Showing posts with label Americans-north. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Americans-north. Show all posts

August 26, 2017

The Best and Worse Places to Live Gay in America (Aug.2017)

All my life I’ve loved Texas: those big skies, big steaks and big attitudes. I’m there several times a year.

But Texas doesn’t love me back. Certainly its lawmakers don’t, and lately they’ve been hellbent on showing that.

In June the governor signed a bill allowing child welfare groups to refuse adoptions that contradict their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” They can turn away gay men like me.

That same month, the Texas Supreme Court approved a lawsuit challenging the city of Houston’s provision of equal benefits to all married employees, including those with same-sex spouses. Although the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, Texas bucks and balks.

Not New York. My state loves me something fierce. What it did in June was finalize the design of a monument to L.G.B.T. citizens in downtown Manhattan. New York legalized same-sex marriage back in 2011 without any federal nudge.

There’s no such thing as L.G.B.T. life in America, a country even more divided on this front than on others. There’s L.G.B.T. life in a group of essentially progressive places like New York, Maryland, Oregon and California, which bans government-funded travel to states it deems unduly discriminatory. Then there is L.G.B.T. life on that blacklist, which includes Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and South Dakota. 

States with Pro-L.G.B.T. Laws
NUMBER OF POSITIVE LAWS
0
52
States with Anti-L.G.B.T. Laws
NUMBER OF NEGATIVE LAWS
0
6
Source: Human Rights Campaign
The differences between states — and between cities within states — are profound, and while that has long been true, it’s much more consequential since the advent of the Trump administration, a decidedly less ready ally of L.G.B.T. people than the Obama administration was.

The federal government under Donald Trump won’t be rushing in to help L.G.B.T. people whose local governments fail to give them equal rights, a sense of belonging or even a feeling of physical safety. Despite Trump’s happy campaign talk about how fond he was of gays (and, Trump being Trump, how fond they were of him), his record as president has been hurtful and hateful. Immediately after his inauguration, references to the L.G.B.T. community were scrubbed from many federal websites, including the White House’s and the Department of State’s.

Plenty of the people he pulled into his cabinet have long histories of pronounced opposition to gay rights. One of them, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, leads a Department of Justice that recently went out of its way to make clear, in court filings, that it did not consider L.G.B.T. people to be protected by a federal civil rights law that prohibits employment discrimination. The Obama administration had taken the opposite view.



states don’t have laws prohibiting establishments from discriminating against L.G.B.T. customers
states don’t have non-discrimination employment laws protecting L.G.B.T.
states don’t have hate crime laws specifically protecting L.G.B.T.
Source: Human Rights Campaign
Without consulting or even alerting the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, Trump announced a reinstatement of the ban on transgender people in the military, and he’s now finishing the orders for how the Department of Defense should enforce it — within six months. His first Supreme Court appointment suggests that if he is able to ensconce several more, the same-sex-marriage ruling could well be revisited and changed.

But worry not! Ivanka Trump has our backs! She has tweeted as much, and I guess we’re supposed to find consolation in those crumbs.

We’re at the mercy of our ZIP codes: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are often affected most by their municipality, not their state. In Waco, Tex., the lone justice of the peace who presides over weddings recently admitted that she won’t do so for same-sex couples no matter the federal law. But Houston, just a three-hour drive away, has in instances been a pioneer: Annise Parker, its mayor from 2010 to 2016, is the only openly L.G.B.T. person ever elected to lead one of the nation’s 10 most populous cities. And Austin, the state’s capital, is practically Key West, Fla. — minus the coconuts.

state’s capital, is practically Key West, Fla. — minus the coconuts.  
In June the governor signed a bill allowing child welfare groups to refuse adoptions that contradict their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” They can turn away gay men like me.
That same month, the Texas Supreme Court approved a lawsuit challenging the city of Houston’s provision of equal benefits to all married employees, including those with same-sex spouses. Although the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, Texas bucks and balks.
Not New York. My state loves me something fierce. What it did in June was finalize the design of a monument to L.G.B.T. citizens in downtown Manhattan. New York legalized same-sex marriage back in 2011 without any federal nudge.
There’s no such thing as L.G.B.T. life in America, a country even more divided on this front than on others. There’s L.G.B.T. life in a group of essentially progressive places like New York, Maryland, Oregon and California, which bans government-funded travel to states it deems unduly discriminatory. Then there is L.G.B.T. life onthat blacklist, which includes Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and South Dakota. 
The differences between states — and between cities within states — are profound, and while that has long been true, it’s much more consequential since the advent of the Trump administration, a decidedly less ready ally of L.G.B.T. people than the Obama administration was.
The federal government under Donald Trump won’t be rushing in to help L.G.B.T. people whose local governments fail to give them equal rights, a sense of belonging or even a feeling of physical safety. Despite Trump’s happy campaign talk about how fond he was of gays (and, Trump being Trump, how fond they were of him), his record as president has been hurtful and hateful. Immediately after his inauguration, references to the L.G.B.T. community were scrubbed from many federal websites, including the White House’s and the Department of State’s.
Plenty of the people he pulled into his cabinet have long histories of pronounced opposition to gay rights. One of them, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, leads a Department of Justice that recently went out of its way to make clear, in court filings, that it did not consider L.G.B.T. people to be protected by a federal civil rights law that prohibits employment discrimination. The Obama administration had taken the opposite view.
20
29
28
states don’t have laws prohibiting
establishments from discriminating against L.G.B.T. customers
states don’t have non-discrimination employment laws protecting L.G.B.T.
states don’t have hate crime laws specifically protecting L.G.B.T.
Source: Human Rights Campaign
Without consulting or even alerting the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, Trump announced a reinstatement of the ban on transgender people in the military, and he’s now finishing the ordersfor how the Department of Defense should enforce it — within six months. His first Supreme Court appointment suggests that if he is able to ensconce several more, the same-sex-marriage ruling could well be revisited and changed.
But worry not! Ivanka Trump has our backs! She has tweeted as much, and I guess we’re supposed to find consolation in those crumbs.
We’re at the mercy of our ZIP codes: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are often affected most by their municipality, not their state. In Waco, Tex., the lone justice of the peace who presides over weddings recently admitted that she won’t do so for same-sex couples no matter the federal law. But Houston, just a three-hour drive away, has in instances been a pioneer: Annise Parker, its mayor from 2010 to 2016, is the only openly L.G.B.T. person ever elected to lead one of the nation’s 10 most populous cities. And Austin, the state’s capital, is practically Key West, Fla. — minus the coconuts.
Tyler, Tex.
“I came out at 60 ... and I was told I could no longer hold any positions of leadership in my church.”I am—or was—Southern Baptist. After I was invited to share my coming-out story in the public library, patrons complained and the talk was canceled. I stay here because my childreLou Anne Smoot
78, lesbian, retired teacher

Austin, Tex.
“Austin is a little protected bubble: a blue bubble in a red state.”There’s a gay pride parade. There’s a gay pride week. I never had to worry about letting bosses know that I was gay. I’ve been with my current partner for about 11 years. We can kiss on the street corner or in our front yard. 
Charles Castle
  
71, Gay, retired school librarian
Our cities and our states often dictate how easily we can be our true selves at work, buy wedding cakes, construct families — even die. I asked Jon Davidson of Lambda Legal, an L.G.B.T. advocacy group, about current cases that illustrate just how repressive some corners of America remain. He told me about Picayune, Miss., where an 86-year-old gay man passed away last year, leaving behind his 82-year-old husband. They had been together for half a century.

Although prior arrangements had been made with a local funeral home, it refused even to pick up the dead man’s body when it learned of his same-sex marriage, according to a breach-of-contract lawsuit by his husband that hasn’t yet been resolved.

I told Davidson that I thought that such don’t-make-me-touch-it hysteria ended 25 years ago.

“Many parts of the country are 25 years ago,” he responded, drawing special attention to the southeastern quarter, from Texas to South Carolina, which, he said, may well generate more than half of the lawsuits that Lambda becomes involved in.

South Carolina: another state that I love, another state that doesn’t love me back, and the home of Tommy Starling, 45, and his husband, Jeff Littlefield, 61. Starling told me that they live there, in the coastal community of Pawleys Island, because of Littlefield’s job in the insurance business, but they dream constantly of moving somewhere that doesn’t cast them as provocative social experiments, somewhere that doesn’t put and keep them on edge.

They had trouble trying to adopt in South Carolina, so they turned to California and to surrogacy to have their 11-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. Starling said that his family stands out in Pawleys Island in a way that it wouldn’t in Brooklyn — or, for that matter, Atlanta — and disparaging, even menacing, remarks have come his way. To protect his kids from such ugliness, he has created, and works to preserve, a bubble of open-minded people around them.

“But it’s getting exhausting,” he said, adding that the family’s occasional travel sustains him. He recalled a trip not long ago to San Francisco, where his husband reached out to hold his hand in public and he reflexively tensed.

“He had to remind me that it was O.K. there,” Starling told me.

“My fiancé and I get disgusted looks
when we hold hands walking into places.”

Holding hands. Such a small thing — and yet so incredibly big for many gay couples in conservative environments and even for some couples in more liberal areas that can nonetheless seem threatening. That came through poignantly in more than 1,000 responses that The Times received after asking L.G.B.T. readers to share their reflections on the freedoms and limitations of where they live.

“My fiancé and I get disgusted looks
when we hold hands walking into places.”

Holding hands. Such a small thing — and yet so incredibly big for many gay couples in conservative environments and even for some couples in more liberal areas that can nonetheless seem threatening. That came through poignantly in more than 1,000 responses that The Times received after asking L.G.B.T. readers to share their reflections on the freedoms and limitations of where they live.
Laramie, Wyo.
“Wyoming doesn’t have any state laws that protect us from discrimination or hate.”They recently tried to pass a bill letting business owners, on religious grounds, deny service to L.G.B.T. people. It makes me feel very unwelcome. I feel powerless. I feel attacked almost. 
Josiah Masie22, gay, in Laramie, near where Matthew Shepard was fatally beaten in a gay-related hate crime in 1998
Seattle
“I definitely feel as though I can be 100 percent open here.”The comfort is so alien compared to Montana or Wyoming. There hasn’t been a single day that I haven’t seen some variety of pride flag on someone’s car, on their home or in storefront windows. I feel grateful. 
Keleigh Russell23, lesbian, grew up in Wyoming, went to college in Montana 

 .
Keleigh Russell
23, lesbian, grew up in Wyoming, went to college in Montana
Readers were acutely conscious of the absence or presence of employment-related anti-discrimination laws in their cities or states. (Only 22 states have such laws governing all gay and lesbian workers, in both the public and the private sectors, while only 20, including New York, have them for transgender workers as well.) Readers mentioned the vigor, or laxness, with which their local governments patrolled against and prosecuted hate crimes.

And one after another, readers said they wished that a modest public gesture of affection wasn’t a potent magnet for stares, slurs or worse.

From a 45-year-old lesbian in Laingsburg, Mich.: “Sometimes I fantasize about living in parts of N.Y.C. or Provincetown, where I would be able to feel comfortable walking down the street holding hands with my wife, but our roots are here.” From a 34-year-old lesbian in Lubbock, Tex.: “My fiancé and I get disgusted looks when we hold hands walking into places.”

I mentioned Brooklyn earlier when I was talking about climes unlike Pawleys Island because Dennis Williams, an executive with HBO who lives in the borough’s Boerum Hill neighborhood, was on my mind. He, too, is a gay dad, although unmarried. At 44, he’s just a year younger than Starling. But his experience is worlds apart.

Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I get the, ‘Oh, there’s no mom?’ But then it’s like they’re proud of me.”I can’t think of a single instance when anyone has been weird or I’ve had to confront any kind of homophobia. I don’t know that I could find this level of reinforced diversity outside of where I am now. 
Dennis Williams44, unmarried gay father of a 3-year-old
Pawleys Island, S.C.
“Somebody said that our kids should be taken away from us and we should be hanged.”If it wasn’t for my husband’s job, we wouldn’t be here. We’re constantly under a microscope, two dads raising kids. We were featured in a local publication and some comments were really nasty. 
Tommy Starling45, married gay father of two children, ages 4 and 11 and about with his 3-year-old son, Elan, he’s pretty sure it’s because he’s a black man and there has been so much discussion about black children growing up with absent fathers. Acquaintances who learn or know that he’s gay don’t register any surprise or signal any disapproval.

“I don’t take this for granted,” he added, noting that he grew up in Kansas and knows gay men in cities less cosmopolitan than New York. 
Of course there are enclaves in Kansas where Williams would find a warm welcome. The college town of Lawrence has a municipal ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, even though Kansas itself doesn’t. (In 2015, Gov. Sam Brownback rescinded one that covered only public employees.) And there are rural pockets of upstate New York that have none of Brooklyn’s progressivism or diversity.

The geographic variations for transgender
people may well be the starkest.




Rockville, Md.
“We have great equality laws in Maryland, which is unusual in its protections for trans people.”
I’ve been tolerated. I’ve even been welcomed. I have a dog, and I remember one gentleman coming up with his dog and asking, “Are you a transgender?” I said, nervously, “Yes.” And he said, “Well, good on ya!”
Stevie Neal
63, transgender woman living just outside Washington, D.C.

Peyton, Colo.
“I’ve gotten slurs. ‘Y’all should be put to death.’ This is just walking down the street.”
Ten miles away from me is the Focus on the Family headquarters, which we, in the L.G.B.T. community, consider a hate group. I get the feeling there are people who want to hurt me. I’ve had people brandish guns at me.

Jamie Shea
39, transgender woman living near Colorado Springs
On the state level, the yardsticks for measuring respect for L.G.B.T. people include, recently, restrictions on “conversion therapy,” which attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. More and more mental health professionals are speaking out unequivocally about its dangers, and more and more state legislatures are outlawing it for minors. New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island and Connecticut did so in recent months; New Jersey, Vermont, Illinois, Oregon, California and the District of Columbia had previously done so. But that leaves 41 states without any such prohibition.

The geographic variations for transgender people may well be the starkest. Harper Jean Tobin, the policy director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, noted that there are states — Nevada, for one — where changing your designated gender on a government document requires only affidavits from people who know you. “It can be a medical provider, your therapist, your minister, your parent,” Tobin said. But other states, like Tennessee and Alabama, demand proof of surgery and a physician’s signature.

states have laws prohibiting transgender people from receiving I.D.s reflecting their preferred gender identification
states don’t have laws protecting youths from conversion therapy
states don’t have explicit bans on excluding trans individuals from receiving health insurance coverage
states don’t have laws for gender-neutral single-occupancy restrooms
Source: Human Rights Campaign

Ah, Alabama. In May, under the aegis of “religious freedom,” its governor signed a law that allowed taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny the placement of children in homes with gay parents. Patricia Todd, 62, who serves in the state’s House of Representatives, remembers the heated discussion there beforehand, because she played a special role. She’s openly lesbian — the only open L.G.B.T. person ever in the Alabama Legislature.


Alabama
“I’m the only open L.G.B.T. person ever in the State Legislature.”
I tell people, “This is my missionary work, and I want to be in the hardest place to do it, and I will not live in Mississippi.” I love the South: the culture, the food, the people. It’s the politics I want to change.
Patricia Todd
State representative, 62, lesbian

California
“There are four L.G.B.T. people in the Senate and four of us in the Assembly.”
It’s the all-time high. The interesting thing is now our straight allies are carrying a lot of our L.G.B.T. bills. Sometimes even my opponents will say, “I never understood that. That’s a new perspective.”
Ricardo Lara
State senator, 42, gay
“I tried to stop the bill as best I could,” Representative Todd told me. “I practically had the sponsor in tears when we were debating this on the floor.” Why? “Because he really likes me. They all really like me. I said, ‘I want everyone to realize: If you vote in favor of this, you’re telling me that I’m not fit to be a parent. And I want you to look at me. You know me.’ ”

The Alabama House voted 60 to 14 in favor of the bill, after which the Alabama Senate voted 23 to 9.

Fifty years from now — heck, maybe just 20 — that kind of thing won’t happen. There’s only one long-term trajectory here. But in the meantime, it’s not O.K. for the federal government to be as cold to L.G.B.T. Americans as the one we have now is, because some of those Americans live in Alabama — or Texas. And those places don’t exactly brim with love.

Most of this information and some of the pictures and graphs appeared on the New York Times

Photos
Lou Anne Smoot by Mark Graham,  Charles Castle by Tamir Kalifa, Josiah Masie by Dan Cepeda,  Keleigh Russell by Ruth Fremson, Dennis Williams by Chad Batka,  Tommy Starling by Tanya Ackerman, Stevie Neal by Gabriella Demczuk,  Jamie Shea by Matt Nager, Patricia Todd by Chris Carmichael, and Ricardo Lara by Valerie Chiang for The New York Times
Produced by
Jessia Ma and Stuart A. Thompson

July 4, 2017

YouGov Survey: How Many and Which Americans R Sticking with Trump



Well, most are.  In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, more than eight in ten Republicans approve of the way the President is handling his job (his overall approval rating is less than half that percentage).   But there has been a decrease in intensity, not just in how strongly Republicans approve of his job performance, but on a number of other measures as well.   
The erosion of strong approval among Republicans has been noted before in Economist/YouGov Polls.  The percentage of Republicans who strongly approve of the President’s performance is now consistently under 50%, down from well over half at the start of his Presidency.  Clearly, Republicans want to say good things about their party’s President, but the strength of their expressions of support has slipped on this, on other judgments about the President and his performance, and on several measures of their expectations for what this Presidency can accomplish. 
The share of GOP party identifiers that believe the United States will be more respected in the world four years from now than it is today has dropped from nearly two in three at the start of the Trump Administration to just about half today.  That is still double the national total, but not quite the resounding positive it was before. 
Some of that may be due to changes in the world and not necessarily changes in opinion about the President.  Terrorist attacks in Western Europe in the last few months have been unsettling to many.  Since mid-May half or fewer Republicans have said they think the country will be safer from terrorism in four years than it is today.  At the start of the Administration in January, more than two-thirds of Republicans believed this.  And for the first time last week, the share of Republicans strongly approving of the President’s handling of terrorism slipped below 50%, a drop of 16 points from the start of his Administration.
One of the larger shifts has come in the way Republicans evaluate the President’s management of one of his signature issues, immigration.  Strong approval on that issue is down from nearly two-thirds in January to just about half today.  But more than three in four still approve (strongly or somewhat), down only a few points from what it was before.
There is also some evidence of softening in Republican views on some critical characteristics.   Nearly all Republicans thought of the President as a strong leader at the start of his administration; now 84% do.    Although the percentage has dropped, it is still a strong endorsement.  But again, the strength of that positive assessment has shrunk -- from two-thirds in January to half now – twenty weeks later -- viewing President Trump as a “very strong” leader. 
There was a small rise last week in GOP views of the President as a strong leader.  But this week, the percentage dropped back.  It also fell very briefly in early March during a time of wiretap claims and the second travel ban executive order.
There are smaller drops in the share of Republicans saying the President cares a great deal about them personally and those that see him as honest and trustworthy.  But large majorities of Republicans still see him positively on those characteristics.  
Which Republicans are less likely to support the President?  It’s clearly the case that President Trump does best with those who supported him all along – not just in the general election, as nearly all Republicans did, but in the primaries as well.  In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll 59% of those who say they supported the President during the primaries strongly approve of the way he is handling his job, compared with 43% of all Republicans.  Some of those Republicans did not participate in the 2016 primaries or caucuses.  Among those Republicans who did not support Trump during the nominating process, supporting someone else or not participating, only a third give him strong approval now.  One in four in this group actually disapprove.
More than two-thirds of Republicans describe themselves as conservatives, and nearly a third say they are very conservative.  During the primaries, the most conservative Republicans voters often supported more conservative alternatives, like Texas Senator Ted Cruz.  But the most conservative Republicans are now the President’s staunchest supporters, as they have been throughout his young Administration.  In the latest poll, six in ten of those who say they are very conservative strongly approve of how the President is handling his job.
YouGov

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