Archbishop’s KKK remark condemned
CHICAGO, Ill. — Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Francis George ignited a firestorm when he compared advancing LGBT equality to the Ku Klux Klan in a television interview with Fox Chicago a few days before Christmas. Cardinal George said: “You don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.”
Rev. Eric Lee, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, spoke strongly against Cardinal George’s remarks: “I am insulted by the comparison of the Klan to the current LGBT movement. When we distort the history of terror for cheap political aims, we only inflict pain on those whose lives have been scarred by the Klan.”
Equality pioneer Lawrence has passed
HOUSTON, Texas — John Geddes Lawrence (pictured), a co-defendant in Lawrence v. Texas, the monumental 2003 legal case that ultimately overturned all U.S. sodomy laws, died Nov. 20 at home his partner revealed in late December. He was 68.
In 1998, Lawrence and Tyron Garner (another heroic man, who passed away in 2006) were arrested in Lawrence’s Houston home and jailed overnight after officers responding to a false report found the men having sex. They were convicted of violating a Texas state law that barred consensual sexual contact between people of the same sex.
Lambda Legal litigated the case through the Texas court system and eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a stunning victory, all state sodomy laws in the country were found unconstitutional. The decision established for the first time that gays and lesbians are entitled to fundamental liberty and privacy rights under the Constitution. Courts nationwide have cited Lawrence v. Texas more than 600 times to date, and this decision continues to shape the evolution of LGBT civil rights law.
CDC guidelines increase gay donors
ATLANTA, Ga. — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is updating guidelines for organ donation established in 1994 that will minimize the risk of transmission of HIV and viral hepatitis while maximizing the supply of organs available for transplantation from medically qualified donors. The current rules disqualify potential male donors who have had sex with a man within five years. Under the new policy the “look-back period” will be shortened to 12 months.
HIV health experts lauded the change but said it is still longer than medically necessary because current tests can detect HIV infections that occurred more than six months prior to donation.
National summit on LGBT elder housing
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Dec. 7, the National Center for Lesbian Rights co-hosted a day-long summit on LGBT elder housing issues with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This was the first-ever national event to address housing, health and long-term care issues for LGBT elders. More than 90 people registered for the event, and the list of attendees included three U.S. assistant secretaries.
The invite-only event brought together activists, academics, and government officials to discuss a broad range of issues affecting LGBT elders in housing, including discrimination in long-term care facilities, the economic impact on LGBT elder housing models, and how to ensure LGBT elder housing efforts are inclusive of transgender elders and elders of color.
HUD and HHS will use the information gathered to work with NCLR and other groups to develop new initiatives that will improve LGBT elders’ access to housing and health care.
HIV+ man alleges outrageous bias
DETROIT, Mich. — Lawyers for James White, a 26-year-old recently diagnosed with HIV, have called his case the worst example of alleged HIV-related job discrimination they have ever handled. According to White, who was an office assistant at Great Expressions Dental Center (part of a national chain), his superiors leaked news of his HIV-positive status to fellow coworkers, several of whom began spraying White with Lysol, prohibiting him from touching doorknobs, and wiping down office furniture and equipment after he used it. Finally, during a stint in the hospital to seek care for his HIV, Great Expressions allegedly called White and told him not to return to work.
The Detroit chapter of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has already determined that there was “reasonable cause” to believe White was discriminated against because of his HIV-status. However, at press time Great Expressions has continued to ignore the ruling made by the EEOC.
U.N. guidelines will aid refugees
GENEVA, Switzerland — Last month, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a first-ever report documenting human rights violations against LGBT and intersex individuals around the world. The report made special mention of vulnerable LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers.
As part of the document, the Office of the High Commissioner:
• Urges governments to recognize persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for refugee status, and calls for better training for asylum adjudicators and government officials to grasp the unique challenges faced by LGBTI refugees.
• Recognizes the extreme vulnerability to violence of LGBTI refugees both before they flee their homelands and during the refugee status determination and resettlement process. It also calls for a more consistent approach to safeguarding the human rights of LGBTI refugees.
• Asks governments not to return LGBTI refugees to countries they have fled where their freedom will be threatened because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
ORAM, the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration, an international non-governmental organization helping refugees fleeing sexual and gender-based violence, welcomed the report.