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National & World News, Sept. 2022

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Climate for Respect for Marriage Act, polluted

Legislation to protect marriage equality at the federal level, the Respect for Marriage Act, passed the U.S. House of Representatives and was introduced in the U.S. Senate, where it was expected to pass easily. The revelation of secret negotiations on the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act has caused a pause in RMA’s progress. Sen. Susan Collins, a supporter of RMA, said secret negotiations leading to IRA’s passing, could spell doom for the Respect for Marriage Act. Collins said that a bipartisan spirit that led to gun safety legislation and microchip bills, “destroys the many bipartisan efforts that are underway.”

Reinterpretation of Title IX launches lawsuits

Proposed changes to the legal interpretation of Title IX of the U. S. Civil Rights Act were announced by the U. S. Department of Education. The interpretation changes the previous administration’s rules to more strongly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and change due process in sexual assault investigations at colleges and universities. One state, Florida, has instructed the state’s public and private schools to ignore the new rules. Other states are expected to follow Florida’s lead. The beef is that the DOE suggests federal funds for school lunch programs and other school programs be withheld if the states have any restrictions on gender identity expression or transgender participation in any school programs, like girls’ athletics. So far 20 states have joined a lawsuit to stop the defunding of school lunches. No one but the attorneys makes out in these situations.

Wisconsin school district denies flags and pronouns

A Wisconsin school district announced a policy that prohibits staff from, “Using their positions to promote partisan politics, religious views, and propaganda for personal, monetary or nonmonetary gain.” The effect of the policy is the prohibition of displaying gay pride flags (or any non-government issued flags) in classrooms or teachers putting their preferred pronouns in email signatures. Students, alumni, and others have protested the policy, but district officials said it was reaffirming a policy that was already in place.

Chuck Norris inspires Hungarian PM

The Conservative Political Action Conference heard Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán deliver an anti-LGBTQ+ and pro-Christian rights rant. He opined that Europeans are threatened with becoming, as if they weren’t already, “people of mixed race.” He was cheered for calling for bans on same-sex marriage, LGBTQ+ content that is accessible to minors, and legal recognition of transgender identity. “We decided we don’t need more genders [and need] fewer drag queens and more Chuck Norris,” he claimed.

Obergefell wants to go to Washington, again

Jim Obergefell, whose landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationally, is running for the Ohio Statehouse. He is a Democrat running on the “Rodney King Platform,” saying in his announcement, “It really just all comes down to: Can’t we all just get along and treat each other like human beings? Can’t we be decent people?” Obergefell was unopposed in the Ohio State primary and will vie for a seat in the eastern part of the state against a Republican incumbent.

Monkeypox advice

Advice from health authorities, including the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, to people at risk of catching monkeypox, is to consider reducing the number of sexual partners.  The U.N. health agency said to stay monogamous or socially distant “for the moment”. WHO said 98 percent of the monkeypox cases detected since the outbreaks emerged in May have been among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. The CDC issued 11 guidelines, which amount to “cool your jets.” Two notable guidelines advise masturbation from a distance of six feet. It also advises to, “Have virtual sex with no in-person contact.” CDC and others say anyone can get monkeypox from skin-to-skin contact or even from sharing household linens, it isn’t an STD. WHO also has decried any stigma-encouraged violence against monkeys.

Turing memorial

Alan Turing was a WWII British codebreaker who contributed to defeating NAZI Germany and was instrumental in the development of the modern computer. He was also gay when it was illegal in Great Britain. Turning, subject of the movie “Imitation Game,” committed suicide after being convicted of gay sex offenses that led to incarceration and chemical castration. He was pardoned posthumously in 2013. A 12-foot-tall statue has been commissioned to be placed in a courtyard of King’s College at Oxford University, which is causing controversy. First, the college will be charging people to look at the statue. Local officials want the statue on a public road. King’s College says on-campus placement will be disruptive and says a viewing fee will cut down on traffic. Second, it’s not a portrayal of the man, but a modernesque sculpture. Critics say the sculpture’s abstract design, though not a breaching whale in a traffic circle, would be jarring amongst King’s College’s gothic architecture.

Another bad card for Kevin Spacey

Unable to be dealt a better hand, Kevin Spacey has lost a bid to overturn a court decision that ordered him to pay nearly $31 million to the studio behind the Netflix series, “House of Cards.” The production company is recouping lost revenue after Spacey’s boorish manners caused the series to collapse like a … house of cards. The first card to be pulled from Spacey’s career was actor Anthony Rapp’s 2017 “Me-Too” accusation that Spacey made a sexual advance toward him in 1986. Spacey has since been accused by various other grips, bartenders, and journalists of unwanted sexual advances. Some charges and suits have been dropped, others settled, some forgotten. Still, Spacey’s career is a dead man’s hand.

Log Cabin Repubs go low

A question not asked by anyone but us is, “Do Log Cabin Republicans want to be so laughable as to be irrelevant”?  In a Twitter submission, NLCR compared the recent FBI search of Mar-a-Lago to the 1969 police raid at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City, a place now protected by the Federal Government antiquity act. In a troll tweet, NLCR said, “Just as the patrons of Stonewall were not intimidated by police, we will not be intimidated by the weaponization of the FBI and DoJ.” The NCLR pledged to continue plans to hold its annual gala at Mar-A-Largo. This ill-advised hot-take came after the FBI executed a search warrant at the Mar-A-Lago, Florida hide-out of the previous president. The search has been decried by conservatives and flinched at by liberals.

RIP Elana Dykewomon

Acclaimed lesbian author and activist Elana Dykewomon died of cancer at age 72. Dykewomon wrote about lesbian life in “Riverfinger Women,” a coming-of-age story published in 1974. “Beyond the Pale,” about Jewish lesbian immigrants involved in movements for social change in early-20th-century New York City was published in 1997. “Riverfinger Women” is on The New York Times’ list of 100 Greatest Gay Novels and “Beyond the Pale” won the 1998 Lambda Literary Award for lesbian fiction. Dykewomon also wrote poetry and essays, including a collection, “Dispatches From Lesbian America,” published in 2017. She was born Elana Nachman but changed her name to not be defined by men. “I chose ‘dyke’ for the power, and ‘womon’ for the alliance.” Her play, “How to Let Your Lover Die,” about the death of her longtime partner is scheduled for this year’s Bay Area Playwrights Festival in California.

Love and Marriage (well living together) in the U.S.

The U. S. Census Bureau does an extrapolation of the census data. The current American Community Survey shows almost 63 million marriages in the U.S. and 17 million unmarried couples living in the same household. The survey says there are about one million same-sex couples living in married or unmarried status, with 600,000 or so same-sex marriages and 400,000 unmarried household couplings. A majority of “same-sex coupled” U.S. residents in the survey identify as females.

‘Fear’ marketing now a Texas thing

In an inventory-tight “buyers” real estate market, it may not be craven to use fear as a marketing tool to acquire listings and referrals. A Dallas realtor, though, has set up a website titled “Flee Texas” to appeal to LGBT people who are fearful of living in Texas. The site offers to help LGBTQ+ homeowners leave the Lone Star state, saying, “As LGBTQIA+ citizens of Texas, many of us feel at risk. If you feel the need to leave the jurisdiction of Texas, let us help you sell your property here and connect you with an LGBTQIA or ally agent in a better location of your choice.” Says the apparently fearful agent, “A lot of people don’t remember what it’s like to be an illegal person. I’ve been in Texas since 1987 and I have seen this state transform into a juggernaut of right-wing conservatism.”

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