Friday, September 29, 2017

"Religious liberty" bills discussed at Cato First Amendment forum

At the Cato Institute briefing “The Future of the First Amendment” on Sept. 28, 2017, the second part was called “Religious Liberty in Post-Obama America” (master link ).

The speakers were Walter Olson (from Cato Institute), John M. Barry, and especially Robin Fretwell Wilson, from the University of Illinois Law School.

Fretwell particularly discussed the quandary of resolving two competing interests:  equal rights for all LGBTQ people, especially when considered as individuals, and religious freedom.  She (and the other speakers) pointed out that many religious freedom laws were developed before gay marriage became the law of the land in 2015. 

Fretwell says that states need to develop a nuanced approach to the problem.  Businesses open to the public, as public accommodations, need to be open to all (competent) individuals.  They should work out ways where when a particular associate’s religious beliefs are challenged, another associate can meet the need.  Fretwell seemed to believe that such an approach should be developed at state agencies too (as with the Kim Davis situation in Kentucky).

One problem is that a greater “burden” can fall on other associates.  But this happens anyway.  When I worked for NBC in the 1970s, I reported to an “Orthodox Jew”.  He could not work on Saturdays.  I covered production problems on Saturdays sometimes.  But I never asked for anything back in return, and it was never offered.  This parallels, by extreme analogy, the “conscientious objector” problem for the past military draft (it still happens in Israel).
It was also pointed out that a few small businesses could be devastated.  A wedding cake company cannot simply stop baking cakes and do something else and remain the same business.

There was some discussion of the "bathroom" bills, generally characterized as a diversion by the far right from real issues.  

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Trump administration now will recognize LGBTQ in 2020 and other Census surveys

The National LGBTQ Task Force is claiming a victory tonight in convincing the Trump Administration to reverse itself on the Census matter, and now include questions on sexual orientation on its Census Attitudes, Barriers and Motivators Study, press release

 This appears to be one of the many special surveys run by the US Census Bureau between the diennials. Or it may apply also to the 2020 diennial Census.

The Trump administration had wanted to avoid viewing the LGBTQ community as a “group” that can represent its interests collectively, in terms of usual identity politics.  The exclusion did not imply hostility to individuals in the community.  Furthermore, LGBTQ has not been viewed as a group in previous surveys.

I worked for the US Census Bureau as an interviewer during the 2010 diennial (during the last year of my mother’s life) and in 2011 on the Current Population Survey (including some training in Charlotte and later Woodbridge, VA).  I received a random questionnaire from the American Community Survey, as I recall, in 2013 and answered it online.

There are many questions about marital status and having children.  It seems hard to imagine how LGBTQ questions can be avoided with gay marriage legally recognized in every state.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Egypt has an anti-gay promotion law similar to Russia's

Declan Walsh reports in the NY Times how concertgoers in Egypt got arrested and sent to jail for waving a gay pride rainbow flag at a concert. 

There is some analogy to Russia.  Technically homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, but “promoting” it in public is, on the theory that it will lead to discouraging other adults from having children.

But once arrested, the men were subject to anal exams.

DC Center Global has mentioned asylum seekers specifically from Egypt.  

Wikipedia attribution link CCSA 2.0 for picture by Dan Lundberg of Cairo. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

FBC holds vote on Discernment of inclusion policy, ratified overwhelmingly

Today, the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC held its vote on a Discernment policy about inclusiveness, proposed on Sept. 3..

The final vote was 51-3-11, or 51-14 for full inclusiveness.  The vote would seem to accept same-sex marriage ceremonies to be performed in the Church in the future.  But it is more broadly worded.

Generally, in my own conversations, practically all younger adult members (say under the age of 40) favored full inclusion.  The church has long held openly gay and transgender members. 

The church was considered very progressive on racial issues under Dr. Pruden as early as the late 1940s.  The church opened its current sanctuary on Christmas Sunday, 1955.

The church is located about ½ mile north of the White House, one block south of Foundry Methodist.  So it is one of the closest major churches to the White House.  The views of the congregation tend to have some political influence.  

Thursday, September 21, 2017

AIDS was the nuclear war of my generation; young men ponder PrEP

On an evening where I’m in a tweet storm with Trump over how to stop North Korea’s threat to test thermonuclear weapons in the air, I found time for this important story by Daryl Hannah on PrEP’s. Seriously, as a blogger, I’m a lot more concerned about national security than “discrimination”.  But we actually need to have someone like Kristin Beck back in uniform in the Pentagon helping make the right decisions on this North Korea mess. 

A lot of men don’t like to keep taking them.  If you’re well off, in college, 18+ and well-liked, stick with one person you “trust”.  It’s easier to find monogamy if you can work it to your advantage.  The Obamacare repeal could stop coverage for them in many cases. 

Even on 18+ nights at discos, you see people leave together. 

AIDS was the nuclear weapon of my own generation
Picture: Near Camp David, MD.  And, Trump, don’t mix up Rocket Man (Kim Jong Un) with Nano Man (Jack Andraka, as a comics hero, in the world of geeks and medicine). Don’t mix them up in a speech. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ties reported between white nationalism and some gays; flap in Michigan over gay adoptions ("Kids pay the price"?)

Although Truthout is a bi strident in its calls for money to become my left-wing voice, which I don’t need and would resent, I noted this astonishing story by Shane Burley, “White nationalist groups are splitting over gay inclusion.”   While internal ideologies vary (about biological destiny), there seems to be some connection to upward affiliation and maybe even eugenics (the idea that one somehow deserves to reproduce).   It’s all rather shocking.  Spencer gets mentioned.

There is a complicated story about Fox’s refusal to air an ad from a group called “Kids Pay the Price” about how “religious freedom laws”, when they allow adoption and foster agencies to follow their religious beliefs, simply reduce the number of kids who get adopted or find foster care.?)  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tragic police shooting of GLBT student at Georgia Tech

There has been a tragic event at Georgia Tech, with the shooting of its gender-fluid Pride president, Scout Schultz.

The Advocate has coverage of this incident (some from the Washington Post) .   It would appear likely that there will be litigation from the family. 

11live has a timeline here

The story is developing.

Update: Sept 21:

Here is a disturbing story of an apparent hate property crime in Michigan. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Pride 2017 Charlottesville

I did visit Charlottesville Pride 2017 today (or "CVille Pride"). .

It was held in the Pavilion at the end of the main street court in downtown Charlottesville, a half mile from the previous locations at Lee Park.

There were two areas of exhibits, and a continuous show under the tent.

The site was much larger than Lee Park.

The overall crowd had a substantial gender fluid and trans flavor, more so than is found in bars or that was present in DC Pride.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tammy Duckworth provides video on Trump's transgender ban for the military

Tammy Duckworth (US Senator for Ilinois, Dem.) has provided a video responding to Trump’s “transgender ban”, implemented in slow motion, for the military. 


She points out that Trump dodged the Vietnam era draft, and that transgender health care costs would be only “0.13%” of the entire military health care budget, including casualties. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Edith Windsor's memory is honored

Time Magazine has a detailed obituary on Edith Windsor, 88, the “matriarch” of the gay rights moement in the fight for marriage equality, link by Olivia B. Waxman. 

The New Yok Times credits Windsor with making “marriage” a magic word and offers this op-ed

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Gay conservatives see collective identity politics as a lot of whining

David Benkoff has a piece in the Daily Caller downplaying Donald Trump’s supposed backpedaling on gay rights, all the way back to 2016, here.   A lot of denial of identity politics and placing people into groups claiming systematic oppression.  The Log Cabin Republicans tweeted this today.

There is something inevitable about all this:  people who are individually competitive have little use for identity politics and tend to be more conservative.  

Thursday, September 07, 2017

DACA rescinding by Trump, even if a 6-month punt to Congress, generates resentment, cynicism in the LGBT community

A Washington Blade story by Chris Johnson reports pessimism among LGBT dreamers (as well as asylum seekers) that Congress will restore DACA, as in this link posted on Facebook today by DC Center Global. 

The article presents the biography of a young man from South Korea, who says it would not be easy to deal with conscription in the South Korean military if he had to go back.  Furthermore, it’s a testy time because of extreme tensions with North Korea.  

But of course this raises the bigger question that the entire country of South Korea faces destruction if war breaks out. 
There is also a story of a young man from Mexico, and a report of a belief that DACA rescinding is rooted in white supremacy.  I still see it as a legal question, but one that lends itself to intellectual rationalization that hides the real problems.  

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

HRC notes the likely toll of DACA rescinding on LGBTQ immigrants

HRC sent out an email noting that about 75000 of the “dreamers” are LGBTQ, link here.

This is a difficult thing.  Our western societies don’t hold adult kids responsible for what their parents did.  Nevertheless, the tone of comments on Trump’s own Facebook page supporting his decision is rather mean.

There is legitimate debate over whether Obama’s DACA order was legally sustainable forever (given the lawsuit brought by several red states).  Some conservatives say that courts could have ordered DACA closed in two months.  There is a legitimate argument that Congress must take responsibility for this issue over the next six months.

Nevertheless, adult kids caught in the situation,, even though they probably have good reason to believe Congress has to fix it (Congress’s record with health care is not a good precedent) are put out now.  Employers can reasonably fear that if they hire them, they could lose work authorization in six months. Same with schools.

Down the road, if massive work authorization loss happens and deportations start, we could see increase in Asylum claims, as Jason Dzubow argued last December (post ), as long as a much larger need for housing support and quasi-sponsorship or dependency relationships.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Uproar looks like it could "replace" Town in 2018

After the fundraiser (Tupperware party) for LGBT Fallen Heroes at Town Sunday night, I did visit the Uproar on Florida Ave in Washington D.

The deck on the third floor has been expanded, but not all of it was open.  Part of the deck is open-air with views of a nearby bar (is that the Chaos? I’m not sure.) 

The deck was packed on a Sunday night on a holiday weekend.  Yup, the crowd tended to be cis-male.

The second level has the plasma TV, and the first level is more like a typical bar.

But the overall feel of the place is like the Therapy in New York City.  The bar has a NYC feel to it (especially Hell’s Kitchen).'

The place could become a partial replacement for Town when it closes July 1 2018 as the upstairs deck looks good for dancing.

The music came from the 70s and 80s. 

Sunday, September 03, 2017

First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC publishes inclusion policy

The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC will pass out a Discernment Card to church members on Sept. 24, 2017.

Here is the text:

“The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC welcomes people of every race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, age, physical and mental ability, national origin, economic station and political ideology to full participation in the life of the church.

“’Full participation in the life of our community’ includes all members, without exception, being fully eligible to participate in the ordinances, blessings, benefits and responsibilities of church membership – including communion, baptism, marriage, ordination, parent/child dedications, and all offices and positions of leadership.

“Any individual member’s ‘full participation in the life of our community’ does not bind any other member’s conscience on an issue about which they may differ, but rather requires honest commitment of life together in the commitment to life together in the community of Christ regardless of differences.

“We re-commit ourselves to conscious efforts to feel Christ’s welcome in our congregation, including those with whom we disagree.” 

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Asylum seekers in the Bay Area; Chechnyan transgender asylum seeker smuggled into US; Trump complicates green cards

The East Bay Express has a story about LGBT asylum seekers obtaining assistance, including housing hosting, in the San Francisco Bay area (with among the highest housing costs in the nation).  The link is here.  A number of them are from Russia.

There is also a narrative of a transgender asylum seeker fr Chechnya who was smuggled across the border from Mexico, in a Washington Post story by Adam Taylor, here.   Getting involved in bringing someone into the country “illegally” is not something that can be recommended out of prudence.  Maybe this is the “Rich Young Ruler” problem, having too much to lose.

The Trump administration has added a personal interview requirement for most green card applications, which could complicate the process for many asylum seekers, who face waiting periods before eligibility and may depend on the financial support of others to stay in the country (story). 

Friday, September 01, 2017

Colorado baker who shut down bakery over "religious freedom" says he's lost 40% of family income; regulation of small business cuts both ways; Nashville Statemet

The owner of a wedding cake bakery in Colorado claims he has lost 40% of his family income and most of his employees after the Colorado Civil Rights Commission told him to stop selling cakes or to sell to all wedding couples as a public accommodation. The owner Jack Phillips stopped selling cakes.  The Washington Times has the story here.

Um, this is the whole “religious freedom” thing.  You wonder what this means to him, that couples who don’t follow the procreation model have such a psychological effect on “normally married” people.  Everyone shares in potential responsibility for future generations?
But it’s dangerous for government to regulate a small business this way, too.  What if I had to make my self-published books available in braille to sell them at all?  This sort of thing goes both ways.

Vox (Teresa Isabella Burton) has published a long article about a gathering of evangelicals (the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, ERLC) and its Nashville Statement, which if you open the site, is pretty manipulative to the visitor. They expect visitors to sign it? Evangelicals have gotten "better" on some other things, like condemning the alt-right.