8 Times The Supreme Court Ruled On LGBT Rights

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case on December 5, 2017

On December 5, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which puts the state’s public accommodations law against “sincerely held religious beliefs” opposing marriage equality.gay cake

After Colorado bakery owner Jack Phillips refused to sell a wedding cake to David Mullins and Charlie Craig because it was against his religious beliefs, the couple filed complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, which determined that Phillips was at fault. In 2015, a Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed that decision, but Phillips maintains the state’s anti-discrimination law violates his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.

The case could have serious implications for both anti-discrimination statutes and so-called religious freedom laws that enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination. But it’s far from the first time our rights have come before the Supreme Court. Below, we look at the high court’s history with the LGBT community.

  1. One, Inc. v. Olesen (1958)Founded in 1952, ONE, Inc. was the first LGBT organization in the U.S. to have its own offices. Its magazine, One: The Homosexual Agenda, came a year later and is believed to be the first mass-produced gay publication in America, sold through the mail and on newsstands in L.A.

    In October 1954, the FBI and the Postmaster General of Los Angeles declared One obscene and refused to deliver it. The publishers sued and, though they lost the case and subsequent appeal, the took their case to the Supreme Court. Their victory marked the first time the high court sided with the LGBT community.

    The magazine ceased publication in December 1969.

By Dan Avery, NewNowNext.com, November 20, 2017

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Yet another study finds kids with same-sex parents do just as well as those with straight parents

More than a third of Americans think LGB people should not be able to adopt kids

Kids with same-sex parents are doing just fine, according to a new study.

In news shocking no one but homophobes, the study analyzed data from the American National Health Interview Survey from 2013 to 2015 and proved kids with same-sex parents do just as well as kids with straight parents.

The researchers looked at data for around 21,000 children between the ages of 4 and 17. The survey analyzed the emotional, mental and psychological health of both children and parents.

It’s the latest research in a flood of previous studies proving same-sex parents are just as qualified in raising kids. In fact, some studies suggest they’re even better.

This study found there is no increased difficulties for kids with homosexual partners. It did, however, find kids with bisexual parents had slightly poorer scores.

Researchers then took into account the psychological stress suffered by the parents and the difference vanished.

They theorize this is probably a result of the hardships parents face in a society that stigmatize their sexual orientation.

The authors suggest a ‘more inclusive society might help reduce that stress, and improve the mental wellbeing of kids with bisexual parents.’

Lead author Dr Jerel Calzo, from the San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health said: ‘As lesbian, gay, and bisexual parented families become more visible, the findings bolster previous studies revealing that children raised in these families have comparable psychological well-being compared with children raised by heterosexual parents.

‘In addition, the results indicate the need for continued investment in strategies to prevent sexual orientation–based discrimination. And to support sexual minority parents who may experience minority stress,’ he said.

gaystarnews.com, November 10, 2017 by James Besanvalle

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‘Traditional Values’: A Potent Weapon Against LGBT Rights

In April, news broke of a widespread anti-gay purge in Chechnya; in September, gay men and transgender women were rounded up in Azerbaijan; and in October reports emerged that a registry of gay men and lesbians was being compiled by the authorities in Tajikistan.

How might we understand these disparate events as part of a trend in these three former Soviet countries?  

The rhetoric of regional leaders and their modus operandi show that these events are linked by a discourse on so-called traditional values that situates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as the aberrant ‘other.’  The idea of a timeless, unchanging tradition is particularly powerful in these times of social uncertainty, political instability, and economic pressure. traditional values

This chain of events began in earnest in 2013 with Russia’s federal propaganda law, banning the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors.”  The law had a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Violence with impunity against LGBT people in Russia spiked.  The propaganda law doesn’t ban sexual relations between members of the same sex. Rather it targets all media and public activities which ”try to portray homosexuality as normal behaviour.”

Similar propaganda-style legislation has been discussed in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine, leading to an increase in public discourse on traditional values as a way to sabotage the rights of LGBT people throughout the region. The echoes of traditional values rhetoric can of course be heard much further afield including in Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Uganda.  Russia is not directly responsible for this proliferation of laws outlawing the promotion of homosexuality, or for the renewed zeal for using existing morality laws against LGBT people, such as in Egypt. But Russia has positioned itself as the champion of traditional values, both domestically and internationally.

‘Decadent Modernity & Wholesome Tradition’

Russia and Egypt have long led the charge against the advance of the rights of LGBT people at the United Nations, focusing their efforts on traditional values and family values and opposing any mention of sexual orientation, gender identity, or even gender. 

Traditional Values is the staple language of Russia’s alliance with countries from the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Africa Group at the United Nations.  The rights of LGBT people are the wedge issue used to undermine the universality of human rights and to position Russia in opposition to the West on the global stage.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, used this approach in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014:  “A number of countries have recently seen a sudden and sometimes rather aggressive rise in the activities of those who support ultra-liberal ideas, advocating permissiveness and hedonism and demanding a revision of norms of morality and ethics shared by all world religions.” Lavrov articulated a powerful rhetorical divide in which the world is split between decadent modernity and wholesome tradition. It has served its purpose well, as a clever shorthand against human rights.

It is in this geopolitical context that the words and actions of leaders in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Chechnya, a region within Russia, need to be understood. 

By Graeme Reid, November 4, 2017 – emerging-europa.com

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PGS – New Study addresses impact of preimplantation genetic screening on donor oocyte-recipient cycles in the United States

Preimplantation genetic screening, or PGS, as practiced in donor oocyte-recipient cycles over the past 9 years, has not been associated with improved odds of live birth or reduction in miscarriage rates.

PGS Study ObjectivePGS, PGD

Our objective was to estimate the contribution of preimplantation genetic screening to in vitro fertilization pregnancy outcomes in donor oocyte-recipient cycles.

PGS Study Design

This was a retrospective cross-sectional study of US national data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic Outcome Reporting System between 2005 and 2013. Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic Outcome Reporting relies on voluntarily annual reports by more than 90% of US in vitro fertilization centers. We evaluated pregnancy and live birth rates in donor oocyte-recipient cycles after the first embryo transfer with day 5/6 embryos. Statistical models, adjusted for patient and donor ages, number of embryos transferred, race, infertility diagnosis, and cycle year were created to compare live birth rates in 392 preimplantation genetic screening and 20,616 control cycles.

PGS Results

Overall, pregnancy and live birth rates were significantly lower in preimplantation genetic screening cycles than in control cycles. Adjusted odds of live birth for preimplantation genetic screening cycles were reduced by 35% (odds ratio, 0.65, 95% confidence interval, 0.53–0.80; P < .001).

PGS Conclusion

Preimplantation genetic screening, as practiced in donor oocyte-recipient cycles over the past 9 years, has not been associated with improved odds of live birth or reduction in miscarriage rates.

November 2017, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 

Click here to read the entire text of the study.

A man tortured in Chechnya for being gay dares to go public with his story

For the first time since gruesome accounts of the systematic detention and torture of gay men began leaking out of Russia’s republic of Chechnya, a young man has gone public with his story.

Maxim Lapunov, 30, told reporters on Monday that he was demanding justice from the Russian government for the 12 days he spent locked in a blood-soaked jail cell, led out daily with a plastic bag over his head to be beaten by police officers demanding he confess to being gay.Chechnya victim

Human rights activists and journalists say that up to 100 people, mainly young gay men, were caught up in what has been called a “gay pogrom” carried out by Chechen police and officials earlier this year. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the campaign of violence, saying that Chechnya “has no gays.”

Lapunov, who moved to Chechnya in 2015 and made a living as an entertainer, said he was selling balloons in March near a mall in Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, when he was detained by plainclothes police officers and forced into a car. He was driven to a police station.

“The charge was that I am gay,” Lapunov, dressed in a white T-shirt and blue cardigan, told reporters on Monday in a news conference at the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which has published several explosive reports on the alleged torture of gay men in Chechnya. 

When he refused a confession, he was led into a jail cell soaked with fresh blood, where he could hear “screams and groans” coming from somewhere in the bowels of the police station. Officers placed a plastic bag over his head with just a hole to breathe through, led him to an interrogation room, and forced his face against a wall and beat his “legs, hips, buttocks, back,” he said. “They would stop briefly just to let me breathe. They made me get up when I was falling, and it went on and on.”

“I thought they would kill me no matter what happened,” he said, wiping away tears. 

Lapunov, who is ethnically Russian, is the first person to make a formal complaint to Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee challenging a government narrative that the “gay pogrom” in Chechnya never existed because no victims have come forward. Tanya Lokshina, the local head for Human Rights Watch, said that ethnic Chechen victims have been resistant to go public because of fear of retribution by their families.

by Andrew Roth – Washington Post, October 16, 2017

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Did National Park Service Disrespect the Rainbow Flag?

A ceremony dedicating a rainbow flag flying near New York City’s Stonewall Inn went off today with some controversy over the National Park Service’s participation — or lack thereof.

The bar is known for the series of uprisings against police raids in 1969, a reaction that helped birth the modern LGBT rights movement. An area near the nightclub was designated a National Monument, under Park Service management, by President Barack Obama in 2016, reflecting the site’s historic significance. The Stonewall itself remains a working bar under private ownership. gay hate

The rainbow flag, symbolizing LGBT pride, went up September 28, and the dedication ceremony was scheduled for today, which is National Coming Out Day as well as the 30th anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The Park Service was set to take part in the ceremony, along with several LGBT activists, but pulled out as the day approached, drawing criticism from organizers.

Newsweek ran an article about the dedication last week, and it included quotes from some organizers denouncing the anti-LGBT actions of Donald Trump and his administration. By Friday night, a National Park Service flag flying alongside the rainbow flag had been removed and replaced with a New York City Parks flag, organizer Ken Kidd told The Washington Post. Then Barbara Applebaum, the Park Service official who was to speak at the ceremony, canceled.

“Since planning began this past summer, the NPS had been wholly cooperative,” Kidd said in a press release. “This abrupt turnaround as well as the NPS distancing itself from this event is more evidence of the Trump administration’s campaign to reduce LGBT people to second-class American citizens. It’s no coincidence that this comes on the heels of Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions’s support of religious rights over LGBT civil rights.”

A Park Service official, however, said the issue was whether the flagpole was on city property or NPS property. Jon Laird, commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor, told the Postthe NPS determined that the pole was on city land, not the area that constitutes the park. “We did send mixed signals here, which was very unfortunate,” he told the paper. “It became a much bigger deal than we ever expected.”

Applebaum ended up changing her schedule so she could attend the ceremony, and Laird was there as well. He offered to speak, but organizers turned him away. “We said, no, you will not speak,” longtime activist Ann Northrop, who emceed the ceremony, told the Post. “This is completely just mean-spirited bigotry on their part, to find a technicality to pull out of what they had already agreed upon and worked on for a week.”

Laird denied that bigotry was involved and said no officials in Washington had raised concerns about the flag dedication, according to the Post. The rainbow flag, he emphasized, has never been taken down, and the NPS has donated it to the city. “It’s still up, it’s still flying there,” Laird said of the flag. “Visitors to Stonewall National Monument will see it, and 99 percent of them will not care if it’s on our property or [the city’s] property.”

Advocate.com, October 11, 2017

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Coming Out in the Trump Era

National Coming Out Day. More important than ever.

Our country feels very different than it did a year ago on the last National Coming Out Day, when the prospect of an LGBTQ-friendly president was still possible. Now, however, the day feels even more like a time for activism and resistance.adoption and surroagcy

As Harvey Milk said, “Coming out is the most political thing you can do.” It is also, of course, one of the most personal. And while some of us may be out to a degree that lets us feel comfortable joining resistance marches, calling our elected officials, or writing op-eds to our local papers, others of us may not. As parents, we may fear the loss of a job that feeds our kids or worry that our kids will be bullied or harassed because of their parents. We may worry about being turned away by child service agencies. Personal and family safety and security is vital, and I cannot tell anyone to ignore that.

Mombian.com, by Dana Rudolph – October 11, 2017

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The evolution of LGBT parenting in the UK: Celebrating a decade of change

Insights in LGBT Parenting in the UK

In the UK, we’re fortunate to live in an open-minded inclusive society, but the law has not always reflected that – as recently as the 1990s, UK legislation actively discriminated against non-traditional families seeking fertility treatment to become parents. But the past 15 years spans a legal and social revolution for same-sex parents, and it is now easier than ever before for LGBT parents to start a family in the UK.lgbt parenting in the UK

As the UK marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality (following the Sexual Offences Act 1967), here is an overview of some of the key milestones in the journey to increase access to family-building options for same-sex couples:

1990: the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act introduced regulation for UK fertility clinics. Under the new law, fertility clinics had to consider a child’s ‘need for a father’ before offering treatment, aiming to restrict fertility treatment for single women and lesbian couples.

2004: the Civil Partnership Act created – in all but name – marriage for same-sex couples, giving property, pension, inheritance and other benefits to couples who registered as civil partners.

2005: same-sex partners were allowed to adopt their partner’s children, and couples were allowed to adopt unrelated children together. For the first time, children in the UK could have legal parents of the same sex.

2008: following a review of 1990 laws, fertility clinics no longer had to consider the child’s “need for a father”, and it was made clear they should not discriminate against same-sex couples. New parenthood laws also enabled female same-sex couples to be recorded on their children’s birth certificates together if they conceived through sperm donation, and enabled male same-sex couples to apply for a parental order (giving them a birth certificate recording them both as their child’s legal parents) if they conceived through surrogacy.

2015: same-sex parents with a child born through surrogacy were given the right to adoption leave (so that one parent could claim the equivalent to maternity leave and pay, and the other paternity leave and pay).

2016: a key High Court decision ruled that the law discriminated unfairly against single parents who conceived through surrogacy. In response, the government announced plans to change the law to allow single parents – as well as couples – to become the legal parents of a child born through surrogacy.

What does the future hold?

We have come a long way over the past 15 years, but we are not quite there yet. There remains problems with the law on surrogacy, and for birth certificates for transgender and multiple-parent families.

by Natalie Gamble – gaystarnews.com, September 29, 2017

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Judge Analyzes Tax Deduction for Gay Parenthood in His First Opinion

“This is a tax case. Fear not, keep reading.”

So began the first published opinion of Judge Kevin Newsom of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last month. As Newsom viewed it, the dispute over Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code required a detailed analysis of the birds and the bees.

At issue was an appeal by a gay man who maintained the Internal Revenue Service should have granted a $9,539 tax refund for $36,000 in medical services he funded in 2011 trying to conceive a baby through in vitro fertilization and a surrogate mother. Joseph F. Morrissey claimed the tax code allowed the deduction and the IRS violated his equal protection rights by denying it.tax deduction

The IRS rejected the claim on the grounds Morrissey’s medical expenses didn’t meet the definitions of Section 213, which allows deductions for medical care of a “taxpayer, his spouse, or a dependent.”

Morrissey sued, but U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara in Tampa ruled for the IRS. The Eleventh Circuit held oral argument on Aug. 24. Newsom, Circuit Judge Charles Wilson and visiting U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno of Miami affirmed a month later.

In the 25-page ruling, Newsom dissected the tax code as it applied to human reproduction. He noted the code defined “medical care” as “amounts paid … for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body.”

Morrissey’s brief argued, “Because reproduction is a bodily function, the medical procedures employing Morrissey’s sperm to assist his biological conception of a child affected a function of his body. Morrissey therefore satisfies the statutory standard, as do the heterosexuals for whom the IRS allows the deduction of the very expenses denied here.”

But in the opinion, Newsom used Webster’s dictionary definitions of “affect” and “function” to rephrase Morrissey’s claim to show its failings: that his expenses for egg donation and surrogacy were incurred “for the purpose of materially influencing or altering (i.e., “affecting”) an action for which Mr. Morrissey’s own body is specifically fitted, used, or responsible (i.e., his body’s “function.”)

That position “mistakes the entire reproductive process for his own body’s specific function within that process,” Newsom added.

He offered “a primer on the science of human reproduction,” starting with asexual organisms and leading in humans to “the bottom line: the male body’s distinctive function in the reproductive process is limited and discrete” to providing healthy sperm.

If the $1,500 Morrissey spent on providing that sperm for the in vitro process had been a sufficient percentage of his adjusted gross income, those expenses could have been deducted, Newsom wrote. But the rest of the $36,000 spent on conception and surrogacy in 2011 didn’t affect Morrissey’s own reproductive function, so they couldn’t be deducted from his income.

On Morrissey’s equal protection claim, Newsom held that, although procreation is generally considered a fundamental right, procreating through in vitro fertilization of eggs from an unrelated third-party donor and the use of a surrogate is not.

How gay dads manage without paid paternity leave

When his first daughter was born in 2009, Brent Wright, like many parents, did not have paid paternity leave.

Unlike many parents, he and his spouse faced some unique challenges. Because both are men, neither parent had access to a paid maternity leave policy. Because they adopted, their time away from the office began with travel to a nearby city to meet the birth mother.gay parents adoption

To make time for bonding at home with their new daughter, they cobbled together vacation and sick days while Wright, 51, negotiated a leave of absence to stay home with newborn Olivia. Scrambling to finagle time with their daughter complicated their entry into parenthood.

“That was very stressful,” Wright said.

Wright is not alone. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees eligible workers up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave. But when it comes to paid paternity leave, just 14 percent of civilian workers had access to paid family leave in 2016, according to Pew Research Center.

In contrast, nearly every member of the European Union provides at least 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and 84 countries offer some paid leave to fathers.

Limited leave policies disproportionately impact gay dads and adoptive parents, argues Paid Leave for the United States, an organization pushing for expanded paid leave. A June report examined policies at 44 of the country’s largest employers and found the majority gave little or no paid parental leave to dads and adoptive parents. This makes the first weeks of parenthood for gay dads difficult — scrambling to find time to settle in a new son or daughter, securing and paying for child care.

By Allison Bowen, Contact reporter, September 26, 2017

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