SOTU PREVIEW: A LOOK BACK AT PRESIDENT OBAMA’S LEGACY ON LGBT EQUALITY AND WHAT’S AHEAD: From a record number of appointments of LGBT judges and ambassadors, to the institution of far-reaching administrative and regulatory policy changes, President Barack Obama has been a stalwart champion of the LGBT community. Last year’s State of the Union was one for the books. The transgender community was explicitly included for the first time, along with the lesbian and bisexual communities, and President Obama reiterated his commitment to full equality for LGBT Americans, calling marriage equality a fundamental “civil right.” Tonight, President Obama will deliver his eighth and final State of the Union address, and we’re reminded that there is still much work to be done. The patchwork of current LGBT legal protections leaves millions subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination that impacts their safety, their family and their way of life. We’ll be watching, not just to celebrate how far we’ve come, but to keep pressure on elected officials to continue to move the needle toward full LGBT equality. Read more on the Obama Administration's policy advancement here: bit.ly/1RJh4p9
NOT THE ONION: KIM TO ATTEND STATE OF THE UNION: That’s right, everyone’s favorite county clerk who famously used her religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT Americans, and flout the rule of law, will be attending President Obama’s final State of the Union address. Hopefully President Obama will give her a special shout out. More here: bit.ly/22XqnXJ
2016 LEGISLATIVE PREVIEW: 14 LEGISLATURES IN SESSION, 19 MORE CONVENE THIS WEEK: With the 2016 legislative session underway, 14 state legislatures are already in session. While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of nationwide marriage equality in 2015, battles remain at the state and local level. There are no clear state laws protecting residents and visitors from anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in a majority of states across the country. More than 115 anti-LGBT bills were introduced in 2015, many of which have been held over to 2016. At least 27 states have a high likelihood of anti-LGBT legislation in 2016. The types of legislation vary 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. Check out HRC’s snapshot of what legislation to expect from the 33 state legislatures in session this week here: bit.ly/1l1hdHt More here: wapo.st/1OLStyY
NO BEN CARSON, WE’RE NOT ABNORMAL: Right Wing Watch catches Ben Carson saying what he really thinks -- that LGBT people are “abnormal.” Here’s how Ben Carson described his opposition to marriage equality, “Everybody is equal, everybody has equal rights, but nobody gets extra rights. And when we start trying to impose the extra rights based on a few people who perhaps are abnormal, where does that lead?” Watch here: bit.ly/1OZ0NO0
A.M. MUST READ: NY GOV. CUOMO ON FULL EQUALITY FOR TRANS PEOPLE: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo addresses full transgender equality in an op-ed in the Advocate this morning. From fighting for marriage equality, to combating HIV/AIDS, to removing obstacles and improving opportunities for transgender Americans, Gov. Cuomo has made LGBT equality a core part of his agenda during his tenure. Today he outlines his plan for full transgender equality in New York State. Cuomo will be honored with the National Equality Award at HRC’s New York Gala on February 6. Read the op-ed here: bit.ly/1OoCCD2
SCOTUS DECLINES TO HEAR CASE ON SAME-SEX PARENTAL RIGHTS: The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of Peggy Willis, a lesbian woman who was denied parental rights to a child she raised with her former partner. The couple was together for 11 years but never married. SCOTUS let the lower court’s ruling against Willis stand. More here: yhoo.it/1SeraQm
ACTING ARMY SECRETARY ERIC FANNING STEPPING ASIDE (FOR NOW): Acting Army Secretary Eric Fanning, who is openly gay and has yet to be confirmed in the role, will temporarily be stepping aside, “as a show of comity” to Congress. According to the Associated Press, “Some members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have expressed concern that his continuing as the acting secretary would violate the Vacancies Act governing requirements for filling openings that require Senate confirmation.” HRC President Chad Griffin praised the news of Fanning’s historic nomination last September, saying “Considering the tremendous struggles that LGBT Americans have faced within the Department of Defense, Fanning’s nomination is deeply significant. This is a sign of hope and a demonstration of continued progress towards fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces.” Despite the setback, a Pentagon spokesperson said he has no reason to believe Fanning won’t eventually be confirmed. More here: apne.ws/1mRcedO
UM…. : Thomas Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has asserted God spoke directly to him and told him to expel LGBT people and their children from the church. According the Associated Press, Apostle Russell M. Nelson, 91, who is next in line for the Mormon presidency, said during a live-streamed speech Sunday that Monson’s purported divine “revelation” led the church to declare same-sex marriage a sin “worthy of expulsion, and forbid children of such couples from becoming members of the church,” the AP reported. The church last year defined marriage equality as a form of apostasy, which we wrote about here. Monson’s report of God’s opposition to marriage equality could not be corroborated. More here: abcn.ws/1OXXfvh
AHEAD OF INDIANA GOV MIKE PENCE’S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS, HRC CALLS ON HIM TO SUPPORT LGBT PROTECTIONS: Ahead of his State of the State Address tonight, HRC has urged Indiana Governor Mike Pence to join the overwhelming majority of Hoosiers and endorse fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections for all LGBT people in Indiana. In the year since Gov. Pence threw Indiana into chaos by signing legislation allowing anyone to claim a right to discriminate against LGBT Hoosiers and other minorities based on religious belief, he has shown little leadership in moving the state forward – despite the fact that an incredible 70 percent of Hoosiers support LGBT non-discrimination protections and the business community is demanding action. Given his inability last spring in an interview to say whether or not LGBT people should be protected from discrimination, fair-minded Hoosiers across the state will be closely watching his address tonight to see if he’s finally willing to lead on this important issue. Businesses across the state have united to push for fully inclusive LGBT non-discrimination protections, as has the editorial board of the Indianapolis Star, which has repeatedly called for these protections. HRC is a founding member of Freedom Indiana – the statewide grassroots organization fighting to update existing Indiana laws against discrimination to include LGBT Hoosiers. More here: bit.ly/1Zh2qpD
SPORTS TEAMS UNITE TO SUPPORT TRANSGENDER EQUALITY IN MASSACHUSETTS: Yesterday, a group of professional sports teams out of New England -- the New England Patriots, New England Revolution, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, and TD Garden -- threw their weight behind state legislation in Massachusetts that bans discrimination against transgender people in public places. The bill, which was introduced last year, has yet to make its way through the state legislature, but advocates are hopeful that this latest endorsement will help move the ball forward (pardon the pun). Though the bill has support from the majority of the state Senate, House Speaker DeLeo is working to secure the two-thirds vote that is required to override a potential veto from Republican Governor Charlie Baker. There is already a law in the state protecting transgender people from discrimination in employment and housing. This bill already has support from the Boston Red Sox, U.S. Rep. Ted Kennedy, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Attorney General Maura Healey. More here: bit.ly/1nbRMou
ANOTHER ANTI-EQUALITY BILL FILED IN VIRGINIA: Citing the Kim Davis debacle, Sen. Charles Carrico Sr. of Virginia has introduced a bill that would make it legal for clerks and deputy clerks with religious or moral objections, to refuse to issue marriage licenses. Pro-equality Governor Terry McAuliffe has already said he’d veto the legislation. For those keeping count, Virginia state lawmakers have now introduced a whopping four anti-LGBT bills in the first few days of this legislative session. More here: bit.ly/1SM5A5d
AROUND THE WORLD
NOT SO FAST, FRANK BAINIMARAMA: Turns out the Prime Minister in Fiji should have checked the law before his tirade against LGBT people. Saying that if people want to marry their same-sex partners,“they should have done it in Iceland and stay and live there,” is not only supremely offensive, but it might actually be illegal. Inciting antagonism against a specific community is a violation of Fiji law, and could land the Prime Minister in hot water, claim some lawyers. It might be time for an apology, or twelve. More here: bit.ly/1Zq1NzJ
TIME Magazine dives into the growing trend of gender-neutral bathrooms… Fortune puts a spotlight on transgender stories represented at the Golden Globes… Bloomberg answers the question of how to protect LGBT employees when the law doesn’t… Minnesota CBS profiles the story of Michael McConnell and Jack Baker, the first same-sex couple who obtained a marriage license in 1971.
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