Massachusetts: The Transgender Equal Rights Law Goes Into Effect July 1, 2012

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition:  http://www.masstpc.org/the-transgender-equal-rights-law-goes-into-effect-july-1-2012/

Transgender Equal Rights in Massachusetts

Gunner Scott
June 28th, 2012

On July 1, 2012, the Transgender Equal Rights Law goes into effect in Massachusetts. Making Massachusetts the 16th state to add non-discrimination laws for gender identity in the areas of employment, housing, K-12 public education, and credit. Additionally, Massachusetts Hate Crimes laws were also updated to include gender identity. This law is known as An Act Relative to Gender Identity.

This happened because of YOU! All of your hard work in educating legislators, the media, and the public about the experiences that transgender youth, adults, and families face.

Today, MTPC has been working to make sure this law gets implemented, contacting
state agencies, talking with employers, and educating service organizations to make sure their policies reflect the reality that transgender people cannot be discriminated in hiring, buying or renting a home, or attending public schools. Over the next few weeks MTPC will be releasing a series of “Best Practices” guidelines covering different areas of the law.

We know this law is not perfect and there is still work to be done in making sure transgender youth, adults, and families are protected in every facet of their lives, including accessing places that serve the public. If you experience discrimination in any places the law now covers or public accommodations, there is help. Please report your experience to MTPC, considering filing a complaint with MCAD, Fair Housing, or with the State Attorney General or contact GLAD’s legal infoline.

Planning is already underway for filing public accommodations protections in 2013, but we cannot do this without you. Legislators and policy makers need to hear about your experiences in accessing places like restaurants, hotels, emergency rooms, nightclubs, museums, retail stores, hair salons, barber shops, court houses, government offices, city halls, or any place serving the public. If you feel you have been treated unfairly contact MTPC and tell your story. MTPC also needs the resources to make that happen, consider making a donation today.

Thank you for helping MTPC and helping your community in making Massachusetts a better place for all of us to live, work, and/or go to school in. We might all wake up on Sunday morning and not notice anything different, but I know I will feel more empowered to stand up for myself and the transgender community knowing the law is behind me and I hope you will too.

Sincerely,

Gunner Scott

Executive Director

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Do People Get Less Religious When Societies Grow More Egalitarian?

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/156007/do_people_get_less_religious_when_societies_grow_more_egalitarian/

When countries embrace progressive social policy, that tends to create a decline in religious belief. Why?

By Amanda Marcotte
June 25, 2012

Slowly but surely, religion’s historical monopoly on the human mind is breaking apart. On its surface, the reason seems straightforward: the rise of secular democracy and especially of scientific understanding should encourage more people to give up on religion.

In fact, recent research from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago shows that the picture worldwide is much more complex than that. While atheism is on the rise in many places in the world, others are seeing a rise in religiosity, creating a situation where the levels of belief and non-belief vary wildly depending on culture. A lot of it has to do with history and culture, but one intriguing thread can be pulled from the picture, which is that there seems to be a strong correlation between high rates of atheism and countries that prioritize economic equality and make higher investments in a strong social safety net, such as France and the Netherlands.

Could liberal policies help create non-believers? Previous research indicates that when countries embrace progressive social policy, that tends to create a decline in religious belief. The theory, often called the “secularization thesis” is that the combination of good education of its citizens and the fact that citizens can rely on the government instead of the church for poverty relief means that more people will turn away from religion. But could the reasons go deeper than that? Few people base their choice of whether to believe in God or not on something as simple as whether they can go to the church or the state in times of need. Perhaps it’s more that economic insecurity itself increases the desire to believe in God. And if atheists want to minimize the power religion plays in society, should they start by demanding a more secure and egalitarian society?

There’s a heavy body of research showing that the more stress and uncertainty people face, the more likely they are to engage in what psychologists call “magical thinking”: superstition, prayer, belief in the supernatural. In 2008, Jennifer Whitson and Adam Galinsky published a paper in Science demonstrating that when you remove the amount of control people have over their situation, they tend to engage more in “illusory pattern perception,” which is the psychological process that creates belief in the supernatural. Other research has shown the real-world effects of this psychological tendency, showing, for instance, that people living in war zones tend to engage in more magical thinking, such as carrying lucky charms or believing in the power of prayer, than those who don’t.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/156007/do_people_get_less_religious_when_societies_grow_more_egalitarian/

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Time for Congress to Impeach Justice Antonin Scalia

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How Medicaid Expansion Affects Gay and Transgender Communities

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/06/28/508590/how-medicaid-expansion-affects-gay-and-transgender-communities/

Andrew Cray and Kellan Baker
Jun 28, 2012

The Supreme Court’s decision on health reformconcludes a tense chapter in the life of the Affordable Care Act. The lawsuit decided today challenged the constitutionality of several important provisions of the law, including the expansion of the Medicaid program to cover lower-income people without insurance.

On the issue of Medicaid, the court’s decision was mixed. Overall the court held that while states can receive federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage to all Americans under the age of 65 who make less than $15,000 per year, they cannot lose all Medicaid funding as a penalty for refusing to do so. States that expand eligibility will receive increased federal funding to cover the vast majority of the costs of covering new beneficiaries — a 2010 report projected that the expansion of Medicaid in all fifty states would cost the states $21 billion between 2014 and 2019, while the federal government would spend $443 billion. States that don’t expand eligibility will forfeit this funding and could potentially leave millions of people still without coverage.

By upholding the Medicaid expansion as constitutional, the Court’s decision leaves the door open for states to extend lifesaving access to care for an additional 16 million currently uninsured people, including many gay and transgender people and their families. Despite common stereotypes, poverty and unemployment are higher among LGBT communities, particularly LGBT communities of color, than for the general U.S. population. For example, lesbians and bisexual women are 20 percent more likely to be poor than straight women, and a recent survey indicates that transgender people are twice as likely as the general population to make less than $10,000 a year.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/06/28/508590/how-medicaid-expansion-affects-gay-and-transgender-communities/

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Bernie Sanders: The American People are Angry

From Nation of Change:  http://www.nationofchange.org/bernie-sanders-american-people-are-angry-1340891212

By Bernie Sanders
June 28, 2012

Madam President, the American people are angry.

They are angry because they are living through the worst recession since the great depression.

Unemployment is not 8.2%, real unemployment is closer to 15%.

Young people who are graduating high school and graduating college, they’re going out into the world, they want to become independent, they want to work, and there are no jobs.

There are workers out there 50, 55 years old who intended to work the remainder of their working lives, suddenly they got a pink slip, their self-esteem is destroyed, they’re never going to have another job again and now they’re worried about their retirement security.

What the American people are angry about is they understand that they did not cause this recession. Teachers did not cause this recession. Firefighters and police officers who are being attacked daily by governors all over this country did not cause this recession. Construction workers did not cause this recession. This recession was caused by the greed, the recklessness and illegal behavior of the people on Wall Street.

These people on Wall Street spent billions of dollars, billions of dollars, trying to deregulate Wall Street and they got their way. $5 billion in ten years is what was spent, and then they were able to merge investment banks with commercial banks, with insurance companies. They got everything they wanted. They said get the government off the backs of Wall Street. They got it. And the end result was that they plunged this country into the worst recession since the great depression.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nationofchange.org/bernie-sanders-american-people-are-angry-1340891212

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President Obama Speaks on Health Reform

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Do the Koch Brothers Determine Our Energy Dependence?

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/9976-do-the-koch-brothers-determine-our-energy-dependence

By H Patricia Hynes
Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Everyone knows by now that if Iraq’s primary resource were pine nuts or rutabagas, we would not have plunged into an eight-year, $3 trillion dollar, failed war, which left that country broken. Ever since President Roosevelt signed an oil agreement with Saudi Arabia in 1945, our fraught relationships in the Middle East have been driven by our militarized dependency on their oil.

Thus, the swing in national energy politics toward energy independence. 

The Obama administration has taken the position that our independent energy future is a mix of “cleaner” and “safer” fossil fuel and nuclear energy, biofuels, efficiency and renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind. Mitt Romney’s position is a similar potpourri, sans “cleaner” and “safer.”

What precisely is meant by cleaner and safer is the crux of the energy independence issue.

Fiction: Natural gas, whose blue flame is branded “the new green,” has emerged as the poster child of cleaner because it generates fewer carbon dioxide emissions than coal and oil. Meanwhile, a blind eye is turned toward the hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) boom that is injecting pressurized sand, “trade secret” chemicals and vast amounts of water into shale formations to release pockets of gas and oil. Thirty percent (and growing) of the natural gas supply is derived from fracking – a boon for energy independence, but a boondoggle for safer and cleaner.

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/9976-do-the-koch-brothers-determine-our-energy-dependence

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