Reports from May of 2012 recall the watershed moment when President Barack Obama (with a push from then-Vice President Joe Biden) announced that he had finally come around to support marriage equality, featuring Freedom to Marry attorney Evan Wolfson, Congressmember Barney Frank, Mayor Cory Booker, Secretary Colin Powell, the NAACP’s Benjamin Jealous and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
And in NewsWrap: Texas Supreme Court re-authorizes “child abuse” investigations into the families of transgender children, Dallas county judge orders trans pediatric clinic to re-open its services, procedural legislative maneuver gives Louisiana’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill a second chance, Russia extends WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner’s detention amid prisoner exchange rumors, lesbian Pussy Riot pair escapes Putin’s crackdown on rights activists, Greek ban on conversion therapy excludes consenting adults, Republican U.S. Senators call for warning labels on LGBTQ-inclusive children’s programming, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Joe Boehnlein and David Hunt (produced by Brian DeShazor).
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of May 16, 2022
May 2012: Obama Evolves on Marriage Equality
Program #1,781 distributed 05/16/22
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The Texas Supreme Court re-authorizes state agents’ investigations of the loving parents and supportive medical caregivers of transgender young people for “child abuse” … a Dallas county judge temporarily orders a leading children’s hospital to allow Genecis, its specialized clinic for trans youth, forced by rightwing forces to stop accepting new pediatric patients in November, to start accepting them again … a procedural legislative maneuver brings Louisiana’s even-worse-than-Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill back from the dead … the pre-trial detention in Russia of married lesbian WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is extended as she awaits trial for having cannabis oil vape cartridges in her luggage, for which she faces 10 years in prison … Masha Alyokhina and Lucy Shtein, partners and leading members of the Russian punk and performance art group Pussy Riot, escape Putin’s crackdown on truth-telling performers and rights activists into Lithuania disguised as food delivery couriers … Greece bans “conversion therapy” for minors, but still allows consenting adults to undergo the discredited and often harmful practice … and five rightwing Republican U.S. Senators call on the government’s TV Ratings Board to “protect” kids from “mature content” — i.e., Disney’s, and other queer-inclusive, children’s programming [with music by CHUBBY CHECKER and AALIYAH ROSE] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported by JOE BOEHNLEIN and DAVID HUNT, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: A lot has happened in U.S. politics in the 10 years since President Barack Obama announced his evolution on the subject of marriage equality — you might even wonder if it’s been 10 years of devolution! With the Supreme Court poised to re-evaluate the very basis of privacy rights, maybe turning the This Way Out clock back to May of 2012 might actually be a step forward: Obama Evolves: He'd always said that he was "evolving" on the issue. But on May 10th, U.S. President Barack Obama reached the zenith of his long climb to finally embrace full civil marriage equality for gays and lesbians. GREG GORDON’s report includes comments by Vice President Joe Biden on the May 6th broadcast of NBC-TV's Meet the Press reportedly forced the president to announce his support for marriage equality sooner than he had planned. You'll hear brief excerpts from Biden’s remarks, and from the President's comments on ABC-TV's Good Morning America; and reaction by Evan Wolfson of the advocacy group Freedom To Marry; U.S. Congressman Barney Frank; and Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker; This Way Out's LUCIA CHAPPELLE then reviews The Obama Effect later that month, with comments by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the NAACP's Benjamin Jealous, plus a short excerpt from a report on some fascinating new polling data about two weeks after Obama’s “evolution” by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow (with a TWO ID by then-U.S. CONGRESSMAN BARNEY FRANK, and music by SEAN CHAPIN, ALAN CUMMING, MICHAEL ROSS, JADE LEONARD featuring DOLLY DIAMOND and LUKE GALLAGHER; THE CHORAL CON FUSION CHOIR).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending May 14, 2022
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Joe Boehnlein and David Hunt,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Texas parents of transgender kids are facing “child abuse” investigations again, thanks to the state Supreme Court. It approved the state’s emergency appeal of an Austin judge’s temporary injunction on May 13th, allowing the Department of Family and Protective Services to resume probing families who support medically recommended gender-affirming health care for their children. Governor Greg Abbott had ordered the investigations. An appeals court supported the injunction against his directive until a lawsuit challenging it has been resolved, but the high court ruled that lower courts had “abused [their] discretion.”
The Justices did decide that the temporary injunction could continue for the parents of a 16-year-old transgender girl and their medical practitioner who filed the lawsuit. However, all other families and caregivers in Texas not parties to the lawsuit are suitable targets for child abuse investigations.
Abbott’s action was based on a legal opinion by fellow-Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton. Critics say it was riddled with factual errors and faulty conclusions about gender-affirming care.
The Court said that while the governor had the right to issue the directive, the Department of Family and Protective Services was not obligated to follow it.
It’s not yet clear if the Department will actually resume what many were calling an anti-trans witch-hunt in the state of Texas.
The day before that state high court ruling, a Texas county judge gave the green light to the resumption of gender-affirming care for pediatric patients at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. The specialized Genecis clinic bowed to mounting criticism by anti-trans social conservatives and political leaders and stopped accepting new patients in November.
Dr. Ximena Lopez is the founder and director of the clinic housed at and jointly operated with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She’s represented by attorney Charla Aldous, who filed a lawsuit in March demanding that Genecis be allowed to accept new patients. Dallas County Court-at-Law Judge Melissa Bellan ordered the new patient restrictions lifted on May 12th, saying that management at Children’s Medical Center had violated the law by “interfering with, controlling, or otherwise directing any physician’s professional judgment.”
The order is good for just two weeks, pending another hearing set for May 26th. The Center had turned down about a hundred families seeking gender-affirming care for their children since November, according to the Texas Tribune. They report that five new patients scheduled appointments at the Center within hours of the court ruling. The Genecis program helps trans kids socialize into their identified gender, providing hormone therapy and/or puberty blockers as medically recommended. It does not perform gender-affirming surgeries. Minors rarely receive those procedures anywhere.
Louisiana’s version of “Don’t Say Gay” is back from the dead. Republican state Rep. Raymond Crews pushed a “Committee of the Whole” procedure to get the entire House to override last week’s House Education Committee decision. The Committee had killed the bill by a vote of 7-to-4 with the help of three majority Republicans. The full House kept the bill alive, voting 55-to-39, mostly along party lines.
Under the usual guise of “protecting children,” Louisiana’s proposal is even more extreme than the infamous Florida law. It bans discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through the 8th grade, and specifically prohibits teachers from discussing their own personal orientation through the 12th grade.
SarahJane Guidry of the statewide queer advocacy group Forum for Equality denounced the effort to “censor and control students and teachers.” She said, “Moving this bill forward at the expense of LGBTQ+ students’ well-being is a shameful political trick.”
A full House debate on Louisiana’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill has yet to be scheduled.
The pre-trial detention of lesbian WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner in Russia has been extended for another month. The original court order kept her behind bars until May 19th. Griner was arrested in late February at a Moscow-area airport for allegedly carrying cannabis oil vape cartridges in her luggage on entering the country. Lawyer Alexander Boikov told the Associated Press this week that the relatively short extension of Griner’s detention suggests to him that the case will come to trial soon. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.
U.S. officials have been in regular contact with the Phoenix Mercury’s two-time Olympic gold medalist, and the State Department has designated her as being “wrongfully detained.” A consular official said she is doing “as well as can be expected during exceedingly difficult circumstances.”
Russia may be interested trading Griner for the notorious arms dealer known as “The Merchant of Death.” Viktor Bout was arrested in Thailand and extradited to the U.S. in 2010, where he was convicted of smuggling weapons to Colombian rebels intended for use against U.S. citizens. He’s been serving a 25-year prison sentence in New York since 2012.
Griner’s wife Cherelle has asked the public to respect their privacy as behind-the-scenes negotiations for her release continue.
Two other lesbians have escaped Russia: partners and human rights activists Lucy Shtein and Masha Alyokhina of the punk rock performance art group Pussy Riot.
Also a Moscow municipal deputy, Lucy had been under house arrest for more than a year, and decided to leave a month ago when a sign saying “Traitors” appeared on the couple’s door. Masha’s house arrest for protesting the invasion of Ukraine was about to be changed to a 21-day stint in a penal colony.
They made their separate ways to Lithuania, each evading police by dressing as commonplace Moscow food delivery couriers. Lucy told The Guardian, “It was really convenient that delivery couriers have such big bags.”
Pussy Riot first made headlines ten years ago when they staged a “colorful” protest in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral against Vladimir Putin. They’ve been on his “enemy’s list” ever since – even though they thoughtfully decorated Russian government buildings with Rainbow Pride flags for his birthday in 2020.
Masha and Lucy left Russia reluctantly, but Putin’s escalating purge of truth-telling journalists and human rights activists since his Ukraine invasion convinced them that they could do more good outside the country.
Several band mates have also been able to leave Russia, and Lucy says Pussy Riot has started a European tour to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees.
The Greek Parliament has banned conversion therapy, but only for “vulnerable” people, such as minors or those with legal guardians. Those who flaunt the law face fines and prison terms. The legislation also bans promoting or advertising conversion therapy to minors. The medically debunked practice that falsely claims to “change” LGBTQ people often does real mental health damage.
Some queer activists complain that the ban doesn’t go far enough. “Consenting adults” can still volunteer for the treatments that even Greece’s Health Minister Thanos Plevris calls, “not only … not a therapy, but … not supported scientifically.”
Athens-based LGBTQ rights group OLKE warns that the “loophole” still leaves thousands of young people vulnerable to abuse, and may exempt faith-based forms of the practice, such as exorcism. For example, conversion therapy is aggressively promoted on a website funded by the Greek Orthodox Church.
Finally, [sound: Chubby Checker: “How low can you go …”] some Republican members of the United States Senate want to “protect children” from “disturbing content” featuring LGBTQ characters on television.
Senator Roger Marshall of Indiana drafted the offensive letter warning the TV Parental Guidelines Advisory Board that “topics of a sexual nature have become aggressively politicized and promoted in children’s programming, including … experimental treatments for mental disorders like gender dysphoria.”
The letter singled out the Republicans’ favorite punching bag of late, Disney – more punishment for its belated opposition to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. A press release from Marshall’s office cites reports that Disney plans to increase LGBTQ characters in what he calls their “latest campaign to embed left-wing sexual politics in its children’s programming.”
Senators Mike Braun of Indiana, Steve Daines of Montana, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and Mike Lee of Utah signed on to Marshall’s letter. It sets a May 18th deadline for the Advisory Board to respond to their request for a revised ratings system to warn parents about “mature content.”
So parents should beware and add to anything Disney four perilous shows cited by Marshall’s office: Danger Force and The Loud House on Nickelodeon, and Netflix’ upcoming Dead End: Paranormal Park and long-running She-Ra and the Princess of Power.
[sound: from She-Ra theme song by Aaliyah Rose:]
“We're gonna win in the end …
We must be strong (we must be strong)
And we must be brave (we must be brave)
We gotta reach inside stand together and fight never let it go
We must be strong!”
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