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Conway, Arkansas Approves LGBT Rights Ordinance Despite Discriminatory New State Law

Arkansas

Following a 6-2 vote Tuesday by the city council, city employees of Conway, Arkansas can (for the time being) go to work with the assurance that they can’t be fired for their sexuality or gender identity. Conway mayor Tab Townsell threw his full support behind the decision to extend protections to the town’s LGBT population despite many of his more conservative constituents voicing concern for their religious liberties.

Mark Ledbetter and Mary Smith, the two council members who opposed the new protections, expressed their belief that the public had not been given adequate time to fully appreciate the implications of heightened job security for Conway’s queer workforce.

Conway’s move to legally protect its LGBT employees comes just days after Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson allowed SB 202 to become law - legislation that expressly forbids local town governments from enacting pro-LGBT policies like Conway’s. Specifically SB 202 requires that:

“A county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state shall not adopt or enforce an ordinance, resolution, rule, or policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.”

The law is set to go into effect 90 days after the state Legislature formally adjourns, which is currently set for May. After that, Conway's ordinance will no longer protect LGBT folks. 

One of the chief concerns raised by opponents of SB 202 was the chilling effect that sanctioning discrimination against queer workers might have on the local economy. Following Hutchinson’s decision representatives from Tyson Foods and Walmart both spoke out on behalf of their companies, expressing their disagreement with the law.

Outcry from large LGBT advocacy organizations like the HRC were conspicuously missing immediately after SB 202 went into effect, prompting Michael Signorile to claim social “malpractice.” Not seizing upon any and all opportunities to draw attention to these kinds of injustices, Signorile reasoned, was irresponsible and linked to a broader sense of gay complacency:

“And it's part of the right's plan to roll back LGBT rights while many LGBT people become complacent or apathetic, buying into this idea that full civil rights are inevitable, pointing, for example, to polling about young people being more accepting, and, well, doing pretty much what many women foolishly did in the early years of the backlash against women's liberation.”

HRC President Chad Griffin soon issued an official statement after widespread criticism for his organization's silence on the developments in Arkansas:

"I’m proud to call Arkansas my home state—the place where my entire extended family has lived for years. I know these bills do not reflect the Arkansas values.

They certainly do not reflect this state’s commitment to growing a 21st Century economy that attracts good paying jobs—and to guaranteeing a business climate that welcomes everyone who is willing to work hard and build a better future for themselves and for their community. These kinds of political attacks have been rejected by Republicans and Democrats all across this country. Let’s not let Arkansas be dragged backward by an unrepresentative minority."


WATCH: Trailer For Malcolm Ingram’s New LGBT Sports Documentary ‘Out To Win’

Out to win

The teaser trailer for acclaimed film Director Malcolm Ingram’s new LGBT documentary Out to Win, which provides insight into the lives of LGBT athletes, is now available on the web reports Out. The documentary examines the lives and careers of professional and aspiring LGBT athletes from around the world including interviews with Martina Navratilova, Charline Labonté, Conner Mertens, Billie Jean King, Jason Collins, Wade Davis, David Kopay, John Amaechi and Brittney Griner.

Ingram is known for several LGBT documentaries he directed including Continental and Small Town Gay Bar, which was a huge hit with critics at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006.

Out in Film debuts at SXSW in Austin, Texas next month. Watch the trailer, which features brief but enlightening clips from interviews with various LGBT athletes, AFTER THE JUMP

Continue reading "WATCH: Trailer For Malcolm Ingram’s New LGBT Sports Documentary ‘Out To Win’" »


Trans Former SEAL Team 6 Member Kristin Beck Talks Chelsea Manning, Trans Troops, and Her Run for Congress: VIDEO

Beck

Kristin Beck, the former Navy Seal who was a member of the elite Seal Team 6 and came out as transgender in her book Warrior Princess in 2013, sat down with Thomas Roberts on Out There this week to discuss why she is planning to run against Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House Minority Whip, in 2016. 

Beck also addressed the military's recent approval of Chelsea Manning's hormone treatment - with Beck stressing that while she supports the military's move, she continues to see Manning as more of a criminal than whistleblower (Beck has in the past called Manning "a traitor to me personally").

Later, Beck was asked to give her thoughts on Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's statement earlier this week that transgender troops should be allowed to serve.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Trans Former SEAL Team 6 Member Kristin Beck Talks Chelsea Manning, Trans Troops, and Her Run for Congress: VIDEO" »


Kentucky Senate Panel Approves Discriminatory Transgender Bathroom Bill

Kentucky Senate meeting

What is with the anti-trans crowd's obsession with bathrooms? Do they think trans kids are all Eric Cartman, sticking a bow on their head and faking it to get some nefarious need met?

This past Monday the Kentucky Senate Education Committee revisited and approved Senate Bill 76 in an 8-1 vote in an attempt to force transgender students to use the bathroom at their school that matches their biological sex rather than their gender identification. In a particularly shady move, the committee kept its agenda for Monday in perpetual "Pending" status and no mention of the bill was ever made to the public until it was brought up at the meeting.

Opponents called the bill "mean-spirited" and contended that it may violate federal law governing the equal treatment of male and female students. Proponents claim that transgender rights are being elevated above student rights and that they don't feel comfortable with trans students using the "wrong" bathroom.

The Republican-led Senate is expected to approve the bill and pass it on to the Democratic-controlled House.


North Carolina Conservatives Relying On Transphobic Robocalls To Defeat Non-Discrimination Ordinance

750px-Flag_of_North_Carolina.svgThough North Carolina Family Action claims to be a nonpartisan, “research and education” organization, the group has been actively engaged in a harmful, discriminatory robocall campaign spreading misinformation in an attempt to defeat an upcoming LGBT non-discrimination ordinance. 

The calls, which have been going out to thousands of voters living in Charlotte, claim that supporting the ordinance will lead to policy changes that will allow men and women to use the opposite sex’s bathrooms. The messaging is a transphobic attempt to instill fear of a law that would, in actuality, block public establishments from refusing patrons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In those instances where people were harassed or denied service, they would be able to file complaints with some hope of legal recourse.

“This does not allow men to go into women’s bathrooms or women to go into men’s,” said Scott Bishop, chairman of the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee, told the Charlotte Observer. “Transgender women are women, and transgender men are men. … That’s where the misunderstanding is – who transgender people are. A lot of public education needs to take place.”

Opponents to the ordinance plan to gather at a rally next week and are already working themselves into a delusional frenzy claiming that transgender people will be uniquely positioned to become sexual predators should the law be put into effect. The fervency with which the law’s opponents are attacking North Carolina’s queer community, explained Charlotte Business Guild president Chad Sevearance, is a diversionary tactic that could ultimately hurt the state economically.

“Fortune 500 companies believe that LGBT (employees) are the best and the brightest,” Sevearance told the Observer. “(Before coming to Charlotte), they’ll be looking at how their people are going to be protected from discrimination.”


'Conservative Southern Baptist' Mom Talks About Her Family's Campaign For Trans Acceptance: VIDEO

Trans

Debi Jackson, a self-described “conservative southern Baptist” from Alabama and mother of a transgender child, has spoken to GLAAD about her campaign to encourage others to accept trans children.

Last year, Jackson spoke publicly about her daughter as well as the parental intolerance and ignorant questions raised by others who blame Debi for her daughter’s transition.

Jackson and her husband became activists when their desire to support their child evolved into a wider goal to spread understanding and awareness of trans issues throughout society, regardless of religious or political affiliation.

Watch the interview with GLAAD - published as part of the #GotYourBack campaign - AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "'Conservative Southern Baptist' Mom Talks About Her Family's Campaign For Trans Acceptance: VIDEO" »


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