Comprehensive LGBT protection bill to be introduced in Congress on Thursday

Providence Mayor David Cicilline

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.

A comprehensive LGBT nondiscrimination bill will be introduced in Congress on Thursday, according to BuzzFeed.

Out gay Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., will introduce the bills.

“No one in our community should be at risk of being fired, evicted from their home, or denied services because of who they are or whom they love,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement.

He said the bill is necessary because the “unacceptable patchwork of state-level protections for LGBT people, and more than half of LGBT Americans live in a state that lacks fully-inclusive non-discrimination laws.”

Texas is one of 28 states without a statewide policy protecting LGBT employees from workplace discrimination. It is one of 29 states without laws protecting LGBT individuals in public accommodations.

The bill would “provide explicit, consistent protections for sexual orientation and gender identity,” Cicilline wrote in a letter circulated among his colleagues. Those protections include areas often overlooked by many LGBT activists covering seven key federal laws: housing, public accommodations, employment, credit, juries and federal funds, public education, and renting and home ownership.

“The time has come in this country for full, federal equality, and nothing less. A federal non-discrimination bill would create permanent and clear protections to ensure that all employees are hired, fired or promoted based on their performance,” Griffin said. “All LGBT Americans deserve a fair chance to earn a living and provide for their families.”

—  James Russell

BREAKING: Pentagon preparing to lift transgender military ban

AMPASenior U.S. officials at the Pentagon told the Associated Press today (Monday, July 13) they are finalizing plans to lift the ban on transgender military service. An announcement is expected this week “with the goal of formally ending one of the last gender or sexually-based barriers to military service,” according to the American Military Partner Association.

According to the AP report, the services “would have six months to assess the impact of the change and work out the details.”

“We are thrilled the Department of Defense will finally be taking the necessary steps to allow our transgender service members to serve openly and honestly,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “We look forward in anticipation to the announcement this week and being able to review the process and implementation.”

“Today’s Department of Defense announcement is a positive sign that they understand that open trans military service is desirable and inevitable,” National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling said. “The Pentagon’s rickety system of discrimination against us is falling apart.  It is in everyone’s interest that the 15,000 or so currently serving trans people be allowed to serve openly and honorably. The Pentagon knows, as we do, how this review is going to end. The National Center for Transgender Equality urges the Department of Defense to quickly end the discriminatory policy and allow trans people to serve openly and with dignity.”

—  David Taffet

Oklahoma Run ‘n Gun organizers catch heat for controversial photo

Screen shot 2015-07-10 at 2.26.56 PMOrganizers of the Oklahoma Run ‘n Gun, a biathlon and shooting competition in Pawnee, Okla., ran into some trouble after posting a photo on social media showing two participants holding a rainbow flag as a target.

Event organizers posted the image to promote their July 18 competition. The photo showed two men holding rifles and a caption that reads “new high visibility targets on the 500 yard range.”

Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson said many activists felt threatened by the post.

“People got really offended and really upset and people were really feeling threatened,” he told KFOR.

Stevenson says he reached out to event organizers after seeing the picture, who assured him it was a joke.

“He assures us that it wasn’t meant as a threat. It was a situation where I don’t think the people doing it understood social media or how bad their joke was,” Stevenson said.

The organizer said participants had trouble seeing the targets, so they simply chose the brightest target available. Unfortunately they chose a rainbow flag.

“You could definitely tell by reading the comments that they were trying to make a joke out of this. But once again, it was going way too far and offending a lot of people and it was very threatening language,” Stevenson said.

The post and their Facebook page have since been removed. A page criticizing the group, however, has appeared.

—  James Russell

DMN highlights continuing LGBT discrimination in Texas

Curry.Pam

Pam Curry

Dallas Morning News ran a story about discrimination in housing, employment and accommodation in Texas that is legal outside of Dallas, Fort Worth and sometimes Plano featuring trans activist Pam Curry.

In the story, Curry didn’t talk about the resolution of her case.

She was in her apartment complex’s office and heard the manager use the words “transvesti” and “SIDA,” Spanish for transvestite and AIDS.

She filed a complaint with the Dallas Fair Housing office that handles discrimination cases in the city, but the article doesn’t explain the resolution.

Curry moved from the Cedar Point apartments on Cedar Springs Road at the Tollway (where the new Echo now stands), where she had lived for eight years.

“About about a month after I moved, the VP of the company called me to apologize for everything that happened,” Curry said. “Apparently they did an audit and found that everything I claimed and more was true. The manager dripped lies from her tongue and was terminated.”

Curry said she was satisfied with that resolution.

While opponents of the anti-discrimination ordinance like to pretend there’s a high cost to small business in defending these complaints, often a simple apology is all anyone wants.

—  David Taffet

TCDRS: More Texas compliance with marriage ruling

Screen shot 2015-07-02 at 1.46.04 PMWith all this compliance with the Texas marriage rulings, our governor’s head must be spinning. Here’s the latest from Texas County and District Retirement System:

 

 

TCDRS Compliant With Same-Sex Marriage Decision


At the Texas County & District Retirement System, members can designate their legal spouse as their beneficiary regardless of gender.

This means our systems, website and processes are in compliance with the IRS ruling on recognizing same-sex spouses and the June 26 Supreme Court decision.

If you are a TCDRS member who needs assistance designating your beneficiary, please call TCDRS Member Services at 800-823-7782.

—  David Taffet

Sen. Rodney Ellis asks DOJ to monitor Texas marriage equality

EllisTexas state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston,  wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and asked her to monitor implementation of marriage equality in the state.

Ellis cited state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s guidance to county clerks, justices of the peace and judges “advising them that they can refuse to follow the recent Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodge.”

He requested the Department of Justice prevent civil rights violations to “ensure loving, committed couples are able to formally celebrate their union.”

He said religion must not be used as an excuse to discriminate.

—  David Taffet

Hood County Clerk refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

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Hood County Clerk Katie Lang is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing Attorney General Ken Paxton’s “legal opinion” saying that clerk’s can refuse to issue those licenses based on their own personal religious beliefs. She has even included a post on the county clerk website, under “Services,” noting that she will not issue the licenses and explaining why.

Paxton’s opinion does include some basic CYA language noting that while individual clerks and assistant clerks can refuse to issue the licenses, county clerk offices as a whole have to follow the law and those clerks who do not allow someone in the office to issue the licenses those clerks can be held personally liable and sued. And that the county nor the state will pay for their defense.

A quick call to the Hood County Clerk’s office this morning (Tuesday, June 30), confirmed that the office as a whole WILL NOT issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That, of course, opens County Clerk Katie Lang up to lawsuits. Kelly Shackleford of the far-right-wing Liberty Institute has reportedly said he will represent Lang in any legal action against her.

Personally, I am wondering if Katie Lang is TRYING to get sued, so that she can become a “Christian martyr,” victimized by all those horrible heathen gays, and then use that “martyrdom” as a springboard for a bid for higher political office.

Here’s another personal opinion for you: I respect the fact that some people have religious beliefs that would prevent them for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. I don’t agree with those beliefs, but I respect your right to believe that, and I will defend your right to your beliefs. But when you hold a public office or work for the government, then you also have a civil duty to serve all people. If your deeply held religious beliefs keep you from serving all people, then you need to find another job.

Dana Guffey, county clerk for Cleburne County in Arkansas (and no, that’s not Johnson County Clerk in Cleburne, Texas), understands that. She has held that office for 24 years but yesterday announced she is resigning because her religious beliefs prevent her from issuing marriage licenses but the duties of that office require it. I respect Ms. Guffey’s beliefs. I respect her decision. I wish her the best.

—  Tammye Nash

AT&T celebrates Decision Day

Just catching up and getting more pictures online from all the celebration in Dallas surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling on June 26. AT&T employees celebrated Decision Day outside their world headquarters in downtown Dallas.

—  David Taffet

Pro wrestler ‘Money’ Matt Cage comes out

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Matt “Money Matt Cage” Hullum: Out and proud

“This one is gonna be kinda long and kinda personal and very real.”

That’s how pro wrestler “Money” Matt Cage started off a recent post, titled “Here goes nothing …” on his Facebook page.

The wrestler, whose real name in Matt Hullum, goes on to talk about how rejection has always been one of his biggest fears, but that he has grown older and matured “I have discovered I truly don’t care as much about rejection anymore.” And knowing that his family and friends will love him “flaws and all” and that his peers respect him for his work, Hullum said he was ready to put aside all deception and be honest about himself:

“That being said,” he wrote, “it makes it much easier to post here publicly that I’m gay.”

Hullum lives in La Salle, Ill., and makes a living traveling the indie pro wrestling circuit. He told Outsports that he chose to share his story in hopes that it would inspire and motivate others.

Hullum wrote on Facebook that for a long time he claimed to be bisexual, and while he still thinks women are beautiful, “I have no real intentions of pursuing females at this stage of my life. … I don’t think that’ll ever change. But I think that to continue to claim something that’s not true is just continuing a streak of dishonesty, and I don’t want that. Sorry, ladies. I’m officially pulling myself off the market. Don’t hate me too bad.”

Although he believes that “private matters should stay just that,” Hullum acknowledged that the “constant speculation and discussion” about his orientation was beginning to wear on him, causing him stress and prompting bouts of depression.

“I spent the majority of my life lying, hiding and depressed because I felt like I couldn’t truly be who I wanted to be and live freely as I saw fit,” Hullum wrote. “I had to act and that’s not me. I, nor anyone else, should have to do that.”

In the wrestling ring, Hullum said, he has always conducted himself in a professional manner and will continue to do so. He said he doesn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable and doesn’t believe he has done anything so far that would do that.

“Hopefully nothing changes, but if any relationships change from this post, I’ll know that I didn’t need those people in my life anyway,” he said. “I hope that the fans, the promoters and everyone else don’t change their opinions of me. I was the same person yesterday as I am right now, just now, I have a bit more weight lifted off of my shoulders.

“The stress, depression and worrying that has always come from this is something nobody should have to deal with. Depression is a very real thing, and some people don’t understand that. People often times cannot empathize. But know this: we are all human beings. We all have our own way, traits, personalities and things that make us our own person. Keep that in mind.”

Hullum ended by thanking his supporters and “those who have my back,” and by apologizing to “anyone I lied to or had to keep this secret from.”

He concluded, “To anyone who has ever been scared of just being real and telling the truth, you shouldn’t be. Yes, I was. But if the people you care about, or even those you don’t, are good people, it won’t matter … the way it SHOULD be.”

Outsports notes that response so far on Facebook, including from Hullum’s fellow wrestlers, has been positive and supportive.

—  Tammye Nash

‘Kill the gays’ measure tossed by California judge

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California AG Kamala Harris

A proposed ballot measure calling for gay people to be put to death for the “abominable crime against nature known as buggery, called also sodomy” has been thrown put by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond M. Cadei, according to Patheos.com, the Progressive Secular Humanist website.

Huntington Beach lawyer Matthew McLaughlin filed the measure, asking that it be placed on the California state ballot for a vote. Titled “The Sodomite Suppression Act,” the proposed law required that gays be put to death by “bullets to the head” or “any other convenient method.”

California Attorney General Kamala Harris asked the court to throw out McLaughlin’s ballot measure. Judge Cadei did just that, ruling that it was “patently unconstitutional on its face.”

Without his ruling, Harris would have been legally required to proceed with putting the process of putting the measure on the ballot. Cadei, however, said advancing the proposal to the signature-gathering phase “would be inappropriate, waste public resources, generate unnecessary divisions among the public and tend to mislead the electorate.”

Harris, in a written statement, called the proposal “the product of bigotry, [that] seeks to promote violence, is patently unconstitutional and has no place in a civil society.”

Shortly after McLaughlin originally filed his proposed ballot measure, activist and author Charlotte Laws filed the “Intolerant Jackass Act,” which, if approved by voters, would require anyone who proposes measures calling for the death of gay people to attend monthly sensitivity training and to donate $5,000 to “a pro-gay or pro-lesbian organization.”

—  Tammye Nash