News Bites for September 16, 2015

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender news bites.


(SFGN) OUT magazine’s latest cover features Julianne Moore and Ellen Page, in advance of their new film “Freeheld,” which is based on a true story. Moore plays New Jersey police officer Laurel Hester, who had been a closeted lesbian in order to protect her job. When Hester is diagnosed with lung cancer, she begins the hard fight to have her pension benefits transferred to her partner, Stacie Andree, played by Page.

The article delves into the history behind the case, and also the dynamic between co-stars, out actress Ellen Page, and decidedly “gay-friendly” Moore. From the article:

“The Laurel Hester case was the turning point in our fight for marriage equality in New Jersey,” says Steven Goldstein.

Goldstein is the founder of Garden State Equality and helped launch the Hester case in the public spotlight, along the goal of legalizing same-sex marriage in New Jersey.

“In 2006, a few months after the case, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled for civil unions — just short of marriage equality. After that decision, I asked a source familiar with the New Jersey Supreme Court whether the court had been watching coverage of the Laurel Hester saga. The source said that without Laurel, they wouldn’t have decided for civil unions. In the beginning, both Laurel and Stacie resented that I viewed their situation as the big story that would capture New Jersey’s heart to help us win. I think they took it as my not caring about them. But I cared about them deeply. Of course I ‘used’ their case, if that’s how you want to put it. That’s how you win social justice.”

Find the full article at


Jim Obergefell does AMA on Pundit

(SFGN) Jim Obergefell, named plaintiff in the marriage equality ruling, participated in an Ask-Me-Anything interview on Pundit. ( Followers on Twitter and other social media submitted questions to Obergefell, who then recorded answers for the radio interview program.

Obergefell addresses the highs and lows resulting from the landmark SCOTUS decision, and where he feels the issue takes us now.

Here are some excerpts from the session:

From Gay News Radio:

What are your thoughts about @potus and how far he has moved the #LGBTQIA community forward, will history show?


I sincerely believe we would not be where we are when it comes to civil rights and equality if it weren’t for president Obama. His support of marriage equality, the policies he’s implemented and the causes he champions have made an enormous difference in our country and for our community…I also appreciate that president Obama is open to learning new things and changing his mind. We need leaders like that. Leaders who are not simply set in one belief and refuse to learn new things, meet new people, and allow those long held beliefs to be challenged. And I appreciate that about president Obama.

From John Frye

What would you say about those who said they wanted gay rights to be passed "state by state"?


I would simply reply that civil rights are not something that should be put up to a popular vote. It’s all too easy for a majority to trample on the civil rights of minorities and if we put this up to a state by state vote, that again puts us in the patchwork environment where someone’s married in one state but then they transfer or move to a different state and suddenly their marriage doesn’t exist. And that is untenable. It’s unfair it’s not right, and that’s what would have, and that’s what we had with the state by state approach.


NY Times Charles M. Blow on Sexual Fluidity

(SFGN) In his column on sexual fluidity, Charles M. Blow cited survey data from market research firm YouGov, The National Survey of Family Growth, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gallup polls on LGBT acceptability and comments from Miley Cyrus. – Blow says he finds the pop star’s remarks about her pansexuality “charming and revolutionary.”

In his 2014 memoir, “Fire Shut In My Bones,” Blow writes about his struggle with accepting his own bisexuality and “about the tremendous amount of agitation, and even hostility, that people — particularly men — so identified can engender.”

In the op-ed Blow says:

Attraction is simply more nuanced for more people than some of us want to admit, sometimes even to ourselves. That attraction may never manifest as physical intimacy, nor does it have to, but denying that it exists creates a false, naïve and ultimately destructive sense [of] what is normal and possible.

But it seems more younger people are liberating themselves from this thinking and coming to better understand and appreciate that people must have the freedom to be fluid if indeed they are, and that no one has the right to define or restrict the parameters of another person’s attractions, love or intimacy.

People must be allowed to be themselves, however they define themselves, and they owe the world no explanation of it or excuse for it. They have to be reminded that the only choices they need to make are to choose honesty and safety.

Attraction is attraction, and it doesn’t always wear a label.

Read the full article at


New Federal Rules Ban Trans Health Care Discrimination

(NCTE) the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced proposed rules to implement the non-discrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act, Section 1557. The law prohibits discrimination in many health facilities and insurance plans based on race, national origin, age, disability, and sex--including bias based on gender identity. These rules would make it illegal to categorically deny health care coverage related to gender transition, exclusions that still appear in the vast majority of private and public health insurance plans in the United States. Instead, plans must cover medically necessary medications, surgeries, and other treatments for gender dysphoria for transgender people if they cover similar services to non-transgender people with other medical conditions.

The proposed rules also make it clear that transgender people have equal rights in health care settings, including accessing facilities that match their gender identity, including hospital rooms and restrooms. “Newly articulated provisions in this proposed rule make clear that being turned away by a doctor or being thrown out of a hospital emergency room are clearly illegal,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).

The rules also make it clear that transgender people have access to sex-specific care and tests like breast or prostate exams, regardless of the sex listed on their health records. Finally, the proposed rule has several other important civil rights protections, including related to coverage for pregnancy, more clarity for people with disabilities, and for non-English speakers by ensuring that they are better able to communicate with their providers.

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