Tag: LGBT

The EU LGBT survey: data and advice

When Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, called for more research on the effects of homophobia, the Agency for Fundamental Rights stepped forward.

The result is the EU LGBT survey.  As always, I have read the relevant pdf so that you do not have to do so.

In the past decade, a growing number of international and national developments have addressed the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons.  Standards on non-discrimination and equality for LGBT persons have been further developed or reinforced by the European Union (EU), the Council of Europe and the United Nations (UN).  Sexual orientation and gender identity have increasingly been recognised as grounds of discrimination in European and national legislation.  Today, the situation of LGBT persons in the EU is no longer a marginalised issue but a recognised human rights concern.

–Morton Kj√¶rum, Director of the Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

Unlike heaven, West Virginia

We may be making progress at the Supreme Court, but that doesn’t imply that progress is happening elsewhere.  

 photo skinner221_zps2f1d96d8.jpgThere has been a bill in the West Virginia House of Delegates to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination laws.  But its sponsor, West Virginia’s first openly gay legislator Stephen Skinner (D-Jefferson County) has announced that he has asked the chairman of the committee considering the bill to forget about it ahead of today’s procedural deadline.  Skinner expressed concerns that the proposed exemption for religious organizations would be amended so broadly as to make the bill meaningless.

I believe that the wisest course of action today is to delay the battle in the House for another day.

–Stephen Skinner

Skinner thanked the hundreds of volunteers who have lobbied for the bill thought phone banks and in person.  He also thanked those lawmakers who had co-sponsored and expressed vocal support for the measure.

To those of you who support the (bill) but feel you cannot vote for it, it is not my job to soothe your conscience.  I will not give up on you, but I want you to explain to your children, your grandchildren, your brothers, sisters and friends, why you will not do so.

–Skinner

GLAAD Supports Trangender Equality

This Sunday on MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry,”  Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation announced that in an effort to be more inclusive it would be now known as “GLAAD.” It was also announce that GLAAD would direct more focus to transgender issues.

“This is a reflection of the work we’re doing today, and a reflection of the work the gay and lesbian community needs to be doing,” GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro told MSNBC.com in an earlier interview. “Our name was hindering that in many instances.”

Ferraro also pointed out that shifting societal attitudes created an opportunity to do more. “There have been huge increases in support for gay and lesbians, and for marriage equality. We’ve noticed that trend and wondered how we could use the tactics that the gay and lesbian community had used to get to today’s tipping point [for the trans community].”

“I was happy to hear GLAAD has committed to prioritize trans issues,” said Laverne Cox, an actress and transgender advocate. “They really need to be.”

People who identify as transgender were nearly 30% more likely to be a victim of physical violence than people who adhere to gender norms, according to a 2011 study by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, and discrimination based upon gender expression is widespread.

Ms. Harris-Perry discusses transgender issues with guests Wilson Cruz, national spokesperson for GLAAD; New York City Council candidate for the upper west side of Manhattan, Mel Wymore; Janet Mock, journalist and transgender activist; and Kenji Yoshino, constitutional law professor at NYU.

Murder Capitol of the World

 photo Jose_Pepe_Palacios_insert_courtesy_Gay_Liberation_Network_zpsa5cc9e74.jpg

[Of] the 89 LGBT murders since 2009, 52 have been transgender women.

–Jose Pepe Palacios

Honduran gay rights advocate Jose Pepe Palacios is on a mission.  He is visiting seven US cities to drum up support for for a coalition of LGBT and progressive groups in Honduras that is seeking to peacefully challenge anti-democratic forces which have taken control and are believed to be responsible for a large number of those murders mentioned above.

Palacios is a founding member of the LGBT group Diversity Movement in Resistance (MDR) and a member of the steering committee of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP).

A History Lesson on a Cold Evening

The Bristol Post picked up a story last Tuesday that should have been told long ago…long enough ago that the story qualifies as LGBT history.  And that’s likely why the article was written:  it’s LGBT History Month in the UK.

I have to admit that I’m not as familiar with the story myself as I should have been, so I had to spend a few days educating myself…and then a day or two deciding how to deal with the slippages of reality I encountered in so doing.

The title of the Post article was Op by unknown doctor was a world first.  And that is true, but I’m not so sure that the Post really understands the history in its totality.  The title of the February 16, 2013 talk, Michael Dillon:  The Man Who Invented Transsexuals by Cheryl Morgan, which is is being presented at Studio 1, M-Shed, Princess Wharf and sponsored by OutStories Bristol stretches the truth terribly.

So what’s this all about?

How’s That Filibuster Agreement Going, Harry?

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Senate apparently will carry on as usual with threats of holds and filibuster from the minority to obstruct anything that appears to interfere with their extremist code of values and quest for something scandalous to hang on Pres. Obama or someone in his administration. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) refusal to curb filibuster abuse is already starting to have its consequences , lead by none other than one of filibuster’s chief abusers, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC).

Sen. Graham: Either Panetta testifies on Libya or I put hold on Hagel nomination

Graham said in an interview with Fox News’s “On the Record” Monday night that he would “absolutely” block Hagel unless Panetta testifies – making him the first Republican threatening to filibuster or hold Hagel’s nomination as Defense secretary.

“The one thing I’m not going to do is vote on a new secretary of Defense until the old secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, who I like very much, testifies about what happened in Benghazi,” Graham said.

“Hillary Clinton got away with murder, in my view,” he said, referring to the secretary of State’s testimony before Congress last week. “She said they had a clear-eyed view of the threats. How could you have a clear-eyed view of the threats in Benghazi when you didn’t know about the ambassador’s cable coming back from Libya?”

Graham made a similar threat against President Obama’s nominee for CIA Director, John Brennan, when Brennan was nominated earlier this month, but this was the first time he’d suggested he’d also block Hagel over the Sept. 11 attack. While Brennan was part of the Obama administration during last year’s attack, which left four Americans dead, Hagel was not.

That was just a warm up for Lindsay.

Lindsey Graham Warns Immigration Reform Including Same-Sex Couples Will Fail

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters on Tuesday that it’s a mistake for the president to push for same-sex couples to be included in immigration reform, if he wants Republicans to support the bill. [..]

White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed the news, first reported by Buzzfeed, that the president would mention his support for such a provision. [..]

There is support for such a concept from many Democrats, some of whom have signed on to bills such as the Uniting American Families Act that would specifically address the issue of same-sex couples. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is the sole Republican co-sponsor of that bill in the Senate, and told HuffPost in December that she would support its inclusion in broader immigration reform.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), another member of the “gang of eight,” is a co-sponsor of that legislation, but aides say it’s too soon to say whether it could be included in a bipartisan immigration bill.

Sen John McCain (R-Ariz.), another member of the group, made the same point.

Never mind that the Immigration Reform Bill is still in the “wish list” stage. Lindsay has his knickers in a knot because President Barack Obama said he would support  immigration for the spouses of same sex couples. Just wait until the Senate gets to the Violence Against Women Act next week, Lindsay’s gonna blow a gasket over that.

So, Harry, how’s that gentleman’s agreement with Mitch going?

Rep. Barney Frank Marries Jim Ready

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Rep. Barney Frank married his partner Jim Ready Saturday in Newton, MA. Mr. Frank met his husband at a fund raiser in 2005 and they started dating in 2007 after Mr. Ready’s longtime partner, Robert Palmer, passed away after a long illness. The modest ceremony took place in the Marriott hotel in Newton and was preformed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Guests included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator John Kerry and Representatives Dennis J. Kucinich and Steny H. Hoyer and other close friends and family of the grooms.

Mr. Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, became, in 1987, the first sitting member of Congress to volunteer that he was gay. He is now the first to be married to a partner of the same sex. Both bridegrooms said they recognized the historical significance of the ceremony, which lasted less than five minutes. Gov. Patrick told the guests that Mr. Frank had requested that the service “be short and to the point.”

And in vows written by the couple, Mr. Frank and Mr. Ready pledged to love each other “on MSNBC or on Fox” and “in Congress or in retirement,” a reference to Mr. Frank’s decision not to seek another term. [..]

They had long discussions about marriage; Mr. Frank wanted to be married while still serving in Washington. Mr. Ready was worried about the public scrutiny. But he remembered how he felt in high school in Tewksbury, Mass., when Mr. Frank came out publicly.

“The kids that are going to see us, and feel strong enough to be able to come out and be who they are. That gives me more encouragement that I’m doing the right thing,” he said.

Their wedding bands were made of black diamonds set in tungsten, a metal used in welding. Mr. Ready picked the material. “It helps keep me grounded, after going to lunch with the president,” he said.

The wedding took place at a no-frills Marriott hotel in Newton. (Mr. Frank said he chose the location for ease of access.) The bridegrooms planned to wear tuxedos by Joseph Abboud, which Mr. Frank noted is a union shop.

Ms. Pelosi said at the reception on Saturday that it was appropriate that a landmark same-sex wedding take place around the Fourth of July. “It’s about expanding freedom,” she said. “This opportunity was a long time coming.”

We extend our best wishes and congratulations to Barney and Jim. Mazel Tov

In some other positive news for the LGBT community, the Episcopal Church has moved closer to allowing transgender men and women to be ordained as ministers:

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) – The U.S. Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops on Saturday approved a proposal that, if it survives a final vote, would give transgender men and women the right to become ministers in the church.

The House of Bishops voted at the church’s General Convention to include “gender identity and expression” in its “non-discrimination canons,” meaning sexual orientation, including that of people who have undergone sex-change operations, cannot be used to exclude candidates to ministry. [..]

The Episcopal Church, which has about 2 million members mostly in the United States, now allows gay men and lesbians to join the ordained ministry.

The resolutions on gender would allow transgender individuals access to enter the Episcopal lay or ordained ministries, and extend the overall non-discrimination policy to church members.

The resolutions must now be approved by the church’s House of Deputies.

Great news, indeed!

Historic first testimony of out transperson before Senate…Traditional Values Coalition responds

On Monday, I published a preview of Tuesday’s Senate HELP Committee hearing on ENDA.

People lose their careers. It’s over when people find out you’re transgender.

Kylar Broadus

Speaking from personal experience, I’ll declare that one’s career is not necessarily over, like Professor Broadus said, but a person is damn well going to have to fight to maintain that career and contain the damage done.

The Social Security Administration’s Equality Problem

The ACLU and the National Center for Transgender Equality have joined together to write a letter to the Social Security Administration expressing concern over the lack of action by the SSA on policy matters important to transpeople.

Areas of concern addressed in the letter include the need for an updated policy for changing information (eg. name, gender) on SSA records, revision of guidance regarding marriages involving a transgender spouse to accurately reflect state and federal laws, and the phasing out of the use of gender data in SSA computer matching programs.

The ACLU views the ability of transgender people to have identifying documents and records that accurately and consistently reflect their lived gender as essential.  As the coalition letter states, having identification and records that misrepresent one’s lived gender “outs” a transgender person in any situation where he or she needs to rely on these records, whether for purposes of employment or conducting business with state and local government offices.  This not only violates the privacy rights of transgender people, it also puts them at serious risk for discrimination, especially in the 34 states that currently lack explicit nondiscrimination protections for individuals based on gender identity.

As the ACLU says on its Discrimination Against Transgender People page,

The ACLU champions the rights of transgender people to live their lives freely and with respect.  We fight for protections against discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations (including schools), and health care.  We also challenge obstacles to people obtaining government identity documents respectful of their gender identity, as well as barriers to transgender parents seeking continuing relationships with their children.

Tony Ferraiolo, Champion of trans youth

The White House has a project called Champions for Change, explained here by Valerie Jarrett:

June’s Champions of Change will be drawn from the LGBT community, in honor of Pride Month.  Submissions closed May 4.  Semifinalists should be chosen in the next week or two.

Part of what makes this candidate stand apart is that he has a PR firm on his side.  I suppose by posting this, I have become part of his PR network.  So be it.  I believe in his cause.

Tony Ferraiolo is a certified life coach (a questionable occupation in my view, but to each his own), a trainer, and a speaker.  More important to my way of thinking is that he is an advocate for trans youth.

I realized that I had the opportunity to create myself into the person who I always wanted to be.   I remember asking myself,  what do I need to do to become that person?  There was a very long list of “To Do’s.”  I knew that the anger I carried would transfer over into the person I wanted to create, so I worked very hard to let go of it.  I forgave everyone who abused me, including myself.  Once I let go of my anger, my soul filled with compassion.  I believe that you must see the dark before you see the light – and that some of us must struggle through the challenges we face because it is part of the growth.  I can honestly say that I would not change anything about my past.  I truly believe that my past is what created “Tony.”

Now he has an opportunity to work on his mission at the White House.  Tony is one of the nominees in the first ever White House LGBT Pride Month Champions of Change Challenge.  Each contestant had to submit a video entry about their commitment to improving their own communities, their country, or the lives of their fellow citizens.

LGBT: The Times They Are A Changin’

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Yes, they are. And the change has finally struck right wing panderer Chris Matthews who finally called out Tony Perkins of the “Family Research Council” for “spreading hateful lies and junk research about the LGBT community.” On this May 10 segment of Hardball, Matthews, with the help of Rep. Barney Frank, challenged Perkins’ anti-gay misinformation, held him accountable for past statements, and demonstrated how out-of-the-mainstream his extreme positions really are:

Thank you, Mr. Matthews, for showing the rest of the media how a bigot should be treated. This is how a responsible journalist responds to hate speech.

h/t Gaius Publius at AMERICAblog

The President Supports Same Sex Marriage But . . .

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Vice President Joe Biden started a storm over marriage equality when he announced on Meet the Press that same sex marriage was OK with him. The press immediately wanted to know if President Obama’s position had “evolved.” The Biden interview was taped on Friday, so the White House was fully aware of what he had said. Finally, after three days of media over kill, the passage of Amendment 1 in North Carolina and the drying up of donations from the LGBT community, Pres. Obama announced that he “personally” supported same sex marriage. But hold your horses, people, this was just his personal opinion, not his political policy. Obama is still refusing to issue an executive order that would ban discrimination of gays, lesbians and transgender workers by federal contractors. From Sam Stein at Huffington Post:

The senior administration officials declined to say whether the president would now push for gay marriage to be part of the Democratic Party’s platform at the convention. They also said they were not changing positions on an Executive Order that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation against federal contractors. The president has said he would not sign that order. [..]

There were, however, reasons why even party officials were insisting, not all that long ago, that the president needed to put this off until after the election. There is concern that support for gay marriage will drive away voters in some conservative-leaning swing states. There is even more concern that Republican operatives can and will use the issue to go after the president.

Letting each state decide on the equality of individuals is not the best idea either. How would individuals have voted in states like Mississippi if they had been given the choice about civil rights? Marriage equality is a federal matter since states are required under the Constitution to recognize marriage contracts from other states. Therefore, they should not be permitted to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.

Does anyone at this point seriously believe that any of the people who voted for NC’S Amendment 1 will ever vote for Obama, no matter what his stand is on marriage equality? Only time will tell if the campaign donation faucet suddenly opens since it had dried up because of the work place discrimination issue. While it is certainly admirable and, in the case of Obama being a sitting president, momentous, for him to have made an official statement, the President still needs to “walk the walk”, back up his words and sign the anti-discrimnation executive order.  

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