The Department of Defense (DoD) has blocked access to LGBT advocacy websites on military computers, according to an expose in AMERICAblog last week.
Websites such as GLAAD, AMERICAblog, Bilerico, Towleroad, and HRC Blog are categorized as "LGBT" and are not permitted by the filter service used by the Pentagon. Another website, Outserve.org, which is dedicated to creating a network of LGBT military members and respect for LGBT members in the service, is also prohibited under the category of "LGBT." In a statement released by the DoD, the Pentagon qualifies that these pages are also "Blog/Personal Pages" which are not permitted either. The DoD justifies that blogs and personal pages are restricted in accordance "with DoD policy allowing military commanders the option to restrict access to personal pages for operational security reasons." However, blogs by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and the blog of anti-gay extremist group Family Research Council are permitted.
The DoD utilizes web filtering software produced by Blue Coat Systems, which also provides filtering services to countries hostile to LGBT people such as Syria and Saudi Arabia. The company has previously come under scrutiny from LGBT advocates for blocking anti-bullying and suicide prevention websites, such as the Trevor Project, in school districts by offering the option to restrict access to LGBT sites. Other filter categories provided by Blue Coat Systems include "Abortion," "Alternative Sexuality/Lifestyle," "Alternative Spirituality/Belief," "Political/Activist Groups," "Sex Education," and "Violence/Hate/Racism."
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .