Please ask your federal legislators to prevent and respond to discrimination and violence against LGBT people globally by becoming an Original Cosponsor of the International Human Rights Defense Act of 2015.
Sen. Ed Markey will soon re-introduce the International Human Rights Defense Act of 2015, which PFLAG National supported in the last Congress and formally endorses in this Congress. The bill makes it a U.S. foreign policy priority for the State Department to respond to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community globally, and creates a new Special Envoy position at the State Department to coordinate those efforts. Congressman Alan Lowenthal is introducing a companion bill in the House.
Please reach your two Senators and one U.S. Representative by clicking here and include your name, complete address with zip code, and consider using this suggested PFLAG message:
As your constituent and as a member of PFLAG, I urge you to become an original cosponsor of The International Human Rights Defense Act of 2015. PFLAG’s values are America’s values and that includes making it a foreign policy priority to prevent and respond to discrimination and violence against LGBT people globally. Thank you for considering this, and thank you especially if you have already signed on. If you have not, please cosponsor by reaching Jen_Wagner@markey.senate.gov in Sen. Markey’s office or email@example.com in Congressman Lowenthal’s office. Again, thank you.
Trans and LGBT people of color are focus of new Victory Institute Fellowship. Please share with your fellow chapter members that The Victory Institute, in partnership with the Arcus Foundation, has announced a groundbreaking fellowship to support openly transgender and people of color who are openly LGBT who are both leaders in their communities and interested in public service.The Victory Institute is now accepting applications for the 2015 cohort of Victory Empowerment Fellows. For more information, visit the Victory Empowerment Fellowship webpage, or contact Victory staff.
SCOTUS will hear cases challenging same-sex marriage bans; could end bans nationally. The Supreme Court of the U.S. ruled on Friday, January 16, to hear jointly cases in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, expected by late June, which could end bans across the nation. Also, the Obama administration will urge SCOTUS to affirm the freedom to marry nationally.
Federal judge rules South Dakota same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. On Monday, January 12th, U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier struck down South Dakota’s law banning same-sex marriage on the basis that it violates rights under the Fourteenth Amendment in a 28-page decision. She granted summary judgment to plaintiff same-sex couples in the case.
Military judge indefinitely postpones court martial hearing for gay air force lieutenant. Air Force Col. Ira Perkins in his role as Deputy Chief Trial Judge in the pre-court martial hearing of gay Marine Lt. Joshua (Josh) Seefried, a prominent advocate for the repeal of DADT, indefinitely delayed the Article 32 hearing on December 12th, which had been set to begin on January 26th.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reaffirms his opposition to laws criminalizing homosexuality. Ki-moon made his remarks–stating that anti-sodomy laws “breed intolerance”–during an event in the Indian capital of New Delhi marking the 70th anniversary of the U.N.’s founding. India is among the more than 70 countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain illegal.
Christian mom affirms support of her gender-expansive child. On January 16th, mom Lisa added added her voice to the growing number of parents who, despite strong faith traditions often preaching the opposite, voiced her affirmation and support of her gender-expansive child. To read more stories of support from parents of faith, visit PFLAG National’s A Note to My Kid blog.
Funeral for Colorado-based lesbian moved due to minister’s lack of support for same-sex marriage. Vanessa Collier’s family and friends were shocked to learn that the funeral was being moved from New Hope Ministries…ten minutes after service was supposed to have started.
Amazon Studios, TRANSPARENT make history at the 2015 Golden Globes. Not only was it Amazon’s first-ever Golden Globe award, “Transparent” also became the first online series to ever win a best series award, comedy or drama, at the annual awards show. Several days post-win, creator Jill Soloway shared her feelings on why the wins were so important, to her and the community.
Tiffany & Co. features first same-sex couple in engagement ad campaign. For the first time, Tiffany & Co. is featuring a gay couple in its latest engagement campaign. (Fun fact: the pair are not models but an unnamed, real-life NYC couple.) Tiffany & Co. joins a growing list of companies taking their brand in this direction.
Nominees announced for 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives. Among the nominees: Amazon Instant Video’s smash hit Transparent; ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder; and HBO’s Game of Thrones, Looking, and The Normal Heart.
Out writer/poet Saeed Jones named finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Awards, For his poetry collection Prelude to Bruise. Jones is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize and the editor of BuzzFeed LGBT. Earlier this week,in a New York Times op-ed, he shared a bit about the importance to him of his poetry writing.
Company to take down ex-gay therapy billboard in Dallas, says it was misled by advertiser. The president of the advertising company that’s hosting an “ex-gay” therapy billboard in Dallas says the company was misled about the nature of the sign or he wouldn’t have allowed it to go up.
Gambia president opposes LGBT people speaking out. Gambian President Yahya Jammeh used a speech to again rail against homosexuality and LGBT people.
Kyrgyzstan’s legislature opposes same-sex marriage. On January 16th, the European Parliament held an emergency debate on the bill that is currently going through the Kyrgyzstan legislature that will outlaw ‘homosexual propaganda’. It is similar to the law in Russia, but is far more draconian.
Macedonia legislature approves same-sex marriage ban. By a constitutional amendment vote on January 21st, marriage is now defined exclusively as between one man and one woman.
Mexico celebrates same-sex marriage. While some cities delayed recognition of Mexico’s Supreme Court, same-sex marriage is the law of the land, and cities are falling in line.
Lesbian teacher fired after Russian anti-gay activist complains to school. A music teacher at a St. Petersburg school for disabled children has turned to a court after she was fired for “amoral action” after an anti-gay activist outed her as a lesbian, an LGBT rights group said in a statement. The group has since filed a lawsuit on her behalf.
Thailand poised to recognize ‘third gender’ in new constitution. Members of a commission charged with writing Thailand’s new constitution this week said they have proposed the inclusion of “third gender” people in its non-discrimination clause. The Nation, a Bangkok-based newspaper, on Wednesday reported the “third gender” provision would be the first time a Thai constitution would specifically acknowledge gender. That said, LGBT Thais still lack basic legal protections.
Gay Ukranians are disappointed by continued lack of protections and acceptance. Ukrainians thought that, post-Maidan, their country would start to look more like Europe. But for members of the LGBT community, things may have even gotten worse.
Gay men and women in the United Kingdom are celebrating 15 years of open military service. A small group of gay service members took their case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), with the case being hardly defended by the UK government.
Pres. Obama cites same-sex marriage as a civil right in State of the Union speech. Speaking in the U.S. Capitol on January 20th, before a joint session of Congress and six of the Supreme Court justices who will likely decide the freedom to marry issue, President Obama called same-sex marriage a “story of freedom” and “a civil right” in his 2015 State of the Union (SOTU) address. Also historic? His affirming inclusion of the words ‘transgender,’ ‘bisexual,’ and ‘lesbian,’ the first time any of these words–or these groups–have been included in a SOTU address. Truly a thrilling and moving moment for PFLAGers everywhere.
U.S. State Department considers phasing out domestic partnership benefits. On January 14th, The Washington Blade reported exclusively that the U.S. State Department is considering phasing out domestic partner benefits for unmarried LGBT employees following the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) ruling that struck down Section 3 of The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Journal of LGBT Health cites tracking violent deaths as path to reducing health disparities. The article describes an on-going effort to develop a protocol to begin systematically tracking how and why LGBTQ people die as a strategy toward reducing health disparities.
Georgia – Georgia Equality launches campaign to fight so-called Religious Liberty Bill. PFLAG chapter members and supporters in Georgia will be called on to be involved in this important legislative work with the Georgia General Assembly. Stay tuned.
Illinois – Chicago City Council unanimously votes to prohibit police profiling of trans people. On January 21st, the Chicago City Council approved the expansion of an existing city ordinance prohibiting police profiling based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability, military discharge, marital, financial or parental status to include gender identity and national origin. Training will include transgender sensitivity training conducted by local advocacy groups.
Massachusetts – Boston Globe editorial board calls passing of Transgender Equality Act “crucial”. Massachusetts has in place non-discrimination state law covering employment, housing, credit, public education, and hate crimes but lacks protection for public accommodations. PFLAG is a leader in the state coalition on this effort.
Michigan – Michigan Governor urges fellow Republican legislators not to abandon quest for inclusive LGBT non-discrimination legislation. PFLAGers, including former PFLAG National Board member, minister and trans woman Rev. Julie Nemecek, were active and ready to testify in the last legislative session to move the LGBT fully inclusive non-discrimination Elliott-Larson Civil Rights Act that waned at the session’s end. Stay tuned as action in Michigan fires back up in 2015.
Mississippi – Starkville, Miss. repeals pro-LGBT non-discrimination resolution. The state’s first city to pass an anti-discrimination resolution back in 2013 quietly repealed that resolution on January 9th in a closed-door session. Lawmakers also rescinded a policy that extended health insurance coverage to same-sex domestic partners of city employees.
Pennsylvania – Governor-Elect names transgender woman to his cabinet. Dr. Rachel Levine–currently a professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where she also serves as chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders–will serve as Physician General, advising the governor and secretary of the Department of Health on medical and public health-related issues.
South Carolina/Texas – SC and TX file legislation to punish state government employees for recognizing same-sex marriages. SC legislators introduced House Bill H. 3022 and TX legislators introduced House Bill 623, both of which restrict state funds and state employees’ time from participation in licensing or supporting same-sex marriages.
Virginia – Gov. McAuliffe vows to veto “Conscience Clause” bill if passed. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe on Monday, January 12th said he would veto “in a nanosecond” a bill that would allow state licensed or accredited business owners to deny service to someone based on their religious beliefs. The comment against House Bill 1414 came in response to a question at a Richmond press conference during which the governor discussed what he described as his “equal opportunity” legislative agenda for the 2015 General Assembly, which began on January 14th.
West Virginia – Anne Levinson on appointment to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. Anne Levinson has had an impressive public service and civic career. Among her notable successes, she chaired the statewide campaign that stopped the attempted repeal of the state’s domestic partnership law.
Wyoming – ‘Protect Working Wyoming’ launches to communicate workplace equality. Protect Working Wyoming is a new coalition of Wyoming people who support adding enumerated protections to Wyoming’s law. Under current Wyoming law, an individual can be fired, demoted or denied the opportunity for promotion because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Dear Policy Matters
Dear Policy Matters:
I am so excited that The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is going to consider freedom to marry on the basis of four states’ court cases, but I’m not clear on what they are deciding, when to expect more activity and what the attorneys are supposed to talk about. Can you help?
Patiently Awaiting SCOTUS
On Friday, January 16th, SCOTUS announced that it will take up four cases, all heard at once. Those four cases ask SCOTUS whether Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee state bans on same-sex couples’ marriages and also the states’ bans on recognition of same-sex couples marriages celebrated in other states violate the U.S. Constitution guarantees for due process and for equal protection.
SCOTUS granted two questions for argument, one about marriage and the other about marriage recognition. They are:
“Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?”; and
“Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?”
Per the court’s order, there will be 90 minutes of argument on the marriage question and 60 minutes of argument on the marriage recognition question.
The same-sex couples plaintiffs’ briefs are due by 2:00PM on Friday, February 27th. The states’ briefs will be due by 2:00PM on Friday, March 27th, and the reply briefs from the plaintiffs will be due by 2:00PM on Friday, April 17th.
Most likely in late April, the justices will hold arguments over the issues, which would mean a decision, and possible nationwide resolution of the issue of marriage and marriage recognition, potentially delivered by late June.
For greater detail and background on this development read this article by Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed and also this primer by Chris Johnson at The Washington Blade.
And, as always, stay tuned to Policy Matters for further updates, and follow PFLAG National on Facebook and Twitter for breaking news as it happens.
Click on any of the links below to read any of the numerous briefs amici (friend of the court) to Circuit Courts, State Supreme Court and The Supreme Court of the United States on the topic of the freedom to marry: