PRESSURE MOUNTS ON GEORGIA GOV. DEAL TO VETO ATROCIOUS ANTI-LGBT LEGISLATION: All eyes are on Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to veto HB 757, an outrageous anti-LGBT bill now headed to his desk. Yesterday -- despite weeks of overwhelming opposition from voters, major businesses across the state, and advocates -- the Georgia House voted to add additional provisions to the already-terrible legislation that would put LGBT people at increased risk of discrimination. The new provisions could also undermine local non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people, permit hospitals to refuse to provide medically necessary care and allow a taxpayer-funded service provider to discriminate by denying a job because of the applicant's religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. To make matters worse, the bill adds a so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA) exemption that would open the floodgates for discrimination under the pretense of religion. Moreover HB 757 now has even broader discriminatory provisions that give explicit cover to taxpayer-funded religious organizations choosing to discriminate. More here: on-ajc.com/1RmtRQC
SOUND SCARY? IT IS: This new law would open the door to discrimination against a wide array of Georgians. Here are just a few examples of how: (1) Taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies could refuse to place children in desperate need of loving and caring homes with LGBT couples. (2) Homeless shelters could turn away unwed couples and their families. (3) Food pantries could turn away people of other faiths or even engage in race discrimination. (4) Drug counseling centers could refuse to hire a qualified LGBT therapist. In reality, no religious organization or clergy is required to sanction or perform same-sex marriage under any federal or state law.
AS DEAL DECIDES, MASSIVE CORPORATE OPPOSITION CONTINUES TO GROW: As the legislature has considered this horrific law, countless companies in Georgia and across the country have spoken out against the bill. Late last night, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce weighed in, urging Gov. Deal to veto HB 757. “This legislation is in conflict with the values of diversity and inclusion that Georgians hold dear and could erode Georgia’s hard-earned status as the No. 1 state for business,” the Chamber said. HRC and Georgia Unites delivered more than 75,000 email petitions to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal earlier this month. The petitions urge Governor Deal to veto HB 757 should it reach his desk. And in recent weeks companies like Coca-Cola, Dell, Hilton, IHG, Marriott, Microsoft and Salesforce have all spoken out against the bill. While Governor deal has until early May to take action on the bill, as HRC President Chad Griffin made clear, “Anything other than a swift veto is only courting an Indiana-style backlash." More here: abcn.ws/1R0bq25 and bit.ly/1RQB45H
TURING CEO RON TILLES ON CAPITOL HILL TODAY DEFENDING RECKLESS DARAPRIM PRICE HIKE: This morning, Ron Tilles, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals -- the drug company that has become synonymous with corporate greed -- will testify before the Senate Aging Committee and attempt to defend Turing's outrageous price hike on a lifesaving treatment for people with compromised immune systems. The last time we saw officials from Turing--including the odious, smirking Martin Shkreli--they were in front of the House Oversight Committee defending their 5,000 percent price hike of the live-saving drug Daraprim. Turing allegedly bought up the available supply of Daraprim in order to prevent a generic version from being made -- and documents subpoenaed by Congress show that the company celebrated the profit they would make on monopolizing this crucial drug. It’s been 6 months since former CEO Martin Shkreli promised to lower the price--and we’ve seen ZERO action for current executives to return the price of the drug to it’s original price. HRC is live-tweeting today’s hearing. Take action and follow the conversation at #PeopleNotProfits.
ANTI-LGBT EXTREMIST TONY PERKINS CHOSEN AS DELEGATE FOR GOP CONVENTION: According to LGBTQ Nation, anti-LGBT extremist Tony Perkins has been selected as a delegate for the GOP convention to represent that state of Louisiana. “We may not know who will be representing the GOP at the Republican National Convention, but I know one person who will be representing Louisiana -- me!,” Perkins, who is President of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council (FRC), shared in a press release. “I’ve been elected by the delegation to serve on the Republican Platform Committee, which is where some of the most significant debates over the party’s core values occur.” Perkins clearly has the ear of party leaders. Just this week, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) hosted Perkins on Capitol Hill for a briefing to promote the so-called First Amendment Defense Act -- legislation that, under the guise of religious liberty, would allow nonprofit organizations and businesses contracting with the federal government to circumvent critical federal protections designed to protect same-sex couples and their families from harmful discrimination. As President of the FRC, Perkins has a history of discriminating against LGBT people. He authored the marriage section of the GOP’s 2012 party platform; claimed the LGBT community will cause a holocaust against Christians, has dramatically proclaimed that marriage equality will soon lead to a “revolution” that will “explode and just break this nation apart.” The FRC is deemed as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and has spent years spewing anti-LGBT rhetoric and hate.
KANSAS HOUSE SENDS LEGISLATIVE ATTACK ON LGBTQ COLLEGE STUDENTS TO GOVERNOR’S DESK: Yesterday, the Kansas House of Representatives passed SB 175 -- a bill that would put LGBT college students at even greater risk of discrimination on campuses across the state. The atrocious legislation -- which now heads to anti-LGBT Sam Brownback’s desk--would force public universities to fund student organizations that discriminate by restricting their membership and denying LGBTQ students from participating under the guise of “religious beliefs.” If Gov. Brownback, who made headlines last year for his anti-LGBT executive order, signs the legislation, it would be the first stand-alone anti-LGBT bill signed into law in 2016. The bill jeopardizes non-discrimination policies that have already been put into place by many of Kansas’ educational institutions, including the Kansas Board of Regents and the University of Kansas. These policies require that student organizations which receive financial and other support from the school do not discriminate against students based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. SB 175 blows a hole right through them -- and allows discrimination against any of these groups if one cites a “religious belief” as a justification. These policies are incredibly important because they allow all members of the student body to participate in student groups and prevent such groups from discriminating against students with state funding. More here: bit.ly/1U9ogy3 and bit.ly/1TQTt8z
CHILD WELFARE ADVOCATES OPPOSE NEBRASKA ANTI-LGBT ADOPTION BILL: Leading national child welfare agencies have issued a letter opposing a bill in the Nebraska Unicam, LB 975, which would enshrine discrimination into Nebraska law by allowing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to reject prospective parents based on "the child placing agency's sincerely held religious beliefs." LB 975 would mean that an agency could turn away a range of Nebraskans seeking to adopt a child -- from LGBT couples to interfaith couples, single parents or a married couple where one prospective parent had been previously divorced. The agencies, the Donaldson Adoption Institute, Voice for Adoption, North American Council on Adoptable Children and National Center on Adoption and Permanency, note that more than two decades of research showing that children raised by lesbian and gay foster parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents and that qualified and eager parents should not be excluded because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Read the full letter here: bit.ly/1poGDBy
CHARLOTTE BUSINESSES ON-TRACK TO FOLLOW NEW ORDINANCE: Ahead of April 1, when the non-discrimination ordinance goes into effect, the Charlotte City Council is working to educate business owners about the new rules and regulations they must follow to make Charlotte more welcoming to all visitors and residents. Approved last month, the ordinance extends non-discrimination protections to the LGBT community in public accommodations, vehicles for hire and government contracting. City attorney Bob Hagemann told the Charlotte Observer that his team is working hard to debunk the transgender bathroom myth by referring to guidance by the federal government, but no businesses have said that they are not able to comply with the new law. More here: bit.ly/1RP4QYK
NEW TRANS ADVISORY COUNCIL FORMED IN LOS ANGELES: Earlier this week, the City of Los Angeles announced the launch a Transgender Advisory Council that according to the mayor’s office, will “advise the mayor, City Council, city staff and other elected officials on economic development, public safety and awareness, accessibility and other issues that impact the trans community in LA” The Council has nine members from a variety of backgrounds who will gather once a month to host public meetings: bit.ly/1VcNo5M
AROUND THE WORLD
BOTSWANAN COURT ALLOWS LGB GROUP TO LOBBY ANTI-EQUALITY LEGISLATION: The highest court in Botswana took a small step toward equality yesterday, as they rejected an attempt by the government to ban a LGB lobbying group. Prior to being heard before this court, a lower court ruled that the group, called the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana, should have been allowed to lobby for changes in legislation directly affecting the community. This is a huge victory for the group, as same-sex relationships are illegal in the African country. More here: bit.ly/1Lr9Fe1
BLOOD OF THE IRISH: The Health Ministry of Northern Ireland is considering removing the lifetime ban on blood donation from gay and bisexual men. Just as a refresher, Northern Ireland is its own country and is also a part of the United Kingdom. While pro-LGBT advocates and lawmakers are taking strides towards greater equality and fighting discrimination, the nation does not have marriage equality. Reconsidering the blood ban is an important first step for LGBT equality in the country. More here: bit.ly/1RoupiH
AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE! OI OI OI!!: What is going on with marriage equality in Australia? TL:DR: nothing much more to report. After a week of political infighting and back and forth between the Labor and Green parties, it appears like a vote deciding when a marriage equality plebiscite (Australian for referendum) might happen has been delayed. At the same time, support for marriage equality is officially over 70 percent of the population. Supporters of marriage equality (again, a HUGE portion of the country) are wondering why the government is even considering a plebiscite which would cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, when they could, you know, just do their jobs and pass legislation. More here: bit.ly/1UCt1yq and bit.ly/1U9ic8G
The Verge breaks down a study showing that Americans support LGBT parents adopting… The Advocate asks LGBT leaders their opinion of Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the US Supreme Court… DNAinfo Chicago reports on a new LGBT-focused health clinic in Englewood… ThinkProgress chronicles the battle of one Tennessee School district to keep their SGA running in light of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from local parents… PinkNews applauds a new drop-in center for anti-LGBT hate crime survivors in Wales… The New Civil Rights Movement profiles Alex Cooper, a survivor of the dangerous and debunked practice of so-called “conversion therapy”.... Cosmopolitan introduces us to Jaylon, an adorable boy who is specifically seeking LGBT parents… Buzzfeed gives us an overview of the horrific anti-LGBT backlash facing Ambassador Wally Brewster… Los Angeles Times meets a trans man breaking down barriers in Uzbekistan… Iceland Monitor looks at one group's effort to bring marriage equality to the country... and Washington Blade tallies up the wins and loses of Virginia’s legislative session.