U.S. State Department alters website about passport gender markers

WASHINGTON — The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) today reported that the language for changing markers on passports has changed. They said that the policy remains unchanged. The U.S. State Department page regarding “Gender Designation” policies—in place since 2010—has been removed, and a new but similar page concerning what they now call “Sex Designation” has been put in its place with significant changes. However, the underlying policy remains unchanged. The NCTE said in a press release that these changes to the website are likely to cause confusion about the actual policy for changing gender markers.

LGBTQ orgs urge U.S. Senate to reject federal judge nominee

WASHINGTON — Lambda Legal and 18 other local, state and national LGBTQ organizations called for the U.S. Senate to reject Stephen Clark for the U.S. District Court for the District of Missouri. Sharon McGowan, Lambda Legal chief strategy officer and legal director, issued the following statement on Wednesday:
“The Trump-Pence Administration has put forth a nominee with a clear record of bias against LGBT people for a lifetime appointment to the federal court. Once again, the U.S. Senate stands poised to rubber-stamp the nomination. Clark is clearly at odds with the principles of equality and dignity under the law, particularly with regard to LGBT people. “Lambda Legal and our peer organizations will continue to urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject nominees whose bias threatens the fair administration of justice.

Court denies death penalty appeal of gay prisoner

ST. LOUIS — A divided three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to hear the appeal of Charles Rhines, a gay man on death row in South Dakota, on Friday. The appeal argued that Rhines should be allowed to present new evidence showing that antigay bias may have motivated the jury to sentence him to death. Six organizations, ncluding the American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, Lambda Legal, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and National LGBT Bar Association, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in August following the discovery of comments from jurors suggesting that sentencing Rhines to life in prison with other men would be “sending him where he wants to go,” according to a press release from the orgnizations. The brief provided information about the long and painful history of discrimination against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the United States and asked the court to issues a certificate of appealability to Rhines to allow him to present evidence of juror bias.

CDC: STDs rising with resistant strains emerging

NEW YORK — Infection rates for sexually transmitted diseases went up for the fourth in a row during 2017, Bloomberg reported on Monday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also told the news service that a new strain antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea could emerge. From Bloomberg:
“We are sliding backward,” Jonathan Mermin, director of the agency’s national STD center, said in a statement. “It is evident the systems that identify, treat and ultimately prevent STDs are strained to near-breaking point.”

Since 2013, syphilis cases have risen 76 percent to 30,644, while gonorrhea diagnoses have increased 67 percent to 555,608. Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD with almost 1.7 million cases in 2017, up from just over 1.4 million in 2013.

16 states ask SCOTUS to limit LGBTQ job protections

WASHINGTON — On Aug. 23, 16 states urged the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that companies can fire workers based on their sexual orientation and gender identity without violating federal workplace discrimination law. Bloomberg Law reported that the states, lead by Nebraska Attorney General David Bydalek, asked the justices to overturn an appeals court decision against a Michigan funeral home that fired a transgender worker. They claim that the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s Title VII on sex discrimination doesn’t include LGBTQ people. From Bloomberg Law:
“The States’ purpose is to note that ‘sex’ under the plain terms of Title VII does not mean anything other than biological status,” Bydalek wrote.

California steps up fight against ‘conversion therapy’

SACRAMENTO — California is stepping up its efforts to fight “conversion therapy,” Courthouse News reported last week. From Courthouse News:
The state Senate on Thursday cleared a proposal to list so-called conversion therapy as a fraudulent business practice, bringing it under the umbrella of state consumer-protection laws and opening the door for victims to sue practitioners. California outlawed conversion or reparative therapy for minors in 2012 but there is still a fringe market for adults. The current measure, Assembly Bill 2943 by Assemblyman Evan Low, makes it illegal to advertise practices claiming to “change an individual’s sexual orientation.”

Low, D-Cupertino, hopes the threat of a fine or lawsuit will encourage clinicians to forgo the controversial practice which has been discredited worldwide by medical and mental health organizations. “We as legislators have a responsibility to protect Californians from harmful and deceptive practices,” Low said after the floor vote.

LGBTQ adults still struggle to afford health care

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A study from Brown University reported this week that although LGBTQ adults are insured at the same rate as heterosexuals, they still avoid medical treatment because of cost. From MedicalXPress.com:
“I started looking at this question because I had read a few studies indicating that following the ACA’s implementation in 2014 and the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, there were comparable rates of uninsurance for LGB adults,” said Kevin Nguyen, lead author of the Aug. 6 study in the August issue of Health Affairs. “However, insurance is only one step in receiving care—I was curious to see if there were other differences in the access to care and health outcomes.” Nguyen is a doctoral student at the Brown University School of Public Health.

Vermont Democrat could be first transgender governor

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Christine Hallquist could be the first transgender governor in U.S. history if she wins election this November. Hallquist made history Tuesday night becoming the first major party candidate for statewide office. Other transgender people who have won nominations and offices have run for local and state district races. NPR reported that Hallquist, a former energy company executive, defeated three other candidates to win the Democratic nomination.

Colorado baker in court again for discriminating against transgender woman

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., on Tuesday filed another federal lawsuit claiming religious discrimination. Phillips was the plantiff in the Supreme Court ruling this year that said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had shown anti-religious bias in their ruling over Phillips refusing to make a wedding cake for a same sex couple. However, the Washington Post reported, the complaint wasn’t over a wedding cake. It was birthday cake for Autumn Scardina, a transgender woman who wanted to celebrate her birthday and anniversary of coming out as transgender.