RICK SANTORUM’S LATEST TORTURED ANALOGY: Right Wing Watch catches Rick Santorum test driving a new anti-LGBT line on the campaign trail. Santorum told Iowa radio host Simon Conway that allowing states to expand marriage to same-sex couples is like saying “the states have the right to redefine the chemical equation for water, it can be H3O instead of H2O.” Santorum went on to say, “nature dictates what water is, nature dictates what marriage is, and the states don’t have the right to violate what nature has dictated.” Santorum’s remarks serve as a reminder that he is more extreme than traditional opponents of marriage equality who couch their anti-LGBT rhetoric as “states rights.” More here: http://bit.ly/1PSh1FB
WAPO WARNS OF ONSLAUGHT OF ANTI-LGBT LEGISLATION: Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post takes an in-depth look at the upcoming state battles ahead for LGBT equality, as lawmakers have introduced or pre-filed dozens of harmful anti-equality bills in state legislatures around the country. Last week, HRC released a preview of upcoming state and local legislative battles in 2016. More than two dozen state legislatures are expected to consider anti-equality measures in the coming year, but many will also have the opportunity to advance LGBT equality. More here: wapo.st/1VTsIOH
IF YOU READ ONE STORY ON TRANSGENDER EMPLOYEES: Make it this one, by Chicago Tribune reporter Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz. Telling the real workplace challenges of people including social worker Josie Lynne Paul and Hobby Lobby frame shop manager Meggan Sommerville, Elejalde-Ruiz lays out a powerful story of employees facing isolation and discrimination even in states like Illinois, where laws protect against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. HRC President Chad Griffin tweeted that the story is a “great read” on the challenges trans employees face, and how employers can help. The story provides advice from Deena Fidas, who heads the HRC Foundation’s workplace equality program. "One of the biggest but well-intentioned mistakes is to be overly reliant on the one employee for education and guidance," Fidas said. As the author notes, some transgender employees may want to take an active role in educating their colleagues, while others may prefer to transition out of the spotlight. More here (paywall): http://trib.in/1PSi2xr
GOLDEN GLOBES RECAP: It's been a historic year for LGBT visibility and storytelling in Hollywood and the 73rd annual Golden Globes gave the LGBT and allied communities many reasons to celebrate. LGBT-centric TV shows and movies including Carol, The Danish Girl, Transparent, and Grace and Frankie were honored in several categories, while openly LGBT actors Lily Tomlin and Alan Cummings were nominated, along with allies Mark Ruffalo, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Bryan Cranston, for their film and television roles. Congratulations to Lady Gaga and Sam Smith on their first wins!
IN DEFENSE OF TRANS YOUTH: An offensive Wall Street Journal op-ed by Debra W. Soh created backlash over her attempt to discredit efforts used by medical professionals to support transgender children. In a letter to the editor today in the WSJ, HRC Foundation’s Jay Brown calls out the author’s flawed research and analysis, and explains the difference between being transgender and expressing gender diversely, writing, “What’s really happening here is that doctors and parents are finally supporting our lives, even the youngest among us. To do otherwise dangerously denies transgender children their very humanity—and their safety and well-being.” Read his response here (paywall): on.wsj.com/1OmoKJo
BIRMINGHAM NEWS BLASTS ROY MOORE: In a scathing editorial appropriately entitled, “Roy Moore is Delusional About Roy Moore,” the Birmingham News took Alabama’s Chief Justice to task for his clear lack of understanding of how the American legal system works. The board captures what we’re all thinking with one simple sentence: “It is time Roy Moore realized that he is wrong.” Despite the order, the majority of Alabama counties are upholding the rule of law and issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moore doesn’t have a leg to stand on, and if he continues to refuse to follow the law, he should be removed from office. Read the editorial here: bit.ly/1VZDAKW
MEMPHIS BAPTIST CHURCH AFFIRMS MARRIAGE EQUALITY SUPPORT: The historic First Baptist Church of Memphis continued its journey toward full LGBT inclusion when its congregation voted Sunday to allow LGBT people to marry and be ordained in the church. The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal reports that the church in 2001 baptized an openly-gay man, and two years ago voted overwhelmingly to ordain its first LGBT deacons. The 175-year-old congregation was among the first historically Southern Baptist churches “to welcome African Americans in the 1970s,” the newspaper reports. Said David Richardson, deacon board president and fourth generation church member: “This isn’t a vote about the kind of church we want to be in the future, it’s a vote about who we are now.” More here: http://bit.ly/1OdRM05
GOV. PENCE OFF THE FENCE?: Indiana Governor Mike Pence hinted to reporters last week that he could finally announce his stance on anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community during Tuesday’s State of the State address. You may remember when Governor Pence sparked national backlash after signing Indiana’s discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act last year. So far in this legislative session, Indiana lawmakers have introduced a sexual orientation-only non-discrimination bill that fails to protect transgender Hoosiers, and has extensive and harmful religious exemptions. Another Republican bill proposes to override local LGBT-rights ordinances. And yet another bill considers abolishing all marriage licenses in the state in a weak attempt to undermine the U.S. Supreme Court. Local efforts supporting full protections are strong, as 150 Indiana businesses have called for LGBT equality legislation. More here: bit.ly/1P3lphZ
ANTI-LGBT BILLS INTRODUCED IN VIRGINIA: According to the Washington Blade, state lawmakers in Virginia have introduced three harmful bills that would limit the rights of LGBT Virginians. Delegate Dave LaRock’s (R-Loudoun County) bill would make it practically impossible for transgender people to change the listed sex on their birth certificates, while Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County) has introduced two bills, one of which directly challenges rulings by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on sex discrimination. Marshall’s legislation seeks to prevent local municipalities from enacting their own non-discrimination ordinances to protect LGBT residents and citizens, and prohibit the state from considering sexual orientation discrimination as sex discrimination. Last year, the EEOC released a decision clarifying that workers are protected under Title VII from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and just last week, the commission filed an amicus brief in a case arguing that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, which is in violation of Title VII. More here: bit.ly/22Vm2EH and bit.ly/1mQkJFP
BILLS THAT WILL ALLOW ALASKANS TO OPT-OUT OF PROVIDING MARRIAGE SERVICES PRE-FILED IN BOTH CHAMBERS: In addition to Virginia, it looks like state officials in Alaska also have their eye on attacking LGBT rights this legislative session. Senator Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) and Representative Dave Talerico (R-Healy) have each introduced bills that will give Alaskans the right to deny couples who apply for marriage licenses “services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges” related to the celebration of their marriage. According to Alaska Commons, this opt-out would also be applied to cases of age, disability, national origin and race. Alaska is one of 31 states that lack explicit and inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBT people at the state level. Opponents have been trying to overturn a non-discrimination ordinance that was passed in Anchorage last September, but there is currently a dispute over the ballot language that has been proposed. More here: bit.ly/1S9Jr1g
ARGUS LEADER CALLS FOR STRONGER LGBT PROTECTION IN SIOUX FALLS: The Argus Leader has written an editorial calling for Sioux Falls, South Dakota to adopt more LGBT-friendly laws and policies following its 28 rating on HRC’s 2015 Municipal Equality Index (MEI). The MEI is an annual report that examines municipalities’ laws, policies, and services and rates them on the basis of their inclusivity of LGBT people who live and work there. The board writes, “The city of Sioux Falls should address the policy deficiencies pointed out by the Human Rights Campaign. Specifically, the mayor and City Council should consider non-discrimination laws for private employment, housing and public accommodations. We should provide protections for transgender city employees and open communication between city departments and the LGBT community.” Read the editorial here: argusne.ws/1IYLX7C
AROUND THE WORLD
CATHOLIC OFFICIALS ATTACK U.S. AMBASSADOR FOR BEING GAY: A letter published in a Dominican Republic newspaper this week attacked U.S. Ambassador James “Wally” Brewster because he is gay. The letter, as reported in the Washington Blade, is signed by high ranking members of the Catholic Church and a number of well-known private citizens, and insults the Ambassador by calling on the Dominican government to declare the U.S. diplomat “persona non-grata.” The U.S. State Department has criticized the letter, saying, “We disagree in the strongest of terms with these characterizations of Ambassador Brewster and our foreign policy.” This latest attack is part of a long-running campaign by high-ranking Catholic clergy against the appointment of Ambassador Brewster, and comes on the heels of two recent blasts from Cardinal López. In response to those attacks, HRC President Chad Griffin called on Pope Francis to condemn Cardinal López's anti-LGBT slurs and demonstrate that the Catholic Church does not tolerate such hate and bigotry. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has also called on Pope Francis to intervene and to speak out against Cardinal López's statements, saying they are out of step with the Church's teachings. To date there has been no response from the Vatican, and HRC continues to call on its more than 1.5 million members and supporters to condemn this anti-LGBT bigotry. More here: http://bit.ly/1TPwes3
POPE FRANCIS EXPANDS ON GAY PRIESTS COMMENT: Pope Francis triggered hope for a more LGBT-inclusive Catholic Church back in 2013 when he said about gay priests: “Who am I to judge if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?” Now, in a new book by an Italian journalist, the pontiff repeats his remark, and says that he’s simply “paraphrasing the catechism of the Catholic Church. where it says the these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalized.” People, he says in The Name of God is Mercy, “should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies; let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love.” While the Pope’s comments may constitute a shift in tone from his predecessors, the Catholic Church maintains its anti-LGBT language, as do many of its leaders, including U.S. Catholic bishops, despite HRC polling showing that an overwhelming majority of Catholic voters support LGBT inclusion - from marriage equality, to non-discrimination measures.
ThinkProgress interviews two survivors and plaintiffs of the lawsuit that shut down the Jewish “conversion therapy” program JONAH… The Columbus Dispatch describes a history of Ohioan hate crimes and what legislators are and aren’t doing to address it… Aljazeera explores the traditional Hawaiian gender role called mahu… The Twin Cities Pioneer Press shares a local story of a five-year-old gender nonconforming child in public schools… and The Olympian interviews the mother of an LGBT servicemember who created a support group for military families.