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Open thread and some news

Community/Meta Transgender Rights

– This morning, the Supreme Court denied review of a lower court decision that ruled in favor of a transgender person who had been denied gender-affirming care.

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


  • 1. VIRick  |  November 1, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    Cayman Islands: LGBT Group Intervenes to Assist in Defending Civil Partnership Law

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    On 1 November 2021, the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands has ruled that Colours Caribbean, a local LGBTQIA advocacy group, has the expertise to intervene in a judicial review brought by a conservative (read as "nut-job") Christian group challenging the way the law that provides for same-sex civil unions was rolled out. Justice Richard Williams said that Colours is not only well aware of the potential consequences for the people this case impacts, it has also played an active role in the development of relevant legislation through its contributions at the consultative stages.

    The judge said the judicial review will still go ahead during the first week of December, but the lawyers for Colours are now permitted to argue in person. The non-profit organization argued last month that the lives of more than 40 couples, mostly same-sex, and their children, would be “severely disrupted” if the judicial review of the governor’s use of his constitutional power to push through the Civil Partnership Law were to succeed, and therefore, they must be allowed to take part in the legal hearing.

    Ruling in their favor, the judge said that as an official intervener, Colours’ lawyer will be given an hour for oral submissions, in addition to their written evidence, to make the case for retaining the Civil Partnership Law alongside the primary defendant, which is the governor’s office. The court has directed Colours’ legal team to work constructively with the legal team for the governor’s office to avoid duplication.….

  • 2. VIRick  |  November 2, 2021 at 10:01 am

    First Out Lesbian Judge Confirmed to Federal Appeals Court

    Beth Robinson, currently a justice on the Vermont Supreme Court, has been confirmed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, making her the first out lesbian to serve on any federal circuit court. She was appointed to Vermont’s high court by Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2011, becoming that state’s first out LGBTQ supreme court justice.

    President Joe Biden nominated Robinson for the federal appeals court position in August, and on 1 November 2021, the US Senate voted 51-45 to confirm her. All Democrats present voted for Robinson, as did two Republicans: Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME). Her confirmation means that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals will now have a majority of Democratic appointees. The circuit hears appeals of cases from federal courts in New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.

    Robinson has a long record of human rights work. As an attorney, she was co-counsel in "Baker v. Vermont," the case that resulted in the 1999 Vermont Supreme Court ruling that the state must grant same-sex couples the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex couples. Because of that ruling, Vermont became the first state to adopt a civil union law. Then in 2009, the state legalized same-sex marriage, making it the fourth state with marriage equality and the first to enact it by legislation rather than by a court ruling. Robinson advocated for that law as head of Vermont Freedom to Marry.

  • 3. VIRick  |  November 2, 2021 at 11:19 am

    First-Ever White House Ofrenda for "El Día de los Muertos"

    Per La Casa Blanca, Organización gubernamental de los Estados Unidos:

    Feliz Día de los Muertos de la Administración Biden-Harris. Hoy y mañana, el 1-2 noviembre 2021, el Presidente y la Primera Dama reconocerán el Día de los Muertos con la primera ofrenda ubicada en la Casa Blanca.

    Happy "Day of the Dead" from the Biden-Harris Administration. Today and tomorrow, 1-2 November 2021, the President and First Lady will recognize the Day of the Dead with the first ofrenda located within the White House.

    This ofrenda is quite an eye opener, if for no other reason than for its being located inside the White House. However, in addition, notice the clever organization of some of the details: the gaily colorful LGBT rainbow colors of the paper flowers boldly displayed in an overarching arc high above the standard Catholic iconography, which in turn is then mounted above the several symbolic Aztec skulls, the multiple lit votive candles, and the offerings of fruit. Many people might not otherwise notice, but this precise hierarchical organization to the display is extremely important for grasping a deeper understanding of its true meaning, one which is otherwise not directly expressed.

    As a result, as expressed in this ofrenda, does everyone now understand who finally overcame?

  • 4. VIRick  |  November 2, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    Chile: House Finance Committee Approves Marriage Equality Legislation

    Per Fundación Iguales:

    El 2 de noviembre 2021, con 6 votos a favor y 3 en contra, el proyecto de ley de matrimonio igualitario fue aprobado en la Comisión de Hacienda de la Cámara, siendo parte del segundo trámite constitucional. Ahora el proyecto de ley de matrimonio igualitario pasa a votación en la Sala de la Cámara, para luego ingrese a votación en el Senado, finalizando su tercer trámite constitucional.

    On 2 November 2021, with 6 votes in favor and 3 against, the marriage equality bill was approved in the Finance Committee of the House, being part of the second constitutional process. The marriage equality bill now passes to a floor vote in the full House Chamber, after which it returns to receive a vote in the Senate, finalizing its third constitutional process.

    Note: The House has added several important clarifying points to the legislation pertaining to adoption and filiation which will thus need to be approved by the Senate, since those modifications/clarifications were not in the original legislation already approved there.

    Today's Finance Committee session was originally scheduled to occur on 9 November, but was suddenly moved forward one week. As of today, the necessary marriage equality cost implementation measure was also subsequently passed.

  • 5. ianbirmingham  |  November 2, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    Texas Gov. Decries 'Pornography' In School Libraries As GOP Targets LGBTQ Books

  • 6. guitaristbl  |  November 2, 2021 at 7:58 pm

    Extremely worrying results in Virginia. Here's hoping things turn around.

  • 7. ianbirmingham  |  November 2, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    Youngkin wins, flipping Virginia red

  • 8. ianbirmingham  |  November 2, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    NJ Nail-biter: With 88% reporting, Republican has 0.1% lead

    Republican strongholds Ciattarelli was counting on — especially Ocean County, the biggest GOP vote-producing county in the state — saw massive turnout while turnout appeared milquetoast in the state’s urban, heavily Democratic areas.

  • 9. ianbirmingham  |  November 3, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy narrowly wins reelection in New Jersey

  • 10. VIRick  |  November 2, 2021 at 8:30 pm

    Michigan to Allow "X" Gender Marker on Driver's Licenses

    On Tuesday, 2 November 2021, the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS), Jocelyn Benson, announced in a press release that from 10 November, Michigan residents will be able to select a non-binary option, labeled as an "X," for both their driver's licenses and state identification cards.

    As of today, those who wish to correct the sex designation on their license or ID must fill out a form, go to an SOS branch office to have their photo taken, and pay the $9 correction fee for a driver's license or $10 for a state ID, according to the Secretary of State. Also, individuals do not have to provide a birth certificate, passport, or court order to make the change. The form is currently available on the SOS department's website.

  • 11. LK2013  |  November 3, 2021 at 11:10 am

    This is wonderful news. However, it revives my massive frustration that the IRS will not recognize my 2007 NJ Civil Union as a marriage for retroactive tax refund purposes. I filed Protective Claims for refunds for a 3-year look back period b/c if my spouse and I could have filed as Married/Joint, we would have paid less taxes plus there was imputed income tax for health benefits. The 2006 NJ Supreme Court ruling that allowed civil unions clearly stated that they were to be equal to marriages in every way. US Supreme Court rulings said civil unions did not equal marriage, and everyone just put away their toys. If NJ would say, "Yes, we recognize your 2007 Civil Union as a Marriage," my Protective Claims would be paid by the IRS. But legislation to retroactively recognize civil unions as marriages never went anywhere and now has vaporized. Our Democratic Governor (who may have just lost re-election) doesn't care, Garden State Equality and Lamda Legal both made it clear they did not care either when I approached them in 2013 (and subsequently) about this issue. We married in NY in 2013 (still not legal in NJ at that time), but our 2007 NJ Civil Union should be recognized by NJ – and the IRS – as the equivalent to marriage that we were promised year after year. I don't have the $$$ to legally pursue this on my own – and the amount of money is not huge, it's the darn principle – but I'm tempted to initiate something pro se, but just don't know how to proceed. If Social Security can be made to recognize that you can't deny people something b/c they weren't married, when you wouldn't let them marry, the IRS should be doing the same thing.

  • 12. ianbirmingham  |  November 4, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    1) Join the ACLU (if not already a member)
    2) Present your case to the ACLU's Legal Panel

    If they don't take your case, then you can probably put together a pro se case from briefs filed in similar cases, but you will need to spend huge amounts of time studying legal procedure and there are huge risks involved. Legal procedure is very complex and it is notoriously full of subtle traps for the naive pro se litigant.

  • 13. LK2013  |  November 6, 2021 at 6:35 pm

    Thank you.

  • 14. VIRick  |  November 4, 2021 at 11:12 pm

    Dating back to 2014, every federal lawsuit filed by a same-sex couple seeking benefits from the Social Security Administration (or, more likely, by a surviving partner seeking survivor's benefits), including both the Thornton and the Ely cases, have been compiled here:

    Unfortunately, I can not provide a similar running record for cases filed against the IRS, likely because there simply aren't any such. Even Edie Windsor's case, and several others like it from Pennsylvania, only ever sued the relevant states over their discriminatory state inheritance tax provisions involving large sums of inherited money. Most cases at the US Tax Court in DC involve the IRS suing individuals for non-payment of taxes due. Attempting anything there on a "pro se" basis would not appear to be the wisest choice.

    The reference to the Pennsylvania common law marriage case from Bucks County, re the discriminatory state inheritance tax, and dated 31 July 2015, is here:

  • 15. LK2013  |  November 6, 2021 at 6:44 pm

    Thank you. There have been no cases in NJ that I know of. I was blown off by Garden State Equality, and there were some activists who were advocating for retroactive recognition of civil unions as marriages – I was in touch with one – but there were some weird alliances with politicians that resulted in these folks strongly discouraging any legal action. I don't know if politicians were promising something behind the scenes to these folks but no progress has been made on this issue, and after Governor Murphy's election I thought we'd get there. However, no response from his administration and now the NJ legislation to advance this has disappeared. It sounds like the best approach would be to challenge the State to recognize the civil unions as marriages but I don't know who would be willing to take on a case like this. I recognize that pro se is not a good idea – I just don't know how to start. The fragmentation of marriage laws, civil unions, etc., has left us all with idiosyncratic issues in different states.

  • 16. LK2013  |  November 6, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    We have been together for more than 40 years, and the first 8 years were in Colorado. Which had common law marriage for heterosexual couples during that time. There are so many ways that we have just been rendered invisible.

    It should be simple to make the argument that the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that same-sex couples were to allowed to marry, period. But they then gave the legislature the option to call it something else – so they went with civil unions. But everything written about civil unions since then has made it crystal clear in NJ law that civil unions were entirely equal to marriages. The problem arises because the US Supreme Court ruled that civil unions were not equivalent to marriage, even if purported to be by the states. It feels like such a cluster, somebody need to unravel it, but who's at fault? NJ for not converting civil unions to marriages, like CT and IL did? Or the Supreme Court for saying states could not define civil unions as equal to marriage?

  • 17. VIRick  |  November 6, 2021 at 8:10 pm

    But who's at fault? NJ for not converting civil unions to marriages, like CT and IL did?

    Yes, unlike the law in Connecticut and Illinois, New Jersey state law is at fault for not authorizing the conversion. However, that does not unravel your problem, but does point you in the correct direction, as suing the state of New Jersey in New Jersey state court might eventually bring some relief.

    Still, before doing anything, one needs to be crystal clear as to whether the effort is truly worth the bother. These types of cases will likely drag on for years and become quite time-consuming,– and expensive. One of the main reasons that both Thornton and Ely sued the Social Security Administration had to do with their age and anticipated longevity. Both were substantially younger than their deceased partners (whose incomes had also been substantially higher), to the point where both were delayed in even filing for benefits until after they had met the minimum age requirement of 62.

    Here's another angle, based on a number of cases in Pennsylvania, a state that still recognized common law marriage through 2004 (originally for opposite-sex couples, but then extended by the Pennsylvania state courts to also include same-sex couples if they could prove they were already together prior to 2005). If Colorado also recognized common law marriage during the time-frame in which you were resident there and were already together, and you can prove both factors, then Colorado state courts ought to be able to extend the concept of common law marriage to include same-sex couples (if they have not already done so), just as the Pennsylvania state courts did. But note: you would need to sue in Colorado state court,– and be physically present in Colorado,– a process that would require multiple trips to that state.

    Then, assuming you eventually obtained a ruling from a Colorado state court affirming that you were common law married in Colorado, would that be sufficient to convince the IRS?

  • 18. LK2013  |  November 7, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    You know, I know it's not worth the money. No question. Unfortunately, I know what litigation costs. It's maybe for $10,000 in question here, plus interest (which, granted, adds up in a hurry).

    It's the fact that it's so obviously wrong that this is a problem. But unfortunately I also know that litigation often does not right wrongs. Sadly.

    All the more reason to celebrate when there is a significant victory, like the Social Security cases. Which also should never have taken this long to be resolved.

    Thank you for your time and attention, truly, I appreciate it.

    FYI, I'm going to keep those Protective Claims open forever if that's what it takes. And keep writing NJ legislators even if they don't answer me.

  • 19. VIRick  |  November 3, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    Guanajuato: Congress Committee Accepts Marriage Equality/State Constitutional Reform

    Per Nuestras Noticias Bajío:

    El 3 de noviembre 2021, la Comisión de Gobernación y Puntos Constitucionales del Congreso de Guanajuato aprobó la metodología de trabajo para analizar la iniciativa entorno a matrimonio igualitario y reformar la Constitución del Estado.

    On 3 November 2021, the Governance and Constitutional Points Committee of the Guanajuato Congress approved the work methodology to analyze the initiative pertaining to marriage equality and to reform the State Constitution.

    Per Gerardo Fernández González (Verde):

    Estamos trabajando para garantizar que todas las personas vivan en igualdad de derechos.

    We are working to guarantee that all persons live with equality of rights.

    Gerardo Fernández González (Verde) is the lead sponsor of the pending marriage equality legislation before the Guanajuato Congress, and is supported by the remainder of the Verde bench. By almost every parameter except for marriage equality, Guanajuato state, the heart of the Bajío, is consistently ranked as being the most amenable locality in all of Mexico in which to live. Thus, the fact that Guanajuato has now finally begun the process to legalize same-sex marriage is the clearest sign yet that the race to avoid being "last in line" is officially under way.

  • 20. VIRick  |  November 4, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    Tennessee: Transgender Teen Sues in Federal Court over School Sports Ban

    On Thursday, 4 November 2021, civil rights groups filed a federal lawsuit against a Tennessee law that restricts transgender students’ participation in sports, arguing that the law is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

    The law, which took effect in March 2021, on the same day Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed it, requires student athletes and their parents to prove the student's sex they were assigned at birth, either through an “original” birth certificate or some other form of evidence. As a result, it bars transgender students from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identities.

    Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Tennessee filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on behalf of Luc Esquivel, a 14-year-old freshman at Farragut High School in Knoxville. Luc, a trans boy, said he was hoping to play on the boys’ golf team at Farragut, but the law will bar him from being able to do so.

  • 21. VIRick  |  November 4, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    Chile: Senate to Immediately Approve House Version of Marriage Equality Legislation

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    The President of the Senate, Ximena Rincón, says that she plans to hold the final vote to approve the marriage equality bill on the same day that it passes the Chamber of Deputies, without the need to convene a mixed commission.

    La Presidenta del Senado apoya la aprobación del matrimonio igualitario sin necesidad de pasar a comisión mixta. Ximena Rincón también respalda que el proyecto de ley se vote en el Senado, el mismo día que en la Sala de la Cámara.

  • 22. Randolph_Finder  |  November 5, 2021 at 2:27 pm

    So basically, the Senate approved its version of the legislation, the House did some tweeks to the bill in the process of considering it and normally, you'd need a "conference committee" (USA term) to come up with a common bill to go back through the process in both houses. It appears that in this case, the Senate President is saying, "*nope*, we are putting our bill in the trash and will bring up the house bill for passage". Unclear whether this is something the President can do on his own, depends on the rules of the Chilean Congress, but at *worst* they are back to the idea of a "Conference Committee".

    We could see final passage this month, the question is when do things go into effect? (Will they beat Switzerland)

  • 23. VIRick  |  November 5, 2021 at 6:11 pm

    Marriage equality in Switzerland has been set to begin from 1 July 2022.

    It is still possible for Chile to beat that date, but only by a very short interval in time. If the legislative process were to be completed before the end of November, and the President were to quickly sign the legislation, a 6-month waiting period prior to its implementation then follows, commencing from the exact date of the presidential signing. Thus, the first same-sex marriages could still occur in Chile in June 2022, about one month before the scheduled start-up date in Switzerland.

    So, as of this moment, the snail-paced race between the two is still a toss-up.

  • 24. Randolph_Finder  |  November 9, 2021 at 6:10 am

    From what you are saying, I believe if the legislation is signed in 2021, Chile wins (always nice when the Supreme Court gives its opinion *beforehand*) if the legislation is signed after the first of the year, Switzerland wins.

  • 25. VIRick  |  November 4, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    Durango: Male Couple Gains Amparo to Marry

    ¡Habrá boda! El 4 de noviembre 2021, una pareja de hombres gana amparo a casarse en Durango. Este es el segundo amparo ganado recientemente por el abogado, Alejandro Aranda, para parejas del mismo sexo; el primero fue para una pareja de mujeres.

    There will be a wedding! On 4 November 2021, a male couple gains an amparo to marry in Durango. This is the second amparo recently won by the lawyer, Alejandro Aranda, for same-sex couples; the first was for a female couple.

    Statewide, this is actually the third amparo gained overall in Durango. However, the first was gained so long ago that it has mostly been forgotten. Per Wikipedia:

    In December 2013, the first same-sex male couple was able to marry in Durango after obtaining an injunction (amparo).

  • 26. VIRick  |  November 5, 2021 at 11:49 am

    Sinaloa: First Same-Sex Marriage in Escuinapa

    Iris Johana y Yesenia Guadalupe se casaron en el primer matrimonio igualitario que se registra en Escuinapa. La Juez Civil Claudia Barrón Saucedo casó a la pareja el pasado 3 de noviembre 2021, nueve años después de que habían decidido vivir juntas.

    Iris Johana and Yesenia Guadalupe were married in the first equal marriage registered in Escuinapa. Civil Judge Claudia Barrón Saucedo married the couple on 3 November 2021, nine years after they had decided to live together.

    Escuinapa sits on the coast at the extreme southern end of Sinaloa, abutting Nayarit.

  • 27. VIRick  |  November 5, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    Paraguay: A Marriage Equality Thought and Reminder

    Per J Carma:

    Para Juan y Ramón: Si alguna vez el matrimonio igualitario llega a ser una realidad en el Paraguay, nadie va a obligarte a casarte con una persona de tu mismo sexo, seas heterosexual, gay, o bisexual. Esto para los que ven leyes pro-matrimonio-gay por todos lados.

    For Juan and Ramón: If at some time marriage equality comes to be a reality in Paraguay, no one is going to obligate you to marry with a person of your same sex, whether you be heterosexual, gay, or bisexual. This for those who see pro-gay-marriage laws everywhere.

  • 28. VIRick  |  November 5, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    Colombia Lifts Ban on Blood Donations from Gay Men

    Per LGBT Marriage News and Juan Alcaraz:

    Colombia retira la prohibición de donación de sangre a hombres que tienen sexo con hombres y con mujeres trans. El INS modificó la pregunta 12 del lineamiento técnico para la selección de donantes. Esto es histórico en el país.

    Colombia lifts the prohibition on blood donations from men who have sex with men and with trans women. The INS modified question 12 of the technical guidelines for donor selection. This is historic for the country.

    With this policy change in Colombia, it is now legal for gay men throughout South America to donate blood without restriction,– except in the two usual suspect nations, Paraguay and Venezuela, where it is still prohibited. Elsewhere in Latin America, such blood donations are also still prohibited in Panamá and in El Salvador.

    INS = Instituto Nacional de Salud (National Health Institute)

  • 29. VIRick  |  November 5, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    Spain Extends Access to Assisted Reproduction

    Per LGBT Marriage News and Federación Estatal LGTBI:

    The Spanish Government has extended access to assisted reproduction to include single women and lesbian couples, as well as bisexual and trans persons capable of pregnancy.

  • 30. ianbirmingham  |  November 5, 2021 at 6:08 pm

    China LGBT rights group shuts down amid hostile environment

    LGBT Rights Advocacy China is ceasing all activities and shutting down its social media accounts.

    While there are many other groups focused on helping LGBT individuals, LGBT Rights Advocacy is one of a handful who focused on changing law and policy.

    China's Ministry of Civil Affairs announced Friday that they have dealt with 3,300 illegal social organizations, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

    The group often brought landmark cases to the court, challenging the law to make space for non-traditional families, and often helped start public discussions on those issues.

    In April last year, they helped a lesbian sue for custody rights for her children, after her partner took them and stopped communicating with her. She had given birth to one of the two children. Under Chinese law, she could claim she was the birth mother of one child, but wanted to fight for the right to see the other as well. Her case is still lingering in court.

    The group also helped a young woman sue textbook publishers for writing that homosexuality was a disorder in a high profile case that gained national prominence and was reported on by state media. She lost the case in February, after years of litigation.

    “In the entire community, they gave us a lot of hope and guidance, giving everyone the confidence to go out there and do something” said a 34-year-old man, who sued his former employer in 2018 for discrimination and won with the help of the group.

  • 31. VIRick  |  November 7, 2021 at 9:13 am

    Bolivia: National LGBTI Pride Parade

    Per Noel Fuentes:

    Here is a video clip of the National LGBTI Pride Parade (Marcha Nacional de Coalibol LGBTI) that took place yesterday, 6 November 2021, in Oruro, Bolivia:

  • 32. VIRick  |  November 7, 2021 at 11:18 am

    Meanwhile, from the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires

    Mientras Tanto, de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires

    Per Agencia Presentes:

    On the same date, per 6 separate video clips from the Plaza de Mayo, we have this,– from the outer fringes of the subtle to the totally sublime:

    I especially enjoyed the unabashed performance of the dude in the white high-heel boots in video #5, celebrating Pride 2021 in Argentina (La 30 Marcha de la Diversidad Sexual).

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