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#AM_Equality Tip Sheet: March 7, 2016

by HRC staff March 07, 2016


SCOTUS UNANIMOUSLY REVERSES ALABAMA COURT’S REFUSAL TO RECOGNISE SAME-SEX ADOPTION: This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision that denied recognition of an adoption by a lesbian non-biological mother. The plaintiff, V.L., and the defendant, E.L, in the case were together for almost 17 years -- E.L. gave birth to three children while they were in a relationship. The couple temporarily moved to the state of Georgia so that V.L. could formally adopt the children, but the Alabama Supreme Court argued that Georgia had erred in allowing the non-biological mother to adopt the children without first terminating the parental rights of the biological mother. This is a huge win in the ongoing fight for adoption rights for same-sex couples. HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow praised the news saying, “Any attempt to deny legal rights to our families is reprehensible, and this ruling established that bias and discrimination cannot be allowed to undermine the bond between LGBT parents and their children.” HRC congratulates the courageous plaintiff and her legal team, including the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), on their victory. More here: usat.ly/1M2QYIp

DONALD TRUMP DUCKS ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY: A curious moment on the campaign trail unfolded over the weekend when the Daily Mail’s David Martosko asked Donald Trump Saturday night about the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. Trump has previously said he believes in “traditional marriage,” said that evangelical voters can “trust me” to oppose marriage equality and made clear that he would appoint justices who would overturn the ruling. But on Saturday, he wanted no part of the conversation, telling Martosko to “sit down” when he tried to ask a follow up question. The Advocate describes the scene: “‘We have policy on it, and I've said it very, very strongly, and I think you know it,’ Trump shot back at Martosko. ‘And it's all done and, you know, how many times do I have to say it?’” Perhaps The Donald dodged because he’s seen the polls that show the vast majority of Americans support both marriage equality and full LGBT equality under the law? More here: bit.ly/1p2nOno

DONALD TRUMP AND TED CRUZ SPLIT STATES ON SUPER SATURDAY: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz each claimed delegates Saturday in the race for the GOP nomination for president. For LGBT voters, a victory by either in November would be a disaster. In a statement HRC President Chad Griffin laid out just how much is at state come November. Cruz and Trump have sworn to roll back marriage equality, and both support religious refusal legislation that would empower all the Kim Davises of the world to deny service to LGBT people. HRC has endorsed Hillary Clinton, the champion we need to beat back these anti-LGBT candidates this fall and fight for full federal equality on her first day in office. Watch here to see a new video HRC released highlighting what’s at stake in November: bit.ly/1TmheoT

MUST WATCH: KESHA ACCEPTS HRC’S VISIBILITY AWARD AT ANNUAL NASHVILLE GALA: Check out Kesha’s must-watch acceptance speech from the 21st annual HRC Nashville Equality Dinner this past weekend. On Saturday, Kesha got emotional while accepting the HRC Visibility Award, which recognized her efforts to use her incredible talent and visibility to help better the lives of LGBT people, and especially youth. An outspoken advocate who refuses to accept labels, she has used her spotlight to bring attention to the bullying and harassment that many LGBT young people continue to face. In her speech, Kesha said, “[M]y message today is don't be afraid to speak up against any injustice you experience. Don't let people scare or shame you into changing the things about you that make you unique…We can't be afraid to fight for our dignity. These are our basic human rights." Watch here: bit.ly/1OXtwMz

CATHOLIC SCHOOL IN RI PREEMPTIVELY BARS TRANSGENDER STUDENTS: Mount Saint Charles Academy in Rhode Island hasn’t been approached with requests to admit transgender students, but that didn’t stop the private Catholic institution from quietly issuing an edict asserting it would not accept or accommodate transgender youth. The school told the Daily Beast that the policy, which was adopted last fall but is just now gaining the attention of alumni, was “not intended to be discriminatory.” David Coletta, a 2009 graduate of the academy, has started a Change.org petition asking the school to “leave the hateful rhetoric in the past [and] accept trans students.” He told the Daily Beast that the policy “goes against their own teachings” and is “completely different than how they teach their students to behave. We were always taught there to be very accepting and loving of others.” More here: thebea.st/1X1V8pA

STATE SNAPSHOT

ALABAMA SUPREME COURT SAYS MARRIAGE EQUALITY IS HERE TO STAY (YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT): On Friday, the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed lawsuits challenging the marriage rights of same-sex couples in the state. The plaintiffs in the case, the Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP), the Alabama Policy Institute (API) and Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen, contended that the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling did not apply to the state of Alabama, and that there was precedent for discarding a ruling by the Supreme Court that was believed to be unlawful. The nine justices of the Court, including anti-marriage equality Chief Justice Roy Moore, dismissed the suit with a one-page order and 170 page opinion. Don’t worry though, Moore made it clear that he still opposes the constitutional right of loving same-sex couples to marry -- a move that should surprise no one considering the fact that in January, he issued an order saying that the state’s probate judges “have a ministerial duty” not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision. More here: on.mgmadv.com/1paJGxA

COLORADO HOUSE ADVANCES PRO-TRANSGENDER LEGISLATION: Last week, lawmakers in the Colorado House advanced legislation that would allow transgender Coloradans to change the gender on their birth certificates without having to undergo gender affirmation surgery. The bill now heads to the Senate for a vote, where a similar measure was rejected last year. One Colorado Political Director Laura Reinsch praised the vote, saying, “This legislation will help thousands of transgender Coloradans, and it harms no one.” With over 40 anti-transgender bills introduced in 16 states this legislative session, this is certainly a significant victory. Five Republicans in the House voted with Democrats to advance the bill. More here: cbsloc.al/1YmzxcQ

BAY CITY, MI MAY BE CONSIDERING LGBT INCLUSIVE NDO: Officials of Bay City, Michigan are open to considering an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance and are holding an open session later today to hear residents’ thoughts on the matter. Last month, state House candidate Brian Elder called for the Bay City Commission to pass such an ordinance, saying, “Bay City, like other municipalities, has updated its ordinances over the years as best practices became available, but it has been a patchwork approach. What we don't have is a clear anti-discrimination ordinance that covers all facets of city business." According to MLive.com, officials rejected a similar ordinance in March 2014 by a 4-3 vote after months of consideration. Michigan is one of more than 30 states without explicit protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations. More here: bit.ly/24LSw5d

ADVOCATES FIGHT TO DEFEAT SJR39 IN MISSOURI: Last week, HRC had staff on the ground working in Jefferson City, MO alongside our partners at the ACLU of Missouri and PROMO to defeat Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 39, a measure that would put dangerous religious refusal provisions on the ballot. The discriminatory measure currently sits in the Senate where it could be called for a vote at any time. Across the state, more and more leaders are speaking out against this ballot effort. Faith leaders and businesses, including the iconic Midwest company Cash Candy, are calling on fair-minded lawmakers to stand on the side of justice and equality. More here: bit.ly/1p5DmHF

TRANSGENDER ARKANSAS TEEN WINS TOP RECOGNITION: In recognition for his advocacy work on the right of transgender people to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity, Arkansas teen Lucas Segal has won a trip to San Diego through the Students Taking Action with Recognition competition. Winning this honor is by no means an easy task. According to The Sentinel-Record, “Participants must demonstrate their knowledge, skills and ability to actively identify a local, state, national or global concern, research the topic, identify a target audience and potential partnership, form an action plan, and advocate for the issue in an effort to positively affect a policy or law.” Segal, who began transitioning two years ago, says that although the issue of bathrooms has become a national issue, for him it still remains very personal--that’s why he wanted it to be the focus of his study. HRC congratulates Segal on this incredible honor and thanks him for choosing to live openly every day. Segal and his mother were featured in HRC’s Winter 2015 Equality Magazine in a piece titled “Loving Lucas.” More here (paywall): bit.ly/1LM71Q2

AROUND THE WORLD

ITALIANS ARE NOT HAVING IT: Last month, the Italian Senate passed a civil unions bill that does not grant adoption rights to same-sex couples, and Italians are not happy. For the past few days, protesters have taken to the streets to express their disdain for the measure, which is now in the hands of the House. The Italian government stripped the bill of adoption rights to get opponents who thought it would have legalized surrogacy on board, and have now said they are working to update adoption laws separately. More here: bit.ly/1M2HahC and yhoo.it/1LLQZpe

IT COULD HAPPEN IN OZ: Australian Attorney General George Brandis came out in favor of marriage equality over the weekend and claimed that by the end of 2016 there will be a plebiscite (i.e. a referendum). Though supporters of marriage equality argue that spending the $160 million it would take to conduct this national vote is a bit ridiculous, they are hopeful that with over 70% of the nation supporting marriage equality, the plebiscite will finally bring equality Down Under. More here: bit.ly/1RONTQA

PRIME MINISTER AND OPPOSITION LEADER IN MALTA SAY THEY’RE FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY: The push for marriage equality in Malta is in full swing. Local advocates are calling for lawmakers to introduces a bill legalizing same-sex marriage “without delay” following the news that both Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Opposition leader Simon Busuttil are on board. Muscat told Malta Today, “Although some people might think that the public isn't ready for gay marriage, I think that the country requires leadership. We must continuously keep looking forward.” Meanwhile, Busuttil has called for civil unions to be updated to civil marriages. If only places like Italy where relationship recognition for same-sex couples has been an uphill battle would follow suit. More here: bit.ly/24LSKJz

WHAT’S IN A NAME: An Ecuadorian province has taken a small symbolic step towards marriage equality. Though same-sex marriage or civil unions are not recognized by the Ecuadorian government, the Azuay province has voted to allow LGBT couples to register their partnerships as a “symbolic gesture.” However quaint, it would be much better if LGBT couples could also be afforded the same rights and dignity awarded all married couples. More here: bit.ly/21gVIRB

READING RAINBOW

The Nation investigates why there’s a rise in anti-transgender legislation… the Advocate highlights the late Nancy Reagan's involvement in the HIV/AIDS crisis… CTV News explores a new report in Canada on LGBT seniors who worry about discrimination in retirement housing… BuzzFeed looks at the “propaganda” ban that may be coming to Indonesia… Associated Press showcases Utah’s first ever gay wedding expo… Artsy profiles two Bangladeshi artists using their work to spotlight transgender issues… The Associated Press covers the first public same-sex weddings in Cyprus… Gay Star News tells us about the backlash following a pro-LGBT ad in Taiwan… The Idaho Statesman gives an update on what’s going with Idaho’s “Add the Words” bill… Buzzfeed breaks down what domestic violence in the LGBT community can look like… TIME shares the stories of Kenya’s LGBT refugees… WNCT chronicles lawmakers’ reactions to the possibility of a special session in Alabama… and the Washington Blade covers the launch of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce in the Dominican Republic.

Have news? Send us your news and tips at AMEquality@hrc.org. Click here to subscribe to A.M. Equality, and follow @HRC for all the latest news. Thanks for reading!





HRC staff
HRC staff

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