Voz Workers’ Rights Education, Immigrant Nonprofit, Loses Catholic Grant Over Gay Marriage Stance

A Catholic organization has decided to cut off long-standing funding to a Portland immigrant rights group that works with day laborers over its affiliation with an organization that supports same-sex marriage.

Voz Workers’ Rights Education lost a $75,000 grant in June from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which is the national anti-poverty, social justice program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Catholic Campaign director Ralph McCloud said the group asked Voz to cut ties with the National Council of La Raza, a large Latino civil rights organization that endorses marriage equality, to be considered for the grant. Voz has been an affiliate of NCLR since 2009, primarily as a grantee.

After Voz refused to cut its ties, the organization “self-disqualified” itself from the funding process, McCloud said.

In June, the bishops approved more than $14 million in grants to 205 organizations. The bishops had supported Voz since 1994, via 10 grants, McCloud said.

“It’s certainly difficult and painful, because Voz has done some tremendous work,” McCloud said. “But it became obvious that they were assisting in something that was contrary to the teachings of our traditions. And we have to honor our donors’ intent that this money be spent on issues that are not contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Voz is not the first nonprofit to lose church funding because of ties to organizations that endorse same-sex marriage.

A coalition of conservative Catholic groups led by the American Life League has criticized what it sees as lax administration by the Catholic Campaign and has been working since 2009 to call attention to CCHD grantees with activities, positions or affiliations with other nonprofits that contradict Church teachings on abortion, contraception and gay rights.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops conducted a review of the grant program and adopted several changes in 2010 that were designed to clarify the eligibility rules and strengthen the application review process. As a result of the review, nine nonprofits that were part of coalitions led by groups that supported reproductive rights or same-sex marriage no longer qualified for the funds, McCloud said. Others chose not to apply, or re-apply.

Community organizations serving immigrants and the poor in Colorado, Illinois, California and several other states have either had to decide whether to forgo their grants or sever their relationships with larger groups whose views the church considers problematic.

The lost grant represents a large bulk of Voz’s annual budget of $310,000, said Voz director Romeo Sosa. But he said the decision to withdraw from the grant competition allowed Voz to maintain its values.

“Marriage equality is not the focus of our work; we focus on immigrant rights. But we work with everyone, we don’t discriminate,” Sosa said. “There may be gays and lesbians among our staff or workers, and we can’t turn our backs on them.”

Local labor, immigrant rights, and groups that support gay rights have vowed to fundraise for Voz to fill the financial hole left by the grant’s loss.

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European Court of Human Rights confirms forced divorce of trans people is legal

Campaigners have expressed their dismay over the ruling Get the latest LGBT headlines in your inbox with our free daily newsletter! Join Topics equal marriagegay marriagemarriage equalitysame sex marriagemarriagegay weddingSame-sex weddingweddinglesbian weddinglesbian marriageCivil partnershipsTranseuropean court of human rightstrans communitytrans discriminationeuropean convention on human rightsEuropean Courttrans people Share on WhatsApp 2 reader comments

Married trans people living in countries without same-sex marriage must divorce if they want their new gender recognised, European judges have ruled.

On Wednesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) declared the divorce requirement for married people who wish to change their legal gender does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

Judges in Strasbourg presided over the case of Finnish national Ms Hämäläinen, who was born male and married to a woman. After undergoing gender confirmation surgery in 1996, she wished to bring her official documents in line with her new gender.

However, the local registry office refused to register her as female, unless her wife consented to the marriage being turned into a civil partnership

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Shadow Foreign Minister: Philip Hammond must stand up for LGBT rights as Foreign Secretary

Kerry McCarthy says Philip Hammond must prove that he can stand up for LGBT rights as Foreign Secretary Get the latest LGBT headlines in your inbox with our free daily newsletter! Join Share on WhatsApp 1 reader comment

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Minister Kerry McCarthy writes for PinkNews on the appointment of Philip Hammond as Foreign Secretary, and states that he must prove he can stand up for LGBT rights abroad.

The immediate reaction to Philip Hammond’s appointment as Foreign Secretary has largely been seen through the prism of Europe, and what it will mean for the Prime Minister’s already discredited approach to our EU allies.

But important as it is, reform of the EU is not the only task on the new Foreign Secretary’s to-do list.

His predecessor, William Hague, rightly received cross-party praise and credit for bringing together politicians and activists from across the globe for his Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict summit in London last month. He succeeded in building not only political momentum, but also civic action in support.

Many activists and campaigners will be watching closely to see if Phillip Hammond champions this vital cause with similar zeal. With this and other key issues, he clearly has a lot to prove in the remaining ten months before the general election.

One of the reasons for much of the concern is Phillip Hammond’s recent track record on LGBT equality at home in the UK.

He refused to support last year’s landmark legislation on same sex marriage, or civil partnerships 10 years ago, or the repeal of Section 28 before that. He also voted against enabling same sex couples to adopt, and against equalising the age of consent.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has moved forward leaps and bounds in recent years in promoting LGBT rights around the world, particularly as a result of Labour’s introduction of the FCO’s annual human rights report.

It is credit to the work of successive Foreign Secretaries that highlighting discrimination and prejudice against the LGBT community has become an essential part of the FCO’s human rights work.

So, like his voting record, it will undoubtedly cause concern that the new Foreign Secretary has spoken out against same-sex marriage, saying the Government’s same sex marriage bill caused

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New House Bill Seeks To Make LGBT Rights Abroad A State Department Priority

Rep. John Tierney has sponsored a bill to increase the State Department’s focus on LGBT rights. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

WASHINGTON — A bill introduced in the House of Representatives Wednesday would bolster the State Department’s ability to fight discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals abroad, its bipartisan sponsors say.

The bill would direct the department to make LGBT rights a foreign policy priority, develop a strategy to prevent LGBT discrimination and appoint a special envoy to handle those efforts.

The envoy would help coordinate activities between the State Department and other governments, non-governmental organizations and — if appropriate — the private sector to address LGBT discrimination globally, Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), the bill’s primary sponsor, told The Huffington Post.

The legislation would also require the State Department to continue addressing LGBT human rights violations in its annual Report on Human Rights.

The department has increasingly turned its attention to LGBT rights under President Barack Obama. In 2011, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech in which she linked the fight for LGBT rights around the world to other historic human rights struggles.

Tierney said that harrowing stories of discrimination in Russia, Uganda and elsewhere helped inspire the bill, as did a conversation with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Markey has sponsored a similar bill in the Senate and was looking for someone to introduce companion legislation in the House.

The State Department did not immediately return a request for comment.

Unlike Markey’s bill, Tierney’s has bipartisan support: Reps. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) have signed on as co-sponsors. Hanna has supported LGBT rights before — he signed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage rights for same-sex couples — while Gibson is a newer arrival to the cause. In the previous Congress, the Human Rights Campaign gave Gibson a zero percent legislative rating. But last year, he announced he was supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would institute federal workplace protections for LGBT Americans.

“On our best day, other countries want to be like us, and for that reason it is crucial that we lead by example with our founding principles of human dignity, freedom, and equal protection,” Gibson said in a statement.

Tierney said he was pleased to be joined by his colleagues from the other side of the aisle. “We’re encouraged by the notion that people think it’s time we had a strategy, we had a plan, and we worked internationally to start it moving in the same direction we’re moving so well in in this country,” he said.

Both Tierney and Gibson are facing openly gay challengers this election cycle.

As public approval in the U.S. has shifted in favor of marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, some in the LGBT rights movement have turned their attention abroad, where the situation is often more dire. Russia, for example, drew international condemnation last year over a new law prohibiting pro-LGBT “propaganda,” which advocates said would make it difficult for anyone to live as an openly LGBT person. The Human Rights Campaign, along with several other LGBT and human rights groups, has endorsed the congressional bill.

Last year, the Human Rights Campaign made waves in some circles when it announced that it was launching its own division devoted entirely to issues abroad. The funding of the program was of concern to some commentators: It was backed by foundations linked to hedge fund billionaires Daniel Loeb and Paul Singer. The latter, a prominent GOP donor and supporter of gay rights, made a small part of his fortune through “vulture funds,” which profit by purchasing the debt of financially troubled countries and then going to court to extract repayment.

Some also expressed fears that the Human Rights Campaign’s effort could bring unwanted attention and perceived U.S. ties to local advocates in countries where being gay can put someone in danger — a criticism that Tierney said should not be applied to his bill.

“We’re not getting involved in other countries. We’re getting involved in our State Department — in our diplomatic approach to things. We expect that it’s going to be handled by seasoned and trained diplomats, who are going to make sure that they deal with this the appropriate way,” Tierney said.

“But we want them to be able to have a coordinated effort across our government,” he said, “so that when we set foreign policy goals and we have conversations from our State Department to people in other countries, they know that this is a serious priority with us.”

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US: Civil rights groups ask Obama not to include a religious exemption in upcoming executive order

Civil rights organisations are the latest group to oppose a religious exemption in Obama’s upcoming executive order Share on WhatsApp 1 reader comment

Over 60 civil rights organisations have signed a letter addressed to President Barack Obama today that urges him to not include a religious exemption in his upcoming executive order that bans federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers.

Among the letters notable signers are the NAACP, The Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

This letter comes after over one hundred faith leaders signed a similar letter to the president last week urging him to minimise the same religious exemption.

If included, the exemption would allow companies and service agencies with federal contracts, including some big-name corporations that do business with federal government, the ability to fire LGBT people for religious reasons.

The letter states:

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Uganda’s Anti-Gay Ruling Criticized By Human Rights Watch

Ugandans supportive of their government’s anti-gay stance attend a march and rally organized by a coalition of Ugandan religious leaders and government officials, at the Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala, Uganda, Monday, March 31, 2014. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has launched fresh condemnation of gays, saying they deserve punishment because homosexuality “is criminal and it is so cruel.” Museveni, who last month signed a bill strengthening criminal penalties against homosexuals, s

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