Presidential Proclamation– LGBT Pride Month, 2015

LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2015

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

From the moment our Nation first came together to declare the fundamental truth that all men are created equal, courageous and dedicated patriots have fought to refine our founding promise and broaden democracy’s reach.  Over the course of more than two centuries of striving and sacrifice, our country has expanded civil rights and enshrined equal protections into our Constitution.  Through struggle and setback, we see a common trajectory toward a more free and just society.  But we are also reminded that we are not truly equal until every person is afforded the same rights and opportunities — that when one of us experiences discrimination, it affects all of us — and that our journey is not complete until our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.

Across our Nation, tremendous progress has been won by determined individuals who stood up, spoke out, and shared their stories.  Earlier this year, because of my landmark Executive Order on LGBT workplace discrimination, protections for Federal contractors went into effect, guarding against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The Federal Government is now leading by example, ensuring that our employees and contractors are judged by the quality of their work, not by who they love.  And I will keep calling on the Congress to pass legislation so that all Americans are covered by these protections, no matter where they work.

In communities throughout the country, barriers that limit the potential of LGBT Americans have been torn down, but too many individuals continue to encounter discrimination and unfair treatment.  My Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors because the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that it can cause substantial harm.  We understand the unique challenges faced by sexual and gender minorities — especially transgender and gender non-conforming individuals — and are taking steps to address them.  And we recognize that families come in many shapes and sizes.  Whether biological, foster, or adoptive, family acceptance is an important protective factor against suicide and harm for LGBTQ youth, and mental health experts have created resources to support family communication and involvement.

For countless young people, it is not enough to simply say it gets better; we must take action too.  We continue to address bullying and harassment in our classrooms, ensuring every student has a nurturing environment in which to learn and grow. Across the Federal Government, we are working every day to unlock the opportunities all LGBT individuals deserve and the resources and care they need.  Too many LGBTQ youth face homelessness and too many older individuals struggle to find welcoming and affordable housing; that is why my Administration is striving to ensure they have equal access to safe and supportive housing throughout life.  We are updating our National HIV/AIDS Strategy to better address the disproportionate burden HIV has on communities of gay and bisexual men and transgender women.  We continue to extend family and spousal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.  And because we know LGBT rights are human rights, we are championing protections and support for LGBT persons around the world.

All people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence, and protected against discrimination, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our Nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our Union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2015 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.  I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

President Barack Obama's signature

BARACK OBAMA

Source:  The White House,  “Presidential Proclamation– LGBT Pride Month, 2015,”  Office of the Press Secretary, May 29, 2015

Laramie City Council passes anti-discrimination measure 17 years after Matthew Shepard killing

CHEYENNE, Wyoming — Laramie City Council passes anti-discrimination measure 17 years after Matthew Shepard killing.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: The Associated Press. Washington Post, “Laramie City Council passes anti-discrimination measure 17 years after Matthew Shepard killing,”  May 13, 2015

Gay Marriage Arguments Divide Supreme Court Justices

Supporters of same-sex marriage gathered in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday as the justices prepared to hear arguments on the issue. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Supporters of same-sex marriage gathered in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday as the justices prepared to hear arguments on the issue. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court justices on Tuesday clashed during arguments on whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The session is the last public step before a decision that will resolve one of the great open questions in modern constitutional law.

Until recently, the court has been cautious and halting in addressing same-sex marriage, signaling that it did not want to outpace public support and developments in the states. Now, though, a definitive decision will probably be handed down in about two months.

At the start of Tuesday’s arguments, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that he had looked up definitions of marriage and had been unable to find one written before a dozen years ago that did not define it as between a man and a woman. “If you succeed, that definition will not be operable,” the Chief Justice said. “You are not seeking to join the institution. You are seeking to change the institution.”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who many consider the likely swing vote on the case, weighed in with skepticism as the advocates for gay marriage made their case. He said the definition of marriage “has been with us for millennia.”

“It’s very difficult for the court to say, ‘Oh, we know better,’ ” he said.

Justice Antonin Scalia echoed Justice Kennedy’s concerns about the weight of history and the relatively recentness of gay marriage. About halfway through Mary L. Bonauto’s argument for the recognition of a right to same-sex marriage, Justice Scalia asked whether she knew of “any society prior to the Netherlands in 2001 that permitted same sex marriages?” He repeated Justice Kennedy’s observation that the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman has been in effect “for millennia.”

Later, when the lawyer for the opponents of gay marriage began arguing, Justice Stephen G. Breyer forcefully questioned why states should be able to exclude gay people from marriage. “Marriage is open to vast numbers of people,” he said, adding that same-sex couples “have no possibility to participate in that fundamental liberty. And so we ask why.”

Several of the more liberal justices also pressed the opponents of gay marriage to say how, exactly, extending marriage to same-sex couples could harm heterosexual couples who want to marry.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was particularly blunt on that point. “You are not taking away anything from heterosexual couples” if the state allows gay couples to marry,” she said.

Crowd Awaits Gay Marriage Arguments. Publish Date: April 28, 2015. Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor seemed equally unpersuaded, asking how denying marriage to same-sex couples strengthens marriage for heterosexual couples.

John J. Bursch, the lawyer for the opponents of same-sex marriage, argued in response that if people no longer believe that “marriage and creating children have anything to do with each other,” there will be more children born out of wedlock, which he said is a problem for society.

In 2013, the justices ducked the question that they will now consider. At the time, however, just 12 states and the District of Columbia allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry. Similarly, the court in October refused to hear appeals from rulings allowing same-sex marriage in five states.

That decision immediately expanded the number of states with same-sex marriage to 24, up from 19. The number has since grown to at least 36, and more than 70 percent of the nation lives in states that allow same-sex marriage.

The justices might have been content to remain on the sidelines. But a decision in November from a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, forced their hand. The Sixth Circuit upheld same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, saying that voters and legislators, not judges, should decide the issue.

Source:  The New York Times, “Gay Marriage Arguments Divide Supreme Court Justices,” APRIL 28, 2015

New organization name

On March 21, 2000, The Four Corners Gay and Lesbian Alliance was officially incorporated, and over the last 15 years, our community has grown and expanded. It  was with this is mind that the Board of Directors felt the name of the organization should better reflect our entire community.

After a community vote on the three names suggested by the Board of Directors, we are excited to announce the new name for our organization:
Four Corners Alliance for Diversity

In the coming weeks, we will be writing a new Mission Statement that better reflects the many concerns and needs of our members and the role of the organization in the communities in which we live.

Please make sure to bookmark our new website at www.4CAllianceforDiversity.org.

AND, with the new name, we are in need of a new logo and are excited to announce a logo contest. So, get those creative juices flowing and help develop a new look to take the organization into the next 15 years. The deadline for new logo concepts is April 1, 2015; all designs may be emailed to 4calliancefordiversity@gmail.com

Many thanks to all of you who help to make our community the very colorful and vibrant one that it is.

 

Wave Of Anti-LGBT Bills in 2015 State Legislative Sessions

HRC is working to counter a wave of anti-LGBT bills that have been filed by state legislators across the country. More than 85 bills have been filed in 26 state legislatures. 

There are currently four major types of anti-LGBT bills being filed in state legislatures.  These bills would:

1. Allow individuals, businesses, universities, adoption agencies, and others to use religion to challenge or opt out of laws, including state and local laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations;

2. Prohibit cities and towns from protecting LGBT people from discrimination;

3. Criminalize transgender people for using appropriate restrooms; and

4. Explicitly protect therapists who engage in harmful “conversion therapy”.

The diversity of the legislation is unprecedented and a record number of bills have been introduced.

Together, these bills undermine, and even cripple, fundamental protections and basic dignity for LGBT Americans and other minority groups. 

To learn more about the bills and the states where they have been introduced, check out the map below or click here.

2015_StateLegislationMap_blog440

Source: HRC Blog, “Wave Of Anti-LGBT Bills in 2015 State Legislative Sessions,” March 18, 2015 by Hayley Miller, Digital Media Associate