- March 16, 2016
MERRICK GARLAND NOMINATED TO SUPREME COURT: Following the nomination of Chief Justice Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court, HRC has joined a chorus of organizations telling Senators to #DoYourJob. “Americans deserve a full Supreme Court bench, and President Obama's nominee deserves a hearing,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “There is no doubt that Merrick Garland is a highly qualified candidate, and the Senate has a Constitutional responsibility to give him swift and fair consideration. The Supreme Court has a sacred responsibility to uphold the rights of all citizens, and we must hold accountable any politicians who tamper with our nation’s highest court for their own gain.” Judge Garland has served on the federal bench and in public service for almost 25 years. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997, and currently serves as the Chief Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. HRC will continue examining the record of Judge Garland on issues affecting the LGBT community.
WHAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT JOHN KASICH’S ANTI-LGBT RECORD: While he managed to score a win last night in Ohio, Gov. Kasich remains far behind in the Republican delegate count -- and dangerously out of step with the majority of Americans on LGBT equality. According to recent polling from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, Ohioans support marriage equality 53 percent to 40 percent, they support the Equality Act 69 percent to 26 percent and they oppose allowing small businesses to deny service to LGBT customers: 58 percent to 37 percent. From slowing marriage equality to broken promises on non-discrimination for transgender state workers and more, read more about four ways Kasich has blocked LGBT equality. More here: bit.ly/1Uz9oat
ABOUT LAST NIGHT: With Hillary Clinton’s sweep of every primary contest last night, fair-minded voters have begun unifying to defeat whichever one of the remaining anti-LGBT contenders emerges as the Republican nominee. More on HRC’s take here: bit.ly/1QXunT8
BYE FELICIA! MARCO RUBIO ENDS HIS CAMPAIGN: Last night, Marco Rubio conceded to the inevitable, and finally ended his failed presidential campaign. What’s striking is how the candidate who worked so hard to allegedly build a bridge to the “New American Century” was running such a retrograde campaign on LGBT rights -- Rubio not only promised to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would reverse nationwide marriage equality, but he also backed bills that would allow government officials to discriminate and deny service to LGBT people. View the records of Rubio and all the GOP candidates here: hrc.org/2016republicanfacts
NY ATTORNEY GENERAL INVESTIGATING ANTI-LGBT DISCRIMINATION AT NFL: Yesterday, the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called on the NFL to explain and address deeply disturbing reports that some prospective players are being asked inappropriate questions about their sexual orientation. ESPN reported recently that one player attending the NFL Scouting Combine was asked by a coach from the Atlanta Falcons if he was gay. There are no explicit protections against discrimination in employment at the federal level for LGBT people, leaving millions of LGBT workers at risk for being fired or denied a job because of who they are or who they love. All individuals who believe they have experienced discrimination in employment, including during a job interview, to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. More here: nyti.ms/1RO2x8c
KANSAS ON VERGE OF PASSING DISCRIMINATORY LAW THAT TARGETS LGBT COLLEGE STUDENTS: SB 175, a bill that passed in the Kansas House yesterday by a vote of 80-39 would put LGBT college students at risk of discrimination. The bill would allow public universities to continue funding student organizations that discriminate by restricting their membership and denying LGBT students from participating on the grounds of the organization’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.” If the bill passes the full house today as expected, it will proceed to the desk of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, where it could become the first of among nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills introduced this year to be signed into law. More here: bit.ly/1QXGr5t
LEGISLATIVE ASSAULT ON TRANSGENDER STUDENTS MOVES FORWARD IN TENNESSEE: Yesterday, The Tennessee House Education Administration & Planning Subcommittee advanced unanimously on a voice vote HB 2414 – an outrageous bill targeting transgender students in public elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as those in public universities. The measure, which now moves to the full committee for consideration, seeks to force transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity. A subcommittee hearing is also scheduled today on companion legislation in the Senate. Fair-minded Tennesseans; major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; the Tennessee Equality Project; and HRC have been pleading with lawmakers to abandon the discriminatory measure. The proposal is very similar to an appalling bill vetoed recently by Republican South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has expressed concern that the discriminatory, unconstitutional measure would compromise the state’s billions of dollars in federal funding for its schools and universities. His spokesperson also said the governor “trusts our teachers and local school boards to make necessary accommodations” for transgender students. HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow responded to the vote saying, ““Governor Haslam is exactly right: this vicious legislation would needlessly jeopardize millions in federal funding for Tennessee’s schools and universities, and would strip away the ability of local administrators and teachers to do the right thing for students in their communities. There are more than 10,000 transgender students in Tennessee--and they shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of a discriminatory law that will lead to even higher rates of harassment, bullying, and even suicide.” More here: bit.ly/22m4FeZ
KENTUCKY ADVANCES IRRESPONSIBLE ANTI-LGBT RFRA AMENDMENT BILL: Following a vote yesterday by the Kentucky Senate to advance SB 180, HRC and the Fairness Campaign called on the Kentucky House to pull back from the shameful anti-LGBT bill that would put LGBT people -- and Kentuckians of all walks of life -- at risk for discrimination. SB 180 passed the Kentucky Senate 22-16. SB 180 would undermine state and local protections against discrimination for a host of minority communities in Kentucky by allowing businesses like photographers, tailors, engravers, or any other businesses that provide custom goods and services to discriminate and refuse service for any reason. In addition to putting LGBT people at risk for discrimination, under SB 180, single mothers, interfaith couples, interracial couples are all at risk. A bakery could refuse to provide a birthday cake to an African-American, or a photography studio could refuse photographs for a Muslim family under this bill. It would also undermine local non-discrimination protections on the books in the Kentucky cities that have ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination. When similar legislation was taken up in Indiana last year, the debate cost the state as much as $60 million in convention revenue alone from lost business, according to a recent survey. The survey from Visit Indy found that “12 out-of-state groups were surveyed and all said that the state’s controversial religious objections law played a role in their decision to hold their events elsewhere.” More here: bzfd.it/1TM77tC
A HOOSIER’S HOPE FOR 2017: After the Indiana General Assembly failed to pass statewide non-discrimination measures for LGBT Hoosiers, local groups are already planning for the future, stating that public education will be key. Organizations plan on using public education and awareness as their main tool for showing state lawmakers the need to pass such legislation. Chris Paulsen of Freedom Indiana has noted that several lawmakers, notably Republicans, have reached out to the group to learn more about the needs of the LGBT community. Local ordinances across the state are furthering this conversation as state lawmakers look at the needs of their local constituencies. LGBT groups are also focusing their efforts on mobilizing voters to protect pro-equality legislators against opponents of equality and drumming up further support from the business community. More here: bit.ly/1nOcRVB and bit.ly/1QXFFWl
TRANSGENDER NON-DISCRIMINATION IS A FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS: Yesterday, Massachusetts’ Maura Healey, the nation’s first openly LGBT state Attorney General, spoke out in support of legislation that explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in public accommodations in the Bay State. She explained that protecting transgender people from discrimination is truly a fight for civil rights. Healey explained that it was time to “right that wrong” and institute full protections from discrimination based on gender identity. We couldn’t agree more, Maura! More here: bit.ly/1nOaceH
BREVARD PUBLIC SCHOOLS ONE STEP CLOSER TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE NONDISCRIMINATION POLICIES: After the school board failed to adopt a policy adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its nondiscrimination ordinance, LGBT advocates and allies spoke up at yesterday’s school board meeting. The Brevard School Board has had meetings regarding the policy previously, where the superintendent spoke up about the harmful rhetoric used by opponents of the policy. Supporters of the policy also shared their views, including a retired school educator who spoke passionately about her experience with a student who attempted suicide after facing anti-LGBT bullying. The school board has still not made any official decision on the policy. More here: on.flatoday.com/1QXstlo
CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE: Yesterday, members of Vermont’s House of Representative heard from a group of LGBTQ youth who emphasized the need for transgender-inclusive school policies across the state regarding bathrooms and sports teams. The students spoke alongside members of Outright Vermont, a local nonprofit supporting Vermont’s LGBTQ youth. The group then spoke with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who shared Vermont’s role in civil rights. More here: bit.ly/1UfFHfI
AROUND THE WORLD
AUSTRALIA’S MPS REFUSE TO DO THEIR JOBS OUT OF FEAR OF LOSING THEIR JOBS: Australia’s government is giving its citizens mixed-signals about the planned marriage equality plebiscite (referendum), seeming to be holding out until after the federal election. Conservative MPs are demanding widespread and deep exemptions to nondiscrimination laws if the plebiscite moves forward. However, if it is stalled for much longer, budget planning and the election season could put the plebiscite even further off. Current actions seem like a ploy to avoid having politicians take a position on the matter while running for re-election. Hey, Australia MPs, how about doing your jobs rather than playing politics with Australian’s equality? More here: bit.ly/1pnVJam
Bustle profiles Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the first transgender White House LGBT liaison (Congrats Raffi!!); Inside Higher Ed looks at how to improve working conditions for LGBT physicists; and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch chronicles the Missouri Senate battle over an anti-marriage equality proposal.