Pence dodges on anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ executive order

By : Chris Johnson of the Washingston Blade, Courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday began an exchange on ABC’s “This Week” with an effort to affirm support for LGBT people, but subsequently dodged on whether he thinks a religious freedom executive order is needed that could undermine LGBT rights.

Pence said the Trump administration would reject discrimination under questioning from George Stephanopoulos about a White House statement affirming the president would leave intact an Obama-era executive order barring federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT workplace bias.

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Duke, NC State might host women’s tourney despite LGBTQ law

By : Wire Report
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NEW YORK (AP) – Duke and North Carolina State were among the top 16 projected seeds the NCAA revealed Feb. 6 for the women’s basketball tournament in March, making them potential hosts in a state that’s lost several sports events because of a divisive law.

The NCAA pulled seven championships from North Carolina in September, including the first two rounds of the 2017 men’s basketball tournament, because of the law that limits protections for LGBTQ people.

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Supreme Court to hear trans student case March 28

By : Chris Johnson of the Washingston Blade, Courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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The U.S. Supreme Court will hear on March 28 the case of a transgender student who’s suing his Virginia school to obtain access to the restroom consistent with his gender identity.

The court, which agreed to take up the case of G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board late last year, announced it would hold arguments in the case on that date as part of its monthly calendar announcement.

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DeVos confirmed despite concerns over anti-LGBT donations

By : CHRIS JOHNSON OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL GAY MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Despite efforts from Senate Democrats and LGBT advocates to block the confirmation of Betsy Devos as education secretary, the U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed on Tuesday President Trump’s pick to the head the Department of Education with no margin for dissent.

After the Senate was evenly divided 50-50 over the confirmation of the nominee, Vice President Mike Pence had to cast the deciding vote to confirm DeVos. Observers say that marks the first time in history a vice president has had to cast tie-breaking vote to confirm a nominee to the president’s Cabinet.

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LGBT Equality Caucus doubles its membership

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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The congressional caucus dedicated to LGBT issues has nearly doubled its membership, rebounding after experiencing attrition in recent years as a result of shifting to dues-based membership.

The LGBT Equality Caucus announced on Tuesday it has started the 115th Congress with 102 members, which is nearly double the roster of 53 members at the start of the last Congress.

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South Carolina’s 1st openly gay lawmaker from deep-red district

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s first openly gay legislator hails from the unlikeliest of places: an ultra-conservative part of the state that is home to the Christian fundamentalist school Bob Jones University.

Republican Rep. Jason Elliott, a 46-year-old divorce attorney, said his sexual orientation was not an issue in his campaign and is irrelevant to his job at the Statehouse, as his focus will be on improving education, increasing jobs and repairing the state’s crumbling roads and bridges. He expects his votes to align with his GOP colleagues.

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Wyoming Senate votes down bill banning LGBTQ discrimination

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) – The Wyoming Senate has voted down a bill that would have banned discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Senate’s Committee of the Whole voted 17-13 against the bill, indefinitely postponing it. The bill would have allowed exceptions for religious organizations.

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Anti-Trump Republican eyes party switch in deep-blue Hawaii

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HONOLULU (AP)- A Republican lawmaker in deep-blue Hawaii is considering switching parties to become a Democrat after she was pressured to give up her leadership role for criticizing President Donald Trump.

Rep. Beth Fukumoto said Republican Party members asked her to resign as Minority Floor Leader after she spoke at the Women’s March in Hawaii.

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Lawmakers pushing for expanded medical marijuana

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ATLANTA (AP)- Georgia lawmakers, citizens, and advocates are continuing to push for expanded access to medical marijuana.

The Medical Cannabis Working Group met at the state capitol Wednesday to discuss the bill and hear public testimony.

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Religious right looking to Trump for protections

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WASHINGTON (AP)- Religious conservatives whose overwhelming support propelled Donald Trump to the White House are watching closely for him to deliver on promised protections for religious objectors to gay marriage and abortion.

On Thursday, Trump speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast, a high-profile event bringing together faith leaders, politicians and dignitaries. He has not indicated how he’ll act on the provisions sought by religious conservatives, which critics say could sanction discrimination against gays.

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Texas ‘bathroom bill’ may pose big test for sports leagues

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Texas knows how to throw a party, and for the Super Bowl in Houston, a new 29-story luxury hotel with a rooftop pool shaped like a meandering “lazy river” is the kind of glitzy welcome mat that keeps big events coming back. But that status may soon be put to the test.

Undaunted by the NCAA and NBA punishing North Carolina over bathroom laws that target transgender persons, powerful Texas Republican lawmakers are pushing to pass similar measures by June, and in doing so are daring leagues to boycott some of the biggest cities and stadiums in the U.S.

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Clive Davis documentary to open Tribeca Film Festival

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NEW YORK (AP) – The 16th Tribeca Film Festival will kick off with a night honoring legendary music producer Clive Davis.

The New York festival announced Feb. 2 that its opening film will be the documentary Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives. The April 19 premiere at Radio City Music Hall will be followed by a concert featuring some of the artists he signed: Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson and Earth, Wind & Fire.

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