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Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down city’s LGBT protections

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 23:45:01 UT

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a city’s ordinance banning discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, but it stopped short of saying whether a state law aimed at prohibiting such local LGBT protections is constitutional. Fayetteville, a liberal enclave in northwestern Arkansas, is one of several cities that approved local protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in response to the 2015 law. In the unanimous ruling, the justices rejected the argument that Fayetteville and other cities with such ordinances have made, that such protections are covered elsewhere in state law.



Trump administration to lift transgender bathroom guidance

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 22:55:32 UT

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is revoking U.S. transgender guidelines, stepping into an emotional national issue and stripping students of federal protections to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching gender identities that differ from their birth certificates. The administration is coming down on the side of states’ rights, revoking federal guidelines that had been issued by the Obama administration. Without the Obama directive, it will be up to states and school districts to interpret federal antidiscrimination law and determine whether students should have access to restrooms in accordance with their expressed gender identity and not just their biological sex. Conservative activists hailed the change, saying the Obama directives were illegal and violated the rights of fixed-gender students, especially girls who did not feel safe changing clothes or using restrooms next to anatomical males.



Trump administration poised to change transgender student bathroom guidelines

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 03:03:50 UT

The Trump administration plans to roll back protections for transgender students and is preparing changes to federal guidance that required the nation’s public schools to allow students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identities. “I think that all you have to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time, that this is not something that the federal government should be involved in, this is a states’ rights issue,” spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters at a daily media briefing Tuesday. The decision would not have an immediate impact on the nation’s public school students because a federal judge had already put a hold on the Obama-era directive issued in May. A lower court ruled in favor of Grimm based on the Obama administration’s position on transgender student bathroom use. Transgender advocates say that allowing people with gender dysphoria to use their preferred restroom is essential for their health and psychological well-being.



Same-sex marriage found to cut teen suicide risk

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 23:22:50 UT

CHICAGO — Teen suicide attempts in the U.S. declined after same-sex marriage became legal, and the biggest impact was among gay, lesbian and bisexual kids, a study found. Suicidal behavior is much more common among gay, lesbian and bisexual kids and adults; about 29 percent of these teens in the study reported attempting suicide, compared with just 6 percent of straight teens. Laws that have the greatest impact on gay adults may make gay kids feel “more hopeful for the future,” said lead author Julia Raifman, a researcher at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.



Lesbians, gays, bisexuals more likely to be imprisoned, assaulted

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 23:14:19 UT

The possible reasons for the high rate of imprisonment include stress resulting from rejection by their families, use of illegal drugs, and stigma that makes it harder for lesbians, gays and bisexuals to gain social acceptance, said the report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. Citing government data from 2011-12, the most recent figures available, the institute said self-described lesbian or bisexual women, who totaled 3.4 percent of the adult U.S. population, accounted for 33.3 percent of the women in state and federal prisons and 26.4 percent of the women in local jails. In other findings, the report said that lesbians and gay men were more likely than other inmates to be placed in solitary confinement, and that lesbians in prison and gay men in both prisons and jails were more likely than others to be suffering from mental health problems. Lesbians and gays were also more likely to have had consensual sex with other inmates, resulting in punishment that included loss of access to prison programs, reductions in family visits and lesser prospects of parole, the report said. The lead researcher, Ilan Meyer, said he hopes the study, the first of its kind, “raises awareness of the heightened risk that sexual minority populations face for sexual victimization, isolation, disproportionate punishment and distress.”



Trump lawyers signal new policies on transgender students

Sat, 11 Feb 2017 23:17:26 UT

The Trump administration has signaled that it is changing course on the previous administration’s efforts to expand transgender rights, submitting a legal brief withdrawing the government’s objections to an injunction that had blocked guidance requiring that transgender students be allowed to use restrooms that match their gender identity. [...] how the administration decides to proceed on the particular issue of transgender students and restroom use would affect several other cases in which students are challenging their school districts’ policies, including one involving Virginia student Gavin Grimm, which is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court this spring. The brief, filed in the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, came as part of a long-running suit by 12 states opposed to Education Department guidance issued last year directing the nation’s public schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom of their choice. The Obama administration took the position that barring the students from restrooms that matched their gender identity was a violation of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in public schools.




Judge William Norris, whose ruling paved way for gay rights, dies

Wed, 1 Feb 2017 23:25:20 UT

William Norris, a retired federal appeals court judge whose 1988 ruling on gays in the military was a milestone on the path to equal rights for gays and lesbians, has died at age 89. A soft-spoken man with sometimes-fiery judicial opinions, Mr. Norris was appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter and became a prominent member of the appeals court’s newly liberal majority. Writing just two years after the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld state laws making gay sex a crime, Mr. Norris said the armed forces’ ban on gays and lesbians was just as unconstitutional as laws that discriminated on the basis of race. “Homosexuals have been the frequent victims of violence and have been excluded from jobs, schools, housing, churches, and even families,” he said. Citing Watkins’ exemplary military record, and observing that “sexual orientation plainly has no relevance to a person’s ability to perform or contribute to society,” Mr. Norris said the constitutional guarantee of equal protection “does not permit notions of majoritarian morality to serve as compelling justification” for such discriminatory laws. After Congress passed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they did not disclose their sexual orientation, Mr. Norris spoke up at a 1997 dinner, where he was receiving a gay-rights award, and called on President Bill Clinton to renounce the new law “because it is wrong, it is evil — as you surely know in your heart.” [...] Mr. Norris’ 1988 ruling, the first of its kind by a federal appeals court, paved the way for legal and political decisions in subsequent decades striking down other laws based on sexual orientation, culminating in the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. “For decades, we and others have cited his opinion to show that courts should subject antigay discrimination to heightened scrutiny,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco.



Britain pardons thousands convicted under past antigay laws

Tue, 31 Jan 2017 21:02:49 UT

Announcing the new law, the Ministry of Justice said the pardons apply automatically to deceased men who were convicted for consensual same-sex relations before homosexuality was decriminalized several decades ago. Turing, a computer science pioneer, helped crack Nazi Germany’s secret codes by creating the “Turing bombe,” a forerunner of modern computers. After the war, Turing was prosecuted for having sex with a man, stripped of his security clearance and forcibly treated with female hormones. In its announcement, the ministry said that as well as posthumously pardoning gay and bisexual men, the law allows those still living, and who were convicted in cases of consensual sex with other men of legal age, to apply for pardons. “This will ensure that due diligence is carried out and prevent people from claiming to be cleared of offenses that are still crimes, including sex with a minor and non-consensual sexual activity,” it said.



Mid-Market project a step closer with transgender district deal

Tue, 31 Jan 2017 17:23:18 UT

The large San Francisco hotel and condominium complex proposed for 950 Market St. is set to move forward after the developer reached an agreement with a coalition of LGBTQ activists who had opposed the project. On Monday, developer Group I agreed to pay $300,000 into a fund that will be used to establish a transgender community center, to create a transgender historic and cultural district, and to support transgender-serving businesses and nonprofits in the district. In the weeks leading up to the deal, the opponents had argued that the environmental study for the 950 Market St. development failed to adequately assess the historic role the block played in the the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer history. The block was the center of what was called the “meat rack” — a district bounded by Turk, Taylor, Market and Mason streets — a busy spot for transgender hustlers from the 1950s through the early 1970s. [...] two early gay bars — the Old Crow and the Rainbow Tavern — occupied 950-964 Market St., a two-story structure also known as the Dean Building. Another building, the three-story corner structure with entrances at 974 Market St. and 67 Turk St., was home to the Silver Rail, another gay bar. On Tuesday, Supervisor Jane Kim is to introduce legislation to create the transgender historic district, the first of its kind in the United States. The historic district will be called the Compton Cafeteria Historic District, after the 1966 riot at a cafe at Turk and Taylor, which is considered the first major transgender protest in the United States.



‘Moonlight,’ ‘O.J.’ film and TV drama honored by LGBT critics

Fri, 27 Jan 2017 18:17:46 UT

Barry Jenkins’ film “Moonlight,” already nominated for a best picture Oscar, has been chosen film of the year by the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, with other awards going to Viola Davis and O.J.: The honors, known as the Dorian Awards, were announced by John Griffith, TV critic for US Weekly and president of the Los Angeles organization whose membership includes film, TV, theater and entertainment critics from across the nation. “Moonlight,” a film about three phases of a man’s life based on a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, won four other GALECA awards, including LGBTQ film of the year, best director and screenplay (Jenkins), and best actor, Oakland’s Mahershala Ali. Davis, best actress award for “Fences”; “The Handmaiden,” for foreign language film of the year; “La La Land,” for visually striking film of the year; “Christine,” unsung film of the year; “The Dressmaker,” campy film of the year. American Crime Story; “The Real O’Neals,” for unsung TV show of the year; “RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars,” for campy show of the year; “Saturday Night Live’s” Kate McKinnon, for musical performance for her rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”



Stormy start for North Carolina’s new governor

Tue, 27 Dec 2016 00:16:29 UT

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s next Democratic governor has seen a deal he helped broker to repeal the state’s law limiting LGBT protections fall apart, and several of his powers were stripped away by the state’s Republican-dominated legislature. Two December special sessions, one of which saw raucous protests against Republicans and dozens of arrests, have created further strain in a state that chose Republicans Donald Trump for president and Richard Burr for U.S. Senate but went with a Democrat for governor. Missing out on ending House Bill 2 — which also directed transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate — prompted finger-pointing between Cooper and legislative leaders. The bad blood with lawmakers could portend Cooper’s difficulties to follow through on other campaign platform planks, such as accelerating public education funding and shifting tax burdens away from the middle class.



SF Symphony cancels tour concerts in North Carolina

Tue, 13 Dec 2016 01:20:35 UT

The San Francisco Symphony has canceled two tour concerts scheduled for April 5-6 in Chapel Hill, N.C., in response to the passage of the state law that overturned protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The Symphony’s decision is one of a raft of positions taken by government, businesses and cultural bodies in protest of the act, known as HB2. In September, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to block San Francisco from entering into contracts with companies based in states, such as North Carolina, that bar civil rights protections for LGBT people. UNC-Chapel Hill policies — including protections for sexual orientation and gender identity — remain in effect, and we have never enforced HB2 on our campus. Symphony spokesman Oliver Theil said that to his knowledge, this was the first time the orchestra had canceled a tour program in protest. Because airline and hotel reservations were still being revised, he said it was too early to estimate what the cancellation would cost the orchestra.



North Carolina governor trails in re-election bid

Sun, 13 Nov 2016 00:15:07 UT

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Trump train that carried Republicans to victory all over the South may have left one car behind in North Carolina — Gov. Pat McCrory, who trails by a few thousand votes in a still too-close-to-call race that played out amid anger over the state’s transgender bathroom law. The law limiting LGBT rights appeared to have a substantial role in the election day contest between McCrory, who signed the measure and vigorously defended it against boycotts and other protests, and Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, who called for its repeal. In 2012, McCrory received 170,000 more votes than Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The measure, known as House Bill 2, requires transgender people to use restrooms in schools and government buildings that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate.



Fate of defense bill tied to fight over gay rights

Fri, 11 Nov 2016 21:56:44 UT

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans and Democrats will have to bridge a vast cultural divide over an issue that has nothing to do with bullets and bombs to complete a must-pass defense policy bill. A key sticking point in the negotiations during the upcoming lame-duck session is a House-passed provision that Senate Democrats say would undercut protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual or gender orientation. Keep it in and Democrats could mobilize to block the defense bill, which authorizes spending for military programs that range from jet fighters to a pay raise for the troops. The provision requires any U.S. government office to provide protections and exemptions “to any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution, or religious society that is a recipient of or offeror” for a federal contract. Forty Senate Democrats plus two independents wrote in a letter last month that the provision would amount to government-sponsored discrimination by permitting religiously affiliated federal contractors to refuse to interview a job candidate whose faith differs from theirs and to fire employees who marry their same-sex partners or use birth control.



Taiwan set to legalize same-sex marriage, a 1st in Asia

Thu, 10 Nov 2016 21:07:13 UT

By contrast, either partner in a legally recognized marriage could make legal, medical and educational decisions, she says. About 80 percent of Taiwanese between ages 20 and 29 support same-sex marriage, said Tseng Yen-jung, spokeswoman for the group Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy, citing local university studies. The self-ruled island also lacks many openly gay and lesbian celebrities to lead the way; the writer and television talk show host Kevin Tsai is among the few exceptions. Taiwan would join Canada, Colombia, Ireland, the United States and 16 other countries that have legalized same-sex marriage over the past 15 years, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C., group that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.