- January 10, 2017
NEW HRC REPORT DETAILS AG NOMINEE JEFF SESSIONS’ EXTENSIVE ANTI-LGBTQ RECORD: Ahead of today’s confirmation hearing of President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for United States Attorney General, HRC released a report detailing Senator Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) alarming record on LGBTQ equality. The report was delivered to Members of Congress with a letter from HRC President Chad Griffin calling on Senators to oppose Sessions’ nomination. Sessions has spent his political career aggressively working to deny equality and justice for LGBTQ people. “Donald Trump’s pick for Attorney General has never been shy about showing animus toward all types of Americans -- LGBTQ people, women, people of color, and immigrants -- to name a few,” said HRC President Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin). “Trump’s decision to appoint Sessions for this position is yet another chilling sign that Donald Trump’s administration will stand proudly against equality for LGBTQ Americans. The American people deserve to know about the anti-equality records of Trump’s cabinet picks -- and we at the Human Rights Campaign will be holding them to account.” See HRC’s full report on Sessions here, and Griffin’s letter here. More from CNN.
● Back in Sessions’ home state of Alabama, HRC and the NAACP held press conferences at his state offices, calling on Sessions to withdraw his name from nomination. HRC Alabama State Director Eva Kendrick spoke at the Huntsville event.
● Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) penned an oped for The Boston Globe and appeared on NPR to discuss his opposition to Sessions, speaking first-hand about Sessions’ many attempts to thwart LGBTQ equality on the Senate floor.
HRC RELEASES VIDEO HIGHLIGHTING JEFF SESSIONS’ ANTI-LGBTQ TIRADE AGAINST STUDENT GROUP: This morning, HRC released a new video featuring Cathy, one of the victims of a 1996 public campaign led by then-Alabama Attorney General Jeff Sessions to block an LGBTQ student group from holding a conference at a public university. Donald Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Senator Sessions spoke out publicly and wrote to the University President in failed attempts to thwart the conference at the University of Alabama, which included workshops on HIV prevention, interfaith issues and coming out. Sessions sent a letter to the University President, asking for him or the university's board of trustees to cancel the conference. "I intend to do everything I can to stop that conference," Sessions told the Huntsville Times, saying a state law compelled him to do this. A U.S. District Judge ruled otherwise, saying there was "an open effort by the State Legislature to limit the sexuality discussion in institutions of higher learning to only one viewpoint: that of heterosexual people. This viewpoint limitation violates the First Amendment." The students were forced to challenge the law in court and that Sessions continued to defend it in his capacity as Attorney General until it was found unconstitutional. Watch the full video here.
#THANKSOBAMA -- PRESIDENT TO GIVE FAREWELL ADDRESS TODAY IN CHICAGO: President Barack Obama will deliver his final farewell address today in Chicago, and any look back on his legacy will include his historic support for and action on behalf of LGBTQ people. During his administration, the LGBTQ community has achieved landmark victories -- from the courts to Congress, as well as through the implementation of executive policies that advance basic fairness. Watch HRC’s Twitter for live coverage as we thank him for the countless ways he has advanced equality for LGBTQ Americans. Check out a few of Obama’s important moments for LGBTQ progress and watch HRC’s thank you video here.
- HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride (@SarahEMcBride) personally thanked President Obama in a moving post on Facebook, writing, “Just three months after [coming out as transgender] the Obama Administration invited me in and showed me that I was seen, I was valued, and that our politics and this country had a place for me, too; that I could walk the halls of the White House as my authentic self as an equal...” Read her full post on Facebook.
IN ONE OF ITS FINAL ACTS, OBAMA’S DOJ MOVES TO THROW OUT DECISION THAT HARMS TRANSGENDER PEOPLE: BuzzFeed reports that in one of its last acts under President Obama, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked a federal appeals court to throw out a lower court’s decision blocking enforcement of federal protections barring discrimination in healthcare services based on an individual’s gender identity, as well as reproductive health services. The protections were set to go into effect on January 1. The Obama Administration’s committment to futhering LGBTQ rights through the Department of Justice, was led by champions for equality, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and, since April 2015, Attorney General Loretta Lynch. More from BuzzFeed.
●The administration’s work on equality was also driven by Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett The Washington Blade to talk about the LGBTQ legacy of the Obama years.
TUESDAY TWEET: Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)’s communications director, Matt House (@MattWHouse), reminded Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of his past insistence on thoroughly vetting nominations before their Senate hearings -- a commitment that seems to have evaporated since Donald Trump was elected. Sen. Jeff Sessions and Rex Tillerson, nominated for Secretary of State, begin their confirmation hearings this week.
Sen. McConnell sent Sen. Reid a letter on nominations in 2009. We updated the dates and names and sent it back. pic.twitter.com/nrh4yqqqx5— Matt House (@mattwhouse) January 9, 2017
HRC MOURNS JAMIE LEE WOUNDED ARROW AND INDIA MONROE: Just days after Mesha Caldwell became the first transgender person reported killed this year in the United States, HRC was shocked to learn that another transgender woman, Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, died in an apparent homicide. KSFY reports that Wounded Arrow, 28, was an active member of the Sioux Falls Two-Spirit and Allies group. Friends told the Argus Leader that Wounded Arrow worked in customer service and loved to spend her free time at the library. They remembered her as an honest, compassionate person who made an impact on those who knew her. Additionally, HRC was distressed to learn that India Monroe, a transgender woman, was killed December 21 in Newport News, Virginia. Mic reports that coverage of Monroe’s death identified her by the wrong name and gender. As a result, she had not been counted among 21 other known transgender homicide victims of 2016. More on Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow here and India Monroe here.
SECRETARY KERRY APOLOGIZES FOR ANTI-LGBTQ WITCH HUNT IN STATE DEPARTMENT IN ‘50s and ‘60s: Yesterday, outgoing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry apologized to LGBTQ employees and their families who were targeted, harassed, and fired as part of the infamous “Lavender Scare” witch hunt in the 1950s and 1960s. “Although it is not possible to undo the damage that was done decades ago, Secretary Kerry’s apology sets the right tone for the State Department as it enters a new and uncertain time in our country under a new administration,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. In December, HRC called on the U.S. State Department to apologize for the “Lavender Scare,” echoing a similar letter that Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) sent to Secretary Kerry on November 29. More from HRC and NPR.
FIGHTING FOR LGBTQ EQUALITY IN THE COURTS: When Donald Trump takes the oath of office as president January 20, he will inherit at least 114 federal judicial vacancies — including one on the Supreme Court of the United States — more than double the number passed on to President Obama from his predecessor. Writing in The Advocate, HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow says, “We already know that Trump has pledged to construct a more conservative Supreme Court, including appointing justices in the model of Antonin Scalia — a man who spent his judicial career disparaging LGBTQ Americans. So it should come as no surprise that how Trump chooses to shape his broader judicial legacy is of extreme concern to Americans like those of us in the LGBTQ community who face discrimination and have frequently relied on the judiciary to protect our basic rights from a barrage of legislative and legal attacks. We are among those who could feel the effects of Donald Trump’s judicial appointments most intensely.” Read the full oped here.
BUSINESSES MUST CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR GLOBAL LGBTQ EQUALITY: Yesterday, HRC President Chad Griffin penned an oped for the World Economic Forum on the state of the global LGBTQ movement, and the necessity of global corporate allies in the face of changing global leadership. He wrote, “The momentum behind the global movement for equality is greater now than it has ever been, but with changing political leadership, we have many challenges ahead of us. We must always be mindful that full equality for the LGBTQ community is not a given – it’s a goal we all have to fight for each and every day.” Read the full oped here.
TAIWAN TAKES STEPS TO BAN “CONVERSION THERAPY”: Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare has published draft regulation to ban the dangerous and debunked practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” If the country adopts the regulation following a 30-day comment period, Taiwan could join Malta as the only countries with federal laws banning the dangerous practice of so-called “conversion therapy” on minors. More from Gay Star News.
PAKISTAN TO INCLUDE TRANSGENDER PEOPLE IN NEW NATIONAL CENSUS: The order comes from the Lahore High Court of Pakistan. More from Dawn.