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#AM_Equality Tip Sheet: April 20, 2016

by HRC staff April 20, 2016


HB2’S FUTURE CONTINUES TO LOOK GRIMM: The Fourth Circuit ruling in Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board nullified one of the many discriminatory provisions in HB2 yesterday. Over 20 conferences and institutes are hightailing it out of the Tar Heel State, costing North Carolina millions. Two major chambers of commerce are also calling out the bill. Here’s what you need to know:

  • WHAT DOES THE FOURTH CIRCUIT'S RULING MEAN FOR NORTH CAROLINA’S HB 2?: A Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling invalidated one of the discriminatory provisions in North Carolina’s HB2. Among the many terrible provisions of HB2, the law barred transgender students from using public school restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit upheld the U.S. Department of Education’s assertion that the nation’s civil rights laws protect transgender students from discrimination, including in the provision of bathrooms, and directed the lower court to revise its findings accordingly. The case was brought by the ACLU on behalf of Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student whose lawsuit against Virginia’s Gloucester County School District alleges the district violated Title IX by denying him use of the boys’ restroom. In its 2-1 decision, the Fourth Circuit affirmed that school districts denying transgender students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity are in fact directly violating Title IX of the Education Act of 1972. That’s true of the Virginia district that has been discriminating against Grimm, and it is true of any school that chooses to comply with HB2 in North Carolina, which is also in the Fourth Circuit. HB2 subjects schools to massive liability, and it puts an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education at risk, as well as any other funds a school may receive from another federal source. Unsurprisingly, NC Gov. Pat McCrory is already calling foul saying that the federal government is overreaching - not that overreaching seemed to be a concern to him when his HB2 told cities and school districts how to do their jobs. It should also be noted that back in November, McCrory begged NC Attorney General Roy Cooper (his now gubernatorial opponent) to have North Carolina sign onto an amicus brief opposing Grimm’s position in the case. Cooper said no thanks. Cooper also refused to defend the legal challenge that has already been filed against HB2 since he believes it is unconstitutional. HRC renewed its call for HB2’s full and immediate repeal.
  • HB2 IS ALREADY COSTING NORTH CAROLINA MILLIONS: Tourism and convention bureaus in some of North Carolina’s largest cities are speaking out about the toll Gov. Pat McCrory’s discriminatory HB2 law is taking on their economies. The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau told local media this week that because of McCrory’s law the city has lost more than $3 million in revenue, with $2.4 million evaporating this past week alone. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority told The Charlotte Observer that at least 20 conventions and events have left Charlotte over HB2, and another 36 are reconsidering. They are projecting that Charlotte will lose a staggering $86.4 million-plus in direct spending through 2020. Reports say that Durham will likely lose $1 million after B Corps cancelled an annual CEO retreat planned for the city, and the Greensboro Area Convention and Visitors Bureau says that three cancelled conventions have already cost the city $5 million. The Huffington Post breaks it down.
  • ANOTHER NATIONAL CONFERENCE LEAVES NC AFTER HB2: The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) voted to move its 2016 National Institute, citing concerns over HB2. In a statement, the Association pointed out that North Carolina’s discriminatory law “contradicts the core values, purpose and diversity work of ALSC and undermines civil rights and the fundamental principles upon which libraries are founded.” This is the latest of many, many conferences that have opted not to do business in a state that actively discriminates against its LGBT citizens and visitors, costing the state millions in lost revenue. At least 20 other groups have left the Queen City alone over concerns about HB2, with many more leaving other large cities in the Tar Heel State. Even if McCrory doesn’t care about the discriminatory harms HB2 is inflicting upon North Carolinians, he should at least take note of how it’s affecting North Carolina’s economy. HB2 is bad for business. More from The Charlotte Observer.
  • NC CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE JOIN CHORUS OF THOSE CALLING FOR HB2 REPEAL: The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce along with the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce are urging NC Gov. Pat McCrory to repeal HB2, which prevents local cities from enacting their own non-discrimination protections; forces transgender North Carolinians to use restroom facilities in schools and on publicly-owned property inconsistent with their gender identity; and bars people who are targets of discrimination based on any protected characteristic, including race and religion, suing in state court. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns the governor and state legislators about the dangers HB2 poses to youth across the state, and more than 160 major corporations have now signed an open letter calling for the law’s repeal. Mayors and governors across the country are banning travel to the state, musicians are cancelling concerts, and The New York Times editorial board called North Carolina a “pioneer in bigotry.” North Carolina’s General Assembly reconvenes on Monday, and state lawmakers are under increasingly intense pressure to take action to remove the law’s radical provisions.

MISSISSIPPI MESS: MORE ON THE FALLOUT FROM HB 1523: Here’s the latest on the Magnolia State, where mayors, city councils, comedians and musicians are calling for the repeal of HB1523, the so-called “Religious Liberty Accommodations Act,” allows almost any individual or organization to use religion as a justification to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at school and in their communities.

  • BILOXI OFFICIALS DEMAND REPEAL OF HB 1523: Just hours after the discriminatory HB 1523 was passed in Mississippi, Biloxi Mayor Gilich called for its repeal. The Biloxi City Council has unanimously voted to join the mayor, demanding that elected officials strike down the law. A two-thirds majority is needed in the state legislature to repeal the law.
  • TRACY MORGAN: NO FUNNY BUSINESS IN MISSISSIPPI: Comedian Tracy Morgan has cancelled an April 29 show in Tunica, Miss., taking a stand against HB1523. Morgan joins other stars including musician Bryan Adams and actress Sharon Stone who are speaking out against this terrible law.. Additionally, more than 60 leading CEOs and business leaders-- including executives from Bloomberg LP, CVS Health, Dropbox, Hilton Worldwide and Salesforce-- have signed onto an open letter calling on Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip A. Gunn to repeal HB 1523. More from The Clarion-Ledger.
  • BELINDA CARLISLE, “PROUD MOTHER OF GAY CHILD”, CALLS MS HB 1523 “DEVASTATING”: Belinda Carlisle, of The Go-Go’s rock band fame, called out MS HB 1523 in advance of her upcoming Mississippi performance. In a letter to Governor Phil Bryant, Carlisle urges him to work on repealing the discriminatory bill. “As the very proud mother of a gay child I can't imagine anything less Christian than using the law as a weapon against others,” Carlisle eloquently writes. “Because of my career as a performer and the privilege that has brought to our family, my son will be all right, but the pain you're causing LGBTQ Mississippians is devastating, especially the transgender folks and LGBTQ people of color who will be most directly impacted by these attacks.” She intends on using her upcoming concert to speak out further about the bill, and uplift the stories of LGBT Mississippians who are directly affected by this bill. More from The Huffington Post and Towleroad.

TARGET REAFFIRMS POSITION ON LGBT INCLUSION: Yesterday, retail giant Target came out in support of the transgender community in a statement saying that transgender customers are free to use whatever restrooms or dressing room facilities that align with their gender identity. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman, said it is not a new policy, but the retailer wanted to clarify its position given questions it has received from both customers and employees amid the national debate. Executives sent an email to store leaders earlier this week to convey the message.” Target is a top earner on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index. Hundreds of executives and CEOs from major corporations have come out against legislation targeting the LGBT community this legislative session. So far Kansas, North Carolina and Mississippi have passed anti-LGBT laws in 2016. Read Target’s full statement.

CLINTON’S BIG WIN IN NEW YORK ADDS TO HER DELEGATE LEAD: Hillary Clinton’s big win in New York last night will grow her delegate lead. BuzzFeed’s Dominic Holden did a deep dive heading into election night on how the Clinton Campaign courted a key constituency in New York -- LGBT voters. “The campaign has circulated 22,000 pieces of literature promoting her record on LGBT rights, run banner ads on gay blogs with a large local readership, and pinpointed LGBT neighborhoods for canvasses. Numerous LGBT groups have helped with outreach such as wrangling volunteers and staffing phone banks, including the Stonewall Democrats and Human Rights Campaign.” More from BuzzFeed.

12-YEAR SENTENCE FOR THE MURDER OF ISLAN NETTLES: Yesterday, the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan sentenced James Dixon with 12 years of jail time for the 2013 murder of Islan Nettles, a transgender woman. Nettles was an assistant at a fashion company, and was murdered in Harlem by Dixon after he flirted with her and was told she was transgender. Nettles’ murder is just one of an epidemic of transgender violence that claimed at least 21 lives in 2015 alone. The victim’s family has spoken out against this sentence, claiming it was too light given the brutal beating that resulted in Nettles’ death. “He can go home after those 12 years and see his family,” she said in tears. “It’s not fair.” Turning to Mr. Dixon, she said: “How can you sleep at night? How can you rest? I can’t rest.” More from The New York Times.

BASEBALL’S CURT SCHILLING POSTS TRANSPHOBIC IMAGE ON FACEBOOK: This week, ESPN baseball analyst Curt Shilling posted a disturbing and transphobic image and comment on his Facebook page, remarking on the recent legislation across the nation limiting transgender people’s access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. He posted the comment along a horrific anti-transgender meme, which was later removed from his Facebook page. Schilling’s comments are addressing the onslaught of legislation nationwide targeting transgender people, and particularly children. This year an unprecedented 44 anti transgender bills introduced in 17 states. An ESPN spokesperson told Big League Stew, “We are taking this matter very seriously and are in the process of reviewing it.” More on HRC’s blog.

STATE SNAPSHOT

KENTUCKY ROUNDUP: On Friday, the legislative session in Kentucky came to a close. The 2016 session was marked with the defeat of nine anti-LGBT bills and the successful amendment of another.

  • For months, legislators worked on the so-called “Kim Davis Fix,” which was aimed at revising state laws around marriage license forms in the state. A misguided bill, Senate Bill 5, would have created two separate forms from which couples would choose when applying for a marriage license. One would list a “bride and groom” and the other, intended for same-sex couples, would list "first party and second party." With the endorsement of Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, the legislature passed SB216 which many considered a fix to SB5: it gives marriage license applicants the option of checking "bride," ''groom" or "spouse” and does not include the clerk’s name on the form.
  • Senate Bill 180, an outrageous bill that would have undermined state and local protections against discrimination for a host of minority communities in Kentucky by allowing businesses like photographers, tailors, engravers or any other businesses that provide custom goods and services to discriminate and refuse service for any reason, is the other anti-LGBT bill that did not pass this session. In addition to putting LGBT people at risk for discrimination, under SB180, single mothers, interfaith couples and interracial couples would also have been at risk. This bill passed the Kentucky Senate, but the House failed to take it up.
  • On a positive note, the Kentucky Competitive Workplace Act, legislation that would add employment protections for the LGBT community to the state’s Civil Rights Act, received bipartisan sponsorship in both chambers this session. This year, the bill was backed by the Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalition, which is made up of over 200 businesses who are committed to LGBT inclusion in the workplace. While the bill failed to pass this session, it received a hearing where testimony in support was provided on the record.

SALT LAKE CITY STREET TO BE NAMED AFTER HARVEY MILK: The Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously to change its 900 South Street to Harvey Milk Boulevard. The campaign for the name change was spearheaded by Salt Lake City Councilman Stan Penfold, who said Milk "imagined a brave world where everybody -- everybody -- had value and civil rights." Milk, an activist and one of the first openly gay elected officials in the US, was killed in 1978 and has been seen as a pillar for the LGBT movement ever since. SLC currently has an openly-lesbian mayor, Jackie Biskupski, the first in the city’s history. But of course, the change was met with some opposition -- one man said that the new street signs were "contrary" to his personal beliefs. How streets signs manage to cause that much personal affliction, we're not sure.

AROUND THE WORLD

UK THROWS SHADE: The United Kingdom is casting some serious side eye at the US But don’t dump your tea in the Boston Harbor just yet. Ahead of President Obama’s visit across the pond, the U.K. foreign office has updated its travel warnings about the US. New warnings point out discriminatory legislation in Mississippi and other states. The new travel warning seeks to remind LGBT travelers that some states in the US seem bent on giving the rest of us a bad name. More from Pink News.

READING RAINBOW

The Huffington Post details the many, many entities that have spoken out on NC HB2… Fortune points out that being out is good for business… and The Guardian makes the case for embracing corporate allies.

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
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