LGBTI News and Politics

Archive for 06/10/2014

New Research Estimates 150,000 Transgender Individuals with Military Service

For Immediate Distribution
May 22, 2014

Laura Rodriguez,, (310) 956-2425
Donald Gatlin,, (202) 587-2871

Estimated 0.6% of adults who report current or past service in the US armed forces are transgender

LOS ANGELES— New research conducted by scholars at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, estimates that nearly 150,000 transgender individuals have served in the U.S. armed forces, or are currently on active duty.

Study co-author and Williams Distinguished Scholar, Gary J. Gates stated, “As Americans spend this Memorial Day weekend honoring the memory of the men and women who have died while in the US armed forces, our analyses offer evidence that transgender individuals are likely among those who have sacrificed their lives in military service.”

The report, titled, “Transgender Military Service in the United States,” estimates that more than 15,000 transgender individuals are on active duty or are serving in the Guard or Reserve forces in the US.  In addition, an estimated 134,000 transgender individuals are veterans or are retired from Guard or Reserve service.

Study co-author and Peter J. Cooper Public Policy Fellow, Jody Herman, notes, “Our analyses are consistent with other research suggesting that transgender individuals are more likely than the general population to serve in the US military.”

Other findings from the analyses show that:
•  An estimated 8,800 transgender adults are currently on active duty in the U.S. armed forces, and an estimated 6,700 transgender individuals are serving in the Guard or Reserve forces.
•  An estimated 0.6% of adults who report current or past service in the US armed forces are transgender.
•  Transgender individuals assigned female at birth are nearly three times more likely than all adult women, and those assigned male at birth are 1.6 times more likely than all adult men, to serve.

The estimates are derived using data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which was conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Click here for the full study.

WNBA’s Slam-Dunk: First Pro League to Market to LGBT Community


aaaBasketball(Photo: Reisio)Although it has been one of the worst kept secrets in professional sports, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is finally coming out of the closet with a series of monster slam-dunk marketing projects aimed at the LGBT community. The league recently announced that each of its teams would be turning its marketing efforts towards the LGBT community, becoming the first pro sports league to specifically recruit gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender fans to its games. At some point in the season, each team will stage an event acknowledging and honoring the LGBT community.

According to the Associated Press, “The launch of the effort coincides with a surge of political and legal advances for the gay-rights movement in the U.S., and shifting public opinion behind many of those advances.”

As LGBT issues have gained wider support both politically and legally, the sports world has been part of the changing landscape. AP pointed out that “NBA player Jason Collins became the first player in men’s professional basketball to come out and played with the Nets. Former Missouri football player Michael Sam, who came out in print and televised interviews earlier this year, was drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams. And Derrick Gordon, a UMass basketball player, recently described his experience as a gay Division I player.”

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VA Victory: Task Force welcomes VA rule change recognizing Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions


Mark Daley
Director of Communications
(Office) 202.639.6325
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VA Victory: Task Force welcomes VA rule change recognizing Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions

WASHINGTON, DC, Jun 6, 2014: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force applauds a new rule released today by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that will provide Burial Benefits to domestic partners and civil union partners. The Task Force recommended the change to VA in January, and LGBTQ veterans and their families will start to receive payments this year.

“This is an important victory for LGBTQ veterans and their families who are in civil unions and domestic partnerships. Now many more LGBTQ military families will be able to grieve the loss of loved ones who have served, without having the additional stress of worrying about funeral expenses.”

Early this year, the Task Force asked VA to recognize all relationships for the purposes of burial benefits: all same-sex marriages (regardless of where the partners live), as well as all civil unions and domestic partnerships. While VA remains constrained by law to recognize only those legal unions that are valid in the state where the couple lives, the decision to recognize domestic partnerships and civil unions indicates a willingness on the part of the nation’s second largest government agency to recognize the relationships of same-sex couples wherever they are legally able.

This may be the first time a federal agency has expanded so-called “spousal” benefits to include domestic partners and those in civil unions. VA’s decision comes less than a year after the Office of Personnel Management’s disappointing announcement that most federal benefits won’t extend to domestic partners under the Supreme Court’s Windsor ruling.

“We’re excited that VA is taking steps to provide benefits to our LGBTQ veterans and their families. But Congress must do more to untie VA’s hands. That’s why we’re calling on US Senators and US Representatives to change the discriminatory law that keeps so many of our military heroes from getting the benefits they deserve.”

Not One More

Alan Martinez, left, and his nephew, Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, at the Alhambra in Spain in the winter of 2006. Photo: Courtesy Alan Martinez.

Alan Martinez

Years ago I thought that someday I would have a niece who I would play dolls with and have long talks with about her boyfriends. Instead I got a nephew, Chris, who played take-no-prisoners football and ambidextrous basketball. My brother, Richard Martinez, and I would talk sometimes and wonder “where the hell did that come from?” as neither of us was athletic in school and Richard had as little use for playing sports in high school as I did. Yet I would go to games with Richard to see Chris play, not always with a clear sense of what was going on. And yet when he was little Chris loved playing “boat” with me on a log in the Big Sur River and loved the haunted houses I made for him out of chairs and tables and bed sheets every Halloween.

For all Chris’s demeanor as the straight-up good kid, he had a slyness about him. Some of my favorite times traveling with Chris was when he and I would hatch small conspiracies against Richard – either about watching South Park videos he wasn’t supposed to watch or staying up too late. I was the uncle who let him do and think about the weird stuff. I got to show him around the Alhambra and explain to him how the architecture of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane worked. We talked about Cicero’s essays and Roman history. And he knew that I had AIDS and about my political activity. Chris wrote part of his college application about me, about how much he admired me. I was kind of stunned. To have the experience, for someone like me who grew up queer and in mortal fear of jocks – to have this gentle resolute young man, my nephew, admire me….

And now he is dead, murdered with five other young students in a totally preventable massacre in Isla Vista, near UCSB. Richard and I, and our family, know that this is a complicated issue. My brother is a public defense attorney in Santa Barbara County and Chris’s mother is deputy district attorney of San Luis Obispo County: they have been dealing with crime, gun violence, mental health issues, and violence against women for decades. They know what they are talking about. Richard has been speaking out about the role of the National Rifle Association, misogyny, and the culpability of the media in this and other massacres in all of his interviews, but all the media outlets (with the notable exception of CNN’s Anderson Cooper and the BBC) were slow to air these comments, instead endlessly focusing on the insanity of the shooter. So I welcome this opportunity to touch on these three issues.

The NRA leadership has worked hard to promote its stance that guns aren’t part of the problem. They work to prevent any discussion of gun control. As Hannah Arendt wrote in her book On Violence , when you bring a gun into the room, discussion stops. Every time there is a massacre, the NRA leadership is expert in bringing the metaphorical gun into the room and stopping the discussion on gun control. When Fox News aired the press conference at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, it went so far as to edit out Richard’s mention of the NRA.

We have also said that what is frightening about the killer’s view of women isn’t that his views are monstrous, it’s that his views are so commonplace. He thought that women were objects to get and that they owed him something and that he had a right to manipulate and intimidate women to get what he wanted. It’s so messed up and sad. If you don’t think these attitudes of entitlement are commonplace, just look at the comments sections under postings of videos of my brother.

Finally, by repeatedly showing the killer’s photos, posting his video, using his name, and endlessly analyzing an ordinary, lonely, mentally ill young man who had, after all, a fairly commonplace point of view amplified through his pain, the media is giving the killer exactly the sort of fame he craved as the capstone to his twisted plan for himself. And, perhaps more importantly, this gives other lonely young men a roadmap for how to achieve recognition. These angry, lonely young men need help and love and real connection to others, not templates for how to become heroes in their own minds. They need a different culture of manhood to grow up into. Like the one that Richard and many others and I provided for Chris.

We don’t care that people tell us that this is beyond solving. I don’t care that I feel sometimes that preventing new massacres is hopeless. Why the fuck should I care about hopelessness? We’re doing this anyway. We’re going to end this ongoing slaughter. And by “we” I mean all of us, including you. Send a postcard, email, tweet, whatever, to every politician:


San Francisco resident Alan Martinez is the uncle of Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez. This column originally appeared in the Bay Area Reporter.


Australia: Don’t ask, don’t tell

The Age | June 7, 2014

"I'd lived two lives for so long": John Browne.“I’d lived two lives for so long”: John Browne. Photo: Jeremy Young/News Syndication/Headpress

John Browne was such a success in the cut-throat corporate world he rose to become a lord. But he was living a lie that was eventually exposed. Now openly gay, he talks to Jane Wheatley about the pressure that kept him in the “glass closet”.

One morning in 1999, in a private room at the British Museum, several people were to be observed clustering around a small silver goblet. They were the trustees of the Museum, assembled to judge whether the 2000-year-old cup, with its price tag of £1.8 million, should be acquired for the Museum’s collection. As they peered closely at the ornate silverwork – a scene depicting two male couples making love – and debated its virtues, one of the group remained locked in silent anguish. John Browne was head of the giant oil company BP, an admired business leader, clever, cultivated and a passionate, knowledgeable collector of art. He was also gay, a fact he had successfully kept hidden from friends, family and colleagues throughout his life. As he would explain many years later: “The cup was a truly enticing masterpiece … Yet I could not bring myself to speak in favour of the object because of its homosexual imagery. I thought that praising the work would be tantamount to coming out of the closet.”

It sounds like an extraordinary case of paranoia, yet when the young John Browne was growing up in the 1950s, homosexual acts were still illegal in the UK, the British Museum had turned down the chance to purchase the cup, and it had been denied entry to the United States because of its explicit imagery. Half a century on, attitudes had changed: the Warren Cup, as it is known, was finally recognised as a masterpiece and purchased by the British Museum, where it has been on display ever since.

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Iceland Receives 5 LGBT Refugees from Africa While Pipleine to USA is slow

Melanie Nathan | Oblogdeeoblogda| June 08, 2014

ugemb419fiIceland is set to receive approximately 5 LGBT refugees, including one lesbian, from Uganda, Cameroon and Zimbabwe. The Committee on Refugees made the recommendation, accepted by the foreign minister and the minister of welfare. Each of the individuals made application to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The municipalities of Reykjavík and Hafnarfjörður will receive the refugees, as stated on the of the Ministry of Welfare in Iceland.The Icelandic government approved the project in September. By all standards it  seems they have moved swiftly to receive the refugees.

One can only apply for refugee status and re-settlement from a foreign country. Many LGBT people are crossing borders into foreign African countries, to escape persecution from their own countries., often not realizing how difficult and long of a process it is. Some have escaped arrest orders by government, others beatings by families and communities, dolling out so called “mob justice,” in countries where Anti-Homosexuality laws and state sponsored rhetoric give license to persecute.  Many were outed by tabloids and magazines such as Red pepper, Rolling Stone of Uganda and Hello Magazine.

Once crossing these borders, the LGBT refugees have to go through a very stringent process with UNHCR to determine whether they will be granted refugee status, given a mandate and ultimately resettled.

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What’s the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

Angela Bacca | AlterNet | June 5, 2014

What is the difference between hemp and marijuana? The short answer: semantics. The long answer: the difference is a largely misunderstood distinction that now has two correct answers, a legal one and a scientific one. And like all things proven by scientists, it is somehow up for public and political debate.

Thanks to nearly 80 years of federal cannabis prohibition, public knowledge on the topic is limited to rumors and misinterpretations perpetuated online—everything from “hemp plants are male and marijuana plants are female” to “one is a drug and the other is not.”

The legal definitions also have muddied the water as legislators have passed laws at both the federal and state levels defining hemp in the pursuit of both fiber and medicine.

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