Sally Kern protects Oklahoma LGBT youth

Posted on 08 Feb 2016 at 3:24pm
Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern

Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern

Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern pulled her bill from consideration that would have prevented school personnel from referring suicidal LGBT students to counseling without first contacting their parents. The effect of the legislation could have been outing students to their parents, possibly triggering a suicide.

Kern insisted pulling the bill had nothing to do with protecting the lives of LGBT students. The way the bill is worded, no student with questions about sexuality could be referred to a counselor without notifying the parent first.

Kern found out the bill would have the “unintended consequences that negatively affect the wonderful work of some 50 pregnancy resource centers across the state.”

So-called pregnancy resource centers main purpose is talking pregnant women out of having an abortion. Most provide little or no medical care and none give any assistance to mothers to care for a child after it’s born. Most will refer or arrange an adoption.

Apparently it’s better to prevent parents from knowing their daughters are pregnant, but more important is preventing the threat of parents arranging for their young teens to have abortions, which are so prevalent throughout the state with its massive network of abortion clinics — there are four including, well, none in Oklahoma City, the state’s capital and largest city.

And suicidal LGBT kids? Well, maybe Kern can reword her bill before the session deadline so she can narrow the harm she’s doing just to them.

Note: While we rarely cover out-of-state legislators as carefully as we cover Kern, this particular piece of work in the Oklahoma legislature gets our love because she referred to Dallas Voice as a source of evil in her book, The Stoning of Sally Kern, available from Amazon in hardcover, Kindle or Audio CD, and we love her for that. And why did we word the headline the way we did? Because it would piss her off. The alternative headline choice: Sally Kern really, really wants LGBT kids to commit suicide, but first she needs to prevent some abortions.

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Ted Cruz and his loony friends

Posted on 08 Feb 2016 at 12:33pm
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Cartoon by David Horsey/Los Angeles Times

Those of us in the LGBT community — or at least, most of us — already know that Ted Cruz is NOT the man for us when it comes to presidential candidates.

But if you were looking for any more proof — maybe you need ammo to convince a friend or family member from outside the community — just check out this political commentary by David Horsey with the Los Angeles Times that talks about the right-wing fringe dwellers that Cruz pals around with and that  endorsed his candidacy, starting with Mike Bickle, pastor at International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Mo.

Bickle’s that little ray of sunshine who predicts that in the “End Times” God’s gonna send out someone to hunt down and eliminate all the Jews that won’t convert to Christianity (Adolph Hitler much?), and has declared that Oprah Winfrey is part of a “harlot movement” that is facilitating the rise of the Anti-Christ (which, of course, is President Obama). He hates the gays, too, natch, and makes it clear that we are leading the march into hell.

Then there’s Bob Vander Plaats, head of Iowa’s Family Leader. Bob praises Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws and claims that the “Satanic plot” of same-sex marriage will lead to parents marrying their children. (Seriously Bob?! Maybe somebody should tip off Iowa’s child protective services to go check up on your kids.)

And let’s not forget Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson, who said at a recent rally for Cruz that the forces of right-wing righteousness need to “rid the earth” of progressives who believe in “wicked, evil” things like equality for LGBT people.

There’s more. And Horsey lists ‘em out for you, winding up with Ted’s own dear ol’ dad, Rafael Cruz. Check it out and commit it to memory. You may need the ammo when you start trying to explain why Ted Cruz is so dangerous.

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New York Governor announces actions limiting reparative therapy

Posted on 08 Feb 2016 at 12:13pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this weekend he is taking steps to protect LGBT youth from the practice of reparative therapy.

Cuomo is the first governor to use his executive authority to protect LGBT youth from this widely denounced practice, also called conversion therapy.

Cuomo’s actions authorize three state agencies to limit access and coverage of the practice and revoke the licensure of therapists who violate the law. State Department of Financial Services will issue regulations prohibiting insurance providers from covering conversion therapy on patients under the age of 18.

The state Office of Mental Health will prohibit mental health providers from using conversion therapy on youth under the age of 18, and violations of these important protections will result in revocation of licenses.

The state Department of Health will also ensure the practice is not covered by the state’s Medicaid plan.

“No young person should be coerced or subjected to this dangerous so-called therapy, which has been linked to youth substance abuse, depression, homelessness and even suicide,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.

“The regulations announced today are historic, not only representing the first time a governor has taken executive action to protect youth from conversion therapy, but also ensuring that protection doesn’t stop when they turn 18,” said the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ #BornPerfect campaign coordinator and staff attorney, Samantha Ames in a statement.

Proponents of conversion therapy argue they can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Though widely discredited by every major medical and mental health association, including the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association, some therapists continue use the practice.

Last April, the White House called for an end to the practice. A bill to bar the practice in Texas, filed by state Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, died during the past legislative session.

Six other jurisdictions have taken action to end this dangerous practice on minors. Laws banning conversion therapy have been passed in California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, and Cincinnati, Ohio.

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amfAR GRAPHICS: HIV among gay black men

Posted on 08 Feb 2016 at 9:45am

After our story Good news, bad news: HIV diagnoses decreasing among African-Americans, but black gay men still 3 times more likely to be infected as white gay men ran, amfAR sent us these graphics depicting the severity of HIV infection among gay black men. HIV disproportionately affects this community across the south.

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AHF’s Melvin Slack does National Black HIV Awareness Day Speak Out video

Posted on 07 Feb 2016 at 9:00am

Speak Out Ambassador Melvin Slack talks about the process of accepting himself after finding out he was HIV positive.

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Mexican Supreme Court decision could lead way to marriage equality

Posted on 05 Feb 2016 at 4:14pm

olga-sanchez-corderoA decision by the Mexican Supreme Court could pave the way to marriage equality in all 32 of its states according to the Yucatan Times.

The Mexican Supreme Court ruled unanimously in January the state of Jalisco cannot deny the right to marry to same sex couples.

The court found restricting marriage between one man and one woman “was unconstitutional because it undermined the self-determination of the people and against the right to free development of the personality of each individual.”

The court added Jalisco “generated a violation of the principle of equality, because from that purpose, a differential treatment of homosexual couples compared to heterosexual couples arose, to exclude the possibility of marriage.”

Justice Olga Sanchez Cordero told a news agency that states should take heed and ensure other similar rules barring same-sex marriage were not found unconstitutional.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in six of Mexico’s 32 states.

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Vigil planned for slain Austin trans woman Monica Loera

Posted on 05 Feb 2016 at 3:17pm
Monica Loera

Monica Loera

Transgender rights advocates in Austin are planning a rally and vigil for 7 p.m. next Friday, Feb. 12, to honor murdered trans woman Monica Loera, the first transgender person murdered since the start of 2016. The location of the rally has not yet been determined.

Loera was shot to death Jan. 22 outside her North Austin home by a man she had been arguing with, according to police reports. JonCasey William Rowell, 29, was arrested and charged with first degree murder in connection with her death.

News of Loera’s murder was not publicized in the LGBT community for several days because police and Austin media initially misgendered Loera, referring to her by her pre-transition name, and circulating a driver’s license photo of her also taken before she transitioned.

The Facebook page announcing the rally and vigil, hosted by The Revolutionary Alliance of Trans People Against Capitalism, reads, in part: “Fear. Anger. Resignation. Sorrow. These are understandable emotions facing trans people and sex workers upon the news of the murder of sister Monica Loera. Austin has become home to ‘the first trans murder of 2016.’ And the disposability of this working-class trans Latina was only further exposed by her callous and disrespectful treatment even in death by the Austin Police Department and the media in a campaign of misgendering, deadnaming, and erasure — treatment which has long-been cornerstone to the death of trans women.”

The post continues: “When we say REST IN POWER, that is not a given thing. It is a resolution. It is a resolution that we will bring the memory of Monica Loera and so many others into power. It is a resolution that we will not only remember, but that we will weild each name of our dead as a sword in organizing against the systemic and devastating gridwork of economic, state, and social violences facing trans women, people of color, and sex workers. It won’t stop until we stop it.”

Calling the community to “mourn our dead and fight like hell for the living,” organizers promised to finalize details of the rally and vigil soon, adding that anyone willing to help, to speak or collaborate in staging the event should message the Facebook page.

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Martin Shkreli invokes the 5th Amendment, acts like a dick before Congress

Posted on 05 Feb 2016 at 2:13pm

Screen shot 2016-02-05 at 1.20.02 PMMartin Shkreli — the hedge fund manager who jacked up the price of a drug used by some HIV patients by 5,000 percent to $750 a pill — smirked, laughed, and grimaced before a hearing of the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform yesterday, Thursday, Feb. 4.

Shkreli appeared before the committee following his December arrest. He is accused of securities fraud and those charges are unrelated to the manipulation of drug prices.

Throughout the hearing, Shkreli invoked his 5th Amendment right to not testify as “a witness against himself.” But he was hardly quiet or humble. On camera, the 32-year-old was seen laughing, yawning, turning his head away from committee members and dismissing questions.

Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, asked Shkreli if he would admit he was wrong if asked by someone living with AIDS who relied on the drug Daraprim, according to Reuters.

Shkreli declined to comment.

After South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy suggested he could answer non-incriminating questions, like how to spell his name, Shkreli declined.

“I intend to follow the advice of my counsel,” Shkreli said, “not yours.”

Shkreli looked away even when Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings pleaded with him to apologize and use the opportunity to become an advocate for patients.

“I truly believe – are you listening?” Cummings asked at one point.

At the advice of his counsel, Shkreli answered, “Yes.”

After the hearing Shkreli tweeted “Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.”

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Trump promises to ‘bring people together,’ even the LGBT people, if he is elected

Posted on 05 Feb 2016 at 1:57pm

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After having the Iowa caucus win stolen from him by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump headed to New Hampshire this week to try and improve on what polls say is his double-digit lead headed into next Tuesday’s primaries there. And Sue O’Connell with NECN’s (New England Cable News)  Broadside show was there to interview him live on camera.

O’Connell, who is a lesbian and also co-publisher of the LGBT newspaper Bay Windows, did manage to ask Trump if the LGBT community can expect more “forward motion” on our issues, but got only a vague “bring people together” in return.

After noting that she is a lesbian and that the LGBT community has seen great progress on civil rights and equality issues in recent years, O’Connell asked: “When President Trump is in office, can we look for more forward motion on equality for gays and lesbians?”

“Well, you can,” Trump responded. “And we’re gonna bring people together. That’s your thing. Other people have their thing. We have to bring all people together, and if we don’t we’re not gonna have a country anymore. It’s gonna be a total mess. It’s a mess right now but it’s gonna be even more of a mess.”

Then Trump declared his love for the people of New Hampshire and pledged that once he is elected he will solve “the heroin problem, the drug problem” in New Hampshire that he’s heard so much about, and that he will do that by building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Watch the 6-minute-18-second interview here.

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Dallas County JP refuses to conduct same-sex weddings

Posted on 05 Feb 2016 at 10:48am
Dallas County JP Bill Metzger

Dallas County JP Bill Metzger

Dallas County Justice of the Peace Bill Metzger wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday that he will only conduct marriages between a man and woman.

“Because of my faith in God as a devout Catholic, I will only be conducting traditional marriages,” Metzger’s wrote.

He cited a nonbinding opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued last June that county employees, including clerks and judges, may refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if issuing those licenses would go against their “deeply held religious beliefs.”

But retired Dallas County district judge John Cruezot told WFAA Metzger’s position may not hold up to a legal challenge.

“You don’t have to do any marriages, nobody can compel you to do a marriage,” Cruezot said.  “However, once you take on one set of individuals, you have to do it for everyone.”

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan has also issued an opinion, following the Obergefell decision last summer, countering Paxton’s opinion.

“A judge or justice of the peace is authorized to perform a marriage but is under no obligation to do so. However, once the judge elects to undertake the performance of marriages, the service must be offered to all (including same-sex couples) in a non-discriminatory manner,” Ryan wrote in his opinion.

During the summer, some county clerks around the country initially refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on their religious opposition to same-sex marriage.

Hood County Clerk Katie Lang in Texas posted on the front page of her website, “I will be not be issuing same sex marriage license’s due to my religious convictions.”

Lang later relented, saying she would personally not issue licenses but that someone in her office would.

Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis, defying multiple court rulings, was jailed for refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples based on her religious convictions.

Davis’ supporters tried to compare, wrongfully, Davis to Dallas County District Judge Tonya Parker who announced in 2012 she would not perform weddings for any couple

But as my colleague David Taffet explained, Parker is not required to perform marriages; Davis is required to issue licenses:

Tonya Parker was elected to be a judge of the 116th Civil District Court. That court hears cases involving civil rather than criminal or family matters in which damages involved are more than $200. As a perk of her office, Parker may perform marriages. Performing marriage is not a duty of her office. She was elected to hear civil cases in her court.

Kim Davis, however, was elected to issue vital documents. That’s what a county clerk does. Kentucky law doesn’t say she may issue marriage licenses. Kentucky law says that’s what a county clerk does. She doesn’t get to issue them as a perk or if she decides to issue them. To refuse is refusing to do her job.

Metzger’s decision has yet to be challenged in court.

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