Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg deliver major speeches, and more queer people, issues and allies feature heavily at the virtual 2020 U.S. Democratic Party National Convention!
Byron Lane’s memories of “Leia” make for fabulous Hollywood fiction in his new novel, A Star is Bored!
Trump’s anti-trans healthcare rule is blocked by a federal court, trans student athletes block Idaho bias, gay dads fight the U.S. State Department for their baby’s citizenship, government torturers charged in “Uganda 20” case, balloons float a rainbow over the Kremlin, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of August 24, 2020
PanDEMic Confab & A Star Is Bored!
Program #1,691 distributed 08/24/20
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): U.S. federal judges slam both Trump’s attempted denial of transgender health care and Iowa’s ban on trans-girls and women in sports Trump’s State Department appeals the court-ordered U.S. citizenship of the baby daughter of a married U.S. gay couple born via surrogate in Canada the Trump administration sides with anti-queer bigotry in a Supreme Court case about bias against queer couples by taxpayer-funded religious-based adoption and fostering agencies Trump disregards her specific wishes and posthumously pardons pioneering lesbian suffragist Susan B. Anthony anyway as the gay Log Cabin Republicans ignore reality and endorse the president’s re-election two Ugandan officials are facing a civil lawsuit over their abusive raid of a primarily LGBTQ homeless shelter in March after local officials refuse to file criminal charges and anti-Putin performance artist Alexander Donskoy floats a rainbow flag over the Kremlin (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by WENZEL JONES and MELANIE KELLER, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: Forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to take its quadrennial gathering out of the convention centers and into cyberspace, the U.S Democratic Party has nominated former Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris to replace the current occupants of the White House. Maybe meeting at a medically safe distance actually made it easier for the August 17-20 virtual convention to present a diverse tapestry of its constituents. Minority representatives were deftly mainstreamed and intersectionalities were woven in in a way that makes highlighting the specifically LGBTQ moments more difficult than in the past. Out Pose star Billy Porter capped the first night accompanied by Buffalo Springfield’s Stephen Stills for a modern rendition of the 60s band’s For What It’s Worth. One lesbian and one gay man were tagged for major addresses. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin has not only been a congressional leader in the healthcare debate, her home state is considered pivotal in the presidential race. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg himself made a decent showing in the primary campaign for the party’s presidential nomination — the first serious out gay contender for the role (with intro cameos by Donald Trump, Michelle Obama, and Barack Obama).
Feature: A Star Is Bored is a sparkling new novel by gay author Byron Lane. It’s a clever Hollywood adventure in fiction, but in fact it draws heavily on Lane’s real life experiences as personal assistant to the legendary writer and film star, Carrie Fisher. Our JOHN DYER V took his first trip to Zoom-land for a conversation with Lane about his novel, and about the other projects he has in the works (with intro/outro music from Princess Leia’s Theme by JOHN WILLIAMS from Star Wars).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending August 22, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Wenzel Jones and Melanie Keller, produced by Brian DeShazor
The Trump administration was on the wrong side of the law involving transgender people again this week. Before a rule allowing healthcare providers and insurance companies to discriminate against transgender patients was set to take effect, it was blocked by Brooklyn-based U.S. District Judge Frederic Block.
The Health and Human Services Department had tried to overturn provisions of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act that ban bias based on gender identity.
On August 17th Judge Block cited the recent Supreme Court ruling banning anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination. He wrote that, “It seems a sensible thing to … reflect on the decision’s impact. Since [the Health and Human Services Department] has been unwilling to take that path voluntarily, the court now imposes it.”
The ruling granted a request from the Human Rights Campaign on behalf of two transgender plaintiffs for a preliminary injunction to prevent the new Trump rule from taking effect until its constitutionality is decided.
Another anti-trans law was blocked by another U.S. federal judge also on August 17th – this one in the state of Idaho. It prohibited transgender high school and college girls and women from participating in women’s athletic competitions.
Idaho Chief U.S. District Court Judge David C. Nye pointed out that the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association both, as he wrote, “allow transgender women to participate in female sports teams once specific criteria are met.” Ironically, Nye was appointed by President Trump in 2017.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in April challenging the Idaho law. Nye’s temporary injunction prevents it from taking effect until a full trial can be held.
According to Yahoo Sports, lawmakers in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, and Tennessee have recently considered similar legislation. ACLU & HIV Project senior staff attorney Gabriel Arkles warned that, “If politicians in other states attack transgender youth, they will face similar challenges.”
LGBTQ parents are also under attack by the Trump administration.
The U.S. State Department is appealing a federal court decision that a married gay couple’s baby born via surrogate in Canada is a U.S. citizen.
U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang ruled in June that Roee and Adiel Kviti’s daughter Kessem is automatically a U.S. citizen by virtue of her dads’ legal marriage – just as she would be if her parents were heterosexual. The Kvitis are Israeli transplants who are now both U.S. citizens, living in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
The State Department appealed the ruling in the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on August 13th.
The queer advocacy group Lambda Legal represents the Kivitis. They also represent Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg, a gay couple in Atlanta, Georgia. They sued the State Department after it refused to recognize the U.S. citizenship of their daughter Simone Mize-Gregg, who was born via a surrogate in England.
The law seems pretty clear: Section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that, “a baby born abroad to married parents is a U.S. citizen at birth when both parents are U.S. citizens and one of them has resided in the United States at any point prior to the baby’s birth.”
Both couples meet those criteria. The Trump administration apparently does not want to recognize their marriages as legitimate. That flies in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for November 4th in a case involving religiously affiliated adoption and fostering agencies that get taxpayer funding. It tests whether or not such organizations can reject applications from otherwise qualified same-gender couples. The Trump administration filed a legal brief in June siding with Philadelphia’s Catholic Social Services. That agency challenged the city’s anti-bias ordinance, which forced them to either accept same-gender applicants or lose city funding.
Even when he may think he’s doing the right thing, President Donald Trump still has a tough time. Trump announced a formal presidential pardon for Susan B. Anthony this week. The famous lesbian suffragist was arrested in 1872 and fined $100 for voting illegally. Outraged and insisting that the Constitution already gave her that right, she declared, “I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.” And she never did. While Anthony worked to get pardons for other arrested suffragists, she saw her “record” as a badge of honor. She pointedly rejected any suggestion of a pardon for herself during her lifetime.
Trump issued the pardon during this week’s observance of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which secured the right to vote for white women. His move was criticized as more of a lame effort to curry favor with female voters than to honor Anthony.
A statement from the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in Rochester, New York urged Trump to rescind the pardon and instead enforce and expand 1965’s landmark Voting Rights Act, and to speak out against “any form of voter suppression.”
Trump is instead sounding false alarms about voter fraud, and the Republican-controlled Senate has declined to consider voting rights protections.
In related news, the gay Log Cabin Republicans group has once again lauded Donald Trump for his pro-LGBTQ+ record – apparently unconcerned that he lacks one. Board Chairman Robert Kabel wrote in an op-ed for USA Today – seriously – that Trump Republicans have advanced the rights of LGBTQ people, while Democrats have ignored them. Trump tweeted that the endorsement was “my great honor.” As is his habit, he defied reality by claiming to be “the most pro-gay President in American history.”
Two Uganda government officials have been criminally charged with torture and degrading, inhumane treatment of 20 young LGBTQ people. Supporters say their homeless shelter outside Kampala was selectively targeted for a raid in March. The youths were charged with violating COVID-19 lockdown rules limiting public gatherings. They were held for weeks without access to legal counsel or the ability to apply for bail. Some of the detainees are HIV-positive and were denied needed medications.
Thanks to local activism and pressure from a number of international human rights groups, all 20 detainees were finally released without charge after 50 days in squalid conditions. The Ugandan government ordered each to be compensated the equivalent of more than $1,300 U.S. dollars.
The queer-supportive N.G.O. Human Rights Awareness and Promotions Forum initiated civil proceedings after officials refused to file criminal charges. The civil case targets the state, the local town councilman who launched the raid and led the physical abuse, and a high-ranking prison official.
Town councilman Hajj Abdul Kiyimba is seen in photos right after the raid whipping some of the detainees. He and prison officer Philimon Woniala will appear in court on September 23rd.
Finally, even as leading Putin opponent Alexey Navalny lay in a coma after probably being poisoned, a well-known Russian performance artist who survived his opposition to the regime has floated the symbol of LGBTQ Pride over Moscow.
The artist was the mayor of the Northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk until he announced that he intended to challenge Putin for the presidency in 2007. He was, of course, arrested, charged with abuse of office, and given a 3-year probationary sentence.
He has since gained renown as a modern artist and gallery owner. Dozens of helium balloons hoisted his giant rainbow flag from Moscow’s Manezhnaya Square and floated it towards the Kremlin, no doubt infuriating the occupants.
The artist told the opposition news outlet Novaya Gazeta that he was responding to the government’s criticism of a number of foreign embassies in Moscow for flying the rainbow flag during June Pride month – including the embassies of Canada, the U.K., and the U.S. That’s considered to be a violation of the law against “gay propaganda” that Putin pushed through in 2013.
The artist wanted to leave no doubt about who deserved credit for flying the rainbow: Alexander Donskoy attached his name to a large banner along the bottom of the flag.
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