Trump’s actions on immigration could result in death of LGBTQ refugees; VA lawmakers advance legislation promoting taxpayer-funded discrimination
LGBTQ REFUGEE -- “I’M GOING TO DIE HERE”: In a hard-hitting piece interviewing LGBTQ Iranian refugees in Turkey, BuzzFeed exposes how President Trump’s actions on immigration could result in the death of LGBTQ refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Anticipating a Trump shakeup of refugee policy, Reuters reported yesterday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has already halted staff trips to interview refugees abroad. While LGBTQ people in countries like Iraq and Syria have long faced extraordinarily difficult challenges, the rise of ISIL has in recent years produced particularly horrific images and accounts of violence and bloodshed targeting LGBTQ people and other minorities. Even before ISIL’s rise, LGBTQ people in those countries, as well as other countries in the Middle East, were subjected to violence, persecution and discrimination that continues largely unabated. ISIL’s anti-LGBTQ violence is in many ways an outgrowth of pre-existing negative attitudes and violence towards LGBTQ people. Trump’s actions are putting lives at risk for his own political gain. Read the full piece at BuzzFeed.
VA LAWMAKERS ADVANCE LEGISLATION PROMOTING TAXPAYER-FUNDED DISCRIMINATION: Yesterday, a Virginia House of Delegates committee advanced 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 anti-LGBTQ proposal is being pushed by Delegate Nicholas Freitas and will move to the full House of Delegates. “The right to practice one’s own religion is already firmly protected in the U.S. Constitution,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “In truth, this legislation has nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people. Virginia lawmakers should look closely at the fallout in North Carolina and the state’s deeply discriminatory HB2 law before plowing down a similarly destructive path.” 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 (such as single mothers or a cohabiting straight couple) without losing taxpayer funding, contracts, licensing, or other forms of state recognition. A similar discriminatory proposal was vetoed in 2016 by Governor Terry McAuliffe. More from HRC.
FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: While Inauguration Day was a real downer for many, same-sex couple Dea Jones and Sharon McLeod made it the happiest day of their lives -- with an assist from Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA). The former Democratic vice presidential candidate presided over Jones and McLeod’s wedding -- his first of a same-sex couple. “Who knows what the future will bring. We’re not on the path I was hoping for,” Jones told Roll Call. “We would rather just secure our rights a married couple.” Question to ask: What does “The Wedding March” sound like on harmonica? More from The Huffington Post.
Hitched! Congrats to Dea and Sharon. Was honored to officiate their wedding tonight pic.twitter.com/8y6BzG14kE— Senator Tim Kaine (@timkaine) January 21, 2017
MORE THAN 50,000 YOUNG PEOPLE TOLD US HOW THE ELECTION AFFECTED THEM -- WE MUST LISTEN: Recently, HRC released the results of a groundbreaking post-election survey of more than 50,000 young people ages 13-18 revealing the deeply damaging fallout the November election has had on youth across the United States. Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training, in an oped for The Advocate, urges action: “As adults, we owe it to our young people to listen -- we need to hear them and we need to act. They are still coming to terms with a national election in which they were not able to vote, but one that will affect their daily lives in very real ways.” The online survey, believed to be the largest ever of its kind, found that 70 percent of respondents have witnessed bullying, hate messages or harassment since the election, with racial bias the most common motive cited. More on the survey from NBC. Read the full oped at The Advocate.
IF HE WON’T -- WE WILL: Last night, President Trump ordered cancelled any remaining advertising for the open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act -- landmark legislation that provides access to healthcare for 22 million Americans, including millions of LGBTQ people. The open enrollment period lasts until January 31. Find more information and to enroll here. More on how the Affordable Care Act protects the LGBTQ community here and more on President Trump’s order from Politico.
DISCRIMINATORY SO-CALLED “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM” BILL DIES IN COLORADO HOUSE: The bill, HB 1013, would have allowed taxpayer-funded agencies and service providers to discriminate against LGBTQ people under the guise of religion. One Colorado, the state’s leading LGBTQ advocacy organization, has been on the frontlines of this legislative battle. More from The Denver Post.
ANTI-LGBTQ LEGISLATION PULLED FROM WYOMING HOUSE: HB 135, deceptively titled the “Government Nondiscrimination Act,” could have done just the opposite. This extreme and extensive bill would harm LGBTQ people across the Equality State prohibiting government agencies from stopping discrimination against LGBTQ people by individuals, organizations, and corporations acting under the guise of religion. K2 Radio.
TECH GIANTS TELL TEXAS TO TAKE ANTI-TRANS BILLS OFF THE TABLE: Major businesses are joining the fight against SB6, a harmful anti-transgender bill being considered by the Texas state legislature. A number of tech companies are signing on to a letter to lawmakers urging them to abandon the discriminatory bill. A study by the Keep Texas Open for Business coalition shows that the state stands to lose $8.5 billion in GDP and 185,000 jobs if the legislature moves forward on anti-LGBTQ bills. More from Inc.
IDAHO MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO HATE CRIME IN FATAL BEATING OF GAY MAN: Earlier this week, an Idaho man, Kelly Schneider, pled guilty to committing a federal hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act for the 2016 murder of Steven Nelson. Schneider, who admitted to targeting Nelson because of his sexual orientation, accepted a plea deal of 28 years in prison. He has also pled guilty to first degree murder under Idaho state law and will face sentencing in March. Idaho, like many other states, currently lacks hate crime protection laws for LGBTQ people. More from HRC.
INFAMOUS ANTI-LGBTQ GROUP APPOINTS NEW LEADER: The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the largest anti-LGBTQ legal group in the U.S., has appointed Michael Farris, a notorious anti-LGBTQ activist, as its new president. Media Matters reported Farris as “an experienced fearmonger and fundamentalist lawyer” and a “veteran of the religious right” whose anti-LGBTQ work stretches back to the 1970s and his involvement in Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority initiative. More from HRC.