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Friday, February 03, 2017

LGBTQ News Compilation-February 3

Trump immigration order endangers LGBT Syrian refugees

Washington, D.C. - Donald Trump executive orders suspending the US Refugee Admissions Program and banning people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen from entering the US will have devastating consequences for thousands of LGBT refugees fleeing Iraq and Syria. According to an HRC study, titled “Helping LGBTQ Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the Age of ISIL,” the jihadi group “continues to actively target and execute Gay men,” leaving them no option but to try to escape to countries like the United States.

“ISIL has unleashed a reign of terror against civilians and vulnerable minorities living in areas it has seized, including barbarous violence against LGBTQ people,: the HRC report warns. “ISIL's extreme ideology is interpreted by its followers to require the death penalty for those who engage in sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage, including same-sex sexual relations. Therefore, gay and bisexual men in particular, or men alleged to have sex with men, have been publicly identified as targets for violence and have been methodically hunted down through social media and through their phone logs. When caught, many are subjected to extreme violence, including torture. The methods that ISIL has used to murder gay and bisexual men have been incredibly vicious. ISIL has tied nooses around these men's necks and dragged them behind trucks, burned them alive, thrown them off buildings, stoned them to death, and glued their rectums shut and abandoned them in the desert to die.”

According to The Advocate,CEO of Lambda Legal, Rachel B. Tiven, called the orders n-American." “We are not a country that discriminates against people based on religion or nationality. We are not a country that builds wall between ourselves and the rest of world. As a Jew whose grandparents watched in frustration while President Roosevelt refused to admit refugees from Nazi Germany, I am embarrassed for my country today," Tiven said in a statement. “America is a beacon for LGBT people around the world, and restricting rather than expanding access to our shores harms us all. Donald Trump’s actions may score him points with his political base, but those points will come at the expense of lives lost, families broken apart and billions of taxpayer dollars wasted.” (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at sgn.org & The Advocate at advocate.com)


Gay Star Trek says Trump has no core values

New York City, NY - When presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the country, George Takei was performing on Broadway in his musical Allegiance, the show based on his childhood experience in a World War II internment camp for Japanese-Americans. Trump’s plan, he said, shows “the same sort of mentality that put Japanese-Americans in internment camps.” After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. was swept up in racism, and “We looked like them,” Takei said, referring to the Japanese who had bombed Pearl Harbor. “With no charges, we were swept up, simply because of my grandparents who were immigrants.”

“They’re now talking about a Muslim registry,” George said. “That’s how it started with us.” After the registry, Takei said, came a curfew that required Japanese-Americans to be home between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. Then their bank accounts were frozen. “We had no access to our life savings,” he said. “Then soldiers came for us.” In 1942, when George was five, the Takei family was arrested and forced to live in a horse stable in Santa Anita Park before being transferred to a concentration camp in Rohwer, Ark. “We are determined not to let that happen again,” he said.

Trump has no core values, Takei said, which makes him difficult to gauge, hard to negotiate with and harder to hold to his agreements. In 2012, he was a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice. When Trump made some disparaging statements about same-sex marriage to the press, Takei invited him to lunch. “So why won’t you support marriage equality?” Takei asked.  “Well, I support traditional marriage,” Takei said they agreed to disagree, but he is as confused as anyone on what Trump actually believes. Once he got the nomination, Trump called marriage equality a settled issue, but then named Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, the person who would defend marriage rights. “Jeff Sessions. Of all people,” Takei said. And of the rest of the cabinet? “All with a history of homophobia, sexism, racism.” (Dallas Voice – David Taffet at dallasvoice.com)


White House website stripped of LGBTQ issues

Washington, D.C. – Internet rumors ran amok when multiple White House pages disappeared on inauguration day. The previous administration’s information on LGBTQ rights, climate change, civil rights and other issues were seemingly taken down. In reality, the pages were moved to a different URL, ObamaWhiteHouse.gov, but their absence from the official White House site is no less alarming.

The absence of a current page on LGBTQ rights may signal serious concern. After the historic strides forward in the past eight years -- nationwide marriage equality, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, among others -- just what is the risk with the incoming administration? The Daily Beast’s Samantha Allen wrote at length about the risks to LGBTQ Americans under the Trump and, especially, his blatantly anti-LGBTQ cabinet. “Pro-LGBT protections enacted through executive orders -- like anti-discrimination protections for federal contractors -- could be quickly and easily eliminated,” Allen suggested. “Undoing marriage equality would be an ordeal…but it’s still possible if Trump follows through on his Supreme Court picks and the right cases come along.”

The website controversy seems to bring all of these hypothetical scenarios into the realm of possibility. After all, the previous administration’s page on LGBTQ rights might have just been updated to reflect the new president’s views. Trump himself has spoken moderately on LGBTQ issues, despite his horrifically anti-LGBTQ vice president and cabinet. But instead of an update, the page was entirely removed and placed at a different URL. Does this inspire hope, or fear? The issues that do appear on the official WhiteHouse.gov site are consistent with Trump’s campaign promises. The president is still steadfast in his conviction to build a border wall, and one page titled “Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community” asserts that “the dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong.” Another priority is to remain “committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.” With these issues standing front and center, progressive Americans are quaking in their seats. Not only is the new administration actively negating the strides of the past eight years, but it’s also ignoring key issues like racial and LGBTQ equality. Civil rights, to Mr. Trump, are a nonissue. (Q Notes Online - Maria Dominguez at goqnotes.com)


Millions march after Trump sworn in with hope and fear

Washington, D.C. – Millions of people marched in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, and cities throughout the country and the world on Saturday, January 21 in response to the election and inauguration of Trump. Hundreds of thousands of people swarmed Washington to protest him. Estimates vary, but the New York Times estimates at least 470,000 people attended the Women’s March in Washington, It was D.C. Metro’s second-busiest day in the city’s history, with more than a million trips taken on the system in a 19-hour time span, according to Washington Post. The city’s busiest day was President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.

There were huge marches in major cities around the country, and the world — even in Antarctica. More than 2 million protesters marched against the new Trump administration. This all started because a Hawaiian grandmother posted her frustrations on Facebook the day after the election, 673 rallies occurred in a single day. According to the march’s vision statement, the rhetoric of the last election has insulted several demographics of people, from women to Muslims to those who identify as LGBTQIA. Thus, the mission of the march was to protect not just women’s rights but human rights as a whole.

The march began with a rally near the National Mall Saturday morning, which included renowned speakers such as feminist icon Gloria Steinem, civil rights activist Angela Davis, filmmaker Michael Moore, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and actress America Ferrera. From there, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched down 14th Street NW, displaying their multitudes of signs with unique decorations and sayings (some crude rebukes of past statements by Trump). The march ended — officially — near the White House at 5 p.m. Protests continued into the evening though, with some people staying outside the White House. Many hope that the march and other around the country will inspire  new wave of activism n organizing, (Dallas Voice – Mathew Shaw at dallasvoice.com)


Thousands protests Trumps visit to Philadelphia for GOP Retreat

Philadelphia, PA - Chants of “we are the people,” “black lives matter” and “queer lives matter” could be heard from Thomas Paine Plaza Thursday afternoon, January 26 as Trump visited the Republican Congressional Retreat blocks away to deliver a speech to the GOP about his political agenda. Thousands of protesters had their voices heard at “Resistance in Philly: Fighting for our Lives.” One Pennsylvania, a nonprofit organization, hosted the event, which featured speakers from several LGBT and LGBT-friendly organizations. Shani Akilah, creator and co-founder of the Black and Brown Workers Collective, was among the speakers at the demonstration. “We need to listen to our intuition,” Akilah added. “This is the time for battle.” Akilah repeated the word “battle” three times as the crowd responded with cheers.

Jose DeMarco led the group with the chant ACT UP Philadelphia has been using for more than 20 years. “Act up. Fight back. Fight AIDS,” the crowd chanted with DeMarco. DeMarco interjected occasionally with, “Fight Trump” during the chants. Joanna Segal and Alyssa Shilliday, who both identify as pansexual, were decked out in rainbow scarfs during the demonstration. Segal, 32, said she is worried for the future of same-sex marriage and Planned Parenthood. Shilliday, 32, said she is concerned about what Trump’s “outspoken and inappropriate behavior” could imply for others. “He’s allowing that cab driver to not pick me up when I’m with my girlfriend,” Shilliday said. “He’s allowing that Uber driver to say something nasty to me. Diana Hunt, 59, who identifies as straight and white, said her main reason for participating in the demonstration is because of the Black Lives Matter movement.

After about an hour-and-a-half at Thomas Paine Plaza, the protestors marched in formation around City Hall and down Market Street toward 13th Street, joining another anti-Trump protest. Police blockades prevented the demonstrators from getting any closer to the Loews Hotel at 12th and Market, where the Republican event is being held. The night before, at least 1,000 demonstrators gathered for the Queer Rage(r): Guerilla Dance Party, where LGBT people and allies had a party outside of the Loews Hotel where Trump was stayin. (Philadelphia Gay News – Jeremy Rodriguez at epgn.com)


Catholic School teacher sues after being fired for marriage

Charlotte, NC - A Charlotte teacher has initiated a lawsuit alleging discrimination on the basis of sexuality. Lonnie Billard had a 14-year career at Charlotte Catholic High School and says he was out and proud about his sexuality throughout. Beginning as a substitute teacher, Billard was hired full-time in 2001 and retired in 2013, staying on as a substitute again. Billard says that during his career at Charlotte Catholic, colleagues and students knew about his sexuality. He even brought his partner, Richard Donham, to school functions.

The tacit acceptance of Billard’s sexuality changed after a Facebook post in October of 2014 announcing the couple’s impending marriage.“I thank all the courageous people who had more guts than I who refused to back down and accept anything but ‘equal,’” the post read. “P.S. If you don’t agree with this…keep it to yourself.” Unfortunately, the church’s reaction to Billard’s marriage was not kept to itself. Two months later, the semester ended and Billard was formally fired. The school’s assistant principal told him it was a response to his Facebook post about his marriage. Representatives of the Diocese agreed. Less than a month later, David Hains, director of communications for the Diocese, said the firing was a result of Billard “going on Facebook, entering into a same-sex relationship, and saying it in a very public way that he does not agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Billard’s lawyers, led by the ACLU of North Carolina, claim that since his teaching job was secular, he cannot be held to religious standards. They say that firing him for his same-sex marriage constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Billard was recognized for his excellence as a teacher. Students nominated him for Teacher of the Year every year since the award’s genesis in 2005. He won the title in 2012, his final year teaching full-time. “I loved being part of the Charlotte Catholic school community, and the classroom has always felt like home to me,” Billard said in a statement. (Q Notes Online - Maria Dominguez at goqnotes.com)


Philly releases report on racism in the gay neighborhood

Philadelphia, PA - The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations offered recommendations to combat racism and discrimination in the Gayborhood at a press conference January 23. In its report, “Inform, Monitor, Enforce: Addressing Racism and Discrimination in Philadelphia’s LGBTQ Community,” the PCHR confirmed four findings: LGBTQ people of color, women and transgender people often feel unwelcome and unsafe in Gay neighborhood spaces; racism and discrimination have been ongoing issues among Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community for decades; the business practices of bars in the Gay neighborhood substantiate the numerous reports of racism and discrimination the PCHR heard; and past and current employees of certain LGBTQ social-service agencies report patterns of discrimination relating to the agencies’ employment practices.

To address these findings, PCHR offered four recommendations: bar owners and staff must receive training on the City of Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance (FPO) and implicit bias; board members, directors, management and staff of the Mazzoni Center and Philadelphia FIGHT must receive training on the FPO and implicit bias and other nonprofits serving the LGBTQ population should voluntarily participate in these trainings; the Independent Business Alliance (IBA), the region’s LGBT chamber of commerce, should provide training in leadership development for prospective and new board members; and nonprofits that receive city funding to provide services to the LGBTQ community must conform to the nondiscrimination provisions of the FPO and the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) requirements included in their professional service contracts with the City of Philadelphia. Posters detailing the Fair Practices Ordinance must be displayed at employee common areas at all Gayborhood bars within 30 days, and FPO training must be completed within 90 days. All implicit-bias training must be completed within 120 days, and bars and nonprofits must report completion of recommendations to PCHR.

In a statement to PGN, Mazzoni Center board president Jimmy Ruiz said the agency was grateful for the PCHR’s “work in putting this report together, as well as the individuals who came forward to share their stories and experiences, which was not easy for many of them to do.” Ruiz noted, however, that the organization had “concerns” that “at no point through the process did PCHR contact us to provide any explanation and/or response. Therefore, we feel that some of its conclusions are not based on providing all involved a voice.” Scott Wilds, president of FIGHT’s board of directors, urged that the report be revised so it does not discourage patients from using the organization’s services. He added staffers are not opposed to undergoing training. But, he said, “They did not check with us on any of these things before the report was released. It gives me pause as to what process the staff of the commission went through in reviewing it before it was sent out,” Wilds said. “We are happy to meet with the staff to discuss things.” (Philadelphia Gay News - Jeremy Rodriguez at epgn.com)

Beyond the Beltway

Beyond the Beltway

Compiled by Jim Becker

These news notes have been compiled, with permission, from the online version of various newspapers and other websites. We thank these publications for allowing us to bring you their news stories. Usually the reports have been significantly edited and you can read the full story by going to the website mentioned following the item. Comments are strictly the opinions of Jim Becker and not of Baltimore Outloud or Pride Media.

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