News Briefs: LGBT Activists Brace for GOP Efforts to Undermine Their Gains & Slain Officer Responded to Pulse Gay Club Massacre!

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LGBT Activists Brace for GOP Efforts to Undermine Their Gains

(AP) After a string of major victories in recent years, LGBT activists are bracing for a different task in 2017 - trying to prevent Republicans in Congress and state legislatures from undermining those gains.

They view President-elect Donald Trump and many of his Cabinet selections as disinterested - and in some cases hostile - when it comes to the various issues of civil rights and anti-discrimination protections that concern lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

At the state level, with Republicans controlling a sizable majority of legislatures, there's already a push for measures which LGBT activists view as discriminatory. For example, legislators in several states - including Alabama, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin - are advocating for laws that would bar transgender students from using bathrooms or locker rooms that don't match their biological gender at birth.

"2017 is going to be our toughest year yet," said the National Center for Transgender Equality in a recent fundraising appeal.

There also may be a push in some states for so-called "religious exemption" laws that would allow some businesses and civil servants to refuse services to LGBT people if their decisions were deemed to be based on religious belief.

In Congress, conservative Republicans plan to address the religious-exemption issue by relaunching the First Amendment Defense Act, which would prohibit punitive federal action against people and institutions that define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The measure failed to advance during two previous sessions, but may gain more traction now, with Trump promising to sign it if it reaches his desk.

Ian Thompson, a legislative specialist with the American Civil Liberties Union, says the proposed act "would open the door to unprecedented taxpayer-funded discrimination, allowing anyone to act with impunity in rejecting same-sex couples."

Slain Officer Responded to Pulse Gay Club Massacre

(AP) The Orlando police sergeant who was gunned down in a Wal-Mart parking lot was one of the first responders to a mass shooting at a gay nightclub.

The Orlando Police Department on Tuesday confirmed that Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was one of the officers who responded to the shooting at Pulse in which 49 patrons were killed.

Last June's massacre in Orlando was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Authorities say Clayton was gunned down Monday morning in a Wal-Mart parking lot after she approached a suspect who was wanted for questioning in the slaying last December of his pregnant girlfriend.

A manhunt for suspect Markeith Loyd was in its second day on Tuesday.

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