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Puerto Rico governor signs new Civil Code

Activists say new statute opens door to anti-LGBTQ discrimination

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Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez (Photo via Twitter)

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez on Monday signed a new Civil Code that LGBTQ activists have sharply criticized.

Vázquez in a statement referenced George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis who died last week after a police officer put his knee on his neck for more than eight minutes. Vázquez also quoted Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Abuse, mistreatment, discrimination nor the violation of human rights in any way is neither acceptable nor permitted,” said Vázquez. “We all have a civic duty to respect that is fundamental in a peaceful society.”

Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para [email protected], a Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy group, in a statement noted the new Civil Code does not specifically mention LGBTQ Puerto Ricans.

“They removed the discrimination bans in order not to include sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Serrano. “When they gouge LGBTTIQ+ people’s eyes out, they gouge everyone’s eyes out.”

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz also criticized Vázquez.

“With this signature to the Civil Code, the governor makes it clear that she has no words,” said Cruz in a tweet with a screenshot that shows Vázquez signing the bill. “And worse, she creates the scenario for a rollback of our rights.”

Vázquez signed the new Civil Code against the backdrop of continued criticism of her administration’s response to the murders of nearly a dozen LGBTQ Puerto Ricans over the last year and a half.

Five transgender Puerto Ricans have been killed in the U.S. commonwealth since the beginning of 2020. These include Serena Angelique Velázquez and Layla Pelaz, two trans women who were murdered in April in Humacao before their bodies were placed inside a car that was set on fire.

Two men have been charged under the federal hate crimes law in connection with the trans women’s murders.

“Puerto Rico’s governor signed into law significant revisions to the island’s civil codes that shamefully ignore the urgent calls of local advocates to explicitly include vital, comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ residents,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David in a statement. “The government has failed to carry out its primary duty of ensuring the safety and well-being of all Puerto Ricans, including LGBTQ Puerto Ricans.”

“This year, there has been an alarming uptick in killings of LGBTQ people on the island,” added David. “The government should be doubling down on passing legal protections for the LGBTQ community and sending a clear message that LGBTQ people’s lives are worthy of equal dignity and respect.”

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Disney to require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees

We are requiring that all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. working at any of our sites be fully vaccinated

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Graphic courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

BURBANK – The Walt Disney Company sent a company-wide message to employees based in the United States that they must soon be fully vaccinated to come into the workplace. With Friday’s announcement Disney joined a growing number of American companies requiring a COVID-19 vaccination.

Disney said it will give all salaried and non-union hourly employees both vaccinated and unvaccinated who are on-site 60 days to provide verification of vaccination.

The company is having conversations around this topic with the unions representing their employees under collective bargaining agreements.

According to a company spokesperson, “This decision was based on the recommendations of scientists, health officials and medical professionals that vaccinations provide the best protection again COVID-19.”

“At The Walt Disney Co., the safety and well-being of our employees during the pandemic has been and continues to be a top priority,” according to a statement from Disney. “Toward that end, and based on the latest recommendations of scientists, health officials and our own medical professionals that the COVID-19 vaccine provides the best protection against severe infection, we are requiring that all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. working at any of our sites be fully vaccinated.

“Employees who aren’t already vaccinated and are working on-site will have 60 days from today (Friday) to complete their protocols and any employees still working from home will need to provide verification of vaccination prior to their return, with certain limited exceptions.”

The company also said all new hires would be required to be fully vaccinated before their employment begins.

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12 Republican Governors tell Supreme Court: Overturn Roe v. Wade

“The arguments made by the Mississippi Attorney General are chilling & pose a direct threat to the many members of the LGBTQ community […]”

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United States Supreme Court Building Washington D.C. (Blade File photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – In a brief filed Thursday by 12 Republican Governors, joined by 228 Republican members of the U.S. House in a separate brief, all are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, which protects women’s reproductive rights to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

This most recent push by Republicans comes as the high court is set to hear Mississippi’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, based on the Mississippi law that bars most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. There are no provisions for rape or incest either. 

The Governors from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Texas and South Carolina signed the brief.

The Court’s decisions in Roe […] are prime examples of invading an area that has not been committed to the Federal Government and remains reserved to the States,” the brief stated. In the brief submitted by House Republicans they argued that the high court should revisit the viability line established in its legal precedent set, because it “binds the States in a one-sided constitutional tug-of-war in which they are subject to intense factual scrutiny on the abortion advocates’ issues but unable to establish the factual basis for their own vital interests.”

SCOTUS Blog noted that oral arguments along with the briefs as submitted will center on whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.

The arguments made by the Mississippi Attorney General are chilling and pose a direct threat to the many members of the LGBTQ community who have a vital interest in reproductive freedom and choice.  Substantial research has documented that lesbian youth, in particular, are at high risk of unwanted pregnancy due to sexual coercion and attempts to hide their sexual orientation,” Shannon Minter, the Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), told the Blade Friday.

“And more broadly, the same groups and officials who are attempting to turn back the clock on women’s freedom are also seeking to roll back equality for our communities. Every LGBTQ person in this country has a stake in this case and in the ongoing battle for the fundamental right to make personal decisions free of government intrusion and control,” he added. 

A U.S. District Court blocked the law after the Jackson’s Women Health Center, the only remaining clinic in the state, brought the challenge arguing the law was a direct violation of the High Court’s precedent.

The primarily conservative leaning United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December of 2019; “In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability. States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not ban abortions.”

The appellate court upheld the lower court and concluded that “the law at issue is a ban.” The 5th Circuit blocked enforcement of the law, finding it in conflict with Roe v. Wade and subsequent abortion decisions.

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, abortion would remain legal in 21 states and would likely be prohibited in 24 states and three territories if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Axios reported. In 2018, an Axios-SurveyMonkey survey showed that the vast majority of Americans want to leave Roe v. Wade in place.

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President Biden announces new COVID rules for federal workers

Biden also urged private companies, manufacturers, and other corporations to get their employees vaccinated.

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President Biden delivers remarks on the next steps in his administration's effort to get more Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 and combat the spread of the Delta variant (Screenshot via NBC News YouTube)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden announced in a press briefing in the East Room of the White House Thursday, he has ordered that millions of federal workers across the country will be required to verify they’ve been vaccinated against the coronavirus or else face mandatory masking, weekly testing, distancing and other new requirements.

The president also plead with “those Americans who are unvaccinated- please go get vaccinated.”

Biden also urged private companies, manufacturers, and other corporations to get their employees vaccinated. Speaking about mask requirements that are going to be reinstated as well, the president cited the revised guidance issued by the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday.

The President said that he directed the Pentagon to look into adding the COVID-19 shot to its list of required vaccinations for members of the military. He then added that his administration will take steps to apply similar requirements to all federal contractors.

Biden citing the need to utilize funding from the American Rescue Plan, said that the various state and local governments should use those funds to incentivize vaccinations by offering $100 to individuals who get the shots. He also announced a federal program to fund reimbursements for small- and medium-sized businesses if they offer employees time off to get family members vaccinated.

Biden Delivers Remarks On Covid Vaccinations | NBC News WATCH:

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