WHICH ANTI-LGBT CANDIDATE WILL THE FAMILY LEADER ENDORSE?: With less than 60 days until the Iowa Caucus, the Family Leader, one of Iowa’s most prominent anti-LGBT groups, is expected to announce its endorsement for president today. Family Leader President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats’ anti-LGBT views are out of step with the majority of Iowans, who support marriage equality by an overwhelming 57-37 margin, according to the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute. Meanwhile, PPP found in an April poll that a 36 percent plurality of Iowans have an unfavorable opinion of Vander Plaats, and only a paltry 7 percent of Iowans would be more likely to vote for a candidate he endorsed. Seven GOP candidates attended the Family Leader’s Presidential Forum in November, and their long records of anti-LGBT rhetoric and positions gives Vander Plaats many options to choose from. Check out the line-up here: http://bit.ly/1jQsPfR

MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN? NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE ENDORSES TED CRUZ: Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign for President was endorsed by the extremist National Organization for Marriage yesterday. The endorsement comes after ultra-conservative Iowa Congressman Steve King issued his own endorsement of Cruz. The Texas Senator and presidential candidate has ramped up his anti-LGBT rhetoric--with a particular focus on targeting transgender Americans--in recent weeks, including speaking at the notorious “death to gays” conference in Des Moines in the last month. Cruz has also been endorsed by Sandy Rios of the American Family Association - an organization that has been classified a hate-group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Read more here: http://nyti.ms/1NIsdVR

FEDERAL APPEALS COURT TO HEAR TRANSGENDER STUDENT’S CASE NEXT YEAR: The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is set to hear the case of Gavin Grimm, a 16 year-old transgender student who has sued Virginia’s Gloucester County School District for denying him use of the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity. Grimm’s suit alleges that the district is violating Title IX of the Education Act of 1972. The Obama Administration, which just negotiated a settlement on behalf of a transgender student in Illinois, has submitted a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Grimm saying, “Prohibiting a transgender male student from using boys’ restrooms, when other non-transgender male students face no such restriction, deprives him not only of equal educational opportunity but also ‘of equal status, respect, and dignity.’” Recently, several state Republican leaders have filed briefs backing the school board’s discriminatory policy including Attorneys General from Arizona, Mississippi, West Virginia and South Carolina and the governors of Maine and North Carolina. The case will be argued on Jan. 27 at the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, VA. More here: http://abcn.ws/1SQafAQ


TROUBLING NEW POLICY AGAINST TRANSGENDER ATHLETES ADVANCES IN NEBRASKA: Yesterday, the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) voted 6-1 to move forward with a stricter policy regarding the participation of transgender students in high school sports. According to reports, the draft policy which has been under debate for several months, would require that students provide “credible documentation” from family, friends, and teachers, as well as accompanying input from a physician, psychologist, member of NSAA and member from a non-competing school to qualify. Students transitioning from male to female would also need to undergo mandated hormone therapy for at least 1 year. Despite all these criteria, transgender athletes would still either have to use a private bathroom, or the bathroom facilities for the gender that they were assigned at birth. ACLU of Nebraska slammed the ruling saying that it is “not consistent with best practices from either a legal or policy standpoint and could result in lengthy litigation for the NSAA and school districts, or the loss of federal funds.” The final reading is expected to take place on January 6. More here: http://bit.ly/1SQamwc and here: http://bit.ly/1HWypJn

HAMBURG, NY SCHOOL DISTRICT ADOPTS TRANS-INCLUSIVE POLICY: This week, Hamburg School Board of New York voted to adopt a new pro-equality policy that would allow transgender students to use the bathrooms aligned with their gender identity. Superintendent Michael Cornell commented positively despite possible blowback saying, “our obligation is to do the right thing for students, and legally, to protect transgendered [sic] students from discrimination. It’s the right thing to do.” Many hope that the board, which unanimously passed the measure, will be an example for other districts in the area that are debating transgender inclusive policy. Earlier this week, the School Board for Lancaster, NY decided to table a vote on a similar policy saying more time was needed to make a decision following hours of strong public debate. More here: http://bit.ly/1U7HqAW

FLORIDA COUPLE BECOME LATEST TO CHALLENGE BIRTH CERTIFICATE LAW: Two same-sex couples in Florida have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the state’s refusal to list both parents on their children’s birth certificates is a violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling affirming nationwide marriage equality this June. An Arkansas Circuit Court Judge recently ruled in favor of a couple that filed a similar suit in that state, and a couple also filed suit in Indiana just this week. More here: http://bit.ly/1Rcj8XF and here: http://bit.ly/21RHycW

CINCINNATI OFFICIALLY BANS CONVERSION THERAPY FOR LGBTQ YOUTH: Yesterday, Cincinnati officially became what may be the first city in the nation to ban the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth. The historic ordinance, which imposes a $200 a day fine on violators, was largely in response to the tragic death of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn last year, who was subjected to conversion therapy against her will. Earlier this year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) released a new report definitively denouncing the practice, and HRC and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) released sample legislation for state legislators and equality advocates who want to protect LGBTQ youth. NCLR and HRC have also partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation to end this dangerous practice, including laws passed in California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon and Illinois. More here: http://cin.ci/1SQaxYw

VA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM TO OPEN TRANSGENDER CLINIC FOR VETERANS IN TUCSON: Yesterday, the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System (SAVAHCS)’s main Tucson campus announced that it will be opening a clinic for transgender veterans next week. The clinic will provide medical care, mental health, pharmaceutical and social work services specific to transgender Veterans. Last month, the Cleveland VA Medical Center opened the country’s first VA clinic dedicated to providing medical services to transgender veterans. Though there are an estimated 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the U.S. military, transgender people are still not able to serve openly. There are also an estimated 134,000 transgender veterans who are alive today. A draft memo circulated this past August expects the ban to be lifted in May 2016. More here: http://bit.ly/1OV7Vrl

LGBT-INCLUSIVE SENIOR HOUSING PROJECT APPROVED IN SAN DIEGO: The San Diego City Council has unanimously approved a $7 million loan for the construction of an LGBT senior apartment complex. Delores Jacobs, CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, which is supporting the effort, said, “The people who will live here paved the way for younger LGBT generations and many of them are forced back into the closet in traditional senior communities because of a lack of acceptance. We owe this new community and more to San Diego’s LGBT seniors.” The complex is scheduled to open in 2017. More here: http://bit.ly/21RHOIG 


EU COMMISSION RELEASES ACTION LIST FOR IMPROVING LGBTI LIFE: Yesterday, the European Union’s Commissioner for Justice and Equality, Věra Jourová, released a new report: “List of Actions by the Commission to Advance LGBTI Equality.” The 24 page report focuses on areas for improvement including monitoring and enforcement of existing rights, nondiscrimination protections and supporting key players in the advancement of LGBTI rights in the EU. Read the actions list here: http://bit.ly/1IH7ykH


Reuters sits down with Tamara Adrian, the first openly transgender person elected to Venezuela’s National Assembly… MTV writes about a new app called Wimbify, which though similar to Airbnb, is designed to connect LGBT travelers with hosts that will make them feel safe and welcome... Michigan Public Radio looks at the ongoing debate on a statewide LGBT civil rights ordinance… and ABC30 profiles Jimi Pierson of Fresno, a local doctor providing invaluable medical services to the transgender community.

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