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Tigres del Norte support LGBT community with historic song

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) — With their first “corrido” song about gay love, Los Tigres del Norte are surprising their audiences — and lead singer Jorge Hernandez says that he feels very proud.

“Los Tigres are known for telling stories, for narrating the realities in society. It is evident that we have in front of us a great community that has been standing out more all these years,” Hernandez told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

The singer said that LGBT fans had asked them to depict their story. He waited for years for a “very deserving” song, he said, and it finally came along with “Era diferente” (She was different), while they were working in their latest album, “Realidades” (Realities.)

Written by Mexican composer Manuel Eduardo Toscano, it focuses on a girl coveted by men who is in love with her best girl-friend.

“They made their best to win her over / but no boy won her love / She was so different from the others / she was never interested in no man’s love,” says the song.

“It really surprised me how it said the words and that it doesn’t offend anybody, the way in which he carried it was very subtle and we loved it,” Hernandez said. “We were like, ‘Well, I think this is the right moment to say what we have to say about this’. We dared and got wonderful results.”

Monica Trasandes, director of Spanish Media at GLAAD, said bands that put forth messages of support contribute greatly to acceptance.

“There’s still a lot to do because sadly, many gay and transgender people in this country and throughout the Americas live very difficult lives,” she said.

According to Billboard magazine, “Era diferente” is not only the first song about gay love by Los Tigres del Norte but also the first in the norteno music genre.

“When we sing it you can see how that community (LGBT) cheers up,” said Hernandez. “The rest of the audience that may be surprised, I see them opening their eyes and staring at us like asking, ‘What’s it about? What is he singing about?’ … It has been a song that has attracted attention and we do it with the pride of that that exposes itself and also exposes a situation that is very relevant.”

To Hernandez, the biggest lesson from the new song is that love has no limits.

“The evidence is there, no one can hide it and I think we have to be open to love in any way, as the song goes,” he said, citing the lyrics: “They say the ideal flight is between a female and a male dove / and they find weird other forms of love / I only think there are different air currents / and may each one breath better his own.”

Los Tigres del Norte will play Coachella on Friday and the Nokia Theatre LA Live on Saturday.

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Online:

http://lostigresdelnorte.com/

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Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias at https://twitter.com/sigalratner

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/tigres-del-norte-support-lgbt-community-historic-song-151626860.html

LGBT Community Hold 'Call to Action' at Capitol

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

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Updated: Monday, April 13 2015, 07:46 PM CDT
Molly White’s Office responds to a report that said it would be a waste of time for an LGBT activist to talk with her about gay rights as LGBT supporters rallied at the capitol. 

A story by the Temple Daily Telegram said White’s Chief of Staff Hannah Bell told an LGBT activist it would have been a waste of time for him to talk with Representative Molly White about gay rights. This is the second time White’s office has faced criticism for possible discriminatory comments. 

White instructed staff during a Muslim rally in Austin in January to ask Muslims visiting her office to ‘renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.’

This came as more than a hundred LGBT supporters gathered on the north steps of the Capitol for a “call to action.” They want to stop nearly two dozen bills they say discriminate against the LGBT community. 

“It lets us know that this is something we should be paying close attention to,” Representative Ron Reynolds said. 

Reynolds spoke in front of the crowd on the steps comparing the LGBT rights movement to that of the civil rights movement. 

“Those citizens are being discriminated against, they are fighting for equality,” Reynolds said. 

After the speeches, the crowd went inside where people went one by one talking with legislators. That includes Pamela Neal from Temple, who wanted to talk with her representative, Molly White. 

“We all have a voice and we all have something to say and she owes it to each of us to hear what is said,” Neal said. 

Neal said she saw the article about White and thought it was important to talk with her. She said she just wanted to tell her story.

“I want to give her my personal story and let her know that I’m not talking about everybody in Texas I’m talking about one specific person,” Neal said. 

Neal did make it to White’s office, but she wasn’t able to talk with White because the representative was busy. However, she talked with White’s staff and said she was happy with the conversation. 

White’s chief of staff Hannah Bell also responded to the report. 

“That was completely taken out of context,” Bell said. 

She said it’s not a waste of time for people like Neal to talk with White or their office. She also gave her side of the story as to what happened with the activist. 

“And so I just relayed to him that the issue that he was bringing to us, the representative has a stance on that issue and so we didn’t really want to waste his time and therefore the meeting concluded,” Bell said. 

Bell said she was able to meet with the activist Monday afternoon, and said in a statement everyone is welcome to their office. 

However, Neal was a little disappointed she didn’t get to talk with Neal. She also said she didn’t really want to make any changes to White’s stance on issues, she just wanted to humanize the bills she’ll be voting on. 

“I’m not here to change anybody’s mind, I’m just here to put a face on the issue,” Neal said. 

By Adam HammonsLGBT Community Hold ‘Call to Action’ at Capitol


Article source: http://www.keyetv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/lgbt-community-hold-call-action-at-capitol-25291.shtml

Hillary Clinton Gay Vote: LGBT Activists Embrace Historic 2016 Presidential Campaign

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Hassan Naveed has closely followed politics for years, but as a gay man he grew used to seeing his life and beliefs not mirrored back to him in glossy campaign advertisements or the sweeping rhetoric of a candidate’s stump speech. He expected more of the same Sunday when he went to Hillary Clinton’s new presidential website to watch her campaign announcement video. Within minutes, a handsome gay couple filled his screen, casually discussing their wedding plans in an everyday tone that belied the historic significance of the moment. For the first time, a major presidential candidate had featured a gay couple in a campaign announcement video.

“I was surprised, happy, elated,” said Naveed, a 28-year-old graduate student in New York City. “As soon as I saw that I was like, ‘Wow, this is awesome!’ The last presidential election, this wasn’t necessarily part of the campaign narrative, and being able to see something like this from the onset, it was surprising.”

Clinton’s grand campaign unveiling and its unprecedented embrace of the LGBT community signaled her latest evolution on gay marriage nearly two decades after her husband, former President Bill Clinton, signed into the law the Defense of Marriage Act. The announcement video and her hiring of an openly gay campaign manager, another first for a White House contender, suggest Clinton is poised to make gay rights a centerpiece of her campaign at a time when marriage equality laws are increasingly mainstream but still not universal across the nation.

Gay rights activists and LGBT leaders said Clinton’s groundbreaking campaign illustrates more voters — not just LGBT people and their advocates — want candidates who support gay marriage. At the same time, while LGBT organizations were eager to praise Clinton’s message, they said her former support for the federal law that defines marriage as the union of a man and woman remains troubling and raises questions about whether Clinton will be a leader or follower in the growing gay rights movement if she is elected president.

“She is clearly making a play for the LGBT community and that’s smart not just for that vote, which is a sliver for the community, but also because in recent years we have gained allies among our moms and dads and friends, and I get the sense that they are judging candidates by where they stand on LGBT issues,” said Denis Dison, senior vice president of the Gay Lesbian Victory Fund, which recruits LGBT candidates for political office.

Clinton can expect challenging questions on the campaign trail from the LGBT community, such as whether she supports transgender people serving in the military, and what position the Supreme Court should take on state gay marriage bans, Dison said. “She will still have to win over voters,” he said.

Brian Silva, executive director of Marriage Equality USA, said Clinton was part of a growing movement of politicians on both sides of the political aisle who have come out for gay rights in recent years as more Americans demand marriage equality. He said the symbolism of Clinton’s campaign message was significant.  

“Whenever we see our faces, our lives and our families reflected in political positions and businesses and in any kind of institution like that, it reflects where we’ve come, it reminds us that we still have a ways to go and it also inspires a new generation of young people that are questioning or struggling with coming out that they have places to go, that there is a future for them, that they can have whatever job they want and be the person they want to be,” he said.

Clinton’s historic campaign announcement stands out further compared to her Republican rivals’ positions on LGBT issues, namely their support for Indiana’s recent religious freedom law that critics have decried as anti-gay because it would allow small business owners to refuse service to gay weddings for religious reasons. U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, who are all running for president, as well as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is weighing a presidential bid, all endorsed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act in recent weeks. Clinton came out against the law. ”Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today,” Clinton tweeted in early April. “We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc [sic] of who they love.” 

JoDee Winterhof, vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, an influential LGBT advocacy group, said it was exciting to have “a pro-equality candidate” running for president. “The unfortunate reality is that many of the current field of Republican candidates have opposed nondiscrimination legislation and marriage equality,” Winterhof said in a statement Monday. 

Nationwide, 52 percent of Americans now support gay marriage, according to the Pew Research Center. A strong majority of LGBT people back allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, with 78 percent of those who identify as Republican saying they “strongly favor” or “favor” same-sex marriage compared with 96 percent who said the same and voted Democrat.

Clinton defended DOMA as recently as 2000 when she said as a U.S. Senate candidate in New York she would have signed the law. More than a decade later, she cemented her status as a beloved gay icon with a forceful speech before the United Nations in Geneva while secretary of state in which she said: “Being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

“That statement went a long way toward cementing her reputation as a champion for the LGBT community,” Dison said. “That is about as declarative a statement you can make on the world stage and really put the power of the United States behind an issue that in previous administrations was not discussed, or in some cases, the U.S. was on the wrong side of to secure equality for LGBT people.”

More recently, records released by the National Archives at the Clinton Library showed Hillary Clinton’s staff defended gay-rights issues and quietly battled anti-gay-rights legislation during Bill Clinton’s presidency, Politico reported. 

A Hillary Clinton White House would be a bolder LGBT ally, her campaign seems determined to assure supporters. Clinton’s new campaign manager, Robby Mook, ran Terry McAuliffe’s successful 2013 campaign for governor of Virginia. He is openly gay. 

Meanwhile, engaged couple Jared Milrad, 31, and Nathan Johnson, 30, appeared only briefly among other American families in the video Clinton used to announce her candidacy for president Sunday. Milrad, a lawyer and nonprofit founder, and Johnson, a health care consultant, had no idea the video would be used as part of her campaign announcement. “I think there’s a feeling of a responsibility we both have … that we are the face of the gay community in the video,” Milrad told ABC News. “We just want to do that justice and be a voice as much as possible for the LGBT community.”

LGBT people are, in fact, taking note. Naveed, who voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 after wrestling with potentially supporting Clinton instead, said he would never vote for a candidate who didn’t side with marriage equality. He said he was impressed by Clinton’s experience and was eager for the nation to have a woman president. But he noted her endorsement of LGBT rights mattered “1,000 percent.” 

“This is a personal cause,” he said. 

Article source: http://www.ibtimes.com/hillary-clinton-gay-vote-lgbt-activists-embrace-historic-2016-presidential-campaign-1879647

Marco Rubio Is No 'Change' for LGBT Americans

Monday, April 13th, 2015

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida today became the third Republican to announce his presidential campaign, sending an email to supporters — a “soft launch” that he’ll follow up with a speech Monday evening in Florida where he “is expected to present himself as the embodiment of generational change who can unite the Republican Party’s factions,” reports The New York Times.

But while Rubio has long been considered a rising star in the GOP who some view as a moderate, youthful candidate, his positions on LGBT equality are anything but forward-thinking. 

Amid last month’s nationwide controversy over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Rubio stood behind Gov. Mike Pence, who signed the sweeping bill into law even though many said it amounted to a license to discriminate against LGBT Hoosiers. The bill has since been amended to clarify that it does not give businesses a right to refuse service to someone based on their sexual orientation. Nevertheless, Indiana state law does not include nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers in employment, housing, education, or public accommodations. 

“Nobody is saying that it should be legal to deny someone service at a restaurant or at a hotel because of their sexual orientation,” Rubio said on a March episode of Fox News talk show The Five. “I think that’s a consensus view in America. … The flip side is, should a photographer be punished for refusing to do a wedding that their faith teaches them is not one that is valid in the eyes of God?”

“I think people have the right to live out their religious faith in their own lives,” Rubio continued. “They can’t impose it on you in your life. But they have a right to live it out in their own lives. And when you’re asking someone who provides professional services to do something, or be punished by law, that violates their faith, you’re violating that religious liberty that they have.”

A longtime opponent of marriage equality, Rubio was one of the few prominent Republicans to offer a public comment when his home state of Florida reluctantly embraced marriage equality earlier this year after a federal court ordered the state to do so. 

“While I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman, while people want to change that law — and a lot of people apparently do — there is a way to do that,” Rubio told Politico in January. “You go through the legislature, or you go on the ballot, but I don’t agree the courts have the power to do this.”

Rubio’s assessment here was incorrect, as a primary function of federal courts is to review and when applicable rescind laws that violate the protections of the U.S. Constitution. That’s noteworthy because the sSenator graduated cum laude with a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law — so at one point he presumably had a true understanding of how judicial review works. 

Some Republican strategists have heralded Rubio as a fresh-faced alternative to the standard GOP brand of straight white men, since the son of Cuban immigrants speaks fluent Spanish and has advocated for humane immigration reform. 

But even before Rubio backed away from the immigration reform bill he coauthored in 2013, which included a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., he was clear that any legislation that included progressive provisions for LGBT people would not get his vote. 

“If this bill has in it something that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill,” the Florida Republican told conservative radio host Andrea Tantaros in June 2013. “I’m gone, I’m off it, and I’ve said that repeatedly. And I don’t think that’s going to happen, and it shouldn’t happen. This is already a difficult enough issue as it is.”

Later that same year, Rubio served as the keynote speaker at a right-wing conference held by a group that advocates for so-called ex-gay therapy — the scientifically discredited practice that has been outlawed for use on minors in California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. While Rubio’s speech itself steered clear of direct mention of LGBT people, his address was bookended by videos from the host group’s president denigrating marriage equality, gay Boy Scouts, and warning about the supposed “dangers” of transgender people who want to be teachers. 

Back in 2012, when Rubio was a freshman senator, he lent his voice to a series of robocalls for the National Organization for Marriage, targeting voters who were, at the time, considering marriage equality legislation in Maine, Maryland, and Washington. Rubio provided the Spanish-language portion of the robocalls, alongside fellow antigay Republican (and likely presidential hopeful) Mike Huckabee, in addition to antigay minister James Dobson.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/politicians/2015/04/13/marco-rubio-no-change-lgbt-americans

Safe Zone LGBT Allies training makes a difference at Paul L. Foster School of Medicine

Monday, April 13th, 2015

When Kent Carter was looking for a medical school to continue his studies, one of the factors he considered was how diverse his future campus might be.

“When I applied, I made sure to include my past involvement in LGBT activities in my applications,” said Carter, a second year medical student at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. “At some schools where I interviewed, when I got to that part of the interview, their entire demeanor toward me changed. They became very negative toward me. I made the decision when I applied that I don’t want to be at a place where it was going to be an issue. When I came here, there were no issues and that made me feel more positive about coming here.”

REPORTER

Victor Martinez

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso created an Office of Diversity Affairs three years ago led by Jessica Calderón-Mora and Mayra Morales and recently launched the Safe Zone LGBT Allies training.

“Safe Zone training is something that’s done in various undergrad and graduate school campuses around the country,” said Calderón-Mora, senior director of the Office of Diversity Affairs. “We started a Gay and Straight Campus Alliance in 2012 and that was initiated by our office and current third-year medical students. They came on to campus and saw a need for this type of group.”

The Safe Zone program was created to develop, enhance and maintain environments in workplaces, schools and other social settings that are culturally competent and supportive to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) individuals.

“It’s about creating a welcoming, inclusive environment for gays, lesbians, bisexual or transgender individuals rather they be patients or colleagues,” Calderón-Mora said. “It’s about increasing the capacity to address the issues faced by the LGBT population and to train allies, individuals who serve as advocates on campus.”

Since the Safe Zone program began in September, more than 170 medical and nursing students, faculty, residents and staff have been through the training.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Pasos Office of Diversity Affairs is creating quot;Safe Zonesquot; for the LGBT community.

“After the training, we provide all of our health care professional a rainbow pin so they can wear on their white coats to show that the are LGBT friendly,” Calderón-Mora said. “We also give them placards and students place them on their lockers and physicians put them on their office door so we are seen more around campus so the LGBT population can see that we are an open campus.”

Calderón-Mora said she does not have statistic on how many LGBT individuals are on campus.

Carter, who grew up in Liberty, Texas, and earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, is one of six Safe Zone trainers.

“There was a need for trainers so I guess I did it out of a sense of idealistic duty,” he said. “I’m here and somebody needed to step up and do this so I was honored to be asked to participate.”

Carter, who has lived in El Paso for two years, said having these open discussions about the LGBT community creates a better understanding between health care provider and patients,

“In terms of training colleagues, we are all in medical school or nursing school and we’re going to be health care professionals,” he said. “A lot of the times physicians have a difficult time discussing sex in general. And when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender issues, it’s even more uncomfortable for them.”

Patrick O’Malley, a second year medical student, is also a certified Safe Zone trainer.

“One of the main points we want to get across is our LGBT patients have specific health needs,” O’Malley said. “This is also a group of patients who might have been unjustly discriminated against in health care previously. There are a lot of studies that show LGBT patients have experienced discrimination to varying extents. We want to address that and make sure we are treating our LGBT patients as they wish to be treated and we are using the correct language that they wish to be addressed with.”

O’Malley, who graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, said having a better understanding of what LGBT patients will provide health care professionals a glimpse of what life is like for them and the daily struggles they endure.

“One of the first things is to acknowledge that there has been a problem in the past,” he said. “This hasn’t always been dealt with sensitively. If we acknowledge there is an issue, we can make inroads to be more sensitive to these patients and care for them better.”

Carter said he is glad Safe Zone training is making a difference.

“Society is changing quite a bit but obviously it’s still in transition, especially in Texas so it was great to have this here and we continue to build on it,” he said. “There was no tolerance where I lived and that made it a very difficult experience for me. I think that’s another reason I felt drawn to do this because of my own personal experience. It was very difficult for me growing up so it means a lot for me to be part of this change.”

Victor R. Martinez may be reached at 915-546-6128.

What: Safe Zone LGBT Allies training. The Safe Zone program was created to develop, enhance and maintain environments in workplaces, schools and other social settings that are culturally competent and supportive to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) individuals.

Who: The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso created an Office of Diversity Affairs three years ago and recently launched the Safe Zone program.

Info.: 215-4806 or elpaso.ttuhsc.edu/fostersom/diversity.

Article source: http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_27900047/medical-students-get-diversity-training?source=rss

Hillary Clinton Will Be a Sharp Contrast to GOP on LGBT Equality

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

With Hillary Clinton’s entrance into the race for president, the Republican field now has a Democrat to contrast with on LGBT equality.

Clinton officially announced her bid today with a video released online shortly after 3 p.m. Eastern. It features a diverse group of people making changes in their lives, including a male couple about to be married. A female couple is also included in the video (watch below).

The video was released shortly after her campaign chairman, John Podesta, sent an email to donors and Clinton associates confirming her candidacy, The New York Times reports. He said she will soon meet with voters in Iowa and will have a formal kickoff event next month.

On the Republican side, only Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have officially declared their candidacies, and both oppose marriage equality and more. Paul said in March that same-sex couples shouldn’t get to use the word “marriage” because it “offends myself and a lot of people,” and Cruz used his very first campaign stop to rile up the crowd against “the radical gay marriage agenda,” then on Thursday he warned of the gay “jihad” against religious freedom.

Still, every Republican whose name has been mentioned as a potential 2016 contender is unified in opposition to marriage equality. Even the so-called moderate Chris Christie vetoed a marriage equality bill in his state. Whoever is chosen could set up a laundry list of sharply differing views on LGBT equality with Clinton, should she win the Democratic primary.

Some Republicans still consider it a mistake that gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly in the military, support “license to discriminate” laws, and oppose passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Not only does Clinton support marriage equality, she’s spoken out on the other side of all those arguments.

She’s most beloved among the LGBT community for a December 2011 speech she gave before the United Nations in Geneva while Secretary of State, in which she said to the world that “Being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

And Politico reports on documents released this week by the National Archives at the Clinton Library that show it was Hillary Clinton’s staff who pushed during her husband’s presidency for greater acceptance of LGBT people. For example, President Obama signed an executive order last year that went into effect last week that bans discrimination in employment by federal contractors — something that Hillary Clinton’s staff pushed her husband to do back in August 2000.

So far, Clinton could potentially face three other supporters of LGBT equality in the Democratic primary. And despite her popularity among LGBT voters, her potential rivals could wield a few advantages. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, for example, has long been in favor of equal marriage rights, even voting against the Defense of Marriage Act that Clinton’s husband signed into law and which Hillary Clinton once said she’d have voted for if she were in the Senate at the time — though she now welcomes its dismantling.

Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland signed a marriage equality bill in his state before Clinton had even came out publicly in favor of same-sex marriage in March 2013. Lincoln Chafee, former governor of Rhode Island, also signed a law in his state. Clinton bristled during a tense interview in June with NPR’s Terry Gross while promoting her new book after being asked to clarify exactly when she changed her mind on marriage equality. 

“You know, somebody is always first, Terry,” she said. “Somebody’s always out front and thank goodness they are. But that doesn’t mean that those who joined later in being publicly supportive or even privately accepting that there needs to be change are any less committed. You could not be having the sweep of marriage equality across our country if nobody changed their mind. And thank goodness so many of us have.”

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/election/2015/04/12/hillary-clinton-will-be-sharp-contrast-gop-lgbt-equality

LGBT, religious rights can coexist

Sunday, April 12th, 2015


More commentary on the
religious freedom debate

Last week, Christians celebrated Easter, Jews celebrated Passover, and gays and lesbians celebrated the fact that Indiana’s legislature amended its Religious Freedom Restoration Act to ensure that the law could not be used to discriminate against them. Different strokes for different folks? Not really. One of the disturbing things about the debate sparked by the passage of the Indiana law was the extent to which complex realities were sacrificed on the altar of sound-bites.

Religious freedom is not at odds with civil liberties: it is among the first freedoms listed in our Bill of Rights. The idea that government cannot unduly burden the free exercise of religion is as old as our nation. That idea has coexisted for centuries with the notion that one person’s sincerely held religious beliefs cannot justify lawlessness. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court noted that religious freedom is even more protected now than it was at the time the Constitution was drafted by the Founding Fathers.

The LGBT community is not a threat to religious freedom. To use a biblical expression, LGBT people of faith are as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Over the past few years, and with the support of a number of religious organizations, the Supreme Court has struck down laws that degrade and demean people because of their sexual orientation. The Court is likely to do so again this summer when it decides whether same-sex marriages will become a nationwide reality. LGBT rights are more protected now than they have ever been in our country’s past.

These greater protections for religious freedom and LGBT rights are worth celebrating. This is especially true in a world where gay people are executed because of their sexual orientation (yes, there are countries in the world where this happens) and where people are martyred or imprisoned because they refuse to renounce their religion (no, this isn’t quite the same as requiring a public service provider to serve the public).

The intense debate regarding RFRA has helped provide some necessary perspective. Nationwide, it is unlawful to fire someone because of their religion. Yet far fewer than half of our states protect LGBT individuals from discrimination. Religious liberty should be protected: this is not a “special rights,” it is a fundamental freedom. But LGBT people deserve similar protections. Our country as a whole benefits when we prohibit discrimination. Equality is an American value, albeit an aspirational one.

Oklahoma’s version of RFRA died when a proposed amendment was added requiring businesses claiming religious exemptions to post a notice to that effect on their front doors and websites. For many, the idea of such signs reopened old wounds (“No Irish need apply;” “Whites only;” “Juden raus!”). Businesses have realized that many customers will not shop at a store that discriminates against classes of people, even if they do not belong to the targeted group.

Creating a false dichotomy between people of faith and LGBT individuals serves no one. Politicians who play to our fears by creating a sense of crisis where none really exists serve only themselves. Our future should be built on something sturdier than a cardboard crisis created only to get extremists to the polls during off-year elections. If there’s anything that threatens our religious freedom and our civil rights, it is voter apathy.

Austin is a professor at California Western School of Law.

Article source: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/apr/11/lgbt-religious-rights-can-coexist/

White House opens all-gender restroom

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

The White House has opened its first gender-neutral restroom in what is seen as a symbolic step by President Barack Obama to protect the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the workplace.

White House spokesman Jeff Tiller said the “all-gender restroom” is in the Eisenhower executive office building where many employees have meetings and offices and is next door to the West Wing, which houses the president’s offices.

The initiative is the latest in a series of actions by Obama to support the LGBT community. On Wednesday the president issued an executive order barring companies that do business with the federal government from discriminating against LGBT staff.

“The White House allows staff and guests to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity, which is in keeping with the administration’s existing legal guidance on this issue,” Tiller said.

Obama has taken a firm stand on gay, lesbian and transgender rights, an area of debate that is becoming hotly contested.

Last year, in a presidential first, he used the word “transgender” in the annual state of the union address and he has also endorsed same-sex marriage, marking what may be one of the most significant advances of his presidency.

Also on Wednesday he called for an end to psychiatric therapies that seek to change the sexual orientation of gay, lesbian and transgender youth, also known as conversion therapy.

The number of gender-neutral bathrooms has grown in the United States in recent years, in workplaces and in colleges, but the White House’s initiative comes as some US states mull legislation that would curtail transgender people’s ability to chose what restroom to use.

In Florida the “Bathroom Surveillance Bill” would ban transgender people from using bathrooms, locker rooms and other sex-segregated facilities except those designated for their gender at birth.

Similar bills have also been introduced in Kentucky, Missouri and Texas, according to LGBT activist group Human Rights Campaign.

Transgender advocates have attacked the laws as discriminatory and accused legislators in some states of “attacking the dignity and humanity of transgender and gender non-conforming people”.

“It is heartening that … at least the White House is still moving in the direction of dignity and common sense,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Article source: http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663828/s/45443dcb/sc/7/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Cus0Enews0C20A150Capr0C10A0Cwhite0Ehouse0Eopens0Eall0Egender0Erestroom/story01.htm

See Obama’s 20-Year Evolution on LGBT Rights

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

The Department of Education articulates a clear stance on gender identity, while the Department of Justice announces that all its attorneys will interpret the federal ban on sex discrimination to include discrimination against transgender Americans.

“Under Title IX,” a memo from the Department of Education reads, a school “must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes.”

“This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Article source: http://time.com/3816952/obama-gay-lesbian-transgender-lgbt-rights/

Carson: LGBT issues 'personal'

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

(CNN)Potential presidential candidate Ben Carson doesn’t want to talk about LGBT issues.

The neurosurgeon insisted Thursday on CNN’s “New Day” that the topic is “a personal issue” that should be left to private forums — not discussed in a public forum like the media.

“It seems to be a topic — a person’s sexual orientation — that is of fair amount of concern to you. I don’t find it to be anywhere near as interesting,” Carson said Thursday. “I think it’s a personal issue and we ought to leave it as a personal issue.”

“Leave…the personal issues to the personal people,” Carson added.

Carson also refused to share his views in the widely discredited practice of gay conversion therapy, which is intended to make gay people feel heterosexual. The White House officially announced Wednesday it supports banning the practice.

RELATED: White House seeks ban on gay conversion therapies

“That kind of thing should be left to therapists and to individuals. I don’t think it’s anybody else’s business,” Carson said.

    The interview Thursday came one month after Carson’s last stop on “New Day,” when he argued that homosexuality is a choice, resting his argument on the fact that people “go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay.” Carson later apologized for those comments, but criticized the CNN interview and said he would no longer be addressing gay rights.

    While he called for LGBT rights to remain a private issue, Carson called for a “much greater conversation about Christians and their rights.”

    Is Ben Carson gearing up for 2016 race?

    “Why are we not talking about that?” Carson asked.

    Religious discrimination, like discrimination on the basis of race or gender, is protected under the Constitution. Sexual orientation is not protected under the Constitution and LGBT groups are pushing for anti-discrimination laws tailored to protect members of that community.

    Carson would not say whether he thinks religious groups or LGBT individuals received more protections under the law.

    “I would like to see as much emphasis on the rights of Christians and people who are members of the faith community as there is to some of the other groups,” he said. “The important thing is for us as a nation to recognize that all citizens of the United Sates are protected by our constitution. We need to stop deciding that one group versus another group is the flavor of the day and we need to do things that provide for justice and liberty for everybody.”

    Carson’s comments come as the Supreme Court prepares to weigh in on same-sex marriage this summer and in the wake of the recent controversy over the push for controversial “religious freedom” laws that could give business owners leeway to refuse services to gay couples planning to get married, for example.

    The Republican governors of Indiana and Arkansas made fixes to legislation in their states after a nationwide backlash.

    RELATED: Ben Carson calls Obama a ‘psychopath’

    Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/09/politics/ben-carson-lgbt-issues-personal/index.html

Asia’s LGBT People Migrate to Escape Violence at Home

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Long before Joe Wong had his breasts and uterus surgically removed, he was Joleen, who once used an entire roll of brown duct tape to flatten her chest in an effort to look less feminine at her new secondary school in Singapore.

A close relative, angered by Joleen’s clumsy and obvious attempt to bind her breasts, struck her on the head, pulled up her shirt, and tore off the tape, ripping off bits of skin in the process. Joleen endured a childhood of daily beatings from this relative, a knife pressed to her face, a death threat, and forced therapy with an expensive counselor who told her she was “disgusting” for kissing and holding hands with girls.

“When you get beaten every day, you no longer feel the pain, you just feel numb,” said Wong, now a 31-year-old transgender man working with the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network rights group in Bangkok.

Across Asia, which is largely patriarchal and conservative, the violence lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face is often from their own families, who beat them to make them conform and maintain the social balance, experts say.

Homosexual acts are illegal in 78 countries around the world, punishable by jail time in places including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Singapore, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

Such laws drive stigma and discrimination and essentially condone family violence, though the problem remains hidden, glimpsed through many anecdotes but little data.

To escape the beatings and find a sense of belonging, LGBT people in Asia flock to cities in their own country, and increasingly—with the Internet and social media easing migration for jobs and gay marriage—many like Wong are leaving their home country altogether.

“I’ve never been more at home than now, even though I’m not at home,” he said, his deep voice, broad shoulders, and moustache betraying no sign of his childhood as a girl.

“I removed everything that was bringing me down. I removed the toxic people in my life. Now it’s just me and my problems that I have to confront,” said Wong, who did not identify the abusive relative to avoid further straining family ties.

“I feel really liberated,” he said as he sipped a fruit shake in a quiet café.

A key reason for family violence against LGBT people in Asia—and the way this region differs from other parts of the world—is the “family shame factor,” said Ging Cristobal, the Asia-Pacific project coordinator for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

“You do not shame your family, because it’s not part of the norm in that society. It’s a taboo,” Cristobal said in a Skype call from Manila.

Many Asian families push LGBT relatives into what the Chinese call “marriages of convenience,” partly to help parents save face.

One Pakistani lesbian in her mid-20s fled to Bangkok two years ago because she was forced into marriage in Pakistan and was facing death threats from her own family, said Anoop Sukumaran, executive director of the Bangkok-based Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, which is helping her as she applies for UNHCR refugee status.

While young LGBT people are theoretically covered under laws protecting children from violence, most suffer in silence for fear they will otherwise have no one to look after them.

Cristobal said she often advises young LGBT people who rely on their family for their tuition to find supportive friends, and then seek a college education or find work away from home. “Then you try to be stealthy. You try not to give clues that you are an LGBT person,” she said.

Wong said he could turn to no one for help when he faced violence at home. “Sometimes neighbors intervened…but even police wouldn’t do anything about family violence,” he said.

Activists say including sexual orientation and gender identity in laws, policies, and programs to prevent violence against women and children would reduce family violence against LGBT people.

For instance, Cristobal said a young man in Manila contacted her via Facebook last year because his brother had threatened to kill him because he was gay. She told him to call the police.

“The brother was not there anymore. Police came and gave their personal mobile number. The neighbors saw the police… were supportive of the gay guy, so I think that regulated them from directly telling him negative things,” she said.

Vietnamese mother-son activists Lily Dinh and Teddy Nguyen say family attitudes in their country have changed since the government decriminalized same-sex marriage.

In 2013, Vietnamese government officials organized discussions on same-sex marriage and invited Dinh—who heads a small chapter of PFLAG, a group for parents and friends of LGBT people—to speak, along with others from the group.

“I think that was the first time the government officers from the ministry of justice and from Congress met LGBT people in real life, and the first time they met with LGBT parents, too,” Dinh said from Ho Chi Minh City.

“We told our stories because we wanted the government to understand the difficulties our children face in their daily lives…. I think that the officials understood and felt empathy for the PFLAG members and for the LGBT community.”

The United Nations Development Programme recently gave PFLAG Vietnam a $24,000 grant to travel to five provinces over the next six months to raise awareness of LGBT issues and rights.

“Things are getting better…but it will take time for the government and society to understand clearly LGBT people, especially in the rural areas,” said Dinh.

This story was produced by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Related stories on TakePart:

The World’s Worst Places to Be Gay

Dear Obama: Here’s Why Jamaica’s LGBT Community Needs Your Help

Blackmail and Abuse: India’s Gay Sex Ban Stirs Violence

Original article from TakePart

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/asias-gays-struggle-survive-222754434.html

Will White House's gender-neutral restroom start a national trend?

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

The next battleground for LGBT rights may be the public restroom.

The White House recently opened its first gender-neutral bathroom, it announced Wednesday, a symbolic step by the Obama administration to raise awareness of issues within the LGBT community.

Located in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the West Wing, the “all-gender restroom” is one of numerous gestures President Obama has taken in the last year or so to raise the profile of gay and lesbian rights – and it may signal a trend toward more gender-neutral restrooms in facilities across the country.

Recommended: How much do you know about gay rights in America? Take the quiz!

“The president is determined to lead by example,” White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett wrote in an op-ed in the Advocate, a magazine focused on LGBT issues. “He has hired more openly LGBT Americans to serve in his administration than any other in history. And we have closely examined our internal policies on everything from benefits, to restroom access, to how we invite people to events, to ensure that everyone who enters this building feels safe and fully respected.”

Among the steps the Obama administration has taken to bolster gay and lesbian rights is an executive order banning discrimination against gay and transgender employees of the federal government and of companies that contract with the federal government. That executive order went into effect on Wednesday.

As Politico pointed out, the President also famously endorsed same-sex marriage in 2012, used the word “transgender” in this year’s State of the Union address, included sex-reassignment surgery in Medicare coverage, and “saluted the struggles of gay Americans in his speech last month in Selma, Ala., marking the 50th anniversary of one of the most important marches of the civil rights movement…”

And in announcing the presence of gender-neutral bathrooms in the White House, the Obama administration appears to be starting a national conversation about transgender Americans’ access to restrooms.

Advocates say being forced to use a gender-specific bathroom can cause fear and anxiety for transgender people. Some have reported being harassed for using the “wrong” bathroom at public places like hotels, airports, businesses, and schools. As such, LGBT supporters have championed gender-neutral facilities for years.

“I don’t think there is a strong trend in making such options ‘mandatory’ but it is increasingly, in my observation, recognized as a “best practice” to promote inclusion for lots of people who may benefit – like families, people with opposite-sex caretakers,” says Erin Buzuvis, a professor of law at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. and Director of Center for Gender Sexuality Studies.

“A growing number of college campuses and businesses have established gender-inclusive facilities,” adds Suzanne Ashworth, an associate professor of English at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, who teaches Gender Sexuality studies and who fought for gender neutral restrooms at Otterbein.

In fact, Washington, DC, has had a law requiring new or renovated city-owned buildings to include gender-neutral restrooms on the books since 2006, though it may not be enforced often. Austin, Texas, enacted a similar law last year, and the Philadelphia City Council passed such a law in 2013.

And according to an LA Times report, West Hollywood is the first city in California to adopt gender-neutral restrooms. The University of California also announced last year that its campuses would begin converting single-stall restrooms into gender-neutral facilities, and state public schools began allowing students to use the bathrooms of the gender with which they identify, rather than their birth gender, according to the report.

But there’s a counter movement at the state level against the proliferation of gender-neutral bathrooms.

The White House’s announcement of its first all-gender restroom comes as a handful of state legislatures are considering laws that would restrict which public restrooms transgender people can use. Lawmakers in Nevada, Minnesota, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and Kentucky have all put forth measures requiring schoolchildren to use bathrooms that match their gender at birth.

In Florida, for example, the “Single Sex Public Facilities” bill in the state House would prohibit “knowingly willfully entering single-sex public facility designated for or restricted to persons of other biological sex,” reports Politico. Proponents say the bills are a means to protect against sexual predators.

Transgender advocates have responded to the measures on social media with the #WeJustNeedToPee campaign, in which transgender people across the country share selfies on social media taken in single-sex bathrooms.

For them, the White House’s gender-neutral bathroom marks a significant victory.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told Politico, “It is heartening to see that, even if legislators in some states are attacking the dignity and humanity of transgender and gender non-conforming people, at least the White House is still moving in the direction of dignity and common sense.”

Related stories

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Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/white-houses-gender-neutral-restroom-start-national-trend-191757009.html

Federal Eye: Federal contracting bias against LGBT Americans is banned

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Post Contributor Badge

This commenter is a Washington Post contributor. Post contributors aren’t staff, but may write articles or columns. In some cases, contributors are sources or experts quoted in a story.

Article source: http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/c/34656/f/636635/s/45474731/sc/7/l/0L0Swashingtonpost0N0Cblogs0Cfederal0Eeye0Cwp0C20A150C0A40C10A0Cfederal0Econtracting0Ebias0Eagainst0Elgbt0Eamericans0Eis0Ebanned0C0Dwprss0Frss0Inational/story01.htm

What It's Like To Come Out At Work

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

It happened to me just the other day. I was having coffee with a colleague, and we’d moved onto the subject of partners. Rather esoterically, we were discussing how he and his girlfriend had learned to play the piano in different ways: one by ear, the other from reading sheet music. It reminded me of my boyfriend, a conductor, with whom I have had similar conversations about music. “Yes,” I said, in reply. “In fact, my boyfriend and I talked about this just yesterday.”

And there it was. That same old, subtle freeze of the eyelids, when someone realizes you are gay.

It still isn’t entirely comfortable being out in the workplace. Victimization has largely been replaced with the sort of awkwardness I described above, which likely has more to do with not wanting to offend someone then with homophobia. However, for me and for millions like me, it is an alienating experience, which makes a person think: “Why bother?” when it comes to coming out. It just doesn’t seem worth the hassle.

But there are, in fact, a lot of reasons to come out. Goldman Sachs’s CIO, Marty Chavez, shared why he encourages people to come out at work in a recent talk he gave to an assembly of tech LGBT people at Goldman Sachs. He said, “Gay people are happier, healthier, and more productive if they feel they can bring their whole selves to work.”

A recent survey of 200 senior LGBT business figures from the LGBT professional network seems to affirm his view. In the survey, 85% of those polled thought closeted workers were spending too much energy pretending to be straight, and 61% said as a result, they will not work as hard for their company. Almost all participants—over 80%—said they thought hiding your true self at work reduced confidence, created anxiety, and isolated LGBT workers from their colleagues.

OUTstanding CEO Neil Bentley says we’ve come a long way in helping people see that they can be themselves at work, but we’ve got a long way to go yet. “Judging from our members, the state of people out at work is good, but there’s room for improvement.” He reports another statistic from the survey: “Just 24% of the executives polled believe middle managers have an inclusive attitude towards LGBT colleagues.” In a similar report from Out Now, 20% felt they could not be out at work at all.

Bentley says it isn’t just individuals who suffer. “If you’re hiding things about yourself, people perceive that, [which] drains morale. Individual productivity suffers, so team performance suffers,” he says. “Especially at a time when competition, as in the tech sector, is so stiff. [Leaders] need to make sure employees are performing at their best.”

Adrian Barlow, a partner at the law firm Pinsent Masons, describes his experience coming out in the 1990s along similar lines.

I tried to come out to my line manager in 1990, but he told me, rightly or wrongly, that several senior partners would not be accepting of my being gay and that I should stay in the closet. I felt deflated. It had been a major step to come out at all, even to one person.

I felt I had lost my way, and that the firm didn’t value or support me. I didn’t want to perform well for the firm that was rejecting such an important part of who I was. I started to care about my work less, resulting in a poor performance review. That then made me look for employment elsewhere: I started to look for employers where being gay wouldn’t be an issue.

Barlow remained at Pinsent Masons, eventually rising to his senior role where, today, he can act as an example for younger gay lawyers. He says:

I realized that I was just seeking to hide in a ghetto. I took advice from the then chair of Stonewall, who told me to come out in my own time as my confidence grew. I was advised to be the best I could be at my job, become valued as an employee and colleague in the workplace, and once I had established myself and earned the respect of my colleagues, I would be more likely to rise to a position of influence, where I could help change the culture of the business from within.

How Businesses Can Make Coming Out Easier

Bentley recommends two things that businesses can do to improve the situation for LGBT people in the workplace. The first is having senior role models like Barlow, who encourage younger gay employees. As empathy is such an important quality in leaders, it’s important to realize that being gay today means still seeing that people like you are still second-class citizens in many parts of the world.

He’s not suggesting hiring people for senior positions because they’re gay. But making clear from the upper echelons that being gay is not a hindrance or an issue for middle and upper management will lift a weight from their shoulders.

Simon Feeke, director of membership programmes at advocacy group Stonewall in the U.K., says LGBT employees feel anxious about the views of upper management on personal issues. “Gay [people] go to work with very real anxieties about management, for instance, whether they are supportive or not of their sexual orientation. Depending on what they perceive, they might not feel comfortable enough to come out.”

The second of Bentley’s suggestions is a mentorship system, or space available in which LGBT people can relate their experiences: both Pinsent Mason and Goldman Sachs have such a system. This allows communication of any possible issues and concerns they have. But it also creates a sense that they are welcome, and their voices are being heard.

While the culture in businesses today might be more liberal, there is still work to be done. Feeke and Bentley are especially concerned about “conservative” industries like finance, insurance, manufacturing, and construction, where upper management role models are scarce—as is diversity in general, for that matter.

But the news on the whole is good. Leaders care about LGBT employees, and the culture is changing. Barlow says he feels positive about where things are headed: “On business trips to the Far East and the Gulf last autumn, I participated in discussions aiming to promote religious tolerance and understanding between Christians and Muslims. On the gay issue, I was heartened by a male Muslim colleague wearing traditional dress saying that he was proud of our company’s stance on LGBT rights.”

Even in countries where there is a recent record of terrible treatment of LGBT people, there is rapid, encouraging progress. As Barlow says: “In this context, we need to pursue with vigour, tempered by patience, the pursuit of our human rights.”

Jack Flanagan is a freelance writer and content consultant based in London. His writing about technology and mental health has appeared in the Observer, New Scientist, the Daily Dot, and Attitude, among others.

Article source: http://www.fastcompany.com/3044664/what-its-like-to-come-out-at-work?partner=rss

Asia's LGBT people migrate to escape violence at home

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

By Alisa Tang

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Long before Joe Wong surgically removed his breasts and uterus, he was Joleen, who once used an entire roll of brown duct tape to flatten her chest in an effort to look less feminine at her new secondary school in Singapore.

A close relative, angered by her clumsy and obvious attempt to bind her breasts, struck her on the head, pulled up her shirt and tore off the tape, ripping off bits of skin in the process.

Joleen endured a childhood of daily beatings from this relative, a knife pressed to her face, a death threat, and forced therapy with an expensive counselor who told her she was “disgusting” for kissing and holding hands with girls.

“When you get beaten every day, you no longer feel the pain, you just feel numb,” said Wong, now a 31-year-old transgender man working with the Asia Pacific Transgender Network rights group in Bangkok.

Across Asia, which is largely patriarchal and conservative, the violence lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people face is often from their own families, who beat them to make them conform and maintain the social balance, experts say.

Homosexual acts are illegal in 78 countries around the world, punishable by jail time in places including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore, according to the International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

Such laws drive stigma and discrimination, and essentially condone family violence, though the problem remains hidden, glimpsed through many anecdotes but little data, activists say.

To escape the beatings and find a sense of belonging, LGBT people in Asia flock to cities in their own country, and increasingly – with the Internet and social media easing migration for jobs and gay marriage – many like Wong are leaving their home country altogether.

“I’ve never been more at home than now, even though I’m not at home,” he said, his deep voice, broad shoulders and moustache betraying no sign of his childhood as a girl.

“I removed everything that was bringing me down. I removed the toxic people in my life. Now it’s just me and my problems that I have to confront,” said Wong, who did not identify the abusive relative to avoid further straining family ties.

“I feel really liberated,” he said as he sipped a fruit shake in a quiet cafe next door to the offices of APTN.

LIVING IN STEALTH

A key reason for family violence against LGBT people in Asia – and the way this region differs from other parts of the world – is the “family shame factor”, says Ging Cristobal, the Asia-Pacific project coordinator for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).

“You do not shame your family, because it’s not part of the norm in that society. It’s a taboo,” Cristobal said in a Skype call from Manila.

Many Asian families push LGBT relatives into what the Chinese call “marriages of convenience”, partly to help parents save face.

One Pakistani lesbian in her mid-20s fled to Bangkok two years ago because she was forced into marriage in Pakistan and was facing death threats from her own family, said Anoop Sukumaran, executive director of the Bangkok-based Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, which is helping her as she applies for UNHCR refugee status.

While young LGBT people are theoretically covered under laws protecting children from violence, most suffer in silence for fear they will otherwise have no one to look after them.

Cristobal said she often advises young LGBT people who rely on their family for their tuition to find supportive friends, and then seek a college education or find work away from home.

“Then you try to be stealthy. You try not to give clues that you are an LGBT person,” Cristobal said.

SUPPORTIVE LAWS REDUCE VIOLENCE

Wong says he could turn to no one for help when he faced violence at home. “Sometimes neighbors intervened… but even police wouldn’t do anything about family violence,” he said.

Activists say including sexual orientation and gender identity in laws, policies and programs to prevent violence against women and children would reduce family violence against LGBT people.

For instance, Cristobal said a young man in Manila contacted her via Facebook last year because his brother had threatened to kill him because he was gay. She told him to call the police.

“The brother was not there any more. Police came and gave their personal mobile number. The neighbors saw the police… were supportive of the gay guy, so I think that regulated them from directly telling him negative things,” she said.

Vietnamese mother-son activists Lily Dinh and Teddy Nguyen say family attitudes in Vietnam have changed since the government decriminalised same-sex marriage.

In 2013, Vietnamese government officials organized discussions on same-sex marriage, and invited Dinh – who heads a small chapter of PFLAG, a group for parents and friends of LGBT people – to speak, along with others from the group.

“I think that was the first time the government officers from the ministry of justice and from congress met LGBT people in real life, and the first time they met with LGBT parents, too,” Dinh said in a Skype call from Ho Chi Minh City.

“We told our stories because we wanted the government to understand the difficulties our children face in their daily lives… I think that the officials understood and felt empathy for the PFLAG members and for the LGBT community.”

The U.N. Development Program recently gave PFLAG Vietnam a $24,000 grant to travel to five provinces over the next six months to raise awareness of LGBT issues and rights.

“Things are getting better … but it will take time for the government and society to understand clearly LGBT people, especially in the rural areas,” said Dinh.

(Reporting by Alisa Tang, Editing by Tim Pearce)

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/asias-lgbt-people-migrate-escape-violence-home-001126853.html

Constant threats 'part of life' for top Ugandan LGBT activist

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

By Maria Caspani

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In Uganda, homosexuality is considered akin to pedophilia, and prominent LGBT activist Frank Mugisha regards the threats he constantly receives as “part of life.”

“I get lots of threats on Facebook, I get threats on the phone…I get dozens of them,” Mugisha said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation in New York.

“When you talk about homosexuality in Uganda, the only things that resonate in people’s minds are child abuse and our culture.”

Mugisha is the director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the country’s leading LGBTI organization, and worked alongside LGBT activist David Kato who was brutally murdered in 2011.

Like most of sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda is highly religious and socially conservative. Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is common and politicians have long tried to pass legislation that denies basic rights to the LGBT community.

A law passed over a year ago, punishing gay sex with long prison terms, provoked an international storm of protest and led some donor countries to withhold aid.

The constitutional court overturned the law, formerly known as the “Kill the Gays” bill because its original draft included the death penalty for gay sex, in August 2014 on technicalities.

Mugisha and other rights activists fear that a new, even more draconian bill may soon see the light of day as elections approach and politicians start campaigning for votes.

A draft cited by Mugisha and seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation would prohibit renting property to LGBT people, prevent them from applying for adoption or fostering of a child, and would ban “the promotion of unnatural sexual practices” in print, broadcast media or advertising.

“Practically speaking the bill could cut off LGBT people from housing – even within their family home – and from health services, and advocacy organizations that exist to defend … their rights,” said Wade McMullen, managing attorney of the international strategic litigation unit at Robert F. Kennedy Partners for Human Rights.

Mugisha himself was forced to leave a rented property because of his sexual orientation and his advocacy work, and said people get thrown out of their homes merely on suspicion of being gay, or if they are associated with the LGBT community.

Life is in some ways harder for gay Ugandans who are not openly gay, he said. Objects of suspicion, “They are constantly harassed, they’re beaten, arrested and evicted from their apartments … Sometimes in the most horrible ways, with the police present, the media, throwing their property on the street.”

Before it was overturned, the law passed early last year forced many LGBT Ugandans into hiding, cutting them off from health services such as HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, according to rights activists.

Mugisha’s organization documented over 150 cases of abuse during the time the law was in place, from harassment and beatings to arrests, leading to one person committing suicide.

“A friend of mine was arrested and charged with “unnatural texting” … Two males texting, (that’s) considered unnatural!” said Mugisha.

“Uganda is one of the flashpoints for the international community because their politicians are taking (this) to a yet unseen level of persecution … It would be far and beyond what we’ve seen in places like Russia,” McMullen said.

CHANGING POLITICS AND MINDSETS

Politicians in Uganda have been exploiting anti-gay sentiment to win votes and, with elections coming up in 2016, experts fear the chances of a new bill being put forward are greater than ever.

“As elections approach, we’re very fearful that the politicization of homophobia will result in the introduction of a new bill,” said McMullen.

While some politicians may harbor genuine homophobic beliefs, many others are not themselves hostile to the LGBT community but would still use the issue of homosexuality to gain political and popular support.

“Politicians know that’s what people want to hear, so they use anti-homosexual sentiment to promote their own agendas,” Mugisha said.

The political climate became more favorable after the law was overturned last year, Mugisha said, and his organization was able to meet government officials and discuss the issue.

But homophobia remains deep-rooted in Uganda, and changing that is a huge challenge, he said. “But, in terms of politics and laws, we are making progress,” he added.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Tim Pearce)

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/constant-threats-part-life-top-ugandan-lgbt-activist-000647659.html

Springfield, Mo., voters repeal LGBT anti-discrimination law

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Voters in Springfield, Mo., voted by a slim margin to repeal protections against discrimination for the city’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens.

lRelated Religious conservatives are the targets of discrimination, lawyer says
NationReligious conservatives are the targets of discrimination, lawyer saysSee all related

The measure passed in Missouri’s third-largest city with 51.4% of the vote Tuesday night.

Backlash against religious freedom laws helps gay rights in Indiana, Arkansas

“We are still here for each other, and we will still work together to continue to make Springfield a welcoming place for all people,” A.J. Bockelman, executive director of the LGBT rights group PROMO, said in a statement. “Tomorrow, just as today, we continue working to achieve equality.”

Last October, Springfield’s city council added sexual orientation and gender identity to an existing nondiscrimination ordinance, protecting against unequal treatment in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Opponents of the amended ordinance said Springfield businesses have “no exemptions for positions they wish to hire,” adding that they were concerned with the law’s “unintended dangers.”

The repeal comes as the nation debates religious freedom, the rights of business owners and LGBT rights. Pressure began mounting several weeks ago after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill granting far-reaching freedoms for religious beliefs, protecting those who say their beliefs forbid them from serving same-sex couples.

The measure triggered immediate backlash as civil rights advocates called the religious freedom law discriminatory against gays and lesbians. By early last week, Pence was faced with a torrent of canceled convention bookings, stalled construction plans and the specter of business leaving the state just as the NCAA’s Final Four was about to start in Indianapolis.

An amendment was quickly approved by the Indiana Legislature and Pence signed the revised bill that offered some protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

In Springfield’s case, however, supporters of the repeal said the anti-discrimination protections opened the door for sexual predators in public spaces.

“It gives anyone claiming to be transgender the right to choose which public locker room, dressing room, bathroom, or other previously gender specific area they wish to use,” the Yes on Question 1 campaign wrote on its website.

The campaign insisted it was not likening transgender people to sexual predators, arguing that “sexual predators, usually heterosexual, can and will use this ordinance to pretend to be transgender in order to access women’s locker rooms, dressing rooms, bathrooms, women’s shelters, and other private areas.”

The ACLU of Missouri said it would continue to advocate for a state law protecting the LGBT community. Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, called Tuesday’s vote “disappointing.”

“Everyone in Springfield, including LGBT people, should be able to live, work, and care for their family without fear of discrimination,” Rouse said in a statement. “We’re committed to ensuring that equality will ultimately prevail in Springfield and throughout the state of Missouri.”

For more national news, follow me on Twitter: @ParviniParlance

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-missouri-antidiscrimination-law-20150408-story.html?track=rss

Missouri Town Repeals Protections for LGBT Residents

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Courtesy of PROMO
Signs hung at a business in Springfield, Mo., express support for upholding a local non-discrimination measure for LGBT residents, which was repealed on April 7, 2015.

Like recent political battles in Indiana and Arkansas, the fight pitted Christians against the LGBT community

Article source: http://time.com/3814038/missouri-town-repeals-protections-lgbt-residents/

Most younger Americans support laws to protect LGBT people: poll

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

By Maria Caspani

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Most younger Americans are in favour of federal laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination, paving the way for social change, according to a poll by a thinktank.

A poll by policy institute, the Center for American Progress, found 65 percent of Americans aged 18 to 34 supported laws to prevent discrimination LGBT people still suffer in areas such as employment and housing.

So-called millennials, those born after 1980, are an important demographic in U.S. elections and a group that politicians must court to win key races in the 2016 elections, the Center said.

“These numbers show that America’s rising electorate stands firmly on the side of basic fairness for all people,” said Laura E. Durso, director of the Center’s LGBT research and communication project.

“In order to remedy the current reality of widespread legal discrimination against LGBT Americans, we will need millennials’ leadership and passion to push Congress to enact comprehensive non-discrimination protections,” she said.

There are some 9.5 million LGBT people in the United States.

There have been huge strides in same-sex marriage, which is now legal in 37 states. However, in 29 states it is legal to fire and refuse housing and other services to people based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Center.

The survey comes after two states, Indiana and Arkansas, revised new religious freedom acts that had drawn criticism from rights groups and U.S. companies which said they discriminated against gays.

Oklahoma followed suit by shelving a bill that would have expanded its religious freedom law to allow people to deny services to same-sex couples.

Such events show the need for urgent federal action to introduce nationwide protection for LGBT people, advocates said.

“Even with the purported fixes to the Indiana law signed late last week, it is still legal to deny housing, employment, and services to LGBT Americans based solely on their sexual orientation and gender identity in roughly 30 states – Indiana included,” said Durso.

The backlash triggered by the Indiana law from not only rights groups, but also corporations such as Apple Inc. helped to advance the argument that LGBT discrimination is not only morally wrong, but also bad for business, activists said.

“There’s so much data on how this impacts business,” Todd Sears, founder of Out on the Street, the first global LGBT leadership organization in the financial industry, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

When people are unable to live their life openly they are less productive at work, while better inclusion helps business, Sears said.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Katie Nguyen and Lisa Anderson)

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/most-younger-americans-support-laws-protect-lgbt-people-185957035.html

LGBT community brings out media guide for improved reporting

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

  • File photo of a gay parade in the city

Asserting its space in the society, the LGBT (lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, also known as “sexual minority” has come out with a manual specifying how it wants to be addressed, particularly by the media.

The manual, called Sanchar Media Guide, has been described as a recommended language manual for improved reporting on sexual minorities.

The manual, which was launched on Tuesday, discusses a glossary of terms in connection with LGBT community wherein 24 terms like queer, rainbow flag, MSM and ‘closeted frequently’ used in connection with the community have been defined.

“There is a gap, especially in the regional language media, pertaining to not just an understanding of basic terms and terminologies but also the issues involved, how they may be applied. As we observed in our research, in either direct or indirect way, personal opinion of media personnel mars objectivity of the reporting,” said Alpana Dange, consultant to NGO Humsafar Trust, which took the initiative of compiling the manual along with NGO Pehchaan.

The guide also has sections on ‘learn about transgender people, terms to avoid while reporting on LGBT, common myths about LGBT people etc. It also gives contact details of ‘spokespersons’ for the community from almost all over the country to ensure the right person is contacted for comments in case any issue related to the community arises. This, however, is just the first edition of the manual and a revised version is expected next year based on its response.

The manual aims at eradicating myths like homosexuality is against Indian culture or is unnatural or is responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS. It also objects to any kind of association of homosexuals with child sexual abuse.The manual has reportedly been prepared after studying hundreds of media reports on the LGBT community.

Victims of misinformation

Gay people are paedophiles, sexual predators.

Homosexuality is situational: Whenever there is a shortage of women combined with an all-male setting, such as hostels, military barracks and shared dwellings, men have sex with each other.

Gay men are feminine and lesbian women are like men.

LGBT people are demanding special rights.

Article source: http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-lgbt-community-brings-out-media-guide-for-improved-reporting-2075600

Aetna aims for LGBT community with targeted marketing test

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Aetna is urging gay customers to “be proud” — and consider buying its coverage — as part of a new, narrow focus to selling health insurance in a business where the individual’s buying decision matters more than it used to.

The nation’s third-largest health insurer is using mobile phone apps, print ads and a recently launched website to appeal to the estimated 9 million members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the United States. Its website features a video of a gay woman and man talking about love and relationships. It also helps visitors find LGBT-friendly doctors and promises coverage “with features that fit you, your partner and your family.”

Experts say changes in technology and how insurance is sold, plus a more fickle customer who wants to know where companies stand on certain issues, all create fertile ground for such a targeted approach. But this push comes with the risk of turning off customers who don’t agree with a company’s stance.

“You have to differentiate on who you are and what you stand for, and that’s trickier,” said Allen Adamson, chairman of North American business for the branding firm Landor Associates. “Not everyone’s going to like you.”

Aetna has offered help finding LGBT-friendly providers for years, and it has long backed issues like domestic partner coverage, all of which it details on its new website. The insurer decided to package this into a marketing push after talking to its employees, who pointed out that the LGBT community shows loyalty to companies that favor its inclusion. The company decided to test market to that community as a way to learn more about selling to specific demographic groups, President Karen Rohan said.

“This is a pilot for us to really understand how people are making choices and how people are thinking about purchasing health care,” she said.

Health insurers have become more focused on what individuals think over the past few years because more people are making decisions about which insurance to buy, instead of just having their employer do it for them. The health care overhaul has launched public insurance exchanges across the country where millions of customers sort through several options before settling on a plan.

Those are very competitive markets that require insurers to sell themselves to individuals, because it is relatively easy to compare plans and services, said Vishnu Lekraj, a Morningstar analyst who covers the insurance industry.

In addition to that, more individuals are sifting every fall among options for privately run Medicare Advantage plans, which provide coverage for people who are over 65 or disabled.

Medicare Advantage plans and those exchanges are two key sources of future growth for insurers, Lekraj said.

Technology also makes such targeted marketing easier. The Internet offers Aetna a way to reach LGBT customers who may be searching for companies friendly to their community. It’s a segmented marketing approach Adamson is starting to see more.

“The days of one message and one story for everybody are dwindling,” he said.

Another insurer, Kaiser Permanente, has operated a website similar to Aetna’s for several years, and a number of companies have run marketing campaigns specifically targeting the LGBT community.

Companies are trying to keep pace with evolving views as the public becomes more supportive and accepting of gay rights, said Laura Ries, president of the marketing strategy firm Ries Ries.

“I think companies are realizing this, and they’re following the dollars,” she said. “This is a community that also has a lot of disposable income.”

Aetna’s Rohan doesn’t expect customer backlash from this particular focus.

“I think people generally are supportive of diversity and inclusion,” she said.

___

Online: http://aet.na/1xzNknm

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/aetna-aims-lgbt-community-targeted-162326922.html

Detroit Tigers to host first LGBT Pride Night in June

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

The Detroit Tigers will hold their first LGBT Pride Night on June 3 when the team hosts the Oakland Athletics, reports The Detroit News‘s Tony Paul.

Detroit is the fourth club that will be holding a LGBT Pride Night this season, joining the A’s, San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs, who have been holding a LGBT night since the 2001 season. 

Paul reports there have been no notable fan concerns with the Tigers’ plans.

• A look at the best of Opening Day

When the A’s announced their LGBT night last month, Eireann Dolan, the girlfriend of A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle, wrote a blog post announcing she would purchase tickets from season ticket holders that did not want to attend the game.

The Tigers’ event is co-sponsored by the Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce and tickets on the lower baseline will be offered in the $40 range.

Here’s all the action you need to know about from MLB’s Opening Day in 60 seconds. 

Jack Jorgensen

Article source: http://www.si.com/mlb/2015/04/07/detroit-tigers-lgbt-pride-night-june?xid=si_mlb

Civilities: All your questions about LGBT/straight social dilemmas

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Every other Tuesday, Steven Petrow (the author of “Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay Lesbian Manners”) addresses questions about LGBT and straight etiquette in his column, Civilities.
In between, join Steven for his chat — about everything that’s on your mind.
Here’s more about Steven’s “Civilities” column and what makes him the person to dole out advice.

You can also reach Steven on Facebook at facebook.com/stevenpetrow and on Twitter @stevenpetrow.

Article source: http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/c/34656/f/636609/s/45287ba2/sc/27/l/0Llive0Bwashingtonpost0N0Ccivilities0Ewith0Esteven0Epetrow0E20A150A70A40Bhtml0Dwprss0Frss0Istyle/story01.htm

LGBTs have moved into the mainstream

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Pat Robertson shared a revelation last week. The LGBT agenda, he warned, will force straight people to “like” gay sexual practices.

Regardless of Robertson’s feverish fantasies – delivered on his 700 Club show – same-sex intimacies are unlikely to become all the rage.

But gay people do seem to have attained an unprecedented level of acceptance. You might even call it popularity.

Consider the heartening resistance to so-called religious freedom restoration legislation in states such as Indiana and Arkansas.

Proposals that critics say would have given official cover for faith-based discrimination in the marketplace were withdrawn and amended after a national pushback – and not just from LGBT people.

We seem to have made many allies, from Hollywood to the chamber of commerce. Straight family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues with whom we openly share our lives know and like us; they also know they have nothing to fear.

“One of the major successes of the gay movement in the 1960s was our breakthrough into mainstream publicity,” Philadelphia’s Barbara Gittings said in the well-regarded 1984 documentary Before Stonewall.

A “shield of invisibility . . . had always made it hard for us to get our message across,” she added, aptly describing a goal of the post-World War II gay liberation movement she helped create and lead.

Gittings, whom I interviewed a few years before her death in 2007, recognized early on that the presence of out-and-proud lesbians and gay men in print or on TV would be revolutionary.

So on July 4, 1965, wearing a dress and carrying a sign (“Homosexuals should be judged as individuals”), Gittings and a small group of activists held a then-unprecedented demonstration outside Independence Hall.

Merely whispering about one’s homosexuality – never mind parading around in front of a national shrine – could lead to personal and professional ruin a half-century ago.

Times surely have changed. Philadelphia will mark the demonstration’s 50th anniversary with a three-day celebration beginning July 3.

What happened in the interim? Gay baby boomers like me grew up and came out in huge numbers; AIDS galvanized public sympathy and support for a community fighting for its life; and realistic portrayals of LGBT people blossomed in the media.

“Barbara Gittings . . . and many other early leaders constantly called on us to come out,” says Kathy Hogan, a lawyer who lives in Cherry Hill and was a prominent activist in 1970s Philadelphia.

LGBT people were inspired, Hogan says, “to be visible, to be proud of ourselves, and [to be] brave in our lives.”

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia, and the Supreme Court may be poised to legalize marriage equality nationwide.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but religious freedom restoration legislation is being pushed in several states that still ban marriage equality. Evidently, faith-based caterers are living in fear of the hordes of same-sex couples they imagine will demand their services.

(Why anyone, gay or straight, would want to compel someone to make a wedding cake, or take a wedding picture, is beyond me.)

While supporters say the laws would provide a system for finding balance between religious convictions and individual rights, critics contend the measures would sanction expressions of sectarian disapproval in the secular marketplace.

Happily, two silver-haired Republican governors last week bowed to the unexpectedly fierce public pressure against religious freedom measures they insisted were modeled on a two-decade-old federal law – and had absolutely, positively nothing whatsoever to do with discriminating against LGBT people.

Three famously antigay leaders do appear in photos of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s private signing ceremony of the original bill, which he subsequently claimed was flawless, although in need of clarification.

More genuinely, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson noted that his own son had signed a petition asking him not to approve his state’s measure.

Hutchinson cited a “generation gap” regarding LGBT people, a charmingly retro description of the dramatic gulf between older and younger Americans about same-sex marriage and related issues.

With so many LGBT people claiming our rightful places at the table, attitudes are changing even faster than new generations emerge.

“Our growing visibility these last 50 years has resulted in a clear majority of Americans now supporting fair and equal treatment for LGBTs,” Hogan says.

“When we start getting support from unlikely allies, like NASCAR and Wal-Mart, you know we’re winning the battle for equal rights.”


kriordan@phillynews.com

856-779-3845 @inqkriordan

www.philly.com/blinq


Article source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150407_LGBTs_have_moved_into_the_mainstream.html

Seder brings together Las Vegas’ Jewish, LGBT communities

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Men, women and children were offered their pick from a basket of rainbow-colored yarmulkes as they arrived at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada for a Passover celebration Monday night.

Everyone who is hungry is welcome at a Passover Seder, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and people who are transgender. By tradition, everyone who is needy is welcome to celebrate.

The Center partnered with the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas two years ago to bridge the gap between the LGBT and Jewish communities, Marni Unger, 27, said.

Unger is the Jewish Federation’s director of leadership and community development. The Henderson woman said it’s important during Passover to draw attention to the fact that people around the world are victims of persecution.

In that way, it’s very much a freedom Seder, she said. “It’s a meal and an experience.”

“We’re accepting of all Jewish people, regardless of orientation or identity,” Unger added. Unlike some other religious groups, Unger said the Jewish and gay communities aren’t always in conflict.

Dozens of people of all shapes, sizes, orientations and genders gathered to pray, sing, tell stories and eat at the celebration, which was specially tailored to include elements of the struggles faced by Jews, the LGBT community and feminists. A microphone was passed around, and everyone was given a chance to read from the Haggadah, the Jewish text recited at the Seder.

David Mozes, 37, general manager of the Bronze Cafe at The Center, said he was involved with the Los Angeles-based JQ International, a global organization for LGBT Jews. He said Los Angeles has more than one synagogue serving the LGBT community, and they helped develop an inclusive Seder booklet in 2008.

Mozes was an eager contributor to the first Las Vegas LGBT Seder last year because while there are many congregations that still welcome people of every orientation and gender identity, Las Vegas does not have a synagogue specifically devoted to his community.

It gave him an opportunity to share his heritage with those in his new home. And it gave him and his business partner and “spousal equivalent,” Bronze Cafe Executive Chef Peter Bastien, 33, the chance to put their own spin on the traditional offerings — the restaurant specializes in vegan dishes and included plenty of meat-free options in the four-course feast.

“I think food assists in the retelling of stories,” Mozes said. “The way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, and that’s no more evident than at a Jewish holiday like Passover.”

After 400 years of Israeli slaves in Egypt, Moses confronted the pharaoh and led his people to freedom. The Passover Seder is a ritualized retelling of the story of Exodus. Even the items of food are symbolic of the struggles the Jewish people faced throughout the Exodus, Mozes said.

Parsley is dipped in saltwater and served to symbolize both tears and springtime. A lamb shank bone is traditionally used to stand for the lamb blood used to deter the angel of death during the final plague Moses unleashed on the Egyptians, said Rabbi Yocheved Mintz of the gay-friendly P’nai Tikvah congregation.

Sticks and stones have been added to show that both the LGBT and Jewish communities are unbreakable, Unger said.

Fruit salad was included to represent diversity and collaboration. Coconuts symbolized people who have been hardened by difficult lives but are still sweet inside.

“I’m humbled that you’re here in such great numbers tonight,” Michael Dimengo, CEO of The Center, said. “It’s when we remember our roots. It’s when we remember our convictions,” he said of the holiday.

“We can all leave this place committed to justice,” he said.

Next year, the nonprofits hope to sponsor a trip to Israel for Tel Aviv’s gay pride week, Elliot Karp, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation, said.

Mintz said she hopes one day it won’t be necessary to hold a special celebration to include the LGBT community because it will have widespread acceptance.

“We’ve started a beautiful tradition,” Karp said.

Article source: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/seder-brings-together-las-vegas-jewish-lgbt-communities

LGBT in the South Conference planned

Monday, April 6th, 2015

More than 450 people plan to gather at the Diana Wortham Theatre next week to talk about LGBT equality in the South.

Intersectionality and collaboration will be the core themes at the Campaign for Southern Equality’s second annual LGBT in the South Conference, scheduled for April 17-18.

The conference will explore how the LGBT rights movement can interface with civil rights and other campaigns to end injustice, said the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

“It’s a critical time for LGBT equality, especially in the South with the march for marriage equality and the pushback we are seeing,” she said.

The conference has doubled in size since last year. Participants from 16 states and Washington, D.C., representing more than 100 organizations, plan to attend.

Mandy Carter, an African-American lesbian social justice activist, will be the keynote speaker.

It will be a mix of small, grassroots partners like the Mitchell County Gay Straight Alliance and large, national organizations like Freedom to Marry and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Beach-Ferrara said.

At the event, teachers, clergy, lawyers, activists and service providers will join together to address issues facing LGBT southerners and to build skills for better organizing, advocacy and support, she said.

“It’s a critical moment in the southern equality movement and we are really excited about bringing together so many people to be sharing strategies and to be learning from each other,” Beach-Ferrara said.

Learn more

For more information about LGBT in the South, visit www.lgbtinthesouth.com. Registration for the event is full, but interested participants can join the waiting list.

Article source: http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2015/04/06/lgbt-south-conference-planned/25356519/

Russian LGBT activists describe victimisation, repression … and hope

Monday, April 6th, 2015

London stretches out below the window of the Stonewall meeting room on the 13th floor of a Waterloo tower block, and a group of 10 Russian human rights defenders admire the view. “London is the capital of Great Britain,” says Sergei Alekseenko, the director of the Maximum LGBT organisation, dusting off his high school English with a smile. He adds, in Russian: “It’s good to be here.”

The 10 activists are here to mine the experience of the UK’s largest LGBT rights organisation, which since it was founded in 1989 has seen the introduction of legislation allowing gay couples to adopt and the introduction of gay marriage, and to see if lessons learned in Britain can help combat an ever more repressive situation in their home country.

These are dark times for human rights activists in Russia, and particularly those advocating for the LGBT community. A series of laws, including the requirement for NGOs receiving international funding to register as “foreign agents” in 2012 and a ban on gay “propoganda” the following year, have left organisations facing hefty fines and increasing marginalisation. A pervasive tone of homophobia has emboldened violent vigilantes.

“Of course people are scared,” says Alekseenko, his arms folded across his chest. “Three or four years ago there were radical individuals, but now they form groups. They makes threats on social media, they publish details of activists, of their families, they threaten physical violence. Only a stupid person would not be afraid.”

Thanks to private donors Stonewall has welcomed the activists to its London hub for a week of workshops and training on subjects from security to influencing power and media skills. Founded by a small group of activists fighting for the repeal of section 28 of the 1998 Local Government Act, which, like Russia’s 2013 law, aimed to prevent the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools, they hope they have something to give.

Russian activists take part in a workshop at Stonewall’s London offices. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

The previous day was spent learning about media strategies, and being given tips by a former ITN news journalist on how to look, stand and sound when giving interviews to camera. By the end of the week, Stonewall’s Russian guests were learning what makes a good campaign ; the importance of using evidence, targets and goals; and ways of winning powerful allies. “It’s really a big opportunity for us to get knowledge that is difficult to get in Russia,” said Olesya Yakovenko of the Russian LGBT Network.

“It’s about giving them skills and confidence, something concrete. It’s about them hearing our experiences, including those things we got wrong,” says Caroline Ellis, a senior director at Stonewall. “We know that not everything will necessarily translate, so we’re here to learn too.”

By being in London, and agreeing to speak to the Guardian, the Russian activists know they are taking a significant risk, but they want their voices to be heard.

Having any kind of a voice is increasingly difficult, says Tatiana Vinnichenko, the chair of the Russian LGBT Network and director of the Arkhangelsk-based organisation Rakurs, which has been forced to register under Russia’s “foreign agents” law.

“It used to be much easier,” she says, proudly wearing a new T-shirt with the slogan “Some girls marry girls. Get over it”. “In the past, people thought they could make things better, things could improve. Now people are tired of fighting and getting nowhere.”

The activists tell stories of their organisations being investigated, of constantly moving goalposts, of being watched. One organisation was deemed to be engaging in political activity for having LGBT books, and an activist who is also a teacher, is in under investigation to ensure she is not promoting homosexuality.

Protesters take part in a London rally against Russia’s gay ‘propaganda’ law in 2103. Photograph: Rex Features

Dissent has also become an expensive business, says Anna Annenkova, from the Side by Side international film festival, which was fined 400,000 roubles (£4,700) in June 2014 after being named as a “foreign agent”.

“The first impact is of course financial, it is a huge effort to pay these fines, but the second is cultural,” Annenkova says. “To people in Russia ‘foreign agent’ means a spy, someone who wants to destroy the country. It’s really negative publicity.”

The ability to demonstrate has also been heavily curtailed, she adds. In the past protesting could carry a 500 rouble fine, now anyone holding a placard can face a penalty of 30,000 roubles, a good month’s salary.

The activists all fear the growing intolerance in Russian society, citing the case of Vladislav Tornovoi, a young gay man killed in a homophobic hate crime in Volgograd in May 2013. According to the investigation, he was raped with beer bottles and set on fire; a rock was brought down repeatedly on his head until he was dead.

Three men were later quietly tried and convicted with long jail sentences, but reaction to the murder from some was congratulatory.

From left to right, Anna Annenkova, Olesya Yakovenko, Tatiana Vinnichenko, Nika Yuryeva and Sergei Alekseenko. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

Anton Krasovsky, the former editor-in-chief of pro-Kremlin cable channel Kontr TV until he came out as gay on air, after which he was fired and the channel closed, wrote in the Guardian that news reports of the murder were followed with comments such as: “Putin did warn us that if the homos raise their heads, the Russian people will take up arms. One head has rolled.”” He added: “How did it come about that today in Russia a good gay person is a dead gay person?”

Homosexuality is not illegal in Russia. It was decriminalised in 1993 and removed from the list of mental illnesses in 1999. Since the passing of the homosexual “propaganda” law, however, there has been a hardening of public opinion. Polls suggest 68% of the public support the legislation.

A 2013 survey by the Pew Research Centre revealed that 74% of Russians believed homosexually should not be accepted, compared with 60% in 2002.

“Young people are the worst affected,” says Nika Yuryeva, of Coming Out LGBT group, which has been fighting attempts to classify it as a “foreign agent” since March 2013. “There is much more aggression among young people, much more hate crime. It’s noticeable to everyone that the last 18 months have got much worse.”

Activists fear further crackdowns may be in the pipeline. A draft law banning “undesirable foreign organisations”, which the Duma passed after a first reading in January, could ban any international organisation that “poses a threat to the defence capacity and security of the state or to public order, or to public health”.

The human rights activists holed up at Stonewall fear the laws that legalised homosexuality in the 1990s could be under threat. The Kremlin increasingly portrays human rights as a western imposition, arguing that homophobic laws are a defence of local culture and values against western imperialism. “Propaganda works,” says Vinnichenko. “They only have to put out homophobic material and people themselves will beg Putin to change the law.”

Is there anything to be hopeful about? At the very least, a backs-to-the-wall mentality has brought activists together, says Vinnichenko. “Other NGOs have taken the LGBT movement onboard,” she says. “And if LGBT leaders in the past were in competition they now feel a certain responsibility, they know they have to work together.”

Some people have left the movement, but new volunteers are highly motivated. Olesya Yakovenko, who joined the Russian LGBT Network after the new laws were passed, says: “Until then we read poems, it was very gentle, but as soon as the laws came into power, we had to rethink our strategy.”

After sharing stories of victimisation, fear and repression, the activists give a perhaps surprising response when asked about the future. Asked to raise their hands if they think things will get better for LGBT people in Russia in the next five years, three of them raise an arm. Among them is Sergei Alekseenko. “We have to have hope,” he says. “Otherwise how can you be an activist, if you have no optimism that things will get better?”

Article source: http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663828/s/4524bc47/sc/14/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Cworld0C20A150Capr0C0A60Crussian0Elgbt0Eactivists0Edescribe0Evictimisation0Erepression0Eand0Ehope/story01.htm

LGBT Group Plans Actions for Change

Monday, April 6th, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, AR — The LGBT community is celebrating and planning Saturday after what they call a week-long battle.

The meeting comes after Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a Religious Freedom Bill into law late this week.

LGBT members say, having their voices heard by legislators is only fuel to change more in the state. This summer, the group will take the momentum from the revamped law passed and use it to unite Arkansas.

“Is it perfect no, but legislation and government is not perfect,” said Former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

McDaniel joined dozens of LGBT members Saturday at the Terry House in Little Rock.

“But what happened was nothing short of miraculous,” said McDaniel

This rally is unlike those seen at the Capitol over the last week – where hundreds of LGBT members protested the religious freedom bill.
Members say now they are celebrating while they plan out the coming months.

“The battle is never over,” said LGBT Member Willow Wheeler.

In those plans, is The Summer Equality Campaign.

“Where we can access the conditions on the ground and hear from the community begin to build power,” said Human Rights Campaign Director Kendra Johnson.

Along with getting input from supporters, LGBT leaders say new legislation is on at the top of their agenda.

“Having Asa Hutchinson add gender identity and sexual orientation to existing protection for the community the civil rights code for the state,” said Johnson.

Until then, there is celebration. Before members say they begin the next round in the fight for change in Arkansas.

“All we have to do is take a moment to celebrate our little victories and then pick ourselves up and move forward,” said Wheelers.

The kick-off of The Equality Summer campaign is April 9th where the LGBT will have a town hall meeting. They have not yet announced the location.

Article source: http://www.arkansasmatters.com/story/d/story/lgbt-group-plans-actions-for-change/24297/4o6WbEVKGEiembY_FzUFCg

Teachers back call over LGBT rights

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Schools should be made to include a positive view of same-sex relationships as part of their sex education policies, teachers have said.

While gains have been made in society on LGBT rights, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are still prevalent in schools, according to the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

Figures from an NUT poll of LGBT teachers suggest that only 10% felt confident in disclosing their sexuality or gender to students and 18% felt that all staff if their school consistently challenged homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

Delegates at the union’s annual conference in Harrogate backed a resolution which said more must be done to tackle these issues.

The motion said: “Conference demands that a future government must tackle the embedded homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that exists in schools and create a positive climate of understanding about sexuality and gender fit for the 21st century.

“This must include a commitment to make it easier to discuss ideas about sexuality and gender so that students and teachers are more confident to identify as LGBT and work in schools without fear of prejudice.”

It set out a series of measures for the union to take, including calling on the government to “make it compulsory that all schools’ sex education policies include a positive portrayal of same-sex relationships”.

Under the current system, sex and relationships education is not compulsory in England’s primary schools. It is mandatory for pupils at council-run secondary schools, and must cover sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS. The subject is not compulsory in academies and free schools – which are state schools that are not under local authority control.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower, said: “The NUT calls for all parties standing in the 2015 General Election to show their commitment to tackling the discrimination faced by both LGBT students and teachers in schools by following the 10 point action plan outlined in the motion.

“This includes making it compulsory for all schools’ sex education policies to include a positive portrayal of same sex relationships, promoting LGBT History Month in all schools, and encouraging schools to develop a curriculum that is inclusive of LGBT issues.

“We need education policy that develops curriculum for children and young people that supports the democratic values of a diverse Britain – including LGBT equality.

“Future governments must tackle the embedded homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that exist in some schools. Lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people are all part of their local school communities as teachers, support staff, students, parents and governors.”

Article source: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/teachers-back-call-over-lgbt-rights-212132235.html

Schools should teach positive portrayal of same-sex relationships, says NUT

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Pupils should be taught a “positive portrayal” of same sex relationships in school sex education policies as a means of promoting equality, the National Union of Teachers resolved at its annual conference in Harrogate on Sunday.

Delegates overwhelmingly approved the motion on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) rights, asking that “a future government must tackle the embedded homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that exists in schools and create a positive climate of understanding about sexuality and gender fit for the 21st century.

“This must include a commitment to make it easier to discuss ideas about sexuality and gender so that students and teachers are more confident to identify as LGBT and work in schools without fear of prejudice.”

Speakers told the conference that, despite recent gains, many schools still remained hostile places for lesbian and gay teachers and pupils, while same-sex marriage remained an uncomfortable subject in spite of its improved legal status.

The motion calls for extra training for teachers to help them deal with homophobic and transphobic incidents and for LGBT equality and rights to be included as part of initial teacher training courses.

The motion also called for an incoming government to “make it compulsory that all schools’ sex education policies include a positive portrayal of same-sex relationships”.

Christine Blower, the NUT’s general secretary, said: “We need education policy that develops curriculum for children and young people that supports the democratic values of a diverse Britain, including LGBT equality.

“Lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people are all part of their local school communities as teachers, support staff, students, parents and governors.”

Sex and relationships education is mandatory for pupils at local authority maintained secondary schools in England, but is not compulsory within primary schools or in academies or free schools.

Last year, Ofsted began to include attitudes towards homophobia as part of its school inspection programme evaluating how well schools were preparing pupils for life in modern Britain.

A Church of England spokesperson said: “We have not studied the proposals in detail but we introduced new anti-homophobic bullying guidelines in all our schools last year and are fully committed to sex and relationship education, that allows room for exploration and discussion of relationships, within a framework of Christian values.”

Later, the union’s delegates debated a motion calling for a strike ballot to be held if a post-election government failed to improve school funding in England and Wales. But the conference ran out of time to vote on the motion following procedural delays, so it will be considered on Monday or Tuesday.

Paul McGarr, a teacher from east London, told delegates: “There’s a storm coming in education” over funding cuts likely to follow the spending plans of both Labour and Conservatives.

“If you make the wrong decision, we will fight whoever is in government,” he said.

Article source: http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663828/s/4520708f/sc/7/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Ceducation0C20A150Capr0C0A50Cschools0Eshould0Eteach0Epositive0Eportrayal0Eof0Esame0Esex0Erelationships0Esays0Enut/story01.htm

LGBT rights activists protest downtown amid Final Four events

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With the national spotlight on Lucas Oil Stadium, LGBT rights activists marched by the arena protesting Indiana’s discrimination laws.

Members of the group said they’re fighting for a statewide law protecting LBGT citizens from discrimination.

Some of them said the RFRA clarification bill was a step in the right direction, but not a fix.

The rally started downtown in the circle before protesters marched by the stadium and the statehouse. The group chanted “Hoosiers don’t discriminate, no more band-aides masking hate,” and “No hate in our state.”

“We need full civil rights protections for LGBT citizens in the state civil rights code. That’s what we need,” protester Alice Jones said.

Some Indiana cities have laws protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination, including Indianapolis. Governor Pence has said he will not fight for a statewide protection law.

“I’ve never supported that and I want to be clear, it’s not on my agenda,” Pence told 24 Hour News 8’s Jim Shella on Tuesday.

During the rally, another event was going on at White River State Park: “Hug a Hoosier Day.” The event’s organizer says she wants to draw attention to Hoosier Hospitality. She invited participants to leave protest signs and RFRA complaints at home. However, she says people should push for discrimination protection for LGBT citizens.

Some musicians also joined the conversation. Saturday, Jack Antonoff of Bleachers wore a shirt onstage reading “Protect LGBTQ Hoosiers.”

Jack Antonoff of Bleachers takes a stand against RFRA during a performance Saturday. (WISH Photo)
Jack Antonoff of Bleachers takes a stand against RFRA during a performance Saturday. (WISH Photo)

Article source: http://wishtv.com/2015/04/04/lgbt-rights-activists-protest-downtown-amid-final-four-events/

LGBT Group Plan Actions For Change

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, AR — The LGBT community is celebrating and planning Saturday after what they call a week-long battle.

The meeting comes after Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a Religious Freedom Bill into law late this week.

LGBT members say, having their voices heard by legislators is only fuel to change more in the state. This summer, the group will take the momentum from the revamped law passed and use it to unite Arkansas.

“Is it perfect no, but legislation and government is not perfect,” said Former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

McDaniel joined dozens of LGBT members Saturday at the Terry House in Little Rock.

“But what happened was nothing short of miraculous,” said McDaniel

This rally is unlike those seen at the Capitol over the last week – where hundreds of LGBT members protested the religious freedom bill.
Members say now they are celebrating while they plan out the coming months.

“The battle is never over,” said LGBT Member Willow Wheeler.

In those plans, is The Summer Equality Campaign.

“Where we can access the conditions on the ground and hear from the community begin to build power,” said Human Rights Campaign Director Kendra Johnson.

Along with getting input from supporters, LGBT leaders say new legislation is on at the top of their agenda.

“Having Asa Hutchinson add gender identity and sexual orientation to existing protection for the community the civil rights code for the state,” said Johnson.

Until then, there is celebration. Before members say they begin the next round in the fight for change in Arkansas.

“All we have to do is take a moment to celebrate our little victories and then pick ourselves up and move forward,” said Wheelers.

The kick-off of The Equality Summer campaign is April 9th where the LGBT will have a town hall meeting. They have not yet announced the location.

Article source: http://www.arkansasmatters.com/story/d/story/lgbt-group-plan-actions-for-change/24297/4o6WbEVKGEiembY_FzUFCg

LGBT Members Plan Actions For Change

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, AR — The LGBT community is celebrating and planning Saturday after what they call a week-long battle.

The meeting comes after Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a Religious Freedom Bill into law late this week.

LGBT members say, having their voices heard by legislators is only fuel to change more in the state. This summer, the group will take the momentum from the revamped law passed and use it to unite Arkansas.

“Is it perfect no, but legislation and government is not perfect,” said Former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

McDaniel joined dozens of LGBT members Saturday at the Terry House in Little Rock.

“But what happened was nothing short of miraculous,” said McDaniel

This rally is unlike those seen at the Capitol over the last week – where hundreds of LGBT members protested the religious freedom bill.
Members say now they are celebrating while they plan out the coming months.

“The battle is never over,” said LGBT Member Willow Wheeler.

In those plans, is The Summer Equality Campaign.

“Where we can access the conditions on the ground and hear from the community begin to build power,” said Human Rights Campaign Director Kendra Johnson.

Along with getting input from supporters, LGBT leaders say new legislation is on at the top of their agenda.

“Having Asa Hutchinson add gender identity and sexual orientation to existing protection for the community the civil rights code for the state,” said Johnson.

Until then, there is celebration. Before members say they begin the next round in the fight for change in Arkansas.

“All we have to do is take a moment to celebrate our little victories and then pick ourselves up and move forward,” said Wheelers.

The kick-off of The Equality Summer campaign is April 9th where the LGBT will have a town hall meeting. They have not yet announced the location.

Article source: http://www.fox16.com/story/d/story/lgbt-members-plan-actions-for-change/10373/lag0vxqO00iguDf0djgjjg

Memories Pizza GoFundMe: LGBT Campaign Seeks More Dough Than Dana Loesch-Led Effort

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

The GoFundMe campaign started in support of Memories Pizza — the Indiana restaurant whose owners incurred fierce online backlash after saying they would not cater a gay wedding — stopped collecting contributions Friday after it raked in a cash haul of $842,592 in just two days. Calculated at a dollar per inch, that’s enough dough to make a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza more than 13 miles high.

Now an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights is attempting to one-up the fundraiser with a countercampaign called “Love Is Stronger Than Hate.” Launched on GoFundMe Friday, the campaign is seeking to raise $1 million to promote LGBT equality while proving that efforts to advance civil rights can win more support than those seeking to curtail them.

Jason Nguyen, the campaign’s creator, said in an email Saturday he plans to donate all proceeds to the nonprofit Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBT-rights organization. “It’s now critical that the LGBT community and allies prove that discrimination against minorities has no place in modern society,” he said.

The effort has a long way to go, however. As of Saturday afternoon, it had collected only $235.

Backlash against Memories Pizza in Walkerton began after its owners, Kevin and Crystal O’Connor, said in an interview with a local news station that they support Indiana’s controversial new religious-freedom law, which critics say could open the floodgates to legal discrimination against gays and lesbians.

In the interview, the owners said they would not want to cater a gay wedding because same-sex marriage violates their Christian faith. “If a gay couple was to come and they wanted us to bring pizzas to their wedding, we’d have to say, ‘No,’” Crystal O’Connor told WBND-TV, the local ABC affiliate.

Opposition to the comments was so fierce that the O’Connors said they were forced to close the business. Late last week, Dana Loesch — a conservative radio host for TheBlaze — spearheaded a fundraiser for the O’Connors, which blew past its original $200,000 funding goal in just a few hours. Loesch announced Friday that the campaign was closed and that she and a financial adviser were now taking steps to transfer the funds to the O’Connor family.

As to why the campaign was halted, Loesch told International Business Times that the plan was always to close donations Friday at 6 p.m.

Indiana’s new law has attracted a groundswell of criticism from politicians, civil-rights advocates, celebrities and business leaders, with boycotts percolating.

Most recently, former NBA player Jason Collins, who came out as gay in 2013, told the Associated Press that the NCAA should avoid playing future Final Four championship games in states that do not protect LGBT rights.

Christopher Zara is a senior writer who covers media and culture. News tips? Email me here. Follow me on Twitter @christopherzara.com.

Article source: http://www.ibtimes.com/memories-pizza-gofundme-lgbt-campaign-seeks-more-dough-dana-loesch-led-effort-1869840

LGBT Days kicks off in Cathedral City

Saturday, April 4th, 2015


CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. –

A weekend of of fun, food, and music starts Friday with a message of inclusiveness and diversity.

The first annual Cathedral City LGBT Days started Friday night and will continue through the weekend.

“Palm Springs has there big gay pride festival and that encompass everybody in the Coachella valley, but for the smaller communities to do something like this that’s a very big move on their part,” said Daniel Sanchez, President of Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus.

They preformed the opening act for the ceremony where members of Cathedral City Council officially signed a proclamation making the weekend LGBT Days. 

“We’ve always had a motto of being inclusive and we’ve always tried to be a community that celebrates diversity and I think it’s great that we can be inclusive of everybody,” said Mayor of Cathedral City, Stan Henry.

“Cathedral City has 3 out of 5 Council Members that are openly gay, we have a large gay population, and before the early 1980′s Cathedral City was the center of gay life in Coachella Valley, and this is our way of reclaiming it,” said Cathedral City Events Manager Chris Parman.

The majority of the weekends activities are family friendly.

“Many LGBT families have kids and we wanted to make sure that kids were a part of the celebration as well not just adults,” said Parman.

This festival comes at time when some feel gay rights are being attacked in other parts of the country.

“In a world that we have issues like in states like Indiana and Arkansas it’s so great that Cathedral City is celebrating diversity and embraces everyone in our culture and our community,” said Sasha Scarlet, host of LGBT Days.

For more information and a list of LGBT Days events go to www.cathedralcityLGBTdays.com

Article source: http://www.kesq.com/news/lgbt-days-kicks-off-in-cathedral-city/32187190

GALAEI recognizes leaders in the LGBT community

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

GEORGE WAS the first openly gay man I knew.

But over the years, I often wondered if the George I knew as a kid was the same man others did, the ones at the other end of a morning cab ride he’d take from my aunt’s neighborhood in the Bronx to his job – in banking, I think – somewhere in Manhattan.

I’d watch him as he got into the cab, always in a suit, serious and reserved as he folded his huge frame into the back seat and told the driver where to go.

At the end of the workday, another cab would drop him off and I’d watch again as he’d disappear into his apartment only to emerge shortly after in the outfit he favored in the summer: jean shorts, a colorful tank top, and chancletas – sandals that punctuated every step as he made his way to my aunt’s apartment.

George was my aunt’s friend, a tall, good-humored and good-looking black man full of gossip and dirty jokes and laughter you’d hear several flights below my aunt’s walk-up apartment.

I adored the way George seemed to live out loud. Only later, when I thought back to the man who got into the cab and the man who got out of it, did I wonder if he truly did. I hope so, because he was awesome.

I thought of George again the other day when I sat with a group of young people at GALAEI, a queer Latino social-justice organization on Chestnut Street, and they talked openly and honestly about the difficulties of living their truth.

Full disclosure: I was asked to be on the host committee for GALAEI’s sixth annual DARLA awards on April 24, which recognizes leaders of the LGBT community in honor of GALAEI’s founder, David Acosto. (You can get tickets at www.DARLA2015.eventbrite.com.) Of course I agreed; it would give me a reason to meet some of the young people they work with.

We should all be half as brave as the teens I met.

For about an hour, the group and I talked about the confusion, fear and pain of living freely when some of the people they love the most don’t want to accept or respect their choices, and identity. And how in GALAEI, the nonprofit organization that will soon be moving from Center City to North Philly, they found a safe place – sometimes the only safe place – to explore and ultimately, embrace themselves.

Emmanuel Coreano, 18, came from a very religious family who struggled to accept that he was bisexual when he came out in 2012.

“My mom didn’t speak to me for like three days and that really hurt me,” he said.

He finally confronted her.

“If you can’t accept me then I’m just going to leave and I’m never going to come back. I was like, either you accept me now – because I’m not going to stay in a household where no one accepts me – or I’d rather live on the streets. My mom thought about it and said it wasn’t worth losing a son over it.”

Not everyone is so lucky. Studies have found that an estimated 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth in the United States identify as LGBT. A study done by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law last year found that 45 percent of transgender youth between the ages of 18 and 24 had attempted suicide at least once.

Keara Williams’ friend, Riley Moscatel, a Bucks County transgender teen, killed himself in August by stepping in front of an Amtrak train shortly after coming out to his family.

“My mirror reflects Jessica, my heart and mind say Riley,” he posted in an Instagram picture. “I’m sorry I’m not the daughter you wanted.”

“So many young people don’t have a space where they’re able to talk comfortably about their sexual orientation and their gender presentation,” said Francisco Zavala Cortes, youth coordinator at GALAEI. “I think that you can say that things are better now than they were 20 years ago, but at the same time there is still room for improvement.”

In a video about youths helped by GALAEI, Bella Rosario, a transgender teen, choked up when describing the torment she experienced when she came out and the overwhelming feeling of relief she felt when she found GALAEI. In the video, she was asked what the title of the chapter of her life before GALAEI would be called. She said: “chaos.”

When we talked later, I asked her what she’d call the newest chapter in her life, five months into starting hormones to begin her physical transition.

After a short pause, she said: “Smooth sailing.”

As it should be for anyone courageous enough to live their truth.


Email: ubinas@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5943

On Twitter: @NotesFromHel

On Facebook: Helen.Ubinas

Article source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150405_GALAEI_recognizes_leaders_in_the_LGBT_community.html

Giant pro-LGBT flag taken down from rooftop

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Graham Brown, 27, an entrepreneur and erstwhile street artist, saw the headlines about Gov. Mike Pence signing the “religious freedom” bill this week and, lamenting for the state’s millennials and artists, pictured something akin to the rooftop scene in “Dawn of the Dead,” where stranded survivors hung makeshift signs in lieu of phoning for help.

“The alternate reality I imagined was the national voice of Indiana had been commandeered by the governor, and we were people trapped in a building having to put up a banner to speak our minds,” he said. “We’re stranded among political decisions we don’t approve of. And we’re going to try to fight our way out of that.”

So Brown made his own rooftop banner. It didn’t say “S.O.S.” Instead, with the help of two friends and using camping tarp and spray paint, he created a 10-foot-by-16-foot flag displaying the Hoosier state in rainbow colors.

Through means he is keeping vague for now (“I had access to the roof”), he put it on top of the building inhabited by Jimmy John’s, Bacon Legs Turntables and other businesses on Monument Circle. He did it sometime on Tuesday, in broad daylight. It was taken down on Thursday.

During its short life, the pro-LGBT flag asserted Indiana’s welcoming nature when much of the country saw the state as backward and bigoted. Facing the sky and clustered next to Indianapolis’ most iconic Downtown sights, the flag was to be seen on televisions around the world via ESPN’s and CBS Sports’ aerial shots on Final Four weekend.

Brown is the owner of United State of Indiana, a grassroots design company known for its rainbow-colored Hoosier emblems often found on T-shirts sold in local stores. He once participated in Indy’s graffiti scene and draws inspiration from Shepard Fairey, one of the best known street artists in the world who made bold statements about authority with his iconic “Obey” symbol.

Any street artist knows his work is ephemeral. So Brown was neither upset nor shocked when informed that, on Thursday, two days before the Final Four games, the giant rainbow flag atop the building was gone. He guessed it was likely due to building code violations.

“Yeah, someone must have gotten it,” he said.

Though the LGBT flag didn’t make it to the weekend, an image of it on Facebook garnered 900 likes.

“Finally some good PR for this state,” wrote Carrie Colborn.

Brown considered the flag a part of a larger movement to take back the narrative of Indiana through positive messages.

From VisitIndy’s #LoveIndy campaign for the Final Four to well-established grassroots messages like the Department of Public Word’s “You Are Beautiful” sign, positivity-spreading visuals serve as an alternative to the storm of political rhetoric. Businesses around the state are adapting signs that proclaim “Indy Welcomes All,” which feature a heart surrounded by four blue segments of a circle.

The short-lived LGBT flag was Brown’s subversively happy contribution.

“If you’re trapped in a building and you’re trying to get a helicopter to come and save you, you would throw up a message like that,” Brown said. “The nation’s perception of our home has been hijacked. But we will do every little bit that we can to get their attention.”

Wei-Huan Chen can be reached at (317) 444-6249 or on Twitter at @weihuanchen.

Article source: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2015/04/03/giant-pro-lgbt-flag-taken-rooftop/25243753/

'Anti-Gay' Laws: Generational Gap Over LGBT Issues Persists As More Young People Embrace Queer Rights

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

John Jacobson, a sophomore at Ithaca College in New York, had some troubles when he came out to his parents. “I had to come out to them two or three times for them to fully accept it,” he said.

Eventually, Jacobson’s middle-aged parents came to be more accepting toward the fact that he is an LGBT person, said Jacobson, who identifies as queer. Still, he drew the line there and opted against telling his grandparents.

For families across the United States, conversations about LGBT rights are often shaped by generational divides, a fact underscored Wednesday after Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he would not advance his state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act after his son petitioned against the law. The measure, portrayed by critics as an anti-LGBT effort, showed an issue in which “clearly there is a generational gap,” Hutchinson said.

The data seems to back up his assertion. A 2014 Pew Research Poll indicated that 54 percent of people support same-sex marriage, as opposed to 31 percent a decade earlier in 2004. A hearty 68 percent of millennials supported same-sex marriage, but that number steadily dropped as age rose. Roughly 55 percent of Gen Xers, 48 percent of Boomers and 38 percent of the Silent generation supported same-sex marriage, according to Pew.

2010 poll from NORC at University of Chicago indicated that just 26 percent of people 18 to 29 disapproved of homosexual behavior. The disapproval number steadily rose to 41 percent for people 31 to 39, 41.6 percent for age 40 to 49, and 53.5 percent for age 50-59. 

Jacobson said he looks for hints signaling a person’s political beliefs before presenting his views about LGBT issues to older people. “From my experience, I approach it a bit more cautiously,” he said.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Acts that made headlines in Indiana and Arkansas this week would have allowed businesses and individuals to refuse service to LGBT people. According to a Pew poll, 62 percent of people 18 to 29 said businesses should be required to provide wedding services to same-sex weddings. 

Seth Hutchinson, son of Gov. Hutchinson, described his views on Facebook after his father’s press conference. “I’m proud to have made a small contribution to the overall effort to stop discrimination against the LGBT community in Arkansas, the state that I love,” Hutchinson, 31, wrote. “I love and respect my father very much, but sometimes we have political disagreements, just as many families do.”

Young people are often effective when sharing their progressive views with older generations in a bid to persuade them to adopt more liberal positions, said Luca Maurer, program director of the Center for Outreach LGBT Education, Outreach and Services at Ithaca College. Maurer said young people as a group are “much more interested in having this as a public discussion.”

Dot Brauer, director of the University of Vermont’s LGBTQA center, said the divide among generations exists, but has changed as gay rights and gay marriage laws have become more mainstream. Before, Brauer said, LGBT “lives were invisible to the general public,” to the point they were almost mythologized. “That’s just completely changed,” she said.

National leaders who have announced evolving views on LGBT issues have often thanked younger generations for shifting their positions. In one prominent example, Charles J. Cooper, the conservative lawyer who defended Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, eventually ended up planning his gay daughter’s wedding, according to the Washington Post. Republican former Vice President Dick Cheney changed his views on gay rights after his daughter, Mary, came out publicly as gay and married a woman. 

Knowing someone who is LGBT is the straightest line to supporting gay causes, Maurer said. But while some young lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual people might be able to shift perceptions among their elders, it is still often a large gap to navigate. LGBT students often feel disconnected from different generations, especially when coming out.

“In my work [at Ithaca], I do hear from students in general who feel they’ll get a much better reception from their peers,” Maurer said. 

Article source: http://www.ibtimes.com/anti-gay-laws-generational-gap-over-lgbt-issues-persists-more-young-people-embrace-1868330

Final Four's Biggest Winners Should Be LGBT Sports Fans

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

By Adam Grossman

After Governor Mike Pence of Indiana recently signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), numerous business, political, and social organizations voiced their concerns over the law. Critics of the RFRA state that the bill will give legal protections to private companies and citizens who do not want to sell products or provide services to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Because LGBT is not a protected class in Indiana, the law originally appeared to protect from  legal action those who claim that selling products or providing services to LGBT customers would violate their religious beliefs. The Indiana legislature announced Thursday morning that “sexual orientation and gender identity will be explicitly protected in the new law.”

One big reason that the RFRA is receiving so much attention is that the NCAA Final Four is being played in Indianapolis starting this weekend. The culmination of the collegiate men’s basketball tournament will bring a brighter spotlight to the issues going on in the state. Thousands of people will be coming to Indiana for the games while millions of people will be watching on television throughout the world.

Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the 2015 Final Four in Indianapolis. (Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The Final Four also put the NCAA in the spotlight and a potentially maddening position. Not only is the organization’s signature event taking place in Indiana, but NCAA headquarters is also based in the state. In addition, it is critically important that colleges and universities work with state governments. State and federal governments contribute significant funding to many of the schools competing in the NCAA Tournament. In the Final Four alone, the University of Kentucky, the University of Wisconsin, and Michigan State University are all public schools. Each of the schools rely on state funding to help finance their athletic departments at a time when many state governments are looking to close budget deficits. For example, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin proposed cutting $300 million from the University of Wisconsin’s budget. These cuts would likely directly impact University of Wisconsin’s athletic budget. Given this dynamic, the NCAA economic interest would seem to be avoid confrontation on social issues at any cost. Since the RFRA passed the Indiana General Assembly with a majority of votes then it would seem that NCAA would not want potentially anger the government that controls a significant portion the budget of the schools in the state.

NCAA President Mark Emmert, however, made the organization’s position very clear. He criticized the law and made it clear that that the RFRA was complicating the NCAA’s relationship with the state. As Emmert said, “We hold lots and lots of events here, our national convention here, our office is here. We have to say, what are we going to do if this law goes into effect in July and what’s our relationship with the state of Indiana going to be?” Emmert also stated that the NCAA would have to reconsider having the Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis next year if the current circumstances hold.

It is becoming increasingly unusual for sports businesses to prioritize ethical considerations over monetary concerns. Yet, the NCAA as a whole and Emmert in particular is doing just that in the case of the RFRA. The fact that the NCAA is taking a leadership role on this issue at a time when maximum public focus is on the organization has been very well received by critics of the legislation.

The NCAA and other sports organizations’ criticism of the RFRA has shown their commitment to inclusion and tolerance for LGBT people. However, the controversy sparked by the passage of the RFRA also highlights an issue we discuss in The Sports Strategist: Developing Leaders for a High-Performance Industry. While they have taken significant steps to promote inclusion and eliminate bigotry, many sports organizations have not targeted LGBT fans as customers, even as sports organizations have targeted other demographics. The NFL has made many concerted efforts to target female fans while the NBA has featured Noches éne•bé•a over the past nine seasons to target Latin American and Hispanic fans.

Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2015/04/02/final-fours-biggest-winners-should-be-lgbt-sports-fans/

Conservatives Double Down On Anti-LGBT Laws As Gay Marriage Goes to the Supreme Court

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Just days after signing into law a so-called religious exemptions bill that will legally protect Indiana residents if they’re sued by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people for discrimination, Gov. Mike Pence is enduring a wave of national criticism. Threats to boycott the state of Indiana, led by high-profile LGBT activists like Star Trek actor George Takei, have gotten louder. The National Collegiate Athletic Association—which is scheduled to host its marquee men’s Final Four basketball tournament in Indianapolis this weekend—has come out publicly against the law.

But as Indiana backtracks, other states are moving full steam ahead with legislation that could discriminate against LGBT citizens. At least 28 states have introduced bills that are comparable to—or arguably worse than—Indiana’s law, according to a count from the Human Rights Commission. About a month before Pence signed Indiana’s bill into law, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, signed two anti-LGBT bills into law. Meanwhile, Nevada is considering bills that would also allow individuals and businesses to choose not to abide by antidiscrimination laws, as are Georgia, Missouri, and Texas.

Even Massachusetts—the first state in the country to legalize marriage equality in 2004—is considering a law aimed at keeping transgender people out of gender-specific bathrooms. Texas lawmakers are mulling 20 antigay laws. And California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, is in the awkward position of asking a court in Sacramento to reject a proposal that would punish anyone caught having sex with someone of the same gender with “bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.” 

Ohio took the unconventional path of issuing a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that gay Americans are too politically powerful to truly be impacted by discriminatory practices by individual states. 

The laws are in large part a reactionary move by opponents of LGBT equality who are anticipating next month’s Supreme Court hearing on marriage equality, according to observers. On April 28, the court is set to hear four marriage equality cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee that will determine whether states that currently do not recognize marriage equality must recognize unions performed in states that do allow them.

For LGBT citizens who live in those states, the discussion about marriage equality is deeply personal. When Candice Hardnett, a 35-year-old pastor based in Savannah, Georgia, wanted to marry the woman she’s been with for seven years, she had to travel 2,000 miles across the country to Las Vegas to do it. The move wasn’t her first choice.

“We shopped for venues, and bands here [in Georgia], because we really wanted to spend our money in our home state,” Hardnett told TakePart. “But when we realized that marriage equality was so far off in Georgia, we decided to do it and just make a statement.”

So last November the couple found a small wedding chapel off the Las Vegas Strip, and wore T-shirts that read “Some women marry women—get over it!”

But in the months since their marriage, the couple believes they must do more than just make a statement. “We want to start a family,” Hardnett says. “And we need legal protection to ensure that our family won’t be torn apart.”

Hardnett’s unique position—Georgian, woman of faith, openly gay—puts her at the cross section of the often competing discussions about marriage equality. Even though Savannah is, like Atlanta, a relatively liberal hub, the majority of the state is opposed to marriage equality. According to research conducted by Public Policy Polling in 2014, only 27 percent of voters think marriage equality should be legal. In February, Georgia lawmakers introduced two “religious freedom” bills that were opposed even by Michael Bowers, a Republican former state attorney general who once defended antisodomy laws. But to Hardnett, those arguments are beside the point.

“We’re tax-paying citizens,” she says. “Marriage is a legal contract, and it’s our right to share our lives with whoever we choose as long as we’re of age and consenting adults.”

Related stories on TakePart:

And Marriage for All—Acceptance of Same-Sex Unions Is Growing

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Original article from TakePart

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/boycotting-indiana-dozens-states-consider-similar-laws-202225084.html

San Francisco Supervisors Unanimously Pass Ordinance Preventing Discrimination Of LGBT Seniors

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A city ordinance prohibiting discrimination against senior lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender San Franciscans by long-term care facilities and nursing homes was unanimously approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The LGBT Senior Long Term Care Facilities Bill of Rights Ordinance, introduced by San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro neighborhood as well as the rest of District 8, was the result of a recommendation by San Francisco’s LGBT Aging Task Force.

The ordinance will prohibit discrimination against LGBT residents by long-term care facilities and put in place protocols regarding aging LGBT populations.

Those populations will not only be protected from discrimination under state law, but by city law as well.

Wiener said the ordinance would require care facilities to fulfill certain requirements when caring for LGBT or HIV-positive residents, including designating an LGBT liaison, who will undergo periodic training.

The ordinance will also require facilities to respect residents’ wishes to be addressed by the pronouns of their choice.

Based on the task force’s recommendation, the ordinance also ensures that requests by two residents to share a room will not be denied and will forbid room reassignments made as a result of a complaint about another resident’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

It will also prohibit eviction of residents based on their LGBT status.

Access to appropriate medical care and drugs specific to an LGBT resident’s needs are also covered in the ordinance, as is the requirement that care facilities allow residents to use restrooms which are made available to other residents of the same gender identity.

Wiener said that based on the task force’s findings, LGBT individuals are less likely than non-LGBT individuals to have their own children and are more likely to live further away from their relatives, meaning that many in that population will likely need to go into senior care
facilities as they age.

He said LGBT seniors are more vulnerable to marginalization due to stigmatization, and that can lead to isolation, homelessness, poverty, and premature institutionalization.

The LGBT Aging Task Force’s policy report, “LGBT Aging at the Golden Gate” suggests additional steps to be taken to ensure that LGBT seniors are treated with respect as they age. Such steps include improving eviction protections and increasing access to affordable housing for LGBT
seniors.

Additional recommendations by the task force suggest improved protections for senior LGBT populations in single room occupancy apartments and homeless shelters.

“Our LGBT seniors are the pioneers who paved the way for therights people in our community enjoy today, and it is our responsibility to ensure that as they age they continue to enjoy those very same rights,” Wiener said.

The ordinance was endorsed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, and California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, among other organizations.

In addition, the ordinance will provide aggrieved persons with the right to seek investigation and mediation by the city’s Human Rights Commission and create a private right of action for violations, Wiener said.

The ordinance also imposes additional requirements around record keeping, confidentiality and privacy.

Wiener’s fight for senior LGBT San Franciscans is just starting. A hearing was held today to discuss the expected financial needs of San Franciscans living with HIV/AIDS who will lose private disability insurance as they become eligible for Social Security benefits.

According to a report released by the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Legislative Analyst, the population of people living with HIV/AIDS in San Francisco is aging and that 8,837 of the 15,971 San Francisco residents who are HIV positive or have AIDS are 50 years or older.

According to the report, the annual income of people living with HIV/AIDS on private disability insurance is expected to drop by an average of 40 percent when they become eligible for Social Security at the age of 65.

As a result, individuals’ monthly income that would go towardsrent would increase from 45 percent to 74 percent, according to the report.

The report states, “the lost income will make it impossible to afford San Francisco’s current median rent.”

Individuals who are transitioning from private disability insurance to Social Security are likely to have reduced incomes and are likely to rely more on public services, the report states.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Article source: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/04/01/san-francisco-supervisors-unanimously-pass-ordinance-preventing-discrimination-of-lgbt-seniors/

LZ: The real lesson of Indiana's anti-LGBT law

Thursday, April 2nd, 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, which is adapted from an earlier article, are solely those of the author.

(CNN)A year ago Bloomberg published a story with the following headline: Mike Pence, a Koch Favorite, Mulls 2016 Run for President.

The story ticked off items on Pence’s conservative things-to-do list while also noting his close ties to the deep-pocketed Koch brothers, as well as other right-wing lobbying groups. Last August the Indiana governor was in Dallas for an Americans for Prosperity event; the group is backed by the conservative Koch brothers, and supported Gov. Pence’s tax-slashing budget.

LZ Granderson

Now, Pence is drawing huge heat for his controversial decision to sign a religious freedom law last week that opens the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians. Why would Pence ignore the pleas of Indiana’s Chamber of Commerce as well as the Republican mayor of his state capital and sign such a bill? Because there’s a very powerful wing of his party that wants a conservative as its 2016 candidate and this bill was Pence’s way of shoring up his street cred.

It is also the reason why Republican Jeb Bush, Pence’s fellow White House hopeful, who is viewed as a little light in that category, was first to rush in to defend Pence and the law.

One lesson here: Just because more than 70% of the country now lives in states where same-sex marriage is legal does not mean 70% of the country is happy about it.

Becket Fund: Religious freedom law is a good law

Backlash aside, the fact is Pence has scored a lot of points this week among ultraconservatives. And while that may not be enough to get him over this political hump, the very public debate that now embroils him — and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and likely 14 other states considering similar proposals this year — is more than enough to drag the entire Republican field farther to the right than the party had hoped.

    Pence: ‘Was I expecting this kind of backlash? Heavens no.’

    For there is no way a Republican can get through the pending primary without denouncing LGBT rights, which unfortunately will turn numerous Americans into single-issue voters.

    I foolishly hoped the issue of LGBT rights would be a bit player in the 2016 general election, overshadowed by foreign policy and the economy.

    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 may enjoy watching Pence’s temporary fall from grace, but his policy rhetoric has echoed that of 2016 hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who has indicated a federal ban on same-sex marriage is not off the GOP table. And even if you think neither Pence nor Bush nor Cruz will win the nomination, someone has to.

    Huckabee leaning toward a 2016 run

    In light of that, listen to conservative former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a potential 2016 candidate describing conservatives’ discomfort with same-sex marriage: “It’s like asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.”

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

    Or Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who 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.

    Remember: Pence didn’t act alone. He only signed a bill that first passed muster with other elected officials. In fact, 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.”

    Who supports, denounces Indiana law?

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

    Former Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the first member of Congress to marry someone of the same sex while in office, said he believes Republicans want the Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage to provide political cover in the GOP primary.

    Frank: I did not conform to a gay stereotype

    “We’re winning,” he told a crowd in Chicago recently while promoting his latest book.

    I guess if you look at where the country was on LGBT issues 10 years ago, we definitely are. That’s assuming you are part of the “we” who believe LGBT people should have the same rights as their heterosexual/cisgender counterparts.

    But as the situation in Indiana has shown, “winning” should not be mistaken for having “won.” For it is doubtful that a candidate will be able to avoid taking a position on the wave of so-called “religious freedom” bills 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.

    Pence, and to a lesser extent, Jeb Bush, may be toxic now but America has a short attention span. More importantly, they are not alone.

    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.

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    Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/01/opinions/granderson-indiana-pence-culture-wars/index.html

Op-ed: Simply Being Gay Shouldn't Guarantee LGBT Vote

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

When I was in college at University of the Pacific, a dear friend who was struggling with his sexual orientation was the victim of a hate crime. After seeing the hurt my friend suffered, I committed to work as an ally to build safe communities free from harassment and threats of violence in our communities, workplaces, and schools.  We must ensure equality for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, gender, race, or ethnicity.

Those basic values have driven me to make the decision to dedicate my professional life to public service.  More than six years ago, gay San Diego City Council member Todd Gloria chose me to serve on his team. He valued my dedication to working class families, my commitment as an ally on the Human Rights Campaign San Diego Steering Committee, and my drive for delivering results for small, local business. Most of all, he knew that I cared about people, whether they are fighting for equality, improved neighborhood services, or safe streets. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work for a public servant who assembled a team that works to advance full equality for all people while handling the many other needs of his district.

Todd has been my mentor. He encouraged me to run for City Council. Why would LGBT people vote for me, a straight man, in what has historically been considered an LGBT council seat? I would say you should vote for someone you can trust to deliver results while always maintaining your values.

My trusted leadership and proven results are what our neighborhoods need. While it’s true that I don’t know what it’s like to be gay, I do know what it’s like to grow up as a member of a minority community facing nearly daily discrimination. I was raised in a Latino family in California’s Central Valley. My family and I were the targets of racial slurs and sometimes even antigay epithets. My parents taught me at a young age that any individual’s civil rights are in danger unless we protect them for everyone. That principle of basic equality underlies everything I do.

When President Obama won the election in 2008, he said, “Americans sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are and always will be the United States of America.”

That message and my experiences have transformed my view of the world — igniting in me a passion for service as I see new possibilities of action, unity, and equality.

Our great city has already been acknowledged for providing nondiscriminatory workplaces, recognizing every relationship status, offering programs and services to LGBT families, following law enforcement practices that are inclusive, and  fostering a relationship with the LGBT community.

But there’s still more work to be done. All voters have my commitment to continue leading in all areas of inclusion, in addition to creating an LGBT public municipal employees group. My staff will mirror the district, and we will have caring and talented people to serve the residents of District 3. As do people everywhere, the citizens of San Diego’s Third District deserve a representative who will champion groundbreaking programs for the LGBT community. I look forward to building trust with the LGBT community, improving public safety, creating affordable housing for LGBT senior citizens, and designating an LGBT-themed collection at the Hillcrest-Mission Hills Library. Voters have my commitment to lead our city to a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index.

Though we’ve won the battle for marriage equality in California, we need to continue to fight anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace and in housing decisions, particularly for transgender people.

I am happy and proud to live in such a vibrant and diverse district. Now I want to do even more to serve these communities that I have grown to love. I want to represent you, not as a Latino or a straight man, but as a public servant who has worked hard over the past six years alongside Todd Gloria to better our neighborhoods.

My commitment as the next council member for District 3 will be exactly the same as it has been while serving openly gay council member Todd Gloria: that you are always listened to and always know what actions are being taken with the issues you care about. I’ve worked behind the scenes to name Harvey Milk Street and install the Pride flag that flies year-round at University Avenue and Normal Street. More importantly, that the unique issues facing the LGBT community are treated with the same urgency as any other issue in San Diego.

And that is why LBGT voters can be confident voting for me for San Diego City Council.

 

ANTHONY BERNAL serves as Councilmember Todd Gloria’s representative in San Diego’s downtown area. He is running to fill Gloria’s seat after his boss is termed out next year. Click here to read a commentary from Anthony Bernal’s opponent, Chris Ward.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/04/01/op-ed-simply-being-gay-shouldnt-guarantee-lgbt-vote

Oakland pitcher and girlfriend buy tickets to fill stadium on LGBT Night

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015








© Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images


When the Oakland A’s announced they would have an LGBT night on June 17, some season ticket holders said they didn’t want to go to the game. Enter pitcher Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend, who said they would buy any tickets for the game that no one wanted so the stadium would be full. Eireann Dolan, it seems, has two moms. She did not want to waste the opportunity to support them.

From her blog:

Dear season ticket holders who wish to sell their tickets for LGBT Pride Night,

Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs and as long as nobody is getting hurt, I’m happy. I also can’t stop you from selling your tickets. I won’t tell you that you are wrong or that you are not allowed to think or act that way.

We live in a free country, after all. You are free to think and say and do whatever you’d like. In fact just this morning I used my freedom to eat yogurt with a steak knife because I ran out of clean spoons (because SOMEone forgot to turn on the dishwasher last night). Who was going to stop me? That’s right. Nobody. Nice try bin Laden.

I ended up cutting the corner of my mouth on the knife, and it wasn’t one of my brightest decisions. But I may have just invented a DIY smile enhancement. And I will sue you if you steal my idea. #America

I digress. So, A’s fans; if attending a baseball game on LGBT Pride Night makes you at all uncomfortable, it is probably a good idea to sell your tickets. And I have the perfect buyer. ME!

If you’d like to sell your tickets to June 17th’s LGBT Pride Night game, I will buy them from you at face value. As many as I can. No judgments. No questions asked.

From there, I will donate any tickets I purchase to the Bay Area Youth Center’s Our Space community for LGBTQ youth.

That way you don’t have to feel uncomfortable, and the seats don’t go to waste. It’s win-win.

Please tweet at me (@EireannDolan) if you’d like to sell me your tickets. I’ll purchase as many unwanted tickets as I can out of my own pocket. I also encourage other A’s fans to do the same. Let’s fill the stands that night!

Love,

Eireann and my hella gay moms

They have also started a GoFundMe program to fill the stadium with any remaining tickets. Her boyfriend, Sean Doolittle, has agreed to match any tickets she purchases.

This just wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago.

Article source: http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/mlb/oakland-pitcher-sean-doolittle-and-girlfriend-buy-tickets-to-fill-stadium-on-lgbt-night/ar-AAaiEWE?srcref=rss

'LGBT community has long way to go'

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Conchita at Eurovision's Greatest Hits gig in London to celebrate 60 years of the song contest

Conchita at Eurovision’s Greatest Hits gig in London to celebrate 60 years of the song contest

Conchita Wurst believes there’s still a long way to go for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) equality.

The 26-year-old won the Eurovision song contest last year with Rise Like A Phoenix.

She says: “The most important thing will be when we actually stop talking about sexual orientation.

“The moment we reach that point when that is not important any more, we’ve reached a big goal which is a long way in front of us.”

Conchita, whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, won Eurovision with her drag act and has since gone on to champion LGBT rights.

In the past she’s said she’s not transgender and describes herself as a gay man.

Conchita performing

In the past year she’s been invited to the United Nations and gave a speech at the European Parliament where she said: “As I always say, you don’t have to love me, but you have to respect that I’m here.”

She says there’s still work to be done though.

Speaking at Eurovision’s Greatest Hits gig she tells Newsbeat: “You have to be respectful. Don’t ask for respect if you are not respectful.

“It’s not depending on your sexuality, your gender or the colour of your skin.

“It should be in the focus to live a respectful life.”

Conchita Wurst and Felicity Huffman at the 2015 Golden Globes

Felicity Huffan played the transgender role of Bree in the 2005 film Transamerica

In January Conchita was invited to the Golden Globes.

“I was in the toilet minding my own business and all of a sudden Felicity Huffman turned to me and congratulated me on my win.

“She said she thinks the work I do is very important and I just looked at her.

“I said it should be the other way around. I just wanted to thank her for Transamerica which was such an important movie.

“We just had a little chat on the toilet and that was really very nice.”

Conchita will be playing a part in this year’s Eurovision. She’s hosting the green room backstage as part of the show.

“I’m very excited about that but also nervous so hopefully it will turn out quite well. It’s going to be fun.”

Follow @BBCNewsbeat on Twitter, BBCNewsbeat on Instagram and Radio1Newsbeat on YouTube

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/32140847

Equality groups ready for counterattack against wave of anti-gay bills across US

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

LGBT and civil rights groups are mobilising for a nationwide battle to safeguard the gains of the marriage equality movement, in the face of a gathering backlash that is spreading anti-gay bills across the country.

Republican-controlled legislatures have introduced more than 85 anti-gay bills in 28 separate states, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT-rights advocacy group in the US. New laws targeting gay couples have been passed in Indiana, Arkansas and Mississippi, with many other states attempting to follow suit.

On Monday, Apple’s openly gay chief executive, Tim Cook, sounded the alarm about the rash of new laws, which he described as contrary to America’s founding principles of freedom and equality. He likened the anti-gay surge across state assemblies to “whites only” signs in the days of racial segregation.

“We must never return to any semblance of that time,” he said.

Eunice Rho, advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said the volume of legislation coming out of state assemblies was “very high and very troubling”. She said the phenomenon was a direct response to the advances made by the LGBT equality movement that now stands on the verge of what is expected to be an historic US supreme court ruling extending constitutional protections to same-sex marriage.

“A lot of what we are seeing now is the rewards of our success. We see this for what it is – it is Plan B: an attempt to erode the gains that have been made towards marriage equality and LGBT equality overall,” Rho said.

Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said civil rights and LGBT groups were working closely together in a concerted effort to block the bills before they ever reach the statute books. Where new laws have been enacted, litigation would be considered, but only as a last resort Minter said.

“It’s so much better to stop these discriminatory moves before they become law. Litigation is a very expensive, time-consuming and uncertain way to fight back.”

The discriminatory bills have come in a variety of guises. Some like those in Alabama, Florida and Michigan would allow officials to turn away gay and lesbian couples seeking to adopt or foster children.

Republicans in other states such as Oklahoma are trying to allow gay conversion groups to flourish by protecting gay-to-straight “therapy” groups from legal action. Florida has gone another route still, focusing its efforts on transgender individuals.

But the most common form of the backlash has come in a spate of bills known as Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA), that seek to claw back some of the ground lost to same-sex marriage by allowing businesses and individuals to refuse services to gay and lesbian couples on grounds of religious conviction. A law of this sort was attempted by Arizona but vetoed by the then governor Jan Brewer last year, following a rebellion by local business leaders.

Arkansas is reaching the final stages of a similar “religious freedom” bill. Last week Indiana’s governor Mike Pence signed into law its version of RFRA, prompting a blizzard of largely adverse reaction from activists, business leaders, religious groups, media outlets and sporting leagues. The furor has put Pence on the defensive, forcing him to offer a possible supplementary bill that would “clarify” the purpose of the new law.

Minter said that the response had been overwhelming. “I’m feeling very optimistic after what has happened in Indiana,” he said. “There has been a huge public outcry coming from all quarters and that’s a testament to the highly structured network that has been created that can get the word out quickly.”

But challenges remain. As Arkansas pushes ahead with its own variation of RFRA, the Republican-held legislature has already passed a law that would leave LGBT people vulnerable to discrimination anywhere in the state.

SB 202 prohibits any city, town or county in the state from framing its own local ordinances relating to discrimination. The law does not specifically mention the LGBT community, but given its timing just before the US supreme court hears aural arguments in its review of gay marriage on 28 April, the impetus of the act is widely assumed to be in that direction.

SB 202 declares an “emergency” that it says must be addressed in the name of “the public peace, health and safety”. It says that it is “immediately necessary to create uniformity regarding discrimination laws across the state” – which is ironic because Arkansas at state level has no anti-discrimination laws relating to gay people.

In effect Arkansas, as well as Tennessee and West Virginia, which are pursuing similar laws, are saying that discrimination against the LGBT community must be allowed to take place in every corner of their territory.

Even where bills are defeated, there is no guarantee that they will not return. Republican representatives in Maine tried to pass an RFRA bill last year but were forced to drop the legislation in the face of widespread opposition.

Now a coalition of groups in the state is gearing up for what is expected to be a renewed attempt to pass the law. “We anticipate they will make another attempt, and we’ll be ready for it,” said Ben Klein, a senior attorney with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders in Boston.

Klein said he was confident a revived bill would be defeated a second time. “We have very strong arguments that these laws are contrary to the country’s values of individualism and equal protection in front of the law. They are bad for business and have many untold consequences.”

Article source: http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663828/s/44f8ae77/sc/7/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Cworld0C20A150Cmar0C310Clgbt0Erights0Eprotect0Emarriage0Eequality0Eanti0Egay0Ebills/story01.htm

Oakland pitcher Sean Doolittle and girlfriend buy tickets to fill stadium on LGBT Night

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015








© Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images


Oakland A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend, Eireann, promise to buy empty seats for LGBT Night in Oakland this June.

When the Oakland A’s announced they would have an LGBT night on June 17, some season ticket holders said they didn’t want to go to the game. Enter pitcher Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend, who said they would buy any tickets for the game that no one wanted so the stadium would be full. Eireann Dolan, it seems, has two moms. She did not want to waste the opportunity to support them.

From her blog:

Dear season ticket holders who wish to sell their tickets for LGBT Pride Night,

Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs and as long as nobody is getting hurt, I’m happy. I also can’t stop you from selling your tickets. I won’t tell you that you are wrong or that you are not allowed to think or act that way.

We live in a free country, after all. You are free to think and say and do whatever you’d like. In fact just this morning I used my freedom to eat yogurt with a steak knife because I ran out of clean spoons (because SOMEone forgot to turn on the dishwasher last night). Who was going to stop me? That’s right. Nobody. Nice try bin Laden.

I ended up cutting the corner of my mouth on the knife, and it wasn’t one of my brightest decisions. But I may have just invented a DIY smile enhancement. And I will sue you if you steal my idea. #America

I digress. So, A’s fans; if attending a baseball game on LGBT Pride Night makes you at all uncomfortable, it is probably a good idea to sell your tickets. And I have the perfect buyer. ME!

If you’d like to sell your tickets to June 17th’s LGBT Pride Night game, I will buy them from you at face value. As many as I can. No judgments. No questions asked.

From there, I will donate any tickets I purchase to the Bay Area Youth Center’s Our Space community for LGBTQ youth.

That way you don’t have to feel uncomfortable, and the seats don’t go to waste. It’s win-win.

Please tweet at me (@EireannDolan) if you’d like to sell me your tickets. I’ll purchase as many unwanted tickets as I can out of my own pocket. I also encourage other A’s fans to do the same. Let’s fill the stands that night!

Love,

Eireann and my hella gay moms

They have also started a GoFundMe program to fill the stadium with any remaining tickets. Her boyfriend, Sean Doolittle, has agreed to match any tickets she purchases.

This just wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago.

Article source: http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/mlb/oakland-pitcher-sean-doolittle-and-girlfriend-buy-tickets-to-fill-stadium-on-lgbt-night/ar-AAaiEWE?srcref=rss

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

Article source: http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/c/34656/f/636543/s/44f8c226/sc/7/l/0L0Swashingtonpost0N0Cblogs0Cwonkblog0Cwp0C20A150C0A30C310Cmap0Emore0Ethan0Ehalf0Eof0Estates0Emay0Eroll0Eback0Elgbt0Erights0C0Dwprss0Frss0Ibusiness/story01.htm

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

   
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