National & World News Briefs

A blow against Pride celebrations

The recent U.S. federal budget agreement required a stricter interpretation of the law preventing the government from participating in “partisan” or ideological activities. Pride celebrations seem to fit that definition. The U.S. State Department canceled any official recognition of Pride celebrations worldwide, including posting the Pride flag on embassy flag poles around the world. Now, the National Park Service has decreed that Pride activities will not be welcome at NPS parks, properties, or buildings, and employees are not allowed to wear NPS uniforms in parades or marches. Hence the absence of Smokey the Bear at parades. Smokey, a bear, may appear, but he is on his own and cannot wear an official NPS jock strap or chaps. Federal employees may put Pride paraphernalia in personal workspaces. The Stonewall Inn, the holiest of holies, in New York City, is an NPS landmark. It is an exception to the “no Pride flag” rule. A transgender-inclusive “Philadelphia ” Rainbow flag was raised for Pride Month this year, and a display of Rainbow flags and the “Progressive Flag ” adorn Christopher Street Park.

A blow for Pride Celebrations

Rep. Matt Rosendale, a member of U. S. Congress from Montana, was subjected to a Pride Flag flying at Veterans Affairs facilities in his state. Rosendale is locked in a primary battle to face Montana Senator John Tester in the fall. He called on the VA to take the flag down. The VA responded, “VA facilities fly the Pride flag – which was created by an Army Veteran – as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of LGBTQ+ veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors,” said Terrence Hayes, VA press secretary. “It is our mission at VA to provide these Veterans — and all Veterans — with the world-class care and benefits they deserve in a safe, caring, and welcoming environment.”

Colorado GOP chair told to resign by other GOPers

Dave Williams, chair of the Colorado GOP, sent an email saying among other things, “The month of June has arrived and, once again, the godless groomers in our society want to attack what is decent, holy, and righteous so they can ultimately harm our children.” He found very little support for the email, even in his own party. The Jefferson County Republican chair called for the state chair to resign. He told a Denver news outlet, “Numerous Colorado Republican county chairs, other county party officers, members of the Colorado State Central Committee in all 64 counties, and many Republican candidates” intend to call for the resignation of the state chair.” He said rank-and-file and party leadership have “had enough and want positive leadership.” While denouncing the email, Williams was defended by the head of Colorado’s Log Cabin Republicans. Valdamar Archuleta said, “I do not think Dave hates me because I’m gay. I don’t think that Dave is a homophobic person. What he said in that email was, but he, as a person, I don’t believe it is. He’s trying to get a reaction.”

TV series, Sally Ride

A lesbian with the “highest profile” you may never have known as a lesbian, was astronaut Sally Ride. She was a member of NASA’s astronaut class of 1978, which was the first not to be entirely made up of white men. Ride first flew the Challenger Space Shuttle in 1983 and 1984, logging 343 hours in space. She was not the first woman in space, that was Russian, Valentina Tereshkova, who orbited the Earth in 1963. A limited series, streaming movie is being made about Ride by the producers of “American Crime Story” and other productions. The role of Ride is being played by Kristen Stewart. Ride left NASA in 1987 and eventually had a 27-year relationship with professional tennis player Tam O’Shaughnessy, a fact not generally known until Ride’s obituary in 2012.

Stewart disses corporate Pride

Jon Stewart came out of retirement to do one show a week on “The Daily Show.” His satirical eye has landed on corporate sponsorship of Pride celebrations. “Pride Month is, of course, that time of year when corporations get together and financially exploit the decades-long struggle of gay people for acceptance and equality,” Stewart said in an episode where he roasted cringe-worthy Pride campaigns of several corporations. He flamed “Burger King” for its spot extolling Pride by introducing a beef patty, pickles, and other gooey condiments mounted between either two top buns or two bottom buns. He took on Target’s hide-and-seek Pride merchandising; He found fault with “Skittles” doing something with the color of the candies. “Let’s stop pretending that a corporation can even be woke or un-woke or patriotic or unpatriotic.” He said, “Let’s just let corporations live their truth as the profit-seeking, Patrick Bateman psychopaths they are.”

Potty-mouthed pope

Pope Francis has been accused for the second time of using an unfamiliar word that some are taking as a homophobic slur. Speaking to reporters he used the word, “frociaggine.” It is the same construction he used when quoting bishops telling him there was too much “frociaggine” in the Vatican. The outrage industry claimed “frociaggine” loosely translates to “faggotness.” Italians on the street reacted with, “Huh?” They would have used the real Italian word, “Omosessuale” or the phrase, “queer è gay.” The Pope is the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and had he said, “marina or el maricon,” he would have been understood.

Florida Transgender ‘Jim Crow’ law thrown out

A federal judge has ruled a 2023 Florida law that blocked transgender medical therapies went too far and was unconstitutional. The law barred hormonal, pharmaceutical, and surgical procedures for minor children. It also significantly restricted some treatments for adults. The law regulated the treatment of minors even with parental approval. The adult regulations disallowed treatment by all medical practitioners except from an in-person visit to a board-certified medical doctor. The judge said transgender people are constitutionally entitled to legitimate medical treatment. The Florida law was compared to Jim Crow laws regulating Black people’s access to services. State officials have said they will appeal the ruling or rewrite the laws to meet constitutional standards. Until further court or legislative action, the law is not in force.

School protection rule on hold

Federal judges in Texas and Tennessee have blocked attempts by the U. S. Department of Education to expand Title IX protections to include transgender students. The Texas judge ruled that the administration had overstepped the Supreme Court’s “Bostock” ruling by extending employment discrimination prohibitions based on gender to students in educational facilities. The Texas ruling is in effect only in Texas. The Tennessee Federal judges ruled about the same way, but the ruling goes into effect for 20 Midwest and Southern States. Title IX, of the1972 Federal Education law,  bans sex discrimination in education. Both rulings are in the appeal process. 

The closet still kills, slowly

Col. Edward Thomas Ryan, a lifelong resident of Rensselaer, New York, was a brother, uncle, retired firefighter, and Army veteran. All his life, too, he was a closeted gay man. He revealed this fact in his obituary in the Albany Times Union, which he wrote himself. “I must tell you one more thing. I was Gay all my life: thru grade school, thru High School, thru College, thru Life.” He was preceded in death by another local man. “He was the love of my life. We had 25 great years together.” His long-time love died in 1994, and Ryan will be buried next to him. His obit concluded, “I’m sorry for not having the courage to come out as Gay. I was afraid of being ostracized: by Family, Friends, and Co-Workers. Seeing how people like me were treated, I just could not do it. Now that my secret is known, I’ll forever Rest in Peace.”

No transgender swimmer at 2024 Olympics

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland denied U.S. swimmer Lia Thomas’ request for arbitration to allow her to swim in the 2024 Olympics. Judges ruled she did not have standing to bring the case against the World Aquatics governing body. World Aquatics’ rules do not allow transgender women who have been through male puberty to compete in women’s races. It created an “open” category for which transgender athletes would be eligible. Thomas, who was a top women’s NCAA swimmer after not being competitive in the NCAA men’s category, claimed the WA rules announced in 2022, were invalid, unlawful, and discriminatory. Thomas was joined in her disappointment by transgender groups. “Athlete Ally” called this a “sad day for sports.” GLAAD stated, “Thomas deserves a chance to participate in her sport like all human beings who work hard and follow their dream.” Some other Olympic sports governing bodies, like football (soccer in the USA), do not have the same rules as WA and will allow transgender athletes to compete.

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