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Our Voices

Overcoming Injustice: CeCe McDonald and Our Culture of Violence

This week, CeCe McDonald was released early after being unjustly sentenced to forty-one months in prison in May 2012 after pleading guilty to reduced second-degree murder for the death of Dean Schmitz, one of the people who attacked her. In June 2011, CeCe was the victim of a racist and transphobic hate crime while on her way to a grocery store. She was viciously attacked by a group of people, including Schmitz. In the resulting confrontation, Schmitz was fatally stabbed. Despite being the...

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A Dream Come True: Young LGBTQ Immigrants Need Not Fear Deportation For Being Brought to This Country as Children

Today, in a courageous and much needed policy shift, the Obama administration announced that it will stop all deportations of undocumented young people who were brought  to the United States  as children and have remained in the country for at least five continuous years, are under the age of 30, have either obtained a high school diploma or GED, or have served in our country’s military, and have no prior criminal history. This is the right thing to do, and will bring an end to the unfair,...

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New Obama Initiative for LGBTQ Prisoners

Today, the Obama administration announced new rules designed to launch a major offensive to help stop the epidemic of sexual violence in the nation’s prison system and youth detention system. The rules, released by the Department of Justice (DOJ), aim to “prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse in confinement facilities.” The new rules—and a new report from DOJ that was also released today—recognize that sexual violence is an especially urgent issue for LGBTQ youth in juvenile justice...

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A Key Step Forward in Maryland

By Liz Seaton NCLR State Policy Director Words cannot describe how I felt, sitting in the gallery at the Maryland State House as we won Governor Martin O’Malley’s Civil Marriage Equality Act by a vote of 72-67 on Friday.  Several of the lawyers were cloistered for a couple of days in preparation for what we thought would be dozens of hostile amendments, but in the end there were only about a half-dozen, and all were defeated, leading to the vote for final passage. We watched from the State...

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Update on Marriage Equality Fight in Maryland

By Liz Seaton NCLR State Policy Director Today I am back in Annapolis for the House of Delegates floor debate over the marriage equality bill in Maryland. A joint committee passed it two days ago, and now it’s on the floor. I’m there to help our champion legislators evaluate and deal with proposed amendments to the bill.  The Senate passed a marriage equality bill last year, so the House is where we expect the biggest challenge.  The papers here have been reporting that the vote is close,...

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In Annapolis Today, Where Governor O’Malley’s Marriage Bill Is Being Heard

By Liz Seaton NCLR State Policy Director I head over to Annapolis, MD today to testify in favor of marriage equality in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. A little history and perspective on Maryland, where I live, and our struggle here for the freedom marry. I first testified in favor of a marriage equality bill in the Maryland State House in 1999, when progressive state legislators introduced a proactive marriage bill to counter a proposed state DOMA bill. With losses on DOMAs in so...

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In Maryland, Lies Will Not Stop Passage of Laws To Protect Transgender People

By Liz Seaton NCLR State Policy Director All of us who have worked long and hard for equality under the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people know how strangely eager some people are to twist and distort the truth about us and our lives. Their ultimate goal? To dissuade public officials from passing laws to end discrimination.  I won’t even dignify the ugliest things they say by repeating them, but you know what I am talking about. Our opponents also make sweeping claims about...

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In Virginia, a Victory for Youth

By Liz Seaton NCLR State Policy Director Yesterday, the Virginia Board of Juvenile Justice voted 5-1 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in the juvenile correctional facilities over which it has broad oversight.  Eight percent of boys and 23 percent of girls in juvenile detention identify their sexuality as other than heterosexual, so this is an important step forward to protect their rights. This is the second time that the Board has voted this way over the advice of Virginia...

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Transgender Day of Remembrance: Honoring Lives Lost to Violence

By Jaan Williams This year has been one of the most violent in recent history for the transgender community. Washington, D.C., where I live, in particular has witnessed the murders of two transgender women and violent attacks against at least six more since July. The severity of these attacks, including two incidents where off-duty D.C. police officers assaulted transgender women, has finally prompted widespread media coverage of violence against the transgender community. This coverage, and...

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Supreme Court Rules on Title VII! Give now & Celebrate!