- October 20, 2017
BREAKING FROM THE AP -- PROMINENT CHEFS, BAKERS JOIN HISTORIC AMICUS BRIEF, SAY BUSINESSES SHOULD BE OPEN TO ALL: Today, The Associated Press announced an innovative new "Chefs for Equality" amicus brief, led by HRC on behalf of the nation’s most prominent chefs, bakers and restaurateurs, to be submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case. The case involves a baker who in 2012 refused to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Last year, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals that bakery owner cannot cite religious beliefs or free speech in order to discriminate against same-sex couples. The case will be heard by the Supreme Court on December 5. Elizabeth Falkner (@ChefFalkner), a top chef tells The AP: "When you’re open to service to people, you can’t decide who to serve and not serve." More about the brief here. More from The Associated Press.
ICYMI -- HRC RELEASES ANNUAL MUNICIPAL EQUALITY INDEX, JOINS CITY LEADERS ACROSS NATION TO CELEBRATE LOCAL EFFORTS TO ENSURE FULL EQUALITY: HRC, in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute, released its sixth annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the only nationwide rating system of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law, policy and services. "This year’s MEI paints a vivid picture: cities big and small, in red and blue states alike, are continuing our progress toward full equality, regardless of the political drama unfolding in Washington, D.C., and in state legislatures across the country," said HRC President Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin). "The MEI serves as a vital tool for business leaders and municipal officials alike when it comes to economic development. The MEI is the best tool to help these businesses make crucial evaluations about the welcoming -- or unwelcoming -- nature of towns and cities across the nation." More from HRC -- and check out this awesome video and storify from yesterday’s launch.
- In Pittsburgh, Griffin joined Mayor Bill Peduto, Dr. Rachel Levine, City Council President Bruce Kraus, leaders from PNC Bank and Equality Pennsylvania to celebrate the city’s score of 100. Peduto also announced that Pittsburgh’s employee medical benefits will now offer full gender affirmation benefits. Read more at Trib Live.
- In Birmingham, Mayor-elect Randall Woodfin and members of the Birmingham Council and Equality Alabama joined Eva Kendrick, Alabama state director for HRC and JoDee Winterhof, HRC’s senior vice president for policy and political affairs to announce the city’s new high score of 83 on the MEI. "Birmingham has made history," Kendrick said. "I am proud of the city I call home." Read the full story from AL.com, and also make sure you check out this op-ed in PennLive by Winterhof.
- And in Tempe, Mayor Mark Mitchell joined Xavier Persad, legislative counsel at HRC, Tempe Tourism, city business leaders and others to celebrate the city’s fourth year of a perfect score, joining Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona’s 100-point MEI club. More from The Arizona Republic.
TOP HEADLINES FROM ACROSS THE NATION: Can being gay-friendly help Birmingham land Amazon? at AL.com; Is North Texas LGBT-friendly? It depends if you live in Dallas or Denton at The Dallas Morning News; The city of Las Vegas received a perfect 100 score in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2017 Municipal Equality Index at the Las Vegas Sun; These are the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in Michigan at Michigan Live; HRC gives Cincinnati perfect score for LGBTQ policies and practices at Fox 19; Pittsburgh improves LGBTQIA Equality Index scores, expands medical coverage for trans employees at WESA;
WEEKEND MUST-WATCH -- NEW DOCUMENTARY SHORT, "SALTWATER BAPTISM": Filmmakers Jared Callahan (@jared_cal) and Russell Sheaffer (@RSheaffer) have created a piece for the New York Times that focuses on Santiago Gonzalez IV, a young gay man and recent college graduate who is navigating a same-sex relationship as a dedicated Christian. Read more at the New York Times, and watch the documentary here.
CBS REPORTS -- "A WORKPLACE EPIDEMIC OF BULLYING LGBT EMPLOYEES": A new survey finds that about four in 10 LGBTQ workers report feeling bullied at work - 11 percentage points higher than the national average of all workers, Aimee Picchi (@aimeepicchi) of CBS’s Moneywatch reports. And such incidents have increased since Trump and Pence were elected and began implementing their anti-LGBTQ agenda, experts say, including banning transgender people from serving in the military, and carrying out a sweeping "license to discriminate" that puts millions of LGBTQ Amerians at risk of discrimination. Read more at CBS News.
BACKLASH CONTINUES OVER CLEVELAND STATE UNIV. PRESIDENT’S RESPONSE TO ANTI-LGBTQ FLIERS: The Chronicle for Higher Education’s Jeremy Bauer-Wolf (@jbeowulf) reports that Ronald Berkman is facing continued criticism over his tepid initial response to the posting of horrifying anti-LGBTQ fliers on the university’s campus. Here’s what HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow told Bauer-Wolf: "It’s disappointing that CSU President Ronald Berkman failed to initially grasp the seriousness of the despicable anti-LGBTQ flyers that appeared on his campus... Universities have an obligation to ensure that students aren’t being harassed and discriminated against." Read more from Inside Higher Ed.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN ENDORSES DANICA ROEM: Vice President Joe Biden is supporting HRC-endorsed candidate Danica Roem in her bid to represent Virginia District 13. If elected, Roem will make history as the first out transgender person seated in a state legislature. Read more via the Washington Blade.
PHILLY’S NEW DIRECTOR OF LGBTQ AFFAIRS AIMS TO UNITE CITY’S COMMUNITY: Amber Hikes (@AmberHikes) says she wants to bring LGBTQ residents of the city together and renew Philadelphia’s advocacy for the LGBTQ community. Read more from The Daily Pennsylvanian.
EARLY VOTING BEGINS IN CHARLOTTE: Yesterday, HRC helped kick off early voting in Charlotte, NC. Early voting continues until October 29.
"THERE’S A RISING GLOBAL TIDE OF CRACKDOWNS ON LGBT COMMUNITIES": In an alarming piece for The Washington Post, Max Bearak reports on authorities in Tajikistan creating a registry of LGBTQ people, part of an operation by federal prosecutors and the Interior Ministry called "Morality" and "Purge." But, Bearak reports, the troubling development is not isolated. "...the phenomenon would not be unique to Tajikistan: Over the past few months, police in Egypt, Azerbaijan, Tanzania, Indonesia and the Russian republic of Chechnya have rounded up people suspected of being gay — and in many cases tortured or publicly humiliated them," he writes, noting that the crackdowns look like "copycats." The targeting of LGBTQ people has worsened over the past year, human rights lawyers and advocates warn. Read more at The Washington Post and at RadioFreeEurope.
- Egypt launches "sweeping crackdown on gay community," reports The Washington Post’s Sudarsan Raghavan (@raghavanWaPo). Security forces "raided cafes in downtown Cairo and courts delivered harsh prison sentences, further driving the nation’s LGBT community underground." Human rights lawyer Doaa Mostafa said, "The targeting of the community was never on this scale before." Read more at The Washington Post.
- HRC sounded the alarm earlier this month on the renewed anti-LGBTQ crackdown in Egypt, where attitudes towards LGBTQ Egyptians have been uniformly hostile.
Vice goes to an LGBTQ Pride festival on the U.S.-Mexico border; HuffPost shares stories from bisexual people who have experienced sexual assault;