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11/25 news round-up and open thread UPDATE

Community/Meta Discrimination

– A new report points out the changes that the Trump administration has made to LGBT language on federal websites.

– Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is filing yet another challenge to a pro-LGBT ordinance. This time on behalf of a photographer who opposes same-sex marriage.

– Via Equality Case Files: “An Alaska woman is suing state officials after being denied her permanent fund dividend, a dividend paid to all Alaskans who meet residency requirements, which include being present in the state a certain number of days in the year. Absences due to accompanying a military spouse stationed out of state are not counted for purposes of denying eligibility.”

UPDATE: DOJ Pride, a group that represents LGBT DOJ employees has sent Attorney General Barr a letter criticizing the DOJ’s position on LGBT employment.

This is an open thread. We’ll post any breaking news.

15 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. VIRick  |  November 25, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Washington State: Lesbian Widow, Denied SSA Survivor Benefits, Has Sued

    A woman who was denied survivor benefits from Social Security because she was in a relationship with another woman has sued. Lawyers for Helen Thornton of Olympia WA appeared in federal court in Tacoma last week to ask a judge to overturn the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) refusal to grant her survivor benefits after she was with her partner, Marge Brown, for 27 years.

    Brown and Thornton met in 1978 and moved in with each other in 1979. Over the next 27 years, the women bought a house, raised a son together, and were generally recognized by their community as a family. Thornton helped put Brown through graduate school by working at a grocery store, and when Brown was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003, Thornton cared for her for three years. In 2006, Brown passed away, six years before Washington State recognized marriage equality in 2012. Brown left everything to Thornton in her will.

    “We would have gotten married had we been allowed to get married,” Thornton said. Even though their finances were intertwined and Thornton made sacrifices for their relationship, like married couples do, she was denied survivor benefits when she applied in 2015, just before she turned 60.

    Social Security requires that a couple be married for nine months in order for a widow to be eligible for survivor benefits. Since Brown and Thornton were unable to be married, the SSA is refusing to give Thornton the nearly $1000 a month in benefits to which she would otherwise be entitled.

    Lambda Legal is representing her in the case, and said in a statement, that SSA is using an unconstitutional law, Washington’s old ban on marriage equality, to deny Thornton benefits she is due, benefits that the couple paid for. “Heterosexual surviving spouses are able to count on the critical financial protection of survivor’s benefits after the death of their loved ones, but SSA casts surviving same-sex partners like Helen aside, even though they paid the same lifetime of contributions from their paychecks,” said Peter Renn of Lambda Legal in a statement.
    https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2019/11/lesbian-widow

  • 2. VIRick  |  November 25, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Haiti: Militant LGBT Activist, Charlot Jeudy, Found Dead in Port-au-Prince

    Haiti: Le Militant Homosexuel, Charlot Jeudy, Retrouvé Mort à Port-au-Prince

    Le militant des droits des LGBTI Charlot Jeudy a été tué dimanche, 24 novembre 2019, à Port-au-Prince, a rapporté Amélie Baron, journaliste correspondant de RFI en Haiti. Selon d’autres sources, le président de Kouraj a été empoisonné et a été retrouvé mort dans sa résidence privée à Vivy Mitchell.

    Initiateur du Festival LGBTI MassiMadi, qui a soulevé un tollé dans les médias, Charlot Jeudy est le fondateur de l’Association Kouraj, une structure mise en place pour défendre la place des personnes homosexuelles dans la société. "Les circonstances de ce meurtre sont encore floues mais c’est une terrible nouvelle pour la communauté, et plus largement pour les défenseurs des droits humains dans le pays," a indiqué Amélie Baron.
    https://rezonodwes.com/2019/11/25/le-militant-hom

    LGBTI rights activist Charlot Jeudy was killed Sunday, 24 November 2019, in Port-au-Prince, said Amélie Baron, RFI correspondent journalist in Haiti. According to other sources, the president of Kouraj was poisoned and found dead in his private residence at Vivy Mitchell.

    Initiator of the LGBTI Festival MassiMadi, which raised an uproar in the media, Charlot Jeudy is the founder of Association Kouraj, a structure set up to defend the position of homosexual people within society. "The circumstances of this murder are still unclear, but this is terrible news for the community, and more broadly for human rights defenders in the country," said Amélie Baron.

  • 3. VIRick  |  November 25, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Due to the fact that the SSA continues to deny spousal survivor's benefits in instances where same-sex couples had been unable to marry due to unconstitutional laws blocking their ability to do so, there have been a whole series of federal lawsuits against the SSA on this same matter:

    The North Carolina case, "Colosimo v. Berryhill," is here:
    https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/colosi….

    The Motion for Summary Judgment is here:
    https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/c….

    The above-mentioned Washington State case, "Thornton v. Berryhill," is here:
    https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/thornt….

    Its First Amended Complaint, filed on 12 November 2018, is here:
    https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/t….
    The original complaint was filed in September.

    The Arizona case, "Ely v. Berryhill," is here:
    https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/ely-v-….

    Its Complaint, filed on 20 November 2018, is here:
    https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/e….

    The New Mexico case, "Gonzales v. Berryhill," is here:
    https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/gonzal….

    Plaintiff's Motion to Reverse Agency Decision, filed 13 December 2018, is here:
    https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/g….

  • 4. ianbirmingham  |  November 25, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    Elizabeth Warren Leads Among LGBTQ+ Voters in First-of-Its-Kind Poll

    In a first-of-its-kind poll, a new survey from YouGov and Out magazine found that LGBTQ+ voters favor the Massachusetts Senator by a nearly 2-to-1 margin over her Democratic rivals in the 2020 primary race.

    https://www.out.com/election/2019/11/25/exclusive

  • 5. VIRick  |  November 26, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    Alaska: Up-Date on "Denali Smith v. Dunleavy;" Whistleblower Accuses State of Deliberate Discrimination

    A whistleblower has stepped forward in a federal court case alleging that the Alaska state government deliberately continued to deny benefits to same-sex married residents four years after the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, making such treatment unconstitutional.

    The case involves Denali Nicole Smith, an Alaskan resident who in 2019 was informed by the state government that she and her wife, a fellow Alaskan resident, were ineligible to receive payments from the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD), the state’s oil wealth fund, because of Alaska’s 1998 constitutional amendment barring the government from recognizing same-sex marriages (see entry in previous thread for a more complete, case-specific rationalization).

    This reasoning flies in the face of three different court decisions: a 2014 US District Court decision overturning Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional, the 2015 US Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage equality, and a 2017 US Supreme Court decision re-stating (as was clearly stated in the 2015 decision) that, in addition to marriage, same-sex couples are entitled to the “constellation of benefits” normally given to different-sex married couples.

    After Smith filed her suit, the Alaska Department of Law pledged to investigate, and the PFD Division quickly informed her that she had been approved to receive benefits. However, the Division refused to say why she had suddenly been approved, whether she would continue to receive PFD benefits in future years, or how many other legally-married same-sex couples had been denied in past years.

    Although Alaska Attorney-General Kevin G. Clarkson says the PFD Division is not aware of anyone else who has been denied benefits like Smith, an anonymous whistleblower who plans to testify has claimed that the Division had an official policy of denying benefits to same-sex spouses. Furthermore, the state’s official booklet explaining how to receive PFD benefits, which is updated annually, explicitly states that same-sex residents may not receive benefits because of the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

    So while Smith may have her PFD benefits, for now, there’s no telling how many of the 321 same-sex couples who have married in Alaska since 2014 have been denied or how many did not apply at all because of the state booklet saying that they would be denied.
    https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2019/11/whistleblower

    The Complaint in "Smith v. Dunleavy," filed on 20 November 2019, is here:
    http://files.eqcf.org/cases/319-cv-00298-1/?fbcli

  • 6. VIRick  |  November 26, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    California: Federal Judge Rules against State Dept. in Same-Sex Couple's Citizenship Suit

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks have twin sons, born four minutes apart. The US State Department has maintained that one is a US citizen and one is not.

    The same-sex couple has been fighting the US government in federal court for citizenship rights for their young child, and on Thursday, 24 November 2019, a judge ruled that the child in question, Ethan, is indeed a US citizen because his parents were married at the time of his birth, and that therefore, the State Department had misapplied the law.

    John F. Walter, a federal judge in California, has now ruled that the Immigration and Nationality Act, the law that determines whether a person is a US citizen by birth, makes Ethan a citizen from birth. He said that the parents were married at the time of his birth, and the law “does not require a person born during their parents‘ marriage to demonstrate a biological relationship with both of their married parents.”

    A State Department spokesperson told NPR that the department is aware of the ruling and is reviewing it, together with the Department of Justice.
    https://stockdailydish.com/judge-rules-against-st

  • 7. bayareajohn  |  November 26, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    Filling in the "why", the State Dept. quizzed the couple upon their move to the USA from Canada, where they were married. Turns out one of the couple was not a US citizen, and each of them donated their sperm for fathering one of the twins. State ruled that the one fathered by the non-citizen can't be a citizen while the other can, regardless of a legal marriage well before the childbirth. Wrong. Still more leftover bull clogging the tunnel to equality.

  • 8. VIRick  |  November 26, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Mexico: Supreme Court Issues Transgender Jurisprudence

    Per Rex Wockner:

    On 26 November 2019, Mexico's Supreme Court has issued jurisprudence that transgender people can change (the gender marker on) their birth certificates via a simple administrative process at the civil registry. Now, all federal judges must rule that way (in any amparo proceedings) and all of Mexico's 31 states must up-date their laws to correspond (which can take some time).

    Note: The Transgender Jurisprudence of 2019, just issued, now places this entire matter of the administrative self-declaration of one's own gender on exactly the same level as that of the Marriage Equality Jurisprudence of 2015. All federal judges must immediately comply, and issue all amparo requests accordingly. In addition, all 31 states are now under Supreme Court jurisprudence to up-date their state laws/codes to allow for administrative self-declaration.

    However, as we already know from the Marriage Equality Jurisprudence, 4 1/2 years later, we still only have 19 jurisdictions in compliance, with 13 states continuing to refuse. The self-declaring Gender Identity Law, will take as long, or longer, for full compliance, as currently, only about 10 of Mexico's 32 jurisdictions have already instituted such Gender Identity Laws. And of course, just as with Marriage Equality whereby Mexican same-sex couples can marry in any jurisdiction where it is legal, and said marriage must be recognized back home, so can transgender individuals change their gender identity in any jurisdiction where self-declaration is legal, and thus be assured that such change be recognized back home.

    Per México Igualitario:

    Se ha dado un paso importante para los derechos de la comunidad trans en México. La SCJN se pronunció para que el procedimiento para la adecuación de actas de nacimiento a personas trans sea con un trámite administrativo sencillo ante el propio Registro Civil.
    https://twitter.com/MX_Igualitario

    An important step has been taken for the rights of the trans community in Mexico. The SCJN has ruled that the procedure for the adaptation of birth certificates for trans persons is to be with a simple administrative process before the Civil Registry itself.

    Per Geraldina González de la Vega:

    Reconocer en tesis de jurisprudencia que la vía administrativa es la idónea para el cambio de acta (de nacimiento) es enorme.
    https://twitter.com/Geraldina_GV/status/119942442

    To recognize in a jurisprudence thesis that the administrative route is the ideal for the change on birth certificates is enormous.

  • 9. VIRick  |  November 26, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    Mexico: Summary Up-Date of Court Rulings/State Gender Identity Laws

    In late 2014, the Legislative Assembly of Mexico City (CDMX) unanimously (46-0) approved a gender identity law whereby transgender individuals simply need to notify the Civil Registry that they wish to change the gender information on their birth certificates. Sex reassignment surgery, psychological therapies, or any other type of diagnosis would no longer be required. Said law took effect in early 2015, and by late 2018, 3,481 transgender individuals from all over Mexico (2,388 transwomen and 1,093 transmen) had taken advantage of the law.

    As of October 2019, nine states have followed suit: Michoacán (2017), Nayarit (2017), Coahuila (2018), Hidalgo (2019), San Luis Potosí (2019), Colima (2019), Baja California (2019), Oaxaca (2019), and Tlaxcala (2019).

    In August 2018, in two separate cases, federal judges in Chihuahua and Tamaulipas ordered the modification of transgender women's birth certificates. Similarly, in April 2019, another Chihuahua federal judge ordered that the gender marker on a transgender person's birth certificate be altered to reflect their gender identity.

    In October 2018, in a case of a transgender person from Veracruz who was denied recognition of their legal name and gender, the SCJN held that forbidding transgender people from changing their legal gender on official documents is a violation of constitutional rights. Likewise, in May 2019, in a case involving a transgender person from Jalisco who was denied the right to change their legal gender, it ruled that the right to self-determination of gender identity is a fundamental human right.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Mexi

    Note: But ultimately, it was the clash between the several favorably-decided cases of August 2018 which had been appealed from both Chihuahua and Tamaulipas (cited above), versus a number of other cases which had been appealed from Guanajuato (not cited, but need to be noted) wherein which the federal judges there adamantly continued to rule in the opposite direction, that finally forced the Supreme Court's hand in issuing their Transgender Jurisprudence of 2019. They upheld, of course, the favorably-decided rulings from Chihuahua and Tamaulipas, while striking down the negatively-decided cases from Guanajuato.

    Rather extraordinarily, as background leading up to today's jurisprudence, over the past 3 years, in a co-ordinated effort, and with the generous assistance of México Igualitario, the transgender women of Chihuahua managed to obtain a total of 104 favorable gender identity amparo judgments from federal courts in that state. Further specifics (in Spanish) concerning the resulting Chihuahua/Guanajuato stand-off, with their dueling Circuit Court rulings, can be found here:
    https://twitter.com/MX_Igualitario

    The jurisprudence, just announced, will become effective once published.

  • 10. ianbirmingham  |  November 27, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Trump War Against Trans Americans Continues as CDC Replaces LGBTQ References with LGB

    In the ongoing war on transgender and non-binary Americans, the Trump administration has scrubbed the official website of the Centers for Disease Control of all references to transgender and non-binary identities on specific pages related to queer youth, while also deleting transgender statistics from the 2015 and 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys.

    This comes on the one year anniversary of the United States Health Department and the Office of Civil Rights removing all language applying to Transgender identities which led the Trump administration to inevitably challenge the inclusion of all LGBT people within the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That case is currently being deliberated in the US Supreme Court and a decision is expected in June. It would mark the first time in modern history that the legal system has been weaponized to further disenfranchise a minority and make them vulnerable to discrimination with no recourse.

    The fast and furious act of legislating transgender people out of existence has been ongoing since the first days of Donald Trump’s 2016 election. So far, transgender people have been banned from serving in the military, access to healthcare for members of the LGBT community has been compromised by the newly formed Division of Religious Freedom and Moral Conscience which allows medical caregivers to legally refuse treatment to LGBT individuals if they are suspected of being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

    Just yesterday, the Trump administration stripped all policies for transgender prison inmates that protected them from rape and abuse.

    LGBT people will also not be counted in the 2020 United States census.

    https://medium.com/@Phaylen/trump-war-against-tra

  • 11. VIRick  |  November 27, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Utah to Become 19th State to Ban "Conversion Therapy"

    On Tuesday, 26 November 2019, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced that his state would implement regulations prohibiting mental health experts from engaging in ex-gay "conversion therapy" on LGBTQ youth, making Utah the 19th state to prohibit the widely discredited practice. The announcement from a Herbert, a Republican, comes after a tumultuous debate over "conversion therapy" in the heavily Mormon state, where family rejection of LGBTQ youth is known to contribute to Utah’s homeless population.

    In June, after legislation seeking to prohibit "conversion therapy" failed in the state legislature, Herbert announced that the Utah Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing would seek to establish rules to regulate "conversion therapy." At the time, the results of that undertaking weren’t known.

    Although the Mormon Church last month issued a statement urging Utah not to ban "conversion therapy," the Church of Latter-day Saints signaled in a new statement that it supports the agreement.

    According to the Herbert’s office, the Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing is working to file the rule, which will be published on 15 December. A 30-day public comment period will follow that will end on 14 January 2020. The new rule could be effective as soon as 22 January 2020. The regulation is expected to have the same language as HB 399, legislation introduced by Rep. Craig Hall that failed in the state legislature, and will apply to all licensed therapists in Utah. However, it will not apply to practitioners of "conversion therapy" who are not therapists, such as clergy, nor for LGBTQ adults seeking to participate in the discredited practice with a licensed therapist.

    "Conversion therapy" for youth is already banned by law in DC and 18 states: Connecticut, California, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington State, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, and Maine. Former Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed an executive order against "conversion therapy." In addition, multiple city/county jurisdictions in Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida have also banned the practice.
    https://www.washingtonblade.com/2019/11/27/utah-t

  • 12. VIRick  |  November 27, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Indiana: Local Ordinances Providing LGBTQ Protections Validated

    Per Equality Case Files:

    In a victory for supporters of LGBTQ rights, three so-called "christian" conservative organizations have failed in their legal fight to invalidate local ordinances in Indianapolis, Carmel, Bloomington, and Columbus that provide specific LGBTQ protections.

    On 22 November 2019, in "Indiana Family Institute v. City of Carmel," in Indiana state court, Judge Casati issued an order granting the defendants' motions for summary judgment "on the basis of this Court finding that Plaintiffs’ have neither standing nor ripe claims." The order is here:
    http://files.eqcf.org/cases/29d01-1512-mi-010207-

  • 13. VIRick  |  November 27, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    Yucatán: State Constitutional Amendment in Favor of Marriage Equality Presented

    Per Mily Romero‏ (MC):

    Hoy, el 27 de noviembre 2019, presentamos una iniciativa a favor del matrimonio igualitario, la cual irá de la mano con la propuesta del Poder Judicial de Yucatán; éstas se complementarán, por una lado en la Constitución Política y por el otro en el Código de Familia.
    https://twitter.com/MilyRomeroYuc
    https://www.lajornadamaya.mx/2019-11-27/Proponen-

    Today, 27 November 2019, we presented an initiative in favor of marriage equality, which will go hand in hand with the proposal from the State Judiciary of Yucatán; these will be complementary, on the one hand in the Political Constitution and on the other in the Family Code.

    Note: In Yucatán, both modifications are necessary, because at present, both the state constitution and the state family code ban same-sex marriage.

  • 14. VIRick  |  November 27, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Japan: Yokohama to Issue Same-Sex Partnership Certificates

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    A major city just south of Tokyo is set to start issuing certificates to same-sex couples, recognizing their partnerships as equivalent to marriage. Yokohama City, which has a population of over 3.7 million, will launch the partnership system on Monday, 2 December 2019. An increasing number of local governments have established similar systems in recent years, with Daito (Osaka Prefecture) to follow on Wednesday, 4 December 2019.

    Regardless of their genders on family registers (birth records), adult couples are eligible to apply for the certificates by submitting a written pledge recognizing each other as partners in life.

    The certification is not legally valid, as Japanese law defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman, but officials say the city plans to allow certificate holders to receive the same public services as married couples, such as the eligibility to apply for city-run apartments. The city's system will also cover those whose gender identity is neither exclusively male nor female, as well as common-law couples.

    Earlier this month, Kanagawa Prefecture started accepting applications for prefectural housing units from couples with certificates from municipalities within the prefecture. Yokohama is its prefectural capital.
    https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191127_

  • 15. ianbirmingham  |  November 27, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Almost Thirty Percent Of All U.S. Circuit Judges Are Now Trump Appointees

    https://thefederalist.com/2019/11/21/almost-30-pe

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