News Round-Up: February 2, 2021

Road sign reading Texas

Road sign reading Texas

Some news items you might have missed:

The Advocate: The Human Rights Campaign’s State Equality Index for 2020 measures the rights and protections each state has in place for LGBTQ+ individuals. Texas is ranked in the bottom category, and referred to as a “high priority to achieve basic equality.”

Dallas Voice: With more calls to expel QAnon Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) from Congress for her wild conspiracy claims and more, here’s a break down of what it takes to expel a member of of the House or Senate plus some history of those who were expelled.

Twitter: If you’ve never watched the far-right leaning outlet Newsmax, all you need to know here is Dominion Voting Systems threatened to sue the online newser into oblivion if they continued airing baseless claims of ‘vote manipulation.’ Now hit the play button.

Raw Story: Moderate ‘Blue dog’ Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has told the media he will support President Biden’s coronavirus relief package even if Senate Democrats have to use ‘budget reconciliation’ (bypassing a 60-vote filibuster) to get there. Manchin’s vote is critical with the Senate’s current 50-50 makeup of Dems and Republicans.

AP News: Republicans in Georgia’s state Senate are moving to limit voting in future elections with bills that would restrict who can vote absentee by mail, require a photo ID for those who do vote absentee by mail, ban ballot drop boxes, block outside groups from sending out absentee ballot applications, end automatic voter registration when obtaining a driver’s license and ban new residents from voting in a runoff election. #votersuppression

CNBC: The Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday to lead the nation’s Department of Homeland Security, making him the first Latino to hold the role. The Senate voted 56 to 43.

PA Supreme Court Unanimously Rejects Another Trump Election Challenge

Donald Trump (image via Flickr/WhiteHouse – public domain)

Another loss for Team Trump as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed an election challenge led by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, who attempted to argue that universal mail-in voting violated the state constitution.

From NBC News:

Kelly, along with several other Pennsylvania Republicans, sought to invalidate millions of mail-in votes, which could have ceded a key state won by President-Elect Joe Biden to President Donald Trump.

The ruling said, “Petitioners sought to invalidate the ballots of the millions of Pennsylvania voters who utilized the mail-in voting procedures. … Alternatively, Petitioners advocated the extraordinary proposition that the court disenfranchise all 6.9 million Pennsylvanians who voted in the General Election and instead ‘direct the General Assembly to choose Pennsylvania’s electors.'”

The high court ruled no on all counts and said, “All other outstanding motions are dismissed as moot.” It said the claim could have resulted in the “disenfranchisement” of millions of voters.

The court also criticized Kelly and company for filing their lawsuit more than a year after the law establishing universal mail-in voting was passed by the state legislature.

Today’s ruling wipes out a lower court order that had blocked officials from certifying the Keystone State’s election results.

More than 26  election challenges filed by Team Trump have now been dismissed by courts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and elsewhere.

So. Much. Winning.

Judge Throws Out Trump Lawsuit To Stop Mail-In Voting In Nevada

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

The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) lost today in a legal court fight meant to derail mail-in voting in Nevada for the 2020 presidential election.

From Talking Points Memo:

U.S. District Judge James Mahan on Monday threw out the Trump campaign’s lawsuit over Nevada’s vote-by-mail measure that directs all local elections officials to send mail-in ballots to all of the registered voters in the state.

Mahan ruled that the Trump campaign, along with the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Nevada GOP, “make no showing” of an unfair advantage against GOP candidates caused by the measure, known as Assembly Bill 4 (AB 4).

The judge described the plaintiffs’ claims–that voting by mail hurts Republicans and that mail-in ballots illegally distort the vote count–as “generalized and speculative.”

“Plaintiffs never describe how their member voters will be harmed by vote dilution where other voters will not,” Mahan wrote. Republican candidates “face no harms that are unique from their electoral opponents.”

Trump has repeatedly attacked AB 4 in his attempts to undermine and suppress the vote in the battleground state.

In sowing seeds of doubt, the Donald continually alleges – without any evidence – that Democrats (but not Republicans) would somehow cheat with mail-in voting. And yet the last time there was any voter fraud of note actually found, it was on behalf of a North Carolina Republican candidate back in 2018.

Several states – including Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington – have handled their elections via mail-in ballots for years with no irregularities reported.

How To Avoid Lines During Voting & Make Sure Your Ballot Gets Counted

Photo showing a hand dropping a ballot in a ballot box at the polls

My friend Jerome shared this advice on Facebook for people who might feel unsafe about voting in person but now fear the USPS will be unable to deliver a “mail-in” ballot in a timely fashion.

There is a way around it:

1. Request a mail-in ballot.
2. Do not mail it.
3. Google your supervisor of elections to see where you can drop off your mail-in ballot. Its usually NOT THE POLLING PLACE. All states allow this!

Here is what you’re accomplishing by doing this:

1. Your ballot gets in on time no matter what happens to the USPS.
2. You don’t have to worry about standing in long lines and risking infection. You’re just stopping by to drop it off.
3. You still voted! Hooray!

Also, when you drop it off, find out how to track it online to make sure it is verified. California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado have systems that can track your ballot just like tracking a package from Amazon.

All CA vote centers (which are open for weeks to a month before election day) have ballot drop-off boxes too! Many government buildings have them as well, so there’s no need to wait until election day when it’s crowded to drop them off.

The list of drop-off sites is always posted on each county’s voter info website.

News Round-Up: August 1, 2020

Reichen and Chip win Season 4 of The Amazing Race (screen capture)

Some news items you might have missed:

Instinct Magazine: My colleague at my ‘other home’ has done a terrific round-up of LGBTQ reality show winners over the years including Amazing Race Season 4 champs Reichen and Chip (above). Hit the link for winning LGBTQ moments from Survivor, Big Brother and more.

Global News: Shane Daum, 43, reports he was gay-bashed by a group of seven individuals while camping in British Columbia. During the incident, the men (who recognized him from his local grocery store) held his dog as they beat him unconscious. He was treated for a concussion, but law enforcement says they aren’t pressing charges because there are “no independent witnesses to identify any particular accused at the time.”

Out Music: With his work in television, film and theater, Tituss Burgess is quickly emerging as one of the entertainment industry’s most versatile and dynamic performers. Burgess recently dropped his first single, “Dance M.F.,” aimed squarely at the dance music culture and this year’s many unstoppable virtual pride celebrations.

The track is a sultry sexy stomper with an attitude that is certain to bring comfort and escapism to our currently socially distanced souls. Burgess says the song “is a love letter to all the party people who in spite of the pandemic, are still committed to ‘live their best lives,’ party on down and celebrate Pride safely while in lockdown.”

Variety: Facebook is unleashing hundreds of thousands of music videos in the U.S. starting this weekend — a direct challenge to YouTube, which has had a virtual lock on the internet music-video space for years. With the U.S. launch of music videos, which Facebook has been actively developing since at least last fall, the company has updated Artist Pages of musicians and singers with a new section to let users browse their official music videos.

Yahoo News: Now that Donald Trump’s big GOP donor buddy Louis DeJoy has been installed as Postmaster General, orders are going out to employees reducing hours and services. I’m sure it’s all part of a plan to hobble voting by mail which Trump has been demonizing for weeks now for alleged ‘election fraud’ potential.

The Hill: Some Republicans are urging GOP leaders to abandon the attacks on mail-in voting and to instead embrace it, warning that the president is effectively sabotaging his own party. The impact could be particularly pronounced in Florida, a battleground state where Republicans have traditionally outpaced Democrats among absentee voters. It’s also the preferred method of voting for many seniors, who broke for Trump in 2016.

InstaHunks: I thought I’d share another shot of Backyard Envy host Garrett Magee since he made such a splash yesterday in my post about the upcoming Season 2 premiere on Tuesday, August 4.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Garrett Magee (@garrettbmagee) on

Trump Floats Delaying 2020 Election, Dems & GOP Say ‘No’

Donald Trump during a White House press briefing (public domain)

We’ve all been expecting this, no?

Donald Trump floated the idea of postponing the 2020 presidential election in a tweet today saying “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

No, Donald.

First, folks have been mailing in ballots for decades. Whole states vote that way as well has hundreds of thousands of military service members.

Per the Washington Post: “The U.S. Constitution gives the power to regulate the “time, place and manner” of general elections to the U.S. House and Senate, with Congress also empowered to alter the rules. States control the dates of primary elections. Nowhere is the president granted such power.”

Campaign Ad: Guess Who Votes By Mail?

(image by Morning Brew on Unsplash)

Donald Trump desperately wants to paint voting by mail as the gateway to super fraudulent voting.

Except – a recent Washington Post analysis of data collected by three vote-by-mail states found that officials identified just 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent.

Currently, 76% of Americans already have the right to vote by mail.

In fact, Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other members of the Trump administration vote by mail.

So, if it’s good enough for them, why stop average Americans?

Trump Press Secretary Has Voted By Mail 11 Times Since 2010

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (public domain)

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has spent the past week defending Donald Trump’s baseless claims that allowing more people to vote-by-mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

But it appears McEnany, like her boss, is playing a game of “Do as I say, not as I do.” A new report shows McEnany has utilized mail-in ballots for ten years.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

The Tampa native has voted by mail in every Florida election she has participated in since 2010, according to a Tampa Bay Times review of her voting history. Most recently, she voted by mail in the state’s March 2020 presidential primary, just as Trump did after he made Florida his new permanent home.

Last week, McEnany, 32, said vote-by-mail was OK for Trump because “the president is, after all, the president, which means he’s here in Washington. He’s unable to cast his vote down in Florida, his state of residence.”

Meanwhile, McEnany, a graduate of South Tampa’s Academy of the Holy Names and a Davis Islands homeowner, has voted by mail 11 times over the last 10 years.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Now, why is it ok for McEnany to vote by mail but not others…?

Trump Says New Coronavirus Stimulus Package ‘Dead On Arrival’

Donald Trump speaks at the White House (photo: public domain)

Donald Trump says the new coronavirus relief package being worked out in Congress is a ‘no go’ before it even has a vote.

From NBC News:

“DOA. Dead on arrival. Of course, Nancy Pelosi knows that,” he told reporters Wednesday at the White House.

About one-third of the $3 trillion legislation is relief for state, local and tribal governments, which many Republicans are resisting.

The measure also includes assistance to essential workers, an extension of unemployment insurance beyond July, another round of $1,200 direct cash payments and various other measures that are unlikely to gain bipartisan support but serve as an opening bid for Democrats.

Trump ripped into election-related provisions that would require 15 consecutive days of early voting and the option for every American to vote by mail through an absentee ballot, rules that would take effect starting in the 2020 presidential contest.

“Mail-in ballots is subject to tremendous corruption. Tremendous corruption, cheating. And so I’m against it,” Trump said. “And if you look at the bill that Nancy Pelosi is putting in, it has a lot to do with elections. We’re not going to lose elections because of that.”

As NBC News notes, ‘voter fraud’ is an often repeated lie for Trump. But even though he says it over and over, the truth is several studies and investigations by election experts have looked into the issue and no widespread fraud has ever been found.

In fact, five state handle their elections completely by mail-in voting: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah.

Additionally, Trump recently admitted that HE voted in Florida’s recent election by mail. And hundreds of thousands of military service members participate in the electoral process by mail every cycle.

Trump’s issue with mail-in voting is it enables more Americans to take part, and higher turnout tends to favor the Democratic party.

News Round-Up: May 8, 2020

(image by Tom of Finland)

Some news items you might have missed:

Gay Star News: Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tom of Finland – the illustrator who defined an idealistic gay body for a generation of men. Check out GSN’s quick guide to Touko Valio Laaksonen – better known as Tom of Finland.

Human Rights Campaign: Helle Jae O’Regan, a 20-year-old transgender woman, was killed in San Antonio, Texas, on May 6. Her death is believed to be the at least 11th violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S., and the sixth known violent death in just over five weeks.

Instinct: Ruh-roh – apparently guys can now access the gay dating app Grindr from their laptops.

KIT212: Check out Kenneth’s weekly round-up of the what’s what in gay publications across the country like Gloss Magazine’s ‘Social Distancing Issue’ below.

(image via GlossMagazine.net)

San Diego Tribune: Souplantation, the popular buffet-style dining brand founded 42 years ago, is closing all 97 of its restaurants permanently, a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic that is likely to be the death knell for all self-serve eateries. The announcement was made by Garden Fresh Restaurants which owns both Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes.

CNBC: California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Friday allowing all registered voters in the state to receive a mail-in ballot this November. Newsom also clarified that California will still provide an opportunity for people to vote in person at a polling center.

Out Music: It’s a love song gone wrong for singer/songwriter and multi-talented artist Joshua Sade James and his new single, “All Fall Down.”

The song’s bittersweet inspiration was related to a relationship and breakup he’d had while in college. “It allowed me to do a lot of self-reflection,” shares James. “I wrote the song after the second time we broke up, and just got to think about how truly toxic we were towards each other.”

The award-winning artist adds, “It was interesting to shoot this video with a current love interest when it’s actually about a previous one.”