Political, Activism and Legal

House LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus calls for action after murder of transgender teen

House LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus calls for action after murder of transgender teen
HARRISBURG, July 10 After the murder of a 14-year-old transgender individual in Mercer County, members of the PA House LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus released the following statement: "We mourn the death of Pauly Likens and refuse to stand idly by while LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians are targeted because of who they are. It's unacceptable that current hate crime laws in our commonwealth are not applied to crimes motivated by a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity.
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14-Year-Old Transgender Girl Pauly Likens Brutally Murdered in Western PA

SHARON, Pa. Mercer County officials have confirmed that Pauly Likens, a 14-year-old transgender girl from Sharon who was last seen on June 22, 2024, has been found brutally murdered. The Mercer County Coroner announced on Wednesday that the dismembered human remains found on June 25, 2024 around the Shenango River Lake by Pennsylvania State Police were of Pauly Likens. The Coroner shared that she died by sharp force trauma to her head before being sawed into pieces and abandoned in locations around the lake. DaShawn Watkins, a 29-year-old man from Sharon, was arrested by State Police on July 2, 2024, and has been charged with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, aggravated assault, and tampering with physical evidence involving Likens' death. He is being held without bail at the Mercer County Prison. The suspect's preliminary hearing has been rescheduled for July 25, 2024. Today, July 6, 2024, would have been Pauly's 15th birthday.
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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Oregon City's Draconian Ban Targeting the Unhoused to Go into Effect

(Washington, DC, June 28, 2024) The United States Supreme Court today reversed a lower court ruling that had blocked enforcement of an Oregon city's draconian ordinance criminalizing people experiencing homelessness. Lambda Legal, the Juvenile Law Center, the law firm Baker McKenzie, and 223 experts on unhoused youth, including young people who have experienced homelessness, had submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Court in the case, City of Grants Pass v. Johnson, underscoring the particular harm the unconstitutional ban posed to unhoused youth, many of whom face rejection and abuse at home and face additional barriers to accessing other housing.
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Marriage Equality Bill Passes PA House for First Time in State History

HARRISBURG, Pa. The PA House passed a bill anchoring marriage equality within a state statute in a historic 133-68 vote Tuesday afternoon. This vote on HB 2269 is the first time marriage equality legislation has been moved through a chamber of the General Assembly. The bill received support from all House Democrats except for Rep. Frank Burns (D-Cambria), joined by 32 House Republicans about one-third of House Republicans present in the chamber for the vote. The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee with a 17-8 vote on June 12, 2024.
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Lambda Legal "Relieved" by Braidwood v. Becerra Decision on Preventative Care

(New Orleans, LA, June 21, 2024) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit today issued its ruling in Braidwood v. Becerra, a challenge to the Affordable Care Act's coverage mandate. Lambda Legal HIV Project Director Jose Abrigo issued the following statement:
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Parent of Transgender Student Gives Public Remarks for the First Time at Florida School Board Meeting Amid Investigation Fraught with Anti-Transgender Bias

COCONUT CREEK, Florida - June 18, 2024 - Today, Jessica Norton, the mother of a transgender student athlete and employee of Monarch High School, gave her first public remarks at the Broward County School Board meeting amid the seven-month long investigation of allegedly violating the Fairness in Women's Sports Act. The school board was scheduled to consider a final recommendation from the Superintendent that Norton be terminated from her employment with the District, but unexpectedly withdrew the agenda item last Friday without giving notice or explanation. Despite this change, Norton, accompanied by her husband Gary, still gave public comment about the investigation, which has been tainted with anti-transgender bias, mischaracterizations and factual inaccuracies.
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In Stunning Rebuke of State Superintendent Ryan Walters, Oklahoma's GOP Governor and Legislature Take Major Steps to Limit Walters' Power

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - June 14, 2024 - In a stunning rebuke of a statewide public official by senior leaders in his own party, the Oklahoma state budget signed today by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt - after being passed by a supermajority Republican legislature - undercuts State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters' authority. Alongside the budget, Gov. Stitt issued an executive order that meaningfully curtails the ability of the state superintendent to spend taxpayer funding on his own personal public relations. These significant legislative and executive steps come after months of Oklahomans demanding accountability for Walters' failed leadership and dangerous rhetoric and policies - including but not limited to matters of LGBTQ+ equality.
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ICYMI: New Data Shows Majority Support for LGBTQ+ Equality, Rejection of Anti-LGBTQ+ Agenda

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A strong majority of Americans across partisan divides support LGBTQ+ equality, according to polling data released this morning. In a series of survey questions conducted by the polling organization Navigator Research, nearly two-thirds of respondents indicated support for including sexual orientation and gender identity in federal nondiscrimination protections. That includes 58% of Independents, as well as 42% of Republicans polled.
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Victory! Appeals Court Overturns Ruling Upholding Oklahoma's Discriminatory Birth Certificate Policy

(Denver, CO, June 18, 2024) Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit overturned a lower court ruling that had dismissed a lawsuit challenging Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt's discriminatory birth certificate policy, which categorically prohibits transgender people from correcting the gender marker on their birth certificates to match their gender identity.
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Thailand Takes Monumental Step Towards Marriage Equality

New York, New York - June 18, 2024 - Thailand's Senate passed a historic marriage equality law, marking a milestone in Asia's journey towards recognizing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people. Marriage equality is set to become law through Royal Assent 120 days after its announcement today in the Royal Gazette.
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Record Number of Companies Participate in Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Brazilian LGBTQIA+ Workplace Equality Index; Impacts More Than 850,000 Employees

WASHINGTON The Human Rights Campaign Foundation's 'HRC Equidade BR: Global Workplace Equality Program' is the leading benchmarking survey and report recognizing employers in Brazil that have demonstrated a commitment to LGBTQIA+ equality by adopting crucial LGBTQIA+-inclusive policies and practices for their employees. Created in partnership with Instituto Mais Diversidade and the Forum de Empresas e Direitos LGBTI+, the third annual report names 79 organizations that earned the maximum score and were recognized with the 2024 HRC Foundation designation of "Best Places to Work for LGBTQIA+ People," or in Brazil, "Melhores Empresas Para Pessoas LGBTQIA+ Trabalharem." Participation also increased from 91 employers last year to 124 in 2024. The HRC Foundation's work in Brazil impacts more than 850,000 employees working for inclusive organizations nationwide.
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PA Equality Project to Hold Goodwill Fundraising Donation Drive

Pennsylvania Equality Project will be hosting a fundraising donation drive in cooperation with Goodwill of Northwest Pennsylvania on Saturday, July 13, from 11 AM until 5 PM at Diamond Park in Meadville. The fundraising drive will happen during the Crawford County Pride event.
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