National Organization for Marriage Announces International Anti-LGBT Group

Brian Brown, director of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage and president of the anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families (WCF), has announced the launch of the International Organization for the Family (IOF).

IOF is the new name of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, which is the parent organization of WCF. The name and mission of the Howard Center have been re-tooled for an international arena, though WCF, which will remain a project of the IOF, according to Brown’s announcement, has always been extremely active internationally. Its world conferences serve as a key nexusfor religious right leaders and activists and the formulation of policies that are detrimental to LGBT people and reproductive health, and they provide a platform for anti-LGBT rhetoric and conspiracy theories

The IOF, which was ironically announced on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, has been in the works for a while.gay hate

In August of this year, the Howard Center sent out a letter to supporters signed by President Emeritus Allan Carlson, in which he stated that the Center’s board of trustees resolved to “sharpen the focus” of the organization “on international family questions” which reflect the reality “that key family policy battles now occur more frequently at the transnational level in bodies such as the U.N., the Organization of American States, and the European Union.” To that end, the board of directors of the Center resolved to change the organization’s name to IOF.  

The name of the Center’s policy journal is also changing from The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy to The Natural Family: An International Journal of Research and Policy, but senior editing staff remains the same.

In keeping with the mission of the Howard Center and WCF to dictate the so-called “natural family” –– that marriage is only for one man and one woman –– as the only correct way to be a family, IOF’s first order of business was to release the “Cape Town Declaration” at a WCF regional conference at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.

The declaration purports to affirm marriage as only between a man and a woman, and “the patrimony of all mankind” to secure for children the “birthright of all men: to know the faithful love of the man and woman whose union gave them life.” The declaration goes on to assert that a “thriving culture will therefore serve marriage — and all society —by promoting purity outside it and fidelity within.” These “thriving cultures” will also discourage pornography, adultery and divorce, and will resist attempts to “redefine marriage” to include “same-sex or group bonds, or sexually open or temporary ones.”

Southern Poverty Law Center – December 19, 20165

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Supreme Court Blocks Order Allowing Transgender Student Restroom Choice

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked a court order that had allowed a transgender boy to use the boys’ bathroom in a Virginia high school.

The vote was 5 to 3, with Justice Stephen G. Breyer joining the court’s more conservative members “as a courtesy.” He said that this would preserve the status quo until the court decided whether to hear the case. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

The court’s order has no effect on any other case.

new york probate process

The gavel of a judge in court

The move came amid a national debate over transgender rights. A North Carolina law that requires transgender people to use bathrooms in government buildings that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificates has drawn protests, boycotts and lawsuits. A directive from the Obama administration threatening schools with the loss of federal money for discrimination based on gender identity has been challenged in court by more than 20 states.

The case in the Supreme Court concerns Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as a male and will soon start his senior year at Gloucester High School in southeastern Virginia. For a time, school administrators allowed Mr. Grimm to use the boys’ bathroom, but the local school board adopted a policy that required students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms for their “corresponding biological genders.” The board added that “students with gender identity issues” would be allowed to use private bathrooms.

The Corrosive Politics That Threaten L.G.B.T. Americans

As families began planning funerals for the victims of Sunday’s rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., gay Americans mourned a loss that extended beyond the lives cut short.

Omar Mateen shattered the tenuous, hard-fought sense of personal safety that many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have begun to feel as the movement for equality has made significant gains in recent years. His bullets and the blood he left behind that early morning were a reminder that in many corners of the country, gay and transgender people are still regarded as sinners and second-class citizens who should be scorned.

While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians. Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish.LGBTQ

Since the 1990s, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have made considerable progress in the fight for equality under the law. By living openly and proudly, they have changed society’s attitudes about sexual orientation and gender identity. That shift has prompted politicians who were once wary about embracing equal rights for L.G.B.T. Americans — including President Obama and Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee — to become resolute allies. The 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage was celebrated by many in the gay community as the crowning achievement of a decades-long quest for respect and dignity.

Yet, that fight remains far from over. Since the marriage ruling, several Republican-led state legislatures and Republican governors and federal lawmakers have redoubled their fight against legal protections for people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. So far this year, more than 200 anti-L.G.B.T. bills have been introduced in 34 states.

Donald Trump, unlike some other prominent Republicans, called the Orlando massacre what it was: an attack on gay people. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, could not even offer that recognition to a community in pain.

Yet, Mr. Trump has vowed to choose Supreme Court justices who would overturn marriage equality, and he supports the deceptively named First Amendment Defense Act, an effort to approve discrimination against gay and transgender people nationwide under the guise of religious freedom. And Mr. Trump backtracked from his statement that transgender people should be able to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity after Senator Ted Cruz used his words to attack him during the nomination fight.

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by The Editorial Board – New York Times – June 15, 2016

Conversion Therapy Banned by Governor Cuomo Through Executive Actions Banning Coverage By Private Insurers

Multi-agency regulations announced today ban public and private health care insurers from covering conversion therapy in New York State

Governor Cuomo: “We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are.”

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a series of comprehensive regulations to prevent the practice of so-called lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender “conversion therapy,” which has been deemed harmful to patients by a wide variety of leading medical and mental health professionals. Multi-agency regulations announced today ban public and private health care insurers from covering the practice in New York State, and also prohibit various mental health facilities across the state from conducting the practice on minors.

“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for,” said Governor Cuomo. “New York has been at the forefront of acceptance and equality for the LGBT community for decades – and today we are continuing that legacy and leading by example. We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are.”

CONVERSION

The New York State Department of Financial Services is issuing regulations barring New York insurers from providing coverage for conversion therapy given to an individual under the age of 18. Additionally, the New York State Department of Health is prohibiting coverage of conversion therapy under New York’s Medicaid program and the New York State Office of Mental Health is issuing regulations prohibiting facilities under its jurisdiction from providing conversion therapy treatment to minors.

Conversion therapy – which refers to therapy intended to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity – has been repudiated by many medical and professional organizations, including: the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Counseling Association; the American Psychiatric Association; the American Psychological Association; the American School Counselor Association; the National Association of School Psychologists; and the National Association of Social Workers.

“Governor Cuomo and the State of New York are commended for taking a principled and scientific stand,” said American Psychiatric Association President Renee Binder, M.D. “APA has long recognized that so-called reparative therapy is not a scientifically validated treatment and can, in fact, undermine self-esteem and be hazardous.”

Warren Seigel, MD, FAAP, Chair of the New York State Academy of Pediatrics, said: “Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming. The American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as all major professional associations of health and mental health practitioners and child and adolescent development specialists in the United State have recognized this fact for nearly 40 years. We are very pleased by the actions announced today to help protect vulnerable gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth from discredited, sham and dangerous interventions. We applaud Governor Cuomo for his bold leadership on this issue.”

Same sex marriage is a constitutional right?

same sex marriage

Federal lawsuit challenges anti-gay North Carolina law allowing magistrates to opt out of same sex marriage

A North Carolina law allowing magistrates with religious objections to stop performing all marriages in order to avoid performing a same sex marriage is unconstitutional, according to a federal lawsuit filed today.

The suit, brought by two same-sex couples and an interracial couple, alleges that Senate Bill 2, passed earlier this year, violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, and the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment.

At least 32 court magistrates in North Carolina have stopped performing marriages under the law, including all four in McDowell County, forcing the state to bring in officials from other areas to serve residents.

“This law distorts the true meaning of religious freedom,” the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a release announcing the lawsuit. “From the day it was proposed, it is clear that SB2 is about one thing and one thing only — finding a new way to discriminate against same sex marriage.”

The plaintiffs include Carol Ann Person and Thomas Person (above), who were denied the ability to marry in 1976 by magistrates who said it would violate their religious beliefs against interracial marriage. A federal judge later ordered the magistrates to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Loving v. Virginia, but the lawsuit alleges that Senate Bill 2 could allow magistrates to opt out of performing interracial marriages.

Lawmaker approved SB 2, part of a wave of anti-LGBT “religious freedom” legislation across the country, by overriding the veto of Gov. Pat McRory in June. The lawsuit was filed in the same court that struck down North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban in 2014.

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by John Wright at towleroad.com, December 9, 2015

Mormons in Same Sex Marriages & Children Banned

Same Sex Marriages & Children Banned

Children of same sex marriages will not be able to join the Mormon Church until they turn 18 — and only if they move out of their parents’ homes, disavow all same-sex relationships and receive approval from the church’s top leadership as part of a new policy adopted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In addition, Mormons in Mormons in same sex marriages will be considered apostates and subject to excommunication, a more rigid approach than the church has taken in the past.

The new policies were contained in a handbook for lay leaders that was disseminated on Thursday to those who administer the church’s 30,000 congregations around the world. The church made no public announcement of the change, but it was leaked to the news media and confirmed by a church spokesman.

Mormons in same sex marriages will be considered apostates and subject to excommunication

“The church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages,” the spokesman, Eric Hawkins, said in a statement. “While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership.”

Before the handbook change, bishops and congregational leaders had more discretion in whether or how far to discipline Mormons in same-sex marriages. Now same-sex marriage has been added to a list of conditions considered apostasy, which means Mormons in same-sex marriages will be subject to disciplinary hearings that result in excommunication.

Some liberal Mormons expressed outrage online at the new policies. Jana Riess, a columnist with Religion News Service, said she was livid that children born to those living out of wedlock, as well as rapists and murderers, can be baptized and blessed, but not children of monogamous same-sex couples.

“It’s heartbreaking for me to see my church drawing this line in the sand, which leaves faithful L.G.B.T. members with an impossible choice: They can either be excluded from lifelong love and companionship, or excluded from the blessings of the church,” she said.

The church has actively lobbied against laws legalizing same-sex unions, but has also in recent years supported laws intended to protect gay people from discrimination. In March of this year, leaders at the church’s headquarters in Salt Lake City helped to pass a bill known as the “Utah compromise,” which bans discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in housing and employment but protects religious institutions that do not condone gay relationships.

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New York Times, by Laurie Goldstein, November 6, 2015

Second Parent Adoptions Suggested & Needed

 Second Parent Adoptions Are Suggested & Needed

Second parent adoptions are essential in protecting the right on the non-biological parent in every case of same sex union, marriage or cohabitation and here’s why! One tenet of the debate surrounding same-sex marriage has focused on whether same-sex parents provide poorer conditions for raising children compared with different-sex parents. Political and public dialogue ensures that this notion remains pervasive and persuasive, even though the Supreme Court decision this summer ensured marriage equality in the U.S.

Second Parent Adoptions are Needed. . . And it isn’t just talk: Laws exist that implicitly reflect the rhetoric that somehow same-sex parents are different.

For example, even though same-sex couples make decisions together to have a child, and even if both parents appear on the birth certificate, the non-biological parent may have limited legal rights over the child. In Texas, two parents of the same sex are even prohibited from being listed on supplemental birth certificates, only allowing for parents where “one of whom must be a female, named as the mother, and the other of whom must be a male, named as the father.”

Although all states offer second parent adoption to same-sex parents in legally recognized unions, only 15 states and the District of Columbia offer second-parent adoption to same-sex parents in cohabiting relationships. This means that in cases where the parents are not married, the non-biological partner may be denied access to the children.

An underlying assumption about parents in same-sex couples seems to be that same-sex parents are less invested or are unable to follow through on the types of parenting that matter for children.

This type of argument is often rooted in the idea that biological parents who are partnered with each other have an advantage over a parent partnered with someone other than their child’s biological parent, with non-biological parents less likely to invest or commit to children who are not their “own.”

This is wrong and must stop! Second Parent Adoptions are Needed As Policies Against Same Sex Parenting Are Not Science Based

Laws and policies that undermine the rights of same-sex parents are more based on politics than on actual science of how they parent. Same-sex parents who conceive children via assisted reproductive technology, for example, should have the same parental rights as heterosexual parents who conceive via assisted reproductive technology and do not have to jump through the same legal hoop.

Very little research has directly tested whether there are different types of parenting investments by same-sex couples. However, in one study that we conducted, we found no difference in the amount of time parents spend with children between same-sex parents and different-sex mothers. But there is a catch.

Mothers in same-sex relationships, fathers in same-sex relationships and mothers in heterosexual relationships spent about the same amount of time in child-focused activities, about 100 minutes a day. Men in heterosexual relationships, however, spent significantly less child-focused time than all three other groups of parents — about 50 minutes per day. That means the only difference that we found tended to favor same-sex couples (and heterosexual mothers).

Importantly, these differences persisted when we controlled for factors that have well-known influences on time spent with children, including parent’s education, the number of children, the age of the children, and parent’s time spent working or commuting. Here’s the catch to this “no difference” conclusion. When combining estimates across mothers and fathers to look at time investments at the family level, not just by individual parents, children raised in same-sex families would receive an average of 3.5 hours of child-focused time a day, compared with 2.5 hours for children in heterosexual families.

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By Alexa Martin-Storey,Kate Prickett – Special to the American-Statesman

November 3, 2015

The Regnerus Gay Parenting Study Is Even More Flawed Than We Thought

by Camille Beredjick, May 12, 2015

As they gear up for legal battles nationwide, anti-LGBT activists’ weapon of choice is the infamous “Regnerus study,” a report by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus that claimed to “prove” same-sex parenting is inherently harmful to children. The study has been thoroughly debunked as methodologically and ethically flawed, and experts far and wide — including Regnerus’ own university — have said they want no affiliation with it.

We thought we’d seen it all, but nope — two sociologists are taking another crack at determining the study’s scientific validity (or lack thereof), and what they’re finding is even more absurd than the fallacies we were already aware of.

Indiana University’s Brian Powell and the University of Connecticut’s Simon Cheng actually redid the study for Social Science Research, the same journal that published the original article. Not surprisingly, when they used proper methodology and eliminated “suspect data” — see below for a laughable example — they found that kids fare just as well when raised by a same-sex couple as by a mom and dad.

From Right Wing Watch:

By eliminating suspect data — for example, a 25-year-old respondent who claimed to be 7’8″ tall, 88 pounds, married 8 times and with 8 children, and another who reported having been arrested at age 1 — and correcting what they view as Regnerus’ methodological errors, Cheng and Powell found that Regnerus’ conclusions were so “fragile” that his data could just as easily show that children raised by gay and lesbian parents don’t face negative adult outcomes.

“[W]hen equally plausible and, in our view, preferred methodological decisions are used,” they wrote, “a different conclusion emerges: adult children who lived with same-sex parents show comparable outcome profiles to those from other family types, including intact biological families.”

In his original study, Regnerus claimed adults who had been raised by gay or lesbian parents were more likely to have depression, abuse drugs, engage in criminal behavior, and acquire STDs, as well as have a higher likelihood of having experienced childhood sexual abuse. Regnerus and others have used these findings to testify against marriage equality, but a more detailed look at the study shows that he hardly spoke to any children of same-sex parents at all:

The Regnerus study was promptly scrutinized by fellow social scientists, who pointed out major flaws in his methodology. Many people who he categorized as having been raised by a gay or lesbian parent had spent very little time with that parent or with his or her same-sex partner. Even Regnerus admitted that his data included only two people who said they had been raised for their entire childhoods by a same-sex couple.

Regnerus compared the outcomes of children raised in what he called “intact biological families” (with married biological parents) “lesbian mother” families and “gay father” families, finding differences between “lesbian mother” families and “intact biological families” in 24 of the 40 areas he looked at, and differences between “gay father” families and “intact biological” ones in 19 areas.

But in scrutinizing Regnerus’ data, Cheng and Powell determined that of the 236 respondents whom Regnerus had identified as having been raised by a lesbian mother or gay father, one-tenth had never even lived with the parent in question and an additional one-sixth hadn’t lived with that parent for more than one year. Still more had provided inconsistent or unreliable responses to survey questions, throwing their reliability into doubt. That means, Powell says, that over one-third of the 236 people whom Regnerus classified as having been raised by a lesbian mother or gay father “should absolutely not have ever been considered by Regnerus in this study.”

Click here to read the entire article.

U.K. Parliament approves controversial three-parent mitochondrial gene therapy

ScienceMag.org By

The United Kingdom’s House of Commons voted overwhelmingly today to allow British researchers to pursue a new fertility treatment that could prevent certain kinds of genetic diseases. The technique, called mitochondrial DNA replacement therapy, could allow women who carry disease-causing mutations in their mitochondrial genes to give birth to genetically related children free of mitochondrial disease.

The measure, which passed 382 to 128, has been controversial, especially because it would alter the DNA of an embryo in a way that could be passed on to future generations. Some scientists and nongovernmental organizations have argued that not enough is known about possible side effects of the technique to go forward in human patients. “We believe the House of Commons has made a serious mistake, which we hope does not have dire consequences,” said Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley, California, in a statement.

Proponents of the measure quickly began to celebrate. “I am delighted that [members of Parliament] have voted to allow the introduction of mitochondrial transfer techniques into the clinic,” said John Tooke, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences in London, in a statement. Robert Meadowcroft, head of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign in London, added: “We have finally reached a milestone in giving women an invaluable choice, the choice to become a mother without fear of passing on a lifetime under the shadow of mitochondrial disease to their child.”

Mitochondria are the energy-producing engines of a cell. These organelles contain their own set of genes, called mtDNA. When mitochondria don’t work properly, a variety of symptoms can result, which can make mitochondrial diseases difficult to recognize and diagnose. Some babies born with defective mitochondria die within months. Other people don’t show any symptoms until much later in life.

Researchers have developed ways to transfer the genetic material from an egg cell that carries faulty mitochondria into a donor egg that has healthy mitochondria. The resulting embryo carries nuclear DNA from the mother and father and mitochondrial DNA from the egg donor.

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This ‘Expert’ Claims Gay Parents Are Bad For Kids, But Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Listen

The Huffington Post  | by  Kate Abbey-Lambertz

– March 4, 2014

An expert witness in the federal trial on Michigan’s gay marriage ban who found that same-sex relationships have a negative effect on children was denounced by his own university.

Sociologist Mark Regnerus was a witness for the state of Michigan, which is being challenged on its gay marriage ban. The author of a controversial 2012 study, Regnerus found that children who grew up in a house where a parent eventually had a same-sex relationship had more difficulties and said that the lack of evidence on the effects of same-sex relationships is a reason for the state to proceed with caution when it comes to legalizing gay marriage.

“Until we get more evidence, we should be skeptical. … It’s prudent for the state to retain its definition of marriage to one man, one woman,” Regnerus said during his testimony in the case Monday, according to the Associated Press.

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