LGBT ADVOCATES DELIVER LETTER FROM EXECUTIVES CALLING ON TENN. LAWMAKERS TO HALT DISCRIMINATORY BILLS: This morning, HRC President Chad Griffin joined the Tennessee Equality Project, ACLU of Tennessee and Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition to hand deliver a letter to Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate President Ron Ramsey. Signed by top executives, the open letter -- which has 60 signatories from major companies including Dow Chemical Company, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Alcoa Inc. -- calls on Tennessee lawmakers to abandon their legislative assault on transgender students. The executives are joined by country music stars including Emmylou Harris, Chely Wright, Ty Herndon and Miley Cyrus, who are publicly condemning these discriminatory bills, along with Country Music Television and its parent company, Viacom. The Tennessee General Assembly’s Fiscal Review Committee warned that the discriminatory legislation could lead to $800,000 in lost revenue and $324,000 in expenses -- in addition to the potential loss of billions in federal funding. The state’s Attorney General and Governor Bill Haslam have also both voiced concern about the potential dire financial consequences of the discriminatory legislation. Over the past month, bills with language similar to Tennessee’s discriminatory proposal were vetoed in South Dakota, but enacted in North Carolina, where lawmakers are facing fierce backlash. Senate and House versions of the discriminatory bill are currently making their way through the Tennessee State Legislature. Read the full letter.
WITH WEAK EO, MCCRORY DOUBLES DOWN ON MOST DAMAGING PROVISIONS OF HB 2: It’s unclear what Gov. McCrory was thinking, but the weak executive order he signed yesterday afternoon doesn’t do anything to solve the problem he created when he signed HB 2. While the EO extends protections to state workers, it does nothing to fix the vile and discriminatory provisions in HB 2. Under HB 2, transgender people are prohibited from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in public buildings, including the University of North Carolina campuses and the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Cities still cannot adopt ordinances designed to prohibit discrimination against their residents and visitors. And, yesterday’s action does not undo the damage to the state nondiscrimination laws, which now prevent individuals from bringing suit in state courts. HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow blasted the governor for his continued failure to lead saying,“The governor’s action is an insufficient response to a terrible, misguided law that continues to harm LGBT people on a daily basis. It’s absurd that he’ll protect people from being fired but will prohibit them from using the employee restroom consistent with their gender identity. The North Carolina Legislature must act to right this wrong as swiftly as possible. They created this horrendous law, and they need to repeal it.” More than 140 business leaders are calling for a repeal effort during the upcoming legislative session and a number of businesses have begun to remove investments from the state.
ONE DAY, TWO BRUTAL NC EDITORIALS: Two North Carolina editorials are calling out Gov. McCrory for his supposed “modification” of HB 2 after releasing an executive order on Tuesday that claimed to “clarify” the law. The editorials from the News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer both slam the governor for publicly stating that he rolled back the law’s provisions, when in reality he seems to have simply been trying to do damage control for the sake of his image, and consequently, upcoming bid for reelection. The Charlotte Observer amusingly compared the governor to Wizard of Oz, stating: “McCrory’s Executive Order 93 and his trumpeting of it had all the bluster of the Wizard of Oz’s fiery head and imposing voice. But North Carolinians should pay attention to the man behind the curtain. McCrory is frantically pulling levers and pushing buttons, but this is still a state government without a brain, or a heart or courage.” Both editorials call for the governor to put an end to all of the spectacle, and call for full legislative repeal of HB2.
NO NETFLIX AND CHILL FOR NORTH CAROLINA GOV. MCCRORY: Netflix doesn’t want to chill over HB 2, as it shouldn't -- in an attempt to save face in the wake of mass criticism, North Carolina Gov. McCrory issued an executive order yesterday that insufficiently purported to address some of the law's discriminatory stances. But Netflix and Viacom, as well as several other media companies, are saying it's too little too late, as the executive order does not do enough to properly undo the damage caused to the LGBT community by HB 2. It looks like McCrory will have to find another place to watch Orange is the New Black… though, based on his actions, we assume he isn’t a huge fan anyway. More from The Hollywood Reporter.
NC REP: I WAS WRONG TO VOTE FOR HB 2: In an op-ed for Fayetteville Reporter, Democrat State Rep. Billy Richardson says that he regrets his vote for HB 2, which he calls a mistake he is now hoping to make right. Richardson writes, “Since our hasty vote on HB 2, I have been haunted by the fact that in one rushed action, I undermined a lifetime of fighting against those who would demonize a group of citizens to gain political advantage and to advance an unjust agenda.” The bill was introduced, debated, voted on and signed into law all in the span of 12 hours, during a hurried special session that was convened specifically to implement this draconian measure. Rep. Richardson now joins the chorus of fair-minded North Carolinians and Americans calling for the repeal of HB 2. Read his op-ed on The Fayetteville Reporter.
FAIR MINDED LAWMAKERS ANNOUNCED EFFORT TO ROLL BACK ANTI-LGBT HB 1523: At a press conference yesterday, Mississippi State Rep. Jay Hughes and members of the Mississippi House of Representatives announced efforts to overturn HB 1523, a discriminatory bill targeting LGBT people that was signed into law by Governor Bryant on April 5. Rep Hughes announced that he is seeking to suspend regular House rules in order to introduced the “Mississippi Economic and Tourism Recovery Act.” Two-thirds of House members must vote in favor of suspending the rules to allow a vote on the proposed legislation to repeal HB 1523. Top executives from major corporations have publicly opposed the legislation and signed on to HRC’s open letter calling for a repeal. Additionally, rocker Bryan Adams cancelled a concert scheduled for later this week in Biloxi, MS, and nearly 100 prominent writers from the state, including John Grisham and Kathryn Stockett, signed a letter protesting the discriminatory law. ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who is featured as the welcoming face of the Hospitality State’s official tourism guide, also decried the legislation saying, “hurts my soul to think of anyone not feeling welcome.” Under this new law, religion could be used by almost any individual or organization to justify discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples, and others. More from The Associated Press.
MISSOURI STANDS TO LOSE MILLIONS IN SPORTING EVENTS IF SJR 39 PASSES: It looks like Missouri won't be playing ball anytime soon if it passes the anti-LGBT SJR 39, as the NCAA, SEC, and Big 12 have all informed the Show-Me State that they don't approve of such discriminatory measures. Marc Shreiber, spokesperson for the Sports Commission, has warned Missouri that it stands to lose $50 to $60 million in direct spending from sporting events alone should this measure pass, and could all but forfeit their chances of securing the NCAA championships in the coming years. SJR 39 went up for a hearing in the state's House Emerging Issues Committee on Tuesday. The discriminatory proposal has received widespread condemnation from fair-minded Missourians and businesses throughout the state, including Governor Jay Nixon, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, Dow Chemical Company and Monsanto. The St. Louis Regional Chamber said the proposal is “counter to Missouri values and will have negative economic consequences.” Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have also spoken out against the resolution. Despite a historic filibuster by Senate Democrats attempting to stop the anti-equality majority from moving the resolution forward, SJR 39 came to House after the Senate passed the measure in early March. More from KMOV.
MISSISSIPPI PICNIC IN CENTRAL PARK CANCELED DUE TO MISSISSIPPI’S ANTI-LGBT LAW: New York is letting Mississippi know that it's passage of an anti-LGBT law is certainly no picnic. The 37th Annual Mississippi Picnic in Central Park, which was created as a large promotional and networking event for Mississippians living in The Big Apple, has been canceled. The New York organizers were the ones to officially cancel the event, saying that Mississippi's law is not in accordance with New York values. They noted that Mississippi writer Tennessee Williams, who the event has honored in the past, could be legally denied entry into a restaurant in the state today because he openly identified as gay. More from the Jackson Free Press.
NEW REPORT: HB 2 THREATENS MORE THAN HALF A BILLION DOLLARS IN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY: Check out this new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) which lays out just how much economic fallout North Carolina can expect because of HB 2. With the loss of investments from companies like PayPal, Deutsche Bank and others, as well as the potential loss of Red Ventures, the NCAA and more, state lawmakers are putting more than half billion dollars in economic activity at risk according to the report. HB 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, and compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in publicly-owned buildings, including in public universities, publicly-owned airports, and publicly-owned convention centers. Read CAP’s full report.
FAMILY MEMBERS OF MISSISSIPPI POLITICIANS CRITICIZE HB 1523: Family members of Mississippi politicians, some of whom had a hand in passing that state's anti-LGBT bill, are speaking out. John Fillingane, the gay brother of Mississippi Sen. Joey Fillingane, said he was deeply disappointed in his brother for helping pass HB 1523. He said of the bill: "I am so saddened by the bill the legislators passed in Mississippi. I have cried several times today due to the fact that my brother Joey Fillingane agreed with the ignorant governor... I wished that they could see that discrimination is the same thing as hate." Also joining in the chorus of criticism is the daughter of Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, Kate Cochran. In her statement, Cochran called the law "acutely embarrassing" to the state, and said, "There is simply no need to continue defending the religious rights of people who already enjoy full rights under the law."
PROPOSED SC ANTI-TRANS LEGISLATION ALREADY HAS COMPANIES SAYING “NO THANKS”: Following the introduction of a South Carolina bill that would bar transgender residents and visitors from using bathroom facilities consistent with their gender identity, one CEO is already halting plans to open his company’s headquarters in the Palmetto State. The State reports that Anthony Watson, who is openly gay and the CEO of Uphold -- a British financial services company-- is now headed to the West Coast to set up shop stateside. On Uphold’s website Watson wrote, “I have watched in shock and dismay as legislation has been abruptly proposed or enacted in several states across the union seeking to invalidate the basic protections and rights of LGBT U.S. citizens. As such, we feel compelled to take action to oppose the discrimination being proposed in South Carolina and protect our LGBT employees.” Luckily SC Gov. Nikki Hayley has already made it clear that she doesn’t think the bill necessary. It’s first hearing is expected to take place today. More from The State.
AROUND THE WORLD
ONE SMALL STEP IN CHINA: Today, a court in China ruled against a gay man seeking relationship recognition. Though this is a setback for those fighting for equality, LGBT advocates are proud that at the very least this has raised the visibility of the plight of LGBT Chinese people. The plaintiff plans to appeal the ruling. This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end of the fight for marriage equality in China. More here from The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
The Advocate chronicles one Mississippi lawmakers quest to overturn their anti-LGBT law; The Business Insider discovers that, despite being more progressive than some, North Carolina really is just another Southern state; and ABC13 highlights a crowd-funded, LGBT children’s fairytale book.
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