Equality Matters - Fact Check http://equalitymatters.org This link is for use by RSS-enabled software to retrieve the latest items from Equality Matters en-US Copyright 2015, Media Matters for America Fox Reports <em>Another</em> Fabricated Bathroom Incident To Attack California's Non-Discrimination Laws http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201510070001 Fox News reported a bogus story about a California mom who claims to have been kicked out of an REI sporting goods store for complaining about a man frightening her daughter in the store's women's restroom. Fox's reporting was based on statements made by an anti-LGBT hate group with a history of fabricating similar incidents in order to fearmonger about transgender people using public restrooms.

Fox News Reported California Mom's Claim That She Was Kicked Out Of REI For Bathroom Complaint

Fox Parroted Mom's Allegation Of Being "Booted" From Store. In an October 2 article on FoxNews.com, Fox News reporter Perry Chiaramonte reported a California woman's allegation that she was kicked out of a Santa Rosa REI sporting goods store after complaining that a man had frightened her daughter in the women's restroom:

A California mom who says she was recently kicked out of a sporting goods store after alerting a manager that man had frightened her young daughter in the women's restroom is demanding  answers - and a policy change - from the Washington-based chain.

The woman, who spoke to FoxNews.com but asked not to be identified, said she was shopping with her 12-year-old daughter and the girl's younger friend when her daughter told her what had happened moments earlier at an REI sporting goods store during a shopping trip in late August.

"We started to drive to another store and she said to me, 'Mom, I need to tell you something,'" said the woman. "I asked her what was wrong and she told me 'A man used the bathroom while we were in there and it scared me.'"

When the mother turned the car around and went back to the store to confront the manager of the Santa Rosa store, she said she was stunned to learn that the man, who she said was not dressed in women's clothes and did not appear outwardly to be transgender, had done nothing wrong in the eyes of the employees and other customers. [FoxNews.com, 10/2/15]

Fox Based Its Report On Claims Made By The Pacific Justice Institute. Chiaramonte's reporting relied heavily on statements made by the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a California-based legal group acting on behalf of the woman who complained to REI:

The angry mom contacted The Pacific Justice Institute, a California-based law advocacy group, which has fired off letters to both the Santa Rosa store and company headquarters calling for an apology and a clear policy to protect the safety and privacy of customers using public restrooms. The legal nonprofit cited California's civil rights laws, a building code mandating gender-specific restrooms and the right to privacy set forth in the state constitution.

"It's one thing for a stranger of the opposite sex go into the ladies bathroom and traumatize young girls," Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, told FoxNews.com. "It's another to have the sanction and blessing of the store manager.

"Any reasonable person would feel shocked and emotional violated with a member of the opposite sex coming into their restroom," he added. "This man's intention, whatever they may have been, in no way negates the shock." [FoxNews.com, 10/2/15]

Fox News Linked The Controversy To California Law Prohibiting Discrimination Against Transgender People. Chiaramonte described the incident as part of the ongoing controversy over California's non-discrimination protections for transgender people:

California is grappling with the issue of transgenders and public restrooms, passing a recent, controversial law mandating that public schools allow students to choose the restroom associated with their own gender perception. The city of West Hollywood in 2014 began requiring all businesses to make their single-stall restrooms gender-neutral. Similar laws were passed in Washington, D.C., in 2006 and Philadelphia in 2013, where it was required that new or renovated city-owned buildings must include unisex bathrooms.

The California law has been met with opposition, with a counter bill being proposed for a November 2016 ballot. The Personal Privacy Protection Act aims to mandate that people in government facilities would use a restroom according to their biological sex and not based on which gender they may identify with, The law also aims to protect business owners from potential lawsuits for requiring that employees use bathrooms based on their sex. [FoxNews.com, 10/2/15]

REI's Statement Undermines Allegations Made By Pacific Justice Institute

After Investigation, REI Finds "No Evidence" Of Incident, Confirms Woman Was Not Asked To Leave. In a statement posted on their website, REI said store personnel had found no evidence to support the claim that a man was in the women's restroom. Additionally, the sporting goods retailer denied the woman's allegation that she was asked to leave the store (emphasis added):

Customer safety—especially where children are involved—is paramount in our stores. Whenever we receive a customer concern about safety, we take it seriously. We investigate it thoroughly from all sides, which we are doing in this case. In full transparency, we have not had an opportunity to speak directly with the customer since the incident, but have made that request.

To date, based upon our investigation, which includes reviewing relevant video footage, we have found no evidence to suggest that a man entered the women's restroom on the date in question. As a co-op, we are owned by our members and so we focus huge energy on ensuring that experiences in our stores are overwhelmingly positive.

On the subject that is being discussed in this thread, we want to clarify that when you visit an REI store, you will see that we have bathrooms designated as men's and women's, as required by California state law. Our practice is -- and has always been -- to comply with applicable state law in all of our store locations.

The disagreement between the customer and our staff was not consistent with a usual experience in REI and we have asked to speak with the customer to understand how we could improve our service in the future. As we have said before, however, the customer was not asked to leave the store and she is welcome to come back at any time. [REI Newsroom, accessed 10/7/15

Pacific Justice Institute Is A Hate Group With A History Of Fabricating Bathroom Incidents

The Pacific Justice Institute Has Been Designated An Anti-Gay Hate Group. The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed PJI as an anti-LGBT hate group since 2014 -- a designation reserved for groups that knowingly spread falsehoods about LGBT people and engage in groundless, repeated name-calling. [Truth Wins Out, 2/28/14]

PJI Previously Fabricated A Story About Transgender Bathroom Access. In 2013, the PJI was criticized after being caught fabricating a story about a transgender Colorado student who it said was harassing girls in a school bathroom. Fox Nation reported that bogus story without issuing a retraction. [Media Matters, 12/29/13]

Fox Was Recently Duped By Another Bogus PJI Story About LGBT People. In February 2015, Fox News contributor Todd Starnes fell for another another bogus PJI horror story about anti-gay students being bullied at a California high school. [Media Matters, 2/19/15]

PJI Has Used The REI Story To Advocate For A Rollback Of Non-Discrimination Protections. In a September 28 press release, PJI used the REI incident to advocate for the passage of its Personal Privacy Protection Act:

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, "Retailers and other places of public accommodation face significant liability if they do not take adequate steps to ensure the safety and privacy of their restrooms.  This incident raises serious concerns about the policies and practices of REI, and it appears that political correctness is putting young girls at risk."

Earlier this year, PJI attorneys drafted the Personal Privacy Protection Act, a statewide initiative that is currently gathering signatures.  The PPPA focuses on sensitive facilities like restrooms and seeks to encourage businesses to protect customer privacy. [Pacific Justice Institute, 9/28/15]

  • The Personal Privacy Protection Act Would Restrict Transgender People's Access To Bathrooms That Correspond With Their Gender Identity. [Los Angeles Times, 4/21/15]

Fox Has Repeatedly Promoted Horror Stories About Transgender Bathroom Access

Fox News Has Promoted Harassment Fears About Transgender Access To Restrooms. Fox News has repeatedly invoked fears of sexual assault and misbehavior in restrooms to attack equal access to public accommodations for transgender people. [Equality Matters6/5/132/27/138/14/1310/15/13, 10/30/14]

Independent Experts Have Debunked The Transgender Bathroom Myth. Law enforcement officials, victims' rights advocates, and human rights commission officials in states and localities with transgender non-discrimination protections have debunked the claim that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws, calling it "beyond specious." [Media Matters3/20/14]

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201510070001 Wed, 07 Oct 2015 17:10:44 EDT
STUDY: Fox News Didn't Host A Single Transgender Guest Over Nine Months Of Coverage http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201509150001 Though Fox News regularly features segments and news headlines covering stories related to the transgender community, the network rarely hosts people who openly identify as transgender during its news programming. In nine months of covering transgender issues, Fox News didn't host a single openly transgender guest to speak during nearly thirty transgender-focused segments between September 1, 2014 and June 1, 2015.

Fox News Didn't Host A Single Openly Transgender Guest In Nine Months Of Segments

Fox News Regularly Covers Transgender Issues Without Including Transgender Voices. Between September 1, 2014 and June 1, 2015, Fox News aired 44 news alerts and 27 segments focusing on transgender issues. Of Fox's coverage, only two news alerts included commentary from a person who openly identifies as transgender.

Two News Alerts Included Trans Commentary, But Both Featured The Same Pre-Recorded Nine Second Clip. A nine second clip of Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center, was aired twice on April 4, 2015 in news alerts covering gender-affirming surgery for a transgender inmate in California.

Fox News Didn't Host A Single Transgender Guest Over Nine Months Of Transgender Coverage.  Between September 1, 2014 and June 1, 2015, Fox News aired 27 segments featuring guests discussing issues related to the transgender community. Not a single guest was transgender.


Media Matters used IQMedia and Nexis to search Fox News between September 1, 2014 and June 1, 2015 for the terms "transgender!," "gender identity," "sex change," "cross-dress!," "transsexual!," "gender neutral," "genderless," "male-to-female," "female-to-male," "male to female," "female to male," "Manning," and "Jenner." 

To assess total coverage on Fox News, Media Matters tracked both segments and news alerts that focused on transgender issues. Segments were defined as substantive discussions between at least two speakers about the topic. News alerts were defined as an intentional, network-prompted mention of a transgender news story or individual, but without a substantive discussion between two or more speakers. Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded. Mentions after midnight but before the beginning of the next day's news cycle were excluded. Passing mentions, like remarks about Caitlyn Jenner's transition during segments about her car accident, were not included. Discussions about broad LGBT protections, like the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, that were not primarily focused on protections for transgender people were not included.

To document the guests invited on Fox News, Media Matters tracked all segments focusing on transgender issues that included commentary from at least one guest who wasn't the show's host or anchor. Segments that aired pre-recorded interviews were counted. Network reporters and correspondents providing news updates or packaged reports were not counted as guests. Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded. Mentions after midnight but before the beginning of the next day's news cycle were excluded.

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201509150001 Tue, 15 Sep 2015 10:24:55 EDT
Major News Outlets Fail To Identify The Hate Group Representing Kim Davis http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201509110001 Major news outlets have almost entirely failed to identify Liberty Counsel -- the group defending Rowan County clerk Kim Davis -- as an anti-LGBT "hate group," often only referring to the group as  a "Christian" or "conservative" legal organization.

Liberty Counsel Is At The Center Of The Kim Davis Controversy

Liberty Counsel Is Representing Kim Davis In Litigation Over Her Refusal To Issue Marriage Licenses. In the legal battle over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same and opposite-sex couples, Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis is being represented at no charge by Liberty Counsel.  [Liberty Counsel, 9/4/15]

Liberty Counsel Has Been Designated A Hate Group By The Southern Poverty Law Center. Liberty Counsel is on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of active anti-LGBT hate groups due to its anti-LGBT extremism:

Founded in 1989 and based in Orlando, Fla., the Liberty Counsel is well known for its strident anti-LGBT rhetoric. Mat Staver, the group's president, co-founder and former dean at the Liberty University School of Law, has claimed that with full marriage equality, everyone will decide to be gay and society will "cease to exist." (He also has linked homosexuality to rampant increases in disease, falsely linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claimed that homosexuality is the result of childhood sexual abuse.) [Southern Poverty Law Center, 2/09/15]

  • SPLC Designates Certain Anti-Gay Organizations As Hate Groups Based On Their "Propagation Of Known Falsehoods" And "Groundless Name-Calling" About LGBT People. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 9/10/15]

Liberty Counsel Co-Founder Mat Staver Has A Well-Documented History Of Anti-LGBT Extremism. Mat Staver, the group's co-founder and public face, has a well-documented history of anti-LGBT work and rhetoric:

Attorney Mathew Staver and his wife, Anita, founded Liberty Counsel in 1989. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, added the law firm to its roster of anti-LGBT hate groups in 2014, citing the group's belief that same-sex marriage will destroy the "bedrock of society" and its support for gay conversion therapy.

Staver himself went as far as to speak approvingly of tough anti-gay laws in foreign countries like Russia in a 2014 appearance on "Faith and Freedom" radio.


Staver's takes on subjects including Mitt Romney and LGBT history month have also been eyebrow-raising. He blamed the former Massachusetts governor's unwillingness to embrace social issues for the legalization of gay marriage in four states, and called public schools' celebration of LGBT figures in history a "sexual assault on our children."

Most recently, Staver compared Davis' plight to that of Jews in Nazi Germany in an interview on Christian radio network VCY America. [Talking Points Memo, emphasis added, 9/7/15]

Major News Outlets Have Repeatedly Failed To Identify Liberty Counsel As A Designated Hate Group

Associated Press Had Labeled Liberty Counsel A "Christian Firm." The Associated Press has repeatedly referred to Liberty Counsel as a "Christian firm" in its reporting on the Kim Davis controversy:

  • Mat Staver Is "With The Christin Firm Liberty Counsel."  [Associated Press, 9/9/15]
  • Davis's Attorneys Are "With The Christian Law Firm Liberty Counsel." [Associated Press, 9/9/15]
  • Liberty Counsel Is "The Christian Law Firm Representing Davis." [Associated Press, 9/8/15]  
  • Liberty Counsel Is "The Christian Law Firm Representing The Clerk." [Associated Press, 8/13/15]

Wall Street Journal Described Liberty Counsel's Focus To Be On "Religious Freedom Issues." The Wall Street Journal described the Liberty Counsel as "a nonprofit firm that focuses on religious freedom issues." [Wall Street Journal, 9/7/15]

Reuters Repeatedly Characterized Liberty Counsel As "Religious Advocacy Group." Reuters has frequently identified Liberty Counsel as a "religious advocacy organization" in its Kim Davis reporting:

  • Liberty Counsel Is "A Florida-Based Christian Religious Advocacy Organization." [Reuters, 9/3/15]
  • Mat Staver Is "The Founder Of Christian Religious Advocacy Group Liberty Counsel." [Reuters, 9/8/15]
  • Liberty Counsel Is A "Non-Profit Legal Advocacy Group." [Reuters, 9/8/15]
  • Kim Davis Is "Being Legally Represented At No Cost By Liberty Counsel, A Florida-based Christian Religious Advocacy Organization." [Reuters, 9/3/15]
  • Liberty Counsel "Provides Pro Bono Representation Related to Issues Of 'Religious Freedom, The Sanctity Of Life And The Family.'" [Reuters, 8/13/15]

The New York Times Referred To Liberty Counsel As A Conservative Group. Though The New York Times has occasionally noted the group's history of anti-LGBT activism, the paper repeatedly described Liberty Counsel as a conservative legal group in its reporting on Kim Davis:

  • Liberty Counsel Is "A Nonprofit Organization... That Specializes In Religious Exceptions Cases." [The New York Times, 8/14/15]
  • Liberty Counsel Is "A Conservative Group." [The New York Times,9/1/15]
  • Mat Staver Is The "Founder And Chairman Of Liberty Counsel, The Conservative Legal Group Representing Ms. Davis." [The New York Times, 9/4/15]    
  • Liberty Counsel Is "A Legal Nonprofit That Has Been On The Front Lines Of The Same-Sex Marriage Fight For Roughly Two Decades." [The New York Times, 9/2/15]

The Washington Post Repeatedly Identified Liberty Counsel As A "Christian Legal Organization." Though the Washington Post once identified Liberty Counsel as an "anti-LGBT hate group," the paper typically referred to Liberty Counsel as a "Christian" legal group:

  • Liberty Counsel Is "A Christian Legal Aid Group." [The Washington Post, 9/1/15]  
  • Mat Staver Is "The Founder And Chairman Of Liberty Counsel, The Christian Legal Organization Representing Davis. [The Washington Post, 9/4/15]
  • Mat Staver Is "With The Christian Firm Liberty Counsel." [The Washington Post, 9/9/15]
  • Liberty Counsel Has Been Labeled An "Anti-LGBT Hate Group." [The Washington Post, 9/2/15
Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201509110001 Fri, 11 Sep 2015 10:50:25 EDT
STUDY:&nbsp;Houston Media Help Misrepresent Equal Rights Ordinance http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201508130001 Television news stations in Houston have misrepresented the city's Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which will be up for public repeal in November. Media outlets have uncritically parroted myths about the ordinance's protections for transgender people and failed to tell viewers that HERO prohibits discrimination on the basis of a wide range of characteristics, including sex, race, and religion. 

Houston Voters Will Decide On Equal Rights Ordinance This November

Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance Prohibits Discrimination On 15 Characteristics. Enacted in May 2014, HERO prohibits discrimination in areas like employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of 15 characteristics including race, sex, religion, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. [Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, accessed 8/13/15]

Texas Supreme Court Decided HERO Must Be Repealed Or Put To A Vote. After opponents of the ordinance organized a signature-collection campaign to challenge city hall, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in July that HERO must either be repealed or put up for a city-wide vote. The City Council voted to send HERO to the voters, setting up a ballot fight over whether the ordinance will remain on the books. [Dallas Voice8/5/15]

The Majority Of Discrimination Complaints Filed Since HERO's Passage Have Involved Race, Sex, And Age. According to Houston Equality, a group working to defend HERO, the overwhelming majority of cases of discrimination reported to the City of Houston's Office of the Inspector General in the months since HERO was approved by the City Council concerned race, sex, and age:

Since May 28, 2014, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance has NOT been in e­ffect as a result of attempts to repeal the law by opponents.

Cases of discrimination have been reported to the City of Houston's Office of the Inspector General. These reports were made by people who were informed enough to contact the OIG's office, but consider all of the cases that have gone unreported.

Below is a breakdown of the types of discrimination that have been reported to the City between May 28, 2014 and January 15, 2015.

[Houston Equality, accessed 8/13/15]

Opponents Have Peddled Baseless 'Bathroom Horror Stories' To Attack HERO

Opponents Falsely Claim That HERO Allows Sexual Predators To Sneak Into Restrooms. HERO's opponents, including Fox News' Mike Huckabee and Texas Values' Jonathan Saenz, have claimed since the ordinance was introduced that its ban on discrimination against transgender people would allow male sexual predators to dress up as women and sneak into women's restrooms. [Equality Matters, 5/13/14 and 5/30/14]

Independent Experts Have Debunked The Transgender Bathroom Myth. Law enforcement officials, victims' rights advocates, and human rights commission officials in states and localities with transgender non-discrimination protections have debunked the claim that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws, calling it "beyond specious." [Media Matters3/20/14]

Houston Media Misrepresent HERO While Repeating Opponents' Bathroom Myth

Houston Outlets Rarely Mentioned Non-LGBT Protections In HERO. In the two weeks following the Texas Supreme Court's decision, Houston's ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates focused on HERO's protections for the LGBT community - including repeating critics' false talking points about public restrooms - while ignoring its broad protections for other groups:

  • 40% Of All HERO Coverage Included Discussion Of HERO's Impact On Bathrooms Or B-roll Footage Of Restrooms
  • Less Than 10% Of HERO Coverage Noted That HERO Protects Classes Other Than Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity. 

Media Outlets Repeated Opponents' Bathroom Myth In Coverage Of HERO. In their scripts and choice of B-roll footage - scene setting video shown during a news report - in stories about HERO, local TV media outlets repeatedly alluded to unfounded concerns about bathroom safety:


  • Both Fox And CBS Included B-roll Footage Of Restrooms Without Commentary In Over Half Of Their HERO Coverage.

Houston Media Outlets Previously Failed To Debunk Myths About HERO. During coverage of HERO in 2014, Houston media outlets uncritically repeated misinformation about the measure, including the transgender bathroom myth and concerns about religious liberty. [Equality Matters, 6/27/15]

This post has been updated for clarity.


Media Matters used IQMedia to search Houston's NBC affiliate KPRC, CBS affiliate KHOU, ABC affiliate KTRK, and Fox affiliate KRIV, between July 24 and August 7 for the terms "discrimination," "nondiscrimination," "non-discrimination," "anti-discrimination," "antidiscrimination," Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, "HERO," "equal rights," and "ordinance." Coverage was categorized as mentioning the bathroom myth if either commentary on the ordinance's impact on bathrooms and/or B-roll footage of bathroom signs were included. Four KRIV segments covering a separate petition submitted to Houston City Hall by anti-gay activist Dave Wilson seeking to ban transgender people from public restrooms were excluded from analysis. Reruns, teases for upcoming segments, and passing mentions in the course of reports about other topics were also excluded. 

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201508130001 Thu, 13 Aug 2015 15:55:42 EDT
The "First Amendment Defense Act" Is The Next Attack on LGBT Rights http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201507280001 In response to the Supreme Court's historic marriage equality ruling, conservative media has endorsed a newly proposed federal bill called the "First Amendment Defense Act" (FADA). Though conservatives have touted FADA as an effort to protect religious liberty, critics warn the bill would undermine the government's ability to combat anti-gay discrimination.

Conservative Media Rallies Behind "First Amendment Defense Act"

Conservative Republican Lawmakers Introduce "First Amendment Defense Act" In Congress. On June 17, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) introduced the "First Amendment Defense Act" (FADA) in Congress. [Deseret News, 5/18/15]

FADA Bars Federal "Discriminatory Action" Against Those Who Oppose Homosexuality, Same-Sex Marriage. According to the text of FADA:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. [H.R. 2802, introduced 6/17/15]

National Review Online: FADA Would Prevent "Punishing The Exercise Of Religion." Writingin the National Review Online, editor Rich Lowry argued that supporters of same-sex marriage should endorse FADA if they "truly have no interest in punishing the exercise of religion they find objectionable":

If supporters of same-sex marriage truly have no interest in punishing the exercise of religion they find objectionable, they can sign off on legislation to prevent it. Utah senator Mike Lee, a Republican, has a bill called the First Amendment Defense Act — yes, it's come to that — protecting organizations from government retaliation over their opposition to gay marriage. [National Review Online, 6/30/15]

Hot Air: FADA Would "Keep Progressives From Using... The IRS To Destroy Churches." In a post for Hot Air, Ed Morrissey claimed FADA would protect churches from being destroyed by the IRS:

The current FADA would at least keep progressives from using the massively destructive power of the IRS to destroy churches and the benefits they provide to American communities, which is one key reason why the tax exemption exists in the first place. Republican leadership in both the House and Senate should expedite the process for FADA, and perhaps set an example for the states to follow.[Hot Air, 7/13/15]

Daily Signal: FADA Is "Common Sense" Protection For Opponents Of Same-Sex Marriage. Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, endorsed FADA in a post for The Daily Signal, writing:

FADA is a common sense policy. It would ensure that no federal agency will ever revoke non-profit tax-exempt status or deny grants, contracts, accreditation, or licenses to individuals or institutions for following their faiths' teachings about the nature of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.


But the politics of FADA are just as important as the policy. Far too few appreciate the grave risks to religious liberty in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling, and the most animated participants in the debate so far are those on the left. The best way to draw attention to this crucial issue and rally the American people is swift action designed to generate public awareness and maximize the contrast with the left's effort to trample over freedom of conscience. [The Daily Signal, 7/16/15]

RedState Instructs Readers To Call Congressional Reps In Support Of FADA. A "Member Diary" on RedState.com urged readers to call members of Congress in support of the legislation. [RedState.com, 6/26/15]

Anti-LGBT Organizations, Including Hate Groups Endorse FADA

Family Research Council: FADA Is "Vital Legislation." In a press release immediately following FADA's introduction, the Family Research Council (FRC) praised FADA and urged Congress to pass the bill:

The First Amendment Defense Act reflects our nation's history of recognizing, respecting and protecting the moral and religious beliefs of people and faith-based organizations. This common-sense measure would prevent the federal government from penalizing someone because they hold to a view of marriage as between one man and one woman.


We urge Congress to act to pass this vital legislation. [Family Research Council, 6/17/15]

  • FRC Has Been Designated A Hate Group By The Southern Poverty Law Center. [Talking Points Memo, 11/24/10]

The American Family Association Issues Action Alert In Support of FADA. The American Family Association (AFA) issued an "Action Alert" to "one million-plus friends" in support of FADA:

The American Family Association is encouraging Americans to contact their U.S. representatives about this newly proposed legislation that will protect churches and faith-based organizations from government penalties or actions regarding their religious convictions. [American Family Association, 6/20/15]

  • AFA Has Been Designated A Hate Group By The Southern Poverty Law Center. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 7/24/15]

Liberty Counsel Calls for "Quick And Decisive Action" On FADA. The action arm of the Liberty Counsel called on Congress to pass FADA and announced it would hand deliver petitions advocating for FADA to House and Senate leadership:

Liberty Counsel Action is calling for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act as soon as possible.

We are calling for quick and decisive action on the bill!


On Tuesday, Liberty Counsel Action will hand deliver your petition calling for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act to the heads of these two committees, and to the House and Senate leadership. [Liberty Counsel Action, 6/20/15]

  • Liberty Counsel Has Been Has Been Designated A Hate Group By The Southern Poverty Law Center. [LGBTQ Nation, 3/3/14]

National Organization For Marriage "Doing All We Can" To Pass FADA. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announced its support for RFRA, writing:

We are doubling our efforts at NOM, doing all we can to help Senator Lee and Representative Labrador move their vital legislation through the Senate and the House of Representatives. On your behalf, we will always defend the right of all citizens to live out their religious or moral beliefs without fear of discrimination or even prosecution. There's no question that we are standing behind FADA — and we urge you to do so, as well. [National Organization for Marriage, 6/19/15]

FADA Would Codify A Broad Right To Federal Anti-Gay Discrimination 

ACLU: FADA Would "Open A Pandora's Box Of Taxpayer Funded Discrimination." Ian S. Thompson, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union, highlighted FADA's far-reaching consequences:

[P]rominent members of the House of Representatives, as well as leading anti-LGBT organizations, are pushing a bill - disingenuously titled the First Amendment Defense Act - that would open the door to unprecedented taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, and unmarried couples.

Its parade of horribles would:

  • allow federal contractors or grantees, including those that provide important social services like homeless shelters or drug treatment programs, to turn away LGBT people or anyone who has an intimate relationship outside of a marriage
  • let commercial landlords violate longstanding fair housing laws by refusing housing to a single mother based on the religious belief that sexual relations are properly reserved for marriage
  • permit a university to continue to receive federal financial assistance even when it fires an unmarried teacher simply for becoming pregnant
  • permit government employees to discriminate against married same-sex couples and their families - federal employees could refuse to process tax returns, visa applications, or Social Security checks for all married same-sex couples
  • allow businesses to discriminate by refusing to let gay or lesbian employees care for their sick spouse, in violation of family medical leave laws [ACLU, 7/20/15]

FADA Would "Nullify" Current Federal LGBT Protections.  Slate'sMark Joseph Stern described the impact FADA would have on existing federal protections for LGBT people:

What effect would all of this densely packed legalese have in practice? To start, it would instantly revoke every federal gay rights measure ever passed and pre-emptively nullify any future measures. President Obama's LGBT nondiscrimination order would be entirely undermined: Federal contractors would only need assert that gay sex and gay marriage violate their "moral convictions," and they could fire gay employees with impunity. Federal grantees, such as homeless shelters and drug treatment programs, could turn away gay people at the door. Businesses could refuse to let gay employees care for a sick spouse, in contravention of medical leave laws. Even low-level government employees could refuse to process gay couples' tax returns, Social Security checks, or visa applications. [Slate, 7/23/15]

HRC: FADA Is "Tantamount To State Sanctioned Discrimination." The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest national LGBT rights organization, declared that FADA amounts to "state sanctioned discrimination":

This Act would allow organizations and businesses contracting with the federal government to circumvent critical federal protections designed to protect same-sex couples and their families from harmful discrimination.  It would also enable federal employees to refuse to fully perform their duties if they believe they conflict with their objection to same-sex marriage.  For example, an employee at the Department of Veterans Affairs could refuse to process a claim for survivor benefits for the same-sex spouse of a servicemember.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in U.S. v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex married couples are entitled to all federal spousal benefits regardless of where they live. Under this Act, however, individual businesses could run roughshod over the civil rights of these couples and deny them the spousal benefits they have earned and deserve.  Employers could refuse to approve an individual's request for FMLA leave to care for a sick same-sex spouse, or file an employee's spousal benefits as married in an ERISA plan based on their religious objection to same-sex marriage. [Human Rights Campaign, 7/17/15]

FADA Is Built On Debunked Right-Wing Talking Points

Myth: FADA Is "Crucial" To Protect Tax-Exempt Status Of Churches. In a press release announcing its support for FADA, the American Family Association stated that FADA was crucial to protect the tax-exempt status of churches:

The bill, says AFA, is crucial because if it passes, for example, the government could not revoke the tax-exempt status of churches whose leadership refuses to perform same-sex weddings because of religious convictions. [American Family Association, 6/20/15]

Churches Have Long Legally Discriminated Against Women Without Losing Tax-Exempt Status. Tax and legal experts debunked the notion that churches are now in danger of losing their tax exempt status, noting that religious institutions have long legally discriminated against women without losing their tax-exempt status:

[T]he religious right was galvanized in the 1970s by the IRS's revocation of the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University over its policy banning interracial dating. That revocation-upheld by the Supreme Court-was a result of an IRS rule that permits the agency to deny or revoke a non-profit's tax-exempt status if it violates a fundamental public policy (in that case, public policy against race discrimination).

The Bob Jones case is an essential part of the conservative movement's institutional memory of what they consider to be government overreach, particularly by the IRS, and undue government interference with religious affairs and religious freedom. As historian Randall Balmer has documented, Bob Jones University's loss of its tax-exemption mobilized the religious right more than abortion.


Richard Schmalbeck, a tax expert at Duke Law School, said the principle in Bob Jones has "not been applied broadly," noting, for example, that it hasn't been extended to deprive all-women's colleges of their tax-exempt status. Caroline Mala Corbin, a professor at the University of Miami Law School, reiterated what she told me last year: that if the IRS and the courts had not applied the Bob Jones principle to revoke the tax exempt status of organizations that discriminated based on gender, it seemed unlikely that they would extend this principle to sexual orientation discrimination. What's more, she said, federal law bans race discrimination, demonstrating a broad consensus to protect as fundamental public policy. Given that discrimination based on sexual orientation has not been banned by any federal law, we are far from such a consensus on sexual orientation discrimination. And even though federal law bans discrimination based on gender, the Bob Jones principle has never been extended to tax-exempt organizations that discriminate based on gender.

Think about it this way: there are religious denominations that ban women's ordination, and still have tax-exempt status. [Religiondispatches.org, 5/10/15]

Myth: Religious Schools In Danger Of Losing Tax-Exempt Status. In a newspaper op-ed  that explained his reasons for introducing FADA, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said the bill would protect the tax-exempt status of religiously affiliated schools that oppose same-sex marriage:

[U]nder this bill the IRS could not revoke the tax-exempt status from any of the tens of thousands of religiously affiliated schools in America — pre-schools through college — whose religious convictions dictate that they maintain the traditional definition of marriage. [Deseret News, 6/18/15]

Los Angeles Times Editorial Board: "No Sign That The IRS Has Any Plans" To Target Religious Schools. In an op-ed denouncing FADA as "unnecessary," the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board rejected the notion that religiously affiliated schools are in danger of losing their tax-exempt status due to the Obergefell decision:

There is no sign that the IRS has any plans to try to revoke the tax-exempt status of religious schools that oppose same-sex marriage. In fact, as the ACLU notes, since 1983 the agency has made no move to disturb the tax-exempt status of religious schools that have policies against interfaith marriages or remarriage after divorce. A concern about the tax-exempt status of religious schools is no reason to enact the First Amendment Defense Act — and there are many other reasons to oppose the bill. [Los Angeles Times, 7/21/15]

These Myths Are Part of Conservative Media's Long-Standing Religious Liberty Fearmongering Campaign. These talking points are part of a larger "religious liberty" misinformation campaign by conservative media to justify anti-LGBT laws. [Media Matters, 10/10/12, 2/26/14, 9/23/14, 4/2/15, 7/9/15

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201507280001 Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:34:28 EDT
17 School Districts Debunk Right-Wing Lies About Protections For Transgender Students http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201506030001 The collective experience of 17 U.S. school districts has shattered the right-wing myth that says prohibiting discrimination against transgender students causes confusion and inappropriate behavior. Years after implementing their own anti-discrimination policies, none of the schools have experienced any problems. 

Media Outlets Have Promoted Myths About The Effect Of Non-Discrimination Protections For Transgender Students

Several States Have Adopted Non-Discrimination Laws To Protect Transgender Students. States across the country have adopted laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools. [National Center for Transgender Equality, 1/30/15]


[GLSEN, accessed 6/3/15]

U.S. Department of Education Issued Guidelines In 2014 Urging Schools To Protect Transgender Students From Discrimination. On April 29, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education released a guidance document clarifying that the Title IX prohibition against sex discrimination in federally-funded education programs covers discrimination based on gender identity or expression. According to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network:

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education today issued official guidance which makes clear that transgender students are protected from discrimination under Title IX. Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs and activities. Specifically, the guidance states that "Title IX's sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation." [GLSEN, 4/29/15]

Conservative Media Promote Bogus Myths About Policies Protecting Transgender Students. Conservative media outlets have attacked transgender-inclusive non-discrimination policies in schools by claiming they create confusion, violate students' privacy rights, and can be exploited by students who will pretend to be transgender in order to sneak into the restrooms for the opposite sex and behave inappropriately. [Media Matters2/27/138/9/138/14/138/22/1310/15/132/14/146/9/14]

Seventeen School Districts Covering 600,000 Students Experienced No Problems After Implementing Transgender Protections

Media Matters Contacted Officials At The Largest School Districts In 12 States With Gender Identity Protections On The Books. Media Matters contacted school district officials in states with laws prohibiting discrimination in public schools on the basis of gender identity and asked whether they had experienced "any incidences of harassment or inappropriate behavior" as a result of "allowing transgender students to access facilities they're comfortable with." Media Matters specifically raised the oft-heard criticism that protecting transgender students will "result in confusion, harassment, or inappropriate behavior" such as "students pretending to be transgender to sneak into locker rooms or bathrooms."


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2014. On January 1, 2014, California's School Success and Opportunity Act went into effect, prohibiting discrimination against transgender students and requiring public schools to allow trans students to have access to facilities and extracurricular activities that correspond to their gender identity. [Transgender Law Center, accessed 5/29/15]

Six California School Districts Reported No Incidences Of Harassment Or Inappropriate Behavior. One month after California's law went into place, Media Matters contacted officials at the largest school districts in California to determine whether the right-wing horror stories about transgender students had come true. None of the six school districts reported incidents of harassment or inappropriate behavior, and several pledged to continue accommodating transgender students even if the law were to be repealed in a referendum. [Media Matters2/11/14]

School Districts Had Similar Policies In Place For Years, Without Incident. Several California school districts had policies to protect transgender students long before the 2014 law came into effect, and none had any problems. The Los Angeles School District, which educates more than one in 10 of all the students enrolled in California public schools, had protections in place for nearly a decade before the law, and recorded no incidents of inappropriate behavior as a result. [Media Matters2/11/14]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2008. In 2008, Colorado expanded its Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, including schools, to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.  [The Denver Post5/29/08]

Non-Discrimination Policy Includes Public School Restroom Access. In 2009, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission clarified that public schools should allow transgender students to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity. [Colorado Civil Rights Commission, December 2009]

Jefferson County Schools: "Not Aware" Of Any Concerns Over Transgender Bathroom Access. Lisa Pinto, spokesperson for Jefferson County Schools, told Media Matters that she was unaware of any issues surrounding transgender students being allowed to use the bathrooms of their choice:

Our District seeks to foster an educational environment that is safe and free from all discrimination for all students.  We are very aware of, and participating in, the discussion regarding transgender students using the bathroom of their choice.  Additionally, we are currently updating our annual training materials to discuss this matter.  We will continue to be involved in these discussions with both our internal population as well as external subject matter experts and updating our training materials appropriately.

To address your specific question, we are not aware of any a transgender student or any student raising a concern about bathroom use at our schools. [Email exchange, 5/21/15]

Jefferson County Schools Is Colorado's Second Largest School District With 86,547 Students. [Colorado Department of Education, 2014]

Denver Public Schools: No Incidences Of Harassment Or Confusion. Doug Schepman, media relations manager for Denver Public Schools, reported no incidences of confusion, harassment, or inappropriate behavior as a result of the school's non-discrimination policy.

We are not aware of any such incidences in Denver Public Schools. [Email exchange, 5/20/15]

Denver Public Schools Is Colorado's Largest School District With 88,839 Students. [Colorado Department of Education, 2014]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2011. In 2011, Connecticut added gender identity or expression to its anti-discrimination laws, including discrimination in education, with Public Act 11-55, "An Act Concerning Discrimination." [GLAD, 10/12]

Bridgeport Public Schools: No "Inappropriate Incidences." Fran Rabinowitz, superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools, reported that the district had not experienced any incidents as a result of accommodating trans students:

Bridgeport is proud to accommodate all students. We are happy to report that we have not experienced any inappropriate incidents resulting from accommodations for trans-gender students. [Email exchange, 6/2/15]   

Bridgeport Public Schools Is Connecticut's Third Largest School District With 20,126 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2006. In 2006, Illinois amended its Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination in public accommodations, including schools, on the basis of sexual orientation or "gender-related identity." [Jackson Lewis, 2/8/05]

Elgin Area School District: No Instances Of Harassment Or Inappropriate Behavior. Tony Sanders, interim superintendent of School District U-46 (also known as Elgin Area School District), stated that he has never heard of any issues related to trans students accessing the facility that aligned with their gender identity:

In my eight years in School District U-46, I am not aware of instances of harassment or inappropriate behavior related to transgender students accessing facilities of their choice. [Email exchange, 5/21/15]

Elgin Area School District Is Illinois' Second Largest School District With 40,687 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202: "No Issues" As A Result Of Allowing Trans Students To Access Facilities. Tom Hernandez, director of community relations and Freedom of Information Act officer, reported that the district had worked with several trans students, and had no issues with allowing these students to access facilities aligned with their gender identity:

Yes, we have had students for several years who have identified themselves as the opposite gender, and we have taken steps to ensure their comfort in terms of providing access to appropriate facilities. No, we have not had any issues allowing transgender students to access facilities they are comfortable with. [Email exchange, 6/1/15]

Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 Is Illinois' Fourth Largest School District With 28,904 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2007. In 2007, Iowa amended its Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education. [Iowa Civil Rights Commission, 2007]  

Des Moines Public Schools: "No Examples" Of Harassment Or Inappropriate Behavior. Phil Roeder, director of communications and public affairs for Des Moines Public Schools, reported no incidences of students taking advantage of the district's trans-inclusive policies:

When it comes to transgender students and our school district's practice of making sure we serve students according to their individual gender identity, we have had no reported incidents of any student abusing our policies or taking advantage of them in any way that would be inappropriate or harassing. At this time, we have no examples to support such criticism. [Email exchange, 5/20/15]

Des Moines Public Schools Is Iowa's Largest School District With 33,453 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

Sioux City Community School District: No "Harassment Or Bullying." Alison Benson, director of communications for the Sioux City Community School District, stated that there were no reports of harassment or bullying in the district as a result of allowing trans students to access facilities: 

There have not been reports of harassment or bullying due to transgendered [sic] students having access to facilities in the Sioux City Community School District. The District is committed to ensuring every student and staff member is treated with respect and dignity. We work very hard to ensure all of our students learn in a safe atmosphere. [Email exchange, 6/2/15]

Sioux City Community School District Is Iowa's Fourth Largest School District With 14,360 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Education Since 2005. In 2005, Maine passed  "An Act to Extend Civil Rights Protections to All People Regardless of Sexual Orientation," which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in secular education institutions. [GLAD, 2/25/14]

Lewiston Public Schools: "No Cases Of Harassment" Reported As Result Of Policy. Lewiston Public School District Superintendent Bill Webster said that no cases of harassment had reached his office:

We are fully committed in Lewiston Public Schools to comply with Maine law and to meet the needs of our transgendered [sic] students with respect and dignity.  No cases of harassment have reached my office.  That doesn't mean that they don't exist, but, I would like to think, my administrators throughout our schools are working well with students and families on this issue.  I am aware of a couple of situations where a young student has decided to identify with with [sic] the opposite sex, change their name and patterns of dress.  The biggest issue that I am aware is helping parents with this change, particularly where the parents may have different opinion. [Email exchange, 5/21/15]

Lewiston Public Schools Is Maine's Second Largest School District With 5,115 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2012. Massachusetts has prohibited discrimination in public education since 2012, when "An Act Relative to Gender Identity" added gender identity as a protected characteristic to Massachusetts' non-discrimination law. [Massachusetts Department of Education, accessed 5/28/15]

Boston Public Schools: No Bathroom Complaints, Only Education Requests. Boston Public Schools' Chief Equity Officer Tanisha Sullivan stated that there have been no complaints about transgender students' access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity:

While there is state law and a district non-discrimination policy that protects all of our students from and against discrimination and harassment, we are most proud of our work with schools and external partners over the past two years to deepen our capacity to proactively meet the needs of our GLBT students.  To that end, we have not received specific complaints regarding bathroom access; however, over the past year our Equity Office has responded to requests from schools to help educate staff on the state law, our policy, and overall inclusion of transgender students. This led to the establishment of a working group in 2015 to review the impact that some of our district procedures have on transgender students, as well as efforts to increase training specifically related to effective engagement and inclusion of our GLBT community. [Email exchange, 5/19/15]

Boston Public Schools Is Massachusetts' Largest School District With 55,027 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Education Since 1993. Since 1993, the Minnesota Human Rights Act has prohibited discrimination in public schools on the basis of gender identity. [OutFront Minnesota, accessed 5/21/15]   

Minneapolis Public Schools: "No Reports Of Harassment Or Bullying" As A Result Of Trans-Inclusive Policy. Lynn Brun, interim communications director for Minneapolis Public Schools, stated that there have been no reports of harassment or bullying as a result of accommodations made for transgender students:

Minneapolis Public Schools is committed to providing transgender and gender non-conforming students and staff with the tools, resources, and support they need.  Over the past year and half, four schools converted bathrooms to be gender neutral: Wenonah (K-2), Folwell (K-8), Seward (K-8), and South (9-12). The implementation around the gender-neutral restrooms involved teacher and staff training around gender inclusion, along with a mix of student and family engagement such as peer education at South with students speaking to classmates about the need for a different restroom; student assemblies on bullying prevention; articles in the school newspaper; and, in some cases, parent letters went out directly to families. Accommodations for changing rooms and showers for sports and gym classes are made at the site level. School administrators and work with transgender students and their families to ensure appropriate facilities are provided to meet each student's needs.

To date, there have been no reports of harassment or bullying of transgender students or other students due to these changes. [Email exchange, 5/27/15]

Minneapolis Public Schools Is Minnesota's Third Largest School District With 35,046 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

Saint Paul Public Schools: "Not Aware" Of Any Cases Of Students Pretending To Be Trans. Ryan Vernosh, interim director of communications, marketing, and development for St. Paul Public Schools, said that he was unaware of any instances of students pretending to be trans in order to sneak into bathrooms.

From my understanding from the research into developing our own district policy protecting transgender students, we haven't noticed any uptick in harassment or bullying complaints due to the Minnesota Human Rights Act. There seems to be no correlation between the Act and incidences of bullying or harassment. I am not aware of any cases of students pretending to be transgender to sneak into bathrooms or locker rooms.

Saint Paul Public School District Debunks Harassment Myth For Their District-Wide Policy. St. Paul Public School District assembled a list of "myths and facts" about its Gender Inclusion Policy - one of the myths being that "a gender inclusion policy will lead to safety issues and will violate student privacy in school facilities." Responding to this myth, the district wrote:

There is no correlation between unsafe school environments and providing equitable access to facilities for transgender and gender non-conforming students. [Saint Paul Public Schools, accessed 6/2/15]

Saint Paul Public School District Is Minnesota's Second Largest School District With 38,310 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

New Jersey

State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2007. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination has prohibited discrimination in public education (except religious educational institutions) since being amended in 2006 to include gender identity as a protected class. [White & Case, 12/20/06]

Paterson School District: "Have Not Encountered Any Specific Issues" With Student Access To Facilities. Terry Corallo, executive director of information for Paterson School District, stated that the district had not had any issues with its transgender students as a result of the state's non-discrimination law:

We have not encountered any specific issues (in response to your facilities question), but we do have a policy - and we are sensitive to this matter.

In fact, some of our district staff members have participated in a recent training program - LGBT- Legal Rights & Discrimination of Students and Staff - presented by The Morris Union Juncture. [Email exchange, 5/27/15]

Paterson School District Is New Jersey's Third Largest School District With 24,365 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2008. Oregon has protected public school students from discrimination on the basis of gender identity since the Oregon Equality Act went into effect in 2008. [Lambda Legal, 9/19/07]

Portland Public Schools: No Harassment As A Result Of Transgender Inclusive Policy. Christine Miles, public information officer for Portland Public Schools, stated that she had heard of no incidences of harassment as a result of the state's non-discrimination policy:

We have not received or heard of any harassment to kids.  We have had some concerns from parents who are not parents of TG [sic] students. [Email exchange, 5/20/15]

Portland Public Schools Is Oregon's Largest School District With 46,930 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

Salem-Keizer School District: No "Negative Consequences" As A Result Of Non-Discrimination Policy. Jay Remy, community relations and communications director for Salem-Keizer School District, dismissed concerns about protections for transgender students:

I did look into this. We cannot speak about specific individual students dealing with these issues. However, we have not had any of the negative consequences you listed in your email. We feel fortunate in that regard. [Email exchange 5/19/15]

Salem-Keizer Schools District Is Oregon's Second Largest School District With 40,756 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination in Public Schools Since 2006. In 2006, Washington State enacted the Anderson-Murray Antidiscrimination Law, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity through Washington's Law Against Discrimination. [Lambda Legal, 9/19/07]

Seattle Public Schools: "Not Had Any Incidents" Related To Non-Discrimination Law. Stacy Howard, spokesperson and media relations specialist for Seattle Public Schools, reported no incidents as a result of the state's gender identity protections. Rather, trans students in Seattle recently made headlines for other reasons:

We have not had any incidents related to this in Seattle Public Schools. One great example, some of our transgender students have made headlines recently for changing the graduation gown color to be just one, rather than one for boys and one for girls. [Email exchange, 5/18/15]

Seattle Public Schools Is Washington's Largest School District With 49,269 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

Spokane Public Schools: No Instances Of Students Exploiting Non-Discrimination Protections. Ramon Alvarez, equal opportunity officer for Spokane Public Schools, had not heard any cases of students acting inappropriately as a result of the non-discrimination law, adding that all cases of transgender student bathroom use have been handled amicably:

I have not heard of any situation where a student pretended to be transgender in order to sneak into bathrooms or locker rooms. Neither are we hearing of situations where a student identifies as transgender than later changes their mind. Any questions that have come up around bathroom use for transgender students have been handled amicably. [Email exchange, 5/18/15]

Spokane Public Schools Is Washington's Second Largest School District With 29,038 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2007. In 2007, Vermont outlawed discrimination on the basis of gender identity with Public Act 41, "An Act Relating to Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity." [GLAD, accessed 5/21/15

Burlington School District: No "Misbehavior" As A Result Of Trans-Inclusive Policies. Burlington School District Interim Superintendent Howard Smith stated that the district had not experienced "misbehavior" as a result of its transgender non-discrimination policy:

Before the 2007 protections were enacted in Vermont, Burlington School District was already establishing protections for all students. Since the protections were enacted, the Burlington School District has implemented district-wide bullying and harassment protocols. In each of our schools we have two or more trained Designated Employees (DEs) who are responsible for investigating all complaints of alleged bullying/harassment. Any bullying and/or harassment complaints of a federal or state protected category, such as race, creed, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, (and the district has also included gender expression), will be investigated. The Burlington School District has hired an Equity Director to ensure staff are trained in order to appropriately respond to bullying and harassment. Although BSD has not experienced misbehavior of any student claiming to be transgender as an attempt to gain access to certain facilities, we do offer gender neutral facilities for students and staff. [Email exchange, 5/21/15]

Burlington School District Is Vermont's Largest School District With 3,958 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

Video created by John Kerr.

This post originally stated that Denver Public Schools was the second largest school district in Colorado. It is the actually the largest school district in the state. The post has been updated.

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201506030001 Wed, 03 Jun 2015 12:53:10 EDT
REPORT: How National Media Outlets Cover Transgender News Stories http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201504080001 Cable, broadcast, and Spanish language news networks largely ignored an “epidemic of deadly violence” against the transgender community in the first two months of 2015, despite devoting coverage to various transgender stories. When networks discussed transgender issues, they often failed to include the voices of transgender individuals, especially transgender women of color.

Which Networks Covered Transgender News Stories

Networks Ignored “Epidemic Of Deadly Violence” Against Transgender Women

Who Included Transgender Guests In Their Coverage?

Spanish-Language Networks Largely Ignored Transgender Stories

Which Networks Covered Transgender News Stories?

CNN, MSNBC Extensively Discussed Transgender Issues. Both CNN and MSNBC dedicated substantial time to covering transgender news stories in the first two months of 2015, while Fox News devoted significantly less time to transgender issues:

Nearly Half Of MSNBC’s Coverage Occurred During Ronan Farrow Daily, Which Was Cancelled In February. Of MSNBC's sixty-one minutes of coverage of transgender issues, just over twenty-nine minutes were from Ronan Farrow Daily. The show was cancelled on February 27.

CBS Devoted More Time To Transgender Issues Than Both NBC And ABC Combined. In the first two months of 2015, CBS and NBC covered a number of transgender stories, while ABC ran only one segment on transgender issues during its news programming:

  • Over Half Of CBS’s Coverage Came From A Segment Discussing Amazon’s Transparent

News Coverage Of Transgender Issues Focused On Bruce Jenner, Chelsea Manning, Leelah Alcorn. Coverage of transgender stories across cable news networks focused heavily on Bruce Jenner’s expected transition, Chelsea Manning’s hormone therapy in military prison, and the suicide of transgender Ohio teen Leelah Alcorn:

  • 82 Percent Of CNN’s Coverage Of Transgender Issues Was Devoted To Jenner's Transition. 

Nearly Half Of Fox News’ Coverage Was Dedicated To Criticizing CUNY's Gender-Neutral Memo. Four minutes of Fox News' eleven minutes of transgender coverage were spent criticizing the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) for a memo suggesting that staff avoid using gendered salutations in corresponded with students.   

Only One Sunday Show Featured A Discussion Of Transgender Issues. Across cable and broadcast networks’ Sunday news shows, only MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry featured a host-driven discussion of transgender issues – during a January 3 segment about the suicide of transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn:

Networks Ignored “Epidemic Of Deadly Violence” Against Transgender Women

Seven Transgender Women Of Color Were Murdered In The First Two Months Of 2015. [National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 3/11/15]

Trans Women Of Color Collective: Trans Communities Of Color Are “Disproportionately Impacted By Violence And Discrimination.” In a statement to Media Matters, Lourdes Ashley Hunter, National Director of the Trans Women of Color Collective, wrote:

Trans and gender non-conforming communities of color are historically disproportionately impacted by violence and discrimination. There is an epidemic of brutal violence against trans women of color that is inextricably linked to the structural oppression we face every day. In 2013, there were 14 reported murders of trans women of color.  In 2014, the same year that our nation celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, 12 trans women of color were brutally murdered in a 6-month time span. And in the first two months of this year, 7 (reported) trans women of color have been brutally murdered.  The lack of national outrage reinforces a narrative that our lives are disposable. [Email exchange with Media Matters, 4/6/15]

Homicides Of Transgender Women Have Reached “Unprecedented Levels” In 2015. In a statement to Media Matters, Osman Ahmed, Research and Education Coordinator at the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), wrote:

The homicides of transgender women, and specifically transgender women of color, is an ongoing epidemic that has reached unprecedented levels with the seven homicides of transgender women of color in the first two months of 2015 alone. In just these two months NCAVP has documented more than half of the 12 homicides that were reported in all of 2014. While coverage of individual homicides has somewhat increased recently, it is time for the media to start connecting the dots and talking about the breadth and complexity of this violence. [Email exchange with Media Matters, 3/16/15]

NCAVP: “Alarming Epidemic Of Deadly Violence” Against LGBTQ Communities In 2015. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, transgender women of color have faced “an alarming epidemic of deadly violence” in 2015:

“In 2015 we are seeing an alarming epidemic of deadly violence against LGBTQ communities, and particularly against transgender women of color,” said Chai Jindasurat, Co-Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the New York City Anti Violence Project. “We need more public awareness and respect campaigns, more people speaking out against this violence, and more protections, particularly for transgender people, from harassment and discrimination. This is an outrage, and we all have to commit as a nation to ending this violence.” [NCAVP, 2/19/15]

National News Networks Largely Ignored The Murders Of Seven Transgender Women Of Color. ABC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, and NBC ignored the murders of seven transgender women of color during the first two months of 2015. CNN’s Don Lemon briefly mentioned the murder of three of the women during a discussion about Bruce Jenner during the February 5 edition of CNN Tonight

Who Included Transgender Guests In Their Coverage?

Fox News,  ABC, And NBC Failed To Host Transgender Guests When Covering Transgender Issues. While CNN and MSNBC both frequently invited transgender guests to participate in news segments about transgender issues, Fox News, ABC, and NBC failed to include transgender people during transgender-focused segments with guests in the first two months of 2015:

CNN’s Trans Guests Were Mostly White, While MSNBC Featured Trans Women Of Color. CNN’s transgender guests were primarily white, while MSNBC’s representation of transgender people was split between white and non-white guests:

Spanish-Language Networks Largely Ignored Transgender Stories

Univision And Telemundo Devoted Less Than Ten Minutes To Transgender Issues. Major Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo, largely ignored transgender issues in the first two months of 2015, with both networks devoting less than ten minutes to discussing transgender issues:

Neither Spanish- Language Network Mentioned Transgender Issues During Their Sunday News Shows. Neither Univision's Al Punto nor Telemundo's Enfoque featured a discussion of transgender issues during the first two months of 2015.

Neither Spanish- Language Network Mentioned Violence Against The Transgender Community. Neither Univision nor Telemundo discussed the murders of seven transgender women of color or the issue of violence against the transgender community in the first two months of 2015.

Both Spanish- Language Networks Featured Transgender Individuals During Their Coverage. Univision and Telemundo both featured transgender guests during their coverage of transgender issues - activist Maggie Sanchez during the February 9 edition of Noticiero Telemundo, activist Marichuy Leal Gamino during the January 28 edition of Univision’s Edicion Nocturna, and a transgender woman during the February 10 edition of Noticiero Univision.


Media Matters used TV Eyes, Nexis, and IQMedia to search ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, between January 1 and February 28, 2015 for the terms “transgender!,” “transsexual,” “cross-dress!,” “transphob!,” “gender identity,” “Yazmin AND Payne,” “Yasmine AND Payne,” “Michael AND Payne,” “Michelle AND Payne,” “Ty AND Underwood,” “Tyler AND Underwood,” “Tyrone AND Underwood,” “Ty Lee AND Underwood,” “Lamia AND Beard,” “Floyd AND Beard,” “Taja AND Dejesus,” “Penny AND Proud,” “Perry AND Thornton,” “Kristina AND Gomez,” “Christina AND Gomez,” “Kristina AND Infiniti,” “Christina AND Infiniti,” “Christina AND Grand,” “Kristina AND Grand,” “Ruben AND Gomez,” “Papi AND Edwards,” “Bradley Manning,” “Chelsea Manning,” “Leelah,” “Alcorn,” “suicide AND Ohio,” and “Jenner.”

The same search was run in Spanish for Univision and Telemundo using TV Eyes and IQMedia.

Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded. Mentions after midnight but before the beginning of the next day’s news cycle were excluded. For broadcast networks, we limited our search to the regular morning and evening newscasts, excluding shows like 20/20 and The View.

Transgender coverage included any intentional, network-prompted mention of a transgender news story or individual. Mentions made by guests were excluded. Passing mentions, like references to Amazon.com’s “Transparent” winning a Golden Globe or offhand remarks about Bruce Jenner’s appearance were not included.

To measure how often transgender guests were invited on the networks, we considered all transgender-focused news segments that included commentary from guests. Segments that aired pre-recorded clips of transgender individuals commenting were counted as having a transgender guests. Network correspondents were not considered guests.

Foreign nationals were excluded from the diversity analysis. This applied to only one guest, Diego Neria Lejarraga, the transgender man who claims to have had a private audience with Pope Francis. He appeared on the January 31 edition of CNN Newsroom

C.L., C.M., & R.P. http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201504080001 Wed, 08 Apr 2015 10:01:44 EDT
REPORT: Hate Group Leader&rsquo;s Appearances Plummet On CNN And MSNBC, Hold Steady On Fox News http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201407300001 Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins has appeared significantly less frequently on CNN and MSNBC in the wake of petitions calling on the networks to stop hosting him. Perkins, whose organization has been labeled an anti-gay “hate group,” continues to appear frequently on Fox News.

Perkins Is President Of An Extreme Anti-Gay Group

FRC Has Been Labeled An Anti-Gay “Hate Group.” Citing FRC’s history of defaming the LGBT community, the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled the organization an anti-gay “hate group” in 2010:

Headed since 2003 by former Louisiana State Rep. Tony Perkins, the FRC has been a font of anti-gay propaganda throughout its history. It relies on the work of Robert Knight, who also worked at Concerned Women for America but now is at Coral Ridge Ministries (see above for both), along with that of FRC senior research fellows Tim Dailey (hired in 1999) and Peter Sprigg (2001). Both Dailey and Sprigg have pushed false accusations linking gay men to pedophilia: Sprigg has written that most men who engage in same-sex child molestation “identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual,” and Dailey and Sprigg devoted an entire chapter of their 2004 book Getting It Straight to similar material. The men claimed that “homosexuals are overrepresented in child sex offenses” and similarly asserted that “homosexuals are attracted in inordinate numbers to boys.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, Winter 2010]

Perkins Has Called LGBT People “Vile,” “Hateful,” And Asserted That They’re Destined For “Eternal Damnation.” As GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project noted, Perkins has a long history of anti-LGBT commentary. [GLAAD, accessed 7/30/14]

Perkins Was A Cable News Fixture During 2012 GOP Primary Coverage

Perkins Appeared On Cable News 56 Times During GOP Primary Process. According to an Equality Matters analysis, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN regularly invited Perkins to act as a social conservative spokesman during the 2012 GOP presidential primary process:

[Equality Matters11/28/12]

Petitions Called On MSNBC And CNN To Stop Hosting Perkins

Petitions Urged MSNBC And CNN To Discontinue Perkins’ Appearances. In response to Perkins’ appearances to discuss topics like presidential politics and marriage equality, Faithful America – a group working toward “reclaiming Christianity from the religious right” – launched  a petition in February 2012 petitions asking MSNBC to stop inviting Perkins on its programs, citing his history of inflammatory anti-LGBT rhetoric. The group directed a similar petition at CNN in the summer of 2013 after the network hosted Perkins to discuss the Supreme Court’s recent marriage equality rulings. [Huffington Post, 2/16/12Equality Matters7/15/13

Analysis: Perkins’ Appearances On MSNBC And CNN Have Plummeted

Perkins’ Appearances Have Sharply Declined On MSNBC And CNN. According to an Equality Matters analysis, while Perkins’ appearances have held steady at Fox News, they have been sharply curtailed at CNN and MSNBC. Perkins hasn’t appeared on MSNBC since March 2013:

Most Of Perkins’ Appearances Have Focused On LGBT Issues

LGBT Topics Account For The Majority Of Perkins’ Cable Appearances. Since the conclusion of the 2012 GOP primary process, a majority of Perkins’ cable news appearances have focused on LGBT topics:


Equality Matters searched TV Eyes, LexisNexis, and the Family Research Council’s video archives for Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC between August 1, 2012 and July 28, 2014using the terms “Tony Perkins,” “Tony Perkins AND Family Research Council,” “Perkins AND Family Research Council,” and “Tony AND Family Research Council.” For data prior to August 2012, Equality Matters used data collected in an earlier Equality Matters item focusing on Perkins’ appearances during the Republican presidential primary season.

Equality Matters considered Perkins’ appearances to be focused on LGBT topics if LGBT issues were either the sole focus of his interviews or were raised during segments that also covered other topics.

Luke Brinker http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201407300001 Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:13:50 EDT
REPORT:&nbsp;Houston Media Outlets Fail&nbsp;To Debunk Misinformation&nbsp;About&nbsp;Equal Rights Ordinance http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201406270002 Houston media outlets have failed to hold anti-LGBT activists accountable for the misinformation they have spread about the city’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), currently the focus of a repeal effort. Media outlets have allowed myths about the ordinance’s protections for transgender people to go unchallenged and have disproportionately cited anti-LGBT groups and advocates in their reporting on the measure.

Houston City Council Passed Equal Rights Ordinance

City Council Voted 11-6 To Approve Sweeping Non-Discrimination Ordinance. According to Buzzfeed:

The Houston City Council, led by out Mayor Annise Parker, passed an ordinance Wednesday that prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Houston City Council members approved the measure, or the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, after hearing hours of passionate testimony in a 11-6 vote. More than 220 people testified before the council, Parker said, with a majority in favor of the ordinance.


The ordinance broadly bans discrimination — on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — as well as on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military states, religion, disability, genetic information, or pregnancy. [Buzzfeed, 5/28/14]

Equal Rights Ordinance Prohibits Anti-LGBT Discrimination. According to MSNBC.com:

The ordinance bans discrimination in housing and employment among 14 characteristics – including protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It was a personal and public victory for openly-gay Mayor Annise Parker who began crafting the law back in December. She signed the ordinance shortly after the vote.


Before this week’s vote, Houston was the country’s largest city with no laws protecting citizens against discrimination. There are federal protections for race, color, religion, sex, and age, among others, but nothing on the books federally for members of the LGBT community. Congress has debated, but failed to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – the bill that would extend protections to gay and transgender Americans. [MSNBC.com, 5/29/14]

Conservatives Are Fighting To Repeal The Ordinance

Houston Area Pastors Council Launched Effort To Repeal The Ordinance. The Houston Area Pastors Council is gathering signatures to place a repeal measure on the November ballot. According to The Advocate:

The Houston Area Pastors Council plans to begin gathering signatures to put the ordinance to a repeal vote in November. To get a repeal measure on the ballot, it would need about 17,000 signatures, 10 percent of the turnout in the last mayoral election, within 30 days.

Dave Welch of the pastors council issued a statement saying, “Once we correct this grievous act through the ballot this fall, we will then remind those members that patronizing a tiny interest group and outgoing mayor instead of serving the people leads to a short political career.” [The Advocate5/29/14]

Opponents Claim That Transgender Protections Would Threaten Women And Children. Opponents of the ordinance, including Fox News’ Mike Huckabee and Texas Values’ Jonathan Saenz, asserted that the measure’s protections for transgender people would allow sexual predators to sneak into women’s restrooms, jeopardizing women and children. [Equality Matters5/13/14 and 5/30/14]

Repeal Campaign Is Touting The Transgender Bathroom Myth. As Jeremy Hooper noted, the “No Unequal Rights” coalition fighting to repeal the ordinance has peddled the transgender bathroom myth in radio ads. [Good As You, 6/27/14]

Independent Experts Have Debunked The Transgender Bathroom Myth.  Law enforcement officials, victims’ rights advocates, and state human rights commission officials in states and localities with transgender non-discrimination protections have debunked the transgender bathroom myth. [Equality Matters3/20/14]

Anti-LGBT Misinformation Went Unanswered In Local Media Reporting

Outlets Repeatedly Parroted The Transgender Bathroom Myth. Over the course of the month opponents have had to collect signatures for a repeal effort, Houston media outlets have parroted rather than debunked misinformation about Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance. According to an Equality Matters analysisHouston media outlets repeatedly cited misinformation about the Equal Rights Ordinance, including the transgender bathroom myth and concerns about religious liberty: 

  • More Than Half Of Fox Affiliate KRIV’s Coverage Mentioned The Transgender Bathroom Myth. 
  • Only One Column, In The Houston Chronicle, Debunked Conservative Talking Points About The Ordinance.

Outlets Disproportionately Relied On Commentary From Anti-LGBT Groups And Figures

Houston Media Outlets Failed To Cite Pro-LGBT Groups Or Activists. While several reports cited anti-LGBT groups like the Houston Area Pastors Council and Texas Values or members of such groups, none cited pro-LGBT advocates:


Equality Matters accessed The Houston Chronicle’s coverage by searching LexisNexis for the terms (gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or LGBT or sexual orientation or gender identity) and (discrimination or nondiscrimination or non-discrimination or anti-discrimination or antidiscrimination or Houston Equal Rights Ordinance or ordinance)between May 28 and June 26, 2014.Equality Matters ran the same search terms through TV Eyes for NBC affiliate KPRC, CBS affiliate KHOU, and Fox affiliate KRIV, also searching between May 28 and June 26. Outlets were considered to lend credence to misinformation against the ordinance if they reported opponents' misleading assertions without debunking the misinformation; outlets were considered to have debunked misinformation if they cited independent experts or figures in response to specific claims or if the outlet included editorial commentary rejecting such claims. When counting pro-LGBT and anti-LGBT advocates, Equality Matters excluded members of the general public featured in person-on-the-street interviews as well as Mayor Annise Parker and members of the Houston City Council. Reruns, teases for upcoming segments, and passing mentions in the course of articles or segments about other topics were excluded. Because of technical problems within TV Eyes, Equality Matters excluded ABC affiliate KRTK from its search.

Luke Brinker http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201406270002 Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:16:13 EDT
Cable Evening News Ignores Major HIV/AIDS Stories http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201404220001 Despite major developments in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and research in 2013, cable evening news shows devoted scant time to covering developments in the fight against HIV/AIDS in 2013. The lack of coverage of HIV/AIDS stories has continued into the first quarter of 2014.

There Have Been Major Developments In The Fight Against HIV/AIDS Since 2013

American South Is Facing An HIV "Epidemic." Though new HIV infections are on the decline through much of the United States, southern states continue to face an HIV "epidemic" due in part to lack of support and funding for basic HIV prevention and treatment efforts. [The New Yorker4/10/14]

Debate Intensifies Over Daily HIV Prevention Pill. Despite being approved as effective by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012, the daily HIV prevention pill Truvada has generated opposition from some HIV/AIDS activists, who fear Truvada's effectiveness may encourage users to engage in risky sexual behavior. [The New York Times12/30/13]

CDC Officials Agree To Stop Referring To Sex Without Condoms As "Unprotected Sex." In a January 23, 2014 phone meeting, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agreed to stop using the term "unprotected sex" to mean "sex without condoms," reflecting new HIV prevention and risk strategies. [The Bay Area Reporter2/13/14]

ACA Could Dramatically Alter Federal And State HIV Programs. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) broadens healthcare for many Americans living with HIV, raising significant questions about the future of the landmark federal Ryan White program, which has primarily been used to purchase health coverage for uninsured HIV clients. Funding for the Ryan White program could be diverted for other HIV/AIDS efforts, or the program could face termination if it's no longer deemed necessary. [Stateline, 10/28/13]

Congress Fails To Reauthorize Ryan White CARE Act In 2013. Congress failed to reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act on September 30, 2013. The law does not contain a sunset provision, meaning current funding levels will continue absent federal action. [SIECUS, accessed 4/21/14]

New WHO Treatment Guidelines Make 9 Million More Patients Eligible For Antiretroviral Drugs. New World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, announced in June of 2013, led to a 53 percent increase in the number of HIV/AIDS patients eligible for antiretroviral drugs. [The New York Times6/30/13]

Second Baby's HIV In Remission After Early Antiretroviral Drugs. A second baby's HIV was sent into remission as a result of being treated with antiretroviral drugs just after the child's birth. The success of the treatment follows an earlier case of a Mississippi child who was reportedly cured of HIV after undergoing early antiretroviral treatment. [RT, 3/6/14]

First Confirmed Case Of Lesbian HIV Transmission Reported. On March 13, federal health officials confirmed the first case of a lesbian transmission of HIV, prompting the Centers for Disease Control to advise that all infected people having sex with uninfected people stay on antiretroviral drugs. [The New York Times3/14/14]

Experimental Vaccine Apparently Cures 9 Of 16 Monkeys Infected With Close Relative Of HIV. An experimental new vaccine produced promising results after nine out of 16 test monkeys appeared to be "cleared" of the virus after receiving the treatment. [The New York Times9/16/13]

Study Shows Genes Could Be Altered To Fight Infection. A new report suggests that "gene editing," a treatment that disables particular human genes, might help people infected with HIV combat and even rid themselves of the virus. Researchers caution that widespread use of the technique as a treatment for HIV is still "a long way off." [The New York Times3/5/2014]

HIV Returns After Two Patients Appear Cured Through Bone-Marrow Transplants. Two patients in Boston appeared to have had their HIV in remission after receiving bone-marrow transplants for blood cancers. Unfortunately, their HIV returned months later. [The New York Times12/6/13]

Evening Cable News Ignored Major HIV/AIDS Stories In 2013

Cable News Networks Underreported HIV/AIDS Stories In 2013. According to a Media Matters analysis, between January 1 and December 31, 2013, weekday evening cable news shows significantly underreported major stories about HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and research. CNN discussed HIV/AIDS 11 times in 2013, with MSNBC and Fox News highlighting the issue four times:

Less Than Half Of HIV/AIDS Stories Featured Expert Commentary. Of the 19 discussions of HIV/AIDS on cable evening news during 2013, less than half featured commentary from an expert on HIV/AIDS.

Cable News Coverage Ignored Major HIV/AIDS Developments. Aside from six mentions of the baby whose HIV was in remission due to early antiretroviral drug treatment, evening cable news shows largely ignored significant developments in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Other mentions of HIV/AIDS included interviews with Magic Johnson, acknowledgments of World AIDS Day, and discussions of President George W. Bush's international AIDS work.

Cable News Ignored HIV/AIDS Stories In The First Quarter Of 2014. Between January 1 and March 31, 2014, CNN and MSNBC ran one story on HIV/AIDS during their weekday evening news shows. Fox News has yet to run an HIV/AIDS story during the first quarter of its 2014 evening news programming:


Media Matters searched news transcripts on Nexis between January 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, using the search term "allcaps(HIV) or allcaps (AIDS)" during CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News' weekday evening news broadcasts. All segments that focused on stories involving HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, research, and history were included. Crime stories involving HIV/AIDS, including the story of a man who was accused of knowingly infecting partners with HIV, were excluded. Passing mentions, teases for upcoming segments, and reruns were excluded. 

Evening cable news shows included in the study: The Situation RoomErin Burnett OutFrontAnderson Cooper 360Piers Morgan TonightCNN TonightThe FiveSpecial Report with Bret BaierOn The Record with Greta Van SusterenThe O'Reilly FactorThe Kelly FileHannityThe Ed ShowPolitics NationHardball with Chris MatthewsAll In with Chris HayesThe Rachel Maddow Show, and The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.

For the purposes of the study, guests who were medical professionals, activists, or organizational leaders specializing in HIV/AIDS were considered "experts." 

Luke Brinker & Carlos Maza http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201404220001 Tue, 22 Apr 2014 10:02:48 EDT
15 Experts Debunk Right-Wing Transgender Bathroom Myth http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201403200001 Experts in 12 states -- including law enforcement officials, government employees, and advocates for victims of sexual assault -- have debunked the right-wing myth that sexual predators will exploit transgender non-discrimination laws to sneak into women's restrooms, calling the myth baseless and "beyond specious."

Media Outlets Have Promoted Myths About Sexual Assault To Attack Transgender Non-Discrimination Laws

Media Outlets Have Promoted "Urban Myth" About Restroom Sexual Assault In Trans-Inclusive Jurisdictions. According to Gay Star News' Jane Fae, transphobic bathroom myths have been promoted by news outlets that fail to fact-check unsubstantiated stories about alleged sexual assaults:

Have you heard the one about the trans woman who went into a female changing room and exposed herself to all and sundry?

No: that's not joke, so much as persistent urban myth. However, thanks to an unhappy combination of reactionary and transphobic groups in the United States, and newspapers with a less than whole-hearted commitment to fact-checking, this is one trope that looks set to run and run.


Early opposition, primarily from religious groups in bizarre alliance with some radical feminists, led to the circulation of scary video clips: one depicted the supposed nightmare scenario of a young girl entering a toilet, to be followed moments later by a mustachioed man in a dress. Since, however, this was mostly preaching to the converted, the campaign appears to have gone mainstream, with an increasingly regular drip-feed of stories of the kind highlighted above.

The transphobic tendency is often aided and abetted by journalists who don't check the stories. [Gay Star News, 1/9/14]

DC Trans Coalition: Conservatives Use "Bathroom Panic" To Defeat Transgender Non-Discrimination Laws. According to the DC Trans Coalition:

All over the world, anti-trans bigots try to convince the public that trans people are somehow a "threat" in public bathrooms. We've seen it in New Hampshire, in Gainesville, Fl and close to home in Montgomery County, Md: Our opponents stereotype trans people as sexual predators and try to use "bathroom panic" to defeat legislation that would protect our ability to gain employment and live safe lives. [DC Trans Coalition, accessed 3/18/14]  

Fox News Has Promoted Harassment Fears About Transgender Access To Restrooms. Fox News has repeatedly invoked fears of sexual assault and misbehavior in restrooms to attack equal access to public accommodations for transgender people, including a fake story about a transgender student harassing females in her school's restroom. [Equality Matters6/5/132/27/138/14/1310/15/13]

Conservative Media Outlets Have Promoted Bogus Bathroom Stories. Numerous conservative media outlets, including The Daily Caller, WND, and the Media Research Center, have similarly promoted the myth that sexual predators will exploit trans-inclusive restrooms to prey upon women. [Equality Matters8/19/138/22/132/3/14]

Experts From 12 States Debunk, Condemn Transgender Bathroom Myth


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Accommodations Since 2008. In 2008, Colorado expanded its Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, to include sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class. [The Denver Post5/29/08]

Coalition Against Sexual Assault: Opponents Of Protections Are Creating "Unsubstantiated Fear." Alexa M. Priddy, director of training and communications at the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, reported no problems as a result of her state's non-discrimination law. In an email to Equality Matters, she wrote:

Denying equal rights is yet another form of discrimination against transgender individuals, which is pervasive within our society and institutions. Such criticisms of this law and ads [that] invoke what we see as "trans panic," an attempt to create fear of transgender people and a false label of trans individuals as sexual predators.

CCASA would love to see the real focus be on the realities that transgender people are far too often targeted for sexual violence, and if they seek support through victim services or the criminal justice system in the aftermath, they often face continued discrimination from the very people who are there to help. Sexual assault is already an under-reported crime, and we see this increase with marginalized communities. We want to focus on creating safety for transgender survivors and not on creating unsubstantiated fear. [Email exchange, 3/8/14]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Accommodations Since 2011. In 2011, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed into law legislation prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations based on gender identity or expression. [Bay Windows7/6/11]

State Commission On Human Rights: "Unaware Of Any Sexual Assault." In an email to Equality Matters, Jim O'Neill, legislative liaison and spokesman for the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights in Opportunities, reported no problems as a result of the state's non-discrimination law:

I am unaware of any sexual assault as the result of the CT gender identity or expression law.  I'm pretty sure it would have come to our attention. [Email exchange, 3/6/14] 


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Accommodations Since 2006. In 2006, Hawaii expanded its non-discrimination laws to prohibit discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. [Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, accessed 3/12/14]

State Civil Rights Commission: Non-Discrimination Law "Has Not Resulted In Increase[d] Sexual Assault Or Rape."  William Hoshijo, executive director of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, told Equality Matters in an email:

In Hawai`i, the protection against discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sex, including gender identity or expression, has not resulted in increase sexual assault or rape in women's restrooms.  The HCRC is not aware of any incidents of sexual assault or rape causally related or attributed to the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. (In contrast to anecdotal reports of transgender students being harassed and bullied in school restrooms when forced to use an assigned restroom inconsistent with their gender identity.) [Email exchange, 3/6/14] 


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Accommodations Since 2007. In 2007, the Iowa Civil Rights Act was expanded to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations. [Iowa Civil Rights Commission, accessed 3/14/14]

Des Moines Police Department: "We Have Not Seen That."  In an interview with Equality Matters, Des Moines Police Department spokesman Jason Halifax stated that he hadn't seen cases of sexual assault related to the state's non-discrimination ordinance:

We have not seen that. I doubt that's gonna encourage the behavior. If the behavior's there, [sexual predators are] gonna behave as they're gonna behave no matter what the laws are. [Phone interview, 3/13/14] 


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Accommodations Since 2005. In 2005, Maine adopted legislation prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. [GLAD, 2/25/14

State Human Rights Commission: "No Factual Basis" For Sexual Assault Fears. In an email to Equality Matters, Executive Director Amy Sneirson of the Maine Human Rights Commission said that the state's non-discrimination law hadn't led to increased sexual assault or rape:

I know that this concern persists but I personally have not seen any factual basis for it.

I am not aware of any increased sexual assault or rape in women's restrooms as a result of Maine's 2005 adoption of protections in the Maine Human Rights Act for sexual orientation (which, in Maine, includes "a person's actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality or gender identity or expression"). [Email exchange, 3/7/14] 


Cambridge Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Accommodations Since 1997. In 1997, the city of Cambridge expanded its non-discrimination ordinance to prohibit discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations. [National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, July 2008]

Cambridge Police Superintendent: "No Incidents" Of Transgender Protections Being Abused. Police Superintendent Christopher Burke told Equality Matters in an email:

Back in 1984 Cambridge enacted an ordinance that established the Human Rights Commission. The purpose of the ordinance was to protect the human rights of all citizens of the City. In 1997 this ordinance was amended to specifically include gender identity and expression. Much like the Transgender Equal Rights Bill proposal, the City of Cambridge sought to offer protection to transgender individuals from being harassed, fired from a job, denied access to a public place, or denied or evicted from housing. Since this 1997 amendment there have been no incidents or issues regarding persons abusing this ordinance or using them as a defense to commit crimes. Specifically, as was raised as a concern if the bill were to be passed, there have been no incidents of men dressing up as women to commit crimes in female bathrooms and using the city ordinance as a defense. [Email exchange, 3/7/14, emphasis added]

State Victims' Advocacy Group: Fears About Transgender Protections Are "Beyond Specious." Toni Troop, spokeswoman for the statewide sexual assault victims organization Jane Doe Inc., told Equality Matters in an email:

The argument that providing transgender rights will result in an increase of sexual violence against women or men in public bathrooms is beyond specious.  The only people at risk are the transgender men and women whose rights to self-determination, dignity and freedom of violence are too often denied.  We have not heard of any problems since the passage of the law in Massachusetts in 2011, nor do we expect this to be a problem.  While cases of stranger rape and sexual violence occur, sexual violence is most often perpetrated by someone known to the victim and not a stranger in the bush or the bathroom. [Email exchange, 3/7/14, emphasis added]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Accommodations Since 1993. In 1993, Minnesota amended its Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations. [OutFront Minnesota, accessed 3/13/14]

Minneapolis Police Department: Fears About Sexual Assault "Not Even Remotely" A Problem. Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder told Equality Matters in an interview that sexual assaults stemming from Minnesota's 1993 transgender non-discrimination law have been "not even remotely" a problem. Based on his experience, the notion of men posing as transgender women to enter women's restrooms to commit sex crimes "sounds a little silly," Elder said. According to Elder, a police department inquiry found "nothing" in the way of such crimes in the city. [Phone interview, 3/11/14]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Accommodations Since 2011. In 2011, Nevada enacted three transgender non-discrimination laws, including a law explicitly prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations. [National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 6/2/11]

Las Vegas Police Department: No Problems Since Passage Of Non-Discrimination Law. Asked whether Nevada's 2011 gender identity law had fueled a rise in sex crimes, Las Vegas Police Department spokesman Jesse Roybal told Equality Matters, "the answer would be no." After the department's lieutenant for sexual assault ran a check of crimes since 2011, Roybal told Equality Matters that the department had not "had any incidents involving transgender suspects." [Phone interview, 3/6/14, 3/11/14]

New Mexico

State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Accommodations Since 2003. In 2003, New Mexico amended its Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations. [The Williams Institute, September 2009]

Albuquerque Police Department: "Unaware Of Any Cases Of Assault" Due To Non-Discrimination Law. Officer Tasia Martinez, Public Information Officer for the Albuquerque Police Department, told Equality Matters in an email:

We are unaware of any cases of assault in our city as a result of transgendered [sic] accommodations. [Email exchange, 3/13/14]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Accommodations Since 2007. In 2007, Oregon enacted the Oregon Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. [Lambda Legal, accessed 3/13/14]

Bureau of Labor And Industries: "Zero Allegations" Of Assault Due To 2007 Law. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries spokesman Charlie Burr told Equality Matters in an email:

The Oregon Equality Act protects the rights of LGBT Oregonians in employment, housing and public places and has done so without any incidents of LGBT assaults on women in public restrooms that we're aware of. Our agency has encountered zero allegations of LGBT assault related to this public accommodation protection. [Email exchange, 3/7/14] 

Portland Police Department: "I Have Never Heard Of Any Issues Like This." Portland Police Department spokesman Peter Simpson wrote in an email to Equality Matters:

I have never heard of any issues like this in Portland. We have a very low rate of sexual assault/rape crimes here overall. [Email exchange, 3/7/14] 

Rhode Island

State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Accommodations Since 2001. In 2001, Rhode Island explicitly prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in public accommodations. [GLAD, 2/25/14]

State Commission for Human Rights: No Increase In Sex Crimes Due To Non-Discrimination Law. Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights Executive Director Michael D. Evora told Equality Matters in an email:

The Commission for Human Rights has not taken in any cases alleging gender identity discrimination in respect to bathroom usage in public facilities since the law was amended to prohibit such discrimination.  In addition, we are not aware of any affect the passage of the law has had on incidents of assault in public restrooms. [Email exchange, 3/7/14] 


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Accommodations Since 2007. In 2007, Vermont explicitly prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity in public accommodations. [GLAD, 3/4/14]

State Human Rights Commission: "We Are Not Aware" Of Any Problems From Non-Discrimination Law. In an email to Equality Matters, the Vermont Human Rights Commission's Karen Richards said:

I have only been here a short time so was checking with my staff to find out if they were aware of any issues. ... We are not aware of any other issues or problems similar to this caused by prohibiting discrimination against those who are transgendered. [Email exchange, 3/7/14] 

Montpelier Police Department: No Complaints. Montpelier Police Chief Tony Facos responded to an email inquiry about whether the state's non-discrimination law had led to incidents of rape or sexual assault in women's restrooms, stating, "We do not have any complaints related to this issue." [Email exchange, 3/10/14]

Luke Brinker & Carlos Maza http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201403200001 Thu, 20 Mar 2014 10:00:33 EDT
Right-Wing Media Denounce Guinness For Protesting Parade's Homophobia http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201403170002 Guinness announced that it will not participate in the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade due to the parade's exclusion of LGBT groups, prompting outrage and calls for boycott from right-wing media figures.

Guinness Withdraws From St. Patty's Parade In Support Of LGBT Groups

Guinness Will Not Participate In St. Patrick's Day Parade Because LGBT Groups Are Excluded. Guinness announced on March 16 that it would not participate in New York City's St. Patrick's Day parade, citing the event's exclusion of gay and lesbian groups. From Reuters:

Irish brewer Guinness said on Sunday that it would not participate in New York City's St. Patrick's Day parade this year because gay and lesbian groups had been excluded, costing organizers a key sponsor of the annual event.

The move came on the same day that Boston's Irish-American mayor skipped that city's St. Patrick's Day parade after failing to hammer out a deal with organizers to allow a group of gay and lesbian activists to march openly.

"Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year's parade," the brewer said in a written statement issued by a spokesman for its parent company, Diageo.

"As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy," Guinness said. [Reuters, 3/16/14]

Right-Wing Media Denounce Guinness' Pro-Equality Stance, Call For Boycott

Laura Ingraham: Guinness' Pro-Equality Stance Is "Totalitarian," "Petty." On the March 16 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show, conservative radio host and Fox News contributor Ingraham called Guinness' decision to withdraw from the parade "totalitarian":

INGRAHAM: But Guinness, OK Guinness Beer is the latest beer giant to withdraw its support because lesbian and gay groups are not allowed to march openly in the oriented parade with gay signs. pulls out?! Now, this -- I've just got to say. I find this to be totalitarian in its feel to me. This idea that, if we can't be a part of your event, we are going to shut you down.

Now think about that. Do they really want a situation where groups that totally disagree with them, or have just a different focus than they have, try to shut down aspects of the gay parades in New York? And there's a big, you know, gay parade in New York. And people have a lot of fun at it, it's very colorful, very interesting. But I don't think people are trying to damage their parades, or are they? I must have missed those stories. By saying oh we -- I'm trying to think of an example -- well we, evangelical, Bible-believing Christians, want to hold up anti-gay signs at the gay parade. And if we're not allowed to do that, then we are going to haunt and pester all of your sponsors until they give in. You know what I'm saying? To me it just seems so petty and such a waste of time that you have to be front and center, proselytizing at every non-gay event.


Well I think Guinness ought to be careful. Because Guinness is going to start getting boycotted by other groups of people, that are probably a lot more people would think of boycotting Guinness now than the gay-groups who are going to boycott Guinness at the Stonewall Inn. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show3/17/14]

Ingraham: "This Is Thuggish Behavior." On the same radio program, Ingraham went on to claim that Guinness was exhibiting "thuggish" behavior by withdrawing from the parade over LGBT exclusion:

INGRAHAM: Guinness is boycotting the New York St. Patty's Day parade.. welcome to the new totalitarianism. This is thuggish behavior though. The idea that if you don't wear t-shirts or hold placards expressing you're sexuality you're discriminated against. No one is saying you can't have a protest, no one is saying you can't have your parades, no one is excluding you from a coffee shop or university or a company or anything, they're just saying that they'd like to have their parade without sexuality being shoved in the faces of families and children and the organizers who put it on, big deal.  [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show3/17/14]

Rupert Murdoch Calls For A Boycott Of Guinness. Chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, Fox News' parent company, Rupert Murdoch denounced Guinness' pro-equality stance on Twitter, writing that he hoped "all Irish boycott the stuff":

[Twitter.com, 3/17/14, via Media Matters]

Todd Starnes: "Apparently Parading Is Now A Civil Right." Fox contributor Todd Starnes criticized Guinness' move on Twitter, accusing Guinness of pulling out of the parade because "the Irish refuse to turn it into a Gay Pride parade": 

[Twitter.com, 3/17/14]

[Twitter.com, 3/17/14]

Emily Arrowood & Olivia Kittel http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201403170002 Mon, 17 Mar 2014 13:31:40 EDT
Conservative Media Are Outraged That Arizona's Anti-Gay Bill Was Vetoed http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201402270005 Several right-wing media figures reacted with outrage on Twitter after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have permitted businesses and individuals to refuse to serve gay couples and individuals.

AZ Gov. Brewer Vetoes Bill To Legalize Homophobic Discrimination

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Announces Veto Of Anti-Gay Bill. On February 26, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced she has vetoed Senate Bill 1062, which would have allowed businesses and individuals to deny services to gay people on religious grounds. The Washington Post reported:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) announced Wednesday night that she has vetoed a controversial bill that would allow businesses to deny service to gays and lesbians if they feel it violates their religious rights.

Gay rights advocates have denounced the legislation, labeling it a form of legalized discrimination, and Arizona's two GOP senators and leading Republican candidates for governor urged Brewer to veto the bill. Even a few GOP state legislators who voted for the measure now say it is not the right thing to do.

Brewer said the bill "does not address a specific or pressing concern" and that it is not part of her agenda.

"I have not heard of one example in Arizona where business owners' religious liberty has been violated," Brewer said. "The bill is broadly worded, and could result in unintended and negative consequences." [The Washington Post2/26/14]

Cue Outrage From Conservative Media Figures 

Fox's Todd Starnes: Veto Means Christians Are Now Second Class Citizens. Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes raged against Brewer's veto on Twitter, claiming that now "homosexual rights trump religious rights" and businesses must comply with orders from "militant groups":

[Twitter, 2/26/14]

Breitbart's Ben Shapiro: Brewer Is "Gutless" For Veto. In the moments leading up to Brewer's remarks, Breitbart.com editor-at-large Ben Shapiro tweeted that the governor was "gutless" if she vetoed the bill:

[Twitter, 2/26/14]

National Review's Lowry: "Veto Shows That Poorly Informed Hysteria Works." National Review editor Rich Lowry suggested that Brewer caved to "poorly informed hysteria" by vetoing the bill:

[Twitter, 2/26/14]

MRC's Dan Gainor Vows To Donate To Brewer's Political Opponents. After Brewer announced the veto, Dan Gainor of the conservative Media Research Center tweeted:

E.A. & O.K. http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201402270005 Thu, 27 Feb 2014 14:34:42 EDT
Right-Wing Media&nbsp;Freak Out Over&nbsp;Same-Sex Marriages At The Grammys http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201401270001

Right-wing media figures condemned the weddings of 33 same-sex and opposite-sex couples at the 56th annual Grammy Awards, describing the ceremony as an attack on Christianity.

Grammys Featured Weddings Of 33 Couples

Queen Latifah Officiated The Weddings Of 33 Couples During 56th Annual Grammy Awards. According to The New York Times:

In what Grammy organizers hoped would be a heartwarming showstopper, 33 gay and straight couples were officially married — by Queen Latifah, deputized by Los Angeles County — during a performance of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s marriage-equality anthem “Same Love,” which also featured Madonna. [The New York Times1/27/14]

Right-Wing Media Criticized The Ceremony As An Attack On Christians

Fox News’ Todd Starnes: “Sick.” Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes posted a series of tweets condemning the ceremony, saying that the weddings were “sick,” “bashing God,” “mocking marriage,” and “cramming a social agenda down our throats”:

 [Twitter.com, 1/26/14

Breitbart.com: “A Culture War Missile Aimed At Those Who Believe In A Traditional Definition Of Marriage.” In an article titled “Gay Marriages Interrupt Grammys’ Universal Reach,” Breitbart’s Christian Toto wrote:

For one night, an awards show understood what it meant to appeal to the masses. And then the 2014 Grammy Awards fired off a culture war missile aimed at those who believe in a traditional definition of marriage. [Breitbart.com, 1/26/14]

Media Research Center’s Tim Graham: Ceremony Was “Musical Agitprop To Mock … Traditional Values.” Graham took to the MRC’s blog to denounce the ceremony before it even occurred, writing:

They can say this is not a stunt, but that's exactly what it is, a piece of musical agitprop to mock the traditional values of conservative American Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others. Entertainers never want to have a debate, just a series of arrogant "statements" with no opportunity for a conversation as they flush the Bible on national TV. [Media Research Center, 1/26/14]

Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft: Ceremony “Bashed Conservative Christians.” In a post for his Gateway Pundit blog, Hoft wrote:

Madonna, Queen Latifah and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis held a mass wedding at the Grammys tonight in L.A.
But not before they bashed conservative Christians.

In “Same Love” the rapper Macklemore attacked conservatives:

A pre-conceived idea of what it all meant
For those that like the same sex had the characteristics
The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition, playing God
Ahh, nah, here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And “God loves all his children” is somehow forgotten

Then Madonna appeared with a cane(?) and Queen Latifah married 33 couples, gay and straight.

It was all about true love – as long as you agree with them. If you don’t agree, you get ridiculed and attacked. [TheGatewayPundit.com, 1/26/14]

American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer: “Grammy Telecast To Feature Sodomy-Based Wedding Ceremonies.” Prior to the ceremony, AFA spokesman Fischer tweeted:

 [Twitter.com, 1/26/14]

Luke Brinker http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201401270001 Mon, 27 Jan 2014 11:12:49 EDT
REPORT: Fox News Silent On Anti-Gay Human Rights Crises http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201401220001 Fox News has been all but silent in reporting on major human rights crises facing gays and lesbians in Uganda, Nigeria, and India over the past few weeks, continuing the network’s pattern of turning a blind eye to significant international stories about the LGBT community.

ANALYSIS: Fox News Underreports Passage Of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law

Uganda’s Parliament Passed Law Criminalizing Homosexuality. On December 20, the Ugandan Parliament passed its Anti-Homosexuality Bill, criminalizing sexual intercourse between same-sex partners with a life sentence in prison. According to Uganda’s Daily Monitor:

You engage in homosexuality, you rot in jail, according to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed by Parliament on Friday. 

An excited Parliament debated and overwhelmingly passed the Bill which criminalises sexual intercourse between same-sex partners. 

The legislation provides for a sentence of life imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality, which covers gays and lesbians. A proposal to put the punishment to 14 years in jail was rejected by the House. [Daily Monitor12/20/13

Fox News Spent 15 Seconds Mentioning The Passage Of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law. According to an Equality Matters analysis*, Fox News spent just 15 seconds covering Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law between December 16 and December 27 compared to more than seven minutes of coverage on CNN and two minutes of coverage on MSNBC:

  • Fox’s Only Mention Of Uganda Was During A Segment On Justice with Judge Jeanine Criticizing Pro-Equality Activists For Focusing On Duck Dynasty.

Ugandan President Refused To Sign The Anti-Gay Law On Procedural Grounds. In a letter to Parliament dated December 28, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni declined to sign the anti-gay measure into law, stating that it was invalid because it was passed without a parliamentary quorum. [Daily Monitor1/17/14]

ANALYSIS: Fox News Ignores Passage Of Nigeria’s Extreme Anti-Gay Law

Nigeria Passed Law Criminalizing Gay Marriage, Public Displays Of Affection. On January 13, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which criminalizes same-sex marriage and civil unions, public displays of affection between same-sex couples, and pro-LGBT clubs, societies, and organizations. [UPI, 1/13/14]

Law Has Already Led To Reports Of Arrests, Torture. According to the Associated Press:

First the police targeted the gay men, then tortured them into naming dozens of others who now are being hunted down, human rights activists said Tuesday, warning that such persecution will rise under a new Nigerian law. 

The men's alleged crime? Belonging to a gay organization. [Associated Press, 1/14/14

U.S. Is “Deeply Concerned” Over Nigeria’s Anti-Gay Law. According to a statement issued by Secretary of State John Kerry:

The United States is deeply concerned by Nigeria’s enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act.

Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians.

Moreover, it is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines the democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 Constitution. [State Department, 1/13/14

Fox News Ignored The Passage Of Nigeria’s Anti-Gay Law. According to an Equality Matters analysis**, Fox News ignored the passage of Nigeria’s harsh anti-gay law and the subsequent reports of arrests and torture of gay men in Nigeria during the period between January 6 and January 17:

ANALYSIS: Fox News Ignored India’s Anti-Gay Supreme Court Decision

India’s Supreme Court Reversed Lower Court Decision Decriminalizing Homosexuality. On December 11, India’s Supreme Court overturned a lower-court decision that struck down the country’s prohibition against “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.” According to The Washington Post:

India’s Supreme Court overturned a historic lower-court decision on homosexuality Wednesday, making gay sex a crime in the world’s most populous democracy, with violators facing up to 10 years in prison.

The court ruled that a British colonial-era statute outlawing “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” was constitutional. Changing it should be left to Parliament, not the courts, the judges ruled. [The Washington Post12/11/13

Fox News Ignored Supreme Court Decision To Uphold India’s Ban On Homosexuality. According to an Equality Matters analysis***, between December 9 and December 20, Fox News failed to mention the Indian Supreme Court’s decision declaring the country’s ban on homosexuality to be constitutional:

Fox News Has Ignored Other Human Rights Crises Affecting LGBT People 

Fox Ignored The Controversy Surrounding Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws, Winter Olympics. In July and August of 2013, Fox News largely ignored the controversy surrounding Russia’s strict new anti-gay laws, which could have an impact on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi in February:

[Equality Matters8/7/13]

Fox News Ignored The Reemergence Of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Legislation. Between October and December of 2012, Fox News ignored the reemergence of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law, devoting significantly more time to discussing the Korean pop song “Gangnam Style”:

[Equality Matters12/12/12]


*Equality Matters searched news transcripts provided by TV Eyes for the word “Uganda” between December 16 and December 27. Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded. 

**Equality Matters searched news transcripts provided by TV Eyes for the word “Nigeria” between January 6 and January 17. Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded. 

***Equality Matters searched news transcripts provided by TV Eyes for the word “India” between December 9 and December 20. Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded.

Luke Brinker & Carlos Maza http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201401220001 Wed, 22 Jan 2014 10:21:35 EDT