• The Advocate: Same-sex spouses who were ineligible for Social Security survivor’s benefits because of discriminatory marriage laws can now receive them after the Biden administration withdrew appeals filed by the Trump administration against lower court rulings in favor of LGBTQs. Continue reading “News Round-Up: November 2, 2021”
• ABC13: H Scott Apley (above), an anti-vaxxer and a leader in the Texas Republican Party, died just days after being diagnosed with COVID. His wife and 5-month-old son tested positive as well. Apley mocked federal “hand-outs” during the pandemic on social media, so it will come as no surprise friends have set up a crowd-funding campaign asking for $35K for the family. Continue reading “News Round-Up: August 4, 2021”
• TBT: As I get to spend more afternoons at the cement pond these days, I do miss my bestie Bruno (above) who always made the sunshine that much brighter. Not sad – happy he happened 🙂
• The Hill: A new study shows 52% percent of LGBTQ adults say that someone had threatened them with violence since they were age 18. Sixty-seven percent of LBQ cisgender women, 75 percent of GBQ cis men and 70 percent of transgender people said they had been bullied often or sometimes before age 18.
• Pink News: The crowd erupted into cheers at Wednesday evening’s football match between Hungary and Germany when a supporter ran out onto the pitch with a Pride flag as the Hungarian national anthem played.
• USA Today: Missouri is becoming a cautionary COVID tale for the rest of the country: It is seeing an alarming rise in cases because of a combination of the fast-spreading delta variant and stubborn resistance among many people to getting vaccinated. Intensive care beds are filling up with surprisingly young, unvaccinated patients.
• CNN: In the new book, Frankly We Did Win This Election, Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal reports that Donald Trump would highlight videos that showed law enforcement getting physical with protesters and say, “That’s how you’re supposed to handle these people. Crack their skulls!” Trump also told his team that he wanted the military to go in and “beat the f–k out” of the civil rights protesters.
• ABC News: President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday announced they had reached a framework $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal after a White House meeting. Biden emphasized that it all comes “without raising a cent from earners below $400,000.”
A woman in Branson, Missouri, was captured on video at a Black Lives Matter protest earlier this week waving a Confederate flag and yelling at protesters “I will teach my grandkids to hate you all.” She also called out “KKK belief.”
Kathy Jenkins told local news station KOLR10 that since the video went viral she’s lost her job (a punishment she says she deserves) and has left Branson, her home of six years.
Jenkins claims, however, that she “blacked out” and doesn’t remember making those racist statements to BLM protesters assembled outside a store that sells Confederate merchandise. She does, however, say she remembers chanting along with the protesters “Black Lives Matter.”
According to Jenkins, she was watching the protest from the other side of the street and was handed a Confederate flag. She says she thought it was a symbol of “unity.”
Jenkins says in the video she was yelling at a pair of neighbors who were heckling her and calling her a racist for waving the flag.
“I wasn’t saying I’m KKK or for the KKK,” she told KOLR10 reporter David Chasanov on Wednesday. “I was mocking them because I don’t like being called a racist.”
“I’m so, so sorry,” Jenkins told KOLR10. “I mean, if it would help for me to stand with Black Lives Matter, I absolutely would do that.”
“I didn’t understand that the Confederate flag meant hate,” said Jenkins. “I don’t understand the whole history of the Confederate flag, but I’m learning.”
But Faith Pittser, one of the Black Lives Matter organizers, disagreed with that version of the story. She told the news station in a statement:
“She knew exactly what she was doing. She was there from the start on the counter-protesters’ side shouting obscenities and hateful words at our protesters. I think her claims to not know what the confederate flag is and what it represents are absurd and lies. She proudly shouted “KKK belief” in front of all of us.
“Her apology does not make sense as she’s trying to state she didn’t realize she was on the opposing side. How do you not realize that if you’re on Dixie Outfitter’s property holding a confederate flag along with the other counter-protesters that are facing us? She never once shouted ‘black lives matter’ along with us. This woman is lying and apologizing because she’s sorry she got caught in her acts of racism.”
Here’s the original video that went viral on Twitter. The clip has been viewed over 13 million times.
Baker is forthcoming about his opposition to drag queens reading to children telling the Kansas City Star, “They’ve had these drag queen story hours and that’s something I take objection to and I think a lot of parents do.”
“That’s where in a public space, our kids could be exposed to something that’s age-inappropriate,” he added. “That’s what I’m trying to tackle.”
Baker’s bill would require each library to create five-person panels, or oversight boards, which would hold public hearings and decide what ‘material’ is age-appropriate.
Librarians who went ahead with events deemed ‘inappropriate’ by the board could be fined $500 and sentenced to a year in jail.
Baker alleges children seeing drag queens might lead to questions or a conversation with parents about ‘adult themes’ that parents may not feel ready to have.
But Cynthia Dudenhoffer, president of the Missouri Library Association, says oversight already exists in the form of a board of trustees elected or appointed by the community.
In an official statement, Dudenhoffer objected to the proposed legislation calling it “censorship.”
What’s missing from Baker’s view on the issue is attendance at Drag Queen Story Hours is all completely voluntary. No one is forcing children to attend such events.
Local performers are already planning to protest the legislation in the state’s capital on March 7.
Tanner Rambo, a Springfield promoter who represents two drag queens organizing the protest, told the Springfield News-Leader, “This kind of bill is just bad policy.”
“You’re talking about people in big, goofy dresses telling stories in funny voices and trying to get kids interested in reading, which I think we should all want,” said Rambo.
He added, “If you want to disagree philosophically, you can. Don’t go. These aren’t things people are mandated to attend.”
Rambo also notes that Baker has a history of anti-LGBTQ animus having proposed legislation that would allow adoption agencies to turn away gay couples looking to adopt if doing so offended their ‘sincerely held beliefs.’
The Starreports that while Kansas City’s public library hasn’t held Drag Queen Story Hours, such events at St. Louis public libraries are among the most popular with hundreds attending.
I have to add that I agree with Mr. Rambo. The point of Drag Queen Story Hours is to encourage children to suspend belief and explore their imagination while embracing a message of diversity and acceptance.
The American Library Association has fully endorsed these types of programs, in any iteration, as a right to intellectual freedom. They have even curated a collection of resources for individuals seeking to bring Drag Queen Storytime to their libraries or community spaces.
• InstaHunks: Hottie Tyler James has folks’ safety in mind when he asks, “Anyone need their driveway shoveled?” Is that a euphemism…?
• The Hill: The latest Iowa State University–Civiqs poll finds Mayor Pete Buttigieg currently leading the race in Iowa at 24 percent, followed by Sanders at 21 percent, Warren at 18 percent and former Vice President Joe Biden at 15 percent. No other candidate is polling above 4 percent in the survey.
• Buzzfeed News: High school students in Missouri responded to Pride flags being handed out by flying the Confederate flag. After the racist flag was removed, the school decided there would be no disciplinary action taken hoping instead to “teach our students to respect each other and to respect different viewpoints on a variety of social issues.” Note – LGBTQ pride is pride; the Confederate flag stands for a war fought to keep slavery.
• DListed: The highest-paid YouTuber is an eight-year-old named Ryan Kaji who has earned $26 million this year reviewing toys.
• NBC News: Until Wednesday afternoon, the fictional country from the popular 2018 Marvel superhero movie “Black Panther” was listed as a free trade agreement partner of the United States by the USDA’s tariff tracker.
• Des Moines Register: An Ames man was sentenced Wednesday to about 16 years in prison after he set fire to a church LGBTQ flag in June. Adolfo Martinez, 30, of Ames, last month was found guilty of a hate crime — a class “D” felony — third-degree harassment and reckless use of fire.
• NY Post: While Donald Trump was hunkered down in the White House monitoring impeachment proceedings Wednesday, his predecessor in the Oval Office was hitting the links in Hawaii. Barack Obama — a native of Honolulu — was photographed on the course at the Mid-Pacific Country Club in Lanikai, O’ahu, playing a round of golf under sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s.
In the spring of 2014, St. Louis County police Sgt. Keith Wildhaber says he was told he would need to “tone down his gayness” if he hoped to be promoted to lieutenant.
The comment, according to Wildhaber, came from a former member of the St. Louis County Police Board of Commissioners, John Saracino, a short time after Chief Jon Belmar took over the department.
“I was sickened by it,” said Wildhaber on the first day of his employment discrimination lawsuit against the department, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“I think I said, ‘I can’t believe we are having this conversation in 2014.’ It was devastating to hear,” Wildhaber told the jury. “We had never spoken of my sexuality before, and I thought he was just trying to be helpful to me and looking out for my best interest in the promotional process.”
Saracino later denied making the comment.
Wildhaber filed the lawsuit in 2017 after being passed over for promotion 23 times.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at the time Wildhaber ranked third among 26 people who took a promotions test in February 2014. In February 2015, he again placed third in a second round of tests.
On the opening day of the lawsuit, lawyers representing Wildhaber characterized Chief Belmar as “having a penchant for promoting masculine men that dominates all promotional decisions and said that he will retaliate against anyone who questions them, as Wildhaber did by filing his lawsuit.”
“The police department under Chief Belmar is big on high-testosterone, type A masculine personalities, and my method of policing doesn’t conform with that,” testified Wildhaber, who contends he would have been promoted if he weren’t openly gay. “This chief is very heavy on promoting the SWAT, masculine type of guys, and I wasn’t doing that.”
Wildhaber’s attorneys told the jury that, after filing his lawsuit, Wildhaber was transferred to the Jennings precinct which nearly tripled his daily commute to work. And he was moved from afternoon shifts and put on midnights.
Wildhaber told the court, “It’s what’s known as a ‘geography lesson’ in the department.”
Lawyers for the department told the jury the police chief had reasons not to promote the 22-year-veteran, who is still with the department.
The department’s attorney’s pointed to a three-day suspension in 2011 for failing to file 23 out of 6,000 police reports during his tenure as a fraud detective.
The lawyer’s also said Wildhaber had been the subject of an FBI investigation and hadn’t told Belmar. They accused him of tipping off a suspect the FBI was investigating.
But Wildhaber denied the allegations saying, “I didn’t do that,” adding that he informed his supervisor after being questioned by the FBI.
Attorneys for Wildhaber say there have been several officers with larger disciplinary issues in their file than Wildhaber who have been promoted to lieutenant.
The trial will continue on Wednesday.
Missouri has no laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace.
A bill to add sexual orientation to the state’s non-discrimination laws was passed by the state Senate on May 17, 2013, but the state House of Representatives adjourned that session without taking up the bill for consideration.
Dmitriy Andrechenko (mug shot – Greene County Sheriff’s office)
Just days after two mass shootings that left at least 31 dead and 53 more injured, Dmitriy Andreychenko decided he wanted to try a ‘social experiment’ at his local Walmart in Missouri.
According to the Washington Post, his wife told him it was a bad idea. His sister reminded him that the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, less than a week earlier had occured at a Walmart.
But Andreychenko, 20-years-old, decided to move forward with his plan.
So, with a military-style rifle strapped to his back, a semiautomatic handgun on his hip, and over 100 rounds of ammunition, he headed into his local Walmart clad in body armor this past Thursday.
He began walking around the store with his cell phone held in front of him recording the store’s customers.
Anyone reading this think folks might panic at the sight of all this after a maniac had just killed 22 people at a Walmart?
The manager of the store told an employee to pull the fire alarm to get people out of the store. Andreychenko headed for a side exit but was apparently stopped by a former member of the military who held him at gunpoint until police arrived.
Andreychenko told police he wanted to see if his 2nd Amendment rights “would be honored” in a public place. He told investigators he didn’t anticipate the customers’ reactions.
“This is Missouri,” he reportedly told investigators. “I understand if we were somewhere else like New York or California, people would freak out.”
I refer you back to the top of this story where his wife and sister tried to tell him just that.
Andreychenko has been charged with making a terrorist threat, saying he “recklessly disregarded the risk of causing a building evacuation by knowingly sowing fear in the wake of the El Paso mass shooting at the same retail chain,” according to theWashington Post.
Note – Missouri is an open-carry state. Not only that, but since 2017, people in the Show Me state have been allowed to carry concealed weapons without a permit in most locations.
Those laws, however, don’t entitle individuals to pull the gun equivalent of raising a false fire alarm in a crowded theater.
“Missouri protects the right of people to open carry a firearm, but that does not allow an individual to act in a reckless and criminal manner endangering other citizens,” Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson said in a statement.
Andreychenko’s second-degree felony charge carries up to four years’ imprisonment and a fine of as much as $10,000. He is being held on $10,000 bond with the stipulation that he may not possess a firearm, according to the prosecutor.
The 20-year-old social experimenter didn’t shoot anyone, but a police officer and another driver were seriously injured in a traffic accident as the officer was heading to the Walmart with lights and sirens on. Both the officer and driver had to be taken to the emergency room after suffering “severe injuries.”
On top of possible jail time, Andreychenko is now reportedly banned from Walmart stores.
“This was a reckless act designed to scare people, disrupt our business and it put our associates and customers at risk,” the company said in a statement. “We applaud the quick actions of our associates to evacuate customers from our store, and we’re thankful no one was injured.”
Speaking to CNN, Springfield Police Lt. Mike Lucas said Andreychenko “certainly had…the potential to harm people.”
“His intent was not to cause peace or comfort to anybody that was in the business,” Lucas said. “In fact, he’s lucky to be alive still, to be honest.”
Many folks thought back to November 2014 when 12-year-old Tamir Rice, an African-American boy in Cleveland, Ohio, was shot and killed by police was he was playing in a park with a toy gun.
The black folks are shot dead, the 20-year-old white guy packing all kinds of heat and in body armor is taken into custody without any harm.
America is a place where a white man can walk into a Missouri Walmart with body armor, a loaded rifle and 100 rounds of ammo to scare the shit out of people and he gets arrested without a scratch on him, but a 12-year-old black child was shot and killed for playing with a toy.