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The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has threatened to dismiss Arkansas’ appeal regarding its marriage equality ban, due to an unpaid $505 docketing fee. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who took over from Dustin McDaniel on January 13, promised the fee will be paid, but it is uncertain how the bill was missed—fee payments are a routine matter generally handled by other employees within the Attorney General’s office. [Read more]

Superior Court Judge Crane McClennen has overturned transgender woman Monica Jones’ 2014 conviction for “intent” to commit prostitution, under a Phoenix, Arizona law that has been criticized for being too broadly written. Jones said in an interview after the ruling, “This law needs to be thrown out because it unfairly targets women, transgender women, and people of color living in poverty.” She added that under the law, women are arrested for just talking to other people on the street, but “police wouldn’t do that to a man.” Jones further said that she intends to keep fighting the law, as McClennen did not address whether it violates the right to free speech or enables illegal profiling. [Read more]

For the first time, legislators in Idaho are considering adding protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to their state’s Human Rights Act, thereby protecting LGBT people from discrimination in regards to housing, employment, and education statewide. Though the state enacted marriage equality in October 2014, only a few cities have passed LGBT-inclusive protections, and currently there are none at the state level. Any change is unlikely, however, as Republicans outnumber Democrats 13 – 4 on the House committee. [Read more]

To aid in the fight against human trafficking, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA) on January 27. In the US, homeless youth are some of the most likely to become victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and RHYTPA would reauthorize a significant number of programs work to help youth obtain housing and vital services such as education and job training. Given that LGBT youth are disproportionately likely to become homeless, the bill also includes a provision that bans grant recipients from discriminating based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. [Read more]

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