#AM_Equality Tip Sheet: February 25, 2016
#SAYHERNAME -- FRIENDS REMEMBER MAYA YOUNG AND VERONICA BANKS CANO: As the national epidemic of anti-transgender violence rages on, two transgender women of color were tragically found dead this past weekend. Twenty-five year-old Maya Young -- “Twix” to her friends -- was stabbed to death Saturday night in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And on Friday, Veronica Banks Cano was found dead at a motel in San Antonio, Texas. She was pursuing a career in nursing and wanted to help others. Last year saw the greatest murder rate of transgender people on record -- almost all of them transgender women of color. Find out more about the devastating epidemic here: hrc.org/trans-violence.
HISTORIC FTC FRAUD COMPLAINT TARGETS VIRGINIA “CONVERSION THERAPY” CHARLATANS, RAISES HOPES FEDS WILL TAKE DEFINITIVE ACTION ENDING PRACTICE: The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), joined by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) are taking a bold new approach to shut down perpetrators of the dangerous and debunked practice of “conversion therapy”: urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to declare that outfits like Virginia-based People Can Change are engaging in fraud by claiming they can change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In an historic complaint filed with the FTC, HRC and its partners have opened a new and promising avenue to ending the odios practices that have for decades been linked to serious harm, including depression, substance abuse, even suicide. Conversion therapy survivors praised the move. “As a conversion therapy survivor,” Tweeted Alex Cooper, “I stand with @HRC in saying it’s time to end this cruelty once and for all. More here: bit.ly/1Q3MpBy and bit.ly/1XOUn4m
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA’S HORRENDOUS ANTI-TRANSGENDER BILL: The New York Times, takes a deep dive into South Dakota’s discriminatory anti-transgender bill, H.B. 1008, and the children who would be affected by it. Smith talks to transgender advocates, Kendra Heathscott and Thomas Lewis, who met with Gov. Daugaard this past week to urge him to veto the legislation that, as Lewis shares, would only “create more stigma.” Read the piece here: nyti.ms/1oJREh3 and read HRC’s report on the onslaught of state bills targetting transgender children here: bit.ly/1TyAejz
LAVERNE COX AND CAITLYN JENNER SPEAK OUT AGAINST SOUTH DAKOTA LEGISLATION: Transgender advocates Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner recently condemned South Dakota’s new discriminatory bill that would block trans kids from using facilities at school that correspond with their gender identity. The former Olympian tweeted a link to the ACLU’s petition insisting governor Daugaard veto the measure, while the Orange is the New Black actress posted a photo of Thomas Lewis, a trans student from South Dakota, and a message to her Instagram followers urging them to sign the petition. Cox commented, “Studies show that 78 percent of trans students experience harassment or bullying in school and nearly 50 percent attempt suicide. We should be creating safer, nurturing environments for our children not more hostile ones.” More here: abcn.ws/1mUOOnF
TIME MAGAZINE BREAKS DOWN THE BATTLES IN GEORGIA AND SOUTH DAKOTA: ICYMI, check out this piece by Katy Steinmetz of TIME, who profiles two of the fast-moving major anti-LGBT state bills for which pro-equality advocates are pulling out all the stops to ensure that they don’t become law. Steinmetz looks at battles to kill a First Amendment Defense Act in Georgia, and an anti-transgender student bill in South Dakota, both of which are a few short steps away from becoming law. The First Amendment Defense Act is swiftly moving through the Georgia legislature, and South Dakota’s bill is a few short days from being signed or vetoed by South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard. More here: ti.me/1Qg0flr
HERITAGE FOUNDATION’S BUDGET BLUEPRINT TAKES AIM AT LGBTQ STUDENTS: One would think that the Heritage Foundation’s recommendations for the federal budget would focus on the important fiscal decisions facing Congress. Instead, A Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for 2017 takes aim at LGBTQ students in Washington, D.C. It calls for Congress to “displace the effects of” the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA), a law in Washington, D.C. that requires religious colleges and universities to treat LGBTQ student groups the same as other student groups. These recommendations would ultimately deny LGBTQ students the same rights as other student groups. Last May, HRC’s Government Affairs Director David Stacy joined Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at a press conference to urge the House of Representatives to reject any attempts by Congress to undermine or overturn HRAA. Although disapproval resolutions were introduced to overturn HRAA, ultimately Congress did not take any action and the law went into effect. Congresswoman Norton has already released a statement in response to the Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint, vowing to keep the District’s non-discrimination laws intact.“Heritage and their allies proclaim principles of liberty and local autonomy daily,” she wrote. “And then in a heartbeat turn on these same principles as they try to deny nearly 700,000 Americans living in the District the same rights that apply to all other American citizens.” Read the full report (or not) here: bit.ly/1QyXjMy
UTAH PRO-EQUALITY BILL SHUT DOWN: Pro-equality Utah lawmakers were shut down yesterday, as conservative lawmakers refused to move forward with legislation that would update the language of an adoption bill so that it was in line with this summer’s Obergefell ruling. The new bill, which aims to change uses of “man” and “wife” to “spouse,” would prevent Utah’s taxpayers from paying for potential lawsuits. One of the dissenters, Republican Rep. Merrill Nelson, didn’t even hide their anti-LGBT stance against the bill, saying that Utah “remains free to express a preference for man-woman marriages in the placement of children.” More here: bit.ly/1Rote5z
FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICT REJECTS LGBTQ STUDENTS PROTECTIONS: Brevard County School Board has rejected a proposal that would expand its existing non-discrimination protections to include LGBTQ students and staff. At a public hearing on Tuesday, most of the speakers were opposed to any policy changes and unfortunately some even used the debunked transgender bathroom myth to justify their position. According to reports, the board does intend to host a workshop on LGBTQ issues some time in the near future. More here: bit.ly/1QzU2ww
AROUND THE WORLD
ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR CONFIDENCE VOTE ON CIVIL UNIONS BILL: Yesterday, in a bold move, the Italian government called for a confidence vote on civil unions legislation after all language granting adoption rights to same-sex couples was stripped from the bill. Opponents argued that provision would lead to surrogacy--which is strictly banned in the country. Not surprisingly, LGBT activists are not happy with the move that now basically makes the bill meaningless and have been protesting outside Parliament. The confidence vote will be held today and if passed, the bill with advance to the Chamber of Deputies where the government’s party has a majority. It should be noted, that if the confidence vote fails, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi could face resignation. Italy is the only major country in Western Europe that still does not have some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples. More here: reut.rs/1TAHfiT
PLEA FOR ADOPTION RIGHTS IN ITALY REJECTED: On Wednesday, Italy’s constitutional court refused to hear a same-sex adoption case and ruled its petition inadmissible. The case involved two American mothers who were seeking legal rights over their non-biological children in Italy, even after each had adopted the other’s biological child in the U.S. The court ultimately decided that the case presented by the tribunal for minors in Bologna was inadmissible and refused to hear it. More here: abcn.ws/1TFCPbD
ONE MORE FOR TAIWAN: Chiayi just became the seventh city in Taiwan to allow same-sex couples to register. Taiwan has been making headlines for its advances towards full marriage equality. From electing pro-equality candidates, to increasing options for LGBT couples to register, Taiwan is furthering the global equality movement. More here: bit.ly/1Ox3JKX
COME ON KNESSET!: Israel, the nation with the most robust LGBT scene in the entire Middle East, celebrated LGBT Rights Day in the Knesset (Hebrew for Parliament). But it was not all fun and games in Jerusalem this week. Only a day later, the Knesset failed to pass five bills related to LGBT rights. Despite growing support for LGBT rights in the country, it was deadlock as usual in the Knesset. Coalition politics and the strength of certain religious parties stopped the bills in their tracks. More here: bit.ly/24pPXFD
UGANDAN ACTIVISTS CONCERNED OVER NEWLY REELECTED PRESIDENT: Local activists are calling out newly re-elected Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni this week, for his support a bill that will outlaw LGBT-supportive non-profits in the country. In a panel on Tuesday, representatives from the LGBT groups, Chapter Four Uganda and Sexual Minorities Uganda, expressed concern about the anti-LGBT rhetoric of the candidates during the election. One candidate expressed that they would “cure” all LGBT people. During President Museveni’s last term, he signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which charges anyone who engages in same-sex sexual acts with a lifetime sentence. More here: bit.ly/1T7QwAp
Associated Press breaks down Charlotte’s new nondiscrimination ordinance… The Atlantic wonders about the next steps for HERO… The Guardian asks Italians their opinion on the upcoming civil unions vote… and The New Civil Rights Movement looks at the backlash surrounding Georgia’s newest religious freedom bill… The Advocate talks to the Kenyan rap group who is facing arrest after producing a pro-marriage equality song…. Bloomberg gives an overview of the progress Japan has made on making their workplaces more LGBT-friendly…. and ThinkProgress highlights a new study that finds that employers are less likely to interview LGBT women.