LGBT Weekly » Around the Nation Sat, 29 Aug 2015 14:15:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 DNC unanimously approves a resolution in support of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage Fri, 28 Aug 2015 18:20:48 +0000
Thursday, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) body unanimously approved a resolution in support of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples throughout the country.
The Washington Blade reports, “Same-sex marriage is a constitutionally guaranteed right nationwide and can no longer be denied by state laws,” reads the resolution. “The ruling now recognizes same-sex marriages all across this nation and these families will now be protected under the law from the discrimination and mistreatment to which they have long been subjected.”

The resolution also describes the ruling in the Obergefell case as “an important victory for the LGBT community” and “a monumental step forward for our nation.

“The Democratic National Committee applauds this Supreme Court decision and will continue its work in achieving real progress and supporting the LGBT community,” it reads.
The DNC is expected to ratify the resolution later today.
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Houston Unites airs first radio ad Fri, 28 Aug 2015 17:19:18 +0000
Houston Unites

HRC Field Director Marty Rouse; Kathy Miller, President of Texas Freedom Network; Terri Burke, Executve Director of ACLU-Texas; Chuck Smith, Equality Texas

This week, Houston Unites launched its first radio ad in support of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a measure to protect Houston residents and visitors from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, reports Hayley Miller on the HRC Blog.

“As Christians, my wife and I believe in treating others the way we want to be treated, that’s what we’ve taught our children,” Rev. Dr. Will Reed, pastor at Servants of Christ United Methodist Church, says in the ad. “We’re hearing about HERO – Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance, and concerns some have raised about privacy in public bathrooms. What’s being lost is that it’s ALREADY illegal to go into a bathroom to harm or harass someone. This law won’t change that.”

Earlier this month, the Houston City Council voted to send HERO to the ballot on November 3 as “Proposition 1.”

HERO protects people in employment, housing and business services on the basis of 15 different characteristics, including sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity and pregnancy.

“In most cases, without local protections, Houstonians literally have to make a federal case out of it to get legal help with discrimination,” Rev. Reed added.  “That’s why we’re voting ‘yes’ on one, to keep Houston’s equal rights ordinance. We’re all God’s children and we should all be protected from discrimination.”

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California Senate passes Mark Leno’s E-cigarette bill Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:34:22 +0000

e-cigarettesSACRAMENTO – The Senate today, as part of the Legislature’s extraordinary session on health, passed legislation calling for new statewide regulations on electronic cigarettes. SB X2-5, authored by Sen. Mark Leno, protects the public against exposure to e-cigarettes by ensuring they are accurately defined as tobacco products and fall under the state’s existing smoke-free laws. It also requires that all e-cigarettes and liquids for e-cigarettes be sold in child-resistant packaging.

“Studies show that e-cigarettes are growing in popularity among a new generation of young Californians who are drawn to candy flavors like bubble gum and gummy bears,” said Sen. Leno, S-San Francisco. “The rate at which middle and high school students are picking up e-cigarettes – before having smoked anything else in their lives – is alarming. We must take action now to address this public health crisis, for our children, and for the public health of non-smokers and smokers alike.

The state’s Smoke Free Act prohibits smoking at workplaces, schools, daycare centers, restaurants, bars, hospitals and on public transportation, protecting Californians from secondhand smoke and reducing the acceptability of smoking in general. E-cigarettes, however, do not fall under this existing law and are largely unregulated, despite a restriction on sales to minors. SB X2-5 fixes this loophole and aligns state law with proposed federal regulations that define e-cigarettes as tobacco products. The bill is co-sponsored by a coalition of national health organizations, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and American Lung Association.

The bill will be heard next in the Assembly.

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Legislation introduced to protect LGBT Pennsylvanians from discrimination Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:02:35 +0000

HARRISBURG, Penn. — Wednesday, the Pennsylvania General Assembly introduced  the bipartisan Pennsylvania Fairness Act. Introduced by Representatives Dan Frankel (D-23) and Thomas H. Killion (R-168) in the House of Representatives and Senators Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr. (D-1) and Patrick M. Browne (R-16) in the Senate, this  legislation would update the state’s non-discrimination law to explicitly include protections for LGBT people from discrimination at work, in housing, and in public places.

According to a recent survey, 95% of Pennsylvanians believe that everyone needs to be able to earn a living – including LGBT people – and that employees should be hired, fired or promoted based on their qualifications, experience and the jobs they do – nothing more, nothing less.  An incredible 78% of Pennsylvanians support updating the state’s non-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Pennsylvania’s economy is the sixth largest in the country with nearly 6 million Pennsylvanians going to work every day to support themselves and their families. A statewide, uniform non-discrimination law protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity would provide certainty and clarity to Pennsylvania employers and employees.  34 Pennsylvania municipalities have passed separate ordinances to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, including Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Erie, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Philadelphia.

“All Pennsylvanians deserve to be able to live, work, and thrive in their communities free from unfair discrimination or harassment,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “The time for LGBT Pennsylvanians to have the critical legal protections from discrimination that they deserve is long overdue.  We urge Pennsylvania’s lawmakers to promote fairness and equality by quickly passing  the Pennsylvania Fairness Act and sending it to Governor Wolf’s desk without delay.”

]]> 0 Facebook apologizes to transgender fashion line for rejecting ads under ‘Adult’ classification Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:27:09 +0000

The Trans Fashion Landing Page rejected by Facebook Ad Staff (PRNewsFoto/Suddenly Fem)

The Trans Fashion Landing Page rejected by Facebook Ad Staff (PRNewsFoto/Suddenly Fem)

PHILADELPHIA — For over 20 years, the fashion line Suddenly Fem has been serving the transgender community with fashion forward clothes designed for trans women. Suddenly Fem ( specializes in clothes, padding, and undergarments for transgender women as well as fashionable crossdressers.

When the online and catalog based company tried to advertise through Facebook in summer 2015, in order to reach transgender customers, their ads and content were rejected as “adult” by the social media website.

After the first “not approved” advertisement, VP of Marketing and Production Tyler DeSouza redesigned the content. “There were some possible sexy poses on the page and ad, so I removed and replaced with other pictures that I knew would be quite acceptable. I must have placed at least 6 to 8 ads over this time, each not approved, wondering what needed to be changed.”

Facebook claimed that the ads were “rejected because [they don’t] follow our advertising guidelines. Ads may not promote the sale or use of adult products or services (ex: sexual enhancement products, seduction techniques, adult clubs and shows).”

However, none of these products or services are offered, sold, or promoted by the company. No content within the advertisements or on the Suddenly Fem website violated these guidelines.

In early August, the company adjusted ad copy and content to be as conservative as possible, so when an ad containing only a headshot of a transgender model was rejected, it seemed that the ads were rejected not because of their content, but possibly because of the community they represented. Misunderstanding and discrimination against the transgender community is still widespread, even with media figures such as Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner receiving national attention.

On August 6, DeSouza opened a new case with Facebook over the rejection of the company’s advertisements. His case stressed that the company sells only clothing, jewelry, bras, and shapewear to transgender women—and that the company does not sell any adult products or depict any sexual imagery.

Later that day, Facebook apologized for disapproving the advertisements. A member of the Facebook ad team said, “It appears your ads were mistakenly disapproved, and we’ve re-reviewed and approved them. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this caused.”

Facebook’s policies towards transgender users have received both praise and criticism recently. In early 2014, Facebook allowed users to select from a wide variety of gender descriptors, ranging from transgender to genderqueer, instead of the limited male or female options.

Although there is still a long way to go for transgender equality, it’s reassuring that companies such as Suddenly Fem are able to have a dialogue with Facebook and reach an understanding. With greater visibility and education about gender identity, misunderstandings such as these will hopefully become a thing of the past. As society progresses, it is important that large corporations such as Facebook treat transgender shoppers and retailers with equal recognition and respect.

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Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denies emergency motion from anti-gay Kentucky Clerk Wed, 26 Aug 2015 22:12:50 +0000

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit today denied a request from Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis of Kentucky to issue a stay on a lower court’s ruling that orders her to immediately resume issuing marriage licenses – including to same-sex couples – regardless of her religious objections to marriage equality. U.S. District Judge David Bunning had temporarily stayed his order directing her to do so while Davis appealed his decision to the Sixth Circuit.

The judges found that “it cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk’s office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court. There is thus little or no likelihood that the Clerk in her official capacity will prevail on appeal.”

“Public servants have a responsibility to serve the entire public, including LGBT people,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC senior vice president for Policy and Political Affairs.  “Freedom of religion is important, and Ms. Davis has the fundamental right to believe what she likes, but as a public servant she does not have the right to pick and choose which laws she will follow or which services she will provide. If Ms. Davis feels as though she cannot fulfill her responsibilities, she should resign her public position.”

Davis is represented by the vehemently anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel.

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Transgender Law Center condemns raid Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:04:28 +0000

Yesterday, federal agents  raided the offices of, and arrested the CEO of, Jeffrey Hurant, and six employees on charges of racketeering and promoting prostitution.

The Transgender Law Center has issued a statement condemning the raid, reiterating a call to decriminalize sex work. The release states:

This bust comes at a time when human rights advocates globally are uniting around a call to decriminalize sex work and at a time when the United States has the largest prison population in the world, with people of color, particularly Black people, representing a vastly disproportionate percentage of the incarcerated.

With this raid, the U.S. federal government is not only jeopardizing countless people’s lives and only source of livelihood, but sending a clear and troubling message that the country is less invested in addressing systemic issues of racial, economic, and anti-LGBT injustice than in further criminalizing the individuals most marginalized by those systems.

Last week, Transgender Law Center and four other U.S.-based LGBT advocacy organizations issued a statement in support of Amnesty International’s call to decriminalize sex work. Yesterday’s action by the federal government is a clear demonstration of why LGBT organizations and people must be invested in this work to protect the human rights of sex workers. Laws criminalizing sexual exchange impede sex workers’ ability to negotiate condom use and other boundaries, and force many to work in hidden or remote places where they are more vulnerable to violence. Actions like the government’s raid contribute to the unjust and unacceptable systems and society we have today, from the disproportionate incarceration of Black transgender and gender non-conforming people to the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color.


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More young adults are identifying as bisexual Wed, 26 Aug 2015 17:29:03 +0000

Recent studies in the U.S. and the United Kingdom suggest that increasing numbers of young adults are identifying on the spectrum of sexual identity, somewhere between exclusively gay and exclusively straight, writes Beth Sherouse on the HRC Blog.

A study from YouGov asked 1,000 respondents to identify their sexuality along a modified Kinsey Scale of sexuality, with zero being “completely heterosexual” and six being “completely homosexual.” Among Americans ages 18-29, 29 percent identified somewhere between zero and six, indicating at least some level of sexual attraction to more than one gender.

The study also showed that the proportion of respondents who identified with “varying degrees of bisexuality” was markedly lower among U.S. adults in older age brackets. While 24 percent of those between the ages of 30-44 put themselves somewhere between one to five on the Kinsey scale, only eight percent of those 45-64 and seven percent of those 65+ indicated the same.

A similar study in the United Kingdom found these trends to be even more pronounced, with 43 percent of those ages 18-24 placing themselves from one to five on the Kinsey scale.

These studies are significant in that they suggest a growing acknowledgement of and identification with sexual fluidity. Moreover, only 78 percent of Americans said they were exclusively heterosexual. That calls into question more conservative estimates about the overall size of the LGBTQ community, which have suggested that as few as 3.5 percent of Americans identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, and only 11 percent admit some level of same-sex attraction.

For information on supporting bisexual youth, visit

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A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging the CEO of, Jeffrey Hurant, and six employees with conspiring to violate the Travel Act by promoting prostitution. The defendants were arrested this morning and are scheduled to appear before United States Magistrate Judge Marilyn Go at the United States Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.

The charges were announced by Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Glenn Sorge, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York; and William J. Bratton, Commissioner, New York City Police Department.

As alleged in the complaint, is a male escort advertising site founded in 1997 which hosts thousands of paid advertisements. While the site has disclaimers stating that the advertisements are for companionship and not sexual services, is designed primarily for advertising illegal prostitution. The Web site charges subscribers a minimum monthly fee of $59.95 and up to several hundred dollars to advertise sexual services. Once the fee is paid, subscribers can select from a number of categories created by the sexual services they are willing to perform and the price charged. Subscribers can also include their physical descriptions and provide links to another Web site where their sexual services are rated by prior customers.

“As alleged, attempted to present a veneer of legality, when in fact this Internet brothel made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution,” stated Acting United States Attorney Currie. Mr. Currie thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Field Office in New York, and the District Attorney’s Office for New York County for their assistance in the investigation.

In addition, earlier today the government served warrants authorizing the seizure of over $1.4 million of alleged criminal proceeds from six bank accounts. The government also took steps to restrain the domain name

The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted each defendant faces up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

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David Chiu and coalition to all on Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the Equal Protection for All Families Act Tue, 25 Aug 2015 19:10:16 +0000
David Chiu

David Chiu

Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) will join a coalition of LGBT and family advocates to urge Gov. Brown to sign Assembly Bill 960, the Equal Protection for All Families Act. The Assembly passed the bill on Monday, and it now heads to the governor’s desk.

AB 960 would update current assisted reproduction laws in three ways. First, unmarried couples using assisted reproduction to become parents would be recognized as such on the same terms as married parents from the moment their child is born. Second, the bill would remove the requirement from Family Law that couples must involve a doctor when using assisted reproduction in order to ensure that the donor is not a parent. Finally, AB 960 provides clear direction for how egg donors should be treated under California law.

“This bill provides crucial legal relief for many couples, especially LGBT individuals, who are trying to become parents by using assisted reproduction,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “Many families, especially our LGBT families, hesitate before having children through assisted reproduction for fear that they may not be legally recognized as the parents they’ve always wanted and intended to be. The fear of possibly never having parental rights as intended is a heartbreaking scenario that needs to stop in California.”

Assemblymember David Chiu will be joined by Polly Pagenhart of Our Family Coalition, Cathy Sakimura of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Jo Michael of Equality California, Wednesday 9 a.m. on the steps of the Earl Warren Building in San Francisco.

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UN Security Council meeting challenges international community to develop more effective protections for LGBT persons Tue, 25 Aug 2015 17:46:04 +0000

The UN Security Council held its first-ever meeting on the persecution of homosexuals by Islamic State terrorists, Monday.

The closed-door session, sponsored by the U.S. and Chile,focused on LGBT rights and issues. According to The U.N. Security Council heard from two homosexual Arab men, including a Syrian named Subhi Nahas who has been resettled in the United States. The other gay man, who fled Iraq, phoned in from the Middle East

“It was a very moving meeting,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said after the session. “Again, we’re getting this issue into the DNA of the United Nations, but until today the Security Council had never broached this topic, and so today also represents a small but historic step.

“Everybody has read about what ISIL and what others are doing to LGBT people around the world, but it’s another thing entirely to hear personal testimonies. While others spoke, including members of the Security Council and other member States, photos also were projected that depicted what ISIL is doing to LGBT persons or those suspected of being LGBT.”

Power said that Monday’s meeting is a sign that this issue is getting ” …injected into the mainstream at the United Nations.”

Watch Power’s statement above.

White House NSC Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement following the meeting, “… Today’s session focused on ISIL’s atrocities targeted against LGBT persons and those perceived to be LGBT in Syria and Iraq. In highlighting acts of horrific brutality that these individuals have endured, today’s discussion challenged the international community to develop better and more effective protections for LGBT persons …”

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In a historic first, U.N. Security Council convenes to discuss LGBT rights Mon, 24 Aug 2015 22:45:06 +0000
Samantha Power Cristián Barros Melet

Samantha Power and Cristián Barros Melet

The U.S Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and her Chilean counterpart Ambassador Cristián Barros Melet are holding the first ever U.N. Security Council meeting on LGBT rights later today.  Open to all U.N. member states, the gathering will focus on the appalling abuse and violence being perpetrated against LGBT people in areas in which ISIS exerts control.

As it continues its path of destruction across Iraq and Syria, ISIS has released several images and videos documenting the brutal execution of those accused of being LGBT. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has created a timeline of attacks against allegedly LGBT people, including executions that often involve throwing men from roof tops or stoning them to death. In a particularly shocking example, ISIS released videos of the public execution of four gay men on Twitter on the same day the U.S. Supreme  Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, using the hashtag “Love Wins.”

Ambassador Power and the Obama Administration have made clear that the rights of LGBT people are intrinsically part of America’s foreign policy and national security strategies. In 2011, President Obama declared that the “struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States’ commitment to promoting human rights.” More recently, President Obama explained in the 2015 State of the Union that protecting individuals, including those who are LGBT, is in the national security interests of the United States. Earlier this year, under the leadership of Secretary of State John Kerry, Randy Berry was appointed the first ever Special Envoy for LGBTI Human Rights.

“The gruesome images and videos documenting ISIS’s horrific violence are a haunting reminder of humankind’s capacity for evil,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “By convening this meeting, Ambassadors Power and Melet have made clear that these human rights abuses against LGBT people are not only deeply heinous and inhumane, but also a matter of utmost importance to global security.”

The situation for LGBT people around the world varies widely. As some countries embrace equality, in others, LGBT people continue to suffer from discrimination, persecution, and violence.

·  19 countries now have marriage equality and in two countries same-sex marriage is legal in certain jurisdictions.

·  But in 10 countries worldwide, same-sex activity is punishable by death, and 75 countries criminalize same-sex relationships. Hundreds of transgender individuals have been brutally murdered in the last year.

·  In a growing number of countries, governments have sought to silence equality advocates and organizations with so-called “anti-propaganda” laws and legislation.

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GOP candidates duck on the Equality Act (VIDEO) Mon, 24 Aug 2015 18:36:54 +0000

HBO’s Last Week Tonight reported last night that the entire field of Republican candidates for president refused to answer a simple yes or no question about whether they would support the Equality Act. The segment also noted that Gov. Bobby Jindal and Gov. John Kasich both weakened non-discrimination protections for LGBT people during their tenure.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton announced her support for the Equality Act after its introduction in July, and Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee told Last Week Tonight that they would support a federal nondiscrimination bill.

The Equality Act is a landmark federal non-discrimination bill that would finally extend key civil rights protections to LGBT Americans.

31 states across the country lack fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans – including many states that the 2016 candidates call home. Among the states that currently lack fully-inclusive LGBT non-discrimination protections are Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.

In July, GQR’s Democracy Corps Survey found that 59 percent of likely 2016 voters are less likely to support a candidate for president who opposes non-discrimination protections for LGBT people – including 61 percent of Independent voters who say they are less likely to support a candidate who opposes these protections, and 54 percent of blue collar voters.  The same survey also found bipartisan support for federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. Support included nearly two-thirds of Republicans, and 90 percent of Democrats.

“The time has come for full federal equality. We all deserve to know whether the candidates support the Equality Act, or whether they want to continue to live in a country where in 31 states, LGBT people are at risk for being denied a job or denied service at a business because of who they are, or who they love,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of Policy and Political Affairs for the Human Rights Campaign. “The Equality Act is a simple idea, that everyone should have a fair chance to earn a living, provide for their families, and live their lives without fear of discrimination, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Our simple question deserves a simple yes or no answer. So we are asking the Republican presidential candidates: do you support the Equality Act or not?”

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Ellen Page serves Ted Cruz ‘Equality on a Stick’ at Iowa State Fair for defending LGBT discrimination (VIDEO) Sun, 23 Aug 2015 19:00:28 +0000

ABC Latest News | Latest News Videos

Friday, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz found himself on the defensive in Iowa after his speech on the Des Moines Register Soap Box after taking questions from actress Ellen Page, who came out in 2014 at HRC’s Time to Thrive conference. Page has since become an activist and role model for LGBT youth, and also stars in “Freeheld” with Julianne Moore, an upcoming film that documents the struggle of real life lesbian couple Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree to overcome discrimination.

In the exchange, Cruz, claimed that business owners were facing discrimination by being asked to serve all customers – including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers – equally. Contrary to his claims, HRC’s polling of self-identified LGBT Americans found that nearly two-thirds of LGBT people have experienced discrimination. Watch the exchange above.

Ted Cruz also bizarrely claimed that the abuses against LGBT people around the world are going unnoticed while suggesting that activists like Page made too big a deal of challenges in the U.S. In fact, the U.N. Security Council is scheduled to convene to discuss ISIS’s horrific violence against LGBT people in a special session this Monday, and the Human Rights Campaign is one of several organizations that proudly works to stem hate and advance LGBT equality around the world.

“Ted Cruz showed today that he is living in another era where he thinks it’s acceptable to treat LGBT people differently and allow businesses to refuse service to someone just because of who they are, or who they love,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy of Political Affairs. “Today Ted Cruz was served an important reminder that in a country like ours that values the free market economy, businesses should serve all law-abiding customers who can afford to pay equally, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

Last month, the Human Rights Campaign commissioned polling by GQR’s Democracy Corps that showed that a majority of 2016 likely voters oppose using religion as an excuse to discriminate. HRC’s July survey found that a 56 percent majority believe small business owners should not be allowed to refuse service to someone because they are gay or lesbian, even if it violates their religious beliefs. Nearly half (46 percent), strongly oppose giving small businesses the right to discriminate, including 55 percent of white millennials.

Previously, HRC’s polling showed after the right to discriminate debate in Indiana that Hoosiers believe businesses should serve all customers equally, even businesses that cite so-called “religious freedom,” when denying services to LGBT couples.

In the Senate, Ted Cruz voted against bills that would have created explicit, permanent federal protections against discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the workplace and education.

Ironically, Cruz made his comments at the state fair in Iowa, which became the fourth state in the country to achieve marriage equality in 2009 and which is home to some of the most LGBT friendly municipalities in the nation according to HRC’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI).

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Commentary: Selma envy to Selma Pride flag Sat, 22 Aug 2015 19:00:53 +0000

Critics of our community, even after decades of civil rights victories, still laugh at comparison of our struggle for civil rights with that of African Americans in the 1950s and ’60s. They see nothing similar to our struggle for justice as a minority group with that of our African American brothers and sisters.

The signal event of the civil rights movement for African Americans took place in Selma 50 years ago. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaign in Selma was a long effort that resulted in “Bloody Sunday,” “Turnaround Tuesday,” and “Glory,” the title of the Golden Globe and Academy Award winning song from the film “Selma,” on the successful conclusion of the 50-mile five-day trek on March 25, 1965.

My late father, James G. Patterson, served with the Alabama National Guard at the final Selma march to Montgomery. It was a life changing experience for marchers, Guardsmen, reporters, and the world and free from physical violence if not hate speech. My father told me a white woman spit on his Guard uniform and called him a “white N-word.” Tragically, Viola Liuzzo, a white Detroit homemaker and mother, was killed after the march.

Among the people my late father and thousands of other troops guarded were Dr. King, future Congressman John Lewis, future United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, out gay organizer Bayard Rustin, celebrated author James Baldwin, and activist Dick Gregory, many others.

Hate was in session in Selma when the famous march took place just like the hate that was in session at Stonewall Inn in 1969. The bar was raided by police one time too many and a riot ensued that sparked a movement that grows stronger every day in New York, in the country, and in the world.

For me, as a gay youth in the 1960s Alabama, I can argue down any critic or fool who denies the gay rights movement is just as important to the civil rights movement in our country as the historic events I saw unfold in the 1960s. The LGBT community does not have Selma envy; we have Selma pride.

To honor my late father, the Alabama Film Commission arranged for me to have a role as a reporter in the Oprah Winfrey production “Selma.” My scenes were filmed in Atlanta over Father’s Day weekend of 2014.

As I waited in my hotel for my costume fitting, makeup, 1960s era haircut, and eventual filming call, I became emotional and telephoned longtime friend Rev. Pat Bumgardner at the Metropolitan Community Church on West 36th Street in New York. I was grateful she took time from her schedule to pray with me over the phone.

One year later, I honored my late father again, this time in New York on Father’s Day weekend again, at the Metropolitan Community Church on West 36th Street. The occasion was the consecration of Rev. Pat Bumgardner to Bishop.

Jerrold Nadler, my former congressman before temporarily relocating to the West Coast, had two U.S. flags raised over the Capitol in Washington in honor of my late father on March 25, the 50th anniversary of the end of the successful Selma march.

Just like the small role I played in the film “Selma,” I played a small role in Bishop Pat’s consecration. I presented one of the Selma flags in honor of Bishop Pat’s personal and religious leadership for equality of LGBT people in New York and around the world through her global ministry.

I wanted Bishop Pat and the MCC congregation to know my father was in the struggle for LGBT civil rights in spirit just as he was in the struggle for civil and voting rights at Selma 50 years ago. I did this, in prayer and in memory of my late father, before I heard the term “Selma envy.”

Though I was not in New York during the Stonewall Inn riots and the birth of LGBT Pride, as soon as I graduated high school in the mid-1970s, I was Stonewall bound. I wanted to experience the sexual liberation I had read about and seen, mostly condemned, on TV where the movement was born.

New York in the 1970s was joyous and free for the time I was there. It was also about “smashing gay oppression” and being openly gay without fear. It was about being a part of a community struggling together for the promises the American flag made but were unfulfilled even until today.

I am convinced the pride I saw on the faces of African Americans in Alabama after Selma was alive in New York in the 1970s. I am in New York several times a month and LGBT pride is undiminished. In fact, we are close to having the freedom our flag has always promised.

The civil rights struggle of Stonewall and Selma are not just a part of my life. They are my life. My late father would be proud to know a United States flag honoring him rests among the LGBT congregation of MCC New York.

I hope to place the other “Selma Pride” U.S. flag in another historic LGBT location in New York by the end of this year. I promise to let readers know when and where that happens.

Human Rights Advocate Jim Patterson is a writer, speaker, and lifelong diplomat for dignity for all people. In a remarkable life spanning the civil rights movement to today’s human rights struggles, he stands as a voice for the voiceless. A prolific writer, he documents history’s wrongs and the struggle for dignity to provide a roadmap to a more humane future. Learn more at

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Denver Council stall on approving Chick-Fil-A’s return to airport due to company’s anti-LGBT stance Sat, 22 Aug 2015 14:00:51 +0000

Chick-Fil-AFast-food company Chick-Fil-A’s return to Denver International Airport may be in jeopardy because of their anti-LGBT stance. A number of City Council members this week passionately questioned a proposed concession agreement, reports The Denver Post.

Councilman Paul Lopez called opposition to the chain at the airport “really, truly a moral issue on the city.”

His position comes despite ardent assurances from the concessionaires — who have operated other Denver Airport restaurants — that strict nondiscrimination policies will include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Robin Kniech, the council’s first openly gay member, said she was most worried about a local franchise generating “corporate profits used to fund and fuel discrimination.” Four of the six committee members also had questions about the store’s ability to abide by local nondiscrimination laws. Ten of the full council’s 12 members attended the committee meeting; none spoke in favor of the proposed franchise.

“We can do better than this brand in Denver at our airport, in my estimation,” new council member Jolon Clark said at the meeting, according to The Denver Post report.




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Florida marriage licenses to become gender-neutral Fri, 21 Aug 2015 17:56:44 +0000

A year after a federal judge ruled Florida’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, the state is finally taking steps to make the necessary updates to marriage and death certificates.

Friday is the anniversary of District Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling. But even after it took effect Jan. 6, Florida’s marriage applications and certificates would allow entries only for “Husband” and “Wife.”

The new forms, expected to be available by mid-September, will provide a place for the name of each “Spouse.”

As the state Bureau of Vital Statistics sought public comment on the proposed change this summer, Equality Florida submitted 1,266 signatures in support of this inclusive update.

“Equality Florida is committed to making sure the state of Florida fully implements marriage equality and treats LGBT families equally under the law,” said Hannah Willard, the organization’s marriage issues coordinator.

A separate challenge by Equality Florida and three lesbian couples over the state’s refusal to allow same-sex spouses to be listed on birth certificates in the same way that different-sex spouses are is pending. State officials currently insist that only the birth mother be listed on a newborn child’s birth certificate and that she be listed as single even if she is married to a woman.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights filed suit on behalf of Equality Florida and the three couples on August 13.

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Illinois governor signs bill protecting LGBTQ kids from conversion therapy Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:41:52 +0000
Gov. Bruce Rauner

Gov. Bruce Rauner

Thursday, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 217 into law, making Illinois the fifth jurisdiction—behind California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Oregon—to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy.

House Bill 217, which protects LGBTQ youth from mental health providers attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through these practices, which are linked to substance abuse, extreme depression, and suicide, was overwhelmingly approved by the Illinois House of Representatives and General Assembly. The law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2016.

“We are thrilled that Illinois has joined the rapidly growing number of states leading the way to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy,” said the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Samantha Ames. “Illinois families can now have confidence that the mental health professional they turn to in times of uncertainty may not use their state license to profit from their children’s pain. Most importantly, Illinois kids can now rest easy in the knowledge that they cannot be forced or coerced to undergo dangerous and discredited treatments to fix who they are. Today brings us one step closer to the day when all LGBTQ youth know they were born perfect.”

“With this tremendous step, LGBT youth in Illinois are now protected from a dangerous and appalling practice based on junk pseudoscience that amounts to nothing less than child abuse,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin. “Discredited by every major mental health, medical, and child welfare organization, conversion ‘therapy’ uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love and acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. We thank Governor Rauner, as well as members of the state legislature on both sides of the aisle, for putting politics aside and the well-being of children first. We will continue to work with our allies to secure these crucial protections in every state across the nation.”

NCLR and HRC, in conjunction with the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Equality Illinois, and other groups, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill. A broad range of groups supported HB 217, including national LGBTQ organizations, mental health organizations, faith leaders, youth advocates, and civil rights organizations.

NCLR and HRC have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation to end this dangerous practice, including laws passed in California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, and now Illinois.

Last year, NCLR launched its #BornPerfect campaign to stop conversion therapy across the country by 2019 by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Illinois is the third state to pass such a law in 2015 alone.

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New HRC polling shows strong support for Equality Act in swing house districts Thu, 20 Aug 2015 17:28:39 +0000

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)released new polling to show broad support for the newly introduced Equality Act in swing districts across the country. The Equality Act – which was introduced with a record number of original cosponsors — would ensure permanent non-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans.

“People across the country have embraced the very simple idea behind the Equality Act that everyone should live free from fear of discrimination and have a fair chance to earn a living and provide for their families, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of Policy and Political Affairs. “Strong support from voters in Republican-held districts is another sign that members of Congress who won’t support the Equality Act risk being left behind next November.”

The polling finds freshman Carlos Curbelo tied and freshmen David Young and Cresent Hardy trail narrowly in a hypothetical re-election matchup with a Democrat. A significant percentage of the members’ current supporters in their districts report that they would be less likely to support their members for opposing the Equality Act, 14 percent of Young’s current supporters, 18 percent of Curbelo’s current supporters and 13 percent of Hardy’s current supporters. Those margins are large enough to put the incumbents behind a challenger by 5 to 8 percent. While Congressman Garrett and Dold start ahead –18 percent of their supporters said they would be less likely to support them — a margin big enough to reverse their leads and put Dold and Garrett behind a challenger.

Meanwhile, a 55 percent majority of Democrats in Congressman Dan Lipinski’s district say they’d be less likely to support him if he opposed the Equality Act.

Previously, HRC released two rounds of national polling that found bipartisan public support for a federal non-discrimination bill like the Equality Act. In March, HRC’s polling showed that nearly two-thirds of LGBT people have experienced discrimination in their lives. In June, 59 percent said they would be less likely to support a candidate for President who opposed a federal LGBT non-discrimination bill.

The Equality Act would help address the lack of clear, fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections in 31 states across the country where LGBT Americans can get legally married but remain at risk of losing their job or being denied services for who they are who they love.

Highlights from the polls by district:

#IA03 By a margin of 48 to 26, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Freshman David Young trails a hypothetical Democratic challenger by 1 point and with underwater personal favorability ratings. Separately, 14 percent of his current supporters said they would be less likely to vote for him if he opposed the Equality Act.

#IL03 By a margin of 56 to 28, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Incumbent Dan Lipinski leads a hypothetical Republican by a significant margin in his Democratic district. But 55 percent of Democrats said they would be less likely to support Lipinski, who has a history of opposing LGBT equality, if he opposed the Equality Act. Overall, 34 percent of his current supporters said they would be less likely to vote for him if he opposes the Equality Act.

#IL10 By a margin of 49 to 28, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Incumbent Republican Bob Dold leads a hypothetical rematch with Brad Schneider by four points. Overall, 18 percent of his current supporters would be less likely to vote for Dold if he opposed the Equality Act. A plurality of undecided voters – 29 percent – also said they would be less likely to support Dold if he opposes the Equality Act.

#FL26 By a margin of 52 to 24, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Freshman Republican Carlos Curbelo starts out tied in a hypothetical matchup with Democrat Annette Taddeo. Overall, 18 percent of his current supporters would be less likely to vote for Dold if he opposed the Equality Act. A plurality of undecided voters – 29 percent – also said they would be less likely to support Curbelo if he opposes the Equality Act.

#NJ05 By a margin of 55 to 22, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Incumbent Republican Scott Garrett — who recently made news for his anti-LGBT comments — starts out with a lead in a hypothetical matchup with Democrat Josh Gottheimer, but is under 50 percent with a slightly negative favorability rating. And 18 percent of his current supporters said they would be less likely to support Garrett if he opposes the Equality Act.

#NV04 By a margin of 47 to 31, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Freshman Republican Cresent Hardy starts out behind a generic Democrat in a hypothetical re-election with mixed favorability ratings and low name ID. Separately, 13 percent of his current supporters said they would be less likely to vote for Hardy if he opposes the Equality Act.

#WI01 By a margin of 46 to 23, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Incumbent Republican Paul Ryan heads into 2016 with a lead against a generic Democrat in a hypothetical re-election. But 11 percent of his current supporters said they would be less likely to vote for Ryan if he opposes the Equality Act. And a 27 percent plurality of undecided voters said they would be more likely to oppose a candidate who did not support the Equality Act.

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130 major organizations urge Obama administration to rescind discriminatory Bush-era ‘Religious Freedom’ memo Thu, 20 Aug 2015 17:24:00 +0000

WASHINGTON – Today 130 major religious, education, civil rights, labor, LGBT, women’s, and health organizations delivered a letter to President Obama urging him to review and reconsider a memo from the Office of Legal Counsel that has been used to permit taxpayer funded discrimination. The letter warns that the 2007 memo “reaches the erroneous and dangerous conclusion that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) provides a blanket override of a statutory non-discrimination provision.”

“This Bush-era policy is based on faulty legal assumptions and is being used to put the government in the business of funding discrimination,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “By rescinding this flawed memo, President Obama can make clear that taxpayer money cannot be used for unjust discrimination – period. The President has an unprecedented legacy of advancing fairness and equality for the LGBT community, and with the limited time he has remaining in office, we urge him to solidify that legacy by taking action on this critically important issue.”

A portion of the letter states, “The OLC Memo’s broad and erroneous interpretation of RFRA has far-reaching consequences. For example, although the OLC Memo’s conclusion is focused on one grantee in one Justice Department program, the Department has implemented it as a categorical exemption—that does not even require an individualized inquiry—to all religious hiring discrimination bans, most recently in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The Department of Labor has also cited the OLC Memo to adopt a categorical prohibition. Moreover, some have cited the OLC Memo in arguing that RFRA should broadly exempt religiously affiliated contractors from the nondiscrimination requirements in Executive Order 11246, including those you added just last year that bar government contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. And, some are trying to extend its reach beyond the context of hiring: Several grantees and contractors have cited the OLC Memo to support their arguments that the government should create a blanket exemption that would allow them to refuse to provide services or referrals required under those funding agreements, specifically in the context of medical care for unaccompanied immigrant children who have suffered sexual abuse.”

Included in the HRC 2015 Blueprint for Positive Change, a series of actions the administration can take to change the lives of LGBT Americans for the better, HRC continues to consider the issue a top priority.

In a speech in Zanesville, OH, in July 2008, President Obama said, “Now, make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea – so long as we follow a few basic principles.”

He added, “First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.”

In the letter, the 130 organizations led by Americans United For Separation of Church and State urge the President to keep this promise by reviewing and reconsidering the OLC memo.

The full letter can be read here.

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Homophobic radio host:’I was born that way’ (VIDEO) Thu, 20 Aug 2015 00:37:46 +0000

On his radio program yesterday, Bryan Fischer argued that he and others like him were “born a Christian” and repulsed by homosexuality and so they ought to be entitled to have their associated rights respected and protected by the government, reports Right Wing Watch.

Fischer took a call from “Terry in Macon, Georgia,” who argued that he didn’t have a choice about being a Christian because he was made in God’s image and was therefore born that way. As such, he wanted to know why he has “fewer rights” than gays who also claim to have been born that way.

“I think, actually, that’s a good argument,” Fischer replied. “The way I am, I was born this way. And you know, you think about it Terry, who would choose, at this time in our nation’s history, to be a Christian? You’re ridiculed. You’re mocked. You’re made fun of. You get fired … I mean, who would choose a lifestyle where you are the unending subject of ridicule, mockery, and contempt by liberals in society, by elites, by professors, on the media, by politicians? Who’s going to choose that? So our defense is, hey, I was born that way.”

Watch the Right Wing Watch video above.

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RNC quietly passes anti-LGBT resolution Tue, 18 Aug 2015 22:15:59 +0000

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus | Photo: Gage Skidmore

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has passed an anti-LGBT resolution in support of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). Going far beyond protecting the rights established in the First Amendment, this anti-LGBT legislation would undermine the rule of law and promote taxpayer-funded discrimination.

FADA would prohibit any adverse action by the federal government against an individual or organization for discriminatory actions against legally married same-sex couples as long as they claim they are acting in accordance with their religious beliefs. “Adverse action” is broadly defined to include the denial or revocation of a federal tax status or deduction; denial of a federal grant, contract, loan, benefit or employment; or any other act of discrimination. The bill provides individuals and organizations the right to sue the federal government for monetary damages in federal court.

If passed, this legislation would create a breakdown of government services and runaway litigation. It would permit a federal employee, for example, to refuse to process tax returns, visa applications or Social Security checks whenever a same-sex couple’s paperwork appears on his or her desk.

This legislation would also permit recipients of federal grants and contracts, including those for social services programs like homeless shelters and substance abuse treatment programs, to turn away LGBT people.  It allows any of these individuals or groups, or anyone else who believes they have been somehow required by the federal government to approve of married same-sex couples, to file a lawsuit and potentially receive damages from taxpayer money.

“The right to believe is fundamental, but the right to use taxpayer dollars to promote discrimination is not,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for Policy and Political Affairs for the Human Rights Campaign. “It’s no wonder the RNC attempted to keep quiet its support for a reckless and irresponsible bill that would promote discrimination with taxpayers’ money and reward discriminatory actions by federal employees with taxpayer funding. Those Republican candidates who choose not to speak out against this RNC resolution should not be shocked when LGBT Americans choose to not give them the benefit of the doubt next November.”

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Rosie O’Donnell tweets that teen daughter Chelsea is missing Tue, 18 Aug 2015 20:58:23 +0000

Comedienne Rosie O’Donnell has tweeted that her seventeen year-old daughter, Chelsea, has gone missing.

According to O’Donnell Chelsea was last seen Tuesday Aug. 11. O’Donnell posted the following on her Web site:

Rosie O’Donnell’s 17 year old daughter, Chelsea O’Donnell was reported missing. Nyack, New York police authorities have been looking for her in the Rockland County area since Sunday, August 16. She was last seen Tuesday, August 11. She was wearing a black sweatshirt hoodie, dark ripped blue jeans, women’s grey converse sneakers and a black backpack. Chelsea has a large tattoo on her right side of a dream catcher with the word ‘Breathe.’ She left home with her 6 month old therapy dog named Bear. The dog is a 9 lbs brown and black terrier. Chelsea stopped taking her medicine and is in need of medical attention. Any information please contact authorities at 845-358-0206 or 911.

O’Donnell, 53, also posted a photo of Chelsea and her dog. O’Donnell says her daughter may be in New York City — about 25 miles south of her home in Nyack, New York.

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Anti-LGBT county clerk gets time to appeal judge’s decision over her opposition to marriage equality Tue, 18 Aug 2015 17:52:38 +0000

Kim Davis

U.S. District Judge David Bunning temporarily stayed his order requiring Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis of Kentucky to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as she appeals his decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Last week Judge Bunning had ordered to issue licenses to two gay couples without further delay.

This means that Davis will continue to refuse to issue marriage licenses to anyone in Rowan County. ABC News reported Davis as saying, “This is not something I decided because of this decision that came down,” Davis testified in federal court last month. “It was thought-out and, you know, I sought God on it.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court has firmly established that every person has a fundamental right to marry the person they love,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC vice president for Policy and Political Affairs. “No public employee should have the right to deny or delay that right to loving, committed same-sex couples who have already waited far too long for marriage equality. We urge the Sixth Circuit to rule swiftly and unequivocally that gay and lesbian couples must be treated equally under our laws.”

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Lesbian UPS employee wins $100,000 against UPS for discrimination Tue, 18 Aug 2015 17:35:17 +0000

NEW YORK– June 18, was a day of celebration for Tameeka Roberts. With the assistance of her attorneys, Alex Umansky and Jessenia Maldonado of Phillips & Associates, Roberts obtained a jury verdict of $100,000 for being discriminated against and by her supervisor, Donald Woodard, due to her sexual orientation while employed at United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS). The jury verdict was upheld by the Court  July 27. 

Roberts, a lesbian, lives with her wife and three sons in New Jersey. She has been employed with UPS since 1995. Woodard supervised Roberts from 2007-2008 and 2010-2012. Conflict began in 2007 when Roberts complained to Woodard regarding a denigrating comment he made to her about another lesbian employee. Throughout most of the time that Woodard was Roberts’s supervisor, Woodard made repeated discriminatory comments regarding Roberts’s sexual orientation, such as “Being a lesbian is a sin…it says so in the bible.” Roberts repeatedly complained to Woodard and several higher-ranking UPS employees, including Human Resources and corporate headquarters, to no avail.
In late 2012, UPS’s Human Resources Department launched an investigation in Roberts’s complaints of discrimination. Beverly Riddick, UPS’s Human Resources Operations Manager, conducted the investigation and found that Roberts’s allegations were factual, but, however, did not believe such conduct constituted discrimination or harassment.  Thereafter, UPS allowed Woodard to continue to work with and supervise Roberts until mid-January 2013 when he was transferred to another location.

Dec. 3, 2012, Roberts received permission to miss work to appear for traffic court, which was noted in her time card; however, the following day, her time card indicated she was absent without calling in. She believed Woodard altered her time card.

Dec. 21, 2012, Roberts suffered injuries to her face, shoulder, and hand when packages fell on top of her. After Roberts was hit, she looked up and saw Woodard above her.  Woodard was attempting a UPS procedure called “breaking a jam” but failed to follow safety protocol. He was not disciplined for this.

The discipline Woodard received as a result of Roberts’s complaints was he was transferred to another location, had to review UPS policies and procedures, and draft two written statements. UPS’s investigation was terminated without recourse, finding Roberts’s allegations as “unsubstantiated.”  Roberts also filed a complaint of discrimination with the New York State Division of Human Rights.

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Gov. Brown signs bill protecting grocery workers’ jobs Mon, 17 Aug 2015 23:55:45 +0000

SACRAMENTO A bill by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to protect grocery workers from being fired because of changes in store ownership was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown today in the wake of the news that several Haggen stores will soon undergo another change of ownership since being acquired in the Safeway-Albertson’s merger less than a year ago.

Assembly Bill 359 protects grocery employees working in stores of at least 15,000 square feet from being fired during a 90-day transition period if the grocery store is undergoing a change of ownership. Following the transition period, the new employer must provide a written performance evaluation and consider an offer of continued employment following a satisfactory evaluation. Employers would retain the right to terminate an employee for cause at any time during and following the transition period.

AB 359 is the first statewide law in the nation to require grocery stores to retain employees after a change in ownership.

“Wall Street mergers and acquisitions that make big money for corporations and private equity firms should not jeopardize jobs of the grocery workers who live and work in our communities,” said Gonzalez. “This is a common sense opportunity to save people’s jobs and make sure the most experienced, best prepared workers stay on the job during a complicated transition period.”

Brown’s approval of AB 359 comes just days after Haggen Inc. announced it will be putting up 27 stores – 16 in California, including 3 locations in Assemblywoman Gonzalez’s district in southern San Diego County – for sale after the company acquired the stores as part of last year’s $9 billion giant grocery merger. The news put thousands of middle-class grocery jobs – many of those in San Diego County – in jeopardy.

Gov. Brown’s approval of the new law was hailed by worker advocates as a victory for protecting middle class jobs.

“The grocery industry is changing at a fast and furious pace and that can create a lot of uncertainty for the employees that have made these stores so profitable,” said Mickey Kasparian, president for the San Diego-based United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135. “It’s important that workers have a fair chance to keep their jobs and we are ecstatic that Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Governor Brown found common ground in protecting these workers and their families by AB 359 into law today.”

California currently boasts an estimated 383,900 employees of large grocery stores whose jobs could be protected by AB359 during large grocery mergers or sales. The cities of San Francisco, Santa Monica, Alameda, Gardena and Los Angeles have adopted have local ordinances containing similar protections to retain workers. While California would be the first state in the nation to pass a statewide grocery worker retention law, AB 359 would not be the first worker retention bill of its kind in California, as janitorial maintenance employees are currently protected during a change of contractor at a worksite under the Displaced Janitor Opportunity Act (SB 20, 2001).

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New campaign aims to stop bullying on ‘Day One’ Mon, 17 Aug 2015 23:47:43 +0000

The  Tyler Clementi Foundation, has launched a new anti-bullying project called Day One.

#Day1 is a national anti-bullying campaign that is free, simple and effective. The campaign empowers teachers, managers, coaches and other leaders to prevent bullying before it begins by promoting a no-nonsense message on Day 1 of orientation. #Day1 consists of a Declaration and Pledge that can be downloaded from

Many anti-bullying programs are based on remediation (addressing bullying after it happens). #Day1 is about prevention.

Participation in #Day1 is an easy process. 1) Register at the site by signing up and then download the Declaration and Pledge, 2)  Read the declaration to your employees, students, teammates, etc and then ask everyone to sign the pledge (and return the pledge to #Day1), 3) within seven days tell #Day1 how it worked and how you felt participating. Watch the video above.

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New study reveals smoking cessation drug not boosting number of smokers who quit Mon, 17 Aug 2015 18:56:01 +0000

The introduction of a new prescription smoking-cessation aid, varenicline, in 2006 has had no significant impact on the rate at which Americans age 18 and older successfully quit smoking, according to a study led by researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

The findings, published online Aug. 17 in Tobacco Control, suggest that the primary effect of varenicline (marketed as Chantix) has been to displace the use of older tobacco addiction therapies, such as nicotine patches and the antidepressant, bupropion (Zyban).

Moreover, in this population analysis, researchers said varenicline’s enhanced effectiveness in helping smokers quit, compared with other cessation aides, appeared to be short-lived, lasting for three months, after which time varenicline users no longer had higher rates of success.

“We had hoped the new pharmacotherapy would help more people quit, but this is not what is happening,” said lead author Shu-Hong Zhu, PhD, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health and director of Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control at UC San Diego. “Instead, varenicline is replacing other options like the patch, without having any significant population-level impact on quitting success.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 20 percent of U.S. adults 18 years or older are cigarette smokers. If smoking continues at the current rate among U.S. youth, one in every 13 person younger than 18 is projected to die prematurely of a smoking-related illness. Globally, tobacco use is estimated to cause nearly 6 million deaths annually.

For the study, UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers analyzed two U.S. Census Bureau surveys of smokers age 18 and older, conducted in 2003 and 2010-11, before and after varenicline became commercially available.

The surveys probed smokers’ efforts to quit in the last 12 months; their use of nicotine replacement therapies (including the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge and inhaler) and prescription medications such as bupropion and varenicline. Varenicline helps reduce nicotine cravings by binding to nicotine receptors in the brain, stimulating the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.

Based on responses from more than 39,000 smokers, overall use of pharmacotherapy increased from 28.7 percent of smokers trying to quit in 2003 to 31.1 percent in 2010-11, representing a 2.4 percent increase.

This slight increase in the use of cessation aides, however, did not translate into more smokers breaking the habit. In 2003, approximately 4.5 percent of smokers reported successfully quitting for at least a year, compared with 4.7 percent in 2010-11.

“We are not saying Chantix does not help smokers quit. It does, but it won’t solve America’s tobacco epidemic unless it inspires more smokers to try to quit,” Zhu said.

Co-authors include Sharon E. Cummins, Anthony C. Gamst, Shiushing Wong, and Tyson Ikeda, all at UC San Diego.

The study was funded, in part, by the National Cancer Institute under the State and Community Tobacco Control Initiative (grant U01CA154280).

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AHF’s ‘StraightOuttaCondoms’ ad campaign packs serious health messages (VIDEO) Sat, 15 Aug 2015 19:00:51 +0000

LOS ANGELES — Timed to coincide with today’s release of the widely anticipated new film, ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is launching ‘StraightOuttaCondoms,’ a new safer sex media campaign that includes billboard and bus bench ads in Los Angeles as well as a related public service announcement promoting condom use that will play with the film in over 80 theaters in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Washington, DC.

In a sad, but cautionary footnote that many of today’s filmgoers may be too young to even be aware of, ‘Straight Outta Compton’ / N.W.A. rapper Eazy-E (Eric Lynn Wright) died from AIDS-related complications March 26, 1995 – just one year before the arrival and widespread deployment of lifesaving antiretroviral treatments (ART) to combat and treat HIV/AIDS, which were first introduced to the public during the International AIDS Society’s International AIDS Conference in Vancouver, Canada in July 1996.

Shortly before he died, Eazy-E released a statement to his fans via a Hollywood news conference shepherded by Ron Sweeney, his friend and attorney (Eazy-E himself was hospitalized in critical care in the ICU of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center). In his final remarks to fans, Eazy-E said:

“A few times, I would use a jimmy-hat, but most of the times, I did it raw … And after all these years, I knew I should’ve taken a blood test.”

“I just feel that I’ve got thousands and thousands of young fans that have to learn about what’s real when it comes to AIDS. Like the others before me, I would like to turn my own problem into something good that will reach out to all my homeboys and their kin. Because I want to save their asses before it’s too late.” Just remember: “It’s YOUR real time and YOUR real life”. ”

While the ‘StraightOuttaCondoms’ campaign plays off the film (and 1988 album) title, it underscores – and offers some solutions to – significant health disparities affecting a key demographic of the film’s target audience: African Americans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black Americans account for 44% of all people with HIV/AIDS in the United States, yet only account for 12% of the population. Latinos account for 21% of all new HIV infections nationwide, yet only represent 16% of the U.S. population. Atlanta currently ranks #3 in the nation for cities with the highest rates of new syphilis and HIV infections and the state of Georgia ranks #5 in the United States for new HIV infections. The CDC also noted (citations via Kaiser Family Foundation’s ‘Black Americans and HIV/AIDS’ fact sheet), “While the District of Columbia had fewer Blacks living with an HIV diagnosis in 2010 (10,995), it had the highest rate of Blacks living with an HIV diagnosis at the end of 2010 (4,260.3 per 100,000); a rate more than 3 times the national rate for Blacks (1,242.4).”

And in a reflection of both Eazy-E’s celebrity coupled with the stigma of an HIV/AIDS diagnosis in 1995 (which at that time was a near certain death sentence for most infected), Paula Correia, spokeswoman for Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was being cared for, said: “ON HIS DEATHBED, he (Eazy-E) received 100 telephone calls per hour. More operators had to be hired to handle the load. “We’ve never had this number of calls, even when Lucille Ball was here, Kirk Douglas or George Burns,” … “Never anything like this, ever.”

AHF’s ‘StraightOuttaCondoms’ Ad Campaign

AHF’s ‘StraightOuttaCondoms’ campaign includes billboard and bus bench placements in Los Angeles, including two key billboard locations: Crenshaw and Rodeo in South Central L.A. and Sunset and Cahuenga in the heart of Hollywood’s nightlife district. In addition, 50 bus bench ads have been placed in South and East L.A. as well as in West Hollywood. The boards and bench ads will run for one month.

As part of the campaign, AHF is also releasing a public service announcement titled ‘Real Talk.’ The PSA, which promotes condom use, features a frank discussion between a father and son as the son heads out for a night on the town. The PSA will run in over 80 movie theaters that are screening the ‘Straight Outta Compton’ film in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington, DC over the next three weeks.

For more information, please visit or

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HRC: We are mourning again for the lives of two young transgender people of color Fri, 14 Aug 2015 21:40:22 +0000

From the HRC Blog comes the sad news that once again we  are mourning for the lives of two young transgender people of color.

Thursday, Equality Michigan shared the news that Ashton O’Hara, a 25-year-old Michigan native, was found brutally murdered in the same Detroit park where Amber Monroe, a transgender woman of color, was murdered just last weekend.

His mother, Rebecca, says that Ashton, who used male pronouns, loved to dance and perform, and cared deeply about his friends and family.

Ashton’s death adds his name to the list of transgender people murdered in the United States just this year. There has been a significant increase in anti-transgender violence, at a moment when transgender visibility is on the rise. As HRC’s Laya Monarez wrote, “Even as we are seeing an increase in transgender visibility through a range of inspiring national media stories, including Caitlyn Jenner’s, the levels of violence and harassment transgender people face – particularly transgender women and transgender women of color – constitute a national crisis.” Just today, the body of Elisha Walker, a 20-year-old transgender woman of color, was found in North Carolina. She had been missing since November of 2014.

The vast majority of the victims of anti-transgender violence have been young transgender women of color, who are faced with the intersecting challenges of racism, sexism and transphobia, which too often translate into extreme poverty, and barriers to housing, employment, healthcare and support services like shelters and rape crisis centers.

According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, Black transgender people, for example, are more than eight times as likely than the general U.S. population, and more than four times as likely than the general Black U.S. population to live in extreme poverty, making less than $10,000 per year.

For more information on anti-transgender violence visit  For other resources, including definitions, research and guides, visit

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Positively Trans launches survey of transgender people living with HIV Fri, 14 Aug 2015 20:49:49 +0000

OAKLAND, Calif. – Today, Transgender Law Center launched the Positively Trans (T+) survey, a first-of-its-kind community-led needs assessment to examine the legal and policy landscape as experienced by transgender women, men, and gender non-conforming people living with HIV/AIDS across the country. The survey is open for responses in English and in Spanish.

“As transgender people living with HIV/AIDS, we are capable of forming our own network, telling our own stories, and developing our own strategies for advocacy,” said Cecilia Chung, Senior Strategist at Transgender Law Center and project lead for Positively Trans. “This survey is a groundbreaking opportunity to not only highlight our needs, but also our resilience when there are few resources available. We are ready to offer policy makers, providers and legislators our own solutions.”

Positively Trans is a response to the structural inequalities that drive the high rate of HIV/AIDS and poor health outcomes for transgender people, especially transgender women of color. The survey is a safe and anonymous place for trans and gender non-conforming people living with HIV to share their experiences with barriers, discrimination, violence, and triumphs in: health care, housing, employment, relationships, and community.

The survey was developed in partnership with the project’s nine National Advisory Board members from across the country — Arianna Lint, Channing-Celeste Wayne, Dee Dee Chamblee, Milan Sherry, Octavia Lewis, Ruby Corado, Tela Love, Teo Drake, and Tiommi J. Luckett — the majority of whom are trans women of color living with HIV.

“This survey is for us and will not be done without us,” said T+ National Advisory Board member Tiommi P. Luckett of Arkansas. “Every trans woman and man living with HIV should fill out this survey because we need people to know that we’re here, and that we can develop our own solutions and strategies to take care of ourselves.”

Positively Trans was made possible with the support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The survey’s findings, which will be released in October, will ultimately inform policy and program recommendations, prioritization of needs, strategic planning and advocacy efforts.

Take the survey, available in English and Spanish, at:

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Defense lawyers delay Philadelphia gay bashing trial Fri, 14 Aug 2015 15:47:21 +0000

Philip R. Williams (left), Kathryn G. Knott (middle) and Kevin J. Harrigan (right)

The case in which three people are accused of attacking two gay men in Philadelphia has been delayed as lawyers for the three suspects have asked for a  continuance  as they work out the terms of a plea agreement with the prosecution.

The trio — Kathryn Knott, 24, of Southampton, Pennsylvania, who is the daughter of Chalfont Borough Police Chief Karl Knott; Kevin Harrigan, 26, of Southampton; and Phillip Williams, 24, of Warminster, Pennsylvania, will return to court  Sept. 17, to face charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and conspiracy, reports the Advocate.

Zachary Hess and Andrew Haught were walking in downtown Philadelphia in September 2014 when they were attacked. The three suspects held down the two men and beat them while making disparaging comments about their sexual orientation and stealing one victim’s bag. Both victims were hospitalized, one beaten so badly he had his jaw wired shut and required facial surgery.

Reports say the District Attorney’s office has offered all three alleged assailants plea deals but has so far refused to make the details public. It is unknown whether the agreements would allow the three to avoid prison time and walk free.


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Chris Christie laughs off his veto of trans bill Thu, 13 Aug 2015 20:59:49 +0000

Chris Christie

Today, during an interview with conservative radio host Michael Medved, Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laughed about his recent veto of legislation that would have streamlined the process in his state for transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates. On the show, Christie defended the veto by saying, “certain things go beyond the pale.”
The Washington Blade reported Christie as saying, “Listen, for people who do not have a sex-change operation, all the bill required was somebody that who would seek a doctor’s treatment and that that doctor would verify they felt like the opposite gender.”

“I have to tell the truth, Michael, there are certain things that just go beyond the pale, and that’s not what I wanted the law to be in New Jersey,” Christie added. “It doesn’t make any sense to me, and that’s why I vetoed it again, and if they send it to me again, I will veto it again.”

When Medved responded with a remark about being “dangerously conservative,” Christie could be heard on the other line chuckling.

This week marks the second time in two years that Gov. Christie has vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for transgender residents to obtain an appropriate birth certificate reflecting their identity. The bill he vetoed (S1195) would have allowed state agencies to change a birth certificate as long as proof was provided that the individual was undergoing gender transition. Currently, transgender New Jerseyans can only obtain an updated birth certificate if they have undergone gender reassignment surgery, which is not always necessary or safe and can be cost-prohibitive for low-income people. This year, states like Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Maryland have updated their laws to remove these barriers for transgender people. Nationally, only 1 in 5 transgender people (21%) have been able to update all their identification documents and records, including birth certificates, to reflect their appropriate name and gender.
“It was bad enough that Governor Christie vetoed this bill. Now he has added insult to injury by demeaning the entire transgender community,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “What’s really beyond the pale is that a sitting governor, much less a candidate for the presidency, would use such offensive and harmful rhetoric in 2015. Chris Christie should immediately apologize.”
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Equality Florida Institute heads back to court on behalf of LGBT families Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:44:59 +0000

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Just days ago, Cathy Pareto and Karla Arguello—the first same-sex  couple to be married in Florida—celebrated the birth of their twin son and daughter. But the couple’s joy was soon mixed with fear and frustration when the hospital denied Cathy the right to add her name to the children’s birth certificates.

Almost a year since Florida’s marriage ban was declared unconstitutional, the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics is still refusing to allow hospitals to list both same-sex parents on their baby’s birth certificate.

Today, Cathy and Karla, who were lead plaintiffs in Florida’s marriage lawsuit, are joining two other married same-sex couples in a federal lawsuit challenging Florida’s refusal to issue them accurate birth certificates listing both spouses as parents of their children. Equality Florida, the largest organization representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Floridians, is also a plaintiff in the case.

“Attorney General Pam Bondi could have avoided yet another costly lawsuit by directing all state agencies to simply comply with the law. Instead she turned her back on repeated requests to take action,” said Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida. “Birth certificates are the first official document that represent a new born baby’s family. Having an inaccurate birth certificate hinders parents’ ability to take care of their child and access important legal benefits and protections. Denying our families this is not only spiteful and harmful, it is illegal.”

The other couples in the lawsuit are Debbie and Kari Chin of St. Petersburg and Yadira Arenas and Alma Vezquez of Winter Haven. The plaintiffs are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Florida attorneys Mary Meeks and Elizabeth Schwartz.

“The State of Florida is violating the law every day that it denies accurate birth certificates to children born to married same-sex couples,” said Shannon Minter, NCLR’s Legal Director. “After months of urging the Bureau of Vital Statistics to comply with the law, we are asking the court to put an end to the harms the Bureau is causing. The children in these families deserve to be protected, and the State of Florida’s continuing disregard for their well-being is unconscionable.”

Not having an accurate birth certificate denies children with same-sex parents the dignity, security, support, and protections available upon birth to children of married different-sex parents. It also prevents parents from taking care of their children’s everyday needs like obtaining healthcare, making medical decisions, signing up for daycare, and enrolling in government programs and benefits.

The lawsuit asks the court to order the Department of Health and the Bureau of Vital Statistics to stop violating the law by refusing to issue birth certificates that list both parents when a child is born to a married same-sex couples, just as the State of Florida does for children born to married different-sex spouses.

In August of last year, Judge Robert L. Hinkle issued a decision striking down Florida’s marriage ban and ordering state officials, including Florida’s Surgeon General, who oversees the Florida Department of Health and the Bureau of Vital Statistics, to treat married same-sex couples and their children equally in all respects. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a nationwide ruling, confirming that state marriage bans are unconstitutional.

Cathy and Karla have been together for 15 years and were married in Florida in January 2015 after they won their case challenging the state’s ban on marriage equality. Cathy owns and operates a financial planning firm, while Karla is a stay-at-home mother to their children, which, in addition to the newborn twins, includes a young son.

“There isn’t a moment that goes by that I’m not thinking of the harm my children—my newborns—may face because we aren’t being treated like other families,” said Cathy. “All I want to do is love, protect, and provide the best opportunities for our children. The state’s refusal to recognize that they have two parents and to list both of us on the birth certificates is demeaning and hurtful. My children have two parents, and we should both be listed on their birth certificates.”

Debbie and Kari have been together for 15 years and were married in Boston in 2013. Kari is a social worker with a local school district, while Debbie, a former elementary school teacher, is a stay-at-home mother to their two children. When Kari gave birth to their second child, a son, in February, they were told that Debbie could not be listed on his birth certificate.

“I was shocked to realize that although we are legally married, we do not have an equal marriage in Florida yet,” Debbie said. “How can our son, who we planned for and loved even before he was born, have only one parent on his birth certificate? What would happen to him in an emergency, or if something happened to my wife, and I am not recognized as his mother?”

Yadira and Alma have been together for three years and were married in New York in 2013. Alma is a medical assistant in a pediatric office and Yadira is a pharmacy technician. When Alma gave birth to their first child, a daughter, in March, they were not allowed to put Yadira on the birth certificate as a parent, and Alma was told that she had to be listed as “single” on the form.

“I always dreamed of the moment when I would become a mother with my spouse,” said Yadira. “Instead of being congratulated, I was told that I had to lie and say I wasn’t married because they wouldn’t recognize my wife.”

Florida law requires the Office of Vital Statistics to list a birth mother’s spouse on the child’s birth certificate. Now that both a federal district court judge and the U.S. Supreme Court have ruled that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry and to have their marriages treated equally, the State of Florida must provide same-sex spouses with the same rights given to different-sex spouses, including the right to an accurate birth certificate listing both spouses as parents. Despite repeated requests, the Florida Office of Vital Statistics has refused to recognize same-sex spouses on birth certificates, even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that all states must fully recognize all marriages between same-sex spouses.

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Kentucky county clerk violates federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:30:51 +0000

Despite a ruling from a federal judge that requires a Kentucky county clerk to process marriage licenses for all couples, this morning Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis violated that order by refusing to process a same-sex marriage license.

Zack Ford writes on Think Progress Davis refused to have her name on same-sex couples’ marriage licenses because of her religious beliefs and so decided her office would not process licenses for any couples. According to District Judge David L. Bunning, Davis’ job of authorizing valid marriage licenses does not violate her religious liberty nor her freedom of speech. “Our form of government will not survive unless we, as a society, agree to respect the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions, regardless of our personal opinions,” he writes. “Davis is certainly free to disagree with the Court’s opinion, as many Americans likely do, but that does not excuse her from complying with it. To hold otherwise would set a dangerous precedent.”

Davis has appealed the decision and asked for a stay of the injunction, but she has not yet successfully obtained a stay. Thus, her refusal to issue a license Thursday morning was in clear violation of Bunning’s order. See Zack Ford’s full report here.

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International Transgender Conference anticipates 1,000 participants Thu, 13 Aug 2015 16:31:55 +0000
SEATTLE, Wa. — Gender Odyssey, an international conference focused on the needs and interests of transgender and gender-nonconforming (GNC) people, will be held in Seattle, WA Aug. 19 – 23. The conference is expecting approximately 1,000  diverse set of participants, from practitioners to activists to families to trans and GNC individuals of all ages. This one-of-a-kind annual gathering attracts people from all over the world for a weekend of skills building, sharing of best practices and community connection and is packed with thought-provoking workshops, discussion groups, social events and entertainment.
The opening days of the conference, Wed/Thu Aug. 19-20, is for professionals in various fields who focus on working with adult trans individuals and Thursday will be geared toward those who work with youth. From Thursday Aug. 20 – Saturday Aug. 23 there is general registration.
“We are thrilled at the breadth and diversity of the program, presenters and participants,” said Aidan Key, the director of Gender Diversity, an organization that provides education to teachers, staff, counselors, and administrators regarding gender-inclusive schools grades K-12 and the founder and director of the Gender Odyssey and Gender Odyssey Family conferences.  “We have see a virtual explosion in visibility of transgender people and issues, from Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out to Jazz’s new reality show as an out trans teenager,” continued Key. “This conference offers anyone who is part of trans/GNC communities, allies and professional the opportunity to learn, network and create community as we quickly move forward in a culture that is beginning to better understand our lives and is hearing our stories more and more,” concluded Key.
Workshops vary in content from the personal (building community, raising a child who is transgender or GNC, dealing with medical, school and other challenges) to those more focused on advocacy related to transgender rights, from identification to cultural competency in healthcare).  For professionals there are two full day of educational, peer-to-peer discussion related to health and medical care of transgender and GNC individuals, with many workshops focusing on the growing number of trans children and teens.
For a full schedule of events see here:
Confirmed Keynote Speakers for 2015
Kate Bornstein, internationally known author, performance artist, playwright, and public speaker who has written several award-winning books in the field of Women and Gender Studies, including Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us, and My Gender Workbook. Her 2006 book, Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws, has become an underground bestseller, propelling Kate into an international position of advocacy for marginalized youth.
Andrea Jenkins, an award-winning poet and writer. Most recently she was awarded a Bush fellowship and a fellowship in the Cultural Community Leadership Institute at Intermedia Arts, sponsored by the Bush Foundation, and named a fellow in the Many Voices Fellowship at the Playwrights Center. Last year, she won the Verve Grant for Spoken Artist at Intermedia Arts and the Naked Stages Grant for Emerging Performance Artist at Pillsbury House Theatre. Andrea has earned degrees in community economic development, human services/interpersonal communications, and creative writing.
Also speaking at the conference is parent and advocate Debi Jackson, whose is powerful video entitled “That’s Good Enough” went viral and has inspired scores of trans activists and parents of transgender children.
Other presenters include Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Rights; Johanna Olson, MD, is the medical director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; Susan P. Landon, MA, LMFT, a member of the Los Angeles Gender Center with 25 years of experience counseling children and their families; Aydin Kennedy, MSW, ACSW; the coordinator of the Transgender Health Program at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, a medical and mental health program serving transgender individuals; Daniel Metzger, MD, is a pediatric endocrinologist at British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada; Dr. Michele Angello, who  offers individual, couples, group, and family therapy, as well as corporate education and training on a variety of issues concerning sexuality and an adjunct professor at Widener University and has developed the first graduate course in the U.S. that focuses on clinical issues in transgender communities; M. Dru Levasseur, the Transgender Rights Project Director for Lambda Legal; Nico Quintana is the policy director at Basic Rights Oregon and many others.
For information about the professional conference, see here:
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Kristin Beck slams Huckabee with tweet: ‘I am twice the man that you could ever be’ Wed, 12 Aug 2015 23:24:59 +0000

Mike Huckabee is well-known for his transphobic remarks. In last week’s Republican debate Huckabee said that the military doesn’t need to accept transgender people and that the military is not up for some “social experiment.”

On hearing Huckabee’s comments, transgender congressional candidate and former Navy Seal Kristin Beck was quick to respond with a tweet at Huckabee claiming that she’s “twice the man that he’ll ever be.”

Refering to Huckabee, Beck, a 20-year-veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star said, “He’s taking his religion and his personal beliefs and disenfranchising a large portion of the population. And I just think as a leader, you need to put the people ahead of your own feelings sometimes. Governor Huckabee has no idea what it means to sacrifice. It’s service and sacrifice over your own person. Others above self—always—and he does not understand that.”

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NYPD arrest man in connection with hate crime attack against West Point gay couple Wed, 12 Aug 2015 18:47:03 +0000

Larry and Daniel Lennox-Choate | Photo: Facebook

A man who allegedly attacked the first gay couple to be married at West Point has been arrested by police in New York.

According to the Advocate, Thomas Clabough, 57, of Queens was to face a judge Wednesday, on charges of assault and attempted assault as a hate crime.

Aug. 2 Clabough entered a deli on Prince Street in lower Manhattan to buy a beer, and saw Daniel and Larry Lennox-Choate and allegedly began yelling anti-gay slurs at the couple and then punched Daniel in the face.

Larry took up the story on his Facebook page, “It’s hard to believe that in 2015 we would have to deal with anti-gay hate crimes in soho of all places but that’s what happened today. First off- we’re ok. Aside from one fat lip and a sore punching arm, we are fine. The guy who screamed anti-gay obscenities at us in a bodega before sucker-punching Danny? He left covered in his own blood with his tail between his legs after I handled the situation and tossed him in the street like the coward loser he is. The hate crimes division of the NYPD is on the case and we have full faith a positive outcome will follow. We refuse to be victims and are thankful we can defend ourselves, but are saddened by the fact that idiots like this guy might not pick two guys who went through Plebe Boxing next time.”



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GOP debate and the Kasich Moment Wed, 12 Aug 2015 17:58:36 +0000

John Kasich

During the Fox News telecast of the first GOP Presidential candidates’ debate, I gasped as Ohio Governor John Kasich, a former U.S. Congressman and close political ally of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, admitted he had attended a same-sex marriage.

Kasich, alone among his fellow candidates, actually admitted he didn’t hate LGBT people or the new tradition of same-sex marriage. This Kasich “Gay May Be Okay” moment earned the youthful looking governor some face time on various news programs and print space in the blogosphere repeating his GOP heresy for the world to evidence. He spoke with clarity and sounded like the Political Wise Man of the GOP pack.

Imagine for a moment the ten GOP candidates and their range of view (intentionally singular) on same-sex marriage. Kasich gives it a nod of Buckeye acceptance. Dr. Ben Carson, when once asked about same-sex marriage, said bestiality was not a relationship with which he was comfortable.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is telling people who will listen to him their states do not have to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing marriage equality across the nation.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was declared not sufficiently conservative when he hired some gay campaign staffers. Religious conservatives shuddered at the thought Bush, the once perceived frontrunner for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination, might be soft on gays.

Former U.S. Senator Rick “Google Problem” Santorum was not among the ten GOP presidential candidates in the televised debate from Cleveland. Mr. Santorum is not LGBT friendly. He once compared gay relationships as akin to “man on dog” relationships. Ergo, Santorum’s Google Problem. Internet permanency and the Urban Dictionary had a way of shutting Santorum’s hate speech and forever attaching something distasteful to the esteemed name Santorum.

Also missing from Fox TV cameras was former Texas Governor Rick Perry. He believes homosexuality is a sickness. An animal science graduate of Texas A&M University, Perry has a long history of opposing everything and everybody gay.  He is the type to hold on to long discredited views on psychology, LGBT people and animal science.

The Donald made offensive statements about women and had to defend himself on Fox. He further offended by suggesting questioner Megyn Kelly was menstruating while asking him tough questions. Still Trump is the GOP leader for 2016. Senator Rand Paul, author of “Government Bullies,” appeared sedated during the debate. Rumor has it he may soon drop out if he does not catch political fire soon.

Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio earned praise for mentioning his humble upbringing in Miami. Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Sarah Palin Tea Party acolyte, seemed oddly lost in the wake of calling his Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar. Perhaps Cruz was in a regretful frame of mind. A few days later, he went on the attack against gays, which was a return to normal for him.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, I felt, had a good night during the debate. I feel Christie, like Obama and Bill Clinton, can evolve on gay issues and same-sex marriage. The thing I find refreshing about Christie, and I am serious about this, is that if you swear at him, he will swear back at you.

I love that news clip of Christie telling a heckler to “Sit down and shut up.” If that is not the sign of a healthy political mind, it is the sign of a healthy New Jersey political mind. It is not a statement from the scholarly minds of a Bill Bradley or a Tom Keane political mind, but it is a different era and Chris Christie is a man with a mouth and a New Jersey temper. He reminds me of a late uncle from Sayreville, New Jersey.

Therefore, the gay gasp moment of the first GOP presidential debate of 2016 was the Kasich Gay May Be Okay Moment. The audience applauded Kasich. It is good news the other nine Republicans heard the applause.

It is also good news Christie did not shout for the audience to shut up. This maybe further indication Christie can evolve on gay issues, as Kasich seems to be doing.  If only The Donald would evolve on women.

The Kasich Moment represents small progress for the GOP. In the immediate aftermath of the debate, it did not propel Kasich to frontrunner status. It did help him politically, though. It could propel him to VP status on the 2016 GOP presidential ticket. If the presidential candidate is Bush, the GOP may be coming in from too many years in the dark wilderness on LGBT issues.

Human Rights Advocate Jim Patterson is a writer, speaker, and lifelong diplomat for dignity for all people. In a remarkable life spanning the civil rights movement to today’s human rights struggles, he stands as a voice for the voiceless. A prolific writer, he documents history’s wrongs and the struggle for dignity to provide a roadmap to a more humane future. Learn more at

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KKK fliers call for ‘gay bashing’ and banning ‘non-white immigration’ in Louisiana Tue, 11 Aug 2015 21:38:25 +0000

Fliers distributed by the Ku Klux Klan in a recruitment drive in Louisiana contain anti-gay and racist hate speech.

“Stop Aids: Support Gay Bashing,” one flier distributed in Mandeville said. “Homosexual men and their sexual acts are disgusting and inhuman.” The flier also called to ban “non-white immigration,” and to “deport mud people,” reports Raw Story.

“I’m extremely hurt by it,” one woman told WWL-TV. “As a member of the gay community… I think it shows the ignorance of society still.”

Just two years ago, Newton County Sheriff’s Office investigated similar fliers that were distributed in Covington, the report continued. But it appeared that the anti-gay language had been added for the latest recruitment drive.

The FBI said that it was also monitoring the situation.


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Gov. Chris Christie vetoes another bill for transgender New Jerseyans Tue, 11 Aug 2015 17:03:21 +0000

Chris Christie

For the second time in two years, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for transgender residents to obtain an appropriate birth certificate reflecting their identity. The bill Christie vetoed (S1195) would have allowed state agencies to change a birth certificate as long as proof was provided that the individual was undergoing gender transition. Currently, transgender New Jerseyans can only obtain an updated birth certificate if they have undergone gender reassignment surgery, which is not always necessary or safe, and can be cost-prohibitive for low-income people.

“Birth certificates are a basic form of identification that speak to our core identity and common humanity, and it is appalling that Chris Christie has again vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for transgender people to obtain birth certificates that reflect who they are,” said Alison Gill, HRC Senior Legislative Counsel. “This bill would have ensured that transgender people born in New Jersey are able to change their birth certificates to reflect their correct name and gender without unnecessarily expensive and invasive obstacles. Inaccuracies present myriad challenges for transgender people in their daily lives, creating barriers to things as fundamentally important as applying for a job or voting. Chris Christie’s shameful decision puts the well-being of transgender New Jerseyans at risk for no good reason.”

Gov. Christie first vetoed legislation to allow transgender people to correct their birth certificates last year. In issuing his veto yesterday, Christie said the “potential to create legal uncertainties” outweighed the benefits of the bill for transgender New Jerseyans. This year states including Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Maryland have updated their laws to remove these barriers for transgender people. Nationally, only 1 in 5 transgender people (21%) have been able to update all their identification documents and records, including birth certificates, to reflect their appropriate name and gender.

In June, Gov. Christie vetoed the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Act, bipartisan legislation that would have modernized New Jersey law to give legal parental rights of a child carried by a gestational surrogate to the intended parent. Gestational surrogacy is especially important to members of the LGBT community because it enables couples to establish parental rights and create a family while allowing such couples to have a genetic relation to their children.

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Pat Robertson: Gay and gay-accepting Christians are going to hell Mon, 10 Aug 2015 19:53:42 +0000

Pat Robertson spouted more extreme anti-gay rhetoric today as he railed against a church with a gay pastor, saying that gay Christians and Christians who support gay rights are defying the Bible.

Speaking on The 700 Club, Robertson said, “To have a church saying [homosexuality] is not a sin, it’s okay, they’re leading people down the road to perdition,” he told a viewer who had recently attended an inclusive church. “If I were you, I would stay far away from them.”

Watch the video from Right Wing Watch above.

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APA adopts guidelines for working with transgender, gender nonconforming people Mon, 10 Aug 2015 01:45:45 +0000

TORONTO – Psychologists who work with transgender or gender nonconforming people should seek to provide acceptance, support and understanding without making assumptions about their clients’ gender identities or gender expressions, according to practice guidelines adopted during the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention.

The “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People” were adopted by APA’s Council of Representatives at its meeting Aug. 5. They were drafted by an APA task force in the wake of an APA survey in 2009 that found less than 30 percent of psychologist and graduate student respondents were familiar with the issues that transgender and gender nonconforming people face.

“These guidelines are especially timely in light of the media coverage of recent completed suicides by transgender teens and murders across the country of transgender people, especially people of color. In contrast, we have also seen coverage of high-profile transitions, including Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox of ‘Orange is the New Black,’” said lore m. dickey, PhD, task force co-chair. “While these guidelines are aimed at psychologists who provide care, conduct research or engage in education or training focused on transgender and gender nonconforming people, we believe they will also be useful to any psychologist or educator.”

The document lays out 16 guidelines aimed at helping professionals better understand the lifespan development, stigma, discrimination and barriers to care faced by this population, as well as the state of research surrounding transgender and gender nonconforming people.

“We hope that these guidelines provide useful information that will enable psychologists to provide competent, sensitive and well-informed care and research,” said Anneliese A. Singh, PhD, the task force’s other co-chair. “Additionally, they are written in everyday language so they may be helpful to virtually anyone seeking a deeper understanding of transgender and gender nonconforming people. It is critically important that psychologists are informed about how to not only work with transgender people across the lifespan, but also understand that transgender people have existed in multiple cultures and countries around the world for hundreds of years.”

One of the guidelines explains that the concept of gender goes beyond male and female, and that people may experience a range of gender identities that don’t align with their sex assigned at birth. Another guideline explains that gender identity and sexual orientation are “distinct but interrelated constructs.”

“For most people, gender identity develops earlier than sexual orientation,” it says. “Gender identity is often established in young toddlerhood, in comparison to awareness of sexual orientation, which often emerges in early adolescence. … Just as some people experience their sexual orientation as being fluid or variable, some people also experience their gender identity as fluid.”

Other guidelines address the developmental needs of gender-questioning youth and encourage psychologists to work with other health care providers to coordinate the care of transgender and gender nonconforming clients.

APA practice guidelines are aspirational; in other words, they set ideals to which APA encourages psychologists to aspire. The new guidelines encourage psychologists to use them in tandem with APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and with treatment guidelines, such as those set forth by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care and the Endocrine Society.

Members of the APA Task Force on Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People were:

lore m. dickey, PhD, Louisiana Tech University, co-chair
Anneliese A. Singh, PhD, University of Georgia, co-chair
Walter O. Bockting, PhD, Columbia University
Sand Chang, PhD, independent practitioner
Kelly Ducheny, PsyD, Howard Brown Health Center
Laura Edwards-Leeper, PhD, Pacific University
Randall D. Ehrbar, PsyD, Whitman-Walker Health
Max Fuentes Fuhrmann, PhD, independent practice
Michael L. Hendricks, PhD, Washington Psychological Health Center, P.C.
Ellen Magalhaes, PhD, Nova Southeastern University and Alliant International University

A copy of the guidelines can be found at

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ENDA would end Jesse Helms’ legacy Sun, 09 Aug 2015 01:45:00 +0000

Jesse Helms

Late GOP U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, popularly known as “Senator No” because he opposed federal spending except for his precious tobacco program for North Carolina growers and manufacturers, was fearless when it came to demagoguing and humiliating the LGBT community over matters like marriage equality, now settled by GOP Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee to the court.

In 2015, it is time for Congress to end the reign of workplace bigotry for LGBT employees Helms nurtured during his five senate terms, 1973-2003, and end his legacy of legislative hate of the LGBT community. Unlike many LGBT activists, I know firsthand how Helms hated gay and lesbian workers.

On July 19, 1994, Helms, enraged over my “promoting the gay agenda” as a Foreign Service Officer with the government, took to the Senate floor and CSPAN cameras to condemn me for my effort to make the federal workplace a bit more fair for LGBT workers, long subjected to management hostility, discrimination, physical abuse, unfair terminations, blackmail, and poor working conditions that bordered on slavery.

Helms was a passionate hater of his fellow man and the U.S. Congress is no place for someone with a hate agenda. On the July date, Helms tried to have me fired for “recruiting homosexuals” for jobs he wanted only straights to have. The Senate Chaplain, in his opening prayer, said as much.

“Almighty God,” Rev. Richard Halverson preached, “We need you when tempers rise, emotions boil, frustration enervates, and suppressed anger explodes.” I do not believe Jesse Helms was listening that day as he later exploded on me with hatred like I had never experienced. He called me a “pervert” with “twisted values.” Those words, which bother me still, are preserved forever in the Congressional Record.

Though I was diagnosed with depression, I vowed to get mad, get over it, and get even by a lifetime of activism dedicated to workplace equality for LGBT personnel. For me, that means Congressional passage of the Employment Non-discrimination Act that Helms despised and vowed over twenty years ago would never pass Congress. ENDA has not passed. Helms did pass on July 4, 2008. His hateful legacy of workplace discrimination against LGBT workers remains a reality but its days are numbered.

With the U.S. Supreme Court decision that state bans of same-sex marriage are not legal, an important step toward full LGBT equality is nearer. It is time that families be families without regard to sexuality of the family members. Likewise, it is time for all workers to be treated fairly so they can support their families.

It is time for Congress to make ENDA the law of the land and end the economic suffering discriminatory employers have heaped on their LGBT workers for decades. I suffered economically from the discrimination Helms heaped on me from the U.S. Senate in 1994. Other senators are doing the same to other LGBT workers in Washington and across the country by delaying passage of ENDA.

Helms never met a gay or lesbian he liked, especially me. As a government economist and diplomat, I managed a program of work to help fellow gays and lesbians effectively compete for positions historically denied them, not because of their skills but because of their sexuality. It was not right in 1994 and it is not right in 2015.

My work was “the right side of personnel management,” “the right side of a productive government workplace,” and “the right side of economic history,” to paraphrase an overused phrase. My work was also on “the wrong side of Jesse Helms.” I consider that a great honor.

There is much injustice in the world and it can take years to address it effectively, even with laws to end it. It ought to take only a short time for Congress to pass ENDA, as it would be aid to the economy to end legalized discrimination and the pain, suffering, and heavy social costs it brings to our country.

Congress should end discrimination against LGBT workers in 2015. The time for tactical senate delays to this just law by the likes of Jesse Helms are over. It is time for dignity in the workplace. It is time for ENDA.

Human Rights Advocate Jim Patterson is a writer, speaker, and lifelong diplomat for dignity for all people. In a remarkable life spanning the civil rights movement to today’s human rights struggles, he stands as a voice for the voiceless. A prolific writer, he documents history’s wrongs and the struggle for dignity to provide a roadmap to a more humane future. Learn more at

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Benham brothers call marriage equality ‘The worst thing that could have ever happened to our nation’ Sat, 08 Aug 2015 14:00:41 +0000

The Benham brothers

David and Jason Benham joined former Alaska GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller on his radio program last week to publicize their new book, “Whatever the Cost,” and came up with some extraordinary statements.

Right Wing Watch reported that Jason Benham traced marriage equality back to the end of government-sponsored prayer in public schools, which he said is the reason “sex has moved” to become “the theme of culture.” 

Marriage equality, he said, is “the worst thing that could have ever happened to our nation” but “the best thing that could have ever happened to the church,” because now Christians will “get a chance to experience real persecution” which will “purify” the church by separating “the wheat from the chaff.”

“I really believe that if we are going to embrace the purification process we have to welcome the fire that purifies,” he said. “And a Supreme Court decision like this is the very thing that God’s going to use to turn his church back to him.”

Not wanting to be left out David Benham warned that “all of the things that are going on in our country in the name of equality and love and tolerance,” such as marriage equality, are really “just a disguise for a bully agenda that is going to turn its guns blazing towards religious liberty in this country.”
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A troubling night for LGBT equality at GOP debates Fri, 07 Aug 2015 18:37:06 +0000

Predictably, the first Republican presidential primary debate drew little encouragement for the LGBT community. Most of the attention on LGBT issues was negative.

According to most reports Donald Trump came out on top in the debate, gaining most of the attention, most notably when he insulted Rosie O’Donnell. Toward the beginning of the debate, moderator Megyn Kelly asked Trump about his abysmal record on women. “You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, slobs, disgusting animals,” she said. While she tried to bring up the other horrific statements he’s made about and to women, he interrupted her to say, “Only Rosie O’Donnell.”
O’Donnell responded on Twitter, simply Tweeting, “try explaining that 2 ur kids.”

During the debate, Mike Huckabee defended the existing ban on transgender military service, and Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, and Bobby Jindal said that as president they would put LGBT people at risk for discrimination by using their executive authority on day 1 to pass executive orders enabling taxpayer-funded discrimination.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich was applauded after saying that while he remains opposed to marriage equality, he would respect the Supreme Court’s recent ruling — the only candidate at the debates to say he would accept the Obergefell decision.

“Tonight’s comments from Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal — pledging to sign anti-LGBT executive orders on day one in the White House — sent an exceptionally troubling message to millions of LGBT Americans,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “And by defending the ban on transgender military service in offensive terms, Mike Huckabee proved once again that he’s campaigning on hate. Countless LGBT families across Ohio and the nation want to know that our next president will defend their Constitutional rights and fight for full federal equality. But sadly, tonight’s debate left far more questions than answers, and the answers we did get were deeply disappointing.”

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Jim Obergefell asks candidates to defend marriages of thousands of same-sex couples across Ohio and the nation (VIDEO) Thu, 06 Aug 2015 21:48:02 +0000

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released a video of Jim Obergefell, who’s lived in Ohio for nearly five decades, asking candidates to defend his marriage and those of countless same-sex couples across the country, in advance of tonight’s debate in Cleveland.

Obergefell was the named plaintiff in the Supreme Court case, Obergefell v. Hodges, that led to nationwide marriage equality in June. When the Windsor decision came out in June of 2013, Obergefell and his partner of 20 years, John Arthur, decided to get married.  But Arthur, who suffered from ALS, was in hospice care and confined to a hospital bed, so the pair was forced to take a medically-equipped plane to Maryland–where same-sex marriage was legal–to do so.

As same-sex marriages were not recognized in Ohio, Obergefell filed a case in July 2013, seeking recognition of their Maryland marriage on Arthur’s death certificate.

“When I look at my wedding ring, I see the honesty, trust and love I shared with my husband. And looking ahead, I need to know: do the presidential candidates see the same thing, or do they see an opportunity to drive us apart?” said Obergefell. “What will my marriage mean in 2016 and beyond if a candidate who opposes marriage equality wins the White House?”

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HRC: Congress must restore full protections of Voting Rights Act Thu, 06 Aug 2015 18:04:22 +0000

WASHINGTON – Today, on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – a landmark piece of legislation that prohibits racial discrimination in voting –  the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) called on Congress to restore the full protections of this crucial legislation.

“The right to vote is a bedrock principle of our democracy, but our history shows us that federal action to guarantee access to the polls is often needed. For nearly five decades, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 helped accomplish that goal, making our nation more just and more equal in the process,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “But more than two years after the Supreme Court significantly undermined one of our nation’s most important and successful civil rights statutes, Congress has yet to restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act. Congress should act now.”

In June 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, a  law that is designed to ensure minority voters across the country are able to participate equally in the electoral process by prohibiting discriminatory voting practices and removing barriers to voting.   In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court held that the formula for deciding which states and localities were required to pre-approve changes in voting laws and practices was unconstitutional, which severely weakened the federal government’s oversight of discriminatory voting practices.

Fortunately, although the Court’s decision invalidated the pre-approval formula, it did not bar Congress from creating a new formula. Despite significant evidence that voting discrimination is still persistent and pervasive, Congress has not acted, leaving millions of Americans more vulnerable to voting discrimination than any time since the Voting Rights Act was passed fifty years ago.

In the LGBT community, LGBT people of color, LGBT youth, and transgender Americans are the most affected by a weakened voting rights law.

In June, HRC proudly endorsed the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill that will help ensure that voting rights for all Americans are fully protected.  HRC will continue to work with the civil rights community to restore the full protections of this crucial civil rights law.

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IBM, Oracle, Orbitz, and Symantec join other corporations in announcing support for federal LGBT non-discrimination legislation Thu, 06 Aug 2015 18:00:24 +0000

WASHINGTONFour new major American companies have become the latest to endorse the Equality Act, federal legislation that would establish full, federal equality for all LGBT Americans.  In doing so, these leading companies – IBM, Oracle, Orbitz, and Symantec – made clear that they  believe all LGBT Americans should have the protections from discrimination in federal law that they deserve.

They join American Airlines, Apple, The Dow Chemical Company, Facebook, General Mills, Google, Levi Strauss & Co., Microsoft, and Nike as part of a national business coalition supporting comprehensive, federal LGBT non-discrimination protections.

Additionally, Hewlett-Packard in Fortune recently announced its support for the Equality Act.

STATEMENT BY IBM: “IBM’s workplace culture is built on the principles of non-discrimination and equal opportunity for all. We established a corporate policy on equal opportunity more than a decade before the Civil Rights Act. We championed an industry-leading policy of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation over 30 years ago, and expanded it in 2002 to cover gender identity and expression. IBM is proud to support the Equality Act and maintains our steadfast support for all employees to experience equality in the workplace.”

STATEMENT BY ORBITZ: “At Orbitz we’ve been advocates of equality and inclusion since our founding in 2001. Our support for the Equality Act is consistent with our other actions, such as signing the amicus brief calling on the Supreme Court to find gay marriage bans unconstitutional.”

STATEMENT BY SYMANTEC: “At Symantec, we are proud to support full and equal rights for the LGBT community. We believe having a diversity of perspectives ensures we make better business decisions and the products and services we offer meet the needs of the broad spectrum of people we serve worldwide, which is why we couldn’t be more proud to support the expansion of legal protections.  We unequivocally support the Equality Act – for the future of our business and society.”

All of these major companies scored a perfect 100 on HRC’s annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a nationally-recognized benchmark of LGBT inclusion in the workplace, and were recognized on HRC’s list of Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality in 2015.

“Momentum for the Equality Act continues to grow as the American business community stands up for diversity, inclusion and equality — principles critical to the success of any company,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We are tremendously grateful to these corporate leaders for their support of the Equality Act and the basic principle that all Americans should be able to live their lives free of discrimination. A growing number of companies agree — equality is good for business and the time for full federal equality is now.”

Earlier this year, more than 120 prominent leaders in the tech industry called on legislatures across the nation to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to their civil rights laws, and to explicitly forbid discrimination or denial of services to anyone.

Last week, Ted Olson and David Boies, the bipartisan legal team that represented the plaintiffs in the Hollingsworth v. Perry case that challenged California’s Proposition 8 and was ultimately heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, came out in support of a comprehensive federal LGBT non-discrimination law.

The results of a new Democracy Corps survey from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research released last week indicates that support for non-discrimination legislation unites the country. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of likely Republican voters support protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination, as do 90 percent of Democrats. Similarly, this legislation draws impressive majorities of support among college (84 percent) and non-college voters (73 percent), younger (85 percent) and older voters (75 percent), as well as observant Christians (70 percent).

In March, polling conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) revealed that nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans (63 percent) have faced discrimination in their lives, with LGBT people reporting workplace discrimination as the most frequently experienced form of discrimination.

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Houston Equal Rights Ordinance to be voted on November ballot Thu, 06 Aug 2015 00:16:04 +0000

The mayor and City Council of Houston

HOUSTON – The Houston City Council continued to support the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) today, rejecting a move to repeal the nondiscrimination protections and instead sending it to the ballot for a vote this Nov. 3.

Reacting to the news,  the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Equality Texas, Texas Freedom Network, Freedom for All Americans, and the Human Rights Campaign issued the following statement:

“The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance reflects the core Houstonian values – that no one should face discrimination because of their age or race, their status as a military veteran, or their sexual orientation or gender identity. The City Council voted on this ordinance last year, and it enjoyed enormous support from elected officials, businesses big and small, civil rights groups, and a diversity of faith leaders. Over the coming months, we intend to send a clear message that voters in Houston will reject any and all attempts to strip these needed protections away from their friends and family members.”

Concerned citizens, members of civil rights groups and representatives of the faith and business communities voiced optimism that Houstonians would vote to retain the ordinance this November:

“As a Christian, my faith teaches me to love my neighbor as myself,” said Pastor Rudy Rasmus, Co-Pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church. “When I search my heart, I believe we are all called to treat others with dignity and respect. Protecting others from discrimination is a way for me to live my faith and lead my congregation to be open and welcoming to all. I believe it’s what Jesus calls me to do.”

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