Rundown Queer 411: Anti-Gay Bill Fails in Idaho, Ohio Lesbian Teacher Fired + more

An LGBT activist’s view of entertainment and world news.

As an LGBT activist, the promotion of queer rights is #1 on my homosexual agenda. This weekly column serves as a forum for me to comment on issues and causes currently affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. My “rundown” of these topics is from the perspective of an LGBT activist; it is my goal that by keeping our community informed, we can all help contribute to the battle for equality.

Anti-Gay Bill Fails in Idaho

A proposed new ordinance designed to protect the LGBT community in Pocatello, Idaho from discrimination in housing, accommodations, and employment was rejected by the City Council on April 18. A proposed new ordinance designed to protect the LGBT community in Pocatello, Idaho from discrimination in housing, accommodations, and employment, was rejected on April 18.  According to the Idaho State Journal, the Pocatello City Council was deadlocked on a motion to approve the ordinance with a vote of 3-3 with Mayor Brian Blad casting the deciding vote to defeat the legislation.  The outcome of Pocatello’s vote stands in contrast to Idaho towns Boise, Moscow, and Sandpoint, which have all passed similar legislation. But even more disturbing is the suspected influence of the antigay organization Heritage Foundation, which was able to secure time in a City Council work session prior to the public hearing on the proposed LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance. In the past, the Heritage Foundation has not only championed the Defense of Marriage Act, but also pulled out of the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2011 because the gay Republican group GOProud would be in attendance.

Ohio Lesbian Teacher Fired

Carla Hale was fired from her job after mentioning her lesbian partner in her mother’s obituary; the Columbus, Ohio schoolteacher is getting support from the city’s Mayor Michael Coleman.  As we reported Thursday, Hale, a physical education teacher and coach at Bishop Watterson High School, was unexpectedly terminated by the Catholic Diocese of Columbus following the publication in the Columbus Dispatch in February of her mother’s obit which mentioned Hale’s partner Julie. Coleman tweeted his support for Hale, writing, “I stand with Carla Hale. No one in Columbus or in the United States should be denied employment because of their choice of who to love.”

The Columbus official is just one of thousands of people outraged by Hale’s dismissal. More than 20, 000 people have signed a petition on Change.org, calling on Bishop Watterson to issue an apology to Hale and reinstate her immediately.

Zimbabwe Gay Activists Fight Back

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZsaid in a statement: “We remain on course in our quest to achieving equality for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities.”  The group added: “We are concerned that the state continues to vilify our kind and actively violates and harasses our kin. As a result our community lives in fear of violence and abuse because they have witnessed abuse or encountered violent homophobic slurs. The law facilitates harassment of LGBTI individuals because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”  Zimbabwe achieved de jure sovereignty from the United Kingdom in April 1980, following 14 years as an unrecognized state under the conservative white minority government of Rhodesia, which unilaterally declared independence in 1965.  Along with most African countries homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe, based on remnants of sodomy laws introduced during the British colonial era.

Robert Mugabe, president since 1987, has been a staunch promoter of homophobic persecution.

Transgender Woman Cited for Restroom Use

An Idaho transgender woman was cited for trespassing last week for using the women’s bathroom in a grocery store.  Ally Robledo, 25, was cited April 8 after leaving Rosauer’s grocery store in Lewiston, according to CBS local affiliate KLEW TV.  “A male subject … was using the female restroom, and that made some women customers uncomfortable because of the appearance that a male was using their restroom,” Lewiston Police Captain Roger Lanier said, according to KLEW.  Robledo told the station that she has already undergone one gender re-assignment surgery.  In the past, Robledo said using male restrooms led to feelings of embarrassment and harassment, and that she sometimes she even feared for her safety.  “I’m a female trapped in a man’s body,” Robledo said, according to Reuters. “It’s natural for me to go to the ladies’ room. Getting the no trespassing order for a public restroom was really painful.”  Lanier stressed that “store employees didn’t want any further problems” and have the right under Idaho state law to refuse service. Customers had complained because someone was urinating standing up, according to Reuters.  ThinkProgress notes that Idaho is one of 37 states that do not offer nondiscrimination protections for transgender Americans.

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