RUBIO RECAP: IN SOUTH CAROLINA PUSH, RUBIO EMPHASIZES HIS ANTI-LGBT POSITIONS: Florida Senator Marco Rubio is pushing hard to emphasize his anti-LGBT positions in the run up to the South Carolina primary, where exit polling in 2012 reported that nearly two-thirds of Republican primary voters described themselves as born-again, evangelical Christians. Rubio praised Justice Scalia’s opposition to marriage equality early in the debate Saturday, and then closed the debate by saying, “[w]e are going to be a country that says that, ‘life begins at conception and life is worthy of the protection of our laws.’ We’re going to be a country that says ‘that marriage is between one man and one woman.’” On CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, Rubio said of Obergefell, “I disagree with the decision. I’ve always said I think it’s bad law.” And he rolled out an anti-LGBT advisory board dedicated to overturning marriage equality (Rubio has already rolled out a similar advisory committee on “religious liberty”). More here: bit.ly/1To4NZd
ICYMI: JEB BUSH CAMPAIGNS FOR MORE KIM DAVIS-LIKE DISCRIMINATION: In South Carolina Friday, Jeb Bush announced his support for the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA), which would allow public employees to engage in Kim Davis-like discrimination against LGBT people, among others. Bush joins Cruz, Trump, and Rubio in support of the discriminatory legislation — leaving Ohio Gov. John Kasich as the only candidate who has not taken a position on the bill. As introduced, FADA would allow government employees to spread more Kim Davis-like discrimination against LGBT people. Government employees could use FADA to cite religious objections and argue that they would not be required to serve same-sex couples. More here: bit.ly/1Knvs5Q
DISPATCH FROM TIME TO THRIVE; AND A CALL TO ACTION FOR TRANS YOUTH: This past weekend, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation held the third annual Time To THRIVE (T2T) conference in Dallas, Texas — and made a bold call to action to support transgender youth nationwide. With dozens of state bills pending targeting transgender youth, HRC has announced that on April 28th, it will help organize nationwide readings of “I Am Jazz,” a children’s book by transgender teen and HRC Youth Ambassador Jazz Jennings. The T2T conference attracted hundreds of youth-serving professionals, including teachers, counselors and coaches, and featured inspiring speeches by Jazz Jennings; Secretary Julian Castro, head of the federal Housing and Urban Development agency; ABC’s John Quinones of the popular program “What Would You Do?”; LGBT ally and advocate Betty DeGeneres; and celebrity trainer Bob Harper of “The Biggest Loser.” The National Education Association and the National Coalition Against Censorship are partnering with the HRC Foundation in the April day of action, when readings of Jazz’s book, coauthored by Jessica Herthel, will take place in schools, libraries, and homes across the country. More here: bit.ly/20BnzeW
HEALTHCARE CHALLENGES OF TRANS PEOPLE HIGHLIGHTED BY NYT: In a thorough and thoughtful piece published today, a New York Times reporter lays out clearly the challenges faced by transgender people who seek both routine and emergency medical care. Reporter Abby Ellin features the frustrating and, at times, humiliating experience of HRC Foundation’s Beck Bailey, a transgender man, after he sustained a traumatic knee injury during a skiing accident. “I don’t expect every doctor in the world to become an expert in trans medicine,” says Bailey, HRC Foundation’s deputy director of employee engagement, “but I do think they should be knowledgeable enough to know what they don’t know and pick up the phone and call an expert.” Ellin’s story highlights a persistent and growing problem: the lack of medical professionals trained and appropriately qualified to treat trans patients, at a time when more and more employers are offering trans-inclusive insurance coverage. Tari Hanneman, deputy director of the Health and Aging Program at HRC Foundation, says she’s been telling hospitals that the “first time you think about where you are going to put a transgender patient should not be when they arrive.” More here: nyti.ms/1mFj1XI
LA TIMES ENDORSES THE EQUALITY ACT: The LA Times editorial board has put its support behind passage of the Equality Act — and also calls for LGBT people to be protected by sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The editorial board writes in part, that Congress should “approve legislation explicitly outlawing employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equality Act introduced in Congress last year would accomplish that objective, along with prohibiting discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender Americans in housing and public accommodations.” Read their full analysis here: http://lat.ms/1Qjz9ph.
#LOVEISLOVE: HRC CELEBRATES VALENTINE’S DAY: This year marked the first Valentine’s Day since the Supreme Court’s historic decision in favor of nationwide marriage equality. Prior to the ruling, brave plaintiffs and couples from all 50 states stood up, fought back against regressive laws and helped expand equal rights for all. They lived openly and honestly, sharing their stories of struggle and love with the nation, moving hearts and minds like never before. This year, we celebrated all of these couples, as well as all LGBT people and families, who continue to fight in the name of love. HRC asked several of the plaintiffs in marriage equality cases across the country to share what this Valentine’s Day means to them. Read what they had to say here: http://bit.ly/1PZkLGQ and check out our Facebook and Instragram feeds for more.
KOKOMO, INDIANA STILL FIGHTING TO PROTECT THE LGBT COMMUNITY: Now that all efforts to pass comprehensive non-discrimination legislation has failed at the state level, the City Council of Kokomo of Indiana is considering taking matter into its own hands. Council President Bob Hayes and Councilman Steve Whikehart say that the public works and welfare committee is working on a proposal to add protections to the city’s human rights municipal code against harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Whikehart told the Kokomo Perspective, “It’s 2016. I’ve said this before. The fact that we’re even having this conversation is a bit mind-boggling … We’re talking about discrimination, and we’re talking about civil rights. The fact that we have a group of marginalized citizens in our community bothers me. We talk about wanting to be competitive locally, and nationally, and globally; what better way to do that than to prove that we are the inclusive community that we all know us to be.” If an ordinance is passed, Kokomo would join almost 20 cities in Indiana, including Indianapolis, Bloomington, Carmel, and Zionsville, that have ordinances in place to protect LGBT residents and visitors. More here: bit.ly/1PCptcn
UTAH HOUSE COMMITTEE (APPARENTLY) TOO TIRED FOR EQUALITY: The Utah House has postponed a vote on same-sex adoption and foster care placements. The Friday-night vote could have protected LGBT couples from discrimination when adopting, or applying to become a foster home, but the vote was delayed by a vote of 8-3, with lawmakers citing concerns about the “late hour.” Several government officials with the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the state Child Welfare Division, as well as representatives from state LGBT groups like Equality Utah, testified in support of the bill, citing that it would bring the state in line with last year’s Obergefell ruling. Opponents of equality in the state argued that children of the state should “uphold the gold standard for children,” by placing them with heterosexual parents instead of the loving LGBT families that are seeking to bring children into their families and give them the best possible life. More here: bit.ly/1Oe6tN4
NEW STUDY FINDS NEBRASKANS SUPPORT WORKPLACE PROTECTIONS FOR GAYS AND LESBIANS: A new study out of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has found that the majority of Nebraskans support protections for gays and lesbians. Across the state, 74 percent of respondents say they support such measures, with numbers slightly higher (80 percent) in urban areas and slightly lower (more than 66 percent) in rural areas. This comes at a time when the Nebraska Senate is pushing for a bill supporting these exact protections. The business community has also spoken out in support of this bill, saying it would bring new, qualified workers to the state and attract businesses that want to support their LGBT employees. More here: bit.ly/2434ruY and bit.ly/20XT6gN
COMPETITIVE WORKPLACE ACT FILED IN KENTUCKY: Kentucky lawmakers have introduced the Kentucky Competitive Workplace Act, legislation that would add employment protections for the LGBT community to the state’s Civil Rights Act. Democratic State Senator Morgan McGarvey is leading the bipartisan effort which he hopes will “show that [Kentucky has] the inclusive and competitive atmosphere,” that will encourage all types of people to come for work and to raise families. The measure is backed by the Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalition, which is made up of over 200 businesses who are committed to LGBT inclusion in the workplace. According to the Courier Journal, eight cities in Kentucky already have laws protecting the LGBT community, Covington, Danville, Frankfort, Lexington, Louisville, Midway, Morehead and Vicco. The Fairness Coalition is hosting a rally tomorrow at 7:30pm CT in support of the measure. Similar legislation has also been introduced in the House. More here: bit.ly/20Bnc4f and cjky.it/1XviDbt
AROUND THE WORLD
POPE AND HEAD OF RUSSIAN CHURCH CONDEMN MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, have condemned marriage equality in a joint statement in which they also address unrest in the Middle East, and the persecution of Christians around the world, by an “often very aggressive secularist society.” In the 30 point statement, the leaders go on to express worry that “biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.” Despite his often non-judgemental rhetoric, just last month Pope Francis reiterated his opposition to marriage equality during a meeting with Vatican judges in anticipation of the historic civil unions vote in Italy where he asserted, in so many words, that in the church’s eyes same-sex unions remain a no-go. Additionally, as Pink News reports Patriarch Kirill has called marriage equality a “symptom of the Apocalypse.” More here: bit.ly/20TEij3
SNEAK ATTACK IN SWITZERLAND: Advocates are sounding the alarm on what’s being billed as a referendum on tax benefits for married couples in Switzerland, but is also an attempt by the Christian Democratic People’s party to enact a constitutional ban on marriage equality. Voters will head the to polls on February 28 to decide whether unregistered couples and married couples should be taxed the same, but a ‘Yes’ vote would also mean adding language that says “Marriage is the sustainable and regulated union between a man and a woman,” to Article 14 of the Swiss Constitution. A coalition of advocacy and political groups in the country have started multilingual campaigns nationwide in an attempt to inform people of the consequences of voted ‘yes.’ More here: bit.ly/20Bn9oQ
FIRST OPENLY GAY CHIEF JUSTICE NOMINATED IN PUERTO RICO: The Associated Press reports that the first openly gay chief justice in the United States has been nominated to the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. Last week Friday, Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced judge Maite Oronoz Rodriguez’s nomination, saying, “It’s time to strengthen justice to face the challenges.” If confirmed by the Senate, Oronoz Rodriguez will also be the youngest member of the Puerto Rican Supreme Court. More here: abcn.ws/1Qeclxn
AUSTRALIA’S MARCH TOWARDS MARRIAGE: In another positive step in Australia’s slow walk towards marriage equality, the parliament of Victoria has passed a bill that will allow for the recognition of marriages that have taken place overseas. Originally introduced in October of last year, according to the Guardian, the law will give registered same-sex couples the ability to discuss a partner’s health in case of a medical emergency and grant “easier access to rights such as acknowledgement on a partner’s death certificate.” Same-sex couples will also be able to celebrate the recognition of their relationship with an official ceremony. Now if only parliament would take a vote on the issue and grant marriage rights to LGBT Australians once and for all. More here: bit.ly/215LWUg
WFYI Indianapolis assesses how LGBT rights and religious freedoms in Indiana will affect the 2016 elections… QNotes highlights N.C. HRC’s call for a nondiscrimination ordinance… Vocativ examines the anti-LGBT bills flooding state legislatures… Huffington Post gives helpful tips to same-sex couples filing taxes together for the first time… Instinct Magazine shares a sweet commercial featuring a mother and her transgender child… Associated Press looks at the battle over same-sex marriage in the Anglican Church… Huffington Post profiles an amazing group dedicated to supporting LGBT military families… BuzzFeed reports that Adidas has added a new clause to athlete contracts protecting them against anti-LGBT discrimination…The Washington Post asks the question, “Religious freedom or license to discriminate?”… Washington Blade explores anti-LGBT legislation in the South Dakota legislature… Care2 discusses the reemergence of Malawi’s dangerous anti-gay law…Gay Star News chronicles the influence of an anti-LGBT group on Jakarta police…. and Pink News breaks down a poll which finds that the majority of LGBT voters support Hillary Clinton.