Once Again, Texas Republicans Are Pushing An ‘Avalanche’ Of Anti-LGBTQ Bills

From Huffington Posthttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/once-again-texas-republicans-are-pushing-an-avalanche-of-anti-lgbtq-bills_us_58dbd0f3e4b01ca7b428e8df?8nz5mi

And they all seem to conform to Neil Gorsuch’s idea of “religious liberty.”

By Michelangelo Signorile
03/29/2017

One bill, sponsored by GOP Texas state senator Charles Perry, would allow any professionals regulated by the state of Texas ― from medical providers and social workers to tow truck operators and electricians ― to discriminate against LGBTQ people based on personal religious beliefs.

Another, sponsored by GOP Texas house representative Scott Sanford, would allow wedding-related businesses to refuse to serve same-sex couples.

And yet another, pushed by Rep. Phil King, another Republican, would allow official student organizations at public colleges and universities to discriminate against students for religious reasons, denying membership to LGBTQ students or keeping out Jewish and Muslim students.

These are just a few of the 17 bills described by a group fighting against them, the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) ― two of which are being debated this week by the Texas legislature, including today’s debate on restricting LGBT foster care and adoption ― as, once again, threatening the rights of LGBTQ people and many other Texans with what TFN calls an “avalanche” of bills.

“These religious refusal bills radically redefine a fundamental right by allowing religion as a justification to discriminate or refuse to obey laws you don’t like,” Kathy Miller, president of TFN, which held a press conference in Austin today along with the ACLU of Texas, said.

The authors of these bills don’t even seem to care that their legislation could also create serious conflicts with established civil rights protections based on race, gender and even religion itself. Their bills essentially turn religion into a weapon to hurt people who are different or don’t share the same beliefs.

Much attention has been focused on the draconian transgender “bathroom bill” that Lt. Governor Dan Patrick unveiled in the beginning of January and which has gotten considerable pushback from major companies and sports leagues, including the NFL and the NBA. But just as in 2015, when Republicans in the Texas legislature had pushed over 20 anti-LGBTQ bills, this legislative session religious zealots are seizing upon the issue of “religious liberty” to promote a license to discriminate against queer people in a broad array of areas.

Back then, activists impressively beat back the vast majority of the bills ― by no means an easy feat ― after national attention was brought to bear and companies stood up against them while local leaders and politicians fought very hard and won. This year, however, anti-LGBTQ forces have fine-tuned their religious liberty message nationwide ― riding a backlash to marriage equality ― and have the support of the White House, where Donald Trump may soon sign a “religious freedom” executive order and where Mike Pence, a long-time promoter of such discrimination, is vice president.

And there has been momentum in other states, moving these bills in recent weeks seemingly under the radar of a national media so focused on Trump and national politics. South Dakota this month became the first state in 2017 to pass a “religious liberty” bill, signed into law by the governor, that allows state-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against queer parents. Tennessee is moving forward with both a “Defense of Natural Marriage Act” and an anti-trans bill, and  more states are moving ahead with other discriminatory laws.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/once-again-texas-republicans-are-pushing-an-avalanche-of-anti-lgbtq-bills_us_58dbd0f3e4b01ca7b428e8df?8nz5mi

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Why Does Steve Bannon Admire A French Nazi Collaborator?

From The Forward:  http://forward.com/fast-forward/366338/why-does-steve-bannon-admire-a-french-nazi-collaborator/

By Daniel J. Solomon
March 17, 2017

Steve Bannon has a French sweetheart, and it’s not Marine Le Pen, the nationalist-populist politician who could become the country’s president in this spring’s election. According to media reports in France, the White House chief strategist recently expressed his admiration for the far-right intellectual Charles Maurras, a notorious anti-Semite sentenced to life in prison after World War II.

Bannon, once the head of the “alt-right” platform Breitbart News, embraces a number of discredited far-right intellectuals from pre-war Europe, including the fascist thinker Julius Evola. Like Maurras, Bannon also melds a devotion to nationalism with a commitment to the Catholic Church, which he has pointed to as an important ally in what he sees as the West’s struggle with Islam.

Maurras was a founder of France’s modern far-right, advocating monarchist principles that others later adopted and launching the Action Francaise, a militant street league that menaced its moderate and left-wing opponents. He expressed mixed feelings about the Nazis, backing the collaborationist Vichy regime they installed but remaining wary about German influence over his country.

After the war, a tribunal found him guilty of collaboration, stripping him of his civil rights, seat in the prestigious French Academy and sending him to prison for the rest of his life. When the verdict was read, he was said to have exclaimed that it was the “revenge of Dreyfus,” a reference to the Jewish army officer whose fate divided France in the 1890’s.

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Shame: NCAA Rewards North Carolina for Discriminatory Laws Against LGBTQ Community

From HRC:  http://www.hrc.org/blog/hrc-equality-nc-speak-out-against-ncaas-reversal-on-North-Carolina-HB2

 

By HRC staff
April 4, 2017

Today, HRC and Equality NC released the following statements in light of the NCAA decision to consider North Carolina for championship games, despite the discrimination against LGBTQ people that remains enshrined in state law.

“The NCAA’s decision to backtrack on their vow to protect LGBTQ players, employees and fans is deeply disappointing and puts people at risk,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “After drawing a line in the sand and calling for repeal of HB2, the NCAA simply let North Carolina lawmakers off the hook.”

“It is disappointing to see the NCAA backpedal after it stood strong against the deeply discriminatory HB2,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “HB142 continues the same discriminatory scheme put forward by HB2 and does little to protect the NCAA’s players, employees, and fans. The NCAA’s decision has put a seal of approval on state-sanctioned discrimination.”

Last Thursday, the North Carolina General Assembly and Governor Roy Cooper passed an egregious bill — HB142 — that keeps some of the most discriminatory provisions of HB2 alive. Under this new “HB2.0,” which replaces one discriminatory, anti-transgender bathroom bill with another, the North Carolina General Assembly reserves total control over bathroom access throughout the state to itself; that means no city, state agency, public university or school board can ever adopt a policy that ensures transgender people have access to restrooms consistent with their gender identity.  Further, no city can even consider passing any protections for LGBTQ people until 2020. At the end of this discriminatory “moratorium,” cities will still be prevented from ensuring transgender people are able to use facilities consistent with their gender identity. This action targeting LGBTQ individuals — particularly transgender people — is the very definition of discrimination and continues a shameful chapter for North Carolina.

Civil rights groups including HRC, the NAACP, Equality NC, and the National Center for Transgender Equality have been working to correct the record on the discriminatory measure, and the tide has turned in calling out this sham “deal” exactly for what it is. Top headlines include: The New York Times editorial board, “North Carolina’s Bait-and-Switch on Transgender Restroom Law;” Steven Petrow for The Washington Post, “You can’t compromise on civil rights. But North Carolina just did;” The Charlotte Observer editorial board, “HB2 repeal: Cooper turns back on LGBT community;” Slate, “The HB2 “Repeal” Bill Is an Unmitigated Disaster for LGBTQ Rights and North Carolina;” Mother Jones, “Don’t Be Fooled. The North Carolina “Compromise” Doesn’t Actually Protect Trans Rights;” ESPN, “NCAA, NBA and ACC say they’re pro-LGBT — now’s their chance to prove it;” The Nation, “The So-Called ‘Repeal’ of North Carolina’s Bathroom Bill Is a Terrible Deal for Civil Rights.” Further articles and statements from other major publications, as well as the business and entertainment community, can be found here.

 

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Housing discrimination against transgender people is even worse than we thought

From Think Progress:  https://thinkprogress.org/trans-housing-discrimination-study-889129c40c1b

A new study shows anti-transgender discrimination is rampant, but people don’t necessarily know it’s happening to them.

Zack Ford
April 3, 2017

The U.S. Trans Survey, a massive survey of over 27,000 transgender people conducted in 2015, found that 23 percent had experienced some form of housing discrimination, such as being denied a home or apartment because of their gender identity. If a new study from Suffolk University Law School in any indication, that number is low and trans people are experiencing much more discrimination in housing than they even realize.

The study, the largest of its kind, paired transgender and gender non-conforming (GNC) people with cisgender people to respond to various housing ads around Boston. Each member of the pair would meet with the agent separately and document how they were treated during the site visit. The trans/GNC would drop obvious statements about their gender identity, such as preferring “they” as a pronoun or explaining why their legal name would be listed differently in a background check. Nearly two-thirds of the time, the cisgender person was shown more amenities, given better deals, or otherwise encouraged to apply for the unit than the trans/GNC person.

According to the study, trans/GNC participants were: “1) more likely to be quoted a higher rental price; 2) less likely to be offered a financial incentive to rent the apartment; 3) shown fewer areas than the control (i.e. such as storage area, laundry facilities, etc.); and 4) less likely to be asked their name upon meeting the housing provider face to face.”

Discriminating on the basis of gender identity in housing is notably a violation of Massachusetts state law, but as the study reports, many of the trans/GNC participants in the study “were not even aware that they were treated differently from their gender conforming and cisgender counterparts (controls).” Study author Jamie Langowski described this to the Huffington Post as “discrimination with a smile,” where people are being treated differently without realizing that the treatment is inferior to what other people are experiencing.

The differences in this discrimination are subtle, but not meaningless. For example, in one case, the trans/GNC participant was told to call for an application, while the control tester at the same viewing was handed an application while they were there. In another case, the agent told the trans/GNC individual about a second available unit, but talked negatively about it, which discouraged the participant from wanting to see it. The control participant was told about the unit without the negative context and actually looked at it during the visit.

One of the most drastic differences between the visits involved the control being told that the security deposit could be reduced by 75 percent — savings of $1,500 — and offered a cheaper credit check as well. The trans/GNC participant was offered no such deals.

Continue reading at:  https://thinkprogress.org/trans-housing-discrimination-study-889129c40c1b

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Richard Blumenthal expresses opposition to Neil Gorsuch

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Federal Court Rules Employers Can’t Fire People for Being Gay

From Lambda Legal:  http://www.lambdalegal.org/blog/20170404_court-rules-employers-cant-discriminate-against-gay-employees

By Lambda Legal
April 4, 2017

In a groundbreaking, 8-3 decision, the full Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation violates federal civil rights law.

The court found that such discrimination is a form of sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.

The decision — which came in Lambda Legal’s case on behalf of Kimberly Hively, an instructor at Ivy Tech Community College who was fired for being a lesbian — makes the Seventh Circuit the highest federal court to reach this conclusion and could change the national landscape of employment law for LGBT people.

In August of 2014, Kimberly Hively sued Ivy Tech Community College, arguing that the school violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it denied her full-time employment and promotions after she had been seen kissing her then-girlfriend in the parking lot of the school. The trial court dismissed Hively’s lawsuit and held that Title VII — which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion — does not protect employees from antigay discrimination.

In April 2015, Lambda Legal appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking reversal and reinstatement of Hively’s complaint. A three-judge panel ruled against Hively in July 2016, but Lambda Legal requested a rehearing of the case by the full panel of the Seventh Circuit – all eleven judges. On October 11, 2016 that request was granted, and in November, Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Program Director for Lambda Legal, appeared once again, to ask that the court overturn its prior decisions limiting the reach of Title VII.

“In many cities and states across the country, lesbian and gay workers are being fired because of who they love. But, with this decision, federal law is catching up to public opinion: ninety-percent of Americans already believe that LGBT employees should be valued for how well they do their jobs—not who they love or who they are. Now, through this case and others, that principle is backed up by the courts,” said Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Program Director for Lambda Legal. “This decision is gamechanger for lesbian and gay employees facing discrimination in the workplace and sends a clear message to employers: it is against the law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”

In the opinion filed today, Chief Judge Diane Wood writes:

“… Hively represents the ultimate case of failure to conform to the female stereotype (at least as understood in a place such as modern America, which views heterosexuality as the norm and other forms of sexuality as exceptional): she is not heterosexual. Our panel described the line between a gender nonconformity claim and one based on sexual orientation as gossamer-thin; we conclude that it does not exist at all. Hively’s claim is no different from the claims brought by women who were rejected for jobs in traditionally male workplaces, such as fire departments, construction, and policing. The employers in those cases were policing the boundaries of what jobs or behaviors they found acceptable for a woman (or in some cases, for a man).”

“Love won again today,” said Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven. “Kim Hively loved her job teaching math at Ivy Tech Community College, but she was fired because she is a lesbian. Today the Seventh Circuit said clearly: that’s wrong. Our movement is about love and pride. Pride in yourself and your work, and the freedom to love and to be treated equally. Even in these challenging times, Lambda Legal continues to win in court and make our country better.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.lambdalegal.org/blog/20170404_court-rules-employers-cant-discriminate-against-gay-employees

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North Carolina’s Bait-and-Switch on Transgender Restroom Law

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/30/opinion/north-carolinas-bait-and-switch-on-transgender-restroom-law.html?_r=2

By
March 30, 2017

Facing a deadline to do away with a law that turned North Carolina into a national pariah by denying the right of transgender people to use public restrooms of their choice, state lawmakers rashly settled on a terrible compromise.

On Thursday, they repealed the law in name but not in substance, hoping to assuage organizations and employers that have boycotted the state to protest its discriminatory law. The National Collegiate Athletic Association had given state politicians until Thursday to get rid of the law before it would resume holding championship games in the state.

All those who have taken a principled stance against the law, known as H.B. 2, should stand firm. The law’s revision would deprive North Carolinians of protection from discrimination for years, and retains the odious notion that transgender people are inherently dangerous.

“We can never compromise on fundamental civil rights,” William Barber II, the president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said in a call with journalists Thursday morning. “It was never just a bathroom bill. It’s a bill that discriminates against so many people in so many ways.”

The original bill, which was signed into law in March 2016 by Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, was in retaliation to an ordinance the city of Charlotte approved weeks earlier barring discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people. Charlotte’s measure established that transgender people had a right to use public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. The state law mandated that transgender people use restrooms that matched the gender marker listed on their birth certificate, and barred localities from enacting laws to protect gays, lesbians and transgender people from discrimination.

It’s mystifying that Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat whose narrow election in November was seen as something of a referendum on H.B. 2, would regard the amended law as a suitable compromise. The repeal law did away with the birth certificate requirement, which was unenforceable all along because it would have turned law enforcement officials into genital inspectors. But it bars schools and other government entities from adopting policies allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their choice. And it still prohibits anti-discrimination ordinances until 2020.<

Mr. Cooper said the compromise with the Republican-controlled legislature was “not perfect,” but he held out hope that the repeal would start to “repair our reputation.” He and other Democrats who supported the compromise said they concluded that a modest step toward undoing the law was the best they could hope for while Republicans have veto-proof majorities in the legislature. That is misguided. The deal was struck days after The Associated Press reported that the backlash against the law would cost North Carolina at least $3.7 billion in business over 12 years.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/30/opinion/north-carolinas-bait-and-switch-on-transgender-restroom-law.html?_r=2

See Also:

Vox: North Carolina just passed a “repeal” of its anti-LGBTQ law. But it’s not a full repeal.

The Charlotte Observer: HB2 repeal: Cooper turns back on LGBT community

The Huffington Post: North Carolina Repeals HB2, But It Doesn’t Seem To Be Much Of A Repeal At All

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