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Supreme Court to hear landmark transgender rights case on March 28

Transgender Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court. Attribution: Jeff Kubina
The U.S. Supreme Court. Attribution: Jeff Kubina
The Supreme Court has released its calendar for its sitting beginning on March 20, and the calendar lists Gloucester County School Board v. GG as set for Tuesday, March 28.

The case involves a transgender high school student seeking to use the correct restroom at his public school in Virginia.

The Fourth Circuit had ruled earlier that the Obama administration’s guidelines related to transgender employment and bathroom use, which accepted that the term “sex” applies to gender identity as well, deserve deference under current Supreme Court precedent. The case is challenged on the basis that the cases giving deference to those agency decisions should be overruled, and also on the basis that Title VII and the Education Amendments themselves, in their references to “sex”, are referring to “biological” sex only.

The case will have implications across the board for inclusion of transgender rights in employment and education law.

The Trump administration has not weighed in on whether it will keep the Obama administration’s guidelines or its position in favor of the student in the case. The administration’s decision could potentially impact the case: the Court could still hear it even if the guidance is withdrawn and the administration wants a ruling in favor of the school board, because there’s a statutory interpretation question in the case over the word “sex”; on the other hand, that question wasn’t ruled on by the Fourth Circuit, so the Court could conceivably send the case back for that question to be decided.

GG’s brief is due by February 23, and friend of the court briefs in his favor are due a week later.

SCOTUSBlog notes: [I]t is unlikely that Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy created by Scalia’s death, will be confirmed and ready to hear oral arguments by the time the March sitting starts on March 20.”


  • 1. 1grod  |  February 3, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Off topic: On Feb 1 AL's suspended Justice Roy Moore's attorney filed a 50 page brief with the special panel of seven retired judges that is hearing his appeal of his suspension from office. The brief said that the JIC did not have the authority to review the Administrative Order, and "that authority belongs only to the Alabama Supreme Court and that court did not modify or overrule that stipulation. Any objective review of this case must conclude that Chief Justice Moore did nothing wrong and should have never been charged." [What else might we have expected?!] The brief follows:

  • 2. VIRick  |  February 3, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Top DOJ Lawyer Joins Lambda Legal

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 2 February 2017, Lambda Legal announced the hiring of Sharon McGowan, a top attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, as the organization’s new Director of Strategy.

    Prior to joining Lambda, McGowan served as the Principal Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section of the Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice. In addition to supervising attorneys working on a broad range of civil rights appellate matters in the US Supreme Court and federal courts of appeals, McGowan advised Department leadership on high-profile and sensitive litigation and policy matters relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, and served as co-chair of the Division’s Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Working Group.

    “Sharon McGowan is one of the most influential and effective LGBT rights lawyers in the country,” said Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal.

    “Our community has made tremendous strides since I first worked with Lambda Legal almost fifteen years ago as part of the litigation team on "Lawrence v. Texas,"” said Sharon McGowan, Lambda Legal’s new Director of Strategy. “From that landmark decision to securing nationwide marriage equality in "Obergefell v. Hodges," Lambda Legal has played an unparalleled role in extending our country’s promise of equality to the LGBT community. I’m honored to join this historic organization and to continue fighting for our community in this new role."

  • 3. ianbirmingham  |  February 3, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner worked to sink LGBT order
    Members of the religious right with ties to the Trump administration say they have been led to believe that some changes will still be coming.

  • 4. allan120102  |  February 3, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Durango cannot be sue to the supreme court sadly. Looks like Same sex couples will need to use the resolution method against the state instead of the action of unconstitutionality,

    There is no possibility of controversy before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) the ruling rejected a few days ago, on egalitarian marriage.
    "There is no way because there is no law, there is no reform, there is nothing to fight either by way of unconstitutionality action or by way of constitutional controversy," said local deputy Luis Enrique Benitez.
    The also Master in Law explained that an unconstitutionality action is promoted when there is a rule that is considered to violate the Political Constitution; However, on the issue of egalitarian marriage that was voted against by the majority of the State Congress on the night of last Tuesday, there is no such attack because there is no rule.
    "If something had been approved in one way or another it could be sought to 'throw it down' through some resource, but what was done was a waste in the plenary. There is no standard to combat," he said.
    This alludes to the positions taken by some lawmakers who voted in favor of the ruling Tuesday night, as well as by some members of the Lesbian-Gay Community.
    While a constitutional controversy, it is only promoted when there are problems of competition between organs, powers or orders of government, which is also not the case.
    In mid-June 2015, the SCJN published First Chamber jurisprudence 43/2015 in which it stated that attempting to link marriage requirements to sexual preferences is a discriminatory act, as it unjustifiably excludes access to marriage Homosexual couples who are in similar conditions to heterosexual couples.
    "As the purpose of marriage is not procreation, there is no justified reason that the marriage union is heterosexual, nor that it is stated as' between a single man and a single woman." This statement is discriminatory in its mere expression, " text.
    During a conference in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, last May, SCJN minister José Ramón Cossío Díaz pointed out that the jurisprudence of the Court only facilitates the promotion of amparos by same sex people interested in marrying for The civil road.
    This is the alternative open also by the local deputy Benítez Ojeda, as the amparo trials have allowed these marriages in other entities by forcing the judges of registration.
    Another way is to present a new initiative to reform the Civil Code in Durango, which is tentatively not seen in the short term given the results of the vote on the opinion on Tuesday.

  • 5. guitaristbl  |  February 3, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    I doubt they are of any influence in the longterm. A "religious freedom" executive order will come sooner than later.

  • 6. VIRick  |  February 3, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Graeme, anything whatsoever concerning Roy Moore is never off-topic.

    And even here, notice that Roy Moore's name is conspicuous because of its absence:

    On 2 February 2017, Alabama Governor Bentley Announced 6 Finalists Still in Running for Sessions' Seat:

    •US Congressman, Robert Aderholt
    •ADECA Director, Jim Byard
    •Former State Representative, Perry Hooper Jr.
    •Senate President Pro Tem, Del Marsh
    •State Representative, Connie Rowe
    •Attorney-General, Luther Strange

    Sessions still has to be confirmed by the full Senate before he becomes Attorney-General, which is to be expected. He was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 1 February 2017 along party lines.

    His replacement can not be officially named until after there is an actual vacancy.

    Note: Of the 6, Aderholt, in particular, is a real piece of work, a reputed closet case who has consistently voted against anything/everything LGBT-related. But of course, there's still more:

    Let's hope the names are merely arranged in alphabetical order.

  • 7. Fortguy  |  February 3, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    SB 4 Update: The "sanctuary cities" bill was voted out of committee 7-2 along party lines at the wee hour of 12:45 am CT to be taken up by the full Senate next week in Austin.

    Julián Aguilar, The Texas Tribune: Senate committee advances anti-sanctuary cities bill

  • 8. VIRick  |  February 3, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Non-Discrimination Appeal Before Arkansas Supreme Court

    Per Equality Case Files:

    In the appeal, "State of Arkansas v. City of Fayetteville," the state's appeal of the lower court ruling upholding Fayetteville's non-discrimination ordinance, the Arkansas Supreme Court will hear oral argument in this case at 9 AM on 9 February 2017. Each side will have 20 minutes for argument.

  • 9. Fortguy  |  February 3, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    SB 6 Update: Here is a sharply critical article about the potty bill which fortunately is not part of the governor's emergency agenda and can't leave committee of either chamber before March 10:

    Lauren McGaughy, The Dallas Morning News: Dan Patrick's bathroom bill: All the trouble with none of the teeth?

    Meanwhile, here's some good commentary regarding the similar House bill, HB 1362:

    Charles Kuffner, Off the Kuff: There is no “acceptable” bathroom bill

    Earlier, I lost my train of thought and mixed one of these links inappropriately with my previous post. For that, I apologize to anyone who read that and was confused before this correction.

  • 10. VIRick  |  February 4, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Transgender Model Anjali Lama Breaks Barriers in India’s Fashion World

    Mumbai — It was her big moment. Anjali Lama sashayed down the catwalk in the swanky Mumbai auditorium. A fitted, cream dress highlighted her tall, slender frame. Her pulled-back hair showed off her high cheekbones. Modeling at Lakme Fashion Week often seemed like a dream far beyond her reach, but Lama has become the first transgender woman to model at one of the top events on India’s fashion calendar and one sponsored by a top Indian cosmetics brand.

    Growing up as the fifth son in a poor farming family in Nepal, Lama didn’t dream early in life to be a fashion model. First was the painful struggle to accept that she felt deeply female. Coming to Kathmandu as a teenager brought some anonymity but few answers. A chance encounter with transgender women turned Lama’s life around by putting her in touch with the Blue Diamond Society, an advocacy group for Nepal’s LGBT community. A magazine wrote a cover story about transgender people in Nepal and put her on the cover.

  • 11. VIRick  |  February 4, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Lebanese Gay Couple Not Prosecuted under ‘Order of Nature’ Law

    The Lebanese LGBT community celebrated a huge legal victory from late January when Judge Rabih Maalouf failed to prosecute a gay couple for having sexual relations. Though homosexuality is illegal in Lebanon, there is no actual law prohibiting it, a seeming contradiction. Instead, gay men are prosecuted under Article 534, which states that “any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature is punishable” by up to a year in prison.

    However, with no clear definition of “order of nature,” this law is open to interpretation. Maalouf’s ruling was partially based on Article 183, another penal code provision that protects freedom of expression. “Homosexuality is a personal choice, and is not a punishable offense,” said Maalouf.

    “The new ruling is remarkable but not unique, two similar rulings involving LGBT individuals . . . have already happened before in Lebanon,” Tarek Zeidan, a Lebanese LGBT rights activist, told the Washington Blade. “This suggests that the frequency by which these rulings are coming is increasing,” he said.

    Dr. Omar Fattal from the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) told the Blade he does not want Article 534 to apply to homosexuality. “This ruling is very significant because the judge affirms that homosexuality is natural and specifically mentions that the World Health Organization (WHO) does not consider it an illness,” said Fattal. "The short-term goal is to separate 534 from homosexuality by reminding everyone over and over again that 534 punishes sexual intercourse that is ‘against nature’ while homosexuality is a completely natural human behavior.”

    “Homosexuality is technically illegal in Lebanon, however the new generation of judges are less likely to apply the law and the police forces will not reinforce it,” Georges Azzi, executive director of the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, told the Blade. “The decision of one judge does not engage and cannot be forced on another judge,” explained Azzi. “Its helps future cases in terms of argumentation but also in terms of creating a culture where judges feel comfortable making progressive decisions.”

  • 12. VIRick  |  February 5, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Gay Men, HIV, and Taboos in El Tejar, Guatemala

    This is the first of Michael Lavers' reports from Guatemala, dated 2 February 2017, and focuses on the town of El Tejar and the five local volunteers there who are with Colectivo Amigos contra el Sida (CAS), an HIV/AIDS service organization that is based in Guatemala City, and which provides HIV and STI tests, sexual awareness counseling, and health care to around 3,500 people annually.

  • 13. VIRick  |  February 5, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Mexico: Second Same-Sex Marriage Occurs in Nuevo León

    Felicidades a Cristian y Eduardo, el segundo matrimonio igualitario en Nuevo León.

    Congratulations to Cristian and Eduardo, the second same-sex marriage in Nuevo León (an event which was apparently celebrated yesterday, 4 February 2017).

    The first same-sex marriage in the state took place in Monterrey on 13 February 2016, almost exactly a year ago. At the bottom of this article, there's a step-by-step time-line of all the procedures involved, including an appeal to Mexico's Supreme Court, and back, before the couple could marry:

    Nuevo León has been particularly slow and obtuse in allowing same-sex couples to marry, so much so, that in the interval, most couples have gone to neighboring Saltillo, Coahuila, to be married there.

  • 14. Christian0811  |  February 5, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    I'd like to see the Lebanese Court of Cassation to issue a ruling to that effect so that jurisprudence constance is more persuasive. Or better yet see the Constitutional Council revoke the law.

  • 15. guitaristbl  |  February 6, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Germany :

    What seemed impossible a few months ago seems to be happening with the social democratic party SPD under the new leadership of Martin Schulz appearing as the leading party in a new poll with 31% against 30% of Merkel's CDU. The far right AfD is in third place with 12 %.

    A potential victory for SPD, while it does not seem likely at this point to come with an absolute majority in parliament, could lay the ground for marriage equality to finally arrive in Germany as SPD has expressed the will to give priority to coalition talks with the left party which polls at around 10 % right now.
    Those 2 parties along with support from the greens, liberals and CDU dissenters are certain to be able to pass marriage equality if SPD controls the agenda as the major party.

    German elections will take place in September.

  • 16. VIRick  |  February 6, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    European Parliament Backs EU-Wide Recognition of Same-Sex Adoptions

    The European Parliament has adopted a report backing EU-wide recognition of adoptions regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation. The report, which was adopted in early February 2017 by a vote of 533-41, paves the way for future EU legislation to permit “automatic cross-border recognition of domestic adoption orders” throughout the EU.

    It notes that while “opinions still differ in the Member States as regards the principles that should govern the adoption process”, the current system can cause “significant problems for European families who move to another Member State after adopting a child, as the adoption may not be recognised, meaning that the parents may have trouble legally exercising their parental authority.”

    The report also affirms that the principle of non-discrimination should be affirmed within adoption law, protecting the rights of same-sex parents under provisions of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

  • 17. allan120102  |  February 6, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Looks like Nepal will not legalize ssm after all…..for now. Hopefully Taiwain will do it.
    Feb 6, 2017- Human rights activists and civil society leaders have objected to a provision of replacement bill of Civil Code that discourages women to remarry after divorce.

    The proposed provision states that if a divorcee or widow remarries, then she has to return the alimony to her first husband.

    In addition to this, the bill also prevents women from choosing her marital rights over the men she has a child with. As per the bill, a woman is supposed to accept the child’s father as her husband even if she chooses to be a single mother.

    Women rights activists have said that consent of women should be taken in the above mentioned case. They have also demanded that women must have the right to ask for alimony after divorce.

    The Article 81 under Section 3 of Civil Code states that a woman can use either her parents’ or her husband’s name, and, if not proved otherwise, surname of a married woman will be that of her husbands.
    Right Activists have argued that women must have freedom to decide their surname themselves.

    They submitted an 18-points memorandum to the Legislature-Parliament Speaker Onasari Gharti Magar on Sunday. Terming the proposed bill ‘bigoted’, they demanded the provisions be repealed and women be treated on equal footing.

    The Civil Code Bill was introduced as a replacement of Muluki Ain, 1963. But the bill has even withdrawn the rights of women that were in place till now.

    “The proposed legal provisions are more conservative than it was in 1963,” said Renu Adhikari, rights activist and Chairperson of Women’s Rehabilitation Centre

    (Worec). “Women rights over property, reproductive health, sexual rights, and rights of labour are curtailed in the proposed bill” The rights activists also organised a rally on Sunday in the Capital to protest the bill.

    Bhumika Shrestha, a transgender activist, said that the government has been letting down and marginalising the transgender community.

    “There has to be a legal recognition for same sex marriage. Until the sex issue is resolved, gender equality is uncertain,” she said.

    Although the Supreme Court verdict allows the same sex marriage, the proposed bill has scrapped the provision.

    Rights lawyer Subin Mulmi said that the draft is on a final stage of being endorsed. According to him, the amendment proposal has already been passed from the law drafting committee. “It is highly likely that the provisions are endorsed by the Parliament as we have little time for lobbying,” he said.

  • 18. guitaristbl  |  February 6, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Why isn't California joining this lawsuit ? I find it very weird..

  • 19. scream4ever  |  February 6, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    I'm a little confused as the end seems to hint that it may happen after all?

    Good news from Australia. A coalition of Liberal MPs are pushing hard for a vote to be held on the marriage bill by the end of March. Turnbull would be smart to accept it, since it could rip his party apart before the next elections:

  • 20. VIRick  |  February 6, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Guitar, there are lots of questions, but not a lot of answers. The States of Washington and Minnesota are the originators of the suit, despite the fact that Minnesota is in the 8th Circuit, rather than in the 9th. Thus, the case must be built around certain specific denials of entry at SeaTac International Airport (SEA), Seattle/Tacoma, as a large group of several hundred sponsored, family reunion Ukrainian refugees have been scheduled to arrive through that port of entry throughout the current month, destined for both states. For Washington State alone, there are already over 35,000 Ukrainian-born residents living in the rural wheat-growing area of the Palouse, south of Spokane. A portion of the current refugees are trying to rejoin some of those residents.

    The State of Hawaii's Emergency Motion to Intervene was denied (but its amicus brief was accepted), likely on the grounds that it was not directly involved in this particular refugee resettlement program (or to the incidents giving specific rise to it). As for California, there are two other federal lawsuits already underway, both based on incidents in Los Angeles (LAX). However, it has become quite certain that we will be needing the assistance of the attorneys-general of both states in defending our rights in other instances in the near future.

    With the DOJ reversing tack on us (on every matter, as portending from this case), we're going to have to rely more and more on all the blue states attorneys-general, like Washington, Minnesota, Hawaii, California, etc., for defending us. That, plus the rights organizations like the ACLU, Lambda Legal, etc.

  • 21. VIRick  |  February 6, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Transgender Woman Seeks to Intervene in Her Own Appeal

    Per Equality Case Files:

    In the appeal of the case, "EEOC v. R.G. &. G.R. Harris Funeral Homes," the transgender employment discrimination case in which the district court (in Michigan) ruled that the RFRA provided a Title VII exemption, presently on appeal before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Aimee Stephens has filed a motion to intervene as Plaintiff-Appellant as an individual in her own appeal. Stephens is represented by the ACLU.

    Her motion to intervene as Plaintiff-Appellant is here:

    In her motion, she makes in quite clear that up until now, the EEOC has adequately represented her interests, but going forward, under the new administration, she has become quite a bit less certain that that representation will continue in a satisfactory manner. Thus, as the primary victim of the employment discrimination at hand, she seeks to intervene as an individual in her own appeal, rather than continue to rely solely on the EEOC.

  • 22. VIRick  |  February 10, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    DC Has Highest Percentage of Self-Identified LGBT Population in USA

    According to a very recent Gallup poll released on 6 February 2017, DC has the highest percentage of self-identifying LGBT adults in the United States. During the time interval, 2015-16, the report found that 8.6% of the residents in the District were LGBT, more than in any state in the country. Continuing by percentage, Vermont was the number one state in terms of LGBT residents, coming in at 5.3%, followed by Massachusetts at 4.9%, California at 4.9%, Oregon at 4.9%, and Nevada with 4.8%.

    The states with the lowest percentages were South Dakota at 2%, North Dakota at 2.7%, Idaho at 2.8%, South Carolina at 3%, and Montana at 3%.

    For a complete look at Gallup’s research, visit here:

  • 23. VIRick  |  February 10, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Italy: Barilla Pasta Has Reversed Course on Anti-LGBT Bias

    Not since 2013, when a boycott of Barilla brand pasta raged around the world, has the Italian company been the focus of so many headlines. In that earlier debacle, Chairman Guido Barilla soon changed course by recanting the alarming anti-gay comments he had made, and promised he’d learned his lesson.

    It wasn’t just words. Within weeks, Barilla appointed a diversity officer. In 2014, Barilla featured a gay man coming out to his parents in Italy’s first LGBTQ-friendly TV commercial. And one year after earning the scorn of the gay community, Barilla was awarded a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign‘s Equality Index, drawing headlines as a “diversity trailblazer.”

    Now, as Slate reported, with the Barilla boycott of 2013 still fresh in their minds, Italian LGBTQ activists are being more vocal in challenging normalized homophobia. Inspired by their American counterparts, these groups are working to dismantle Western Europe’s last bastion of “traditional marriage.”

    But the water might boil over yet again, with news that Barilla is expanding into Saudi Arabia in a partnership with Maya Foods. Food Navigator reports the company hopes to see a 5 percent boost in business over the next five years. It already has partners in other Middle East nations including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Oman.

    But it is Saudi Arabia that is both its new target for growth and a nation that is notorious for anti-gay laws. Homosexuality is not only outlawed, but punishable by death, as Equaldex notes. Likewise, same-sex marriage is against the law, and gay people are not allowed to adopt children. Discrimination in housing and employment is not protected. In Saudi Arabia, the one and only permissible act by someone in the LGBTQ community is to undergo a change in gender, and surgery is not required for new legal papers to be issued.

    In the meantime, I will stick with Goya brand pasta, proudly emblazoned "Producto de Mexico," in green/white/red, the colors of the Mexican flag.

  • 24. VIRick  |  February 11, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Up-Date on Challenge to Non-Discrimination Guidelines for Transgender Students

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 10 February 2017, in "State of Texas v. USA," the case in which the United States is appealing the nationwide preliminary injunction blocking reliance on non-discrimination guidelines as to transgender students under Title IX to the 5th Circuit Court, the United States filed notice that it is withdrawing its motion for a partial stay of said preliminary injunction (partial in that the request had been to limit the injunction to appy only to the plaintiff states.) The motion had been set for oral argument on Tuesday, 14 February, in Austin TX.

    This is the first move by the new administration indicating it is likely changing its position on what protections transgender students are afforded under Title IX.

    Recall that on 21 August 2016 Judge Reed O'Connor (a district court judge in Texas) issued a nationwide injunction blocking the federal government from relying on guidelines that include gender identity in the definition of sex in Title IX’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex.

    The United States then appealed that order to the 5th Circuit Court and asked for a partial stay of the injunction during the appeal. Specifically, the United States asked that while it was appealing, the injunction be limited to only the states that are parties to the lawsuit. Now today, the United States filed notice that it is withdrawing its motion for a partial stay, and together with the plaintiffs, asked that oral argument be removed from the court's calendar.

    Soon after this request, 5th Circuit issued an order officially withdrawing the motion for partial stay and cancelled oral argument.

    Notice is linked here:

    See here for all documents in case:

  • 25. VIRick  |  February 11, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Mexico: Puebla: Diversity PRD Announces Symbolic Weddings at the State Congress

    Mexico: Puebla: Diversidad PRD Anuncia Bodas Simbólicas al Congreso Estatal

    This event could prove interesting, as the leftist PRD party has announced it will be holding a mass symbolic same-sex wedding ceremony inside the state Congress building of Puebla, tomorrow,13 February:

    Bodas Simbólicas
    El Corazón Late, No Debate
    Matrimonio igualitario

    H. Congreso del Estado de Puebla
    Salón Miguel Hidalgo
    5 poniente 128, Centro Histórico (Puebla, Puebla)
    Lunes, 13 febrero 2017, 10:30 AM

    Symbolic Weddings
    The Heart Beats, No Debate
    Marriage Equality

    State Congress of Puebla
    Miguel Hidalgo Salon
    5 West 128, Historic Center (Puebla, Puebla)
    Monday, 13 February 2017, 10:30 AM

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