Deep in the heart of Texas, loving parents face traumatizing politically-motivated “child abuse” investigations into the treatment of their transgender children with gender-affirming healthcare. Activists, constitutional law experts and doctors dissect the issues, and some of the victims of the frightening official overreach that’s spreading to other Republican-controlled U.S. states tell their stories.
And in NewsWrap: U.K. Privy Council upholds marriage equality bans in Bermuda and the Caymans, Kosovo’s Parliament uncivil on partnership proposal, Guatemala’s Congress kills illiberal anti-LGBTQ/anti-abortion bill, Russia’s detention of WNBA’s Griner goes into overtime, “Don’t Say Gay” loses in major U.S. opinion poll, Disney workers protest Mouse’s bond with Republican rats, New York students do say “gay” in national solidarity, and more international LGBTQ news in the March 21, 2022 edition!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of March 21, 2022
Trans Turmoil in Texas!
Program #1,773 distributed 03/21/22
Hosted this week By Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The U.K. Privy Council, which has the final legal word on British territorial issues, upholds the rights of the governments of the Cayman Islands and Bermuda to deny civil marriage to same-gender couples [with brief comments by Bermuda Home Minister Walter Roban] … Kosovo’s Parliament rejects a “civil partnerships” proposal by Prime Minister Albin Kurti … Guatemalan lawmakers nix a horrific but previously-popular bill to constitutionally ban marriage equality and triple penalties for abortion after a threatened veto by President Alejandro Giammattei … lesbian WNBA star Brittney Griner will reportedly remain in a Russian jail on “drug charges” until at least mid-May … six in ten respondents to a U.S. national poll oppose Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation … Disney workers walk out to protest their CEO’s cozily-sluggish response to Florida’s infamous queer-silencing bill … hundreds of New York City-area students rally for their Florida peers chanting “We Say Gay” [with brief comments by the sponsoring LGBT Network’s CEO David Kilmnic] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by WENDY NATIVIDAD and WENZEL JONES, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a non-binding legal opinion redefining “child abuse” under state law. In Paxton’s view, the parents of transgender children are “child abusers” if they support professional medical care for their transgender offspring — including reversible puberty blockers and hormone therapy. Even healthcare practitioners who provide those services could face prosecution. Republican Governor Greg Abbott picked up Paxton’s ball and is running for re-election with it. On his orders, several families are already under investigation by Child Protective Services (this comprehensive review features comments by the Texas Freedom Network’s Val Benavides, the Transgender Education Network of Texas’ Emmett Schelling, Southern Methodist University Constitutional Law Professor Dale Carpenter, Medical Director of the Child and Adolescent Gender Center at the University of California San Francisco Dr. Stephen Rosenthal, ACLU of Texas Policy & Advocacy Strategist Adri Perez, Texas Values’ Mary Castle, Prairie View A&M Constitutional Law Professor Dr. Eddy Carder, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, Equality Texas’ Ricardo Martinez, trans girl Sunny Bryant and her mother Rebekah Bryant, parents of a trans son Adam and Amber Biggle, Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Currey Cook, Texas state Senator Charles Perry (R), pediatrician and endocrinologist Dr. Jane Wray, trans kid Kai Shappley and her mother Kim Shappley, Trans Family Support Services Executive Director Kathie Moehling, and outro music by THE FIFTH DIMENSION).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending March 19, 2022
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Wendy Natividad and Wenzel Jones,
produced by Brian DeShazor
In a double setback for queer rights this week, the U.K. Privy Council upheld the right of both Bermuda and the Cayman Islands to deny civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples. The Privy Council is the final court of appeal for British overseas territories.
Caymans lesbian couple Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush famously sued for marriage equality. They won their case in March of 2019, but eight months later an appeals court sided with the government and overturned equality. Even though the ruling called for queer couples to have a “legal status equivalent to marriage,” Day and Bodden Bush decided to take their case to the Privy Council.
The five-judge panel decided unanimously on March 14th that the Caymans’ Bill of Rights gives the constitutional right to marry only to heterosexual couples. They said that only the Legislative Assembly could change the law.
Day and Bodden Bush are considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, according to the Cayman Compass.
It gets more complicated in Bermuda. The Privy Council voted 4-to-1 that the British island territory’s law denying civil marriage to lesbian and gay couples is constitutional.
A Bermuda judge opened civil marriage to same-gender couples in 2017. It was later banned and then legalized again a year later. Bermuda’s Domestic Partnership Act offered same-gender couples a substitute while specifically denying them civil marriage. The government challenged an appeals court ruling that the Act was unconstitutional. The Privy Court disagreed, and also passed the buck to Bermuda’s legislature to change the laws.
Home Minister Walter Roban insists that the Domestic Partnership Act is enough. He was asked at a press conference whether the Privy Council decision ended the matter in the government’s view.
[sound] ROBAN: It is the last court of resort in our system of government. And we respect the decision that the court has made.
As to whether the government might consider amending the Domestic Partnership Act …
[sound] ROBAN: At this point, not until we have a chance to talk to our legal advisors … chambers, the lawyers, and other advisers on these matters. Will the government make any decisions as to what it will do next? At this point, we respect the ruling of the court.
A spokesman for the LGBTQ activist group OUTBermuda told The Royal Gazette, “The judgment reverses previous decisions reached by Bermudian courts that declared same-sex couples may constitutionally marry in Bermuda, as they have now done since 2017. … It is not clear yet how the Government will manage the many marriages that have [already] taken place.”
Marriage equality was never in the cards in Kosovo. Parliament rejected the government’s civil partnerships proposal on March 16th. Progressive Prime Minister Albin Kurti urged lawmakers to enact the measure, but only 28 of 120 MPs voted in favor. It would have been the first legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples in a Muslim-majority country.
The partnerships bill was part of a number of reforms to Kosovo’s civil code -- all part of the Balkan nation’s effort to join the European Union.
Speaking to Parliament before the vote, Kurti told MP’s, “rights … belong to everyone.” Many opponents, however, cited their religious beliefs and “family values.”
Balkan Insight reports that angry protesters hit the streets of the Kosovar capital Pristina chanting, “Homophobes, you have no place in Parliament” and “Love is resistance: we also are part of the family.”
In a win for equality advocates this week, Guatemala’s Congress killed a bill to put a marriage equality ban into the nation’s constitution. Lawmakers bowed to a promised veto by President Alejandro Giammattei. The bill would have also instituted a “Don’t Say Gay” policy banning classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity, and tripled the prison time for women convicted of seeking or having an abortion.
Current law in the Central American country already outlaws abortion except when the woman’s life is in danger. Civil marriage is restricted to heterosexual couples.
The “Life and Family Protection Act” originally had overwhelming congressional support, but that changed after the threatened veto. 119 lawmakers voted in favor of dumping the oppressive measure, and just 19 supported its passage.
Giammattei warned that the measure would have violated Guatemala’s constitution and a number of its international agreements.
U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner will remain in detention until at least May 19th – this according to Russia’s state news agency TASS. Griner was arrested in mid-February at a Moscow-area airport for allegedly carrying cannabis oil vape cartridges in her luggage. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.
Like a number of WNBA stars, the two-time Olympic gold medal-winner normally spends the U.S. off-season playing in Russia. She was taken into custody on her return from New York after the Russian league’s break for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.
Russia’s legal system is far from transparent, so it has been difficult to get accurate information about Griner’s situation. She is believed to be in a cell with two other women accused of drug offenses. Reportedly the only major problem she’s encountered has been her prison bed, too short for her 6-foot-9-inch frame.
Those close to Griner and her wife Cherelle say they are working privately to secure Brittney’s release. It’s feared that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could make Griner a “bargaining chip” in already-strained U.S.-Russian relations.
More than six in ten people in the United States oppose Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The random national sample in the ABC News/Ipsos poll of 622 adults was conducted in mid-March among both English and Spanish-speaking adults. Sixty-two percent said they were against muzzling discussion of LGBTQ issues in school classrooms, while 37% supported the ban. The survey was careful to identity LGBTQ respondents, who were overwhelmingly opposed to the bill – big surprise there! It was also opposed by 59% of those who did not identify as LGBTQ.
Both houses of Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature approved the bill along party lines. It awaits the almost certain signature of Republican governor and aspiring presidential nominee Ron DeSantis.
Florida’s Republicans have inspired fellow lawmakers to introduce similar measures in Georgia, Indiana, and Oklahoma, and to revive an almost-a-decade-dead “Don't Say Gay” bill in Tennessee.
Employees of the Walt Disney Company have been particularly animated this week. They’ve been walking off the job during 15-minute breaks to protest CEO Bob Chapek’s response to Florida’s “Don't Say Gay” bill. A “full-scale walk-out” is set for March 22nd.
Chapek’s mishandling and delay is decried on a website created by organizers of the Disney Do Better group.
Their statement of demands says, “By supporting the politicians who brought this legislation and not taking a public stand against it, Chapek and [company] leadership have made it clear they are more than willing to sacrifice their employee’s health and wellness in service of the bottom line. … We will not stand for this anymore.” According to the group, employees taking part in the protest action in California, Florida, and elsewhere include not only corporate office workers, but supporters who work at Lucasfilm, Pixar, Bento Box, and Disney Television Animation, among others.
Finally, “Don’t Say Gay” has students and allies donning their walking shoes well beyond the reaches of Florida.
More than 600 students from across New York City and Long Island gathered at Citi Field on March 16th for a “We Say Gay” rally. It was part of the 26th Annual Youth Rally and Conference of the LGBT Network, a consortium of queer non-profits that cross generations.
Its CEO David Kilmnic told WABC-TV,
[sound] KILMNIC: It's really important that our kids come together so that we show solidarity and support for LGBTQ youth all over the country, but that they leave the conference today with the skills that they need and the knowledge that they need to be able to go out there and advocate and change the world.
[sound] kids chanting "We Say Gay,” fades out quickly
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