Monday, January 31, 2011

Transnational: Passport Sex Marker Changes

State Department Issues Amended Policy Guidelines on Passport Sex Marker Changes (from TLDEF)

In response to concerns raised by TLDEF and other organizations and individuals, the U.S. State Department today published amended policy guidelines for changing the sex marker on passports.

Among other things, the new policy guidelines:

  • allow you to submit a doctor's letter from any licensed doctor, eliminating the burdensome physician specialty requirements;
  • allow you to submit a letter from a doctor who has either treated you for "gender-related care" or who has reviewed and evaluated your "gender-related medical history"; and
  • allow passport holders to change their passport's sex marker by presenting an updated birth certificate instead of a doctor's letter.
We've only described a few of the highlights of the new guidelines here, but there's much more. Please read our comprehensive web-based guide to the updated policy. We are also available to answer any questions that you may have. If you need additional assistance, please contact us.

We are pleased to bring you this news and will continue to update you on any additional changes to these State Department policies and procedures.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

By The Numbers: LGBT Stats in Early 2011

Crossposted information from Gideon Alper's incredible blog on gay legal issues.

Gay Marriage Facts

States where gay marriage is legal:

  • Massachusetts (2004)
  • Connecticut (2008)
  • Iowa (2009)
  • Vermont (2009)
  • New Hampshire (2010)
  • Washington, D.C. (2010) (not a state)

States That Recognize Out-of-State Gay Marriages:

  • New York
  • California (only if the marriage is from before Proposition 8 was passed)

Gay Marriage Support

Should gays an lesbians be allowed to marry?

  • 43% say yes.
  • 47% say no.
  • 10% are unsure.

Source: Pew Research Center.

Gays in the Military:

Should those who do not disclose their orientation be allowed to serve?

  • 83% support it.
  • 14% do not.
  • 3% unsure

Should those who do disclose their orientation be allowed to serve?

  • 17% say yes.
  • 21% say no.
  • 2% are unsure.

Source: The Polling Report.


The 2000 census did not count gay marriages directly, so the following are estimates based on how people reported their household. It counts households with 2 members of the same sex that are unrelated. 2010 census information on gay couples has not yet been compiled.

  • Total Number of Gay Couples: 594,391
  • Number of People in a Couple: 1.2 Million
  • State With the Most Couples: California (92,138)
  • State With the Least Couples: North Dakota (703)
  • Highest Concentration of Gay Couple (% of all couples): Washington, D.C. (1.29%)
  • Lowest Concentration of Gay Couples (% of all couples): North and South Dakota (.22%)

Gay people make up 1-4% of the population in most cities, but are more concentrated in metropolitan areas.

Most Same Sex Couples by City:

  1. New York, NY: 47,000
  2. Los Angeles, CA: 12,000
  3. Chicago, IL: 10,000

Source: 2000 Census.

Highest LGBT Concentration by Major Metropolitan City

  1. San Francisco, CA: 15.4%
  2. Seattle, WA: 12.9%
  3. Atlanta, GA: 12.8%

Source: 2000 Census.

Monday, January 24, 2011

LGBTs in the House! HUD Proposes Rule To Ensure Equal Access

While Equality NC can claim direct influence on the federal inclusive hospital visitation policy that went into effect, this new -- and welcome, and long overdue! -- proposed policy comes wholly from the current administration:

HUD No. 11-006
Brian Sullivan
(202) 708-0685
FOR RELEASE Thursday, January 20, 2011


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today proposed new regulations intended to ensure that its core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. View the proposed rule announced today.

“This is a fundamental issue of fairness,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “We have a responsibility to make certain that public programs are open to all Americans. With this proposed rule, we will make clear that a person’s eligibility for federal housing programs is, and should be, based on their need and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

HUD is seeking public comment on a number of proposed areas including:

  • Prohibiting lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis to determine a borrower’s eligibility for FHA-insured mortgage financing. FHA’s current regulations provide that a mortgage lender’s determination of the adequacy of a borrower’s income “shall be made in a uniform manner without regard to” specified prohibited grounds. The proposed rule would add actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity to the prohibited grounds to ensure FHA-approved lenders do not deny or otherwise alter the terms of mortgages on the basis of irrelevant criteria.
  • Clarifying that all otherwise eligible families, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, have the opportunity to participate in HUD programs. In the majority of HUD’s rental and homeownership programs the term “family” already has a broad scope, and includes a single person and families with or without children. HUD’s proposed rule clarifies that families, otherwise eligible for HUD programs, may not be excluded because one or more members of the family may be an LGBT individual, have an LGBT relationship, or be perceived to be such an individual or in such relationship.
  • Prohibiting owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing, or housing whose financing is insured by HUD, from inquiring about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant for, or occupant of, the dwelling, whether renter- or owner-occupied. HUD is proposing to institute this policy in its rental assistance and homeownership programs, which include the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance programs, community development programs, and public and assisted housing programs.

Other actions:

HUD is conducting the first-ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing. Every ten years, HUD does a study of the impact of housing discrimination on the basis of race and color. HUD undertook this important research in 1977, 1989 and 2000 and is currently undertaking this study again. It is believed that LGBT individuals and families may remain silent because in many local jurisdictions, they may have little or no legal recourse. While there are no national assessments of LGBT housing discrimination, there are state and local studies that have shown evidence of this sort of bias. For example, a 2007 report by Michigan’s Fair Housing Centers found that nearly 30 percent of same-sex couples were treated differently when attempting to buy or rent a home.

HUD currently requires its recipients of discretionary funds to comply with local and state non-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation or gender identity. In July, the Department issued new guidance that treats discrimination based on gender nonconformity or sex stereotyping as sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, and instructs HUD staff to inform individuals filing complaints about state and local agencies that have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in rental, sales and lending on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and familial status. Approximately 20 states, and the District of Columbia, and more than 150 cities, towns and counties across the nation have additional protections that specifically prohibit such discrimination against LGBT individuals. Under guidance announced last year, HUD will, as appropriate, retain its jurisdiction over complaints filed by LGBT individuals or families but also jointly investigate or refer matters to those state, district and local governments with other legal protections.

View the proposed rule announced today.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Healthcarelessness for Transfolks

The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released the National Transgender Discrimination Survey: Report on Health and Health Care.

Not surprisingly, transfolks and gender non-conforming people face rampant discrimination in health care settings, are regularly denied needed care, and experience a range of health risks because they are transgender or gender non-conforming, according to this report of over 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming people.

  • Survey participants reported very high levels of postponing medical care when sick or injured due to discrimination (28%) or inability to afford it (48%);
  • Respondents faced significant hurdles to accessing health care, including:
    • Refusal of care: 19% of our sample reported being refused care due to their transgender or gender non-conforming status, with even higher numbers among people of color in the survey;
    • Harassment and violence in medical settings: 28% of respondents were subjected to harassment in medical settings and 2% were victims of violence in doctor’s offices;
    • Lack of provider knowledge: 50% of the sample reported having to teach their medical providers about transgender care;
  • Despite the barriers, the majority of survey participants have accessed some form of transition-related medical care; the majority reported wanting to have surgery but have not had any surgeries yet;
  • If medical providers were aware of the patient’s transgender status, the likelihood of that person experiencing discrimination increased;
  • Respondents reported over four times the national average of HIV infection, 2.64% in our sample compared to .6% in the general population, with rates for transgender women at 3.76%, and with those who are unemployed (4.67%) or who have engaged in sex work (15.32%) even higher;
  • Over a quarter of the respondents misused drugs or alcohol specifically to cope with the discrimination they faced due to their gender identity or expression;
  • A staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6% of the general population, with unemployment, low income, and sexual and physical assault raising the risk factors significantly.
  • Anti-transgender bias in the medical profession and U.S. health care system has catastrophic consequences for transgender and gender non-conforming people. This study is a call to action for the medical profession;
    • The medical establishment must fully integrate transgender-sensitive care into its professional standards, and this must be part of a broader commitment to cultural competency around race, class, and age;
    • Doctors and other health care providers who harass, assault, or discriminate against transgender and gender non-conforming patients should be disciplined and held accountable according to the standards of their professions.
  • Public and private insurance systems must cover transgender-related care; it is urgently needed and is essential to basic health care for transgender people.
  • Ending violence against transgender people must be a public health priority, because of the direct and indirect negative effect it has on both victims and on the health care system that must treat them.
  • Medical providers and policy makers should never base equal and respectful treatment and the attainment of government-issued identity documents on:
    • Whether an individual has obtained surgery, given that surgeries are financially inaccessible for large majorities of transgender people because they are rarely covered by either public or private insurance;
    • Whether an individual is able to afford or attain proof of citizenship or legal residency.

      Rates of HIV infection, attempted suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and smoking among transgender and gender non-conforming people speak to the overwhelming need for:
      • Transgender-sensitive health education, health care, and recovery programs;
      • Transgender-specific prevention programs.
    • Additional data about the health outcomes of transgender and gender non-conforming people is urgently needed;
      • Health studies and other surveys need to include transgender as a demographic category;
      • Information about health risks, outcomes and needs must be sought specifically about transgender populations;
      • Transgender people should not be put in categories such as “men who have sex with men” (MSM) as transgender women consistently are and transgender men sometimes are. Separate categories should be created for transgender women and transgender men so HIV rates and other sexual health issues can be accurately tracked and researched.

Monday, January 17, 2011

End Segre(gay)tion!

In honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and MLK Day, it's important to note that civil rights struggles, whether for racial equality or LGBT equality, are all basically the same. MLK himself had a trusted openly gay advisor, Bayard Rustin, who is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States.

Here are some noted leaders of the racial civil rights movement voicing their support for the LGBT civil rights movement.

(Thanks to SoulForce, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Lambda Defense and Education Fund, and Freedom To Marry for information and source references.)

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King was the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a leader in the civil rights movement.

Coretta Scott King
  • "I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice... But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King, Jr., said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere' ... I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."1
  • "Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing, and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."2
  • "We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny... I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be," she said, quoting from her husband. "I've always felt that homophobic attitudes and policies were unjust and unworthy of a free society and must be opposed by all Americans who believe in democracy."3
  • "Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Georgia, and St. Augustine, Florida, and many other campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement. Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions."4
  • "We have a lot of work to do in our common struggle against bigotry and discrimination. I say 'common struggle,' because I believe very strongly that all forms of bigotry & discrimination are equally wrong and should be opposed by right-thinking Americans everywhere. Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination."5
  • "We have to launch a campaign against homophobia in the black community."6
  • "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group."7

1 Coretta Scott King, 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Defense and Education Fund, March 31, 1998

2 Coretta Scott King, speech at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, USA Today, March 24, 2004

3 Coretta Scott King, 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Defense and Education Fund, quoted in the Chicago Sun Times, April 1, 1998

4 Coretta Scott King, 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Defense and Education Fund, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, April 1, 1998

5 Coretta Scott King, Opening Plenary Session, 13th annual Creating Change conference of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Atlanta, Georgia, November 9, 2000

6 Coretta Scott King, Reuters, June 8, 2001

7 Coretta Scott King, a speech at the Palmer Hilton Hotel, quoted in the Chicago Defender, April 1, 1998

Julian Bond

Since 1998, Julian Bond has served as Chairman of the Board of the NAACP.

Julian Bond
  • "That's why when I am asked, 'Are gay rights civil rights?' my answer is always, 'Of course they are.'"
  • "Rights for gays and lesbians are not 'special rights' in any way. It isn't "special" to be free from discrimination -- that's an ordinary, universal entitlement of citizenship."
  • "No parallels between movements for rights is exact. African-Americans are the only Americans who were enslaved for more than two centuries, and people of color carry the badge of who we are on our faces. But we are far from the only people suffering discrimination -- sadly, so do many others. They deserve the law's protection and they deserve civil rights too. Sexual disposition parallels race -- I was born black and I had no choice. I couldn't and wouldn't change if I could. Like race, our sexuality isn't a preference -- it is immutable, unchangeable, and the Constitution protects us against prejudices based on immutable differences."

Julian Bond speaking at the 2008 Creating Change Conference. Bond was a founding member of SNCC in 1960. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, he helped organize a sit-in movement at Atlanta University.

Source: Julian Bond's Creating Change 2008 Plenary Speech YouTube video, February 7, 2008. Also available from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force as a pdf.

Mildred Loving

Mildred Loving, along with her husband, Richard, were plaintiffs in the historic Supreme Court decision "Loving v. Virginia" which overturned state laws preventing two persons of different races from getting married.

Mildred Loving
  • "Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the 'wrong kind of person' for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.
  • I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."

Source: Loving for All by Mildred Loving, June 12, 2007 (the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia). Available from Freedom to Marry as a pdf.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sports Outage

Last week, sports columnist Steve Buckley came out of the closet. Given the amount of homophobia in the sports industry and the relative shortage of openly LGBT sports figures, having a noted columnist come clean about his gay sexual orientation is still a big deal (though fortunately it's becoming progressively less and less of a big deal).

Buckley's article in the Boston Herald, "Welcome to My coming Out Party," has been well received. Buckley says his mother told him to write the piece seven years ago, but when she died mere months later, he lost his nerve. “I’ve put this off long enough,” he said. “For too many years I’ve been on the sidelines of Boston’s gay community … figuratively and literally, as I feel I would have had a pretty good career in the (gay) Beantown Softball League.”

Every bit of visibility is good. Here are some of the most prominent LGBT names associated with various sports:
  • Martina Navratilova, tennis player, came out in 1981
  • Greg Louganis, swimmer, came out as gay and HIV+ in 1994
  • Mike Penner, sports columnist, came out as trans in 2007
  • John Amaechi, NBA player, came out in 2007
  • Gareth Thomas, rugby player, came out in 2009
  • Johnny Weir, figure skater, came out in 2011
Additionally, several retired NFL and MLB players have also come out of the closet, including David Kopay, Roy Simmons, Esera Tuaolo, Glenn Burke and Billy Bean.

Wikipedia has a "List of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender sportspeople," which currently includes these atheletes:




















Monday, January 10, 2011

LGBT Horror and Heroism in Arizona

Daniel Hernandez is shown with Giffords in this image from his Facebook page.
Everyone has heard of the attempted assassination this past Saturday of democratic Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who survived though is seriously injured.

Not everyone necessarily knows about the LGBT connections to this story, though.

Rep. Giffords was a strong LGBT-positive official. The Human Rights Campaign gave Giffords an 81 percent pro-LGBT rating on its congressional scorecard for the 110th Congress. She supported repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and supports a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

HRC said, “We are shocked and saddened by the events involving Congresswoman Giffords and our hearts go out to her and the other victims of this awful tragedy. Gabby Giffords is a champion for LGBT equality and a principled leader for Arizona.”

Here's her support record:


Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1913):


Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act Motion to Recommit (H.R. 1913):


Murphy Amendment to National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5136):


Souder Amendment to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3293):


Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017) (Co-Sponsorship):


Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act (H.R. 2625) (Co-Sponsorship):


Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 3567) (Co-Sponsorship):


Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 1024) (Co-Sponsorship):


Early Treatment for HIV Act (H.R. 1616) (Co-Sponsorship):

The second gay connection is Daniel Hernandez Jr., a 20-year-old University of Arizona student who’d been working as an intern for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (for five days), who is credited with saving her life after she was shot on Saturday.

HE is openly gay and serves as a Commissioner on the Tucson Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues.

According to the Arizona Republic, Hernandez was standing about 30 feet from Giffords during the “Congress on Your Corner” event outside a Safeway store near Tucson. When the gunshots began, Hernandez ran toward them and began checking the pulses of people who’d been hit. When Hernandez got to Giffords, he used his hand to apply pressure to the entry wound on her forehead. He pulled her into his lap and held her upright so she wouldn’t choke on her blood.

Hernandez used his hand to apply pressure to the wound until someone brought clean smocks from the meat department of the grocery store. He stayed with Giffords until paramedics arrived, then climbed into an ambulance with her.

Official records of events tend to downplay sexual orientation, but even when done for the best of reasons (e.g., to protect someone's privacy or because it shouldn't matter) it creates a kind of historical closet. It's important for everyone to be aware of how gay people and allies who support equality for gay folk are involved in the ordinary and tragic events of life.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 Is So Gay!

Every year, there are a variety of events, activities, and observances that are relevant to the LGBT community. It's difficult to get a comprehensive list, but here is a good start on upcoming days of observance to be aware of.

Truly, 2011 is so gay. As is every year!

Please feel free to leave a comment on other LGBT day or observance/holidays (holigays :) ) that you think should be added.



  • National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day - Feb 7
  • Feb 15 - TENTATIVE SAVE THE DATE! Equality NC Day Of Action in Raleigh (lobby day)


  • National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day - Mar 10


  • TransAction Day - Apr 8 in 2010
  • Day of Silence - Apr 16


  • National Foster Care Month - May
  • The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) - May 17
  • Harvey Milk Day - May 22


  • LGBT Pride Month - Jun
  • Gay Days at Walt Disney World: the first week in Jun
  • National HIV/AIDS Testing Day - Jun 27
  • Stonewall Anniversary - Jun 30




  • Celebrate Bisexuality Day - Sep 23
  • National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day - Sep 27
  • NC Pride - around last weekend in Sep


  • GLBT History Month - Oct
  • National Coming Out Day - Oct 11
  • Ally Week - around Oct 18-22
  • National Adoption Awareness Month - Nov
  • Equality NC Equality Conference & Gala - mid Nov (date, location pending)
  • National Adoption Day is celebrated the Saturday before Thanksgiving
  • National Transgender Day of Remembrance - Nov 20
  • World AIDS Day - Dec 1