REPUBLICAN RECAP: WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: NBC’s Alex Jaffe catches Marco Rubio saying that regarding marriage equality, Rubio "never wanted the federal government involved in marriage.” It’s whopper of a line given that Rubio applauded Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit on DOMA, and now wants to use SCOTUS appointees to overturn marriage equality. Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina tried to bounce back from pandering tweets about college football to attack Ted Cruz for his own pandering on marriage equality. More here: http://bit.ly/1O7doJ9
“SPINELESS” TED CRUZ DRAWS FIRE FROM BOTH SIDES ON LGBT RIGHTS: Ted Cruz is facing criticism from all sides following the release of audio from a closed door Manhattan fundraiser, where he told a pro-equality GOP donor that fighting marriage equality was not a “top-three priority.” Cruz, who has touted his extreme anti-LGBT views at practically every opportunity, has been locking up support from the far right with endorsements from the National Organization for Marriage and the leader of Iowa’s worst anti-LGBT group, the Family Leader. He’s signed a pledge promising to support the First Amendment Defense Act, which has nothing to do with defending the First Amendment, and would legalize Kim Davis-style discrimination. And time and time again he has vowed to fight marriage equality, which he claims is “not the law of the land.” HRC President Chad Griffin called Cruz's pandering "spineless," while Cruz also drew fire from other GOP candidates. The tape raises questions about Cruz's credibility and authenticity at the very moment he appears to be surging nationally and in Iowa.
2016 STATE PREVIEW: WHAT’S AT STAKE IN THE 2016 LEGISLATIVE SESSION: Last year, state lawmakers introduced more than 115 anti-LGBT bills during the legislative session -- many of which will be considered anew as soon as this month. The largest share of 2015 state bills were aimed at giving individuals, businesses and taxpayer-funded agencies special privileges to use religion as a reason to refuse goods or services to LGBT people. Additional proposals sought to restrict restroom use by transgender people, and to eliminate the ability of local governments to protect their LGBT residents and visitors. All told, legislatures in 47 states and the District of Columbia will be in session in 2016 -- 37 return this month -- and many state legislatures allow bills introduced in 2015 to carry over into 2016 if they saw no action. Thus, many of the more than 115 anti-LGBT bills introduced last year are still pending, and new anti-equality bills are expected to be introduced in many states. Get more information here: http://hrc.org/local-issues.
ALL EYES ON INDIANA AS 2016 LEGISLATIVE SESSION BEGINS: Today marks the first day of the 2016 legislative session in Indiana, where lawmakers are expected to debate a variety of pro- and anti-equality proposals that would directly impact the lives of LGBT Hoosiers. Last November, Republican lawmakers pre-filed legislation that purports to address discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but the proposal includes huge religious carve-outs that would allow some for-profit businesses to refuse LGBT people service, among other problems. The bill’s religious exemptions go far beyond those already found in existing Indiana law, would nullify existing local non-discrimination ordinances, and prohibit others from being enacted. Democratic lawmakers have proposed simply adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected characteristics under the state’s civil rights law, while Governor Mike Pence has made no mention of LGBT non-discrimination protections in his 2016 legislative agenda. Non-discrimination protections aren’t the only thing up for debate this session--a bill that would fine and jail transgender people for using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity has been introduced, as has a horrific new anti-LGBT RFRA proposal.
Don’t miss the Indy Star’s piece examining Gov. Pence’s long history of opposing LGBT equality in public office.
FIRST EVER SCHOOL FOR LGBT YOUTH AND TEACHERS TO OPEN IN ATLANTA: This September will mark the opening of Pride School Atlanta, a new facility designed to provide a safe space for LGBT youth and teachers who are bullied or do not feel accepted at traditional institutions. The Associated Press reports that this would be a first-of-its-kind school in Georgia and the Southeastern United States.
DISTURBING TREND IN TENNESSEE, COUNTIES SEEK TO DEFY MARRIAGE EQUALITY RULING: Last week, Unicoi County became the latest to approve an anti-marriage equality resolution asking the state of Tennessee to only recognize marriages between one man and one woman, and urged state lawmakers to fight the Obergefell decision. According to the Associated Press, these kinds of resolutions have already been adopted in Johnson, Sullivan, Greene and McMinn counties, while commissioners in Carter and Dickson counties are expected to have hearings on whether to adopt similar resolutions on January 19. More here: http://bit.ly/1JrgAT9 and here: http://bit.ly/1RZGYpU
ISIL EXECUTES 15 YEAR-OLD GAY TEEN: In its latest reported brutal and inhumane act, ISIL appears to have executed a 15-year old Syrian this weekend for allegedly being gay. This killing is another tragic addition to a string of similar executions of individuals who are accused of being LGBT across ISIL-held territory in Syria and Iraq. During the past two years, Outright International has documented more than 30 executions of LGBT people. LGBT refugees from Syria and Iraq are among the most vulnerable in the world, yet even when they escape the Islamic State, they can face discrimination and violence from other refugees. HRC has advocated for better treatment for LGBT refugees who come to the U.S., and in recent months, has helped publish a guide for service providers for LGBT asylum seekers; urged the U.S. Congress to reject any legislation that could further hinder an already slow refugee resettlement system; and participated in a special convening on LGBTI refugee issues on Capitol Hill. More here: http://bit.ly/1OvVsLR
Fusion takes a deep dive into the HIV crisis currently facing Atlanta…. The Washington Blade profiles Virginia Del.-Elect Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) and his effort to bring non-discrimination protections to LGBT Virginians…. The Commercial Appeal highlights the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center latest project that will provide housing for struggling LGBT youth…. OutSports profiles all the athletes who made the brave decision to live openly in 2015.