#AM_Equality Tipsheet: April 12, 2017

by Allison Turner

Sec. of State must address anti-gay Chechnya murders while in Russia; Hey Mark Green -- LGBTQ lives aren’t just ‘politics’

DURING RUSSIA TRIP, SEC. OF STATE MUST ADDRESS MURDERS OF GAY MEN IN CHECHNYA: HRC is calling on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to address with Russian officials -- including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov -- the horrifying detention and murders of gay men in Russia-controlled Chechnya. New reports from a Russian LGBTQ advocacy group confirmed that gay men are being sent to “secret prisons.” This report follows Russian newspaper accounts last week that countless men were being arrested and at least three killed by Chechen police, “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such.” Several reports have described the prisons as “detention centers,” noting that at least one is located in Argun, 12 miles from the Chechen capital of Grozny. Last week, HRC President Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) sent a letter to Tillerson, urging him to take steps to stop the mass arrests of men accused of being gay in the Russian republic of Chechnya. The Chechen authorities have refused to stop the arrests, with one government spokesman denying that there are LGBTQ people in Chechnya, saying, “You cannot arrest and repress those who simply aren’t in the Republic.” The Russian government has also refused to intervene, telling the victims to “file official complaints and go to court,” where they are highly unlikely to get a fair hearing. More from HRC and The Washington Blade.

HEY, MARK GREEN -- LGBTQ LIVES AREN’T JUST  “POLITICS”: In his first public statement since being picked by Trump as his nominee for Secretary of the Army, extremist anti-LGBTQ Tennessee State Senator Mark Green had the gall to say this of his countless attacks on the LGBTQ community, "I was nominated by President Trump to do one job: serve as his Secretary of the Army. If confirmed, I will solely focus on making recommendations to him on how to keep our country safe and secure. Politics will have nothing to do with it." Here’s  a sampling of the ugly and dangerous anti-LGBTQ positions Green as advanced -- as just “politics”: He’s described former President Obama’s guidance protecting transgender students as an example of “tyrannical government,” said that being transgender is a “disease”, encouraged the state of Tennessee to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court ruled in Oberfell v. Hodges, and equated transgender people to rapists and pedophiles. As a State Senator, Green supported legislation giving businesses a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people, sponsored several anti-transgender bills, and opposed state nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation. If confirmed, Green would succeed former Secretary of the U.S. Army Eric Fanning, who made history as the first openly gay leader of a branch of the U.S. military. More from Army Times.

  • From the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” to allowing transgender service members to serve openly, the US Military made strides for LGBTQ equality during the Obama Administration. Mark Green’s record shows he will not remain committed to furthering equality in the Army.

WHAT WE’RE READING WEDNESDAY: Lara Americo (@1bodyPerLife) has spent most of her life in North Carolina, but now fears simply existing in the state because she is a transgender woman of color. Following the passage of the discriminatory HB2, and then the backroom deal that led to the egregious HB142,  Lara has experienced the increased danger to the transgender community. She tells Mother Jones’ Samantha Michaels (@SJMichaels), “A majority of people who don't really follow the issues that closely, they think there's been a repeal. But I don't think it was a repeal -- I think transgender people are in even more danger now. When you don't allow cities to give people protections, you put people in danger. Our state government made it clear that they put profit and sports ahead of our safety, and that mentality trickles down. We still don't have the protections we need -- all we have is a spotlight on us, so that people who don't like us can target us.” Read the full piece at Mother Jones.

NC GOP INTRODUCES BILL UNDERMINING MARRIAGE EQUALITY: The bill, HB780, seeks to reinstate an amendment to the state’s constitution saying that marriage must be only between one man and one woman. Adopted in 2012, the amendment was struck down by a federal court in 2014, months prior to Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that made marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states. This is just the latest of several attacks by the North Carolina General Assembly on the LGBTQ community. Recently, a backroom deal between the NC GOP and NC Governor Roy Cooper resulted in HB 142 -- which replaced the radical HB2 with yet another discriminatory, anti-transgender, bathroom bill. It bans local LGBTQ non-discrimination protections statewide through 2020 and substitutes the previous anti-transgender provisions with a new provision that forbids state agencies, public universities, primary and secondary schools, and cities from adopting policies ensuring transgender people have access to restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. More from The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

FOSTER PARENT SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ALABAMA’S ANTI-LGBTQ FOSTER CARE BILL: Angela Sherbine and her husband have fostered children in Alabama for nearly a decade -- and now she is speaking out against a law that could prevent same-sex couples from doing the same. Last month, the Alabama House of Representatives advanced the discriminatory HB 24 to the Alabama Senate. The bill, deceptively titled the “Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act,” would enshrine taxpayer-funded discrimination into Alabama law by allowing state-funded and licensed adoption and foster care agencies to reject prospective LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents based on the agency’s religious beliefs. Sherbine writes, “In a state where there are simply not enough foster parents to give every child a home, the last thing lawmakers should do is empower private agencies needlessly to turn away qualified foster parents.” Read the full piece from The Montgomery Advertiser.

NEW REPORT -- ANTI-TRANS LAWS HAVE DEVASTATING EFFECTS ON TRANS CHILDREN: The report, from the Movement Advancement Project and GLSEN, in partnership with the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Education Association, shows that 75 percent of transgender students feel unsafe in schools; 70 percent avoid using public restrooms out of fear; 60 percent have been forced to use a restroom inconsistent with their gender identity; and 50 percent do not have their name or pronouns respected in their school. More from USA Today.

HRC URGES MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS TO MAKE THEIR VOICES HEARD DURING CONGRESSIONAL RECESS: While Members of Congress are back in their districts through April 23, HRC is urging its members and supporters to make sure their opinions on LGBTQ equality are heard. Constituents can attend town halls or request a meeting with their representative and senators in their district offices. For more information, watch here and share.

TUNISIAN POLICE ACCESS PRIVATE SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS TO TARGET LGBTQ PEOPLE FOR ARREST: A same-sex couple was arrested in Tunisia -- where same-sex sexual activity is punishable by up to three years in prison -- after police looked at private messages that the men sent to each other on Facebook. More from Erasing 76 Crimes.

SHAMEFUL -- OKLAHOMA HOUSE STAFFER SENDS EMAIL CALLING LGBTQ STUDENTS “CROSS-DRESSERS”: This week, 70 LGBTQ students were among young people who went to the Oklahoma State Capitol to talk to their elected officials about the need for funding for HIV prevention efforts. A House staffer in charge of the capitol’s page program sent an ugly mass email, saying “there are cross-dressers in the building.” Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall responded “As Speaker, all Oklahomans should feel welcome in the Oklahoma Capitol building. We are looking into this matter, and it will be taken seriously.” More from Advocate.


The Huffington Post interviews Bahar Akyurtlu, a transgender teacher, on how her job has changed since Trump’s inauguration; NBC explores the LGBTQ Executive Leadership Program at Stanford Graduate School of Business; The Today Show tells the story of the Texas mother of a transgender child fighting for her daughter’s rights;

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A.M. Equality