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

December 1, 2016

7th Circuit Leaning Towards Major Gay Rights Victory

I never count my chickens before they hatch but in this case because I am hungry for good news Iam posting the following story from Court House News:

At oral arguments Wednesday, the full Seventh Circuit clearly leaned toward granting gay and lesbian employees Title VII protection against being fired for their sexual orientation.
Under current federal law, a gay or lesbian employee can get married to their same-sex partner on Saturday, and be fired for exercising that right on Monday. An employer needs no other reason.
However, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has been understood since 1989 to protect heterosexual employees from gender stereotyping.
This reading has created a very murky legal landscape where employers can legally fire an employee if they believe him or her to be gay, but cannot fire them for displaying characteristics stereotypical of the other sex.
As Seventh Circuit Judge David Hamilton framed the difficulty Wednesday, “I have trouble distinguishing looking gay from being gay.”
Chief Judge Diane Wood put it another way, joking that, “It’s only the phonies that get protection.”
Plaintiff Kimberly Hively began teaching as a part-time adjunct professor at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana in 2000. She applied for six full-time promotions between 2009 and 2014, but says she was rejected for all of them, despite her sterling student reviews. Her contract was terminated in 2014.
Hively filed a Title VII lawsuit in federal court alleging she was denied full time employment because she is a lesbian, but the case was immediately dismissed because Seventh Circuit precedent asserts that Title VII anti-discrimination laws apply to sex but not sexual orientation.
A Seventh Circuit panel reluctantly affirmed that ruling in July, but the full court agreed to rehear the matter. It will be the first appellate court to make a decision on the issue after the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Hively’s attorney, Gregory Nevins with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, told the full Seventh Circuit at oral arguments Wednesday that his client was not asking it to redefine “sex” to include sexual orientation.
Rather, “what you have is an incoherent rule,” Nevins said.
A female employee “can’t be fired for driving a Harley, or having Bears season tickets,” the attorney told the court, listing stereotypical male interests, but can be fired for being a lesbian.
“The idea that women should be attracted only to men is the ultimate gender stereotype,” Nevins said. “That absolutely should be covered [by Title VII.]”
Judge Wood agreed.
“Isn’t that a built-in stereotype, that if you are a biological woman, you are attracted to men?” she asked.
Nevins argued that the court should consider whether a man could similarly be fired for being attracted to a woman. If not, then firing a woman for the same attraction should be considered sex discrimination, he said.
Gail Coleman, arguing briefly for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, reiterated Nevins’ argument.
“The quintessential gender discrimination is the assumption that a woman is attracted to men,” Coleman said.
Ivy Tech’s counsel, John Maley with Barnes & Thornburg, struggled under rapid-fire questioning to defend his client’s position that the court should uphold precedent.
Maley had no ready response when Judge Frank Easterbrook repeatedly pressed him to explain why Hively’s case does not make a claim for sex discrimination “under exactly the same reasoning as Loving [v. Virginia],” the U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage and was decisive precedent for the legalization of same-sex marriage last year.
“You can’t just stand there and say [Loving] is different,” Judge Wood said. “Why?”
Judge Richard Posner interjected, “What is the cause of lesbianism?”
That provoked Judge William Bauer to joke, “It’s not just ugly men?”
Maley said homosexuality is an “immutable trait” found in some people, to which Posner responded, “Why doesn’t that make them a different sex?”
Posner continued, “If it’s part of your genetic make-up then you are very different than other women.”
Judge Posner has a long-standing interest in the biological roots of sexuality, which he examined in his 1992 book “Sex and Reason.”
The judge clarified, “[Straight women and lesbians] are both women, but very different types.”
Maley attempted to redirect the discussion to what Congress intended to protect when it enacted the Civil Rights Act, but Posner again interjected.
“So you think we are bound by what people thought in 1964?” he asked.
In an implicit reference to President-elect Donald Trump’s recent tweet supporting criminal penalties for flag-burning, Posner raised the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s support for First Amendment protection of flag burning.
Posner asked Maley if he thought Scalia went back to the U.S. Constitution and found, “Oh, burn things. That’s a form of speech.”
Maley repeatedly told the Seventh Circuit that any significant expansion of civil rights should be left for Congress to decide, not the courts.
However, he was unable to identify anyone, not even employers, who would be harmed by giving gay and lesbians more job protection, at which point Judge Ilana Rovner seemed to express sympathy for Maley’s attempts to defend the “position you have had to come here and espouse.”
As an aside, Chief Judge Wood noted, “It’s very odd to me that Ivy Tech is here.”
The college claims to “deplore” sexual orientation-based discrimination, but at the same time seeks “to defend [its] right to do it anyway,” Wood said.
Maley acknowledged the contradiction.
“At a procedural level, yes,” he said.
Throughout the argument, Judge Diane Sykes was the only judge who sharply questioned comparing the treatment of a heterosexual male employee with a lesbian employee. Rather, she said the relevant comparison should be a gay employee with a lesbian employee.
Nevins, speaking with reporters after the hearing, said he was pleased with argument.
The judges “were very engaged,” Nevins said. “It’s clear they understood exactly what our arguments were, so we’re optimistic.”

November 11, 2016

Gay Rights and the Impasse to Passing Defense Bill

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. They've called the measure dangerous and are demanding it be removed from the $602 billion measure. 
Many House Republicans, however, view the provision as a bulwark for religious liberty and just as adamantly want it kept in the final package. Donald Trump's victory in the presidential election has strengthened their hand should the contentious debate begin anew next year. 
"It's going to be a tough one for them to figure out," said Justin Johnson, a senior defense policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Drop the amendment and risk a backlash from rank-and-file Republicans, he said. 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. 
A filibuster carries risks for Democrats. They could be hammered by the GOP for stymieing legislation important to U.S. service members and their families. And even if the provision is dropped to avoid a veto by President Barack Obama, Republicans — who control both houses of Congress — could wait until Trump is in the White House and attach the provision to a different bill. 
"I think the election gives congressional Republicans a lot more leverage on this issue," Johnson said. "They don't have to be too worried about a veto threat because the situation only improves next year." 
Although much of Trump's agenda on social issues remains opaque, he assured conservatives during the campaign that he would place a high priority on religious liberty. 
The tenure of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, was punctuated by his steadfast support for conservative social issues that at times drew unwanted attention to the state, most notably when a religious objections law he signed provoked a national backlash from critics who said it could sanction discrimination against gay people. 
David Stacy, government affairs director at the Human Rights Campaign, acknowledged that the long-term prospects for barring the amendment from passing are challenging. But he said he's bullish about the short term. Congress has little incentive to drag out a lame-duck session and that means passing a defense bill unburdened by a provision that has no bearing on the Pentagon's core missions, according to Stacy. 
"The blame could fall either way," said Stacy, suggesting Republicans could be seen as obstructionists for insisting the amendment be preserved at the expense of speedy passage of the defense bill. 
The provision is brief and 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. 
The provision would "vastly expand religious exemptions" under the Civil Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act to allow contractors "to harm hardworking Americans who deserve to be protected from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, religious identity, or reproductive and other health care decisions," they said in the letter. 
Republicans argued the measure merely builds on existing law by ensuring that faith-based organizations that perform work for the U.S. government aren't forced to act against their beliefs. The measure is known as the Russell amendment, named after its sponsor, Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla. 
Paradoxically, opponents of the Russell amendment may find support from Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee who plays a central role in determining the contents of the defense policy bill. 
The Arizona legislature passed a religious freedom bill in 2014 designed to give more legal protections to people who might be accused of discrimination for actions they took in accordance with religious beliefs. A frequently cited example is a business that denies service to gay or lesbian customers. 
With the state facing a national backlash from business leaders, including the National Football League, McCain urged then-Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the legislation. She did. 
“We’re hoping he sees this the same way,” said Maggie Garrett, legislative director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.


July 12, 2016

Trump Distancing from GOP Platform but the Fight for LGBT is On


Same-sex marriage and transgender rights are emerging as points of serious strain between social conservatives and moderates who are trying to shape the Republican platform, reviving a festering cultural dispute as thousands of party activists and delegates prepare for their convention.

Caught in the middle is Donald Trump, who claims “tremendous support, tremendous friendship” from gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, and has gone further than most party figures to embrace them. Gays, in fact, are one of the few minority groups Trump has not singled out for criticism. But as the presumptive Republican nominee, he is also trying to assuage doubts about the convictions of his conservatism. 

The uncomfortable dynamic Trump has created for himself is perhaps best illustrated by his own calendar. He huddled last month at a Manhattan hotel with hundreds of religious conservatives, many of them — like James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council — outspoken opponents of new legal protections for gay and transgender people.

A few days later, he took what an aide described as a friendly and supportive call from Caitlyn Jenner, a former Olympic decathlete who came out as transgender last year.

One of the most contentious issues confronting delegates when they meet Monday to debate the platform will be whether to adopt a provision defending state laws that try to prevent transgender people from using the public restroom of their choice. At times Trump has criticized those laws. And he has said Jenner can use whatever bathroom she prefers at his properties.

But he has also promised not to interfere with the platform, which serves as the party’s official declaration of principles.

Even as Trump keeps his distance from the debate, other Republicans who share his more accepting view of gay and transgender issues are working aggressively to tone down some of the platform’s language. 

The existing platform, adopted in 2012, is replete with disapproval of homosexuality.It calls court decisions favoring same-sex marriage “an assault on the foundations of our society” and accuses the Obama administration of trying to impose “the homosexual rights agenda” on foreign countries.

Paul E. Singer, a billionaire Republican who has financed gay rights battles across the country, is now funding an effort to write into the platform language more inclusive of gays, lesbians and transgender people. The goal of his group, the American Unity Fund, is not to get the party to endorse same-sex marriage but to add a more open-ended statement that commits the party “to respect for all families,” though there is still fierce resistance from the right.

“We don’t have to say we’re tolerant because we are tolerant of other views,” said James Bopp Jr., a member of the platform committee from Indiana who has long supported efforts to make the platform more strongly in favor of traditional marriage. Such language promoting tolerance, he added, would be “redundant and superfluous.”

Advisers for the American Unity Fund, who say they know they are fighting a steep uphill battle, argue that the Republican Party can no longer afford to alienate people on gay rights issues. “We’ve got to make room for people with diverse views on civil marriage,” said Tyler Deaton, the group’s senior adviser. “This platform doesn’t even make room for people who support civil unions or domestic partnerships or people who support basic legal equality.”
The Republican platform committee has long been dominated by some of the party’s most stalwart activists. And some of them have hardly been shy about their views.

There is Cynthia Dunbar of Virginia, who has compared the gay rights movement to Nazism. Hardy Billington, a committee member from Missouri, placed an ad in a local paper asserting that homosexuality kills people at two to three times the rate of smoking. And Mary Frances Forrester of North Carolina has claimed that the “homosexual agenda is trying to change the course of Western civilization.”

Bopp of Indiana recently wrote to delegates to say that the Republican Party has always opposed threats to traditional marriage “beginning with our opposition to the ‘twin relics of barbarism’ of slavery and polygamy in our 1856 platform.”

As dominant as those conservative voices have been, delegates who want to see a more inclusive platform are gaining seats on the committee.

Many of them believe the Republican Party needs to have a serious debate this year about whittling down a platform that has grown long and become riddled with special-interest additions.

Boyd Matheson, a first-time platform committee member from Utah, noted that at 33,000 words, the 2012 platform was “six or seven times longer than the Constitution.” Recent platforms have become, he said, “these laundry lists and litmus tests of ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt nots.’”

The party’s first platform in 1856 was fewer than 1,000 words.

As an alternative this year, Matheson proposed a 1,177-word document that he said adheres to the founding principles of the party, like equal rights and economic opportunity. It contains no mention of same-sex marriage or transgender issues. “That does not elevate the discussion we need,” Matheson said.

It is not the discussion Trump is eager to have, either. Asked in a recent interview about the platform, he declined to comment, saying only that he was “looking at it.”


February 18, 2016

Vote in VA. Indicates Generation Gap on Gay Rights


RICHMOND — Del. Mark D. Sickles’s hands shook and tears filled his eyes as he pleaded for fairness from colleagues, who shifted nervously in their seats.

“Your kids will be looking back on what you do today and how you vote on this bill,” the gay Democrat from Fairfax told them as he stood on the floor of the House of Delegates.

After an intense debate, the Republican-controlled House passed a bill Tuesday that would prevent the government from punishing discrimination against married same-sex couples, transgender individuals and people who have sex without being married.

But the vote hinted at a generation gap within the Republican Party on gay rights issues. In Virginia, all but two of the 10 Republican lawmakers who voted “no” or sat out a vote on the “Government Nondiscrimination Act” are younger than 53, the median age in the House.

“There’s a generational divide in terms of acceptance of the LGBT community being part of the norm. I understand that’s maybe changing quickly for people, but that’s the society we live in,” said Del. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach), 36, who is running for Congress.

Even though the Republican rebellion was small in number, it was significant for a caucus usually in lockstep on issues important to the GOP base. Democrats, who all voted against the bill regardless of age, seized on the moment as evidence that social conservatives are out of step with public opinion.

According to a statewide poll released last week by Christopher Newport University, a majority of Virginians said businesses should not be able to refuse service to gays and lesbians based on religious beliefs.

Among the Republican lawmakers who voted on the side of gay rights, most represent the Virginia Beach area, which heavily relies on tourism dollars, with the rest hailing from Richmond and Southwest Virginia. Republicans from Northern Virginia voted for the bill.

Former Virginia governor and former U.S. senator George Allen, once a staunch opponent of gay marriage, said he changed his mind after seeing young people embrace diversity when it comes to sexual orientation. Today, the 63-year-old Republican said he believes in equal opportunity, including gay rights.

“Young people are growing up in a different world than I grew up in,” he said in an interview. “And so to them, someone’s sexual orientation doesn’t affect them one way or another. Even conservative young people, it’s just not an issue for them.”

Polling data supports the view that younger Republicans have generally been more supportive of gay marriage than their elders.

After the Supreme Court affirmed gay marriage in all 50 states last summer, 55 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents under age 40 approved of the ruling, a national Washington Post-ABC News survey found.

But as the age of those surveyed increased, support for the ruling decreased: 31 percent of people 40 to 64 and 25 percent of those 65 and older did not approve of legalizing gay marriage.

In his floor speech before Tuesday’s vote, Sickles made the case that corporations that power Virginia’s economy have decided embracing gay rights is good for business.

[Religious freedom or license to discriminate?]

In response, Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) said none of that matters when deeply held religious beliefs are under attack through shifting cultural attitudes.

“The activists who pursue same-sex marriage,” he said, “they are not satisfied with equality and they will not be satisfied until people of faith are driven out of this discourse, are made to cower, are made to be in fear of speaking their minds, of living up to their deeply held religious beliefs. They want us driven out.”

Gilbert, 45, is among the 20 relatively young Republicans who voted for the bill, but observers of the dynamic in the conservative House say a growing number of young Republicans are beginning to step out on gay rights issues.

“On issues such as gay rights, the demographic trends are pointing in a direction decidedly against the conservative positions, yet the older-generation leadership of the party is still wedded to the former consensus,” said Mark J. Rozell, dean of the School of Policy, Government and International Affairs at George Mason University. “The Republicans frankly haven’t figured it out yet.”

At least one Republican delegate who voted “no” said he was prepared to vote for Gilbert’s bill, but said Sickles’s floor speech changed his mind.

“When you look at some of the folks who voted ‘no,’ we view this as what the ’60s and ’70s went through with civil rights. It’s almost the same thing,” said Ronald A. Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach), who is 45.

Dissent is unusual in a chamber controlled by Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), 72, but his spokesman said divergent views are tolerated.

“Republicans in the House of Delegates all bring different experiences and perspectives to the General Assembly, and they all represent unique communities in a big and diverse state,” Matt Moran said. “The House is unified, but there are still a variety of viewpoints on many issues. That is integral to the success of a legislative body.”

Taylor and Villanueva sponsored bills with Democrats in the House this year that would have banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and in housing. Those bills never got a vote in committee.

But in the more moderate Senate, identical bills sailed out of committee to full floor votes and passage with the support of five Republicans, including state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Fauquier), who is 45.

“Bottom line is the commonwealth of Virginia should not be allowed to discriminate,” she said. “Period. Full stop. In my mind that is not a close call.”


December 16, 2015

Tunisia Sentences Three Young Men to 3 years on Gay Sex Charges


The movement for LGBT rights in Tunisia was dealt a heavy blow last week after six young men were imprisoned for three years on sodomy charges. The case has thrown human rights in the nation into the spotlight once again, especially as the men were made to undergo unscientific “medical” tests to find proof of their crime.

The men were detained after neighbors “denounced” them, according to their lawyer. The sentences handed down at a court in the city of Kairouan are the maximum allowed by law.

Private and consensual acts of sodomy are illegal under Article 230 of the Tunisian penal code. This sort of law is not unusual in the Islamic world, with homosexuality being illegal in most Muslim-majority countries and punishable by death in seven.

In September, a Tunisian court sentenced a man known only as Marwen to one year in prison for homosexuality after a “medical”exam. His case became a rallying point for gay rights protesters in the country, who launched a social media campaign behind the hashtag #FreeMarwen and raised important publicity. Tunisian actor and writer Mehdi Ben Attia also expressed his support for Marwen.


Bid to Legalize Homosexuality:

Tunisia’s Interior Ministry on Tuesday likened the nation's war on homosexuality to its counterterrorism efforts, amid a mounting bid by rights activists to overturn anti-gay laws.

“Our function is to make people respect the law, whether in an affair of customs or terrorism,” Ministry spokesman Walid Louguini told Tunisian radio station ShemsFM. Mr Louguini did not respond to a request for further comment from The Independent.

The comment followed a report by The Independent on the sentencing of six teens, ages 18 and 19, to three years in prison — the maximum penalty for homosexuality. Following reports from their neighbors in the central-Tunisian city of Kairouan, police found women’s clothing and condoms at their shared flat. The items were used against them as evidence.

The boys’ attorney, Boutheina Karkni, told The Independent that she had appealed the ruling and would argue for a reduced sentence but not to overturn the conviction. Ms Karkni agrees with the law, she said, because “God forbids” homosexuality.

Tunisian gay rights advocates have said they are looking for alternative representation for the teenagers, whom they say, regardless of the law, are victims of an attack on the civil liberties guaranteed them by the Tunisian constitution.

Five years after the North African nation’s revolution overturned the 23-year dictatorship of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and sparked similar calls for change across the region, civil liberties advocates are locked in battle with social conservatives to overturn Article 230 of the penal code, which prohibits consensual “sodomy”.

“As in countries like Morocco, Lebanon and France, we have several organizations ready to stand up for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights here,” Bouhdid Belhadi, spokesman for Tunisian gay rights advocacy group Shams told The Independent. In response to the sentencing on Thursday, Shams and other groups have been meeting to “build an infrastructure for communication and coordination” with other rights groups and sympathetic lawmakers over the fight for gay rights, Mr Belhadi said. Mr Belhadi added that the Interior Ministry has told his organisation that "tens" of people are currently in prison over homosexuality, but that authorities have repeatedly refused to specify the number and identities of the convicts.

The six teens in Kairouan and the case of another young man referred to in media as “Marwan,” who was sentenced to a year in prison in September, have added fuel to the movement in recent months, Mr Belhadi said. Amnesty International in September reported that Marwan had undergone a state-appointed doctor’s “anal exam” to prove he had anal intercourse. Gay rights advocates have indicated to The Independent that despite a lack of credible information coming out of the six teens’ trial, they have reason to believe they went under a similar test, but Tunisian authorities were not immediately available to speak on the matter with The Independent.

“Many groups and political parties have declared after the Marwan affair that they support gay rights — the Social Liberal Party, Human Rights Watch,” Mr Belhadi said.

The activists in coming days will endeavor to prove to lawmakers that Article 230 is unconstitutional.

"Yes, Tunisia is an Arab and a Muslim country. But in the preamble of the constitution, it says that the country accepts universal human rights," Badr Baabou, president of gay rights group The Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality (Damj), told The Independent. "Articles 21, 23 and 24 guarantee everyone is equal under the law and that the government must protect the private lives of people. But in this case, the state has entered itself into people's private lives."

Mr Baabou also hopes to convince fellow Tunisians that homosexuality is not un-Islamic. Damj religious scholars have found that the Qur’an never specifically prohibits homosexuality, even it says that anal sex is a sin, Mr Baabou said.

Despite their support in civil society and among leftist politicians, Mr Belhadi says their chief task is getting allies to come out of the closet themselves.

“There are many people who are afraid to say they support homosexuals because of the law because of social conservatism,” he said. After an interview on Tunisia’s Nessma TV, Mr Belhadi says he has continuously received death threats from what he described as Salafists.

November 10, 2015

Is the time to take the “T" out of LGBT Coming?


I have been listening to a drum roll that gets louder slowly but surely. It is the reasoning that transexuals with gay, lesbians and bi’s don’t mix. I hear this noise coming mainly from both gays and transexuals but lately I read more gay bloggers saying gay and transexuals don’t mix because both have different views and needs from the political establishment. Actually I have always thought so but in the name of equality and having more power in the political establishment mixing the four categories made sense (many places in Europe you have a fifth category Q for queer). So actually this is coming from the American part of the Gay vs Transexuals.

Gays see themselves as men and they are happy with the realization that being a man has nothing to do with sexual attraction. The manlier the man the more attractive he seems to other gays (I’m generalizing here). On the other hand Transexuals don’t see themselves as the sex that they are and their fight is to become the sex they believe they really are in their brains. They mainly want to change their sex or if they can’t or wont they want to dress and behave as that sex they believe they are. Once this is accomplished particularly if there is a sex change operation then they become that sex and they want nothing to do with gays with the fear that they might be seen as connected to each other. Even before there is a sex change operation the mere mention that they might be gay will bring a fast corrective indicating they are not 'gay'.

A good example of the distance separating transsexuals from gays is represented by now Caitlyn Jenner who had a hard time accepting gay marriage for gay men. Not withstanding she was walking around with a penis between her legs most of her life and being fought for by the gay rights community still she though of herself not just different but better that she could get married once her operation took place and gay men could not,  even though they were not changing any part of their anatomy to ask for equal rights.

Unfortunedly others in her situation think the same way. No I don’t have a way to tell how many but even some transexuals wont deny that.

Another aspect of the Transexual community that bothers some gays is the transformation from a quiet closeted community to a very outspoken, loud,  militant community. Many gays will say that this is because of the work gays have done in the political battle field that have made them feel more secure to come out and expose the good, bad and ugly. They will tell you there would have been laws protecting gays and lesbians way back if it wasn’t for the “T” they were carrying. They will point out to compromises made in the Democratic camp in which many congressmen and senators were willing to vote for the GL&B but not for the T because their constituents knew nothing about them and were scare of them.  Many gays also complaint of the militancy and sometimes the taking up of violence once offended one way or the other.

This is a subject that is very touchy with both communities because of the fear that a split would mean that there would be less political power when we still have a lot anti gay discrimination. Many gays say that they will not leave the Transexuals behind. Be what it will, that cat is coming out of the bag ever so slowly but is coming out and may be is time that everyone put their cards on the table.

One thing to rattled many gays just happened recently with the released of the movie “Stonewall.”  a contributor of the Federalist has written an interesting piece on the subject and I enclose it below.
Adam Gonzalez
Several months ago, I reported on a growing schism between parts of the gay and trans communities regarding the history of the 1969 Stonewall riots, the seminal event of the gay-rights movement.

LGBT and trans advocates called for a boycott of the movie “Stonewall,” complaining that trans women and people of color were the true heroes of Stonewall, not the gay, white men depicted in the Hollywood version. Although opponents of the film offered almost no historical evidence for their claim, the boycott worked, and “Stonewall” performed miserably at the box office.

That is not the end of the story. This past week, a petition emerged on the website calling for the removal of the T (for trans), from LGBT. “Drop the T,” as the petition is known, criticizes more than the trans community’s appropriation of Stonewall’s legacy. The author of the petition also attacks how the trans movement treats children and its aggressive and authoritarian style of discourse, which does not allow people to question its claims.

The petition, which has more than 1,200 signatures at the time of this writing, was written by an anonymous gay man. I tracked him down, and he agreed to be interviewed. Clayton (not his real name) asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation from the trans movement.

The following interview took place via email on Saturday. It has been lightly edited for length and house style. Thus far, two of the five organizations to which the petition was addressed (Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Human Rights Campaign) have responded. Both responses are short, dismissive, and fail to address the concerns of Clayton and the other signatories.

Federalist: How big a role did the Stonewall controversy and the appropriation of the Stonewall story by the trans movement play in your decision to start this petition?

Clayton: It was a very important role. I was a history buff as a child and eventually majored in history in college; when I hit puberty around 11 years old and realized I was gay, part of coming to understand myself was through reading as much history as I could find about gay men and women; naturally, the subject of the Stonewall riots loomed large.

When the brouhaha over the film ‘Stonewall’ first ignited, I was stunned to see the transgender crowd taking sole credit for it.
The majority of rioters were young, gay white men, with a handful of black and Latino men, some lesbians and a few drag queens. When the brouhaha over the film “Stonewall” first ignited, I was stunned to see the transgender crowd taking sole credit for it; even more frustrating was the fact that gay/lesbian media, such as The Advocate, Out, HuffPost Gay Voices, and their journalists who should know to check their facts (and these are easily verifiable facts), allowed this myth to flourish.

It was maddening and frustrating. The identity of the individual who threw the first brick isn’t (and probably won’t ever be) convincingly confirmed, though it is acknowledged that it quite possibly was Marsha P. Johnson, a transvestite, who, it should be noted, still identified as a gay male at the time; and it should also be pointed out that the handful of drag queens who were present at the riots were not transgender as we know them today—straight men who have transitioned to presenting as women. Statements I’ve seen such as “the gay rights movement owes its existence to transgenders” are completely false.

Federalist: I was at the Stonewall twenty-fifth anniversary march in 1994, and at that time we all thought we had a pretty good idea of what had happened at Stonewall. The Stonewall veterans— mostly gay, white men—were viewed as heroic. In the new version of events, the gay, white men at the riot are presented as weak followers, not primary actors. Why do you think so many established gay outlets have so easily accepted this narrative that echoes some of the worst stereotypes about gay men?

Clayton: I wasn’t able to go, but I remember the day clearly—I gathered with friends to watch it all day on C-Span and celebrate. It was wonderful. And, yes, we had a specific perception of Stonewall that has been massively altered by the media, although the historiography remains the same.

You can’t alter history to make you feel better.
It’s difficult for me to say why gay media has allowed this history to be re-written this way; we always acknowledged the role of the drag queens and the lesbian who called out for help for everybody else to fight back—but it seems as if this aspect has become the predominant theme, the story ends there and the fact that the white gay street kids DID start fighting back gets underplayed or thoroughly ignored.

I think there’s a general desire to find heroes in the past that aren’t the usual white guy, and I understand that completely, as a gay kid looking to find gay heroes in a heteronormative history myself. But you can’t alter history to make you feel better, and doing so by twisting a narrative so that heroic men become weak, dithering non-actors in an event is disrespectful to them and ultimately to yourself.

Federalist: Do you believe there are a significant number of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals who are uncomfortable with being associated with the trans movement, but who fear the social repercussions of saying so?

Clayton: Absolutely. Any attempt to rationally discuss issues that gays/lesbians/bisexuals are concerned about regarding the trans movement is met with unparalleled vitriol, harassment, death threats, and silencing—demanding that the person commenting contrary to the trans narrative be banned from forums, for example.

I know that lesbians have for several years been the object of attack from trans activists for their (rightful) desire to enjoy exclusively lesbian and women-only events such as the now shuttered Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, in the wake of the Stonewall brouhaha as well as the recent proliferation of stories about effeminate boys and masculine girls being directed by their parents and health professionals into the trans identity. So many gays and lesbians were “sissies” and “tomboys” as kids, I think they see themselves in these children and are concerned about them being directed down an inaccurate path.

Federalist: Do you then see a distinction between the gay rights movement, which has traditionally argued for acceptance of individuals as they are, and the trans rights movement which argues that hormones and surgery are often needed to fully transform a person into who they really are? Are these two basic arguments at odds with each other? 

Clayton: I think this is an absolutely important distinction that has not been discussed at all. Gay/bisexual men and women just ARE—we don’t need medicine or surgery to help us become who we believe we are, which is the case with the trans community.

We don’t need medicine or surgery to help us become who we believe we are.
To take it further, the first is about sexual and affectional orientation, who we are sexually attracted to and who we choose to share our love with; the latter is about gender identity, and altering one’s body to fit what one’s mind believes it should resemble. They are two very, very different ideas, and the problem that develops when we are all under the same umbrella is that so many of our enemies see us as one and the same—that Caitlyn Jenner, for example, is a “homo,” when that is not the case.

This is why I think the two groups should separate and fight for our respective rights on the more sure footing of our own ideas rather than conflating two divergent concepts.

Federalist: What kind of feedback has the petition been getting? I saw the tweet in favor from Milo Yiannopoulos and several tweets in opposition. Have people flagged the petition as inappropriate? 

Clayton: Based on comments I’ve seen at various forums around the net, I’m certain that it has been flagged, though I’ve not been notified of it. Articles about the petition have popped up on various gay blogs such as JoeMyGod and Gay Star News and, frustratingly, they are negative, although many of the comments are supportive.

The LGB movement has always been about expanding and re-defining concepts of gender.
A tweet by Milo Yiannopoulos (Nero) is probably what brought more attention to it, as he is a widely followed gay conservative columnist—which is ironic, since I’m not conservative in the least. I’m a socialist atheist gay man who is pro-choice, against the death penalty, and hoping we get real gun control.

To me, the LGB movement, with its celebration of all types of gay men and women, such as bears, leather daddies, drag queens, diesel dykes, lipstick lesbians, etc., has always been about expanding and re-defining concepts of gender; the trans movement, on the other hand, appears to be about re-asserting and codifying traditional concepts of gender.

Federalist: The gay rights movement made the great strides it did in no small part by emphasizing normalcy. The focus on marriage and adoption was a kind of “we want what you want” approach that was very successful. Do the more radical claims of trans advocates threaten that normalcy by placing everyone in boxes based on varying difference and levels of oppression? 

Clayton: It’s quite ironic to me that a generation that allegedly objects so much to labels has turned around and created the most expansive collection of labels there are: transgender, bigender, pangender, agender, genderfluid, genderqueer, etc. And then these self-applied labels are used to create a competition of oppression, where one wrong word can lead to a spewing forth of vicious invectives by the so-called oppressed.

These self-applied labels are used to create a competition of oppression.
Gay men and women succeeded partly because we expressed the desire to be treated equally—so that we could serve in the military, so that we could marry the people we love, etc.—and because we came out to our friends and families as what we are, just regular people trying to get through this journey called life; however, we did occasionally get pretty radical, too: the “zaps” of the 70s transformed into the absolutely necessary actions of Queer Nation and ACT UP in response to the AIDS crisis of the 80s.

But the important factor there was that the activists were, again, simply demanding that we be treated equally and the hetero audience could, in the end, understand that. My concern is that trans activism, which does not align with that of the larger gay/lesbian/bisexual community, is so radical and alienating—the insistence on access to women’s private spaces, the transitioning of young children who likely are just gay/lesbian/bisexual kids—that it will harm the community as a whole.

I wish no harm to the transgender community; I wish them all the happiness that life can offer. But our communities, linked together in such a slender fashion, no longer have a common ground, if we ever did in the first place.

David Marcus is a senior contributor to the Federalist and the Artistic Director of Blue Box World, a Brooklyn based theater project.

May 7, 2015

For Gay Rights, Keep Calm is Not Over Yet


Nearly a year after the cities of Miami Beach and Orlando passed resolutions in favor of gay marriage — and five months after same-sex couples began marrying in Florida — the Miami-Dade Commission has at last weighed in on the issue.
In less than two months, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide gay marriage once and for all. But on Tuesday, Miami-Dade commissioners passed a symbolic resolution — just barely on a 7-5 vote — in favor of same-sex marriage and against the state’s 2008 constitutional marriage ban.
Michelangelo Signorile
 Michelangelo Signorile JAYNE WEXLER

“We voted. Now I know that fads change. I know it’s hip and cool now to embrace certain issues,” Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo said at the meeting. “The reality is no matter what man says, no matter what a court says, marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s the way it was designed.”
Bovo also spoke out last year against adding gender identity and expression to the county’s existing nondiscrimination law. In December, the commission voted 8-3 to add the protections and this year some social conservatives sought the Florida Legislature to repeal the portion of the law that allows trans men and women to use public restrooms of their choice.
“Florida is an example of how they’re going to keep trying. Everyone says they’re going to give up. They're not going to give up. They just keep fine tuning and rebranding. Regrouping. Finding a way that works,” said longtime LGBT rights activist Michelangelo Signorile, author of the new book, It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, And Winning True Equality.
Signorile, an early advocate of outing and author of the 1993 book Queer in America, acknowledges that LGBT people have made “enormous strides” recently.
“We did get a lot of progress in a very short period of time. On some level, that had a lot of people spellbound. It’s intoxicating and we think we’ve made it. It’s inevitable,” he said, adding that the political wins have made some folks complacent about demanding even more. “I call it victory blindness, when people pull back because they think we’re winning and we should be winning much more.”
Many people are satisfied with winning gay marriage, “but they can be fired from their jobs or thrown out of a restaurant for holding hands. They get the message that there is a disconnect, they’re still suffering discrimination,” said Signorile, a popular host on SiriusXM Radio.
Signorile said many radio callers, particularly from Middle America, say they still experience discrimination.
“The phones would light up with people experiencing this,” he said. “Unfortunately, there is a sort of focus by the LGBT groups, particularly in Washington, on those wins and not focusing on the bad news. Maybe it's fundraising, or wanting to look powerful, but there is a decision to focus a lot of times on the wins and not take on the other battles.”
He points to recent laws passed in Arkansas and Indiana that some conservatives say protect religious freedoms and some liberals say are discriminatory and antigay.
“Now, we’re seeing an attempt to claim that the gay activists are somehow pushing their agenda onto religious people,” Signorile said. “They know that just calling gays perverts and sinners and attacking that way doesn’t work [anymore]. It turns off a lot of people in the middle, independent. They now see gays as attackers of the First Amendment and taking away religious freedoms. They’re trying to turn themselves into victims.”
Said Signorile: “We’re the ones without protections.”
Signorile warns that “in 2016, anti gay forces are not going away.”
“It’s the job of the candidates and the activists to show younger people what the stakes are,” he said. “This is about their future. Do they really want to live in a world where they can get married and be fired from their jobs?”

Read more here:

February 2, 2015

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Gay Rights Campaign Ignored by Prince William


Benedict Cumberbatch’s gay rights campaign has appeared to have been snubbed by Prince William and Kate Middleton. The “Sherlock” star is one of the high-profile celebrities calling for the pardon of around 49,000 men who were prosecuted for their sexuality under the old gross indecency law, but the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge refused to sign the campaign.
Cumberbatch, who plays WWII codebreaker Alan Turing in the film “The Imitation Game,” has led a campaign seeking the pardon of the men prosecuted for being gay under the British “gross indecency” law. The petition was launched by Matthew Breen on, and has been endorsed by Cumberbatch and other artists and personalities, including actor Stephen Fry, civil rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, biologist Richard Dawkins, “The Imitation Game” director Morten Tyldum and Rachel Barnes, Turing’s niece.
As the petition cites as an example, Turing, who helped decrypt the Enigma code during the Second World War, was prosecuted for gross indecency in 1952. The then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued Turing an official apology on behalf of the British government in 2009. The mathematician was posthumously pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013, decades after he committed suicide in 1954.
There are an estimated 49,000 other men who were prosecuted for homosexuality as well, and they, too, deserve to be pardoned for the act that was considered a crime until it was repealed in part in 1967. Around 15,000 of those men are still alive.
“The UK’s homophobic laws made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable,” the letter, obtained by the Guardian, states. “It is up to young leaders of today including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to acknowledge this mark on our history and not allow it to stand.”
But William and Catherine have apparently washed their hands of the issue. A spokesman for the royal couple said that the issue is a matter for government, and they therefore would not make a comment.
Upon his conviction of gross indecency in 1952, Turing was given a choice between imprisonment and probation. He chose probation, which was conditional on his undergoing of hormonal treatment that amounted to chemical castration. He committed suicide two years later.

January 4, 2015

The way for 2015 Parents to Advocate for their Gay Kids

2014 was a monumental year in many ways for the LGBT population, especially for gay parents. Many states legalized same-sex marriage, the number jumping to 35 states. That is the first year that the majority of states allowed LGBT couples to legally marry. However, there is still more work to be done, states such as Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee stuck with legislation that prohibits LGBT marriage. Other states such as Pennsylvania now have legislation that supports gay marriage, but have not enacted additional laws that protect the LGBT community, gay individuals able to be kicked out of restaurants, housing, and the workplace. 
While some LGBT couples can adopt and become foster parents, some states still ban gay people from adoption and fostering children. With LGBT parents still experiencing discrimination on many levels, there are still many things that you can fight for this year. Read on to see how you can advocate as an LGBT parent in 2015.
Same-sex marriage laws still need to change in 15 states, which leaves work for you to complete as an LGBT parent. Write a letter to your state senators that express your support for gay marriage, listing reasons why gay marriage is important to you. If possible, obtain signatures from other people in your neighborhood and local community.
You can also start petitions that call for anti-gay laws to change. Are you not sure how to start a petition? Then, visit the website, which will guide you through the petition process, including how to format one and get people involved. If you want to get more involved on a national scale, then join LGBT supportive groups, such as The Human Rights Campaign, the Family Equality Council, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
LGBT Bullying
Does your school district have a good anti-bullying policy that does not tolerate bullying? An effective bullying policy has the following components: a definition of bullying and types of bullying, the school’s policy on bullying, how perpetrators will be punished, and a process and explanation as to how teachers, educational staff, parents, students are to handle and report bullying. Presentations and in services that educate students and staff are also signs of a top notch anti-bullying policy.
If your child’s school district does not have an anti-bullying policy, then consider trying to start and implement one. Sadly, LGBT teenagers are still 40% more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual students. Many of these students have been subjected to in person and cyberbullying and worse yet, some students have succeeded in committing suicide, gay teenagers such as Jamey Rodemeyer and Tyler Clementi killing themselves after being bullied for their LGBT sexual orientation. Do your part this year. Call or write letters to school principals, school psychologists, and superintendents to discuss school bullying policies and ways that change can be implemented.
Does your state have national legislation to combat school bullying? If not, 2015 is the time to advocate for new laws. Again, pick up the phone or your pen and start contacting state senators, councilmen, etc. to make sure that your rights and the rights of your children are protected. Spread the word to other people who can also join the fight against LGBT bullying.
Boycott Anti-gay Companies
Are there companies in your area that support anti-gay laws and do not believe in same-sex marriage? The first stop to change is to boycott their products and get friends and family to follow suit. Why shop or support an organization that does not support you? If you are unsure about which businesses are LGBT friendly, then click on the Corporate Equality Index. 366 companies are given a score out of 100 that accesses how LGBT friendly the company is. 
Do you have some ideas on how to advocate for LGBT rights? Please share your ideas by leaving a comment on this page.

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