MassEquality News (June 23, 2016)

We Stand With Orlando

 

Rainbow flag on Boston City HallPeople at Boston's vigil for Orlando holding pride flags and signs​ It’s been almost two weeks since the terrible events in Orlando, and many of us are still trying to comprehend the enormity of this tragedy. We here at MassEquality honor the memory of all those killed on June 12th, and we stand in support of the survivors and the families and loved ones of the victims. To this end, we have joined over 120 LGBTQ Latinx groups and allies and signed on to the Arcus Foundation’s statement on the Orlando shooting calling for an end to violence against marginalized communities.

You can help support the victims of the Orlando mass shooting and their families by contributing to the GoFundMe campaign set up by our friends at Equality Florida.

May the memory of those proud, strong ​LGBTQ ​people​ of color, massacred while celebrating on a summer Saturday night in Orlando, spur us to ​be even prouder of ourselves and our communities; to share love and compassion,​ and work even harder for equality and justice for all. Let us use our sadness, anger and heartache to support loved ones and survivors in LGBTQ communities of color in Orlando and across the country, to ensure that this event does not get whitewashed or de-gayed in the public narrative, and to fight to pass laws that end discrimination, inequality and injustice throughout the nation. [Photo Credit: Deborah Shields]

 

Equality Act logoWe Need the Federal Equality Act

Despite widespread belief to the contrary, no federal law explicitly protects LGBTQ people from discrimination. We need Congress and the President to act now to pass the Equality Act, which was introduced in Congress last year. Not only would the Act protect LGBTQ people in the areas of employment, housing, education, public accommodations, credit, federal funding, and jury service, it would also expand protections for women and people of color by updating the federal definition of “public accommodations” and adding protection against discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sex.

We cannot wait any longer for the 28 states that still do not have basic civil rights laws protecting LGBTQ people on their books to take action. In Florida and across the country, anti-LGBTQ attacks are on the rise, and state legislators have filed over 200 anti-LGBTQ bills this year alone. The survivors of the Orlando massacre, like millions of other LGBTQ people across the country, can still be fired from their jobs, thrown out of their apartments, denied services at a hospital and thrown off of public transportation just for being who they are. In the face of this backlash against our community, we need Congress to pass the Equality Act.

Please contact the MA Congressional delegation to thank them for their support of the federal Equality Act, and tell them to urge their colleagues to move this vital bill out of committee and pass it now! Don’t know who your Congresspeople are? Visit http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ and enter your street address to find them and their contact information.

 

Act Now to Support Gun Reform Legislation

Gun reform has always been an LGBTQ issue, especially in communities of color. Our communities know the result of weak gun laws and gun violence all too well. Yes, we need to restore the federal ban on assault weapons and increase background checks for gun purchases, but we also need truly effective gun laws that go beyond closing a few loopholes and keep guns and gun violence out of our communities. ​Far too often, LGBTQ people, people of color and our friends and allies are the targets of hatred and gun violence.​

Please join us in thanking the MA Congressional delegation for taking part in the sit-in in the House Chamber in Washington, DC to protest the House Republicans’ refusal to vote on gun control legislation. Every member of the MA delegation either actively took part in the sit-in or supported it. Visit http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ and enter your street address to find your Congresspeople and get their contact information, and then email them or call their offices to let them know you support their actions on gun reform.

Massachusetts is fortunate to have some of the more stringent gun control laws in the country. We are also one of only 7 states that bans assault weapons. MassEquality thanks Attorney General Maura Healey for her continued advocacy in support of gun reform, and we applaud Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo for calling for an immediate review of all gun laws in Massachusetts in order to strengthen them in light of the Orlando murders. Please contact Attorney General Maura Healey and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo to let them know you appreciate their efforts to keep our community safe from gun violence.

 

Transgender Pride flagConference Committee on Transgender Anti-Discrimination Bill Announced

MassEquality applauds the Senate and House leadership for moving quickly to name the members of the Conference Committee charged with working out the final language of the transgender anti-discrimination bill. On the Senate side, the committee members are Sen. Sonia Chang Diaz, the bill’s sponsor; Sen. Will Brownsberger, Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee; and Sen. Bruce Tarr, Minority Leader, representing Republicans. On the House side, conferees are Rep. John Fernandes, House Chair of the Judiciary Committee; Rep.​ Sarah Peake, Division Chair; and Rep. Sheila Harrington, representing House Republicans. MassEquality is working closely with committee members to ensure the best language possible is included in the bill.

We recognize and thank Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo for their extraordinary leadership in moving this bill forward and getting it to pass in both chambers of the legislature. We also thank the bill’s lead sponsors, Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Reps. Denise Provost and Byron Rushing. They worked extraordinarily hard to garner the votes necessary to pass the bill.

 

Update on MassEquality's Priority Bills and Budget Items

Though the clock in running out on this legislative session, which ends on July 31st, we are still working hard to pass other priority legislation.

Please join us in asking Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, and the Chairs of the Joint Ways & Means Committee, Sen. Karen Spilka and Rep. Brian Dempsey, to act now to pass the following bills:

  • SB 618/HB 927 - An Act Relative to HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Treament
    People with HIV/AIDS cannot wait any longer to gain access to life-saving treatments for lipodystrophy. Insurance companies need to cover the costs of this debilitating and disabling medical condition now.
  • SB265/HB448 - An Act Relative to Healthy Youth
    Young people need access to medically accurate, scientifically sound health and sex education that goes beyond abstinence only.

We’re also watching the following state budget line items:

  • LGBTQ Youth at Risk Funding - Line item 4590-1507
    The Senate version leaves out funding for LGBTQ Youth at Risk programs, while the House version, which MassEquality supports, preserves funding for those programs.
  • HIV/AIDS Funding - Line item 4512-0103
    MassEquality supports the Senate budget amount of $33,370,000, which is $435,402 more than the House amount, in order to better serve the needs of people with HIV/AIDS in this state.

Please contact Speaker DeLeo, Senate President Rosenberg, Sen. Karen Spilka and Rep. Brian Dempsey, and ask them to support these priority bills.

 

MassEquality PAC Announces First Round of Endorsements for 2016MassEquality PAC logo
On Thursday, June 16th, the MassEquality PAC announced its first round of endorsements for the 2016 legislative races.

The PAC has endorsed two first-time candidates: Nora Harrington (Senate - Norfolk, Bristol & Plymouth) and Natalie Higgins (House - 4th Worcester). In addition, 11 Senate incumbents and 15 House incumbents have been endorsed in their re-election campaigns.

Announcements of additional endorsements will be made in the coming weeks. For the full list of our endorsees and other information regarding the upcoming election season, please visit the MassEquality PAC web site at www.massequalitypac.org and follow the PAC on Twitter: @massequalitypac.

 

Deborah Shields and members of the international LGBTQ delegationMassEquality Hosts International LGBTQ Delegation
On Wednesday, June 22nd, MassEquality welcomed visiting LGBTQ activists from eight different countries. The activists were on a tour of the US to meet people from LGBTQ advocacy groups, share information about the state of LGBTQ rights in their countries, and learn how U.S. organizations are addressing the challenges facing the LGBTQ community locally and nationally. They are a truly inspiring, brave group of activists working and succeeding in very difficult circumstances.

Later that evening, MassEquality co-sponsored a meet-and-greet Happy Hour event with the delegates at Club Cafè, which was well attended. We thank our international guests for their visit and WorldBoston for bringing the delegation to our city. [Photo Credit: Leo Wollemborg]

 

In the News

June 17, 2016Scarborough (ME) schools adopt new transgender policy; WCSH

June 16, 2016Calls for lifting restrictions on blood donations from gay men; Boston Globe

June 16, 2016Column: The Pulse shooting and the meaning of “home”; Tampa Bay Times

June 16, 2016LGBTQ Hate-Based Murder Rates Rose Even Before Orlando; NonProfit Quarterly

June 14, 2016Mass. LGBT groups pledge their support; Boston Herald

June 11, 2016My Turn: State must update nondiscrimination laws; Concord Monitor

 

Copyright © 2016 by MassEquality.org. All rights reserved. Do not reprint, quote, or reproduce this e-Newsletter in any form without permission.