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Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen and Transgender Son Speak Out in CBS Miami Interview: VIDEO

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL.) disclosed in an interview with CBS Miami last night that her views have changed on LGBT people after coming to terms with her transgender son's transition Mediaite reports.

Watch Ros-Lehtinen and her son's interview with CBS Miami, AFTER THE JUMP...

RoslehtinenHer son Rodrigo, born Amanda, started the transition process in 2007, and he officially went public with his identity in the interview that aired last night. Ros-Lehtinen is 100 percent supportive of her son's decision.

Said Ros-Lehtinen:

“As parents we wanted to make sure Rigo understood we were totally fine with it. We wanted to make sure he was safe. Our society is sometimes not inviting and not caring enough and there is no mystery that LGBT kids when they are younger are bullied."

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen originally voted for the Defense of Marriage Act back in 1996, but she is the only Republican to vote for its repeal. Although Rodrigo's mother is a part of a political party that aims to derail LGBT rights, Lehtinen's son loves her dearly.

Rodrigo

Said Rodrigo:

“I think she’s genuinely a good person, she may be Republican and I may not be, but she cares about people enough and the tide of history is going so much in that direction.”

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen also gave advice on how parents should react to their children coming out to them. Fortunately, none of her suggestions included conversion therapy as a solution, which some members of her party support.

Said Ros-Lehtinen:

“Don’t freak out, stay calm and don’t be afraid. Love your child because that person is your child whether it’s the person you wanted him or her to be or not. That’s my advice to parents, never, never reject your child. That’s unconditional love no matter what.”

Watch Ros-Lehtinen and her son's interview with CBS Miami, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Russia Levies Charges Against LGBT Internet Support Group For 'Gay Propaganda'

Russia's persecution of LGBT citizens is spreading from the streets to cyberspace as the Russian government starts cracking down on LGBT affiliated websites reports Buzzfeed. The government has its eyes set on Children 404, a group page hosted on Facebook doppelgänger Vkontakte where LGBT Russian teens can discuss their sexuality with others and without fear of retaliation.

Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, commonly known by it's alternate name Roskomnadzor, is pressing charges against Children 404 founder and journalist Elena Klimova. A local branch of the agency is revealing the full charges levied against Klimova on Tuesday. Under the existing law Klimova's group can incur a fine of one million rubles ($21,000), and find itself forcibly shut down for 90 days.

Picture 2Modeled after America's "It Gets Better" campaign, the group came to fruition shortly before Russia passed its anti-gay laws last year. Users, which are mostly teenagers, share their stories on the site and have the opportunity to interact with up to 15 volunteer psychologists that offer professional counseling services. The name "Children 404” is a reference to the “Page Not Found,” error which is a commonly encountered server error.

Roskomnadzor only specified that they pursued the group after receiving 150 online complaints about the group. Klimova expressed her frustration with the agency's profiling of her and the website.

Said Klimova:

“Roskomnadzor says that it’s found homosexual propaganda, but instead of showing where I have forbidden materials, they’re writing that I just don’t have the special knowledge to publish them. It’s absurd!”

Anti-gay activists have targeted the group before including disrupting the filming of a documentary centered on the group with protests. Moscow prosecutors even went so far as to summon the directors of the film for questioning. A screening of the film in Vladivostok sparked controversy in September when minors managed to attend the film--the movie carries a rating of +18.


Colin Farrell Pleads with Irish People for Gay Equality in Emotional Letter About His Brother

Farrells

Colin Farrell writes about his gay brother Eamon in an open letter to the Irish people published in that country's Sunday World newspaper.Farrell has written about his brother before in support of an anti-bullying campaign in Ireland.

Writes Farrell in Sunday World:

I think I found out my brother wasn’t grovelling in heterosexual mud like most boys our age when I was around 12. I remember feeling surprised. Intrigued. Curious. Not bi-curious before you start getting ideas.

I was curious because it was different from anything I’d known or heard of and yet it didn’t seem unnatural to me. I had no reference for the existence of homosexuality. I had seen, by that age, no gay couples together. I just knew my brother liked men and, I repeat, it didn’t seem unnatural to me. My brother Eamon didn’t choose to be gay. Yes, he chose to wear eyeliner to school and that probably wasn’t the most pragmatic response to the daily torture he experienced at the hands of school bullies.

But he was always proud of who he was. Proud and defiant and, of course, provocative. Even when others were casting him out with fists and ridicule and the laughter of pure loathsome derision, he maintained an integrity and dignity that flew in the face of the cruelty that befell him.

I don’t know where those bullies are now, the ones who beat him regularly. Maybe some of them have found peace and would rather forget their own part of a painful past. Maybe they’re sitting on bar stools and talking about “birds and faggots” and why one’s the cure and the other the disease.

But I do know where my brother is. He’s at home in Dublin living in peace and love with his husband of some years, Steven. They are about the healthiest and happiest couple I know. They had to travel a little farther than down the aisle to make their vows, though, to Canada, where their marriage was celebrated.

That’s why this is personal to me. The fact that my brother had to leave Ireland to have his dream of being married become real is insane. INSANE.

It’s time to right the scales of justice here. To sign up and register to vote next year so that each individual’s voice can be heard

How often do we get to make history in our lives? Not just personal history. Familial. Social. Communal. Global. The world will be watching. We will lead by example. Let’s lead toward light.

Farrell served as his brother's best man in his wedding in Canada in 2009, later celebrating the union in their home country.


Anti-gay Russian Lawmaker Vitaly Milonov Prepares Bill Targeting Same-Sex Marriage Loophole

St. Petersburg politician Vitaly Milonov is drafting a bill to eradicate a loophole in Russia's same-sex marriage ban after lesbian couple Irina Shumilova and Alyona Fursova tied the knot last Friday, reports Pink News.

Picture 6Russia's marriage laws don't recognize transgender identities and classify Russian citizens strictly by their sex at birth. Bride Irina Shumilova [middle], who was born male and now identifies as a woman, took advantage of the oppressive law and married her wife in a Russian registrars office while both wore wedding gowns.

Milonov called the clever move the couple pulled an "ugly insult to millions of Russian families" and announced Thursday that he plans on crafting a bill to eliminate the loophole.

Milonov told Russian newspaper The Izvestia his reasoning behind his new oppressive bill:

Milonov"At present… there is a dress code by which everyone must abide when visiting state institutions. Therefore, one should not dress inappropriately when visiting (any) event associated with a change in one’s civil status.

"It’s a matter of culture and education… We will not allow people dressed in clothes [associated] with the opposite sex or beach clothes to register their marriage at the registry office. Except for when that clothing is an element of their culture or of ethnic origin."

Milonov is also calling for Apple CEO Tim Cook to be banned from entering Russia over fears that he would bring AIDS or Ebola into the country. St. Petersburg was the first city in Russia to pass an ordinance banning "Gay propaganda," with the rest of the nation following suit modeling and passing similar legislation based on the city's ordinance.  

Shumilova and Fursova are not the first couple to circumvent Russia's same-sex marriage ban, however. In August, couple Allison Brooks and Alina Davis bypassed the law as well because Davis identifies as androgyne, but the Russian government considers Davis as male reports Pink News. Both wore wedding dresses when they signed the application papers even though registrars asked them not to.


Three Arizona Cities Receive Perfect Scores In Human Rights Campaign LGBT Civil Rights Index

A report from the Human Rights Campaign's annual Municipal Equality Index indicates that the Arizona cities of Phoenix, Tempe and Tucson received perfect scores of a 100 on a scale of 0-100 reports One Community. HRC's index scores 353 municipalities from all 50 states on how they treat their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, specifically in regards to what cities promote inclusiveness and provide equal rights for LGBT residents and workers. The three cities also were among 23 others designated "All Stars," for excelling on matters of equality without relying on state law.

Picture 4In 2013 Tempe received a score of 72, however the city unanimously approved Proposition 475 this year that bans workplace discrimination against LGBT workers. Additionally the city also passed an ordinance earlier this year in February that bans LGBT discrimination in housing, employment and accommodations at restaurants and hotels, but includes exceptions for religious organizations and social clubs. The cities of Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff have similar ordinances in place as well.

However, some local Arizona politicians fear an uphill battle is looming after state Republicans, including new Gov. Doug Ducey, saw big wins in the recent election. Tempe councilman Kolby Granville, a major proponent of gay rights, expressed the state legislature may further stall LGBT civil rights protections.

Said Granville:

"When you look at the makeup of our state Legislature, particularly given this election last Tuesday, the politics are not there for state change as it relates to employment discrimination, as it relates to equal treatment and as it relates to health benefits,"

"If the cities can muster the votes they should move forward and let the state catch up."

Arizona's total score average is 68 out of a 100 points, which is above the national average of 59. the city of Peoria received the lowest score with a total of 33 points. With the legalization of gay marriage in Arizona, the overall score of the state should rise in the future should marriage remain unchallenged. The full report, along with a FAQ page on why certain cities are chosen for the survey, is available on the HRC website.


Michigan House Speaker Proposes 'Religious Freedom' Act As Debate Over LGBT Job Protections Bill Continues

As lawmakers in Michigan debate on whether to support legislation that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (but not gender identity or expression), Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger has proposed a bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against gays based on religious beliefs. 

MLive reports:

Jase Bolger“I believe workers should be hired and fired based solely on their work ethic and their work experience,” Bolger told reporters during a media roundtable. “And nobody should be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or their religious beliefs.” [...]

Bolger, offering an analogy, said he does not think a baker should be able to fire an employee for being gay or refuse to make a birthday cake for gay customer.

But that same baker should not be forced to make a cake for a same-sex wedding if such a union would run counter to his or her religious beliefs, according to Bolger, who said courts would ultimately draw that line.

“This does not presume an outcome, and it clearly does not provide a license to discriminate,” Bolger said. “It provides a test of balance.”

Bolger is hoping to pair both bills together, a move that has angered State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor):

“If you’re going to act in the public space, you must act in a way that is fair and equal to all citizens regardless of skin color, national origin, religion and hopefully sexual orientation and gender expression,” Irwin said. “If they don’t believe in that compromise, they don’t believe in it. They can’t have it both ways.”

LGBT advocates, meanwhile, continue to push for a fully inclusive non-discrimiantion bill, Buzzfeed reports:

Chad griffin“A fully inclusive non-discrimination bill that covers both sexual orientation AND gender identity is the only acceptable option,” HRC president Chad Griffin said in the release. “The Human Rights Campaign and our coalition partners will oppose anything less.”

The coalition partners include state groups like the ACLU of Michigan and Equality Michigan, as well as national groups that include the American Unity Fund and Gill Action — the political arm of the prominent donor Tim Gill’s efforts.

Kirk Fordham, the executive director of Gill Action, echoed Griffin and Cook-McCormac’s remarks, writing, “We, too, support only and inclusive bill and would oppose anything less than that. We’ve made that position clear to the GOP and Democratic leaders in the state.”

The sexual orientation-exclusive bill is being introduced by Republican state Rep. Frank Foster. Foster plans on holding a hearing on the bill, along with a Democratic alternative that includes trans protections, some time after Thanksgiving. 


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