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Michigan Civil Rights Commission Endorses Model Local LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 1.29.36 PMThe Michigan Civil Rights Commission endorsed a model local non-discrimination ordinance that covers sexual orientation and gender identity at a meeting held at the Holocaust Memorial Center on Monday reports the Daily Reporter. The ordinance states that no one should be denied "civil rights or be discriminated against," on the basis of gender expression, identity and sexual orientation. The model also bars bias based on education, age, disability, race, sex, religion, weight, national origin, marriage or family status. Commission Chairman Arthur Horwitz stated that the ordinance is designed to provide a more cohesive anti-discrimination view for over 30 Michigan municipalities.

Said Horwitz:

"The concept of developing a model non-discrimination ordinance grew from the fact that more than 30 Michigan municipalities have non-discrimination ordinances that vary significantly in their structure, wording and scope... developed model language that municipalities could access if, in their own discretion, they decided they wanted a starting point for their own discussions and deliberations."

In a January appearance before the commission, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder expressed hope that the GOP-controlled Michigan legislature would continue discussing a bill to add protections for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people to the state civil rights law. However, House Speaker Kevin Cotter, a Midland Republican and American Family Association of Michigan leader, believes the measure is unnecessary saying that gay and gender identity laws are a "solution in search of a nonexistent problem," and that they "have a history of themselves being discriminatory" in forcing people to choose between their morals or religious beliefs.


Josef Salvat Is A Bisexual 'Hustler' Playing A Dangerous Game With Love: WATCH

Jose

In the entrancing music video for singer-songwriter Josef Salvat's single "Hustler," the Australian-born but London-based artist takes his viewers down a dark road as he searches for love.

The video, directed by Casper Balslev, is as eerie as it is opulent. Salvat's journey begins, as many a hero's journey does, with advice from a wise old man who declares, "The world is shit without love; you need love in this world." It is this declaration which sets the action of the video into motion. As Salvat searches for love, he is tempted by both male and female flesh, finding each as alluring and intoxicating as the other. That the male object of his desire bears an uncanny resemblance to Salvat only serves to further underscore the allegorical and mythic tone of the world in which Salvat lays his scene.

Watch the video for yourself, AFTER THE JUMP...

Bi

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Steven Universe Continues To Be One of the Most Queer-Positive Cartoons On TV - WATCH

 

“Steven Universe” is a television show currently airing on Cartoon Network about a young boy Steven, his father, and his three alien humanoid guardians known as the Crystal Gems. On its surface “Steven Universe” continues in Cartoon Network’s long history of vibrant, whimsical children’s shows. Beneath that, though, “Steven Universe” has been doing some of the most interesting work towards including positive themes of gender and sexual queerness in current television.

Over the show’s two seasons its writers have repeatedly used the Gems ability to fuse with one another to explore the intricacies of physical and emotional identities. In a lighthearted episode entitled “Alone Together” Steven, who is half Gem, accidentally fuses with his female friend Connie and becomes a physically androgynous being whose sole focus is to find a banging dance party. Though Stevonnie presents physically as being predominantly female, the character’s gender is left undefined and Stevonnie the person is uniformly admired by everyone that they meet.

 

During this season’s past few story arcs “Steven Universe” has hammered home its usually subtle messages about accepting love in all forms in much more explicit ways. In this week season finale’s “Jail Break” we learn that Garnet, voiced flawlessly by Estelle, is actually a near permanent fusion of two separate Gems with a deep romantic love for one another. The significance of the plot twist may seem minor, but as Mey Valdivia Rude writes for Autostraddle messages like Garnet’s can be powerful for young audiences:

Steven“Representation is vitally important for children. Study after study and expert after expert says that when kids see people like them positively portrayed in the media they consume, they are positively impacted, and when they don’t see that same representation, it negatively affects not only them, but how others view and treat people like them.

Especially when we’re still developing, and especially when we are still discovering and exploring our genders and sexuality, it’s important for us to know that we’re not alone and that we have the possibility of a bright future. One way to do this is by creating fictional characters and narratives that show that bright future for people like that.”

Check out a clip of Garnet’s origin story here AFTER THE JUMP...

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Conway, Arkansas Approves LGBT Rights Ordinance Despite Discriminatory New State Law

Arkansas

Following a 6-2 vote Tuesday by the city council, city employees of Conway, Arkansas can (for the time being) go to work with the assurance that they can’t be fired for their sexuality or gender identity. Conway mayor Tab Townsell threw his full support behind the decision to extend protections to the town’s LGBT population despite many of his more conservative constituents voicing concern for their religious liberties.

Mark Ledbetter and Mary Smith, the two council members who opposed the new protections, expressed their belief that the public had not been given adequate time to fully appreciate the implications of heightened job security for Conway’s queer workforce.

Conway’s move to legally protect its LGBT employees comes just days after Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson allowed SB 202 to become law - legislation that expressly forbids local town governments from enacting pro-LGBT policies like Conway’s. Specifically SB 202 requires that:

“A county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state shall not adopt or enforce an ordinance, resolution, rule, or policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.”

The law is set to go into effect 90 days after the state Legislature formally adjourns, which is currently set for May. After that, Conway's ordinance will no longer protect LGBT folks. 

One of the chief concerns raised by opponents of SB 202 was the chilling effect that sanctioning discrimination against queer workers might have on the local economy. Following Hutchinson’s decision representatives from Tyson Foods and Walmart both spoke out on behalf of their companies, expressing their disagreement with the law.

Outcry from large LGBT advocacy organizations like the HRC were conspicuously missing immediately after SB 202 went into effect, prompting Michael Signorile to claim social “malpractice.” Not seizing upon any and all opportunities to draw attention to these kinds of injustices, Signorile reasoned, was irresponsible and linked to a broader sense of gay complacency:

“And it's part of the right's plan to roll back LGBT rights while many LGBT people become complacent or apathetic, buying into this idea that full civil rights are inevitable, pointing, for example, to polling about young people being more accepting, and, well, doing pretty much what many women foolishly did in the early years of the backlash against women's liberation.”

HRC President Chad Griffin soon issued an official statement after widespread criticism for his organization's silence on the developments in Arkansas:

"I’m proud to call Arkansas my home state—the place where my entire extended family has lived for years. I know these bills do not reflect the Arkansas values.

They certainly do not reflect this state’s commitment to growing a 21st Century economy that attracts good paying jobs—and to guaranteeing a business climate that welcomes everyone who is willing to work hard and build a better future for themselves and for their community. These kinds of political attacks have been rejected by Republicans and Democrats all across this country. Let’s not let Arkansas be dragged backward by an unrepresentative minority."


WATCH: Kate Brown Sworn in as the Nation's First Openly Bisexual Governor

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 5.55.06 AM

The state of Oregon inaugurated the nation's first openly bisexual governor yesterday when former Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown was sworn in. Gov. Brown replaces former Gov. John Kitzhaber who resigned in disgrace amid an influence peddling investigation that includes his fiancée Cylvia Hayes. Brown addressed the issue in her inauguration speech:

"Governor Kitzhaber dedicated most of his life to serving the people of Oregon. His contributions to our state are well woven into the fabric of our public life. But now, we must restore the public's trust. 

"It's been a tough few months. The people of Oregon have had reason to question their trust in state government. Oregon has been in the national news for all the wrong reasons. That changes starting today. It's time for use to get back to work. It's time to move Oregon forward."

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 6.01.45 AMBrown, 54, cited her husband, Dan Little (right), as her "rock," at her inauguration. News accounts have long said Brown is married but considers herself bisexual, without saying more. Brown married Little in 1997 and both live in Southeast Portland. They have two adult children from Little’s previous marriage.

Watch Gov. Brown’s inauguration speech, AFTER THE JUMP

The nation (briefly) had its first openly gay governor back in 2004 with New Jersey's Jim McGreevey. McGreevey resigned three months after making the announcement following a sex scandal. 

 

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One State May Be About to Get the Nation's First Openly Bisexual Governor

Kate Brown Oregon secretary of state

In the discussions of LGBT issues, the "B" has a tendency to be overlooked. For whatever reason - bisexuals can be accused of "hiding"; bisexuals don't really exist; bisexuals fade into nothingness if they don't have sex with a person of each gender every day - bisexual visibility is a problem.

KitzhaberKate Brown, the secretary of state of Oregon, stands to give the bisexual community a major bump in visibility. Gov. John Kitzhaber (right) is presently embroiled in a scandal that has him under investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice and the FBI. The governor's future is uncertain, but if he steps down, then Brown would rise to the role of governor to take his place Brown is an openly bisexual woman, and if she were to assume the role of governor, she would be the first in the nation.

It will all hinge on how the scandal with the current governor falls out, however, as Kithaber's lawyer is adamant that the governor will remain in office.


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