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Transgender Students Face Discrimination By Religious Colleges

George_fox_university

A July 14th Inside Higher Ed article highlights two cases of discrimination against transgender students that are representative of the broader ability of institutions to ignore federal laws that interfere with their faith.

The article comes following last month’s Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, which upheld the right of some businesses owned by religious individuals not to finance contraception coverage for employees; and a letter by more than 140 religious organizations and individuals petitioning for an exemption from President Barack Obama’s pending executive order which aims to protect LGBT federal employees.

The article discusses in detail an exemption granted to George Fox University, Oregon, that allows it to discriminate against a transgender student who identifies as a man and was refused permission to reside in housing for male students; and The California Baptist University case in which a scholarship student was expelled by the university on the basis of “fraud” after she appeared on a reality television program to discuss her transgender identity.

The article goes on to consider the case of Gordon College in Massachusetts. College president Michael Lindsay signed the letter to Barack Obama seeking exemptions. Citing Gordon’s anti-gay policies, the City of Salem, Massachusetts, has since killed a contract under which Gordon has operated the city's Old Town Hall. Additionally, the college’s accreditor is now reviewing whether Gordon’s policies violate NEASC’s anti-bias rules.


Barney Frank: Don't Vote For Gay Republican Congressional Candidate Richard Tisei

Former Rep. Barney Frank has weighed in on one of 2014's tightest congressional races, that of his state Massachusetts' sixth district. 

1019_tierney-tisei-620x456It's a headline grabber — incumbent Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) versus Republican challenger Richard Tisei. While Rep. Tierney has been a staunch advocate of LGBT rights, Tisei may be poised to snatch votes from him. Rep. Tierney is staight, and Tisei is openly gay. If elected, Tisei would be the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress.

If this story sounds familiar to you, you're not wrong. Two years ago, the same two candidates were squaring off in the same district. That time around, the race wrapped up tight — Tierney's 48% to Tisei's 47. 

This year, things could shake out differently. In February, Tisei was endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, leading to a bump in his polling data.

Wednesday evening, former Rep. Frank assembled a group of LGBT donors on Capitol Hill to discuss the congressional race and voice support for the incumbent Tierney.

6a00d8341c730253ef017d3e260216970c-250wiWhile the donors acknowledge allure in the idea that a gay Republican who could shake up the party, many suggest that this is not realistic — that it's more important to reduce the influence of Republican leader and LGBT rights opponent Rep John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Former Rep. Frank expands on the core reasons to not elect Tisei:

"I do believe it is very important to support gay and lesbian candidates. But the notion that we will tell an incumbent who has been absolutely perfect on gay, lesbian, bisexual [and] transgender issues — absolutely perfect — that perfection will do no good because he has sex with the wrong person, [that] is the antithesis of what we should be fighting for."

Concise and whip-smart as ever, but that's Barney Frank for you.

Frank's sentiment is echoed by the incumbent Rep. Tierney. While he would like to have more pro-gay Republcans in Congress, Tierney points out that electing them in the current political climate would have little effect.

"[Pro-gay Republicans aren't] allowed to even vote on the matter [of LGBT rights]. They don't get an opportunity. So you need to change the majority to have the matter brought up," he said. "We have currently a Congress that is going nowhere, slowly, under John Boehner."

[h/t HuffPo]


Tuesday Speed Read: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Wendy Davis, Massachusetts, Medicare

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

CrabbWISCONSIN MARRIAGES CONTINUE:

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb denied a motion Monday from the Wisconsin attorney general for a stay in her June 6 ruling that the state ban on same-sex couples marrying is unconstitutional. But in an odd twist, Crabb told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “I never said anything about whether any county clerk could go forward and issue a marriage license. That hasn't been decided." Crabb’s June 6 decision in Wolf v. Walker indicated she would issue an order later this month concerning enforcement of her ruling. But clerks in about half the counties around Wisconsin began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last Friday. The next hearing for the case is June 19.

GaffneyLONE CLERK SEEKS PENNSYLVANIA APPEAL:

Taking a cue from a county clerk in Virginia, a county clerk in Pennsylvania petitioned a federal court judge Friday to allow her to appeal the judge’s decision striking the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. Judge John Jones III issued his opinion in Whitewood v. Wolf on May 20, and Republican Governor Tom Corbett said he would not appeal. Private attorneys filed both the motion to intervene and a motion to stay Jones’ ruling on behalf of Theresa Santai-Gaffney, register of wills for Schuylkill County.

CorbettMAJORITY AGREES ON CORBETT NON-APPEAL:

A poll showed that 56 percent of 835 Pennsylvania registered voters agreed with Republican Governor Tom Corbett’s decision not to appeal a federal district court opinion striking down the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. The poll, by Public Policy Polling, was conducted May 30 to June 1, just one week after Corbett announced he would not appeal the decision. According to realclearpolitics.com, Corbett has been trailing his Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by more than 20 points in various polls. Wolf’s campaign website prominently touts his support for marriage equality.

2_davisWENDY DAVIS WOULD SIGN EXECUTIVE ORDER:

Texas’ Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis told reporter John Wright in the Observer last week that she would be willing to sign an executive order to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, though she suggested the governor’s power to implement such an order is fairly limited. Davis has been running about 12 points behind Republican attorney general Greg Abbott in the race, according to realclearpolitics.com.

HealeyMASSACHUSETTS AG POLL MOSTLY UNDECIDED:

Lesbian attorney Maura Healey held a three-point lead over former state Senator Warren Tolman in a recent poll for the Massachusetts Democratic primary for attorney general. The June 4-7 Suffolk University poll surveyed 450 likely primary voters and had a plus-or-minus 3.5 margin of error.  It showed Healey, in her first electoral run, with 21 percent, and Tolman with 18 percent. But the vast majority of respondents, 59 percent, said they were “undecided.” Two percent refused to answer. Male voters are split between the two; but women voters are leaning Healey.

NO MORE AUTOMATIC DENIALS:

MedicareAn administrative appeals board at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ruled recently that automatic denial of Medicare coverage for transsexual surgery as a treatment “is not valid under the ‘reasonableness standard’.” The ruling means transgender people seeking treatment for gender dysphoria will be able to have their applications for coverage considered “just like anyone seeking coverage for any other medical treatment,” noted a joint statement from GLAD, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the ACLU. The HHS Departmental Appeals Board decision was made in an appeal from an “aggrieved party.” ABC News identified the person as a 74-year-old Army veteran who said she hopes to spend the rest of her life “in congruence and not distress.”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Massachusetts GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Touts Relationship with Gay Brother in New Ad: VIDEO

Baker

Charlie Baker, a Republican candidate for the Massachusetts governor's office being vacated by retiring Governor Deval Patrick, touts his relationship with his gay brother Alex in a new ad which tells the story of how Alex came out to him, the Boston Globe reports:

That conversation, along with a video of the pair that Charlie Baker’s gubernatorial campaign released Thursday, are key components in the Baker campaign’s efforts to recalibrate his public image, presenting the GOP candidate in softer — and, his advisers would say, more genuine — tones.

That contrasts with the harder-edged image Charlie Baker projected in his failed 2010 bid for governor, when he sometimes seemed more interested in tough fiscal policies than connecting with voters.

The release of the video of the Baker brothers coincides with Saturday’s 10-year anniversary of the first gay weddings in Massachusetts and the nation, a landmark date for social liberals. It helps Charlie Baker distance himself from the socially conservative wing of the Republican Party, appealing to independents who are critical to his success in the November election.

Some unmoved LGBT advocates tell the Globe that Baker was unwilling to take a stronger position on marriage equality in 2004 when it was needed, even though Baker knew his brother was gay at the time.

Watch the ad, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Massachusetts GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Touts Relationship with Gay Brother in New Ad: VIDEO" »


Massachusetts Governor Signs Anti-Bullying Bill Into Law Strengthening Protections for LGBT Students

Patrick

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick today signed an anti-bullying bill into law strengthening protections for LGBT students and students with disabilities, the Boston Herald reports.

GLSEN applauded the law:

“As the 17th state to pass inclusive anti-bullying legislation, Massachusetts is sending an impactful message to its LGBT youth,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director. “LGBT students in Massachusetts can feel confident their educators are committed to providing them with the safe and inclusive school environments they deserve. GLSEN looks forward to the day when every student in every school in the country can feel just as supported.”

H. 3909, “An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools,” will update existing anti-bullying legislation by requiring every district to include specific protections in their bullying prevention plan recognizing frequently targeted groups, including LGBT youth.

The legislation will also implement two key methods of tracking incidences of bullying: a student survey to be conducted every four years gathering information about school safety and climate, and a data collection and reporting mechanism allowing officials to better measure and evaluate the impact of anti-bullying efforts.

The Massachusetts House and Senate approved the bill in February and March, respectively. Gov. Patrick, a longtime supporter of bullying prevention initiatives such as a limited 2010 law designed to help educators report, prevent and address bullying, signed the bill in a ceremony today.

(image via twitter senator sonia chang-diaz)


Massachusetts Lawmaker Announces He is HIV-Positive, Resigns to Run AIDS Charity

Sciortino

Out gay Massachusetts State Representative Carl Sciortino (above, right), who made headlines last November in an ad in which he came out to his Tea Party father as a Massachusetts liberal one month after marrying his partner Pem Brown, announced he's resigning from his office in the state's 34th Middlesex District. 

Sciortino said he's HIV-positive, and plans to lead Massachusetts' AIDS Action Committee:

“As a gay man living with HIV, I am honored to lead one of the country’s oldest and most effective organizations in the battle against this disease which has raged on over 30 years,” said Sciortino. “My goal for AIDS Action in the years ahead is simple: continue the work that has resulted in lowering the rate of new HIV diagnoses in Massachusetts; provide the multitude of services needed to keep those living with HIV/AIDS connected with health care providers; and continue the public conversation about HIV needed to reduce the stigma that is still so closely associated with this disease.”


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