California: Vaccine Mandate.

Shutterstock.

Shutterstock.

With California’s strict vaccine mandate now in place, opponents are fighting to overturn the law in court.

The new law, which took effect Friday, bars parents from citing religion or other personal beliefs as reasons to not vaccinate their kids. SB 277 is one of the toughest mandatory vaccination laws in the country and drew many protesters when it was debated in Sacramento.

A group of parents and the nonprofit Education 4 All filed a suit Friday to overturn the law in U.S. District Court in San Diego. The suit claims that the law violates California children’s right to an education under the state’s constitution.

“SB 277 has made second-class citizens out of children who for very compelling reasons are not vaccinated according to the CDC schedule,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Robert T. Moxley, said in a statement. “We are hoping the court will grant us an injunction while the judicial process takes place to see if this law is constitutional, which it most certainly does not seem to be.”

[…]

About 80,000 California students claim personal belief exemptions for vaccines annually.

First, good for you, California! It’s about damn time this ‘religious belief / personal belief’ crap was tossed out. No surprise that anti-vaxxers are fighting this mandate, but on the basis of violating a child’s right to an education? How does that work, when it is a parent’s refusal to vaccinate which bars a child from a public school? Your child doesn’t go to school in a vacuum, there are a whole lot of other children and their health at stake, and no, you don’t get to count on all the other kids being vaccinated as an okay for your little snowflake to run about in a possibly contagious state. I’m not all that comfortable with home-schooled kids not being vaccinated, because again, those kids aren’t in a magic bubble, never coming into contact with others. I was vaccinated, but I got nailed by chickenpox anyway. It was much milder and shorter lived than it would have been minus the vaccination, and it was not at all fun. I just don’t understand how any parent would be willing to see their child with such an illness.

I was also gobsmacked by the 80,000 personal belief exemption claims. Seriously? I know, in the scheme of the total population it’s not all that much, but in terms of a potential epidemic, it’s a huge number. I don’t have any personal reason to be concerned about these diseases anymore, but I am glad I’m not in SoCal anymore, either.

Via Raw Story.

Anal Sex Ignorance.

12517960641912882309Man-and-woman-icon-alt.svg.medIgnorance isn’t good, and in this case, it’s spreading.

A recent study on heterosexual anal intercourse suggests that couples feel that it is a safe way to avoid HIV and other STIs. The study was  presented at the 2016 American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynocologists (ACOG) annual meeting by a team of physicians from the University of Washington in Seatle. One of the authors of the study, Dr. Lyndsey Benson, talked with Plus about the study, its results, and what it means.

The study, named Survey of Motivations for Anal Sex among Heterosexuals (SMASH), surveyed 5,000 American men and women aged 15-50 years old. The study began after a previous study by Benson highlighted “many knowledge gaps” in regards to what Americans knew about anal sex, including information about condom use, frequency of engaging in anal versus penis into vagina (PIV) sexual practices, and knowledge of HIV risks. Benson, the lead researcher, explained that this study was particularly important, as the majority (84 perccent) of new HIV cases in women can be “attributed to heterosexual contact.”

[…]

The researchers also discovered that a disconcerting number of Americans were engaging in hetero anal sex as a way to avoid sexually transmitted infections including HIV. More than 70 percent of adults in the study incorrectly believe that vaginal intercourse is higher risk than receptive anal intercourse. Among those that had anal sex, 10 percent reported they had done so as a form of contraception at least once.

The Advocate has the full story. This goes right back to Siobhan’s recent post about Canadian Blood Service’s new policies. Heterosexuals continue to be seen as low risk when it comes to blood donation, but gay men and transgender women are still being restricted and banned.

A Bloody Mess.

t9Following on the heels of the not-so-progressive Canadian update on gay blood donation (gay men are allowed to give blood only if they have abstained from sex for a year. There’s incentive. :eyeroll:), Canadian Blood Services has now targeted trans women from donating if they are pre-op and sexually active with men.

But many activists are upset with the policy because it focuses on whether or not a trans person has undergone gender confirming surgery.

Goldman says the criteria will create a countrywide, streamlined mandate for all trans blood donors.

According to Canadian Blood Services, there has been an increase in potential trans donors and this prompted the organization to implement criteria for those individuals.

The policy specifically targets trans women and is similar to Canadian Blood Services’ updated guidelines for gay blood donors. On June 20, Health Canada announced that gay men would be allowed to donate blood if they had abstained from sex for at least one year.

Trans women who undergo gender confirming surgery will have to wait one year before they can donate blood. After the wait period, Canadian Blood services will also identify them by their reconfirmed gender. “If a trans woman has not had [gender confirming surgery], that person would be considered as a male having sex with a male,” Goldman said.

Canadian Blood Services says there are regulations specific to trans women because that demographic is at high risk for HIV.

According to the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development, an estimated 27.7 per cent of trans women in Canada are living with HIV.

“There is a very high HIV prevalence rate in trans women,” Goldman said. “So we are obliged to treat (them) as a high risk group.”

No one wants to end up with a disease because they needed blood, but the CBS is raising the old spectre of the ‘gay plague’, and they’ve based policy on some shoddy research. [In the comments, Siobhan points out it’s considerably worse than shoddy reasearch: “Actually they did something even more impressively incorrect. They based their policy off research that directly contradicts their logic.”]  Siobhan at Against the Grain has an intensive breakdown of this new policy, and what it means. As for this nasty clod dropped in the pool:

“If a trans woman has not had [gender confirming surgery], that person would be considered as a male having sex with a male,” Goldman said.

I highly recommend Siobhan’s What trans people mean when we say “misgendering is violence”.

McCrory: Dying on Bigotry Hill.

Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) (nc.gov, Screengrab)

Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) (nc.gov, Screengrab)

he North Carolina state legislature is poised to transfer $500,000 from the state’s disaster relief fund to aid in the legal defense of HB2, the heavily-criticized law restricting restroom access, WRAL-TV reported.

“The governor asked for it,” said state Senate Budget Chair Harry Brown (R).

The funding was provided as part of a “technical corrections” bill added to another measure, House Bill 805, on Thursday, following the passage of the $22.34 billion state budget.

This, in the wake of a public statement by The Charlotte Hornets, who are not in favour of HB 2, but it seems there is simply no length to which McCrory is not willing to go to defend his bigotry. What happens if there’s a flood? Those have been happening in the area. What if there’s a fire or other disaster? The people of NC can simply go screw themselves, it seems. Full story here.

Also, North Carolina lawmakers adjourned for the year on Friday night after leaving mostly intact a law restricting transgender bathroom access that has drawn condemnation and jeopardized the state’s efforts to host the NBA All-Star Game, officials said. Full story here.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

The NBA and the Charlotte Hornets announced Thursday night that they will not support the proposed fix by North Carolina lawmakers to House Bill 2, the controversial law that forces transgender people to use public restrooms (in government buildings) that do not correspond with their gender identity.

“We have been engaged in dialogue with numerous groups at the city and state levels, but we do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature,” the organizations stated in a press release. “We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all. We continue to believe that constructive engagement with all sides is the right path forward.”

The legislation, forced through during an emergency session of the state’s Congress, was introduced, debated, and passed in a single day. Signed into law March 23, HB 2 has been widely criticized — with over 160 businesses threatening to boycott the state if the bill is not repealed.

North Carolina Republicans had hoped that a compromise bill would quell the backlash. The version of the bill obtained by Charlotte TV station WBTV allows transgender residents to use the public restroom that most closely corresponds with their gender identity as long as they are able to “prove” their gender. Trans people can do so, according to the bill, by furnishing a “certificate of sex reassignment,” one notarized by the physician who performed the surgery. Many transgender people, however, do not have or desire surgery.

In addition, the draft of the bill sent to legislators Wednesday clarified the penalties for using the opposite-sex facilities. “Language in the latest draft of the bill would make it a Class 2 misdemeanor — one level higher than the normal penalty for trespassing — to trespass in a multiple-occupancy bathroom or changing facility,” reports WBTV.

This goes on, as McCrory and his fellow bigots insist on finding some way to legislate open bigotry. What is the final cost of this going to be for the people of North Carolina?

Full story here.

GAG

gag

Sunday’s NYC Pride parade will include an important new contingent of marchers. Hundreds of people will march in a group called Gays Against Guns (GAG), formed in the wake of the June 12 Orlando massacre. The parade begins this Sunday at noon starting at 36th street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

From organizers:

About 150 people showed up for GAG’s first organizational meeting at the LGBT Community Center on Friday, June 17, to organize the group’s presence at the March. In attendance was openly gay City Councilmember Corey Johnson, who invited GAG to join his March contingent. “Gays Against Guns is taking this fight to the NRA’s front door,” said Johnson. “Our community has been fighting for gun control as part of other organizations for many years, now we’re starting our own. The LGBT community has vanquished bigger enemies than the NRA.”

Said Kevin Hertzog, who started the group with Brian Worth, “We know that several groups have been fighting gun violence in the U.S. for decades now. We’ll be meeting after Pride to hash out positions and a strategy approaching the November 2 elections. But for now, we want to present as large a crowd as possible on Sunday, to show New York and the U.S. that LGBTQ people are outraged. The current situation with guns in America makes us gag in disgust!”

[…]

Follow them on Facebook at “Gays Against Guns NY” or @GAGnoguns on Twitter.

(Staging area is 35th street between Fifth and Madison, Section 0, Group 33, from about 11am.)

Full Story is at Towle Road.

Bees Gain Congressional Allies.

Shutterstock.

Shutterstock.

Pollinators are under huge amounts of stress, struggling to survive as habitats are destroyed, systemic pesticides are applied to crops, and climate change throws off once-reliable weather patterns. Now, a new bill hopes to give these essential insects and animals a boost.

The bill, introduced Thursday by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), would increase funding and improve cooperation among federal agencies that are working on getting pollinator numbers back up. If signed into law, the bill would set a goal for the USDA and other agencies of conserving, restoring, or enhancing 3 million acres of forage habitat — i.e. fields of flowering plants and shrubs — a step towards the goal of 7 million acres of pollinator habitat set by the White House in 2014. It would also create more financial incentives for farmers to plant bee-friendly plants — including wildflowers, sunflowers, buckwheat, and native grasses — and using natural predators, instead of pesticides, to ward off pests. And it would create grant opportunities to fund programs that monitor pollinator health and numbers.

“It’s easy to forget about the critical role pollinators play in our food systems,” Merkley said in a statement. “But if we’re not careful, we will only realize their importance when it’s too late and our agricultural industry has been decimated by their disappearance. Let’s take action now instead.”

Merkley is right: Pollinators play an essential part in getting food on the plates of Americans — and people around the world. According to a report released earlier this year, 75 percent of global food crops depend on pollination, and $235–$577 billion worth of these crops are affected by pollinators every year. Some crops depend on highly specialized pollinators, and would cease to exist without them: The chocolate midge, for instance, is the only insect that can pollinate the cacao plant.

[…]

This week in particular — dubbed National Pollinator Week by the USDA and Department of Interior — has been a major one for pollinator activists. On Wednesday, Minnesota beekeeper James Cook parked a truck full of millions of dead bees outside of the Environmental Protection Agency, a stop that marked the end of the bus’s country-wide tour. He and other activists also delivered a 4-million-signature petition to the EPA, urging the agency to ban neonicotinoids and other bee-harming pesticides.

Protesters rally outside the EPA on Wednesday, June 22, 2016.

Protesters rally outside the EPA on Wednesday, June 22, 2016. CREDIT: courtesy of Friends of the Earth.

The Keep the Hives Alive tour truck arrives at the EPA, carrying millions of dead bees. CREDIT: courtesy of Friends of the Earth

The Keep the Hives Alive tour truck arrives at the EPA, carrying millions of dead bees. CREDIT: courtesy of Friends of the Earth.

“We are, I think, uniquely in the history of the human species blind and deaf to signals that nature is giving us that things are going haywire,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said at a briefing on pollinators Wednesday, where a shortened version of the movie was shown. “We need to learn to pay attention.”

We best stop being blind to this particular problem, or we’re all going to smack right into the “hey, there’s no food!” wall. Full story at Think Progress.

Grateful Dead Tribute Album Could Break HIV Fundraising Records.

day-of-the-dead-x750_1

Day of the Dead, is a love letter to the Grateful Dead, curated by The National rockers Aaron and Bryce Dessner. A tribute to the eclectic and iconic band from the era of psychedelic music, the album took four years to collect and compile.

Featuring over sixty artists from a variety of musical backgrounds, (including Mumford & Sons, Wilco, Courtney Barnett, and The National) the set reinterprets the songs and sounds of the Dead for a whole new generation.

A project of Red Hot, the international organization dedicated to fighting HIV  through pop culture, Day of the Dead,  is expected to break the organization’s previous fundraising records.

The 5-hour, 59-track album features artists from Mumford & Sons to Wilco, and Courtney Barnett to The National. Full Story Here.

Where to Walk.

laorlandolgbtcenter

Facebook Los Angeles LGBT Center

The deadly attack in Orlando happened just has Pride Month was kicking into high gear across the nation.

In LA, the scare did not deter people from gathering at gay bars such as Akbar in Silverlake, which was filled to capacity on Sunday night, with revelers looking for comfort amongst friends.

Sunday also saw vigils springing up across the nation and several world countries, with more to come today and throughout the week.

If you go to weareorlando.org, you will find a list of events which have been scheduled, across the States, and around the world. You’ll find yourself scrolling down, and down, and down. The outpouring of love and strength is immense. Even though no one from ND entered local vigils at the site, there were two vigils in Fargo and Moorehead, and one vigil already observed in SD, with two more planned. If you can make one in your area, please do. Every person who shows makes a difference, demonstrates that we will stand strong, we will continue to fight, that our very existence is resistance.

Via Out.

World Blood Day, Oh the Irony.

world-blood-donor-dayx750

Happy World Blood Donor Day! (You Still Can’t Donate).

While the husbands of men wounded in Sunday’s Orlando nightclub shooting are crying and praying, they can’t easily offer their spouses the one thing so many others can: their blood.

Defying federal policy, Patty Sheehan — Orlando’s lesbian city commissioner — announced after the shooting that she was recommending the city temporarily lift the Food and Drug Administration-mandated ban on blood donated from sexually-active gay and bisexual men. In response, Orlando hospitals appear to be welcoming donations from all queer men and transgender women — also included in the FDA ban — but it’s still murky whether the federal government will crack down on Sheehan’s directive and blood will actually get to the injured.

The Orlando massacre, in a grim coincidence, came two days before the World Health Organization’s World Blood Donor Day, observed today. While the mass shooting, the nation’s worst, briefly brought the FDA’s discriminatory policy to the world’s attention, it was quickly forgotten in the barrage of news updates about the Orlando killer and his victims.

[…]

The current prohibition has been in place since December, when the FDA amended its ban, so now instead of barring any male donors who had sex with men since 1977, the new rules turn away those who haven’t had gay sex in 12 months. For many, that’s still an outright ban on any gay or bisexual man, no matter the semantics.

[…]

GMHC and FCB Health joined together to launch a campaign called the Blood Equality campaign, which will plaster cities with posters that read, “My blood is type O, not type homo” and “My blood is type A, not type gay.”

Democratic legislators like Mike Quigley of Illinois, Barbara Lee of California, and out Wisconsin senator Tammy Baldwin also want the FDA to reconsider the ban, which the agency considers imperative to keeping the nation’s blood supply free of HIV. The three politicians disagree with the FDA’s assertion and jointly released the following statement late on Monday:

“The resiliency of the American people is always magnified after a tragedy, and we are witnessing that compassion as Floridians rally around the people of Orlando, and the local LGBT community, by lining up to donate much needed blood after Sunday’s horrific shooting at Pulse nightclub. However, we find it unacceptable that gay and bisexual men are banned from donating desperately needed blood in response to this tragedy. Blood donations are needed now more than ever, yet gay and bisexual men remain unable to donate blood due to an outdated and discriminatory FDA rule. For years, we have worked through both authorizing and appropriations committees to overturn the FDA’s donor referral policy for men who have sex with men. We’ve made progress; this past year, the FDA reversed a lifetime ban to a 12-month deferral policy. But this revision does not go far enough in ending an outdated policy that is medically and scientifically unwarranted and that perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes. Tragedies like the one we witnessed in the early morning hours on Sunday show how crucial it is for FDA to develop better blood donor policies that are based on science and on individual risk factors; that don’t unfairly single out one group of individuals; and that allow all healthy Americans to donate. Given the enormous response by the citizens of Orlando, including members of the LGBT community, to donate blood to help heal their community, the FDA should lift this prejudicial ban once and for all.”

Nations like Spain have ended blanket deferrals for gay and bisexual men, instead considering the sexual behavior of individuals when deciding who qualifies as a donor.

Full Story Here.

LGBT Movement Is Like Taliban, ‘Jeopardizes Freedom’

North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop.

North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop.

The Charlotte Business Journal received 152 emails of Rep. Dan Bishop, the architect of North Carolina’s HB 2.

The architect of the state’s controversial law to stop cities from extending non-discrimination protection to gay and transgender people insists no amount of protests and pressure could convince him to back down or soften his stance. And, when that architect — Rep. Dan Bishopisn’t debating the merits of the law known as House Bill 2 with constituents and critics, he is championing and celebrating those who support the measure.

“I don’t fear man. I fear God. So I won’t be backing down,” Bishop (R-Mecklenburg) stated in a message he sent to a Charlotte man who implored the lawmaker not to allow persistent opposition to the law to lead to concessions.

[…]

In the same email, Bishop described the pressure from critics as “brutal” and added, “I stepped in front of the train quite deliberately, but the beating is every bit as bad as I expected, and then some. I need the Lord’s help and your prayers.”

[…]

Bishop and fellow Republican lawmaker Rucho took umbrage when Charlotte real estate broker Rob Cochran criticized them as well as McCrory, Senate President Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore for passing HB 2.

[…]

Bishop and Rucho, in separate emails, rejected Cochran’s concerns.

“It is time for the business community to stand up and grow a back bone for what is a common sense bill,” Rucho responded.

“Stop being intimidated and extorted by the political correct police because there is no telling where this ends and the damage to our state and country. The large corporations are more concerned about offending the left wing extremists, their reputation and profits then (sic) they are about the rights of millions of woman (sic) and children. I have spent my entire elected career being a strong business advocate but after hearing the weak kneed moaning of business community, I think Bernie Sanders’s anti business philosophy has merit and your greed is despicable.”

Added Bishop: “Business skittishness is entirely the result of false media reports and activist grip on big corporations.”

[…]

A thank-you from a constituent instructed Bishop and his allies not to “cave in to the Politically Correct Taliban! Y’all should have all of the sane states to coordinate and pass these bills on the same day so one state does not have to stand up to these pompous asses alone.”

In reply, Bishop wrote, “I LOVE that idea. Taliban. Love that too. Not giving up. Ever.” A separate exchange with another supporter included a declaration by the lawmaker that “the LGBT movement jeopardizes freedom.”

Charlotte Business Journal has the full story.

Suited.

Credit: Benedict Evans.

Credit: Benedict Evans.

Tailors Rae Tutera and Daniel Friedman show off their suits for transgender clients in a new documentary, Suited.

The Girls creator and star produced an HBO documentary chronicling the rise of the duo’s store, Bindle & Keep. Directed by Jason Benjamin, the film premieres June 20.

The film follows the stories of clients, many of whom are transgender, as they come into the shop to find a perfect outfit.

“They all have fascinating lives and do really interesting things. Their gender and their gender presentation is just really the tip of the iceberg of who they are,” said Dunham in an interview with W magazine.

For their Sundance premiere, the entire crew, including Dunham, wore suits made by the Brooklyn company.

“I just felt strong and beautiful and powerful, which was really cool and unexpected,” said Dunham.

Via Out. Bindle & Keep.

Dirty Fit: Positive Pedalers.

Jamil Eric Wilkins.

Jamil Eric Wilkins.

“I bike to stay ahead of my condition. I want to be an example that we can thrive with HIV and live a happy and healthy life.” — Jamil Eric Wilkins.

Andrew Wilson.

Andrew Wilson.

“Don’t let the words of others influence what you believe or the way you dress.” — Andrew Wilson

Thousands of cyclists and volunteer “roadies” on a 545-mile journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles will partake in “Red Dress Day,” an over-the-top and fun  AIDS/LifeCycle tradition where cyclists wear a red dress, representing a red AIDS-awareness ribbon, on wheels.

Continuing this mission to reduce new HIV infections and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV or AIDS, YouTuber Davey Wavey has partnered with Positive Pedalers on the photo campaign, END STIGMA, to show that HIV-positive people are thriving with a positive status, not despite it. Comprised of repurposed bike parts and fabulous red costume, the images expand upon what “Red Dress Day” means for the riders on this inspiring and challenging ride through Callifornia.

“During my first ride, I noticed the big plus symbol on the PosPed’s jerseys and their tagline, Eliminating stigma through our positive public example,” said Wavey. “I was moved and impressed. Instead of surrendering to shame and stigma and hiding, these brave individuals are loudly saying, ‘Here I am!’ And showing the world that they’re not just surviving, but thriving.”

The Positive Pedalers (from left): CB Kirby, Andrew Wilson, Jamil Eric Wilkins, Larry Bryant, and Will Harrell.

The Positive Pedalers (from left): CB Kirby, Andrew Wilson, Jamil Eric Wilkins, Larry Bryant, and Will Harrell.

Full-frontal Fabulousness!

Save 10% with discount code “red” at http://www.dirtyfitapparel.com
The Positive Pedalers: http://www.pospeds.org
Super special thank you to PosPeds member Blake Strasser for connecting DirtyFit with the incredible riders and supporters from BRAKING AIDS® Ride that modeled for this campaign.

Via Plus.

Strong Reactions.

Ellie, left, who is transgender, hugs her brother Ronnie. (Courtesy Ford family)

Ellie, left, who is transgender, hugs her brother Ronnie. (Courtesy Ford family)

Ron and Vanessa Ford are the parents of a 5-year-old transgender child, and they recently wrote for The Washington Post about why they appreciate and support the Obama administration’s directive to schools on accommodating transgender students.

[…]

For the Fords, the debate about bathroom access is really a debate about discrimination, and about whether the government will or will not sanction discrimination against their child.

“We are an interracial couple,” they wrote. “Fifty years ago, in many places across the country, it would have been legal to discriminate against us because, many people said, a fundamental part of who we are was somehow offensive and perverse. Our daughter is transgender. In many places across the country, it is legal to discriminate against her because, many people say, a fundamental part of who she is somehow offensive and perverse.”

We asked readers to weigh in on how the bathroom debate compares to earlier civil rights debates. There were many responses, representing the wide range of views and strong feelings that have characterized the discussion about transgender rights in America.

It was good to see mostly support from readers, but it wasn’t just support. I dislike reading the non-supportive contributions, but I think it’s important to keep a current insight into how people are not only viewing certain issues, but how they are viewing people. It seems to me that in such views, beyond all the regular reasons for being anti and upset, there’s a distinct current of “no, not human”. This is othering, but it’s taking on an ugly extremism, with people even citing the violence directed at transgender people as a reason to refuse gender dysphoria being real, and gender affirmation as being absolutely wrong. Then there are those who are not concerned with actual people at all, just upset at what they see as co-opting the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s.

[Read more…]