Obama signs executive order banning discrimination

Barack ObamaPresident Barack Obama signed an executive order this morning barring federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law estimates that the order would protect nearly 34 million employees nationwide, or about one-fifth of the nation’s workforce.

A fact sheet provided by the White House cites wide-ranging public support for barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

You can read the full text of the order here.

Check out the video here:

—  James Russell

Transgender news briefs

Trans woman murdered in Baltimore

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Mia Henderson

Baltimore City Police announced July 16 that they are investigating the murder of trans woman Mia Henderson, sister of NBA player Reggie Bullock. Henderson, 26, is at least the second trans woman killed in Baltimore in as many months. According to a press release from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, her murder is “the latest in a string of Baltimore area homicides in the last two months in which transgender women have been killed.”

Baltimore police Investigators said officers serving a warrant just before 6 a.m. in the 3400 block of Piedmont Avenue found Henderson’s body in an alley. They said the victim had “suffered severe trauma.”

Police said it was too early to tell if the case is related to a similar one a month ago in which another transgender woman was killed. The body of 40-year-old Ricky Hall, known as Kandy, was found stabbed on June 4 in a field near Coldstream Park Elementary-Middle School in northeast Baltimore, according to reports by WBALTV News 11.

 

USDA adopts trans protections

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has added gender identity protections to its federal nondiscrimination regulations regarding programs or activities conducted by the department. This makes USDA is the first federal agency to issue regulations banning gender identity discrimination in all activities conducted by any employee of the department, according to an NGLTF press release issued today.

“Fifteen years ago, the USDA paved the way on federal rights for LGBT people by becoming the first agency to add sexual orientation nondiscrimination protections. Yesterday, the USDA once again demonstrated their leadership and commitment to equality by extending nondiscrimination protections to transgender people in every program the department operates,” NGLTF Executive Director Rea Carey said.

 

Report: Nearly two-thirds of Massachusetts trans people suffer discrimination

The Fenway Institute and Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition have released their Project VOICE report on transgender discrimination in public accommodations, which found that nearly two-thirds of trans residents of Massachusetts have experienced discrimination in a public accommodation setting in the last 12 years. Those experiencing discrimination were nearly twice as likely to report adverse physical and mental health outcomes, the report indicated.

The state’s Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act, passed in 2011 and implemented in 2012, does not cover public accommodations.

Other findings reported in the study include:

• Overall, 65 percent of respondents reported discrimination in one or more public accommodation settings in the past 12 months.

• The five most prevalent settings in which discrimination was experienced were transportation (36 percent), retail (28 percent), restaurants (26 percent), public gatherings (25 percent) and health care facilities/services (24 percent).

• Those reported incidences of discrimination had an 84 percent increased risk of adverse physical symptoms, such as headaches, upset stomach or pounding heart, in the last 30 days and 99 percent increased risk of emotional symptoms in the past 30 days.

• 28 percent of respondents reported they had not seen a doctor in the last year.

• 29 percent reported having to teach their health care provider about transgender health issues in the last year.

The Massachusetts Legislature is currently considering passage of the Equal Access Bill, which would improve access to public accommodations for trans people there.

Download a copy of the complete report here.

 

European Court of Human Rights rules against trans woman in marriage case

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the country of Finland did not violate the human rights of a trans woman by requiring that her marriage be downgraded to a registered partnership in order for her to be legally recognized as a woman.

Before gender reassignment surgery, Ms. Hamalainen had married a woman, and Finnish authorities argued that legally recognizing her gender as female without ending her marriage would result in a same-sex marriage, which is not allowed under Finnish law.

Evelyne Paradis, executive director of ILGA-Europe, said: “The Finnish authorities argued and the European Court agreed that Ms Hamalainen’s family did not suffer disproportionately by their marriage being downgraded to a registered partnership as a registered partnership is almost identical to marriage in terms of rights and protections. Nevertheless, the court missed an important opportunity to condemn humiliating and discriminatory practices across Europe requiring trans people to end their existing marriage to obtain legal gender recognition.”

Trans people must end existing marriages to partners of the same-gender as they are post-transition to obtain legal gender recognition in 32 of 49 European countries.

—  Tammye Nash

Ted Cruz takes up fight for heterosexual privilege

Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-originally from Canada) has taken up the fight for heterosexual privilege and discrimination against same-sex couples. He introduced the so-called State Marriage Defense Act of 2014. His only co-sponsor is Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). Canada is a marriage equality country. Texas, which Cruz represents, and Utah both have marriage-discrimination laws that have been declared unconstitutional by federal courts.

The bill would force the federal government to consider a couple’s place of residence rather than place of ceremony and invalidate marriages as people cross state lines.

Cruz claims his law would make the federal government respect all 50 states. However, federal regulations simply take place of celebration into account and do not invalidate marriages as people cross state lines.

The regulations do not force states to recognize marriages of same-sex couples. For example, married couples must file their federal income taxes as married, but the regulations do not force states to allow couples married elsewhere to file as married.

If Cruz’s law were to pass and be signed into law, gays and lesbians who live in marriage-discrimination states would lose social security, disability and other benefits making those states’ residents poorer.

Since he joined Congress in 2013, no legislation — this doesn’t include resolutions and amendments — Cruz sponsored has passed and been signed into law.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Tenth Circuit upholds marriage equality in Utah

10th CircuitThe Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the lower court ruling in the Utah marriage discrimination case — Kitchen v. Herbert — that the U.S. Constitution guarantees same-sex couples due process and equal protection.

This is the first ruling by an appellate court since the landmark U.S. v. Windsor case was decided last June, striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and instructing the federal government to recognize marriages of same-sex couples.

“Today’s decision by the Tenth Circuit affirms the fundamental principles of equality and fairness and the common humanity of gay and lesbian people,” said Peggy Tomsic, one of the attorneys in the case. “As the Court recognized, these families are part of Utah’s community, and equal protection requires that they be given the same legal protections and respect as other families in this state.  The Court’s ruling is a victory not only for the courageous couples who brought this case, but for our entire state and every state within the Tenth Circuit.”

The 10th Circuit also heard the Oklahoma marriage discrimination case the same day, and is expected to hand down its ruling in the case any time now.

—  David Taffet

Is someone at Liberty University going to hell for hiring a gay?

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Liberty University hired this gay

The Christian Post reported that Liberty University — What? Yes, I read the Christian Post, so you don’t have to, now stop interrupting.

The Christian Post reported yesterday that Liberty University — the school Jerry Falwell founded — hired gay dancer Geoffrey Goldberg to choreograph its production of Mary Poppins.

As the Christian Post put it, “the conservative Christian school’s stage company had sought the services of an ‘open homosexual advocate.’”

The school, to its credit, issued this statement to blogger Benjamin Corey:

“The choreographer in question is an independent contractor supplied to the university through a third party association and has never applied for employment at Liberty University and has never been an employee of Liberty. Liberty has never required vendors who provide goods and services to the university to adhere to the university’s doctrinal beliefs.”

To make things worse, Liberty’s stage company director Linda Nell Cooper told Christian News Network, she hired Goldberg “based on his professionalism and his talent like everyone else.”

And just what makes Goldberg so qualified?

He was in the original Broadway production of Mary Poppins.

The world is certainly coming to an end when theater is taken over by the gays — even at Liberty University. What makes this even more delicious, and The Christian Post  seems to have missed this, the school not only got a gay, but they got a gay Jew.

Mary Poppins opens tonight, in case you happen to be in Lynchburg, Va.

—  David Taffet

Former U.S. Senate candidate Craig James goes to work for hate group

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Former U.S. Senate candidate Craig James

Former SMU football player and candidate for U.S. Senate Craig James has taken a job with Family Research Council, listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He will become assistant to the hate group’s President Tony Perkins.

In his Senate campaign, James was best known for his attacks on fellow candidate former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who rode on a float with the Dallas City Council in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. Leppert participated in Pride until he decided to run for the Senate seat.

Leppert came in third in his Senate bid, ahead of James, who came in fourth. Sen. Ted Cruz won the election.

At a campaign debate at Dallas Country Club attended by Dallas Voice, James made this homophobic comment:

“You have to make that choice, absolutely. … Same-sex marriage, if someone chooses to do that, then that’s them, and God’s going to judge each one of us in this room for our actions, but in that case right there, they’re going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions. We should not give benefits to those civil unions. It should not occur. We have to stay strong on this. This is important, man. I tell you what, we have a fiscal issue in this county, but we also have a moral issue in this country, and as Christians we better stand up.”

After the campaign, Fox Sports hired James, but fired him a week later for comments made during the campaign.

“We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn’t say those things here,” Fox told Dallas Morning News at the time.

James is currently suing Fox for religious discrimination based on preserving his right to discriminate.

—  David Taffet

Mississippi passes anti-gay hate law

mississippi-flag-e1387132309472The Mississippi Legislature passed an anti-gay “religious freedom” bill on Tuesday  similar to the one vetoed in Arizona. The law legalizes anti-gay discrimination as long as it’s done in the name of religion.

The bill that passed was rewritten after the Arizona bill was vetoed. The blatant anti-gay animus was removed. The new bill is simply written ambiguously so that there’s nothing unconstitutional about its wording. However, if anyone tries to use the law to justify discrimination, courts could strike it down as written only because of extreme animus against the LGBT community.

“The language still exposes virtually every branch, office and agency of the government to litigation, which will require taxpayer funds to defend,” the American Civil Liberties Union’s Eunice Rho told MSNBC.

Wording of the bill is modeled after the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton. That law, though, passed by a bipartisan coalition, was not intended to encourage discrimination or limit anyone’s civil rights.

The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

—  David Taffet

Mary Cheney to lead fundraiser against Indiana gay marriage ban

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Mary Cheney

INDIANAPOLIS — A daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney is joining the fight against a proposed constitutional amendment in Indiana to ban same-sex marriage, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Mary Cheney, a lesbian who was legally married in the District of Columbia, will host a reception Dec. 11 for Freedom Indiana, a bipartisan coalition aimed at defeating the proposed amendment.

“Freedom means freedom for everyone,” Cheney wrote in an e-mail sent to Freedom Indiana supporters and posted Tuesday on the group’s website. “For me, that’s not just another saying. It’s who I am — the core of what I believe. No one should be denied the fundamental liberties we all deserve.”

Cheney’s participation in the Indiana campaign comes as she and her sister, GOP Senate candidate Liz Cheney, fight over gay marriage. The Cheney sisters’ feudspilled out in the open on TV and Facebook last week.

Liz Cheney, who is challenging Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi in a GOP primary, has said she believes in a “traditional definition of marriage.” Mary Cheney’s wife, Heather Poe, said on Facebook that recent comments by Liz Cheney on Fox News Sunday were “offensive.”

Mary Cheney’s pitch to help Freedom Indiana seems to echo a sentiment expressed by Poe in her Facebook post that gay couples and their families should feel protected regardless of their state of residence.

“Speaking out against HJR-6 isn’t a matter of politics,” Mary Cheney said in her Freedom Indiana e-mail. “It’s about family. It’s about everyone feeling welcome in the state they call home.”

Indiana’s House Joint Resolution 6 first passed the state’s General Assembly in 2011. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, and other lawmakers support legislative action that would put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2014.

—  Steve Ramos

Parker’s opponent was for equality before he was against it

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Ben Hall

HOUSTON — While none of Mayor Annise Parker’s opponents expected much support from the LGBT community, her main opponent, Ben Hall, has been going out of his way to alienate any support he might have received. His strategy might be to solidify his support among those who dislike her for no other reason than she is lesbian. Parker has run always been honest with voters about her sexual orientation and has won eight previous citywide elections.

Out Smart magazine said Hall was for equality before he was against it.

Here’s what the Houston GLBT Political Caucus said about him on their Facebook page.

Houston mayoral candidate Ben Hall, during an interview on KUHF today, came out fully against equality for the LGBT community. He stated his opposition to an inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, and vowed to deny members of the transgender community the ability to use restrooms in public buildings. This is a substantial departure from positions Hall took earlier this year in discussions with Caucus president Noel Freeman, when he offered his support for enacting an inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, and also with the Harris County Democratic Party on whose candidate questionnaire he also offered support for such an ordinance. Simply put, Ben Hall is a liar who will say anything to get elected.

Parker has hammered Hall on paying his taxes late. He has incurred more than $100,000 in penalties and interest.

Parker is running for her third and final term as mayor of Houston. The election is Nov. 5.

—  David Taffet

HUD files lawsuit on behalf of Seven Points trans woman and partner

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Darlina Anthony, left, and Roxanne Joganik

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Roxanne Joganik and Darlina Anthony against George Toone, the owner of an RV park in Athens.

The couple said they were advised not to comment but confirmed that the suit had been filed.

Dallas Voice reported in August about the case that could be a landmark in establishing discrimination based on gender identity, which is already covered under U.S. law as sex discrimination.

HUD gives these reasons as the legal basis for the suit in the court document:

1. It is unlawful to discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of sex.

2. It is unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of his having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by section 804 of the Act.

HUD alleges a number of housing discrimination charges but some are specific to the transgender community:

• prohibiting someone from dressing as a female in the park violates federal fair housing laws.

• requests that the park rules be amended to include protections against sex discrimination were denied.

• park rules included a rule that “Management reserves the right to refuse entrance to the R.V. park to any person for any reason other than for reasons based on race, religion, handicapped, color or national origin.” This rule should include sex or familial status, protected classes under the Fair Housing Act.

• park owner did not want complainant to wear female clothing in the park because there are children around the pool and it is “not the type of atmosphere we want to promote on private property.” Mr. Toone would rather not have transgender persons in the common areas of the park.

—  David Taffet