Bills seek to end ‘conversion therapy’ in Kentucky

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ABOVE: State Rep. Lisa Willner (L) attends Pride in 2019. Photo via Willner’s Facebook page.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) | Twice a week for four years when he was in high school, gay student Zach Meiners underwent “conversion therapy,” a practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Once the sessions ended, it took almost 10 years before he started “to heal and learn to love” himself, Meiners said Tuesday during a rally to promote bills that would effectively ban conversion therapy in Kentucky.

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House Democrats call for ICE to release all transgender detainees

By : Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: A transgender woman inside a unit for transgender detainees in Milan, N.M. Photo public domain.

More than 40 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday called for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release all of the transgender people who are in their custody.

“The United States is bound by domestic and international law to protect — not punish — vulnerable populations escaping from persecution,” reads the letter to Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence and Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf that U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) spearheaded. “We demand that ICE abide by these laws by immediately bringing facilities detaining transgender individuals into compliance, and by arranging for release of transgender individuals at risk of sexual abuse and assault in ICE custody.”

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Tennessee sends anti-LGBTQ adoption bill to governor’s desk

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Tennessee, photo by formulanone via Wikimedia Commons.

Adoption legislation in Tennessee opponents say would enable discrimination against LGBTQ families is on its way to the desk of Gov. Bill Lee, who’s expected to the sign the bill in the aftermath of approval Tuesday by the state Senate.

In its first bill of the year, the Tennessee Senate approved HB 836, which would allow adoption agencies to refuse placement into LGBTQ homes on the basis of religious objections. The Senate passed the bill 20-6.

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Arizona Senate delays hearing on sex ed ban before 7th grade

By : Wire Report
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ABOVE: Arizona State Senate (Photo from Willem van Bergen on Flickr)

PHOENIX (AP) | An Arizona Senate committee has delayed consideration of a contentious proposal from a conservative Republican lawmaker that would bar any sexual education instruction for students before 7th grade.

Sen. Sylvia Allen’s proposal was set for a hearing Tuesday afternoon but was unexpectedly scratched from the agenda of the Education Committee she chairs Monday evening. The proposal also boosts parental notification requirements and allows parents to sue if they’re not happy with a school district’s response to their concerns about a sex ed curriculum. It also requires a focus on minors abstaining from sex.

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New Equality Virginia executive director rallies support for LGBTQ rights bills

By : Philip Van Slooten of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Above: Vee Lamneck (Photo courtesy from Vee Lamneck)

Vee Lamneck, Equality Virginia’s new executive director, on Jan. 13, was busy meeting with LGBTQ activists from across the state marshaling support for two bills: One to ban so-called conversion therapy and the other to help transgender Virginians update their birth certificates.

Lamneck, who uses singular they pronouns, told the Washington Blade the organization is “working hard to organize folks to be there to testify” in support of the measures.

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Puerto Rico LGBTQ activists join earthquake relief efforts

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Volunteers with Waves Ahead, a Puerto Rico LGBTQ advocacy group, on Jan. 12, 2020, provide assistance to earthquake victims in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico. (Photo courtesy of Waves Ahead)

LGBTQ activists in Puerto Rico are among those who have joined earthquake relief efforts in the U.S. commonwealth.

A group of volunteers with Waves Ahead, a group based in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, over the weekend traveled to Guayanilla and other municipalities on the island’s southwest coast that suffered extensive damage from a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck on Jan. 7.

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Tom Steyer baffled by own comments on LGBTQ asylum in NYT interview

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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ABOVE: Tom Steyer. (Photo by Phil Roeder, from Wikimedia Commons)

Tom Steyer, the businessman-turned-Democratic presidential candidate, was baffled by his own comments he previously made on protecting the health of LGBTQ asylum seekers when asked to flesh out his plan during a New York Times interview.

Steyer was unaware of his own his words — thus unable to provide more detail about his plan — during an interview with the New York Times editorial board that was published late Jan. 13.

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New Kameny book cover mimics 1950 report calling gays ‘perverts’

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr. of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Above: Cover of Frank Kamey’s “The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America.” (Photo from the Washington Blade)

The author of an upcoming book on gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny’s groundbreaking work beginning in the late 1950s in fighting the federal government’s discrimination against gay people has given the Blade an advance look at the book’s unique cover.

Entitled “The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America,” the book’s cover partially replicates the cover of a sensational 1950 U.S. Senate report on homosexuals in federal employment that is credited with triggering widespread purges of gay federal workers over the next 30 years.

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Michigan may add non-binary option to driver’s licenses

By : Wire Report
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Above: Michigan Supreme Court (Photo by Jeffness on Wikimedia Commons)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) | Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office is working to add a third gender option on Michigan licenses.

The possibility to add a non-binary option might be complete by 2021, according to The Detroit News. Michigan would become the 14th state to make such a change.

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Rep. Brown becomes first black member of Congress to endorse Buttigieg

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Above: Rep. Anthony Brown (Photo by Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade)

Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), who has made LGBTQ rights a cornerstone of his congressional career, on Jan. 9 endorsed Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg, becoming the first black member of Congress to endorse the gay presidential hopeful.

“Our country needs a president who can heal our divides and restore decency to our nation’s highest office,” Brown said in a statement. “Pete’s message is not defined by exclusion but welcomes everyone into the fight to tackle our nation’s greatest challenges. As we fight for the future of the soul of our country here at home, we also remain entangled in endless wars abroad and the threats to American lives and interests around the world have increased.”

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Illinois updating birth certificates for transgender dads

By : Wire Report
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Above: Myles and Precious Brady-Davis (Photo from Twitter)

CHICAGO (AP) | Illinois is updating its birth certificate system to affirm the gender identities of transgender parents, after a transmasculine person asked to be officially recognized as a father who gave birth to their daughter.

Myles and Precious Brady-Davis of Chicago learned after their daughter, Zayn, arrived in December that the Illinois Department of Public Health automatically names the parent who gives birth as “Mother/Co-Parent” on a birth certificate.

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Self-help guru Marianne Williamson drops presidential bid

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Marianne Williamson, photo via Williamson’s Facebook page.

Spiritualist and self-help guru Marianne Williamson has dropped her bid for the presidency, ending the campaign of an idiosyncratic Democratic candidate who once helped gay men dying of HIV/AIDS at the height of the epidemic.

Williamson announced she had ended her campaign Friday in a message on her website, saying she didn’t want her candidacy to make it tougher for progressives to win.

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