LGBTQ News From Our Gayborhoods: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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By: Emily Scagel/TRT Assistant Editor–

Anchorage, AK
Challenge to same-sex eligibility for survivor benefits in Alaska
Lambda Legal has filed a legal challenge on behalf of the lesbian partner of a shooting victim in Alaska. Deborah Harris’ same-sex partner Kerry Fadely was shot and killed in a work-related incident, which under Alaska’s worker’s compensation law leaves the spouse eligible for survivor benefits. Harris, though, will not receive benefits because same-sex couples are excluded from this law. Harris is only challenging the exclusion from eligibility for survivor benefits and not the right to marry in Alaska. Lambda Legal claims the discrimination violates constitutional guarantees of equality, and the Alaska Supreme Court will decide this after Harris’ direct appeal.

Atlanta, GA
HIV discrimination case settled with Atlanta
Lambda Legal accepted a settlement offer to resolve the discrimination lawsuit of an anonymous client who was denied employment with the Atlanta Police department because of his HIV status. The City held that a police officer living with HIV presented a direct threat to health and safety of others. Atlanta will pay the client $250,000.

Boston, Massachusetts
Fenway’s new book highlights organization’s first 40 years
A new book written by former Fenway Health Board of Director chronicles the organization’s first 40 years. Tom Martorelli’s For People, Not for Profit showcases Fenway Health’s history and the evolution of community and LGBT healthcare. The book is available in print and as an e-book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks.

MA SJC recognizes domestic partnerships from CA
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that Massachusetts must recognize parallel spousal statuses for same-sex couples from other states, for example, domestic partnerships registered in California. The unanimous ruling also protects the best interest of children, as under it, both spouses are considered legal parents to children born in such unions.

 

Chicago, IL
Book celebrates loving moms of LGBTs
A new photo essay book featuring mothers of LGBT individuals has been created by Windy City Times and photographed by Kat Fitzgerald. The Chicago-based newspaper solicited submissions from the Chicago area, but also interviewed well-known moms of LGBTs, including Judy Shepard. The book includes an assortment of families, and ends with a special blank frame on the last page, so that children can place their own mother’s picture in the book. The book can be purchased online at Amazon, or at Women & Children First bookstore in Chicago.

Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington
New campaign uses Facebook to reach voters
HRC has announced the launch of a new campaign to reach out quickly and effectively to those in states where voters will decide on marriage equality for same-sex couples. Call4Equality a web tool available through call4equality.hrc.org, uses Facebook to connect the user with their networks in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, and then will create personalized call lists and scripts to help educate and motivate voters on the issue.

New Hampshire
Publication highlights transgender experiences in New Hampshire
GLAD and TransGender New Hampshire have announced a book which includes stories about local transgender people and their families. “We are New Hampshire: Transgender Lives in the Granite State” is intended as an educational resource for policy makers as well as the general public, and highlights challenges faced by residents and their families, while also revealing the fullness of their lives. Read this story online at tinyurl.com/8ste4xz.

 

New York, NY
Final episode of first gay newsmagazine to be aired
The first gay newsmagazine, “In the Life,” will air its final episode in December after 20 years in production. “In the Life,” produced by In the Life Media, was the first to bring real stories and struggles about the LGBT experience to light on public television, at a time when LGBT people were invisible in the media. In the Life Media will continue its vision through an interactive online hub archive, where users will be able to view, share and build with their own stories.

Millions of Americans to wear purple in stand against bullying
Millions of Americans will wear purple for Spirit Day on October 19 to take a stand against bullying. George Takei, Shaquille O’Neal, Perez Hilton and other celebrities will join GLAAD, hundreds of corporations, schools, national landmarks and millions more to show their support for LGBT youth. Other groups participating include AT&T, Facebook, Yahoo!, WNBA and NBA, GLSEN, PFLAG and more. Spirit Day was created in 2010 when teenager Brittany McMillan called on her friends to wear purple to memorialize those who lost their lives to bullying.

Intel announces they will no longer fund the Boy Scouts of America
Intel has pulled their funding from the Boy Scouts of America after urgency from an online campaign. Intel, one of the Boy Scouts of America’s largest corporate donors, has said that they could no longer fund the organization, so long as they continue their policy banning gay troops and leaders from participating. President Obama has publicly opposed this anti-gay policy.

2011 National School Climate Survey released by GLSEN
GLSEN has released “The 2011 National School Climate Survey” detailing experiences of LGBT students in America’s schools. This year, for the first time, the study found decreased levels of biased language and victimization, as well as increased levels of access to LGBT-related school resources and support. The survey also indicated that a safer school climate correlates directly to availability of resources and support, including GSAs and comprehensive anti-bullying policies. Despite this progress, the majority of LGBT students are still struggling with obstacles in school affecting their academic performance and personal well-being.

San Francisco, CA
CA bill ensures equal access to fertility services
The governor of California has signed a bill ensuring equal access to fertility services for same-sex couples. The bill, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, allows women in same-sex relationships, as well as single women, to access fertility services on the same terms as women in different-sex relationships. This will take effect January 1, 2013.

First bill signed to protect LGBT youth from psychological abuse
A landmark bill was signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown that protects LGBT youth from psychological abuse by deceptive mental health professionals that falsely claim they can change such youth’s sexual orientation or gender expression. California is the first state in the nation to protect LGBT youth by prohibiting these dangerous and deceitful practices, which include shame, verbal abuse and aversion therapy, and cause a high risk of depression and suicide. The law will take effect January 1, 2013.

Washington, D.C.
DHS issues guidance including relief for partners of LGBT immigrants
The Department of Homeland Security has issued new, written guidance extending discretionary relief to those U.S. Citizens that are spouses and partners of LGBT immigrants. These guidelines make clear that the phrase “family relationships” include same-sex partners. This is one of the first times federal immigration policies recognize LGBT families.

Online hub created for transgender college students
The National Center for Transgender Equality has launched the first online hub for trans college students. The Transgender On-campus Nondiscrimination Information project allows trans students to share trans-affirmative policies and practices of colleges, as well as exchange ideas for action and organizing. The site includes a searchable campus profile database and a community forum, and is open to current and prospective students.

Campaign brings attention to non-inclusive school forms
A new initiative by the Family Equality Council encourages parents of school children to challenge non-inclusive forms. The “Snap It & Send It” campaign urges families to bring attention to the many forms that fail to recognize LGBT-headed families and instead send a daily reminder of exclusion. Parents are encouraged to snap a photo of the antiquated forms they come across every day, and send them to forms@familyequality.org with a description of how their family is impacted. The Family Equality Council will use these photos as examples as it works with agencies to make these necessary changes on forms.