Pakistan bills offer unprecedented protections for transgender people

By : Helen Parshall of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Two groundbreaking bills have been introduced in Pakistan that would provide expansive legal protections to the country’s transgender community.

The Transgenders Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill and The Transgenders Persons (Protection of Rights) Criminal Law Amendment Bill would provide nondiscrimination protections for the trans community and criminalize acts of violence and discrimination.

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Pastor Protection Act headed to FL Senate floor for vote

By : Jamie Hyman
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State senators will vote on the anti-gay and unnecessary Pastor Protection Act March 3, after the legislature approved amendments March 1 that narrow the scope of the bill.

SB 110 purports to prevent religious leaders from being forced to perform same-sex weddings, even though under current laws protecting religious beliefs, clergy can already opt out of marrying any couple they choose, gay or straight.

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Utah lawmakers look to expand hate crime rules to cover LGBTs

By : Wire Report
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GayUtahAbstrSalt Lake City (AP) – Utah state senators back a proposal that would beef up the state’s hate crime law and add protections for gay and transgender people.

Lawmakers voted 17-12 Feb. 26 to give preliminary approval of the plan after debating it. They must still cast a final vote on the measure sometime in the next two weeks.

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Key Florida races for LGBTs to watch in 2016

By : Jamie Hyman, Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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Yes, the presidential primary is imminent, but there are other down-ticket races we’ll be following through the August primary and the November general election. We talked to some people; we learned some things.

Read about our races to watch (and the candidates vying for those seats):

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2.25.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

I pull my shirt off and pray.

It’s a bit of a conundrum, this political primary. Though Florida’s presidential-preference primary parade won’t hit the pavement until March 15, so-called Super Tuesday is blowing up in our faces on March 1, meaning, of course, that we have to sound our golden horns, decorate our cars and reach for the sky, or engage in something else that screams “occasion.”

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Pastor Protection Act Senate vote postponed

By : Jamie Hyman
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The anti-gay and unnecessary Pastor Protection Act was scheduled to go to the Florida Senate floor for a vote the morning of Feb. 23, but it’s temporarily postponed. SB 110 purports to prevent religious leaders from being forced to perform same-sex weddings, even though under current laws protecting religious beliefs, clergy can already opt out of marrying any couple they choose, gay or straight.

Carlos Guillermo Smith with Equality Florida says this is evidence that citizens are contacting their representatives and the pushback is working. 

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Gay migrants face violence, abuse as they escape turmoil in the Middle East

By : Wire Report
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Berlin (AP) – Alaa Ammar fled Syria to escape not just civil war but also the threat of persecution as a gay man. Yet when he arrived in The Netherlands last spring, he did not find the safe haven he craved.

He and four other gay travelers had to face newly arrived asylum seekers at a migrant center in the remote northern town of Ter Apel.

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Pastor Protection Act headed to Florida Senate for a vote

By : Jamie Hyman
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Tallahassee – The Pastor Protection Act, an unnecessary, anti-gay bill that purports to prevent religious leaders from being forced to perform same-sex weddings, is headed to the full Florida Senate.

On Feb. 17, SB110 cleared its final hurdle when the Rules Committee voted 7-3 in favor of the legislation. The bill is redundant, as under current laws protecting religious beliefs, clergy can already opt out of marrying any couple they choose, gay or straight.

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Georgia’s version of “Pastor Protection Act” headed to their Senate

By : Wire Report
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Atlanta (AP) – A bill headed toward a vote in the Georgia Senate would allow faith-based organizations to refuse services to same-sex couples without government penalties, including loss of taxpayer funding.

The powerful Senate Rules committee Feb. 16 added that language to a bill unanimously approved by the House last week allowing religious officials to decline performing same-sex marriage ceremonies. The move combines two of the eight bills introduced this year seeking legal exemptions for opponents of same-sex marriage after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling effectively legalized the unions.

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Utah lawmakers postpone vote to make adoption fair for gay couples

By : Wire Report
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GayUtahAbstrSalt Lake City (AP) – Utah lawmakers postponed a vote on a proposal to ensure married gay couples are treated equally as married heterosexual couples in adoptions and foster care placements.

The vote was pushed off Feb. 12 after legislators cited worries about the late hour and concerns that some had about the measure.

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2.11.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

“Love is real. Real is love.” Those were the terms breathily reinterpreted by new-wave breathers Dream Academy via John Lennon as I walked down the aisle at the Acre in College Park on Feb 14, 2015 with my (then) soon-to-be husband Tony Mauss. I blubbered and my shirt came untucked and I bit my lip and I forced my way through the emotional cloud that a gathering of 300 people implies, finally arriving upon a stage – a romantic plateau if you will – face to face with my future and Orange/Osceola circuit judge Bob LeBlanc. It was on.

Marriage equality had only become the law of the land one month earlier, and, given the Google Docs and weekend meetings and vodka and online invitations and planning that are wrapped into a control freak’s idea of a wedding, we did a pretty good job. All our favorite dignitaries and dirtbags, family, friends and freaks were there, the sky was as clear as our right to marry and our vows were the towering beams of overstatement and poetry required to signify our shift in our time. We were legal within moments; we’ve been happy every day since.

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Clearwater’s Tech Data establishes LGBT employee resource group

By : Billy Manes
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tech data gay lgbt workforce inclusiveEven as we mourn the loss of a common-sense protection bill, the Competitive Workforce Act, earlier this week in the legislature, some companies are keeping up the compassion and moving forward with the shifting economic playing field. Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reported on Tech Data’s new in-house initiative called Spectrum, “an employee resource group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers and allies,” the Journal reports. It is reportedly the 14th Florida business to do so,  basically because modern businesses need to court modern talent, and much of that is LGBT if not just LGBT-friendly.

Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith was in attendance as the keynote speaker for the meeting and offered her own wisdom on the issue.

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