Political, Activism and Legal

Civil and Human Rights Coalition Raises Serious Concerns About Attorney General Sessions' Job Performance

WASHINGTON - October 17, 2017 – Today, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the eve of the oversight hearing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, raising serious concerns about the Justice Department's record on issues that are critically important to the civil and human rights community. The hearing marks the first appearance by Attorney General Sessions before that committee.
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Equality California's 2017 Legislative Wrap-Up: Seven Sponsored Bills Signed by Governor

Sacramento - October 17, 2017 - With his signature on Sunday of Senate Bill (SB) 179, authored by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), and SB 310 (Atkins), California Governor Jerry Brown has signed seven Equality California-sponsored bills, ending the 2017 legislative session and bringing the total number of resolutions and bills successfully sponsored by Equality California over the organization's history to 127. In addition, lawmakers this session approved two resolutions sponsored by Equality California
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New report on religious exemptions as license to discriminate

Denver, CO, October 17, 2017 - Today, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) released a new report, Tipping the Scales: The Coordinated Attack on LGBT People, Women, Parents, Children, and Health Care, detailing the alarming and widespread push to pass a variety of religious exemptions laws that would give businesses, government agencies and individuals a right to discriminate on religious or moral grounds.
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GLAD & NCLR Call Out Trump Administration For Attempting to "Paper Over the Wreckage" Caused by Transgender Military Ban

(WASHINGTON, D.C., October 16, 2017)-Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) hit back at the Trump administration's defense of its transgender service ban in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. NCLR and GLAD filed a brief refuting last week's Trump Administration claims that no harms have resulted from the ban. In their brief, NCLR and GLAD demonstrate to the court why Interim Guidance issued by the military does not protect transgender troops from the irreparable harms the ban has been inflicting on them since it was announced in July.  NCLR and GLAD urge the court to stop the ban now, before it takes full effect in March 2018.
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Lambda Legal Leads 35 LGBT Groups Demanding President Trump Withdraw Jeff Mateer's Nomination to Federal Bench

Washington, DC - October 16, 2017 – Today, Lambda Legal and 35 other national, state, and local LGBT advocacy groups sent a letter to members of the United States Senate strongly urging them to demand that President Trump immediately withdraw his nomination of Jeff Mateer to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, declaring that "his brazen contempt for LGBT people renders him wholly unfit for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench."
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Groundbreaking Legislation to Honor Dignity of Transgender People in Prison Is Signed Into Law by Governor Brown

(Sacramento, CA, October 16, 2017) – Last night, for the first time in California history, legislation written by currently and formerly incarcerated transgender people was signed into law. Senate Bill 310 (the Name and Dignity Act), authored by Senator Toni Atkins of San Diego and co-authored by Senator Beall, Senator Wiener, Assemblymember Chiu, Assemblymember Garcia, Assemblymember Gloria, and Assemblymember Stone, makes it possible for transgender people currently in custody to petition the superior court for a legal name and gender marker change. This legislation allows transgender people to have their chosen names respected while incarcerated and eases the re-entry process for transgender people by ensuring that they have legal documents that match their gender presentation upon release. This breaks down barriers in accessing housing, employment and healthcare.
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CA Gov. Brown Signs Nonbinary Identification Option & Other LGBTQ Equality Bills

October 16, 2017 - California Governor Jerry Brown has signed several bills into law that will ensure fairness and equality for LGBTQ Californians including a bill that will allow for a nonbinary gender marker on state issued IDs, a bill of rights protecting LGBTQ seniors, and an update to the state's HIV criminalization laws.
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Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Protect Trans Service Members From President Trump

WASHINGTON, DC - October 13, 2017  - Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation's largest organization of LGBT military families, praised members of Congress for introducing bipartisan legislation that would help protect transgender service members from being discharged because of President Trump's unconscionable transgender military ban. The legislation was introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Susan Davis (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Adam Smith (D-WA), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The Senate version was introduced in September by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jack Reed (D-RI).
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Transgender Teen Who Died By Suicide Protected By Federal Sex Discrimination Protections, Federal Court Rules

(San Diego, CA, October 13, 2017)-Yesterday, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Transgender Law Center (TLC) filed an amended complaint on behalf of the mother of a transgender boy in her lawsuit against a hospital for discrimination against her son. Katharine Prescott filed the amended complaint after the Court's ruling on September 27 that the Affordable Care Act's sex discrimination protections apply to transgender kids. The Court also ruled that Ms. Prescott is entitled to seek emotional distress damages on behalf of her son, who died by suicide a few weeks after his experience at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego (RCHSD) for inpatient care.
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Trump is Trying to Single-Handedly Sabotage Access to Health Care!

WASHINGTON-DC,  October 12, 2017 - Today, President Trump signed an executive order that will decimate access to care for those who need it most. The following statement can be attributed to Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force: "Trump's executive order undermines key protections provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that prevent discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. Included in the executive order is a directive to expand access to plans that fail to offer necessary services, like mental health and substance use care, pregnancy and childbirth care and prescription drug coverage. Promoting skimpier plans will ultimately make costs higher for the people who need health care the most, like the 65% of LGBTQ people who live with a pre-existing condition.
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No Deal with the Devil, Not this time! What we need is a CLEAN Dream Act

Congressional lawmaking is often likened to making sausage – stuffing casing with a mix of the real thing and mystery meat. Horse-trading and unrelated riders onerous to those who would support a good bill is a time-honored tradition.  The result is that Americans often pay a high price when laws are made. This time, the President has beat Congress to the punch.
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Outserve-SLDN joins amicus in support of Lambda Legal's cert petition to the Supreme Court in Evans v. Georgia Regional

(WASHINGTON) October 11, 2017 – Yesterday, OutServe-SLDN joined with 10 other organizations including the Human Rights Campaign, GLAD, NCLR and SAGE in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital. The brief can be read here.
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ACLU Comment on Bipartisan Bill Halting Ban on Transgender Military Service Members

WASHINGTON - October 13, 2017 - Democratic and Republican members of Congress introduced a new bill in Congress (H.R. 4041) today that seeks an immediate halt to the Trump administration's ban on transgender people serving in the military.
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Legal Advocates in Fight Against Trump Transgender Military Ban Praise Congressional Demand for Answers

(WASHINGTON, D.C., October 10, 2017)-More than 100 Members of Congress wrote to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asking him to provide any "discussions or correspondence between the White House and the Pentagon" that purportedly informed President Trump's decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military. 
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Voters Guide

Voters Guide
Candidates for Erie County Executive, Erie County Council, Erie City Mayor, and Erie City Council were asked about their positions on GLBT issues. Their responses appear below. Names are linked to campign web sites where appropriate.
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New Bilingual LGBT Popup Ads On YouTube Counter The Politics Of Division And Hate

NEW YORK – For LGBTQ National Coming Out Day on October 11, emotionally moving new videos of Asian parents of LGBT children appeared as pop up ads on YouTube before viewers watch their favorite Chinese Soap Opera, Filipino comedy, Korean drama, Vietnamese talent show, or Bollywood movie. 
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Trevor Project Condemns Trump's "License to Discriminate"

October 6, 2017 - The Trevor Project, the nation's leading suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, condemns the Department of Justice's guidance today that grants a dangerous "license to discriminate" against LGBTQ people. This so-called guidance follows the department's move yesterday to rescind Title XII protections and allow discrimination against transgender people.
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Governor Signs Bill Modernizing California HIV Laws

Sacramento, Calif. - October 6, 2017 - - Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law landmark legislation to reform outdated laws that unfairly criminalized and stigmatized people living with HIV. Senate Bill (SB) 239 was authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Asm. Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and cosponsored by Equality California, the ACLU of California, APLA Health, Black AIDS Institute, Lambda Legal and Positive Women's Network – USA. These organizations are part of Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform (CHCR), a broad coalition of people living with HIV, HIV and health service providers, civil rights organizations and public health professionals dedicated to ending the criminalization of people living with HIV in California.
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Governor Brown Signs Equality California-Sponsored Bill to Reform California's Sex Offender Registry

Sacramento, Calif. - October 6, 2017 –California Gov. Jerry Brown today signed 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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GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders Responds to AG Sessions' October 6 Memo Regarding Federal Law and Religion

October 6, 2017 - GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) responded to the memorandum issued today by Attorney General Jeff Sessions today entitled "Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty."&nbsp The memorandum states 20 "high level principles" that all federal administrative agencies and executive departments must follow as employers, as regulators, and as they provide contracts and grants to those doing valuable work in the public interest.
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Civil and Human Rights Coalition Blasts Trump's Roll Back of Contraception Mandate

WASHINGTON - October 6, 2017 – Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on the Trump administration's new rule that will roll back the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act: "This is a direct attack on women's rights. The Trump administration is using the guise of religious liberty to carry out their ideological agenda to deprive women of basic reproductive health care. The obstacles caused by the roll back of the contraception mandate will harm millions of women, especially low-income women and women of color, across the country, affecting where they go to work, go to school, or receive health care.
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NCLR responds to Trump Administration's Attack on Birth Control

WASHINGTON, D.C. - October 6, 2017 -In yet another assault on access to health care, the Trump administration today issued a regulation that would dramatically undermine an essential benefit under the Affordable Care Act-insurance coverage for birth control. Following thwarted attempts by Congress to gut health care coverage, the administration implemented a sweeping exemption permitting any employer who cites a religious or moral objection to deny coverage for birth control.
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Washington State Parent Sues Employer for Denying Insurance Coverage to Transgender Son

SEATTLE - October 5, 2017 - The ACLU of Washington filed a civil rights lawsuit today against PeaceHealth, a Catholic healthcare organization, on behalf of Cheryl Enstad and her teenage son, Pax, for denying coverage under its health benefits plan for medically necessary surgery to Pax simply because of who he is. The suit says that PeaceHealth's policy of refusing to cover medical care required by transgender people is discrimination and violates federal and state law.
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Two Punches Against Trans Community in One Day from Trump Administration; NCLR and GLAD Respond

Washington, D.C. - October 5, 2017 – The Trump administration today landed two punches against transgender Americans, first asking the courts to dismiss a legal challenge to President Trump's ban on military service by transgender people, and then separately rolling back important employment discrimination protections for transgender workers across the country. Taken together, the two actions reinforce an agenda focused on promoting discrimination against some of the nation's most vulnerable communities, and underscore the importance of the judiciary now more than ever – as one of the only backstops to an administration committed to dismantling rights and protections for LGBT people.
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ACLU Statement on DOJ Rescinding Title VII Protections for Transgender Workers

WASHINGTON - October 5, 2017 - Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed a federal government policy yesterday that clarified that transgender people are protected from sex discrimination in the workplace under Title VII.
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Civil and Human Rights Coalition Denounces Senate Committee for Advancing Nominations of Dreiband & Others

WASHINGTON - October 5, 2017 – Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on the party line advancement by the Senate Judiciary Committee of Eric Dreiband's nomination for Assistant Attorney General to the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, and Amy Barrett and Joan Larsen to U.S. Courts of Appeals. "At a time when our country desperately needs every tool to protect civil rights, the Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced Eric Dreiband – a man who has worked to narrow the scope of civil rights laws enforced by the very office he was chosen to lead.
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DOJ First Trans Military Ban Lawsuit Response: NCLR and GLAD Statement

(WASHINGTON, D.C., October 5, 2017)-Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) spoke out against the Department of Justice's response in Doe v. Trump, the first of four cases filed to stop President Trump's transgender military ban. In the government's motion to dismiss the case and oppose plaintiffs' request for emergency relief, the Trump administration falsely claimed transgender individuals have not yet suffered harm from this policy. GLAD and NCLR, who are set to respond to the government's motions in court later this month, reiterated the compelling need to put an immediate halt to the ban: transgender Americans looking to enlist are not able to do so, and currently-serving transgender servicemembers have been demeaned and stigmatized, denied health care, and are facing the loss of their professions, livelihoods, health care, and the post-military retirement they have worked hard to earn.
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Gov. Brown Signs "Bill of Rights" for LGBTQ Seniors in Long-Term Care

Sacramento - October 4, 2017 –California Governor Jerry Brown today signed a bill that creates 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, will help protect seniors from discrimination or mistreatment in long-term care facilities.
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Lambda Legal Leads More Than 60 LGBT Rights Orgs in Fight Against Nomination of Eric Dreiband to Run DOJ’s Civil Right

Washington, DC - October 4, 2017 – Today, Lambda Legal and more than 60 national, state, and local LGBT groups from across the country urged the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the nomination of Eric S. Dreiband to serve as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Dept. of Justice
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Equality California: U.S. Death Penalty Vote Highlights "abdication of any role advancing" Civil Rights

Los Angeles - October 3, 2017 –  In response to today's "no" vote by the United States on a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution condemning discriminatory use of the death penalty, including in countries where it is directed at LGBTQ people, Equality California executive director Rick Zbur issued the following statement: "We are disappointed but not surprised that our country today once again chose to stand, not with other industrialized democracies, but with Iraq, Saudi Arabia and China in supporting a resolution that simply calls upon U.N. member states to not apply the death penalty in a discriminatory manner. As the resolution recognizes, the death penalty has been used disproporationately around the world to target the poor, foreign nationals, political dissidents, women, ethnic and religious minorities and LGBTQ people.
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Missouri Court of Appeals Says Non-Biological Parent Can Seek Custody Based on Significant, Bonded Relationship

(St. Louis, MO, October 3, 2017)-Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) won an appeal on behalf of Kathleen M., a lesbian mother in Missouri who has been allowed to seek shared custody or visitation with her son. In the case K.M.M. v. K.E.W., the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District ruled that a non-biological parent who raised a child from birth can seek custody or visitation.
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Movement to End Police Violence in St. Louis is Met with Police Violence

WASHINGTON-DC - October 3, 2017: The National LGBTQ Task Force strongly condemns the ongoing police assaults of peaceful demonstrators in St. Louis as near daily protests continue following the verdict of not guilty in a first-degree murder case involving St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley. St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson announced his not guilty verdict on Friday, September 15 in Stockley's killing of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man.  Like the community's response to the police officer's exoneration in the killing of Mike Brown, St. Louisans have protested the Stockley verdict in the streets, at the malls, and frequently within the area surrounding Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.
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GLAD & NCLR Join as Co-Counsel in Equality CA Lawsuit Against Pres Trump's Transgender Military Ban

LOS ANGELES (October 2, 2017) – Equality California announced today that the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)the LGBT legal organizations leading the fight against the Trump Administration's transgender military ban, have joined as co-counsel in its lawsuit challenging the ban, Stockman v. Trump. Equality California is a plaintiff in the suit together with seven individual plaintiffs who are currently serving or have taken steps to enlist.
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Civil Rights Progress At Stake In New Supreme Court Term Opening Next Week

September 29, 2017 - The new term of the United States Supreme Court beginning Monday comes at a critical moment for civil rights.  Several cases pose major implications for racial minorities on issues like prohibitions on class action lawsuits, voting, and equal access under public accommodations laws.  In addition, the Court may consider the constitutionality of President Trump's Muslim ban, a case that was postponed in light of the administration's third attempt to justify discrimination on the basis of religion and country of origin. 
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Civil and Human Rights Coalition Calls on Trump to Nominate HHS Secretary Dedicated to the Health of All

WASHINGTON - September 29, 2017 – Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement following the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price: "Secretary Price's gross misuse of taxpayer funds may have been the ultimate cause for his resignation, but he failed in many ways to honor the legacy of his office. He was an integral part of Republican efforts to take health care away from millions and end the Medicaid program, and he called for massive budget cuts to our health system.
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Commission Approves LGBTQ-Inclusive Textbooks for Adoption by CA State Board of Education

SAN FRANCISCO - On Thursday, Sept. 29, the California Department of Education's Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) voted to approve 10 History-Social Science K-8 textbooks which were inclusive of the LGBTQ content mandated by the state's 2016 History-Social Science Framework. Most were approved conditional upon edits provided by the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition, a group of LGBTQ advocacy and educational organizations formed to ensure implementation of the state's 2012 FAIR Education Act, which requires the inclusion of the political, economic, and social contributions of LGBTQ people and people with disabilities in California textbooks.
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PFAW Releases New Digital Ad Opposing Nomination of Anti-LGBTQ Extremist Jeff Mateer to a Federal Judgeship

WASHINGTON DC - September 29, 2017 -Today, People For the American Way (PFAW) released a digital ad urging viewers to call their senators and demand that Jeff Mateer's nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas be withdrawn. The ad features footage from a 2015  speech titled "The Church and Homosexuality" in which Mateer said transgender children are part of "Satan's plan" of "destruction." In addition, it includes video footage of far-right pastor Kevin Swanson advocating for the death penalty for gay people during a 2015 conference he organized and where Mateer agreed to speak.
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National LGBTQ Task Force Statement On Census Victory

WASHINGTON-DC - September 28, 2017: Today, the US Census Bureau reversed a previous decision to exclude a question on sexual orientation from the Census Barriers, Attitudes and Motivators Study. In response to this victory, Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, issued the following statement: "Make no mistake - public pressure on the Trump Administration works. It was messages from the members of the National LGBTQ Task Force and our partner organizations that compelled the Census Bureau to reverse their appalling decision to stop counting us. Thanks to the efforts of people across the country, the Census will continue collecting data about sexual orientation. We also will continue to push them to collect data about gender identity. Data about the LGBTQ community is absolutely crucial to ensuring that we are distributed the resources we need, that we are represented, and that the most vulnerable in our community are protected."
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Lambda Legal Applauds Rep. Ellison's Resolution Calling for Better Policies To Protect Transgender Americans

Washington, DC - September 28, 2017 – Lambda Legal today applauded U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison for introducing a House Resolution that calls for increased attention to the violence and discrimination faced by transgender women of color and the creation of better policies and practices to protect transgender Americans.  
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