BEN CARSON’S BIGOTRY: “A LONGER CONVERSATION”: Ben Carson, who has an impressive record of making hurtful and bigoted attacks against LGBT people, was confronted with his own anti-LGBT rhetoric earlier this week. ABC News has the video footage of a person who asked Ben Carson a simple question at a recent NH rally -- “Do you think I chose to be gay?” The question harkens back to Carson’s suggestion early in the campaign that “prison” proves that being gay is a choice -- comments he later walked back under heavy criticism from HRC and others. Struggling to reboot his campaign, CNN also reports that Carson’s campaign chair wants to restrict the role of women in the military and bring back Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which would prevent gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Carson refused to rule out the suggestion from his campaign chair, “but did suggest he would consider revoking the Obama administration's moves to open the military and combat roles to LGBT troops and women.” For more on Carson’s appalling anti-equality record visit: http://www.hrc.org/2016republicanfacts
A.M. MUST-READ: Houstonia Magazine profiles HRC Board Member Lou Weaver, who continues to fight tirelessly for LGBT non-discrimination protections in Texas’ largest city. Lou shares his experience as a transgender man and the difficult loss of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which was rejected at the ballot box after opponents used scare tactics and fear mongering to mislead voters on its actual effects. Read the piece here: http://bit.ly/1TEl5u5
TED CRUZ LEAVES NO DOUBT ABOUT HIS INTENTION TO TAKE AWAY MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Ted Cruz campaigns regularly on reversing the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling that ushered in nationwide marriage equality. The Advocate reports on the latest anti-LGBT language from Cruz, during a campaign event with Focus on the Family in Iowa. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1OLISE2
HRC RESPONDS TO UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT WHO SAID HE IS “PROUD” TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST LGBT STUDENTS: In a commentary this week, Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University boasts of being “proud” to lead an institution that sought a waiver from the government so that it could discriminate against transgender people. In the piece, Piper used the same ignorant and hateful language that is his stock-in-trade: referring to transgender people as a “human fabrication,” and non-discrimination efforts as “misogyny.” “Mr. Piper’s assertions are despicable, but, sadly, not surprising, given his track record of working with anti-LGBT organizations like the World Congress of Families,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Piper should be ashamed. Imagine what it feels like to be a young LGBT student at Oklahoma Wesleyan University and hearing the president of your school publicly disparage you in this way. His astonishingly callous response to revelations that he sought the right to discriminate against his own students is not only stomach-turning, but anathema to the role of an educational leader.” In the report, Hidden Discrimination: Title IX Religious Exemptions Putting LGBT Students at Risk, HRC spotlights 56 colleges and universities based in 26 states across every region of the country that since 2013 have requested religious exemptions under Title IX. More here: http://bit.ly/1n40YLz
GOV. PENCE SAYS HE WILL SOON ANNOUNCE POSITION ON LGBT LEGISLATION IN INDIANA: Yesterday, after weeks of dodging, Governor Mike Pence announced that he will (finally) take a public position on adding protections for LGBT people to Indiana’s civil rights code saying, “In the coming days I’ll make sure Hoosiers know precisely where I stand on those issues.” This news comes as a surprise considering LGBT issues were not included on his legislative agenda for 2016 (or on the list of priorities for Senate Republicans). In addition to two diametrically different non-discrimination bills, state lawmakers will also debate a bill that would fine and jail transgender people for using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, and a horrific new anti-LGBT RFRA proposal. Pence will outline his position in his State of the State Address on Tuesday, January 12…. Also, check out this teen in Indiana who’s pushing for LGBT non-discrimination protections in the the city of Jefferson, Indiana. The non-discrimination bill which has been pre-filed by the Republicans, would actually prohibit local governments from enacting broader ordinances. More here: http://bit.ly/1R9Sn6t
MAYOR CURRY TO WEIGH IN ON LGBT NON-DISCRIMINATION IN JACKSONVILLE: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is also set to announce his position on whether the city should adopt protections for the LGBT community. The news came out of an editorial board meeting with the Florida Times Union where Curry says he continues to meet with people on both sides of the issue. Last year, Curry hosted three “community conversations” on LGBT non-discrimination protections, which attracted hundreds of residents. Jacksonville is currently one of the largest cities without protections for LGBT people in housing, employment, and public accommodations. More here: http://bit.ly/1IQFvzv
ANTI-EQUALITY LAWMAKERS TARGET TRANSGENDER PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON STATE: A new rule from the Washington State Human Rights Commission clarifies that buildings open to the public are required to allow transgender people to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. But some anti-equality Republican state lawmakers are already shamefully trying to roll back these protections for the transgender community in the Evergreen State by using the same lies and fear mongering we saw in Houston. More here: http://bit.ly/1mFRUvX and here: http://bit.ly/1RhM0yj
SC LAWMAKERS PRE-FILE BILL IN A RIDICULOUS EFFORT TO INVALIDATE SAME-SEX MARRIAGES: SC Reps. Bill Chumley and Mike Burns appear to need a refresher course on how government works. The two representatives have pre-filed a ridiculous piece of legislation called the South Carolina Natural Marriage Defense Act, which seeks to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman and invalidate all same-sex marriages in the Palmetto State. Fortunately, the South Carolina state legislature doesn’t have the authority to invalidate a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
OKLAHOMA CITY PASSES PRO-LGBT HOUSING ORDINANCE: Following the Norman City Council’s historic vote for a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance, Oklahoma City Council has adopted an amendment that will grant housing protections for the LGBT community. According to Freedom Oklahoma, the move came in response to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's mandate that the city add protections in their housing ordinance based on “religion, creed, and national origin.” In the 5-4 vote, the council members voted to add sexual orientation and gender identity as well. Where states are failing, cities continue to lead the way by protecting LGBT residents and visitors, underscoring the need for the Equality Act, a federal bill which would provide explicit, permanent protections in federal law against discrimination. More here: http://bit.ly/1Z46fyB
NORTH DAKOTA MULLING CHANGE TO STATE CONSTITUTION FOLLOWING OBERGEFELL RULING: In light of last summer’s marriage equality ruling, North Dakota’s interim Judiciary Committee is considering an update to the state constitution and state law, which currently define marriage as between a man and a woman. According to the North Dakota Association of Counties, since the June ruling 75 marriage licenses have been granted to same-sex couples throughout the state. Several North Dakota counties are already working to update policies. More here: http://bit.ly/1S2EvLn
AROUND THE WORLD
NEW REPORT: LGBT REFUGEES FACE INCREASED OBSTACLES: When fleeing the horrors of Syria and Iraq, LGBT refugees often find that the fight for survival does not end when they reach refugee camps. They often face homophobia and transphobia at camps, making it difficult for them to access vital services and provisions. The U.K.’s International Development Committee illustrates this in a new report released earlier this week. They worry that LGBT refugees are not registering for services, and lack the emotional and financial support networks necessary to make transitions easier. As the U.K. and other countries commit to accepting additional refugees, ensuring that all refugees have access to services remains of paramount importance. More here: http://bit.ly/1IPqTR6
The Atlantic takes a look at the ongoing debate surrounding LGBT rights and religious freedom….and Health Daily highlights a new study out of Rutgers University that shines a light on the persecution LGBT refugees and asylum seekers face in their homelands.