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Venezuelan LGBT Advocate Murdered in Caracas


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Venezuelan LGBT Advocate Murdered in Caracas

Friday, December 19th, 2014

One of Latin America’s most prominent LGBT rights advocates was murdered Sunday in an apparent car theft in Caracas, reports the Washington Blade.

The Blade picked up the story of Giniveth “Gini” Soto’s death from Sin Etiquetas, which describes itself as a news site for the Latin American LGBTIQ community. Sin Etiquetas called Soto’s killing an assassination. She died after being struck by a heavy blow in the to the head, reports The Blade

Soto, who was a psychologist by profession, had been working working as a taxi driver to earn extra money. Soto’s wife, Migdelis Miranda Rondón, recently gave birth to a son. Soto had petitioned the government to recognize her marriage to Rondón, also a psychologist, as well as her parental rights as their child’s mother.

Disillusionment with Venezuelan Government
The niece of a congressman, 32-year-old Soto was an ardent supporter of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and his far-left government. But in recent years, Soto had become disenchanted with the government’s unwillingness to recognize the equality of LGBT Venezuelans, despite her and other loyal activists long-running efforts to secure those rights.

“Gini believed in this government, but this government neither believed in her [n]or respected her,” the Blade quoted Tamara Adrián, a transgender lawyer and LGBT rights advocate in Caracas, reflecting on Soto’s death.

Crime and Inequality
The murder occurred in the Bellas Artes neighborhood of Caracas. In recent years, the neighborhood has, like many others, fallen to higher crime rates. Business Week reported earlier this year that crime has soared to a rate of 39 murders per 100,000 people in Venezuela, with nearly 25,000 people killed last year in a country whose population is just under 30 million.

By comparison, the total number of homicides in the U.S., which has a population 10 times that of Venezuela, was 16,238 for the same year — a ratio of 5.2 per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But, as LGBT activists and journalists in both countries have commented since Soto’s brutal murder, insult is added to unspeakable injury when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people are the victims of violent crimes.

“In this case they killed a mother who is not legally considered a mother,” Adrián told the Blade. “They killed a wife that is not legally a wife.”

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/12/19/venezuelan-lgbt-advocate-murdered-caracas

LGBT Students at Hogwarts? 'But of Course,' Says J.K. Rowling

Friday, December 19th, 2014

LGBT fans of the Harry Potter books and films have long believed our people were among the students at Hogwarts, and now author J.K. Rowling has confirmed that.

In a public Twitter chat with fans this week, Rowling answered a query on the subject by saying “but of course” there were LGBT students at the school of wizardry, although that was never stated outright in the series. She also tweeted a graphic with the words “If Harry Potter taught us anything, it’s that no one should live in a closet.” At his muggle aunt and uncle’s house, Harry had to live in a closet under a staircase.

Rowling, who several years ago said she envisioned headmaster Albus Dumbledore as gay, also said in the Twitter chat that almost every religious belief or lack thereof was represented at Hogwarts. For instance, a Jewish student, Anthony Goldstein, was among the first group of pupils she created. “The only people I never imagined there are Wiccans,” she tweeted. Wiccans have “a different concept of magic to the one laid out in the books, so I don’t really see how they can co-exist,” she added.

For those who’ve been missing Harry and his cohorts since the last book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published in 2007 (and the films based on it were released in 2010 and 2011), Rowling has been offering a new story on her website Pottermore.
 

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/2014/12/18/lgbt-students-hogwarts-course-says-jk-rowling

Salvation Army Denies It’s Anti-Gay After LGBT Website Surfaces Controversial Internal Documents

Friday, December 19th, 2014

(CBS SF) — The Salvation Army, widely known for its homeless shelters, thrifts stores and holiday bell ringers outside of stores, has many LGBT advocates thinking twice about dropping coins into those red tin coffers.

LGBT news website Queerty recently obtained several internal memos put out by the evangelical Christian group, namely one titled as “LGBT issues in light of equality of marriage laws” sent via email last February by Midwest Commissioner Paul Seiler. In four pages, it lays out the Army’s theological views on homosexuality, which it calls “a profound complexity,” in addition to its position on marriage (which it states can only happen “between one man and one woman”) and its expectations that unmarried officers be “celibate in the expression of their sexuality.”

The letter goes on to state several policies that includes forbidding Salvation Army officers from marrying same-sex couples and wearing the Salvation Army uniform when attending a friend or family member’s same-sex marriage.

Queerty also obtained a 24-page “Nondiscrimination Communications” memo sent out by the charity’s national headquarters, detailing how spokespersons are supposed to respond when asked about its treatment of the LGBT community. It states that the Salvation Army does not believe that homosexuality is sin and hires all people without discrimination.

MORE: Read The Full Documents On Queerty’s Website

Jennifer Byrd, director of communications for the Salvation Army, responded to Queerty’s request for comment on the two documents saying, “We realize our message of service to the LGBT community and our non-discriminatory employment practices have been overlooked, misconstrued or misunderstood in recent years, and our focus the past 12-18 months has to be address these failings.  We have traveled the country extensively meeting with Salvation Army officers and employees to help communicate the mission of The Salvation Army as it relates to the LGBT community and encourage them to reach out to LGBT organizations on a local level as we have on a national level.”

Queerty said they are not trying to argue with the Salvation Army’s theological views, but reconcile a problem of beliefs “which are shared privately among (Salvation Army) insiders, are at direct odds with the organization’s public message, which states, in blanket terms, that it does not discriminate based on sexual orientation.”

Byrd responded to CBS SF’s request for comment via email saying, “LGBT issues in light of equality of marriage laws” is an internal document intended only for Salvation Army officers (ministers) to help navigate LGBT issues. As clergy, our officers abide by the theological direction of the church, as do other religious groups in this country. This is an important distinction to understand as the information contained in the letter does not have any bearing on The Salvation Army’s non-discriminatory hiring practices or its service to the LGBT community. It bears repeating that the requirement of celibacy for single officers – those who are heterosexual and those who are members of the LGBT community – has always been a policy in The Salvation Army.”

This is not the first time LGBT advocates have come at odds with the Salvation Army.

In 1998, the Salvation Army of the United States turned down $3.5 million in contracts with the city of San Francisco due to the city’s requirement that contractors provide spousal benefits to both same-sex and opposite-sec partners of employees. As a result, several homeless and senior citizen programs were closed. In 2004, the Salvation Army of New York threatened to close down all of its services because of a similar ordinance.

In 2012, the Salvation Army of Burlington, Vermont allegedly fired a case worker after discovering she was bisexual, citing the church’s employee handbook which reads, “the Salvation Army does reserve the right to make employment decisions on the basis of an employee’s conduct or behavior that is incompatible with the principles of The Salvation Army.

Since last year, the Army has been attempting to clean up it’s public image by scrubbing links from its website to religious ministries providing so-called “gay conversion therapy” resources under a section called “Dealing with Sexual Addictions.” One of the groups previously listed was Pure Life Ministries, which on its website says is dedicated to “bringing the hope, healing, and restoration found only in Christ to those who have been touched by the leprosy of sexual sin.”

However, the Salvation Army says on a newer section of its website titled “LGBT Discrimination: Debunking the Myth” that these accusations are “patently false.”

A video produced by the Salvation Army features interviews with several LGBT people who were served by the Army’s community programs all while being openly gay.

“We’re providing comprehensive services to LGBT youth,” their website says, highlighting the Booth Brown House, a Salvation Army youth shelter and housing facility in St. Paul, Minn. where nearly 20 percent of the youth living there are identified as members of the LGBT community.

“The rumors scare LGBT youth in need of help,” the website says and persuade people not to give to these programs.

Article source: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/12/18/salvation-army-denies-its-anti-gay-after-lgbt-website-surfaces-controversial-internal-documents/

J.K. Rowling: Yes, There are LGBT Students at Hogwarts Too

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Hogwarts is the place for diversity

On Dec. 16, J.K. Rowling finally revealed that there were Jewish students at Hogwarts. So fans started wondering: Were there LGBT students, as well?

The normally riddle-attuned Rowling provided a straightforward answer: “But of course.” While Rowling didn’t mention any names or a singular name (like in the case of Jewish wizard Anthony Goldstein), the author provided an illustration from The Youth Project, an LGBT organization from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to highlight her point.

Considering that some students of Hogwarts went on to become American law students and members of the Bling Ring, (from the movie version of Hogwarts at least), it’s safe to say that Hogwarts housed a pretty diverse group of highly gifted individuals. However, the one unrepresented group at Hogwarts? With a twist of irony, wiccans.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

Article source: http://time.com/3640133/lgbt-students-hogwarts/

Black LGBT Faith Leaders on Why Black Lives Matter

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

It’s vital to underscore the intersectionality of discrimination, say black Christian LGBT leaders discussing their participation in Black Lives Matter Sunday actions last weekend.

With violence — particularly police violence — against African-Americans in the spotlight, many religious groups took part in Sunday’s demonstration of solidarity. A coalition of LGBT-inclusive religious bodies joined in and encouraged others to do so.

“This truly was a coalition that was created in response to one more straw that breaks all our backs,” says Rev. Darlene Garner, director of the Metropolitan Community Churches’ Office of Emerging Ministries. “I am a black lesbian. It is impossible for me to separate myself as a black woman from myself as a lesbian woman, and so whenever there is an issue, an impact on the black community, it impacts me as a lesbian.”

In calling for participation, MCC and other sponsoring organizations issued a press release reading in part, “Black America faces an unspoken agenda of terror and racism. In response, tens of thousands of historically Black congregations/denominations and allies across the country will be wearing black on December 14, 2014, to protest the criminalization, disproportionate incarceration, and killing of black and brown people by law enforcement. As Black lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) religious leaders, we are all too familiar with oppressive systems that discriminate and kill.”

“In response to grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, and in other parts of the country where Black lives are ended senselessly over minor offenses or for no offense at all, our hearts are broken by the lack of justice for the victims of violence at the hands of law enforcement,” the release continued. “We grieve with the families in St. Louis, Cleveland, and New York City who have lost their loved ones. We are also dismayed by militaristic police tactics that try to silence the voices of peaceful protesters reacting to the lack of justice from our legal system.”

Garner says the leaders who issued the statement “wanted to do something that was timed to coincide with actions that were taking place across the country so the voice of black LGBT faith leaders would not be lost.”

“Frequently, it is perceived by some that when the gay community is spoken of that it’s talking about the white gay community and the particular intersection in the lives of those of us who are also black are frequently underplayed, ignored or completely discounted,” she notes. “To me it is vital, whenever there is an opportunity, to remind others of the intersectionality of the issues we live with on a daily basis; that is something we need to do. Oppression takes many forms … there are multiple levels. We live with our intersectionality. …

“I am grateful to know the number of people across the country who really do understand and agree that black lives do matter. Queer lives, straight lives — all life matters. The level of solidarity that has been expressed in many quarters is something that gives me hope that the day might really come when black people in general and black gay and lesbian people in particular will be … protected by the laws of the country … and all segments of society, including LGBT society.”

Bishop Yvette Flunder, founder and lead pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco, says it is “critically important” for black LGBT people of faith to speak out about violence against young men and transgender people as well as what she sees as a more general backlash against gains made by the LGBT movement.

“It is creating a hatred that is played out against black gay men that suggests that they are dangerous to our children,” Flunder says, referencing “horrible misinformation” that causes some to falsely link gay men with pedophilia. “It’s important to say black LGBT bodies matter. … We are not apart from the black community; we are a part of the black community.”

Like Flunder, the press release suggested that the country has seen “an escalating conservative backlash.”

“Over the last six years, fair minded Americans have moved the country to elect our first Black president, opened the doors of marriage to same gender loving people in over 35 states and Washington D.C., began a national conversation on the inclusion of transgender brothers and sisters, and confronted the need to finally address immigration reform,” it said. “This decided shift toward progressive social values has been met with an escalating conservative backlash most abhorrently embodied in the aggressive policing of Black and Brown bodies. The conservative climate has also led to rampant unresolved murders of transgender people.”

In addition to the MCC, sponsors included the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, of which Flunder is president; United Church of Christ; Unity Fellowship; Fellowship Global; Global Justice Institute; Many Voices; Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies; and Bishop Tonyia Rawls.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2014/12/17/black-lgbt-faith-leaders-why-black-lives-matter

WATCH: Report Finds Russian Police Ignore Anti-LGBT Violence

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

A comprehensive new report from Human Rights Watch manages to summarize the impact of Russia’s nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda in one succinct phrase: ”License to Harm.”

That’s the potent and accurate title of the 85-page report, which describes in detail the growth in the numbers of attacks on LGBT people in Russia and their severity, ranging from verbal bullying to violent physical assaults by large groups of people against LGBT individuals.

Researching “License to Harm: Violence and Harassment against LGBT people and Activists in Russia,” the U.S.-based nonprofit interviewed LGBT people and activists throughout Russia.

As was the case with an earlier report by the Human Rights Campaign, the report finds official passivity and even hostility toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people who report brutal physical attacks or acts of intimidation and bullying.

“Violence experienced by LGBT people in Russia is unmistakably motivated by homophobia, but the authorities deliberately ignore that these are hate crimes and fail to protect victims,” said Tanya Cooper, Russia researcher at Human Rights Watch in a statement accompanying the report. “Russian authorities should effectively prosecute homophobic violence, and the authorities should stop engaging in and tolerating anti-LGBT discrimination.”

Based in Washington, D.C., with operations in Moscow, Human Rights Watch blames the draconian ban on “gay propaganda,” signed by Vladimir Putin and enacted in June of 2013, for setting a tone that signaled to politicians, bureaucrats, and private citizens that abusing their LGBT constituents, citizens, and neighbors was acceptable behavior in Putin’s evermore nationalistic Russia.

The notorious nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda makes it a crime to speak, write, or demonstrate in support of LGBT people and equality, claiming such advocacy amounts to “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors.

Equating gay people with pedophiles, some violent Russian homophobes have formed vigilante groups which lure young gay men into fake dates or hook-ups sought on social media, then beat the unsuspecting victim in bloody attacks, often forcing them to confess to pedophilia and homosexuality. The attackers film the entire encounter, then post the videos to Russian social networking and international video-sharing sites. The report claims “thousands” of such videos have already been published. 

“I felt blood in my mouth, but only later learned that the attackers had broken my jaw in two places,” recounts one victim attacked in this manner and quoted in the report.

The report also offers the story of Andrey Nasonov, who was lured into a swarm of attackers who tricked him into running toward them by unfurling a rainbow flag, pretending to be participants in a tiny LGBT rally that was surrounded by hundreds of hate speech-hurling homophobes. The young man thought he was running to get to the LGBT rally for which he had arrived late, but the splinter group turned out to be a collection of violent antigay thugs. 

The report paints a harrowing picture:  

“Spotting Andrey, bystanders began pelting him with snowballs. He saw a group of people break free from the crowd and sprint towards the activists. Two rushed him, pushed him to the ground and began kicking him in the head, neck, and shoulders. He curled into the fetal position. When he felt the kicking stop, he tried to get up, but lost consciousness. His boyfriend, Igor, tried to revive him, and he briefly came to, thinking that he needed to open his second “stop hate” poster, but it fell out of his hands. He fell down and began convulsing.”

Of the 78 victims Human Rights Watch interviewed for the new report, only 22 reported their attacks. They know that few investigations ever follow such reports.

“Russian law enforcement agencies have the tools to prosecute homophobic violence, but they lack the will to do so,” Cooper said. “The failure to stop and punish homophobic violence and aggression puts LGBT people and their supporters at further risk of attack.”

The report offers Russia a roadmap to recover from its current state of institutionalized homophobia and transphobia, which is ravaging the country’s LGBT community. Among 19 bullet points of recommendations for the Russian Federation government, Human Rights Watch urges officials to:

  • Instruct relevant law enforcement agencies, such as the prosecutor general’s office, the Ministry of Interior, and the Investigative Committee, to gather data about homophobic and transphobic crimes, and make the gathering of such data compulsory;
  • Instruct the country’s prosecutors and judges to pay special attention to and use hate crime legislation when prosecuting crimes and infractions against LGBT people;
  • Monitor law enforcement officials’ response to crimes against LGBT people, with the goal of continuously improving the response;
  • Hold accountable and discipline those law enforcement officials who are engaged in hate speech and abusive behavior;
  • Encourage victims of homophobic and transphobic crimes to report to police by introducing and effectively enforcing basic confidentiality standards;

Read the full report here, and watch a video from Human Rights Watch below, in which LGBT people describe the violence they have endured since the passage of the the country’s antigay laws.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/12/17/watch-report-finds-russian-police-ignore-anti-lgbt-violence

LGBT ‘welcome center’ opens in St. Pete

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

The group since has collected contributions ranging from $1 to $8,000 from local residents, small businesses, corporate sponsors and civic groups, making the home wheelchair accessible and revamping its interior and exterior, Rudisill said.

Article source: http://www.suncoastnews.com/su/list/news-suncoast-pinellas/lgbt-welcome-center-opens-in-st-pete-20141215/

LGBT ‘welcome center’ opens in St. Pete

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

The group since has collected contributions ranging from $1 to $8,000 from local residents, small businesses, corporate sponsors and civic groups, making the home wheelchair accessible and revamping its interior and exterior, Rudisill said.

Article source: http://www.suncoastnews.com/su/list/news-suncoast-pinellas/lgbt-welcome-center-opens-in-st-pete-20141215/

Why It’s Best to Avoid the Word ‘Transgendered’

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
Laverne Cox Transgender Time Magazine Cover
Photograph by Peter Hapak for TIME

Katy Steinmetz is a TIME correspondent based in San Francisco.

With a federal LGBT non-discrimination bill in the pipeline, it’s a good time to think about the words we use

Article source: http://time.com/3630965/transgender-transgendered/

Bloomberg honored at annual LGBT Christmas Party

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Michael Bloomberg is still so popular, the former mayor is getting invites that could otherwise go to the current mayor, Bill de Blasio.

Bloomberg was the guest of honor Sunday at Chelsea Piers at the Toys Party realtor Robby Browne founded 29 years ago because he felt left out at Christmastime.

“We didn’t have the technology for creating families, and people were dying from AIDS left and right,” Browne told me. “I decided to have a holiday party for gay men. It started out in my apartment. I made homemade eggnog. Everyone had to bring a toy for Toys for Tots.”

Bloomberg came nearly every year he was in office. “He makes a supreme effort,” Browne said. Bloomberg also supports SAGE (Services Advocacy for GLBT Elders) for which $225,000 was raised on Sunday through the sale of 2,400 tickets at $85 apiece.

“Last year, Bloomberg said, ‘You won’t invite me next year because I won’t be mayor.’?And I said, ‘You’re invited.’ Bloomberg has been a good friend to us, and to me.”

As to why de Blasio wasn’t invited, Browne said, “Well, I don’t know him.”

Bloomberg, who brought a Tim Cook [Apple’s gay CEO] action doll, got a big kiss from Browne, as he does every year.

“We all want this city to always be a place where everyone can live as they want, and love who they want,” Bloomberg told the name-tag-wearing men, “and where we all look out for one another.”

Article source: http://pagesix.com/2014/12/15/bloomberg-honored-at-annual-lgbt-christmas-party/

Human Rights Watch: Russia fails to protect LGBT people

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

(CNN) — Russian authorities are failing to protect gay people from persecution and are not prosecuting the perpetrators of a growing number of homophobic attacks, Human Rights Watch says in a new report.

Its report calls for a July 2013 anti-gay propaganda law to be repealed, saying many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people interviewed for the report had noticed an increase in persecution since last year.

The 2013 legislation bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations around minors.” This means the public discussion of gay rights and relationships, anywhere children might hear it, is prohibited. Russian and international rights groups have condemned it as highly discriminatory.

Read: Protests as anger over anti-gay propaganda law grows


The gay pride struggle in Russia


Pro-gay supporters rally on eve of Games


Russian vigilantes targeting gay men


Russian gay parents fear losing children


EXCLUSIVE: Medvedev on gay rights

Many of the LGBT interviewees for the report released Monday reported increased stigma, harassment and violence against them since 2013, the rights group says.

“The law effectively legalized discrimination against LGBT people and cast them as second-class citizens,” it says. “Instead of publicly denouncing anti-LGBT violence and rhetoric, Russia’s leadership has remained silent. In some cases public officials have engaged in explicit anti-LGBT hate speech.”

The report says that 22 of the 78 victims of homophobic and transphobic violence and harassment did not report attacks to police, as they did not think they would be taken seriously. Law enforcement bodies can prosecute such violence under Russia’s hate crime laws, Human Rights Watch says, but not one of the cases documented in the report was investigated as a hate crime.

The rights group describes anti-LGBT groups made up of “radical nationalist men” luring gay men and children on fake dates before holding them against their will and humiliating them.

“In other cases, LGBT people described being physically attacked by strangers on the subway, on the street, at nightclubs, and, in one case, at a job interview,” its report says.

A transgender woman, referred to in the report as “Risa R,” is quoted as saying she was abducted and brutally assaulted in St. Petersburg in 2013.

“They kept calling me a ‘faggot’ and telling me how much they hated gays. I told them repeatedly that I wasn’t gay, that I was a transgender woman, but they did not want to listen,” she says.

“One of them said, ‘You’re nothing but a faggot. We will get your brain straight right now.’ Several times they threatened to rape me. Then they took pliers from their car and ripped out two of my toenails. Afterwards, they said, ‘Now you will be better off. Now you will be pretty.’ “

Human Rights Watch says Risa explained that she had not gone to police because she had “no illusions that the police would investigate.”

It quotes an LGBT activist from Pervouralsk, Gleb Latnik, as saying he had reported to police soon after he had been attacked.

“His injuries were visible — there was significant bruising on his forehead, there were bruises under his eyes, and one eye was swollen shut,” the report says.

“The police officer who took his complaint said to him, ‘It’s all right, you’re gay so it’s normal that you were attacked. Why would you need to file a complaint against anyone?’ “

Read: ‘Anti-gay’ law pushes gay community into the shadows

“Violence experienced by LGBT people in Russia is unmistakably motivated by homophobia, but the authorities deliberately ignore that these are hate crimes and fail to protect victims,” Human Rights Watch’s Tanya Cooper said.

The report includes responses from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office and Russian Interior Ministry, and the rights group said neither agency collected statistical data about attacks specifically committed against LGBT people.

This month, President Vladimir Putin met with Russian human rights groups, telling them that Russia’s priority was “a healthy traditional family and a healthy nation.” He said that did not mean that it would persecute those “of a nontraditional orientation.”

“People have tried to stick this label on us, even people who use criminal law to persecute people of nontraditional orientation. Some U.S. states make it a crime, and though as far as I know these laws are not actually applied and the Supreme Court has suspended them, but they are nevertheless still on the books. We have no criminal penalties,” he said.

Putin said that no one should face discrimination in Russia.

“All people here have political rights, social rights, rights to employment, and no one should face discrimination,” he said. “But our strategic choice is for traditional families, healthy families and a healthy nation. One does not exclude the other and does not hinder the other. I think this is a balanced approach and is entirely the right approach.”



Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/15/world/europe/russia-hrw-gay-report/index.html

LGBT workers 'experiencing a cultural shift'

Monday, December 15th, 2014

How to make a more LGBTQ-friendly work environment:
* Offer same-sex domestic-partner/spousal benefits.
* Have a club or employee-resource group aimed at LGBTQ employees and allies.

How to make a more LGBTQ-friendly work environment:

* Offer same-sex domestic-partner/spousal benefits.

* Have a club or employee-resource group aimed at LGBTQ employees and allies.

* Actively recruit LGBTQ people to your workplace.

* Include content on company websites aimed at LGBTQ employees and customers.

* Be considerate by asking individuals their preferred gender pronoun, not assuming they prefer to be addressed as he or she.

* Make sure applications and other forms use appropriate language that is inclusive of all people.

* Offer gender-neutral restroom, gym facilities (if offered) and uniforms (if any).

* Endorse LGBTQ events and causes.

* Have a workshop or training for staff on cultural competence in the workplace and a committee to ensure the environment is made and kept inclusive for all employees.

* Display “Safe Space” stickers when appropriate and possible to let people know the space is inclusive of LGBTQ people.

* Have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, discrimination, or anti-LGBTQ language.

* Address any negative actions or behaviors of staff toward LGBTQ people with swift and appropriate action.

Source: ACR Health


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    –>

  • The LGBT community is making strides toward equality.

    * New York state announced this week that transgender people cannot be denied coverage for medical procedures.

    * Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, which employs nearly 6,000 people across five regions of Upstate New York — including 400 in Utica — was one of 366 U.S. businesses to receive a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index.

    The national benchmarking survey, now in its 13th year, reports on corporate policies and practices related to workplace equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

    With this year’s Human Rights Campaign Index seeing the most amount of perfect scores to date, President Chad Griffin said he is feeling good about where things stand and where they are moving to in the future.

    “This was a historic year of progress for the equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans,” Griffin said. “We are experiencing a cultural shift. Now more than ever, we are in the midst of greater visibility and understanding than ever before.”

    Joseph Searles, corporate director of diversity and workforce inclusion for Excellus, said the company has made a deliberate effort to improve its already high ranking on the previous index by placing even greater focus on its corporate equality policy, which already included equal pay and benefit measures, employee diversity groups, training sessions, and the promotion and support of LGBT events in the community.

    “This is something that we are very serious about and believe very strongly in,” said Searles, who said that what really put the company over the top was being able to offer marriage benefits to gay and lesbian couples now that it’s legal in New York.

    “People are motivated when they feel welcome to be their full self at work,” he said. “It’s that inclusion that helps us foster the best ideas, attract and retain the best talent, and relate to the customers we serve.”

    Nicole Deveny, assistant director of youth services at ACR Health, said that with other area employers such as BNY Melon and MetLife also offering employee resource groups that promote diversity, there are plenty of good intentions to support LGBT employees, who are feeling more comfortable expressing themselves in the workplace.

    “The organizations I have done speaking engagements at have been courteous and receptive of learning and growing,” said Deveny, who oversees Utica’s LGBTQ youth program and support groups in the Mohawk Valley. “There has been a good deal of change in our local community over the years as far as equality and inclusion of LGBT people, but there is still a long way to go.”


    Article source: http://www.uticaod.com/article/20141215/NEWS/141219767/1994/NEWS?rssfeed=true

    LGBT workers 'experiencing a cultural shift'

    Monday, December 15th, 2014

    How to make a more LGBTQ-friendly work environment:
    * Offer same-sex domestic-partner/spousal benefits.
    * Have a club or employee-resource group aimed at LGBTQ employees and allies.

    How to make a more LGBTQ-friendly work environment:

    * Offer same-sex domestic-partner/spousal benefits.

    * Have a club or employee-resource group aimed at LGBTQ employees and allies.

    * Actively recruit LGBTQ people to your workplace.

    * Include content on company websites aimed at LGBTQ employees and customers.

    * Be considerate by asking individuals their preferred gender pronoun, not assuming they prefer to be addressed as he or she.

    * Make sure applications and other forms use appropriate language that is inclusive of all people.

    * Offer gender-neutral restroom, gym facilities (if offered) and uniforms (if any).

    * Endorse LGBTQ events and causes.

    * Have a workshop or training for staff on cultural competence in the workplace and a committee to ensure the environment is made and kept inclusive for all employees.

    * Display “Safe Space” stickers when appropriate and possible to let people know the space is inclusive of LGBTQ people.

    * Have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, discrimination, or anti-LGBTQ language.

    * Address any negative actions or behaviors of staff toward LGBTQ people with swift and appropriate action.

    Source: ACR Health


      p bs:newslist StartDate=”20121121″ EndDate=”p bs:datecalc Months=”3″” DateSort=”1″ UseObjects=”1″ ObjectClass=”81″ Taxonomywords=”337,665″ ExactTaxonomyMatch=”1″ Image=”1″ Count=”4″

      –>

    • The LGBT community is making strides toward equality.

      * New York state announced this week that transgender people cannot be denied coverage for medical procedures.

      * Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, which employs nearly 6,000 people across five regions of Upstate New York — including 400 in Utica — was one of 366 U.S. businesses to receive a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index.

      The national benchmarking survey, now in its 13th year, reports on corporate policies and practices related to workplace equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

      With this year’s Human Rights Campaign Index seeing the most amount of perfect scores to date, President Chad Griffin said he is feeling good about where things stand and where they are moving to in the future.

      “This was a historic year of progress for the equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans,” Griffin said. “We are experiencing a cultural shift. Now more than ever, we are in the midst of greater visibility and understanding than ever before.”

      Joseph Searles, corporate director of diversity and workforce inclusion for Excellus, said the company has made a deliberate effort to improve its already high ranking on the previous index by placing even greater focus on its corporate equality policy, which already included equal pay and benefit measures, employee diversity groups, training sessions, and the promotion and support of LGBT events in the community.

      “This is something that we are very serious about and believe very strongly in,” said Searles, who said that what really put the company over the top was being able to offer marriage benefits to gay and lesbian couples now that it’s legal in New York.

      “People are motivated when they feel welcome to be their full self at work,” he said. “It’s that inclusion that helps us foster the best ideas, attract and retain the best talent, and relate to the customers we serve.”

      Nicole Deveny, assistant director of youth services at ACR Health, said that with other area employers such as BNY Melon and MetLife also offering employee resource groups that promote diversity, there are plenty of good intentions to support LGBT employees, who are feeling more comfortable expressing themselves in the workplace.

      “The organizations I have done speaking engagements at have been courteous and receptive of learning and growing,” said Deveny, who oversees Utica’s LGBTQ youth program and support groups in the Mohawk Valley. “There has been a good deal of change in our local community over the years as far as equality and inclusion of LGBT people, but there is still a long way to go.”


      Article source: http://www.uticaod.com/article/20141215/NEWS/141219767/1994/NEWS?rssfeed=true

      Seoul's Mayor Apologizes for Nixing Gay Rights Charter

      Monday, December 15th, 2014

      Mayor Park Won-soon of Seoul has issued an apology for  indefinitely delaying a human rights charter that would have protected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender South Koreans from discrimination in the municipality’s greater region, reports Pink News.

      Park’s apology comes after activists staged sit-ins at Seoul City Hall one week ago. The demonstrators sought to protest the city government’s decision to delay adopting an LGBT-inclusive municipal human rights charter, allegedly caving to pressure from Protestant church groups.

      “It is my responsibility and fault,” Park said in a written statement. “I am sorry for the emotional pain that you have suffered and will make whatever statements that you demand.”

      The mayor said he understood that his decision to delay the charter because of its inclusion of language aimed at ensuring equality and nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people had caused harm.

      “This is an occasion for me to offer comfort for the emotional pain that you have suffered and to apologize to you,” Park’s statement read. The mayor went on to assure that protection against discrimination would be provided.

      “Regardless of any misunderstanding or statement, no citizen will be subjected to discrimination or disadvantage,” the mayor’s statement said.

      The Seoul Metropolitan Government’s waylaid human rights charter, originally planned for enactment on December 10, World Human Rights Day, would have had the power of law to prohibit discrimination.

      Although he gave no specifics about what the government would do going forward to protect Seoul’s LGBT residents from the anti-LGBT sentiments that likely underpinned the objections to the charter in the first place, Mayor Park said “practical ways of resolving the difficulties” would be found.

      The mayor did discuss the creation of an advisory panel, made up of some of the same people who protested at City Hall, tasked with finding ways improve the lives of LGBT people in the Seoul Capital Area, where almost 26 million people (nearly half of South Korea’s entire population) live.

      “The protesters concluded that the promise made by the mayor during the private conversation was important,” said a statement issued by the group Rainbow Action. “Through a meeting with Innovation Officer Jun Hyo-gwan held in the morning of December 11, the protesters confirmed the metropolitan government’s will to implement plans for the creation of a collaborative panel consisting of the relevant organizations to eradicate discrimination in city governance. They therefore decided to conclude the sit-in.”

      Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/12/14/seouls-mayor-apologizes-nixing-gay-rights-charter

      LGBT 'welcome center' opens in St. Pete

      Sunday, December 14th, 2014

      The brightly-painted craftsman bungalow on Central Avenue next to the Metro Wellness thrift shop is meant to be a warm, inviting place for LGBT visitors, residents and youths.

      Here lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered teens can find a safe weekend hangout and tourists can get acquainted with a city already well-known for its massive gay pride parade.

      St. Petersburg recently earned a perfect score on LGBT social issues from the Human Rights Campaign for granting same-sex partner benefits and prohibiting gender identity discrimination, so the new welcome center appears a good fit for a community that already has embraced a spirit of inclusiveness.

      “Since I moved here, I’ve never felt unwelcomed anywhere. That’s a great thing to be proud of in your city,” said Chris Rudisill, community center services director for Metro, who moved to the area six years ago.

      The old house at 2227 Central Ave. is hosting grand opening events this weekend to celebrate more than a year of fundraising and extensive renovations on the 1920s-era residence turned community center.

      Last year the 1,400-square-foot home was saved from demolition and hauled several blocks to a parcel owned by Metro.

      The group since has collected contributions ranging from $1 to $8,000 from local residents, small businesses, corporate sponsors and civic groups, making the home wheelchair accessible and revamping its interior and exterior, Rudisill said.

      Metro already offers therapy, social networking, health services and HIV testing at Tampa Bay area locations, but the welcome center will provide a more relaxed, comfortable atmosphere for events and gatherings, especially for local teens.

      “It’s a safe, alcohol-free zone where they can hang out and do fun stuff on Friday nights; where they can be themselves,” said Rudisill.

      Collaborating with tourism agencies such as Visit Florida and Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the center also will continue to bolster the Tampa Bay area’s reputation as a gay-friendly vacation destination.

      A variety of businesses that welcome and, in some cases, specifically cater to LGBT travelers have moved into St. Petersburg, especially in the Grand Central District, where the St. Pete Pride parade takes place each June.

      “We had been talking for years about bringing in a visitor center to enhance the travel that was already happening here. Many LGBT travelers are attracted to the arts and that’s obviously a big thing in St. Pete,” said Brian Longstreth, a local real estate agent who helped found the annual St. Pete Pride Festival.

      The center also will offer LGBT cultural sensitivity training to local merchants and business owners.

      Staff members at the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce already have participated in the program and shops that go through the training can display a label signifying they welcome the LGBT community, chamber President Chris Steinocher said.

      What’s striking about having the welcome center here —it’s the third of its kind in the United States with similar concepts in Miami and Seattle — is that it shows how far the local community has come over the years, says Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni, who attended a grand opening ceremony for the center on Friday.

      While a 2013 vote by the commission to include transgendered people to the groups protected by the county’s human rights ordinance still drew some criticism, Morroni says the opposition was far less than it had been years ago.

      “There’s been a complete turnaround in acceptance of LGBT people, not only in St. Pete but in Pinellas County,” said Morroni, a Republican who represents District 6.

      jboatwright@tampatrib.com

      (727) 215-1277

      Article source: http://tbo.com/news/breaking-news/lgbt-welcome-center-opens-in-st-pete-20141213/

      LGBT Film Champion Lewis Tice Dies at 44

      Saturday, December 13th, 2014

      Lewis Tice, who promoted LGBT independent films as a publicist, festival programmer and more, and was known for his good cheer and warm hug, died Tuesday. He was 44.

      Tice worked for TLA Releasing from 2003 to 2009 and had rejoined the company in 2011. He was a fixture on the film festival circuit and, according to his biography, had worked at over 20 film festivals including Sundance, the Chicago International Film Festival and Frameline: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. He served as film programmer at the Philadelphia International Film Festival and QFest Philadelphia for several years.

      PHOTOS: Hollywood’s Notable Deaths of 2014

      “Lewis has been my closest colleague for over 10 years,” said TLA Entertainment Group CEO Derek Curl as reported by Indiwire. “He was there for most of my firsts in the film business, protecting me from the sharks and introducing me to the people he knew…which was everyone. It is a devastating loss to me personally, to LGBT cinema and to all the filmmakers that relied on his kind soul and glorious laugh to get them through. This most sweet and talented man will be missed by all who had the good fortune to know and work with him.”

      Tice had producer credits on Bear City and Longhorns, and executive producer credits on Blood for Irina and the forthcoming Queen of Blood and God Forsaken.

      Email: jhandel99 at gmail dot com
      Twitter: @jhandel

      Article source: http://rss.feedsportal.com/c/34793/f/641580/s/38eca614/sc/20/l/0L0Shollywoodreporter0N0Cnews0Clgbt0Efilm0Echampion0Elewis0Etice0E693162/story01.htm

      Emails Show Conflict Behind ExxonMobil's Discrimination Policy Case

      Saturday, December 13th, 2014

      A vice president of ExxonMobil has lashed out at the head of an LGBT workplace rights organization that called the global oil company “the most antigay corporation in America” because of its lack of workplace policies to protect LGBT workers.

      Earlier this year, President Obama signed two executive orders to protect LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination in the workplace. After it was announced that the U.S. Department of Labor was finalizing those workplace protections, Freedom to Work president Tico Almeida knocked Exxon in an article for The Hill last week and said the Labor Department should start its work by cracking down on the oil giant.

      A spokesperson for ExxonMobil responded in the article that the company “has a zero-tolerance policy that prohibits discrimination in any company workplace, anywhere in the world,” including anti-LGBT discrimination.

      In an email acquired by The Advocate, Ken Cohen, ExxonMobil’s vice president of public and government affairs said Almeida’s words could not “be further than the truth.”

      “ExxonMobil’s global policies and processes prohibit all forms of discrimination, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in any company workplace, anywhere in the world,” Cohen wrote.

      However, Exxon’s Standards of Business Conduct do not specifically include protection from discrimination on either basis.

      According to the company’s equal employment opportunity policy, Exxon “provides equal employment opportunity in conformance with all applicable laws and regulations to individuals who are qualified to perform job requirements regardless of their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, citizenship status, age, genetic information, physical or mental disability, veteran or other legally protected status.”  

      Cohen cited the company’s LGBT affinity organization, PRIDE (People for Respect, Inclusion and Diversity of Employees), and philanthropic efforts with Washington, D.C.-based health clinic Whitman-Walker and the Houston AIDS Walk.

      According to Shawn Jain of Whitman-Walker, the clinic received approximately $12,500 in donated proceeds from an ExxonMobil charity golf tournament. The donation came through PRIDE, one of ExxonMobil’s six affinity organizations, which took its turn in organizing the tournament, and decided to donate the proceeds to Whitman-Walker Health.

      Calls for confirmation regarding ExxonMobil’s donations to Houston AIDS Walk were unanswered, but in its 2012 philanthropic report, ExxonMobil donated $10,500 out of $24,575,870 for all health-based organizations including $29,600 for the American Cancer Society and $1.75 million for Malaria No More. ExxonMobil also seems to have sponsored a team for AIDS Walk Houston 2014. The team says the company has raised more than $245,000 for AIDS Walk Houston since 2002.

      ExxonMobil shareholders have voted 15 consecutive times to deny employment protections to LGBT workers at the gas and oil company. Freedom to Work is currently in the midst of a legal challenge against ExxonMobil. Despite ExxonMobil’s claims that it does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, a study earlier this year conducted by the Equal Rights Center and Freedom to Work revealed that résumés listing LGBT affiliations were 23 percent less likely to get a call-back from the oil company than identical résumés that did not out the candidate as LGBT.

      “This Exxon executive also should have been smart enough to phone his lawyer Gerald Maatman at the big corporate law firm Seyfarth Shaw to learn more about the currently pending litigation that Freedom to Work has brought against Exxon with concrete proof of their anti-lesbian hiring bias,” Almeida told The Advocate Friday. “We are expecting a decision from the Illinois Human Rights Department soon, but this Exxon vice president seems completely ignorant of that fact.”

      A call for comment to Maatman has not yet been returned.

      Nonetheless, Almeida says ExxonMobil’s score in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index should get a bump because of the new discovery that the company has an LGBT affinity group. ExxonMobil, based in Irving, Texas, is the only company to ever receive a negative score on the index, which rates how LGBT-inclusive companies are. Before the merger in the 1990s, Mobil had a policy protecting LGBT employees.

      “But that PRIDE group is not enough,” he said. “It’s long past time for Exxon to add four simple words — sexual orientation, gender identity — to their official standards of business conduct. Thanks to President Obama’s executive order, they may soon lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts if they don’t amend their standards of business conduct to add protections for LGBT workers.” 

      Click to the next page for text of the email

      Article source: http://www.advocate.com/business/2014/12/12/emails-show-conflict-behind-exxonmobils-discrimination-policy-case

      LGBT activists taking Pride in the Golden Globes 2014

      Saturday, December 13th, 2014

      Here at Stonewall we know that the media is hugely influential for the LGBT community, whether in documentary form, soap opera storylines or real-life representation on screen.

      Channel 4′s Dispatches, for example, has this year shed light on the disturbing and very real oppression, hatred and violence that LGBT people are up against around the world – from Russia (in the form of Liz Mackean’s ‘Hunted’) to Jamaica (Ade Adepitan’s ‘Jamaica’s Underground Gays’). These programmes have sent sirens and signals to those of us in the UK, whether LGBT or not, and have helped alert individuals and groups to serious issues that need to be addressed.

      This year we’ve seen the nation’s favourite soap stars tackle topics including same-sex domestic violence and HIV/AIDS, whilst also introducing LGBT characters that don’t live up to stereotypes. This balance of diverse and fair representation, whilst also highlighting relevant issues the LGBT community face, is one that the likes of Emmerdale, Corrie, Hollyoaks and EastEnders have vastly improved on in recent years.

      Additionally, we’ve had an influx of visible LGBT role models hit our screens within the last twelve months, such as Sam Smith, Tom Daley and stateside superstar, trans activist and actress Laverne Cox. These individuals have not just represented their communities, as examples of hard work and success, but also diversify one-sided ideas of what ‘LGBT people are’ that some non-LGBT people might hold.

      In this sense, having LGBT role models on our screens, telling their stories and showing the masses their talents, is just as important for an audience of non-LGBT individuals as it is for LGBT communities.

      One area of the media where LGBT representation can also have a huge impact is film. And one particular film, directed by Matthew Warchus and produced by Stephen Beresford this year, has certainly had that.

      Pathe’s film, Pride, details the unlikely unison between LGBT group Gays and Lesbians Support the Miners and a group of miners in a small Welsh village which took place during the miners’ strikes in 1984. The film tells the story of how two minority groups who were both up against it came together in unison to create big change.

      Pride is inspiring in its message of coming together for a shared goal: equality. Additionally, however, it opens doors to LGBT history and adds a new dimension to parts of LGBT lifestyle and culture that younger generations in particular might be unfamiliar with.

      At our awards this year, Pride took the Broadcast of the Year prize, beating strong competition including EastEnders and Orange is the New Black. The result went down extremely well with guests at the awards, almost all of whom had seen the film and rate it extremely highly.

      What people fall in love with most about Pride is its ability to draw the audience in and make them feel a part of the story, regardless of whether they lived through the era, worked as a miner or identify as LGBT. Its themes of oppression, prejudice, togetherness and fighting for a cause are things that all people can relate to in one way or another.

      Since its release, Pride has had rave reviews from both the media and the general public.

      Most recently, the film has been included in the Golden Globes list, having been nominated in the category of Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. This no doubt only echoes its relevance as an extremely important and well-created piece of cinema.

      For actors including Bill Nighy, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton to portray the characters and relationships in this film with such vulnerability and conviction, mastered by Warchus and Livingstone’s guidance, ‘Pride’ really does create a snapshot in time. And it’s one that many would argue must not be forgotten.

      ‘Pride’ being added to the 2015 Golden Globes’ list means a lot to the LGBT community. It doesn’t just reflect its quality of acting, directing and production, but also interest in its story and willingness to not only acknowledge it but also to give it a platform and to praise it. Such visibility within the film industry is not just a pat on the back, but a sign of solidarity with the LGBT community, its history and its future as we move forward together.

      As we leave 2014 and approach a New Year, we can only hope that Pride has helped pave the way for other films to tell important stories rooted in LGBT history, which will help comfort, educate and create positive change.

      Into The Woods, Birdman The Grand Budapest Hotel and St. Vincent are also nominated in the ‘Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy at this year’s Golden Globes. You can see the full list at www.goldenglobes.com.

      You can find out more about Pride the movie at www.pridemovie.co.uk or follow the motion picture on Twitter @PrideMovieUK.

      Matt Horwood is part of the communications team at Stonewall UK. You can find out more about Matt by visiting his twitter page or that of Stonewall.

      Related Articles

      Article source: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/lgbt-activists-taking-pride-golden-globes-2014-182336139.html

      Op-ed: The Scientific Study That Proves How to Advance LGBT Rights

      Friday, December 12th, 2014

      I can honestly say that I wasn’t sure I’d live to see the day when the freedom to marry was something enjoyed by same-sex couples in every state of the union. In fact, 20 years ago, when I committed the Los Angeles LGBT Center to fighting for marriage equality, a number of activists warned that our movement would be set back by this battle.

      Now, with marriage legal in 36 states (and counting), it’s likely we’ll soon have a Supreme Court ruling that makes it legal for us to marry our loved ones in any state. It’s been so much faster than most of us expected that it’s the closest thing to an LGBT civil rights honeymoon I’ve ever experienced.

      But before we think we’re done, let’s remember: Just like in real life, after the wedding comes the reception.

      What will happen now in states where marriage is legal but public support remains low? 

      We’ve already seen how politicians like the governor of my birth state of Idaho, Butch Otter, will use our victory to burnish their Tea Party credentials, continuing their attacks on our families. As we inch toward November 2016, don’t expect to see many politicians from deep red states tout their support for marriage equality. But among folks who aren’t running for office in those states, I think we can expect a continuing shift of opinion.

      People who don’t support marriage equality but are otherwise reasonable will begin to change. Just as President Obama purported to “evolve,” they’ll soon realize the future of civilization isn’t at risk simply because their LGBT colleagues and neighbors are getting married.

      It would be very wrong, however, to mistake this for the end of LGBT discrimination. Though a majority of Americans now support our freedom to marry, bigotry continues, and it’s often expressed in very harsh ways. For example, the Los Angeles LGBT Center is caring for more homeless LGBT youth — abandoned and shunned by their parents — than ever before. In a majority of states, it’s still legal to fire LGBT people just for being who we are. LGBT seniors continue to face rampant discrimination in retirement and assisted living facilities, and the latest research shows that LGBT people earn less money than our counterparts.

      The truth is, even the most historic court victories only start the process. Social change isn’t won top-down, it’s an ongoing effort — often a hard one — to bring discrimination and prejudice to an end. That’s why, by itself, Brown v. Board of Education didn’t solve the problem of race-based prejudice, and Roe v. Wade didn’t end the debate on reproductive justice.

      And that’s why the center’s committed to the work of our Vote for Equality Project, which was featured this week in the highly respected journal Science. We know there’s nothing automatic about reducing and eliminating prejudice, yet it can be done. Our voter persuasion and prejudice reduction work — subjected to the most rigorous scientific measurement — made conservative voters markedly less prejudiced against gay and lesbian people. No other initiative subjected to such rigorous measurement has ever achieved these kinds of lasting results.

      It took five years, 1,000+ volunteers, and 12,000+ conversations in neighborhoods across Los Angeles where voters crushed us on Proposition 8, but what we learned — and what we have now proven in a scientific study — is that we can change the hearts and minds of voters who are against us or who are conflicted by coming out to them and discussing their real, lived experience with LGBT people. That’s what enabled voters to not only support our freedom to marry but to lastingly shed their prejudice against us.

      Of course, coming out doesn’t always — and immediately — end anti-LGBT discrimination. Sometimes coming out causes discrimination, even (and especially) by family members. But since the earliest days of the LGBT rights movement, leaders have understood the necessity to change public opinion by being out, and now — for the first time — we’ve proven how right they were.

      Now the Los Angeles LGBT Center is applying what we’ve learned in an attempt to reduce other forms of discrimination, including the prejudice against our transgender brothers and sisters and — with funding from Planned Parenthood — the stigma against women who have had an abortion.

      So as we celebrate this incredible year, let’s be grateful for the organizations, lawyers, plaintiffs, and activists around the country who have moved us so far forward on marriage. They’ve walked us down the aisle.

      But we’re not done. Instead, we’re about to experience the broader public reception.

      Yes, it’s tempting to think that the courts can do all the work for us. Yes, it’s hard work and can be uncomfortable to talk with voters who disagree with us. But let’s vow to continue the work that has proven to make voters less prejudiced, because marriage is only the beginning of what we need while we work to eliminate LGBT discrimination altogether.

       

      LORRI L. JEAN is the executive director of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
       

      Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/12/12/op-ed-scientific-study-proves-how-advance-lgbt-rights

      Japan LGBT candidate hopes to raise awareness in election campaign

      Friday, December 12th, 2014

      By Olivier Fabre

      TOKYO (Reuters) – Taiga Ishikawa has an uphill battle in his bid to become Japan’s only openly gay member of parliament, but hopes his campaign for Sunday’s general election will raise awareness in a nation where gay rights hardly get a nod in the mainstream political agenda.

      Ishikawa is keen for his candidacy, which has attracted considerable attention on the Internet, to help others in Japan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community come out of the closet.

      “It is said that 3 to 5 percent of the population in Japan is LGBT. I would like to think that these people could use their vote to tell the nation that they exist,” Ishikawa told Reuters in an interview on the campaign trail.

      Apart from lesbian Kanako Otsuji, who briefly filled a vacancy in the upper house in 2013 after the incumbent died, Japan has had no openly gay lawmakers at the national level.

      Ishikawa, 40, is running in a Tokyo district from the tiny opposition Social Democratic Party in a lower house poll that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition is expected to win hands down. Media projections show the SDP may be obliterated by the ruling bloc landslide.

      The author of a popular book, “Where’s My Boyfriend”, that described his feelings of isolation from mainstream society, Ishikawa got his start in politics as an aide to the then-leader of the Social Democratic Party.

      Homosexuality is not a crime in Japan but many members of the LGBT community face discrimination in schools, workplace and home and prefer to hide their true identities.

      According to an Ipsos poll for Reuters, only 5 percent of Japanese say they know someone who is LGBT, compared to 60 or 70 percent in most Western nations.

      “Most (of the LGBT community) are invisible and LGBT issues have never made it into the political discussion,” said LGBT activist Kazuhiro Terada of Equal Marriage Alliance (EMA).

      EMA is working to change that and has compiled a list of 20 candidates who have openly expressed support for LGBT rights. Another group, Partnership Law Japan, added an another 10. That was out of more than 1,000 people running in Sunday’s poll.

      (Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Nick Macfie)

      Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/japan-lgbt-candidate-hopes-raise-awareness-election-campaign-073411196.html

      Article blames LGBT community for lack of St. John’s Christmas floats

      Friday, December 12th, 2014

      A website declaring its goal is to spread the conservative message throughout America has set its sights outside of the U.S.A. and on the Christmas parade in St. John’s.

      The article titled “Newfoundland: Fewer Christmas parade entrants, compliments of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) activists” was written by Michael F. Haverluck and is published on the website GOPUSA.

      Related stories:

      Christmas is for LGBT families, too

      The article claims that due to the LGBT community taking part in the parade, the number of floats dropped this year by 50 per cent.

      The LGBT community has taken part in the parade for three years but the parade was facing a lack of interest earlier in the year. In November, organizers of the event told the media due to pressure on time and resources, both corporate and non-corporate groups were finding it hard to take part in the parade. There was no mention of the LGBT groups having had any effect on parade participation in the news pieces asking people to spread the word more participation was needed.

      Along with drawing connections between the number of floats in the St. John’s parade and the LGBT community, the article also makes such statements as,  “Besides being detrimental to one’s physical health, studies show that the homosexual lifestyle takes a psychological toll on those who practice such behavior.”

      Haverluck’s article quotes Telegram articles, including one where the paper spoke with former St. John’s Pride Inc. president, Noah Davis-Power.

      Davis-Power says besides the claims in the article being ridiculous, presence in the parade by the LGBT community was about Christmas and not making some loud human rights remark. 

      “It wasn’t that it was a fist-pumping ‘Ra, ra, ra — we’re here and we’re queer so get used to it.’ There was none of that,” Davis-Power says. “They’re there to make some funny faces and laugh and smile with children and families and show that we can be a part of Christmas, too, like anybody else. Not that we’re gay and part of Christmas.”

      The online article references certain articles and studies that supposedly show that the wider LGBT community isn’t just having a nefarious effect on localized Christmas parades but on the greater good of society as a whole.

      When contacted and asked about the conclusions made between the lack of float interest and the LGBT community taking part in the parade, Haverluck told The Telegram that the information he collected on the two being related came from an online article he came across on LifeSiteNews.com.

      “Because I relied on secondary sources for this piece, I would refer you to the author of that article for on-the-ground details regarding the event, which I did not attend,” he said in an email to The Telegram.

      GOPUSA says it is not affiliated with the Republican National Committee, but is a private company whose mission is to spread the conservative message throughout America.

      “GOPUSA strives to educate, enlighten, and engage conservatives through a host of features and services including news, online discussions, commentary, and information,” the website reads. “We strive to be the first source Republicans and conservatives turn to for news and information, both at the state and national levels. All content, products, and services delivered by GOPUSA reflect our dedication to professionalism, quality, and innovation.”

      Article source: http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2014-12-11/article-3972915/Article-blames-LGBT-community-for-lack-of-St.-John’s-Christmas-floats/1

      The Hartford Named A Best Place To Work For LGBT Equality For Seventh Year

      Friday, December 12th, 2014

      HARTFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

      The Hartford has been recognized as a Best Place to Work for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equality by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The company received the accolade for scoring 100 percent on the HRC’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI).

      “The Hartford is honored to be recognized once again as a top employer for the LGBT community,” said Susan Johnson, vice president of diversity and inclusion at The Hartford. “Maintaining a perfect score reflects our commitment to cultivating an inclusive culture that supports and leverages the rich diversity of our workforce so we can meet the needs of our customers and business partners.”

      One of The Hartford’s employee resource groups, GLOBE (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Organization Benefiting Everyone), champions the growth and development of its members by providing the company with a center of expertise for LGBT awareness, networking and business practices. GLOBE is one of eight employee resource groups that support diversity and inclusion in the workforce, each of which is sponsored by a member of The Hartford’s executive leadership team.

      The Hartford was one of 366 out of 971 companies to receive a perfect score. The policies, benefits and practices that businesses must implement to earn a perfect score are best-in-class demonstrations of corporate commitments to LGBT workers.

      The CEI, released each fall since 2002, provides an in-depth analysis and rating of large U.S. employers and their policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. HRC is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

      About The Hartford

      With more than 200 years of expertise, The Hartford (HIG) is a leader in property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds. The company is widely recognized for its service excellence, sustainability practices, trust and integrity. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at www.thehartford.com. Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheHartford. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheHartford.

      HIG-C

      Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially. Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ. These important risks and uncertainties include those discussed in our 2013 Annual Report on Form 10-K, subsequent Quarterly Reports on Forms 10-Q, and the other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We assume no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of the date issued.

      From time to time, The Hartford may use its website to disseminate material company information. Financial and other important information regarding The Hartford is routinely accessible through and posted on our website at http://ir.thehartford.com. In addition, you may automatically receive email alerts and other information about The Hartford when you enroll your email address by visiting the “Email Alerts” section at http://ir.thehartford.com.

      Contact:

      The Hartford
      Robert Lobo, 860-547-4349
      Robert.Lobo@thehartford.com

      Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/hartford-named-best-place-lgbt-181500963.html

      Science reveals LA LGBT Center breakthrough in persuading voters, reducing prejudice

      Friday, December 12th, 2014

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      Contact: Jim Key
      jkey@lalgbtcenter.org
      323-993-7623
      Los Angeles LGBT Center
      @lalgbtcenter

      LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11, 2014– It’s possible to lastingly persuade conservative voters to support a controversial issue like marriage for same-sex couples–and at a greatly accelerated rate compared to their neighbors–according to groundbreaking data published in this week’s issue of the peer-reviewed journal Science. The 12-month study also shows how the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s voter persuasion methods reduced anti-gay prejudice and may have the potential to reduce other forms of prejudice.

      The independent researchers who led the study, prominent Columbia University Professor and political scientist Donald P. Green and Michael J. LaCour of UCLA, found that the Center’s LGBT canvassers changed the minds of conservative voters to support marriage for same-sex couples five times faster than their neighbors were evolving on the issue. More than that, the doorstep conversations had a long-lasting, measurable impact on reducing the voters’ prejudice against LGBT people and had a “spillover effect,” changing the minds of others in the same household.

      “I’ve been studying the impact of voter treatments for 20 years and co-authored a paper that examined 900 treatments to reduce prejudice,” said Green, “and the honest truth is that few of them, including TV ads, door-to-door canvassing, mail, and phone calls, have much effect. Careful scientific measurement shows that the few attempts at voter persuasion that do have an impact decay in three to five days. That’s why we were so surprised by the data from this study. It turns out that the Los Angeles LGBT Center has discovered a new approach that has a bigger, longer-lasting impact than anything we’ve seen before.”

      Over five years, the Center’s Vote for Equality staff and volunteers had more than 12,000 one-on-one conversations in Los Angeles neighborhoods that overwhelmingly supported Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that repealed the freedom for same-sex couples to marry. The approach studied by the researchers was developed through continuous, iterative learning, resulting from the work of more than 1,000 volunteers and 18 staff who talked with and videotaped conversations with voters; studied the footage; developed new messages and approaches; and adapted training programs accordingly.

      To measure the Center’s impact, LaCour and Green applied the same techniques used to evaluate the efficacy of medical treatments. Voters were randomly assigned to a control group, placebo group, or treatment group and surveyed at regular intervals. Volunteer canvassers talked about the value of recycling with voters who were in the placebo group; those in the control group weren’t canvassed at all.

      During the 12-month study (June 2013 – May 2014), voters in the placebo and control group experienced a 3-point reduction (on a 100-point “feeling thermometer”) in prejudice against lesbian and gay people. Among voters who were canvassed about marriage by the Center’s LGBT volunteers, the change was much greater: they had a 15-point reduction in prejudice. Just as important, the new, lower levels of prejudice persisted without decay throughout the year-long study.

      “The data show that in 20 minutes, the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s volunteer canvassers accomplished what would have otherwise taken five years at the current rate of social change,” said Dave Fleischer, director of the Center’s Vote for Equality and Leadership LAB programs. “How did we do it? Our team had heartfelt, reciprocal and vulnerable conversations on the doorsteps of those who opposed marriage for same-sex couples, and volunteers who were LGBT came out during their conversations.”

      The research showed that non-LGBT canvassers were initially just as effective as LGBT canvassers at changing minds on the issue of marriage, but the effect of their conversations rapidly decayed. After about 12 days, the data show they were only about half as effective as LGBT canvassers in reducing prejudice against gay and lesbian people.

      “We’re optimistic that our approach can be adapted to persuade voters on other issues,” said Fleischer. “We’re currently canvassing to reduce prejudice against transgender people and, with funding from Planned Parenthood, to increase support for abortion and reduce the stigma against those who have one. The research data from those projects is preliminary, but very encouraging.”

      ###

      About the Los Angeles LGBT Center

      Since 1969 the Los Angeles LGBT Center has cared for, championed and celebrated LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond. Today the Center’s more than 450 employees and 3,000 volunteers provide services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world, offering programs, services and global advocacy that span four broad categories: Health, Social Services and Housing, Culture and Education, Leadership and Advocacy. We are an unstoppable force in the fight against bigotry and the struggle to build a better world; a world in which LGBT people can be healthy, equal and complete members of society. Learn more at lalgbtcenter.org.


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      AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.

      Article source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-12/lalc-srl120514.php

      First-ever LGBT film fest opens Thursday in Quezon City

      Thursday, December 11th, 2014

      Article source: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/392181/lifestyle/artandculture/first-ever-lgbt-film-fest-opens-thursday-in-quezon-city

      Marsh & McLennan Companies Earns Perfect Score on 2015 Corporate Equality Index

      Thursday, December 11th, 2014

      NEW YORK–(BUSINESSWIRE)–

      Company Named “Best Place to Work” for LGBT Equality for Seventh
      Consecutive Year

      Marsh McLennan Companies, Inc. (NYSE:MMC), a global professional
      services firm offering clients advice and solutions in risk, strategy,
      and human capital, announced that it was awarded a perfect score on the
      2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking survey and
      report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace
      equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC).
      This is the seventh consecutive year that HRC has designated Marsh
      McLennan Companies a “Best Place to Work” for LGBT Equality.

      “We are honored that our vibrant and inclusive workplace — where all
      colleagues can thrive and are encouraged to contribute to their fullest
      potential — has again been recognized by HRC,” said Nicole Gardner, VP
      and Marsh McLennan’s Chief Diversity Inclusion Officer. “Diversity
      and inclusiveness provide us with greater opportunity to generate new
      ideas, innovate, and grow — which make us stronger.”

      Marsh McLennan is deeply committed to workplace equality. Highlights
      of the Company’s 2014 LGBT-related initiatives include:

      1. Sponsorship of and participation at the 2014 Out Equal Workplace
      Summit, where the Company participated in five workshops and launched
      two new pieces of research:

      2. Various programs to enhance respect and inclusion in the workplace,
      including MMC Ally and Coming Out Toolkits, Safe Space Stickers, and
      Reverse Mentoring workshops.

      3. Recognition of Dr. Siobhan Martin, Executive Director – UK HR,
      Mercer, on the 2014 Top 100 OUTstanding/Financial Times Business Leaders
      List

      4. Founding member of Out In Insurance, the first LGBT leadership
      organization for the insurance industry, emphasizing LGBT equality,
      career sponsorship, community leadership, and business development
      across global insurance companies.

      The 2015 CEI rated 971 businesses on their LGBT-related policies and
      practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic
      partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency
      programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community. Marsh
      McLennan Companies was one of 366 to receive a perfect score.

      About Marsh McLennan Companies

      MARSH McLENNAN COMPANIES (NYSE:MMC) is a global professional services
      firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk,
      strategy, and human capital. Marsh
      is a global leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy
      Carpenter
      is a global leader in providing risk and reinsurance
      intermediary services; Mercer
      is a global leader in talent, health, retirement, and investment
      consulting; and Oliver
      Wyman
      is a global leader in management consulting. With annual
      revenue exceeding $12 billion, Marsh McLennan Companies’ 55,000
      colleagues worldwide provide analysis, advice, and transactional
      capabilities to clients in more than 130 countries. The Company prides
      itself on being a responsible corporate citizen and making a positive
      impact in the communities in which it operates. Visit www.mmc.com
      for more information

      Media Contact:
      Marsh McLennan Companies
      Edward L.
      Dandridge, +1-212-345-9751
      ed.dandridge@mmc.com
      or
      Investor
      Contact:

      Marsh McLennan Companies
      Keith Walsh,
      +1-212-345-0057
      keith.walsh@mmc.com

      Contact

      Marsh McLennan Companies, Inc.

      Article source: http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/marsh-mclennan-companies-earns-perfect-070000140.html

      Duggars Declare Victory for Fairness in Repealing Nondiscrimination Ordinance

      Thursday, December 11th, 2014

      Voters in Fayetteville, Ark., repealed a nondiscrimination ordinance Tuesday, less than four months after the City Council overwhelmingly approved the law that protected LGBT and other residents from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations. 

      The Fayetteville Civil Rights Ordinance prohibited local businesses and entities from discriminating “against employes and customers based on gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, and other factors,” according to Fayetteville TV station KFSM. Among more than 14,000 ballots cast, 52 percent voted to repeal the ordinance, while 48 percent voted in favor of the existing ordinance. 

      “We wanted to repeal the ordinance because we didn’t believe it made Fayetteville a fairer city or a freer city,” local minister Duncan Campbell told KFSM. “It did just the opposite. It was called the Civil Rights Ordinance, but it was misnamed. It was an ordinance that actually took away civil rights and freedom from people. It criminalized civil behavior.”

      Other repeal supporters proudly proclaimed that the election made Fayetteville the first city in the nation to repeal a nondiscrimination ordinance, thanking religious groups — including the Southern Baptist Convention — for their help drumming up opposition. LGBT blog The New Civil Rights Movement reports that in the days leading up the election, public debate grew heated, and some residents opposing repeal saw their yard signs vandalized with antigay slurs. 

      While LGBT advocates were disappointed with the election’s result, some organizers said the discussion around the ordinance provided an important starting place for conversations that could one day change hearts and minds in favor supporting LGBT residents. 

      “I’m also very excited that the process worked,” Keep Fayetteville Fair campaign manager Anne-Garland Berry told the local news network. “I think [the loss] means that we have a lot of work to do. We haven’t had the conversations we needed to have. We haven’t persuaded the people we needed to persuade. So my goal for our team and those of us here and in other parts of Arkansas and in other parts of the south and in this country is [that] we should have more conversation.”

      The Duggar Effect

      The nondiscrimination ordinance itself, passed by the City Council in 6-2 vote in August, was largely similar to others passed in cities around the country, though the battle over Fayetteville’s Civil Rights Ordinance garnered national attention when the Duggar family, stars of the popular TLC reality series 19 Kids and Counting, began campaigning against the legislation. 

      Despite not living in Fayetteville (the majority of the family lives in neighboring Tontitown), the matriarch of the ever-expanding family, Michelle Duggar, recorded a “robocall” that went out to thousands of Fayetteville residents, chock-full of antitrans scare tactics. Calling the ordinance “shocking,” Duggar’s voice told local residents, “The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance … that would allow men — yes, I said men — to use women’s and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas, and other areas that are designated for females only.” 

      Her message went on to equate transgender women with men who are convicted child molesters — a provably false connection often trotted out by those opposed to equal access for transgender people. 

      “I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls,” Duggar’s message claimed, despite the fact that the proposed ordinance established no such “legal right” for men — especially convicted criminals — to enter spaces designated for women. 

      The entire Duggar family are devout Independent Baptists, and their adherence to the “Christian Patriarchy” movement is a central feature of the popular reality show. Family members frequently weigh in on political matters, having campaigned for Rick Santorum, headlined the right-wing Values Voters Summit, and even called for a boycott of the Girl Scouts after news broke that a Colorado troop allowed a 7-year-old transgender girl to join.

      Josh Duggar, the oldest of the titular offspring, joined the staff of certified anti-LGBT hate group the Family Research Council’s legislative arm, FRC Action, last summer. After results from the Fayetteville special election arrived, Duggar tweeted a message that is, presumably, free of any intentional irony, though LGBT residents of Fayetteville might disagree: 

      In a related note, a Change.org petition asking TLC to “end LGBTQ fear-mongering by the Duggars” and cancel the family’s popular reality show currently has more than 177,000 signatures at press time. 

      Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/2014/12/10/duggars-declare-victory-fairness-repealing-nondiscrimination-ordinance

      Will 2015 Vatican Synod Follow Pope's Lead on LGBT Families?

      Thursday, December 11th, 2014

      Following a 2014 Synod of Bishops that drew widespread media attention for its discussions about LGBT people, the Vatican is making preparations for the October 2015 synod, where discussions about marriage and family will continue.

      The Vatican this week released a document/questionnaire that calls for bishops to collect input from Catholic leaders and laypeople, according to the National Catholic Reporter. The questions address topics such as divorce and remarriage as well as “pastoral care of ‘persons with homosexual tendencies.’”

      Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of LGBT Catholic organization DignityUSA, said in a statement that she was “deeply frustrated” with the church’s approach.

      “There remains no opportunity for openly LGBT Catholics, or for families who delight in their LGBT members, to have official input into the deliberations, or to vote on policies and doctrines that will affect us for decades to come,” she said. “Even the language used to refer to lesbian and gay people (‘people with homosexual tendencies’) is a reversion to the dated and judgmental tone that so many had hoped was fading into the past, given Pope Francis’ apparent comfort in talking with and about LGBT people in a more realistic and respectful way.

      “LGBT people certainly need appropriate pastoral care that starts from a position of acknowledging our moral equality with all other people, and that accepts the reality of our lives and the families we create,” Duddy-Burke continued. “But we are not a problem for the Church to solve. We are human beings, baptized members of our Church, God’s beloved just as are other members of the Church. We have ‘gifts and qualities’ needed and freely offered to the Church and the world, to borrow language from the previous Synod’s interim report.”

      New Ways Ministry, another pro-LGBT Catholic group, also responded to the Vatican document, with a blog post positing that “the questions that relate to this topic hold some promise for productive discussion and possible changes in pastoral practice, as well as some problems” while also expressing concern about some of the language used in the questions.

      “Regardless of the merits or drawbacks of these questions, the real import will be in whether bishops actually do the wide consultation that is called for by this document,” wrote Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways.

      “In 2013, the U.S. bishops did very little in terms of consulting the laity in preparation for the 2014 synod. Now that they have had more time to consider options, they should have no excuse not to do the wide consultation the Vatican requests. … And, of course, we repeat that the 2015 meeting must include Catholic LGBT people speaking for themselves to the synod of bishops. The 2014 meeting suffered greatly because of that omission.”

      In what may be a hopeful note for LGBT Catholics, the Vatican urged bishops to “let yourselves be guided by the pastoral turning point that the [2014] extraordinary synod began to sketch out,” not strictly by doctrine, the Associated Press reports.

      The 2015 synod, The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World, is slated for October 4-25. 

      Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2014/12/10/will-2015-vatican-synod-follow-popes-lead-lgbt-families

      Business chiefs rally for LGBT

      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

      <!–enpproperty 2014-12-10 07:14:18.0Emma Dai in Hong KongBusiness chiefs rally for LGBTBusiness chiefs rally for LGBT11022442HongKong Business2@hk/enpproperty–>

       

      HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver told a LGBT summit at Admiralty on Tuesday that equality could help companies embrace the best possible talents. Provided to China Daily

      Workplace diversity, equality mean good business, enterprises told

      Global business leaders have vowed to fight for equal treatment for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people, saying embracing diversity at the workplace helps to build stronger business.

      Creating an equal environment for all, including LGBT people, is not only the financial industry’s responsibility, but also benefits business by improving engagement and creativity at work, a group of bankers and CEOs said in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

      “I’m passionate about diversity because I want my colleagues to be themselves at work. We are responsible for creating a society where everyone has a chance to fulfill his or her potential,” said Stuart Gulliver, group chief executive of HSBC.

      The bank recently put on rainbow colors at its Hong Kong headquarters’ “Symphony of Lights” show in support of the LGBT community.

      Gulliver stressed that, from a commercial perspective, a “truly inclusive internal environment” is good for business.

      He said: “You want the best people for jobs regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual preference. Limiting access to talent because of prejudice makes no sense.”

      For business on the Chinese mainland, a rapidly changing market, the first thing that comes along is people, said Helen Wong, deputy chairman, president and CEO of HSBC China. However, the latest internal survey shows that most LGBT people are still hiding, she added.

      “It’s a bit disappointing. Little improvement has been made in the past year,” said Todd Sears, founder and principal of Out Leadership. He pointed out non-discrimination legislation has yet to cover the LGBT group in town.

      “Hong Kong needs to adopt better anti-discrimination policies for the LGBT community to make it a better place to do business,” he said.

      “Where LGBT people are protected, they are more productive, happier and stay with their employers longer. That’s why companies care,” Sears added.

      Progress in Hong Kong lags behind other developed economies, said York Chow Yat-ngok, chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

      “Misconceptions and stereotypical thinking about the LGBTI (LGBT and intersex) community remain far too common still. What we need in Hong Kong are informed and rational discussions,” Chow told the summit.

      “I never see gay people differently. I look at people on their abilities,” said Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group. He said it needs a diverse team to serve all kinds of customers around the world. “The broader base of employees you have, the stronger the business will be.”

      Leaders need to show the team that they support LGBT people, said Lisa Robins, Asia-Pacific head of global transaction banking at Deutsche Bank AG. “It’s not good enough to be silent.”

      “Things are changing in a good way. The younger generation is much more open,” said Seiji Yasubuchi, president and CEO of GE Capital Japan, adding that more than half of his company’s young employees have LGBT friends.

      emmadai@chinadailyhk.com

      (HK Edition 12/10/2014 page9)

      Article source: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/hkedition/2014-12/10/content_19054079.htm

      Op-ed: The Race Toward Olympic Equality Is Not Finished

      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

      This week, the International Olympic Committee amended Principle 6 of the Olympic charter, which protects athletes from discrimination, to explicitly include sexual orientation. While it is historic, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocates will note that this change still falls short of the goal of full equality and inclusion.

      A year ago, with the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on the horizon, Athlete Ally and All Out launched the Principle 6 Campaign to mobilize athletes and fans around the world to show support for the Olympic principle of nondiscrimination and speak out against Russia’s anti-LGBT laws. The campaign appropriated the language of Principle 6 from the Olympic charter to highlight both the absence of LGBT inclusion and the fundamental problem of holding the Olympics in a country with laws that run contrary to the sixth principle’s statement of nondiscrimination.

      Working with American Apparel, Athlete Ally and All Out created a line of Principle 6 merchandise that was sold to raise awareness, demonstrate support, and provide much-needed funding for LGBT groups in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Olympians including Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff and American tennis star James Blake were among those who modeled the clothing for its launch.

      The impact of the campaign was widespread, with over 50 Olympic and professional athletes joining as signatories of the Principle 6 campaign. Tens of thousands of fans across the globe also expressed their support for LGBT athletes and the Russian LGBT community. The issue of LGBT equality at the Olympics became a top story for news outlets around the world, including The New York Times and USA Today. The campaign was featured on ESPN’s Outside the Lines in a segment that included U.S. Olympic snowboarders Callan Chythook-Sifsof and Seth Wescott.

      The impact of the Principle 6 campaign has continued well beyond the close of the Games. It has been recognized as a driving force in encouraging the IOC to take its first tentative steps at real reform. In September the IOC added a nondiscrimination clause to future host city contracts, requiring them to pledge to uphold Principle 6. Further reform to host city contracts came the following month, when the IOC announced it would include human rights protections, compelling that all necessary means be taken to ensure compliance with international agreements, protocols, environment, health, safety, and labor laws.

      Last month IOC president Thomas Bach announced 40 recommendations to shape the future of the Olympic Movement, including Recommendation 14, which proposed that the IOC include non-discrimination on sexual orientation to “strengthen the 6th Fundamental Principle of Olympism.” Recommendation 14 has been recognized as a step toward unprecedented IOC support for nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by LGBT advocacy organizations including GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign.

      However, without the inclusion of gender identity, a part of the global sporting community remains vulnerable. IOC member Angela Ruggiero called the proposed amendment to Principle 6 “a message of absolute nondiscrimination.” Yet without that key language regarding gender identity, transgender athletes will be left behind as the IOC moves forward.

      With support from Principle 6 campaign partners, Human Rights Watch and Athlete Ally, All Out has renewed the call for the IOC to assure that all athletes, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, are protected from discrimination.

      While the proposed inclusion of sexual orientation does, “strengthen the 6th Fundamental Principle of Olympism,” the omission of gender identity as a protected class means that progress is only being made in regards to who you love, not in regards to who you are. Olympic gold medalist, U.S. women’s soccer player, and Principle 6 campaign supporter Megan Rapinoe has stated that “equality is a team sport,” because it takes all of us to put an end to LGBT discrimination. As we work to ensure that the Olympics and Olympic Movement truly reflect a commitment to non-discrimination, we must remember that as long as some have not yet crossed the finish line, the race toward full equality and inclusion must continue.

       

      LAURA CLISE is the director of external communications and corporate citizenship at Areva Inc. and a 2013 Aspen Institute First Mover Fellow. She is a member of Athlete Ally’s board of directors and was one of the organization’s key leaders of the Principle 6 campaign. Laura is also the recipient of an Exceptional Individual Achievement Award from the Human Rights Campaign for her work on marriage equality in Maryland.

      Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/12/10/op-ed-race-toward-olympic-equality-not-finished

      A Comprehensive LGBT Nondiscrimination Bill Is Coming

      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014








      © Provided by Time Article
      Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., defends the Senate Democrats? vote to weaken filibusters and make it harder for Republicans to block confirmation of the president’s nominees for judges and other top posts, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 21, 2013.

      A bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in hiring and firing has been introduced in some form — and then failed to become law — in nearly every Congress for the past two decades. On Wednesday, a champion of that bill, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), will announce that rather than having another go in the upcoming session, he’ll turbocharge it instead.

      Democratic Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley will propose a much broader measure aimed at preventing discrimination against LGBT Americans, not just in employment but also with regard to public accommodations, housing, jury service and financial transactions. “It can’t be right that people are thrown out of their rental housing because of their LGBT status or can be denied entry to a movie theater or to a restaurant,” Merkley tells TIME. “That simply is wrong and we need to take on this broader agenda.” He hopes to have a bill, complete with bipartisan co-sponsors, ready for introduction in four to six months.

      Despite the popular conception that such protections already exist — one poll put the number at 87% — there is no federal LGBT nondiscrimination law. Twenty-one states currently prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and 18 of those, as well as the District of Columbia, also include gender identity. State lawmakers in places like Florida, Virginia and Utah are gearing up to fight for such measures in the coming session, while lawmakers in Michigan are currently in the throes of that debate.

      Merkley’s announcement will coincide with the unveiling of a comprehensive report on LGBT discrimination by the D.C.-based think tank Center of American Progress (CAP). Opponents of bills like ENDA, including House Speaker John Boehner, have argued that they’re an “unnecessary” solution in search of a problem. The authors of the report, who spent four months compiling studies and research on the topic, say they hope this “landmark” study will put those objections to rest.

      “The reality is that LGBT people face pervasive discrimination in all areas of life throughout the country,” says lead author Sarah McBride. “Marriage equality is an incredibly important issue … At the same time, our country shouldn’t be pacified by that progress. We shouldn’t mistake that progress for victory.” One of the report’s catchiest, most poignant arguments is that in 11 states, a same-sex couple could now get married on Saturday and then be legally fired for being gay on Monday morning.

      The report, titled “We the People,” is packed with statistics to arm lawmakers in arguing for the passage of nondiscrimination laws: in the realm of employment, up to 28% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people report not getting a promotion because of their sexual orientation; and 47% of transgender workers say they’ve been fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of their gender identity. Gay men may make one-third less than heterosexual men working similar jobs, the report adds, and the rate of poverty experienced by transgender people is nearly four times that of the general population.

      Arguments over nondiscrimination bills often get heated when it comes to public accommodations — shorthand for the businesses and services available to the public. The proverbial scenario (based in reality) has become a gay couple who goes to a baker for a wedding cake and is turned down because a shop owner’s religious beliefs include opposition to gay marriage. Under nondiscrimination laws, such shop owners could be subject to legal penalties, and Merkley says that’s how it should be. “If you choose to be the proprietor of a restaurant, you should be expected to operate that restaurant in a fashion that does not embrace discrimination,” he says. Lawmakers in places like Kansas have disagreed with that notion and attempted to protect such business owners from liability.

      The CAP report reveals that up to 27% of LGBT consumers have experienced “inappropriate treatment” or hostility in a place of public accommodation, while 6% have been denied service outright. Up to 70% of transgender people report experiencing some form of harassment when trying to use a public restroom, which is another hot-button area and has led state lawmakers to propose bills mandating that people only use the restroom that aligns with the sex on their birth certificate.

      In 2013, ENDA reached a historic milestone, passing the Senate in a bipartisan vote 64-32. Though the House did not take up the bill, Merkley says it helped propel President Barack Obama to issue an executive order in June that created LGBT nondiscrimination protections for roughly 28 million federal contractors and employees. “The sky didn’t fall,” Merkley says. “This is a positive thing. It’s positive for the employers. It’s certainly positive for the individuals involved. It’s certainly positive for the overall economy.” Proponents of nondiscrimination bills argue that in order to capitalize on the best possible talent, LGBT workers need to feel welcome and protected no matter the company or state.

      The CAP report details discrimination in medical care, homeless shelters, law enforcement, rental housing and myriad other fields. The authors also have to admit that there’s data lacking, in parts where discrimination is treated more as a possibility than a fact. McBride says LGBT people will only file complaints after nondiscrimination laws are in place, while many government forms and medical forms don’t ask questions about sexual orientation or gender identity that would help fill in those gaps.

      Some state lawmakers are trying to do their own research. In Virginia, state delegate Marcus Simon is working with advocacy groups to test the rental market, having “same-sex” and “married” couples call and inquire about the same property. Early results, he says, show there is a difference in treatment about 30% of the time. That’s data he’ll use to bolster a LGBT nondiscrimination housing measure he plans to introduce in the coming weeks.

      A federal bill like the one Merkley is proposing has several obstacles to overcome. One is finding a way for a Congress with two Republican-controlled chambers to actually take it up. Another is fighting the notion that with the scales tipping so far in favor of same-sex marriage, LGBT Americans have already achieved equal status in all spheres. Lawmakers and LGBT rights advocates argue that the legalization of marriage will lead to more people being public about their sexual orientation and therefore afford more opportunities for conflict, meaning bakers could only be posed with an order for a same-sex wedding cake if same-sex marriage is legal in the first place. “It is going to become more and more obvious who the LGBT people are, and that’s a good thing,” McBride says. “But it also is going to mean there might be more instances where people are discriminated against.”

      McBride acknowledges that getting a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill passed is going to be an “uphill battle.” Advocates like Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, say there’s no “clear path” to passing ENDA or a broader measure in the next two years, but believe the votes are there if those proposing the bills can get them to the floor.

      Merkley, taking a long view, seems cautiously optimistic. He worked to pass a similar measure as a state lawmaker in Oregon and ran on supporting same-sex marriage in 2008 when it was legal in only two states. “No one imagined that within this six-year span that I’ve been in the Senate, my first term in the Senate, that we would be on the verge of ending marriage discrimination across the country, yet here we are,” he says. “It’s very important to recognize how fast the world is changing, and another two years will bring additional changes as well, as people come to terms and understand this discrimination is wrong and it needs to end.”

      Article source: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/a-comprehensive-lgbt-nondiscrimination-bill-is-coming/ar-BBgAqqs?srcref=rss

      Pope Francis Calls On Families To Support Their LGBT Children

      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

      Pope Francis is all about giving support to the LGBT community. That said, a new interview reveals that a recent discussion about the LGBT community was focused on LGBT children instead of same-sex marriage. The latter issue has been a hot topic since Pope Francis took a stand in supporting gay rights, but families supporting their LGBT children was weighing on the Pope’s mind.

      According to The Advocate, the conversation took place at the Roman Catholic Church’s Synod of Bishops. The Pope told an Argentinian newspaper, La Nación of the importance of families supporting their gay children.

      The newspaper brought up the issue between the conservative sectors, and their fears about the confusion over the traditional doctrine. This is due to the mention of “positive nuances” on gay couples living together, even though the bishops backed off from this.

      Pope Francis clarified that same-sex marriage wasn’t a conversation that was brought up at the synod.

      “The synod addressed the family and the homosexual persons in relation to their families, because we come across this reality all the time in the confessional: a father and a mother whose son or daughter is in that situation. We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter. That´s what the synod addressed. That´s why someone mentioned positive factors in the first draft. But this was just a draft.”

      Although this is just a draft, this is still a huge accomplishment for the LGBT community. Finally, their voices are being heard in a way that hasn’t existed in the Catholic Church. Not only are their voices being heard, but modern concerns that have yet to be addressed until now are reaching families.

      Parents supporting their LGBT children is a huge learning curve for religious families or just something that in the past was pushed under the rug. If the Pope is open to discussing important issues that exist in the LGBT community, this will surely open discussion up in homes. Too many LGBT children feel dismissed in the world because of the Catholic Church’s teachings.

      Too many children and teens are sent to camps and undergo emotionally damaging therapies to “fix” their homosexuality. If the Catholic Church introduced understanding and acceptance, beliefs like praying the gay away might be a thing of the past.

      Despite all of this progress, Pope Francis still has an uphill battle. Marianne Duddy-Burke, the executive director of the LGBT Catholic group DignityUSA, said right-wing interests are still putting an enormous amount of pressure on the Vatican to uphold the status quo.

      “I think that the continued witness to the fact that there are LGBT families of all sorts in our church is even more important in the face of this kind of opposition, and I think families need to keep being visible and keep speaking up about the challenges that we face.”

      [Image via giulio napolitano / Shutterstock.com]

      Article source: http://www.inquisitr.com/1666927/pope-francis-lgbt/

      ‘Stop LGBT Hate Crime’ campaign launched

      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

      The Minister of State for New Communities, Culture and Equality Aodhan Ó Ríordáin TD launched the GLEN’s ‘Stop LGBT Hate Crime’ campaign today.

      The campaign encourages people to report LGBT hate crimes and incidents directly to the Gardaí and to log incidents they witness or experience at www.stophatecrime.ie

      “There has been great progress in Ireland for LGBT people over the last decade. However, despite this progress, LGBT people still experience alarming levels of violence and harassment, simply because of who they are� said Nathalie Weadick, Co-Chair of GLEN.

      One third of LGBT people have been physically or sexually attacked, and half have been harassed in the last five years. Little is reported to the Gardaí – only 17 homophobic incidents were registered on the Pulse system in 2013.

      “No one should ever feel threatened or at risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. If someone does feel that they are a victim of LGBT hate crime, or indeed any hate crime, then it is imperative that they report this matter to the Gardaí” said Minister Ó Ríordáin, Minister of State for New Communities, Culture Equality.

      “It is only when we record these incidents and have an accurate data map of when, how and where they happen that we can effectively tackle this issueâ€? continued Minister Ó Ríordáin

      “Fear, self-censorship and excessive caution should not be part of the daily reality for many LGBT people. Whether at school, at home or in public, LGBT people should be able go about their daily lives with the same sense of security that others enjoy� said Weadick.

      “Many of us are so used to living with a background of homophobia and transphobia that we put up with abuse and insults. This can have huge personal costs, but it also resonates within the LGBT community, which can create a climate of fear or uncertainty� said Craig Dwyer, Policy and Projects Officer, GLEN.

      “The ‘Stop LGBT Hate Crime’ campaign aims to bridge the gaps between LGBT people who experience hate crimes and incidents and the Gardaí, and to encourage reporting of all homophobic or transphobic incidents directly to the Gardaí or to the Garda LGBT Liaison Officers’ said Dwyer.

      The ‘Stop LGBT Hate Crime’ campaign also highlights the range of support services available for LGBT people who experience harassment or violence.

      “Being attacked because of who you are carries additional trauma and creates additional vulnerability for many LGBT people. Talking to someone who understands that can be a big help� continued Dwyer.

      “Our aim is for an Ireland where a lesbian or gay couple can walk, hand-in-hand, without fear, down the main street of any town in Ireland, like any other couple. This campaign is a further step towards that goal� concluded Weadick.

      Article source: http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/stop-lgbt-hate-crime-campaign-launched-654029.html

      Website targets LGBT abuse

      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

      A website where people can report homophobic abuse and violence has gone live, with those behind the initiative hoping it can reduce the amount of intimidation felt by LGBT people.

      The website — stophatecrime.ie — was launched last night by the minister of state with responsibility for new communities, culture, and equality, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

      The website is an initiative by Glen (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network), which said people could register any abuse they had suffered on the site anonymously, but they could also leave contact details if they wanted to.

      Craig Dwyer of Glen said: “We know from research that violence and harassment towards LGBT [lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender] people is still experienced,” he said.

      “We want to say that you can walk down a street in any town or village, proudly holding the hand of your partner.

      “Sometimes LGBT people think this [threats and abuse] is part and parcel of being who they are, but we are saying in this campaign ‘no, you don’t have to put up with it’.”

      He also said the website could act as “a bridge” between the LGBT community and the gardaí, pointing out that last year the Garda Pulse system logged just 17 crimes motivated by homophobia, whereas a 2012 EU report showed that one third of 1,625 respondents said they had been threatened or had experienced violence in the previous five years.

      Mr Dwyer said any incident of intimidation or violence should be reported to the gardai, but the website could also be used to map incidents so gardai could be notified of any patterns.

      The launch of the Hate Crime campaign and the anonymous, third party reporting website came after a blog written by a student in University College Cork went viral.

      The piece by Olan Harrington expressed his fear and anxiety about continuing to hold his boyfriend’s hand outside of the ‘safe space’ of the UCC campus.

      Article source: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/mhaukfqlsnkf/rss2/

      Editor's Letter: Why #DayInLGBT Matters If You Are 'LGBT'

      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

      It’s really hard to hate us when you know us. Just ask any professional activist who has worked on marriage equality ballot initiatives. 

      On its own, changing hearts and minds of the mainstream is good enough a reason to participate in today’s #DayInLGBT. Vladimir Putin’s government actually tells people we want to show porn to children, and evangelical leader Pat Robertson has said on TV that we stab people with sharp rings to infect them with HIV. As much progress as we’ve made, a photo still shows the world it has nothing to be scared of. 

      I mean, this morning I’m likely relaxing with some Starbucks; nothing nefarious here… I should probably take a photo.

      But in an equally important sense, I want this #DayInLGBT to serve double duty as a message to our own community. Today when you post a photo to Twitter or Instagram and tag it with #DayInLGBT (yes, it’s that simple), it can be about celebrating the myriad of ways we differ. The point is: there is no prevailing picture of what it means to be LGBT.

      Did you know that “gaybros” is one of the most popular search terms on Google for Here Media’s network of LGBT websites? The term possibly started as a Reddit community of men who appreciate things — like sports and beer — that are normally considered straight. 

      None of us likes the idea that rooting for the Patriots or Celtics or Bruins means some clever fella will eventually comment about how un-gay that seems. So will someone please post a photo today wearing a jersey? Let’s consider it a note to that guy, the one who inevitably makes a joke about gay guys not normally wearing hockey jerseys.

      Are you religious? Because I know many of us go to synagogues or meditate at home, or have a crucifix hanging in your apartment, but we don’t talk about it enough. I’d like this #DayInLGBT to show that, yes, you can believe in a higher power and still be LGBT despite all the persecution we’ve faced.

      (RELATED: See Live Feed of Photos From #DayInLGBT)

      During the last year or so, The Advocate has added numerous dedicated channels — Transgender, Religion, Bisexuality, Families, Sports and more. Believe it or not, some of the audiences for these channels intersect. There are sports lovers who happen to be trans. There are bisexual men who are religious — just ask contributing writer Eliel Cruz. The point is being LGBT isn’t one thing. It isn’t one kind of person. 

      I remember back to the start of the Transgender channel. We worried commenters would misgender people, or would generally say offensive things, but I felt it necessary because nothing would change if LGBs never know more Ts. The goal of this channel and others is to create opportunities to learn about each other.

      I know it all sounds simplistic. Knowing someone, and just one person, shouldn’t matter as much as it does.

      For example, I’m convinced that sometimes trans and bisexual people are treated as merely theoretical. The resulting conversation about those communities then remains impersonal — and yet about human beings. We don’t get each other, in part because we don’t see each other.

      We also need to hear and see and experience LGBTs who freaking love science, those who choose to have children, those who geek out about The Hobbit, and don’t care one lick about decorating. 

      But we shouldn’t get angry when we do hear from someone who likes to decorate (uh, in full disclosure, I like to decorate). 

      With too few portrayals of us in the media, or in film and television, the stakes feel artificially high on whether any representation is inclusive. The dads on The New Normal were criticized for being too white and rich, and still their story was based on the life of the show’s creator, a real human being named Ryan Murphy. The backlash against the ubiquitous rich, white guys is at least partly a statement about how few chances anyone else gets to be on TV, in music, on the playing field, fighting for our country, and so on.

      All of this pressure is ruining us. No one should tell another of us to skip telling their life’s story because it isn’t representative of the greater community. No one should ever tell an effeminate man that he’s a stereotype and a disservice to the movement. No one should tell a gay dad that he’s ruining gay culture by assimilating. No one should tell the religious LGBT person that he’s betraying his community. Those examples are not theoretical; I’ve heard them all. The solution is more representations, not fewer.

      This used to be called the “Day in Gay” America because it rhymed. 

      Day in “LGBT” is slightly better, though many of us hope that term is one day replaced too. Among my favorite photo essays of 2014 show people who refuse to pick a mainstream-approved label. They look defiantly into the camera, holding a sign with “genderqueer” written on it, or another identifier. Maybe “gay dad.” Maybe “pansexual, or maybe just “loves whoever I want.” They’re proud of who they are — all of who they are.

      We aren’t all the same. This should go without saying, but it shouldn’t go without showing. 

       

      LUCAS GRINDLEY is editorial director and vice president for Here Media, living in Los Angeles with his husband and two daughters. Contact him on Twitter or Instagram @lucasgrindley.

      Article source: http://www.advocate.com/day-lgbt-america/2014/12/09/editors-letter-why-dayinlgbt-matters-if-you-are-lgbt

      Starwood Hotels & Resorts Earns Top Marks in 2015 Corporate Equality Index

      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

      STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

      Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (HOT) today announced it has received a perfect score of 100 percent on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Starwood has received a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index over the past nine years and joins the ranks of 364 major U.S. businesses which also earned top marks this year.

      “With more than 1,200 hotels in 100 countries and nearly 200,000 associates worldwide, our company diversity is a huge point of pride for us,” said Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO of Starwood Hotels Resorts. “We work hard to ensure our guests and associates feel welcomed, respected and accepted at our hotels around the globe, and we value our long-standing partnership with the HRC as we continue to work together to build support for the LGBT community.”

      Most recently, Starwood’s W brand partnered with the HRC to launch a fundraising and awareness initiative for nationwide LGBT equality, called “TURN IT UP FOR CHANGE”. As part of the campaign, W Hotels across the US are hosting monthly “TURN IT UP FOR CHANGE” music events, from which a portion of the proceeds are donated to the HRC’s fight to bring real and lasting change for LGBT Americans in all 50 states.

      “At Starwood, we believe that our differences are not only worth recognizing but something to celebrate,” said Jeff Cava, EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer of Starwood. “Over the past nine years my team has been excited to complete this survey on behalf of the organization to show our continued progress and commitment to the LGBT community.”

      The 2015 CEI rated 972 businesses in the report, which evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community. Starwood Hotel Resorts’ efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria results in a 100 percent ranking and the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.

      For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

      About The Human Rights Campaign

      The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

      About Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

      Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 1,200 properties in 100 countries, and 181,400 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, and Element®. The Company boasts one of the industry’s leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG®), allowing members to earn and redeem points for room stays, room upgrades and flights, with no blackout dates. Starwood also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., a premier provider of world-class vacation experiences through villa-style resorts and privileged access to Starwood brands.

      Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/starwood-hotels-resorts-earns-top-154600775.html

      Landscape: LGBT baby boomers face tough retirement hurdles

      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

      New York, New York, United States — For Kathy Murphy, the difference between being gay or straight is $583 a month.

      Retirement should have been a “slam dunk,” the 62-year-old Texas widow says. She saved, bought a house with her spouse and has a pension through her employer.

      But Murphy’s golden years have not been as secure as they should have been. She is missing out on thousands of dollars a year in Social Security benefits simply because she was married to a woman, not a man.

      Murphy fell into a loophole in Social Security that denies survivor benefits to same-sex couples depending on what state they live in. Had Murphy and her wife, Sara Barker, lived next door in New Mexico, a state that does recognize same-sex marriage, this wouldn’t have been an issue.

      “If I had been straight, getting widow’s benefits would have been a slam dunk,” Murphy says. “I never thought I would live to see same-sex marriage, but the government still minimizes my marriage and my relationship of 32 years.”

      Murphy could be thought of as just one of the many baby boomers who are not prepared for retirement. But while the group overall is not ready to stop working, gay boomers face challenges that make them even more vulnerable, experts say.

      For many, decades of workplace discrimination impaired their earning power. The AIDS crisis caused lasting financial and psychological damage, particularly for gay men. And legal pitfalls within Social Security, the cornerstone in any senior’s financial planning, have left gay boomers ill-equipped for retirement.

      Same-sex couples in general are likely to have saved far less for retirement than their straight counterparts, according to an exclusive analysis of the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The center is jointly operated by The Associated Press and NORC, a leading research center at the University of Chicago.

      The median retirement savings for a same-sex couple is roughly $66,000, while straight married couples have roughly $88,000, according to the data, which looks at the finances of straight and same-sex couples aged 19 to 95 going back to 2001.

      This data, as well as other studies, show that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults tend to be poorer, in worse health, and most often, alone — with no family to care for them when they reach old age.

      “In the aging world, there has been little regard for even the existence of LGBT older people, let alone their particular social and financial needs,” says Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE, a national organization focused on social services and advocacy for LGBT seniors.

      When financial firm Prudential asked LGBT adults aged 25 to 68 last year if they were “well prepared” for retirement, only 14 percent said they were, compared with 29 percent of the total population.

      And in a sad irony, many of the aging pioneers of gay rights are too old to reap the retirement benefits from the marriage laws they championed.

      Gays and lesbians have faced higher unemployment, lower wages and a workplace where discrimination based upon sexual orientation was common. While many corporations have non-discrimination policies now, it is still legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation in 21 states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

      Two polls, one by Pew Research in 2013 and one by Gallup in 2012, reached the same conclusion: LGBT individuals were more likely to make less money than their straight peers during their careers. Gay men earned as much as 32 percent less than straight men, according to research by the Williams Institute, a California-based think tank that focuses on LGBT issues.

      As a result, gay men and women over 65 are more likely to end up in poverty. Lesbians, who face wage discrimination because of both their gender and sexual orientation, are even more vulnerable.

      Being LGBT “just amplifies the financial problems women already face in the workforce,” says Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project, a Denver-based LGBT-focused think tank.

      The Gallup poll found that 15.9 percent of gay men over 65 were near or below the Federal poverty line, compared to 9.7 percent of heterosexual men in the same age group. While the Gallup poll showed poverty rates for straight and gay women to be statistically similar, other studies, including a 2009 report by the Williams Institute, showed lesbian couples over the age of 65 were twice as likely to live below the poverty line as opposite-sex couples, and were much more likely to be on public assistance programs such as food stamps.

      Article source: http://ph.news.yahoo.com/landscape-lgbt-baby-boomers-face-tough-retirement-hurdles-220052332.html

      LGBT couples concerned about ruling

      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

      Posted: Monday, December 8, 2014 12:39 am

      LGBT couples concerned about ruling

      Ariana Figueroa, Alligator Staff Writer

      The Independent Florida Alligator

      |
      0 comments

      Following a federal court decision announced Wednesday, Florida same-sex couples can marry by early January — but some partners are hesitant to plan their ceremonies.

      Though the decision was seen as a victory in the LGBT community, no same-sex couples have reserved a spot to tie the knot at United Church of Gainesville, said senior minister Shelly Wilson. She said the church is accepting ceremony reservations for anytime after Jan. 5.

      “We plan to be there on the courtyard stairs and plan to offer our services,” Wilson said.

      Same-sex couples have not reserved ceremonies at the Baughman Center or the Alachua County Courthouse either, but both locations said they are accepting reservations for dates after Jan. 5 as well.

      Gaby Larios, external vice president of the UF Pride Student Union, said most couples are apprehensive about making wedding plans because rulings have been delayed in the past.

      The 19-year-old women’s studies sophomore said she hopes the ruling is passed, but issues like bullying, suicide and transgender health care are still prevalent matters in the LGBT community.

      “A lot of people are not as excited about this ruling as they should be because it’s gonna make it seem like it’ll be the end of the LGBT movement,” she said.

      [A version of this story ran on page 4 on 12/7/2014]

      on

      Monday, December 8, 2014 12:39 am.

      Article source: http://www.alligator.org/news/local/article_1ebf35c2-7e9d-11e4-a0b3-7baf81415a28.html

      Pope: Church Should Help Families Stand by LGBT Members

      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

      Supporting parents of LGBT children, not addressing same-sex marriage, was the focus of LGBT-related discussion at the Roman Catholic Church’s recent Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis said in a new in-depth interview with Argentinian newspaper La Nación. 

      The pope, a native of Argentina and former archbishop of the nation, responded to questions on a wide array of topics, including marriage and family. LGBT Catholic leaders differ on the significance of his remarks in the interview.

      Here is the LGBT-focused question and response, as translated in La Nación:

      La Nación: Conservative sectors, specially in the United States, fear that the traditional doctrine will collapse, they say the synod caused confusion because though it did mention the “positive nuances” of living together, and gay couples were mentioned in the draft, although the bishops then backed off.
      Pope Francis: The synod was a process; the opinion of a synodal father was just that, the opinion of a synodal father; and a first draft was merely a first draft meant to record it all. Nobody mentioned homosexual marriage at the synod, it did not cross our minds. What we did talk about was of how a family with a homosexual child, whether a son or a daughter, goes about educating that child, how the family bears up, how to help that family to deal with that somewhat unusual situation. That is to say, the synod addressed the family and the homosexual persons in relation to their families, because we come across this reality all the time in the confessional: a father and a mother whose son or daughter is in that situation. This happened to me several times in Buenos Aires. We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter. That´s what the synod addressed. That´s why someone mentioned positive factors in the first draft. But this was just a draft.

      Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of the LGBT Catholic group DignityUSA, said the draft document released by the synod — a draft that would have included affirming statements about LGBT people, which were omitted from the finalized document — made it clear that the gathering did include discussions about same-sex couples, not just parents of LGBT children.

      Referencing the recent traditional marriage summit, Duddy-Burke said that it seems as if right-wing interests are exerting pressure on the Vatican to maintain the status quo.

      “I think that the continued witness to the fact that there are LGBT families of all sorts in our church is even more important in the face of this kind of opposition, and I think families need to keep being visible and keep speaking up about the challenges that we face,” she said.

      New Ways Ministry executive director Francis DeBernardo, however, had a more hopeful take on the interview, which he called “one more step in Pope Franciss’ journey of reaching out to the LGBT Catholic community.”

      “I think that while the synod did not make a statement about marriage between gay and lesbian couples … I’m sure that the bishops had discussions about that topic because it is such an important topic even for those who disagree with it,” DeBernardo said. “I think that outreach to families … with LGBT members … that was one of the best things the synod did [and] is really an important first step for the Catholic church. …

      “I think what the pope is doing, from my point of view, is that he’s changing the tone of the discussion. He hasn’t changed any doctrine or policies … but the fact that he’s opened the discussion and opened it with such a welcoming tone is having a great effect in the Catholic world in terms of how people at the grassroots respond to LGBT people and issues … I’ve just seen much more of a willingness in local Catholic institutions to address LGBT issues positively.”

      DeBernardo said that doctrinal changes “yet need to happen.” The La Nación interview included a question posed to the pope about the fears some people have that “traditional doctrine shall collapse.”

      Here is an excerpt from the pope’s response: “You know, some people are always afraid because they don´t read things properly, or they read some news in a newspaper, an article, and they don´t read what the synod decided, what was published. What was worthwhile about the synod? The post synodal connection and the Pope`s address. That is definitive, but it will eventually become relative and provisional, turning into a ‘guideline’ for the next synod … Different bishops who had different approaches, but we will all move on together. We had to protect our work so that the Holy Spirit might move forward. I am not afraid.”

      Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2014/12/08/pope-church-should-help-families-stand-lgbt-members

      LGBT Activists Protest at Seoul City Hall Over Delay of Human Rights Charter

      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

      Activists in South Korea staged sit-ins at Seoul City Hall Saturday, protesting the city government’s decision to delay adopting an LGBT-inclusive municipal human rights charter, reports Pink News.

      The charter was to be adopted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government Wednesday, which is Human Rights Day, and was to include a ban on discrimination based on “sexual orientation or sexual identity.” However, Seoul city officials, including Mayor Park Won-soon, appear to have caved to pressure from religious groups and conservatives who objected to that language.

      “The charter of human rights for Seoul citizens is supposed to be a pact created and enacted by the citizens themselves,” read a statement issued by the municipal government in late November. “Unfortunately, working on this charter has been creating more social conflicts. We would like to take more time to listen to a variety of opinions from our citizens on this matter.”

      Adoption of the charter was delayed indefinitely.

      Rainbow Action, the group protesting at City Hall, released a statement criticizing the mayor’s lack of commitment to protecting LGBT citizens of Seoul from discrimination, noting that he had refused to even meet with them.

      “At a meeting with Protestant pastors, Mr. Park apologized to the pastors for the ‘social conflicts’ caused during the process and confirmed that the Charter will not be made with inclusion of such provisions,” the group’s statement read. “The Mayor’s denying the Charter … is an act of discrimination by the State that does not comport with the Constitution and the National Human Rights Commission Act, as well as the international human rights law.”

      “We, LGBT activists and supporters, now occupied the City Hall to protest against the discrimination. Mr Park has never responded yet to our repeated requests to have a meeting. … The Charter must be proclaimed, as is originally scheduled on December 10, 2014, Human Rights Day, in Seoul.”

      Korean Christianity Reigns

      In October, Mayor Park told San Francisco’s edition of  The Examiner that he supports LGBT equality, but that Protestant Christian churches with an opposing view are very influential in the nation.

      “I personally agree with the rights of homosexuals,” Park told The Examiner. “But the Protestant churches are very powerful in Korea. It isn’t easy for politicians. It’s in the hands of activists to expand the universal concept of human rights to include homosexuals. Once they persuade the people, the politicians will follow. It’s in process now.”

      About one-third of South Koreans belong to a Christian church that says homosexuality is a sin, the publication notes.

      A Pew Research Center study, however, indicates that South Koreans’ attitudes on LGBT rights are evolving. According to a 2013 survey, 59 percent of people in the country said they find homosexuality “unacceptable,” but that’s down from 77 percent in 2007.

      Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/12/08/lgbt-activists-protest-seoul-city-hall-over-delay-human-rights-charter

      Supporting LGBT rights is good for the economy, study finds

      Monday, December 8th, 2014

      If protecting human rights is not a compelling enough argument, a recent report co-authored by a Rutgers professor gives developing countries another reason to promote inclusiveness of LGBT citizens.

      It is good for the economy.

      The study, recently released by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), analyzed the impact of the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on in 39 emerging economies.

      The found that each additional right a country grants its LGBT citizens equates to a $320 per capita increase in its GDP, about a 3 percent increase in the countries that were studied.

      “We can make a case, we can make a moral case, we can say of course it matters,” said Yana V. Rodgers, a professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies who co-authored the report. “But sometimes policymakers need numerical and quantitative arguments that more inclusion matters. Here is a report that crunches the numbers and can get LGBT rights to the policy table.”

      LGBT residents make up between 1 and 5 percent of the adult population, according to estimates for the United States and other countries with available data. When LGBT people are targets of violence, denied equal access to education, stigmatized in communities, and discouraged from pursuing the jobs that maximize their skills, their economic contributions are diminished. This can hold back economic advancement for the entire country, the report found.

      While other studies have examined the connection between tolerance and economic growth, this is the first report that looks at the connection between legal protections and economic expansion. The authors used an index developed by a Dutch law professor that establishes eight categories of legal recognition and protection for lesbians and gay men to measure inclusiveness.

      “This research provides a new window into understanding the extent to which stigma and discrimination against LGBT people affect a country’s economy,” said lead author, M. V. Lee Badgett, Williams distinguished scholar and director of the center for public policy and administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

      The report found that violence and discrimination against LGBT citizens creates economic harm for the individuals and the country as a whole:

      • Police officers unjustly arrest, detain, jail, beat, humiliate and extort LGBT people, taking LGBT people out of productive employment.
      • LGBT people face disproportionate rates of physical and psychological violence, which can restrict someone’s ability to work because of physical injuries and psychological trauma.
      • Workplace discrimination causes LGBT people to be unemployed and underemployed, compromising their full productive capacity.
      • LGBT people face multiple barriers to physical and mental health, which reduces their ability to work and productivity in the workplace.
      • LGBT students face discrimination in schools by teachers and other students, which hampers their learning and reduces the development of skills and knowledge that benefit an economy.

      Rodgers said this study creates an economic rationale for countries to adopt LGBT rights.

      “Countries that adopt more rights for the LGBT population will grow more quickly and have better social development,” she said.


      Explore further:

      Young people support LGBT rights but disagree on priorities

      More information: The study is available online: williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu… nt-november-2014.pdf

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      Article source: http://phys.org/news337244665.html

      Pride, ‘71 and Belle head prizes at British independent film awards

      Monday, December 8th, 2014

      Pride, the heartwarming story of an unlikely alliance between LGBT activists and a Welsh mining community in the 1980s, was the big winner at the British independent film awards, with prizes in three categories.

      The comedy-drama, based on true events, was named best British independent film, beating competition from Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner and The Imitation Game, and picked up two other awards, with Imelda Staunton named best supporting actress and Andrew Scott awarded best supporting actor.

      The film’s writer, Stephen Beresford, paid tribute to the original community that had inspired his film. “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners and the people of the mining community in South Wales stood shoulder to shoulder against the Thatcher government in 1984 and in so doing, unknowingly, paved the way for many of the civil rights that LGBT people enjoy today, including an equal age of consent and an equal marriage,” said Beresford. “The lesson of that they did is that same as it was in 1984. It’s just as simple and just as compelling – unite.”

      Yann Demange was named best director for his Belfast-set thriller, ’71, while the best actress award went to Gugu Mbatha-Raw for her first major role, the title part in Belle, based on the true story of a mixed-race aristocrat in 1780s England. She praised the quality of storytelling and attention to detail in British independent film. “Belle has been such a special experience, showing a period of history that we’ve seen so frequently on our screens, that Jane Austen era, but from the unique perspective of a woman of colour in the 1780s,” said Mbatha-Raw. “I’m really, really proud to be a part of something that ensures little girls can grow up knowing that Dido Belle was also part of our history, so thanks so much.”

      The ceremony held in London also saw Brendan Gleeson beat Timothy Spall’s depiction of JMW Turner and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing to the best actor prize for his portrayal of a priest whose life is threatened by a parishioner in Calvary.

      “I genuinely am knocked for six” said Gleeson, as he accepted the award. “I want to thank the producers who have to try and make independent film when it is almost impossible for people to risk commercially what is required artistically. It’s an awful hard time to make proper films but one of the reasons this room so special is that art is front and centre of what is being celebrated here and I’m exhilarated by it, so thanks very much.”

      Boyhood won best international film with director Richard Linklater dedicating the award to If… director Lindsay Anderson. Linklater said the film, which was made over a 12-year period, had been both “wildly impractical … but a wonderful life channel”. The director also confirmed he had just wrapped his follow up project to Boyhood – said to be an “almost sequel” to his 1993 cult coming-of-age classic Dazed and Confused – which begins with a teenager beginning university and was described by Linklater as “a big party film”.

      The Richard Harris award for outstanding contribution to British film was given to Emma Thompson, who, in typically flamboyant fashion, reminisced how she had once met Harris at an “unlikely dinner hosted by Russell Crowe” where the pair had bonded over their “lifelong devotion to alcohol, in all its forms”.

      Thompson, 55, also used the occasion, in a speech tinged with irony, to apologise for her own numerous commercial and blockbuster film projects.

      “I have to confess to you all, I have been with studios – I haven’t enjoyed it, I’ve tried very hard not to get sucked in, I’ve demanded smaller trailers,” she said. “I have also, and this is very hard to say, taken small roles in large studio films that could be described as formulaic, for money. In fact, I have done many things for money and I am sorry … I do apologise and I’d like to congratulate you all for being nobler than me in every way.”

      Best newcomer, presented by Helen Mirren, was given to Sameena Jabeen Ahmed for her part in Catch Me Daddy and the Douglas Hickox award for best debut director went to Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard for the Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days on Earth. Next Goal Wins, which chronicled the attempts of American Samoa to qualify for the 2014 world cup, was named best documentary.

      The Bifas also gave Benedict Cumberbatch the Variety award for helping focus the international spotlight on the UK,which he dedicated to his fiancée Sophie, who was in the audience.

      “All of us as freelance artists and filmmakers crave autonomy, and to be independent and free from outside controls, anything that makes us dependent on politics or money or an outside authority,” said Cumberbatch

      “For me some of the most exciting moments in cinema are always when the odds are against you and authenticity is still achieved, the work triumphs in a spirit of independence.”

      British independent film awards – the winners

      British independent film Pride

      International independent film Boyhood

      Director Yann Demange – ’71

      Douglas Hickox award for debut director Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard – 20,000 Days on Earth

      Screenplay Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan – Frank

      Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Belle

      Actor Brendan Gleeson – Calvary

      Supporting actress Imelda Staunton – Pride

      Supporting actor Andrew Scott – Pride

      Most promising newcomer Sameena Jabeen Ahmed – Catch Me Daddy

      Achievement in production The Goob

      Technical achievement Stephen Rennicks – Music – Frank

      Documentary Next Goal Wins

      The Raindance award Luna

      British short The Kármán Line

      Richard Harris award (for outstanding contribution by an actor to British film) Emma Thompson

      The Variety award Benedict Cumberbatch

      The special jury prize John Boorman

      Article source: http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663828/s/41362617/sc/17/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Cfilm0C20A140Cdec0C0A80Cbritish0Eindependent0Efilm0Eawards0Epride0Ebelle0E710Ebrendan0Egleeson/story01.htm

      Event aims to raise awareness of suicide, homelessness among LGBT Mormons

      Monday, December 8th, 2014


      Bill and Sherri Park discuss homelessness and suicide among LDS youth who identity as LGBT.

      Bill and Sherri Park discuss homelessness and suicide among LDS youth who identity as LGBT.

      Bill and Sherri Park discuss homelessness and suicide among LDS youth who identity as LGBT.

      Bill and Sherri Park discuss homelessness and suicide among LDS youth who identity as LGBT.

      SALT LAKE CITY — Some members within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world worked to raise awareness on a sensitive topic Sunday.

      The first Sunday of December from now on will be known as LDS LGBT Suicide Homelessness Awareness Day.

      The LDS Church holds fast and testimony meetings on the first Sunday of each month, and during those meetings any member is allowed to speak during the service and share their testimony. Sunday, members all over the world wore black and spoke of the risk for suicide and homelessness among LDS LGBT youth.

      “Most people are very kind when they understand, and I think this is a problem of not understanding,” said Sherri Park with the group Mormons Building Bridges.

      Sherri and Bill Park are members of the Mormon LGBT friendly group Mormons Building Bridges, and they spoke with FOX 13 News’ Carly Figueroa Sunday. The pair dressed in black and were the only two at their West Jordan ward to observe the inaugural LDS LGBT Suicide Homelessness Awareness Day.

      “If you just type in gay or lesbian, and they will say what our attitudes should be towards people who are gay or lesbian or transgender, and that should be an attitude of love and kindness and acceptance,” Sherri Park said.

      According to a press release from event organizers, studies indicate suicide is the second leading cause of death for Utah youth. More than 5,000 youth are estimated to experience homelessness in Utah per year. Of these, at least 40 percent identify as LGBT and the majority are from religious and socially conservative families, with 60 percent coming from Mormon homes.

      “For a long time I was told it’s better to be dead than gay,” said Devin Rehal, a gay man and former member of LDS Church.

      Rehal left the LDS Church in 2008 immediately following the passage of Proposition 8 in California.

      “There wasn’t much blowback, I think really only my Mom knows but she just cried a lot,” Rehal said.

      Rehal said the LDS Church coming out and accepting LGBT members was a step in the right direction but said more needs to be done to keep LDS LGBT kids alive and off the streets.

      “They have to actually support the youth that are in these terrible situations and coach their family members how to react when they come out and really kind of love them through it,” he said.

      The Parks have no connection to anyone who has committed suicide or is homeless, but they participated in the event because having two autistic children has taught them what it is to feel different and the importance of standing up for those who might be afraid to do it on their own.

      “If we can touch one person’s heart here, that person can pass the message on to someone else,” Bill Park said.

      Some participants also wore a rainbow ribbon and the name of a LGBT LDS youth who has taken their life or who is the survivor of a suicide attempt. Vigils were held all around the world to commence what many hope will become a growing annual trend.

      Article source: http://fox13now.com/2014/12/07/event-aims-to-raise-awareness-of-suicide-homelessness-among-lgbt-mormons/

      Una Mullally: Enda’s pint in gay bar a sterling show of solidarity

      Sunday, December 7th, 2014

      “Wow! Enda Kenny in Pantibar. That’s a first for us.” A tweet from Pantibar’s manager Shane Harte caused disbelief on Tuesday night, but there he was, surrounded by suits a few days after the Capel Street bar celebrated its seventh birthday with a rollicking drag show.

      Fine Gael’s LGBT group Christmas party was also attended by LGBT activists, as well as former minister for health James O’Reilly, Minister for the Arts Heather Humphreys, Jerry Buttimer TD and others.

      A small crowd of regular punters were split between thinking the whole episode was bizarre and reflecting how incredible it was that the head of the Government could casually have a pint in a gay bar.

      This isn’t just any gay bar of course, but the bar under the stewardship of drag performer Panti, who was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year.

      Panti herself skipped what would no doubt have been a good photo opportunity for the Taoiseach, as she was performing her theatre show at the Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar.

      The LGBT community is still smarting from Broadcasting Authority of Ireland rulings on “balance” when it comes to discussing marriage rights for gay people on radio, as well as the Pantigate furore earlier this year.

      It journeyed from an RTÉ scandal to the Dáil and eventually became an international news story due to Panti’s speech at the Abbey Theatre, which Fintan O’Toole called “the most eloquent Irish speech since Daniel O’Connell was in his prime”.

      There’s also the question of the referendum on marriage equality scheduled to be held in 2015, but as yet without a definite date, which is causing serious impatience in the community.

      The Taoiseach’s appearance at the bar will be seen not just as a show of solidarity with LGBT members of Fine Gael, but also with the wider community ahead of the referendum, which he has committed to campaign on in favour of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.

      Recently, a drive to register voters in colleges and universities around the country yielded 20,000 new names on the register ahead of the marriage equality referendum.

      A casual pint it may have been, but an orchestrated statement nonetheless of a widening acceptance of LGBT issues in a society where LGBT people are increasingly politicised.

      While the regulars in Pantibar might have been ambivalent towards his presence, the activists in attendance were well aware of its significance.

      Article source: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/una-mullally-enda-s-pint-in-gay-bar-a-sterling-show-of-solidarity-1.2027840

      LGBT law clinic Legal G-Aid launches in Key West

      Sunday, December 7th, 2014

      News

      LGBT law clinic Legal G-Aid launches in Key West

      Article source: http://www.keysnet.com/2014/12/06/500126/lgbt-law-clinic-launches-in-key.html

      LGBT Jewish Clergy Gather for Historic Retreat in San Francisco

      Saturday, December 6th, 2014

      The first event of its kind, an LGBTQI Jewish Clergy Retreat is bringing together more than 60 clergy members and students Sunday through Wednesday in San Francisco. Participants represent different branches of Judaism as well as various ages and experience levels, and they hail from four different countries: Germany, Israel, Canada and the U.S.

      “This is such an historic event,” said Rabbi Debra Kolodny, who said the last time LGBT Jewish clergy gathered it was a small group, not necessarily a formal conference — and it took place years, if not decades ago. “For me, it’s just like getting together this brilliant heart, mind, soul trust. … It came from my desire to create the opportunity for all of us to be together.”

      Kolodny is the executive director of the LGBT Jewish organization Nehirim, which is hosting the event. She said that with the “dominoes falling” in the culture wars, there is an opportunity to move beyond playing defense on anti-LGBT sentiment and to have deeper theological discussions about LGBT people. For instance, a transgender rabbi will talk about creating liturgy for transgender people, and there will be a discussion about gender in Kabbalah.

      “At the very basic level, I’m hoping that [guests] leave with a tool kit — of new ways to look at Torah, of rituals that they can deploy with their congregants … with more sensitivity around the needs of LGBT congregants,” Kolodny said, “so that we leave professionally so much better resourced than we arrived.”

      She also hopes to see an ongoing support/peer network grow out of the event, and she’s excited that the conference will include “some deep visioning around what comes next.”

      Kolodny has penned an Advocate.com op-ed about her own experiences as a bisexual rabbi, published today.

      Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2014/12/06/lgbt-jewish-clergy-gather-historic-retreat-san-francisco

      Meet the Republican Who Lost His Election Fighting for LGBT Rights

      Saturday, December 6th, 2014

      Michigan Rep. Frank Foster (R) speaks on the floor in the Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing.
      Michigan House of Representatives Photographer Mike Quillinan

      A young star in Michigan is spending his final days as a lawmaker working to expand the state’s civil rights protections

      Article source: http://time.com/3619470/frank-foster-lgbt-nondiscrimination-michigan/

      Enda’s pint in gay bar a sterling show of solidarity

      Saturday, December 6th, 2014

      “Wow! Enda Kenny in Pantibar. That’s a first for us.” A tweet from Pantibar’s manager Shane Harte caused disbelief on Tuesday night, but there he was, surrounded by suits a few days after the Capel Street bar celebrated its seventh birthday with a rollicking drag show.

      Fine Gael’s LGBT group Christmas party was also attended by LGBT activists, as well as former minister for health James O’Reilly, Minister for the Arts Heather Humphreys, Jerry Buttimer TD and others.

      A small crowd of regular punters were split between thinking the whole episode was bizarre and reflecting how incredible it was that the head of the Government could casually have a pint in a gay bar.

      This isn’t just any gay bar of course, but the bar under the stewardship of drag performer Panti, who was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year.

      Panti herself skipped what would no doubt have been a good photo opportunity for the Taoiseach, as she was performing her theatre show at the Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar.

      The LGBT community is still smarting from Broadcasting Authority of Ireland rulings on “balance” when it comes to discussing marriage rights for gay people on radio, as well as the Pantigate furore earlier this year.

      It journeyed from an RTÉ scandal to the Dáil and eventually became an international news story due to Panti’s speech at the Abbey Theatre, which Fintan O’Toole called “the most eloquent Irish speech since Daniel O’Connell was in his prime”.

      There’s also the question of the referendum on marriage equality scheduled to be held in 2015, but as yet without a definite date, which is causing serious impatience in the community.

      The Taoiseach’s appearance at the bar will be seen not just as a show of solidarity with LGBT members of Fine Gael, but also with the wider community ahead of the referendum, which he has committed to campaign on in favour of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.

      Recently, a drive to register voters in colleges and universities around the country yielded 20,000 new names on the register ahead of the marriage equality referendum.

      A casual pint it may have been, but an orchestrated statement nonetheless of a widening acceptance of LGBT issues in a society where LGBT people are increasingly politicised.

      While the regulars in Pantibar might have been ambivalent towards his presence, the activists in attendance were well aware of its significance.

      Article source: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/enda-s-pint-in-gay-bar-a-sterling-show-of-solidarity-1.2027840

      Op-ed: Federal Equality, Nothing More, Nothing Less

      Friday, December 5th, 2014

      The quiet power of the American system of government is its capacity to create significant, even historic, legal changes that give hope to millions. Under our Constitution, you don’t need a bloody revolt to create a better future; you don’t need a revolution to revolutionize people’s lives. In fact, all that is required is for people of good faith to come together, as representatives in government, to debate, to consider new realities present throughout American life, and finally to break from the past and choose a more hopeful path instead.
       
      That same key moment is long overdue for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. After all, LGBT people still lack fundamental, enduring and explicit federal legal protections in this country.

      Don’t be confused by the progress that we have made — and it is massive progress. While gay and lesbian couples may now have the right to marry in 35 states and counting, in many of those states same couples risk being fired, evicted, or denied service at a store simply because of who they are or who they love. There are no federal protections to safeguard LGBT Americans in public places. There are no consistent, explicit federal laws to protect LGBT Americans at work or in schools. Despite years of progress, LGBT people and their families are still deeply unequal under the law.
       
      That’s why, next year, the nation’s leading advocates for equality both inside and outside of Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike — will introduce and fight for a truly essential piece of legislation. For the first time in decades, Congress will consider a wide-ranging federal LGBT nondiscrimination protections bill.
       
      A new report by the Human Rights Campaign explains why, at this moment in history, the LGBT community has an opportunity to achieve these fundamental building blocks of equality. It is time that sexual orientation and gender identity enjoy similar treatment as religion, national origin, and race do in federal law — guaranteeing nondiscrimination protections in employment, in housing, in public accommodations, education, federal funding, and other categories.
       
      There’s nothing unusual about guaranteeing these sorts of protections. A significant number of states already have laws that do so — laws passed with bipartisan votes in many instances. At the federal level, Congress has passed legislation protecting LGBT people in the past, also with both parties standing together to do the right thing.
       
      As the next session of Congress begins, and as this critical legislation is introduced, there’s no good reason why fair-minded people on both sides of the aisle cannot come together to get this essential legislation passed. After all, our very system of government is built to empower the people of this country to achieve legal equality as a matter of basic justice. For the LGBT community, the time has come in this country for true federal equality, nothing more, nothing less. Together, we will fight for that goal, harder than we have ever fought before. And together, at long last, we will win.
       

      CHAD GRIFFIN is the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization. 

       

       

      Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/12/05/op-ed-federal-equality-nothing-more-nothing-less

      Discover Earns Top Marks on Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index

      Friday, December 5th, 2014

      RIVERWOODS, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

      Discover has once again been named as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality on the Human Rights Campaign’s Annual 2015 Corporate Equality Index. For the second year in a row, Discover earned a perfect score of 100 in the report for advancing corporate practices, policies and benefits related to LGBT employees.

      “Discover’s perfect score reinforces the value we place on our employees’ well-being and our emphasis on developing a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion,” said David Nelms, chairman and chief executive of Discover. “Supporting initiatives that provide a deeper understanding of diversity within our company not only help others learn from our differences but contribute to Discover’s overall business priorities.”

      One of Discover’s initiatives is the creation of Employee Resource Groups made up of employees with common cultural and business interests that help further the company’s goals and provide opportunities for personal and professional development. The groups are sponsored by members of the Executive Committee and guided by the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board. One of the company’s first groups, known as PRIDE, supports LGBT employees.

      “In order to achieve a perfect score, a company has to show a deep and serious commitment to treating their LGBT employees fairly and equally on the job. We also look at whether a company is speaking out in the public square to advocate for LGBT equality here in this country and around the world,” said Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign. “Discover Financial Services not only meets these standards, it goes above and beyond the call of duty, making commitment to equality a fundamental aspect of its corporate values.”

      Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) provides an in-depth analysis and rating of U.S. employers and their policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. Ratings are determined by the number of criteria that are met by each company, such as employment benefits and non-discrimination policies. Businesses that achieve a rating of 100 percent in the report are recognized as “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”

      A total of 972 businesses have been rated in the 2015 CEI. This year, 364 major businesses — spanning nearly every industry and geography — earned a top score of 100. Over the past 13 years, the CEI has become the gold standard for corporate policies and practices related to LGBT employees and their families.

      For more information about Discover’s corporate responsibility and benefits, visit www.discover.com/company/corporate-responsibility/.

      For more information on the Human Rights Campaign’s Annual 2015 Corporate Equality Index and to view the full report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

      About The Human Rights Campaign Foundation

      The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

      About Discover

      Discover Financial Services (DFS) is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company issues the Discover card, America’s cash rewards pioneer, and offers home loans, private student loans, personal loans, home equity loans, checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money market accounts through its direct banking business. It operates the Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation’s leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and territories. For more information, visit www.discover.com/company.

      Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/discover-earns-top-marks-human-153700343.html

      Alabama Will Name Its LGBT Nondiscrimination Bill for Tim Cook

      Friday, December 5th, 2014

      The upcoming effort to pass employment nondiscrimination protections for LGBT workers employed by the state of Alabama is about to get a powerful name-check honoring the state’s most prominent homegrown technology executive. 

      Democratic representative Patricia Todd, the state’s only out lawmaker, plans to introduce a bill in March that would protect LGBT state employees, including teachers, from being fired on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, reports Reuters. And she plans to name the bill after Tim Cook, an Alabama native and the current CEO of Apple, who made headlines around the world when he publicly came out as gay in October

      Although Todd told the news agency she initially suggested naming the bill after Cook in jest, she was soon contacted by an Apple official, who was concerned that Cook’s name would be attached to a “politically sensitive measure,” according to Reuters. Todd reportedly agreed to keep Cook’s name off the bill, which she plans to introduce in March. The bill faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled legislature and with Republican Robert J. Bentley serving another term as governor.

      But after BuzzFeed broke the story about an Apple representative hoping to distance Cook from the legislation, the tech company’s general counsel called Todd and told her that Cook “would be delighted to have the bill named after him,” Reuters reports. 

      “Tim was honored to hear that State Rep. Todd wanted to name an antidiscrimination bill after him, and we’re sorry if there was any miscommunication about it,” Apple said in a statement to Reuters. “We have a long history of support for LGBT rights and we hope every state will embrace workplace equality for all.”

      Just days before he came out in October, Cook spoke to lawmakers in his home state when he was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor, lambasting the state for being “too slow” when it comes to embracing civil rights progress. In that address delivered at the Alabama State Capitol, Cook urged lawmakers to “create a different future,” in which LGBT Alabamians cannot be fired for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. 

      Alabama is one of 29 U.S. states that currently offers no protection for LGBT employees who are fired, not promoted, or not hired because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Efforts to pass federal employment protections, in the form of the long-languishing Employment Non-Discrimination Act, have stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives after passing the U.S. Senate with a bipartisan majority last year.

      Article source: http://www.advocate.com/tim-cook/2014/12/04/alabama-will-name-its-lgbt-nondiscrimination-bill-tim-cook

         
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