19-HOUR FILIBUSTER IN MISSOURI TO STOP ANTI-LGBT RESOLUTION: Still going strong since 4:00 p.m. CT yesterday, pro-equality Missouri state senators have been vigorously fighting an assault on equality that’s similar to so-called “First Amendment Defense Act” legislation introduced in other states. The extreme resolution would lead to a ballot measure that proposes to allow individuals, organizations, and businesses to use religion as a valid excuse to discriminate against LGBT people. SJR 39 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 opens the door to discrimination against same-sex couples, their families, and those who love them. If voted into law, LGBT people and their families could suddenly find themselves at risk of being denied many basic services. 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 LGBT couples and their families. The legislation would have reckless intended and unintended consequences. The resolution addresses no real problem in the state as no federal or state law requires religious organizations or clergy to sanction or perform same-sex marriages. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch came out against the resolution in an editorial yesterday. Read it here: bit.ly/1RPjjq5 and learn more bit.ly/1LblNzG
ALL EYES ON TENNESSEE AS LEGISLATIVE ASSAULT ON TRANS CHILDREN RAMPS UP THIS AFTERNOON: Today, at 3:00 p.m. CT, the Tennessee House Education Administration & Planning Subcommittee is expected to hear HB 2414 – an outrageous bill targeting transgender students in public elementary, middle and high schools, as well as those in public universities. Although the bill’s ardently anti-LGBT sponsor ridiculously calls the proposal “very friendly”, the measure will force transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity. Fair-minded Tennesseans; major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; the Tennessee Equality Project and HRC have all pleaded with lawmakers nationwide to abandon the discriminatory measure. The proposal is even more egregious than the appalling law vetoed by Republican South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard just last week. Ahead of the vote this afternoon, HRC has compiled a list of what you need to know about the bill which can be found here: bit.ly/1p3NgJl. Also, check out this op-ed by Grammy-nominated Nashville songwriter Gretchen Peters--who is the parent of a trans kid--blasting the legislation: bit.ly/1OY7idd
SHOCKINGLY BAD: WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT JUDGE UNDER FIRE: Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley was in the spotlight yesterday after several derogatory, anti-LGBT statements she made in a local paper column surfaced. In the column, she referred to the LGBT community derogatorily as “queers” and implied that HIV & AIDS are a punishment for a person’s “immoral” behavior. HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow responded to the revelations saying, “Everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to expect a fair and impartial decision from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Unfortunately, this disturbing and hateful language raises serious questions about Justice Bradley's commitment to full equality under the law for LGBT residents and people living with HIV & AIDS." More here: bit.ly/1QyKfKp
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME: Yesterday, Major League Baseball announced the launch of a landmark new initiative with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) dedicated to expanding outreach to LGBT businesses. Billy Beane, former professional baseball player and MLB’s first-ever Ambassador of Inclusion told Fortune that the partnership is deeply important to him because it “allows our community to get more coverage and exposure on the programs that [business owners are] working very, very hard to expand.” The announcement will be the center of MLB's Diversity Business Summit in Phoenix, AZ later this week. More here: for.tn/1nsHY9b
MN STATE LEGISLATIVE SESSION BEGINS THIS WEEK: As we mark the tenth week of the 2016 legislative session, at least half of the nation’s state legislatures are still going--with Florida, Indiana, Utah and Washington adjourning later this week, and Minnesota’s just beginning. Currently, HRC is tracking nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills in 32 states that are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed this year by anti-equality activists and lawmakers across the country. The types of legislation vary from targeting transgender children, to eliminating local non-discrimination protections, to explicitly authorizing anti-LGBT discrimination by individuals, businesses and even taxpayer-funded agencies. To learn more about what lies ahead for equality in your backyard, visit HRC’s newest resource, Preview 2016: Pro-Equality and Anti-LGBT State and Local Legislation.
ATLANTA CITY COUNCIL PASSES RESOLUTION OPPOSING GEORGIA’S DISCRIMINATORY FADA: In a bold move yesterday, the Atlanta City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing H.B. 757, a so-called First Amendment Defense Act which recently passed the Georgia Senate. One of nine anti-LGBT bills introduced in Georgia this legislative session, H.B.757 would allow taxpayer-funded organizations to discriminate against and refuse services to both same-sex and unmarried couples. Councilmember Mary Norwood, who proposed the resolution,released a statement saying, “I join Governor Nathan Deal, businesses all across Georgia, the LGBT community and all Georgians who know that as Georgians we must stand for inclusion, equality, and fairness for all... Our recent successes in corporate relocations as well as our ever expanding tourism businesses are predicated on knowing that Atlanta and all of Georgia welcomes them and embraces them….This is what sets Georgia and Atlanta apart and makes us a world-class environment, taking our place on the world stage. We cannot go backwards; we cannot afford to have discrimination in any form — under any guise — as the law of our state. Our future is too important.” Powerhouses like Salesforce, Unilever, Dell Inc., Virgin Group, Home Depot, Microsoft and dozens of others are asking House leadership and Governor Nathan Deal to reject this piece of legislation. Gov. Deal has called on lawmakers to make changes to the bill and said that he and House Speaker David Ralston are already having private meetings on how they will address the issue. More here: bit.ly/1OYyRTH
SAME-SEX SPOUSES AND PARTNERS OF CATHOLIC WORKERS IN MICHIGAN TO GET HEALTH COVERAGE: In a move being characterized as a major milestone, the Michigan Catholic Conference this week announced that it will change health care coverage for Catholic employees in the state to allow coverage of workers’ same-sex spouses and partners. The new policy extends coverage to “legally domiciled adults” over age 18 who have lived with the employee more than six months. It jettisons the old practice of completely denying health coverage to same-sex spouses because the Catholic Church’s defines a spouse as someone of the “opposite” gender. The Detroit Free Press reported that in a letter announcing the change, the Catholic Conference did not mention the issue of same-sex relationships, but simply stated that the benefits will apply to everyone who meets the domicile requirement. Francis DeBernardo, head of New Ways Ministry, which promotes equality for LGBT in the Catholic Church, said the change is a “good step forward.” More here: wapo.st/1LaVOIB
FAYETTEVILLE, WV CONSIDERS LGBT-INCLUSIVE RESOLUTION: Last week, the Fayetteville, WV Town Council voted to move forward with drafting a non-discrimination resolution that would grant local protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The vote came after the West Virginia State Legislature came dangerously close to passing a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that would allow small business owners to deny services to LGBT people. The measure was temporarily rejected by the State Senate last week, but fearing that the damage to the state’s image was already done, local businesses, the Fayetteville Convention and Visitor's Bureau, and the Fayetteville Business Association came out strongly in favor of a local LGBT-inclusive ordinance. Getting the city council to agree to drafting a resolution wasn’t easy however. According to the Register-Herald, members only agreed to it when 10 Fayetteville business owners protested by walking out of the meeting in response to no one seconding the initial motion. More here: bit.ly/1X7WxLr
AROUND THE WORLD
CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: In honor of International Women’s Day, HRC Global is spotlighting women who are advancing equality around the globe, including Khairuddin, an HIV & AIDS advocate from Malaysia. Lyana, a bisexual, Muslim woman who served as an HRC fellow last fall, is working in Malaysia to fight discrimination and the spread of HIV/AIDS in her country. “Navigating activism around LGBT rights is an uphill struggle,” she says. “There is a multidimensional complexity to discussing these issues, especially when there is an increasingly restricted space for expression.” Lyana’s work in Malaysia is not easy. Many human rights challenges are plaguing Malaysia, including the right to gender expression and unfortunate incidences of violence and discrimination. “Our judiciary and politicians seem to view human rights nonchalantly,” she continued. “This divisiveness and moral-policing is now used as a tool to further divide and conquer the public.” While she shared her personal experiences with our community, Lyana was also able to discuss HIV & AIDS prevention efforts with HRC staff and learn more about advocacy and awareness around PrEP. She also worked with the HRC Foundation on how to engage faith-based organizations to embrace the LGBT community. As Lyana continues her work in Malaysia, today offers an opportunity to recognize her and so many other women who are dedicated and committed to the LGBT community, including Geena Rocero, Samantha Power, Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton. Thanks to their tireless advocacy, LGBT equality is progressing both at home and abroad.
JUST VOTE ‘NO’ IN JAMAICA: Jamaica’s anti-LGBT law, which could land men who engage in sexual relations with men in jail for up to 10 years, has been criticized repeatedly in the international arena. Unfortunately these laws remain extremely popular in Jamaica, where rampant homophobia and discrimination are a norm. Prime Minister Andrew Holness has intimated that a national referendum on the anti-LGBT laws might be in order, not to change the laws, but to give them a stamp of approval. #SMH. More here: bit.ly/1M4xTpd
Los Angeles Times highlights recent legislative battles over transgender people and public accommodations… Advocate looks at a seminar on LGBT family-building in Japan… Adobo breaks down the most and least tolerant places in the U.S.… Erasing 76 Crimes shares one activists’ five reasons why LGBT rights shouldn’t be put to a vote… WLBZ showcases a call center helping older LGBT people in Maine stay connected…. BuzzFeed reports the stories of the parents and friends of LGBT people who march with PFLAG every year during Mardi Gras…. and Fox 11 covers the LGBT students demanding change at Lawrence University.