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Past Imperfect!

Melissa Etheridge, Amy Ray, Elton John, Cyndi Lauper and Janis Ian sing songs to remember Matthew Shepard!

The young adult novel “Pulp” by Robin Talley resonates across the generations with a story that calls up classic lesbian literature!

As Vladimir Putin loses a present-day battle in his war on LGBTQ rights, we hear echoes from an October, 2015 U.N. General Assembly, with the Russian president and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe!

The Pope drops a civil unions surprise, diversity wins in New Zealand elections, an acting mayor makes twin firsts in Anchorage, the U.K. will query queers in the next census, support for marriage equality hits an all-time high in the U.S., and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of October 26, 2020

Past Imperfect!

Program #1,700 distributed 10/26/20

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Pope Francis rocks Roman Catholicism expressing support for queer couple civil unions … New Zealand voters elect the world’s most diverse parliament … ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Australia’s only openly-queer government leader, celebrates his re-election win with a kiss … lawmaker Austin Quinn-Davidson becomes the first woman and first out mayor of Anchorage, Alaska … the next U.K. census will count LGBTQ people … support for marriage equality reaches an all-time high in the U.S. (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by WENZEL JONES and JOHN DYER V, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).

Feature: “This Week In Trump” (with a cameo by Joe Biden, and music by JACKSON BROWNE).

Feature:  From the This Way Out Archives: Five years ago this month: the presidents of two countries doubled down on their homophobia and denials: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s remarks on the subject at the United Nations General Assembly meeting were not surprising – though he apparently failed to notice the chuckles from the audience. Russian President Vladimir Putin also attended the General Assembly meeting, and discussed his country’s supposedly unbiased treatment of LGBT people with reporter CHARLIE ROSE in a web-posted outtake from that week’s CBS-TV News program 60 Minutes (GREG GORDON reports, with intro/outro music by CHUMBAWAMBA).

Feature: The old find wisdom among the young, and This Way Out’s JANET MASON finds resonance in Pulp, Robin Talley’s novel about contemporary queer life and classic lesbian literature (with intro music by HOLLY NEAR and outro music by TERESA TRULL).

Feature: This expanded Rainbow Minute has 5 examples of A Song For Matthew (with intro music by MELISSA ETHERIDGE, and snippets from songs by AMY RAY, ELTON JOHN, CYNDI LAUPER and JANIS IAN; read by MARK GOLDEN, produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS).


A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending October 24, 2020
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Wenzel Jones and John Dyer V,produced by Brian DeShazor

Pope Francis rattled the Roman Catholic Church this week by voicing his support for same-gender civil unions.  His comments are included in the feature-length documentary Francesco, which debuted on October 21st at the Rome Film Festival.

The Pope said that, “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family.  They are children of God. … Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”  He said civil unions would allow same-gender couples to be “legally covered.”  Before he became Pope in 2013, Francis endorsed civil unions as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.  Early in his papacy he famously said about LGBTQ people, “Who am I to judge?”  That was a big shift from his predecessor, who called same-gender love an “intrinsic moral evil.”

But while Francis has clearly broken with those attitudes, Roman Catholicism still teaches that homosexual acts are “disordered.”  Some observers point out that the Pope’s public comments have no real impact on those teachings. One called such statements, “of less official consequence than a Trump tweet.”  Actually changing Roman Catholic doctrine around “natural law” would probably be a decades-long bureaucratic process.

Nevertheless, Reverend James Martin spoke for activists around the world who have been pushing for a more queer-welcoming Roman Catholic Church.  He told the Washington Post that, “it’s a big step forward … [and] sends a strong signal to countries where the Church has opposed [civil union] laws.”

That signal has been heard. The day after the papal bombshell broke, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro asked his very Roman Catholic country’s National Assembly to discuss marriage equality legislation when it reconvenes in January.

In heavily Roman Catholic Poland, queer activist Bartosz Staszewski assured Reuters, “[W]e will definitely use [the Pope’s words] in our fight for civil unions and same-sex marriage.”  However, a spokesman for Poland’s Conference of Bishops affirmed that the Pope’s comments do not change Church doctrine, and mused, “We are not able to decipher the context of these words.”

Pope Francis’ sentiments about queer families are strikingly similar to those expressed by a prominent Israeli Orthodox rabbi last week.

New Zealand will boast the queerest and most diverse group of legislators on earth, if preliminary results from last week’s national elections hold.  Along with the landslide reelection of queer-supportive Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, there will likely be up to 12 openly LGBTQ lawmakers seated with her Labour majority and the Green Party when Parliament reconvenes.  Ardern has earned widespread praise for the way her government responded to the COVID-19 crisis.  New Zealand has dwarfed the coronavirus death toll of most other countries with just 25 fatalities, so her reelection was not unexpected.  Ardern’s Labour Party has apparently won a 64-seat majority in the 120-seat Parliament. It will probably have the support of the Greens to advance progressive legislation, including a proposed nationwide ban on “conversion therapy.”

Notable winners for seats in Parliament include openly gay migrant Ricardo Menéndez March, who will become the country’s first M.P. of Latin American origin. Ibrahim Omer will be the first M.P. of African origin, and Vanushi Walters will be the first-ever Sri Lankan-born legislator.  Women are projected to make up half of the Labour caucus.

Openly gay Finance Minister Grant Robertson is expected to become the next Deputy Prime Minister.  He posted a photo on social media celebrating the incoming Parliament’s colorful diversity.

The official election results will be released on November 6th.

Canberra citizens woke up to front-page photos of newly reelected Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister Andrew Barr kissing his husband at a victory party.  Barr is the country’s only openly queer head of state or territory.  He and Anthony Toms have been a couple for more than two decades, although they only officially tied the knot last year.

Barr’s Labour Party will remain in the majority forming a government with the Greens when Barr begins his sixth consecutive term as Chief Minister.  During his acceptance speech, he said his top priorities would be jobs, healthcare, and leading the nation in climate change action.

Meanwhile, the city of Anchorage, Alaska has its first woman and first queer mayor.  Austin Quinn-Davidson was named Acting Mayor by the Anchorage Assembly following the resignation of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. Berkowitz had been under fire for his poor handling of the COVID-19 crisis and the city’s crumbling economy as a result of it. He ultimately stepped down after admitting to an extramarital relationship with a female journalist.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, Quinn-Davidson is a 40-year-old attorney who was first elected to the Anchorage Assembly in 2018.  She was reelected earlier this year.

Under the city charter, openly gay Assembly President Felix Rivera was the next in line, but he supported Quinn-Davidson instead. Rivera called Quinn-Davidson “a compassionate and dedicated public servant.”

The new Acting Mayor told the Daily News that her most important role now would be, “to inspire trust in government, and to make people feel at ease during a time that is pretty tumultuous.”

Municipal lawyers say that the City Charter is not clear about how long Quinn-Davidson will hold the Acting Mayor title, or when the next mayoral election might be held.  A special election would take already sparse city funds.  The next scheduled elections are in April 2021.

The U.K. census will ask questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time next year.  The Office for National Statistics noted that those questions would be voluntary and for respondents at least 16 years of age.  For example, one question will ask “Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?”  Those saying “no” will be asked to specify their gender identity.

The agency’s Deputy National Statistician Iain Bell told The Observer, “Without robust data on the size of the LGBT population at a national and local level, decision-makers are … unaware of the extent and nature of disadvantage which LGBT people may be experiencing in terms of health, educational outcomes, employment, and housing.”

The U.K.’s leading queer advocacy group Stonewall cheered the announcement.  C.E.O. Nancy Kelley called it “a vital step towards building a society where LGBT people are truly accepted, everywhere and by everyone.”

The next Office for National Statistics census is scheduled to begin on March 21st, 2021 across England and Wales.  National Records of Scotland will conduct a separate poll in March of 2022.

Finally, more U.S. residents than ever support marriage equality.  According to the highly respected American Values Survey, 7 in 10 respondents favored the right of same-gender couples to legally marry.  Only 28 percent were opposed.  Even half of those who identify as Republican supported marriage equality. This is the 11th annual values survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in association with the Brookings Institution.

There was majority support among members of every major religious denomination, including Roman Catholic Hispanics and Black Protestants. However white evangelicals were the exception, with almost 2 in 3 still opposing equality.  Fully ninety-per cent of the respondents without specific religious affiliation expressed support for marriage equality.

The Survey was conducted from September 9th to 22nd, and has a margin of error of 2.6 percent.

The progress LGBTQ people have made on the issue has been relatively speedy. NBC News pointed to a University of Chicago poll in 1968.  It found more than 2 in 3 respondents at that time were against marriage equality … with barely 1 in 10 in favor.

© 2020 Overnight Productions (Inc.)

© 2020 Overnight Productions (Inc.)

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