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National roundup: Kosilek appeal; GetEQUAL's bill of rights
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 3054 times since Tue Mar 24, 2015
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Lawyers petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal on behalf of Michelle Kosilek, a transgender woman who has been denied health care while serving a prison sentence in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Correction, according to a GLAD press release. The petition for certiorari asserts that the First Circuit Court of Appeals overstepped its role with a December 2014 ruling that, in vacating an earlier panel decision favorable to Kosilek, retried the facts of a 2012 trial and applied the wrong standard of legal review.

Five years after the launch of the organization, GetEQUAL announced a LGBTQ Bill of Rights as part of a new "No Asterisks" campaign for full LGBTQ equality, according to a press release. The 10-point bill is designed to address the rights of all LGBTQ people around the country, including safe schools with inclusive curricula; employment protections; equal access to safe, affordable housing; and marriage equality in all states, districts, and territories. The full text of the preamble, bill of rights ( including stories from the community that helped shape the document ) and conclusion is at .

Presbyterians approved marriages for same-sex couples in the first ever nationwide, grassroots vote on marriage equality by a faith tradition, according to a press release from More Light Presbyterians. The Presbyterian Church ( PC ), USA now holds that marriage is between "two persons" rather than "a man and a woman." Last summer, the PC ( USA ) governing body voted by a 71-percent vote to change the description of marriage, from between "a man and a woman" to "two persons." However, the amendment required 51 percent of the 171 regional bodies called presbyteries to affirm the change. That threshold was crossed, as 87 presbyteries voted yes.

Days after the Presbyterian development, a lesbian couple was ordained as ministers at First & Central Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware, according to the Christian Post. Kaci Clark-Porter and Holly, who married three years ago, was the first-ever same-sex couple to be jointly ordained. Both were raised in conservative Texas homes, divorced their husbands and came out in their 20s during seminary.

Gay-rights activists returned to the Idaho Capitol to protest lawmakers' refusal to pass anti-discrimination protections, this time by refusing to leave the state's bill-drafting offices, according to the AP. Idaho state police made 25 arrests, including six people who were arrested twice, on March 16 for trespassing in the statehouse. Protesters staged three different demonstrations that day.

Hundreds gathered March 23 at the Texas Capitol in Austin for a rally against same-sex marriage, headlined by Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, according to . A marriage-equality opponent, Moore instructed Alabama's state probate judges to refuse marriage licenses for gay couples despite a federal court ruling that Alabama's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The Defense of the Texas Marriage Amendment Rally was one of two events opposing same-sex marriage held in Austin that day; however, at a nearby church, Equality Texas kicked off Family Advocacy Day with lunch and an ice cream social, as it was lobbying lawmakers in support of same-sex marriage.

A lawyer in California has submitted a ballot initiative with the state Department of Justice calling for the death of anyone who engages in sodomy in the state, according to a Huffington Post item. The proposal by Matt McLaughlin, who lists his address in Huntington Beach, was received by the initiative coordinator at the Office of the Attorney General on Feb. 26. Enclosed was a $200 check and the complete text of his "Sodomite Suppression Act." McLaughlin recommends punishment by death, even though a judge ruled that California's death penalty is unconstitutional last June.

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund ( TLDEF ) applauded news that transgender New Yorkers covered by Medicaid can now access the medically necessary health care they have been denied for nearly two decades, according to a press release. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health have officially adopted a new regulation that ends the 17-year-old exclusion of transgender health care from New York's Medicaid program. TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman said, "We are thrilled to see this change. Improved Medicaid access will significantly enhance the lives of low-income transgender New Yorkers who previously could not get the medically necessary care they needed."

The South Carolina Judiciary Committee did not make a decision about a bill that would call for a constitutional convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to say marriage is between a man and a woman, noted. Sen. Lee Bright, a Republican from Spartanburg, said he wanted a vote on the measure to show South Carolina residents where their legislature stands. Meanwhile, South Carolina's marriage-license application has been changed to add spouse and spouse, reported. State taxes can be filed jointly for same-sex couples who marry, and returns can be amended for the years a couple has been legally wed.

A controversial Indiana bill that could protect business owners who don't want to provide services for same-sex couples moved closer to law March 23, after passage by the state's House, according to Yahoo! News. The Republican-controlled House Senate Bill 101, known as the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," approved the measure 63-31. A version was previously passed by the Republican-controlled Senate, and Republican Gov. Mike Pence said he will sign it.

In a similar vein, faith-based adoption agencies could refuse to participate in adoptions that violate their religious beliefs under bills that the Republican-led Michigan House approved, the AP stated. The bills also would prevent state or local governments from taking actions such as refusing to issue a license or provide funding for adoption agencies exercising objections. House lawmakers passed the package 65-44, mostly along party lines.

The Puerto Rican government announced it will no longer defend the U.S. commonwealth's same-sex marriage ban, The Washington Blade noted. "Because of sexual orientation, Puerto Rico has denied rights that others enjoy," said Justice Minister Cesar Miranda during a press conference in San Juan. "This is not correct." The announcement coincided with a brief Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla's administration will file with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which is hearing a lawsuit against the island's same-sex marriage ban.

A new analysis of Gallup survey data offers the most detailed estimates yet about where LGBT people live, according to The New York Times. The Gallup analysis finds the largest concentrations in the West—and not just in the expected places like San Francisco and Portland, Ore. Among the nation's 50 largest metropolitan areas, Denver and Salt Lake City are also in the top 10. On the other hand, some of the East Coast places with famous gay neighborhoods, including in New York, Miami and the District of Columbia, have a smaller percentage of their population who identify as gay—roughly average for a big metropolitan area. The least gay urban areas are in the Midwest and South.

The state of Texas filed suit against the Obama administration over plans to extend federal family leave benefits to married, same-sex couples, according to LGBTQ Nation. The lawsuit comes in response to a rule change announced by the Labor Department that grants paid time off to legally married same-sex couples—even if they are living in a state like Texas, which does not recognize same-sex marriage. The rule change to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, was scheduled to take effect March 27.

Iowa mental-health professionals would be banned from trying to change the sexual orientation of gay patients younger than 18 under a bill the state Senate approved on a straight party-line vote, the Des Moines Register reported. Senate File 334 passed 26-24. The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled House, where it will likely be declared dead amid strong opposition from Christian conservatives.

A Missouri high school student is sparking change after feeling "very upset and embarrassed" when he said a school administrator told him the outfit he wore to school for his birthday was "distracting" and was "for women," according to ABC News. The student, Morgan Ball, 17, said he was wearing a white T-shirt with a black shawl over it, jeans, a fashion belt and lace gloves; he also had on jewelry and make-up. Ball's friends at Lee's Summit North High School started the hashtag #ClothingHasNoGender to support rights of self-expression. The hashtag has also been printed on shirts and decals that fellow students are buying to show their solidarity.

A sense of institutional loyalty, between current and former members of the Illinois state Senate, motivated members to confirm Gov. Bruce Rauner's nomination of former state Sen. Rev. James Meeks to head the State Board of Education March 19, said the one senator who voted "nay." The nomination had drawn the ire of advocates in the LGBT community who objected to Meeks' opposition to marriage equality, anti-discrimination ordinances and other LGBT-rights initiatives, among other reasons. But those objections seemed to have little sway over the state's Democratic-controlled Senate, which voted to ratify the nomination 45-1-1. State Sen. William Delgado—he lone "nay"—said, "It was my understanding that others were voting out of a sense of loyalty to a colleague. I voted my conscience."

Math teacher Christian Zsilavetz hopes to open Pride School Atlanta this summer, the first school in the Southeast to focus on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex ( born with both female and male characteristics ) students, according to the L.A. Times. If it opens in August, it will be one of the first LGBT schools in the nation to cater to students as early as pre-kindergarten. Zsilavetz, who has a 6-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son, says the new school will be safe—not just for children, but for adults.

A San Francisco police officer involved in a scandal over racist and anti-gay text messages allegedly sent by four officers has resigned, Reuters reported. The San Francisco police department confirmed that Michael Robison—a 23-year veteran who is gay—had stepped down, but was unable to provide additional details. The involvement of the four officers, three of whom have not been officially identified, was revealed in court papers in a federal corruption case against Ian Furminger, a former San Francisco Police dergeant. In them, Furminger uses racial epithets, bragged that a relative was a slave auctioneer and joked about the Ku Klux Klan. There were also jokes about one of the officers being gay.

A probate judge is asking the Alabama Supreme Court to concede that gay couples can marry in Alabama if the U.S. Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional later this year, the AP reported. Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed filed a motion for rehearing with state justices who, on March 3, ordered probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Reed said he "respectfully disagrees" with the court's decision. He asked justices to amend the order to make it clear that the U.S. Supreme Court has final say.

Cops nabbed two 19-year-old men for throwing toilet paper at the only group of LGBT marchers in New York City's St. Patrick's Day parade in Midtown, according to The New York Daily News. Daniel Kaul and Daniel Dimirco, both of Westchester, were busted after "throwing toilet paper into the crowd," specifically "at the Out@NBC marchers," cops said. Both men pled guilty to disorderly conduct and were sentenced to three days of community service.

Students at a New Hampshire high school will now be able to choose between black and white for their graduation gowns, after a group representing transgender students asked the school board to allow that, according to the Associated Press. Traditionally, boys at Kennett High School in North Conway wear black caps and gowns and girls wear white ones for graduation. However, members of the Gay-Straight-Transgender Alliance asked the school board to change that after transgender students were assigned robes for the their misidentified gender.

A woman who was raised by a lesbian couple has come out against same-sex marriage, according to the publication Attitude. Heather Barwick, a 31-year-old mother of four from South Carolina, was raised by two women after her mother chose to leave her husband when Barwick was just a toddler, so she could be with the woman she loved. Writing a column for The Federalist titled 'Dear gay community, your kids are hurting,' Barwick explained that even though she "loves" gay people, another mother could "never replace" the father that she lost. Barwick is reportedly one of six children of gay parents who signed a letter supporting fashion designers Dolce & Gabbana and the duo's views on same-sex parenting, the Inquisitr noted.

A Minnesota lawmaker tried unsuccessfully to revive a bill that tells transgender students which sports teams they can join and which locker rooms they can use, reported. State Sen. David Brown, R-Becker, previously introduced a bill that would undo a recent Minnesota State High School League policy that allows transgender athletes play on the sports teams that best align with their gender identity. Brown was unable to get a committee hearing for the bill before the deadline; he then tried to advance it through a procedural move on the Senate floor.

In New Jersey, people connected to a Catholic school teacher who was suspended following anti-gay comments she posted on Facebook are now looking for donations, reported. The plea was posted on the online fundraising site and addressed from unnamed individuals claiming to be the children of Patricia Jannuzzi, who was suspended by Immaculata High School. The website had raised almost $30,000 of a $100,000 with one day remaining.

Regarding Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock, former Congressman Barney Frank said that outgoing Schock should be "exposed" if he's gay because he has an anti-gay voting record, according to On Top Magazine. "When you are in public office and you vote opposite to the way you live your life … I don't think you have privacy," Frank said.

This article shared 3054 times since Tue Mar 24, 2015
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