Tag Archives: LGBTQ rights

Tegan Quin Talks LGBTQ Rights And US Politics

Tegan Quin – of Canadian pop duo Tegan And Sara – has spoken out about the political division of politics in America, and the fight to keep people engaged despite their ‘exhaustion’.

Talking to NME, the singer discussed the shifting mood she’d noticed among the population while touring America in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency.

I think there is general unrest and division, for sure. There is no doubt that there is palpable anxiety around health care and immigration. I think the average person is absolutely wondering about some of the issues the media fixates on (Russia, jobs, healthcare). Certainly I think people are still engaged in general. But,  I think people are exhausted and the noise of it all is making people turn off. Which is dangerous. Wear people down to the point where they stop paying attention. That’s scary. So. I don’t really know the answer.”

Quin continued:

I think people are divided. There is unrest. I think people are engaged, but exhausted. I think the media is definitely trying it’s best (in some cases) but … even good media feels like click bait. And I believe a lot of people have just returned to their normal lives and aren’t yet experiencing anything “bad” or any “changes” so they don’t care. So. I guess your TV might be reflecting back a small portion of the populations day to day, but the average person is just…back to their lives?”

Asked if the current political landscape might inspire them musically, she replied:

I think for me music is and has been an escape. So, I don’t know if I were sitting down to write a record today if I would write about the “dystopian nightmare” but, I do think my emotions and feelings around life, relationships, love, the future are coloured by the “dystopian nightmare” so in theory I would kind of be writing about it even if I weren’t actually writing about it… As for what music should or should not be for — I think every artist has to define that for themselves. You should write what you know, what you are moved by and inspired by. And that doesn’t always have to be reality or current affairs.  So I think in times like this we get both. Reality and escape. Which is good. Balance is good.”

Quin did state however, that the current political situation had inspired the pair to step up their activism for the LGBTQ community.

We started a foundation to fight for LGBTQ women and girls, The Tegan and Sara Foundation. And we are working closely with social justice organisations and political organisations to ensure we are giving back to our community but also using our platform to elevate important causes and ideas.

We are very motivated right now to do more than just tweet. We want to inspire people to action. So. As an artist I feel like I want to continue to play live to give people an escape and a place to feel connected and see their community.”

Young Americans ‘Overwhelmingly’ Favour LGBTQ Rights, New Poll Says

According to a new survey, young America’s are overwhelmingly in favour of LGBTQ rights when it comes to policies on employment, health care and adoption.

The GenForward survey of Americans ages 18-30 found that support for those policies have increased over the past two years, especially among young whites.

According to the findings, 92% of young adults support HIV and AIDs prevention, 90% support equal employment, and 80% support LGBTQ adoption.

Across racial and ethnic groups, broad majorities support training police on transgender issues, government support for organisations for LGBTQ youth and insurance coverage for transgender health issues.

Christie Cocklin, 27, a self-identified multiracial American from Providence, Rhode Island, says that LGBTQ rights are just common sense.

People who don’t identify as heterosexual are human like we are, and should be entitled to the same kind of rights. I have friends who are LGBT and I feel that it’s discrimination to not allow them adoption or employment or whatever.”

While young Americans favoured LGBTQ rights on every issue in the poll, only 6%, including fewer than 1 in 10 across racial and ethnic backgrounds, consider the LGBT rights one of the top issues facing the country.

Among those who self-identified as LGBTQ, 17% said it is one of the country’s top issues.

The poll of 1,940 adults age 18-30 was conducted July 9-20 using a sample drawn from the probability-based GenForward panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. young adult population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

The survey was paid for by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago using grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

In Show Of Unity, North American Leaders Push For LGBTQ Rights

Canada, the United States and Mexico are expected to pledge to do more to protect LGBTQ rights both in North America and abroad.

According to the Torstar News Service, senior Canadian sources (unable to speak on the record while negotiations are continuing) say the three countries are working to include a call for greater protection for LGBTQ rights in the three leaders’ joint statement.

The push comes after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, when a gunman murdered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando earlier this month.

It also comes as Mexican President, Enrique Peno Nieto, moves forward with legislation to legalize same-sex marriage across his country.

Recognizing LGBTQ rights has been a “significant” conversation with the Mexican delegation, sources told Torstar.

Another source said the issue was discussed both officially, as well as on the margins of a state dinner thrown for Pena Nieto at Rideau Hall Tuesday night.

The Mexican delegation was not immediately available for comment.

Speaking on the International Day Against Homophobia in May, Pena Nieto said he wants to amend the constitution to allow-same sex marriage nation-wide.

Some jurisdictions in Mexico, including Mexico City, already have equal marriage rights.

The initiative has been opposed by Mexico’s Catholic church. Rev. Hugo Valdemar, a spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico City, told the Associated Press in May that legislators should listen to their “conscience.”

The Mexican president has also faced pressure on his four-day visit to Canada over his country’s human rights record.

Amnesty International has urged Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to raise human rights issues, particularly violence against women, in bilateral talks with Pena Nieto.

Trudeau is set to become the first Canadian prime minister to march in Toronto’s Pride parade this weekend.

Early in their mandate, his government made a few gestures towards Canada’s LGBTQ community, including raising the Pride flag on Parliament Hill, and they introduced legislation to extend human rights protections for transgender Canadians.

President Barack Obama has also earned praise from rights advocates. Over the course of his presidency, Obama oversaw the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on service by gays and lesbians in the military, appointed a number of LGBTQ judges and ambassadors, and extended hate crime laws, according to advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

Universities And Schools In America Seeking LGBT Rights Exemptions Will Now Be Named

After some schools and universities in America sought specifically for an Education Act exemptions, so that they can continue discriminating against LGBTs, the federal government has announced that it will publish details of each exemption online in a move to hopefully create greater transparency.

Late last year it emerged that a number of colleges and universities that receive federal funds have applied for and obtained permission from the federal government in order to obtain exceptions to Title IX of the Education Act. The law, which came into force in 1972, means that schools using taxpayer money cannot engage in sex-based discrimination. The Obama administration maintains that this also protects LGBT students, much to the uproar of religious schools.

However, when that law was passed, Congress provided a loophole that so that religious schools could be exempt from Title IX based on their religious ethos. It became public knowledge last year that since the Obama administration announced its determination that Title IX covers LGBT students, a number of religious schools had applied for such exemptions. Estimates say that, as of December 2015, around 60 schools had been given waivers under the Obama administration.
Advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign and lawmakers such as Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said they were concerned that religious freedom exemptions were being used to perpetuate anti-LGBT discrimination.

Senator Wyden and other lawmakers subsequently wrote a letter to the Department of Education requesting that there be more transparency in the process so that, at the very least, the general public could know which colleges and universities were using these exemptions.

The Department of Education has now issued a response.

Buzzfeed reports that Assistant Secretary Catherine Lhamon, in comments made Wednesday January 20, has agreed to that call for transparency:

I appreciate your suggestion the we provide more transparency about the religious exemption requests received and [the department’s] responses. I agree.”

Lhamon added that both applications for the waivers and the government’s replies will be posted online “sometime in coming months” as part of the department’s broader push to increase transparency.

To be clear, this information was technically already open to the public but it wasn’t easily accessible. Now, the Department has said it will post the information in a way that is searchable so that the public can understand which schools are getting these exemptions and how the government has answered those calls.

The Human Rights Campaign has praised the move.

HRC President Chad Griffin, added

We have been alarmed by the growing trend of schools quietly seeking the right to discriminate against LGBT students, and not disclosing that information publicly. We are encouraged that the Department of Education is answering our call for greater transparency to help ensure no student unknowingly enrolls in a school that intends to discriminate against them.

We believe that religious liberty is a bedrock principle of our nation, however, faith should never be used as a guise for discrimination.”

However, this doesn’t fully answer the issue, namely why educational institutions receiving public money are being allowed to discriminate in the first place.

Unfortunately, to change that would require a change in the law and it is highly unlikely that the Republican dominated House or the stalemate in the Senate could muster enough consensus to do so. This compounds the litany of anti-LGBT student bills that are sweeping the country, and ones that particularly focus on trans students and their access to sports teams and changing and bathroom facilities.

Nevertheless, identifying the schools that are exploiting religious freedom protections to discriminate is a much needed step toward tackling this issue and for that reason the Department’s response is welcome.

[interaction id=”560c2d3377aa6c1a034e607b”]

United States Supreme Court Set to Make Monumental Gay Rights Decision

While many countries create laws with the idea of them being nationwide, the good ol’ US of A likes to be different and leaves many of its biggest laws and rulings up to each of its 50 individual states.

Unfortunately, sometimes this means that basic human rights get left out in the cold, with the majority of American states not allowing for same gender marriage even though a handful of states such as New York, California and Washington have all deemed them legal. However, as per his triumphant support of LGBTQ rights (he helped repeal the Defense of Marriage Act along with the exclusionary army policy, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) President Barack Obama has told the US Supreme Court not to uphold same gender marriage bans and now, with many same gender marriage cases being put forward, the Supreme Court has an incredible weight on its shoulders.

At their upcoming September 29th conference, the Supreme Court will meet and decide to hear any number of same gender marriage bans. In Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin, same gender couples have all appealed to have their states’ same gender marriage bans ruled unconstitutional, looking to force same gender marriage into legality. While it’s certainly a different way of doing things, as opposed to the usual protesting, pleading and arguing that same gender couples deserve their basic humans rights, they are well within in their rights to do so and could even help move the the process of marriage equality along a bit quicker.

The Supreme Court will use their conference to decide which (if any) cases to hear and make a ruling on whether or not they should be upheld or overturned. The marriage bans being overturned is the outcome that we want – on a state level – but on a national level the impact could be greater. Theoretically, the decisions they make at the conference could determine whether or not it’s even constitutional for states to rule individually on the topic of same gender marriage. Should they deem it unconstitutional, same gender marriages could (again, this is theoretical) take place all over the United States, regardless of marriage bans previously brought into law.

Should we get a decision on same gender marriage at state level, we could get that answer as early as June, 2015 which is pretty flipping huge. We’ll keep you posted on the latest.