#AM_Equality Tipsheet: February 3, 2017

by Allison Turner

Who’s whispering in Trump’s ear about the License to Discriminate EO?; VA House of Delegates passes anti-LGBTQ legislation

WHO IS WHISPERING IN TRUMP’S EAR ABOUT THE LICENSE TO DISCRIMINATE EXEC ORDER? At yesterday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed that President Trump is “asking for input, asking for ideas” on a possible executive order that could allow an unprecedented expansion of taxpayer-funded discrimination. If similar to a draft leaked earlier this week, it would have broad implications for LGBTQ people, federal employees, employees of federal contractors, and people served by federal programs funded with taxpayer dollars.  Here’s a #FlashbackFriday to Donald Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, and our very educated guess as to the anti-LGBTQ extremists who have the president’s ear:

  • Michele Bachmann, who as a Member of Congress was inducted into HRC’s “Hall of Shame” for her consistent anti-equality voting record.
  • James Dobson, who founded two of the most notorious anti-equality organizations in the nation: Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, which has since been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Dobson linked the school tragedy in Newtown, Conn., with "turning our back on God" and the "redefinition" of marriage.”
  • Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, which has a code of conduct stating that “sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural born woman are not permissible.”
  • Ralph Reed, who once compared marriage equality to slavery and those fighting it to abolitionists.

VA HOUSE OF DELEGATES PASSES ANTI-LGBTQ ‘LICENSE TO DISCRIMINATE’ LEGISLATION: Yesterday, the Virginia House of Delegates passed HB 2025 -- discriminatory legislation that seeks to give taxpayer-funded agencies and service providers a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people under the guise of religion. The dangerous anti-LGBTQ proposal now moves to the Senate. “The Virginia House of Delegates’ decision to pass this legislation puts the state’s people, reputation, and economy at risk,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “This reckless bill in truth has nothing to do with the right to practice one’s religion, which is already firmly protected by the First Amendment. Rather, it is a thinly veiled attempt to provide a special license to discriminate with taxpayer funds.” HB 2025 could allow taxpayer-funded organizations like homeless shelters and adoption agencies to refuse service to same-sex couples, transgender people, and anyone suspected of having intimate relationships outside of a heterosexual marriage without losing taxpayer funding, contracts, licensing, or other forms of state recognition. More from HRC.

CTR! TURNS OUT SCOTUS NOM GORSUCH DID NOT SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT LGBTQ PEOPLE IN COLLEGE: A recent story by NBC erroneously attributed a quote condemning the military’s treatment of LGBTQ people to Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Turns out, it was actually written by a college classmate. The quote appeared in a February 1987 edition of the Columbia Daily Spectator, the campus newspaper of Gorsuch’s alma mater. The Spectator issued a correction the next day about the misattribution. NBC also corrected its original story.

  • Reminder: Gorsuch has a long and troubling career opposing civil rights -- from denying crucial medical treatment for a transgender woman to supporting a license to discriminate for private corporations. More from HRC.

FRIDAY FEELS: ATTN: interviewed openly gay Youtuber Connor Franta (@ConnorFranta) about his coming out, and the struggles faced by LGBTQ students -- including the lack of LGBTQ-inclusive sex education and history classes. Watch the full interview here.

 NEW HAMPSHIRE KICKS OFF LEGISLATIVE SESSION WITH PRO-TRANSGENDER BILL: Filed in January, HB 478 is a common sense update to long-standing state laws. For decades, New Hampshire has prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, physical or mental disability, religious creed, and other categories. In 1998, state laws were updated to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation. HB 478 would ensure that transgender people are afforded these same protections, and cannot be fired, evicted, or denied service just because of who they are. More from HRC.

 ON SUNDAY -- LADY GAGA HEADLINES SUPER BOWL HALFTIME: The bisexual pop star and LGBTQ advocate (@LadyGaga) will headline the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday night. She lives for the applause, and we’re speechless (so speechless).

BUSINESS LEADERS JOIN HRC IN DALLAS TO DISCUSS LGBTQ EQUALITY: Last week, HRC held a public policy roundtable in Dallas, hosted by American Airlines, for corporate leaders engaged in supporting basic civil rights for LGBTQ people. These businesses lead the way on LGBTQ equality under the law through public support of basic civil rights protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as through opposition of anti-LGBTQ legislation. More from HRC.

OPENLY GAY LAWYER APPOINTED TO NC HOUSE: Wilmington attorney Deb Butler will be appointed by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to serve the remainder of Rep. Susi Hamilton’s two-year term. Rep. Hamilton is joining Cooper’s administration as secretary of natural and cultural resources. More from The News & Observer.

#VOTEFORSTEPHEN: HRC’s very own Stephen Peters is nominated for Military Spouse of the Year!  Of course, to know Stephen is to know he deserves this, and with your help, we can #turnOUT a victory for him!  Please consider casting a ballot for him here.


The Advocate lists 35 LGBTQ characters who redefined the way we watch TV… The Associated Press profiles Malta’s first openly transgender elected official...

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A.M. Equality