Bullock On Bozeman’s NDO Passage: “I urge other MT communities to follow suit”

Governor Bullock released the following statement on the City of Bozeman passing an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations:

“Tonight, Bozeman has shown important leadership in protecting their residents and visitors from discrimination. Discrimination is bad for the state’s economy and businesses, as well as contrary to the freedoms we expect as Montanans. I encourage other Montana communities to follow suit in the near future.”

The NDO passed unanimously with all commissioners and Mayor Krauss voting- Deputy Mayor Carson Taylor was absent, but since he introduced the measure, I’m calling it unanimous.

It was a bit anticlimactic. No one spoke during public comment time, and no visible opponents could be identified in the crowd. However, there were at least 40 members of the community visibly wearing “Support Fairness Dignity Security” stickers. I sat with some veteran activists- and there were a few tears- but mostly this was as expected. Bozeman is a welcoming community and recognizes that fairness and dignity are vital components of community structure.

So. Billings.

Are you willing to put the economic future of your city at the mercy of fundamentalist hysteria?

If so, just watch Bozeman take over as the leading economic force in the state….

 

Cuccinelli Could Be Daines (or vice-versa)

In a Washington Post article today entitled , “Mr Cuccinelli has himself to blame for loss”, it was mentioned that:

The Cuccinelli record had nothing to do with job-creation or the state’s economic well-being or alleviating deepening transportation problems, all of which are central to Virginians’ well-being. It was mainly about bashing homosexuals, harassing illegal immigrants, crusading against abortion, denying climate change, flirting with birthers and opposing gun control. A hero to the tea party and a culture warrior of the first rank, Mr. Cuccinelli lost because he was among the most polarizing and provocative figures in Richmond for a decade. That made him the wrong candidate for Virginia.

Sound familiar?

I wonder if the “Cuccinelli Effect” will reach as far as Montana?

One can only hope.

Steve Daines with Ted Cruz

Steve Daines with Ted Cruz

Act Now to Secure ENDA’s Passage‏

PrideflogovertBeing honest about who you are could cost you your job in the majority of the country.

Right now, there are no state laws protecting lesbian, gay, or bisexual people from being fired from their jobs in 29 states, and the same is true in 34 states for transgender Americans. Three of the states that Pride Foundation works in: Alaska, Idaho, and Montana, are among those where you can be terminated from your job simply for being yourself.
Tomorrow, in the United States Senate, we are expecting a vote on the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote employees simply based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Recent polling has found that 73% of the American public, across political parties, support protecting LGBTQ people from workplace discrimination.
We need our Senators to do the same by voting for ENDA.
Please take action today!
Contact your Senators by phone and email, share your story, and urge them to vote yes on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S. 815).  
Senator contact information as well as templates for calls and emails can be found here.

Thank you.
With Pride,
Kris Hermanns
Executive Director
http://www.pridefoundation.org | info@pridefoundation.org | 1.800.735.7287 | Headquarters Mailing Address: 1122 E Pike St PMB 1001 | Seattle, WA 98122 US

ENDA is Up – Again

What to do about ENDA? The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is up for committee hearing next week – again. It will likely pass out of committee on July 10, as all the committee dems (12) are sponsors and even one Republican is on board. We’ve been here before folks. It’s a long, hard road to pass a bill – think, “There’s a bill up on Capitol Hill.”

ENDA, originally introduced in 2007 by Sen. Ted Kennedy, has never enjoyed significant congressional support, however. And nothing appears to be much different in that old house. So, the efficacy and life of ENDA seems still doomed to be stalled in the Senate chute.

Ironically, ENDA is viewed by some as more of a transgender bill, largely because trans women have represented the historical sticking point – think Barney Frank. Yet, the twist here, is that trans people represent a class that has at least some discrimination protection under law since the EEOC decided Macy v. Holder in May, 2012 (recognizing transgender discrimination as a type of gender discrimination under Title VII). Sadly, if you are gay, lesbian or bi, you can still be fired or denied housing and public accommodation merely because it is so in states that offer no state or local protection. If you are transgender and you are fired you at least have a federal remedy.

Yes, ENDA is about LGBT Equality!!! So, what can we do to get this law passed? Some have suggested re-branding:

Following up on that bit of news, Michelangelo Signorile quotes former Bilerico editor Michael Crawford talking his ideas on how to get ENDA actually passed: rebrand it. I couldn’t agree with him more. Ditching the name ENDA and expanding the scope of the legislation would give LGBT federal nondiscrimination legislation some nice forward momentum.
‘When we talk about it as discrimination, it’s about bad things that are happening vs. reframing in a more aspirational way, framing it as freedom to work,’ he explained. ‘Everyone wants to be able to work and take care of their families. Framing it as something the general public can understand and connect to.’…

~ Filed By Bil Browning, Bilerico, 7/03/2013.

Good idea! But, regardless of how the law is framed, now is the time for all people concerned about LGBT Equality to get behind it.

I have mentioned before that I am concerned about the post-marriage victory let down amongst our movement. Will it be, or will we seize upon the momentum we seem to have accumulated over the last few years and extend it beyond marriage equality? I hope it will be the latter for the sake of those who have lost or been denied employment or associated benefits. And I can think of several people I know right off the top of my head who have endured these struggles right here in Southwest Montana. I can only imagine what it is like in larger urban areas of the country.

So, here’ my pitch: Don’t let down! Don’t stop! All the same cliches about equality and justice not being so until they are so for all remain true and unfulfilled. Please do your part to help pass ENDA.

President Obama’s Official Statement On DOMA, Prop 8

Yes we can!!

Yes we can!! (Photo credit: TijsB)

 

Obama: “I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

 

This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.

 

So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

 

On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.

 

The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free. “

 

Student Loans, National Debt & Congress- An Infographic

 

 

banking-on-education-OPTIMIZED

 

Here are just a couple key points:

– Since 2002, student debt in America has quintupled from $200 billion to $1.1 trillion
— 62% of workers aged 30-39 have insufficient resources for retirement — meaning less money on critical necessities like housing, food, and medicine
— If Congress doesn’t act by July 1st, the average student will owe an extra $2,564 — but if  Congress passes Sen. Warren’s plan, they’ll save $6,552

 

Baucus Continues Fight Against DOMA

I have to be honest, last year when Max Baucus announced his support for marriage equality, I was surprised. I didn’t expect him to be the first statewide elected Democrat in Montana to take this step. Since this time, Max has continued to impress me with his commitment to pursuing full equality for LGBT Montanans.

Last month, when the US Supreme Court heard cases on LGBT relationships, Baucus announced that he would sign-on as a cosponsor of the DOMA repeal bill in the Senate. And this past weekend he sent out an email to his campaign email list asking everyone on the list to stand up for marriage equality. The email read:

The federal government shouldn’t interfere in people’s private lives. And it shouldn’t legislate who can and cannot enter into a loving, committed relationship.

But that’s exactly what it does right now. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) denies federal benefits to same-sex couples, even if they’re legally married in their own states.

It’s not fair. And there’s a growing movement to see DOMA overturned. For the first time, a majority of Senators are standing up for marriage equality. And I wanted to give you the opportunity to join us.

It’s time to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. Click here to add your name in support of marriage equality.

In Montana, we believe in personal freedom. We believe the government shouldn’t interfere in the people’s private business.

Overturning DOMA will give same-sex couples, married legally in their states, equal rights under federal law. Add your name.

Thank you for your support to help end marriage discrimination.

It’s great to see a US Senator that has Max’s prominence take such a strong stand and make such a commitment to equality for all Montanans. I quickly signed on to his petition.

Also of note, while Max is standing up for equality for all Montanans, his Republican opponents have doubled-down on their bigotry.

Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS Issues Groundbreaking Resolution

The Transgender Law Center applauds the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) for passing a groundbreaking resolution recommending ways to address the high rates of HIV/AIDS among transgender communities throughout the United States. Recently made public, the resolution was passed in February.

Another Yin-Yang-Yuan TransGender-Symbol

Another Yin-Yang-Yuan TransGender-Symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PACHA’s advice and recommendations are vitally important in assisting the White House to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. This resolution is groundbreaking in nature, as it is the first time PACHA has issued a transgender-specific set of recommendations.

“We’re incredibly grateful to PACHA for passing such a strong and compelling resolution,” said Cecilia Chung, Senior Strategist. “These recommendations, if implemented, will meet some of the dire needs of our community, which include data collection, education, and culturally competent prevention and care for transgender people, as our community continues to face extreme violence and discrimination which contribute to a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.”

Some of PACHA’s 15 recommendations include:

  • Relevant Health and Human Services (HHS) operating divisions should dedicate grant funds to projects specifically focusing on transgender health, particularly in the context of HIV prevention and treatment…;
  • The Indian Health Service (IHS) should develop a health services protocol specific to providing culturally and clinically appropriate care for male and female bodied, Two-Spirit individuals, including HIV prevention, education, outreach, and treatment;
  • And The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) should require facilities and providers receiving any federal funding to undertake regular staff trainings on transgender cultural competency.

The report “Injustice at Every Turn” is one of the few studies that has some data about transgender HIV rates. According to the report, the HIV sero-prevelance among transgender women in the U.S. is more than seven times the national average. The PACHA resolution notes that there is a lack of adequate data about transgender HIV risk and infection rates and recommends ways to collect it. It also points out that transgender people are protected from discrimination in the Affordable Care Act and lists ways to ensure agencies are aware of this and have adequate funding in place to care for transgender people.

Transgender Law Center works to educate legislators, policymakers, and advocates about the importance of addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the transgender community, and eliminating discriminatory barriers that transgender people face when attempting to access quality care. The staff has held meetings with personnel from HHC, HRSA, and the CDC to help educate them about the important issues addressed in the PACHA resolution.

Additionally, in collaboration with Lyon-Martin Health Services, Transgender Law Center has spearheaded Project HEALTH: Harnessing Education, Advocacy, and Leadership in Transgender Health. Since 2008, Project HEALTH has led a comprehensive effort to improve access to and quality of healthcare for transgender people throughout California, and increasingly in other regions as well. Project HEALTH has trained more than 60 students in professional health programs through a clinical rotation hosted at Lyon-Martin Health Services and provided administrative, cultural, and clinical training to more than 25 community clinics and hospitals. In September, Project HEALTH launched TRANSLINE, an online consultation service for healthcare professionals seeking help caring for transgender patients. The team of leading organizations and practitioners has responded to more than 70 requests since September, with a 100% satisfaction rating.

Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. http://www.transgenderlawcenter.org To learn more contact Mark Snyder,mark@transgenderlawcenter.org, 415.865.0176 ext. 310.

How The Sequester Hits Montana

Here’s the link to the effects of the sequester for Montana.
One of the great “benefits” being the inability to pay for 117,000 HIV tests- now free for any Montana resident. And there’s more besides.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/sequester-factsheets/Montana.pdf