Human Rights Campaign Hub




Teachers Fired from Catholic Schools for Being Gay Request Meeting with the Pope

The Human Rights Campaign has sent a letter to the Vatican requesting an audience with the Pope on behalf of nine teachers who have lost their jobs at Catholic schools for being LGBT or supporting an LGBT person.

FrancisSays the letter, in part:

We write to you today with humility to request a Papal audience. With loving eloquence you have explained that the role of the Church is to restore what is broken and unite what has been divided. In this spirit of wholeness and reconciliation, we hope you will agree to meet with us and our families to hear our stories.

“We have devoted years, some of us even decades, to serving our communities as teachers, leaders and role models. We have made a conscious choice to work within the Catholic Church because we strongly believe that a Catholic education prepares our young people to be responsible citizens, men and women for others. For each and every one of us, our employment was far more than just a job – it was a reflection of our core Catholic values.”

...All of us were fired for whom we love – whether it be for committing ourselves to one person, and one person only, for the rest of our lives, or for embracing and supporting our own children unconditionally. Love is one of the greatest gifts God bestows upon us, and we can think of nothing more sacred than loving another human being through challenges, sicknesses and times of distress. The Church celebrates this type of sacred commitment. But for some reason, it rejects that same commitment when it’s between loving LGBT people. For some reason, it rejects that love when a mother embraces her LGBT child.

Read the full letter here.


U.S. Government Seeks Summary Dismissal Of NOM's IRS Lawsuit

According to Joe.My.God. “The federal government has filed a motion seeking the summary dismissal of [the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage's] lawsuit against the IRS.”

NomThe lawsuit stems from March 2013, when the Human Rights Campaign revealed an IRS document showing that then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had made a $10,000 donation to NOM through an obscure Alabama PAC.

The HRC said that the document came to them through a “NOM whistleblower,” but since its release, NOM has accused the Obama Administration of “criminally” providing the document and NOM’s donor lists to the HRC.

About two months later, NOM asked for a federal investigation into whether the IRS leaked the document as a way of targeting it as a conservative group.

NOM President John Eastman spoke to a House panel over the alleged IRS leak, and in October, NOM filed a lawsuit against the IRS alleging that it had been damaged by the leak.

NOM has regularly flouted tax and campaign finance laws, ostensibly to keep their donors’ identities private, but most likely to cover-up the fact that they’re primarily funded by just two people.

The move comes as the House of Representatives votes to hold a former IRS official in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with an investigation of the agency's targeting of right-wing groups.


Monday Speed Read: Taxes, Alaska, Texas, Project One America, Boy Scouts, Asian Commission

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

ALASKA COURT TAX VICTORY: Aclu_alaska

In a partial victory, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled unanimously Friday that a tax break given to seniors and people with disabilities “potentially treats same-sex couples less favorably than it treats opposite-sex couples.” The ACLU-led case, State v. Schmidt, was appealed to the high court by the state and Anchorage on behalf of three same-sex couples. The court ruled that the denial of the partial property tax exemption to same-sex couples who cannot marry violates the equal protection guarantee of the state constitution. (The ruling did not include the third couple because neither partner formally owned the property.) In its decision, the court said the state’s existing ban on same-sex marriages does not prohibit or permit the state to offer or deny a benefit it grants to married couples to same-sex couples “who demonstrate they are similarly situated to married couples.” Committed same-sex couples who want to marry,” said the decision, “are similarly situated to opposite-sex couples who want to marry.”

NellermoeDIVORCE DELAYED:

A Texas appeals court on Thursday granted a request to stay a state district judge’s ruling that the state “cannot discriminate against same-sex couples” and that the state’s ban against allowing same-sex couples to marry violates the child’s right to equal protection of the law. The Austin Statesman reports that the appeals court in San Antonio granted state Attorney General Greg Abbott’s request for an emergency stay of the ruling. Abbott said Judge Barbara Nellermoe’s ruling in the lesbian divorce and custody case last Tuesday could create “legal chaos.” The appeals court has set a May 5 deadline for briefs in the appeal.

PoaSHORING UP THE SOUTH:

The Human Rights Campaign Saturday announced a three-year, $8.5 million project to help improve legal protections for LGBT people living in three southern states. The campaign, called Project One America, will also devote a staff of 20 people concentrating on Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi –the states where, says an HRC press release, “there are no non-discrimination protections for LGBT people at the state or local level in employment, housing or public accommodations, and where each state’s constitution expressly prohibits marriage equality.” HRC says it has 57,000 members in these three states.

BsaBOY SCOUT BELLY FLOP:

Legal counsel for the Louisville Metro Council advised the local Boy Scouts troop last week that the city could not pay for the group to use a local pool because the Boy Scouts’ policy exhibits “intentional discrimination.” The Louisville Courier-Journal reported April 25 that at least $45,000 in city money was appropriated for scout activities last year. It said the troop’s assistant scoutmaster threatened to end scout volunteer work at local park clean-ups in retaliation it the city doesn’t provide the financial assistance.

TWO NAMED TO ASIAN COMMISSION:

Two of the 14 newly named members of President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are openly gay. One is the head of Asia Services in Action, Inc., Michael Byun, of Ohio; the other is actor Maulik Pancholy, best known for is secondary roles on the hit series 30 Rock and Weeds.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Monday Morning Speed Read: Ohio, Michigan, 'ENDA' Executive Order, Hillary Clinton

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

T_blackOHIO ON THE CUSP:

A federal district court judge in Cincinnati surprised many in court Friday when he announced he will issue a ruling within 10 days declaring the Ohio ban on recognizing marriages of same-sex couples unconstitutional. Judge Timothy Black (an Obama appointee) heard arguments April 4 in Henry v. Wymyslo. The lawsuit was brought by three married lesbian couples expecting to give birth soon and a gay male couple seeking to adopt. The four couples were seeking a court order to force the state to put the names of both parents on the birth certificates of their children-to-be. Black, who previously ruled in favor of two married same-sex couples seeking the right to have a surviving spouse’s name listed on a death certificate, read a statement to the courtroom saying he would find the ban unconstitutional. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the state will appeal, and he is expected to seek a stay.

SchuetteMICHIGAN SEEKS A LEAP ‘FORWARD’:

The Michigan attorney general on Friday filed a petition with the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, asking the court to bypass the usual three-judge panel hearing and go straight to a full appeals court review. "Advancing our case to a hearing before the entire panel of Sixth Circuit judges will move us forward more quickly, and minimize delays in ultimately reaching the U.S. Supreme Court,” explained Attorney General Bill Schuette in a press statement. “This move also offers the added benefit of conserving taxpayer resources by shortening the timeline of the litigation." Cases are moving quickly through two other circuits, both of which will be heard by three-judge panels in the coming days. If the Sixth Circuit grants Michigan’s request, it could make DeBoer v. Snyder the first to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, but that doesn’t guarantee that the Supreme Court would agree to hear that case.

CarneyREDUNDANT OR RETRACING HISTORY?

The Human Rights Campaign was unhappy Thursday with comments from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney about why President Obama won’t sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The White House has been sending mixed messages about the president’s willingness to sign an executive order but Carney has said in the past that an executive order is the “wrong approach” and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is the “right way to go.” Asked at a routine press briefing April 3 whether the president would sign an executive order if Congress passed ENDA, Carney said passage of ENDA would make an executive order “redundant.” HRC issued a statement Friday saying, “We couldn’t disagree more.” HRC pointed out that President Johnson signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors the year after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

SOME REDUNDACY ALLOWED:

Just three days after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said an LGBT-related executive order would be “redundant” to the pending Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Associated Press reported that President Obama will sign an executive order Tuesday that “is similar to language in a Senate bill aimed at closing a pay gap between men and women.”

HillaryREADY FOR HILLARY:

There are two big LGBT fundraisers tonight for an independent political action committee raising money for an expected presidential bid by Hillary Clinton. One, in Manhattan, is hosted by gay philanthropist and politico Jon Stryker and features California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. The other, at a gay bar in West Hollywood, is hosted by a group called Out & Ready for Hillary and will feature a number of actors and political figures.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Tuesday Morning Speed Read: Darrin Gayles, Staci Yandle, SCOTUS, Indiana, Uganda, Mike Michaud

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

NOMINEE HEARING TODAY:

President Obama’s openly gay African American nominee for the U.S. District Court in Miami goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning. A Committee spokesperson said both of Florida’s senators have indicated they support state circuit court Judge Darrin Gayles.  President Obama dropped another openly gay African American nominee for Miami in January after Senator Marco Rubio objected to the nomination.

YandleLESBIAN NOMINEE GRILLED:

President Obama’s nomination of openly lesbian African American Staci Yandle for the U.S. District Court in southern Illinois was up for a Committee vote last Thursday. But the committee held over her nomination and that of four others in a group of 10. Her nomination is now slated for a committee vote this Thursday.

REWRITING WINDSOR?

Two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee submitted questions in writing for federal court nominee Staci Yandle. Senator Charles Grassley grilled her over how she would interpret the Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, which overturned DOMA. Several LGBT legal activists said Grassley’s goal seemed to be to promote a narrow interpretation of Windsor. “They are trying to get her to say that the federalism discussion in Windsor means that the federal courts should not strike down state marriage bans – that they don’t have the authority to do so,” said GLAD Civil Rights Director Mary Bonauto.  Evan Wolfson, head of the national Freedom to Marry, noted that Grassley “chose not to ask about the explicit passages in the [Windsor] decision making clear that the ruling turned on equal protection, not federalism.” Lambda Legal’s Eric Lesh said Grassley has made the Windsor questions a routine line of inquiry for all federal court nominees now.

ElanephotographySUPREME BYPASS:

The U.S. Supreme Court, for two weeks in a row, has given no indication of whether it will hear a New Mexico dispute pitting New Mexico’s non-discrimination law against a commercial photographer’s claim that she has a First Amendment right to deny public accommodations to a same-sex couple based on her religious beliefs. The photographer filed Elane Photography v. Willock in November. The case was on the relatively short lists for the justices to discuss in private conference March 21 and 28. But on the subsequent Mondays, when the court announced which cases it would and would not take, Elane was not mentioned. The next conference is April 4.

IndianaSEEKING RELIEF IN INDIANA:

Lambda Legal on Monday filed an emergency motion in federal district court seeking an order that would allow a lesbian couple’s marriage to be recognized by Indiana. In the motion, Lambda adds couple Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler to the plaintiffs in its Baskin v. Bogan lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. Quasney and Sandler were married in Massachusetts last August. Quasney has late-stage ovarian cancer and is concerned that, without a court order to recognize their marriage, their children will be “denied important benefits” upon Quasney’s death and Sandler will be considered a legal stranger.

UGANDAN CHILDREN IN SONG:

Thousands of people turned out yesterday in the capital city of Uganda to stage a “thanksgiving” celebration for President Yoweri Museveni’s signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in February. According to an Associated Press report, many in the crowd were schoolchildren “who sang and danced to anti-gay tunes that also railed” against U.S. and European countries.

HRC STAFFER JOINS MICHAUD CAMPAIGN:

The Human Rights Campaign’s associate director of communications, Dan Rafter, left that organization to take over Monday as communications director for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s gubernatorial campaign in Maine.


Sally Field Calls Being A Part of Her Gay Son’s Journey 'One of the Great Privileges of My Life'

In an open letter for the Human Rights Campaign, Oscar-winning actress and vocal LGBT ally Sally Field shared her experience raising a gay son, calling it “one of the great privileges of my life.”

Sally field“The three things I’m most proud of in my life are my sons, Peter, Eli and Sam. They are kind, loving and productive people. Each with their own list of talents and accomplishments. Sam is my youngest son, by 18 years, and he’s gay. To that, I say: So what?

“Growing up, Sam wanted desperately to just be like his older brothers – athletic, rambunctious and even a little bit macho. He wanted to beat Eli at tennis, trounce Peter at computer football and learn everything about every basketball player on the court. But Sam was different. And his journey to allow himself to be what nature intended him to be was not an easy one.

“When I saw him struggling, I wanted to jump in. But his older brothers held me back. They told me I couldn’t travel that road for Sam. It was his to travel, not mine. I had to wait for him to own himself in his own time.

“I could make it easier only by standing visibly to the side, clearly loving him, always being there and always letting him know. Finally, at 20, long after he beat his brothers at tennis and computer games and knew as much as anyone about basketball, Sam was able to stand up proudly and say, ‘I am a gay man’.

Field’s letter is part of a new fundraising campaign by the HRC to help prevent the introduction of laws similar to those brought up in Arizona and Kansas that would allow religious-based discrimination against gays.

“There are people out there – organizations and politicians, strangers who have never even met Sam – who would rather devote themselves to denying his happiness.

“Why would anyone want to prevent my son—or anyone’s son or daughter—from having basic legal safeguards like family medical leave, Social Security survivors benefits, or health insurance? It doesn’t make any sense—but it won’t change until people speak out. 


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