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March News Brief

(left: Governor Jared Polis D-Colorado, right:Renaissance City Softball League logo)

SCOTUS Rules Against Trans Service Members

LGBT Action Link reported that on January 22, “the Supreme Court granted the Trump administration's request to begin implementing its discriminatory ban of military service by transgender people, putting the honorable service of thousands of troops on the line. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled to allow the cases to proceed in the lower courts. “A study commissioned by the Department of Defense determined that there are no readiness implications that prevent transgender people from serving openly. Transgender service members are held to the exact same rigorous standards as every other service member.”

Softball Registration Opens March 1

The Renaissance City Softball League, a member of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, opens registration for their co-ed softball spring session on March 1. The league has been expanding over the years and Commissioner John Morse announced the creation of “a new E division for anyone who wants to join and has never played or is a beginner.” For more info or to register, visit providencesoftball. org. (Photo: The Cruisers, 2018’s 2nd Place D Division team)

LGBT Methodists Await Momentous February Vote

A special meeting of the General Conference - the governing body of the United Methodist Church - scheduled for February in St. Louis, will decide whether, how, and which churches within the movement will permit same-sex marriages and accept openly gay clergy. These questions have been discussed and written about extensively for nearly two years. Some groups say unity is still possible ;others contend,"The organization is no longer functioning." One measure (the One Church Plan) would permit – but not require – clergy to perform same-sex marriages. Accepting gay clergy would be a decision for regional boards. Clergy could transfer to churches that match their views. Dissenters from this plan claim it would cause thousands of traditional members to withdraw from the United Church. They want to maintain the status quo, and allow the liberal faction to splinter off. The second plan would divide the national organization into three values- based branches, each with its own rules. And the last plan would remove all restrictions nationwide on LGBT people. Many observers think the One Church Plan is the leading choice. One prominent pastor said, "We need to send a message from the Church that we stand for unity."

Germany Adopts “Diverse” as a Gender Classification

In a milestone for people who don't identify as male or female, Germany's parliament passed a law in December allowing people to change the gender identity on their birth certificate and other legal documents to "diverse," according to The New York Times. This follows a four-year campaign by Third Option, the nation's organization supporting gender-fluid people. Third Option criticized the new law because it requires medical certification confirming gender-fluid. They say physical indicators are not the sole determinant. "If people feel seriously and sustainably not male or female, the law must allow them to register their status as they feel it," said one leader.

Ohio Governor Bars Employment Discrimination

In December, the Governor of Ohio, Republican John Kasich, issued an executive order banning discrimination against LGBTQ state employees. Community activists credit years of hard work and the many courageous transgender people who shared their stories with the governor to ensure full inclusion.

Pakistani Law Would Outlaw Trans Harassment

A draft bill being considered in the Pakistani province of Sindh would criminalize workplace harassment, specifically including mistreatment of trans people, and would appoint an ombudsman to receive complaints and recruit staff to implement the law. Included prohibited acts are "requests for sexual favors, sexually demeaning attitude, creating an offensive environment," and offering job advancement as inducements for sex. People convicted under this law would face criminal penalties. Pakistan already has some of the most progressive laws for trans people, who are recognized in the national census and can register as a third gender on passports and other official government documents.

New York City Now Permits Non-Binary ID Markers

On January 1, New York City began allowing people who do not identify as male or female to change the gender markers on their birth certificate to "X," indicating gender-neutral.The change does not require a note from a doctor. This will set the city's documents apart from those issued in the rest of New York State. It may also put the certificate in conflict with identification issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles and by the federal government, such as passports and Social Security cards.

Gay Governor Draws Ho-Hums

In January, Democrat Jared Polis, the first openly gay governor in the country, took office in Colorado with his husband by his side. He had beaten his opponent (George Bush's cousin) by an 11-point margin. Polis's gayness was "uninteresting to voters," in the words of one columnist. Although Polis said, "The voters really don't care," nationally, the victory was hailed as part of a "Rainbow Wave" that carried more than 150 LGBT candidates into office. Polis has served five terms in Congress and does not conform to any gay stereotype. He's a policy-wonk, a techie with thinning hair and rumpled clothes. He thinks his election "can show LGBT youth that their orientation or gender identity shouldn't stand in the way of whatever they want to achieve, including public service."

New York State Passes Momentous Protections for LGBT People

In 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo prohibited, by executive order, so-called "conversion therapy" and added transgender people as a protected class in anti-discrimination laws. Now the state's legislature has just passed a law to permanently protect youth from the harmful practice, adding New York to the 14 states (including RI) and the District of Columbia that already ban it. At the same time, both houses of the legislature passed GENDA (the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act), a law to protect trans people from discrimination, and to add gender identity to hate crime laws. These momentous laws are the culmination of a decade- long campaign by organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign.


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