Showing posts with label Gay Discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Discrimination. Show all posts

December 9, 2016

European Commission Ignores Discrimination Against LGBT in Lithuania




 In Lithuania it takes courage to put the rainbow out your window but in a place where they have seen both nazi and  Russia’s domination, courage is never lacking




A group of MEPs has accused the European Commission of ignoring clear discrimination against gay people in Lithuania.
The commission told Lithuanian activists last month that it would take no action over a 2013 law that claims to protect children from propaganda, but has been used to ban all kinds of material and crack down on LGBT groups. 
The response angered a group of MEPs, who wrote to commissioners Guenther Oettinger and Frans Timmermans, in charge of audiovisual policy and fundamental rights respectively, to deplore that they shied away from acting on "a clear case of discrimination". 
"This truly is a shockingly passive response and provides a carte blanche for continued homophobic legislation in our member states," six MEPs from five political groups wrote on Monday (5 December).
The case goes back to 2014, when the Lithuanian Gay League complained to the commission about a bill adopted by its national lawmakers a year earlier, roughly at the same time as a similar law in Russia. 
Formally known as the law on protection of minors against detrimental effects of public information, the legislation was quickly used to censor different sexual orientations. 
A fairytale featuring a same-sex couple was banned for promoting "harmful, primitive and purposeful propaganda of homosexuality". 
publicity video confronting stereotypes about love and family models, co-financed by the commission, was also targeted by the law.
"We were only allowed to show the video after 11pm, together with alcohol and cigarette ads," Lithuanian Gay League director Vladimir Simonko told this website. 
Earlier this year, MEPs wrote to the commission to ask why it was taking so long to respond to Simonko's complaint.
Oettinger replied in June that the commission was consulting with Lithuanian authorities. 
Then, last month, Giuseppe Abbamonte, an official at the commission's directorate for communications, content and technology (DG Connect) wrote to Simonko to say the EU executive wasn't planning to pursue infringement procedures against Lithuania. 
In the letter, seen by this website, the official argues that Lithuania hadn't breached the audiovisual media services directive, say, by limiting broadcasts from other EU countries. 
"Please be assured of the European commission's strong commitment to fight discrimination within the powers conferred to it by the treaties," the bureaucrat said. 
Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in't Veld, one of the signatories, told this website the commission was wrong to say it lacked powers. 
"They focused on compliance with a sectoral law, which wasn't designed for the protection of fundamental rights. But we also have the treaties, a charter and a convention on human rights, anti-discrimination legislation," in't Veld said.
Article 2 of the EU treaty, for instance, says the bloc is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. 
"If the commission wanted to, it could find a way," in't Veld said, adding it would be an opportunity for Oettinger to show where he stands on LGBT rights. 
The German conservative recently came under fire for having joked about gay people at a business conference. 
The Dutch liberal said parliament could table an amendment to the audiovisual directive to make sure that protection of children doesn't become a pretext to bash LGBT people - but such tailor-made amendments were just one-off solutions. 
Referring to the broader, political context - with "illiberal" governments in Hungary and Poland, but also a prolonged state of emergency in France and rising EU scepticism everywhere - in't Veld said the commission was under more pressure than ever to uphold the values the bloc was founded on. 
"If it doesn't, it's the end," Sophie in't Veld said. "The EU cannot function without its fundamental values and respect for the rule of law. That's why they are defined in article 2 in the treaty. Everything else comes afterwards.”
Simonko told EUobserver: "When Russia passed an anti-propaganda law, it was seen as bad. But a similar law in the EU is already quite okay.
"The day Lithuania joined the EU was one of the happiest days of my life. We thought it meant that we would be safe. But now the EU seems like an elite club, where it’s not appropriate to tell members off even when they are badly mannered.”

August 24, 2016

Gay Couple’s House Targeted Then Neighborhood Responds


When people have been educated of what kind of people the LGBT people are, then get to know them as neighbors, coworkers, friends and family, because they are out and proud not because they are gay necessarily but because they are human beings the same as everybody else. That allows them to live their everyday lives and everyday people will see them as part of them. When this is accomplished, any resistance to them as people and neighbors, as in this case will encounter a positive response of compassion towards them and anger towards the haters.
Adam
Lauri (left) and Cari Ryding returned from vacation and discovered their rainbow flag stolen and their house egged.
Lauri (left) and Cari Ryding returned from vacation and discovered their rainbow flag stolen and their house egged. PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF
 

Cari and Lauri Ryding always felt welcome on Strawberry Hill Road. Then they came home from vacation and discovered the rainbow flag they had hung after the Orlando massacre had been stolen and their front porch pelted with eggs.

“It really sent us reeling,” Cari said.

 But what happened next reminded the couple why they loved the neighborhood in the first place. On Sunday, a squadron of children on bicycles delivered rainbow flags to house after house.

And one by one, the flags went up, transforming a swath of suburbia – more than 40 houses in all — into a brilliantly colored declaration of pride and solidarity, displayed on picket fences, garages, doorways, and decks.

“It just happened so quickly — the whole neighborhood said, ‘Get me a flag. Get me a flag. Get me a flag,’ ” said Penni Rochwerger, who lives around the corner from the Rydings. “If we can stop whatever hate is out there, I think that’s really important.”

Lauri Ryding said that after cleaning the eggs off her porch, she walked through the streets around her home, overwhelmed by all the neighbors prominently flying the rainbow colors.

“One person’s act of fear and maliciousness created such a powerful statement of love,” she said. “We are very blessed, very fortunate.” 
Cari Ryding, 49, first moved to Strawberry Hill Road 23 years ago, and, she said, she immediately fell in love with the family-friendly feel of the place.

“I loved the diversity of the generations, and how there’s a commitment to that — of all ages, and all shapes, and sizes, and preferences,” she said. “I’ve been feeling this energy in the neighborhood for years.”

That feeling was reinforced, she said, after she separated from her husband 10 years ago, and her neighbors helped her adjust to life as a single parent, bringing her dinners if she was sick or watching two of her children if she had to take the third to the doctor.

And the bond deepened even further, she said, when neighbors who had met her husband welcomed her wife, Lauri, 52.

“When I moved in four and a half years ago, I was embraced,” Lauri said. “Our relationship was embraced.”

So both women were stunned when they came home Wednesday to discover the vandalism.

“It was our first experience in Natick of having any type of prejudice,” Cari said. “We hadn’t experienced it all, and it kind of broke open our little cocoon.”

They alerted Natick police, and asked neighbors on Facebook if anyone knew what happened. No one did and still there are no suspects. But many were outraged.
  
One neighbor suggested asking for a stack of flags from the Rainbow Peace Flag Project, a local organization that gives away the flags free to Natick-area residents.

The Rydings had ordered their flag from the group about a month ago, to honor the 49 victims killed in June at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Immediately, requests flooded in, along with donations to the group.

“We said, ‘Why don’t we all have the flags? They can’t take them from all of us,’” said Dennis Gaughan, whose wife, Maura, helped organize the rainbow response.
 
Lois McGillivray, 85, who has lived on Strawberry Hill Road for 50 years, had one of the rainbow flags proudly displayed on her home on Monday.

“I have never met anyone who would do what that person did to that house,” she said. “This is a place where nobody bothers anybody, no matter how you want to live, as long as you’re not digging up the garden and throwing the dirt in my yard.” 

Neil Podolski said he wanted to fly a rainbow flag, as well, after hearing that the Rydings’ home had been vandalized.

“It’s just not right,” said Podolski, who is Jewish. “Who’s to say tomorrow we don’t find a swastika on our house?”

Cari Ryding said that she had started thinking twice about her neighborhood after her home was targeted, “and what they did completely overshadowed that fear and we are just overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity.”

As jarring as the initial crime was, Lauri Ryding said, the response has helped restore their faith in their community.

“Somebody’s fear called them to action,” she said. “But our neighbors support and love called them to action, and love conquers hate. Love wins. We win.”

 GLOBE STAFF

May 19, 2016

American Culture Wars Like LGBT and HIV Hits the UN



Image result for world un  aids
                                                                                                                                                
                                                                          










THE PHENOMENON known in American domestic affairs as the culture wars has gone well and truly global. If anyone needs proof of that, consider the row that has erupted at the United Nations in recent days over plans for a high-level meeting next month on the fight against HIV/AIDS. The United States, the European Union and Canada are appalled by the fact that 11 gay and transgender groups have been barred from the gathering under pressure from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which groups 57 mainly Muslim lands. Egypt spearheaded the OIC’s diplomatic moves.

According to agency reports, America’s UN ambassador Samantha Power (pictured) raised the matter in an indignant letter to the president of the General Assembly. She wrote:

Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, their exclusion from the high-level meeting will only impede global progress in combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic...The movement to block the participation of NGOs on spurious or hidden grounds is becoming epidemic and severely damages the credibility of the UN.
Around UN headquarters on New York’s East River, the origins of this “movement” are clear enough: it reflects a social-conservative diplomatic coalition orchestrated mainly by the OIC and Russia, with some opportunistic support from China. Last year, all those parties tried to overturn a decision by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, to recognise same-sex marriages among the world body’s staff. Feelings are running high this week because of yesterday’s International Day against Homophobia. 

This traditionalist coalition has been rallying its forces even as LGBT rights gain prominence in the diplomatic agenda of Western countries. Ms Power, a respected writer on the subject of genocide, has made the LGBT question a personal priority. She recently invited 17 of her fellow UN ambassadors, including the envoy of Russia, to watch a musical set in a small American town about a father and daughter who are both gay.

It’s striking that Vladimir Putin’s Russia, while taking a strident stance against Islam-inspired terror, has been eager to team up with Islamic governments in resisting the global movement for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage. Moscow’s foreign-policy rhetoric has raised the standard of “traditional” values and cultures which have a common interest in resisting the liberal tide. As is pointed out by Lucian Leustean, a scholar of geopolitics and religion at Britain’s Aston University, Russia’s new national-security strategy makes prominent mention of “spiritual security”, in other words the idea that Russia’s moral and metaphysical values are under global threat. This converges, at least in part, with the concept of “faith security” which has been used by the Egyptian government to justify strict government oversight of religion, clamping down on atheism and “blasphemy” as well as ultra-pious extremism.

And in Russia and Egypt alike, being an international advocate for traditional values seems perfectly consistent with dealing fairly harshly at home with forms of religion that don’t conform to officially approved norms. Forum 18, an independent religious-freedom campaign, said today in a report that it knew of 119 individuals who had been prosecuted in Russia last year for exercising freedom of religion; they ranged from Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons to followers of China’s Falun Gong movement. Most had received fines, a few found themselves briefly in custody. The total was a sharp rise on the 2014 figure of 23 prosecutions. 

ERASMUS

              LGBT Group from Jamaica Barred from Attending UN AIDS Conference

The United States and the European Union are protesting a UN decision to bar at least 20 non-governmental groups from taking part in a major AIDS conference next month.
US Ambassador Samantha Power said the NGOs taken off the list of participants "appear to have been chosen for their involvement in LGBTI, transgender or youth advocacy."
In a letter to UN General Assembly president Mogens Lykketoft, Power requested that these groups, including the US-based Global Action for Trans Equality, be allowed to take part in the June 8-10 high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS.
European Union Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida said the NGOs had been struck from the list following objections from member states and requested information on which countries opposed their presence. 
One of the European NGOs that has been barred from taking part is the Eurasian Coalition on Male Health, based in Estonia, which has been vocal on gay rights in Russia and other former Soviet republics.
Egypt requested that 11 groups be barred from attending the AIDS conference, in a request sent on behalf of 51 countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), according to a letter seen by AFP on Tuesday.
Aside from the Estonian and US gay activist groups, Egypt objected to the participation of Ishtar Men Who Have Sex With Men group from Kenya and the Asia Pacific Transgender Network from Thailand.
The list cited groups from Egypt, Guyana, Jamaica, Peru, Ukraine as well as African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, a coalition of 18 LGBT groups across Africa.
The EU ambassador wrote in his letter sent last week that changes to an initial list of delegations were made without consulting member states.
"Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, their exclusion from the high-level meeting will only impede global progress in combatting the HIV/AIDS pandemic and achieving the goal of an AIDS-free generation," Power wrote in her letter.
The high-level meeting is aimed at fast-tracking measures to end the HIV epidemic by 2030.

March 26, 2016

The Adherence to Ancient Scripts is the Mother of Most LGBT Discrimination



                                                                                                             
This early Christian Coptic papyrus includes an early reference to Jesus' wife, whose existence is never explicitly stated or denied in the New Testament. Photo: Karen L. King.




 Australians are becoming increasingly impatient with Christian opposition to same sex marriage, in large part because the arguments typically mounted against it appear so weak and unconvincing.

For example, the argument that because marriage is an ancient institution it shouldn’t be tampered with is contradicted by the fact that it has been tampered with, modified and redefined throughout all of its long history.

The argument that marriage entails the possibility of having children is weak and historically inaccurate too. The oft repeated claim that children should be brought up by their biological parents, and are significantly disadvantaged if brought up by same sex couples, isn’t supported by a growing body of empirical evidence. The idea that there are only two basic or normative genders, male and female, is similarly contraAdherence to an Acient Text is the Mother of dicted by accumulating evidence from the relevant sciences.
 
It is little wonder that Australians, and young Australians in particular, are mystified and irritated by this Christian opposition. There is, among many, a growing suspicion that the arguments used by Christians are simply a smokescreen to hide the real and underlying prejudice, which is homophobia: the primal fear of variations from the sexual norm.

There is likely to be some truth in this accusation. Opposition to same sex marriage is so strong, and so obviously visceral in its overwhelming urgency that something must be going on below the surface, surely.

But there is another, perhaps even more influential prejudice at the heart of Christian opposition to same sex marriage.

This too-often-unacknowledged prejudice is the belief that what the Bible says or implies must take precedence over every other source of knowledge. If the Bible says or implies that something is wrong, it is wrong, regardless of what anyone might say, regardless of how sensible alternative ways of looking at things might seem.
 
There are many subtly different forms of this way of thinking, which reaches all the way back into the Bible itself, but the bottom-line prejudice is this: if the Bible clearly and plainly asserts that something is true or right, it is true or right.

I call this a prejudice because it involves pre-judging, making a judgement before the facts, and often irrespective of the facts.

History is replete with examples of this prejudice and its influence. Early readers of the Bible were convinced that the clear teaching of its early chapters gave them an accurate picture of the origins and spread of human civilisation.

They were understandably disturbed by the discoveries of Copernicus, quickly described as heretical and contrary to the plain teaching of the Bible, which it is. Bible-believing Christians continue to resist scientific consensus about the age of the earth and universe. They continue to hold out against evolutionary theory, and still argue that our first ancestors were Adam and Eve, despite accumulating evidence to the contrary.

 
And the reason they do this is because of this overriding prejudice that the Bible is to be the Christian’s first and final authority, which must always take precedence over extra-Biblical sources of knowledge or understanding.

It is this prejudice which helps to explain why some Christians are so opposed to same sex-marriage. The arguments employed by them, when boiled down to their motivational core, are simply valiant efforts to make sense of what they believe to be the clear teaching of the Bible, with verses such as the following quoted in support:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them ... Leviticus 20:13.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error ... Romans 1:24-27.

It is because same sex marriage would necessarily involve sexual activity which the Bible plainly and clearly describes as abominable or abhorrent that Christians who adhere to this way of reading the Bible simply cannot say yes to same sex marriage. It is not that they are homophobic, necessarily. It is not that they are not genuinely caring and compassionate towards LGBTI Australians. Many are. However, their Bible-based, Bible-first prejudice simply won’t allow them to approve of this institutional modification.

But the problem with this prejudice, as with other prejudices, is that it can mislead and cause damage, which it certainly has in this case. Throughout the history of the church, and with ample justification from the text, Christians have taken the above verses to imply that to be gay is to be perverse; is to be corrupt and a corrupter of others.

They have insisted that homosexuality is a life-style choice, or a sickness, or a defect from which one can be healed. Most seriously, it is an affront to God which makes the gay person worthy of rejection and disdain.

Although Christians might now distance themselves from homophobic attitudes, these historic and Bible-based understandings of homosexuality have clearly contributed to homophobia, along with the terrible and inexcusable mistreatment of LGBTI people which continues to this day.

 
And it is for that reason that I, as a dissenting Christian, along with many Christians who think likewise, believe the time has come for this prejudice to be shed. We need to acknowledge that the Bible, for all of its beauty, wisdom and on-going relevance, is an ancient text, pregnant with ancient assumptions and beliefs, many of which we no longer reasonably hold.

We no longer believe in an earth-centric universe. We no longer reasonably believe in a young earth, or that the populations of the world can be traced back to two first-created humans known as Adam and Eve.

We, or most of us, have happily shed these earlier held beliefs, and therefore should also feel free to re-think the assumptions and beliefs which underlie Biblical discomfort with same sex activity.

Pushing back to understand these assumptions and beliefs will give us the wherewithal to appropriate the abiding relevance of these ancient texts, and will also put us in a place when we can fully and generously apologise for the damage and hurt we have caused to countless numbers of our LGBTI sons and daughters. May that time come quickly.

February 18, 2016

Is anti gay discrimination sex discrimination? {{Walmart law suit will rule}}


                                                                         

Is anti-gay discrimination a form of sex discrimination? Walmart Stores, the biggest private employer in the U.S., is the target of a lawsuit that might soon provide an answer to that question.
Walmart didn’t extend spousal health benefits to employees in same-sex marriages until January 2014, even in states where same-sex marriage was legal. Before then, when workers such as Jackie Cote applied for coverage for their same-sex spouses, Walmart rejected their requests, as it has maintained it had the right to do. While the Supreme Court last year ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t mention sexual orientation.

The act does provide protection on the basis of sex, and that’s a premise of the lawsuit Cote filed last summer on behalf of herself and a class of plaintiffs that lawyers now estimate to be 1,200 current and former Walmart employees. Cote, who has worked at Walmart since 1999, married Diana Smithson in Massachusetts in 2004. In 2012, Smithson, a breast cancer survivor, was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. Within two years, without Walmart insurance to cover Smithson’s treatment, the couple racked up more than $150,000 in medical bills. “I thought that they would really have no choice because I was legally married in the state of Massachusetts,” Cote says.

Seeking compensation for the benefits that were denied and out-of-pocket medical expenses, the suit alleges that Walmart’s stance was unlawful because it’s a form of sex discrimination. “The sex of her spouse is the reason for treating people differently—isn’t that discrimination based on sex?” asks attorney Gary Buseck, legal director for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, one of the advocacy groups representing Cote.

“The sex of her spouse is the reason for treating people differently—isn’t that discrimination based on sex?”

The case, among a recent wave of lawsuits over the past several years to grapple with this question, is headed to mediation on Feb. 22; if a settlement isn’t reached, it’s scheduled for trial in federal court in Massachusetts in November. Legal experts, civil rights advocates specializing in anti-gay and gender-identity bias, and employment lawyers who defend large companies say whatever the outcome, the case against Walmart could help set a precedent by expanding the definition of sex discrimination. That might lead other employers to reconsider the risks of discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. The argument that sexual-orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination can apply to other types of workplace bias as well, such as employees alleging they were fired or denied promotions for being gay.

“Being gay or lesbian or bisexual inherently violates the gender stereotype that men and women should be attracted to people of the opposite sex,” says Equal Employment Opportunity Commission member Chai Feldblum, a former Georgetown law professor. Last year the EEOC concluded that anti-gay discrimination is inherently a form of sex discrimination.

Judges don’t have to defer to the EEOC, but they’ve proved increasingly receptive to gay plaintiffs’ sex discrimination arguments, allowing cases to proceed against BNSF Railway, SkyWest Airlines, and Pepperdine University. “We’re seeing an evolution in judicial thought and judicial acceptance of this argument,” says Steven Suflas, a partner at the law firm Ballard Spahr, who represents management in labor and employment matters. “The chance of prevailing under this sexual stereotype theory, those percentages are increasing.”

Walmart denies wrongdoing and opposes class-action certification (the two sides are slated to present briefs on the class question this summer) but hasn’t ruled out a resolution. “Before the lawsuit was filed, we attempted to resolve it, and we’ve said we remain open to further discussions,” says Randy Hargrove, Walmart’s director of national media relations. He declined to elaborate on the company’s legal strategy.

If the company continues defending its old policy, that could carry significant reputational risks. Walmart boasts a 90 percent rating on the Corporate Equality Index compiled by the LGBT nonprofit Human Rights Campaign and last year drew friendly media attention for joining LGBT activists in opposing a religious liberty bill in its home state of Arkansas that would have shielded businesses that discriminated against LGBT customers. Walmart didn’t move to dismiss the Cote case after it was filed in July; efforts to settle the dispute through the EEOC before Cote sued were unsuccessful.
In 2014, when a former Saks Fifth Avenue employee filed a lawsuit alleging she was harassed and discriminated against for being transgender, Saks’s lawyer asked for the case to be dismissed because “transsexuals are not a protected class” under the Civil Rights Act. That filing, which might have drawn little attention a decade earlier, spurred swift pushback from advocacy groups and harsh media attention. Within three months, Saks settled. The company declined to comment.

“Any large employer, they have to worry about their public image,” says Suflas. “Do you want your consumer base to think that you are not a good corporate citizen?”
Last July a group of LGBT and labor groups urged Walmart in an open letter to settle the case rather than argue in court that anti-LGBT bias is legal. Walmart could send a powerful message to employers by settling, says Emily Martin, general counsel of the National Women’s Law Center.
“It would be really meaningful if Walmart chose to resolve the case and recognize that under Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act], it was bound to provide these benefits,” Martin says. “When you have a major corporate player like Walmart either implicitly or explicitly recognizing this is what the law required it to do, other employers take notice.”
If Cote’s approach is successful, other plaintiffs could be emboldened to come forward and file similar claims—helping advocates further develop the law and more clearly define Title VII’s protections.

Some advocates see an upside if Walmart holds out for a trial. “This is a compelling case that could make its way through the federal courts to the Supreme Court and make good law that applies nationwide,” says Tico Almeida, founder of the LGBT nonprofit Freedom to Work. Because the facts of the case are relatively clear-cut, Cote’s case could offer LGBT advocates a chance to set a precedent on the scope of sex discrimination. “I think the courts have reached the point where they are more and more ready to accept what has always been straightforwardly true,” says Cote’s attorney, Buseck. “I do think ultimately this is where the Supreme Court will end up.”
Cote has promised to keep up the fight. “Unfortunately my wife doesn’t have much time left on earth. … She wants the people that tried to save her life and tried to extend her life to be paid,” she says.

With the law unsettled, defense lawyers are urging caution. “If an employer comes to us and asks, ‘Is there a risk that I could be sued under the theory that Title VII extends to LGBT individuals?’ I think the answer is yes,” says Cameron Smith, a labor and employment partner at Seyfarth Shaw. “This is absolutely going to be a hotly litigated issue, and it’s going to play up through the courts. And if that means that employers and employees get greater clarity about what the law provides, that to me seems like a welcome development.”

July 16, 2015

Gov.Scott Walker Hits Emergency Brakes on Boy Scouts and gay Discrimination


                                                                            
 I say things I don’t mean when tired or when I play politics


Gov. Scott Walker, who recently expressed support for a ban on gay Boy Scout leaders because it “protected children,” said on Wednesday that he did not mean that children needed “physical protection” from gay scoutmasters – but rather protection from the debate over the ban.

In comments published on Tuesday by The Independent Journal Review, a news website that is popular with young conservatives, Mr. Walker said, “I have had a lifelong commitment to the Scouts and support the previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values.” But during a brief press conference in South Carolina on Wednesday, Mr. Walker said the decision on the ban was “up to the Boy Scouts” and added that his earlier remarks were not about protecting children from gay people.

“The protection was not a physical protection,” he said, but rather about “protecting them from being involved in the very thing you’re talking about right now, the political and media discussion about it, instead of just focusing on what Scouts is about, which is about camping and citizenship and things of that nature.”

Staking out increasingly conservative positions has emerged as a key part of Mr. Walker’s strategy to compete for votes against the 14 other Republicans running for president. He has been vocal in his opposition to same-sex marriage and his support for amending the United States Constitution to allow states to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

In response to another question, Mr. Walker indicated that he would consider Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina as a vice-presidential running mate if he won the Republican Party’s nomination, though he repeatedly emphasized that the notion was premature.

“Certainly Nikki’s a friend of mine, she has been a very capable governor, and there will be a long list of people like her, but again, like I said, it’s premature,” Mr. Walker said.

He did sketch out the kind of person he would seek as a running mate, if he earned the nomination: “Primarily someone who is capable of being an outstanding president if god forbid something were to happen to me,” as well as someone who “shares my values and my concerns.”


April 21, 2015

The Gay Marriage Case Can Easily Be Won Through Existing law of Gender Discrimination




As the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of laws banning same-sex marriage later this month, few have noticed that the case can easily be resolved under existing precedent. 
Laws banning gay marriage are unconstitutional because they discriminate on the basis of gender. If same-sex marriage is forbidden, Anne is allowed to marry Bob, but Charles can't. Charles is denied the right to marry Bob, solely because Charles is a man. Denial of a legal right solely because of gender is the very essence of sex discrimination.
Laws banning gay marriage discriminate on the basis of gender even more clearly than on the basis of sexual orientation. Anne is still allowed to marry Charles, even if one of them happens to be gay or lesbian. Bob is denied that right whether he is gay or not. The Supreme Court has long held that laws discriminating based on gender must be presumed unconstitutional and invalidated unless the government can prove that they can pass rigorous, heightened judicial scrutiny.
Some lower court decisions have ruled that laws banning gay marriage do not discriminate on the basis of sex because they affect members of both genders equally: Men are forbidden to marry other men, and women are forbidden to marry other women. But this is exactly the same kind of reasoning that the Supreme Court rejected when it struck down laws banning miscegenation and interracial marriage. The defenders of those laws claimed that they did not discriminate on the basis of race because both blacks and whites were equally barred from marrying members of the other racial group.
Just as a law banning interracial marriage discriminates on the basis of race, so a law banning same-sex marriage discriminates on the basis of gender. It still denies rights to both men and women solely on account of their sex. The fact that Bob cannot marry Charles solely on account of gender is not somehow balanced by the fact that Anne is forbidden to marry Carol. 
Other critics of the gender discrimination argument claim that laws banning gay marriage do not discriminate on the basis of sex because they are not motivated by sexist prejudice. But the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that laws restricting individuals' rights on the basis of their gender qualify as sex discrimination regardless of motivation. Craig v. Boren, the 1976 case in which the Supreme Court first ruled that gender discrimination is subject to heightened scrutiny, invalidated an Oklahoma law under which 18- to 20-year-old men, but not women of the same age, were forbidden to buy beer. The Oklahoma legislature was not rife with anti-male sexism.
Many opponents of gay marriage rely in part on gender stereotypes. Some judges who have rejected same-sex marriage have claimed that opposite-sex marriage is essential to prevent men (but not women) from procreating irresponsibly and disclaiming responsibility for their children, or because children must have role models of the same sex, or that the presence of parents of both genders is essential to optimal child raising, even though  social scientific evidence cuts against such claims. The Supreme Court has ruled that laws may not be based on "fixed notions concerning the roles and abilities of males and females." Even in cases where such stereotypical notions have some statistical validity, the government may not engage in systematic gender discrimination on that basis — penalizing all those who wish to enter into gay marriages based on the possible shortcomings of a minority. 
Some defenders of same-sex marriage fear that the gender discrimination argument ignores what they see as the true motivation for the laws they oppose: prejudice against gay men and lesbians. But hostility to gays and lesbians and sexism are often closely linked. At least until recently, most Americans learned no later than high school that one of the nastier social sanctions one will suffer for deviating from traditional gender roles is the imputation of homosexuality. Much anti-homosexual prejudice is closely linked to gays' and lesbians' supposed deviation from conventional gender norms. While gay men are often stigmatized for being "effeminate," lesbians are stereotyped as too masculine.
Not all opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in sexism. But such factors are prominent enough that the gender discrimination rationale for striking down laws banning gay marriage cannot be dismissed as mere legal formalism.
The two of us have very different political views and approaches to constitutional interpretation. Even so, we are united on this case; people with widely differing views on other issues can recognize that laws banning same-sex marriage discriminate on the basis of gender, and therefore should be subject to the same constitutional rules as other laws that enforce sex discrimination.
Andrew Koppelman
Andrew Koppelman, a professor of law at Northwestern University, and Ilya Somin, a law professor at Andrew Koppelman and Ilya Somin Mason University are co-authors of an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to invalidate laws banning same-sex marriage.  

February 20, 2015

Doctor Refuses to Treat baby Because it had two Moms


                                                                               

Sitting in the pediatrician's office with their 6-day-old daughter, the two moms couldn't wait to meet the doctor they had picked out months before.
The Roseville pediatrician — one of many they had interviewed — seemed the perfect fit: She took a holistic approach to treating children. She used natural oils and probiotics. And she knew they were lesbians.
But as Jami and Krista Contreras sat in the exam room, waiting to be seen for their newborn's first checkup, another pediatrician entered the room and delivered a major blow: The doctor they were hoping for had a change of heart. After “much prayer," she decided that she couldn't treat their baby because they are lesbians. 
"I was completely dumbfounded," recalled Krista Contreras, the baby's biological mother. "We just looked at each other and said, 'Did we hear that correctly?' .... When we tell people about it, they don't believe us. They say, '(Doctors) can't do that. That's not legal.' And we say, 'Yes it is.'"
The Contrerases of Oak Park are going public with their story to raise awareness about the discrimination that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community continues to face. There is no federal or Michigan law that explicitly prohibits discrimination against LGBT individuals.
For months, the couple kept quiet about what happened to them and their baby — Bay Windsor Contreras — at Eastlake Pediatrics last October.
But the pain and frustration wouldn't go away. So they broke their silence.
"We want people to know that this is happening to families. This is really happening," said Jami Contreras, 30, who was blindsided that fall day in the doctor's office. "It was embarrassing. It was humiliating ... It's just wrong."
Roi said that she could not comment on the case, citing the federal HIPAA law, which requires medical providers to protect the privacy of patients. But she did defend her commitment to pediatric medicine and helping children.
"My life is taking care of the babies," Roi told the Free Press on Tuesday. "I love my families, my patients. I love my kids. And I have become very close with all my patients."
Roi, meanwhile, has apologized to Jami and Krista Contreras in a handwritten letter, which was obtained by the Free Press. It states:
"Dear Jami & Krista, I am writing this letter of apology as I feel that it is important and necessary. I never meant to hurt either of you. After much prayer following your prenatal (visit), I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient doctor relationship that I normally do with my patients."
The letter, dated Feb. 9, did not explain why Roi felt that way, nor did it mention anything about the two women being lesbians. It did, however, state that the Contrerases were “always welcome in our office” and that they could still get care from another pediatrician who was on staff.  
Roi also apologized for not telling the Contrerases about her decision in person.
"I felt that it was an exciting time for the two of you and I felt that if I came in and shared my decision, it would take away much of the excitement. That was my mistake," the letter stated. "I should have spoken with you that day."
The letter concluded:
"Please know that I believe that God gives us free choice and I would never judge anyone based on what they do with that free choice. Again, I am very sorry for the hurt and angry feelings that were created by this. I hope that you can accept my apology."
Decision not illegal
Krista and Jami Contreras are not suing Roi. They concede that Roi did nothing illegal — which is precisely what they have a problem with: There are few laws on the books that protect the LGBT community from discrimination.
"There's no law that prohibits it," Wayne State University Constitutional Law Professor Robert Sedler said of Roi's actions. "It's the same as a florist refusing to sell flowers for a same-sex wedding."
Currently, 22 states have laws that prohibit doctors from discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation. Michigan is not one of these states.
Michigan does have its own anti-discrimination law known as the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. But it doesn't cover LGBT individuals. Neither do federal employment laws included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit hiring or employment discrimination on the basis of a person's"race, color, religion, sex, or national origin," not sexual orientation.
Legislative efforts to add LGBT individuals to federal and Michigan anti-discrimination laws have been made over the years, none successfully.
Sedler, who teaches equality issues at Wayne State University, said Roi didn't violate any laws.
"Basically, the pediatrician handled this in an appropriate way," Sedler said. "She turned them over to another doctor."
However, Sedler added, Roi's actions as a licensed doctor raise an ethical issue.
"Here you have a doctor saying I won't treat a baby of a lesbian couple … I think that's very troubling," he said. "It's clearly not illegal, but it certainly raises an ethical question."
Attorney Dana Nessel, who is handling the Michigan same-sex marriage case that's about to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, believes the laws need to change. If not, she said, more families like the Contrerases will be mistreated by the medical profession.
"It's a very scary thing," Nessel said of doctors being allowed to refuse to treat patients. "What kind of a society are we that we would allow this to happen?"
While Michigan doctors can refuse to treat a gay person, or their children, citing religious freedoms, the medical profession strongly opposes it.
The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics have taken a strong stance against this practice and have prohibited it in their ethics rules, which are only advisory.
"Respecting the diversity of patients is a fundamental value of the medical profession and reflected in long-standing AMA ethical policy opposing any refusal to care for patients based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other criteria that would constitute invidious discrimination," said a statement from Dr. Gregory Blaschke, chair of the AMA's LGBT Advisory Committee. It added that the AMA encourages "diversity, awareness and cultural sensitivity in the medical profession."
For Jami and Krista Contreras, the medical policies are comforting, but they're not enough. It's time, they said, for the laws to change so that no LGBT person experiences what they did that fall day in the pediatrician's office. Roi, they said, gave no signs that she was opposed to their lifestyle when they met her. She told them to schedule an appointment when the baby was born, they said. And they did just that.
Then came the blow.
"You're discriminating against a baby?" Jami Contreras said. "It's just wrong."

December 9, 2014

Int.Olympic Committee Revises non-discrimination Charter to include Sexual Orientation


STAND ALONE PHOTO. REED SAXON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Gay rights activists in Los Angeles protest the passage of ‘gay propaganda' laws in Sochi, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics earlier this year. 
The International Olympic Committee unanimously approved a revision of its non-discrimination policy Monday to include sexual orientation, a step sparked by Russian lawmakers' passage of laws before the Sochi games that banned "gay propaganda."
The language will also be included in contracts between the IOC and future host cities. The IOC notified prospective bidders for the 2022 winter games of the change to Principle 6 of the Olympic charter, which already barred discrimination based on race, religion, gender and other factors.
Activists said Russia's laws encourage homophobic attacks on Russia's gay population and criticized the IOC and corporate sponsors for not doing more to force Russia to repeal the legislation. More than 50 current and former Olympians - including tennis great Martina Navratilova and gold medal diver Greg Louganis — joined the “Principle Six Campaign” — to protest the laws.
LGBT rights advocates called for the U.S. to boycott the Sochi games in response to Russia’s controversial “gay propaganda” legislation.
“This is a pivotal moment for equality in sport,” said Andre Banks, executive director and co-founder of All Out, a gay rights organization
The IOC’s new policy could face a big test in 2022, since gays and lesbians face discrimination and harassment in both finalists, Beijing, China and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The IOC’s anti-gay policy, meanwhile, also places pressure on FIFA. The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia, while the 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar, which has refused to say if gay athletes will even be allowed in the country to participate in the tournament.
In addition to the revision of the non-discrimination policy, the IOC also unanimously approved a reform package that will make bidding for the games less expensive and give hosts greater flexibility to stage the games. The IOC abolished the cap of 28 sports for the Summer Games to move to an "events-based" system that would allow new competitions to come in, while keeping to about 10,500 athletes and 310 medal events.
The reforms - IOC president Thomas Bach's 40-point "Olympic Agenda 2020" - mark the biggest changes in the IOC in decades.
The new bidding process is a response to concerns about the exorbitant costs of hosting the Olympics. The new system allows prospective candidates to discuss their plans in advance with the IOC to tailor games to their own venues and. Cities will be allowed to hold events outside the host city or country, which opens the door to joint bids by cities, neighboring countries or regions.
IOC vice president John Coates said holding events outside the host country would only be considered in "exceptional circumstances." He said the idea would have to be raised in the early phase of bidding and would need approval from the IOC executive board.
"The compactness of the bid is always important," Coates said. "But the compactness of the games has to be weighed up with the cost benefit of being able to use existing venues rather than build new venues."
Host cities will also be allowed to propose the inclusion of one or more additional events for their games, which will allow Tokyo organizers to request that baseball and softball be included in the 2020 Games. Both sports were ropped after the 2008 Beijing Games.
The IOC also abolished the cap of 28 sports for the Summer Games to move to an "events-based" system that would allow new competitions to come in, while keeping to about 10,500 athletes and 310 medal events.
The IOC also agreed to work with international federations to have a greater number of women participate in the games. The IOC hopes to achieve 50 percent female participation in the Olympics and will and encourage mixed-gender team events.
The IOC also approved the launch of a digital network to promote Olympic sports between the games and engage with young viewers.
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