Friday, February 27, 2015
A counter to the perspective expressed in the previous post, there's the HRC case against conversion therapy:
Research shows that young people experience conversion therapy as a form of family rejection, and LGBT youth who experience family rejection face increased health risks. In one study, such youth were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, and 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs compared with peers who had not experienced such rejection. On the other hand, family acceptance has been shown to be an important protective factor that can help to prevent suicide behavior and mental health issues. Providers who engage in conversion therapy under the veneer of state license can mislead families about the risks involved, leading to negative psychological outcomes and irreparable damage to family cohesiveness. This legislation is needed to protect families from these damaging practices.
OKLAHOMA CITY — A bill guaranteeing the right of parents to seek therapy for “same-sex attraction” for their minor children cleared the Oklahoma House of Representatives Committee on Children, Youth and Family Services on Tuesday.
House Bill 1598 author Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, turned aside a question about whether such therapies might “push” young people toward self-destructive behavior.
“In our schools, in our movies, the kids are being pushed in the direction that they’re born homosexual and they can’t change,” Kern said. “This bill will allow children who are struggling with these feelings … to go and have some counseling to get both sides of the issue to find out why they’re struggling with this.”
Kern agreed that nothing currently in state law prevents parents from sending their children to such counseling, but she said HB 1598 is a “pre-emptive” measure against legislation banning so-called “conversion therapy.”
Monday, February 23, 2015
It is startling to think that in Glendale, Arizona a person can be evicted from their home or fired from their job simply because of whom they love or their gender identity. In Glendale, LGBT citizens still lack basic legal protections at work, at home and in public spaces.
The Glendale City Council started the process of protecting LGBT residents with a non-discrimination ordinance, however the process has stalled.
The momentum continues to build among Glendale residents- LGBT and allies alike. Supporters are anxious to ensure that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity not be tolerated.
Last week, HRC hosted a phone bank to encourage Glendale residents to call the Mayor and City Council to get the ordinance back on track. Conversations with residents reinforced the need to move this ordinance forward and make sure that all Glendale citizens are equally treated under the law.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
PRINCETON — Princeton University plans to switch its single-stall bathrooms to "gender-neutral" facilities to create a more inclusive environment for the campus, officials said Thursday.
Michele Minter, vice provost for institutional equity and diversity at Princeton, said the issue has been raised many times over the years, particularly among staff in the university's Office of Disability Services because neutral spaces would be more accessible to those who require assistance from caretakers.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
LINCOLN — A bill to prohibit employment discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity has advanced to the floor of the Nebraska Legislature.
Legislative Bill 586 would ban job discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender Nebraskans. The eight-member Judiciary Committee advanced the legislation Tuesday with the required minimum of five votes.
Lawmakers debated a similar proposal last year that would ban employment bias against gay, lesbian and transgender Nebraskans. Opponents killed the measure with a filibuster.
On Tuesday, committee members amended the bill to make it clear that religious corporations, associations and societies are exempt from the nondiscrimination requirements based on religious beliefs.
Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld, a member of the committee who sponsored LB 586, said he was pleased that the bill will be discussed by the full Legislature.
“There will be a robust debate, I have no doubt,” he said after an executive session of the committee.
Monday, February 9, 2015
Gay marriage has been legal in Florida for a month now, and at this point, even the state’s hardcore conservatives seem increasingly resigned to the fact that marriage equality is here to stay. Accordingly, Florida’s more bigoted legislators have decided to turn their ire toward another maligned, disfavored minority—trans people—by proposing one of the most viciously sadistic, hypocritical bills the legislature has ever considered.
The basic purpose of the bill is quite simple: to forbid trans people from using the public bathroom that matches their true gender. According to the bill’s text, any trans person who enters a “single-sex public facility” that doesn’t match their “biological sex” is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. A “single-sex public facility” includes bathrooms “maintained by an owner of public accommodations, a school, or a place of employment”—basically, any public bathroom in the entire state. Any trans person who violates the act could be sentenced to one year in prison.
Friday, February 6, 2015
California judges will no longer be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts after the state Supreme Court voted last week to eliminate an exception to a rule that bars jurists from being a part of discriminatory organizations.
The Boy Scouts of America in 2013 lifted a ban on openly gay youths but continues to bar openly gay and lesbian adults from serving as leaders in the organization.
California's judicial code of ethics bars judges from holding "membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity or sexual orientation."
And a furious reaction from a judge, here.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
From the NYT:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday on the definition of sexual intercourse in a test of a law requiring HIV-positive people to tell partners of their status.
The case arose in Key West where Gary Debaun was charged in 2011 with falsely telling a man he did not have the virus before they engaged in sex acts. Monroe County Circuit Judge Wayne Miller dismissed the case, saying state law defined "sexual intercourse" as between men and women.
The state appealed, arguing that the 1986 law Debaun violated, which requires HIV-infected people to inform their partners, was intended to cover all sex acts, both homosexual and heterosexual, even if it did not precisely define the nature of sexual intercourse.
In large part that was because the law was written in gender neutral language, the state argued.
A district appeals court overturned Miller's ruling and asked the Supreme Court to intervene.
Monday, February 2, 2015
Deep inside complex legislation to legalize phone-based car services such as Uber and Lyft sat language meant to prohibit drivers from discriminating against gay or transgender riders.
The wording, picked up from legislation proposed in states where gay rights are enshrined in state code, went unnoticed until the bill made it to the Senate floor. Once the passage was discovered, the bill was abruptly sent back to committee for what was described as a “technical” fix, stripped of that language and returned to the chamber, where it passed this week.
Neither side is happy:
The matter was handled so quietly that activists on both sides of the gay-rights issue were in the dark until after the wording had been nixed — a change that took place at a quickie meeting of the Transportation Committee on the Senate floor, with members huddled around the desk of the panel’s chairman, Stephen D. Newman (R-Lynchburg).
The episode disappointed gay-rights activists and alarmed conservatives in a state where court rulings legalized gay marriage last year but where the state constitution still bans it. The Republican-controlled legislature has continued this year to kill bills to recognize gay marriage and other gay rights in state code.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
It was close to 5 o’clock on the afternoon of Nov. 4, 2013, and Sasha Fleischman was riding the 57 bus home from school. An 18-year-old senior at a small private high school, Sasha wore a T-shirt, a black fleece jacket, a gray newsboy cap and a gauzy white skirt. For much of the long bus ride through Oakland, Calif., Sasha — who identifies as agender, neither male nor female — had been reading a paperback copy of “Anna Karenina,” but eventually the teenager drifted into sleep, skirt draped over the edge of the bus seat.
As Sasha slept, three teenage boys laughed and joked nearby. Then one surreptitiously flicked a lighter. The skirt went up in a ball of flame. Sasha leapt up, screaming, “I’m on fire!” Two other passengers threw Sasha to the ground and extinguished the flames, but Sasha’s legs were left charred and peeling. Taken by ambulance to a San Francisco burn unit, Sasha would spend the next three and a half weeks undergoing multiple operations to treat the second- and third-degree burns that ran from thigh to calf.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
After years of behind-the-scenes meetings between LGBT advocates and top Mormon leaders, church officials Tuesday announced for the first time general support for legislation to protect LGBT people in areas such as housing and employment – as long as accommodations are made to protect the freedom of religious people who oppose such measures.
“We must all learn to live with others who do not share the same beliefs or values,” read a statement released at a midday Salt Lake City news conference.
Church officials emphasized that there has been no change of the doctrine. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches that it goes against the law of God to have sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman.
LGBT advocates had mixed reactions to the announcement, which mirrors a national discussion about how to balance civil rights of gays and lesbians with the religious freedom of conservatives of different faiths who oppose gay equality, among other liberalizing moves.
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- The governor is calling for an amendment to the state's civil rights law to protect transgender New Yorkers from discrimination in housing, employment, credit, education and public accommodations.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says in his state of the state speech Wednesday that the Legislature should pass a bill to add "gender identity or expression" as a protected class.
Previous amendments have expanded the 1945 law that banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed and national origin.
And some commentary from the Human Rights Campaign.
Friday, January 23, 2015
Duke University recently became the first Common Application school to explicitly ask about students’ sexual orientation and gender identity.
The optional LGBTQ-inclusive essay question, which has a 250-word maximum, is intended to promote diversity and show Class of 2019 applicants that Duke is a welcoming community for all students, Christoph Guttentag, the university’s dean of undergraduate admissions, wrote in an e-mail.
Monday, January 19, 2015
A recent student Note in the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly examines the status of intersex prisoners. It's available here and the abstract reads:
Miki Ann DiMarco spent 438 days in the most restrictive and isolated housing pod at Wyoming Department of Corrections due to the fact that she was “classified as an individual of ambiguous
Even though DiMarco identified herself as female since puberty, she was segregated from the general prison population because of her gender ambiguity. Biologically speaking, she “has a
nearly complete set of male reproductive organs however [sic] does not have testicles . . . [or] female reproductive organs.”
People who are intersex, such as DiMarco, “fail to fit neatly into the traditional male/female binary construct.” DiMarco’s case demonstrates the difficulty in determining appropriate housing arrangements in the prison system for people whose bodies do not conform to the
traditional male/female dichotomy.
This Note seeks to examine the problems that arise due to the insistence upon a binary society with regards to sex. First, this Note sheds light on sex as a spectrum, rather than the classic male/female dichotomy—particularly focusing on the different conditions of intersex people. Next, this Note discusses the ways in which prison authorities house and treat intersex prisoners. The potential constitutional violations of these housing classifications is analyzed with special emphasis on the DiMarco case.
Friday, January 9, 2015
According to the BBC:
Russia has listed transsexual and transgender people among those who will no longer qualify for driving licences.
Fetishism, exhibitionism and voyeurism are also included as "mental disorders" now barring people from driving.
The government says it is tightening medical controls for drivers because Russia has too many road accidents.
"Pathological" gambling and compulsive stealing are also on the list. Russian psychiatrists and human rights lawyers have condemned the move.
The announcement follows international complaints about Russian harassment of gay-rights activists.
In 2013 Russia made "promoting non-traditional lifestyles" illegal.
Valery Evtushenko at the Russian Psychiatric Association voiced concern about the driving restrictions, speaking to the BBC Russian Service. He said some people would avoid seeking psychiatric help, fearing a driving ban.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
From my neck of the woods in Broward County, Florida:
“Do you take each other to be your spouse for life?” asked Howard C. Forman, the Broward County clerk of courts, slightly stressing the word spouse. Together, the couples uttered their individual vows to one another. “I pronounce you legally married,” Mr. Forman said.
With that, the couples, their families and friends roared, cheered and clapped, and Frank Sinatra’s “Love” blasted into the room. For Anthony Butera, 44, and Abdel Magid, 45, there was no doubt that marrying as soon as possible in their home state was a must-do. A couple for 12 years, the two donned wedding finery — Mr. Butera wore a cream tuxedo jacket with a black handkerchief and Mr. Magid a black tuxedo jacket with a white boutonniere — and infectious smiles.
And the legal background:
With arms interlocked, about 20 gay and lesbian couples, too eager to wait any longer, were married in a five-minute ceremony at 3 a.m. on Tuesday at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale as Florida marked a long, arduous journey to become the 36th state to legalize same sex marriage.
Now the nation’s third-largest state, Florida joined the list allowing same-sex unions just six years ago after the state, led by Republican lawmakers, voted to approve a constitutional ban on gay marriage, which garnered 62 percent of the vote.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Two interesting recent articles from the NYT. One is about the status of LGBT folk in Cuba. An excerpt:
Mariela Castro, the daughter of the current president, Raúl Castro, has led the charge on legislative and societal changes [for LGBT rights] that have given rise to an increasingly visible and empowered community. In the process, she has carved out a rare space for civil society in an authoritarian country where grass-roots movements rarely succeed. Some Western diplomats in Havana have seen the progress on gay rights as a potential blueprint for expansion of other personal freedoms in one of the most oppressed societies on earth.
“It’s fine to criticize, but you also have to acknowledge that they’ve done good,” said John Petter Opdahl, Norway’s ambassador to Cuba, in a recent interview. Mr. Opdahl, who is gay, said his government gave Ms. Castro’s organization $230,000 over the last two years. “She has taken off a lot of the stigma for most people in the country, and she has made life so much better for so many gay people, not only in Havana but in the provinces.”
Another article revisits the Stanford undergraudates from the class of 1994.
Friday, December 26, 2014
Ireland recently published a draft of a legislative bill that would protect transgender folk from discrimination. Here's a quick summary of it:
The Irish government has finally published a long-awaited bill which will recognise the gender of trans people.
At present, Irish law has no process for recognising that transgender people do not identify as their birth gender.
The bill, which was first announced in June, will bring Irish law in line with that of other countries, by legally recognising the gender of trans people in all dealings with the State, public bodies, and civil and commercial society.
And here's a critique of the bill from Amnesty International:
“This is a missed opportunity to enshrine the rights of all transgender people in Irish law. This bill will require substantial changes if it is to tackle the serious issue of discrimination against transgender people,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Acting Europe and Central Asia Director.
“Rather than making it as easy as possible for all transgender people to obtain legal recognition of their identity, there are several groups that will be short-changed by the bill – in particular those who are married or in civil partnerships, minors, and those who do not wish to undergo medical treatment.”
Sunday, December 21, 2014
From my neck of the woods here, the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel has an article on the state's present ban against gay marriage--and what the U.S. Supreme Court has done about it:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday night refused to step into Florida's fight over same-sex marriage. Gay and lesbian couples in Florida will be able to marry starting Jan. 6, and the state no longer has any way to prevent it.
A federal judge overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban Aug. 21, but the ruling does not go into effect until the end of the day Jan. 5. "It's a huge relief. We're ecstatic. This is an amazing day for Florida families," said Daniel Tilley, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who is representing gay couples in the federal case
Monday, December 8, 2014
In one short paragraph of a 34-page memo released on Dec. 1, the Department of Education articulated a clear stance on gender identity, saying transgender students in public schools should be enrolled in single-sex classes that align with how they live their lives day-to-day.
“We’re thrilled,” says Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “It’s so critical to the health and well-being of those students, and it’s going to be so helpful to have that guidance in writing so that schools understand what their obligations are.”
The memo is explicit that federal law protects students’ decisions made in accordance with their gender identity. “Under Title IX,” it reads, a school “must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes