From The Advocate:
Immediately following the historic Senate vote to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the federal hate-crimes law, controversy erupted over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act now under consideration in the House of Representatives.
The Democratic House leadership is considering stripping protections for transgender people from ENDA after a preliminary vote count found the measure would not pass if it had trans-inclusive language.
To read the rest of the story, click here.
Check out Friday's Oprah, where she'll be looking at what it means to be transgendered.
Guests who say they were born in the wrong body share their stories on facing the world transgendered. What would you do if your 7-year-old daughter said, “Mom, I really should be a boy"?
forwarded from Human Rights Campaign:
Senate Passage of Hate Crimes Bill Moves Bill Closer Than Ever To Becoming Law
Bill Signifies Major Victory toward Equality for GLBT Community
WASHINGTON- In an historic step toward equality for GLBT Americans, the U.S. Senate voted to pass the Matthew Shepard Act, which updates and expands the federal hate crimes laws to include bias motivated violence based on a victim's sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, and disability, and provides new resources and tools to assist local law enforcement in prosecuting vicious crimes.
"For over a decade our community has worked tirelessly to ensure protections to combat violence motivated by hate and today we are the closest we have ever been to seeing that become a reality," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Congress has taken an historic step forward and moved our country closer to the realization that all Americans, including the GLBT community, are part of the fabric of our nation. The new leadership in Congress fully understands that for too long our community has been terrorized by hate violence. And today, the US Senate has sent a clear message to every corner of our country that we will no longer turn a blind eye to anti-gay violence in America."
The Senate in a bipartisan vote of 60 to 39 accepted cloture which ended debate on the bill and then moved to approve the Matthew Shepard Act by a voice vote -- attaching it as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2008 Department of Defense Authorization bill.
On May 3rd, the House of Representatives passed a companion bill, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1592), with a strong bipartisan margin of 237 to 180. Twenty-six state Attorneys General, including 23 from states with anti-hate crimes laws already on the books, as well as 230 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations support the Matthew Shepard Act and the LLEHCPA because, despite progress toward equality in almost all segments of our society, hate crimes continue to spread fear and violence and local law enforcement often lack the tools and resources to prevent and prosecute them. Some of these supporting organizations include the National Sheriffs Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 26 state attorneys general, the National District Attorneys Association, the NAACP, the Episcopal Church, the League of Women Voters, the Anti-Defamation League, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the YWCA of the USA and the United Methodist Church.
The President has threatened to veto the legislation, calling it "unnecessary." According to the FBI, 25 Americans each day are victims of hate crimes-that means approximately one hate crime is committed every hour. One in six hate crimes are motivated by the victim's sexual orientation. It's time to update the law to protect everyone, and this year marks our best chance yet to get it done.
"Hate crimes terrorize entire communities and violate America's core democratic principles that all citizens are created equal and are afforded equal protection under the law," continued Solmonese. "On behalf of the millions of Americans who have waited too long for these critical protections, we urge President Bush to sign the bill when it arrives on his desk."
The hate crimes amendment was introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR). It confers authority on the federal government to investigate and prosecute crimes committed against victims solely because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability when local officials are unwilling or unable to do so. It also expands existing federal hate crimes law to improve prosecution of bias-motivated crimes based on race, religious, national origin and color and provides additional resources to local law enforcement.
Why in the world would people not want Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (President of Iran) to come to the U.S. and speak?! This is America and free speech is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. The moment we begin to censor people — whether it's a student at a university assembly, a book that's just hit the shelves, a musician who happens to have a different perspective than our own, or even a maniacal leader from another country. In that moment that we choose to shut down the freedom of expression, we cease to trust the American people to decipher things for themselves.
Time and time again, the conservative Right-Wingers wield their reductionist agenda in a way that threatens the celebration of intellectualism and free thinking. Constantly attempting to eliminate the opposition all together. They want to reduce our speech down to only hearing their side of the story. They want to reduce our rights down to the things that they deem correct. Abortion: You should not have the choice. Gay marriage: You should not have the option. In schools, they want to make sure that students learn their version of the truth, so they attempt to simply take evolution out of the picture. And heaven forbid our children have sex before marriage, so, let's take sex ed out of the curriculum while we're at it and surely this will stop them from their sexual escapades.
All things that the religious right and their non-religious conservative counterparts get a hold of, they reduce down to the lowest common denominator. They appeal to the non-thinking person, who would rather be spoon fed the answers to all of life's questions. They would rather be able to look at the world in black and white in a way that leaves no room for the gray areas and immediately creates a world view that is simply good vs. evil — you're either with us or you're against us. We've heard this rhetoric before from our leaders and it's proof that the Right would simply expect us to roll over and submit to their simple-minded policies and plans.
Well, that's not going to happen. You see, even the Right-Wing folks cannot stomach the crazy dictator that is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but I look at him and I see the most heinous of conservatism. And during his speeches at Columbia University and the U.N., we were able to get a glimpse of the way he thinks. He's not only on record of condemning and torturing homosexuals in his home country, he now is in denial of their existence.
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Should we sit back and not stand up for justice in this situation? Of course not. This guy is an obvious whack job and when people want to censor him and people like him, I just take the approach that I take with other conservatives that rub me the wrong way. I sit back and let them speak. I simply give them enough rope to let them hang themselves. But as we hear the words of this dictator as he denies the homosexual "phenomenon" even exists in his country, I challenge you to two things: One: That we would be reminded that LGBT folks do indeed live in Iran and they are truly a persecuted people. Remember them and speak truth to power whenever given the chance. And Two: Choose today as the day to stand up for your freedoms. The freedom of speech and expression. And the freedom to think as we choose to think. As I write this post I am struck by the reality that in some countries in our world I wouldn't be allowed to publish my thoughts in this manner. But here, in America, we have this freedom. And I will do all that I can to exercise this right.
As any living, breathing LGBT person knows, we're usually hard-pressed to find a church that is going to be open and accepting. And, say we do find a church that is accepting of us as individuals … How will they feel if I bring my girlfriend and heaven forbid, want to hold her hand or put my arm around her? The last thing I want is to walk into a church and feel the glare of many judging eyes. I've been there before. And, to be honest, it's kept me away from Christian churches for substantial amounts of time and made me wonder if there would ever be a place where I could go and be myself … As I believe God created me to be.
The U.S. arm of the Anglican Communion (The Episcopal Church USA) has been publicly debating the issues of gay ordination and same-sex unions for half a decade. This, of course, all came out (so to speak) when Gene Robinson (an openly gay Episcopal priest) was confirmed as a bishop at the 2003 general convention of the denomination.
The American Episcopal church seems to be predominantly liberal in its approach to this issue, but some North American dioceses have already pulled out of the American church and more are threatening to do the same. So, this week, the American House of Bishops is meeting in New Orleans to come to some sort of decision on the issue. Will they stand their ground as an open and inclusive Christian denomination or will they choose to bow to the Anglican Communion, for fear of disrupting the entire worldwide denomination with a church wide schism?
"The Bishop of North Carolina, Michael B. Curry, will bring the message from his people: Don't do it. His people tell him not to bow to demands from the Anglican Communion that the American church stop ordaining openly gay bishops and blessing same-sex unions. Rev. George Clifford, a retired priest from Raleigh said, 'We need to stand up for the truth as we understand it and be inclusive of all God's people.'"
September 30th has been set as the date when they need to have it all figured out. Many people think that a church split is inevitable. Others hold out a hope that there can be reconciliation. Whichever way this discussion leads, there is no doubt that this week's gathering in Louisiana is pivotal.
To me, a self-professed Christian who just happens to be a lesbian, it's a no brainer. My understanding of the Christian faith leads me to two central principles: Love God. Love people. It's as simple as that. There are no loopholes. No trick questions. No secret expectations that once a church gets you in the door, they can slip in on you. It's a simple and revolutionary faith that is as open as can be. It is one where people are loved just as they are, no strings attached. And it's a faith and a love that gives hope for a better tomorrow. It's my hope that the Episcopal Church will stay true to their hearts and they will stand their ground … loving God and loving people.