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National and World Briefs

Tennessee adoption

Tennessee lawmakers will not consider a proposal allowing faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to place children with lesbian or gay parents, this year. The sponsor asked for the proposal to be taken up next legislative session — essentially killing it for the year. There was no debate or explanation of why the bill was withdrawn. It joins other anti-gay and lesbian legislative bills which have been defeated or withdrawn.


Mayor Pete and Chasten on TIME cover

TIME magazine featured presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and husband, Chasten, on a cover with the headline, “First Family.” The article reveals the division of labor in the marriage. Mayor Pete does the dishes and laundry and takes out the garbage. Chasten takes care of the dogs, the kitchen and shopping. It remains a mystery as to how this prompts anti-gay advocate, Bryan Fischer, to say it doesn’t matter if Mayor Pete is a “Top or a bottom, he’s not getting into heaven.”

Serodifferent study

Good news from a European study of nearly 1,000 male couples, where one partner with HIV was taking antiretroviral therapy to suppress the virus. Data shows there were no new cases of transmission to the HIV-negative partner during sex without a condom. The results are the same for gay men as for heterosexual couples, the risk of HIV transmission when HIV viral load is suppressed is effectively zero for both anal and vaginal sex. Not surprising, 15 men were infected with HIV over the course of the eight-year study but that was a result of sexual relationships with someone other than their partner. 

Methodist novitiates say no

Just say no to inequality. An entire confirmation class at First United Methodist Church in Omaha announced they have decided not to become members due to the church’s stance against marriage equality and gay or lesbian clergy. The mostly teenage class said in a letter, “We want to be clear that, while we love our congregation, we believe that the United Methodist policies on LGBTQ+ clergy and same-sex marriage are immoral.” The church’s decision is spurring rebellion at Methodist churches nationwide.

Conscience Rule for medical altered

The Department of Health and Human Services today announced its final “conscience rule” excusing health care personnel from participating in procedures to which they have religious or moral objections. This may affect those seeking gender-confirmation procedures or HIV treatment and prevention services. It will have a major effect on women seeking contraception or abortion. This changes a 2011 HHS Rule which made it difficult for medical providers to use religious reasons for service denial. The City of San Francisco announced it will sue HHS to block the rule from going into effect.

Tumblr to Pornhub?

Tumblr may again become a nice place to see men’s angry junk and other porno if a proposal by Pornhub to buy it from the puritanical Verizon, which acquired it in 2017, goes through. Shortly after the acquisition, Tumblr ceased linking to naughty content. Pornhub, reportedly the single most-visited internet site in the US, is very interested and, not surprisingly, has a goal of removing the ban and freeing users to post sexually explicit images and videos. Verizon’s action was decried by advocates as hurting the gay and lesbian community by “Taking away a vital social component to a community that is bound together by their sexual orientation and sexual desire. Without social media that allows this kind of exploration, we are losing a lot.” No word from advocates from the Down Low community.

Dog, Whistles

One of the most anti-gay politicians in the country, Texas Lt. Gov.Dan Patrick, pretended he didn’t whistle at his homophobic pack while being interviewed by the execrable Laura Ingraham on her nightly televised screed. In discussing former Texas Member of Congress and presidential candidate, Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, Patrick said Beto is, “So light in the loafers he floats off the ground at times.” Ingraham, sensing bait for the twitter outrage mob, tried to get Patrick to walk the phrase back, saying, “Now Dan, you just meant not consequential, correct? You didn’t mean any pejorative.” Patrick replied, “Yeah. Yeah. You know, he flaps his arms around a lot. He’s a lightweight.”

No Conga, so Cubans parade Pride

Cuban State-run National Center for Sex Education canceled its 12th annual CONGA against homophobia – a government approved gay pride equivalent. So rights activists held an unauthorized pride parade in Havana. The Communist government said it was subversive, which is what Pride Parades in the US used to be. In an island paradise which looks like it was designed to make men gay, a hundred Cubans chanting “long live a diverse Cuba” and carrying rainbow flags marched from Havana’s Central Park down to the seafront boulevard before being stopped by security officials. There were arrests and the crowd dispersed. Officials said the event would undermine the government and the US was accused of organizing the parade to promote the fall of the Cuban-supported Venezuela Maduro regime.

No luck with the Irish

A pastor who praised the Orlando Pulse massacre, saying there are “50 less pedophiles in the world,” has compared gays (he says “filthy faggots”) to ax murderers, and prayed for the death of President Obama, thought Ireland’s green acres was the place he’d rather be. The Irish government said the US is the place for you and pastor Steven Anderson was banned from entering Ireland. He was due to preach in Dublin but an online petition with 14,000 signatures was produced and the Irish government acted. For the record, Anderson has been banned from The Netherlands, Jamaica, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Botswana, and Canada.

Doc accused of unwanted rectal exams

A University of Southern California doctor is accused by 39 students of sexual misconduct. In what is reminiscent of a night in a 1980s gay bar full of willing participants, they complain he subjected them to invasive questions about their sexual preferences and gave them unwanted prostate exams. He seemed to target gay or bisexual students after learning of their sexual orientation. He asked questions about each student’s sexual partners, if they were into “twinks” or older men, their preferred sexual practices and positions, and if they ever used sex toys. The suit also alleges the doctor would perform rectal examinations without wearing gloves and fondle patient’s genitals. He told one plaintiff that anal penetration was a “normal sexual activity” that “people do for pleasure.” The students are suing USC for allowing the doctor to practice for 20 years without taking action.

The Met and Camp don’t mix

“Camp is esoteric. To talk about Camp is therefore to betray it,” Susan Sontag wrote in her 1964 essay, “Notes on Camp.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art betrayed Camp horribly in NYC at the annual Anna Wintour organized fundraiser for the Costume Collection. The attendees showed that most people shouldn’t even be allowed to think Camp, let alone, portray it. The Met wanted Camp and got kitsch. Instead of the time-honored Camp costume typified by drag performers, it got pretty pale models and actresses wearing chandelier headdresses and other silly dreck. Even RuPaul decided not to do Camp, saying he dressed for comfort and being in drag is painful. He wore a subdued hot pink and black zebra-striped tuxedo. The Twitter mob jumped on Freddie Mercury’s straight-washing actor, Rami Malek, for wearing a black tux and not (God bless him) attempting a Camp look. “Rami Malek should have to give back his Freddie Mercury Oscar” tweeted one critic who, like the Met, Anna Wintour, and Met Gala attendees, should be sent home from Camp.

Equality Act

The Equality Act, sponsored in Congress by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and in the Senate by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) passed the House of Representatives. The act does many things but generally adds “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the 1964 Civil Rights act. Its fate is iffy in the Senate.

The usual suspects surfaced to criticize the bill; Pat Robertson said passage would ruin “the sanctity of America. If you want to bring the judgment of God on this nation, you just keep this stuff up,” he said. He brought up the Biblical Book of Leviticus as evidence. He was silent on stoning insolent teenagers and those mixing polyester and cotton also prescribed in Leviticus.

A group organized by African American pastors, Gone 2 Far Movement, criticized the Congressional Black Caucus for backing the Act. Their statement suggests the Act will set back minority rights. The CBC, “have determined to vote in favor of trivializing the historical suffering of Blacks as akin to a sexual desire,” said the pastors.

An interfaith coalition of over 70 Washington DC religious leaders, organized by an African American leader in the Unitarian Church, has announced support of the measure at a Capitol Hill rally. “As people of faith, we are preaching people of all gender identities and gender expressions deserve federal protections against discrimination.”

Jessie Tyler Ferguson joined a growing chorus of celebs in pushing for passage of the Equality Act. The Modern Family star and his husband, Justin Mikita, made a video for the Human Rights Campaign. Ferguson used his home state of New Mexico, which has a non-discrimination law and next door Arizona which doesn’t, as an example, “No one’s rights should be determined by what side of the state line they’re on.”

Marriage Equality-lite in Asia

It took a court ruling and a contentious fight over an anti-marriage referendum but marriage equality was approved for Taiwan. Almost. The law allows for registration outside the “civil code,” which is reserved for hetero-marriage. The 66–27 vote recognizes same-sex marriages and gives couples many of the tax, insurance and child custody benefits available to male-female married couples. Taiwan’s high court ruled on May 24, 2017, that barring marriage equality is unconstitutional and gave the legislature two years to pass a law or same-sex marriage would be legalized automatically. A public referendum in November 2018 voted to deny same-sex couples full marriage rights. Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party submitted legislation complying with both the court ruling and the referendum. Lin Tai-Hua, the legislation sponsor, said the law represents a major step forward. “But we will keep on fighting for full marriage rights.” Taiwan is the first Asian country to recognize same-sex marriage rights. Thailand has allowed registration of civil unions for some time, China says not only no, but Hell No.

Elton OK with straight-washed ‘Rocketman’

Rocketman, the big screen biopic of Elton John’s life was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival with Sir Elton in the audience. He was in tears throughout the movie, “I was very emotional. The movie floored me.” He defended the actor portraying him, Taron Egerton, dismissing the criticism that the man portraying him should have been a gay actor. “That’s all bullshit, I’m sorry. If people don’t like it, review-wise, or it doesn’t make one dollar, it’s the movie I wanted to make and that’s all that counts.” The big budget, five-star film and is an explosive tell-all look at John’s life including his alcoholism, drugs and sex addiction.

About the author

Craig Ogan

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