New York gets tough on insurers

State financial regulators in New York said today they would investigate reports in American newspapers that gay men have been denied life, disability or long-term care insurance policies because they were taking medication to protect themselves against HIV. Note that the applicants did not have HIV.

If proved these denials of cover would amount to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation and the companies doing so could be penalized, according to Maria T. Vullo, New York state’s superintendent of financial services.

Insurers around the US had denied policies to gay men after learning they took Prep to avoid catching H.I.V. through sex. To get insurance, some men even stopped taking the protective drugs.

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Another gay bar closes for redevelopment. Cincinatti, this time.

Cincinatti.com reports that The Dock, a long-running Cincinnati gay bar, closed yesterday. Open since 1984, it had been at the forefront in its role as an LBGT community-building asset by hosting drag shows and dance nights, as well as serving as a hub of social activism.

The Dock has been targeted for demolition, as the Ohio Department of Transportation is purchasing a portion of the land on which the building sits, in order to make improvements to nearby roads and a bridge.

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/entertainment/2018/02/15/last-call-dock-cincinnati-gay-bar-closes-after-34-years/340028002/

Why Gay Activist is still going

On my wedding night, a Protestant minister blessed our marriage in the eyes of God, and I danced with my father under a tent overlooking a moonlit bay. I didn’t think I was at risk of losing that dream anymore. I didn’t think that my identity, the very core of who I was, meant I had to give up a wedding or a family or be at risk for something much more sinister. But this poll brought me back to reality. Our equality, and the world’s sense of our humanity, is not set in stone. It is not assured. I am right to be afraid,

writes Colleen Curry in the Washington Post, on the subject of last week’s shock poll that support for gay rights in the USA is diminishing.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/02/05/i-thought-gay-rights-were-safe-now-i-know-i-was-wrong/?utm_term=.effdbb436d3d

US: Attitudes to gays have changed

The Washington Post reveals that a new poll for GLAAD reveals a hardening of attitudes in America against the gay community.

For the first time since the survey began in 2014, non-LGBT Americans told pollsters that they’re less comfortable with their LGBT neighbors. And the number of LGBT survey respondents who told pollsters that they’d experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity jumped by 11 points.

For years, activists in America (and here) have hoped that by coming out, gay people can change attitudes. The poll suggests that tactic has stopped working.

But now, Gerzema noted, 80 percent of non-LGBT Americans say they know someone who is lesbian, gay or bisexual, and 20 percent of Americans know someone transgender. If they know LGBT people and are getting less comfortable with them anyway, we may have reached the end of exposure therapy as a political tactic.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2018/01/25/in-three-years-lgbt-americans-have-gone-from-triumph-to-backlash-blame-trump/?utm_term=.88389c12286d

60 years battle comes to an end

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Grace James | Legal Aid at Work | 18012

After a 60 year battle, Grace James won her honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force this week, at the age of 90.

She enlisted in the Air Force in 1952, and had a fine service record. She was promoted to Airman 2nd Class but when she was stationed at Roslyn Air Force Base, Airman James came under investigation by the Office of Special Investigation.

One night in the winter of 1955 she sat with a friend in her car to eat sandwiches. An officer discovered them and took her into custody and she was interrogated. Investigators told Helen Grace James that if she didn’t sign a statement they put in front of her, they would tell her family she was homosexual. She signed, and was discharged as “undesirable.”

She received no severance pay or veterans’ health care coverage, and no assistance from the GI bill to go to college. She had worked through channels for decades to try to upgrade her discharge, and finally sued the Air Force this month.

Congratulations Grace.

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/20/579205780/kicked-out-of-air-force-for-being-gay-helen-grace-james-wins-honorable-discharge

No Change for Mississippi

The U.S. Supreme Court left intact a Mississippi law that lets businesses and government workers refuse on religious grounds to provide services to gay and transgender people, reports Bloomberg.

The justices turned away two appeals by state residents and organizations that contended the measure violates the Constitution. A federal appeals court said the opponents hadn’t suffered any injury that would let them press their claims in court.

The Mississippi law was enacted less than a year after the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. It says religious people can’t be sued or penalized by the government for declining to provide services for same-sex marriage ceremonies and protects people who believe gender is an immutable characteristic or who object to sex out of wedlock.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-08/u-s-high-court-leaves-intact-mississippi-law-curbing-gay-rights

Grindr victims see justice

One of four Texas men accused of using a dating app to assault and rob gay men has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. 21-year-old Nigel Garrett and three other Dallas-area men were charged with hate crimes, kidnappings, carjackings and using firearms to commit violent crimes.

The men arranged meetings at victims’ homes through a social media dating platform for gay men. Victims were tied up, assaulted and robbed at gunpoint.

Garrett was sentenced yesterday. The other three suspects have pleaded guilty and will be sentenced later.

https://nypost.com/2018/01/03/man-who-used-gay-dating-app-to-assault-rob-men-gets-15-years/