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Philly stake on gay adoption

The U.S. Supreme Court heard a one-hour oral argument via teleconference over a dispute about Philadelphia’s refusal to place children in foster care with an agency that prohibits same-sex couples from applying as foster parents. This is the first major case heard by incoming Justice Amy Coney Barrett. It is an appeal by Catholic Social Services about a ruling by Philadelphia’s insistence that all of its contractors adhere to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance which contains LGBT inclusive language. CCS claims the agency should be able not to work with same-sex couples on foster and adoption issues based on religious grounds.

SD gets gay mayor

This week, a candidate who said, “Being gay is a superpower,” became the first LGBT person elected mayor of San Diego. Todd Gloria is a member of the California State Assembly and served as interim mayor in 2013-14. He won a large plurality in a crowded field of eight other candidates with 41 percent of the vote. The next highest vote-getter received 23 percent. Todd is a long-time San Diego resident with Filipino heritage.

Texas social workers

The Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners repealed a recent policy that allowed Texas social workers to refuse to work with LGBTQ people and people with disabilities. The policy allowing discrimination was pushed by the Texas governor and attorney general to bring the industry into alignment with the state’s religious liberty laws. The new regulation, in effect for just 90 days, received significant pushback from the social work community, industry groups, and the Texas legislature. The TSBWE – which oversees several mental health licensing organizations in the state – voted unanimously to restore the protections.

Pride In Taiwan

About 130,000 people came together in Taiwan to celebrate Pride with traditional parades and festivals. It was possible for mass gatherings as the country has been one of the most successful at eradicating the COVID-19 pandemic, going over 200 days without any new cases. Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-Wen used social media to urge the entire nation to embrace “love, tolerance, and a better Taiwan.”

The country is one of few in Asia with an open LGBT community. It legalized marriage equality in 2019, and the 2020 Pride celebration was held the day after the Taiwan military sanctioned the first-ever same-sex marriage, officiated in a mass outdoor wedding of 200 couples.

Cleve Jones: There goes the Gayborhood

Gay rights pioneer and advocate Cleve Jones has turned his attention to the changing nature of LGBT life. In an interview with The Advocate, he notes the irony of his efforts may have led to a change in the community — like the “end of gay bars” — as one result of mainstreaming LGBT people. He is concerned about the loss of the LGBT neighborhoods to the forces of gentrification. Jones worries specifically about the people who are in his cohort “aging gay men and LGBT seniors” who are moving to the suburbs and more rural areas because they have become more welcoming or have been forced to for economic reasons.

He said, “Cities were once a refuge for immigrants, bohemians, and gay people where affordable, sometimes sub-standard housing was plentiful.” Where does that just-out teen go to escape small-town/home-town discrimination when rents are $3000 a month in the Castro, he asks.

Falwell scandal gets creepier

If you thought the Jerry Falwell, Jr. sex scandal couldn’t be creepier, think again. According to a former Liberty University student, Falwell and his wife allegedly had a game they played where they would rank students based on how much they wanted to have sex with them. The former student is a friend of Falwell’s son and claims to be one of Mrs. Falwell’s paramours. She told him about how she and her husband loved to stroll around campus and point out all the young men they’d like to “bone together.” The Falwells have said the reports are “100 percent false.”

Ying and yang in movies

One doesn’t mind “straight-washing” the other eschews “gay-washing” — That’s Entertainment! Aragon in Lord of the Rings actor Viggo Mortensen is playing a gay man in a production he wrote, produced, directed, and stars in called Falling. Out gay actor and writer, Wentworth Miller, who has played it straight in Fox Network’s Prison Break and in superhero-TV on The Flash, Batwoman, and DC Legends, announced he is leaving the Fox drama series and wants to focus on playing gay characters.

Mortensen’s part was originally written as a straight man, but during production found changing the character to having a same-sex marriage made dramatic sense in a movie about changing minds about tolerance and aging. Quipped Miller, “I just don’t want to play straight characters. If you’re hot and bothered [because] you fell in love with a fictional straight man played by a real gay one, that’s your work.” Falling tells the story of the Mortensen character’s racist and homophobic father showing early signs of dementia who moves in with his son.

“Secretary” Pete

That political heartthrob Mayor Pete Buttigieg had a high profile but unsuccessful run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and was a well-liked surrogate for the sequestered Democratic candidate on interview shows. He is now being considered for a cabinet-level post in the next presidential administration. Media is touting him for ambassador to the United Nations — a job the former mayor has reportedly told friends he’d like. He is also mentioned for Housing and Urban Development, the head of Veterans Affairs, or the Office of Management and Budget.

McCaskill errs

Former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill apologized for seemingly blaming “gay marriage” and “right[s] for transsexuals” for suppressing the pollster-promised “blue wave” of Democratic wins, other than the successful Democratic presidential candidate.

In a Twitter apology she apologized for her MSNBC election night commentary, “The Republican Party, I think, very adroitly adopted cultural issues as part of their main theme, whether you’re talking guns or issues surrounding the right to abortion in this country or things like gay marriage and the right for transsexuals and other people who we as a party has tried to quote-unquote look after and make sure that they’re treated fairly.” Within hours of the appearance, McCaskill apologized on Twitter for using a “hurtful term,” saying she was “tired.”

UK sees an HIV diagnosis drop

Public Health England reported the total number of people newly diagnosed with HIV decreased by more than 440 in 2019 to 4,139. This was a significant decrease from 6,312 in 2014. The decline in new HIV diagnoses is largely driven by a fall in diagnoses among gay and bisexual men, from 3,214 in 2014 and 2,079 in 2018 to 1,700 in 2019. New HIV diagnoses among people who acquired HIV through heterosexual contact also declined to 1,559 in 2019 from 1,664 in 2018.

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