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Leyth Jamal Fires Back At Saks Fifth Avenue For Trying To Dismiss Her Claim Of Transphobic Job Discrimination

Leyth Jamal

Transgender woman Leyth O. Jamal suffered intense on-the-job discrimination for being trans while working at Saks Fifth Avenue in Houston, discrimination that was ignored, and when she filed an EEOC complaint she was fired. When she returned with a lawsuit against the store, Saks claimed it had a right to discriminate against trans individuals, a claim that drew scrutiny from the New York Attorney General. While Saks has moved to have the lawsuit dismissed, Jamal and her attorneys have issued a formal refutation, which states in part:

Saks’ contention that Ms. Jamal’s retaliation claim must be dismissed because “no reasonable person” could believe that she was protected from sex discrimination under Title VII fails on its face. Because of prior opinions from this Court, other courts, and the EEOC, Ms. Jamal reasonably believed that she was protected when she filed her complaint.

Saks’ contention that Ms. Jamal has failed to adequately plead a claim for breach of contract also fails on its face. Contrary to Defendant’s representations, Texas law plainly allows for breach of contract claims brought pursuant to an employee handbook where statements therein are sufficiently clear, specific and meaningful.

Ms. Jamal calls out the hypocrisy of Saks' alleged support LGBT rights:

Saks says it supports LGBT rights fully, but they’re forgetting T stands for transgender. It’s contradictory and hurtful to argue in court I have no rights because I’m trans. I’m sure the courts will recognize all the legal authorities saying I do have civil rights.

HRC has suspended its previously high equality index rating for the high-end retailer after its blatant display of transphobia.


LGBT Activists In Starkville, Mississippi, Stage Rally, Launch Hashtag In Support Of Gay-Rights Initiatives

Starkville

Earlier this month, we reported that the mayor of Starkville, Mississippi, had bravely vetoed a Board of Alderman decision to repeal two historic gay-rights initiatives. 

With the Board of Alderman expected to override Mayor Parker Wiseman's veto on Tuesday night, LGBT activists launched a Twitter hashtag, #WeAreStarkville, and staged a rally Saturday outside the county courthouse. 

The Commercial Dispatch reports: 

Besides local calls, the Human Rights Campaign, a national supporter of LGBT rights, issued a notice for pro-equality advocates to attend Tuesday's 5:30 p.m. meeting at City Hall. 

"As a Mississippi State University graduate and lifelong resident of the Magnolia State, I realize this is the moment to show the world the road to advance equality in Mississippi begins in Starkville," Rob Hill, HRC Mississippi director, said. "The city has already proven once before it is on the right side of history, and what happens Tuesday will determine whether it remains the statewide leader of inclusion, fairness and opportunity." ... 

At MSU's Mitchell Memorial Library on Thursday, organizers estimated about 200 people took pictures together with signs bearing the #WeAreStarkville social media hashtag.  

On Saturday, pro-LGBT activists again spoke out publically against the city's recent action at the steps of the Oktibbeha County Chancery Courthouse. 

"We're here, and we're not going anywhere. We're going to keep fighting and speaking out," said rally organizer Melissa Grimes. "There are about 900 more days until we can elect new officials. Their time is coming, and we have their number. We're going to make sure that those who supported us are taken care of. Those aldermen who didn't, we'll show up and vote them out of office." 

Starkville, which has a population of 24,000 and sits adjacent to Mississippi State University, became the first city in the state to approve a statement of support for LGBT equality last January — and the first to extend benefits to the domestic partners of employees in September. 

However, after some members flip-flopped under pressure from anti-LGBT religious groups, the Board of Alderman voted 5-2 in a closed session earlier this month to repeal the policies — prompting Wiseman's veto. If the 5-2 majority holds, it will be enough to override the mayor's decision. 

The five aldermen who voted to repeal the measures were Lisa Wynn, Ben Carver, David Little, Roy A. Perkins and Henry Vaughn. In case you're wondering, their contact info can be found here

View more photos from the #WeAreStarkville hashtag, AFTER THE JUMP... 

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Anti-Gay Group Says It Has Enough Signatures To Repeal LGBT Protections In Plano, Texas

Welch

Opponents of LGBT protections in Plano, Texas, say they've gathered enough signatures to place a repeal of the city's Equal Rights Ordinance on the ballot in May. 

The Texas Pastor Council, led by Dave Welch (above), announced in an email Tuesday morning that it has gathered at least 5,500 signatures to repeal the ordinance — more than the 3,822 required by the Jan. 20 deadline:

As this is being written, the count reached 5,500, with as many as 2,000 more expected in the morning, hopefully bringing the total to well over 7,000. Volunteers will be working late into the night and tomorrow to verify as many of these signatures as possible before they are turned-in to the City Secretary on Tuesday. This effort will continue until every name is verified.

A spokesperson for the group thanked God for divine intervention and praised the dozens and dozens of volunteers from the diverse coalition that pulled together through the holiday season, to accomplish this remarkable goal. 

"In spite of the challenges created by the suspect timing of the City Council's passage of this ordinance, we set a goal to collect twice the minimum number of signatures needed. We want to send a clear message to Mayor LaRosiliere, and Councilmen Miner, Davidson, Smith, and Downs who all voted for this ordinance. You can ignore the citizens at the City Council meeting, but we will make our voices heard with this petition and next May at the polls. ... 

"We are certain that once Plano citizens realize the City Council has criminalized religious views about sex and gender, the ordinance will be rejected overwhelmingly at the polls. The citizens of Plano are good and decent and treat one another with respect, so criminalizing the beliefs of our diverse communities of faith does not advance the common good," said the spokesperson.  

The Plano City Council approved the ordinance in a 5-3 vote on Dec. 8 amid intense opposition from anti-LGBT groups and Republican elected officials.  

The ordinance prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. However, it has come under fire from transgender advocates over exemptions for bathrooms, nonprofits and educational institutions. 

Once they're turned in, city officials will begin the process of validating signatures on the petition. If they determine there are enough valid signatures, the City Council can either vote to repeal the ordinance or place it on the ballot in the next municipal election, which is May 9. 

In Houston, the Texas Pastor Council claimed to have more than 50,000 signatures to repeal an Equal Rights Ordinance last year. However, city officials determined that only 15,249 of the signatures were valid — fewer than the 17,269 needed to place the ordinance on the ballot. 

That prompted a lawsuit from opponents of Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance, and the case is headed to trial this week. In court documents, the city has allleged that opponents of the ordinance forged signatures and used other fraudulent tactics. 


Anti-Gay Pastor: 'Pulpits Must Be Aflame' To Repeal LGBT Protections In Plano, Texas

Plano

Opponents of LGBT protections in Plano, Texas, must call upon the lord to gather enough signatures to repeal them and set pulpits aflame this weekend, according to an anti-gay pastor whose group is leading the effort. 

The City Council in Plano — a conservative suburb of Dallas with a population of 270,000 — approved the Equal Rights Ordinance in 5-3 vote a last month. Opponents, led by the Texas Pastor Council, must gather 3,822 valid signatures to force the City Council to either repeal the ordinance or place it on the May ballot.

In an email Friday, Texas Pastor Council Executive Director Dave Welch wrote to members: 

WElch.Dave"There will be ample time to continue to debate and discuss the numerous and serious problems with the Equal Rights Policy in detail – the only issue at hand is doing everything humanly possible while calling upon the Lord to secure enough valid signatures before Monday. ... The pulpits must be aflame with God’s truth and righteousness in calling openly and strongly for every voter to be faithful to this basic duty of stewardship. The current count of signatures really does not matter as IT CANNOT BE TOO MANY. EVERY valid signature is important and if people can’t remember if they have already signed it, instruct them to sign it anyway and only the few duplicates will be disqualified. Better that than no signature." 

Last year, the city of Houston rejected a petition from Welch's group aimed at repealing LGBT protections, saying it didn't have enough valid signatures. The group responded by suing the city, and the case is set for trial beginning Tuesday. In court documents, attorneys for the city have accused Welch's group of forgery and other dishonest signature-gathering tactics. But in his email Friday, Welch suggested they must do whatever it takes in Plano:

"Pulpits, PowerPoints, texts, tweets, Facebook, email broadcasts and even a recorded call to your church list from you are EACH an important component of a multiple contact approach to maximize results. Is the name of our Lord, His design of male, female, marriage and family, His moral laws as well as our basic freedoms and families’ well-being worth this effort? It is decision time. Remember, it is Mayor Harry LaRosiliere and the five city council members who railroaded this ordinance through with complete disrespect to the community and good government practices who 'threw the first punch.' LaRosiliere and the council declared that God either doesn’t exist or His word is false and that even basic biological facts are up for grabs. They assaulted the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God – not us.Our only question is whether we will allow the lie to stand or be responsible stewards and to do what is required of us to assure that His governing authority loaned to us and delegated by us to others is used for righteousness and justice – not deception and tyranny."

Opponents of the Plano ordinance have launched a website and Facebook page to spread fear and misinformation, including graphics like the one above. Ironically, Prestonwood Baptist Church — the evangelical megachurch serving as ground zero for opposition to the ordinance — has a history of child sex abuse and coverups, recent media reports have noted. 

Supporters of the ordinance have also begun to organize and prepare for a likely ballot fight. They've launched their own Facebook group, which has more than eight times as many followers as the opposition page. However, the ordinance also continues to draw criticism from the transgender community over its broad exemptions, including for schools, nonprofits and restrooms. 

Dallas-based trans activist Nell Gaither wrote: 

"If the problems with this are not called out, this sets a precedent for every other municipality in Texas. … This is not a Plano issue. This is a Texas issue, and more. If they get away with the lie that this is an LGBT equality policy it will set a dangerous precedent that will be very difficult to overcome for many, many years. And the worst part is that Equality Texas is now supporting it. Mainly to satisfy 'their funders.' They want a win to spread across the state. So this appears to be their model. How nice. Another Gay Inc. organization selling out the trans community in Plano, in Texas, and more."

On Friday, gay activist and Iraq war veteran Sean Sala shot video as he approached people gathering signatures to repeal the ordinance in a Plano post office parking lot. In the video, Sala accurately informs people that repealing the ordinance would also undo local protections based on veteran's status — talking one woman out of signing the petition.

Watch video of the encounter, AFTER THE JUMP ...  

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A Longtime 'Glee' Character Came Out as Transgender on Last Night's Episode: VIDEO

Glee

In its final season, Glee still has a few revelations up its sleeve.

In an emotional announcement during last night's episode, one of its longtime characters decided to take a brave step and come out to a couple of other people at McKinley about his identification as transgender and his decision to transition:

"I've felt like this my whole life. Growing up I was really confused....No matter what I did I never felt at home in my own skin. I never felt like my body fit who I was on the inside....I don't regret the things I've been through because they made me the person I am today - a person strong enough to go through with this transition. I gotta do it for my own piece of mind. I've got to get my body in alignment with how I see myself."

Watch the emotional announcement [SPOILERS], AFTER THE JUMP...

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Thailand Constitution To Legally Recognize A 'Third Gender'

ThailandAn upcoming amendment to Thailand’s constitution will bring legal recognition for a third gender. Though Thailand is widely known for its queer and trans subcultures, the country’s laws haven’t been the most inclusive.

Kamnoon Sittisamarn, a representative for the Thai Constitutional Drafting Committee explained that the legal changes were designed to ensure broader protections for Thailand’s substantial trans-identified and gender queer population.

"We are putting the words 'third gender' in the constitution because Thai society has advanced," Sittisamarn said to Reuters. "There are not only men and women, we need to protect all sexes. We consider all sexes to be equal."

Going forward the proposed changes will formally submitted to the National Reform Council in April before being approved by the ruling military political force, the National Council for Peace and Order. The NCPC came to power last May after a violent military coup that killed some 30 people.


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