Rumors started circulating around the fire station in Byron, Georgia, within a year after the medical treatments began. The fire chief’s once-crewcut hair was growing longer, and other physical changes were becoming noticeable. Keeping quiet was no longer an option.
The chief said that once members of the tiny Fire Department were told, word spread “faster than a nuclear explosion” through Byron — a city of about 4,500 in a farming region outside Macon known for growing Georgia’s famous peaches. The fire chief was undergoing a gender transition and would continue to run the department as Rachel Mosby. A City Hall staffer told Mosby many were stunned because “I was the manliest man anyone had met in their lives.”
“They initially took it very well, much to my surprise,” Mosby said. “I heard a lot of comments like, ‘Chief, you don’t have anything to worry about. We’ve got your back.’”
It didn’t last. As a man, Mosby served as Byron’s fire chief for a decade until the beginning of 2018. Then Mosby started coming to work as a woman, and the city fired her less than 18 months later. Her June 4 termination letter cited “lack of performance.” Mosby insists the only thing that changed was her gender.
“They didn’t want somebody like me in that position,” she said, “or any position with the city.” It’s not illegal under Georgia state law to fire someone for being gay or transgender. Twenty-eight U.S. states have adopted no laws that prohibit workplace discrimination targeting LGBT employees. Only a small percentage of cities and counties offer protection at the local level. So Mosby, like thousands of other LGBT Americans, has sought recourse under the federal law that makes sex discrimination illegal at work.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has treated LGBT-based job discrimination cases as sex discrimination since 2013. But that could soon end, depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules in cases it heard Oct. 8 that deal with the firings of gay men in Georgia and New York state and a transgender woman in Michigan.
The key question: Do firings and harassment based on a worker’s sexual orientation or gender identity qualify as sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act?
A ruling that says the federal law doesn’t protect workers targeted because they’re gay or transgender could leave millions vulnerable in more than half of U.S. states, an Associated Press analysis found.
Only 21 states have their own laws prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Wisconsin outlaws discrimination because of sexual orientation but doesn’t protect transgender workers. And fewer than 300 cities and counties have local ordinances protecting LGBT workers, according to an advocacy group.
That patchwork of state and local laws leaves large gaps where LGBT workers have no job protection beyond federal claims under Title VII. About half of the nation’s estimated 8.1 million LGBT employees live in states where job discrimination laws don’t cover them, according to the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute.
“If the Supreme Court sides against LGBT employees, it means they have to be really cautious and careful about living their lives openly and proudly,” said Jillian Weiss, a New York attorney who focuses on LGBT discrimination cases. “They may encounter a lot of discrimination, and there may not be anything they can do about it.”
The AP found workers are particularly vulnerable in the South, home to an estimated 35% of LGBT adults. Out of 16 states the U.S. Census Bureau defines as the South, only Maryland and Delaware prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender workers. Protection at the local level is sparse, with most Southern states having five or fewer cities or counties that shield private-sector LGBT workers.
South Carolina offers no protection at the state or local level. And Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee each passed laws blocking local governments from having their own anti-discrimination ordinances that cover LGBT workers.
Those large gaps mean only about 18% of adults in the South are protected against LGBT-based job discrimination, compared with about 89% in the Northeast, according to Naomi Goldberg of the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBT-rights think tank that tracks anti-discrimination laws.
The Supreme Court’s upcoming decision, not expected until next year, could make or break Lonnie Billard’s discrimination lawsuit in North Carolina against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte and an affiliated high school. A federal judge put Billard’s case on hold until the high court rules.
Billard, a substitute teacher and longtime employee at Charlotte Catholic High School, was fired after announcing on Facebook in 2014 that he was marrying his male partner.
Attorneys for the diocese said Billard was let go for “advocacy in favor of same-sex marriage in violation of the Catholic Church’s fundamental beliefs.” They said the school could legally fire him in part because of its religious affiliation.
Billard’s case illustrates a dilemma that advocates say more gay couples could face if the Supreme Court, which declared same-sex marriage legal in 2015, decides federal law doesn’t protect them from harassment at work for being openly married.
“You get married on Saturday and fired on Monday, and there’s no protection,” said Luke Largess, one of Billard’s attorneys.
Advocates say the EEOC’s involvement is making a difference. The commission reports it received more than 8,600 LGBT-based discrimination complaints in the six-year period through September 2018. More than 1,300 cases ended with the workers who filed claims receiving some benefit.
Brandi Branson, a transgender woman who was fired by a Florida eye clinic in 2011, got a $150,000 settlement from her former employer after the EEOC sued on her behalf.
“It meant a lot. It meant somebody heard me,” Branson said. “I felt validated in myself as a person and also in my claims that I was wronged.”
Critics say the EEOC overreached by extending Title VII protections to LGBT workers. The federal law doesn’t mention sexual orientation or gender identity. While it prohibits job discrimination based on sex, Congress didn’t consider that to include LGBT discrimination when the law was passed in 1964, said attorney John Bursch of the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Bursch represents a Michigan funeral home that fired transgender woman Aimee Stephens in 2013 in one of the cases before the Supreme Court. Bursch argues Congress would need to change the law for it to cover LGBT discrimination.
“No matter what you feel about the substantive issue of LGBT employment protections, everyone should be upset that a government agency … could punish someone based on a change in law they could not have anticipated based on its plain text and its interpretation for 50 years,” Bursch said.
In Georgia, Mosby is still waiting to hear whether the EEOC will pursue her case against the city of Byron — and whether the Supreme Court’s ruling might upend it.
After making her transition public last year, Mosby said, she was ordered to start wearing a uniform the first day she came to work in a skirt. Previously, Mosby often wore suits and ties. When Mosby fired a reserve firefighter who called the chief a slur to her face, the firefighter appealed and was reinstated by the city.
Meanwhile, Byron’s City Council in January changed its personnel policy to eliminate appeals for any department heads the city fires. Still, Mosby said she was surprised when Derick Hayes, Byron’s city administrator, fired her months later.
Hayes cited three reasons for Mosby’s firing in her termination letter: that she was responsible for a backlog of business licenses awaiting approval; that she attended only five classes at a recent fire chief’s conference, wasting the city’s money; and that she failed to maintain certification as an arson investigator.
Hayes didn’t return a phone message seeking comment. Byron Mayor Lawrence Collins denied Mosby was fired because she’s transgender.
“The quick answer on that is no. I think the records reflect that,” Collins said, declining to comment further.
Mosby said being jobless left her in financial straits. The public humiliation of her firing further strained relationships with her family, already stressed following her transition.
“I’ve lost my family, I’ve lost my house,” Mosby said. “Now I’m living with friends that keep a roof over my head and food in my stomach, so I’m not having to live in my car. It’s been utterly devastating.”
Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia. Kastanis reported from Los Angeles.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The parents of slain gay Wyoming man Matthew Shepard blasted U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday for failing to stand up for LGBT civil rights in a statement read at a Justice Department ceremony marking the 10-year anniversary of a hate crime law bearing their son’s name. FILE PHOTO: Judy and Dennis Shepard, parents of Matthew Shepard whose 1998 kidnapping and murder cast widespread attention on hate crimes against gay people, address a roundtable discussion on "improving the identification and reporting of hate crimes," through the Justice Department’s Hate Crimes Enforcement and Prevention Initiative in Washington, U.S., October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
Judy and Dennis Shepard did not attend, but Cynthia Deitle, a former FBI agent and now an executive with the Matthew Shepard Foundation LGBT rights organization, read a scathing letter they wrote, drawing applause from many in attendance at the event commemorating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
“We find it interesting and hypocritical that he (Barr) would invite us to this event commemorating a hate crime law named after our son and Mr. Byrd, while, at the same time, asking the Supreme Court to allow the legalized firing of transgender employees,” Deitle said, reading from the letter.
Barr’s Justice Department argued at the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 8 on behalf of President Donald Trump’s administration that a landmark decades-old federal anti-discrimination law that bars sex discrimination in the workplace does not cover sexual orientation or gender identity.
Barr was not in attendance, but Deitle made the remarks as Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, sat nearby on the same stage.
“Mr. Barr, you cannot have it both ways. If you believe that employers should have the right to terminate transgender employees, just because they are transgender, then you believe they are lesser than and not worthy of protection. If so, you need not invite us to future events at the Department of Justice,” Deitle said.
The remarks drew applause and a standing ovation from a significant portion of the audience. Deitle said she was standing in for the Shepards because they were traveling.
The Shepards in their letter also said Barr has failed to stand up to discriminatory actions supported by the Trump administration, and urged him to “take a stand as a member of this administration to disavow and condemn any person who fuels the fires of hate with their words and actions.”
The Trump administration also has supported the right of certain businesses to refuse to serve gay people on the basis of religious objections to gay marriage, restricted transgender service members in the military and rescinded protections on bathroom access for transgender students in public schools.
The event got off to a routine start, with Dreiband praising the law signed by Republican Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.
“Prosecuting hate crimes remains a top priority here at the Department of Justice,” Dreiband said, noting that 100 defendants in about 50 cases have been prosecuted under the law since its passage.
A Justice Department spokeswoman disputed the Shepards’ characterization of the administration’s position in the Supreme Court matter.
Matthew Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming in 1998 when was tied to a fence, pistol-whipped and left unconscious for hours in an anti-gay crime. He died a few days later at age 21. That same year, James Byrd Jr., a 49-year-old black man, was murdered by white supremacists in a high-profile racially motivated crime in Texas.
The law named after them criminalized violence committed on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religion, national origin or disability, among other provisions.
Underpinned by strong messages of equality and LGBT+ positivity, Bet4Pride is preparing to enter the UK igaming field as a new white label sportsbook and casino operator licensed through BetConstruct .
The operator has not yet been added to the list of active white labels under BetConstruct’s UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) licence, but if approved will offer a variety of betting and gaming possibilities .
This includes BetConstruct’s industry-leading sportsbook, more than 6,000 casino games and Live Casino.
Bet4Pride is, therefore, ready to deliver its proud audience with a tailored gaming environment and a commitment to donate 10% of its profits to global foundations supporting the LGBT+ community.
Adrianus van Spreeuwel, Founder and CEO of Bet4Pride , said: “This is a very important period for us and we are pleased to announce our partnership with BetConstruct.
“Our mission is to support the global LGBT+ community and now it is strengthened through this dynamic cooperation.”
Vigen Badalyan, BetConstruct’s Founder and CEO , added: “Bet4Pride is a unique project with a powerful message to the world. BetConstruct believes that the commendable efforts put into the creation of this community will prove to reach incredible heights.”
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A boy takes part in a gay pride parade to support LGBT rights in Budapest, Hungary. Helping children see the diversity of the world around them benefits all students, says a US nonprofit promoting education on LGBT issues. Photo: Shutterstock
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Rick Perry (left) and Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson (right). (Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson/ Facebook) The gay minister for the environment and natural resources in Iceland called out the US secretary of energy for his anti-gay views during a meeting last week.
Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson and Rick Perry met on Thursday, October 10, when Perry visited Iceland to attend the Arctic Circle Assembly.
Guðbrandsson said they discussed international cooperation on the climate crisis and the importance of the US rejoining the Paris Agreement, but the gay Icelandic minister also criticised Perry’s anti-gay stance.
On his Facebook page , Guðbrandsson wrote: “At the end of the meeting, I expressed my strong opposition toward his enactment of a law that made same-sex marriage illegal in Texas.
“I told him I am gay and that authorities are, to a large extent, responsible for enacting such a law – that they cannot simply justify it as being the result of a public vote.
“Perry has, among other things, compared homosexuality to alcoholism and is opposed to enabling same-sex couples to adopt children.”
Perry led the charge against gay people being allowed to serve in the military, releasing a notorious ad while running for president in 2012 claiming there’s “something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas”. US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry previously compared homosexuality to alcoholism. (PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP via Getty) He also previously defended a Texas ban on same-sex couples adopting and, according to the Human Rights Campaign , said he would support a federal measure to stop LGBT+ families adopting.
According to Time Magazine , in his 2008 book On My Honor, Perry compared homosexuality with alcoholism.
He wrote: “Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink.
“And, even if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, he or she still makes a choice to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender.”
Barley Mow Bedford’s Barley Mow pub, the longest-established LGBT venue in the country, is looking for a new landlord.
According to owners, Admiral Taverns, the former manager, Dan Fisher ‘handed in his notice’.
The pub was, until recently, run by Dan Fisher who also looked after the Bear in Bedford High Street. Mr Fisher operated numerous pubs throughout the region.
As reported in the Bedford Independent , Mr Fisher had been facing allegations from former staff of unpaid wages, tax and holiday pay.
Following our investigation, new owners have taken over at the Bear, re-employing Hannah Deverick behind the bar and welcoming regulars back.
Read here: ‘The Bear is well and truly back’: Legendary Bedford pub to reopen under new management
A spokesperson from Admiral Taverns said, “We can confirm that the licensee has handed in his notice at the Barley Mow and we are recruiting for the pub.
“It wouldn’t be appropriate to comment further on his personal business at this time.”
The headteacher at the centre of a row over LGBT equality teachings in schools told a court there had been 333% rise in homophobic attacks in a part of Birmingham, blaming the surge on protests outside her school.
Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, who was subjected to almost six hours of cross-examination, made the remarks during the second day of a hearing to rule whether an exclusion zone around Anderton Park primary school banning protests should be made permanent.
The school, in the Sparkhill area of the city, has become the focus of a long campaign to halt LGBT equality messages being taught in the classroom. Birmingham city council launched court action in an attempt to prevent more protests outside the school.
Hewitt-Clarkson said Birmingham East – the area in which the school is located – had seen a significant rise in homophobic hate crimes. Citing figures released by West Midlands police under a freedom of information request, she said there had been six incidents in March 2018. In the following March – the same months the protests began – this figure rose to 26, a 333% increase.
“There was a huge rise in homophobic attacks … some of the behaviour outside the school has legitimised those attacks,” she said.
The protesters’ lawyer, Ramby De Mello, suggested to Hewitt-Clarkson that she had deliberately tried to suggest that protesting parents were “extremists”, and asked about her conversations with counter-extremism chief, Sara Khan.
In her first major report, Khan, who leads the Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE), said Islamist extremists exploited tensions over equality teaching in Birmingham schools to amplify hate against LGBT people.
The report, titled Challenging Hateful Extremism , said anti-LGBT protests held outside two primary schools in the city were being stoked by individuals seeking to foster division.
Hewitt-Clarkson admitted to meeting with Khan on a number of occasions but denied she had portrayed parents as extremists.
“She is the government lead on counter-extremism and she asked me about the events outside my school. What was happening outside my school was unprecedented and horrible. I feel that the situation has been exploited by one or two people who have used extreme language,” she said.
Hewitt-Clarkson went on to remark the school was made up of 94.6% South Asian heritage pupils – mainly of Pakistani Muslim backgrounds. However, she said she believed the majority of parents (85%) were supportive of equality teaching.
Meanwhile, Sophie Taylor, deputy director for due diligence and counter-extremism of the Department for Education, defended the government’s position on equality teaching during the hearing, saying the protests had been disruptive for pupils.
“It would be extremely difficult to run a school where individuals parents are pulling their children out based on specific aspects of what is being taught,” added Taylor, who told the court about a formal complaints procedure if parents wanted to opt out of particular lessons.
Later on the court was shown video footage taken by Claire Evans, deputy headteacher at Anderton Park primary.
The footage taken from inside the school nursery and the playground illustrated the level of noise from protests, which resumed after the summer holidays despite the injunction. On the recording, chants of “headteacher step down” were clearly audible.
Evans also told the court that some staff had been filmed by protesters and had been subjected to online abuse.
Meanwhile, an educational psychologist said the protests had directly attributed to a rise in stress levels among staff at the school. Amanda Daniels from Birmingham city council said teachers felt intimidated and that their “previously happy, contented community” had been disrupted.
“They wanted to do a good job in teaching the children but this was being made difficult because of the noise, and [they] were having difficulty delivering day to day lessons … They were feeling intimidated,” she added.
The temporary injunction bans Shakeel Afsar, his sister Rosina Afsar, who had two children at the school but has since removed them, and Amir Ahmed from coordinating protests outside the school. Separately, the Christian campaigner John Allman, who has joined the court action, said the temporary court ruling infringed his right to free speech.
A man who lived near the school and filmed some of the protests said demonstrators on megaphones compared those from the LGBT community to “dogs and paedophiles”. Tom Brown, who reported the issue to the police, said that, although the comment was not directed at him, it was “offensive”.
“If someone compares me to a dog for my sexuality then I am fairly sure that violates the Equality Act,” he added.
Brown was later recalled to the dock after claiming that one of the defendants made an offensive remark to him after he finished giving evidence.
Jonathan Manning QC asked Brown to explain. Brown indicated towards Allman, claiming he had whispered the word “fag” as he walked past.
Paul Diamond, representing Allman, suggested Brown had misheard. Brown denied this.
The hearing continues.
LGBT groups have slammed the opening of a UK Chick-fil-A restaurant A controversial chicken sandwich chain which detractors say has a "long history of donating to anti- LGBT organisations" has opened its first branch in the UK.
Chick-fil-A was subject to a boycott in the US following public comments made by its chief operating officer Dan Cathy that appeared to take a stance against same-sex marriage.
Mr Cathy stated on US radio programme The Ken Coleman Show in 2012 that defining marriage differently to the bible was akin to "shaking a fist at God".
He said: "I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’.
"I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about."
These comments prompted a US wide boycott of the chain.
However, the group actually saw a 12 per cent sales increase in the year after the boycott began.
Chick-fil-A has also been accused of donating millions of dollars to groups seen as hostile to LGBT rights.
The group’s opening of a restaurant in The Oracle, Reading, sees it expand into the UK for the first time.
The move was criticised by LGBT groups in the UK.
Joe Nellist from LGBT Foundation said: “Chick-fil-A have a long and troubling history of donating to anti-LGBT organisations, threatening the hard won rights of LGBT people in the United States.
"A commitment to equality and diversity should be part of the core values and ethos of any organisation.” Read more Stonewall, an LGBT rights group, said that the backlash showed that consumers wanted to use their clout to "support equality".
A Stonewall spokesperson said: ‘The reaction to this news from the LGBT community and allies shows that more and more consumers want to use their platform and business clout to support organisations and businesses who actively support LGBT equality.
"Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people still face discrimination and hatred simply because of who they are, and when businesses get behind LGBT equality, they can make a huge difference."
A spokesman for Chick-fil-A told the Standard: "We hope our guests in the UK will see that Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on serving great food and hospitality, and does not have a social or political agenda.
"We are represented by more than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs, and we welcome everyone."
The Standard has approached Chick-fil-A for comment.
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The restaurant in Reading’s Oracle shopping centre opened on 10 October LGBT campaigners are calling for a boycott of a popular US restaurant chain’s first UK branch.
Chick-fil-A, the third-largest fast-food chain in the US, made its British restaurant debut last week in the Oracle shopping centre in Reading.
But campaigners say the chain supports anti-LGBT groups, and in 2012 the company’s chairman sparked a US boycott when he said he opposed gay marriage.
Chick-fil-A said it was focused on great food and genuine hospitality.
The food chain, founded in 1967, boasts about 2,400 outlets in the US and Canada.
According to US news website Think Progress, in 2017 the Chick-fil-A Foundation donated millions of dollars to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Paul Anderson Youth Home and the Salvation Army. ‘Sum of many experiences’
Campaigners say all three organisations have a reputation of being hostile to LGBT+ rights.
Among those who would like to see the restaurant close is Jennie Rigg, former chair of the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats.
She told the BBC: "In terms of ethical shopping, I’m not going to give my money to a company that will give their money to people who want to eradicate people like me."
Chick-fil-A told the BBC: "Our giving has always focused on youth and education. We have never donated with the purpose of supporting a social or political agenda.
"There are 145,000 people – black, white; gay, straight; Christian, non-Christian – who represent Chick-fil-A.
" We are the sum of many experiences, but what we all have in common is a commitment to providing great food, genuine hospitality, and a welcoming environment to all of our guests."
It added that it stopped donating to the Paul Anderson Youth Home in 2017.
The Salvation Army said: "It is simply not the case that The Salvation Army wants to eradicate anyone.
"We are a church and charity that supports some of the most vulnerable people in society."
It added: "We oppose any discrimination, marginalisation or persecution of any person.
"We find no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for any reason."
A statement from the Oracle said it was proud to offer an inclusive space where members of the community can come together.
Dawn Butler (L) (Antony Jones/Getty) and Liz Truss (R) (Carl Court/Getty) Labour MP Dawn Butler has slammed Conservative minister for women and equalities Liz Truss over the government’s failure to reform the Gender Recognition Act.
Butler made the comments in a letter to Truss after new statistics revealed that there was a 37 percent surge in transphobic hate crimes between April 2018 and March 2019.
Writing in the letter, shadow women and equalities secretary Butler called the new statistics “deeply worrying”. She said she was “disappointed” that there was no mention of reforming the Gender Recognition Act in the Queen’s speech in parliament earlier this week. Labour MP Dawn Butler: Government has missed ‘another opportunity to act’.
“It’s frustrating that the government have missed another opportunity to act and have once again failed the LGBT+ community,” Butler wrote.
She continued: “I am concerned that the government is not taking transgender issues seriously; today’s figures are alarming and provide further evidence on the need to act now – the government should stop dragging its feet and just reform the act.”
Furthermore, Butler asked Truss to confirm when the government will announce plans to reform the GRA. She also said that Truss must not use the fact that she was only appointed women and equalities minister in September as an excuse to kick the can even further down the road. I am concerned that the government is not taking transgender issues seriously. “The fact that we are now two years on from the announcement that the act would be reformed, and nearly a year on from the close of the consultation means that the government is creating another dangerous void.
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“There has been increasing anti-trans rhetoric in the press, including misinformation regarding what a change in the law would mean. This has created an unnecessary moral panic about a community that already experiences high levels of hate crime, poor mental health and exclusion.” Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities Dawn Butler (Jack Taylor/Getty) She finished her letter by calling the government’s stalling on reform “irresponsible governance”.
“The onus is on the government to put this right – reform is needed now.” Gender recognition act needs reform
The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) was first introduced in 2004 but is in urgent need of reform. The current Act insists that trans people be diagnosed with gender dysphoria. They must also prove that they have been living in their gender for two years or more.
The process – which was once called “overly bureaucratic and invasive” by former prime minister Theresa May – is so cumbersome that many trans people don’t even engage with it.
The government’s public consultation on the act wrapped up almost a year ago, but officials have stalled in implementing change.