News You Should Know July 30, 2014

BTL Staff

NEW ORLEANS - A federal appeals panel on July 29 blocked a Miss. Law that would have shut down the last remaining abortion clinic in the state by requiring the doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals, something they had been unable to do. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-to-1 vote that imposing a law like this would effectively end abortion in the state. This latest ruling comes at a time when states in the South are setting restrictions that supporters say address safety issues. Critics say they are intended to shut clinics. Miss. officials argued that women seeking abortions could always drive to neighboring states. The decision didn't overturn the State's law but the panel said that the law could not be used to close the sole clinic in the state.

WASHINGTON D.C. - The Office of Personnel Management published a final rule updating its nondiscrimination policy. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced its new "LGBT Vision for which provides a framework for the agency's ongoing and new projects to serve LGBTQ communities worldwide. The Office of Personnel Management's new rule adds gender identity as an explicitly protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and clarifies that sexual orientation is a protected class under civil service laws. In November 2013, the Task Force submitted recommendations on amending the agency's nondiscrimination policy along with a coalition of groups.

MISSISSIPPI - The Human Rights Campaign has hired a former clergyman to lead its efforts in Mississippi. Rob Hill grew up in Mississippi and spent 12 years working as a United Methodist pastor. Hill is gay and says he started work on the "Project One America" on July 14. The HRC will spend $8.5 million for the project in Miss., Arkansas and Alabama to fight for the LGBT community to have job and housing protections.

PORTLAND - Last year a lesbian couple was left on the side of a freeway by a taxi cab driver who disliked how affectionate the couple was in the back seat. In a suit filed last week Kate Neal and Shanako Devoll say the cab driver Ahmed Egal intentionally caused them emotional distress and held them under false arrest. The driver yelled homophobic comments including "You can't be gay in my cab." The driver pulled over on the side of Interstate 84 in Portland and a second Broadway Cab appeared to pick them up but the new driver refused to take them home. Egal had his license permanently revoked and the cab company was fined $1,000. The couple is seeking $38,000 in damages.

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