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California Judges Barred From Joining Boy Scouts Due To Discriminatory Ban on Gay Leaders

State judges in California can no longer be members of the Boy Scouts beginning next year — at least until the Scouts lift a ban on gay adult leaders. 

The California Supreme Court voted unanimously this week to eliminate an exception for youth nonprofits to a rule that prohibits judges from belonging to groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation. 

The San Francisco Chronicle reports: 

Scouts“The people of California have a right to an impartial and unbiased judiciary,” Richard Fybel, a state appeals court justice in Santa Ana and chairman of the high court’s ethics advisory committee, said Friday. “This is important to accomplishing that.” ... 

In a statement that responded to the committee’s proposal last year, Deron Smith, a spokesman at Boy Scouts headquarters in Irving, Texas, said the Scouts “would be disappointed with anything that limits our volunteers’ ability to serve more youth. ... Today, more than ever, youth need the character and leadership programs of Scouting.”

The proposal had drawn a mixed response from judges. In written comments to the court, one opponent said the prohibition would elevate “gay rights above religious freedom rights,” and another said it would interfere with judges’ rights to raise their children as they choose.

California judges have been barred from membership in groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation since 1996 — with the exception of youth nonprofits. In 2003, the state's high court amended the rule to say judges who are members of the Boy Scouts must disclose their affiliation in gay-rights cases and recuse themselves if there's a conflict of interest. 

Last year, the ethics advisory committee recommended eliminating the exception altogether, and the proposal was backed by the California Judges Association, which represents three-quarters of the state's judges.

The Chronicle notes that judges can still be members of religious groups that discriminate, but not groups that discriminate based on religion. The Boy Scouts is not considered a religious group but does discriminate based on religion — barring atheists in addition to gays.

In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America voted to lift a ban on gay youth but continue to bar gay adult leaders. The organization recently reported that membership dropped 7.4 percent in 2014 in the wake of the decision.  


NCLR Hosting #BornPerfect Twitter Town Hall On Conversion Therapy

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Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 4.44.43 PMThe National Center for Lesbian Rights said it's hosting a Twitter town hall today at 6:30 p.m. ET to discuss the dangers of conversion therapy, the efforts to stop these practices once and for all and what the community can do in a release issued to the public. The town hall comes days after the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn, who took her life after facing years of rejection and enduring the harmful effects of conversion therapy. Twitters users can submit their questions using the hashtag #BornPerfect.

Town hall panelists include NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, conversion therapy survivor and marriage and family therapist James Guay, Rev. Dr. Justin Tanis of the the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and co-author of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, NCLR Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Samantha Ames and Maris Ehlers-sister of Kirk Murphy who took his life at the age of 38 in 2003 after undergoing conversion therapy as a child.

NCLR launched the #BornPerfect campaign in June 2014, an initiative geared toward eliminating the practice of so-called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy through increased public awareness and the passage of laws across the country to protect LGBT kids from the serious harm caused by these practices. Recently NCLR helped pass legislation in California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia to ban the dangerous practice of conversion therapy. In November 2014, members of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) questioned U.S. Department of State representatives asking why the use of conversion therapy is still considered a valid practice despite reputable medical organizations condemning the practice.


Barbara Boxer Retiring from the Senate in 2016 - VIDEO

Boxer

After four terms as California's junior senator, Barbara Boxer has announced she will not seek re-election in 2016, NPR reports:

"I will not be running for the Senate in 2016," she said in a taped interview with her grandson Zach Rodham.

Boxer, 74, said neither age nor partisanship in Congress were factors in her decision.

Boxer, the junior senator from California, was first elected to the Senate in 1992. She served in the House for a decade before that. She was a strong supporter of environmental protections, abortion rights and gun control.

Boxer, a liberal, was a favorite to retain her seat had she run. She said she would work to ensure her Senate seat would remain with Democrats.

Boxer says she will continue working on progressive issues through her political action committee, PAC for a Change, in California. She has been a longtime champion of LGBT equality.

The news came unexpectedly to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who first heard about it at a press conference earlier today when a reporter caught Pelosi off guard by asking her thoughts on Boxer's retirement.

Watch Pelosi's startled reaction and Boxer's announcement, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Barbara Boxer Retiring from the Senate in 2016 - VIDEO" »


California Gov. Jerry Brown Appoints Openly Gay Lawyer To Head Department of Fair Employment and Housing

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California Governor Jerry Brown has appointed Kevin Kish, an openly gay law professor at Loyola Law School, to head California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Before his appointment Kish served as the director of the Employment Rights Project at Bet Tzedek, an LA-based public interest law firm specializing in advocacy for low-income individuals and immigrants.

Kish’s appointment represents a strategic move for the Department at a time when it’s facing allegations of unfair hiring and promotion practices.

The State Personnel Board responsible for enforcing the Department’s merit-based system of advancement expressed “serious concerns that civil service laws and rules pertaining to the selection of qualified candidates are being willfully ignored or disregarded by DFEH’s personnel and management staff.”

The Board’s comments came after an the DFEH was found to have twice promoted an employee into jobs that she was underqualified for. While the employee in question found that she acted in good faith, the Board’s findings were cause for a higher degree of critical scrutiny into the Department. Not only did DFEH officials know that she was unfit for the job, but they were also found to have let internal investigations languish.


LAPD Arrests 1 of 3 Suspects in Execution-Style Slaying of Transgender Woman: VIDEO

Parker

Los Angeles police have characterized transgender woman Aniya Knee Parker's murder as a street robbery gone bad. 

But LGBT advocates believe Parker's execution-style slaying in East Hollywood in October was a hate crime. 

We may soon find out which theory is correct, after the LAPD announced the arrest of one of three suspects in Parker's murder on Monday.

Screen shot 2014-12-30 at 4.30Parker (above), 47, was fatally shot at about 3 a.m. on Oct. 2 near Melrose and Kenmore avenues, as she tried to flee from three men who'd attempted to steal her purse. The shooting was captured on surveillance video (right). 

The suspect arrested Monday is a juvenile, and police aren't releasing his name or additional information. According to a previous report from KTLA-TV, police believed all three suspects were Latino males ages 20 to 35.  

Parker is one of three transgender woman murdered in Southern California this year, according to Fox 11

Transgender immigration activist Zoraida Reyes, 29, was strangled June 11 and her body was dumped the following day near a Dairy Queen in Anaheim. A 38-year-old Anaheim man has been charged in the killing.

Another transgender woman was found dead on the front porch of a residence in the 6100 block of South Wilton Place on Oct. 1. She had been robbed and then shot -- and LAPD detective Chris Barling said his investigators believed the killing may have been a hate crime. 

After Parker's murder, officials offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the suspects, but police aren't saying whether a tip led to the arrest. 

In announcing the reward, police said they believed the incident began as a random robbery, but LGBT advocates aren't so sure. Among other things, they've pointed to the fact that even after Parker had been shot, the suspects didn't take her purse. From CBSLA.com

The manager of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s antiviolence project said it’s “very possible” Parker was targeted because she was a transgender woman.

“None of us want to live in a city or in a world where we targeted just for who we are,” said Christopher Argyros of the LGBT Center.

Parker's family was able to raise enough money through a GoFundMe campaign to fly her body back to her native Arkansas. 

Watch Fox 11's report report on the arrest, AFTER THE JUMP... 

Continue reading "LAPD Arrests 1 of 3 Suspects in Execution-Style Slaying of Transgender Woman: VIDEO" »


California Health Officials Issue Alert After Adult Film Actor Tests HIV-Positive

Cdph-logo-square1The Department of Public Health in California has issued an alert following an adult film actor testing positive for HIV after having unprotected sex with "several other males" on a film shoot in Nevada. According to public health officials, the actor tested negative before the shoot.

CBS News reports:

“During the second film shoot, he had symptoms of a viral infection,” the alert states. “The actor went to a clinic and had another blood test that showed he had recently become infected with HIV.”

One actor from the second shoot has since tested positive for HIV. According to the health department, lab results indicate the first actor who tested positive “probably transmitted” HIV to the second.

A health department official was unable to immediately release further details regarding the lab testing and investigation. The alert notes that very early in an HIV infection, the test can be negative “even though the actor really does have HIV.”

“In this case, the actor and production company thought he was HIV-negative during filming,” the alert states. “Shortly after his negative test, HIV levels in his body rose rapidly to where he could infect other actors through unprotected sex.

President of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Michael Weinstein commented, “It’s happened before, it’s happened now, and it will happen in the future. The big lie the industry has been saying all these years, there are no on-set transmissions, has been proven to be untrue.” Weinstein has also been an outspoken critic of PrEP, labeling it a "party drug."

AHF and Weinstein championed a law approved by Los Angeles voters that mandates all adult film performers in L.A. County wear condoms when working in adult films. As a result of that ordinance, passed in 2012, adult film production in L.A. County dropped by nearly 90%. Back in August, the California Senate Committee on Appropriations voted down a bill that would have extended those requirements to adult film workers throughout the state.

 


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