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Archive for the ‘LGBTQ’ Category

We are applauding the House’s vote to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) yesterday. DADT is the law that forces LGBT military members to hide their sexuality at the risk of losing their careers.

Congressman Patrick Murphy said that “with today’s vote, we are a step closer to dismantling a policy that is not only discriminatory but is harmful to our national security.We’ve lost thousands of patriotic, highly-trained troops…who were kicked out of the military just because they happened to be gay.”

We have been advocating for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell because of its devastating impact on Latinas who are vulnerable under this law which disproportionately discriminates against women and racial minorities. Although women make up only 14% of the Army, for example, women received 46% of the Army’s DADT discharges in FY 2009. And while 20% of Air Force personnel are women, almost half of its discharges under the policy last year were women. These trends are similarly disproportionate for racial minorities.

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By Stephanie Rodriguez, Policy Intern

The Congressional Lame Duck session has become more active than ever before with important legislation hopefully going up for votes after the Thanksgiving recess. Recently Senator Robert Menendez met with President Obama to discuss his version of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the possibility of it passing as legislation. One of the key fixtures added to CIR has been the Uniting American Families Act which gives LGBTQ couples a chance at obtaining the same rights as same sex couples when it comes to immigration.

According to the 2000 census, over 36,000 binational couples have been estimated to live in the US without possibility of reunification. That is 36,000 families that have been separated. Binational couples are forced to decide between living together or living in their country of residence. It is an unfair circumstance where the request for sponsorship is denied based on subjective norms of what a family is supposed to look like.

“If UAFA passes it would be the first time that LGBT families would be recognized on a federal level” said Steve Rall, spokesperson for Immigration Equality.

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National Coming Out Day was this past Monday, October 11. It is a day that fosters awareness and strives toward a world where everyone can be open about who they are, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is for people who support equality and want to promote justice for our community.

This year, National Coming Out Day has tragically been marked by a string of suicides, where teens who have been bullied and harassed to the point where they feel that they have no other options. These young people are Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Billy Lucas, Justin Aaberg, Jaheem Herrera, Eric Mohat, Carl Hoover and Raymond Chase who in one way or another had been isolated and persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sexual and gender identity issues need to be discussed openly, and we all need to become a support system for people who are trying to come out. It is a point of transition that is difficult to put into words and it is not made easier by harsh peer harassments and mistreatment. Even if you don’t identify yourself as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer person, ask how you can become an ally.

“This is a moment where every one of us — parents, teachers, students, elected officials and all people of conscience — needs to stand up and speak out against intolerance in all its forms.” – NY Times

For more info on National Coming Out Day check out Human Rights Campaign’s website.

By Stephanie Rodriguez, Policy Intern

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The folks over at Latinovations invited me, Senior Policy Analyst here at NLIRH, to write a guest blog for them.  The blog, where I wrote about the experiences with health care immigrant Latin@s have in detention, was posted at La Plaza today:

As a reproductive health organization, sometimes people are surprised to learn that the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health does immigrants’ rights work.  The truth is that immigration and reproductive justice are inextricably tied, and the health and struggles of immigrant detainees is an area that is particularly ripe for action.

To read more about health care and the experiences of pregnant women and transgender persons in immigration detention, make sure to check out the rest of the piece here.

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Proposition 8 Ruled Unconstitutional
A federal judge ruled yesterday that Proposition 8 – California’s ballot-measure that revoked the state’s same-sex couples’ right to marry – is unconstitutional on grounds that it violates due process and equal protection clauses.  Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision stated that proponents of Proposition 8 were unable to give any rational basis for the measure, and went on to say:

“In the absence of a rational basis, what remains of proponents’ case is an inference, amply supported by evidence in the record, that Proposition 8 was premised on the belief that same-sex couples simply are not as good as opposite-sex couples…this belief is not a proper basis on which to legislate.”

Though this represents a huge victory for the marriage equality movement, many LGBT activists and allies believe strongly that this is not enough, and want to go beyond marriage to afford the benefits of this institution to all people, regardless of marital status.  Advocates of same-sex marriage point out its importance in terms of sharing of benefits and assets.  However, a number of advocates rooted in economic justice and people of color organizing point out that the legal rights afforded by state-recognized marriage benefit largely those couples who have access to a number of resources already, and call for the recognition of alternative family structures and the separation of basic human rights – such as access to health care – from marriage altogether.  Yesterday’s ruling is an important milestone for LGBT persons being regarded equally under the law, but we have much further to go.

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Lady Gaga performing with her hands raised, and the words ‘STOP SB70’ written on her left arm

Due to the efforts of young, queer, immigrants’ rights organizers in Arizona, singer and performance artist Lady Gaga denounced the controversial SB1070 law last weekend at her sold-out concert.  Lady Gaga has placed herself as a prominent advocate and voice for LGBTQ rights, and young organizers from Arizona seized upon the opportunity to spread the word that immigrants’ rights are LGBTQ rights, asking the pop star to meet with them and speak out against the law.  The singer reportedly met with these organizers the day before the concert, and performed with the words “STOP SB1070” written on her arm. Speaking to the audience of 14,000 about the law, Lady Gaga said that “we have to be active; we have to protest…we will peaceably protest this state.”  The singer also dedicated a song to a boy whose brother had been deported in a raid, saying that “it’s important that people understand it’s a state of emergency for this place and this state.”  Though some of the more controversial aspects of the law were put on hold by a federal judge last week, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has promised to appeal the decision.

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By Susana Sánchez, Community Mobilization Intern

Last week on a press conference on Capitol Hill, key lawmakers, joined by 37 immigration, LGBT, civil rights and religious faith based groups, expressed their support for including the Uniting Families Act (UAFA) into the comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Unlike bi-national heterosexual couples, current immigration law does not permit Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender partners of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to obtain legal permanent resident status. Many LGBT couples have been unable to bring their partners to the country or have experienced an array of difficulties due to this law. UAFA would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act by granting “permanent partners” the same right to obtain legal residence status as married couples and would allow LGBT binational couples to petition for their spouses to come to the US.

This is a landmark legislation for both the immigration and LGBT rights movements. It would allow many LGBT couples that for years have been forced to live apart or to move to other countries to finally establish a home in the United States. It is also a more comprehensive immigration reform because it grants equal rights to the entire immigrant community, and it is important for Latina reproductive rights movement because it acknowledges the diversity within the Latino immigrant community.

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