News Briefs: 10 States Sue Over Transgender Bathroom Policies, Male Sex Work Website & More!

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Check out this week's latest news from around the world!

 

POLITICS -- Clinton Campaign Confirms Sanders to Endorse Her

(AP) Hillary Clinton's campaign is making it official: Former Democratic rival Bernie Sanders will join her at a New Hampshire event on Tuesday where he plans to endorse her.

Clinton's campaign is holding the event at a high school in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Sanders defeated Clinton by a wide margin in New Hampshire, in the nation's first primary.

Sanders' endorsement will come a month after the final primary. He's pushed for policy agreements on higher education, health care and a $15 an hour federal minimum wage. Some of those policies were included in a draft of the party's platform in Orlando, Florida, over the weekend.

Sanders has not yet said he will endorse Clinton but told reporters on Saturday that the two campaigns were coming together and to stay tuned.

 

NATIONAL – Mass. Gov. Signs Bipartisan Legislation Extending Protections to Transgender Community

(EDGE) Governor Baker's action is a lesson in leadership for North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.

On Friday, Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed into law legislation extending commonsense, non-discrimination protections to transgender residents and visitors to the state. While Massachusetts state law already prohibits discrimination against transgender people in housing and employment, the new law extends these same crucial protections to public accommodations, such as access to restaurants, malls, restrooms, and locker rooms.

"By signing this bipartisan legislation into law, Governor Baker has joined the growing list of fair-minded Republicans who are standing up for equality," said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin. "Equality is not a Republican or Democratic value, it's an American value. This crucially important measure will help ensure transgender Bay State residents and visitors are protected from discrimination in public spaces."

Related: Chelsea Manning 'Glad to Be Alive' Following Suicide Attempt

Massachusetts becomes the 19th state with non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, housing, and employment. In addition, similar protections exist in more than 100 cities across the country, including Atlanta, Dallas, and Louisville.

There is overwhelming support throughout the state and the region for the protections Governor Baker signed into law today. The legislation has been endorsed by every New England professional sports team, state education groups, the Boston Globe editorial board and a host of officials including, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

HRC mobilized its thousands of members and supporters across the state to speak out for the legislation, and committed staff and other resources to a coalition effort called Freedom Massachusetts, in the effort to pass it into law.

 

LEGAL -- 10 States Sue Over Restrooms Transgender Students Can Use

(AP) Ten states sued the federal government Friday over rules requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms conforming to their gender identity, joining a dozen other states in the latest fight over LGBT rights.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Nebraska and included nine other states: Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The filing comes after 11 states sued in May over the same Obama administration directive. North Carolina officials also sued the federal government in May over the same issue. Vast sums of federal funding are at stake: Money could be withheld from public schools that refuse to comply with the federal directive.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said the U.S. Education Department and Justice Department have circumvented established law and the process for changing existing laws.

"It also supersedes local school districts' authority to address student issues on an individualized, professional and private basis," Peterson said in a written statement.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette accused the Obama administration of "another ... federal overreach" that bypasses parents, schools and Congress.

"This lawsuit is about children and our schools," he said.

Jay Kaplan, a lawyer who specializes in LGBT issues at the American Civil Liberties Union in Detroit, said the lawsuit is a waste of tax dollars "as well as an assault on the dignity of transgender youth."

The Nebraska lawsuit hinges on the terms "sex" and "gender identity," saying federal law uses only the term "sex."

"Neither the text nor the legislative history of Title IX supports an interpretation of the term 'sex' as meaning anything other than one's sex as determined by anatomy and genetics," the lawsuit says.

 

TECHNOLOGY -- Website Launched to Support Male Sex Workers and Lobby for Decriminalization

(EDGE) Few professions are as misunderstood, disparaged and infamous as that of the oldest of professions, sex work: particularly male sex work.

Though in reality the profiles of male sex workers are nearly as varied as those of their clients -- encompassing a wide range of personalities, needs and lifestyles -- sex workers remain the targets of myriad, centuries old, ugly culturally ingrained myths: Guys become prostitutes because they're too dumb to get a "real job." They do it to support a drug habit. They must be self-hating victims of sexual abuse. They have low self-esteem. They are walking petri dishes of yet un-cataloged STDs.

The new website, "Me, Us & Male Escorting" at www.aboutmaleescorting.com aims to not only challenge these ignorant misconceptions, but to also lobby for the decriminalization of sex work through an on ongoing series of informative blogs and resources, including links to widely cited and read books and research papers published on male escorting.

In creating this blog Scott and Minichiello's intent is "to create an innovative forum of collaboration between researchers, writers, sex workers, sex work organizations, and the media to further support the development of an ethically operated and entrepreneurially responsible business enterprise in society."

Me, Us & Male Escorting is for everyone from male sex workers to their friends, families and romantic partners, to government agencies and the general public.

"We need the government to come on board and see this as work," says Me, Us & Male Escorting co-founder Professor John Scott. "That makes it better for the sex workers who can manage their health and safety and if sex work is decriminalized better in terms of making it easier for people to pay tax and follow all the regulations like all other occupations."

 

NATIONAL – Illinois Agency Urges Foster Parents to Take In LGBT Youth

(AP) Illinois' child welfare agency is trying to recruit more foster parents to take in homeless LGBT youth.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services held a recruitment seminar Saturday to provide prospective foster parents with information on the process. The agency said it was specifically looking for foster and adoptive families within Chicago's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The event was held at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Related: Florida Moves To Protect LGBTQ Youth

According to the department, there are an estimated 25,000 homeless youth across Illinois. Up to 40 percent of them identify as LGBT.

Jane Kelly is the agency's statewide LGBT coordinator. She says many of these young people “are told to leave their homes by their own families because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.''

 

HEALTH – LA Officials Urge Gay, Bisexual Men Get Meningitis Vaccine

(AP) Health officials in Los Angeles are urging high-risk gay and bisexual men to get the meningitis vaccine after observing an uptick in the number diagnosed with invasive meningococcal disease, a potentially deadly infection.

The county health department reported Thursday there have been 11 confirmed cases in Southern California since March. Authorities say most of those diagnosed were men who have sex with men.

Meningococcal disease can develop rapidly and is fatal in about one in 10 patients. All 11 diagnosed have survived.

The health department is advising men who regularly have close or intimate contact with multiple partners as well as those who share cigarettes or use illegal drugs to get the meningitis vaccine.

 

LEGAL – No Parental Rights For Woman At End of Same-Sex Relationship

(AP) A woman whose same-sex relationship ended before gay marriage became legal doesn't have parental rights to a child born to her partner in 2008, the Michigan appeals court said Wednesday.

The decision, which comes a year after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage across the country, will stand as a key precedent in similar disputes in Michigan involving children who were raised by gays and lesbians in relationships that ended.

Michelle Lake and Kerri Putnam were together for 13 years until 2014 but didn't marry during that time. Lake said she deserves to enjoy the rights that would have been granted to her if they had been married.

Putnam gave birth to a boy, now 8, during their relationship, but she no longer allows Lake to see him.

“We simply do not believe it is appropriate for courts to retroactively impose the legal ramifications of marriage onto unmarried couples several years after their relationship has ended,'' the appeals court said. “That, in our view, is beyond the role of the judiciary.''

The court said Lake has no parental rights under Michigan law because the boy wasn't born during a marriage.

“This is true whether the couple involved is a heterosexual or a same-sex couple,'' it said.

The court overturned decisions by a Washtenaw County judge, who had awarded parenting time to Lake. Judge Darlene O'Brien last fall said the best interests of the child should be considered.

Lake's attorney, Jay Kaplan of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said the appeals court ruling is “devastating.''

“This young boy had two moms,'' he said. “The end result is (Lake) can be unilaterally erased from his life. ... It's the collateral damage of all those years of discriminating against same-sex couples.''

 

Technology -- Actor Josh Hutcherson, LGBT Groups Donate Technology to Lost-n-Found Youth

(GV) Actor Josh Hutcherson (“Hunger Games,” “The Kids Are All Right”) was in town on Wednesday to kick off the Atlanta version of the PowerOn campaign, which provides LGBT youth access to computers and important online resources.

PowerOn was founded in 2014 by Straight But Not Narrow (which Hutcherson co-founded), The Trevor Project, Human IT and LGBT Tech to encourage people to donate old or broken laptops, tables and smartphones so that they can refurbish and redistribute them back to those in the LGBT community that need them the most.

Representatives from each of the partnering organizations were on hand Wednesday not only to kick off the Atlanta campaign but to donate 10 laptops and over 25 solar chargers to Atlanta LGBT homeless youth organization Lost-n-Found Youth.

“This is an incredible program. You have no idea how much good this is going to do,” said Lost-n-Found Youth executive director Rick Westbrook as the donations were presented.

Christopher Wood, executive director of LGBT Tech, said that the PowerOn campaign’s goal is to put 1,000 devices on the street in the next two years.

“Those 1,000 devices could be a world of difference and I’m really excited to start here in Atlanta, in the Bible Belt in an area where kids are thrown out every single day, even today,” he said. “The technology that you donate has the ability to impact a center like we’re standing in today, a youth that has gone through a program and gets into their own place but doesn’t necessarily have the money for a laptop or desktop and we’re working to make sure that those individuals stay connected and have the same ability as you or I to get information that is so crucial to us every single day.”


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