Kerry leads on immigration equality
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) led 11 colleagues in an April 6 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano urging immigration equality for legally married same-sex couples who are currently discriminated against under the Defense of Marriage Act.
“We applaud the President’s decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court,” the senators wrote. “With DOMA as law, however, we are creating a tier of second-class families in states that have authorized same-sex marriage. The same second-class status is imposed upon marriages between same-sex partners in which one spouse is not a U.S. citizen. We urge you to reconsider this position in light of the administration’s position that it will no longer defend DOMA in federal court.”
Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, a national organization that works to end discrimination in U.S. immigration law, has also called for a change.
LGBT Health, Part I
WASHINGTON, D.C. — National health think tank The Institute of Medicine issued a report March 31 detailing health disparities between LGBT and non-LGBT Americans and calling for substantially increased federal research into the medical concerns of LGBT people. The report, “The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding,” is meant to be a wake-up call for government researchers and policymakers who have resisted asking LGBT-specific questions in federal health surveys.
LGBT Health, Part II
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On April 1, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a number of steps it was recommending to President Barack Obama to improve the health and well-being of LGBT Americans.
The recommendations include prohibiting workplace bias on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for HHS programs and employees; increasing the number of federally-funded health surveys that collect sexual orientation and gender identity data; and promoting health profession training programs to include LGBT cultural competency curricula.
HHS will take additional steps, integrating an even stronger component focusing on LGBT youth in all anti-bullying initiatives, reducing the barriers encountered by prospective and current foster and adoptive parents who are LGBT, and requiring all organizations serving runaway and homeless youth to be equipped to serve LGBT youth.
Study: 9 million LGBT Americans
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Williams Institute, a leading think tank dedicated to the field of sexual orientation and gender identity-related law and public policy, has released new research that estimates the size of the LGBT community in the U.S. Drawing on information from four recent national and two state-level population-based surveys, the analyses suggest that there are more than 8 million American adults who are lesbian, gay or bisexual, comprising 3.5 percent of the adult population. There are also nearly 700,000 transgender individuals in the U.S. In total, the study suggests that approximately 9 million Americans — roughly the population of New Jersey — identify as LGBT.
Victory in Ark., Part I
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that a law prohibiting adoption by unmarried couples who live together violates the Arkansas Constitution. On Nov. 4, 2008, Arkansas voters approved a statutory ban on adoption and foster parenting by unmarried individuals cohabiting with a sexual partner. The April 7 ruling affirms a Pulaski County circuit judge decision that Initiated Act I of 2008 intrudes on privacy rights guaranteed by the Arkansas Constitution. The victory leaves Mississippi and Utah as the only states with adoption bans for unmarried couples, including same-sex couples.
Victory in Ark., Part II
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Advocates for LGBT youth and education praised Gov. Beebe’s April 1 signing of a comprehensive anti-bullying bill that enumerates personal characteristics often targeted for bullying, including race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill, which also requires educator training, had overwhelming support from legislators of all parties and passed unanimously in the state Senate. Arkansas is the 11th state to pass an enumerated anti-bullying law. The others that have such laws are California, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
British HIV rates up sharply
LONDON, U.K. — New Health Protection Agency figures show that HIV infections among gay and bisexual men in the U.K. have risen by 70 percent in the last decade. In 2001, 1,810 men who have sex with men were diagnosed with the disease. Last year, the number had risen to 3,080. It is estimated that there are 30,000 gay and bisexual men living with HIV in the U.K. today, although one-third of these are thought to be undiagnosed.