The Supreme Court of the United States announced on Monday (22 April) they will review three cases dealing with LGBTI discrimination in the workplace.
There has been an ongoing debate about whether or not Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, granting federal protections against discrimination for certain identities, applies to sexual orientation and gender identity.
These cases will finally settle the matter. This has been a source of contention between federal courts and the Trump-Pence administration.
The three cases
Lawyers are presenting three cases relating to LGBTI employment discrimination to the Supreme Court.
In the first case, a funeral home fired its director, Aimee Stephens, when she came out as transgender. She said she would be coming to work as a woman and they responded that would be ‘unacceptable’.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Stephens’ favor in March 2018, saying her firing violated Title VII.
Donald Zarda is the defendant in the second case. Altitude Express, Inc. fired Zarda from his skydiving job due to his sexual orientation. A federal court initially rejected his discrimination claim before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Title VII’s language about sex discrimination does apply to sexual orientation in February 2018.
Finally, an employer fired Gerald Lynn Bostock from his job as a county child welfare services coordinator when they learned he was gay. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals denied his appeal in May 2018.
Courts vs Trump
Federal courts have not come to an agreement about whether or not Title VII applies to sexual orientation and gender identity. Some have ruled in favor of LGBTI protections, while others have not.
The Trump-Pence Administration stepping into the debate further complicates the situation.
On numerous occasions, the Justice Department under Trump has declared that Title VII does not apply to either sexual orientation or gender identity.
What happens now?
There has been no clear answer on employment protections for LGBTI people, muddied by varying court decision and political leaders’ opinions.
Lawyers will argue the cases before the seven Supreme Court Justices in the fall. A decision will likely be handed down in June 2020 — during the thick of the presidential race.
The Supreme Court currently has a conservative majority. Trump nominated two conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, within his first term. There is no way of knowing how they will rule until the decision is handed down, however.
The Supreme Court is not the only path for LGBTI federal protections.
Democrats recently re-introduced the Equality Act to Congress, which would mandate federal protections for LGBTI Americans across the nation.
Written by: Anya Crittenton. 22 April 2019. News. Gaystarnews.com
Former GOP Congressman Aaron Schock appears to have had a magical weekend, flocking to the desert with upwards of 100,000 other attendees for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, known simply by its Cher or Madonna-esque first name, Coachella.
According to multiple eyewitnesses, Schock spent the festival with his gay friends, dancing his heart out. Fun! He also reportedly got intimate with a guy or two, finding those precious carefree lip-locks every queer person dreams of having out in public.
There’s just one problem: While serving as the United States Representative for Illinois’ 18th congressional district from 2009 until 2015, Schock’s voting record read like the CliffsNotes of the Religious Right’s antigay playbook. Among his political positions, he voted against adding ‘sexual orientation, gender identity, gender and disability’ to the federal hate crime protection groups, against the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and for the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
His politics at one time earned him a 0 percent approval rating from the Human Rights Campaign for his opposition to LGBTQ equality.
Schock’s sexuality and all-but-likely hypocrisy have long been sources of speculation, and those who alleged to have seen him living his circuit queen fantasy at Coachella are crying foul.
First among them was West Hollywood political activist (and sometimes Queerty writer) James Duke Mason, who shared photos that appear to show Schock with his friends, along with the following commentary:
Normally I wouldn’t comment on something like this, but I am just infuriated by these images of former Republican (and anti-gay) Congressman Aaron Schock partying with a group of gay men at Coachella.
The fact that he would think he could show his face in public, particularly when he has NEVER renounced or apologized for his votes against gay marriage, gays in the military and against anti-discrimination laws is astounding. My intention isn’t to out him or target him personally, but simply to point out the hypocrisy. I saw him at a recent gay social event in West Hollywood and shook his hand before I realized who he was; he should really be ashamed of himself. And the gays who associate with him without calling him out should know better. It really is a disgrace.
Here’s the full post, with photos:
Schock is allegedly second from the left in the photo on the left and front and center in the one of the right. After Mason’s post picked up steam, multiple people came forward confirming the story, adding further details.
Ryan Bernard wrote:
To the claim of “making out with guys,” a source shared an additional photo, claiming it shows Schock doing just that, with his hand down the man’s pants:
The daytime group shot appears to have originated from the Instagram account of Rob Masi, whose profile says he’s a 26-year-old San Francisco resident.
Among those who “liked” Masi’s photo is the official Instagram account of Aaron Schock:
While it is not up to us to out public figures, we make one serious exception when someone has actively hurt LGBTQ people or causes and refused to own up to it. If the photos and accounts are accurate, Schock is out enjoying freedoms won through the sweat and blood of a community he directly harmed at every step of his political career. We would be thrilled to learn that he has changed his opinions about his community and renounced his past, but there is not yet any evidence he has done so.
“I think Aaron has a lot of explaining to do,” said Itay Had, senior writer at the Hollywood site The Wrap who has run into Schock at least twice at the predominantly gay gym Barry’s Bootcamp in West Hollywood. “While we are all sympathetic to the struggle to come out of the closet, for years Schock was one of the most homophobic members of the right-wing in Congress, actively working against the community he is now joining. I think he owes the LGBTQ community an apology before we embrace him as a private citizen.”
We have reached out to Schock on Instagram to ask whether he’s officially come out and if he regrets any of his anti-LGBTQ voting record and as of press time had not heard back.
This post will be updated should the former Congressman decide to reply.
Written by: Dan Tracer. 16 April, 2019. Shocker. Queerty.com
Donald Trump’s ban on transgender military service people takes effect from today, jeopardizing the livelihood of thousands.
Almost two years after Trump first announced his much-maligned policy on Twitter, legislation banning trans people from openly serving in the military has been enacted.
According to the Palm Center, about 13,700 people will lose their jobs as a result.
“The military is the largest employer in the nation and, as the USTS found, transgender people are twice as likely to have served in the Armed Forces as the general population,” Gillian Bransetter, media relations manager for the National Center for Transgender Equality, told Advocate.
The 2015 US Trans Survey (USTS) found that 18 per cent of all trans people have served in the military, which is thought to be the single largest employer of trans people today.
When does the transgender military ban begin?Trump first announced the ban in a series of tweets on July 26, 2017.
“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military,” he wrote.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
The White House formally announced the policy in March 2018, which was blocked by a series of four injunctions.
In January 2019, the first injunction was lifted by an appeals court in Washington DC, with the Supreme Court removing a further two (from California and Washington state) in the same month.
On March 27 the final hurdle was lifted, paving the way for the ban to be enforced from Friday (April 12).
Who will be affected by the transgender military ban?Since trans people were first allowed to enter service in 2016, almost 15,000 are estimated to have joined the military.
Any person who comes out or is outed as trans from April 12 will be discharged, unless they are willing to suppress their identity. The military will not pay for any gender confirmation surgeries, apart from those which will “protect the health” of people who have begun to medically transition.
After April 12, those applying to join the services with a record of gender dysphoria will have to adhere to the gender they were assigned at birth in order to serve. A doctor will have to certify that they have been stable in that gender for at least 36 months, and that they have not medically transitioned.
Transgender people without a diagnosis will be permitted to serve in the gender they were assigned at birth, but only if they have not had any confirmation surgeries.
There are exemptions for active service members who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, including those who have already completed a medical transition before the policy takes effect.
According to the Palm Center, just 937 people will qualify for the grandfather exemptions, which they note could be revoked at any time.
The Navy has released guidance noting that sailors will be permitted to live “in their preferred gender” while off-duty.
“Appropriate civilian attire, as outlined in the uniform regulations, will not be determined based on gender,” a statement read, though this may be limited “to meet local conditions and host-nation agreements with foreign countries.”
Criticism of the transgender military banThe Palm Center’s director Aaron Belkin is one of many who has called the ban “a return to don’t ask, don’t tell,” the military’s pre-2011 ban on LGB people.
“Fully 100% of transgender troops are threatened and stigmatised by this ban,” Belkin said a statement on April 9.
In Washington, criticism of the policy has come from both sides of the aisle.
Conservative pundit Meghan McCain tweeted on Wednesday (April 10): “It is indefensible that Trump’s ban on Transgender troops is being implemented on Friday.
“This discriminatory policy will lead Transgender service members, patriots who have decided to serve their nation, to live in the shadows.
“It’s an unfair, un-American, and dangerous policy.”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of many Democrats to rebuke the ban, labelling it an “act of cruelty” on April 3.
Trump’s claims that transgender people “burden” the military “with the tremendous medical costs” has also been wide refuted.
In 2016 the RAND corporation estimated that these costs would amount to somewhere between $2.4 million (£1.8 million) and $8.4 million (£6.4 million) annually.
Written by: Reiss Smith. 12 April 2019. Current Affairs. Pinknews.co.uk
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said that she was aware of research showing how harmful her anti-transgender guidance two years ago was.
DeVos appeared before the civil rights subcommittee of the House Education Committee.
The subcommittee chair, Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) asked DeVos if she knew that “the stress of harassment and discrimination can lead to lower attendance and grades as well as depression and anxiety for transgender students” when she reversed Obama-era guidelines that told schools that discrimination against transgender students is illegal under Title IX.
At first, DeVos dodged the question with a vague statement that the Office of Civil Rights “is committed to ensuring all students have equal access to education free from discrimination.”
Bonamici pressed DeVos: “Sorry, I would really like answer.”
“Did you know, when you rolled back the guidance, that the stress of harassment and discrimination can lead to lower attendance and grades as well as depression for transgender students?” Bonamici asked.
“I do know that,” DeVos said.
“But I will say again that OCR is committed to ensuring all students have access to their education free from discrimination,” she added, even though she rescinded the guidance that said that anti-transgender discrimination is illegal at the federal level.
Bonamici also asked DeVos if she was aware of “alarming levels of attempted suicide among transgender youth.”
“I am aware of that data,” she responded.
“I’m troubled by Sec. DeVos’ answers to my questions during today’s hearing,” Bonamici said in a statement she issued later.
“The Department of Education has a responsibility to protect all students, but she acknowledged that she moved forward with a plan to rollback protections for transgender students despite knowing that it would put them at risk.”
Written by: Alex Bollinger. 11 April 2019. Top Categories. Lgbtqnation.com
Musician Taylor Swift has made a big donation to an LGBTQ organization in the state where she lives to fight what she called a “slate of hate.”
Swift cut a check for $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project to fight several anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced in the state, including a bill that would allow adoption agencies to refuse LGBTQ parents, a bill that would ban transgender people from using the correct locker room, and a bill that bans marriage equality in an attempt to get the Supreme Court to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges.
“I’m so inspired by the work you do, specifically in organizing the recent petition of Tennessee faith leaders standing up against the ‘Slate of Hate’ in our state legislature,” Swift wrote in a letter, referring to over 100 religious leaders who signed a statement opposing the bills.
“I’m so grateful that [the faith leaders are] giving all people a place to worship.”
The executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, Chris Sanders, said the group was “honored and grateful” for the donation.
“She sees our struggle in Tennessee and continues to add her voice with so many good people, including religious leaders, who are speaking out for love in the face of fear,” he said in a statement.
“Taylor Swift has been a long-time ally to the LGBTQ community.”
Written by: Alex Bollinger. 09 April 2019. USA. Lgbtqnation.com
On Wednesday (3 April), Brunei introduced harsh sharia law which punishes homosexual sex with death by stoning.
The news caused international backlash, including from high-profile celebrities like George Clooney, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres. The United Nations also pleaded to halt the ‘cruel and inhuman’ new code.
People then began calling for the boycott of international hotels owned by Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
It prompted the Dorchester Collection — which owns and manages each of these hotels for the Brunei Investment Agency — to release a statement on Twitter yesterday (3 April).
‘Dorchester Collection is an inclusive and diverse company and does not tolerate any form of discrimination,’ the statement read. ‘ Although we believe in open and transparent communication, we have reluctantly deactivated our hotel social pages due to the personal abuse directed at our employees for whom we have a duty of care.
‘Our corporate social media pages remain in place.
‘Dorchester Collection’s Code emphasises equality, respect and integrity in all areas of our operation, and strongly values people and cultural diversity amongst our guests and employees,’ the statement read.
Social media backlashAs a result, social media pages for The Dorchester and 45 Park Lane in London, Coworth Park in Aston, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, Le Meurice and Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris and the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan have all been deleted.
The Hotel Eden in Rome made its Twitter account private.
Many social media users began reacting negatively to the social media statement.
One person replied: ‘Equality, respect and integrity in all areas of your operation? Including where your profits are going?’
Another responded: ‘How can you say you don’t tolerate any form of discrimination when your owner murders gay people by stoning? Is it fine for Brunei but not for the UK?’
Then another tweeted: ‘Sadly your owners don’t agree with that statement.’
Background of BruneiRulers of Brunei have long enforced strictly traditional interpretations of Islamic teachings. The country, in Southeast Asia, operates under an absolute monarchy.
In other words, the head of state, the Sultan of Brunei, is also head of government. Royalty and lawmaking are one and the same.
For example, under the current 51-year-long monarch Hassanal Bolkiah, the country banned alcohol and forbade the proliferation of non-Islamic faiths.
Written by: James Beasnvalle. 04 April 2019. Gaystarnews.net
Spain’s health minister Maria Luisa Carcedo is calling for the end of LGBTI conversion (or ‘gay cure’) therapy across Spain.
Practitioners of the harmful therapy oversee LGBTI people undergoing dangerous treatments in order to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. It can include electric shocks or emotional manipulation, on the belief that being LGBTI is a mental illness.
But Spain’s minister for health, consumption and social welfare wants to see the practice ‘completely abolished’.
She said in a press conference on Wednesday (3 April): ‘They are breaking the law therefore, in the first instance, these courses have to be completely abolished.
‘I thought that, in Spain, accepting the various sexual orientations was assumed in all areas, but unfortunately we see that there are still pockets where people are told what their sexual orientation should be,’ she said.
Conversion therapy in Madrid
Conversion therapy is legal across Spain, except in autonomous communities like Madrid, Valencia, Andalusia and Murcia.
The comments come about after a newspaper reported on an alleged underground course in Madrid to cure gay men of their homosexuality.
The online newspaper, El Diario, sent a reporter posing as a gay man to a counseling session provided by a diocese of the Catholic Church close to the capital Madrid called the Bishopric of Alcalá de Henares.
People at the counseling session allegedly advised the man to stop watching porn and to masturbate less.
Representatives of the diocese called the claims ‘fake news’.
Madrid banned conversion therapy in July 2016. The ban then went into effect from 1 January 2017 and applies to medical, psychiatric, psychological and religious groups.
The practice of conversion therapy is illegal, regardless of whether someone requests it personally or not. Punishments include fines of up to €45,000 ($51,000).
Written by: James Besanalle. 04 April 2019. Gaystarnews.com
Joe Solmonese, the former president of the Human Rights Campaign, will be CEO of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, to be held July 13-16 in Milwaukee.
“The opportunity to lead the 2020 convention is a tremendous honor and I’m prepared to hit the ground running,” Solmonese said in a Democratic National Committee press release. “There is no better time than now to be a Democrat and next summer we will showcase the ideals and diversity that make our party, the city of Milwaukee, and our nominee special to the American people.” As CEO, he will be responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of the convention. He’s the second out gay person to assume that role; Stephen Kerrigan, in 2012, was the first.
There are also two other members of the LGBTQ community in leadership roles for the 2020 convention. Jess O’Connell headed the site selection committee; a lesbian, she is a former Democratic National Committee CEO. And the convention will be hosted by Milwaukee County Democratic Party Chair Christopher Walton, a gay man.
Solmonese ran HRC, the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights group, from 2005 to 2012, when he became a national cochair of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. His time at HRC saw the enactment of marriage equality in eight states, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He also oversaw efforts to defeat an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage; the amendment did ultimately fail.
Before joining HRC, he spent 12 years with Emily’s List, the last two as CEO. The organization backs pro-choice Democratic women for elective office. For the past several years, he has been the managing director and founding partner of consulting firm Gavin/Solmonese. He has also served as transition chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, where he was responsible for supervising the day-to-day operations of the national office following the departure of Cecile Richards.
“Joe Solmonese will be an asset in leading our convention team,” Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said in the release. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to this role and will be instrumental in ensuring we have a successful event. We chose Milwaukee because the city embodies who we are as a party, and under Joe’s leadership, I’m confident those values will be at the forefront as we celebrate our nominee and prepare for the general election. I am thrilled to have him as a part of the team and look forward to a unifying convention that will put our nominee in the best possible position for victory in November 2020.”
Written by: Trudy Ring. 25 March 2019. political. advocate.com
State-funded faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan can no longer discriminate against LGBTI people.
The decision comes under a legal settlement announced Friday (22 March). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the state on behalf of two lesbian couples and a woman who was in foster care in her teens.
The organization and Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel reached the agreement that faith-based agencies funded by the state cannot turn down LGBTI individuals or couples on religious grounds.
Nessel said in a statement: ‘Discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoptions services is illegal, no matter the rationale.
‘Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state’s goal of finding a home for every child, but it is also a direct violation of the contract every child-placing agency enters into with the state.’
Non-discrimination in Michigan
The lawsuit alleged St Vincent Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services turned same-sex couples away based on their sexuality.
They were thought to be protected under a 2015 Republican-enacted law which meant child-placement agencies are not required to provide services that interfere with their religious beliefs.
However, as Michigan contracts private agencies to place children with new families, the law doesn’t apply to the services provided under a contract with the Department of Health and Services.
Under the settlement, the state’s non-discrimination provisions apply to these agencies. This means they cannot turn away otherwise qualified LGBTI people from adopting or fostering kids. Also, it bars them from refusing to perform orientation or training, a home study, or process applications.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who represented St Vincent among other charities, said it will stop the state from working with religious charities.
Attorney Lori Windham said in a statement: ‘The result of that will be tragic. Thousands of children will be kept from finding the loving homes they deserve. This settlement violates the state law protecting religious adoption agencies.’
Kirsty and Dana Dumont, from Dimondale, expressed joy in their statement: ‘We are hopeful that this will mean more families for children, especially those who have been waiting years for a family to adopt them.
‘And we can’t wait to welcome one of those children into our family.’
Written by: Tom Capon. 23 March 2019. gaystarnews.com
Costa Rica will legislate same-sex marriage before it becomes legally automatically in line with a Supreme Court ruling, the country’s president said.
Alvarado told the Associated Press he would take action before a May 2020 court deadline.
‘We are, as a government, do everything that [same-sex marriage] is respected as a right’ he said.
In August last year, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court found the Family Code, which prevents same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional.
The ruling said that if there was no legislation within 18 months, same-sex marriage will automatically come into law.
Alvarado in December passed legislation to afford LGBTI citizens more rights.
New measures allow same-sex couples in Costa Rica the right to receive a housing allowance for low-income families.
Legislation also recognizes same-sex transnational partnerships and extends the recognition of gender identity to migrants.
Costa Rica also passed legislation last year which will allow trans individuals to register under their assigned gender.
Long wait for equality
LGBTI Costa Ricans have already become agitated at parliament’s failure to act on August’s ruling.
The ruling says that ‘acts of open discrimination, whether they are expressed or implied, cannot be justified in any way in a democratic society that respects fundamental rights’.
Writing the law is ‘complex’. That’s what interim president of the Constitutional Chamber, Fernando Castillo, said earlier this month.
He said also said some lawmakers had not finalized their notes.
What’s more, Enrique Sanchez, the country’s first openly gay legislator, has accused the chamber of purposefully delaying the law change.
The legislative chamber has 57 seats. Evangelical, anti-LGBTI members, however, hold 14 of the seats.
Written by: Rik Glauert. 22 March 2019. gaystarnews.com