Gorsuch emerges as possible LGBT ally in Supreme Court arguments

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on LGBT inclusion under Title VII. (Washington Blade photo photo by Michael Key)

When the dust cleared Oct. 8 after two hours of arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court on whether anti-LGBT discrimination is prohibited under federal civil rights law, U.S. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch emerged as a potential ally for LGBT people.

Gorsuch, a Trump-appointed justice who considers himself a textualist, asked many questions suggesting he’s at least considering the idea that anti-LGBT discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, thus prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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School official appeals job removal after trans boy harassed

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) | A West Virginia assistant principal accused of harassing a transgender student is appealing a decision to remove him from his job after this school year.

WBOY-TV reports an attorney for Lee Livengood asked the Harrison County Board of Education to reconsider last week’s vote not to renew Livengood’s contract at the end of a three-year probationary period.

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Jury sides with transgender employee in ‘historic’ Iowa case

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) | A jury ruled Feb. 13 that an Iowa prison warden discriminated against a transgender employee by denying him the use of men’s restrooms and locker rooms in a verdict that advocates call “historic.”

Jurors also found that the state executive branch discriminated against Jesse Vroegh by offering medical benefits that would not cover his gender reassignment surgery. After making those findings, the eight-member jury awarded $120,000 in damages for emotional distress to Vroegh, 37, a former nurse at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville.

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Court will take up Phoenix’s anti-discrimination ordinance

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PHOENIX (AP) | The state Supreme Court will hear arguments Jan. 23 in a challenge of Phoenix’s anti-discrimination ordinance that makes it illegal for businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples for religion reasons.

Two Christian artists who operate a business that makes invitations and other wedding-related items argue that the ordinance will violate their religious beliefs by forcing them to custom-make products for same-sex marriage ceremonies.

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Assistant principal accused of harassing transgender student

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) | A West Virginia high school’s assistant principal should be disciplined after questioning a transgender male student over his choice of bathrooms and saying, “you freak me out,” the American Civil Liberties Union said.

The ACLU’s West Virginia chapter said it has asked the Harrison County schools superintendent to take action against Assistant Principal Lee Livengood at Liberty High School in Clarksburg. An ACLU statement said the chapter also is seeking best-practice policies and training in the school system for dealing with transgender students and issues.

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Anti-LGBT adoption measure defeated in U.S. House

By : CHRIS JOHNSON OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The U.S. House skirted a proposed measure Sept. 26 that would have inhibited adoption rights for LGBT couples, approving major appropriations legislation that omitted the initiative.

The chamber voted 361-61 for a massive spending package to avert a government shutdown weeks before Election Day, spending the legislation to President Trump, who’s expected to sign it.

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Suit over Michigan gay couples denied adoptions can proceed

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DETROIT (AP) | A federal judge has declined to dismiss a lawsuit which says Michigan is illegally allowing faith-based groups to reject same-sex couples who want to adopt children or become foster parents.

U.S. District Judge Paul Borman said in an order issued Friday that the couples had successfully argued that the faith-based groups’ religious screening practices harmed them.

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16 states urge Supreme Court to rule workers can be fired for being trans

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A coalition of 16 states led by Nebraska Attorney General Douglas Peterson is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a federal appeals court decision in favor of a fired transgender funeral home worker and determine workers can be terminated for being transgender.

The states filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court last week in response to a petition urging justices to take up and reverse the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, which held anti-trans discrimination is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars sex discrimination.

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House panel approves ‘religious freedom’ anti-LGBTQ adoption amendment

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) introduced a “religious freedom” anti-LGBTQ adoption amendment. Photo via public domain.

A House committee approved on Wednesday as part of major appropriations legislation an amendment seen to allow taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny placement into LGBTQ families over religious objections.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), would bar the federal government and state or localities from denying funds to adoption agencies that have “declined or will decline to provide, facilitate or refer for a child welfare service that conflicts with, or under circumstances that conflict with, the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs of convictions.”

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Supreme Court sends back ‘religious freedom’ case from anti-gay florist

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers is seeking an OK to refuse service to gay couples. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday announced that it has sent back for review to Washington State a lawsuit filed by an anti-gay florist seeking a First Amendment right to refuse service to same-sex weddings.

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Court applies Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling to uphold Ariz. LGBT ordinance

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A state appellate court on Thursday upheld a city non-discrimination ordinance in Arizona, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in the reasoning for the decision.

The court in a decision written by Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Lawrence Winthrop determines a non-discrimination ordinance in Phoenix barring anti-LGBT discrimination enacted in 2013 is valid under the U.S. Constitution.

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Judge: Va. school board can appeal Gavin Grimm ruling

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A federal judge on Tuesday said a Virginia school board can ask a federal appeals court to consider whether its bathroom policy is discriminatory.

U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk, Va., on May 22 dismissed the Gloucester County School Board’s motion to dismiss Gavin Grimm’s lawsuit against the policy. The Associated Press reported Wright — who in 2014 ruled Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional — on Tuesday granted the school board’s request to petition the 4th U.S. Circuit of Appeals to resolve the case.

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