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#AM_Equality Tip Sheet: March 3, 2016

by HRC staff March 03, 2016


NEW YORK TIMES SHINES A LIGHT ON RELIGIOUS REFUSAL BILLS: This morning, the New York Times takes a closer look at the uptick of anti-LGBT “religious liberty” bills being introduced at the state level -- many in response to the Obergefell decision last June. Georgia is in the spotlight for advancing H.B. 757, a First Amendment Defense Act, that would allow taxpayer-funded organizations to discriminate against and refuse services to both same-sex and unmarried couples, but dozens of other states are weighing similar bills. But as the Times says, businesses have come out forcefully against these efforts, joining LGBT organizations working to make this type of legislation “politically toxic.” In fact, another religious refusal bill just died in West Virginia last night. Read the piece here: nyti.ms/1RK8ZPY

WAPO: A REPUBLICAN’S HEROIC REJECTION OF TRANSGENDER DISCRIMINATION: In its latest editorial, the Washington Post commends South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard for vetoing H.B.1008 -- discriminatory legislation that attacked the fundamental dignity and rights of transgender children by forcing them to use bathroom facilities inconsistent with their gender identities. The Post writes, “Not only did Mr. Daugaard make clear that the measure mandated a solution to a problem that did not exist, but the Republican showed his commitment to local control, a bedrock principle of his party. His well-reasoned actions should serve as an example to lawmakers in other states where opportunistic politicians are targeting transgender people with legislation built on prejudice and false fears.” With a similar bill up for consideration in Tennessee, we can only hope that lawmakers take a page out of Daugaard's book. More here: wapo.st/1LBiHVN

BUSINESSES TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR LACK OF PREJUDICE: This morning, HRC President Chad Griffin joined NYU Law Professor Kenji Yoshino and Marriott International President Arne Sorenson in New York City to get down to business at the Economist Pride and Prejudice event. The topic? How businesses are putting forth ethical models for LGBT inclusion at home and abroad, and how these models can influence governments. Businesses across the country are stepping out of the boardroom and into the public square, as we’ve seen across the globe with companies like Marriott and the World Bank speaking out against anti-LGBT bills and practices, limiting their businesses in these areas as a way to influence governments to do right by their LGBT citizens. Read more about the event here: bit.ly/1Tb7GwL and watch a livefeed here: on.fb.me/1oS7i9y

#NOTONEMORE: ADVOCATES MOURN THE DEATH OF DEMARKIS STANSBERRY: Earlier this week, LGBT advocates learned that Demarkis Stansberry, a 30-year-old transgender man from Baton Rouge, LA, was fatally shot last Saturday. Nicholas Matthews, an acquaintance of Stansberry, turned himself into police later that day to confess to the shooting. The first two months of 2016 have tragically been marked with deadly violence against transgender people, particularly transgender people of color, continuing a disturbing trend. In addition to the fatal stabbing of Maya Young last week and the fatal shooting of Monica Loera, two other transgender people of color, Veronica Banks Cano of San Antonio and Nino Acox Jackson of Dallas, also died in recent weeks under suspicious circumstances. And in January, 24-year-old Kayden Clarke, a transgender man from Arizona, was shot and killed by police in his home, after they responded to a call that Kayden was threatening suicide.These tragic deaths are part of a larger epidemic of violence against transgender people, which led HRC and the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) to publish a report last year on factors contributing to anti-transgender violence, including poverty, racism, housing and job discrimination, barriers to accessing healthcare and emergency shelter services. HRC and TPOCC continue to call on policymakers and advocates to make meaningful changes to stop the violence, which claimed at least 21 victims last year, the vast majority of whom were transgender women of color. For more information on addressing anti-transgender violence, visit hrc.org/trans-violence

HRC AND THE BISEXUAL RESOURCE CENTER CELEBRATES BISEXUAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH: This March, HRC joins the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC) and other bisexal community advocates in celebrating the third annual Bisexual Health Awareness Month. This year’s focus is on bi+ (e.g. bisexual, fluid, no label, pansexual, queer) youth. “Bisexual+ youth, who encompass a diverse spectrum of sexual identities…experience higher rates of suicidality, substance use, bullying and sexual violence compared to their gay, lesbian and straight peers,” BRC explains. “They are also less likely to be connected with programs and services, both at school and in their local community, that can best support them.” These disparities among bi+ youth translate into further disparities among bi+ adults, particularly when it comes to health. In partnership with BRC, BiNetUSA and the Bisexual Organizing Project, the HRC Foundation’s issue brief, Health Disparities Among Bisexual People, highlighted these disparities, which include higher rates of cancer, heart disease and obesity, and higher rates of HPV and other sexual health issues, likely stemming from a lack of access to preventative care and not being out to medical providers. According to The Williams Institute, 39 percent of bisexual men and 33 percent of bisexual women reported not disclosing their sexual orientation to any medical provider, compared to only 13 percent of gay men and 10 percent of lesbians who chose not to disclose. Learn more about Bisexual Health Awareness Month at bihealthmonth.org

ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE: And Scott Lively is the perpetual villain. The man who has blamed the LGBT community for the Holocaust and is currently facing a civil suit for crimes against humanity, is back with another zinger. According to Lively, the fact that society accepts LGBT people is “a dress rehearsal” for the end of days. If watching loving and committed same-sex couples finally experience the joy of marriage, and schools fight back against the bullying of LGBT students is just the dress rehearsal, we cannot wait to see the real show! Bring on full equality. More here: bit.ly/1LW8q16

STATE SNAPSHOT

WEST VIRGINIA SENATE REJECTS DISCRIMINATORY ANTI-LGBT BILL: In a bipartisan vote of 7-27 last night, the West Virginia Senate failed to advance H.B. 4012, a shameful anti-LGBT Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), that would put LGBT people -- and West Virginians of all walks of life -- at risk of discrimination. Local business groups across the state -- Generation West Virginia and the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce -- have all spoken out against the bill, saying that it would hurt the state's economy and expose businesses to unnecessary lawsuits. Employers like AT&T, Marriott and the NCAA also signaled their opposition to the bill, and newspapers like the Charleston Gazette-Mail and Register-Herald have editorialized against H.B. 4012. HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow responded to the bill with a call for LGBT inclusive non-discrimination protections saying: “For one day at least, West Virginia is spared from legislation that would increase the likelihood of unacceptable discrimination and a flood of expensive legal challenges. Unfortunately, despite today’s events, more work lies ahead. LGBT West Virginians still remain at risk for being fired or denied a job because of who they are, or whom they love.” The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute found that a 54 percent majority of West Virginians oppose a RFRA bill (like H.B. 4012) that would allow small business owners to deny services to LGBT people -- even for religious reasons -- and that a 60 percent majority of West Virginians support protecting LGBT people against discrimination in employment, housing and access to public places. More here: bit.ly/1TaJ0EE

DESPITE SOUTH DAKOTA, LEGISLATIVE ASSAULT ON TRANS KIDS SET TO CONTINUE IN TENNESSEE: Despite the veto of a similar bill in South Dakota earlier this week, on Tuesday, the Tennessee House Education Administration & Planning Subcommittee is scheduled to hear HB 2414 – a bill that would prevent transgender students from accessing restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. If passed into law, it would put Tennessee schools and universities at risk of litigation and loss of federal funds under Title IX, forcing them to choose between state and federal law. Several major national child welfare, medical, and education groups have strongly condemned this type of discriminatory legislation that would further marginalize transgender students. School districts around the country are successfully meeting the needs of their transgender students without incident, and so, in the words of South Dakota Gov. Daugaard, the similar bill in his state “does not address any pressing issue concerning the school districts...” HRC and the Tennessee Equality Project are calling on the Subcommittee to abandon the bill that is an attack on the dignity and rights of transgender students. More here: bit.ly/1WVtdaY

ALABAMA SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES BILL ALLOWING CHILD WELFARE ORGS TO DISCRIMINATION: Yesterday, by a 6-1 vote, an Alabama Senate Committee advanced a discriminatory bill that would allow licensed, state-funded childcare service providers -- such as adoption and foster care agencies -- to discriminate in the provision of care to LGBT children and against LGBT prospective adoptive and foster parents. Religion could be used as an excuse to disregard the best interest of children and turn away qualified parents and families who the agency has a religious objection to. This would include LGBT couples, interfaith couples, single parents and even married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced. Director of HRC’s Project One America Ben Needham, blasted the bill saying, “[D]espite the estimated 5,000 children in Alabama’s foster care system, lawmakers in the Senate have proved that they would rather enshrine legal, taxpayer-funded discrimination into state law than give children in need the best chance of finding a loving home. Religious organizations are entitled to their views, but taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for discriminatory or abusive care. Alabama is better than this bill, and we urge fair-minded lawmakers in the Senate to reject it, and focus on legislation that gives every child the hope of a bright future.” Chief executives from major child advocacy organizations denounced S.B.204 in a letter that was hand delivered to Senate members on Tuesday. Read their letter here: bit.ly/1LyFGAM and learn more here: bit.ly/1oZFaSx

GEORGIA GOVERNOR RECEIVES 75,000 PETITIONS AGAINST ANTI-LGBT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM BILL: On Wednesday, LGBT activists led by Jeff Graham, Chad Griffin, and Simone Bell delivered over 75,000 petitions to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal expressing their disgust with the anti-LGBT “religious freedom” bill, H.B. 757. Emphasizing the overwhelming opposition to the bill, the signers of the petition pleaded with Gov. Deal to stop the legislation from becoming law. H.B. 757 would allow agencies to discriminate against LGBT people based on religious beliefs. More here: bit.ly/1VR06W9

BIGOTRY BY ANY OTHER NAME: Kentucky State Representative Joseph M. Fischer has a brilliant new plan to undermine marriage equality (if you couldn’t tell, we’re being sarcastic). His 454-page iliad aims to redefine marriage...like we haven’t heard that one before. This time, Rep. Fischer claims that marriage equality is fiiiiiiine, but that it should be illegal for same-sex couples to enter “matrimony.” Also part of his plan? To effectively ctrl+F every law in Kentucky’s history and replace “marriage” with “matrimony.” Excuse us while we politely cover up our laughter. More here: bit.ly/1TpfKKT

OK UPDATE: OKLAHOMA’S SLATE OF HATE DOWN FROM 27 TO 2: In Oklahoma’s 2016 legislative session, an unprecedented 27 anti-LGBT bills were before the Oklahoma legislature. But we have good and bad news. The good news is that after defeating several bills with the help of fair-minded legislators from both sides of the aisle, a procedural deadline has left just two bills alive. The bad news is that one of the remaining bills, H.B. 2428, would give religiously-affiliated adoptions agencies a right to discriminate against same-sex couples. Yesterday, over 60 citizens from across Oklahoma took part in a lobby day and visited with their legislators, focusing on HB 2428. Ryan Rowe, Associate Regional Field Director for HRC joined Denise Brogan-Kator, State Policy Director for the Family Equality Council, in delivering letters to House leadership from leading attorneys and national child welfare organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, on the damage this legislation could have on Oklahoma children and families. More here: bit.ly/1ORhuEi

UTAH SENATE FAILS TO ADVANCE LGBT-INCLUSIVE HATE CRIMES LAW: In a disappointing vote yesterday, the Utah Senate rejected commonsense legislation that would have strengthened the state’s current hate crimes law. S.B. 107 / S.J.R. 13 would have added critical, new protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s hate crime laws and updated the current statute to more clearly define what constitutes a hate crime. State law enforcement agencies would also have been required to collect data on hate crimes committed on the basis of disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The Senate gave preliminary approval to the measure before it was killed yesterday. Fifteen states, including Utah, do not currently have hate crimes law that explicitly protect the LGBT community. More here: bit.ly/1VRghTm

NO TAKE-BACKS!: A Georgia State Republican spoke out against a bill he introduced after an LGBT-inclusive amendment was added. Sen. Hunter Hill introduced legislation that would protect Georgia’s state employees from discrimination “or any reason other than that of individual merit, performance, qualifications,or noncompliance with standards of presentation.” However, he quickly changed his mind on the matter when a Senate panel added protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to the bill. The next day, Sen. Hill took to the floor to withdraw the bill, despite previously saying that the original bill would protect LGBT Georgians. His reasoning? He didn’t want to “create additional special classes” for people. You can’t make this stuff up. More here: bit.ly/21Ejbl8

AROUND THE WORLD

THE TIDE IS TURNING ON THE PINK SAND OF THE SEYCHELLES: Don’t pack your bags just yet, but the Seychelles’s cabinet ministers have taken a really important step towards decriminalizing same-sex relations. The parliament will now need to vote on this decision by the ministers before it can go into effect. Advocates hope this is a step towards greater equality for the Island nation’s LGBT people. In up to 10 countries worldwide, same-sex activity is punishable by death, and 75 countries criminalize same-sex relationships. Let’s hope the Seychelles will be removed from that list ASAP. More here: bit.ly/1po8p1o

SCHOOL, NOODLES & INDONESIA: The increase in anti-LGBT rhetoric in Indonesia is approaching a fever pitch. Yesterday, the Mayor of Tangerang proposed increasing the hours of the school day, He argued that keeping kids in school will stop them from being LGBT. This is the same man who argued that the consumption of instant noodles makes babies LGBT. But it isn’t all bad news. The Indonesian conference of bishops has had enough, and has asked the government to stop the anti-LGBT hate. More here: bit.ly/1TrxyF9 and bit.ly/1RselNp

READING RAINBOW

The Guardian looks at the pro-LGBT message the United Nations heard during a Broadway visit earlier this week… Washington Blade profiles the LGBT advocates from Kyrgyzstan visiting the U.S. this week… Huffington Post previews a new documentary series about the transgender revolutionaries that have paved the way… the Advocate looks at the anti-LGBT extremists on Ted Cruz’s ‘religious liberty’ panel… Jackson Free Press dives into LGBTQ youth homelessness in Florida… Right Wing Watch points out that Ben Carson seriously called “gay rights” a “communist plot against America”.... Fast Company highlights the lack of protections for LGBT Americans in the workplace…. and the Advocate gives us to latest on the rejected equal marriage referendum in Slovenia.

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
HRC staff

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