#AM_Equality Tip Sheet: May 23, 2016
TODAY: LGBT ADVOCATES ENCOURAGE CHARLOTTE LEADERS TO REJECT PRESSURE TO ROLL BACK NON-DISCRIMINATION PROTECTIONS: On a press conference call today, leaders from HRC, Equality North Carolina and the National Center for Transgender Equality encouraged the Charlotte City Council to stand behind its LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections. For weeks, the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce and Republican legislative leaders in Raleigh have refused any efforts to repeal HB2, and have instead been calling on the City Council to roll back its protections. While this is being framed as a “compromise,” the Chamber (which never supported the ordinance) is actually suggesting that the Council ram through a gutting of LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections. Charlotte is being scapegoated by the Chamber and lawmakers in Raleigh who, coincidentally, rammed the hateful HB2 through in less than 12 hours. More than 200 business leaders, including executives from 13 companies that are members of the Chamber, have spoken out strongly against HB2. The call comes days after HRC President Chad Griffin, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling, and Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro sent a letter to the pro-equality councilmembers who passed Charlotte’s critical LGBT-inclusive ordinance, similar to ordinances that exist in 18 states and more than 100 cities.
- Transgender activists call on City Council to stay the course.... Transgender activists and supporters in a morning news conference outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center also urged Charlotte City Councilmembers to stand behind the city’s non-discrimination ordinance.
- Business leaders continue to speak out…. More than a dozen trade associations have written to Governor McCrory about the damaging effect HB2 is having on attracting businesses to the state. And last week, on behalf of 45,000 businesses, the Consumer Technology Association -- including the National Association of Manufacturers (the NC Chamber of Commerce is the Association’s ‘exclusive state affiliate’) -- also made clear their opposition to HB2 and support of ordinances like Charlotte’s.
NOT IN MY HOUSE: Following U.S. House of Representative’s shameful approval of an anti-LGBT provision in a defense spending bill last week, they’re at it again with a vote expected tonight on HR 5286. A section of the bill would allow veteran’s facilities to receive government funds without entering into a contract, thus removing coverage from President Obama’s executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors -- opening the door to discrimination.
- Meanwhile, last week’s last-minute vote flips are not going away…. Democrats are vowing to target anti-LGBT lawmakers who flipped their votes last week under pressure from Republican leadership. The vote changes occurred when GOP leadership held open a floor vote longer than rules permit to kill an amendment that would have ensured that funds from an appropriations bill couldn’t be used to discriminate against LGBT workers. Four of the seven Republicans face tough reelection races, and their votes will be remembered in November. The Hill has more. The White House also weighed in, saying that the underlying amendment, which could invalidate President Obama’s Executive Order protecting LGBT Americans from discrimination, has “nothing to do with our national defense.”
NEW YORK TIMES REVEALS YEARS OF WORK BEHIND OBAMA’S HISTORIC MOVE PROTECTING TRANSGENDER STUDENTS: The Obama administration’s historic guidance ensuring that transgender students are treated with respect in public and federally-funded schools, including securing their ability to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, was “the product of years of study inside the government,” the New York Times reports, and the involvement of LGBT advocates. The deliberate effort came to a head after North Carolina passed its discriminatory HB2 law, the Times says. In a meeting with President Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, advocates including HRC President Chad Griffin sounded the alarm that transgender students are under attack, and needed the federal government to “stand up for them.” Read more here.
- Meanwhile, officials in Georgia and Indiana are recklessly contemplating defying the Obama Administration’s recent guidance on transgender students, potentially risking billions in federal education funding.
- GOP state lawmakers in Oklahoma have introduced an anti-transgender bill, which would allow any student to request that their public schools bar transgender people from school bathrooms and facilities based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The bill passed in a committee on Friday, and is moving to the state House and Senate for a vote. More from Gay Star News.
- ADF strikes again: With the help of the notoriously anti-LGBT organization the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Grayson County (Va.) School Board passed an anti-transgender policy that forces transgender students to use the wrong restrooms. More from WSLS10.
- Yale “aims to be a leader”: The Ivy League institution announces it now has gender-neutral bathrooms in 23 buildings, and is allowing transgender grads to have on their diploma the name they use, rather than the one on their birth certificate.
TENN. GOV DEFUNDS UT DIVERSITY OFFICE: The University of Tennessee (UT) is disbanding its Office of Diversity after it was defunded under a new state law that prevents the institution from using state funds “to promote the use of gender-neutral pronouns, to promote or inhibit the celebration of religious holidays, or to fund or support sex week.” The controversy began when the UT Pride Center sent out a newsletter suggesting that staff learn students’ preferred names and pronouns to be more LGBT-inclusive. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam also recently signed an anti-LGBT law allowing counselors in private practice to cite their religious beliefs as a reason to deny services to LGBT clients, or refer them to another professional. The move led the American Counseling Association to cancel its annual conference next year in Nashville. More from HRC.
SHE’S BAAAACK: KEEPING UP WITH KIM DAVIS: Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk infamous for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claims in an interview with D. James Kennedy Ministries that same-sex couples “wanted to shove that [the Supreme Court ruling] down my throat and make me eat it for my dinner.” More from The Huffington Post.
EQUALITY IS SWEET: Hersheypark says that it encourages employees and visitors to use the bathrooms and facilities that correspond with their gender identity. A spokesperson says the announcement reinforces existing policies designed “to ensure those visiting or working at Hersheypark are comfortable and feel secure.” It really is the “Sweetest Place on Earth.” More from PennLive.
OLDER FOLKS SAY “I DO!” TO MARRIAGE EQUALITY: A recent Gallup Poll found that 53 percent of Americans over age 65 say that same-sex marriages should be recognized with full legal marital rights and benefits. It’s the first time since Gallup began asking the question in 1996 that a majority of people age 65 and older expressed support. Overall, 61 percent of Americans support marriage equality. More from The Huffington Post.
CELEBRATING A HAPPY ANNIVERSARY IN IRELAND: One year ago, more than 60 percent of Irish voters said ‘yes’ to the world’s first-ever national referendum for marriage equality. More than 400 same-sex couples in Ireland have tied the knot since. Sláinte!
THE KIRK MAKES HISTORY, SAYS OK TO MINISTERS IN SAME-SEX MARRIAGES: The Church of Scotland has voted to allow ministers to continue to serve if they are in a same-sex marriage or civil union, but still bars them from conducting same-sex weddings in the Church. More from BBC News.
TRANSGENDER EQUALITY LAW ADVANCES IN BOLIVIA: The Bolivian Congress has approved sweeping legislation expanding the rights of transgender citizens. According to TeleSur, the law grants transgender people “the right to change their name, their gender, and their photo in their government documentation in order to reflect the gender they identify with.” More here.
- WATCH: Thousands march for LGBT rights in the Peruvian capital of Lima during its third Equality march.
TRANSGENDER VISIBILITY WINS AT THE BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS: Pop star Demi Lovato, who had previously canceled her shows in North Carolina over the state’s discriminatory HB2 law, took another stand for transgender rights during Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards. The singer performed her “Cool for the Summer” hit while wearing a shirt that featured an inclusive bathroom symbol. More from The Huffington Post.
MAKING TEXAS GAY AGAIN?: Apparently most Texans are gay…. at least according to the Texas GOP’s grammatically flawed and anti-LGBT party platform. More from The Advocate.
The New York Times takes a closer look at new legislation in Oklahoma attacking transgender students… The Washington Blade breaks down Trump’s anti-LGBT judicial choices… AL.com explores where Alabama stands in the “transgender bathroom debate”... The Daily Record makes an argument for federal action on transgender equality… and NBC DFW spotlights a new LGBT center in Dallas, noting that the state’s anti-LGBT Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was invited to the opening.