Tuesday, January 29, 2013

We Are Family

A Creating Change Workshop Session with
LGBT Movement Leaders from China and Taiwan

Post by Laura Kiritsy, Manager of Public Education

It’s hard to know where to start when trying to wrap up my experience at this year’s Creating Change, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s annual conference for LGBT activists and leaders, which took me, along with my colleagues Eva Boyce, Janson Wu and Robbie Samuels, to Atlanta last week. I’m still savoring memories of Krispy Kreme donuts, which were readily available in the Hilton Atlanta lobby. With all due respect to Dunkin’ Donuts, I’m still baffled by Krispy Kreme’s crash and burn in New England.

But I digress. Carb-laden confections certainly were not the best thing about this year’s Creating Change.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Know Your Rights: Violence, Harassment and Bullying

This week during No Name Calling Week, schools and organizations across the country are working to raise awareness of the need to stop the bullying and harassment of LGBTQ people.

Despite the fact that all six New England states have hate crime protections for gay men and lesbians, four of the six have explicit hate crime protections for transgender people, and all six have some of the strongest anti-bullying laws in the country, GLAD’s Legal InfoLine continues to receive calls from LGBT people who have been attacked after leaving a gay bar, students who are being so badly harassed at school because of their gender identity or sexual orientation that they no longer feel it is safe for them to attend, and victims of same-sex domestic violence who are not taken seriously by the police, just to name a few troubling issues.

Friday, January 18, 2013

High Passions and Common Ground at the Rhode Island State House

Janson Wu (right) with Marriage Equality Rhode IslandCommunications Director Devin Driscoll (left) and Campaign Director Ray Sullivan

Post by GLAD Staff Attorney Janson Wu

For a little state, Rhode Island made a big showing last Tuesday. Hundreds of citizens gathered that evening  at the state house for the House Judiciary Committee hearing on what is the 17th and hopefully final marriage equality bill to be filed in the Ocean State.

With prayer circles in the house rotunda, and same-sex couples holding signs of love in the hallway, supporters and opponents of marriage equality mixed outside the hearing room in a rare and, honestly, inspiring showing of civic participation, even as passions ran high.

One conversation I had, while waiting in the hallway to greet our testifiers, was with an ex-gay minister. He told me his story of finding God after a violent incident with a same-sex lover that almost killed him. As I listened to him, feelings of sadness, admiration, disbelief, and sympathy ran through me as I tried to make sense of it. I was struck that someone with whom I shared so much in common could be in such a different place in life, but heartened that, while we were at the State House for opposing reasons, we were still able to come together to share our stories with one another.

Meanwhile, inside the overheated and packed committee room, testifiers rose one by one for the next 6 hours to give their two minutes of testimony in support of or opposition to the legislation.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Back to Beacon Hill for (Full) Transgender Equality

 Constituents waiting to talk to their legislators about co-sponsoring
"An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public"

Post by Laura Kiritsy, GLAD Manager of Public Education

I was at the State House today for the first time since the big, celebratory, ceremonial signing of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill almost exactly one year ago (my colleague Jennifer Levi wrote a nice reflection on that event for our blog). Given that, you may be surprised to hear that my trip to Beacon Hill today was for a Legislative Day of Action in support of a bill called “An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public.” The Equal Access Bill, as we call it, would add protections for transgender people in public accommodations to our state’s non-discrimination laws.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Know Your Rights: Transgender Rights in New England

We’ve come a good way towards establishing legal protections for transgender people in New England in the past several years. In 2011, both Connecticut and Massachusetts added gender identity to their anti-discrimination laws, joining Rhode Island (2001), Maine (2005) and Vermont (2007) in providing protections in employment, housing and credit, and, in all but Massachusetts, public accommodations (like restaurants, bars, parks, stores, hospitals, shelters, etc.).

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Know Your Rights: Protections Against Employment Discrimination

Know Your Rights: Legal InfoLine

One of the great things about living in New England is that all six states offer anti-discrimination protections for LGBT employees and workers who are living with HIV.  Most workers are “employees at will” and can be fired or discriminated against by their employer for any reason or no reason at all.  However, states have identified “protected characteristics” and made it illegal to fire or discriminate against an employee just because they possess, or are perceived to possess, one or more of those characteristics.  For lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) workers, the protected characteristic is “sexual orientation,” for workers living with HIV, “disability,” and for transgender workers, “gender identity.”