News Round-Up: June 8, 2021

(screen capture from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)

Some news items you might have missed:

Gallup Polling: U.S. support for legal same-sex marriage continues to trend upward, now at 70% – a new high in Gallup’s trend since 1996. This latest figure marks an increase of 10 percentage points since 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all states must recognize same-sex marriages.

Gothamist: Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that the vast majority of New York’s coronavirus restrictions and safety measures will be lifted once 70% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine—which he estimated could happen within the next two weeks.

Washington Blade: An East Texas bakery shared a photo of rainbow Pride cookies on Facebook and immediately got slammed with homophobic hate including customers cancelling huge orders. But by the next morning, the owners were deluged with orders offering to buy the cancelled cookies and a line of customers down the block buying out the entire bakery in a show of support.

NBC4i: An anti-vaccine physician told Ohio lawmakers Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccines can magnetize people. “I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures all over the internet of people who have had these shots and now they’re magnetized. They can put a key on their forehead. It sticks.”

NBC News: Wisconsin pharmacist Steven Brandenburg has been sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to destroying 500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in January. Brandenburg admitted he removed doses of Moderna vaccine from refrigeration storage overnight knowing it would render them ineffective.

Buzzfeed: Check out this list of 33 great LGBTQ-themed shows to watch on Hulu for Pride Month like Love, Victor or that awesome coming out dance sequence on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (top image).

Campaign Strategy: ‘Stable Genius’ Announces Blue States Have ‘Gone To Hell’

A new report from the Senate Judiciary committee reveals new details of Donald Trump's pressure campaign to have the Justice Department overturn the 2020 election

Here’s a campaign strategy I’ve never seen in presidential politics.

Donald Trump took to Twitter today to demonize several states including California, New York, and Illinois.

According to Trump, the Golden State is “going to hell,” the Empire State has “gone to hell,” and the Land of Lincoln “has no place to go.”

Why would a president of the “United States” attack Americans in such a manner?

And by the way, does the Donald forget there are Republicans running for public office in those states?

Gay Racist Toad Shouts N-Word, Attacks Guy Recording His A**holery

Just grotesque… (screen capture via YouTube)

Here’s a sad example that there’s a jerk in just about every demographic.

A video shared on social media shows a confrontation between a driver and a pedestrian escalate to violence after the driver realized he was captured on video calling a Black sanitation worker a “f*cking n****r.”

The incident took place on New York City’s Upper East Side over the weekend. After shouting the racist slur, the driver noticed a pedestrian was recording the ugliness.

“Are you recording me?” asked the driver.

“Yeah,” says the pedestrian.

“Why?” the driver asks.

In a pretty spot-on assessment, the pedestrian replied, “Because you’re an asshole.”

“I’m an asshole? Honey, look in the mirror, okay? The only person who is an asshole is you for recording,” says the racist driver.

During the exchange, the motorist asked the pedestrian, “Are you gay, too?”

“Too?” Oh god, he’s gay? Dang it…

“No,” the pedestrian replies.

“No, you’re not? Well, you look like it,” the driver snaps back.

When the pedestrian shares he plans on uploading the video to the internet, the driver scoffs, “Okay, I’ll get fans, honey. That’s what I’ll do.”

It’s at that point the driver exits his car and assaults the pedestrian. Along the way snatches the phone recording the incident and hurls it to the ground.

The driver probably thought he’d solved his internet problem, except others nearby noticed the exchange and were recording as well.

The YouTube poster writes that prior to the beginning of the clip, the driver “was repeatedly shouting at a Black sanitation worker, yelling “you’re a n*****”. The noise was enough for several residents to come down to street level.”

Folks in the Twitterverse were NOT having the hideous behavior.

NY Barber Tests Positive For Covid After Continuing To Cut Hair

(stock image via Unsplash/Andi Whiskey)

A barber in Kingston, New York, has tested positive for COVID-19 after he continued to cut hair for weeks in violation of the state’s stay-at-home orders.

From NBC News:

In a statement Wednesday, the county health commissioner advised anyone who received a haircut in the past three weeks at a barbershop on Broadway in the city of Kingston, about 20 miles north of Poughkeepsie, to seek testing for the coronavirus. The statement did not identify either the barber or the shop.

Nonessential businesses have been closed since March 22 under an order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that is set to expire Friday, when certain parts of the state that have met public health metrics will be allowed to begin a phased reopening.

Under the order, barbershops, beauty salons, nail salons and other businesses that provide personal care services are not allowed to be open and operated to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

It goes without saying that the state of New York has been the epicenter of the pandemic, the guy knowingly put himself and his customers at risk.

The report didn’t mention if the barber followed any safety guidelines like sanitizing or wearing a mask or limiting the number of clients in his shop at any given time.

Restrictions in Nevada were lifted this past week allowing for haircuts if such guidelines were followed. I saw my guy, Phil, who has his own one-man barbershop and was doing double-duty on sanitizing and only allowed one customer in the shop at a time.

New York Reports Lowest New HIV Diagnoses Since 2001

The Advocate reports there were fewer new diagnoses of HIV among New Yorkers in 2018 (less than 2,000) marking the lowest recorded level since reporting began in 2001.

The 2018 HIV Surveillance Annual Report released this week showed that 1,917 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in New York City in 2018. That marks an 11 percent drop from 2017 and a two-thirds decrease since 2001 when 5,859 new cases were reported. 

New HIV diagnoses were down among men and women; among Black, Latino, white, Native, and Asian New Yorkers; and in all five boroughs. The drops were particularly steep in men who have sex with men, people between the ages of 20 and 29, and those with a history of using injection drugs.

However, rates had increased among transgender people and men who report both having sex with men and injection drug use.

Nearly half of the people newly diagnosed with HIV were Black; 36 percent were Latino, and about 10 percent were white. 

News Round-Up: June 20, 2019

(via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

• InstaHunks Rick and the Griffopotamus (above) trying to a-peel to folks’ animal nature. #ItsWorking

• Despite 7 Tony nominations, the LGBTQ-themed Broadway musical The Prom will close August 11, but will live on in a small screen version for Netflix produced by Ryan Murphy.

• New York state lawmakers have banned defendants from citing a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity (known as ‘gay panic’ or ‘trans panic’ defenses) to justify their crime. New York becomes the 7th state in the country to prohibit the legal defense.

• Two students have been indefinitely suspended from the Kearns High School football team for a social media post showing a Pride flag being burned and threatening LGBTQ people saying, “All gays die.”

• Alabama’s former state Supreme Court Justice, the virulently anti-LGBTQ Roy Moore, has announced he will make another run for U.S. Senate in 2020. (and Republicans are NOT happy about it).

RuPaul’s Drag Race champs, Bob the Drag Queen and Trixie Mattel, are featured in JetBlue’s new Pride month ad serving up sassy fun as they deliver pre-flight instructions.

It’s worth noting that not only did JetBlue engage the drag stars for the video, but the airline scored a 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

New York: Lawmakers Hope To Decriminalize Sex Work

(stock photo)

Buoyed by the election of more progressive lawmakers in New York state, a group of legislators are hoping to decriminalize sex work.

First-term state Sen. Julia Salazar and Jessica Ramos are working with Assemblyman Richard Gottfried on a bill that would not legalize but decriminalize sex work.

Working with Decrim NY, a coalition of local human rights activists including LGBTQ, immigration and justice reform advocates, the lawmakers hope to “decriminalize, decarcerate and destigmatize the sex trade in New York City and the state,” according to The Daily Beast.

According to Urban Institute, a 2007 study in New York showed LGBTQ youth were 7 times more likely to have traded sex for shelter than straight teens. Transgender teens were shown to be 8 times more likely

“Trying to stop adult sex work shouldn’t be the business of the criminal justice system,” said Gottfried at a press event on Monday. “Throughout history, it hasn’t worked, and it makes things worse, Decriminalizing adult sex work is harm reduction.”

State Sen. Salazar is actually the first political candidate to campaign and win on a platform that included sex workers’ rights.

“The climate of fear of intimidation caused by criminalizing sex work makes it very difficult for sex workers to seek any kind of redress for labor issues or to report the various kinds of abuse many endure in silence,” said the 27-year-old legislator at the launch event Monday. “Sex work is work, and we need to start treating it as such.”

Part of the focus of the legislation will be to clear prostitution charges from sex workers records and have them released from jail.

A transgender woman who has done sex work, Cecilia Gentili, addressed the crowd of about 150 people on Monday.

“It feels surreal to be talking about this,” said Gentili, reports HuffPost. “As a transgender woman who did sex work, I have experienced oppression and prejudice from the police, immigration authorities and even social service organizations because I was trading sex.” 
“Until we decriminalize sex work, the people most impacted by criminalization trans people, people of color and undocumented people will continue to be treated as less than the full humans they are.” 
In November, Democrats were able to take control of all three branches of state government. And so, for the first time, the issue of sex workers’ rights moved from being a taboo issue to a mainstream issue.
The three lawmakers already have support from other legislators including Assemblymembers Catalina Cruz and Dan Quart.

Wedding Dance Goes Viral As Grooms Have “The Time Of Their Lives”

Noah and PJ

At their wedding in upstate New York this month, Noah and PJ decided their ‘first dance’ was going to be something special.

And thanks to the mashup of totally gay dance music and a wide-ranging choreography covering just about every dance style, it looks like they accomplished their goal.

It all begins oh-so-innocently with the boys slow-dancing to the romantical “It’s a Quiet Thing.”

But then, the music cuts out.

Cue the Miami Sound Machines’ “Conga,” and the boys are off!

Soon they segue into some “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” before slipping in some “Vogue” by Madonna.

You can’t have a wedding dance without classic disco so next up is KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight,” followed by some tap dancing “Puttin on the Ritz” via Young Frankenstein.

But you need a big finish, and the boys bring it with “The Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing complete with high-flying lifts.

And the crowd goes wild!

In posting the video, PJ and Noah share, “We seriously did have ‘the time of our lives.’ An incredible night surrounded by incredible people!”

We can all use some uplifting moments these days, and this certainly fill the bill.

Check out Noah and PJ’s ‘first dance’ below.

And congratulations, boys!

(h/t Pink News)

New York Attorney General Looks To Bypass Presidential Pardons

NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman (speaking)
Photo: MTA / Patrick Cashin (Flickr)

With talk of Donald Trump possibly considering granting pardons to former associates currently under Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s microscope, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is asking his state’s governor and legislature to allow criminal charges against those who have received a presidential pardon.

From The New York Times:

Under the plan, Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat, seeks to exempt New York’s double jeopardy law from cases involving presidential pardons, according to the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. The current law and the concept of double jeopardy in general mean that a person cannot be tried for the same crime twice.

Right now, New York state law prevents people from being prosecuted more than once for crimes related to the same act, even if the original prosecution was in federal court. There are already a number of exceptions to the law, and the letter says that Mr. Schneiderman is proposing to add a new one that could be used if federal pardons are issued.

While Mr. Schneiderman’s jurisdiction does not encompass many of the areas being investigated by Mr. Mueller, a president has no authority to commute sentences or pardon offenses at the state level. That leaves convictions obtained by the state attorney general’s office or any other local prosecutor outside the president’s ability to intervene. The proposal would be structured so that it would not affect people who sought clemency after long jail sentences, an aide to Mr. Schneiderman said.

New York State Will Investigate Claims That Insurance Companies Denied Healthy Gay Men Coverage

According to reports, some insurance companies appear to be denying insurance policies to gay men who admit to taking medication that protects them from HIV infection.

Wait – what? These are healthy guys who are taking preventative steps to avoid HIV infection and insurance companies are holding it against them?

Not only is that not cool, it’s also probably illegal.

From The New York Times:

Such denials would amount to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the companies doing so could be penalized, said Maria T. Vullo, the state’s superintendent of financial services.

The investigation was triggered by an article published Tuesday by The New York Times, she said.

The Times reported that various insurers around the country had denied policies to gay men after learning they took Truvada, a cocktail of two anti-AIDS drugs, to avoid catching H.I.V. through sex. To get insurance, some men even stopped taking the protective drugs.

The practice — known as “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” or PrEP — is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies have shown that people who take the drug every day have nearly a zero chance of becoming infected, even if they are in a long relationship with an H.I.V.-infected person or have sex with many strangers without condoms.

The investigation was prompted by another story in the NY Times about a doctor who couldn’t get disability insurance because he admitted to taking PrEP.