Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Group will reach out to LGBT youth in the Southern Baptist Convention

I did get a press release from “Faith in America” today, so I thought I would pass along the URL.  The group announced a plan for bringing a message of protecting LGBT youth to the Southern Baptist Convention.

I certainly got my fill of the SBC when I lived in Dallas from 1979-1988 and hear some of Wallace Criswell’s sermons.  I grew up in the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, which is affiliated with both conventions.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

My own first time at the DC Eagle when all floors were open (Memorial Day party)

I did visit the DC Eagle for its Memorial Day party, starting at 4 PM.  I got there a little after 6.
Metro was running bus only on the orange line to the closest Metro station on Minnesota Ave about 1500 feet away, so I went to the Benning Road station on the Largo (normally Silver or Blue) line, about 4000 feet away.  The neighborhood is improving, with new apartment construction, with the site actually advertising for jobs.

Most of the people were on the deck outside the dance floor.  This was the first time I’ve been there when the large dance floor was open, as I have not been there late at night.  A female member of the MPD GLBT liason was there.  While we were there news of Bryce Harper’s brawl at the Nats game in San Francisco started getting around on people’s phones, but the baseball game didn’t happen to be on downstairs (as it often would be).

Monday, May 29, 2017

What would a president Pence be like now?

Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade has a piece looking at the prospect of a “successful” Trump impeachment or Trump resignation, and then having Mike Pence as president by accident.

Has Pence moderated his views since 2000 when he suggested conversion therapy as a strategy for HIV?  The essay seems to hint at a lot of softening of his views, out of necessity.

Trump generally has not been hostile to LGBT people (although he didn't support gay marriage until it became "the law of the land"), partly because he had a few LGB candidates on the Apprentice, and knows full well that a gay man or woman could definitely win the gauntlet.

Pence does seem to be the expert on North Korea, which along with some of the middle East has to be among the world’s worst for LGBT people.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Racism in the LGBTQ community: the boundary between organizational and personal is vague

Leadership of Capital Pride has been addressing the concerns of minority groups, especially “No Justice No Pride” (May 8), and Lou Chibarro, Jr. has a detailed and balanced article on their concerns in the Washington Blade for Memorial Day weekend, “Confronting racism in the LGBT community”, here.

The most remarkable sentence includes the language “…unless you are intentional in addressing the people of color and other minority groups, you are likely catering to the same white, cisgender, middle and upper class gay men…”   I encountered this sentiment when I moved into New York City in 1974, at the GAA Firehouse on Wooster Street in those days, and later at the Ninth Street Center, a little less so at Identity House.  This idea can operate at both levels, the organizational, and (as I recall from a broader youth sermon at an Arlington church from someone very cis) the “very personal”.

I think that organizations as a whole are quite responsive to various groups in the community.  This goes for HRC, but especially the DC Center, which has many specific social outreach programs (for example, to trans and the elderly).  But, as Nancy Pelosi once said, “Democrats are capitalists”.  Democratic capitalism has been our best system, but for some people, it comes out as elitist. We need corporations (even Trump’s own if he wants to come) in Pride.

It is certainly true, though, that as Washington DC (now the troubled NE part especially, as the area around the Eagle) gets gentrified, the poor people get driven out.

It's at a personal level that it gets challenging. As a gay male, my own tastes as to what is “interesting” are very narrow, and based on notions inherited from a segregated past.  Does this matter in the bigger stage?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Covert hate groups of lawyers infiltrate Trump administration and some state, watch group claims

Who has heard of this group, Alliance Defending Freedom, as described in “Media Matters”?
There are subsidiary groups of Allied Attorneys and the Blackstone Fellowships that support “Christian” lawyers, so to speak.

There is a community website with no public content which would seem a little suspicious.

Media Matters claims that some are serving in the Trump administration and various states.  But does their activity go beyond the fringe groups and the “Hobby Lobby” crowd?   Let the market dictate how credible they are?

One Facebook friend notes that the “bathroom bills” came about as a fantasy on the Right, that really could pay attention to more real terror and security threats.  Remember in 2004 when Santorum wanted to pass an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment and Feinstein criticized him for ignoring the anti-terrorism bill.

Picture: Pride sign in Frederick, MD (left side of photo)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

At Notre Dame, graduating students walk out on Mike Pence

At a conservative Catholic university in Indiana, many students at graduation walked out when Vice President Mike Pence spoke today, as in this NPR story and video.

The school is Notre Dame.  Canadian actor Richard Harmon (“Judas Kiss”) is known to follow the Fighting Irish football team .

Pence is notorious for having proposed conversion therapy as a way to meet AIDS back in 2000.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Some transgender people can sue under ADA, judge rules; "It gets better" comes under fire

Although this is not a judicial result that one wants to use to encourage overuse or “pimping” of disability in court, a federal court in Philadelphia, with judge Joseph Gleeson, has ruled that a transgender individual may file complaints under the Americans with Disabilities Act in some circumstances.  The plaintiff was Kate Lynn Blatt, and the Washington Blade story today is by Chris Johnson, link.

 The ruling considers some forms of dysphoria as legitimate disabilities.  This might include body dysmorphia, for example.

The Blade provided the PDF of the opinion.

The Blade also reports that the idea of “It Gets Better”, which even Ellen deGeneres has promoted, has come under criticism as appropriate as an answer for all LGBTQ bullying

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

LDS church pulls older teens out of Boy Scouts, half-heartedly denies it is about gay issues

The Mormon church (LDS) seems to be backsliding on the whole LGBTQ question, even if the church denies it.  It is separating older teens from the Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts and forming its own separate scouting group.

On Hubpages. Ralph Schwartz gives a detailed history here.

The BSA gradually reversed its policies (first for members and then leaders) after winning its legal case in the Supreme Court in 2000 on libertarian grounds – because of corporate and community pressures.   A lot of people in the Cato crowd liked it turning out this way.  I know of at least one gay teen in Virginia who became prominent in scouting.

The LDS used to be one of the prime supporters of BSA.

The BSA also recently accepted transgendered people recently.

This is quite a change from the 1980s when the BSA, located in Irving TX along Highway 183 as I remember, actually showed up at IT job fairs with jobs for programmers, and living there at the time, I felt wary.

LDS theology goes beyond the familiar evangelical interest in the “natural family” to speak of eternal marriage in the hereafter.  So the LDS church sees openness and dedication to procreation as a moral imperative, connected to eligibility for its version of heaven.  From the viewpoint of more recent writings in quantum physics and cosmology, there seems to be something to the idea that “distributed consciousness” does exist in nature with other animals (like social insects) and is connected to familial relationships.  It’s hard to grasp this in relation to the “I-ness” of individual life on Earth.

Picture: Salt Lake Temple taken by my father in the late 1920s.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

TrumpCare could remove affordable PrEP for many MSM, especially low income and minorities

Huffington Post has a rather alarming story about “TrumpCare” (so to speak) and HIV prevention, by Spenser Mestel.

Essentially because of the mentality that among gay men this is “behavior based”  need(as George Will once said) there will be a lot of pressure to allow insurance companies not to cover it.  And those thrown off insurance and likely to wind up with infection will be more likely to be minority and low income men.

Note the tone of the article, in terms of ending HIV once and for all.  PrEP is supposed to prevent infection.

Monday, May 08, 2017

"No Justice No Pride" seems quite aggressive in demands that Pride marches not admit police, corporations during the Age of Trump

Stephanie Higgins provides a vimeo from a group “No Justice No Pride”, in Spanish “Sim Justicis no hay  Orgullo” from Phoenix.

Sin Justicia No Hay Orgullo / No Justice No Pride from Stephanie Figgins on Vimeo.

The group wants Pride celebrations to deny corporations and police to march.

The video points out that Stonewall as actually started by two trans people, not cis males. It also talks about deportations

The group has a page on Facebook here.

And there in Phoenix the group was able to shut down the Phoenix Pride march, according to this report.

The group has a meeting at the Washington Peace Center on Constitution Avenue, story.

I found Lou Chibarro’s story on the group in the print edition page 1 May 5 but could not find the individual story separately.

Update: May 16, 2017

The Washington Blade has an op-ed by Mark Lee on the issue.

By Zarxos - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Private "Christian" colleges still fire people for pro-gay speech; Kentucky judge won't hear gay adoption cases

A few private “Christian” colleges have followed aggressive policies dismissing staff who support gay rights (especially gay marriage) even “off the job”.  The New York Daily News reports on Intervarsity.  And the Moorfield Storey Institute has a story on Montreat College near Asheville, NC,

But it has always been common for private “Christian” schools to maintain that sexuality should be reserved for procreation in marriage, as part of some collective scheme to get everyone to belong to a natural family that survives into the afterlife (Heaven).  If some people don’t go along, that weakens things for everyone else in their families, so the thinking used to go. It really is about procreation.

And there is a case of a family court judge in Kentucky who won’t hear gay adoption cases at all, even for legally married couples (Daily News).  Would “religious freedom” let him opt out?  But it seems self-contradictory:  one of the objections to homosexuality has always been the circular idea of avoiding responsibility for having to raise kids (and propagate the family).  The judge claims people who engage in homosexual sex “cannot help children”.

The Washington Blade reports that governors in both Tennessee and Alabama have signed bills which would allow religiously-based adoption agencies to refuse legally married gay couples to be considered without losing state funding, link

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Trump's religious freedom EO appears to have removed language on LGBT people or religious beliefs on homosexuality

Early today, as president Trump said “We are a nation of believers” and “But not only are we a nation of faith, we are a nation of tolerance” on the day of prayer, as he prepared to sign a “religious freedom” Executive Order, the Internet was reproducing February drafts of the EO, apparently influenced by VP Pence. Salon has an article three days ago reproducing the language such as “believes, speaks, or acts (or declines to act) in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life”  One problem with this order is logic:  some people are born with markers for both sexes (intersex).  So the language would have defied existing biology, despite itself.
But it also begs the question why some religious people want the sexual lives of others (besides their own spouses) to be their business.  In any case, sometimes the consequences for some people are real. They have been so for me (William and Mary).

The Investigative Fund had published a photo PDF of the February EO draft here.

 But Trump’s remarks focused on the Johnson Amendment  and his desire to allow religious organizations to participate as groups in the political process.

The Washington Post came out with the breaking news story on the EO, maintaining that it does not include specific anti-LGBT language, and the Washington Blade reported that the EO will affect churches, not LGBT people explicitly.

I do have an issue when churches want to speak for members, or employers want to do, or when any group tries to recruit is people to deliver its collective political agenda rather than encourage independent thinking.

The order apparently will include closely held for-profit groups run by religious groups (like some film companies).
We’re still waiting to see the final EO text;  the White House is a bit slow with this.


Here is the text of the order.

HRC, however, plays devil's advocate with this analysis.  It's hard to imagine a clerical worker, not using her own name, believing that her religion would not allow her to do her job once she had taken it. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Equality Act: Trump's anticipated religious freedom order

HRC has a petition supporting the Equality Act, link following a major news story about its introduction. Today 31 states lack civil rights protection on sexual orientation and gender identity issues.

As for the Executive Order regarding “religious freedom”, here’s an older letter on the topic sent to Trump on February 1   HRC has a petition on the matter here.   Politico reports Trump will sign the XO Thursday. Would the order apply to religious groups that receive federal funds?  That’s the scary part.

On the refugee issue, most of the mainstream faith-based social services agencies (based on Protestant or Catholic churches) seem to be fine in handling LGBT refugees.  The administration could argue that some narrower religious groups do help provide services to their own people and must be allowed the freedom.  In practice, the order is very unlikely to affect GLBT Americans.

There have been a few issues though with a few charities.  One local church broke ties with World Vision in supervising youth group “famines” for hunger because of reported ties to anit-gay efforts in Africa.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Major symposium on LGBTQ rights overseas soon; asylum cases win; more science on intersex

The Center for Strategic and International Studies presents a symposium on May 17, “The Economic and Security Dimensions of Protecting LGBT Rights”, announcement here.

Center Global announced April 30 that three asylum seekers had been granted asylum, two from Uganda and one from India.

In the Health and Science section of the Washington Post Tuesday, May 2, 2017, Karly Domb Sadof has an article on intersex people and how one was treated in the Ukraine (as a “zoo animal”).

Let's bear in mind a Washington Blade opinion piece that this year we will not have "Pride as usual".  There is a picture of 1976 Pride.