Human Rights

'Love ya later'

Josh Vallum is a 28-year-old member of the Latin Kings. He's an ex-con, having been convicted of felony false reporting of a crime, for which he was sentenced to serve 8 years. He was paroled in May of 2014.

On June 1 Josh told his father Bobby Jim that he had killed someone. Not only that, but the body was in a field behind his daddy's house in Rocky Creek, MS.

On June 2 the elder Vallum and sheriff's deputies started a search of the property and Deputy Sgt. Larry Harvard discovered a partially decomposed body hidden under some debris.

It so happened that a young girl had gone missing from nearby Theodore, AL. Police had been provided with a DNA sample of the missing teen and it was compared to DNA from the body that had been found.





Expectations are that democrats will attempt to resuscitate the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) this year. ENDA would provide nationwide protections for LGBT in employment, housing, education, credit, and public accommodations. Conservatives have consistently opposed those protections on the basis that they are "special rights" (and hence reserved only for normal, Christian Americans), that LGBT people would frivolously run amok litigiously if we and these protections, and that the protections are not necessary because discrimination is simply not taking pace.

This diary takes down that last point.



Hate Violence report

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has released its report on LGBT and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2014.

The good news is that overall anti-LGBT violence decreased by 32% from 2013. To a large extent that was due to sharp declines in New York City and Los Angeles...which may be as much related to decline in staffing programs as actual decline in incidents.

The bad news is that the number of fatal anti-LGBTQ hate crime reports increased by 11%...and the severity of the violence remained high. Especially impacted were transgender women, the LGBT and HIV-affected communities of color, and gay men.



ACLU challenges Anti-trans Michigan Identification Policy

 photo Emani Love_zpssjhnb0qf.jpgThe ACLU is representing six transgender Michigan residents who are suing the Michigan Secretary of State in federal court (Eastern District of Michigan) seeking to change a policy which almost precludes ("makes it impossible or unduly burdensome") changing gender on their driver's licenses.

The plaintiffs, represented by lawyers of the American Civil Liberties Union, claim the policy violates constitutional rights to privacy, speech, equal protection, interstate travel and "the right to independence in making important medical decisions."

Michigan requires that information listed on a driver's license or identification card issued by the state must match the information on a person's birth certificate. That requires transgender people to have their birth certificates amended before they can have their other identification changed.

The policy was first instituted by Secretary Ruth Johnson when she took office in 2011.

But two of the plaintiffs were born in Ohio and a third was born in Idaho...where amending birth certificates cannot be legally accomplished. Another plaintiff would be required to travel to South Carolina and obtain a court order. The two born in Michigan would have to complete gender confirmation surgery...even if hey have no current need for it or cannot afford it.



Gender Prison: A small but important detail

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee in Illinois unanimously passed HB 3552, which is an amendment to the Disposition of Remains Act which would allow transgender people to provide written instructions to the person charged with the responsibility for carrying out the decedent's funeral and disposition of remains to ensure that said transgender person's identity is respected.




Barnes and Noble sued for wrongful termination

 photo VictoriaRamirez2_zpss5qmmpor.jpgVictoria Ramirez put herself through college working for Barnes & Noble. She worked herself up the ladder from bookseller to merchandise manager at a store in Irvine, CA.

But when she began transitioning from male to female, she says that managers told her she would not be allowed to use a new name, would not be referred to by female pronouns and would not be allowed to use the women's restroom.

In other words, her managers vetoed her transition. She was told the store had a "neighborhood vibe" and that she should "think about the children." When she complained she was fired.



Transgender women sue to donate Plasma

Jasmine Kaiser has filed suit in King County, WA, Superior Court against CSL Plasma, Inc., a for profit company that pays donors for plasma as much as $200 a month because the company refused to let her donate last June because she is transgender.

Company representatives told Ms. Kaiser that she was banned for life because of her status.

They told her that they would inform other blood centers that she was on a lifetime deferral list.

--David Ward, attorney with Legal Voice

Ward, Gender Justice, and Isaac Ruiz of the law firm Keller Rohrback filed the complaint, arguing that denying Ms. Kaiser the right to donate violates the 2006 Washington state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.

Ward noted that transgender people face almost daily discrimination in everything from housing to health care.

Washington law specifically prohibits discrimination based on a person’s gender identity or expression, and it has since 2006. We feel the company’s treatment of Ms. Kaiser is a clear violation of the law. It is based on nothing more than bias against transgender people.

And it is time that this kind of discrimination be taken seriously and not say, 'Well, why would somebody sue about that?




GENDA rises again in New York

New York is one of only three states which protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not on the basis of gender identity. The other two are Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

Partially that is because too many people believe that the protections afforded to LGB people automagically extend to transgender people. But the law knows what we have have been enunciating for years: sexual orientation and gender are not the same.

Sexual orientation is about who you desire to go to bed with. Gender identity is about who we go to bed as. In other words, sex is between our legs. Gender is between our ears.

Well, once again the state of New York has a chance to remedy their deficiency. The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) is once again being brought forward. GENDA has passed the State Assembly seven times over the past decade, but has never passed in the Senate.



Bigots propose bounty on transgender people using public facilities

A group calling itself the Privacy for All coalition has filed what they call the Personal Privacy Protection Act for consideration as a ballot initiative in California. The PPPA is indeed all about the P (as in pee).

It would require that

a person shall use facilities in accordance with their biological sex in all government buildings

. Without using the word transgender, the PPPA seeks to remove the right of transgender people to actually identify as such by defining "biological sex" as "the biological condition of being male or female as determined at or near the time of birth or through medical examination."

As the mechanism to enforce this the Act would create a cicil claim against any individual who seeks to use facility in accordance with their gender identity rather than their biological well as any government entity that allows that to happen.

Such claim includes equitable relief and damages up to a maximum of three times the amount of actual damage but in no case less than $4,000, and attorney’s fees that may be determined by a court

Yes, you should read the word "bounty" there.



State House Republicans hijinx

Yesterday all three of the the republican members of the Colorado State Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted to defeat House Bill 1265, the Birth Certificate Modernization Act, a bill which would have brought the state into accord with federal policy for transgender people born in Colorado who wished to update their birth certificates.

It was our hope that at least one Republican senator on the committee would side with the six Republicans in the Colorado House of Representatives who voted in favor of House Bill 1265 because it upholds the Republican ideals of freedom, privacy, and limited government.

This much-needed legislation would simply have brought Colorado law in line with existing policies at the federal level, and in doing so would have protected the privacy of transgender Coloradans and protected them from discrimination. Every transgender Coloradan is someone’s son or daughter and deserves to be treated with respect. We will continue to work in the legislature to reduce the many barriers transgender Coloradans face every day.

--Dave Montez, One Colorado

The final vote was 3-2.




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