Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump agrees to continue Obama's LGBTQ protections, as a pleasant "surprise"

Trump has promised to leave in place a 2014 Obama administration executive order protecting LGBTQ persons in federal and related contractor workplaces. Jeremy Peters has the New York Times story here.

Chris Johnson's account for the Washington Blade is here.

Dan Tracer reported the story on Queerty, claiming Trump bragged about his record on LGBTQ rights.  In the mean time, it looks like Pryor will not be Trump's Supreme Court nomination.


A later Blade story signaled lingering unease about Trump's intention today. Trump seems to like individuals, including GLBTQ people, who seem charismatic and whom he can process as "winners" (I wonder if Trump would hire Milo Yiannopoulos as an "apprentice"), but dislikes connection to personal "weakness".  Well, to be honest, a lot of us behave personally as if we feel this way, until we are pushed by others toward "solidarity" - or, as they say in faith communities, "fellowship" (as in "Lord of the Rings").

The Advocate reported today that Ted Cruz and Mike Lee will introduce a religious freedom bill ("First Amendment Defense Act") targeting LGBT people in certain kinds of situations today. The biggest problem comes with faith-based groups that get federal or government funds.  When refugee processing resumes (in 120 days), the system will involve faith-based service agencies as intermediaries helping refugees.  I would fear that they could refuse to help LGBT refugees from hostile countries.  Generally, most of them have not shown any inclination to do this.

But in 1980 Catholic Charities refused to help Cuban refugees or hosts known to be gay.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump administration won't deny anti-LGBT XO reversals are possible

LGBTQ interests became much more concerned today when Sean Spicer refused to answer a question from Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade about future executive orders that could remove protections from President Obama.  Spicer would not prove the negative – deny that that an anti-gay order is possible.

The biggest concern is removal of protection of employees of federal contractors, or possibly employees.  There is concern that “religious liberty” clauses would allow people using federal funds to refuse to participate in offering services, such as adoption services to same-sex married couples, on religious grounds while holding publicly funded jobs (like Kim Davis in Kentucky).

This gets into what I have called “conflict of interest” – whether performing a job is a personally expressive act or simply a job function that an employer takes full moral ownership of.

American Blog has a rather strident but speculative account of the possibilities here.

Chris Johnson’s own account in the Blade Monday evening is here.

So far there is no direct talk that this goes into other areas, like the military, or high level security clearances.  (A gay man is Secretary of the Army, an Obama appointment.)

However, it contradicts the optimism of Log Cabin Republicans, reported yesterday, about working constructively with the new administration and Congress.  One practical problem is the perceived hostility of Trump’s rural and lesser educated voter base to progressive ideas like LGBT equality in a zero-sum mentality.

Logo reports on a gay chemical engineer working in San Francisco, from Iran, who was held at Fort Lauderdale on a cruise but finally allowed back into the country late Sunday, account.

But another Iranian immigrant has been denied admission so far, according to a Blade story today.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Log Cabin Republicans may become more influential than HRC in the Trump era

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has a lead story in the Washington Blade, “Move Over HRC” Friday, Jan. 27, in a story that appeared before Donald Trump’s controversial executive order affecting refugees late Friday.  The “subroutine” is “Log Cabin emerges as lead LGBT group in Trump Era”, link .

The story mentions a meeting held Saturday January 21, 2017 at a “T Party” at the Capitol Hill Club, in which LCR met with some people from the Trump campaign. I’m not in the in group on this, but I used to be more so, back in the 1990s (at that time writer Dan Blatt was in Washington and active).

 There was networking them also with Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty, GLIL, which has had a hard time getting much traction in recent years.

A certain insularity has developed amount more “conservative” gays, who often tend to live very independent lives in their own separate bubble arenas and not get affected much by policy changes.

The LCR page supports Betty Devos and claims Trump supports LGBT rights personally, partly because he seemed to treat gay candidates well on “The Apprentice” (although he doesn’t like Rose O’Donnell, but that’s for other reasons).  Trump did mention LGBTQ people as targets of radical Islam.

LCR could try to help protect federal workers (especially those with clearances) and military service members (maintaining DADT repeal and transgender integration – these goals tend to appeal to conservative gays, and are bolstered, for example, by the narrative of a transgender former Navy Seal.

I think LCR could help the GOP in Congress reach a reasonable solution in health care, in a manner that would somewhat protect coverage for HIV treatment and prevention.  One way would to become influential in discussions about how pre-existing conditions should be managed in an acceptable manner – keeping it from increasing premiums for ordinary Americans on individual plans who voted for Trump because of outrage over Obamacare premium increases.

Lambda Legal sent an email expressing odd displeasure about LGBT people being made chess “pawns” in the executive order which mentioned “sexual orientation” as a particular target of radical Islamic terrorism.

I got to the White House demonstrations in Lafayette Park today late. I think about 20% of the crowd was LGBT.  An odd alliance with Muslims and new political bedfellows.  17th Street was crowded (JR’s), possibly from the demonstrations.

There is some talk of making Capital Pride 2017 a March on Washington (like 1993, 2000).

Friday, January 27, 2017

LGBTQ advocates brace for Trump's orders against refugees, possibly interfering with asylum seekers too

Michael K. Lavers has an article in the Blade, LGBTQ advocates condemn Trump’s expected immigration orders, yet it doesn’t go into the asylum issue very much.

It is true, however, that some refugee applications come from LGBTQ people, especially from “Islamist countries, although the sub-Saharan African area seems to be the worst.
More difficult is that apparently all refugee processing will be suspended for 120 days as the DHS reinvents is screening procedures.

On the other hand, the draft executive order specifically says people should be excluded if they show hostility to others based on sexual orientation (usually that’s based on religion, especially Islam).

Trump was expected to issue an XO today at 4:30 PM at the Pentagon.

Of particular concern is what happens to asylum applications already in place. Another remote concern would be whether refugees could be sent back.

A week ago, Lavers ran a story about a former foreign service officer who was fired from the State Department in 1967, ten years after a tryst in a men’s room, after the other person “named names”.  Back in 1967, Mike Wallace had aired that notorious CBS report “The Homosexuals” when Dean Rusk had said “when we find homosexuals, we discharge them.”

Monday, January 23, 2017

Trump's sacking of Obamacare a grave threat to MSM needing PrEP and protease inhibitors ("moral hazard")

It may sound counterintuitive that an individual health plan would pay for PrEP, but it looks like some men have found ways to make this work, as with this one story on Blogger from Minnesota.
Andrew Sullivan, in 2015, had written about the controversy over the “gay men’s Pill” here.  It’s important to note that PrEP requires medical supervision and some blood work, especially for liver function.

Kaiser Health has a detailed posting about “tiers” of drugs for HIV infection and cancers, under Obamacare, from early 2016, here.
It’s pretty obvious that a “repeal” of Obamacare and a “replacement,” which would purport to separate pre-existing conditions into publicly funded mechanisms (mostly for the better for the general public), would put affordable access to both PrEP and probably protease inhibitors at risk, as they would seem to be related to “behavior”.  “Moral hazard” will become a conservative and Trump-ian buzzword (and not just on Buzzfeed).  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

First Baptist Church in Washington DC starts conversations on recognizing same-sex unions

Today, I did attend the conversations at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC about inclusiveness, as to whether the congregation would accept or welcome the performance of same-sex marriages in the Church.

There was a soup and sandwich luncheon, and then we divided into small groups of about six.
We were asked not to film and to keep the personal contents of the discussions confidential, except for our own statements.

As a general level, I’ll note that the excitement and disruption in Washington this weekend over the inauguration did not disrupt holding the talks (and there is one more next Saturday).  There were no unusual traffic or access problems today near the Church.

Furthermore, there seems to be little concern that the new administrations is actually likely, in practice, to have a negative effect on LGBTQ people.

I can say that there were remarks to the effect that marriage is an extremely important experience for most people who actually do it, and that there is no intrinsic reason why this would not be so for same-sex couples.  There is understanding that same-sex couples often do raise children.

There was understanding that in the developing world, hostility to homosexuality is common and much of it appears connected to local religious beliefs, some of which are deliberately provoked by “conservative” outside interests.

I did give a history of anti-gay attitudes in the past, even mentioning my own William and Mary expulsion in 1961.  I mentioned sodomy laws in the past, the AIDs epidemic, and the debate over gays in the military and DADT policy that emerged under Bill Clinton.  (I forgot to mention security clearances.)  There was acknowledgement that legal acceptance of gay marriage had developed rather quickly and suddenly.

I had actually started my own comments by noting that Dr. Pruden had been very progressive on civil rights and ending segregation in the 1950s.  Because the Church is so close to the White House, it is influential.  Pruden’s influence may have helped accelerate civil rights once Kennedy and particularly Johnson were in office.  The acceptance of interracial marriage (the film “Loving”) got mentioned.

I then said that history shows that what the Church congregation does will be noticed.  Most likely if the congregation accepts performing same-sex marriages, the press will report it, and Congress, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court and White House will at least learn of if subliminally.  It was noted that because the Church is in both Baptist conventions, there could be some influence on the rest of the denomination, at least among more moderate or divided congregations.  So, by analogy to the Election that the “swing states”, “your” vote here counts more politically than normal, even if discussions are confidential.

It appears that this is viewed as a procedural, and not doctrinal matter.  It is not clear yet how the issue will be decided. A vote would sound possible. More details will be available later as they develop and become more public.

There is an issue for me, of course, with the way I run my own journalism and blogging.  There is a tendency for me to view anything that happens as having potential public significance, at least in setting examples, even if it concerns private citizens acting in a private mode.  I don’t like to work in “Snapchat” mode (in fact, I don’t use the app).

Saturday, January 21, 2017

GLBT lawyer warnings about Islam and immigration, in a manner that sounds like Trump; White House takes down LGBT links

Shannon Gilreath has an op-ed in the Washington Blade going against conventional liberal wisdom, “Europe’s Islam Problem and U,S. Immigration Policy”.   She is a lawyer and says she has normally fought for gay rights as part of the liberal left.  But she provides warnings of what she says is evidence that even in the west Islam is hostile to tolerating homosexuality among anyone.  Perhaps this goes along with what Trump or even Ted Cruz would say.

The Blade also has article about Log Cabin trying to lobby to keep the XO protecting LGBT employees in federal service (I could wonder about security clearances, especially in intelligence agencies – but we have rulings like Obergefell, and Mattis seems OK with gay soldiers) and about the disappearance of the LGBT page from the White House website, as well as Nikku Haley’s reassuring statement on non-discrimination.  We’ll come back to this later.

And soon we'll have to look at how Trump's repeal of Obamacare could affect people with HIV.  It's not that easy even now.

Kaiser has a detailed discussion on pre-existing conditions before and after Obamacare, and HIV infection usually is considered pre-existing.

Update: Feb. 12

An opposing view to Gilreath's article appears on p. 21 under Viewpoint, Feb. 10, link here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Chelsea-aka-Bradley gets commuted sentence from Obama on his way out

President Obama has commuted most of the remaining sentence of Chelsea Manning for her “Wikileak: in 2010, NY Times story here.

In 2013, activists were informing us that Bradley was Chelsea, particularly on the Mall in DC, passing by a particularly virile 78-inch guy who had visited Town recently on 18-20 night.
Chelsea-Bradley, however, was an outlier in the whole history of gays in the military.  Other people who had performed as Navy Seals later turned out to be transgender – more than one.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Female couple, legally married, with co-pastor historic church in downtown Washington DC; another development on Orlando

A legally married female couple, Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen, will become co-pastors of Calvary Baptist Church in downtown Washington DC on 7th St, according to a Washington Post story by Michae; Allison Chandler, here.

First Baptist has sometimes participated in co-events, like choral concerts, with Calvary, over many decades.

I have a picture of Calvary somewhere, but I’ll take another one probably tomorrow because the Refugee Ball will be nearby.  (Note: 1/17: done).

Another important story this morning concerns the arrest of the Noor Salman, the wife of the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, in California, on federal obstruction of justice charges, and on abetting a terror organization, New York Times story.    The event broke on our cell phones while I was at a day of service volunteer event in Washington today.  Everyone stopped and read the story on their phones.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mattis (DOD) and Pompeo (CIA) promise Senators to keep hands off social changes on gay issues

James Mattis, Trump’s appointment for secretary of Defense, was questioned on his feelings about social changes in the military by the Senate this morning.  This followed questions where Mattis seemed to disagree with Donald Trump on having an accommodating policy toward Russia and Vladimir Putin. The Russian 2013 anit-gay law did not come up, but Mattis is probably aware of how the law was a prelude to other aggressive behavior by Putin.  The Senators certainly must also be aware of Mattis's book ("Warriors and Citizens") where Mattis does discuss how the military has had to accomodate changes in social values and even covers the past military draft in a manner similar to my own writings.  Mattis did mention the "volunteer" force very early today. 

Mattis said that what consenting adults do in their own bedrooms should not be the government’s business, even in the military (when not on duty).  His attitude seemed to be more like the “Don’t Pursue” idea that Bill Clinton had coined in 1993.  He said he would not go looking for problems, or seek to change existing policies with regard to gays, women, or (probably) trans, unless problems are brought to attention.  He seemed to be aware that in exceptional circumstances women and transgender persons are capable of serving in various special forces, even it is statistically uncommon (which “Milo” once said on Breitbart).  In rare cases, trans (for intelligence deception) could be desirable for a mission.
Ted Kopan, of CNN, however opinionated that Mattis left wiggle room for right wing demands for rollback of policies. 

Later, Mike Pompeo was questioned about the CIA.  Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked whether he would leave his personal religious views on homosexuality our in supervising employees, and offer equal treatment to LGBTQ employees (who have been eligible to work for the CIA since 1996).  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Virginia transgender bill 1612 sounds very restrictive

The Williams Institute at UCLA reports on Virginia's HB1612, as restricting student and adult transgender use of bathrooms to original birth certificate biological gender, article here. It doesn't seem as though there is a provision to allow parents to let the child change the gender on the certificate. The law would also apply to public buildings, and would require notification of parents if a student tries to get the pronoun of his/her person changed.

Some transgender students say they are not allowed to use any bathroom. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Famous Washington DC Baptist church will resume conversations on same-sex marriage

The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC will hold conversations about inclusion in the church, and this apparently will include congregational input as to whether the church should perform same-sex marriages.  The announcement was in the Sunday bulletin here.

There was a previous announcement Nov. 2, 2015 and a delay announced Jan. 17, 2016 when a new pastor, Julie Pennington-Russell, started.

It’s likely that the congregation, which has always had a split between conservative and liberal members, will be pretty evenly divided on this.

But the idea of physical complementarity and procreation potential is much less important to younger adults than it was to older generations.

During the 1950s (actually from the late 1930s until 1969) Dr. Edward H. Pruden was pastor, and one of the most progressive on race in his era, despite having been raised in Richmond.  It may well be said that without his influential sermons, many of which I heard as a boy, the Civil Rights movement would have taken longer, especially to get presidential and congressional support in the 1960s.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Lambda Legal warns on Jeff Sessions as a "grave threat" on marriage, military issues

Lambda Legal has issued a rather strident press release about the confirmation hearings for Trump’s choice for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, link here.
The press release was sent by email this morning.

Of course, the military issues belong with DOD, not DOJ;  and it’s not very easy to pass a constitutional amendment (I knew that when I authored chapter 6 of my first DADT book in 1997).
Trump says he accepts gay marriage as settled law.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Gay refugees and asylum seekers brace for Trump; QDEP calls for end of detention centers but has no idea how to support the asylum seekers

Julie  Moreau, Ph. D. has an important article on NBC News, “LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Group braces for Trump Administration”, link here.

The article was posted today on Center Global’s Facebook Page.

The article mentions a group in New York City, the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project
The article mentions Trump’s conservative (or sometimes alt-right) cabinet picks, with particular concern about Jeff Sessions.

The group wants to close all detention centers, but understands the climate of fear after 9/11 in which they were built or reinforced.

But generally asylum seekers (LGBT or not) are not released from detention until people who know them personally agree to support them. (For many months, asylum seekers are not allowed to work or get benefits and must be supported by private sources or individuals if they don't have assets and are not in detention.)  Groups like QDEP and Center Global need to think through much more clearly and express transparently what they need.  There have been requests for housing hosts, but no discussion of the risks or legal issues involved.  It’s easy to imagine fund raisers or donors to purchase buildings to provide shelters.

This topic has been covered on my newer Wordpress blogs in more detail and I’ll return to it soon.
I have to add, that Russia’s 2013 anti-gay propaganda law (based on ideas about demographic winter and fecundity) was a prelude to other horrible behavior by Putin (whose macho photos show no chest hair).

Sunday, January 01, 2017

"The Town" at midnight New Year's

The Metro stayed open until 3 AM, for the first time since May (and only for New Year’s Eve) and fares were “free” after midnight, but  ridership was light.  The wait times on the Green Line were still 20 minutes.  People have gotten used to doing without. Rather like doomsday preppers.

The party seemed to dispense with the drag show, but had a can-can upstairs after midnight.

Both levels were packed, and people were lively.  The music tended to be pretty hip-hoppish at times.