“White Night” Plus 40

Forty-year-old echoes of the outrage that overflowed into the streets of San Francisco’s LGBTQ community in response to the lenient sentence given the Moscone/Milk assassin!

Taiwan leads Asian nations in legalizing same-gender marriage, more Mexican states equalize marriage, U.S. House passes Equality Act to a surly Senate, Chick-fil-A gets fried for its “higher calling” to hate, one Aussie athlete kicked out while one comes out, and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of May 20, 2019

“White Night” Plus 40!

Program #1,625 distributed 05/20/19

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Taiwan becomes the first in Asia to open civil marriage to same-gender couples Hidalgo and San Luis Potosí become the 16th and 17th of Mexico’s 31 states to become marriage equality states the Equality Act, to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in federal law, passes in the Democrat-controlled U.S. House, but advancement in the Republican-controlled Senate is uncertain, at best the notoriously anti-queer Chick-fil-A fast food giant loses another venue because of its millions of dollars in donations to flagrantly homophobic organizations, but in defense claims a “higher calling” Pentecostal Christian and controversial star Australian rugby player Israel Folau is fired for ongoing offensive anti-queer statements, including tweeting an image with the caption “hell awaits homosexuals” but Andy Brennan becomes the first pro Australian soccer player to come out as a gay man (written by GREG GORDON with LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by TANYA KANE-PARRY and ROB LECRONE, with translation thanks to KEVIN HSYEH, and produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR).

Feature: Forty years ago this week, violence broke out in San Francisco’s LGBTQ community. The city had lived through the November 27th, 1978 assassination of Mayor George Moscone and its famed openly gay Supervisor Harvey Milk. It had seen former fire fighter, police officer and Supervisor Dan White arrested for the murders. The Oscar-winning film Milk tells that much of the story. 
What happened next is the story of Diminished Capacity, a radio documentary produced by now-This Way Out Coordinating Producer GREG GORDON. These excerpts from that program recall the two tumultuous days that began on Monday, May 21st, 1979 (with archival reports by GENE PARISH/NPR; MIKE HODEL, EMILY CLARK, EILEEN ALFANDARY/Pacifica Radio; DAVID HOSLEY/KNX Radio; on-scene coverage of the City Hall police riot and Castro invasion by FRED BRUNGARD and MICHAEL RUTZ/Fruit Punch Collective-KPFA Radio, with STEVE O’NEIL/Ravenshead Communications; and featuring the voices of DOUGLAS SCHMIDT, HARVEY MILK, CLEVE JONES, AMBER HOLLIBAUGH, DIANNE FEINSTEIN, HARRY BRIT, MEG CHRISTIAN and HOLLY NEAR; music by the TOM ROBINSON BAND].

[Get the entire Diminished Capacity documentary HERE!]

NewsWrap

A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending May 18, 2019
Written by Greg Gordon with Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and Rob Lecrone,
produced with Brian DeShazor

{sound: vote result announced/cheers & chants, faded out under:}

Elated equality supporters chanted “Marriage equality!” and “First in Asia!” as the announcement was made that Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan had passed a bill to open civil marriage to same-gender couples. The vote came, appropriately enough, on May 17th, the annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Thousands of people braved heavy rain to gather outside the Parliament Building in the capital city, Taipei, to watch live TV coverage of the proceedings.

A Taiwan Constitutional Court ruling on May 24th, 2017 gave lawmakers a two-year deadline to pass a marriage equality bill. The justices said that denying civil marriage to same-gender couples was unconstitutional. They decided that equality would automatically come into force on May 24th, 2019 if Taiwanese lawmakers failed to act by then.

Two other versions of the bill were backed by conservative forces. They described lesbian and gay partnerships as a “same-sex family relationship” or a “civil union,” but pointedly refused to call it “marriage.” The government’s bill was the most progressive of the three, and includes the word “marriage.” It prevailed by a comfortable margin of 66 to 27. President Tsai Ing-wen has been a strong marriage equality supporter, and tweeted that “We took a big step towards true equality [today], and made Taiwan a better country.”

However, rather than including same-gender couples in the Civil Code, the measure creates a new law that essentially does the same thing. But it allows married lesbian and gay couples to only adopt each other’s biological children. And Taiwanese gay and lesbian couples can only marry a same-gender partner from another country if it would also be legal in the foreign partner’s homeland.

It’s been a long and bumpy struggle for equality advocates in Taiwan, following the Constitutional Court victory two years ago after a protracted legal battle over marriage rights. In November 2018, voters rejected marriage equality but approved lessthan-equal civil unions in ballot measures sponsored by a conservative Christian umbrella group known as The Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation. Although referenda results cannot overturn Constitutional Court decisions, the public vote put pressure on lawmakers to find a way to follow the Constitutional Court ruling, yet still satisfy everyone.

The Coalition issued a statement saying that it “regrets and condemns” the vote, and called it a “malicious misinterpretation” of the referendum results. It warned that, “The massive public will strike back in 2020,” when the next national elections are scheduled.

As the downpour waned, crowds continued to celebrate in the streets. One man tweeted that, “a beautiful rainbow now stretches across the sky.”

The new laws are expected to take effect on May 24th.

Lawmakers in San Luis Potosí have made it the 17th state in Mexico to open civil marriage to same-gender couples. The bill passed on May 16th by a narrow vote of 14-to-12 with one abstention. Lawmakers in the state of Hidalgo voted for marriage equality earlier in the week.

Even though the country’s Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that state marriage equality bans are unconstitutional, it did not have the power to enforce that ruling outside of federal courts. So activists in each of Mexico’s 31 states have had to establish equality in their own way. Some have made it happen legislatively, others through a state high court ruling, or through an executive-branch administrative decision. Queer Mexican couples were first allowed to marry in the federal district of Mexico City in 2009.

Activists continue to chip away at marriage bans in the remaining 14 states. Queer couples in those states can only marry by getting what’s called an amparo, or injunction, from a federal judge. That’s a costly and time-consuming process because couples need to hire a lawyer, but federal judges must follow the Supreme Court ruling and grant the amparo.

With a smattering of bipartisan support, the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act on May 17th to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination under federal law. It would bar bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in employment, housing, loan applications, education, and public accommodations. Longtime queer rights supporter House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it would bring the U.S. “closer to equal liberty and justice for all.”

The vote in the House was 236-to-173. Eight Republicans joined the majority. Seven Democrats and 16 Republicans did not vote on the measure.

Contrary to prevailing belief in the U.S., LGBTQ people are not already protected by federal law. However, several courts have decided that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans discrimination “on account of sex” also extends to sexual orientation and gender identity. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear 3 cases that will test those rulings in the session that begins in October. Close to half of all U.S. citizens currently live in states that have no anti-bias laws protecting queer people.

Out Congressman David Ciccilline of Rhode Island is one of the Equality Act’s lead sponsors. He said that passage would “ensure [that all] members of the LGBTQ community can live their lives free from the fear of legal discrimination of any kind.”

Recent polling demonstrates that as many as 7 in 10 people in the U.S. support anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQ people. Still, Republicans argued that the bill is a threat to religious freedom by requiring the acceptance of a specific ideology about sexuality and gender. Religious conservatives are howling that the measure will promote “federal persecution of Christians.” Televangelist Pat Robertson warned that passage will make God angry at Americans and “the land will vomit you out.” Bryan Fischer of the certifiably anti-queer hate group the American Family Association ranted against the measure on his daily radio show, calling it the “Pedophile Protection Act.”

A similar bill in the Republican-controlled Senate faces an uncertain future – at best. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the power to not even allow consideration of the Equality Act in his chamber. And President Trump has signaled that he’ll veto the measure in its present form in the unlikely event it reaches his desk.

In other news, Chick-fil-A, the third-largest fast food chain in the U.S., behind only Starbucks and McDonald’s, has been denied yet another venue because of its pattern of giving millions of dollars over the years to anti-queer organizations. The faculty at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo voted overwhelmingly this week to kick the Chick-fil-A outlet off their campus. They referenced a recent Think Progress report that detailed the corporate office’s more than a million dollars in donations in just one recent year to The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which demands what it calls “sexual purity,” and to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, which offers housing to troubled youth, but teaches that marriage equality is a “rage against Jesus Christ and his values.”

The head of the restaurant chain’s charitable arm, Rodney Bullard, defended the contributions during a May 15th interview with Business Insider, claiming that “it’s a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that’s being waged.”

The student government at Trinity University in San Antonio voted to ban the chain earlier this month, prompting a bill now being debated in the Texas legislature to prohibit jurisdictions from penalizing a business in any way because of its owners’ religious or moral beliefs.

And finally, Australia has been embroiled for several weeks in a controversy involving star rugby player and Pentecostal Christian Israel Folau.   He’s been under fire for anti-queer statements, including re-tweeting an image claiming that “hell awaits homosexuals.” He’s lost millions of dollars in sponsorships, and on May 17th he was officially fired by the Australian Rugby Association for a major breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct. The former Mormon of Tongan descent is standing his ground, and continues to urge LGBTQ people to repent for their sins. He can still appeal the Association’s decision.

But in happier Australian sports news for LGBTQ people, Andy Brennan has become the first pro soccer player in Australia to come out as a gay man. He did it through an Instagram post on May 14th, writing that he worried about how it would affect his family, friends, and teammates. But he said that “the support of the people around me has been so great and helped me get to the final step: being completely open. Being open is the best way for me to feel most comfortable and be myself.

“So,” he added, “carry on!”

“Satisfying your weekly minimum requirement of queer news and culture for more than 30 years!”

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