News Round-Up: November 13, 2019

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Dan Tai (above) offers this Hump Day inspiration, “Nothing will work unless you do, so chalk up and get it done.” I offer this photo of Dan as Hump Day inspiration. #woof

Advocate: A New Orleans judge has rejected an arrest warrant for gay ex-radio host Seth Dunlap, who is accused of fabricating an antigay tweet from his former station.

Socialite Life: Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer was finally voted off Dancing with the Stars this week. In true Trump form, the Donald deleted his tweet of support for Spicer once the Spice man got the boot.

FBI: The FBI has released its annual Hate Crime Statistics report for 2018 which shows anti-LGBTQ hate crimes increased by almost 6 percent compared to 2017.

NY Daily News: Michael Troina, a former NYC firefighter who said he experienced hazing from colleagues including taunts to “have sex with a stripper” to prove he is straight, received an $80,000 settlement from the city after filing a lawsuit.

Funny: Michael Henry’s latest ‘funny but makes you think’ video confronts gay men’s obsession with parties, drinking, and sex. Eventually, all that sex-crazed fun stops being fun, and that just leaves a lot of loneliness in the gayborhood.

“When’s the last time you tried to make any gay friends that didn’t involve parties, drinking, or sex?” Henry asks the lonely party bunny. “All you ‘sexys’ only have surface friendships because you’re stuck in this loop of connecting and validating each other through some sort of sexual activity. Wear some pants and take an improv class, nobody’s having sex there.” #wisdom

News Round-Up: August 2, 2019

Calum Von Moger (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Bodybuilder and fitness expert Calum Von Moger shares the above pic with a humorous touch embracing his inner peacock as he writes, “I was made for this moment.”

LGBTQ Nation: While crime overall in major cities has declined over recent years, a new study shows hate crimes increased 9% over the last year. That makes for the 5th consecutive increase and the largest jump since 2015.

Gr8erDays: Follow this Instagram account for celebrity trivia from Hollywood days gone by.

Morning Consult: New polling shows the second round of debates among Democratic presidential candidates did little to shake up current standings. Thirty-two percent of Democratic voters still say former Vice President Joe Biden is their first choice, just 1 percentage point down from MC’s polling after the first debates. None of the candidates shifted more than 2 points.

Wall-Street Journal: While median income in the U.S. has gone up 14% in 30 years, housing prices have gone up 290% and college tuition has risen 311% making life for the middle class even more difficult.

Out Music: Swedish pop star Tove Lo drops her latest single, “Bad as the Boys,” a light, breezy, summertime pop bop which finds the singer teamed-up with Finnish singer ALMA.

“’Bad as the Boys’ is about my first summer girl crush when I was in my teens,” says the singer. “It’s about that sting you feel in your heart when you know summer is coming to an end and so is the romance.”

News Round-Up: April 10, 2019

Some news items you might have missed:

• InstaHunk Dan Tai gets up close to a mama elephant. If that’s not enough elephant action for you, check this baby elephant pretending to be brave. #ElephantsRock

• Following an overall trend of increased hate crimes since Donald Trump took office, a Colorado transgender man was attacked on his own front porch for “acting gay.”

• It’s National Siblings Day, so here’s a shout out to my brother, Gary, who I fought with throughout my childhood. But, as adults, we found common ground – wonder what that was…? #MoreWine

Happy Siblings Day to my big bro, Gary

• A gay guy wrote an essay titled, “Why Pete Buttigieg Is Bad For Gays,” and he’s wrong.

• Hollywood powerhouse producer/director Ryan Murphy announced he will make the hit Broadway musical The Prom (about a high school girl asking another girl to the prom) into a Netflix movie.

• Testifying before Congress today, Education Secretary Betsy Devos admitted she knew rolling back Obama-era guidance that protected trans students would lead to lower attendance and depression for those students.

News Round-Up: April 3, 2019

Some news items you might have missed:

• Here’s a t-shirt (modeled by InstaHunk Ramses Principe) that I can totally relate to 😉

• The governor of Utah has signed into law the state’s new, tougher hate crimes law with stricter punishments for those who commit crimes specifically due to bias. Yes – Utah!

• Even though Netflix cancelled the terrific One Day at a Time reboot, the streaming giant may be standing in the show’s way of finding a new home.

• Starting out at a bus stop as young boys, James Corden and Tony Award winner Ben Platt tell the story of a life-long friendship using 9 different sets and 12 carefully curated songs all captured in one take.

• Investigators on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team say the four page letter by Attorney General William Barr didn’t adequately portray the findings of their investigation.

Stoning gays to death officially became the law of the land in Brunei today. Even Ellen DeGeneres has joined the boycott of hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

• Donald Trump’s choices for ambassadorships has been, interesting, to say the least. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates — a wealthy real estate developer with no diplomatic experience. Ambassador to Morocco? A well-heeled car dealer. For Iceland? While well-traveled, the nominee had never even been to the Nordic country.

• The brilliant satirist, Randy Rainbow, offers his parody of the Disney classic, “Cruella DeVille,” with a nod to our current clueless Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

White Supremacist Pleads Guilty To 29 Federal Hate Crimes

James Fields, Jr. has pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crime charges for his car attack on a crowd of people on Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville.
James A. Fields Jr. (mugshot)

James A. Fields Jr., who drove his car into a crowd of people killing Heather Heyer during a rally for white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, has pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crime charges.

Fields originally pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea Wednesday. Those crimes carried the possibility of the death penalty.

From CBS19News:

James Fields, Jr. has pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crime charges for his car attack on a crowd of people on Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville.

The attack killed Heather Heyer and injured many other people. As a result of the plea, the death penalty was taken off the table.

The courtroom was filled with several people who had been injured in the car attack and Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer. Fields had to answer questions about his competence, and he said he was making the decision of his own free will. He did not express any remorse.

The plea deal had to be approved by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, and prosecutors obtained that approval.

Fields was convicted of first-degree murder and several counts of malicious wounding during his state trial in December. He already faces a life sentence plus 419 years for that conviction.

Report: Counties That Hosted Trump Rallies Saw 226% Increase In Hate Crimes

Donald Trump

Earlier this week, Donald Trump was asked whether he sees “today that white nationalism is a rising threat around the world?” Trump’s response: “I don’t really.”

In the aftermath of the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, where a young white man rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer, Trump tried to mitigate white nationalists’ responsibility for the violence telling the public that “there’s blame on both sides.”

He has repeatedly asserted that he bears no blame or responsibility for the violence.

But analysis by the Washington Post shows that counties that had hosted a 2016 Trump campaign rally saw a 226 percent increase in reported hate crimes over comparable counties that did not host such a rally.

It is hard to discount a “Trump effect” when a considerable number of these reported hate crimes reference Trump. According to the ADL’s 2016 data, these incidents included vandalism, intimidation and assault.

What’s more, according to the FBI’s Universal Crime report in 2017, reported hate crimes increased 17 percent over 2016. Recent research also shows that reading or hearing Trump’s statements of bias against particular groups makes people more likely to write offensive things about the groups he targets.

Utah Beefs Up Hate Crimes Bill, Also Adds ‘Political Expression’ As Protected Class

Utah beefs up its hate crimes law

After the victim of an alleged gay bashing in Salt Lake City, Utah, caught his attacker punching him on video last month, state lawmakers found themselves under new pressure to update the state’s hate crime statute.

Upon the arrest of the suspect, Carlo Alazo, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told the media he would not be attaching hate crime enhancements to the charges because he felt it was “nearly impossible” for him to prove that intent under Utah’s hate crime statutes calling them “unworkable.”

“I would have to show that the person involved in criminal behavior had the intent to deny a constitutionally protected right,” Gill added, such as free speech or religious expression, which doesn’t apply in this case. “It’s so burdensome, we don’t even go to it.”

Utah’s hate crime laws apparently have never been utilized successfully in court.

Last week, the state Senate passed an updated version of the law by a vote of 18 – 11. And Tuesday night, members of the House approved the legislation by a vote of 64 – 9.

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

Thatcher’s bill would allow judges to increase penalties for a crime if a defendant is convicted of targeting someone based on ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation. Additional classes that would be protected under the bill include age, familial status, homelessness, marital status, matriculation, military service and status as a police officer or emergency responder to the list of protected classes.

A person must first be convicted of a crime before additional penalties would apply.

The Tribune reports that Gov. Gary Herbert has signaled he will sign the final version of the bill.

“Governor Herbert appreciates the great work of the legislature in passing this important piece of legislation, which will serve as a powerful tool in providing critical protections to marginalized groups and persons,” read a statement from the Governor’s office.

Troy Williams, the executive director of Equality Utah, said the moment was nearly 20 years in the making.

“It was incredibly moving to have a body of conservative elected lawmakers vote for protections for LGBTQ individuals,” he told the Tribune.

An interesting development during the debate in the House, though, was the passage of an amendment that adds “political expression” to the list of categories that will be protected by the new law.

Rep. Karianne Lisonbee (R-Clearfield) became emotional as she shared she had been the target of “death threats” after she recently made changes to a proposed bill that would have banned so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for minors.

Lisonbee’s changes eventually gutted the bill, HB399, and lead to the main sponsor pulling his own legislation from consideration for now.

The development not only angered LGBTQ activists, but past Facebook comments by Lisonbee were brought to light in an Associate Press report where she had questioned if living a ‘homosexual lifestyle’ could lead people to suicide.

As a result of her tearful testimony, the amendment to the hate crimes bill was passed.

The bill now heads back to the state Senate to approve the changes to the bill where it’s expected to pass.

News Round-Up: January 11, 2019

• InstaHunk Joe Blizzard is setting up some serious 'beard goals.' #Woof
Joe Blizzard

Some news items you might have missed:

• InstaHunk Joe Blizzard is setting some serious ‘beard goals.’ #Woof

• White House officials are considering diverting disaster funds earmarked for Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California to build Donald Trump’s beloved ‘wall’ under the guise of declaring the border situation a ‘national emergency.’

• Did you hear about the United Airlines pilot and copilot having sex in the cockpit during a flight? Me neither. But fools who came across the fake story on the fake news site World News Daily Report swallowed the bogus story hook, line and sinker.

• After reviewing recent HIV research, experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) say they agree with over 300 health agencies around the world: HIV positive people with an undetectable viral load cannot sexually transmit HIV.

• Hate crime charges have been filed against a Washington state man who groped and punched a married lesbian couple at a Seattle Seahawks game.

• Check out this promo video for the upcoming WorldPride Main Event on Saturday, June 29, 2019, which will bring the entire LGBTQ community and its allies together on one ginormous dance floor at New York City’s largest venue, the Jacob Javitz Center.

Click here for more info on Pride Festival.

Hate Crimes Increased In 2017 For Third Consecutive Year

The FBI says hate crime incidents surged in 2017 by 17 percent. That is the largest increase since 2001 when the 9/11 attacks gave way to a big jump in violence aimed at Arab Americans and Muslim Americans.

Just weeks after a lone gunman entered a Pittsburgh synagogue killing 11 people and wounding 6 more, the Federal Bureau of Investigations has released its annual report on hate crimes in America.

And the news isn’t good.

A hate crime is defined by the FBI as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

The FBI says hate crime incidents surged in 2017 by 17 percent. That is the largest increase since 2001 when the 9/11 attacks gave way to a big jump in violence aimed at Arab Americans and Muslim Americans.

There were 7,175 hate crimes reported in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016.

The year was the third consecutive annual increase.

Now, let me think, what happened about three years ago that would fuel ethnic/religious rage?

It was in 2015 that Donald Trump announced his presidential campaign with a speech trashing Mexican immigrants.

He has publicly sided with white nationalists and neo-nazis who rallied in Virginia; railed about African American football players for kneeling during the national anthem; and demonized the Central American migrant caravan of asylum seekers as an “invasion.”

Gee, what could possibly be fanning the flames of hate…?

While 1,303 of the reported incidents in 2017 were driven by bias regarding sexual orientation, the vast majority – 4,832 incidents – involved animus due to race or ethnicity.

Almost half of those reports involved African Americans, and anti-Latino bias was found in 11% of hate crimes in 2017.

Religious bias was responsible for the second largest segment of hate crimes with 1,679 reports of religion-motivated incidents.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes saw a small decline (273 in 2017 versus 314 in 2016), but historically speaking that’s still very high.

The annual report shows there were 131 hate crimes related to gender identity, barely edging out incidents regarding bias based on disability.

The category with the fewest occurrences were hate crimes motivated by gender (53).

(h/t Voice of America)

Pennsylvania Adds LGBTQs To Anti-Discrimination Laws But Not Hate Crime Statute

Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission added sexual orientation and gender identity to its list of protected groups.

Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission added sexual orientation and gender identity to its list of protected groups.

That action now allows people to file complaints to the State of Pennsylvania regarding incidents of LGBTQ discrimination. The commission investigates complaints of discrimination in areas of education, housing, employment and public accommodations.

Before the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity, if LGBTQ folks felt they had been discriminated against, their own recourse was to file a complaint with their local municipality IF the area they lived in barred such discrimination. According to Equality Pennsylvania, only 51 of the Keystone State’s 2,562 municipalities have laws that protect LGBTQ citizens.

What the change does not do, however, is add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s hate crime statute.

So, if LGBTQ folks face discrimination in a restaurant or hotel, you can file a complaint. But if you are assaulted for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, the perpetrator can be arrested but there will be no hate crime attached unless you are in one of the cities or local municipalities that have added sexual orientation or gender identity to their hate crime statute.
Now, there wasn’t always the case.

Back in 2002, the Pennsylvania state legislature added LGBTQ folks to the hate crimes law. In doing so, Pennsylvania became the 5th state to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks.

But two years later, when anti-gay protesters were arrested at a gay-rights event for preaching via bullhorn, concerns were raised about misuse of the statute.

Eventually, in 2007, a Commonwealth court struck down the addition to the hate crimes law saying the legislature had surreptitiously used an unrelated agriculture bill to make the change. In 2008, the state Supreme Court upheld that ruling and LGBTQ folks were once again left without hate crime protections statewide.

Since then, lawmakers have tried to update the hate crime statute but to no avail.

Some cities enacted their own hate crime legislation like Philadelphia in the aftermath of a vicious attack on a gay couple in the Center City area of Philly in 2014 which left one of the victims with a shattered jaw.

Currently, Pennsylvania’s hate crime laws protect folks from discrimination due to color, religion, race, and national origin.