HRC's Best of 2015

HRC's Best of 2015
#EqualityForward

2015 was an incredible year for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. From the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to the court of public opinion, we saw incredible momentum toward LGBT equality. However, we were reminded at many points throughout the year just how far we still have to go.

HRC's relentless work at the federal, state and local levels, in workplaces and healthcare facilities, and against anti-LGBT extremists exporting hate abroad, has brought vitally important changes, both big and small, to the lives of LGBT people.

Your support of HRC's work made these advances possible. Please join us in celebrating the victories and remembering the moments of the past year. We hope you will stand with us as we forge ahead in the fight for full equality in 2016.

In February 2015, HRC launched the People's Brief, a historic effort allowing all Americans to show their support for nationwide marriage equality directly to the Supreme Court.

With 207,551 signatories calling for full nationwide marriage equality, the People's Brief had more signatories than any amicus brief ever submitted to the Supreme Court. With all of the signatures, each copy of the People's Brief was approximately 3,500 pages long, for a total of approximately 175,000 pages and 19 boxes. To meet the Supreme Court's deadline, it required four days of round-the-clock printing in order to complete 50 copies.

207,551 Signatures 207,551 Signatures
175,000 Pages, 19 Boxes, 4 Days Of Printing

Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the historic Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges and longtime HRC member, married his partner, John Arthur, who was suffering from ALS, in Maryland in 2013. Obergefell and Arthur, both Ohio residents, filed a case in July 2013, seeking recognition of their Maryland marriage on Arthur's death certificate. Arthur died three months later on October 22, 2013.

Obergefell's case was consolidated with several other cases from across the country. The case made its way through the courts and on June 26, 2015, in a historic 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States sided with Obergefell and loving, committed same-sex couples across the country. The Court found bans on marriage equality to be unconstitutional - and that the fundamental right to marriage is a fundamental right for all. HRC thanks Jim - and the dozens of other plaintiffs who bravely brought cases - for their sacrifice and dedication to making marriage equality the law of the land.

June 26, 2015, The Court Found Bans On Marriage Equality Unconstitutional
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.
June 26, 2015, The Court Found Bans On Marriage Equality Unconstitutional
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.

In 2015, the visibility of transgender people in the media reached an all-time high, propelled by the coming out of Olympian Caitlyn Jenner. HRC and other advocates seized the opportunity to discuss the many significant inequities - as well as the violence - facing transgender people. Jenner's show, "I Am Cait," filmed an episode that was focused on violence with several HRC staff at HRC's Action Center and Store in San Francisco.

In a viral video in July 2015, Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis denied a marriage license to David Moore and David Ermold, who have been partners for 17 years.

Despite the Supreme Court's decision in favor of nationwide marriage equality, Davis repeatedly refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She was found in contempt of court for refusing to follow a federal court order and was taken into custody.

While Davis aligned herself with other anti-equality leaders, people across the country, including political and religious leaders, called on Kim Davis to resign. Additionally, a poll found that a majority of Americans believe that government officials should resign if they have a personal objection to the duties of their position.

Government officials who have personal objections to the duties of their positions should resign. Government officials who have personal objections to the duties of their positions should resign.

Currently, 31 states lack clear, fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. That means that over 50% of LGBT Americans live in states where they risk being fired, denied housing or refused service because of who they are or whom they love.

HRC worked with Congress to introduce the Equality Act, which establishes explicit, permanent protections against discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity in matters of employment, housing, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education and jury service. In addition, it would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in federal funding and access to public places.

Nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans report having experienced discrimination in Their personal lives.
Of the LGBT Americans who have experienced discrimination, 47 percent report experiencing discrimination in the workplace.
Over 50% of LGBT Americans live in states where they risk being fired, denied housing or refused service because of who they are or whom they love.
U.S. Map Calling out the 19 States + Three Additional who prohibit discrimination.
Only 19 states + D.C. explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In 2015, HRC was on the ground in Houston, Texas, urging residents to vote yes on Proposition 1- The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). HERO protected Houston residents and visitors from discrimination in housing, employment and business services on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion and 11 other characteristics. Several celebrities, organizations, politicians and athletes, including Hillary Clinton, President Obama, Vice President Biden, the NAACP, Sally Field, Jason Collins, Matt Bomer and major corporations, announced their support for HERO.

While HERO did not win at the ballot box, HRC knows that our work to secure non-discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans will continue.

Support from Celebrities and Activists
Support in Social Media
Support from Celebrities and Activists
Video Play Button

Throughout the past decade, we have seen more and more parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning youth pledge to make the world safer for their children, and parents of transgender children are no different. In November, HRC released a new video featuring several extraordinary moms of transgender children who actively support and advocate for transgender equality.

In 2015, at least 21 transgender people have been victims of fatal violence in the United States, more killings of transgender people than any other year on record. More transgender people were killed in the first six months of this year than in all of 2014.

HRC was honored to be a part of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus' first-ever Congressional Forum on Violence Against the Transgender Community. This historic forum included testimony from community organizers, advocates and service providers on the impact and causes of violence, emphasizing the need to implement and enforce legislation that will protect transgender Americans and curb the rampant violence against their community. Preceding the forum, the LGBT Equality Caucus also announced the launch of a new task force focused on transgender equality.

HRC Joins Equality Caucus to Announce Transgender Equality Task Force
In 2015 at least 21 transgender people have been victims of fatal violence in the United States In 2015 at least 21 transgender people have been victims of fatal 
violence in the United States

In HRC Foundation's 2016 CEI report, a record 407 major businesses - spanning nearly every industry and geography - earned a top score of 100 percent and the distinction of "Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality." For the first time, the CEI required that top-scoring companies have a global non-discrimination policy or code of conduct that protects overseas employees. HRC President Chad Griffin traveled to Mexico City for the CEI's first international launch, spotlighting HRC's ongoing work with leading U.S. companies on how the U.S. business community can help drive positive progress toward LGBT equality in the workplace globally.

851 Participating Companies and 511 Offer Trans-inclusive Healthcare Coverage 851 Participating Companies
407 Businesses Earned Perfect Ratings
511 Offer Trans-inclusive Healthcare Coverage

Rob and Reese Scheer's family includes four children. The dads, who live in Maryland, adopted the children from foster care. Their 11-year-old daughter, Amaya, shared her story in the American Girl magazine.

Thousands rallied around the family after the anti-LGBT group One Million Moms threatened the Scheer family and the magazine.

Ahead of Pope Francis' historic visit to the U.S., HRC released exclusive polling data that underscores the fact that Catholic voters in the U.S. are more supportive of LGBT equality than the nation's voters as a whole.

Two HRC-commissioned polls conducted this year show U.S. Catholic laity markedly ahead of their fellow Americans on LGBT issues, including marriage equality and employment non-discrimination protections.

64% of catholic voters support marriage equality
83% of catholic voters support basic employment protections for LGBT People
62% of catholics Oppose allowing small businesses to refuse service to LGBT People for religious reasons

This year, HRC hosted its second annual Time to THRIVE conference, which featured more than 60 workshops that address urgent challenges LGBT and questioning youth face, both in and out of the classroom, and provided educators, counselors, coaches, and other youth-serving professionals the tools they need to help all of our young people thrive. Speakers included Michael Sam, George Takei, Betty DeGeneres, Debi Jackson, Judy Shepard and Dolores Huerta.

The 19th annual HRC National Dinner was a sold out event that drew over 3,000 guests to Washington, D.C. Vice President Joe Biden delivered the keynote address and Apple CEO Tim Cook received the HRC Visibility Award. In addition, seven-time Emmy Award winner Allison Janney presented HRC's National Vanguard Award to Academy Award nominated actress Ellen Page for her courage and leadership. Retired NBA athlete Jason Collins and transgender advocate Blossom Brown also spoke. Multi-platinum selling Grammy nominated singer and songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen, and multi-platinum selling Grammy award-winning A Great Big World - joined by Hip-Hop artist Futuristic - performed.

In October, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to HRC's 800 grassroots leaders from across the country - including the HRC Board of Directors, HRC Board of Governors, HRC staff, and volunteer leaders and supporters from the organization's over 1.5 million members and supporters in all 50 states. In her speech, she reiterated her support and commitment to the LGBT community at home and abroad. She spoke about a plethora of issues affecting the LGBT community, including transgender people in the military, anti-transgender violence, support for LGBTQ youth and the Equality Act.

Your families matter to me and you matter to me. I'm going to keep... fighting for you, your rights, your children, your futures. I'm fighting for an America where we don't leave anyone out. And I am proud to be fighting right alongside you.
Your families matter to me and you matter to me. I'm going to keep... fighting for you, your rights, your children, your futures. I'm fighting for an America where we don't leave anyone out. And I am proud to be fighting right alongside you.

In 2015, HRC Foundation released "A Handbook To Understanding Health and HIV," a four-part, groundbreaking handbook and guide on HIV prevention and care. HRC Foundation also released "Safer Sex," an updated guide to practicing safer sex that includes essential tips to minimize the spread of HIV. HRC staff attended at least 25 events around the country to educate providers and raise awareness about HIV & AIDS.

In 2015, HRC Foundation released "A Handbook To Understanding Health and HIV," a four-part, groundbreaking handbook and guide on HIV prevention and care. HRC Foundation also released "Safer Sex," an updated guide to practicing safer sex that includes essential tips to minimize the spread of HIV. HRC staff attended at least 25 events around the country to educate providers and raise awareness about HIV & AIDS.

5.5 Million People Reached
25% Live in the Southern United States

As part of Project One America and HRC’s ongoing effort to advance LGBT equality in the South, HRC Mississippi and HRC Arkansas each held a groundbreaking statewide Equality Summit. This full-day community-building and volunteer-engagement training brought together pro-equality advocates, helping to bolster volunteer outreach and collaboration while empowering allies and supporters on the ground. People from all walks of life, including politicians, pastors, educators, students, churchgoers, activists, organizers and allies, joined the conversation on how to create full, authentic equality for all Southerners, specifically those who are LGBT.

In 2015, HRC rallied against discriminatory anti-LGBT laws across the country. While more than 115 anti-LGBT bills were introduced in over 29 states, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the discriminatory and extreme Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law. HRC was quick to take action, criticizing Pence and urging business leaders, religious leaders, political leaders and LGBT and allied Hoosiers to do the same. Facing tremendous economic damage and mounting public pressure from fair-minded Americans and business leaders, Pence signed legislation limiting the damage of the state's new RFRA.

After facing similar criticism and backlash as Governor Pence, Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas asked the Arkansas Legislature to recall and amend the state's discriminatory RFRA law.

In an effort to embrace and support LGBT equality worldwide, HRC staff traveled to over 15 countries and met with countless advocacy groups and business and community leaders to provide trainings, advice and support. HRC Global celebrated marriage equality in Ireland, countered anti-LGBT leaders from around the globe in Utah, empowered transgender people in the Philippines, advocated for global workplace equality in Mexico and much, much more.

In September 2015, Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat people with compromised immune systems, including those living with HIV, by an outrageous 5,000 percent. HRC immediately took action, pursuing every avenue to hold the company and CEO Martin Shkreli accountable. At HRC's urging, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman began investigating whether Turing Pharmaceuticals may have violated antitrust laws by limiting distribution of a drug that is essential to the lives of medically vulnerable people. HRC sent letters to several members of Congress seeking an investigation into the unconscionable action of Turing Pharmaceuticals. HRC also joined 151 other organizations from across the nation in signing an open letter to Turing Pharmaceuticals urging company CEO Martin Shkreli to restore the original price for Daraprim.

HRC Foundation's 2015 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) shows that, in every state in the nation, cities are fueling momentum for LGBT equality. The MEI consisted of 408 municipalities, 47 of which earned perfect 100-point scores. Thirty-two million Americans now live in cities and towns with comprehensive transgender-inclusive laws.

HRC Foundation's 2015 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) shows that, in every state in the nation, cities are fueling momentum for LGBT equality. The MEI consisted of 408 municipalities, 47 of which earned perfect 100-point scores. Thirty-two million Americans now live in cities and towns with comprehensive transgender-inclusive laws.

HRC saw a record number of cities take a stand for LGBT equality. Forty-Seven out of 408 cities earned a perfect score on HRC's 2015 Municipal Equality Index.