Marriage equality is now law in Costa Rica.
The country became the first in Central America on Tuesday to legally recognise same-sex marriage.
“Today, Costa Rica officially recognizes same-sex marriage,” President Carlos Alvarado Quesada wrote on Twitter.
“Today we celebrate liberty, equality and our democratic institutions. May empathy and love be the compass that guide us forward and allow us to move forward and build a country that has room for everyone.”
The move to marriage equality follows an August 2018 ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court, which ruled that laws preventing same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.
The Court gave the legislature 18 months to enact marriage equality, or have the ruling recognizing same-sex marriages automatically go into effect once the deadline expired.
Costa Rica’s decision also follows an opinion issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in January 2018. The Central American country had asked the court to determine whether it was obligated to extend property rights to same-sex couples.
LGBTQ advocacy organizations celebrated the move.
“Costa Rica is celebrating today: marriage equality has become a reality in the country – the first one in Central America!” the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World) said. “We rejoice with you: congratulations to all those who worked so hard to make it happen!”
The Human Rights Campaign also cheered the decision, though it added that more work needed to be done to achieve marriage equality around the world.
“Today, Costa Rica has made history, bringing marriage equality to Central America for the first time,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. “Costa Rica’s LGBTQ community has worked tirelessly for years to make today a reality. This victory is theirs, and it inspires the entire global LGBTQ community to continue fighting to move equality forward.”
US Supreme Court Rules That Civil Rights Laws Protect LGBTQ Employees From Discrimination
The Supreme Court has ruled that LGBTQ employees are protected under federal employment discrimination laws in a landmark decision.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that existing federal law forbids job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a major victory for advocates of gay rights — and a surprising one from an increasingly conservative court.
The decision said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sex, among other factors, also covers sexual orientation. It upheld rulings from lower courts that said sexual orientation discrimination was a form of sex discrimination.
Across the nation, 21 states have their own laws prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Seven more provide that protection only to public employees. Those laws remain in force, but Monday’s ruling means federal law now provides similar protection for LGBT employees in the rest of the country.
Gay rights groups considered the case a highly significant one, even more important than the fight to get the right to marry, because nearly every LGBT adult has or needs a job.
They conceded that sexual orientation was not on the minds of anyone in Congress when the civil rights law was passed. But they said when an employer fires a male employee for dating men, but not a female employee who dates men, that violates the law.
The ruling was a victory for Gerald Bostock, who was fired from a county job in Georgia after he joined a gay softball team, and the relatives of Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor who was fired after he told a female client not to worry about being strapped tightly to him during a jump, because he was “100 percent gay.” Zarda died before the case reached the Supreme Court. The ruling was also a victory for Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman fired from the funeral home where she was employed, simply due to her identity as a transgender woman and her transition at her place of employment. Stephens also died just days before her existence among millions of other transgender Americans were honored in the workplace.
The Trump administration had urged the court to rule that Title VII does not cover cases like those, in a reversal from the position the government took during the Obama administration.
“The ordinary meaning of ‘sex’ is biologically make or female; it does not include sexual orientation,” the Justice Department said. “An employer who discriminates against employees in same-sex relationships thus does not violate Title VII as long as it treats men in same-sex relationships the same as women in same-sex relationships.”
The case came to the Supreme Court that no longer includes Anthony Kennedy, who wrote all of the court’s significant gay rights decisions. He was succeeded by Brett Kavanaugh, who is generally more conservative than Kennedy.
The landmark LGBT rights ruling is here or below.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
Federal Judge: Trump Administration Can’t Implement Transgender Military Ban Due To Injunction
The Trump Administration erroneously claimed that it could fully implement the admin’s transgender troops ban, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote in her latest decision issued Tuesday.
The opinion chided the Trump Administration, stating that an injunction put into place by Kotelly in 2017, and fully remains in effect, counter to Trump’s claims otherwise.
“Defendants were incorrect in claiming that there was no longer an impediment,” says Kollar-Kotelly’s notice in US District Court in Washington, DC. “Defendants remain bound by this Court’s preliminary injunction to maintain the status quo.”
Today’s notice, written by Judge Kollar-Kotelly, settles the argument that the trans military ban injunction is lifted.
IT. IS. STILL. IN. PLACE. FOR. NOW.
The Trump Administration released a memo last week asserting that it planned to enact the ban in April after the Justice Department falsely said in a court filing “there is no longer any impediment” that stopped them from doing so.
“We are grateful for the district court’s clarity in stating, unequivocally, that the injunction against the transgender military ban remains in place,” Jennifer Levi, an attorney for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, a group representing the challengers, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.
“Plaintiffs will continue to challenge the government’s efforts to reinstate an unfair and discriminatory policy against transgender people,” Levi added. “And, for now, the military cannot take any adverse action against transgender troops or recruits who meet all current standards of service.”
However, the reality of whether the timeline for the trans military ban implementation is as muddied as it ever was. Kollar-Kotelly’s case is one of four different cases where judges issued nationwide injunctions against the transgender military ban, blocking it from being enacted. The US Supreme Court lifted three of those nationwide injunctions, but left the DC court nationwide injunction in place.
“On October 30, 2017, this Court ordered Defendants to maintain the status quo as it relates to the accession and retention of transgender individuals in the military,” she said. “That preliminary injunction remains in place until the D.C. Circuit issues its mandate vacating the preliminary injunction.”
The plaintiffs in Doe v. Trump have until March 29 to request a rehearing en banc at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. The timeline for the injunction to remain in place could be altered or expanded.
Read the full response from Judge Kollar-Kottely in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to the Trump Administration below:
Developing story, more updates to come…
Grammy-Winning Singer/Songwriter Sam Smith Comes Out As Gender Nonbinary
(NBCOut) — Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Sam Smith has come out as gender nonbinary.
“I’m not male or female. I think I float somewhere in between,” Smith said Friday on actor Jameela Jamil’s new Instagram show, “I Weigh Interviews.”
Smith said when he saw the words “nonbinary” and “genderqueer” and heard people speak about these identities, which are used to describe those who identify as neither exclusively male nor female, he thought, “F–ck, that’s me.”
While many nonbinary and gender-nonconforming individuals prefer to use the gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “them,” several news reportsclaim Smith still prefers male pronouns, like “he” and “him.”
While this is the first time Smith has explicitly identified as nonbinary, the performer has previously talked about his gender identity lacking a label. In an October 2017 interview with The Sunday Times, Smith said, “I don’t know what the title would be, but I feel just as much woman as I am man.”
In his conversation with Jamil, Smith said he came out as gay when he was 10 and stopped wearing male clothing when he was 16, adding that he would wear fur and makeup to school.
“I’ve always been very free in terms of thinking about my sexuality, so I’ve just tried to change that into my thoughts on gender as well,” he explained.
During his “I Weigh Interviews” appearance, Smith also discussed his ongoing body-image struggles. Though he said he’s achieved greater self-acceptance over the years, he said he has “always had a war between my body and my mind.” He revealed that he had liposuction when he was 12 after a doctor discovered he was developing breasts because his body was storing high levels of estrogen in his chest.
Lee Airton, an assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies at Queen’s University and author of the book “Gender: Your Guide,” told NBC News that it’s “wonderful that folks in the public life can come out as they are.” However, Airton stressed that nonbinary people have always existed.
“There are nonbinary people in all walks of life, in every position you can think of,” Airton said. “People might feel being nonbinary is a new thing, but it’s a re-emergence.”
Smith is not the only celebrity to identity as nonbinary. “Billions” star Asia Kate Dillon, “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Valentina also identify as nonbinary.
A growing number of states across the U.S. now legally recognize nonbinary gender identities on official documentation. At least eight states and Washington, D.C., offer a gender-neutral option on driver’s licenses and state-issued ID cards, while at least five permit gender-neutral birth certificates.
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