BREAKING: Trump rescinds guidelines protecting trans students

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, left, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Photo by Michael Lavers/Washington Blade)

 

Chris Johnson | Washington Blade
Courtesy National Gay Media Association

 

Despite pleas from parents of transgender children and LGBT employees, the Trump administration today (Tuesday, Feb. 22) rescinded Obama-era guidance to schools barring discrimination against transgender students and ensuring they have access to the restroom consistent with their gender identity.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told the Washington Blade on Monday, “This is the first day of the president’s second month in office and he is now fully coming after LGBT people,” Keisling said. “I’m angry; I’m outraged. This is about kids who just want to go to school who just want to be themselves, and to hear the president a week or two ago talk about how supportive he is of LGBT people, it’s just outrageous that he’d go after trans kids this way.”

Removal of the guidance would fulfill a campaign promise from Trump, who pledged to rescind the guidance after it was issued, but still “protect everybody,” amid outcry from conservative-leaning states. The Trump administration would be moving to rescind the guidance shortly after the confirmation of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Jointly issued in May under the Obama administration by the Justice Department and Education Department, the guidance asserts that denying transgender students access to the restroom in accordance with their gender identity violates the prohibition on sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Rescinding the guidance is consistent with a legal brief the Justice Department filed earlier this month in litigation against the guidance filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of 12 states. As a result of the litigation, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor issued a preliminary injunction barring the administration from enforcing the guidance nationwide.

Although the Justice Department under former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch filed an appeal along with a request with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to limit the scope of the injunction to the 12 plaintiff states, the brief under Sessions withdraws that request and informs the federal appeals court the Trump administration is “currently considering how best to proceed in this appeal.”

Transgender advocates took the change in position at the Justice Department as a signal Trump would soon fulfill his campaign promise to reverse the guidance.

A flurry of letters were sent to the Trump administration calling for preservation of the guidance. One came from a quartet of pro-LGBT advocacy groups, one from nearly 800 parents of transgender youths and another from LGBT employees at the Education Department. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement to the Washington Blade the change in position at the Justice Department is “deeply disappointing.”

Other LGBT advocates over the course of the holiday weekend said they similarly heard the Justice Department and Education Department would act to rescind the guidance.

Kelly Love, a White House spokesperson, had no comment in response to the Washington Blade’s request to confirm the Trump administration would follow up on the Justice Department’s move and rescind the guidance.

“We have nothing to add to this report right now, but will keep you posted if anything changes,” Love said.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment. The Education Department didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment over the holiday weekend.

A decision to withdraw the guidance could be an initial signal of the Trump administration’s position in the case before the U.S. Supreme Court known as Gloucester County Schools v. G.G., which resulted from transgender student Gavin Grimm suing his high school to use the restroom consistent with his gender identity. The questions before the court are to evaluate the guidance and whether the prohibition of sex discrimination under Title IX applies to transgender students seeking to use the restroom in school consistent with their gender identity.

The Trump administration would be rescinding the guidance weeks after the White House issued a statement declaring Trump is “respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights” and would preserve a separate order from President Obama barring anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors.

Even if the U.S. government rescinds the guidance, transgender advocates have insisted students are still able to sue on their own under Title IX if they feel they’ve experienced discrimination as a result of their gender identity.

“It doesn’t take away trans kids’ rights,” Keisling said. “It’s Title IX that protects us, not Donald Trump or Attorney General Sessions agreeing with us on Title IX.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement the Trump administration must affirm the guidance for transgender students must remain in place.

“Transgender young people face tragically high rates of discrimination and bullying, and they need a government that will stand up for them — not attack them,” Griffin said. “It’s shocking that this kind of harm would even be a subject of debate for the president. We call on Trump to immediately and permanently affirm the Obama Administration’s guidance and protect transgender students.”

—  Tammye Nash

NJ 9-year-old is first openly transgender Boy Scout

Joe Maldonado, a 9-year-old from New Jersey, has become the first openly transgender Boy Scout, according to this report by The Huffington Post. He joined a week after Boy Scouts of America announced the organization would accept transgender Scouts.

Joe, who has always been openly transgender, first tried to join BSA back in October. But some parents complained and a BSA official then told Joe’s mother, Kristie Maldonado, that trans boys weren’t allowed.

This week though, Pack Leader Kyle Hacker welcomed Joe by helping Joe put on his new Scout uniform and neckerchief, and teaching him the Cub Scout salute and oath. Hacker told the boy, “This means you are the same as Scouts all over the world.”

Joe said he was having fun and proud to be a Scout: “I’m accepted, and I’m actually in Boy Scouts.”

 

—  Tammye Nash

ACLU seeks to stay court order allowing healthcare providers to discriminate

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion Monday, Jan. 9, in the Northern District Court of Texas, asking the court stay the nationwide court order preventing the federal government from enforcing an Affordable Care Act regulation that protects transgender people and women from discrimination in healthcare.

The ACLU also asked the court to issue a formal ruling on its request to intervene in the lawsuit.

A group of states, led by Texas and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and a group of religiously-affiliated health care organizations who claim that Affordable Care Act regulations banning discrimination against transgender people and women could force healthcare providers to violate their personal religious beliefs. The plaintiffs in the case claim “they should be allowed to deny essential healthcare services and coverage to transgender people and women,” the ACLU says.

The ACLU originally moved to intervene on behalf of the ACLU of Texas and the River City Gender Alliance in September because the lawsuit “seeks to undermine critical anti-discrimination measures and to allow religion to be used to harm others, including by denying medical care,” according to an ACLU press release.

Federal Judge Reed O’Connor — the same judge that enjoined federal guidelines to school districts on interacting with transgender students — issued a preliminary injunction on Dec. 31 that halted enforcement of the ACA regulations just hours before it was to go into effect. The nationwide injunction restrains the government from enforcing the regulation to prevent public and private healthcare providers, including hospitals and healthcare centers, from discriminating against transgender people and women.

Such discrimination may include harassment, refusal to perform essential healthcare services like reproductive or gender-affirming care, and denials of insurance coverage for essential healthcare services, according to the ACLU.

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Louise Melling said, “Religious liberty does not mean the right to discriminate or harm others. No one should live in fear of being turned away at a hospital because of who they are, and we’re ready to fight this decision sanctioning discrimination. We won’t sit idly by while women and transgender people continue to see their rights come under assault.”

Kate Parrish, president of the Omaha, Nebraska-based River City Gender Alliance, said, “The judge’s court order direct attack on the transgender community’s right to function normally and safely in everyday life. Our access to medically necessary health care treatment is being restricted simply because of who we are.”

To see the ACLU’s motion, go here.

—  Tammye Nash

Patrick holding press conference to announce filing of bathroom bill

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaking at a press conference in Fort Worth last spring against Fort Worth ISD guidelines on protecting transgender students. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is so proud that he is going to put Texas’ economic health at risk that he’s holding a press conference this afternoon to announce it.

Patrick and state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, sent out a “media advisory” yesterday (Wednesday, Jan. 4) to say they will be holding a press conference today (Thursday, Jan. 5), at 1 p.m. in the Senate Press Conference Room at the Texas Capitol, to announce the filing of Senate Bill 6,”The Privacy Protection Act.”

For those who might not know, “Privacy Protection Act” is the alias Patrick has given to his version of HB 2, the anti-transgender bathroom bill that has cost the state of North Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars. Patrick thinks that by pretending he is trying to protect women and children from predatory men instead of just plain ol’ hating on transgender people, he can fool people into thinking SB6 is a good thing. Of course, if he really wanted to protect women and children from predatory men, he would be working to stop the men in the Texas Legislature from passing laws that interfere with women’s control over their own bodies and health decisions.

Hopefully there are enough people in the Legislature who have more sense than prejudice that they will be able to stop this bill before it gets anywhere. But we suggest that everyone who does oppose it put as much effort as possible into letting your representatives and senators know that this is a really really bad idea.

 

—  Tammye Nash

Paxton gets injunction allowing medical professionals to discriminate against transgender people

Texas AG Ken Paxton

Well, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton started off the new year in the same old homophobic vein, issuing a Jan. 1 press release crowing over a federal district court’s decision to issue an injunction against portions of the Affordable Care Act that prohibited health care professionals from discriminating against transgender people.

The regulation was set to go into effect on Sunday, Jan. 1.

Paxton filed suit against the regulation prohibiting discrimination against transgender individuals in some health programs back in August on behalf of Texas, two other states and the Franiciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network. The suit claims that the regulation redefines term “sex” to “thwart decades of settled precedent” and impose “massive new obligations” on health care providers.

Paxton and his cohorts argued that the rule violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act because by compelling religiously-affiliated health organizations to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by “forcing them to choose between federal funding and their livelihood as healthcare providers and their exercise of religion.”

Of course, folks who aren’t right-wing homo/transphobes have a different view of the regulation. As Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow told the Texas Tribune back in August, the regulation “doesn’t force an individual to do anything in particular” but instead clarifies that health care providers can’t deny services or insurance to someone because they’re transgender.

“The example unfortunately used by individuals who oppose this is that this is going to force doctors to provide transition surgeries to children [but] this doesn’t take away a doctor’s ability to make informed decisions in the best interest of their patients. What the doctor can’t do is say, ‘I won’t treat you because you’re transgender.’”

Paxton’s Jan. 1 press release announcing the injunction, claims that “Not only does it require taxpayers to fund all treatments designed to transition to a different sex, it also forces health care workers, including physicians, to provide controversial services. Under the new rule, a physician that believes that certain treatments are not in a patient’s best interests may be in violation of federal law. And a physician that, for religious or conscientious reasons cannot perform a particular procedure, chooses to instead refer a patient to another health care provider may also be determined to be in violation of this new rule.

The press release quotes Paxton as saying, “This striking example of federal overreach under Obamacare would force many doctors, hospitals and other health care providers in Texas to participate in sex-reassignment surgeries and treatments, even if it violates their best medical judgment or their religious beliefs. I will always fight to protect the constitutional rights of Texans.”

Unless, of course, it’s a constitutional right or a doctor’s “best medical judgment” he doesn’t agree with, like the right to marriage equality or reproductive decisions. And Kenny-boy is always going to fight “federal overreach,” but that doesn’t mean that he and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick can’t reach out and tell local school districts how to handle their business.

The injunction came from U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas, in Fort Worth. This is the same judge who issued the injunction against the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance on how school districts should treat transgender students (you know, not discriminate against them).

We’re not saying that Paxton and his cronies hand-picked O’Connor to hear these two cases regarding regulations banning discrimination against transgender people because they know he’s a right-winger who would rule in their favor — but then, we don’t need to say that because Law.com said it for us.

—  Tammye Nash

SCOTUS accepts appeal in trans student’s case

FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2015, file photo, Gavin Grimm poses on his front porch during an interview at his home in Gloucester, Va. The fate of North Carolina's new bathroom law could be determined by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, which is expected to rule soon on Grimm's challenge. The high school student was born female but identifies as male, and says it's discriminatory to make him use the girls’ room or a single-stall unisex restroom. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Gavin Grimm (Steve Helber/Associated Press)

 

Lisa Keen | Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

 

In a development that could worry LGBT legal activists, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, Oct. 28, announced that it would hear an appeal that challenges a lower court decision in favor of a transgender student denied access to a school bathroom consistent with his gender identity.

The case, Gloucester v. Grimm, asks the court to decide the validity of a U.S. Department of Education interpretation of a federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sex in education. The Department says the law also prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.

The case comes to the high court from the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which had ruled in April that Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act of 1972 —which prohibits discrimination based on sex by federally funded educational institutions — also prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.

The ACLU, which represents the transgender high school student in the case, put a positive spin on the announcement, saying it would give the group an opportunity to “tell the Supreme Court who Gavin and transgender kids are throughout the country.”

Gavin Grimm is a senior at a public high school in Gloucester, Va. Although identified as female at birth, he has felt since age 6 that he’s a male. A psychologist diagnosed Grimm with gender dysphoria, a condition in which a person strongly identifies as a gender different from his or her physical gender attributes.

His parents helped him change his name, secure treatment to transition to a male identity, and inform and seek help from school officials. Grimm sought use of the boys’ restroom because, he said, girls reacted negatively to his presence in the girls’ restrooms because they perceive him to be a boy.

ACLU senior staff attorney Josh Block said the school’s refusal to let Grimm use the boys’ restroom is “not only humiliating but also affects his education and his ability to participate in school life.”

In accepting Gloucester, the Supreme Court said it would address only two of three questions that the school district attorneys posed: First, they ask whether the courts should give “deference” to the Department of Education’s interpretation of the law, given that it came in an “unpublished agency letter.” And, second, they ask whether legal effect should be given to the Department’s interpretation of Title IX.

In its petition to the Supreme Court, the school district’s primary argument was that, when Congress passed Title IX, it intended the word “sex” to mean “nothing more than male and female, under the traditional binary conception of sex consistent with one’s birth or biological sex.” It says the U.S. Department of Education’s interpretation of “sex” to include “gender identity” amounts to creating new law.

Block says the high court won’t necessarily reach the question of whether “sex” should include “gender identity.” It could stick to a very narrow ruling on whether the courts should defer to the Department’s interpretation of “sex.”

“The argument the other side is making,” said Block, “…is the unambiguous meaning is biological sex. In order to apply deference [to DOE], the court must first determine the regulation is ambiguous and then that [the Department’s interpretation was] a reasonable construction.

“The court could decide in a broad or narrow way but, at a minimum, it would reject the idea that one and only one meaning of the word sex is chromosomes or reproductive anatomy.”

Block said the court’s eventual ruling could have far reaching applications, affecting not only the sex discrimination language in Title IX affecting education but also in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, affecting employment.

“It potentially has implications for any statutes protecting on the basis of sex,” he said. “It could decide on narrower grounds, but since 2000, the [lower] courts have kept up a steady drumbeat that discrimination against transgender people is discrimination based on sex. And this might be the opportunity for the U.S. Supreme Court to join that chorus.”

The high court does not typically jump at chances to make sweeping decisions and, to some extent, it is unusual that the court took this case because the ruling under appeal was a preliminary one, not one on the merits.

The 4th Circuit’s ruling was issued in response to a preliminary motion in Grimm’s lawsuit. The preliminary motion requested that Grimm be able to use his public high school’s boys’ restrooms until his overall lawsuit, arguing that Title IX does cover gender identity, can be resolved. The 4th Circuit’s decision sent the case back to the district court with instructions to reconsider the preliminary injunction in light of the appeals court’s ruling that Title IX prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.

The Gloucester school district appealed that preliminary ruling to the Supreme Court and, in August, the Supreme Court agreed to stay the 4th Circuit’s decision until SCOTUS could decide whether to take the case for review. Attorneys for Grimm argued against the court taking the appeal, saying that this case was “the wrong case at the wrong time,” and noting that there are no conflicts — yet — among the various federal appeals courts.

Grimm said in a telephone press call that he was disappointed that the Supreme Court accepted the appeal, “but I’m not afraid and not discouraged.”

While he said he feels like he has a “target on my back” and things are “very difficult and stressful,” he said he hopes his case means that “no other transgender student will have to go through what I’ve gone through.”

© 2016 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  Tammye Nash

Texas’ Three Amigos of the Apocalypse still fighting marriage equality

composite

In Texas, AG Ken Paxton, left, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, center, and Gov. Greg Abbott took time off from trying to deny equality to transgender people to once again take up the banner against marriage equality.

It’s been almost a year and a half since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Obergefell v. Hodges, that is violates the U.S. Constitution to deny equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. This week, Texas’ top elected officials took time out from their ongoing battle to deny equal rights to transgender Texans and keep trans people from using the appropriate public restroom facilities (see here and here), to go back and once again take up the fight against marriage equality.

Ummm, Greg, Dan and Ken, hello! The Dark Ages called; they want their assholes back.

Seriously.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent out a press release today announcing that he, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have filed a joint amicus brief with the Texas Supreme Court “urging the court to recognize that the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement of a right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges does not resolve all constitutional issues relating same-sex marriage.”

They filed their brief in connection with a case now before the Texas Supreme Court, Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks v. Mayor Sylvester Turner and the City of Houston, in which Pidgeon and Hicks, Houston taxpayers, sued the city of Houston claiming then-Mayor Annise Parker broke Texas law and violated the Texas Constitution — which was amended in 2005 to specifically ban legal recognition of same-sex marriage — when she extended spousal benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees who had gotten married in jurisdictions that did legally recognize same-sex marriage.

The case when to trial and the district court issued an injunction preventing the city from extending those benefits until the case was ultimately decided. But then the U.S. Supreme Court — which, for those of you who might have spent too much time around Ken and Greg and Dan and don’t remember, still does trump the Texas Supreme Court — came out with the Obergefell decision. And the Pidgeon case became a moot point. Right?

Well, Ken and company don’t agree. They are saying, basically, that while they have to let the homos get married, they don’t have to actually treat them like straight married couples (you know, “real” married people). In essence, the Three Amigos of the Apocalypse are claiming that the city of Houston — and any other Texas city/town/whatever — cannot legally extend spousal benefits to the legal same-sex spouses of their employees because the Texas Constitution bans same-sex marriage, regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court and Constitution say,

Really. That’s what they are saying (from the “Summary of Argument” in the Three Amigos amicus brief): “By issuing its judgment in Obergefell, the Supreme Court effectively has required all States to grant same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages from other states, and the purpose of this brief is not to contest or circumvent that requirement. But the existence of a federal court judgment obligating States to grant and recognize same-sex marriages does not automatically dictate the outcome of a case like this one, which raises a related but different constitutional question involving municipal employee benefits. … While the judgment in Obergefell is authoritative, Justice Kennedy’s lengthy opinion explaining that judgment is not an addendum to the federal constitution and should not be treated by state courts as if every word of it is the preemptive law of the United States.”

(You can read the whole brief here.)

The press release quotes Paxton as saying, “My office had the privilege of defending Texas’ marriage laws in Fifth Circuit. While the U.S. Supreme Court did recognize a right to same-sex marriage, there are a host of issues in that area of the law that remain unresolved. I applaud Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick for their leadership in asking that state courts give serious consideration to these weighty, unresolved questions.”

I should stop here to point out that the Texas Supreme Court has already refused to hear the plaintiffs’ appeal in this case. But the plaintiffs — and the Amigos — are demanding a rehearing. Obviously, Paxton and company have not yet spent enough taxpayer money on lawsuits endeavoring to deny civil rights to LGBT Texans.

Perhaps this is just another ploy by Paxton to try and distract people from the fact that he STILL FACES criminal charges of securities fraud and that his buddies on the Collin County Commissioners Court and in the Texas Legislature are trying to torpedo the prosecution in that case by getting the Commissioners Court to refuse to pay the special prosecutors that had to be hired. A judge had dismissed a federal civil lawsuit against Paxton for securities fraud, but the SEC has refilled those charges.

—  Tammye Nash

Paxton whines to SCOTUS over Texas’ unconstitutional Voter ID Law

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is at it again.

Ken-Paxton-mug

AG Ken Paxton

If filing 900-thousand lawsuits against President Obama to try and force the federal government to let him mistreat transgender people isn’t enough to keep Paxton busy, now he has filed “a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court to reinstate Texas’ voter ID law.”

In other words, the AG is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to please let him and the other Republicans in Texas keep on preventing Texans who might not vote for them from voting at all. (You can see the petition here.)

A press release issued today (Friday, Sept. 23), quotes Paxton as saying, “Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is essential to preserving our democracy. Voter ID laws both prevent fraud and increase the public’s confidence in our elections. Texas enacted a common-sense voter ID law and I am confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately reinstate it.”

The press release also notes that the petition will have no effect on the Nov. 8 elections “for which an interim remedy has been ordered by the courts.”

The folks over at the Lone Star Project — an admittedly partisan organization that has little fondness for any Republican — don’t think too highly of Paxton’s petition. Lone Star Project Director Matt Angle criticized Paxton and Gov, Greg Abbot for having thrown “another bale of taxpayer money in the dumpster and set it on fire” with this latest effort.

Angle added, “It’s unlikely that the Supreme Court will even take up Paxton and Abbott’s appeal. Today’s announcement is nothing more than a political move designed to provide cover for Texas Republicans’ utter failure to defend their discriminatory voter ID law. The voter ID appeal is irresponsible, a waste of taxpayer money and yet another example of Paxton and Abbott putting politics ahead of common sense and fiscal responsibility.”

Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas, issued a statement reiterating that the petition will have not effect on the Nov. 8 election. “But,” she added, “with Texas’ already abysmally low voter turnout, the real question is why Attorney General Paxton would waste upwards of 3.5 million taxpayer dollars (and counting) defending a law that disenfranchises more than 600,000 eligible voters. Instead of suppressing the vote, we ought to do everything in our power to ensure that every qualified voter participates.”

—  Tammye Nash

McCrory tries to sidestep HB 2 fallout

 

McCrory

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says the state legislature may consider repealing H.B. 2, but only if the city of Charlotte repeals its LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance first.

Charlotte mayor warns McCrory not to blame her city for his mistake

Lisa Keen |   Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

North Carolina is a battleground on two fronts these days: Over the state’s recently enacted anti-LGBT law and over the political race for the White House.

roberts-jennifer-web

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said her city is “a welcoming community that honors and respects all people.”

And at least one of those battles could come to a major turning point this week.

In a strange twist, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday, Sept. 16, said he’d call a special session of the state legislature this week to consider repealing HB2 — but only if the city of Charlotte first repealed its non-discrimination law. That law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as race, sex, and other categories.

According to local news reports, McCrory’s communication office issued this statement Friday:

“For the last nine months, the governor has consistently said state legislation is only needed if the Charlotte ordinance remains in place. If the Charlotte City Council totally repeals the ordinance and then we can confirm there is support to repeal among the majority of state lawmakers in the House and Senate, the governor will call a special session. It is the governor’s understanding that legislative leaders and the lieutenant governor agree with that assessment.”

Charlotte City Council rejected a proposal in May where the legislature said it would “amend” HB2 in return for Charlotte’s repeal of its non-discrimination law. Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts issued a statement today (Monday morning, Sept. 19, that left no impression the Council would consider repealing its ordinance.

“The city of Charlotte continues its commitment to be a welcoming community that honors and respects all people,” read the statement from Roberts. “We appreciate the state wanting to find a solution to the challenges we are facing and applaud the governor for recognizing the state should overturn HB2, which the state can do at any time without any action from the city of Charlotte.

“We are not prepared to add this item to our agenda this evening, however, we urge the state to take action as soon as possible and encourage continued dialogue with the broader community,” Roberts’ statement continued.

The statewide LGBT group Equality North Carolina and the national Human Rights Campaign issued both statements Friday urging Charlotte to reject the proposal.

“It would require Charlotte to drop the very protections for the LGBTQ community that businesses, the NCAA and other organizations have now made clear are needed and are a priority,” said JoDee Winterhof, an HRC senior vice president.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal also issued statements opposing the idea.

“The reason the NBA, NCAA and countless other groups and companies have refused to do business in North Carolina is because H.B. 2 is an unprecedented and targeted attack on the LGBT community that is inconsistent with American values — not because Charlotte commendably decided to protect LGBT people from discrimination,” said Simone Bell, the southern regional director for Lambda Legal.

Meanwhile, the state is still wincing as major corporations and events continue to pull out of the state, citing their opposition to HB2. Just this month, both the NCAA and the ACC college athletic organizations announced they would not hold championship tournaments in North Carolina.

Those announcements set off a political earthquake in the state, which was already reeling from a wave of cancellations — from classic concerts to pop concerts, to travel by employees from New York and other states, to more than 60 major corporations filing statements in opposition to HB2 and, in many cases, putting a halt on their plans for conferences or to build in the state.

Wired magazine estimates the state has already lost almost $400 million because of the law. The NCAA and ACC decisions alone cost North Carolina more than $90 million, says Wired.

Not surprisingly, then, Gov. McCrory — who, according to most recent polls, is trailing Democrat Roy Cooper in that state’s gubernatorial contest — is racing to find a way to stop further damage.

Earlier in the month, he asked a federal district court judge to delay the trial challenging HB2 from November until May, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court might take up a similar case from Virginia. Lambda Legal’s national legal director, Jon Davidson, said his group agreed to the delay after the federal court granted a stay of the law as it applies to transgender people at the University of North Carolina.

On Friday, McCrory dropped one of his two counter lawsuits and issued the statement, hoping to persuade Charlotte to repeal its law so the state could declare HB2 no longer necessary.

The law, enacted last March, bars any local jurisdiction (not just Charlotte) from passing non-discrimination laws that exceed state law — and state law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. More notoriously, HB2 also bans transgender people from using any public restroom other than one assigned to a gender that matches their birth certificate.

Add to the economic and legal turmoil the fact that North Carolina is one of 12 states that pollsters say is uncertain in terms of the 2016 presidential election, and the implications of HB2 become even more dramatic.

Democrat Hillary Clinton has spoken out clearly against the law. Republican Donald Trump has sent mixed signals.

Speaking to a campaign audience in Greensboro, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 16, Clinton said, “I’m running for the LGBT teenager here in North Carolina who sees your governor sign a bill legalizing discrimination and suddenly feels like a second-class citizen.”

In her remarks, at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, she said she wanted to “make sure every person and, particularly, every child, no matter who they are, what they look like, or who they love, are part of the American dream now and way into the future. Let that be our message. Let that be our mission.” (

Trump initially said North Carolina would have “a lot of problems” for passing HB2 and suggested it was unnecessary.

“There has been so little trouble” regarding the use of bathrooms, he told the Today Show on April 21. But over time, he’s said the issue should be left to the individual states.

Asked about it in July, Trump told the News & Observer, “Well, I’m going with the state. The state knows what’s going on. They see what’s happening and, generally speaking, I’m with the state on things like this.

As of last Thursday, openly gay electoral data guru Nate Silver was predicting North Carolina to be leaning slightly toward Trump, 53 percent to 47 percent. Silver also dramatically downgraded Clinton’s chances of winning the White House — from 70 percent to 60 percent — following her previous weekend’s woes. On Sep. 9, Clinton described some of Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” a phrase that the Trump campaign meant Clinton thinks all Americans are deplorable. Two days later, Clinton collapsed outside a 9/11 memorial services and then took three days off to recover from pneumonia.

Analyzing many polls, Silver sees the state has being the fourth most likely to provide the “tipping” point in the Nov. 8 election (behind Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio).

© 2016 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

UPDATE: Trans actor and activist Alexis Arquette has died

UPDATE: People Magazine has reported that a source close to the family says Arquette died of AIDS-related complications.

 

Aalexislexis Arquette, one of the famed Arquette acting family whose siblings include Academy Award-winner Patricia and Scream star David, has died at age 47, her brother Richmond confirmed this morning. Alexis was surrounded by family after “battling an illness,” although no specific cause of death was given. The death, Richmond reported, was “fast and painless.”

Alexis, born Robert, came to prominence first as an actor, most notably in the Adam Sandler comedy The Wedding Singer. She was one of the most prominent and earliest entertainment celebrities to identify as trans. Alexis officially came out as transgender and documented her transition in the 2007 documentary Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother. In addition, Alexis was a singer and activist on GLBT issues.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones