Friday, November 20, 2009

Equality in the News November 13th-November 20th

Today is National Transgender Day of Remembrance. Let’s remember those who were killed or took their own lives due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. This day of remembrance originally began to honor Rita Hester whose 1998 murder started “Remembering Our Dead,” since then this day has grown to publicly honor those we have lost. -Jennifer


2009 Conference & Gala

This past Saturday Equality NC Foundation held its third annual Conference & Gala in Greensboro. The event brought together over 300 local and state activists and advocates. Over a dozen riveting educational workshops, and participant-led caucusing and networking took place and covered LGBT issues on college campuses (including a focus on Historically Black Colleges & Universities--HBCUs), legislative processes, same-sex parenting and the law, state hate crimes law, employment non-discrimination and more. During the plenary, Executive Director Ian Palmquist discussed the successes of the year. He spoke on HIV/AIDS drug assistance, the passage of the Healthy Youth Act, and how friendly legislators--backed by concerned citizens statewide--were able to block an anti-LGBT constitutional marriage amendment for the sixth year in a row. By far, the greatest achievement of the year came when the General Assembly passed the School Violence Prevention Act! Footage from the opening session on Pam's House Blend.

During the Gala, Equality North Carolina honored Senator Julia Boseman with the Legislative Leadership Award. Stellar young activist, Kate Mabe, was also honored with her family. Watch the highlights, again courtesy of Pam Spaulding. Thanks, Pam!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Conference & Gala! The day was certainly one to remember and I appreciated meeting the many allies/advocates/supporters/volunteers/interns that I did. You all are truly wonderful.

The High Cost of Bigotry

Denying rights doesn't come cheap in our state. Had the Marriage Discrimination Act gone through last legislative session, it would have cost taxpayers over five million dollars (that's five with six zeros!) to put equal rights to a popular vote. Blue NC breaks it down, and includes links to the bill, facts and figures.


A Day to Remember

There are a number of trans-specific stories this Transgender Day of Remembrance. Here's a portion of them from Colorado, New York, California, Canada (just pretend that's in the "World" section), Illinois, and Utah.

“Some” Equal Benefits in New York…

On Thursday, New York’s top court prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public facilities based on gender identity and expression. The city joins 16 municipalities in Florida who have already adopted similar measures.

Equal Marriage Ban not allowed on D.C. Ballot

On Tuesday, the Board of Elections and Ethics ruled that a measure to let voters decide whether to ban equal marriages in D.C. cannot go on the ballot because it would violate the city’s 1977 Human Rights Act. What a novel idea! The D.C. City Council is expected to approve equal marriage, but of course opponents still wanted voters to weigh in (why is that not surprising). The D.C. bill is set to have its first vote on December 1st. The bill must be voted on twice before passing.

The Blade Will Rise Again?

The Washington Blade closed this week, but its staff have vowed to publish a revived edition (the DC Agenda), investigating how the paper shut down so quickly and who was behind the decision.

Rhode Island Opens Door (Slightly)

Governor Don Carcieri (R) has opened the door to the limited recognition of equal relationships in Rhode Island. Governor Carcieri still opposes equal marriage and stated during the 2006 elections that he also opposed civil unions.
What took Carcieri to wake up and turn down the road of “sort of” equal rights for all?
Carcieri and an LGBT rights group had a closed door meeting Thursday, where he told reporters that he would “consider creating a domestic partnership system,” similar to the one approved by voters in Washington state. The system would allow LGBT couples benefits such as the right to use sick leave to care for a partner, rights related to the adoption of a child and child support.


Philippine LGBT Group Fights to Contest Elections

Recently, Philippine LGBT rights group, Ang Ladlad (Out of the Closet) has found itself caught in a legal battle to be allowed to run in next year polls. The Elections Commission ruled that the group cannot registered on the grounds that the group, “advocates immorality.” The rulings cited passages from the Bible and the Quran condemning homosexuality.

Charge Filed in Puerto Rico Murder

On Wednesday, charges were filed in the murder of 19-year-old Jorge Steven Lopez whose body was found last week. U.S. authorities said they are still considering whether to make it a hate crime case. Lopez was known as a college student volunteer for organizations advocating HIV prevention, LGBT rights.

Reports state that 26-year-old Juan Martinez Matos was arrested earlier this week and confessed to killing Lopez. He is currently jailed on a $4 million bond. Matos allegedly killed Lopez after mistaking Lopez for a female prostitute.

Finally on the Right Track

Caster Semenya will keep her gold metal, title, and prize money from an 800-meter race in August world championship, and results of her "gender verification" test will be kept private.

That’s the news briefs for this week. Since we’ll all be stuffing our faces with turkey (or a similar vegetarian or vegan-friendly main course), I’ll be taking a break from reporting on Equality news briefs. I’ll pick back up in December!

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