Category Archives: Politics

Transgender political issues.

February 2017 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI


We have a special guest to kick our show off – Christine Burns will be joining us from the UK to discuss her decades-long work for transgender rights, as well as her work as a transgender historian. Ms Burns was instrumental in using the early internet for transgender advocacy, worked with the early political group Press for Change for transgender rights, and also helped craft the UK’s Gender Recognition Act of 2004 – for which she was awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.)

We have two other special guests for the second half of our show – Grace Cox-Johnson and Johnalita White-Menscher will be joining us to talk about the first year of Transfinity KC, Kansas City’s transgender and allies chorus. We will discuss the performances of the chorus in its first year, and will talk tell us the plans for the upcoming year, as well as information on how you can join and make your voice heard.

As usual, we will share with you the transgender news and the community calendar update. We do hope you will be able to join us this Saturday, February 25 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 FM KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

Shameless: Conservatives Panic Over “Transgender Hillbillies”

Transwomens Land Army
…and lesbian farmers, of course.

Really, the jokes just write themselves, as we learn from Media Matters of conservative angst over the The Iowa LGBT Rural Summit, which was held on August 18. The purpose of the summit is to elevate voices in rural LGBT communities and share information for politics, programs, and services to protect and strengthen them. This innovative program was quickly viewed as a plot to infiltrate the heartlands with “radical LGBT propaganda,” for evil purposes of course. For example, according to the Washington Free Beacon,

“The all-day summit will teach lesbian and transgender hillbillies how to get subsidies from the government like rural housing loans and “community facility grants.” Bullying will also be discussed.”

Noted transphobe, homophobe…shoot, is there anyone this guy likes?…Rush Limbaugh weighed in on this issue, braying on his August 17th show:

Have you heard the latest Democrat scam? Have you heard about the Agriculture Department’s financial grants to lesbian farmers? You think I’m making this up?


I’m like you; I never before in my life knew that lesbians wanted to be farmers. I never knew that lesbians wanted to get behind the horse and the plow and start burrowing[sic]. I never knew it. But apparently enough money can make make it happen, and the objective here is to attack — they’re already attacking suburbs, and that has been made perfectly clear by what happened in Milwaukee. And they’re going after every geographic region that is known to be largely conservative. They never stop, folks. They are constantly on the march.

While most of the criticism in the right-wing media focuses on lesbians, there is plenty of fear and loathing over the slow realization that transgender people not only exist, but yes, sometimes we do actually farm.

June 2016 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

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Hello everyone! We have two great topics this month on Trans Talk. First, we will be talking with attorney Larry Altman about the current status of North Carolina’s anti-transgender legislation, and how the upcoming election could impact transgender rights. Next, we will have a discussion with Nyla, Kelly, and Freddie, three transgender persons of color who are joining us to explain the specific challenges faced by their community, and to educate us on how we can be better allies to this community which is at such high risk.

Fiona Nowling will be co-hosting today’s program, and she will give us the community calendar update, while I will provide my view of some of the LGBT news this week. I do hope you will be able to join us this Saturday, June 25 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 FM KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

Positive International Transgender News You Missed This Week

Geraldine Roman 1

It seems that nearly every item of transgender news that landed in my brain this week concerns toilets, toilets, and still more toilets. And of course that’s important news, and an issue which will eventually impact every transgender person in the United States. In my last “Trans Talk” program on 90.1 FM KKFI I spent perhaps 5 minutes of my news update focused upon the toilet issue, so I do recognize its importance. But I’m also uncertain what my adding another article to be shared on the subject will do to add to the debate. I have no original research to present upon the subject, and while some may cry “every article creates awareness!”, when even people in the transgender community are tired of hearing about toilet news…how interested can the cisgender community be in the subject at this juncture?

Instead I want to share a couple of positive transgender news stories from the international scene which you may have missed this week. Note my post title implies that you did in fact miss this news, which is rather presumptuous, but that’s what gets posts shared – a bold, presumptuous title. I’ve also led this article with a photo of an attractive transgender woman, which also encourages folks to click on links to this article. Because that’s what blogs do, right? At least I don’t have, and never will have advertisements on Transas City. It’s frustrating to see so many on Facebook and other social media share clickbait sites with transgender “news” which is culled from BBC and other actual news sources, then loaded up with 50 advertisements per page. The ironic thing is the person making those pages is probably some sweatshop employee in China who couldn’t give a toss about transgender rights in any way – but they do know how to make a flashy title and put a teasing graphic to get clicks – and ad revenue. For all you know the most heavily-distributed transgender clickbait “news” is funding a group of skinheads sitting around a Starbucks, sipping $5 Frappuchinos while they plan their next “pride” rally.

I’m sometimes asked why we should care about international transgender news at all, and that question always baffles me. Normally I look at the questioner with the same stare our cat gives a new variety of food – he knows what it is, but he simply can’t understand why he’s even being presented with it. There are a million possible reasons, but the primary one is that sometimes I feel as if I can close my eyes and feel a giant transgender family which exceeds the bounds of Kansas City, the Midwest, this nation, and all political boundaries. I’ve traveled extensively in both this country and the world as a transgender woman, and everywhere I go I carry with me this sense of family. Sure, sometimes members of your family really piss you off – family doesn’t imply universal love and acceptance (a fact which ever-so-many of my transgender siblings have experienced first-hand!) – but a family nonetheless. I believe I once described it as a Fellini version of The Waltons, but there you go.

Geraldine Roman 3

With no further self-editorializing, I present to you Ms. Geraldine Roman, the first openly transgender politician elected to the Parliament in the Philippines. Not only that, according to the BBC she is also the only out LGBT politician in the heavily conservative and Catholic nation. While on the campaign trail Ms. Roman reflected upon one of her secrets to success in her election and life – the support of her parents.

During the campaign trail Ms Roman shared that her family always remained supportive of her, and her father advised her to “remain confident” despite being bullied for her gender identity in school.

“That somebody of my condition is going to enter congress for the first time is a statement that even transgender people can serve our country and should not be discriminated against,” Ms Roman told the AFP news agency during her campaign.

Ms. Roman left home to study in Spain, where she focused on language studies, learning 5 languages and earning two Masters degrees. She later worked as an editor at a Spanish news agency, and underwent her gender transition two decades ago. In 2012, she returned home to repay the love her parents had shown her, taking care of them in their old age while promising to continue their political legacy (her mother was a former Parliament member, and in fact the seat held by Ms. Roman was once held by her mother).

Geraldine Roman 2

After winning 62% of the popular vote in her native Bataan, Ms. Roman promised to not be a one-issue candidate, emphasizing that she intends to be open and vocal regarding her gender identity.

“I’m elated; very, very happy. I’m also excited to work. I realize that the burden is bigger because the stereotype of [LGBT] people … is we are frivolous, that we have nothing substantial to say, so I have to prove them wrong…”

For one thing, in 2001 a law was passed making it impossible for transgender Filipinos to change their name and gender. Ms. Roman has vowed to campaign to lift those restrictions, and to push for an anti-discrimination bill that ensures equal treatment in the workplace, schools, commercial establishments and government offices.

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The second transgender politician I want to highlight did not win so lofty a seat as Parliament, but nonetheless she won an important seat as the UK Labour Party’s first openly transgender councilor, and the only current elected Labour transgender politician in the UK. Last week Anwen Dawn Muston won the city of Wolverhampton’s East Park ward with 1,022 votes, running a campaign focused on local issues for her constituents. While other political parties in the UK have elected transgender councilors (the UK being somewhat more progressive than other countries in that regard), Ms Muston is the first Labour politician to win.

Anwen Muston 2

According to her campaign site, Ms. Muston is an Army veteran and has been continuously involved in civic projects and charity work since her retirement. Her focus is on community services, helping elderly residents of her city, and campaigning against anti-social behavior and promoting community safety.

Ms. Roman and Ms. Muston, I salute both of you. Well done!

Happy Indiana Transphobe Touts Toilet Bill with $5,000 Fine

Source: Indiana Lawmaker Introduces ‘Pay To Pee’ Bill For Transgender People | Indiana Talks

I guess Indiana must have an inferiority complex of some sort. After all, what is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “Indiana?” The Indianapolis 500 race? Jim Nabors? Sorghum?

Obviously feeling as if his state is even further in the shadow of such states as North Carolina and Mississippi, Republican State Senator Jim Tomes (second from the left in the photograph above) wants Indiana to be stuck in our memories, like a fly in toffee, for having the strictest anti-transgender toilet terror bill on the books. Tomes SB 35, which he calls “a simple bill,” would accomplish two things. First, it makes it illegal for any transgender student to ever use a bathroom, locker room, or changing facility congruent with their gender identity. Students would be classified by the Sorting Hat of genitals and chromosomes. And Indiana’s public schools would be blatantly in violation of Title IX, but hey…

Much more scarily, however, the bill also states that any transgender person who uses a public sex-specific restroom, locker room, or shower room that matches their gender identity has committed a “single sex public facility trespass,” which it deems a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor is the highest non-felony charge in Indiana, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 dollars.

Displaying a pair of “brass ones” the size of two Jovian moon, Tomes insists his legislation doesn’t target transgender people, stating somewhat disjointedly “Shouldn’t we also ask about…what about the other sector of society of people that who have all through the decades women been using women’s restrooms and men been using men’s restrooms and kind of like that and kind of expect that level of privacy?”

Strong words. Strong, confusing, and hateful words.

Georgia Governor Vetoes Anti-LGBT Bill, and a North Carolina Update

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In news today, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has vetoed the anti-LGBT rights bill passed by the Georgia legislature. The bill, known as House Bill 757, would have exempted anyone claiming to be a “faith-based organization” from complying with any hiring, state labor practice, public service, or other laws which cover those who serve the public. In other words, it would allow groups to discriminate against an LGBT person based upon any allegation that it violates their organized “religious belief.”

The reason for the veto was money, pure and simple – an unprecedented number of companies, sports teams, and professional organizations came out against this bill, threatening to take their business elsewhere, or even move their entire company out of state. Sources close to the Governor are alleging (with no confirmation, mind you), that the most worrisome threat was that from the National Football League, which threatened to disallow Atlanta from hosting a future Super Bowl should the law be passed (one wishes that they had said the same about North Carolina’s bill, but then that bill was ram-rodded through their legislature in an unprecedented 3 hours from start to finish).

Republicans have threatened a special session to over-ride the Governor’s veto, and there is no information at this time as to how serious or possible such an attempt may be.

In related news, two transgender men, a lesbian woman, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, and Equality North Carolina have filed a lawsuit in Federal Court, seeking to overturn the state’s disastrous anti-transgender legislation which was passed last Thursday. In response to the lawsuit, North Carolina Republicans are doubling down, releasing a “frequently asked questions” about the new law which has been proven to be deceptive and misleading – a scary thing, coming from the Governor’s office – claiming that the entire purpose of the law was to prevent men from using women’s facilities.

This lawsuit has significant potential to impact the transgender community nationwide. It is very likely that unless one side relents, the case will reach the United States Supreme Court, where at this time it is uncertain whether it would be upheld or thrown out – and on what possible grounds. The Supreme Court has never ruled on the subject matter of whether transgender discrimination is sex discrimination, and transgender-rights observers are nervous about what sort of precedent could be set should a “conservative flu” be contracted by the Court on this issue.

There are some nail-biting times ahead, folks.

March 2016 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

KKFI

Hello everyone! On Trans Talk this month the topic is legislative assaults upon the transgender community, and we’re going to focusing on two subjects in particular. First we will talk with someone fighting back against transgender discrimination – Stephanie Mott, who is the Executive Director of the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, or KSTEP. She is courageously suing the state of Kansas for the right to change the gender marker on her birth certificate, and will be discussing her effort and how Kansas put itself in the position of denying valid records changes to transgender persons.

Next we will discuss the recent legislative efforts in Kansas to pass additional anti-transgender legislation, and we will compare these efforts with activities in other states as well. Sandra Meade will be our guest for that segment, and frequent listeners of this program will remember that not only is Sandra the former chair of Equality Kansas, she was the former hostess of this very show.

I will also give a breakdown of some of the LGBT news this week, and we will finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join me this Saturday, March 26 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

North Carolina Enshrines Transgender Toilet Terror Bill Into Law

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Well, they’ve done it.

In response to the city of Charlotte passing an ordinance protecting LGBT rights, Republicans in the North Carolina legislature have ram-rodded a comprehensive anti-LGBT rights bill through to the governor’s office, where it was signed with incredible speed not shown towards any other legislative measure in that state in recent history. A mere three hours of debate and 20 minutes of public comment were allowed before the bill was passed, and Governor Pat McCrory – who I’ve reported on before due to his many anti-transgender statements regarding children – signed it without any hesitation. Claiming it was to “keep our children safe.”

Why did this happen? One primary, driving issue: Republican lawmakers were horrified that transgender women might be using the same toilet as cisgender women.

That’s it. The economy, crime, jobs, civil rights, the environment – all of these issues paled to the Republicans, compared to the thought that a transgender person might need to pee in a place where they can do so without fear of harassment or assault. While widely advertised as a ban to protect kids in schools, the hateful piece of legislation actually extends to “all public facilities” as defined in the state, with no age range mentioned. Furthermore, the hateful piece of legislation also mandates that your sex is defined solely by what is listed on your birth certificate.

Mercifully, North Carolina is one of few states which will allow transgender persons to change their birth certificates – provided you have surgery. At least until Republicans figure out that we “decepticons,” as one North Carolina Republican lawmaker referred to us, can change our birth certificates. Most likely, they’ll use the same excuse used by New Jersey Republican governor Christie, who claimed he rejected a bill allowing transgender persons to change their gender marker on their birth certificate due to “security concerns.”

You can read the full text of the bill at this link, and information for this article came from this source as well: North Carolina Governor To Sign Anti-LGBT Law Into Effect

The Subtle Threat of “Religious Exemptions” – Barber Refuses to Cut Transgender Army Veteran’s Hair

Kendall Oliver identifies as mostly male and wears masculine clothing. But the barber declined to serve Oliver, saying he doesn’t do women’s haircuts.

Source: Barber refuses to cut transgender Army veteran’s hair, citing religious views – The Washington Post

Across this nation, many conservatives pushing for laws to discriminate against LGBT persons are mostly focused on events and products related to weddings. Such as the notorious “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” case, where not only did the owners refuse to cater for a lesbian couple, but they were fined $135,000 for repeatedly deriding the couple in the media. But few people truly understand just how many nutty prohibitions exist in religious books (such as the Bible chapter Deuteronomy) – and moreover, how a person who hates LGBT people can simply point to one of many explicit or implied prohibitions in virtually any religious text to justify their discrimination.

What’s more, there is literally no legal standard preventing someone from simply inventing a belief or entire belief system of their own, provided they claim to honestly hold it. This weekend, for example, I became an ordained Minister in the Universal Life Church – something which takes no more than answering a couple of questions and clicking “Get Ordained Now.” And yet, I now can legally perform weddings and officiate at funerals in Kansas and Missouri. Given that sort of legal backing, it’s a small stretch for me to say “I refuse to serve (someone) because it offends my religious beliefs.” It really is just that easy, folks.

As a result, these so-called “religious freedom protections” are no less than ways in which to roll back civil rights for virtually anyone who is hated by anyone else. What if the barber in this case which is highlighted refused to serve African-American customers? Or Jewish ones? Or Armenians? Every single time a person backs or supports the “right” of a public business to discriminate against someone for being transgender, they also are supporting the “right” of segregation, injustice, and ghettoization. And they are supporting the right to perpetuate and spread ignorance, fear, and hate.

Discriminating against a transgender person at a place of business is fundamentally no different than discriminating against them for being black – people do not choose their gender, nor do they choose their race. And before there is a rebuttal that the Bible does not preach discrimination against other races, one has to look no further than the works of pro-slavery supporters in the 1800’s. Josiah Priest, for example, published a work in 1852 wherein African Americans were equated with “the race of Ham,” and the numerous instances of slavery and human bondage employed by the Israelites was called out as an example to follow.

And here’s something that those backing the “religious rights” of business owners are not getting. When a person operates a business in the public eye, they are utilizing shared services, incentives, and protections granted to the community as a whole in order to foster business. Deductions for business expenses, property tax incentives, tax-increment financing, special business development loans and grants, zoning protections, enhanced police and fire protection, assignment of inspectors for health and safety – businesses enjoy a wealth of considerations, incentives, or protections to help them thrive. And as a result of these considerations, businesses have a duty to serve and provide for the public in general.

If a business does not want to serve the public in general, then they need to remove themselves from the public arena, and work out of their home, place of worship, or somewhere else – and not take money and protections intended for the public as a whole.

In this case which was highlighted in the linked article, a transgender man couldn’t get a haircut at one shop. Some may argue “big deal, it’s not the end of the world. Go down the street to another barber.”

Sure. And I suppose it’s better at the back of the bus too, isn’t it?

Three Republican Fails of the Week (2016-02-08)

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Hatred of transgender persons is not an explicit plank in the Republican Party platform (I checked), but it seems to be as implicit as the fact that these people live and breathe. Very recently there have been three major political fails by Republicans, unfortunately with transgender persons being the ones who bear the brunt of the failures.

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Let’s begin with the classic Legislative Fail, from the state of Indiana, where an LGBT civil rights bill has died in the Indiana senate. This death has had Democrats crying foul, as the bill was a compromise bill which threw transgender people under the bus like so much political road salt with the promise that then and only then, would it be acceptable to Republicans. The bill also contained sweeping exemptions for any situation or location even remotely considered to be religious, although mercifully the words “all of creation (praise be to God!)” were omitted from the bill.

(Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long)…told reporters the bill as written could not pass because it did not have enough support from Republican lawmakers, who hold the majority in both houses of the legislature, so there was no point in debating it. He promised that lawmakers would take another pass at civil rights legislation for LGBT citizens next year.

While groups like the Human Rights Campaign condemned the bill as “dangerous” and “shameful” because of its limited scope and religious exemptions, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Gov. Mike Pence, both Republicans, reportedly said it went too far in granting LGBT protections. Long said that also factored into his decision to kill the bill. He blamed both supporters and opponents equally for their unwillingness to compromise.

It also has led to rumors that the Human Rights Campaign initially gave backing to the compromise legislation which omitted transgender rights, although I cannot find hard evidence of that.

MaineLePage

Next we have the Failure of Morality and Ethics, for which we can turn to known anti-transgender hobgoblin Paul LePage. LePage, the Republican governor of Maine, is someone we’ve highlighted before when he tried to weigh in legally on where a Virginia transgender boy peed (the esteemed gentleman being somehow unaware of the fact that he does not hold a legal position in that other state, nor any actual compelling interest in where any boy pees anywhere, unless it’s on his prized deadly nightshade garden at his estate…) LePage, possibly inspired by the vision of Pat Buchanan in a slice of Wonder Bread, has stopped the Maine Department of Education and Human Rights Commission from issuing legally binding rules that would guarantee transgender students equal access. Rather, schools statewide will be encouraged to abide by “guidelines” about how to treat transgender students, issued by the Human Rights Commission last month, but will not face penalties for failing to comply with these suggestions.

This flies in the face of a ruling by the Maine Supreme Court in the case of Nicole Maines, a transgender student who was denied access to the girls’ bathroom (after years of using that facility without incident) at her elementary school. Students of course can pursue a Title IX Federal claim…unless of course a Republican is elected President just 9 short months from now. Unfortunately, the response by Democrats has been limited greatly, due to their minority position in the seats of power of that state.

“The governor is violating the law by refusing to let the rule-making go forward,” Rep. Matthea Daughtry, a Democrat representing Brunswick, told the AP. “He’s putting our students at risk.”

SouthDakotaSenatorDavidOmdahl
Finally, we come to a Failure by Simply Being Stupid or Evil. The best example of this in action is
South Dakota state senator David Omdahl of Sioux Falls. At a hearing over pending legislation to ban transgender persons from using bathrooms which correspond to their gender identity, the Republican senator made the audience audibly gasp, when he said:

“This is definitely a good bill. What’s this about?” he asked rhetorically. “This is about protecting our children. I’m sorry if you’re so twisted you don’t know who you are.”

That’s when the audience gasped and was told to quiet down.

“I’m telling you right now it’s about protecting the kids,” Omdahl went on. “I don’t even understand where our society is these days. You know, I look at what’s going on in the military, etcetera. They’re treating the wrong part of the anatomy. They ought to be treating it up here.” Then he gestured to his head. “So yeah, my feeling is let’s protect the children, let’s get this bill passed to save our kids.”

Despite the horror evinced by those attending the meeting, the bill is likely to move forward in the South Dakota legislature.

Obama Appoints the First (Out) Transgender White House Staff Member

Raffi Freedman-GurspanRaffi Freedman-Gurspan, a former policy adviser at the National Center for Transgender Equality, has been appointed as an outreach and recruitment director in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. Many across the nation have hailed the Obama Administration’s decision today, calling Ms. Freedman-Gurspan a role model and praising her assisting the LGBT community.

“President Obama has long said he wants his administration to look like the American people. I have understood this to include transgender Americans,” NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said. “That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of color is itself significant. And that the first White House transgender appointee is of a friend is inspiring to me and to countless others who have been touched by Raffi’s advocacy.”

Source: Obama appoints 1st transgender White House staff member – CNNPolitics.com

Kansas State Agencies Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages

Source: BREAKING: State Agencies Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages | Equality Kansas

Equality Kansas, which has many fine people working for it (including my good friend and mentor Sandra Meade), is announcing that Kansas State Agencies are throwing in the towel and recognizing same-sex marriages. The reason is not given, but my speculation is that perhaps Governor Brownback or others in the government finally decided that they didn’t want a Constitutional crisis on their legacy. Whatever the reason, we are winning.

I want to note to the readers out there that it may take several days or weeks for all regional county offices to fall into line, especially the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Even well-intentioned bureaucrats can sometimes err on the side of delay out of fear of losing their job. Please observe the following procedures to make life simpler for yourself:

  • If possible, phone the local office of the DMV yourself and ask if they are issuing drivers licenses with name changes for same-sex marriages. Regardless of how they answer, note down the name of the person you speak to, and the time of the call.
  • If they reply that they are, then ask them exactly what information you need to bring with you. Ask them to repeat this if you are at all unsure. You may want to record the information just so you will not forget.
  • If they reply that they are NOT issuing new licenses, don’t get angry with them. The person on the phone is some low-level person who was given the worst possible task – answering inane and insane questions from the general public, many of whom are angry. They will not and have no ability to change the policy suddenly because you yelled at them. Contact Equality Kansas by e-mail, or your personal legal counsel, and describe the situation. Note the time you phoned, the person you spoke to, and exactly what they said.
  • If you are told they will issue you a license, and then they change your mind after you arrive, stay calm. I know you’re unhappy and you’ve taken time out of your day. Ask to speak to the manager, and note their name. Ask them politely the reason why they will not issue. Don’t negotiate with them – you will not win, and it will only make you and them angry. And being arrested for the catch-all of “disturbing the peace” is a crappy way to spend your day. Pretend like you are Mr. Spock on an away mission if you have to. Note the time and place and everyone you spoke to. Then contact Equality Kansas or your personal legal counsel.

Note that this general policy applies to most other Kansas state agencies as well. Good luck!

Indiana: Bigotry, Discrimination & The Religious Freedom Backlash

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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – excerpt from The Declaration of Independence

Matthew 23:4
“Yea, they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.”

How does one voice an opinion on a subject that causes one’s blood to boil? An issue that causes such anger that it makes a compassionate person double up their hands into fists and say enough is enough? Well if you’re me, you sit down and write about it. Then you do something about it.

I am not alone in my anger. With Governor Mike Pence’s signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana this past week, we have seen a backlash across our country of biblical proportions. Indiana faces a massive loss in revenue, from such companies as Salesforce and Angie’s List, to Apple & Eli Lilly. Cities like San Francisco and Seattle have restricted official travel to Indiana, and the State of Connecticut has officially joined them. Indiana itself has seen massive protests, and some Hoosiers have even quit their state-sponsored jobs. Even some mainline Christian denominations have become involved in the backlash – both Presbyterians and the Disciples of Christ have said that they will look elsewhere for their convention needs, and both groups have condemned this new law.

I applaud all who have stood up to this form of legal bigotry. Other states and their Governors would do well to pay attention to what is happening in Indiana. So what is this really all about, you ask? Is this a spiteful backlash on Marriage Equality, and about laying the groundwork for the future? In this writer’s opinion, Republicans have a long-term plan to supplant this great nation as a whole and replace it with a Fundamentalist Conservative Theocracy. One in which their version of Christianity is the State religion, comparable in scope to Sharia law in the Muslim world. It is not a popular or widely held opinion, but it is what I perceive as the ultimate goal of such laws. You of course are free to draw your own conclusions.

On Sunday the Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, was asked several straightforward questions. The Governor quibbled, diffused, deflected and obfuscated his way through the interview and would never answer a simple question about the rights of people in his state to discriminate. Even today he is unwilling to speak about it. Watch the interview here.

ABC News interview

Today a letter was sent to Governor Pence from the Indiana business community demanding swift action to fix this issue, you can read the letter here. Corporate Business Letter

These laws exist in 19 states, including Kansas and in Missouri a law is being considered and has been written, and there is a federal RFRA law on the books. Passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law by Bill Clinton. It is important to state that if you are a person like me who opposes such legislation in one of these or another state, then do your duty and call or e-mail your representative and politely voice your displeasure towards any bill that discriminates, or otherwise impedes another’s basic civil and human rights. This is our government and we choose how it works, we elect people to protect our interests and preserve our rights, not remove them and entrench themselves in power at our expense.

Kansas Law: HB 2203 as enrolled (law as of July 1, 2013 RFRA-Kansas
Missouri Law: There is no law currently on the books or in the legislative agenda that i could locate at this time. This is a link to the proposed language of the bill. RFRA-Missouri

In Missouri there are currently two bills on the floor of the House. State Rep. Jeff Pogue (R-Salem) filed the legislation which opponents call “harmful” “demeaning” and an instrument to “create false fear” of the transgender community. One bill (HB 1338) would require all public restrooms, other than single occupancy restrooms, to be gender-divided restrooms. HB-1338 The other (HB 1339) would prohibit the appropriation or expenditure of state revenues for the purpose of creating a gender-neutral environment, unless required by a federal or state court order. HB-1339

In Kansas there is currently one such bill on the House floor. Sponsored by Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth), (SB 175) prohibits the state’s universities from taking action against student religious groups that require members to adhere to the group’s religious beliefs. The bill passed 30-8, and it now goes to the House. Read more here: SB-175 Wichita Eagle, and read the bill yourself here. SB-175

Here is a link to a pdf dated June 2013 covering the law in both states, published by the ACLU. This has not been updated as of yet, but makes interesting reading. ACLU PDF

I look forward to reading your comments on this issue. Cassandra Frost

Equality House Celebrates Two-Year Anniversary With ‘Plant One For Peace’

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It’s always good to see events that promote a positive image in the LGBT community. Last Saturday one such event was held as the Equality House celebrated its 2nd Birthday in Topeka, Kansas. For those of you that may not know the house is located across the street from the infamous and much publicized Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) that was once headed by the now deceased Fred Phelps. The people who were in attendance seemed to be filled with a positive sense of fellowship and joy as they mingled and participated in the fundraising events of the day. Everything culminated in a giant group kiss or “Planting one for Peace” as it were.

We did this to remind the world what we stand for at the Equality House: individuals celebrating and taking pride in who they are, and never being afraid of showing acts of love, even in the face of bigotry. “Planting Peace” President Aaron Jackson told The Huffington Post

We are happy to report all kinds of people — queer couples, straight couples and families showed up to participate and ex-members of the WBC even dropped by including Libby Phelps who, organizers told The Huffington Post, was in the crowd with her husband kissing her baby.

For more information on Equality House and how to participate go to Equality House

In the end this was a very positive event for both the Topeka LGBT community and the LGBT community at large. For more information on Planting Peace and current fundraising efforts, follow the link Planting Peace

Suicide Attempts Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults

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A new study was released today from the Williams Institute at UCLA and the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. To say that the study was more bad news for an already oppressed minority would be understating the issue. Highlights from the study report an increased risk of suicide among Trans Men (46%) and also among Trans Women (42%) with disabilities (65%). High prevalence of suicide attempts were also found among those who had ever experienced homelessness (69%) and those who reported a doctor or healthcare provider refused to treat them (60%). For more statistics from this report and to read and review the entire report go here.

The Williams Report