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May 29, 2015

Michael Sam heads north

Montréal--Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, might not have been picked up for in-season play in the United States, but apparently his future lies in a country with national marriage equality laws.

The Montréal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League announced on May 22 that they had signed Sam to a two-year contract. It will make Sam the CFL’s first openly gay player.

The Rams, the NFL team that drafted him, and the Cowboys, who signed him to a practice squad, both said that the linebacker’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with their lack of desire to use him.

“With the signing of Michael Sam, we have become a better organization today,” said Alouettes general manager Jim Popp. “Not only have we added an outstanding football player, we have added even a better person, that brings dignity, character and heart to our team.”

More bans on conversion therapy move

Salem, Ore.--Gov. Kate Brown signed a ban on the use of so-called conversion therapy on minors on May 18.

The bill passed the legislature earlier this month, and would bar the use of therapy trying to change sexual orientation or gender identity on patients under the age of 18. Professional organizations like the American Psychological Association condemn conversion therapy, warning that there is no credible evidence that sexual orientation can be changed, and when change does not come, patients can become depressed, even suicidal.

Brown’s signature makes Oregon the third state, after California and New Jersey, to ban the practice on minors. Washington, D.C. also has a similar ban in place.

Another conversion therapy ban bill passed the Illinois House of Representatives the following day on a 68-43 vote, and it now goes to the state senate, which is known to be the more liberal of the two chambers and is even more likely to pass the legislation.

The White House came out in favor of banning the practice after the December suicide of Leelah Alcorn in Cincinnati. The transgender teen spoke out in an online suicide note against the Christian therapy her parents subjected her to.

Girl Scouts to accept transgender scouts

New York City--The Girl Scouts of the United States of America announced via a blog post on their website on May 14 that they will now accept transgender girls within their ranks.

Andrea Bastiani Archibald, the chief girl expert for the Girl Scouts and a developmental psychologist, wrote, “Girl Scouts has valued and supported all girls since our inception in 1912. There is not one type of girl. Every girl’s sense of self, path to it, and how she is supported is unique.”

“The foundation of diversity that Juliette Gordon Low established runs throughout Girl Scouting to this day,” she continued. “If a girl is recognized by her family, school and community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe. Inclusion of transgender girls is handled at a council level on a case by case basis, with the welfare and best interests of all members as a top priority.”

Boy Scouts president calls for end to ban on gay leaders

Atlanta--Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, the president of the Boy Scouts of America, called for an end to the ban on gay leaders at the organization’s national meeting on May 21.

Gates said that the possibility of employment discrimination lawsuits and the possibility that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of national same-sex marriage indicate that the current status quo is not tenable in the long run. He said that if the organization does not change on its own, the courts will make it.

He did not call for an organization-wide policy change, however. He said that he thought it should be left to the local troops, an acknowledgment of the prevalence of religious organizations organizing scout troops.

He pointed to a federal lawsuit whose ruling declared the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring openly gay people from serving in the military in 2010, noting that the only reason a stay was granted was because Congress was already in the process of repealing the policy.

Eighth trans woman of color killed this year

Philadelphia--London Kiki Chanel’s May 18 stabbing death marked the eighth confirmed murder of a transgender woman of color in the United States this year.

Chanel was 21.

When the story first broke, a local NBC affiliate identified Chanel as a man, until a commenter noted that her name was London Chanel, and that hiding the death of a transgender black woman was a disservice to the public and to the victim.

The station apologized and updated its article with female pronouns.

A 31 year old man, Raheam Felton, confessed and is in police custody. He is being charged with murder and another lesser charge, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 3.

Maryland governor to let equality bills take effect

Annapolis, Md.--Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, is going to let two measures take effect without his signature, aides said on May 22.

One would allow transgender people to change the sex indicator on their birth certificates. The other bars insurers from discriminating based on sexual orientation in the coverage of fertility treatments.

The bills passed both houses of the legislature handily, but it was unclear what Hogan would do; some LGBT advocates feared he might veto the measures.

Hogan needs to either veto or sign the measure by June 3, or it will automatically take effect.

Hogan ran primarily on fiscal issues, and has done little to appease either social conservatives or progressives, primarily avoiding any possibly controversial discussion of social issues.














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