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National news in brief: April 20

Spitzer renounces 2001 study, Illinois marriage bill dead, LAPD new trans policies, and an airman discharged under DADT to be reinstated



Anthony Loverde,SLDN,gay news,gay politics dc

Anthony Loverde will be reinstated in the Air Force after settling with the government following the repeal of DADT. (Photo courtesy SLDN)

LAPD to house trans detainees separately

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Department has adopted a policy of housing transgender detainees separately from other prisoners, according to Frontiers LA.

The changes, which dictate that transgender detainees be transported to the new women’s module of the downtown Detention Center, rather than to local jails, come as part of a major overhaul of policies regarding LAPD interaction with trans individuals.

“You know, there is no down side for the police department,” said LA Police Chief Charlie Beck. “All this does is build trust. All this does is ensure that we do what we say which is: … treat people equally, apply the law equally.”

The new policies also include guidelines for using appropriate gender pronouns, for using a detainee’s preferred name, giving detainees access to clothing of their preferred gender and barring officers from frisking a detainee for the sole purpose of determining gender.

Discharged service member to be reinstated

SACRAMENTO — Staff Sgt. Anthony Loverde, discharged in 2008 under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” will be reinstated to the U.S. Air Force and will return to active duty, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which represented him in his lawsuit against the armed forces.

“I am honored and humbled to return to the service of my country and the job I love,” said Loverde, who will take the oath in Sacramento in May and be assigned to 19th Operations Squadron at Little Rock AFB in Arkansas. “I am grateful to my legal team and all of those in the armed forces who helped to facilitate this reinstatement. I am eager to take the oath and get to work.”

Loverde was one of three plaintiffs represented by SLDN in the case Almy v. U.S. He is only the second member of the armed forces discharged under DADT since its repeal, the first being his co-plaintiff, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jase Daniels, who was reinstated as a Navy linguist in December. The third plaintiff, Air Force Major Mike Almy, expects a resolution soon.

Illinois marriage bill dead for the year

CHICAGO — Gay Illinois Assembly member, Greg Harris, tells LGBT website Chicago Phoenix the votes “aren’t there,” for a bill he authored that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in that state.

“They call it a struggle for equality for a reason,” The Phoenix quoted Harris, whose civil unions bill passed in 2010. “I look at the roll call for the civil union bill and the people that voted at that time. Nearly a quarter of the people in the senate and a third of house are gone. We have a whole new group of legislators that have to be educated to get back to that original level of support.”

Civil unions offering many of the same benefits as marriage have been available to same-sex couples in Illinois since June 2011, but across the western state line, same-sex couples in Iowa have been able to marry legally since 2009.

Psychologist renounces his 2001 ‘ex-gay’ study

NEW YORK — In an interview with American Prospect magazine, influential clinical psychologist, Dr. Robert Spitzer, renounced a 2001 study he conducted that supporters of “ex-gay” reparative therapy have used to justify their tactics for more than a decade.

Spitzer was the driving force behind removing “homosexuality” as a mental illness from the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnosis manual, but later upset the psychology world with his study of patients who claimed success of “ex-gay” therapy methods.

“In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques [of my study] are largely correct,” Dr. Spitzer told the American Prospect. “The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more.”

Spitzer says he made several attempts to convince the editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior to print a retraction, but this was denied.

Spitzer asked the American Prospect to print a retraction for him, “So I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

‘Equality’ riders arrested in Colorado

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Five members of Soulforce’s “Equality Ride” and a member of the Denver community were arrested Tuesday at Colorado Christian University as they attempted to engage the campus community in a discussion of LGBT tolerance.

The riders were arrested for attempting to engage in a Bible study after the university declined to meet with the riders over concerns that LGBT students on campus faced a difficult climate. Other members of the ride distributed “affirming” materials at the campus entrance. The riders were expected to be released by Tuesday evening.

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Louisiana lawmakers fail to overturn Edwards veto of Trans sports bill

Edwards further said that the bill was “mean” because it targets “the most emotionally fragile children in the state of Louisiana.”



Louisiana Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards (Photo Credit: Official state portrait)

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana lawmakers failed to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ (D) veto last month of a bill that would have barred trans girls and women from participating on athletic teams or in sporting events designated for girls or women at elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools.

The measure, Senate Bill 156 authored by Sen. Beth Mizell titled the ‘the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,’ in the Governor’s eyes, “was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana,” Edwards said in his veto statement;

“As I have said repeatedly when asked about this bill, discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana. Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue. 

The Republican majority state House chamber failed to override the Governor’s veto after voting 68-30 to override it, according to the state legislature’s website.

The vote narrowly missed the 70-vote threshold needed in the lower chamber to override the veto.

Two-thirds of both the House and Senate must vote to override a governor’s veto, according to the local Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate.

The Governor reacted to the news that his veto withstood Republican efforts to overturn it in a press conference Wednesday.

Edwards noted that in his view he had “rejected a play” that had no place in Louisiana. 

“I would rather the headlines going out from today be that Louisiana did what was right and best. We rejected a play out of a national playbook that just had no place in Louisiana. That bill wasn’t crafted for our state, I mean go read it and look at the arguments that were made. None of that applies here,” Edwards said.

He further said that the bill was “mean” because it targets “the most emotionally fragile children in the state of Louisiana.” 

“We have to be better than that,” Edwards said. “We have to be better than that.” 


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Federal court blocks West Virginia Law banning Trans youth sports

“It hurt that the State of West Virginia would try to block me from pursuing my dreams. I just want to play.”



Becky Pepper-Jackson (Photo credit: ACLU/Raymond Thompson)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A judge of the United States District Court, Southern District of West Virginia ruled Wednesday that 11-year-old Becky Pepper-Jackson must be allowed to try out for the girls’ cross-country and track teams at her school, blocking West Virginia from enforcing a law that bans transgender girls and women from participating in school sports. 

The ruling came in the lawsuit challenging the ban filed by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of West Virginia, and Cooley LLP.

“I am excited to know that I will be able to try out for the girls’ cross-country team and follow in the running shoes of my family,” said Becky Pepper-Jackson, the plaintiff in the lawsuit. “It hurt that the State of West Virginia would try to block me from pursuing my dreams. I just want to play.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed H.B. 3293 into law at the end of April. It was one of hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills pushed in state legislatures across the country in 2021. During legislative debate, it was not endorsed by any mainstream sporting or health organizations. A similar law in Idaho was blocked by a federal court in 2020, and a federal court in Connecticut recently dismissed a challenge to policies that allow all girls, including girls who are transgender, to participate on girls’ sports teams. Legal challenges are underway against similar laws passed in other states.

The Supreme Court recently refused to disturb Gavin Grimm’s victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, where he prevailed in challenging his school’s anti-transgender discrimination against him. This decision — which is binding precedent in West Virginia federal court — said that federal law protects transgender students from discrimination in schools.

“This is great news for Becky, and while our work is not done yet, today’s ruling jibes with similar rulings in other courts across the country,” said Avatara Smith-Carrington, Tyron Garner Memorial Law Fellow, Lambda Legal. “It is our hope that courts recognize and address discrimination when they see it, and nowhere is it more visible than in these stark attacks against trans youth.”

“Becky — like all students — should have the opportunity to try out for a sports team and play with her peers,” said Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. “We hope this also sends a message to other states to stop demonizing trans kids to score political points and to let these kids live their lives in peace.” 

“We’ve said all along this cruel legislation would not survive a legal challenge, and we’re encouraged by the court’s decision today,” said ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark. “We hope trans kids throughout West Virginia who felt attacked and wronged by the passage of this legislation are feeling empowered by today’s news.”

“We are extremely gratified — for Becky, and for all trans youth — at the court’s recognition that the law and the facts clearly support treating people who are transgender fairly and equally. Discrimination has no place in schools or anywhere else,” said Kathleen Hartnett of Cooley LLP.

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Conservative groups attack proposed Alabama capital city’s LGBTQ law

Allege law requires Christians to violate their religious beliefs



Alabama State Capitol, HIV, gay news, Washington Blade
Alabama State Capitol (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama capital’s City Council is being urged to reject a proposed ordinance that would make sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes under the law.  Matthew Clark, the Executive Director of the conservative Alabama Center for Law and Liberty sent a letter on behalf of his group and six allied organizations asking the Council to abandon a vote implementing the ordnance.

According to the letter, the groups allege that the law would require Christians to violate their religious beliefs or face fines under certain circumstances. Prominent among the other signatures is Mathew D. Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an extremist anti-LGBTQ hate group.

The SPLC, which has its headquarters in Montgomery, writes; “The Liberty Counsel has also been active in the battle against same-sex marriage and hate crimes legislation, which it claimed in a 2007 news release to be “’thought crimes’ laws that violate the right to freedom of speech and of conscience” and will “have a chilling effect on people who have moral or religious objections to homosexual behavior.” In that same release, the Liberty Counsel falsely claimed that the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo., had nothing to do with homosexuality, but instead was “a bungled robbery.”

In the letter Clark noted; ““As we read the ordinance, churches could be fined if they refuse to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice, and they might be fined if they refused to let same-sex couples use their facilities for weddings,” Clark said. “They could also be fined if they declined to hire non-ministerial personnel, such as facility managers or secretaries, whose sexual orientation or gender identity contradicts the tenants of the church’s faith.”

“Christian schools, small business owners, and homeowners are also in the crosshairs. Schools could face liability if they decline to let transgender students use the locker rooms of their choice,” Clark said. “Small business owners like Jack Phillips [referring to Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission] could face liability. And homeowners who list their homes on Airbnb could be fined if they declined to let a same-sex couple engage in sexual activities in their home that violate the tenants of their faith.”

Clark then warned the City Council that if it passes the ordinance, litigation could result and the City would likely lose.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported last month that City Mayor Steven Reed said a council vote in favor of the LGTBQ nondiscrimination ordinance that’s now being drafted in Montgomery would send a message. 

“There are signals that communities can send, and this is an important signal not only to those residents that live here right now but people all over the country that have maybe one idea of Alabama and Montgomery, and we want to show them that there’s a different reality here,” he said. 

Reed and his team have been working with the Human Rights Campaign and other advocacy groups to draft an ordinance that would expand protections for LGBTQ residents in the state’s capital city. The proposed measure, which would specifically target discrimination in government, employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity the Advertiser reported.

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