Trump Affirms ‘Commitment’ to LGBTQ Rights Just Hours Before Discriminating Against LGBTQ People

President Donald Trump reaffirmed his “commitment” to LGBTQ rights just hours before the federal government paved the way for sweeping discrimination against trans people.

Trump sent the Log Cabin Republicans an official letter to commemorate the gay GOP organization’s 40th anniversary. In an official presidential communique, the Commander-in-Chief proclaimed that the United States is “founded on the undeniable truth that all of us are created equal.”

“We are equal in the eyes of our Creator,” Trump wrote. “We are equal under the law. And we are all equal under our Constitution.”

“No matter the color of our skin or our sexual orientation, we all live under the same laws, salute the same great American flag, and are made in the image of the same Almighty God,” continued the POTUS, who claimed during the 2016 presidential election that he would be a “friend” to the LGBTQ community.

Trump referenced that remark in the Dec. 21 statement, which was published to the Log Cabin Republicans’ official Twitter account on Wednesday.

“As we write the next great chapter of our Nation, we reaffirm our commitment to these fundamental truths and will work to ensure that all Americans live in a country where they feel safe and where their opportunities are limitless,” the president added.

Those comments conflict with actions from his own administration this week.

On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the federal agency would be reshuffling to create a new bureau dedicated to investigating claims of religious liberty and other moral objections, particularly when it comes to health care workers who don’t want to perform abortions or treat transgender patients.

In a statement, HHS claims its Conscience and Religious Freedom Division is intended to “restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom.”

These policies stand to have a deleterious impact on the LGBTQ community, advocates say. The Center for American Progress reports that 41 percent of queer or trans people who live in rural areas of the country claim it would be “difficult or impossible” to receive treatment at an alternative health center were they to be turned away by their local hospital.

Research shows that transgender people already face enormous discrimination in health care settings.

A 2009 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force found that nearly 1 in 5 respondents (or 19 percent) had been harassed, abused, sexually assaulted, or turned away by a healthcare provider.

The Williams Institute, a pro-LGBTQ think tank at the University of California Los Angeles, claims this week’s moves only stand to make the problem worse.

“Research demonstrates the health disparities and discrimination to which the transgender community is subject,” says Executive Director Jocelyn Samuels in an emailed statement. “This new rule is likely to result in denials of critical health care to this vulnerable community in ways that will fundamentally undermine their health and wellbeing.”

But amidst the Trump administration’s latest attempt to rollback LGBTQ rights, the Log Cabin Republicans praised the president’s letter of “best wishes,” which he claims was co-signed by First Lady Melania Trump.

“What a way to start the year!” President Gregory T. Angelo reportedly said in a note to the group’s supporters.

This 90-Year-Old Lesbian Air Force Vet Finally Won An Honorable Discharge After 60 Years

Helen Grace James never came out to her family.

She never told them that her joyful years as a radio operator and crew chief in the Air Force ended with a “dishonorable” discharge. For 63 years, she carried that shame.

“The discharge said that I am undesirable,” James recalls. “That is who I am as far as the military is concerned. I am an undesirable person. I was always fun-loving, gay, happy. When I got that discharge, the joy went out of my life.”

At 90, James can look back on a life well-lived. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and got a Master’s at Stanford University. She taught at California State University for 15 years, and was awarded Professor Emeritus in Physical Therapy in 1989 before going into private practice. She has done extensive research and published her work. She worked with Olympic Athletes.

Those things, she always shared with her family.

“It’s just that we don’t talk about things that are that deeply hurtful, that change the way we feel about ourselves, the shame that we carry with us through life,” James tells INTO. “We don’t want to bring that up.”

Just shy of her 91st birthday, James is rewriting her story. On January 17, she finally won her “honorable discharge” from the Air Force. She had to file a federal lawsuit to do it. She has also came out to her family for the first time.

James entered the Air Force when she was 25 in 1952. She came from a proud military familyher father was a WWI Veteran, and she says he inspired her.

“I loved it,” she says. “I felt like I was able to serve, and I was able to enjoy what I was doing. And then it hit the fan. It hit my fan. And all of the sudden I became fearful and anxious.”

James didn’t know she was gay in 1952 because she hadn’t even heard the word. But she had been coaching basketball and softball, and some of the women who played wereshe can say the word nowlesbian.

In 1955, the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) started investigating James because of her friendships. It was the first time she realized she was different, she says.

The OSI searched James’ room, rifling through her personal letters and files. Investigators questioned her on and off the base. She was interrogated after going to a dance club in New York and eating a sandwich at a local shop. She was even stopped after using the bathroom.

Within four months, OSI arrested James and two other women. An investigator told her was a threat to national security and that he would tell her friends and family she was gay.

She relented and agreed to sign anything they wanted. On August 17, 1955, she was dishonorably discharged, a humiliation struck at the heart of who was.

“I had a discharge that was not an honorable discharge,” she says. “I come from a military family. My grandfather was a Union soldier. My father was a World War I. My cousins, my foster brother were military and had been injured and hurt through World War II.”

James moved on, but she never got over it.

In 1968, she appealed the discharge and had it upgraded to “general under honorable conditions.” But that designation falls short. Without an “honorable” discharge, she couldn’t be buried in a National Cemetery with full military funeral honors. She has missed out on retirement benefits, insurance and education aid.

James’ situation is not unique.

Denny Meyer, Public Affairs Officer for American Veterans for Equal Rights, says that service members were regularly tormented for being gay and lesbian.

“They would basically terrorize you and interrogate you for three months and kick you out,” Meyer says.

When they left the service, their “dishonorable” discharges meant they couldn’t get jobs.

Meyer says that roughly 100,000 gay and lesbian service members got less than honorable discharges between WWII and 1994, when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” (DADT) the military policy banning service members from serving openly, took effect.

The repeal of DADT didn’t trigger upgrades for those dishonorably discharged for being gay and lesbian.

James’ attorney Elizabeth Kristen has tried to convince others to appeal their discharges. For many, the pain runs too deep.

“I’ve met other veterans who were discharged in this time period for being gay or lesbian who don’t want to reopen that,” she says. “They just kind of file that paperwork away and live with that shame as Helen’s been describing, of not telling your family that you served, of not getting the benefits to which they’re entitled.”

But James’ discharge has haunted her. Facing down her 90th birthday, she decided to apply to upgrade her discharge in April 2016.

The Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records notified her that it was likely her records were destroyed in a fire in 1973. Consequently, her case lingered. But the Air Force was required to hand her a decision within 18 months of her application. In November, she got notice of a decision in her case had been reached but that it wouldn’t be released without a signature for the Board’s executive director.

James’ sister recently passed away, and she never knew why James left the Air Force. And another woman, a longtime friend discharged with James, died last month. Her nephew told James he never even knew his aunt served. Another of James’ friends from that time married and had two kids but never uttered a word about her service or discharge to her family.

James was done waiting. She notified the Board that she would file suit on January 2. On January 17, she finally won her honorable discharge.

“Getting an honorable discharge, it’s like pie in the sky for me,” she says. “I’m starting to get this wonderful feeling, and it just happened yesterday.”

There’s an added bonus. Her family loves her. They don’t care if she’s a lesbian. She knows that now, with her 91st birthday just weeks away.

In April, she’ll go on an honor flight, a trip for veterans to Washington D.C. to see memorials of their respective wars. James’ served in the Korean War.

Mostly, she’s turning her attention back the life she’s built the last 60 years. She has more research due for publication.

“I have a patient today,” James says, “so I’m just going to go to work and do what I do.”

Kaiser Permanente Washington Accused Of Discriminating Against Trans Women

The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) is investigating three complaints that Kaiser Permanente Washington won’t cover breast augmentation, better known as implants, for trans women who have been prescribed them for gender dysphoria.

According to transgender advocacy organization Gender Justice League (GJL), Kaiser told the group it offered the same coverage for transgender women as it does for cisgender women. But cisgender women (or women who are not trans) do not need medical services related to gender dysphoria.

The OIC is in the early stages of investigating the complaints, filed last week, according to OIC spokesperson Stephanie Marquis.

In an email to GJL, Kaiser notes that it only covers breast augmentation following a mastectomy. In other words, Kaiser would cover breast augmentation for a trans patient who had a mastectomy due to breast cancer.

“That is not a reasonable policy,” Danni Askini, executive director of Gender Justice League, tells INTO. “The point is, they are required to treat gender dysphoria, and the treatment for gender dysphoria is that these patients have been prescribed is breast augmentation.”

A spokesperson for Kaiser Permanente Washington did not respond to a request to comment by deadline, but the company does not deny the policy in a Facebook post where its email to GJL is published.

“The field of transgender medicine has been rapidly evolving over the last several years and so too does our approach, which will match the market in coverage,” Kaiser writes. “We honor the feedback of our patients and members, are committed to reexamining our medical policy and to moving toward matching coverage that is market standard.”

In June 2014, Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler issued a letter to insurers clarifying anti-discrimination protections covering transgender policy holders and reminding them that, “denial of a medically necessary service on the basis of gender identity is prohibited under Washington state law.”

The OIC website also lists breast augmentation among its services insurance providers are required to provide as part of the transition process.

Marquis said she can’t yet comment on if a violation has occurred.

“It’s something that we’re taking very seriously, I can tell you that,” she tells INTO. “We have serious concerns, and at this point we’re going to be looking into it, and that will be a thorough evaluation of what the contract says and what coverage people have access to what our interpretation of that is.”

NRA Spokesperson Launches Transphobic Attack On Chelsea Manning: ‘Boobs… Don’t Make You A Chick’

A spokesperson for the National Rifle Association dismissed Chelsea Manning’s gender identity in an interview broadcasted on the lobby group’s media network.

Political commentator and spokesperson Dana Loesch told NRA TV’s Grant Stinchfield on Tuesday that she refused to “suddenly pretend that this individual who is pretending to be a woman is a part of my sisterhood.”

She further accused Manning, who recently announced her intention to run for Congress, of “appropriating” femaleness.

“He went through maturity and puberty as a male,” Loesch claimed on Stinchfield’s eponymous program. “Just because you get some boobs, and you put some red lipstick on, poorly applied, and a very poor smoky eye bad dye job, that don’t make you a chick.”

Throughout the interview, the conservative talking head refused to refer to Manning by female pronounseven interrupting Stinchfield to use the former Army soldier’s birth name.

The NRA host also appeared to be confused about which names and pronouns to use when referring to Manning. When Loesch cut in, Stinchfield said, “Whatever he/she wants to call herself himself.” He noted that because of her felony record, Manning “can’t even vote for him or herself” in the November 2018 elections.

When Media Matters drew attention to the interview, Loesch quickly hit back at the left-leaning outlet, refusing to apologize.

“Oh no I’m being mansplained to by a mostly male Soros outlet mad that they can’t force me to accept a patriarchal appropriation of my female gender,” she claimed in a 10:33am post reiterating the same points made in the earlier conversation. “I simply said having breasts and red lips doesn’t make you a woman.”

Loesch, a former Blaze TV host and author of Hands Off My Gun, previously got into a public spat with BuzzFeed reporter Chris Geidner for refusing to use Manning’s correct name and pronouns.

She claimed in a Sept. 2016 tweet that the military was giving “preferential treatment” to Manning by allowing her to transition in federal prison. The one-time private was sentenced to serve between 21 and 35 years for violating the Espionage Act after leaking classified information to WikiLeaks in 2010.

When Geidner called out her comments as transphobic, Loesch claimed in a series of posts that he was merely “triggered” and “castration isn’t necessary.”

She has continued to be employed as a representative of the NRA.

Photos via Facebook

Nine Gay Men Have Been Arrested in Egypt for Allegedly Hosting ‘Group Sex Parties’

Nine gay men have been arrested in Egypt after being accused of engaging in “debauchery” by authorities, who claimed their behavior threatened public safety.

The Dekheila Prosecution in Alexandria apprehended the individuals in a Monday raid, which was originally reported by the Egypt Independent. Police claim the detainees had rented an apartment which was being used to “host group sex parties.”

Local informants in Alexandria gave law enforcement information which led them to the residence, which was allegedly located in the neighborhood of Hanoville.

Sources claimed several “weird” men had been frequenting the location.

The Independent reports the men undertook strict security measures to ensure their safety, “fearing police repercussions” in a nation where LGBTQ people have been under strict scrutiny in recent months. Arrestees would not allow strangers on the property and used a code word to gain entry into the apartment.

Initial reports claimed the hookup spot had been receiving “customers,” so it’s unclear if the property was being used as a brothel.

This week’s sting operation, which was confirmed by the Head of the Alexandria Security Directorate Mustafa al-Nimr, is the most recent attack on Egypt’s LGBTQ community since the wave of arrests following a Mashrou’ Leila concert in September. More than 70 people were apprehended in the anti-gay crackdown.

Although there’s no explicit prohibition of homosexuality in the country’s civil codes, those individuals were detained under the same outdated 1961 law on “debauchery” cited in the Alexandria arrests.

That law is vague enough to be applied to any behavior the Egyptian government doesn’t like but is often used to criminalize same-sex activity.

INTO previously reported in November that at least 60 legislatorshad signed onto a bill which would strengthen that law by targeting virtually any form of pro-gay advocacy. It mandates strict punishments for any venue caught hosting LGBTQ events or media outlets viewed as “promoting” homosexuality through positive coverage of the community.

Cranberries Singer Dolores O’Riordan Was A Queer Ally and Icon

In the early ’90s, there were few out queer women in the public eye.

It was before Melissa Etheridge, Ellen DeGeneres, or k.d. lang would come out, and much of what lesbians had to look to were eccentric women with close-cut cropped hair or beautiful bald heads like that of Dolores O’Riordan.

The Cranberries frontwoman not only had a queer aesthetic in her tomboyish presentation, but her genderless lyrical storytelling was something so easy for LGBTQs to connect with. The black and white noir-ish video for “Linger” had her wandering around the darkly-lit hallways of a building where a room projected videos of burlesque performers; meanwhile, another woman notices her as she passes bya shadowy androgynous figure whose appearance is both noticeable but never fully present. Her lyrics, too, were easily adaptable to same-sex relationships: “Were you lying all the time?/Was it just a game to you?/But I’m in so deep/You know I’m such a fool for you.”

O’Riordan was not queer, but she loved her queer fans. In 1994, she told Hot Press she’d found a group of lesbians at her show. Instead of making fun or acting grossed out, she explained how she’d learned more about this subset of her fans and appreciated their fervor.

“My first major lesbian encounter took place in London, before we left to tour Europe,” O’Riordan said. “At the last gig we did in London, in The Underworld, a lesbian group came in to see us play after some meeting they’d had. And they just stood there bawling their eyes out, calling my name, saying ‘Please, touch me’ as if I was some kind of saviour! And I couldn’t handle it at all! I was saying to the band ‘What’s wrong with them?’ But then I realised maybe it was the way I look or, more so, the nature of the songs, which deal with intimacy and anger and emotions that, to me, are about men, but for them could just as much be about women. It’s much the same thing, isn’t it?”

O’Riordan told Hot Press she’d initially been a little scared by the attention (“because I didn’t know too much about lesbianism!”) but followed it up with, “since then I’ve met lots of lesbians and most of them are lovely girls and I’m not afraid of them anymore. They live their life and I live mine.”

Two decades later, O’Riordan would speak with Chicago Pride about her homeland of Ireland’s achieving equal marriage, saying, “People should be able to be able to do whatever they want with their lives. A person’s sexual preference is their own business. I love the gay community. I mean, some of the greatest geniusespeople like Freddie Mercury, for examplehave been gay.”

In the same interview, she praised individuality (“I’ve learned that it’s very important to be yourself and very important to accept others for who they are.”), which has always been what LGBTQs have seen in a figure like O’Riordan. In her work with the Cranberries as well as her solo artistry, she offered an odd-person out camaraderie; an antithetical pop option that was was as political as it was relatable, as fury-filled as it was singable.

In “Ode To My Family,” O’Riordan’s crooning to be seen had anyone who felt like an outcast raising a lighter in the air: “Understand the things I say/Don’t turn away from me/’Cause I spent half my life out there/You wouldn’t disagree/D’you see me, d’you see/Do you like me, do you like me standing there/D’you notice, d’you know/Do you see me, do you see me/Does anyone care?”

When news came out today that O’Riordan had died at the age of 46, LGBTQs were among those in mourning. While no cause of death has been released of yet, fans were aware of her having struggled with both mental and physical health issues in the past. Still, it’s a huge shock and loss for anyone who knew O’Riordan and her work, which has inspired many artists today.

O’Riordan was a feminist and an artist whose work was infused with activism. She was a survivor of sexual abuse and a mother of three. She touched so many with her music and public persona, including Nathan Hotchkiss who, in 2012, talked with All Things Considered about how important The Cranberries were to his self-acceptance and coming out to himself.

“My preference seemed to always lean towards boys,” he said. “As I got older, I, you know, realized that it was part of who I was. Many of [The Cranberries’] songs’ lyrics that I listened to would talk to me and tell me that I wasn’t the only one out there going through feelings like this, and being treated the way I was.”

O’Riordan joined Hotchkiss on the podcast, telling him how she could relate to his story, too.

“You know, I appreciate you appreciating me because, you know what? It’s lovely to hear stories like that,” she said. “You know, to kind of think that your music touches people to that level – it’s really great, you know? And, you know, I think everybody in life, you know, we go through struggles. And the reason we go through those struggles is because later, we become stronger people.”

Rest in power, Delores. Thank you.

This Lawmaker Wants to Redefine Marriages Not Performed In Churches As ‘Domestic Unions’

A Republican lawmaker in Missouri wants to redefine marriage.

State Rep. T.J. Berry (R-Kearney) is sponsoring a bill that would limit the state’s definition of marriage to couples who are married in a church, instead classifying ceremonies performed at city hall or other venues as “domestic unions.”

House Bill 1434 was pre-filed prior to the 2018 legislative session, which convened earlier this month. This is the third consecutive year he has put forward the proposal.

Berry claims the legislation is intended to resolve religious conflicts over the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize marriage equality. An ordained deacon in the Southern Baptist church, he says churches feel “threatened” by the idea that the government could compel them to perform same-sex marriages.

“I don’t necessarily believe that, but they fear it,” Berry told the Springfield News-Leader.

The self-described “very religious” conservative says reasonable compromise is necessary to ensure the rights of people of faith are protected following the Obergefell ruling. Berry believes HB 1434 settles the issue by taking marriage out of the government’s hands entirelydismissing the suggestion that doing so would be discriminatory.

“I’m treating everybody the exact same way and leaving space for people to believe what they believe outside of government,” he added in an interview with the Associated Press.

But as Berry himself noted, almost no one seems to think this proposal is a good idea.

Dion Wisniewski, executive director of the Missouri advocacy group The Center Project, says he is “irritated and frustrated” by the bill, but not surprised.

“This has already been covered in the courts, so you’re taking time and spending taxpayer money on something that is likely being done just to say they tried,” Wisniewski claims in an email to INTO. “Bills like this one have been filed in the past without success, so I don’t know what they think is going to happen this time.”

“If it does pass, I don’t know why they think it will stand up in the Supreme Court,” he adds.

This is the third consecutive year Berry has put forward HB 1434. The massive bill, which clocks in at 377 pages, has yet to receive a hearing in the Missouri Legislature.

Should the legislation be greeted with a warmer reception this time around, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow says it could trigger a complicated legal situation for LGBTQ married couples in the state.

Because HB 1434 doesn’t entirely void marriages performed outside of a church, Missouri would continue to recognize that, say, a gay couple who tied the knot in their backyard is entitled to benefits at the state level. But married same-sex partners receive additional federal benefitsin the form of social security and reduced taxeswhich would thusly be jeopardized if their relationship were reclassified as a “domestic union.”

“The federal government has not historically recognized alternatives to marriage for those rights, benefits, and obligations,” Warbelow tells INTO in a phone interview.

What’s most confusing about the bill, advocates say, is that the LGBTQ community wouldn’t be the only population harmed by Berry’s proposal. It also would redefine the marriages of opposite-sex couples under the same category if they weren’t conducted on religious grounds.

Warbelow says HB 1434 would “call into question all couples’ rights.”

“It’s hard to believe [this legislation is] something most conservatives would support,” she claims. “Most Americans think that marriage is an important institution, and they don’t want to get rid of it.”

Even though such a law being enacted would impact every married couple in Missouri, it stands to have a disproportionate effect on the local LGBTQ population. Many same-sex couples in the state decide not to get married in a house of worship because they fear they will be discriminated against, Wisniewski says.

Should a lesbian couple, for instance, not be able to find a pastor or church willing to perform the ceremony, HB 1434 would essentially be punishing them twice.

“No matter how much progress we make, there is always going to be a push from conservative groups to roll back protections for individuals or enact new laws to make it more difficult to live normal lives,” Wisniewski claims. “Conservative groups are putting pressure on the legislature to protect the ‘biblical definition’ of marriage, even though they aren’t being forced to perform these services in most cases.”

Because the fallout from Berry’s draft bill is so extreme, it might be tempting to write off the proposal as yet another lost causean empty gesture designed to appease a conservative lawmaker’s base. It has already failed twice, after all.

But Warbelow suggests that would be a mistake in the current political environment.

“Bills that in prior years saw no movement or people were dismissive of them need to be taken even more seriously under an administration that’s made clear they don’t support the view that LGBTQ people are covered under current federal laws,” she says, pointing to President Trump’s continued rollback of protections for queer and trans people.

Last year saw the passage of a Tennessee law, State Bill 1085, which mandated that words like “mother” and “father” be regarded with “their natural and ordinary meaning” based upon “biological distinctions between women and men.”

The universally derided proposal was a source of national mockery until Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed it into effect last May.

HB 1434 is one of four anti-LGBTQ bills that have already been introduced in the Missouri Legislature this year. In the vein of North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2, two proposed bathroom billsSenate Bill 690 and House Bill 1755would force trans people to use public facilities which do not correspond with their gender identity.

The “Missouri Marriage Solemnization Refusal Bill,” known as House Bill 1763, allows members of the clergy to refuse marriage services to same-sex couples if doing so would conflict with their “religious beliefs or sincerely held moral convictions.”

Wisniewski claims LGBTQ groups in the state will continue to combat these discriminatory proposals.

“There is no indication that conservatives are going to let up any time soonso we must keep up the fight,” he says. “If we stop, they will just jam through useless and discriminatory legislation that has the sole purpose of making us less than opposite-sex couples under the guise of religious freedom.”

Last year, nine bills targeting the queer and trans community were defeated in the legislature.

Chelsea Manning Has Filed To Run For The U.S. Senate

Chelsea Manning has filed to run for the U.S. Senate in Maryland.

The out trans woman and former Army specialist and private will be challenging the current Democratic senator, Ben Cardin, who has served two terms and is up for re-election in November.

Manning moved to Maryland after President Obama commuted her prison sentence in 2016. (She’d been sentenced to 35 years after being convicted of leaking classified documents in 2013.) A documentary about her experience inside a men’s prison and her life after release is set to premiere on Showtime later this year.

Manning has yet to make an official statement but last year she spoke with Vogue about the possibility of running for office.

“I’m certainly not going to say no, and I’m certainly not going to say yes,” she said. “My goal is to use these next six months to figure out where I want to go.”

INTO was able to acquire her filing paperwork and has reached out for comment

LGBTQ Women Join The Women’s March Line-Up

One year ago, women took to the streets to protest the misogyny of Donald Trump and the threat his administration poses to women’s rights and bodies. This year, the organizers behind the Women’s March planned a sequential event, which will take place January 20th in Los Angeles. Amongs the star-studded lineup are some of our favorite LGBTQ luminaries, like Laverne Cox, Lea DeLaria, Rowan Blanchard,Paris Jackson, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, and the Queen of Lesbians herself, Melissa Etheridge. Plus, allies like Scarlett Johansson, Chloe Bennet, Olivia Wilde, andSophia Bush will join, too.

Last year, over 750,000 people gathered in Los Angeles alone as a show of support for women’s rights. The march, which caustically fell the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew 3 to 4 million Americans, and was likely the largest single-day demonstration in history.

Queer women were also at the forefront of last year’s march. Lea DeLaria attended with her fellow Orange is the New Black castmates. Ellen Page also marched along with Halsey, Carrie Brownstein, and Evan Rachel Wood. And Gillian Anderson marched in solidarity all the way in London.

As targets of the radically conservative Trump administration, LGBTQ people are and always have been an integral part of the Resistance, so it’s no surprise that both queer women and men are showing up this year to support the cause again.

The Los Angeles march begins at 8:30am in Pershing Square. The march will start at 10:00am and conclude in Grand Park. You can watch it on Facebook Live or join the Women’s March organizers’ Power to the Polls event in Las Vegas the following day. One year later, I think we definitely need to show up in numbers and reenergize for the tireless, seemingly never-ending fight against the Trump administration’s sexism, racism, and overall suppression of marginalized voices.

Three States Just Introduced Bills to Ban Conversion Therapy on LGBTQ Youth

Three states introduced legislation this week banning any attempt to “change” the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ youth.

Arizona, Virginia, and Washington all put forward bills to prohibit the discredited practice often referred to as conversion therapy from being offered within state lines. Condemned by the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Psychological Association (APA), the treatment has already been outlawed in nine states, including California and Vermont.

Two proposals were filed in Virginia this week as the General Assembly convened for the 2018 legislative term. Known as Senate Bill 245 and House Bill 363, the bills were authored, respectively, by Democrats Sen. Scott Surovell and Del. Patrick Hope.

Del. Hope, who has introduced similar legislation for several years, claims it’s the government’s duty to protect “children from the dangers of conversion therapy.”

“Conversion therapy is based on the false assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder or a sin,” he said in a press release. “It clearly is neither. What is clear is that organized medicine maintains that sexual orientation is not changeable, that conversion therapies do irreparable harm, and that conversion therapies should not be practiced in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Sen. Surovell added that conversion therapy is both morally and medically “wrong.”

“Numerous studies show that LGBTQ children who are exposed to this practice have a significantly higher incidence of substance abuse, depression, homelessness and suicide,” he claimed in a statement. “Just as we no longer allow doctors to use leeches and bleeding to cure fevers, Virginia needs to ban this dangerous practice and protect our children.”

Washington Sen. Marko Liias, who put forward a bill banning conversion therapy in the Evergreen State on Thursday, testified about a 14-year-old in his district, Danni, who had been sent to reparative counseling by his parents.

Danni’s therapists forced him to flick “rubber bands on his wrist” and put “rocks in his shoes to teach him that who he was and who he was becoming was wrong,” he said.

Calling conversion therapy “torture,” Lias claimed it “should not take place in Washington.”

His legislation, known as Senate Bill 5722, would update the state’s Uniform Disciplinary Act to define the practice as “unprofessional conduct.” It received a hearing in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee on Thursday.

Arizona’s Sen. Sean Bowie put forward Senate Bill 1160 on Friday, which would block conversion therapy from being practiced on LGBTQ minors. The Grand Canyon State has attempted to outlaw any attempt to “cure” the orientation of queer or trans youth in previous legislative terms, but prior efforts have stalled.

The first-term Democrat was unavailable for comment prior to press time, but The Trevor Project championed the move in a statement.

“With 2018 comes an incredible opportunity to protect thousands of LGBTQ youth from the horrors of conversion therapy,” said Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs for the advocacy organization. “We look forward to building a strong coalition with Senator Bowie to once and for all remind LGBTQ youth in Arizona that they are worthy of love just as they are.”

Last year, Connecticut, Nevada, and New Mexico all moved to ban conversion therapy, although two bills in New Hampshire were voted down earlier this week.