Utah To Pay Same-Sex Couples’ Legal Fees….


The state of Utah is agreeing to pay legal fees for four married same-sex couples who sued because the state refused to recognize their unions.

The $95,000 settlement filed Monday pays about half the couples’ attorney fees. It ends a lawsuit that started after more than 1,000 same-sex couples wed when the state’s ban on gay marriage was struck down in December.

The state initially refused to recognize those unions as it fought in court to keep the gay marriage ban in place.

The Deseret News reports (http://bit.ly/1vlNLye) the state dropped the marriage recognition case after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from Utah and four other states, making gay marriage legal there.

Utah has already spent $600,000 on outside attorneys brought in to defend the ban.

Associated Press

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Consumer Products Giant Procter & Gamble Supports Marriage Equality….


Procter & Gamble, makers of some of the world’s best known brands — including Charmin, Crest, Gillette, Pampers, and Tide — said Tuesday it openly supports same-sex marriage.

The Cincinnati-based consumer products giant says it has embraced its LGBT employees for more than 20 years, and that same-sex marriage has become an important enough issue to its workers that it is taking a public stand, reports The Cincinnati Enquirer.

P&G executives say they want to attract top talent from all backgrounds and part of that strategy is providing a welcoming work environment.

P&G’s declaration comes less than two weeks after the Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban, as well as similar bans in Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

Deborah P. Majoras, P&G’s chief legal officer and executive sponsor to the company’s LGBT-ally group said, “We have always supported our employees and fostered a culture of inclusion and respect – this includes the right to marry whomever they choose and to have that union legally recognized.”

“At the heart of it all, P&G is a company heavily dependent on innovation – what’s critical are new insights and new ideas,” said William Gipson, P&G’s chief global diversity officer. “For our company, it’s not a political statement, but a statement of support for our employees.”

LGBTQ Nation

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Texas Diners Belittle “Faggot” Server On Receipt….


The management of a Texas restaurant has failed to defend an employee against antigay customers.

Two diners at Kelley’s Country Cookin’, an eatery in the suburbs of Houston, left a disparaging note about a gay server on their receipt last Wednesday.

“Don’t want to listen to a faggot through my whole meal,” read the scrawl on the top of the receipt.

The message was directed not at their own waiter, but at Blake Butler, a 19-year-old server who was also working that day.

“I just thought it was disgusting,” Butler told KTRK, a Houston TV station.

“Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, but instead of leaving the opinion out for everyone to see, just keep it to yourself,” he added.

When Butler, who is gay, complained to the manager during this shift, he was disappointed when she did not come to his defense and allowed the slur to go unchallenged.

“Instead of having my back and be like, you know, ‘That’s my employee. I can’t have you talking about my employees like that.’ She was like, ‘Oh. It’s OK. I’m sorry,’” he said.

The owner of Kelley’s Country Cookin’ later stated that the manager did not know how to handle the situation, but had he been there, he would have talked to the diners about the note.

The situation also forced Butler to come out to his parents this week, since he “didn’t want them to find out on the news.”

Texas state law does not prohibit discrimination against LGBT employees. In addition, a “license to discriminate” bill, Senate Joint Resolution 10, was introduced this month in the Texas State Senate. If passed, the measure may allow business owners and services greater freedom to refuse to serve LGBT customers or hire LGBT employees if doing so would violate their religious beliefs.

Daniel Reynolds – The Advocate

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Ideas Are Scary….

When viewing this think of the “Idea” as a LGBTI person.

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What We Can Learn From The Women Who Passed As Men To Serve In The U.S. Army….


Now that the Pentagon has lifted the 1994 ban barring women from serving in special-operations and combat units, critics are waging a battle of their own, insisting that women lack the physical and psychological stamina that combat requires. While military officials insist they won’t soften their intense standards in order to allow more women entry, opponents argue that women will never be able to join otherwise, and that the Pentagon’s push for diversity will only result in a weakened United States military that places us at risk. Right now, the Marine Corps is in the middle of an experiment to test whether women can adequately perform the tough work required to defend the nation.

But American history is already full of women who can answer that question: during the Civil War, there were as many as 400 women who disguised themselves as men and fought for both the Union and the Confederacy. They pulled off their charades so well that few people today even know their stories.

“War actually shapes history, and history has always been about men,” says C.J. Longanecker, a historian and former ranger for the National Park Service. “But women were always there; they just didn’t get the press coverage.”

For one female soldier buried in Chalmette National Cemetery in Louisiana, it took more than 100 years to get the press coverage she deserved. Her story ends just east of New Orleans, where 15,000 headstones stretch out in seemingly infinite rows, interrupted only by the occasional oak tree.

Her story begins, though, in 1843 in Afton, N.Y., when a farmer’s wife gave birth to the first of her nine children—Sarah Rosetta, or just Rosetta. Like the lives of so many other women who enlisted as men, Rosetta’s life would revolve around hard labor and her family’s many debts. By the time Rosetta turned 19, she still had no marriage offers—a suffocating verdict for a woman who lacked both education and social status in the 19th century.

So Rosetta cut her hair, found a pair of men’s trousers and became 21-year-old Lyons Wakeman, leaving behind her family’s farm and fighting for independence in the only way that seemed possible.

She enlisted with the 153rd New York Infantry regiment, which encamped at both Alexandria, Va., and Washington D.C. before campaigning in Louisiana. In her book An Uncommon Soldier, Historian Lauren Cook Burgess has assembled Rosetta’s private letters to her family from the battlefield. As Burgess’ book shows us, Rosetta not only survived in a soldier’s life, she excelled at it:

“I don’t know how long before I shall have to go in the field of battle,” Rosetta writes. “For my part I don’t care. I don’t feel afraid to go…I am as independent as a hog on the ice.”

The eager young woman took to chewing tobacco and adopted all the “vices” that a typical soldier embraced. The five-ft.-tall Rosetta even won a brawl once with a much larger and much rowdier soldier than she, landing a few punches on him and no doubt earning some cheers from her comrades.

Rosetta eventually fought in another kind of battle, one more savage than she could have imagined. The Battle of Pleasant Hill took place in northwest Louisiana on Apr. 9, 1864. It was part of the Union Army’s push to capture the area from the Confederates. “There was a heavy cannonading [sic] all day and a sharp firing of infantry,” Rosetta writes. ”I had to face the enemy bullets with my regiment. I was under fire about four hours and laid on the field of battle all night.” Rosetta’s regiment launched a full frontal attack on the Confederates, with their commanding officers later praising the 153rd for their fierce bravery.

Meanwhile, the soldier seemed forever haunted by her oppressed past life as a farmer’s daughter. In letters to New York, Rosetta can’t help repeat that she will never return home, as if she had to convince not only her family, but also herself.

“If I ever get clear from the Army I will come home and make you a visit, but I shall not stay long,” Rosetta writes. “I shall never live in that neighborhood again.”

Had Rosetta lived, she may well have spent the rest of her days as a man, as multiple women actually did when the fighting was over. Rosetta, however, did not live. She fell prey to the menace that killed more than 413,000 soldiers in the Civil War—disease. After the Battle of Pleasant Hill, Rosetta and her comrades were forced to participate in a hellish two-day, 70-mile march through the untamed Louisiana wilderness, with many men collapsing from exhaustion and pain before reaching the end. Rosetta survived, but developed chronic dysentery.

By the time Rosetta’s ambulance reached the Marine U.S.A General Hospital near New Orleans 15 days later, she had deteriorated into the acute stages of her disease.

Rosetta languished for a month and then died. Lyons Wakeman’s cover, however, did not. In a stunning combination of luck and poor 19th-century healthcare, it seems the Army never discovered Lyons’ true identity. The military ironically lists Lyons Wakeman as an “honest” and “faithful” soldier, who died from chronic diarrhea while serving.

Back in New York, the U.S. census that took place shortly after the war makes no mention of a Rosetta Wakeman, only listing the now-dead Lyons. Rosetta’s family never mentioned their eldest daughter again, instead hesitantly referring to a long-gone sibling “who went by the name of Lyons,” according to Burgess’ research. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when Rosetta’s descendants examined a stack of faded letters kept in an attic, that the astounding legacy of Rosetta—aka Lyons—was made public.

Could the Army hospital have possibly never noticed Rosetta’s true gender? Experts say it’s more plausible than you’d think. “Even enlisting, they didn’t do a physical examination without any clothes on, and people didn’t look at other people’s naked bodies in those days,” says Longanecker.

Conspiracy theories, however, abound. Longanecker believes the nurses at Marine U.S.A. General sympathized with Rosetta’s desperate masquerade. “Because she had been in the Army for some time, and because she was a well-respected soldier, they didn’t say anything because it would have prevented her parents from receiving any compensation for her death,” Longanecker says. “It was a kind of hush-hush thing.”

While Rosetta’s death may still be clouded with unanswered questions, her military service and contribution to the war couldn’t be clearer. Today, as we raise the question of women’s readiness for combat, we only have to remember Rosetta Wakeman—and the countless other women who’ve secretly served alongside men—for our answer.

Elizabeth Heideman – Time

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Remembering Lost Brothers, Sisters This 16th Transgender Day Of Remembrance….


Today is the 16th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a solemn tribute to those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice, and a day to raise awareness of the constant threat of brutality faced by the transgender community.

The annual event — founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer, columnist, and activist — was first held to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998, kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999.

Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

Since then, hundreds of cities around the country and the world have hosted annual Transgender Day of Remembrance events in solidarity with transgender hate crime victims.

And although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identifies as transgender, each was a victim of violence based on bias against that person’s real or perceived gender identity or expression.

Statistics on anti-transgender violence are startling. A 2013 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) report found that transgender people were 1.5 times more likely to face threats and intimidation compared to the broader LGBT community, and that 72 percent of anti-LGBT homicide victims were transgender women, significantly up from 53.8 percent in the previous year.

Sixty-seven percent of the victims were transgender women of color. Furthermore, seventy-eight percent of transgender children in grades K-12 reported being harassed in school, 35 percent physically assaulted, and 12 percent sexually assaulted, according to a 2011 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force.

“The national crisis of anti-trans violence in this country continues with brutal intensity, and it seems like every day we mourn another tragic loss,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, in a statement.

“On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, all Americans should feel responsible to help bring an end to this violence before it claims even one more innocent soul. The progress of equality has to reach everyone, and we are failing as a movement if we leave anyone behind,” said Griffin.

The HRC has a list of events and remembrances around the nation, and for more about Transgender Day of Remembrance, click here or go to: http://tdor.info/

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Putnam County Principal: Adding LGBT Club Would “Create Bullying”….


A Putnam County high school will not allow a Gay-Straight Alliance club on campus, despite students’ requests.

Winfield High School Principal Bruce McGrew said that, while there was student interest in such a group, no teachers wanted to sponsor it.

“It’s not a subject to even discuss, because [we] don’t have one,” McGrew said. “That’s all I’ll say about it.”

When asked if he would allow a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender student support club at the school if a teacher did offer to chaperone, McGrew said he would “rather not answer that.”

McGrew said he believes the creation of such a group would allow more opportunities for students to bully other students.

“It’s an issue. If you’re asking my personal beliefs, that’s one thing, but what you’ve got to understand is we don’t want to have anything where there’s bullying involved, and if you bring attention to that sort of thing, it’s going to create bullying,” McGrew said. “It would bring more problems to the issue of bullying and so forth if it were to occur. Our job is to protect all kids from that.”

Winfield High School is home to several student clubs, which have to have a teacher sponsor and be approved by McGrew, he said.

The school hosts a Christian Teens club, a Fuel Bible club, a Students Against Drunk Driving club and several others, according to the school’s website.

Putnam County Schools Superintendent Chuck Hatfield said the club was not being discriminated against and that, if there is a faculty sponsor available, “we certainly would entertain that idea, as we do with any other club.”

“[McGrew] has a right to his opinions — we all do,” Hatfield said, “but our personal opinions can’t affect the decisions that we make, and they won’t.”

When asked if Hatfield also believes that a Gay-Straight Alliance club at the school would perpetuate bullying, he said he trusts McGrew’s judgment.

“I’m not at his school everyday. I don’t have the feel for the tolerance or whatever it may be. I think, if he said that, he was sincere in his thoughts,” Hatfield said. “There is a certain amount of bullying in society, and schools are just a reflection of society. We’re certainly not going to violate anyone’s rights. We have students from all walks of life in our system.”

Steve Shamblin, a Kanawha County teacher and a representative of the county’s branch of the American Federation of Teachers, was recently contacted about the issue, and said this is not the first time he’s heard of school push-back against LGBT groups in the state.

Shamblin is the leader of a Gay-Straight Alliance at Riverside High School.

“Kids know that, on club day, they can stop by here and talk,” he said. “I get as many straight kids as gay kids, who just want to ask what they can do to help and make sure their friends aren’t bullied. It promotes tolerance at our school. They know it’s safe there.”

For the first time in state history, the West Virginia Department of Education included specific protections for LGBT students in its 2011 anti-bullying policy.

The reformed policy now lays out punishment for students who bully fellow students over their sexual orientation and “gender identity or expression.”

“I think a part of the problem is that schools hear ‘gay’ and think it’s pushing the gay agenda, but it’s a safety thing,” Shamblin said. “Whether a kid is gay or straight or whatever, it’s important to empower them for who they are. It’s a journey finding out who you are in high school for every kid, and everyone needs somebody to listen.”

Jennifer Meinig, executive director of the state’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that to not allow an LGBT student club at a school would be breaking federal law.

The Equal Access Act, passed in the 1980s, requires public schools to treat all extracurricular clubs fairly, and it has been supported by Christian and LGBT groups.

“I think that this proves how much the school needs a club like this, because it must be a hostile environment there for students if there are concerns about bullying,” Meinig said. “On top of that, it’s the legal thing to do. It’s important that these students have somewhere to go.”

Andrew Schneider, executive director for Fairness West Virginia, said the idea that a Gay-Straight Alliance at a school would put students at risk of bullying just doesn’t make sense.

“That turns logic on its head,” Schneider said. “These groups are specifically designed to create a safe place for LGBT students and to provide support against bullying.”

Mackenzie Mays – The Charleston Gazette

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