Catholic Teacher Fired After Marrying Her Girlfriend

Parents at a Catholic school in Miami said they were astounded that administrators had fired a first-grade teacher just days after she married her girlfriend, and now some of the teacher’s supporters on the faculty are scared that the school will retaliate against them as well.

Catholic school teacher fired after marrying her girlfriend.  The teacher, Jocelyn Morffi, was by all accounts one of the most popular educators at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School in Miami, where she taught for nearly seven years.

“I consider her the Mother Teresa of teachers,” Samantha Mills, a parent whose son was in Ms. Morffi’s class last year, said on Monday.catholic teacher fired

But on Feb. 8, Ms. Mills and other parents at the school received an email from the principal saying that the school had made a “difficult and necessary decision,” and that Ms. Morffi would no longer be teaching at the school. The email was shared with The New York Times.

She was fired just days after marrying her girlfriend of about two years.

“The kids are very confused,” said Vanessa Almeida, whose children were tutored by Ms. Morffi. “My son said, ‘Mommy, I heard that Ms. Morffi got fired for getting married,’ and he looked at me and said, ‘What’s so bad about that?’”

On Friday, Ms. Morffi spoke out in a statement on Instagram.

“This weekend I married the love of my life and unfortunately I was terminated from my job as a result,” she wrote in the post. “In their eyes I’m not the right kind of Catholic for my choice in partner.”

Mary Ross Agosta, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Miami, said in an email on Monday that Ms. Morffi was fired because she violated a contract stipulating that teachers must abide by Catholic teachings and traditions.

She declined to say whether Ms. Morffi had been fired for marrying a woman, noting that it was “a personnel issue.”

Four teachers attended the wedding, one of them told The Times on Wednesday. She asked not to be named out of fear for her career.

by Christina Caron, New York Times, February 17, 2018

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Transgender Woman Breast-Feeds Baby After Hospital Induces Lactation

When a transgender woman told doctors at a hospital in New York that she wanted to breast-feed her pregnant partner’s baby, they put her on a regimen of drugs that included an anti-nausea medication licensed in Britain and Canada but banned in the United States.

Within a month, according to the journal Transgender Health, the woman, 30, who was born male, was producing droplets of milk. Within three months — two weeks before the baby’s due date — she had increased her production to eight ounces of milk a day.three-parent baby

In the end, the study showed, “she was able to achieve sufficient breast milk volume to be the sole source of nourishment for her child for six weeks,” according to the journal.

Dr. Tamar Reisman and Zil Goldstein, a nurse practitioner, of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York, say the case illustrates that, in some circumstances, modest but functional lactation can be induced in transgender women who did not give birth or undergo surgery.

“We believe that this is the first formal report in the medical literature of induced lactation in a transgender woman,” said the study’s authors, Dr. Reisman and Ms. Goldstein, a transgender activist and program director at the center. They were not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

New York Times by Ceylon Yeginsu, February 15, 2018

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Tom Daley And Dustin Lance Black Expecting First Child Together

Congratulations are in order for British Olympic diver Tom Daley and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

The couple announced they are expecting their first child together on Wednesday. Each shared photos of themselves on their separate social media accounts holding up the same ultrasound photo.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Daley wrote in the caption, while Black added, “A Happy Valentine’s Day from ours to yours.”

Both complimented their posts with a same-sex family emoji just in case the message wasn’t clear.

By Cole Delbyck huffingtonpost.com, February 14, 2018

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Bermuda Outlaws Gay Marriage, Less Than a Year After It Became Legal

Bermuda has forbidden same-sex marriage, only nine months after legalizing it, in what advocates for gay and lesbian rights called a disappointing setback.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Bermuda, a British overseas territory, in May as a result of a ruling by the island’s Supreme Court.

But the unions are unpopular with some voters.Bermuda

In 2016, Bermudians voted against same-sex marriage in a referendum, and after the court ruling in May, the territory’s legislature drafted a bill banning same-sex marriage but giving all couples legal recognition as domestic partners. Parliament adopted the Domestic Partnership Act in December, and on Wednesday the territory’s governor, John Rankin, signed it into law.

The British prime minister, Theresa May, said Britain was “seriously disappointed,” but the Foreign Office said on Thursday it would be inappropriate to block the measure.

Same-sex marriage became legal in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014, but it is not permitted in Northern Ireland. The issue has been divisive in Britain’s overseas territories, which control their own internal affairs but rely on Britain for defense and for representation in the international community.

by Mafen Specia, New York Times – February 8, 2018

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NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Signs LGBT Anti-Discrimination Order

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed an executive order that prohibits state entities from doing business with any company that promotes or tolerates discrimination.

Cuomo announced the order at Saturday’s Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Greater New York Gala, where he also promised New York would lead the nation on ending the AIDS epidemic and announced plans to introduce legislation this session that would put an end to the so-called gay panic defense.Cuomo

The Democrat said that his order was a direct response to President Donald Trump’s policies.

“The Trump administration gave the attorney general a license to discriminate by interpreting ‘religious liberty’ protections in the federal law. What that means is a business can refuse to serve LGBTQ individuals because it violates their religious beliefs. They did that. So, today I’m signing an executive order prohibiting New York state government from doing any business with any entity that discriminates against any New Yorker, period,” Cuomo said at Saturday’s event.

by Carlos Santascoy, ontopmag.com February 6, 2018

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Lesbian couple sues for son’s US citizenship

A same-sex couple is suing the US government alleging discrimination because one of their children was not granted American citizenship.

US citizen Allison Blixt and her Italian wife Stefania Zaccari had two babies in London, England.

The spouses each carried one child to term using their own eggs and an unknown sperm donor.citizenship

American citizenship was granted to Ms Blixt’s son, Massimiliano, but not to Ms Zaccari’s boy, says the lawsuit.

The US Department of State has not commented on the allegations.

According to the agency’s website, “at least one biological parent must have been a US citizen when the child was born” for a child to qualify for birthright citizenship.

Ms Blixt and Ms Zaccari are listed on both children’s birth certificates, and English law recognises them as the boys’ parents, according to their lawsuit filed in Washington DC.

The court filing says the US consulate denied citizenship to Ms Zaccari’s child, Lucas, now two years old, on the grounds that he was not a blood relation and that he was born “out of wedlock”.

However, lawyers for Ms Zaccari and Illinois-born Ms Blixt say they were legally married in their adopted home of England before their sons’ births.

The lawsuit says that at the US consulate “Stefania and Allison were asked a series of invasive and legally irrelevant questions about how their children were conceived and born”.

The decision violates the Immigration and Nationality Act establishing that “babies born abroad are US citizens at birth when one of the child’s parents is a married United States citizen”, says the court filing.

After a law against same-sex marriage was overturned in the US in 2013, same-sex couples were allowed – like heterosexual couples – to bring their foreign spouses into America.

But the same ruling did not cover the children of same-sex couples, and legal advocates say this is discriminatory.

Ms Blixt told the Washington Post that she declined the offer to become her son’s legal stepmother and bring him to the US as an immigrant.

BBC.com January 22,2018

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State Dept. sued for denying citizenship to same-sex couples’ children

Two binational same-sex couples on Monday filed federal lawsuits against the State Department after their children were denied U.S. citizenship.

Andrew Dvash-Banks, who was born in Santa Monica, Calif., and his husband, Elad Dvash-Banks, who was born in Israel, were married in Toronto in 2010. The two men decided to live in Canada because the Defense of Marriage Act that President Clinton signed in 1996 prevented Andrew Dvash-Banks from sponsoring Elad Dvash-Banks for immigration purposes.citizenship

A surrogate gave birth to the men’s twin boys — Aiden Dvash-Banks and Ethan Dvash-Banks — in Mississauga, Ontario, on Sept. 16, 2016.

Aiden Dvash-Banks was conceived with Andrew Dvash-Banks’ sperm, while Ethan Dvash-Banks was conceived with Elad Dvash-Banks’ sperm. Canada recognizes both men as their children’s parents.

The 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Windsor case that struck down a portion of DOMA prompted the U.S. to legally recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the country. The U.S. Consulate in Toronto nevertheless denied the men’s request for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad — which certifies that a child who was born overseas was an American citizen at the time of their birth — and a U.S. passport for Ethan Dvash-Banks under Section 309 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act that specifically addresses “children born out of wedlock.”

“Focusing improperly on the biological relationship between each child and the parent who conceived him, the State Department then recognized Aiden’s citizenship and denied Ethan’s,” reads the lawsuit that Andrew Dvash-Banks filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The Dvash-Banks family moved to Los Angeles on June 24, 2017.

Andrew Dvash-Banks and Aiden Dvash-Banks are U.S. citizens, while Elad Dvash-Banks is a permanent resident. Ethan Dvash-Banks, who is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, was able to enter the U.S. on a tourist visa that expired on Dec. 23, 2017.

“All of Andrew and Elad’s professional, personal and familial commitments are in constant jeopardy of being undone if the Department of Homeland Security deports Ethan,” reads the lawsuit.

Andrew Dvash-Banks and Elan Dvash-Banks have applied for a green card for Ethan Dvash-Banks in order “to minimize the risk of deportation proceedings and having to face the choice of staying together as a family or staying in this country.”

Washington Blade, by Michael Lavers, January 22, 2018

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Report Shows Massive Increase In Anti-LGBTQ Violence Since Trump Took Office

LGBTQ Violence – It’s incredibly scary to be LGBTQ in Trump’s America.

The New York City Anti-Violence Project’s annual Crisis of Hate report shows a remarkable upsurge of hate-based killings of LGBTQ people.anti-lgbt, chechnya

According to the report, an 86 percent increase in hate violence homicides in the U.S. last year makes 2017 the deadliest year yet for the LGBTQ community. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, a coalition of 40 community-based anti-violence groups, noted the escalation toward the end of the presidential election cycle, and it shows no signs of slowing, according to Beverly Tillery, executive director of the project.

President Donald “Trump won the election by saying it was time to take back America for people feeling pushed out by LGBTQ people, immigrants and people of color,” Tillery told HuffPost.

“It was a tactical move to attack those communities,” she added. “It worked, and there are more instances of violence because the climate in the country has changed. It has given an opening for people to feel like they can commit acts of hate-based violence without much repercussion.”

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs recorded 52 LGTBQ hate-based homicides in 2017 ― an average of one each week. That’s a sharp increase from 28 single-incident anti-LGTBQ homicides in 2016. (The Pulse Nightclub massacre, which killed 49 people in 2016, is not included when calculating single-incident homicides.)

Those slain last year include: 

John Jolly, a 55-year-old black cisgender man, was stabbed to death in August in Manhattan. Nathaniel “The Kidd Creole” Glover Jr., a former member of the 1980s hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, was charged with second-degree murder. According to the Daily News, Glover may have suspected Jolly was hitting on him.

Juan Javier Cruz, a 22-year-old Latinx cisgender man, was fatally shot In August in Lake Worth, Florida. Cruz was reportedly defending a group of friends against homophobic slurs. Nelson Hernandez Mena has been charged in the killing.

Giovanni Melton, a 14-year-old black cisgender man, was fatally shot in October in Henderson, Nevada. Melton’s father, Wendell Melton, is charged. The elder Melton was allegedly upset about his son’s sexuality and the fact his son had a boyfriend.

Huffington Post, January 22, 2018 by David Lohr
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One Day Your Mind May Fade. At Least You’ll Have a Plan.

When Ann Vandervelde visited her primary care doctor in August, he had something new to show her.

Dr. Barak Gaster, an internist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, had spent three years working with specialists in geriatrics, neurology, palliative care and psychiatry to come up with a five-page document that he calls a dementia-specific advance directive.

In simple language, it maps out the effects of mild, moderate and severe dementia, and asks patients to specify which medical interventions they would want — and not want — at each phase of the illness.living will, health care proxy, medical power of attorney

“Patients stumble into the advanced stage of dementia before anyone identifies it and talks to them about what’s happening,” Dr. Gaster told me. “At what point, if ever, would they not want medical interventions to keep them alive longer? A lot of people have strong opinions about this, but it’s hard to figure out how to let them express them as the disease progresses.”

One of those with strong opinions, it happens, was Ms. Vandervelde, 71, an abstract painter in Seattle. Her father had died of dementia years before, in a nursing home after her mother could no longer care for him at home. Ms. Vandervelde had also spent time with dementia patients as a hospice volunteer.

Further, caring for her mother in her final year, Ms. Vandervelde had seen how family conflicts could flare over medical decisions. “I was not going to leave that choice to my children if I could spare them that,” she said.

So when Dr. Gaster explained his directive, “it just made so much sense,” Ms. Vandervelde said. “While I could make these decisions, why not make them? I filled it out right there.”

Like a growing number of Americans over age 60, she already had a standard advance directive, designating a decision-maker (her husband) to direct her medical care if she became incapacitated.

Not all experts are convinced another directive is needed. But as Dr. Gaster and his co-authors recently argued in the journal JAMA, the usual forms don’t provide much help with dementia.

“The standard advance directives tend to focus on things like a ‘permanent coma’ or a ‘persistent vegetative state,’” Dr. Gaster said. “Most of the time, they apply to a person with less than six months to live.”

Although it’s a terminal disease, dementia often intensifies slowly, over many years. The point at which dementia patients can no longer direct their own care isn’t predictable or obvious.

Moreover, patients’ goals and preferences might well change over time. In the early stage, life may remain enjoyable and rewarding despite memory problems or difficulties with daily tasks.

“They have potentially many years in which they wouldn’t want a directive that says ‘do not resuscitate,’” Dr. Gaster said. But if severe dementia leaves them bedridden, unresponsive and dependent, they might feel differently — yet no longer be able to say so.

New York Times – January 19, 2018 by Paula Span

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These Are the Worst Anti-LGBT Bills Planned for 2018

From state-level bans on municipalities passing LGBT protections to bills that allow for anti-LGBT discrimination in child services, this homophobia could soon be enshrined in law.

2015 was the year of Indiana’s anti-LGBT “religious freedom” law.

2016 was the year of North Carolina’s ill-fated “bathroom bill.”

2017 was the year when Mississippi’s extreme law HB 1523 took effect—a fitting capstone to an already challenging year for LGBT Americans.LGBT Trump

If history repeats itself, 2018 will see another major state-level attack on LGBT people. But after the overreaching and headline-generating legislation of the past three years, a new report from the Human Rights Campaign suggests that we can expect state-level anti-LGBT bills to get narrower in focus, while remaining just as pointed in their intent.

In particular, the HRC’s new State Equality Index report warns of a “flurry” of anti-LGBT bills in 2018 that are more “sector-specific” than the “sweeping” bills of years past, focusing on areas like adoption, education, and wedding services. That narrowing of focus is a strategic move, according to HRC State Legislative Director Kate Oakley.

“After the Indiana RFRA in 2015 and HB 2 in North Carolina in 2016, it became harder for states to justify the tremendous amount of blowback that came with these sweeping anti-LGBTQ bills,” Oakley told The Daily Beast, adding that those high-profile failures certainly “didn’t stop states from trying.”

As 2018 state legislative sessions officially get underway, it’s becoming clear that some states are still trying—and that some of their efforts could fly under the national radar.

“Iowa, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia, and Oklahoma are states that are particularly likely to entertain anti-equality legislation,” the HRC report notes.

Proposed anti-LGBT bills in these states ranges from the broadly cruel to the bizarrely specific—and, so far, these bills have primarily been highlighted by local advocacy groups and media outlets.

In Iowa, for example, the state-level LGBT rights organization One Iowa noted in a petition that they expect to see “more efforts to weaken the Iowa Civil Rights Act” during the 2018 legislative session. 

by Samantha Allen, The Daily Beast, January 17, 2018

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