Categories for LGBTQ
ATTORNEY GENERAL/LGBTQ/TRANSGENDER/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The parents of Matthew Shepard, the gay college student whose murder led to the passage of a groundbreaking federal law that expanded the definition of violent federal hate crimes, harshly criticized the Trump administration’s record on civil rights in a letter read aloud in their absence during a Justice Department ceremony on Wednesday [10-16-19]. Judy and Dennis Shepard, whose son was beaten to death in 1998 in Laramie, Wyo., had been invited to speak at a Justice Department ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the law named for him and for James Byrd Jr., a black man who was dragged to his death behind a pickup truck earlier that year in Texas. Instead, the Shepards, who said they were unable to attend the ceremony because of travel issues, singled out Attorney General William P. Barr for what they see as the Trump administration’s failure to protect the rights of transgender people.”
–Katie Benner, “Matthew Shepard’s Parents Assail Trump Administration on Transgender Rights,” The New York Times online, October 16, 2019
BUSINESS/GOVERNMENT/LABOR/LGBTQ/RELIGION/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “U.S. businesses with federal government contracts would be allowed not to hire LGBT+ candidates on religious grounds under a proposed rule announced on Wednesday [8-14-19] by the U.S. Department of Labor. The policy change would state that government contractors, including universities, hospitals and corporations, can claim religious exemptions in employment decisions if they can produce evidence of ‘religious purpose’ in their organization. The policy, overseen by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) which sets anti-discrimination rules for businesses working with the government, would weaken an LGBT+ nondiscrimination order by former U.S. President Barack Obama…About one in four workers is employed by a government contractor, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Opponents expressed concern that the rule amounted to tax-funded discrimination against vulnerable populations, including single mothers and LGBT+ Americans.”
–Kate Ryan, “Government contractors could refuse LGBT+ workers under new U.S. religious exemption,” Reuters, August 14, 2019 3:49 pm
LABOR/LGBTQ/RELIGION/SUPREME COURT/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Trump administration opened the door Wednesday [8-14-19] to permitting government contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees with a proposed rule that frames the issue as protecting companies’ religious beliefs. The Labor Department proposal follows a string of Supreme Court decisions that protected business owners’ rights to refuse service to gay customers in some circumstances and to opt out of coverage for employees’ birth control, and that expanded churches’ ability to qualify for government funding. In October the high court will hear arguments about whether discrimination against LGBT employees violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Trump Justice Department, reversing its previous stance under President Barack Obama, will argue that it does not. Wednesday’s proposed rule for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs will clarify that government contractors may make employment decisions that align with their religious beliefs.”
–Ian Kullgren, “Trump rule to protect contractors who discriminate against LGBT workers,” Politico, August 14, 2019 12:52 pm
HUMAN RIGHTS/LGBTQ/MINORITIES/STATE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP PEOPLE: “The Trump administration plans to officially launch a new panel on human rights as early as Monday [7-8-19]— one already under scrutiny from Democrats who fear its stated focus on ‘natural law and natural rights’ could undercut protections for women and LGBTQ people around the world. State Department officials are briefing officials in Washington this week on the unveiling of the ‘Commission on Unalienable Rights,’ a body with as many as 15 appointees who will offer advice on human rights policy to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. At least 10 of the people have been chosen so far, and their names are expected to be revealed at the launch, according to people familiar with the issue, who noted that the launch plans could still change. The panel was conceived with almost no input from the State Department’s human rights bureau, people familiar with the matter say, effectively sidelining career government experts who have focused on human rights policy and history across numerous administrations.”
–Nahal Toosi, “Trump’s ‘natural law’ human rights panel readies for launch,” Politico, July 3, 2019 8:17 pm
LGBTQ/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals….”
-Donald Trump, Twitter.com, May 31, 2019 2:12 pm
LGBTQ/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “….on the basis of their sexual orientation. My Administration has launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and invite all nations to join us in this effort!”
–Donald Trump, Twitter.com, May 31, 2019 2:12 pm
CITIZENSHIP/LGBTQ/STATE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Roee and Adiel Kiviti have been married almost six years and live in the United States. They are both American citizens, as is their 2-year-old son, Lev. However, they say their infant daughter, Kessem, has been denied birthright citizenship under a State Department policy that considers her ‘born out of wedlock’ — and they’re not the first LGBT family to be affected by the policy under the Trump administration. Both children were born in Canada using an egg donor and a surrogate mother. The Kivitis told CNN’s Brianna Keilar that it was ‘a straightforward procedure’ to obtain Lev’s US passport. This was not the case when they sought to do the same for Kessem in early May…Roee and Adiel Kiviti have been married almost six years and live in the United States. They are both American citizens, as is their 2-year-old son, Lev. However, they say their infant daughter, Kessem, has been denied birthright citizenship under a State Department policy that considers her ‘born out of wedlock’ — and they’re not the first LGBT family to be affected by the policy under the Trump administration.”
–Jennifer Hansler, “Trump admin is denying citizenship to some children of same-sex couples,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, May 17, 2019 3:09 am
LGBTQ/MIKE PENCE/TRUMP PEOPLE: “Vice President Mike Pence hosted Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and his same-sex partner at the Naval Observatory for the Friends of Ireland breakfast on Thursday [3-14-19]. While the Pences hosted Varadkar last year as part of an annual trip the Irish delegation makes to Washington, this year the vice president and his wife, Karen Pence, also invited Varadkar’s partner, Matthew Barrett…Pence’s support for the LGBT community has been called in to question throughout his political career. Pence, a staunch conservative Christian, signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act while he was governor of Indiana. Critics of the law contend that individuals and businesses could use it to discriminate against the gay community on the basis of religion. Pence also signaled support for federal funds to be allocated for gay ‘conversion therapy’ on his 2000 US House campaign website, where it said ‘resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.’ Karen Pence recently came under fire for accepting a job as an art teacher at a private Christian school that bars LGBTQ students, parents and employees.”
–Jamie Ehrlich, “Pence hosts Irish prime minister and his partner at Naval Observatory,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, March 14, 2019 5:06 pm
EDUCATION/LGBTQ/MIKE PENCE/TRUMP PEOPLE: “In the upside-down logic of conservative religious politics, then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence framed a law that permitted discrimination to be about ‘freedom’ and sparked such outrage — ‘Fix this now’ demanded Indiana’s leading paper — that he had to reverse it. Now it’s Karen Pence, the vice president’s wife, who’s stirring controversy by associating herself with bigoted ideas. She’s getting help in this regard from President Trump. A teacher who embraced art therapy as a cause when she became second lady, Pence recently went to work at Immanuel Christian school in Virginia, a school at which she previously taught for 12 years while her husband was serving in Congress and where job applicants are asked to disavow marriage equality for gay adults and transgender identity is treated as ‘moral misconduct’…In this case, Karen Pence has created division in a field where professionals who would rather be helping others have been in conflict among themselves over the second lady’s bigoted views. The Pences clearly don’t understand the polarizing nature of the issue: ‘It’s absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school’s religious beliefs, are under attack,’ said a spokeswoman for Pence.”
–Michael D’Antonio, “Trump praises Karen Pence while controversy over her role simmers,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, February 7, 2019 9:27 pm
ABORTION/LGBTQ/SUPREME COURT/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “In the week since Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement, the future of Roe v. Wade has dominated the conversation among both liberals and conservatives, becoming a flash point in the partisan battle over President Trump’s pick to fill the seat. The effect Justice Kennedy’s retirement could have on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights has received less attention. The prospect of a more conservative justice, though, has L.G.B.T. rights groups worried about legal challenges from conservative groups that oppose gay marriage, who may see an opportunity to challenge rulings that have established its legality. L.G.B.T. groups have made great advances in recent years thanks largely to a string of Supreme Court decisions written by Justice Kennedy, including cases that legalized gay sex and established a right to same-sex marriage…Opposition to Roe v. Wade has been a driving force in American conservatism for decades. But Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision that legalized same-sex marriage, is a newer setback for religious conservatives. Many activists said they would welcome the chance to challenge the ruling, but they said it could take years for a case to reach the Supreme Court.”
-Liam Stack and Elizabeth Dias, “Why the Supreme Court Opening Could Affect Gay Marriage as Much as Abortion,” The New York Times online, July 3, 2018
LGBTQ/MIKE PENCE/PROTESTS: “Guess who just managed to pull a best-selling book out of their hat? That’s right: it’s John Oliver and the staff of Last Week Tonight—specifically, writer Jill Twiss—whose picture book, the somewhat cumbersomely titled Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, is, as of this writing, the No. 1 best-selling book on Amazon. It’s a sweet victory, made even sweeter by the book that’s currently down at fourth place: Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President, a picture book written by Mike Pence’s 24-year-old daughter, Charlotte, and illustrated by his wife, Second Lady Karen Pence.
The results may be even more satisfying for Oliver on the children’s book chart, where the Pence joint is being outsold not only by the hardcover version of A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, but also by the Last Week Tonight creation’s Kindle edition. The Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo audiobook, featuring the talents of Jim Parsons, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jeff Garlin, Ellie Kemper, John Lithgow, Jack McBrayer, and RuPaul, is also Audible’s current No. 1 best-seller, beating out slightly more substantial audiobooks like James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty and the movie tie-in version of A Wrinkle in Time… Last Week Tonight’s bunny book, which follows a sprightly young rabbit named Marlon as he meets and falls in love with a dashing male rabbit named Wesley (and defeats a stink-bug bad guy that doesn’t think boy bunnies should marry each other, one who looks an awful lot like Mike Pence), would not exist were it not for the Pence family’s book, a gentle dramatization of life in the Naval Observatory from a bunny’s-eye view.
The Last Week Tonight crew specifically wrote their take on Marlon Bundo to piss off Pence, who is notoriously anti-gay rights. In a deliciously petty flourish, Oliver and Co. made their bunny book available one day before the Pence family’s—and they also gave the book a purposefully similar title and cover, all the better to accidentally ensnare unsuspecting consumers. Proceeds from both books will be donated to charity: the Pence family’s are going to A21, which works to end human trafficking, and Tracy’s Kids, an art-therapy program for children with cancer, while Last Week Tonight chose the L.G.B.T.Q.-friendly Trevor Project and AIDS United.”
-Hillary Busis, “John Oliver’s Gay-Bunny Book Is Outselling the Mike Pence Book It’s Trolling,” Vanity Fair, Mar. 20, 2018 08:53am
LGBTQ/POLITICAL FIGURES/RELIGION: “Sen. Mike Lee reintroduced a controversial bill Thursday [3-8-18] that aims to protect religious freedom but which critics argue could lead to discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
The Utah Republican unveiled a new version of the ‘First Amendment Defense Act,’ which was initially introduced in 2015 but not taken up by committee in the Republican-controlled Senate at the time.
The bill seeks to protect individuals and institutions from punitive action by the government — such as revoking tax exempt status or withholding federal grants or benefits — for believing that marriage is between one man and one woman and for opposing sex outside of marriage… Unlike the 2015 version, however, the bill would also protect those who support any federal legal definition of marriage between two people, including same-sex marriage. So, for example, a pro-same-sex marriage group would be protected against discriminatory efforts from an administration that opposes same-sex marriage.
A spokesman for Lee, Conn Carroll, said the change was made after critics raised equality concerns about the bill in 2015.
Despite the change, activist groups still argue the bill could lead to unfair treatment.”
-Ashley Killough, “Sen. Mike Lee reintroduces religious freedom bill, LGBTQ groups cry discrimination,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Mar. 9, 2018 07:20am
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT/LEGAL/LGBTQ/NEW YORK: “A federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled on Monday [2-26-18] that federal civil rights law bars employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation.
The case, which stemmed from the 2010 dismissal of a Long Island sky-diving instructor, was a setback for the Trump Justice Department, whose lawyers found themselves in the unusual position of arguing against government lawyers from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The E.E.O.C. had argued that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars workplace discrimination based on ‘race, color, religion, sex or national origin,’ protected gay employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
But the Trump Justice Department took the position that the law did not reach sexual orientation, and said the E.E.O.C. was ‘not speaking for the United States.’
The Justice Department and Altitude Express, the instructor’s employer, could seek review of the decision by the United States Supreme Court, although neither party had any immediate comment on the ruling…
The appeals court only rarely issues decisions in what is known as the en-banc court, in which all eligible judges, in this case 13, participate. Usually, the appeals court issues rules through three-judge panels.”
-Benjamin Weiser and Alan Feuer, “Civil Rights Act Protects Gay Workers, Appeals Court Rules,” The New York Times online, Feb. 26, 2018
DEFENSE/JAMES MATTIS/LGBTQ: “U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has made his recommendations to the White House on transgender individuals and military service, the Pentagon said on Friday [2-23-18].
Major David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said the recommendations had been made earlier on Friday and the White House would make any policy decisions.
In September, the Pentagon said it had created a panel of senior officials to study how to implement a directive by President Donald Trump to prohibit transgender individuals from serving.”
-Reuters Staff, “Pentagon makes recommendations to White House on transgender individuals,” Reuters, Feb. 23, 2018 08:17am
EDUCATION/LEGAL/LGBTQ: “A spokeswoman for the Department of Education confirmed on Monday that the department is no longer investigating civil rights complaints from transgender students banned from using bathrooms conforming with their gender identity.The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights ‘continues to use current law and current regulation to determine if any child in school is being harassed or discriminated against due to race, sex, or disability,’ Hill said. ‘The secretary and the department believe strongly that all students are to be protected from harassment and bullying and have the opportunity to learn in a safe and nurturing environment.’…
The development, which was first reported by BuzzFeed News, was widely criticized by civil rights groups, who said it could endanger the welfare of transgender students…
The development reverses 2016 guidance by the Obama administration that directed public school students to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity. The Obama administration’s position was that Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools, protects transgender students.
The Education Department under the Trump administration has a different interpretation of Title IX.”
-Juana Summers, “Education Department says it is no longer investigating transgender bathroom complaints,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Feb. 12, 2018 10:45pm
LGBTQ/MIKE PENCE/SPORTS: “The 2018 Winter Olympics officially opened on Friday [2-9-18] but the first bit of drama has already boiled over: a three-way dispute between Adam Rippon, the first openly gay American man to qualify to compete in the Winter Games; Mike Pence, the conservative vice president and longtime opponent of gay rights; and the newspaper USA Today.
As controversies go, this one seems to have it all. Mr. Rippon, a charismatic 28-year-old figure skater, newly minted gay icon and social media darling, criticized Mr. Pence for his opposition to gay rights and long-rumored support of conversion therapy, a discredited practice that proponents claim can make gay people straight. Mr. Rippon also declined an invitation to meet with Mr. Pence before the Games, his agent said.
Mr. Pence and his spokespeople have pushed back, arguing that he does not support conversion therapy, which has been discredited by the medical community and condemned by rights groups. And the snub from Mr. Rippon? They say it never happened because they never asked him to meet in the first place.”
-Liam Stack, “Mike Pence Tangles With Olympian Adam Rippon Over Gay Rights Record,” The New York Times online, Feb. 9, 2018
LGBTQ/MIKE PENCE/SPORTS: “US Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon reportedly turned down a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence after criticizing him for his stance on gay rights.
After reading a January 17 interview in which Rippon criticized Pence, the vice president’s staff asked the US Olympic Committee to set up a conversation that same day between the athlete and the politician, which Rippon ultimately declined, USA Today reported Wednesday [2-7-18], citing two sources with knowledge of the situation.
CNN has reached out to Pence’s office for comment. Rippon’s publicist Lynn Plage offered no further comment on the matter.
Last month, Rippon, who is one of two openly gay American Olympians at the Games, blasted the White House for tapping Pence to lead the official US delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympic opening ceremony… The vice president’s press secretary Alyssa Farah provided the newspaper with a rebuttal to Rippon’s remarks… As governor of Indiana, Pence signed the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015, which allowed business to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of religious freedom…
Rippon, 28, and U.S. skier Gus Kenworthy, 26, are the first two openly gay Winter Olympic athletes representing Team USA. Kenworthy also took issue with the vice president leading the U.S. delegation, calling it a ‘strange choice in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres Monday. Both Rippon and Kenworthy said they would skip visiting the White House when President Donald Trump invites Team USA after the Olympics.”
-Veronica Stracqualursi, “USA Today: Openly gay Olympic athlete turns down Pence meeting,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Feb. 7, 2018 01:22pm
LGBTQ/MIKE PENCE/SPORTS: “Gay U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon said on Thursday [2-8-18] he is willing to meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who has expressed staunchly anti-gay rights views, for an ‘open conversation’ – but only after the Olympics.
Rippon set off a furore last month by reportedly criticizing Pence’s views on LGBT rights and then declining when Pence offered to meet. Pence arrived in South Korea on Thursday as head of the U.S. delegation to the Games.
Rippon declined to confirm if Pence had in fact reached out to him, referring queries to the U.S. Olympic Committee.
‘I don’t want to distract from the competition or make this too much for my competitors and my teammates,’ he told reporters after a practice session…
USA Today cited two unnamed sources in a story on Wednesday that said a member of Pence’s staff had tried to set up a conversation between Rippon and the vice president, but the skater declined.
Pence communications director Jarrod Agen told reporters in Tokyo that the report was ‘false and should be corrected’.”
-Elaine Lies, “Figure skating: Gay skater Rippon open to meeting Pence – after Games,” Reuters, Feb. 7, 2018 11:29pm
LGBTQ/SUPREME COURT: “The Supreme Court declined Monday [1-8-18] to consider a challenge to a Mississippi law authorizing individuals and merchants to deny service to same-sex couples on the basis of ‘sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.’
The brief order comes as the justices grapple with a case posing many of the same issues in a different context: a Colorado baker’s claim that the First Amendment exempts him from a civil-rights law requiring him to sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples on the same terms as heterosexual customers. The baker, Jack Phillips of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., says his Christian beliefs frown on same-sex marriage; the case was argued in December and a decision is expected before July.
The Mississippi case was the latest example of the legal fallout following the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, Obergefell v. Hodges.
In contrast to Colorado, where lawmakers sought to protect gay people from discrimination, Mississippi acted to buttress the ability to deny them service. It is unclear, however, how the 2016 state statute, the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, adds to Mississippians’ existing freedom to treat gay people differently; like most states and the federal government, Mississippi law doesn’t specifically protect gay people from discrimination.”
-Jess Bravin, “High Court Won’t Hear Challenge to State Law Letting Merchants Refuse Service to Gay People,” The Wall Street Journal online, Jan. 8, 2018 10:30am
LEGAL/LGBTQ/MILITARY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Pentagon for the first time has detailed the provisions it will use in admitting transgender recruits, issuing a memorandum that encompasses medical exams, room assignments and how the military will determine someone’s gender.
The memorandum envisions a Jan. 1 start for the process of admitting transgender recruits, in line with court rulings that have rejected President Donald Trump’s move to ban military service by transgender individuals.
The seven-page memo, dated Dec. 8 and released this week as part of court filings, states that incoming service members will be recognized by their preferred gender, even if they haven’t completed the necessary medical procedures. Service members who don’t specify a preferred gender are to be listed by the military by the gender listed on their birth certificate.
The gender designation will determine their room assignment, bathroom assignment, underwear requirements, height and weight standards and medical exams, the memo stated…
The memorandum was included in court documents filed Tuesday by opponents of the Trump administration’s ban, intended to show the military was prepared to begin admitting transgender recruits.
The Justice Department responded Wednesday, arguing the memo shows the military is ‘scrambling’ to meet the court order to start admissions on Jan. 1, an assertion rebutted by opponents of the transgender service ban…
The memorandum tackles some of the complex medical decisions that the U.S. military will confront.”
-Nancy A. Youssef, “Pentagon Details How It Will Admit Transgender Recruits,” The Wall Street Journal online, Dec. 20, 2017 06:30pm
LEGAL/LGBTQ/SUPREME COURT: “The Supreme Court said on Monday [12-11-17] that it would not hear an appeal in a case that could have resolved whether a federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against gay and lesbian workers.
The case concerned Jameka Evans, who said a Georgia hospital discriminated against her because she is a lesbian. She sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sex.
In March, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, ruled that Title VII’s reference to sex did not encompass discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The reach of Title VII has divided the federal appeals courts. In April, by an 8-to-3 vote, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, said Title VII covered gay people. ‘It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the *sex* from *sexual orientation,*’ Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote for the majority.
Such conflicts between appeals courts can prompt Supreme Court review. But the justices may have been troubled by an unusual aspect of Ms. Evans’s case. Lawyers for the hospital argued that it had not been properly served with legal papers, and they told the Supreme Court that they did not intend to appear to participate in the case.”
-Adam Liptak, “Supreme Court Won’t Hear Case on Bias Against Gay Workers,” The New York Times online, Dec. 11, 2017
LEGAL/LGBTQ/MILITARY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “A federal judge denied a renewed bid by the Trump administration to prevent transgender people from joining the U.S. military, ordering Monday [12-11-17] that such recruits be allowed to join beginning Jan. 1.
The military announced it would begin admitting transgender recruits in light of the latest order by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, which upholds an earlier ruling. But hours later, the Justice Department on Monday night filed an emergency request with an appeals court asking to keep the ban for now, leaving the issue in limbo as the New Year approaches.
While the Justice Department attempts further court intervention, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, said at a news briefing that the Pentagon is ‘preparing to implement a previous policy to remain in compliance’ with Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s order.
Advocates for open service praised the ruling, saying the Pentagon has had plenty of time to prepare to allow transgender individuals in the military. ‘Today’s announcement that the U.S. military will accept transgender applicants…reflects a simple reality: military and civil servants in the Pentagon have been preparing for accession for transgender Americans for more than two years,’ said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a research and advocacy institution in San Francisco.”
-Gordon Lubold and Brent Kendall, “Transgender Recruits Can Enlist in Military, Judge Says,” The Wall Street Journal online, Dec. 11, 2017 08:55pm
1A/JEFF SESSIONS/LGBTQ/RELIGION: “The details were spare when the event appeared this past summer on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s public schedule. He would speak to a group called Alliance Defending Freedom at a summit on religious liberty. It would be in Orange County, Calif., but no exact location was specified. No news media would be allowed in.
Only after an outcry over the secrecy of the event — and the anti-gay rights positions of its sponsor — did a transcript of Mr. Sessions’s remarks emerge on a conservative website. ‘Many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack,’ the attorney general told the gathering. ‘The challenges our nation faces today concerning our historic First Amendment right to the *free exercise* of our faith have become acute.’
Mr. Sessions’s focus on religious freedom in his speech was not an accident. The First Amendment has become the most powerful weapon in the legal arsenal of social conservatives fighting to limit the separation of church and state and roll back laws on same-sex marriage and abortion rights. And few organizations have done more to advance this body of legal thinking than his host, the Alliance Defending Freedom.”
-Jeremy W. Peters, “Fighting Gay Rights and Abortion With the First Amendment,” The New York Times online, Nov. 22, 2017
LEGAL/LGBTQ/MILITARY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “A second federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s proposed ban on transgender troops Tuesday [11-21-17], saying President Trump’s announcement of the ban in a series of tweets this summer was ‘capricious, arbitrary, and unqualified.’
In a preliminary injunction, Judge Marvin J. Garbis of the Federal District Court for Maryland halted a policy that would have discharged all current transgender troops and barred prospective ones from enlisting, saying it likely violated equal protection provisions of the Constitution.
Judge Garbis’s 53-page order went further than a similar ruling last month by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, which also said the ban likely violated the Constitution. ‘There is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effective on the military at all,’ the ruling said.
But while Judge Kollar-Kotelly did not specifically block a Trump administration policy prohibiting gender-reassignment surgery for service members at the government’s expense, Judge Garbis’s order does.”
-Dave Philipps, “Second Judge Blocks Trump’s Transgender Ban in the Military,” The New York Times online, Nov. 21, 2017
HOUSE OF REPS/LGBTQ/POLITICS: “With Virginia’s first openly transgender elected official preparing to take her seat in the House of Delegates, the Republican leader of that chamber says it is time to end a tradition of addressing lawmakers by formal male and female pronouns.
Instead of the ‘gentleman’ or ‘gentlewoman’ from a given jurisdiction, lawmakers will all be referred to as ‘delegate’ if Republicans maintain control of the chamber, House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said through a spokesman Tuesday.
Conservative lawmakers hailed the change as a way to avoid what they said could be a potentially awkward situation. But one of the longest-serving House Democrats called the decision ‘shameful’ and said lawmakers ‘ought to be big enough to get over these hang-ups we have.’
Cox’s office said he had been considering the change since shortly after he was chosen as the party’s designee for speaker, a title he would assume if the GOP retains control over the House after three close races are decided.”
-Antonio Olivo, “After Roem’s election, Va. GOP leader wants to do away with ‘Gentlewoman’ title,” The Washington Post online, Nov. 21, 2017 07:02pm