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

March 30, 2020

Senators Call on Federal Government to Ease Gay Restrictions of BloodDonations

A group of senators are calling on the federal government to lift policies restricting gay and bisexual men from giving blood amid a nationwide donation shortage. Currently, men who have sex with men must remain celibate for a year before they are permitted to donate.

The 15 senators sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday urging authorities to “shift away from antiquated and stigmatizing donation policies” to address a need for blood donations during the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“We must take every possible step to secure our nation’s blood supply in this critical time,” the senators wrote, advocating for donation policies that are “scientifically sound, based on individual risk, and inclusive of all potential healthy blood donors.”

As of March 16, the American Red Cross reported that social distancing and self-isolation to prevent coronavirus’ spread had resulted in the cancellation of 2,700 blood drives and 86,000 fewer donations. During a March 19 briefing of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, Surgeon General Jerome Adams called on all Americans to address this critical shortage by giving blood, saying that “one donation can save up to three lives.” 

Petition urges repeal of restrictions on gay donors amid blood shortage
Under regulations put into place in 2015, gay and bisexual men must refrain from sex for a year before they are permitted to donate blood. These guidelines, which were instituted under the Obama administration, replaced a 1983 rule that banned any man who engaged in sexual contact with another man from donating for life. That policy had been a relic of the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when little was known about the disease or how to test for it.

While the senators said the shortening of the deferral window to 12 months was a step forward, they argue that the current requirements don’t reflect “important advances in blood screening and safety technology” that have been made since 2015. As NBC News previously reported, the presence of HIV can now be detected in the bloodstream within a week of transmission.

That 15 lawmakers added that “a time-based deferral policy is not scientifically sound, continues to effectively exclude many healthy gay and bisexual men, and does not meet the urgent demands of the moment.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., the first out LGBTQ person elected to Congress, spearheaded the letter. Other signatories include Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

In a statement, Baldwin said she has “long fought to end discriminatory blood donation policies” as a federal lawmaker. She led similar pushes from the Senate calling on the FDA to rethink its blood donation policies in 2014 and 2016.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a nationwide blood shortage, and we must work to increase our nation’s supply based on science and facts,” she told NBC News. The FDA “needs to change their discriminatory blood donation policies to address this challenge and help save lives.” 
LGBTQ advocacy groups applauded this latest effort. In a statement, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said the FDA is upholding a “discriminatory policy that hinders so many healthy Americans” from helping others during a time of national need.

“There are thousands of healthy gay and bisexual men, as well as other LGBTQ people that this policy affects, who are willing and wanting to donate blood during this time,” Ellis said. “By relying on stigma rather than science, the FDA is not just harming members of the LGBTQ community, but all Americans.”

Earlier this week, GLAAD issued a petition pleading with the FDA to allow gay and bisexual men to donate without a time-based restriction, one that garnered over 10,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon. The petition notes that the 12-month window has been met with opposition from groups like the American Public Health Association and American Red Cross. In November, the Red Cross called for a three-month deferral “while further options are evaluated.”  

Currently, more than a dozen countries — including Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Spain — have no deferral period for gay and bisexual men. Instead, these countries use a risk-based assessment that evaluates donors based on specific behaviors. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, the country’s first openly gay governor, has been a longstanding critic of the U.S. policy. In 2015, he told Reuters that it was inconceivable that a “married gay man in a monogamous relationship can’t give blood, but a promiscuous straight man who has had hundreds of opposite-sex partners in the last year can.”

The Williams Institute, a pro-LGBTQ think tank at UCLA Law, estimates that evaluating donors on potential risk, not same-sex sexual activity, would result in an additional 360,000 donors each year.

In a statement to the LGBTQ newspaper Washington Blade, a spokesperson for the FDA claimed its guidelines for gay and bisexual blood donors “have not changed” but pledged it would “continue to re-evaluate the situation as the outbreak progresses.”

“FDA is aware there has been a dramatic reduction in blood and plasma donations around the country,” said the unnamed representative. “The agency is working with the blood banking and source plasma industries to encourage healthy people who wish to help to donate blood.”

November 13, 2019

Catholic School Threatens to Out Student to Parents Meanwhile The Students Walk

Courtesy photo
Magali Rodriguez
Students at a California Catholic high school staged a walkout Friday following a BuzzFeed News report that a gay classmate said she was singled out by school officials, who threatened to out her to her parents.
High school senior Magali Rodriguez attended Bishop Amat Memorial High School, the largest Catholic school in the Los Angeles area, for three years. The school has no written policy barring same-sex relationships, but Rodriguez said that once she began dating a female student she was forced into disciplinary meetings and counseling, and barred from sitting next to her girlfriend at lunch.
If she didn't follow these rules — which didn't apply to straight students in relationships — Rodriguez said school officials threatened to out her to her parents, who didn't know she was gay at the time.
Following the publication of BuzzFeed News' reporting on Rodriguez Thursday, Bishop Amat students organized a walkout in support of her Friday.
Several students BuzzFeed News spoke to Saturday said they hadn't heard about Rodriguez's experience prior to the article, and were shocked to learn how she was treated.
"I never would’ve imagined Amat to be an environment like this," said one student, who declined to be named. "Once I started to read about the article I was in full shock. I decided to walk out to stand up for her."
Rodriguez's parents eventually pulled her out of the school when they heard about how the staff was treating her. She now attends a different high school in the area.
The student who declined to be named said they staged the walkout during the seventh period until the end of the school day on Friday, about an hour and a half. The student said some teachers had commented that there were "two sides to every story," but none tried to stop the protest.


Bishop Amat students 
"I feel as if the principal knew they messed up. Before the bell rang for lunch he made an announcement saying he was aware of the news article," the student said, adding that counseling services were offered in the school's library for any students who had questions.
Because Rodriguez is now attending another high school, some of her friends called her via FaceTime, the student said, while others chanted for her and said a prayer.
About 200 students took part in the walkout, according to a second student who declined to be named because her mom didn't want her to talk about the incident. The student said teachers were supervising the protest but didn't try to shut it down.
"I decided to walk out because I wanted to take a stand," the student said. "I didn’t agree with what the administration did with the situation, and I feel like it was a good idea for the student body to stand as one to show our support for Magali." 
The school tweeted a statement following BuzzFeed News' original report, denying that it was intolerant of LGBTQ students and reiterating that "excessive displays of affection" are not permitted for students of any sexual orientation. (Rodriguez told BuzzFeed News she and her girlfriend were not publicly affectionate.)
"Bishop Amat High School is committed to providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students, irrespective of their sexual orientation," the statement reads.
Calls to the school were not immediately returned Saturday.

Please read this official statement from President Monsignor Carroll and Principal Richard Beck concerning the recent media reports involving our school.

View image on Twitter

Rodriguez's first encounter with the school regarding her sexuality came when she began dating her girlfriend in freshman year, at which point she said the school's dean told the couple that there had been complaints about their relationship, and that it was "wrong."
The dean informed Rodriguez that if she continued attending disciplinary meetings and sessions with the school psychologist, her parents would not be informed of her relationship, Rodriguez said. She said she was so scared of her family finding out that she and her girlfriend both agreed.
Rodriguez said despite the fact that the two were not publicly affectionate at school, she and her girlfriend were constantly watched. One staff member even approached the girls during summer school to tell them they were going to hell and that she was trying to get them expelled, Rodriguez claimed. 
Her grades and mental health suffered due to the school's scrutiny, Rodriguez said, so she decided out to speak up — after coming out to her parents in a letter.
"I really don't want it to happen to anybody else," Rodriguez told BuzzFeed News this week.
When Rodriguez's parents heard their daughter's story earlier this school year, they pulled her out of Bishop Amat and enrolled her in another local high school.
"They took it upon themselves to parent our daughter, to counsel her, to lecture her," her mom, Martha Tapia-Rodriguez, told BuzzFeed News.


Bishop Amat students
Multiple students BuzzFeed News spoke with described Rodriguez as kind and positive and said they were shocked to hear how she was allegedly treated by Bishop Amat staffers. 
"When I got to the school last year as a transfer I really had no friends, but once I met her she started to help me make friends," a Bishop Amat sophomore, who asked to be identified by his initials, D.G., said of Rodriguez. "She was one of my best friends that I can call at any time, so when I heard about all of this I texted her and once she told me that it was true, then I had to do something."

June 18, 2019

Taylor Swift Makes Surprise Appearance and Performance in NYC at The Stonewall

                               Image result for taylor swift

NEW YORK (AP) — Taylor Swift made a surprise performance at an iconic gay bar a day after releasing a song supporting the LGBTQ community.

Swift celebrated Pride Month by appearing at New York City's Stonewall Inn on Friday night. She released her new tune Thursday called "You Need to Calm Down," where she calls out those who attack the LGBTQ community.

The song is the second single from Swift's seventh album "Lover," which will be released Aug. 23.

Swift sang her hit song "Shake It Off" at the New York City bar with "Modern Family" actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who hosted the event.

Ferguson is working on a documentary about Stonewall Inn, where patrons resisted a police raid in 1969 and helped spark the gay rights movement. The bar is marking 50 years since the riots.

June 7, 2018

Kathy Griffin Honored For Her Support and Activism of LGBT Causes

Comedian Kathy Griffin shows off her Kate Spade handbag and dress before receiving a Rainbow Key Award from the City of West Hollywood, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in West Hollywood, Calif. Fashion designer Spade was found dead in her New York City apartment Tuesday in an apparent suicide, police said.

Kathy Griffin paid tribute Tuesday night to Kate Spade by dressing head-to-toe in the late designer's apparel to accept an honor for her activism and fundraising for LGBTQ causes.
Griffin did not personally know the designer but gave a brief tribute to Spade while accepting the Rainbow Key award from the city of West Hollywood, California. Spade was found dead in New York earlier Tuesday in what authorities said was an apparent suicide.
West Hollywood leaders recognized Griffin for raising more than $5 million for HIV/AIDS services and other LGBTQ activism. The award is part of an annual ceremony commending individuals who have made significant contributions to the LGBTQ community. Griffin is in the midst of a comeback following the controversy and personal and professional setbacks after she posed for a photo holding a fake dismembered Donald Trump head in May 2017. She initially apologized for the photo, but later rescinded it. By then, the damage was done, with Griffin losing several jobs and receiving death threats. 
West Hollywood leaders have expressed clear opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump's policies affecting the LGBTQ community, and Griffin delivered a fiery yet comedic speech in the city council chambers. Griffin called for action against Trump administration's policies, saying, "It's shirts and skins" and called for members of the community to pick a team.
She also defended Samantha Bee's comments about Ivanka Trump last week and said is urging her social media followers to support advertisers on Bee's program. She accused Trump of complaining to her father about Bee calling her a vulgarity and said she did not want the "Full Frontal" host to suffer.

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"I've been the person that daddy made pay and it's not going to happen anymore on my watch," Griffin said.
Griffin also envisioned a day when a gay president might occupy the White House, and she might be back in favor with the leader of the free world.
"So, when we have our first gay president, which I hope to see, I just want you to know that for all I've put up within the last 25 years, I better be invited to a state dinner and I want to stay in the Lincoln bedroom," she said. "I've put in my time."

Read more here:

January 8, 2018

Gay India's Prince Opens His Palace for LGBT Looking for Safety

 Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil Poses for  his painting

A gay Indian prince has opened up his 15-acre palace grounds to vulnerable LGBT people and is said to be constructing more buildings to house visitors.

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, who is the son and probable heir of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in Gujarat in western India, will run the center with his organization The Lakshya Trust.

The royal, who was ostracised by his family after coming out publically in 2006, started the community-based organization to support gay men and educate people about the prevention of HIV/Aids.

Homosexuality remains a big taboo in Indian society and sex between people of the same gender is punishable by law in the country.

The controversial Section 377 of the country’s penal code bans sexual activity that is “against the order of nature” and many have interpreted the wording to include gay sex. 

India declares freedom of sexual orientation a fundamental right
Speaking to the International Business Times, the prince said he was keen to empower people with the social security system they need to ensure they are left with nothing if their families disown them after coming out.

"If I could undergo these problems then any other gay person could face a similar situation,” he said.

"In India, we have a family system and we are mentally conditioned to be with our parents. The moment you try to come out you are told you will be thrown out and society will boycott you. You become a social outcast. A lot of people are financially dependent on their parents."
"I want to give people social and financial empowerment, so eventually people who want to come out won't be affected. They will have their own social security system. It won't make a difference if they are disinherited."

The prince’s coming out was breaking news all over India at the time and resulted in effigies of him being burned in his home state and people calling for him to be denied his title. On top of this, he was disowned and disinherited by his parents. 

Since then he has been the subject of BBC series Undercover Princes – a 2009 reality TV show which took three royals from their respective cultures and put them in Brighton where they were forced to “live and date”.

Prince Manvendra's charity provides counseling, clinical services, and support groups to thousands of men who have sex with men. Many of the men in question have yielded to cultural burdens to marry women despite their sexuality. 

The prince himself was forced into marriage in 1991 but has since said the relationship was "a total disaster". It resulted in divorce the following year. 

Prince Manvendra, who had a highly traditional and conservative upbringing, appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show back in 2007. He was one of three persons featured on the show titled “Gay Around the World”, saying he does not regret coming out and that he thinks the people living in his state admire him for the leading role he has taken in preventing and educating about HIV/Aids.

Last summer, India’s Supreme Court issued a historic ruling confirming the right of the country’s LGBT people to express their sexuality without discrimination. 

Judges in India ruled sexual orientation is covered under clauses in the Indian Constitution that link to liberty in spite of the government claiming there was no legal right to privacy. The ruling leads the way for discriminatory practices against LGBT people in the country to be challenged in the courts.

November 11, 2016

Warwick Rowers Dedicate Their {Bare Naked} Calendar to LGBT’s

The ally's role is going to be so crucial to holding the line for LGBT rights in the potential Trumpian authoritarian dystopia to come. The Warwick Rowers are an English rowing team comprised of both gay and straight men that release steamy nude calendars to raise funds for their Sport Allies charity, dedicated to fostering inclusivity in the athletic community. Their spokesman explains why their cause is more important now than ever before:

There has been a 147% increase in homophobic attacks post Brexit, and it seems likely the Trump vote will amplify this globally. These votes give bigots permission to dismiss the rights of anyone they see as outsiders. Never before has the LGBT community had greater need of its straight allies. Only they can prove beyond question that the battle for LGBT rights comes not from self-interest but from a belief in justice and human rights. And that we are not outsiders, but part of every family and every community.

The men of Warwick are releasing a new calendar for 2017 - it's muy picante and for an excellent cause - you can pick one up here. Watch the promo video below, and check out our own sexy photo shoot with the Warwick rowers here.

October 17, 2016

Germany Receives Gay Immigrants with Safe Shelters

A tall, muscular man walked across the lobby wearing large earrings, generously applied make-up and a light blue dress.

“Hello, it’s nice to meet you,” said Abdel, a transvestite from Iraq.

Welcome to Germany’s first shelter for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transvestite and intersex migrants.

It is hidden away on a quiet, leafy road in Berlin, where dozens of migrants are kept under round-the-clock security to protect them from fellow migrants hostile to homosexuality.

“I wouldn’t want to be in a shelter with straight refugees,” said Bashar Taha, an ethnic Kurd from northern Iraq. “It’s too dangerous. Many people from the Middle East are very homophobic — people get beaten and even killed.”

Stephan Jakel, a therapist and the centre’s manager, said: “Many of our residents are traumatised.”

Their plight highlights the difficulties Germany faces in integrating the 890,000 registered migrants it took in last year, some from places where homosexuality can be punished by death.

Most gay migrants coming to Germany hide their sexuality for fear of being attacked by compatriots, says Jakel. Others face such danger the state of Berlin has qualified them as people with “special reception needs”, along with children, disabled people and pregnant women.

Shocked by the violence, including stabbings, suffered by gay people at the hands of their compatriots in refugee camps, German authorities initially offered separate accommodation in hotels and private apartments but this proved too expensive. Now specifically designed shelters have caught on.

Once at the shelter, new residents get free medical care including, if requested, specialised treatment such as hormone therapy for transsexuals. The shelter, run by Schwulenberatung, Europe’s biggest gay help group, is luxurious compared with facilities in other parts of the country. Ultraliberal Berlin has invested heavily: annual running costs approach £900,000, not including therapy and legal aid.

Security guards, including a veteran of the Berlin nightclub scene, have been chosen with care; only those showing sensitivity to gay issues are accepted. With double bedrooms and spacious common areas fitted with designer furniture, the atmosphere is relaxed, reminiscent of a university hall of residence.

Migrants are offered language lessons. Among the phrases recently scrawled on the blackboard in German one day recently were: “I am gay” and “I want to have sex”. “The first thing they want to do is to start a normal life,” said Jakel with a smile.

Getting a job is not the “first priority” for them, he added. Even so, some of the shelter’s residents have acquired work as DJs and bouncers in gay clubs.

Taha, 25, was a successful make-up artist and pop star in his homeland. He decided to flee after being exposed as a homosexual and receiving threats on social media. “I Googled the situation for gay people in Berlin — and that’s why I came here,” he said.

Since fleeing to Germany, he is no longer in touch with his family. They had always objected to his work and lifestyle as “haram”, forbidden in Arabic.

“My parents don’t accept me as I am,” he said. “But I’m not going to change.”

Refugees at the shelter can join the karate club to learn self-defence. It may serve them well. Even among this community of the persecuted, fights over politics and religion have erupted — residents include Christians, Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims and atheists from countries such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Some have had to be forcibly evicted for aggression or drug use.

“We’ve set an iron rule: no talk of religion or politics,” said Jakel. “This might be a more open-minded group but in reality we also face the same challenges as any other refugee centre, or rather society as a whole.”

June 11, 2014

Law firms Rush to Get the Supremes case Next year on Gay marriage but only to defend it


 As U.S. lawsuits seeking gay-marriage rights move toward a likely showdown at the Supreme Court next year, major law firms are rushing to get involved — but only on the side of the proponents.
A Reuters review of more than 100 court filings during the past year shows that at least 30 of the country's largest firms are representing challengers to state laws banning same-sex marriage. Not a single member of the Am Law 200, a commonly used ranking of the largest U.S. firms by revenue, is defending gay marriage prohibitions.
These numbers and interviews with lawyers on both sides suggest that the legal industry has reached its Mozilla moment. The software company's CEO, Brendan Eich, resigned in April after being denounced by gay marriage supporters for a donation he had made in support of California's since-overturned gay marriage ban. Now in a similar vein, attorneys at major law firms are getting the message that if they want to litigate against gay marriage they should do so elsewhere.
Earlier this year Gene Schaerr, a partner at Winston Strawn in Washington, D.C., quit the 850-lawyer firm so he could represent his home state, Utah, in its defense of a ban on same-sex marriage. Schaerr, a Mormon, told colleagues in an email that became public that he was following his "religious and family duty." Schaerr declined to comment, as did a Winston Strawn spokeswoman.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 of the 50 U.S. states, and in the District of Columbia. Last June, in the milestone U.S. v. Windsor case, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman for purposes of federal benefits. Emboldened by that decision, gay and lesbian couples have launched at least 70 lawsuits calling for a broader right, and three cases have been heard by federal appeals courts.
In many of the cases, law firms filed friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of allies including gay-rights groups, law professors and big companies such as Amazon (AMZN.O), Google(GOOGL.O) and Starbucks (SBUX.O). In some cases, big law firms have made a larger commitment and are representing parties to the litigation. Virtually all are working for free or at cut rates as part of their "pro bono" programs to provide legal services they deem to be in the public interest.
The 850-lawyer firm Akin Gump, for example, sued the state of Texas last year on behalf of two same-sex couples and has filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the appeals cases testing Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia bans. The firm said it has donated at least 1,100 hours so far in the litigation.
States defending gay marriage bans are represented by state government lawyers, but some have also turned to outside counsel. According to the Reuters review, the private attorneys who have signed up to represent states or are backing allied groups with friend-of-the-court briefs are predominantly from religious and conservative organizations, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Beckett Fund, or are from small law firms.
Several lawyers opposed to same-sex marriage rights said they believed big firms would not litigate for that side even if attorneys asked to do so. They pointed to the example of Mozilla's Eich as an example of the pressures being faced.
Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for the group that defended California's ban when it was challenged by same-sex couples, said he considered big firms when searching for someone to argue the case. In at least one situation, Pugno said, a lawyer at a big firm was interested but partners refused to let him take on the work. He declined to identify the person or firm.
“I personally know many good lawyers in large firms who ... are terrified of speaking out even within their own firms,” said Pugno, who has a small firm near Sacramento, Calif. He declined to name any.
Opponents of gay marriage also referred to Paul Clement, the prominent Washington, D.C., litigator who quit his law firm, King & Spalding, in 2011 after it withdrew as counsel for a congressional group defending the federal law that defined marriage as between a man and woman.
In his resignation letter, which was made public, Clement said he acted "out of the firmly-held belief that representation should not be abandoned because the client's legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters. Defending unpopular positions is what lawyers do." Clement now works at a small firm.
Law firms are also sensitive to an annual "corporate equality" index published by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group. It awards points for such factors as benefits to same-sex partners and support for gay-marriage litigation, and docks those who oppose it. Most law firms get "100%" ratings, but in its 2011 index Human Rights Campaign rated the 900-lawyer firm Foley & Lardner "85%" and dropped it to “60%” the following year. Explaining its ratings in accompanying literature, the group said Foley & Lardner had chosen to represent “clearly discriminatory clients.”
During that period, the firm represented a group, National Organization for Marriage, that challenged the District of Columbia’s law allowing gay unions. The case failed, and the representation ended. In its next report, for 2013, the Human Rights Campaign raised the firm's rating to "100%." A Foley & Lardner spokeswoman declined to comment on the episode.
"Fear is a healthy motivator to do the right thing,” said Fred Sainz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign. “I’m not suggesting that the other side shouldn’t have attorneys. I’m saying we’re going to judge those attorneys."
Lawyers at major firms working for gay marriage say they feel a societal obligation. There is a "desire to advance an extremely important equality issue," said Kimberly Parker, chair of the pro bono committee at WilmerHale, a 1000-lawyer firm that filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of a gay-rights advocacy group in the Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia cases.
At WilmerHale, as at many firms, pro bono projects are typically proposed by individual lawyers and then screened primarily for possible conflicts of interest with existing clients.
Some law firms also say their efforts can be good for business, particularly when it comes to relations with corporate clients that have internal policies supporting gay rights, and in efforts to recruit young lawyers.
Theodore Olson, a partner at Gibson Dunn, argued against Virginia's marriage ban in May and has advocated for gay marriage since he and another top litigator, David Boies, challenged California's Proposition 8 in 2009.
Before that, Olson was best known for arguing on behalf of conservatives in major Supreme Court cases such as the one in 2000 that allowed George W. Bush to take the White House and the 2010 decision striking down major campaign-finance regulations in the Citizens United case.
Now, he says, potential recruits see him differently. “I had no idea how popular I would be on law school campuses,” he said, adding jokingly: “All of sudden, the monster I was from Bush v. Gore and Citizens United is gone.”
(Reporting By Joan Biskupic; Editing by Amy Stevens and Martin Howell)

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