South Dakota Governor Hosts 25-Person Super-Spreader Event

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem hosts a super-spreader dinner party of 25 people
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem hosts a super-spreader dinner party of 25 people
(image via Twitter/govkristinoem)

Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) has long been criticized for taking little-to-no steps to slow the coronavirus pandemic in her state.

South Dakota has had 109,580 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,815 deaths. With current testing positivity at nearly 27% the state is one of the hardest hit by the virus per capita.

So few were surprised (but still horrified) when the governor (a huge Trump supporter) shared a photo from a 25-person dinner party she recently held with practically no face masks in sight.

Only one brave young woman had the temerity to still wear a face mask.

News Round-Up: October 13, 2020

Keegan Hirst (image via Twitter)

Some news items you might have missed:

OUT: Some residents of Heber, Utah, complained about rainbow banners being flown from lampposts on Main Street during Pride Month saying Pride and LGBTQ+ rights were political and did not represent the values or beliefs of the community. So the city passed a new ordinance raising the costs and generally making it more difficult to continue the practice.

AP: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Tuesday blamed South Dakota’s recent surge in coronavirus cases on an increase in testing, even as the state saw a new high in the number of people hospitalized by the virus.

New Music: In her new single, “Head and Heart On Fire,” Swedish singer/songwriter LÉON perfectly summarizes the instantaneous feeling one has the moment they meet someone and are immediately taken aback by their presence; aware of how strongly they set everything inside of you ablaze. The pop/folk track is both intimate and universal in expressing that moment:  “You set my head and heart on fire, wish I could go back to that night, you’ll be forever on my mind.”

Washington Blade: Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett continued to have no comment Wednesday on whether she’d overturn LGBTQ rights decisions, including the milestone Lawrence v. Texas ruling decriminalizing same-sex relations or the Obergefell ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

New York Times: Amy Cooper, the white woman who called the police on a Black bird-watcher in Central Park, made a second, previously unreported call to 911 in which she falsely claimed that the man tried to assault her. When the police arrived, Cooper admitted that her reports were untrue. She’s reportedly negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors that would allow her to avoid jail.

BBC: Keegan Hirst (top photo), who became the UK’s first openly gay professional rugby player when he came out in 2015, has announced his retirement from professional rugby. “Be brave, be bold. Embrace change and f*cking go for it.”

News Round-Up: July 30, 2020

Phillip Evelyn II (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Woofy Phillip Evelyn II (above) is giving you full-on Ninja-ness in this post. #Dang Follow him on the Gram of Insta here.

Pink News: A homophobe in South Dakota went on a profanity-heavy anti-gay rant while burning an LGBTQ Pride flag during a Facebook video. The local district attorney says he won’t be pursuing hate crime charges despite the video.

CBS News: President Barack Obama’s powerful eulogy at the funeral of the late civil rights leader, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), was perfection. Obama said Americans should honor Lewis’ legacy by continuing to work for democracy and voting rights. “He, as much as anyone in our history, brought this country a little bit closer to our highest ideals.” Hit the play button to hear a president speak about someone other than themself (and in complete sentences).

Courthouse News: Federal prosecutors have agreed to abandon the gag order against Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and current felon, Michael Cohen. Cohen is now free to use social media, participate in interviews, and release his Trump tell-all book, which is due go on sale in September.

Fox News: File this under ‘metaphors you could never make up.’ Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign bus collided with a dump truck today while stumping in Western Pennsylvania.

Gay Star News: International pop star Elton John shared the 30th anniversary of his sobriety with his Instagram followers writing, “If I hadn’t finally taken the big step of asking for help 30 years ago, I’d be dead. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the people who have inspired and supported me along the way.”

News Round-Up: April 15, 2020

Daniel Newman (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Walking Dead star Daniel Newman (above) asks that you please forgive his “messy room.”

NPR: Despite pleas from cities across the state, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has held out on issuing a statewide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But an outbreak of COVID-19 at Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, S.D., has infected nearly 450 workers and caused the number of cases in the city to grow so quickly that the mayor, Paul TenHaken, calls it an explosion.

KIT212: Kenneth’s ‘Wrestle Wednesdays’ (below) certainly help brighten Hump Day. Find all of his WW posts here.

(via kenneth-in-the-212)

Axios: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Wednesday he will be issuing an executive order requiring all New Yorkers to wear masks or face coverings in public situations in which social distancing is not possible.

Vox: Kentucky’s heavily Republican legislature voted Tuesday to require voters to show a government-issued photo ID, overriding Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto in the process. Meanwhile, all of the state’s offices that issue such IDs are….wait for it…closed.

NewNowNext: In the new film, Sublet, Michael (played John Benjamin Hickey), a New York Times travel writer, journeys to Tel Aviv after suffering a tragedy. The energy of the city, and his relationship with a younger man (played by Niv Nissim) who becomes his tour guide, brings him back to life.

Director Eytan Fox shares a scene from the movie where Michael and Tomer meet on the beach in Tel Aviv after spending a few days together. “This sensual setting sparks real intimacy between them for the first time,” says Fox. “As these two men sit there, they open up to each other about matters of the heart—and soul.”

The film was to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this year which, clearly, was canceled. No word on when the movie will be officially released but the scene below certainly sparks my interest.

News Round-Up: January 30, 2020

Ryan Worley (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Ryan Worley (above), of the world-famous Chippendales, is totes adorbs watching this kitten’s fascination with a string of lights. Follow him on Instagram here.

Advocate: The South Dakota House of Representatives Wednesday approved a bill that would make it a crime for doctors to give gender-transition treatment to minors. Doctors could receive up to a year in prison and a fine of $2,000.

Super Bowl: RuPaul took to social media to remind folks that he was the first drag queen to star in a Super Bowl commercial back in 2000. Here’s some #TBT action for you:

AP: A bill proposed by a group of Republican lawmakers on Wednesday that would have amended the Iowa Civil Rights Act by removing protections against discrimination for transgender people is dead.

ABC News: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says Donald Trump would “definitely” encourage primary challengers to run against any GOP Senators who vote against him in the ongoing impeachment trial. “You could very well see the president encouraging or creating primaries against senators that are up this year if they went and voted the other way,”

Sesame Street: The long-running children’s television show announced on Facebook today that Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award winner Billy Porter will be “bringing those fierce vibes to Sesame Street” in an upcoming episode. The post showed Porter posing in his iconic tuxedo dress from the Oscars.

Podcast: Where The Bears Are, SCOTUS U-Turns On Trans Rights, LOGO’s “Fire Island”

In this episode of The Randy Report podcast:

• Hunky Ian Parks of Where The Bears Are chats on the upcoming 6th season of the popular web series.

Where the Bears Are is a comedy/mystery web series that has accumulated over 23 MILLION VIEWS over five seasons and won the “BEST GAY WEB SERIES” award from several LGBT media outlets.

The show – described as a cross between The Golden Girls and Murder She Wrote – features four Bears living in the hills of Silverlake forever finding themselves in the middle of a murder mystery. There’s constant tongue in cheek humor and big, hairy men thrown in for eye candy.

The show has a world-wide fan base and the creators/stars have been flown to Europe, Australia, and Mexico.

The Bears promise Season 6 to be one of their most ambitious yet featuring a spy plot line, a murder AND the return of one of their most notorious villains!

Hit the play button below to listen to Ian talk on the new season – click here for more info about Where The Bears Are.

Plus:

• A new reality show from LOGO, “Fire Island,” focuses on beach life on Fire Island.

• The Supreme Court u-turns on hearing an important case regarding transgender rights.

• South Dakota earns the dubious distinction of passing the first anti-LGBT law in this legislative session.

South Dakota Governor Signs Anti-LGBT Legislation Into Law

Deeply disappointing.

From the ACLU:

Today, Governor Daugaard signed Senate Bill 149 into law, making South Dakota the first state in 2017 to pass anti-LGBT legislation. The bill will allow taxpayer funded agencies to refuse to provide any service, including adoption or foster care services, on the basis on the agency’s religious or moral convictions.

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota has led the opposition to SB 149 through both lobbying efforts and by organizing affected communities. In a state facing a labor and talent shortage, this bill has sparked national interest and local questions as to whether South Dakota welcomes diversity and values the rights of individual citizens.

This bill was opposed by local and national child welfare experts that sent letters in opposition including The Adoption Exchange, Child Welfare League of America, National Association of Social Workers, and Voice for Adoption, as well as family law experts, South Dakota pediatricians, and local and national LGBT rights organizations including the Movement Advancement Project, the Human Rights Campaign, and more.

South Dakota Governor Vetoes Anti-Transgender “Bathroom Bill”

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard

Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota has vetoed House Bill 1008, which would have made South Dakota the first state to ban transgender students from using school restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

“Thank you Governor Daugaard for meeting with transgender people to see through their eyes that they are our friends, family, and neighbors, worthy of the same fair treatment and dignity as everyone else,” said Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director of Equality Federation. “The more people get to know about the real lives of transgender people, the more empathy prevails. All students, including transgender students, should be able to fully participate and have a fair opportunity to thrive in school.”

The state legislature could vote to overturn Daugaard’s veto. But, at least for now, the votes are lacking in the state Senate which voted in favor of the bill 20-15, which falls short of the necessary two-thirds threshold.

Congrats South Dakota! And thank you, Gov. Daugaard.

UPDATE: It looks like the bill’s sponsor doesn’t want to do a veto fight. From Rep. Fred Deutsch’s response:

“HB 1008 was intended to be a practical solution to our evolving social values on gender issues. Unfortunately emotions on both sides of this issue have dominated the news coverage and the recent debate. I still believe an objective reading of the proposed law is consistent with my intent to be non-discriminatory and fair to all students and parents.

However, because I think the national focus on South Dakota should be on our positive business environment, strong labor market and the excellent work our schools do, I am going to ask my legislative colleagues to concur with the Governor’s veto. Further focus on this issue will detract from the other significant accomplishments of the legislature this session.”

Federal Judge Rules South Dakota Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Freedom To Marry has tweeted that U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier, a Clinton appointee, has ruled South Dakota’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

From the ruling:

“In Loving, the Supreme Court addressed a traditionally accepted definition of marriage that prohibited Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving from marrying.

“Because Virginia’s laws deprived that couple of their fundamental right to marriage, the Court struck down those laws.

“Little distinguishes this case from Loving. Plaintiffs have a fundamental right to marry. South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely because they are same-sex couples and without sufficient justification.”

The order is stayed pending probable appeal to 8th Circuit Court.

Stay tuned as more info becomes available.

Read the ruling below:

South Dakota man gets decked asking stranger to stop using gay slur

Drew Bratscher, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, got a face full of what it’s like to be an LGBT ally sometimes when he tried to stand up to a woman using a gay slur.

From LGBTQNation:

Bartscher, 27, says he was in crowd with two of his friends outside a local tavern around early Sunday morning when he heard a woman use a derogatory term for gays.

Bartscher, who is straight, says he politely told her she should not say that word.

What happened next blindsided him, reports KELO-TV.

“Then I hear this guy yell at me, ‘What the F did you say to my girlfriend?!?!’ I turned just a little bit and then the next thing I know, my friends are picking me up off the sidewalk, (because) I had gotten punched pretty good,” Bartscher said.

Though Bartscher says he’s a bit embarrassed about his shiner, he’s not ashamed of what he did to get it. He says he posted a photo of his injury almost immediately afterward, with the caption: “Stand up for what you believe in. Love everyone.”

No good deed goes unpunished, kids. I tell you what…

But props to Drew for standing up for the good guys. You get my respect.