VICTORY! SD GOVERNOR DOES THE RIGHT THING, VETOES H.B. 1008: Yesterday, South Dakota’s Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard listened to the overwhelming chorus of voices--including students, parents, advocacy organizations, and businesses--and vetoed discriminatory legislation attacking the fundamental dignity and rights of transgender children. If signed into law, the bill would have blocked kids in public schools from using restrooms and facilities consistent with their gender identity. Despite the victory, HRC President Chad Griffin warned in a statement yesterday, “another anti-LGBT bill is still pending in the South Dakota Legislature -- and we must keep up the fight to ensure [yesterday’s] veto holds and this other odious bill never makes it to Governor Daugaard’s desk.” HRC, the ACLU of South Dakota, the National Center of Transgender Equality, and other groups worked closely to stop this outrageous bill from becoming law. This is a huge victory for fairness and equality, and we encourage lawmakers and governors in other states to read Gov. Daugaard’s well-reasoned veto message. More here: nyti.ms/1WTZejH and wapo.st/1ngCwpH
GEORGIA UNITES: ADVOCATES URGE GOV. DEAL TO REJECT H.B.757: Today, advocates from Georgia Unites, Lambda Legal and HRC delivered more than 75,000 email petitions to Governor Deal urging him to veto H.B. 757, should it reach his desk. H.B. 757 is an anti-LGBT bill that would allow taxpayer-funded organizations to discriminate and refuse services to both same-sex and unmarried couples, and is one of nine anti-LGBT bills introduced in the Georgia State Legislature this session. There will be a press call following the petition drop today at 1pm E.T.
SUPER TUESDAY RESULTS FORESHADOW THE STAKES FOR LGBT EQUALITY: Last night, as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump racked up victory after victory, what will hang in the balance for millions of LGBT Americans this November couldn’t be clearer. HRC President Chad Griffin said, “as pro-equality voters look toward Election Day, the differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on LGBT equality are enormous. Hillary Clinton has presented a clear vision for creating a better future for LGBT people across this nation. Donald Trump has demonstrated that he would block full LGBT equality as president, whether it’s by appointing Supreme Court justices to overturn nationwide marriage equality or by supporting legislation that would lead to more Kim Davis-like discrimination.” Trump has doubled down on overturning nationwide marriage equality in recent weeks, telling Christian Broadcasting News that voters can “trust me” to reverse nationwide marriage equality and Fox News Sunday that, if elected he would appoint justices who would reverse the landmark Supreme Court decision that led to marriage equality nationwide. Trump has also endorsed the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act,” a bill that would lead to more Kim Davis style discrimination. HRC is planning an unprecedented organizational effort to register and mobilize the nation’s pro-equality majority, and elect pro-LGBT candidates up and down the ballot. Check out this video that highlights what’s at stake this year: bit.ly/1LxflDb
IN HISTORIC STEP, EEOC FILES LAWSUIT ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AS SEX DISCRIMINATION: In a historic move yesterday, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), filed two lawsuits on behalf of a gay man and lesbian woman who experienced discrimination at work by their supervisors because of their sexual orientation. The EEOC brought both lawsuits under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex as well as retaliation. Yesterday's actions reflect the landmark EEOC decision in Baldwin v. Foxx, which determined that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. In a statement announcing the suits, EEOC General Counsel David Lopez specifically provided that, “With the filing of these two suits, EEOC is continuing to solidify its commitment to ensuring that individuals are not discriminated against in workplaces because of their sexual orientation.” More here: huff.to/1T7Nfku
STRONGER TOGETHER: HRC President Chad Griffin penned a letter to the editor in response to Joseph Murray’s divisive, inflammatory, and mean-spirited USA Today opinion piece that ran on Sunday. Griffin argues that the fight for LGBT equality is a fight for all of us, and fundamentally rejects Murray and his baseless arguments. He writes that Murray’s “assertion that we are ‘no longer working toward the same goals’ could not be more untrue; the extreme rhetoric Murray uses could not be more dangerous. We are stronger in our unity, and Murray’s attempt to splinter our movement at a time when our biggest obstacles — and victories — still lie ahead of us is a slap in the face to all of the progress lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have made together, working hand in hand.” Murray’s claims that the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community should “divorce” the transgender community are not only wrong, they are deeply harmful. More here: usat.ly/1VQpwD3
JUSTICE--IT’S FINGER LICKIN’ GOOD: Last week, a local Virginia KFC franchise manager found himself in appropriately hot water (or fry oil) after he fired Georgia Carter because she is transgender. Yesterday, the franchisee’s leadership swiftly took action by firing the manager responsible for the transphobic act and offering Carter back her job at that location or any other KFC location in the Richmond, VA area. We commend this action by the KFC franchisee, which is in keeping with KFC’s national LGBT nondiscrimination policy that’s effective even in states like Virginia that do not offer state protections to LGBT workers. KFC’s parent company, Yum! Brands, has an 80 percent on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices affecting LGBT employees. More here: bzfd.it/1RkfwhI
TWITTER JOINS THE PARTY IN GEORGIA FADA FIGHT: Yesterday, Twitter became the latest company to come out against Georgia’s discriminatory First Amendment Defense Act by becoming a member of Georgia Prospers, a partnership of business leaders committed to ensuring that Georgia remains a place that is welcoming all. For those keeping track, powerhouses like Salesforce, Unilever, Dell Inc., Virgin Group, Home Depot, Microsoft and dozens of others are asking House leadership and Governor Nathan Deal to reject this piece of legislation, that would allow individuals to use religion as an excuse for discrimination. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Gov. Deal and House Speaker David Ralston have already built an alliance that they say will “force changes” to the bill, in an attempt to curb the massive amounts of backlash the state is facing. On Monday, Deal released a statement that said in part, “I do not want us to do anything that will be perceived as allowing discrimination in the state of Georgia.” TBD on what exactly that means. More here: on-ajc.com/1oWz2ur
UTAH BILL THAT WOULD HAVE ADDED NON-DISCRIMINATION PROTECTIONS FOR LGBT PEOPLE IN PUBLIC SPACES IS CUT: The sponsor of an LGBT non-discrimination bill in Utah has decided to pull it from consideration over fears that it will distract lawmakers from passing pending LGBT-inclusive hate crimes legislation. While the state has LGBT non-discrimination protections in employment and housing, this bill would have added public accommodations to those protections and ensured, for example, that businesses cannot refuse goods or services to LGBT people. More here: bit.ly/1L5TnqW
NC AG SAYS TO LEAVE CHARLOTTE ALONE: Yesterday, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said that the state has better, more important things to deal with than limiting the access, rights and protections of LGBT North Carolinians. He told reporters when asked about the governor’s call for state lawmakers to overturn or undermine Charlotte’s recently passed non-discrimination ordinance, “And this is the issue that the governor wants to talk about and bring before the General Assembly? I don't think so... I think we need to be working on priorities that help North Carolina families and help public education. That's what we should be concentrating on, not this." Glad to see that someone ‘gets’ it. To recap, following the passage of LGBT inclusive non-discrimination protections in North Carolina’s largest city, the Speaker of the NC House Tim Moore and Governor Pat McCrory said that we should expect intervention from the state. With Charlotte’s ordinance going into effect on April 1 and the General Assembly scheduled to reconvene on April 25, fireworks in Raleigh seem certain. It’s also worth noting that Cooper is the likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate looking to unseat McCrory come November. Should be an interesting race. More here: abcn.ws/1Rjcs5m
SUPPORTIVE SUPERINTENDENT CALLS OUT ANTI-LGBT RHETORIC IN FLORIDA: Brevard (FL) Public Schools’ Superintendent Desmond Blackburn spoke out in support of adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the school system’s anti-harassment policy, after a public hearing brought in 90 opponents to the policy last week. Blackburn stated that the school system has “a strong history of supporting students and staff of the LGBT community,” and referred to the opponents rhetoric as “misinformation.” The school board did not come to a decision during the last meeting, but Blackburn hopes that a positive decision will come in the following weeks, without “hurtful or defamatory speech” from the public. Thank you, Superintendent Blackburn, for continuing this conversation and helping to ensure your students feel safe and supported in their schools! More here: on.flatoday.com/1SfpRAl
AROUND THE WORLD
INTERNATIONAL BACKLASH AGAINST ANTI-LGBT ARREST IN MALAWI: A same-sex couple was arrested in Malawi in December of last year, sparking an international backlash for the discriminatory act. The couple was arrested under Section 153 of Malawi’s penal code, which is often interpreted to ban sodomy. This conviction could bring a nearly 14 year imprisonment that may include hard labor. After the international outcry, the couple was released, prompting some activists to suggest that this could become a catalyst for Malawi to decriminalize same-sex relationships. But other analysts disagree, stating a referendum of the largely intolerant community might be required to potentially change the law. More here: wapo.st/1QjUYbB
“WELKOM” TO THE NETHERLANDS: After reports of violence and abuse, LGBT refugees in the Netherlands are being granted their own special shelters. The Dutch Parliament has voted to create shelters for LGBT refugees as a way of protecting them from the abuse that has plagued many refugees throughout Europe. Though not a solution to the overall problem, The Netherlands is committed to making sure that the country, which was first to institute marriage equality, is still at the forefront of protecting and respecting LGBT people. More here: on.wsj.com/1QS1LN3
KENYA NOT A FAN OF SAME LOVE: The Kenyan Film Classification Board has given Google a strict ultimatum, demanding that they remove a music video remix of the rapper Macklemore’s popular song “Same Love” within a week. The remix, by an artist named Art Attack, changes the lyrics to support LGBT equality in Kenya. The Board has determined that the music video goes against Kenya’s laws against same-sex relationships, marriage and “pornography.” More here: bit.ly/1QpsGdx
THE “L” WORD IN ITALY: Italy is taking another baby step towards equality. Though LGBT advocates were devastated last month when parliament’s decision on same-sex civil unions did not allow same-sex couples to adopt, it seems like a court in Rome is taking matters into its own hands. The court ruled in favor of a lesbian couple seeking to adopt each other’s children. No word on how this ruling might impact other couples. More here: reut.rs/1QS1OIL
Washington Blade profiles a gay man who was fired from his job in connection with the Catholic Church; Gay Star News studies the most and least LGBT-friendly African countries; Governing looks at the states’ quest to make juvenile justice more accepting of LGBTQ youth; Huffington Post introduces a new film about Bisi Alimi, a gay man who came out publically on a popular Nigerian TV show; and Autostraddle highlights support for LGBT non-discrimination protections among African Americans in PRRI’s new poll.