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.”

Advertisements

Primary Day for Congress in Manhattan, Brooklyn & Western Queens

If you live in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Western Queens there’s a very high probability you live in a district where there is a contested congressional primary. It’s totally crazy that we need to vote four times this year. On the other hand, with turnout likely to be as low as 4% today in many places, your vote really does matter and there are some strong candidates who really deserve it. So take a few minutes out of your day and be part of the solution, not the problem, by making your voice heard at the ballot box.

 

gotv2-540x300

Reps. Maloney, Velázquez, Nadler, Jeffries, New York City elected, LGBT leaders, and Gun Safety Advocates Join Together to Call on Congress to Pass Gun Safety Reforms

NewYork~ Today, Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, and Congressman Hakeem Jeffris, gathered with city leaders, members of the LGBT community and gun safety advocates to demand Congressional action on gun safety reforms and remember the 49 people who were murdered and 53 wounded in the attack in Orlando. The attack, by a gunman using a semi-automatic assault weapon to murder members of the LGBT community, was the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

 

The members of Congress were joined by Public Advocate Letitia James, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, Manhattan District Attorney and co-founder of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence Cyrus Vance, Brooklyn District Attorney  Ken Thompson, Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, Members of the New York City Council Dan Garodnick, Stephen Levin, Margaret Chin, Costa Costantinides, Ben Kallos, members of the LGBT community Michael Mallon and Bryan Ellicott, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Leah Gunn Barrett, Regional Organizing Manager for Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Kim Russell, Donna Dees from the Million Moms March, and Monica Atiya from Organizing for Action-New York.

The group called on Congress to enact common sense gun safety reforms including: renewing the Assault Weapons Ban (H.R. 4269), prohibiting people on the terrorist watch list and those convicted of hate crimes from buying guns (H.R. 1076 & H.R. 4603), lifting the prohibition on federal public research on gun violence (H.R. 2612), and requiring universal background checks for all gun sales (H.R. 1217)

“Gun violence is an epidemic in our country,” Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “We just had the deadlist mass shooting in American history in Orlando when a man full of hate murdered 49 people because of their sexual orientation. That was on top of another 6,000 people who had been murdered by guns this year. This country needs to wake up and pass meaningful gun safety reform like renewing the assault weapons ban and keeping guns out of Congress have blocked us even having a vote on these bills is a degrace. These reforms won’t imfringe upon the Second Amendment- hunters don’t need assault rifles- but they will save lives”

“All of us mourn the loss of life in Orlando, but thoughts, prayers, and moments of silence are no longer sufficient,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. “Enough is enough. There is a range of policy options Congress could adopt that would make a difference. Restoring an assault rifle ban and preventing those on the FBI Terror Watchlist from purchasing guns are common sense first steps. If House Republicans fail to act on ideas like these, they are abdicating their fundamental responsibility to keep the American people safe.”

“Since the Pulse Night Club Shooting in Orlando that killed 49 LGBT & Latino people and injured many others, we have witnessed the work that still needs to be done not only for the LGBTQ community,.”  said Secretary Stonewall Democrats of New York City Bryan Ellicott. “We also need to figure out how to deal with the continuing problem of gun violence in this country. We need 100% full equality under the law for all members of the LGBTQ community. Especially those who are transgender and gender non-conforming. We need gun control laws that will keep guns out of the hands of those who wish to do harm to ALL communities especially because of who you are or who you love. We need to join together as a community of human beings and stop pointing figures and come up with the solution so this stops happening”

 

What is Best for Staten Island? Winning the race for Congress in the 11th District

While we are all focused on the Primary coming up in New York State on April 19th. Whether you are #FeelinTheBern or #ImWithHer just #MakeSureYouVote

April 19th (1)

We also need to be focused on the many races going on for Congress. That is how we move forward and make sure issues like #HB2 that are dangerous to the transgender and gender non-conforming people of this country don’t happen again.

One of those races is the New York 11th Congressional District coming this November as well.

If you take the #StatenIsandFerry into work this morning, be on the look out for myself and the Democratic Candidate for Congress in the 11th NY District. Richard Reichard

As a favor to me and #ReichardForCongress follow him and like on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Accounts.

He need your support to carry my message throughout #StatenIsland & #Brooklyn. #ReichardForCongress #InvestInAmerica #VoteBlue#Democrat

Please donate to the campaign and ask others.
tinyurl.com/richardreichard

Meet Richard ReichardDemocratic Candidate for Congress at the Staten Island Ferry

Clay Aiken Considers a Run for Congress in North Carolina

According too sources at The Washington Blade former American Idol Season Two Runner-up and LGBT activist and openly gay man Clay Aiken now at the age 35 is considering a run for Congress. Clay Aiken would make the bid for to be the Representative of the 2nd District in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Aiken has been doing a lot of work with organizations focusing on range of issues. Aiken has been a member part of organizations such as National Inclusion Project which Diane Bubel and himself founded together in 2003, he’s been a UNICEF Ambassador since 2004 and, has also promoted GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), he joined his fellow celebrities in filming an educational video for Cyndi Lauper’s web based GIVE A DAMN CAMPAIGN a project by her True Colors Fund.  

Aiken has spoken out in North Carolina politics mostly around LGBT related issues of Marriage Equality, with stances about the May 2012 Amendment One in North Carolina which defined marriage solely as a union between a man and a women, during an interview with CBS Face the Nation Aiken said “The polls in North Carolina show that over sixty percent of North Carolinians actually support some recognition for same sex couples be it civil unions or domestic partnerships,” he goes on too say “As North Carolinians see what it’s done, and what it will do, I think they will support the fact that President Obama did speak out on principle…I think we’d like to see politicians speak out on principle a little more.”

Aiken is consulting member of the Democratic Party of North reconsideration a run for Congress in his home state of North Carolina for the November 2014 on the Democratic Party Line.

A seat currently being held by Republican Renee Ellmers, she has filed the papers for a re-elected have been filed for her and a possible opponent Republican Frank Roche to have a primary for the Republican side of the ballot.  

Republican Congresswomen Ellmers has represented the district since January 2011 and is planning to run for re-election. Jim Duncan, the chairman of the Chatham County Republican Party and co-founder of the grassroots organization, The Coalition for American Principles, considered a run against Ellmers in the primary, but decided against it. Frank Roche, a conservative Internet talk show host who ran for Congress in District 4 in 2010, is running against Ellmers in the primary.

Both Politico and The Washington Blade have reported that Aiken met with the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) and couple North Carolina operatives in the Raleigh Area.

The Washing Blade could not confirm for the record if the idea of Aiken’s of political inspirations for the upcoming Congressional cycle or anything even in the future.

Aiken is however in a bit of a time crunch for filing for the race, he will need to file all campaign paperwork by Feb 28th. Aiken wouldn’t be the only democrat on the ticket either he has the potential for a primary challenger, Former Perdue administration commerce secretary has also mention a run against Ellmers for the race in 2014. 

 

Image

10 Important Transgender Moments of 2013

Working with Keisling and the National Center of Transgender Equality, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the most important transgender moments of 2013. Read on to learn more about the victories that made 2013 a tipping point in the fight for trans visibility and equality.

1. Trans-Inclusive Antiviolence Programs

In February, Congress passed the first explicitly LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination law at the national level as part of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The law protects LGBT people from discrimination in programs such as domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers, and allows federal grants to focus on antiviolence work for LGBT people.

2. Historic 2-1 Senate Vote for ENDA

The first U.S. Senate vote on a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act was a remarkable triumph. Only a single senator spoke in opposition to the bill, and 10 Republicans joined 54 Democrats in voting for ENDA. In the coming months, advocates will continue building Republican support in the House and put pressure on Speaker John Boehner to bring the bill up for a vote.

3. Strides for Transgender Students

Almost every month has brought new signs of progress in eliminating barriers and strengthening opportunities for transgender students. In February, Massachusetts education officials released the strongest statewide rules to date protecting trans students, following Washington and Connecticut. In June, the Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled that a school committed unlawful discrimination by requiring a transgender girl to use a staff restroom instead of the girls’ restroom. In July, the U.S. Justice Department entered a landmark Title IX settlement requiring a California school district to treat a transgender boy “the same as other male students in all respects,” and in August, California passed legislation making this application of the law explicit.

4. Social Security Eases Gender Rules

In June, the Social Security Administration eased its requirements for changing your gender designation in SSA records. The move brought Social Security into line with rules for U.S. passports and immigration documents, and similar rules for veterans wishing to amend their gender on service records. The change also helps eliminate confusion, embarrassment, and increased exposure to discrimination when trans people interact with SSA staff or other government offices.

5. States Stand Against Insurance Discrimination

In 2013, five states and the District of Columbia began telling insurance companies for the first time that excluding transgender-specific health care from their plans constitutes unlawful discrimination. At least some plans in CaliforniaColoradoOregonVermontD.C., and Connecticut are already updating plans to comply, providing individuals with coverage of medically necessary care for the first time. While many corporations and universities are eliminating exclusions voluntarily — and finding there’s no added cost to doing so — those buying insurance on their own may need to look to their states to take action.

And on January 1, a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, took effect, barring insurance companies from denying policies to people for being transgender.

6. State and Local Equality Laws Advance in Delaware, Puerto Rico, and Elsewhere

Efforts continued in red, purple, and blue states alike to pass laws to protect LGBT people in jobs, housing, and other settings. Delaware became the 17th state to include gender identity in itsnondiscrimination policy in June, but less noticed was passage of LGBT protections in Puerto Rico. Local laws also continued to advance, expanding protections in locales ranging from San Antonio, Texas, to Fargo, N.D.

7. A Record Year for Visibility

Positive visibility for trans people in America seems to grow with each passing year. This year, that visibility was led by a wave of human interest stories on transgender young people and their families, and by the critically acclaimed performance of Laverne Cox on the hit show Orange Is the New BlackJennifer Pritzker became the first transgender person to be named to Forbes’ annual list of the 400 richest Americans. In August, Chelsea Manning made international news when she came out as transgender in a statement delivered by her lawyer during a segment on the Today show. Manning’s public announcement sparked intense conversation over the correct way to portray trans people in the media as well as debate on medical treatment for transgender prisoners.

8. Name and Birth Certificate Changes Get Easier in California, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. 

While half of states now make it relatively easy to update the gender on a driver’s license, efforts are also under way to ease the basic step of legally changing names and the often more difficult step of updating one’s birth certificate. This year Oregon and the District of Columbia joined at least three other states in guaranteeing that individuals won’t be required to show proof of surgery to update their birth certificates. D.C. also joined the nearly 50 percent of states that have eliminated requirements that name changes be published in the newspaper, an expensive and intimidating step for many trans people. Similar legislation has been proposed in California and Hawaii.

9. Depathologizing Gender Identity Issues

In May, the American Psychiatric Association published the fifth version of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, officially renaming “gender identity disorder” as “gender dysphoria,” and formally recognizing that it is not a trans person’s innate identity that may call for treatment, but rather the distress some feel about an identity, body, and social role that don’t line up. The APA also issued statements condemning antitrans discrimination and specifically calling for insurance coverage of health care for transgender people.

10. Hope for Transgender Prisoners

As calls for scaling back America’s reliance on imprisonment grow from Texas to the White House, major steps are being taken to keep trans people safe when they’re behind bars safe. In Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, America’s third-largest jail was the latest to adopt comprehensive policies that include housing prisoners based on their gender identity, following standards from the U.S. Justice Department.

Image