Monday, July 31, 2017

Diana Ross Rocks Foxwoods

The legendary Diana Ross brought her ”In the Name of Love Tour” to Foxwoods Grand Theater on Sunday July 30th to a thrilled sold-out audience. Her band took the stage for several minutes before the iconic diva Diana entered the stage with her 80s hit "I'm Coming Out." The 4000+ capacity crowd rose to their feet in pure pleasure as Ross went into a medley of her Supremes faves. From there she covered six decades of chart busting hits including “Touch Me in the Morning,” “Endless Love” among many others. Over the course of her career Ross has received numerous awards. Ms. Ross is a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee & a recipient of the Grammy Awards’ highest honor the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016 she accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. However Diana has always said that her five children are her greatest legacy including her eldest daughter Rhonda Ross Kendrick who opened for her mother’s show. Rhonda’s 12 year-old son was also featured during both his mother’s & grandmother’s performance with his Michael Jackson-esque dance moves. This was last stop for her ”In the Name of Love Tour” but if you missed it you can still catch her when she performs at Tanglewood in Lenox Massachusetts on Wednesday August 30th. In the fall the fierce LGBTQ ally Ms. Ross will be performing At Wynn’s Encore Theatre in Las Vegas from October 11th through October 28th.
 For More Info…
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Sunday, July 30, 2017

LGBT 2017 Business Conference

The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce conference takes place August 1st through August 4th in Las Vegas, Nevada. There will be over 1,100 attendees for the largest LGBT Business Event on the Planet. Keynote speakers will include fashion icon & best-selling author Tim Gunn; entrepreneur & LGBT advocate Lisa Vanderpump; CEO & author of "Predictable Success" Les McKeown; investment experts Heidi Lehmann & David Beatty; & out CEO & philanthropist Mitchell Gold. Also attending will be global LGBT leaders, including India's Crown Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, fighting to make our world more inclusive for our communities. There will also be the opportunity to change the destiny of one of NGLCC LGBT BIZ PITCH finalists as they compete for $50,000 in cash & prizes in their largest & most exciting competition to date, all while celebrating 15 years of NGLCC. The conference is a great place to meet other certified business owners, chamber leaders, corporate partners & connect through a number of strategically crafted networking, social events & learn how to maximize your LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) certification. NGLCC is a U.S. not-for-profit advocacy group that aims to expand the economic opportunities & advancement of the LGBT business community. The Washington, D.C. based group acts both as a national certification body for LGBT-owned businesses and as advocates for LGBT supplier diversity.
For More Info: nglcc.org
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Friday, July 28, 2017

Trump Targets LGBT Americans

Since Trump became president his administration has targeted the elimination of our LGBT community in America. Since January all LGBT content was deleted from the official whitehouse.gov website, then he rescinded protections for our transgender students on their use of restrooms in public schools, revoked protections for federal LGBT workers against discrimination in hiring & employment, the DOJ dropped the federal lawsuit over North Carolina’s statewide prohibition on LGBT equality, there was an attempt to erase LGBT seniors from federal surveys & of course Trump refused to acknowledge LGBT Pride Month in June. Then this week 45 attempted to have the US military ban transgender people from serving, his AG Jeff Sessions files a brief arguing the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect our LGBT workers & he nominates a vicious anti-LGBTQ politician Governor Samuel Dale Brownback of Kansas to be Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom within the State Department. Make no mistake. The homophobic events of this week & many that have preceded it turn up the heat of the culture wars which had subsided under the Obama Administration. 45's alignment with anti-LGBTQ right wing religious formations will continue to guide this administration's decisions whether issued by Tweet or legal articulations or support for international LGBTQ harming laws & policies. The anti-LGBTQ culture wars are just one aspect of the multi-front war on many other communities including immigrants, Muslims, poor people, black people & women. America has morphed into a tyrannical nightmare that we must defeat & take back the country we love.
OutServe-SLDN Talks Transgender Military Ban

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

UK Gay Activists Speaks OUT

In the UK on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which is this Thursday July 27th UK Prime Minister Theresa May is being urged to apologize & compensate men convicted under discriminatory anti-gay laws both before & after the partial decriminalization of male homosexuality 50 years ago. Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation stated, “Around 100,000 men were convicted of consenting homosexual behavior following the outlawing in 1885 of all sexual acts between men; with 15,000 of these men being convicted after the Sexual Offences Act was legislated in 1967. The criminalization of homosexuality did not end across the whole of the UK until 2013. These men deserve an apology & compensation for the terrible persecution they suffered. Many were jailed & nearly all endured devastating knock-on consequences. They often lost their jobs & became near unemployable & semi-destitute because of the stigma associated with having a conviction for a homosexual offence. Some experienced the break-up of their marriages & lost custody and access to their children. Families & friends disowned them & they were abused & sometimes assaulted in the street. Many descended into a downward spiral of depression, alcoholism, mental illness & suicide or attempted suicide. The psychological & emotional scars were devastating & long lasting. That’s why they need & deserve a Prime Ministerial apology & state compensation.”
For More Info: petertatchellfoundation.org
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Monday, July 24, 2017

New Trans Mental Health Study

The National LGBTQ Task Force & Trans Lifeline have launched the nation’s first transgender mental health survey. The research is intended to provide a deep insight into the mental healthcare experiences of transgender people in order to improve advocacy efforts. All people over the age of 18 living in the United States that identify as transgender are encouraged to take the survey. Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan, Trans/Gender Nonconforming & Disability Justice Projects Director, National LGBTQ Task Force stated, “Forty-one percent of transgender people have attempted suicide, yet not enough is known about the experiences of transgender people when seeking or receiving mental health care. Thanks to other studies, we have a glimpse into the medical discrimination faced by the transgender community. We wish to expand upon that glimpse. This survey is truly cutting edge as it asks respondents questions that were still a big taboo not too long ago.” According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 33% of transgender people report negative experiences with health providers, but it is known how this data correlates to mental health care providers. The U.S. Trans Survey was a follow up to the seminal 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), published by the National LGBTQ Task Force & the National Center for Transgender Equality, which provided insight into lives of transgender people living in the U.S. The transgender mental health survey builds on the work of NTDS by pursuing the subjects that were neglected back then. The data collected will help further advance the Task Force’s lobbying around mental health & disability policy.
For Info & Survey… 
OutServe-SLDN Talks Transgender Military Ban

Friday, July 21, 2017

Gays Against Guns NYC Event

Dewey Moss's fabulous Off-Broadway play The Crusade of Connor Stephens is partnering with Gays Against Guns NY & Moms Demand Action for an illuminating night of theater & conversation. On Sunday July 23rd directly following the 7:30P performance the audience is invited to stay for a talkback with the cast & creatives along with Kevin Gotkin from Gays Against Guns NY & Bryan D. Keane from Moms Demand Action. Discussion topics will include the importance of theater reflecting current headlines, the work that Gays Against Guns NY & Moms Demand Action are currently doing & why The Crusade of Connor Stephens has relevance in today's society. They will address how families with differing viewpoints can survive in Trump’s America. In The Crusade of Connor Stephens extreme loss shakes a Texas family following a tragic school shooting. In the midst of widespread media attention, their story becomes an allegory for the national debate over religion, tolerance, LGBTQ issues & the seedlings of hate. Dewey Moss's The Crusade of Connor Stephens is a play that comes roaring out the gate like a bull let loose from its corral, tearing up the stage at the Jerry Orbach Theater for two fiery hours before sending us off to think a lot about what we have borne witness to. It’s a “message for our times in the current climate of gun violence, anti LGBTQ platforms & a rising incidence of hate crimes in the USA. For More Info & Tix: crusade2017.com 
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

LGBTQ React To Health Bill Fail

Temporary relief came this summer after U.S. Senators Moran & Lee refused to vote on the so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) erasing the Republican party’s hope of gaining 50 votes in favor & effectively ending the third attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If passed the bill would have destabilized the insurance market, gutted Medicaid spending, defunded Planned Parenthood, stripped essential health benefits & undermined care for people with pre-existing conditions, and overall increased the cost of insurance. Rea Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund Executive Director stated, "The Republican-led Congress has presented failed proposal after failed proposal to repeal the ACA & each one would have undermined the dignity & wellbeing of the most marginalized people in this country. Iterations of the bill included cuts to care for the poorest among us, while delivering massive tax cuts to the wealthy. This victory is a reminder to those who hold institutional power in this country that we, the people, will not be silenced. They may have Congress & the White House—but together, we are stronger." The ACA has helped 20 million people gain access to healthcare. It has significantly improved the health & wellbeing of LGBTQ people, who are more likely to be uninsured than non-LGBTQ people. Under the Affordable Care Act, the country witnessed a 35% reduction in the uninsured rate for low & middle income LGBTQ people between 2013 & 2017. More LGBTQ people have healthcare coverage now than ever before.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Singapore Voids Trans Marriage

In Singapore the Registry of Marriages has voided the marriage of a transgender woman & her partner who were married as heterosexuals in October 2015 in an unprecedented case because of the country’s criminalization of homosexuality & failure to recognize same gender couples. When the couple applied for subsidized housing available only to married couples, Singapore’s Housing & Development Board (HDB) questioned the couple’s marriage because by then they were each legally registered as female. The marriage was then voided by the Registry & later the couple was denied marital housing. Grace Poore, OutRight Action International Regional Program Coordinator for Asia & the Pacific Islands stated, “This is blatant discrimination by two government departments that are undermining the rights to family & housing eligible to heterosexual married couples. Furthermore, Singapore’s insistence that transgender people must remain in heterosexual relationships denies transgender people the right to be gay or lesbian, which is completely unacceptable. On numerous occasions at national & international arenas, the Singapore government has stated that there is no discrimination against LGBT people in Singapore. This proves what we’ve always known: this is a lie. The state can do right by reinstating their marriage & providing them with the housing to which they are entitled.” While transgender people are entitled to legal gender recognition in Singapore, the Registry used the country’s criminalization of homosexuality & failure to recognize same gender couples as the basis for annulling their marriage.
For More Info: outrightinternational.org
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

LGBT & LGBTQ Terminology

In the past few years there are so many trends about how our LGBTQ or LGBT community is classified. Based on data by Community Marketing & Insights, both can now be used. The advantages of “LGBT” are that the term is more favored across the diversity of our community, has higher favorable rates among baby boomers, & the term is often perceived as being “safer” by corporations. However “LGBTQ” has made making significant gains in the past few years especially among millennials & now has minimal negatives across any demographic group. The big shift from last year is that for the first time, LGBTQ now has an over 50% approval rating among baby boomers. Then it appears that millennials seem to prefer the term “Queer” while baby boomers shudder at the term remembering it as a homophobic slur. Also the term “LGBT-friendly” is far more popular than the historical term of “gay-friendly” which can now be seen as exclusionary of the L, B & T. Importantly the term “gay-friendly” now has a negative rating among millennials, who prefer “LGBT-friendly.” CMI advises corporation to use care in the use of terminology, which means avoiding terms such as, “gay-friendly,” or “gay neighborhoods,” & instead using “LGBT-friendly” & “LGBT neighborhoods.” Then to make thing even more complicated the report found that there’s the new shift among millennials in relationships. Lately many LGBTQ community members in a relationship do not consider themselves as male or female. The report for the first time attempted to recognize & quantify relationships for gender expansive identities.
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Monday, July 17, 2017

Marriage Equality Update (AUDIO)

Marriages for gay & lesbian couples is beginning to slow down. However since June 26th 2015 when the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that state-level bans on gay & lesbian marriages are unconstitutional over 200,000 same gender marriages have taken place. Though marriage equality is now the law of the land there are still a few hold out states with seven counties in Alabama & one in Texas that refuse to issue marriage licenses. The good news is we are entering a more stable era for gay & lesbian wedding as our LGBTQ community is beginning to mirror the general population. One issue that we still must address is the term same-sex marriage that was a created by Karl Rove & unfortunately our LGBTQ community adopted that effectively raises a red flag for the religious right by using the word “sex” which probably delayed marriage equality from becoming the law of the land for at least 5 years. Never use this term. I cringe when I hear mainstream media uses this term because all you can hear is the redundancy of the word sex. I mean really, have you ever heard anyone from our LGBTQ community when talking within the community say “I’m in a same-sex marriage”, probably not. Use the terms, marriage equality, gay & lesbian marriage or just marriage. I talked about this issue with marriage icon Edie Windsor in this exclusive audio byte: LISTEN:
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Saturday, July 15, 2017

New LGBT Community Survey

Community Marketing & Insights recently revealed their 2017 annual LGBT community survey results from 17,300 LGBTs living in the United States with an interesting spin on LGBT rights, safety & equality with the changing political environment in this country. The survey showed that our LGBT community feels less secure than it did in the recent past with 82% indicating that they fear the loss of LGBT civil rights recently gained. Also overall our LGBT community members are feeling negative about the political & social direction of the country across every indicator tested with 85% indicating that the country is heading in the wrong direction & 85% reporting increased fear of hate crime violence. Another interesting part of the survey is LGBT friendly perceptions of country, state & community with 56% of LGBT community members living the United States consider the United States to be LGBT friendly compared to 98% of Canadians who consider Canada to be LGBT friendly. However most LGBT participants in the United States considered their local community to be LGBT friendly (82%), which may be an indication that we move to places where we feel more welcomed. The state-by-state analysis is interesting as people living in “blue” states had high praise for their state & local community & those living in deep “red” states had negative perceptions of their state but more positive perceptions of their local community. Community Marketing & Insights has provided LGBT research, market insights, strategies & training to corporate leaders, non-profits, universities & government institutions around the world since 1992.
For More Info: communitymarketinginc.com
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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Artem Kolesov Benefit Concert

There will be a benefit concert “From Russia with Love” in Chicago to help Russian born LGBTQ Violinist Artem Kolesov flee persecution from Russia on Saturday August 26th at the Hoover-Artem Theatre at 7P. Artem Kolesov is the 23-year old gay man who caught the world’s attention when he came out earlier this year on YouTube as part of a Russian "Children-404" project that invites teenagers to share their stories & discuss LGBT issues in Russia. In most of their photos & videos, participants shield their identities by holding up a sign in front of their faces but Kolesov did not. While his courageous move caught international attention it also means that he can never return home. His dream is to insure his safety by obtaining U.S. citizenship. Kolesov now lives in Chicago where he is first violinist in the Yas Quartet, which is in residence at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts. Earlier this summer Kolesov was honored at the Logo TV Trailblazers Awards. Last year his ensemble took third prize in the Chamber Division at the Schoenfeld International String Competition held in Harbin, China. The concert entitled “From Russia with Love: A benefit concert for Artem Kolesov & other LGBTQ refugees fleeing persecution” will feature a performance by Kolesov & the YAS Quartet and others. Tickets start at $50 & all proceeds will benefit legal costs associated with Kolesov’s pursuit of U.S citizenship, American Friends of Rainbow Railroad & Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program (CLASP).
For Info & Tix…
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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The L Word To Return (AUDIO)

It appears that Showtime is currently developing another season of the fabulous hit lesbian drama The L Word. Co-creator Ilene Chaiken will be an executive producer as well as Jennifer Beals, Katherine Moenig & Leisha Hailey will executive-produce & appear on the series. Jennifer Beals stated, “When the election happened I remember I was in South Dakota watching the returns come in & I texted Ilene & I said, ‘We need to do something.” Ilene Chaiken stated, “Let’s get together & talk about it.” Jennifer Beals added, “So we were spitballing about what to do & I said our skill set is storytelling & I think we need to tell stories & certainly in an atmosphere of increasing hatred towards the LGBT community & frankly anyone who’s categorized as ‘other’ stories exploring the complexities of friendship & love are all that more crucial. Representation of everything. You can’t go backward. I would love to see the show continue to mine its original themes of friendship & love & community & additionally I’d like it to go a little further & challenge hetero-normalcy. I learned what activism is through The L Word & that was life-changing.” Other characters from the original series may also pop up & will be paired with a whole new cast of women. I hope iconic actor Pam Grier will return. I talked to Pam a few years ago about how appearing on The L Word changed her life in this exclusive audio byte. LISTEN: 
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Monday, July 10, 2017

Transgender Faith In England

It’s been reported that the General Synod of the Church of England has officially passed a motion welcoming & affirming transgender people to the church. A top bishop also declared that being LGBT is "not a sin." The motion stated, "That this Synod, recognizing the need for transgender people to be welcomed & affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person's gender transition." The official vote went overwhelmingly in favor of welcoming transgender people with 30 for the motion & two opposed in the House of Bishops; 127 who backed the motion & 28 against it in the House of Clergy; &127 for & 48 against in the House of Laity. Rev. Christopher Newlands of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod stated, "I hope that we can make a powerful statement to say that we believe that trans people are cherished & loved by God, who created them & is present through all the twists and turns of their lives." Also during the synod's weekend session the church body also backed a motion calling for a ban on "conversion therapy". One of the most senior officials Rev. John Sentamu, The Archbishop of York stated, "As the world listens to us, the world needs to hear us say that LGBT orientation & identity is not a crime." Let’s hope that here in America religious communities heed the advancements of the Church of England & stop the hate.
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Saturday, July 8, 2017

LGBT Civil Rights At Risk

Donald Trump has once again attacked our LGBTQ community by nominating Eric Dreiband the lawyer responsible for implementing North Carolina’s backward "bathroom bill" to serve as the Department of Justice's head of Civil Rights Enforcement. Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California stated, “Once again, a nomination by Donald Trump is sending a terrible signal to LGBTQ Americans in general & to transgender people in particular. North Carolina’s HB 2 is one of the most anti-LGBTQ pieces of state legislation in recent history & to pick Eric Dreiband one of its legal champions for this important position makes it clear that we cannot count on Trump to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans. As we opposed the nominations of others in the growing ranks of anti-LGBTQ members of the Trump Administration, we soundly oppose Dreiband’s nomination for a post vital to the civil rights of millions of vulnerable Americans. We urge every member of the U.S. Senate to firmly oppose his confirmation to ensure that the job of the assistant attorney general is executed as intended to protect the civil rights of the most vulnerable.” If confirmed this homophobic man would be responsible for overseeing the Justice Department's efforts on voting rights, employment, disability & immigration discrimination, police brutality & transgender issues, among other matters central to the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ Americans, women & disabled people, including those living with HIV & AIDS. Like other Trump nominations Dreiband has no working experience in most of these areas. (Graphic by Richard Emmanuel)
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Friday, July 7, 2017

Classic Whitney: Alive! In NYC

Kevin Smith Kirkwood who is currently appearing on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning musical "Kinky Boots" will bring “Classic Whitney: Alive!” back to Joe’s Pub at The Public in NYC on Monday July 31st at 9:30P. After playing to packed houses at The Cutting Room & Joe’s Pub Kirkwood will again channel the voice, look & spirit of the late legend Whitney Houston with new songs & new costumes. Once again Whitney will ascend from the choir of heaven & inhabits the body of Kirkwood to perform renditions of special live concert arrangements of hits from the diva’s incredible catalog. The show was hailed by critics as pitch perfect, thrilling & raves that Kirkwood’s good-natured performance delivered Whitney at her best. Backed by a full band & three back-up singers who also play guests including her mother Cissy Houston, brother Gary & Bobby Brown, Kirkwood serves Whitney realness with a script that is constructed from excerpts of her live concert banter & interviews, “Classic Whitney: Alive!” is the ultimate Whitney tribute from the ultimate Whitney fan. Kevin Smith Kirkwood made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award winning musical "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" & earned a 2005 New York Innovative Theater Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor for It’s "Karate, Kid!" Besides "Kinky Boots" Kirkwood currently stars as Roxy in the recently released feature horror film titled “Condemned”. (Photo by Preston Burford)
For Info & Tix: publictheater.org
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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Canada Pride Montréal 2017

There will be over 200 activities in celebration of sexual diversity & gender plurality this summer at Canada Pride Montréal 2017 that runs from August 10th to the 20th. Programming will feature 15 free blockbuster shows, daily DJ's, fabulous drag queens, exhibits, sports tournament & two conferences on LGBTQ rights. Éric Pineault, Montréal Pride President & founder stated, “The activities we offer are really diverse! The festival, cultural & community components all have something appealing to persons of sexual diversity & gender plurality, as well as to our allies.” Nelly Furtado will headline the festival presented by Sirius XM Canada with Gregory Charles & Marie-Mai, l’Acadie de demain, with Édith Butler & Radio Radio, Supernovas, with David Usher & Jonas, Drag Superstars with 12 contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Throughout the festival an art gallery will be set up in containers at the corner of Sainte-Catherine & Saint-Hubert Streets. It will feature the works of 10 artists including paintings, drawings, photography & high fashion creations. A presentation on 375 years of LGBTQ+ history & the evolution of the Pride Movement in Canada will be featured at Pride House in the heart of Parc des Faubourgs. Theatrical productions will also be presented & a two-day sports tournament has been added into the program featuring badminton, rugby, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball & water polo. Founded in 2007 Montréal Pride is dedicated to promoting LGBTQ rights & celebrates their cultural wealth & social advances.
For More Info: fiertemontrealpride.com
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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

LGBT Health & Well Being Report

The United Nations needs to address the health & well-being of our LGBTI people. A new report released by OutRight Action International & the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) just ahead of this year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development calls on countries to recognize & address the impact of stigma, discrimination, violence & criminalization has on the health of our LGBT community. While data regarding LGBTI health needs are inadequate & incomplete across the globe the data that is available demonstrate that the health of LGBTI people is consistently poorer than the general population. Dr. Felicity Daly OutRight Action International’s Global Research Coordinator stated, “LGBTI people are well-aware of the health disparities taking hold & stealing lives in their communities, but are being excluded from data collection efforts. As a result, LGBTI communities are rendered invisible & therefore unable to make a convincing case for health financing to address their needs.” Dr. George Ayala MSMGF Executive Director added, “Disproportionate rates of depression, anxiety, homelessness, problem substance use & suicide among LGBTI people can each be traced back to the stigma, discrimination & violence they face worldwide. Connection to community, safety & security offset the devastating effects of social exclusion.” The HLPF will take place at UN headquarters in New York from July 10th to 19th.
Read Full Report… 
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Monday, July 3, 2017

Independence Day & LGBT Equality

It’s interesting what legislation some American states squeeze in as we break for the 4th of July Holiday. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the Constitutional right to marriage equality established by Obergefell v. Hodges does not require states to include gay & lesbian couples in state employee spousal benefits. Equality Texas reported that during their 85th legislative session over two dozen bills targeting LGBTQ people were filed. Many of these bills targeted the most vulnerable & marginalized within our communities. Meanwhile in California at the same time new regulations went into effect to protect the rights of transgender people in the workplace. Selisse Berry, CEO & Founder of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates stated, “Marriage equality is about more than a ceremony & a marriage license—it’s about gay & lesbian marriages being treated with equal dignity & recognition under the law. The Texas ruling dishonors the work of those who’ve fought for decades for this victory & threatens the progress we’ve made. It’s not enough to simply be able to get married: LGBT people should have the same access to employee benefits, public accommodations & opportunities to build our families as anyone else. Instead of undermining the equality of LGBT people, Texas should look to the example of California, a state where just last week new regulations went into effect to ensure that transgender people are treated fairly at work. We all have a stake in LGBT equality: When LGBT people can live, love & work without fear of discrimination or violence, it strengthens all our communities.” I talked to Jim Obergefell in this audio byte about the marriage equality backlash & more. LISTEN:
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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Jim Obergefell Honored (AUDIO)

LGBTQ activist Jim Obergefell was awarded the National Education Association’s Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights for his marriage equality victory in the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges. This was the 50th anniversary of the NEA annual dinner event entitled “Living the Legacy: After 50 Years, Still We Rise.” Lily Eskelsen García NEA President stated, “Jim Obergefell embodies the spirit of Dr. Maya Angelou’s beloved poem ‘Still I Rise’. Through his deeds & actions, this human & civil rights hero is still rising & carrying the torch forward. Tonight, we renew our commitment to stand for racial & social justice & pledge to continue to shed a light on his work as he guides & inspires us all.” After Obergefell’s partner of 20 years died Obergefell fought & won marriage equality nationwide on June 26th 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor in Obergefell v. Hodges the case that secured the rights of gay & lesbian couples to legally marry nationally with the same rights & protections as heterosexual couples. Since his landmark decision Obergefell has written the novel Love Wins with Pulitzer Prize-winner Debbie Cenziper. It tells the story of Obergefell as well as the lawyers, judges & activists behind Obergefell v. Hodges. Obergefell is continuing his advocacy for our LGBTQ community on a national & international level most recently focusing on our transgender community. Last year I talked to Obergefell in this exclusive audio podcast on the red carpet at the GLAAD Media Awards about LGBTQ equality & more. LISTEN:
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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Transgender Military Policy Delay

The Department of Defense has announced that there will be a 6 month delay in the enactment of policies allowing qualified, transgender individuals to enter military service. Matt Thorn OutServe-SLDN Executive Director stated, "Under former Secretary Carter's guidance, the services were directed to develop policies which would allow transgender individuals to join the military, a privilege they are currently denied. Over the past several months, our team has worked closely with Pentagon officials & allied organizations to ensure necessary policy changes related to accessions were ready for a timely deployment by July 1st. We remain confident that the services are equipped to support this final piece of transgender military service & there should be no delay in its implementation…Transgender service members have been serving, openly & authentically, since October 2016 with no impact on readiness. It is time to full lift the ban on transgender service by implementing this final piece by implementing the accessions policy. This delay is a disservice to the transgender community & to our military as a whole...” READ FULL STATEMENT
More than 14,000 transgender individuals are currently serving in our armed services. Many of them are serving openly as a result of the retention policy as part of the lifting the ban on transgender service last year. Transgender individuals currently serving this Trump administration postponement has no impact on them. However it does affect the many transgender individuals that are standing by ready to report to duty.
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