Executive Order applies to federal contractors and employees

One of the few remaining actions that LGBT activists had been pressing President Obama to take occurred on July 21.  With a stroke of a pen the President signed an executive order that bans anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors and in the federal workforce.

Broad protections in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are contained in a Senate version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA.  Consequently, it has died in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.  Some form of ENDA has been languishing in Congress since the 1970s without any action.  Activists have pushed Obama to take this significant step.

Maryland will now cover procedures and other transition-related health care of its transgender state employees under a new policy the Free State Legal Project announced on July 22.

The so-called Gender Dysphoria Benefit, which takes effect immediately, covers hormone therapy, surgical procedures and other “transition-related treatment that is medically necessary.” The new policy applies to employees and retirees who are enrolled in the state’s health benefit program, along with their spouses and dependents.

Equality Maryland is sponsoring the screening of The New Black, which will take place on July 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Chase Brexton Building Community Meeting Room, 1111 N. Charles St. in Baltimore. The New Black is a documentary by Yoruba Richen that tells the story of how the African-American community is grappling with the gay rights issue in light of the recent marriage equality movement and the fight over civil rights. The film documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage and examines homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar—the black church and reveals the Christian right wing’s strategy of exploiting this phenomenon in order to pursue an anti-gay political agenda.

Sharon Brackett and Steve Charing, representing Baltimore OUTloud, gave presentations to the 2014 Statewide EEO Conference called “Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) in the 21st Century Workplace.” The conference, which was comprised of EEO professionals from agencies throughout Maryland, took place on July 10 at the Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) campus.

When the current president (and resident cat-herder) of the Eastern Panhandle LGBTQ Alliance of West Virginia and I sat in my living room in the mountain community of Shannondale and we decided to try to piece together an organization to pull our local LGBTQ community together, we never dreamed of pulling off a Pride Day celebration within 13 months’ time. But we have weathered a complete turnover of our governing board, a low time in late winter/early spring when we just weren’t sure that it was all “worth it,” and all of the stress (that John– especially John– endured) to come out on the end of our local Pride celebration completely humbled and flattered and insanely reassured that this celebration was not only a good idea, but that our local LGBTQ community has actually been starved for such a celebration of its identity.

Carl Streed Jr., MD received the AMA Foundation Excellence in Medicine Leadership Award. Dr. Streed has advocated for the inclusion of LGBT health issues in the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health curricula, has increased the visibility and value of the LGBT community at Hopkins through community advocacy, and has successfully achieved transgender equity in health insurance coverage.

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