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LGBTQ

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a controversial "religious freedom" bill into law.

The legislation, HB 1523, promises that the state government will not punish people who refuse to provide services to people because of a religious opposition to same-sex marriage, extramarital sex or transgender people.

Supporters say it protects the rights of people who are opposed to homosexuality but who now live in a country where same-sex marriage is a legal right.

Opponents say the law amounts to a state sanction for open discrimination.

This week, Mississippi lawmakers approved a bill called the "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act."

Supporters describe it as a bill protecting religious freedom. Critics call it a sweeping bill giving state sanction to open discrimination against LGBT people.

The legislation, now sitting on the governor's desk, allows state employees to refuse to issue same-sex-marriage licenses and protects private companies and religious groups from being punished for denying a range of services to LGBT people.

It's now legal for couples in all U.S. states to adopt children — regardless of the couple's gender — after a federal judge struck down Mississippi's ban on same-sex adoption late Thursday.

Overturning a law that had stood since 2000, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel P. Jordan III said the ban violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause. Mississippi's ban was the last of its kind in the U.S.

Btoo Allami (left) and Nayyef Hrebid (right) met in 2004, during the seige of Ramadi. Hrebid was a translator with the U.S. Marines, and Allami was an Iraqi soldier. "I saw him," says Hrebid, 'and I was like, oh my God, he is so handsome. He is perfect.'
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

This is a story about love and war; love lost and love found again.

In 2004, Nayyef Hrebid was an interpreter for the U.S. Marines in Iraq, and Btoo Allami was a soldier with the Iraqi Army.

Ramadi General Hospital had been taken over by insurgents, and Hrebid and Allami were part of a mission to reclaim the hospital. It was a dangerous mission, in a dangerous city, at a dangerous time in the war. 

Bill Radke talks with Danni Askini about why she's running for an open seat in the 43rd legislative district of the Washington state House of Representatives. Askini is currently the executive director of the Gender Justice League.

The U.S. Supreme Court, without hearing oral argument, has unanimously reversed an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that denied parental rights to a lesbian adoptive mother who had split with her partner. The decision is a direct repudiation of an Alabama Supreme Court decision that refused to recognize a Georgia adoption.

Flickr Photo/Elephant Gun Studios (CC BY-NC-ND)

Bathrooms in Seattle's public facilities must have gender-neutral signage by this Wednesday.

That's to fulfill a city law in support of transgender people.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray plans to further that cause this week with an executive order that city staff must be trained on how to support transgender people. 

Bill Radke talks with Jade Gee, a trans woman who invited anybody to come have coffee with "a real, live trans person" in Tacoma over the weekend and ask questions about being transgender.

Some churches have become inclusive of gays and lesbians, but for transgender people, church can still feel extremely unwelcoming. A congregation in Phoenix is working to change that by focusing on the everyday needs of its members — many of whom are homeless trans youth.

It starts with a free dinner every Sunday night with donated homemade and store-bought dishes.

Ben Nakamura, right, with his mother at an assisted living facility in West Seattle. He keeps coming out to his mother, but that information doesn't appear to register.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

My friend Ben Nakamura has known he was gay since 7th grade.

He came out early on, but he put off telling his parents.

Michael Shiosaki and Mayor Ed Murray at a 'StoryCorps' booth in Seattle.
Courtesy of StoryCorps

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and his husband  Michael Shiosaki recount how their relationship parallels the many changes in the laws on same-sex couples. 

Murray decided to run for an office in the state legislature because a good friend asked him to do it: Washington's first openly gay politican, Cal Anderson. At a StoryCorps booth in Seattle's New Holly neighborhood, Murray and Shiosaki talked about making the decision to enter public life.  

Allowing transgender people access to the restroom or locker room of their choice stirs strong feelings. Advocates on both sides of that debate packed a hearing room in Olympia Wednesday.

The Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability said Monday Judge Vance Day should be removed from office after refusing to perform same-sex weddings. Day's spokesperson said in a statement that the judge would vigorously defend his innocence and his rights at the state's highest court.

A drawing by a child in Professor Kristina Olson's study. Olson has found that transgender and non-trans girls have an equally deep sense of their gender identity.
Courtesy of Marlo Mack

When Kristina Olson, a psychology professor at the University of Washington, started looking into research on transgender children, she was surprised. It was thin at best.

Data from decades ago said that 80 percent of transgender kids revert to their born gender, but Olson was skeptical.

So she started the TransYouth Project to track transgender children to adulthood. The project has worked with 65 children across the U.S. and Canada – so far. Some are as young as 3.

Jonathan Porretta was the only boy in his dance class in Totowa, New Jersey. Dance was his refuge, where he could shine. He ended up at School of American Ballet in New York City, where he was scouted by Kent Stowell of Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Courtesy Jane D'Annunzio

A dancer stands alone on the stage. He is dressed in black tights only; his bare chest is broad and muscular.

As the bassoonist plays the first plaintive notes of Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” the lights come up and the dancer’s body undulates like a stalk of wheat in the wind. Slowly, he lifts his shoulders, and his extended arms drift up like wings of a bird.

'Week in Review' panel Joni Balter, Matt Manweller, Debora Juarez and KUOW's Bill Radke.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

What should happen to the armed group occupying Oregon's Malheur Wildlife Refuge? What’s the right compromise on guns? When it comes to public bathrooms, who defines your identity? And how do we know Seattle is losing its soul if we can't say what soul is?

Bill Radke attempts soulful clarity with Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5), Seattle Channel's Joni Balter and state Rep. Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg).

Danni Askini, the executive director of the Gender Justice League.
Courtesy of Danielle Askini

Rep. Graham Hunt of Orting doesn’t want to see a naked lady in the locker room.

“If I'm in the restroom, or I'm in the locker room, and I'm changing, and I turn around and there's a woman standing there completely naked, and she has different parts than I do – how is that OK?” he told KUOW’s Bill Radke.

C
Drew Perine/The News Tribune

Editor's note: On Thursday, June 30, the Pentagon announced that is has lifted its ban on transgender people serving openly in the military. That's big news for Capt. Jennifer Peace whom we profiled in this story from January.

Capt. Jennifer Peace is a tall, thin woman in a crisp uniform, with minimal makeup and shiny brown hair. But when soldiers call her ma’am, she has orders to correct them.

They must call her sir.

The chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court has ordered the state's probate judges not to issue marriage license to same-sex couples — despite a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last year that legalized same-sex marriage in America.

Roy S. Moore, the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, issued an administrative order Wednesday. He noted that the Supreme Court of Alabama had, in March of 2015, upheld the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, who died Dec. 25 at the age of 83, was considered one of the most influential psychiatrists of his generation. He headed the effort to more rigorously categorize mental disorders for the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (D.S.M.), the handbook used by health care professionals.

We usually think about adoption as a relationship solely between parents and children.

It's not.

Before same-sex marriage became legal across the United States, some couples would become parent and child — just on paper — to get rights they were otherwise denied.

That's what Sergio Cervetti and Ken Rinker of Doylestown, Pa., did years after meeting in the fall of 1965. Rinker was 19 at the time and just back from a trip to Europe with his student dance troupe. He says he felt invigorated by Cervetti, who was five years older and a composer.

The Food and Drug Administration is relaxing a 32-year-old ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

The FDA announced Monday that it was replacing a lifetime prohibition with a new policy that will allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood, but only if they have not had sexual contact with another man for at least one year.

Advice From A 7-Year-Old Trans Girl

Dec 9, 2015
A drawing by a child in Professor Kristina Olson's study. Olson has found that transgender and non-trans girls have an equally deep sense of their gender identity.
Courtesy of Marlo Mack

I asked my seven-year-old transgender daughter to tell me the story of her courageous fight to be seen as the girl she always knew she was. I also asked her to offer some advice for other kids like her - and for their parents. This is what she said.

Pride flag Seattle LGBTQ
Flickr Photo/Cloganese (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1LPdJO9

Bill Radke talks with George Pieper, president of Seattle LGBTQ Community Development, about his vision to create a new community impact hub geared towards LGBTQ people in Seattle. 

An Oregon judicial commission kicked off a two-week hearing Monday. The panel is considering the fate of a judge who's accused of screening out same-sex couples for marriage ceremonies.

2005 Gay Pride Parade in Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Andrew Hitchcock (CC BY 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1M6cLE2

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, lead author of a study which shows older LGBTQ adults in King County are more at risk of poor health and mental distress than other seniors in the county. 

U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Peace (right) and her wife, Debbie, with their youngest daughter at their home in Spanaway, Wash.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Capt. Jennifer Peace walks into the room, a tall, thin woman in crisp uniform, with minimal makeup and trim brown hair.

But when soldiers call her ma’am, she has orders to correct them. They must call her sir.

The gym chain Planet Fitness has found itself in the middle of a national debate over how to accommodate transgender people in single-sex spaces like bathrooms and locker rooms.

Earlier this year, Yvette Cormier complained to her gym in Midland, Michigan, after seeing a transgender woman in the women’s locker room. Cormier took it upon herself to “warn” other customers of the transgender-friendly policy. The gym canceled her membership, and now she’s suing.

Flickr photo/sea turtle (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Seattle may be one of the country’s most progressive cities, but it falls short on services for elderly LGBTQ people, according to University of Washington researchers.

So they advise creating a new program to train health and human service providers in caring for older adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, a 43-year-old Polish priest who revealed his homosexuality, and a same-sex relationship on the eve of gathering of bishops from around the world, has been stripped of his doctrinal responsibilities for what the Vatican says are "very serious and irresponsible" actions.

"The decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the synod assembly to undue media pressure," the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said in a statement.

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