#AM_Equality Tipsheet: May 10, 2017

by Allison Turner

HRC calls for special prosecutor after Trump fires FBI director amid Russia investigation; TX House passes discriminatory bill

HRC CALLS FOR SPECIAL PROSECUTOR IN WAKE OF TRUMP FIRING OF FBI DIRECTOR COMEY: HRC President Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) issued the following statement after Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey: “Donald Trump just fired the man leading the investigation into his ties to Russia. He did so on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had promised to recuse himself from that probe after lying under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee. There is no time for delay in appointing a special prosecutor. Our democracy depends on it. We've been down a similar path before. Congress must put patriotism before party and do what's right for the country.” Two months ago, following reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave false testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding conversations he had with Russia’s U.S. ambassador during the Trump presidential campaign, HRC called for him to resign. Sessions’ announcement that he would recuse himself from any existing or future investigations related to presidential campaigns -- he didn’t even mention Russia in his recusal statement -- is not enough. More from HRC.

#EYESONCHECHNYA -- HRC AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS ORGS DEMONSTRATE AT RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR’S HOME: Yesterday, HRC, Human Rights First and Amnesty International USA rallied in front of the Russian ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C., amping up pressure on Russian leaders to stop the ongoing atrocities against LGBTQ people in Chechnya, and bring perpetrators to justice. “We are here to tell the Russian ambassador and the Russian government that they must act to stop these atrocities. They must stop the witch hunts, stop the arrests, stop the murders and investigate now,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Instead of rounding up gay men, Russia must pressure Chechnya to arrest the real criminals -- the torturers, the jailers, the executioners. We also have a message for our own government: let these victims in the country.” The Russian LGBT Network says that as many as 20 men may have been killed in the attacks in Chechnya, and many are being held in “detention camps,”  and there are alarming reports that the Chechen government is encouraging families of gay and bisexual men to kill them, or the government will. There also has been a surge in lesbian and bisexual women sharing stories about humiliation, abuse and threats they've faced from male relatives or friends, and reports that wives of detainees fear they will be targeted as well. Last week, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin on the atrocities, he announced his support for an investigation, though it remains to be seen if it will have any credibility. More on the situation from HRC. Watch a livestream of the event on HRC’s Facebook. More from The Washington Blade.

  • Incredibly, today Trump is meeting in the White House with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In addition to the highly unusual Oval Office meeting with Trump, Lavrov is also scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Question to ask: Will Trump or Tillerson raise the issue of these heinous attacks on gay and bisexual men in Chechnya in light of his recent dismissal of human rights as a State Department priority?

DISCRIMINATION IN TEXAS -- HOUSE PASSES ANTI-LGBTQ MEASURE: Last night, HRC called out the Texas House of Representatives for passing a shameful bill that would allow child welfare organizations -- including adoption and foster care agencies -- to discriminate against qualified LGBTQ prospective parents and children in need of a loving, secure home. It could also lead to concrete harm to children in care, and would forbid the state from cancelling contracts with agencies that subject children in their care to dangerous practices such as so-called “conversion therapy.” “HB 3859 is yet another example of Texas legislators’ coordinated efforts to pursue discrimination against LGBTQ people instead of focusing on the best interest of all Texans,” said Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, and an adoptive and foster parent. “If signed into law, this bill would most harm the children in Texas’ child welfare system -- kids who need a loving, stable home. Discrimination under law is unacceptable.” More from HRC.

  • HB 3859 is just the latest in a slate of anti-LGBTQ bills being pursued by the Texas legislature, which is undertaking a systematic effort to roll back the rights of LGBTQ Texans. For a roundup of anti-LGBTQ attacks from the Texas Legislature, and a few options folks can take to voice their opposition, check out this piece from The Houston Chronicle.

WHAT WE’RE READING WEDNESDAY  -- #JUNKSCIENCE ALERT THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PEDIATRICIANS IS AN ANTI-LGBTQ HATE GROUP: One of the foremost voices opposing affirming care for transgender children and youth has been the so-called “American College of Pediatricians,” a recognized hate group that attempts to impersonate the legitimate American Academy of Pediatrics. The group -- with fewer than 200 members --  supports the debunked and disturbing practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ and thinks same-sex couples cannot be good parents. More from Psychology Today.

  • One member of this hate group, Paul McHugh, is using his platform as a psychiatrist affiliated with Johns Hopkins University to peddle myths about transgender people from courtrooms to state legislatures around the country. More on his lies and HRC’s efforts to debunk them at McHugh Exposed.

HRC LAUNCHES MAJOR NEW SURVEY OF LGBTQ TEENS: HRC and researchers at the University of Connecticut are launching a major national survey of LGBTQ teens. The survey is open to teens who identify as LGBTQ, are between 13 and 17, and are living in the U.S.. With the help of young people from across the U.S., the survey will answer pressing questions about what it’s like to grow up LGBTQ today. The survey will paint a picture of LGBTQ teens in today's America: a country more familiar than ever with their identities, yet facing a terrifying backlash, particularly against communities of color, transgender people, and immigrants. More from HRC.

HRC & EQUALITY FLORIDA EXPRESS CONCERN FOR OVERLY BROAD RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION LEGISLATION: Just days after President Trump signed an executive order that raised major concerns about religion being used as a license to discriminate, the Florida House passed overly broad religious expression legislation. Known as the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act", SB436 would, in part, require school districts to adopt a limited public forum policy, potentially allowing student speakers to make anti-LGBTQ statements, masked as religious expression, at official school events. The bill now heads to Governor Rick Scott for his signature or veto. More from HRC.


Advocate reviews The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, a documentary about a transgender pioneer in the LGBTQ equality movement; HRC shares the efforts of a HRC Global Innovator to host a #DigitalPride for Middle Eastern and North African LGBTQ people; LGBTQ Nation takes a look at LGBTQ life in Eastern Europe;

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A.M. Equality