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BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear marriage equality case of Michigan couple

At a conference today, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) agreed to hear the marriage equality case of April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse. The two women have adopted four children but are not able to adopt them together because they are not married thanks to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. The original suit was challenging Michigan’s adoption laws but a federal judge convinced the two to challenge the marriage ban itself. From SCOTUSblog:

Taking on a historic constitutional challenge with wide cultural impact, the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon agreed to hear four new cases on same-sex marriage.…
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Federal judge compels Michigan to recognize 300 same-sex couples married in March 2014

“What the state has joined together, it may not put asunder.”

Connie Greer and Diane VanDorn of Ann Arbor (formerly Dexter). Read about their story HERE.

In a huge rebuke to Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and anti-LGBT homophobes in Michigan, a federal judge today ruled that the state of Michigan must recognize the marriages of the nearly 300 same-sex couples that were married last March. (See our photoblog of that joyous day HERE.)

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith wrote:

The fundamental question in this case is whether officials of the State of Michigan are violating the United States Constitution by refusing to recognize the marital status of same-sex couples whose marriages were solemnized pursuant to Michigan marriage licenses issued in accordance with Michigan law in effect at the time of the marriages.…
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Republican Tim Walberg works to halt federal workplace protections for the LGBT community

This past summer, President Obama issued Executive Order 13672 which will add prohibitions against discrimination based sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracts. EO 13672 modifies previous Executive Order 11478 by substituting “sexual orientation, gender identity” for “sexual orientation” and Executive Order 11246 by substituting “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin” for “sex, or national origin”.

Last Friday, EO 13672 was published in the Federal Register as a final rule meaning that it will take effect in March 2015. Patricia Shiu, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs which is responsible for enforcement, had this to say about the new rule:

This rule will extend protections to millions of workers who are employed by or seek jobs with federal contractors and subcontractors, ensuring that sexual orientation and gender identity are never used as justification for workplace discrimination by those that profit from taxpayer dollars.…
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One more trans* person’s testimony legislators didn’t hear at last week’s ELCRA hearing

Since last week’s hearing on expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) to include the LGBT community, I have been sharing testimony prepared by members of the trans* community that were to be delivered at the State House Commerce Committee hearing. Since not enough time was alotted to hear these personal stories at the hearing, seven of them have been posted at the website and I am cross-posting several of them here at Eclectablog.

You can read the others HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Here is Zoe Steinfeld’s prepared remarks:

Thank you for letting me speak this morning, and thank you for holding this hearing on an inclusive amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.…
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Another trans* person’s testimony legislators didn’t hear at this week’s ELCRA hearing

Over the past two days, I have been sharing testimony prepared by members of the trans* community that were to be delivered at a State House Commerce Committee hearing on expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) to include the LGBT community. Unfortunately, not enough time was alotted to hear these personal stories. You can read them HERE and HERE.

Today you can read Amanda Niven’s testimony and I’ll have one more tomorrow. You can read all seven of them at the website.

Here is Amanda’s prepared testimony:

Amanda Niven

Good morning. My name is Amanda Niven. I am leading the Trans* Leadership Project, and I am a person that you may find confusing.

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MI House says adoption agencies can discriminate against LGBT couples

Taking the state backward. Again.

Every year, there are around 3,000 kids in Michigan who become eligible for adoption from foster care. The Michigan GOP would rather these kids stay in foster care than be adopted by loving gay or lesbian parents. In addition to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act Amy has been covering so well, the Michigan House yesterday passed a law giving adoption agencies permission to discriminate against gay or lesbian families in adoption (I’m sorry, allow adoption agencies to “object on moral or religious grounds”). This is even though they receive taxpayer dollars, and even if such an adoption would be in the best interest of the child. ...
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Michigan GOP kills expansion of LGBT civil rights and passes “license to discriminate” bill out of committee

Michigan’s Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger has been paying lip service to the LGBT community by saying that he supports expanding civil rights protects to them as long as it (a) doesn’t include transgender Michiganders and (b) is accompanied by a “license to discriminate” bill that allows anyone who wants to deny basic services to gays, lesbians, or bisexuals the ability to claim “sincerely-held religious beliefs” in order to do so.

Yesterday, a House committee essentially killed off any hopes of expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) to cover either LGB or LGBT people. Today, House Republicans moved forward with the “license to discriminate” bill anyway, voting along party lines to send it to the full House for a vote.…

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More testimony from the transgender community that wasn’t heard at yesterday’s ELCRA hearing

Yesterday, I wrote about how nobody from the LGBT community was given time to speak about their personal stories at the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act expansion legislation hearing. In that piece, I published the prepared testimony of trans activist and personal friend Amy Hunter from Kalamazoo.

Amy wasn’t the only one who had prepared to speak but was unable to because not enough time was alotted during the hearing. Six other folks were there to speak, as well. Their testimony wasn’t heard during the hearing but it is now available at the website.

The success of the LGBT community in changing the conversation in America about the issues they face, in making marriage equality a reality in a plurality of states, and in getting laws passed from the local level all the way up to the federal level has been largely due to story telling.…

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BREAKING: Speaker Jase Bolger says expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act will not happen during lame duck

Reliable sources in Lansing have informed me that expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act is dead in the water in 2014 and will not be voted on during the lame duck session. According to the source, Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger says neither version of the expansion bill – one that includes transgender Michiganders and one that doesn’t – will be passed out of the House Commerce committee.

The upshot of this as I said earlier today is that expansion of civil rights under the ELCRA will not happen for at least two years. The incoming legislative body is far more conservative than the current very conservative cohort, ensuring that no positive action will be taken.…

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BREAKING: Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act expansion hearing adjourns without hearing personal testimony from the LGBT community (updated x2)

This post has been updated as indicated

This morning, a hearing was held in Lansing to debate the expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. After hearing from members of the business community testifying in favor of the legislation, faith-based groups both in favor of and opposing adding civil rights protections for the LGBT community, the House Commerce Committee adjourned without taking a vote.

One group of people that did NOT give testimony at the hearing: the LGBT community itself. Transgender activist Amy Hunter was poised to give testimony but the hearing was concluded before she was called. “I am very disappointed that they did not allot enough time to hear from the group of people who are directly impacted by this bill,” she told me.…

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