- April 6, 2016
MISS. GOV. PHIL BRYANT SIGNS DANGEROUS ANTI-LGBT LEGISLATION; JOINS DISGRACED SOUTHERN GOVERNORS: Yesterday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant failed to listen to countless Mississippians, national companies and civil rights groups and signed HB 1523 into law. At a rally Monday evening outside the governor’s mansion, HRC President Chad Griffin joined HRC Mississippi, the ACLU of Mississippi, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Gulf Coast Equality and hundreds of advocates from across Mississippi to urge Governor Bryant to veto HB 1523. Earlier, HRC requested that the governor meet with LGBT Mississippians, but so far that call has gone unanswered -- and advocates were turned away from his office. Speaker Philip Gunn also refused an HRC request that he meet with the LGBT community before the final vote on the discriminatory bill. More from The Washington Post.
COMPANIES CONDEMN THE HOSPITALITY STATE: Major national companies and corporations, including some of the largest employers in Mississippi, are coming out against HB 1523. Nissan Group of North America, Tyson Food Inc, MGM Resorts International and Toyota, are publicly opposing the bill. National corporations, such as AT&T, Levi Strauss & Co, MassMutual, General Electric, and Hyatt Hotel Corporations, have also expressed deep concerns about the discriminatory measure. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has joined an effort to get more CEOs to speak publicly against the law, and top executives from Microsoft and IBM have asserted that the law is bad for business. Benioff is just one of over 130 top executives who have already signed a letter calling for repeal of North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT legislation, HB 2. Backlash against the North Carolina law continued yesterday when PayPal pulled a scheduled expansion from the state, costing North Carolina an estimated 400 jobs. More from the Huffington Post.
GOVERNORS, MAYORS BAN UNESSENTIAL TRAVEL TO MISS.: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray have barred state and city employees from traveling to Mississippi on nonessential official business, in an effort to protect employees against Mississippi’s harsh anti-LGBT law. Similar bans were enacted after North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed sweeping anti-LGBT legislation into law last week. Governor Cuomo, in discussing the ban to Mississippi, said, “Discrimination is not a New York Value. We believe our diversity is our greatest strength, and we will continue to reject the politics of division and exclusion. This Mississippi law is a sad, hateful injustice against the LGBT community, and I will not allow any non-essential official travel to that state until it is repealed." More from Seattle Pi and Syracuse.com.
DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP DENOUNCES MISS. LAW: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz have issued statements blasting the anti-LGBT religious refusal bill signed by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. Pelosi said the Mississippi and North Carolina laws are “going against the tide of progress”. Wasserman Schultz argued that the recent anti-LGBT bills signed by Republican governors are “proof that the Republican Party’s leaders are stuck in the dark ages when it comes to equality and that they’ve been on a divisive path toward destruction since long before Donald Trump ran for president”. Hoyer questioned the legality of these religious freedom measures, saying, “These types of laws, while purporting to protect Americans’ constitutional rights, in reality run counter to the very principles that our Constitution enshrines.” While Democrats are backing the Equality Act, which would guarantee federal protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, the Republican National Committee has endorsed the anti-LGBT First Amendment Defense Act. More from The Washington Blade.
LOCAL TRANS ADVOCATE DENOUNCES NC HB 2: North Carolina resident and transgender advocate Candis Cox-Daniels has vehemently denounced her home state’s shameful HB 2, the anti-LGBT legislation that lawmakers passed in a hurried, single-day session and Governor Pat McCrory signed into law. “This is setting us back. We are literally allowing discrimination to take place, and we are sanctioning it with a law,” Cox-Daniels said in an exclusive interview with HRC. “We are forcing people back into the closet and we are putting people’s lives in jeopardy.” Cox-Daniels says the bill makes her feel villainized and like a second-class citizen, compelling her to speak up about its detrimental effects and to explain to those who may not understand the day-to-day impacts that people face. “I am very fortunate and blessed that I have a wonderful support system,” said Cox-Daniels. “But for a lot of trans people, being open about their status, especially in the public eye, is not something they can do for their own personal reasons. Someone had to stand up and say what this bill actually does. I didn’t think anyone would listen to me, but apparently they have.”
IF DOCTOR ORDERS, GAY AND BISEXUAL MEN STICK TO HIV-PREVENTION DRUG REGIMEN: A new survey shows that gay and bisexual men using the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada to prevent infection with HIV adhere to their doctor-ordered regimen better than expected, but too few doctors are prescribing the once-daily pill. Reuters Health reports that survey investigators at the annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in Washington told attendees that “men are willing and able to take a daily pill, so it is important to talk to those who could benefit and [to] increase prescription rates.” Out of more than 1,000 gay and bisexual men surveyed, only 83, or fewer than one in 10, reported that they use HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The findings are from One Thousand Strong, a three-year observational study of a U.S. national sample of gay and bisexual men ages 18 to 80 that is now underway. More from Reuters.
FINALLY!!: Four-time Olympic diving gold medalist and five-time world champion Greg Louganis will finally take his rightful place where so many amazing athletes have been before -- on the front of the Wheaties box. The openly-gay and HIV-positive athlete is getting the recognition he deserves, after a notable decades-long career and serving as an inspiration to countless aspiring and accomplished athletes. Considering that LGBT history is so often erased from the public eye, bringing the courageous and inspiring story of a prominent LGBT athlete into the spotlight is an encouraging step. Louganis will appear on Wheaties new “legends” cereal box series, after a Change.org petition was created asking the company to include him. The petition garnered nearly 45,000 signatures. More from National Public Radio.
ANTI-LGBT ACTIVISTS IN GEORGIA LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED: National Review takes a deep dive into Georgia and concludes public opinion is shifting. “But it may be that in present-day Georgia, where two-thirds of voters support anti-discrimination laws to protect gays and lesbians, an aggressive campaign from a group such as the Faith & Freedom Coalition simply doesn’t have the muscle it might once have had. The landscape is a far cry from, say, the 1980s, when politicians lobbied hard for the support of the Christian Coalition and Moral Majority, or even from 2004, when a gay-marriage ban claimed support from 76 percent of voters.” More from National Review.
ECONOMIC FUTURE OF TENN. AT RISK AS ANTI-LGBT BILLS GET HEARINGS: Two anti-LGBT bills face votes in Tennessee, while major economic and political fallout continues to grow in North Carolina over an anti-equality law its legislature passed recently. House Bill 2414 and its Senate companion, SB 2387, would deny transgender students in Tennessee access to bathrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. These disturbing and unnecessary bills apply to all public schools, both K-12 and public universities in the state. Tennessee is at risk of losing at least $1 billion in education funding since it would put Tennessee schools in direct violation of Title IX. Today, the House Education Administration & Planning committee could consider a motion to reconsider their actions from a previous hearing where legislators decided to study HB 2414 over the summer before making a decision. If the committee agrees to reconsider their action, the bill would move forward again, putting this dangerous piece of anti-transgender legislation back on track toward passing the House. Also today, the House will consider HB 1840 which would allow licensed counselors in private practice to use their own religious beliefs as an excuse for terminating care or referring away clients because of moral objections to how they identify. This bill has already passed the Senate despite testimony at hearings opposing this bill and is dangerously close to becoming law. More on this on HRC’s blog and from Knoxville News Sentinel.
IL TRANS BIRTH CERTIFICATE BILL MOVES TO HOUSE FLOOR: Yesterday, the Illinois House Human Services Committee passed a bill that would allow transgender Illinoisans to change their gender marker on their birth certificates more easily. The bill, HB 6073, passed 8-6 and will now move to the House floor for a vote. This bill will allow transgender people to change their gender marker without requiring any form of surgery -- an unnecessary measure that many transgender people do not want or cannot afford. Rep. Greg Harris, who is gay and introduced this bill, noted that the legislation could positively impact about 49,000 people in the state. More from Windy City Times.
AROUND THE WORLD
DONT MESS WITH MADRID: The Spanish soccer league is calling a “foul” on anti-LGBT slurs and racism. Citing incidents of anti-gay slurs and harsh chanting directed mostly at soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, the league filed a report with the Spanish government’s Committee Against Violence, Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Sport. This has LGBT advocates and allies screaming “GOOOOAAAAALLLL!” More from USA Today.
Time shares a Princeton professor’s opinion that Mississippi’s anti-LGBT bill is bigotry disguised as faith; Huffington Post highlights a new documentary series elevating LGBT heroes; BuzzFeed covers Southern GOP Senators distancing themselves from the anti-LGBT law debate; and The Washington Post shares the inspiring story of a Methodist minister’s unique quest to persuade his denomination to live up to its “big tent” claim by embracing marriage equality.