HRC RELEASES FIRST CEI TO RATE GLOBAL LGBT WORKPLACE INCLUSION: Today, HRC has announced the results of this year’s edition of its Corporate Equality Index (CEI), America’s premiere benchmarking tool for assessing LGBT equality in the workplace. For the first time in its 14-year history, the 2016 CEI required that top-scoring companies have a global non-discrimination policy or code of conduct that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This year’s results showcase how hundreds of U.S.-based multinational companies are not only promoting LGBT-friendly workplace policies in the U.S., but also helping to advance the cause of LGBT equality around the globe. Even with the demanding new global criteria, the response from Fortune 500 companies and the nation’s top law firms was nothing short of remarkable: a record-breaking 407 businesses were awarded the CEI’s top score of 100 this year. HRC President Chad Griffin joined leading, global American companies in Atlanta -- including Delta Airlines, Lockheed Martin, and Newell Rubbermaid -- to release the results of the 2016 CEI. Tomorrow, Griffin will travel to Mexico City to join with leading U.S. companies with major employee bases in Mexico -- including Dow, IBM and American Express -- for an international event held in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy and Pride Connection, a consortium of Mexican LGBT workplace advocates. HRC has been working with these companies and other partners in Mexico City, including the American Chamber of Commerce, on how the U.S. business community can help drive positive progress toward LGBT equality in the workplace globally. The full report is available online at www.hrc.org/cei.

CONGRESSIONAL LGBT EQUALITY CAUCUS ANNOUNCES TRANSGENDER EQUALITY TASK FORCE: Yesterday morning, ahead of the first ever Congressional Forum on anti-transgender violence, HRC President Chad Griffin participated in a press conference with House lawmakers to announce the launch of a new task force dedicated to transgender equality. Chaired by Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), the bipartisan task force includes GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla), spoke out about family acceptance with her transgender son, Rodrigo, in an interview with Telemundo, where she shared her family’s journey.  During yesterday’s forum, Griffin testified before Congress, emphasizing the need to implement and enforce legislation that will protect transgender Americans and curb the rampant violence against their community. Last week HRC also released a joint comprehensive report with the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) on the epidemic of violence against transgender people,particularly transgender women of color. In addition to new recommendations, HRC has identified additional opportunities to strengthen reporting and help combat violence. More here: More here: http://bit.ly/1Of4Di7 and http://huff.to/1kEzc7B


INDIANA REPUBLICANS PROPOSE LGBT PROTECTIONS BILL WITH RELIGIOUS FREEDOM “COMPROMISE”: Republicans in the Indiana Senate have introduced a bill that they say will grant non-discrimination protections to LGBT people, while strengthening religious freedom protections. According to the Indy Star, “The bill explicitly protects religious leaders such as pastors, priests and rabbis from being required to perform marriages for same-sex couples. It also includes exemptions for churches and religious-affiliated institutions such as private universities, adoption agencies and day care providers. Transgender people would be required to live as their preferred gender for a year or receive a medical opinion before filing a discrimination complaint. The measure would also create a $1,000 penalty for "frivolous" discrimination complaints and prohibit local governments from enacting stricter non-discrimination ordinances.” Activists are already calling the bill problematic for giving some institutions a license to discriminate and treating sexual orientation and gender identity differently from other protected classes such as race and religion. Several polls, including one Tuesday commissioned by former Angie’s List chief Bill Oesterle found that Hooisers continue to support protections for the LGBT people. LGBT nondiscrimination protections has been a leading issue in the Hoosier State since March when Governor Mike Pence signed a discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law. The Associated Press is reporting that Gov. Pence says he has not yet reviewed the bill. More here: http://indy.st/1WYNkJR

HORRIFIC NEW TRANSPHOBIC ADS TO AIR IN HOUSTON: The anti-LGBT activists who were behind the defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), have released yet another disgraceful, misleading and fundamentally false ad urging Houstonians to vote against City Council candidates who were for HERO in December 12’s runoff election.  The disturbing clip yet again portrays transgender Americans as predators, peddling the ridiculous assertion that HERO would have changed the fact that it is illegal to enter a restroom to harm or harass other people. If sustained, the local ordinance would have 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, but opponents used scare tactics and fear mongering to mislead voters on its intended purpose. Watch here: http://bit.ly/1SDL9ER

SCALIA DISGRACEFULLY CRITICIZES LEGAL PROTECTIONS FOR LGBT PEOPLE DRAWING LINK TO RIGHTS OF CRIMINALS AND PEDOPHILES: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is still outraged about the legalization of marriage equality this past June. At an event at the Georgetown University Law Center on Monday, Justice Scalia made the ridiculous assertion that the logic behind SCOTUS granting legal protections to LGBT people, is no different than choosing to grant legal protections to pedophiles. “What? It’s up to me to identify deserving minorities?" Scalia said. “What about pederasts? What about child abusers?” These claims are not only erroneous but dangerous and extremely harmful. Scalia has a long history of making bigoted anti-LGBT comments throughout his tenure on the bench, and has dissented every major victory for the LGBT movement since the Court’s 1996 decision overturning a Colorado amendment that would have prevented LGBT inclusive protections from being enacted. For months since the Supreme Court ruling this Summer Scalia has gone on a tirade lamenting the decision wherever possible. More here: http://nyti.ms/1l5QVnM and http://bit.ly/1NDxWIo

STATE SNAPSHOT

OKLAHOMA SUPREME COURT EXPANDS RIGHTS OF SAME-SEX COUPLES: On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court handed down a major victory for LGBT advocates in the state. In a landmark ruling, the court expanded the rights of same-sex couples by ruling that custodial rights to children of same-sex couples in a union before same-sex marriage was legalized can be granted. According to Tulsa World, “The state’s high court ruled that an Oklahoma County judge improperly dismissed the case of Oklahoma City resident Charlene Ramey. The court reversed that decision and remanded the case for further proceedings so Ramey could pursue a hearing on custody and visitation of the child, who was born in 2005.” The court ruled 9-0 that Ramey had standing as a parent to petition a district court for determination of parental rights and custody. Brady Henderson, legal director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, who represented Ramey championed the victory saying, “It is a big deal, and it is particularly a big deal for many gay couples out there who couldn’t get married and yet had children. This opinion makes it clear courts can’t penalize those children for having gay parents.” More here: http://bit.ly/1MBoJAy

MISSISSIPPI FIRST: LAW ENFORCEMENT RECEIVING TRANS-INCLUSIVE TRAINING: Yesterday, officers across the state of Mississippi received a first of it’s kind training specifically focused on addressing the needs of the transgender community, with the aim of teaching them how to effectively communicate with and serve a “more diverse population.” Cindy Eldridge of the U.S. Attorney’s Office told WXXV, “We’re hoping that law enforcement will feel free to ask us questions so that we can just have a conversation to help them collaborate with these groups of people as opposed to always being adversaries. They don’t have to be adversaries. We’re hoping that we can build relationships here today and build collaboration between law enforcement, our office and the transgender community.”The training was sponsored by the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the USM Alliance for Equality with the assistance of the ACLU. A second training is scheduled for tomorrow. More here: http://bit.ly/1WYNCAa

SALT LAKE CITY ELECTS OPENLY GAY MAYOR: All the votes have been counted and Jackie Biskupski is officially the new Mayor of Salt Lake City, beating incumbent Ralph Becker by a 3 point margin. Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah praised the news, "Her victory sends a powerful message to all LGBTQ Utahns that their sexual orientation will never be a limitation to public service. We look forward to working alongside Mayor-elect Biskupski to advance policies that will benefit all Utahns." In 1998, Biskupski was also the first LGBT person elected to the Utah State Legislature where she served for seven terms. More here: http://bit.ly/1MSwDcg

MOMENTUM CONTINUES FOR TRANS RIGHTS BILL IN MASSACHUSETTS: Yesterday, Massachusetts House Speaker Robert Deleo announced his support for a transgender rights bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender people in public spaces in Massachusetts. There is already a law in the state protecting transgender people from discrimination in employment and housing. Momentum is growing for the passage of this bill, which has support from U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Attorney General Maura Healey, but Governor Charlie Baker has yet to get behind it. More here: http://bit.ly/1MSwINh

AROUND THE WORLD

COLOMBIAN HIGH COURT MAY LEGALIZE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: According to the Gay Star News, Colombia’s Constitutional Court is expected to rule on legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. As many as 6 of the 9 justices are reportedly in favor of granting marriage rights to same-sex couples. Earlier this month, the Court legalized adoption by same-sex couples and ruled that adoption agencies could not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. More here: http://bit.ly/1H8xN36

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE SUPPORTED IN TASMANIAN LOWER HOUSE: Today, after an extended debate, the Tasmanian Lower House voted 15-9 in favor of a motion supporting same-sex marriage. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “The motion leads to no legislative change, but was designed to send a message to the nation's capital.” More here: http://ab.co/1X7AfbV
 

READING RAINBOW

The Huffington Post points out how Charlie Sheen's threatened ‘outing' showcases the stigma against HIV… Autostraddle shares the complete history of transgender characters in American comic books.

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