National News

LGBT acceptance down, homicides up

Two studies show negative trends in approval of the queer and hate crimes against LGBT individuals. A new Harris Poll for GLAAD unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland revealed a drop in overall acceptance in the U.S. dropped from 53 to 49 percent. The study showed an 11 percent increase in the number of LGBT people who say they’ve experienced discrimination for their sexuality or gender identity. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs recorded 52 LGBT hate-based homicides in 2017, up from 28 single-incident anti-LGBT killings in 2016.

All states reported increases in anti-LGBT crime, more than half of the homicides occurred in Florida, Georgia, New York, Louisiana, and Texas, according to the report. Forty-five percent of the murders of men were related to violence related to hookups from ads placed on personal websites and apps.

Alabama (again) on marriage license

The Alabama Senate passed a bill that would eliminate marriage licenses in the state. People would instead go to a probate judge to merely get their marriages recorded by a state official. Instead of obtaining a marriage license, couples would show affidavits that they are of legal age, not already married and not related by blood or adoption.

Legislation author, Republican State Sen. Greg Albritton, said the state needed to get used to the fact that gay marriage is now legal and adjust accordingly. “It keeps the state from deciding who can and cannot get married,” he said and would make it easier for probate judges who feel morally conflicted. Eight counties in the state have not issued any marriage licenses since the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex marriage a constitutional right.

Mean tweets block gay man as US ambassador to Germany

Senate Foreign Relations Committee has narrowly approved LGBT activist and political advisor to Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns, Richard Grenell, as the Ambassador to Germany. A vote on the Senate floor is being held up as part of a “slow walking” process employed by Senate Democrats for all Political/Diplomatic posts. Under the notion that truth hurts, Sen. Christopher S. Murphy (D.-Conn.) objected to Grenell’s “mean Tweets”, among others, Grenell tweeted that ambassador to the Vatican Callista Gingrich “snaps on her hair,” and Hillary Clinton is “transforming into Madeline Albright.”

Olympic athletes join North Korea, snub VP

U.S. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon turned down a request from Vice President Mike Pence to talk after Rippon denounced the Veep’s role in leading the U.S. delegation to Pyeongchang. Rippon said he believed Pence holds homophobic opinions, objected to Pence’s previous positions on conversion therapy and HIV funding and, for good measure, Pence’s support for the president. Rippon said he might speak to Pence if he felt there was a way to have “an open conversation.” U.S. Olympic skier, Gus Kenworthy, had much the same criticism but not as good of press agentry.

A Pence spokesperson responded to Rippon, saying, “The vice president is proud to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics and support America’s incredible athletes. Despite these misinformed claims, the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing in Pyeongchang.”

Judge ruling: not just a piece of cake

A California judge denied an injunction sought by the state’s Department of Fair Housing in another wedding-cake case ruling artistic expression and religious freedom give a baker the right to refuse service. Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez-Del Rio sued Tastries Bakery located in Bakersfield for the owner’s refusal to bake them a wedding cake. Superior Court Judge David Lampe said the bakery could continue to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples, as cakes were a form of “artistic expression” and “expressive conduct” and protected by the First Amendment.

Holy Toledo, bar goes to church

One of Ohio’s oldest gay bars, Bretz Nightclub, in Toledo’s gayborhood of The Village-On-Adams closed and purchased by The Greater Toledo House of Prayer. The GTHP is affiliated with a group whose website states it, “oppose(s) and prohibit(s) living in, practicing, condoning, or supporting sex outside of marriage, adultery, homosexuality, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, gender identity different than the birth sex chromosomal level, pornography, or other sexual immorality.” A neighborhood association texted that, “The area will remain LGBT affirming, and stressed that it was “heartbroken” at the closing of Bretz.

Calif. modifies HIV transmission law

The California legislature updated HIV-related laws to be more in-line with how to treat transmittable conditions. The state reduced penalties for “intentional exposure” from a felony to a misdemeanor. The change also says an HIV-positive person cannot “expose” a sexual partner if they are virally suppressed, nor transmit the virus if their partner is on PrEP.

Legislation supporters see this as a significant step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of a criminal one saying, “State law will no longer discourage Californians from getting tested for HIV. We are helping to reduce the stigma that keeps some from learning their HIV status and getting into treatment to improve their health, extend their lives, and prevent additional infections.”

“Queer Eye” drops “Straight Guy”

After Will & Grace’s success, the Netflix has rebooted Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (re-titled simply Queer Eye). There was worry the show would seem like nothing has changed since the last show. But the reboot, starring Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness, Antoni Porowski, and Tan France has won over critics with the show’s, “Newfound sense of deep empathy. There’s more to the 2018 version than gay-straight dynamics (hence, no ‘for the Straight Guy’ in the title),” said James Poniewozik of the New York Times. One episode is about a gay man, who has always dressed to avoid ‘looking gay’ who wants to come out to his family and the Queer Eye guys help look and sound just right.

Colorado may defund Civil Rights Commission

The Republican-controlled state legislators have stripped funding from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The commission ruled against  Masterpiece Cakeshop for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the ruling. The legislators say the commission expires in this session and will need to be renewed before funding is approved. Democrat leaders in the legislature and the state’s governor say the move is motivated by the majorities’ anger over the ruling.

Homoerotic Olympics

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremonies saw some homoerotic action. U.S. Olympians Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy hugged and kissed on the parade. Kenworthy tweeted during the show, “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.” Show-stopping Tongan athlete Pita Taufatofua, who’s naked oiled, muscled torso lit up the most recent Summer Games opening, returned to the Winter Olympics as his country’s flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies. The cross-country skier repeated his stripped and oiled-flag routine.

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