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Virginia Bans LGBTQ “Conversation Therapy” –Law To Go Into Effect July 1


POLITICS

Virginia Bans LGBTQ “Conversation Therapy” –Law To Go into Effect July 1

Lawmakers in Virginia have successfully banned “LGBTQ conversion” therapy for minors, making it the 20th state in the nation to protect youth from this discredited practice.

On March 3, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill that makes Virginia the 20th state in the nation to ban the practice of conversion therapy for minors. On February 3, the Virginia House of Delegates voted 66-27 to ban licensed therapists and counselors from subjecting LGBTQ+ youth to the practice, and on February 17, the Senate passed the House’s version 22-18 to approve the ban.

The Virginia law will go into effect July 1.

The practice of “conversation therapy” has been a running debate for years, and has been denounced by multiple pro-LGBTQ organizations like The Trevor Project, which released a survey in June 2019 that found that 42% of LGBTQ youth who underwent “conversion therapy” reported a suicide attempt in the prior year. The rates are even higher for transgender and non-binary youth, with 57% of respondents reporting a suicide attempt.

The Trevor Project is a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention and crisis intervention for LGBTQ and questioning youth.

Why Does This Matter?

Prohibiting the practice of “Conversation Therapy” would prevent health care providers from engaging in the unlawful and dangerous practice of deliberately attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The belief that gay people need to be “cured” of their sexual orientation also contributes to harassment and violence against the LGTBQ community and anyone else who doesn’t conform to rigid stereotypes of gender and sexuality.

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NBC News Exit Poll finds LGBTQ+ Support For Bernie Sanders


POLITICS

NBC News Exit Poll finds LGBTQ+ support for Bernie Sanders

According to an NBC News exit poll from Super Tuesday, 40 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender voters back Bernie Sanders.

According to an exit poll conducted by NBC News, in 12 of the 14 Super Tuesday states, 42 percent of LGBTQ voters – who make up a disproportionately high 9 percent of the electorate in these contests – went for Sen. Bernie Sanders, and 22 percent to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. This means that two-thirds of the LGBTQ votes went to the two most progressive Democrats on the ballot. Former Vice President Joe Biden garnered 19 percent support while former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg garnered only 6 percent.

The NBC news exit poll also tallied non-LGBTQ voters backing Joe Biden witht 34 percent support, Bernie Sanders with 31 percent, Elizabeth Warren with 13 percent, and Mike Bloomberg with 12 percent.

Why Does This Matter?

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has a long record of support for LGBTQ+ rights, such as opposing the “Defense of Marriage Act,” which defined marriage exclusive to “one man and one woman” and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages, and voting against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy that barred LGBTQ+ military service members from acknowledging their sexual orientation.

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Evangelical Preacher Is Suing Scottish Event Venue For Refusing To Let Him Spread Anti-LGBTQ+ Misinformation


RELIGION

Evangelical Preacher Is Suing Scottish Event Venue for Refusing to Let Him Spread Anti-LGBTQ+ Misinformation

Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and evangelical preacher known for defending the religious freedom of business owners that turn away LGBTQ customers, launched a lawsuit with a Glasgow venue for alleged discrimination against Christians.

After a Glasgow venue cancelled an event hosted by notorious anti-LGBTQ evangelical preacher Franklin Graham, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) launched legal proceedings to sue for “religious discrimination.” Graham has spent years defending controversial cases such as the one involving the Colorado bakery owners who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple. Graham has repeatedly praised business owners for standing up for their religious beliefs.

BGEA claims Scotland’s biggest concert venue, SSE Hydro, is discriminating against Christians by refusing to give the pastor a platform to spread anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. Graham’s May 30 event was canceled after shareholders of the Glasgow City Council voiced strong concerns about hosting Graham because it was likely hate speech and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric would be used at the event.

According to Graham’s website, the case has been expedited, and SSE Hydro is required to respond to the lawsuit and explain why they canceled Graham’s contract by February 27. News

Why Does This Matter?

“Religious freedom” has become a divisive issue in the US political conversation, especially around issues of sexuality and marriage, where GOP members see religious freedom as protection against having to accommodate things they cannot conscientiously support due to their religious beliefs; the DNC sees that argument as discriminatory and a violation of civil rights law, especially now that same-sex marriage is legal throughout the US.

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Pence Praises Rule that Would Let Adoption Agencies Exclude Gay Parents


POLITICS

Pence Praises Rule that Would Let Adoption Agencies Exclude Gay Parents

During an event at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington on November 2019, Vice President Mike Pence praised a rule proposed by the Trump administration that would grant federal funding to adoption agencies that refuse to place children with LGBTQ families.

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Photo by History in HD on Unsplash

Pence stated: “We’ve reversed the rule implemented in the closing days of the last administration that jeopardized the ability of faith-based providers to serve those in need by penalizing them for their deeply held religious beliefs… We will stand for the freedom of religion and we will stand with faith-based organizations to support adoption.”

According to a government report, more than 100,000 foster children are awaiting adoption, but a big percentage of religious agencies refuse to consider same-sex parents.

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, slammed Pence’s comments by saying, “Children should never be denied the opportunity to join a stable, loving family – even if that means the family is LGBTQ… Research has shown LGBTQ families provide the same kind of love, protection and support as other families, and no child should be denied that kind of environment.”

According to a report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, 1 in 5 of the estimated 114K same-sex couples in the United States are raising children that are either adopted or foster children, 3% higher than heterosexual couples.

Shoshana Goldberg, the lead author for this report, wrote, “Without these policies, a qualified population of prospective parents may not have equal access to government-funded child welfare agencies and services.”

The Trump administration’s proposal was praised by Catholic and evangelical organizations, as its main focus is to discriminate against LGBTQ people, based on these organizations’ religious beliefs.

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House Republican Introduces LGBTQ Discrimination Bill With Huge Religious Concessions


POLITICS

House Republican Introduces LGBTQ Discrimination Bill With Huge Religious Concessions

Utah Republican Rep. Chris Stewart introduced the Fairness For All Act (FFAA), the first time that a conservative Republican member of Congress has ever introduced legislation that benefits the LGBTQ community.

The bill would introduce sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, banning LGBTQ discrimination in education, employment, housing, and public accommodations.

According to LGBTQNation, this bill differs from the more comprehensive Equality Act, which passed the Democratic-led House in May 2019, in that it would allow religious organizations and small-business wedding vendors to continue discriminating against LGBTQ people. This new bill would require any business, with the exception of wedding vendors with over 15 employees, to serve LGBTQ people; it would also allow religious schools and colleges to retain their tax-exempt status even if they discriminate against LGBTQ people by refusing services such as public venue activities, adoptions, and more.

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Photo credit via DrawingWLightPhoto

Convervative groups like the Church of Latter-day Saints, the 1st Amendment Partnership, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the American Unity Fund, the Center for Public Justice, and the Council for Christian Colleges are all in support of the FFAA; however, some organizations aren’t so happy with this new proposed bill. The conservative Heritage Foundation called the proposal “misguided,” claiming it would “penalize” transphobic Christians, “violate the privacy and safety” of women and girls, and erode “the free speech and religious liberty rights” of any discriminatory person working outside of a religious organization. President Alphonso David of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) showed discontent for this bill, saying, “The so-called Fairness for All Act is an unacceptable, partisan vehicle that erodes existing civil rights protections based on race, sex and religion, while sanctioning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people.”

Why this matters?

This bill is designed to provide religious organizations and service providers the ability to discriminate based on race, sexual orientation, and gender identity, where they are explicitly prohibited under current federal law from discriminating based on other protected characteristics.

The FFAA bill also creates a new voucher system that aims to allow government-contracted religiously affiliated child welfare providers to discriminate against LGBTQ parents or single parents who do not meet the agency’s religious criteria.

If you are considering adoption, learn more in this article from the ACLU about how the Fairness For All Act might affect you.

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Rhode Island To Restore Benefits For LGBTQ Veterans Reclassifying Their Discharge As Honorable


POLITICS

Rhode Island To Restore Benefits For LGBTQ Veterans

According to the Associated Press, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed legislation promising veterans benefits for LGBTQ service members discharged for their sexual orientation.

This new state law establishes a process for veterans removed from the military for being part of the LGBTQ community and reclassifying their discharge as honorable, making state and local benefits available to veterans removed from service preceding former President Barack Obama’s repeal of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in the military. 

The Clinton Administration first introduced the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in an effort to allow gay and lesbian service members to continue serving if they did not reveal their sexuality. Prior to this policy, LGBTQ were not allowed to serve in the military at all, leading to many veterans being dishonorably discharged from the service for being gay between World War II and when the DADT policy took effect. 

Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson of Rhode Island, who sponsored the legislation, told the Warwick Post, “Today, gay members of the armed forces can serve proudly and openly since ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was repealed,” she said. “But that doesn’t absolve us of our duty and obligation to those who served with honor before then. Many gay service members who were unceremoniously shown the door have been denied benefits for decades.”

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The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe Passes Law On Hate Crime Protecting LGBTQ People


POLITICS

Indigenous Tribe Passes Law On Hate Crime Protecting LGBTQ People

According to South Dakota Public Broadcasting, the law is modeled after the Matthew Shepard Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2009, which expanded existing federal hate-crime laws to include actions motivated by gender, sexual orientation, or disability. 

The new policy under the tribe law means offenders will face a fine of $1K and addition of jail time to any penalties.

In a statement to SDPB, Marlow Medicine Crow Jr, who is part of the Crow Creek Law and Order Committee, said this amendment to the law is the “first of it’s kind” and also added “It was a long time coming.

There’s a lot of things that go on that would necessitate that law and maybe help give more protections to them – the people that are being discriminated against.” The amendment, which passed unanimously, will likely take effect in December 2019.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe, which is also in South Dakota, was the first tribe to pass a hate crimes law that included protections for LGBTQ citizens back in September of 2019.

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Health And Human Services Plans To Revoke LGBTQ Adoption Rules


POLITICS

Health And Human Services Plans To Revoke LGBTQ Adoption Rules

The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a rule that would let faith-based adoption groups exclude LGBTQ parents who want to adopt. This change would also mean that religious-affiliated organizations could continue to receive federal money even if the organizations refuse to work with LGBTQ families.

Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said in a statement, “I know a little bit about marriage and it’s supposed to be between a man and a woman, … All these things are going on, I know the far left is trying to change the world.” Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon argued, “Our tax dollars shouldn’t be used to support discrimination.”

According to WGNO, there aren’t any federal laws that prevent discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community, and the proposed rule change would have the biggest impact on the child welfare and adoption system but would also apply to faith-based pre-schools and public health organizations that provide the community with STD testings.

An Obama administration rule withheld federal grants from adoption agencies who refused to place children with LGBTQ families; religious organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom said the rule violates the religious freedom of faith-based providers.

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Hong Kong Court Rules NO On Same-Sex Marriage, Major Set Back On Marriage Equality


POLITICS

Hong Kong Court Rules NO on Same-Sex Marriage

A court in Hong Kong delivered a major setback to marriage equality on Friday by upholding the city’s denial of relationship recognition to LGBTQ couples.

Judge Anderson Chow of the Court of First Instance ruled on Friday that extending marriage rights to LGBTQ+ couples would lead to “far-reaching consequences” and that it was “beyond the proper scope of the functions or powers of the court, in the name of interpretation, to seek to effect a change of social policy on such a fundamental issue.”

Hong Kong’s ruling is a stark contrast to Taiwan’s 2017 ruling, which made Taiwan the first country to allow same-sex marriage in Asia.Its constitutional court ruled that refusing to recognize LGBTQ+ couples is “unconstitutional” and gave lawmakers two years to pass a marriage equality bill or the freedom to marry would automatically become law.

At the time conservatives in Taiwan pushed a national referendum, but the result was non-binding. The parliament passed a bill in May, which was signed into law by President Tsai Ing-wen.

Although this is a major blow to members of the LGBTQ community in Hong Kong, there have been positive developments, such as a ruling in 2013 determined a transgender woman had the right to marry her boyfriend, the High Court directed the legislature to draft a bill recognizing their union, and the law was enacted in 2014. 

Last year the Court of Final Appeal granted spousal visa rights to same-sex couples and extended partner benefits to a gay couple earlier this year.

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Comcast’s LGBTQ Liaison Files Discrimination Lawsuit


POLITICS

Comcast’s LGBTQ Liaison Files Discrimination Lawsuit

Klayton Fennell, a gay Comcast executive who serves as the cable’s liaison with LGBTQ groups, filed a federal lawsuit on October 23, 2019 alleging the company discriminated against him because of his sexual orientation.

The 45-page court filing filed in October alleges how Fennell was passed over for promotions, called derogatory names, and denied equal pay because “he is routinely perceived as not conforming to traditional sex and/or gender-based stereotypes.” It also adds that he is paid “substantially less” than his heterosexual male counterparts.

In the lawsuit, Fennell also alleges that Comcast failed to conduct an investigation into his claims and allowed the hostility to persist. Fennell remains employed as a Senior Vice President, and his attorney Katherine Oeltjen didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2015, The Philadelphia Business Journal recognized Fennell as a “Top LGBT Leader in Business,” and earlier this year Fennell represented Comcast at an event in Nashville where Mayor David Briley signed an executive order recognizing LGBTQ businesses as a separate category in awarding government contracts.

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