aroundtheregion

Wisconsin
Madison-based Intervarsity Christian Fellowship is purging any employees who support LGBTQ people, the Associated Press reports:

One of the largest evangelical college ministries in the U.S. has asked any staff members who support same-sex relationships to quit, a move critics call a purge and supporters laud as an affirmation of true Christianity.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship informed all staff about the policy over the summer after issuing a position paper based on their three years of study of sexuality that concluded sex should be reserved for marriage between a man and a woman. The organization’s leaders said employees are expected to “believe and behave” in accord with InterVarsity’s stand on sexuality, including not engaging in immoral sexual behavior or promoting positions that conflict with the group’s beliefs.
“If they disagree, we trust that they will alert their supervisors and conclude their work,” within two weeks, the leaders wrote in a letter the Madison, Wisconsin-based InterVarsity provided Friday to The Associated Press. “We expect that staff who continue to disagree will act with integrity and let their supervisor know.”
The new policy was first reported by TIME magazine, and prompted a swift backlash on social media, inspiring the hashtags #InterVarsityPurge and #InterVarsityDoBetter.

A new play in Madison takes aim at electoral politics with an openly gay presidential candidate, Madison Magazine reports:

It’s (yet another) indication that the 2016 presidential election cycle has become a never-ending carnival of crazy that StageQ’s production of “Commander” (playing in the Bartell Theater’s Evjue space through Oct. 24) feels almost calm and controversy-free by comparison. In the short span of months since playwright Mario Correa wrote it late last year, the notion of the first openly gay presidential candidate has somehow become, well, quaint.

Thanks, Donald?
Being overshadowed by the lunacy of current events certainly doesn’t mean StageQ’s production doesn’t pack a lot of poignant power into its hour and a half production. Director Kathleen Tissot picked a great cast of actors as her running mates, and they’re working with great material here. Correa’s script feels honest, insightful, and, best of all, avoids preachiness. That’s a ticket that’s easy to endorse.
Given that our candidate, Ned Worley (Matt Korda), is frequently referred to as “the accidental governor of Rhode Island”—he ascended from his Lite Gov role when his running mate was impeached—you’d expect him to be some kind of variation of the presidential doppelganger Kevin Kline played in Dave, the nice-guy outsider who saves the world and teaches us all a valuable lesson. Try again: Ned’s actually got a deep ambitious streak, some seriously unresolved emotional issues and a fiery temper. “Somebody’s going to be first,” he tells his long-time partner Richard (Dennis Yadon) in a futile attempt to get him on board with the idea of a presidential campaign. “Why not me?”

Wisconsin’s voter ID law would likely disenfranchise transgender voters and that law is back in the courts, the Associated Press reports:

Wisconsin’s voter ID law should be suspended for next month’s election in light of new audio recordings revealing state Division of Motor Vehicles workers giving inaccurate information about what’s required to vote, a liberal advocacy group argued in a motion filed Tuesday in federal court.
The motion from One Wisconsin Institute argued that the state is “nowhere close” to being in compliance with a federal court order detailing how the law should be administered. It was filed just hours after the head of the state Department of Transportation tried to reassure lawmakers that front-line workers would receive additional training with the election just five weeks away.
A previously released recording by the group VoteRiders revealed three DMV workers giving incorrect information to a Madison man about whether he could get an ID without a birth certificate. Reports about that recording motivated Peterson to say last week that the state appeared to not be in compliance with his July order to promptly issue voting credentials to anyone who lacks documents needed to get an ID. Peterson ordered the state to investigate and report back to him by Friday.
Gottlieb told the Legislature’s rules committee that investigation is continuing but has been hampered because investigators lack the full transcripts of the exchanges in the offices.
The rules committee, which is controlled by Republicans, voted Tuesday to extend the credential protocols until early December. The three Democrats on the panel voted against the extension, saying DOT can’t make the process work and DMV employees are discouraging people from voting.
Up to 34,000 transgender people in the United States meanwhile could face problems voting in next month’s election because their ID cards do not match their gender, advocacy groups said, urging them to use a postal vote to avoid being turned away at the polls.

Wausua School District will maintain its gender inclusive policies, the Wausau Daily Herald reports:

Transgender students in the Wausau School District can use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice and play on intramural sports teams of the gender with which they identify.
The Wausau School Board this week tweaked district rules pertaining to transgender students, keeping a provision that requires staff members to talk with a student about his or her transgender status before discussing the issue with parents.
The rules don’t expressly require or exclude communication with parents.
“The board felt it was better for now to leave that open,” said board President Lance Trollop.
Some transgender students might not be open with their parents and fear for their safety if they came out at home, according to the rules. The rules state that students’ needs will be considered by school staff on a case-by-case basis.
School Board members voted on minor changes to the guidelines and the district will start using the rules immediately without any further votes or discussion, Trollop said.

On Milwaukee profiled on of the state’s longest married same-sex couples on the 2-year anniversary of marriage equality coming to Wisconsin:

Milwaukee’s LGBTQ community was elated – and then deflated – in June 2014 when a historic marriage equality ruling was stayed after just one week. Four months later, Wisconsin residents woke up on to a most startling October surprise.
On Oct. 6, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from five states wanting to maintain same-sex marriage bans that lower courts had already rejected as unconstitutional. Marriage equality immediately became the law in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin victory began with eight brave plaintiff couples and an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, and ended with defendant Gov. Scott Walker acknowledging defeat. “For us, it’s over in Wisconsin,” said Walker. “Others will have to talk about the federal level.”
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court did exactly that, with a ruling that granted the freedom to marry to all 50 states.
Marriage had long been out of mind and out of reach for gay and lesbian couples. Suddenly, marriage became not just a very real option, but a very real expectation. Long-term same-sex couples suddenly had to answer a new and unexpected question: So … when’s the wedding?
Gary Kampe and David Roberts are one of these couples. They met one fateful night in 1978 at The Factory, Milwaukee’s most legendary disco at 158 N. Broadway. “If you want to make it, make it at The Factory,” said the club’s famous ads.

Wisconsin Public Radio profiled one of the state’s first LGBTQ politicians:

In November 1978, Dick Wagner was driving in Madison when he heard the news that gay activist and San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk was shot and killed. It inspired him to enter the world of politics and join the ranks as one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States.
“It was very moving,” Wagner said of hearing news reports that day which featured messages Milk recorded anticipating he might be assassinated. “I had started being involved with some gay efforts in town, but that had really pushed me forward to do more.”
Wagner would go on to become chair of the Dane County Board of Supervisors. In those early years of taking office, he said homophobia and threats made against him were a daily reality. The mortal risk was on his mind.
“I did think of it, not with a great deal of weight, but it was not far from my mind at times. But if you let yourself be immobilized by that, you won’t do what you need to do,” Wagner said.
Compared to many other cities, particularly in Wisconsin, Wagner said Madison was friendlier for gay politicians. The city had already adopted a nondiscrimination ordinance on the basis of sexual orientation in 1975. In 1982, the state passed its own nondiscrimination bill.

South Dakota
A representative from the Williams Institute at UCLA visited the University of South Dakota to talk about disparities for LGBTQ people in that state, South Dakota Public Radio reports:

A scholar from the University of California Los Angeles says the LGBT community has a long way to go to achieve legal equality. That’s despite the fact the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage this summer.
The University of South Dakota Law School held its annual Lavender Lecture this week. The event was hosted by OUT-Laws, a student group that brings discussion about LGBT issues,and Women in the Law.
Adam Romero is a lawyer from the nation’s only LGBT policy think tank. He has helped conduct multiple studies into LGBT discrimination, especially in work places. Romero says the data is quite staggering.
“We know from the data from the census on same-sex couples, is that men in same-sex couple tend to earn 20% less than men in different sex married couples. Interestingly though, lesbians or women in same-sex couples actually earn much, much less than women in different sex couples. So the national trend that I mentioned earlier actually doesn’t hold for South Dakota. Based on the census data, women in same sex couples earn something like 66% less than women in different sex married couples,” says Romero.

Iowa
Sen. Chuck Grassley’s opponent was endorsed by the Human Right Campaign last week, according to a press release:

Today, HRC announced its endorsement of Patty Judge for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Chuck Grassley.
“Iowa has long been a leader when it comes to LGBTQ equality, and Patty Judge will finally bring those Iowa values to the U.S. Senate so that LGBTQ people all across our country can live free from fear of discrimination,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “While Patty Judge will fight for Iowa values of fairness and equality, Chuck Grassley has abused his leadership position in the Senate to block any progress on equality. Grassley has demonstrated again and again that he would leave LGBTQ people around the country at risk for being fired or denied a job because of who they are or whom they love.”
The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute found strong support for LGBTQ equality in Iowa, which was the fourth U.S. state to gain marriage equality. Iowans reported supporting marriage equality by a 56-35 percent margin, while Iowans support LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections by an even larger 71 to 24 percent margin.

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Andy Birkey
Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

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