Tuesday, January 30, 2018

"The Miseducation of Cameron Post" at Sundance; Is the U.S. backsliding on LGBT acceptance now?

The New York Times has a major opinion piece reporting that America is slowly becoming less tolerant of LGBTQ rights as the political climate becomes more polarized. The piece is by Jennifer Finney Boylan, here

The attitude seems to be somewhat a backlash against identity politics and intersectionality, and more directed at people expecting to be viewed as a group than as individuals. 

Yet the article talks about a lesbian debutante party.  I never expected that kind of public accolade but I am a product of an earlier generation.

The Blade also mentions the upcoming film “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” (Desiree  Akhavan), about a lesbian forced into conversion therapy in 1993 after an encounter with a prom queen.   It is currently at Sundance. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

LGBT Freedom and Asylum Network holds a reception; more litigation on Trump's transgender military ban

Lambda Legal has filed a suit asking a federal court in Washington State , Karmoski v Trump, asking that the courts enjoin Trump’s attempted transgender ban in the military permanently, here.

As part of the Creating Change symposium sponsored by the National LGBTQ Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation sponsored a reception for asylum seekers, volunteers and interested parties tonight in Washington DC.


The working group is called LGBT-FAN, or LGBT Freedom and Asylum Network, and it offers a Best Practice Guide on its site. 

Update: Jan. 30

Michael Lavers reports from the event in the Washington Blade:  One speaker noted that efforts for LGBT people in Puerto Rico were being overlooked after Hurricane Maria (I now recall that). I see from his Twitter feed that he has traveled to San Juan to report from there this week. 

Lavers also reports that at least 2 LGBT people from Cuba have applied for asylum in the Netherlands. Although Castro was bad for gay people for most of his time, recently Cuba had gotten better and even allow sexual reassignment surgery paid for by health care;  the weakening of Communism and influence of the right now seems to make things worse, which is strange. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Conversion therapy is still around; 4 LGBT bills in Virginia; Army same-sex wedding

A lot of stuff, suddenly.
HRC has a post pointing to a New York Times article by Sam Brinton, “I was tortured in gay conversion therapy, and it’s still legal in 41 states”, This time the state was Florida.  It sounds like parents determined to have as many grandchildren as possible.  Don’t forget Mike Pence’s history.

But Virginia has introduced bills to ban conversion therapy for minors (Blade story by Michael Lavers.)    HRC advises on Virginia Semate bills SB 202 to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in public employment (many counties like Arlington have the ordinances) and SB 423 to add sexual orientation and gender identity to Virginia’s housing laws. (HRC Text alert – curiously I couldn’t find an article on HRC’s site on it).

Lavers also reports VA House bill 1466 which would ban gender identity discrimination in health insurance. 
The Army Times and AP report that a same-sex couple has married at West Point, link.  This may be the first gay marriage of a same-sex couple with both on active duty.  We’ve come a long way from the days of SLDN dinners.  But a Mike Pence could set us back (as Trump has tried with the trans issue).

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Surrogacy raises litigation regarding US citizenship

Here are two brothers, born with surrogacy but only one is a citizen, because only one was conceived with sperm from an American father (the other was Israeli).

The complicated case involving same-sex couples as parents and surrogacy was filed against the State Department, and is explained by ABC News here
The State Department says that the child must have a biological connection to an American citizen as a parent in order to become a citizen at birth. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

HHS "conscience office" said to be a cover for discrimination

Gay activists in Washington are condemning the creation of a “religious conscience” division within HHS,, headed by Roger Severino, as a proxy for countenancing religious-based discrimination against LGBTQ by public employees, Washington Blade story by Chris Johnson.

The biggest issues could be with transgender surgery, or with HIV prophylaxis.
Here is CNN’s story, noting coincidence with the March for Life today. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Blaze Bernstein's murder apparently a result of an unwanted flirt on a "redneck" straight man

I generally don’t discuss pending criminal cases here until there is a conviction, but this one seems so clear cut it needs to be reported here.

This refers to the murder of Blaze Bernstein, University of Pennsylvania student.

But Sam Woodward has been held without bail after the apparent slaying in Borrego Park in Orange County, CA.  Blaze was reported to be gay, and news outlets report that Woodward said Blaze kissed him (earlier the language had been “hit on him”) and that the attention as unwanted.

Under current charges, Woodward could face 26 years to life.  Special circumstances could include use of a knife and later hate crime charges.  A death sentence would be very unlikely, but life without parole sounds possible.
The ABC News story is here.
The “OC” Register story is here

Bernstein was said to be smart, verbal and charismatic as a teen, and (like Jack Andraka at Stanford) was pre-med.  This may seem like Matthew Shepard's murder in Wyoming in 1998, subject of several plays and films and candlelight vigils over the years.  

Picture: By GB11111 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link  I was in the area in 2002, 2012, and especially 1979.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A once-a-week HIV pill may work, both for prevention and control of early infection

Medical laboratory researchers at MIT and at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have developed a pill that would allow HIV prophylaxis to be releases slowly for a whole week.

The MIT story is here;  the LGBTQ Nation story is here.   It appears that the technique is useful for both prevention and control of infection. The pill components can attach to the wall of the stomach in an unusual way.

There will be the issue of cost and whether insurance would cover it after Obamacare repeal/replacement.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Baltimore has a shelter for asylum seekers; same-sex marriage may matter in Mexican asylum case

DC Center Global advises that there is now a small shelter for asylum seekers near Baltimore, in Pikesville, as reported by the Baltimore Sun, here. The story reports on volunteer efforts MLK day.

The shelter does not necessarily emphasize LGBT seekers. 
It’s not clear yet how it is seeking funding or whether it will work with groups in DC.  But this is progress.

Picture is from Sandtown, April 2015.


The Washington Blade and Chris Johnson report Ninth Circuit intervention to stop a deportation of a gay asylum seeker to Mexico who allegedly missed a court date.  The fact pattern is very complicated and is given in the story. The narrative, which is quite lengthy as to the time spanned, invokes the issue that a marital partner can try to get a green card for a spouse (doesn't always work).  But it could also lead to situations where marriages happen just for that motive.  There seems to be another case int he 4th Circuit (no details available).

Asylum Seeker Assistance Project DC website is active and now has an email list, basic link.  Expect more news to follow. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

HRC and the MLK National Day of Service

Today, I did my quasi-mandatory “National Day of Service” for HRC at the Wanda Alston Foundation in Washington DC.

It was short, some deep cleaning.  I did some cupboards and the gas stove.  This was like KP in the Army. 
There were a lot of people there, maybe more bodies than needed.

But a residential house housing homeless teens/young adults does need to be kept immaculate, to hotel standards.
Then I went to a Congressman’s town hall in Alexandria, and linked gay rights to national security (from the attempted transgender ban to North Korea).

Trump did no community service MLK Day.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Chelsea Manning apparently will run for Maryland Senate

Chelsea Manning has filed to run for the US Senate from Maryland, as in the CNN story.  Manning had obtained a pardon from Obama before he left office after seven years of confinement. 

I had considered running for the Libertarian Party for a Minnesota Senate seat in 2000. 

I celebrated my own New Year’s last night at Town DC, on an unseasonably warm evening where “everybody showed up”.  

In another matter, "Rightwing watch" has an article claiming religious right activist Max Staver has claimed that gays shouldn't serve as judges because Christians wouldn't get a fair shake in court, story. In 2013, Tracy Thorne (a former Navy pilot known from the debate over gays in the military  in the 1990s) was sworn in as Virginia's first openly gay judge (story).

Staver has also commented on a case in Oregon that somewhat parallels Masterpiece Cakeshop, VCY article

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Gay marriage today is for personal satisfaction; in the past, straight marriage was a necessary adaptation

Here’s a piece on Vox that to me looks relevant to same-sex couples, an interview by Sean Illing with Eli Finkel, author of “The All-or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work”. 

He mentions the movie “Jerry Maguire” (1996) where Tom Cruise plays the sports agent sweeping in Rene Zellweger.

But what is most interesting is how Finkel mentions that in earlier times it was risky to row through adult life without getting married (heterosexually).  You needed to be competent in heterosexual sexual intercourse to get other things you needed.  I think that helps explain the “homophobia” of the 1950s and early 60s.   Young men were more concerned that gays (as “watchers”) in their midst could distract them from their own fecundity than about men who could become conventional heterosexual romantic rivals.

“The Milo Show” now has an article about someone being called a bigot merely for refusing to date or share intimacies with a transgender person, here

I have a coordinate post on blood and organ donations on my “BillBoushka” blog today. 

Monday, January 08, 2018

Supreme Court dismisses Mississippi religious freedom case out of lack of standing

The Supreme Court has refused to hear a case from Mississippi, about a law that allows businesses to refuse services to LGBT people on religious or other belief grounds (like gender is immutable),  The case was dismissed for lack of standing.

Greg Stohr has the Bloomberg story

It sounds like this is more about public accommodations taking all comers than about specialized expression.

Marian Tupy offers a libertarian analysis of the Makepiece case on Rick Sincere’s blog (which has a style resembling mine but a lot of guest posts lately). 

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Transgender troops start enlisting again, and military intelligence needs them

Transgender troops have started enlisting in the military today, according to some sources, in small numbers, as the DOJ was rebuffed in appealing a court order.  Talking Points had a story today

But the DOJ said it was doing another independent study, which sounds a lot like punting in football.
But Trump and Sessions (and Mattis) don’t see cis gays in the military as controversial any more.

The Pentagon is mostly preoccupied with intelligence on North Korea, Iran, and the remnants of ISIS. Even Chelsea Manning notwithstanding, the presence of culturally diverse troops improves the chances of getting all the needed intelligence. 
Contrary to rumors, the Pentagon doesn’t seem busier late at night on weekends than usual.

Update: Jan. 11

The Russian media has jumped on Trump's attempted transgender military ban for propaganda purposes, as in this article.