Sexuality

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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