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Gay Mormons relish the opportunity to marry in Utah

Same-sex couples marry in state following court decision



Gay Mormons relish the opportunity to marry following the Utah court ruling (photo from wikimedia by Joe Ravi).

Gay Mormons relish the opportunity to marry following the Utah court ruling. (photo from wikimedia by Joe Ravi)

For lesbian couple Terri Henry and Perry Kirby, the court ruling instituting marriage equality in Utah and granting them the ability to wed allowed them to affirm the Mormon values with which they were raised.

Although Henry, 51, and Kirby, 47, no longer identify as members of the Church of Latter-day Saints, they say their upbringing compelled them to marry at Salt Lake County on Monday.

Henry, who left the church after it filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court in favor of Proposition 8, said LDS teaching showed her the importance of marriage — even if it’s to someone of the same gender.

“Being raised in a very strong community that values family, that values commitment and sacrifice to one another, that was something I wanted to continue with my life,” Henry said.

For Kirby, who went on a mission for the church to the Netherlands in the mid-1980s, she wanted to marry her partner of four years because she came to learn through the Mormon Church that “family is so important.”

“I was ingrained with family being one of the most important things in life,” Kirby said. “The ability to serve another, and to sacrifice for each other is important, and having that connection makes that expectation more cemented.”

The couple initially tried to obtain a marriage license in Utah County on Friday, but they were turned away. According to media reports, that county was still denying marriage licenses as of Monday.

Although the Mormon Church is known for being a stalwart advocate for family and marriage, that ideology isn’t supposed to apply to same-sex couples. The church has been a leading opponent of same-sex marriage, donating millions to oppose its legalization.

Upon the news last week that U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby had issued a decision instituting marriage equality throughout the state, the Church of Latter-day Saints reaffirmed its position against same-sex marriage.

“The Church has been consistent in its support of traditional marriage while teaching that all people should be treated with respect,” the statement says. “This ruling by a district court will work its way through the judicial process. We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court.”

In 2008, during the battle over California’s Proposition 8, the Mormon Church took a lead role in organizing support for an amendment that stripped marriage rights for gay couples. Although the church largely sat on the sidelines over the 2012 ballot initiatives on marriage, Mormons leaders took an active role in attempting to stop the legalization of same-sex marriage in Hawaii.

Kirby said she’s sad for the church because it doesn’t extend its support of strong families to gay and lesbian couples seeking to wed.

“There’s is a church that was founded coming out of oppression and they have now turned into the bullies themselves,” Kirby said. “They, of all people, should be supportive and understanding and be able to step away from their dogma.”

That’s the same sentiment that Perry expressed with regard to the Mormon Church’s opposition to gay nuptials.

“I feel like everything that the Mormon Church has gone through, from their early ages of persecution, now I think because of the fear that they have, they really, really don’t know how to handle gay couples,” Perry said.

As Kirby noted, the decision brings the issue to the doorstep of the church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

“This shift that has happened on their home turf hopefully will speak to them that this is miraculous in a good, positive way and that we can all be OK, we can all be fine, no one’s threatened,” Kirby said. “All families have space to be together.”

Spencer Clark, executive director of Mormons for Equality, affirmed that the ruling from the district enabled gay Mormons to gain access to the institution they hold dear as part of their values.

“While Mormons have organized to advocate for the equal treatment of families across the country, it is particularly sweet to have this decision come down in the heartland of our faith,” Clark said. “We pray with confidence that it will be upheld as the inevitable appeals ensue, but take this time to express gratitude for the progress that this ruling represents – particularly for the many families who will ultimately be stronger and more secure as a result.”

What is the couple’s next plan? Kirby said it’s simple, “We’re going to take a nap.” The couple had camped out  before the clerk’s office in Salt Lake City early in the morning to ensure they’d be able to receive a license Monday morning. There will be time to celebrate at a candlelight vigil later in the evening and during Christmas at home.

“We have a really great new ornament that says, ‘Our first Christmas together in 2013,” Kirby said. “While we’ve shared Christmas together, this is our first married Christmas, and that is an amazing thing.”



Anti-LGBTQ provisions removed from NDAA

New version omits restriction on gender affirming care, book and drag bans



U.S. Capitol Building (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Anti-LGBTQ provisions submitted by House Republicans to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have been removed from the defense spending bill, triggering outrage from conservative lawmakers and praise from LGBTQ groups.

The conference version of the bill was released on Thursday.

This week saw the revocation of two measures targeting gender affirming care along with the book ban and drag ban. Language stipulating the list of approved flags that can be flown at military bases was amended such that more flags can be added on a discretionary basis.

“MAGA members of Congress tried to hijack the National Defense Authorization Act to advance their anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, attempting to riddle it with discriminatory riders,” Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary Brandon Wolf said in a statement to the Washington Blade.

His statement continued, “They failed and equality won. Anti-LGBTQ+ provisions, including efforts to restrict access to gender affirming care, were rejected. The anti-LGBTQ+ agenda continues to be deeply unpopular across the country and a failing political strategy.”

Wolf thanked U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) for “defending equality and defeating attacks on the community.”

Pledging to vote “no” on the bill, Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) said in a post on X, “I was appointed to the NDAA conference committee but NEVER got to work on the final version of the NDAA bc they made the deal behind closed doors and here are the horrible results.”

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Transgender people seek government job consideration in India’s Maharashtra state

Court petition filed on Nov. 29



Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ancient texts in India have recorded the history and cultural importance of transgender people, but the community is still marginalized and vulnerable in the country. Although the government offers many vulnerable castes a specific number of slots for education and government jobs, trans people still have no such benefit and continue to face discrimination across the nation. 

Three trans people from Maharashtra state on Nov. 29 filed an application to the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal seeking slots for trans people in government jobs and a “third gender” option in online job applications. Two applicants had applied for police officer posts, while the other had applied for a revenue officer post — both of which are government jobs in India.

While hearing the application, the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal, a court that has all the powers of the High Court, said it cannot direct the state government to give slots for trans people in public employment and education. The Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal did say, however, that the state government should take more steps towards inclusivity for the community in mainstream society.

Maharashtra’s government told the tribunal it would not be possible to provide slots to trans people in government jobs or education. 

The Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal in a 26-page order directed the state government to give applicants the necessary points to qualify for the job if the applicant has secured 50 percent of the total marks for the concerned post. The tribunal also directed the government to provide age relaxation to trans applicants if they earned 45 points.

In India, every government job seeker goes through an examination to qualify for the job. Government job examinations are one of the toughest in India because there are millions of applications for a few positions, resulting in the need to secure higher marks to get a position.

More than one million applicants applied for 18,331 police officer positions in 2022. The government, however, provides slots to backward class applicants and gives points relaxation in examinations. Trans people in India are most marginalized and vulnerable with no slots in education or employment.

Retired Justice Mridula Bhatkar, who chairs the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal and member Medha Gadgil in the ruling said the fact that not a single trans person who has come out received a job in the government sector speaks volumes.

“The transgender people are humans and are citizens of our great country who are waiting for their inclusion in the mainstream,” said the tribunal. “We have historical, mythological and cultural instances of eunuchs and their participation in political, social or cultural fields.”

The tribunal also said trans people are in the minority. 

Although the majority forms the government, the majority cannot suppress the rights of marginalized sections of society. The tribunal further added the situation in which the trans community finds itself is worse than what women faced in the past while demanding equality.

The tribunal highlighted the mere acknowledgment of the separate identity of trans people was not enough, but they also need to be given opportunities in government jobs.

“The State of Maharashtra has been very progressive in its thought and culture,” said the tribunal. “Therefore, it is desirable on the part of the government to take necessary measures to enable these transgender applicants to get jobs in the government sector.”

The tribunal mentioned Indian Constitution prohibits any kind of discrimination based on sex under articles 15 and 16.

“To get into public employment is a handicapped race for transgenders,” said the tribunal. “Though they are not physically disabled and are able-bodied persons, their activities, actions, growth are paralyzed due to the negative approach of society, family in all schools, colleges in all places at all levels.”

While representing the petitioners, Kranti LC, a lawyer, said that the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Bihar have provided reservations to trans people. The tribunal, however, noted it understands the state has reached the limit of vertical slot of 62 percent, but ordered the law can reach equality and harmony through social engineering.

“The courts are for justice and cannot ignore any societal problem when placed before it,” said the tribunal. “Under such circumstances, though courts are not the lawmakers while interpreting the law, a legally permissible solution is to be applied to meet the ends of justice.”

According to the Indian Supreme Court’s 1992 Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India ruling, nine judges upheld the 50 percent ceiling on slots and denied slots in promotion in government jobs. This means no government agencies or institutions can give slots more than 50 percent of total job openings. Maharashtra state already crossed the limit.

“It is very unfortunate, because transgender people are one of the most vulnerable people in India, and of the most marginalized population in our country,” said Kalki Subramaniam, a trans rights activist and founder of Sahodari Foundation, an organization that works for trans Indians. “For the horizontal reservation, we need to get the support of our government. We need to sensitize our members of Parliament. I think, all political parties do support (the) transgender community, and do understand the plight of the community and difficulties we face.”

Kalki told the Washington Blade the community needs to work hard. She said the community needs to start campaigning for horizontal slots. She said the community needs to MPs to get the necessary support for it.

While talking to the Blade, Rani Patel, an activist and founder of Aarohan, a nonprofit organization that works with trans Indians, said that it is right that the trans community needs to have reservations in jobs and education so that they can be mainstreamed in the society.

“I have been working with the transgender community for last 11 years in Delhi. We had worked very hard for the scraping of section 377,” said Patel. “All the equality and rights given by the Supreme Court of India is of no use until and unless they are not provided with reservation, because there is a stigma in the society against the transgender people, the community feel rejected and detached from the society.”

Patel told the Blade that only a few trans children are getting an education in the country. She said most of the trans people in India need to be skilled in whichever field for which they have an interest. Patel further said that while getting skills, the government should provide slots to trans people, otherwise giving skills will be of no use.

Patel and Aarohan were instrumental in drafting the Delhi government’s trans bill.

Ankush Kumar is a reporter who has covered many stories for Washington and Los Angeles Blades from Iran, India and Singapore. He recently reported for the Daily Beast. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is on Twitter at @mohitkopinion.

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New bill would protect LGBTQ-owned businesses from lending discrimination

Legislation introduced by Sens. Padilla, Gillibrand and Rep. Torres



U.S. Capitol
U.S. Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A bicameral bill introduced on Wednesday by U.S. Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), along with U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) would require financial institutions to collect data on access to credit and capital by LGBTQ-owned businesses.

The legislation would thereby allow regulators to better identify and potentially remedy instances of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in these areas.

CNBC reported in June that a study by the Movement Advancement Project found LGBTQ-owned businesses encountered more rejections than non-LGBTQ-owned businesses that applied for funding, amid a tightening of lending standards across the board.

Specifically, the bill would “clarify that Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) requires financial institutions to collect the self-identified sexual orientation and gender identity of the principal owners of small businesses, in addition to their sex, race, and ethnicity,” according to a press release by Padilla’s office.

The California senator said, “With anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and hate crimes on the rise, LGBTQ+ business owners continue to face persistent and unjust barriers to financial success,” adding that “LGBTQ+-owned small businesses are a cornerstone of local economies, and they deserve equitable resources to help them grow and thrive.”

Padilla’s press release notes the legislation “would also add a definition for businesses owned by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex individuals to the ECOA statute.”

Additionally, “The legislation also includes a Sense of Congress confirming that sexual orientation and gender identity are already covered under the ECOA (including the current data collection requirements)” while clarifying “that the sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity of the principal owners of a business should be collected as three separate forms of information.”

The Congressional Equality Caucus, Ali Forney Center, Center for American Progress, Destination Tomorrow, Drag Out The Vote, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality Action Fund, InterAct, and New Pride Agenda have backed the bill.

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