After hearing arguments in a case involving LGBTQ discrimination and foster parenting in Philadelphia, the Supreme Court appeared to lean in favor of a Roman Catholic adoption agency that wouldn’t certify same-sex couples to foster children.
The adoption agency case (Fulton v. City of Philadelphia) arose after the city of Philadelphia learned in 2018 that Catholic Social Services, a foster care services provider affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, would not certify same-sex couples as suitable parents for children in the city’s foster care system.
After Philadelphia learned about CSS’ policy, the city stopped referring the group new children, citing a city law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination, and updated its 2019 contract with foster care services providers to explicitly forbid such discrimination against potential parents.
Catholic Social Services argues that Philadelphia’s exclusion of it from the city’s foster care system amounts to religious discrimination, in violation of the First Amendment’s protections for religious exercise.
This case is the first to come before newly-confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett’s history of anti-LGBTQ views were raised during her Senate confirmation hearings last month.
• InstaHunks: Fitness trainer and model Pierre Vuala (above) offers up this #FBF moment until “traveling is a thing again.” Follow him on the Gram of Insta here.
• Instinct: A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the State Department must recognize that the daughter of a gay couple in Maryland has been a U.S. citizen since her birth in Canada via a surrogate last year. The Trump administration had changed the interpretation of a 1952 citizenship law to view children born abroad via surrogacy as being born “out of wedlock.”
• KIT212: Don’t miss Kenneth’s weekly round-up of the what’s what in local LGBTQ publications.
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• Media Matters: referencing the Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage equality and this week’s decision on LGBTQ employment protections, Rush Limbaugh blames the “deep state” for “cultural rot.” Rushbo told his listeners, “We are so low that when we look up, we see a filthy gutter.”
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• Washington Blade: In yet another attack by the Trump administration to enable legal discrimination against LGBTQ people, the Justice Department is calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to allow religious-affiliated adoption agencies that receive tax-payer dollars to refuse child placement into LGBTQ homes.
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• The Advocate: Police fired bang shots at a queer bar owner in North Carolina after he’d set up a first aid station in his parking lot to treat peaceful protestors who had gotten injured.
RALEIGH POLICE JUST FIRED FLASH BANGS AND LESS LETHAL ROUNDS AT MEDICS, INCLUDING THE OWNER OF RUBY’S DELUXE, A QUEER BAR WHERE THE MEDICS WERE STATIONED. pic.twitter.com/sGckVjRC1e
• InstaHunks: DJ Thiago Oliveira (above) getting in some straight-up social distancing at the beach in Spain. Follow the ‘Daddy Wolf’ on Instagram here.
• NBC News: The Trump administration submitted a brief to the Supreme Court on Wednesday arguing that a taxpayer-funded organization should be able to refuse to work with same-sex couples and others whom the group considers to be in violation of its religious beliefs.
• Out Music: Trey Pearson, who first found fame fronting the Christian rock band Everyday Sunday, channels LGBTQ Pride’s history of protest in his latest music video, “1984.” Pearson, who came out as gay four years ago, called the song “a love letter sent to us from the LGBT community of the ’80s” to inspire people in a time of crisis and uprising.
• Washington Post: Donald Trump’s former chief of staff John F. Kelly defended former defense secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday over Mattis’s criticism of the president’s handling of nationwide protests. Kelly also dismissed Trump’s assertion that the president fired the retired general in 2018. “The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation. The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened or is confused.”
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• Deadline: In surprising news, Ruby Rose, the star of the CW’s freshman drama series Batwoman, is leaving the Warner Bros. TV/Berlanti Prods. drama after one season. The series, which already has been renewed for a second season, will continue with the title role getting recast. Rose, an alum of Orange is the New Black, returned to the small screen with Batwoman, playing the first gay lead character — male or female — of a live-action superhero series.
• ABC News: After nine homes over five years, 17-year-old Michael was adopted by Chad and Paul Beanblossom of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Despite the coronavirus pandemic shutting down court proceedings, 80 people including friends, family and adoption specialists witnessed the special moment unfold over the Zoom teleconferencing app.
• The Gaily Grind: Matt Belanger, an Emmy-winning news anchor in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was viciously attacked in what police believe was a hate crime fueled by homophobia. He suffered an eye injury which could result in permanent vision damage. Vennie Jerome Williams, 39, was arrested in connection to the assault. While in police custody, authorities said Williams “made statements indicating that he assaulted [Belanger] because he perceived that [he] was homosexual.”
• Politico: More vetting of Tara Reade’s allegations of sexual assault by former Vice President Joe Biden reveals those who have tried to help her in the past were left with an unsavory impression. A number of those who crossed paths with Reade say they remember two things: She spoke favorably about her time working for Biden, and she left them feeling duped.
• The Advocate: CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last Thursday, that along with his newborn son Wyatt, he considers being gay “one of the great blessings” of his life.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) signed a measure on Friday that legalizes the rejection of same-sex parents from adopting. Specifically, the law allows the argument that adoption agencies have a legitimate fear that same-sex households would “violate written religious or moral convictions or policies.”
“The governor believes that protection of rights is important, especially religious liberty,” Gillum Ferguson, a spokesman for Gov. Lee, told the Tennessean. “This bill is centered around protecting the religious liberty of Tennesseans and that’s why he signed it.”
According to The Hill, the bill not only allows a “religious exemption” in discriminating against same-sex couples but also prohibits the state from denying an agency’s licenses or grant applications for public funds based on its child placement refusals.
“It’s disturbing that Governor Bill Lee signed legislation that will harm children in Tennessee,” said David. “Elected officials should protect all of their constituents, not just some.”
“This bill does nothing to improve the outcomes for children in care, shrinks the pool of prospective parents and is a blatant attempt to discriminate against LGBTQ Tennesseans,” he added. “With many months ahead in the Tennessee legislative session, Tennesseans should make their voices heard — loudly — to ensure that the legislature and Gov. Lee do not continue to target LGBTQ Tennesseans.”
With the governor’s signature, Tennessee has the dubious distinction of being the first state to pass an anti-LGBTQ bill into law in 2020.
Tennessee has the dubious distinction of being the first state in the nation to pass anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2020.
By a vote of 20 to 6, the state Senate approved SB 1304 which will allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ couples.
The Tennesseanreports the measure gives protection to all licensed adoption agencies to turn away LGBTQ couples who apply for child placement if doing so would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”
The law also bans the state from “denying an agency’s license or grant application for public funds because of the group’s refusal to place a child with a family based on religious objections.”
Democrat Jeff Yarbro, the Senate minority leader, attempted to amend the bill so it would offer protections and legal immunity only to agencies that don’t receive public funds. But he was unsuccessful.
Five Republicans declined to vote on the legislation. Sen. Steve Dickerson, the lone Republican who voted against the measure, argued the bill would negatively impact tourism and tarnish the image of Tennessee.
The bill passed in the state House last April.
Gov. Bill Lee’s office confirmed the governor would sign the bill as soon as it hits his desk.
With his signature, Tennessee will become the ninth state to pass such legislation. Eight other states have passed similar bans since Donald Trump was elected in 2016: Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, South Dakota, North Dakota, Virginia, and Mississippi.
🚨Tennessee is the first legislature to pass an anti-LGBTQ bill in 2020. 🚨
The Human Rights Campaign denounced the passage of the hateful bill.
“Lawmakers in Tennessee used some of the first minutes of their legislative session to enshrine discrimination into law,” said HRC President Alphonso David in a statement.
“These legislators are disregarding the best interests of kids in the child welfare system to create a ‘license to discriminate’ against qualified, loving prospective parents,” added David. “This bill does nothing to improve the outcomes for children in care, shrinks the pool of prospective parents and is a blatant attempt to discriminate against LGBTQ Tennesseans.”
A week before Thanksgiving, a substitute teacher asked a fifth-grade class at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah, to share: “What are you thankful for?”
Some mentioned the holiday feast to come, some their family dog, and another joked his thanks for not having to attend school during the Thanksgiving break.
But one 11-year-old stood up and said, “I’m thankful that I’m finally going to be adopted by my two dads,” reports the Salt Lake Tribune.
Stunning the class, the substitute teacher admonished at the young boy saying, “Why on earth would be happy about that?”
According to the Tribune, the substitute teacher went on for ten minutes telling the class of 30 students how “homosexuality is wrong” and “two men living together is a sin.”
Turning her focus back to the boy, she announced, “That’s nothing to be thankful for.”
During the tirade, three girls in the class asked the woman to stop, but she continued with her hate speech. The girls finally left the classroom to notify the principal who had the sub escorted from the building.
Even as she was being removed from the school she continued to press her homophobic point.
Choreographer/dancer Louis van Amstel (Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance) and his husband, Joshua, have been working through the adoptive process for several months. The adoption is scheduled to be finalized on December 19.
“The substitute teacher was giving her very clear opinion, two men is wrong, homosexuality is wrong, and so you can imagine that set us off, and we are not letting this go,” Louis said in a video on social media.
“I am so proud of [the boy’s] school, not only did they let go of the teacher, they said this woman is never going to teach in the school ever again.”
Van Amstel added, “I’m proud of those three girls and [the boy’s] school for standing up for our family against this bully. I’m truly disgusted that the bully in this situation is a teacher in a public school.”
In a heartbreaking statement, Louis told the Tribune that the young boy understood what the teacher was saying but was afraid to speak up because he’s had two failed adoptions before and didn’t want his dads to change their minds.
“He was so fearful that this could make us think that we don’t want to adopt him,” said Louis. “That’s definitely not going to happen. But this situation really hurt him. This person really hurt us.”