Political, Activism and Legal

LGBTQ Advocates Relieved Senate Fails to Pass TrumpCare Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. July 19, 2017 -U.S. Senators Moran and Lee have refused to vote on the so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), erasing the Republican party's hope of gaining 50 votes in favor, and effectively ending the third attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If passed, the bill would have destabilized the insurance market, gutted Medicaid spending, defunded Planned Parenthood, stripped essential health benefits and undermined care for people with pre-existing conditions, and overall increased the cost of insurance.
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Singapore Voids Marriage of Trans Woman And Her Wife

As The Straits Times has reported on July 18th, the Registry of Marriages ("the Registry") has voided the marriage of a transgender woman and her partner in an unprecedented case in Singapore condemned by OutRight Action International. Known as FK and BS, the couple were married in October 2015 while FK was still designated as male under Singaporean law. When applying for subsidised housing available only to married couples, Singapore's Housing and Development Board (HDB) questioned the couple's marriage because, by then, they were each legally registered as female. The marriage was then voided by the Registry and later the couple was denied marital housing.
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Palm Center Response to Gen. Selva's Transgender Service Claims During Armed Services Committee Hearing

GLSEN Responds As Sec. DeVos Stonewalls on Transparency About OCR Policy Changes on LGBTQ Students

(New York, NY) - July 18, 2017 - In a July 11 letter to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos claimed that the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, under President Obama, had overly broadened the scope of investigations into discrimination against students, leading to an inability to adequately investigate individual complaints. In the letter, DeVos also claimed that she saw herself as "returning the OCR to its role as a neutral, impartial investigative agency," alleging, without elaboration, that the agency had previously "value[d] one type of violation over another [and] one class of complainant over another."  In a July 14 response, Sen. Murray reiterated previous demands for full documentation of policy changes made by the OCR, including: lists of complaints made by transgender students and victims of sexual harassment, and their current status; the complete investigative manual currently being used by the OCR; and more. To date, Sen. Murray has not received a response.
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Lambda Legal Brings Together LGBT Groups Urging the Senate to Oppose the Confirmations of John Bush and Damien Schiff

Washington, DC - July 17, 2017 – Today, Lambda Legal and 26 other national LGBT groups urged the Senate to oppose the confirmations of John K. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and Damien Schiff to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, citing public statements and writings from both nominees and their repeated demonstration of "contempt for the rights of LGBT Americans, people living with HIV, women, and other vulnerable populations." In a letter sent https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/us_20170717_lgbt-groups-opposition-letter to the full Senate – just days after Bush and Schiff were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on party-line votes – LGBT groups opposed to the confirmations cite not only homophobic epithets and other anti-LGBT and misogynistic remarks made by nominees in their public speeches and writings, but also records that clearly illustrate their "views on civil rights issues are fundamentally at odds with the notion that LGBT people are entitled to equality, liberty, justice and dignity under the law."
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The Eliminate Hate Campaign: News outlets that properly label hate groups should never apologize

In response to attacks on news outlets for properly identifying the Alliance Defending Freedom as an anti-LGBTQ hate group, The Eliminate Hate Campaign released the following statement: "The Eliminate Hate Campaign stands by all media outlets doing their part to properly identify anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism. Alliance Defending Freedom has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their efforts to criminalize the LGBTQ community -- media outlets should never apologize for holding hate groups accountable for their actions."
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Pride Fund Endorses Elizabeth Guzman, Kathy Tran, and Zack Wittkamp in Virginia HD-31, HD-42, and HD-94

Pride Fund Endorses Elizabeth Guzman, Kathy Tran, and Zack Wittkamp in Virginia HD-31, HD-42, and HD-94
Washington, D.C, July 13, 2017Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC – America's only national LGBTQ political organization solely focused on gun violence prevention – today announced its endorsement of Elizabeth Guzman for Virginia's HD-31, Kathy Tran in HD-42, and Zack Wittkamp in HD-94 House of Delegates election.
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US House of REps Votes Down Amendment Ripping Away Critical Health Care for Trans Service Members & Military Famil

WASHINGTON, D.C. - July 13, 2017 - Today, OutServe-SLDN and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) praised a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives voting down a vicious amendment that would have ripped away medically necessary health care for transgender service members and military dependents. Proposed by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), the amendment would have barred access to transition-related health care - including critically important care such as hormone therapy - for service members and military family members. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 214 to 209.
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Lambda Legal: Today US Senate Committee Did More Harm While House Democratic Leaders Introduced Do No Harm Act

Washington, DC - July 13, 2017 – Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee (in a 11-9 vote along party lines), voted in favor of the nominations of John Bush and Damien Schiff for positions on the federal bench. Bush, who has been nominated for the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and Schiff, nominated for the US Court of Federal Claims, have virulent anti-civil rights records replete with anti-LGBT, misogynistic and racist rhetoric. Lambda Legal and 15 other national LGBT groups opposed their nominations, and will now take their message to the full Senate, which will vote on these nominees in the coming weeks. 
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Consumer fraud lawsuit filed against Berkeley therapist for charging over $70K for discredited conversion therapy

(San Francisco, CA, July 13, 2017)-Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP filed a complaint on behalf of Katherine McCobb, against California-licensed marriage and family therapist Lloyd Willey. Willey told McCobb that being a lesbian is unnatural and pathological and that her sexual orientation could be changed using therapy. The practice of so-called "conversion therapy" has been discredited by the American Psychological Association and other professional counseling organizations as ineffective, unethical, and dangerous. McCobb paid Willey more than $70,000 for eight years of therapy based on fraudulent, harmful lies.
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HRC: New Senate Proposal Jeopardizes Health Coverage for Millions of Americans

WASHINGTON - July 13, 2017 -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, responded to the latest draft of their so-called "health care" bill. While the Congressional Budget Office has yet to score this version of the legislation, a previous projection estimated the legislation will result in 22 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2026 -- with 15 million losing their insurance by the end of next year.
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ACLU Statement on Reintroduction of Do No Harm Act

WASHINGTON - July 13, 2017- Reps. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.), with the full support of the American Civil Liberties Union, reintroduced the Do No Harm Act in Congress today to ensure that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) continues to protect religious freedom without being used to discriminate against  women, the LGBT community, and others.
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LGBTQ Advocates Convene in Alexandria to Build Power of Movement

Leaders of state-based equality organizations-from Equality California to Equality Maine-and key national partners, will convene at Equality Federation's 20th annual Leadership Conference in Alexandria, Virginia July 26-29.
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BREAKING: House Rules Committee Voting on Radical Anti-Transgender NDAA Amendment

WASHINGTON, D.C. July 12, 2017 - Tonight, OutServe-SLDN and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) issued the following statements in response to Rep. Vicky Hartzler's (R-MO) attempts to add an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would rip away medically necessary health care for transgender service members and military dependents. After failing to amend the bill to ban transgender service members during markup before the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Hartzler has proposed a new amendment to the NDAA which would bar access to transition-related health care for military service members and their families. The House Rules Committee is allowing a vote on the amendment tonight.
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Conservatives Launch Full-Scale Campaign to Reinstate 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' for Transgender Troops

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - July 11, 2017 - A broad coalition of conservative activists, think tanks, pollsters, advocacy groups, politicians, and media outlets has launched an attack campaign to reinstate "don't ask, don't tell" for transgender service members. According to Palm Center director Aaron Belkin, "This is a full-scale effort to inflame the culture wars on the backs of loyal transgender troops."

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Human Rights Campaign Announces Largest Grassroots Expansion in its History, Opens New Offensive Against Trump-Pence Age

Washington, D.C. - July 11, 2017 -- The Human Rights Campaign today announced a bold, proactive grassroots expansion with the launch of HRC Rising, a campaign to accelerate progress in states from coast-to-coast, resist the politics of hate, fight anti-LGBTQ legislation, and fuel pro-equality candidates and initiatives. In June, HRC partnered on dozens of nationwide marches -- from the Los Angeles #ResistMarch to the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. and cities in between. HRC is harnessing that momentum to begin organizing for the 2018 elections earlier than ever before, with its biggest strategic investment in the organization's 37-year history.
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Equality California: Nomination of Eric Dreiband to Key Civil Rights Post a 'Terrible Signal'

Los Angeles – July 7, 2017  Equality California today expressed its opposition to President Donald Trump's nomination of Eric Dreiband, a lawyer who recently represented the University of North Carolina in its decision to implement provisions of that state's odious "bathroom bill", to serve as the Department of Justice's head of Civil Rights Enforcement.
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Rep. Gutierrez Responds to Puerto Rican Statehood Party Senate President's LGBT Slur

Washington, DC - July 5, 2017 – Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) responded to Thomas Rivera Schatz, Puerto Rican Senate President and a leader of the Statehood Party, who used the masculine pronoun "senor" repeatedly to describe Ana Matosantos, the only female member of Puerto Rico's Financial Oversight and Management Board (known locally as the Junta de Supervision Fiscal or simply the Junta).  It occurred during a radio interview with Carmen Jovet on AM 610 NotiUno radio (link) and was widely regarded as a homophobic slur from a politician and party with a record of hostility towards the LGBT community.
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NCAVP mourns the homicide of Ebony Morgan, a Black transgender woman killed in Lynchburg, VA

July 5, 2017 - The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) mourns the homicide of Ebony Morgan, a black transgender woman, killed in Lynchburg, Virginia on July 2nd, 2017. According to the Virginia Anti-Violence Project (VAVP), she was shot and died early Sunday morning at Lynchburg General Hospital. Local media originally misnamed and misgendered Ebony.
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RI General Assembly Approves Bill Banning Conversion Therapy for Minors

(Providence, RI - July 1, 2017) - The Rhode Island General Assembly last night voted for final passage of a bill sponsored by Rep. Edith Ajello to prohibit licensed mental health providers from using the discredited and harmful practice on children and adolescents.
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Palm Center Director Concerned by Continuation of Military's Transgender Ban

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - June 30, 2017 - In response to Defense Secretary James Mattis's decision to delay implementing rules allowing transgender applicants to join the military, Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin released the following statement:"Secretary Mattis's decision to prolong the enlistment ban will have the effect of requiring applicants to lie in order to join the military, as was the case under 'don't ask, don't tell.' That makes no sense because, as predicted by all of the research, transgender military service has been a success.
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OutServe-SLDN responds to DoD's Six-Month Delay in Transgender Recruitment Policy

(WASHINGTON) June 30, 2017 – OutServe-SLDN, the nation's leading and largest LGBT military & veterans issued the following statement today, in response to the Pentagon's statement, first reported by the Washington Post, that there will be a six-month delay in the enactment of policies allowing qualified, transgender individuals to enter military service.
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BREAKING: Pentagon Delays New Transgender Recruitment Policy By Six Months

WASHINGTON, D.C. June 30, 2017 – Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation's largest non-profit organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) military families, responded to news that the Department of Defense (DoD) is delaying the implementation of a new policy that will eventually allow transgender people to enlist and commission into the military. The delay will not prevent the thousands of currently serving transgender troops from continuing to serve. According to a report last week, the service chiefs recommended the six month delay to "gauge if currently serving transgender troops are facing problems and what necessary changes the military bases might have to make."
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NCAVP mourns the intimate partner violence homicide of Gerald Moore in Madison, Wisconsin

June 30, 2017- The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) has learned of the intimate partner violence related homicide of Gerald Moore, which occurred on June 24, 2017. According to local media reports, Gerald died after being stabbed multiple times by Ronald Redeaux, his roommate. The two were in a relationship, and according to police, officers had responded to domestic disturbances at their home in the past; Redeaux had been arrested for domestic battery.
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4 days after NCLR wins U.S. Supreme Court case Pavan, TX Supreme Court allows unconstitutional claim to continue

(San Francisco, CA, June 30, 2017)-Today, the Texas Supreme Court issued its decision in Pidgeon v. Turner, deciding that a case challenging government-provided spousal benefits to same-sex spouses may continue. On Monday, the National Center for Lesbian Rights won U.S. Supreme Court case Pavan v. Smith, which affirmed that the 2015 marriage equality decision Obergefell v. Hodges requires the equal treatment of same-sex married couples. National Center for Lesbian Rights Deputy Director Cathy Sakimura issued the following statement in response: "Obergefell and Pavan plainly require equal treatment of married same-sex couples. It is disappointing-and inexplicable-that the Court would allow this case to continue, and that the Texas Supreme Court did not simply resolve this now. There is no need for further litigation on this issue, which will only take up unnecessary time and resources. The law is clear, and the Supreme Court has now removed any possible question or uncertainty by issuing the Pavan decision earlier this week.  States must provide married same-sex couples with exactly the protections and benefits as opposite-sex married couples. The Texas Supreme Court merely delayed this inevitable ruling."
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Equality Texas Releases Statement

Equality Texas Releases Statement
TEXAS – June 30, 2017 – On February 27, 2017, Equality Texas filed an amicus brief with the Texas Supreme Court in the case of Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks v. Mayor Sylvester Turner and City of Houston (formerly Pidgeon et al, v. Parker). Equality Texas filed the Amicus Brief on behalf of 35,000 Texans, including married LGBT Texans like L.J. and M.P. whose rights are directly implicated by this case.
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NCAVP mourns the homicide of Ava Le'Ray Barrin, a black transgender teenage girl killed in Athens, GA

June 29, 2017 - The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) mourns the homicide of Ava Le'Ray Barrin, a black transgender teenage girl, killed in Athens, Georgia on June 25th, 2017. According to media reports, Ava was fatally shot after an argument with Jalen Brown, an acquaintance. Brown has been charged with her murder and aggravated assault. Ava, who was seventeen years old, is the youngest transgender person killed this year. Friends and family came from as far as Chicago to mourn and remember her life at a vigil in Athens on Monday.
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ACLU Statement on Nomination of Head of Civil Rights at Department of Justice

WASHINGTON - June 29 - President Trump nominated today Eric Dreiband to serve as the head of the Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice. Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office, issued the following statement: "Dreiband has made a career going against women and LGBT rights. As a lawyer for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under President George W. Bush, Dreiband testified before Congress against legislation that would prevent wage discrimination. As a private attorney, Dreiband represented organizations seeking religious exemptions to avoid providing contraceptive coverage for women in the workplace. He also argued on behalf of the University of North Carolina in support of a law that discriminates against trans people.
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Amid Spike In Hate Crimes, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Calls for Response and Action

Amid Spike In Hate Crimes, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Calls for Response and Action
June 29, 2017 - The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law responded on Thursday to a new report detailing the lack of accurate data on hate crimes incidents.  The under-reporting of hate crimes is attributable, in part, to a lack of trust among targeted communities who do not feel safe reporting incidents of hate to law enforcement.
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