Monday, October 27, 2014
The story, and the excerpt:
RALEIGH, N.C. — An exclusive WRAL News poll shows North Carolinians are evenly divided about whether legislative leaders should fight to keep the state’s same-sex marriage ban in place, despite court rulings that have found it unconstitutional.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
There are sundry differences between the two. One stands out: Sheldon supports the right of gay couples to marry; Bondi opposes their right--vigorously. Here is an excerpt from her defense:
Arguing against a lawsuit that says Florida discriminates by not recognizing gay marriages from other states, Attorney General Pam Bondi's office wrote: … disrupting Florida's existing marriage laws would impose significant public harm.
Which sure sounds like: Changing the law to allow gay marriage would hurt Florida.
And this eyebrow-raising passage: Florida's marriage laws … have a close, direct and rational relationship to society's legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units.
The essay is dated by cyberspace standards but it contained a story that was news to me. In the New Yorker magazine was an arresting essay about the conflict that exists between two seeming bed fellows: Radical Feminism and Transgenderism.
In a piece in this week’s magazine entitled “What Is a Woman?,” Michelle Goldberg writes about an ideological dispute between two groups that might seem like natural allies: radical feminists and transgender people. It’s a conflict that dates back to the height of radical feminism, in the nineteen-seventies, and it hinges upon the two groups’ differing beliefs about who has the right to identify as a woman. On Out Loud, Goldberg joins Sasha Weiss, the literary editor of newyorker.com, and the New Yorker staff writer Margaret Talbot, to discuss the history of transgender-feminist tensions, how the language surrounding transgender issues is evolving, and the difficulty many people still have in accepting the idea of gender fluidity. Goldberg says that reconceptualizing how we think about who is a man and who is a woman is, “in some ways, a deeper challenge to people’s sense of the way the world works than, say, gay rights or gay marriage.”
Friday, October 17, 2014
Like every other matriculating student at Wellesley, which is just west of Boston, Timothy Boatwright was raised a girl and checked “female” when he applied. Though he had told his high-school friends that he was transgender, he did not reveal that on his application, in part because his mother helped him with it, and he didn’t want her to know. Besides, he told me, “it seemed awkward to write an application essay for a women’s college on why you were not a woman.” Like many trans students, he chose a women’s college because it seemed safer physically and psychologically.
Last spring, as a sophomore, Timothy decided to run for a seat on the student-government cabinet, the highest position that an openly trans student had ever sought at Wellesley. The post he sought was multicultural affairs coordinator, or “MAC,” responsible for promoting “a culture of diversity” among students and staff and faculty members. Along with Timothy, three women of color indicated their intent to run for the seat. But when they dropped out for various unrelated reasons before the race really began, he was alone on the ballot. An anonymous lobbying effort began on Facebook, pushing students to vote “abstain.” Enough “abstains” would deny Timothy the minimum number of votes Wellesley required, forcing a new election for the seat and providing an opportunity for other candidates to come forward. The “Campaign to Abstain” argument was simple: Of all the people at a multiethnic women’s college who could hold the school’s “diversity” seat, the least fitting one was a white man.
Friday, October 10, 2014
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Several miles north of where I live, there is Sarasota, Florida. The city council there has taken steps recently to protect transgender folk from discrimination:
SARASOTA - City commissioners voted unanimously Monday to pursue including transgender people in a list of protected classes in the city's anti-discrimination code.
A final vote will be pushed to a later date, when city staff will present an updated ordinance that makes it clear that discrimination on the basis of gender also includes gender identity and expression, said city attorney Bob Fournier.
“It's wonderful that we are at this point right now,” Commissioner Susan Atwell said before the 5-0 vote. “This inclusion for gender identity and expression gives full value and true representation to all citizens in our community.”
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
In one leap, Denmark has changed its law on trans rights, taking it from a country where transgender people were forced to undergo sterilisation in order to be legally recognised as a different gender, to one of the most progressive countries on the issue in the world.
Unlike in most of the countries that allow new gender recognition, trans people in Denmark now do not even need a medical expert statement, but can simply self-determine. There are still restrictions – the minimum age is 18, and there is a six-month waiting period before the person has to reconfirm their wish to have their gender legally changed – but the law seems to be moving in the right direction.
But Denmark's new law – which came into force on Monday – raises questions for the other European countries where forced sterilisation – either as a result of hormone treatment or surgery – is still the only route for someone transitioning to gain legal status. This requirement ignores the fact that many trans people don't want to undergo a major operation, or to irretrievably lose their fertility as a result of it, as part of their transition.
From the Jurist:
Advocates and opponents of same-sex marriage are breathlessly waiting for news from the Supreme Court that a marriage equality case will be heard this term. The expectation of an imminent nationwide ruling comes after scores of lower courts have declared bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, relying heavily on the Supreme Court's reasoning in its landmark 2013 decision, United States v. Windsor. To date only one federal ruling has broken the consensus: the September 2014 decision by Judge Martin Feldman upholding Louisiana's ban.
At this juncture, it is worth asking why Windsor, which declared a section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, has made the legal landscape so lopsided toward marriage equality. Appreciating the answer requires us to put to rest the idea that Windsor is actually a federalism decision supporting a state's right to define marriage however it wishes. As I will argue, the near unanimity among recent lower court decisions is not a product of judicial activists licking their chops at the opportunity to impose their political ideology on the nation, but rather a logical consequence of Windsor itself.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Near my neck of the woods, and from the Miami Herald:
Gay-rights activists prepared for a political skirmish Tuesday at Miami-Dade County Hall. They wore matching T-shirts, arrived early and filled several rows of the commission chambers in support of legislation expanding protections to transgender people.
But no one — in the audience or on the dais — showed up in opposition.
Commissioners gave unanimous — though preliminary — approval toamending the Miami-Dade’s human-rights ordinance to ban discrimination on the base of “gender identity” and “gender expression.” The law applies to public places and government services, as well as to employment and housing in the county as a whole.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
In the NYT. An exceprt:
I was engulfed in an irrepressible rage. Everything in me was churning and pumping and boiling. All reason and restraint were lost to it. I was about to do something I wouldn’t be able to undo. Bullets and blood and death. I gave myself over to the idea.
The scene from the night when I was 7 years old kept replaying in my mind: waking up to him pushed up behind me, his arms locked around me, my underwear down around my thighs. The weight of the guilt and grieving that followed. The years of the bullying designed to keep me from telling — and the years of questioning my role in his betrayal.
I jumped in the car, grabbed the gun from under the car seat. It was a .22 with a long black barrel and a wooden grip, the gun my mother had insisted I take with me to college, “just in case.”
Friday, September 19, 2014
Many people have called last week's brutal attack on two gay men in Center City a hate crime, but it can't be prosecuted as one under Pennsylvania law.
That gap in Pennsylvania's ethnic intimidation statute -- the law used to prosecute hate crimes -- has prompted calls for changes to the law and a federal hate-crime investigation.
Pennsylvania law defines ethnic-intimidation offenses as crimes motivated by "malicious intention toward the race, color, religion or national origin" of a person or group.
That means attacks based on sexual orientation aren't considered hate crimes.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
From my neck of the woods, near Ft. Lauderdale, the Sun Sentinel reports:
Broward County's tourism bureau has been marketing to the LGBT community since 1996, but results of a survey released Monday show extra effort is needed to attract more transgender travelers.
In August, some 700 members of the transgender community across 48 states participated in the online survey conducted by Community Marketing & Insights, a San Francisco-based specialty marketing and research firm.
Only 10 percent of participants perceived Fort Lauderdale to be very trans-friendly, the study revealed.
Friday, September 12, 2014
David Cruz at USC Law has uploaded "Baker v. Nelson: Flotsam in the Tidal Wave of Windsor's Wake" on SSRN. The abstract reads:
Part I of this Article sketches the virtually unbroken string of pro-marriage decisions in the lower federal and state courts since the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor (2013) to give a sense of the size and magnitude of this “tidal wave” of precedent. Next, Part II briefly explores some of the reasons that might help account for the flood of litigation and overwhelmingly positive outcomes. Part III tentatively suggests one way this flow of decisions in favor of marriage equality might influence the Supreme Court when it returns to the issue. It then at some length shows one particular aspect of Windsor’s wake: the way it has helped lower federal courts unanimously and properly conclude that doctrinal developments after the Supreme Court summarily rejected a same-sex couple’s constitutional claims to a right to marry in Baker v. Nelson (1972) have rendered that decision no longer dispositive. Although Baker would in no event prevent the Supreme Court itself from revisiting the constitutional issues, the ability to declare Baker doctrinally undermined has positive repercussions for the social equality and lived reality of same-sex couples across the country in the mean time. Finally, Part IV of the Article addresses some of the ways in which United States v. Windsor itself developed constitutional doctrine in ways that advance the cause of constitutional justice and same-sex couples’ rights to equal protection and to marry.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
For nine years, Barbara Webb, 33, taught honors chemistry and coached sports at Marian High School, a private Roman Catholic girls’ school in Bloomfield Hills, a Detroit suburb.
When she told her employer she was pregnant, she says she was given two options: resign or be fired.
Because she got pregnant “outside the Catholic way,” as she put it in a Facebook post in late August announcing her pregnancy with Kristen Lasecki, her partner of more than five years. In same post, she announced the news of her dismissal.
In August, the school offered to pay for her healthcare through May if she left quietly, Webb said. She refused. Not just because the offer was insulting to her, but she felt it sent the wrong message to her students.
“It is part of Marian’s mission to educate women about human diversity and in this have really missed out on a true life opportunity to set an example. Instead they are only perpetuating hate,” she wrote. She added: “It is a shame because Marian is an amazing school with a wonderful staff and a very promising student body. I feel horrible for the students that I was forced to leave behind and wish them only the best.”
The president of the school, Sister Lenore Pochelski, confirmed to the Detroit Free Press that Webb was no longer at the school as of Aug. 19, but refused to comment further.
Friday, September 5, 2014
(a cathedral in Copenhagen)
Even in countries that are nominally supportive of transgender people, sterilization—whether by surgery or hormones—is often the price a trans individual must pay in order to receive legal recognition of his or her transition. It’s a paradigm that theWorld Health Organization has called "counter to respect for bodily integrity, self-determination and human dignity," and it’s one that doesn’t acknowledge the fact that for many trans people, transition is not necessarily tied to invasive physical changes.
Earlier this week, Denmark moved beyond this inhumane legal logic when its new gender recognition law came into effect. Under the new policy, trans people in the country are now only required to fill out some paperwork in order to receive a new social security number and accompanying personal documentation for their gender. Medical intervention, including surgery, psychological diagnosis, and official statements, are no longer necessary prerequisites—in Denmark, gender identification is now based solely on self-determination.
KINGSTON, JAMAICA - Young Jamaican gay rights activist who brought a legal challenged to the Caribbean island's anti-sodomy law has withdrawn the claim after multiple threats and violent backlashes, advocacy groups and colleagues said Aug. 29.
Javed Jaghai made headlines in 2013 after he initiated a constitutional court challenge to Jamaica's 1864 law that bans sex between men. Jaghai argues the law fuels homophobia and violates the 2011 adopted Human Rights Charter that guarantees people the right to privacy. However, Jaghai is withdrawing his challenge due to threats of violence.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
City Council today (Thursday, Aug. 28) could make Austin the first city in Texas to pass a resolution (Item 84) requiring single-stall public restrooms to be gender-neutral. Sponsored by Council Member Chris Rileyand co-sponsored by Bill Spelman and Sheryl Cole, the draft resolution directs the city manager to "process any necessary code amendments to require gender-neutral signage for single-occupancy restrooms, to create an implementation plan, and to report back to Council by September 25."
The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT civil rights organization, has led the call for gender-neutral restroom requirements across the country. Members of the transgender community may face harassment and even violence when using gender-segregated restrooms, when suspicious onlookers decide they've entered the "wrong" restroom. According to a statement from Riley's office, "Austin has demonstrated leadership on LGBTQ issues, and gender-free restrooms are one more way that we can lead. This change will make our city safer and more inclusive, which is better for all Austinites."
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
From the Catholic Online:
In a culture where freedom has been redefined as a right to choose anything and liberty has degenerated into license, the newspeak of the age has declared the instrumental use of the body of another to be sexual freedom. It is not freedom. It turns people into objects of use and degrades the dignity of human sexuality.
Sadly, the same spirit of the age fails to recognize the integral unity of the human person, body, soul and spirit, and has turned the human body into a machine with parts which the revolutionaries think can simply be interchanged. Removal of genitals and attachment of artificially constructed ones which are absolutely incapable of ovulation or conception, does not change the structure of reality. The removal constitutes mutilation and the construction of artificial organs with no reproductive function does not alter the gender or sex of the person.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
A whole lot of judges who are being asked to decide whether states may ban same-sex couples from marrying think the Supreme Court clearly gave them the answer last year: no.
But a few judges think the Supreme Court provided the answer more than 40 years ago: yes.
That reading comes from a one-sentence order the court issued in a 1972 case, Baker v. Nelson, which said there was no “substantial federal question” in a state’s decision to ban same-sex marriages.
The dismissal of that long-ago case might be the reason that same-sex marriage supporters see their winning streak in federal courts come to an end.