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. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Tanzania suspends US-funded HIV program on grounds that it promotes male homosexuality (Yes, an African country has really done this!); arrests for Facebook friending of gays possible

When it comes to anti-gay laws and culture, it seems like eastern Africa is now the absolutely bottom.

 The Washington Post has a front page story Thanksgiving morning “Oppressed African gays now face loss of HIV aid”, or, online, “Tanzania suspends U.S. funded AIDS program in new crackdown on gays”, a story by Kevin Sieff.  The ban was announced in October (before the provocative US election) after the “health minister” Hamoso Kigwangalla, said that HIV treatment programs promote male homosexuality. Then in October Ummy Mwalimu stated that US HIV programs were suspended to examine whether they encourage same-sex relationships.

The program had been called PEPFAR, or the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, actually instituted during the Bush administration.

The political situation for gays in Tanzania  has deteriorated since the election of Magufuli, through his political appointments.  One governor, Paul Makonda, threatened to arrest all those who friend or follow “known homosexuals” on Facebook.  This is the first time I have heard of social a draconian threat involving social media.  It isn’t hard to imagine how that could lead to more asylum claims in the U,S.  – men who had behaved “straight” but then self-outed on social media when on visas in the United States or western countries.

The article also mentions “anal tests” for past  receptive homosexual activity as being done in Uganda and upheld by the courts.  I had never heard ot this,

The rhetoric reminds me of the extreme right in Texas in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when a group called “Dallas Doctors Against AIDS”, seeing AIDS as driven by “conduct” within a circumscribed group,  tried to push a draconian enhancement of the sodomy law through the Texas legislature in the spring on 1983.  It did not get out of committee.

The rabidly anti-gay policies of some sub-Saharan countries (which seem like a political exploitation or religion and of certain beliefs about group fertility) would make it very hard for many western companies to send technical workers there, or for non-profits and churches to aid them.

Wikipedia attribution link of picture of Sar es Salaam, by Chin Hualin, link here

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

New HIV vaccine tested in Australia looks promising; anti-retroviral drugs may stop transmission

Australian researchers are reporting a promising new approach for an HIV vaccine, by piggy-backing it on a common cold virus (which is RNA) and also on a harmless DNA virus, to produce very early defenses to keep the virus from entering T helper cells, An ABC affiliate in Australia reports here.

Time Magazine, p. 38 of the Nov. 28 issue, “The Race to Zero”, by Alice Park, describes efforts to eliminate HIV transmission by 2030.  It is still more commonly transmitted among lower income gay men (especially of color) than other groups.  Anecdotally, obvious disease is not common among “everyday” gay social circles as it was 20 years ago.
An article in Time this summer indicates that antiretroviral drugs may stop the transmission of HIV even without condoms.   It seems as though side effects are probably minimal for most men.  But of course the meds have to be paid for.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mother who fought for end of DADT passes away

Patricia Kutteles, who fought for the end of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” has passed away at 67.
Kutteles was the mother of PFC Barry Winchell, who was beaten to death by a homophobic soldier, now in prison, after taunts, at a post in Kentucky, in 1999.  The New York Times story by Sam Roberts is here.

Winchell’s murder was depicted in the 2003 Showtime film “Soldier’s Girl”.  SLDN (now Outserve) gave considerable coverage to the incident when it happened.

The Lifetime movie “Any Mother’s Son” (1996) had depicted the murder in Sasebo, Japan of Navy Sailor Allen Schindler in 1992 (before Clinton’s DADT) in another homophobic attack.  Scattered incidents happened throughout the 1990s, including one while I was on vacation in 1994 which, when I read about it in a local Colorado newspaper in a diner, inspired me to my first DADT book.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

History professor questions whether "gay Republican" is an oxymoron

Jim Downs, a history professor at Connecticut college, has created controversy by claiming that Peter Thiel is not “gay”, and then espouses his antipathy to “gay” Republicans (Log Cabin) and probably libertarians in a controversial Advocate article on Facebook this morning.

I have some antipathy to “identity politics” and behaving out of group “solidarity”.  I don’t get my sense of identity by belonging to a group, which makes both the Left and Right potentially dangerous to me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

St. Johns Wellness Center in Los Angeles supports transgender programs

The St. John’s Wellness Center in Los Angeles reports on a transgender beauty pageant with Caitlin Jenner in an article here.

It also reports on the extreme poverty of some transgender people here.

The press release:

This year marks the deadliest year on record for trans people, and with the current political climate, it could get even worse. Now more than ever is a time honor the lives lost and educate others on how to make the world a safer space for this community.

Committed to changing the wave of discrimination and offer a safe space, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center created and implemented the Transgender Health Program (THP), the only Los Angeles community clinic with a comprehensive transgender-focused health program and one of only five in the nation.
They are hosting two events focused on this message and mission:

2nd Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance: Friday November 18 from 12pm – 2pm
o Guests and speakers include members of the Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. City Mayor’s Office along with St. John’s staff and transgender patients.
Transgender Town Hall: Tuesday, November 22 from 10am-3pm
o Speakers include Trans Activist President & CEO Trans Latina Coalition, Bamby Salcedo and Adrian Acencion Martinez, Community Organizer at theTransgender Law Center to discuss daily obstacles this community faces and long-term solutions in this political climate.
WHERE: 808 W. 58TH ST., Los Angeles, CA 90037, Megan Noller, O: 855.438.3553 C: 424.634.8370

Facebook Transgender Day of Remembrance Photos here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trump DOD could become more "manly"; dispute over religious freedom bilss; Trump on gay marriage

A story by Rowan Scarborough in the Washington Times  reports that the new defense secretary will be pressured to restore “warrior mentality” in the US military, link here,  calling for the need for a “counter-revolution” to reverse social engineering. The specific concerns were about transgender troops in the military, women in infantry, and the use of the word “man” in certain areas of military correspondence.  The call was for a return to “warrior mentality”, which sounds like an attack on changes in gender roles.

There was an interchange on Facebook today about the extent and significance of VP elect Mike Pence’s homophobia.  I attracted ire by maintaining that some religious freedom bills are no big deal, and tend to rarely matter.  But it is true, that a public accommodation for profit or a commercial business open to the public should not be allowed to discriminate against customers on gender-related issues or anything else.  In some areas of the country, that could add to more divisions and libertarian arguments might not always work.  But inside a church, religious groups can do what they want  They should consider why what others do matters to them so much.

President-elect Trump says that same-sex marriage is settled law and he has no objection to it.  Abortion is another matter. But he has asked Justice Ginsberg to resign today (WSJ)!

The New York Post has a somewhat reassuring piece on what a Trump administration will do here (was in Rick Sincere's Daily Paper from Charlottesville, also).

Nov. 16

But Pink News reports that Trump has considered that he would appoint William Pryor, former Alabama attorney general, who tried to defend the Texas sodomy law before Lawrence v. Texas., story by Patrick McCormick. (shared on Facebook by Jack Andraka, who wanted to give Trump "a chance").  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

AIDSWalk and 5K run in Washington is protest-free, but now there is a protest near Trump Hotel

This year, AIDSWalk (or Walk and 5K to End HIV) was held today, Nov. 12, 2016, after the change in time back to standard, meaning more daylight.

It was breezy and chilly in Washington, but still warm enough in the sun, for shorts.

Many participants ran a 5K race.

There was one hiphop band at the finish line.

There were no protests near the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave during the walk, but there are Saturday night. Trey Yingst of OANN reports now.

Friday, November 11, 2016

AGLA 35th Anniversary Party in Arlington VA tonight

The Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (AGLA) held its 35th Anniversary reception and dinner tonight at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City.

The menu included chicken and rice, no Cornish game hen (a past favorite of SLDN).

Speakers included someone who defended the necessity of drag as a political statement, then TJ Flavell (president), then a Virginia State senator (Ebbin), a transgender assistant Defense Secretary (for energy procurement), and Gavin Grimm, plaintiff in a major transgender case regarding school bathroom use, before the US Supreme Court (story).  There was also a telling of the sorry story of the Marshall Newman amendment, from 2006, which had tried to ban gay marriage in Virginia.

Early on, one drag queen definitely played the game of "reveal".

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

How will Trump behave on LGBTQ issues?

How bad is it?  That is, Donald Trump’s upcoming presidency for LGBTQ people?  To be fair, off the bat, Trump has said very little about LGBTQ, although Peter Thiel spoke openly at the convention, and Trump (stumbling over the "Q") said that the greatest threat to gay people was crime and terrorism, like it is for everyone else, he claims.  He did discuss the atrocity at the Pulse in Orlando in graphic terms in one of his speeches at the convention.

Vox has an alarming article by German Lopez, but the details aren’t quite as alarming as the hysterical title of the article.  Vox offers its usual card stack on trangender problems,

Slate has an article "Yes, Donald Trump would be a catastrophe for LGBTQ rights in America" by Mark Joseph Stern,  Most of the details are remote technical arguments related to federal funding that in practice rarely come up for many more affluent LGBT people (who may be more likely to identify with LCR, below, or with libertarianism).  Yet, I know of serious cases even in IT. In 2006, a contractor was fired because a client in Wyoming wouldn't work with LGBT people. ENDA would not get far in the new regime.

David Mariner of DC Center Global also as a nice article, “The New Normal”, emphasizing mental health, here.   He predicts the gay community will be playing defense.

Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, lists some predictions here .   He does fear that Trump could stop the integration of transgender into the military, if viewed as a frivolous complication for combat deployments.  (I'm not yet finding much concern that the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" could be undone, against the advice of military commanders now.)  Whether gay marriage would be undermined by a future Supreme Court sounds somewhat unlikely.  But religious freedom laws (by states) are likely to be upheld, although in practice relatively few employers and businesses ever try to use them, and there is tremendous practical pressure from big time sports (MLB, NFL, NBA) on states not to implement these laws.

 And the “bathroom bill” matter is likely to stall.  I’ve never been personally too concerned about the bathroom issue, but a recent AGLA forum on the matter made it clear that some transgender teens feel that they cannot safely use any bathroom in public schools.

Log Cabin Republicans , on Sept. 30, maintained that Trump is not a threat to LGBTQ progress, although in some areas progress could stall.  One  point concerns “New York Values”, which Ted Cruz had accused Trump of having.

A few prominent LGBTQ people in sciences and in entertainment have expressed disgust at the election (with the four-letter word in tweets).  There is particular disgust at Trump’s implicit racism among young adult white gay men.  No one counts on remaining privileged forever.

Trump’s adult kids (especially the oldest, Donald Jr, who will run dad’s real estate empire) seem a lot more responsible and temperate in what they say than The Donald himself.

Update: Nov. 10

The Washington Times claims that Trump actually held an LGBT flag in Colorado, brief story.

The National Organization for Marriage announced its agenda, which exposes its addiction to the idea of monopolizing and controlling other people's relationships.

Update: Nov12

A Facebook post that I am tagged in suggests the Pence has reaffirmed that LGBTQ rights will go (as Pence speaks to "homophobic" groups on the religious rignt.  If you read the actually ("US Uncut")  link, which indeed does pander to fears of the Christian right, all Pence really says is that he respect individual religious freedom. The headline as a lot of hyperbole.

The latest Blade list on XO's that Trump could undo is at the end of this article.  It would be possible to deny same-sex married partners equal immigration consideration.

Peter Thiel is part of the Trump transition team, but that's good mainly on the clean energy and power grid security issues (because Thiel has supported inventor Taylor Wilson).

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Technology enables female-to-male transgender people to have their own future children while female by storing ova

I did get an email from the Southern California Reproductive Center (SCRC) , which offers the possibility for female-to-male trans people to freeze eggs and have their own children after becoming men.
Dr. Shahin Gadir has a transgender (female-to-male) client who used such a procedure.

Men could also save their sperm before transition to female.

I’ve always been morally skeptical of surrogacy and plans to intentionally bring children into the world if you know they will not have male and female parents in advance.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

So, older LGBT adults don't need another "forum"

David Mariner, from the DC Center for the LGBT Community, wrote a long piece on Facebook this morning about “forums” for LGBT older adults --  somewhat in reaction to an AARP proposal to hold a forum in Ward 4.  But this is really a piece about forums based on “identity politics”.
You may need to be logged on to Facebook to view the post.  It would be nice to see the Blade run this.

It’s hard for me to wrap around the idea of another “group” because I’ve stayed so independent.  But you go into any assisted living center, and find the ambition level for most residents very low, and the need for stimulation high – with the exception of a tech savvy elderly person with physical disabilities but a computer in his room (I saw that in a visit to Ohio in 2006).

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Troubling (and very sensitive) news stories considering potential safety of people from Zambia and Venezuela

Since I have considered the possibility of hosting an asylee and can’t say how this is going to turn out (I'll detail some considerations from my own situation angle on Wordpress soon), I was at least hesitant to report these stories immediately.

But I’ll pass along a couple links from the Blade without much comment.

One of them concerns the arrival of at least two activists from Venezuela, as reported by Michael Lavers in the Washington Blade here Monday.  The Washington Post has a story about Venezuela's barring of journalists.

The other is a story about the apparent disappearance of an asylum seeker and physician from Zambia, someone who had been working with the Global Health Corp.

 The. Lavers story on this incident is here.  But there is a lot of background, much of it bizarre, in a Twitter index here.  Any visitor who know anything material about this matter is encouraged to contact the Washington DC Police Department at the number shown.

Update: Nov. 3

At midday Nov. 2, the Washington DC Police Department tweeted that the Zambian asylum seeker had been found and was safe.  The Blade just put up a story this morning here.