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This week, we mark the 20th anniversary of Ellen DeGeneres coming out.

DeGeneres came out publicly on her TV show Ellen on April 30, 1997, in “The Puppy Episode.” The episode featured several big names, including Oprah Winfrey, Demi Moore, Billy Bob Thornton, k.d. lang, Melissa Etheridge and Laura Dern, and a brief cameo by DeGeneres’ real-life mom and longtime HRC supporter Betty DeGeneres.

Ellen’s courageous decision to live openly and honestly– both on- and off-screen – was truly historic. Not long after coming out, DeGeneres was honored at HRC’s first-ever National Dinner with our National Civil Rights Award.

In her acceptance speech, she said:

“This hasn’t been an easy journey for me. I lived with a sense of shame for a long time. Every interview, I tried to dodge around that dreaded question, ‘Are you gay?’ My answer was always:

‘My private life is my private life.’ And it is. But my sexuality is as much a part of me as my skin color. I tried to justify why I should keep it hidden for as long as I could. I finally got to a point where living honestly and being proud of who I am was more important than fame. Ironically, my being honest made me more famous. So much for those who said it would hurt my career. I was willing to risk it all and I was rewarded for it. My life is better than it’s ever been - I found love and there’s nothing more important than that…

I feel so good knowing I’ve made a contribution - that’s my reward. I never wanted to be an activist - I just wanted to entertain people to make them feel good. But as I’ve witnessed the discrimination -the double standards- and heard the statistics of teen suicides-I’ve had to re-think that. If by standing up for what I think is right makes me an activist- I’m an activist.”

During DeGeneres’ coming out episode, HRC planned coming out house parties across the country and sponsored a TV commercial about anti-LGBTQ job discrimination. While the national ABC Network turned the ad down, citing its policy against “controversial issue advertising,” 65 ABC affiliates across the country accepted the ad and 12 refused. HRC ultimately aired the spot in 35 markets across the country, raising awareness around the issue of job discrimination against LGBTQ Americans.

Stay turned to HRC’s blog as we highlight Ellen DeGeneres and the historic impact she has made for LGBTQ people everywhere.

Coming out -- whether it is as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or allied -- is a deeply personal journey for every individual. For more resources on coming out, visit HRC’s Coming Out Center.


Author: Hayley Miller
Posted: April 27, 2017, 10:08 pm

Today, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) reintroduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which would require colleges and universities to have comprehensive anti-harassment policies that include LGBTQ young people.

Specifically, the legislation would require policies that prohibit harassment of enrolled students by other students, faculty, and staff based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion and would require colleges to distribute their anti-harassment policy to all students and employees, including prospective students and employees upon request. It would also explicitly prohibit behavior often referred to as cyberbullying.

Tyler Clementi, for whom the bill is named, was an 18 year-old freshman at Rutgers University in the fall of 2010. Without Clementi’s knowledge, his roommate streamed video footage on the internet of Clementi being intimate in his dorm room with another male. After his roommate attempted to stream another such interaction a few days later, Clementi ended his life.

After his death, Clementi’s parents founded the Tyler Clementi Foundation to combat bullying and harassment and to promote safe and inclusive environments for LGBTQ youth. Last July, Jane Clementi, Tyler’s mom, testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and implored the Committee to include the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act in any reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

“I believe this bill will allow institutions of higher education to take a fresh look and reexamine their policies and procedures that are and are not in place,” Jane shared in her written testimony to the committee. “In addition this legislation is your opportunity to not only keep our own young adults safe but to also have a global influence. Book knowledge is important but the wisdom of empathy and compassion is priceless. Bullying does not magically disappear when someone turns 18. We must continue to provide safe and supportive learning environments for all students in all learning environments including higher education.”

HRC applauds Senators Murray and Baldwin and Representative Pocan for their unwavering support for LGBTQ young people. We will continue to work with them and all of our champions on Capitol Hill to pass this legislation.


Author: Jennifer Pike Bailey
Posted: April 27, 2017, 9:18 pm

HRC launched a website -- HRC.org/Trump -- chronicling the Trump Administration’s unprecedented attacks against the LGBTQ community. The timeline, which will continue to be updated, spotlights efforts to undermine the LGBTQ community from rescinding guidelines protecting transgender students, to appointing Jeff Sessions to the nation’s highest law enforcement post, to threatening a “license to discriminate” Executive Order and erasing LGBTQ people in federal data gathering -- as well as how the community is fighting back.

“Since the moment he walked into the Oval Office, Donald Trump has attacked our progress and undermined the rights of countless Americans,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “After promising to be a president for all Americans, Trump has stacked his cabinet with anti-LGBTQ officials, rescinded protections for transgender students, pushed a Muslim ban and draconian deportation orders, and is reportedly considering a license to discriminate order. But instead of dividing us, Donald Trump has united us. Never before have Americans been more eager to participate, to advocate and to fight back. And today, HRC and our grassroots army are harnessing the full power of our democracy to protect our progress and resist Donald Trump’s attacks.”

In the run up to the 100 day mark, HRC is also launching a social campaign spotlighting 100 Messages of Hope that highlight how people have come together -- and to encourage people to post their own messages.

Since Inauguration Day, HRC members and supporters have logged hundreds of thousands of calls, emails and meetings with members of Congress to rally for the Affordable Care Act, to fight Trump’s nomination of anti-LGBTQ Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and other appointees, to lobby for the Equality Act and more. HRC has also mobilized tens of thousands of supporters for protests outside the White House to #ProtectTransKids and join grassroots rallies across the nation -- including the Women’s March and Save Our Care events.

Some of Trump’s most disgraceful actions targeting the LGBTQ community include:

  • Rolling back Title IX guidance detailing critical school protections for transgender students;
  • Appointing and nominating anti-LGBTQ extremists to all levels of government; including Jeff Sessions, Tom Price, Ben Carson, Mark Green, Roger Severino, and many others;
  • Nominating anti-LGBTQ judge, Neil Gorsuch, to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States;
  • Erasing LGBTQ data collection from federal surveys;
  • Scrubbing all mentions of LGBTQ issues from the White House website only hours into his administration;
  • Signing an executive order stating policy to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- landmark legislation that provides access to healthcare for millions of LGBTQ people;
  • Leaking a draft of his plan to grant a taxpayer-funded license to discriminate against the LGBTQ community;
  • Signing a cruel executive order blocking all Syrian refugees and prohibiting nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S

Author: Aaron Rodriguez
Posted: April 27, 2017, 6:02 pm

HRC condemned a vote by the Tennessee Senate passing HB 1111 -- a measure that could undermine certain protections under state law for women and LGBTQ people in a shameful effort to challenge the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision on marriage equality. The bill now heads to Governor Bill Haslam’s desk.

The measure would require that courts and agencies apply a so-called “natural” meaning interpretation of gendered statutory language, including those involving the rights of husbands and wives. This unconstitutional proposal would be in direct conflict with state and federal law that requires gender-specific words be interpreted as gender-inclusive.

“In a shameful haste to undermine marriage equality, the Tennessee State Legislature is opening a Pandora's box of harmful consequences that could impact more than just the LGBTQ community,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “This measure would no doubt result in multiple, expensive legal challenges, forcing the state to divert crucial resources that need to be focused on other truly important issues. Governor Bill Haslam must protect the state from the fallout and veto this bill.”

The measure could have both intended and unintended consequences. For example, a woman may not be able to place her wife’s name on the birth certificate of their child. In court proceedings, a married opposite-sex couple could be entitled to confidential communications, but not a married same-sex couple. The measure could even prohibit surrogacy for same-sex couples.

It could have consequences beyond the LGBTQ community as well. It would impact state constitutional protections for women by prohibiting state courts from reading the term “man” to also include “woman.” The Tennessee law requiring no “man’s” services or property be taken without consent or compensation, for example, could suddenly be interpreted to exclude women from these same protections.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery issued an opinion stating the proposed bill could create conflict with current state laws.

HRC has been working in partnership with the Tennessee Equality Project, ACLU of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition in working to stop this legislation from becoming law.


Author: Stephen Peters
Posted: April 27, 2017, 5:12 pm

Recently, a group of residents in the Mississippi Delta town of Greenwood hosted a house party for HRC.  While the event provided an opportunity for fellowship, it was also intended for residents and city leaders to hear about HRC’s work in Mississippi and discuss ways that Greenwood might lead the way by adding protections for LGBTQ citizens.

Since June of 2016, two Mississippi cities, Jackson and Magnolia, have passed ordinances that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.  These ordinances passed with unanimous and bipartisan support in their respective city legislatures​ because city​ leaders understood that diversity and inclusion are essential for economic progress and that it was the right thing to do to make all citizens feel safe and welcome.

Each year, HRC examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people through the Municipal Equality Index (MEI). Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership's public position on equality. Nine cities were rated in Mississippi last year:​ Bay St. LouisBiloxiGulfportHattiesburgJacksonOcean SpringsOxfordSouthaven and Starkville.

The gathering in Greenwood provided a clear example of the eagerness that exists among a large number of its citizens to send the message loud and clear that their city is not only open for business, but is open to everyone. We look forward to working closely with leaders in Greenwood in this important endeavor


Author: Rob Hill
Posted: April 27, 2017, 5:00 pm

CONGRESS TO REINTRODUCE EQUALITY ACT ON TUESDAY: Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) plan to reintroduce the Equality Act on Tuesday morning, The Washington Blade reports. The Equality Act provides basic protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, access to public spaces, housing, education, jury service, credit and federal funding. “LGBTQ people face unfair and unjust discrimination just because of who they are, with few explicit legal protections in place,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “As lawmakers in states around the country target LGBTQ people for discrimination, it is even more critical that Congress pass a clear federal law to ensure LGBTQ people are fully protected by our nation’s civil rights laws.” More from The Washington Blade.

23 NATIONS SIGN STATEMENT CALLING ON RUSSIA TO INVESTIGATE HORRORS IN CHECHNYA: Twenty-three nations, including the United States, signed a statement calling on Russian authorities to investigate recent reports by a Russian newspaper and LGBTQ advocates in the country that Chechen police have been detaining, torturing and killing gay men. The signing nations are: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay. HRC President Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex  Tillerson, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and members of the White House National Security Council encouraging them, “to make clear to your Russian counterparts that such lawless detentions, arrests, torture and murders are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” HRC is working closely with the Russian LGBT Network, which asserts that as many as 20 men may have been killed in the attacks in the Russian republic. Read the statement here.

THANKFUL THURSDAY: Paris Police Officer Xavier Jugelé, 37, was killed last week by a gunman who opened fire on police officers on the Champs-Élysées. This week, his husband, Etienne Cardiles, delivered a powerful, poetic eulogy, describing Xavier’s love of music and film, his efforts to perfect his English and his “life of joy and laughter, in which love and tolerance were your uncontested masters.” He closed his remarks saying, “You lived like a star, you leave like a star.” Watch on Channel 4 News.

To live "a life full of joy & laughter," devoid of hate... how we all wish to be remembered. Thank you Xavier Jugelé for your service. https://t.co/hDXBx83k0j

— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) April 26, 2017

ALL EYES ON TENNESSEE AS LEGISLATORS CONSIDER BILL TO ERASE LGBTQ PEOPLE FROM THE LAW: Seventeen anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced this session, and the Tennessee legislature will hold hearings on two this week that attempt to undermine the impact of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.  The measures would require that courts and federal agencies apply a plain meaning interpretation of gendered statutory language, including those involving the rights of husbands and wives. This would exclude many same-sex spouses from protection, because courts could not interpret “husband” or “wife” to mean “spouse” under the law. More on these discriminatory efforts at HRC.

ANTI-LGBTQ ADOPTION BILL HEADS TO ALABAMA GOVERNOR’S DESK:  A bill that would enshrine discrimination into Alabama law by allowing some state-licensed adoption and agencies to reject qualified prospective LGBTQ adoptive parents based on the agency’s religious beliefs is headed to the desk of Governor Kay Ivey. HRC is calling on the governor to veto this discriminatory measure. More from ThinkProgress and Romper.

Live in #Alabama? We need your help TODAY! Call @GovernorKayIvey today and tell her NOT to sign anti-#LGBTQ #HB24 → 866-532-1193 pic.twitter.com/veJyvpvLsj

— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) April 26, 2017

HEY - IT’S #NOMOORE TIME AGAIN: Disgraced former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is running for the U.S. Senate, after resigning from the state’s Supreme Court. In September, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore from the bench for the remainder of his term, due to his unethical and extralegal actions surrounding marriage equality. Eva Kendrick, state director of HRC Alabama, told the Associated Press that Moore is seeking "to capitalize on the name recognition he gained for harming LGBTQ people in our state." Said Kendrick: "Roy Moore was removed — twice — from the Alabama Supreme Court for unethical behavior; rarely does an elected official become more ethical when they are elevated to a higher office.” HRC Alabama initiated the #NoMoore campaign to remove Moore from the bench for his blatant legal and ethical failings. #NoMoore from AL.com.

TRANS CANDIDATES FOR MPLS CITY COUNCIL SEEK PARTY ENDORSEMENTS: Phillipe Cunningham and Andrea Jenkins are vying for a Minneapolis City Council, and are seeking endorsements from the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Cunningham, a trans man, was in a neck-in-neck battle with the incumbent of Ward 4 before the local Democratic convention adjourned without an official endorsement. Jenkins, a trans woman, will seek the endorsement for Ward 8 on April 29. More from The Minneapolis Post.

HRC EXPANDS TEXAS FIELD ORGANIZING TEAM: HRC Texas is bringing on two new organizers to fight back against anti-LGBTQ legislation, expanding the state team to five. HRC is monitoring a slew of anti-LGBTQ legistation in Texas, including HB 3859, a bill that would allow sweeping discrimination by foster care and adoption agencies against potential parents based on the agencies’ religious beliefs, and HB 2899, an anti-transgender bill that would remove protections ensuring that transgender people can access restroom facilities consistent with their gender identity. More from HRC.

  • HRC is also concerned with lawmakers’ apparent strategy to add discriminatory amendments to otherwise benign legislation. A Texas ride-sharing bill that included an amendment defining “sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female,” passed last week -- and Lyft and Uber are calling out the discriminatory action. Both companies have affirmed that their nondiscrimination policies, which protect people based on gender identity, will not change. More from The Texas Tribune.

HEARTLESS -- SD SOUP KITCHEN REFUSES TO SERVE TRANSGENDER WOMAN: Isabella Red Cloud was kicked off the premises of a local soup kitchen because she was wearing a dress. The director of the church that houses the soup kitchen told The Argus Leader that they routinely turn away transgender women. South Dakota does not have nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. More from Mic.

30 IRANIAN MEN ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF SAME-SEX SEXUAL ACTIVITY: The men were shot at, beaten and arrested on suspicion that they are LGBTQ. Iran is one of at least 72 countries around the world that criminalize same-sex sexual activity. More from Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees.

READING RAINBOW

Reuters interviews Dessai Scott, a transgender survivor of sex trafficking, and shares the harrowing statistics surrounding the transgender community and sex trafficking; Capitol Hill Times previews the world’s largest transgender film festival; The Boston Globe explores a Provincetown camp for LGBTQ youth; OutSports previews the 11 LGBT Nights at MLB games happening this summer;

Have news? Send us your news and tips at AMEquality@hrc.org. Click here to subscribe to #AM_Equality and follow @HRC for all the latest news. Thanks for reading!


Author: HRC staff
Posted: April 27, 2017, 2:36 pm

Post submitted by Hope Jackson, HRC Regional Field Organizer

These next couple of weeks could be crucial for LGBTQ equality in Tennessee. Seventeen anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced this session, and the Tennessee legislature will hold hearings on two of them this week.

Senate Bill (SB) 1085 and its House companion, House Bill (HB) 1111, known locally as the “LGBTQ Erasure” bills, attempt to undermine the impact of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling by requiring that courts and federal agencies apply a plain meaning interpretation of gendered statutory language, including those involving the rights of husbands and wives.  This would exclude many same-sex spouses from protection, because courts could not interpret “husband” or “wife” to mean “spouse” under the law. This unconstitutional measure would be in direct conflict with state and federal law that requires gender-specific words be interpreted as gender-inclusive.

The measure would have both intended and unintended consequences. For example, a woman may not be able to place her wife’s name on the birth certificate of their child. In court proceedings, a married opposite-sex couple could be entitled to confidential communications, but not a married same-sex couple. The measure could even prohibit surrogacy for same-sex couples.

It could also have consequences beyond the LGBTQ community. For example, it would impact state constitutional protections for women by prohibiting state courts from reading the term “man” to also include “woman.” The Tennessee law requiring no “man’s” services or property be taken without consent or compensation could suddenly be interpreted to exclude the same protections for women.

This past week, the Senate Judiciary passed SB 1085, advancing the bill to the Senate floor for consideration. HB 1111 has already passed in the House and awaits Senate committee assignment. Procedurally, this measure (once on the Senate floor) could be fast tracked with a vote and sent to the governor’s desk where he could either veto, sign, or allow the bill to become law without signature approval.

Constitutional challenges and litigation will be inevitable if this measure becomes law, forcing the State of Tennessee to divert resources to defend against the bill. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery issued an opinion, stating the proposed bill could create conflict with current state laws that would result in courts siding with Tennessee legislature's expressed intent that “gender-specific words are to be construed as gender-inclusive.” If we have learned anything from North Carolina’s disastrous HB2, these unnecessary bills could cost economic distress, damage the state’s reputation and place the burden on Tennessee taxpayers to litigate the costs of discrimination.  

SB 1085/HB 1111 is scheduled for a hearing on the Senate floor on Thursday, April 27 at 8:30 a.m. CT. HRC in partnership with Tennessee Equality Project, ACLU of Tennessee and Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, will continue to monitor and oppose SB 1085/HB 1111 and any other legislation that negatively impacts LGBTQ equality.

If you live in Tennessee, contact your legislators now to oppose SB 1085/HB 1111 and other anti-LGBTQ legislation in your state. For more information about how to get involved in Tennessee, contact HRC’s Regional Field Organizer Hope Jackson at hope.jackson@hrc.org.  


Author: HRC staff
Posted: April 26, 2017, 8:13 pm

Post submitted by Ryan Wilson, HRC Associate Regional Field Director

Louisiana's legislative session began just a few weeks ago and today members of the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice voted to advance HB27, which was introduced by Representative Patrick Connick. This simple bill updates Louisiana's state domestic violence law to remove the phrase “opposite sex” from the references to household and family members. Marriage equality came to Louisiana in 2015 after the Supreme Court of the United States ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Louisiana is only one of a handful of states where the law specifically singles out opposite sex partners in the state’s domestic violence statute, making it harder for prosecutors and victim advocates to address domestic violence situations in same-sex households. As Representative Barbara Norton (D- District 3) stated during in the hearing to the bill’s sponsor, “If that is the logistics of your bill, that everyone is protected in spite of who they are or what they represent, then you certainly have my support”.

At the hearing today, a number of agencies that support victims of domestic violence submitted cards in support of the bill.

“All couples should be treated fairly and equitably under the law, regardless of who they love. Today was another step forward to bringing full lived equality to Louisianans,” Sarah Jane Guidry, Executive Director of Forum for Equality, who was at the hearing told HRC. “It should be noted that this bill passed out of committee with no opposition, which highlights the important incremental changes we are seeing at the Louisiana legislature when it comes to LGBTQ rights.”   

Also there to support the bill was Don-Paul Landry, who serves on HRC’s Louisiana steering committee based in New Orleans.

“I’m a criminal defense attorney and am generally opposed to minimum sentences and conditions,” Landry explained to HRC. “However, I also handle domestic matters and am painfully aware of the seriousness and prevalence of domestic violence. The protections provided in the Louisiana Domestic Violence Statute are designed to prevent an escalation by mandating counseling and other treatment. Victims in same sex relationships should be afforded the same protections as victims in opposite sex relationships. Passage of this bill will be a tremendous victory for LGBTQ people's equal treatment under the law.”

The bill now heads to the Louisiana House of Representatives for consideration. Louisiana is the only state in the Southern U.S. that did not introduce anti-LGBTQ legislation this year. This pro-equality bill is also one of a handful of pro-LGBTQ bills to move out of committee in the region. HRC will continue to support the work of Forum for Equality and state partners like the ACLU of Louisiana as they work to advance pro-LGBTQ legislation in their state.

Forum for Equality is Louisiana’s LGBT human rights organization dedicated to the establishment of a society free from discrimination and to the support of good government. We believe that the fastest and most efficient way to achieve our goals is through community organization, education, and constructive participation in the political process. Since 1989, Forum has been active in Louisiana by helping to pass civil rights advancements for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

For more information about how to get involved in HRC Louisiana efforts, contact HRC’s Associate Regional Field Director for the Southern US, Ryan Wilson at ryan.wilson@hrc.org.  


Author: Ryan Wilson
Posted: April 26, 2017, 4:07 pm

Post submitted by Lindsey Clark, HRC Senior Regional Field Organizer

To help fight a wave of hate and misinformation at the state and federal level, HRC spent last week on the ground in Maine for the Congressional recess. I spent the week attending marches, town halls and meetings with our coalition partners on a host of issues that intimately affect the LGBTQ community.

I witnessed a remarkable grassroots resistance spanning the state that is working to combat the messages of hate and misinformation that have plagued the current administration at both the state and federal level.

In Augusta, Mainers from across the state came together to rally in the hours leading up to a committee hearing on several bills taking aim at the immigrant community in the state. In Portland, about a thousand people came together to march in support of scientific research in policy making.

At town halls and forums across the state, Mainers were forced to ask their questions of empty chairs as several key congressmen refused to attend a single public forum during their in-state recess. At a town hall in Thomaston hosted by Midcoast Maine Indivisible, one-by-one the 165 attendees stepped up to the microphone to speak to a range of issues facing Maine including environmental conservation, health care, transgender equality, and immigration. In Bangor, a forum on health care hosted by the Together for Medicaid coalition was again marked by a conspicuously empty lawmaker's chair as attendees lamented what they saw as high stakes gambling on health care with seniors in Maine caught in the crossfire.

In response to one such absent lawmaker, the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund hosted a social media campaign with #wheresbruce and folks from around the state chimed in with all the places statewide that Representative Bruce Poloquin was nowhere to be seen. In Oakland, Suit Up Maine also hosted a march to highlight Poloquin's absence.

The makeup of Maine's population and landscape have left the state uniquely at the mercy of a wave of conservative policies at all levels. Everywhere I went the response seemed to be the same: "We're all in this together, with or without our lawmakers."  

Live in Maine and want to get more involved in our fight against hate and misinformation? Contact HRC Senior Regional Field Organizer Lindsey Clark for more info.


Author: HRC staff
Posted: April 26, 2017, 3:00 pm

HRC calls on the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church (UMC) to support the appointment of openly lesbian Rev. Karen Oliveto as Bishop, the highest office for an ordained elder. Oliveto’s appointment was challenged earlier this year by the South Central Jurisdiction of the Church.

At the May 2016 General Conference, the gathering of UMC’s top policy-making body, the Council of Bishops established the Commission on a Way Forward. The purpose of the Commission is to develop a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph regarding human sexuality in the Book of Discipline, the formal collection of United Methodist doctrine, beliefs and policies that outline the roles and responsibilities of local churches. The Council of Bishops charged the Commission with addressing LGBTQ issues and exploring options to maintain and strengthen the Church as a whole. According to its mission, the Commission’s work is intended to “inform deliberation across the whole church and to help the Council of Bishops in their service to the next General Conference,” which will take place during a special session in early 2018.

In the interim, the South Central Jurisdiction of the Church asked the church’s high court to review Oliveto’s elevation.  It alleges Oliveto’s election violates the Book of Discipline. This review is one of seven similar cases scheduled to go before the church court from April 25-28, in direct conflict with church’s previous position that such LGBTQ-related deliberations would be held in abeyance until the 2018 special session.

In a statement issued by President Bishop Ough at its last General Conference, the United Methodist Church celebrated unity as a gift from God: “We share with you a deep commitment to the unity of the church in Christ our Lord.” For the Judicial Council to consider this complaint and for it to move forward reneges on the promise of unity.

“I know there are many who are lamenting my election. Our task is to love deeply, which means standing before those who are angry, anxious, or fearful and be a witness to all they are feeling, and to remain in relationship through the power of Christ’s love,” Oliveto wrote in an open letter addressing the concerns of the South Central Jurisdiction. “The best of our United Methodist tradition is when we can hold the tension of our differences for the sake of our mission: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. God has called us for such a time as this. Can we do it? ‘Lord, we are able!’”

On Easter, more than 170 LGBTQ clergy members also issued an open letter to the Church “in support of every clergy person threatened by unjust actions, and our sibling, Bishop Karen Oliveto, as her standing is being challenged before the Judicial Council.”

LGBTQ religious leaders deserve the recognition of their peers, and the opportunity to lead the faithful in the same way non-LGBTQ leaders do. The Western Jurisdiction of the Church saw fit to recognize, elevate and celebrate Bishop Oliveto. The UMC would be best served by honoring their congregants’ decision.

People look to their faith as a source of guidance and inspiration -- and LGBTQ people are no different. HRC Foundation’s Religion and Faith Program is working to create a world where nobody is forced to choose between who they are, whom they love and what they believe. Learn more at www.hrc.org/explore/topic/religion-faith.


Author: Lisbeth Melendez Rivera
Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:43 pm

Posts – LDS Family Fellowship

Family is Everytning

Fighting The LGBT Community’s Invisibility | In many ways, the history of the LGBT community is a history of battling invisibility. Since the dawn of time, society has tried to make us invisible. We gained strength as a community only by shedding that invisibility, coming out, and proudly saying who we are. Source: Fighting The […]
Author: LDS Family Fellowship
Posted: July 8, 2016, 3:10 am
Mama Dragons Try To Prevent Suicides Among Mormon-LGBT Children Source: Mama Dragons Try To Prevent Suicides Among Mormon-LGBT Children : NPR
Author: LDS Family Fellowship
Posted: July 8, 2016, 2:45 am
Is Utah’s youth suicide rate linked to Utah’s culture surrounding LGBT? BY HEIDI HATCH WEDNESDAY, JULY 6TH 2016   Is Utah’s youth suicide rate linked to Utah’s religious culture surrounding LGBT? VIEW PHOTO GALLERY 8 photos 201 shares tweet now! (KUTV) The number one killer of Utah’s kids is suicide according to new numbers from […]
Author: LDS Family Fellowship
Posted: July 7, 2016, 2:32 am
 Is The Recent Rise In Utah Youth Suicides Really Such A Mystery? 07/05/2016 02:08 pm ET | Updated 1 day ago 390 Benjamin Knoll John Marshall Harlan Associate Professor of Politics, Centre College The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported that “Utah health officials are grappling with a rising youth suicide rate that’s nearly tripled since […]
Author: LDS Family Fellowship
Posted: July 7, 2016, 2:28 am
LGBT Pride Month Highlights Deepening Divide Between Mormon Leadership and Members Mitch Mayne | Posted 06.11.2016 | Queer Voices Read More: LGBT Mormons, LGBT Mormon Children, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Mormons, Gay Mormons, Mitch Mayne Gay Mormon, LGBT Pride Month, LGBT Pride, Lgbt Pride Parade, Mexico Marriage Equality, Proposition 8, Queer […]
Author: LDS Family Fellowship
Posted: June 22, 2016, 4:42 am
Diversity: Pride in science The sciences can be a sanctuary for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, but biases may still discourage many from coming out. Source: Diversity: Pride in science : Nature News & Comment
Author: LDS Family Fellowship
Posted: June 22, 2016, 4:14 am
Silence Is Killing Your LGBT Relatives 06/21/2016 06:32 pm ET | Updated 4 hours ago Mark O’Connell, L.C.S.W. Psychotherapist in private practice, author of Modern Brides & Modern Grooms LGBT Pride Month 2016 will always be remembered for the worst mass shooting in American history to date, one which took 49 lives at an Orlando, […]
Author: LDS Family Fellowship
Posted: June 22, 2016, 4:03 am
The Orlando Massacre: A Reminder of the Dangers LGBT People Live With Every Day There have been scores of attacks on LGBT spaces, some of which received more attention than others. 06/12/2016 10:46 am ET | Updated 5 minutes ago Michelangelo Signorile, Editor-at-Large, HuffPost Queer Voices Queer Voices Editor-at-Large, The Huffington Post STEVE NESIUS / […]
Author: LDS Family Fellowship
Posted: June 12, 2016, 8:17 pm
Deadliest Mass Shooting In U.S. History Leaves More Than 50 Dead At Gay Orlando Nightclub “We are investigating this from all points of perspective as an act of terrorism.” 06/12/2016 09:28 am ET | Updated 5 minutes ago Nina Golgowski Trends reporter, The Huffington Post Sebastian Murdock Reporter, The Huffington Post Andy Campbell Reporter, The […]
Author: LDS Family Fellowship
Posted: June 12, 2016, 8:00 pm
Read the article here.
Author: LDS Family Fellowship
Posted: July 26, 2015, 11:16 pm