Gay Rights Hub

Gallup Survey Confirms San Francisco Is The Nation's Gayest City (#7 May Surprise You Though)


Not surprisingly, San Francisco has the highest concentration of LGBT people of any city in the US, at 6.2 percent, according to a new Gallup survey

However, there are some surprises on the list, including Salt Lake City, which is ranked No. 7.

From The New York Times:

Gallup1It might seem surprising at first that the city most associated with the Mormon Church — which believes that sex and marriage should occur between only a man and a woman — has the seventh-highest share of L.G.B.T. people, at 4.7 percent.

But another aspect of the Mormon culture — the importance of community and family — goes a long way toward explaining the pattern, people in Salt Lake City say.

Though many gay people who were raised Mormon (or L.D.S., an acronym for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) describe feeling expelled from the community, a large number still choose to stay close to their families and culture. “If you grow up L.D.S. like I did, you still have these deep Mormon values that are embedded in your DNA,” said Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, an L.G.B.T. advocacy group.

The Gallup survey includes the nation's 50 largest metropolitan areas and is believed to contain the most detailed estimates yet about where LGBT people live. 

Birmingham, Alabama, has the lowest concentration of LGBT people, at 2.6 percent, but according to Gallup, the overall margin is small:  

The distribution of LGBT identity across the largest metro areas in the U.S. is relatively narrow, with a range of 3.6 percentage points from the highest to the lowest MSA among the top 50. This mirrors previous analyses of the distribution of the LGBT population across states, which show similarly fairly even distribution, at least in comparison to the many other pronounced geographic differences found on race, ethnic, political and ideological variables.

The lack of sharp distinctions could reflect in part that the geographic MSAs used in this research are large, and for most areas, include significant suburban populations around center cities. The sample sizes involved do not allow for an analysis of center cities per se, but perhaps the LGBT percentage is larger in these areas than in the metropolitan area as a whole.


Indiana Is About To Establish A License To Discriminate Against LGBT People


An Indiana "religious freedom" bill that would establish a license to discriminate against LGBT people is expected to pass on Monday. 

Anti-gay Republican Gov. Mike Pence has said he will sign Senate Bill 101, which cleared a House committee earlier this week despite opposition from LGBT advocates and major employers. 

BuzzFeed reports on the bill's prospects in the full House: 

“I would predict the bill passes on Monday,” Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview Thursday. ...

Opponents of the bill seem largely resigned to losing.

“It does seem like they have decided that this should be the law in Indiana,” Jennifer Wagner, a spokesperson for the LGBT advocacy group Freedom Indiana, told BuzzFeed News.

While supporters of SB 101 maintain it's about religious freedom, the anti-LGBT group Advance America sheds light on its true purpose: 

SB 101 will help protect individuals, Christian businesses and churches from those supporting homosexual marriages and those supporting government recognition and approval of gender identity (male cross-dressers).

Here are just 3 examples:

  • Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage!
  • Christian business should not be punished for refusing to allow a man to use the women’s restroom!
  • church should not be punished because they refuse to let the church be used for a homosexual wedding!

The Indiana House defeated several amendments Thursday designed to minimize the bill's harm to the LGBT community, according to a press release from Freedom Indiana

Despite bipartisan concerns, lawmakers defeated amendments to define protecting children as a compelling government interest; include non-discrimination language in the law; prevent local human rights ordinances from being overturned; and require business owners to post signs if they plan to refuse service to certain customers. ...

"We're tremendously disappointed that lawmakers would rather kick these issues to the courts instead of fixing a dangerous bill that has raised countless legal issues and concerns from businesses, faith groups, child welfare advocates and others. 

"We we will continue to fight Senate Bill 101 and hope that lawmakers see that we do not need this legislation to preserve the fundamental right of religious freedom that we all cherish."

Jeb Bush Throws Support Behind Anti-LGBT 'License to Discriminate' Bills

Speaking on the steps of the Georgia Statehouse on Thursday, former Florida governor and likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush indicated his approval of anti-LGBT bills like the state's proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act - legislation that would allow people to use their religion to discriminate against LGBT individuals.

The Washington Blade reports:

Bush“I don’t know about the law, but religious freedom is a serious issue, and it’s increasingly so, and I think people that act on their conscience shouldn’t be discriminated against, for sure,” Bush said. “There should be protections, and so, as it relates to marriage equality — and that may change, the Supreme Court may change that. That automatically then shifts the focus to people of conscience, and, I don’t know, have their faith make — they want to act on their faith, and may not be able to be employed for example.” [...]

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Bush added, “People have a right to do that, just as we need to be respectful for people who are in long-term committed relationships. Sorting that out is important.” 

Elton John and former LGBT foe Mike Bowers have already come out strongly against Georgia's bill and the HRC detailed potential scenarios that could emerge if the bill were to become law: 

In practical terms, S.B. 129 could allow businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples, a paramedic to refuse to provide life-saving services to an LGBT person, or a school counselor to refuse services to an LGBT teenager. The bill puts minority groups at risk of being denied service everywhere from the convenience store to the doctor's office.

Previously, "Jeb Bush Blows 'Religious Liberty' Dog Whistle in New Statement on Gay Marriage in Florida" [tlrd]

Bills Targeting Gay Adoption Advance In Florida, Michigan, Become Flavor Of Week In Anti-LGBT Legislation


We've seen the "license to discriminate" bills that would allow businesses to turn away LGBT people based on religious beliefs. We've seen the bills that would prohibit cities from adding LGBT protections. We've seen the bills directly targeting same-sex marriage, such as revoking the salaries of clerks who issue licenses to gay couples — or even doing away with them altogether. And we've seen the bills that would make it a crime for transgender people to use restrooms according to their gender identity. 

Now, proposals targeting gay adoption have advanced in Florida and Michigan, with similar measures introduced in other states, signaling the latest flavor of anti-LGBT legislation in response to the spread of same-sex marriage to 38 states. (The Human Rights Campaign reports that 85 anti-LGBT bills have now been filed in 26 state legislatures, as shown on the map above.)

The Michigan House voted 65-44 on Wednesday to approve measures that would allow adoption agencies that contract with the state to discriminate against gays if it's part of their "sincerely held religious beliefs." The Hufffington Post reports: 

The legislation would protect agencies refusing service over religious beliefs from “adverse action” by the state, including limiting public funding and “discriminating against the child placing agency.”

A series of Democrats spoke in opposition to the bills on the House floor Wednesday, arguing that it is backwards to make it potentially more difficult for LGBT families to adopt while there are several thousand children in Michigan waiting to find parents.

"No matter how well intentioned, these [bills] will produce bad results," said Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo). "They put the best interest of the agency over the child, they are discriminatory ... They violate our state constitution by elevating some religious beliefs above others. ... They allow agencies to pick and choose what children they want to service [without having to be transparent].”

Meanwhile, a Florida House committee approved a similar measure — coincidentally, one week after the full House voted to repeal the state's unconstitutional ban on gay adoption. From The Florida Times-Union

Now, conservative groups are warning that some private agencies would close their doors rather than comply with a state law allowing gays and lesbians to adopt.

“My fear … is that some wonderful organizations who promote some forever families might likely have to shut down because they can’t reconcile their beliefs with the state,” said House Health & Human Services Chairman Jason Brodeur ... 

The “conscience protection” bill would prevent the state from denying funds or licenses to private adoption agencies that refuse to make placements conflicting with the agencies’ written religious beliefs.

Shockingly, one supporter of the Florida bill acknowledged that in addition to licensing discrimination against gays, the bill would allow agencies affiliated with one faith to turn away parents from another: 

“So as a single Jewish woman who was raised Catholic, I need not apply if I want to adopt a child?” asked Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation.

“It probably would not be facilitated through a Catholic organization,” acknowledged Michael Sheedy of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Maybe the "unintended consequences" of these "religious freedom" bills aren't so unintended after all. 

In A Stunning Display Of Hypocrisy, Sen. Ted Cruz Targets District Of Columbia's LGBT Protections


Sen. Ted Cruz frequently rails against federal overreach and is a staunch defender of the right of states to ban same-sex marriage. 

However, Cruz now wants Congress to dictate how Washington, D.C., regulates LGBT and reproductive rights.

Cruz has introduced what are known as disapproval resolutions seeking to undo two laws passed by the D.C. Council last year. One of the laws would prevent employers from taking action against employees who use birth control or seek an abortion, while the other would remove a religious exemption to the district's LGBT protections.   

Senator Lankford Official Portrait - CopyAs hypocritical as they may be, Cruz's resolutions aren't going anywhere. In order to pass, they'd need approval from both chambers of Congress as well as President Barack Obama's signature. Rather, they appear to be more political posturing from Cruz as he prepares for a likely 2016 presidential campaign. 

The Washington Post reports: 

Although rarely successful at stopping D.C. laws, the resolutions are often more effective politically, giving members of Congress legislative records to build bona fides with constituent groups that feel strongly about the District’s often liberal stances on social issues. ... 

Freshman Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who co-introduced the measures, issued a statement Wednesday saying “what the D.C. Council has done is a major threat to the fundamental right to religious freedom for D.C. residents and organizations, and a brazen display of intolerance.”

Cruz declined to comment on the resolutions, but Lankford told WaPo the resolutions are in line with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year in the Hobby Lobby case. In seeking to undo the laws, Cruz and Lankford have the support of anti-LGBT hate groups including the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council. 

Kimberly Perry, head of D.C. Vote, told WaPo the resolutions go against the very principles Cruz and Lankford normally champion, such as states' rights and local control:   

“Senators Cruz and Lankford’s move to disapprove a local District law is absurd and hypocritical,” Perry said. “They are now guilty of the same federal overreach they often criticize in others.”

Perry called on “every other member of Congress to step up and see this for exactly what it is — un-American and un-democratic.”

Coincidentally, Cruz appeared on Late Night With Seth Meyers this week and explained his opposition to same-sex marriage: 

"Listen, I'm a constitutionalist," Cruz said. "For over 200 years, marriage has been a question for the states. Now, personally I believe in traditional marriage between one man and one woman, but if you want to change the marriage laws, the way to do it constitutionally is to convince your fellow citizens, go to the state legislature and change it. It shouldn't be the federal government or unelected judges imposing their own definition of marriage." 

Watch the clip, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

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East Grand Rapids Becomes 36th Michigan City To Add LGBT Protections: VIDEO

EGREast Grand Rapids became the 36th city in Michigan to add LGBT protections on Monday. 

The City Commission in East Grand Rapids, population 10,000, voted unanimously to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city's existing nondiscrimination ordinance. reports: 

The majority of those in attendance at the public hearing before the official vote spoke in favor of the move. A few told personal stories and described inequalities that exist even when laws are present, and many praised East Grand Rapids as a "welcoming place" that has allowed them to live peacefully in whatever lifestyle  they choose. Several commented that because the community has generally been so inclusive, they were surprised when they found out that the law wasn't already on the books.

Former City Mayor Cindy Bartman offered her support for what she called "this very important ordinance."

"EGR has a long and proud history as an open and inclusive community," said Bartman. "East was the very first high school to establish a Gay-Straight Alliance and today following our lead, almost every high school in the state has one. A lesser known fact," she said, "was when the state offered a constitution banning gay marriage. If you look back at those results, you will find EGR was the only community in Kent and Ottawa County that said no."

WOOD-TV has more from the meeting: 

“When we were looking to where we wanted to raise our kids, there were multiple factors we took into consideration,” said East Grand Rapids resident Mary Whiting, who is in a same-sex relationship. “One was property values, safety, education and a sense of community, but the one that we had to consider that other people don’t have to consider is how would our family be perceived?” ... 

The city commission and residents who spoke Monday night were all in agreement, supporting the measure.

“It’s something that I can’t even understand the thought of a no vote,” First Ward Commissioner Bill Graham said.

The ordinance was first proposed over a year ago, but city officials hoped the state Legislature would add LGBT protections, which did not happen. Under the new ordinance, the city can fine violators up to $500 or seek an injunction against them in court. 

"Maybe by us passing this along with so many other communities, it will provide our state legislators the go ahead to do the right thing at the state level, where it (the law) would have more teeth," Mayor Amna Seibold told "But this is very basic equal rights for all."

Watch a report from WOOD-TV, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "East Grand Rapids Becomes 36th Michigan City To Add LGBT Protections: VIDEO" »


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