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Bad Betsy & Queer Housewarming!

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos flunks the trans teen protections test administered by Congressmember Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) … and Randy Rainbow!

U.S. Congressmember Adam Schiff (D-CA) and actor-activist Lily Tomlin are among the guests for the grand ribbon-cutting at L.A.’s new multi-million-dollar LGBTQ complex!

Trump’s military trans ban takes effect, Russian transwoman wins landmark job rights case, Cayman Islands government blocks lesbian wedding, Brunei boycott against the Sultan’s Sharia balloons, “Marlon Bundo’s” gay Pence bunny parody becomes public enemy #2, and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of April 15, 2019

Bad Betsy & Queer Housewarming!

Program #1,620 distributed 04/15/19

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Donald Trump’s ban on qualified

transgender people serving in the U.S. armed forces takes effect, even as the policy continues to be challenged in federal courts [with brief comments from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show by The Palm Center’s AARON BELKIN, who wrote a book about the rise and fall of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”]

a Russian court rules for the first time for a trans-woman who was fired after she announced her new female identity in the printing shop she’d worked at for more than 10 years

the Australian state of Tasmania passes sweeping legislation to extend rights and protections to transgender people

the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal stays the planned wedding of the lesbian couple who’d won a marriage equality ruling from the Grand Court’s Chief Justice while the government appeals that ruling

several additional companies, high profile people, and governments join the global condemnation/boycott of Brunei over its Sultan’s implementation of harsh Islamic laws that punish gay sex with death by stoning* 

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, TV political humorist John Oliver’s gay version of the

original book written by the family of homophobic U.S. Vice President Mike Pence about their real-life pet rabbit, is the second-most banned book on the American Library Association’s annual list behind George, a coming-of-age novel about a transgender girl (written by GREG GORDON, with LUCIA CHAPPELLE, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, and reported this week by WENZEL JONES and LAURA DICKINSON-TURNER).

(*Click here for a list of the being-boycotted Sultan of Brunei’s high-end hotel properties in Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Rome, and Milan.)

Feature: U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos came before Congress fresh

from being publicly shamed by President Donald

Trump over her Department’s plan to eliminate funding for the Special Olympics. Answering questions at an April 10th hearing of the U.S. House Education & Labor Committee, DeVos was pushed into another embarrassing admission by

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, who chairs the Civil Rights Subcommittee, when she asked the Education Secretary about her decision to roll back Obama-era discrimination protections for transgender students – and YouTube star Randy Rainbow has re-written a song to “roast” the tone-deaf DeVos.

Feature: A huge Hollywood, California block party thrown by the Los

Angeles LGBT Center celebrated the ribbon-cutting on April 7th at the world’s queerest intergenerational dream home come true, and

This Way Out’s BRIAN DESHAZOR was there to share a toast (featuring comments by Lori L. Jean, Anita May Rosenstein, Arianna “Ari” Desano, John Duran, John Heilman, Bishop Robert Mary Clement, David Parke Epstein, Lily Tomlin, and Adam Schiff, and with music by ALEXI MURDOCH and JOAN BAEZ).


A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending April 13, 2019
Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, reported this week by Wenzel Jones and Laura Dickinson-Turner

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted in July 2017 that transgender recruits should not be allowed to serve in the nation’s armed forces. Even as challenges to the ban continue to be argued in federal courts, Trump finally got what he wanted this week. The last of four injunctions preventing the implementation of the ban fell in mid-March, and the Pentagon then announced that the new policy would become effective on April 12th. While Defense Department officials steadfastly insist that it’s not a “ban”, a transgender person under the new policy can now only serve if they pretend they’re not. All enlistees must now serve in their birth gender, and can’t transition while serving.

Current transgender troops have in some cases been on active duty since the Obama administration lifted obstacles to their service in 2016. The Palm Center studies LGBTQ people in the U.S. military. Their research says that some 14,700 qualified and honorably serving transgender military personnel will be kicked out under the new policy unless they agree to serve as the gender they were assigned at birth. According to the Palm Center, less than a thousand who’ve already transitioned or are in the process will qualify to continue serving under what are called “grandfather exemptions” – which could be revoked at any time.

Palm Center director Aaron Belkin wrote the book on the rise and fall of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He compared that policy to the newly instituted trans ban on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show:

[Aaron Belkin:] “This is Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for transgender troops … and the Trump administration is claiming that this is just an innocuous policy that won’t harm the troops. But that’s what we were told at the beginning of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” and we saw how well that worked out. … This policy will fail in the same way that “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” failed, because the public won’t tolerate a policy that hurts the troops indefinitely. But we can’t predict now whether the collapse of the policy will be in court, or in Congress, where there is now bipartisan legislation to protect the troops, or perhaps if the White House changes hands. … But there’s just no way to predict right now how this ban will crumble.”

Virtually every U.S. medical and mental health association has rebutted Trump’s claims that healthcare costs for trans troops would be “tremendous.” And before the arrival of Donald Trump, the Pentagon’s own study had concluded that trans troops were not “disruptive” and were not causing a “morale” problem, as the President has claimed.

The transgender military memo was signed by Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist. It prohibits service members who exhibit gender dysphoria, the condition of experiencing a distressing clash between one’s experienced gender and the gender assigned at birth. As BuzzFeed’s Dominic Holden writes, “Gender dysphoria is, for many, the essence of being transgender.”

The U.S. military has been the country’s largest single employer of transgender people – until now, of course.

Qualified transgender people are welcomed to serve in the armed forces of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom – and under some circumstances in Cuba and Thailand.

A court in Russia has ruled that a printing company illegally fired a trans-woman in 2017 who had worked there for more than 10 years before she started to identify as a woman. The company told the Frunzenski District Court in St. Petersburg that Anna Grigoryeva was fired under a 19-year-old Russian government policy that bars women from working in more than 450 jobs deemed too “dangerous” or “arduous” for women. The United Nations said in a 2016 declaration that the policy violates women’s rights.

The district court ordered the printing company to give Grigoryeva her job back, to pay her the equivalent of about 150 U.S. dollars in damages, and about 25,000 dollars in back pay.

Her lawyer Maksim Olenichev of the queer rights group Coming Out announced that, “For the first time in Russia, a transgender person has managed to defend her labor rights in court.” He said the landmark ruling should inspire other trans-people to fight for their employment rights.

Ksenia Mikahilova, another lawyer for Coming Out, said the off-limits jobs are meant to insure women’s ability to conceive and give birth. She added that Grigoryeva’s court victory was not only a historic decision for trans people, but also for women who don’t want children.

The Australian state of Tasmania has become one of the most progressive places on earth for transgender people.

Its Parliament passed sweeping legislation to protect them on April 10th by a vote of 13-to-12, even though the governing Liberal Party opposed it as “legally untested” and “highly problematic.” Speaker Sue Hickey joined opposition Labor and Green MPs to pass it.

The legislation removes the requirement for surgery before a person aged 16 or older can change the gender designation on their birth certificate, and instead allows a simple declaration to make the change. The new laws also allow people to remove gender markers from birth certificates if they so choose, and allows parents the right to choose whether or not to include a gender marker on their child’s birth certificate.

The legislation bans hate speech and offensive language based on gender identity or expression, or based on intersex status. The new laws also end the requirement for married transgender partners to divorce before they can change the gender on their birth certificate.

Tasmanian Families for Transgender Kids spokesperson Candace Harrington said that, “Parents of transgender and gender diverse kids are just so happy that our kids will no longer face legal discrimination and will be able to live their lives true to themselves. We are over the moon about these landmark reforms.”

In other news, the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal shut down the planned wedding on April 10th of successful lesbian litigants Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush. The appeals court bowed to the government’s request, after it filed its challenge, to issue a stay to prevent Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s Grand Court marriage equality ruling from taking effect.

Two days before the stay was issued, hundreds of LGBTQ people and their supporters in the capitol, George Town, held a first-ever Cayman Islands “Out of Our Shells” Pride march. The peaceful and colorful procession ended at the steps of the Legislative Assembly, where lawmakers had applauded the announcement that the government would be appealing the marriage equality ruling. The event was organized by Colours Cayman, the Islands’ queer advocacy group. Their statement said that, “We are proud to acknowledge our existence and hold our heads high. No longer will we be made invisible.”

The Court of Appeal will hear the government’s challenge to the marriage equality ruling in August.

The boycott of Brunei has now been joined by the English National Ballet, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Tempus Magazine, Citigroup, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Jefferies, Nomura, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, and the Police Federation of England and Wales. They add to the growing list of companies, celebrities and governments that are shunning the tiny Muslim majority East Asian nation.

It’s all in response to the institution of severe Sharia – or Islamic law – by its ruling Sultan. Sharia punishes consensual adult same-gender sex, adultery by Muslims, and other so-called crimes with death … by stoning.

The family of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah owns several high-end hotel properties, including the Dorchester in London and the Beverly Hills Hotel in California – you can see the entire list at Australian media this week identified Brisbane’s Royal on the Park as another of the Sultan’s hotels. According to the travel industry publication TTR Weekly, subsidiaries of the Sultan’s companies own hotel properties in Bali and Singapore, as well.

TripAdvisor deleted reviews for the Sultan’s hotels on its platform following a spike in negative posts. Trivago, Expedia(U.S.), ExpediaUK, Orbitz and Travelocity have been condemned for continuing to take bookings for them.

The Sultan also has a financial stake in Royal Brunei Airlines.

Street demonstrations outside Brunei government offices have been held in London, Brisbane, and Bangkok, and more are expected.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was the latest this week to join the global chorus of condemnation, while U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been conspicuously … silent.

And finally, you may recall A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, an illustrated children’s book published last year by TV political humorist John Oliver. It parodied a children’s book by the family of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence about their real-life pet rabbit. Oliver’s Last Week Tonight staff writer Jill Twiss actually penned the book, in which Marlon meets and marries his male bunny boyfriend. A very Mike Pence-like “stink bug” is the villain of the story.

According to the latest list from the American Library Association – or ALA – A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo was last year’s second most challenged book. A majority of the top 10 books that were banned or moved to obscure library bookshelves had LGBTQ themes. The book most objected to was George, an award-winning coming-of-age story of a transgender girl by Alex Gino.

Two of the children’s books on the ALA’s most censored list were notoriously burned outside the local public library in Orange City, Iowa last year by a far-right Christian preacher to protest the area’s first LGBTQ Pride event. The library received more than 200 queer-themed books and monetary donations in response.

In this week’s media release about the most-banned books, the ALA made mention of that book burning with a quote by famed English poet and essayist John Milton: “He who destroys a good book, kills reason itself.”

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