Wisconsin’s Largest County Passes Anti-LGBT Discrimination Protections

From my friend John M. Becker at The Bilerico Project 

On Thursday the board of Milwaukee County — the most populous county in Wisconsin — overcame anti-trans fear-mongering and approved a measure adding sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the county’s non-discrimination ordinance. The vote was 12-6.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

County Executive Chris Abele backs the measure. “Not only is adopting such an ordinance the right thing to do, but ensuring protections for all people adds to the economy of Milwaukee County,” Abele said.

The change was sought by Fair Wisconsin, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Supervisor Deanna Alexander said while she backs the discrimination protection, she wanted to ensure that it would not be used by male pedophiles or sex criminals cross-dressing as a way to get inside women’s public restrooms.

“I want to be very inclusive of the LGBT community,” but she doesn’t want the protection to be used by someone to commit a crime, she said.

An amendment by Alexander aimed at making that exception was voted down and drew denunciations from County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, the author of the anti-discrimination proposal, and other supervisors.

Dimitrijevic told Alexander that bringing up pedophiles was offensive in this context. Alexander then sought to have Dimitrijevic stand aside as chairwoman during debate on measure, but Dimitrijevic refused.

Supervisor David Bowen said references to pedophiles and sex criminals was fear mongering by opponents, many of whom called supervisors this week. “I understand there are people in the community who have been misdirected intentionally by right-wing sources,” Bowen said.

Katie Belanger, president of Fair Wisconsin, praised the measure and thanked Abele and Dimitrijevic for their “visionary leadership in advancing equality.” The group notes that Milwaukee County joins the cities of Milwaukee and Madison; Dane County, Wisconsin; and more than 100 communities and 17 states nationwide with funny inclusive non-discrimination laws.

Read more at http://www.bilerico.com/2014/04/wis_largest_county_passes_lgbt_anti-discrimination.php#QwDXywqmj7l2yA7I.99



Death Threats (and the rest)

Left at the Lights

I’ve been tweeting at Twitter for more than 24hrs to remove the account in the first screenshot with no success.

This account has been functioning for quite some time and it is our belief it was set up to harass and intimidate one of our friends.

When I became aware of them I asked Twitter to suspend the account for transphobia. The person behind the account tweeted those words about me, taking advantage of a disagreement between me and a real life friend.

24 hours I’ve been tweeting, as have many of my supporters and nothing from Twitter.

The other tweets, the death threats, those were aimed at me for telling a friend that she could report the death threats leveled at her, to the police and if they were taken seriously, as was the case for Caroline Criado Perez, then they were looking at jail time. So how did…

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City Settles Robert Pinter’s Porn Shop False Arrest Claim for $450,000

 A gay man who charged he was falsely arrested for prostitution in a Lower East Side porn shop in 2008 has settled the federal civil rights lawsuit he brought against New York City for $450,000.

“Settling this case was in the best interest of all parties,” Nick Paolucci, the deputy director of communications in the city’s Law Department, wrote in an April 25 email.

According to Robert Pinter, who brought the lawsuit and commented after this story was initially posted, he will receive $50,000 in the settlement, and the remaining $400,000 will compensate this attorneys, Jeffrey A. Rothman and James I. Meyerson.

Pinter, 58, was one of 41 men known to have been arrested for prostitution in six Manhattan porn shops in 2008 and early 2009. Pinter, who was 52 at the time, was arrested in Blue Door Video on First Avenue by officers in the Manhattan South Vice Enforcement Squad. He first agreed to consensual sex with a much younger man, who turned out to be an undercover police officer, and as they were leaving the store, the younger man said he would pay for the sex. Pinter was arrested after he said nothing to the offer of money.

Case stemming from 2008 involves one of dozens of arrests used in city efforts to shutter adult video stores

Pinter initially pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and received an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. He eventually withdrew the plea and his case was dismissed. The Manhattan district attorney also dropped prosecutions of some other gay defendants.

Pinter said he was caught off guard by the undercover officer’s offer of money and quickly decided there was no possibility he would in fact have sex with him, though the two, according to Pinter, continued engaging in “playful banter” while leaving the store.

Several men who were also arrested by vice cops spoke to Gay City News in 2009 and said they were also offered cash after agreeing to consensual sex. Some were arrested despite refusing the money. Others arrested said they never even agreed to the consensual sex let alone to exchanging cash for sex. Those men pleaded not guilty and their cases were dismissed.

The city, which had been on a campaign to shut down porn shops since Rudolph Giuliani was mayor, cited the prostitution arrests in nuisance abatement lawsuits that were brought against the porn businesses in an effort to close them down.

Four other men also sued the city in 2009 and settled their federal cases in 2011, with one getting $25,001 and the other three getting $45,001. The same vice cops also made prostitution arrests in spas, and another gay man, who was arrested in a spa, sued in state court and that case is ongoing.

Pinter sued in 2009 and has battled the city since, with the Bloomberg administration designating his case as “no pay,” meaning there would be no settlement. Mayor Bill de Blasio has indicated an interest in ending high profile lawsuits, such as the case brought in 2002 by five men who were convicted based on false confessions in a 1990 rape of a woman in Central Park.

The Pinter settlement comes in the wake of a decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to deny the city’s appeal of an October 2013 ruling by US District Judge Shira Scheindlin that Pinter could proceed with his lawsuit. In separate letters in recent months, the six out gay and lesbian members of the City Council and a group of prominent leaders in the LGBT community urged the Law Department to settle the case with Pinter.

The letter from the Council members said Pinter’s “lawsuit involves insidious entrapment of a gay man. Such policing tactics, especially when a gay man is involved, bring up very painful memories of an oppressive time in this country when such actions were even more widespread.”

The 14 prostitution arrests in Blue Door were notable because nine of the 14 men busted there were over 40. Only one of the 14 had a prior arrest and that was for grand larceny.

Police department documents suggest that racial profiling in addition to the targeting of older gay and bisexual men may have played a role in the prostitution arrests. Eighteen of the 41 were Latino and 14 were African-American. Seven were white and two were Asian. Altogether, 78 percent of the men arrested were either Latino or African-American.

Men arrested in the other five shops ranged in age from their late teens to early 40s. Among the 27 men arrested in those five shops, 14 were Latino, 11 were African-American, one was white, and one was Asian. In those five porn shops, 93 percent of the men arrested were African-American or Latino.

The NYPD records suggest that police were not arresting prostitutes. Among the 41 men arrested in all six shops, 15 had prior arrests with a few with extensive criminal records, but just two out of the 41 had prior arrests for prostitution.

The same vice cops who made the porn shop busts also made at least other 16 prostitution arrests of men and a few women in two Manhattan spas. Those spas were also sued in nuisance abatement lawsuits.



The Family Foundation announced the intention to embark on a 40 day hunger strike against Marriage Equality

The Family Foundation has announced that it intends to embark on a hunger strike against marriage equality from Aug. 27 through Oct. 5, that is 40 days of a hunger strike. 

The Virginia-based conservative Christian organization is calling the fast “40 Days of Prayer, Fasting and Repentance for Marriage.” 

According to a statement released on the group’s website:

Our state and nation are mired in a morass of confusion and post-modern thinking that does not believe in absolutes nor that any truth can even be known. Nowhere is this more evident than in the current debate raging about what constitutes marriage. Pagan philosophies, a secular humanist education establishment and an entertainment industry that is absolutely determined in pushing the envelope on decency and morality have all combined to turn this great land into a country that our forefathers could not even begin to recognize.

On April 11, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring stated his belief that same-sex couples should have the same right to marry as interracial couples, and gave his support to uphold a Federal court ruling that declared Virginia’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional. 

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the arguments on May 13. On that same day, The Family Foundation intends to conduct a “Stand & Pray” outside the Richmond Courthouse, according to its website.



Judge rules Oaxaca, Mexico ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional

Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled Oaxaca state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying to be unconstitutional on Tuesday and also found it to be in violation of Article 143 of the country’s Civil Code.

The action was brought by 39 gay and lesbian Mexicans, and their lawyers successfully argued that the state’s law violated Article 1 of the Mexican Constitution, which amongst other things protects sexual minorities from discrimination in law.

Oaxaca’s Office of Vital Records has said it will abide by the court’s decision and urged lawmakers to act in line with the court’s verdict to provide a legal framework by which same-sex couples may marry.

‘It is time to modernize our laws and our institutions have to adapt to changing times and conditions, because we are being overtaken in the new circumstances,’ Oaxaca director of Vital Records Clarivel Rivera said according to e-consulta.com.

Same-sex marriages are performed by the federal district of Mexico City and the state of Quintana Roo.

Other Mexican states have introduced civil union schemes for gay couples but all must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere even if they do not perform them themselves since August of 2010.


Phoenix Transwomen has been found Guilty of Prostitution Related Charge

A Phoenix trans woman has been found guilty of a prostitution-related charge, after speaking out against the Bible-based ‘rehabilitation’ program she was arrested under.

According to AzCentral, Monica Jones, an activist for sex-worker rights and member of Sex Workers’ Outreach Project, was arrested last May in a police sting for ‘manifestation of prostitution’.

She pleaded not guilty to the charge, and argued the law she was charged under was unconstitutional.

Vice reported last year that she was arrested as part of Project ROSE and taken to Bethany Bible Church, which runs a religious rehabilitation programme that aims to ‘save’ sex workers.

Those that successfully complete the programme, some 30%, are not charged, but those who refuse to do so, or who do not complete the programme, are prosecuted.

The statute that Jones was arrested under, which bans ‘manifesting prostitution’, can prohibit everything from engaging in conversations with passers-by, to asking if someone is an undercover police officer.

Jones said: “You never see a heterosexual transgender man [accused].

“It targets women, especially women in poverty, and women of minority.”

She was found guilty on Friday.

A change.org petition has been set up urging for the charges against Jones to be dropped.