Milwaukee County Adds Domestic Partner Benefits

Good news from Fair Wisconsin:

FAIR WISCONSIN APPLAUDS MILWAUKEE COUNTY BOARD PASSAGE OF DOMESTIC PARTNER BENEFITS Board grants important protections to employees, moves County forward

Today members of the Milwaukee County Board approved a measure granting health care coverage to the same- and opposite-sex domestic partners of county employees. The final vote was 13-5.

“This decision marks an important victory for fairness. Providing equal employment benefits for all county employees is the right decision,” stated Katie Belanger, Executive Director of Fair Wisconsin.

“On behalf of Fair Wisconsin, other members of the Board of Directors and more than 20,000 members and activists statewide, I thank the members of the County Board and County Executive Chris Abele,” noted Fair Wisconsin Education Board President Robert Starshak. “The collective leadership of key board members, County Exec. Abele and other activists have been impressive. We look forward to continuing our work together to advance equality and move our state’s largest county forward.”

As the statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization, Fair Wisconsin is proud to have worked closely with members of the County Board and the County Executive to support the passage of this resolution. Providing domestic partner benefits and creating a more inclusive workplace is a critical step towards building a stronger, more diverse workforce that will lead Milwaukee County in the years ahead.

With the passage of this resolution, Milwaukee County has joined a growing number of employers who already grant their employees these critical protections, including the State of Wisconsin, the City of Milwaukee and Marquette University, and top private sector employers like Aurora Health Care and MillerCoors.

Best LGBTQ Books?

What struck me most about these lists of Top 5 LGBTW books by prominent LGBTQ authors is the very regular appearance of James Baldwin. I prefer Another Country but it and Giovanni’s Room are both fine, fine novels.

I do have a list of trans books. It does need updating, but a lot of the ones I’ve reviewed are still excellent choices. I’ve recently read Nick Krieger’s Nina Here Nor There
and Justin Bond’s Tango, and my reviews of those will appear in an upcoming issue of make/shift. If there are any books you’d like to see me review, let me know.

Yay New York!

It’s the first day of marriage equality in NY. These first weddings are going to be so full of joy:

How gorgeous.

The Problem with Voter ID

A Madison resident recently took her son to the DMV to get him a Voter ID card; they’re required by law here now, despite arguments that they will cause way too much voter suppression. The people who wanted it – Republicans – tend to do better at the poll when the voters who are easiest to suppress – youth, the elderly, the homeless, etc. – so despite there being no evidence of voter fraud, WI now requires a Voter ID.

It’s not as if I have to tell any of you why the DMV is a problem, but when it comes to Voter ID cards, there will be new problems – like clerks told to make sure a bank statement has “enough” financial activity to count as proof of residency.

If you’ve got a video camera & can record any and all experiences getting your Voter ID, do. Undoing this law is going to take a lot of evidence that it is suppressing votes.

DC Trans Woman Murdered: Lashay McLean

DC Trans Coalition has just reported the death of another young trans woman.

Washington, DC – In the early hours of Wednesday, July 20th, 2011, Lashay Mclean, a 23 year old transgender woman, was murdered in Northeast DC. The murder took place near the Wanda Alston House, a housing program for homeless LGBTQ youth operated by Transgender Health Empowerment (T.H.E.). Another trans woman was present during the attack and, thankfully, escaped. The Metropolitan Police Department has no leads or possible motives, and has not classified Lashay’s murder as a hate crime.

Lashay was a friend to many people in the community – including several DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) organizers who offer our sincerest condolences to those grieving this loss. We must stress once again the absolute necessity for the police and media to respect Lashay’s gender identity. The least we can do to honor her memory is to respect her chosen, lived identity.

While nothing can bring back those we have lost or undo the suffering, we can and should confront the daily terror and anxiety that trans and gender non-conforming people face. We can do this by building networks of mutual support and solidarity that sustain our efforts to feel safe and make change. Together, we must challenge the institutional racism, poverty, transphobic attitudes, lack of social services, criminalization of sex work, and other policies that jeopardize our security.

We demand that MPD make finding Lashay’s killer a top priority, lest she become a repeat of the unsolved 2009 lethal stabbing of Tyli’a “NaNa Boo” Mack in broad daylight, or the 2010 assault of Chloe Moore by an off-duty MPD officer who has not been charged in the case. “Lashay’s murder is yet another visceral reminder that transgender women are consistently placed in dangerous situations. These acts of violence are not isolated incidents. The recent findings of the DC Trans Needs Assessment show trans communities in DC have overwhelming concern for our physical safety,” said Sadie Ryanne Vashti, a DCTC organizer who knew Lashay. “Regardless of the individual motive in this case, our lives are institutionally marginalized and regarded as expendable. This makes trans women – especially women of color and those involved, or presumed to be involved, in the sex industry – far more susceptible to violence.”

We continue to hope for a future where there are no more senseless and violent deaths in our communities. Lashay’s memory will strengthen our resolve to continue surviving, supporting one another, and struggling for a better world. There will be a vigil July 23rd at 7pm on the 6100 block of Dix Street NE, the site where Lashay was killed.

Some days, working in and for the trans community is the saddest work. Love to all who knew Lashay.