'Complicity Is Horrifying,' No Justice No Pride Action

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By No Justice No Pride. On October 28th, the Human Rights Campaign held its 21st annual “national dinner,” a lavish $400-per-plate fundraiser at the Washington, DC convention center. Celebrities, corporate CEO’s, bankers, and politicians cam together for a night of self-congratulatory celebration, raising money for an organization that for decades has worked to achieve its narrow vision of equality that ignores the lived realities of most of the trans and queer community. HRC’s national dinner has been one of the most glaring examples of the mainstream LGBT movement’s myopic attempt to align itself with big corporations, weapons manufacturers, out of touch politicians, predatory banks, and wealthy donors. This year is no different, just look at the dinner’s Presenting Sponsor: Wells Fargo.

Jeff Sessions Issues Directive Undercutting LGBT Protections

In issuing the memo, Jeff Sessions is injecting the department into a thicket of highly charged legal questions that have repeatedly reached the US supreme court. Photograph: Aaron Bernstein/Reuters

By Staff of The Guardian – The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, on Friday issued a sweeping directive that undercuts federal protections for LGBT people, telling agencies to do as much as possible to accommodate those who claim their religious freedoms are violated. In response, one LGBT rights advocate called the directive a “license to discriminate” and “an attack on the values of freedom and fairness that make this nation great”. Also on Friday, the Trump administration issued a new rule that substantially undermines women’s access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act. The Sessions directive, an attempt to deliver on Donald Trump’s pledge to evangelical supporters that he will protect religious liberties, effectively lifts a burden from religious objectors to prove their beliefs about marriage or other topics are sincerely held. A claim of a violation of religious freedom will now be enough to override many anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, women and others. The guidelines are so sweeping that experts on religious liberty called them a legal powder keg that could prompt wide-ranging lawsuits against the government. “This is putting the world on notice: you better take these claims seriously,” Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told the Associated Press. “This is a signal to the rest of these agencies to rethink the protections they have put in place on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

US Rejects UN Resolution Condemning Use Of Death Penalty To Target LGBTQ People

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By Zack Ford for Think Progress – The United Nations approved a resolution Friday condemning the use of the death penalty in a discriminatory fashion, including its use to punish “apostasy, blasphemy, adultery, and consensual same-sex relations.” But the United States joined a minority of states who voted against it. ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association, highlighted the outcome of the vote. Executive director Renato Sabbadini noted in a statement how atrocious some countries’ anti-gay laws are, saying, “It is unconscionable to think that there are hundreds of millions of people living in States where somebody may be executed simply because of whom they love.” Four countries punish homosexuality with death (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen), as do certain provinces in Nigeria and Somalia and ISIS-controlled territories in northern Iraq and northern Syria. The nations of Afghanistan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates also permit the death penalty, but rarely enforce it. There are far more countries where homosexuality is illegal but not punishable by death. Brunei Darussalam previously passed a death penalty law, but it has not been implemented. Uganda considered such a law just a few years ago.

The First Trans-Gay Migrant Caravan Arrives At US Border Seeking Asylum

Members of the Rainbow 16 pose in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico. (WNV / Diversidad sin Fronteras)

By Sarah Aziza for Waging Nonviolence – A caravan of 16 LGBTQI migrants, along with a handful of allies, set out from the Mexican border town of Nogales on Thursday morning, heading to the U.S. border. Upon arriving, the group disembarked, unfurled a rainbow banner declaring, in Spanish, that the “First Trans Gay Migrant Caravan” had arrived. Allies looked on as the migrants surrendered themselves to border officials, where they are currently being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The 16 members of the caravan met in Mexico, many of them arriving by foot after fleeing violence and discrimination in their home countries, including El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. For these asylum seekers, the broader societal issues of poverty and political instability were compounded by the “physical, psychological and verbal abuse” directed at trans and gay individuals. “We have to flee,” said Joseling, an intersex Nicaraguan woman and member of the “Rainbow 16.” All of them hoped that their arrival in Mexico might spell the end of their arduous journeys. Yet, for many, their nightmare continued. “Most of us were denied the right to refugee status [in Mexico,]” wrote the organizers in a pre-caravan announcement.

Times Square Protest Against Donald Trump’s Transgender Military Service Ban

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Tanya Walker, a trans woman and U.S. Army veteran, said she is “appalled” by Donald Trump’s proposed policy.

By Hayley Miller for The Huffington Post – New Yorkers came out in droves Wednesday to protest President Donald Trump’s seemingly sudden decision to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. Hundreds rallied in front of the U.S. Army Career Center in Times Square as trans activists and allies blasted the president’s discriminatory policy proposal, which he announced in a series of tweets early Wednesday morning. Tanya Walker, a trans woman and U.S. Army veteran, said she was “appalled” by Trump’s tweets, and led the crowd in chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” ″It is our duty to fight,” Walker told the crowd. “It is our duty to win. We must love each other and protect each other.” The ban would reverse an Obama-era policy that allowed transgender people to openly serve in the country’s armed forces. The policy would affect thousands of transgender people actively serving in the U.S. military. Trump announced the ban on Wednesday on Twitter and claimed he made the move after consulting with military experts, despite the Pentagon lifting the ban on transgender service members in 2016. Jacqueline Swannick, a trans woman and former Army medic, joined protesters demonstrating against the proposed ban on Wednesday.

President Trump Cruelly Threatens Trans Service Members With Rank Discrimination

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By Chase Strangio for ACLU – Apparently that extensive work over many years and across many areas of expertise was reversed in a matter of minutes — over Twitter. Indeed, contrary to Trump’s suggestion on Twitter, retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified in Congress just last week that inclusion of transgender individuals in the military promoted readiness and caused no disruption or cost. He explained that “[t]he military conducted a thorough research process on this issue and concluded that inclusive policy for transgender troops promotes readiness” and urged Congress “to respect the military’s judgment and not to breach the faith of service members who defend our freedoms.” Congress ultimately rejected a proposal to ban health coverage for transgender servicemembers and dependents. As Mullen noted, “Thousands of transgender Americans are currently serving in uniform and there is no reason to single out these brave men and women and deny them the medical care that they require.” This is not about cost. This is not about readiness or a strong military. Today’s announcement is about targeting, demonizing, and endangering a group of people who are risking their lives every day for our country.

Ten Myths About #NoJusticeNoPride

“No Justice No Pride” is only the latest group to raise concerns with Capital Pride.	
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By Siobhán McGuirk for Rewire – No Justice No Pride members have elevated an urgent, national conversation. And we’re not sorry. This month, the social justice group No Justice No Pride (NJNP) disrupted the Capital Pride parade in Washington, D.C. The protest attracted a lot of coverage, including some high-profile endorsementsof the collaborative’s demands, which focus on ending Pride’s general complicity with corporate and state institutions that criminalize, harm, and exploit queer and trans people. Just as the D.C. group, of which I am a member, was inspired by recent actions in Phoenix and Toronto, groups across the country have picked up the NJNP baton and are now protesting at the local level. The D.C. action has prompted some commentators to promote false claims about the history and present realities of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit (LGBTQIA2S) communities. This article corrects those myths. MYTH #1: Pride is a celebration, not a protest. Our community has no battles left to fight. FACT: Pride marches commemorate a rebellious insurgency against police brutality and exploitation at the hands of bar owners who colluded with the police. The 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City was led by trans women of color, and it sparked a movement.

Barriers To Changing Legal Names And Gender Markers In Prison

California's SB 310 could ease some of the challenges facing trans people in prison, such as a legal name change. (Photo: steinphoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

By Victoria Law for Truthout – During her 30 years in California’s prison system, Cookie Bivens has seen numerous trans women attempt to change their name and gender marker while incarcerated. Not a single woman ever succeeded. In California, people seeking to legally change their name or gender marker must file an application with the county court and pay a filing fee of nearly $500. (A person earning less than $2,127 per month can file for a fee waiver.) Once the paperwork is filed, the court sets a hearing date within six to 12 weeks. If the court receives no objections to the proposed name and gender marker change, the petition is granted. Incarcerated trans people face an extra hurdle: obtaining approval from the prison’s superintendent and other administrators. Without that approval, they cannot begin the court process.

How Our Protests Won Marriage Equality

Randy Burns, co-founder of Gay American Indians, hoists rainbow flags during the Pride parade in San Francisco on Sunday. (Jeff Chiu / AP Photo)

By Keegan O’Brien for Socialist Worker – GAY MARRIAGE leads to “the deterioration of marriage and the family” and “societal collapse.” Keeping same-sex couples from marrying isn’t discrimination, but simply enforcing “God’s idea.” These are just a few of the ugly statements by Vice President and religious bigot Mike Pence about marriage equality. And it doesn’t stop there. In 2015, Trump’s second-hand man signed a “religious freedom” law as governor of Indiana that gave permission to businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people. During his short time in office, Trump has already come close to implementing a similar executive order, but he was forced to back down after a series of humiliating defeats on other issues and pressure from LGBTQ organizations. With Trump and Pence controlling the White House and a Republican majority in Congress, it’s understandable that millions of LGBTQ people, their family, friends and supporters are fearful that rights won in recent years will be rolled back.

Gay Pride Parades Sound A Note Of Resistance

Randy Burns, co-founder of Gay American Indians, hoists rainbow flags during the Pride parade in San Francisco on Sunday. (Jeff Chiu / AP Photo)

By Olga R. Rodriguez, Rebecca Gibian and Colleen Long and Martha Irvine for Associated Press – SAN FRANCISCO — Tens of thousands of people waving rainbow flags lined streets for gay pride parades Sunday in coast-to-coast events that took both celebratory and political tones, the latter a reaction to what some see as new threats to gay rights in the Trump era. In San Francisco, revelers wearing rainbow tutus and boas held signs that read “No Ban, No Wall, Welcome Sisters and Brothers” while they danced to electronic music at a rally outside City Hall. Frank Reyes said he and his husband decided to march for the first time in many years because they felt a need to stand up for their rights. The couple joined the “resistance contingent,” which led the parade and included representatives from several activist organizations. “We have to be as visible as possible,” said Reyes, wearing a silver body suit and gray and purple headpiece decorated with rhinestones. “Things are changing quickly and we have to take a stand and be noticed,” Reyes’ husband, Paul Brady, added. “We want to let everybody know that we love each other, that we pay taxes and that we’re Americans, too.”

LGBTQ Activists Blockade DC Capital Pride Parade

LGBTQ protest DC 6-10-17 by John Zangas

By John Zangas for DC Media Group. Drawing spirit from the LGBTQ resistance roots of the Stonewall protests of the late 1960s, an ad-hoc group of activists under the banner of No Justice No Pride, staged a series of spectacular blockades of the 42nd D.C. Capital Pride parade Saturday afternoon. There were three separate blockades representing major concerns of the three groups that they say have resulted in marginalization by Capital Pride organizers and sponsors. Black Lives Matter LGBTQ persons protested the police sponsorship of Pride and LGBTQ war resistors protested the corporate military sponsors of Pride, while indigenous and immigrant LGBTQ persons protested bank sponsors for their oppressive prison, pipeline and anti-immigration funding.

Twitter Erupts With Trump Erasure Of LGBTQ People From Census

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By Graham Gremore for Queerty – The Trump Administration’s attempt to completely erase the LGBTQ community rages on. First, the White House deleted the LGBT rights page from its official website. Then it axed the White House Office of AIDS Policy. Then it announced massive cuts to the HIV/AIDS research budget. Now, it wants to eliminate LGBTQ citizens from the 2020 census. Every 10 years, the federal government conducts the U.S. Census to determine the number of people living in the country. They also record things like race and gender, employment and marital status, household income and education levels, and other information to help paint as accurate a picture as possible to then determine what resources it needs to spend where.

Large Anti-Trump Protests In Philadelphia At GOP Retreat

Trump protest in Philly at GOP retreat January 26, 2017 from Twitter

By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. On Thursday afternoon the protests grew filling the streets of downtown Philadelphia when Trump arrived at noon. People were protesting a host of extreme right wing issues that Trump and the GOP are pursuing including immigration, healthcare, women’s rights, the drug war and civil liberties, urged tolerance and love as an antidote to hate. Thousands of people filled city blocks around the Loews Hotel. People also protested his executive orders that seek to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone Pipeline as well as Trump’s threats to the environment.

Twenty-Six Arrested At Sessions Confirmation Hearing

Men dressed up as KKK members jumped out of their seats at Sen. Jeff Sessions’ Attorney General confirmation hearing. (ANDREW HARNIK/AP)

By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. A total of 26 protesters were arrested today in opposition to Jeff Sessions, including members of Refuse Fascism, the NAACP, Democracy Spring, Code Pink, and Howard University, according to Refuse Fascism. The group is calling for millions to pour into the streets of DC to prevent Trump and Pence from assuming power. The protests began even before confirmation hearings officially began. Two CODE PINK members dressed in KKK costumes stood up before the hearing was gaveled to express their support for Sessions. They praised “Jefferson Beauregard” and as they were taken from the room they yelled mockingly “you can’t arrest me, I am white!” and “white people own this government.” In the hall as they were being detained they explained that Sessions history on racism, immigration, LGBTQ rights and sexism made him inappropriate to serve as attorney general.

Gays Against Guns Activists Begin Campaign With ‘Die-In’ At BlackRock HQ

People take part in a demonstration by the group Gays Against Guns at BlackRock headquarters in the Manhattan. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

By Rupert Neate for The Guardian – Dozens of gay activists began a campaign of civil disobedience against gun companies and their investors on Monday by holding a “die-in” at the headquarters of BlackRock, one of the largest corporate shareholders of gun companies’ stock. Holding placards bearing photos of some of the victims of gun violence, protesters occupied the lobby of BlackRock’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan for almost an hour on Monday afternoon demanding that the investment firm divest from gun stocks.