Connect with us

National

Nearly 300 mayors join same-sex marriage campaign

Mayors for the Freedom to Marry launched last year.

Published

on

Mike McGinn, Washington, Seattle, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, gay news, Washington Blade, marriage equality, gay marriage, marriage equality
Annise Parker, Houston, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, gay news, Washington Blade, marriage equality, gay marriage, marriage equality

Houston Mayor Annise Parker (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Mayors from across the country on Friday attended a reception during the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual D.C. meeting to commemorate the first anniversary of a campaign that features city executives who support marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker, gay Gainesville (Fla.) Mayor Craig Lowe and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn are among those who attended the reception at the Capital Hilton in downtown Washington. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, who is the former mayor of Stamford in his state’s Fairfield County, and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who sparked controversy last year when he refused to join the campaign, also made brief appearances.

“This has been an exceptionally monumental year for this cause — the cause of the freedom to marry,” Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, said. He noted 294 mayors from 42 states have joined the campaign since his organization formally launched it last January. “One thing I’ve learned that instead of going to Capitol Hill, if you really want to get something done you go to a mayor. You all were a crucial part of the historic wins this year.”

Solomon specifically thanked Villaraigosa, who chaired the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and Nutter for their efforts in support of the addition of a same-sex marriage plank to the party’s platform. He also praised Parker’s decision to join the campaign in spite of backlash she received from socially conservative pastors and others in her city who sharply criticized her public support for marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“If you’re out from L.A. and represent Hollywood and you have to come with the experiences that I come with, it’s a lot different than when you live somewhere where maybe not everybody is quite on board,” Villaraigosa said. “She [Parker] was steadfast in her commitment to this issue.”

Parker further discussed the controversy.

“Talking about marriage strikes a visceral cord in people and it changes the entire debate,” she said. “That is precisely why we have to have that conversation. Domestic partner benefits and the ability to recognize the relationship through complicated legal processes is not the same thing as marriage, which is an institution that we all recognize, that we understand in our hearts and in our minds that speaks across generations… we deserve full equality.”

The reception took place less than three months after voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approved same-sex marriage referenda and Minnesotans rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned nuptials for gays and lesbians.

The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday is scheduled to vote on a same-sex marriage bill. Lawmakers in Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey and Hawaii are expected to consider the issue in the coming weeks and months.

The U.S. Supreme Court in March will hear oral arguments in cases challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 that banned same-sex marriage in the Golden State in 2008. The justices are expected to issue their rulings in June.

“America would be a stronger place if folks were able to love who they want to love, be who they want to be with, ” Nutter said.

Des Moines (Iowa) Mayor Frank Cownie recalled the 2009 court ruling that struck down his state’s ban on nuptials for gays and lesbians. He described the recall of three Iowa Supreme Court justices who issued the decision as “shameful,” but stressed the fight for marriage rights for same-sex couples continues.

“It’s about equal rights,” Cownie said, noting gays and lesbians flocked to Iowa to tie the knot after the ruling took effect. “Here we are in the Heartland; conservative, really white Iowa and we had some judges that had the guts to stand up in front of everybody and say this ain’t right. Everybody has equal rights and you can’t separate those rights based on anybody’s decision on who they love and who they want to marry. So let’s keep up the right. We’ll keep it going in Iowa.”

St. Paul (Minn.) Mayor Chris Coleman noted to the Washington Blade during the reception that Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, which led the effort against his state’s proposed constitutional amendment, is a former staffer. He said he remains proud that Minnesota is the first state to reject a proposal that “would discriminate against way too many of our citizens.”

“No mayor in this country should allow their residents — their constituents — to be discriminated against,” Coleman said. “This is a seminal moment in this country where the tide has turned and I don’t think there’s any turning back on this one.”

Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, Antonio Villaraigosa, Annise Parker, Michael Nutter, marriage equality, gay marriage, same-sex marriage

Mayors for the Freedom to Marry (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Continue Reading
Advertisement

National

Florida House committee passes “Don’t Say Gay” bill

Equality Florida quickly condemned the measure

Published

on

The Florida State Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González)

The Republican majority Florida House Education and Employment Committee on Thursday passed House Bill 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill, colloquially referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill advancing the measure to the full House.

HB 1557 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 1834, would ban classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, erasing LGBTQ identity, history, and culture — as well as LGBTQ students themselves.

The bill also has provisions that appear to undermine LGBTQ support in schools and include vague parental notification requirements which could effectively “out” LGBTQ-identifying students to their parents without their consent.

“The Trevor Project’s research has found that LGBTQ youth who learned about LGBTQ issues or people in classes at school had 23 percent lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past year. This bill will erase young LGBTQ students across Florida, forcing many back into the closet by policing their identity and silencing important discussions about the issues they face,” said Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project. “LGBTQ students deserve their history and experiences to be reflected in their education, just like their peers.”

In an email to the Los Angeles Blade, Brandon J. Wolf, the press secretary for Equality Florida noted; “Governor DeSantis’ march toward his own personal surveillance state continues. Today, the Don’t Say Gay bill, a piece of legislation to erase discussion of LGBTQ people from schools in Florida, passed its first committee and became another component of an agenda designed to police us in our classrooms, doctor’s offices, and workplaces. Make no mistake — LGBTQ people are your neighbors, family members, and friends. We are a normal, healthy part of society and we will not be erased.”

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than 42 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and non-binary youth.

According to a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project, 85 percent of transgender and non-binary youth — and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66 percent) — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.

When asked about proposed legislation that would require schools to tell a student’s parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun or if they identify as LGBTQ at school, 56 percent of transgender and non-binary youth said it made them feel angry, 47 percent felt nervous and/or scared, 45 percent felt stressed, and more than 1 in 3 felt sad.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, the Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678. 

Continue Reading

National

NCAA adopts new policy amid fervor over transgender athletes

Sport-by-sport approach requires certain levels of testosterone

Published

on

NCAA, gay news, Washington Blade
The NCAA has adopted new policy amid a fervor over transgender athletes.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced it has adopted new procedures on competition of transgender athletes, creating a “sport-by-sport” approach that also requires documentation of testosterone levels across the board amid a fervor of recently transitioned swimmers breaking records in women’s athletics.

The NCAA said in a statement its board of governors voted on Wednesday in support of the “sport-by-sport” approach, which the organization says “preserves opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.”

Although the policy defers to the national governing bodies for individual sports, it also requires transgender athletes to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections. The new policy, which consistent with rules for the U.S. Olympics, is effective 2022, although implementation is set to begin with the 2023-24 academic year, the organization says.

John DeGioia, chair of the NCAA board and Georgetown president, said in a statement the organization is “steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports.”

“It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences and college athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy,” DeGioia said.

More specifically, starting with the 2022-23 academic year, transgender athletes will need to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections, the organizational. These athletes, according to the NCAA, are also required to document testosterone levels four weeks before championship selections.

In terms of jurisdiction, the national governing bodies for individual sports are charged determines policies, which would be under ongoing review and recommendation by the NCAA, the organizational says. If there is no policy for a sport, that sport’s international federation policy or previously established International Olympics Committee policy criteria would be followed.

The NCAA adopts the policy amid controversy over University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas smashing records in women’s swimming. Thomas, which once competed as a man, smashed two national records and in the 1,650-yard freestyle placed 38 seconds ahead of closest competition. The new NCAA policy appears effectively to sideline Thomas, who has recently transitioned and unable to show consistent levels of testosterone.

Prior to the NCAA announcement, a coalition of 16 LGBTQ groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and Athlete Ally, this week sent to a letter to the collegiate organization, urging the organizations strengthen non-discrimination protections as opposed to weakening them. The new policy, however, appears to head in other direction, which the LGBTQ groups rejected in the letter.

“While decentralizing the NCAA and giving power to conferences and schools has its benefits, we are concerned that leaving the enforcement of non-discrimination protections to schools will create a patchwork of protections rather than a comprehensive policy that would protect all athletes, no matter where they play,” the letter says. “This would be similar to the patchwork of non-discrimination policies in states, where marginalized groups in some states or cities are protected while others are left behind by localities that opt not to enact inclusive policies.”

JoDee Winterhof, vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement after the NCAA announcement the new policy was effectively passing the buck.

“If the NCAA is committed to ensuring an environment of competition that is safe, healthy, and free from discrimination, they cannot dodge the question of how to ensure transgender athletes can participate safely,” Winterhof said. “That is precisely why we and a number of organizations across a wide spectrum of advocates are urging them to readopt and strengthen non-discrimination language in their constitution to ensure the Association is committed to enforcing the level playing field and inclusive policies they say their values require. Any policy language is only as effective as it is enforceable, and with states passing anti-transgender sports bans, any inclusive policy is under immediate threat. We are still reviewing the NCAA’s new policy on transgender inclusion and how it will impact each and every transgender athlete.”

Continue Reading

National

Transgender rights group’s Los Angeles office receives bomb threat

[email protected] Coalition evacuated

Published

on

(Public domain photo)

A bomb threat was phoned in Wednesday afternoon to the Wilshire Boulevard Koreatown offices of the [email protected] Coalition, Bamby Salcedo, the president and CEO of the non-profit organization told the Los Angeles Blade.

According to Salcedo, an unidentified male caller told the staff person who answered at approximately 3 p.m., while delivering the threat said; “You’re all going to die.” The staff immediately evacuated everyone from their offices and then contacted the Los Angeles Police Department for assistance.

Officers, specialists and detectives from the Rampart Division of the LAPD responded and swept the building. A spokesperson for the LAPD confirmed that the incident is under active investigation but would make no further comment.

On a Facebook post immediately after the incident the non-profit wrote; “To ensure the safety of our clients and staff members, we ask that you please NOT come to our office.”

In a follow-up post, Salcedo notified the organization and its clientele that the LAPD had given the all-clear and that their offices would resume normal operations Thursday at 9:00 a.m. PT.

“Thank you for your messages and concern for our staff and community,” Salcedo said.

“No amount of threats can stop us from our commitment to the TGI community,” she added.

The [email protected] Coalition was founded in 2009 by a group of transgender and gender non-conforming and intersex (TGI) immigrant women in Los Angeles as a grassroots response to address the specific needs of TGI Latino immigrants who live in the U.S.

Since then, the agency has become a nationally recognized organization with representation in 10 different states across the U.S. and provides direct services to TGI individuals in Los Angeles.

In 2015, the [email protected] Coalition identified the urgent need to provide direct services to empower TGI people in response to structural, institutional, and interpersonal violence, and the Center for Violence Prevention and Transgender Wellness was born.

Since then, the organization has secured funding from the state and local government sources as well as several private foundations and organizations to provide direct services to all TGI individuals in Los Angeles County.

The [email protected] Coalition’s primary focus is to change the landscape of access to services for TGI people and provide access to comprehensive resource and services that will improve the quality of life of TGI people.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular