Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Canadian Judge says law violates transgender rights

STAFF REPORTS | EDMONTON, Alberta -- A judge has ruled that a provincial law states that transgender persons must have reassignment surgery before they can change the sex on their birth certificates violates their rights is unconstitutional and can no longer enforced.
Alberta Justice Brian Burrows issued his opinion Wednesday, in the case of a 23-year-old transgender woman who filed the legal challenge to the law, a week after Alberta Premier Dave Hancock announced changes will be made to the Vital Statistics Act that the surgery requirement will be dropped.
“Transgendered persons encounter disadvantage, prejudice, stereotyping and vulnerability because their felt sex is not the sex recorded at birth,” he wrote in his decision.
He said the law, as it stands, contributes to the prejudice.
“When asked, at the presentation of this application, how it could possibly matter that a person born male, but who has transitioned and lives female, have a birth certificate that says they are female, counsel for Alberta could offer no answer.”
He then ordered the government to issue a new birth certificate to the woman within thirty days.
A spokeswoman with Service Alberta, Jessica Johnson, told The Canadian Press that said the Burrows’ ruling will be respected and the woman will receive a new birth certificate by the judge’s deadline.
When asked about the legislation removing the surgical requirement, Johnson said details of the new legislation are still being worked out.
Human rights complaints have been filed in at least four provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia — calling for changes to such laws.
In British Columbia, a bill was recently introduced that would remove the condition that a person must first have sex reassignment surgery. It would also allow children, with parental consent, to switch the sex listed on their birth certificates.
In 2012, Ontario’s human rights tribunal declared it discriminatory to require surgery for a transgender woman who wanted to switch to female from male on her birth certificate. The province revised its legislation to allow a change with a note from a doctor or psychologist, but set an age limit of at least 18.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Compared To What: The Improbable Journey Of Barney Frank

BOSTON -- When husband-and-wife directing team Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler approached Barney Frank about making a documentary, their pitch sounded lighthearted.
In late 2011, Frank was preparing to retire from his Massachusetts seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, after a 40-year career in public office.
“It was going to be a nostalgic look and what it’s like making the transition,” says Frank, 74, on a recent phone call from Maine where he spends a fair portion of his time now. But after collecting more than 100 hours of interviews, Frank recalls, “they decided they wanted to do more of my career.” 
The movie follows Frank’s journey as the first congressman to voluntarily come out of the closet in 1987 and it bookends that history with the summer 2012 wedding to Jim Ready (when the cameras trailed along at the tearful reception). “I regretted not coming out earlier,” Frank says. “My life was considerably improved when I wasn't hiding things. Plus, I think it had a good political effect on prejudice.”
Read more at Variety magazine here.

Michigan City postpones 'indefinitely' final vote on LGBT anti-discrimination ban

STAFF REPORTS | SAGINAW --  The Saginaw City Council voted 7-2 Monday to postpone consideration of the proposed "Human Rights ordinance" indefinitely after nearly four hours of testimony.
After listening to at times contentious debate, Mayor Pro Tem Amos O'Neal proposed a motion to delay consideration of the measure, saying city leaders should take the time to meet with landlords, business leaders and leaders of the faith-based community reported the Saginaw News.
"This is a very important issue to the community," he said. "I think it would be premature to do it without allowing ample opportunity to bring these parties together."
City Councilwoman Annie Boensch, who led the effort to bring the ordinance to the table, fought vigorously against postponement.
"I cannot vote in support of postponing this any longer," Boensch told the paper adding, "I do not know what we were supposed to be doing the last two weeks."
Boensch said she was concerned that postponing could be an attempt to stop the progress of the proposed ordinance, pointing out that city attorneys were there Monday to answer any questions posed by members of City Council.
"We have the people sitting here that can answer those questions," she said. "But by making the motion you shut down that conversation."
Of the 38 individuals signed up to make public comments Monday night, 29 addressed the proposed ordinance. The majority of those were vocal supporters, though some critics, including a few local pastors, spoke out against the ordinance.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Today's top trending stories from LGBTQ Nation Magazine

Boy Scouts revoke a church's charter over gay scoutmaster

SEATTLE -- The Boy Scouts of America announced Sunday to parents and Troop Leaders of a Seattle church's BSA troop that is no longer authorised to host and sponsor its troop and the Cub Scout Pack because of its refusal to fire its openly Gay Troop Leader.
On March 31, the BSA notified Chief Seattle Council Troop 98 Scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath that his registration would be revoked because he is gay. However, the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, which charters Troop 98, said it would stand by McGrath and allow him to continue his duties as Scoutmaster. As a result of its continued support, the BSA on Thursday stripped the church of its charter. McGrath, runs the troop at Rainier Beach.
Community support for McGrath has been overwhelmingly positive. The entire Seattle City Council, as well as more than 20 Washington State legislators, have expressed their support for Rainier Beach United Methodist Church’s right to determine its own leadership for McGrath’s ability to remain a Scoutmaster.
"Based on our religious principles, we will continue to act as an autonomous church that does not discriminate,” said Rev. Monica Corsaro, the church pastor when the controversy first erupted. “We will continue to have our Troop meetings here, every Thursday night, with business as usual." After being notified she said the move was expected, but added that her congregation’s anti-discrimination beliefs were not being respected. 
She also called it a “unilateral decision” by the BSA and said that the church was not consulted. (The BSA said it called Corsaro; she said she could not talk last week during the busy Christian Holy Week holidays.)
“Breaking us up like this seems to go against everything the Boy Scouts is about,” Corsaro told NBC News. “It seems to me that when you are in a dispute with a partner you try to work it out with the partner. It’s very clear we’re not viewed as an equal partner.”
“The Boy Scouts’ decisions only serve to hurt a group of boys who need the values and leadership of someone like Scoutmaster McGrath,” said Zach Wahls, Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, a national organization dedicated to ending the BSA’s ban on gay members and leaders. “Unfortunately, the BSA’s decision calls into question its commitment to leadership and values by perpetuating an outmoded policy rooted in fear and discrimination.

Friday, April 18, 2014

SC Small Town Mayor fires lesbian police chief

Courtesy of WBTW News
Staff Reports | LATTA -- Residents and city council members of Latta, S.C., are questioning the abrupt firing of the town’s first female and openly lesbian police chief. Councilman Brian Mason says that Latta's Mayor Earl Bullard fired Chief Crystal Moore after writing her up in seven reprimands in a single day.
I looked at the reasons, some of them are questionable,” Mason told WBTW News adding that those seven write-ups were more than the Chief had ever received in her 20 year long career with the town's police department.
Other council members think that Bullard fired Moore after she began an investigation into one of his appointees, the  reprimands include citations for running “unauthorized” background checks, “questioning authority of supervisor,” “questioning authority of mayor,” “failure to maintain order” and “contacting the news media.” 
However, according to one councilman who recorded the mayor's remarks defending his actions, anti-gay bias may have played a role. Councilman Jared Taylor's recording captures the mayor disparaging the chief's personal life and sexual orientation: 
“I would much rather have.. and I will say this to anybody’s face… somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children. 
Because that ain’t the damn way it’s supposed to be. You know.. you  got people out there — I’m telling you buddy — I don’t agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed and I don’t say anything because that is the way they want to live, but I am not going to let my child be around. ” 
I’m not going to let 2 women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it. And I’m not going to see them do it with 2 men neither.”
I’m not going to do it. Because that ain’t the way the world works. ”
Now, all these people showering down and saying ‘Oh it’s a different lifestyle they can have it.’ Ok, fine and dandy, but I don’t have to look at it and I don’t want my child around it.”
The townspeople have also rallied around the chief, one resident saying; ”This woman has been a veteran of the department and a pillar of this community for years."
South Carolina is one of 29 states where it is legal to fire someone for being gay.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sprint slurs Customer in an email- calls him "gay sissyboy"

CHICAGO -- A Chicago resident says he received an inappropriate email from mobile phone carrier Sprint that addressed him as a "gay sissyboy." Kelvin Mathews told NBC5 Chicago that he received an email from Sprint addressed to "Sissyboy Kelvin Gay Matthews" after he called for assistance because he was receiving messages from another account he thought he closed.
When he spoke to a Sprint customer service representative about the problem he was having, he was told to check the status of his phone and of his online account. Mathews said he couldn't remember that account’s login information and the customer service representative told Mathews he'd send him an email with instructions.
When Mathews checked his inbox, he said was angered how the email was addressed,
"I expressed my concerns to them and how serious this is to me and my wife," he said. "I don’t live a homosexual life, I never gave Sprint anything to go on and think that, and even if I did I don’t think it would be fair to say this on my account."
Sprint has launched an investigation into the incident but acknowledged the error. According to a spokesperson for the phone company, employees are able to change the salutations on automated emails.
"We have apologized to Mr. Mathews and deeply regret what happened over the weekend," Sprint said in a statement. "Mr. Mathews should never have received this email from our representative. We have dealt with that employee appropriately."
Mathews said that a Sprint representative contacted him Monday to apologize. The rep said Mathew’s account would be closed with no early termination fees and agreed for Mathews to open a new business account with an iPhone with two months of free service. Mathews has yet to accept the offer, however.
"To have this email is a form of degrading someone and I think people need to know about it," he said. "They’re not treating customers like they should."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Anti-gay activist released from Canadian jail and back in United States

 Peter LaBarbera under arrest by Regina Police 
By Brody Levesque | NAPIER, Illinois -- Anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera is back home in Illinois after spending 24 hours in custody for violation of Canadian law, after his arrest along with Saskatchewan anti-abortion/anti-gay  advocate Bill Whatcott. The pair were arrested and charged with criminal mischief on Monday after demonstrating against homosexuality and abortion at the University of Regina.
LaBarbera told LGBTQ Nation Tuesday evening that he is scheduled to appear in court on May 26 to answer the charges. He also said that he was detained overnight by the Regina Police and after a discussion with the Canadian Border Services Agency officers Tuesday, he agreed to voluntarily cut his visit to Saskatchewan short.  "I was scheduled to fly out Thursday anyway," LaBarbera said. The Regina Police Service held LaBarbera in custody overnight at CBSA’s request according to a police spokesperson.
LaBarbera had been initially denied entry to Canada on April 10 under its hate speech law but he appealed and was granted a stay under agreement he would leave the country by April 17 and that, "I would not violate Canadian law," he said.
He added that he didn't think his appearance along with Whatcott and his two supporters, who carried signs with images of aborted fetuses, distributing anti-gay literature outside the University's Riddell Centre would be a violation of his agreement with the Border Services Agency. LaBarbera noted that he and Whatcott had planned to hold a similar protest at the University of Saskatchewan on Wednesday.
LaBarbera also said that he wants to clear this up with the help of an attorney he's retained to hopefully prevent being barred from future entry into Canada.

Monday, April 14, 2014

American anti-gay hate group leader arrested in Canada

Peter La Barbera being placed under arrest
STAFF REPORTS | REGINA, Saskatchewan (CBC) -- Peter LaBarbera an anti-gay activist and Bill Whatcott a Canadian anti-abortion activist were arrested Monday at the University of Regina for violating a no trespass instruction given by University Security officials. LaBarbera, the head of the Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, a Southern Poverty Law Center listed anti-gay hate group American, and Whatcott were taken into custody by Regina Police officers after being instructed to leave the school's campus or risk being arrested.
LaBarbera and Whatcott were in Weyburn over the weekend to speak at a pro-life conference. They were at the school attempting to hand out anti-abortion and anti-gay pamphlets, flanked by large placards depicting aborted fetuses.
LaBarbera was briefly detained at the Regina airport last week, but was allowed into Saskatchewan to participate in an anti-abortion conference in Weyburn, Sask., on the weekend.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Anti-gay Peter LaBarbera detained at Canadian Airport

By Brody Levesque | REGINA, Saskatchewan --  The head of an American anti-gay conservative group was detained by Canadian Border Services Agency officials Thursday at the Regina Saskatchewan airport.
Peter LaBarbera, the head of the Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, a group that has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-gay rhetoric, was scheduled to speak at the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association in Weyburn this weekend.
Human Rights and LGBT Activists who were opposed to LaBarbera's visit based on his history as an anti-gay activist had complained to Canadian authorities that his intended speech might violate Canada's strict laws that protect minorities including the LGBTQ community from what is termed "hate propaganda." 
According to the Americans for Truth About Homosexuality  website and his Twitter feed, LaBarbera states that he “had been flagged as a result of a campaign by the leftist group Intolerance Free Weyburn” as an “alleged purveyer of ‘hate.’”
“After questioning me about the purpose of my scheduled presentation at the SPLA event; rifling through my luggage, which contained numerous books and literature related to homosexuality (pro and con); examining the contents of my laptop and my cell phone; playing a DVD of my speech Wednesday at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio; and critically viewing AFTA’s website – a preliminary decision was made to deny my entrance into Canada on the basis that my speech at the SPLA would violate Canada’s ‘Hate Propaganda’ law (essentially the potential for ‘public incitement of hatred’ against a group of people based on their ‘sexual orientation’),” he stated.
LaBarbera said the “Orwellian experience at customs dragged on for more than three hours as a formal document was issued outlining my denial of entry under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.”
LaBarbera also said that his topic at the pro-life conference is the link between "pro-abortion and homosexual activism."
LaBarbera said he was released temporarily to the custody of Bill Whatcott, a prominent anti-gay and anti-abortion activist in Canada and was ordered to return Friday to appear before a board of the Canada Border Services Agency at Regina International Airport.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Today's top trending stories from LGBTQ Nation Magazine

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lesbian partner's name on Tennessee birth certificate could prove temporary

Valeria Tanco (L) & Sophy Jesty with their newborn daughter
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Wade Payne
STAFF REPORTS | KNOXVILLE (Reuters) -- A baby girl whose parents are part of a same-sex federal lawsuit in Tennessee is the first child born in the state to have a woman listed on the birth certificate as her "father."
Emilia Maria Jesty was born last month just after U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger issued the preliminary injunction barring the state from enforcing laws prohibiting recognition of her mothers' marriages.
In her written memorandum, Judge Trauger made clear that her order is only temporary and only applies to the three same-sex couples.
Valeria Tanco and Sophy Jesty got married in New York in 2011 and now live in Knoxville, where they teach at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
They are among scores of same-sex couples who, working with advocacy groups, have filed lawsuits to expand gay-marriage rights following a major U.S. Supreme Court decision last June allowing federal tax and other benefits for same-sex married couples. 
The state has appealed to the 6th Circuit and dependent on the outcome of the appellate court's ruling, it is expected that Tanco and Jesty's case or a similar challenge could reach the Supreme Court.
“It’s the first nail in the coffin of discriminating against same-sex married couples in Tennessee,” said Abby Rubenfeld, one of the attorneys for the same-sex couples. “Every single court that has considered these same issues has ruled the same way.”
It is possible a ruling against the couple could void Emilia's birth certificate and require that it be reissued with only Tanco listed. A spokeswoman for Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the state Health Department, which oversees birth certificates.
The head of a conservative organization that intervened in the lawsuit said Trauger’s decision thwarts the will of 80 percent of Tennesseans who voted to support a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
“While today’s decision by federal Judge Trauger is not a final ruling, she has clearly signaled her intent to continue the war by unelected federal judges against the rights of states and the citizens of that state to determine what its policies regarding marriage should be,” David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee said in an emailed statement.
Compiled from staff and wire service reports

Minnesota's Governor signs 'Safe Schools Act'

Tammy & Anthony Aaberg, Rep. Scott Dibble, Rep.Jim Davnie & Ann Erickson Gettis
Photo Courtesy of Tammy Aaberg
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act into law today on the steps of the state Capitol.  He was accompanied by members of the LGBT advocacy community who have long championed an expansion of Minnesota's laws regarding bullying.
The final bill requires school leaders to develop a comprehensive anti-bullying policy, train staff to prevent bullying and quickly investigate allegations. Current state law requires school districts to have a bullying policy but doesn't include details on what the policy should contain.
Tammy Aaberg who helped lobby for the law and who lost her 15 year old son Justin in July of 2010 after his suicide brought on she says by bullying because he was gay, is grateful for the hard work of the lawmakers and her fellow supporters over the past few years to get this measure passed.
"I'm so very happy the Safe and Supportive Schools bill finally passed and that other kids will have the protection that they need," she said.
The law was faced considerable opposition from anti-gay self described pro-family conservative groups who accused its supporters of advancing a social agenda. The controversial bullying prevention section, which specifies "students cannot be bullied for their sexual orientation or gender identity," has drawn significant attention as the opponents claimed that it amounted to special protection for LGBT youth and advanced "a gay agenda."
The bill had passed the Senate last week with a 36-31 vote with all Republicans and three Democrats voting against it. Tuesday's House session was acrimonious and debate from House Republicans ran for nearly 12 hours before the final vote which occurred shortly before 12:30 a.m Wednesday. The bill passed on a 69-63 vote, mostly along party lines.
Some Republicans expressed concern that the legislation would force school districts to teach young students about sexuality. This prompted Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, to claim that it [the bill] could expose students to "filthy, perverted information."
Other Republicans said the bill itself amounted to bullying, described it as fascism and compared it to George Orwell's novel "1984," about a state completely controlled by the government. They argued that it would override freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
"The Democrats want access into your private life," said Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker. "If this isn't a mirror image of '1984,' I don't know what is. The only difference is George Orwell was off by 30 years."
Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, the chief sponsor of the measure in the House, said the legislation is needed to ensure students felt safe at school and he repeatedly also stated that the bill has nothing to do with curriculum about sex.
"Sexuality and health education is local control and not affected by this bill," Davnie said. "There has been a lot of misinformation about this bill. The perception it deals with sexuality education is not correct. 
We talk about this being about anti-bullying, and it is. It's also about positioning Minnesota as a leader in the next generation of education reform," he said.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Today's Trending Stories from LGBTQ Nation Magazine

Monday, April 7, 2014

SC lawmakers claim university program designed to recruit lesbians

STAFF REPORTS | COLUMBIA -- Issues about LGBT people in the state's colleges and universities continues to dominate the attention and ire of South Carolina lawmakers. The latest controversy stems from a program that was to be presented in a LGBT symposium hosted by the University of South Carolina Upstate  that included a lecture titled, “How to be a lesbian in 10 days or less.”
That lecture drew the anger of State Senator Mike Fair(R) who alleges that university students are being "recruited" to be gay.
"It's just not normal and then you glorify, or it seems to me, that the promotion at USC is glorification of same sex orientation,” Fair told local media outlets adding “That's not an explanation of 'I was born this way.’  It's recruiting,” he said.
The assistant vice chancellor for USC Upstate communications, Tammy E. Whaley, sent local television station WYFF a statement that read:
“The title of ‘How to Become a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less,’ while deliberately provocative, is satirical in nature but has not been received as such. The controversy surrounding this performance has become a distraction to the educational mission of USC Upstate and the overall purpose of the Bodies of Knowledge symposium. As a result, we have canceled this segment of the symposium.”
Last month lawmakers voted to cut $70,000 collectively from the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate. 
The House rejected multiple attempts to restore $52,000 cut from the College of Charleston in the state budget, and $17,142 cut from the University of South Carolina Upstate. Those are the amounts the universities spent on books assigned to their incoming freshmen last summer. The efforts failed by votes of 69-41, 70-43, 71-40 and 71-38.
College of Charleston students read “Fun Home,” a book by Alison Bechdel that describes her childhood with a closeted gay father and her own coming out as a lesbian. USC Upstate assigned “Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio,” referring to South Carolina’s first gay and lesbian radio show, for a freshmen course that included lectures and other out-of-classroom activities meant to spark discussions about the book.
Representative Garry Smith(R), whose House subcommittee made the reductions, said he wanted to make a point after college officials declined to give students an option to read something else. He said he wouldn’t oppose the books if they were part of an elective course. He called it promotion of a lifestyle.
“Freedom comes with responsibility. These universities did not act responsibly,” said Smith, R-Simpsonville.
Gail Stephenson, president of the LGBT equality rights group Upstate Pride, said lawmakers are being unfair to both the university and its students.
“Diversity is diversity.  And we can't just say we are going to choose this part of diversity, but we're not going to choose this part of diversity.  Then what's next?  Are we going to cut out women's studies?  Racial integration?” said Gail Stephenson.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.