HRC AND NCTE OP-ED: BILLS ATTACKING TRANSGENDER PEOPLE DON’T KEEP ANYONE SAFE: In a column for Mashable, HRC President Chad Griffin, and Mara Keisling, the founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, take on the unprecedented number of anti-transgender bills introduced by state legislators across the country this year. Largely in response to the rise in visibility and acceptance of transgender people, a staggering 44 anti-transgender bills, over half of which target transgender children, have been introduced across 16 states. They write: “There is no denying it: these laws help no one. Instead, they will actually hurt transgender children and adults by isolating and “othering” them, forcing them into situations contrary to their own health and well-being, and ultimately, exacerbating the stigma that already puts them at heightened risks for depression, self-harm and suicide. Imagine struggling, often for years and against extreme odds, to live authentically, and then to hear politicians say that you are not you, and are so undeserving of respect that the essential, basic human need of using a bathroom should be denied to you.” Read the full piece here: on.mash.to/1QDXSuR
SPOTLIGHT ON SD GOVERNOR, WHO MAKES NO PROMISES AFTER HEARING FROM TRANS YOUTH: Yesterday, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard met with three transgender South Dakotans, including two transgender students. This comes after Gov. Daugaard mentioned that he intended to decide whether or not to sign a disastrous anti-trans bill without ever having met a transgender person. Following the meeting, Gov. Daugaard said that the meeting ‘helped [him] see things through their eyes.’ The Governor has until March 1 to decide whether he will sign the bill, which would bar transgender students from using bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. If he does not make a decision before that deadline, the bill automatically becomes law. As the eyes of the nation turn to Gov. Daugaard and the decision before him, here’s hoping he will remember the faces of the children this bill would affect. More here: argusne.ws/1LF0iC2
GOV. DAUGAARD, WE’VE GOT ANOTHER 80,000 REASONS TO VETO H.B. 1008: Yesterday, national and South Dakota-based LGBT groups, including HRC, NCTE, and ACLU SD, delivered over 80,000 petition signatures to South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, urging him to veto HB 1008–legislation that would prevent transgender students in public schools from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. This outrageous legislation would make South Dakota the first state in the nation to pass a law attacking transgender children, and has earned widespread criticism from leading children’s medical and advocacy organizations. In a meeting organized by the Center for Equality, Gov. Daugaard met with transgender students to hear their personal stories and how this legislation would impact their lives. He has also met with the bill’s sponsors. Seven of the country’s major child welfare organizations have already expressed grave concerns and objections to this type of legislation attacking transgender youth, in an open letter to the nation’s governors last week. While SD would be the first state in the nation to pass legislation attacking transgender people, anti-LGBT lawmakers in other states are pursuing similar legislation. In total, 44 anti-transgender bills -- including 23 bills targeting children's’ access to restrooms and sports programs -- are pending across 16 states. HRC released a report on this disturbing trend Monday; more details and a state by state breakdown of information can be found here: bit.ly/1QZ3lqk
HRC, NCLR, SPLC TEAM UP TO FILE HISTORIC FTC COMPLAINT AGAINST “CONVERSION THERAPY” QUACKS: HRC, SPLC and NCLR have filed a historic federal consumer fraud complaint, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), against Virginia-based People Can Change (PCC) -- an organization that preys on vulnerable LGBT people and families by peddling junk pseudoscience and claiming they can change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The complaint alleges that PCC’s advertisements and business practices, which expressly and implicitly claim that they can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, constitute deceptive, false, and misleading practices and can cause serious harm to consumers. This complaint comes as the movement to end “conversion therapy” continues to gain momentum. Earlier this month, Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Cory Booker of New Jersey, joined by California Reps. Jackie Speier and Ted Lieu, issued a letter to the FTC urging the agency to use its authority to take “all actions possible to stop the unfair, deceptive and fraudulent practice of conversion therapy. …” Their request follows a groundbreaking Department of Health and Human Services report, and independent statements issued by President Obama, Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, calling for an end to the practices. California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia have passed laws protecting LGBTQ minors from “conversion therapy,” and more than 20 states have introduced similar legislation this year. New York is also adopting regulations to protect youth from “conversion therapy” as a result of executive action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. More here via Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel: huff.to/1LFRHPt
WHAT TRUMP’S LATEST WIN MEANS: Last night, Donald Trump rolled up his third convincing win of the primary campaign season. HRC President Chad Griffin on what it means: “Whether he’s advocating for bills that would allow more Kim Davis-style discrimination or promising to reverse nationwide marriage equality, Trump has made it crystal clear that he would block full LGBT equality as president. Unfortunately, if Trump’s winning streak continues, that’s precisely what could happen. That’s why it is so crucial LGBT voters nationwide turn out and ensure he never sets foot near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Hillary Clinton is the the pro-equality champion who can stop any of these anti-LGBT candidates in their tracks this November, and lead in the fight for full federal equality as president from day one in office.” Reminder: In recent weeks, Trump has amped up his anti-LGBT rhetoric and his anti-equality positions are clear. More on that here: bit.ly/1T6MKqU
CDC RELEASES ALARMING NEW DATA ON SPREAD OF HIV: Yesterday the CDC released the latest stats on the spread of HIV. Though the CDC reported a decrease in the lifetime risk of HIV overall, the situation facing communities hit hardest by HIV continues to be dire. These statistics suggest that one half of black gay and bisexual men, and one quarter of Latino gay and bisexual men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. Furthermore, the communities not studied, in particular transgender women of color and LGBT people living in the South, continue to be underserved and extremely vulnerable to this epidemic. The CDC used records of diagnoses and deaths from 2009-2013 to infer the lifetimes risks for HIV diagnosis in the U.S.. Points of note: Throughout the population, the lifetime risk of contracting HIV has dropped from 1 in 78 to 1 in 99, but the situation is dramatically different for many gay and bisexual men. The CDC projects that one out of every six gay or bisexual man will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. Learn more at hrc.org/hiv360 and here: thebea.st/1T5hFE3
NEW REPORT: CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS FAILING LGBT INDIVIDUALS: A new report from CAP and MAP has found that LGBT people are more likely to be incarcerated and face discrimination in the justice system. LGBT people, especially people of color and low-income individuals, face stigma, cultural incompetency, and unjust laws. Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project said, “It used to be a crime to be LGBT in the United States, and while police are no longer raiding gay bars, LGBT people—especially LGBT people of color—are still disproportionately pushed into the criminal justice system.”Almost 8 percent of prison inmates identify as LGBT compared to 3.8 percent of American adults. Read the full report here: bit.ly/1Ot8hlp
MISSOURI BILL WILL ALLOW FOR STATE-FUNDED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LGBT PEOPLE: Missouri lawmakers are considering a dangerous resolution that would enshrine taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT Missourians into the state constitution. Similar to legislation introduced elsewhere dubbed so-called “First Amendment Defense Acts”, the measure would put on the November 2016 ballot an option to use religion to discriminate against LGBT people while continuing to receive taxpayer funds.The reckless legislation goes far beyond protecting the right of free exercise of one’s religion. While shrouded in language framed as prohibiting the state government from making funding or tax status decisions based on an organization’s views on marriage that are driven by religious belief, in reality it threatens discrimination against same-sex couples, their families, and those who love them. Taxpayer-funded foster care providers and adoption agencies could refuse to place children in need of loving homes with same-sex couples. Taxpayer funded homeless shelters could turn away same-sex couples. Businesses could refuse to serve LGBT people for wedding-related products and services. If passed into law, LGBT people could suddenly find themselves at risk of Kim Davis-style discrimination every single day. As we’ve said before, no federal or state law requires religious organizations or clergy to sanction or perform same-sex marriages. More here: bit.ly/1QBMPCz
WV MAYORS NOT BUYING RESOLUTION TO BAN LGBT-INCLUSIVE ORDINANCES: Mayors in West Virginia are coming out against a proposed amendment to the state constitution which would ban cities and towns from enacting their own ordinances that will protect LGBT residents and visitors from discrimination. As sponsors of similar measures in other states have claimed, state Sen. Craig Blair says that it is about businesses having the same laws throughout the state. Charleston Mayor Danny Jones told the Charleston Gazette- Mail that the resolution was “very hurtful and unnecessary,” while John Manchester, Mayor of Lewisburg, a town with LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, said that the argument that local ordinances make business less interested in investing in a state never came up in public hearings on Lewisburg’s ordinance. Manchester said, “Cloaking this resolution in pro-business clothing is ridiculous. Businesses looking to relocate or expand in West Virginia can see through this type of resolution, just as clearly as voters can.” We’d like to echo that sentiment. The resolution will need a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate to be placed on the ballot. More here: bit.ly/1Qcu17f
AROUND THE WORLD
TAIWANESE ANTI-LGBT GROUP CAN’T EVEN WRITE A COHERENT REFERENDUM: An anti-LGBT referendum proposal in Taiwan was rejected after failing to meet the simple requirement that the referendum must be limited to a single law. Instead, the referendum loosely referred to “protecting the family,” asking that the Taiwanese legislative body change several laws in order to discriminate against same-sex couples. The nonsense referendum was proposed by the Faith and Hope League, a newly founded hate group whose goal is to prevent same-sex marriage from coming to Taiwan. The committee that reviewed the referendum voted it down 10-1. More here: bit.ly/1QedoeR
ANOTHER BLOW TO ITALY’S CIVIL UNION BILL: Following parliament’s slow crawl to voting on a civil union bill, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has called on his party to remove language granting adoption rights to same-sex couples. Last week’s vote on the legislation was postponed due to concerns about a provision that would allow same-sex couples to adopt children if one of the partners is the child’s biological parent. Opponents have argued that it would lead to surrogacy--which is strictly banned in the country. According to Reuters, LGBT rights groups have already spoken out against the change, calling it “unacceptable,” as it’s now devoid of any substance. It remains to be seen whether this move will prompt action by Parliament, but right now, Italy remains the only county in Western Europe without some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples. More here: dailym.ai/1Txv7yR
ISRAELI PARLIAMENT HOLDS FIRST LGBT RIGHTS DAY: In a rare moment of celebration and cordiality, Israeli parliamentarians held the first ever LGBT Rights Day. Conversations ranged from nondiscrimination protection to LGBT-inclusive education programs in the nation’s schools. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined the chorus, claiming that “every person was created in the image of God.” More here: bit.ly/1XL38MM
ISRAEL IS READY FOR PrEP: Israel’s Ministry of Health has given the thumbs up to the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada. Israel joins a growing list of countries endorsing the use of the drug to fight the HIV epidemic. In 2014 HRC endorsed PrEP and called for bold action. Today’s phrase of the day is Yasher Coah, it’s Hebrew for good job! More here: bit.ly/1VCv6ZE
South China Morning Post exposes a same-sex love story pulled from the internet and the backlash that ensued… Mississippi Public Broadcasting profiles the LGBT opposition to the Religious Liberty Accommodations Act… MSNBC covers a White House viewing of a documentary on homophobia in a black church… The Charlotte Observer editorializes on the need for the state of North Carolina to stay out of Charlotte’s LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance…The Houston Chronicle features the U.S. Small Business Administration's event for Houston’s LGBT business community today…. PRWeek shares how advertisers are attempting to be more deliberate in targeting transgender consumers…. The Straits Times gives an overview of LGBT rights debate in Indonesia… The Diplomat breaks down the Supreme Court case in India that could once again decriminalize same-sex relationships…. and The Boise State Public Radio explains why LGBT advocates aren’t protesting at the Idaho State Capitol just yet.
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