Friday, February 5, 2010

Equality in the News January 30-February 5

Thanks again to Communications Intern Danielle for this week's stories. Clearly the big story in NC has been the weather, perhaps pushing out other local news.


Slow-Moving Progress that We Can Believe In?

President Obama’s call to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is gaining momentum. Leaders in Washington, DC as well as North Carolina are agreeing that the current policy should be repealed. While there is a significant degree of agreement, there is little action.

Defense Secretary, Robert Gates says that the pentagon will need at least a year to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Why does it need a year? It seems as if initiatives to take away rights comes about fast enough; why can’t policies granting rights be enacted just as quickly?

President Obama, this week, commented on the hateful anti-gay legislation in Uganda. The bill proposes that those involved in same-sex relationships be punished by jail time or even execution. While the President is right that we can agree that these policies should not exist, how does he plan to stop them? Let’s wait and see…

Uganda Official Alleges That the Anti-Gay bill will change

In response to numerous counties condemning the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, Deputy Foreign Minister Henry Okello Oryem suggested that the bill is likely to change. The proposal aims to change the current policy of imprisoning gays and lesbians to extend from 14 years to life or the death penalty. Mr. Oryem says this in response to President Obama’s comments.

While I appreciate the sentiment of changing the proposal, I would rather that they scrap the whole thing and repeal their current policy. Mr. Oryem noted that Uganda is more concerned with providing a healthy environment for their citizens than targeting gays. Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni has already distanced himself from the proposal, citing that it does not represent the values of his administration.

Hopefully, this policy will die out and soon equality will spread to Uganda.

U.S. Tax Court to allow Deductions Associated with Medical Transitions

A ruling this week allows medical costs associated with gender transition to be deducted on federal income taxes. Previously, the court contended that these procedures were cosmetic and therefore elective and should not be tax deductible. This ruling was applauded by the LGBT community for its recognition of the need for transitioning.

While this denotes progress for the movement, some believe that this decision is moot due to the high unemployment rate of transgender people, meaning that few have the insurance coverage or income to pay for costly medical procedures. The decision was partly on their treating Gender Identity Disorder as a “disease.” While the language and reasoning may be off, the ruling is a step in the right direction.

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