Gayborhood News: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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gayborhood_smBy: Emily Scagel/TRT Assistant Editor–

Boston, MA

Report outlines how religious arguments undermine women and LGBTs

A report entitled Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights details how a network of Christian organizations has successfully fought pro-choice and LGBT civil rights legislation by saying that it infringes on religious liberty. The findings state that in the 70s and 80s religious liberty arguments were used to defend racial segregation, and now the same arguments are being used against women and LGBT individuals.

 

Charlotte, NC

LGBT athletics report reissued, urges systemic change

Campus Pride has reissued the Campus Pride 2012 LGBTQ National College Athlete Report in lieu of recent developments in college athletics, as well as the ongoing LGBT harassment impacting sports culture. The executive director of Campus Pride stated that videos and statements by teams about being an ally are just surface level, and that systemic change is what is needed. The organization is committed to releasing an online index that will allow colleges to benchmark LGBT-friendly policies, programs and practices.

 

Denver, CO

Colorado House passes Civil Union Act

The Colorado House of Representatives has passed the Colorado Civil Union Act, which grants same-sex couples access to rights and protections enjoyed by married couples in Colorado. The bill has already been approved by the Senate, and will go into effect on May 1. With the signature of Colorado’s governor, nine states will now allow same-sex couples to obtain all or most of the state-law rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage by entering a civil union.

 

Los Angeles, CA

Study finds 900,000 LGBT immigrants

A study estimated that there are approximately 637,000 LGBT-identified adult documented immigrants in the United States, as well as 267,000 undocumented. The report found that 71 percent of the undocumented LGBT adults were Hispanic, and 15 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander. The leader of the study said that under current immigration policies, the 900,000 LGBT immigrant adults in this country may face separation from their partners if they are not able to sponsor each other for work visas.

School urged to stop discriminating against LGBT students

The ACLU of Southern California and the law firm of Nixon Peabody LLP have sent a letter to administrators at a San Bernadino County high school and its school district to demand that they stop discriminating against LGBT students in school and to allow them to wear gender non-conforming clothing to prom. There were numerous incidents reported where students were harassed by teachers, refusing to approve GSA events and censoring the club’s name. The letter sent states that the school and the district must take immediate steps to stop unlawful conduct, promise to improve the school climate, and stop censoring the GSA.

 

New York, NY

Guide released for elder care service providers

A new data collection guide has been released by SAGE that will help service providers collect the information they need to better understand and serve LGBT older adults. The guide, Inclusive Questions for Older Adults: A Practical Guide to Collecting Data on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, will help providers ask questions in a safe and respectful way. Identities of LGBT older adults are rarely included in research studies, service intake forms and client notes on federal and local levels, so if providers want this information, they must collect it themselves.

GLAAD changes name, recommits to full inclusivity

GLAAD has announced that it is dropping ‘Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’ from its name, and will solely be known as GLAAD, the LGBT media advocacy organization. This change is accompanied by a renewed commitment by the organization to include bisexual and transgender people as well as allies from diverse backgrounds in GLAAD’s work.

Puerto Rico urged to reverse same-sex parent ruling

Lambda Legal and Fundacíon Artículo II are urging Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court to reconsider and reverse a ruling, and either grant a second-parent adoption to a lesbian couple, or to hold their case until the federal Supreme Court rules on DOMA. A Lambda Legal Staff Attorney stated that Puerto Rico’s adoption law condemns gay and lesbian couples, as well as their children, to an inferior and stigmatized status.

 

Providence, RI

Coalition of Mayors in support of marriage equality forms

Rhode Islanders United for Marriage has launched Mayors for Marriage Equality. The campaign director for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage stated that it is an incredible testament to their leadership that so many city executives have chosen to stand up and endorse same-sex marriage legislation being considered in the Senate. The group includes the Mayors of Warwick, Central Falls, Pawtucket, North Providence, Cumberland and Providence.

Catholic group forms, urges same-sex marriage legislation

Catholics from across Rhode Island have announced the formation of Rhode Island Catholics for Marriage Equality, and are urging the Senate to pass marriage equality legislation. The group has more than 100 members and is made up of Catholics from parishes and communities across the state.

Religious leaders speak out against discriminatory bill

A group of religious leaders in Rhode Island have spoken out against a new Senate bill that would allow individuals and small business to discriminate against same-sex couples, and would roll back existing discrimination laws under the claim of protecting religious liberty. The executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches stated that faith should uplift us and bring us closer together, not used as an excuse to divide and exclude.

 

Sacramento, CA

Act introduced to ensure success of transgender students in school

A California Assembly member has introduced a bill that will ensure that California public schools understand their responsibility for the well-being and success of all students, including those who are transgender. The School Success and Opportunity Act will allow transgender students to have full participation in all school activities and programs. Even though California law already prohibits discrimination in education, transgender students are still unfairly excluded from many school activities, including athletics. This exclusion negatively impacts their ability to succeed in school and graduate.

 

San Francisco, CA

Oral arguments heard in Proposition 8 case

The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the challenge to Proposition 8, which stripped marriage equality from same-sex couples in California. Prop. 8 was then struck down, because it was found to discriminate against same-sex couples, violating the Equal Protection Clause. A decision in the case is expected by the end of June 2013. The executive director of NCLR stated that no other state has had such a direct attack on same-sex couples, and she believes that the Court will agree that Prop. 8 is an offense to the Constitution’s promise of equality.

 

Santa Fe, NM

Case made for marriage equality in New Mexico, declared legal

New Mexico’s capital city has issued a legal memo and resolution declaring same-sex marriage legal in New Mexico. The memo notes that New Mexico’s laws define marriage in gender-neutral terms and that a list of prohibited marriages does not include same-sex couples, among other statements that outline the case that marriage equality is already legal under New Mexico law.

 

Spindale, NC

Advocacy organization threatened by anti-gay church’s attorneys

Faith In America, a nonprofit that educates the public about the harm to LGBT people when church teachings are used to justify stigma and hostility, has been threatened and intimidated by a legal firm representing an anti-gay church. The letter was sent on behalf of Word of Faith Fellowship church, and used false accusations and untrue legal threats to warn the advocacy group to not attend a church-sponsored public meeting. The executive director of Faith In America stated that they are letting the church know that no amount of intimidation will deter them from their efforts to end harm.

 

Topeka, KS

Court rules that all co-parents can be recognized regardless of gender

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex parents of a child can both be fully recognized as such under state law. Kansas joins a number of states that recognize that when two people raise a child, the law should treat both of them as parents, regardless of gender. The ruling is significant for same-sex parents, as well as for a variety of families that have non-biological parents raising children.

 

Washington, D.C.

Latino voters want inclusive immigration reform for lesbian and gay couples

Immigration Equality/Latino Decisions released results of a poll that show that 64 percent of Latino voters favor inclusive immigration reform for lesbian and gay binational couples. The executive director of Immigration Equality stated that immigration reform is the most important issue to Latino voters, and the voters want reform that includes all families.

Anti-gay “reparative therapy” organization has tax exempt status revoked

NARTH, the leading anti-LGBT organization that advocates abusive efforts that falsely attempt to change one’s sexual orientation has had its tax exempt status revoked. The president of HRC said that this move is another discrediting blow to NARTH, and that they have no credibility left. Every major medical organization has come out against these practices, as they pose serious health risks.

U.S. voters in support of marriage equality at record high

A record high 58 percent of voters nationwide are in support of marriage equality, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll. The poll also shows that voters overwhelming say that the U.S. Constitution should be the basis of deciding on marriage equality, rather than individual states. The poll found that support has increased among a variety of demographic groups, including an 18 percentage point jump in Republican support.

Federal ban on HIV-positive organs for HIV-positive recipients lifted

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has approved the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act, which will lift a federal ban on the donation of HIV-positive organs to HIV-positive recipients. This act could save as many as 1,000 people yearly, and would decrease waiting time for HIV-infected individuals as well as uninfected individuals.

Navy urged to intervene in same-sex military spouse discrimination case

The Navy was called upon by the executive director of OutServe-SLDN to intervene in the case of a same-sex military spouse that was denied appropriate honor and recognition at her wife’s retirement ceremony. The Commanding Officer has denied a request for her to receive a customary Certificate of Appreciation, citing DOMA, even though other same-sex military families in the Navy have been recognized.

$45 million lost HIV/AIDS funding

Congress approved a spending bill that failed to continue $35 million in emergency relief funds for AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. This loss could result in 8,000 individuals living with HIV being removed from ADAPs and losing access to lifesaving medication. The bill also fails to continue $10 million in emergency funds for Ryan White Part C clinical programs. The director of legislative and public affairs for the National Minority AIDS Council stated that this will have a devastating impact on those living with HIV or AIDS, and will inhibit NMAC’s ability to combat the spread of the disease.

Sec. Clinton voices support for marriage equality

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out in support for the right of same-sex marriage for the HRC’s Americans for Marriage Equality video campaign series. The president of HRC stated that the golden rule, treating others the way that we would like to be treated, is moving the United States inexorably toward marriage equality, and Sec. Clinton is like millions of Americans who have come to this conclusion.

Attention drawn to need for workplace protections

GetEQUAL activists are demanding that the Senate vote on a fully-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and that the president signs an Executive Order that would bar federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no current federal law that protects LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in the workplace before, during, or after their employment. The managing director of GetEQUAL stated that this lack of protection is unfair and un-American, and should be resolved now.

Organization hopeful for freedom to marry

Marriage Equality USA is hopeful that the Court will rule in favor of marriage equality after hearing oral arguments. The organization stated they were heartened by the thoughtful questions asked by the justices, including how letting same-sex couples marry would harm other people’s marriages. Concern for children growing up in LGBT-headed households whose parents do not have full recognition or status was also brought up, in that it is important for those children to have their parents legally recognized as such. The legal director for Marriage Equality USA said that they are very hopeful the Court will render Prop. 8 no longer enforceable, or issue a broader ruling that not allowing same-sex couples to marry violates the Constitution.

Marriage and adoption deemed in best interest of kids with LGBT parents

A powerful statement of support was issued from the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding the positive benefits of marriage and non-discriminatory adoption/foster care policies for children with LGBT parents. A spokesperson for the Family Equality Council stated that they welcomed this statement on behalf of the three million parents who are LGBT in the United States and their six million children. He also said that the AAP recognizes the truth that families will be strengthened as loving couples gain the freedom to marry, the ability to foster and adopt without discrimination and the power to raise families fully recognized and respected under the law.

Religious coalition responds to election of new pope

The National Religious Leadership Roundtable has responded to the election of Pope Francis I, and is requesting that the pope makes reevaluation of the Catholic hierarchy’s approach to LGBT issues one of his top priorities. The new pope spoke strongly against marriage equality and adoption for same-sex parents as a cardinal in Argentina, and the Religious Leadership Roundtable hopes that he will have the wisdom to hear all sides of the issue in his new office. They state that without offering sincere outreach and beginning to render this negative approach, the church will continue to lose members and credibility.

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