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Thursday Speed Read: Title IX, Rea Carey, Asylum Seeking, Ohio, Colorado, Maryland

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

PROTECTION FOR NON-CONFORMING:

EducationThe U.S. Department of Education (ED) on Tuesday released guidelines to clarify for schools receiving federal aid that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination “extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.” The DOE’s guidance makes clear that its Office of Civil Rights “accepts such complaints for investigation.” The guidance requires school officials to “investigate and resolve allegations of sexual violence regarding LGBT students using the same procedures and standards that it uses in all complaints involving sexual violence.” National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey called it a “giant leap forward” toward “staggering rates of discrimination” against students who are transgender or non-conforming to gender role expectations.

NGLTF LEADER ARRESTED AT RALLY: Carey

NGLTF Executive Director Rea Carey was one of 27 people arrested for blocking an intersection on Capitol Hill Wednesday in a protest against the refusal of the Republican-led U.S. House to take up an immigration reform bill. The Fair Immigration Reform Movement organized the protest. NGLTF estimates that more than 250,000 of the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants are LGBT.

FOCUS ON ASYLUM:

Immigration Equality held a press conference in front of the White House Tuesday afternoon to urge President Obama to provide relief to LGBT people seeking asylum in the United States. The group says it has more than 300 clients in need of asylum. According to the organization’s website, persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status can be a basis for the Bureau of Immigration Appeals to grant asylum.

OhioNEW OHIO LAWSUIT:

Ohio civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein has filed another lawsuit in federal court in Cincinnati seeking to strike down that state’s ban against issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The lawsuit filed Wednesday, Gibson v. Himes, is being brought on behalf of six same-sex couples. Earlier this month, another Gerhardstein lawsuit won a ruling from a federal district court judge in Cincinnati to recognize the out-of-state marriages of four same-sex couples and put the names of both parents on the birth certificates of their children. That case is now on appeal to the Sixth Circuit.

ColoradoCOLORADO POLLS RISING?

A poll by Quinnipiac University of 1,298 registered voters this month found a whopping 61 percent support allowing same-sex couples to marry. Last December, Public Policy Polling surveyed 928 Colorado voters and found only 48 percent said they would support allowing same-sex couples to marry. The December poll, however, gave voters a choice of allowing gays to marry or have civil unions. Thirty-two percent were OK with civil unions. In terms of voters opposed, 18 percent said that in December there should be “no” legal recognition of same-sex relationships, 32 percent said they “oppose” allowing them to marry.

MarylandMARYLAND BALLOT BATTLE BREWING:

A Republican-led group announced Tuesday that it will seek a referendum this November on a bill passed by the Maryland legislature to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. The governor has not yet signed the bill, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, but is expected to. The group, MDPetitions.com, is referring to the measure as “The Bathroom Bill,” a moniker frequently used by opponents of gender equality to stir fears that the non-discrimination law will enable men to enter women’s restrooms to harass or attack them.” The group must first collect 55,736 signatures by June 30, including one-third of those by May 31.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Donald Trump Gets New Hampshire GOP Voters to Boo Jeb Bush on Immigration: VIDEO

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At a conservative summit in New Hampshire over the weekend, human taxidermy project Donald Trump mocked former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s recent comments about illegal immigration being at its core an “act of love”

Mediaite reports:

“You know, I heard Jeb Bush the other day,” Trump said, pausing for the chorus of booing from the audience to build. “And he was talking about people that come into this country illegally, they do it for love.”

“And I said, say it again I didn’t get — that’s one I’ve never heard before,” Trump continued, with the crowd’s boos growing louder. “I understand what he’s saying, but, you know, it’s out there.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Donald Trump Gets New Hampshire GOP Voters to Boo Jeb Bush on Immigration: VIDEO" »


UK Home Secretary to Review Handling of Gay Asylum Claims After Reports of Interrogations Surface

Theresa mayFollowing reports of invasive interrogation procedures for gay asylum claimants, U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May has ordered a review of border officials’ handling of claims made on the grounds of sexual orientation. The Guardian reports:

"We do need to establish that the risk of persecution is real, and this will often depend on whether the sexual orientation of the asylum seeker is as claimed," said May. "We seek to establish this at interview through questions about sexual orientation, not sexual behaviour."

Previously leaked documents revealed the high burden of proof these claimants face. One male asylum seeker was asked a series of intrusive questions including: "What is it about men's backsides that attracts you?" and “What is it about the way men walk that turns you on?” The BBC also reported that, "in extreme cases claimants had handed over photographic and video evidence of 'highly personal sexual activity' in an effort to persuade officials."

"It was disappointing therefore to discover that we may not have followed our guidance in at least one case, which was brought to the attention of the media recently and where inappropriate questions appear to have been asked," said May.

"We are committed to treating all asylum claimants with respect and dignity and we want to continue to improve on current practice in this area."

The paper notes that MPs have previously raised concerns the process for lesbian and gay applicants, many of whom are fleeing persecution in their home countries, relied too heavily on anecdotal evidence and "proving that they are gay."


Documentary on Gay 'Undocumented Immigrant' and Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas to Air: VIDEO

Vargas

Jose Antonio Vargas, a gay journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings and in June 2011 came out as an "undocumented immigrant" in a stunning piece in the New York Times, is the subject of a new documentary called Documented, written, produced and directed by Vargas himself.

DocumentedThe film chronicles Vargas' experience after revealing his immigration status and his reunion with his mother, whom he had not seen in two decades.

The film will be released in New York at the Village East Cinema on May 2 and in Los Angeles at the Landmark Regent on May 9 prior to an airing on CNN, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Said Vargas to THR:

"As a newcomer to America who learned to 'speak American' by watching movies, I firmly believe that to change the politics of immigration and citizenship, we must change culture -- the way we portray undocumented people like me and our role in society. I am thrilled to be working with CNN, Tugg and BOND/360 to share my story on screens around the country and remind people that when we talk about immigration, we are talking about real people and their families."

Watch the trailer for Documented, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Documentary on Gay 'Undocumented Immigrant' and Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas to Air: VIDEO" »


Gay Ethiopian Teenager Faces Deportation, Persecution In Homeland

A 19 year old gay Ethiopian man is currently facing deportation by federal agents in Boston after he he stopped attending school and consequently lost his student visa, according to The Boston Globe.

EthiopiaImmigration officials arrested the young man in January. Though he appeared twice before an immigration judge last month it is unclear whether officials involved in the case are aware of the man’s sexual orientation, which he posted about on a "public forum," and the dangers he would face should he return home to Ethiopia. Those close to the young man, whose identity has been left undisclosed at this time, are concerned for his safety should he be sent back to Ethiopia given the nation’s strong anti-gay attitudes:

“This is a very serious deal,” said the student’s uncle, who spoke on condition of anonymity from Canada. “Back in his country, it will be like death.” […]

Two people in Worcester who know the young man — Todd Williams, an openly gay Republican candidate for state senator, and his campaign manager, Mesfin Beshir, a nonprofit director from Ethiopia — said in separate interviews that the student recently told them he is gay.

Williams and Beshir said they met him shortly before his arrest in January, when he asked to stay with Beshir’s family during winter break.

“He’s openly gay . . . He blatantly told me, ‘I’m gay,’ ” Williams said in a telephone interview. “If he’s returned or deported to Ethiopia, I’m in fear of what may happen to him.”

Beshir said the man seemed to suffer emotional troubles, sometimes seeming irritated and shutting himself in the guest room. He said he worried for the man’s safety if forced to return to Ethiopia.

“Culturally, he will be an outcast,” said Beshir […]

In Ethiopia, according to the State Department, gay people have been jailed, interrogated, and allegedly abused, and many reported anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts. Amnesty International said gay people face up to 15 years in prison in that country for aggravated offenses.

The young man, whose actions of late have seemed “erratic” to some, will also undergo a mental health review that was requested by the immigration judge presiding over his case. The 19-year-old has not officially requested asylum, which detainees may apply for if they fear returning home, however “lawyers say many foreigners are reluctant to confide in their jailers.”

Previously we reported that gay Ethiopians may soon face the death penalty for so-called aggravated offenses. Recently, fellow African nations Uganda and Nigeria enacted harsh anti-gay laws that are already beginning to have dire consequences for LGBT individuals.


Growing Up Queer, Latino and Undocumented In The South: VIDEO

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A video from Public Interest Projects recorded at least year’s Southeast Immigrant Rights Network conference in Little Rock, AR highlights the struggles faced by young gay men who are undocumented latinos living in the South.  

“Growing up as an undocumented wasn’t easy. I always thought that I was, you know, going to have to either work in construction or be a cashier at a Mexican store where they don’t ask for papers so obviously I was going to have to be the cashier. I really didn't feel that I had a future because of my legal status. I had to find the jobs on the down low and stuff you know. I was embarrassed of being undocumented but that’s because of how society made me think of myself. Me and another friend in school we both were undocumented and we wanted a better future….What Im trying to do right here is to get everyone out of the shadows, get everyone out of the closet, let them know that being undocumented and being unafraid and unashamed is one of the most beautiful things in the world because you love yourself for who you are.”

Check out the candid conversation, AFTER THE JUMP…

Continue reading "Growing Up Queer, Latino and Undocumented In The South: VIDEO" »


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