News Briefs for the Week of Apr. 19, 2017

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Check out the latest news from around the nation!

Equality California Launches Statewide Billboard Campaign in Act of Resistance and Solidarity

(AP) Equality California Friday announced the launch of a media campaign called "#ResistHate" to recognize and promote California's exceptional diversity. The campaign seeks to foster a statewide culture of solidarity that resists fear, bigotry and hate, and instead encourages unity among the state's LGBTQ community and all communities that experience prejudice, injustice and discrimination. 

The new year-long campaign features images evoking love, unity and California pride, and will appear on 125 billboards in various markets across the state.

"'Resist Hate' is a message of unity and solidarity for all Californians," said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. "LGBTQ people are black and white, Muslim and Jew, immigrant and native born - and everything in between. This campaign empowers us to help unite the many communities of which LGBTQ people are a part and to resist all attempts to divide our communities. We want all of California's diverse communities to know that whoever you are - LGBTQ, Muslim, undocumented or a member of any other group that has been targeted or feels less safe as a result of recent divisive messages - we stand with you. We must assert the values of tolerance and inclusion that set our state apart, and make it a beacon of hope and acceptance for the rest of the nation."

The first billboards are being installed this month in greater Los Angeles and the remainder will be installed across the state throughout 2017.

Lady Gaga Invites Fans to be Extras in 'A Star is Born' Remake Shooting at Coachella This Week

(EDGE) Lady Gaga's Little Monsters will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this week, not only to see Mother Monster live on stage, but to be a part of her highly anticipated remake of the classic film "A Star is Born" as an extra. 

The Coachella stages in Southern California will play host this week to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper as they shoot concert scenes for the remake of "A Star is Born." The scene(s) being shot are of a Country Western musical event, and will take place on Tuesday, April 18 and Wednesday, April 19.

According to an invite to Gaga fans, "the scenes for these days will portray a Country Western music concert. All you Monsters that can attend should get decked out in your most comfortable denim & boots, throw on a Stetson (leave those pink Joanne hats at home) and come out to show your support!"

This marks the fourth time "A Star is Born," the story of an ambitious singer whose rise to fame is helped by another star whose best days are behind him, has been filmed. Gaga steps into shoes formerly filled by Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand. The film marks Gaga's first major feature role Bradley Cooper's directorial debut.

Fans looking to make money off this particular move extra gig, may end up disappointed. Instead of pay, there is a $10 admission fee. But all proceeds are reportedly going to Gaga's Born This Way Foundation.

NY Times Editorial Calls Trump's LGBT Support 'A Fallacy'

(EDGE) Is Trump's honeymoon with being a pro-LGBT president over? Did it ever start?

The New York Times editorial board skewered President Donald Trump on Monday for campaigning to be "president for all Americans" and then halting or reversing the progress of LGBT rights by nominating anti-LGBT officials.

"[T]he nomination of several key officials, who have disparaged the L.G.B.T. community and sought to curtail the rights of its members, has exposed the narrative that Mr. Trump would be a champion of gay and transgender people as a fallacy," The Times wrote.

Key among anti-LGBT Trump administration officials called out by The Times is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who in February reversed the Obama Administration directive to schools regarding transgender students. The Times also blasted Trump's choice for Health and Human Services Department, Tom Price for his vocal opposition to gay rights as a congressman. Mention was also made of Tennessee state senator Mark Green, who was recently tapped by Trump to replace openly gay Eric Fanning as secretary of the army, for calling transgender a "disease."

"It's not too late, of course, for Mr. Trump to act like the transformational Republican on gay rights that some of his supporters hoped he would be," the editorial concluded. "He could, for instance, urge Congress to pass a federal anti-discrimination bill. Yet his record of empty talk makes that seem as unlikely as the sight of a Republican presidential candidate waving a gay pride flag."

Vermont Moves Forward with Gender-Free Restroom Bill

(AP)  Vermont is moving ahead with a statewide measure to take gendered signs off single-occupancy public bathrooms, but time is running out to pass the bill during this year's lawmaking session.

After an identical California law passed last year, nearly a quarter of Vermont's 150-member House signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. New York is the only other state that is considering a similar legislation this year. A Hawaii bill in the same vein failed last year. Washington, D.C., and many cities and colleges have already enacted similar policy.

In contrast, 13 states were considering laws by late March that limit bathroom access in some way, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Policy experts say the bills are unlikely to pass, however.

"Trans people have reached a level of publicity and to some degree acceptance on the national scale that is unprecedented," said Cathryn Oakley, senior legislative attorney at the Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBTQ rights group.

"But it also has had a very significant pendulum swing in terms of the legislation we're seeing," Oakley said.

Capturing Oakley's attention now is a Texas bill that would that would keep transgender people from using a bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, which has passed the state Senate.

Progressive Rep. Selene Colburn, the lead sponsor of the three-page bill, said she hasn't faced opposition, but is not sure if it will pass this year. House and Senate leaders say about three weeks remain in Vermont's lawmaking session, and neither the full House nor the Senate have yet considered the bill.


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