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Taiwan Makes History as First Asian Nation to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

German Lawmakers Vote to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

LGBTQ Equality March on Washington DC
Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC Sings to Drown Out Protesters at Knoxville Pride

Why Pride: Explanation for Straight People
Changing: Trans Teen Music Video


Sesame Street Expresses Pride

 

“Sesame Street” sent a heartfelt message to LGBTQ people as cities across the US celebrated National LGBTQ Pride Month. On June 23, 2017, the classic children’s TV series tweeted a photograph that featured seven of its beloved characters, including Elmo, posed to form a rainbow.  the accompanying message read, "Sesame Street is proud to support families of all shapes, sizes, and colors."

 


 

LGBTQ News Reports

 

Human Rights Watch: LGBTQ Students in US Face Discrimination and Hostile Environment
Boy George Covers YMCA

TED Talk: This is What LGBTQ Life is Like Around the World

CNN: What a Trump Presidency Means for LGBTQ Americans

People Guess the Sexual Orientation of Strangers

 

Marriage Equality in Germany

 

On June 30, 2017, Germany’s parliament passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage - a sudden landmark shift for LGBTQ rights in Europe’s most populous country.

 

The vote came days after Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled that she was open to changing Germany’s marriage laws to include same-sex couples, prompting a hurried push from opposition lawmakers to pass the so-called marriage-for-all legislation.

 

 

Merkel’s ruling coalition had long opposed a vote on same-sex marriage, an issue that is divisive among her conservative bloc. But during an interview on Monday with German women’s magazine Brigitte, Merkel said she was open to members of her coalition voting their conscience, rather than holding the party line.

 

Merkel’s shift came after she visited a lesbian couple raising eight foster children. She called her dinner with the family “a life-changing experience” and said she realized her party’s arguments against same-sex marriage were no longer valid.

 

Polls show that a strong majority of German voters favor same-sex marriage. A Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency survey earlier this year showed 83 percent of Germans support it.

 

Germany has allowed civil partnerships since 2001. But unlike many neighboring countries, it has lacked full same-sex marriage equality. A growing number of countries in Europe have legalized same-sex marriage, including Finland and Slovenia this year. Italy remains among European states that permit only civil unions and do not grant full rights afforded to married couples.

 

Taiwan Makes History as First Asian Nation to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

German Lawmakers Vote to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

 

Chechen President’s Comments on Gay People

 

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov gave a chilling interview, in July 2017, where he said gay people do not exist in Chechnya and if they do, they should flee to Canada.

 

Kadyrov (an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin) was confronted in an interview about his nation's imprisonment, torture, and killing of gay and bisexual men; an unknown number have been murdered.

 

 

Kadyrov answered, "We don't have those kinds of people here... If they are here, take them to Canada... Take them far from us so we don't have them in our home... To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them. They are devils. They are for sale. They are not people."

 

Advocate Mag: Chechen Prez Says Gays Are Devils Not People

Huff Post: Chechen Prez Says We Don’t Have Any Gays

LGBTQ Nation: Chechen Prez Laughs About Anti-Gay Violence

 

Marriage Equality in Taiwan

 

On May 24, 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court declared that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry, the first such ruling in Asia, sparking celebration by activists who have been campaigning for the right for years.

 



The court, known as the Judicial Yuan, said current marriage laws were “in violation of both the people’s freedom of marriage and the people’s right to equality”, and it gave two years for legal amendments to allow same-sex marriage.  “If relevant laws are not amended or enacted within the said two years, two persons of the same sex who intend to create the said permanent union shall be allowed to have their marriage registration effectuated,” the court said.

Hundreds of supporters of same-sex marriage gathered in the street next to the island’s parliament to celebrate the decision, holding colorful umbrellas to ward off a drizzle. “This ruling has made me very happy,” said Chi Chia-wei, a veteran gay rights activist who had petitioned the court to take up the issue.  The ruling clearing the way for same-sex marriage is the first in Asia, where socially conservative attitudes largely hold sway.

 

Taiwan Makes History as First Asian Nation to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

German Lawmakers Vote to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

 

Increased Calls to Trevor Project Suicide Hotline

 

The LGBTQ community was enjoying a growing wave of support, although admittedly it had a long way still to go. Marriage equality had been won, nondiscrimination ordinances were becoming more common, and it appeared as if the momentum was on our side.

 

Then America elected Donald Trump to become our 45th president. Since then, that progress has looked more in danger than it has in years. For younger people, the turn can be particularly upsetting.

 

 

“After the election it became clear to me that young people needed our help more than ever,” reports Amit Paley, the new CEO of The Trevor Project, whose suicide prevention hotline has seen a noted increase in call volume. LGBTQ youth attempt and commit suicide at a higher percentage than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. “The day after the presidential election the Trevor Project’s call volume doubled, and there has been an increase in calls since then,” he said.

 

In May, Paley reported, The Trevor Project’s Lifeline received more calls than in its entire 19-year history. “The policies of this administration, no doubt about it, are directly harming young LGBTQ people,” Paley told The Daily Beast. “What’s so upsetting and shocking for them is that up until this point they had been growing up in a time of increasing acceptance and tolerance. Our mission is to end suicide among LGBTQ young people, and we are concerned by any activities that might reverse the progress we have made.”

 

“There are more people feeling in crisis and more people reaching out for help,” said Paley. “When the president of the United States and politicians in positions of power stand up and make LGBTQ people feel less-than, or make them feel their rights are being taken away from them, that has a significant impact on their self-worth. That’s our reason to be here: to say that no matter what anyone in Washington says, you are worthy, you are loved, you have dignity, and you are who you are and who you love does not lessen you as a person.”

 

LGBTQ News Reports

 

Human Rights Watch: LGBTQ Students in US Face Discrimination and Hostile Environment
Boy George Covers YMCA

TED Talk: This is What LGBTQ Life is Like Around the World

CNN: What a Trump Presidency Means for LGBTQ Americans

Why Pride: Explanation for Straight People
Changing: Trans Teen Music Video

 

Chick-Fil-A Still Supporting Anti-LGBTQ Causes

 

Chick-Fil-A’s  tax-exempt foundation continues to bankroll anti-LGBTQ organizations with more than $1.4 million in donations.

 

It has been nearly five years since Chick-fil-A chairman and CEO Dan Cathy’s comment that the company was “guilty as charged” of opposing same-sex marriage brought the company’s long history of anti-LGBTQ activism to the nation’s attention.

 

Recall that Dan Cathy said the passage of marriage equality laws signaled a “sad day for our nation.”

 

Cathy, facing national backlash, vowed to stay out of the debate and focus on chicken. At that time, the company launched a very small charm offensive, issuing a statement that the company will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender.” Chick-fil-A did not back this up with any LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination policy.

 

 

But has anything changed? It sure doesn’t look that way. While the company’s non-profit arms scaled back support for some of the groups that actively push an anti-gay agenda, the Chick-fil-A Foundation’s most recent IRS filings show it gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-LGBTQ organizations in 2015.

 

For example, the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave more than $1 million in 2015 (nearly one-sixth of its total grants) to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The religious organization, which seeks to utilize athletes and coaches to spread Christian teachings, imparts a strongly anti-LGBTQ message. Staff and volunteers with the organization have been required to adhere to a strict “sexual purity” policy, prohibiting any “homosexual acts,” even for married couples. The group takes the view that, “The Bible is clear in teaching on sexual sin including sex outside of marriage and homosexual acts. Neither heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act constitute an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God.”

 

The foundation also gave more than $200,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Georgia-based “transformative organization” that operates a “Christian residential home for troubled youth.” Focusing on boys, their teachings include the idea that the “sexual, physical, and mental abuse of children, mostly in the alleged ‘safety’ of their own homes has produced all kinds of evil throughout the culture to include the explosion of homosexuality in the last century.” The myth that people are LGBTQ due to abuse is a claim frequently made by anti-LGBTQ organizations to promote harmful “ex-gay” therapy.

 

Additionally, the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave at least $130,000 to the Salvation Army. The religious organization has a long history of anti-LGBTQ housing discrimination, opposition to same-sex marriage equality, and supporting exemptions from non-discrimination ordinances. One page on its website, entitled “The Salvation Army and the LGBTQ Community,” boasts that the group adheres “to all relevant employment laws, providing domestic partner benefits accordingly.’ Given that only a minority of states explicitly bar anti-LGBTQ discrimination, that’s a low bar.

 

The Human Rights Campaign’s most recent scorecard rates Chick-fil-A a “0” on LGBTQ-inclusive policies (or lack thereof). With its continued foundation giving to those who preach anti-LGBTQ values (at least $1.4 million in 2015 alone) it does not appear that the group has yet lived up to its promise to focus on poultry.

 

Think Progress: Chick-Fil-A Still Funding Anti-Gay Causes

LGBTQ Nation: Chick-Fil-A Still Supporting Anti-LGBTQ Organizations

 

LGBTQ News Reports

 

The Year to Be Queer

Why I Am Coming Out Now

Why We Won't Go Back

Why I Must Come Out

What Could a Gay Utopia Teach Urban America?

What Has and Has Not Changed

 

Religious Based Discrimination

 

Most Americans don’t think religious-based discrimination should be lawful. The tide is turning in support of more open policies toward the LBGTQ community.

In June 2017, the governor of Texas signed into law a bill that allows faith-based adoption groups to deny services “under circumstances that conflict with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs.” Critics, including the ACLU of Texas, say the new law could likely be used to discriminate against LGBTQ families in adoptions.

 

This law is similar to those passed in Mississippi and Tennessee which also legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people based on religious convictions.

 

 

In March 2016, the Tennessee legislature introduced a bill allowing counselors to refuse to provide mental health care services to anyone who violates their “sincerely held religious beliefs,” including beliefs about LGBTQ people.  That bill did pass and was signed into law.

A number of Christian groups and outlets applauded the bills passed in Texas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. But according to a new report by the Public Religion Research Institute, support for religiously based service refusals is quickly declining. PRRI’s report, based on a survey of roughly 40,000 interviews, found that more than six in ten Americans oppose allowing small business owners in their state to refuse to provide goods and services to gay or lesbian people on religious grounds.

White evangelical Protestants continue to be the faith group most in favor of religiously motivated discrimination, though even among that group support has dropped. In 2015, 56 percent of white evangelicals were in favor of allowing business owners to deny services to gay and lesbian people. In 2016, the number had dropped to 50 percent.

 

Legalizing Religious Based Discrimination

Federal Court Rules Mississippi Businesses Can Discriminate Against LGBTQ People

LGBTQ Discrimination in Tennessee

Map of State Religious Exemptions Laws

Handy Guide to Understanding Religious Exemption Laws

 

Adding the Q to the LGBT Acronym


I am proud to announce that Equality Federation’s staff and board, several of whom identify as queer, have decided to add the letter Q to our mission and begin using the full acronym LGBTQ. To some this decision may seem like we are late to the party and to others it may be a challenge. I remember when the word queer was near ubiquitously used as an anti-gay epithet outside of “queer theory” courses in liberal arts schools. Through a process of reclaiming, the word queer, like many other words, has evolved to represent something more meaningful.

For Equality Federation, adding the Q is about more than a letter. It’s about our values. We recognize that a growing number of people in our community identify as queer to best reflect their gender, sexuality, and/or politics. At this turning point, when we are examining and improving upon our commitments to racial, economic, and social justice, we are also doubling down on our commitment to people who identify as queer so that they will be fully embraced and empowered in our organization. Adding the Q goes hand-in-hand with our deeper understanding of intersectionality.

 



At least eleven of our state-based partners have already added the Q, including Equality New Mexico and Equality Alabama. This is the right decision at the right time.

Not long ago the primary definition of the word queer was “deviant from the norm.” Sadly, discrimination is still the norm in America. LGBTQ people are not fully protected from discrimination by statewide laws in 31 states. In 2015, we understand there is no such thing as a “normal” person: we are all unique and we should all be celebrated. Our society’s rigid gender rules create a dangerous situation for people who do not conform, many of whom identify as genderqueer.

 

Why Pride: Explanation for Straight People
Changing: Trans Teen Music Video

People Guess the Sexual Orientation of Strangers
Boy George Covers YMCA

TED Talk: This is What LGBTQ Life is Like Around the World


According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey gender nonconforming/genderqueer people face shockingly high rates of violence and discrimination. This is especially concerning for our youth. Those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported high rates of harassment (78 percent), physical assault (35 percent) and sexual violence (12%). We know that for youth of color, anti-LGBTQ discrimination is often compounded with institutional racism. This propels school pushout and the school-to-prison pipeline. Equality Federation recently released a report with GSA Network and Advancement Project encouraging LGBTQ organizations to collaborate to address this crisis.

 



While discrimination and violence against transgender and gender nonconforming people is alarmingly high, hope looms on the horizon. In the coming months, Equality Federation will be lifting up the Q in LGBTQ in our words, our work, and our annual planning. We encourage individuals and organizations alike to help us create the most inclusive movement possible.

 

[Source: Rebecca Isaacs / Equality Federation]
 

 

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