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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Houston sued over possible denial of benefits to gay spouses

By : Wire Report
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Three city employees and their spouses who are concerned that Houston could be forced to stop paying benefits to same-sex spouses due to an ongoing civil case on Thursday sued the city, asking for a court order to stop any such action.

The employees’ lawsuit, filed in federal court, comes after the all-Republican state Supreme Court in June overturned a lower court’s decision favoring same-sex marriage benefits and ordered the case back to a civil court in Harris County, where Houston is located.

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Supreme Court rules for lesbian parents in Ark. birth certificate case

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL GAY MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The U.S. Supreme Court reversed Monday an Arkansas high court ruling allowing the state to refuse to place a lesbian parent’s name on the birth certificate of their child if the parent isn’t the birth mother.

In the case of Pavan v. Smith, the court in a per curiam decision issued a summary reversal of the Arkansas Supreme Court decision on the basis it contravened the 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges extending marriage equality nationwide, which was handed down exactly two years to the day of the reversal.

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2nd Circuit (again) finds anti-gay discrimination legal under Title VII

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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In a case filed by a now deceased gay skydiver who alleged sexual-orientation discrimination in the workforce, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals April 18 declined to accept the legal argument that anti-gay discrimination is prohibited under current federal civil rights law.

In a 13-page decision, the three-judge panel cites a 2000 decision in the Simonton case, a 2nd Circuit ruling that determined Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of the 1964, which bars sex discrimination in the workforce, doesn’t apply to sexual orientation. As a result of that precedent, the panel concludes Title VII cannot be applied in the pending case, named Zarda v. Altitude Express.

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Sen. Baldwin prepares for re-election fight in 2018

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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As Democrats gear up for the congressional mid-term elections in 2018, one race that will be critical for the LGBTQ community and potentially a challenge to win is the re-election bid of U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the only out lesbian in Congress.

After becoming the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, Baldwin will face re-election in a state Trump won in a surprise last year. Her race will almost certainly be a priority for the LGBTQ community seeking to ensure visibility in Congress and to strike back at Trump after his victory there.

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Nikki Haley: U.S. ‘disturbed’ by gay Chechnya arrests

By : Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley on Monday said the U.S. remains “disturbed” by the arrests of more than 100 gay men in Chechnya.

“We continue to be disturbed by reports of kidnapping, torture, and murder of people in Chechnya based on their sexual orientation and those persecuted by association,” she said in a statement. “If true, this violation of human rights cannot be ignored – Chechen authorities must immediately investigate these allegations, hold anyone involved accountable, and take steps to prevent future abuses.”

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Trump’s Easter Egg Roll a slapdash job; LGBT presence unlikely

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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The annual White House Easter Egg Roll — an event that has served to enhance LGBT visibility — is haphazardly coming together under President Trump, according to media reports, and will likely not include an LGBT presence.

Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the LGBT group American Military Partner Association, said her organization has been invited to partake in the celebration since 2012, but has “had no communication with the Trump administration whatsoever about this year’s event.”

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California latest to affirm N.C. travel ban despite HB2 replacement

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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California has joined the growing number of jurisdictions keeping in place travel bans to North Carolina enacted in protest over House Bill 2 despite the state’s governor signing into law a replacement for the anti-LGBT measure.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Wednesday his state with keep in place its ban on state-funded and state-sponsored travel and expenditures to North Carolina, citing criticism the new law continues anti-LGBT discrimination.

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Gay men sent to ‘concentration camps’ in Chechnya

By : Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade, Courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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A Russian LGBT advocacy group on Monday confirmed a report that gay men in Chechnya have been sent to secret prisons.

Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, on April 4 reported gay men have been sent to the prisons — which reports have described as “concentration camps” — in the semi-autonomous Russian republic. It said one of them is located near Argun, a town that is roughly 12 miles east of the Chechen capital of Grozny.

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Protections for trans Puerto Rico Senate employees rescinded

By : Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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The president of the Puerto Rico Senate has eliminated protections for the chamber’s transgender employees.

El Vocero, a Puerto Rican newspaper, reported Sen. Thomas Rivera Schatz on March 31 rescinded an administrative order that said trans Senate employees could use bathrooms and wear clothing that is consistent with their gender identity.

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With Dem filibuster assured, Gorsuch nomination heads to Senate floor

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Monday the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, although the nomination has hit a significant snag now that Democrats have secured the votes necessary to successfully filibuster his confirmation.

Before the committee approved the Gorsuch nomination on a party-line vote, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) announced during the session he would oppose the nominee and support the Democratic filibuster against him. That made him the 41st vote needed for a successful filibuster.

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HB2 deal becomes a test of the LGBT movement’s strength

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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A new test for the LGBT movement has emerged in the aftermath of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signing a deal to replace his state’s notoriously anti-LGBT House Bill 2 with a measure that critics say leaves discrimination in place.

In a rare occurrence, LGBT rights supporters will have to convince businesses the deal signed by a Democratic governor is bad enough to continue the boycott started after the anti-LGBT law was signed by the previous GOP governor that cost the state at least $650 million. That’ll be a tall order for a deal Cooper says alleviates discrimination in a state that has already suffered economic boycotts under HB2 and where companies are eager to grow after more than a year of business contraction.

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