British Member of European Parliament Comes Out as Transgender| Gay News | Towleroad

BRITISH MEMBER OF EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT COMES OUT AS TRANSGENDER

BY KYLER GEOFFROY

Nikki Sinclaire, a British member of the European Parliament, has revealed in a new autobiography that she underwent a sex change at the age of 23. Sinclaire gave a follow-up interview with The Sun, stating that she first realized she should have been a female at the age of three.

“It sounds weird, but I knew something was wrong even then – I’ve always felt I was in the wrong body. I remember dressing up as a girl on my first day of school. It then started to happen every day. The other kids knew I was different,” she said.

In her early 20s, Sinclaire began hormone replacement treatment before undergoing the sex change. Sinclaire says that complications from the surgery nearly killed her, but maintains that it was a necessity for her well-being.

“If I hadn’t become a woman I would have led a lonely, neurotic life, forever out of place, endlessly consulting doctors and therapists at public expense. As it is I have become a happy, fulfilled achiever and I have repaid, in tax, the cost of my NHS operation many times over.”

Moving forward, Sinclaire says she doesn’t want her past to overshadow her ambition of becoming a cabinet minister at Westminster.

“I feel passionately that true equality happens only when your colour, creed, gender or sexuality is not a label used next to your name. We are not there yet.”

via British Member of European Parliament Comes Out as Transgender| Gay News | Towleroad.

Courageous Conversations

By Marsha Aizumi

It started with a simple request.
Could I come in and help your district support LGBTQ students at an even higher level? But, Dr. Linda Wagner, at that time the Monrovia Superintendent, and presently the Anaheim City School District Superintendent, had bigger visions. Why not help multiple districts support their LGBTQ students to feel safer and more accepted? And so on October 16th, 2013, 72 participants, representing 22 school districts met to listen, dialogue and gain resources to make their campuses even safer for LGBTQ students. In attendance were seven superintendents, seven assistant superintendents, and multiple leaders from as far away as Bakersfield, Lancaster, Irvine and Manhattan Beach.

Dr. John Deasy, Superintendent for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), one of the largest districts in the nation, provided the keynote address. “It is not about tolerance. It is about acceptance. We have to give a voice to those who don’t have a voice yet. Remaining silent is abandoning our role of being there for our students.” Dr. Deasy passionately expressed that educational leaders need to visibly set the bar of acceptance for all who walk onto their campuses. As he spoke from his heart, the audience was drawn in. A sense of calm and ease began to flow into the day. Participants recognized we are all on this journey together, we doing the best we can with the knowledge we have and we are all here to do our jobs better by gaining more knowledge.

Two presentations followed Dr. Deasy’s opening comments. One from two LAUSD experts, Dr. Judy Chiasson and Stephen Jimenez-Robb, focused on balancing California laws with finding the heart to do the right thing. They used several examples where LAUSD made decisions from their heart, even when the laws did not require their action. In addition, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) represented by Dr. Robert McGarry, as Senior Director, provided the participants with a wealth of information and Safe Space Kits to begin introducing both elementary and secondary schools to valuable suggestions on making their schools more welcoming.

To respond to questions that participants may have had following the presentations, a panel with Dr. Chiasson, Dr. McGarry, and Stephen Jimenez was provided, adding Ariel Bustamante from the Gay Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network). Sara Train, one of the lead organizers for Courageous Conversations and Project Spin Coordinator served as the moderator for the panel, as well as emcee for the event. The panel addressed questions about accommodations for transgender students, LAUSD’s new campaign where staff wearing rainbow
badges, and distict specific questions regarding struggles within districts.

The day closed with my son Aiden and I sharing our story. I spoke about the fear and struggles of a mother and made the analogy that districts are like families. Families love their children and districts care about their students. We are all learning and growing. I stated that districts could never make as many mistakes as I made . . . and yet here I am with my son and we are closer than ever, because in the end the love and care were things that mattered most. Aiden shared his experiences of bullying and harassment in school. He also shared the positive changes he has seen in the past few years at the school he attended. In our evaluations, one participant called my son, courageous. I couldn’t agree more with that assessment of Aiden, but of course, I am his mother.

Besides the presentations, multiple resources around the room were available. Visibly present were resources from PFLAG, a national organization that supports LGBTQ individuals and their families. I currently sit on the PFLAG National Board and Aiden sits on the PFLAG National Transgender Advisory Council. Five local chapters of PFLAG sent representatives, as well as resources.

Also in attendance was a newly formed coalition made up of various PFLAG chapters, GSA Network and other supportive individuals and organizations. The Southern California Safe Schools Coalition was present not only to support this event, but to be a future resource for the school districts who might want specific knowledge or trainings.

As participants walked out of the room, an air of hope and possibilities followed them. I believe that our LGBTQ students will be a little safer when they walk onto the campuses of the 22 districts that attended. And although it was just a beginning . . . . that is where all of us had to start.

Marsha Aizumi is an educational consultant and author of Two Spirits, One Heart. Visit Marsha at www.marshaaizumi.com

WATCH: Rep. Wasserman Schultz On How She Explained The Meaning Of “Gay” To Her Young Son / Queerty

During an interview with SiriusXM Radio, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL 23rd District) talked about the future of marriage equality in America.

“I think the country has evolved to a point where the majority of Americans embrace marriage equality,” she said. “And that is the right thing.”

(Florida, of course, still has some work to do. In 2008, a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was added to the state’s constitution, which lawmakers have kept in place even after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA in June.)

In the interview, Rep. Wasserman Schultz also recounted the time her son, who was in fourth grade at the time, asked: “Mom, what does being gay mean?”

She explained that the question was prompted by a TV commercial.

“I [was] standing on a crossroads here in my child’s life,” she recalled. “This is the moment when people either turn their children into bigots and narrow-minded individuals or they have an opportunity to open their eyes to tolerance. Of course, I had always intended to choose tolerance and understanding.”

Rep. Wasserman Schultz is currently promoting her new book For the Next Generation: A Wake-Up Call to solving our Nation’s Problems. She has been a longtime supporter of LGBT rights and marriage equality and carries a 100% rating from the HRC for her pro-gay rights stance.

Watch Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s interview below.

 

Full story here: http://www.queerty.com/watch-rep-wasserman-schultz-on-how-she-explained-the-meaning-of-gay-to-her-young-son-20131022/#ixzz2iW8dV0Jr

 

New Jersey Judge Rules Gay Marriage Legal, Orders Them to Begin| Gay News | Towleroad

A New Jersey judge has ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection under the state constiution and ordered them to begin on October 21st.

MaryAP: “In a summary judgment issued Friday, Judge Mary Jacobson says now that the federal government recognizes gay marriages, not doing so in New Jersey would violate the state constitution.”

NBC New York:

Judge Mary Jacobson granted a summary judgment requested by Garden State Equality, which had claimed that the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of the federal Defense of Marriage Act meant that same-sex couples in civil unions in New Jersey were being denied equal protection.

“The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts,” the judge said.

“Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution,” she wrote.

READ MORE: New Jersey Judge Rules Gay Marriage Legal, Orders Them to Begin| Gay News | Towleroad.

Gay Married Couples to Get Federal Tax Recognition Regardless of State Where They Live| Gay News | Towleroad

In a decision prompted by the recent SCOTUS ruling on DOMA the U.S. Department of the Treasury said today it would recognize gay married couples for tax purposes regardless of the state laws regarding marriage in which they reside, the HuffPost’s Sam Stein reports:

LewThursday’s ruling by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew provides a uniform policy for the IRS; the state of celebration — where the wedding took place — now trumps the state of residency when it comes to federal tax status for same-sex married couples.

“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” Lew said in a statement. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

The new policy, which was first shared by Lew in a conference call that included LGBT advocates, holds a bit of political significance. It was the burden of federal tax law on same-sex couples, after all, that prompted the legal challenge to DOMA in the first place.

Read more at TowleRoad

New Mexico Attorney General Will Not Challenge Same-Sex Marriage Licenses| Gay News | Towleroad

After Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins decided to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples earlier today, state Attorney General Gary King told reporters that he does not plan to challenge said marriage licenses, since he believes the state’s current ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. In another bit of possibly good news, King also told press that he would not challenge any other county clerk should they make the same decision, although he did warn that the licenses could be ruled invalid if the state Supreme Court deems the decision unlawful.

King’s decision comes after a prior legal challenge to New Mexico’s ban on same-sex marriage, another one that he has chosen not to defend. According to the Associated Press, same-sex couples in Las Cruces have already started taking advantage of the decision. “I was in a coffee shop grading dissertations when my partner sent me an email saying, `you want to get married?'” said Char Ullman, 51. “I went home to brush my teeth and headed to the courthouse.”

New mexico

via New Mexico Attorney General Will Not Challenge Same-Sex Marriage Licenses| Gay News | Towleroad.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer Calls Vladimir Putin “Schoolyard Bully”, Wants Rainbow Flag At Olympics| Gay News | Towleroad

US Sen. Chuck Schumer Calls Vladimir Putin “Schoolyard Bully”, Wants Rainbow Flag At Olympics| Gay News | Towleroad.

Chuck Schumer
Last week, Democratic U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer publicly ridiculed Russian president Vladimir Putin over his support of the country’s recent anti-gay legislation, calling him a “schoolyard bully”. RiaNovosti reports that, yesterday, during an episode of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Schumer expanded on his critical remarks, and called for LGBT athletes participating in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi to wave rainbow flags:

“When we march initially, all the countries should wave the multicolored flag for gay rights. That would be pretty embarrassing for Putin, let our athletes participate and still take a stand.”

Schumer’s words sought to address questions as to whether the United States or the International Olympic Commission should boycott Russia for any upcoming games, including the ones scheduled for 2014. “All these athletes train for so long,” he said, adding that, “standing up to Putin right now is important because he’s a bully.”

“He resents being an old KGB guy, being brought up when the Soviet Union and the US went head to head…He resents that Russia is no longer the major power in the world that it used to be. Its population, of course, with all the states – Ukraine, all the Baltic states, the east Asian states gone — they’re no longer a big power.”

Gay and Lesbian Couples Can Begin Marrying in California Immediately| Gay News | Towleroad

Gay and Lesbian Couples Can Begin Marrying in California Immediately| Gay News | Towleroad.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order Friday saying it’s lifting the stay it imposed while a lawsuit challenging California’s gay marriage ban worked its way through the courts.

That means same-sex marriages can resume in the state for the first time since 2008.

The Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act: What it Means | Lambda Legal

The Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act: What it Means | Lambda Legal.

The Windsor case challenged the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA, the part that discriminatorily excluded married same-sex couples from federal protections, responsibilities, and programs. Section 2 of DOMA, which says that states may discriminate against gay couples legally married in other states, still stands. Legislative action will be needed to remove it, although getting rid of Section 2 will not eliminate discriminatory state marriage laws.

The Respect for Marriage Act, a bill pending in Congress that enjoys bipartisan support and the backing of President Obama, would fully repeal all of DOMA. It would also ensure that all married couples — including same-sex couples — enjoy equal rights under federal law. It would not tell states what to do, but would ensure that the federal government treats all marriages with respect.