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Amnesty International 'Disappointed' In Ireland's Current Draft of Trans Bill

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Amnesty International and LGBT activists in Ireland are disappointed in the current draft of a new bill that recognizes transgender identities, but requires them to jump through several bureaucratic hoops just to do so reports Pink News. If passed, the bill will legally recognize transgender identities in dealings with the State, public bodies, civil and commercial society. AI and LGBT activists are grateful that the Irish government is attempting to validate transgender identities however, the process to do so is rather harmful.

The bill forces married transgender people to divorce in order to gain gender recognition, in accordance with the country’s ban on same-sex marriage. Additionally while the bill allows for 16 and 17-year-olds to obtain legal gender recognition, they require a court order and parental consent to do so, which campaigners warn could cause further harm. Denis Krivosheev of AI believes the bill needs heavy revision.

Said Krivosheev:

Krivosheev"This bill will require substantial changes if it is to tackle the serious issue of discrimination against transgender people. Rather than making it as easy as possible for all transgender people to obtain legal recognition of their identity, there are several groups that will be short-changed by the bill – in particular those who are married or in civil partnerships, minors, and those who do not wish to undergo medical treatment.

"The bill completely overlooks the needs of those who may wish to remain married, or who are going through divorce proceedings, while obtaining legal recognition of their gender. This is a violation of their human rights.

"Instead, the bill cruelly forces transgender people to separate from their loved one – and then spend years in limbo without either a partner or the legal recognition of their identity."

Meanwhile, the Irish government has announced that a referendum on same-sex marriage will take place next May. 


Anti-Gay Pastors Launch Effort To Repeal LGBT Non-discrimination Ordinance In Plano, Texas

Plano

Last week we reported that a Houston-based anti-LGBT group planned a petition drive to repeal the non-discrimination ordinance passed by the Plano City Council earlier this month. 

Now, opponents of the ordinance have launched a website, PlanoEqualRights.com, dedicated to gathering signatures to place the ordinance on the ballot.

A group of 80 pastors opposed to the ordinance reportedly held an emergency meeting this week at Plano's Prestonwood Baptist Church, an evangelical megachurch that's also known as "Six Flags Over Jesus." 

The Houston-based Texas Pastor Council, led by anti-gay bigot Dave Welch (pictured below), reports

WelchDr. Jack Graham, Senior Pastor of Prestonwood opened the meeting with full support of the effort, calling the city’s rapid vote (same night as the first hearing) “doing business in darkness”.  He expressed appreciation for TXPC Executive Director Dave Welch taking the initiative to organize the pastor meeting as well as the stand of the Houston pastors.

Jeff Mateer of Liberty Institute gave a legal analysis of why the Plano ordinance and others like it are a direct offense against First Amendments of religious belief, expression and “free exercise”. Dave Welch then closed the meeting with the “how to” of the referendum petition process.  He explained that since Plano and Houston City Charter requirements for qualifying a referendum are nearly identical, the critical steps of signature gathering and having notarized are likewise the same so they could benefit from our experience.

Of course, the group's petition in Houston was rejected by the city due to invalid signatures, resulting in a lawsuit. According to the Texas Pastor Council, the Plano petition will need 3,822 signatures by Jan. 20 to qualify for the ballot. 

The repeal website, under the banner "Plano Citizens United: Equal Rights For All/Special Rights For None," hilariously contains a typo in the First Amendment (above) and states:

Under Plano's new "Equal Rights Ordinance" (ERO) anything any business owner or employee says or does to another person regarding the person's gender, sexuality, or "identity" may be a CRIME.  Plano now CRIMINALIZES Christians', Jews', Muslims', and others' beliefs about men and women.  City bureaucrats will determine whether citizens' statements and actions are "unjust".  This policy subjects citizens to CRIMINAL SANCTIONS for our beliefs on topics affecting much of human interaction and is a direct threat to our freedoms of both speech and religion!

Meanwhile, the Plano ordinance continues to draw heavy criticism from transgender advocates, due to exemptions for nonprofit organizations as well as for restrooms and similar facilities.

The Transgender Education Network of Texas said in a press release this week:

We, the staff and board of Transgender Education Network of Texas are of mixed reaction in regard to news in Plano, Texas about the passage of a NonDiscrimination ordinance. On the one hand, taking steps towards treating all city employees in a fair and just manner based on merits rather than preconceived ideas and prejudice is an act worthy of respect. On the other hand, implementing provisions into that same ordinance allowing nonprofits to continue practicing bigotry in providing services severely undercuts any advance possibly made. ...

We are left wondering, what is the real intent of Plano's NonDiscrimination ordinance? To look good on paper, but really do nothing or to just disguise better the injustice already being done?  

UPDATE: Check out this hateful flier that opponents of the ordinance have been posting on residents' doors: 

Flier


Justice Department Will Now Back Claims Of Anti-Trans Discrimination Under Title VII

Holder

Speaking on behalf of the Department of Justice yesterday, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder clarified the department’s new official position on anti-trans discrimination being encompassed within Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Previously the department refused to recognize discrimination against transgender individuals as as a form of bias based upon sex, which Title VII forbids. The department’s opinion of what constitutes sex-based discrimination, Holder explained, will now encompass gender identity.

“This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” Holder elaborated. “This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants. And it reaffirms the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”

The Department of Justice has virtually stopped challenging discrimination claims filed by federal transgender employees under Title VII. Holder, however, made a point of detailing the department’s rather recent history of being uncooperative in its handling of those claims it did receive. Going forward, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will be able to file claims under Title VII against both state and local employers accused of anti-trans discrimination.

NCLR responds:

“We applaud Attorney General Holder and the Department of Justice for taking this principled stand to ensure that all Americans benefit from the protections of our nation’s anti-discrimination laws,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter. “This is a huge step forward for transgender litigants and will have an extremely positive impact in cases involving discrimination against transgender employees. The Department of Justice has placed the full weight of its authority as our nation’s lawyers behind the principled position that transgender people are fully protected under Title VII and other federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination." 

Back in April, the U.S. Department of Education issued a similar guidance clarifying that Title IX law protects transgender students from discrimination. 


Appeals Court Denies Gender Reassignment For Trans Prisoner: VIDEO

  Michelle Kosilek

The full First Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a ruling that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must provide an incarcerated transgender woman with medically-necessary gender reassignment surgery, reports Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

The Court of Appeals issued an initial ruling in January upholding an earlier finding that the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) engaged in a pattern of “pretense, pretext and prevarication” to deny Michelle Kosilek (above) treatment against the recommendations of multiple doctors, including those hired by the DOC itself. Born Robert Kosilek, Michelle Kosilek is serving a life sentence for the murder of her wife Cheryl (below, right) in 1990.

Cheryl KosilekThe latest decision was divided with a 3-2 majority and two sharply worded dissents.

Predicting that the case will not stand the test of time, Judge Thompson wrote:

“I am confident that I would not need to pen this dissent, over twenty years after Kosilek’s quest for constitutionally adequate medical care began, were she not seeking a treatment that many see as strange or immoral. Prejudice and fear of the unfamiliar have undoubtedly played a role in this matter’s protraction.”

Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLAD, said:

“I am appalled by this decision, which means that Michelle Kosilek will continue to be denied the life-saving medical care she needs and has been seeking for years.  

"It is difficult or impossible to imagine a decision like this one – that second-guesses every factual determination made by the trial court – in the context of any other prisoner health care case.  

"This decision is a testament to how much work remains to be done to get transgender people’s health care needs on par with others in the general public.

“There is no scientific or medical basis for denying transgender people their health care needs. The consensus position of the medical community is that surgery may sometimes be essential treatment.”

Watch a report on a television interview with Kosilek, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Appeals Court Denies Gender Reassignment For Trans Prisoner: VIDEO" »


Trans-Rights Activists Expect Swift Change on Military Service

RobinsonThough significant inroads have been made with lesbian, gay, and bisexual members of the U.S. military, there are still no technical protections on the books for service members who identify as transgender. Advocates like Allyson Robinson, however, are confident that the organizations like the Air Force are primed to set off a new trend in light of comments made by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. Earlier this month Secretary James encouraged a review of the Air Force’s current policies that prohibit transgender members from serving:

“I would be shocked if Secretary Hagel doesn’t take just a moment in the weeks that he has left in office to make good on a promise that he made to the troops. He needs to order the review,” said Robinson. “We have their commitment to do that — we have the commitment of Secretary Hagel himself to review these policies. And, I should add, I am aware, from my conversations with leaders at the Pentagon, that the secretary views this, views those words, as a promise, as a commitment to the service members.”

Officially the White House has yet to release a position on whether or not trans-identified individuals are welcomed in the armed forces. When asked however, spokespeople for the White House pointed Buzzfeed to the Department of Defense.

“I can confirm that for you that no review of the department’s policy has been ordered,” asserted Pentagon spokesman Nate Christensen. He later guided the press to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s comments to The Washington Post this past May on Private Chelsea Manning in reference to his current thinking on the trans-service issue.

“I think that this period of Secretary Hagel — sort of, lame-duck period — represents that best opportunity that we’ve had so far to get [significant change] done,” Robinson explained, pointing to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s action on same-sex benefits at the end of his military career.

“He did that, I think primarily, because he felt it was his responsibility to take care of his troops. He also did it out of a sense of collegiality to the person who was going to follow him. He took, what were seen by some as difficult or contentious issues, and took them off the table so that his successor would be able to start with a clean slate.”


Texas Business Owner Puts Up Sign Saying 'The GLBT Agenda Is Bad For America,' Prompting Gay Employee To Quit: VIDEO

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The proprietor of a Texas animal clinic has put up a sign outside his business saying, "The GLBT agenda is bad for America." 

Jody Kincaid put up the sign outside the Anthony Animal Clinic in Anthony, Texas, just north of El Paso. KFOX Channel 14 reports: 

"People have the right to be gay, and I would protect that in anyone's life," Kincaid said. "At the same time, the gay movement has no business coming into a business and saying you have to do business the way we tell you."

The Anthony veterinarian said he was only practicing his freedom of speech.

"The messages I put up are part of everyone's First Amendment," Kincaid said.

The sign has prompted an openly gay employee at the clinic, Nick Diaz, to quit his job, KFOX reports: 

"It just made me very sad that he would put a sign, an anti-gay sign, knowing that I'm an openly gay person and it would hurt my feelings," Diaz said.

Diaz said that same day Kincaid had talked to him about how his performance had been slipping at work. But Diaz said the message on the marquee is the reason he quit.

"My decision to leave was due to me feeling pretty much discriminated and sad to be at a place I felt not welcomed," Diaz said.

According to its website, the Anthony Animal Clinic offers "quality health care for both pets and people" — and specializes in holistic and homeopathic medicine, including herbs, acupuncture and nutrition. 

Kincaid is of course correct that he has every right to put the sign.

However, 21 states have laws barring business owners from turning away customers based on their sexual orientation, and courts have upheld them.

Unfortunately, Texas isn't one of them. Texas also doesn't have a law prohibiting anti-gay job discrimination, meaning Diaz likely can't sue Kincaid in state court.  

Several cities in Texas have added LGBT protections, prompting Republican state lawmakers to file "license to discriminate" bills that would undermine them. 

The key question is whether Kincaid thinks it should be legal for businesses to turn away blacks. And indeed, the most telling part of the KFOX report may be when it briefly shows the opposite side of his sign, which reads, "Why is our leader promoting racism?"

In case you're wondering, the Anthony Animal Clinic's Facebook page is here

Watch KFOX's report, AFTER THE JUMP... 

Continue reading "Texas Business Owner Puts Up Sign Saying 'The GLBT Agenda Is Bad For America,' Prompting Gay Employee To Quit: VIDEO" »


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