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Another LGBT rights group to shut down

AFER backs efforts to pass federal anti-LGBT discrimination bill



American Foundation for Equal Rights, AFER, Adam Umhoefer, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, gay news, Washington Blade

AFER’s Adam Umhoefer urged supporters to back HRC’s effort at passing a federal non-discrimination bill. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

LOS ANGELES — The American Foundation for Equal Rights on Aug. 3 announced it will shut down in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples throughout the country.

AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer noted to supporters in an email that his organization “returned marriage equality to California” in 2013 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s Proposition 8. AFER also represented two same-sex couples in Virginia who successfully challenged the commonwealth’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

“We saw Americans nationwide stand up to support equal marriage,” wrote Umhoefer.

Freedom to Marry also plans to close in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Obergefell case. Decreased funding after Maryland voters upheld their state’s same-sex marriage law and a transgender rights statute took effect has forced Equality Maryland to curtail operations.

Umhoefer in his email urged AFER supporters to support the Human Rights Campaign and its efforts in support of a federal anti-LGBT discrimination bill.

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  1. Readen Reply

    August 6, 2015 at 8:39 am

    HRC should have closed and let AFER take the reigns.

    • lnm3921

      August 8, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Leadership and the goals set by it may really be the problem not the name of the organization. Why do we need so many different organizations competing for scarce funds? We should pool our resources.
      We have un-elected self-proclaimed leaders of our community setting the agenda for our struggles. The community as a whole hasn’t much of a forum for setting strategy or priorities. Yet these organizations will take your money and likely the larger contributors drive the vision.

      Sometimes GLBT people are their own worst enemies in getting anything achieved often with all or nothing strategies or constant disagreements on pending legislation, preferring to derail it if the bill doesn’t cover everything in one swoop! Sometimes progress takes steps not leaps!

      ENDA is a perfect example. First we derailed it over trans people not being included then we derailed it for it having too many religious exemptions.

      • Jenna Fischetti

        August 16, 2015 at 9:43 am

        “Sometimes GLBT people are their own worst enemies”
        “ENDA is a perfect example. First we derailed it over trans people not being included”

        So are we a GLBT community or just a G and an L and a B and a T community all hanging around together?

        The oppression each of those community members face comes from the same bias, the bias against non conformity to the gender binary model. Possessing and expressing one’s romantic and sexual attraction to someone of the same gender and/or sex is nonconformity to the binary gender model. Possessing and expressing one’s gender in a manner inconsistent to their sex assigned at birth is nonconformity to the binary gender model.

        That is the taproot. Any other delineation is secondary ( i.e. one is about sexual orientation and the other is about how one identifies) and as such inconsequential.

        So, if ENDA was derailed over trans inclusion. Good.

        At some point we will strike all notions that sexual orientation is a perceivable thing, because it isn’t, and that what others are perceiving is in fact, nonconformity to the binary gender model. THIS is the pathway the EEOC is pursuing to protect transgender, bisexual, gays and lesbians under Title VII of the CRA 1964 and Macy v. Holder opened that door.

        The recently introduced Equality Act seeks to continue the delineation in contrast to EEOC’s broad scope approach.

        • lnm3921

          August 16, 2015 at 2:17 pm

          All or nothing strategies often leave people with NOTHING. There is nothing good about that. Sometimes we have to settle for getting the most we can get then progressively improve upon that. Saying that ENDA failing because it didn’t include transgender people is good is just selfish, shortsighted and spiteful. If all we could get at the time was an ENDA with GLB then that would have helped most of the community and opened the door to expanding that to transgender people.

          Transgender awareness has come a long way since the days that ENDA was derailed for not including them. But still has a huge way to go. There is a lot of homophobia out there but there seems to be even greater transphobia. That’s just reality.

          • Jenna Fischetti

            August 16, 2015 at 4:30 pm

            So none of that responses to my question “So are we a GLBT community or just a G and an L and a B and a T community all hanging around together?”

            It’s okay if you do not wish to answer it. Just say, “I don’t want to answer that” and move on. I believe we have a fairly solid image of your perspective. There is no need to rearticulate that.

          • lnm3921

            August 16, 2015 at 5:43 pm

            Being a community doesn’t mean you’d rather see your G, B, & L members get nothing unless the T gets something. If the T were to get something that GLB isn’t getting would you say, yes, let’s derail it because the rest of the community isn’t getting anything out of it even if it’s something you’ve been waiting for a long time and could have now?

            You can’t always get everything you want exactly the way you want it. I’d rather get something than have to wait decades to get it all. Some of us won’t be around any longer waiting endlessly.

            What do African Americans get from supporting marriage equality or illegal immigrants getting amnesty? Nothing personally. Just the betterment of their fellow minorities. Yet many will say what’s in it for me. If nothing, then I can’t or won’t support it!

            Why can’t you just admit you’re selfish and think of yourself first before anyone else? That’s not a community action. That’s following self-interest and screw all others if I don’t get what I want!

  2. metta8

    August 6, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    We are not done yet! We need a new and improved ENDA!

    • lnm3921

      August 8, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      We are never really done. Even if we get an improved ENDA into law. What is given can be watered down or taken away when people take their grants for granted. The price of liberty is constant vigilance.

      Despite African Americans having more rights under the law than GLBT, they did not disband groups like the NAACP. We see how the Voting Rights Act has been diluted in traditionally racist states under the notion that it’s no longer needed anymore. That’s what social conservatives will strive for.

      We still have the threat of religious liberty laws trying to undermine our gain under the law. Just like conservatives continue to find innovative ways to bypass Roe v. Wade despite that being decided back in 1973, social conservatives will pursue similar tactics for marriage equality and all GLBT rights under the law!

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NCAA adopts new policy amid fervor over transgender athletes

Sport-by-sport approach requires certain levels of testosterone



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.”

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Transgender rights group’s Los Angeles office receives bomb threat

[email protected] Coalition evacuated



(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.

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Jim Obergefell announces bid for seat in Ohio state legislature

Marriage plaintiff moves on to new endeavor



First Amendment Defense Act, gay news, Washington Blade
Jim Obergefell has announced he'd seek a seat in the Ohio state legislature.

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the litigation that ensured same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide, announced on Tuesday he’d pursue a new endeavor and run for a seat in the state legislature in his home state of Ohio.

“You deserve a representative who does the right thing, no matter what. You deserve a representative who fights to make things better for everyone,” Obergefell said. “I’ve been part of a national civil rights case that made life better for millions of Americans. Simply put, I fight for what’s right and just.”

Obergefell, who claims residency in Sandusky, Ohio, is seeking a seat to represent 89th Ohio District, which comprises Erie and Ottawa Counties. A key portion of his announcement was devoted to vowing to protect the Great Lakes adjacent to Ohio.

“We need to invest in our Great Lake, protect our Great Lake, and make the nation envious that Ohio has smartly invested in one of the greatest freshwater assets in the world,” Obergefell said.

Obergefell was the named plaintiff in the consolidated litigation of plaintiffs seeking marriage rights that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in 2015 for same-sex marriage nationwide. Obergefell was widower to John Arthur, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and was seeking the right to be recognized as his spouse on his death certificate. The ruling in the consolidated cases ensured same-sex couples would enjoy the full benefits and responsibilities of marriage.

“We should all be able to participate fully in society and the economy, living in strong communities with great public schools, access to quality healthcare, and with well-paying jobs that allow us to stay in the community we love, with the family we care about,” Obergefell said in a statement on his candidacy.

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