WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED DURING MARCO’S MELTDOWN While much ink has been devoted to Marco Rubio’s meltdown in the GOP debate in NH on Saturday, it’s important to note that Rubio was just as consistent when it comes to his opposition to LGBT equality, repeating his frequently used line that opposing marriage equality shouldn't “make you a bigot or a hater,” according to media reports. Later in the debate, Rubio doubled down and defended religious discrimination. Rubio has a deplorable record on LGBT equality, and he’s a co-sponsor of the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) which would enable Kim Davis-like discrimination in the federal government. More here on the dangers of FADA: http://www.hrc.org/resources/first-amendment-defense-act
DONALD TRUMP ON BOTH SIDES OF ANOTHER ISSUE: LGBT EQUALITY In the wake of an interview with a local New Hampshire station where Donald Trump promised “forward motion” on LGBT issues, ABC’s George Stephanopolous asked Donald Trump about LGBT issues and unsurprisingly, Trump refused to say he would defend nationwide marriage equality, even when given multiple chances. Instead, he gave Stephanopolous the runaround, saying that he plans to appoint conservative judges who he hopes with overturn Obergefell, all while bizarrely vowing to “bring people together.” Memo to Trump: despite your opposition, the majority of Americans support marriage equality and with statements like these you’re only “unifying” people in feeling bigotry. More on his record here: http://www.hrc.org/2016RepublicanFacts/donald-trump
2016 STATE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: 41 IN SESSION, WYOMING CONVENES THIS WEEK: As we mark the sixth week of the 2016 legislative session, 41 state legislatures are currently in session, with Wyoming coming on board this week for a budget session. In 2015, Wyoming’s first-ever comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance was passed in Laramie. Currently, the state of Wyoming does not prohibit discrimination in housing, employment or public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. More than 115 anti-LGBT bills were introduced in 2015, many of which have been held over to 2016. HRC is currently tracking 150 anti-LGBT bills in 31 states. The types of legislation vary from targeting the rights of transgender people, to eliminating local non-discrimination protections, to explicitly authorizing anti-LGBT discrimination by individuals, businesses and even taxpayer-funded agencies. To learn more about what’s ahead for equality in your backyard, visit HRC’s “Preview 2016: Pro-Equality and Anti-LGBT State and Local Legislation.”
CAMPAIGN DISPATCH: CLINTON VOWS TO FIGHT FOR EQUALITY ACT & ADDRESS VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT: Speaking to college students in New Hampshire over the weekend, Clinton vowed to fight for the Equality Act, calling it a top priority. She promised students she would take action ending violence against the transgender community, addressing bullying and suicide. And she asked voters to look at her record as Secretary of State, where she fought to advance LGBT equality as a human rights issue worldwide. Watch here: http://on.fb.me/20FaKWl
AT HRC EVENT, NY GOV. CUOMO ANNOUNCES HISTORIC ACTION PROTECTING LGBTQ YOUTH FROM “CONVERSION THERAPY”: In a speech accepting HRC’s National Equality Award on Saturday night in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo officially announced that he will use executive authority to take historic action protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” Cuomo is the first governor to use executive authority to ban the practice, and under his direction, three state agencies will take separate actions: The New York State Department of Financial Services will issue regulations prohibiting insurance providers from covering conversion therapy on patients under the age of 18. The New York State Office of Mental Health will prohibit mental health providers from using conversion therapy on youth under the age of 18, and violations of these important protections will result in revocation of licenses. And the New York State Department of Health will also take separate action to declare the abusive practice is not covered by the New York State Medicaid plan since it is never medically necessary care. Six other jurisdictions have taken legislative action to end this dangerous practice on minors: California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. More here: http://nyti.ms/20F2Nk0
OP-ED: VA ANTI-LGBT “BILLS WILL TAKE US BACKWARD AS A STATE”: Check out this op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch by HRC Foundation’s Jay Brown who takes on the host of anti-LGBT bills up for consideration in the Virginia State Legislature. Brown, an openly transgender man, writes, “If enacted, these bills will take us backward as a state. I grew up in Virginia and graduated from James Madison University. My parents and extended family still live in Virginia. I hike in the Shenandoah Valley, run races in Richmond, and just got back from a vacation in Massanutten. I love Virginia. Someday I hope to move back. But frankly, I don’t feel all that safe in Virginia. And my wife and I are determined to raise our kids in a state that welcomes us and welcomes all its people.” Just last week, 2 of those bills advanced out of a Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee. One would make it illegal for transgender people, including students, to use restrooms and facilities that correspond with their gender identity, while the other would prohibit public entities -- including cities, counties, and school districts -- from enacting their own non-discrimination ordinances or policies protecting LGBT residents and citizens. These bills come on the heels of several school districts in Virginia adopting non-discrimination policies that include gender identity. The attacks on fairness and equality in Virginia are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed in 2016 by anti-equality activists around the country. For more information, check out www.hrc.org/2016legislature and read the full op-ed here: http://bit.ly/1SE8XfN
LGBT-INCLUSIVE HATE CRIMES BILL INTRODUCED IN INDIANA: In the wake of a failed push to extend non-discrimination protections to Indiana’s LGBT community, lawmakers have authored a bipartisan bill that would give judges the option of imposing stiffer sentences for crimes that are committed with the intent to harm of intimidate a person before of their "perceived or actual race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry or sexual orientation." Despite previous attempts to pass hate crimes legislation, the measure has passed the Senate and is now headed to the House for a vote. With so much at stake, even the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, which historically has not weighed in on criminal issues, testified in support of the bill. More here: http://indy.st/1Q3k2jJ and here: http://sfchron.cl/1SZzAtS
TODAY, FLORIDA LAWMAKERS TO CONSIDER LGBT NON-DISCRIMINATION BILL: Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, legislation that would update the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, housing and employment. The bill has bipartisan support, with Senator Jack Latvala and Senator Travis Hutson serving as co-sponsors, and tremendous backing from the business community, including companies such as AT&T, Wells Fargo, Marriott and Carnival Corporation. Florida is one of 33 states nationwide that lack explicit and fully inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBT people at the state level. This reality underscores the need for the Equality Act, federal legislation that would guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBT people from discrimination. The hearing, which was previously postponed, is the first on an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination bill in either chamber of the Florida legislature. More here: http://bit.ly/20R6iQT Also check out this op-ed from co-founder and CEO of Equality Florida, Nadine Smith who lays out the business case for LGBT inclusion in the Sunshine State.
TEXAS TO OFFER HORMONE THERAPY FOR TRANSGENDER INMATES: A new policy by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will allow transgender prisoners who have not started hormone therapy prior to incarceration to begin the process for the first time behind bars. Despite this positive step, the process by which officials review whether inmates are transgender is very long and complicated, meaning that those who eventually qualify sometimes have to wait months or years before receiving the treatment they need. Demoya Gordon of Lambda Legal said, “We’re hearing from people that, for example, if they’re not close to the point where they’re going to try to perform surgery on themselves, or commit suicide or something like that, that their needs for treatment are not being taken seriously. Texas seems to have, I don’t know, some sort of vested interest in not being seen as respecting the constitutional rights of transgender people.” More here: http://bit.ly/1Q3kezk and here: http://bit.ly/1PwKDqa
ALABAMA REVIEWING POLICY FOR TRANSGENDER STUDENTS: Officials with the Alabama Association of School Boards have spent the past several weeks reviewing legal issues regarding the use of bathroom facilities by transgender students. As per usual, the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel has already inserted themselves into the conversation by asking officials to reject proposals that “normalize homosexuality and cross-dressing, and should scrutinize radical advocacy originating from (the federal government) or other sources before changing or enacting local school board policy on these issues.” Note: this is an organization that has been classified a hate-group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Following the U.S. Department of Education’s ruling that an Illinois school district broke anti-discrimination laws by refusing to grant a transgender student who identifies as female access to the appropriate restroom, education officials in Alabama decided to take on the issue which also addresses gender pronouns, dress codes, equal protections at social functions and participation in sports. More here: http://bit.ly/1UY6CK5
HEY, HATERS, LEAVE THE KIDS ALONE: Equality opponents in Franklin County, Tenn., have settled on their latest target: high school students who organized a Gay-Straight Alliance to foster communication and understanding, and to “provide a safe environment for students to get together and just talk,” according to Franklin County Schools Director Amie Lonas. Opponents of the group, officially approved by the Franklin County High School in December, are using social media to pressure the local school board to bar the alliance from meeting on school grounds. The federal Equal Access Act requires schools to allow student LGBT and Allies groups to meet if the school allows other social clubs to meet. Some school alums are helping to organize a pro-LGBT rally before the school board’s next meeting, at which members are expected to hear from both sides. More here: http://bit.ly/1Q55gzl
AROUND THE WORLD
INDIA SHOWS ITS PRIDE: In a colorful display this past weekend, thousands came out to march in Mumbai’s annual LGBT pride parade. Activists and actors spoke on the importance of acceptance while attendees marched to drums and celebrated in the streets. With the Indian Supreme Court reconsidering its 2013 decision to re-criminalize consensual adult same-sex sexual acts, hopefully the huge display support for the LGBT community will help move the needle in favor of equality. More here: http://bit.ly/1PgVhDi
Los Angeles Times explores the weird world of Ted Cruz’s “celebrity” endorsements… The Daily Beast looks at the ways gender diversity improves LGBT-support in businesses… The Argus Leader explains how South Dakota has become the battleground for transgender issues… The Washington Blade showcases how Hillary Clinton continues to champion LGBT equality on the campaign trail… WVVA chronicles locals’ reactions to a new ordinance passed in Lewisburg, WV… Care2 takes a deep dive into the anti-LGBT rhetoric overtaking the presidential campaign… The Huffington Post share five companies that are going above and beyond to support the LGBT community… Bustle breaks down the pro-equality message in last night’s Super Bowl and...The Kansas City Star takes on Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador, who introduced the discriminatory First Amendment Defense Act in Congress.