A sweeping new anti-trafficking law in Kansas is being criticized by some state lawmakers for what is seen as the problematic inclusion of sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination statutes.
Darcie Smith, Kansas Department of Health and Environment director for child placing and residential programming appeared before a joint committee at the state capitol on Tuesday to answer concerns regarding the law’s regulations and implementation. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports:
After rattling off a series of nondiscrimination categories for admission to the secure facilities that included gender and race, Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson (pictured right), asked Smith why sexual orientation was also included.
“I wasn’t sure what your origin was on listing sexual preference," Pauls said. "Gender covers a lot of the sexual discrimination, potentially. I just wasn’t sure why the sexual preference was added.”
Smith said it was a safeguard to ensure homosexual victims get helped.
In a bit of illogical mental gymnastics, Pauls said that while she didn’t believe any LGBT human trafficking victims would be denied access to a safe house on that basis, she claimed that including it in the legal nondiscrimination regulations could pose problems for religious institutions providing help that oppose homosexual activity.
Pauls, a lawyer, noted that state statutes don’t include sexual orientation among attributes for which Kansans are protected from discrimination.
“Once you use the term 'discrimination' we usually follow our statutes,” Pauls said.
Pauls and other state representatives proposed that the language regarding “sexual preference” should be removed from the nondiscrimination provisions. Rep. Mark Kahrs said he concurred with Pauls' recommendation and suggested that KDHE add "ancestry" in place of sexual preference.
State lawmakers on the other side of the issue, however, expressed concern that removing “sexual preference” from the statutes would leave LGBT human trafficking victims vulnerable and excluded from guarantees of basic services.
...Sen. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan, said during a break in the hearing he thought the department was smart to include sexual orientation because human trafficking often relates directly to sexual activity and some of the victims will be homosexuals.
"If you want to help people who are involved in human trafficking, you don't want to leave out that five percent or 10 percent," Hawk said.
The Huffington Post reports that Pauls has a long history as a rabidly anti-gay lawmaker. She authored the state's ban on gay marriage that was approved by voters in 2005. In 2011, Pauls was the leader of an effort to keep the state's sodomy ban on the books and pushed to not expand the state's civil rights laws to include sexual orientation.
Senators voted in favor of the Life Partner Agreement (AVP) late Tuesday evening with 28 votes in favor, six against and two abstentions. The bill will now pass to a constitutional assembly before returning to Congress on Jan. 20.
The country’s leading LGBTQ organization hailed the outcome as significant step toward passing a law which “the majority of the country” wants.
“We are happy for this significant progress towards bettering conditions and equality for all families, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identification of its members,” a Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh) statement read. “Today we have made one more step in the struggle for civil unions, which we began a decade ago. What was a dream is now becoming real.”
The bill had languished in legislative waters for two years due to right-wing opposition, as well as other concerns that the bill could eventually lead to gay marriage. Incoming President-elect Michelle Bachelet (below right) ran on a platform which promised to send a same-sex marriage bill to Congress following an “open debate” on the issue.
“When Michelle Bachelet was last president [2006-2010] she promised three things regarding sexual equality, none of which her administration delivered,” he said. “As such, we cannot have complete confidence that she is going to deliver what she promises this time around.”
It remains to be seen if the bill will become law before President Sebastián Piñera leaves office in March.
Eastside Catholic High School outside of Seattle, which made headlines in December after firing its gay vice principal Mark Zmuda, an action taken after Zmuda married his husband. Zmuda said that the school gave him a choice: he could keep his job if he dissolved his marriage.
There have been several developments since late December. Students are still protesting Zmuda's firing and are planning 'Z Day', a day of protest on January 31 in which they will wear orange in support of the fired vice principal and are asking supporters to do the same on social media.
Also, a board chair involved in the dismissal of Zmuda has resigned, citing a need to "take a break", and Stephanie Merrow, a night freelance drama coach at the school, announced that she was engaged to her girlfriend in a public show of support for Zmuda.
The situation with Merrow developed Monday, as she expressed a need to stand in solidarity with students protesting Zmuda's removal.
“I got several really good, long hugs,” Stephanie Merrow said.
She returned to Eastside Catholic High School on Tuesday afternoon where she is a freelance drama coach currently choreographing “Guys and Dolls”.
After watching news coverage of student protests after the termination of Mark Zmuda, she wasn’t sure what to expect.
Watch KING5's report on current conditions at the school, and the students' protest announcement video, AFTER THE JUMP...
Have you ever wanted to know when it may or may not be appropriate to deploy the word "hunty?" Have you had a hard time determining what "throwing shade" might mean? Do you generally feel out of the loop when it comes to gay slang tossed around on "Rupaul's Drag Race," in bars, and elsewhere within the LGBT community? Look no further, because Eliot Glazer, the wisecracking gay comedian, has come to your rescue. His new video, the "Reluctant Gay Dude's Guide to Modern Vernacular" may not be entirely accurate, but it will definitely make you laugh.
Check out Glazer's expert definitions, AFTER THE JUMP...
Warning: language may be inappropriate for certain work/home environments.
It has been a long road, but Armistead Maupin's classic Tales of the City is coming to an end on January 21st with the publication of the ninth and final book in the series. Titled The Days of Anna Madrigal, the new book ends a literary tradition begun in 1978 as a newspaper serial. Fans of Maupin's work, like blogger Cory Doctorow, are lamenting the conclusion of the beloved Tales, but are also looking forward to reading this final book.
Doctorow, writing for Boing Boing, reports:
I grew up on the Tales books, and when I moved to San Francisco, I was delighted to see so many of the places and scenes from the novels playing out in real life (as I mentioned in my recent review of The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, Maupin's books chronicle an age of personal and political activism that seems unimaginably far behind us today).
The serial format served Maupin well, making for a story that's so compulsively readable by dint of the need to finish each thousand words with a cliff-hanger -- shades of Dickens -- that it's nearly impossible to stop reading them. Each subplot is firmly grounded in its moment, through topical references and subplots revolving around everything from Jonestown to AIDS, that re-reading them is something like inhaling a stack of Doonesbury treasuries.
It's been too long since Maupin gave us another glimpse at Anna and Michael and the rest of the people in the orbit of 28 Barbary Lane. I can't wait to read it (and I dread being finished with it).
The Days of Anna Madrigal will reportedly follow the title character, a 92-year-old, trans woman, as she travels to Burning Man.
What are your favorite Tales of the City memories and moments? Share in the comments below!
On November 24, 2013, openly gay Yale University english professor Samuel See died. Now, a report released by medical examiners has revealed that the cause of death was a drug overdose. Joe.My.God. posted the report which details not only See's death but the rather mysterious events surrounding it.
See died of acute methamphetamine and amphetamine intoxication with recent myocardial infarction. His death was ruled an accident. See was found unresponsive in a detention cell at 6 a.m. on Nov. 24. Court marshals performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until medics arrived. See, who was alone in his cell, was pronounced dead at 6:15 a.m. See, an assistant professor of English and American studies, was on leave this semester. New Haven police are investigating the circumstances of See's death. New Haven police responded to a domestic dispute at See's home the evening of Nov. 23. Sunder Ganglani, 32, who identified himself as See's husband, was at the home in violation of a protective order, police said.