ERIC FANNING MAKES HISTORY AS FIRST OPENLY GAY SECRETARY OF THE US ARMY: Demonstrating the continued progress toward fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces, the Senate yesterday confirmed Eric Fanning to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Army. Fanning, who has spent his career tirelessly serving our nation with dedication, skill and ability, is the first openly gay leader of a U.S. military service, and now the highest-ranking, Senate-confirmed openly LGBT appointed official. His nomination in September by President Obama had been blocked by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) over his unrelated concern about the potential transfer of Guantanamo detainees. Fanning’s confirmation comes just five years after the end of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law that prohibited qualified LGB Americans from serving in the U.S. armed forces. We urge the Pentagon to move quickly to allow qualified transgender people to openly serve. More from HRC.
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S IDAHOT REMARKS REMIND OF EQUALITY WORK AHEAD: President Obama marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) on Tuesday by celebrating gains the United States has made in recent years, including nationwide marriage equality, and pointing to the hard work left to be done to ensure LGBT rights worldwide. In a statement, the president said that IDAHOT presents an opportunity to reaffirm the “dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love, or their gender identity.” Noting that fear of persecution, discrimination and violence permeate the lives of many LGBT people, he said that “all nations and all communities can, and must, do better.”
- #WeAreWithYou: More than two dozen Democratic members of Congress kicked off IDAHOT by releasing a video pledging their support for LGBT people, and vowing to “keep fighting for you until we win.”
- Another reason to LOVE Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: His administration used IDAHOT as an opportunity to introduce federal legislation that would grant full legal and human rights protections to all transgender Canadians. The proposal marks the first time gender identity-based legislation has been introduced by a Canadian sitting government. More from CBC News.
SIR ELTON JOHN BLASTS NC GOV. MCRORY’S “IGNORANCE OF TRANS IDENTITY”: In a powerful op-ed in The Hill, Sir Elton John condemns NC’s discriminatory HB2 and criticizes Gov. Pat McCrory’s ignorance on transgender issues. While Sir Elton John denounced HB2, he saved some of his harshest criticism for the governor, writing: “What’s worse than the discriminatory bill itself, and the millions in taxpayer dollars McCrory is wasting to defend it, is that the governor signed it after admitting he had never met a transgender person…” To remedy issues plaguing the transgender community, he writes, lawmakers must first acknowledge the existence of transgender people. More from HRC.
- Dear NC, see ya - in our rearview mirror: Tourism agencies in NC are being bombarded with emails from out-of-state travelers saying they’ll be taking their vacations elsewhere because of the state’s discriminatory law.
- Bowing out: Grammy award-winning violinist, composer and Presidential Medal of Freedom holder Itzhak Perlman has cancelled his concert with the North Carolina Symphony over HB2, saying he has spent a lifetime fighting discrimination.
- National Council of La Raza moves meeting out of Raleigh: The organization says HB2 is offensive, and that “Hispanics know what it’s like to be singled out and stripped of our humanity because of who we are or what we look like.”
- Late Night Laugh: On last night’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Meyers once again used his platform to speak out for equality and explain the fact that transgender people remain one of our most vulnerable populations. Watch here.
HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE REJECTS VOTE TO SAVE CRUCIAL LGBT PROTECTIONS: Last night, the House Republican Leadership prevented debate and rejected a vote on a bipartisan amendment to roll back an anti-LGBT provision tacked onto the National Defense Authorization Act. Under the guise of religious liberty, the provision would allow taxpayer-funded discrimination in contracts and grants across the federal government and jeopardize President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination in federal contracting based on sexual orientation or gender identity. More from HRC.
SOUTHERN CITIES HARDEST HIT BY HIV EPIDEMIC: Emory University researchers have unveiled a new map that provides harrowing insight into the nation’s ongoing struggle against HIV, and the growing disparity between the epidemic in the South, and the rest of the country. The sobering findings reveal that gay and bisexual men living in southern cities face the greatest risk of HIV transmission, with a staggering 25 percent diagnosed with HIV in Columbia, South Carolina; El Paso, Texas; and Jackson, Mississippi. Learn more about HRC’s fight against HIV here.
CONGRESSMEN SEEK TO FIX THE RFRA: Congressmen Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) today introduced the Do No Harm Act, new legislation that would restore balance originally sought by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The new bill would amend RFRA by specifically exempting areas of law where RFRA has been used disingenuously to bypass federal regulations. More from HRC.
MEXICO SAYS “SÍ” TO MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto has moved forward with proposals to reform the country’s laws to enable same-sex marriages, following the lead of Latin American countries Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. The measures would update Mexico’s constitution to reflect a 2015 ruling by Mexico’s Supreme Court, which found that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, and would require Mexico’s states to update their marriage laws accordingly. Importantly, the proposal would also make it easier for transgender Mexicans to obtain a passport that reflects their gender identity. More from The New York Times.
HUNDREDS OF METHODIST CLERGY STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH CHURCH’S LGBT PASTORS: Last week, more than 100 Methodist ministers made a powerful statement by coming out as LGBT in an open letter in defiance of their church’s ban on ordaining “practicing homosexuals.” In support of those ministers who have put their careers on the line to stand up for their ability to live openly and honestly as LGBTQI people who care deeply about their church, 1,592 Methodist clergy members have signed on to a second letter supporting LGBTQI clergy and refusing to be part of disciplining or replacing clergy who have come out. This support shows that the pastors are willing to take a stand with their LGBTQI brethren, despite the church's disappointing lack of progress during this week’s United Methodist General Conference, a 10-day meeting of the church’s top policy-making body.
Bustle recalls America’s first same-sex wedding in Massachusetts 12 years ago; The Cut dives into the frightening anti-LGBT bias found around the world; BuzzFeed uncovers the sexist and racist history behind gender-segregated bathrooms; ThinkProgress unpacks Donald Trump’s confusing and contradictory beliefs on transgender policies; J Post details a Tel Aviv birthing class specifically for LGBT parents; The Associated Press gives an overview of the impact of Utah’s new LGBT discrimination law; and Bloomberg News highlights how companies are working to protect LGBT workers abroad.