Study: Couples need immigration relief

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A new Williams Institute study released Nov. 18 finds there are more than 28,500 binational same-sex couples in which one partner is a U.S. citizen and one is not and nearly 11,500 same-sex couples in which neither partner is a U.S. citizen. Under U.S. immigration policy, a citizen may obtain permanent residence for their non-citizen, different-sex spouse and expedited citizenship for a resident, different-sex spouse. Permanent residents may also petition for permanent resident status for their different-sex spouses. However, these options are not extended to same-sex couples, even if they are married or are in civil unions or registered domestic partnerships.

The study uses data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) to provide a demographic profile of the 79,200 same-sex couples in the U.S. in which at least one partner is either not a U.S citizen or is a naturalized citizen. The report breaks this population into three groups and finds there are an estimated 28,574 binational same-sex couples, 11,442 dual non-citizen same-sex couples and 39,176 dual citizen same-sex couples with at least one naturalized partner.

New patient care guide issued

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Joint Commission, the nation’s largest accrediting organization for healthcare facilities, has issued a new field guide on LGBT patient-centered care that calls on U.S. hospitals to create a more welcoming, safe and inclusive environment for LGBT patients and their families.

“We applaud The Joint Commission’s work to advance LGBT healthcare equality through its accreditation standards and now this new field guide on LGBT patient-centered care,” said Human Right Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Too often members of the LGBT community face discrimination while accessing healthcare or avoid seeking healthcare altogether. Every hospital in the U.S. should take advantage of the resources available in this guide and ensure that LGBT patients and families get the care they deserve.”

The Joint Commission is responsible for accrediting and certifying more than 19,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the U.S. The field guide is available for download at jointcommission.org/lgbt.

White House talks anti-trans violence

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Nov. 16, transgender and LGBT anti-violence advocates met with Obama Administration officials to offer strategies for addressing the epidemic of violence against transgender people. Recognizing that violence is a horrific reality in so many transgender people’s lives, the Administration heard a broad range of policy ideas from the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and eight other organizations.

The meeting at the White House was facilitated by NCTE’s Executive Director Mara Keisling and included, among others, Gwendolyn Smith, the founder of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, who shared real life stories of transgender people who have faced violence. Meeting topics included crime data collection, cultural competency for law enforcement and funding issues, as well as insuring that federal and federally-funded anti-violence programs and processes are transgender-inclusive. Special focus was given to violence against youth, homeless trans people and trans women.

Keisling stated, “So many kinds of violence are epidemic for transgender people: hate violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, school bullying and violence by police. … Meeting with the White House at all, especially the week prior to Transgender Day of Remembrance, says a lot about the President’s commitment to making America safer and better for transgender people.”

GSAs yield long-term benefits

SAN FRANCISCO, Calf. — New research shows that LGBT youth who attend middle or high schools with Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) have better mental health as young adults, are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to attend college. The study, High School Gay–Straight Alliances (GSAs) and Young Adult Well-Being, is the first to show that GSA participation produces long-term benefits.

The study also reveals that the benefits of GSAs diminish as levels of LGBT school victimization increase; that is, the protective nature of GSAs is not enough to overcome the negative impact of LGBT victimization on young adult mental health. Thus, the authors document that GSAs cannot be proposed as the sole solution for creating safer school climates for LGBT youth.

Instead, schools need to implement other efforts to reduce anti-LGBT bias in schools in combination with the formation of GSAs, such as enumerated anti-harassment and non-discrimination policies, teacher training on how to intervene in school harassment related to sexual orientation and gender expression and an LGBT-inclusive curriculum.

Trans anti-bias bill enacted

BOSTON, Mass. — On Nov. 16, the Massachusetts Legislature passed the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, adding protections based on gender identity and expression to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. The bill prohibits bias in employment, housing, education and credit, but protections in public accommodations were stripped from the final version of the measure. Gov. Deval Patrick has been a leader in the fight for transgender protections so his signature for the bill was never in doubt.

“The Massachusetts legislature today recognized that transgender residents should be treated equally and protected under the law,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese following the vote. “The Transgender Equal Rights Bill has languished for years, but today the Legislature sent a clear message of fairness and equality.”

However, Solmonese added that LGBT rights advocates will continue to press for public accommodations protections for transgender people.

Effort targets “ex-gay” torture clinics

QUITO, Ecuador — More than 80,000 people in over 124 countries have signed onto a Change.org campaign calling on Ecuador’s Minister of Health, Dr. David Chirboga Allnut, to investigate and close more than 200 “ex-gay clinics” in the country that allegedly use torture techniques to turn homosexuals straight.

Fundacion Causana, Taller de Comunicacion Mujer, and Artikulacion Esporadika, a coalition of leading Ecuadorian women’s rights activists, initiated the effort after working with females who have escaped what they call “torture clinics.” Many of these women cite widespread physical and psychological abuse including verbal threats, shackling, days without food or water, sexual abuse and physical torture.

“The Ecuadorian government must stop turning a blind eye and wake up to the horrific reality of these lesbian torture clinics,” said Karen Barba, director of Fundacion Causana. “The perpetrators of these clinics are not only getting away with obscene human rights abuses, they are actually profiting off them,” Barba continued. “We are inspired to see over 80,000 people support the campaign on Change.org and we will not stop until each and every clinic has been closed.”

David Stout

David Stout is the associate editor of QNotes. He can be reached at editor2@goqnotes.com.