Political, Activism and Legal

Equality California's 2017 Legislative Wrap-Up: Two Resolutions Pass, Seven Bills to Governor's Desk

Sacramento, CA - September 22, 2017- The California Legislature has sent seven Equality California-sponsored bills to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. In addition, lawmakers approved two resolutions sponsored by Equality California. If the bills are signed into law, it will bring to 127 the number of pieces of legislation advanced by Equality California to advance the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ people.
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Changes to Title IX Guidance will impact student, survivors of sexual violence

HARRISBURG - Sptember 22, 2017 -Today, the rights of student victims of sexual violence took a step backward. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced major changes to guidance aimed at schools responding to and investigating sexual assault and Title IX violations. These changes could prove to be will be detrimental to efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault in educational institutions.
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Civil and Human Rights Coalition to Secretary DeVos: Protect Civil Rights and Support Survivors of Sexual Violence

WASHINGTON - September 22, 2017 -Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement following the announcement by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that the department is rescinding guidance related to Title IX and schools' obligations regarding sexual violence and educational opportunity: "The Secretary of Education must follow the law and ensure that students are able to learn in safe environments – today's announcement shows yet again that Betsy DeVos is unwilling to do just that. This is yet another step in Secretary DeVos' ongoing, mean-spirited attack on students' civil rights. While Title IX and its obligations to protect the civil rights of students remain the law of the land, this announcement will only serve to silence the voices of survivors of sexual assault. Campuses must provide all students an educational environment free from sex discrimination and violence, and the department should make it easier, not more difficult, to achieve that goal. Secretary DeVos must remember that equal opportunity in education is a fundamental American value. While the department may be retreating from its obligations, we urge schools to follow the law and provide welcoming and supportive environments for their students."
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Civil and Human Rights Coalition to Secretary DeVos: Protect Civil Rights and Support Survivors of Sexual Violence

WASHINGTON - September 22, 2017 -Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement following the announcement by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that the department is rescinding guidance related to Title IX and schools' obligations regarding sexual violence and educational opportunity: "The Secretary of Education must follow the law and ensure that students are able to learn in safe environments – today's announcement shows yet again that Betsy DeVos is unwilling to do just that. This is yet another step in Secretary DeVos' ongoing, mean-spirited attack on students' civil rights. While Title IX and its obligations to protect the civil rights of students remain the law of the land, this announcement will only serve to silence the voices of survivors of sexual assault. Campuses must provide all students an educational environment free from sex discrimination and violence, and the department should make it easier, not more difficult, to achieve that goal. Secretary DeVos must remember that equal opportunity in education is a fundamental American value. While the department may be retreating from its obligations, we urge schools to follow the law and provide welcoming and supportive environments for their students."
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SPLC statement on nomination of Jeff Mateer to federal judgeship

September 21, 2017 - The following statement is from David Dinielli, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, on President Trump's nomination of Jeff Mateer to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas: "President Trump has once again demonstrated his complete disregard for the LGBT community by nominating a person to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas who opposes LGBT rights and dignity. The nominee's past statements prove that he cannot and will not rule fairly on issues affecting the LGBT community.
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GLAD and NCLR Express Outrage Over Trump Judicial Nominee Calling Transgender Kids Part of 'Satan's Plan'

(WASHINGTON, D.C., September 20, 2017)-Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the LGBT advocacy organizations at the center of the transgender military fight, expressed outrage over comments made by Trump judicial nominee Jeff Mateer following reports that he called transgender children part of "Satan's Plan" and supported conversion therapy.  NCLR and GLAD have said that Mateer's nomination, coupled with efforts to bar transgender Americans from serving in the military, continue to promote false stereotypes, scapegoating, and fears that will hurt our country.
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Lambda Legal Blasts Trump Judicial Nominee Jeff Mateer Following News Reports of Vicious Attacks on Transgender Children

Washington, DC - September 20, 2017 Lambda Legal issued the below statement today about President Donald Trump's nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Jeff Mateer, who is coming under fire as news reports today are surfacing past remarks that reveal a record of extreme hostility toward the LGBT community, including Mateer's referring to transgender children as part of "Satan's plan," comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality, his endorsement of the controversial and widely-condemned practice of conversion therapy, and his extensive record of putting religious beliefs above the rule of law.
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National Ad Challenging Adoption Discrimination Laws Rejected by Fox News as "Too Powerful"

Washington, D.C., September 20, 2017— As the American Civil Liberties Union announced the filing of a landmark lawsuit challenging LGBT adoption discrimination practices in Michigan, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) unveiled a national ad and policy report underscoring the potential dangers that adoption-related religious exemption laws pose to children. The "Kids Pay the Price" ad, released in partnership with the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), was targeted to debut on Fox News Channel's Tucker Carlson Tonight, but was rejected by the network. MAP has released the 30-second spot online; the ad can be viewed at www.KidsPayThePrice.org.
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Outright Action International Reacts To President Trump At UN General Assembly

On September 18 and 19, President Trump addressed world leaders at the opening of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly in New York. Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, reacted to President Trump's address. Time and time again, President Trump has threatened to curtail the United States' obligations to the international human rights system and to the United Nations itself. In his remarks today, the word he said most often - sovereignty - underscored that his political agenda promotes political isolationism and undermines the global cooperation that protects vulnerable people from natural disasters, corrupt governments, and civil war.
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Pentagon reacts to chaos created by Trump's transgender military ban

(WASHINGTON, D.C., September 18, 2017)-On Friday, the Pentagon issued additional interim guidance regarding transgender troops. National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal (NCLR) Director Shannon Minter and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi, who together filed Doe v. Trump in federal district court to stop the transgender military ban, issued the following statement in response: "This 'guidance' simply underscores the serious and widespread harms being caused by President Trump's shocking and unsupported decision to ban transgender people from military service, reversing the policy of open service that has been in place for more than a year. This brief 'guidance' does nothing new: it does not stop the ban or the March target date for terminating current service members; it does not permit transgender people to join the military – now or ever; and it does not mitigate the most serious harms caused by this unprecedented assault on our nation's troops. President Trump's August 25 directive to ban transgender people from military service stated that the current policy remains in effect until March 23, so this iteration of that statement does nothing new. To the contrary, Secretary Mattis reiterated in Friday's memo that 'DOD will carry out the President's Policy and directives.'
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California Legislature Passes Equality California-Sponsored Bill to Reform Sex Offender Registry

Sacramento, CA - September 16, 2017 –  The California Legislature early Saturday morning approved a bill to reform California's sex offender registry, creating a tiered system that will make the registry a more effective tool for law enforcement and bring California's system in line with the rest of the United States. SB 384 was authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and co-authored by Senators Joel Anderson (R- Alpine), Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), and Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). The bill was sponsored by Equality California, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the California Sex Offender Management Board and was endorsed by the California Police Chiefs Association and various county sheriffs.
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Resolution Condemning Transgender Military Ban Clears California Legislature

Sacramento, CA - September 15, 2017 –The California Legislature has passed a resolution condemning the Trump Administration's ban on service in the military by transgender people and calling on the governor of California to direct the California National Guard to take no action that discriminates against transgender service members on the basis of their gender identity or expression, unless superseded by federal law. Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 22 was authored by Asm. Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) and sponsored by Equality California.
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Post-Charlottesville Hate Crimes Summit Coalition Recommendations to the Department of Justice

September 15, 2017 Today, a broad coalition of civil and human rights, religious, and educational organizations, including The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, sent a letter to the Department of Justice to recommend concrete steps the Department can and should take in the wake of the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville and elsewhere.  The letter also highlights the priorities of the broad coalition, which we hope will assist the Department in developing its plan of action following the June 29 hate crime summit.
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California Legislature Passes Bill Creating Non-Binary Gender for State Identification Documents

Sacramento, CA, September 15, 2017 –The California Legislature last night approved a bill that would make it easier to change gender markers on state-issued identification documents as well as create a gender-neutral, non-binary category in addition to "male" and "female." Senate Bill (SB) 179, authored by Sens. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California and the Transgender Law Center, would make California the second state in the country, after Oregon, to legally recognize a nonbinary gender.
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Discriminatory Ban Already Harming Transgender Troops and the U.S. Military, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN Tell Court

(SEATTLE, September 14, 2017) – Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN yesterday asked a federal court to halt immediately all steps taken to implement the Trump Administration's discriminatory plan to ban transgender individuals from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services.
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DNC on Senate Republicans Blocking Gillibrand/Collins Amendment to the NDAA

DNC on Senate Republicans Blocking Gillibrand/Collins Amendment to the NDAA
September 15, 2017 - In response to Senate GOP leadership's decision to block a vote on a bipartisan amendment to delay Trump's transgender military ban, DNC spokesperson Joel Kasnetz released this statement: "Last night, Republicans picked bigotry over security, and cowardice over taking a stand. By squashing even this incremental attempt to defend transgender members of the military against Trump's offensive executive order, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republican leadership are destroying lives and disrespecting the people who keep them safe.
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California Legislature Passes Bill Facilitating Name Changes for Transgender Inmates

Sacramento, CA - September 14, 2017 - The California Legislature today approved a bill that would help ensure that transgender people are recognized for who they are while incarcerated and would increase their likelihood of successful reentry into society on release. Senate Bill (SB) 310, by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), would require corrections officials to use the new name of a transgender person who obtains a name change, and to list the prior name only as an alias.
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Health, Human and Civil Rights Advocates Warn Trump HHS Will Weaken Health Law's Nondiscrimination Provision

Washington - September 14, 2017 – Even as another attempt surfaces in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid funding, the Trump administration is working to revise a provision of the law (Section 1557) that outlaws discrimination against sex and gender identity in federally funded health programs.
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ACLU Seeks Immediate Halt to Trump's Transgender Service Member Ban

BALTIMORE - September 14, 2017 - The American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP today asked a judge to immediately halt to the Trump administration's ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military while their lawsuit challenging the ban moves through the court system.
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California Legislature Passes "Bill of Rights" for LGBTQ Seniors in Long-Term Care

Sacramento CA - September 13, 2017–The California Legislature today approved a bill that would create a "bill of rights" for LGBTQ seniors in long-term care.  Senate Bill (SB) 219, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California, would help protect seniors from discrimination or mistreatment in long-term care facilities and provide standards for culturally-competent care.
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Lambda Legal Doubles Down on Opposition to Confirmation of Stephen S. Schwartz to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims

Washington, DC - September 13, 2017 – Last week, Lambda Legal and 27 other LGBT groups urged opposition to the nomination of Stephen S. Schwartz to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, whose nomination is slated for consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee at a markup hearing tomorrow morning. In the letter, organized and led by Lambda Legal, advocates argued that the Court of Federal Appeals has been of "tremendous importance to the LGBT community over the years, including most notably issues affecting LGBT people in the military," and also citing Schwartz's record in undermining the rights of LGBT people. The LGBT groups also said that Mr. Schwarz is unqualified for this position not only for his record, but also because of his lack of experience and his failure to meet the expectations set by the American Bar Association.
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The Leadership Conference Opposes the Confirmation of Joan Larsen to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

September 12, 2017 - The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights today sent a letter to the Senate in opposition to the confirmation of Joan Larsen, a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
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Palm Center Statement on Gillibrand-Collins NDAA Amendment

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -September 11, 2017Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin issued the following statement in reaction to the proposed amendment by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) to prevent President Trump from reinstating the military's transgender ban:

​"Congress would enhance military readiness by preventing President Trump from reinstating the transgender ban. Legislative action now would prevent uncertainty and disruption following from a ban and save money that would be wasted recruiting and training replacements. Many Republican leaders have made statements in support of transgender troops defending our nation, including Senators McCain, Collins, Murkowski, Hatch, Portman, Ernst, Tillis, Heller, Johnson, Toomey, Gardner, Shelby and Sullivan, and fifty-six retired Generals and Admirals have said that reinstating the transgender ban would degrade readiness.​

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Resolution Condemning Chechnya Violence Against Gay Men Clears California Legislature

Sacramento - September 11, 2017–The California Legislature has passed a resolution calling on Congress and the president to condemn violence against gay men in Chechnya. Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR 16), by Assemblymembers Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) and Jordan Cunningham (R-Templeton) and sponsored by Equality California, also calls on the president to encourage immigration authorities to grant asylum and refugee status to LGBTQ people and others fleeing persecution.
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Bipartisan Amendment Introduced to Protect Transgender Service Members from President Trump

WASHINGTON, D.C. - September 12, 2017 — Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation's largest organization of LGBT military families, hailed Senators Collins' and Gillibrand's introduction of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would prohibit the Department of Defense from removing qualified transgender service members from the military due to President Trump's transgender military ban.
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Statement on Passing of LGBTQ Heroine Edith Windsor

Washington, DC - September 12, 2017 – Victory Institute President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills released the following statement in response to the passing of Edith Windsor, plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor: "Our fierce heroine Edith Windsor devoted her final years to her people – the LGBTQ community – and will be remembered as a seminal figure in our inevitable march toward equality. Edith felt deeply the injustice of being denied the right to marry her partner of more than 40 years, and she committed herself to fighting back with determination and a smile. I will never forget Edith standing on the steps of the Supreme Court, describing marriage as more than just rights and benefits but also as 'magic' – a powerful recognition of indescribable love. Edith opened the door for all LGBTQ Americans to experience this magic – and we are forever indebted to her because of it."
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ACLU Mourns Edie Windsor

NEW YORK - September 12, 2017 - Edith Windsor, whose landmark Supreme Court case struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 and granted same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 88.
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TLC issues resources to prepare trans immigrants for ICE raids

(Oakland, CA) - September 8, 2017 – Today, Transgender Law Center released two resources in English and Spanish for immigrants in the transgender community to know their rights in the case of raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This follows the Trump administration's reversal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Tuesday, leaks of a planned and allegedly canceled "mega" raid, and months of increased targeting of immigrant communities.
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Civil and Human Rights Coalition: Sessions Justice Department Shamefully Supports LGBTQ Discrimination

WASHINGTON - September 7, 2017 – Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights issued the following statement after the Sessions Justice Department filed a brief today with the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In its brief, the government argues that businesses have a right to discriminate against LGBT customers: "It is shameful that the Sessions Justice Department is advocating for a constitutional right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. This disturbing action is counter to our Constitution, our anti-discrimination laws, and our core American values of justice, fairness, and inclusivity.
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185 Civil and Human Rights Groups Urge Congress to Immediately Pass the Dream Act

WASHINGTON – Today, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights along with 184 civil and human rights groups sent a letter to Congress to urge lawmakers to immediately pass the Dream Act without amendment.
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ACLU Comment on Justice Department Position in Masterpiece Cakeshop SCOTUS Case

WASHINGTON - September 7, 2017 - The Justice Department filed a brief today with the Supreme Court arguing that businesses that are open to the public have a constitutional right to discriminate against LGBT people.
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National LGBTQ Task Force Response to DeVos Action on Title IX

WASHINGTON, DC, SEPTEMBER 7, 2017: The following statement can be attributed to Stacey Long Simmons, Director of Advocacy and Action, National LGBTQ Task Force: "Today's announcement by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration to revise guidance on campus sexual assault points to a reversal of needed protections, especially for LGBTQ students and students with disabilities. Shame on DeVos and the Trump-Pence Administration for yet another example of their utter disregard for those who are most marginalized.
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Civil Rights Leaders Meet with Senate Democratic Leadership, Discuss Efforts to Combat Hate and Protect Civil Rights

WASHINGTON - September 7, 2017 – Today, civil rights leaders met with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other members of the Democratic caucus to discuss post-Charlottesville efforts to combat hate and protect civil rights. The groups participating in the meeting, convened at the request of Leader Schumer, included The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Anti-Defamation League; Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Human Rights Campaign; MALDEF; Muslim Advocates; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
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28 LGBT Groups Oppose Confirmation of Stephen S. Schwartz

Washington, DC - September 6, 2017 – Today, Lambda Legal and 27 other LGBT groups strongly opposed the confirmation of Stephen S. Schwartz to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, given this court's "tremendous importance to the LGBT community over the years, including most notably issues affecting LGBT people in the military," and Schwartz's record in undermining the rights of LGBT people. In a letter organized by Lambda Legal and sent to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee – who are expected to consider Schwartz's nomination at a markup on Thursday – LGBT groups said that Mr. Schwarz is unqualified for this position not only for his record, but also because of his lack of experience and his failure to meet the expectations set by the American Bar Association.
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GLSEN Responds To End Of DACA Program

(New York, NY) September 6, 2017 - The following statement, responding to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement yesterday morning of plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, can be attributed to Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN: "An estimated 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school each year, including many who are LGBTQ. Each and every one of them deserves the support and care they need to thrive. It is unconscionably cruel to threaten students with deportation from the only country they have ever known, simply because of how they came here. It is manifestly immoral to uproot their lives in the service of a political agenda. Moreover, it is a staggering breach of the trust these young people placed in our government by registering for the DACA program in the first place. GLSEN stands with the Dreamers, and urges all educators to provide whatever support they can for these students as they begin the school year in the shadow of this heartless and manipulative decision."
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Equality California Files Suit Against Trump Administration to Block Transgender Military Ban

Los Angeles, CA - September 5, 2017 - Equality California filed a lawsuit today in United States District Court for the Central District of California challenging the constitutionality of President Donald Trump's August 25 directive banning transgender people from enlisting or serving openly in the military, and denying them medically necessary healthcare.
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LGBT Asian Group Delivers 971 Postcards to Trump Preserve DACA

September 5, 2017 - Today, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) delivered 971 postcards from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders (APIs) and allies from across the country urging President Trump preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.   The program has helped thousands of LGBT API young people trying to work, study, and improve their lives in this country. The elimination of DACA till take away employment opportunities, educational opportunities, and even the slightest relief from fears of deportation.
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Trump's Decision to End DACA Could Put 75,000 LGBT Young People's Lives At Risk

(WASHINGTON, DC, September 5, 2017)-National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell issued the following statement in response to today's Trump administration announcement that it will be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program: "Today, the Trump administration needlessly took aim at the estimated 800,000 young people, including over 75,000 LGBT people, who came to the United States as children, work, pay taxes, and are protected from deportation under DACA. In doing so, the Trump administration rescinded not only this program but our country's promise to protect these young people-many of whom have never known a life outside of the U.S.
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Equality California: LGBTQ Americans Must Stand with Immigrants Following President's 'Inhumane' Order

Los Angeles - September 5, 2017 -Today, President Donald Trump issued an executive order revoking the temporary legal immigration status of hundreds of thousands of young people raised in the United States. The directive effectively voids an Obama-era program granting temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants under 30 who arrived in the United States as children. Enacted in 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allows those young people, often called DREAMers, to live and work in the United States for a renewable period of two years. Enforcement of the order will be delayed for six months to give Congress time to give Congress time to consider and pass legislation.
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Transgender Law Center denounces DACA reversal

September 5, 2017 -Today, the Trump administration announced a reversal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, through which hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children trusted the government with their information under the promise they would not be deported. Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center, the largest trans-led organization in the country, issued the following statement in response: "This is yet another unnecessary, cruel attack from the Trump administration that will devastate millions of families and communities across the country, including many transgender people who have only ever known the U.S. as home. At a time when the U.S. is raiding homes, militarizing the border, holding transgender people in abusive detention conditions, and denying asylum for transgender women who fear murder and persecution should they be sent back, this reversal is another act of violence adding to a climate of fear for our communities.
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Lambda Legal & Almost 50 Other LGBT Orgs Letter to DOJ Opposing Dreiband Nomination

Washington, DC - September 5, 2017 – Today, Lambda Legal and 46 other national, state, and local LGBT groups from across the country strongly opposed the confirmation of Eric S. Dreiband to serve as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Dept. of Justice, citing his "overwhelmingly anti-civil rights record" and his efforts to "diminish the rights of LGBT people and other vulnerable communities." In a letter organized by Lambda Legal and sent to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee – who are expected to hear testimony from Dreiband at a confirmation hearing on Wednesday morning – LGBT groups said that in light of the moral crisis facing the nation in the wake of Charlottesville, Dreiband's record of opposing civil rights "strongly suggests that he will continue to promote the anti-civil rights agenda of this administration, rather than exercise the kind of leadership and willingness to defend civil rights that is needed … now more than ever."
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Campus Pride releases Top 25 LGBTQ-friendly Listing of Colleges & Universities

September 5, 2017 - Campus Pride announced today the twenty-five colleges and universities leading the way for LGBTQ inclusion in policies, programs and practices across the United States. 
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