#AM_Equality Tip Sheet: July 11, 2016

SO CALLED “FIRST AMENDMENT DEFENSE ACT” WOULD ROLL BACK LGBTQ PROTECTIONS: Tomorrow, on the one-month anniversary of the horrific attack in Orlando where 49 LGBTQ people and allies were murdered and 53 others wounded, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) that seeks to foster state-sanctioned discrimination under the guise of religious liberty. This discriminatory bill, supported by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, would allow individuals, many businesses, and nonprofit organizations -- even nonprofit organizations and businesses contracting with the federal government -- to circumvent critical federal protections and allow blatant discrimination against LGBTQ people and their families. Among FADA’s many harms, it would appallingly allow privately-owned businesses to refuse to let an employee take time off to care for their same-sex spouse, in violation of family and medical leave laws, and roll back critical protections for LGBTQ people and their families, many implemented under the Obama Administration. Reminder: if elected, Trump says he’d make passing this legislation a priority.

MASS GOV. SETS EXAMPLE, SIGNS BIPARTISAN BILL EXTENDING PROTECTIONS TO TRANS COMMUNITY: Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker on Friday signed a law extending commonsense, non-discrimination protections to transgender residents and visitors to the state. The new law extends crucial protections to transgender people accessing public accommodations, including restaurants, malls, restrooms, and locker rooms.“By signing this bipartisan legislation into law, Governor Baker has joined the growing list of fair-minded Republicans who are standing up for equality,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin. “Equality is not a Republican or Democratic value, it’s an American value. This crucially important measure will help ensure transgender Bay State residents and visitors are protected from discrimination in public spaces.” More from CNN.

DEMS CALL FOR LGBTQ RIGHTS TO BE PART OF U.S. FOREIGN POLICY: Democrats over the weekend enhanced their 2016 party platform, already hailed by HRC as the “most LGBTQ-inclusive in history,” by adding language calling for LGBTQ human rights to be advanced by U.S. foreign policy, The Washington Blade reports. The new plank draws on a 2011 speech by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, in which she declared, “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

MONDAY MUST WATCH: Check out this new ad highlighting the challenges the trans community faces when discriminatory legislation forces them out of public spaces. It’s set to debut on TV during next week’s Republican National Convention. More from Yahoo News.

  • National Center for Transgender Equality President Mara Keisling penned a powerful op-ed on the ad for The Advocate.

HRC BLASTS NEBRASKA AG FOR DISCRIMINATORY ATTACK ON TRANS STUDENTS: HRC on Friday denounced Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson for filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of 10 states seeking to block President Barack Obama’s historic guidance to ensure the dignity and equal treatment of transgender students in public and federally-funded schools. “It’s a sad day when powerful law enforcement officials come together to harm children by collectively discriminating against them simply because of who they are,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at HRC. “Doug Peterson and his fellow attorneys general -- such as Ken Paxton, who launched a similar attack this week -- should be working to ensure that transgender students can learn in safe, respectful environments, not targeting them for discrimination and bullying. This is shameful.” More from HRC.

BLOOMBERG REPORT: LGBTQ POLITICAL POWER AT HISTORIC HIGH, WORK REMAINS: Bloomberg News chronicles the growth in the LGBTQ community’s political clout, reporting that its “power base has never been stronger,” including seven openly-LGBTQ U.S. lawmakers -- the most ever. But the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ state bills this year shows how much work is left. “It was easy to forget how big the challenge still is,” openly-gay U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-NY, told Bloomberg. The piece notes that membership in the House LGBT Equality Caucus has surged 58 percent this session, and that there are about “500 LGBT politicians serving in elected office at all levels of U.S. government and almost 200 more running for office this year, including 11 for Congress…” Read more here.

MD COURT DELIVERS HUGE WIN FOR LGBTQ PARENTS AND COUPLES: In a unanimous decision last week, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the rights of non-biological parents, whose parenting contributions will now be considered in custody and visitation cases involving their children. As The Washington Post explains, “De facto parents can include the partner of a lesbian who undergoes artificial insemination, a gay man whose partner adopts a child from a country that does not allow same-sex couples to jointly adopt, or a straight man who raises a child with a woman for years without formal adoption.” This case overturned a 2008 ruling that had put Maryland in a small handful of states that did not take de facto parenthood into account in such cases. Congrats to FreeState Justice and plaintiff Michael Conover who is transgender.

  • And in the Midwest, the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services is actively recruiting LGBTQ and allied parents to foster the state’s LGBTQ homeless youth. The Associated Press has more.

NEW ANTI-EQUALITY INITIATIVE IN MAINE: Anti-equality activists in Maine have formed a hateful group focused solely on undermining state protections for the LGBTQ community. Misleadingly called “Equal Rights, not Special Rights,” the group is pushing for an initiative to remove non-discrimination provisions for LGBT people from the Maine Human Rights Act. More from The Bangor Daily News.

GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL: The extremist Westboro Baptist Church is now using the mobile reality game Pokémon Go to spread its anti-LGBTQ hate. The game uses GPS to send users wandering around neighborhoods to find Pokémon and battle other players at designated landmarks (“gyms”), including churches, buildings and public parks. One clever player noticed the Westboro Baptist Church was listed as a gym, and captured it with a Pokémon named “LoveIsLove.” WBC quickly recruited its members to rename it something much worse. More from USA Today.


The Los Angeles Times examines the 18 countries in addition to the U.S. who allow transgender people to serve openly in the military; Mashable reports on the Indian state of West Bengal’s push to have government-aided colleges build separate bathrooms for transgender students; The Denver Post spotlights Amanda Nunes, UFC’s first openly-gay champion; LGBTQ Nation shares a disturbing story of discrimination at an Ohio bakery; USA Today explores Cuba’s vibrant LGBTQ community; Pink News highlights a gay Mormon singer’s emotional call for action following the recent spate of LGBTQ youth suicides in the church; and Mic celebrates America’s oldest fraternity Chi Phi’s decision to now accept transgender men.

Have news? Send us your news and tips at AMEquality@hrc.org. Click here to subscribe to A.M. Equality and follow @HRC for all the latest news. Thanks for reading!

HRC staff

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