By: Emily Scagel/TRT Assistant Editor–
Marriage equality approved at ballot box in Maryland
Maryland voters approved the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which paves the way for gay and lesbian couples to receive a marriage license. This is the first time that any state has voted on and passed marriage equality on the ballot. The Act approved also protects religious freedom, so no church or clergy member has to perform any marriage they do not want to.
Patrick Administration recognizes and advocates for needs of LGBT elders
MassEquality and the LGBT Aging Project have applauded the Deval Patrick Administration for recognizing the unique needs of LGBT elders and for urging specific outreach. The Executive Office of Elder Affairs published a directive to Massachusetts’ elder service agencies to inform them that the state would be adopting federal guidelines around elder populations in need of targeted outreach. The EOEA is requesting that these agencies work specifically with LGBT elders. MassEquality and the LGBT Aging Project are advocating for passage of a bill that would require EOEA to develop a specific curriculum.
Fenway Health congratulates President Obama
Fenway Health has congratulated President Obama on his victory and his commitment to promoting expanded access to healthcare for all. The President and CEO of Fenway Health stated that the Obama Administration has dramatically increased attention to LGBT health. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 contains important protections for LGBT people and those living with HIV/AIDS. Fenway Health will continue to advocate for the full implementation of the Act.
GLAD challenges decision to dismiss transgender discrimination case
GLAD has announced that it will appeal the decision made in a Maine court to dismiss the case of a transgender girl who experienced discrimination and harassment in school. A GLAD senior attorney stated that the girl was subject to severe bullying, and was made an outcast by school officials, which is in violation of Maine’s anti-discrimination law prohibiting discrimination against people based on gender identity and expression in all areas, including public education and public accommodations.
Lambda Legal supports spousal benefits for LGBT law enforcement officers
Lambda Legal has filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Law Enforcement Gays and Lesbians in support of the partner of a deceased Missouri State Trooper who is being denied surviving spousal benefits. A senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal stated that there cannot be a gay exception to family protections for police and first responders, which sends a discriminatory and disturbing message to LGBT law enforcement officers.
Los Angeles, CA
Wedding spending will generate over $166 million in Maine, Maryland & Washington
The Williams Institute estimated that same-sex weddings in Maine, Maryland and Washington will generate over $166 million in the first three years. The estimates are based upon Census 2010 data, average state wedding expenditures and state tourism reports, but do not take into account resident same-sex couples who may be registered as domestic partners, or out-of-state couples that decide to travel to these states to marry.
GLAAD examines ten years of catalogued transgender images
GLAAD has analyzed its archives of transgender images on television episodes over the past ten years and has found that more than half of all catalogued episodes contain negative images and stereotypes. Offensive representations and storylines were found on every major broad network and seven cable networks over the ten years, showing that the problem is widespread. GLAAD also found that anti-transgender language was present in at least 61 percent of catalogued episodes and storylines.
New York, NY
UPS stops funding to anti-gay organizations, includes Boy Scouts of America
UPS has decided to no longer fund the Boy Scouts of America, based on their gay ban. UPS released a statement saying that they seek to support organizations in alignment with their focus areas, guidelines and non-discrimination policy. Because of this, organizations that are unable to attest to having policies or practices that align with the UPS non-discrimination policy will be no longer eligible for funding. Boy Scouts of America currently ban gay youth and adults from being scouts and scout leaders.
Youth services organization destroyed by hurricane
The Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest service and advocacy organization for LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth, has been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. The Drop-In Center served as an entry point for LGBTQ youth programs, including medical care, housing referrals, HIV testing and more. The executive director of the Center stated that they will not be able to return due to the destruction, and that their lease is finished at the end of January. The Center is pursuing every means possible to care for youth in the interim.
Video series features stories of homeless LGBTQ youth
The nation’s largest LGBT youth services and advocacy organization launched its second annual “Homeless for the Holidays” series. The Ali Forney Center’s weekly video series showcases faces and stories of diverse New York LGBTQ youth that were forced to endure homelessness without shelter. The series will run through New Year’s Day and will be available on YouTube.
Lawsuit filed against deceitful reparative therapy group
A lawsuit has been filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, a group that fraudulently claims that their counseling services can convert customers from gay to straight. This lawsuit is the first to directly sue a conversion therapy provider for fraudulence, and charges that the group violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act through these fraudulent and deceptive claims.
LGBT groups condemn Dr. Oz Show for misinformed reparative therapy episode
GLAAD, GLSEN and PFLAG National have denounced the Dr. Oz Show for airing an episode about “reparative therapy” and positing a representative of one discredited and anti-gay organization as an “expert.” The three LGBT and ally groups are calling on Dr. Oz to stand with the entire medical community against reparative therapy, and for him to tell his LGBT viewers that he does not supporting “repairing” their sexual orientation. The audience was misled by the show to believe that there were actual experts on both sides of the issue. Dr. Oz wrongfully presented the topic and chose to ignore what actual experts say.
Nation’s first LGBT-friendly low-income senior housing to be built
The dmhFund and Pennrose Properties have broken ground on the John C. Anderson Apartments. Being built in Philadelphia, this will be the nation’s first urban LGBT-friendly affordable senior housing. The apartments are named for John C. Anderson, a City Council member who was instrumental in the passage of Philadelphia’s civil rights bill for sexual minority individuals. The dmhFund president stated that this project is different from other LGBT housings in that it is approaching funding from outside the LGBT community.
Maine approves citizen’s initiative for marriage equality
Maine became the first state in the country to approve a citizen’s initiative for the freedom to marry. The campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage stated that Maine proved that voters can change their hearts and minds if stories are told and citizens are given a personal connection to the issue. He also advocated for hope to other states who have seen marriage equality blocked at the ballot box.
Saint Paul, MN
Minnesotans United responds to successful marriage equality campaign
Minnesotans United for All Families responded to the defeat of Amendment 1 in Minnesota, an amendment that would have limited the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. The campaign manager for Minnesotans United released a statement saying that their campaign has sparked an honest and statewide conversation about why marriage matters and who should participate in it. He continued to say that Minnesotans voted in favor of love, freedom and fairness, because that is what Minnesota is about.
Alum pledges $1 million to LGBT Studies institute
A University of Arizona alumnus has pledged $1 million to UA’s LGBT Studies institute, moving it to the top of national LGBT Studies research efforts. The alumnus stated that he wanted to make a difference, so kids would not have to experience what he did growing up. The institute conducts research on immigration, socioeconomics, race, health and more, all in relation to sexuality and gender identity.
Anti-gay group sees drastic decline in donor contributions
The National Organization for Marriage saw a sharp decline in contributions for 2011. The amount of money raised dropped from $9.1 million to $6.2 million. Only two donors were responsible for funding 75 percent of NOM. NOM released their 2011 990, after HRC requested the documents in-person at their Washington, D.C. office. HRC Vice President of Communications stated that NOM’s financial records serve as proof that supporting LGBT equality is common-sense and mainstream, and that NOM is simply channeling the anti-gay agenda of a few wealthy and secretive donors.
HRC releases guide for purchasing from pro-equality corporations
The HRC has released a guide detailing American brands and their treatment of LGBT employees. The guide, “Buying for Workplace Equality 2013,” divides businesses and their products into categories based upon their score on the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index. They are clearly sectioned into red, yellow and green ratings, so consumers can easily see what brands support LGBT workplace equality, empowering them to make informed purchasing decisions.
Post-election poll shows change toward LGBT equality from voters
Results from a post-election poll released by the HRC shows a change on LGBT equality reflected in voters’ attitudes. Whereas LGBT issues were previously used as a wedge to drive conservative turnout, these issues are now motivators for progressives, youth and independents. The poll also found that because the LGB community significantly favored Obama, 45.7 percent of Obama’s national popular vote margin was due to LGB voters. It was also shown that more Romney voters were in support of marriage equality, than were Obama voters who oppose marriage equality.
Campaign connects LGBT families with foster children
HRC has partnered with RaiseAChild.us in a campaign to encourage LGBT families to provide safe and loving homes for children in foster care. The initiative, All Children — All Families, includes networking events that ensure LGBT individuals and couples are connected to agencies and professionals that are committed to welcoming and supporting the LGBT community. The campaign works to inform and engage LGBT people in opportunities to become parents to waiting children.
Inmate pleads guilty to hate crime
A Texas inmate has pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act through assaulting an inmate he believed to be gay. The inmate admitted that he targeted the victim because of his perceived sexual orientation. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division stated that the department will continue to vigorously enforce the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and others to protect the rights of all.
Open bisexual joins largest class of LGB lawmakers
The first openly-bisexual Member of Congress has been elected to the House of Representatives. Kyrsten Sinema, representing Arizona’s Ninth District, will join the largest-ever class of openly LGB lawmakers, including the first openly-gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. The 113th Congress will have seven openly LGB members, and includes the first openly-gay person of color in congress, Mark Takano.
Nationwide Municipal Equality Index evaluates LGBT inclusion
A report on LGBT equality in America has rated 137 cities across the nation. The Municipal Equality Index, by the HRC, is the first ever rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law. Results show that even though many cities are behind in protecting LGBT people, some of the most LGBT-friendly policies in the country are implemented at the municipal level. Massachusetts’ cities scored an average of 82 out of 100, exceeding the national average. The rating was based upon 47 criteria under the categories of non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, and municipality employment practices, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and municipal leadership.