News Round-Up: June 18, 2016

Some news stories you may have missed:

• Donald Trump, who says he’s “better” for the gays than Hillary, poses for pic with virulently anti-gay pastor.

• After celebrating LGBT Pride for 13 years and drawing tens of thousands of attendees, the government of Istanbul has cancelled any Pride events this year.

• The FBI is now “skeptical” of the idea the the Orlando nightclub shooter was gay.

• Kenya’s High Court rules that “anal tests” for homosexuality are constitutional.

• Major corporations are dropping or scaling back their sponsorship at the Republican convention this year.

• One Alabama county refuses to lower U.S. flags to half-staff in honor of the Orlando nightclub shooting victims.

• Uber has begun offering free rides to and from select locations of importance to the LGBT community in 40 cities.

• And finally, Happy Saturday! Go out, get some fun, or at least get a little dirty…

A photo posted by Max Emerson (@maxisms) on Jun 17, 2016 at 8:05am PDT

Christina Aguilera Drops Powerful New Ballad To Benefit Orlando

Christina Aguilera released a powerful new ballad this week, “Change.”

The track was accompanied by a statement on her Facebook that saying proceeds from the sale will benefit victims of the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando via the National Compassion Fund.

“The horrific tragedy that occurred in Orlando continues to weigh heavily on my mind,” the singer wrote. “I am sending so much love and so many prayers to the victims and their families. Like so many, I want to help be part of the change this world needs to make it a beautiful inclusive place where humanity can love each other freely and passionately.”

“Waiting for a change to set us free
Waiting for the day when you can be you and I can be me
Waiting for hope to come around
Waiting for the day when hate is lost and love is found
Waiting for a change”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi Still Whining About Questions On Her LGBT History

After years of fighting against LGBT rights in the state of Florida, Attorney General Pam Bondi is still whining that she was asked about her sudden change of tone towards the LGBT community in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting (and hundreds of TV cameras broadcasting nationwide).

On Tuesday, CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked her about the turn of heart, wondering if it isn’t somewhat hypocritical to now claim to be an LGBT ally after fighting against marriage equality for years.

Wednesday, Bondi went on a friend’s radio show to complain about the encounter, and then yesterday, she went running to Fox News for a sympathetic ear.

Ironically, she gets on Fox News saying she still wanted to talk about scams going on involving the Orlando shooting but pivoted immediately into a “woe is me” moment. Along the way she shrugged saying the CNN interview “is what it is” but clearly came on Fox News merely to whine.

Grow up and own your positions, Ms. Bondi.

Sacramento: Parishioners Nonplussed By Pastor “Blow The Gays’ Brains Out” Jimenez

Parishioners smiled and waved at protesters at the Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento, California, after Pastor Roger Jimenez told his congregation that he there was no tragedy in the Orlando nightclub shooting that left 49 dead and 53 hospitalized.

“I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against a firing wall, put a firing squad in front of them, and blow their brains out,” said Jimenez.

From Sacramento’s NBC affiliate:

About 100 people protested Wednesday night outside of a Sacramento Baptist church after a pastor praised the Orlando mass shooting during his sermon. It was supposed to be a silent protest, but dozens of people shouted and sang as parishioners, with Bibles in hand, tried to make their way through the crowd.

Yellow tape and Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies kept protesters back and didn’t allow them inside. Pride flags and posters filled the parking lot of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento as protesters tried to get the attention of Pastor Roger Jimenez.

During his sermon Sunday, Jimenez talked about sodomites and said it is “unnatural to want to be with some of the same sex.” As he continued to speak, Jimenez said he was upset more people didn’t die. The sermon was recorded and uploaded to YouTube. Jimenez briefly came outside but turned back around as protesters continued to shout.

Another protest is scheduled for Sunday.

John McCain: Obama Is “Directly Responsible” For Orlando Shooting

Sen. John McCain

Reporters were so surprised, they asked him twice.

From the AP:

Republican Sen. John McCain said Thursday that President Barack Obama is “directly responsible” for the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, because of the rise of the Islamic State group on the president’s watch. But he later issued a statement saying that he “misspoke.”

“Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaida went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq,” a visibly angry McCain said as the Senate debated a spending bill.

Questioned on his startling assertion, McCain initially repeated it: “Directly responsible. Because he pulled everybody out of Iraq, and I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked and there would be attacks on the United States of America. It’s a matter of record, so he is directly responsible.”

And then, he started walking it back:

It’s worth noting that when our troops left, McCain had something positive to say:

News Round-Up: June 16, 2016

Some news stories you may have missed:

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS will donate $150,000 to aid the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

• Former President Bill Clinton says more would have died in the Orlando nightclub shooting if they had been armed. Gee, alcohol + fear + dark nightclub + guns shooting into the dark – what could possibly go wrong?

• Donald Trump now says he plans to talk to the NRA about blocking folks on the “No-Fly” list from being able to purchase guns. Glad to see he’s taking Hillary Clinton’s advice.

• Billionaire Mark Cuban, longtime LGBT ally, is donating $1 million to help fund added security measures for Dallas’ LGBT community. Hmm, where’s the donation from our “good friend” Donald Trump?

• Vanity Fair takes a broad look at the current state of the presidential race, and for now, it’s looking very good for Hillary.

• Broadway blockbuster Wicked will hit the silver screen December 20, 2019. How’s that for planning?

• Two active-duty Marines are under investigation after posting a photo to a closed Facebook grouop for Marines that read “Coming to a gay bar near you!” showing a corporal in uniform holding a rifle with his finger near the trigger.

Orlando Shooter Texted His Wife During Deadly Attack

Seriously chilling.

CNN is reporting that Omar Mateen, the Orlando nightclub shooter, traded text messages with his wife during the 3 hour ordeal.

At 4AM, two hours into the massacre, he texted his wife to ask if she’d seen the news.

At one point, she responded with a text saying that she loved him. Salman also tried calling her husband several times during the standoff, a second law enforcement official said. The timing of her calls came after reports of the attack had emerged, and apparently after she realized her husband might be responsible. He didn’t answer, the official said.

Shortly before and during his massacre at Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub, Omar Mateen vented on Facebook.
“America and Russia stop bombing the Islamic state,” the gunman wrote, according to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

“You kill innocent women and children by doing us taste the Islamic state vengeance.”
Then, in his final post, an ominous warning: ”In the next few days you will see attacks from the Islamic state in the usa.”

Melissa Etheridge Pens Anthem “Pulse” Honoring Orlando Shooting Victims

Out singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge and producer Jerry Wonda penned a new anthem this past Monday dedicated to the victims of Sunday’s Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando.

Etheridge plans to donate proceeds from the track, called “Pulse”, inspired by the name of the nightclub where the shooting took place.

The singer/songwriter told Rolling Stone that music is how she copes:

“I’m dealing with it the way I deal, which is, I wrote a song,” she said. “I just sat here, and I just started writing a song… That’s how I first started to cope because, as a singer songwriter, I feel very… I’ve done this before. I feel called to speak; to do what musicians do. We’ve been the town criers for hundreds of years. We’re mirrors of society. We want to try to make sense. We want to try to heal. We want to bring some meaning, some purpose. We also want to put it down forever in history. That’s how I’m coping.”

Etheridge posted the lyrics to her Facebook page:

Everybody’s got a pain inside
Imaginary wounds they fight to hide
How can I hate them
When everybody’s got a pulse

I dream in a world that wants my soul
That tells me if I hate I can control
But I don’t believe it
I cannot conceive it because
Everybody’s got a pulse

I am human I am love
And my heart beats with my blood
Love will always win
Underneath the skin
Everybody’s got a pulse

Once again I hang my head to cry
I can’t find the reason why they died
We will find the answer
Blowing in the wind that
Everybody’s got a pulse

Who ya gonna hate now
When there’s no one left but you
Who ya gonna gun down
When you can’t kill the truth
That its inside of us
It’s inside the blood
It’s inside a pulse

I am human I am love
And my heart beats in my blood
Love will always win
Underneath the skin
Everybody’s got a pulse

Hands up if you’re alive
Hands up if you’re alive

Love will always win
Underneath the skin
Everybody’s got a pulse

Jet Blue Crew And Passengers Comfort Grandmother Of Orlando Shooting

One of the youngest victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting was Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, who was known among friends as Omar.

As funerals begin for those who died in the massacre, this story on a Jet Blue flight is a welcome bright moment.

Via CNN:

On Tuesday, less than three days after Omar’s brutal murder, his grandmother, heartbroken and alone, boarded a flight to Orlando to attend his funeral.

Jetblue crew member Kelly Davis Karas decided that the woman, though grieving alone, could not leave the plane without knowing the world was with her. Karas passed around a piece of paper for passengers to sign so their words might ease the grandmother’s aching heart.

As Karas pushed the beverage cart down the plane’s aisle, she whispered to passengers about the paper. Halfway down the aisle, another crew member on board said more paper was needed. Instead of signing their names and moving on, passengers were writing paragraphs—long notes of compassion, grief and strength.

“When we gathered them together to present them to her, we didn’t have just a sheet of paper covered in names, which is what I had envisioned. Instead, we had page after page after page after page of long messages offering condolences, peace, love and support. There were even a couple of cash donations, and more than a few tears,” Karas wrote on Facebook.

At the end of the flight, the usual announcements were followed by “We Stand with Orlando.” And the pilot called for a moment of silence for the young Omar.

Karas added that every single passenger stopped to share a moment with the grieving grandmother – whether a touch, a hug or saying they were sorry. AND, not one passenger complained about the slow deplaning.

The crew was aware of the grandmother’s presence because Jet Blue is offering free flights to families of the victims.

Bravo, Jet Blue and humanity.