LAST NIGHT IN IOWA: CHRIS CHRISTIE ON KIM DAVIS: The Washington Blade digs in on Chris Christie, who was asked whether he stood by his comments suggesting Kim Davis needed to carry out her job and serve the public equally. “The New Jersey governor clarified he doesn’t object to Davis opting out of giving marriage licenses, as long as someone in her office can do the job.” Read more from the Blade, including how Christie linked the question to….ISIS? http://bit.ly/1KfiXsE
HRC POLLING: PUBLIC OPPOSES KIM DAVIS-LIKE DISCRIMINATION: From Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for HRC: A bipartisan 68 majority percent oppose allowing government employees like Kim Davis being able to deny service for religious reasons. Republicans opposed allowing government employees to discriminate 50 percent to 41 percent.
COULD SEXUAL ORIENTATION DISCRIMINATION BE COVERED BY THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT?: The Department of Justice took a big step yesterday as they chose to answer a complaint in a way that acknowledges that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a type of sex discrimination barred under existing civil rights law. The complaint, filed by David Baldwin against the Federal Aviation Administration, alleges that Baldwin faced discrimination because of his sexual orientation. By responding to the complaint, rather than dismissing it, the case will move forward with litigation, opening the doors to additional interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC has already issued a decision in Baldwin’s favor. Both the EEOC and DOJ have taken the position that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is covered by the sex discrimination ban in Title VII, and this is a next step for protecting LGBT Americans from discrimination. More here: bzfd.it/1P1MHWR
MOMS FOR TRANSGENDER EQUALITY: CONGRESSWOMAN ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, has long been an outspoken advocate on Capitol Hill for LGBT equality--from her early support for lifting the ban on openly-LGB Americans serving in the military, to advocating for non-discrimination and anti-bullying measures. For her, LGBT equality is personal. In an HRC video released today, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, speaks movingly as a mother of her transgender son, Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen. “Every child is precious. God has formed that child,” she says. “Support is so important.” But Ros-Lehtinen also talks about the reality of having a transgender child and the fear of discrimination, saying “We can’t sugar coat it and pretend violence doesn’t exist.” Unfortunately, facts back up Ros-Lehtinen’s concerns. Too many LGBTQ young people lack crucial support from their families, and instead are rejected, leaving them at risk for homelessness, substance abuse, depression, and suicide. Ros-Lehtinen is also part of a new bipartisan Congressional task force dedicated to transgender equality. She previously spoke out on her support for Rodrigo in an interview with Telemundo last year, where she shared her family’s journey. Watch here: http://bit.ly/23xNnwN
LGBT-INCLUSIVE HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION PROPOSED IN UTAH: Republican State Sen. Steve Urquhart has introduced legislation that would implement stricter penalties for crimes committed against people or their property that are motivated by a perception of that person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, race, gender, disability and other protected characteristics. According to the Associated Press, the number of hate crimes committed would be closely tracked under this law, and “prosecutors would have to prove an offender committed the crime because they believed the victim was gay or transgender. It wouldn't matter if the victim actually was gay or transgender.” Utah is one of fifteen states that do not currently have hate crimes laws that protect LGBT people. More here: bit.ly/1nT4Xed
INDIANA CITIES BEING SUED OVER LGBT-INCLUSIVE NON-DISCRIMINATION ORDINANCES: The cities of Bloomington and Columbus in Indiana have been added to a lawsuit brought by anti-LGBT conservative groups, Indiana Family Institute, Indiana Family Action, and The American Family Association of Indiana, challenging the cities’ human rights ordinances which are LGBT inclusive, and allow for limited religious freedom exemptions. The groups bizarrely claim that because of the cities’ ordinances, they would not be able to freely express their religious beliefs which entails hosting marriage enrichment events that are critical of same-sex relationships and families. Carmel and Indianapolis-Marion County have also been named in the lawsuit which was initially filed late last year. More here: bit.ly/1JLznsO and bit.ly/1KK5EeL
MONSANTO COMES OUT IN SUPPORT OF LGBT PROTECTIONS: Monsanto, an agricultural company based in St. Louis, is asking Missouri lawmakers to protect its LGBT workers. The company, which scored perfectly on the most recent HRC Corporate Equality Index, is pushing for state lawmakers to pass a bill banning LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, financial assistance and public accommodations. While Monsanto feels adding these protections will bring better business and job candidates to the state, other groups, like Associated Industries of Missouri and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, oppose the common-sense legislation, which was proposed by Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny of St. Louis, and backed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. More here: on.ksdk.com/1P0I3s5 and cbsloc.al/1JJwWXK
WASHINGTON GOP TRIES TO BAN GAY PRIDE FLAGS ON FERRIES: The Tri-City Herald reports on Republican lawmakers latest sad attempt to undermine LGBT progress. State Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, has introduced legislation that would prevent state ferries from flying flags other than the U.S. flag, the Washington State flag and maritime flags. Though most flags are being banned, Klippert specifically singled out the gay pride flag saying, “I have no problem with the Seahawks flag. People across all policy beliefs support our Seahawks, but that is not true for gay pride flags.” The move comes in response to the pride flag being flown on two ferries in the state during the Supreme Court’s historic ruling last June. Klippert is no friend of the LGBT community, and is currently co-sponsoring legislation that would prohibit transgender people from using facilities that correspond with their gender identity. More here: bit.ly/1nCHn5C and bit.ly/1NFocwG
AROUND THE WORLD
AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS POPULAR VOTE WILL DECIDE MARRIAGE EQUALITY: In a radio interview earlier today, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised that the government would legalize same-sex marriage if the majority of Australians support it in a popular vote. A plebiscite has been proposed, but unlike a referendum, it is non-binding and cannot actually change the law, despite reports that it is estimated to cost an unbelievable $160 million. Many are arguing that with 72 percent of the public in favor of marriage equality, the issue should be voted on freely in parliament. More here: strib.mn/1OUaLx5
ONE STEP FORWARD, AFTER ONE STEP BACK: Next week, the Indian Supreme Court will consider reversing its decision on the infamous Section 377. Section 377, which criminalizes same-sex relations between adults, was found “unconstitutional” in a landmark ruling in 2009 by the Delhi High Court. In a cruel twist, the Supreme Court overruled that decision in December 2013, making consensual same-sex relations again a criminal act punishable with up to a life sentence. With a population of over 1.25 billion, India is the world’s largest nation that criminalizes LGBT people. All eyes are on the Supreme Court, which will hopefully stand on the side of equality. More here: bzfd.it/1PWm6u3
TWO-THIRDS OF GERMANS READY TO SAY ‘I DO’ TO MARRIAGE EQUALITY: According to a new poll, the majority of Germans are ready for same-sex marriage to be the law of the land, which has many asking, “so, what’s the hold up?” Even with Angela Merkel’s conservative party in power, support for marriage equality is over 60 percent. Germany is currently one of the few countries in Western Europe without marriage rights for same-sex couples. How do you say “it’s time” in German? More here: bit.ly/1lXWCEF and bit.ly/1nqKxsv
The Washington Post meets the couple behind China’s first gay marriage case… ThinkProgress breaks down Oklahoma’s record-breaking number of anti-LGBT bills… BuzzFeed explores the religious backlash against new LGBT school rules in Alberta, Canada… And in an op-ed for the Charlotte Observer, the co-chairs of Charlotte Pride show why anti-LGBT discrimination is bad for business.