#AM_Equality Tipsheet: April 5, 2017

by Allison Turner

Historic ruling affirms Title VII protects based on sexual orientation; Gorsuch’s anti-LGBTQ responses to Senate questions

HUGE WIN -- HISTORIC RULING AFFIRMS CIVIL RIGHTS LAWS PROTECT EMPLOYEES FROM DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION: Yesterday, HRC hailed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit finding that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act includes protections based on sexual orientation. This decision marks the first time a federal appellate court has ruled this way and reverses a previous decision made in July. “This critically important Circuit Court decision has adopted a well-grounded legal analysis concluding that our nation's civil rights laws include sexual orientation,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Today’s ruling is a monumental victory for fairness in the workplace, and for the dignity of lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans who may live in fear of losing their job based on whom they love. This court joins five others that have ruled these laws also prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. We congratulate plaintiff Kimberly Hively, Lambda Legal and all the attorneys who helped achieve this victory.” The Hively case stems from a lawsuit brought by Indiana instructor Kimberly Hively, who alleged that Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend did not offer her a full-time position because she is a lesbian. She was represented in the case by Gregory Nevins of Lambda Legal. More from HRC, Pink News and OUT Magazine.

NEIL GORSUCH PROVES -- YET AGAIN -- WHY HE IS UNFIT FOR SCOTUS: The Legal Department at HRC took a deep dive into Neil Gorsuch’s 76-page written response to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee. In it, Gorsuch provides troubling answers that eerily predict how he would treat crucial civil rights litigation if confirmed. When asked about civil rights and, specifically, the LGBTQ community, his brief, dismissive answers are a stark departure from the full and complete responses historically provided by nominees to the nation’s highest court. When asked directly about whether the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, Gorsuch deferred to Supreme Court precedent -- refusing to address the Constitutional rights of LGBTQ people, merely stating the Supreme Court has invalidated state laws related to sexual orientation. More from HRC and Metro Weekly.

NCAA’S DAMAGING REVERSAL ON DISCRIMINATORY LAWS IN NC: Yesterday, HRC and Equality NC released the following statements in light of the NCAA decision to consider North Carolina for championship games, despite the discrimination against LGBTQ people that remains enshrined in state law. “The NCAA's decision to backtrack on their vow to protect LGBTQ players, employees and fans is deeply disappointing and puts people at risk," said HRC President Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin). “After drawing a line in the sand and calling for repeal of HB2, the NCAA simply let North Carolina lawmakers off the hook." Said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro (@CristoferSgro), "It is disappointing to see the NCAA backpedal after it stood strong against the deeply discriminatory HB2. HB142 continues the same discriminatory scheme put forward by HB2 and does little to protect the NCAA's players, employees, and fans. The NCAA's decision has put a seal of approval on state-sanctioned discrimination." More from HRC, USA Today, and Deadspin.

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING WEDNESDAY: At a national championship race last year in North Carolina, Chris Mosier (@TheChrisMosier), a Team USA duathlete, says he feared he would be attacked -- all because of the climate created by the discriminatory HB2 law. And Mosier, also VP for Program Development at You Can Play, dismisses the action taken last week by NC legislators and Gov. Roy Cooper: “This was not an actual repeal of HB2,” Mosier says. “This was a repackaging of the same discriminatory policy against LGBTQ people.” More from ESPN.

ARKANSAS LEG. ADJOURNS FOR THE YEAR -- NO ANTI-LGBTQ BILLS PASSED: After introducing a flurry of anti-LGBTQ bills on the final day of filing three weeks ago, Arkansas legislators adjourned Monday for the remainder of the year without any anti-LGBTQ legislation making it through both chambers. Of particular note, after opposition from Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson and business leaders, a dangerous anti-trans bill that mirrors North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2, was killed in committee.

GLOBAL LGBTQ ADVOCATES MEET WITH WORLD BANK OFFICIALS, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS: On the first day of HRC’s Global Innovative Advocacy Summit, 30 global LGBTQ innovators met with officials from the World Bank -- Development Director Maninder Gill and Clif Cortez, recently-appointed as Global Adviser on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. They also participated in a roundtable discussion with U.S. Representatives Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), and met with Norway’s Ambassador to the U.S. Kare R. Aas. More from HRC and The Washington Blade.

NEVADA SENATE PASSES BILL PROTECTING YOUTH FROM SO-CALLED “CONVERSION THERAPY”: Yesterday, the Nevada Senate passed a bill banning so-called “conversion therapy” for minors. The bill, SB 201, passed by a vote of 15-5. More from The Las Vegas Sun.

PUERTO RICO SENATE PRESIDENT REVOKES KEY PROTECTIONS FOR TRANSGENDER CITIZENS: Yesterday, Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz revoked key protections for transgender Senate employees. The action is in conflict with Puerto Rico’s nondiscrimination law which explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. More from El Vocero de Puerto Rico (in Spanish) and Washington Blade.

REMEMBERING MICHAEL CEPEK, PFLAG PIONEER: The Chicago Sun Times pays tribute to John Cepek, whose more than three decades of groundbreaking, indefatigable work -- including as national president of PFLAG - Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays -- helped change the conversation around LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion. Cepek died March 15 of a brain hemorrhage. John and his wife, Charleen, “stood up for their family and for everyone’s family long before it was acceptable, long before it was common,” said Rick Garcia, an Illinois gay rights activist. Read more here.

AIRBNB AIRS POWERFUL MARRIAGE EQUALITY AD IN AUSTRALIA: It encourages people to wear a broken ring in support of marriage equality, underscoring that the ring -- a symbol of committed love -- is broken unless all people are able to marry. More from Yahoo.


The New York Times shares a photo series highlighting the Ghanan LGBTQ community; NPR interviews transgender rock star Laura Jane Grace.

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