Friday, June 23, 2017

5th Circuit punts on Mississippi religious freedom law; Lavender scare apology law introduced


The Washington Blade has at least two important stories today.

The 5th Circuit in New Orleans let stand a Mississippi “religious freedom” law because the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue (Chris Johnson story).  The law would have allowed religious organizations and medical providers to deny services in certain circumstances based on religious beliefs.  State employees could defer themselves from issuing marriage licenses.  The court said it would consider a case where plaintiffs had suffered "stigmatic harm".
 
The case catches my attention because in 1985 the 5th Circuit overturned a favorable 1982 ruling by Judge Buchmeyer in the Baker v. Wade case on the old Texas 21.06 sodomy law.  The court had mentioned “moral values”.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has introduced a “lavender scare bill” to provide apologies and expunge personnel records of those fired from the State Department in the 1950s during the Cold War.  The same attitude helped contribute to my own William and Mary expulsion in 1961.  Story by Michael Levers here.

Dean Rusk told Mike Wallace of CBS that the State Department "discharges" homosexuals as late as 1967 on  notorious CBS documentary "The Homosexuals".  I started working for the NBS (Commerce) in 1963 and there was certainly a pervasive anti-gay attitude ("removal" for "sexual perversion" was in Civil Service regulations).

The policy reminds one of the career of Frank Kameny, fired from a government Army map service in 1957.

It's interesting that the British government has apologized to the estate of Alan Turing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

GOP Florida governor backs down on LGTBQ protections after honoring Pulse victims


Equality Florida has noted that Florida governor Rick Scott ( R ) has refused to issue an executive order protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination, despite other proclamations “Pulse Remembrance Day” on June 12, story.  This includes a refusal to protect state employees.

The announcement was sent out as a press release today.

It’s also important to remember that the Pulse attack occurred on a Latino event night.
 
In other news, a minority group in Washington has started a retail business called “Check It” in the Anacostia area of Washington DC.  The story appeared on WJLA this evening.  I’ll report after I can make a visit by Metro.
 
There was also a small demonstration for asylum seekers and refugees today in DC; more details to come.  The group wants the Trump administration to allow 75000 refugees to enter the country in 2017.  More details will follow later.

Friday, June 16, 2017

US Department of Commerce removes explicit LGBT protections from policy statement


The United States Department of Commerce has removed explicit LGBTQ protections from its policy statement.  The department says this will not change anything in practice.  But why was the wording retracted?  The Washington Post has a story (by Juliet Eilperintoday. Will other federal departments behave in a similar fashion?

My first job, starting in August 1963, was at the National Bureau of Standards on the old Federal City campus at Van Ness in Washington DC (now UDC), before it moved to Gaithersburg.  I stayed there about a year.  My most recent external job was with Census, 2010-2011.

It's worth a visit to Federal Globe's website.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Transgender woman becomes first candidate to win a primary, at least in Virginia


In Virginia, a trans woman Danica Roem has won a Democratic primary to face “transphobic” Republican incumbent Bob Marshall, story here.

Much of her district encompasses Prince William County, from Manassas to Woodridge.
 
It is certainly becoming more likely that transgender persons would be regarded as fit for office, like “Lady Valor” Kristen Beck.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Memorial candlelight service for Pulse Orlando held in Washington DC, Dupont Circle


Monday evening I attended, at Dupont Circle in Washington DC, the Candlelight Service for Victims of the Pulse Orlando terror attack on 2016/07/12, one year to the date of the attack, which had started at 2.02 AM EDT.

The event was in part sponsored by the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, whose link is here.

A male speaker for the fund said he had served in the Army in Iraq and made the argument that military weapons have no place in civilian hands.    The speaker also noted that the event at Pulse that night had been intended as a Latino party.



Later Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke.

A family member of one of the victims spoke, and she rebutted the argument that had patrons of the bar been armed, they could have defended themselves.  Of course, this might not work against military weapons and no business owner (of a bar or movie theater) wants to allow weapons on the premises. But she said that the idea that you think you need to carry a weapon is an admission of fear, an existential statement that you are on your own, and that you live in a precarious, unstable society based on the use of force. That idea can be a predecessor of fascism.

The Washington DC Gay Men’s Chorus sung twice.

There was a reading of the victims’ names, 49 deaths, with a bell ring for each one.  I do not normally name victims in my own blog postings or videos unless I have a separate personal connection to the person.  This has to do with my own personal values;  I don’t want to “sell” victimization.
 ‘
There was also mention of the medical expenses of some of the injured.  Florida does have a crime victims’ compensation fund which as covered a lot of this.  I had said before that civilians injured by military weapons should have access to US military surgeons and rehab if medically necessary.  Does that let the rest of us off the hook?
 
Speakers did try to encourage people to join the Pride Fund.  There was also mention of some specific partisan political races and their behavior with regard to the NRA.  While I am happy to link to organizations online, I generally don't film or report or urge detailed fundraising myself, especially for partisan political purposes, in my own reporting.
 
There is more video that I took at this Wordpress location.

The Pulse property will become a museum and memorial, here.  It is not clear if the club will reopen at a different location as a disco.

I had visited the club on July 12, 2015, eleven months before, leaving around 2 AM, so this could have happened to me (I was on a visit to Orlando to visit Disney and Universal).  A good friend had been there just two weeks before the attack.  It can happen to anyone.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Equality March goes smoothly from my viewpoint; a hot, humid, and very crowded Pride Festival


I did “join in” the Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington DC Sunday morning, as it turned the corner around the Treasury Building and headed town 15th St toward Constitution Avenue.



The march seemed somewhat uneventful.  But there were some curious signs, such as one about “intersectional resistance and collective liberation”.  For the Left, everything seems to be about the group and the people, not the individual.

There were the expected signs demanding impeachment of Trump, and also about being ignored (but that’s what belonging to a group can mean).

The march went East on Constitution Ave (the Memorial Day parade goes east to west).

The Pride Festival was packed all day.  I was there two different periods.  The heat and crowd made it difficult to find some booths, and the Guide did not give precise locations.

The main alcohol section as up front near the stage, and still with long line at 6:30, a half hour before closing.

Despite “No Justice No Pride”, plenty of corporations were present, as were the FBI and CIA, seeming to seek gay and trans employees (for the CIA, trans or fluid could be an asset).

On a side street, around 6th NW near the Newseum, there was another bar area with a disco dance floor.  The Baltimore block party often had a similar concept.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Capital Pride rerouted by "No Justice No Pride" protest; Trump to speak with Pence at anti-gay group to honor Pride month


I just got back from Capital Pride Saturday.  My cell phone ran down because there were so many people it kept hanging trying to visit anything.

NBC Washington reports that a group called “No Justice No Pride” stalled the march, refusing to move, and forcing rerouting one block south to Scott Circle.
 
The parade went past First Baptist Church of Washington DC, where a wedding was delayed because the bride and groom could not get to the church through suddenly closed streets.  I attend that church.

A member of the Texas Rangers baseball team appeared near the church in uniform, about an hour after the Rangers had won a come-from-behind game against the Nationals 6-3, where the Nats blew a 3-1 lead in the ninth.  The game had started at noon to accommodate Pride. (The Orioles lost horribly to he Yankees in NY, 16-3).


I did manage to get a picture on Facebook off about England’s parade exhibit, which I eventually marched with.  The picture was liked, and then I heard rumors today of May being forced out of office in Britain.

There were signs “Make America Gay Again”.

Late there was the usual block party at JR’s and the dance at Cobalt started at 9 PM.



I think I spotted members of the Congressional Chorus in the crowds.



Trump is speaking at an anti-LGBT group, the Faith and Freedom Foundation, Monday, link.  Pence will be at his side.  Maybe Trump doesn't listen to Jared Kushner.