The DOJ Files a Lawsuit Against North Carolina and a Gay Couple Files a Lawsuit Against Mississippi
+ Last week, the federal government was like “North Carolina, you better get your shit together; HB2 isn’t legal so you better not implement it. We’re giving you till Monday to take it all back.” Then North Carolina, mostly Republican Governor Pat McCrory, was like “Pshhh, this is government overreach. We’re suing your ass!” So now the federal government is countersuing North Carolina over its anti-LGBT law, HB2. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced they filed a federal civil rights complaint which specifically targets the part of the law that requires “public agencies to deny transgender persons access to multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities consistent with their gender identity.” According to The Advocate, the federal government is seeking “a declaratory judgment which, if granted, would declare HB 2 discriminatory on its face, and bar the state from enforcing the law immediately.” At yesterday’s press conference, Lynch expressed the federal government’s support of trans people.
“No matter how isolated, how afraid, and no matter how alone you may feel today, note this — the Department of Justice and indeed the entire Obama Administration want you to know: we see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to support you going forward.”
+ And in Mississippi, a gay couple represented by the ACLU filed a lawsuit to challenge HB 1523, which would allow religious organizations, individuals and businesses to deny LGBT people products and services and directly targets trans people by stating one’s sex assigned at birth is immutable and the state will only recognize the gender on their birth certificate — before it takes effect on July 1. The Advocate reports:
“We’re stepping up to fight this sweeping anti-LGBT and unconstitutional law that authorizes discrimination against gay and transgender people,” said ACLU staff attorney Josh Block in a statement. “HB 1523 has no rightful place in Mississippi or in our history books, and we’re hopeful this lawsuit can stop as much of it as possible before it goes into effect. We won’t rest until every last piece of this law is struck down and all LGBT people in Mississippi have equal justice under the law.”
Some News Worth Celebrating
+ The California State Assembly advanced two pro-LGBT bills — one that would ban nonessential state-funded travel to states with discriminatory laws like North Carolina and Mississippi, and one that would require all single-occupancy restrooms in California to be universally accessible and identified as all-gender. The bills will now go to the Senate committee for consideration.
+ Geraldine Roman became the first out transgender person to be elected in the Philippines. She won a congressional seat in the province of Bataan, which was previously held by her mother Herminia Roman. Roman comes from a powerful political family and has been living as a woman for 20 years. Her proposed policies include to expand infrastructure and update medical equipment in hospitals across the province as well as fight for equality.
Roman said, if elected, she intended to back an anti-discrimination bill that has been languishing for 16 years that would give the LGBT community rights, such as equal treatment in the workplace, hotels and schools. She will also campaign to make changing gender legal. “I am living proof that such a law will allow transgender people to pursue happiness and become productive citizens,” she said.
+ Obama was super cool and inclusive to queer moms/parents in his Mother’s Day proclamation. “On Mother’s Day, we celebrate those who are the first to welcome us into the world. Performing the most important work there is, mothers — biological, foster, or adoptive — are our first role models and earliest motivators,” Obama began. “They balance enormous responsibilities and shape who we become as adults, their lessons guiding us throughout life.”
+ A new adoption bill in Ireland would allow same-sex couples to adopt. In the past, only one parent in a couple was allowed to adopt their child legally, but now the bill would allow same-sex couples and cohabiting partners to both be named as parents. The adoption bill comes after the legalization of same-sex marriage by popular vote last year in the country. The bill hasn’t been implemented yet.
+ Since Target reaffirmed their gender-inclusive bathroom policy a few weeks ago, other corporations are doing the same. Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and Hudson’s Bay Co., which operates stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, have all come out to say employees and customers are welcome to use the bathroom they identify with.
+ President Obama is expected to approve The Stonewall Inn and a small surrounding area —the site of the 1969 riots led by trans women of color that launched the modern gay civil rights movement — as the nation’s first LGBT national monument. Dozens testified in support of designating the place a monument. It’s already a New York City landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and then as a National Historic Landmark in 2000. In order for the Stonewall Inn to be a national monument the land must be transferred to the federal government. Obama is expected to announce this in June, during Pride month.
Law & Order
+ Last year, a school district in Illinois really didn’t want to let a trans girl use the girls’ locker room and fought hard to discriminate against her. The Department of Education stepped in and ruled that the teenager needed to be accommodated. Now a group of parents and students from the school district filed a federal lawsuit claiming they’re the ones being discriminated against, and the trans student in question using the restroom infringes upon their privacy. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Thomas More Society are representing the 51 families filing the suit. Think Progress reports:
The suit describes multiple forms of trauma these girls have apparently experienced knowing a transgender student might be in the restroom, including anxiety, fear, fright, apprehension, humiliation, intimidation, degradation, stress, embarrassment, discomfort, and loss of dignity. But what this suit is really about is rejecting transgender people. These families claim they have a right to disregard who Student A is, and they claim that they are victims simply because she is going about her life. The complaint is long and detailed, which makes it easy to reveal these motivations.
+ One year after a New York Times investigation found widespread underpayment in nail salons and violations of labor laws, which led to the creation of the Nail Salon Industry Enforcement Task Force, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered 143 salons to repay 652 employees a grand total of $2 million. Most the workers were denied overtime or were paid less than minimum wage.
+ Roy Moore, an anti-gay justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is facing ethics charges filed against him by the Southern Poverty Law Center for his attempts to block same-sex marriage in the state, “even after a federal district court and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Alabama’s ban on such marriages violated the U.S. Constitution.” He is suspended with pay until the court rules on the charges. If he is found guilty he could loose his position for the second time in his career. He was removed from his position in 2003 because he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the court building after a federal judge ordered him to do so but Alabama voters elected him into the position again in 2012.
+ President Obama commuted the sentences of 58 people in prison for drug-related offenses. Eighteen of the inmates had been sentenced to life in prison. “It just doesn’t make sense to require a nonviolent drug offender to serve 20 years, or in some cases, life, in prison,” Obama wrote on Medium. “An excessive punishment like that doesn’t fit the crime. It’s not serving taxpayers, and it’s not making us safer.” The prisoners are set to be released in September or early next year. Obama has reduced the sentences of 306 people over the course of his two terms.
+ Delrish Moss is Ferguson, Missouri’s newest police chief and the first Black police chief of the city, which I find bonkers given the fact that Ferguson’s population is mostly Black. Moss previously served as Miami PD spokesman and succeeds former Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson and Interim Chief Andre Anderson who resigned in December. After Mike Brown was murdered in 2014 and after a grand jury chose not to indict Darren Wilson the police officer who killed him, a Justice Department investigation uncovered that the Ferguson police department continually violated the constitutional rights of Black people. Moss hopes to start a mentorship program and increase diversity in the department.
“The department now has very few females in sworn positions,” Moss told The New York Times. “There won’t be a magic pill, when I suddenly go from this amount of African-Americans, this amount of women or this amount of whatever to this. But what I’ll be looking at is how we do things with attrition, and other things that naturally occur, that cause officers not to be in the department anymore.”
+ The Alabama legislature passed two anti-choice laws that greatly endanger people’s right to access abortion. If approved by the Governor Robert Bentley, they would close two of the state’s five abortion clinics, which is absolutely maddening. Senate Bill 205 would ban abortion clinics from operating within 2,000 feet of a public elementary or middle school. This law would force two of the largest abortion clinics in the states to close or relocate. SB 363 would ban Dilation and Evacuation procedures, the safest process for a second trimester abortion, which Republicans are calling “dismemberment” abortions. The only exception is if a person’s life or physical health is at serious risk. Many states in the past couple of years have worked to ban D&E procedures by using misinformed and inflammatory language to describe a safe procedure and ultimately make abortion illegal.
+ Birth control options remain a challenge for migrants and refugees in Turkey and Greece, according to several world organizations. With more than half a million pregnancies in 2015 among Syrian refugees, and the high dangers of being a pregnant person and a child of refugees, it’s pretty crucial to help provide birth control to them. It’s just a logistical challenge providing it, and also getting help from countries when family planning isn’t a priority.
+ A photo of 16 black women in traditional gray dress uniforms from West Point with raised fists sparked an investigation “into whether the women violated Army rules that prohibit political activities while in uniform.” I didn’t even know West Point, the elite military academy, allowed women into their program? The More You Know. In fact, West Point is so overwhelmingly white and male that all the black women in this year’s graduating class of about 1,000, except for one, are in the photo. The women are being criticized for aligning with the Black Lives Matter movement because of their raised fists, which has been used for decades as a sign of empowerment. On the contrary, the women say that wasn’t their intention and they took that picture as a sign of pride and sisterhood for graduating from the academy when few black women have done so.
+ New York mayor Bill de Blasio is urging people to boycott Chick-fil-A for being anti-LGBT, which is super 2012? I mean, I’m sure Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy hasn’t changed his mind from the time he made disparaging remarks on gay people a few years ago. I guess I’m just projecting my own feelings, and I’ve moved on and eat there sometimes but it’s cool that Blasio is looking out for us. Chick-fil-A is preparing to open a new location in Queens Center Mall, which would be New York City’s fourth location.
+ More than 100 United Methodist LGBT clergy members signed a document called “A Love Letter to Our Church From Your LGBTQI Religious Leaders,” to challenge the church’s views and laws on homosexuality. The group published the letter a day before the denomination’s 10-day general conference, where they’ll debate these issues.