A Remarkable Year for Transgender Civil Rights

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/transgender-rights-2012_b_2369977.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


The “baker’s dozen” of 2012 — the most incredible 13 months in transgender (as well as LGBT) civil rights history, began on Dec 6, 2011, with two remarkable events. The first was a presidential proclamation:

The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.

That proclamation was rapidly followed by Secretary Clinton’s call to action in Geneva:

Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights… No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.

The second, on the same day, was the landmark 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Atlanta, Glenn v Brumby, declaring transgender and gender non-conforming persons a protected class subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This three judge panel, including the very conservative judge, William Pryor, expanded protections against discrimination rooted in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and first affirmed by the highest court in the 1989 Price Waterhouse v Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989), a Title VII case. The panel ruled that discrimination against trans persons is unconstitutional:

A person is defined as transgender precisely because of the perception that his or her behavior transgresses gender stereotypes… There is thus congruence between discriminating against transgender and transsexual individuals and discrimination on the basis of gender-based behavioral norms.

Those two historic declarations would have been sufficient — dayenu, in Hebrew — but that was just the beginning, just one single day.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/transgender-rights-2012_b_2369977.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Year in Review: EEOC issues landmark decision banning trans bias

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/12/27/year-in-review-eeoc-issues-landmark-decision-banning-trans-bias/

on December 27, 2012

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled in April that job discrimination against employees due to their gender identity is equivalent to sex discrimination under existing federal law.

Transgender advocates joined legal experts in calling the ruling a historic development that provides transgender people in the public and private sector workforce with full coverage under Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“[W]e conclude that intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because the person is transgender is, by definition, discrimination ‘based on…sex,’ and such discrimination therefore violates Title VII,” said the commission in its 5-0 ruling.

The decision was handed down as part of its resolution of a case filed by the Transgender Law Center on behalf of Mia Macy, a transgender woman who charged that she was denied a job as a ballistics technician with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ lab in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Macy alleged that ATF officials were in the process of hiring her but claimed the job was no longer available due to budget cuts after she informed them she was transitioning from male to female. She learned later that ATF gave the job to someone else.

Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, said it would be hard to overstate the significance of the EEOC decision.

“Transgender people already face tremendous rates of discrimination and unemployment,” Davis said. “The decision today ensures that every transgender person in the United States will have legal recourse to employment discrimination and with it a way to safeguard their access to vital employment benefits such as health insurance and retirement savings plans.”

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Italian priest’s Christmas flyer: Women incite domestic violence with cold dinners

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/27/italian-priests-christmas-flyer-women-incite-violence-with-cold-dinners/

By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Catholic priest in Italy has created a firestorm by claiming that women bring violence on themselves by serving cold food and dressing provocatively.

Father Piero Corsi of Liguria sparked outrage after members of his congregation posted his Christmas bulletin onto Facebook. The flyer, entitled “Women and femicide – healthy self-criticism. How often do they provoke?” said victims of domestic and sexual violence should question if they were themselves to blame for the incident.

The flyer said women “provoke the worst instincts” and “should search their consciences and ask: did we bring this on ourselves?”

“The fact is that women are increasingly provocative, they become arrogant, they believe themselves to be self-sufficient and end up exacerbating the situation,” Corsi added. “Children are abandoned to their own devices, homes are dirty, meals are cold or fast food, clothes are filthy.”

Complete article at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/27/italian-priests-christmas-flyer-women-incite-violence-with-cold-dinners/

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Woman Whose Gang Rape Galvanized India Dies

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/world/asia/condition-worsens-for-victim-of-gang-rape-in-india.html

Published: December 28, 2012

NEW DELHI — A young woman who had been in critical condition since she was raped two weeks ago by a group of men who lured her onto a bus here died early Saturday, an official at the hospital in Singapore that was caring for her said.

The woman, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student whose rape on Dec. 16 had served as a reminder of the dangerous conditions women face in India, died “peacefully,” according to a statement by Dr. Kelvin Loh, the chief executive of Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

The woman, whose intestines were removed because of injuries caused by a metal rod used during the rape, has not been identified. She was flown to Singapore on Wednesday night after undergoing three abdominal operations at a local hospital. She had also suffered a major brain injury, cardiac arrest and infections of the lungs and abdomen. “She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds, but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome,” Dr. Loh’s statement said.

The police have arrested six people in connection with the attack, Indian officials said.

Revulsion and anger over the rape have galvanized India, where women regularly face sexual harassment and assault, and where neither the police nor the judicial system is seen as adequately protecting them.

As government officials and the police appealed for calm, protesters gathered in New Delhi at Jantar Mantar, a popular site for demonstrations, just after dawn. The roads leading to India Gate, the site of earlier protests that had turned violent, had been barricaded by the police, and nearby subway stations were closed. More than 40 police units have been deployed in the area, including 28 units of the Central Reserve Police Force, which are national anti-insurgency troops.

Top officials now say that further change is needed, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed his “deepest condolences.”

“We have already seen the emotions and energies this incident has generated,” he said in a statement. “It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channelize these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action.” The government, he said, is examining “the penal provisions that exist for such crimes and measures to enhance the safety and security of women.”

The six men arrested in the case will be charged with murder, the Delhi police said Saturday morning, as they, too, asked citizens to remain calm.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/world/asia/condition-worsens-for-victim-of-gang-rape-in-india.html

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Hobby Lobby To Deny Contraception To Employees, Ignoring Court Order

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/12/28/1378741/hobby-lobby-ignoring-court/

By Annie-Rose Strasser
on Dec 28, 2012

Craft store chain Hobby Lobby announced on Friday that it will ignore the ruling of U.S. courts and refuse to provide copay-free birth control access to its employees. It will do so despite whatever costs it may incur, even if they are higher than the cost of birth control itself.

Upon learning that Obamacare required employers and insurance companies to provide birth control with no cost to employees, Hobby Lobby sued, saying that, despite the secular nature of the business, the company’s owner’s religious objections should be taken into consideration. When a court denied that line of reasoning, Hobby Lobby took its grievances to the Supreme Court and asked for an injunction. The highest court in the land denied that request, telling Hobby Lobby that it must allow its employees access to birth control as it seeks further litigation.

But Hobby Lobby is saying no.

The store plans to ignore the provision anyway, opting to pay a fine instead of provide birth control, including the morning after pill commonly known as Plan B, which the owner feels goes against his personal religious values:

With Wednesday’s rejection of an emergency stay of that federal health care law by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Hobby Lobby and sister company Mardel could be subject to fines of up to $1.3 million a day beginning Tuesday.

They’re not going to comply with the mandate,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the company. “They’re not going to offer coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in the insurance plan.”

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/12/28/1378741/hobby-lobby-ignoring-court/

See also Daily Kos:  Hobby Lobby to defy courts over contraceptive ruling and impose religious views on workers

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Why Claiming US Has ‘Best Health System’ Is a Sick Joke

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/28-3

The ‘best’ health care depends on your perspective

Published on Friday, December 28, 2012 by The Oregonian
Is the American health care system “the best in the world”? If so, perhaps Oregon is spinning its wheels trying to fix a health care system some U.S. congressmen say isn’t broken. Let’s hear what these national leaders say and then check reality.Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says, “We do start with the notion, however, that we have the best health care in the world.” If McConnell had diabetes, he might pause. American diabetics suffer twice as many foot amputations as diabetics in Europe because they cannot afford care to prevent foot infections from turning deadly.House Speaker John Boehner says we have “the best health care delivery system in the world.” But there are 35 other countries in which a pregnant woman and her baby have a better chance of surviving the pregnancy. The United States leads the industrialized world in deaths preventable with timely care. There are 15 other nations providing every citizen with lifesaving treatments denied to many unfortunate Americans.

During one of his presidential debates, Sen. John McCain said the U.S. offers “the highest quality of health care in the world.” Did he overlook statistics on lung disease? Americans with emphysema are 25 percent more likely to need hospitalization than people in France (the country with the best record). Asthmatics suffer worse: American asthmatics are eight times more likely to need urgent care than those in France.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell insisted, in a GOP response to President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address, that the U.S. enjoys “the best medical care system in the world.” But 25 other countries have more doctors per capita, hospital beds per capita and doctor visits. And these countries spend less than we do. In fact, we have the most expensive health care in the world.

If simply spending more money qualified as “the best,” then New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; and Richard Shelby, R-Ala., could be forgiven for imagining we have “the best health care system in the world.” Yet that money comes from somewhere, and it’s coming from suffering families. A patient diagnosed with lung cancer in this country carries a 7 percent chance of bankruptcy within five years. Most family bankruptcies are precipitated by medical crises, and most of those families had insurance when the crisis began.

Is this what “the best” looks like?

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/28-3

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The GOP’s 1 Trillion Dollar Lie

From In These Times:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14343/gop_trillion_dollar_lie_welfare

How a right-wing whopper about the cost of welfare was born.

BY Joshua Holland
December 24, 2012

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

There’s a new economic myth that’s now being amplified by the conservative media. It demonizes vital public services and suggests that the poor are doing just fine thanks to the largesse of the country’s “makers.” Conservatives are being told that the United States is now spending vast fortunes combating poverty—more than we dedicate to national defense, Social Security and Medicare.

This new spin is notable not for its mendacity—although it is completely divorced from reality—but because its origins are easily traced, allowing us to see how these kinds of distortions come to be. This one originated with the work of an analyst at the Heritage Foundation who is well known for his intellectual dishonesty. It was then picked up by Republican staffers on Capitol Hill, who lent the claim credibility by requesting a Congressional Research Service report on the analysis. They then further distorted the narrative before distributing it to friendly writers at conservative media outlets, who dutifully reported the falsehood. It will soon become conventional wisdom on the Right, further distorting conservatives’ view of taxes and spending.

Several conservative outlets had the story before Daniel Halper at the Weekly Standard, but his piece is the one that’s been cited by hundreds of conservative blogs, right-wing radio talkers and Fox News. Halper, citing “the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee,“ framed the story like this: “[W]elfare spending per day per household in poverty is $168, which is higher than the $137 median income per day. When broken down per hour, welfare spending per hour per household in poverty is $30.60, which is higher than the $25.03 median income per hour.”

For fiscal year 2011, CRS identified roughly 80 overlapping federal means-tested welfare programs that together represented the single largest budget item in 2011—more than the nation spends on Social Security, Medicare, or national defense. The total amount spent on these federal programs, when taken together with approximately $280 billion in state contributions, amounted to roughly $1 trillion.

Common sense should tell you that this is a ridiculous claim. Given that the United States has one of the weakest social safety nets in the world, it’s pretty obvious that we’re not spending more on each family in poverty than the median income—or more on the poor than we spend on defense, Social Security and Medicare. But let’s dig into the details.

Continue reading at:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14343/gop_trillion_dollar_lie_welfare

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