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#AM_Equality Tip Sheet: January 28, 2016

by HRC staff January 28, 2016

DEEPLY FLAWED NON-DISCRIMINATION BILL WITH DANGEROUS ANTI-LGBT RELIGIOUS REFUSAL LANGUAGE ADVANCES IN INDIANA: Last night, an Indiana Senate committee voted to advance deeply flawed legislation that would unacceptably exclude any and all protections for transgender Hoosiers, would undermine existing protections for race and religion, and would remove the authority of municipalities to pass any new, fully inclusive LGBT non-discrimination protections at the local level. In addition, the proposal now includes a dangerous amendment that is similar to the discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) law that passed last year, and it eliminates the so-called “fix” the Legislature eventually passed. The legislation is a thinly-veiled attempt to allow discrimination to go forward but mitigate the economic and reputational damage still looming from Gov. Mike Pence’s discriminatory RFRA fight last year. Several amendments were added to the legislation during last night’s hearing and make S.B. 344 even more alarming. In addition to enshrining a RFRA-like standard minus last year’s RFRA “fix,” another amendment added would allow adoption agencies to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, even if they receive state funding. More here: and

SOUTH DAKOTA HOUSE PASSES EXTREME ANTI-TRANS STUDENT BILL: Yesterday, by a vote of 58 to 10, the South Dakota House of Representatives alarmingly passed discriminatory legislation targeting transgender students. Seeking to prevent trans students in public schools from using facilities consistent with their gender identity, HB 1008 would put state law in direct conflict with the U.S. Department of Education and force public schools to pay the costs of the resulting legal challenges. HB 1008 would put South Dakota school districts at risk of losing federal funds under Title IX, forcing them into an untenable position of choosing between state and federal law, and tying the hands of school administrators and teachers who would no longer have the flexibility they need to find workable solutions in coordination with transgender students and their parents. In April of 2014, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance informing public schools that Title IX protects students against discrimination based on gender identity. The U.S. Department of Justice has unequivocally stated that, “Discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, a person’s transgender status, or a person’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes constitutes discrimination based on sex. As such, prohibiting a student from accessing the restrooms that match his [or her] gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX.” The extreme legislation would only exacerbate the discrimination and harassment that transgender students already face. More here:

STATE OF DELUSION: TED CRUZ THINKS POLLS ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY ARE ‘SKEWED’: Think Progress catches Ted Cruz (R-Clueless) in a moment that can only be described as completely disconnected from reality. Cruz, mounting his usual defense for opposing marriage equality, goes one step further. Think Progress reported, “‘The American people all overwhelming disagree with [same-sex marriage],’ (Cruz) said, arguing that polls that show majority support for marriage equality — like this one from the Pew Research Center and this one from Gallup — are ‘skewed.’ ‘You can write a poll in a way that will get the results you want if they’re skewed,’ Cruz said.” Quick refresher for Senator Cruz: the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute found that a 57 percent majority of Iowans support marriage equality. Nationally, marriage equality hit a high of 60 percent in HRC’s polling in the last year. More here:

GAVIN GRIMM V. GLOUCESTER COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD: Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which represents Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and the District of Columbia, heard the case of Gavin Grimm, a 16-year-old transgender boy from Gloucester County, VA who was banned from using the boy’s bathroom at his high school, under the argument that he has access to an alternate single-stall unisex bathroom. This sex discrimination has been outlined and clarified by Title IX, and Grimm could finally see justice for his school’s actions in this case, which is expected to have broader implications for transgender students nationwide. Grimm is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. More here: and

TIME TO THRIVE ADDS TO CELEBRITY LINEUP: Celebrity trainer Bob Harper and YouTube star Brendan Jordan have joined the list of honorees and guest speakers at HRC Foundation’s Time to THRIVE conference, happening February 12-16 in Dallas. The conference features 72 workshops by more than 45 national and grassroots organizations dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ youth. Previously announced speakers and honorees include Emmy Award-winning John Quiñones, anchor of ABC’s “What Would You Do? news magazine; Secretary Julián Castro, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); activists Denis and Judy Shepard; marriage plaintiff Jim Obergefell; transgender teen Jazz Jennings; New Jersey High School History Teacher, Nicholas Ferroni; and Andreja Pejić, the first transgender model featured in American Vogue. David Hernandez, a finalist from season seven of American Idol, will provide entertainment for conference goers. More here:

SOUR GRAPES: U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert from Texas is calling for the impeachment of the U.S. Supreme Court because of the Obergefell decision last June, which legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country. Rep. Gohmert has long opposed LGBT equality in the past, earning a solid “zero” on the last two HRC Congressional Scorecards. How exactly Rep. Gohmert expects this situation to work out (considering pro-LGBT President Obama would nominate judges to replace the nine impeached judges), remains to be seen. More here:


UNREAL: TENNESSEE COUNTIES STILL TRYING UNDERMINE MARRIAGE EQUALITY, NEW ANTI-LGBT BILLS INTRODUCED: It seems like elected officials in Tennessee just won’t get the message that marriage equality is here to stay. Earlier this week, Hawkins County commissioners became the latest to approve an anti-marriage resolution despite the Tennessee House Civil Justice Subcommittee’s vote last week against the Natural Marriage Defense Act. According to the Associated Press, County Commissioner John Metz suggested tabling the resolution, but his fellow commissioner B.D. Cradic disagreed saying, “It’s a time that we take a stand on what our beliefs are. I gotta vote my conscience and my heart, because one day I will stand in front of God.” Since the Natural Marriage Defense Act was voted down several anti-LGBT bill have been filed in the state legislature, including 2 anti-trans bathroom bills, a marriage and gender identity bill that defines husband and wife on government documents, as well as defines male and female, and a Supreme Court nullification bill. More from Tennessee Equality Project here:

ANTI-LGBT AND PRO-LGBT BILLS ADVANCE IN VIRGINIA: Yesterday, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee advanced a bill that would allow court clerks with religious or moral objections to marriage equality in Virginia, to send same-sex couples to the DMV instead. Democrats have already eviscerated the legislation calling it the “Kim Davis Bill,” and Governor Terry McAuliffe has promised to veto the measure should it reach his desk. Meanwhile, Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology approved a measure that according to Metro Weekly would, “prohibit anybody from discriminating against a person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, regardless of whether an owner or landlord is selling or renting, ” along with a bill that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT public employees. More here: and

MOMENTUM BUILDS FOR LGBT INCLUSIVE HRO IN JACKSONVILLE: The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce released a statement earlier this week saying, that it “reaffirmed its 1992 Declaration of Community Values and urged the Jacksonville City Council to pass an all-inclusive ordinance to ensure everyone in our community has equal protection against discrimination.” The two non-discrimination bills that have been proposed in Jacksonville, FL, will be heard by the entire city council in three hour-long public hearings over the span of several weeks starting next month. The bill proposed by Council Member Tommy Hazouri would add LGBT protections in housing, employment and public accommodations to the city’s existing human rights ordinance directly, while Council Member Bill Gulliford’s bill proposes putting the addition up to a public vote. Read the Chamber’s statement here:

ANTI-TRANSGENDER BATHROOM BILL MOVES FORWARD IN WASHINGTON STATE: The Associated Press reports that by a 4-3 vote, the State Senate passed a bill out of committee that would, if it became law, overturn a regulatory interpretation of the state's existing non-discrimination law. This longstanding regulation made it explicit that the state non-discrimination law allows transgender people to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Republicans in the state are arguing that the transphobic bill to overturn this regulation is actually meant to prevent sexual assaults, a ridiculous claim made time and time again by opponents of transgender equality. More here:


LGBT CATHOLICS SAY POPE’S ACTIONS BELIE WORDS: During a meeting with Vatican judges in anticipation of this week’s historic civil unions vote in Italy, Pope Francis asserted, in so many words, that in the church’s eyes same-sex unions remain a no-go. “The family,” he said, “founded on indissoluble matrimony that unites and allows procreation, is part of God’s dream and that of his Church for the salvation of humanity.” The pope’s firm anti-marriage equality stance has been disappointing to LGBT Catholics, many of whom have been struck by his more inclusive language - including his famous, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” response in 2013 to a question about gay priests. Now? “‘Who am I to judge?’ is out the window,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, a leading LGBT Catholic organization. “The Pope has judged our relationships, our marriages to be inconsistent with the Divine Plan. This is the clearest statement yet that Pope Francis and other Catholic officials will continue to lead the charge to prevent either civil or sacramental recognition of same-sex relationships.” More here: and

SPECIAL ENVOY ON SPECIAL TRIP: Randy Berry, the U.S. Special Envoy for LGBTI Human Rights, has traveled throughout southern Africa in a ten-day trip. He met with leaders and civil society, to try and help foster equality. Explaining the importance of working together, he claimed that there are “seeds of hope” throughout the continent, despite that the fact that same-sex relationships are criminalized in most African countries. Randy Berry was appointed as the State Department’s first ever LGBT Human Rights Envoy in February of last year. More here: and

WELL, THAT'S ONE WAY TO SPEND 160 MILLION DOLLARS: The Anti-LGBT Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) seems to think it has managed to dull momentum for marriage equality, by supporting a delayed vote across the country. However, with over 70 percent of Australians in support of marriage equality, that’s hardly the case. The plebiscite (Australian for nationwide non-binding vote,) is estimated to cost upwards of $160 million -- hard earned taxpayer dollars that have many wondering whether there aren’t better uses for that money. Seems like a very expensive way to finally teach ACL that love conquers hate, and momentum for equality cannot be blunted. More here:

TAINAN PUSHES FORWARD ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY: The mayor of Tainan, an ancient city in Taiwan, has decided that it is time that same-sex couples can register for recognition of their relationships. With this announcement, Tainan joins four other Taiwanese cities in having legal recognition for LGBT couples. In the aftermath of the latest elections in Taiwan, now all eyes are on the newly elected President Tsai Ing-wen, to see if she will make good on her promise to support full equality in the Asian nation. More here:


Gay Star News remembers anti gay-persecution in the years after the Holocaust… Fusion explores homophobia in South American soccer culture… the Lexington Courier-Journal details a new initiative to preserve LGBT Heritage in the Southern state… Advocate looks at anti-semitism within the LGBT community... and CBC News breaks down a study on same-sex couple’s pressure to marry in post-marriage-equality Canada.

Have news? Send us your news and tips at Click here to subscribe to A.M. Equality, and follow @HRC for all the latest news. Thanks for reading!

HRC staff
HRC staff


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