SALESFORCE, ATL CHAMBER STEP UP AS PRESSURE MOUNTS ON GOVERNOR DEAL TO STOP DRACONIAN NEW LAW: Salesforce and Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce are increasing pressure on Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to reject the anti-LGBT legislation that passed earlier this week. Yesterday, Salesforce announced that the company would substantially decrease its investment in Georgia should the bill become law. In addition, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, in speaking out against this discriminatory legislation, indicated that allowing it to become law could jeopardize the city’s ability to “recruit major revenue-driving sporting events like the Super Bowl, the Final Four and the College Football Championship.” This comes after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the governor wants to guard the state’s pro-business reputation and would reject bills that allow discrimination in the state. Gov. Deal has until May 3 to decide whether to veto this bill, to sign it, or to allow it to become law without his signature. More here: http://bit.ly/1UmrRbi and take action here. Urge Governor Deal to act on his words and veto HB 757.
WAPO LOOKS AT THE IMPACT OF “CORPORATE ACTIVISM”: In a piece today,The Washington Post’s Jeff Guo makes the case for “corporate activism.” Guo highlights various experiments on Indiana’s discriminatory RFRA from last year, in which not only did support for the law drop when participants learned that it would allow for anti-LGBT discrimination, but when they heard that Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke out against the RFRA, participants said they were more likely to buy Apple products in the near future. Bottom line: equality is good for business. So as we continue state battles against anti-LGBT bills, not only are the voices of corporate leaders instrumental, but their consumers value their input and respond in kind. As Guo writes, “The case of Tim Cook illustrates, at least, that engaging in hot-button issues might even be good for business. Even if his remarks weren’t particularly effective at changing public opinion, as a famous figure he drew attention to the debate.” More here about other businesses (including Apple) standing up for equality: bit.ly/1VjPXTL
GRAMMY WINNING SINGER-SONGWRITER ESTELLE TO PERFORM AT HRC LA GALA: Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Estelle will perform at this Saturday’s 2016 HRC Los Angeles Gala. Estelle has received widespread critical acclaim and numerous awards and accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “American Boy” with Kanye West, two Brit Award nominations, three MOBO Awards, and a World Music Award. She refuses to let barriers hold her back, and relates to the LGBT community through many of the experiences she’s faced in life. According to one interview, “She feels her own encounters with harsh judgment have provided a special understanding of similar experiences faced by the LGBT community… and anyone who has ‘been told they can't.’” In addition, the acclaimed television sensation “Empire" will be honored with the HRC Equality Award. Ryan Murphy will present the HRC Visibility Award to Nina Jacobson – whose work includes the blockbuster hit “The Hunger Games” and FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” Tickets for tomorrow’s event at the JW Marriott LA Live as well as additional information are available at hrcladinner.com.
IT’S BISEXUAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH!: Surveys have shown that bisexual people are the largest group within the LGBT community: half of people who identify as LGB identify as bisexual. Yet bisexuals are far less likely than their gay and lesbian peers to be out, citing stereotypes, skepticism and pressure to “choose” one sexual orientation as reasons for staying in the closet. Health outcomes for the bisexual community are often worse than their straight, gay or lesbian peers, which could be connected to bisexual people fearing coming out to medical professionals. To mark Bisexual Health Awareness Month, the HRC Foundation, in partnership with BiNet USA, the Bisexual Organizing Project, and the Bisexual Resource Center, has released a guide to help bisexual people of all ages who are contemplating the important step of coming out. The guide provides advice for healthcare and school settings, and for finding an affirming and empowering community. More here: bit.ly/1VgPcuL
ONE TENNESSEE MOM TAKES ON THE STATE’S VICIOUS ANTI-TRANS LEGISLATION: ICYMI, check out this op-ed by Lindsay Shaw, a mother of two in Tennessee who’s calling on her fellow Tennesseans to help put a stop to the ongoing legislative assault against transgender children and students. HB 2414, which unanimously advanced out of a House subcommittee earlier this week, seeks to target transgender students in public elementary, middle and high schools, as well as those in public universities, by forcing them to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity. Lindsay writes, “Children and youth face enough uncertainty in the regular course of growing up and coming into themselves. Here in Tennessee, we have children who are going hungry. We have children who are being bullied in school and whose basic needs aren't being met. As parents and caregivers, we should be passing laws addressing those needs, not passing needless and discriminatory measures that amount to legislated bullying, waste taxpayer money and distract us from the real issues our state faces.” Fair-minded Tennesseans; major national child welfare, medical and education groups; the Tennessee Equality Project and HRC have been pleading with lawmakers to abandon the discriminatory measure, which is very similar to a bill that was recently vetoed by the Governor of South Dakota. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has expressed concern that the discriminatory, unconstitutional measure would compromise the state’s billions of dollars in federal funding for its schools and universities. Read Lindsay’s full piece here: bit.ly/1LuLivW
MISSOURI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE COMES OUT AGAINST SJR39: The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has joined the chorus of businesses, national elected officials, and fair-minded Missourians in condemning SJR 39 -- a measure that would enshrine discrimination against LGBT people and their families into the state constitution. In a statement released yesterday, the chamber said that the resolution would have a negative impact on the state’s economy, and came out in opposition to “adding a constitutional protection for employees who refuse to do their jobs.” Senate Republicans passed the resolution after the Senate Democrats led a historic filibuster effort to stop the anti-equality majority. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, St. Louis Regional Chamber, Dow Chemical Company and Monsanto as well as Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have all come out against the measure. It now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration, and if it passes, it would go directly to the ballot for final consideration by voters later this year. As a reminder, Governor Nixon would have no opportunity to veto it. More here: bit.ly/1pQhQqt
QUEEN CITY ROADTRIPS FOR EQUALITY: The Charlotte City Council and LGBT advocates rallied outside of North Carolina’s legislative building in Raleigh yesterday to tell lawmakers to keep Charlotte’s LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance intact. The City Council voted to add sexual orientation and gender identity to their city-wide non-discrimination ordinance last month, and the measure goes into effect on April 1. Since passing this ordinance, state lawmakers have threatened to use state legislation to overturn the ordinance--including potentially spending $42,000 a day in taxpayer dollars to fund a special session just to target it. State lawmakers have also reached out to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper about the ordinance. His response? That no action was necessary, as the ordinance does not pose a threat to anyone’s safety. We couldn’t agree more. More here: bit.ly/21y1BtV
AROUND THE WORLD
YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US: Scottish MPs are not thrilled with their upcoming guest speaker. Ghanaian president John Dramani Mahama is set to visit Scotland and address the parliament. Many LGBT activists and members of parliament are saying “nope” since Ghana remains one of the 75 countries in which being LGBT is illegal. In a letter to the parliament’s presiding officer, the Scottish Green Party wrote, “[w]e believe that the Scottish parliament should be a place where everyone can feel safe. Yet the invitation to President John Dramani Mahama to address MPs can only undermine this, given his full support for the horrific discriminatory laws towards the LGBT community in his country.” More here: bit.ly/22nJ2ye and bit.ly/1UGEcG9
COMO SE DICE “DISCRIMINATION”?: The Catholic Church’s leadership in the Dominican Republic is launching attack after attack against America’s Ambassador James “Wally” Brewster. Though a remarkable public servant and advocate for human rights, Church leaders in the DR have created a petition trying to oust Ambassador Brewster. Why? Because Ambassador Brewster is gay. HRC proudly stands with Ambassador Brewster, and continues to call on Pope Francis to intervene and put an end to these attacks. More here: bit.ly/1RnG5sd
FAILURE IN FAROE: The parliament of Faroe Islands, an archipelago in Northern Denmark rejected a marriage equality bill yesterday. Though marriage equality has been in the law of the land in Denmark since 2012, the small volcanic nation is still trying to bring progress to the Islands. As Gay Star News reports, “Progress in the Faroe Islands is notoriously slow, but not because of the public. In a 2013 poll, two thirds said they would support same-sex marriage.” More here: bit.ly/1SY1MhN
RIGHT AND YET SO WRONG: There is good news and bad news out of India today. Good news: a top official from an extremely powerful Hindu-nationalist group in India made a statement that “homosexuality is not a crime” on Twitter. But, hold the applause. Alas, the official used the rest of his 140 characters to say that it is a“socially immoral act in our society. No need to punish, but to be treated as a psychological case.” One step semi-forward, and a deeply harmful statement back. More here: on.wsj.com/1Me0X2M
The Advocate makes the connection between LGBT intolerance and poor mental health outcomes; Newsday historicizes LGBT participation at the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade; The Washington Post looks at the evolving media coverage of trans stories; Associated Press chronicles the reactions to Panasonic’s new LGBT-inclusive policies in Japan; Observer covers a coalition of advocates working to restore honor to New York’s LGBT veterans; Representative Mike Honda explains the need to ban so-called “conversion therapy” in The Advocate; Travel Weekly touts a river cruise specifically for trans travelers; Washington Blade speaks out against threats made against a Ukrainian LGBT festival; News Channel 3 West Michigan promotes a local fundraiser benefiting the LGBT community; and International Business Times dives into the “religious freedom” protests against LGBT participation in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade.