SD LAWMAKERS ADVANCE BILL TO ALLOW TAXPAYER-FUNDED ANTI-LGBTQ DISCRIMINATION AT ADOPTION AGENCIES: Yesterday, HRC strongly condemned a vote by the South Dakota Senate Health and Human Services Committee advancing discriminatory legislation targeting LGBTQ people and other minorities. Senate Bill (SB) 149 would enshrine taxpayer-funded discrimination into state law by allowing state-funded adoption and foster care agencies to reject qualified, prospective LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents based on the agency’s purported religious beliefs. “This shameful attack on LGBTQ people could have serious intended and unintended consequences for those who call South Dakota home,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “SB 149 would give state-funded adoption agencies a ‘license to discriminate’ with taxpayer money by refusing to place children in desperate need of loving homes with LGBTQ couples, single people, divorced people, or even those of a different faith. Decisions about prospective parents should be based on the best interest of the child, not on discriminatory factors unrelated to good parenting. The Senate should abandon this reckless proposal.” More from HRC.

HRC HAILS CHALLENGE OF ARKANSAS RULING DENYING SAME-SEX COUPLES’ PARENTAL RIGHTS: The petition, filed yesterday with the Supreme Court of the United States, challenges a decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court that seeks to deny same-sex couples equal parental rights. The challenge was filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Ropes & Gray, LLP and Arkansas attorney Cheryl Maples. The Arkansas Supreme Court decision in Pavan v. Smith, handed down in December, banned the state’s Department of Health from listing both same-sex parents on their child’s birth certificate. “Children deserve to have the full benefits of parental recognition from the time they are born. It is clear that including both married spouses’ names -- regardless of whether they are same-sex or opposite sex -- on a child’s birth certificate is exactly the kind of benefit of marriage that the United States Supreme Court has already ruled should be extended to same-sex couples and their families,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “HRC is confident that the if the Court hears this case, it will uphold this right for same-sex couples in Arkansas.” More from HRC.

ACCLAIMED AUTHOR AND NY TIMES COLUMNIST CHARLES BLOW TO SPEAK AT HRC’S TIME TO THRIVE CONFERENCE: Author and New York Times columnist Charles Blow, whose writing bravely explores issues of social justice, politics and equality, will be a featured speaker at HRC’s annual Time to THRIVE Conference -- the nation’s premier gathering for K-12 educators, professional counselors and other youth-serving professionals on LGBTQ youth safety, inclusion and well-being. “Charles Blow has made a career of using his powerful voice to raise urgent issues of race, class, gender and sexual orientation, while holding accountable the powerful whose actions disproportionately affect the lives of the most vulnerable among us,” said Ellen Kahn, Director of the HRC Foundation’s Children, Youth & Families Program. “His decision to come out as bisexual in his brave and honest memoir is an inspiration to so many, and we are honored to have him join us at Time to THRIVE.” His critically-acclaimed New York Times bestselling memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, in which he movingly relates his struggle with coming out as bisexual, won a Lambda Literary Award and the Sperber Prize, and was included on multiple prominent lists of best books published in 2014. More from HRC.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Artist Keith Haring died on this day in 1990 from AIDS-related complications. Haring's images provided visibility for some of the biggest social justice issues of our time -- from the devastating HIV and AIDS epidemic, to apartheid. He also created the iconic image associated with National Coming Out Day. Twenty-seven years after his death, the Keith Haring Foundation is ensuring that his legacy, his art and his ideals live on.

CORRECT THE RECORD -- TX AND NC LT. GOVERNORS JOIN HATE GROUP TO SPREAD LIES ABOUT TRANSPHOBIC LEGISLATION: Yesterday, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest joined the Family Research Council (FRC), an SPLC-designated hate group, to spread lies about anti-LGBTQ -- and, in particular, anti-transgender -- legislation in their respective states. FRC falsely asserts that transgender people “threaten the public safety of women and children” under laws guaranteeing their legal rights and protections. The truth is that transgender people face exponentially higher levels of discrimination, harassment and even violence than non-transgender people, often driven by harmful and misleading propaganda disseminated by hate groups like FRC. HRC responded on Twitter to this confab of anti-LGBTQ extremists by sharing real facts about the fallout from the anti-transgender HB2 law in NC, and a similar proposal in Texas. Read the tweets here.

ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM (ADF) EARNS “HATE GROUP” DESIGNATION BY THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: HRC has documented how ADF, which employs thousands of lawyers, is using its vast resources -- including an annual budget of more than $50 million -- to promote laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people throughout the U.S. and in 31 countries including Belize, Jamaica and India. Many of these efforts seek to retain national laws that criminalize consensual adult same-sex relations -- by prison terms -- or laws that defend existing anti-sodomy laws. ADF pushes an aggressively anti-transgender message that includes litigation to institutionalize discrimination against transgender people, and it has undermined efforts to prevent bullying against LGBTQ youth by targeting school districts that teach tolerance. Additionally, the group supports those who seek to discriminate against LGBTQ people under the guise of religious freedom. More from SPLC.

TIME EXPLORES LGBTQ COMMUNITY’S POST-ELECTION FEARS: Since the election of Donald Trump, LGBTQ people are feeling vunerable. This is especially true for LGBTQ people who are Muslim, immigrants, refugees, women, Latinx, Jewish or disabled. Katy Steinmetz of TIME shares the story of Greta Martela, a transgender woman who fears for the future of herself and her wife -- a transgender immigrant. Just last week, the Trump Administration withdrew a request to halt an order against the Obama administration’s protections for transgender students. This action will effectively continue to halt the protections nationwide. More from TIME.

Today on the Hill: The Senate is expected to hold a confirmation vote at 10:30 AM ET on Rep. Mick Mulvaney to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney has served in the Congress since 2011 and has earned a “zero” on every one of HRC’s Congressional Scorecards issued since he's been in office.

HRC MOURNS JOJO STRIKER, TRANS WOMAN MURDERED IN OHIO: HRC was deeply saddened to learn that JoJo Striker, a transgender woman, was found killed in Toledo, Ohio, on February 8. Striker, 23, was found shot dead in an empty parking garage. Police do not yet have a suspect or a motive for her murder, but the case is under investigation. Striker’s mother, Shanda Striker, described her as “funny and entertaining” and said her family loved her deeply. “I just have a plea to the community: if you know something, anything, please stand up,” she told WTOL 11. Initial media reports identified Striker by the wrong gender, Mic reported. In some cases, law enforcement, local media, or family and friends misidentify a victim’s gender—as they did with Striker. In others, they may report the victim’s gender correctly but not disclose the fact that they were transgender. More from HRC.

WINDY CITY TIMES REVEALS REP. LIPINSKI’S CHECKERED VOTING HISTORY ON LGBTQ ISSUES: In an in-depth report, Matt Simonette of the Windy City Times details Rep. Dan Lipinski’s (D-IL) questionable history on LGBTQ issues -- including his 2011 opposition to marriage equality, and his support in 2013 for a domestic violence bill that would have stripped protections for LGBTQ people and illegal aliens. Lipinski had the lowest score of any House Democrat on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard for the most recent Congress. Read the full report here, starting on page six.

ICYMI -- ANTI-LGBTQ ACTIVIST COMPARES LGBTQ ADVOCATES TO NAZIS, HRC RESPONDS: On Tuesday, anti-LGBTQ extremist Bryan Fischer referred to those in the “homosexual movement” as “Brownshirts,” referencing members of an early Nazi militia founded by Adolf Hitler. Reminder: the Nazis had a history of persecuting LGBTQ people. More from Right Wing Watch. Also, HRC sent him a message back:

GLOBAL FREEDOMS CONTINUE TO DECLINE: In its annual Freedom in the World’ survey and report, Freedom House documented the 11th consecutive year of decline in global freedoms. The report measures civil liberties and political rights in every country in the world. Of note: “[A]uthoritarian powers engaged in brazen acts of aggression, while populist and nationalist forces made significant gains in democratic states. Established democracies dominated the list of countries suffering setbacks in the past year.” More from HRC.

PERUVIAN LEGISLATORS INTRODUCE MARRIAGE EQUALITY BILL ON VALENTINE’S DAY: This bill would allow same-sex couples the right to recognition of their right to marry. Marriage equality is currently legal in 20 countries worldwide. More from On Top Magazine.

READING RAINBOW

Erasing 76 Crimes takes a look at a new coalition of LGBTQI organizations in the eastern Caribbean…

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Filed under: A.M. Equality, Community

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