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Russia Moves to Ban Same-Sex Marriage for Trans People: VIDEO

Aleksey Zhuravlyov

Earlier this week, Russian politicians introduced draft legislation that would ban same-sex marriage, including cases involving trans people, reports Buzzfeed.

Irina ShumilovaWhile same-sex marriage is already illegal in Russia, the new law aims to close a loophole that allowed Irina Shumilova and Alyona Fursova (right) to marry in St. Petersburg last November.

Although Shumilova identifies as a transgender woman, she is still male according to her passport.

The new bill is sponsored by Aleksey Zhuravlyov (above), Dmitry Gorovtsov and Anatloy Greshnevikov who argue that the measure is necessary to protect traditional family values.

In 2013, Zhuravlev introduced a bill that would strip gay parents of their children on the grounds that homosexual parents cause "more harm than an orphanage".

In January, the country introduced a law banning transgender people from driving.

Watch a Channel 4 report on Russia’s anti-gay laws, AFTER THE JUMP

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Can Eureka Springs, Arkansas Buck Recent Trend Of Voters Repealing LGBT Protections?

Eureka

Voters in Eureka Springs, Arkansas — known as "the gay capital of the Ozarks" — will decide today whether to repeal the town's LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. 

The Eureka Springs City Council hurriedly approved the ordinance in February, hours after the Arkansas Senate passed a bill prohibiting cities from adding classes to nondiscrimination ordinances that aren't included in state law.  

Council members in the gay-friendly enclave hoped to send a message to state lawmakers and set up a possible future court challenge to the law. However, opponents of the Eureka Springs ordinance gathered the 96 signatures needed to place a repeal on the ballot. Even if the ordinance is upheld, the city will no longer enforce it after July 20, when the state law takes effect.  

Nevertheless, today's vote has plenty of symbolic significance and has drawn national attention. In addition to its designation as "the gay capital of the Ozarks," Eureka Springs is overlooked by the 66-foot-tall "Christ of the Ozarks" statue, the site of a play depicting Jesus' final days. 

The Associated Press reported this weekend: 

CHristOpponents of the ordinance argue it's another step in a direction that they say threatens the future of the Great Passion Play, a seasonal outdoor production that draws about 50,000 people a year to a campus that includes a Bible museum and the statue of Jesus.

Randall Christy, the play's chief executive officer, has been among the most vocal opponents of the ordinance, arguing it would unnecessarily split the town and force churches to perform same-sex weddings.

"They have divided this city," Christy said.

But supporters of the ordinance say the pro-repeal campaign is one doing the dividing with a campaign they say is preying on voters' fears. Signs hung on residents' doorknobs urge voters to "keep our daughters safe in Eureka Springs bathrooms" and argue that sexual predators would use the law to falsely claim they're transgender.

The divide in Eureka Springs was evident last month when a pro-LGBT church was excluded from a "Celebrate Jesus Easter Parade." 

If voters uphold the ordinance, they will buck a recent trend in the region. Voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri, have recently repealed LGBT protections. 

More from the AP

Mayor Robert "Butch" Berry, who supports the ordinance, said he believes his town eventually will come together.

"It doesn't matter which side of the fence you're on, let those without sin cast the first stone," Berry said in Biblical terms. "There's been a lot of stones cast."


'Q' Wants To Be The First Social Network For Queer-Identified Folks: VIDEO

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Q, the new social network developed by Eric Cervini, wants to do away with the left-swipe. As apps like Grindr and Tinder have come to changed the way that we date and interact with one another, online dating has become something akin to a digital meat market. Q, as Cervini’s Kickstarter describes, envisions a different future for romantic, virtual connections. Rather than separating its users by gender identity and sexuality indiscriminately, Q promises to be the first social network for people who explicitly identify as queer.

Q“Right now, the largest gay app prevents access to everyone but men, and it has an irrevocable license “to reproduce, distribute, [and] publicly display” everything we share. It’s exclusive, and it invades our privacy—we deserve better,” Cervini expressed via the project’s Kickstarter page. “That’s why I’ve created Q, a community-driven social networking app for humans - of all genders and sexual orientations - who identify as queer.”

Q wants to incorporate all of the progressive measures that companies like Facebook have implemented as they’ve worked to become more inclusive spaces for queer people. Where networking apps like Grindr and Scruff have generally limited their users to identifying as male, Q aims to be open and accessible to all people regardless of their gender identities.

Cervini’s project is looking to raise some $25,000 and as of the publishing of this post his Kickstarter has raised nearly $4,000. If you’re interested in bringing the first queer-positive social networking app to market then click through here, and let us know if a service like Q is something you think is worth investing in the comments AFTER THE JUMP...

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Virginia's Largest School District Now Protects Trans Students and Employees From Discrimination

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Virginia's Fairfax County School Board passed an amendment on Thursday that protects transgender students, staff and faculty from discrimination reports BuzzFeed. Fairfax's decision upsets a trend set by two other school districts in Virginia that banned trans students from using single-sex facilities that match their gender identity.

Fairfax is the largest school system in Virginia with more than 186,000 students. School board member Ryan McElveen, a proponent behind the amendment, said the proposal is designed to bring a "new age of respect," for transgender individuals.

Said McElveen:

"Whenever we make a decision, it has bearing on state and national policy, and we are hoping this will bring a new age of respect and valuing of transgender and gender-nonconforming students and employees.

"We have never had a single complaint about a student's restroom use, sports team participation, or transgender staff raised to our level (on the school board), and I think that proves we have handled our cases successfully. Our policy is not changing our practices."

However, the passage of the amendment proved contentious when opponents and supporters of the amendment crowded the meeting room, with opponents attempting to frame the debate around whether the amendment would "let boys snoop in girls' restrooms." Debates between the two groups proved so acrimonious that security was called to mitigate the tension between them.


Vox Takes You Inside the Experiences, Dreams and Doubts of A Transgender Woman: VIDEO

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Despite the successful, thought provoking stories of notable trans people like Janet Mock and Bruce Jenner, the everyday trans person faces a starkly different reality. Vox filmed a short vignette around trans woman Lily Carollo, 23, of Burbank, California who despite receiving familial support and having come to full terms with her identity, still finds herself facing everyday challenges and doubts.

Watch Carollo thoughtfully describe her experiences, dreams, doubts and fears using her love for Star Trek and The Beach Boys as a few examples, AFTER THE JUMP

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Miley Cyrus Announces Launch Of Foundation To Support Homeless LGBT Youth

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(Photo via Instagram)

Singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus announced this week that she's launching the Happy Hippie Foundation to support homeless and LGBT youth reports the AP. Cyrus said the death of trans teen Leelah Alcorn and Bruce Jenner's coming out as trans spurred her to use the fame and attention she receives and re-direct it into a good cause:

"The position I'm in, I feel like I've got a lot of power. But so many kids don't feel that way. They're under their parents' rule.

"When you have all eyes on you, what are you saying? And that's what I had to ask myself a lot. It's like, I know you're going to look at me more if my (breasts) are out, so look at me. And then I'm going to tell you about my foundation for an hour and totally hustle you."

Cyrus generated media attention when she brought a homeless man as her date to the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, where he accepted an award on the singer's behalf. In the AP interview, Cyrus revealed that not all of her previous relationships could be considered "straight or heterosexual." She declined to elaborate. 

Cyrus recently shot a series of music videos with other stars including Joan Jett and Ariana Grande to help raise funds for the foundation; the video with Joan Jett officially debuted this Tuesday on the foundation's Facebook page.

You can watch Cyrus' kill it with Joan Jett as they perform "Different," AFTER THE JUMP...

Miley and joan

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