#Politics

House Conservatives Are Not Happy With LGBTQ Protections in the North American Trade Pact

The new United State-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, has yet to be signed but may contain protections for LGBTQ workers, but many conservative members of the House of Representatives are upset about that and are urging Donald Trump to rescind such protections, according to Politico.

The provisions, a Canadian creation, would require there to be policies in place to protect workers from discrimination based on one's sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, as well as requiring countries to promote workplace equality with regard to gender identity and sexual orientation. This language has never been seen in any trade agreement before, causing a rift between democratic and conservative members of the House of Representatives. 

Conservatives believe that by implementing this new policy would undo other administration policies and it would make it impossible to dismantle certain executive actions put into place under the Obama administration that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against someone on the basis of their sexual orientation. In addition to the executive orders, the Justice Department under Obama said that "sex" includes sexual orientation and gender identity, making it illegal to discriminate against someone for being on the LGBTQ spectrum, but when Jeff Sessions became the Attorney General, this decision was reversed, reverting back to 1964 when it was perfectly legal to victimize LGBTQ people. So, yes technically this new policy does go against the Trump administration but it is a good thing.

A letter that was written by over forty lawmakers to Donald Trump includes their concerns with the policy, saying “It is especially inappropriate and insulting to our sovereignty to needlessly submit to social policies which the United States Congress has so far explicitly refused to accept.” It also mentions the Department of Health and Human services reverting back to changing the definition of "sex" to one's anatomical genitalia. This is very telling of how some conservatives and the Congress view LGBTQ people.

However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a group with a Democratic majority, still operates under Obama's policy that outlaws discrimination based on one's sexual orientation and gender identity, so there is still hope that LGBTQ protections won't be completely eradicated.

New "NO GAYS ALLOWED" Campaign Spotlights An Anti-Gay Hate Group

A “NO GAYS ALLOWED” sign has appeared above Times Square on Tuesday (November 13), but it might not be as bad as you imagine.

As NBC News reports, the sign, which has a smaller message at the bottom reading, “STOP Alliance Defending Freedom. Learn more at NoGays.org,” is actually in support of LGBTQ rights.

The sign is much like the “I Hate Steven Singer” signs, which are actually negatively-worded but creative advertisements for a jewelry store. In this case, the billboard was created by pro-LGBTQ group Citizens of Transparency.

Caleb Cade, a spokesperson for Citizens of Transparency, says that the negatively worded billboard uses the rhetoric of Christian-based hate group Alliance Defending Freedom to shine a light on them.

“We want to remind people that there are still really insidious forces at work against our community,” Cade said to NBC News. “ADF has been leading that war for a long time, with tens of millions of dollars to do it.”

But what did the ADF do to become the COF’s target? The organization has repeatedly supported legal battles over religious freedom.

For example, the ADF supported the Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jake Phillips during his Supereme Court battle. In addition, the organization is defending a professor who received a warning from his Ohio-based university after he refused to address a transgender student by her preferred gender terms. Then on top of that, they are also defending a funeral home that fired a transgender employee due to their religious beliefs.

The website in which the campaign sign refers to also tries to point out the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric that ADF spreads.

That said, ADF itself says that this campaign is based on lies.

“ADF is one the nation’s most respected and successful Supreme Court advocates, working to preserve our fundamental freedoms of speech, religion and conscience,” wrote ADF senior counsel Jeremy Tedesco to NBC News. “ADF is not litigating any cases, pursuing any legislation, nor supporting the passage of any laws domestically or internationally that criminalize sodomy.”

In addition, the Citizens for Transparency’s message seems to be getting lost in translation as first responses to the sign are showing.

With the upfront message being so bold and glaring, it’s a wonder how many are taking the time to see the real story behind it.

If spreading hate to expose hate is what the Citizens for Transparency are trying to do, they have succeeded. But, is more harm than good being done?

LGBTQ Migrants Who Seek Freedoms Encounter Discrimination Among Others

A caravan with close to 80 LGBTQ individuals arrived in Tijuana, Baja California on Sunday only to be welcomed by opposition from the residents of the area. The caravan is comprised of people who separated from the main caravan of Central American migrants because of discrimination among the other travelers reports NBC.

Loly Mendez, a 28-year-old trans woman from El Salvador shared her experience:

In my country there is violence, a lack of work and opportunities. In the caravan there is also violence — against the LGBTQ community.

I am going to a country where I know I will achieve my dreams.

The group has traveled more than 1,000 miles, many of those miles have been on foot, others hitching rides on trucks, buses, or any vehicle they can. Many will charge a small fee to transport migrant groups, but the price goes up for the LGBTQ. They have even been kicked out mid-ride by transporters.

Lady Perez, a 23-year-old from Honduras said:

In our country the rights of the LGBTQ community are not respected, and anti-social groups take advantage of that. They have denigrated us. Supposedly you're emigrating from your country because of the violence, the discrimination, the homophobia, and it turns out that in the very caravan you face this kind of violence.

Those LGBTQ individuals who joined the separate caravan wanted safety in numbers since they were being threatened and ridiculed since they left their homelands. Those who arrived to Tijuana are staying in an Airbnb that is being financed by a group of unnamed American lawyers as you will see in the video below captured by journalist Jorge Nieto. In the video you can witness residents of the Playas de Tijuana area opposing the group of LGBTQ individuals for fear that they will be persecuted and bring more issues to the area.

The neighborhood association made a Spanish public post on Facebook reading. Translation of the statement reads:

We spoke with Efrén González, coordinator of human rights and César Mejia, leader of the LGBT community, members of the migrant caravan, commenting that they were guided and supported by US lawyers to solve their immigration status, they estimate that their stay will be one week in the house they rented on Olas Altas street. They will be presenting themselves 15 people at a time to the United States border to resolve their immigration status, there are 77 people, are organized as follows; CDH staff supports them to make their food purchases, they will avoid walking around the streets, talking loudly, avoid making noise at night. They were warned that the area is patrolled, that there is insecurity, that they avoid being confused. We agree that respect should prevail, since this section is continually affected by crime and we do not want both them and us to be harmed.

César first, apologizes because he asserts that he was upset when he was approached by some neighbors and considers that if he does not manage to resolve his issue in a week they will look for a shelter. Neighbors, we ask for tolerance, and tomorrow I will seek to speak with the Delegate to give us security given the conditions of the section.

 

 

José Martínez, a resident of Playas de Tijuana shared his perspective with Spanish media outlet Desastre.mx. Translation of his statement reads:

We have nothing against them, but we also don’t want them to come out with their colorful flags to provoke us…I’m not against gays or anything like that, but it’s not fair that I have a small daughter and I don’t want to her to see any of that. Why? Because men kissing other men should be done in the privacy of their own home, they shouldn’t bring that to our community.

The LGBTQ caravan includes many individuals who are escaping unbearable and dangerous conditions in Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. They seek asylum in a place where there is hope and resources for their community. Just days ago Trump signed an executive order that states that applicants for asylum will be ineligible unless they are coming to a designated port of entry. Tijuana borders San Diego, a designated port of entry, but asylum seekers could face problems during the process.

Watch the video of the interaction between members of the LGBTQ migrant caravan and the Tijuana community who opposes their presence.

h/t: NBC, Jorge Nieto, Desastre.mx, Ricardo Peralta

Sam Park, Georgia's First Out Asian-American Politician, Was Re-elected Into Office

It’s a great reality when we are still collecting stories from last Tuesday’s elections of LGBTQ politicians winning their races. The latest wonderful news is about Democratic Representative Samuel Park.

Park is the first Asian-American man elected to Georgia’s state legislature as a State Representative. He won that title last year when he became the representative for House District 101, and now he is able to retain that position for another term.

 

 

One main reason the 33-year-old Sam Park originally ran for office was to fight for health equality. A cause near and dear to him as his mother was fighting a battle with cancer.

"While we still have not expanded Medicaid to cover more than half a million Georgians, that's still a fight that I'm continuing." - NBC News

While his mother lived long enough to witness her son win his candidacy the first time and see him take office, she sadly died earlier this year.

Another factor playing into Park’s political goals was his desire to stop harmful anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ legislation. This is in part because of his belief in basic human rights, but also because he is a gay man who was raised by South Korean immigrants.

Park hopes to harness the diversity that exists in Georgia to help move the state forward. He did so in his own county of Gwinnett (where the median age is 35 and where a quarter of voters are below the age of 30) and he hopes to do it with the whole state in the future.

The Republican Party still holds the majority in the State's House of Representatives, something Sam Park will have to contend with.

“It’s important for us to introduce and work on passing legislation we think would benefit the state to at least demonstrate to those we represent what exactly it is that we are fighting for,” he said. “Being in the minority, it’s difficult to pass legislation, but that still doesn’t mean you can’t do it.” - NBC News

Congratulations to Sam Park on the re-election win and best of luck in the future. We're sure you will continue to help our community and show it support, like in this #NationalComingOutDay video released earlier this year.

 

 

h/t: NBC News

Following a Democratic Win, Four States Move to Ban Conversion Therapy

For years, LGBTQ people have been subject to the abhorrent practice known as conversion therapy, in which people attempt to cure their "patients" of homosexuality. Fortunately, enough people realized that this practice does more harm than good and have worked to have it banned in several states (New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, and New Hampshire). According to Into More, following the midterm election results where Democrats gained multiple seats in the local and federal government, it appears that four more states Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York, are planning on banning conversion therapy. 

NEW YORK

Openly gay Senator Brad Hoylman of New York said that the Republican party that controlled the State Senate at the time "blocked every piece of LGBTQ legislation since 2011." He also commented that he was sure that the Republicans will continue to try and block LGBTQ legislation and that would not change unless the State Senate had a Democratic majority. In 2018, New York approved a bill that would have prohibited conversion therapy from being performed on minors, but Republicans in the State Senate would not allow the bill to reach them. After November 6, Democrats will hold 35 out of 63 Senate seats in New York, hopefully the help and the majority needed to get protective LGBTQ legislation passed. Hoylman is hopeful that positive change will occur, as he saw record turnout among Democrats and he realized that many Republicans do not feel represented by their party anymore. 

COLORADO

The election of Jared Polis of Colorado, also an openly gay politician, indicates that change is also coming to the Centennial State. There is now a 19-16 Democratic Senate majority in Colorado, which will hopefully allow the state legislature to push forward with protective LGBTQ legislation.

MAINE

In Maine, Republican governor Paul LePage vetoed a conversion therapy bill, making him the first Governor to do so. Newly elected Governor Janet Mills promised once she became the new governor of Maine to sign a bill to conversion therapy. In a March 2018 statement, Mills said she recognizes the harm that conversion therapy causes, the anxiety, depression, homelessness, and other harmful effects.

"LGBTQ people don’t need to be ‘fixed'. As governor, I will make sure LGBTQ young people in Maine hear from their political leaders that they are respected and valued, not broken."

MASSACHUSETTS

In Massachusetts, both the House and Senate supported a bill that would ban conversion therapy, but could not reconcile the differences of their versions. It is projected that such a bill will be reconsidered in 2019. 

NEXT?

It is clear that the increase of Democrats and LGBTQ citizens involved in and having positions in the government will lead to positive changes and more protective LGBTQ legislation in the near future as such things have been neglected for far too long. 


h/t: Into More

Colorado Will Have Nonbinary Option on Licenses, ID Cards.

Gender identity is a significant aspect in many people's lives, but some do not fit neatly into the male/female mold. Unfortunately, many places do not have the option to mark one's gender as nonbinary so anyone who does not identity as either gender has to lie about their identity. However, Colorado is about the remedy this situation by allowing residents to mark X for nonbinary on their driver's licenses and other forms of identification effective starting November 30, according to 9 News.

With these new rules, people will be able to choose from M (male), F (female), or X (nonbinary) when applying for driver's licenses and identification cards. Anyone who wishes to change their existing gender marker on those IDs will have to fill out and submit, in person, a DR2083 Change of Sex Designation form at no extra cost.

The Colorado Department of Revenue has been working closely with Governor Hickenlooper and the Joint ID Task force for over a year to ensure that obstacles pertaining to getting an ID would be dismantled. 

Michael Hartman, executive director of the CDOR said that this new policy will be good for all Coloradans, as he recognizes the importance of proper identification and correct representation of one's lived experience. He also commented that by adopting this new policy, the CDOR will be more closely aligned with recent legal developments. 

It's nice to see nonbinary identities becoming valid, as in most of the world, people do not recognize anything outside of the gender binary. Hopefully this new policy will help facilitate some change in the way that we, as a whole, view gender.


h/t: 9 News 

Dana Nesel, Michigan's First Openly Gay Attorney General, Kissed Her Wife In Honor Of Homophobes

One newly elected official is sending message to all the homophobes who were upset by her win.

This Wednesday, Dana Nessel found out that she became Michigan’s first openly gay attorney general with a slim lead of 48.5% of the vote.

After it was announced that she won, homophobes and supporters of her opponent, Republican Tom Leonard, swarmed the internet to complain.

Nessel didn’t let that get her down. Instead, she used that as a driving force of inspiration for her acceptance speech.

During the now viral speech, Nessel turned to her wife, Alanna Maguire, and said, “[I want to thank] my beautiful wife for sticking with me through all of this. Thank you Alanna, I love you.”

She then added, “And for all of you out there that can’t handle the fact that I am about to become the first openly gay person to hold state-wide office [in Michigan]…” before turning to kiss her wife wile on the air.

After the crowd cheered, Nessel said, “That was obnoxious, but I just had to do it.”

Congratulations to Dana Nessel. We look forward to seeing you do great things.

LGBTQ Employees in Kansas Will Have Protections Again

In many states across the US, LGBTQ employees face workplace discrimination because of their sexuality daily, and Kansas is one state that does not have protections in place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. Laura Kelly, who defeated Kris Kobach for the position of governor in the midterm elections, said that she will provide LGBTQ employees with protections in the workplace, according to The Wichita Eagle.

Kansas did at one point have protections, as from 2007 to 2015, LGBTQ people were protected from firing, harassment, and discrimination based on sexuality. In 2015, however, former governor Sam Brownback removed those protections after same-sex marriage became legal nationwide, as be felt that the order created a new protected class through executive action rather than legislative. 

Laura Kelly, in a news conference that touched upon issues such as foster care, LGBTQ rights, and her approach to filling the new administration, claimed that she would bring back protections for LGBTQ people, which was one her campaign promises. According to the Human Rights Campaign, only a minority of states have full protections for LGBTQ in employment and in the middle of the country, ranging from North Dakota to Texas, there are no protections in place. However, things are changing in Kansas as two LGBTQ people, Brandon Woodard and Susan Ruiz, both won seats for the Kansas House of Representatives and as Sharice Davids, a Native-American lesbian won a seat in Kansas' third congressional district. 

As well as workplace discrimination, Kelly wants to require adoption agencies with state contracts not to discriminate against LGBTQ couples who want to adopt, as a policy that was instated allowed adoption agencies to turn away same-sec couples due to conflicts with religious beliefs. Groups who support this policy, such as the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas says that Kelly is "an enemy of life, family and religious freedom" and that her campaign promises are inconsistent with the values that the people of Kansas hold dear.

But judging by the results of the midterm election, do Kansans really hold those beliefs dearly?


h/t: The Wichita Eagle 

Watch Out Palm Springs: A City In Florida Just Elected An All-LGBTQ City Commission

The hits keep on rolling.

We’re now receiving news that a city in Florida has elected an all-LGBTQ city commission this past Tuesday. This makes it the second city in the United States to have an all-LGBTQ city council, after Palm Springs, California did the same last year.

According to CNN, the city in question is the LGBTQ-friendly city of Wilton Manors. According to data from the 2010 U.S. Census, Wilton Manors has the second-highest percentage of gay couples in a city, after Provincetown, Mass.

As for who was elected into office, Wilton Manors’s commission hosts spots for the mayor and four commissioners.

Former mayor Gary Resnick won a standard commissioner seat, and former commissioner Justin Flippen will stay on the commission but this time as the newly elected mayor. In addition, Paul Rolli won the second commissioner seat after Commissioner Scott Newton, who was straight, lost his re-election bid.

Resnick, Flippen, and Rolli are joining Julie Carson and Tom Green who are both in the middle of their terms.

On top of this news, Florida is celebrating the election of three new openly LGBTQ legislators, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Democrat Jennifer Web has become the first open lesbian to be elected to the state House of Representatives. In addition, State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida’s first openly gay Latino legislator, was re-elected on Tuesday. Lastly, State Rep. Shevrin Jones, who came out in August and became the first openly gay black legislator, ran unopposed during this mid-term election.

Congratulations to all of the newly elected officials and to Floridian citizens.

Womp Womp: Gays For Trump President Peter Boykin Loses House Race in N.C. By a Hefty Margin

There were some crushing defeats in yesterday’s midterm elections, and some extraordinary victories. I think it’s important that we focus on and celebrate the latter and keep fighting. 

For a moment anyway, let’s give a final farewell to Gays for Trump president Peter Boykin, who lost his bid for North Carolina legislature—by a hefty margin.

The 40-year-old openly gay Republican Boykin is the brains behind the MAGA Network, MagaOneRadio.net, and organizer of National March4Trump raliies in D.C.. 

Incumbent Amos Quick, a Democratic pastor, defeated Boykin in the 58th District race with about 77% of the vote. 

Gays for Trump have been associated with such class acts as Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter

To this credit (sort of, I guess), Boykin more or less tweeted his concession graciously. 

Here are a few tweets from this piece of work for you to study. Enjoy. 

h/t: The Advocate 

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