News Round-Up: November 17, 2020

Joe Blizzard (image via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Woofy Joe Blizzard (above) is getting through the rough Miami winter the best he can 🙂

Kenneth-in-the-212: The venerable NYC-based gay blog turned 15 recently! Hit the link to check out Kenneth’s Top 10 posts over the years. Congratulations, Kenneth!

Broadway World: NBC is bringing the magic of Dr. Seuss’ world to life in a new musical production airing next month. Matthew Morrison (GLEE, Hairspray) will star as the title role in Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical! set to air Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. ET/PT from the Troubadour Theatre in London.

STAT News: Pfizer may be within days of filing for an emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine, having collected the safety data necessary to submit an application to the Food and Drug Administration, CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday.

Eonline: 13 years after Isaiah Washington was fired for calling his Grey’s Anatomy co-star T.R. Knight a ‘faggot’ on set, he reignited his feud with former co-star Katherine Heigl, who stood up for Knight at the time of Washington’s hate speech. There was no apparent reason cited for Washington reinvigorating the incident. Oh, and he’s a big Trump supporter, so…

Instinct Magazine: The European Union has announced a new strategy to fight anti-LGBTQ laws and sentiments across its borders. The union specifically made this announcement as a response to discrimination skyrocketing in Poland and Hungary.

 

Supreme Court May Rule In Favor Of Adoption Agency That Won’t Work With LGBTQ Couples

(stock photo via Depositphotos)

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.

From CNBC:

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.

WH Press Sec: Trump Has ‘Great Record’ On LGBTQ Issues (Oh, My Sides…)

L-R Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany

During a recent press briefing at the White House, Donald Trump’s Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany dodged a question from Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson about Trump’s ban on transgender service members which was announced out of the blue via Twitter three years ago.

The Trump policy requires the discharge of any current service member diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a characteristic of being transgender. Those service members are also not allowed any transition-related care. Additionally, anyone with a history of gender dysphoria is banned from enlisting unless they agree to serve as the sex assigned to them at birth.

Johnson asked if Trump would reconsider the policy and mentioned that 116 members of Congress have urged the Donald to end the ban especially in light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which banned anti-LGBTQ+ workplace discrimination.

The question led McEnany to abruptly pivot to the false claim that the president has a pro-LGBTQ+ record.

“I haven’t talked to him about that specific policy, but this president is proud that in 2019 we launched a global initiative to end the criminalization of homosexuality throughout the world,” said McEnany reading from a prepared list of inaccurate claims. “He has a great record when it comes to the LGBT community. The Trump administration eased a ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men and he launched a plan to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”

Johnson tried to stay on topic by pointing out that while the ban is still in place, there are over 14K active military service members who identify as transgender, polls showing 70% of Americans support the rights of trans people to serve the country they love, and major medical associations saying there’s no problem with transgender people serving.

But McEnany brushed those facts aside before moving on to another reporter.

“I have no updates for you, but several of the events that you cited, like the Supreme Court ruling, I would refer you back to Justice Kavanaugh, who said, ‘We are judges, we’re not members of Congress. Instead of a hard-earned victory won through the Democratic process, today’s victory is brought about by judicial dictates.’ So we’ll always stand on the side of correct statutory interpretation.”

Now, to anyone paying attention to Donald Trump and his administration here on Earth One, it’s clear that the Donald has a less-than-stellar record when it comes to the LGBTQ community.

Here’s just a shortlist of topics where Trump has attempted to harm or diminish the LGBTQ community:

First, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rolled back a provision in the Affordable Care Act that banned anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health care settings.

Last November, HHS proposed removing regulatory provisions that explicitly prohibit organizations that receive HHS grant funding from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, and religion.

In addition to transgender military service members, Trump has attempted to discharge HIV-positive military members.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has proposed allowing homeless shelters to discriminate against transgender people.

Trump’s Justice Department has argued in favor of those seeking the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people in the workplace. (p.s. they lost…)

Regarding the easing of restrictions on blood donations by gay men, when asked about the change in April Trump said he “didn’t know anything about that.”

Additionally, Trump has publicly stated his opposition to The Equality Act that would make discrimination against LGBTQ people federal law.

And then there are the slaps in the face like refusing to issue a Pride Month proclamation (which President Obama did all 8 years of his administration) as well as banning U.S. embassies from flying Pride flags during the month of June.

And by the way, how is that ‘global initiative’ to end the criminalization of homosexuality going? We’ve heard no word about it since it was announced

(source: Washington Blade)

Gay HS Senior Barred From Walking In Graduation For Wearing Pants

A queer high school senior in South Carolina wasn’t allowed to walk in her own graduation because – wait for it – she wore pants.

While a lot of graduation ceremonies became virtual events due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Lamar High School in Darlington County managed to hold its 2020 event in the open air on the football field Tuesday afternoon.

But when Dynasia Clark, who’s openly lesbian, arrived at wearing pants – her attire of choice – she was informed she was in violation of the dress code (which requires women to wear a dress during the ceremony) and wouldn’t be allowed to take part.

It’s worth noting that all of those taking part in the ceremony were wearing graduation gowns. So, no one could really see what Clark was wearing underneath.

With just minutes before the ceremony was to begin, Clark walked off the field.

(screen capture via WPDE)

Speaking to the local ABC News affiliate WPDE, Clark said, “I was angry more than anything because we worked hard to even have a graduation, and then I can’t walk because I don’t got on a dress.”

She also shared that, after four years of being out while attending the school, “They already know how I am, they already know I’m not going to wear a dress.”

But she didn’t leave the event. Standing outside the venue gates, she waited to hear her name called as the students walked across the stage to accept their diplomas.

However, the school decided to delete her name from the list of graduates’ names read. Clark was, understandably, stunned.

“That was the part that made me more mad than anything because, even if I couldn’t walk, I was there,” explained the teen. “You could have still called my name.”

“It seems crazy to me,” she added. “It seems stupid, like petty, because it was just an outfit to me.”

The Darlington County School District sent this statement to WPDE:

“The Lamar High School dress code for graduation has been in place for more than 20 years. We welcome students or parents who have concerns with any policy or procedure to meet with administration and discuss those concerns. In the past, when a student raised concern with the administration about the dress code prior to graduation day, the issue was addressed.”

Still, Clark’s disappointment was palpable as she told reporter Carlos Flores, “It shouldn’t have stopped me from doing something that I have been waiting on for 12 years. I went to school. Everybody be happy for their graduation day and I couldn’t even experience that.”

You can watch WPDE’s report here.

Florida: Corporations End School Voucher Funding After Report Of LGBTQ Discrimination

The Orlando Sentinel recently reported that 156 private Florida schools (all of them Christian) that receive public scholarship funding also discriminate against LGBTQ students and their families.

The Sentinel found 83 schools that refuse to admit LGBTQ students or could expel them if their sexual orientation or gender identity were discovered. Some also refuse to educate students whose parents are gay or to hire staff who are gay.

Another 73 schools call being gay or transgender a biblical sin but do not explain how those views play out in admissions or student discipline decisions.

Following the article, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D) tweeted to companies who continue to donate to the voucher program and tagged Fifth Third Bank in the tweet.

Fifth Third Bank responded saying, “Thanks Rep. Smith for your feedback. We definitely stand with #LGBTQ students and parents. We have communicated with program officials that we will not be contributing again until more inclusive policies have been adopted by all participating schools to protect the sexual orientation of all our students. (And, we will see you at the next @OrlandoPride!).”

“These schools are literally poisoning children’s minds against LGBTQ people, and they are funded by taxpayers,” Smith later told Florida Politics. “It’s wrong.”

Tennessee Gov. Signs Anti-Gay Adoption Bill Into Law

Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee (image via campaign website)

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.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, denounced the new law.

“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.

Anti-LGBTQ Adoption Law Passes In Tennessee

New law in Tennessee will allow adoption agencies to turn LGBTQ couples away

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 Tennessean reports 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.

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.”

Boss Cuts Employee’s Salary In Half After Discovering He’s Gay

Stock photo showing a fired male employee sitting at his desk
Stock photo showing a fired male employee sitting at his desk
(stock photo via Depositphotos)

A gay man working at an event company found his salary cut in half after his boss found out he was gay.

Two weeks later, the gay employee was fired.

The New York Post reports Wesley Wernecke was recruited, hired and began working for Eventique in New York City on June 3 as a Senior Producer.

One week into settling into the new gig, a coworker noticed his wedding ring and asked, “So what does your wife’s ring look like?”

According to court papers filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday, Wernecke shared that his partner, Evan, had a similar ring.

Eventique founder and executive producer Liron David was in the room at the time of the conversation, and soon Wernecke found himself left out of conference meetings as well as being excluded from after-work drinks with other male colleagues.

Court documents for the lawsuit allege, “David took all these tactics to exclude Wernecke because David had already made up his mind that, despite the proficiency of Wernecke’s work, he would not accept having an openly gay man working in the office, and he intended to get rid of Wernecke.”

Wernecke soldiered on for months, but on September 20 David informed Wernecke that he was reducing his salary from $145,000 to $70,000.

“I couldn’t sleep at night thinking you were being paid so much more than the other females in the office,” David told the 32-year-old reports the Post.

Wernecke says he believes David made the comment “to reinforce Wernecke’s understanding that David considered Wernecke to be a sexual deviant and unfit to work at Eventique.”

Wernecke soon discovered his pay was actually slashed to $58,000. And two weeks later, on October 4, Wernecke was told he was being fired due to “deficiencies” and “errors” in his work.

Wernecke’s lawyer, Anthony Consiglio at the law firm Cary Kane, told the Post his client is an “accomplished marketing director and producer of live events” who is now seeing a therapist for the first time in his life due to the discriminatory treatment.

“These acts cannot be reconciled with the liberal anti-discrimination positions written into law in New York City and State to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender people in their workplaces,” Consiglio said.

Gena Zaiderman, David’s attorney, told the Post her client considers the allegations in the court filing “baseless” and “shocking.”

“Mr. David firmly stands by his long-standing reputation for fairness and professionalism,” said Zaiderman. “We expect that the facts will be revealed in due course.”

(source: NY Post)

News Round-Up: November 8, 2019

Steve_in_LA via Instagram

Steve_in_LA via Instagram

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Woofy Steve_in_LA and company (above) look totes relaxed for the holiday weekend.

Deadline: The fourth and final season of Kit Williamson’s Emmy-nominated LGBTQ series Eastsiders will be available on Netflix on December 1.

CBS News: House Republicans plan to announce Congressman Jim Jordan will move to the House Intelligence Committee, replacing Congressman Rick Crawford. The intent is to have Jordan, a staunch defender of Donald Trump, present during hearings to disrupt the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

World Rugby: If you’ve ever followed rugby, you may have noticed that occasionally a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ can occur on the field. Via Instagram with the caption, “Cheeky offload…” LOL

 

View this post on Instagram

 

……Cheeky offload…..🙈 #RWC2019

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Politico: In order for Democratic presidential candidates to make the upcoming December 19 debate, they must garner 4% support in at least four DNC-approved polls of primary voters nationally or in early voting states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina) — or, instead, they can qualify by hitting 6% in two approved early state polls. They must also show donations from 200,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 800 donors in 20 states, territories or Washington, D.C.

Advocate: Two federal judges have now struck down a new rule announced by Donald Trump’s Health and Human Services Department that would allow health care professionals to deny certain medical treatments or services to patients based on the provider’s own religious or moral beliefs — regardless of whether the patient could obtain the care from another provider.

ET: Tina Turner took to the stage of the Lunt-Fontanne Theater during the opening night of Broadway’s Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, in New York on Thursday night.

The NY Times review found the book of the musical rather flimsy but raved about Adrienne Warren’s star-making performance as the legendary rocker.

Kentucky: Anti-LGBTQ Printer Wins At Supreme Court On Technicality

 

(stock image via Depositphotos)

The Kentucky state Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Lexington print shop owner who refused to make LGBTQ Pride t-shirts because of his religious beliefs.

Back in 2012, Hands On Originals print shop declined to make t-shirts bearing a design that read, “Lexington Pride Festival.”

The owner of the company, Blaine Adamson, told reporters after a hearing before the state Supreme Court he couldn’t produce the shirts because the message “goes against my conscience.”

“Because of my Christian beliefs, I can’t promote that,” Adamson told a Human Rights Commission hearing officer at the time. “Specifically, it’s the Lexington Pride Festival, the name and that it’s advocating pride in being gay and being homosexual, and I can’t promote that message. It’s something that goes against my belief system.”

But the city of Lexington’s fairness ordinance prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in issues relating to housing, employment, and public accommodation.

So, the local Gay and Lesbian Services Organization filed a complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission claiming Adamson unfairly discriminated in declining the t-shirt order.

According to the Courier-Journal, the HRC ordered Hands On Originals to print the shirts and attend diversity training classes.

The t-shirt Hands On Originals declined to make (image provided)

Adamson, represented by the virulently anti-LGBTQ legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, appealed his case and won at both the circuit court and state court of appeals.

This past August, his case landed at the state Supreme Court which has now decided in Adamson’s favor – but on a technicality.

The state high court dismissed the case ruling that the Lexington Gay and Lesbian Services Organization lacked standing to sue the t-shirt company because the GLSO wasn’t the party denied service by Hands On Originals.

The individual who originally placed the order and was turned away would have been the correct party to file suit according to the high court’s ruling.

“Without a proper complainant, no determination can be made as to whether the ordinance was violated,” Justice Laurance VanMeter of Lexington wrote for the court’s majority.

“While this result is no doubt disappointing to many interested in this case and its potential outcome, the fact that the wrong party filed the complaint makes the discrimination analysis almost impossible to conduct, including issues related to freedom of expression and religion,” VanMeter wrote.

And Justice David Buckingham, who wrote a concurring opinion, chastised the Lexington Human Rights League for trying to force Hands On Originals to “engage in expression with which it disagreed.”

Buckingham wrote, “When expression is involved, whether a parade organizer, a newspaper or a t-shirt company, a publisher may discriminate on the basis of content, even if that content relates to a protected classification.”

Raymond Sexton, executive director for the Human Rights Commission told the press he is reviewing the Supreme Court’s ruling and will discuss any possible further action at the next meeting of the commission.

(source: Courier-Journal)