by Micah Wilkins, Editor in Chief
In light of recent policy changes within federal agencies that have led to a number of improvements for LGBT people, Sociology Professor Laura Vance is organizing a series of sessions on sexual equality throughout the semester.
Vance was inspired to organize this series of discussions after attending the Equality Federation Institute this summer, held in Portland, Maine, where Vance was informed of many significant regulation, policy and legal changes that affect LGBT people. The Equality Federation is the national membership and support organization for independent state LGBT advocacy organizations.
Vance explored several of the new advancements for LGBT people in last week’s session, Transforming Law and Policy, held Sept. 12, and hopes to continue exploring related issues in future sessions, relaying the information she gained this summer to the campus community.
In Wednesday’s discussion, Vance outlined several policies and regulatory changes which have been made possible by the New Beginning Initiative, coordinated by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The initiative made dozens of recommendations for pro-LGBT public policy to the Obama administration, none of which require legislative action. The changes can be implemented directly, through federal agencies.
“If you care about LGBT people or if you are a person who is LGBT, these issues affect a host of things,” Vance said. “These include, but are not limited to, whether you can get a federally-backed housing law, whether you can have access to low-income housing, whether you can have access to health care, whether you can have a passport that has your sex listed correctly, whether your child can have insurance and a whole host of other things.”
Vance was inspired not only by the information that she gained this summer, but also by the actions of the people she met at the Equality Federation Institute.
“One thing that became very clear at [the Institute] was that the work that people do in their everyday lives matters,” Vance said. “Voting matters, talking to the people around you matters, writing letters to the editor can make a difference, that we can all contribute to making the changes that we want to see every day in our lives. It has huge implications for people’s lives… It’s important for us to know, so that we can educate the people around us.”
Sexual Equality Sessions Schedule
After Laurence v. Texas: The Path to Relationship Recognition
Sept. 26, 5-6 p.m., Mierke B
In Laurence v. Texas (2003) the Supreme Court struck down the sodomy laws in Texas and, by extension, also struck down sodomy laws in thirteen other states. This decision made same-sex sexual activity legal throughout the country.
This session will explore the legal rationale upon which the Laurence case was decided and the ongoing legal definition of same-sex relationships.
“8” is a play about the Perry v. Schwarzenegger court case challenging proposition 8 in California. The play was created in response to the federal court system’s prevention of the case being broadcast on television. However, citizens from Los Angeles appeared in court, paid attention, and thus this play was developed, most of which quotes the transcripts from the courtroom.
Vance will play audio selections from “8” for students to listen to Oct. 10, 5-6 p.m. in Mierke B.
Changes in Health Care, a discussion with AJ Pearlman, who is the Department of Health and Human Services’ liaison to the LGBT community nationally.
According to Vance, Pearlman is the authority on aspects of the Affordable Care Act that impact LGBT people and their families.
11 a.m.-12 p.m. The Affordable Care Act: What is it and what will it do? Jensen 302
12:20-1 p.m. Lunch Session on LGBTI aspects of the Affordable Care Act, Mierke B
5-6 p.m. Dinner session on overview of Affordable Care Act, including LGBTI components, Mierke B
Resources for Equality
Be aware of the resources available to you, to use in research, in your work and among your community.
Oct. 17, 5-6 p.m., Mierke B