DOJ withdraws lawsuit against N.C. anti-trans bathroom law

From The Washington Blade:

Chris Johnson
April 14, 2017

Although North Carolina replaced anti-LGBT House Bill 2 with a law that critics say still enables anti-LGBT discrimination, the U.S. Justice Department has withdrawn the lawsuit against the state filed last year under Obama administration.

In a five-page notice, the Justice Department under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced it has voluntarily withdrawn the lawsuit filed last year by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

“In light of the passage of North Carolina Session Law 2017-4, House Bill 142, and pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41, the Parties in the above-captioned action hereby stipulate that all claims or causes of action against Defendants and all counterclaims against Plaintiff which were the subject matter of this lawsuit are hereby dismissed with prejudice,” the notice says.

After North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law the replacement measure for HB2, whether the Justice Department would continue the lawsuit it filed against the state over the initial law was in question. As of last month, a Justice Department said the U.S. government “reviewing its litigation posture” in the aftermath of the HB2 replacement.

Lynch’s lawsuit alleged HB2, which barred cities from enacting pro-LGBT ordinances and transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, contravenes federal law. The Justice Department alleged the law violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.

The deal Cooper signed, House Bill 142, replaces HB2 with a measure that LGBT advocates say is a bait-and-switch attempt giving the appearance of repeal while doubling-down on discrimination.

HB 142 prohibits state agencies, municipalities and the University of North Carolina from the “regulation of access” to bathrooms, locker rooms and showers unless they have the legislature’s permission. It also bans municipalities until 2020 from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures that would apply to private businesses or public accommodations.

Ford Porter, a Cooper spokesperson, said in response to DOJ’s withdrawal of the lawsuit against the North Carolina law the governor still supports statewide non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

“The compromise to repeal HB2 took an important step in the right direction,” Porter said. “Gov. Cooper will continue to work to repair our state’s reputation and add statewide protections for LGBT North Carolinians.”

The withdraw of DOJ’s lawsuit in the aftermath of the switch is consistent with Sessions’ actions against transgender rights since his confirmation as U.S. attorney general. In fact, the Justice Department last month nixed its request for a preliminary injunction against HB2 in favor of an existing injunction against the law that was significantly more limited and applied only to plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit.

Jon W. Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, said in a statement the Justice Department is using the North Carolina’s new law as excuse to withdraw lawsuit even though the new statute still enables discrimination.

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Texas bathroom bill targeting trans people would also strip rights for veterans, elderly and pregnant women

From Raw Story:

17 Apr 2017

A bill sponsored by Texas state House Republicans aims to nullify anti-discriminations protections for transgender people who use public bathrooms, but the bill would also have the unintended consequence of endangering the bathroom rights of the elderly, disabled veterans and pregnant women.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the House Republican bill bans cities from protecting the rights of any group that is not already a protected class under state or federal law.

“It’s a one-sided proposition in that it forbids a city from protecting someone from discrimination but it doesn’t forbid a city from discriminating against a person,” Southern Methodist University constitutional professor Dale Carpenter told the paper. “It is very rare, if not unprecedented, to see actual language in a statute prohibiting classes of persons from being protected from discrimination.”

If the House bill becomes law, cities would no longer be able to extend protections beyond the federal minimums, which include race, religion and national origin.

Austin has added “age” as a protected class for older people who need special accommodations. And San Antonio passed resolutions to protect the bathroom rights of veterans and LGBT people.

But cities like Austin and San Antonio would no longer be able to protect the rights of the elderly, veterans, pregnant women and LGBT people if Republicans have their way.

Read the entire report from The Dallas Morning News.

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A Transgender Learning Gap in the Emergency Room

From The New York Times:

As an emergency physician, I’m always engaging in a fast-tempo, often awkward, all too stressful dance with strangers. Lately, though, I’ve noticed a particular gap in my own medical education and training, as well as in that of my colleagues, that’s further tripping up our steps: how to provide optimal health care for transgender patients.

The gap is amplified in the emergency room, where even under the best of circumstances the interaction we have with patients is typically rushed and never entirely comfortable — and where I’m usually meeting a patient for the first time and don’t have the patient’s medical history at my fingertips. Because transgender people are less likely to have health insurance and are four times more likely to live in poverty compared to the general population, the emergency room serves as a particularly important safety net for these patients.

Sometimes the patient is registered as the wrong gender immediately from triage, resulting in a strained communication from the get-go. Other times, a staff member lets out a surprised gasp as a patient undresses for a physical exam. Then there are the moments when providers call a patient a “he/she” or “they” on rounds. Private rooms are also hard to come by in busy, overcrowded emergency rooms, and patients may be inappropriately clustered by gender.

None of this, for the most part, is out of malice. Instead it’s because of our own ignorance — and stems from our lack of education and training on providing sensitive and evidence-based care for transgender patients.

Currently, American medical schools’ curriculums are not sufficiently addressing the health needs and concerns of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. A comprehensive survey of schools in the United States and Canada revealed that less than five hours in medical schools are devoted to L.G.B.T. health over all; some medical schools reported zero hours of training. While I did learn about providing health care for lesbian, gay and bisexual patients when I went to medical school over a decade ago, I didn’t receive any special education on the particular health needs and concerns of the estimated 1.4 million adults living in the United States who identify as transgender.

In one study, half of these patients had to teach their doctors about transgender health issues at some point. A Twitter hashtag #transhealthfail started trending in August of 2015, when transgender patients shared stories about their negative experiences with the health care system. Patients continue to use the hashtag today.

These holes in medical education and training can cost lives. Over 70 percent of transgender people nationwide say they have experienced serious discrimination in a health care setting. A third of transgender people postpone — or completely avoid — seeking health care because of the fear of discrimination. One in five have yet to disclose their transgender status to any medical provider.

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The Tribal Case for Israel

From The Forward:

By Micha Danzig & Yirmiyahu Danzig
April 6, 2017

Supporting Israel means supporting indigenous rights. Despite the obviousness and the power of this statement, much of the rhetoric used by the pro-Israel community revolve around Israel’s technological innovation, treatment of women and the LGBTQIA+ community, democratic character, and morality.

While accurate, this paradigm is irrelevant to the average college student that supports BDS (the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement) or is inclined to support BDS. For the average college student who supports BDS (or is inclined to), the view of Israel as a “Western” outpost in the Arab Middle East trumps all other considerations. Right or wrong, on today’s college campuses and in the places where the BDS argument has the most traction, people care far more about indigenous rights and justice for the indigenous than they do about almost anything else.

When Zionists declared independence and the return of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, the founding fathers understood that they were making a proclamation of the justice of the Jewish people’s return to sovereignty in their indigenous homeland. That is why Israel’s Declaration of Establishment proclaims:

“Eretz-Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here, their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books. After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.”

This is the original language of Zionism. This is about the Jewish people’s indigenous rights in the land of Israel. This is also about justice; the justice of Zionism. Thus, every chance we get, we need to remind people that Zionism is the first successful indigenous movement of a dispossessed and colonized people regaining sovereignty in their indigenous homeland.

The facts are on our side. Even though it is an oft-repeated mantra of anti-Israel activists that Israel is a “colonial outpost” or a “colonial settler state,” there is indisputable evidence that the Jewish people are indigenous to the Land of Israel. Arabs, in contrast, originated in the Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula before they colonized much of the Middle East and Africa at the expense of many different indigenous populations (such as Copts, Yazidis, Assyrians, Amazighs and Jews).

Under the common-sense definition of Indigenous set forth in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the only living people who are uniquely indigenous to the land of Israel are Jews.

The evidence of Jewish indigeneity in the land of Israel is as obvious as the presence of ancient mikvot (ritual baths) and ancient Jewish coins that have been discovered all over Israel, and the Arch of Titus in Rome, which depicts the siege of Jewish Jerusalem.

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Easter Message from Sean Spicer

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