Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Unfortunately We Need This.

With all the laws that are being passed or being proposed in states around the country that gives special rights to people discriminate in the name of religion this law is necessary.
Kennedy, Scott Introduce Amendment to Religious Freedom Restoration Act
The Rainbow Times
By TRT Editor
May 27, 2016

WASHINGTON—Joined by leaders from the civil rights, social justice and faith communities, Congressman Joe Kennedy III (MA-04) and Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Ranking Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, today introduced legislation to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  The Do No Harm Act would clarify that no one can seek religious exemption from laws guaranteeing fundamental civil and legal rights. It comes in response to continued efforts across the country to cite religious belief as grounds to undermine Civil Rights Act protections, limit access to healthcare, and refuse service to minority populations.

Specifically, the Do No Harm Act would limit the use of RFRA in cases involving discrimination, child labor and abuse, wages and collective bargaining, access to health care, public accommodations, and social services provided through government contract.

“The right of Americans to freely and fully express our faith is sacred in this country,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III. “But in order to guarantee that liberty for every citizen, our system must ensure that my religious freedom does not infringe on yours or do you harm. While not its original intent, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has become a vehicle for those seeking to impose their beliefs on others or claim that the tenants of their faith justify discrimination. The Do No Harm Act will restore the balance between our right to religious freedom and our promise of equal protection under law.”
Representative Kennedy is right when the law was passed it had another purpose but over time the courts have started to interpret differently. In the past the courts have recognized that religious exemption didn’t apply to the civil and legal rights, they have ruled that there is an overriding right to treat everyone equally and not to discriminate against minorities, but there are strong indicators that that might be changing.
“When Congress passed RFRA in 1993, the goal was to protect religious freedom for minority groups by requiring the government to demonstrate a compelling interest and to use a policy that was the least restrictive means,” said Congressman Bobby Scott. “Since then, the law has been misconstrued as allowing the sincerely-held religious beliefs of one person to trump the civil rights of others. Civil rights are a compelling government interest, and we cannot allow so-called ‘religious freedom,’ ‘religious liberty’ or ‘faith-based initiatives’ to invalidate the very laws designed to correct the generations of injustices inflicted on minorities. The Do No Harm Act restores the original intent of RFRA.”

In 1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in response to a Supreme Court case undermining the rights of religious minorities. But in recent years, the misapplication of RFRA has been used to deny health care coverage for employees, claim exemptions to civil rights law, and complicate justice in child labor and abuse cases.
But now these laws are being used to justify discrimination against LGBT people. I see it only as a matter of time when a company like Hobby Lobby claims they are not hiring LGBT employees because it is against the company owners’ religious beliefs.

Trans Rights

In this year’s political arena the candidates are speaking out on trans rights and some of their positions are head scratchers.

Bernie’s position according to Buzzfeed,
Bernie Sanders declared he was an ally to the transgender community and he vowed to expand transgender protections under existing federal civil rights laws if he’s elected — according to his answers to a presidential questionnaire sent in April by a transgender-rights advocacy group.
Hilary’s position according to her statement,
In her statement, Clinton pledged to fight for full federal equality for LGBT Americans. She advised she will work with congress to pass the Equality Act, an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Act would provide LGBT individuals explicit and comprehensive protection from discrimination in all facets of American life—employment, housing, schools, access to credit, public education, jury service, and public accommodations.
Now Trump’s position is hard to pin down because it is flapping all over the place. The latest that I could find was,
Last month, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump broke with his party’s orthodoxy and came out against a North Carolina law that bans schools and public buildings from accommodating transgender individuals’ bathroom use.

“North Carolina did something that was very strong,” Trump told Today, “and they’re paying a big price. There’s a lot of problems.”

But Trump has steadily walked those comments back during the handful of weeks since. In fact, Trump’s recent comments suggest he doesn’t actually object to anti-trans state laws like North Carolina’s aforementioned HB2 after all.

Earlier this month, Trump said that while he thinks "transgender people should be protected under the law," the bathroom issue is one that should be left to the individual states to sort out. The problem with that position, however, is that states like North Carolina are passing laws that do the very opposite of protect trans people.

Then, during an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor this Monday, Trump rolled out another rationale for why states shouldn't be required to accommodate trans people -- it's allegedly too expensive.

"Frankly, it would be unbelievably expensive nationwide," Trump said, referring to gender neutral bathrooms. "It would be hundreds of billions of dollars."
So take your pick on whether he is for trans rights or against them, it seems to depend upon his mood and audience.

Personally  I feel that human rights, not just trans rights but women’s right to determine their own reproductive health, integration, and freedom from religious persecution are the important issues for me this election cycle.

I believe that the Republicans cry is to get government off our back overlook the fact that they want to put government into our doctor’s office and tell us what we can do with our bodies. What could be more invasive that what Republican legislators have proposed… vaginal ultrasounds before a woman can get an abortion?

They have passed legislation that gives special rights to people to disregard laws and discriminate against people that they don’t agree just by saying it is against their religion.

In parts of the south segregation is alive and growing.

They are disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters in states and claim it is to stop voter fraud which they have admitted in court doesn’t exisit.

I cannot in good conscious vote Republican , a party that as part of their party platform criminalizes me.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Let Us Remember

Repost from May 25, 2015 - Memorial Day

All those who have served in the defense of our country, but let us also remember those who must keep silent because if they reveal their true gender they will not be able to serve. As people cerebrate that gay and lesbian servicemembers we seem to be lost in the celebration, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy with 21 other senators issued a press release that said in part…
"The repeal of DADT represented great progress toward eradicating a significant barrier to formal equality, but the military is not yet an equitable environment for gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members. The absence of formal equal opportunity protections not only undermines foundational American principles of fairness and equality, it also presents an unneeded risk to national security by negatively impacting the morale and readiness of our all-volunteer force. Conversely, an environment in which all service members can defend their country with honor and personal integrity, and without fear of discrimination, strengthens the bonds of shared sacrifice and maintains good order and discipline,"wrote the Senators.
It would have been a perfect opportunity to make a statement about changing the policy for trans servicemembers.

The Advocate in an op-ed, Gay Purple Heart Recipient Says 'Mission Not Accomplished' called for our inclusion,
It has been five years since President Obama repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but the military remains exclusionary. While we made huge strides in allowing LGB individuals to serve openly, we didn’t, as we say in the military, “accomplish the mission.” Our nation still does not allow our transgender brothers and sisters to wear the uniform and serve our country. Since my coming out in 2007, I've met many transgender people who served in the military but had to hide their gender identity. As a nation, we will never know just how many of our brothers and sisters died while still living and feeling the oppression of the closet; the fact that this is still happening is unconscionable. As I often say in most of my public speeches, we still have work to do. Aside from fixing the ban on out transgender military personnel, we still need to make sure the National LGBT Veterans Memorial gets completed so we can best remember those in our community who worked so hard to preserve our way of life.
I know perhaps a dozen trans servicemembers who served in silence it is time for them to get recognition for their military service.

A year ago trans servicemembers were promised they would be welcome to serve in the military, they were promised that the policy barring them from the serving would be removed... we are still waiting. It is time to let all servicemembers who want to serve, serve.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


There have been a number of “Preachers” on YouTube who have been marching through Target or in front of schools who have been preaching their own brand of hate. One person who was preaching hate in front of a school got hit in the head with a baseball bat, I do not condone violence, the girl who did it got arrested and the preacher “denied that he was responsible for the attack by inciting the violence.”
When will some churches stop treating transgender people as modern-day lepers?NOLA.com
By Robert Mann
May 27, 2016

Theodore Parker, the 19th century Unitarian minister and abolitionist, was right: "The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." History takes a circuitous route, but it inexorably gravitates toward acknowledging the dignity and inherent worth of every person. Fitfully – and with some maddening steps backward – minorities, immigrants, refugees and other marginalized people will continue to earn greater rights and wider public acceptance.

And, eventually, perhaps 10 years hence, we will glance back at today's nasty, politically motivated struggle over transgender rights and ask, "What, exactly, did we fight about?"

I've given up hope that Louisiana's political leaders will soon muster the courage to "bend toward justice" on LGBT issues. That's one reason, as a person of faith, I find it particularly tragic that so many religious leaders lack the fortitude to lead their flocks towards greater acceptance of gay and transgender individuals. And I'm not talking about hate mongers in the style of Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson.
I do not think that these churches will ever stop hating LGBT people because it fills their collection plates and focuses their members away from the real issues.
It's beyond tragic that gay, lesbian and transgender people often find no place of comfort in their faith communities. Certainly, many churches have embraced LGBT individuals. The Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, the Reform Jewish Movement and the Unitarians, to name a few, not only perform same-sex weddings; they have also ordained LGBT pastors or rabbis. These are, however, still a minority.
These churches have to do more than embrace us; they have to speak up for us. It is not until they make their voices heard that there will be change.

Also the media has to stop focusing on the negative and have religious leaders  on their shows that support  us. But that will never happen because someone shouting damnation and hate bring in viewers while a preacher who says that trans people should be allowed to use the bathroom of their gender identity does bring in viewers.

In addition, the Republicans Party uses LGBT issues as a way to get donations and rally their conservative base, to take away the attention from the fact that even with a Republican control Congress they are fighting among themselves.

Started Something!

Those who have been following my blog know that for the last year I have been working with a group of non-profits, senior centers and state agencies in organizing a LGBT day at senior centers around the state and it has taken off.

We have added a number of new towns and cities to those who want to have a LGBT day at their centers, this month we have two centers that will hold a day at their centers. This month for the first time there will be two senior centers holding a LGBT day at their centers and one center is a new member. There are also a number of centers east of the Connecticut River that wants to join the group.

On our Facebook page some of the “likes” are from other LGBT senior groups from around the country, so the idea is catching not only here in Connecticut but also in other states. One senor group is from Ohio and another group is the Trans Aging Project.

You can see this year’s schedule on our website here. So if you live in Connecticut, a senior (over 50) and want something to do give the LGBT days at the senior centers a visit and meet new people, and do new things.

You have to be LGBT to come to a center, the programs are open to everyone, I’m definitely going the Plainville LGBT Day and play miniature golf which I haven’t played in ages.