#AM_Equality Tipsheet: April 20, 2017

by Allison Turner

Top TX House Dem to NFL & NBA -- “Strongly Oppose” anti-trans bills; Whip Hoyer calls on US to act on anti-gay murders by Chechen police

TOP TEXAS HOUSE DEM CALLS ON NFL AND NBA TO “STRONGLY OPPOSE” ANTI-TRANS BILLS: Texas Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, sent letters to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver asking them to speak out against anti-transgender bills raised in the state legislature that would prevent people from using facilities consistent with their gender identity. Turner writes in one letter, “Laudably, the NFL has taken a strong stance over the last several years in opposing similar discriminatory measures. In keeping with this stance, it seems natural you would also strongly oppose HB 2899.” The measure would prevent local communities and schools from protecting their transgender populations and students. In this way, it is strikingly similar to SB 6, another heinous anti-LGBTQ bill being considered by Texas legislators. More from The San Antonio Express-News and The Dallas Morning News.

Student-athletes in North Carolina speak out on NCAA decision to reward state with championship games despite continuing discrimination against LGBTQ people. More from ESPN.

Also in Texas: Two couples who bravely fought in the courts for their state to overturn its ban on marriage equality will be awarded $600,000 in fees and other costs. More from The Dallas Morning News.

WHIP HOYER CALLS ON U.S. TO ACT ON REPORTS OF MURDERS OF GAY MEN IN CHECHNYA: Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) took to Twitter to call on the United States to “not sit idly by” while police in the Russian republic of Chechnya detain and murder gay men.  The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta first confirmed the anti-gay actions being taken by authorities in Chechnya, reporting that  hundreds of gay men were being detained, and at least three killed, by Chechen police. HRC has called on President Trump and the U.S. State Department to help stop anti-LGBTQ atrocities in Russia. In a letter earlier this month to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week, HRC President Chad Griffin urged him “to make clear to your Russian counterparts that such lawless detentions, arrests, torture and murders are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

From Atlanta to San Francisco, hundreds of LGBTQ advocates held candlelight vigils and protest to draw attention to the anti-gay arrests, torture and and murders in Chechnya. More from The Georgia Voice and San Francisco Weekly.

THROWBACK THURSDAY -- GEORGIA HOUSE GOP CANDIDATE HAS ANTI-LGBTQ HISTORY: Karen Handel, who will face HRC-endorsed Jon Ossoff in a runoff election for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District seat, opposed marriage equality, civil unions, domestic partnership benefits and allowing same-sex couples to adopt during her 2010 gubernatorial campaign. In an interview with WXIA, she said that same-sex relationships a “are not what God intended,” and implied that same-sex parents were not as qualified as different-sex parents. More from The Advocate and Project Q Atlanta.

CONGRATULATIONS -- TIME 100 FEATURES MAJOR LGBTQ ADVOCATES AND ALLIES: Gavin Grimm, Sarah Paulson, Ava DuVernay, Demi Lovato, RuPaul and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) are among the LGBTQ advocates and allies featured on this year’s TIME 100 Most Influential People list. Author and transgender rights advocate  Janet Mock writes this for TIME about Gavin: “So many are made to feel as if they should hide, pretend or perish. Gavin’s refusal to be treated unjustly is an enduring reminder that we will not be stayed.” More from TIME.

ANTI-TRANSGENDER DISCRIMINATION CASE APPEALED TO 6TH CIRCUIT COURT: After working at Harris Funeral Home for seven years, Aimee Stephens was fired in 2014 after informing her employer that she would be transitioning. Though the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that her termination was a result of unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII based on her gender identity, a federal court in Michigan later ruled that the funeral home was exempt from Title VII compliance under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Stephens has appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. More from Reuters.

NY GOV. CUOMO TO REQUIRE INSURANCE COMPANIES TO COVER FERTILITY TREATMENTS FOR ALL, REGARDLESS OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION: Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that health insurance companies are required to provide fertility treatment coverage to all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or marital status. Find the circular letter from Governor Cuomo here.

WHAT MAKES A HATE CRIME A HATE CRIME?: CNN takes a look at the recent uptick in reports of bias-motivated crime, and explores how the FBI defines ‘hate crimes’, and how it determines when an incident truly is motivated by hate. “In a hate crime, the victim is targeted because of his characteristics,” says HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “These are bias-motivated crimes, and often they are much more violent than traditional crimes.” According to the Southern Poverty Law CEnter, LGBTQ people are targeted for violent hate-motivated crimes at higher rates than other marginalized groups. More from CNN.

NIGERIAN POLICE ARREST 53 PEOPLE ATTENDING A SAME-SEX WEDDING: The 53 people -- mostly students -- were arrested on April 15 for “conspiracy, unlawful assembly and belonging to a gang of unlawful society.” More from Premium Times.

STRANGER THINGS ACTRESS SHANNON PURSER COMES OUT AS BISEXUAL: Shannon Purser, known for playing the iconic character ‘Barb’ on the Netflix series Stranger Things, came out in a powerful post on Twitter, where she discussed coming out to her friends and family, and her Christian identity. More from USA Today.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GEORGE TAKEI: Today, openly gay actor and advocate George Takei, who is also a longtime HRC supporter, celebrates his birthday. Takei was honored at HRC’s second annual Time to THRIVE conference in 2015. He is an outspoken activist for the LGBTQ community, speaking out on Indiana’s discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act and supporting The People’s Brief in preparation for the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. 


Vice explores the term “sexual fluidity”; Advocate reports on a study of anti-LGBTQ sentiment in Arabic media; Seattle Weekly talks to a local advocate who is interviewing the city’s LGBTQ immigrant community; NewNowNext features a powerful interview Ellen DeGeneres recently had NBA icon Magic Johnson about Johnson’s love for his openly gay son;

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