MN GOP introduces bill to allow discrimination against same-sex couples

At a press conference on Thursday morning, Sen. Paul Gazelka, a Republican from Nisswa, unveiled a Freedom of Conscience bill aimed at allowing businesses and individuals to discriminate against same-sex couples. According to the Pioneer Press, Gazelka is promoting the bill, in part, because a business in his district was fined after it refused service to a same-sex couple. “I was one of the legislators who opposed gay marriage but even then I said that gays and lesbians should be able to live as they choose,” Gazelka said. “I’m simply asking that Christians and people of faith be allowed to live as they choose without… threat of punishment.”

The bill has not yet been introduced in the Minnesota Legislature but is expected to drop in the next few days. It likely won’t receive any action with only days left in the legislative session, but because it was introduced in the first year of the biennium, it will be in play in 2016. Continue Reading

McCollum, Ellison cosponsor resolution calling for end to conversion therapy

Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison are cosponsors of a resolution in the U.S. House that calls on states to ban conversion therapy for minors. The Stop Harming Our Kids Resolution was introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California. McCollum and Ellison are among 34 co-sponsors of the resolution.The SHOK resolution states, in part:It is the sense of Congress that sexual orientation and gender identity or expression change efforts directed at minors are discredited and ineffective, have no legitimate therapeutic purpose, and are dangerous and harmful.Congress encourages each State to take steps to protect minors from efforts that promote or promise to change sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, based on the premise that homosexuality is a mental illness or developmental disorder that can or should be cured.“It’s time to end this abusive quackery masquerading as medicine,” Speier said in statement. “Being transgender, gay, lesbian, or bisexual is not a disease to be cured or a mental illness that requires treatment. Continue Reading

After Indiana, Minneapolis council calls on states to adopt LGBT protections

 Earlier this month, the Minneapolis City Council adopted a resolution that originally would have banned city-funded travel to Indiana, but quickly changed it to a resolution calling on Indiana and 27 other states to adopt protections for LGBT people.Council President Barb Johnson was planning to offer a resolution that would have stopped city employees from traveling to Indiana on the city’s payroll due to that state’s new “religious freedom” law. A copy of that resolution can be found here: [PDF]. However, on Thursday, Indiana’s legislature passed, and Gov. Mike Pence signed, an amendment that for the first time in Indiana’s history offers some protection for LGBT people. The amendment keeps intact nondiscrimination laws in Indiana municipalities, but does not extend nondiscrimination across the state.The changes to the religious freedom law states that the statute does not:(1) authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service; (2) establish a defense to a civil action or criminal prosecution for refusal to provide such services; or (3) negate any rights available under the constitution of the State of IndianaJohnson offered a substitute resolution on Friday that acknowledges the change to Indiana’s law, but also criticizes it for not going far enough.It says [PDF]:Whereas, the State of Indiana, along with twenty-seven other states in the nation, offer no protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens, leaving these people exposed to discrimination in a variety of ways everyday of their lives;Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved by The City Council of The City of Minneapolis: That the Minneapolis City Council hereby affirms the City’s commitment to civil rights and ensuring equity for all people in Minneapolis and beyond and calls on the State of Indiana as well as the other twenty-seven states in the nation which offer no protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens, to establish this group of people as a protected class and put into place these protections as quickly as possible and to then vigorously enforce and protect the civil rights of all people within their borders regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other protected class status and to prevent discrimination against any protected group.Minneapolis city attorney Susan Segal explained the changes:“With this addition to the law, I think that it largely corrects the concerns and objections that have been raised nationally. There still is not affirmative protections in Indiana law but that’s the situation that was before they passed the statute,” she told the council. Continue Reading

Check out these LGBT-themed films at the MSP Int’l Film Festival

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival kicks off on Thursday with over 200 films from 70 countries spanning two weeks of showings. The festival has a number of LGBT-themed films being screened. Here are trailers for those films:52 TUESDAYS16-year-old Billie’s reluctant path to independence is accelerated when her mother reveals plans for gender reassignment and their time together becomes limited to Tuesday afternoons. Filmed over the course of a year, once a week, every week—only on Tuesdays—these unique filmmaking rules bring a rare authenticity to this emotionally charged story of desire, responsibility and transformation. Continue Reading

Minneapolis Mayor Hodges includes transgender courage in state of the city address

In the state of the city address on Thursday, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges brought attention to issues facing the city’s transgender community and called on all citizens of the city to practice “love and celebration” in interactions with their transgender neighbors. She also called for the city to continue to adopt policies that make the city safer for transgender residents and visitors.Celebrating the courage of transgender individuals and the community was one of six themes in the mayor’s speech. Also included was increased mentoring of high school students, lowering city waste, addressing the city’s role in climate change, and making city-business interactions simpler. Hodges also included increasing police-community engagement.Here are Hodges remarks about moving the city forward on transgender inclusion:Recently, a person very dear to me let me know she was a transgender woman. My first response? Continue Reading

MN GOP Majority Leader backs anti-transgender bill

The majority leader in the Minnesota House is among 28 Republicans who have signed on to a bill that would block transgender inclusive school policies.Republican Majority Leader Joyce Peppin signed on to the bill on Monday. She is among more than a dozen Republicans who have added their names to the bill since it was introduced in early March by 17 Republicans.The bill is one being touted by anti-LGBT groups, the Minnesota Child Protection League and the Minnesota Family Council. The bill is a reaction to recent policies enacted in the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts that increases safety and inclusion for transgender and gender nonconforming students. It is also a reaction to an appeals process put in place by the Minnesota State High School League that allows transgenders student to play on athletics teams based on their gender.Bill proponents missed an important deadline on Friday. Continue Reading

Barb Anderson: Gay-Straight Alliances are used by LGBTs to recruit heterosexuals

[See original article here:]At a meeting of the Anoka-Hennepin School Board on Monday evening, Barb Anderson, a leader in Minnesota’s anti-LGBT movement, told the board that Gay-Straight Alliances are recruiting centers for the homosexual lifestyle, that they are dangerous to students, and that the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, which assist with GSAs, encouraged statutory rape.Anderson said, “GSAs typically begin with a focus on safety and bullying prevention but their scope soon expands, GSA students often become political lobbyists who advocate specific pro-gay legislation and policy changes in our in our schools. Student activists from GSAs are taught how to recruit other students.”The board was hearing a recommendation from the district’s anti-bullying task force that urges the district to include positive portrayals of LGBT people in history, support Gay-Straight Alliance, and celebrate LGBT history month in an effort to make the district more inclusive for LGBT students.She continued, “The American College of Pediatricians has warned schools about the danger of premature labeling of students as gay because it can lead some kids into homosexual behaviors, behaviors which data on the CDC website shows to be exceptionally dangerous. GSAs will draw more confused and questioning youth into gay experimentation. A homosexual club is not a position of neutrality but is a danger to the health and the future of kids in District 11.”The American College of Pediatricians is a small group of conservative Christian pediatricians that split from the American Academy of Pediatricians over abortion and LGBT issues. The group poses as a large professional organization but is composed of just a few hundred members who espouse an anti-LGBT agenda, compared to the mainstream American Academy of Pediatricians which boasts 60,000 members.Anderson also claimed, without citing evidence, that the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, which supports GSAs, advocates statutory rape. Continue Reading

Minneapolis vigil planned to shed light on anti-transgender violence

Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis will be the setting for a vigil on Thursday evening to bring attention to an epidemic of violence against transgender women in the United States.As many as eight transgender women have been murdered in the United States since the start of 2015, a rate of more than one a week. Most of those victims have been women of color.On Tuesday, the community in Miami was shocked by the death of artist of Kristina Grant Infiniti. On Thursday, the community held a candlelight vigil to remember Infiniti who police believe was murdered in her home.Though many cases are still under investigation, news reports suggest that the following transgender women have been murdered so far this year: Bri Golec of Akron Ohio; Penny Proud of New Orleans; Lamia Beard of Norfolk, Virginia; Taja Gabrielle DeJesus of San Francisco; Ty Underwood of North Tyler, Texas; Yazmin Vash Payne of Los Angeles;The Human Rights Campaign notes: “In addition to these murders, Lamar Edwards – whom LGBT friends have confirmed to The Advocate uses the name Lamar and identified as a gay man who sometimes dressed in drag – was fatally shot on January 9; police have not released information about whether Edwards was presenting as female at the time of death.”This epidemic of violence has prompted a vigil in Minneapolis to draw attention to that violence and to remember those who have been killed. “Join those of us from the Black Liberation Project as we honor and uplift the sisters we have lost to racist and transmisogynistic hate violence,” event organizers wrote. “This vigil serves as an act of remembrance and an act of defiance to a system that wants to keep these deaths invisible.”Details:Title: #StopTransMurders VigilDate: Thursday, February 26 at 5:30pm – 6:30pmLocation: Loring Park, 1382 Willow St, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403For more information, visit Facebook. Continue Reading

HRC: Minnesota is ‘solidifying’ equality but lags on important issues

The Human Rights Campaign recently launched a new index rating the states on LGBT equality, and while Minnesota ranks well above many other states, the report notes some glaring inequities particularly on youth and transgender issues.According to the State Equality Index, Minnesota is rated as “solidifying equality” along with neighboring Iowa. The report notes that:“States in this category have marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections, though some lack explicit gender identity protections. They have relatively robust anti-bullying laws, but bad laws begin to crop up in this category.”Liberal bastions such as Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York are also in the category. But Minnesota is behind states rated as “innovating equality.” Those states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.Minnesota’s deficiencies range from a lack of equitable health care for transgender Minnesotans to a lack of solid protections in parenting laws.Relationship recognitionIn the relationship recognition category, though the state has marriage equality, Minnesota lacks an alternative to marriage. “Other states continue to allow both options for relationship recognition,” the report notes.Parenting lawsMinnesota’s parenting laws are also not as strong as other states. Continue Reading

Trans Youth Support Network to close at the end of January

The Trans Youth Support Network, founded in 2004 after a series of acts of violence against young transwomen of color, announced on Tuesday that it will close at the end of the month.In an email to community members, TYSN’s youth leaders said that “we don’t have the resources that we need to sustain our organization.” The organization stated that turnover in staff and board, as well as lack of leadership development for youth leaders, contributed to the decision to close.The email ended:We celebrate TYSN for being a beacon and a new model for young trans people, and we stand fiercely behind the work we have done. Since our transition last summer we accomplished many things together! We wrapped up our strategic planning with an amazing new friend and mentor. We ran a second cohort of Leadership Academy where 5 new faces bulldozed through 26 intense weeks of leadership development. We worked hard on trying to get more funding. Continue Reading