State Department Changes Forms to Include Same-Sex Parents

As reported over the weekend, in late December, the State Department will modify applications for passports and birth records for children of U.S. citizens born overseas to reflect that both parents may be of the same sex.  The forms, which formerly asked only for information on a child’s  “mother” and “father,” will now request “mother or parent 1” and “father or parent 2”.  We applaud the State Department and Secretary Clinton for taking this important step to recognize the many different family structures in our nation, including those headed by same-sex couples.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Obama to Sign ‘DADT’ Repeal at Interior Department, Not White House

Interior President Obama will sign the 'DADT repeal bill at a 9:15 am ceremony on Wednesday at the Department of Interior, rather than the White House, according to a notice I received a few moments ago.

Ed O'Keefe at the Washington Post tweets that the reason for the move is "due to holiday decorations."


Towleroad News #gay

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Mississippi Sheriff’s Department Fired Corrections Officer For Being Gay. And It Finds Nothing Illegal About It

Because there is no federal or state law barring the firing of gays for being gay, the Forrest County Sheriff's Department in Mississippi believes it's perfectly in the clear for removing juvenile corrections officer Andre D. Cooley, who is suing the department with the ACLU's help, saying he was ousted in June when his supervisor found out he was in a relationship with another man after a domestic violence incident drew attention. Retorts the defendants, which include Sheriff Billy McGee, in a court filing that asks for a non-jury trial: Yeah, so?


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Queerty

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Take Two On The Prep Work I’m Doing To Get A Passport Under New State Department Rules

Apparently, I’ve got it wrong on passports for transgender people. Geez, I was wrong…what a surprise there! Emoticon: Roling on the floor, laughing

Seriously, my friend Abby, who in the brick-and-mortar world is an attorney, left this comment in the Pam’s House Blend thread for the The Prep Work I’m Doing To Get A Passport Under New State Department Rules diary.

Her comment:

I think you are misreading the State Department’s new gender change policy. The policy states:
A full validity U.S. passport will be issued reflecting a new gender upon presentation of the following: A signed original statement, on office letterhead, from the attending medical physician (internist, endocrinologist, gynecologist, urologist or psychiatrist) * * * stating the applicant has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender ….

(Section b(1) and b(1)(g), P. 2, emphasis added). In contrast, a “limited validity,” i.e., two-year, passport is issued when the physician is only able to state that “the applicant is in the process of gender transition to the new gender ….” (Section b(2)(b), P. 3, emphasis added). In other words, the two-year passport is for those who have not yet completed “the appropriate clinical treatment” necessary to obtain a full validity, i.e., standard 10-year, passport. (Of course, it’s important to note that it is between the trans person and her/his physician to determine what treatment is appropriate for her/him to transition, without interference or restriction by the State Department.)

I believe this is how NCTE, which worked closely with the State Department in developing this new policy, interprets it. NCTE’s recommended language for the physician’s statement recognizes this distinction, with the more limited language to be used by those applying only for the two-year passport. Thumbnail Link: NCTE: Understanding the New Passport Gender Change PolicySee NCTE, Understanding the New Passport Gender Change Policy, June 2010, p. 2. NCTE’s explanation also states, “If you are just beginning transition and need to travel abroad, you can obtain a two-year provisional passport.” (p. 1)

Obviously, you’re way beyond the beginning stage of transition and should have no trouble in obtaining a full validity passport showing your correct gender.

And on my Facebook page for the Pam’s House Blend article I wrote, there was this note from Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center For Transgender Equality:

I think there is some confusion about the difference between requirements for full ten year passports and provisional two year passports. Neither type requires “genital surgery.” Ten year passports require a letter saying you have had “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.” Technically, the provisional passport is for people who have not completed the aforesaid treatment. However, it is our interpretation that if you and your Dr. believe you have had appropriate treatment for you, even if that does not yet or ever include genital surgery, you qualify for a full ten year passport. I cannot imagine a specific circumstance in which a transperson should apply for a provisional passport.

Egads, I got this wrong. I was in part working off the Time Magazine‘s take on the new passport policy:

For decades, the State Department had required that transgender individuals, who identify with a gender other than their physical sex, have “sexual reassignment surgery” – a term that doesn’t have a clear definition in the medical community – before they were permitted to change their passport listing. Now a note from their physician stating that they have undergone clinical treatment for a “gender transition” will net them a new passport valid for two years. (Regular passports are good for 10.)

Okay, I have to get a new letter written with the phrase “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition” in it. Emailed my doc already, and I’ll have my new letter in January. Since it’ll probably take at least that long for my official birth certificate copy to arrive in the mail, getting a new letter won’t be much of a delay, but it has been another hoop to jump through. To quote a phrase I used often in the military: “Life is hard, then I whine.” Emoticon: Tongue out, smiling

So thank you, Abby and Mara — Getting my new passport under the new rules has been quite a learning experience. But, even though this is a difficult slog to get a new passport with a gender identifier that matches my gender identity, I’m quite aware that for many trans people in the United States, a passport may be the only path to getting an identification document with a gender identifier that matches one’s gender identity.

~~~~~

Related:

* The Prep Work I’m Doing To Get A Passport Under New State Department Rules

* BREAKING Blend exclusive: State Department issues gender change policy for passport applications

* Foreign Affairs Manual Requirements For Passport Change Of Gender
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Department of Health’s Roadmap Includes Focus on LGBT Community

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services’ issued Healthy People 2020, a set of goals and objectives to guide health promotion and disease prevention efforts in the United States for the next 10 years.  Healthy People is issued every decade, laying out benchmarks and objectives to measurably improve the health of the American people.  In Healthy People 2020, for the first time, the Department acknowledges that addressing the health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is critical to the overall health and well-being of our nation.  LGBT health is among thirteen new areas of focus in this year’s report, which specifically recognizes that LGBT people face significant health disparities, yet remain alarmingly ignored in the collection of health data and continue to face stigma and discrimination that negatively impact their health.

This is an important step forward for LGBT health – but it will require a strong commitment by HHS and the entire administration to fully include the LGBT community throughout the implementation of this decade-long health improvement strategy.  In 2000, Health People 2010 acknowledged that gays and lesbians experience health disparities, yet markedly little was done to address them over the last decade.  We thank HHS for greatly expanding and improving its consideration of LGBT health in Healthy People 2020 and look forward to working with them to ensure that this framework truly improves the lives of all Americans, including our community.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Department of Justice Appeals Judge’s Order That Lesbian Nurse Margaret Witt, Discharged Under DADT, Be Reinstated

The Department of Justice late this afternoon appealed a September ruling ordering the Air Force to reinstate lesbian flight nurse Margaret Witt, who was suspended in 2004, and ultimately discharged under the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.

The WaPo reports: Witt

"U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma ruled in September that Maj. Margaret Witt's dismissal under the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy violated her rights. Witt was suspended in 2004 and subsequently discharged after the Air Force learned she had been in a long-term relationship with a civilian woman. She sued to get her job back. The Justice Department filed the appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, the deadline for doing so. The government is also appealing a ruling from a federal judge in California that found the "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional."

The government, however, did not ask the court to stay the decision, suggesting that Witt may serve during the appeal.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released the following statement:

“Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in a case involving a legal challenge to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, as the Department traditionally does when acts of Congress have been held unconstitutional.  This filing in no way diminishes the President’s — and his Administration’s — firm commitment to achieving a legislative repeal of DADT this year.  Indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy.  In recent weeks, the President and other Administration officials have been working with the Senate to move forward with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, including a repeal of DADT, during the lame duck.”


Towleroad News #gay

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The Department Of Defense Is EVER So Pissed About The Leaked DADT Survey

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is furious about the leaked DADT survey and has launched an investigation to find its source. In the meantime, today the Pentagon issued a super-annoyed press release.

Secretary Gates is very concerned and extremely disappointed that unnamed sources within the Department of Defense have selectively revealed aspects of the draft findings of the Comprehensive Review Working Group, presumably to shape perceptions of the report prior to its release. The Secretary launched this review in March to objectively ascertain the impact of potential repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law on military readiness, effectiveness, recruiting, retention, unit cohesion and families. He made it clear then and throughout this process that it was ‘critical that this effort be carried out in a professional, thorough and dispassionate manner.’ He has also stated clearly that ‘given the political dimension of this issue, it is equally critical that…every effort be made to shield our men and women in uniform and their families from those aspects of this debate.’

For nearly nine months the Working Group has operated in strict accordance to that mandate. Anonymous sources now risk undermining the integrity of this process. The Secretary strongly condemns the unauthorized release of information related to this report and has directed an investigation to establish who communicated with the Washington Post or any other news organization without authorization and in violation of Department policy and his specific instruction. The full report will be made public for all to review early next month. Until then, no one at the Pentagon will comment on its contents.

You gotta wonder how much of a hand Tony Perkins had in this response.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Arkansas Department Of Education Condemns Anti-Gay Remarks Made By School Board Member Clint McCance

The Arkansas state Department of Education has issued a statement denouncing the anti-gay remarks made by local Independence County school board member Clint McCance, who used Facebook to celebrate the suicides of LGBT teenagers and the deaths of gay people from AIDS. The DOE’s statement does not appear in the above-linked Associate Press story other than their word “dismayed.”

The posting said to be from Midland School Board member Clint McCance came after last week’s nationwide move for people to wear purple ribbons in support of gay and lesbian youth. The posting, first reported on The Advocate’s website, said that the only way McCance would wear purple is “if they all commit suicide.” McCance couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday but told the Arkansas Times that the issue had been “blown out of proportion” and he plans to issue a statement later in the day. The Facebook page has since been disabled but a screen-grab remains on The Advocate’s website. The Human Rights Campaign has called for McCance’s resignation. The state Education Department’s statement Wednesday said it is “dismayed” over the posting.

A Little Rock-based television station is looking for McCance.

After receiving several emails alleging Midland school board member Clint McCance made disparaging remarks about gay students, Today’s THV is investigating the allegations. McCance is accused of posting on his Facebook page that several recent suicides of gay students across the U.S. were due to those students’ sin. He also allegedly made other comments bashing gays. Today’s THV has not confirmed McCance actully made the posts, but B.J. Steed is in Midland, which is just outside Batesville in Independence County, trying to contact McCance as well as other school board members. Today’s THV contacted Superintendent Dean Stanley’s office, but he is out until Friday. Midland Principal Donna Clark would only reply “no comment” to all our questions. In response to the comments on Facebook, someone set up another Facebook page calling for McCance to be removed from the board. THV’s BJ Steed will have more on this developing story on Today’s THV at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

MSNBC is reporting on the story as I type this. I’ll have video ASAP.

UPDATE: Here’s the statement from the Arkansas Department of Education.

The Arkansas Department of Education strongly condemns remarks or attitudes of this kind and is dismayed to see that a school board official would post something of this insensitive nature on a public forum like Facebook. Because Mr. McCance is an elected official, the department has no means of dealing with him directly. However, the department does have staff who investigate matters of bullying in schools and we will monitor and quickly respond to any bullying of students that may occur because of this, as we have with other civil rights issues in the past.

UPDATE II: The Advocate reports that McCance may keep his job.

“In Arkansas law, the only way to recall a school board member is over a felony [committed by him or her] or absentee issues,” said Julie Johnson Thompson, the director of communications for the Arkansas Department of Education in Little Rock. Thompson says McCance, as an elected official, answers to voters, not Midland school district’s superintendent. “[The Arkansas Department of Education] doesn’t have any control over his job,” Thompson pointed out.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Judge Phillips rules against Obama Department of Justice re: DADT Stay of Injunction

Gauntlet thrown down…

Today Judge Phillips ruled against the Department of Justice by denying its request for a stay of injunction in Log Cabin Republicans vs United States of America.  Below please find statements from the Log Cabin Republicans and White & Case on the ruling. The order denying the stay as well as the transcript from yesterday’s hearing are both attached.

Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans

“Judge Phillips is right to stand with servicemembers by rejecting President Obama’s request to continue this discriminatory policy,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans. “It is vital that as a nation we uphold the fundamental constitutional rights of all soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen.  As this past week has shown, our military is well-equipped to adapt to open service, and eager to get on with the work of defending our freedom.  As Commander in Chief, the president should drop his defense of a policy which he knows undermines military readiness and threatens national security.  The president has said that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will end on his watch, but is currently standing in the way of its demise.  Log Cabin Republicans will continue to fight this policy no matter how many obstacles he puts in the way.”

Dan Woods, White & Case

“We applaud Judge Phillips’s ruling denying the government’s request for a stay of injunction, as it brings us one step closer toward ending once and for all this unconstitutional policy that President Obama and Congress seem incapable or unwilling to end themselves,” said Dan Woods, White & Case partner who is representing Log Cabin Republicans in Log Cabin Republicans vs United States of America.  ”Meanwhile, homosexual servicemembers are fighting and dying today in two wars for their fellow Americans’ constitutional rights, while their own constitutional rights are being held hostage to an uncertain bureaucratic process that seems more interested in beancounting the trouble they would be put to from modifying their training materials than in protecting these servicemembers’ civil rights.”

SLDN:

Statement by Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:

“By the judge keeping the injunction in place, lesbian and gay service members are protected another day, but the uncertainty has not gone away.  The Department of Justice will immediately ask the 9th Circuit to stay the injunction.  We’re talking about the careers of patriots, people who are on the frontlines serving our country – some of whom are highly decorated – and the court needs to keep the injunction in place.  As the DOJ fights to keep this unconstitutional and oppressive law, we are monitoring active-duty clients’ cases and fielding calls every day to our hotline.  During this interim period of uncertainty, service members must not come out.  Our service members need finality.  Given the uncertainty in the courts, we urge the Senate to act swiftly next month on repeal when they return to Washington.”

Servicemembers United:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, issued the following statement today in response to District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips’ ruling denying the government’s request to stay her injunction:

“Given that seven days have passed since enforcement of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy was halted, those seeking to reinstate the policy have been proven flat wrong in their predictions of ‘enormous consequences.’ Judge Phillips recognized this contradiction in the Justice Department’s arguments and once again refused to abdicate her duty to reach an objective conclusion based on the evidence before her,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the sole named veteran plaintiff in the case along with the Log Cabin Republicans. “Once again, we call on President Obama to stop defending the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in court and we reiterate that it is the President, not the Attorney General, who has the final word on this decision.”

HRC:

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement:

“Judge Phillips once again did the right thing for our national security. We call on the administration not to appeal her decision. DADT is an unconscionable law that forces brave lesbian and gay Americans to serve in silence and has forced 14,000 patriotic Americans out of the military. The law is detrimental, not only to our national security, but also to the core American value of fairness.”

HRC urges all fair-minded Americans to sign an open letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, calling on him not to defend DADT at:https://secure3.convio.net/hrc/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=940

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

“Judge Phillips again rejected the government’s bunk that it’s necessary this discriminatory policy remain in effect any longer. She and the overwhelming majority of Americans have rightly concluded it’s time to make ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ a policy of the past. Our elected officials have diddled around and played the delay game as the careers of thousands of courageous, patriotic service members have been destroyed. Phillips said enough is enough, and we couldn’t agree more.”

Prop 8 Trial Tracker is also following.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

MISSISSIPPI: Sheriff’s Department Sued By ACLU Over Officer Fired For Being Gay

The ACLU is suing Mississippi’s Forrest County Sheriff’s Department for firing a corrections officer after learning he is gay.

On June 14, while at home and off-duty, Cooley called 911 after his boyfriend became physically violent. Among the officers who responded to the call was Chief of Corrections Charles Bolton, one of Cooley’s supervisors. After Cooley’s boyfriend told Bolton that he and Cooley were in a relationship, Bolton told Cooley not to return to work before speaking with his immediate supervisor. The next day, Staff Sergeant of Jail Operations Donnell Brannon informed Cooley that he was being permanently terminated. Cooley asked Brannon if he was being fired because he was gay, and Brannon responded, “Yes.” Cooley has never received a written explanation for his firing. He has never been charged or disciplined in connection with the domestic violence precipitated by his former boyfriend the day before he was fired. The official police report of the incident identifies Cooley as the victim. After firing Cooley, the sheriff’s department attempted to deny him unemployment benefits by alleging that Cooley had engaged in unspecified “inappropriate conduct and behavior while off duty, unacceptable for an officer.” But after a hearing, an administrative law judge concluded that the sheriff’s department failed to show that Cooley committed misconduct of any kind.

Another prime example of why we need ENDA.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright