News Round-Up: May 13, 2021

David T. Hines fleeced the federal government out of $3.4 million
David T. Hines fleeced the federal government out of $3.4 million
David T. Hines (mug shot)

Some news items you might have missed:

Yahoo News: A Miami businessman, David T. Hines (above), was sentenced to more than six years in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to fleecing $3.4 million from a federal COVID-19 relief program. The 29-year-old reported spent the money on luxury items including a $318,000 Lamborghini Huracán Evo.

New York Post: Randall Menges, convicted of consensual gay sex as a teen in the ’90s under so-called ‘sodomy laws,’ will not have to register as a sex offender in Montana, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday. Menges did seven years in prison for the crime. In 2003, the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws often used against gay men.

The Daily Beast: Multiple women paid by Rep. Matt Gaetz’s wingman and close associate Joel Greenberg claim they felt pressured to do drugs and have sex with him.

Edge Media: The year 2021 has already set the record for the most anti-LGBTQ laws to be passed – and it’s only May.

Buzzfeed: Instagram now allows users to include their pronouns as part of their profile.

Morning Consult: Fifty-seven percent of unvaccinated adults said a big cash payment, such as a $1,000 savings bond, would sway them, while 43 percent said they’d probably or definitely get vaccinated if they were offered a smaller reward, such as a $50 bond.

Dozens Protest Anti-LGBTQ Bills In Montana

Highway sign which reads, "Greetings from Montana"

Highway sign which reads, "Greetings from Montana"

Armed with rainbow Pride flags and signs that read “Let me be me!,” dozens of Montana residents protested at the state capital in Helena against anti-LGBTQ legislation.

From The Advocate:

One of the bills, The Religious Freedom Restoration act, has already passed the Senate. If made into law, it would allow people to challenge or ignore government regulations that they say interfere with their religious beliefs.

The government would then have to prove “it’s actions are justified by a compelling interest and are being accomplished by the least restrictive means possible” according to the Associated Press.

LGBTQ+ Montanans fear that the law would be used to challenge anti-discrimination ordinances that exist in some cities. Montana’s Human Rights Act does not include protections based on gender identity.

Other anti-LGBTQ bills in the works in Montana include bills that would require proof of gender reassignment surgery in order to change the gender marker on birth certificates; prohibiting doctors from performing such surgeries on minors (which doesn’t happen); and legislation that would prevent transgender girls from playing school sports.

The Advocate reports there are at least 108 bills being considered across the country that target LGBTQ+ people, including 71 specifically anti-trans bills.

Third Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Anti-LGBTQ ‘Conscience Protection’ Rule

Trump walks past reporters with no comment


A third federal judge has ruled against the Trump administration’s proposed change in regulations which would allow health care providers to deny care that offends ‘deeply held religious beliefs.

Read that as legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ people.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California ruled on Tuesday that the new Denial of Care rule is “not in accordance with law” by reason of conflict with underlying statutes.

“When a rule is so saturated with error, as here, there is no point in trying to sever the problematic provisions,” wrote Alsup in his decision. “The whole rule must go.”

Previously, Judge Paul Engelmayer of New York, and Judge Stanley Bastian of Spokane, Washington, also found the religious exemption rule announced by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would violate several federal laws.

Alsup wrote in his ruling, “Under the new rule, to preview just one example, an ambulance driver would be free, on religious or moral grounds, to eject a patient en route to a hospital upon learning the patient needed an emergency abortion. Such harsh treatment would be blessed by the new rule.”

The so-called ‘conscience protection’ rule would also expand the categories of workers who could choose to refuse to serve the public to include receptionists, accounting staff and emergency responders.

Plus, the federal government would be allowed to cut funding to states and/or employers who might not respect the religious exemption to the degree sought by the Trump administration.

Judge Alsup made note that there are already federal laws in place to provide for accommodating a health care provider’s religious or conscientious objections to some procedures like abortion.

HHS announced the proposed rule change in May and was set to take effect this Friday. But Judge Engelmayer’s ruling in New York two weeks ago blocked the regulation.

Jamie Gliksberg of Lambda Legal, which was one of the legal teams representing the plaintiffs, celebrated in a statement regarding the ruling: “That is now three judges in two weeks who have recognized the Denial of Care Rule for what it is, an egregious and unconstitutional attack on women, LGBT people and other vulnerable populations.”

This doesn’t end the assault on LGBTQ people’s rights by the Trump administration, though.

Earlier in November, HHS shared plans to allow faith-based adoption or foster care organizations who receive federal funds to decline to place children with LGBTQ families.

Plus, the Trump administration is still working to remove parts of the Affordable Care Act that prohibits discrimination against transgender people.


Rocker Kisses Male Fan During Dubai Concert Defying Anti-LGBTQ Laws

Matt Healy, lead singer for The 1975 (photo: Alex Liscio Photos/FlickrCC License)

Matt Healy, lead singer for the UK band The 1975, responded to a male fan’s request to “marry me” by heading into the crowd and laying some lip-lock on the fan during the band’s first-ever concert in Dubai.

Billboard reports the moment happened during the performance of the band’s song, “Loving Someone.”

As he returned to the stage amid loud cheers from the crowd, Healy said, “I love you, bro – we’re all human, right?”

The kiss was noteworthy not only for the artist/fan interaction but also due to the severe anti-homosexuality laws in the United Arab Emirates where being gay is punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Even so, the crowd was thrilled.

At another moment during the concert, Healy stopped to speak directly to the adversity LGBTQ people face in the Arab country and acknowledged the risk he faced even addressing the subject.

“I just want us to identify as humans and not as groups of individual different people,” he told the crowd. “I’m sorry, I know it seems indulgent for me to cry but I do this every night and it’s the same thing, I see so much passion and pain, and I know what you guys are going through and I know you’re not representative of your governments.”

And the crowd goes wild!

The band, which won Best Album and Best Group at this year’s Brit Awards, has seen all three of their studio albums hit number one on the UK charts.

The 1975 has a history of LGBTQ support. Last year, the band kicked in £50,000 to help fund London’s new LGBTQ center.

At the time, Healy told The Observer, “You might wonder why it is needed, and even ask yourself what exactly is everyone still scared of, but sadly, I think stigma still exists even in London and we still have some way to go.”

After the Dubai concert, Healy took to Twitter to say he “wouldn’t have done anything differently given the chance again.”

While many applauded the display of support, some on social media expressed concern that the public same-sex kiss could put the fan in jeopardy under the laws of his country.

Earlier this month, I reported a shared kiss between bandmates of the heavy metal group Rammstein during a concert in Russia. That kiss was also seen as a protest of the anti-LGBTQ ‘propaganda’ laws there.

(source: Billboard– cropped image via CC License/Flickr)