Two Marines In Hot Water For Social Media Post, Photo Threatening Gay Bars

Two Marines are in hot water with their superiors for a Facebook post that has been interpreted as taunting the victims of the Orlando massacre, NBC News is reporting. In a Facebook post that has since been deleted, a Marine corporal, whose name has not been released to the media as of this writing, can be seen holding a rifle with his fingers on the trigger. The message “Coming to a gay bar near you!” is written on the picture. West Coast Marines under investigation for social media post threatening attack on gay bars https://t.co/W7QHAQM4FS — Marine Corps Times (@Marinetimes) June 16, 2016 The post has been interpreted as a threat against gay bars, considering that it came just a few days after a gunman shot and killed 49 people, and injured 50 others, at the Pulse night club, a popular gay bar in Orlando, Florida. The corporal who posed for the picture, and the other Marine who posted it, whose rank has not been made public, both belong to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, which is based in Camp Pendleton, California. Marine’s Jaw-Dropping Photo: ‘Coming to Gay Bar Near You’. 1st Marine Expeditionary Force … https://t.co/9ZwIV3fgwk pic.twitter.com/IEx8VD88Uo — 1230WSOK (@1230WSOK) June 17, 2016 In a statement, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (1 EMF) confirmed that the two Marines are being investigated for the post. “[The Marine Corps does not] tolerate discrimination based on ual orientation, race, gender or religion. We are currently investigating a threatening social media post and will take appropriate action. This type of behavior and mindset will not be allowed, and it is not consistent with the core values of honor, courage and commitment that are demonstrated by the vast majority of Marines on a daily basis.” Speaking to Marine Times, First Lt. Thomas Gray, a spokesman for I MEF, also confirmed that the two Marines are under investigation. “We cannot discuss details of an ongoing investigation, but I can tell you the command is taking this incident seriously.” According to the Marine Corps’ “Unofficial Guidance for Social Media Posts,” Marines are asked to avoid making threatening or offensive posts on social media, although the punishment for such posts remains unclear. “Marines should avoid offensive and inappropriate behavior that could bring discredit upon themselves and the Marine Corps. This behavior includes posting any defamatory, libelous, obscene, abusive, threatening, racially or ethnically hateful, or otherwise offensive or illegal information or material.” However, if the Marines’ post can be considered a violation of federal law – for example, if it meets the federal definition of a “terroristic threat” – then the two Marines could face a court-martial. “A Marine who violates Federal law, regulations or policies through inappropriate personal online activity is subject to disciplinary action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).” However, as FreeAdvice Legal explains, determining that a social media post counts as a “terroristic threat” is difficult to prove in a court of law. The problem is that social media posts are generally considered protected free speech under the First Amendment, so it’s up to the courts to prove that the person making the post specifically intended the post to cause harm. “People make casual threats every day. To separate the playful threats from the serious or disturbing ones, states add a component requiring that the intent of the threat to be for some specific, illegal purpose.” It is not clear, however, if the military’s definition of “terroristic threat,” and the burden of proof for the courts, is different from those of civilian courts. Do you believe the Marines who posted a photo that appears to threaten gay bars committed a crime? [Image via Shutterstock/JaysonPhotography]

GOP-Led States Make Case For Transgender Bathroom Law In Fort Worth

While the 2016 election shows the battle between Republicans and Democrats in their race to the White House, transgender bathroom laws continues the fight between Republican state legislatures and the Obama administration in the courts, starting with the state of Texas who are leading the fight as they went to court Today to make their argument against the federal government, saying that that the Obama administration is outside the law by ordering schools to accommodate their bathrooms to transgender students. This will be the first hearing on the transgender bathroom issue with U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, where another fight is based between the state and the Fort Worth Independent School District’s Superintendent Kent Scribner, who implemented a rule allowing transgender students access to bathrooms depending on their gender identity. The state of Texas is leads the fight along with 12 other states, which includes North Carolina, who put themselves in the headlines when they passed the H2B law earlier this year. The lawsuit was triggered when the Department of Education and the Department of Justice submitted guidelines to schools nationwide, saying that they would be in violation of Title IX for discriminating against transgender students following North Carolina’s deadline to change their HB2 law before the DOJ filed a lawsuit against them. Attorney General Loretta Lynch of the Department of Justice at a press conference in May, takes legal action against North Carolina for transgender bathroom law. [Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on at places that receive federal funding. The guidelines extend the discrimination to transgender students, which is why the case is expected to point out the distinction between gender identity and biological . Many businesses began to move away from North Carolina in protest of the transgender bathroom law, and very recently the NBA was planning to hold their event there this year and even put pressure on the state to change their law, but the legislatures did very little to make those changes, resulting in the NBA moving their event to another city, further infuriating the state. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Sirius XM radio at the?RNC convention. [Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM]Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton followed Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s call to fire back at the federal government, and moved quickly with the lawsuit even requesting that the ruling period be expedited before the 2016-2017 school year. Reuters reported on a similar hearing which took place on the first of August, where the same media source also reported on the Judge’s question as to what exactly the law was protecting. The states fighting the administration over the transgender law other than North Carolina and Texas are Maine, Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Georgia and Utah. According to Yellow Hammer, Alabama might have more success with their transgender bathroom law as the state’s attorney general Luther Strange has told the school districts to ignore the federal government’s letter, even as they ask along with the other states to put a stop to the president’s order. Resistance in North Carolina against #HB2, the "bathroom bill" discriminating transgender people. #WeAreNotThis pic.twitter.com/BkViGXMlhF — Clichette (@RymKh) August 7, 2016 The leading argument in support of the transgender law is that by allowing transgender people to use the bathrooms according to the gender they identify with, puts the public at risk where offenders or criminals will take advantage of the situation and go into a woman’s restroom making it unsafe for them. It has also been said that the Obama administration is pandering to a fringe group of people and therefore creating a “social experiment.” LGBT and civil rights groups have fired back saying that the transgender bathroom laws — which appear to have caught onto the mentioned states like wild-fire — are discriminatory and have also posed the argument for transgender students who identify with the female gender, going into a boy’s restroom. According to the Dallas News the George W. Bush appointed judge said they would not make a ruling today but would as soon as possible saying, “rest assured, I’m working on it.” There have been some reports of lawmakers suggesting that transgender people could be beaten, if they do enter the “wrong” restroom, which has only created more anger against the law. [Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images]

Jeremy Jordan: 'Supergirl' Star Launches 'Save Sarah' Campaign To 'Free' Teen Cousin From 'Pray Away The Gay' Camp

Supergirl star Jeremy Jordan started the “Save Sarah” campaign to “free” his gay teen cousin from a Christian “pray away the gay” camp. Sarah was sent to the Christian boarding school for a year by her parents after the 17-year-old lesbian wanted to take her girlfriend to prom. Jeremy Jordan started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the court case his mother, Sarah’s aunt, initiated to usurp the right of the parents to send their daughter to the Christian boarding school. The camp is reportedly located in a rural region near Austin. Sarah allegedly tried to escape from the pray the gay away camp but was “caught” by staff. During the year the Supergirl star’s cousin will spend at the Christian camp, she is not permitted to use the phone, computer, or have any visitors, the Daily Mail reports. Heartlight Ministries is a state-licensed boarding school. “We offer help and hope to parents and teens in a broken world,” the Heartlight Ministries website says. Family of Texas teen launch #SaveSarah campaign to release her from ‘pray away the gay’ camp https://t.co/xwGEVIW9Ek pic.twitter.com/HfgNh48Oqe — Independent US (@IndyUSA) June 8, 2016 “My amazing friends & fans, PLEASE help us save my sweet gay cousin Sarah who’s trapped at a boarding facility in TX,” Jeremy Jordan tweeted last week. Jordan, who plays the character, Winn Schott, on the CBS Supergirl series, posted this Save Sarah message on Facebook: “I can’t believe beautiful, smart, incredible kids like my cousin Sarah are still being told that being gay is wrong. But it’s worse than that for Sarah… She’s been placed at a remote boarding facility to help ‘pray away the gay’ for a year with no communication to the outside world. She may not be able to see it now, but please show her how much she matters and take a stand to help us free this wonderful young woman and welcome her back to a world of love and acceptance.” During an interview with the New York Daily News, Julie Moody, a representative from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, declined to comment on an open investigation, but did confirm Jeremy Jordan’s cousin Sarah, is enrolled at Heartlight Ministries. #SaveSarah really needs us! Let’s show her there is hope & that she can live as her authentic self! https://t.co/6jhgdO51ff @JeremyMJordan — Sydney Lucas (@SydneyLucasNYC) June 8, 2016 Heartlight Ministries has reportedly been in operation for 25 years. The Texas Christian boarding school’s website also states it provides a “safe haven for positive change.” Students who attend the Austin area school include teenagers who are “struggling” and need to “develop healthier patterns,” the Christian school’s website also states. The school reportedly boasts 40 staff members and is situated on about 150 acres. There are reportedly 56 students attending the Christian camp. Another Save Sarah from the pray the gay away camp social media post by Jeremy Jordan reads: “My cousin Sarah, like any other teenager, loves a shameless selfie… It’s just sometimes hers includes another girl… You can’t see it, but the caption of the photo on the left reads ‘Merry Christmas from two kids in love.’ It BREAKS MY HEART this sweet young girl who’s only ‘issue’ is loving another girl has been sent to a facility for ‘troubled teens.’ News flash, folks, there’s nothing wrong with her.’ The Save Sarah GoFundMe page claims her parents sent her to the Christian boarding school to garner “Bible-based therapy” to treat her “disease.” “Sarah’s parents, who believe that homouality is a sin and abnormal, sent Sarah away against her will to an East Texas Christian boarding facility for troubled teens to ‘pray away the gay,’” the GoFundMe Save Sarah campaign page also states. The campaign raised more than $48,000 in four days. The page has a stated goal of $100,000. The LGBT rights-focused campaign organizers maintain the court case filed by the mother of Jeremy Jordan has already accrued $20,000 in legal expenses. Any money not used to battle the gay Texas teen’s parents in court will reportedly be put into a college fund for Sarah. What do you think of the Save Sarah campaign launched by Supergirl actor Jeremy Jordan? [Image by Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP]

Donald Trump Surprise: President-Elect Supports LGBT Community, Holds Rainbow Flag At Colorado Rally 'LGBT For Trump'

It is no surprise that a large portion of U.S. citizens are unhappy with the outcome of the Presidential election, but there is one surprise that may just make some a bit more accepting of Donald Trump. The President-Elect does, indeed, support the LGBT community, and even held a rainbow flag at a Colorado rally that said, “LGBT for Trump.” President Trump is the first Republican President ever to embrace gay equality, Washington Times reports. While the media is too busy calling President-Elect Trump racist, ist, and every other negative stereotype, causing many to dislike him, they failed to mention that President Trump proudly supports gay equality. Hillary Clinton: Donald Trump Has 'Terrible' Record On LGBT Rights https://t.co/m38GfXaXmo — The Equality Mantra (@EqualityMantra) November 2, 2016 The moment was nothing more than historic. Donald Trump walked onto the stage. People in the crowd were hooting and hollering with joy. When President Trump noticed a rainbow flag in the audience that read, “LGBT for Trump,” he asked if he could see it. Next thing you know, Donald Trump was walking around the stage proudly holding the rainbow flag in effort to show his support for the gay community. Jason Miller, a spokesperson for President-Elect Trump, told reporters that Donald Trump was proud to carry that flag. “Mr. Trump is campaigning to be President for ALL Americans and was proud to carry the ‘LGBT for Trump’ rainbow flag on stage in Greeley, CO yesterday. He will protect all Americans from the radical Islamic extremists who perpetuate hate and violence around the world, unlike Hillary Clinton who dangerously plans for open borders and has accepted millions of dollars from repressive regimes with a history of violence, discrimination and oppression against women, gays and minorities.” [Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images] MSNBC reveals that Chuck Todd, the “Meet the Press” host, asked President-Elect Trump whether he thinks companies should be able to fire employees for their ual orientation. Donald Trump replied that he DIDN’T believe that workers should be let go simply for their ual orientation. This is no huge surprise, as this isn’t the first time Donald Trump has expressed support for anti-discrimination against the LGBT community. As far back as the year 2000, President-Elect Trump was publicly recommending that the 1964 Civil Rights Act in order to protect the LGBT community from discrimination based on ual orientation. In February 2000, Donald Trump made this supporting statement. “Amending the Civil Rights Act would grant the same protection to gay people that we give to other Americans – it’s only fair.” In July, President-Elect Trump spoke to the Republican National Committee (RNC) in Ohio in regards to his support for the gay community. Thousands cheered as Donald voiced his support, and even took a moment to thank everyone during his nomination speech. This was the first time ever that a Republican Presidential nominee shared support for the gay community within their nominee speech. In the same interview, President-Elect Trump also announced his support for same- marriages. He believes that same- couples should have the same rights as heteroual couples. Further, Donald Trump outlined within his book, The America That We Deserve, how he dreamed of a nation that was “unencumbered by bureaucratic ineptitude, government regulation, confiscatory tax policies, racism, discrimination against women, or discrimination against people based on ual orientation.” So there you have it, folks. Donald Trump, despite all the negative stereotypes that the media has given him, is not as terrible as you may have once thought he was. [Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images] Today, President-Elect Trump met with President Obama at the White house. The meeting, according to Donald Trump, went very well. According to NBC News, he and President Obama discussed a large variety of issues, as well as what progress has been made throughout his Presidency. Most importantly, President Obama stressed the importance of a peaceful transition. “It is not secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy.” [Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]

Orlando Shooting Victim: Driver Gets Impatient During Funeral Traffic, Crashes Into Deputies

A Florida driver, apparently feeling impatient while waiting behind a line of traffic, attempted to cut through when she saw an opening, but ended up slamming into two deputies who were assisting one of the Orlando shooting victim’s funeral proceedings. New York Daily News reports that two Osceola County deputies were on their patrol motorcycles, leading funeral traffic to a grave site located in Kissimmee, Florida, when a female driver tried to pass through traffic at around 11:30 a.m. According to Kim Montes, spokesperson for the Florida Highway Patrol, the woman saw an opening passing traffic, and took her chances. Yet, she ended up crashing her 1997 Honda into the deputies. “This was not on purpose. This was someone who got impatient….She is at fault in this crash. You can’t pull out in a funeral procession.” Driver plows through funeral procession for Pulse shooting victim. FHP says chargers are pending. @news965wdbo pic.twitter.com/FspT70rbKv — Christy (@WOKVChristy) June 18, 2016 According to Director of Public and Media Relations at the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Twis Lizasuain, “Earlier today, two Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies assigned to the Motor Unit were struck by a motorist who, for whatever reason, refused to wait for a passing funeral escort. The funeral procession was for a victim of the Pulse Nightclub incident. Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the traffic crash.” NBC reports that both officers were rushed to a local hospital. One is stable condition while the other officer is listed in critical condition. The driver wasn’t injured, and will likely face charges the accident. All vehicles involved had substantial damage after the crash, resulting in several streets being temporarily closed off. The identities of the deputies and the female driver haven’t been released yet. Driver of car saw gap in line and tried to cross. Deputies collided w/car when it unexpectedly crossed intersection. pic.twitter.com/MWVy82POd9 — Field Sutton (@FSuttonWFTV) June 18, 2016 The funeral procession was for one of the 49 victims who lost their lives last week during the 2 a.m., Sunday shooting at Orlando’s Pulse, a nightclub for the LGBT community. The incident marked the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. So far, it’s unclear who the funeral proceedings were for. Montes indicated that the crash left an emotional toil on the driver, who asked to be sent to the hospital, apparently because she was upset after the incident. “She was distraught after the crash and wanted to be checked out.” Earlier this week, several other funerals were held for other Orlando shooting victims, including a joint funeral for couple Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon and Jean Carlo Mendez-Perez. The two men were dressed in matching coffins, with two large pictures propped up beside each casket. Rev. Agustin Lopez of Mission La Cosecha Church led the emotional service. He encouraged the attendees to hold on to each other and remember the victims. “Hold onto each other. We will remember our sons as the blessings that they were meant to be when God gave them to us.” Meanwhile, security continues to heighten for gay pride and LGBT clubs and events across the nation. At Southern Nights, a different LGBT club in the Orlando area, a new rule was implemented that will require two deputies in front of the club each and every night. Club owners also hired a security company that will install a metal detector and handle any pat downs and bag checks. According to the club’s Facebook page, “Southern Nights has been a home to the LGBT Community for 40 years. It is, and will continue to be a place for all people to feel comfortable and always welcome. We promise that we will do everything in our power to keep it this way.” NYPD plans to take added measures to ensure the safety of the LGBT community. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) In Chicago, additional police are expected to be on hand during this weekend’s gay pride parade, and in New York City, NYPD announced that in light of the Orlando Shooting, additional police presence and security will take place for all LGBT events and at LGBT clubs. According to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, “There will be lots of additional police presence at all these events, particularly presence of our new critical response command, which is the largest anti-terror force of any police force in the country. So you will see the NYPD out in force keeping us safe.” [Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

North Carolina School Board To Allow Student To Carry Pepper Spray, Calls It "A Pretty Valuable Tool" In Regards To HB2 Anti-LGBT Law

A North Carolina school board has decided to allow students to carry pepper spray, mace, razors, and other “purely defensive” items, according to a report from the Salisbury Post. The discussion of whether to allow such “defensive” weapons on campus is a continuation of a debate from April. Arguments in favor of amending the language ranged from, according to board chairman Josh Wagner, not wanting to punish students because they “just happened to forget to check their purse every single day,” to a comment from board member Chuck Hughes that “may be a pretty valuable tool to have” if the anti-LGBT HB2 law is struck down by a federal lawsuit. “Depending on how the courts rule on the bathroom issues, it may be a pretty valuable tool to have on the female students if they go to the bathroom, not knowing who may come in.” North Carolina is currently locked in a legal battle over their discriminatory anti-trans HB2 law. [Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]Opponents argued that the sprays could absolutely be used in something other than a defensive role; the board’s lawyer, Ken Soo, noted that there had been several instances of students macing teachers. It’s a point that bears examination. Anyone born in the last century is aware that high school bathrooms are often focal points for bullying and violence – and transgender students are at more risk than most. Mic reports that, while there are both no credible cases of a transgender person attacking anyone in a bathroom, and no indication that transgender bathroom rights lead to any increase in ual assaults, roughly 70% of transgender people have reported being denied access to, assaulted, or harassed when trying to use a bathroom. Meanwhile, TIME notes that transgender people are being murdered at historically-high rates, and the Human Rights Commission recently highlighted the incidence of violence and harassment against trans teens. So perhaps it is not unrealistic to assume that those weapons might be used in something other than a defensive capacity; and transgender people are badly outnumbered. While hard numbers are very hard to come by, most estimates indicate that perhaps 1 in 100 people in America is openly transgender or gender non-conforming. Board member Travis Allen was one of the more outspoken members in favor of altering board policies 5027 and 4333, the policies regarding weapons and other threats to safety, eventually trotting out the tired old “everything is a weapon” argument, alongside a supporting fact that he “imagine[d].” “I imagine every football game there is on Friday night there’s more pepper spray in the stands in pocketbooks and key chains and you know, we never have an issue with it.” “I could do more damage with my laptop than I could with a bottle of pepper spray, it’s just a non-issue.” Allen went on to argue that the same damage could be done with a spray bottle of Windex or ammonia. The effects of pepper spray are actually rather more emphatic than Windex, which is why police don’t carry Windex to the scene of a riot. [Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]Unfortunately, the board ultimately decided to allow students to carry mace, pepper spray, or other varieties of defensive spray. At which point, Chairman Wagner turned the discussion to razors. As per RT, the school board also decided to allow students to carry razors (disposable only) with the stipulation that they were allowed for personal shaving reasons only, which surely every high school student is inclined to do in a school bathroom. Allen said that “I don’t want to put the students in this weird situation when they didn’t really do anything, they just happened to forget to check their purse every single day.” But isn’t safety and responsibility exactly why these policies exist in the first place? [Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images]

Gay 'Kiss-In' Held For Same- Couple Told Off By Sainsbury's Security Guard For Holding Hands

British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s made headlines last week after a gay couple were admonished by a security guard for “touching inappropriately” in the store by holding hands. According to the BBC, the guard pulled the couple, 32-year-old Thomas Rees and 25-year-old Joshua Bradwell aside, informing them that a customer had made a complaint about their behavior. Today in response, a veritable mob of gay and lesbian couples, bearing Pride flags descended up on the London Sainsbury’s Local on Hackney Road to hold a “mass kiss-in” in protest. There are worse ways to protest. [Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images]According to Metro, an estimated 200 people showed up to attend the protest, dancing outside the store before heading in to pledge their support to Rees and Bradwell before beginning the protest in earnest. The couple took time to thank their supporters before emphatically joining in. “The number that turned out was absolutely insane, we were not expecting this at all,” said Bradwell. Rees added that “We were right to be holding hands because when someone questions your behaviour in such a direct manner you can’t help but analyse how you are perceived by society.” The original incident occurred on Monday, August 10, when the couple had just finished shopping and were on their way to exit the store. Rees said that “in East London it’s not uncommon but we noticed the security guard staring” before he took them aside, calling them over “with a finger” as they were on their way out, asking them to follow him outside. Rees wondered at first if he’d put something in his pocket by mistake. “My boyfriend and I went to our local Sainsbury’s holding hands as we normally do, just general public displays of affection and we didn’t notice anything untoward or weird.” When we got outside I was ready to apologise and then he said a customer had complained about our behaviour. My blood boiled. I was shaking and dumbfounded and unable to respond. He kept repeating the customer felt our behaviour was inappropriate. It’s really knocked me for six and I’ve spent the last day or so analysing how I’m perceived.” Upon learning of the incident over Twitter, Sainsbury’s attempted to apologize and offered the couple a £10 voucher. Rees responded that he would prefer a phone call explaining their diversity training for staff members. “I wanted an apology, not messages on Twitter. It’s not about the money.” Sainsbury’s is the second-largest supermarket chain in the United Kingdom. [Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]Sainsbury’s did offer a formal apology, stating that they were an inclusive employer and did not tolerate discrimination, but making it clear that they placed the blame on their “security contractor” for the lapse. Rees, for his part, said that he felt sympathetic toward the security guard. “I do feel for the security guard because he was clearly unable or poorly equipped to handle these situations.” Rees has called upon Sainsbury’s to address their diversity training for both staff and contractors, as this is not the first time Sainsbury’s has been called out over LGBT discrimination – and not the first time a kiss-in protest has been held. As per The Guardian, in 2014, a similar protest was held at a Brighton Sainsbury’s, when a lesbian couple were asked to leave after one woman kissed her partner briefly on the cheek. The culprit? A security guard, employed by a third-party security contractor. At the time, Sainsbury’s stated that the incident “should not have happened” and stressed that the guard was employed by a contractor, and their commitment to diversity. Others have come forward to iterate similar experiences after what happened to Rees and Bradwell. One can only hope that if Sainsbury’s is truly committed to diversity and non-discrimination, they will reconsider their choice of security contractors in the future. [Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]

Georgia Judge Refuses To Allow Transgender Man To Legally Change His Name

Lawyers for a transgender Georgia man filed an appeal this week after a judge has refused his request to legally change his name, saying his choice of name would be “too masculine” and potentially even dangerous, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting. 24-year-old Rowan Feldhaus of Grovetown, Georgia, is biologically female and was born Rebecca Elizabeth. However, the Army Reserves Sergeant and Augusta University student identifies as male and is currently seeing a therapist, taking hormones, and otherwise working on transitioning to male. We’re urging a Georgia court to grant Rowan Feldhaus his name change: https://t.co/yBp5Qi5pXp #LGBT #TransRights pic.twitter.com/BCjeJFL6GH — Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) June 9, 2016 Back in February, Rowan legally petitioned to change his name from Rebecca Elizabeth to Rowan Elijah. Along with his petition, he submitted a statement from his therapist confirming that he’s transgender and confirming that changing his name is “crucial” for treating his gender dysphoria. Nevertheless, in March, Columbia County Superior Court Judge J. David Roper denied Feldhaus’ request. Specifically, he took exception to Rowan’s choice of Elijah – the name of an Old Testament prophet – as a middle name. “I don’t know anybody named Elijah who’s female. I’m not going to do that. I’ve never heard of that. And I know who Elijah was, one of the greatest men that ever lived. I do not approve of changing names from male to female – male names to obvious female names, and vice versa.” PHOTO: Judge J. David Roper talking with NBC 26 about his concerns with Columbia County Clerk of Court Cindy Mason.. pic.twitter.com/MWzdSaBulA — TVParkCSRA (@TVParkCSRA) June 17, 2015 The judge did allow that he has no problem with Feldhaus’ choice of first name – Rowan – saying that it is gender-neutral. Roper then went further in his order, noting that he personally believes that “allowing” a person to identify and present as the opposite from their birth creates a host of problems, both for the transgender individual and society at large. Those problems include restroom safety for the individual as well as unsupervised children in the restrooms; and possible confusion from emergency personnel, insurance writers, and other situations where a person’s name and gender may conflict. Rowan said that he felt “insulted” and “objectified” by the judge’s ruling and said that he should legally be allowed to use the same name that he, his friends, and his family already use. “It can be a scary situation when I show up for work or the first day of class and my legal name does not match my public presentation and my gender identity. I just want to change my name so that it reflects who I am.” In their appeal filed this week, Feldhaus’ lawyers argued that the judge over-stepped his bounds when denying Rowan’s name change. Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Beth Littrell said that the judge’s decision defies legal precedent and common sense. First, there is no legal precedent that requires transgender people to choose gender-neutral names when they petition the courts for name changes. Second, she said that requiring Rowan to choose a gender-neutral name violates his First Amendment right to freedom of expression. “That’s discrimination plain and simple. It really shows that the judge is making it up as he goes along and not following the rules of the law.” This is not the first time that a judge has refused to allow a transgender individual to legally change their name. On at least two occasions, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Oklahoma judge Bill Graves refused to allow people born female but who identified as male to change their names, citing the Bible. “It is notable that Genesis 1:27-28 states: ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female he created them.’ The DNA code shows God meant for them to stay male and female.” In both cases appellate courts later reversed Graves’ rulings. Do you think a judge should be allowed to deny a transgender person’s request to change their name? [Image via Shutterstock/chrupka]

Donald Trump On LGBT Issues: Poised To Be First President To Appoint An Openly Gay Cabinet Member

President-elect Donald Trump has been blasted by the media and many on the left for being “racist, ist and homophobic.” However, is the 45th President of the United States really the divisive figure that has been plastered on the television screen these past few months? Looking back at Trump’s past interviews (pre-presidency), presidential campaign statements and purported cabinet short-list, it appears that the candidate may not only be an LGBT advocate, but the advocate that the Democrats have failed to give the LGBT community in the past. In fact, Trump’s LGBT stance seems to be by most accounts more liberal than conservative providing a gateway for the LGBT community into a more accepting Republican party. To fully understand Trump’s stance on the LGBT community, we must look to his actions and interviews prior to throwing his hat into the presidential race. While many politicians on the left campaign on a platform of LGBT rights, many in the community have felt their voices have been marginalized as LGBT issues are placed on the back burner by the very party claiming to cater policy to their needs. Trump actually blasted politicians openly for their stance on LGBT issues and gave a very blunt interview to the Advocate magazine, a publication that caters to the LGBT community. In the interview from 2000, Trump notes that he judges each person their “capability, honesty, and merit” and says that the lifestyle of those talented individuals is of no interest to him. “I grew up in New York City, a town with different races, religions, and peoples. It breeds tolerance. In all truth, I don’t care whether or not a person is gay. I judge people based on their capability, honesty, and merit. Being in the entertainment business — that is, owning casinos and … several large beauty pageants — I’ve worked with many gay people. I have met some tough, talented, capable, terrific people. Their lifestyle is of no interest to me.” He went on to say that he supports the amendment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that would ban discrimination based on ual orientation. He goes on to show support for gays in the military noting that the “don’t ask don’t tell” doesn’t work and that we should follow the lead of other European countries in this regard. “Gay people serve effectively in the military in a number of European countries. There is no reason why they can’t serve in the United States……I favor a total reorganization of all branches of our military, and I would address the gay question more forthrightly within that reorganization.” Trump doubled-down on his assertion calling Bush a disappointment for not passing a hate-crime bill. “This is one of my great disappointments with George W. Bush. He had the opportunity in Texas to show national leadership by passing a hate-crimes bill but didn’t — presumably from pressure from the Christian right. When somebody is victimized because of their ethnicity, the color of their skin, or their ual orientation, that must carry a harsh penalty.” The Advocate even asked Trump, if he were to ever become president, would a gay person be included the Trump Administration. The businessman stuck to his guns noting that he doesn’t care what the ual orientation of an individual is, he picks the best and the brightest regardless of their personal lifestyle choices. “I would want the best and brightest. ual orientation would be meaningless. I’m looking for brains and experience. If the best person for the job happens to be gay, I would certainly appoint them. One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don’t go into government. I’d want to change that.” Though the interview was given 16 years ago, it seems Trump hasn’t changed his opinion on the hiring of people in the LGBT community. In fact, Trump has placed openly gay Richard Grenell on his short list of potential candidates for the position of UN Ambassador. If Trump brings Grenell on as U.N. Ambassador, the Gateway Pundit notes that he will become the first president to appoint an openly gay person to his cabinet, marking a huge milestone for LGBT rights in the United States. Similarly, Trump was the first Republican candidate to have an openly gay individual speak on his behalf at the Republican National Convention. Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, who is also openly gay, spoke at the RNC in support of Trump. Grenell has not been shy about his support of Trump and says that the media has ignored many of the LGBT milestones that took place this election because it didn’t “fit their narrative.” In an op-ed for the Washington Times, Grenell says that no other Republican candidate in history has embraced the LGBT community like Trump. Grenell notes that Trump proudly held a flag for gay equality at one of this rallies but that the media simply ignored it or refused to report it. “On Sunday, at a rally in Colorado, Mr. Trump proudly held up a rainbow flag with the words ‘LGBT for Trump’ written on it to a cheering crowd of thousands. It was an historic moment for gay equality and the Party of Lincoln as the 2016 GOP nominee for President of the United States held high the flag for gay equality. No other Republican Presidential nominee in history has embraced the LGBT community in such a loud and proud way. And yet, the moment was barely reported by the media despite the fact it happened in front of the traveling press corps accompanying Mr. Trump. Political reporters, not unsurprising, largely failed to write on the moment where a Republican challenged their negative media stereotype.” Trump’s campaign spokesman Jason Miller also confirmed that Trump doesn’t care about anyone’s ual orientation, he wants to be a president for all Americans. He says Trump was proud to hold that flag and that he wants to help protect minorities, women and gays from the repressive regimes of the past. Trump made history last night. MSM wants to pretend it didn’t happen. He’s the most pro-LGBT Pres candidate ever nominated by either party pic.twitter.com/tH1fXcKNIp — Chris Barron (@ChrisRBarron) October 31, 2016 “Mr. Trump is campaigning to be President for ALL Americans and was proud to carry the ‘LGBT for Trump’ rainbow flag on stage in Greeley, CO yesterday. He will protect all Americans from the radical Islamic extremists who perpetuate hate and violence around the world, unlike Hillary Clinton who dangerously plans for open borders and has accepted millions of dollars from repressive regimes with a history of violence, discrimination and oppression against women, gays and minorities.” To further ensure representation of the gay community, Trump has added Peter Thiel to his presidential transition team. Therefore, it seems that the president-elect is at least paving the way for more LGBT involvement in the Republican Party moving forward. What do you think about the possibility of Trump appointing the first openly gay person to a presidential cabinet in history? [Featured Image via John Minchillo/AP Photo]

Stonewall Is Now National LGBT Monument – Obama Designates Location As First National Monument Which Was Birthplace Of Modern Gay Rights Movement

President Obama designated the Stonewall Inn and surrounding area as the first official national monument to LGBT rights. Recognizing the location in Manhattan as the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, Obama ensured it would be protected under federal regulations. The Stonewall National Monument in New York City is the first officially recognized addition to the National Park System that is associated with the LGBT community. The monument recognizes the struggles the community had to endure to secure a position in the modern society. Incredible news! Thank you @POTUS – President Obama Designates Stonewall a National Monument https://t.co/WRiULr0w8Q #LGBTQ #Historic — It Gets Better (@ItGetsBetter) June 24, 2016 The tiny 7.78 acres of land in Manhattan comprising of Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn, and the surrounding streets and sidewalks, will fall under federal protection and be designated as a national monument, reported NBC News. Incidentally, the boundaries etched in the proclamation that was signed by President Barack Obama are the same that comprise the existing Stonewall National Historic Landmark established in 2000. .@POTUS designates Stonewall as our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights: https://t.co/dxUdnnY9wc — The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 24, 2016 It was on 28 June 1969 when gay patrons at the bar fought back against police persecution. The historic moment saw the LGBT community push back against the police. They countered a raid on the Stonewall Inn that was conducted because alcohol was not to be served to “homouals”. The event, called as ‘Stonewall Uprising’ is widely considered as the first powerful retaliation against persecution based on ual orientation and soon swelled into a nationwide movement, said Obama in a video announcing the Stonewall National Monument, “Raids like these were nothing new, but this time the patrons had had enough. So they stood up and spoke out. The riots became protests. The protests became a movement. The movement ultimately became an integral part of America.” Recognizing the trials and tribulations the LGBT community had to suffer to gain acceptance in the society as normal citizens wasn’t easy, reported LGBTQ Nation. Obama attempted to weave the struggles of the marginalized community within the fabric of American history by saying, “Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country — the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one.” Designation of the Stonewall monument comes just days before the first anniversary of the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same- marriage in all 50 states, reported NPR. The White released an official statement about the designation of the national monument, “The designation will create the first official National Park Service unit dedicated to telling the story of LGBT Americans, just days before the one year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 states” Sadly, the announcement also comes just two weeks after a gunman barged into ‘Pulse’ a nightclub in Orlando frequented by the members of the LGBT community, and massacred 49 innocent people. The gunman had earlier indicated he hated the community and targeted the nightclub primarily because it had a large number of patrons with same- preference. President Obama to designate iconic Stonewall gay bar as national monumenthttps://t.co/ZxsHzn0zwS pic.twitter.com/hb4aFyEsWH — BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 24, 2016 What does the Stonewall Monument entitle? The monument covers nearly 8 acres in New York’s Greenwich Village. However, only the Christopher Park itself will become federal land. It will be managed by the National Park Service. As part of a national monument, the park is now considered a protected land. Obama makes Stonewall Inn the nation's first LGBT rights monument https://t.co/YJt8hboBdL pic.twitter.com/yAq0c1g2fV — Mashable (@mashable) June 24, 2016 The announcement is being framed as a culmination of the eight years of the Obama administration’s policy promoting LGBT rights, reported ABC News. During his eight years in office, Obama has always supported the LGBT community. The day the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, the White House’s entrance facing Pennsylvania Avenue was decorated in rainbow colors. Obama has also protected more than 265 million acres of land since becoming president. With the designation of the LGBT monument, the president has neatly combined the two topics that are close to his heart. [Photo by Monika Graff/Getty Images]