MAJOR CHILD WELFARE ORGS URGE ALL GOVERNORS--LOOKING AT YOU, SOUTH DAKOTA’S DENNIS DAUGAARD--TO REJECT ATTACKS ON TRANS KIDS: As South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard faces a decision on whether to veto HB 1008 – outrageous legislation that would prevent transgender students in public schools from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity – seven national health, education, and child advocacy groups have released a letter calling on Daugaard and other governors across the nation to reject the alarming and discriminatory bills being promoted in state legislatures targeting transgender children and their fundamental rights. In the open letter, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Social Workers, and the National Education Association all express their grave concerns and objections to the flurry of bills attacking one of our nation’s most vulnerable youth populations. The letter reads in part: “All of our nation’s children deserve equal protections and treatment in their classrooms; these anti-transgender bills foster discrimination and do harm to students, their families, and their communities….We stand in opposition to these shameful bills, and, on behalf of our members and communities, call on governors across the country to reject these harmful measures if they reach their desks...Every student deserves equal access to education, academic success, and a future in which they are empowered to fulfill their true potential, and these laws contravene that fundamental principle, which has long guided our nation’s education policy.” Read the full letter here: bit.ly/1KuD1ro
DANGEROUS LEGISLATION ENABLING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LGBT COUPLES ON VERGE OF ADVANCING IN GEORGIA: Today, the Georgia Senate is set to vote on a reckless and irresponsible piece of legislation that will enable discrimination against LGBT couples, single parents, and unmarried couples. While falsely framed as prohibiting the state government from making funding or tax status decision based on an organization's views on marriage that are driven by a religious belief, the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act” actually opens the door to discrimination. State-contracted counselors could refuse to provide services to single mothers. Taxpayer funded adoption and foster care agencies could refuse to place children in desperate need of loving and caring homes with LGBT couples. State-funded homeless shelters could turn away unwed couples and their families. Government employees could refuse to file tax forms for same-sex couples or provide state benefits to single mothers . HRC and Georgia Equality are calling on Senate and House leadership, as well as Gov. Nathan Deal to put a stop to this bill, and listen to the business and religious community leaders who’ve called this an unacceptable attack on LGBT people.
HILLARY CLINTON VOWS TO PROTECT MARRIAGE EQUALITY AND PASS EQUALITY ACT DURING LAST NIGHT’S TOWN HALL: During last night’s Democratic Town Hall in Las Vegas, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated her commitment to advancing LGBT equality if elected president, and vowed to protect marriage equality and pass the Equality Act. She also vowed to work to bring LGBT equality to countries abroad, highlighting her experience as former Secretary of State. “I also raised gay rights,” Secretary Clinton said. “I went to Geneva and I made a speech about how gay rights are human rights because the people who are often the most oppressed and mistreated right now in a lot of countries are LGBT.” The Town Hall, sponsored by MSNBC and Telemundo, is in advance of the Democratic Party’s Nevada Caucus, happening tomorrow. More here: bit.ly/1Uc7Inj, Watch here: bit.ly/1Vs3gPM. Read a transcript of the Town Hall here: nbcnews.to/1Oiyfbj
DONALD TRUMP DOUBLES DOWN ON ANTI-LGBT POSITIONS: Just ahead of Saturday’s Democrats’ Nevada Caucus and the GOP’s South Carolina primary, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is leaving no doubt that his anti-LGBT rhetoric on the campaign trail is no accident. In an interview this week with CBN’s David Brody, Trump said that evangelical voters can “trust” him to oppose marriage equality, and expressed how gosh-darn shocking it was that the highest Court in the land would affirm the constitutional right of loving and committed same-sex couples to marry. For those keeping track, in recent months Trump has told Fox News Sunday he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would reverse nationwide marriage equality; agreed to support the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act,” which would lead to more Kim Davis-like discrimination across the country; and refused to say if he would defend marriage equality when repeatedly asked for clarification by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. With 55 percent of voters saying they are less likely to support a candidate for president who opposes allowing same-sex couples to marry, we wonder if the Donald will realize that this is not a winning strategy. More on Trump’s record here: hrc.org/2016RepublicanFacts
LGBT AGING ISSUES TASK FORCE LAUNCHED IN U.S. HOUSE: Yesterday, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus launched a new task force devoted to addressing issues facing the elderly in the LGBT community. Chaired by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), the LGBT Aging Issues Task Force will advocate for legal and administrative action on behalf of LGBT elders, including the challenges that come with being forced back into the closet because of fear of harassment or prejudice from healthcare or housing providers. More from the Washington Blade here:bit.ly/1Tqi5TW
YOUTUBER AND LGBTQ ADVOCATE BRENDAN JORDAN OPENS UP ABOUT TRANS IDENTITY: At the third annual Time to THRIVE Conference, hosted in Dallas, Tex. by the HRC Foundation, Youtuber Brendan Jordan made a big statement, coming out as a member of the trans community. In doing so, he explained his personal experience with gender fluidity, saying “I can’t really label it, because, you know, some days, my more feminine side comes out – the ‘she.’ Some other days I don’t feel like putting on my fabulous mask, and the ‘he’ comes out, and I’m totally OK with that.” Jordan made his way into the spotlight after a video of him voguing in the background of a local news broadcast went viral online. He has since used his platform to advocate for LGBTQ rights, especially when it comes to the transgender community, including the nonbinary and genderqueer communities. We’re proud of you, Brendan! Thank you for living your most authentic life, and continue your inspiring work for the trans community and LGBTQ youth. More here: bit.ly/1OjAJGi and bit.ly/1osziAg
GO HOME MANNY: We’ve avoided talking about Manny Pacquiao, but had to make sure everyone saw the news. Earlier this week, Nike dropped the renowned boxer from its endorsement roster following his discriminatory comments against same-sex marriage on a Filipino television station. After public outrage, Pacquiao issued a weak apology on Twitter and Instagram, but reiterated his stance against same-sex marriage. Shortly after he was dropped from Nike, he posted a Bible verse that condones the death penalty for homosexual acts. Of course, the post has since been deleted from his account, but Nike’s the real champion here for addressing the matter so quickly. Endorsements of celebrities like Pacquiao – who is the Philippines’ most popular professional athlete and celebrity -- prop these individuals up as important role models for youth. Allowing an endorsee to make such derogatory, homophobic comments unchecked sends a dangerous message to LGBTQ youth. “Nike has been an industry leader for LGBT equality, earning top marks on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for over a decade. Nike’s step is in line with their long commitment to equality – a commitment that is truly walking the walk. Quite simply, homophobic or anti-LGBT remarks have no place in a successful business or its spokespeople.” More here: usat.ly/1QLUpoh
OUTRAGEOUS “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY ACCOMMODATIONS ACT” ADVANCES IN MISSISSIPPI: Today, the Mississippi House advanced H.B. 1523, the “Religious Liberty Accommodations Act.” One of twelve anti-LGBT bills currently under consideration in Mississippi, this horrific piece of legislation would allow individuals, religious organizations and private associations to use religion to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians, in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at schools, in their family life and more. Under H.B. 1523, faith-based organizations, including hospitals, could refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples; deny children in need of loving homes with LGBT families; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person -- even if the organization receives government funding. As introduced, it would also give foster families the freedom to submit an LGBTQ child to the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy,” and shame a pregnant unwed girl, without fear of government intervention or license suspension. Furthermore, schools, employers and service providers could implement sex-specific dress and grooming standards such as requiring all women to wear high heels, as well as refuse transgender people access to the appropriate sex-segregated facilities,consistent with their gender identity. H.B. 1523 even legalizes Kim Davis-style discrimination by allowing government employees to abdicate their duties and refuse to license or solemnize marriages for LGBT people. The Senate is set to vote next, and we call on them to reject this vile piece of legislation. More here: bit.ly/1QqdDzm and here: on.thec-l.com/1oxackt
SOUTH DAKOTAN TRANS TEEN SPEAKS OUT AGAINST BATHROOM RULE IN HIS SCHOOL: Imagine feeling so unsafe to use your school’s bathroom that you’d rather go all the way back to your house. That’s what one South Dakota trans teen has to do every single day. Thomas Lewis has long-felt the effects of his school and state’s inability to follow federal law; his school does not allow him to use the bathroom in accordance with his gender identity. Instead, he waits until his lunch break, goes all the way back to his home, and uses the bathroom there before returning to school. This egregious (and illegal!) treatment is already terrifying, but becomes more so now that South Dakota is one signature away from a law that would require every school to force similar measures on their transgender student population. More here: abcn.ws/1oJUySC
UNBELIEVABLE: INDIANA LAWMAKERS FAIL LGBT HOOSIERS AGAIN: Yesterday, in yet another slap in the face to LGBT Hoosiers, the Indiana House rejected an amendment that would have granted protection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. With their ongoing failure to address the need for real non-discrimination protections in employment, housing, and public services, lawmakers are without a doubt ignoring the damage caused to Indiana’s economy by last year’s RFRA fight. A recent survey from Visit Indy revealed that Indiana lost at least $60 million in convention-related revenue alone because of the discriminatory law. Businesses remain deeply concerned about how the lawmakers’ lack of action will impact their ability to recruit talented employees and sell the state as an attractive place to live. According to WISH-TV, after the vote, “Indiana Competes, a coalition of business leaders, issued a statement calling the vote a declaration that Indiana will continue to tolerate discrimination against the LGBT community.” Ultimately a comprehensive bill that protects LGBT people in employment, housing and public services is the only acceptable alternative. More on this sad development here: bit.ly/1PKRgqZ
“SEPARATE BUT EQUAL” IN KENTUCKY: Instead of advancing equality for all Kentuckians, lawmakers in the state have decided to take the “separate but equal” route. Just a day after legislation that would add statewide LGBT protections was withdrawn, Kentucky’s State Senate advanced a bill that would create different marriage license forms for opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples. The ridiculous bill, which is sponsored by Republican State Sen. Stephen West, removes the name of the county clerk from the license and would note either “bride” and “groom” or “first party” and “second party.” The ACLU of Kentucky has already sounded the alarm saying this was “setting a dangerous slippery slope precedent by catering to one specific religious belief and privileging that over others….Separate forms for gay and lesbian Kentuckians constitute unequal treatment under the law.” The bill now moves to the Kentucky House for debate. More here: bit.ly/1QoHrm9
CHARLOTTE MAYOR & MAJOR COMPANIES SUPPORT LOCAL LGBT PROTECTIONS: Charlotte, N.C. Mayor Jennifer Roberts has once again spoken out in support of an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance, despite backlash from the North Carolina General Assembly. The General Assembly has threatened to pass a law disallowing cities from creating nondiscrimination ordinances that are more-inclusive than the state nondiscrimination bill--which could harm all LGBT North Carolinians and LGBT visitors of the state.Watch Mayor Roberts here: bit.ly/1KsVox1
AROUND THE WORLD
GREENS ON THE MARRIAGE MARCH IN GERMANY: Yesterday, members of the German Parliament spoke out about finally voting on a bill to expand marriage equality in the country. Green Party Leader MP Renate Künast spoke out in support of marriage equality, saying “there is no second-class love” and “there is enough marriage for everyone.” Künast has supported German marriage equality for over 15 years, when Germany began allowing civil partnerships for same-sex couples. A bill supporting marriage equality has been on the floor of the parliament for two years now without a vote. More here: bit.ly/1orsC5p
KARMIC BOOMERANG (SEE WHAT WE DID THERE?) HITS ANTI-EQUALITY EXTREMISTS: When the folks at Australia’s STOP Safe Schools Coalition (yes, actually its name) learned about an online fundraiser providing tickets for kids who can’t afford admission to an annual LGBTQ teen dance in Melbourne, they came up with what they thought was a brilliant plan to sabotage the event: buy up all the tickets so there wouldn’t be any left for teens wanting to attend and celebrate in a safe space. “The more tickets sold to us,” the anti-LGBTQ group wrote in a Facebook post, “the more youth we protect.” But the bozos failed to grasp that the crowdfunded donations didn’t actually buy them a ticket; the money goes directly to donating tickets to LGBTQ teens. Here’s the beautiful ending: the fundraisers - Minus 18, Australia’s largest youth-led LGBTQ advocacy group - hoped to pull in $15,000 to help subsidize 500 tickets; they’ve raised more than $45,000 so far - not only from the heartless, clueless STOP Safe Schools folks, but from hundreds of people around the world who heard about the anti-LGBTQ scheme and stood up for youth, and safe spaces. Have a great time in April, kids! More here: ab.co/24enzGl
The Washington Post explains how Scalia’s replacement could determine the future of LGBT rights in the workplace; Advocate describes how the battle for the trans community to use the bathroom is 40 years in the making; The Washington Post pokes fun at Virginia’s ridiculous law that allows for discrimination on the basis of religion; Advocate wonders about the possibility of an LGBT Supreme Court justice; Los Angeles Daily News describes the added challenges transgender people have when migrating to the United States; Advocate comments on Michigan’s unconstitutional anti-sodomy law; and The Guardian gives us the latest on the fight for civil unions in Italy.