News Round-Up: July 22, 2021

(image via Provincetown Bears)

Some news items you might have missed:

WCVB: Massachusetts health officials now say 256 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a Fourth of July holiday cluster in Provincetown. Many of those who tested positive had been vaccinated, but the good news is…(see next item)

The Hill: Two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are 88 percent effective against the delta variant, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

OUT: Just ahead of the release of his latest single “Industry Baby,” Lil Nas X took to social media to post an emotional letter he wrote to his young, 20-year-old self, and his words of love and affirmation really hit home to anyone who has ever felt stuck in their lives.

Edge Media: Federal judges have temporarily blocked an Arkansas law banning gender confirming treatments for transgender youth and a West Virginia ban on trans athletes in women’s sports, two major victories for LGBTQ advocates against a wave of restrictions approved by Republican legislators.

Washington Blade: The U.S. Senate has confirmed two Biden nominees — one lesbian, another transgender — for high-profile positions at the Defense Department by unanimous consent. Gina Ortiz Jones, a lesbian former Air Force pilot, was confirmed as under secretary of the Air Force, and Shawn Skelly, a transgender 20-year U.S. Navy veteran, was confirmed as assistant secretary of defense for readiness.

HuffPost: Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) on Thursday tried to shame Democrats for not saying whether they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 ― except every Democratic lawmaker is vaccinated and has confirmed as much, unlike a huge portion of Republicans who either aren’t vaccinated or won’t say.

Court Recognizes Same-Sex Parents Have Parental Rights

Photo of mother and daughter hitting 'high five'
Photo of mother and daughter hitting 'high five'
(stock photo: Any Lane from Pexels)

Yesterday, the Michigan Court of Appeals recognized two unmarried women as parents where one parent is a genetic parent and the other parent gave birth.

LaNesha Matthews and Kyresha LeFever were a same-sex couple who had twins together using assisted reproduction. The children were conceived through in vitro fertilization using Kyresha’s eggs, and LaNesha gave birth. Last year, a trial court ruled LaNesha is a surrogate with no parental rights because she is not a genetic parent, even though she always intended to be a mother and parented the children since they were born seven years ago.

After the parents broke up, they shared custody for several years before going to court after a dispute. The trial court ruled that LaNesha was not a parent, removed LaNesha from the birth certificates, prevented her from participating in their educational or medical decision-making, and allowed her only limited visitation as an unrelated “third party.”

On April 1, 2021, the Michigan Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the trial court’s ruling, finding that LaNesha and Kyresha are both equal parents to their children. One of the judges wrote an additional opinion explaining that all parents and their children have a constitutional right to be recognized, regardless of birth or genetics.

“We are grateful that our client and her children are once again recognized as a family,” said NCLR Family Law Director Cathy Sakimura. “We know that families are formed in many ways. Recognizing genetics as the only basis for parent-child relationships leaves out many families and harms children by separating them from their parents.”

NCLR represented LaNesha on appeal before the Michigan Court of Appeals along with her trial counsel Regina Jemison.

(via press release from NCLR)

Wendy Williams Denies Lesbian Rumor: ‘I Like Men And I Like The D’

Wendy Williams (screen capture)

During a lengthy rant on her daily gabfest on Tuesday, Wendy Williams declared in no uncertain terms she is not a lesbian because “I like men and I like the D.”

Williams was apparently addressing a recent Radar Online piece – “Sorry Whitney! Houston’s Lesbian Lover Robyn Crawford Now BFFs With Wendy Williams” – that seemed to imply the talk show host had been crushing on Robyn Crawford, Whitney Houston’s alleged lesbian lover.

Radar based the report on Rob Shuter’s podcast, Straight Shuter, where gossip guy Shuter opined that Crawford and Williams “really hit it off” during Crawford’s November 12 appearance on the talk show promoting her new book, A Song for You: My Life With Whitney Houston.

“Since the taping, Wendy and Robin have been texting each other,” read the Radar article. “They have become close and are getting dinner next week.”

Williams came across the insinuating chatter and took it to the cameras.

“In between commercials and everything, I go on the googler schmoogler and I go to Radar Online, speaking of how you doin’, and I see that Rob Shuter – he’s insinuating that something romantical is going on between me and Robyn Crawford,” Williams shared as the studio audience chuckled.

“I am no lesbian, I like women for friendship. I like men and I like the D,” said Williams before reaching for her coffee cup.

Underscoring her point, Williams added with a playful tone, “First of all, I’m not down with that – all due respect to the lesbians.”

Williams, who recently divorced her husband of nearly 22 years,  also pointed out Crawford is married with children and Miss Wendy is “not a homewrecker.”

“I’ve never even been curious,” she made a point to include.

“It’s so complicated being a woman,” Williams said. “I just couldn’t imagine two of us in a relationship.”

“I mean, yesterday after the show, I got the surprise of my life – at 55, I got a period,” said the recent divorcee in a bit of oversharing. “I just can’t deal with two of us under the same roof,” she said.

Maybe she was just short of material for her Hot Topics segment, but it seems like a lot of acting out over a lesbian rumor in 2019.

You can watch the bit in the clip below.

Whitney Houston’s Rumored Ex-Girlfriend To Pen Tell-All Memoir

Robyn Crawford, Whitney Houston’s long-rumored lesbian lover, says she will “set the record straight” once and for all in a new memoir titled, A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston, due out November 5.

Robyn Crawford, Whitney Houston’s long-rumored lesbian lover, says she will “set the record straight” once and for all in a new memoir titled, A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston, due out November 5.

During their decades-long friendship, both women denied any romantic involvement with each other. But fans have long speculated about the nature of their relationship.

Since Houston’s death at the age of 48 in 2012, there have been two documentary films of Houston’s life – Nick Broomfield’s Whitney: Can I Be Me?, and Kevin MacDonald’s Whitney. Both films addressed Houston’s rumored bisexuality and the women’s speculated relationship.

Crawford, notably, declined to take part in either project.

Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston, famously told Oprah in 2013 that it “absolutely” would have bothered her if Whitney had been lesbian or bisexual.

Bobby Brown, Houston’s ex-husband, shared with US Weekly in 2016 that he felt Houston would still be alive today if the “I Will Always Love You” singer’s family had accepted Robyn.

According to the book’s official synopsis, “In A Song for You, Robyn breaks her silence to share the moving and often complicated story of her life and relationship with Whitney.”

Whitney Houston (image via YouTube/I Will Always Love You)

The memoir will follow the years from the women’s meeting in the 1980s, to the singer’s self-titled debut album in 1985, her record-breaking world tours, the success of The Bodyguard, and more.

The publisher of the upcoming book, Penguin imprint Dutton, describes the release as “the vital, honest and previously untold story that provides an understanding of the complex life of Whitney Houston,” and promises that “finally, the person who knew her best sets the record straight.”

The talkers at E! News’s ‘Daily Pop’ discuss the upcoming book below.

Former Cable Repair Tech Shares Tales From The Job

From a personal essay by Lauren Hough for HuffPost chronicling the kinds of folks she encountered over ten years on the job doing TV cable repair.

From a personal essay by Lauren Hough for HuffPost chronicling the kinds of folks she encountered over ten years on the job doing TV cable repair.

Here’s just one episode:

The one that comes to mind now is the anti-gay lobbyist whose office was lined with framed appreciation from Focus on the Family, and pictures with Pat Buchanan and Jerry Falwell, but whose son’s room was painted pink and littered with Barbies.

The hypocrite’s son said he was still a boy. He just thought his sundress was really cute. I agreed, told him I love daisies, and he beamed.

His father thanked me, and I wanted to tell him to go fuck himself. How the fuck do you actively work to ensure the world’s a more dangerous place for your beautiful little kid?

But I didn’t ask him that. I just stood and glared at him until he looked away. I needed the job.

I assumed his kid would grow up to hate him.

Hough also notes, through her adventures, that conservatives tended to treat her like a servant, while blue collar and sex worker customers were more polite and likely to tip after she would complete repairs.

She also shares a story about the wife of a Fox News junkie who insisted on calling her “Larry,” mistaking her for a man since she is actually a six foot tall military veteran who’s also a lesbian.

After telling the Foxer it would be 7-10 days to get his cable TV back up to speed, the wife (who had spent the entire visit cleaning the already clean kitchen counter) came out to Hough’s van to apologize for her husband.

I said, “It’s fine.” I said there really wasn’t anything I could do. She blinked back the flood of tears she’d been holding since God knows when. She said, “It’s just, when he has Fox, he has Obama to hate. If he doesn’t have that …” She kept looking over her shoulder. She was terrified of him. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I just need him to have Fox.” I got out of my van.

Hough eventually finds herself assigned to doing repairs at former Vice President Dick Cheney’s home.

I found the entire read very interesting.

Lesbian Couple Denied Housing at St. Louis Senior Community

 A senior same-sex married couple in Missouri have been turned away by a senior housing community because of the couple’s sexual orientation.
Bev Nance and Mary Walsh (image via Mary Walsh)

 A senior lesbian married couple in Missouri have been turned away by a senior housing community because of the couple’s sexual orientation.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting on a new law suit filed by Bev Nance, 68, and Mary Walsh, 72, who have been denied housing by the Friendship Village senior living community because they are married to each other.

The couple, who have been together for almost four decades and legally married since 2009, had toured the Sunset Hills location several times and even put down a $2,000 deposit.

According to the lawsuit, the couple were denied housing because their same-sex relationship violated Friendship Village’s cohabitation policy that views marriage as “the union of one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible.”

The Post Dispatch received a statement from Friendship Village which read: “We have just been made aware of a lawsuit that we have not yet seen and have not had an opportunity to review. This matter will be discussed with legal counsel and (we) have no further comment at this time.”

Nance and Walsh are being represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the ACLU and Washington-based law firm of Relman, Dane & Colfax.

The couple’s legal team says the policy violates the Fair Housing Act in terms of sex discrimination. Since the women are married to females, not men, the decision to deny them occupancy is, in essence, discrimination based on their sex.

However, Missouri’s public accommodation laws don’t include sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Mary and Bev were denied housing for one reason and one reason only — because they were married to each other rather than to men. This is exactly the type of sex discrimination the Fair Housing Act prohibits,” said Julie Wilensky, an attorney for the NCLR, said in a statement to the press. “Their story demonstrates the kind of exclusion and discrimination still facing same-sex couples of all ages.”

The couple attempted to move into Friendship Village in 2016. After multiple visits and several conversations with the staff they put down a $2,000 deposit in order to get on a waiting list. It was only after that they were informed of the “longstanding” policy on cohabitation.

From The Post-Dispatch:

The Friendship Village website says it is a nonprofit that provides “a fulfilling, worry-free lifestyle” to more than 1,000 seniors in Chesterfield and Sunset Hills. Its mission statement says, “Guided by Biblical values, continually serve the senior community with quality offerings that promote lifelong well-being.”

Walsh and Nance considered other housing but said Friendship Village was the only place in the St. Louis area “that can provide increased levels of care without an increased monthly cost to residents.”

According to the lawsuit, a letter to Walsh dated July 29, 2016, from Michael Heselbarth, a top administrator with the retirement village, said: “ Your request to share a single unit does not fall within the categories permitted by the long-standing policy of Friendship Village Sunset Hills.”

Legal experts are divided on the possibility of winning the lawsuit.

Anders Walker, a constitutional law professor at St. Louis University, told the Post-Dispatch, “My gut instinct is they’re probably out of luck.”

“When a private body doesn’t want to rent a room to you, for them, that’s freedom of association,” he added. “They’re probably entitled to their deposit back.”

But Marcia McCormick, an employment and labor law expert, says Friendship Village’s religious freedom claim “does have to be sincere. The defense of the First Amendment does not excuse discrimination in the Fair Housing Law.”

(h/t St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

News Round-Up: July 22, 2018

UK fitness guy Dan Tai (above) worked out with a broken wrist this weekend. #slacker #woof #ThatFace - plus some other news stories
Dan Tai

 Some news items you might have missed:

• UK fitness guy Dan Tai (above) worked out with a broken wrist this weekend. #slacker #woof #ThatFace

• Cuba is currently in the process of re-writing its constitution, and the latest draft opens the door to same-sex marriage. Instead listing marriage as between husband and wife, the language presently only defines marriage as ‘between two individuals.’

• Step aside, Batman. The CW is currently developing a new addition to the DC super-hero universe of TV shows around the character of “Batwoman,” aka Kate Kane. Kane, a lesbian, would be DC’s first openly LGBT character on TV.

• Also in super-news, the CW’s Supergirl is making TV history having cast transgender activist and actress Nicole Maines to play TV’s first transgender superhero, Nia Nal (aka Dreamer), a character described as a soulful young transgender woman with a fierce drive to protect others.

• A gay couple in Indiana were turned away by an anti-gay florist when shopping for flowers for their wedding. Rita Harris of Avon Flowers was initially fine with the impending wedding date, but when she realized there wasn’t a bride, she suddenly had a vacation planned and wasn’t available. #liar

• New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch will not punish his players for any displays of protest during the national anthem. Tisch added that Donald Trump’s interference in the issue shows “he has no understanding of why they take a knee or why they’re protesting.”

• Sexy out artist Billy Winn begins his new EP, Dreamland I, with “Seal It with a Kiss,” a smooth, electro-pop track written and produced by Billy and Johnie & Elliot of the production team OneVision, about an attraction that’s so strong, words are not needed to express it.

Check out the new music video “Seal It with a Kiss” below and head over to his Soundcloud to hear the full EP.

Podcast: Talking With Nevada State Senator Pat Spearman

Nevada state Sen. Pat Spearman

Today I’m talking with Nevada state Sen. Pat Spearman who is running for the Democratic nomination in Nevada’s District 4 for Congress.

The word “qualified” doesn’t even begin to cover the senator’s resume.

In her multi-faceted career, she’s earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, a Doctor of Business Administration degree, and a Masters degree in Divinity.

A 29 year veteran of the U.S. Army where she achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel, she was elected to the Nevada state Senate in two landslide victories.

Spearman is smart, smart, smart.

She’s the only LGBTQ candidate running in Nevada this election cycle.

Hit the play button as we talk about what’s at stake this campaign season.

Jennifer Aniston To Play First Lesbian President In Upcoming Netflix Comedy ‘First Ladies’

Jennifer Aniston (image via Flickr)

Jennifer Aniston is heading to the White House in Netflix’s upcoming comedy, First Ladies.

Netflix has announced that Jennifer Aniston and comedian Tig Notaro are set to star in the political comedy playing the most powerful couple in the world: president and first lady. Aniston will play POTUS and Notaro will play FLOTUS.

We’ve seen a few female presidents in movies and TV up to now, but never a lesbian couple taking up residence at the most famous address in the world.

The project was pitched by Notaro and her wife Stephanie Allynne, who will also write the screenplay.

According to the log line, “First Ladies is a political comedy about America’s first female President and her wife, The First Lady. When Beverly and Kasey Nicholson move into the White House, they’ll prove that behind every great woman… is another great woman.”

While the script hasn’t been written yet, the streaming network has already lined-up producers including Will Ferrell, Jessica Elbaum, Adam McKay, and Betsy Koch as well as Aniston and Notaro.