Transgender Day of Remembrance Events Friday

November 19, 2009

by Cynthia Laird | The Bay Area Reporter

Events commemorating the 11th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance will take place in cities across the country and around the world this week, including two in the Bay Area.

In the East Bay, the Tri-City Health Center’s TransVision program will hold its fourth annual event in Oakland on Friday, November 20, beginning at 7 p.m. at Preservation Park’s Niles Hall, 1233 Preservation Park Way. Out lesbian Oakland City Council member Rebecca Kaplan will be the keynote speaker, along with Stonewall veteran Miss Major from the Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project in San Francisco. The Reverend Vicky Kolakowski of New Spirit Community Church also will speak.

Tiffany Woods, TransVision program coordinator, noted that from 1970 to the present, California has had 57 documented murders of transgender people, the highest number in the country. Most of those took place in San Francisco and Oakland. Woods said that the true number of murders may be higher since often the transgender status of the victim is not reported or is concealed at the request of family.

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Judge to Feds: She’s Our Employee, Stay Out of It

November 19, 2009

by Lisa Leff | Associated Press

For the second time in two days, a federal judge has ruled that the government can’t refuse to authorize health coverage for the same-sex spouse of a court employee.

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said Thursday that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management had no right to prevent Karen Golinski from enrolling her wife in her employer-sponsored health plan. Golinski is a staff lawyer at the court’s San Francisco headquarters.

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Join Us for a Vigil in Honor of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado

November 19, 2009

Please join us on Sunday, November 22, 2009, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm for a candlelight vigil at the intersection of Castro and Market Street. Please bring candles and join us in standing against hate and condemning the brutal murder of Jorge Steven López Mercado.

Brief statements will be made by LGBT and Latino community leaders.

A candlelight vigil will also be held in Oakland at the same time. It will be held at the Intersection of MacArthur blvd, Lakeshore, and Grand Ave in Oakland, CA. Click here for more information.

Runner Keeps Title After Gender Dispute

November 19, 2009

from Reuters

South African runner Caster Semenya will keep her 800-meter gold medal from the world championships, and the results of her gender tests will be kept confidential, the South African sports ministry said Thursday.

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Legislators Still Unsure of Gay Marriage Priority

November 19, 2009

from The Star-Ledger

As state lawmakers prepare for their lame-duck session that begins Monday, top Senate Democrats remain split on whether the issue of gay marriage should be taken up before Gov.-elect Chris Christie takes office in January.

At the annual New Jersey State League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City, Sen. Steven Sweeney (D-Gloucester) told reporters yesterday that gay marriage was an important issue but not one Democrats needed to focus on as a current priority.

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Letter to UN Ugandan Ambassador Rugunda: Call on Uganda to Withdraw the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

November 19, 2009

Dear Ambassador Rugunda:

We are writing to express concern about legislation that would severely restrict the rights of Ugandan citizens, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their defenders, in direct contravention of domestic and international law. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 would not only reaffirm penalties for homosexuality, but would criminalize the “promotion of homosexuality,” including funding and sponsoring LGBT organizations and broadcasting, publishing, or marketing materials on homosexuality. Any person in authority who fails to report known violations of the law within 24 hours will also be subject to a significant fine and up to 3 years in prison – even when this means turning in their colleagues, family, or friends.

The Bill’s draconian restrictions would not only restrict the rights of LGBT Ugandans. It would undermine the free association and expression that are necessary for a flourishing civil society, and create a climate of fear and hostility that undermines the citizenship and solidarity of all Ugandans. It would lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and would implicitly encourage persecution of LGBT people by private actors. Effective HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, would be difficult, if not impossible.

These concerns, expressed most forcefully by human rights defenders and civil society groups in Uganda, have been echoed by critics as diverse as Exodus International, the governments of the United States and France, the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, and Former President of Botswana Festus Mogae.

The Ugandan Constitution clearly states and affirms that all Ugandans share rights to privacy, expression, and association that this legislation would infringe upon. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is inconsistent with National Objective 5(2) of the Ugandan Constitution, which provides that “the State shall guarantee and respect the independence of non-governmental organizations which protect and promote human rights.” Moreover, it directly contravenes the rights to equality and freedom from discrimination (Article 21), privacy (Article 27), and freedoms of speech, expression, association, and assembly (Article 29), the protection of minorities (Article 36), and the protection of civic rights and activities (Article 38) to which all Ugandans are entitled. It also violates the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party.

This bill undermines Uganda’s commitment to the international human rights regime. In accordance to its obligations under international law, Uganda cannot withdraw from the obligations imposed by the treaties that it has freely entered to.

The Bill’s revocation of fundamental rights would also seriously undermine the country’s reputation and credibility in the international arena. Because it claims jurisdiction over Ugandans who violate its provisions while outside of the country and seeks to withdraw Uganda from its treaty obligations, the Bill will unavoidably strain Uganda’s relations with regional and international partners. In opposing the Bill, foreign governments are not demanding that Uganda “support” homosexuality; rather, they are asking that the government respect the privacy and basic freedoms guaranteed to all Ugandans under domestic and international law.

In recognition of the importance of a diverse, dynamic civil society and the domestic and international commitments that Uganda has made, we urge you, as country representative to the United Nations, to call on the Ugandan state to swiftly withdraw the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 and reaffirm the rights and responsibilities of all Ugandans.


Amanda Lugg
African Services Committee, NY

Cary Johnson
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

ACT UP Philadelphia
Advocates for Youth, Washington D.C.
Amnesty International USA
Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP), USA
COLOURS Organization, PA
Global Justice Ministry of Metropolitan Community Churches, NY
Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD), NY
Health GAP (Global Access Project), USA
Human Rights Watch
International Federation of Black Prides (IFBP), USA
National Center for Lesbian Rights, USA
Proyecto SOL Filadelfia, PA
The Council for Global Equality, Washington D.C.

Equal Benefits for Equal Work: Support the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act

November 19, 2009

Yesterday the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a committee vote on the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBO), legislation that would provide equal benefits to the domestic partners of federal employees. The committee passed DPBO at 23-12, an important step in securing federal protections for the LGBT community. We must secure this victory and work to pass other crucial pieces of legislation pending in Congress.

DPBO moves to the House floor for consideration, and it’s up to us to make sure that it passes and protects the thousands of devoted, hard-working LGBT government employees.

Equal work demands equal compensation.
We must speak up and remind Congress about this basic principle of fairness, to ensure that the domestic partners of government employees are able to receive their partners’ benefits, including health insurance and access to pensions.

Please take a minute and call your representative at (202) 224-3121.
We must make sure that a House vote on DPBO will happen soon and that our representatives support DPBO. We need to stand together as a community and urge our representatives to fight for the rights of the domestic partners of federal employees.

President Obama is ready to sign DPBO into law but we need to make sure that it passes in Congress. Call your representative today and ask them to vote for equality and fairness. Ask them to pass the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act.

In Solidarity,