US gay workers rights in court

Reuters reports that the US government will urge a U.S. appeals court in Manhattan to rule that federal law does not ban discrimination against gay employees.

The U.S. Department of Justice is supporting a New York skydiving company in a lawsuit brought by a former instructor who accused the company of firing him after he told a customer he was gay and she complained.

The case will require the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether discrimination against gay workers is a form of unlawful sex bias under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That law bans discrimination based on workers’ sex, race, religion and other traits.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-lgbt-court/u-s-appeals-court-to-consider-rights-of-gay-workers-idUSKCN1C10EW

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Goodbye Edie

The BBC reports that Edith “Edie” Windsor, whose same-sex marriage fight led to a landmark US ruling, has died aged 88. She leaves her wife Judith Kasen-Windsor.

Windsor’s Supreme Court case struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, granting same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time.
She sued the US government after being ordered to pay $363,053 in federal estate tax after her previous wife, Thea Spyer, died.

The couple had married in Canada in 2007.

Gay Activist sends condolences to family, friends and colleagues.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41248327

Wedding cakes – the new battleground

American gays are concerned at the direction their new President is taking on gay rights.

Bloomberg comments:

Early on, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people seemed to be exempted from Donald Trump’s most inflammatory rhetoric. He was the first Republican presidential nominee to mention LGBT people in his acceptance speech. After his election, he declared same-sex marriage “settled law.” Once in office, he left in place an executive order protecting the federal government’s LGBT employees from discrimination.

But any early optimism among gay-rights supporters has disintegrated in recent months. The Trump administration has rescinded policies that supported transgender students and soldiers and signaled its opposition to gay rights in a pair of federal cases.

Most recently, the U.S. Justice Department filed a brief in support of Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Colorado bakery that refused on religious grounds to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding. The bakery was sanctioned by the state, and the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case this fall. The Department of Justice supported the argument that cake decoration is artistic expression and therefore deserves special protection.

Expect a major battle.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-12/trump-adds-to-rollback-of-obama-legacy-with-anti-gay-measures

Mark Merlis

Your Activist is sad to report the death of gay writer Mark Merlis on August 15 at a hospital in Philadelphia. He was 67.

Mr Merlis died of pneumonia associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, said his husband, Robert Ashe.

Mr. Merlis worked as a health-care analysis for the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service and as an independent consultant. His first novel, “American Studies,” was published in 1994.

It remains an excellent book.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/mark-merlis-novelist-who-explored-gay-life-in-20th-century-america-dies-at-67/2017/08/23/d5bbac94-8762-11e7-a94f-3139abce39f5_story.html?utm_term=.eb4875e972f6

US Gays feel less safe since President Trump was elected

Nearly two-thirds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people say they feel less safe since President Donald Trump took office, according to Time.

34% said society would be “a lot” more accepting in the next 10 years, a drop from 54%.

37% said they have faced different treatment since President Trump took office.

Gay and Lesbian Americans say 12% of them voted for Trump, and 67% voted for Hillary Clinton. 7% identified as Republicans, 57% identified as Democrats and 35% as Independents.

http://time.com/4842910/donald-trump-lesbian-gay-bisexual-lgbt-poll-safe/

More US States ban “gay cures”

US state governments are outlawing gay cure conversion therapy. California became the first to do so in 2012. Eight other states have banned it in some form since. In 2017 alone, Nevada, New Mexico, and Connecticut signed their own bans into law. And two weeks ago a bill passed the Rhode Island Senate.

“We’ve gone from kind of a trickle to what seems to be more of a stream,” said Scott McCoy, senior policy counsel at the Southern Poverty Law Center. SPLC filed the suit against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, a conversion-therapy group. The case was the first consumer-fraud case heard against the use of conversion therapy in the U.S.

President Obama called for an end to “therapies” that aim to change sexual orientation or gender identity, but a bill introduced to ban conversion therapy at the federal level stalled in Congress last year.

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/07/states-outlawing-conversion-therapy/533121/

New York Court appoints openly gay judge for the first time

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Paul Feinman | New York Law Journal/Rick Kopstein | 17114

Mid-level appeals court judge Paul Feinman, an openly gay judge, has been appointed to New York’s state Court of Appeals. The state Senate unanimously confirmed him less than a week after Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated him for the post.

Feinman previously served in the Appellate Division in Manhattan and will fill the lone vacancy on the seven-member Court of Appeals.

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2017/06/21/new-yorks-top-court-gets-first-openly-gay-judge/103079984/

Flag’s additives antagonise

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Kelly A. Burkhardt/Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs | 17110

Last week, the city of Philadelphia revealed a revamped version of the gay pride flag. The revised flag has a black and brown stripe added on top of the traditional rainbow flag, meant to represent people of colour who are ”marginalized, ignored, and even intentionally excluded”.

But some members of the community think that the addition is unnecessary at best and divisive at worst. Charley Beal, a friend of the original flag’s designer Gilbert Baker, told NBC: “The stripes were not chosen for skin color — they were chosen to reflect the spectrum of color in nature.”

A spokesperson for Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs told NBC that the controversy is unfounded, and that the flag isn’t meant to replace the original, but to be “additive.”

Oh, additives. They cause so many problems.

http://nypost.com/2017/06/16/new-pride-flag-divides-phillys-gay-community/

Man challenged at Pulse, one year on

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Yesterday | Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP/Associated Press | 17106

An anti-gay protester was pushed to the ground by a police officer and handcuffed next door to the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando as hundreds of people gathered to remember the one-year mark of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The man was handcuffed as the crowd chanted “love conquers hate.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/the-latest-church-bells-mark-1-year-since-pulse-massacre/2017/06/12/85e88a98-4f72-11e7-b74e-0d2785d3083d_story.html?utm_term=.3d54158becb4

Remembering and marching for freedom and rights

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Associated Press | 17105

Hundreds of thousands of gay citizens marched in cities across the United States in pride and protest this weekend, celebrating and demanding full rights for our community. The Equality March in Washington and the Resist March in Los Angeles were just two major events this weekend.

Many of the marchers noted what they believe is the setback in the progress made under the Obama administration, in the new Trump White House.

Several members of the new President’s Cabinet have been openly critical of the gay community, including Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Unlike Obama, Trump did not declare June Gay Pride Month.

Sunday’s marches came on an especially poignant day as many remembered the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, one year ago, when a pro-Islamic State gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 people.

https://www.voanews.com/a/lgbt-pride-marches/3896483.html