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#AM_Equality Tipsheet: January 3, 2017

ICYMI — JUDGE PUTS THOUSANDS AT RISK BY HALTING ENFORCEMENT OF FEDERAL TRANSGENDER HEALTHCARE PROTECTIONS: On the eve of the New Year, a federal judge issued an injunction blocking enforcement of federal protections that were set to go into effect on January 1 barring discrimination in healthcare services based on an individual’s gender identity, as well as reproductive health services. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by Texas and several other states, as well as religiously-affiliated medical groups, seeking to overturn a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulation implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which forbids discrimination in health insurance and by health providers accepting federal funds. “Judge O’Connor’s decision to prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from implementing crucial protections for transgender people seeking healthcare services puts thousands of people at risk of marginalization, harassment, and discrimination at a time they are most vulnerable and in need of inclusive, respectful care,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “In addition, limiting access to reproductive healthcare harms millions of Americans including LGBTQ people who rely on reproductive healthcare for a broad range of reasons. While Judge O’Connor’s action is unconscionable, we believe that justice will prevail as courts continue to recognize that discrimination on the basis of sex is illegal, including discrimination on the basis of gender identity.” More from HRC.

O’Connor’s history of anti-LGBTQ decisions: O’Connor is the same judge who in August issued an injunction blocking the U.S. Department of Justice from enforcing guidance provided to school districts by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice clarifying that transgender students have a right to be treated with dignity and free from discrimination in schools. In March of 2015, he also sought to block Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rights for legally married same-sex couples despite the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision in United States v. Windsor (2013) recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples under federal law.

EQUALITY CHAMPION ROY COOPER SWORN IN AS NC GOV: Right as North Carolina welcomed the new year, the state welcomed its new governor, Roy Cooper. Just after midnight, the former state attorney general, who ran on a platform of equality and vows to repeal the vicious, anti-LGBTQ HB2 law, was sworn into office in Raleigh. Immediately after swearing to uphold the Constitution as governor, Cooper added, “I cannot wait to get started” — and we can’t wait for him to get started either. More from The Charlotte Observer.

HRC CALLS ON STATE DEPARTMENT TO APOLOGIZE FOR “LAVENDER SCARE”: In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, HRC is calling on the U.S. State Department to apologize to LGBTQ federal and state employees who were targeted, harassed and fired as part of the infamous “Lavender Scare” witch hunt in the 1950s and 1960s. HRC’s Government Affairs Director David Stacy notes that “the State Department has never issued a formal apology for the actions taken during that time” and urges Secretary Kerry to issue an apology and create a permanent exhibit in the National Museum of American Diplomacy to memorialize the victims. “While it may not be possible to make up for the damage that was done decades ago,” Stacy writes, “these small but crucial gestures would help to set the right tone at your Department as it enters a new and uncertain time in our country.” The so-called “Lavender Scare” was a particularly dark period for LGBTQ Americans. Those who admitted to being LGBTQ were often harassed and pressured to reveal others, leading to a witch hunt that lasted for years. More from HRC.

TUESDAY TWEET — #THANKSOBAMA: Viewed in full, President Barack Obama’s legacy of achievement for LGBTQ people is unmatched by any president in American history — from  landmark victories in the courts and Congress, to executive policies that advance basic fairness. As we prepare for the end of President Obama’s historic service to our nation, we look back at some of the most significant ways his Administration has advanced the cause of equal rights for all Americans — no matter who they are or whom they love. Check out a few of our favorites here.

TO UNDERMINE MARRIAGE EQUALITY, MISSOURI LAWMAKER MOVES TO  DENY ALL COUPLES THE RIGHT TO MARRY: Missouri State Rep. T.J. Berry has proposed removing government from the marriage process for all couples as part of a discriminatory scheme to deny LGBTQ Missourians the right to marry. Since the federal government doesn’t recognize other forms of unions, this proposal would also effectively deny all Missouri couples federal benefits that flow from marriage, including in taxation, Social Security and military spousal benefits. More from The Associated Press.

2016 IN RETROSPECTIVE — TRAGEDY AND INSPIRATION: 2016 was a wake-up call for many about the realities that LGBTQ people face, from the rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation to the horrific shooting at Pulse, from the incidents of anti-transgender violence to the election of a presidential ticket that threatens to undermine equality and justice. However, through these difficult times, we witnessed countless moments of inspiration. Read about these moments, brought to us by people including Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, Ellen Degeneres, Raymond Braun and many more on HRC’s blog.

MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN TAIWAN MOVES FROM “CONFLICT” TO “DISCUSSION:” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen told press on Saturday that there has been progress on the path to marriage equality. “We are in the same situation right now and we are handling this step by step. In the previous stage we saw conflict, but now we are turning to dialogue,” he said. Taiwan could become the first country in Asia to have marriage equality. More from Pink News.

READING RAINBOW

HRC interviews Lee Storrow, NC AIDS Action Network Executive Director and one of HRC’s HIV 360° Fellows, about his work to achieve an AIDS-free generation in North Carolina… The New York Times looks into the way brands are promoting inclusion in their advertisements in contrast to anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric by political leaders… The Advocate reports on a touching tribute to the survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting during the annual Rose Parade in California… HRC shares a 2000 performance with George Michael at HRC’s Equality Rocks campaign for LGBTQ equality…

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