Category: Transgender News

Palm Beach County Strengthens Civil Rights Protections

(GayWebSource.com) (West Palm Beach, Florida) –  At this morning’s meeting, Palm Beach County Commissioners voted unanimously to expand civil rights protections for minorities by amending the definition of “places of public accommodation” in the Palm Beach County Ordinance for Equal Opportunity to Housing and Places of Public Accommodation.

“When I looked at the antidiscrimination ordinances that had been in effect in Palm Beach County over the years, it became clear that our law needed to be updated to better protect minorities,” said County Commissioner Mary Lou Berger. “In light of all that is happening with race relations across our nation, this is the appropriate time for the County Commission to take a strong, proactive stand against discrimination.”

While a majority of states have long prohibited discrimination of any kind in retail establishments, Florida is not one of them.

“Since there is no statewide law covering discrimination in retail stores, the ordinance passed today is clearly the most significant civil rights law passed in Palm Beach County in decades,” said Rand Hoch, the retired judge who provided the County Attorney’s office with the language used in the ordinance.

Hoch is President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), the County’s most prolific civil rights organization. Over the past twenty-five years, PBCHRC has succeeded in having public officials enact more than 90 local antidiscrimination laws and policies.

Palm Beach County first enacted an ordinance to prohibit discrimination in places of public accommodation in 1973.  Over the years, the ordinance has been rewritten to include discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion, national origin, disability, familial status, sexual orientation, age, marital status, and gender identity or expression.

However, for more than three decades, instances of public accommodation discrimination were strictly limited to only those which occurred in places offering lodging, food service or entertainment in the ordinance.

“The ordinance traced its roots back to civil rights laws written in the 1960s when it was legal to have ‘Whites only’ hotels, restaurants and bars and the County Commissioners only addressed inequities had occurred in very few places of commerce.” said Hoch. “As we know, discriminatory acts are not limited to those few places.”

“No one should be subjected to the humiliation of being denied service in a store open to the general public because of his or her race.” said County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor.

“Allowing store owners to choose their customers based on prejudice deprives shoppers of the freedom to walk into a store that seems to be open the general public and get served like everybody else,” said Hoch.

At today’s meeting, the County Commissioners widely expanded the definition of public accommodation to include retail stores, schools, day care and senior centers, medical offices, funeral homes, bakeries, laundromats and virtually all other places of business throughout the county.

“When the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council asked the County Commission to expand the definition of places of public accommodation last January, our main priority was to prohibit consumer racism in retail stores – a practice known as ‘shopping while Black,'” said Hoch.

The experience of people of color being refused service – or given poor service – is not uncommon.  “Shopping while Black” also includes black customers being followed by store clerks, wrongly detained, steered away from certain products, and being asked for additional forms of identification regarding credit applications.

President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey,  Condoleezza Rice, and other well-know Black Americans have publically discussed their humiliating experiences of shopping while black.

“There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store,” President Obama said after the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin. “That includes me.”

“Public accommodations must be open to all people equally. If you hang out a shingle and get a license to do business with the general public, you should be required to provide the same service to all of the general public – and that includes gays and lesbians.” said Hoch.

Since same-sex marriage has become legal, a handful of companies in the wedding industry in Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have  refused to provide services gay and lesbian couples.

“Gay and lesbian couples planning their weddings are being refused service solely because of their sexual orientation,” said Hoch.  “Under the new Palm Beach County ordinance, if a bakery refuse to provide a cake for a gay or lesbian couple’s wedding, that baker may be faced with litigation, a fine of up to $50,000 and payment of attorneys’ fees.”

The new ordinance does take into account the special rights of churches and private clubs by exempting both religious and distinctly private organizations from the ordinance.

“Churches may be allowed to  exclude people of other faiths.  Private clubs may be allowed to continue to deny membership based on race and religion,” said Hoch. “However, in Palm Beach County, businesses engaged in commerce will no longer be allowed to refuse service based on a person’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or any other protected classes.”

 

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio places travel ban on city-funded trips to Mississippi

(GayWebSource.com – West Palm Beach, Florida) — In the wake of Mississippi’s enactment of HB 1523, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio became the first mayor in Florida — and the second in the nation after Seattle Mayor Ed Murray — to place a travel ban on city-funded trips to Mississippi.

HB 1523, which was signed into law yesterday by Mississippi’s Republican Governor, Phil Bryant, allows people with religious objections to deny services to lesbian and gays and permits employers to use religious beliefs as justification in determining workplace policies.

“For more than two decades, West Palm Beach has been in the forefront, protecting the civil rights and ensuring equality for the LGBT community,” said Muoio. “Until the discriminatory laws in Mississippi and North Carolina are repealed, West Palm Beach taxpayers will not subsidize legally-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people.”

On March 28, Muoio became the second mayor in the nation — after San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee – to impose a similar ban on travel to North Carolina following the enactment of another comprehensive anti-LGBT law in that state.

Mayor Muoio implemented the two travel bans at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), a local civil rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.  Since 1990, PBCHRC has been responsible for the enactment of more than 100 local laws and policies which prohibit discrimination against the LGBT community.

“Once again, Mayor Muoio has taken steps to ensure that taxpayers dollars will not be spent in places that discriminate against LGBT Americans,” said retired judge Rand Hoch, PBCHRC President and Founder.  “We commend Mayor Muoio for putting her strong beliefs against bigotry into action by prohibiting taxpayer dollars being used in both Mississippi and North Carolina.”

Last year, Muoio was one of a handful of mayors who announced a similar travel ban to the state of Indiana, following the

wake of Indiana’s passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,

As the result of pressure placed on Indiana by civic leaders, businesses, and numerous other entities, the Indiana Legislature promptly amended the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,by specifying that the law could not be used as a legal defense to discriminate against patrons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Following Muoio’s announcement this morning, travel bans to Mississippi have been implemented by the governors of Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington as well as the mayors of.San Francisco and Seattle

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Media provided by GayWebSource.com – Gay Media and Press Network.

HISTORIC WINS FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN MARYLAND AND MAINE AND PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA WINS RE-ELECTION

Tammy Baldwin Elected First Gay U.S. Senator

(GayWebSource.com) New York, NY, November 7, 2012 – GLAAD today responded to historic wins for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. President Barack Obama won re-election after becoming the first acting president to voice support for marriage equality. Voters in Maine and Maryland affirmed marriage for gay and lesbian couples. This is the first time that voters in any state voted in favor of marriage equality. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin also became the first out gay U.S. Senator.

For more information visit http://glaad.org/vote

“Visibility and progress for LGBT people have grown under President Obama and now that momentum must continue,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “LGBT people deserve full equality in every aspect of American life and President Obama, in his second term, should take every concrete step within his power to make it so.”

Mainers United for Marriage and Marylanders for Marriage Equality joined national media in declaring victory for marriage equality in their states. Results of votes for marriage equality in Washington and against a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in Minnesota have not been announced.

“Voters in Maine and Maryland have shown that full equality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a partisan issue but an issue of human dignity,” said Graddick. “The claims made by anti-gay activists that voters would never embrace marriage for gay and lesbian couples could not be further from the truth. Across lines of politics, race, religion and gender, voters in Maryland and Maine today demonstrated that marriage equality is becoming a real part of American history.”

In Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin became the first out gay U.S. Senator.

“Tonight, Tammy Baldwin made history and shone a bright light across America.  No longer is the United States Senate a place for only a select few but for every citizen, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans,” said Graddick. “Baldwin’s victory showed what a majority of Americans already know: that candidates should be judged on their qualifications for the job and not their sexual orientation.”

For more information visit: http://glaad.org/vote

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About GLAAD: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.

Rich Ferraro
Vice President of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8011
ferraro@glaad.org

Media Provided by the GayWebSource.com – Gay Media and Press Network.

Acclaimed Director Lana Wachowski Opens Up About Her Journey as a Transgender American

Wachowksi delivered a moving speech while accepting the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award

10/25/2012

(GayWebSource.com) – Washington – Lana Wachowski, the critically acclaimed director of the Matrix trilogy and the new movie Cloud Atlas, opened up about her journey as a transgender woman while receiving the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award in San Francisco this past weekend. Wachowski’s emotional speech included heart-wrenching stories about her inability to fit in as a child and her suicide attempt during high school. Wachowski shared her highly personal story with the goal of making conditions easier for other transgender youth to feel confident about their futures.

The video is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crHHycz7T_c.

“It took great courage for Lana to share her personal story,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The impact of people like Lana and other high-profile figures who talk openly about their journeys sends an incredibly powerful message to youth who, on a daily basis, feel like they are broken simply because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. No one should ever feel like their dreams cannot be achieved because of whom they are, and Lana is a shining example of how we are at our best when we are true to ourselves.”

In her remarks, Wachowski touched on the painful isolation that is all too familiar to many LGBT youth: “…without examples, without models, I began to believe voices in my head — that I was a freak, that I am broken, that there is something wrong with me, that I will never be lovable.” Those feelings led her to consider suicide while in high school.

Wachowski closed her remarks by stressing that she wants to a beacon of hope for youth struggling with those same feelings of isolation: “I am here because when I was young, I wanted very badly to be a writer, I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I couldn’t find anyone like me in the world and it felt like my dreams were foreclosed simply because my gender was less typical than others.”

Wachowski’s new film, Cloud Atlas, opens in theaters this weekend. The film, already garnering high praise, stars Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, and received a 10-minute standing ovation following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

If you are a member of the media, you can reach our press office at: (202) 423-2885 or emailpress@hrc.org.

Media Provided by the GayWebSource.com – Gay Media and Press Network.

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