HRC FILES RECORDS REQUEST TO EXPOSE HB 2 DOCUMENTS: Yesterday, HRC and Equality North Carolina filed an open records request seeking documents from the offices of Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate leader Phil Berger and Speaker Tim Moore about HB 2. The Governor, who signed the bill in the dead of night the very day it was introduced, and the sponsors of the bill continue to defend the discriminatory bill and deny that it was motivated by anti-LGBT animus. For that reason, HRC is invoking the North Carolina Public Records Law to gain access to any communications the Governor, the Executive Branch or the General Assembly had among each other, or with the kind of extreme anti-LGBT special interest groups -- like the North Carolina Values Coalition or the Alliance Defending Freedom, who often craft and push these proposals. Last night, he joined Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Charlotte City Councilmember Al Austin, Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro, and other local LGBT community members for a town hall in Charlotte, where they discussed the latest in the fight to repeal the law. Momentum isn’t slowing down and advocates for equality continue to rally against HB 2.
HRC FACT-CHECKS MCCRORY’S PUBLIC STATEMENTS: In HRC’s newest video, we play a game of “True or False” with Governor McCrory. He doesn’t seem to have his facts together when talking about HB 2 but luckily, HRC is here to correct the record!
OVER 160 COMPANIES ARE NOW ON LETTER OPPOSING HB 2: Additional companies are urging Gov. Pat McCrory to repeal HB 2, despite his recent do-nothing executive order. Today, HRC and Equality NC announced that executives from the American Express Company, AXA Financial Inc., Bloomberg L.P., Capital One, Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, Campbell Soup Company, CohnReznick LLP, CrowdRise, eMaint Enterprises, LLC, Ernst & Young LLP, the Estée Lauder Companies, Inc., John Hancock Financial, Kohler Co., Logitech, Plum Organics, RBC Capital Markets, REI, Strava Inc., The Hartford, Time Warner Cable, United Airlines, Visa Inc. and Williams-Sonoma, Inc. have signed onto an open letter that now includes more than 160 leading CEOs and business leaders urging Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the radical provisions in the deeply discriminatory law that was rammed through the legislature on March 23rd. More on HRC’s blog.
RECAPPING HB2 -- WHY THIS BILL IS REALLY, REALLY TERRIBLE: North Carolina Gov. McCrory tried to distract from his appalling HB2 legislation this week with a contradictory EO. Here’s the low down on what is (still) wrong with HB 2:
TENN. GOVERNOR WILL CONSIDER BUSINESS VIEWS BEFORE SIGNING OFF ON ANTI-LGBT BILLS: In light of the economic backlash in North Carolina and companies who have contacted his office, Gov. Bill Haslam says he will consider how the anti-transgender bill would negatively impact Tennessee’s economy and business climate. On Wednesday, HRC joined with the Tennessee Equality Project, ACLU of Tennessee, Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition and local advocates 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. Gov. Haslam believes that schools have been adapting to students' needs appropriately, and hasn't heard any complaints from parents on bathroom policies. Coupled with the calls from corporations, Gov. Haslam says he has a good deal to consider if the bill lands on his desk. More from Knoxville News Sentinel.
“NASHVILLE” TV SHOW MAY PULL OUT OF TENNESSEE IF ANTI-LGBT LEGISLATION PASSES: Stars of ABC’s “Nashville” are speaking out against the anti-LGBT bills being proposed in Tennessee. Actress Connie Britton said she would not “feel comfortable” continuing to film the show in Tennessee should the legislation pass. Though the series spends roughly $20 million on local labor each season and Britton does not want to put people out of jobs, she acknowledges that sometimes the only way you can get legislators to listen is to hit them in the pocket book. Chris Carmack, another actor from the television series, also says he is “devastated” by the legislation. He and his fiancée had been considering purchasing a home in Nashville, but are having to reconsider since the legislation has come up. He says of the move: “...I guarantee you that there are many more individuals like myself and my fiancée who are potential long-term transplants from all over, who are saying, 'Is this a place I would want to call home? A place that would write this sort of thing into legislation?’”So it looks like Nashville could not only lose out to its television show counterpart, but also a host of new residents entirely. More from The Hollywood Reporter.
MISS. GOV SAYS PEOPLE ARE “OVERREACTING” TO HB 1523: Earlier this week, the New York Mississippi Society announced that it was cancelling the Mississippi Picnic in Central Park due to the passage of HB 1523 saying, “Any law such as HB 1523 that discriminates against even a single member of our community cannot be tolerated.” For almost 40 years, the festival -- which was started by a group of native Mississippians currently living in New York City -- has been a huge draw for the Hospitality State. Not surprisingly, Governor Bryant isn’t too pleased. He claimed that people were “overreacting” to the law and hoped that the event’s organizers would be opened to reviving the event in the future. Interestingly, he mentioned the “rich and diverse culture of the state” -- nevermind the fact that HB 1523 sends the distinct message that certain people aren’t welcome. More from The Associated Press, and check out this interview where Gov. Bryant defends to bill to Tim Weldon of the notoriously anti-LGBT American Family Association. Apparently it’s about “balancing the scales of justice.”
GULF COAST BUSINESS COUNCIL CALLS FOR REPEAL OF HB 1523: This week, the Gulf Coast Business Council released a resolution calling for the repeal of HB 1523, which they said is “damaging Mississippi’s ability to compete in the global marketplace.” The Business Council has a right to be worried -- some of the state’s top employers, including Nissan and Toyota, have panned the bill. HRC’s open letter calling for bill’s repeal has been signed by more than 60 major business leaders and CEOs from companies like Coca-Cola, Northrop Grumman, Intel and Replacements, Ltd and more. Read the council’s full resolution.
ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY CONTINUES TO REACT TO MS AND NC’S DISCRIMINATORY LAWS: Big names in the entertainment industry are continuing to distance themselves from the Hospitality State and the Tar Heel State since their discriminatory laws passed. Adding to a growing list, actress Sharon Stone and former Beatle Ringo Starr have both canceled engagements. Stone was set to shoot a film in Mississippi, and Starr had a scheduled performance in North Carolina. Both have spoken out against these anti-LGBT bills, saying that they will not work in these states so long as they choose to discriminate against the LGBT community. In his statement, Starr said that “we need to take a stand against this hatred,” and ended his call to action with a simple but poignant reminder from The Beatles: “All you need is love.” The band Mumford and Sons has chosen to react in a different way, however, and has announced that all of the proceeds from their show in Charlotte this week will go to a fund the band is creating to “support those who have made it their mission to pursue love and justice.” Cyndi Lauper who’s been an outspoken ally for the LGBT community is also moving forward with her concert, but all proceeds will go towards building “public support to repeal HB2.” ThinkProgress gives a great wrap-up of what performers are doing in protest of the North Carolina’s HB 2.
ACTRESSES DEBRA MESSING AND SELA WARD ALSO TAKE ON HB 2 AND HB 1523: Actress Debra Messing is not happy with having to work in North Carolina after the passage of HB 2. Messing is best known for her role as Grace on the pivotal sitcom “Will and Grace,” which has been heralded as opening doors for LGBT characters within the television industry. But unfortunately, Messing is scheduled to film a remake of “Dirty Dancing” in Asheville, North Carolina, and stated that she wishes that the green-light for the film “could have been stopped, but it was already in production and sadly it was determined to be too late.” Actress Sela Ward, a Meridian native, spoke out against Mississippi’s discriminatory legislation while promoting her new movie Independence Day this week. Ward told The Clarion Ledger that “passing the new law sets us back.”
BILL LICENSING STATE-SANCTIONED DISCRIMINATION BY CHILD PLACING AGENCIES ADVANCES IN ALABAMA: Earlier this week, the Alabama House Health Committee voted to advance a discriminatory bill that would allow state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT youth and families. If passed, HB 158 would authorize state-licensed and funded adoption and foster care placing agencies to discriminate against qualified LGBT prospective adoptive or foster parents, without the government being able to respond as it otherwise could to such discriminatory behavior. An agency could turn away a single parent seeking to foster a child in need and the single parent would have no legal recourse. Or, an agency could refuse to place foster children with members of their extended families -- a practice often considered to be in the best interest of the child -- based solely on the agency’s religious beliefs. Research consistently shows that LGBT youth are overrepresented in the foster care system, as many have already been rejected by their families of origin because of their LGBT status, and are especially vulnerable to discrimination and mistreatment while in foster care. By allowing for religion-based discrimination, HB 158 would only exacerbate the challenges faced by these children, adding another layer of trauma to their already difficult lives. Chief executives of major child advocacy groups have already come out strongly against SB 204 -- HB 158 Senate’s companion legislation which has already advanced out of committee -- in a letter that was hand delivered to members of the Senate Committee ahead of the vote. More from The Associated Press.
LOUISIANA GOVERNOR SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER GRANTING PROTECTIONS FOR SOME LGBT LOUISIANANS: Yesterday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards made good on his promise to issue an executive order protecting LGBT state employees, and we hope his fellow Southern governors are taking notice. Since taking office Edwards has been a breath of fresh air from Governor Bobby Jindal, who, while in office, allowed a similar order to expire, saying he didn’t think it “necessary to create additional special categories or special rights.” *Rolls Eyes.* Edwards’ newly signed order, however, unfortunately still allows for religiously-based state contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees while accepting taxpayer funds. HRC welcomes the news but calls on the state’s elected officials to pass a law protecting all LGBT Louisianans from discrimination in the all workplaces and beyond. Read the full executive order and learn more from The Times Picayune.
MAJOR CORPORATIONS URGE MISSOURI LAWMAKERS TO OPPOSE SJR 39: This week, more than 50 executives from major corporations, including Salesforce, Marriott International, Bloomberg L.P., Unilever, Intel, Yelp, The Hartford and many others, signed onto an open letter addressed to Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson. In the letter, the CEOs and business leaders urge state lawmakers to oppose Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 39. Similar to the anti-LGBT HB 1523 recently passed in Mississippi, SJR 39 would open up broad exemptions allowing people and businesses to discriminate against LGBT people without legal recourse. The discriminatory proposal has also received widespread condemnation from fair-minded Missourians and businesses. This week, Marc Shreiber, spokesperson for the Sports Commission, warned that Missouri 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. This would also affect the SEC and Big 12. Governor Jay Nixon, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, Dow Chemical Company and Monsanto have all condemned the measure along with The St. Louis Regional Chamber. Despite a historic filibuster by Senate Democrats attempting to stop the anti-equality majority from moving the resolution forward, the Senate passed the measure in early March, and it is now under consideration in the House of Representatives.
SOUTH CAROLINIANS HAVE NO APPETITE FOR HATEFUL ANTI-TRANS BILL: Despite tremendous backlash in other states for passing -- or even considering -- legislation that targets transgender students ability to access restrooms consistent with their gender identity, the South Carolina Senate is currently debating a bill that would do just that. At a public hearing yesterday, most participants railed against State Sen. Bright’s bill, that has already been dismissed by several of his colleagues including House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister. Earlier this week, Bannister told reporters, “It is unlikely, with all the issues that we have before us that we are going to be addressing Sen. Bright's bill regarding public toilets.” Gov. Nikki has already called the legislation unnecessary and the Greenville Chamber of Commerce has come out strongly against it. Seems like South Carolina is paying attention… More from The State.
COLORADO SENATE COMMITTEE SHAMEFULLY VOTES DOWN BILL BANNING “CONVERSION THERAPY”: Earlier this week Republicans in the Colorado Senate Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs failed their constituents by voting down a bill that would have protected LGBTQ youth from the harmful and discredited practice of “conversion therapy.”. Dave Montez, Executive Director of One Colorado decried the vote saying, “The conversion therapy ban did not receive a fair hearing today, just like it did not last year – and just like every bill that would improve the lives of LGBT Coloradans has not since 2014. It is unfortunate that Republican leadership in the State Senate is more concerned with placating the far-right fringe of their party than doing the right thing by LGBT Coloradans and their families.” Currently California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia have all passed laws protecting LGBTQ youth from this so-called therapy, and more than 20 states have introduced similar legislation this year. Following an executive action from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, New York is also adopting regulations to protect youth from this abusive treatment. HRC, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center have filed a federal consumer fraud complaint against a major provider of “conversion therapy,” urging the Federal Trade Commission to take enforcement action against the organization and all practitioners engaging in similar fraudulent advertising and business practices.
GEORGIA GOV. FEELS THAT HE DID THE RIGHT THING BY VETOING GA’S BILL, WE AGREE: Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is affirming to his critics that he made the right call when he vetoed his state’s own anti-LGBT bill last month. Deal says that the uproar he has seen in North Carolina and Mississippi are stark reminders of what could have happened to Georgia had he passed HB 757. He’s concerned that Georgia conservatives will again try to renew the measure during next year’s legislative session, but has made clear that he will veto it again should it come to his desk. In his first interview since striking down the bill, Deal said: “I don’t want to go through the same process all over again. I’ve made my position very clear. I tried to write a very thoughtful veto message. It expressed my concerns and it expressed my reasons for vetoing it. And those reasons won’t change in my mind.” He hopes that the backlash throughout other Southern states will be enough to dissuade his critics from attempting the process again. More from The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
ARKANSAS STATE LEGISLATIVE SESSION BEGINS: While some state legislatures have already adjourned, Arkansas’ is just beginning. Last year, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed legislation that mirrored the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While this legislation replaced the horrific H.B. 1228, it fell short of providing needed non-discrimination protections to all Arkansans. Lawmakers in Arkansas last year also eliminated the power of municipal governments to protect their LGBT residents and visitors from discrimination. This year, the Arkansas legislative session is restricted to fiscal matters and all eyes are on the fate of the medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which stands to impact over 200,000 Arkansans. While it is highly unlikely that religious refusal legislation will be introduced in Arkansas this year, other types of legislation, varying from targeting the rights of transgender people, to eliminating local non-discrimination protections, to explicitly authorizing anti-LGBT discrimination by individuals, businesses and even taxpayer-funded agencies, have been introduced in the neighboring states.
DOJ OPENS INVESTIGATION IN GEORGIA DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS TREATMENT OF LGBT INMATES: Yesterday, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia announced that they have opened a joint investigation into the Georgia Department of Corrections’ (GDC) treatment of transgender and gay prisoners. The announcement comes after several accusations of abuse against transgender and gay inmates of the GDC. One of the most high profile has been the case of Ashley Diamond, a transgender woman of color, who sued GDC in federal court alleging that the prison failed to stop other inmates from sexually assaulting her, and that she had been denied medical treatment for gender dysphoria. Diamond has entered into a settlement with GDC. HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow responded to the news saying, “We are pleased to see that the troubling scourge of violence and abuse suffered by transgender and gay inmates in Georgia is finally getting a full investigation by the DOJ. We have long known that transgender people in particular experience unacceptably high rates of abuse and mistreatment while in confinement facilities.
CAMPAIGN TO FIGHT LGBT DISCRIMINATION LAUNCHES IN TEXAS: Equality Texas, the Austin Police Department (ADP), the Texas Council on Family Violence and other organizations have teamed up for a new campaign focused on bringing attention to hate-motivated crimes targeting the LGBT community. At the launch event yesterday, Chuck Smith of Equality Texas said, “The vitriol, sexism, racism, anti-gay and anti-Muslim rhetoric in Texas and in America is fueling an atmosphere of hate in Texas and across the country that is causing innocent Texans to be beaten and almost killed. This rhetoric is unacceptable and has real consequences for real Texans who are victims of hate crimes.” The ADP hopes to develop and implement a series of new policies including training on domestic violence and search procedures for transgender citizens. Twenty LGBT people in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas have already been attacked this year. Mores from KXAN.
AROUND THE WORLD
REPORT: UK MUST DO MORE TO PROMOTE AND SUPPORT LGBT EQUALITY GLOBALLY: A new report from the the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT Rights (APPG LGBT) has found that the government of the United Kingdom has a lot of work to do when it comes to supporting LGBT equality world wide. They group, which has the support of more than 100 MPs and Peers, is calling for a more “coherent, co-ordinated cross-Whitehall strategy for promoting equality for LGBT people around the world.” More from Pink Star News and read the full report.
GROUP SEEKING TO DECRIMINALIZE SAME-SEX RELATIONS IN KENYA: A group in Kenya is challenging the constitutionality of parts of the Kenyan penal code that criminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults. Their case is set to be heard by the constitutional and Human Rights Division of the Kenyan High Court according to The Associated Press.
Time and The Huffington Post explore the ways Corporate America has been an ally of the LGBT movement… The Associated Press reports that Salt Lake City City Council will vote to name a street after Harvey Milk… Vocativ travels the country pointing out city governments banning travel over anti-LGBT laws… The Advocate lists all the economic losses of North Carolina’s HB 2… The Associated Press briefs on the anti-LGBT laws proposed across the country… Talking Points Memo laughs at NC Gov. McCrory’s executive order addressing HB 2… Vox shares a video explaining how bathrooms became a battleground for trans rights... Mother Jones shares the personal story of a transgender man living in North Carolina… The Times Picayune lists a growing group of big businesses that support Louisiana's pro-LGBT executive order… The Advocate discusses how the slew of anti-LGBT bills are also part of the war on women... The Kansas City Star shares what’s happening in Kansas where anti-equality legislators are trying to pass an appalling bill that would essentially put a bounty on transgender students… The Hartford Courant highlights the state of Connecticut's efforts to welcome businesses that value LGBT equality… The Boston Herald gives us the latest in the fight for transgender equality in Massachusetts.
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