Discrimination Hub

West Virginia Panel Advances Bill Banning LGBT Anti-Discrimination Ordinances

WVH.B. 2881, a bill that would ban local municipalities in the state of West Virginia from enacting LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances, advanced out of committee today and now moves to the House floor for an up or down vote. The bill is a facsimile of the anti-gay bill Arkansas recently enacted.

The bill, named the "West Virginia Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act", claims its intent is to "improve intrastate commerce" and business by enacting "uniformity" of laws, thus benefitting "the businesses, organizations and employers seeking to do business in [West Virginia] and will attract new ones to [it]." In actuality, the bill prevents local governments from protecting its LGBT citizenry from discrimination. 

The bill reads:

(a) No county, municipality or other political subdivision may adopt or enforce a local law, ordinance, resolution, rule or policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.

And adds:

(b) Any local law, ordinance, resolution, rule or policy adopted before the operative date of this act that violates subsection (a) of this section shall be null and void.

Prior to the bill advancing out of committee, Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of Fairness West Virginia, told The New Civil Rights Movement, 

"HB 2881 not only prohibits the rights of communities to govern themselves but it also interferes with democracy in its purest form: city and town councils. When a nondiscrimination ordinance or resolution is considered or passed, each community has the opportunity to speak out against it, vote the city or town leadership out of office, or repeal the ordinance. There’s no need for interference by the state legislature." 

North Carolina Conservatives Relying On Transphobic Robocalls To Defeat Non-Discrimination Ordinance

750px-Flag_of_North_Carolina.svgThough North Carolina Family Action claims to be a nonpartisan, “research and education” organization, the group has been actively engaged in a harmful, discriminatory robocall campaign spreading misinformation in an attempt to defeat an upcoming LGBT non-discrimination ordinance. 

The calls, which have been going out to thousands of voters living in Charlotte, claim that supporting the ordinance will lead to policy changes that will allow men and women to use the opposite sex’s bathrooms. The messaging is a transphobic attempt to instill fear of a law that would, in actuality, block public establishments from refusing patrons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In those instances where people were harassed or denied service, they would be able to file complaints with some hope of legal recourse.

“This does not allow men to go into women’s bathrooms or women to go into men’s,” said Scott Bishop, chairman of the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee, told the Charlotte Observer. “Transgender women are women, and transgender men are men. … That’s where the misunderstanding is – who transgender people are. A lot of public education needs to take place.”

Opponents to the ordinance plan to gather at a rally next week and are already working themselves into a delusional frenzy claiming that transgender people will be uniquely positioned to become sexual predators should the law be put into effect. The fervency with which the law’s opponents are attacking North Carolina’s queer community, explained Charlotte Business Guild president Chad Sevearance, is a diversionary tactic that could ultimately hurt the state economically.

“Fortune 500 companies believe that LGBT (employees) are the best and the brightest,” Sevearance told the Observer. “(Before coming to Charlotte), they’ll be looking at how their people are going to be protected from discrimination.”

FOX News Rallies Behind Christian Florist Who Refused to Do Gay Couple's Wedding: VIDEO


For two years we've been reporting on Baronelle Stutzman, the Washington florist who was found to be in violation of the state's anti-discrimination laws for refusing to provide flowers for a longtime gay customer's wedding. Stutzman said doing so would violate "her relationship with Jesus Christ."

Stutzman was offered a generous settlement offer of a $2,000 penalty, a $1 payment for court and legal fees, and an agreement “not to discriminate in the future,” but refused it, preferring to be a martyr for her cause.

Media Matters notes that Stutzman has found a prominent ally in her crusade: FOX News.

On the February 23 edition of The Kelly File, guest host Shannon Bream conducted the first ever television interview with Stutzman, along with an attorney from the extreme anti-gay group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing her. Bream has a history of championing the right to discriminate against gay customers, coming to the defense of business owners who violate non-discrimination laws and suggesting that gay customers should "just go down the street" and find someone who is willing to serve them.

Throughout the interview, Bream helped depict Stutzman as a victim who risked losing her home and livelihood because of the state's non-discrimination law...

...Fox News has used stories like Stutzman's to make the case for draconian "license-to-discriminate" laws that would give business owners broad discretion to refuse service to gay customers on religious grounds. These laws, unsurprisingly, are largely being crafted by ADF, which has been all-too-eager to use Fox News to bring national attention to its pro-discrimination legal work.

Watch FOX News eat up Stutzman's sob story, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Wyoming House Rejects Bill Protecting LGBT People from Discrimination in 33-26 Vote

Wyoming's House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected an LGBT non-discrimination bill, the Casper Star-Tribune reports:

Flag_wyomingSenate File 115 failed, with 33 opposing it, 26 supporting it and one lawmaker excused.

The bill would have added “sexual orientation or gender identity” to a handful of state laws that protect people regardless of their race, creed, age, pregnancy, disability and other classes.

The state Senate had passed the bill in early February.

You may recall that a House panel advanced the bill last Friday after ejecting Rep. Harlan Edmonds of Cheyenne. Edmonds had proposed an amendment to the bill that would have made it effective "when Hell freezes over."

Homophobic Florist Barronelle Stutzman Refuses To Pay Settlement, Won't Be 'Judas'

Barronelle Stutzman

Barronelle Stutzman, the homophobic Washington florist who ran afoul of the state's nondiscrimination laws in 2013 because Jesus, is doing everything she can to make herself a martyr on the issue of same-sex marriage. We told you last week that she refused the very generous settlement offer of $2001 to cover fines and court costs saying it would make her like Judas, and it would seem that Stutzman is doubling down on the comparison:

Washington's constitution guarantees us 'freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.' I cannot sell that precious freedom. You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do.

...except that Judas received payment to betray Jesus. Stutzman is being asked to pay a fine for breaking the law.

Stutzman appears to be so involved in her martyr complex that she's "forgotten" the teachings of the deity she's wielding as a cudgel, as Jesus commands his followers to "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" and Paul's letter to the Romans instructs to "Render to all what is due them." Driving home Stutzman's tunnel-visioned self-involvement is that she says, without any apparent presence of irony or self-awareness:

Our state would be a better place if we respected each other's differences, and our leaders protected the freedom to have those differences.

Do we really need to point out that non-discrimination laws do that very thing?

MSNBC Highlights the Queer Origins Of #BlackLivesMatter - VIDEO


#BlackLivesMatter has become the emblematic symbol of the current world-wide movement agitating for wider recognition of violence perpetrated against minorities here in the U.S. The hashtag began in response to the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, who was murdered by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch enthusiast with a track record of overreaction.

Much of the story surrounding Martin’s death focused on the ways in which the local police department was slow to issue an arrest warrant for Zimmerman and how the court proceedings seemingly gave Zimmerman an excessive benefit of the doubt in hearing why he felt compelled to shoot Martin.

The degree to which value seemed to be denied black lives played directly into the creation of #BlackLivesMatter, and the hashtag has gone on to become the rallying cry behind a wide range of protests since then. Though we’ve come to understand #BlackLivesMatter in the contexts of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and the Chapel Hill shootings, its meaning and impact have since spread to bringing awareness of the systemic violence that trans woman (particularly those of color) deal with on a daily basis. The story of the hashtag’s roots in the black queer community have been woefully underreported up until now.

Cullors“You can’t choose what your most salient identity is according to the white gays,” Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter says in an MSNBC mini-documentary. “My salient identity is queer. My salient identity is woman and it is black. I experience them all at the same time as I move about the world.”

She continues:

“It started to become clear as the hashtag and the movement started to grow that a historical narrative was playing out. The historic narrative of black people has been that [of] fighting for black, cis-, hetero-, Christian  men [to be] at the forefront of the conversation.

I think there was a sort of thing for black folks where it was like: ‘being black is already hard enough. Why do--it’s too much to try to be black and gay [or] black and trans [or] black, trans, and poor. That’s like too much. So let’s focus on this one issue that’s calle ‘blackness’ as if blackness [encompasses] all of everything. As if blackness is only one thing. And then once we get that down, then we can focus on the other things. But that’s actually a very harmful narrative.”

Watch the full mini-documentary delving into the origin of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag AFTER THE JUMP...

Screenshot 2015-02-23 16.00.09

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