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LGBT Immigrants Hold Reform Rally in Front of White House: VIDEO

PROTEST

A group of LGBT immigrants rallied in D.C. Tuesday to protest the federal government's immigration policies in light of news that President Obama will not make a move on immigration reform until after Election Day, The Washington Blade reports.

Protestors wore red shirts that read "Immigration is an LGBTQ Issue," encouraging people to consider the intersections between these two political issues. 

A 28-year-old gay man, "Oliver" (pseudonym), shared his story of fleeing Nigeria to escape homophobia. In light of recent laws in Nigeria, he cannot return to his country, so "Oliver" spoke on the importance of maintaining America's asylum system.

Two pseudonymous speakers shared horror stories of being placed in America's detention centers, a man "Jose" and a transwoman "Fernanda."

"Jose" originally fled El Salvador for being sexually abused an harassed based on his sexuality. Of the detention center, he said:

I felt scared...One of the detainees openly said that he was gay, and he was literally insulated from everyone. No one wanted to talk to him; no one wanted to be with him. That made me feel threatened. That made me feel scared of saying something. Day by day, being in that horrible place, in that detention center, I was living my nightmare again.

"Fernanda" is 36, and fled violence she faced in her home country of Honduras. At the protest, she described her experience in a detention center, where she was placed with mentally ill people.

It is time for this country to turn our attention to understand the stories of trans woman in detention who are mistreated psychologically, verbally, who are repeatedly assaulted and attacked for being who they are.

Check out video of the rally, AFTER THE JUMP...

(Photo via Twitter)

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Transgender People Voted for the First Time in El Salvador's History

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LGBT activists display their inked fingers after voting in the second round of the Salvadoran presidential elections, on March 9, 2014. in order to prove that a citizen has voted, fingers are dipped in semi-permanent ink after turning in the ballot. Third from left is Pati Hernandez, executive director of ASPIDH Arco Iris, and second from right is Karla Avelar, executive director of COMCAVIS trans.

BY DANIELLE MARIE MACKEY AND GLORIA MARISELA MORAN / GlobalPost

SAN SALVADOR and NEW YORK—Rubi Navas is among the first transgender women in the history of El Salvador to be allowed to vote.

In previous years, Rubi and her peers were normally barred from voting, because their physical appearances don’t match the masculine birth names on their national identification cards. The few who were able to cast ballots were lucky; an unusually progressive election official had probably let them by.

But on Feb. 1, three days before the first round of the 2014 Salvadoran presidential elections, the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal proclaimed that all people must be allowed to vote, without discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

CerenWhile recent historic advances, like this one, were made by the administration of outgoing president Mauricio Funes, questions remain about whether his successor, Salvador Sanchez Ceren (pictured), will take the same proactive stance.

Despite previous progress, the climate for LGBTI rights in El Salvador is complicated by corruption and organized crime, which exacerbate the already pervasive issues of discrimination and violence.

On March 9, in the elections’ second and final round, Rubi went to the polls with a bandaged right arm to protect bullet wounds she sustained in an attack nearly one month earlier. In a violent episode all-too-familiar to many LGBTI people in El Salvador, Rubi was shot three times by an off-duty police officer.

While simultaneously enjoying a newly awarded right, Rubi arrived at the polling station still the unhealed victim of attempts on her life—an event which is representative of the state of LGBTI rights in El Salvador, and the ways in which discrimination still functions against LGBTI people.

On the night of Feb. 7, 2014, Rubi was working on a street near downtown San Salvador.

Like many transgender women in El Salvador, she is only able to find employment in sex work. An off-duty, intoxicated officer cornered Rubi, accusing her of stealing his mobile phone. When she denied the accusation, he shot her three times, hitting her once in the neck and twice in the arm.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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News: Stephen Amell, Obamacare, Denzel Washington, El Salvador


Amell
RoadStephen Amell covers up the goods for an impromptu Christmas card posted to the actor's Instagram.

RoadKanye's keyboard will appreciate the break.

RoadShe's just being Miley.

RoadCybill Shepherd to guest star on Trophy Wife.

RoadDecember saw a surge in sign-ups on healthcare.gov, passing the 1 million mark, according to the Obama administration: "Combined with numbers for state-run markets due in January, that should put total enrollment in the new private insurance plans under President Barack Obama's health law at about 2 million people through the end of the year, independent experts said. That would be about two-thirds of the administration's original goal of signing up 3.3 million by Dec. 31, a significant improvement given the technical problems that crippled the federal market during much of the fall. The overall goal remains to enroll 7 million people by March 31."

RoadDenzel Washington rumored to be playing the Green Lantern in the new Superman vs. Batman movie.

RoadMichael Fassbender mugs for British GQ.

RoadThe year in scandals.

RoadProstitute mistakenly texts on duty police officer in wrong number epic fail. 

RoadGOP megadonor Harold Simmons has died: "Simmons’s spending was not confined to Republican political candidates: His foundation gave $600,000 to Planned Parenthood and a Texas affiliate in 2011, according to CPI, and the same amount to a Dallas LGBT center this year, according to the Dallas Morning News."

Pin RoadA very apropos 'You Can Play' pin.

RoadThe (fan-created) Frozen reprise that might have been but never was.

RoadSpeaking of, the animated film has done equally well overseas and here in the US according to Deadline, raking in $243.5M abroad and $491.8M globally.

RoadChaparrastique volcano erupts in El Salvador, thousands flee.

RoadNY Times asks: What does the way you speak say about you?


U.S. Embassies In Latin America Get Down With Gay Pride

ElSalvadorSecretary of State Hillary Clinton has made no secret of her commitment to LGBT rights around the world. "Gay rights are human rights," she has said on a number of occasions. Apparently her State Department colleagues in Latin America agree.

Only a few weeks after it was reported that the U.S. Embassy in Kenya was celebrating pride, Andrés Duque reports that half-a-dozen U.S. satellites in the Latin America took part in their own pride events.

For example, Anne Andrew, the U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, held a "roundtable" on LGBT rights there, while the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiske, sent out a tweet reiterating the States' engagement on LGBT issues. "The US Government supports the Honduran LGBT community in their fight for equality and respect," she wrote.

Officials in Chile, Panama, El Salvador and Ecuador also sent representatives to pride parades or held their own events, including a high heel race to erode traditional gender norms in Ecuador. As you can see in the photo above, the participants were in it to win it.

Read Duque's excellent article HERE.


Senate Finally Confirms Pro-LGBT Ambassador To El Salvador

AponteMariYou may recall that last December Republican senators blocked the confirmation of Mari Carmen Aponte, an Ambassador to El Salvador picked by Obama, because of a pro-LGBT editorial Aponte wrote in an Salvadoran newspaper in 2010.

"[Aponte's] decision to publish an opinion piece hostile to the culture of El Salvadorans presents even more doubts about her fitness for the job. This op-ed upset a large number of community and pro-life groups in El Salvador who were insulted by Ms. Aponte’s rhetoric," said Sen. Jim DeMint at the time about Aponte's op-ed, in which she insisted "homophobia and brutal hostility are often based on lack of understanding about what it truly means to be gay or transgender."

Well, the Washington Blade today reports that Aponte has finally been confirmed.

The U.S. Senate broke an impasse on Thursday to confirm a U.S. ambassador to El Salvador who had previously been denied the position in part of because of a pro-gay editorial she wrote in one of the country’s newspapers.

The Senate confirmed Mara Carmen Aponte, a D.C. lawyer and activist, to the role by voice vote after senators voted 62-37 to cut off debate on her nomination.

All Senate Democrats voted “yes” on cloture for her nomination. Republicans who joined them were Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

Sen. Harry Reid applauded the decision, saying, "During her recess appointment, Ambassador Aponte was an outspoken advocate for American values and democracy, and a staunch supporter of U.S. private enterprise." The Blade also reports that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally called senators and urged them to back the confirmation.


GOP Senators Use LGBT Rights Stance to Successfully Block Confirmation of Ambassador to El Salvador

Last week I wrote that GOP Senators were working to block confirmation of Mari Carmen Aponte, Obama's pick for Ambassador to El Salvador, who has been serving since Obama made her a recess appointee in September 2010, partly by using a June editorial she wrote supporting Gay Pride as reasons for objecting.

AponteThey succeeded:

Senate Republicans successfully filibustered on Monday the confirmation of an ambassadorial nominee, citing a pro-LGBT editorial she wrote as one reason to vote against her. The cloture vote to advance the nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte for the position of U.S. ambassador to El Salvador failed by 49-37 on a mostly party-line basis.

Said Sen. Jim DeMint of Aponte's editorial in which she argued against homophobia and violence against LGBT people:

"In her recess-appointed capacity as ambassador to El Salvador, Ms. Aponte has inflamed tensions in the very country where she should be improving diplomatic relations. Her decision to publish an opinion piece hostile to the culture of El Salvadorans presents even more doubts about her fitness for the job. This op-ed upset a large number of community and pro-life groups in El Salvador who were insulted by Ms. Aponte’s rhetoric."

Wrote Aponte in the piece, called, For the Elimination of Prejudices Wherever They Exist:

"No one should be subjected to aggression because of who he is or who he loves. Homophobia and brutal hostility are often based on lack of understanding about what it truly means to be gay or transgender. To avoid negative perceptions, we must work together with education and support for those facing those who promote hatred."


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