TAR HEEL TRAVESTY: News from North Carolina, where more than 180 companies and an ever-increasing list of national Republicans are publicly opposing the discriminatory HB2. Meanwhile, McCrory, Berger and right-wing groups backing the bill are quadrupling down, despite mounting economic damage and companies suffering from lost business.
- NOW MORE THAN 180 STRONG, EXECUTIVES CALL FOR REPEAL OF HB2: Additional companies are urging Gov. Pat McCrory to repeal HB2, despite his recent do-nothing executive order, and failed attempt to defend the law on Meet the Press. Today, HRC and Equality NC announced that executives from Alcoa Inc., BASF Corporation, Ben & Jerry’s, Cascade Engineering, Dansko, Etsy, Green Mountain Power, Kickstarter, KPMG LLP, Live Nation Entertainment, New Belgium Brewing, New Seasons Market, Osceola Music, Patagonia, Self-Help, The Fresh Market, Vanguard, Warby Parker and Xerox Corporation have signed onto an open letter that now includes more than 180 leading CEOs and business leaders urging Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the radical provisions in the deeply discriminatory law that was rammed through the legislature on March 23. More from HRC Blog.
- HB2 BACKERS ASK LEGISLATORS TO SIGN LOYALTY PLEDGE: Anti-equality activists in North Carolina are doubling down on their efforts ahead of the state’s upcoming legislative session by asking lawmakers who support HB2 to sign a pledge not to repeal any of its provisions. In the pledge, representatives from the NC Values Coalition, NC Family Policy Council and the Christian Action League are also demanding that lawmakers promise not to add protections for LGBT people to the state’s non-discriminatory law. As The News & Observer points out, all three of these groups came out against the Governor’s recent executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination in state offices and contracts. Senate Leader Phil Berger will likely sign the pledge, if he hasn’t already. At a press conference yesterday, he reiterated his support for the discriminatory law. More from The News & Observer.
- DONALD TRUMP AND TED CRUZ SPAR OVER NORTH CAROLINA’S HB2: Noting the damage it has caused to the state’s economy, Donald Trump said this morning that he did not support North Carolina’s HB2. Ted Cruz promptly appeared on Glenn Beck’s radio show to blast Trump and spout yet again his transphobic rhetoric. Reminder: North Carolina’s WRAL found in its poll this month that 50 percent of Tar Heel voters oppose HB2, while only 38 percent support it. HRC’s Chad Griffin reacts: “#HB2 is so extreme and so costly, even @realDonaldTrump wants it repealed.” More on WRAL’s poll.
- NORTH CAROLINA’S HOTEL INDUSTRY TAKES A HIT AFTER HB2: North Carolina continues to lose out on direct spending in the state. The National Organization for Victim Assistance, citing the discriminatory provisions of HB2, has pulled its annual training event from Charlotte. This loss will again hit North Carolina where it hurts -- roughly 1,200 people were expected to attend the event, translating into about 1,516 hotel room nights in the city. The organization says it hopes that it can eventually return to Charlotte, but won’t even consider it until HB2 is repealed. More from The Charlotte Observer.
- MORE THAN 250 SEXUAL ASSAULT AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ORGANIZATIONS SPEAK OUT AGAINST HB2: Today, a broad coalition of more than 250 sexual assault and domestic violence organizations released a moving statement calling for the end to the slew of discriminatory anti-transgender legislation. Led by the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, the coalition says that the anti-transgender rhetoric surrounding laws like North Carolina’s HB2 comes from a “failed understanding of what it means to be transgender.” The statement goes on to say, “As rape centers, shelters, and other service providers … we speak from experience and expertise when we state that these claims are false.” These organizations provide further proof of how harmful HB2 and measures like it are to the LGBT community. More on HRC’s blog.
NO, GOV. BRYANT, MISSISSIPPI’S HB1523 IS NOT LIKE RFRAs IN OTHER STATES: Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant is standing by HB1523, while making spurious claims that the bill only relates to marriage ceremonies and is similar to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed by New York Gov. Cuomo in 2011. What Bryant seems to be forgetting is that, among other harmful provisions, Mississippi’s law includes a right to refuse to recognize a marriage, and the state of New York already has laws in place protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Bryant then goes on to throw shade on performers including Bryan Adams and Belinda Carlisle who have denounced the legislation. Maybe Gov. Bryant should spend more time reading HB1523, instead of claiming that we haven’t. More from WAPT News.
LANCE BASS WANTS TO BRING ‘LOVE’ TO HIS HOME STATE: Native Mississippian Lance Bass has continued to speak out against HB1523 -- a discriminatory religious refusal bill that was signed into law on April 5. While several performers including rocker Bryan Adams and comedian Tracy Morgan have taken a stand by cancelling shows in the Hospitality State, Bass is taking a different approach. Yesterday he announced that he is working with Live Nation on a concert that will help raise money to fight the bill. Bass said, “I want to bring my friends down here and show them that Mississippi is about love and we are the hospitality state. The world does not look at us as the hospitality state anymore.” We’ll be looking forward to this one. More from The Clarion Ledger.
NEW: PASSOVER PAMPHLET: In advance of the Passover holiday, HRC released today a guide to help LGBTQ Jews who are seeking to reconnect with their faith and build more inclusive communities. Coming Home to Judaism and To Self features the personal journeys of prominent LGBTQ faith leaders, and highlights progress that many Jewish institutions have made toward becoming more welcoming and inclusive. The guide reflects a wide spectrum of personal experiences, and the variety of Jewish responses to welcoming LGBTQ families and friends in their communities. Read the full guide.
ALABAMA HOUSE COMMITTEE ADVANCES LGBT-INCLUSIVE HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION: Yesterday the Alabama House Judiciary Committee voted to advance HB413 -- commonsense legislation that would add critical new protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the state’s hate crimes statute. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Juandalynn Givan and Patricia Todd, now heads to the full Alabama House for consideration. Rep. Givan, who also introduced a same-sex marriage recognition bill this session, boldly reintroduced HB413 yesterday after it was voted down by a voice vote last week, Alabama is one of 20 states that do not have hate crimes laws explicitly protecting sexual orientation and gender identity. More from HRC’s blog.
INDIANA COUNCIL WANTS TO ADD LGBT PROTECTIONS TO CITY ORDINANCE: An advisory council in Valparaiso, Indiana, is looking to create a City Council ordinance that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The advisory voted 6 - 2 in favor of sending the recommendation for the added protections to city council. This comes after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law last year, which gave business the right to deny services on the grounds of “religious liberty.” Indiana also failed to add LGBT protections to the state law this year. More from The Washington Times.
MEDICAL, HIV AND LGBT GROUPS CHALLENGING MISSOURI’S CRIMINAL HIV LAW: Yesterday, the Center for HIV Law and Policy, a national leader on HIV policy development, filed an amicus brief on behalf of Michael Johnson, a former Missouri college student sentenced to more than 30 years for allegedly violating Missouri’s HIV transmission and exposure statute. “Laws criminalizing the behaviors with near-zero risk for HIV transmission and that fail to account for effective HIV prevention measures -- like condom use and PrEP -- are not just misguided, they are deadly,” said HRC Senior Legislative Counsel Robin Maril at the time of the sentencing. Medical experts and advocates have continued to decry Johnson’s conviction, attributing it to a trial that was full of misinformation about HIV transmission and inaccurate stereotypes about men who have sex with men, as well as a justice system that tries, convicts and sentences Black men more harshly than other groups. (A nearly all white jury convicted Johnson after only two hours of deliberation). A number of organizations including the American Academy of HIV Medicine, Center for Constitutional Rights, Missouri AIDS Task Force and Empower Missouri and HRC have signed on to the brief.
SEATTLE LAUNCHES SAFE PLACES PROGRAM: We’ve crossed North Carolina and Mississippi off our summer vacation list, but maybe it’s time to visit the Emerald City! 98 public schools in Seattle are now designated “safe places” in Seattle, meaning that LGBTQ victims of violence or harassment can seek refuge in these locations until police arrive. The announcement, made by openly gay Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, underscores a point made by our friends at the Victory Fund: More LGBT officials in a state leads to greater LGBT protections. More from Seattle Pi.
AROUND THE WORLD
MALTA MARRIAGE: A survey conducted by The Malta Independent revealed that 61 percent of Republic of Malta citizens want to legalize same-sex marriage. This overwhelming push toward marriage equality comes just two short years after the island (located between Italy and Libya) introduced civil unions. Malta destination wedding, anyone? More from The Malta Independent.
UKRAINE PROTESTERS? MORE LIKE U-CRAZY: Yesterday, a smattering of anti-equality protesters gathered outside of parliament in Ukraine. Their plight? To protest equal rights for LGBT people. In November, Ukraine took a historic step with the passage of significant nondiscrimination legislation that provides needed workplace protections for LGBT citizens and others throughout the country. The protest yesterday dispersed, and it seems their voices of hatred cannot stop the momentum for equality. More the Kyiv Post.
The International Business Times breakdown all the artists who’ve cancelled events in Mississippi and North Carolina over their anti-LGBT laws… Progress Illinois shares that almost 10,000 same-sex marriage licenses have been issued in Illinois’ Cook County… The Daily Mississippian highlights the latest protests against HB1523… The Los Angeles Times looks at the phenomenon of red states with blue cities… The Reno Gazette Journal celebrates the opening of Reno’s LGBT community center… and ABC News profiles Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL draftee, as he slams Missouri’s “religious objections” bill.