Trans Woman Wins Discrimination Suit under Title VII
+ In a landmark settlement in Minnesota, Deluxe Financial Services will pay trans woman Britney Austin $115,000, apologize to her and change its policies on trans employees after mistreating her in the workplace because of her trans status. Austin says that after coming out as trans in the workplace, she was subjected to anti-trans slurs, wasn’t allowed to use the correct restroom, that the company refused to allow her to change her name in company records and also denied her healthcare coverage for transition-related expenses.
This case doesn’t establish precedent in other cases, but demonstrates success in the courtroom with identifying trans discrimination as being illegal under Title VII, which is important as Title VII applies even in states without specific anti-discrimination laws on the basis of trans status on the books. A growing number of victories like this one could be a powerful force in convincing employers across the US that there will be real consequences that aren’t worth their while if they discriminate against trans employees.
Same-Sex Marriage Blues
+ According to a press release from the Campaign for Southern Equality, somewhere between 11 and 15 Alabama counties are still refusing to comply with the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage. The counties of Autauga, Bibb, Choctaw, Clarke, Cleburne, Covington, Elmore, Geneva, Marengo, Pike and Washington have closed their marriage license offices entirely rather than issue licenses to same-sex couples; the counties of Coosa, Chambers, Crenshaw and Lamar have refused to state whether they’re supplying licenses or not.
+ Alabama isn’t the only US state trying to buck the Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is legal. Tennessee is considering a bill that would try to nullify the decision; it would prohibit any local or state agency from “recognizing the effect of such decisions,” and would require the attorney general to defend anyone who is sued for doing so.
“I believe I’m supposed to be speaking to the unsaved, to the people that are performing same-sex marriages, for the people involved in same-sex marriage.” [Rep. Mark Pody (R)] said at an event last month. “It is wicked, it is wrong, and I am doing the best I can to warn them.”
+ If someone with a crystal ball had told you a year ago that Sarah Palin would be in the news again right now, what would you have said? Please share in the comments. Anyways, Sarah Palin has endorsed Donald Trump with a speech that is being heralded as both “bizarre” and “rambling.” You can read the whole thing here. Here’s a paragraph that seems summative; one maverick supporting another.
His candidacy, which is a movement, it’s a force, it’s a strategy. It proves, as long as the politicos, they get to keep their titles, and their perks, and their media ratings, they don’t really care who wins elections. Believe me on this. And the proof of this? Look what’s happening today. Our own GOP machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape, they’re attacking their own frontrunner. Now would the Left ever, would the DNC ever come after their frontrunner and her supporters? No because they don’t eat their own, they don’t self-destruct. But for the GOP establishment to be coming after Donald Trump’s supporters even, with accusations that are so false. They are so busted, the way that this thing works.
+ It seems that Carly Fiorina found an unattended group of schoolchildren, and… used them as props for an anti-abortion appearance?
The alleged ambush occurred when Fiorina hosted a “right to life” forum at the Greater Des Moines botanical garden. Entering the rally, before a crowd of about 60 people, she directed around 15 young children towards a makeshift stage. The problem, one parent said, was that the children’s parents had not given Fiorina permission to have their children sit with her – in front of a huge banner bearing the image of an unborn fetus – while she talked about harvesting organs from aborted babies. “The kids went there to see the plants,” said Chris Beck, the father of four-year-old Chatham, one of the children Fiorina appeared with. “She ambushed my son’s field trip.”
+ Bernie and Hillary are in a tiff about Hillary’s endorsements from Planned Parenthood and the HRC.
+ As scary as Trump, some say that establishment Republicans would rather see Trump win the nomination than Cruz.
But it’s possible that it is precisely because Trump is such an unusual figure that he might be more attractive to establishment Republicans. Cruz is the leader of a faction; Trump is a one-man band. This means Cruz has the potential to do much more damage to the Republican Party in the long run. “If Trump loses, we wash our hands of him,” a leading GOP strategist told CNN. “Cruz will think we need to be more crazy and be a long-term nightmare.”
+ The family of Samuel DuBose, who was shot in the head by a police officer during a routine traffic stop, will receive a settlement of $4.85 million. The officer who killed DuBose, Ray Tensing, is awaiting trial for murder.
+ The sentencing of Daniel Holtzclaw, convicted of sexually assaulting 13 women while on active duty as a police officer, was supposed to be today, but his lawyers are trying to request a new trial, which is holding things up. His legal team is arguing that a Facebook post constitutes new evidence, and that “the government made deliberate discovery violations and misrepresentations, undermining confidence in the verdict.”
+ Earlier in January, 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen was detained in a juvenile detention cell overnight after what police are calling a “domestic incident.” She was there for less than 24 hours, and was found dead in her cell in the morning. Nine days later, her family still doesn’t know what happened. Police say she wasn’t the victim of homicide or suicide, but it’s also “unlikely she had a heart condition.” It’s also not clear why she was in a cell alone instead of with a roommate, or how often she was checked on. What is clear is that she’s lost to her family forever at only 16.
Law & Order
+ A look at the confusing, contradictory way in which the grand jury considering charges against the officers who killed Tamir Rice was run.
+ If you’re sitting there thinking wow, it’s been a while since I heard anyone use the term “war on gender,” what’s up with that, never fear! Washington lawmakers are here, with their paranoid concerns about trans people’s genitals being “security concerns.” Washington’s State Human Rights Commission created a new set of rules related to sexual orientation and gender, but conservatives seem mostly upset about the ones that involve trans people being allowed to use the bathroom and public accommodations consistent with their gender.
“This is the next step in this war on gender,” said Joseph Backholm of the conservative Family Policy Institute of Washington. His organization attacked the new rules, describing transgender people as people “confused about their gender” and misgendering them. “Sexual predators look for opportunity,” he wrote. “This provides it.” Backholm has encouraged people to call their lawmakers to complain, and some are already responding.
+ ThinkProgress has a list of 50 Republicans who tweeted in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr but aren’t supporting restoring the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, which King helped pass into law.
+ In Indiana, conflict continues over the issue of anti-discrimination legislation for LGBTQ people. Governor Mike Pence faces criticism for failing to call for fully inclusive legislation in his State of the State address.
+ In a first, an openly trans woman, Ellen Murray, is in the running for an assembly seat in Northern Ireland.
Murray, a Green Party member, said she supported extending same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland, which remains the only part of the United Kingdom that does not recognise it. Better protection for LGBT people, especially pupils and teachers, more progressive gender recognition legislation, and changing restrictive abortion laws are also high on her agenda, Murray said in a phone interview.”I would love to see really strong protective measures and rights-based law being introduced in Northern Ireland to facilitate young LGBT people,” said Murray, whose social justice work has been focusing on young LGBT people.
+ In Australia, same-sex marriage isn’t legal, and some jurisdictions don’t recognize same-sex marriages performed overseas. In a terrifying example of how harmful this legislation can be, there’s the case of David and Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, who were wed before David tragically died in an accident on their honeymoon. Now, Marco isn’t recognized as David’s next of kin, and David’s death certificate reads “never married.” Now, according to Buzzfeed, “South Australian premier Jay Weatherill will introduce legislation to recognise overseas same-sex marriages to the South Australian parliament by the end of the year.”
+ Missouri state rep Stacey Newman would like to make guns as difficult to access as abortions.
Studies & Data
+ A new poll indicates that most Americans have no idea how many legal barriers to safe abortion are being constructed by lawmakers, and that when they learn about them, they generally don’t agree with them.
+ The 2015 Menino Survey of Mayors collects interview data from 89 different mayors around the US. On the issue of police violence, it finds that mayors generally supported the changes outlined in the President’s task force on the subject, regardless of the mayors’ party affiliations. However, it also showed that mayors were concerned about implementation and cost.
+ The Sports Equality Foundation is launching — it wants to help empower LGBTQ athletes to come out. Among other initiatives, the foundation wants to provide support and resources to those who wish to come out, as well as a platform where they can share their experiences.
+ The Department of Education has decided it will publish a full list of the schools who have obtained waivers to legally discriminate against LGBT students.
+ A look at federal policies that could impact the racial wealth gap.
+ Color of Change has a petition for a Black woman moderator for the Presidential debates.
+ For the first time in Canadian, history, over a quarter of prison inmates are indigenous people, and the numbers are even higher when restricted to women — although indigenous women make up only 4% of the female Canadian population, they make up 36% of incarcerated women.
+ After the infamous Tuskegee study, in which black men were used as medical guinea pigs without their informed consent and given a treatable illness that was intentionally left untreated, the black communities of Alabama don’t have a lot of trust in medical practitioners. As a result of the betrayal of their trust, Marion, Alabama is experiencing an outbreak of tuberculosis. Marion is reporting 253 cases per 100,000 people, and so far three have died.
+ California attorney general Kamala Harris is investigating Exxon regarding whether or not the company knew as early as 1977 that climate change was a problem, and one based in their industry.
+ As the nation wonders how the Flint water crisis could have been allowed to get so bad for so long, Governor Snyder has released his office’s emails to attempt to prove that he isn’t culpable of knowingly letting the health crisis continue. His office is largely laying the blame at the feet of the Department of Environmental Quality, who said as of October 2 that “the water in Flint’s system was safe to drink, ‘but some families with lead plumbing in their homes or service connections could experience higher levels of lead in the water that comes out of their faucets,'” even though the timeline says that “the state’s Department of Environmental Quality first became aware of the elevated lead levels in children’s blood on Aug. 23, 2015, when Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards notified the department that the school would be studying Flint water quality issues ‘over the next few months.'”
+ A new campaign within the Methodist church wants the general conference to consider legislation that recognizes LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage.
“A lot of the stories we see and hear are heartbreaking,” Berryman said. “They are from people who have been given the gift of faith and who value spirituality. We don’t fight with people we don’t love. So this fight really has so much to do with the paradoxical nature of being given so much by a spiritual tradition and, on the other hand, being whacked over the head by it.”