TODAY: ADVOCATES SAY #NOMOORE IN ALABAMA: Y’all remember Roy Moore, the anti-LGBT Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, who decreed that marriage equality just doesn’t apply to his state? Well he’s back -- and today, he’s upping his ante in a press conference with his lawyers, calling for complaints against him to be dismissed. A release issued by the Liberty Counsel, designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), asserts that Moore will address complaints filed against him by the Human Rights Campaign, SPLC, People for the American Way, and others. Ahead of this afternoon’s press conference, HRC and grassroots advocates are once again calling for the removal of the Chief Justice in an online #NoMoore social media campaign.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Alabama, advocates are fighting a radical new ordinance approved by the Oxford, Alabama City Council last night -- an ordinance that prevents transgender residents and visitors from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity, and imposes a $500 fine or 6 months in jail on violators. Will all users of public facilities be required to produce birth certificates before entry? Will only some people be required to carry them (sounds like a violation of the equal protection of the laws)? Will citizens be empowered to call the police on those who look different? If people can't produce their birth certificate, how will law enforcement find out what a person's 'biological sex' is -- a physical inspection? For now these are questions without answers. City Council President Steven Waits admitted the ordinance was passed as a reflexive response to Target’s recent affirmation of its policy allowing customers to use store restrooms and changing rooms consistent with their gender identity. That means it is an extreme response to a non-existent problem. The ordinance even regulates private businesses, which is something even North Carolina’s awful HB2, which has rained condemnation down on the state, didn't do. Also unprecedented: imposing criminal penalties -- including jail time! -- upon transgender people who need to pee. Shame on Oxford. More from The Anniston Star.
ROBBIE KAPLAN, ACCLAIMED WINDSOR LAWYER, TO CHALLENGE MISSISSIPPI ANTI-LGBT LAW: Yesterday, Robbie Kaplan, the lead lawyer in the historic U.S. v. Windsor case that brought down DOMA, revealed her plans to challenge Mississippi’s new anti-LGBT law, HB 1523. The law 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, additionally permitting clerks who cite “religious beliefs” to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In a letter to Gov. Phil Bryant and other state officials, Kaplan requested notices for any clerks who plan to recuse themselves, a complete explanation of steps clerks will take to ensure no delay for same-sex couples seeking to marry, and asks whether clerks who refuse same-sex couples will continue to serve opposite-sex couples. Kaplan notes that last year a federal judge issued a permanent injunction barring Mississippi from treating same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples. As Mark Joseph Stern notes in Slate, treating couples differently could constitute de facto segregation, a violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Bryant has not responded to the letter. What is it about federal marriage equality that Mississippi just doesn’t get? More from The Clarion-Ledger.
REPUBLICAN NC SENATE RULES CHAIRMAN SUGGESTS PUTTING HB 2 ON A BALLOT: North Carolina’s Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca -- second in command to Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger -- yesterday said that he’s considering initiating a voter referendum to make HB 2 an amendment to the state constitution. Apodaca isn’t all talk, either -- as second in command to the senate leader, Apodaca has the political sway to make such a call. Recent polls find that a majority of North Carolina voters oppose the law. More from The News & Observer.
METHODIST BISHOPS IN NC CALL FOR HB 2’S REPEAL, URGE OTHERS TO ENGAGE IN “COURAGEOUS ADVOCACY”: Eight bishops who lead the United Methodist Church in North Carolina are speaking out against the state’s discriminatory HB2. In an open letter, the bishops urge lawmakers to repeal HB2, saying: “We dare not add to the increasing levels of fear, suspicion and divisiveness in our state and in our nation. Our calling to welcome, to forgive, and to love both God and neighbor is our powerful gift to the world. We observe the hurried passage of House Bill 2 and its resultant harm to North Carolina -- to individuals, to our economy, to our engagements with other states and nations, and to our future.” This isn’t the Methodist Church’s first foray into the debate over these discriminatory bills. Another group of Methodist ministers penned an open letter this week calling for repeal of Mississippi’s anti-LGBT measure. More from the International Business Times.
CLUELESS IN NC - TAR HEEL SEN. BUCK NEWTON WANTS TO KEEP THE STATE “STRAIGHT”?!?!: In the latest installment of “when will NC elected officials stop embarrassing the state?” state Sen. Buck Newton gave supporters of NC’s discriminatory, anti-transgender HB 2 a pep talk that, amazingly, actually contained a call to “keep our state straight.” (We pause to note that the clueless senator doesn’t know that sexual orientation and gender identity are two different things.) His disturbing comment, caught on video, however, isn’t funny. It’s simply another reminder that HB2 has nothing to do with “privacy,” and everything to do with ignorance and hatred of the LGBT community. More from Talking Points Memo.
LOL DU JOUR: COLBERT CALLS HB 2 SUPPORTERS “WEIRDOS”: Our favorite late night talk show host Stephen Colbert has called lawmakers who feel they need to dictate bathroom use “weirdos” on Tuesday night's episode. He says that these legislators are “obsessed with who's using what bathroom and what plumbing they've got downtown,” prompting the “weirdo” comment. The comedian even offered some tips for making people's public restroom experience more enjoyable, including: "no eye contact in the bathroom, no ‘chit-chat,’ no using the stall next to an occupied stall,” and ironically, “avoid using public bathrooms when at all possible.” More from The Washington Post.
ICING ON THE CAKE FOR COLORADO DISCRIMINATION CASE: The Colorado Supreme Court has upheld a ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals saying that a local baker cannot cite religious beliefs or free-speech as a legal reason to discriminate against same-sex couples. The case, brought by Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, involved his refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony in 2012, claiming free-speech rights. Phillips claimed that he does not violate the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act with his action because he sells “non-wedding cake products” to the LGBT community. The Colorado Supreme Court didn’t buy it. More from Fox 31 Denver.
SOUTH CAROLINA TRANS TEEN FIGHTS AGAINST ANTI-TRANS BATHROOM POLICY: According to CNN, a trans South Carolina student is fighting back after his school suspended him for using the boys’ bathroom. After R (who prefers not to use his full name) was suspended for using the facilities most aligned with his gender identity, he enrolled in online classes until graduation for fear of being further outed as transgender. Now, he is working with the Transgender Law Center and threatening taking legal action against Horry County Schools to ensure his experience isn't repeated for other trans students in his school. It is worth noting that South Carolina falls under the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, where a similar case determined the school’s actions violated federal civil rights law. More from CNN.
AROUND THE WORLD
WEDDING BELLS IN THE ISLE OF MAN: The Isle of Man, a small self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea, has passed marriage equality. The island passed the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Amendment) Bill, equalizing marriage and civil partnerships for all couples. Chief Minister Allan Bell sees this as a positive leap forward; homosexuality was criminalized on the island until 1992. We’ve always loved the idea of an island wedding. More from Gay Star News.
EQUALITY LEGISLATION DISCUSSED IN MALTA: New legislation in Malta could be a big next step for the Mediterranean island country. The Equality Act is believed to be the most crucial equality legislation in recent history, according to Malta’s director of Human Rights and Integration Directorate. The bill would allow class action for discrimination lawsuits and forbid businesses, political parties and insurance agencies from discriminating against LGBT people. More from Malta Today.
SAME-SEX COUPLE WINS CUSTODY BATTLE IN THAILAND: A same-sex couple has won a custody battle against a Thai surrogate who refused to give custody of the child away when she found out the couple was gay. The ruling, handed down yesterday by the central juvenile and family court of Thailand, represents the beginning of a cultural shift in the southeast Asian country around same-sex couples and families. The couple, Gordon Lake and Manuel Santos, are now able to live happily with their 15-month-old baby, Carmen, and her two-year-old brother, Álvaro. Congrats to the happy family! More from The Guardian.
The Dallas Morning News warns that anti-transgender legislation could be coming to Texas… The Associated Press shares that the Hawaii Legislature has banned health insurance companies from discriminating against transgender patients… The Post and Courier speaks to two SC Senate Democrats who have vowed to kill the state’s anti-transgender public accommodations bill… The Advocate reports that “the show must go on” in NC for Dolly Parton… BuzzFeed covers a LGBT-friendly rock band banned from playing in Jordan... The Washington Post Editorial Board “restores sanity” to the debate over trans bathroom use… HRC’s blog celebrates Arkansas State University’s new LGBT-inclusive Equal Employment Opportunity policy… and Gay Times uncovers the sad fact that discrimination leads to decreased mental health in young gay and bisexual men.
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