Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Colorlines & Voices at COP 24/7

The Hardest States in America to Be LGBT

As another "pride" month unfolds, COP 24/7 will be exploring many facets of what we could be proud of and perhaps some circumstances that we shouldn't be proud about. COP 24/7 has made it
point to share numerous point of views, counterpoints, and a wide array of content to peel back much of the LGBT onion that continues to reveal much about the gay construct. There's no doubt to the swiftness of cultural shifts in a nation that has evolved to being more accepting of marriage equality to the recent transgender tipping point of Caitlyn Jenner which has raise all manner of discussion.

Despite it all, according to a recent  new report, Mapping LGBT Equality in America, by the Movement Advancement Project, a think tank that studies LGBT issues things are not so picture perfect in many states, especially among our neighbor southern states. And yes, Arkansas registered many "negative policy tallies" as outlined in the report.

The report notes that 52 percent of LGBT Americans risk being fired or denied access to doctors’ offices and restaurants simply because of their sexual orientation. The report also notes that nearly 90 percent of LGBT people live in states where their children aren’t legally protected from discrimination for having a LGBT parent. Nearly 60 percent of LGBT people live in states where LGBT children aren’t protected from discrimination at school.

And 72 percent of LGBT people live in states where it’s difficult for transgender people to get the correct gender marker on a government-issued identification card.
“Our data shows that no matter what happens with the Supreme Court in June, we still have a long way to go to achieve full equality for LGBT people across the country,” Heron Greenesmith, one of the report’s authors, told TakePart.

Greenesmith and her colleague, Alex Sheldon, analyzed each state’s LGBT policies. Each state was given a point, based on whether the researchers considered the policies favorable or unfavorable for LGBT people. Points were assigned under six policy categories—for example, whether a state recognizes a same-sex relationship and marriage, or how well a state’s policies protect LGBT students, or the ability of transgender people to correct identification documents. Finally, the researchers ranked the states.

Here are the four states where it’s most difficult to be a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person:
1. Louisiana
Louisiana is the most difficult state for LGBT people. The state restricts same-sex couples from jointly adopting and bars educators from talking about LGBT topics during sexual education class. In recent days, Louisiana’s governor, Bobby Jindal, a Republican, signed an executive order that essentially allows certain institutions—particularly religious institutions—to discriminate against LGBT people.
2. Tennessee
Tennessee is one of the few states to have banned cities and counties from passing laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination. Some of the state's schools have denied admission to children of LGBT parents.
3. Michigan
Michigan limits the ability of same-sex couples to petition for joint adoption. Recently, Michigan legislator Earl Poleski, a Republican, introduced a bill that could eliminate laws that prevent LGBT discrimination.
4. Alabama
The researchers found that Alabama has virtually no policies that are favorable for LGBT people. Alabama is at the center of the same-sex marriage debate. The state has its own version of a religious freedom law. It also has a law that tells educators to inform students that homosexuality is unacceptable and punishable under criminal law. Alabama legislator Chris England, a Democrat, recently tried to pass a bill that would prohibit LGBT discrimination. The bill failed.  

Join advocates across the U.S. to remove barriers to new female condom products

The FDA is now accepting comments from the public regarding the reclassification of  female condoms from a Class III to a Class II device. Such reclassification is the first step to making additional safe and effective female condom products available in the U.S.

Organizations are invited to take action in these ways:
Join the NFCC’s comments to the FDA. Deadline: Wednesday, June 24
• Submit your own comments to the FDA.
Modify the template and follow the instructions for online comments submission. Deadline: Monday, June 29
• Share these resources with your personal and professional networks so we can send a strong, clear message to the FDA that the U.S. needs and wants more prevention options.

The National Female Condom Coalition has announced that they are just the beginning of their FDA advocacy. Stay tuned to COP 24/7  for more information in the coming weeks about additional opportunities for individuals and organizations to take action!

Finding Your Soul Mate? Is that Even Possible...

Them damn relationship? Everybody seems to be in search of finding somebody to share their life with. It can be exhilarating or devastating depending on who or what find to add to your coupling. Added to this mix is folks seeking their "soul mate," who is supposedly the "one" who will somehow
complete you as described as far back as Plato. Meanwhile, this topic has been "topic A," among many local small group discussions and Arkansas RAPPS will seek to add this element to some of their Welcome to the Living Room series of outreach conversation starters. Dates for the meetings will be announced on this platform.

Well if you are looking perhaps you may not be doing it exactly right according to Karen Black, MBA and creator of The Soulmate Site. “Perhaps we can forgive ancient writers with ancient ideas—probably quite modern for their time—but 2,300 years later, it’s time to wise up. I mean, really. Some of us think that our parents have outdated ideas. Why do we listen to 2,000-year-old dead men instead of ourselves?” she quips.

Black has dedicated more than a decade to studying the practical and spiritual meaning of soul mates. “Yes I do believe in soul mates,” she states on the Life Reimagined web portal.“No, I don’t believe in the magical aspects—i.e., that a soul mate is someone who completes you; or that we only have one soul mate; or that finding a soul mate is the solution to all of our problems. I think a soul-mate relationship is a growth relationship.

In other words, simply being with that person gives us a reason to keep growing ourselves. It can be not just unhealthy but in the end disappointing if we keep looking at soul mates from the fantasy point of view.”

Black shares with Life Reimagined three mistakes even smart people make, along with advice on how to overcome them.
Mistake 1: You know what you want your mate to be—but you ignore who you need to be. Chances are good that if you’re looking for your soul mate, you’ve completed a long list of must-haves: a certain education and income level; a love of food, music and dancing; kindness; good parent material; loves kids and animals…you get the picture. Putting too much focus on the mate you want takes focus away from you becoming the person you need to be to attract the right someone. Ask “Who do I need to be in the world? What is my purpose?” “In a soul-mate relationship, you’ll be equals,” says Black. “This equality doesn’t refer to money, status or title. It refers to a deep sense of yourselves.”
Mistake 2: You live in your vision board and ignore today. “Since The Secret, vision boards are all the rage,” says Black. “The mistake I see many smart, spiritual women making is visioning without action. Our ability to imagine our soul mates and create rich, varied vision boards may energetically kick-start things, but we must be active participants in the process.” Do you say you’ll travel/learn to cook/go back to school once you meet your beloved? Do all those things now and put yourself in a place where you’re most likely to exude the kind of energy you want to attract.
Mistake 3: You know what you don’t want—but not what you want. “Fear-based lists of what we don’t want are energetically ineffective. What we focus on expands [so] focus on the love you want,” says Black. “Instead of focusing on past relationship failures or getting caught up in a laundry list, get clear about how you want to feel in a relationship. Nurtured, supported, safe or inspired for example.”
Hollywood continues to tease us with love stories and promises of ever-after. “It’s dangerous to be too literal about this because let me tell you: no one can complete you,” says Black. “I’d also add, if you meet someone who wants to complete you, my love advice is: Run!”
However, Black says, don’t give up hope. “Keep searching, keep learning. Give the nod to ideas that make you bigger, and throw away everything else.”

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