#AM_Equality Tipsheet: May 16, 2017

by Allison Turner

Trump leaks to Russians, doesn’t condemn failure to stop torture/killing of gay men; HRC, major companies file brief supporting G. Grimm

DISGRACEFUL -- TRUMP LEAKS CLASSIFIED INFO TO RUSSIANS, WHILE FAILING TO CONDEMN THEIR FAILURE TO STOP TORTURE AND MURDER OF GAY MEN IN CHECHNYA: In a sobering piece published this morning by The Washington Post, Samar Habib (@samarhabib80) details how President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have facilitated the erasure of LGBTQ people at home, and violence against them abroad. Under the headline, “Here’s how Trump-Pence policy is already affecting LGBT lives in Chechnya,” Habib writes that Trump-Pence have remained silent about the alarming reports out of Chechnya, “a sharp change from the government’s strong defense of LGBT lives under the Obama administration.” If Chechnya is persecuting gay men as reports and victims have detailed, “it is precisely because the government recognizes that the U.S. won’t organize any opposition,” Habib says. Read the full piece at The Washington Post.

  • Without global LGBTQ advocacy, we all suffer: In a powerful call to action, HRC Global Director Ty Cobb writes in The Advocate about the imperative that the U.S. stand up for LGBTQ human rights around the world. More from The Advocate.

TUESDAY TWEET: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) (@WhipHoyer) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) (@SenatorCardin) demanded a “vocal U.S. government response” to the human rights abuses occurring in Russia by Chechen authorities under the Putin regime. According to numerous media outlets and human rights organizations across the globe, authorities in Chechnya have been rounding up dozens of men on the suspicion of being gay. They have been humiliated, tortured, placed in detention and killed. The United States must lead the way in demanding global human rights for all. Read the full oped from Whip Hoyer and Senator Cardin at The Washington Post.

HRC FILES AMICUS BRIEF WITH MAJOR COMPANIES SUPPORTING GAVIN GRIMM: HRC has filed a “friend of the court” brief signed by 59 major U.S. companies supporting transgender student Gavin Grimm in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Grimm, a transgender boy, filed suit against the school board alleging it violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by denying him use of the boy’s restroom. “These companies are sending a powerful message to transgender children and their families that America’s leading businesses have their backs,” said HRC President Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin). “Across the country, corporate leaders are speaking out because they know attacking transgender youth isn't just shameful -- it also puts the families of their employees and customers at risk. Transgender students like Gavin are entitled to the full protection of the law, and must be affirmed, respected and protected in the classroom and beyond.” The 59 signing companies represent over 1.6 million employees and $670 billion in revenue. More from HRC and Fast Company.

TRUMP EXPANDS ‘GLOBAL GAG RULE’ PUTTING MILLIONS AT RISK WORLDWIDE: HRC has condemned the Trump Administration’s massive expansion of the so-called “Global Gag Rule,” (GGR) which prevents U.S. funding of science-based, non-governmental health organizations around the world that provide abortion information, referrals or services. “HRC has long opposed the ‘Global Gag Rule’ and any policies that seek to limit access to critical healthcare services,” said HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs, JoDee Winterhof in a statement yesterday. “This egregious expansion is particularly concerning and puts millions of more lives at risk, including those living with HIV and AIDS. Withholding U.S. aid as a tool to limit women’s access to health is simply un-American and stands in direct opposition to our country’s role as a global leader for democracy and human rights.” Ironically, the Trump Administration’s announcement comes at the beginning of National Women’s Health Week. More from HRC.

ALL-OUT ASSAULT ON LGBTQ RIGHTS IN TEXAS LEGISLATURE: Rick Jervis (@MrRJervis) of USA Today lays out succinctly the high stakes equality battle playing out in Texas, where HRC is fighting bills attacking LGBTQ people on all fronts -- from undermining marriage equality to allowing discrimination against LGBTQ prospective parents and children in the state’s adoptive or foster system, to barring transgender people from accessing public spaces. Texas is not alone in its unprecedented attack -- HRC is tracking more than 130 anti-LGBTQ bills in 30 states. As HRC Senior Legislative Counsel Kate Oakley told USA Today: “It’s happening all around the country. Unsurprisingly, Texas just does it bigger.” More from USA Today.

FIRST FEDERAL HATE CRIME CONVICTION FOR MURDER OF TRANSGENDER PERSON: Yesterday Josh Vallum was sentenced to 49 years in prison for the brutal 2015 murder of 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson. This case marks the first time that the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act has been used to prosecute a suspect for targeting a victim because they were transgender. Vallum pled guilty in December for violating the federal hate crimes law. “There is an epidemic of violence against transgender people, and particularly women of color, across the country,” HRC Mississippi Director Rob Hill told The New York Times. “And yet today is the first time a perpetrator will be sentenced under federal hate crimes charges for killing a transgender person because that crime crossed a state line.” More from The New York Times.

HRC TO HONOR ABC NEWS’ ROBIN ROBERTS WITH VISIBILITY AWARD: Award-winning broadcast journalist Robin Roberts (@RobinRoberts) of ABC News’ “Good Morning America” will be honored with the HRC Visibility Award at the 2017 HRC Louisiana Gala Dinner on June 17. “As one of the most trusted and beloved broadcast journalists in the country, Robin Roberts brings greater visibility of LGBTQ people into homes across America simply by living openly as her authentic self,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Roberts has used her platform to raise awareness of the unique needs and challenges facing LGBTQ people, and she has helped make a difference in the lives of countless people around the world. We are proud to honor Robin Roberts at the 2017 HRC Louisiana Gala Dinner with the HRC Visibility Award.” More from HRC.

BET AWARDS NOMINATE LGBTQ AND ALLIED ARTISTS, FILMS: Lesbian rapper Young M.A (@YoungMAMusic) is nominated for ‘Best Female Hip Hop Artist’ and ‘Best New Artist’. The film Moonlight is nominated for ‘Best Movie,’ and Mahershala Ali is nominated for ‘Best Actor’ for his role in the film. Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30), who spoke out against anti-LGBTQ laws in North Carolina, is nominated for ‘Sportsman of the Year.’ The awards show is June 25. The full list of nominees from BET.

NEW REPORT -- DECREASE IN COUNTRIES CRIMINALIZING LGBTQ IDENTITIES, BUT STILL TOO MANY: A new report from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA) has found that 20 fewer countries criminalize same-sex sexual activity than did a decade ago -- but anti-LGBTQ culture remains pervasive in many. More from RadioFreeEurope / RadioLiberty.

  • Social media builds community; saves LGBTQ lives: In countries with anti-LGBTQ laws, LGBTQ dating apps and social media serve as tools for organizing and building community. More from National Geographic.

SHAMEFUL -- SINGAPORE BLOCKS LGBTQ VISITORS FROM PARTICIPATING IN RALLY FOR EQUALITY: A recent change to Singapore’s Public Order Act means that only Singaporean citizens and permanent residents can attend an LGBTQ rights rally in July. Singapore is one of at least 72 countries that criminalize LGBTQ identities. More from BBC.

ACTOR KEIYNAN LONSDALE COMES OUT IN POWERFUL INSTAGRAM POST: Lonsdale (@KeiynanLonsdale), who acts in the hit CW show ‘The Flash,’ wrote in an Instagram post, “I like to change my hair, I like to take risks with how I dress, I like girls, & I like guys (yes), I like growing, I like learning, I like who I am and I really like who I'm becoming.” More from Huffington Post.

MIDWEST CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON LGBTQ INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES: The third Annual Midwest Queer Trans Indigenous People of Color Conference was recently held at the University of Missouri in Columbia. The conference focused on creating a space to share ideas, actions and inspiration specific to communities of color. More from HRC.


The Santiago Times talks to Luis Larrain (@LuisLarrain), who is running to become Chile’s first openly gay congress member; Bustle interviews HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride (@SarahEMcBride) on transgender identity and understanding privilege; WTKR celebrates the 10-year anniversary Hampton Road, Va.’s LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce;

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A.M. Equality