News Round-Up: January 26, 2021

(image via Depositphotos)

Some news items you might have missed:

Right Wing Watch: Religious anti-gay loon Scott Lively told his radio audience that God removed Donald Trump from the White House because he was too pro-gay. #srsly

NewNowNext: Montana’s House of Representatives has voted in favor of two vehemently anti-transgender bills. The first is House Bill 112, which would bar trans student athletes from playing on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. The second is House Bill 113, which would block medical professionals from providing potentially life-saving gender-affirming health care to trans or nonbinary youth.

The Frontier: Last April, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt ordered $2 million worth of hydroxychloroquine based, in part, on Donald Trump’s promotion of the malaria drug for use against the coronavirus. Now, the state is trying to unload nearly the entire shipment.

Instinct Magazine: Nearly two months after coming out as a transgender male, Elliot Page and wife Emma Portner have filed for divorce.

NBC News: A gay New York City couple say they were harassed and asked to leave a restaurant this month because of their sexuality. Because the incident happened in New York, the men may have legal recourse, but in nearly half the states, they would not.

New York Times: Grindr has been fined 100 million Norwegian kroner, or about $11.7 million, for illegally disclosing private details about its users to advertising companies.

Justice Department: The Wisconsin pharmacist who intentionally intended to render hundreds of doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine ineffective pleaded guilty to two charges filed today in federal court. Steven R. Brandenburg, an admitted skeptic of vaccines in general, now faces up to 10 years for each charge against him.

Reuters: The good news – By a vote of 55-45 the U.S. Senate on Tuesday rejected a Republican effort to stop former President Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial on a charge that he incited the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. The bad news – Democrats need more than 5 GOP Senators to vote to convict Trump.

Gay Man Beaten Unconscious Amid Barrage Of Anti-Gay Slurs

Christian Council (images via Facebook)

Two people who allegedly beat a gay Oklahoma man unconscious are not expected to face hate crime charges despite the victim and a witness telling police officers the assailants hurled anti-gay slurs during the assault.

Oklahoma City-based real estate agent Christian Council, 28, told police he was returning home in his car in the early hours of June 27 with a friend, 26-year-old Andrew Martinez, when he came upon a pickup truck parked in the street blocking traffic in his apartment complex.

Council says he honked once then again before the truck finally moved out of the way at which point Council parked his car several spaces down.

As he and Martinez exited the car, two men and a woman were standing nearby. The woman, later identified as Amery Dickerson, 23, called Council and Martinez “c**ksuckers” and one of the men used another homophobic slur.

According to the police report, when Council explained he honked his horn because he couldn’t get by, Dickerson charged at him, shoving him into a parked car. As she charged him a second time, he pushed her in the face to protect himself.

Council says at that point the two men yelled, “You f*ggot, don’t you know you can’t hit a girl?’” 

“And the driver of the truck and the girl’s boyfriend beat me,” adds Council. “Beat me unconscious.”

Bennett Stone, 24, was identified as the man who started the fight. As the incident escalated, Council and Martinez say the trio was yelling homophobic slurs. Martinez tried to intercede but the unidentified man restrained him while Stone continued the beating.

Martinez told police Council lost consciousness for “a minute or two” as he stopped responding to the blows and his body went limp. Martinez was eventually able to call 911.

The police charged Dickerson and Stone with misdemeanor assault and battery which could result in up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $1,000. Council was treated for a concussion as well as cuts and bruises at a local emergency room.

In the weeks since the attack, Council says he’s experienced post-traumatic stress disorder while in public.

According to The Oklahoman, the initial police report didn’t mention any of the homophobic slurs used during the assault even though Council and Martinez relayed that to the officers.

In characterizing certain crimes, Oklahoma City police can indicate whether an incident was domestic violence, a drive-by shooting, or a hate crime. The officers didn’t check the hate crime box.

The report was later amended to include the use of anti-gay remarks after the police reviewed body camera footage showing Council mentioning the slurs.

In Stone’s version of the events, he claims he saw Council “punch” Dickerson and he was merely defending Dickerson.

A spokesman for the Oklahoma City police, Master Sgt. Gary Knight told The Oklahoman the incident is currently under review before referring it to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office.

“There is no hard evidence that suggests the attack was because of his sexual orientation,” Knight told The Oklahoman. “Right now it appears the conflict was because of a truck not moving out of the way of his vehicle. These people did not know each other. There’s no indication they jumped out of their vehicle because of his sexual orientation.”

(image via Facebook)

Council, however, disagrees saying the incident escalated because Stone and Dickerson realized he was gay.

“I want to make this very clear,” said Council to The Oklahoman. “They got out of their truck because they were mad that I honked at them. They beat me unconscious because I was gay.”

“It was very clear to me that as soon as they saw that my friend and I were gay, or that they assumed we were gay, it was very clear to me that it went from they were mad that I had honked at them, to they were mad that two gay men had the audacity to honk at them, or inconvenience them in any way,” he added.

Council is aware LGBTQ people aren’t a protected class in Oklahoma meaning Stone and Dickerson won’t be facing state hate crime charges. Still, he says he has filed a hate crime report with the FBI.

Council also says he’d prefer that Dickerson and Stone be sentenced to some form of restorative justice.

“These people can go and sit in a jail cell and just let their hate against queer-trans people build, or they can be forced to go work community service hours alongside the queer and trans community and see the humanity in us, and I think that that kind of restorative justice will do a lot more for our community than jail time will,” Council told The Oklahoman.

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help Council cope with the cost of medical treatment in the ER and downtime from work as well as legal fees as Council is planning a civil suit against his attackers.

(source: The Oklahoman)

Six Trump Staffers Test Positive For Coronavirus Ahead Of Tulsa Rally

From the Washington Post:

Six members of the advance team preparing to staff President Trump’s rally here Saturday tested positive for the coronavirus, underscoring concerns about holding a massive indoor event in a city where cases are spiking.

The campaign made that announcement, saying quarantine procedures had gone into effect for the infected staff members and those in “immediate contact” with them, as hundreds of supporters filled downtown streets in anticipation of the president’s rally — his first since the virus brought much of public life to a standstill in March.

Upon entering the rally grounds, attendees were handed blue face coverings and directed through a maze of metal fencing, which led to a touchless temperature screening conducted by volunteers in purple smocks.

Note: Oklahoma has seen a 100 percent spike in new coronavirus cases in the past week.

NBC News spoke to Trump supporters outside the rally venue today, all of whom expressed little to no concern about the virus. Several also expressed doubt about the severity of the pandemic.

“If Trump felt comfortable having it here, then I’m comfortable,” said one supporter. Said another, of the coronavirus risk: “If today is the day I die, today is the day I die.”

“As far as I know, I’m still an American,” said Tom Todd, Sheri’s husband and a retired welder.

“This is a free country and I can do what I want. If I want to wear a mask, I wear a mask. If I don’t, I don’t. If I get sick, I get sick. That’s my choice,” Tom continued, adding that he thought the number of coronavirus deaths was being “padded.”

News Round-Up: June 19, 2020

Pierre Vuala (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Fitness trainer and model Pierre Vuala (above) offers up this #FBF moment until “traveling is a thing again.” Follow him on the Gram of Insta here.

Instinct: A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the State Department must recognize that the daughter of a gay couple in Maryland has been a U.S. citizen since her birth in Canada via a surrogate last year. The Trump administration had changed the interpretation of a 1952 citizenship law to view children born abroad via surrogacy as being born “out of wedlock.”

KIT212: Don’t miss Kenneth’s weekly round-up of the what’s what in local LGBTQ publications.

Washington Post: Even though the population of the European Union surpasses the United States by more than 100 million (446 million vs. 328 million), coronavirus cases in the U.S. haven’t fallen as quickly as in the EU.

(graphic via Washington Post)

Media Matters: referencing the Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage equality and this week’s decision on LGBTQ employment protections, Rush Limbaugh blames the “deep state” for “cultural rot.” Rushbo told his listeners, “We are so low that when we look up, we see a filthy gutter.”

The Hill: Oklahoma has reported more than 800 new coronavirus cases in the past two days, marking a significant spike ahead of a massive rally for President Trump in the state planned for Saturday. The state reported 352 new cases on Friday, one day after a record 450 new cases on Thursday.

Outsports: Declaring himself “proud and free,” Daniel Arcos, a pro basketball player from Chile, came out Wednesday as gay in an Instagram post. The 26-year-old forward in the top Chile pro basketball league posted a three-page letter on Instagram in which he talked about his struggles to accept himself but decided the time to make a statement was now. He followed the post with a message of thanks to supporters: “Thank each of the messages of support, signs of affection and respect. The tranquility that I have with myself is incredible. #pride.”

Podcast: Anderson Cooper Is A Dad, Two Pioneering Gay Artists Pass Away, Plus News From Germany & Brazil

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

In this week’s headlines:

• Brazil changes course on regulations that limit gay and bisexual me from donating blood

• A gay couple in Tulsa speaks out after a neighbor posts anti-LGBTQ signs his front yard

• Germany bans so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for minors

• Out CNN anchor Anderson Cooper announces he’s become a dad

• Two ground-breaking stars in their respective fields – rock and roll pioneer Little Richard and magician Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy – pass away

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

Oklahoma Church Accused Of Holding Gay Man Hostage To ‘Pray The Gay Away’

A gay man in Oklahoma has filed a police report after members of the First Assembly of God Church in Blackwell allegedly held him down and punched him in an attempt to ‘pray the gay away.’

Sean Cormie, 23, came out as gay this past spring. Since that time, his family has asked him to attend services at the church. His partner, Gary Gardner, was invited to attend as well.

“I wanted to go to church to make my mom proud,” Cormie told local news station KFOR.

On September 8, the couple joined family members at the church, which Cormie had attended several times.

Cormie says there was nothing unusual about the service until the end when Cormie and Gardner were asked to come up to the alter. As they did, church members stood up and began to circle the couple. At the same time, the pastor began to preach against homosexuality.

“It’s a sin, it’s an abomination, you need to realize, wake up, and see it for a sin,” recalls Cormie.

As the praying by 12-15 congregants grew louder and louder, Cormie and Gardner felt uncomfortable and moved to leave. But while Gardner made it out of the church, Cormie says he was physically restrained by the congregants.

Gardner told News 9 that Cormie was “slammed to the ground by his stepfather.”

“They hold me down, pin me down, and I’m crying, and the Holy Spirit just comes through me, and they keep speaking in tongues, praying over me,” said Cormie. At some point, Cormie says he was punched in the face. “I was just crying ‘mercy, mercy,’” he added.

Cormie says eventually it was his sister who convinced the congregants to let him go. When he was finally released, Cormie says he left the church with a black eye and bruises on his arms and face.

He immediately headed to the Blackwell Police Department where he filed a report. According to KFOR, the police chief acknowledges the incident is being investigated.

Bill and Tami McKissick, pastors for the First Assembly Church of God, issued this statement:

“On behalf of First Assembly, we have been asked by the media to respond to the allegations that have been made. This began as a family matter that escalated. Our church would never condone restraint of any person unless they were engaged in violent activity. There is much more to this incident, and we are cooperating fully with law enforcement to hopefully bring all of the facts to light as a rush to judgment is not in anyone’s best interest.”

Since filing the police report, Cormie says he’s received anonymous threats to drop his allegations. He adds that family members, who he believes were involved in the incident, have urged his to let the issue go.

But Cormie is firm in his belief that “what they did was totally wrong” and he feels there should be “some consequences out of it.”

On a spiritual level, he says he believes being gay is a sin, but he is who he is.

“I’m a full-fledged gay, you can’t change it,” he told KFOR. “It’s my nature, I’m born that way, so let it be.”

Johnson & Johnson Must Pay $572 Million In Oklahoma Opioid Settlement

NBC News is reporting Johnson & Johnson has been hit with a $572 million penalty for its part in the Oklahoma opioid epidemic which caused more than 6,000 deaths.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter claimed in court that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and its pharmaceutical subsidiary, Janssen, marketed opioids to doctors while downplaying the risks of the addictive painkillers since the 1990s.

The state claimed that the company’s sales push created “a public nuisance” that led to more than 6,000 deaths in Oklahoma over nearly two decades.

J&J has denied any wrongdoing and its attorney, John Sparks, disputed the application of the public nuisance law made by Oklahoma prosecutors. Sparks said the state was misinterpreting the law, having previously limited it to disputes involving property or public spaces.

Oklahoma had asked for $17.2 billion in its lawsuit.

News Round-Up: April 12, 2019

Some news items you might have missed:

• Even though his iPhone didn’t recognize his newly-32-year-old face this morning, I’m thinking Alex Abramov (above) will find a way to soldier on…

• Rugby Australia has declared its intention to terminate Israel Folau’s contract over his anti-LGBTQ social media posts.

• Donald Trump’s transgender military ban went into effect today. Nearly 15,000 Americans who signed up to put their lives on the line for the US could be impacted (read that ‘discharged’) by the new policy.

• A Trump-supporting Oklahoma woman has been arrested after confessing to a spree of racist vandalism that targeted black, transgender and Jewish residents in two towns.

Two male dancers have joined the New England Patriots cheerleading team.

• Check out the latest single from P!nk, “Can We Pretend,” from her upcoming album Hurts 2B Human out April 26.

P!nk makes me feel good. I like her music, I like her musical perspective on life. If you’ve never seen her in concert (and I’m not a concert kinda guy) you have to go. It’s a totally feel-good experience.

And I love that a lyric in this song is “Can we pretend that we both like the president?”

Oklahoma State Chair For Trump Campaign Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For Child Sex Trafficking

Former Oklahoma state Sen. Shortey was sentenced today to 15 years in prison plus 10 years of supervision upon release from prison.
Ralph Shortey

You may recall the sad tale of former Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey, who was found in a room at a Motel 6 with a 17-year-old boy on March 9, 2017.

Police found through text messages that Shortey had offered the teen cash in exchange for “sexual stuff.” When police entered the hotel room it reeked of marijuana, according to police reports.

In November of last year, Shortey, who was the Oklahoma state chair for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, agreed to a guilty plea of child sex trafficking.

Text messages were found on Shortey’s phone between him and the underage teen that showed the boy needed money. Shortey apparently replied “I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help right now. Would you be interested in ‘sexual’ stuff?”

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped three other charges of child pornography that had been filed against him.

Had he faced all of the charges brought against him in court he could have spent close to the rest of his life in prison.

Shortey was sentenced today to 15 years in prison plus 10 years of supervision upon release from prison.

Shortey was infamous for introducing strange legislation like banning human fetuses in food products (that happens?) and, of course, voting for every piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation put before him.

He had been married to his high school sweetheart since 2002. She filed for divorce, and it was granted this past April.

Podcast: Oklahoma Parents Threaten Trans 5th Grader; Anthony Starble’s Latest Track “Paperweight”

 In this week’s podcast:

• An Oklahoma school district shut down after parents of students threatened violence on a transgender 5th grader

• That anti-gay Colorado baker is at it again – this time denying a cake to a trans woman

• Smart guy Matt Baume reminds us when ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ went gay for just one episode

• A gay Afghanistan teen was denied asylum by Austria for not being ‘gay’ enough

• Plus, out musician Anthony Starble’s new remix of “Paperweight”

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report – Hit the play button below: