News Briefs for January 27, 2016

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Local

Lake Worth Expands LGBT Rights    

(PBCHRC) Lake Worth City Commissioners unanimously voted to ensure that the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents and municipal employees will be protected from discrimination.

To provide equal opportunity for municipal employees and applicants for employment, commissioners amended the city's merit services policy to prohibit discrimination in municipal employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.  

They also updated the Lake Worth Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.  (The Lake Worth Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment, has included sexual orientation and gender identity or expression since 2007.)

The three actions were taken at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council

Last year, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) launched the "Palm Beach County: You're Welcome!" campaign to encourage municipalities to enact LGBT-inclusive civil rights laws.

"Our LGBT-inclusive laws will should help attract more jobs, revenue and resources to Lake Worth," said City Commission Member Andy Amoroso. 

To date, LGBT-inclusive ordinances have been enacted in most of the major municipalities in Palm Beach County, including Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Wellington and West Palm Beach.

Free Workshops on Anti-Discrimination and Equality in the Workplace

(Broward.org) Children's Services Council of Broward County, Broward County Community Partnerships and Broward County Office of Intergovernmental Affairs & Professional Standards are offering two free workshops in February open to any social service agency staff and interested community stakeholders.

What:         Say No to Discrimination!

Training will provide an increased understanding of best practices to promote inclusiveness within an organization. Attendees will learn about legal options within the community to protect clients.

Who:          Supervisors and direct service staff of social service agencies
When:        Wednesday, February 3rd
Where:       Children's Services Council
                    6600 W. Commercial Boulevard, Lauderhill
Register:   Training.cscbroward.org or contact 954-377-1100

What:         Equality in the Workplace

Training will increase understanding of the appropriate policies and practices for compliance with federal, state and local laws. Experts from Broward County's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Professional Standards will share best practices to foster a "culture of compliance" within your organization.

Who:          Leaders of small to medium sized social service non-profits
When:        Wednesday, February 24th
Where:       Children's Services Council
                    6600 W. Commercial Boulevard, Lauderhill
Register:   Training.cscbroward.org or contact 954-377-1100

About Community Partnerships 
The Community Partnerships Division is responsible for planning, coordinating, administering and evaluating comprehensive human service programs for children and adults including behavioral health, child care licensing, sexual assault treatment and counseling, health care, HIV/AIDS, and homeless services. For more information, call 954-357-8647.

About Intergovernmental Affairs and Professional Standards

The Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Professional Standards focuses on four major areas: governmental relations, grants coordination, human rights and professional standards, including internal investigations and equal opportunity claims. For more information, call 954-357-7575 or visit our website.

National

LOGO Launches New Series “Gay for Play” and “Gay Skit Happens”  

(LOGO) –Logo heads into 2016 with the eighth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and announced the greenlight of two new series - “Gay for Play Game Show Starring RuPaul” and “Gay Skit Happens” - plus a third season of “Cocktails & Classics,” Michael Urie’s love letter to classic films. 

Sketch comedy series “Gay Skit Happens” premieres Monday, February 8 at 10pm ET/PT. Daniel Franzese (“Mean Girls,” “Looking,” “Recovery Road”) hosts the premiere and joins the cast of comics to take on Valentine's Day and tackle all things funny in love, dating, relationships and sex in the age of social media. Actress Vivica A. Fox will join as the host of a Summer Special.

“Gay for Play Game Show Starring RuPaul,” a celebrity-filled pop culture trivia show, will premiere later this year along with the eighth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Fans don’t have to wait for the premiere to meet the new queens though. The next set of contestants battling it out to become America’s next drag superstar will be ru-vealed during the “New Now Next Honors,” Logo’s annual celebration of the hottest new TV, film and music,on February 1 at 10pm ET/PT. A second season of “RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race” will premiere later in the year.  

Logo will also continue to deliver LGBT events including the television premiere of the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards this spring. 

Transgender Woman to Receive $115,000 in Discrimination Lawsuit

(WeissLaw) A federal judge in Minnesota has approved the settlement of a transgender employment discrimination lawsuit against Deluxe Financial Services, Inc., one of the nation’s largest check-printing companies, headquartered in Shoreview, MN. The suit was brought on behalf of Britney Austin, who alleged harassment and discrimination in her position as a call center employee at the Phoenix, Arizona office of Deluxe Corp. (That office has since closed.)  

Ms. Austin alleges that in 2011 after she notified her employer of her upcoming gender transition, she was subjected to ongoing offensive slurs by managers and coworkers. The company also allegedly prohibited her from using restrooms consistent with her gender identity. In addition Deluxe Corp. failed to change her name and sex on company records on grounds that including sex reassignment surgery was required in order to make this record change; but the company denied her coverage of any medically necessary transgender health care, and denied her severance pay and COBRA benefits when Deluxe closed its Phoenix office and laid off its employees working at that location.

Under the terms of the settlement, Deluxe Corp. has agreed to pay Ms. Austin $115,000. Deluxe Corp. has also agreed to remove all trans-specific exclusions in its health care plan. The company will apologize to Ms. Austin for the way she was treated and fully implement companywide policies banning sex discrimination based on gender identity and gender dysphoria, and administer comprehensive training for human resource employees and other managers that ensure adherence to such policies. Deluxe also agrees to allow transgender employees to use restrooms “commensurate with their gender identity” and agrees to allow the EEOC to monitor the company’s compliance with the mandates of the settlement for three-years.

Bill Would Toss Adoption Preference for Heterosexual Couples

by Bob Christie

(AP) Democrats in the Arizona Legislature want a law that requires judges to give preferences to married heterosexual couples in adoption stricken from the books.

The legislation introduced in both the Senate and House removes current language giving preferences to a husband and wife over others in adoptions. Backers say the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last year legalizing same-sex marriage bans laws giving preferences to heterosexual couple over gay couples.

Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, also said single parents shouldn't be given second-tier status on adoptions so the proposal completely eliminates preferences for married couples. He said single parents are just as qualified and sometimes more so to be good parents.

He also points to the approximately 19,000 children in state foster care as a reason to change current law.

"Anyone who would argue that it's better off to leave a foster kid in a group home instead of in a loving family, even if it happens to be a mom and a mom or a dad and a dad, is arguing out of their own ideological interest not out of the interest of the kid," said Farley, the lead Senate sponsor.

The Senate version, Senate Bill 1171, is assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee chaired by Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix. She opposes Farley's bill.

Committee chairs can prevent bills from being heard by not placing them on hearing agendas.

Barto said Thursday that Arizona lawmakers passed the law to ensure children can be raised by a mother and father.

"These other decisions in law that our elected representatives have chosen to make, these changes preferring a man and a woman in terms of adoption and other things, those have not been addressed by the Supreme Court," Barto said. "Those are still up to the states. And they should be based on the social science, which is what the original laws making them so were based on.

Rev. Franklin Graham Calls Gay Christians 'The Enemy'

(EDGE) Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of evangelical Christian evangelist Billy Graham, appeared on Dr. James Dobson's radio show "Family Talk" this week, warning that gay people should not be allowed into churches, Right Wing Watch reports.

Graham said gay churchgoers are "the enemy" who want to "devour our homes" and "devour this nation," during the program. In the discussion, which took place at an event in Colorado (the dialogue was later played on Dobson's show), Graham also said Christian parents should keep their children away from gay people and take over school boards across the country in order to remove LGBT-related programs.

"We have allowed the Enemy to come into our churches," Graham said. "I was talking to some Christians and they were talking about how they invited these gay children to come into their home and to come into the church and that they were wanting to influence them. And I thought to myself, they're not going to influence those kids; those kids are going to influence those parent's children."

Graham added "homosexuality is taught to be OK" in schools and "that is why I want to get the school boards back." Despite his anti-gay rhetoric, Graham insists he loves gay people and feels he needs to tell them that "you cannot stay gay and call yourself a Christian."

Dobson also chimed in on his misunderstanding of the LGBT community, saying: "You know what the 'B' stands for? Bisexual. That's orgies! That is lots of sex with lots of people!"

Trump Consults with Hate Group Leader: LCR Claim He's Not 'Homophobic'

(EDGE) As the gay conservative group Log Cabin Republicans continue to tout Donald Trump as a "pro-gay" candidate, a recent interview with CNN has uncovered that the billionaire reality star turned politician consults the leader of an anti-gay hate group.

Earlier this week, as Trump tried to pass himself off as a devout Christian in front of a captive audience of evangelical students at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, he flubbed citing a Bible verse he quoted by saying "two Corinthians" instead of "Second Corinthians." It was an honest mistake, but one that raised eyebrows about his authenticity regarding his knowledge of The Bible, which he said was his "favorite book."

In an interview with CNN's Don Lemon on Wednesday, Trump said that prior to the speech, he was given notes on what to say during his address to the students by Tony Perkins, president of the SPLC-designated anti-gay hate group Family Research Council.

"Tony Perkins wrote that out for me -- he actually wrote out 2, he wrote out the number 2 Corinthians," Trump said. "I took exactly what Tony said, and I said, 'Well Tony has to know better than anybody.'"

While some may perceive this move as a subtle shove under the Bible bus by Trump for the flub, Perkins fully admits his part in helping Trump with the speech.

"I'm guilty as charged," Perkins told CNN's Erin Burnett. "That's exactly what I did. I sent him a couple of suggestions of some things he could talk about as a connection point."

Perkins and The Family Research Council have broken with the pack of evangelical groups and other anti-gay hate organizations by not endorsing Trump's closest competitor Ted Cruz. To date, he has yet to officially endorse a GOP candidate for president.

Investigator Sees Possibility of Bias in Iowa Coach's Firing

by Ryan J. Foley

(AP) A former Iowa women's field hockey coach has a "reasonable possibility" of proving that gender or anti-gay discrimination played a role in her firing, an Iowa Civil Rights Commission investigator has found.

In a screening decision on Tracey Griesbaum's complaint last month, investigator Benjamin Flickinger found that a reasonable person could infer that she suffered discrimination when athletic director Gary Barta fired her in 2014 and that further investigation was warranted. While the case remains at a preliminary stage, the finding comes as the former coach prepares to sue the university.

The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education is in the midst of an inquiry into gender bias claims made by field hockey players who supported Griesbaum.

The university says Griesbaum was fired over ongoing concerns about the way she treated some players, four of whom had filed complaints between 2010 and 2014. But Flickinger noted that the university's investigative report didn't substantiate any policy violations by Griesbaum and that the one incident singled out as unprofessional also involved the assistant coach hired to replace her.

"It is unclear why that report would have led to the termination of an employee with over 22 years of successful employment," Flickinger wrote in the eight-page, Dec. 2 analysis obtained by The Associated Press.

Griesbaum contends that male coaches who did worse, including those responsible for a 2011 workout that landed 13 football players in the hospital, were not disciplined, Flickinger noted. In addition, she claims that five other gay female coaches were fired or forced out in recent years. Barta has said those decisions were based on poor team performance.

International

Portugal's President Blocks Laws on Gay Adoption, Abortion

(AP) Portugal's president has vetoed bills recently passed by Parliament that granted full adoption rights to same-sex couples and removed abortion restrictions.

President Anibal Cavaco Silva says the legislation granting gay couples the same adoption rights as heterosexuals is a radical change that requires broader public consultation. He says Parliament has failed to demonstrate it is in the best interest of children.

The head of state is also blocking Parliament's decision to waive mandatory counselling for women seeking an abortion. He says such counselling is a common requirement in other European countries and eliminating it would diminish the right to information.

The presidential vetoes announced Monday can be overturned by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. It was not immediately clear whether the bills' backers could muster that many votes.

Italians Protest to Urge Govt to Grant Gay Civil Unions

(AP) Tens of thousands of people demonstrated Saturday in nearly 100 cities across Italy to urge the government to permit gay and lesbian couples to have civil unions and legally recognized families.

Mirco Pierro, 39, rallied in front of the Pantheon in Rome with his partner and twin infants, saying he wanted "to defend the rights of our children, not just our rights." Pierro and his partner were married in Los Angeles but their union is not recognized in Italy and only one of them has parental rights.

"They are here. They exist, they are part of our families, and it is unfair that they do not have the same rights as other Italian children," he said. "This is the main reason that bring us here."

The gay rights group Arcigay estimated that 1 million people participated in the demonstrations, calling it "a historic day for our country."

The Italian government has pledged to pass legislation on civil unions for homosexual couples, along with measures allowing both parents, not just the biological parent, custody in a homosexual union. Campaigners say the lack of parental recognition causes problems on a daily basis for gay parents, from simple school permission forms to health care decisions.

Italy lags behind many of its European neighbors in conferring such rights due to strong opposition in this predominantly Roman Catholic nation. The opposition has submitted over 6,000 amendments to the proposed civil unions legislation in a bid to stop its passage. It is scheduled to be debated next Thursday in the Senate.

Police Arrest Anti-Gay Demonstrators in Senegal

(AP) The head of an anti-gay coalition says police have arrested 11 people in Senegal's capital during a demonstration against the release of 11 people accused of homosexual acts.

Abdoulaye Barro said Friday about 100 people from a 20-group anti-gay coalition staged the demonstration. He said police dispersed demonstrators and arrested some because the protest wasn't authorized.

Residents in Kaolack, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Dakar, say police arrested 11 people on Dec. 25 after they attended the celebration of a gay marriage. Protesters Friday called on the government to express outrage for their release some days earlier.

Homosexual acts are criminalized in at least 34 African countries, including Senegal, where they are punishable by up to five years prison and fines of up to $2,500.

Nintendo Nixes Controversial 'Gay Conversion' From New Game

(EDGE) Officials from Nintendo confirmed Wednesday they removed a plot line from a new video game that includes a "gay conversion," involving a male character who drugs a lesbian's drink and thinks it ostensibly changes her sexual orientation, technology news website Ars Technica reports.

The western version of "Fire Emblem: Fates," a 3DS role playing game originally released in Japan last year, will not have a scene where a male character spikes a lesbian character's drink with a magical potion.

"In the Japanese version, players are able to bond two characters together in battle, which can result in marriage," Ars Technica explains. "A gay female character, Soleil, is shown to have difficulty talking to other women, so a male protagonist secretly spikes her drink with a 'magic powder' to make women appear to as men, and men appear at women."

But once the magic wears off, Soleil is attracted to the male protagonist and proposes marriage, saying she fell in love with the female version of him but now loves him as a male. 

The scene drew criticism for the "magical" drugging as well as for the "gay conversion," the website reports.

After the apparent backlash, Nintendo officials decided to nix the plot and released a statement about the issue. 

"In the version of the game that ships in the US and Europe, there is no expression which might be considered as gay conversion or drugging that occurs between characters," Nintendo said in a statement to Nintendo World Report. 

Nintendo did not explain how it will change the scene, however, or if it will be completely removed. 


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