MISSISSIPPI BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND LGBT ADVOCATES URGING VETO OF HB 1523: With the Mississippi State Legislature’s final approval yesterday, HB 1523 is officially headed to the desk of Governor Bryant. A growing list of businesses and organizations are urging the governor to veto the discriminatory bill, including some of the state’s largest employers. Yesterday, HRC, the ACLU of Mississippi, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Gulf Coast Equality, and other supporters from across the state rallied outside the governor’s mansion urging him to veto the legislation, that would allow individuals, religious organizations and private associates to use religion to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives (and legalize Kim Davis-style discrimination). Last week, HRC had requested that the governor meet with LGBT Mississippians, but that call has gone unanswered -- and yesterday advocates were turned away from his office. HRC also requested that House Speaker Philip Gunn meet with the LGBT community prior to yesterday afternoon’s final vote on the bill -- another request that was denied. Under HB 1523, religion could be used by individuals or organizations to justify discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples, and others. Tax-payer funded faith-based organizations could: refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for provision of critical services including emergency shelter; deny children in need of loving homes placement with LGBT families including the child’s own family member; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person -- even if the organization receives government funding. More on HB 1523 and yesterday’s events here from the Associated Press.
MISSISSIPPI MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION JOINS THE STATE’S LARGEST EMPLOYERS CALLING FOR A VETO: Yesterday, the Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA) joined the growing list of businesses and organizations urging Governor Bryant to veto HB 1523. Jay C. Moon, President and CEO of the MMA spoke out against the legislation, saying: “It is clear that many of our members find that HB 1523 would violate their corporate policies expressly providing for an inclusive workplace environment that supports diversity. This is not a bill that the MMA supports and we hope that it will not find its way into law.” Some of the state’s largest employers -- Nissan Group of North America, Tyson Food Inc, MGM Resorts International and Toyota -- have also publicly opposed the bill, joining national corporations such as AT&T, IBM, Levi Strauss & Co, MassMutual, General Electric, and Hyatt Hotel Corporations. Last week, the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi released a strongly worded statement condemning the measure. All eyes on Governor Bryant who can either follow the example of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard and reject attacks on fairness and equality, or the example of North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory who has forever sullied his state’s reputation by approving HB2.
PAYPAL WITHDRAWS INVESTMENT IN NORTH CAROLINA, TAKING TONS OF JOBS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS WITH IT: Today, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman announced that the company will seek an alternative location for its new “global operations center.” Plans for the $3.6 million facility were announced at an event with Gov. Pat McCrory March 18, and the investment was expected to bring 400 skilled jobs to North Carolina, with an annual payroll impact of more than $20 million. In a statement today, Schulman said, “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.” HRC President Chad Griffin responded to the news with a message for the governor: “With every passing day that HB2 remains on the books, Governor McCrory is inflicting damage on the state’s economy and reputation. The fact also remains that this destructive and appalling bill continues to put people across the state at risk of harm and discrimination. It is time for Governor McCrory to stop this senseless crusade against equality and repeal HB2 once and for all.” Passed on March 23rd, HB 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. It also forces transgender students in public schools, as well as transgender adults in publicly owned buildings, to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity. PayPal’s CEO had previously joined dozens of CEOs from across the nation in signing a joint letter from HRC and Equality North Carolina calling for the repeal of HB 2. A copy of the updated letter and its signatories can be found here. Click here to read PayPal’s full statement
ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST TAKES A STAND AGAINST HB 2: Yesterday, Architectural Digest canceled their renowned annual cocktail party at High Point Market in North Carolina, following the passage of HB 2. Editor-in-Chief Margaret Russell and Publisher Giulio Capua released the following statement: “The Architectural Digest team supports the design industry and will attend the upcoming High Point market, but we have decided to cancel our annual spring market cocktail party on Sunday, April 17, as a celebration no longer feels appropriate given the discriminatory law North Carolina passed last week. We are firmly dedicated to the American principle of equal rights for all regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race or religion, and we have made a donation to the Human Rights Campaign in support of their extraordinary work to protect these basic civil rights for everyone, everywhere.” Serious question: Is Governor McCrory paying attention?
NC CITIES PASS RESOLUTIONS OPPOSING HB 2: Following the North Carolina General Assembly’s hurried approval of HB 2, the Greensboro City Council will discuss passing a resolution opposing the measure. Though the resolution is largely symbolic, yesterday, Councilman Justin Outling said, “I think the law is unfair and not the right thing to do. While I recognize people in our community may disagree on that point, in terms of what it means for our local and state economy, I think it’s beyond dispute it’s a bad law.” Chapel Hill Town Council passed a similar resolution last week. More here from Greensboro.com.
MCCRORY GETS TROLLED ON TWITTER: If you have a moment today, be sure to check out Governor McCrory’s twitter account. After congratulating UNC for making it to the NCAA championship and making the Tar Heel State proud, naturally, the tweets blaming McCrory for their loss came rolling in. Find a few of our favorites here and here, but be sure to scroll through the entire feed.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT AGAINST THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PEDIATRICS: Recently, the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) released a statement condemning gender-affirming care for transgender and gender-expansive youth. ACPeds wants you to confuse them for the American Academy of Pediatrics, the 86-year-old group that represents 60,000 pediatricians across the United States. But ACPeds was founded in 2002 by a fringe group of doctors angry that the American Academy of Pediatrics recognized same-sex couples as loving, capable adoptive parents. They won’t say how many members they have, but reports peg the number at less than 200, perhaps because the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated them as a hate group. Besides insinuating that they represent more than a tiny group of pediatricians with extreme views about LGBT people, ACPeds tries to make its statements seem scientific by sprinkling in plenty of footnotes. On closer inspection, however, many of these references are inapplicable, non-scientific, or used for completely different conclusions than the sources actually make. This is simply how ACPeds operates though, so don’t be fooled. The American Academy of Pediatrics on the other hand, has provided guidelines for gender-affirmative care, including gender transition for transgender youth. And it officially opposes therapies purported to change a transgender child’s identity, saying they can be psychologically damaging. Learn more about gender-expansive children and youth here, and check out this map we’ve created of over 40 clinical care programs that work with gender expansive youth.
ADVOCATES URGE MISSOURI STATE LEGISLATURE TO REJECT SJR 39: This week, the Missouri House is set to vote on Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 39 -- a measure that would place on the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment to allow discrimination against LGBT people and their families. Last week, over 100 advocates from around the state gathered for the “Rally at the Capitol.” Hosted by PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization and the ACLU, participates spoke out on the broad impact the proposed constitutional amendment could have on LGBT families in the Show Me State if it were to make it onto the ballot and pass. Advocates also delivered over 4,000 petition signatures to Missouri Speaker Richardson’s office, asking him not to bring the legislation to the House floor. 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. As a reminder, if it passes, it would go directly to the ballot for final consideration by voters later this year. Governor Nixon would have no opportunity to veto it. In case you missed it, check out this op-ed from Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly LGBT player to be drafted. He’s standing against the bill as well.
HISTORIC PARENTAL RECOGNITION CASE BEGINS TODAY IN MARYLAND: Today, the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, will hear oral arguments in Conover v. Conover, a landmark case that will determine whether state law does in fact grant parental recognition rights to families headed by LGBT people. The case involves Michael Conover, a transgender man, and his former spouse Brittany Eckel. During their relationship, the couple had a child named Jaxon, but when it came to visitation Eckel denied Conover is a legal parent. Trial court and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals have both ruled against him, so the Court’s decision on this case, which is expected this August, will set an important legal precedent in the Maryland. According to Metro Weekly, “Last month, more than 45 organizations and legal scholars signed onto amicus briefs filed with the court arguing in favor of recognizing Conover as his son’s legal parent and thereby allowing him visitation and custody rights.” More here from Metro Weekly.
AROUND THE WORLD
SOMETHING BAD IN OZ: Kevin Andrews, “Natural Family Man of the Year” award recipient from the World Congress of Families, has claimed he might be willing to consider running against Malcolm Turnbull for the premiership of Australia. A staunchly anti-equality conservative politician, Andrews was booted from office alongside former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. While the rest of us brush up on our Australian politics, the over 70% of Australians who are ready for marriage equality are not interested in taking a step backwards with Andrews. More here from The Guardian.
The Washington Post highlights the Corporate America’s embrace of LGBT equality… Houston Chronicle looks at the future for LGBT rights in Texas… The Fresno Bee compares Mississippi’s anti-LGBT law to other states’... ThinkProgress examines LGBT inclusion in Major League Baseball… The Advocate highlights Chris Cuomo’s take-down of an anti-LGBT activist on CNN… The Washington Post chronicles one Methodist minister’s display of support for marriage equality… Mother Jones breaks down all the ways North Carolina’s HB 2 hurts LGBT people… The New York Times looks at the Navy’s push for gender neutrality… and U.S. News and World Report profiles an Argentinian transgender person’s dream of playing professional soccer.