

Records obtained by The New York Times show Donald Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.

Reacting to these reports, Russell Roybal, deputy executive director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund issued the following statement.

“The basis of any income tax system should be that everyone pays their fair share. In Donald Trump’s world, the very rich pay nothing, transferring the tax burden to those families who make the least. What’s more, Trump’s proposed economic policies won’t help the middle class and those on lower incomes get to economic security and prosperity. Instead of proposing policies under which everyone pays their fair share, he’s pushing for more perks for the rich. As we heard in the first presidential debate, Mr. Trump believes that not paying your fair share of federal income tax is ‘smart’; actually it sets the wrong sort of example if you want to lead this country. Just imagine trying to explain to your kids that everyone must pay income tax in our nation — except the president. Even the Queen of England pays taxes.”


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US Supreme Court denies rehearing petition in the United States v. Texas immigration case Mon, 03 Oct 2016 17:44:10 +0000

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a rehearing petition in the United States v. Texas immigration case around Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA+.

Advocacy groups have been quick to criticize the decision. Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement: ” The Center for American Progress is deeply disappointed that on the first day of its 2016-2017 term, a short-handed Supreme Court declined to rehear United States v. Texas, one of the most important cases in recent history. This decision is devastating and an important reminder of how crucial a well-functioning, full Supreme Court bench is to the lives of every American. In this case, more than 6.1 million U.S. citizens in states across the nation live with a DAPA-eligible family member who will remain in fear of deportation without the implementation of DAPA.”

César J. Blanco, interim director for Latino Victory Fund said, “Today the Supreme Court once again let politics stand in the way of justice. The Supreme Court’s decision to deny the rehearing of U.S. v. Texas in front of a fully staffed court is inexcusable. This should be a no-brainer, the appropriate course of action is for the full bench – a court of 9 justices – to reconsider this case; there is simply too much at stake for our country and for millions of immigrants and mixed status families, to allow a non-decision by a split 8 person court stand.

“This could’ve all been avoided if the Senate did their job. As we speak, Republicans in the Senate refuse to give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrik Garland, a fair hearing and confirmation because they’d rather play politics with the court than fulfill their Constitutional duty and replace the late Justice Scalia. That’s why we’re calling on the Senate to stop fooling around and take action now to restore the full court and allow them to do their work.”


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Commentary: In praise of Barbara Boxer Mon, 03 Oct 2016 17:21:19 +0000
Barbara Boxer

Barbara Boxer

In July 1994, during the Second Session of the 103rd Congress, Sen. Barbara Boxer and seven other United States senators came to my aid. North Carolina Republican Sen. Jesse Helms, informed of my first-of-its-kind position as a gay employment counselor for the federal government, pushed through the Senate an amendment to an appropriations bill that would defund my work and effectively terminate me.

Defunding people and programs was a popular legislative maneuver by Helms in those early years of the Clinton Administration when Democrats controlled both Chambers of Congress and Republicans fought back as best they could. It was this maneuver and other legislative manipulation that earned Jesse Helms the nickname of “Master Parliamentarian.” Jesse also liked the nickname “Senator No” because he never liked or voted for spending bills for progressive legislative issues. I had a few nicknames for the old boy myself.

Helms offered several anti-gay amendments to the appropriations bill, H.R. 4554; only one passed. It was an especially dirty-minded amendment based on a draft of my job description as a gay employment manager, which I did not write.

The Helms amendment was titled “Ending the Use of Taxpayer Funds to Encourage Employees To Accept Homosexuality as a Legitimate or Normal Lifestyle.” It read as follows:

“None of the funds made available under this Act maybe used to fund, promote, or carry out any seminar or program for employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or to fund any position in the Department of Agriculture, the purpose of which is to compel, instruct, encourage, urge, or persuade employees to –

(1) Recruit on the basis of sexual orientation homosexuals for employment at the Department of Agriculture; or

(2) Embrace, accept, condone, or celebrate homosexuality as a legitimate or normal lifestyle.”

The Helms amendment passed the Senate by a vote of 92-8. Sen. Barbara Boxer voted against Helms as did Sens. Patty Murray, Russell Feingold, and four other Democrats now deceased: Edward Kennedy, Daniel Moynihan, Claiborne Pell and Paul Wellstone. Also voting against Helms was Bob Packwood, a liberal Oregon Republican, who resigned from the Senate in September 1995 amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Those voting with Helms on his anti-gay amendment included traditional LGBT allies such as Sens. Dianne Feinstein, John F. Kerry, Iowa’s Tom Harkin, Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski and Illinois’ Carol Moseley Braun. I suppose it safe to say these five senators and many others have evolved on gay issues since 1994 and are now solidly in the pink LGBT corner on employment, marriage and full equality under the law.

Of the eight senators who voted against Jesse Helms, I personally met and thanked four. I thanked Packwood at a meeting at the Library of Congress after this resignation. I thanked Wellstone in Washington at a memorial service for a mutual friend in 2002. In 2005 I thanked Kennedy at the 80th birthday party for Michigan Congressman John Dingell held at the National Building Museum. I thanked Boxer at events in California and Washington, D.C.

With Sen. Barbara Boxer retiring from the U.S. Senate, only brave Washington Sen. Patty Murray remains. Feingold was defeated for re-election in 2010 and is currently challenging incumbent GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, chair of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, to return to Washington. The Johnson-Feingold race is too close to call according to independent Wisconsin sources.

The July 19, 1994, Helms move to deny LGBT workers even limited employment rights in the federal government was a moment in time and an important moment in the LGBT fight for employment equality. The Helms amendment to the appropriations bill succeeded and he planned to use it over and over to stop LGBT employment efforts at other agencies. He intended to send a signal to employers across the nation that the federal government would deny LGBT workers employment opportunities and private sector employers could use the Helms Model to do so as well.

The offensive Helms amendment was eventually stripped from the appropriations bill in 1994 but not without a long fight. The larger issue of LGBT workplace fairness and non-discrimination labors on nearly 25 years later. Poor Congressional leadership, politically divisive debate, ineffective and offensive lobbying, fundraising profiteering, are among the many reasons LGBT workers still suffer economically and personally from discrimination, professional marginalization, under-employment and unemployment.

The Helms anti-gay amendment almost became law in the 96-page appropriations bill. Clear heads prevailed and the amendment was struck from the final bill during conference and never became law. If it had, Jesse would have amended every Senate bill with anti-gay amendments. In fact, he did try it other times, usually after encounters with gay protesters angry over his hateful and hurtful legislative efforts to prevent or restrict funding for HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs.

It took great courage for the eight senators to vote against Helms in 1994. Today the Congressional battle for LGBT employment rights continues as LGBT workers continue to suffer hard economic burdens of discrimination, whether blatant or subtle.

The Senate of 2016 is not without lawmakers who have the courage to stand and vote against the conservative followers of Jesse Helms, who died in 2008, and whatever anti-gay legislation they might propose. The Senate Eight Against Hate, including Sens. Boxer and Murray, are true heroes and heroines to the LGBT community. They fought for LGBT employment rights when it counted.

Longtime diplomat Jim Patterson is a Washington, D.C.-based writer, speaker and a member of the California State Society.

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Governor signs bill to protect LGBT students against discrimination at private universities Mon, 03 Oct 2016 17:06:38 +0000
Ricardo Lara

Ricardo Lara

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California Gov. Jerry Brown Friday signed Senate Bill (SB) 1146, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and sponsored by Equality California. The bill requires private universities receiving public funds to publicly disclose if they discriminate against students with respect to gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Senate Bill 1146 requires universities that are granted a Title IX exemption to notify the California Student Aid Commission and disseminate the information to students and staff.

“No university should have a license to discriminate, especially those receiving state funds,” said Sen. Lara. “Those that do will now have to inform incoming students of their Title 9 exemption. This law represents a critical first step in the ongoing efforts to protect students from discrimination for living their truths or loving openly.”

At the federal level, Title IX prohibits discrimination based on gender, including sexual orientation and gender identity, in education programs and activities that receive federal funding. However, if a university believes compliance with Title IX would conflict with its religion it may submit an exemption request to the U.S. Department of Education. The department has very little discretion and most requests are granted.

Many students are unaware of the exemption and what the potential consequences might be in the event their sexual orientation or gender identity does not align with the university’s discriminatory policies. Students and staff across the country have reported learning of an exemption only after being expelled from school or fired from their jobs. Over the last three years there has been a significant increase in the number of universities that apply for and receive an exemption to Title IX. Only one school was granted an exemption in 2013. Today, some 43 schools nationally have received exemptions, with at least six of them in California.  Currently, universities that have Title IX exemptions do not have to disclose them to students or staff.

“The public needs to know which schools have licenses to discriminate against LGBT people and to ignore California’s civil rights protections,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “This law will give fair warning to students, staff and faculty members before they accept enrollment or employment at a university with a license to discriminate.”

Right-wing opponents fought fiercely against the bill, which they claimed was an attack on religious freedom. They raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for their campaign and bombarded lawmakers with phone calls, emails and in-person, often-hostile protests.

“What opponents of this bill try to hide from the public and the press is that SB 1146 applies only to private colleges that use taxpayer dollars,” said Zbur. “It is the longstanding policy and law of the state of California that state taxpayer dollars cannot be used to discriminate against LGBT people. If these colleges and universities want to continue to discriminate against LGBT students and employees, with cruel and harsh consequences for their lives, they should not expect California taxpayers to fund it.”

SB 1146 takes effect January 1, 2017.


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Advocacy groups launch #FairDrugPricesNow campaign (VIDEO) Sun, 02 Oct 2016 14:30:59 +0000

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation has joined with the Treatment Action Group (TAG) and the Fair Pricing Coalition (FPC) in launching #FairDrugPricesNow, a public education and outreach campaign to mobilize LGBTQ people and their allies to address the alarming rise of prescription drug prices in the United States.

The campaign launches as public debate and outrage is increasing around the costs of prescription drugs and the dire and sometimes deadly health consequences that can follow when vital medicines become too expensive for many patients who desperately need them. The centerpiece of the campaign is a video (above) that lays out the unfair system of drug pricing in the United States and the disproportionate effect it has on LGBTQ people, those living with and affected by HIV, and, in particular, individuals at the intersection of those identities.

“No family should have to choose between paying for medicine or putting food on their table, but, more and more, patients and consumers are being priced out of lifesaving and necessary care,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC’s Senior Vice President for Programs, Research, and Training. “We are proud to join with the Treatment Action Group and Fair Pricing Coalition to mobilize our communities in support of common-sense reforms to ensure that every person can access the care they need to live and thrive. Our outrage at needlessly inflated drug prices must be channeled into calls for change and a desire for action that reflects the urgent reality faced by so many families.”

The #FairDrugPricesNow campaign is made possible with generous support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation

“Over the years, we have seen HIV and hepatitis drug prices rise to unsustainable levels. There have been numerous Congressional investigations and a comprehensive report issued by the Senate Finance Committee on this issue, but nothing has really changed to date,” said Lynda Dee, FPC Co-Chair. “Thus, there is a need to raise awareness and mobilize the LGBTQ community to address this continuing crisis. We have a long and successful history of self-education and activism. Now is the time to turn our attention to unsustainable drug pricing and price increases.”

“Rapidly escalating drug pricing trends cannot continue,” said Tim Horn, HIV Project Director of TAG and an FPC member. ”In 2016, federal spending on HIV and AIDS care and treatment will be in the ballpark of $26.4 billion. Our National HIV and AIDS Strategy aims to increase the percentage of people diagnosed with HIV who are on antiretroviral regimens and virally suppressed to at least 80 percent. Nationally, we’re only halfway there. If we’re to end HIV as an epidemic in the U.S., some things are going to need to change—runaway drug pricing being at the top of the list.”

The #FairDrugPricesNow campaign calls for several steps to combat rising prescription drug prices. They include increasing transparency by requiring drug companies to disclose pricing for government-funded programs including Medicare and Medicaid, and to reveal the actual cost of research and development of particular drugs.

Last fall, Martin Shkreli, then-CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, came under intense public scrutiny when his company increased the price of Daraprim, a crucial and often life-saving drug frequently used by people living with HIV and pregnant people, by more than 5000% overnight. HRC slammed Shkreli and called for a Congressional investigation into Turing’s price gouging.  Several other pharmaceutical companies have faced similar controversy, including Mylan for a recent six-fold price increase for its essential EpiPen.

To learn more about the #FairDrugPricesNow campaign, visit

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Coalition of faith leaders and faith-based organizations urges faith communities to support LGBTI communities under attack Sun, 02 Oct 2016 14:00:24 +0000
An AJWS grantee in Uganda shields his face with a local tabloid article, which incited public hatred and revealed the names and faces of LGBTI advocates. Some of them fear violence from homophobic extremists. PHOTO Evan Abramson

An AJWS grantee in Uganda shields his face with a local tabloid article, which incited public hatred and revealed the names and faces of LGBTI advocates. Some of them fear violence from homophobic extremists. PHOTO: Evan Abramson

NEW YORK – In response to hateful anti-LGBTI attacks by American “faith leaders” at the recent World Congress of Families in Kenya, American Jewish World Service (AJWS), 250+ faith leaders and dozens of faith-based organizations have condemned American extremists who export hatred of LGBTI people to developing countries. To punish LGBTI people for who they are and whom they love, intolerant American “faith leaders” travel to developing countries to advocate for punitive anti-LGBT laws, including the death penalty.

The coalition of 250+ faith leaders and faith-based organizations condemned three Americans at the conference in Kenya: Don Feder, Michael Hichbornand Sharon Slater, who spread lies about LGBTI people, claiming that they recruit children and cause natural disasters such as earthquakes and epidemics.

“We condemn the bigotry of American hate activists who travel to Africa to vilify and persecute LGBTI communities. As Jews, we understand all too well the consequences of hateful and false accusations justified by religious teachings, and we reject such accusations against LGBTI people today,” said Robert Bank, president and CEO of AJWS. “For centuries, Jews were falsely accused by religious leaders of horrific acts, including poisoning water wells, drinking the blood of children and spreading the Plague, which led to mob violence against Jews and discriminatory edicts and laws. Tragically, there are religious leaders making similarly harmful and false accusations against LGBTI communities around the world today, setting the groundwork for violence and state-sanctioned hate,” Bank added.

American anti-LGBTI activists have recently encouraged African countries to criminalize and punish same-sex relationships and behavior. Specifically, the preaching of Massachusetts Pastor Scott Lively has been linked to the drafting and initial passage of Uganda’s odious 2010 Anti-Homosexuality Act. In a 2009 trip to Uganda, Lively met with Uganda’s parliament and cabinet, stating that LGBTI people were trying to “unravel Uganda’s social fabric by spreading the disease of homosexuality to children.”

And in response to what they describe as “pressure from the West to legalize same-sex unions,” the Kenyan Ministry of Labor hosted the conference of the World Congress of Families (WCF) in Nairobi, which is classified as a hate group by the respected Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation.

Speakers at the WCF conference included: Don Feder, a right-wing activist who has promoted the idea that homosexuality contributes to a“demographic winter” that has led to a “crater-scarred landscape strewn with casualties”; Sharon Slater, president of an Arizona-based anti-LGBTI group who advocates that young LGBTI people undergo discredited “conversion therapy” and falsely links homosexuality to pedophilia; and Michael Hichborn, an anti-choice activist in Virginia who has referred to homosexuality as a “disordered condition” and recently launched a campaign to slander a gay employee of Catholic Relief Services.

“These hateful anti-LGBTI activists travel the world to spread a modern “blood libel” against LGBTI people based on who they are and whom they love, which is antithetical to the shared value of respect for the essential dignity of every person,” Bank added. “We abhor and denounce this hateful libel, and call on others to do the same.”

AJWS helped organize the coalition of 250 faith leaders and dozens of faith-based organizations to launch a petition of solidarity that advocates for faith leaders across the country to stand in solidarity with LGBTI people in the developing world. The multi-faith coalition petition states that “the use of faith and religious teachings to provoke and bolster violence and hatred represents a perversion of our traditions at their deepest levels …. we envision a world in which people can live free of violence, regardless of who they are, whom they love, how they present, or what the characteristics of their body are.” The petition below was signed by Christian, Jewish and Muslim organizations and faith leaders from across the United States.

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Governor signs standards, protections for medical cannabis manufacturers Sun, 02 Oct 2016 00:30:09 +0000

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2679, which will establish key standards for medical cannabis manufacturers, help implement the landmark Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), and end misguided raids on manufacturers.

“Last year, California took a historic step by regulating medical cannabis to protect patients, businesses, our communities, and the environment. But across the state, locally authorized medical cannabis manufacturers continue to be targeted by municipal law enforcement. As we await full implementation of medical cannabis regulations, manufacturers cannot continue to operate in a legal grey area,” explained joint author, Assemblymember Rob Bonta.“Under AB 2679, local governments will be given guidance and manufacturers will be protected in preparation for state licenses in 2018.”

AB 2679 requires medical cannabis manufacturers to abide by strict standards designed to ensure the safety of the manufacturing process by requiring local approval and inspection, independent certification, and the utilization of a self-contained system.

“AB 2679 brings needed clarity to local governments about the type of manufacturing of medical cannabis that is allowed during this interim period before the MCRSA is fully implemented,” said joint author, Assemblymember Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova). “I am proud to move this issue forward and continue the ongoing medical cannabis regulation conversation.”

“We and our patients are deeply grateful to our leadership in the California legislature for passing this important bill and to the Governor for making it law. The clarity this law provides will ensure that people who rely on medicinal cannabis can feel more secure about the continued supply of the quality medicine they have come to depend on. We were proud to stand with a broad coalition—like the California Police Chiefs Association—to support this legislation.” Nick Caston, Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy for CBD Guild.

“With voters set to consider adult use of cannabis at the ballot box this November, it is critical that we clarify the role of manufacturers now. By acting today, California ensures manufacturers can continue to provide patients the medicine they need,” concluded Bonta.

AB 2679 is authored by the same bipartisan coalition of Assemblymembers who authored MCRSA—Assemblymembers Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Rob Bonta, Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles), Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), and Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg). The medical cannabis manufacturing provisions previously were featured in AB 1575, from the same authors, which was held in Senate Appropriations committee.

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Alabama Chief Justice, suspended over gay marriage order Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:30:11 +0000
Roy Moore

Roy Moore

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary today suspended anti-LGBTQ Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore from the bench for the remainder of his term, due to his unethical and extralegal actions surrounding marriage equality. Moore will remain on the bench, but will not receive a salary and he will be unable to make any legal decisions. Moore’s term is up in 2018, and he will be unable to run for the office of Supreme Court justice again in Alabama as he will be past the office’s age restriction. The nine-member Court of the Judiciary found Moore unanimously guilty of all six charges brought against him.

“Roy Moore has flagrantly and willfully attempted to block marriage equality at every turn in Alabama, using his position of power to push a personal, radically anti-LGBTQ agenda. We are thrilled that justice has been done today and he will no longer be able to use the bench to discriminate against people he had taken an oath to to protect,” said Eva Kendrick, state manager for the Human Rights Campaign, Alabama. “Roy Moore’s bigoted rhetoric and unethical actions harmed LGBTQ Alabamians and emboldened those who would seek to hurt us further. We hope this is a turning point for our state. We must focus on electing politicians and judges who will move us forward, not backward.”

In Moore’s view, reported The New York Times, the federal Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, guaranteeing same-sex couples the right to marry, was not binding on Alabama directly. Without a final ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court, he insisted, the question was still open, and in January he issued an order to the state’s 68 probate judges, informing them that they had a “ministerial duty” to refuse licenses to same-sex couples until a state-level decision was handed down. It was this action that brought charges from the Judicial Inquiry Commission.

What Moore will do next is open to speculation and in the same report The New York Times quoted Jack Campbell, a Republican consultant and a former spokesman for the state Supreme Court as saying, “The last time he was kicked off as chief justice, he ran for governor. I don’t think he’s done.” We shall see.

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