Happy Damn New Year!

As a new year approaches, many of us feel pretty damn depressed. Whether you're partnered or alone, it's tempting to imagine that everyone else is having more fun than you are. The truth is, you have no idea how happy or miserable anyone else is behind their façade.
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2014 Gala glitters

The 2014 Gala took place Nov 19-23 at the Avalon Hotel in Erie. The event is sponsored by Erie Sisters.
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4th Annual PA Youth Action Conference

The fourth annual Youth Action Conference, Pennsylvania's largest LGBTQ youth conference, will be held at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, PA from February 26th to March 1st. The 2015 YAC is dedicated to "Cultivating New Possibilities for Rural LGBTQ Youth." This conference will focus on pressing issues facing young rural Pennsylvanians, and toward the empowerment of a generation of rural LGBTQ youth leaders in our state.
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Focusing with Art Making for Emotional Self Healing Jan 25


When we experience trauma, grief, stress, or other emotions, those feeling are stored in our physical bodies, often causing headaches, tiredness, and body aches. Focusing is a gentle yet powerful skill for tapping into your body’s wisdom to make positive changes in your life. Focusing is a way of listening to your body with compassion, without assumptions or judgment. In this Jan 25 workshop, we will learn more about focusing, practice listening to ourselves and creating visual art and/or writing as a way to further explore what we are hearing. $30 per person, 3-5PM. Contact: Dr. Penny Orr, ATR-BC, ATCS (Expressive Therapies Center, 103 West Normal Street, Edinboro, PA 16412). (814) 873-3092. [email protected] www.expressivetherapiescenter.com
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New Year's #Rusolution Marathon - New Year's Eve on Logo TV

Logo TV’s ending 2014 with a drag bang in a fan interactive, day-long marathon of "RuPaul’s Drag Race" season six. Relive all the shade, all the drama, and all the Bianca del Rio moments that made your 2014 so sickening. Adding to the fun, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” queens will be spilling their “Rusolutions” on air all day long.  Don’t have anyone to kiss?  We’ve got you covered.  Tweet your #Rusolution to @LogoTV for a chance to see your tweet on TV.  And immediately following the season six rewind, we’re serving up an encore of “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Top 15 Fan Favorite Queens" countdown special—just in time for the biggest countdown of all.
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Founding of the Erie Sisters in September of 1991

Editor's note: This was originally posted to the Erie Sisters web site. We are including it here as part of our efforts to preserve and inform about local LGBT history. Erie is a small city in northwest Pennsylvania located halfway between Buffalo and Cleveland on the south shore of Lake Erie. With a population of 250,000 [including suburbs], Erie had, in 1990, most of the social amenities one would expect of a city that size, except one: a crossdressers' club. Vivian Allen, the editor-in-chief of Tapestry, asked me to write a few words about the formation of the Erie Sisters to be included with articles by other Erie Sisters members concerning personal impressions of our club and its activities. The idea for founding a CD club began with my first issue of Tapestry, which I read several times from cover to cover in absolute awe to find that there were several thousands of people just like me. I also found, in the organization listings, there was a crossdressing club in Cleveland, about 100 miles west of Erie.
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ACLU Files Federal Discrimination Complaint against Va. School Board for Bathroom Policy

RICHMOND, Va. - December 19, 2014 – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Virginia filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Justice and Department of Education against Gloucester County Public Schools (GCPS) for adopting a bathroom policy that segregates transgender students from using the same restrooms and locker rooms as their peers. The school board adopted the policy by a vote of 6-1 on December 9, 2014, despite warnings from the ACLU and the ACLU of Virginia that the policy violates federal law prohibiting sex discrimination by schools.
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Justice at Stake: South Carolina Bill Prohibiting Judges from Taking Marriage Cases Involving Same-Sex Couples is 'Braze

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 18 – In response to a bill, HB 3022 , filed in the South Carolina legislature that would prevent state judges from recognizing or upholding marriage rights for same-sex couples, and stipulating that judges who do not dismiss cases regarding these rights will be automatically removed from the case and not be paid, Justice at Stake Director of State Affairs Debra Erenberg  issued the following statement:
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With Major News From Justice Department, AMPA Calls on Defense Department to End Sex Discrimination Against Transgender

WASHINGTON – Today, the Attorney General of the United States announced that the Department of Justice will treat workplace discrimination against transgender people as sex discrimination, which is illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, based upon the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) decision in Macy v. Holder. The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation's largest organization for the partners, spouses, and families of America's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members and veterans, responded to the news by calling on the Defense Department to end its currently unjustified sex discrimination against transgender troops by lifting the ban against open and honest service.
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List of Duty Stations Around the World Available To Same-Sex U.S. Military Couples Continues To Grow

WASHINGTON, DC - December 17, 2014 – This month, the list of countries where a same-sex military spouse can be sponsored by the Defense Department to join a U.S. service member for an accompanied assignment outside of the U.S. grew to 40 countries. Unfortunately for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) military families approaching the time of year where new duty stations are often assigned, many locations remain unavailable, notably including Germany which hosts an estimated 43,000 U.S. military personnel.
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New York State Acts to Remove Medicaid Ban on Transgender Health Care

New York, NY - December 16, 2014 - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) commends Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health for proposing a new regulation to end the 16-year-old exclusion of transgender health care under New York's Medicaid program.
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Greater Erie Alliance for Equality Announces New Board Members and Officers

The Greater Erie Alliance for Equality, Inc. (GEAE) is proud to announce new members and officers of our Board of Directors in 2015. In December, 2014, GEAE welcomed Caitlyn Strohmeyer, Tyler J. Titus, and Margo Wolfe to serve on the Board of Directors, each for a two year term. In January, Will Koehler will begin serving as President, Leah Manino as Vice President, and Tyler J. Titus as Secretary of the Board. Brandon Whitten will continue to serve as Treasurer through 2015. Finally, our President from 2011 – 2014, Rich McCarty, will be assuming the position of Chair of the Advisory Council.
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Theology on Tap on January 14 at Plymouth Tavern

Theology on Tap on January 14 at Plymouth Tavern
Theology on Tap is an opportunity to discuss spiritual matters and your relationship with/to the Divine. It is a laid back discussion as we gather around a table at a local bar, drink in hand, to share our experiences, ask our questions and explore our faiths. And yes, that is plural! While the majority of those meeting have some sort of Christian background, we are welcome people of all faiths (or no faith) to come and participate in the discussion. We are not associated with any place of worship, and we are not out to convert anyone. We simply want to learn from each other and deepen our own respective faiths.The next Theology on Tap will be Wednesday, January 14 at 7 PM at the Plymouth Tavern, 1109 State St, Erie PA (probably in Garden Room or back bar. If you are new, you may want to call first to know where to look.) For more information, call 814-724-9775.
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ACLU Disappointed with Appeals Court Ruling that Dept. of Correction can Withhold Medically Necessary Surgery from Trans

NEW YORK - December 16, 2014 – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Massachusetts today expressed deep disappointment with a ruling from the full First Circuit Court of Appeals allowing the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) to deny essential medical care recommended by its own physicians to transgender prisoner Michelle Kosilek.
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The Amazon Trail: Oh, No! Not the Pradas!

In the face of the racist, puritanical, self-serving, money-mad, avaricious U.S. citizens and politicians whose votes and campaigns against fairness and reason won out in the recent midterm elections, we need to keep laughing, working to retain what we have gained, and believing in miracles.
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AHF's Latest Advocacy Ad asks, 'What Consensus on PrEP?'

LOS ANGELES (December 11, 2014) Starting Thursday, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) will expand its national ad campaign urging caution about the use of Gilead's HIV/AIDS medication Truvada by uninfected individuals as a form of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent possible HIV transmission.
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New Williams Institute Data Visualization: U.S. Benefiting from $2.6 Billion Same-Sex Wedding Spending Boom

LOS ANGELES - December 11 - The Williams Institute, in partnership with Credit Suisse, has released a new, interactive resource exploring the amount of money state economies have to gain by allowing same-sex couples to marry. Based on a series of state-level studies authored by Williams Distinguished Scholar, M.V. Lee Badgett, and other Williams Institute scholars, the resource estimates that the nationwide economic boost from marriage of same-sex couples could be up to $2.6 billion in just the first three years.
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New York State Issues Guidance Requiring Health Insurance Companies to Cover Transgender Health Care

New York, NY - December 10, 2014 - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) today praised the New York State Department of Financial Services for issuing guidance requiring health insurance companies to cover transgender health care on the same terms as other care.
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USA Continues to Violate LGBTQ Detainees Fundamental Human Rights in the Immigration Detention System

NEW YORK, N.Y. - December 10, 2014 – Today, the United Nations (UN) celebrated 64 years of their International Human Rights Day. The U.N. LGBTQ Core Groups, which include the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission along with many other groups, hosted an event, which supported all families and family members. Dreamers and LGBTQ Immigrants rallied outside in solidarity with the U.N. to denounce the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) use of solitary confinement tactics in immigration detention. Such tactics leave LGBTQ immigrants vulnerable to the inhumane and dysfunctional U.S. detention system.
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U.S. Air Force Secretary Supports Lifting Military Transgender Ban

WASHINGTON - December 10, 2014 – Today, the American Military Partner Association, the nation's largest organization for the partners, spouses, and families of America's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members and veterans, responded to the news that the Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, supports lifting the U.S. military's current ban on service by transgender people. As reported by USA Today, Secretary James said, "From my point of view, anyone who is capable of accomplishing the job should be able to serve."
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As Senator Prepares to Introduce LGBTQ Equality Bill, GetEQUAL Launches Effort to Ensure Bill is Truly Comprehensive

WASHINGTON, DC - December 10, 2014 -- Today, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) will announce at an event in Washington, DC, that he intends to introduce an LGBTQ equality bill in the next Congressional session. The event comes on the heels of an effort by GetEQUAL -- a national grassroots social justice organization fighting for full LGBTQ equality -- to survey and then directly insert the voices of LGBTQ individuals from across the country about what they actually need in such a bill.
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The Amazon Trail: Santa Dyke 1998

How should a dyke or a gay man celebrate the winter holidays? 'm pretty spiritual, but I'm nowhere near religious. What if I don't observe any of the holy days this time of year, but celebrate the spirit of all of them? I've had Christmas trees with Solstice lights and a menorah burning on the mantle. I've wrapped speculums in aluminum foil and hung them from a collective Solstice tree. I spent one Christmas Day crying into my Crystal Geyser over a break up, fearing the season had been ruined forever.
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Mark Segal: The LGBT welcome mat

From Philadelphia Gay News: Pope Francis, thank you for your kind words about LGBT families and LGBT childre. Last week, His Holiness said, "The Catholic Church must help parents stand by their gay children."
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Black LGBT Religious Leaders United

Black LGBT Religious Leaders United
LGBT Black Christians and faith leaders join tens of thousands of historically Black congregations/denominations and allies to wear black to church on Sunday, December 14, in response to police brutality: "Black LGBT bodies must matter, too!"
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AHF: Kaiser Permanente PrEP Study Reports 45% Increase in Condom-less Sex

LOS ANGELES (December 8, 2014) A Kaiser Permanente study on the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) by gay men and men who have sex with multiple men to prevent possible HIV transmission has reported an "eye-popping statistic"—a 45% increase in condom-less sex among certain study participants.
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AMPA Statement on Nomination of Ashton Carter as Secretary of Defense

WASHINGTON - December 5, 2014– Today, the American Military Partner Association, the nation's largest organization for the partners, spouses, and families of America's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members and veterans, issued the following statement in response to the nomination of Ashton Carter as Secretary of Defense.
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Report: LGBT Americans Still Face Wide-Spread Inequality

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 9, 2014 — Despite growing support for equality, the stakes are high for the estimated almost nine million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans whose daily lives are limited by a lack of state and federal protections. According to a new publication released today, LGBT Americans live in a two-tier system where they must navigate vastly differing state laws coupled with an ongoing lack of protections under federal law. For example, same-sex couples can now marry in 35 states, but a lack of widespread nondiscrimination protections means wearing a wedding ring to work can result in a gay worker being legally fired in 29 states. In most states, LGBT people can also still be refused service and denied housing, and there are no laws protecting LGBT students against bullying in schools.
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ACLU Response to DOJ Guidance Reports

WASHINGTON - December 5, 2014 — The Washington Post and other media outlets published articles tonight that highlight some details of what is included in the U.S. Department of Justice Guidance on the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.
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New York City Council Votes to End Discriminatory Birth Certificate Policy

New York, NY - December 8, 2014 - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) applauds the New York City Council for passing legislation today that will end the city's discriminatory birth certificate policy. The bill – Int. 491 (2014) – introduced by Councilmember Corey Johnson, eliminates the surgery requirement for transgender people seeking to change the sex designation on their birth certificates.  The new policy will require that a licensed health care provider state under oath that based on contemporary expert standards, an individual's true sex is not accurately recorded on their current birth certificate. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law.  The Board of Health is expected to adopt regulations tomorrow that mirror this legislation.
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NCLR Welcomes IOC's New Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Policy

(San Francisco, CA, December 9, 2014)—Today, during a meeting in Monaco, the 127th Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to revise the IOC's nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation.  The nondiscrimination proposal was part of a larger series of reforms to the Olympic charter, known as Principle Six.
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PFLAG National's New Straight For Equality '...Trans Ally' Guide And Tools Help People Become Educated, Engaged Allies

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- There are nearly 700,000 people who identify as transgender in the U.S., according to The Williams Institute at UCLA, yet there has not been a handy, accessible tool for the millions of other Americans, all current or prospective trans allies, to know how to engage respectfully with trans people—until now.  PFLAG National—the nation's largest organization uniting families, friends, and allies with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ)—unveiled guide to being a trans ally, a new publication and training series from its signature Straight for Equality project. The guide, accompanying web resources, and training series will educate, engage, and empower more people to become active allies to people who identify as or happen to be transgender (or trans).
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Ready the Runway! Logo TV Announces Seventh Season Cast of Hit Reality Competition Series Rupaul's Drag Race

NEW YORK, NY – December 8, 2014 – RuPaul is back to storm the runway with the highly anticipated seventh season of the groundbreaking series, "RuPaul's Drag Race." Logo TV revealed the eagerly awaited cast comprised of the nation's 14 drag elite tonight during the "2014 New Now Next Awards." In a nod to superfans, Logo TV also launched a social scavenger hunt earlier this week via Snapchat and Facebook that culminated in the announcement of Miss Fame and Jasmine Masters as competing queens.
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ACLU Comment on DOL Final Rule Prohibiting Federal Contractors from LGBT Workplace Discrimination

WASHINGTON - December 3, 2014– This afternoon, the Department of Labor published a new rule to prohibit businesses that contract with the federal government from engaging in workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. 
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LGBT Leader Says New Labor Department Rules Could Cost Exxon Millions in Federal Contracts

Statement from Tico Almeida, founder and president of Freedom to Work on new Department of Labor rules regarding federal contractors: "Today's Labor Department regulations start a 120 day countdown clock for ExxonMobil, the most anti-gay corporation in America, to completely reverse their anti-LGBT workplace policies or face losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts next year. While our litigation against Exxon is currently before the Illinois Human Rights Department, the oil giants failure to change their policies opens them put to new legal complaints based on President Obama’s latest executive order.  As we look to settle our case, we call on Labor Secretary Tom Perez to help ensure that ExxonMobil adequately amends its Standards of Business Conduct and does away with its notorious and offensive anti-LGBT workplace policies and practices.”
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NCLR Statement on Staten Island Grand Jury's Decision Not to Indict Eric Garner's Killer

(San Francisco, CA, December 3, 2014)—Today, a Grand Jury in Staten Island decided not to bring charges against Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer that killed Eric Garner.
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NCTE Welcomes Non-Discrim Order Final Federal Contractors Rule

Washington, DC - December 3, 2014 - Today, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to implement President Obama's July 21 Executive Order 13672 prohibiting federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment practices on the bases of gender identity and sexual orientation.
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Marriages for Same-Sex Couples to Begin in Florida After Jan. 5

New York - December 3, 2014 – Today the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to extend a stay on marriages for same-sex couples in Florida. The stay expires at the end of the day on January 5, meaning that same-sex couples should be free to receive marriage licenses after that.
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D.C. Council Passes Groundbreaking Bill to Protect LGBT Youth from Conversion Therapy

(Washington, D.C., December 2, 2014)—Today, the District of Columbia Council unanimously approved a bill that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.
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Fighting Fair

Why do we fight, argue or disagree? We want our way. We want to be right. We want to get something. Are we willing to get it at any cost? For most of us, the answer is: no. In any relationship of worth, we want the relationship to prosper more than we want to "win".
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