Saturday, December 03, 2016

Mattis might want to undo progress on gays and transgender in the military, according to a new book

Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst, has a column today "Inside the mind of 'Mad Dog' Mattis" about the likely Defense Secretary's views, and some of these views could affect advances made in the military in recent years regarding "LGBTQ people."

The comments concern a recent book "Warriors and Citizens" from the Hoover Press (published August 2016, edited by Karl Schakey and Mattis) with an essay by Mattis, "The Mattis Way of War".

Mattis is concerned about the relationship between the civilian world and the military which serves it.  But Bergen's piece notes a criticism of social goals, which include repealing past bans on open gays in the military and now transgender soldiers and sometimes the use of women in combat, as disregarding the "atavistic" nature of the way the military regard war, especially with an enemy that has less concern for human rights than we have.  So we have to be better than that.

I have downloaded the book on Kindle (the print copy is out of stock on Amazon) and will review it soon. 

Friday, December 02, 2016

Price as HHS secretary seen as problematic for LGBT people

The Washington Blade reports, in an article by Stephen Forsell, that the appointment of Tom Price (R-Ga) to be secretary of HHS, is bad for LGBT people, article here.

His history is that of opposing repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, voting against ENDA, and supporting a constitutional amendment to support what George W. Bush had called “the sanctity of marriage” in 2004.  There is fear that he could support funds for conversion therapy.  There is a sensation that he is anti-science and many of his ideas don’t concur with modern medical thinking.

One could wonder (on World AIDS Day, especially) if the funding of prescription protease inhibitors for people with HIV could be an issue.  Medical advances have made the side effects of protease inhibitors much less problematic than in the past.

Of great concern, too, is not only repeal or a take-down of “Obamacare”, but also a gradual replacement of Medicare with premium supports for seniors to buy private insurance.

Update: Dec. 3

I'll put a negative story about HIV that I saw, regarding a VA doctor who could have infected up to 600 people with HIV, Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C (both of which can be asymptomatic in people with stronger immune systems but possibly lead to liver cancer later in life), for reusing the same instruments, which may have been his name, McClatchy story here.

This reminds me of the Kimberly Bergalis case with a dentist in Florida in 1989

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Indiana firing of lesbian teacher will test a gender-based argument in court with existing law.

Lambda Legal has written up a case of a community college teacher (Kim Hively) in Indiana fired after being seen kissing her girlfriend, as a way to cover LGBT people or “behavior” under more general Federal law protections based on gender itself.


Gergory T. Nevins at Lambda Legal gives a detailed interview here.  

Of course, it can be harder now to get a case before SCOTUS. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Trump and Pence are likely to ignore LGBT rights overseas as an issue

Samar Habib has a rather alarming story in the Washington Post Monday, Nov. 28, “The Trump/Pence Administration will likely switch sides on global LGBT rights”, link here.
Pence, who has attracted attention for talking about conversion therapy in 2000, is now quoted as saying that gays (LGTBQ) should be left alone as individuals but not singled out as a class for protection. Under Obama, the US has been able to promote the class idea in some marginal countries.
Nevertheless, Russia, for example, has become much more anti-gay under Putin, passing an anti-gay propaganda law in 2013 that seems motived not just by equating homosexuality to interest in minors, but specifically to fears about low birth rates.

Trump says that gay marriage is settled law and does not bother him, but that gays and lesbians, like anyone else, need security at home from militant violence from foreign sources, mostly tied to radical Islam.

Trump and Pence seem to suggest that involvement in anti-gay policies of some countries (like in Africa) could complicate other relations with those countries, but anti-gay policies overseas can seriously hamper business and charitable work now. It could lead to more asylum claims at home.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mike Pence did advocate conversion therapy in 2000, it seems

There’s some nasty stuff on Facebook right now claiming that Mike Pence wants to divert funding from AIDS vaccines and treatment research to “conversion therapy”.   Hopefully, he no longer believes this, but I can’t say we’re sure based on any recent statements.

Of course, mandatory and even voluntary conversion therapy is illegal now in a number of states.  But I did check around a bit.

Snopes has this article from Oct. 26, 2016 called “Shock Treatment”.

It does seem, according to the Internet Archive, that Pence had supported some sort of conversion therapy in 2000, before the 107th Congress, .

Towleroad reminds us of this history with this reference.

Buzzfeed also has the link, which accentuates the idea of changing sexual behavior (to heterosexual??) to reduce the risk of spreading or amplifying HIV (a right wing argument from hardliners in Texas in the early 1980s).

Politifact also has the story.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Soviet 1983 disinformation campaign on AIDS may have set up homophobia in Africa today

A Washington Post story today by Adam Taylor describes the “disinformation” campaign by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, which included a story in July of 1983 (nine months before the HIV HTLV-3 discovery was announced) that AIDS was a manmade disease originating in the Pentagon.   The New York Native (Charles Ortleb’s paper) had augmented these claims with bizarre theories about an arbovirus, AFSV (African Swine Fever), and about a facility at Plum Island on Long Island. 

A possible result is a survey on 2005 showing about half of Africans believe that AIDS is an American invention, which could help explain rabidly anti-gay attitudes (and their easy exploitation by politicians) in Africa.

An arbovirus would have made the disease politically even more dangerous, as insects could have spread the disease to other communities (maybe that was part of the thinking behind the draconian anti-gay law proposed in Texas in 1983).  Theoretically, the same claims could be made about Zika today.

New trials of a moderately successful HIV vaccine will start in South Africa soon (story ).  This may be related to recent advances in Australia.  

Friday, November 25, 2016

DC Center (including Global and Aging) hosts LGBT Thanksgiving dinner

For Thanksgiving Day I did visit the DC Center in Washington DC for a seating at 2 PM for a family-style dinner sponsored by Center Global and Center Aging. 
There were perhaps 40 people.  A few (including some women and all well known groups) did say they were asylum seekers.  The group went around with introductions and favorite holidays.  One woman, an area resident, said Ramadan, because of the contemplation and self-sacrifice involved.
I had brought a pie from Food and Friends, but so had a lot of other people.  There was plenty of turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and kale. 

Before the dinner, people played Blokus in the public room.  The “Blues” (Hillary) won over the Reds, the Yellows (Libertarians) and Greens (Jill Stein),  So maybe that’s an omen for Hillary’s possibly doing a recount. (Read Tim Lee's article in Vox about Jill Stein's election recount fund-raising, which he says has some mathematical and ethical merit -- the writer, a libertarian-leaning socially liberal conservative, and probably, at 36, a pretty fit candidate for office if the GOP noticed, supports her effort to provide another check at least on the integrity of the election.)

Photo link from DC Center. 

People had not seen the story about Tanzania (yesterday’s post). 

There’s another op-ed in the Washington Post Friday morning that conceivably could bear on the asylum seeker situation, by Zachary Price, “Entrapping the Dreamers", The op-ed reassures that the INS cannot use information that undocumented children used in applying for Obama’s DACA program. 

Generally, the mood of the group was good.  There seems to be a general impression that Trump is not likely carry out his early campaign threats of aggressive deportations (leading to more asylum claims), because it would be almost impossible to do, and because police departments and other law enforcement discourage the idea.

I spoke to one person quite privately about my own involvement. I am still playing “email tag” on this matter.  Nothing specific was said, but we will follow up in the week that starts with Monday November 28.  I got the impression that right now providing assistance or hosting outside of the District and the most accessible areas from Metro is quite difficult. 

There is another group called TASSC (Torture Abolition Survivors and Support Coalition) which has an outdoor run event Dec.4 in DC.   I have been told that they had operated a shelter.  There is an Asylum Women’s Empowerment Group in Baltimore  but I have little information and there seems to be a small shelter in Baltimore run by the Mennonite Church, but I have no other details right now.