ALL EYES ON HOUSTON, HERO IS ON THE BALLOT TODAY: Today, Houstonians will head to the ballot box to vote on Proposition 1 to defend the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which protects 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. Yesterday, faith leaders across various denominations gathered outside of Grace Lutheran Church in Houston, showcasing the broad religious support for the ordinance. Attendees included Rev. Jenni Martin Fairbanks, Rev. Vicky Gibbs, Rabbi Joshua Herman of Congregation Beth Israel, Rev. Ron Lister of The International Center for Spiritual and Social Activism and Rabbi Joshua Herman. Faith leaders have been at the forefront of efforts to pass HERO. Last week, 16 congregations participated in Souls to the Polls, a day of action to raise the voices of people of faith in Houston. In September, Houston Unites released a video of faith leaders endorsing HERO. Watch here:

NEW YORK TIMES ED BOARD CALLS FOR YES VOTE ON HERO: Yesterday, the New York Times Editorial Board outlined its support for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which is on the ballot today. The newspaper stated, “It is unfortunate that on Tuesday, Houston voters will be asked if they want to keep or repeal the city’s strong and enlightened equal rights ordinance, which was approved by the City Council last year and put on hold pending this week’s vote….Houston residents should not succumb to that ugly fearmongering. Those who vote “yes” to retaining the ordinance will be affirming the city’s most valuable asset: its longstanding culture of inclusiveness…” Read the full editorial here:

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT RULES THAT ILLINOIS SCHOOL DISTRICT BROKE ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS: Yesterday, the United States Department of Education ruled that an Illinois school district broke anti-discrimination laws by refusing to grant a transgender student who identifies as female and participates in girls sports, unrestricted access to the girls’ locker room. The school has a month to comply or runs the risk of losing federal funding. According to Reuters, “The district says transgender students may use their gender-identified locker room if they change and shower privately. The government said a separate changing place was discriminatory because it subjected the student to stigma and different treatment. The case is seen as clarifying federal rules on locker-room access at a time of expanding awareness of transgender issues.” John Knight of the ACLU of Illinois who is representing the student said, “What our client wants is not hard to understand: She wants to be accepted for who she is and to be treated with dignity and respect — like any other student. The district’s insistence on separating my client from other students is blatant discrimination. Rather than approaching this issue with sensitivity and dignity, the district has attempted to justify its conduct by challenging my client’s identity as a girl.” The Obama Administration has become a stalwart supporter of transgender equality. Just last week, the Administration filed an amicus brief supporting a transgender student in his lawsuit against Virginia’s Gloucester County School District, which continues to deny him use of the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity. Read more here: and

A.M. MUST READ ON THE PUSH FOR LOCAL NONDISCRIMINATION ORDINANCES: Today’s must read comes from Miles Bryan at NPR, who’s taken an in-depth look at the push for LGBT non-discrimination ordinances at the local level in places like Laramie, WY. Bryan explains, “Laramie is one of a growing number of cities and counties that have passed their own measures to protect gay and lesbian people. Here in Wyoming, and in other conservative-led states like Florida and Idaho, state-level bills meant to protect LGBT people have been repeatedly voted down, or stalled out in committee.” This "patchwork for protection" showcases the need for the Equality Act, a federal bill which would provide explicit, permanent protections in federal law against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, access to public spaces, housing, education, jury service, credit and federal funding.More here:


NORTHERN IRELAND VOTE IN FAVOR OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY IS VETOED: Yesterday, while the majority of assemblymen in the Northern Ireland voted in favor of marriage equality, the assembly’s largest chamber vetoed the motion using a mechanism called a “petition of concern.” This is the fifth time the chamber has voted on marriage equality and the fifth time it has been rejected, making Northern Ireland the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex couples still cannot legally get married. Read more here and

WINNIPEG SCHOOL DIVISION VOTES TO ADOPT TRANS INCLUSIVE POLICIES: Winnipeg School Division (WSD) in Manitoba, Canada, has unanimously voted for the creation of an inclusive policy to support transgender and gender nonconforming students. According to CTV News, “WSD already has anti-bullying and non-discrimination policies that encompass transgender students…The policy will lay out procedure for language use, participation in sports teams and bathroom and change room use.” Read more here:


Anti-LGBT extremist Franklin Graham made headlines this week during his visit to Russia. He praised Russian President Putin’s notorious anti-LGBT “propaganda” law, and explained that the hateful legislation is used to “protect” children. Graham is no stranger to the wrong side of history. He has repeatedly made headlines for his verbal attacks on LGBT people. Recently he called for a boycott of LGBT-friendly businesses, after Wells Fargo’s commercial showed a lesbian couple learning sign language before adopting their deaf daughter.  More here:


MLive previews why the vote on HERO is important to LGBT activists in Michigan… and The New York Times takes a look at same-sex couples seeking fertility benefits.

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Pol. Adv. Human Rights Campaign

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