Monday, July 31, 2017

Conversation about LGBT asylum seekers; day trip into gay Trumpland

Sunday night I did enjoy a salmon dinner at Freddie’s, a regular AGLA social event.  I did have a conversation with someone who told me he was interning at DC Center, and his duties included working with Center Global.

I did say that I considered hosting in am inherited Arlington VA home, but that in the suburban circumstances more removed from regular volunteer help in DC (like around Logan Circle, etc), anyone would probably become a dependent.  There are legal questions as to a host’s responsibilities and possible liabilities, which need to be looked at first; and a private meeting that could have adequately explored these has never taken place.  A new call for hosts was linked here July 19.

I am in the process of considering selling the inherited trust house, so right now my own participation in hosting is not possible.

Today, I made a day trip to Solomon’s Island and had lunch at the Kingfishers  which I had heard about at AGLA.  The town appeared to have some LGBT residents and homeowners, but yet was conservative.  After lunch, I drove around and I met an older woman near the museum and got into a conversation about Trump right after my iPhone beeped Scaramucci’s firing.  She supported Trump, and felt that Obama had let North Korea build its missles right under his nose.  

Friday, July 28, 2017

Sessions and DOJ exclude GLBT protection from Civil Rights Act in 2nd Circuit arguments

The Department of Justice, under beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has told the 2nd Circuit that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act only protects individuals in most employment and housing issues from discrimination because of biological gender, not sexual orientation.  That is in conflict with guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Obama’s leadership.
Larry Neumeister has an AP Story in the Washington Post here

We will hear the old canard that the DOJ is applying the letter of the law, Gorsuch-like.  Perhaps.  And the case would appear to apply to so-called “religious freedom” laws, as well as bathroom bills and some public school issues. 

Actually, you could make a logical case that the law applies to transgender if you accept the idea that transgender has a biological basis (which is almost certainly true). 

But on the religious freedom bills, we’re left back to wondering what religious employers or churches really want to accomplish with their discrimination, beyond the shallow arguments about textual literalism (or for Catholics, protecting a celibate priesthood under attack from all the abuse cases).  It seems to have something to do with a fear that men are getting less interested in getting married and having children at all.  That sounds like what Putin fears. Try this article

But if the courts agree with Sessions, there can be more pressure in Congress to resume debate on ENDA.

HRC's account is here

In other news, Lambda Legal and Outserve-SLDN say they will sue if the Pentagon starts to discharge existing transgender service members.  I have a feeling that the only action taken by the Pentagon may be to stop paying for sexual reassignment treatment, but even that might get challenged legally.  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

AGLA and SAGE sponsor information forum in Arlington VA for on housing for gay seniors

Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance an SAGE, Advocacy and Services for LGBT Elders, sponsored an information forum at the Arlington Mill community center on Columbia Pike Wednesday night, July 26.

The presenter, a PhD (I didn’t get the name) went over all the terminology, especially for transgender, fluid, and intersex. 

She also went over what gay life was life pre-Stonewall and said younger gay adults (as in the discos) had no clue as to the sacrifices that had preceded them. 


There was a general impression in the audience, and especially in the remarks from Bruce Hightower, that outside the Beltway and a few large cities, LGBT seniors tend to hide when living in senior centers and are at best ignored as to their social needs.  The presenter talked about setting up communal housing spaces in about 15 cities, many in the Midwest and south.  She said there were more proportionally more families raising children headed by older same-sex couples in the South than in other parts of the country.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trump tweets an absolute ban (EO) on transgender in the military, from his personal "realDonaldTrump" Twitter account

Donald Trump just announced, in a series of three tweets, that transgender people may not servce in the United States military in any capacity.  The tweets cite tremendous military costs (not really true) and disruption (not really true either) and claim he consulted with Mattis.  Trey Yingst of OANN has embedded the tweets at this link

Here is the text: “ After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming. .victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”  There are reports that sexual reassignment surgery costs the military about $2.4 million per case (Rand) which sounds excessive as an estimate. 

It's noteworthy that Trump tweeted what amounts to an EO by the Commander in Chief from his personal twitter account first (rather than the POTUS account, where the tweets do not [yet] appear). 

The announcement would appear to require the discharge of openly transgender soldiers now. There are between 4000-6000 transgender people on active duty right now (maybe that includes reserves and NG).  Some observers say the discharges cannot happen until the services formally rewrite new policies. 

It does not appear that the announcement applies to cis-gender gay troops, and the repeal from 2011 still stands. But cis-gender gay troops don’t require any accommodation (they must remain fit for duty by ordinary military medical standards).   I am aware of one gay person, in the Army, officer grade, deployed to Afghanistan now.  

It is not clear why Trump did not wait for Mattis’s review to be completed in January 2018. 

Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade has a story here.  The Washington Post now has a detailed story by Abby Phillip and and Thomas Gibbons-Neff. 
Kristin Beck (“Lady Valor”), a transgender woman (female-to-male) had been a Navy Seal and is viewed as capable of public office in the defense area given her detailed knowledge (but only as a civilian employee).  She did not start transition until after completion of service.  In 1993, radio interviewer Scott Peck presented a woman who had left the Navy after 15 years to undergo transition and was rehired into the same Naval intelligence position as a civilian analyst with the same clearances.  There are reports that the Navy Seals are allowing one woman to join now (the film “G.I. Jane” from 1997).

Perhaps the narrative of Chelsea Manning has left a bad impression.

The tweet could pose a question for Selective Service Registration, which right now requires registration according to original gender (story).   Trump’s order did not consider this immediate complication. There has been some talk of (and actually a bill) forcing women to register for Selective Service, so that would implicitly include transgender. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Scaramucci says he has supported gay rights

Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House Communications Director, says he has donated to gay rights causes, as in a story by Chris Johnson today in the Washington Blade, link

The story circulated on Twitter in the middle of the day today, shortly before Trump’s press conference, while the Senate was huddling on its health care fiasco.

Scaramucci has said he will fire leakers, which is not an issue particularly relevant to gay issues.
There is increased concern in the gay male community how potential Obamacare  “repeal” bills will affect coverage for Truvalda.  I’m told that more younger men are taking it regularly than I had thought. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Congresswoman Susan Davis, three other Reps, sued for flying Pride flag in congressional offices

California congresswoman Susan Davis has run an op-ed in Cosmopolitan over her flying a rainbow Pride flag outside her office and the lawsuit against her for doing so, link

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that the lawsuit in federal district court in Washington DC maintains that homosexuality is somehow a “religion”, a ridiculous and frivolous assertion. Three other Congresspersons are also included in the complaint.

I got a press release on her op-ed by email today.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Unite Virginia with (Q Virginia) offers glossy magazine on gay weddings in the Old Dominion

At an AGLA social at the Hilton Garden Inn in Alexandria, VA, I picked up a glossy issue of “Q Virginia” aka “Unite Virginia” (June 3), Jun 2017.  The inside front cover calls itself “The Q Guidebook 2017-2017”.

Most of the issue is devoted to gay weddings in Virginia. On p. 6, publisher Justin Ayars offers his own letter, followed by an editorial “WhyQ Weddings?” by Jesse LaVancher. 

Later there is a QA page by Gretchen Gales, and then two book reviews.  One of these is for “Before I Do: A Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise” by Elizabeth E. Schwartz and Jim Obergefell (Afterword), review y Terri Schlicjenmeyer, who then reviews “The Art of the Affair: An Illustrated History of Love, Sex, and Artistic Infleunce, and one more review of “Raising the Transgender Child” by Dr. Michele Angello and Alisa Bowman.

On p. 50 Mr. Ayars offers an exclusive interview with Gavin Grimm.  I did get an inquiry to do this myself by email (which led to a discussion about press credentials).   

Soon I will review the massive book by Nathaniel Frank, “Awakening: How Gays and Lesbians Brought Marriage Equality to America”.

The May 2017 AGLA News has a piece by Andrew Huggins on “Three Ways to Use Social Media to Spread Your Message”  The third point challenges the writer to ask himself “So what?” or “Who cares?”  That may relate to activism, or to publications (or blogs) that are directed to specific populations and not as “general commentary”.  Note AGLA’s anti-bullying link.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Gay pastor from Nigeria visits Foundry Methodist in Washington

Michael Lavers reports on the visit of a gay Nigerian minister to Foundry United Methodist Church near Dupont Circle in Washington DC in the Blade, story here. 

The pastor is Rev. Jide Macaulay, who has also led a “straight” married life and produced a son.
He had also two men from South Africa in his home in London, when he was introduced to MCC London (which I attended once, in 1982).

He described the deteriorating climate in many sub-Saharan African countries since the middle 2000’s when Nigeria passed its vitriolic anti-gay law, prohibiting gays from meeting, disguised as an anti-gay marriage law. He described a world of violence and kidnappings. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

DC Center Global publishes new call for housing assistance

DC Center Global has posted, effective early July 13, another request for hosting housing assistance in the Washington DC area. The details are in this post on the Facebook page here (or here on the DC Center site).  Similar stories had appeared in the Washington Blade and were reported here in August and October 2016.

I have considered the possibility of hosting, but at the present time I am considering the possibility of selling the inherited trust house that I am in.  This could mean relocation out of the DC area this fall. 

 I will need to examine this opportunity thoroughly before I could look at hosting activities again.  It is discussed on my main blog (“BillBoushka” on the Blogger profile) on July 5, 2017.  I can’t really say anything further right now about this, but I will inform everyone of my plans as various issues are resolved in the next two months or so.  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fairfax County Public Schools Pride holds picnic; many local political candidates ask for support

Fairfax County Public Schools Pride held a picnic I Vienna Virginia today in Nottoway Park in Vienna VA south of Tysons.

There were many speakers discussing local elections including school board.  There was frank discussion of the need for partisanship and conventional activism, including door-to-door.  There is a transgender candidate for the House of Delegates.

There are more video clips on Wordpress here.
Update: July 24

Candidate Danica Roem is challenging Republican Robert Marshall for a northern Virginia seat int he House of Delegates, story

Friday, July 14, 2017

"Do No Harm Act" would pretty much nullify RFRA

Lambda Legal describes a “Do No Harm” Act proposed by Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), which would mediate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by not allowing denial of goods and services in public accommodations or imposition of religious beliefs by businesses open to the public.

It would narrow the circumstances where the RFRA could be used.

And the Washington Blade reports that Jeff Sessions will walk a tightrope on issuing DOJ policy on how religious freedom may be claimed by businesses.

In the meantime, the Trump administration has had almost nothing to say about LGBT issues, although it maintains that they do not need specialized focus from the White House.

On the other hand, Lambda Legal also noted a few potential Trump appointees with past statements wanting the ability to roll back gay marriage and even sodomy law repeal at the constitutional level.
Private organizations and generally mainstream faith groups (doing missions, summer camps, etc)  have gradually adjusted to the idea of gay equality among emerging adults, although trans is more difficult.  Mainstream churches are more likely to look at the behavior of international charities.  One church dissociated itself from World Vision and picked a different charity for its 30 hour famine events.  And, for example, I know of gay teens in Eagle Scouts without any difficulties.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

MO Hartzler introduces bill to ban transition care for transgender troops; House narrowly votes it down

Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), following her rant about LGBT people in the military (not just trans) has introduced a bill or amendment denying transition care to transgender troops. The text for the amendment is here.

The Blade has a story by Chris Johnson. 
HRC’s story and petition by AaronRodriquez is here.

The Washington Post weighed in on Mattis’s delay on implementing accession to transgender recruits Wednesday here. Mattis understandably needs a laser focus on North Korea right now. 


Lambda Legal reports that the measure is coming up for a vote.

Update: July 14

The House narrowly rejected Hartzler's amendment to the Defense Authorization Act, Blade story

Friday, July 07, 2017

Could Union Market be a good stable location for a replacement for Town DC in 2018?

A walk through Union Market in Washington DC, NE, near the NOMA Metro stop and near the Amtrak train lines, showed me a lot of possible space for a new club after Town closes on July 1. 2018.

There are lots of industrial buildings.  It looks like there is open-air parking.

So maybe this is a logical place for Town to look. You'd have to add security and make sure parking was sufficient and open all night.

The area is remarkable for being low-rise and industrial in a city of high density and high rentals.  It has the look of similar industrial areas in Queens of NYC (as around Jamaica or Long Island City).

Gallaudet University is nearby.

I was there today at the Angelika Pop-Up, which I think is supposed to expand.

The Blade has an op-ed about Town's future and gentrification, here.  See the comments. 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

South Africa has a decent LGBT asylum program; Congress condemns purges in Chechnya

DC Center Global posted a story about South Afirca’s assistance for LGBT asylum seekers and refugees.  Some asylum seekers would have entered the country from the more troubled countries to the north. The article did not specifically discuss hosting.  The services are extended by Gateway Health.

South Africa, however, has more problems with violence and “self-defense” than the U.S. does.

But this is a far cry from the ABC Nightline shows in the 1980s about South Africa under apartheid.
Here’s a new report on anti-gay attitudes in Africa, which are more nuanced that other sources (like Pew) say.

The US Congress has passed a resolution to condemn anti-gay purges in Chechnya.

Also, today, Log Cabin Republicans put out a Nations Birthday card on Twitter.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Pentagon wants to delay allowing transgender people to enlist; MO GOP congresswoman wants DADT for transgender

The US military service chiefs are asking for more time to provide the capability to allow transgender soldiers to enlist.  But the final decision will rest with Mattis.

However those in the service may serve openly.

CNN has a news story here but the Washington Post featured it as breaking news Friday afternoon.

The service chiefs seem more comfortable now with cis-gender gay soldiers than they had been two decades ago.

Aaron Belkin at the Palm Center at UCSB (Santa Barbara) called it "don't ask don't tell for transgender troops" in own op-ed.

Kristin Beck had been a Navy seal before becoming a woman.  There are times that transgender or fluid people are particularly valuable in intelligence operations.

The Washington Blade has a more detailed story by Chris Johnson, including a proposal by Rep. Vicki Hartzler (R-MO) to resume a ban on openly transgender in the military, in DADT fashion, possibly as part of the defense authorization bill (is what happened in 1993 with the original DADT policy).