Sunday, April 30, 2017

More squashing of free speech by the Gay Left? Out and about

Freedom of speech seems to be a growing problem in “power structures” of the gay establishment.
Consider Bryan Pruitt’s article on the Red State Blog, saying that the whole mess in North Carolina was hot air in search of a problem (rather like gay libertarian Peter Thiel’s remarks at the RNC) here.

That led to Washington DC’s Capital Pride festival to demand his resignation as an event organizer, as explained in a complicated Blade story by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.   Pruitt may sound conservative and not overly sympathetic, but the tone of his article is a lot tamer than anything by Milo.

Tonight on “United Shades of America” on CNN, Kamau Bell (black) interviewed a trans person at Casa Ruby in Washington DC, which she said has helped several hundred LGBT immigrants (she didn’t say refugees or asylum seekers or get into the difference).  Later in the broadcast Kamau visited a potluck in Arlington VA organized for African refugees by a woman from Ethiopia (there is an Ethiopian art gallery in Old Town Alexandria).

Today, in a day trip in Virginia, I did eat at a fast food restaurant where I believe the shift supervisor is a female-to-male trans person.  This is more everyday than a lot of people realize

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Asylum Seeker Assistance Project holds fundraiser in suburban Maryland; more answers coming

I rather played hooked on the Climate Change march today, having gone to the March for Science last weekend, as I went to a reception in Bethesda, MS for ASAP, a new NGO, “Asylum Seeker Assistance Project”.   The event today was called “Together We Rise”.    DC Center Global was there.

I’ll comment more on my own involvement in the future, as it is still not certain.  I did speak to two attorneys, Jason Dzubow (“The Asylumist”) and Lindsay Harris, Assistant Law Professor of the University of the District of Columbia.  The law of the responsibilities for potential hosts for asylum seekers is not very well developed or specified in the United States, and tends to fall on personal values about risk v. responsibility, and access to social capital.  But there is a sense that maybe the purchase of shelters is a promising direction, and Maryland may be a better jurisdiction than Virginia or the District of Columbia.

Last night I visited “Post Cherry” at Town, after riding up the Green Line from Nationals Park, where I watched the Nats lose a game to the Mets upon returning home.  Major League Baseball can set an example with its openness to immigrant players.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

House introduces anti-conversion therapy bill; more on Safe Havens for youth and school censorship

Ted Lieu (D-CA) and others have introduced a “Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017”, (borrowed from the Senate as S. 928) allowing the FTA to classify “conversion therapy” as fraudulent.  LGBTQ people were born “perfect”, a Washington Post headline reads on April 27.

Lambda Legal has released a report (“Safe Havens”) on inadequate care of LGBTQ (especially transgender) youth in various kinds of care here
The National Coalition Against Censorship has also demanded an apology from a Tennessee school district over a takedown of a student’s pro GLBT art.

Monday, April 24, 2017

GLSEN National Day of Silence; Idaho on birth certificates

Lambda Legal reports here on GLSEN’s recent “Day of Silence”  to combat anti-LGBT bullying, link here.  The observation seems to be limited to students, but would demand people “shut up” to show solidarity.
Lambda Legal also announces that it is suing the state of Idaho for refusing to allow transgender people (minors) to change their legal gender on birth certificates.  In fact, many states attempting “bathroom bills” have allowed such changes and insist that the bathroom use match the certificate.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Texas considers clone of NC HB2 "pseudo-repeal" which is worse; Cherry circuit party in DC

The Washington Blade, in an article by Chris Johnson, is reporting that Texas is considering a bill modeled after North Carolina’s HB2 “repeal”.  There is a curious irony in this. The Texas bill. HB2899 would bar any city or county from adopting any anti-discrimination law based on any invented “protected class” not already recognized by state (or federal) law.  That would effectively nullify LGBT discrimination (with regard to employment and housing) bills in many cities like Dallas and Houston. But on the surface the bill sounds benign and abstract, since it does not specifically mention gender identity or bathroom use.  This parallels what happened in North Carolina.  The bill is also an alternative to the more specific Senate Bill 6.

I used to live in Dallas (1979-1988) and things have come a long way – in the big cities. The Dallas Voice has its story on the bill here.

I finally got around to looking into the DC Cherry Circuit Party today (link).  (Is it a bit like The Saint's Black Party in the past, March 25, 2012).   Down the street I see that an after-hours party was held at Flash this morning (next to the Uproar, see March 31).   The Cherry DC weekend raises money mostly for HIV charities (Doug Rule story for Metro Weekly).  I did visit the DC9 venue for dinner, but came home.  No time for it given the events in NYC and then the March for Science all day Saturday.  Will try next year.

There was a film "Circuit" in 2000 by Dirk Shafer about the White Party in Palm Springs.

Update: May 17

Here is more from a Houston station on the situation in Texas, which Phil Chandler shared today on Facebook, as long as his own article on his Facebook page (expect to see it  on Hubpages soon).

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hillary Clinton warns at fundraiser that Trump administration seems indifferent at best on LGBT issues

Hillary Clinton spoke at a fundraiser for the Center in New York City, where she warned that the Trump administration could roll back progress on LGBT rights, more because of his appointments than of Trump himself.  Outside of Kushner and perhaps Mattis, a number of other appointments have given some evidence of hostility in the past, even though they seem mum now.

Hillary mentioned the fact that gay men were simply pulled out of their homes in Chechnya, and that tge Russian government denies that gay people exist.  She was disappointed in the State Department’s underwhelming response. That would have been the equivalent of pulling out of home in high school because I was perceived as a “sissy”.

She also mentioned not being counted specifically in the 2020 Census or any special surveys.  (“Numbers”).  She also mentioned the Supreme Court.

The CNN story link is here. Hillary also mentioned the importance of the 2018 elections.

I was coincidentally in New York City last night for a New York Philharmonic concert.
The Washington Blade is now reporting that the policeman killed in the Champs in Paris yesterday was gay.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Nebraska state supreme court strikes down antiquated ban on gay couple foster parents

The Nebraska state supreme court has struck down a rule (M-95) prohibiting gay couples from becoming foster parents.  Slate has a typical news story here
There is some question as to how often it as enforced, and it was obviously not constitutional once same-sex marriage became the law of the land.

The rule could matter in asylum situations.  There are agencies (like the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition) which place unaccompanied minor immigrants (usually 16 or 17) with foster families while seeking asylum, although this is obviously very challenging.

Wikipedia attribution link for Pine Ridge NB phot by Spencer, CCSA 2.5 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

North Carolina GOP introduces bill to snub Supreme Court, make gay marriage and civil union illegal again

Four Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill, HB 780, to try to make gay marriage illegal in North Carolina. The AOL news story is here.

The bill would also make civil unions illegal and seems to deliberately flout the Supreme Court Obergefell ruling.
Curiously, I haven’t yet seen the story anywhere else but AOL.

Update: April 13

The bill was called the "Uphold Traditional Marriage Act" but the latest information is that the bill will not be heard (local television report)..

Here are a few more links talking about parole from ICE detention, especially for LGBTQ

It’s dangerous when “Bill” goes on a long day trip and researches more stuff on his smart phone at lunch.  I checked further yesterday (after a moving visit to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park south of Cambridge, MD, on the Eastern Shore).  This posting follows up a posting on April 1.

One disturbing report is that the Trump EO’s, even if held up by the courts, have resulted in slowing down the release of people (especially LGBTQ) from detention.  I’m not sure everyone reports this.
I also found more links about how getting someone paroled from detention works (especially Immigration Equality and Rainbow Welcome, affiliated with a “Heartland Alliance”).

There are some specific cases that are particularly disturbing, such as transgender females held with male detainees.  (ICE has very limited facilities for transgender people, just one place in California, as I recall).

It has been my impression (and at least one Virginia laywer told me this last October) that generally someone will be released on “parole” (possibly sometimes with ankle bracelets) only to a relative or to someone who knows the person well.  This still seems to be the case, despite references to “sponsors” ("pseudo" compared to how it is handled in Canada) who would guarantee housing and other financial support..  A relative or friend (and legal US resident) would have to put up the “bond” money in most cases.

It would be a good question to wonder whether a charity could set up to provide bond money, or whether some sort of “Give Well” or “Give Direct” setup could work.  But from reading the literature it looks as though ICE wants someone who knows the person already to put up the money.

QDEP in New York City, however, seems to be leading fundraising efforts to raise parole money for specific detainees, as with this example  but it’s a good question as to whether this is repeatable on any kind of volume of people.

This is still a very complicated topic, with reputable sources giving different details as to how things really work.

I have to say that the Tubman museum visit highlights one important concept, "resistance".

Monday, April 10, 2017

Chechnya is becoming the worst place in the world for gay men

One of the most awful stories about anti-gay policies in other countries seems to come from Chechnya, a semi-autonomous part of Russia that gave us the Tsarnaev brothers.  Here’s the Daily Mail version of the torture reports.

This part of the world seems to be super combative, super warrior-class, with unassimilated radical Islam at its worst.

No doubt we’ll hear about this with asylum seekers. It's no fodder for Facebook jokes.  No, Sessions isn't going to do anything like this.

Update: April 17

OutRight has a press release urging oil companies to condemn the anti-gay raids, here.

Russia seems oblivious, seems willing to accept extra-judicial or "honor" killings in autonomous (especially Muslim) areas.

Update:  June 5

Time Magazine report on p. 9 of the June 12 edition that France and Lithuania are considering taking in gay men as refugees from Chechmya;  Canada is considering;  the "U.S., however, said no visa exists for this kind of 'humanitarian relief'".

Friday, April 07, 2017

Trump appoints anti-gay state legislator as Secretary of the Army

President Donald Trump has chosen “Christian” conservative Tennessee state senator Mark Green to be Secretary of the Army, replacing the openly gay Eric Fanning.  There are multiple news stories, such as LifeSite  and the Nashville Post.

But the LifeSite article also noted at an open Lesbian (married legally to a female) was selected as commandant of the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.  (I have visited the grounds twice, in 1973 and 1994).  Trump seems unaware of unconcerned about gay issues with these appointments, but not deliberately hostile.  He should check with Jared Kushner on these matters.

The HRC sent an announcement by email tonight, along with an opposition petition and a request for a $75 donation.   I gave it, but I already contribute monthly through a bank. The script didn’t seem to check who was already a contributor.

The New York Times has a story by Helene Cooper and Maggie Haberman, here.   The article is disturbing because Green recently compared gay marriage obliquely to abortion (as if avoiding procreation were a kind of backdoor abortion, which may be what he believes).

Nathaniel Frank has analysis in Slate, recommended reading by Aarom Belkin at the Palm Center. And the Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel reports Green as having said that transgenderism is a disease.

It is hard to predict how he will behave with respect to the DADT repeal and more recent attempts to integrate transgender soldiers  Mattis has said he doesn’t care about soldiers’ private lives as long as it doesn’t affect the units.  Yet his book "Warriors and Citizens" suggests concern over the effect of rapidly changing social mores on military forces. Another possible area of concern could be security clearances for some civilians.

I do have one picture from the Food and Friends Dine Out at Freddie’s Beach Bar Thursday night.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

7th Circuit en banc rules that Federal Civil Rights law protects LGBTQ in the context of sex discrimination

The  Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in Chicago, ruled, 8-3, that sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace does violate federal civil rights law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act  ) as it is a form of sex discrimination.  The Indianapolis Star has one of the most detailed accounts of the opinions, the majority written by Diane Wood.   The case involved South Bend IB resident Kimberly Hively and her employment dispute at a tech college.  Judge Richard Posner argued differently in a concurring opinion, as he talked about interpretive context (as if to weigh in on the Gorsuch nomination, or to bulletproof the decision from a more "orginalist" court).

This en banc decision reverses a previous 2-1 loss;  here is the Opinion at Lambda Legal.

As this conflicts with a ruling from the 11th Circuit, (Atlanta) it is likely to wind up in the Supreme Court with a 5-4 “conservative” majority, but Kennedy and maybe Roberts could be hard to predict.
CNN has a similar story here

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Transgender exhibit greets Baltimore Light City show

Transgendered people put on a show at Light City in Baltimore tonight.

The exhibit stretched out at the entrance on Light Street. 

There are more than 2 genders.  Maybe 32, according to Rosenfles.

Of course, gender fluidity means there is a contnuum. 

I did walk into the Drinkery, which has a history. 

I bought a newspaper at the ex-Hippo, now a CVS store.

I paid a visit to Grand Central, which celebrates its 25 anniversary.

And here’s the “Bigotry Bus” (free speech?) story.  

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Immigrants' right group discusses detention for LGBT people at meeting in Washington DC today

Today, DC Center Global for the LGBT Community in Washington DC held a meeting that included a 90-minute presentation with QA by Kathryn M. Doan, Executive Director of Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (CAIR).

I had mentioned the organization and my previous knowledge of it in a posting on my own “footnotes blog” March 29 here.

The focus of the group was people in detention.  Someone who tells immigration he or she fears returning after expiration of a visa or on entry is usually placed in detention.  There are no detention facilities in the District of Columbia, but there are two in Virginia (Farmville and one near Williamsburg) and three in Maryland (Frederck, Ellicott City, and near Snow Hill MD on the Eastern Shore).  The Farmville facility is privately owned but run like a dormitory.

Persons can be “paroled out” sometimes, upon identification and provision by private source of housing. That is where Center Global might be able to assist.  However, I recall being told at a forum for refugee placement last July that Virginia law allows placement of refugees (and presumably asylum seekers) in private homes only of persons who knew the person before arrival in the country (usually relatives).  This would appear to be a difficult operation, unless the facts about a particular person in detention are somehow well known and verifiable.

It is not believed that the Trump administration has any inclination to try to narrow the application of the “credible fear” or “particular social group” concept in asylum seeking.  The administration appears willing to accept sexual orientation and gender identity as immutable traits in settled law.
However, the outcome of asylum claims tends to depend on the judges.  More judges from border areas may have duty soon in Arlington and in Baltimore, and judges or adjudicators in border areas seem to be stricter.  The Atlanta area has one of the worst approval rates.

Persons at airports trying to enter do not have constitutional protection until they clear customs.  Persons who are temporarily detained should “say nothing” and not give authorities real probable cause to detain them.

Persons who travel regularly overseas may find more interruptions in the Trump era, including citizens.  Persons from European countries who expect to earn a living in the US (such as musicians and actors) and with well established work records in the US (and perhaps Canada) should well consider citizenship application if possible.

Many travelers should consider wiping their phones.  I could add that LGBT US citizens who are public on media or online have to be careful about travel to non-democratic countries, including Russia, most Muslim countries, some African countries, which can be a serious matter for some employment or humanitarian work.  I wonder about popular tourist places like Egypt and Dubai,  Indeed the destruction in Iraq in areas with some of the world’s oldest civilizations is a real tragedy.

I did hear of an incident where someone traveling with methanol (I don’t know why) was forced to consume it at an airport and died quickly.

Here's a typical article on detention of LGBT immigrants and asylum seekers. In NYC there is a Queer Detainee's Empowerment Project (QDEP) which deserves more reporting.

CG said it was considering having some public town halls soon.

Update: May 5, 2017

The Washington Post has an important story by Michael E. Miller in the Metro section about "immigrant bail" practices out of detention, and the company Libre by Nexus, mentioned in the meeting April 1 by CAIR, link here.