Kansas Agencies Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages

On Friday, June 26th, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of full marriage equality for all Americans.  Unfortunately, several counties in Kansas employ chief judges who refused to allow marriage licenses to be issued.

Many couples were also denied requests to change their drivers’ licenses to reflect their legal names, and were told name changes won’t be allowed until a direct order comes from the Kansas state Department of Revenue.

On Tuesday, June 30th, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt dismissed his suit against Johnson County Chief Judge Moriarty, effectively ending one of two state legal challenges to same-sex marriages in Kansas. The only legal challenge still pending is a Federal lawsuit against the state constitutional marriage ban.  There is currently a pending request for summary judgement from ACLU attorneys.

Equality Kansas chased conflicting rumors all day, and now is confirming that same-sex couples can get their name changes processed on their drivers licenses, and that state employees can enroll their same-sex spouses in their state employee health plans.  This news has come to us from Equality Kansas members and others in Kansas’ LGBT population throughout the day.


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Our Trans Loved Ones: Q&A Resource from PFLAG

The conversation about people who are transgender was just taken to a whole new level of engagement and interest with the unveiling of Caitlyn Jenner on Vanity Fair. There are more questions being asked, more people interested in educating themselves, and as always, PFLAG is a valued resource for answers!

Today, we’re proud to announce the formal release of our newest publication, Our Trans Loved Ones: Questions and Answers for Parents, Families, and Friends of People Who Are Transgender And Gender Expansive.

Based on its well-loved and popular predecessor, Welcoming Our Trans Family and Friends, Our Trans Loved Ones is a brand-new, updated resource. Written by PFLAG staff members, and created with the help of dozens of content experts, reviewers, and family members and friends with experience to share, it is chock full of information, first-person stories, expert input, and more, all geared to those who have a close family member or friend — of any age— who has come out as trans or gender expansive.

The new publication and comprehensive web resources (available at pflag.org/trans) address frequently asked questions and are also divided into sections specific to three age ranges; Childhood, Adolescence, and Adulthood. This gives readers easy and immediate access to information they need based on their own circumstances, along with a full section of Frequently Asked Questions for people of all ages.

Just as Our Trans Loved Ones is geared to families and friends, we also have answers for allies! Our other invaluable publication from our Straight for Equality® project, guide to being a trans ally, applies the philosophy of the project — to invite, educate, and engage allies — to a topic that has been key to PFLAG’s work for years: inclusion for people who are transgender.

So visit pflag.org/trans for an interactive, electronic copy of Our Trans Loved Ones or straightforequality.org/trans for your electronic copy of guide to being a straight ally. (And don’t forget the comprehensive resources on both pages!)


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June is PRIDE month!

pride-monthToo many people associate Pride events with a big party, sometimes a wild party that is too risque for kids to attend. But there’s more to celebrating LGBT pride than a weekend hangout with loud music and rainbow-colored knick-knacks.

There’s a lot for the LGBT community to celebrate, buy why do we come together and what is the history behind it? Well, learning the history of Pride and why it’s celebrated in June is one of the ways you can celebrate in a meaningful way. Want even more? Good! Mashable put together a list of ten…

  1. Learn your history
  2. Support your local LGBT youth centers
  3. Look beyond marriage equality
  4. Watch films with positive, complex depictions of LGBT life
  5. Support LGBT art and film
  6. Support local and national businesses that are LGBT friendly
  7. Be critical of your workplace’s LGBT policies
  8. Get tested, and tell all of your friends to do the same
  9. Talk with a younger and older member of the LGBT community about their experiences
  10. Finally, go to your local LGBT Pride event.

To read more about each of these in detail, visit the article on Mashable.


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Kansas City businesses recognized at the 9th Annual Corporate Celebration of Equality

On April 8th, HRC Kansas City hosted the 9th Annual Corporate Celebration of Equality honoring major Kansas City area employers committed to LGBT equality in the workplace. The event attracts employers committed to equality from states all across the Midwest. Twenty-four companies in total were recognized for their Corporate Equality Index (CEI) score running the gamut from Hallmark and Principal Financial to Sprint and local law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James received an award on behalf of his work with the city council to achieve a 100 on the Municipal Equality Index (MEI). Mayor James made news in February with his response to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who rolled backed protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state workers. His social media tweet, “LGBT COMMUNITY!  You are welcome in Kansas City!” instantly went viral and speaks to his dedication to fostering an environment of inclusion.

Cerner Corporation played host and was able to highlight its 90% score on HRC’s CEI. Three healthcare companies also were recognized for receiving the designation of “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” via HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) — Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics, Research Medical Center & St. Luke’s Health System.


Companies honored and present to receive their awards included Anheuser-Busch (100%), Black & Veatch (65%), Bryan Cave, LLP (100%), Cerner Corporation (90%), Enterprise Holdings (65%), Hallmark (90%), Husch Blackwell, LLP (90%), Nestle Purina PetCare (95%), Principal Financial (90%), Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP (100%), Sprint (100%), Stinson Leonard Street (90%), Union Pacific (70%), and Waddell & Reed (65%)

Companies who are no present by achieved high enough scores to be recognized included AMC Entertainment (100%), Ameren (85%), Brown Shoe Company (100%), ConAgra Foods (100%), Emerson Electric (80%), Express Scripts (70%), Fleishman-Hillard Inc. (80%), Monsanto (100%), Polsinelli Shughart (70%)Thompson Coburn LLP (100%), The Laclede Group (80%), and Rockwell Collins (95%).

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Heated LGBT rights debate continues in Missouri

Over the last decade, the landscape on LGBT rights has shifted rapidly across the nation. What was once considered unthinkable is becoming increasingly commonplace, from gay men and women being allowed to serve openly in the military to the potential for the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage this year in all 50 states.

Despite that change, 29 states — including Missouri and Kansas — have no statewide law barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. That means a person can be fired from a job, evicted from an apartment or kicked out of a restaurant for being gay or being perceived to be gay.

Lawmakers were discussing a bill making it illegal in Missouri to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity just weeks after voters in Springfield narrowly voted to repeal a local nondiscrimination ordinance.

Resistance at the Statehouse has forced Missouri gay rights advocates to turn to local government. More than a dozen cities and counties in Missouri, including Kansas City and Jackson County, have passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Ron Calzone went to the Missouri Capitol on Wednesday to stand up for his “God-given freedom” to discriminate.

“Everyone’s afraid to say this, so I’m going to say it,” Calzone, a rancher from Maries County in south-central Missouri and director of conservative think tank Missouri First, told a House committee.

“In America, you have a right to discriminate as a private citizen. In America, if you don’t like the color of someone’s eyes or their hair or the way they talk, you have the right to not associate with them.”


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