This Past Tuesday the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that all 20 member countries in Central and South America must legalize same-sex marriage (at best confer the legal rights associated with it).
The Court was established in 1979 by the Organization of American States, which are a comprised of several countries in Central and South America. It is the judicial enforcer as outlined in the American Convention on Human Rights, a document that outlines provisions for “personal liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential rights of man.”. Currently the there are 20 countries which include: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.
The court reached it decision when Costa Rica asked the court for its opinion on if property rights extended to same-sex couples. Seven Judges from the court said that member nations “must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex.” The ruling is legally binding to all member countries, in-affect legalizing same-sax marriage (or rights associated with it).
There was no language on how each country needed to go about legalizing marriage equality - and there doesn't appear to be a deadline for doing so - the court rebuffed evangelical and conservative political forces opposing LGBT rights in Central and South America.
The Court also ruled that Costa Rica must allow transgender people to change legally change their name and gender marker on government-issued identification documents. While this is clearly a monumental win for LGBT rights, several of the countries listed above have policies forbidding members of the LGBT community to donate blood, adopting children, joining the military or having access to housing, employment and public accommodations.
Since 2013 at least 102 transgender people have been the victim of fatal violence in the United States alone according to a new report by The Human Rights Campaign in conjunction with the Trans People of Color Coalition.
Released last week, the report says that of the recorded findings at least 25 transgender people were killed in the U.S. in 2017, which makes it the deadliest year for transgender people in a decade. Fatal violence against transgender people is on the rise with highest rates toward trans women in the Black and African American communities.
The highest number of transgender deaths were reported in California and Louisiana, at 10 each, followed by Texas at 9 deaths, and Ohio at 8.
The report states that the increase in violence is: “fueled by anti-LGBTQ prejudice, racism, too-easy access to guns, and increasing political attacks on the transgender community at both the state and federal level,” with half of LGBTQ youth saying in a post-2016 election youth survey conducted by The Human Rights Campaign, that they have taken steps to hide who they are since the election.
In the past 12 months, 325 trans and gender-diverse people were reported murdered globally, according to website Transgender Europe, with a total of 2609 trans and gender-diverse people reported killed in 71 countries between January 2008 and September 2017.
We attempted to contact the NOPD liaison regarding the two unsolved murders of transgender women, we were directed to their website.
Author: Troy Murphy. November 21, 2017. DNA Magazine
Image purchased from istock.com and for commercial use only.
It's hard to believe that the poverty rate in the LGBT community is higher than heterosexuals. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, because LGBT people are born and raised in all types of environments. Most LGBT individuals also face unique obstacles because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. This includes a higher risk of being homeless when they are young, harassment and discrimination at school and the workplace.
All you must do is envision or think about the young gay man who is kicked out of him home and ends up working on the streets to survive, the transgender woman being turned down in a job interview, or an elderly lesbian being denied housing.
LGBT poverty to many is very surprising because there are not dominant images within the community, and stereotype remain resilient. Historically the image of the LGBT community has been the gay, white, young men who do not have children, therefore, it is believed that they have additional/extra income to use. To better understand you must break down that dominant image to address the underlining of LGBT poverty and the work that needs to happen to address it.
According to research there are approximately 9 million LGBT people in the United States, and almost have are lesbian and bisexual women. Not only do they face sexual orientation discrimination, they must face sex discrimination in education, the workplace and gaps in wages. 24% of lesbians and bisexual women are poor, compared to 19% of heterosexual women.
We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. Mother Teresa
People of color (African Americans, Latinos, Asians) One in five members of same-sex couple in the U.S. are people of color, and one in eight are Latino's. LGBT people of color are more likely to live in poverty, this is generally standard in our society. African-American same sex couples are more likely to live under the poverty line and are three times more likely to live in poverty than white same-sex couples.
The most economically vulnerable in the LGBT community are the elderly and young. It is estimated that 1.6 million youths in the United States experience homelessness each year, and between 20% and 40% identify as LGBT. Members of the LGBT community that are 65 years of age and older, and make up 7% of the total members of the LGBT community, 28% are disabled and 6% receive Medicaid or other government assistance.
One of the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community are transgender people. Research has shown that transgender people are four times likely to have a household income under $10,000.00 and twice as likely to be unemployed as the typical person in the United States. 90% reported being harassed, mistreated, or discrimination on the job, and one in five reported being homeless as some point in their lives.
How do we as a culture begin to address these issues? Some state that we must understand the diversity within the LGBT community; that this is the key to breaking down the myth of affluence and the beginning of understanding how to combat LGBT poverty. There also had to be a collation among women, people of color, young and old and LGBT people altogether in the LGBT community.
What I find interesting is how you listen to people in LGBT community talk about unity, togetherness and acceptance. But they are just words, and words without action(s) mean nothing. We tend to look our noses down on those we don't consider worthy of our acceptance, we mock and ridicule those that dare to be different, we set standards that are only achievable in ones closed minded world. We live in a community that friends are determined on what they can do for us, and if you play the "game" you're somebody.
For a very select few there are those in the community that try to make a difference, they work tirelessly to help those in need and provide support and assistance where ever needed. Until we begin to change our attitude towards those in need we are no better than those in society determined to take away the rights we have.
So, where do we begin?
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ASD, Laura Yax WSCS. “Census 2000 Gateway.” U.S. Census Bureau, United States Government, 25 Jan. 2002, www.census.gov/main/www/cen2000.html.
Kurtzleben, Danielle. Study: Poverty Elevated for the LGBT Community. U.S. News, 6 June 2013, www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/06/06/study-poverty-rate-elevated-for-lgbt-community
Quintana, Nico Sifra. “Poverty in the LGBT Community.” Center for American Progress, doi:10.1037/e549352009-015.
Whalen, Kate. “Poverty Is an LGBT Issue: New Report Identifies Low-Income LGBT Legal Needs.” Legal Services NYC, 2017, www.legalservicesnyc.org/news-and-events/press-room/966-poverty-is-an-lgbt-issue-new-report-identifies-low-income-lgbt-legal-needs-.
Istockphoto.com. Purchased for commercial use only.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefill v. Hodges in 2015 would alter the landscape of American society forever, and thus changing the rights of gays throughout the United States to get married. Justice Kennedy stated in the decision that marriage is "a keystone of our social order," and the 5-4 Supreme Court voted effectively prohibited individual states from banning same-sex marriages.
This historic ruling opened the door for homosexual married couples to claim the same numerous benefits awarded to heterosexual couples. Before the U.S. Supreme Court decision there were only 19 states and the District of Columbia that recognized same-sex marriage. In 2013 the Court would declared parts of the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional and paved the way for married same-sex couples in these states to claim the same protections and benefits afforded to heterosexual couples. However, the 2013 decision did not require states that did not recognize same-sex marriage to begin doing so.
It's important to understand that by allowing same-sex couples to get married, protections that were once out of their reach were now afforded to them. We don't tend to think these protections are important, but as you will see these benefits can and have a profound impact on our daily lives.
Legal Rights Accorded to Married Couples
According to a report given to the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. General Accounting Office, here are a few of the benefits provided by the federal government to legally married couples:
Many state-level benefits mirror those that are available at the federal level, but states offer additional rights.
Marriages vs. Civil Unions or Domestic Partnerships
Many of the states that did not recognized same-sex marriages before the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decisions nonetheless permitted registered domestic partnerships and civil unions between same-sex couples. It's important to note that these arrangements are not the same as marriage. They often convey limited, similar rights as marriage, but you might find that you don't enjoy the full scope of benefits afforded by the 2015 decision unless you and your partner take steps to legally marry.
Read the full list of legalized marriage benefits.
There are many reasons to get married, you have to understand what legal rights that you have, and remember once married and for some reason it doesn't work out, you just can't "walk" away from the marriage. Gay marriage is not for everyone, and that's OK, it's a personal decision!
Image: istockphoto.com. Purchased for commercial use.
Source: Office of the General Counsel. U.S. General Accounting Office. GAO/OGC-97-16. Letter. Jan. 31, 1997
June is officially gay pride month, and for many communities around the country and world we come together to honor the past, live in the present and fight for the future. It is easy to forget how much we as culture has had to overcome in order to live our lives as we see fit.
Gay Pride is a time for us to come together and celebrate life in general. To show our pride in not only ourselves, but also to remember the past, those in history who give up so much so we could hold hands in public, and even get marries. There was a time that being gay (homosexual) was a crime, and the punishments could range from prison to inhuman medical procedures. Several countries around the world have legalized gay marriage, and removed laws that prevent us from being ourselves, however, for many they still struggle to just have basic human rights.
So, as we get out flags and banners, we should be thankful and supportive of our community!
Here is a timeline provided by infoplease that put together a timeline of the gay rights movements in the United States.
The Society for Human Rights in Chicago becomes the country's earliest known gay rights organization.
Alfred Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, revealing to the public that homosexuality is far more widespread than was commonly believed.
The Mattachine Society, the first national gay rights organization, is formed by Harry Hay, considered by many to be the founder of the gay rights movement.
The first lesbian-rights organization in the United States, the Daughters of Bilitis, was established in San Francisco in 1955.
The Daughters of Bilitis, a pioneering national lesbian organization, is founded.
Joe Cino, an Italian-American theater producer, opens Caffe Cino. Caffe Cino is credited with starting the Off-Off-Broadway theater movement. Six years after Caffe Cino opens, it hosts the first gay plays, The Madness of Lady Bright, by Lanford Wilson, and The Haunted Host, by Robert Patrick.
Illinois becomes the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults in private.
The world's first the transgender organization, the National Transsexual Counseling Unit, was established in San Francisco.
The Stonewall riots transform the gay rights movement from one limited to a small number of activists into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance. Patrons of a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, fight back during a police raid on June 27, sparking three days of riots.
The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders.
Harvey Milk runs for city supervisor in San Francisco. He runs on a socially liberal platform and opposes government involvement in personal sexual matters. Milk comes in 10th out of 32 candidates, earning 16,900 votes, winning the Castro District and other liberal neighborhoods. He receives a lot of media attention for his passionate speeches, brave political stance, and media skills.
San Francisco Mayor George Moscone appoints Harvey Milk to the Board of Permit Appeals, making Milk the first openly gay city commissioner in the United States. Milk decides to run for the California State Assembly and Moscone is forced to fire him from the Board of Permit Appeals after just five weeks. Milk loses the State Assembly race by fewer than 4,000 votes. Believing the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club will never support him politically, Milk co-founds the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club after his election loss.
Activists in Miami, Florida pass a civil rights ordinance making sexual orientation discrimination illegal in Dade County. Save Our Children, a campaign by a Christian fundamentalist group and headed by singer Anita Bryant, is launched in response to the ordinance. In the largest special election of any in Dade County history, 70% vote to overturn the ordinance. It is a crushing defeat for gay activists. [Read More]
Source: "The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline." Infoplease. Sandbox Network, Inc., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
Images: Grey Villet. Gay Rights - Early Days of The Movement 1972. Time Magazine.
After President-Elect Trump takes office there could be several possible fights that the LGBTQI community throughout the United States will have to prepare for. Not only do we have a Republican President, the Republicans control both houses of Congress. It's easy to become comfortable with status-quo since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015.
There are still serious issues that the LGBTQI communities throughout the United States must stand up and fight for. I don't believe that anyone thought Trump would become President, much less have one of the most anti-LGBT Vice Presidents in recent history. So, I've listed 5 areas that we have to pay attention to. If we think the fight is over, think again, in some cases it's just starting.
While the LGBTQI communities in the United States has made amazing progress there are still areas that need our attention. If we fail to use our voice for change we encourage others to take away the progress we have fought for. If we ignore the fight we dishonor those in our history that gave so much and in some case their lives so that we can live a free life.
So, I've been waiting for everyone to somewhat calm down after the November Presidential elections. Since then I have been looking at my Facebook feed and reading some pretty negative things about Trump. Most are valid and scary to say the least. But what about Vice-President elect Mike Pence; hell you thought Trump was bad we should consider what might happen if Trump is impeach or resigns. Then we are stuck with Mike Pence as President and that could be a disaster waiting to happen. While I don't believe for a minute that Trump is going to do anything to protect LGBTQI rights; I mean just look at his VP and cabinet. However, I say this reluctantly the thought of Pence as President is just downright scary, and I believe he would do everything he could to "roll-back" LGBTQI rights (along with women's rights); appoint Federal judges and officials that would be more in line with his ideas and beliefs.
Pence is arguably going to be the most anti-LGBTQI Vice President in history; can you imagine what he could do as President of the United States? Don't get me wrong I am not a supporter of Trump, but if I had to choose it wouldn't be to remove Trump so quickly. I have highlighted six of Pence's greatest anti-LGBTQI hits.
So, before we spend energy and money of trying to remove Trump from office, let's take a closer look at Mike Pence. I have always said that if you want to effect change then we in the LGBTQI need to come together across the United States and help elect and change the face of Congress; it is there we have the greatest advantages.