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Trump’s tweets bring lawsuit from transgender military members

Wed, 9 Aug 2017 22:46:19 UT

President Trump’s tweeted ban on transgender military service hasn’t taken shape yet or gone into effect, but two gay rights groups challenged it as unconstitutional in federal court Wednesday and said it’s already harming thousands of people. The suit said Trump’s tweets have “already resulted in immediate, concrete injury ... by unsettling and destabilizing plaintiffs’ reasonable expectation of continued service.” Trump, who during his presidential campaign promised to be a “real friend” to the gay community, caught military leaders by surprise when he tweeted that the government “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” Military officials say they will not act until Trump submits a detailed policy. Since then-President Barack Obama’s administration repealed the ban on transgender service members in June 2016, surveys have estimated the number of transgender people in the 1.3 million-member military at anywhere from 1,320 to 15,000. The lawsuit said Trump’s directive violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law by discriminating against the plaintiffs “based on their sex and transgender status,” interferes with their “fundamental rights to autonomy and privacy,” and lacks any rational justification. In a separate claim, the suit contended that because the plaintiffs relied on the newly announced policy last year to identify themselves to their commanding officers, and in several cases to undergo medical treatment, the government would legally be barred from going back on its word if it tried to discharge them.




Pentagon legal team scrambles to devise transgender policy

Fri, 4 Aug 2017 20:18:04 UT

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s tweets declaring transgender people unwelcome in the armed forces have plunged the Pentagon into a legal and moral quagmire, sparking a flurry of meetings to devise a new policy that could lead to hundreds of service members being discharged. Months after officially allowing transgender troops to serve openly in the military, the department may be forced to throw out those who willingly came forward after being promised they’d be protected. Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White confirmed that talks between the White House and the Pentagon to work out the details of a new transgender policy have begun. [...] the personnel, health care and fairness issues sure to ensue may compel some soldiers, sailors and others to hide their identities and live a lie to remain in the military.



Bay Area political events: LGBT rights film, town hall

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 22:17:41 UT

Bay Area political events: LGBT rights film, town hall Political events in the Bay Area Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, will host a Resistance Fair and discussion with Indivisible Guide co-author Jeremy Haile. The event is from 10 a.m. to noon at Diablo Valley College, Commons Quad and Cafeteria, 321 Golf Club Road, Pleasant Hill. Health care march: “Our Lives on the Line,” a nationwide protest against Republican health care plans. In Walnut Creek, a rally will begin at 1 p.m. with a short march at 2:30 p.m. Participants to meet at the corner of Mount Diablo Boulevard and Main Street. Participants will call representatives to defend the Affordable Care Act. Indivisible: A meeting, hosted by Indivisible East Bay, focused on the 2018 elections and local politics, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Oakland Main Library Auditorium, 125 14th St. For information: https://indivisibleeb.org/upcoming-events LGBT rights film: A free screening of We Came to Sweat: The Legend of Starlite, a film about the struggles of a historic, black-owned LGBT club, at 3:30 p.m. at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St., San Francisco. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-San Jose, will host a town hall at 4 p.m. at the Sunnyvale Community Center, Orchard Pavilion, 550 E. Remington Drive, Sunnyvale. Helena, will host a town hall at 6 p.m. at the Rancho Cotate High School, 5450 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. Nuclear weapons march: A rally and march to commemorate the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to call for nonviolent action. Join the Lamorinda Democratic Club for political trivia from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mount Diablo Blvd.



Trump tweets that transgender people can’t serve in military

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 04:26:54 UT

President Trump set off a bipartisan firestorm Wednesday morning by tweeting that the government will not allow transgender people to serve in the military “in any capacity.” In a series of early morning tweets, Trump wrote, After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Once again, President Trump has shown his conduct is driven not by honor, decency, or national security, but by raw prejudice. Republicans also expressed disappointment and outrage at Trump for posting policy decisions on social media. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who also serves as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called Trump’s statement unclear and promised that the committee would conduct oversight on the issue of transgender people serving in the military. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president’s announcement is “something that the Department of Defense and the White House will have to work together on as implementation takes place.” Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) filed an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill to block Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from entering the military service. The amendment states that government funds for defense can’t be used to “implement, enforce, or observe any directive” from the president that “bars or restricts the ability of transgender persons to serve in the Armed Forces.” The order, signed by Truman on July 26, 1948, stated, “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” The RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research group, found that the costs of gender-transition related to health care treatment is “relatively low.” The total cost of medical care for transgender troops would increase health care costs by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, representing a 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in health care expenditures. Transgender reassignment surgery — which not every trans person chooses to undergo — can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to nearly $100,000, depending on how extensive it is, according to Courtney D’Allaird, founding coordinator for the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center at the University of Albany in New York. “Weren’t we just last year christening the Harvey Milk vessel in the Navy?” D’Allaird said, referring to the 2016 naming of a Navy supply vessel after the gay rights pioneer from San Francisco. Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a public policy think tank in San Francisco, said Trump’s announcement would cause discrimination and ultimately harms military readiness. In June 2016, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that transgender individuals would be able to serve in the U.S. armed forces. In June, Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s defense secretary, delayed Carter’s plan to accept transgender troops and to accommodate transgender service members’ medical needs by six months. In February, Trump rescinded federal protections that were implemented for transgender students, allowing them to use bathrooms that coincided with their gender identity. Trump’s tweeted announcement comes about a year after he pledged in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention to protect the rights of LGBTQ people.



Bay Area political events: phone bank, Indivisible meeting

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 22:04:56 UT

Bay Area political events: phone bank, Indivisible meeting Political events in the Bay Area Health care march: “Our Lives on the Line,” a nationwide protest against Republican health care plans. In Walnut Creek, a rally will begin at 1 p.m. with a short march at 2:30 p.m. Participants to meet at the corner of Mount Diablo Boulevard and Main Street. Participants will call representatives to defend the Affordable Care Act. Indivisible: A meeting, hosted by Indivisible East Bay, focused on the 2018 elections and local politics, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Oakland Main Library Auditorium, 125 14th St. For information: https://indivisibleeb.org/upcoming-events The Legend of Starlite, a film about the struggles of a historic, black-owned LGBT club, at 3:30 p.m. at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St., San Francisco. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-San Jose, will host a town hall at 4 p.m. at the Sunnyvale Community Center, Orchard Pavilion, 550 E. Remington Drive, Sunnyvale. Nuclear weapons march: A rally and march to commemorate the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to call for nonviolent action. Join the Lamorinda Democratic Club for political trivia from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mount Diablo Blvd.



Chelsea Manning slams Trump’s military ban on transgender people

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:15:21 UT

Chelsea Manning, a transgender woman who served in the U.S. military and was court-martialed under the Espionage Act, slammed President Trump on Twitter for his announcement that transgender people could not serve in the military “in any capacity.” Manning tweeted that the president’s move “sounds like cowardice” and wrote that denying health care costs to transgender troops while supporting the $400 billion F-35 fighter jet program is “further reason we should dismantle the bloated and dangerous military/intel/police state.” Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison after leaking classified government documents to Wikileaks, in one of the largest leaks in history. Sarah Ravani is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.




North Carolina lawsuit challenges revised ‘bathroom bill’

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:15:09 UT

RALEIGH, N.C. — The law that replaced North Carolina’s notorious “bathroom bill” may have a new look but maintains LGBT discrimination and prevents transgender people from using restrooms matching their gender identity, according to a lawsuit Friday. The state took the “bathroom bill” off the books in late March after a yearlong backlash that hurt North Carolina’s reputation and caused businesses and sports leagues to back out of lucrative events and projects. The compromise earlier this year between Republican legislative leaders and Democrats led by Gov. Roy Cooper eliminated the “bathroom bill” requirement that transgender people use restrooms in many public buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates. [...] the new law makes clear that only the General Assembly — not local government or school officials — can make rules for public restrooms from now on.



Kentucky told to pay legal fees in same-sex marriage case

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:13:35 UT

A federal judge has ordered Kentucky taxpayers to pay more than $220,000 in attorneys’ fees from a legal dispute that arose when an elected county clerk caused a national uproar by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2016. A U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, setting off celebrations among gay rights advocates nationwide.



Chechen leader dismisses claims of gay persecution

Sat, 15 Jul 2017 22:03:56 UT

MOSCOW — Chechnya’s strongman leader has harshly denounced claims that his southern Russian republic has tortured and even killed gay men, denying that there even are any homosexual men in his region. Kremlin-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has faced wide international criticism since a Russian newspaper reported this spring that his security forces had detained about 100 gay men, torturing or killing some of them. Kadyrov’s security forces have been accused of extensive human rights abuses including abductions and killings in Chechnya. A former officer of his security forces has been convicted of the 2015 assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.



Gay rights group launches $26 million campaign ahead of midterms

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 23:46:36 UT

WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s leading gay rights groups, is launching a $26 million political organizing effort ahead of next year’s midterm elections. Despite Trump’s sluggish approval ratings, Democrats have failed to pull out victories in several special elections this year, and the party faces a difficult electoral map in 2018, with many competitive Senate races in Republican-leaning states. The measure required transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in many public buildings, but was rolled back as part of a compromise plan signed by Cooper after he took office. Since Trump got elected, donations to the group are flooding in (most donations are under $10), LGBT people are stepping out alongside other progressive groups to protest and, for the first time, there will be a dedicated effort to keep this community politically activated.



Man wins lawsuit in China over forced gay conversion therapy

Tue, 4 Jul 2017 22:26:13 UT

BEIJING — A gay man in central China has successfully sued a mental hospital over forced conversion therapy, in what activists are hailing as the first such victory in a country where the LGBT rights movement is gradually emerging from the fringes. A court in Zhumadian in Henan province ordered a city mental hospital to publish a public apology in local newspapers and pay the 38-year-old man $735 in compensation, according to a copy of the June 26 judgment. Gay rights activists say the case marks the first victory against a public mental institution for compulsory therapy against a patient’s will. While few Chinese have religious objections to homosexuality and homophobic violence is rare, the country’s authoritarian politics and conservative society’s preference for marriage and childbearing create subtle barriers that keep most gays in the closet. Vibrant gay scenes do exist in a few large cities including Shanghai, which has an annual gay pride parade, and depictions of same-sex relationships are increasingly seen in Chinese films and television.



Bay Area political events: LGBTQ forum, impeachment march

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 20:56:40 UT

Bay Area political events: LGBTQ forum, impeachment march Political events LGBTQ forum: A presentation and discussion on how to respond to potential homophobic policies presented by the Trump administration. The forum is hosted by the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Storytelling and discussion featuring five children’s books that highlight immigrant stories. The event is from 4 to 6 p.m. at Revolution Books, 2444 Durant Ave. in Berkeley. The East Bay and San Francisco branches of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom present historian, author and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz to discuss the history of wars and gun violence and possible solutions. Environmental action: A conversation with the Sierra Club’s executive director and local environmental justice groups on what people can do to take action against President Trump's environmental agenda. Health care film: A free screening of Now Is the Time: Healthcare for Everybody and discussion on single-payer health care. The event is at 7 p.m. at Or Shalom Jewish Community, 625 Brotherhood Way in San Francisco.



Serbia elects 1st female and 1st openly gay premier

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 20:08:28 UT

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbian lawmakers elected Ana Brnabic as prime minister on Thursday, making history by choosing both the conservative Balkan nation’s first female prime minister and its first openly gay leader. Vucic’s move was widely seen as an attempt to calm Western concerns that Serbia is getting too close to Russia, including having enhanced military cooperation and ties, despite its proclaimed goal of joining the European Union. Brnabic, a business marketing expert who previously served in Vucic’s government as the local administration minister, has no party affiliation and has a record of working in the non-government sector, including with USAID. During the two-day parliamentary debate, nationalist lawmakers accused Brnabic of being installed under Western pressure. Do you think the Serbian state is so ridiculous that no security services would react?



Supreme Court to decide clash of religious faith, gay rights

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 19:35:36 UT

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court justices agreed Monday to hear an appeal from the owner of a Colorado bakery who refused to create and design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The case pits conservative Christian beliefs against gay rights, and the court will decide whether some business owners may cite their religious views as a reason for refusing to serve same-sex couples. No federal law requires businesses to serve all customers without regard to their sexual orientation, but 21 states have “public accommodations” laws that prohibit such discrimination against gays and lesbians. Jack Phillips, the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., was charged with violating the state’s antidiscrimination law, which says businesses open to the public may not deny service to customers based on their race, religion, sex or sexual orientation. The state commission held that his refusal to make the wedding cake amounted to discriminatory conduct, and state courts upheld the decision.



Poll finds rising support of same-sex marriages

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 18:20:52 UT

According to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, there are now more than 547,000 same-sex married couples in the U.S., including at least 157,000 couples who married in the past two years. The survey found that overall, 62 percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage, the highest level in 20 years of Pew polling on the issue.