“Nurse Pimento” brings pop culture peculiarities come out of the closet in a music and comedy confection featuring Carroll O’Connor, Groucho Marx, Perry Como, Laurel and Hardy, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, Tommy Smothers, Martin Mull, and Bing Crosby!
Cook Islands conservatives move to re-outlaw gay sex, a Cayman Islands appeals court overturns a marriage equality ruling, Panama’s president backs dumping reforms that deny marriage equality, two U.S. federal courts slam Trump’s “religious freedom” rules, two U.S. Supreme Court Justices meet with an anti-LGBTQ hate promoter, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of November 11, 2019
Stranger Than Straight!
Program #1,650 distributed 11/11/19
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Lawmakers in the Cook Islands move to
For US voter registration, go to vote.gov!
— but if you’re an eligible U.S. citizen, are you registered to vote in the November 2020 elections? (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by TANYA KANE-PARRY and SARAH SWEENEY, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: An offbeat DJ known as Dr. Demento became legendary in the U.S. for raising audio kitsch to an art form. Enter Nurse Pimento, the late gay
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending November 9, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and Sarah Sweeneyproduced by Brian DeShazor
Queer rights face big tests in two small island countries. In the South Pacific, conservative churches are blocking the decriminalization of same-gender sex in the Cook Islands. It’s been two years since a parliamentary draft Crimes Bill removed “indecent acts between men” and “sodomy.”
Draft Committee Chairman Tingika Elikana told reporters this week, “Maybe because those provisions are in there in the act, that’s why nobody is doing it.” He claims that “… having that in the law books is probably a deterrent to people to come out in the open and be open about it.”
The Cook Islands queer rights group Te Tiare Association has an online petition charging that lawmakers “cling to anti-gay laws enacted under colonial rule and the influence of conservative Christian missionaries. … Our LGBTI Rainbow communities continue to experience discrimination, stigma, homophobia, violence and suicide.”
About 17,500 people call the 15 Cook Islands home. It’s a self-governing country in a free association agreement with New Zealand. New Zealand takes the lead in defense and foreign policy in consultation with the Cook Islands.
The Crimes Bill is expected to come before the Cook Islands Parliament for its final reading in February next year.
Moving to the Western Caribbean Sea, the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal has overturned a marriage equality ruling issued earlier this year. The government challenged Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s ruling and won. But original plaintiffs Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush also won. The appeals court ordered the government to “expeditiously” provide the couple and other lesbian and gay partners with a legal status that is what the order calls “functionally equivalent to [heterosexual civil] marriage.”
The justices chastised lawmakers, writing that, “It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Legislative Assembly has been doing all it can to avoid facing up to its legal obligations.”
Premier Alden McLaughlin welcomed the appeals court decision. But the Premier failed to explain how his government plans to deal with same-gender unions, given the appeals court directive. About 64,000 people live in the 3-island semi-autonomous British Overseas Territory. The Caymans status as a Territory means that the issue may finally end up at the Judicial Committee of the U.K. Privy Council. A similar marriage equality case from Bermuda is already under consideration there. Queer couples are being allowed to marry in Bermuda while that case is pending, however.
Could there be marriage equality progress in Panama? President Laurentino Cortizo now says he will work to delete a ban on same-gender civil marriage from a package of constitutional reforms. The package has already cleared a first vote in the National Assembly. The marriage ban is not the only reform that has brought students, LGBTQ people and other mostly young progressives into the streets for days of protests.
Marriage equality cases are stalled in Panama’s Supreme Court of Justice – that’s despite the nation being bound by the 2017 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling to open civil marriage to same-gender couples.
Will Cortizo’s November 8th announcement of opposition to the marriage equality ban work? Activists told veteran gay journalist Rex Wockner that it’s not clear whether that will be enough to kill it when the National Assembly finalizes the constitutional changes. The reforms would then go to a voter referendum next year.
Two U.S. federal district court judges more than 3,000 miles apart ruled together against the latest assault on LGBTQ rights by the administration of President Donald Trump – after only about a week.
The new Department of Health and Human Services rules set to take effect on November 22nd allow healthcare professionals to refuse patients treatment if they have religious or moral objections. Federally funded adoption or fostering agencies could also reject applications from same-gender couples on the same grounds.
“Arbitrary and capricious” is how Judge Paul Engelmayer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York described the Trump administration’s so-called “Conscience Rule.” His November 6th ruling found that it conflicts with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans workplace discrimination based on sex. He also said it violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which requires providers to care for emergency room patients regardless of their ability to pay. Engelmayer’s ruling favors lawsuits filed by New York City, the state of New York, the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and other healthcare-related organizations.
Engelmayer’s ruling was followed up the next day by Judge Stanley Bastian of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. He also ruled from the bench that the new rules are unlawful. He granted summary judgment on November 7th in favor of Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Judge Bastian promised to issue his written ruling at a later date.
Several LGBTQ and other civil rights groups have filed a separate lawsuit against the new Trump rules — that’s in federal district court in California.
It’s not completely clear from these late-breaking reports how the two district court rulings issued affect other proposed Health and Human Services rules that allow Department-funded adoption and fostering agencies to reject prospective queer parents on the basis of religious belief or moral conviction.
Meanwhile, that sudden breeze you may have felt was the gust of eyebrows being raised when this word got out: two U.S. Supreme Court justices meeting with a vocal and aggressive opponent of queer rights. The high court has three LGBTQ-related queer right to work cases on its docket list this session.
Brian Brown heads both the National Organization for Marriage and the International Organization for the Family. He bragged on social media about his “great day” meeting with Associate Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh. High-level conservative Roman Catholic leaders also appeared with Brown and the Justices in a photo posted to Brown’s Twitter account.
The homophobia-spreading International Organization for the Family is a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The National Organization for Marriage is a notoriously anti-queer group that fought against U.S. marriage equality for decades. They fled that losing battlefield to carry their anti-queer campaign to other countries, mostly in Africa. Now the group has filed a brief in the cases pending before the Supreme Court: it argues that it should be perfectly legal under federal law to fire or refuse to hire otherwise qualified LGBTQ workers based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
What were all those smiling people in Brown’s group photo talking about? It’s not known. But the U.S. Code sections governing judges say that “[a]ny justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”
A growing number of LGBTQ advocacy groups and progressive legal organizations are calling on Alito and Kavanaugh to recuse themselves from the queer job rights cases. Neither Justice has responded to date.
Finally, Danica Roem is the first out transgender person to win re-election to a U.S. state legislature. The Democrat was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017. Four other Democratic LGBTQ candidates also won re-election in an off-year election “Blue Wave” that gave the Party control of both legislative chambers. Democrats already hold the top Executive Branch offices in Virginia, including governor.
Two other out trans candidates and three incumbents won their races across the country. According to the queer candidate-promoting Victory Fund, the November 5th results brought the total number of out trans elected officials nationwide to 23.
The City Council of Indianapolis, Indiana saw the re-election of one openly gay member, and the addition of two new gays and a lesbian to its ranks. Or, as the Victory Fund described it, “A rainbow wave came crashing into Mike Pence’s backyard [on election night].”
The queer advocacy group says that almost 100 openly-LGBTQ candidates on state and local ballots were elected.
If you’re interested in reviewing the lengthy but comprehensive list of winners, log onto victory-fund-dot-org.
But there’s a worrisome addendum to the good election news. According to a report this week by Market-watch-dot-com, one in five LGBTQ adults in the U.S. is not registered to vote ahead of what could be the “most important national election of our time” in 2020. The U.C.L.A.-based queer think tank The Williams Institute released a study saying that about half of LGBTQ-identified registered adults are Democrats, 15 percent are Republicans, and 22 percent identify as independents. However 21 percent of all U.S. LGBTQ adults are not registered to vote at all.
If you’re in that latter group, drop everything and go to vote-dot-gov and register… now!
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