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District Of Columbia Council Approves Bill Protecting LGBT Youth From Conversion Therapy

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The District of Columbia Council unanimously approved a bill today that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth from the unhealthy and discredited practice of conversion therapy reports the National Center For Lesbian RightsUpon the signing of the bill, Washington, D.C., will become the third jurisdiction-after California and New Jersey-to ban the deranged practice of conversion therapy that often leads to depression and suicide in its "patients." Samantha Ames, the NCLR staff attorney and coordinator of the #BornPerfect campaign at NCLR, commended the council's decision.

Said Ames:

"Today, the D.C. Council sent a powerful message to LGBT youth and their families that they are accepted, supported, and loved.

"The Council has used its authority to protect our most vulnerable youth from dangerous and discredited pseudoscience that tells them who they are is wrong, and reaffirmed the consensus of every major medical and mental health organization that all children are born perfect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity."

NCLR and the Human Rights Campaign collaborated on organizing a coalition that backed the bill, which was authored by Democratic Councilmember Mary M. Cheh. Several groups supported the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, including national LGBT and mental health organizations, youth advocates, religious faith leaders, civil rights organizations and reproductive justice groups. 

Support for the repeal of the practice is mounting as the United Nations Committee Against Torture called the dangerous therapy "troubling," when they convened last month, and questioned the U.S. Department of State representatives asking why the unviable treatment is still in practice. Even former practitioners of the therapy are condemning its use, including Exodus International co-founder Michael Bussee, who called the practice "Poison to the soul," along with eight other prominent ex-gay leaders. 


NCLR Asks Supreme Court to Review 6th Circuit Ruling Upholding Tennessee's Gay Marriage Ban

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Following on the heels of a similar petition by the ACLU and Lambda Legal earlier today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights has asked the Supreme Court to take up the Sixth's Circuit's anti-equality ruling.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal request deals with Ohio's gay marriage ban while the NCLR's centers on Tennessee's ban.

Background on the case, courtesy of NCLR

On October 21, 2013, NCLR filed a lawsuit on behalf of three legally married same-sex couples, challenging Tennessee laws that prevent the state from respecting their marriages and treating them the same as all other legally married couples in Tennessee. To prevent the plaintiff couples from continuing to be harmed by Tennessee’s laws, a federal district court in Nashville, Tennessee ruled on March 14, 2014 that Tennessee officials must recognize the couples’ marriages while their lawsuit is pending. The state appealed that ruling.

Read the petition below:


National Center for Lesbian Rights #BornPerfect Campaign Is Fighting Conversion Therapy

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The National Center for Lesbian Rights’s #BornPerfect campaign wants to combat queer conversion therapy here in the U.S. The team behind the effort consists of child welfare experts and mental health specialists who launched the campaign in hopes of exposing some of the more nuanced problems that conversion therapy can cause.

Samantha Ames, an attorney for the NCLR, is heading up the initiative. Through #BornPerfect, the NCLR aims to raise awareness about conversion therapy, and working in over a dozen states to roll out laws--similar to California’s--that criminalize the practice

“The time is long overdue for the United States to address the severe harms inflicted on young LGBT people and their families by purveyors of these dangerous and discredited practices,” Ames said in a press release. “Persuading the Committee Against Torture to take up the issue of conversion therapy on the international stage has the potential to save the lives of countless LGBT youth in the United States and around the world.”


As ACLU, GLAD, Lambda Legal, NCLR, and Transgender Law Center Pull Support for ENDA, HRC Holds On

Following this morning's statement that the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) dropped their support for ENDA, four more major LGBT rights organizations have followed suit.

Via the ACLU: Aclu

The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that it is withdrawing its support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a statement also signed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Transgender Law Center. The ACLU objects to a provision in the bill that would allow religiously affiliated employers to continue to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"Federal legislation to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination is way beyond overdue, but Congress has no place giving religiously affiliated employers a license to discriminate against LGBT workers," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office. "We can no longer support a bill that treats LGBT discrimination as different and somehow more legitimate than other forms of discrimination."

President Obama has announced his intention to sign an executive order that would ban discrimination against LGBT people employed by federal contractors. The ACLU opposes any inclusion of a discrimination exemption in this executive order.

Read their statement HERE.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign continues to support the troubling, flawed piece of legislation.

Said HRC Vice President Fred Sainz in an email: "HRC supports ENDA because it will provide essential workplace protections to millions of LGBT people."

In related news, 45 LGBT groups have written a letter to President Obama asking him to ensure that the executive order he has promised to sign barring anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors "not contain any exemption beyond what is provided by the Constitution and Title VII."


Lesbian Veteran Files Lawsuit To Be Buried With Late Wife in Military Cemetery: VIDEO

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The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and attorneys Deborah A. Ferguson and Craig Durham filed a lawsuit yesterday on behalf of military veteran Madelynn Lee Taylor to grant her burial rights in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery where her late spouse Jean Mixner’s ashes have already been laid to rest.

Cemetery employees denied Taylor’s request last year because Idaho state law prohibits recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages.

In a statement, Taylor said “Idaho is where some of our best memories together are and it’s where I want to spend eternity with Jean."

The lawsuit argues that the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

On May 13th, U.S. District Magistrate Candy Dale struck down Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage.

However, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has placed a stay on the ruling following an appeal from Idaho Governor Butch Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

Arguments in the case are set for September 8.

Read Taylor's 15-page lawsuit here.

Watch Taylor's story, which we posted last April, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lesbian Veteran Files Lawsuit To Be Buried With Late Wife in Military Cemetery: VIDEO" »


NCLR Launches Nationwide Campaign to Protect LGBT Youth from Harmful ‘Reparative Therapy’

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Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) launched #BornPerfect: The Campaign to End Conversion Therapy – an initiative that seeks to eliminate the practice of so-called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy through increased public awareness and the passage of laws across the country to protect LGBT kids from the serious harm caused by these practices.

NCLR_logo“The time is long overdue to stop the severe harms being inflicted on young LGBT children and their families by these dangerous practices,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “These practices have been thoroughly discredited by every major mental health organization, and yet, every day, unethical therapists continue to abuse their professional authority to deceive parents and wreck the lives of youth who deserve nothing but support.”

The campaign also includes facts about conversion therapy and its harm, information about related legislation and legal cases across the country, as well as survivor stories and support networks.

As a Texan watching our state's GOP enshrine reparative therapy into its party platform while our governor likens homosexuality to alcoholism, I can't think of a better time to push forward the message to LGBT youth that they are perfect just the way they are.   

More on the NCLR campaign here


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