#AM_Equality Tipsheet: January 9, 2018

by Allison Turner

SCOTUS turns away challenge to nation’s most anti-LGBTQ law; Bipartisan bill in NH would add gender identity to non discrimination protections

SCOTUS TURNS AWAY CHALLENGE TO NATION’S MOST ANTI-LGBTQ LAW: Mississippi’s H.B. 1523 was signed into law in 2016, but was blocked by a federal district court shortly before its effective date. That decision was overturned by a conservative three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case. Under this law, almost any individual or organization could justify discrimination against LGBTQ people, single mothers, unwed couples and others. More from Reuters and NPR.

“IT’S TIME” -- BIPARTISAN BILL IN NEW HAMPSHIRE WOULD ADD GENDER IDENTITY TO NONDISCRIM PROTECTIONS: In a piece titled, It’s Time to Prohibit Gender Identity Discrimination, the Seacoast Online editorial board urged lawmakers to “open their hearts and minds and listen to transgender people when they talk about their lives,” adding: “As the bill makes its way through the Legislature we urge a civil debate that is fact-based, compassionate and free from inflammatory stereotypes and exaggerations.” The state currently protects people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Read the full piece from Seacoast Online.

BACK FROM THE DEAD -- TRUMP RENOMINATES ANTI-LGBTQ GOV. BROWNBACK: Last year, HRC sent a letter to senators on the Foreign Relations Committee urging them to oppose Trump’s nomination of staunch anti-LGBTQ politician Sam Brownback for the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. “Given Governor Brownback’s anti-LGBTQ record, it is deeply worrying that he could use this position to promote the harmful idea that individuals holding certain religious views should somehow be permitted be discriminate against LGBTQ people or other minorities,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy about his original nomination. “This is particularly concerning because LGBTQ people often face persecution in the same countries where religious minorities face persecution.’” More from Advocate.

TUESDAY TWEET -- INDIA’S SUPREME COURT COULD END BAN ON SAME-SEX ACTS: In 2013, the Supreme Court overturned a decision declaring the notorious Section 377 unconstitutional, reinstating the discriminatory anti-LGBTQ law. Last year, the Supreme Court of India ruled that LGBTQ people have “real rights founded on sound constitutional doctrine,” and those rights “dwell in privacy and dignity.” The eloquent decision could signal the beginning of the end to the colonial-era law that bans same-sex acts, making India one of 72 countries around the world with such anti-LGBTQ laws. More from The Associated Press.

  • A leader of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party disgustingly suggests LGBTQ people should retreat to the closet.  “If you flaunt it, it has to be punished,” he said. More from ZeeNews.
  • Meanwhile, openly gay Indian Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil (@PrinceRajpipla)  is opening his palace grounds to LGBTQ people. More from International Business Times.

HRC MOURNS CHRISTA LEIGH STEELE-KNUDSLIEN, FIRST TRANS WOMAN KNOWN TO BE MURDERED IN 2018: A local news outlet reports that she was found dead in her home on Friday night in North Adams, Massachusetts. According to reports, Leigh Steele-Knudslien’s husband, Mark, turned himself in Friday night, admitting to killing his wife. He pled not guilty during his arraignment yesterday and is being held without bail. Transgender advocate Monica Roberts on her TransGriot blog writes that Steele-Knudslien organized and produced the Miss Trans New England and other pageants, and was loved and known by many in both the local and national trans community. More from HRC.

MORNING MUST READ -- “UTAH NEEDS TO RECLAIM POSITION AS A SAFE HAVEN AGAINST HATE CRIME”: The state’s hate crimes law only applies to misdemeanors and does not name protected groups. Lawmakers hope to replace this insufficient measure with one that does more to protect Utahns. More from The Salt Lake Tribune.

ANDREW MCDONALD TO BECOME FIRST NATION’S FIRST OPENLY GAY CHIEF JUSTICE: Justice McDonald, a former state legislator, was chosen by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy to lead the state’s high court, and is expected to be confirmed by the state legislature. More from The Wall Street Journal.

301 DAYS UNTIL ELECTION DAY 2018: Kim Davis, the notorious Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for contempt of court after refusing to comply with a federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses in accordance with the law, has officially filed for re-election. She will square off against four candidates, including David Ermold, whose heated exchange with Davis after she denied him and his partner a marriage license went viral. More from WKYT.

TRANS MAN WHO DREAMT OF MILITARY CAREER FINALLY ABLE TO ENLIST: After months of waiting, Nicolas Talbott can continue pursuing his five-year dream to join the military. He tells Advocate, “Anybody who thinks transgender people are not as capable of serving in the military as anyone else has not looked at the research out there.” More from Advocate.

NEW EVIDENCE IN PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING -- SHOOTER’S WIFE KNEW HIS PLANS: A 12-page statement released by the FBI shows that the wife of the man who took 49 innocent lives in the massacre in Orlando indicates she was aware of his plans months before the deadly rampage. More from USA Today.

RYAN MURPHY SHARES POWERFUL AND PAINFUL STORY OF COMING OUT; TALKS ABOUT HISTORY-MAKING NEW SHOW: Murphy discusses the physical abuse he was subjected to after coming out to his father, and talks about how the deep emotions he experienced when he called transgender actors and told them they were being cast in his groundbreaking new series, Pose. The series features the largest transgender cast ever in a scripted series. More from Deadline.

NONE OF THE NATION’S 100 LARGEST CHURCHES AFFIRM LGBTQ PEOPLE: A study by Church Clarity found that all of the megachurches fail to have explicit policies affirming the LGBTQ community. More from South Florida Gay News.

HRC MOURNS BLACK LGBTQ ADVOCATE JACKIE ANDERSON: Anderson, 75, was a prominent Black lesbian advocate and professor at Olive-Harvey College in Chicago. More from Windy City Media Group.

DESPITE POSITIVE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING, TAIWAN REJECTING SAME-SEX MARRIAGES UNTIL LAW IS CHANGED: In May 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, paving the way for it to be the first in Asia to achieve such a milestone. However, at least three same-sex couples have had their marriage appeals denied by Taipei courts that have ruled the nation’s law must be formally rewritten -- which is supposed to happen in the next 16 months, according to the Constitutional Court’s ruling.” The latest petition to be rejected had been filed by HRC Global Innovator Jennifer Lu and her partner. More from Taiwan News.

GAY MUSLIM FLEES CHECHNYA FOLLOWING DEATH THREATS: In a powerful piece for NPR, Joanna Kakissis (@joannakakissis) tells the story of how Abdul Kadr’s family came to kill him because he was gay -- and of his escape to the Netherlands with the help of his wife. In Chechnya, men suspected of being gay or bisexual have been detained, tortured and even killed by their own government. Hear the heartbreaking story at NPR.


Pink News reviews a new report on the lives of LGBTQ people in Ghana;

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A.M. Equality