News Briefs

SS benefits for SS couples

The first steps in allowing longtime same-sex couples, whose marriage is illegal, to be awarded a deceased partner’s Social Security benefits, were taken in the Western Federal District Court of Washington State. Lambda Legal represented a woman denied Social Security benefits from a 27-year relationship with her female partner, who died in 2006. A federal court ruled that the Social Security Administration’s blanket denial of Social Security survivor’s benefits to same-sex spouses, denied marriage, is unconstitutional. The partner died before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell Ruling in 2015. SSA said the couple was not legally married. Yet, the District Judge disagreed. No appeals have been announced. 

No hate chicken at San Antonio Intl Airport

The San Antonio City Council made the city-owned airport cancel a contract with Chick-fil-A for a spot in the airport food court because of the chain’s history of donating to anti-LGBT groups. A citizens group sued the city to get the contract reinstated, but a Texas Appeals court ruled the group didn’t have the standing to sue. The court ruled that the group wanted “to undo and invalidate a contract previously approved by the city council, compel the city to re-open the contract approval process, and require the city to re-award the contract to a favored company.” “No, no,” said the court.

‘Boys’ set for September

The Netflix version of the late Matt Crowley‘s 1968 landmark play The Boys in the Band premieres this fall on Netflix. The film, about a group of New York City gay men having a birthday party, reunites the Broadway-revival cast: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesús, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington, and Tuc Watkins. It was a groundbreaking play when being gay was best hidden from general society. The story is about a group of friends gathering for a raucous birthday party, which devolves into inebriation, bickering, and hurt feelings.

NY State Park named for LGBT activist

A New York state park in Brooklyn was renamed for legendary activist Marsha P. Johnson of Stonewall Riot fame. “Marsha P. Johnson was one of the early leaders of the LGBT movement and is only now getting the acknowledgment she deserves,” said N.Y. Governor Cuomo. Johnson was a proud sex worker, drag performer, and activist for ACT-UP and other LGBT and HIV causes in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. She co-founded the organization Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, supporting queer youth in NYC. Johnson’s body was found in the Hudson River in 1999. Police ruled her death a suicide, but that ruling is disputed by people who knew her.

LGBT at national political conventions

The 2020 Democratic National Convention was LGBT-inclusive, with appearances by out-politicians, including Pete Buttigieg, Tammy Baldwin, Danica Roem, and Robert Garcia. Virginia state legislator, Roem said she wants to see a president “who can look a transgender woman in the eye and tell her, her rights are protected.” Garcia, the mayor of Long Beach, Calif., said he hoped for comprehensive immigration reform. The DNC recorded 635 gay and lesbian delegates, up from 600 in 2016. And 30 transgender and gender-nonconforming delegates, up from 24 in 2016. At the Republican Convention, former Ambassador and former acting Director of National Intelligence, Ric Grenell, spoke about his relationship with the current President, saying the President didn’t care if anyone is gay or lesbian, just competent.

Neal wins, Kennedy loses in Massachusetts

A mini-scandal appeared when U.S. Rep. Richard Neal tried to use the gay online chatroom dating history of his opponent Mayor Alex Morse, as a campaign issue, worked out for Neal. He won the election for the Democratic Primary in Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District, with an 18 percentage point lead. Winning the primary in “Mass First” is tantamount to winning the general election. Joseph Kennedy ran against incumbent Senator Ed Markey. Markey easily beat Kennedy, making him the first Massachusetts politician to defeat a “Kennedy” in an election.

Gotta love drag queens

Who has a better sense of humor than drag queens? No one. In San Francisco, a group from the Oasis Night Club put on wigs, make-up, and stage attire, including knee-high stiletto boots, to deliver food, cocktails, and socially distant lip-synching performances to people during the Coronavirus pandemic. What do they call it? “Meals on Heels.” The Oasis owner said, “You have the choice: either give up, go home and call it a night, or you can put on some duct tape, find a song you don’t know that well, and go out there and sell the number.”

Baby is a U.S. citizen

Two men, an American and a Brit, had a baby. The baby was born in the U.S., and they live in Georgia. They applied for a Social Security Number and a passport but were told the baby was considered illegitimate by U.S. Immigration Law. They sued, and a federal judge in Atlanta ruled that the daughter of the gay Georgia couple, born via surrogacy, is an American citizen since. The ruling is similar to a one in favor of a married gay couple in Maryland, whose daughter was born via surrogate in Canada. The State Department has appealed the ruling.

California goes for equality under the law

Just can’t keep California State Senator Scott Weiner down when it comes to equality under the law. His bill to make the punishment for certain sex crimes the same for LGBTQ and straight offenders was signed into law. Like most states, it is not legal in California for a person over the age of majority (usually 18) to have sex with a minor. The sexual act is still illegal, but most states give judges discretion if the age difference is within only a year, to keep the offender off of the life-altering Sexual Predator Registry. But the California law only gave leeway if the sex were penis to vagina. Same-sex intercourse wasn’t included. Insurance regulations also changed to allow insurance coverage for HIV-positive people similar to insurance for HIV-negative people.

COVID-19 tough on LGBT employment  

The Thomson Reuters Foundation released the results of a 12,000-person survey showing the economic fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic has affected LGBT Americans more than the general population. The survey shows gay and trans people 30 percent more likely to have lost their jobs since May 2020. Also, LGBT employees are 20 percent more likely to have had hours reduced than their straight colleagues. That figure rises to 44 percent among “gay and trans people of color” (no mention of lesbians or bisexuals in the news release). The survey was conducted in conjunction with the Human Rights Campaign.

Mayor Pete goes to White House

Former Mayor and currently gay man, Pete Buttigieg ended his history-making presidential campaign after coming in fourth in the South Carolina primary. The winner of that primary has named him to the Democratic White House transition team. No, he is not prematurely measuring the Oval Office for new drapes, announcing a team this early is a long-standing practice by presidential campaigns. Buttigieg will be part of a 15-person advisory board that includes former attorney general Sally Yates, former national security advisor Susan Rice and former U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy all of whom worked for President Obama.

Tik Tok, the game is locked

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute reported TikTok restricted the word “gay” in Russian and Arabic, “I am a lesbian” and “I am gay” in Russian, and “transgender” in Arabic. TikTok admitted it did, according to the BBC, “TikTok said that while some terms were restricted to comply with local laws, others were limited because they were primarily used to discover pornographic content.” The company said some English phrases and some compound phrases in Arabic had been moderated out (used to be called “censored’)  by mistake and that it had fixed the issue.

Nominations to “Toe the Mark”

If the Oscars ceremony is ever telecast again, there will be more behind an award then just a quality performance. New rules require producers who wish to even be considered to be nominated in the best picture category to tell more diverse stories and hire LGBTQ+ people, people of color, women, and people with “cognitive or physical disabilities.” Films seeking an award will be required to submit a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form. Films will have to meet two of four of the published standards to be considered.

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