Sexuality

Leading Opponent of LGBT Civil Rights to Lead Civil Rights Office

by Ian Millhiser – Earlier this week, according to a statement by several progressive groups*, President Donald Trump appointed Roger Severino, a leading anti-LGBT activist, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights. In doing so, Trump potentially gives Severino an opportunity to dismantle civil rights protections he criticized as a staffer at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Although Severino apparently was appointed without a formal announcement, his bio page at Heritage now states that he “is no longer a staff member at The Heritage Foundation.” In 2016, for example, Severino co-authored a Heritage report criticizing proposed Obama administration rules preventing discrimination against transgender patients within the health care system. Protecting trans people against such discrimination, Severino warned, would “penalize medical professionals and health care organizations that, as a matter of faith, moral conviction, or professional medical judgment, believe that maleness and femaleness are biological realities to...

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LGBT Community Centers See Wave of Vandalism Across the Country

by Zack Ford – It’s part of the broader wave of hate that has spread across the country since the election. Over the past two months, various LGBT centers have been targeted with vandalism. Fortunately, the attacks on these important resource spaces and gathering places have not resulted in anyone being hurt, but the damage is real. The latest pair of incidents took place this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. Shortly after midnight Monday morning, a white four-door truck drove past the center and fired multiple shots across the front door and windows of the center. Tulsa police recovered 13 pellets, but fortunately they did not penetrate the reinforced glass. It was the first time in the center’s 12-year history that it was targeted for a serious act of vandalism. Monday afternoon, a man then entered the Equality Center and began yelling at the staff,...

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A 16-Year-Old Canadian Girl is Behind Professional Bigot Milo Yiannopoulos’ Downfall

by wagatwe – Remember how Milo Yiannopoulos’ career seemingly exploded into flames in the span of a week? It felt like a long time ago, but the last straw — his resignation from Breitbart as their senior editor — was only 10 days ago. Bananas, right? Well, the story gets even better when you find out how this call came about. Turns out there’s a 16-year-old Canadian high school student who was the brains behind the extremely efficient operation. Vox caught up with this girl, whom they refer to as Julia, to learn why and how she did it. The teen describes herself as “very socially liberal” yet more conservative on economic and foreign policy issues. So why did she target Milo? Well, this is what she told Vox: “I see Milo as this embodiment of the awfulness you see over the past few years with the general tilt of millennial conservatism. It’s diverged from this traditional...

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Federal Judge Protects Transgender Students in Pennsylvania School

by Zack Ford – The three students, including the sister of President Trump’s inauguration singer, will be allowed back into the restrooms. At a time of great legal confusion for transgender students, there’s one piece of good news out of Pennsylvania, where a federal judge issued a ruling on Monday protecting trans students at a small district outside Pittsburgh. Judge Mark Hornak, an Obama appointee, issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Pine-Richland School District from enforcing Resolution 2, a policy that prohibited three trans students in the district from using restrooms matching their gender identity. Hornak concluded the students were likely to succeed on a constitutional claim that they had been denied equal protection under the law. “This is wonderful news and a tremendous relief that we can now use the bathroom without feeling isolated and humiliated,” Elissa Ridenour, one of the students, said in a Lambda Legal press release. Prior...

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‘Shocking’ Scale of Catholic Church Sex Crimes Revealed

More than 1,250 Catholic priests accused of child sex abuse in Australia with few allegations pursued in cover-up drive. About seven percent of Catholic priests in Australia were accused of sexually abusing children between 1950 and 2010, but few allegations were investigated, an inquiry in Sydney has heard. The scathing figures, released as hearings began on Monday over the allegations dating back decades, were compiled with the cooperation of the church as part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The commission, Australia’s highest level of inquiry, reported 4,444 alleged incidents of sexual abuse by Catholic priests between 1980 and 2015. The inquiry also heard that 1,265 priests and religious brothers and nuns had been accused during a 60-year period ending 2010. “These numbers are shocking. They are tragic and they are indefensible,” Franklin Sullivan, head of the church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, told the commission in Sydney....

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Oklahoma Considers Extreme Pro-Discrimination ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill

by Zack Ford – The conservative state fell behind on anti-LGBT legislation in 2016 and is trying to catch up. In 2016, Oklahoma set a record for the most anti-LGBT bills introduced in one session, worsting Texas from the year before. Fortunately, legislative deadlines kept them from advancing, but now one lawmaker is back with what appears to be one of the most extreme “religious liberty” proposals any state has considered. Behind the measure is Sen. Joseph Silk (R), who has an extensive record of particularly anti-LGBT legislation and statements. He calls his new bill, SB 197, the “Oklahoma Right of Conscience Act,” but it explicitly enables discrimination against LGBT people — and possibly just about anyone else! SB 197 ensures that no one ever has to provide any services used in or to promote “a marriage ceremony or celebration of a specific lifestyle or behavior.” Additionally, such denials will be immune to any...

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Rights Icons Join Women’s March as Organizers Aim to Build “Movement for Dignity”

by Nadia Prupis – “Together we are bridging the historical struggles for women’s rights and civil rights to the current intersectional movement for dignity and human rights.” The Women’s March on Washington, a mass mobilization to champion women’s rights, is growing as President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration approaches. Organizers announced on Tuesday that several high-profile supporters, including Gloria Steinem and Harry Belafonte, will be joining the January 21 march as honorary co-chairs. Planned Parenthood has also signed on as a partner. “This is a historic moment to come together to protect the progress we’ve made,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement. “We will send a strong message to the incoming administration that millions of people across this country are prepared to fight attacks on reproductive health care, abortion services, and access to Planned Parenthood, as they intersect with the rights of young people, people of color, immigrants, and people...

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Ted Cruz to Introduce Bill Allowing Discrimination Against LGBT Americans Nationwide

by Hunter   – Led by Sen. Ted Cruz, Republicans will be wasting no time in their efforts to roll back civil rights for LGBT Americans. would prohibit the federal government from taking “discriminatory action” against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ people. The act distinctly aims to protect the right of all entities to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on two sets of beliefs: “(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” The intentionally broadly-written law would, in other words, enshrine the “right” of any private business to deny service to gay Americans outright if they are personally opposed to marriage equality. It would not merely allow businesses to deny their services in same-sex marriage ceremonies themselves: it would allow any business to...

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NAACP Pushes for National Economic Boycott of North Carolina

by Alice Miranda Ollstein – Civil rights activists are also preparing lawsuits and mass protests to pressure the state’s Republican majority. Late Wednesday night, North Carolina Republicans reneged on their promise to repeal HB2, known colloquially as the “bathroom bill.” The legislation contained a number of controversial provisions, but chiefly banned transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify and barred cities from passing laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination. The law has already cost the state hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars. On Thursday, the North Carolina NAACP announced it will turn up the heat on the state. The group plans to file lawsuits against the state, organize mass protests, and call for an economic boycott to pressure lawmakers to repeal HB2 and other legislation they say infringes on civil rights. “Enough is enough,” said Reverend Dr. William Barber, the president of the...

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Federal Judge Concludes Transgender Worker can Sue for Sex Discrimination

by Zack Ford – Discrimination based on gender conformity is discrimination based on sex. A federal court in Kentucky is allowing a transgender workplace discrimination suit to proceed, recognizing that mistreatment in regards to gender identity constitutes illegal discrimination on the basis of sex. Plaintiff Mykel Mickens sued General Electric Appliances (GE) for harassment and disparate treatment in the workplace. He was not permitted to use the men’s restroom, so he had to use a facility much farther away from his work station, and he was then disciplined for how long his breaks were to accommodate that journey. Mickens also had a conflict with an employee, but though GE addressed a complaint one of his white, female colleagues had with that employee, his complaint went unaddressed. He says that when he disclosed that he was transgender to his supervisor, he was singled out and reprimanded for conduct no one else was reprimanded...

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‘Identity Politics’ Actually Won in North Carolina (VIDEO)

by Zack Ford – Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has finally conceded defeat, and he lost for being anti-LGBT. The gubernatorial race in North Carolina was close, though not quite as close as originally thought. After weeks of challenges, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) conceded Monday, making him the only incumbent governor who was not reelected in 2016. McCrory’s unique loss can only be attributed to his opposition to LGBT equality. He lost to Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) by just over 10,000 votes in a year when North Carolina otherwise voted more heavily Republican. Donald Trump (R), who McCrory openly campaigned with, bested Hillary Clinton (D) by about 173,000 votes. Sen. Richard Burr (R) held his seat with 267,000 more votes than challenger Deborah Ross (D). The major thing that differentiated McCrory from the candidates in these other races is that HB2 defined his campaign. HB2 was the law the North Carolina legislature...

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Prepare Your Daughters to Re-Fight the Battles Their Grandmothers had Won

by Victor Klemperer Respawned – I have been banging this drum for a long time, but the threat of a Trump (or God forbid, a Pence) administration adds new urgency. At the end of the day, the issue comes down to something real simple.  If you read the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Alito is clear they are not stopping with abortion.   Setting the stage for a repeal of Roe v. Wade isn’t going to satisfy these guys.  They are chomping at the bit to repeal Griswold v. Connecticut.  Griswold is the case that struck down a Connecticut law that had made the use of birth control by married couples illegal. You know who brought the case over 50 years ago that set the stage for access to birth control?  Estelle Griswold, the executive director of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut.  So don’t be fooled by the apparent ahistorical nature of the Republicons.  They know exactly...

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Calls to LGBT Suicide Hotlines are Coming in at Five Times the Normal Rate this Week

by Jen Hayden – People across the nation are terrified, but LGBT Americans are truly suffering deep pain, fearful that their livelihood and even their very lives are in danger. From Mother Jones: Two LGBT suicide prevention hotlines told Mother Jones that calls to their services have spiked since Donald Trump was elected president. Trans Hotline, a nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention for transgender people, has received at least five times the call volume it normally gets. And the Trevor Project, the nation’s only LGBT youth-focused suicide prevention hotline, received more calls, texts, and online chats on Wednesday than it’s gotten on a single day in four years, more than double its normal daily volume. “We started getting increased call volume at about 10 p.m. on election night, and it hasn’t slowed down at all,” said Gretta Martela, director of Trans Hotline, on Thursday afternoon. “In fact, it’s on the rise still.” The hotline...

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Supreme Court Will Rule on Long-Delayed Transgender Rights Case

by Nadia Prupis – Judges will review lower court decision that found 17-year-old Gavin Grimm is legally allowed to use male facilities at his high school. The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday it would hear a transgender rights case that has captured national attention regarding whether students can use school facilities that correspond with their gender identity, rather than their biological sex. The judges will review an April decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that found Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old Virginia transgender boy, is legally allowed to use male facilities at his high school in Gloucester County. The school board appealed the ruling. In August, the Supreme Court blocked the order until the case could be reviewed, meaning Gloucester High School is still able to ban Grimm from using the boy’s restroom. Josh Block, senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) LGBTQ project, which represents Grimm,...

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North Carolina Just Lost out on Another 730 Jobs Because of its Anti-LGBT Law

by Zack Ford – Discrimination doesn’t pay. This week, North Carolina found out it is not getting 730 new jobs and a quarter-billion-dollar impact that it was the top contender for. The reason? Its anti-LGBT law, HB2, which bans trans people from using the bathroom and bars municipalities from protecting LGBT people from discrimination. CoStar Group Inc., a real estate analytics company, had been shopping around cities to build a new research operations headquarters, and the contenders were Charlotte, Richmond, Atlanta, and Kansas City. The Atlanta Business Chronicle heard from sources that Charlotte was the favorite. But the jobs are going to Richmond. According to David Dorsch, CoStar Group’s commercial real estate broker, “The primary reason they chose Richmond over Charlotte was HB2.” CoStar Group was itself, a bit mum, simply confirming the jobs were going to Richmond — and no expansions were planned anywhere else. But Dorsch was adamant that the jobs were...

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Highlighting Damage of Lack of Clinic Funding, CDC Says STDs at All-Time High

by Andrea Germanos – “Given the surge in STDs, now is not the time to reduce funding to combat these diseases,” says National Coalition of STD Directors. At a moment of diminishing clinic services, the rate of sexually transmitted diseases in the country is the highest on record, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this week. “STD rates are rising, and many of the country’s systems for preventing STDs have eroded,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, in a press statement. He added that “we’re beginning to see people slip through the public health safety net.” Noting that the new data, released Wednesday, only shows reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, the CDC says that its “annual surveillance report captures only a fraction of the true burden of STDs in America.” Indeed, the CDC says that...

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The Most Important Gay Rights Case Since Marriage Equality was Won

by Ian Millhiser – No one should be fired because of who they love. Americans enjoy a fundamental right to marry, regardless of whether they are straight, bisexual, or gay. Yet, in more than half of the states, “a person can be married on Saturday and then fired on Monday for just that act,” as one federal court explained in a recent opinion. There is no federal law that explicitly protects workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Moreover, while there are very strong arguments that existing protections against gender discrimination are broad enough to protect sexual minorities in the workplace, the courts have largely rejected these arguments. As a result, if you live in one of the 28 states that does not forbid discrimination against gay and bisexual workers, you can be fired because of the person you love. A federal appeals court appears poised to change that, however, at...

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Michelle Obama Delivers the Most Powerful Indictment yet of Trump’s Misogyny (VIDEO)

by Adam Peck – At first glance, it looked like a typical Hillary Clinton campaign event in New Hampshire on Thursday afternoon. But First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a campaign speech that was far from typical. Obama was there to talk about Donald Trump’s history of sexual harassment, the scope and magnitude of which is still only just coming to light. Allegations against the failed businessman stretch back decades, but the public’s first real glimpse into the depths of Trump’s depravity came last week, when tapes of him recounting the times he would approach women and “grab them by the pussy” were surfaced by the Washington Post. Since then, multiple women have come forward with stories of their run-ins with Trump behind closed doors and away from prying eyes. “We saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women. And I can’t believe that I’m saying that. A candidate for president...

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Republican U.S. Senate Candidate in Colorado: Pregnancy from Rape is a ‘Gift from God’

by Jen Hayden – Oh, Republican men. Just what in the hell is it with you guys? In 2012, Claire McCaskill was able to win re-election after conservative Todd Akin said “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” In that same year, Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock said, “I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.” Now a 2015 video of Colorado conservative Darryl Glenn making similarly outrageous comments have surfaced. From the Colorado Springs Independent: At the Jefferson County event, Glenn says: If you want an abortion, don’t ask me to pay for it. That’s not something I’m gonna agree with. That’s a gift from God. There are no exceptions with that. But that doesn’t mean...

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Massive Uprising by Polish Women Just Forced Right-Wing Government to Drop Abortion Ban

by Nika Knight – Ruling far-right party surprised opponents by reversing position on draconian abortion ban Poland’s ruling far-right Law and Justice party has reversed its support for a draconian abortion ban after women across the country went on strike to protest the proposed legislation. Jarosław Gowin, the minister of science and higher education, “said on Wednesday that protests had ’caused us to think and taught us humility,'” the Guardian reported. “In one of the biggest policy climb-downs since winning power 11 months ago, Law and Justice lawmakers on Wednesday voted down the same measure they passed two weeks earlier,” Bloomberg reported, “sending it back to the lower house of parliament for a final vote.” “As part of ‘Black Monday,’ more than 100,000 protesters vowed to boycott work or school,” as Common Dreams reported, launching a massive mobilization against the legislation that would have criminalized abortion in nearly all...

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Religious Freedom Follies: Invoking Faith to Discriminate in Health Care

by Daniel Mach – On September 16, ACLU filed a motion to intervene in Franciscan Alliance v. Burwell on behalf of the ACLU of Texas and the River City Gender Alliance. In this three-part blog series, we examine why this case matters from a transgender rights, reproductive rights, and religious freedom perspective. Yet again, opponents of critical civil rights measures are trying to turn back the clock and undo important equality gains under the guise of religious liberty. This time, the main targets are transgender people seeking health care and women seeking reproductive health care. But while the details may change, the underlying principle doesn’t: Religious freedom is an essential right, but it shouldn’t be a license to discriminate. The latest civil rights assault comes in a new lawsuit filed in Texas by five states and several religiously affiliated health care organizations,Franciscan Alliance v. Burwell.  The groups are challenging a federal regulation implementing Section 1557 of the...

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North Carolina Governor Eases Off Defending Anti-LGBT Law — Except not at All

by Zack Ford – Pat McCrory is holding HB2 repeal hostage, demanding Charlotte’s LGBT protections be repealed first. There’s a lot of chatter coming out of North Carolina about the possibility of repealing HB2, the odious anti-LGBT law that dictates what bathrooms transgender people can use, but it’s actually just a new spin on the same talking points Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has been using to defend it for months. In the wake of the NCAA and ACC pulling their championships from the state this week, the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (NCRLA) is trying to stop the economic bleeding. In a statement released Friday, the group implied its support for a compromise it believes it could broker to repeal HB2. NCRLA president and CEO Lynn Minges explained the proposal: NCRLA has received assurances this week from legislative leadership, that if the Charlotte City Council repeals Ordinance #7056 at their meeting...

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New York Court Expands Definition Of ‘Parent’ To Recognize Same-Sex Couples

by Zack Ford – Children do indeed have “parents” that are non-biological, non-married, and non-adoptive The New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled Tuesday that the same-sex partner of a child’s biological parent should also be legally recognized as a parent, even if the couple was not married and the partner did not adopt the child, as was previously the rule. The decision overturns a 25-year precedent that left same-sex couples who had separated out to dry when they sought visitation or custody of their children. The case of Brooke B. v Elizabeth C. involved a same-sex couple that had a child together using artificial insemination from an anonymous donor. They raised their son together, but separated about a year later in 2010 — a year before New York’s legislature approved marriage equality. In 2013, Elizabeth, the biological parent, cut off contact between Brooke and their son, so she...

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Is The Department Of Education’s Work On Campus Sexual Assault In Danger?

by Casey Quinlan – Over the past several years, Title IX — the federal statute that protects students from gender-based harassment — has become an important tool for campus activists to hold their colleges accountable when it comes to the way administrators are responding to cases of sexual assault and harassment. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights currently has 246 open investigations into 195 colleges and universities to examine the way they have handled sexual assault cases brought by students. But Republican lawmakers and universities have long been critical of this aspect of Title IX enforcement, saying that the government is overstepping its authority on college campuses. Most of these criticisms have been overblown. But new developments in a case regarding how Title IX should be interpreted regarding the rights of transgender students turns the opposition into more than hot air. Now, the U.S. Department of Education’s ability to enforce this law might...

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Federal Judge Blocks Obama Administration From Protecting Transgender Kids

by Zack Ford – Anti-LGBT judge issues anti-LGBT ruling just in time for school to start Surprising nobody, a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction Sunday barring the federal government from enforcing its guidelines protecting transgender kids in schools. The injunction was a response to a lawsuit filed by Texas and about a dozen other states challenging guidance issued by the Departments of Education and Justice earlier this year. The guidance stated that Title IX’s nondiscrimination protections on the basis of “sex” protect transgender students in accordance with their gender identity, such that they must be allowed to use the bathrooms and play on sports teams that match their gender. Texas Transgender Injunction (8-21) facilities which match their gender identity rather than their biological sex.3 Plaintiffs claim that on May 13, 2016…www.scribd.com Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee whose anti-LGBT reputation precedes him, concluded Sunday that Texas had a...

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Alabama’s Chief Justice Faces Possible Ejection over Gay Marriage Resistance

by Scott Shackford – It would be the second time Roy Moore was stripped of his title Infamously anti-gay Christian conservative Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is back in the news and may possibly get stripped of his job yet again. The state has ordered Moore to face trial in September over accusations of ethical violations. In 2015, as federal courts started striking down state-level bans on same-sex marriage recognition, but before the Supreme Court ruled, Moore pushed the governor and the state to ignore any federal court rulings that did not comport with Moore’s position against same-sex marriage and said he wanted to “stop judicial tyranny and any opinions issued without constitutional authority.” Moore’s attitude toward marriage recognition did not change after the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling obligating all states to treat gay marriages the same way they treat straight marriages. In January this year, months after the ruling, Moore...

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After Same-Sex Marriage Victory, Jim Obergefell Looks Ahead To Remaining LGBT Battles

by Kira Lerner – On June 26 of last year, Jim Obergefell’s hard-to-pronounce last name was on the lips of millions of Americans when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor, extending the right to marry to same sex couples across the country. The decisive victory was cause for much celebration, especially for advocates in the LGBT community like Obergefell, who filed the suit two years earlier so that he could be named on his dying husband’s death certificate in Ohio. And celebrate Obergefell did. In the past year, he has officiated numerous weddings and been honored by President Obama and at countless other events and ceremonies. The progress made in the LGBT community since the last presidential election certainly warrants celebration. Speaking to ThinkProgress from the Philadelphia Convention Center on the last day of the Democratic National Convention, Obergefell called the Democrats’ policy document “the most progressive and supportive...

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Gonorrhea Could One Day Be Untreatable, Doctors Say

by ANNA SCANLON – Gonorrhea has long been a sexually transmitted disease that is treated with a strong dose of antibiotics. However, it may soon become untreatable as it develops resistance to the two antibiotics left that can treat it: azithromycin and ceftriaxon. CBS News reports that antibiotic resistant strains of this STD have more than quadrupled in the United States. Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, stated: “The confluence of emerging drug resistance and very limited alternative options for treatment creates a perfect storm for future gonorrhea treatment failure in the U.S.” However, the rates of antibiotic resistant strains are still low, despite the fourfold increase in gonorrhea that is resistant to azithromycin. The rate recently rose from 0.6 percent to 2.5 percent. For the other drug used to treat the disease, ceftriaxon, antibiotic resistance has doubled from 0.4 percent to...

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North Carolina Governor Attacks NBA For Pulling 2017 All-Star Game

by ZACK FORD – The NBA announced Thursday that it will no longer hold its All-Star Game in Charlotte next year because North Carolina state lawmakers refused to backtrack on HB2, the anti-transgender law passed earlier this year. Though the event would have had a $100 million impact on the city, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) simply doesn’t care if that’s what it takes to keep HB2 on the books. In an interview Friday morning with Mike Collins of Charlotte Talks, McCrory seemed to shrug off the latest economic blow in response to the discriminatory law. “I’m disappointed, I strongly disagree with their decision, and to put it bluntly, I think it’s total PC BS,” he said. “It’s an insult to our city, it’s an insult to our state, and I think it sets a dangerous precedent of the corporate sports and entertainment elite basically asking for a quid pro quo...

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A GOP Governor’s Unbelievable Defense Of Her Party’s Anti-LGBT Platform (VIDEO)

by ZACK FORD – At their convention this week, Republicans are set to approve a particularly anti-LGBT platform. It calls for overturning marriage equality, banning same-sex parenting, restricting transgender people’s access to bathrooms, and ensuring parents can force harmful conversion therapy on their LGBT kids. Party leaders, however, deny that it’s anti-LGBT at all. On CNN, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), co-chair of the Republicans’ platform committee, explained that their priority with those planks was to “make America great” and to “stand for the human rights of all people, not just one segment, one class, one race, one preference, but for all people in the United States.” Besides, she said, there were gay people on the committee, insisting, “We’re an inclusive party; we’re a big tent.” “The main thing is: We think all human beings, no matter who you are, deserve respect, deserve equal treatment, and should be respected in...

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Check out this Billboard that’s up Near the Republican National Convention

by FaithGardner – Oh how I wish I could see the reaction convention-goers will have when driving into Cleveland for the RNC and beholding this billboard. PlantingPeace is the organization responsible for the rainbow Equality House that sits near the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. The organization has also sponsored political billboards in the past in various states—and their new billboard that just went up in Cleveland is truly a thing of beauty. From Planting Peace President Aaron Jackson: What Donald, Ted and the republican platform either fail to realize, or realize and just don’t seem to care about, is that their words and actions toward our LGBT family — especially LGBT children–have meaning and impact. LGBT children hear these messages telling them they are nothing but second class citizens and are left feeling somehow broken or “less than.” We challenge the GOP to think about how many times their children could hear messages like these and not...

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Congressman Cummings Destroys Arguments For License-To-Discriminate Bill In Three Minutes Flat

by CELISA CALACAL & EVAN POPP – Exactly one month after the deadliest gun massacre in recent U.S. history at a gay bar in Orlando, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on Tuesday on a bill that would give a license to discriminate against gay individuals under the guise of freedom of religion. The bill, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), was introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) last year, and would provide special legal protections to individuals who oppose same-sex marriage and those who oppose extramarital sex. Under the bill, the government cannot deny tax subsidies, grants, or benefits to individuals or religious organizations who harbor anti-LGBT views. While the bill’s authors and supporters on the panel attempted to frame the bill as a logical extension of the First Amendment’s freedom of religion clause and claimed it was “not a...

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Churches File Nonsense Suit Challenging Iowa’s LGBT Protections

by ZACK FORD – Iowa’s law protecting LGBT people from discrimination should be overturned, two churches are arguing, because they want to be able to discriminate against transgender people who might come to their services. The Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, represented by the anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), filed a federal lawsuit this week against the Iowa Civil Rights Commission seeking to completely knockdown the LGBT-inclusive Iowa Civil Rights Act. Cornerstone World Outreach, an historically litigious church based in Sioux City, similarly sent a demand letter to the Commission Tuesday afternoon with representation from another anti-LGBT legal organization, the First Liberty Institute. The ADF suit argues that Fort Des Moines holds religious beliefs that do not recognize the gender identities of transgender people. In response to recent advances in transgender equality, including the federal government’s suit challenging North Carolina’s HB2 and Target reminding customers of its inclusive restroom policy,...

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If This Is How North Carolina Republicans Think HB2 Can Be Fixed, They’re Wrong

by ZACK FORD – Pressure from the NBA over where it will hold its All Star Game next year was apparently enough for North Carolina Republicans to rethink HB2, the anti-transgender law forced through earlier this year, according to the Charlotte Observer. A drafted bill circulating in the House of Representatives, however, does absolutely nothing to address the primary concern raised by transgender advocates. One of HB2’s most burdensome requirements is that transgender people are forbidden from using restrooms in public buildings that match their gender identity. Currently, the only way for an individual to change their birth certificate is to undergo a surgery that can be expensive, that is sterilizing, and that not all trans people want or need to resolve their gender dysphoria. The new bill doesn’t change this requirement at all, but merely creates a new process for meeting it. The drafted legislation instead suggests creating a...

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God, Gays, Guns And Orlando

by Terrance Heath – The tragedy in Orlando reveals that the three issues that once made up the Republican’s “winning formula” may have finally ripened into political poison for the GOP. In 1994, James Inhofe told Oklahoma voters that the senate race could be summed up in “the three Gs — God, Gays, and Guns.” Inhofe, whose victory propelled him into the senate the same year that Republicans took both houses of Congress, wasn’t just summarizing the Oklahoma senate race. He identified the major support beams of the GOPs “culture war” platform that had a significant impact on politics throughout the 1990s, and delivered significant victories for Republicans well into the 2000s. It was defined by an insistence that government endorse and enforce conservative Christian morality, codify anti-gay discrimination and prohibit LGBT equality, and allow almost unrestricted access to guns. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack, hate crime, and...

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Hillary Clinton’s Real Record On LGBT Rights (VIDEO)

by Wendy Gittleson – Hillary Clinton is a complicated woman running in a country that wants its political platforms to fit on a trucker’s cap. As a candidate, she has taken a lot of heat from progressives for being late to coming around to marriage equality. She was, but it’s not that simple. If you scratch just a little beneath the surface, you’ll find a true champion of LGBT rights throughout the world. When it comes to Clinton’s evolution on LGBT rights, there are a lot of legitimate complaints. First, her husband’s legacy, although also not that simple, is the failed military policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Bill Clinton didn’t love the policy, but it was what he saw as the best compromise at the time. Of course, that wasn’t Hillary’s policy. In fact, in 1999, she said she was against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, so let’s move on....

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Prince William Appears On Cover Of Gay Magazine, Speaks Out Against Bullying

by Amanda Froelich – Prince William is more than the heir to the British throne, he’s an inspirational activist to many. Recently, the Duke of Cambridge appeared on the cover of Attitude, a U.K. gay lifestyle magazine. Newsweek relays that the Prince is the first in the royal family to grace the cover of such a publication, which is why the news has gone viral. The 33-year-old heir was photographed by Leigh Kelly at Kensington Palace for the feature which will be published in July. He also discussed with the publication’s editor, Matthew Todd, about the impact of bullying and mental health in the LGBT+ community. Said Prince William: “No one should be bullied for their sexuality or any other reason and no one should have to put up with the kind of hate that these young people have endured in their lives. The young gay, lesbian and transgender individuals...

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Who Wins from the Terrorist Attack in Orlando, Florida? Donald Trump

by Chauncey DeVega – During the early Sunday morning hours, 53 people were murdered in a Orlando, Florida nightclub by a man named Omar Mateen. According to early reports, he may have been inspired by the terrorist group ISIS. This massacre is the result of too easy access to firearms and the noxious power of radical religion and anti-gay hatred. 53 people are dead and at least 50 people are injured. The latter will most likely add to the total of the former. In all, many thousands of people will be impacted both directly and indirectly by the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. This terrorist attack will also impact the American people’s the sense of well-being, safety, and security. The pundit and chattering classes have misjudged the rise of Donald Trump and his brand of proto fascism at almost every juncture. These so-called smart people predicted that Trump...

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House Democrats Say Republicans May Be Leaking Information To Anti-Abortion Groups

by LAUREL RAYMOND – In March, the House investigation into Planned Parenthood took a dark turn, subpoenaing a list of names of doctors and researchers involved in fetal tissue research. At the time, Democrats on the committee likened it to a witch hunt. Now, Democrats are calling out for her “reckless disregard” for the privacy and safety of those medical professionals — following the public, unredacted release of the some of their names. “This Panel has shown a reckless disregard for protecting private information and now a troubling possibility has come to light,” Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky said in a press statement. “Inexplicably, anti-abortion activists have learned of confidential information provided to the Panel — raising the specter that the Republicans may be funneling confidential information back to those individuals and groups.” Democrats on the committee have long warned that the investigation was ignoring important rules around privacy and putting...

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University Of North Carolina Reverses On Complying With HB2

by ZACK FORD – The University of North Carolina (UNC) has made clear in legal filings that it will not enforce HB2, the state’s law requiring transgender people be refused access to restrooms in accordance with their gender identity. This is a reversal of sorts from the university’s prior position. After HB2 first became law, UNC President Margaret Spellings announced that the system would comply with it, in that bathrooms and changing facilities would be “designated for and used only by persons based on their biological sex.” This is despite the fact that the university includes — and would continue to include — “gender identity” in its nondiscrimination policy. Her guidance noted, however, that the law “does not contain provisions concerning enforcement of the bathroom and changing facility requirements.” Though students were outraged by the compliance, it seemed that without enforcement, the status quo would not change. Multiple suits have...

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Gender Explained: How the Obama Administration Is Getting It Right on Gender Identity

by KAREN DOLAN – While society catches up with science, we need legal protections to stop discrimination and violence against people who identify as transgender The U.S. government is officially suing the state of North Carolina over its controversial, discriminatory “bathroom bill,” which bars transgender residents from using public restrooms appropriate to their gender identity. In announcing the lawsuit, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave a powerful speech invoking the state’s segregationist past. “It was not so very long ago that states, including North Carolina, had signs above restrooms, water fountains, and on public accommodations keeping people out based upon a distinction without a difference,” she said of the South’s Jim Crow laws. “We have moved beyond those dark days, but not without pain and suffering and an ongoing fight to keep moving forward. Let us write a different story this time.” Then, in a surprising tag-team move, the Department of...

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Right-Wing Pastor Calls Upon Christians To Die Fighting Transgender Equality

by Stephen D Foster Jr – In response to the Department of Justice’s guidelines preventing school officials from demanding that students prove their gender identity to use a restroom, Franklin Graham took to Facebook to whine and call upon Christians to die fighting transgender protections and President Obama. Graham, also known as Billy Graham’s demon spawn, posted a lengthy message on his Facebook page on Sunday night asking conservative Christians to “take a bullet” for their beliefs instead of following the law. “What would you take a bullet for?” Graham asked. “What are the principles and beliefs that you would not compromise under any circumstances? Even if it meant putting your life on the line?” And of course, that led into a Bible story featuring Christians martyring themselves. King Nebuchadnezzar who reigned over Babylon issued a decree that everyone worship the golden image he had made. Three men who knew the...

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Franklin Graham’s Daughter: 9/11 Happened Because God Is Mad At Trans People (AUDIO)

by Shannon Barber – Religious bigots continue their hateful rhetoric against transgender people at alarming rates, and now Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of hateful evangelical pastor Franklin Graham and sister to the equally hateful Billy Graham, has jumped into the fray as well. Her statements are especially outrageous; in fact, she has said that the reason the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil happened is because God is  upset that transgender people exist. Lotz appeared on a right-wing hate radio show run by Steve Deace to express her horrible opinions. She said to Deace: “What I see in the nation of America right now, just the chaos on every level. There is silliness, there is craziness, there’s the most illogical rulings. The one in North Carolina on HB2, which is to protect our children in bathrooms and locker rooms, has become something where the justice department is suing us...

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Epic Week For Transgender Rights Expands With Health Care Protections

by ZACK FORD – On Friday afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a new rule regarding the implementation of nondiscrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It guarantees that transgender people cannot be denied health care by professionals that receive federal funding, and also that it is discriminatory to refuse them access to transition-related services. The ACA’s Section 1557 banned discrimination in health care on the basis of “sex” for the first time in U.S. law. Like other departments in the Obama administration have done, HHS interpreted this to include all aspects of gender identity, guaranteeing transgender people have access to the services they require: A covered entity shall provide individuals equal access to its health programs or activities without discrimination on the basis of sex; and a covered entity shall treat individuals consistent with their gender identity, except that a covered entity may not...

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Target CEO Tells Anti-Transgender Boycotters To Drop Dead (VIDEO)

by Oliver Willis – Brian Cornell, the CEO of the Target chain of stores, is not backing down to the demands of the religious right. The chain prompted backlash from the far right after it said it would allow people to use whichever bathroom in its stores that correspond to their gender identity. Conservatives, including national figures like Senator Ted Cruz, insisted that somehow sexual predators would take the store’s policy to be a green light for assaults on women and young girls. The idea that this would happen is a complete myth, but has been used to pass anti-transgender laws in states like North Carolina and Mississippi. When Target announced their policy, some figures on the religious right called for the store to be boycotted until they changed their minds, while others have engaged in weird protests, blocking access to Target bathrooms. In an interview with CNBC, Cornell stood his...

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The Legal War Over North Carolina’s Bathrooms Takes A Bizarre New Twist

by ZACK FORD – A fifth federal lawsuit has been filed over North Carolina’s HB2, which requires public schools and offices to refuse transgender people access to facilities that match their gender identity. The suit expresses concern over the potential loss of Title IX funding for the state’s schools and universities, but with a bizarre twist: it does so by actually defending the discriminatory law. The complaint was filed by “North Carolinians for Privacy,” a coalition of an unknown number of public school students, public university students, and their parents — none of whom is identified by name. It calls upon the courts to rule against the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Education’s (DOE) interpretation that transgender people are protected from discrimination under Title IX so that North Carolina’s schools won’t lose funding for abiding by HB2. Perhaps uncoincidentally, it complements the suit filed Monday by Gov. Pat...

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ACLU Sues Mississippi Over ‘Slap in the Face’ Anti-LGBT Law

by Nadia Prupis – The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction against a law they say would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT clients The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Mississippi on Monday filed a lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s anti-LGBTQ legislation that the groups say allows businesses to discriminate against gay and transgender people. The claim targets the state’s Health Statistics and Vital Records department and was filed on behalf of an engaged couple that faces discrimination because the bill, HB 1523, states that businesses may deny services to LBGTQ clients based on their religious beliefs. The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction against the law, which is set to go into effect in July. “When HB 1523 passed, it was heartbreaking because it takes away our chance to finally be treated equally,” said the plaintiffs, Nykolas Alford and Stephen Thomas, who have been engaged for nearly two years. “This law...

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DOJ Tells North Carolina Republicans That Anti-LGBT Law Violates Civil Rights Act

by Stephen D Foster Jr – There has been a national uproar over HB2 ever since North Carolina Republicans passed it into law last month. The law allows business owners to discriminate against LGBT customers and employees under the guise of religious freedom, including transgender people, whom Republicans claim are a threat to women and children in bathrooms despite the fact that there have been no instances of a transgender person using protections to defend sexually assaulting a woman or child in a bathroom. What HB2 has done is cause an all-out revolt against the state by lawmakers, corporations, small businesses, activists, and entertainers. Business projects are being halted and concerts are being cancelled, causing a loss of potential jobs and needed boosts to local economies. And it is about to get even worse as North Carolina now faces the loss of millions of federal dollars because the Department of Justice has...

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Congressional Republicans Attach North Carolina-Style Discrimination To Defense Budget

by ZACK FORD – Republicans in Congress have indicated that they like what’s been happening in North Carolina and want to see some of the same anti-LGBT discrimination at the federal level. Last week, they added an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act intended to roll back LGBT protections introduced by the Obama administration in 2014 in a way that mirrors North Carolina’s HB2. Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) introduced his amendment shortly after midnight Friday morning in the House Armed Services Committee. Though the text of his measure does not specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity, it is that absence that actually defines what he hoped to accomplish with it. Federal law does not explicitly offer any protections in employment, housing, or public accommodations to LGBT people, though some oversight has been inconsistently secured under protections based on “sex”. That’s why in 2014, President Obama issued an executive...

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Does Electing Women Matter? Here’s What The Research Says

by LAUREL RAYMOND – Women are front and center this election, in part because a woman, Hillary Clinton, is front and center. Online, the conversation plays out again and again: What’s the real significance of electing the first female president? Is the symbolism itself revolutionary? Are the young women who don’t endorse Clinton betraying the sisterhood — or conversely, are the women who do support her following her blindly? What should it mean to voters that she could be the first woman in history to lead the United States? “Women in politics,” however, means far more than just Hillary Clinton herself. America is 50 percent female. Congress, currently at a record high for gender diversity, is still only 19 percent female (and just 6 percent women of color). This year has a potential to be a watershed for women’s representation: Hundreds of women are vying for Senate and House seats. Six...

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Glenn Beck’s Bullsh*t Defense Of Bigoted Bathroom Bills Is Pure Stupidity (AUDIO)

by Kerry-Anne – Glenn Beck has shared his opinion on the bigoted Bathroom Bill in North Carolina which forces transgender people to use toilets contrary to their gender identity. Beck’s bullsh*t defense of the plans is just about the stupidest thing you’ll hear all day – and we’re in an election cycle. Beck argues that his support of the bathroom bills popping up across the nation’s red states is absolutely nothing to do with bigotry and transphobia. According to Beck: “It has nothing to do with hate. It has everything to do with common sense. But we have detached from common sense.” He then, of course, launches into the same entirely hateful, ignorant, fear-mongering which Ted Cruz and Curt Schilling have engaged in during the course of the debate. He creates the specter of his young daughter being confronted by a man pretending to be a woman in the bathroom –...

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Colorado Supreme Court Rejects Anti-Gay Baker’s Claim Of Religious Freedom

by ZACK FORD – The Colorado Supreme Court announced Monday that it will not hear an appeal brought by a man who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple — upholding lower court rulings that concluded this decision was in violation of the state’s sexual orientation nondiscrimination protections. Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop has argued that declining to sell a cake to David Mullins and Charlie Craig (as well as other same-sex couples) was an expression of his religious freedom to refuse to contribute his “artistic expression” to a same-sex wedding, noting that his shop otherwise serves gay people. So far, the courts haven’t found this argument compelling. Phillips lost his case at a lower court in 2013 and then again at the Colorado Court of Appeals last August. As the Court of Appeals ruled, refusing to serve a same-sex wedding cannot be distinguished from discrimination on the...

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Fox Host Shatters Conservative Claim That Bathroom Bills Are Needed To Stop Predators (VIDEO)

by Stephen D Foster Jr – A Fox host actually debunked a conservative talking point by doing what a real journalist does best: research. An anti-LGBT conservative columnist appeared on Fox News Sunday to defend anti-LGBT laws that ban transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Ben Domenech argued that such laws are necessary to protect women and children from predators whom right-wingers claim will use transgender protections to get into women’s restrooms to sexually harass and assault victims. “That’s actually what people are concerned about,” The Federalist columnist claimed. “They’re less concerned about transgender people coming into bathrooms than they are about men using this as a way to get into locker rooms with women and to exploit that opportunity to participate in some kind of criminal act.” Of course, predators can already do that and no law will stop them from doing it anyway...

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This New Bill Wants To Regulate Viagra To Fight Against Anti-Abortion Measures

by Brianna Acuesta – A bill proposed by South Carolina Representative Mia McLeod seeks to regulate the administering of Viagra for men in an effort to prove how ridiculous anti-abortion measures are. The bill has several stipulations for obtaining a Viagra prescription, such as presenting a sworn statement from the patient’s sexual partner, a 24-hour wait period, and a psychiatric evaluation by a sexual therapist. McLeod has stated that she doesn’t expect the bill to pass the full House or become an actual law, and that the main purpose for the bill is to draw attention to the hypocrisy of a male-dominated legislature attempting to regulate women’s bodies. She explained, “This bill isn’t really about erectile dysfunction, but it is about gender equity.” Similarities between anti-abortion laws and these proposed stipulations are present in the bill, as some women must wait 24 hours before getting an abortion after they make their...

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Target Shows How Simple It Is To Be Welcoming Of Transgender People

by ZACK FORD – Nothing is new at Target, but on Tuesday, the company issued a reminder that it welcomes transgender customers to use the restrooms and changing rooms that match their gender identity. “Inclusivity is a core belief at Target. It’s something we celebrate,” the company said in a statement. “We stand for equality and equity, and strive to make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day.” Acknowledging the anti-LGBT laws advancing in states like North Carolina and reiterating its support for the Equality Act, which would create nationwide LGBT nondiscrimination protections, Target assured, “We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.” “Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.” Molly Snyder, a spokeswoman for the company, told...

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The Hypocrisy Behind Utah’s Move To Declare Porn A Public Health Hazard

by ALEX ZIELINSKI – Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed a piece of legislation on Tuesday that formally declares pornography to be a “public health hazard” in his state. This resolution, introduced in January by Senator Todd Weiler (R), rushed unopposed through the state Senate and House to make it to Herbert’s desk in a matter of months. Though it won’t impose a firm ban or criminal punishment, the legislation is a formal way for lawmakers to announce their disapproval of pornography. Sen. Weiler’s resolution focuses heavily on how pornography warps children’s understanding of sex. “Exposure to pornography often serves as children’s and youths’ sex education and shapes their sexual templates,” it reads. “It teaches girls they are to be used and teaches boys to be users. This early exposure is leading to…an increase in problematic sexual activity at younger ages.” Weiler, one of the majority Mormon members...

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Tennessee Lawmakers Attempt To Nullify Supreme Court Decision Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

by ZACK FORD – The Supreme Court ruled definitively last June that banning same-sex marriage is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, but some lawmakers in Tennessee don’t care. This week, they will consider a bill that would attempt to nullify the Obergefell decision and void the marriages of same-sex couples, and its passage could cost the state billions of dollars in federal funding for programs that help the state’s neediest. Rep. Mark Pody (R) and Sen. Mae Beavers (R) originally filed their “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act” back in September, introducing it at a “religious liberty” rally. HB 1412/SB 1437 dictates that “natural marriage between one (1) man and (1) woman as recognized by the people of Tennessee” would “remain the law in Tennessee, regardless of any court decision to the contrary. Any court decision purporting to strike down natural marriage, including Obergefell v. Hodges, is unauthoritative, void, and of no...

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New York Wedding Venue Loses Appeal To Refuse Serving Same-Sex Couples

by ZACK FORD – Liberty Ridge Farm in upstate New York just lost an appeal in its effort to justify discrimination against same-sex couples. An appeals court unanimously affirmed the State Division of Human Rights’ determination that the couple who owned the wedding venue, Robert and Cynthia Gifford, violated the state’s nondiscrimination law when they refused to host a wedding for Melissa and Jennifer McCarthy back in 2012. Represented by the conservative legal juggernaut the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Giffords argued that because their farm is private property, they should not be considered a public accommodation. They also argued that they did not actually engage in discrimination based on sexual orientation, and that being compelled to host a same-sex wedding violated their freedoms of religion and speech. The court rejected these claims outright. Because Liberty Ridge is open to the public as a venue for wedding ceremonies and receptions,...

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