Monday, July 16, 2018

Federal judge rules faith-based agencies on Philadelphia city contract for child placement may not discriminate



A federal judge in Philadelphia has ruled that two agencies responsible for adoption or fostering of children, may not turn away same-sex couples as parents on religious grounds if they receive money under a contract with the City. 

The agencies were Catholic Social Services and Bethany Christian Services.  The judged ruled that their setup makes them public accommodations.

Both agencies had insisted however that prospective parents be “religious” and present pastoral letters.

The agencies do accept single parents, however ironically. 

The issue could become bigger if more agencies place children of asylum seekers if released at the border when for some reason the parents don’t get reunited.

Metro Weekly reports on an HRC study showing that young evangelicals are increasingly likely to support same-sex marriage – for personal support of others, and for increasing the availability of possible adoptive parents. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Pride picnic for Fairfax County Public Schools, 2018





Today I visited the FCPS Pride (Fairfax County Public Schools, VA) Pride picnic.

I got there a bit late and heard less about races and politics than last year(see the July 16, 2017 post, with link to more speech videos).


Recall, I worked as a substitute teacher in 2004-2005 and again in 2007.  There was a major incident involving my own online speech at the end of 2005 which I have discussed widely on these blogs before.

The political climate, with respect to LGBT but also speech, has changed since I was there.
Today the event seemed a little smaller.  There was more emphasis specifically on trans (or fluid) teachers or students than before, relative to the entire LGBTQ experience as a whole.

One transgender speaker talked about how the group had originally organized as a “huge closet” like the “CIA”.  Kristin Beck (the former Navy Seal, someone completely fit to be president of the United States in my estimation)

Small groups of previously marginalized people meet in public spaces and get into the news, first of bloggers, and then gets uploaded to the bigger media, and curated onto a much bigger stage. This can work both ways, but it doesn’t always mean “solidarity”.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Pop-up gay bar for MLB All-Star baseball game in Washington temporarily replaces Town this week


Washington Nationals relief pitcher gives the Washington Blade an interview  as Washington DC prepares for the All-Star game.

The Nationals are not doing as well this year, struggling to stay above .500, partly because of injuries and underperforming players. (They are grown men.)  Doolittle is signed by some nerve inflammation of a toe. 

But the Washington Blade set up a temporary MLB Pop-Up gay bar for five days (July 13-17), open evenings, next to Walters sports bar and National’s Park, on N St SE off Van Street, just north of the Half Street entrance to the park and the larger bar. 

The bar has a dance floor and is most welcome now that Town Danceboutique is closed.  Think of it as a temporary replacement for Town.

One wonders if there is space somewhere near Nationals Park and the Audi field for soccer next door, with a dance floor for weekend rental.  Could something more permanent come out of this pop-up? DC United will play soccer in the new field.  Gay Belgian actor Timo Descamps (“Judas Kiss”) has often tweeted about soccer.

Tracks used to be located near Half Street, across M Street a couple blocks down, long before all the high-rise real estate development.  Velvet Nation was also in the area.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

GOP-controlled House passes bill allowing adoption agencies receiving federal funds to turn away LGBT parent adoption applications based on religious grounds



Remember in 2000 when the Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts could legally discriminate against gays because they were a private organization.  Libertarians celebrated the ruling on ideological grounds, and then watched city after city deny them permits on tax-owned land.
  
We all know that, despite the “conservative” ruling, the BSA has turned around on this (to the extent that the Mormon Church had to separate). Maybe we can take comfort in that outcome in contemplating the Supreme Court.


But the GOP House has voted to allow religious organizations who accept federal funding to deny gays (or particularly legally married gay couples) the opportunity (not the right) to adopt.  Here is the LGBTQ Nation story .

In handling refugees, now a sensitive issue, the government has to work with faith-based social services organizations like Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities.  I haven’t actually heard of any complaints recently against either of these (there were problems with Catholic Charities during the Mariel Boatlift in 1980), it’s clear that there is a public interest in faith-based groups being willing not to discriminate among volunteers, hosts, or anyone who could offer assistance.

It makes no logical sense to shrink the pool of possible adoptive parents (as the article notes). 

 Religious objections seem to be based on the idea of making traditional (heterosexual) families feel more powerful and satisfied with their own marital sexuality as proven by procreation. But the law also adds to circular thinking, that gays are second class citizens for not having family responsibility. 


Monday, July 09, 2018

Outserve-SLDN announces new program for LGBTQ service members and veterans with mental health or substance issues



OutServe SLDN, Strive Health, and Veteran and First Responder Healthcare have announced a new program to assist LGBTQ service members with mental health or substance abuse issues, press release here
   
SLDN will obviously have to watch court behavior very closely with regard to Trump’s next appointment to the Supreme Court, to be announced tonight. So far the courts have been OK in forcing the Pentagon to allow transgender members to continue service in many circumstances, despite Trump’s attempts.
  
The new Court appointment will not have any affect on the repeal of DADT, because this was accomplished by Congress, not the courts. But watch the political climate in Congress this fall.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

How MCC inspired the National Council of Churches in the 1980s; a Trump SCOTUS still unlikely to undo gay marriage



Today, at MCC Nova in Fairfax VA, pastor Emma Chattin, in a sermon “Unsettling Wilderness Voices”, related a narrative how UFMCC never has had full accreditation with the National Council of Churches, but in 1983 (when I was living in Dallas and Don Eastman was pastor of MCC Dallas)  gave pastors from NCC the experience of a common communion.

There was also an interesting ethical question: some “voices” seem to come from “angels” ("messengers") or people with incredible activist ability (Hogg?) but others seem to come from others who need to have you give them attention (like on Facebook).  In he discussion, the idea of not having to believe your own thoughts came up as a mental health idea.
  
Walter Olson has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, reinforcing the idea that gay marriage will not be put in jeopardy by another Trump Supreme Court appointment. Roberts, Alito and Gorsuch all endorsed Kennedy’s very limited reasoning on the case, and the idea that public accommodations in general should not discriminate.  How would these justices feel about Sarah Sanders and the Red Hen?

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Lesbian married couple denied opportunity to volunteer as foster parents in immigration crisis; more on transgender ban



Lambda Legal reports on a serious case, where it is litigating against DHS and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, when they denied an application from a lesbian married couple to apply to become foster parents for a refugee child for religious reasons.
  
The couple is Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin, and both teach at Texas A&M in College Station, SE of Dallas.   The lambda legal link is here. The case is Marouf v. Azar.

I would be concerned here because religious organizations assisting DHS with the current immigration crisis should not use their own religious criteria in turning away volunteers.  This case dates back to February, before the worst of the crisis.

Public policy demands that, given the urgency of the border crisis, reconciling humanitarian need with the rule of law, government will need volunteer assistance and will need to expect social service agencies, however faith based, not to apply their own religious tests on volunteers.


I visited the border area myself May 30.  I’ve spent time in College Station only once, in 1982, when I was living in Dallas, to play in a chess tournament.

In the summer and fall of 2016 I did have some contact with Lutheran Social Services (through a local Presbyterian church in Arlington) and did not encounter any issues at all with sexual orientation of volunteers who would assist (Syrian, Iraqi or Afghan) refugees

But in 1980, Catholic Charities in Dallas was unwilling to accept gay volunteers to assist Cuban refugees from the Mariel Boatlift.



Lambda also reports on briefs today before the Ninth Circuit to block Trump’s partial transgender military ban, here