US Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson withstands her confirmation hearings despite the anti-marriage equality and transphobic “questioning” from Republican senators.
The penchant of some LGBTQ gatekeepers to shun those they judge to be “not queer enough” creates new barriers for young people just coming out or questioning their identities is critiqued by OutCasting Overtime.
And in NewsWrap: Singapore conducts public opinion survey on sodomy law repeal, Italian court approves country’s first non-binary identification, Texas appeals court blocks “child abuse” investigations into parents of trans children, Lone Star Attorney General calls Austin schools’ Pride Week plans "immoral and illegal,” protests proliferate over Florida’s dangling “Don’t Say Gay” bill until it’s signed by Gov. DeSantis, trans athlete ban vetoes face overrides in Indiana and Utah, Kentucky clerk guilty of violating constitutional rights of marriage license-seeking gay couples, and more international LGBTQ news.
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of March 28, 2022
Judge Jackson Replies & Queer Youth at the Gates!
Program #1,774 distributed 03/28/22
Hosted this week By Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): After Singapore’s courts repeatedly reject challenges to the colonial-era statute criminalizing same-gender sex because, judges believed, the city-state’s conservative society would not support repeal, the government gets an “overwhelming” response after it finally decides to actually survey its citizens about LGBTQ issues … the Court of Rome approves the first legal change of gender to non-binary in Italy … a Texas appeals court upholds a lower court’s temporary restraining order to stop Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s “investigations” of the loving parents of transgender children for “child abuse” … Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who authored the legal opinion sparking the home invasions, accuses the Austin School District of “immoral and illegal” support for an LGBTQ Pride Week … queer and ally workers at the Walt Disney Companies — ranging from its animation studios to Lucasfilm, Pixar and ESPN — make national news when they walk off the job to protest CEO Bob Chapek’s lame response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the company’s extensive political contributions to anti-queer politicians, including rabid rightwing Governor Ron DeSantis … Variety reports that a lesbian kiss has been restored in Pixar’s Lightyear, the latest movie in the Toy Story franchise that’s due out in June … Seattle Pride tells another huge conglomerate, Amazon, that it can’t both support LGBTQ people and fund anti-queer legislation when it rejects the online giant’s $100,000 Parade sponsorship offer … the Republican governors of Indiana and Utah each veto bills to ban transgender athletes from competing in school sports, but Utah lawmakers have already overridden Utah’s veto, and Indiana’s legislature could do the same … a new study suggests that tens of thousands of transgender kids in the U.S. are at risk of losing vital gender-affirming healthcare as Republican-dominated states push laws to deny them that care … and a judge rules that infamous marriage license-denying Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis is potentially liable for the payment of compensatory and punitive damages to two queer couples to whom she denied licenses (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL LEBEAU and MELANIE KELLER, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR) + “This Just In:” DeSantis signs Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law.
Feature: In what’s sometimes the “home of the absurd,” U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson patiently explained rights and wrongs this week, as she was grilled by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearings. Senator John Cornyn of Texas targeted the Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling, while Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn veered away from judicial matters altogether in her transphobic rant, trying to use Judge Jackson’s position on the Board of a local private school against her (with brief intro music by WHITNEY HOUSTON).
Feature: Do younger queers have it easier? The OutCasing Overtime crew finds that the old closet doors can be replaced by new gatekeepers (“OutCaster” CAROL, produced by MARC SOPHOS.
Feature: Promo for next week’s Oscar’s Queerest Moments (featuring WANDA SYKES).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending March 26, 2022
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Michael LeBeau and Melanie Keller,
produced by Brian DeShazor
The government of Singapore is making an effort to find out what its citizens actually think about repealing its law against same-gender sex. Its courts have consistently rejected efforts to repeal the colonial-era Penal Code Section 377A, claiming that the city-state’s conservative society is not ready for it.
Following the most recent Court of Appeal dismissal of a challenge to Section 377A, the Ministry of Communications and Information’s REACH unit conducted a public opinion survey about the LGBTQ+ community.
The 16-question online survey asked respondents if they support the rights of LGBTQ people, including a specific question about repealing the law against queer sex. The poll was only publicized on LGBT websites -- not on the Ministry’s website or in social media -- according to Coconuts Singapore. Nevertheless, REACH closed the survey on March 23rd after being “overwhelmed” by responses from more than 30,000 people.
If the results strongly support LGBTQ rights, will lawmakers finally be forced to repeal 377A? Watch this space.
An Italian named “Alex” has won legal recognition of their non-binary gender identity in a ruling of the Court of Rome. “Alex’s” lawyer Giovanni Guercio called it a “pilot case” that could open the door to other non-binary Italians seeking similar legal gender change without potential medical intervention. Current law requires people to get a court order to approve a legal gender change, and to undergo gender-affirming surgery or receive hormone therapy when “necessary.”
Guercio said that the ultimate goal is to allow trans and non-binary people to simply go to a “registry office with the chosen name and gender … without [even] going through the court.”
The Texas Third Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a temporary restraining order to stop investigations into the parents of transgender kids for “child abuse.” District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum’s order halted the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services from following Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s much-maligned directive. The injunction prevents further investigations until the full trial, scheduled for July.
Abbott’s “home invasion” scheme was based on a non-binding legal opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton found that parents who authorize medically approved puberty blockers or hormone therapy for their transgender children could be prosecuted for child abuse. His vague wording suggests that even caregivers could be charged.
Not satisfied with hunting down the supportive parents of transgender children, Texas Attorney General Paxton is upping the ante by accusing the Austin city school district of “breaking state laws” with its LGBTQ Pride Week. His letter to school superintendent Stephanie Elizalde called it, “a week-long indoctrination … that not only fails to obtain parental consent, but subtly cuts parents out of the loop.”
Paxton promoted his absurd claims on Twitter, condemning the liberal-ish Austin School District for “aggressively pushing LGBTQ+ views on Texas kids.” He called the District’s LGBTQ-positive stance “immoral and illegal,” while describing queer people as “sexual propagandists and predators.”
Superintendent Elizalde is standing firm. She tweeted in response to Paxton’s threats, “I want all our LGBTQIA+ students to know that we are proud of them and that we will protect them against political attacks.”
In another U.S. hotspot of anti-queer bigotry, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill continues to make news. It’s anyone’s guess why Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has yet to sign it into law – unless the suspense is fueling his presidential aspirations.
The “Parental Rights in Education Bill” sailed through the Republican-dominated state legislature weeks ago. It would ban any discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in primary school grades, but it’s so vaguely worded that opponents fear it will censor those subjects in all grade levels.
The Walt Disney Company is the largest private employer in Florida.
[sound: chants of “Say Gay” during walkout of Disney corporate offices in Burbank, California]
After symbolic walkouts during breaks in the previous week, hundreds of workers with the various Disney-affiliated companies staged a full-scale walkout on March 22rd to protest CEO Bob Chapek’s less-than-stellar response to the measure. He only publically opposed the bill after it had reached the governor’s desk.
The major issue of contention is the company’s substantial political donations to several anti-queer Republican politicians, including Governor DeSantis, one of “Don’t Say Gay’s” most ardent supporters.
The Disney workers walked out of corporate offices in Burbank, California and Orlando, Florida, in addition to employee walkouts at Lucasfilm, Pixar, Bento Box and two Disney animation studios. Their numbers may not have been large, but they attracted major broadcast, cable and print news coverage. A union spokesperson said that California and Florida Disney Theme Park workers could not participate due to contract provisions.
Disney-owned ABC-TV, Disney Plus and Hulu streaming services issued statements supporting the walkout. On the Disney-owned ESPN, two announcers covering an NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament game observed two minutes of silence to protest the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The backlash has apparently prompted Pixar to pucker-up in the animated feature Lightyear. They had cut a kiss between a major character voiced by Uzo Aduba and her female partner – Variety reports that it’s back. Watch for it in the latest installment of the Toy Story franchise, to be released in June.
Disney cannot have it both ways, as far as queer and allied activists are concerned. They cannot publically support and donate to LGBTQ causes from one pocket and pad the coffers of rights-opposing politicians from the other pocket.
CEO Bob Chapek has apologized for his lackluster response and vows to do better. He announced a “listening tour” to help him and senior executives formulate an improved company response to anti-queer actions in the future.
Meanwhile, Seattle Pride is telling a huge conglomerate that both ways won’t work for it, either. The Board voted this week to cut ties with Amazon, a major sponsor of the city’s annual parade. It cited almost a half-million-dollars in donations by the Internet giant to lawmakers who have voted against LGBTQ rights. The company had stepped up its sponsorship offer to $100,000, but it came with the demand that it officially be called the “Seattle Pride Parade Presented by Amazon.”
Pride organizers said in a statement, “We simply cannot partner with any organization actively harming our community through the support of discriminatory laws and politics.”
Governors Eric Holcomb of Indiana and Spencer Cox of Utah broke with the Republican’s state juggernaut against transgender kids in the U.S. this week. Both vetoed bills to ban the participation of transgender student athletes in school sports programs this week. Each said the legislation was either too broad or simply unnecessary.
However, lawmakers in the Utah legislature have already voted to override Cox’ veto, and it could happen again in Indiana. Similar measures are already the law of the land in more than a dozen U.S. states, although many are being challenged in court.
A new study published this week by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law exposed the real cost of another form of anti-trans youth legislation sweeping Republican-dominated state legislatures this year. Those bills would deny trans youth the gender-affirming health care that they need. Fifteen states have either already passed or are now considering them. According to the report, more than a third of transgender young people aged 13 to 17 are, or could be, at risk of being denied access to what can be life-saving care – that’s 58,200 of an estimated 150,000 kids.
Finally, infamous Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis has lost again. Federal District Court Judge David Bunning ruled on March 18th that Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to two queer couples violated their constitutional rights. Citing “God’s authority,” Davis denied licenses to Ermold and David Moore and James Yates and Will Smith in 2015, even though the U.S. Supreme Court had legalized it. The couples eventually got their licenses while Davis spent five days in jail for contempt of court.
Davis insists that her constitutionally protected religious rights are being violated. The controversy, at least in part, cost her a bid for re-election in 2018.
This week’s ruling clears the way for the couples’ damages lawsuit to go to a jury trial, but that date is yet to be determined. They are seeking both compensatory and punitive damages, as well as recouping all the legal fees they’ve paid over the course of the litigation.
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