Judge: Mississippi can’t enforce anti-LGBT law as court battle continues


Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant

A federal judge in Mississippi on Monday, Aug. 1, refused state officials’ request to be allowed to enforce Mississippi’s anti-LGBT HB 1523 as the state appeals his ruling against the constitutionality of the measure, according to BuzzFeed reports.

HB 1523, signed into law in April by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, provided protections for individuals, religious organizations and certain businesses who take actions due to their “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” regarding same-sex marriage — or any sex outside straight marriage. It also provided similar protections for those who object to transgender people.

U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves in June issued a permanent injunction barring Mississippi from denying same-sex marriage licenses, meaning no circuit clerk or staff member clerk can deny a gay couple a marriage license even if House Bill 1523 is in effect.

On Monday, Reeves refused to put his ruling on hold while the state appeals the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. He wrote, “[I]ssuing a marriage license to a gay couple is not like being forced into armed combat or to assist with an abortion. Matters of life and death are sui generis. If movants truly believe that providing services to LGBT citizens forces them to ‘tinker with the machinery of death,’ their animus exceeds anything seen in Romer, Windsor, or the marriage equality cases.

“The motions are denied,” Reeves added. “The baton is now passed.”

Meanwhile in North Carolina

Also on Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder in Winston-Salem, N.C., heard arguments on whether to suspend that state’s highly controversial HB2 — which prevents transgender people from using the appropriate public restrooms and which prohibits local governments from enacting LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination laws, among other things.

Schroeder, who is expected to rule soon, seemed a bit skeptical, pressing the state “to show how the law made anyone safer and whether it was necessary.”

In related new, the Raleigh-based News & Observer is reporting that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has allowed the state’s disaster relief fund to instead be used to pay outside legal counsel defending him and other state officials against the many lawsuits that have been filed challenging HB2.

—  Tammye Nash

HB2 strips veterans of nondiscrimination protection


Gov. Pat McCrory

Almost all of the criticism of HB2, North Carolina’s discrimination law that was rushed through the legislature and signed into law in one day, focuses on its anti-LGBT intent. One provision of the law cancels all local nondiscrimination ordinances that cover anything other than federally protected categories.

The only North Carolina city that had passed an LGBT non-discrimination law was Charlotte.

Two North Carolina jurisdictions, however, have nondiscrimination ordinances — the city of Greensboro and Orange County, which includes Chapel Hill.

Those cities passed laws to prevent discrimination against veterans more than 25 years to protect vets returning from the unpopular War in Vietnam. Along with Charlotte’s ordinance protecting LGBTs, these ordinances were wiped off the books when Gov. Pat McCrory signed HB2 into law.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), a veteran who served in the Marine Corps, wrote to McCrory urging repeal of HB2 and pointing out the damage it could do to veterans.

“By signing HB2 into law you legalized discrimination against North Carolinians who put their lives on the line in service to our country,” he wrote.

—  David Taffet

DoJ sues North Carolina

Screen shot 2016-05-09 at 3.34.52 PM

U.S. AG Loretta Lynch

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced this afternoon (Monday, May 9), that the U.S. Department of Justice is suing the state of North Carolina, asking that the courts declare the state’s controversial House Bill 2 to illegally discriminatory.

Lynch’s announcement came just hours after McCrory announced that he had filed suit against the DoJ, asking the courts to keep HB2 in place as they determine the legality of the legislation. DoJ officials had given McCrory and other state officials until close of business today to announce a process for repealing the law, saying that it violates the federal Civil Rights Act by discriminating against LGBT — especial transgender — people.

HB2 rescinded a Charlotte, N.C., city ordinance protecting LGBT people from discrimination, pre-empts any such other local non-discrimination ordinances and prohibits transgender people from using the appropriate multi-stall public bathrooms.

While McCrory talks about HB2 being necessary to protect women and children from predatory men dressing in women’s clothing to gain access to public restrooms and locker rooms, opponents say such occurrences are so rare as to be imaginary and that McCrory’ justifications are  just a bunch of bullshit used to try and disguise what is, in actuality, just plain old homophobia/transphobia.

The Department of Justice has threatened to pull billions of dollars in federal funds from North Carolina unless legislators there rescind or repeal HB2. If the state were to come out the winner in the dueling lawsuits face-off, they might get their federal dollars. But HB2 has already cost billions in lost revenue from events scheduled there being canceled and businesses choosing to move out of the state, canceling expansion plans or choosing not to move there in the first place.

—  Tammye Nash

McCrory sues DoJ to keep N.C.’s bathroom bill


North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory

As the deadline approaches for North Carolina to disclose its plan for coming into compliance with the Civil Rights Act — in other words, how the state plans to get rid of its odious bathroom bill — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has doubled down on discrimination by filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice.

McCrory wants the courts to clarify the federal law in regards to the Civil Rights Act, claiming that “The Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set restroom policies for public and private employers across the country, not just North Carolina. This is now a national issue that applies to every state and it needs to be resolved at the federal level.”

Continuing to show either his ignorance of transgender issues or his utter disdain and contempt for transgender people, McCrory added, “They are now telling every government agency and every company that employs more than 15 people that men should be allowed to use a women’s locker room, restroom or shower facility.”

The U.S. Justice Department sent McCrory’s office a letter Wednesday, May 4, explaining that the state’s bathroom law — which not prohibits transgender people from using the appropriate public restroom facility but also rescinded a nondiscrimination ordinance passed by the Charlotte city government and prohibits any other local governmental entity from passing such ordinances — violates the Civil rights Act. DoJ also warned that unless the state remedies the problem, North Carolina will lose millions — billions, even — in federal funding for things like education.

In his lawsuit, McCrory pointed out that he directed state agencies to provide single-occupancy restrooms. In announcing the lawsuit, the governor, a Republican, said he filed the action “to ensure that North Carolina continues to receive federal funding until the courts resolve this issue.”

Chris Sgro, a Democrat from Greensboro, told Fox8 news that the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals “has already said federally that this case is not going to hold up in court,” which means that McCrory’s lawsuit will accomplish nothing other than “costing us $4½ billion in federal education money.”

“He’s already cost us $500 million in economic loss in the month alone,” Sgro added. “So the only answer here is repeal and that needs to happen sooner rather than later.”

Angela Mazaris, Wake Forest University’s LGBTQ Center director, accused McCrory of “playing political games” that will cost the state’s residents in the private sector and federal funds.

“If Gov. McCrory is concerned with public safety, he ought to educate himself about the needs and experiences of transgender North Carolinians, whose health and safety is threatened” by the state’s discriminatory bathroom law, Mazaris said. “The Department of Justice has clearly stated that transgender people have the right to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, and our governor needs to do his job and protect the rights of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.”

—  Tammye Nash

North Carolina has until Monday to repeal or lose millions


Gov. Pat McCrory

Department of Justice determines North Carolina’s HB2 violates the Civil Rights Act and Title IX. They want a determination by Monday, May 9.

HB2 is the law that requires transmen to use ladies rooms and transwomen to use a men’s room and stopped a Charlotte nondiscrimination law from going into effect.

Although the legislature passed the law in one day during a special session, the repeal legislation is going to drag through the current session. Leaders in the legislature said they will not meet the Justice Department’s Monday deadline.

In an interview with the Charlotte News & Observer, Gov. Pat McCrory said, “This is no longer just a North Carolina issue.”

He said every state is going to have to comply with a new definition of gender for locker room, shower and bathroom facilities. He called it Washington overreach and blamed Houston’s HERO law on creating the controversy.

The state is in danger of losing millions of federal dollars if it doesn’t repeal the law. Here’s the interview the Charlotte News & Observer did with McCrory:

—  David Taffet

NCAA: All championship game participants must be protected

Screen shot 2016-04-28 at 11.49.36 AMThe NCAA announced a new requirement for bidding on NCAA events, including men’s and women’s Final Fours and conferences: Cities bidding must “demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event.”

The new policy does not mention North Carolina where championship games are scheduled to run next year.

From the resolution:

Historically, the Association  has used the opportunity to host its events as a means to make clear its values. The Association now prohibits championships events with predetermined sites in states where governments display the Confederate battle flag, and prohibits NCAA members from hosting championships events if their school nicknames use Native American imagery that is considered abusive and offensive.

The NCAA statement said it considers protection of race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity vital to protecting students’ well-being.

The statement was released by the NCAA press office and accompanied by a video with Kansas State President Kirk Schultz making the announcement.

—  David Taffet

Today is Day of Silence

Day of SilenceDay of Silence is a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools promoted by GLSEN — the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network.

According to GLSEN, students at the University of Virginia organized the first Day of Silence in 1996 in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests with over 150 students participating. In 1997, organizers took their effort national and nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. In 2001, GLSEN became the official organizational sponsor for the event.

Probably the biggest question each year is: Do I have a right to participate in my school? Here’s GLSEN’s answer:

You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. We recommend that you talk to your teachers ahead of time, tell them what you plan to do, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate on that day in writing.

Should be interesting to see how Day of Silence goes this year, especially in states like North Carolina and Mississippi that just passed laws designed to bully and harass the LGBT community.

—  David Taffet

Today’s episode of Bigots Making Laws:

Let’s take a look at the latest news on discriminatory laws being passed by bigots in government:

In North Carolina — where the bigots got the ball rolling by enacting HB 2, which rolls back non-discrimination laws passed on the local level and prohibits passage of such local laws in the future AND which prohibits trans people from using appropriate public restrooms — they are watching more money go down the drain.


N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory

Gov. Pat McCrory backpedaled a little yesterday by issuing an executive order that seemingly mitigates a least a bit the discriminatory effects of HB 2. But equality advocates have claimed BS on the executive order, and businesses continue to turn their back on North Carolina and its hatefulness.

Despite McCrory’s executive order, Netflix and Viacom and several other media companies are saying it’s way too little, way too late.

Netflix, Viacom, Univision, CAA, SAG-AFTRA, CAA, the Art Directors Guild and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers have all signed on to an open letter issued by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), according to The Hollywood Reporter, intending to “demonstrate that the kind of discrimination being proposed — and in some cases enacted — is simply unacceptable.”

The letter goes on to note that more than 100 other bills “targeting LGBT people have been introduced in states and cities across the country,” and urges other businesses, organizations and individuals to “stand with us and reject any and all efforts to legalize discrimination. Send a strong and clear message to the rest of the world that America — and your communities — remain places where all people are respected.”

Mississippi is also feeling the heat after a discriminatory “religious freedom” bill was enacted there recently. For instance, the 37th Annual Mississippi Picnic in Central Park — created as a promotional and networking event for Mississippians living in NYC — has been canceled, according to the Jackson Free Press. New York organizers made the decision to cancel saying that the Mississippi law is “not in accordance with New York values” and that one of Mississippi’s most famous sons — Tennessee Williams — could have been denied services under the law because he was gay.

(And Tennessee Williams isn’t the only famous Mississippian to be openly gay. As David Taffet noted, the state’s tourism guide features renowned journalist — and lesbian — Robin Roberts.)

Sonya Williams-Barnes

Mississippi state Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes

At least one of Mississippi’s lawmakers has a clue. State Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, a Democrat from Gulfport and chair of the state’s legislative black caucus, warned today (Wednesday, April 13), that “It’s time to wise up and roll back discriminatory legislation before hundreds of Mississippians lose their livelihoods. … We can’t afford this. It’s clear that we’re already losing jobs and business because of this misguided bill, and it’s only going to get worse.”

Referring to singer Bryan Adams who has cancelled a concert in Mississippi because of HB 1523, Williams-Barnes continued, “Perhaps it’s prophetic that Bryan Adams has a well-known song called ‘Cuts Like a Knife.’ This narrow-minded legislation is going to cut like a knife through our communities, pushing us backwards to the days when Mississippi was a national symbol of intolerance and bigotry. We will experience cuts in employment and suffer other economic consequences due to the way our state is being perceived by the business world.

“In a few short days we’ve set the clock back 50 years and made Mississippi the national symbol of discrimination under law. … This is an ugly piece of legislation that is terribly unfair to our LGBT citizens, who are taxpayers and citizens of this state and deserve the same rights as everyone else. And once you make it illegal to discriminate against one group of citizens, where does it stop? It wasn’t so long ago that many people claimed ‘sincere’ religious or moral reasons for refusing service to people of color. Are we going back to those days, when people like me had to go to the back of the bus? Is refusing service in a bakery that makes wedding cakes all that different from refusing to serve someone on a lunch counter?”

Even family members of some of the Republicans who helped pass the hateful bill are speaking out against it. The Clarion Ledger reports that John Fillingane, gay brother of Mississippi Sen. Joey Fillingane, said he is “so saddened by the bill the legislators passed in Mississippi. I have cried several times today due to the fact that my brother Joey Fillingane agreed with the ignorant governor. … I wished that they could see that discrimination is the same thing as hate.”

And Kate Cochran, daughter of Sen. Thad Cochran, issued a statement calling the law “acutely embarrassing,” and adding,”There is simply no need to continue defending the religious rights of people who already enjoy full rights under the law.”

Anthony Watson

Anthony Watson, CEO of Uphold

Then we move on to South Carolina, where just the possibility of legislation barring transgender people from using appropriate bathroom facilities has sent at least one company heading for the hills. Anthony Watson, openly gay CEO of British financial services company Uphold, is now headed to the West Coast to set up shop stateside instead of in South Carolina.

Watson wrote on Uphold’s website, “I have watched in shock and dismay as legislation has been abruptly proposed or enacted in several states across the union seeking to invalidate the basic protections and rights of LGBT U.S. citizens. As such, we feel compelled to take action to oppose the discrimination being proposed in South Carolina and protect our LGBT employees.”

Gov. Nikki Hayley has said she doesn’t believe the state needs such legislation. The bill was scheduled for its first hearing today (Wednesday, April 13.)


—  Tammye Nash

Missouri discrimination bill stalled in committee


Missouri Capitol

A bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people in Missouri has stalled in committee, according to the Kansas City Star.

The bill would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that voters would decide in November.

While the story doesn’t refer to whats’s going on in North Carolina or Mississippi as a result of anti-LGBT discrimination bills passed in those states, boycotts by businesses and entertainers have taken their toll and are making lawmakers in other states wary of going down the same path.

Businesses around the state formed a group called Missouri Competes to denounce discriminatory legislation. In Texas, a group called Texas Competes formed more than a year ago but so far has fewer than 1,000 businesses signed on. Equality Texas President Steve Rudner said earlier this week the goal for Texas Competes is 2,000 businesses before the Texas legislature meets next year.

Missouri Competes kicked off with 100 companies including Google Fiber, Pfizer, MasterCard and Monsanto signing an anti-discrimination pledge.

Amendments to the bill would limit protections to churches and clergy, who are already protected under federal law, and remove religious protections for private companies.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: North Carolina signs executive order adding protections for LGBT people


UUPDATNorth Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory

UPDATE: Response to McCrory’s decision to issue his executive order “adding protections for LGBT people” has been pouring in, and most folks are calling the governor out for his hypocrisy rather than praising him for the executive order. As an example, here’s what Mara Keisling with National Center for Transgender Equality had to say:

“It’s obvious that Gov. McCrory is trying to save his reputation with this desperate move. His executive order says that transgender state employees are protected from discrimination, but they still can’t use the restroom at work. It doesn’t make sense. In fact, the order does nothing to change the government-mandated discrimination against all trans people in public buildings across the state. And it doesn’t change the fact that most LGBT people in the state still have zero protections against discrimination. If Gov. McCrory thinks anyone is going to fall for this, he has completely underestimated North Carolinians – and the rest of the nation.”

And Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kyle Palazzolo said that his organization will go ahead with plans to sue the state over the discriminatory bill:

“The devastating blow of HB 2 will not be fixed by the band-aid of an executive order. While this is an improvement for the state employees it impacts, HB 2’s reach goes far beyond what the executive order addresses and that’s why we are challenging this extreme and discriminatory measure — in order to ensure that everyone who lives in and visits North Carolina is protected under the law. HB 2 is an attack on fairness in employment, education, and local governance that encourages discrimination against thousands of LGBT people who call North Carolina home, and it particularly targets transgender people.

“This lawsuit is crucial for the entire LGBT community in North Carolina because partial measures, like this executive order, are unacceptable to us, to LGBT North Carolinians, and to others around the country anxious to see an end to these dangerous displays of intolerance. Lambda Legal is again calling on North Carolina’s leadership to do right by our community and repeal HB 2 and replace it with full non-discrimination protections for all LGBT people.”

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, signed an executive order today adding protections for LGBT people.


The move comes after weeks of protests against a bill banning municipalities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances and forcing transgender people from using bathrooms according to their sex ands not gender identity.

Backlash didn’t come from just LGBT groups, however. Businesses like PayPal also nixed expansion plans in the state. Many governors and mayors from around the country also banned all non-essential, taxpayer-funded travel there as well.

According to a press release, Executive Order 90:

• Maintains common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and schools

• Affirms the private sector’s right to establish its own restroom and locker room policies

• Affirms the private sector and local governments’ right to establish non-discrimination employment policies for its own employees

• Expands the state’s employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity

• Seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination

North Carolina is now one of 24 states that have protections for sexual orientation and gender identity for its employees.

But Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said the executive order is a poor effort at saving face.

“Gov. McCrory’s actions today are a poor effort to save face after his sweeping attacks on the LGBT community, and they fall far short of correcting the damage done when he signed the harmful House Bill 2 into law which stigmatizes and mandates discrimination against gay and transgender people,” Preston said in a statement. “With this executive order, LGBT individuals still lack legal protections from discrimination, and transgender people are still explicitly targeted by being forced to use the wrong restroom.”

In a video, McCrory stated his opposition to an ordinance recently passed by the Charlotte City Council protecting the LGBT community from discrimination and harassment. He called it “a new mandate that forced on businesses a city-wide ordinance of bathroom and locker room regulations.”

But, McCrory said, “after listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina.

“Based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.”

—  James Russell