HHS PARTNERS WITH LGBT ORGS TO PROMOTE OPEN ENROLLMENT: Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced partnerships with key national organizations to support LGBT outreach and enrollment efforts during 2016 Open Enrollment. As part of LGBT Week of Action from Dec. 7 – 11, organizations will hold enrollment activities and provide in-person assistance across the country. Additionally, partners will leverage social media campaigns to ask their members and affiliates to sign up for an affordable health plan for 2016 through the Health Insurance Marketplace. “This Administration has made historic progress for the LGBT community, ensuring that people cannot be denied health coverage because of their gender identity, sexual orientation, or pre-existing conditions,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “We are proud to continue that progress and work with our national partners to give more LGBT Americans and their families access to quality, affordable health coverage.” More here: http://bit.ly/1XW9z3y

CDC: HIV INFECTION RATE GROWING AMONG YOUNG BLACK GAY AND BISEXUAL MEN: The latest numbers from the CDC, released earlier week show that while HIV infection rates have decreased nationwide by 19% over the last decade, there has been a staggering 87% rise in diagnoses among young black bisexual and gay men in the same time frame. The new data also reveals that HIV positive people in the South are nearly three times more likely to die from an HIV-related illness. Researchers attribute the rise to a number of factors including pervasive stigma around homosexuality in black communities and lack of access to healthcare and the drug PrEP which prevents HIV transmission. More here: http://bzfd.it/1lukjVR and here http://bit.ly/1QvOsz9

WHITE HOUSE SAYS LGBT SYRIAN REFUGEES ARE A PRIORITY: During Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Josh Earnest was pressed by reporters to clarify the administration's stance on LGBT refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war and ISIL. Earnest told reporters that while there is no quota for LGBT refugees, resettling the most vulnerable minorities is a priority of the administration. Earnest said, “the process that we have implemented does prioritize the cases of those who have been subjected to torture...or might have been singled out for their status as a minority, whether that’s a racial minority or an ethnic minority or a religious minority, or even somebody — an LGBT person.” More and more reports have documented the horrific abuse that LGBT people face under ISIL. In a particularly gruesome report, the Associated Press details the public execution of two gay men, who were thrown off buildings and stoned. More here: http://bit.ly/1QvOtTF

AM MUST-READ FROM NYT: The New York Times, in its groundbreaking series on transgender lives, asserted in an editorial today that the lack of trans-inclusive medical care and scarcity of specialized providers is “sobering,” and continues to take a “collective toll” on the transgender community and American society. The Times notes that the medical community has determined that transgender care--including hormone replacement therapy, counseling and surgical procedures--is “medically necessary, and should be covered by insurance,” but transgender Americans continue to face significant barriers to affordable medical care because of “exclusions in health insurance policies and a scarcity of specialized providers.” The editorial shares the distressing story of Our Lady J, a writer for the show “Transparent,” whose policy with the Writers Guild of America does not cover transition-related care. And it notes that though New York is among the states prohibiting insurance companies from denying transition care, the Times own insurance plan excludes gender affirmation surgery because, like the Writers Guild plan, it is self-funded and exempt from state policy. Read the editorial here: http://nyti.ms/1Y27aPo


SUIT FILED AGAINST MAGISTRATE RECUSAL LAW IN NC: Today, six North Carolinians have filed a federal lawsuit with the Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality NC and others, challenging the state’s law that allows local government officials to opt out of performing marriages. The law went into effect this past June following state Senate and House votes in favor of overriding Governor McCrory’s veto. The needless and mean-spirited law allows “magistrates, assistant registers of deeds, and deputy registers of deeds to recuse themselves from performing duties related to marriage ceremonies due to sincerely held religious objections.” According the Campaign for Southern Equality, the lawsuit today challenges the legality of the law under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Citizen-Times writes, “The advocacy groups behind the suit argue the bill allows magistrates who do not believe in marriage equality to renounce their judicial oath and place their personal beliefs above their sworn constitutional duty. They say its implementation has resulted in the unlawful spending of public money to accomplish an expressly religious goal.” More here: http://avlne.ws/1SO6xYx

INDIANA COUPLE SUES TO BE LISTED TOGETHER ON CHILDREN’S BIRTH CERTIFICATES: A legally married lesbian couple has filed a federal lawsuit against the Indiana State Department of Health for refusing to list them both as parents on the birth certificates of their children. Despite the historic ruling this summer, Indiana birth certificates do not recognize same-sex couples and treat marriage as though it is only between a man and a woman. An Arkansas Circuit Court Judge recently ruled in favor of a couple that filed a similar suit in that state. More here: http://indy.st/1HUKQFw and here http://bit.ly/1IEAoC4

INSPIRING! CHECK OUT THIS TRANSGENDER MUSIC CHORUS OUT OF BOSTON: The Associated Press has profiled the Butterfly Music Transgender Chorus out of Boston, one of the country’s first choirs reserved for transgender singers. They write, “Through the choir, its members are fighting an often overlooked problem in the transgender community. When they transition, many speak and sing in a higher register to sound more feminine, or deeper to sound masculine. Both can damage the vocal cords. But living with a voice that doesn't match their appearance can trigger deep depression.” Conductor and founder Sandi Hammond has created a space where members can find their voice as they transition, while inspiring others to form their own choirs all over the country. More here: http://on.mash.to/1IURAya


TORONTO SCHOOL BOARD RELEASES TRANS-INCLUSIVE GUIDELINES: The Toronto School District Board has released guidelines for schools regarding transgender and gender nonconforming students and staff, with the hopes of raising awareness and preventing bullying and harassment. The move came in response to a Toronto mother’s human rights application on behalf of her son who was targeted and bullying in the boys bathrooms at school. These guidelines are the first of their kind in the Ontario province and propose that schools develop resources for all-gender bathroom facilities; provide training to all families on the coverage of gender identity, gender expression and accommodation; and updating relevant school materials to ensure that gender identity and expression is included. More here: http://bit.ly/1NM5ROW and read the guidelines here: http://bit.ly/1OTaSsf


People Magazine takes an inside look at the fight for LGBT rights in Cameroon… and ThinkProgress gives a nice overview of where republican presidential candidates stand on LGBT issues and it’s not pretty.

Filed under: A.M. Equality, Community

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