Monday, July 30, 2018

Trump administration wants to curtail US criticism of homophobic policies of some African countries



Western governments face quandaries on pressuring non-democratic or developing countries on backward social policies, partly because sometimes the customs are based on religion (especially Muslim).

But Mick Mulvaney, the OMB director, suggested during a State Department “Ministerial on International Religious Freedom” suggested that the Trump administration would reverse Obama’s policy of sometimes sanctioning countries for excessively homophobic policies.  The country with the biggest problem right now may be Kenya,  But Nigeria is very bad (as covered before) as has been Uganda.

Sub-Saharan Africa has been influenced by some evangelical ministers who have pushed anti-gay agendas, as “un African”.

Homophobic and tribalistic foreign countries have resulted in gay asylum seekers being hosted in the U.S. buy asylum is getting harder to claim, 

The Trump administration has also said that Pride flags should not fly at US embassies (but I was not aware they ever had).
  
Yet mainstream churches and various companies and universities have to be concerned about homophobia when sending interns, employees, volunteers or students to these countries, sometimes under serious situations (like epidemics).

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Summer pop-up and rental spaces supplement bars in the summer: now its Fairfax, VA



The one-night or short-term rentals of other bars or pop-up spaces continues in July, to distract us from the loss of Town.

Saturday, July 28, 2018, Northern Virginia Pride held an event at the Auld Shebeen Irish pub in the center of Fairfax City, VA, hear where Chain Bridge Road (123) and Main Street (236) meet.  MCC Nova is not far away.

You walked down a circular copper staircase to the basement dance floor, which was bisected somewhat by a divider and sitting area, all of it in front of the bar, with a small performance stage on the other side of the floor.
  
The crowd was moderate, maybe 60 people or so, much of it collegiate, maybe some of it from nearby George Mason University, a campus popular with political libertarians.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Baltimore Eagle closes after unusual business dispute with landlord, who allegedly treated this as a "franchise"



Just a few weeks after Baltimore Pride, where I attended the Baltimore Eagle, the Baltimore Eagle has suddenly ceased operation on Wednesday, 25, 2018, after a dispute with the company from which they leased the property.  Here is their statement

It’s interesting that the management of the bar claims that the owners tried to treat them as a “franchise”.  This squabble reminds me of a president whose name should not be mentioned. 

The Metro Weekly also has a story about the closing. 

The story is a bit of a shock so soon after Town Danceboutique in Washington  was forced to close after it lost its lease.

The Baltimore Eagle space had been nicely done, with an upstairs patio and dance floor.

The DC Eagle site as of now works normally.  I have not been to it yet since Town closed.   I don’t know how these bars are related but I’ve always been under the impression they are rather independent of one another.  They are reported to have leather dress codes for some nights, but I've gotten the impression that in recent years they have tried to become inclusive. 

Town DC had run a "Bear Night" every other Friday after the original DC Eagle lost its lease a few years ago, before its new property on Benning Road NE opened. But Town continued the Bear night until June 29, right before closing.  It also ran a series of country and western square dancing lessons. 

It is somewhat common for trademarked names for bars (like JR’s) to be used in multiple cities in the gay community.  The topic of how the businesses operate is a bit of a mystery, but any franchising is probably much less formal than with retail stores and convenience stores. Franchising is also an important concept in media (even gay newspapers);  my own blogs and websites have no franchise relationships (my "do ask do tell" book series would be regarded as an "informal" franchised series, although I haven't tried to make anything of this -- until there is a movie!) 

It takes a long time to build a large dance disco facility from scratch. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

LGTBQ Nation warns public on the aggressively anti-gay materials promoted by Family Research Council


John Gallagher of LGBTQ Nation today warned about the possibility that the future Supreme Courts could roll back not only gay marriage but the sodomy law ruling in 2003. It isn’t impossible.
  
The article seems to be motivated by the claim in the article that  Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins used the 25th anniversary of “don’t ask don’t tell” for the military as announced by Bill Clinton as a start of social decay. That is, the military must ask and intrude (and so should society -- subjunctive mood).  I couldn’t find this claim in the site.

But I did find the site having materials that are aggressively and  personally intrusively anti-gay, such as this PDF, resurrecting doomsday arguments that had been in use during the 1980s by groups like “Dallas Doctors Against AIDS”.  The site also complains that Fairfax County Public Schools is trying to brainwash students into denying the importance of biological gender.


Indeed, some of the materials reflect a belief among many that accepting gender and sexuality diversity interferes with the interest that many men will maintain in marital sexuality.  The idea that one’s life, as well as the lives of everyone around one, should conform to some sort of monolithic natural order seems important for many people to feel incentivized to continue to play by the rules. 
  
There is also a concern that diversity in these matters will threaten parents and even associated family members with having to confront emotional bonding issues within the family or community with those who are very different.

FRC (near Verizon Center in downtown DC) was targeted by an unfortunate gun attack in 2012, as analyzed here in Mother Jones. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

CVS fires pharmacist who impounds a transgender woman's hormone prescription



A CVS pharmacist refused to fill a prescription for a male-female transgender woman and even confiscated the prescription. CVS has fire the pharmacist.  The chain has a policy that an employee with a religious or moral objection to a prescription must refer it to another employee.  USA Today story from the Arizona Republic is here

The ACLU also has a blog post on the incident.

Another woman was denied miscarriage medication by a pharmacist who believed that the medication caused abortion.

There is another (miscarriage) case like this in Peoria, Ill.

Six states allow employees to refuse prescriptions on religious or moral grounds.  Some members of Congress want to make this federal law.

Presumably this problem could happen with Truvalda (PrEP) or even protease inhibitors. An interesting question could come up with PEP (post-exposure prophlylaxis). Oddly, the HIV.gov page has no info on PEP

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Shenandoah Pride 2018 in Harrisonburg VA today



There was a nice little Shenandoah Valley Pride 2018 celebration in the Court Square in Harrisonburg VA today, about 140 miles SW of Washington DC, and a few miles from the James Madison University campus.


There were probably about 400 people there in early afternoon.

There was a stage with drag performers and rock music.

There were food stands on the south side, but the main bar on the Square was the Artful Dodger. 
   
Today it became a gay bar.  It has two small stages, one outside.  There was a breakfast food menu, which became a serviceable, tasty lunch menu at the bar. 

The heavy rain in the DC area today did not get across the Blue Ridge much.  The sun was out most of the time.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Military HIV policy not as well known as the transgender issue



There is a case where the US military automatically refuses to deploy anyone who is HIV+ and it is being challenged in court.  The case is Harrison v Mattis and DFoe v Mattis, Outserve-SLDN press release link here

I’m not sure whether in these cases the servicemembers have zero viral load because of protease treatment.

This sounds purely like a medical issue.  Would protease reliably work in deployment overseas?  I don’t know. 

This issue is not as well known as Trump's attempted transgender ban, which just took another loss in court. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Lack of competition prices Truvalda out of the market; it really can be cheap enough for self-pay with competition


James Krellenstein, Aaron Lord and Peter Stanley offer a major op-ed in the New York Times on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, “Why don’t Americans use more PrEP?” The manufacturer of Truvalda has a monopoly so it costs about $20,000 a year. But the generic overseas can be as little as $900 a year.  
  

The demise of insurance coverage of Truvalda under the GOP assault on Obamacare and Medicaid is complicated, as explained here in an early 2017article in Time.  But, as libertarian groups like Cato would point out, the problem largely goes away if there is more competition in making the drug. 

My own blood pressure medication is cheap, as is the arthritis med; in both cases, there are multiple similarly effective medications with different manufacturers.

But a topical medication for actinic keratosis (essentially early squamous cell carcinoma)  from England costs $1000 a bottle.

There is a severe shortage of the newest shingles vaccine (very important for HIV+).
  
Jack Andraka’s work suggests that many cancer screenings could be made cheap, but doing this with medications will be much harder.  But he wants to use nanobots to deliver targeted chemotherapy without side effects.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Federal judge rules faith-based agencies on Philadelphia city contract for child placement may not discriminate



A federal judge in Philadelphia has ruled that two agencies responsible for adoption or fostering of children, may not turn away same-sex couples as parents on religious grounds if they receive money under a contract with the City. 

The agencies were Catholic Social Services and Bethany Christian Services.  The judged ruled that their setup makes them public accommodations.

Both agencies had insisted however that prospective parents be “religious” and present pastoral letters.

The agencies do accept single parents, however ironically. 

The issue could become bigger if more agencies place children of asylum seekers if released at the border when for some reason the parents don’t get reunited.

Metro Weekly reports on an HRC study showing that young evangelicals are increasingly likely to support same-sex marriage – for personal support of others, and for increasing the availability of possible adoptive parents. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Pride picnic for Fairfax County Public Schools, 2018





Today I visited the FCPS Pride (Fairfax County Public Schools, VA) Pride picnic.

I got there a bit late and heard less about races and politics than last year(see the July 16, 2017 post, with link to more speech videos).


Recall, I worked as a substitute teacher in 2004-2005 and again in 2007.  There was a major incident involving my own online speech at the end of 2005 which I have discussed widely on these blogs before.

The political climate, with respect to LGBT but also speech, has changed since I was there.
Today the event seemed a little smaller.  There was more emphasis specifically on trans (or fluid) teachers or students than before, relative to the entire LGBTQ experience as a whole.

One transgender speaker talked about how the group had originally organized as a “huge closet” like the “CIA”.  Kristin Beck (the former Navy Seal, someone completely fit to be president of the United States in my estimation)

Small groups of previously marginalized people meet in public spaces and get into the news, first of bloggers, and then gets uploaded to the bigger media, and curated onto a much bigger stage. This can work both ways, but it doesn’t always mean “solidarity”.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Pop-up gay bar for MLB All-Star baseball game in Washington temporarily replaces Town this week


Washington Nationals relief pitcher gives the Washington Blade an interview  as Washington DC prepares for the All-Star game.

The Nationals are not doing as well this year, struggling to stay above .500, partly because of injuries and underperforming players. (They are grown men.)  Doolittle is signed by some nerve inflammation of a toe. 

But the Washington Blade set up a temporary MLB Pop-Up gay bar for five days (July 13-17), open evenings, next to Walters sports bar and National’s Park, on N St SE off Van Street, just north of the Half Street entrance to the park and the larger bar. 

The bar has a dance floor and is most welcome now that Town Danceboutique is closed.  Think of it as a temporary replacement for Town.

One wonders if there is space somewhere near Nationals Park and the Audi field for soccer next door, with a dance floor for weekend rental.  Could something more permanent come out of this pop-up? DC United will play soccer in the new field.  Gay Belgian actor Timo Descamps (“Judas Kiss”) has often tweeted about soccer.

Tracks used to be located near Half Street, across M Street a couple blocks down, long before all the high-rise real estate development.  Velvet Nation was also in the area.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

GOP-controlled House passes bill allowing adoption agencies receiving federal funds to turn away LGBT parent adoption applications based on religious grounds



Remember in 2000 when the Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts could legally discriminate against gays because they were a private organization.  Libertarians celebrated the ruling on ideological grounds, and then watched city after city deny them permits on tax-owned land.
  
We all know that, despite the “conservative” ruling, the BSA has turned around on this (to the extent that the Mormon Church had to separate). Maybe we can take comfort in that outcome in contemplating the Supreme Court.


But the GOP House has voted to allow religious organizations who accept federal funding to deny gays (or particularly legally married gay couples) the opportunity (not the right) to adopt.  Here is the LGBTQ Nation story .

In handling refugees, now a sensitive issue, the government has to work with faith-based social services organizations like Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities.  I haven’t actually heard of any complaints recently against either of these (there were problems with Catholic Charities during the Mariel Boatlift in 1980), it’s clear that there is a public interest in faith-based groups being willing not to discriminate among volunteers, hosts, or anyone who could offer assistance.

It makes no logical sense to shrink the pool of possible adoptive parents (as the article notes). 

 Religious objections seem to be based on the idea of making traditional (heterosexual) families feel more powerful and satisfied with their own marital sexuality as proven by procreation. But the law also adds to circular thinking, that gays are second class citizens for not having family responsibility. 
Update: July 31

The Williams Institute at UCLA has a study "How many same-sex couples in the U.S. are raising children?" It may seem surprising.

This proposal in the House is called the Aderholt Amendment

Monday, July 09, 2018

Outserve-SLDN announces new program for LGBTQ service members and veterans with mental health or substance issues



OutServe SLDN, Strive Health, and Veteran and First Responder Healthcare have announced a new program to assist LGBTQ service members with mental health or substance abuse issues, press release here
   
SLDN will obviously have to watch court behavior very closely with regard to Trump’s next appointment to the Supreme Court, to be announced tonight. So far the courts have been OK in forcing the Pentagon to allow transgender members to continue service in many circumstances, despite Trump’s attempts.
  
The new Court appointment will not have any affect on the repeal of DADT, because this was accomplished by Congress, not the courts. But watch the political climate in Congress this fall.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

How MCC inspired the National Council of Churches in the 1980s; a Trump SCOTUS still unlikely to undo gay marriage



Today, at MCC Nova in Fairfax VA, pastor Emma Chattin, in a sermon “Unsettling Wilderness Voices”, related a narrative how UFMCC never has had full accreditation with the National Council of Churches, but in 1983 (when I was living in Dallas and Don Eastman was pastor of MCC Dallas)  gave pastors from NCC the experience of a common communion.

There was also an interesting ethical question: some “voices” seem to come from “angels” ("messengers") or people with incredible activist ability (Hogg?) but others seem to come from others who need to have you give them attention (like on Facebook).  In he discussion, the idea of not having to believe your own thoughts came up as a mental health idea.
  
Walter Olson has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, reinforcing the idea that gay marriage will not be put in jeopardy by another Trump Supreme Court appointment. Roberts, Alito and Gorsuch all endorsed Kennedy’s very limited reasoning on the case, and the idea that public accommodations in general should not discriminate.  How would these justices feel about Sarah Sanders and the Red Hen?

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Lesbian married couple denied opportunity to volunteer as foster parents in immigration crisis; more on transgender ban



Lambda Legal reports on a serious case, where it is litigating against DHS and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, when they denied an application from a lesbian married couple to apply to become foster parents for a refugee child for religious reasons.
  
The couple is Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin, and both teach at Texas A&M in College Station, SE of Dallas.   The lambda legal link is here. The case is Marouf v. Azar.

I would be concerned here because religious organizations assisting DHS with the current immigration crisis should not use their own religious criteria in turning away volunteers.  This case dates back to February, before the worst of the crisis.

Public policy demands that, given the urgency of the border crisis, reconciling humanitarian need with the rule of law, government will need volunteer assistance and will need to expect social service agencies, however faith based, not to apply their own religious tests on volunteers.


I visited the border area myself May 30.  I’ve spent time in College Station only once, in 1982, when I was living in Dallas, to play in a chess tournament.

In the summer and fall of 2016 I did have some contact with Lutheran Social Services (through a local Presbyterian church in Arlington) and did not encounter any issues at all with sexual orientation of volunteers who would assist (Syrian, Iraqi or Afghan) refugees

But in 1980, Catholic Charities in Dallas was unwilling to accept gay volunteers to assist Cuban refugees from the Mariel Boatlift.



Lambda also reports on briefs today before the Ninth Circuit to block Trump’s partial transgender military ban, here

Monday, July 02, 2018

Zoning policy in DC may have contributed to Town DC's closing, and is harmful in other cities too



I found an article on real estate in “Greater Washington” that may shed some more (indirect) perspective on Town Danceboutique’s losing its lease and closing July 1, after a “party to end all parties (it would have ended around 3 AM EDT, which is right on the cusp west Coast time, right?)

The libertarians and Cato Institute crowd are right on this one.  Zoning laws often wind up hurting the businesses they intended to help.  In Washington, there are relatively few new houses, except for tear-downs and “renovations” of old ones, in white, affluent areas (and there are plenty of black and mixed affluent single home areas too). Developers tend to go into high density areas and make land deals that probably look good on paper (with absurd land values) but which don’t make a lot of sense for the population that can afford to live in the area.


Until about mid 2012 I could park in the Town lot.  Then it got difficult (it shared with 930 Club). Across Florida Ave., parking lots were developed (Parker Brothers-Monopoly style) into the glitzy Schay Apartments, with their high ceilings. (One resident put a “bar” in his window for the lines in front of Town to see.) 


Town was set back on 8th Street from Florida Ave., with the Patio (open for less than four years, given what Town put into it) by a pizza shop and tiny parking lot.  I don’t know if that was part of the land sale (it sounds likely).  It might have been better had the Town building be flush on Florida Ave.  

 Then one could envision leaving the disco to stay, and building a needed (customer pay) parking garage behind it for all the clubs and businesses, given the deterioration of late night weekend Metro service – which people tell me had no effect on the crowds but it may have affected the future.  In New York, for example, you could then put retail stores above the garage (like a Best Buy) – but in DC we run into the stupid height limit – again, zoning (and increased rents and land values for the air rights allowed).

The population that would rent these new apartments (or buy the condos) probably wants a disco like Town to stay  -- many of the people would not have cars.  Are real estate developers thinking about this, even out of business interest?  I doubt it.  These land deals seem too remote, too related to Wall Street and hedge funds.

The other big wild card in the big disco business these days (esp. since Orlando and Paris) is security, because of the times (and there is more than one ideological enemy).  In any “changing” neighborhood, providing security, especially for patrons coming and leaving late at night possibly at a long distance from public transportation and needing secure parking, will be an issue for any new location.
  
I think that big events and dances in the future will more often have to be held in rented hotel or similar spaces, in buildings with 24-hour use – at least in high land cost cities like Washington.
  
But, across a narrow street from the Howard Theater there is an empty lot.  Maybe you could build a dance bar there. 
 
 In Baltimore, there has been no direct replacement for the Hippo (after closing in late 2015, partly because local laws made it difficult for a new owner to get a liquor license -- zoning again), although the remodeled Baltimore Eagle, ten blocks to the north, seems to be absorbing the "preppy" as well as leather crowd. 

Update: July 4

Would a former Toys-R-Us store make a suitable site for Town to rent?  Just a thought.

Furthermore, I would wonder if the loss of Town, as well as increase in supply or units, will put downward pressure on rents in the immediate Shaw neighborhood for recently constructed buildings, because now it isn't quite as desirable for a certain kind of urban gay consumer.  This purchase by Jefferson Apartments may not have been thought through as well as it should have even on laissez-faire business grounds.



It's worthy of note also that DC's Red Hen (no connection to the restaurant in Lexington VA that expelled Sarah Sanders) is not far away (on 1st St).  I ate there on the way to Town Friday night and it was delicious and expensive.