Sexuality

DOJ Rescinds Policy Protecting Transgender People From Workplace Discrimination

by Zack Ford – Discrimination based on gender identity will no longer be considered discrimination based on sex. The Department of Justice will no longer argue that workplace protections on the basis of sex protect transgender people from discrimination. That’s according to a new memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions obtained by BuzzFeed Thursday. The new policy reverses a policy put in place in 2014 by then-Attorney General Eric Holder. The fundamental question is whether denying someone employment based on their gender identity (i.e. being transgender) constitutes discrimination on the basis of that person’s “sex,” as protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Holder held that trans people fall under that category, but Sessions has now reversed that and declared they no longer enjoy such protections. “Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” Sessions writes, according to BuzzFeed. Under his view, the law only covers discrimination between “men and...

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Toledo Abortion Clinic Takes Fight Against State Bullying to the Ohio Supreme Court

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown – The Capital Care Network was ordered to close in 2014. Instead, it took the state to court. A Catch-22 in Ohio abortion law came before the State’s Supreme Court this week. The case addresses the attempted shutdown of Toledo’s only remaining abortion clinic and a pair of state regulations that make it legally impossible for some clinics to stay open, even if they have done nothing wrong. Ohio has long required all outpatient surgical centers, including abortion clinics, to have a formal transfer agreement with a local hospital. In general, such regulations are pretty pointless, as surgical center patients with complications can be treated at nearby hospitals regardless of whether such an agreement exists. But they didn’t post much of a problem for reproductive freedom in Ohio until 2013. That year, as part of the state’s budget bill, legislators forbade public hospitals from entering into transfer agreements with...

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We Are Taking Trump to Court to Stop His Illegal and Cruel Ban on Transgender Service Members

by Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project – When President Trump took to Twitter on the morning of July 26 to issue a series of lies about transgender individuals serving in the United States armed forces and announce a ban on open transgender service, he disrupted the lives and careers of thousands of transgender troops. His announcement came as a shock to almost everyone, including members of Congress, military experts, and the Secretary of Defense. While he claimed to have consulted with his “Generals and military experts,” that was not the case. Instead, he allied himself with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council who dismissed the service of transgender individuals as the “social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military.” We hoped that the ill-advised ban would languish on the president’s Twitter feed, but unfortunately, he turned the tweets into a directive banning open transgender...

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Efforts to Curb Teen Pregnancy Face Drastic Cuts

by BILLMOYERS.COM STAFF – Trump White House is intent on rolling back teen pregnancy prevention programs nationwide. Teen pregnancy prevention advocates were shocked to find out that crucial programs they support were abruptly terminated and will be defunded next year. The Trump administration is completely defunding the nationwide Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, cutting $213 million in assistance that supports roughly 1.2 million teenagers across the country. Groups that rely of the funding got notice this month that as of June 30, 2018 their funding will be shut off. This means they all lose two years of already-allocated money. The decision is part of the Trump administration’s backlash against Obama-era policies. This time, Donald Trump’s budget cuts are primarily aimed at poor teenagers, an already vulnerable section of the population. These cuts will not only reduce services provided by clinics and prevention programs, but also dramatically affect the research activities of groups dedicated to optimizing...

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Banning Transgender Troops Would Cost 100 Times More Than Letting Them Serve

by Zack Ford – A new study proves that the numbers just don’t add up. A new study from the Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has found that the cost of implementing President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender military service would far exceed the costs of actually letting transgender people serve their country. According to the study, it would cost $960 million to discharge all of the transgender servicemembers already serving in the military. This is based on an estimate that there are currently 12,800 transgender troops and the cost to recruit and train their replacements would be $75,000 each. Comparatively, the RAND Corporation, a military think tank, estimated last yearthat the military would spend at most $8.4 million per year covering the health care needs of trans servicemembers. Though the RAND study offered a more conservative estimate of how many trans individuals are currently serving in the military,...

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Defense Secretary Reveals the Trans Military Ban is in Limbo

by Zack Ford – The White House has yet to provide any guidance. Secretary of Defense James Mattis sent some mixed messages Monday when he stopped by the Pentagon newsroom to discuss President Trump’s intended ban on transgender personnel in the military—which the president announced via Twitter. At best, the proposal remains in limbo and is still being studied; at worst, it’s inevitably still coming. The key takeaway Mattis revealed is that Trump has yet to actually issue anything other than a few tweets and public comments. “I am waiting right now to get the President’s guidance in and that I expect to be very soon,” he explained. In the meantime, the military is continuing to study the issue, consistent with what Mattis announced when he agreed to delay the implementation of transgender recruitment by six months. The change to recruitment policy was initially set to take place July 1.”The policy is going to address whether or...

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Trump Thinks the Trans Ban is ‘doing the military a great favor’ (VIDEO)

by Zack Ford – He doesn’t seem to care he’d be firing thousands of people. It’s been two weeks since President Trump announced on Twitter that he’d be banning transgender service in the military, and though there’s still no actual policy in effect, Trump is standing by the decision. Speaking to the press Thursday, Trump claimed to have “great respect” for the transgender community and boasted that many transgender people had voted for him. “It’s been a very difficult situation and I think I’m doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it,” Trump said. “As you know, it’s been a very complicated issue for the military — it’s been a very confusing issue for the military — and I think I’m doing the military a great favor.” The Pentagon announced in June of 2016 that it would be immediately lifting the ban for transgender servicemembers who were already serving...

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There Aren’t ‘Tremendous Medical Costs’ for Trans Soldiers

by Nick Gillespie – President Trump’s new ban didn’t just “blindside” military brass and disrespect equality under the law, it’s founded on a lie. When President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, he specifically cited “the tremendous medical costs” that such troops impose on the Pentagon budget. This is simply false. Barack Obama had OK’ed trans people to serve openly. According to the two most-recent studies on providing health care for trans people in the military, the costs are in fact negligible. A 2016 Rand study done for the Department of Defense calculated that between 1,362 and 6,630 trans people serve and that costs associated with transitioning would increase military health spending by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually. That’s an increase of 0.04 percent and 0.13 percent. A New England Journal of Medicine study from 2015 found slightly less than 13,000 transgender service members and transition-related care...

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Joe Kennedy Debases Trump’s Soulless Transgender Ban. We Think It—Kennedy Says It

by Leslie Salzillo – Once again, the very vocal Democratic House Rep Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts speaks out against Donald Trump and the continuous slew of atrocious actions by the Republicans Party and injustice at its worst. On Wednesday, after Trump announced his ban on transgender people serving in the military, Kennedy adamantly censured Trump for the ban, adding ALL of our soldiers serving for ALL of our country deserve at minimum common decency and respect show to them. Here is the lede to his Facebook post followed by the YouTube video of his speech. “Our soldiers do not discriminate. They do not offer to pay the ultimate sacrifice to protect some lives and not others. Their government owes them that courtesy – that decency – in return.” –Joe Kennedy III Video: Transcript: Mr. Speaker, When our bravest men and women raise their hand and volunteers to defend our nation, they defend all of her people: rich and poor, young and old, Democrat and Republican, gay straight— Americans of...

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Trump Announces He’s Kicking Thousands of Transgender People Out of the Military

by Zack Ford – He made the announcement on Twitter. Without warning or explanation, President Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday morning that he is unilaterally reversing the military’s plan to allow transgender service:   Donald J. Trump   ✔@realDonaldTrump After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…… 8:55 AM – 26 Jul 2017 Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump ….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming….. 9:04 AM – 26 Jul 2017 Donald J. Trump   ✔@realDonaldTrump ….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you 9:08 AM – 26 Jul 2017 While the tweets are lacking for details, they suggest that thousands of transgender people already serving in the military will lose their jobs. Last June, the...

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UK Supreme Court Gives Survivors’ Pensions to Bereaved Same-Sex Spouses

by Lib Dem FoP – In a landmark ruling today, the UK Supreme Court gave important rights to a full spouse’s pension from their late spouse’s company pension scheme to a surviving partner. The case concerned John Walker who was claiming against his former employer, Innospec. In the course of the appeals to the Supreme Court, the government employment department (“and others”) had joined the company side. The press release (.pdf) gives the full background together with the legal impediment that John Walker’s husband would face and the effect if John were to die. John Walker, the appellant in these proceedings worked for the respondent, Innospec Ltd, from 1980 until  his  retirement  in  2003.    Throughout  that  time  he  made  regular  contributions  to  the  firm’s occupational pension scheme. Mr Walker is gay and has lived with his male partner since 1993. They entered into a civil partnership on 23 January 2006...

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Amid Trump’s Latest Misogyny, White House Halts Work of Women’s Council

by Julia Conley – Trump administration’s top female staffers attempt to defend the indefensible. The Trump administration is taking steps towards eliminating the White House Council on Women and Girls, according to a Politico report. The Council has ceased operations while President Trump decides whether its work is necessary, and may shut down entirely. The Council was created in 2009 by Barack Obama with the aim of communicating with women’s advocacy groups and assessing how American women are impacted by policy. Upon signing an executive order to open the office, President Obama said, “Issues like equal pay, family leave, child care and others are not just women’s issues, they are family issues and economic issues. Our progress in these areas is an important measure of whether we are truly fulfilling the promise of our democracy for all our people.” White House spokesperson Hope Hicks downplayed the possible shuttering of the Council on Thursday, saying,...

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Can Businesses Turn LGBT People Away Because of Who They Are? That’s up to the Supreme Court Now

by James Esseks – The United States Supreme Court agreed to decide a case about whether a business can refuse to sell commercial goods to a gay couple because of the business owner’s religious beliefs.  A win for the business could gut the nation’s civil rights laws, licensing discrimination not just against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, but against anyone protected by our non-discrimination rules. In July 2012, Debbie Munn accompanied her son, Charlie Craig, and his fiancé, Dave Mullins, to the Masterpiece Cakeshop just outside of Denver  to pick out a cake for their wedding reception.  When the bakery’s owner heard that the cake was for two men, he said he wouldn’t sell them a cake because of his religious beliefs. Debbie was stunned and humiliated for Charlie and Dave.  As she has  said, “It was never about the cake.”  She couldn’t believe that a business would be allowed...

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After Seven Years in Custody, Chelsea Manning Will Soon Be Free

by Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project – Chelsea Manning almost died on our watch. She suffered at the hands of our government, and the toll of her incarceration nearly killed her. But she survived. Through long stretches of solitary confinement, the systemic denial of health care, relentless abuse, and a lifetime of consequences, she will have a chance to live. On Tuesday, January 17, 2017, President Obama commuted Chelsea’s 35-year prison sentence to time served plus 120 days. With the commutation, 28 years were cut from her sentence, and her life was saved. Instead of an anticipated release date in 2045, Chelsea’s prison term will end on May 17, 2017. When she steps out of prison this week, she will walk into a different world than the one she left behind when she was arrested in 2010. And she will walk as a different person than...

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Texas Rep’s Bill to Fine Men for Masturbatory Emissions has Made its Way up the Legislative Ladder

by Walter Einenkel – Texas’ House Bill 4260, which relates “to the regulation of men’s health and safety; creating civil penalty for unregulated masturbatory emissions,” has moved from being filed to being handled by the Texas State Affairs Committee. Written by Houston Democrat state Rep. Jessica Farrar in response to the slew of anti-women’s rights bills regarding medical choice, the bill is in the perfect place for discussion. The committee is typically the panel that hears abortion-related legislation and it will now address Farrar’s House Bill 4620, which is named the “Men’s Right to Know Act.” The bill was filed about three weeks ago and at the time state Rep. Farrar had this to say: “A lot of people find the bill funny,” Farrar said in a phone interview. “What’s not funny are the obstacles that Texas women face every day, that were placed there by legislatures making it very difficult for them to access...

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Federal Appeals Court Holds Workers can’t be Fired for Being Gay

by Ian Millhiser – Onward to the Supreme Court! With a lopsided majority joined by a bipartisan coalition of judges, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held on Tuesday that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates federal civil rights law, at least in the context of the workplace. The court telegraphed in an order last October that Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College was likely to be a victory for victims of discrimination in the workplace. The final vote in the case, however, is a bit more surprising. Eight of the Seventh Circuit’s judges joined Tuesday’s opinion, including Republican appointees Richard Posner, Joel Flaum, Frank Easterbrook, Ilana Rovner, and Kenneth Ripple. Only three judges dissented. The case involves Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of an employee’s “sex.” Though Title VII contains no explicit statement that discrimination...

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Inside the Rotten Repeal of HB2

by Lindsay Gibbs – HB2 is dead, but its anti-LGBT legacy lives on in North Carolina. On Thursday, the North Carolina Senate voted 35–12 to repeal House Bill 2, the anti-LGBT legislation that most notably banned transgender individuals from using the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity. Hours later, after a rousing debate, the House of Representatives also confirmed the repeal by 70–48; hours later, it landed on Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) desk, and the simple stroke of a pen, the controversial legislation that had cost North Carolina millions of dollars, made it one of the most anti-LGBT states in the country, and directly led to the demise of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, was dead at long last. But notably, none of the legislators or advocacy groups that had been fighting for the bill’s repeal for over a year were celebrating. “It’s a disappointing day,” Rep. Price Harrison (D) told ThinkProgress....

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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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