HUD Announces Ban on LGBT Discrimination in Federal Housing

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan

Today, the agency for Housing and Urban Development(‘HUD”) announced that it will codify a prohibition on LGBT discrimination in federal housing programs.

HUD’s Secretary, Shaun Donovan, made the announcement today saying, “LGBT discrimination is real and we must do something about it,” at the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce conference outside of Baltimore, Maryland.  This order will be codified next week and permit LGBT couples and individuals to more easily find affordable  and legally welcoming housing.

It is great to see a governmental leader taking initiative and protecting minorities in the transactions his agency oversees.  And if you want to express your gratitude for Mr. Donovan but aren’t sure how, you can pray for him like the people on this crazy site. Apparently, some have already been saying the rosary and are hopefully not using anti-lgbt intentions.

I don’t know why some of these sites still surprise me…

Any way, enjoy your weekend! And if you believe you have been a victim of housing discrimination, you may file an online complaint with HUD , or call HUD’s Housing Discrimination Hotline at 1-800-669-9777

Source: Miami Herald

Hijras Finally Given Right to Vote in Pakistan

Pakistan’s transgender community has recently been given reason to celebrate in fulfillment of the country’s Supreme Court decision permitting them to vote.

Individuals known as “hijras“, transgender persons or eunuchs, were not permitted to vote in political elections until last November when the Pakistani Supreme Court compelled the Election Commission of Pakistan to start registering hijras as voters and issuing the community Computerized National Identity Cards(“CNIC”). Many had previously been refused CNICs because of their failure to outwardly present their biological sex, causing a conflict between the CNIC’s gender information and a hijra’s appearance.

One concern I have, despite the prospect of greater equality for Pakistani transgender citizens, is that with these CNICs the transgender communities will be more easily identified and located. This would not be an issue of concern except that I am wary of any nation with unstable governments and religiously fanatics being able to readily round up sexual minorities. But I hope for the best.

What most fascinates me about all of this, is that the hijra community has been around for a very long time. Hijras and eunuchs have been accepted as a part of Indian and now Pakistani society for centuries. Although the British Raj attempted to eradicate the hijra communities in the 1940s and 50s, this community has survived only to have been refused the right to vote and  have their rights represented.

Congratulations to Pakistani transgender communities! Also, a quick congrats to Barney Frank and his partner, Jim Ready, on their engagement!

Kansas Governor Keeps Sodomy on the Books

Sad news for Kansans, the state’s governor has taken a step into the modern age recommending the repeal of some outdated laws, but unfortunately has decided that an anti-sodomy statute is still relevant.

Conservative, Republican Governor Sam Brownback recently put up 51 laws for repeal because he alleged they were unnecessary and outdated. But what did the governor find was still necessary? An anti-sodomy statute which prohibits oral and anal sex between individuals of the same biological sex.

Now remember,  these laws are not enforceable since the Supreme Court ruled on Lawrence v. Texas.  In that case the Court held that same-sex sexual activity was a liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Constitution, and gives consenting adults the right to have sex in private with any other consenting adult they may choose regardless of what is between their legs.

This move by Governor Brownback was obviously meant as a threat and reminder to Kansas’ gay population that the state’s head is not happy with their presence and is going to withhold whatever rights he can. Why this governor thinks he is more knowledgeable on necessary laws than the Supreme Court is beyond me.

If I were a Kansan, I’d be calling up that governor and letting him know that intimidation and discrimination against a state’s sexual minorities  is not what he was elected to do.

And honestly, it looks like Governor Brokeback, I mean Brownback, has some skeletons in his closet…just sayin

 

 

Three UK Muslim Men Found Guilty Over Anti Gay Leaflets

Three men in the United Kingdom are now the first ever to be convicted in the nation for inciting hatred on the basis sexual orientation.

The men, Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed, and Razwan Javed, all claim to be devout Muslims and cited their faith in leaflets distributed during the Derby 2010 Pride Festival on Rosehill Street. One leaflet, seen on the right, called for the death of gays, saying:

“The death sentence is the only way this immoral crime can be erased from corrupting society and act as a deterrent for any other ill person who is remotely inclined in this bent way,”

Other leaflets posted by the men depicted the word “GAY” as an acronym to read “God Abhors You”, as well as one warning homosexuals that they must  “Turn or Burn”. This second leaflet showed a person burning in a lake of fire with the word “homosexual” crossed out with a red line.

The Derby Crown Court convicted the men under the United Kingdom’s Crime and Disorder Act of 1998, which makes it illegal to exhibit hateful behavior toward a social minority group based on their membership in that group. To be found guilty the accused’s behavior had to have caused or been likely to cause a feeling of harassment, alarm or distress. The Crime and Disorder Act of 1998 was amended by the Criminal Justice Act of 2003 requiring courts to expand the bases for a conviction from religion and race to also include sexual orientation.

I have always wondered whether people who distribute “hate” materials believe they may potentially save someone or if they simply want to make us feel as repressed and angry as they do?  Did these men really believe I am going to burn in a lake of fire because I have loved a man? Couldn’t these people spend their time more wisely by doing charitable works? What happened to inspiring by example rather than fear?

Recently, I have been reading Reconciliation by Benazir Bhutto the deceased former Prime Minister of Pakistan. She writes of Islam as an open minded religion that permitted its people to thrive in the Golden Age  inspiring great intellect and advancement while Europe remained in the Dark Ages.  As with many religions,  including Christianity and Judaism, Islam has been twisted to serve the needs of its greatest proponents.  Islam will continue to be stigmatized until its fundamentalist followers get back to the religion’s roots of tolerance, peace, and education including  and beyond the Quran. Fire and brimstone only work for so long…

Source: BBC NEWS,  ThisIsGuernsey

Over 70 American Mayors Sign Statement Advocating Marriage Equality

The Freedom to Marry campaign has enlisted the help of over 70 American city mayors to push for marriage equality across the country in the organization’s “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” program.

Each of the mayors has signed an advocacy statement encouraging the equal treatment of American citizens and furthering the civil rights movement to include sexual minorities. I am glad to see these mayors supporting their constituents and pushing for our rights! Below is a list of the signatory mayors and their cities, if your mayor hasn’t signed start making calls!

Current Mayors for the Freedom to Marry:

Michael Bloomberg – New York, NY (Chair) Thomas Menino – Boston, MA (Chair)
Annise Parker – Houston, Texas (Chair) Jerry Sanders – San Diego, CA (Chair)
Antonio Villaraigosa – Los Angeles, CA (Chair) Samuel Adams – Portland, OR
Tom Bates – Berkeley, CA William Bell – Durham, NC
David Berger – Lima, OH Richard Bloom – Santa Monica, CA
Cory Booker – Newark, NJ Bruce Botelho – Juneau, AK
Ardell Brede – Rochester, MN Christopher Cabaldon – W. Sacramento, CA
John Callahan – Bethlehem, PA Stephen Cassidy – San Leandro, CA
Craig Cates – Key West, FL Mark Chilton – Carrboro, NC
Joshua Cohen – Annapolis, MD Chris Coleman – St. Paul, MN
Dennis Coombs – Longmont, CO Joy Cooper – Hallandale Beach, FL
Frank Cownie – Des Moines, IA John Duran – West Hollywood, CA
Paul Dyster – Niagara Falls, NY Rahm Emanuel – Chicago, IL
Bill Finch – Bridgeport, CT Peter Fosselman – Kensington, MD
Bob Foster – Long Beach, CA Laura Friedman – Glendale, CA
Ava Frisinger – Issaquah, WA Marie Gilmore – Alameda, CA
Mike Gin, Redondo Beach, CA Vincent Gray – Washington, D.C.
George Heartwell – Grand Rapids, MI John Hieftje – Ann Arbor, MI
Bobby Hopewell – Kalamazoo, MI Sylvester James, Jr. – Kansas City, MO
Edward Kelly – Cleveland Heights, OH Mark Kleinschmidt – Chapel Hill, NC
Mark Kruzan – Bloomington, IN Don Lane – Santa Cruz, CA
Timothy Leavitt – Vancouver, WA Edwin Lee – San Francisco, CA
Lee Leffingwell – Austin, TX Craig Lowe – Gainesville, FL
David Lublin – Town of Chevy Chase, MD Karen Majewski – Hamtramck, MI
Jan Marx – San Luis Obispo, CA Mike McGinn – Seattle, WA
Alex Morse – Holyoke, MA Lori Moseley – Miramar, FL
Jeri Muoio – West Palm Beach, FL David Narkewicz – Northampton, MA
Don Ness – Duluth, MN Michael Nutter – Philadelphia, PA
Frank Ortis – Pembroke Pines, FL Kitty Piercy – Eugene, OR
Steve Pougnet – Palm Springs, CA Jean Quan – Oakland, CA
Thomas Richards – Rochester, NY Clarissa Rowe – Arlington, MA
Matthew Ryan – Binghampton, NY RT Rybak – Minneapolis, MN
Robert Sabonjian – Waukegan, IL Helene Schneider – Santa Barbara, CA
Ann Schwab – Chico, CA Pedro Segarra – Hartford, CT
Eric Senter – Franklinton, NC Jeffrey Slavin – Town of Somerset, MD
Paul Soglin – Madison, WI Marilyn Strickland – Tacoma, WA
Angel Taveras – Providence, RI Nick Tell – Manhattan Beach, CA
Elizabeth Tisdahl – Evanston, IL Setti Warren – Newton, MA
Bruce Williams – Takoma Park, MD Dana Williams – Park City Park, UT

Los Angeles Approves Ordinance to Enforce Condom Use on Adult Film Sets

Los Angeles’ city council has approved an ordinance requiring adult film actors to use condoms while filming .

The ordinance was approved last week and has since been met with threats from major adult film production companies that they will leave Los Angeles if the ordinance is enforced.  The ordinance was sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and allows the city to deny filming permits to production companies that fail to abide the measure.  There is already a law in California under OSHA that requires condom use by adult film workers to protect themselves from blood-borne pathogens including HIV.

Although I may be met with consternation from my more liberal readers, I believe condom use should be enforced in adult films. In this day and age much of adolescents initial exposure to sex is through the internet where they find pornography. Young people take cues from what they see in these films, and this isn’t the old “violence on television creates violence in society” argument that I believe has little basis. In this case, you have a group of uninformed individuals who are impressionable and have never experience sex looking to adult film to sate their curiosity. Don’t get me wrong, I am not some conservative abstinence-pusher, but why not make the responsible choice as an employer and a producer of a consumer good and protect your employees and your audience?

Not only are adult films telling them not to use condoms, but young people are able to put on MTV and see 16 year old mothers glorified as they “struggle” through single parenthood with the help of $60, 000 in pay from the network. None of what is being marketed is realistic.  Most disturbing to me is the growing popularity of gay “bareback videos”. HIV and AIDS killed great numbers and members of our community in the past.  Many gay men have struggled to find an identity and to form healthy relationships now that we have legal rights. The development of our role in society and how to maneuver a same-sex relationship may have been much easier if those gay men in the public eye of the past were still alive to teach us by example. Foregoing condom use will lead to another epidemic and possibly another lost generation grabbing at straws to form an identity. What if our generation isn’t there to say “it gets better”?

Source: Washington Post

Indiana is First State to Distribute LGBT Cause License Plates

Indiana is now the first state to offer license  plates depicting LGBT causes, after twice being denied their requests by local courts.

Beginning in February, the state will offer these plates for an additional fee of $40 which feature the Indiana Youth Group logo of six hands in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.  Twenty-five of those dollars will go directly to support LGBT causes including sensitivity training in schools and service agencies.

The decision to make the plates came after Indiana’s Civil Liberties Union sued the states department of motor vehicles for LGBT plates and were denied twice. The state claimed that the funds could not be used for Indiana Youth Group’s staff salaries, and that the group did not demonstrate the project’s statewide impact.

 

Canadian Same-Sex Marriages Not in Jeopardy Afterall

Good news came for same-sex couples married in Canada in a joint statement was released by Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and Freedom to Marry rebutting the claims of a Canadian attorney that Canadian same-sex marriages are legally invalid.

A Canadian government attorney alleged that a same-sex couple married in Canada could not file for divorce in their province because their marriage had no legal validity, and therefore did not require court dissolution.  The LGBT rights organizations listed above have denied the attorney’s claim as unfounded and cite the right to same-sex marriage codified into legislation in 2005. The joint statement can be read below:

* * * * * * * * *

January 12, 2012 —The following is a joint statement from Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and Freedom to Marry:

Canadian Marriages of Same-Sex Couples Are Not in Jeopardy

We write to respond to a news report from Canada that a lawyer in the current government has taken a position in a trial-level divorce proceeding that a same-sex couple’s marriage is not valid because the members of the couple were not Canada residents at the time that they married, and the law of their home jurisdiction did not permit them to marry at the time.

No one’s marriage has been invalidated or is likely to be invalidated. The position taken by one government lawyer in a divorce is not itself precedential. No court has accepted this view and there is no reason to believe that either Canada’s courts or its Parliament would agree with this position, which no one has asserted before during the eight years that same-sex couples have had the freedom to marry in Canada.

Canada permits non-residents to marry and thousands of non-resident same-sex couples have married there since Canada first began recognizing the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in 2003. Indeed, Canada’s Parliament codified the equal right to marry for same-sex couples in 2005.

The message for same-sex couples married in Canada remains the same as it is for same-sex couples validly married here in the United States: take every precaution you can to protect your relationship with legal documents such as powers of attorney and adoptions, as you may travel to jurisdictions that don’t respect your legal relationship. There is no reason to suggest that Canadian marriages of same-sex couples are in jeopardy, or to advocate that people try to marry again elsewhere, as that could cause these couples unnecessary complications, anxiety, and expense.

Source: Towle Road

Turkey High Court of Appeals Finds for Lesbian and Gay Citizens After Insulting News Headline

The High Court of Appeals in Turkey has ordered a newspaper to pay damages for insulting lesbian and gay readers in a 2008 headline.

The newspaper, Yeni Akit now called Vakit, ran a story titled “Üskül prefers perverts” referring to the former head of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission’s, Zafer Üskül’s, attendace at the “International Anti-Homophobism Meeting”  organized by a Turkish LGBT rights organization, KAOS GL.

A lawsuit was brought not by Üskül(where I would have expected it to come from, defending his heterosexuality), but instead  on behalf of KAOS GL and was rejected by two Ankara courts finding that the newspaper was “within the limits of criticism”.  The High Court of Appeals then heard the case and found in favor of KAOS GL declaring :”The freedom of the press does not encompass the freedom to insult the personal freedoms of individuals.” I am glad the Turkish High Court of Appeals got this one right!

Source: Vestnik Kavkaza

 

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