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Wonkblog: Map: More than half of states may roll back LGBT rights

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

a new report from the Human Rights Campaign shows, many legislative proposals are being considered at the state level that might reverse some of those recent changes.

According to HRC, more than 85 such bills have been filed in 28 states for the 2015 state legislative sessions. Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a controversial “religious freedom” law last week, while a similar bill passed the Arkansas state Senate on Friday.


Human Rights Campaign

The map above shows proposed legislation that relates to LGBT issues at the state level as of March 24, 2015. The most common type of legislation, marked in red, concerns so-called “religious refusals,” which allow individuals or institutions to challenge or opt out of certain state or local laws based on their religious beliefs. These laws allow business owners to, for example, refuse marriage-related services or deny adoption services to particular couples based on their religious beliefs. Critics charge that these laws make it easier for individuals and businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.

The states marked in dark blue, including Minnesota, South Dakota, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas, are considering laws that would affect transgender people, according to HRC. Most of these laws restrict access to gender-segregated facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms in public accommodations or schools, or gendered activities like school sports.

States marked in light blue – West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas — are introducing legislation that would nullify non-discrimination protections at the city level and prevent city councils from passing new protections, according to HRC. Orange indicates states that have introduced legislation to expressly protect therapists who conduct “conversion therapy” – just Oklahoma.

More stories from Know More: 

- In most of America, Tim Cook could be fired for being gay

- How much money you need to make to be ‘middle class’ in every big city

- All the things women could afford if it weren’t for the gender pay gap

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LGBT, civil rights groups: Show 'Indiana is open for business — for everyone'

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Nearly a dozen LGBT and civil rights groups sent an open letter to Gov. Mike Pence on Monday, urging him and lawmakers to fix the largely disputed Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was signed into law last week.

In the letter, organization officials highlighted Freedom Indiana’s new legislative proposal, which is aimed at protecting LGBT Hoosiers from discrimination.

Dubbed “The Fairness for All Hoosiers Act,” Freedom Indiana representatives said the proposal would request that legislators “update the state laws against discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations to provide protections for LGBT Hoosiers” and “clarify that the recently enacted RFRA cannot be used to allow discrimination prohibited under state or local laws.”

“Indiana is already on the verge of losing billions of dollars and thousands of jobs because of this dangerous law,” the letter reads. “Major organizations have announced they are canceling conferences, and companies are pulling business from Indiana to protect their employees and customers from discrimination.”

On Monday, the AFSCME Women’s Conference announced it would pull its October conference out of Indianapolis because of RFRA’s passage. A number of businesses, including the cloud computing company Salesforce.com, have also canceled programming that involved customers and employees traveling to Indiana. Most recently, Angie’s List said it would be nixing a $40 million headquarters expansion on the city’s Near Eastside.

“We want Indiana to be the thriving state that it can and should be, but that will never happen with state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people on the books,” the letter continued.

Signing groups include the American Civil Liberties Union, Equality Federation Institute, Freedom to Marry, Gay Lesbian Advocates Defenders, GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender Law Center.

LGBT and civil rights activists are just the latest in a growing number of high profile figures and organizations who have openly rejected RFRA. Even NCAA President Mark Emmert acknowledged RFRA could lead to significant changes in the NCAA’s relationship with Indianapolis and the state of Indiana.

“We have to look and see what the legislature does or doesn’t do in the next few days,” Emmert told The Star’s Gregg Doyel. “It’s premature to talk about what we would do in that regard, but it’s important to know we’re very serious about this.”

For LGBT and civil rights groups, however, their answer to RFRA was simple: “It’s time to show the rest of the nation that Indiana is open for business — for everyone.”

Star reporters Robert King, Tim Evans, Scott Horner and Gregg Doyel contributed to this story.

Call Star reporter Michael Anthony Adams at (317) 444-6123. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelAdams317.

Article source: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2015/03/30/lgbt-civil-rights-groups-show-indiana-is-open-for-business---for-everyone/70703474/

Indiana law against LGBT discrimination stronger than in most states

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Article source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/31/ind-law-lgbt-discrimination-stronger-most-states/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

LGBT, civil rights groups: Show 'Indiana is open for business

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Nearly a dozen LGBT and civil rights groups sent an open letter to Gov. Mike Pence on Monday, urging him and lawmakers to fix the largely disputed Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was signed into law last week.

In the letter, organization officials highlighted Freedom Indiana’s new legislative proposal, which is aimed at protecting LGBT Hoosiers from discrimination.

Dubbed “The Fairness for All Hoosiers Act,” Freedom Indiana representatives said the proposal would request that legislators “update the state laws against discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations to provide protections for LGBT Hoosiers” and “clarify that the recently enacted RFRA cannot be used to allow discrimination prohibited under state or local laws.”

“Indiana is already on the verge of losing billions of dollars and thousands of jobs because of this dangerous law,” the letter reads. “Major organizations have announced they are canceling conferences, and companies are pulling business from Indiana to protect their employees and customers from discrimination.”

On Monday, the AFSCME Women’s Conference announced it would pull its October conference out of Indianapolis because of RFRA’s passage. A number of businesses, including the cloud computing company Salesforce.com, have also canceled programming that involved customers and employees traveling to Indiana. Most recently, Angie’s List said it would be nixing a $40 million headquarters expansion on the city’s Near Eastside.

“We want Indiana to be the thriving state that it can and should be, but that will never happen with state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people on the books,” the letter continued.

Signing groups include the American Civil Liberties Union, Equality Federation Institute, Freedom to Marry, Gay Lesbian Advocates Defenders (GLAD), GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender Law Center.

LGBT and civil rights activists are just the latest in a growing number of high profile figures and organizations who have openly rejected RFRA. Even NCAA President Mark Emmert acknowledged RFRA could lead to significant changes in the NCAA’s relationship with Indianapolis and the state of Indiana.

“We have to look and see what the legislature does or doesn’t do in the next few days,” Emmert told The Star’s Gregg Doyel. “It’s premature to talk about what we would do in that regard, but it’s important to know we’re very serious about this.”

For LGBT and civil rights groups, however, their answer to RFRA was simple: “It’s time to show the rest of the nation that Indiana is open for business – for everyone.”

Star reporters Robert King, Tim Evans, Scott Horner and Gregg Doyel contributed to this story.

Call Star reporter Michael Anthony Adams at (317) 444-6123. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelAdams317.

Article source: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2015/03/30/lgbt-civil-rights-groups-show-indiana-is-open-for-business---for-everyone/70703474/

Tim Cook speaks out against anti-LGBT laws

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

CUPERTINO, Calif., March 30 (UPI) – Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an op-ed Sunday speaking out against the religious freedom laws passed in several states that are considered discriminatory against the LGBT community.

Cook, the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company, came out in an op-ed last year supporting equality. Now he is asking others to join him in publicly condemning the laws in several states — most recently Indiana — that would allow businesses to deny services to LGBT if they consider it against their religious beliefs.

“These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality,” he wrote in the Washington Post.

He said growing up in the South in the 1960s and 70s, he understood the difficulty of opposing discrimination when it is so prevalent. His home state of Alabama, in fact, had its first bill presented to the state legislature protecting LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace and named it the “Tim Cook Bill.”

Cook stressed this issue was not about politics or religion but about human understanding.

“This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.”

Article source: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2015/03/30/Tim-Cook-speaks-out-against-anti-LGBT-laws/2661427710653/

Indiana law shows LGBT people the closet door

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

In a private ceremony Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law Senate Enrolled Act 101, the innocuous sounding Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It prevents state and local governments from enacting laws that would “substantially burden” a person’s exercise of his or her religion. Moreover, SEA 101′s definition of a “person” includes “a partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint-stock company, an unincorporated association, or another entity” that claims its practices are compelled or limited by a religious belief. In simpler terms, if a business says its services are tied to its owners’ faith, it can turn away customers who don’t adhere to its religious views. The obvious intention of the bill, given recent advances in LGBT civil rights, is to permit discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Misjudgment in Alabama on same-sex marriage

Supporters of this bill and others like it dismiss the possibility of discrimination as no big deal. Buy your wedding cake from another bakery, they say to gay couples. Or, there are plenty of other banquet halls that will host your reception. But imagine, for a moment, what it would feel like to be gay, lesbian or transgender in Indiana, not knowing when you entered a business whether you would be asked to leave. I know this anxiety, having experienced it myself.

lRelated Indiana governor won't say whether businesses can refuse gay customers
NationIndiana governor won’t say whether businesses can refuse gay customersSee all related

In the early 1990s, when my partner (now my husband) and I were first a couple, we took a lot of road trips, often through rural areas in the South and Midwest. When it came time to stop for the night, we usually had few if any options — a budget motel somewhere. We almost never checked in together, even though we paid for two guests. One of us would wait in the darkened car while the other registered, and once we had the key we would enter through a side entrance, if we could. It was degrading and probably unnecessary 95% of the time. But rather than risk the 5% chance that we’d be hassled, we did it.

Like many in the LGBT community, I’m too far out of the closet to deal with side entrances anymore. Though I live 20 miles from the Indiana border and have visited often — I spent my college years there — I don’t expect to be checking in to any of that state’s hotels in the near future, and this law is why. I can make it to Michigan without stopping for gas. The beaches and bike trails are beautiful there, too.

Granted, my own state, Illinois, has a law comparable to SEA 101 already in place. But it contains no language extending religious exemptions to businesses; and, unlike Indiana, Illinois has a statute on the books specifically prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

When this “religious freedom” law goes into effect July 1, I suspect that some Indiana LGBT couples will accept separate checks at restaurants as if they’re co-workers. Some will sneak into motel rooms like they’re having an affair or sign apartment leases as if they were roommates. And some will wonder if they’d be better off someplace else.

Jerome Pohlen is an editor and author who lives in Chicago. His next book, “Gay and Lesbian History for Kids,” will be released in October.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

Article source: http://latimes.com.feedsportal.com/c/34336/f/625246/s/44f38527/sc/7/l/0L0Slatimes0N0Cabout0Cla0Eoe0E0A330A0Epohlen0Eindiana0E20A150A330A0Estory0Bhtml0Dtrack0Frss/story01.htm

Indiana Gov.: Religious Freedom law will remain despite anti-LGBT perception

Monday, March 30th, 2015

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INDIANAPOLIS, March 30 (UPI) – Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act will not change, despite criticism stating it would allow discrimination toward the LGBT community.

The Republican governor decried “shameless rhetoric” over the state’s new law and attributed the public backlash against it to a “tremendous amount of misinformation and misunderstanding.”

“We’re not going to change the law, but if the general assembly in Indiana sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, than I’m open to that,” Pence said on the ABC News program This Week. “The question here is if there is a government action or a law that an individual believes impinges on their religious liberty, they have the opportunity to go to court… and the court would evaluate the circumstance under the standards articulated in this act.”

The host of the show, George Stephanopoulos, repeatedly asked the governor yes-or-no questions regarding criticism stating the law would allow the LGBT community to be discriminated against. Pence continuously deflected the questions.

“Yes or no, should it be legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“George… you’re following the mantra of the last week online, and you’re trying to make this issue about something else,” Pence replied.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest commented over the controversial law and the discussion on This Week.

“If you have to go back two decades to try to justify something that you’re doing today, it may raise some questions about the wisdom of what you’re doing,” Earnest said. “It should be easy for leaders in this country to stand up and say that it is wrong to discriminate against people just because of who they love.”

The governor said he would support legislation that would “clarify” the controversial law, expecting it to be introduced into the General Assembly this week.

Article source: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2015/03/30/Indiana-Gov-Religious-Freedom-law-will-remain-despite-anti-LGBT-perception/4211427719022/

National LGBT Bar Association, BNY Mellon and White & Case Announce Resource to Help Same-Sex Couples Navigate State …

Monday, March 30th, 2015

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ – The National LGBT Bar Association, BNY Mellon and White Case LLP, announced today the launch of the Association’s Online LGBT Tax Resource for the 2014 tax year, at LGBTBar.org/tax, to help same-sex couples and their tax advisors navigate state tax laws. The resource is a unique tool for both tax preparers and payers, providing a comprehensive, state-by-state list of reporting regulations for LGBT couples. A first of its kind when developed last year, the Resource has now been fully updated to reflect the many changes in the marriage equality landscape over the past year as they impact the income tax reporting obligations of same-sex couples at the state level.

Despite recent strides in marriage equality recognition, tax law remains one of the most complex and nuanced issues impacting the LGBT community, especially in states where couples are not allowed to file married tax returns. Following the Supreme Court’s decision invalidating Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), couples are now eligible to file married federal returns. However, in the 13 states that have same-sex marriage bans, to the extent such states impose an income tax on their residents, those same couples cannot file joint state returns. Further, 21 states have begun recognizing same-sex marriages since the last tax season and state tax regulatory guidance may not yet be fully clarified. In response, the Online LGBT Tax Resource is there to ensure families are equipped with the most up-to-date tax information for their home state.

“Tax season is always a trying time for many families, but for LGBT families especially. The quickly changing legal landscape makes things even more complicated,” said D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of The LGBT Bar. “The Online LGBT Tax Resource is designed to give tax payers and tax preparers the best possible state-by-state information available for LGBT families. Our partners at BNY Mellon and White Case have worked tirelessly to ensure this important information is available in one spot and is prepared by some of the nation’s most knowledgeable tax experts. We’re proud to partner with them on this important endeavor.”

Among the information provided at the site, are key areas such as:

  • A recap of states’ rules concerning same-sex marriage and the impact on state income tax in clear and concise language
  • Individual state guidance for married same-sex taxpayers
  • Information on litigation, and legislation, that could impact LGBT tax law; and
  • Up-to-date information from states’ departments of revenue, and state constitutions.

“As the filing deadline approaches, many same-sex couples have yet to file their state tax returns because they are unsure on how to correctly do so,” said John Lillis, a tax partner with White Case, who worked on the project pro bono. “The database will provide same-sex couples with greater clarity on how to file returns in states that recognize or don’t recognize marriage equality.”

“Because laws vary from state-to-state, we marshalled the knowledge and skills of our pro bono teams to deliver an outstanding resource for the LGBT community,” said Arunas Gudaitis, Managing Director and Senior Managing Counsel, BNY Mellon. “As a result, the online guide offers same-sex couples and their tax advisors and preparers a comprehensive view of tax laws and regulations across the country.”

The Resource presents the many state-level regulations in easily understandable language. The site, which will be updated periodically with any new developments impacting tax laws for LGBT couples, provides the only inclusive, accurate listing of filing regulations in all fifty states. 

The National LGBT Bar Association is a national association of lawyers, judges and other legal professionals, law students, activists, and affiliated lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legal organizations. The association promotes justice in and through the legal profession for the LGBT community in all its diversity.

BNY Mellon is a global investments company dedicated to helping its clients manage and service their financial assets throughout the investment lifecycle. Whether providing financial services for institutions, corporations or individual investors, BNY Mellon delivers informed investment management and investment services in 35 countries and more than 100 markets. As of Dec. 31, 2014, BNY Mellon had $28.5 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration, and $1.7 trillion in assets under management. BNY Mellon can act as a single point of contact for clients looking to create, trade, hold, manage, service, distribute or restructure investments. BNY Mellon is the corporate brand of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (BK). Additional information is available on www.bnymellon.com, or follow us on Twitter @BNYMellon.

White Case LLP is a leading global law firm with lawyers in 38 offices across 26 countries. Among the first US-based law firms to establish a truly global presence, we provide counsel and representation in virtually every area of law that affects cross-border business. Our clients value both the breadth of our global network and the depth of our US, English and local law capabilities in each of our regions and rely on us for their complex cross-border transactions, as well as their representation in arbitration and litigation proceedings.

 

Contact: Kelly Simon
National LGBT Bar Association
+1 (202) 637-7661
kelly@lgbtbar.org

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-lgbt-bar-association-bny-mellon-and-white–case-announce-resource-to-help-same-sex-couples-navigate-state-tax-laws-300057237.html

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/national-lgbt-bar-association-bny-140000208.html

Cook Blasts 'Dangerous' Anti-LGBT Bills

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Following a set of tweets blasting discriminatory legislation in Indiana and Arkansas, Apple CEO Tim Cook penned an op-ed for The Washington Post that called these and other measures “dangerous.”

“There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country,” Cook wrote, pointing to the Indiana and Arkansas bills passed last week, as well as legislation under consideration in Texas. Cook said there are nearly 100 current proposals that “rationalize injustice” and “go against the very principles our nation was founded on.”

The Arkansas legislature last week approved the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which has not yet been signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

“It is found and determined by the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas that there is not a higher protection offered by the state than the protection of a person’s right to religious freedom,” the legislation said.

“And that this act is immediately necessary,” it continued, “because every day that a person’s right to religious freedom is threatened is a day that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution is compromised.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign, however, the bill would use religion as an excuse to discriminate against minorities.

“This legislation cloaks discrimination in the guise of religion?and it will mark people of color, LGBT Arkansans, religious minorities, and women as second-class citizens,” American civil rights leader Dr. Julian Bond said in a statement. “Gov. Hutchinson has a duty and a moral obligation to veto this legislation or the ghosts of the past will haunt his legacy.”

Cook mirrored that thought in his op-ed, making clear his message to people around the world: “Apple is open.”

“Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love,” Cook said. “Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.”

Similarly, Indiana’s S.B. 101 “prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion.” In a statement, Gov. Mike Pence said the measure “is not about discrimination,” but Pence was evasive during an appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos when asked questions about what the bill does and does not do or allow.

The Texas bill, which is still under consideration, would make it difficult for same-sex couples to get married even if the state strikes down its anti-gay marriage ban, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Cook, meanwhile, publicly came out in October, announcing in an editorial penned for Bloomberg that he is gay?and proud of it. Two months later, he made a sizeable donation to the Human Rights Campaign’s Project One American, which aims to expand LGBT equality in Cook’s home state of Alabama, as well as Arkansas and Mississippi.

“This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings,” Cook wrote in his op-ed. “Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.”

Apple is not the only tech firm getting involved. Yelp Chairman Max Levchin and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff publicly reacted to the Indiana law, calling the state’s decision “pretty unbelievable,” and announcing a reduction in investment based on employee and customer outrage, respectively. Angie’s List also said it will halt its proposed campus expansion project on Indianapolis’ Near East Side because of the legislation.

Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2479231,00.asp?kc=PCRSS03069TX1K0001121

LGBT Members Rally Against Conscience Protection Bill

Monday, March 30th, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, AR — Hundreds of LGBT members and civil rights activists set up across the state this weekend voicing their opposition on the Conscience Protection bill.

The South On Main restuarant in Little Rock was over flowing with protesters demanding Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto the bill.

“It is blasphemy, it is an abomination and a front to the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said one Rallier.

Lawmakers say the bill prevents the government from intruding on religious practices.
Hutchinson explained this after another opposition rally Saturday.

“It tries to maintain the balance of religious freedoms versus equal protection of the laws. It’s a balance to achieve. This bill tries to do that and it’s not that complicated,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson.

“Since when did religious practices have not been protected like they should be,” said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Barbara Mariani.

LGBT protesters say the bill allows for dangerous interpretations. And feel they will not be welcomed into Arkansas businesses.

“They will come out and spew their vile hate and pain and they will justify it all under freedom of religion pursuant to 1228,” said Mariani.

Hutchinson already announced he will sign the bill into law.

But ralliers are working to persuade him otherwise, by flooding the gates of the governor’s mansion.

Forty percent of U.S. States have something similar to this bill, as does the federal government.
Protesters say they do not want Arkansas to join those states.

“This is a huge step backwards,” said one Protester.

Article source: http://www.fox16.com/story/d/story/lgbt-members-rally-against-conscience-protection-b/22919/PERrXvaJX0aNWl-6yxN-Lg

Sister Care expanding rach to help LGBT youth

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

But that doesn’t mean the effects of those days have passed. As family members and friends have drifted, the LGBT community has come together to support one another, and members of Sister Care say that means reaching out to LGBT youth who still need support.

Sister Care

Sister Care of Western North Carolina provides temporary care for members of the LGBT community, from help around the house to transportation for medical appointments and providing respite care for loved ones.

“Long, long time ago, my partner was taking care of her mother — she took care of her mother for 14 years,” volunteer Cindy Morris said. “In the seven years that we were together, there was no way for us to ever get away unless we paid for a caregiver, and that gets extremely expensive.”

Morris said she thought about how great it would be for the community to come together and support each other during times like these, so she joined up with members of Asheville Lesbian Professionals, who were also looking to provide such a service to the community.

“Sister Care was very much a collaborative effort between Sandi Franklin, president of ALPS at the time, Sharon Eriwn, Sandy Johnson, Deb Franklin and myself,” Morris said.

By 2012, Sister Care became a nonprofit and instead of just having friends helping friends, they could offer more specialized services and have a broader reach.

“Just economically, lesbians don’t make as much because you have two women versus two men or a man and a woman — they don’t make as much money, so they can’t get the help,” Morris said.

With a full board, case managers and 58 volunteers, Sister Care works every day to match pairs of volunteers with clients in both Buncombe and Henderson counties.

“The support system has to be there for us; we have to help one another out because these things are going to come up,” said Linda Jones, Sister Care secretary.

Morris said Sister Care has meant a lot for her personally because it isn’t just an LGBT social network — they are actually helping each other.

“It’s a lot of hard work; … nobody would believe the amount of hours everybody puts into it on a daily basis, but you have to do that,” Morris said. “You have to have that passion to make it work.”

As a nonprofit, Jones said they will provide their services to anyone who needs them, but they are inclusive, while other organizations may be less than willing to serve those with AIDS or who are transgender.

Jones said many of Sister Care’s clients are more comfortable with them coming into their homes because they are also members of the LGBT community and won’t judge them.

“They feel like they have to hide, so the people that we help, they don’t have to de-gay the place,” Morris said. “The books aren’t being turned the other way, the pictures aren’t coming down, all of that, because they can just be themselves, so that’s extremely important.”

With many couples who were in the military or school teachers, Jones said coming out publicly, if at all, has not always been an option.

“We know a lot of people in that situation who have now overcome it simply because of the mores changing,” Jones said.

After decades of living in the closet under the guise of being friends, Jones said many older members of the LBGT community are starting to feel more comfortable being public.

Bridge-building

Sister Care is building a relationship with the LGBT youth of Henderson County through financial support and advocacy for Youth OUTright, a local nonprofit that offers support for LGBT and allied teens.

Sister Care will host a flapjack fundraiser along with Asheville Prime Timers beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday at Applebee’s in Hendersonville.

“I think it’s very important that we as a community all support each other … but we all have to come together as a community and really support each other,” Morris said. “I would love to see it become a mentoring situation.”

Morris said she would love to get youths from Henderson and Buncombe counties involved with the volunteer efforts of Sister Care to get young volunteers, and as a way to pass down the history of the LGBT community and let them know they are supported.

Fifty-four year old Morris said she has been out since she was 17 year old, but it was a whole different world back then. Youths working with the generations who lived through the LGBT civil rights era can learn what the LGBT community experienced in the past.

“They don’t even know what Stonewall is — it is a whole different world,” Morris said. “We lived through it and hey, you guys can, too, and you can make it to where we are. And the whole world doesn’t hate you like you think right now.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, negative attitudes toward LGB people put youth at increased risk for experiences with violence, compared with other students.

“LGBTQ youth are also at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, suicide attempts and suicide,” the CDC says. “A nationally representative study of adolescents in grades 7–12 found that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual peers.”

Jones said she knew she was a lesbian for years, but never said a word because she was too afraid.

“I was married and had children, so there was no way I was doing anything … I had to wait until they were all grown,” Jones said. “I didn’t come out until I was 52 years old, so I think that’s true for a lot of people. They waited a long time.”

Morris, on the other hand, said she came out in high school and her parents would ask her things like, ‘What is your grandmother going to say?’ and ‘What are the neighbors going to say?’

“You just knew that it was supposed to be very, very quiet,” Morris said. “Any high school friend that I told was no longer a high school friend.”

Jones said you took the risk of losing friends and family by coming out.

“I did,” Jones said. “I lost family members that just turned on me completely.”

While it was very risky then, Jones said it can still be risky today. “It is not that it is any easier for you individually in what you’re going to maybe incur, but what is easier is that the basic society accepts it a whole lot more.”

Jones said people fought for the rights she has been afforded today, from legal marriage to partner benefits, and she feels a duty to recognized and honor that work in her own life.

Youth OUTright

Youth OUTright is an advocacy and leadership organization dedicated to the support of LGBT youth between the ages of 14 and 23, according to its website.

Executive Director Jim Faucett said the organization is focused on working with youth through the high school gay-straight alliances, which provides an open safe community for LGBT youth.

After receiving funding from the community foundation, Faucett said Youth OUTright will be able to connect the high school GSAs with each other and provide programming for teens.

“Having a GSA on your campus makes the environment better; it is just a more supportive place,” Faucett said. “…It helps them know that they’re not alone, that someone’s got their back.”

Faucett said that to even beginning a GSA at area high schools takes a strong, dedicated group of students, and that this past year, one high school administrator would not allow the group to advertise its meetings.

“There was a principal in Henderson County that made a school club take down their fliers that were set up to recruit new members because they used the term “LBGTQ” in the flier and the principal said that equals sex, so they took them down,” Faucett said.

Since the youth and advisors weren’t sure what their constitutional rights were, Faucett said they haven’t been able to do much this year. Moving forward, Faucett said the youth will have a chance to attend to the LGBT in the South conference in Asheville, where they will meet with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina and come back next year ready to fight for their rights of association.

On top of having a safe place to gather and socialize, Faucett said Youth OUTright allows for the opportunity for youth to learn about the history of the LGBT community.

Several Henderson County youth recently came out to Blue Ridge Community College for a showing of the movie “Milk” based on civil rights leader Harvey Milk.

“Either they didn’t know who he was or they didn’t really know the impact that he had,” Faucett said. “And they started to recognize that this is part of their history, and that really this is part of American history that they don’t get taught in school.”

For more information on Sister Care of WNC, visit www.sistercarewnc.weebly.com or call 808-9082. For more information on Youth OUTright visit www.youthoutright.org.

The Pancake Breakfast to benefit Youth OUTright will be from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday at Applebee’s in Hendersonville. Tickets are $7. Tickets can be purchased online at http://sistercarewnc.weebly.com/flapjack-fundraiser.html.

Reach Bindewald at 694-7890 or renee.bindewald@blueridgenow.com.

Article source: http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20150329/articles/150329862

One LGBT School’s Effort to Stop Bullying Starts Young

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

It was 2007 when Christian Zsilavetz, a math teacher, started volunteering with a parents’ support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital. The group was about 40 members strong and met one Sunday each month in the hospital, tucked away behind the lush green foliage of downtown Emerald City. Zsilavetz was already a few years into his own gender transition and, with two decades of teaching experience, decided to help out with the group’s child care. Parents drove hours just to be part of the group. Soon, Zsilavetz could see why.

“You’ve got a lot of gender nonconforming and trans youth on the spectrum, and they don’t fit the mold of most public and private schools,” Zsilavetz, now 45, told TakePart. “There’s still not a lot of room for those pink princess boys.”

In the years since, Zsilavetz, who identifies as a transgender man, started a family of his own. Today, he and his wife have two children: a son, who’s three, and a daughter, who’s six. They consider themselves a transgender family. In 2012, Zsilavetz’s wife got a job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The family moved to Atlanta and quickly became part of the city’s thriving gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, and Zsilavetz took the bold step of starting a school catered specifically to families like his own.

That project, called Pride School, is set to open Atlanta in August. It will be open to K–12 students and is looking to enroll 10–15 students for the upcoming school year. Annual tuition is expected to be $12,000. Students and parents will get access to the school’s gender-neutral bathrooms, the ability to choose their own gender pronouns, and a test-free curriculum built entirely around students’ interests.

The idea of an LGBT-specific school isn’t new; New York City’s Harvey Milk High School has been around for two decades. But opening one that so openly challenges gender norms and caters to children as young as four years old is more unconventional. Statistics are scarce, but there’s been a general recognition among researchers that many LGBT youths are coming out at earlier ages. One study found that gay and bisexual boys experience their first same-sex attraction around age eight, and for girls it’s even earlier. Another study by researchers at San Francisco State University released a survey that found many LGBT adults recount being bullied for flouting gender norms throughout their years in school.

But for Zsilavetz, the idea isn’t so much about catering to children who experience bullying because of their own gender or sexual identity. It’s about reaching LGBT parents and teachers who often have to hide behind the rigid gender norms of the schools where they work and send their children.

“We’re not the gay kids’ school,” Zsilavetz said. “Our school is about a community within a community. You’ll have straight parents with queer kids, queer parents with straight kids, along with queer and straight educators.” Teachers are already contacting him about jobs. Some are LGBT people hoping to work in a more open environment.

Still, the school has an uphill climb before it becomes reality. It’s still trying to secure space, and Zsilavetz says students and staff will start crowdsourcing campaigns in about two weeks to raise tuition and salary costs. It also doesn’t have accreditation, which apparently isn’t an issue for younger students. Older students will be able to dually enroll in online programs to meet accreditation standards. But Zsilavetz says the timing is right.

“Why not now?” he asked, noting that as the country grapples with marriage equality, it will inevitably have to deal with questions of how to better support LGBT families and their children. “This school has always been needed.”

Related stories on TakePart:

Leelah Alcorn Isn’t Alone: What Happens When Religious Parents Reject Transgender Teens

How LGBT Youths Survive the Streets

The Anguish of North Carolina’s First Transgender Prom King

Original article from TakePart

L.A. legislator, activists say gay conversion therapy still exits

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

In an effort to halt reported abuse at programs claiming to help young people — such as offering to “fix” gay children — a state lawmaker and LGBT activists on Friday announced a campaign to regulate the so-called troubled teen industry.

“Under the veil of religious exemption, some facilities in California and abroad claim to help troubled teens or to ‘cure’ LGBT kids through residential schools, camps or wilderness programs,” said state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who appeared Friday in Hollywood with employees of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Atty. Gen. Harris seeks to halt 'reprehensible' anti-gay ballot measure

“Many of these facilities have operated without regulation or any type of oversight — and without oversight, it’s impossible to protect our children,” Lara said.

Lara has introduced the Protecting Youth From Institutional Abuse Act, legislation that he said would regulate the private industry that treats troubled teenagers. The legislation would require private alternative youth treatment and education institutions — such as boot camps, therapeutic boarding schools, religious children’s homes and behavior modification programs — to be licensed by the state Department of Social Services.

lRelated Teacher hopes Southeast's first LGBT school will be a haven
NationTeacher hopes Southeast’s first LGBT school will be a havenSee all related

According to a draft of SB 524, there are at least a dozen unlicensed youth residential institutions in California. Nationwide, the proposed bill says, there are hundreds of such facilities, serving 10,000 to 14,000 youths each year. Although the institutions — often owned and operated by nonprofit groups — advertise services for youths with behavior issues, they often are not licensed to treat substance abuse or mental health disorders.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, youths in such facilities experience high levels of maltreatment, physical abuse and neglect that sometimes lead to accidental death or suicide. Weaknesses in the federal and state regulatory structure have failed to safeguard vulnerable youths, the agency said.

Lara said parents often send their children to the programs to try to change their sexual orientation. Therapies aimed at converting minors from gay to straight is illegal in California. But, officials said, it still happens by different means.

Rebecca Lopez, 18, said in an interview Friday that she was forbidden to say she was gay at an all-girls’ Christian boarding school for troubled teenagers in Northern California, where she spent six months.

Late one night about three years ago, Lopez’s mother told her to go to her room, where a man she said she didn’t know arrived, pretending to be a police officer. The man told Lopez he was going to take her to a police station; instead, he drove her more than 500 miles north of her family’s North Hollywood home to the school in Shasta County.

At the school, she was deprived of food and forbidden to communicate with family and friends. Because school officials knew she was gay, she said she was subjected to “no-touch therapy” and banned from touching other people.

“To this day, if someone reaches over and touches my arm lightly, I feel the need to pull away,” she said. “I still feel like I’m going to get in trouble for getting touched.”

Lopez’s family had signed over her guardianship to the school. When her mother finally agreed to remove her, Lopez said, she had to hide in the back seat of her mother’s car so she wouldn’t be detected.

Dave Garcia, director of public policy for the Los Angeles LGBT Center — which supports Lara’s proposed bill — said many of the facilities are religiously affiliated. The legislation would not permit religious exemptions that would allow facilities to not be regulated by the state.

“Your religion does not give you the right to abuse a child,” Garcia said. “No cross will protect you from the law.”

The LGBT Center also announced that it is working with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and others in Congress to press for federal legislation to regulate the industry. It is common, officials said, for programs forced to close in one state to reopen in another, using a different name.

“Families that turn to these treatment programs for help, often as a last resort, must know that their children are safe and in the care of professionals,” Schiff said.

hailey.branson@latimes.com

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

Article source: http://latimes.com.feedsportal.com/c/34336/f/625246/s/44e04e79/sc/7/l/0L0Slatimes0N0Cabout0Cla0Eme0Eln0Etroubled0Eteen0Ehome0Eregulation0E20A150A3270Estory0Bhtml0Dtrack0Frss/story01.htm

L.A. legislator, activists say gay conversion therapy still exists

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

In an effort to halt reported abuse at programs claiming to help young people — such as offering to “fix” gay children — a state lawmaker and LGBT activists on Friday announced a campaign to regulate the so-called troubled teen industry.

“Under the veil of religious exemption, some facilities in California and abroad claim to help troubled teens or to ‘cure’ LGBT kids through residential schools, camps or wilderness programs,” said state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who appeared Friday in Hollywood with employees of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Atty. Gen. Harris seeks to halt 'reprehensible' anti-gay ballot measure

“Many of these facilities have operated without regulation or any type of oversight — and without oversight, it’s impossible to protect our children,” Lara said.

Lara has introduced the Protecting Youth From Institutional Abuse Act, legislation that he said would regulate the private industry that treats troubled teenagers. The legislation would require private alternative youth treatment and education institutions — such as boot camps, therapeutic boarding schools, religious children’s homes and behavior modification programs — to be licensed by the state Department of Social Services.

lRelated Teacher hopes Southeast's first LGBT school will be a haven
NationTeacher hopes Southeast’s first LGBT school will be a havenSee all related

According to a draft of SB 524, there are at least a dozen unlicensed youth residential institutions in California. Nationwide, the proposed bill says, there are hundreds of such facilities, serving 10,000 to 14,000 youths each year. Although the institutions — often owned and operated by nonprofit groups — advertise services for youths with behavior issues, they often are not licensed to treat substance abuse or mental health disorders.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, youths in such facilities experience high levels of maltreatment, physical abuse and neglect that sometimes lead to accidental death or suicide. Weaknesses in the federal and state regulatory structure have failed to safeguard vulnerable youths, the agency said.

Lara said parents often send their children to the programs to try to change their sexual orientation. Therapies aimed at converting minors from gay to straight is illegal in California. But, officials said, it still happens by different means.

Rebecca Lopez, 18, said in an interview Friday that she was forbidden to say she was gay at an all-girls’ Christian boarding school for troubled teenagers in Northern California, where she spent six months.

Late one night about three years ago, Lopez’s mother told her to go to her room, where a man she said she didn’t know arrived, pretending to be a police officer. The man told Lopez he was going to take her to a police station; instead, he drove her more than 500 miles north of her family’s North Hollywood home to the school in Shasta County.

At the school, she was deprived of food and forbidden to communicate with family and friends. Because school officials knew she was gay, she said she was subjected to “no-touch therapy” and banned from touching other people.

“To this day, if someone reaches over and touches my arm lightly, I feel the need to pull away,” she said. “I still feel like I’m going to get in trouble for getting touched.”

Lopez’s family had signed over her guardianship to the school. When her mother finally agreed to remove her, Lopez said, she had to hide in the back seat of her mother’s car so she wouldn’t be detected.

Dave Garcia, director of public policy for the Los Angeles LGBT Center — which supports Lara’s proposed bill — said many of the facilities are religiously affiliated. The legislation would not permit religious exemptions that would allow facilities to not be regulated by the state.

“Your religion does not give you the right to abuse a child,” Garcia said. “No cross will protect you from the law.”

The LGBT Center also announced that it is working with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and others in Congress to press for federal legislation to regulate the industry. It is common, officials said, for programs forced to close in one state to reopen in another, using a different name.

“Families that turn to these treatment programs for help, often as a last resort, must know that their children are safe and in the care of professionals,” Schiff said.

hailey.branson@latimes.com

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-troubled-teen-home-regulation-20150327-story.html?track=rss

Looking Out: Amid 'wave' of anti-LGBT efforts nationwide, Maryland stands apart

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

Advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community say they are waging battles against a “wave” of anti-LGBT legislation in states across the country, from Maine to Texas to Nevada.

Meanwhile in Maryland, they’re cheering new progress in an environment that may be more LGBT-friendly than ever.

“What we’re seeing is really this divide in the country between states like ours and those north of us that are really doing well moving forward every year, and then states in the south and midwest that aren’t,” said Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization.

In vitro mandate bill for same-sex couples passes both chambers

Though some high-profile battles — such as those for same-sex marriage and transgender employment and housing discrimination protections — were settled in Maryland in past years, this legislative session in Annapolis has been profoundly gratifying, Evans said.

A bill intended to provide lesbian couples with the same health insurance coverage for advanced fertility procedures that straight couples enjoy passed both the Senate and the House this week by wide margins.

lRelated A unique Maryland marriage sits at center of Supreme Court case considering gay nuptials
Gay MattersA unique Maryland marriage sits at center of Supreme Court case considering gay nuptialsSee all related

“It was the largest margin we’ve ever had a bill passed by, and it was the most bipartisan [support] that we’ve ever had,” Evans said.

Meanwhile, another bill to allow transgender Maryland natives to change the gender listed on their birth certificates to reflect their identity also has passed both chambers, and Evans said she is optimistic that Gov. Larry Hogan will let both bills become law.

Lawmakers approve new birth certificates for transgender people

Lawmakers approve new birth certificates for transgender people Erin Cox and Timothy B. Wheeler Transgender people could apply to change the gender on their birth certificates to reflect their identity under identical bills passed by each chamber of the General Assembly Tuesday. Transgender people could apply to change the gender on their birth certificates to reflect their identity under identical bills passed by each chamber of the General Assembly Tuesday. ( Erin Cox and Timothy B. Wheeler ) –>

Hogan has not indicated his intentions.

Evans said the bills were led by straight allies in the legislature, rather than members of the state’s LGBT caucus — another sign of widening support.

“Our anti-gay legislators are a very small minority now,” Evans said.

Other states are in a very different position, she and other advocates said.

This week, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s leading LGBT advocacy group, warned a “wave of anti-LGBT bills filed across the country continues to swell.”

So far this year, legislators have “introduced more than 85 anti-LGBT bills in 28 states,” the HRC said. Of those, 34 bills in 9 states have failed, but two have passed in Arkansas and Indiana that would allow businesses and others to opt out of serving LGBT people on religious grounds.

So-called “religious refusal” laws have been proposed in other states, as have bills that would deny transgender people the sort of public accommodations protections they hold in Maryland, introduce policies clearing the way for so-called “conversion therapy,” and undermine established local ordinances banning LGBT discrimination.

Evans said there are still many issues facing the LGBT community in Maryland, including conversion therapy practices and widespread anti-LGBT sentiments in more rural areas of the state, that Equality Maryland will continue to fight.

But given the support the LGBT community has been given at the state level, Evans said she’s also been talking to her counterparts in other states about lending a hand.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is reach out to states [that] are really under assault, to see how we can help and fight back against some of this stuff,” she said.

Elsewhere in LGBT-related news:

- HBO canceled “Looking,” but there’s a special in the works to wrap up all the show’s storylines.

- ICYMI, Baltimore OUTLoud’s Steve Charing had a piece on Paul Liller, the 2015 coordinator for Baltimore Pride and the GLCCB’s new development coordinator.

- And, in the Washington Blade, Charing had a piece on the Baltimore Eagle and its woes with the liquor board.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun

Article source: http://baltimore.feedsportal.com/c/34255/f/623016/s/44dfb456/sc/7/l/0L0Sbaltimoresun0N0Cnews0Cmaryland0Cbs0Egm0Elooking0Eout0Emaryland0Estands0Eapart0Eamid0Ewave0Eof0Eantilgbt0Elaws0Enationwide0E20A150A3270Estory0Bhtml0Dtrack0Frss/story01.htm

LZ: Indiana's anti-LGBT law a preview for 2016?

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

LZ Granderson is a CNN contributor, a senior writer for ESPN and a lecturer at Northwestern University. He is a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, and his commentary has been recognized by the Online News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Follow him on Twitter @locs_n_laughs. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Barney Frank, to say the least, knows his way around politics. In a Chicago appearance recently, the retired congressman had the sold-out crowd at the Center on Halsted well entertained as he detailed his 45-year journey in public service.

Frank, you’ll recall, was the first member of Congress to marry someone of the same-sex while in office, and among other things, he had some choice words for closeted politicians who vote against LGBT rights.

And when someone in the audience asked his thoughts about a current ballot proposal in California that would legalize killing gay people, he said he wasn’t aware of the measure but told the young man not to “worry yourself about the crazy people.”

Lz Granderson-Profile-Image

“We’re winning,” he said before joking that the name of the California proposal — “The Sodomite Suppression Act” — sounded like a porno.

“We’re winning” is a phrase I’ve heard a lot recently as it pertains to LGBT rights. And I guess if you look at where the country was 10 years ago, we definitely are. That’s assuming you are part of the “we” that believes LGBT people should have the same rights as their heterosexual/cisgender counterparts.

Or at least not “be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method” as the California proposal suggests. (It’s unclear whether Matt McLaughlin, the Huntington Beach lawyer who submitted the proposal, is being sincere or just an ass, but the fact remains that if he collects enough signatures there appears to be no legal way of stopping it from going on the ballot.)

    Frank: I did not conform to a gay stereotype

    Frank’s “we’re winning” declaration was oddly timed, too. Less than 24 hours after his talk, the governor in the next state over signed an anti-LGBT “religious freedom” bill into the law — one that allows businesses to challenge in court local laws that forbid discriminating against customers based on sexual orientation.

    “Many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said. Not to be outdone, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he would sign a similar bill that is expected to reach his desk shortly.

    So we have: A fledgling proposal to kill the gays out West, laws to deny us goods and services in the heartland, and if the rhetoric of 2016 hopeful Ted Cruz is a barometer, a federal ban on same-sex marriage still on the GOP table.

    Like others, I had foolishly hoped the upcoming general election would be one defined by bold ideas.

    Instead, it looks like it’s going to be dragged down to a replay of Pat Buchanan’s “cultural war” speech, during which he told the 1992 Republican National Convention: “We stand with (George H.W. Bush) against the amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women” and later followed with “There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself. For this war is for the soul of America.”

    Progressives enjoyed poking fun at Cruz, the tea party darling when he announced his presidential bid, but according to the American Civil Liberties Union, “the Indiana RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] is one of 24 introduced in 15 states this year that could allow someone to use their religious beliefs to discriminate. Numerous other bills specifically single out the LGBT community for unequal treatment.”

    Alabama judge: This is about sexual preference

    It’s not just lawmakers. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore made headlines for telling state officials and judges to disregard a federal court ruling that overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

    And this week. a federal judge in Cruz’s home state of Texas blocked a federal rule that would have granted married, same-sex couples access to the Family and Medical Leave Act, a law that helps employees stay home to take care of a severely ill spouse.

    It seems clear that even if Cruz doesn’t capture the GOP nomination, whoever does will undoubtedly make some concessions to appease LGBT rights backlash currently underway in conservative states.

    That could include one of Cruz’s agenda items: a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, usurping whatever ruling comes out of the Supreme Court in June, when the court is expected to rule on whether such marriage is constitutionally protected.

    And the NCAA can issue strongly worded statements, as it did over Indiana’s new anti-LGBT law, and — along with others in corporate America — can threaten financial repercussions for discriminatory laws.

    But at the end of the day, it’s about votes. Frank said when progressives get angry they march in the streets, and when conservatives get mad they march to the polls. If that holds true in 2016, “winning” is going to feel very strange.

    Indeed, most 2016 hopefuls on the right have been reluctant to express support for same-sex marriage.

    According to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, “it’s like asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.”

    Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said, “I certainly will support Ted Cruz and others that are talking about making … a constitutional amendment to allow states to continue to define marriage.”

    Ben Carson apologizes for comments on gay people

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has a long history of fighting against same sex marriage and civil unions.

    And Ben Carson said jail turns people gay, so there’s that. (He later apologized)

    Gallup polls may suggest voters nationwide are more gay-friendly, but the trend on the state level tells a different story. Perhaps we’re witnessing the final gasp of a long-ago biases.

    Or maybe those biases are having a rebirth we had underestimated.

    Barney Frank said he believes Republicans want the Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage to provide political cover in the GOP primary. That may be true, but it’s doubtful that will allow a candidate to avoid taking a position on the wave of so-called “religious freedom” bills currently snaking through red-state legislatures.

    Or to sidestep the topic of a constitutional amendment when it’s raised in a debate or at a campaign stop — especially with Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate.

    Once again, our democracy is vexed by a woefully inadequate two-party system. Socially liberal, fiscally conservative independent voters may want to consider the full depth of a candidate’s policies before making a decision, but ultimately it may come down to a single-question: to discriminate against LGBT people or not.

    Unfortunately, the pending 2016 “cultural war” does not allow for much wiggle room beyond that.

    I know Frank and others have said “we’re winning” but sitting here, watching the life being sucked out of democracy year in and year out feels more like a defeat than a victory.

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    Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/27/opinions/granderson-lgbt-culture-wars/index.html

LGBT vote is crucial for mayoral candidates

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

IT’S TOO EARLY to predict which of the mayoral candidates will be in or out come November.

But one thing is clear, the six Democratic candidates, who are in a heated battle to win the May primary, think the LGBT vote could make or break them.

“The LGBT vote in an urban community can make the difference between a win or a loss, so it doesn’t surprise me that the candidates are doing aggressive outreach,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, which fights for the passage of same-sex legislation.

This once-shunned, and often closeted, cohort has not only become politically hip, it is now viewed by candidates as critical.

Gay residents can make up “a minimum of 10 percent of the population” of large cities, they generally vote and they are politically astute and engaged, Solomon said.

That aside, urban voters, gay or straight, overwhelmingly support marriage equality and civil rights, Solomon noted.

“Certainly over the course of the past 50 years and even over the course of the last five years, support for equality for LGBT people has grown rapidly and with that, so has the support of elected officials,” Solomon said. “You’d be hard pressed to get a serious candidate running for mayor in a large city who stands against equality. “

Earlier this month, Democratic mayoral candidate Jim Kenney held a news conference at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Center City to proudly proclaim the endorsement of seven notable leaders, including State Rep. Brian Sims.

“Jim Kenney has been a tireless advocate for the LGBT community for nearly 25 years,” Sims said. “From the fight for domestic partner benefits in the 1990s to transgender health care in 2013, Jim has never abandoned the fight for equality even when it was politically unpopular. I look forward to working with him to stop LGBT discrimination in our equality schools and throughout Philadelphia.”

On Wednesday, state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams held his own press conference at the William Way LGBT Community Center, where he stood with seven other LGBT leaders, including Mel Heifetz, whom Williams touted as “a nationally renowned LGBT activist and philanthropist.”

“I believe in the power of diversity and I believe Philadelphia is strongest when it embraces inclusion and equality,” Williams said in a statement. “As early as 1995, I was one of only two legislators who, in the face of great opposition, spoke out and voted against narrowly defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman.”

Solomon, author of Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits – and Won, said that LBGT voters look to community leaders for guidance on which candidate to choose. But having leaders who support different candidates is not necessarily a negative, he said.

“You want a situation where the top candidates are all stalwart supporters of equality and you can decide your vote based on their platforms and what they’ll do for the city.”

Alejandro Morales, a gay stand-up comedian and screenwriter who lives in Philly, offered a humorous take on the candidates’ courtship of the LGBT vote.

“They really seem to be in a desperate hurry to collect gay friends. Even single girls without prom dates are like, ‘Relax,’ ” Morales joked.


On Twitter: @wendyruderman


Article source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/mayor/20150329_LGBT_vote_is_crucial_for_mayoral_candidates.html

Goa minister does flip flop on LGBT cure centres

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Panaji, March 27 (IANS) Two months after Goa Sports Minister Ramesh Tawadkar announced plans to establish centres to cure LGBT youth with medication, he has officially denied any such plans.

In a written reply tabled on Friday during the budget session of the Goa legislative assembly, Tawadkar said Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) youth were identified as a target group in the newly launched Goa State Youth Policy, but denied any plans to set up centres to ‘cure’ them.

“Under the target groups, there is a mention of Stigmatized Youth (LGBT). However, the Youth Policy does not state that focused attention will be required to be given to LGBT,” Tawadkar said, while also formally denying any plans to set up centres for them.

In January this year, Tawadkar while launching the Policy, told reporters that his ministry had plans to set up centres on the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous to cure LGBT youth.

“We will make them normal. We will have a centre for them. Like Alcoholic Anonymous centres, we will have centres…We will train them and (give them) medicines too,” Tawadkar had said.

The comment triggered national outrage forcing Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar to intervene and publicly reprimand Tawadkar.

Tawadkar, in his reply, has also said that LGBT had been identified as a target group in the National Youth Policy itself.

Article source: http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/goa-minister-does-flip-flop-lgbt-cure-centres-074621683.html

Apple CEO Calls on Gov. Hutchinson to Veto Anti-LGBT Discriminatory Bill

Friday, March 27th, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. (News release) – Today, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, decried Indiana’s new anti-LGBT law allowing individuals to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people and other minorities while calling on Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto a similar bill being sent to his desk.

Cook tweeted:

“Apple is open for everyone. We are deeply disappointed in Indiana’s new law and calling on Arkansas Gov. to veto the similar #HB1228.”

“Around the world, we strive to treat every customer the same — regardless of where they come from, how they worship or who they love.”

Earlier today, HRC President Chad Griffin issued the following statement after the Senate passed the anti-LGBT bill: “This bill is a poison pill for jobs and investment in the state of Arkansas, and Governor Hutchinson has a duty to veto it. If he does not, his reputation will be forever stained and the people of the state of Arkansas will suffer for his willingness to cater to a small political faction whose sole intent is to discriminate against their fellow Arkansans.”

The bill has been opposed by Wal-Mart, Apple, and the Arkansas Municipal League for weeks. Yesterday, following the enactment of a similar bill in Indiana, a wave of high-tech companies like Yelp and Salesforce—precisely the kinds of investment Governor Hutchinson has said he hopes to attract to the state—have condemned this kind of legislation.

Additionally, civil rights legend Julian Bond issued a statement late yesterday explicitly condemning the Arkansas legislation:

“H.B. 1228 in Arkansas opens the door to a hateful past that some had thought this country had left behind. This legislation cloaks discrimination in the guise of religion–and it will mark people of color, LGBT Arkansans, religious minorities and women as second class citizens. Governor Hutchinson has a duty and a moral obligation to veto this legislation or the ghosts of the past will haunt his legacy.”

At a press conference in Little Rock yesterday, HRC announced that the organization will run a full-page ad in the San Jose Mercury News spotlighting pending legislation in Arkansas targeting LGBT people and religious minorities. The ad will runSunday, noting if Governor Hutchinson allows the bill to become law, he will be ignoring the opposition of employers like Apple, Wal-Mart and other companies who opposed the legislation. A digital version of the ad will also begin running today on various tech websites and will soon start running on the digital properties of the Wall Street Journal.

In addition, Griffin delivered a formal invitation to Governor Hutchinson to travel with him to New York City next Tuesday to attend a gathering of more than 250 C-suite executives of Fortune 500 companies and other major businesses—corporations whose investment potential collectively totals in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Each of these companies has scored a 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI)—demonstrating their core commitment to treating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees fairly and equally under the law.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Article source: http://www.fox16.com/story/d/story/apple-ceo-calls-on-gov-hutchinson-to-veto-anti-lgb/89099/pNVEMF9Q2EeQjlWqUlT_Dw

Op-ed: The Slow Death of Gay Gathering Places May Be Aiding HIV

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Here in Massachusetts, we are seeing extraordinary success in fighting HIV. Last November, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that just one-third of Americans living with HIV had the virus under control — meaning it is nearly undetectable in their blood. Yet in Massachusetts it is the reverse: almost two thirds, or 64 percent, of residents with HIV have nearly undetectable levels of the virus.

Given that those who have achieved this level of viral suppression are unlikely to pass along HIV to others, it is not surprising that Massachusetts has seen a 41 percent decline in the rate of new HIV diagnoses since 2000.

The good news is that any state in the country can achieve what Massachusetts has achieved — provided there is the political will to do so. The first step is to give those living with HIV access to health insurance that will cover HIV care. In 2001, Massachusetts extended access to its Medicaid program to anyone living with a diagnosis of HIV.

The second step is to fund a strong network of case management and community-based support services to help those living with HIV adhere to treatment regimens. After all, it’s next to impossible to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor if you are living in a homeless shelter and do not have a safe place to store your medicine.

Last, and most importantly for gay and bisexual men, the state’s long history of leadership on advancing LGBT equality has dramatically lessened the antigay stigma that research has shown makes gay men more vulnerable to HIV infection. In the 12 months after the 2003 Massachusetts high court ruling in favor of marriage equality, Fenway Health in Boston — a community health center that focuses on the LGBT community — saw a 13 percent drop in medical care visits by gay and bisexual men.

So what’s the bad news?

The bad news is that we can’t point to a clearly defined roadmap that will result in making transmission of HIV a rare event, much less getting new infection rates to zero, a goal touted in World AIDS Day slogans.

What we do have, though, is an intriguing theory about what might work: building community.

There is a growing body of research that tells us community involvement and support promotes physical health, mental health, and longevity in HIV-positive individuals. Last month, a new study published in the journal AIDS and Behavior found that gay and bisexual men with strong social supports were less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. But the findings were mixed, and researchers concluded that further studies evaluating the role of social support in HIV prevention were “urgently needed,” and prevention interventions promoting social support “should consider specific needs of different populations in different stages of their lives.”

Might community-building efforts targeted at middle-aged and older gay men — who may become more vulnerable to HIV infection and substance use as they age due to loneliness and social isolation — further slow the transmission of HIV?

Many older gay men came of age at time when finding a cohesive, supportive community of other men could easily be found at gay bars, in gay neighborhoods, “coming out” groups, and numerous other gay affinity groups. But the Internet, which has greatly facilitated dating and casual sex, and mainstream society’s growing acceptance of LGBT people — while a boon in so many ways to LGBT health — has meant that there are fewer gay-specific spaces where men can socialize with one another in person.

We also know that separate from HIV, older LGBT adults are less likely to access mainstream elder services out of fear they will experience discrimination from their heterosexual peers or service providers. But new research shows that LGBT seniors benefit greatly from community-building activities such as congregate meals. The social supports these meals provide are so important to LGBT elders, that many will travel an hour or more to attend a congregate meal program with other LGBT elders.

Throughout our history, LGBT people have relied on community to survive our common experiences of prejudice, rejection, violence, and discrimination. In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, we provided the social support and emotional comfort to one another that no one else would. As a community we researched and pushed for more effective treatments, advocated for fair and productive policy changes, and fought back against homophobia and stigma.

In Massachusetts and elsewhere, as we look for ways to make transmission of HIV a rare event and further improve the health of LGBT people, we might find the road to the future by looking to the past.

SEAN CAHILL, Ph.D., is Director of Health Policy Research at The Fenway Institute and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Administration at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. He is also co-author of the book LGBT Youth in America’s Schools.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/03/27/op-ed-slow-death-gay-gathering-places-may-be-aiding-hiv

LGBT Rights Group Launches Ad Campaign Against AR Bill

Friday, March 27th, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, AR — An LGBT rights group is planning to spend tens of thousands of dollars warning some of the nations top companies to stay away from Arkansas.

It comes in response to a bill supporters say protects religious freedom but opponents believe allows discrimination.

The Human Rights Campaign says the ad will run Sunday in the San Jose Mercury News. It’s the biggest newspapers in Silicon Valley in California.

It says Arkansas is “closed for business due to discrimination.”

On the day Governor Asa Hutchinson announced his pick to head the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, he was peppered with questions about the bill known as the Conscience Protection Act.

Opponents have labeled it an attack on the LGBT community, but Governor Hutchinson said Thursday that he would sign the bill as currently amended.

“I think it’s a bill that puts a high priority on religious freedom,” Hutchinson said.

“The actual truth of what this legislation does is provide a license to discriminate in the state of Arkansas,” said HRC President Chad Griffin

The bill bars infringement on “sincerely held religious believes” without a “compelling government interest.” Supporters often point to the scenario of a Christian baker being forced to make a wedding cake for a gay marriage. During a press conference Thursday, Griffin was asked about the wedding cake scenario. He pointed to the struggle for African American civil rights saying all discrimination in public accommodations should be illegal.

HRC plans to spend more than $25,000 on an ad campaign urging the governor to veto the bill.

Article source: http://www.nwahomepage.com/story/d/story/lgbt-rights-group-launches-ad-campaign-against-ar/20444/qPg1_-6F-0KsAQM-6KTDYw

LGBT Persian Jews live in changing times

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Photo is the flyer from JQInternational

Although attitudes are becoming increasingly accepting toward homosexuality in the Jewish community, prejudices remain in the typically more conservative Persian community. To help bridge the gap, JQ International — a nonprofit, Los Angeles-based organization dedicated to supporting LGBT Jews — held a celebration of Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

The March 19 event, held at Spice Affair Indian restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills, drew more than 100 people, including Jews and Muslims, for dancing, drinking and shmoozing from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Attendees enjoyed Persian snack food, Indian entrees and cocktails and filled the dance floor as a DJ played upbeat Persian sounds. 

As the evening went on, the energy of the room went up a notch. Couples and groups boogied on the floor, showing off traditional Persian moves — arms extended outward and rotating in circular motions, knees bent — and even the older members of the mostly male crowd were showing signs of life. 

Among those celebrating Nowruz, whose official observance was March 21, was a 74-year-old man named Jansheed, who declined to provide his last name and who came from Newport Beach for the event.

“I was always out — I was never in,” he told the Journal when asked when he came out of the closet.

Born Muslim, the man described himself as nonreligious. He attributed the growing acceptance of LGBT people to education and “television, radio and newspapers that say, ‘It’s all right to be gay.’ ”  

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Asher Gellis, executive director of JQ International, said this was the first time the organization coordinated an event specifically for the LGBT Persian community. The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and ROI Community helped put on the event. 

JQ International board of directors member Shervin Khorramian, who spent his 20s living in Asia and Europe, according to the JQ International website, said there was a specific goal to the gathering. 

“This event is really a chance for us to get the Persian community together, specifically, the gay Persian community,” he said. “It’s an effort to get people together and create a Persian community for the gay Persians of this city.”

Many of the attendees at the event were still in the closet, Gellis said. 

Attendee David Kianmahd indicated that this type of party could be just the beginning, as more gay Persian Jews come out of the closet and parents of LGBT Persian Jews have to change their attitudes if they are still hanging on to biases against homosexuality.

“I feel like there is this new, young generation starting to come out,” he said. “It’s kind of forcing parents to deal with it.”

Meanwhile, Khorramian, 44, who said he came out to his friends and family approximately 20 years ago, has been dedicating his life to promoting inclusion for LGBT Persian Jews ever since. He drew a parallel between his personal journey and that of the larger community. 

“It’s been a real step-by-step process, learning to accept, having them [my family] accept back — it’s been a give-and-take, and now I can say after 22 years, we’ve really crossed the Rubicon. This is it, we’ve crossed the point where we are in a position of being accepted. Fifty years from now, we are going to look back, and we will no longer have to say whether we are out or not, we just are,” he said. “We’re taking that final journey.” 

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Article source: http://www.jewishjournal.com/los_angeles/article/lgbt_persian_jews_live_in_changing_times

Catholic Mission, Religious Freedom & LGBT Rights: Part III

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

I wish to close out my series on religious liberty LGBT rights issues today by examining the situation in San Francisco, the recent adoption of an LGBT non-discrimination law that was backed by the Mormon Church in Utah, and ask if we Catholics can’t find a better way to approach these issues. After all, this summer the Supreme Court is likely to make a final decision on same sex marriage and the bishops have to decide how to promote and proclaim the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family in a society that understands marriage very differently. And, once gay marriage is accepted nationally, we can anticipate that gay activists will pursue non-discrimination laws nationwide. I would submit that an endless round of litigation is not the best way for the Church to promote Her own teachings.  

Here at NCR we have covered extensively the decision by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone to make additions to the faculty handbook for Catholic school teachers. Those additions make it appear that the real essence of Catholic identity is not our sacramental understanding of grace, nor even our confession that Jesus is Lord, nor our belief in the communion of the saints, but the fact that we do not think same sex marriage is really marriage. A few years back, when he was still the Bishop of San Diego, +Cordielone was one of the leaders of the effort to ban gay marriage in California. Pope Benedict XVI said the Church proposes, it does not impose, but when you are raising millions of dollars for a political campaign, it sure looks like an attempt to impose. Finally, at the USCCB meeting last year, I noticed that +Cordileone couldn’t even bring himself to say the word “gay,” preferring to call gays and lesbians “people who experience a same sex attraction.” My mother taught me that it is rude to refer to people in a manner that is consistently different from the way they choose to refer to themselves.

In a recent article praising Archbishop Cordileone’s additions to the faculty handbook discussed in the link above, George Weigel wrote, “like it or not, the culture war is interested in you—and responding is an evangelical imperative.” Given the source, this is kind of funny. You will recall that, when asked by the Wall Street Journal before the last conclave what kind of pope the Church needed, Weigel answered “a culture warrior.” And, a case can be made that Weigel, who is still too influential with the U.S. hierarchy, has been promoting the culture wars for twenty years. Now that he is losing, he begins to blame the other side.

And, strangely, these culture warriors adopt a self-pitying stance, arguing that they the persecuted. In his biography of Pope Francis, Austen Ivereigh recalls the Synod on Evangelization in 2012. He focuses on the Church in Europe but the same could be said of the Church in the U.S. He writes:

In Ignatian terms, the European Church was no longer the source Church: turned in on itself, excessively focused on the shadows, with an exaggerated fear of perceived threats. Why else was it that an Asian or Middle East bishop whose flocks were deprived of basic liberties, or even being killed or bombed, could be so hopeful and joyful, yet bishops in a Church where nobody suffered that real kind of persecution spoke as if Christianity faced annihilation?

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Bergoglio saw that the rich-world Church was blaming the culture, rather than itself, for its decline. But the first obstacle was not the culture, but the Church, which was no longer evangelizing. It had allowed the living water to go stale. It had become comfortable, worldly, self-sufficient, “disenchanted.” The problem was that “we have Jesus tied up in the Sacristy,” he told the Caritas retreatants. Citing a verse from the book of Revelation about Jesus standing at the gate, calling, Bergoglio said he had come to see that it wasn’t about Jesus knocking to be let in, but about Jesus being trapped on the inside, asking to be let out.

The culture warrior approach distorts, then cripples, and finally kills the Church, from the inside, inviting the kind of narcissistic self-promotion that gave the Pharisees a bad name.

In America, this clerical culture war sensibility has been linked with a deference to lawyers and the legal strategies they suggest.  Ours is a litigious culture and the bishops are not the first people to forget that the lawyers work for them, they do not work for the lawyers. This deference to the lawyers led bishop after bishop into a quagmire regarding clergy sex abuse. It is doing the same in regard to the HHS mandate: True, the Church did not ask for this fight with the administration, and President Obama shoulders most of the blame for starting a controversy no one needed. Nonetheless,  as I write these words, multiple Catholic plaintiffs have asserted that the mandate violates their conscience. This is not exactly true, or those same plaintiffs would be planning to shutter our charities and ministries if we lose the case. Surely, no bishop, serving in the era of Pope Francis, is thinking about shutting down their ministries to the poor if they lose their lawsuit against the HHS mandate, in which case, the mandate does not exactly violate their conscience. The lack of veracity is bad enough, but more worrisome is the acquiescence of too many churchmen in a strategy that makes the Church look anything but transcendent: We are just another special interest group, hiring a team of lawyers, and slugging it out with our opponents in the courts. And, we wonder why people do not view the Church more favorably? Bishops, so focused on the legal strategy, do not stop and ask the question: Is this helping us evangelize anybody?  

My friends at the Becket Fund, and other legal practitioners whose focus is litigating religious liberty suits, object that their concerns are not paranoid if religious liberty is really at risk. In 1993, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed the U.S. House unanimously and the U.S. Senate by a margin of 97-3, and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, but it is far from clear that RFRA could pass today. That is shocking and it prompts the question: What happened? Part of the problem is the confused state of liberalism which has become unmoored from its foundational commitment to the freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment. Women’s groups and gay rights groups call themselves liberal, but wish to gut the free exercise of religion clause.  I linked Tuesday to an article in the Times about how liberal arts schools now restrict speech on campus and seem less concerned with stimulating inquiry and more concerned with providing therapy for those who feel “bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs.” Isn’t “being bombarded by a lot of viewpoints” one of the objectives of a liberal education? Foolish the person who forgets their prized treasure: For liberals, the First Amendment is a prized treasure, and  liberal education is a prized treasure, but those prizes have been battered and even denied by the identity politics of our culture. Combined with the otherwise noble concern for equality, identity politics can become a sledge hammer against civil society and that should worry everyone, not just Catholics. That said, Hosanna Tabor, from which I quoted yesterday, was decided on an 8-0 vote, so the First Amendment is not going anywhere soon.

The Church also must shoulder some of the blame. I do not think we can overstate the degree to which the clergy sex abuse crisis harmed the public image of the Church. But, I also think we cannot overstate the degree to which the Church’s often inflammatory opposition to the efforts of the LGBT community to secure its human rights has harmed the Church too. While bishops became more and more strident, the average Catholic was laughing with “Will Grace,” and we weren’t afraid of Will, we were afraid of Karen! I also think the culture warriors failed to understand how the AIDS epidemic affected both the LGBT community and their neighbors. It is not only that abusing those who are suffering so terribly is rightly considered obscene, it is that something deep in the Christian imagination reminds us that suffering is a mark of God’s special favor: Those who are broken-hearted, He will save. The culture warriors missed this, but the rest of us did not.

The Mormon Church recently decided to stop digging into its trenches in the culture wars and, instead, see if they could not find a way to dig out. Utah is not like most other states: It has a unique political and legal culture, to be sure. Still, by all accounts, the key things that allowed the Church of Latter Day Saints and Utah’s LGBT community to come to agreement on a non-discrimination law for the state mostly had to do with attitude, with mutual respect, with a discussion of mutual concerns. It turns out there are gay people who appreciate the separation and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment and there are Mormon elders who find that their new gay neighbors are really helpful on the community watch and have spruced up their house. The leaders of the Mormon church met with gay rights groups for what were termed “confidence building” meetings. And, there were enough politicians who were tired of the polarization.

If you read the article about Utah linked above, you will note that the non-discrimination laws in Utah, for whatever reason, do not historically apply to public accommodations only to housing and employment. So, I have to ask the question: What is it with the bakeries? Why is that whenever we read an article about religious exemptions for same sex marriage anti-discrimination suits, we end up asking if a baker must cook a wedding cake for a gay couple’s wedding reception. Conservative business groups, like the Chamber of Commerce, are increasingly opposing any exemptions to non-discrimination laws because they worry that a few puritanical bakers may give a whole city a bad name. But, really, where is the objection? Is baking a cake for somebody in any way, shape or form cooperation with evil? I understand that the concept of cooperation with evil is an important one, but really, it cannot be allowed to dominate our thinking or else we are halfway to becoming that Church turned in on itself of which then-Cardinal Bergoglio spoke to the Caritas retreatants.

It turns out, non-discrimination isn’t just for Mormons anymore. While I was working on this series, the bishops’ conference of the Philippines endorsed a non-discrimination law in that country. Their statement of support for the non-discrimination law could scarcely be more forthcoming:

Insofar as the proposed piece of legislation renders illegitimate the relegation of persons with sexual orientation and gender identity issues to citizens of a lower category enjoying fewer rights, the CBCP cannot but lend its support to this proposed legislative measure.

The Filipino bishops note that this conclusion in no way affects the Church’s judgment regarding homosexual acts, and they note that they alone, as bishops, control admission to the priesthood. But, it also calls non-discrimination “a Christian imperative” and explains that the Church should do more to educate society that it is morally wrong to deny any person their fundamental human rights on account of their sexual orientation: “In this regard, the Church has much to contribute towards the education of Catholics to be more accepting of others and to see through appearances the Lord present in each brother and sister.” One imagines that if Fr. Jenkins had issued such a statement when Notre Dame extended benefits, the zelanti would have started a fire to burn him at the stake! 

The USCCB meets in June and they should consider a few resolutions that might improve their ability to preach the Gospel in twenty-first century America. First, they should simply stop fighting efforts to extend benefits to people. You are not approving everything a person does in their life when you take steps to make sure they have health care and retirement benefits or bake them a cake. Second, resist the urge to let the lawyers craft a legal strategy to the issue of non-discrimination: The lawyers will want a clear policy but the Church must look at the person, the whole person, when assessing their suitability for a ministerial position. Third, try and craft a non-discrimination policy with which you can live, and do not work too hard to see that it includes for-profit companies that offer the public a service. Yes, Hobby Lobby won their suit, and I am glad they did. The government should have provided a less burdensome means of achieving its objective, and it did not. But, the image of the Church as perpetual litigant is one that must be resisted because it obscures what we are really about, which is evangelization. This is especially the case when it comes to family issues. The young people I meet truly want to have lifelong, committed, loyal, and loving marriages. They want to have babies together. But, they will not listen if we always seem headed into court to keep gay people excluded in one way or another.

The culture warriors tell us that effective evangelization requires the drawing of sharp, distinct lines between our Catholic faith and the secular world. The Holy Father reminds us that all was created in Him and for Him and has been reconciled in Him, and bids us to get out into the world, show people the love we have in our hearts, and not worry overmuch displaying our own moral rectitude. Pope Francis wants a joyful Church, not a stern, meddling one. No one’s soul is imperiled by baking a cake for a gay couple, or extending health care benefits to a gay couple, and the Republic is not made more liberal by shrinking the First Amendment or marginalizing civil society actors like churches. With respect, rather than litigation, with compassion rather than treating the truth like a wet rag that we throw in people’s faces (to borrow a phrase), the Church can yet flourish in a pluralistic culture that accepts same sex marriage. But, if we proceed as we have been doing, our space in that culture will get smaller and smaller and then I do not see how we preach the good news about marriage and family that we wish to preach. There is a winsome quality to those who are truly joyful, a confidence in the Lord’s ability to reconcile all things. We see them in Pope Francis in spades. It is a quality and a confidence our bishops would do well to demonstrate too: It is our faith in the Joy of the Gospel that attracts, not “cold doctrine” as the Holy Father said this very morning

 

 

 

 

Article source: http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/catholic-mission-religious-freedom-lgbt-rights-part-iii

LGBT Community Working On Medford

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Ariana Rakhshani/KTVL.com

MEDFORD, Ore. — Rogue Valley LGBT Elders met for the first time with the people of Medford on Wednesday at the Medford Congregational United Church of Christ.

Their goal at the town hall meeting was to strengthen the LGBT community in the city, and to get an idea of what the Medford community wants.

The Elders are a newer non-profit that was organized after the documentary GenSilent was shown in Medford and Ashland. The documentary followed 6 LGBT seniors who had to decide whether to hide their sexuality in order to survive in the long-term health care system.

Their goal is to create community and social change while ensuring the safety and well-being of LGBT older adults.

The non-profit said it wants to meet once a month with the people of Medford.
LGBT Community Working On Medford

Article source: http://www.ktvl.com/shared/news/top-stories/stories/ktvl_lgbt-community-working-medford-15659.shtml

Williams also gets some LGBT love

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Nearly two weeks after several LGBT leaders stood around the William Way Community Center expressing their support for Jim Kenney in the mayoral race, another group of LGBT leaders got together inside the same building to support rival Anthony H. Williams.

Williams said it’s not a division but a difference of opinion.

“There’s no monolithic community,” he said. “There’s no African American vote, Latino vote, LGBT community vote.”

At the Williams endorsement, LGBT activists and leaders Wade Albert, Antonio Boone, Ennes and Jim Littrell, and philanthropist Mel Heinfetz said they believe Williams is the best for the mayor’s job because of his experience and connections in Harrisburg.

“He’s the one person who knows how to step across the aisle, he’s very respected in Harrisburg,” Heifetz said, adding that Williams helped get funding for the Williams Way Community Center, which predominantly serves the LGBT community, and the John C. Anderson Apartments, which offer affordable housing to LGBT seniors.

“The fact that he got funding, $21 million, for a gay project in Philadelphia says something,” Heifetz said.

Heifetz, major political donor who gave Obama $1 million in his 2012 reelection campaign, said he would also be providing some political funding for the Williams campaign.

During the endorsement event Williams spoke about the similarities between the LGBT and African American communities and said as mayor he would work to have diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the city.

“I do believe this relationship between the LGBT community and African American Community is very, very significant,” Williams said. “It’s significant because we’ve been stereotyped… Whatever is your gift in life, it doesn’t define it because of your sexual orientation or the color of your skin.”

The Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club will be hosting a mayoral candidates forum tonight. Both Williams and Kenney will be there.

Click here for Philly.com’s politics page.


Article source: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/heardinthehall/Williams-also-gets-some-LGBT-love.html

End-of-life planning website launched for LGBT seniors

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

By Scott Haggett CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Alberta, the Canadian province that is the largest source of U.S. crude oil imports, will ask citizens to pay more …

Article source: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/end-life-planning-website-launched-142112758.html

Here’s J.K. Rowling’s Perfect Tweet About Dumbledore’s Sexuality

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

The author often tackles LGBT issues in the wizarding community on social media

Whether she has 896 pages or 140 characters, J.K. Rowling always finds room to spout infinite wisdom.

On Tuesday, a fan tweeted to the social media-friendly writer to ask about Dumbledore being gay, which was revealed after Rowling finished the Harry Potter series. “I wonder why you said that Dumbledore is a gay because I can’t see him in that way,” Ana Kocovic said.

Rowling’s response was short, sassy, and spot on:

The fan responded positively to Rowling’s answer:

This isn’t Rowling’s first time talking about LGBT issues in the wizarding community on Twitter. When a fan asked if Hogwarts was a safe place for LGBT students in December, Rowling responded by tweeting an image made by the Youth Project, based in Nova Scotia:

Article source: http://time.com/3756860/jk-rowling-harry-potter-dumbledore-gay/

Hartford 10th In Nation In LGBT Percentage

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

The Hartford metropolitan area ranks 10th in the nation for percentage of its adult population that identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, according to a recent report.

About 4.6 percent of the Hartford-area respondents said they were gay, bisexual or transgender, according to Gallup daily tracking interviews conducted between June 2012 and December 2014.

Dashboard 1

The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area had the highest LGBT percentage of the 50 top metro areas, followed by Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; New Orleans; Seattle; and Boston.

Connecticut allowed same-sex couples to join in civil unions in 2005, the second state in the United States to adopt civil unions. Gay marriage has been legal in Connecticut since November 2008. Massachusetts and California legalized gay marriage earlier.

Birmingham, Ala., has the lowest LGBT rate, at 2.6 percent, according to the poll. Pittsburgh, Memphis, and San Jose, Calif., also have low LGBT rates.

“Eight of the 10 MSAs with the lowest percentages are in the South or Midwest, the two regions of the country where LGBT identification among adults tends to be lowest and where social stigma toward LGBT people can be relatively high,” according to the report. “Alabama, home to Birmingham, has made news lately as its state Supreme Court has resisted implementation of a federal court order to allow same-sex couples to marry. Among the ranked MSAs, Pittsburgh has the highest proportion of seniors in the population.”

Copyright © 2015, Hartford Courant

Article source: http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-hartford-10th-in-nation-in-lgbt-percentage-20150324-story.html?track=rss

Op-ed: What's Putting Your Health in Danger

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

It’s hard to believe that not that long ago, health care providers seldom discussed treating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients. Twenty years ago, when I was studying to become a nurse-practitioner, I remember doing both online and library journal searches about lesbian and gay health care: I was disappointed to find only a handful of articles and research studies that addressed our health issues.

Of the few articles that were around, most focused on homophobia among health care professionals, lesbian and gay patients’ negative experiences, and high rates of youth suicidality. There was virtually nothing about transgender health.

At the time, I thought back to the early 1980s, when, as a young lesbian patient, I went to a new doctor for a physical. She asked the usual question “Are you sexually active?” When I answered “Yes,” she followed automatically with “What are you using for birth control?”

“Nothing,” I said. “I don’t need birth control. I’m a lesbian.”

Her response made me very uncomfortable. She literally sucked in her breath in a gasp and abruptly said, “Well, I don’t see why that’s any of my business.”

I wasn’t a health care provider at that time, and a medical career wasn’t even on my radar screen. Thirty years later, after 18 years of providing primary care, I can’t imagine  making a patient feel uncomfortable or embarrassed for revealing anything personal about his or her life — and yes, your sexuality is my business if you choose to share it with me.

Sadly, for decades, denial of services, hostile responses, and downright rude comments when a patient shared being LGBT were fairly common. Although there’s been progress, debunking the many myths that exist among health professionals about caring for LGBT people remain a barrier toward creating an equal and safe health environment.

There are many places where LGBT patients, particularly trans patients, are still treated poorly. This is unacceptable, and the law and ethics will be on our side on this, even though human nature can lag behind. In places where we have gained respect and acceptance, it’s now time to educate health care providers and those of us who have been disenfranchised regarding our health care needs.

Few people who are not LGBT are aware of the various health disparities that exist for us. For example, there continues to be a high suicide rate among LGBT people, particularly among youth. Studies also indicate that nearly two-thirds of transgender people have attempted suicide at some point.

Other examples of disparities are that lesbians are theorized to be at higher risk for breast cancer, possibly due to higher rates of smoking and obesity, less likelihood of having children, and less likelihood of accessing preventive health care. Lesbians are also the only demographic group with an increased rate of smoking as they get older. And lesbians, like all women, need to be routinely screened for HPV and cervical cancer, but there are still many patients as well as providers who do not realize that lesbians are at risk. Also, some gay men have a higher risk of HPV and anal cancer.

In the case of transgender patients, many have very specific needs that may require the attention of knowledgeable primary care providers or specialists, such as endocrinologists for proper hormone treatment. However, due to past negative encounters with health care providers, fear of being treated poorly, a lack of providers who know about transgender health care, or lack of health insurance that will cover their needed services, many transgender patients are not comfortable seeking care from the proper channels.

Some transgender people instead resort to treating themselves with hormones they acquire on the street or via the Internet. I’ve known both patients and friends who have done this because they either couldn’t afford to go to health care providers or were afraid to. Without access to medical care, they were unable to have the lab work and other monitoring recommended for safe hormone use.   

Educating providers about LGBT health issues and the various sensitivities involved is a critical first step. We need safer health care environments where LGBT people feel comfortable. Medical history questions need to be tailored in such a way that they are inclusive of lifestyle changes and sensitive to transgender association (e.g., preferred name/preferred pronoun).

As health care providers, we have a responsibility to help patients understand that there are safe and no-hostile environments where they can openly speak about their needs. Similarly, providers need to continue receiving sensitivity training so that they can ask the proper questions about patients’ medical history and thereby have a clear grasp on what is going on in their patients’ lives. 

As LGBT patients become more visible and open, and as studies increasingly show the disparities in health care for this largely underserved population, there has been increased interest in this topic. On a national level, the groundbreaking March 2011 Institute of Medicine report, “The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding,” highlighted many of the specific health care needs of LGBT patients.

The authors also called on the National Institutes of Health to include sexual orientation and gender identity questions in federally funded studies. The Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization that accredits more than 20,000 health care organizations (accreditation is often a requirement for state licensure and reimbursements), now requires hospitals to include LGBT status in their nondiscrimination policies. 

For the first time, we have genuine buy-in for LGBT-targeted research and know substantially more about LGBT health than we did two decades ago. The NIH initiative will yield more important data in the coming decades. With attention on the topic and mandates to provide culturally competent care, health care organizations and schools will likely have a greater need for qualified experts on LGBT health to take leadership roles — proving the importance of training and education at all levels to provide equal, quality care.

 

CINDY LEIFFER, MSN, NP, has worked as a locum tenens nurse practitioner with Weatherby Healthcare and also works for a hospital-based clinic in Bangor, Maine. She is the author of the blog The Glass is Half Empty and I’m Drinking the Rest: Adventures of an Urban Jewish Lesbian Nurse Practitioner In Rural Maine.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/03/24/op-ed-whats-putting-your-health-danger

Opinion: Nev. considers anti-LGBT legislation

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

By Stephen Peters

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, sounded the alarm on anti-LGBT legislation in Nevada — SB272 in the Senate and AB277 in the Assembly — that threatens jobs, the state economy, and undermines the state’s civil rights laws. The legislation would allow people to use their religion to challenge or opt out of various laws, including state and local laws, that protect LGBT people and other minorities from discrimination.

“This legislation undermines the enforcement of state non-discrimination protections and will expose Nevada business owners to a wave of lawsuits,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “It has the potential to cause serious harm to the business climate in the state, putting jobs at risk, and making major corporations think twice about investing in the state. To put it simply, this legislation threatens Nevada’s strong pro-business reputation.”

The legislation will bring harmful and unintended consequences to those who call Nevada home, inviting costly legal challenges and making the Silver State unwelcoming to both residents and visitors. Nearly 500,000 jobs and 29 percent of the state’s employment is a direct result of tourism to Nevada. Jeopardizing the state’s standing as one of the greatest places for people to live and visit, the harm this bill may cause doesn’t end with the LGBT community: an evangelical police officer could feel empowered to refuse to patrol a Jewish street festival; a city clerk could shirk the law and refuse a marriage license to an interracial couple, a divorcee seeking to remarry, or a lesbian couple; an EMT could claim the law is on his side after refusing service to a dying transgender person in the street; and the enforcement of other key sections of state civil rights law could be dramatically undermined.

Major corporations have spoken out strongly against similar bills in other states. In response to one such anti-LGBT bill threatening economic growth and business in Arkansas, both Apple and Wal-Mart spoke out in opposition to precisely this kind of legislation. And Wal-Mart and Apple are not alone. Last year, major multinational corporations including American Airlines, Marriott, PetSmart and many other companies came out against a similar bill in Arizona, concerned about how it would hurt their business and risk millions in economic activity if it became law.

The bill puts all state non-discrimination laws at risk of being undermined. It threatens not just the LGBT community, but women, members of minority faiths and other minority classes.

Stephen Peters works for the Human Rights Campaign.

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Article source: http://www.laketahoenews.net/2015/03/opinion-nev-considers-anti-lgbt-legislation/

Fabulous Las Vegas Welcomes LGBT Events

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

LAS VEGAS , March 24, 2015 /CNW/ – Las Vegas is thrilled to welcome a wide-variety of special events, conferences and programming specific to the LGBT community. From one end of the Strip to the other, Las Vegas is unassuming and welcomes the LGBT community, providing each person the opportunity to experience the trip of a lifetime.

Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas is set to make history as it hosts an official attempt to break the world record for “Largest Drag Stage Show” on April 12 . Everyone is invited to participate by donning the fashion of the opposite sex and channeling their fiercest drag queen or king. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. with drink specials and a chance to win a variety of auction items.

Created by lesbians for lesbians, Dinah Vegas celebrates its fourth year in Las Vegas with an amazing lineup of non-stop entertainment, gourmet dining, sunshine, and more, April 23 – 26. Caesars Entertainment welcomes the ladies in style with live entertainment from DJ Sara Moshiri, cocktail parties, Infinity Pool Party at Flamingo Las Vegas and the always anticipated Vegas White party at Chateau Nightclub at Paris Las Vegas .

Las Vegas will celebrate the LGBT Latino and Latina community with Orgullo Latino Las Vegas May 1 –3. Attendees will kick-off the weekend with a Latino Las Vegas concert and official opening party on May 1 . The fun doesn’t stop there. Attendees can experience the Orgullo Latino Family Festival and after-festival party on May 2 , followed by a pool party, “BANADA DE SOL,” and closing party on May 3 .

The Nevada Gay Rodeo Association brings the western lifestyle to Las Vegas with the BigHorn Rodeo, May 9 and 10, at Horseman’s Park. Attendees can cheer on cowboys or cowgirls in rough stock, speed and roping events, as well as enjoy comedy, entertainment and dancing during this weekend of western fun. The party keeps going with evening events at several Las Vegas bars and the BigHorn Pool Party at the event’s host hotel, Alexis Park All Suite Resort.

Back for its seventh season is Las Vegas’ longest running LGBT pool party, Temptation Sundays at Luxor Hotel Casino. This sexy poolside party takes place every Sunday May 17 through Sept. 27 , and features amazing DJs spinning the summer’s hottest soundtracks, specialty drinks and celebrations.

Las Vegas welcomes the biggest gay dance festival of the summer, Matinee Las Vegas , May 22 – 25. The four-day festival is celebrating its fifth year and will take over Rumor Hotel and The New Tropicana Las Vegas, with events at Rumor Pool, SHARE Nightclub and Vanity Nightclub at Hard Rock Hotel Casino. Rooms are still available at The New Tropicana Las Vegas. Splashing in for the first time is a special evening event at Cowabunga Bay Water Park on May 23 . Matinee Las Vegas features eight parties, 20 DJs and welcomes thousands of LGBT partiers from around the world. Those interested in dance music can enter the Matinee Las Vegas 2015 DJ contest to win a prize package, including flights, accommodations and a guest DJ set at the main party.  

The Las Vegas Showgirl Invitational bowling tournament is Sept. 4 – 6. The event takes place at Sam’s Town Hotel Gambling Hall and includes team competition, as well as singles and doubles tournaments all weekend long. Join local bowlers and teams from across the U.S. in this fun LGBT bowling tournament.

For the fourth year in a row, Southern Nevada welcomes Gay Days Las Vegas, Sept. 8 – 14. This all-encompassing event features four full days of pool parties, guest DJ’s, a travel-retail expo and various events around town with a portion of all proceeds benefiting local non-profit organizations.

Las Vegas PRIDE takes place Sept. 18 and 19 with a lineup of events that celebrate the diversity and pride within the Las Vegas LGBT community. Events include the annual PRIDE Night Parade on Sept. 18 and PRIDE Festival, taking place in fabulous Downtown Las Vegas on Sept. 19 . Celebrate pride with members of the Las Vegas LGBT community and straight allies and enjoy an exciting weekend of events, entertainment and nightlife.

During Pride week, lesbians take over Las Vegas for a full weekend of events at Shedonism, Sept. 17 – 21. Hosted by DJ Lisa Pittman, and some of the hottest female DJs, this ladies-only event features day parties, nightclub experiences, pop stars, DJs, comedians, showgirls, a parade and more.

World Gay Rodeo Finals gallops into Las Vegas Oct. 9 – 11 and features everything from bull riding and roping events to barrel racing and steer decorating. The annual three-day event will be held at South Point Hotel, Casino Spa.

Las Vegas welcomes the Prime Timers Worldwide Convention Oct. 11 – 14 at Luxor Hotel and Casino. The convention takes place every two years and brings mature gay and bisexual men together for four days of tours, workshops, activities, friendship, support and personal growth.

To learn more about how LGBT special events or how to book a fabulous vacation, visit www.LasVegas.com/GayTravel.  

Journalists and news organizations can access hi-resolution photos and HD video of current Las Vegas events on our media center at www.thenewsmarket.com/LVCVA.

ABOUT THE LVCVA
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is charged with marketing Southern Nevada as a tourism and convention destination worldwide, and also with operating the Las Vegas Convention Center and Cashman Center.  With more than 150,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas alone and almost 11 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space citywide, the LVCVA’s mission centers on attracting ever increasing numbers of leisure and business visitors to the area.  For more information, go to www.lvcva.com or www.LasVegas.com.

PRESS CONTACT
Adrienne Prather-Marcos , RR Partners
T: 702.318.4386
adrienne.prather-marcos@rrpartners.com 

 

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fabulous-las-vegas-welcomes-lgbt-events-300054960.html

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LGBT advocates ponder how to benefit from Francis' visit

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

It was billed as a “Big Gay Brunch” in Cherry Hill, inspired by Pope Francis’ planned visit to Philadelphia.

Among the 20 guests were devout Catholic heterosexuals, a gay man raised as a Mormon, and an evangelical Christian crusader against human trafficking.

“We’re trying to figure out how to leverage this historic visit,” said organizer and host Jay Lassiter, a marriage equality and medical marijuana advocate and death penalty opponent.

“We want rational, sane, forward-thinking voices to be at the table.”

Francis is scheduled to be in Philadelphia for a portion of the church’s World Meeting of Families, which begins Sept. 22. As many as a million people could attend.

For that reason alone, it’s a not-to-be-missed opportunity for advocacy on issues important to me and millions of people, LGBT and otherwise.

The brunch’s eclectic (and substantially nongay) guest list included a heterosexual couple, both raised Catholic, who support same-sex marriage, and a woman who said she was raised Catholic but became an atheist after divorcing her closeted gay husband.

Also on hand were a self-described “High Episcopal” church member with two gay siblings, and the president of the Delaware Valley Chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

“We are a fellowship of like-minded people . . . and we can certainly add to the debate and the discussion,” said brunch organizer Kim Otto of Haddonfield, the mother of a gay son.

“My goal is for the World Meeting to hear that all families, regardless of their makeup, are worthy of dignity and respect,” she said.

“A hostile, intolerant church hurts families” of LGBT people, Lassiter said. “And that’s not cool.”

Several nongay brunch guests said they were heartened by what looks to them like a papacy in tune with progressive values.

“I’m very intrigued by the pope’s comments about climate change,” said Lori Braunstein, a founder of the Sustainable Cherry Hill organization.

“I love the pope’s views on wealth and inequality,” said Stephen Steglik, who lives in Maple Shade, works in marketing, and supports marriage equality.

The World Meeting, he added, is “a great opportunity to open up the conversation” about issues of social justice, as well as LGBT concerns.

Sunday’s brunch at the home Lassiter shares with Greg Lehmkuhl, his partner of 10 years, also was a step toward establishing a South Jersey chapter of Dignity USA, the national advocacy group for LGBT Catholics.

Otto and Lassiter said a local Dignity chapter could be an “organizing tool” for the group. Dignity was founded in 1969 and has a membership of about 6,000 spread across 35 chapters.

Yet Dignity has “not been invited to participate” in the World Meeting, executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke said from the organization’s Boston headquarters.

“There is a workshop on LGBT issues, and we have suggested speakers,” Duddy-Burke said. “We are organizing a pilgrimage, and we are looking at the possibility of having parallel workshops at a nearby site.

“But being on the official agenda? Probably not,” she said.

Donna Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families, said in an e-mail that “LGBT issues will certainly be addressed,” but added that the agenda “will also deal with a wide range of family issues,” including poverty and addiction.

She noted that 10,000 volunteers would be needed during the World Meeting, and “once registration opens, we encourage all who want to be part of this once-in-a-generation event to consider joining us.”

The church views homosexual sex as sinful and calls upon LGBT people to live celibate lives.

While Francis has given no indication he plans to change church policy about homosexuality, his pastoral approach and personal charisma suggest a willingness to listen.

“I think church leaders are struggling to find out what the [pope] is really about and where the church is going,” Duddy-Burke said. “It’s an opportunity for lay leaders to step into the void and have our voices heard.”

As the session ended, desserts were sliced and the organizers talked about the kinder, gentler Vatican that Francis seems to embody.

“For the first time in a long time,” Otto said, “I think we have hope.”

“I do, too,” Lassiter said.


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Article source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150324_LGBT_advocates_ponder_how_to_benefit_from_Francis__visit.html

Teacher hopes Southeast's first LGBT school will be a haven

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Math teacher Christian Zsilavetz wants to work at a school where he can be himself — somewhere he can mention that he used to play girls basketball or was married to a man.

Last year, when he asked his then-principal at a private school whether he could come out as transgender to his elementary and middle school students, she told him that she thought it would cross the line between professional and personal.

But still, she encouraged him: Why don’t you quit trying to fix other people’s schools and start your own?

Zsilavetz hopes to open Pride School Atlanta this summer, the first school in the Southeast to focus on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex (born with both female and male characteristics) students.

Homophobic attacks increase in seemingly gay-friendly Brazil

If it opens in August, it will be one of the first LGBT schools in the nation to cater to students as early as pre-kindergarten. Zsilavetz, who has a 6-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son, says the new school will be safe — not just for children, but for adults.

LGBT parents will no longer have to worry that their children might be teased for coming from an unconventional home. Teachers will be able to disclose whether they are gay, lesbian or transgender.

All students will be able to wear dresses or grow their hair, hold hands in the hallway or use whichever restroom they want without fear of harassment.

Many parents welcome the idea of a private LGBT school in Atlanta, the progressive hub of the Bible Belt and home to the largest gay and lesbian population in the Southeast. The question is whether enough will enroll their children so that the school can reach its modest goal of 10 to 15 students.

Although Georgia is one of 13 states with a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, many schools in Atlanta, and even in some suburban and rural areas, have made significant headway on LGBT issues.

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Social attitudes are shifting across the state as students set up gay-straight alliances, take members of the same sex to prom, and petition for gender-neutral restrooms.

Unlike many other states, such as California and New York, Georgia has no statewide anti-bullying or nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBT students. Yet in recent years, 20 counties — covering 58% of the state’s public students — have introduced policies that prohibit bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to Georgia Equality, the state’s largest gay rights group.

Still, tensions remain.

According to a 2013 study by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which surveyed nearly 8,000 U.S. middle and high school students, more than a third of Georgia students reported being physically harassed and nearly a fifth reported being physically assaulted in the last year because of their sexual orientation.

Utah passes landmark LGBT rights bill backed by Mormon leaders

Utah passes landmark LGBT rights bill backed by Mormon leaders Sarah Parvini Utahs Republican-controlled Legislature has passed a landmark bill that would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the workplace and housing market, while also protecting religious rights. Utahs Republican-controlled Legislature has passed a landmark bill that would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the workplace and housing market, while also protecting religious rights. ( Sarah Parvini ) –>

Nearly all heard “gay” used in a negative way and 9 out of 10 heard homophobic slurs.

Across the U.S., more than half of LGBT students reported experiencing discriminatory practices, such as being disciplined for public displays of affection or prevented from using a preferred name or pronoun.

Faith Yewdall, 33, an Atlanta home schooler, cannot afford Pride’s annual tuition of $12,000, but she hopes to sign up her 6-year-old son, Ziya, for some classes.

Last year, when she enrolled Ziya at a pre-kindergarten charter school, he was verbally and physically harassed by his classmates for having shoulder-length hair and carrying a My Little Pony backpack.

Administrators and teachers were supportive — the principal even wore Ziya’s purple glasses to inspire tolerance — but the harassment continued. After two weeks, Ziya suggested that he cut his hair and buy a new backpack.

Yewdall pulled him out of school. “He shouldn’t have to change to fit in,” she said.

If Pride opens this year, it will join a handful of LGBT schools across the country. Many of these schools, like their students, face challenges.

The nation’s first private gay high school, Walt Whitman Community School in Dallas, closed in 2004 after struggling with funding and accreditation. Harvey Milk High School in New York opened to much fanfare a decade ago as the first public LGBT school, but enrollment has plummeted in recent years from 100 students to 52.

Last year, the Alliance School in Milwaukee, a public charter that set up the first LGBT middle school in 2008, discontinued its sixth- through eighth-grade programs after state budget cuts.

Some experts are uneasy about the idea of separate LGBT schools.

“In general, I’m not in favor of separate but equal,” said Ritch Savin-Williams, a developmental psychology professor and director of the Sex Gender Lab at Cornell University.

In an ideal world, he argued, students would be integrating, negotiating friendships and learning how to resolve differences. “I don’t want to sacrifice kids to make a political point,” he said. “I just hate to let public schools off the hook. That’s the dilemma.”

In Atlanta, many parents balk at the idea of an LGBT elementary and middle school. For some, the issue is cost or the school’s lack of accreditation. Others say they have not experienced significant setbacks or prefer to strive for wider acceptance in the public system.

“Sending them to a LGBT school is not really setting them up for the real world,” said Kevin Payne-Owens, 38, a gay Atlanta hair stylist whose 12-year-old daughter, Marissa, attends a charter school. “I want her to be exposed to everything.”

So far, Payne-Owens had encountered only one problem: In pre-kindergarten, a classmate told Marissa that her family was not a family in the biblical sense. Other than that, everyone had been accepting.

Separate schools raise questions about how students resolve differences and develop resilience, said Emily Brown, a field officer for Georgia Equality. She welcomes Pride as a temporary option rather than a permanent solution to prejudice and discrimination in public schools.

Although the South gets a bad rap, problems are rarely caused by hate or mean-spiritedness, Brown said. Some issues, such as gender-neutral restrooms, are so new that administrators are unsure how to respond.

Still, there is disagreement on how far schools should go to enforce tolerance. Most experts agree that students who physically harass or assault others should be reprimanded, but some question how much teachers and administrators should police language in playgrounds, locker rooms and hallways.

“We’re never going to get rid of the word ‘fatty,’” Savin-Williams said. “‘That’s so gay’ is still there in kids’ lexicon. Cruel words are thrown out, but it’s not the same thing as being physically assaulted or threatened.”

Article source: http://latimes.com.feedsportal.com/c/34336/f/625246/s/44b2f1fb/sc/33/l/0L0Slatimes0N0Cabout0Cla0Ena0Egay0Eschool0E20A150A3230Estory0Bhtml0Dtrack0Frss/story01.htm

Kerry Washington Gives Powerful, Moving Speech at 2015 GLAAD Media Awards—Watch the Video and Read a Transcript!

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Kerry Washington, GLAAD Media AwardsJason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD

Kerry Washington drew cheers, including at least two standing ovations, when she gave a powerful, moving acceptance speech after being honored as an ally to the LGBT community at the 2015 GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday.

The 38-year-old actress, best known for her role as Olivia Pope in Scandal, was presented with the Vanguard Award by Ellen DeGeneres, who arrived at the event with her wife and show guest star Portia De Rossi.

“Thank you Ellen, thank you Ellen, thank you Ellen, thank you Ellen so much,” Washington said before launching into her acceptance speech. “We just love having you and your beautiful, extraordinary wife in our Scandal family. It’s a good night for Shondaland up in here!”

NEWS: Ellen DeGeneres Portia de Rossi weigh in on Dolce Gabbana “synthetic” babies remarks—watch!

The GLAAD Media Awards honor the media and its members for their “fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives.” The show How to Get Away With Murder, of which Scandal creator Shonda Rimes serves as an executive producer, won Outstanding Drama Series (check out a list of winners).

Watch Washington’s speech and also check out a full transcript.

“Being an ally means a great deal to me and so I am gonna say some stuff and I might be preaching to the choir but I’m gonna say it, not just for us, because on Monday morning, people are gonna click a link to hear what that woman from Scandal said on that awards show. So I think some stuff needs to be said.”

“There are people in this world who have the full rights of citizenship, in our communities, our countries, around the world, and then there are those of us who, to varying degrees, do not. We don’t have equal access to education, to health care and some other basic liberties like marriage, a fair voting process, fair hiring practices. Now, you would think that those kept from our full rights of citizenship would band together and fight the good fight. But history tells us that no, often, we don’t.”

PHOTO: Kerry Washington holds hands with husband Nnamdi Asomugha on trip to Disneyland with their baby girl

“Women, poor people, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, inter-sex people, we have been pitted against each other and made to feel like there are limited seats at the table for those of us that fall into the category of ‘other.’ As a result, we have become afraid of one another. We compete with one another, we judge one another, sometimes we betray one another. Sometimes even within our own communities, we designate who among us is best suited to represent us and who, really, shouldn’t even really be invited to the party. As ‘others,’ we are taught to be successful we must reject those ‘other ‘others’ or we will never belong.”

“I know part of why I’m getting this award is because I play characters that belong to segments of society that are often pushed to the margins. Now, as a woman and a person of color, I don’t always have a choice about that. But I’ve also made the choice to participate in the storytelling about the members of the LGBT community. I’ve made the choice to play a lot of different kinds of people, in a lot of different kinds of situations. In my career, I’ve not been afraid of inhabiting characters who are judged and who are misunderstood and who have not been granted full rights of citizenship as human beings.”

REWIND: Reverend Jerry Falwell comments on Ellen DeGeneres coming out on TV in 1997

“But here’s the great irony: I don’t decide to play the characters I play as a political choice. Yet the characters I play often do become political statements. Because having your story told as a woman, as a person of color, as a lesbian, or as a trans person or as any member of any disenfranchised community is sadly often still a radical idea. There is so much power in storytelling and there is enormous power in inclusive storytelling and inclusive representations.”

“That is why the work of GLAAD is so important. We need more LGBT representation in the media. We need more LGBT characters and more LGBT storytelling. We need more diverse LGBT representation and by that, I mean lots of kinds of different kinds of LGBT people, living all kinds of lives, and this is big—we need more employment of LGBT people in front of and behind the camera!” (Standing ovation)

“So in 1997, when Ellen made her famous declaration, it took place in an America where the Defense of Marriage Act had just passed months earlier and civil unions were not yet legal in any state. But also remember, just 30 years before that, the Supreme Court was deciding that the ban against interracial marriages was unconstitutional. Up until then, heterosexual people of different races couldn’t marry who they wanted to marry either.”

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“So when black people today tell me that they don’t believe in gay marriage…(applause break, standing ovation)…So, the first thing that I say is ‘Please don’t let anybody try to get you to vote against your own best interest by feeding you messages of hate.’ And then I say, ‘You know people used to stay that stuff about you and your love and if we let the government start to legislate love in our lifetime, who do you think is next?’”

“We can’t say that we believe in each other’s fundamental humanity and the turn a blind eye to the reality of each other’s existence and the truth of each other’s hearts. We must be allies and we must be allies in this business because to be represented is to be humanized and as long as anyone, anywhere is made to feel less human, our very definition of humanity is at stake and we are all vulnerable.” (Applause)

“We must see each other, all of us and we must see ourselves, all of us and we have to continue to be bold and break new ground until this is how it is, until we are no longer ‘firsts’ and ‘exceptions’ and ‘rare’ and ‘unique.’ In the real world, being an ‘other’ is the norm. In the real world, the only norm is uniqueness and our media must reflect that. Thank you GLAAD for fighting the good fight. God bless you.”

—Reporting by Ari Forer

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GLAAD Media Awards 2015: Kerry Washington, 'Transparent,' 'How to Get Away with Murder' Honored

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Kerry Washington was among the honorees at GLAAD’s Los Angeles edition of the 26th annual Media Awards, held Saturday at the Beverly Hilton.

Scandal star Washington received the Vanguard Award for supporting the LGBT community, with the prize presented by Ellen DeGeneres. 

Read MoreRoland Emmerich on ‘Independence Day 2′s’ Gay Couple: It’s Not “a Big Deal”

“We need more diverse LGBT representation [in the media],” Washington said during her acceptance speech. “And this is big — we need more employment of LGBT people, in front of and behind the camera.”

Washington said that she doesn’t understand when black people tell her they don’t believe in gay marriage, as she feels that the LGBT community’s current struggles mirror the battle faced by interracial couples 30 years ago.

“We can’t say that we believe in each other’s fundamental humanity and then turn a blind eye to the reality of each other’s existence and the truth of each other’s hearts,” she said.

Independence Day director Roland Emmerich, whose forthcoming drama Stonewall centers on the Stonewall riots staged by New York’s gay community in 1969, picked up the Stephen F. Kolzak Award from presenter Channing Tatum. The award honors those who strive to get rid of homophobia in Hollywood.

ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder was named outstanding drama series, Amazon’s Transparent picked up the prize for outstanding comedy series and The Imitation Game was selected in the outstanding film category.

Read MoreGLAAD Slams TLC’s ‘My Husband’s Not Gay’ as “Downright Irresponsible”

In other categories, HBO’s The Normal Heart was honored for outstanding TV series or miniseries, Days of Our Lives picked up the award for outstanding daily drama, Against Me! was named outstanding music artist and the Lifetime series Drop Dead Diva earned the prize for outstanding individual episode in a series without a LGBT character for “Identity Crisis.”

The New York leg of the awards ceremony takes place May 9 at the Waldorf Astoria New York. Video of Washington’s speech can be seen below.

March 22, 9:15 a.m. Updated to include Washington’s speech.

Email: Ryan.Gajewski@thr.com

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/glaad-media-awards-2015-kerry-washington-transparent-away-083113631.html

S.F. area’s LGBT population tops survey; San Jose near bottom

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

  • The corner of 18th and Castro streets, with its rainbow-striped crosswalks, remains the epicenter of San Franciscos highly visible lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Photo: Michael Macor / The Chronicle / ONLINE_YES

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The corner of 18th and Castro streets, with its rainbow-striped crosswalks, remains the epicenter of San Francisco’s highly visible lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.


Photo: Michael Macor / The Chronicle


Shops along Castro Street help make San Francisco the city with the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population.


Photo: Michael Macor / The Chronicle


Andy Landrith, who works at Outfit clothing in the Castro, says S.F.’s large gay community helped lure him.


Photo: Michael Macor / The Chronicle


A first-of-its-kind Gallup survey confirmed Friday what many people have long assumed — that the San Francisco area has the nation’s highest concentration of men and women who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Few other areas come close.

But the survey of the biggest 50 metropolitan areas, which asked a question that has never been addressed by U.S. census takers, also revealed a surprising Bay Area split. The San Jose area appears to have one of the nation’s smallest gay communities — about half the size of San Francisco’s, per capita.

The difference may come down to a simple northward migration across Silicon Valley, with many people choosing to call San Francisco home because of its longtime progressive lean.

As the Gallup poll takers noted, many other cities with high concentrations of gay residents, such as New Orleans, Denver and Austin, Texas, “have reputations as socially progressive cities within states and regions that are much more conservative, perhaps making them regional hubs for the LGBT population.”

The poll of 374,325 people across the country, taken from mid-2012 to December of last year, found that 6.2 percent of respondents identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area. The greater Portland, Ore., area was second, at 5.4 percent, followed by Austin, New Orleans and Seattle.

San Jose surprise

But the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area ranked 47th in the nation, at 3.2 percent, placing it among such unlikely company as Memphis (3.1 percent), Pittsburgh (3 percent) and Birmingham, Ala. (2.6 percent).

“That’s pretty shocking,” said Tom Nolan, a gay rights leader and former San Mateo County supervisor. “Perhaps everybody comes into San Francisco now for nightlife. San Mateo County can’t sustain a single gay bar anymore.”

Nolan said the high cost of housing is almost certainly affecting who lives where, though it was not immediately clear why the north would outpoll the south so significantly, when housing prices in both towns are prohibitive.

State Sen. Mark Leno, who represents San Francisco, said the poll’s use of “diffuse metropolitan areas” instead of actual cities made the numbers trickier to interpret. The LGBT population of San Francisco, he said, is traditionally thought to be about 20 percent, with San Jose at 10 percent or more.

“I’m not even sure we’re comparing apples to apples,” he said.

But Wiggsy Sivertsen, a longtime South Bay LGBT activist, offered some possible explanations for the poll results.

“A lot of friends over the years have moved out of this valley and moved to San Francisco because in a sense that’s where the action is,” said Sivertsen, a professor emeritus at San Jose State University. San Jose “isn’t the kind of community that people are out and about — they go to work and come home. … There ends up being people like myself who are older, more settled and perfectly content to live here.”

Sivertsen, who lives in Los Gatos, said she suspects there are “many more gays and lesbians who live down here who are still fairly closeted, which tends to skew that statistic a bit.”

San Francisco is seen as a safer area to be out because of its entrenched LGBT culture, she said. “The culture makes it clear that this is your community.”

Hesitancy over revelation

Ken Yeager, who as a Santa Clara County supervisor is the first openly gay elected official in the county, said he was among those polled. He suggested there may have been some awkwardness with the questions themselves — an unease that could vary by geography.

Poll takers asked people, “Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?” The margin of error was plus or minus one percentage point, Gallup said.

“I’m as out as out can be, and my first thought was, ‘Do I really want to tell Gallup that I’m gay?’” Yeager said. “There might be some hesitancy for some people to self-identify with someone they don’t know at all.”

Gallup analysts, too, said the relatively low numbers in the San Jose area were unexpected.

They acknowledged that the poll results were influenced by the boundaries of the metropolitan areas. The San Francisco metropolitan area includes San Mateo and Marin counties, while the San Jose area includes Santa Clara and San Benito counties.

“San Jose may be the most surprising metro area to be among the 10 lowest, because it is home to Silicon Valley and many technology companies that have been among the most vocal supporters of LGBT rights,” the pollsters said. “The low ranking could mean that many LGBT individuals who work in Silicon Valley choose to live closer to San Francisco and its vibrant LGBT social scene.”

Hamed Aleaziz and Steve Rubenstein are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. E-mail: haleaziz@sfchronicle.com, srubenstein@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @haleaziz, @SteveRubeSF

Article source: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-area-s-gay-population-tops-survey-San-6148970.php

LGBT bullying the focus of student-run meeting in downtown St. John's

Friday, March 20th, 2015

By Nia Williams CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Canada’s top rodeo is feeling the impact of the global oil price plunge, with bids to sponsor one of the Calgary …

Article source: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/lgbt-bullying-focus-student-run-103658975.html

San Francisco Metro Area Ranks Highest in LGBT Percentage

Friday, March 20th, 2015

PRINCETON, N.J. — The San Francisco metropolitan area has the highest percentage of the adult population who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) of any of the top 50 U.S. metropolitan areas, followed by Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas.

Variation in the percentage who identify as LGBT across the largest metro areas is relatively narrow, with San Francisco’s percentage just 2.6 percentage points higher than the national average of 3.6%, and the lowest-ranked metro area — Birmingham, Alabama — one point below the national average.

The top 10 includes metro areas from every region of the country except the Midwest. Given the long history of a visible and politically active LGBT community in San Francisco, the city’s ranking at the top of this list is not surprising. Similar to San Francisco, Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) like Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles in the West, and Boston in the Northeast, are known for their progressive social and political climates and active LGBT communities. Hartford is the capital of Connecticut, which has permitted same-sex couples to legally marry longer than every state except Massachusetts.

MSAs like Austin and New Orleans in the South, and Denver in the Rocky Mountain region, all have reputations as socially progressive cities within states and regions that are much more conservative, perhaps making them regional hubs for the LGBT population.

The ranking of Salt Lake City in the top 10 may seem surprising because Utah is one of the most conservative states in the country. However, the state recently passed a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and public accommodation, the first state to do so since 2007. The majority of states still do not have such laws on the books.

These results are based on responses to the question, “Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?” — included in more than 374,000 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted between June 2012 and December 2014. This is the largest ongoing study of the distribution of the LGBT population in the U.S. on record, and the first time a study has had large enough sample sizes to provide estimates of the LGBT population by MSA.

The number of interviews conducted in each MSA between June 2012 and December 2014 is large enough to allow for estimates of each of the 50 largest metro areas’ LGBT population. Each MSA except two had at least 3,000 interviews, with the lowest sample size of 2,674 for New Orleans and the largest of 36,947 for New York. The LGBT percentage, along with the number of completed interviews conducted in each MSA is presented in the accompanying table.

Birmingham Has Lowest Percentage of LGBT

Birmingham, Alabama, with 2.6% LGBT identity, has the lowest percentage of LGBT adults of any of the 50 largest metro areas, followed by Pittsburgh and Memphis, Tennessee. Other MSAs with low percentages of LGBT adults include San Jose, California; Raleigh, North Carolina; Cincinnati; and Houston.

Explanations are likely varied for the particularly low percentages of LGBT adults in some MSAs. Eight of the 10 MSAs with the lowest percentages are in the South or Midwest, the two regions of the country where LGBT identification among adults tends to be lowest and where social stigma toward LGBT people can be relatively high. Alabama, home to Birmingham, has made news lately as its state Supreme Court has resisted implementation of a federal court order to allow same-sex couples to marry. Among the ranked MSAs, Pittsburgh has the highest proportion of seniors in the population. Gallup research has shown that LGBT identity tends to be lower among seniors.

San Jose may be the most surprising metro area to be among the 10 lowest, because it is home to the Silicon Valley and many technology companies that have been among the most vocal supporters of LGBT rights in corporate America. For example, Apple, Google and Facebook all recently signed a friend-of-the-court brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting legalizing marriage for same-sex couples. The low ranking could mean that many LGBT individuals who work in the Silicon Valley choose to live closer to San Francisco and its vibrant LGBT social scene.

Implications

The distribution of LGBT identity across the largest metro areas in the U.S. is relatively narrow, with a range of 3.6 percentage points from the highest to the lowest MSA among the top 50. This mirrors previous analyses of the distribution of the LGBT population across states, which show similarly fairly even distribution, at least in comparison to the many other pronounced geographic differences found on race, ethnic, political and ideological variables.

The lack of sharp distinctions could reflect in part that the geographic MSAs used in this research are large, and for most areas, include significant suburban populations around center cities. The sample sizes involved do not allow for an analysis of center cities per se, but perhaps the LGBT percentage is larger in these areas than in the metropolitan area as a whole.

At the same time, the variation across MSAs does provide interesting information about LGBT identification and its possible relationship to the ideological and legal climate in different metropolitan regions. Certainly, a metropolitan area such as San Francisco has a different history and culture relating to the LGBT population than does Birmingham, and those differences appear in LGBT identification among the areas’ residents.

These rankings at least partly may be an indication of where LGBT adults choose to live. But a survey conducted in 2013 showed that only 12% of LGBT adults considered the levels of LGBT social acceptance in a city as a major factor in their decisions about where to live. These rankings could also reflect differences across metro areas in the willingness of residents to identify as LGBT to interviewers. LGBT people who live in MSAs where they experience greater levels of social acceptance and often the legal protections that come with that may be more likely to identify themselves as such compared with LGBT adults living in areas in which there is less acceptance of people of differing sexual orientations. While San Francisco may be one of the most desirable areas in the country for LGBT people to live, it also may be an area where residents feel more comfortable in identifying themselves as LGBT.

Gary J. Gates is Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. A national expert in LGBT demographics, he has a Ph.D. in public policy from Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted from June 2012-December 2014, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 374,325 employed adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of workers, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.

For results based on MSA-level data, the margin of sampling error is no more than ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level for each MSA. Respondents are assigned to a metro area using the federal Office of Management and Budget definitions of metropolitan statistical areas. Gallup assigns respondents to metro areas using the definitions for Metropolitan Statistical Areas developed by OMB. Each MSA sample is weighted to ensure it represents the population of that metro area.

All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how Gallup Daily tracking works.

Article source: http://www.gallup.com/poll/182051/san-francisco-metro-area-ranks-highest-lgbt-percentage.aspx?utm_source=tagrss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication

How Houston's LGBT community compares to other major U.S. cities

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Houston is the largest city with an openly gay mayor. But the LGBT community seems less visible here.

A newly released Gallup survey provides the most extensive look ever at where the adult population lives who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

What’s most interesting about the survey however is the narrow variation between the cities with the largest and smallest LGBT communities. The lowest-placed metro – Birmingham, Alabama – falls just 1 percent below the national average of 3.6 percent. Houston is only 0.3 percent the average. San Francisco has the largest LGBT community at 6.2 percent.

Gallup notes that LGBT populations show “fairly even distribution, at least in comparison to the many other pronounced geographic differences found on race, ethnic, political and ideological variables.”

Still, there are obvious trends. Austin and New Orleans were the lone southern metro areas among the largest LGBT communities. No city in the Midwest ranked among the 10 metros. Southern metros featured prominently among the lowest-placing areas.

The responses don’t necessarily mean that southern cities have fewer gay residents, just a smaller number who are willing to identify themselves as part of the community when surveyed.

See the metro areas with the largest and smallest percentage of self-identifying LGBT communities above.

Article source: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/How-Houston-s-LGBT-community-compares-to-other-6147993.php

Protection for LGBT seniors + protection for nightclubs

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Legislation that would offer special protection to gay and transgender seniors in assisted living facilities is headed for the Board of Supervisors.

The bill by Supervisor Scott Wiener forbids discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation and demands that senior facilities train at least one staff member to serve as a liaison for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

The legislation is critical for aging LGBT people who face threats of discrimination as they enter care facilities that may not be prepared to meet their needs, said senior and gay rights activists at a hearing at City Hall on Thursday. San Francisco is home to roughly 60,000 LGBT people older than 60, according to a report released last year by the city’s LGBT Aging Policy Task Force.

State law already prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but Wiener said the San Francisco legislation is needed to mandate extra protections for seniors.

Gay and transgender seniors may feel compelled to hide their sexual or gender identity in a facility where they are totally dependent on strangers for care and don’t trust that they’ll be treated fairly, LGBT advocacy groups said.

Legal aid providers said they’ve handled reports around the country of residents forcibly separated from their long-term partners when they move into assisted living facilities. Transgender residents have told of assisted living staff who refused to identify them by their preferred pronoun, or who have rejected caring for them outright.

“Today’s LGBT seniors are the people who built the community and the movement in San Francisco,” said attorney Daniel Redman, a member of the LGBT aging task force who helped write the bill. “This ordinance is the least that can be done to help our seniors receive care. This is the next step in their legacy for San Francisco.”

— Erin Allday

Noise control: A proposal aimed at protecting San Francisco music venues from noise-sensitive neighbors in new housing developments has sailed through a key legislative hurdle.

The measure, introduced in December by Board of Supervisors’ President London Breed, would prohibit neighbors of music venues from suing them as a nuisance if the club is operating within the constraints of its entertainment permit. The City Planning Commission gave its approval Thursday with unanimous support.

It would also require developers and city agencies to take into account the existence of the venues during the construction of new housing and to notify potential residents of their existence before they sign a lease or buy a unit.

Club owners and employees showed up in droves on Thursday to the Planning Commission to voice their support for the measure.

Michael Winger, executive director of the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy, said smaller entertainment venues are “the plankton by which all the larger artists you know and love grow their careers.” A music venue, he said, “just needs to be loud.”

Allen Scott, managing owner of the Independent nightclub on Divisadero Street, said, “If we start losing these venues throughout the city, nothing is going to come in and replace them anywhere.”

The Independent is one of several San Francisco music venues where housing is being developed nearby.

The legislation attempts to resolve tensions between San Francisco music venues and people moving into new housing projects who are unhappy with the noise coming from neighboring clubs.

Not a single person spoke out against the legislation at the hearing.

Commissioner Kathrin Moore called it “long overdue.” Commissioner Michael Antonini said, “It’s sort of like, what’s here is here … and you have to adapt to us and not us to you.”

— Emily Green

Guns off the streets: Board of Supervisors President London Breed said Thursday that a gun buyback will be held Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center at 1050 McAllister St.San Francisco police will collect guns — $100 for handguns and $200 for assault weapons — no questions asked.

E-mail: cityinsider@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @sfcityinsider

Article source: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Protection-for-LGBT-seniors-headed-to-Board-of-6145595.php

WATCH: How Jay Z Can Change Antigay Attitudes in Uganda

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

In an interview for GLAAD’s All Access video series, noted Ugandan LGBT activist Frank Mugisha called on American pop stars and celebrities to pick up the mantle of LGBT equality.

Mugisha pointed specifically to Jay Z, saying the recording artist could do more to help east Africa’s severely oppressed LGBT community than any public figure from the fields of politics or activism ever could. That’s because celebrities have the potential to impact individuals on a personal level.

“Homophobia is mostly not a collective issue,” said Mugisha. “It’s more of an individual issue. You find a parent beating or killing a child because they’re coming out. … But if we can get their own personal heroes, footballers, entertainment people, and of course, Jay Z and other celebrities to speak out, [saying] ‘You know, I don’t mind gay people; I have gay friends,’ or ‘I am gay,’ that can change the person in Uganda who is in the rural areas.”

Prolific human rights advocate and video journalist Claire Pires’s interview also includes a rare acknowledgement by Mugisha that he receives threats to his life every day.

Mugisha is ever-vigilant and mindful about the power of words and thoughts in his quest to overcome homophobia and transphobia at home and abroad. Sometimes that means not talking about certain things in his home country, he told Pires.

“I don’t talk about my threats because when we talk, when we are very empathetic about the challenges we go through; Ugandans think we are using that as a tool for sympathy,” said Mugisha.

But there can be little doubt that the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award recipient takes such threats seriously — even though he’s been facing them consistently since his friend and fellow LGBT advocate, David Kato, was murdered in 2011, following the front-page story in a local tabloid blasting “Uganda’s 100 Top Homos,” with a banner reading “Hang Them.”

That tabloid exposé, which ran in the now-defunct Rolling Stone (no relation to the American music magazine), arguably read like a hit list — and included Mugisha and many of his friends and fellow activists in Kampala, the Ugandan capital. Although a court order prohibited tabloids from publishing photos and personal information of suspected LGBT Ugandans, several similar “exposés” have run in other tabloids in the past several years, including one that plagiarized an award-winning Advocate photo essay featuring first-person stories from Mugisha and his fellow activists.

“[David's] death was sort of like activating me to even work harder, because I wouldn’t want to see what happened to him happen to anyone else,” Mugisha told Pires in the interview, conducted in New York after the activist was bestowed the Joli Humanitarian Award by the Riverdale Country School.

Despite international outrage, in early 2014 Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which prescribed lifelong prison sentences for LGBT people in some circumstances and lengthy jail terms for those who did not report a “known homosexual” to authorities. In August of last year, Kampala’s constitutional court overturned the law on a procedural technicality.

After making it safely out of the courthouse amid antigay protesters and media on the day the law was struck down, Mugisha joyfully tweeted the “Breaking news, I am officially legal. The constitutional court in Uganda has declared anti-homosexuality law 2014 null and void.” 

But because the court did not address the merits of the antigay law, Ugandan lawmakers are still trying to introduce a similar bill that would, in effect, “jail the gays.” President Museveni has all but promised to veto such a bill, presumably in order to avoid U.S. and European sanctions that came with the bill’s previous incarnation.  

But far-reaching ghosts of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act persist, as a protest by Ugandan LGBT refugees in neighboring Kenya proved during a demonstration at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees camp at Kakuma on March 11. After Nairobi police attempted to disperse the demonstrators, more than 35 protesters instead camped outside the UNHCR offices until the list of demands they presented were addressed.

Watch Pires’s full interview with Mugisha below:

 

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2015/03/19/watch-how-jay-z-can-change-antigay-attitudes-uganda

15 LGBT Storylines Viewers Want for Empire Season 2

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Empire had its pearl-clutching, two-hour season finale last night. So naturally, The Advocate is already thinking about season 2!

Cocreated by out director Lee Daniels, in its first season the show was lauded for shining a spotlight on a range of LGBT issues, among them child abuse, coming out, and homophobia in the world of hip-hop. But there’s always more ground to cover.

At a recent panel discussion at Outfest Fusion, a film festival that focuses on LGBT people of color, Daniels asked the audience for topics that they wanted to see next season. But there wasn’t time to cover them all! So in the spirit of continuing the conversation, we asked our readers for input on LGBT storylines that they wanted to see on Empire. Here are 15 of the best responses.

1. LGBT Youth: Homelessness and Suicide
“Young gay teens being disowned or kicked out of their homes for being gay,” says Tony Velasquez. “Second this,” adds Tony Belch. “And more than a few end up hustling (i.e., prostitution) to support themselves.” Rafael Alvarenga notes that suicide is a major issue among young LGBT people, and television is “something that many of our gay youth look to as an answer for the small-mindedness they encounter.”

2. “Down-Low” Relationships
“We need to delve more into the stigma of down-low relationships,” says Brian Germann. “There should be a storyline about the men who speak out against homosexuality while they are, in fact, having secret homosexual encounters.”

3. HIV and PrEP
“Contrary to popular belief, I think HIV would be a great topic!” says Kenneth Allen. “Some people would rather not discuss HIV [and] AIDS because of the stigma and ignorance surrounding the disease. They’re too [conscious] about what it’d do for a show like Empire. Just like how [How to Get Away With Murder] season 1 ended [in which one of the characters tested positive]. It makes you look at the show another way now.”

To incorporate this topic, Julie Robinson proposes that a HIV-positive character could be “a new serious [RB artist] love interest for Jamal.”

“PrEP,” adds Paul Ciulla, referring to a daily treatment that prevents HIV. “It needs more exposure.”
 

4. Transgender Characters
“A trans character played by a real trans person of color, not a cisgender [nontrans] person portraying a trans person,” would be great for the show, says Gregorious Maximus, pushing back against Hollywood’s tendency to cast cisgender actors in trans roles.

Eric Selvey says a potential character could be a trans “male rap artist whose transition is discovered after his success.” Bill Halliburton would also like to see a transgender singer next season. Julie Stefani says the role is unimportant, as long as he or she isn’t a prostitute.

Jake Schmidt adds that he would like to see transphobia highlighted.

5. LGBT Seniors
Ran Mullins would like to see more of the “divide between older and younger LGBTQ persons! We should support and respect one another more!” Mark Alan McRoberts also wants to shine a spotlight on “older LGBT folk who are rejected by so many in our youth-obsessed minority.”

6. More Gabourey Sidibe
“Give Becky a cool storyline. We need more Gabourey!” says Brian Germann.
 

7. Bisexuality
Percy Ogden would like to see characters who identify as straight but are “curious.” Amy Leibowitz Mitchell wants Empire to have out bi characters: “actual bisexuals who don’t hide behind hedging/avoiding the word bisexual. And no crappy stereotypes or tropes.”

8. Parenthood and Adoption
A storyline involving the possibility of Jamal being a father was featured last season. But our audience would like to see this further developed, with F Mari Lassalle proposing adoption as an option. Martin William McLaughlin goes a step further, proposing a custody battle over parental rights.
 

9. Same-Sex Marriage
Could there be wedding bells for Jamal? Martin William McLaughlin wants to hear them.
 

10. Lesbians
“A real lesbian relationship and not just a lame kiss between two women,” says Carla J. Edwards. “Or Hakeem hoping to have a [three]some.”

11. Racism in the LGBT Community
“It’s great how the show is taking on homophobia in the African-American community,” says Douglas Melilatt. “Now let’s see it take on racism in the gay community.” Lori Clark agrees, wishing the show would address “racial division in the LGBT community.”

12. Politics
Matt Pankey wants to see how changing local, state, and national laws, many of them discriminatory against LGBT people, affect the characters on the show.

13. LGBT Roles that Push Against Stereotypes
A trans chef. A gay business executive. A lesbian rabbi. LGBT people come from all walks of life, and that should be reflected more on television.

14. All Body Types
Kevin Olomon jokes that he wants to see a “chubby-chaser romance,” and showcasing characters of all sizes would be a big step in that direction.
 

15. LGBT Athletes
Michael Sam (pictured above right with fiancé Vito Cammisano), Jason Collins, Brittney Griner, and more are breaking barriers in real-life sports. Why not on television? Mark Alan McRoberts proposes that the show could incorporate a “professional athletic who sings and falls for a man.”

Any other ideas? Let us hear them in the comments!

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/television/2015/03/19/15-lgbt-storylines-viewers-want-empire-season-2

Caixin Online: Chinese businesses eye purchasing power of LGBT community

Thursday, March 19th, 2015
Shutterstock/tony4urban

BEIJING (Caixin Online) — Chinese businesses are starting to show interest in the purchasing power of the LGBT consumer market — often referred to as the “pink dollar” — a trend led by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

BABA, +0.11%

 


The U.S. business magazine Forbes says the purchasing power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community worldwide amounts to $3 trillion annually. LGBT Capital, a venture-capital firm in Hong Kong, says the figure for the Chinese mainland is $300 billion. What’s more, research shows LGBT consumers have above-average brand loyalty to companies they see as friendly.

While it is commonplace to see Western multinationals like Google Inc.

GOOG, +1.57%

  and Coca-Cola Co.

KO, +0.22%

 sponsor pride festivals and even marriage equality in the U.S. and Europe, the market potential is underdeveloped in China, which decriminalized homosexuality in 1997.

Alibaba’s shopping website is among the first group of companies eyeing the “pink dollar” — or maybe the “pink yuan” is more accurate.

Taobao caused a stir in China on Feb. 14 with its same-sex-marriage-themed promotion “We Do.” It partnered with several LGBT non-governmental organizations — including PFLAG China and the Beijing LGBT Center — to send 10 same-sex couples on paid honeymoons to Los Angeles. The prize offered the winners the chance to marry legally in California.

Taobao also sold a line of LGBT-themed bedding in partnership with Shanghai Bliss Home Textile Co. and sold package holidays to five countries where same-sex marriage is legal.

Those marriages would not be legally recognized in China, but an Alibaba spokesman said the aim of the promotion was to raise awareness and understanding of LGBT issues in the country.

Jacob Huang, the 26-year-old director of the Workplace Program at the Aibai Center, an LGBT rights advocacy group in the capital, said the promotion was a significant step forward for Chinese companies.

“It’s a good sign,” he said. “It shows that it’s a turning point for companies to realize that being open and diverse about the LGBT community is good for their business.”

Huang, who works with Chinese and foreign companies to boost equality and workplace inclusion, said only a few businesses in China have realized the importance of the pink dollar, but “the next five or 10 years will see an explosion.”

“They are also trying to test how tolerant the environment is, and how tolerant the media, the public and the Chinese government are on the LGBT subject,” he said.

Entrepreneurs are also seeking to profit from LGBT consumers through social media and online dating platforms. Ma Baoli, a former policeman, launched the gay dating mobile application Blued in 2012, after starting an online resource center for the LGBT community called Danlan.org. The app company has 60 employees and more than 15 million users, making it the largest platform of its kind in the world.

Ma said he plans to add an e-commerce function to Blued this year. The company also launched an English-language version of the app in the Netherlands on Feb. 9.

Foreign and Chinese investors have shown interest in the dating app. The U.S. venture-capital firm DCM Ventures invested $30 million in Blued in November, and Beijing-based Crystal Stream Capital also committed an undisclosed amount.

Paul Thompson, the founder of LGBT Capital, said marketing to the LGBT community in China is still at an early stage of development, and he cited as obstacles a lack of understanding of the market and of strategies that could be used to target consumers.

“We see the challenges being the lack of visibility of the market and companies still not understanding the potential and how to target this market,” he said.

See this report at Caixin Online. Follow Caixin on Twitter at @caixin.

Article source: http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story.asp?guid=%7B29B668B4-CDEA-11E4-9DDB-D1B9FB14CFC6%7D&siteid=rss&rss=1

Democratic candidates pitch for LGBT support

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Philadelphia City Council and judicial candidates touted progressive ideas and support of the LGBT community Wednesday night in a forum held by Liberty City Democrats.

More than 20 candidates for judge and Council addressed the crowd at the William Way LGBT Community Center in three-minute speeches, and later fielded questions from the audience.

Council incumbents including Kenyatta Johnson, Curtis Jones Jr., and Blondell Reynolds Brown reminded the crowd that they had voted in favor of several successful LGBT-rights bills introduced over the last three years by former Councilman James F. Kenney, now a mayoral candidate.

Brown told the audience she planned to introduce legislation this week to make permanent the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Affairs.

Former Councilman Frank Rizzo, who is running for Council at-large, got some of the toughest questions, such as: What would make him more effective as a Democrat?

“Part of my problem as a Republican is that I thought more like a Democrat,” he said. Rizzo was a Republican member of Council for 16 years and recently changed his registration.

Rizzo was also taken to task for a 2008 vote he cast against a resolution to oppose defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

“That was 2008, and a lot has changed, and I’m in favor of those changes,” he said.

Sherrie Cohen got some of the loudest applause of the night, calling on the community to elect her as the first openly gay person on Council.

“It’s time, or perhaps past time,” she said.

Paul Steinke, a former manager of Reading Terminal Market, was also enthusiastically greeted by the crowd.

Steinke, who is gay, said the most pressing LGBT issues were better sensitivity training for police on responding to crimes involving transgender people and improving opportunities for LGBT youths.

Common Pleas Court Judge Kevin Dougherty, who is running for the state Supreme Court, said he wants to end punitive and permanent rulings against youth. He mentioned a case of a bullied transgender youth “who fights back, gets charged with aggravated assault, and is a felon for life.”

Common Pleas Court Judge Abbe Fletman said her work dealing with 30 percent of the court’s criminal cases has been one of balancing “the safety of the community and the rehabilitative needs of mostly young men.”

Fletman, who is lesbian, asked the audience to support her: “I humbly ask for your support – it would be very meaningful to me to have the support of my own community.”

Liberty City Democrats will announce their endorsements April 12.


jterruso@phillynews.com

215-854-5506 @juliaterruso


Article source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20150319_Democratic_candidates_make_their_pitch_for_LGBT_support.html

St. Patrick's Day parade: LGBT inclusion hints at shifting Catholic mores (+video)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

For the first time on Tuesday, New York’s St. Paddy’s Day parade, the city’s grandest of them all in many ways, included a group of gay and lesbian New Yorkers marching up 5th Avenue amid the familiar annual flow of proud-to-be-Irish green.

For years, the city’s famous march, held for more than 250 years and celebrating the Irish-Catholic heritage so strong among its police and firefighters especially, had also included bitter debates about the official inclusion of gay and lesbian groups. But this year, for the first time in the parade’s long history, Out@NBCUniversal, an LGBT group from the company that televises the parade, will march under its own banner.

It’s just one, and one out of hundreds of organizations marching, so although it marks a milestone for the privately organized parade and reflects the sweeping cultural shifts that have transformed the country’s general views of homosexuality, protests have continued – now from LGBT activists and religious conservatives both.

“A lot of people feel, I think rightfully, that that is too small a change to merit a lot of us participating who have wanted to see an inclusive parade,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who did not participate in the parade for the second straight year on Tuesday. Other groups continued to protest their exclusion as well.

On Sunday, too, the organizers of Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade lifted their ban on official LGBT participation, permitting two groups, Boston Pride and OutVets, a group of gay and lesbian veterans, to officially celebrate the city’s Irish-Catholic heritage. It was enough for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh – who boycotted the parade last year – to march on Sunday.

But the small accommodations made this year by the mostly Roman Catholic parade organizers in New York and Boston – as well as many other regions of the country – provide a microcosm of the broader shifts in the Catholic Church as a younger generation grapples with the church’s moral traditions and long-held opposition to homosexuality.

“There’s this ever increasing dissonance between these parade officials, and the officials of the church hierarchy, and the growing majority of Catholics on these so-called ‘hot-button’ social issues,” says Bruce Morrill, the Edward A. Malloy professor of Catholic studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville, Tenn. “Especially as you move down the age quartiles with Millennials and younger Catholics.”

Indeed, a full 85 percent of self-identified Catholics under the age of 30 said homosexuality should be accepted by society, a 2014 Pew Research Center survey found. And while older Catholics are less likely to favor the acceptance of homosexuality, 57 percent of those 65 and older favored inclusion.

In Boston, the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic charity, and other groups decided not to participate in the St. Patrick’s parade after the inclusion of LGBT groups. And the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts minced no words in condemning the groups’ official participation.

“Two groups – OUTVETS and Boston Pride – which have zero interest in the ancient Catholic culture of Ireland and her patron saint, which express pride in rejecting Catholic morality, and which dismiss that moral code as bigotry and prejudice, exploited the venerable name of Saint Patrick to advance their anti-Christian ideology,” said executive director C.J. Doyle in a statement Sunday.

In Norfolk, Va., however, the local Knights of Columbus chapter invited Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to serve as the grand marshal of its St. Paddy’s parade, which he accepted. In response, the state’s two bishops, Francis DiLorenzo of the Richmond Diocese and Paul Loverde of Arlington, condemned the invitation of the governor, who supports same-sex marriage and abortion.

“Together with our brother bishops, we have been clear, consistent and firm in upholding the truths reflected in the fundamental doctrine and moral principles of our faith,” the Virginia bishops said in a joint statement. “It is an erroneous and serious mistake in judgment for any Catholic organization to grant awards, honors and platforms to any public person who clearly acts in defiance to Catholic teaching.”

Still, the “growing dissonance” between church leaders and much of the laity belies the efforts of Pope Francis, who has urged a new “pastoral tone” and more inclusive embrace of LGBT Catholics, even as it maintains its historic, and not debatable, moral teachings.

“These issues have remained their priority, even as Pope Francis, from early on in his papacy, was indicating that the prelates shouldn’t be obsessing about these things,” says Father Morrill, also a Catholic priest. “And that tension hasn’t weakened at all over these past two years.”

Some conservative groups had called on New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the grand marshal of the parade this year, to withdraw his support. But the always-gregarious Cardinal Dolan hammed it up, holding his archbishop’s staff aloft in his red-trimmed black cassock, posing for pictures and proclaiming his Irish pride.

The inclusion of the LGBT group from NBC was a “gesture of good will of historic proportion,” said John Lahey, vice chairman of the parade’s organizing committee, according to The New York Times. He added that the parade had always included gays and lesbians, however, as they participated freely with other groups.

“The purpose of this parade is not inclusiveness as an end, it’s a parade to celebrate St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland,” Mr. Lahey said.

Article source: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2015/0317/St.-Patrick-s-Day-parade-LGBT-inclusion-hints-at-shifting-Catholic-mores-video

St. Patrick's Day parade: LGBT inclusion hints at shifting Catholic mores

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

For the first time on Tuesday, New York’s St. Paddy’s Day parade, the city’s grandest of them all in many ways, included a group of gay and lesbian New Yorkers marching up 5th Avenue amid the familiar annual flow of proud-to-be-Irish green.

For years, the city’s famous march, held for more than 250 years and celebrating the Irish-Catholic heritage so strong among its police and firefighters especially, had also included bitter debates about the official inclusion of gay and lesbian groups. But this year, for the first time in the parade’s long history, Out@NBCUniversal, an LGBT group from the company that televises the parade, will march under its own banner.

It’s just one, and one out of hundreds of organizations marching, so although it marks a milestone for the privately organized parade and reflects the sweeping cultural shifts that have transformed the country’s general views of homosexuality, protests have continued – now from LGBT activists and religious conservatives both.

“A lot of people feel, I think rightfully, that that is too small a change to merit a lot of us participating who have wanted to see an inclusive parade,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who did not participate in the parade for the second straight year on Tuesday. Other groups continued to protest their exclusion as well.

On Sunday, too, the organizers of Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade lifted their ban on official LGBT participation, permitting two groups, Boston Pride and OutVets, a group of gay and lesbian veterans, to officially celebrate the city’s Irish-Catholic heritage. It was enough for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh – who boycotted the parade last year – to march on Sunday.

But the small accommodations made this year by the mostly Roman Catholic parade organizers in New York and Boston – as well as many other regions of the country – provide a microcosm of the broader shifts in the Catholic church as a younger generation grapples with the church’s moral traditions and long-held opposition to homosexuality.

“There’s this ever increasing dissonance between these parade officials, and the officials of the church hierarchy, and the growing majority of Catholics on these so-called ‘hot-button’ social issues,” says Bruce Morrill, the Edward A. Malloy professor of Catholic studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville, Tenn. “Especially as you move down the age quartiles with Millennials and younger Catholics.”

Indeed, a full 85 percent of self-identified Catholics under the age of 30 said homosexuality should be accepted by society, a 2014 Pew Research Center survey found. And while older Catholics are less likely to favor the acceptance of homosexuality, 57 percent of those 65 and older favored inclusion.

In Boston, the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic charity, and other groups decided not to participate in the St. Patrick’s parade after the inclusion of LGBT groups. And the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts minced no words in condemning the groups official participation.

“Two groups – OUTVETS and Boston Pride – which have zero interest in the ancient Catholic culture of Ireland and her patron saint, which express pride in rejecting Catholic morality, and which dismiss that moral code as bigotry and prejudice, exploited the venerable name of Saint Patrick to advance their anti-Christian ideology,” said executive director C.J. Doyle in a statement Sunday.

In Norfolk, Va., however, the local Knights of Columbus chapter invited Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to serve as the grand marshal of its St. Paddy’s parade, which he accepted. In response, the state’s two bishops, Francis DiLorenzo of the Richmond diocese and Paul Loverde of Arlington, condemned the invitation of the governor, who supports same-sex marriage and abortion.

“Together with our brother bishops, we have been clear, consistent and firm in upholding the truths reflected in the fundamental doctrine and moral principles of our faith,” the Virginia bishops said in a joint statement. “It is an erroneous and serious mistake in judgment for any Catholic organization to grant awards, honors and platforms to any public person who clearly acts in defiance to Catholic teaching.”

Still, the “growing dissonance” between church leaders and much of the laity belies the efforts of Pope Francis, who has urged a new “pastoral tone” and more inclusive embrace of LGBT Catholics, even as it maintains its historic, and not debatable, moral teachings.

“These issues have remained their priority, even as Pope Francis, from early on in his papacy, was indicating that the prelates shouldn’t be obsessing about these things,” says Father Morrill, also a Catholic priest. “And that tension hasn’t weakened at all over these past two years.”

Some conservative groups had called on New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the grand marshal of the parade this year, to withdraw his support. But the always-gregarious Cardinal Dolan hammed it up, holding his archbishop’s staff aloft in his red-trimmed black cassock, posing for pictures and proclaiming his Irish pride.

The inclusion of the LGBT group from NBC was a “gesture of good will of historic proportion,” said John Lahey, vice chairman of the parade’s organizing committee, according to The New York Times. He added that the parade had always included gays and lesbians, however, as they participated freely with other groups.

“The purpose of this parade is not inclusiveness as an end, it’s a parade to celebrate St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland,” Mr. Lahey said.

Article source: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2015/0317/St.-Patrick-s-Day-parade-LGBT-inclusion-hints-at-shifting-Catholic-mores

St. Patrick’s Day Parades Included Some LGBT Groups But Not All

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Rainbow flags waved brightly alongside four-leaf clovers and other Irish emblems in both New York City and Boston to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year. Although Massachussetts and New York were early adopters of gay marriage, 2015 marks the first year that LGBT community members can openly participate in both St. Patrick’s Day parades.

To be more exact, a few select LGBT groups were invited to join city parades in a move that’s called historic by some but criticized as not nearly enough by others.

OutVets marched alongside fellow service members in Boston’s Sunday celebration and OUT@NBCUniversal, an LGBT alliance group of NBC employees, joined the New York walk up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Tuesday.

“If we let OutVets in [the St. Patrick’s Day Parade], it’s going to turn into a gay pride parade,” Amy Bonneau, a member of the LGBT veterans group, told MSNBC. That’s the argument she so often heard for banning LGBT vets participation alongside fellow service members.

Boston’s parade features a variety of veteran and immigrant groups, but a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed the event’s organizers to prohibit LGBT groups because it’s privately funded. The Allied War Veterans Council, who runs Boston’s event, ruled 5-4 that the LGBT group had the right to participate last week and that their presence was not some sort of veiled move to push a political agenda.

Video footage of Sunday’s parade shows an outpouring of support—with a few instances of intolerance—for this long-awaited arrival of LGBT members.

New York’s decision to include an LGBT group faced protest because organizers chose the LGBT employee alliance of one of the event’s corporate sponsors, NBCUniversal.

Members of advocacy group Irish Queers stood at the parade’s sidelines to protest OUT@NBCUniversal’s role in the parade. In the days leading up to the event, protesters posted images on the group’s Facebook page with signs reading “because corporate lackeys are no substitute for community members” and “because we demand real inclusion in our community’s celebration.”

Even Mayor Bill de Blasio isn’t buying this move as progress.

“A lot of people feel, I think rightfully, that that is too small a change to merit a lot of us participating who have wanted to see an inclusive parade,” said de Blasio at an event on Sunday, the St. Pat’s for All parade. For the second year in a row, the mayor opted to march in the city’s alternative event, which welcomes a wide array of LGBT groups.

Original article from TakePart

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/st-patrick-day-parades-included-lgbt-groups-not-215042762.html

LGBT group joins NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015


By Adam Saewitz

History was made on Tuesday at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City, as the first LGBT group was permitted to march up Fifth Avenue. Members of Out, a small group made up of NBCUniversal employees, marched as approved participants in the festivities, and while the inclusion was seen as a victory for the LGBT community, many feel that it was a small victory at best.

Critics point out that parade organizers once again failed to include LGBT Irish groups, who have for years fought to be included in the March 17 celebrations. Brendan Fay, organizer of Lavender Green Alliance, an Irish LGBT group, said, “While this is a small step forward, the NBC group is not representative of many people who are proud of both their Irish and LGBT heritage. It does not honor the many people — straight and gay alike — who have worked over the years for inclusion.”

Yahoo News was at Gracie Mansion, the official residence of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, where he kick-started the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, while speakers including Mayor de Blasio and Pete Hamill called for organizers of the parade to become more inclusive and open. 

 

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/lgbt-group-joins-nyc-saint-patrick-s-day-parade-014407228.html

LGBT women at most risk for poverty

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

By Mary Kuhlman

Nearly 16 percent of Hoosiers live in poverty, and a new report finds lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) women are among those most at risk.

The findings were released by a broad coalition of organizations, including the National Women’s Law Center.

Fatima Goss Graves, the center’s vice president for education and employment, says the report highlights how the challenges most women face particularly undermine the economic security of LGBT women.

“Getting adequate wages, having the support necessary to both work and care for families, having access to health care,” says Goss Graves. “Those are concerns LGBT women are facing, and in some cases, facing more acutely.”

Goss Graves says those concerns are further magnified for LGBT women of color, immigrant women, women raising children and transgender women. According to the report, almost 30 percent of bisexual women and 23 percent of lesbian women live in poverty, compared to 20 percent of heterosexual women.

Over five million women in the U.S. identify as LGBT, and Goss Graves says discriminatory laws, along with inequitable and outdated policies compromise their economic security. She adds some LGBT women are unable to access job-protected leave to care for a sick partner, and others struggle to obtain official identity documents that match their lived gender.

“Transgender women in particular have the problem of it being difficult to access appropriate ID when ID is so crucial in our society to access jobs, to access things like healthcare,” says Goss Graves.

In Indiana, proof of sex reassignment surgery is required to obtain a new birth certificate. Goss Graves says policies at the state and federal level should be improved to allow LGBT families the same protections and benefits available to others, such as health insurance, family leave, and child care assistance.

Article source: http://www.nuvo.net/indianapolis/lgbt-women-at-most-risk-for-poverty/Content?oid=3062978

Op-ed: Religions Must Open Their Doors to LGBT Members

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Let’s face it: Many major religions have not been kind to the LGBT community. Most Christian denominations preach that same-sex relationships are sinful, and some — invoking the name of God — subject LGBT members to harmful conversion therapies. Some Muslim imams call homosexuality “one of the greatest of crimes” and recommend the death penalty for gays and lesbians. Orthodox Jewish sects prohibit homosexual conduct. Many of us in the LGBT community who may have felt a desire for spirituality have suppressed our potential beliefs because of the way organizations and institutions have chosen to treat us.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

On Monday, I had the incredible honor of being installed as the first openly gay president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. This conference — the rabbinical arm of Reform Judaism, North America’s largest and oldest denomination — has a remarkable history at the forefront of advancing LGBT and human rights that includes a 1977 resolution calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality and an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation. My installation coincides with the 25th anniversary of a CCAR resolution calling for the ordination of openly gay and lesbian Reform rabbis. I am proud of the conference’s progress, and proud to bring my experiences as a social justice advocate to this role.

Faith can inform our lives and our activism if we let it — and if our religious organizations are inclusive enough. When I was a rabbinic student in the mid-1980s, I advocated for the inclusion of LGBT individuals into the CCAR and rabbinic schools. Not yet able to be fully out, I wrote a then-anonymous letter to a committee member working on the issue of homosexuality and ordination, encouraging him to push for the full inclusion of LGBT people of faith in our community of spiritual leaders. I told him that the horrible policy of not ordaining openly gay or lesbian people was forcing me to live a lie, because I knew that I was called to serve God and the Jewish people. By the time I was ordained in 1988 in New York, I was in a funny position of being out but not open. Many knew — but many did not. I took a job in the only pulpit that would have me: an LGBT pulpit in Los Angeles. Every other job I interviewed for plainly told me they were not ready to hire a lesbian rabbi. 

How blessed I was to have a supportive family. I had come out to my parents as an undergraduate. They were loving and welcoming. Most of my fellow classmates knew of my sexual orientation during seminary but respected the fact that we didn’t talk about it at school. My partner of those years and I lived in a borough far from where the other students lived and far from campus, so we didn’t socialize too much with others. It was lonely for us save for a few good friends. Even though we lived in New York City, which had a vibrant gay community and a gay synagogue, I remained far away from gay communal life because I was a rabbinic student attending a seminary that would not ordain openly LGBT people.

In 1990, two years after I was ordained and working as a rabbi in Los Angeles at an LGBT outreach synagogue, the Central Conference of American Rabbis passed its resolution calling for the open ordination of LGBT rabbis. I breathed a sigh of relief — as did many others. We have come so far in not only changing policy but also the culture of the Reform Movement of Judaism. In doing so, we have challenged other denominations to open their tents wider. In 2006, the Conservative movement of Judaism also opened its doors to LGBT candidates for the rabbinate. And even in some corners of the Open Orthodox movement there is progress and tolerance for LGBT individuals, if not acceptance. 

There is still a lot of progress to be made on LGBT rights within Reform Judaism, but we’ve come a long way since I started out, and the CCAR is making even more strides to be inclusive. My installation as president is not just a tremendous honor for me personally, but a significant statement about the CCAR’s commitment to LGBT rights and inclusion. Additionally, our recently-updated High Holiday prayer book no longer refers to a husband and wife specifically, but to a gender-neutral couple. And the voices of LGBT members, women, and people with disabilities have been incorporated into the creation of the prayer book and the text itself.

We must do even more to be inclusive, to educate on issues of gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender discrimination — and we will. Other religious organizations would do well to seek this same progress. Instead of casting out members of our community, religious organizations could benefit from the participation of LGBT individuals who can bring the wealth of their experience and knowledge to faith-based movements. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans people of faith could find strength in these communities to accomplish tremendous things. And the power of these movements could do so much to advance LGBT rights and combat discrimination.

The CCAR has always taken the lead on major issues of social justice, often positions that are controversial for religious organizations in the United States. Our members have marched for civil rights in the 1960s, joined a federal lawsuit against North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban, and supported refugee children from Central America. The CCAR’s example and participation with these and many other issues including income inequality, reproductive justice and more, have helped lead to significant shifts in our society as a whole.

It’s time for all religious organizations to open the door — and the closet — to LGBT members. We have so much to offer and so much to gain.

DENISE L. EGER is an American Reform rabbi who has just become President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinical arm of the Reform Judaism movement. She is the first openly gay person to hold that position. She is the founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/03/17/op-ed-religions-must-open-their-doors-lgbt-members

   
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