lgbtq rights
March 29, 2021

Transgender athletes are not a threat to women's sports, U.S. women's national soccer team star Megan Rapinoe wrote in an op-ed published Sunday by The Washington Post.

Rapinoe's piece was in response to a slew of proposed legislation in various states that would prevent transgender girls from competing in girls' and women's sports at the youth and collegiate level, which she called "some of the most intense political assaults on LGBTQ people in recent years." In Mississippi, for example, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) has already signed into law a bill that requires the state's schools to divide teams based on sex assigned at birth.

Many advocates for similar bills say they are necessary to protect the competitive integrity of girls' and women's sports because transgender girls have a biological advantage over their peers. But Rapinoe, an athlete at the highest level of her sport, dismissed that notion. "These bills are attempting to solve a problem that doesn't exist," she wrote. "Transgender kids want the opportunity to play sports for the same reason other kids do: to be a part of a team where they feel like they belong ... As a woman who has played sports my whole life, I know that the threats to women's and girls' sports are lack of funding, resources, and media coverage; sexual harassment; and unequal pay."

The movement, Rapinoe continued, is cloaked in a "false sense of fairness," while its proponents continue to ignore "the actual needs of women and girls." Read the full op-ed at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

February 25, 2021

The House voted on Thursday to pass the Equality Act, an LGBTQ rights bill that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

The bill passed with a 224-206 vote, with three Republican lawmakers joining all Democrats in supporting its passage. The Equality Act is essentially an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, writes CNN, noting it's intended to expand protections against discrimination in housing, employment, and various public spaces. The act previously passed the House in 2019, but was not taken up for a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Even now that Democrats narrowly control the Senate, the bill is likely to hit some roadblocks, reports Bloomberg. It will likely need 60 Senate votes to overcome a legislative filibuster, not a simple majority, and many Republicans say it infringes on religious freedoms. Though President Biden has said he would sign it into law, Bloomberg's Steven Dennis predicts it "will likely need amendments to win over 10 Senate Rs."

The lead-up to the bill's passage brought some tensions between lawmakers to the surface. The Washington Post reports that after the bill was debated, Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) hung a transgender pride flag outside her office, only for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to see it and hang a sign reading "There are TWO genders: Male & Female. Trust The Science!" in direct response to Newman, who has a transgender daughter. Many Democrats and some Republicans were quick to castigate Greene, who later argued the Equality Act "is about causing discrimination against women and religious freedom." Summer Meza

July 6, 2019

Botswana's government is seeking to overturn what was considered a major victory for LGBTQ rights in the country.

Botswana's high court unanimously overturned a colonial-era law criminalizing same-sex relations in June, but the government will appeal the ruling.

"I am of the view that the high court erred in arriving at this conclusion and, thus, I have decided to note an appeal with the court of appeal," Abraham Keetshabe, Botswana's attorney general, said in a statement, adding that he "thoroughly" read the 132-page-long judgment. He did not give any further details on the grounds for appeal.

The high court initially overturned the law because it violated privacy, liberty, and dignity, while serving no public interest. "Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalized," Judge Michael Elburu said at the time. "Sexual orientation is not a fashion statement. It is an important attribute of one's personality." Tim O'Donnell

May 24, 2019

After the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Friday that it would scrap an Obama-era policy that expressly forbade health care providers from discriminating against transgender patients, advocacy groups and lawmakers alike began criticizing the move as damaging to a vulnerable group of Americans.

The pending change reverts regulations back to prohibiting discrimination solely based on sex, not gender identity. "When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform," HHS Director of the Office for Civil Rights Roger Severino told The Washington Post.

Democrats who are running for president in 2020 wasted no time in decrying the Trump administration.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) pointed out another aspect of the HHS change: As Axios reports, the rolled-back nondiscrimination policy could also let adoption agencies reject same-sex couples, leaning on new religious exemptions.

The National Center for Transgender Equality has vowed to fight the proposed change — once the policy is rewritten it will surely face several legal challenges, something many 2020 Democrats suggested is necessary. Summer Meza

March 29, 2019

Google has removed an app promoting conversion therapy from its Play Store, following significant backlash from human rights groups and coming months after Apple and Amazon took the app away.

The app was from the group Living Hope Ministries, which promotes "committed, monogamous, heterosexual" relationships, per The Hill. It reportedly offered gay people help in "leaving" their sexuality.

The decision comes after the Human Rights Campaign dropped Google from its annual Corporate Equality Index, reports CNBC, which evaluates companies' support of LGBTQ employees. In a footnote, the report stated "Pending remedial steps by the company to address this app that can cause harm to the LGBTQ community, the CEI rating is suspended."

Google's decision follows the example set by tech giants Apple and Amazon, which removed the app in December. At the time of Apple's decision, a Change.org petition demanding removal of the app had gained 356 signatures, reports The Verge. A recent similar petition demanding Google take down the app gained over 140,000 signatures. Marianne Dodson

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