Clela Rorex, a former Colorado county clerk considered a pioneer in the gay rights movement for being the first public official to issue a same-sex marriage license in 1975, has died. She was 78.
Rorex died Sunday of complications from recent surgery at a hospice care facility in Longmont, the Daily Camera reported.
Rorex was a newly elected Boulder County clerk when a gay couple denied a marriage license elsewhere sought her help in March 1975. She told The Associated Press in 2014 that she saw a parallel with the women’s movement and found nothing in state law preventing it.
The then-31-year-old agreed and, in the end, issued a total of six licenses to gay couples before Colorado’s attorney general at the time ordered her to stop.
State and federal law didn’t recognize gay marriage at the time. Rorex recalled that she had little public support and didn’t challenge the attorney general.
A recall effort was launched against Rorex, a single mother and University of Colorado graduate student. Suffering from chronic migraines and dealing with hate mail, she resigned halfway through her term.
Colorado legalized gay marriage in 2014 after a state court and a Denver federal court struck down a 2006 ban enacted by state voters. A 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision recognized the fundamental right nationwide.
Jared Polis, Colorado’s first openly gay governor, paid tribute to Rorex upon learning of her passing.
“Her certification of same-sex marriages (until the Attorney General shut her down) was a pivotal moment in the long struggle for marriage equality that led to Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, which legalized marriage equality nationally,” Polis wrote on Facebook. “So many families, including First Gentleman Marlon Reis and I, are grateful for the visionary leadership of Clela Rorex, a woman ahead of her time.”
Glenda Russell, a retired writer and LGTBQ community historian, told the Camera that Rorex faced significant backlash after issuing the first license.
“Nationally at the time, most people didn’t take it too seriously because they didn’t worry about it happening again, but in Boulder, the reaction was forceful and mean spirited. She got hit with all the homophobia and heterosexism that the LGBTQ community was facing,” Russell said.
In later years, Rorex advocated for gay and lesbian rights, speaking in schools and expressing exasperation with the slow pace of change.
According to Out Boulder County, an LGTBQ advocacy organization, Rorex was born in Denver on July 23, 1943. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Colorado before running for county clerk and recorder. After resigning as clerk in 1977 she obtained post-graduate degrees and served a legal administrator for the Native American Rights Fund.
A celebration of life was planned for July 23, Out Boulder County said.
The county courthouse in Boulder where she issued the licenses has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
World swimming’s governing body effectively banned transgender athletes from competing in women’s events on Sunday.
FINA members at the organization’s extraordinary general congress voted 71.5% in favor of its new “gender inclusion policy” that only permits swimmers who transitioned before age 12 to compete in women’s events.
“This is not saying that people are encouraged to transition by the age of 12. It’s what the scientists are saying, that if you transition after the start of puberty, you have an advantage, which is unfair,” James Pearce, who is the spokesperson for FINA president Husain Al-Musallam, told The Associated Press.
“They’re not saying everyone should transition by age 11, that’s ridiculous. You can’t transition by that age in most countries and hopefully you wouldn’t be encouraged to. Basically, what they’re saying is that it is not feasible for people who have transitioned to compete without having an advantage.”
FINA’s new 24-page policy also includes proposals for a new “open competition” category. FINA said it was setting up “a new working group that will spend the next six months looking at the most effective ways to set up this new category.”
Pearce told the AP that the open competition would most likely mean more events but those details still need to be worked out.
“No one quite knows how this is going to work. And we need to include a lot of different people, including transgender athletes, to work out how it would work. So there are no details of how that would work. The open category is something that will start being discussed tomorrow,” Pearce said.
FINA said it recognizes “that some individuals and groups may be uncomfortable with the use of medical and scientific terminology related to sex and sex-linked traits (but) some use of sensitive terminology is needed to be precise about the sex characteristics that justify separate competition categories.”
In March, Lia Thomas made history in the United States as the first transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming championship. She won the 500-yard freestyle.
Other sports have also been examining their rules.
On Thursday, cycling’s governing body updated its eligibility rules for transgender athletes with stricter limits that will force riders to wait longer before they can compete.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) increased the transition period on low testosterone to two years, and lowered the maximum accepted level of testosterone.
James Rado, co-creator of the groundbreaking hippie musical “Hair,” which celebrated protest, pot and free love and paved the way for the sound of rock on Broadway, has died. He was 90.
Rado died Tuesday night in New York City of cardio respiratory arrest, according to friend and publicist Merle Frimark.
“Hair,” which has a story and lyrics by Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot, was the first rock musical on Broadway, the first Broadway show to feature full nudity and the first to feature a same-sex kiss.
Tributes came in from the theater world, including André De Shields, who tweeted “Rest in power, James Rado,” to playwright Michael R. Jackson, whose “A Strange Loop” just won the Tony Award for best new musical. He tweeted “rest in peace.”
“Hair” made possible other rock musicals like “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Rent.” Like “Hamilton,” it was one of only a handful of Broadway shows in the past few decades to find its songs on the pop charts.
The so-called “American tribal love-rock musical,” had its world premiere at the Public Theater in New York City’s East Village in 1967 and transferred the following year to Broadway, where the musical ran more than 1,800 performances. Rado played Claude, a young man about to be drafted and sent to the war in Vietnam.
Clive Barnes, theater critic for The New York Times, called the show “the first Broadway musical in some time to have the authentic voice of today rather than the day before yesterday.” The New York Post said it had “unintentional charm,” contagious high spirits and a “young zestfulness” that “make it difficult to resist.” Variety, however, called it “loony.”
It lost the Tony in 1969 to the more traditional “1776” but won a Grammy Award. The show was revived on Broadway in 1977 and again in 2009, when it won the best revival Tony. It was made into a movie directed by Milos Forman in 1979 starring Treat Williams and Beverly D’Angelo.
The “Hair” Broadway cast album spawned four top four singles on the American pop charts, including the No. 1 hit “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” by the Fifth Dimension, which won the Grammy Award for record of the year and best pop vocal performance by a group in 1970. Others included “Hair” by the Cowsills, “Good Morning, Starshine” by the singer Oliver and “Easy to Be Hard” by Three Dog Night. The cast album itself stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks
“Hair” tells the story of Claude and Berger, best buddies who find freedom in the late 1960s. Between draft-card burnings, love-ins, bad LSD trips and a parade of protest marches, the two wander through a New York filled with flower children, drugged-out hippies and outraged tourists who don’t approve of the wild goings-on. In one song, Claude poignantly sings, “Why do I live, why do I die, tell me where do I go, tell me why.”
Will Swenson, who played Berger in “Hair” in the 2009 revival, on Twitter called Rado a “crazy, wonderful psychedelic visionary” and said his show ”changed my life. The tribe is forever.”
The show is playful and chaotic, but there’s also a sense of outrage in its protests against war, racism, sexism, pollution and the general hypocrisy of an era dominated by the American involvement in Vietnam.
“I’d still like ‘Hair’ to be about what it was about then,” Rado told The Associated Press in 1993. “‘Hair’ had a spiritual message, and it has a mystical message I hope is coming through — there’s more to life than the way it’s been devised for us, explained to us, taught to us.”
The songs of “Hair” have been used in everything from the films “Forrest Gump,” “Minions” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” to TV shows like “Glee,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “My Name Is Earl.” Billboard magazine lists “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” at No. 66 of all-time top 100 songs.
At one point there were 14 companies running simultaneously all over the globe, including a London production which ran for nearly 2,000 performances.
In 2019, the original 1968 Broadway cast recording was inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden deemed “these aural treasures worthy of preservation because of their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation’s recorded sound heritage.”
Rado was born in Venice, California, and raised in Rochester, New York, and Washington, D.C. After serving two years in the U.S. Navy, he moved to New York and studied acting with Paula and Lee Strasberg.
Rado was part of the ensemble of the Broadway play “Marathon ’33” in 1963 and played Richard Lionheart in “The Lion in Winter” in 1966 opposite Christopher Walken. He met Ragni when he was cast in the off-Broadway musical “Hang Down Your Head and Die.”
The two were interested in birthing a new kind of show and focused on the hippie scene. They wrote the script while sharing an apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey. Rado originated the “Hair” role of the draftee Claude on Broadway.
“Hair” met resistance across the country. In addition to the use of four-letter words, the flouting of authority, sexual references and gross-out humor, the end of Act 1 had the entire cast strip naked to “Where Do I Go” and there was what many believed was desecration of the American flag.
There were church pickets in Evansville, Indiana. Municipal officials in Chattanooga, Tennessee, denied a request to stage the show, determining that it would not be “in the best interest of the community.” In Denver, police threatened to arrest anyone who appeared nude onstage. A Boston visit was challenged in court on the basis of flag desecration.
The original Public Theater production had cut the nude scene, but the creators wanted it back for the Broadway debut. Under the law at that time, New York City allowed nudity onstage onstage as long as the actors weren’t moving, which is why the whole cast of “Hair” stood together in a row, nude and perfectly still.
After “Hair,” Rado wrote the music and lyrics of the off-Broadway show “Rainbow,” co-authoring the book with his brother, Ted Rado. He later teamed up with Ragni to create the book and lyrics for the show “Sun.” Ragni died in 1991. Rado wrote a new show called “American Soldier” with his brother.
In 2009, Rado, MacDermot and Ragni were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., of the group The Fifth Dimension, were joined onstage by the Broadway cast at the time for a finale that brought the ceremony’s approximately 1,000 guests to their feet. MacDermot died in 2018.
Rado told the Hudson Reporter in 2009 that none of the show’s creators anticipated that it would have such an enormous impact. “We thought we’d stumbled on a great idea, and something that potentially could be a hit on Broadway, never thinking of the distant future.”
He is survived by his brother Ted Rado, sister-in-law Kay Rado, nieces Melanie Khoury, Emily DiBona and Melissa Stuart, great-nieces and a great-nephew.
It’s been a month since a Montana judge temporarily blocked enforcement of a state law that required transgender people to undergo surgery before they could change their gender on their birth certificate, and the state still isn’t in compliance with the court order, the ACLU of Montana said.
Jon Ebelt, spokesperson for the state health department, said the agency is still working with the Department of Justice to review the April 21 ruling and its implications. He did not respond to an email asking if that meant the state was evaluating whether to appeal the order.
“We have continued to be patient in allowing the state time to comply with the court ordered preliminary injunction,” the ACLU of Montana said in a recent statement. “However, close to one month has passed and the State’s willful indifference to the court order is inexcusable.”
Montana is among a growing list of Republican-controlled states that have moved to restrict transgender rights, including requiring student-athletes to participate in sports based on their gender assigned at birth or making it illegal for transgender minors to be treated with hormones or puberty blockers.
Beginning in late 2017, transgender residents could apply to change the gender on their Montana birth certificate by filing a sworn affidavit with the health department. District Court Judge Michael Moses’ order requires the state to revert back to that process while the challenge to the new law is pending.
“The fact that the state refuses … evidences its lack of respect for the judiciary and utter disregard for the transgender Montanans who seek to have a birth certificate that accurately indicates what they know their sex to be,” the ACLU said.
If the state continues to violate the preliminary injunction, ACLU of Montana staff attorney Akila Lane said the organization would ask the court to step in.
“We’re only looking for the state to comply” with the preliminary injunction, Lane said Friday.
A week after the ruling was issued, Billings attorney Colin Gersten inquired about an updated gender designation application form on behalf of a friend. The Office of Vital Records responded saying: “We will contact you once we are able to discuss your options.”
Gersten made another inquiry about the proper form on May 11 and did not receive a reply, according to emails shared with The Associated Press.
Many transgender people choose not to undergo gender-confirmation surgeries. Such procedures are sometimes deemed unnecessary or too expensive, two transgender Montanans argued in their July 2021 lawsuit.
Republican state Sen. Carl Glimm, who sponsored the legislation, has argued that the Department of Public Health and Human Services overstepped its authority in 2017 by changing the designation on a birth certificate from “sex” to “gender” and then setting rules by which the designation could be changed.
Half the states, plus the District of Columbia, allow transgender residents to change the gender designation on their birth certificates without surgical requirements or court orders, according to the policy organization Movement Advancement Project. Just over a dozen states require surgical intervention, and such barriers are being challenged in several states, including Montana.
Over the past few years, other legislation has been aimed at transgender people, and the new laws are being challenged in court.
Alabama passed a law making it a felony to prescribe gender-confirming puberty blockers and hormones to transgender minors, but a judge has blocked the law. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered child welfare officials to investigate parents of children receiving puberty blockers and other gender-confirming care as potential abuse. That, too, was blocked by a judge.
At least a dozen states have recently passed laws to ban transgender girls and women from participating in female sports, most recently Utah.
English soccer player Jake Daniels said he is gay on Monday in a trailblazing moment for the European men’s game.
The 17-year-old forward made the announcement at the end of his first season as a professional player with second division club Blackpool.
“This season has been a fantastic one for me on the pitch,” he said in a statement. “But off the pitch I’ve been hiding the real me and who I really am. I’ve known my whole life that I’m gay, and I now feel that I’m ready to come out and be myself.
“It’s a step into the unknown being one of the first footballers in this country to reveal my sexuality.”
While women’s soccer features many prominent LGBTQ players, the men’s professional game lacks players who are publicly gay.
Daniels said he was inspired by Josh Cavallo of Australian team Adelaide United, who is the only openly gay man currently playing in a top division in world soccer following the 22-year-old midfielder’s announcement in October.
“I’ve hated lying my whole life and feeling the need to change to fit in,” Daniels said. “I want to be a role model myself by doing this. There are people out there in the same space as me that may not feel comfortable revealing their sexuality.
“I just want to tell them that you don’t have to change who you are, or how you should be, just to fit in. You being you, and being happy, is what matters most.”
Daniels said teammates at Blackpool embraced his sexuality after confiding in them. The northwest English club said it was “incredibly proud that he has reached a stage where he is empowered to express himself both on and off the pitch.”
The English Football Association said Daniels was an “inspiration” to the sport.
“This is a hugely positive step as we strive to build an inclusive game that we can all be proud of,” the governing body tweeted. “We are with you and we hope your story will help to give people across the game the strength and encouragement to be their true self.”
The only openly gay man to have played in English soccer’s professional leagues was Justin Fashanu, who was not active at a high level when he made the announcement in 1990. The former Nottingham Forest and Norwich City striker was found hanged in a London garage at age 37. The Justin Fashanu Foundation calls him the “world’s first openly gay professional footballer.”
Soccer in England is still dealing with trying to eradicate homophobic chants at some games.
“If, by me coming out, other people look at me and feel maybe they can do it as well, that would be brilliant,” Daniels told broadcaster Sky Sports. “If they think this kid is brave enough do this, I will be able to do it too. I hate knowing people are in the same situation I was in.
“I think if a Premier League footballer does come out that would just be amazing. I feel like I would have done my job and inspired someone else to do that. I just want it to go up from here. We shouldn’t be where we are right now.”
It is a rarity in team sports for men to announce they are gay.
Former Wales captain Gareth Thomas was the first active rugby professional to come out in 2009, two years before he retired, and has become a source of inspiration across sports.
The first active NFL player to come out as gay was Carl Nassib in 2021 while he was at the Las Vegas Raiders. The defensive end was released by the team in March.
The first openly gay player in the NBA was Jason Collins while playing for the Brooklyn Nets in 2021.
One of the most prominent gay athletes in Britain is Olympic diving champion Tom Daley who inspired former England soccer captain Casey Stoney to come out in 2014. She is coach of the San Diego Wave after managing the women’s team at Manchester United.
“Must of took a lot of guts & courage,” Stoney tweeted to Jake Daniels. “Good for you for stepping out of the mould & for being authentically you! Wouldn’t it be great if we got to a place where we didn’t have to use the words ‘guts & courage’ to describe someone being comfortable being themselves.”
Because of the disciplinary infractions he received for leading the protests at Flagler Palm Coast High School in March, school administrators are preventing him for running for the elected student body office, Jack Petocz said in a letter posted on Twitter on Tuesday. The school is located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Daytona Beach.
“I am continuing to be punished for standing up for my identity and against widespread hatred,” Petocz wrote. “We shouldn’t be subject to abuse both in Tallahassee and at-home.”
In an email, school district spokesman Jason Wheeler said Flagler Schools was not permitted to speak about individual students’ disciplinary records. Requirements for individual on-campus clubs or organizations are set by the schools or clubs themselves, he said.
“The district has no say in setting those requirements or in how those requirements are enforced,” Wheeler said.
Petocz is being honored next week with an award at the 2022 PEN America Literary Gala for organizing students to protest the Florida legislation and fighting book bans. PEN America is a New York-based nonprofit that advocates for free speech and is made up of novelists, journalists and other writers.
“Jack Petocz is leading his generation in fighting back against book bans and legislative efforts to police how individual identities can be discussed in schools,” PEN America said in a news release announcing that the Florida student would be receiving an award.
The Florida legislation, signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in March, bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
More than 500 Flagler Palm Coast High School students walked out in protest of the legislation in early March, as well as thousands of other students around Florida. Petocz says he defied school officials’ orders not to distribute 300 rainbow pride flags he had purchased for the protest. He was suspended for four days afterward, he said.
Americans are deeply divided over how much children in K-12 schools should be taught about racism and sexuality, according to a new poll released as Republicans across the country aim to make parental involvement in education a central campaign theme this election year.
About 4 in 10 Republicans say teachers in local public schools discuss issues related to sexuality too much, while only about 1 in 10 say too little. Among Democrats, those numbers are reversed.
The findings reflect a sharply politicized national debate that has consumed local school boards and, increasingly, state capitols. Republicans see the fight over school curriculum as a winning culture war issue that will motivate their voters in the midterm elections.
In the meantime, a flurry of new state laws has been introduced, meant to curtail teaching about racism and sexuality and to establish a “parents’ bill of rights” that would champion curriculum transparency and allow parents to file complaints against teachers.
The push for legislation grew out of an elevated focus on K-12 schools during the Covid-19 pandemic, when angry parents crowded school board meetings to voice opposition to school closures, mask mandates and other restrictive measures intended to prevent the spread of illness.
“All that that’s happening these days kind of goes against the longer history of school boards being relatively low salience government institutions and, in a lot of cases, they are nonpartisan offices,” said Adam Zelizer, a professor at the University of Chicago Harris School researching school board legislation.
What distinguishes this moment, Zelizer said, is the “grassroots anger” in response to school policies and the national, coordinated effort to recruit partisan candidates for school boards and local offices.
What started as parents’ concern about virtual learning and mask wearing has morphed into something larger, said Republican pollster Robert Blizzard, describing parents as thinking: “OK, now that we have the schools open, what are these kids learning in school?”
The poll shows 50 percent of Americans say parents have too little influence on curriculum, while 20 percent say they have too much and 27 percent say it’s about right. About half also say teachers have too little influence.
Kendra Schultz said she and her husband have decided their 1-year-old daughter will be homeschooled, at least initially, because of what friends have told them about their experiences with schools in Columbia, Missouri.
Most recently, she said, one 4-year-old’s pre-K class talked about gender pronouns. Schultz offered that and mask requirements as examples of how the public school system “doesn’t align with what we believe or how we would like to see our children educated.”
“I’m just like, you’re a little kid, you should be learning your ABCs and your numbers and things like that,” said Schultz, a 30-year-old conservative. “That’s just not something that me and my husband would be interested in having teachers share with our children.”
The poll shows Americans are slightly more likely to say the focus on sex and sexuality in local schools is too little rather than too much, 31 percent to 23 percent, but 40 percent say it’s about right. The poll didn’t ask about specific grade levels.
Blizzard, who has been working with a group called N2 America to help GOP candidates in suburbs, said the schools issue resonates with the Republican base and can motivate voters.
In the Virginia governor’s race last year, Republican Glenn Youngkin won after campaigning on boosting parental involvement in schools and banning critical race theory, an academic framework about systemic racism that has become a catch-all phrase for teaching about race in U.S. history. His Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, had said in a debate that parents shouldn’t tell schools what to teach.
The poll also shows Americans have mixed views about schools’ focus on racism in the U.S.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said parents and teachers alike are frustrated after pandemic disruptions and should partner to help kids recover. The efforts to predetermine curriculum and restrict teaching are getting in the way, she said.
“The people who are proposing them, they’ve been pretty clear … they just want to sow doubt and distrust because they want to end public education as we know it,” Weingarten said.
Parents of school-age children aren’t more likely than other adults to say parents have too little influence in schools. But there is a wide partisan gap, with 65 percent of Republicans saying that, compared with 38 percent of Democrats.
Michael Henry, a father of three in Dacula, Georgia, says he’s wrestled over what the right level of involvement is. It didn’t sit right with him, for example, that his 6-year-old was taught about Christopher Columbus in an entirely positive light. He says he’s reflected on “some of the lies” and “glorifications of history” in his own public school education and thinks race needs to be talked about more.
But ultimately, school curriculum is “outside my area of expertise,” said Henry, 31, an actuary who is also the acting president of the Gwinnett County Young Democrats.
“I have to do a lot of studying and work to be able to make informed decisions, and I don’t feel like parents generally have that kind of skill set” for curriculum, he said. “I think professionals should mostly be determining what the curriculum should be.”
Henry worries that new restrictions are “adding extra hassle for teachers, who already have a lot on their plate, to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Transgender medical treatment for children and teens is increasingly under attack in many states, labeled child abuse and subject to criminalizing bans. But it has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations.
Many clinics use treatment plans pioneered in Amsterdam 30 years ago, according to a recent review in the British Psych Bulletin. Since 2005, the number of youth referred to gender clinics has increased as much as tenfold in the U.S., U.K, Canada and Finland, the review said.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, a professional and educational organization, and the Endocrine Society, which represents specialists who treat hormone conditions, both have guidelines for such treatment. Here’s a look at what’s typically involved.
Children who persistently question the sex they were designated at birth are often referred to specialty clinics providing gender-confirming care. Such care typically begins with a psychological evaluation to determine whether the children have “gender dysphoria,″ or distress caused when gender identity doesn’t match a person’s assigned sex.
Children who meet clinical guidelines are first offered medication that temporarily blocks puberty. This treatment is designed for youngsters diagnosed with gender dysphoria who have been counseled with their families and are mature enough to understand what the regimen entails.
The medication isn’t started until youngsters show early signs of puberty — enlargement of breasts or testicles. This typically occurs around age 8 to 13 for girls and a year or two later for boys.
The drugs, known as GnRH agonists, block the brain from releasing key hormones involved in sexual maturation. They have been used for decades to treat precocious puberty, an uncommon medical condition that causes puberty to begin abnormally early.
The drugs can be given as injections every few months or as arm implants lasting up to year or two. Their effects are reversible — puberty and sexual development resume as soon as the drugs are stopped.
Some kids stay on them for several years. One possible side effect: They may cause a decrease in bone density that reverses when the drugs are stopped.
After puberty blockers, kids can either go through puberty while still identifying as the opposite sex or begin treatment to make their bodies more closely match their gender identity.
For those choosing the second option, guidelines say the next step is taking manufactured versions of estrogen or testosterone — hormones that prompt sexual development in puberty. Estrogen comes in skin patches and pills. Testosterone treatment usually involves weekly injections.
Guidelines recommend starting these when kids are mature enough to make informed medical decisions. That is typically around age 16, and parents’ consent is typically required, said Dr. Gina Sequiera, co-director of Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Gender Clinic.
Many transgender patients take the hormones for life, though some changes persist if medication is stopped.
In girls transitioning to boys, testosterone generally leads to permanent voice-lowering, facial hair and protrusion of the Adam’s apple, said Dr. Stephanie Roberts, a specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Gender Management Service. For boys transitioning to girls, estrogen-induced breast development is typically permanent, Roberts said.
Research on long-term hormone use in transgender adults has found potential health risks including blood clots and cholesterol changes.
Gender-altering surgery in teens is less common than hormone treatment, but many centers hesitate to give exact numbers.
Guidelines say such surgery generally should be reserved for those aged 18 and older. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health says breast removal surgery is OK for those under 18 who have been on testosterone for at least a year. The Endocrine Society says there isn’t enough evidence to recommend a specific age limit for that operation.
Studies have found some children and teens resort to self-mutilation to try to change their anatomy. And research has shown that transgender youth and adults are prone to stress, depression and suicidal behavior when forced to live as the sex they were assigned at birth.
Opponents of youth transgender medical treatment say there’s no solid proof of purported benefits and cite widely discredited research claiming that most untreated kids outgrow their transgender identities by their teen years or later. One study often mentioned by opponents included many kids who were mistakenly identified as having gender dysphoria and lacked outcome data for many others.
Doctors say accurately diagnosed kids whose transgender identity persists into puberty typically don’t outgrow it. And guidelines say treatment shouldn’t start before puberty begins.
Many studies show the treatment can improve kids’ well-being, including reducing depression and suicidal behavior. The most robust kind of study — a trial in which some distressed kids would be given treatment and others not — cannot be done ethically. Longer term studies on treatment outcomes are underway.
Amid several bills introduced in Tennessee that have attracted national attention this year, none has sparked as much alarm among both Republicans and Democrats as a proposal that would create a new marriage contract specifically designed to exclude same-sex couples.
Supporters argue the measure is needed to give religious officials, couples and others opposed to gay marriage an option that wouldn’t conflict with their beliefs.
Critics say it’s a deliberate effort to circumvent the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling legalizing gay marriage and could lead to costly legal battles. Many have noted that the bill initially failed to include a minimum age — an omission that has opened the door to widespread mockery. Some worry the move helped reinforce stereotypes regarding Tennessee as backward.
The bill’s Republican sponsors have downplayed concerns that the age omission would result in a wave of child marriages, but they’ve since introduced an amendment that would incorporate an age requirement of 18 years old or older.
Who would be eligible for common law marriage contract?
If enacted, the legislation would allow opposite-sex couples to fill out marriage “contracts” based on common law marriage principles. Typically, common law marriage refers to the legal protections of marriage given to couples who live together as a married couple, but who haven’t gotten a state marriage license.
Just eight states allow common law marriages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Tennessee isn’t one of them. It’s a practice that in America has dated back to Colonial times when it was sometimes difficult to find a preacher to solemnize a marriage.
The Tennessee bill, however, specifically states the contract would only apply to “one man and one woman,” thereby banning same-sex couples from pursuing the option. Opposite-sex couples wouldn’t have to file the contract with the state, meaning county clerks wouldn’t have to recognize the contracts like they do with marriage licenses.
“This legislation has kept me up at night,” Republican Rep. Johnny Garrett told lawmakers earlier this week.
Garrett, who is an attorney, said the lack of state recognition would mean couples would likely be unable to claim benefits and be denied rights typically given to married couples. He also pointed out that there’s nothing prohibiting individuals from entering into multiple contracts.
“We’re going to legalize polygamy in this state,” he warned.
Republican Rep. Tom Leatherwood countered that people could commit fraud using marriage licenses and added that he believed courts would recognize the contracts so that individuals could receive spousal benefits.
“All this bill does is give an alternative form of marriage for those pastors and other individuals who have a conscientious objection to the current pathway to marriage in our law,” Leatherwood said during a legislative hearing in March.
When the bill was first introduced in the House, Democratic Rep. Mike Stewart quickly pointed out that the proposed common law marriage contract did not include an age minimum.
Currently, there is no federal minimum age requirement to be married. Instead, that decision is left to the states. For Tennessee, the minimum age to obtain a marriage license is 18, but 17-year-olds can still be married as long as they have parental consent. It is illegal for minors ages 11-17 to be married under a 2018 state law.
The proposed common law marriage bill wouldn’t automatically legalize child marriages. But the omission of an age requirement sparked widespread criticism that it would create a loophole allowing children to marry.
After downplaying child marriage accusations, the sponsors have since tweaked the bill to say it would apply to opposite-sex couples who “both have attained the age of majority,” which is 18 years old in Tennessee.
But that hasn’t stopped the skepticism from Democrats and Republicans who worry the bill is setting up the state for a costly lawsuit.
“This argument that it is going to set up two separate paths to marriage is blatantly unconstitutional in violation of the Obergefell decision, which is the law of the land,” said attorney Abby Rubenfeld, who in 2013 helped lead the challenge to Tennessee’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The suit, which was filed by Rubenfeld, was included in the SCOTUS case that eventually legalized gay marriage in 2015.
“We won that case before the Supreme Court and we also obtained, as you probably know, a substantial award in attorney fees and costs — which Tennessee taxpayers had to pay,” Rubenfeld warned lawmakers. “It can be expensive for our state to adopt unconstitutional laws.”
Who is supporting the proposal?
The fate of the bill remains unknown. Despite having nearly 20 Republican cosponsors, GOP Senate Speaker Randy McNally told reporters this week that he wouldn’t support it due to the lingering constitutional problems. The bill has been scheduled for several weeks to be debated before the full Senate, but has been delayed several times at the request of the sponsor.
Over in the House, the bill was discussed in a committee this week, but lawmakers ran out of time before taking a vote. It’s slated to come up again next Wednesday.
“I don’t know if it has the votes or not,” Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton told reporters recently. “I guess we’ll find out next week.”
Rainbow flags could be taken from fans at the World Cup in Qatar to protect them from being attacked for promoting gay rights, a senior leader overseeing security for the tournament told The Associated Press.
Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari insisted that LGBTQ couples would be welcomed and accepted in Qatar for the Nov. 21-Dec. 18 FIFA showpiece despite same-sex relations remaining criminalized in the conservative Gulf nation.
But Al Ansari is against the overt promotion of LGBTQ freedoms as symbolized by the rainbow flag that FIFA and World Cup organizers had previously said would be welcome across Qatar’s eight stadiums.
“If he (a fan) raised the rainbow flag and I took it from him, it’s not because I really want to, really, take it, to really insult him, but to protect him,” Al Ansari told the AP. “Because if it’s not me, somebody else around him might attack (him) … I cannot guarantee the behavior of the whole people. And I will tell him: ‘Please, no need to really raise that flag at this point.’”
Al Ansari is director of the Department of International Cooperation and Chairman of the National Counterterrorism Committee at the Ministry of Interior where he discussed World Cup planning for an hour with the AP.
“You want to demonstrate your view about the (LGBTQ) situation, demonstrate it in a society where it will be accepted,” he said. “We realize that this man got the ticket, comes here to watch the game, not to demonstrate, a political (act) or something which is in his mind.
“Watch the game. That’s good. But don’t really come in and insult the whole society because of this.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said this week in Doha that “everyone will see that everyone is welcome here in Qatar, even if we speak about LGBTQ.”
Al Ansari said he is not telling LGBTQ fans to stay away from Qatar or warning them of facing prosecution.
“Reserve the room together, sleep together — this is something that’s not in our concern,” he said. “We are here to manage the tournament. Let’s not go beyond, the individual personal things which might be happening between these people … this is actually the concept.
When it was pointed out that visiting fans and teams could take offense to the comments, Al Ansari said he did not view himself as being discriminatory.
“I am risking … a minority view against a majority,” he said. “We have to be close to the problem before it erupts and gets out of control. … If somebody attacks you, then I have to get involved and it will be too late.”
FIFA chief social responsibility and education officer Joyce Cook told the AP in 2020 that “rainbow flags, T-shirts will all be welcome in the stadium — that’s a given. They understand very well that is our stance.” World Cup chief executive Nasser Al-Khater also said “we will respect” FIFA guidelines on allowing rainbow flags.
But Al Ansari’s comments about the confiscation of fans’ rainbow flags have created confusion for activists, including Chris Paouros, a member of the English Football Association’s inclusion advisory board and trustee with the anti-discrimination group, Kick It Out, which want a safe and inclusive tournament.
“This inconsistency and the continued lack of detail in terms of how that will be provided beyond the rhetoric of ‘everyone is welcome’ is concerning to say the least,” Paouros said.
The FARE network, which monitors games for discrimination, called for the freedoms of fans to be respected at the World Cup.
“The idea that the flag, which is now a recognized universal symbol of diversity and equality, will be removed from people to protect them will not be considered acceptable, and will be seen as a pretext,” FARE executive director Piara Powar said. “I have been to Qatar on numerous occasions and do not expect the local Qatari population or fans visiting for the World Cup to be attacked for wearing the rainbow flag. The bigger danger comes from state actions.”