TODAY, HRC EQUALITY CONVENTION BEGINS WITH AMBASSADOR POWER, ROBBY MOOK AND SENATOR CORY BOOKER: Kicking off today, HRC has announced that Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power will be speaking at its annual Equality Convention. The gathering--which includes hundreds of volunteers from across the country, as well as HRC’s staff, steering committees, and its boards of directors--will have the opportunity to hear from Senator Booker and Mook today, and Ambassador Power tomorrow (Saturday, March 12) in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Power and Senator Booker have both used their positions to passionately advocate for LGBT equality. A longtime friend of HRC and champion of LGBT equality, Senator Booker received a perfect score on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard for the 113th Congress. As one of the original co-sponsors of the Equality Act -- landmark federal legislation that guarantees explicit, permanent protections for LGBT people from discrimination -- he continuously demonstrates his devotion to issues of equality and fairness. Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook will also be speaking to attendees on what’s at stake for LGBT people this year. Hillary Clinton has presented a clear vision for a better future for LGBT people across the nation, and is the champion we can count on to win in November. In 2015, Ambassador Power’s leadership was instrumental in the UN General Assembly’s approval of extending staff benefits to all same-sex couples. She and her Chilean counterpart also made history by convening the first-ever UN Security Council meeting on LGBT rights last August, which focused on the violence the Islamic State (ISIS) inflicts on LGBT peoples. More here: bit.ly/24UJoLC
HRC LAUNCHES BUSINESS COALITION FOR THE EQUALITY ACT: In a blog for the Huffington Post, HRC Foundation’s Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training MB Maxwell discusses the launch of the new Business Coalition for Equality.With operations in all 50 states, the 60 companies that make up the coalition employ over 4.2 million people in the United States. These companies, ranging from the tech industry to food producers to hotels and beyond, have banded together to support the Equality Act, which is a necessary step to guarantee protections for LGBT Americans by explicitly extending federal non-discrimination protections to LGBT people in employment, housing, education, credit and public services and spaces. See the full coalition here: bit.ly/1YDqjch
STUDY CONFIRMS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LGBT PEOPLE SPIKES STRESS LEVELS: The American Psychological Association’s annual survey, Stress in America, found that adults in the U.S. are increasingly stressed, particularly those facing -- or even just anticipating -- discrimination. "Certain populations consistently struggle with stress more than others, such as Hispanic adults, who report the highest stress levels on average. Younger generations, women, adults with disabilities, and adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender also report higher average stress levels," the APA said in a statement about the report, subtitled The Impact of Discrimination, released Thursday. Just anticipating discrimination, the organization found, leads to “heightened vigilance,” contributing to stress. LGBT adults are far more likely to experience extreme stress, the APA found, than non-LGBT adults -- 39 percent vs. 23 percent, with job stability cited as a significant source of stress, More here: bit.ly/1LWwI08
PAPA CRUZ DOES PREACH: In an interview with the conservative Breitbart News, Rafael Cruz, father of Ted Cruz, warned about the “destruction of the traditional family” if a “liberal” justice takes the Supreme Court seat left open by the late Justice Scalia. Also in his tirade, he mentioned that the Supreme Court could cost America the Second Amendment and religious freedom, and bring about “abortion-on-demand to the day of delivery” as well as the overall destruction of society. More here: bit.ly/1QJN2BU
MISSOURI SENATE CONTINUES ATTACK ON LGBT PEOPLE: Last night by a vote of 23 to 7, the Missouri Senate advanced Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 39 to the House of Representatives. Gaining national attention after a historic filibuster by Democrats earlier this week, the outrageous measure proposes to allow individuals, organizations, and businesses to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people. Similar to the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act” legislation introduced in other states, this extreme resolution would lead to a ballot measure that, if approved by voters, would enshrine discrimination against LGBT people and their families into the state constitution. If the House of Representatives passes the resolution, it would go directly to the ballot and the governor would have no opportunity to veto it. HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow condemned the bill saying, “SJR 39 is an irresponsible and shameful attempt by Missouri lawmakers to put LGBT people and their families in serious danger of even further discrimination. The freedom to practice one’s religion is one of the founding principles of our country, but to use it as a means of state-sanctioned discrimination is completely unacceptable. We call on the Missouri House of Representatives to listen to the overwhelming chorus of pro-equality voices outraged by this proposal and reject this attack on LGBT people.” The resolution addresses no real problem in the state as no federal or state law requires religious organizations or clergy to sanction or perform same-sex marriages. More here: bit.ly/1U6mPj0
MARRIAGE EQUALITY PLAINTIFFS AND LIFELONG CATHOLICS CALL ON KENTUCKY ARCHBISHOP TO HEED POPE’S CALL FOR YEAR OF MERCY AND FORGIVENESS: Kentuckians Greg Bourke and husband Michael De Leon, two of the plaintiffs in the Obergefell v. Hodges U.S. Supreme Court case that resulted in marriage equality, have shared a moving plea to Catholic leaders: extend to the LGBT faithful the love and compassion Pope Francis calls for during the church’s Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. In a piece published in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Bourke recounts the couple’s commitment to the church -- “from hospitality and groundskeeping, to coaching soccer and serving on our Parish Council.” He writes of the heartbreak last year when his offer to lead a church-sponsored Boy Scout troop was personally rejected by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz. “Time and again, we have been made to feel shame and exclusion by the very church that teaches love, compassion, and mercy—our church,” Bourke writes. “It is a travesty of God’s true love for LGBT people and there is no better time for it to cease than this Jubilee Year of Mercy.” Bouke and DeLeon, named “persons of the year” in 2015 by the National Catholic Reporter, and other Catholics and Allies are making a pilgrimage Sunday to Louisville’s Cathedral of the Assumption for an evening Mass. More here: cjky.it/1Rc1ZZ2
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER CALLS OUT THE ALABAMA SUPREME COURT ON THEIR “SHENANIGANS”: In an op-ed titled, “Supreme Court dodges more nonsense from Alabama,” the Montgomery Advertiser Editorial Board blasted the Alabama Supreme Court for consistently being on the wrong side of issues and wasting the taxpayer dollars of the hard working people of Alabama. Earlier this week, 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, and last week the Alabama Supreme Court begrudgingly dismissed lawsuits challenging whether the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality really applied to the state. As the board writes, “This is merely another in a long list of wrongheaded, costly court controversies foisted on the taxpayers of Alabama by anti-same-sex marriage extremist Chief Justice Roy Moore and his band of cohorts on the state Supreme Court.” As you celebrate what a good few days it’s been for equality in Alabama, read the editorial here: on.mgmadv.com/1nCaNA1
PHOENIX CITY COUNCILMEMBER ISSUES APOLOGY FOLLOWING ANTI-LGBT REMARKS: Phoenix city councilman Michael Nowakowski called a press conference yesterday to address horrendous anti-LGBT remarks he made to a group of pastors last month. In the disturbing remarks caught on video, Nowakowski, who has actually backed LGBT equality in the past, says, “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.” While trying to save face at the press conference, he said he “misspoke during an emotional conversation” on prayer, and expressed ongoing difficulty with reconciling marriage equality with his Catholic faith. Nowakowski’s comments were roundly condemned, including by the Phoenix Mayor who spoke out to share his disgust and shock. Is the apology enough? LGBT advocates are calling for his resignation. More here: abcn.ws/1RUo9T4
MICHIGAN STATE SCHOOL BOARD DISCUSSES LGBTQ POLICIES: LGBTQ-inclusive student policies could be coming to Michigan, as the state Board of Education is discussing adopting inclusive policies regarding the use of restrooms based on gender identity and training staff members on LGBTQ issues. These discussions come after education officials pointed out the disparities between LGBTQ students and non-LGBTQ students -- LGBTQ students are twice as likely to be threatened with a weapon at school or skip school because they do not feel safe. Official decisions on these potential policies are expected at the end of this school year. More here: bit.ly/1Xg3g6d
AROUND THE WORLD
CONSOLATION PRIZE: Slovenian LGBT activists have been having a rougher time than Miss Colombia (Sorry Steve Harvey). Last year the Slovenian government passed legislation that would make marriage equality the law of the land. Opponents of equality countered by gathering enough signatures to hold a national referendum on the issue. Unfortunately the voices of discrimination won out over equality. But now the government is offering Slovenian LGBT people a consolation prize, which will hopefully be a step in the right direction. The proposed same-sex civil union legislation would give same-sex couples many of the rights afforded to their opposite-sex counterparts. Taking a page out of Italy’s book, these rights do not include the right to adopt. More here: bit.ly/1LWygHD
Washington Blade covers a homophobic petition to remove U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster… Mashable shares India’s first gay prince’s message about the LGBT community... the Salt Lake Tribune chronicles the demise of pro-equality bills in Utah this legislative session…. and the Advocate discusses how President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have embraced marriage equality.
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