News Round-Up: July 21, 2021

Some news items you might have missed:

Instinct Magazine: The Department of Labor and the Department of Treasury have released new guidance that mandates almost all insurance companies within the U.S. must make PrEP, the HIV prevention pill otherwise known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, free with no cost-sharing.

The Advocate: A federal judge in West Virginia issued an injunction Wednesday against the state’s law barring transgender athletes from competing on school sports teams for their gender identity. “At this point, I have been provided with scant evidence that this law addresses any problem at all, let alone an important problem,” the judge wrote.

YouTube: Texas real estate agent Kelci Cashman and her children were removed from a plane in Orlando heading to Dallas when she went on a homophobic rant and refused to wear her mask. The crowd cheered when she finally left the plane.

Reuters: Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban stepped up a culture war with the European Union today by announcing a referendum on legislation that bans the use of materials seen as promoting homosexuality and gender change at schools.

PBS: COVID-19 cases tripled in the U.S. over two weeks amid an onslaught of vaccine misinformation that is straining hospitals, exhausting doctors and pushing clergy into the fray. The seven-day rolling average for daily new COVID-19 cases rose over the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, up from less than 13,700 on July 6.

NPR: A couple whose gender reveal ceremony sparked a Southern California wildfire that killed a firefighter last year were charged with involuntary manslaughter on Monday. The charges included one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, along with other felony and misdemeanor counts related to the fire.

Stephanie Ruhle’s Fierce Takedown On Anti-Trans Athlete Bills

MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle asks West Virginia Gov. Justice why address trans girls in sports versus larger more pressing issues in his state?

MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle asks West Virginia Gov. Justice why address trans girls in sports versus larger more pressing issues in his state?

This is a pretty brutal, but fair, take down by MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle on the topic of all those state’s currently banning transgender girls from playing sports in public middle schools, high schools, and universities.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice just signed such a bill into law, and Ruhle brings some direct questions to the table.

“The law you just signed, bans transgender female athletes from playing on women’s school sports teams,” she began. “Can you name one example of a transgender child, trying to gain an unfair competitive advantage at a school, there, in West Virginia?”

The governor was at a loss to do so. “Well, Stephanie I don’t have that experience exactly to myself, exactly, right now.”

“No, not yourself,” Ruhle pressed. “Your state. Can you give me one example of a transgender child trying to get an unfair advantage? Just one, in your state. You signed a bill about it.”

“I can’t really tell you one, but I can tell you this, Stephanie,” replied Justice. “I’m a coach and I coach a girls’ basketball team. And I can tell you we all know, we all know, what an absolute advantage boys would have playing against girls.”

“But sir – you have no examples of this happening,” countered Ruhle. “Why would you take your time to do this? Let’s talk about other things that I can give you examples of in your state. According to US News and World Report, West Virginia ranks 45th in education, 47th in health care, 48th on the economy, and 50th in infrastructure. If you can not name one single example for me, of a child doing this, why would you make this a priority? I just named four things that would seem to me like a much bigger priority.”

Justice attempted some lame babble praising girls who work so hard at their sports and they shouldn’t be disadvantaged by trans girls participating. He also said he thinks “there are only 12 kids in our state that are transgender-type kids.”

Ruhle wasn’t impressed. She ended the segment with this coup de grâce:

“Please come back, when beyond anecdotal feelings as a coach, you can show me evidence where those young women are being disadvantaged in your state because I can show you evidence how ranking that low in education is a disadvantage for young women and men in West Virginia.”

Annnnnnd, curtain. Watch the exchange below.

News Round-Up: December 30, 2019

Steve_in_la (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: For some #ManCrushMonday action, I’m checking in with woofy Steve_in_la (above) who’s on the most fab European holiday trip. Check him out in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. I don’t know who’s more gorgeous – Steve or the Palace… 🙂

• CBS News: Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia fired a group of recently graduated corrections officers Monday after they made a gesture resembling a Nazi salute in their class photo. Justice also fired a staffer at the state’s corrections officer academy and suspended four instructors without pay for failing to report the picture. In a statement, Justice said, “This kind of behavior will not be tolerated on my watch in any agency of State government.”

Washington Post: Over the course of his presidency, Trump has visited a Trump-owned or branded property on three out of every 10 days. Slightly more: Of the 1,075 days on which he has been president, he has visited Mar-a-Lago or a Trump Something-or-other on 331 of them, 31 percent of the time. Note – At a rally on Aug. 8, 2016, Trump assured the audience that, “because I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf.”

Politico: Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who launched the bureau’s Russia probe in 2016 and was fired two years later for sending text messages critical of Donald Trump, has alleged in a new court filing challenging his dismissal that the FBI and Justice Department violated his rights to free speech and privacy.

• Gallup: Barack Obama and Donald Trump tied this year as the most admired man. It is Obama’s 12th time in the top spot versus the first for Trump. Michelle Obama is the most admired woman for the second year in a row.

NewNowNext: After returning to the West End production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, drag star Bianca Del Rio was not having a woman in the audience who filmed the first act of the musical on her phone, which was noticed by the cast of the show, including Bianca. “Dear blonde bitch with glasses, Thanks for distracting the ENTIRE CAST and SEVERAL PEOPLE AROUND YOU as you filmed during all of ACT ONE with your phone in your hand. This is not a concert, theme park or even a cruise ship… it’s THE THEATRE! RESPECT IT!”

Lawmaker Suggests He’d Drown His Own Children If They Were Gay

Continuing his attacks on the LGBTQ community, a West Virginia lawmaker suggested he would drown his own children if he found out they were gay.
West Virginia Republican Eric Porterfield

Continuing his attacks on the LGBTQ community, a West Virginia lawmaker suggested he would drown his own children if he found out they were gay.

West Virginia delegate Eric Porterfield sat down with local NBC affiliate WVVA to discuss his homophobic comments made last week where he called the LGBTQ Community “a modern day version of the Klux Klan.”

WVVA’s Rachel Anderson asked Porterfield what he would do if his “adorable daughter” or “precious son” came out to him as gay?

Proudly wearing a red MAGA hat, the first term lawmaker replied, with a wide smile, “Well, I would dress my daughter first, as I would take her for a pedicure, I’d take her to get her nails done, and see if she could swim.”

“If it was my son, I would probably take him hunting, I would take him fishing, then I’d see if he could swim,” he added, again flashing a chilling smile.

After a pause, Anderson asked Porterfield to clarify what he meant by “see if they could swim?”

“I just want to make sure they could swim,” he reiterated and then again beamed with a smile.

Anderson, clearly flustered, asked one more time, “What do you mean?”

“That’s just it – I’d take them out to do activities,” said Porterfield.

Porterfield found himself in the national spotlight last Wednesday when he vociferously advocated for an amendment to a bill that would have prohibited local towns and cities from passing their own anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQ people.

West Virginia has no statewide protections for LGBTQ citizens.

Debating the legislation, Porterfield called anti-discrimination laws “bigoted,” “intolerant,” and “discriminatory.”

“The LGBT is the most socialist group in this country,” he said. “They do not protect gays. There are many gays they persecute if they do not line up with their social ideology.”

He also used the word “faggot” during the debate while referencing the speaking tour of controversial homocon, Milo Yiannopoulos.

Speaking to The New York Daily News on Monday, Porterfield adamantly stood by his comments, saying, “I stand by my statements; I double down on my statements.”

“They’re the closest thing to political terrorism in this country,” he said of the LGBTQ community. “If you don’t agree with them or give them their way, they’ll intimidate you, threaten you and bully you. They want people’s freedom to be restricted.”

WVVA reports West Virginia’s GOP Chairwoman Melody Potter has issued a statement denounced his comments, describing them as “hateful, hurtful, and do not reflect the values of our country.”

“As West Virginians, we are taught to respect one another, love our neighbors, and when we disagree to seek understanding of our fellow Mountaineers.

In recent days, Delegate Eric Porterfield has made comments that are hateful, hurtful, and do not reflect the values of our country, our state, and the Republican Party.

These comments are unacceptable and we denounce them. They have no place in America.

We may disagree on policy, politics, and the direction of our state, but we can disagree civilly and respectfully because intolerant and hateful views hold us back, divide us, and hurt our state.”

Podcast: Children Of Gay Parents, Trump On HIV, West Virginia & Wyoming

In this week's podcast:  • Donald Trump says he wants to eliminate the HIV epidemic within 10 years  • A state senator in Wyoming compared being gay to bestiality when she met with LGBTQ youth  • A new study indicates children raised by same-sex parents do better in school  • And, for the first time ever, a Disney character ever says the words “I’m gay”  All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

In this week’s podcast:

• Donald Trump says he wants to eliminate the HIV epidemic within 10 years

• A state senator in Wyoming compared being gay to bestiality when she met with LGBTQ youth

• A new study indicates children raised by same-sex parents do better in school

• And, for the first time ever, a Disney character ever says the words “I’m gay”

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

West Virginia Lawmaker Calls LGBTs “Socialists” And Compares Them To The KKK

Eric Porterfield (image via Porterfield campaign)

Things got heated in the West Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday when first-term Delegate Eric Porterfield advocated for an amendment to House Bill 2699 that would have prohibited local municipalities from adding nondiscrimination ordinances that protect sexual orientation and gender identity.

Porterfield defended the amendment saying, “As legislators, I don’t think it’s our job to legislate behavior,” according to MetroNews.

“This is discrimination against the first amendment and religious liberty, and the LGBT is the most socialist group and they don’t protect gays,” he added.

He also said the word ‘faggot’ as he referenced the speaking tour of infamous homocon Milo Yiannopoulous, “Dangerous Faggots Tour.”

To be clear, the word was chosen by Yiannopoulos, not Porterfield, for the title of the tour. But his colleagues objected to the use of the word much like folks would object to the use of the n-word.

On Friday, Porterfield continued his attacks on the LGBTQ community, telling the Charleston Gazette-Mail: “The LGBTQ is a modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan, without wearing hoods with their antics of hate.”

The Gazette-Mail went on to add that Porterfield called the LGBTQ community a “terrorist group,” and that he is being “persecuted” by the gay community in retaliation for his hateful comments.

Porterfield alleges he has received threats on Facebook and voicemails.

He took to his Facebook to write:

“Last night and today, members of the LGBTQ have exercised hate crimes and threatened my safety. We have reported this to the Capitol Police in Charleston and I would like all of my friends to pray for the safety of me and my family. These vicious monsters are proving that they are the most bigoted and discriminatory people in America. Though they try to intimidate and bully and try to strike fear to me and my family, we ask the Lord to help us stand tall against their persecution and their leftist minions within the legislature.”

Porterfield, a Baptist preacher, heads up an organization called Blind Faith Ministries. The name is a reference to Porterfield being vision-impaired.

West Virginia Democrats have called for the freshman Delegate’s resignation over his inflammatory comments and language.

Asst Principal Bullies Trans Student In Bathroom “If You Can’t Use This Urinal, You Shouldn’t Be In Here”

(image via Depositphotos)

An assistant principal at a West Virginia high school has been suspended after a complaint was filed alleging he had bullied a transgender male student in a bathroom.

Late last month, before boarding a bus for an after-school marching band trip, 15-year-old Michael Critchfield went to the boys bathroom and asked if anyone was present before entering a stall. As a trans boy, he had made a habit of checking to avoid potential confrontations.

Critchfield and his parents have been open with the school administration, since he began attending as a freshman last year, that he is transgender.

According to Critchfield, Liberty High School assistant principal Lee Livengood entered the bathroom and began harassing the student from outside the stall.

Critchfield says Livengood yelled, “Why are you in here? You shouldn’t be in here.”

Livengood reportedly misgendered Critchfield continually and ordered him to “come out here and use the urinal” to prove he was a boy.

“If you can’t use this urinal, then you shouldn’t be in here,” Livengood yelled, according to Critchfield. “What if a student said you were checking them out in here?”

Critchfield later told the ACLU of West Virginia he felt “degraded and discriminated against.”

According to The Huffington Post, other students could hear the screaming coming from the bathroom and alerted a parent who was acting as a chaperone that day.

The chaperone confronted the assistant principal outside the bathroom where Livengood allegedly admitted in front of Critchfield, “Not going to lie. You freak me out.”

When Caroline Critchfield picked up her son later that day, she found Michael terrified and traumatized.

The mother addressed the issue with Liberty High School administrators the next day where she was told Livengood would not have any further contact with her son and that an investigation would be launched into the matter.

But after several weeks, no update was forthcoming from the administration.

Additionally, Livengood would reportedly station himself in the cafeteria during Michael’s lunch period, which he hadn’t done before.

The family reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia for help regarding the incident.

‘It shocks the conscience that they’ve apparently taken no steps to discipline Mr. Livengood on this,’ ACLU-WV Executive Director Joseph Cohen told The Daily Beast.

After sending a letter to the superintendent of Harrison County Schools, Dr. Mark A. Manchin, requesting a meeting about the altercation, neither the Critchfields nor the ACLU received a response.

That is, until the media began reporting on the incident.

On Tuesday this week, Manchin told local media that Livengood would be suspended without pay until 2019.

“I was able to confirm the interaction with Mr. Livengood and that indeed he acted inappropriately,” Manchin told West Virginia MetroNews. “We need to address it and we will address it.”

With the Christmas holiday next week, that suspension ‘without pay until 2019′ amounts for four days.

“While we are heartened to hear the administration admit to wrongdoing, a four day paid suspension of an employee is not sufficient,” Cohen said in a public statement. “The Harrison County School District needs to make significant changes to its culture.”

Cohen’s statement continued, “We look forward to meeting with Mr. Manchin and developing a real plan to ensure that every student is safe.”

Cohen also underscored how the issue of harassment of transgender teens is literally a life or death issue as the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study earlier this year indicating 51 percent of trans male adolescents had attempted suicide.

West Virginia Sees Surprise Results In Welfare Drug Testing

Back in 2015, a representative for the National Conference of State Legislatures informed lawmakers in West Virginia that drug testing of low-income people applying for welfare aid historically results in very few positive tests.

But, the West Virginia lawmakers went on to pass a welfare drug-testing law by a large margin anyway in the next legislative sessions.

Those who supported the bill insisted the bill would help get those using drugs into treatment. Opponents decried the effort saying it unfairly stereotyped low-income folks.

At the time, it was estimated that the testing, which would cost about $50,000 a year, would flag about 390 people in the first year. That would amount to about 32 positive tests a month with an annual cost about $128 per positive test.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources began drug testing some applicants last October.

Between then and January 5 of this year, 873 folks applied for help, with 107 being asked to test for drug use based on a questionnaire.

The results?

A total of four applicants tested positive for drug use. At that rate, the state could expect to find 24 positive tests a year. That would average over $2,000 per positive test.

Draw your own conclusions.

More info at the Gazette-Mail.com.

West Virginia Lesbian Couple Settle Lawsuit With County Clerk Over Marriage License Harassment

(image via Americans United for Separation of Church and State)

A lesbian couple in West Virginia were told early last year that they were an “abomination” by a county clerk as they applied for a marriage license.

The clerk added at the time, “God would deal with them.”

In April, high school sweethearts Amanda Ambramovich and Samantha Brookover filed suit against Gilmer County in federal court with the help of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, claiming that Deputy Clerk Debbie Allen violated their constitutional rights by discriminating against them under the guise of religion when they applied for a license.

Now, the county has agreed to settle the lawsuit brought by the couple.

MetroWeekly reports on the outcome:

As part of Wednesday’s settlement, Gilmer County has agreed to issue a public statement admitting wrongdoing and apologizing to Abramovich and Brookover. The county also agreed to pay $10,000 in damages to the couple, and has promised to require all county officials and employees of both the clerk’s office and the County Commission to undergo sensitivity training, which will be provided by Fairness West Virginia, within the next four months.

Lastly, the county has agreed to permanently post a sign in the clerk’s office with language stating that the office will serve all residents, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Consenting adults should never be made to feel embarrassed or ashamed when marrying the person they love,” the couple told MetroWeekly. “It will be a comfort to know that this behavior will no longer be allowed in the Gilmer County Courthouse.”

Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump Win West Virginia Primaries

As expected, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump won his primary in West Virginia. Trump also easily won the Republican primary in Nebraska on Tuesday, with no challengers left on the field.

Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary in West Virginia.

At this writing, it looks like Sanders will notch a victory in the neighborhood of +10 points, which means the delegate math between him and Hillary Clinton (who currently has a delegate lead of about 295) won’t change by more than a handful – possibly a 5-8 net gain for Sanders.