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Huffington Post/Queer Voices
Midterm Elections and LGBTQ Politicians
The future remains bright when it comes to actual members of our community representing our interests at the national level. On the national and state level, election results revealed LQBTQ politicians among the winners.
The number of LGBTQ candidates who sought political office in 2018 was higher than expected. At least 606 openly LGBTQ candidates ran for office in 2018, with 390 appearing on the ballot this November. This year’s tally includes 91 people who sought seats in the US Congress, 10 who ran for governor, and 299 who sought statewide or state legislative seats, with the remainder running for various local offices.
The LGBTQ incumbents up for re-election in the House of Representatives easily won their races on election day (November 2018).
Sean Maloney won his fourth race to serve his New York
state district. Maloney had made an unsuccessful bid to
become state attorney general earlier this year, but
remained on the ballot for re-election, which turned out
to be a smart move. In Wisconsin, Mark Pocan joined out
Senator Tammy Baldwin in easily winning re-election to
Congress. In Rhode Island, David Cicilline won his fifth
term to serve in Congress by a two-to-one margin. Mark
Takano also coasted to re-election in his Southern
California Congressional district. When he joined the
House in 2013, Takano was the first openly gay person of
color ever elected to Congress.
On the state level, Jared Polis was elected governor in Colorado and Kate Brown was re-elected as governor of Oregon.
Sharice Davids became first LGBTQ person and Native American to represent Kansas in Congress. Chris Pappas became New Hampshire’s first openly gay member of Congress. Lesbian Angie Craig defeated anti-LGBTQ congressman in Minnesota, becomes first openly gay person elected to Congress from the state. Transgender women, Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker, were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Democrats Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodard became the first LGBTQ members of the Kansas state legislature. Malcolm Kenyatta became the first LGBTQ black man elected to the Pennsylvania legislature. Teri Johnston was elected mayor of Key West, Florida, becoming the state’s first lesbian mayor.
Scotland Mandates LGBTQ Curriculum in Schools
in Scotland are about to get some new lessons about
LGBTQ people and historical events. The country has
become the first to mandate LGBTQ-centered curriculum be
taught in schools. Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John
Swinney told parliament that the new education
initiative will start immediately.
Scottish schools will teach themes like LGBTQ terminology and identities, tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, prejudice in relation to the LGBTQ community and promoting awareness of the history of LGBTQ equalities and movements.
“Scotland is already considered one of the most progressive countries in Europe for LGBTQ equality,” Deputy First Minister John Swinney stated. “I am delighted to announce we will be the first country in the world to have LGBTQ inclusive education embedded within the curriculum. Our education system must support everyone to reach their full potential. That is why it is vital the curriculum is as diverse as the young people who learn in our schools.”
LGBTQ News Reports
Trump Administration Seeks to Redefine Gender
rights organizations and members of the LGBTQ community
are stunned and furious about a reported Trump
administration plan to severely narrow the legal
definition of gender.
The administration is reportedly planning to restrict the definition of gender as immutable for an individual’s lifetime and that would be based on genitalia at birth. Such a definition would essentially be a government declaration that there is no such thing as “transgender.” At least 1.4 million people in the US currently identify as transgender.
The reported change is being spearheaded by the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs receiving government funding.
The National Center for Transgender Equality, which is one of the organizations planning a Washington rally, stated: “Make no mistake, trans people are under direct attack from the Trump Administration.”
It also issued a statement calling the proposal “an attempt to put heartless restraints on the lives of 2 million people, effectively abandoning our right to equal access to health care, to housing, to education, or to fair treatment under the law ... and to solidify an archaic, dogmatic ... view of the world.”
The draft memo erases the difference between sex and gender identity, saying that “sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth. The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”
The Trump administration has already sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military and has challenged other civil rights protections.
Minnesota Issues Non-Binary Driver's Licenses
to Issue Non-Binary, Gender-Neutral Driver's
Licenses... Oregon, California, Colorado, Maine, and DC
have recently made similar inclusive moves. As part of
its newly instituted REAL ID system, Minnesota will now
permit drivers to apply for licenses that mark them as
male, female, or nonbinary.
Among the first to apply for a nonbinary license in Minnesota is J. Zappa, a volunteer firefighter in Medicine Lake. Although assigned male at birth, Zappa has identified as both a woman and man throughout their life, until realizing they were nonbinary. "I guess you could say I'm a shade of gray in a world of black and white," Zappa explained.
After having multiple licenses that identified them as exclusively M or F, Zappa is now waiting for a driver's license that fully encompasses their identity. "It was just frustrating because most recently I had an F on it and I would show it to someone, but they would say, ‘You are dressed like a man’ or ‘You have a deep voice’ or ‘We don't think this is accurate.’ They would say ‘This isn't your license," Zappa recalled.
"Gender identification is a self-descriptor like eye color, height, and weight. Licenses will have either an M, F or X noted in the gender section," the Department of Public Safety's Driver and Vehicle Services Division wrote in a statement. "It was a business decision to offer a third option to better serve all Minnesotans."
One Minnesotan feels much better served. "I feel good. I know a few other people have accomplished this in a few other states. It started on the West Coast a few years ago, and more and more people are recognizing that nonbinary people exist and we ought to be legally recognized," Zappa explained.
The District of Columbia, Maine, and Oregon already offer the gender-neutral marker "X" on driver's licenses and state identification cards. Oregon was the first to do so, in June 2017. That year in California, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the Gender Recognition Act, which established the state as the first to legally recognize a third, gender-nonbinary option on all legal documents. It will take effect in 2019. In September 2018, Colorado became the first state to not assign gender on a birth certificate when it retroactively amended an intersex individual's documents to reflect their biological sex.
Minnesota's move, Zappa added, “is one more step in recognizing trans people to be who they are and that we’re legitimate and that we’re out here, so it’s good.”
[Source: Ariel Sobel, Advocate Magazine, October 2018]
First Transgender Person to Compete in Miss Universe Pageant
The first transgender woman to compete in the global Miss Universe pageant wants to make history as a role model for trans children around the globe – no matter whether she wins or not the top beauty title. The 26-year-old Angela Ponce beat 20 other contestants in the Miss Universe Spain gala in June 2018, qualifying for the global round of the pageant, which has allowed transgender participation since 2012.
The location and dates for this year’s contest have yet to be announced. But Ponce is already planning to use it as a platform to draw attention toward high rates of suicides among trans teenagers, as well as legal codes that still discriminate against them around the world. “If my going through all this contributes to the world moving a little step forward, then that’s a personal crown that will always accompany me,” Ponce said.
LGBTQ News Reports
New Task Group Formed to Protect Hate Groups
2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the
creation of a “Religious Liberty Task Force” at the
Justice Department. Sessions announced the task force in
a speech where he said that Donald Trump’s election has
given the right a “rare opportunity” to stop a
“dangerous movement, undetected by many” that is eroding
Sessions mentioned Jack Phillips three times. Phillips is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, which took a case to the Supreme Court recently to ask for a religious exemption to Colorado’s antidiscrimination law so that it could refuse to serve a gay couple.
But while conservatives prefer to talk about cases
involving cake, the Trump Administration announced in
January 2018 a new Department of Health and Human
Services initiative to advance doctors’, nurses’, and
other medical workers’ “religious freedom” to refuse to
help LGBTQ people.
“This taxpayer funded task force is yet another example of the Trump-Pence White House and Jeff Sessions sanctioning discrimination against LGBTQ people,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Over the last 18 months, Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions have engaged in a brazen campaign to erode and limit the rights of LGBTQ people in the name of religion. The Attorney General standing shoulder-to-shoulder this morning with anti-LGBTQ extremists tells you everything you need to know about what today’s announcement was really all about.”
[Source: Alex Bollinger, LGBTQ Nation, July 2018]
Israel May Ban Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Israel's Knesset advanced a bill in June 2018 banning sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. The bill widens the scope of current anti-discrimination law. Under the amendment, wherever Israeli law refers to discrimination, it would also mean discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. "In view of the changes that have occurred in Israeli law since 1992, and in view of the frequent attacks on the LGBTQ community owing to sexual orientation or gender identity in the form of discrimination and harassment, the time has come to amend the interpretation law beyond the legal meaning,” reads the explanation to the bill.
Janelle Monae Proud to Be Queer Young Black Woman
Janelle Monáe is further opening up about her sexuality. Movie fans know her from her roles in the films Hidden Figures and Moonlight. And, while she is an accomplished movie actor, she first came to fame as an R&B singer and rapper.
The 32-year-old singer, who released her new album Dirty Computer in April 2018, spoke to CBS This Morning about how her late mentor Prince influenced how she wants to portray her sexuality in music and in the public eye.
“I think that it’s important for people to be proud of their identity. I am very proud to be a queer young black woman in America. I’m proud of who I am,” Monáe said.
In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, Monáe revealed what it’s like “being a black queer woman in America” and why she doesn’t identify as bisexual. Monae has described herself as "someone who has been in relationships with both men and women" and has further identified as pansexual.
Media Ignored Anti-LGBTQ Violence in 2017
Last year was the deadliest on record for LGBTQ people, but you wouldn’t know that based on news coverage. According to a new report from press watchdog Media Matters, cable and broadcast news spent less than 40 minutes across seven networks covering anti-LGBTQ violence, despite a year of unprecedented attacks.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) reported an 86 percent spike in anti-LGBTQ homicides in 2017, the worst the organization ever recorded. (The Pulse Nightclub shooting is not included in the tally.) Over the course of the entire year, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox Broadcasting Co, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC only discussed anti-LGBTQ violence 22 times, according to the report.
Fox News topped the list with 10 minutes and 21 seconds devoted to coverage of anti-LGBTQ violence. But most of that coverage (7 and a half minutes) was actually a single segment. CBS devoted 8 minutes and 29 seconds to coverage of anti-LGBTQ violence. Fox Broadcasting Co. fell to the bottom of the list with none at all, while other networks hovered in-between. ABC hosted just one discussion of anti-LGBTQ violence. CNN did four times, but only linked it to a trend of violence against LGBTQ people once.
The report comes amid the most shocking NCAVP anti-LGBTQ violence numbers to date. NCAVP reported 52 hate-related homicides last year alone. Transgender people accounted for 27 of those murders. People of color made up two-thirds of the victims in the report. The report notes, “The lack of coverage for anti-LGBTQ violence also comes at a time when acceptance for LGBTQ people is reportedly declining. For the most part, networks discussed isolated incidents, failing to link them to a growing threat of anti-LGBTQ violence."
also been noted that anti-LGBTQ hate groups have been
mainstreamed over the last year. President Trump
keynoted the annual event of an anti-LGBTQ hate group
last year when he spoke at the Values Voters Summit, and
he has championed a rollback of LGBTQ rights.
[Source: Kate Sosin Oeser, Huffington Post, March 2018]
LGBTQ News Reports
Gus Kenworthy: Call Me the Gay Skier
Kenworthy was terrified about the consequences of coming
out as gay in 2015 but the American skier says that his
decision prompted a huge outpouring of unexpected
support and has allowed him to compete without the
weight of the world on his shoulders. Kenworthy, an
Olympic silver medal winner in the ski slopestyle at
Sochi, came out in a cover story for ESPN The Magazine
to become the first openly gay action sports athlete.
“I had set myself up for the worst case scenario,” he said. “I thought I was going to be turned against and become this pariah.” Kenworthy had already told his close family and friends, who were all very supportive. Their support, along with a desire to be an inspiration for other young men and women scared to come out as homosexual, drove Kenworthy to make the decision. “I knew I would feel so much better because I was being authentic and maybe it would help kids going through the same transition as me,” said Kenworthy.
“I thought it would maybe help other people, either in professional sports or amateur sports or even just in communities where they felt isolated and scared to be themselves.” Within minutes of the news breaking, Kenworthy’s telephone was blowing up. “I had so much support coming in and so my phone just couldn’t handle it and I couldn’t handle it either,” he said. “I was crying and it is quite a weird sensation to set yourself up for one outcome and then get the total opposite.”
Kenworthy says his decision has led to a change in what he calls his “headspace” going into competitions. Instead of compartmentalizing his life he is able to be himself and this has contributed to a greater sense of freedom and confidence. The change means Kenworthy is more confident than ever heading into the Pyeongchang Winter Games in February 2018. “I am more open with everyone in my life and I think it just translates into me being able to ski a little bit more freely and not have so much to focus on and worry about,” he added.
Despite his achievements on the slopes, Kenworthy is known by many as the "gay skier." Instead of shying away from the tag, Kenworthy has embraced it and hopes to serve as an inspiration for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people (LGBTQ) around the world. If, as Kenworthy says, he can be a gay man at the top of the world, an Olympic gold medallist, then it would prove a lot of people wrong.
”The Olympics is a cool opportunity to represent our country, which is amazing, but I have another community I am competing for and that is the LGBTQ community. There are all these stereotypes and stigmas that people have associated in their mind over time but nothing breaks barriers down more than visibility or representation.
”Having someone at the Olympics, the pinnacle event in sports, competing against the best in the world and being out and proud and gay and getting a medal, it would be amazing. There is pressure that comes with this responsibility and I feel I have a responsibility to the LGBTQ community now. I want to lead by example and I want to be a positive example and an inspiration for any kids that I can.”
[Source: Huffington Post, Queer Voices, January 2018]
LGBTQ News Reports
Supreme Court to Decide Gay Wedding Cake Case
Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Dec 5, 2017 in
a case that could have huge ramifications for freedom of
speech and protections against discrimination. But it
all began with a same-sex couple who just wanted a
special wedding cake.
In 2012, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips pointed to his conservative Christian beliefs in refusing to make a custom wedding cake for Colorado couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins.
On one side of the case is the state of Colorado and its public accommodations law barring discrimination against customers based on their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. On the other side is a baker who is morally opposed to same-sex marriage and refuses to create cakes for same-sex wedding receptions.
Businesses Saying No to Religious Freedom Laws
are saying no to "religious freedom" laws and lawmakers
are listening. The Kentucky House of Representatives is
swerving away from a freedom-to-hate bill, thanks in
part to businesses pushing back. House Bill 372 would
have given churches and religious organizations the
right to ignore the municipal LGBTQ protections now in
nine Kentucky cities.
The original bill had 46 sponsors among 100 state representatives. But State Rep. Jason Nemes, a Louisville Republican, has led a rewrite of the bill, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. The proposed legislation now only clarifies that churches and ministers can cite religious objections and not provide weddings for same-sex couples. Federal law already allows church leaders to decline to marry anyone; the issue was already settled in a 2015 US Supreme Court decision.
Among the Kentucky cities with civil-rights protections for LGBTQ people are Louisville, with a quarter of the state’s population, Lexington, with the University of Kentucky, and Frankfort, the state capital. In January, Paducah became the first city in western Kentucky to do so. However, Kentucky may be seeing what other states have learned — that businesses can pay dearly for such religious-freedom legislation that allows LGBTQ discrimination.
Dave Adkisson, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president, said his members with out-of-state business oppose the legislation. “They had concerns, frankly, about how it would appear to those outside Kentucky if we seemed to be discriminating against any one particular group,” Adkisson said.
Indiana, to the north, led by then Gov. Mike Pence, and North Carolina, to the southeast, have both felt the financial pinch after anti-LGBTQ campaigns in their statehouses.
And Kentucky is already on the no-travel list for state-funded travel from California after it passed 2017 legislation that allowed student groups to discriminate against LGBTQ people. When California attorney general Xavier Becerra, announced the ban in January 2017, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s press secretary, Woody Maglinger, had denounced it as “far-left political ideology."
In contrast, Louisville’s mayor, Greg Fischer, a public supporter of LGBTQ rights, had pleaded that his city — home of the Kentucky Derby and considerable convention business — be exempted. It wasn’t.
As of June 2017, the California ban had already cost the city $2 million in future revenue.
Meanwhile, Kentucky is embroiled in other controversy. The state’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, who had signed last year’s anti-LGBTQ legislation, has made a controversial push to slash pensions of state employees. Those employees include public-school teachers, who are now protesting in the capital.
With Bevin’s battle raging, statehouse Republicans may have been hoping this anti-LGBTQ legislation would give them momentum going into the fall elections, Louisville Democratic Representative Joni Jenkins said. “Honestly, I haven’t heard any outrage from any of the churches in my district about having to participate in anyone’s weddings,” Jenkins said, “so I don’t know what problem this is supposed to be solving.”
[Source: Ron Johnson / LGBTQ Nation / Lexington Herald Ledger / March 2018]
LGBTQ News Reports
Australia Votes Yes for Marriage Equality
A nationwide survey
on the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia
came back with sweeping support on November 15, 2017,
ending a month-long campaign for equality that has
stoked widespread anxiety in the country’s LGBTQ
community. The issue will now go to the Australian
Parliament. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised
an official vote to legalize marriage equality by the
end of the year.
In the survey, 61.6 percent of Australians voted yes and 38.4 percent voted no. More than 12.7 million people responded to the voluntary postal survey, a nationwide response rate of nearly 80 percent.
“They voted yes to fairness. They voted yes to commitment. They voted yes to love,” Turnbull said at a press conference in Canberra following the vote. “It is up to us, here in the Parliament in Australia to get on with it. This was an unprecedented exercise in democracy.”
Most members of the Australian parliament (some 70 percent in both houses) have said they will vote yes on a same-sex marriage vote were the results from the survey to come back with a “yes,” according to a survey from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Danica Roem Makes Political History
Trans woman Danica Roem (D) just defeated anti-LGBTQ candidate Bob Marshall (R) in Virginia. The man who wrote the anti-trans bathroom bill just lost the election to a trans woman. Let that sink in.
Virginia’s most socially conservative state lawmaker was ousted from office on Nov 7, 2017 by Danica Roem, a Democrat, who will be one of the nation’s first openly transgender elected officials and who embodies much of what Bob Marshall fought against in Richmond.
Danica Roem defeated incumbent Republican Bob Marshall, 73, on having campaigned on a platform of social inclusion as well as local issues, such as building up infrastructure and job creation. it also exposed the nation’s fault lines over gender identity.
The race pitted a
33-year-old former journalist who began her physical
gender transition four years ago against a 13-term
incumbent who called himself Virginia’s “chief
homophobe” and earlier this year introduced a “bathroom
bill” that died in committee.
“Discrimination is a disqualifier,” a jubilant Roem said. “This is about the people of the 13th District, disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias, where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.”
California Recognizes Third Gender
California Governor Jerry
Brown signed first-of-its kind legislation in October
2017 that enables residents of the state to choose a
third, non-binary gender category on California
state-issued IDs, birth certificates and driver’s
The Gender Recognition Act (Senate Bill 179) also reportedly makes the process of an individual changing their gender on legal documents easier by no longer requiring a statement from a physician declaring that they’ve undergone “clinical treatment.”
“As the LGBTQ community, but especially the trans community, is under assault in this country, California needs to go in the opposite direction and embrace the trans community and support the trans community and modernize these laws,” State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who co-sponsored the bill alongside Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), said in a statement.
While Oregon and Washington DC have undergone steps to make it easier for citizens to legally identify as non-binary, California is the first to enshrine a third gender category into law.
A number of other countries already have or are in the process of passing legislation that allows citizens to legally identify outside of the gender binary, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, England, Pakistan, and Nepal.
[Source: James Michael Nichols, Huffington Post, Queer Voices, Oct 2017]
Edith Windsor, LGBTQ Advocate, Dies at 88
Edith Windsor, the famous LGBTQ advocate who fought the Defense Of Marriage Act, died on September 12, 2017, at the age of 88.
Edith Windsor loved Thea Spyer. For nearly half a century, the two were partners and eventually were legally married as well. When Spyer died in 2009, though, the federal government didn't recognize that love on Windsor's tax forms, expecting her to pay more than $350,000 in estate taxes. That is, until Windsor fought the law that did not recognize that marriage — and won.
Judith Kasen-Windsor, whom Windsor married last year, confirmed her death in a statement. "I lost my beloved spouse Edie, and the world lost a tiny but tough as nails fighter for freedom, justice and equality," she said. "Edie was the light of my life. She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community which she loved so much and which loved her right back."
Barack Obama issued the following statement: "America’s long journey towards equality has been guided by countless small acts of persistence, and fueled by the stubborn willingness of quiet heroes to speak out for what’s right. I had the privilege to speak with Edie a few days ago, and to tell her one more time what a difference she made to this country we love. She was engaged to her partner, Thea, for forty years. After a wedding in Canada, they were married for less than two. But federal law didn’t recognize a marriage like theirs as valid – which meant that they were denied certain federal rights and benefits that other married couples enjoyed. And when Thea passed away, Edie spoke up – not for special treatment, but for equal treatment – so that other legally married same-sex couples could enjoy the same federal rights and benefits as anyone else."
Evangelical Leaders Release Anti-LGBTQ Statement
coalition of over 150 evangelical leaders released a
manifesto on August 29, 2017 reiterating their belief
that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Titled the “Nashville Statement,” the document also
asserts that God created two distinct sexes, that sex
should only occur within the bounds of heterosexual
marriage, and that “it is sinful to approve of
homosexual immorality or transgenderism.”
The statement emerged out of a meeting convened by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood on Friday at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s annual conference in Nashville. It consists of 14 statements of affirmation and denial relating to human sexuality.
instance, Article 7 of the statement reads: "We affirm
that self-conception as male or female should be defined
by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as
revealed in Scripture. We deny that adopting a
homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent
with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption."
Among the signers were many prominent and influential evangelical leaders, including Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. Perkins was also reportedly one of the architect’s behind President Trump’s ban on transgender service members.
LGBTQ News Reports
India Supports LGBTQ Rights
Supreme Court has given the country’s gay, lesbian,
bisexual, trans and queer community the freedom to
safely express their sexual orientation. In a historic
decision on August 24, 2017, the nine-judge panel
declared that an individual’s sexual orientation is
protected under the country’s Right to Privacy law.
“Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy,” the decision reads. “Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual. Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.”
Although the Supreme Court did not directly overturn any laws criminalizing same-sex relationships, the language of the court decision offers hope to the LGBTQ community. The judges expressly state sexual orientation falls under an individual’s right to privacy, a constitutional right, and that no individual should be discriminated against based on their orientation.
Going forward, this can establish a precedent as organizations challenge discriminatory laws in court, and offer protection against discrimination in places such as the workforce.
This could even deliver a death blow to an oppressive and controversial law in the Indian Penal Code. Section 377 is a law that limits a citizen’s right to express their gender identity or sexual orientation in consensual relationships. In 2013, another panel of the Supreme Court upheld Section 377.
26, 2017, President Donald Trump declared that
transgender people weren’t fit to serve in any branch of
the armed service in any capacity, citing a strain and
distraction to the United States military readiness. His
exact words were:
“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Marriage Equality in Germany
On June 30, 2017, Germany’s parliament passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage - a sudden landmark shift for LGBTQ rights in Europe’s most populous country.
The vote came days after Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled that she was open to changing Germany’s marriage laws to include same-sex couples, prompting a hurried push from opposition lawmakers to pass the so-called marriage-for-all legislation.
Merkel’s ruling coalition had long opposed a vote on same-sex marriage, an issue that is divisive among her conservative bloc. But during an interview on Monday with German women’s magazine Brigitte, Merkel said she was open to members of her coalition voting their conscience, rather than holding the party line.
Merkel’s shift came after she visited a lesbian couple raising eight foster children. She called her dinner with the family “a life-changing experience” and said she realized her party’s arguments against same-sex marriage were no longer valid.
Polls show that a strong majority of German voters favor same-sex marriage. A Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency survey earlier this year showed 83 percent of Germans support it.
Germany has allowed civil partnerships since 2001. But unlike many neighboring countries, it has lacked full same-sex marriage equality. A growing number of countries in Europe have legalized same-sex marriage, including Finland and Slovenia this year. Italy remains among European states that permit only civil unions and do not grant full rights afforded to married couples.
Important LGBTQ Issues After Marriage Equality
Now that the LGBTQ community has the legal right to marry, what challenges remain? What other important issues and concerns still face the LGBTQ community? What other problems still need to be solved?
Sesame Street Expresses Pride
“Sesame Street” sent a heartfelt message to LGBTQ people as cities across the US celebrated National LGBTQ Pride Month. On June 23, 2017, the classic children’s TV series tweeted a photograph that featured seven of its beloved characters, including Elmo, posed to form a rainbow. the accompanying message read, "Sesame Street is proud to support families of all shapes, sizes, and colors."
LGBTQ News Reports
Why Pride: Explanation for Straight People
Marriage Equality in Taiwan
On May 24, 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court declared that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry, the first such ruling in Asia, sparking celebration by activists who have been campaigning for the right for years.
The court, known as the Judicial Yuan, said current marriage laws were “in violation of both the people’s freedom of marriage and the people’s right to equality”, and it gave two years for legal amendments to allow same-sex marriage. “If relevant laws are not amended or enacted within the said two years, two persons of the same sex who intend to create the said permanent union shall be allowed to have their marriage registration effectuated,” the court said.
Hundreds of supporters of same-sex marriage gathered in the street next to the island’s parliament to celebrate the decision, holding colorful umbrellas to ward off a drizzle. “This ruling has made me very happy,” said Chi Chia-wei, a veteran gay rights activist who had petitioned the court to take up the issue. The ruling clearing the way for same-sex marriage is the first in Asia, where socially conservative attitudes largely hold sway.
Increased Calls to Trevor Project Suicide Hotline
The LGBTQ community was enjoying a growing wave of support, although admittedly it had a long way still to go. Marriage equality had been won, nondiscrimination ordinances were becoming more common, and it appeared as if the momentum was on our side. Then America elected Donald Trump to become our 45th president. Since then, that progress has looked more in danger than it has in years. For younger people, the turn can be particularly upsetting.
“After the election it became clear to me that young people needed our help more than ever,” reports Amit Paley, the new CEO of The Trevor Project, whose suicide prevention hotline has seen a noted increase in call volume. LGBTQ youth attempt and commit suicide at a higher percentage than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. “The day after the presidential election the Trevor Project’s call volume doubled, and there has been an increase in calls since then,” he said.
In May, Paley reported, The Trevor Project’s Lifeline received more calls than in its entire 19-year history. “The policies of this administration, no doubt about it, are directly harming young LGBTQ people,” Paley told The Daily Beast. “What’s so upsetting and shocking for them is that up until this point they had been growing up in a time of increasing acceptance and tolerance. Our mission is to end suicide among LGBTQ young people, and we are concerned by any activities that might reverse the progress we have made.”
“There are more people feeling in crisis and more people reaching out for help,” said Paley. “When the president of the United States and politicians in positions of power stand up and make LGBTQ people feel less-than, or make them feel their rights are being taken away from them, that has a significant impact on their self-worth. That’s our reason to be here: to say that no matter what anyone in Washington says, you are worthy, you are loved, you have dignity, and you are who you are and who you love does not lessen you as a person.”
LGBTQ News Reports
Religious Based Discrimination
Americans don’t think religious-based discrimination
should be lawful. The tide is turning in support of more
open policies toward the LBGTQ community.
In June 2017, the governor of Texas signed into law a bill that allows faith-based adoption groups to deny services “under circumstances that conflict with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs.” Critics, including the ACLU of Texas, say the new law could likely be used to discriminate against LGBTQ families in adoptions. This law is similar to those passed in Mississippi and Tennessee which also legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people based on religious convictions.
2016, the Tennessee legislature introduced a bill
allowing counselors to refuse to provide mental health
care services to anyone who violates their “sincerely
held religious beliefs,” including beliefs about LGBTQ
people. That bill did pass and was signed into law.
A number of Christian groups and outlets applauded the bills passed in Texas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. But according to a new report by the Public Religion Research Institute, support for religiously based service refusals is quickly declining. PRRI’s report, based on a survey of roughly 40,000 interviews, found that more than six in ten Americans oppose allowing small business owners in their state to refuse to provide goods and services to gay or lesbian people on religious grounds.
White evangelical Protestants continue to be the faith group most in favor of religiously motivated discrimination, though even among that group support has dropped. In 2015, 56 percent of white evangelicals were in favor of allowing business owners to deny services to gay and lesbian people. In 2016, the number had dropped to 50 percent.
Kim Davis: Symbol of Religious Opposition
Kim Davis is the county clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky, who gained international attention in August 2015 when she defied a US federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, following the June 26, 2015, US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. Davis, who has been married four times, reacted to the decision by denying marriage licenses to all couples, saying she was acting "under God's authority". Her defiance led to her being jailed, while both supporters and detractors hotly debated her stance in the national media. Marriage licenses in Rowan County are now being issued to all citizens as required by law.
elected county clerk in 2014 and promised to follow the
statutes of the office. A few months later, Obergefell
v. Hodges was decided and all county clerks were ordered
to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis
refused, citing her religious opposition to same-sex
marriage. Couples represented by the American Civil
Liberties Union who had been denied marriage licenses
from Davis filed and won a lawsuit against her, Miller
v. Davis, and she was ordered to start issuing marriage
licenses by the US District Court. Her lawyers tried to
appeal to the US Supreme Court, but the application to
appeal was denied. Davis continued to defy the court
order, refusing to issue marriage licenses, and was
ultimately jailed for contempt of court. She was
released from jail five days later, under the condition
that she not interfere with the efforts of her deputy
clerks, who had started issuing marriage licenses to all
couples. Davis then modified the Kentucky marriage
licenses to no longer mention her name.
Attorney and author Roberta A. Kaplan described Davis as "the clearest example of someone who wants to use a religious liberty argument to discriminate." Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that Davis' imprisonment was part of the "criminalization of Christianity." Columnist Jennifer Rubin compared Davis' refusal to obey the decision of the US Supreme Court to Alabama Governor George Wallace's "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door" in 1963.
Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama