What would an LGBT Discrimination Executive Order Mean

Executive Order Under Consideration by Trump Administration Would Allow Discrimination Against LGBT People

fadaPresident Trump is considering issuing an executive order that provides sweeping protections for employers and service providers that discriminate against LGBT people.  The draft of the executive order circulated on February 1, 2017, would prohibit the federal government from withholding grants, contracts, or federal benefits from entities that discriminate against LGBT employees or beneficiaries based on religious objection—a belief that being LGBT is immoral or inconsistent with religious doctrine.

Such an executive order could potentially impact thousands of same-sex couples seeking to adopt or foster children, tens of thousands of LGBT youth in foster care, and hundreds of thousands of LGBT workers employed by federal contractors and the federal government.

Same-Sex Couples Seeking to Adopt or Foster Children

The draft executive order would allow federally-funded religious organizations providing child welfare services to decline adoption and foster services to same-sex couples.  Williams Institute research shows that many same-sex couples adopt and foster children, and are more likely to do so than different-sex couples.

Same-sex couples are four times more likely to be raising adopted children, and six times more likely to be raising foster children, than different-sex couples in the U.S. An estimated 22,000 adopted children are being raised by 16,000 same-sex couples, and an estimated 3,400 children are being fostered by same-sex couples.

The draft executive order could limit opportunities for family formation among same-sex couples, and leave many children without a foster placement or permanent home.

LGBT Youth in Foster Care

The draft executive order would allow religious organizations providing child welfare services to decline to serve LGBT youth.  Williams Institute research finds that LGBT youth are greatly over-represented in the foster system. For example, in Los Angeles, LGBT youth make up 20 percent of the youth population in care, compared to only 8 percent of the general youth population.

LGBT Federal Employees and LGBT Employees of Federal Contractors

The draft order would open the door for harassment and discrimination against LGBT people who work for the federal government.  An estimated 64,000 LGBT people are federal civil service employees.

Federal Contractors employ over 20 percent of the U.S. workforce – 28 million people.  Under an executive order issued by former President Obama in 2014, federal contractors are prohibited from discriminating against their employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  President Trump’s draft order would limit the scope of the 2014 order, allowing contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees based on their religious beliefs without losing their contracts.

The draft order would potentially strip an important source of legal protections for many LGBT workers of federal contractors, including workers who are not otherwise protected from discrimination under state non-discrimination laws or corporate policies.

The Williams Institute estimated that as a result of the 2014 executive order, 11 million workers, including 400,000 LGBT employees, gained protections from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.  These 11 million employees did not have protections from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination under a corporate policy or state law before the 2014 order was issued.

Services Provided to Same-Sex Couples and Access to Health Care

The draft order would open the door for denial of services and discrimination against same-sex couples, including over 500,000 married same-sex couples in the United States.  The draft order would also limit federal regulations that protect LGBT people from discrimination in health care, including in services provided by hospitals, insurers, and other entities.  There are over 10 million LGBT adults in the United States.   In particular, 1.4 million transgender adults would be vulnerable to discrimination in health care and denial of services under the draft order.

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First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) Would Be ‘Devastating’ for LGBTQ Americans

 Earlier this month, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Mike Lee of Utah, through his spokesperson said they plan to reintroduce an embattled bill that barely gained a House hearing in 2015. But this time around, they said, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was likely to succeed due to a Republican-controlled House and the backing of President-Elect Donald Trump.
fadawould prohibit the federal government from taking “discriminatory action” against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ people. The act distinctly aims to protect the right of all entities to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on two sets of beliefs: “(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”
Ironically, the language of the bill position the right to discriminate against one class of Americans as a “first amendment” right, and bans the government from taking any form of action to curb such discrimination—including withholding federal funds from institutions that discriminate. FADA allows individuals and businesses to sue the federal government for interfering in their right to discriminate against LGBTQ people and would mandate the Attorney General defend the businesses.

FADA was first filed in the House and Senate in 2015, but was met with protests from Democrats and resulted in just one House hearing amid concerns that Obama would veto the bill. It is currently co-sponsored by 171 House Republicans and just one Democrat (Daniel Lipinski of Illinois.)

State-level legislation similar to FADA has failed in recent years, usually resulting from lawsuits and nationwide boycotts. When Vice President-elect Mike Pence passed a “religious freedom” bill as governor of Indiana in March 2015, it was met with protests, financial losses from businesses that pulled operations from the state. It ultimately required an amendment issued in April to protect LGBTQ people from the bill’s discrimination.

Mississippi’s HB 1523 is nearly identical to FADA. The state law, passed in 2016 but quickly blocked by a judge, allows people and businesses in the state to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on three sets of religious beliefs: “Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage, and male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”

A lawsuit brought by Mississippi religious leaders alleges the state law actually violates religious freedom by determining that religious belief necessitates anti-LGBTQ discrimination. The group of ordained ministers suing the state said in the lawsuit, Barber v. Bryant, that Mississippi violates its right to freedom of religion “because persons who hold contrary religious beliefs are unprotected—the State has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others.”

Barber v. Bryant is currently at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal trial court ruled HB 1523 violates the federal Equal Protection and Establishment Clauses. Pizer said the case stands as an example of the legal explosion that would occur in reaction to FADA.

“If Congress were to pass the federal FADA as currently written, and the next president were to sign it into law, I’m confident heads would spin at how fast the constitutional challenges would fly into court,” Pizer said, adding “we’re likely to have a great many allies because these attempts to misuse religion for discrimination offend enormous numbers of Americans who cherish both religious liberty and equality for all.”

Joint Statement from DNC Chair Donna Brazile and DNC LGBT Caucus Chair Earl Fowlkes

“Instead of honoring the memory of those we lost at Pulse two months ago, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio have come to Orlando to headline a gathering of some of the nation’s most incendiary anti-gay bigots. We at the DNC join all people of good conscience in expressing our solidarity with the Orlando LGBT community as they continue to grieve the deadliest shooting in American history. We suggest Trump and Rubio disavow these anti-gay extremists who have likened gay people to Nazis and characterized HIV/AIDS as divine ‘penalties’ for being gay. Failing to do so will be yet another example of the utter lack of judgment that makes Trump unfit to serve.” Trump-Rubio-300x198

 

 

BiNetUSA Comic Con & just a little Politics

 

 

CCILogo-R_LargeThe reason for my trip to San Diego for Comic-Con was sort of business in nature but not completely, it’s not often that I am given the ability to travel or go on vacation. That was an  opportunity was given to be because of BiNetUSA and the role I play as a member of their board and our newest project called The Bi Stories Project at the booth of Prism Comics.Prism Comic is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) creators, stories, and readers in the comics industry. Incorporated in 2003, Prism Comics publishes the annual resource guide, Prism Comics: Your LGBT Guide to Comics.

PrismBlackLogoPrism Comic is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) creators, stories, and readers in the comics industry. Incorporated in 2003, Prism Comics publishes the annual resource guide, Prism Comics: Your LGBT Guide to Comics.That was an  opportunity was given to be because of BiNetUSA and the role I play as a member of their board and our newest project called The Bi Stories Project at the booth of Prism Comics.

BiNetUSA is America’s advocacy organization for bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer-identified and unlabeled people. Bi NetUSA facilitates the development of a cohesive network of independent bisexual and bi-friendly communities; promotes bisexual and bi-inclusive visibility, and collects and distributes educational information regarding sexual orientation and gender identity with an emphasis on bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer (bi+) communities hope to acquaint comics readers with a wide range of creators who present good stories that readers can really relate to and that reflect their own experiences. We hope that more readers will sample the work of LGBT creators when they’re spending their money on comics and, as a result, demonstrate to more publishers that these books are truly worthwhile. We also hope to knit together a large LGBT comics community so that creators can feel more comfortable coming out of the comics closet and standing up as proud participants in an industry we all care about. Bi Stories T-shirt graphics_one color_FINAL_FINAL

I went on this trip to do further to progress and advancement of the Bi+ Community (give the definition of Bi+) especially among populations like those of us who identify as Bi+ in areas such as Comic Con where many other types of people and families go to enjoy themselves.

IMG_6608The Second Day of Comic-Con, I had a run in Congressmen John Lewis (GA-5) an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. Congressmen Lewis’s commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from the state of Alabama as a sharecropper’s farm to the hall of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American Presidents.

Why was a great American Leader and Civil Rights trailblazer at San Diego Comic Con? Graphic Novels, which he has 3 of now. They are titled ” March- Book One, March- Book Two, March Book Three”

It’s not every day, you attend the largest Comic Convention in the country and run into a US Congressmen who just recently had made the headlines again for staging a sit-in just before the Summer Break of Congress over the need for a national discussion and vote on Common Sense Gun Safety Legislation.
I had planned to try and have a “non-political” vacation. That didn’t go as planned because being the kind of always has a way of finding me. Day Three of the Con, while sitting at the Booth of Prism and BiNetUSA, I had the honor of meeting San Diego Commissioner and Queen of the Imperial Court Nicole M. Ramirez.

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Those were the unexpected parts of my trip, but I enjoyed them never the less and learned that even in the other part of my life politics is still a big part who I am in so many expects of my life. I am more than just a political nerd even if when its a label, that I have given to myself. Growing up my Dad brought me into the world of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Its where was always the most comfortable and it’s where we spent most of our time when my mother wasn’t around. We’d spend hours watching Star Trek Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and as I grew up I learned about who Ambassador Spock was before he was Ambassador Spock.

My Dad’s favorite superhero was Hal Jordan (Green Lantern). The Oath something he had committed to the memory of the years and then engraved in mine “In brightest day, in blackest night,No evil shall escape my sight.Let those who worship evil’s might,Beware my power…Green Lantern’s Light!” 

IMG_6631 (1) I went there with very little expectations, however when I found that Brent Spiner would be there to sign autographs and meet fans before the 50th Anniversary Panel in Hall H (which was called Hall Hell or Hall Heaven) depends on who speak too. I knew, because of my anxiety and other things that I’d never make it into Hall H.

However, Brent Spiner was signing autographs at a booth across the way from Prism Booth in the Large Exhibit Hall. That was something I know that I had to make happen. It would probably be a once in a little time opportunity. The next question that I had to figure out was. What would he sign? What would you say? These were the next things to figure out so naturally, I bought a 50th Anniversary Star Trek. Now to move on to what you say to a person who’s character made so much sense that even before I knew the word for who I existed. While Brent played Data an Android who aspired to be nothing more than human that is what always made me so intrigued by him. I spent all  those years of my life wanting nothing more than to be the person I knew I was.

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The night before you filled out a google doc, and the first 50 people get to meet the person. You were supposed to get an email by noon. I did my shift w/ BiNet & Prism table and waited for my email. Sadly the email never came, however, it had come to the attention of the organizers that my google form was on 51 on the list. The person in charge of the check-in gave me the bracelet and said “I seen, you’ve been working all weekend and haven’t probably gotten to meet all of the people or stand in many of the lines” That’s how I got to finally meet and speak with Brent Spiner and he signed my hat.  I told him that as much as Data aspired to human…I had spent the majority of my youth aspiring to the boy/man I knew I was. He smiled and look at me and said “than I guess he did his job and so did I”

IMG_6705  Moving on to the part of the Con that was what I was sent by BiNetUSA to do. The last day of the Convention. The “Bisexuality and Beyond” moderated by Faith Cheltenham. This panel was full of well-versed Bi,Pan, Fluid and Queer people. It included R.J Aguiar, Sarah Stumpf, Tara Avery, Steve Orlando, Bob Schreck & Mariss Lee. My assignment was to live tweet the panel. So those unable to attend the panel around the country and world.

Some of the most memorable tweets include “You run out of closets after a while” Bob Schreck

“Many shades of purple…purple does exist” RJ Aguiar “An everyday conversation…all the time”

These are just some of my experiences from Comic Con 2016 in San Diego. I also got to meet a friend of mine from a part of my past story of my coming out that did have a face. The ability to connect w/ Eric meant a lot to me, as much as it meant to the work I do for BiNet USA.

If you identify with the Bi+ community share your story with us by using this link  The Bi Stories Project.

 

 

 

 

Obama Designates Stonewall as First National Monument for LGBT Rights

With this weekend marking the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling on legalizing Marriage Equality.

President Obama will designate the Stonewall Inn in New York City as a new National Monument, the first official National Park Service monument dedicated to the plight of LGBT Americans.

The protected area will include Christopher Park across from the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, which has long served as a landmark for the LGBT community. The inn, a popular gay bar, continues to serve as a gathering place for demonstrations. The Stonewall riots in 1969 marked a major turning point in the fight for gay rights. The monument commemorates the protests and riots on June 28, 1969 when the New York Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn seeking to crack down on a law prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to homosexuals. The riots were seen as an inflection point in the LGBT community as protests spread to cities across the country.

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“Today’s designation follows years of strong support from local officials, organizations, members of Congress and citizens in New York City and across the country,” the White House said in a press release.

The announcement from the White House also includes a reference to the Pulse gay nightclub massacre in Orlando on June 12.

“Although the LGBT civil rights movement has made significant progress in the pursuit of equal rights and protections under the law, there is still more work to do,” according to the release. “As seen two weeks ago in Orlando, FL, LGBT Americans continue to face acts of violence, discrimination, and hate. LGBT people of color are especially at risk. The Administration is committed to continuing the fight for dignity, acceptance and equal rights for all Americans — no matter who they are or who they love.”

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The announcement is being framed as a culmination of the eight years of the Obama administration’s policy promoting LGBT rights. After the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage one year ago, the White House celebrated by lighting up the entrance that faces Pennsylvania Avenue in rainbow colors

Democratic Party of Richmond County Convention

Last night the Democratic Party of Richmond held their County Convention nominated State Sen. Diane Savino, Assemblyman Matthew Titone, Assemblyman Michael Cusick, as well as three sitting Civil Court judges, Barbara Panepinto, Kim Dollard, and Philip Straniere to be on the party line for our borough.

Things that happened that WILL NOT be mentioned in our local paper the “Staten Island Advance” half of our party slate is female identified. That’s right HALF! We the Democratic Party of Staten Island are letting Female Identified people LEAD THE WAY. Starting with State Senator Diane Savino.

The party did something else last night that won’t be mentioned in the local paper. The more powerful story somehow missed  last night by the Staten Island Advance was that  for the first time in Staten Island history a transgender person Bryan John Ellicott (Yea that would be me) addressed a political convention, sadly however it was tTHE SAME NIGHT that in  BROOKLYN a TRANSPERSON was ASSAULTED!?! The same day a ciswoman was ASSAULTED in a women’s restroom for “looking like a dude.” in another state. It’s pretty clear that Transgender people are under attack.

I was asked by Assemblymember Matthew Titone to second the nomination for his re-election.

“Few people (we later found out none) like me have had this chance. I made the most of it. However, I am thankful to Chris Bauer, Michael Arvanites, Bobby Digi and the other men in the room…who understand what needed to be said. While we supportAssemblymember Matthew Titone as our voice of the vulnerable citizens of SI.”

I spoke of his continued fight for the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) next to sponsor Assembly Dick Gottfried. The continued struggle of the LGBT community…and how important it is in Staten Island that we support across the borough our only LGBT elected official and one of few in Albany.

(featured photo credit: Michael Arvanites)

 

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Photo Credit: Roy Moskowitz 

 

2017 NBA ALL-STAR Game in Question

“The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events,” the statement read. “We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not know yet what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.”

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2627456-nba-releases-statement-regarding-north-carolinas-new-transgender-law utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=share&utm_campaign=web-des-art-top-19