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Oregon House Of Representatives Passes Measure Outlawing Conversion Therapy

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The Oregon House voted on Tuesday to outlaw the dangerous practice of conversion therapy, with several lawmakers arguing the practice is heavily discredited and can cause irreparable emotional and mental damage reports The passage of HB 2307 makes it illegal for social workers or licensed mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists or psychologists, to practice conversion therapy on children under the age of 18 in the state of Oregon. The bill even received support from Rep. Knute Buehler, a Bend Republican.

Said Buehler:  

"Conversion therapy itself can cause incredible emotional and mental trauma to people, particularly young people in the process of coming to terms with their sexual identities."

The measure passed 41-18 and now heads to the Senate. New Jersey and California recently passed laws banning the dangerous therapy with Federal appeals courts upholding the bans. However, others such as Rep. Duane Stark, a Republican from Grants Pass who voted against the bill, felt there should be an opt-in option for the treatment should youth choose to pursue the treatment on their own volition.

Said Stark: 

"It's a normal, common practice that when people come in they can request from their therapist what sort of therapy they want to receive. I felt like there should be some sort of opt-in option for youth and empower them in that client-centered therapy."

However, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have both condemned the dangerous therapy, with proponents of the bill saying the therapy leads to anxiety, depression and destructive behaviors in children. 

Barney Frank on How LGBT People 'Beat the Prejudice' and Changed Hearts By Coming Out: VIDEO

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Former Democratic Rep. Barney Frank appeared on Sunday's episode of Meet The Press and gave his viewpoint on changing attitudes toward LGBT people and Congress. Rep. Frank reasoned that the increasing visibility of LGBT people in everyday culture is because of LGBT people's refusal to stay in the closet, which is helping erase stereotypes and change perceptions.

As for Americans' views on Congress, Rep. Frank told host Chuck Todd that the anger directed toward Congress stems from peoples’ shattered beliefs in a system they truly believed to work.

Watch Rep. Frank elaborate on the two topics, along with how his fellow representatives reacted to his marriage to husband James Ready, AFTER THE JUMP

Continue reading "Barney Frank on How LGBT People 'Beat the Prejudice' and Changed Hearts By Coming Out: VIDEO" »

Texas Democrats Deliver Gay Wedding Cakes To Bigoted Lawmakers Who Pulled Cake-Cutting Stunt


Last month, anti-gay bigots in the Texas Legislature celebrated the 10th anniversary of the state's marriage amendment by slicing a symbolic wedding cake during "Texas Faith and Family Day" at the Capitol. 

The Austin-American Statesman reported: 

Cake[Lt. Gov. Dan] Patrick’s speech was followed by the cutting of two symbolic wedding cakes to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of a Texas constitutional amendment that limited marriage to opposite-sex couples.

State Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, was called forward to slice into one of the cakes in recognition of his House Bill 623, which would withhold the pay of county clerks and government employees who issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

“My family’s been in Texas since 1852,” Bell said after the forum. “What has always been normal for us, we’re suddenly being told it’s not normal, that those things that are our traditional values, somehow they are wrong.”

On Wednesday, the Texas Democratic Party responded by delivering gay wedding cakes — accompanied by cards saying "LOVE IS LOVE" — to the offices of several of the legislators who participated in the cake-cutting stunt. From a fundraising page for the event, "Send a slice of love"

Cake2We’ve identified each of the people cutting into this offensive cake -- Rep. Stuart Spitzer, Rep. Mark Keough, Rep. Molly White, Rep. Scott Turner, Sen. Charles Perry, Rep. Cecil Bell, Sen. Brian Birdwell, and, of course, Sen. Donna Campbell.

We want to send these officials a clear message that Texans stand up for the freedom and the right to marry who you love. So we’re going to send several of the people in this picture a slice of love -- cakes that show that, in Texas, love is love. 

No matter how low Texas Republicans get when showcasing their disrespect for basic civil rights like the freedom to marry, we will never stop pushing back.

These cakes are a fun way to show your support for marriage equality in Texas and send a powerful message to Texas Republicans that Texans deserve the freedom to marry who they love.

No word on whether the Texas Department of Public Safety will now issue a warning about gay wedding cakes.

In any case, the next symbolic showdown in the battle over same-sex marriage in Texas comes March 23, when Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore visits the Capitol on the same day as Equality Texas' Family Advocacy Day

Stay tuned. 

Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Loses 53 Members Over New $400 Due Requirement


Equality has a price, and evidently that price needs to be less than $400 as the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus lost members when they asked for dues in that amount for the first time ever. Last year's membership was 114. This year the Caucus sent out invitations to everyone to join, regardless of political affiliation, and 53 congressmen who were members in years prior have failed to sign up this year. Gallingly, some who failed to renew their membership still list themselves as members on their public-facing webpages, such as Seattle's Jim McDermott or New York's Carolyn Maloney, though a spokesperson for Maloney's office alleges that she has renewed her membership.

For a bit of perspective, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus - founded in '08 by Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank - has one of the lowest dues of standard congressional caucuses. The Progressive Caucus charges $2000, and the Energy and Environment Coalition charges between $850-$2000. What's more is that it doesn't matter that the average congressional annual salary is over $172k because dues payments come from each office's official reimbursement account.

BuzzFeed pulled together the full list of congress members who did not re-up their Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus membership, which is as follows:

Earl Blumenauer, Michael Doyle, Alcee L. Hastings, Beto O’Rourke, Charles Rangel,Eric Swalwell, Karen Bass, Xavier Becerra, Suzanne Bonamici, Robert Brady, Michael Capuano, Tony Cárdenas, André Carson, Matt Cartwright, Kathy Castor, Joaquin Castro, Yvette Clarke, Gerald Connolly, John Conyers, Joe Courtney, Peter DeFazio,Keith Ellison, Eliot Engel, Anna Eshoo, Tulsi Gabbard, Janice Hahn, Brian Higgins,Steve Israel, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Henry “Hank” Johnson Jr., Joseph Kennedy III,David Loebsack, Zoe Lofgren, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Stephen Lynch, Carolyn Maloney, Doris Matsui, Betty McCollum, Jim McDermott, Gwen Moore, Patrick Murphy, Bill Pascrell, Chellie Pingree, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Raul Ruiz, Linda Sánchez, John Sarbanes, Louise McIntosh Slaughter, Adam Smith, Paul Tonko, and Juan Vargas.

It should be noted that though these congress members cover a wide swath of states from California to Texas to New York, every single one of them is a Democrat.

LGBT Members Of Congress Object To Trade Agreement With Anti-Gay Brunei And Malaysia


Five out gay members of Congress have written to President Obama to ask why Malaysia and Brunei - two countries with severe anti-gay laws - have been included in a free trade pact which the administration is currently negotiating and seeking to fast-track, reports Buzzfeed News.

Ddcda4647e4d3900da0f2b57c8fd68bd_400x400Sent yesterday, the letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Mark Pocan, David Cicilline (above left), Sean Patrick Maloney (above middle), Kyrsten Sinema (above right) and Mark Takano, five of the six co-chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which also includes several other nations in Asia and Latin America, became a serious concern for gay rights groups last year after the sultan of Brunei imposed a version of sharia law that included a punishment of death by stoning for homosexuality. Some states in Malaysia also have criminal sharia codes, and the government is appealing a court ruling striking down a law that criminalizes transgender people.

The five representatives argue in the letter that although Obama’s administration announced in December that it would remove the Gambia from a trade pact for African nations because of a crackdown on gay rights, negotiations continue with Brunei and Malaysia.

The letter reads in part:

“In light of the decision to end trade preferences for Gambia, we write today to ask for clarification on the inclusion of Brunei and Malaysia in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

“These two countries are responsible for severe human rights abuses, including adopting penal codes permitting the imprisonment and physical harm of LGBT people. It seems inconsistent for the United States to expand trade privileges to these two countries while taking action against Gambia.”

Jared Polis, the sixth Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus co-chair, is the only out member of Congress who did not sign the letter.

80 Congressional Democrats Call Bull On One Year Gay Blood Deferral, Urge Obama Administration To Lift Ban


Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, along with 78 other congressional Democrats, urged the Obama Administration to lift the ban on gay men donating blood on Monday, calling the 1983 policy archaic and a scientifically unjustified barrier reports BuzzFeedThe two lawmakers wrote a detailed letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell.

BloodThe lawmakers' request comes after the FDA reaffirmed that it will not repeal the longstanding ban on gay blood. The request also addresses the recommendation by the Health and Human Services’ Advisory Committee on Blood & Tissue Safety & Availability's relaxation on the lifetime ban to instead ban donations from men who have had sex with men in the previous year. However, the lawmakers believe both policies are unfair saying, "both policies are discriminatory, and both approaches are unacceptable.”

In the letter the lawmakers request that the ban should be replaced with a "risk-based blood donation policy.” The most poignant part of the letter addresses the common objection of gay men donating blood; that gay men tend to be higher carriers of HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS.

Said lawmakers:

“The pertinent scientific question is not whether a cross-section of the population is more likely than another to transmit an infection, but rather whether an across-the-board, risk-based screening will reduce the likelihood of all infectious contaminations.”

Two other letters were addressed in the past concerning the ban however, the latest letter explicitly lays out the lawmakers’ policy platform and asks Secretary Burwell several pointed questions. The prominent question is will Burwell "Commit to replacing the lifetime deferral policy by the end of 2014?" And if a blood-screening network is established, when would it be functional, and would it need to be up and running to roll back the ban?

The lawmakers expect Burwell to address the matter before or on Dec. 22. 

Read the letter below:


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