HRC LAUNCHES 60-COMPANY STRONG BUSINESS COALITION TO PASS THE EQUALITY ACT: Today, HRC announced the launch of the Business Coalition for the Equality Act -- a coalition of 60 major American companies, including Apple, Coca Cola, the CVS Health Corp., Dow Chemical, Facebook, Gap, Marriott and more, that have officially endorsed the bipartisan legislation. With operations in all 50 states, the companies that make up the coalition employ over 4.2 million people in the United States. Reminder: a majority of states still lack fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, and there are no explicit federal protections against discrimination. Introduced one month after the historic marriage equality ruling, the Equality Act would finally guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBT people under our existing civil rights laws. Nearly two-thirds of self-identified LGBT Americans have reported experiencing discrimination in HRC’s polling, and currently 50 percent of LGBT Americans live in states where they are at risk of being fired, denied housing or refused service because of who they are or whom they love. Republican Senator Mark Kirk (IL) and Representative Bob Dold (IL) recently signed on as co-sponsors of the Equality Act, which was introduced last year by Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Cory Booker (NJ); and Representatives David Cicilline (RI) and John Lewis (GA). More here: ti.me/1M93yWx and bit.ly/1TOBWy9
SENATE COMMITTEE CONFIRMS ERIC FANNING: By a voice vote this morning, the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmed Eric Fanning to be Secretary of the U.S. Army. Fanning is the first openly gay man to be nominated to the position. This comes after he stepped down from the position earlier this year, due to concerns from some Senate Republicans regarding a possible violation of the Vacancies Act if Fanning served as acting secretary, while waiting to confirmed. More here: http://bit.ly/1RBRD5r
JONI MADISON NAMED HRC’S NEW COO AND CHIEF OF STAFF: HRC has named Joni Madison as the organization’s new Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff. Madison comes to HRC from McKinney, where she served as the Chief Operating Officer, overseeing the day-to-day operations of a national advertising agency that works with clients including Nationwide Insurance, CarMax, ESPN, Coca-Cola and General Mills -- all top-earners on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index. Madison has been a long term supporter and volunteer for HRC, serving on the Board of Directors from 2007 until 2014, and serving as a co-chair on the board from 2012-2014. She also served on the HRC Board of Governors from 2001 until 2006, coordinating fundraising efforts and managing volunteers throughout the country. Madison will take over as Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff after Ana Ma, who leaves the position after nearly three years of dedicated service and leadership at HRC. More here: bit.ly/1pguezZ
HAWAII MAKES MOVES TO GET “CONVERSION THERAPY” OFF THE ISLAND: On Monday, by a landslide vote of 22 to 2, the Hawaii Senate passed Senate Bill 2615, a vital piece of legislation that would protect LGBTQ children in Hawaii from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” The bill prohibits state-licensed mental health providers from advertising or providing “conversion therapy” to anyone under the age of 18. California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia have all passed laws protecting LGBTQ minors from the harmful practice and more than 20 states have introduced similar legislation this year. Following executive action from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, New York is also adopting regulations to do the same. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a federal court decision upholding the constitutionality of New Jersey’s law protecting LGBTQ youth from these practices to stand for the second time. Additionally, last month HRC, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a historic federal consumer fraud complaint with the FTC against a major provider of “conversion therapy.” More here: bit.ly/1pgugrB
ANOTHER ANTI-LGBT BILL ADVANCES IN VIRGINIA: The Virginia House of Delegates has voted to advance S.B. 41, an anti-LGBT bill that would allow religious organizations to refuse service to LGBT people. An alternate version of the bill passed the Senate last month and the bill now must be reconciled by Senate and the House to reach a jointly approved version. If a version of the bill is sent to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, however, he is expected to veto the legislation. Anti-LGBT legislators in the Virginia General Assembly introduced 10 bills attacking LGBT Virginians and their families this session alone. Many of them failed to advance, but among the bills introduced were attempts to undermine marriage equality, proposals aimed at authorizing individuals, businesses, and taxpayer-funded agencies to cite religion as a legal reason to refuse goods or services to LGBT people, a bill to prevent state universities and public schools from adopting LGBT non-discrimination protections, a bill to prevent transgender Virginians from changing their birth certificates to match their identity, and multiple bills seeking to restrict transgender people from using facilities consistent with their gender identity. More here: bit.ly/1UfSTzY
LARGEST SCHOOL DISTRICT IN NEW MEXICO CONSIDERING TRANS-INCLUSIVE STUDENT POLICIES: The Education Policy and Instruction Committee in the Albuquerque Public School District met yesterday to discuss the District’s treatment of its transgender students. The district is the largest in New Mexico, and currently does not have a non-discrimination policy for transgender students. At the committee meeting, officials discussed preferred name policies as well as a potential policy stating that transgender students may use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. These suggestions will go to the school board for further review, but do not require its approval. More here: bit.ly/1QEj5ln
PHOENIX CITY COUNCIL MEMBER CAUGHT ON TAPE MAKING HORRIFIC ANTI-LGBT REMARKS: Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski is coming under fire for a series of anti-LGBT remarks he made to a group of pastors last month. The exchange has been caught on camera--and it’s devastating. The video captures him saying “I never thought I would see the day that men and men would be married. Or where people were allowed to go into the same bathroom as my daughter. This world is changing, and it’s time for us to take the leadership and change it back to the way it should be.” Keep in mind that Nowakowski has backed LGBT equality in past saying, “love is love.” Equality Arizona, which had endorsed him in 2011, and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton have come out strongly against the councilman. Stanton issued a statement saying, “I am shocked that a councilmember who represents so many LGBT individuals in the heart of our city would hold such homophobic views. I condemn these ignorant comments in the strongest terms, and hope and pray the councilman will open his heart and begin to appreciate the diversity of the people he represents.” Not only should elected officials like Nowakowski be roundly condemned, but they need to be held accountable by fair-minded citizens at the ballot box. More here: bit.ly/1YBAr5q
TRANSGENDER MAN SUES PENNSYLVANIA FOR FAILING TO COVER GENDER-AFFIRMING SURGERY: A transgender man identified in court documents as “John Doe,” has filed a lawsuit claiming that Pennsylvania’s exclusion of gender-affirming surgery in its Medicaid program violates the Affordable Care Act’s non-discrimination regulations. The man, a teacher, is seeking coverage for a medically-necessary hysterectomy, according to the Advocate which reminds us that a trans man in Minnesota won a historic victory last year when a federal court ruled that healthcare providers and facilities accepting federal Medicare or Medicaid funds are prohibited from discriminating based on sex, including gender identity. The federal government has proposed rules that would ban transition-related exclusions like the one preventing John Doe from receiving his medically-necessary procedure. More here: bit.ly/1WbVSIC
AROUND THE WORLD
SAME-SEX ADOPTION RIGHTS MOVE FORWARD IN SWISS SENATE: On Tuesday, the Swiss Senate voted to reform the country’s adoption laws to allow people in civil partnerships to adopt their partner’s children from a previous relationship. This allows same-sex couples to bypass the five-year marriage requirement currently required for such adoptions, as Switzerland does not allow same-sex couples to marry. The bill must now be approved by the Swiss Parliament and possibly a public vote before it is adopted into law. This is an exciting change in the Swiss mindset from just 11 years ago, when the population voted to allow civil partnerships for same-sex couples, but specifically stipulated that same-sex couples would not be allowed to adopt. More here: bit.ly/1U3Z6A3
The Advocate asks about who will care for our aging LGBT population… Huffington Post exposes Rubio and Cruz’s anti-LGBT advisory board, and wonders where Trump’s is… The Daily Beast dives into why LGBT people are moving to conservative states… FiveThirtyEight looks at the changing rhetoric of the GOP party around ‘religious liberties’... Slate explains the (false) logic behind Puerto Rico’s marriage equality ruling… and Autostraddle highlights the seven most influential queer female characters on television in the past few years.
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