Justice Department Not Into North Carolina’s HB2
+ In huge news, the Justice Department has given North Carolina notice that they interpret HB2 as being in violation of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX, and that North Carolina has until Monday to confirm that it won’t be implemented. If NC chooses not to comply and enforces it anyway, the federal government could legally deny the state millions in federal funding. Earlier, NC Governor Pat McCrory indicated that if the federal government told him HB2 was illegal, he would respect it; so how’s he responding now? Well, unfortunately, predictably. The Charlotte Observer observes:
Speaking to business leaders Wednesday night, McCrory called the letter “something we’ve never seen regarding Washington overreach in my lifetime. This is no longer just a N.C. issue. This impacts every state, every university and almost every employee in the United States of America,” he said. “All those will have to comply with new definitions of requirements by the federal government regarding restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities in both the private and public sector.”
In terms of the (obviously specious) logic behind McCrory’s chain of decisions is a confusing Russian nesting doll concept of “government overreach;” McCrory claimed that the original local Charlotte ordinance that said trans people could use the bathrooms they want to was an overreach, but his law on the state level contradicting the local ordinance was not; yet Washington investigating the federal legality of the state interference is definitely overreach for sure. It’s almost as if “government overreach” isn’t being invoked here as a coherent reality but is instead coded language for “legislation that would force conservatives to do something they don’t want to do.”
Outside of NC specifically, this move by the Justice Department is an important step in building a precedent of trans people deserving specific protections under federal law; although in past years that Justice Department has avoided that stance, starting in November they began telling schools that forced trans students to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth that they were violating Title IX, and this is another major brick in a road towards the Justice Department’s recognition that trans people need protections.
+ It’s been a big week in election news; we’re on the verge of stumbling right on in to the area of the general election. It’s comforting, in that during those long-ago days of having fourteen different Republican candidates debating each other at once we thought we’d never get here, but it’s also terrifying in that all of the scary aspects of election season will get even more real. No one is scrimmaging anymore; this is the game.
Anyhow! Trump won a key primary in Indiana, and Cruz and Kasich both suspended their campaigns, with Cruz having some weird and wacky bodily experiences on camera that lend credence to theories that he is a large insect in a human suit, like in the first Men in Black movie.
Republicans are now in a tight spot; with Trump as the presumptive nominee, they have to decide between throwing their support behind a guy that most longtime Republicans don’t like in order to beat Hillary or voting Dem because seriously, look at that guy, Jesus Christ. Some Republicans will do the former; some are tweeting about doing the latter.
As far as Dems go, Bernie won in Indiana’s primary, which was a surprise for pretty much all pollsters. However, Hillary is already so close to having the number of delegates she needs for the nomination that it’s generally presumed she will be the nominee (although there are still US state primaries that haven’t happened yet). She seems to have shifted her focus away from Bernie and towards Trump in her latest ad.
Still feeling lost or confused about what the heck is going on? Here’s an explainer — granted, it was written before Kasich dropped out, which I realize is a pretty substantive development, but I still think it’s good. If you’re hoping for a glimmer of hope that somehow other than Trump will be nominated by the RNC, it does explain how technically most of the people who have dropped out have “suspended” their campaigns; they could re-enter the race, and it’s true that even after Cruz and Kasich’s dropouts, GOP bigwigs have still not really endorsed Trump; they REALLY don’t want to nominate him. So that’s technically possible, I guess! Although not likely. 🙁
+ After Trump made his now-infamous comment about Hillary playing a “woman card,” Hillary’s campaign raised $2.4 million in three days by offering a “woman card” for each donation.
+ John Kasich has suspended his presidential campaign after Trump won the key primary in Indiana and Cruz also dropped out.
+ Conservative blog RedState says Republicans should back Merrick Garland as the next Supreme Court Justice, because the possibility of a Trump nomination is too dangerous.
Law and Order
+ Previously in this column we talked about Oxford, Alabama, which had passed the most extreme bathroom ordinance in the US. Now that ordinance has been repealed after “enormous pressure from LGBTQ groups, including legal threats.”
+ Mississippi’s attempt to ban same-sex adoption is over after the state chose not to appeal an injunction from a federal judge.
+ A Washington OB/GYN has filed a civil complaint against MedStar Washington Hospital Center, saying that they violated her rights by issuing a gag order that forbade her from discussing abortion publicly. The doctor, Diane Horvath-Cosper, says she used to do public speaking as part of her position about abortion and hoped to reduce stigma around it by doing so; after the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting, her hospital told her she had to stop doing so as a safety precaution.
+ On what the potential for appeal in the case of Purvi Patel, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for allegedly trying to induce a miscarriage, means for reproductive rights.
+ Chris Christie, erstwhile governor of New Jersey, vetoed an equal pay law because he claimed it was “nonsensical” and “makes New Jersey very business unfriendly.”
+ Full-time staff and faculty can now carry firearms at public universities and colleges in Tennessee.
+ A Virginia school board who was told their anti-trans bathroom policy at schools was illegal has appealed the decision — and since the appeals court is more liberal than the original court, there’s a chance it will be even more supportive of trans students than the original ruling, creating a legal precedent for trans rights to be protected under Title IX.
+ Jim DeMint, former Republican senator from South Caroina, admitted that voter ID laws “have shifted elections toward conservative candidates because they are blocking Democratic voters.”
+ With smartphones and social media becoming so crucial to movements like Black Lives Matter and documenting injustices done to citizens, cell phone privacy and the question of when and how the state can access your phone have become pressing. One legal interpretation that’s been floating around is that the police can’t access your phone without a court order if it’s locked with a passcode, but that if you have fingerprint ID access set up, you can be ordered to open your phone with it like you can be ordered to give a saliva sample. Now, a California judge has ruled that Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan could be made to open her iPhone with her fingerprint. Some other legal experts say this is analogous to “coerced testimony” and was illegal; on the whole opinion seems to be mixed.
+ A group of Somali Muslims in Minnesota are filing charges through the EEOC against their employwer, a hardware company, for refusing to accomodate their prayer schedule.
+ The fast food industry wanted to sue the city of Seattle for its groundbreaking $15 minimum wage law, but the Supreme Court has refused to hear the case. But now there’s the risk of politicians passing “preemption laws” that legally block the possibility of a wage increase, which complicates the entire Fight for 15.
+ LA law enforcement official Tom Angel has stepped down from his job after the reveal of very racist and Islamophobic emails he sent and forwarded.
+ LA County has agreed to ban solitary confinement as a tactic for young incarcerated people in its juvenile justice system.
+ A lawsuit from the ACLU says that Akron, OH police violated the First Amendment when they threatened to arrest panhandlers who didn’t register with city police.
+ In Louisiana, 17-year-olds who are convicted of a crime are housed with adults in prison no matter what their offense was. Now the LA Senate has passed the Raise the Age Act, which would, as the title suggests, raise the age at which offenders are housed with adults to 18.
+ Liam Jameson’s high school won’t let him accept a prestigious $40,000 college scholarship at his high school ceremony because the scholarship is for his work as an LGBT advocate opposing homophobia at the very school that won’t celebrate his award for homophobic reasons.
+ The White House is said to be considering a national monument to the gay rights movement, in a Greenwich Village park across from the Stonewall Inn. It seems like they’re mentioning gay men more often than trans women in discussion of it, which is concerning given its proximity to Stonewall, so hopefully further work on this monument gives trans women the credit they’re due in regards to the LGBT rights movement.
+ Jehovah’s Witnesses have created a kind of creepy animated movie to explain to kids that no matter what liberals in your life tell you, Jehovah doesn’t approve of same-sex relationships. It’s a little reminiscent of the now-dated “princess” Prop 8 ad in its weird focus on children.
+ In Tuesday’s news fix we discussed a woman who had a job offer retracted after her employers saw her lesbian flirting in Instagram comments; she’s since been rehired.
+ Pearl Love, a trans woman in NYC, recorded another passenger verbally and then physically assaulting her on the subway with racist and transmisogynistic language. Love talked to Rich Juzwiak at Gawker and explained that while this incident stood out, harassment and violence are everyday occurences for her.
“All transgender people probably know that’s everyday life,” she explained. “People will tell you, ‘Don’t sit in front of me. I don’t want to see you in front of me. Fuck off.’” “I didn’t know that much was wrong with it until people told me, because I get that all the time,” she elaborated. “I thought it was kind of normal—people are just not nice.”
Love, who immigrated from Taiwan to the U.S. in 1998, has no contact with her family on account of her gender identity. She says she faces further discrimination in job searches, and recently found herself “almost homeless.” “It’s not even the worst thing in my life,” she said of the routine bigotry she faces, as depicted in this video.
+ Police in Montreal are looking for a suspect in the case of a “suspicious fire” at the Centre métropolitain de chirurgie, the only medical clinic in Canada offering gender confirmation surgery for trans people. No staff members or patients were hurt, but there was a total of $700,000 in damage, and medical equipment was affected by the disaster.
+ A female student at Kenyon College was reportedly sexually assaulted by a man who told her she was “too cute to be a lesbian,” after which college officials told the student there wasn’t enough evidence that he had violated the school’s sexual assault policy. Her brother wrote an open letter to the school, and told ThinkProgress:
“I believe, both as a member of the LGBTQ community myself and an employee at a gay rights legal organization, that my sister’s sexual orientation has not been adequately considered in much of this discussion,” Hayes told ThinkProgress. “As it pertains to consent in particular, I find that it defies reason to conclude that my sister would consent to heterosexual sexual activity for the first time in her life.”
+ The Detroit public school system has been in dire need of support for some time now, with teachers trying to raise public awareness of the state of schools by posting photos of dead rats and inedible food online. Now Detroit has announced it won’t be able to pay teachers after June 30, which drove the Detroit Federation of Teachers to call for a sick-out that shut down all but three schools in the county for the day.
“Detroit teachers deserve to be paid fairly for their work like every other working person… But Detroit Public Schools has just informed us that it cannot guarantee to pay these dedicated men and women for their work. This isn’t right. It isn’t fair,” the president of the teachers union, Ivy Bailey, told the Detroit News.
+ In the midst of the ongoing Flint Water Crisis, the city has started quietly soliciting bids from private water companies; Flint residents are outraged that once again, a decision is being made about their water without their involvement.
[Resident Melissa Mays], Food & Water Watch, and other groups and residents decided to take their concerns public by holding a protest that demanded that the city reject any deals with private water corporations and “instead invest in democratically managed water systems and a full replacement of corroded pipes,” as they laid out in their demands. The protest was meant to “let the state and city know that we’re watching and won’t stand quietly this time,” Mays said.
+ Leaked documents from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership point to major environmental concerns.
+ While riding a Greyhound bus across multiple states, Daljeet Singh, who is Sikh, was accused by fellow passengers of a bomb plot along with another South Asian passenger, restrained and arrested. He was not, obviously, the perpetrator of a bomb plot. Now he’s filed an official complaint with Potter County, TX officials.
+ Geraldine Roman, a 49-year-old transgender woman, has a shot at winning a seat in the Phillippine’s lower house as a politician.