LGBT Link Round Up 12.15.14

Michelle Duggar got her way

Fayetteville residents voted in a 52 to 48 percent split to overturn Ordinance 119, a nondiscrimination law that “prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, real estate transactions, city services, business transactions and public accommodations based on ‘race, ethnicity, national origin, age (if 18 years of age or older), gender, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background, religion, sexual orientation, disability or veteran status.”

Duggar joined the effort to overturn the law in late summer, recording robocalls that went out to every phone in Fayetteville in which she described LGBT people as a threat to the community.

Ordinance 119 allowed trans men and women to use the public facilities of their adopted gender, a state of affairs that Duggar described in a call as “males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.”

That’s blatant transphobic fear mongering on the part of Michelle Duggar.  Trans men and women seek to use the facilities that correspond to their gender (e.g. a trans woman using the women’s restroom bc she’s a woman). Trans women aren’t men (just as trans men are not women). That’s a false narrative that Duggar is pushing.  And another thing?  Duggar knows nothing, but nothing…about what she’s talking about. She thinks trans women are just men who dress up as women so they can go into women’s restrooms to sexually assault women and girls.

She. Is. Wrong.

And here is an article at Equality Matters with multiple links to experts who debunk the bathroom myth.

Of course this myth won’t die in Right Wing or fundie circles.  But it needs to be countered every time it rears its head.  And more cisgender people need to speak up and push back against the bathroom myth.  We are the ones with the privilege. We are the ones in the position to help tear down the system that oppresses and discriminates against transgender women and men.

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 Lifetime ban on gay men giving blood endorsed by FDA

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration’s Blood Products Advisory Panel met to discuss lifting the government’s 31-year-old ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men. Currently, any man who has had sexual contact with another man since 1977—even once, even using condoms—is barred for life from donating blood. The ban was instituted in 1983 in the early days of the AIDS crisis, when HIV testing was still rudimentary. It hasn’t been altered since.

There was some hope that the panel might support a policy recently endorsed by a nearly unanimous Department of Health and Human Services panel, which would allow gay men to donate blood if they’d been celibate for one year. But even that half-measure appeared to be too much for the panel, which closed its discussion without taking a formal vote. (The panel itself can’t make rules, but the FDA takes its suggestions very seriously when issuing guidelines.)

The panel’s refusal to advise replacing the lifetime ban with a one-year deferral—twinned with its craven refusal to go on the record as opposing it—is deeply irritating. Even more galling is its reasoning, or lack thereof: It’s clear that the advisers on the panel saw the campaign to lift the blood ban as more a political crusade than a scientific appeal. (Apparently, they haven’t checked in with American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, the American Association of Blood Banks, and the American Medical Association, all of which oppose the ban.) “It sounds to me like we’re talking about policy and civil rights” rather than safety and science, one adviser scoffed. Another anxiously described lowering the ban as “a leap of faith.”

This language is quite curious. The advisers were not considering abolishing the gay blood ban altogether; they were simply considering replacing it with a new ban that forces gay men to be celibate for a year before donating. Their stated opposition to gay blood donation is a fear that HIV-positive men will donate. But every blood donation is tested for HIV, and the virus can now be detected within weeks of infection. If gay men were celibate for a year before their donation, how could they possibly carry an increased risk for HIV? If they were already HIV-negative prior to a year of celibacy, how could they even have HIV at all?

Parse this chain of reasoning, and the Blood Products Advisory Panel’s true fear is obvious: It is afraid gay men will lie. The advisers won’t support a one-year deferral because they believe gay men will lie about how long they’ve been celibate in order to donate blood. There’s just no other way to justify opposition to a one-year deferral.

The panel’s skepticism might make sense if the FDA took a generally wary approach toward blood donation. But it doesn’t, to an almost comical degree. Under the current policies, a straight person who had sex with a prostitute of the opposite sex can give blood one year later. So can a straight person who had sex with an HIV-positive opposite-sex partner. Straight people who frequently have unprotected sex with multiple anonymous opposite-sex partners face no deferral at all. The FDA doesn’t seem concerned that any of these people will lie about their sexual behaviors.

This serves as a reminder that LGBT rights don’t start and end with the pursuit of marriage equality.

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Top Air Force official speaks out in favor of transgender personnel in the military

The Hill reported Wednesday that Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said that the military is preparing to reassess its policies against including trans staff and soldiers in the nation’s war machine.

James said in an interview with USA Today, “Times change.”

The ban on trans troops, she said, “is likely to come under review in the next year or so, so I think we should stand by.”

“From my point of view, anyone who is capable of accomplishing the job should be able to serve,” James concluded.

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 TX pastor calls for the death of us “dirty faggots”.  

Not for doing anything mind you.  Just for existing.  This is homophobia at its worst. This is one human being advocating for the denial of the right to life for millions of people across the planet. He has so effectively dehumanized us that he can talk at length about killing gay people and not be bothered by it. That is so fucking hard for me to fathom. I would never treat another human being as if they were people devoid of rights, no matter how much I hated them.

Pastor Donnie Romero, founder of Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, carried on the violent message of his mentor, Pastor Steven L. Anderson – who recently called for gays to be executed to promote an “AIDS-free Christmas.”

In a sermon on Sunday, reported Right Wing Watch, Romero read from portions of Leviticus, which prescribes capital punishment for a variety of sins – including homosexuality.

“I love that part of the Bible, and I’m going to preach that part of the Bible until the day I die, and if I ever stop preaching that part of the Bible, I hope my kids tell me, ‘Dad, you’re going soft on sin. You need to get up there and rip on these queers because it’s only getting worse and worse,’” Romero said as congregants muttered “amen.” “I’m not going to stop doing it. I’m going to preach it all the time because, again, amen to what Pastor Anderson said.”

“I’m not going to let any of these dirty f*ggots inside my church,” Romero continued. “They are all pedophiles. Look in the Bible. Every time it shows the sodomites, in Genesis 19 and Judges 19, they’re always trying to rape and hurt other people. They’re relentless. They are relentless. They are predators and given an opportunity to snatch one of your children, they would do it in a heartbeat.”

Romero draws laughs from his congregation as he recalls several times he harassed strangers he perceived as homosexual — including a transgender woman in line behind him at Walmart, a “bull dyke” with a “Bart Simpson haircut,” and two teenage boys at an amusement park.

“These queers are right in front of us, and they were holding hands, and I said, ‘No, I am not going to be right next to these guys,’” Romero said. “Who knows what they’re going to do on this Ferris wheel?”

Romero said gays should be marked for death, unlike other sinners, because he said God views them as an abomination.

“It’s saying that sodomites are full of all unrighteousness,” Romero said. “That means that there is not a sin that they’re not capable of doing. You think about all these weird sins that it talks about in the Book of Leviticus – animals, child sacrifice. It’s within their reasoning to do all of them.”

I’m curious how much of the Bible this guy hasn’t read.  Does he seriously not know that these “weird sins” he speaks of were also done by heterosexuals?  Hell, his god endorses and commits genocide.

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Google+ now let’s you define your gender

Among a cascade of updates rolled out on Tuesday, the tech giant announced it will let users list their gender as more than just “Male” or “Female. In fact, according to Google software engineer Rachael Bennett’s post, Google+ users will now have access to an “infinite number of ways to express your gender identity.”

Prior to Tuesday’s update — which began its rollout on December 9 and should now be available to all users — Google allowed users to list their gender as “Male,” “Female,” or “Other” to account for those whose identities didn’t fit within a rigid gender binary.

“Now, the gender field on your profile will contain four entries, ‘Male,’ ‘Female,’ ‘Decline to state,’ and ‘Custom,’” explains Bennett. “When ‘Custom’ is selected, a freeform text field and a pronoun field will appear. You can still limit who can see your gender, just like you can now.”

These latest updates reflect similar changes recently embraced at Facebook — which in February expanded its available list of gender identities available for users to select to more than 70 different options, depending on where users live — and online dating site OKCupid, which in November announced it would allow users to choose from a wide range of gender identities and sexual orientations.

The updates to Google+, however, seem to be the most user-driven implementation of the trend to expand gender and sexuality listings on social networking sites. By allowing users to write their own identities under the “Custom” gender listing, Google has given users total freedom to self-identify however feels accurate to them. Users can also decide what pronouns they’d like the service to refer to them using, selecting male (he/him/his), female (she/her/hers), or other, using the gender-neutral singular they/their/theirs.

Good move Google.

LGBT Link Round Up 12.15.14