Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Policy Matters 3/28/2012

Front Page Headlines  

U.N. Secretary General says: "The time has come…": It's not every day that a major world figure speaks out forcefully in defense of equality. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton first spoke out in 2011 and earlier this month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon followed suit when he made an incredibly powerful speech at the U.N. in Geneva. [All Out]

Anti-gay Marriage Group Calls for Starbucks Boycott: On Wednesday, a national group opposed to marriage equality called for a boycott of Starbucks in response to the company's public support of the newly passed marriage equality law in Washington State. [Seattle Times]

Ban Lifted, R.O.T.C. to Return to Harvard’s Campus: Since Congress lifted the military ban, known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, in late 2010, a number of universities have moved to welcome R.O.T.C. back. Last year, Harvard, Columbia and Yale signed agreements to allow the Navy to have an R.O.T.C. office on their campuses. [New York Times]

In D.C., Worries Over Anti-LGBT Crimes Prompt 700 to Join Silent Walk: A silent march through Columbia Heights was designed to send a strong message to attackers that their community would no longer tolerate hate. Walkers started where a man was shot Sunday morning after getting into a shoving match with a stranger spewing homophobic slurs, then toward Georgia Avenue, where attacks by two groups of men shattered the jaw of an LGBT individual. A third attack, reported that same night, involved a transgendered woman who was beaten unconscious. Arrests have not been made in any case. [Washington Post]

'Family life' Curriculum Could Replace 'Don't Say Gay' Bill in Tennessee: A proposal that would require abstinence-centered “family life education” curricula to be taught in Tennessee public schools is advancing in the House. The measure, sponsored by Republican Rep. Jim Gotto of Hermitage, passed the House Education Subcommittee on a voice vote today. The legislation could replace a proposal that seeks to ban the teaching of LGBT issues to elementary and middle school students. [DJN]

Ruling is Victory for Transgender New Yorkers who Seek to Change Gender on Birth Certificates: At nearly 70 years old, Louis Birney, a transgender man, had completed his transition and wanted his birth certificate to reflect that change. The ruling in Birney’s case, made public last week, orders the New York City Health Department to re-evaluate his request and questions the agency’s understanding of “the lives and experience of transgender people.” [NY Daily News]

White House: Same-Sex Spouse May Get Health-Care Coverage: The Obama administration has directed a health insurance company to provide coverage to the spouse of a gay federal employee. LGBT rights advocates say this is the first time such coverage has been allowed. [Washington Post]

Policy Watch

Chile: Landmark Gay Rights Ruling: The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that Chile must pay damages to a judge who was denied custody of her three daughters by that country’s Supreme Court in 2004 because of her sexual orientation. The lawyer called the decision “historic” for Chile’s legal system. [New York Times]
Challenge to Marriage Equality Fails in New Hampshire: An attempt to repeal New Hampshire’s marriage equality law failed on Wednesday in the House of Representatives, with a bipartisan majority of the Republican-dominated chamber voting 211-116 to kill the bill. [New York Times]

Question from the Field
Dear Policy Matters,
Here in Anchorage, Alaska we have made several attempts over the years to add anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people to the city’s existing human rights law. The ballot measure, Prop 5, has been very controversial and I am nervous that, like previous measures, it will not pass. What can I do to help ensure that LGBT people will receive equal protection against discrimination?

Thank you,

Dear Richard,

Thanks for the question! As you know, Anchorage is a diverse, open and inclusive city. Unfortunately, anti-LGBT equality organizations have worked over the past few years to stall the legislative process to include specific human rights protections for LGBT individuals. The bad news: due to these efforts, it appears unclear whether the proposition will pass or not. The good news: there things you can do to help ensure the safety, security, and happiness of our LGBT loved ones.

Educate your neighbors, friends, and colleagues about the discrimination that LGBT people often face when looking for housing, seeking employment, attending school and more, and other areas of society, as well as teaching them about what it is that Prop 5 will do. Many opponents to equality believe these life-saving protections aren’t necessary and that this measure will “ultimately usher in a new era of intolerance”. Clearly this line of thinking is misguided an no one understands this or is in a better position to educate people, better than a PFLAG member!

Tell the citizens of Anchorage to vote yes on Prop 5 on Tuesday, April 3rd. This measure, co-sponsored by former Governor Tony Knowles (D) and former Republican Senator Arliss Sturgulewski, has received support from many past mayors and other elected officials including Alaska Junior Senator Mark Begich (D). Passing this initiative would expand protections already in place for other groups to make them LGBT inclusive.

Visit the One Anchorage Campaign website to learn more about the proposition and how you can educate your communities about this life-saving legislation.  

Thanks for the great question!  

Policy Matters
P.S. Have you signed up to participate in action alerts yet? Register to be on our PFLAG action e-list and receive a message when your involvement can make a crucial difference!

If you would like to have a policy-related question featured in our next edition, please e-mail with your question no later than Friday, April 6, 2012.

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