Black lesbian comic Wanda Sykes remembers “The Annual Reminder” — a pioneering LGBTQ event explained in Rainbow Minute — at its July 2015 50th anniversary in Philadelphia, as she hails victories in the U.S. Supreme Court and looks forward to more.
OutCasting Plus commentator Chris talks about the importance of the high court’s latest “right to work” ruling to queer youth.
Thailand’s Cabinet proposes civil partnerships, Dutch House moves to constitutionalize LGBTQ rights, Germany plans compensation for wronged queer vets, religious belief trumps worker rights at U.S. top court, racism forces homophobic Alabama mayor out, real “Mitchell” starts his own Modern Family, and more international LGBTQ news!
Program #1,685 distributed 07/13/20
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Thailand’s Cabinet approves the
Feature: U.S. marriage equality was a newlywed when activists marked the
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending July 11, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and John Dyer V,produced by Brian DeShazor
Thailand’s government has cleared the way for the legal recognition of same-gender couples. The Cabinet-backed Civil Partnership Bill was introduced in Parliament on July 8th. It gives gay and lesbian couples almost all the rights of marriage, including adoption and joint property and inheritance rights. But it won’t be called “marriage,” and it won’t allow access to a spouse’s work-based healthcare coverage or their pension. The Justice Minister told reporters that the legislation could be amended at a later date to expand civil partners’ rights.
Thailand’s Constitutional Court rejected a marriage equality lawsuit in 2019 on a procedural technicality. The Civil Partnership Bill was first introduced in Parliament in 2018 but failed to advance before national elections.
A public comment period closes on August 17th. After that, parliamentary committees will begin formal consideration of the legislation. If it passes, Thailand will become only the second jurisdiction in Southeast Asia to recognize queer couples. Taiwan instituted full marriage equality last year.
A full marriage equality bill offered in Parliament by Thailand’s Opposition Move Forward Party is fated to go nowhere.
Some queer Thais have taken to social media to condemn the Civil Partnership Bill as “fake equality,” while others are not worried about full marriage equality — at least right now. Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand President Kittinan Daramadhaj told “Reuters,” “It’s the content that matters,” and asked, “What’s in a name?”
The Dutch House of Representatives has approved a measure to enshrine LGBTQ rights in the nation’s Constitution. Currently Article 1 says that, “All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted.” MPs added “sexual orientation” and “disability” to that list of specific characteristics by a lopsided 124-to-26 vote. Lawmakers said that protections based on gender identity and expression are included in the “sex” category.
The June 30th House vote was “wonderful news” to Astrid Oosenbrug of the leading Dutch queer advocacy group C.O.C. She said, “Today we have taken a big step towards anchoring our rights in the Constitution.” C.O.C. has lobbied for the inclusion of those LGBTQ protections for almost twenty years.
The proposal now goes to the Senate. If it passes there, it will need a two-thirds majority back in the House. That can’t happen until after parliamentary elections in March 2021.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands has removed the “gender” designation from national ID cards. Pink News reports that Government minister Ingrid van Engelshoven called it an “unnecessary” field, and said that its removal will help those “who do not feel unequivocally as a man or a woman.”
German members of the armed forces who were victims of anti-queer discrimination may soon get their due. The Defense Ministry plans to introduce a bill in September to offer them compensation, according to the Deutsche Welle news agency. What’s not clear is whether that compensation will be monetary, or come in some other form. Some LGBT service members were, at best, denied promotions. That means they did not get the same pay or pensions as their heterosexual counterparts.
Anti-queer sex laws were repealed in 1969, but it was 2000 before military service by out lesbians and gay men was finally welcomed. Until then, service members could still be discharged from the German military for “unnatural sexual offenses.” Transgender soldiers were allowed to join starting in 2014.
Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said that the compensation initiative was “not about tolerance. … It is about respect, appreciation, and esteem.”
Two worrisome new high court decisions signaled last call at the celebrations following June 15th’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling protecting LGBTQ workplace rights. One of them extends the ability of a religious school to discriminate based on religious belief against LGBTQ people – or anyone else, for that matter. The other one allows private employers to deny contraception provisions in the healthcare plans they offer to their workers.
In the first 7-to-2 decision, the high court ruled that religious schools could hire or fire teachers under the “ministerial exception” to employment laws. Queer legal advocates criticized the justices’ decision to essentially allow religious schools to call any teacher a “minister.” Lambda Legal’s Jennifer Pizer said those teachers may not be considered “ministers” “by any usual meaning of the word.”
Political and religious conservatives generally praised the Supreme Court ruling as a win for First Amendment religious rights.
While the decision in two consolidated cases did not directly address queer teacher rights, it did make LGBTQ teachers at religious schools more vulnerable. One case involved bias against a religious school teacher based on age. The other case claimed that a teacher was fired for taking time off to get breast cancer treatment.
The decision is based on a unanimous 2012 Supreme Court “ministerial exception” ruling. It said that the government cannot interfere with how a church or other religious institution chooses a minister or spiritual leader.
Only Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented. They were also the only dissenters in the second ruling. That one upheld a Trump administration rule that revoked yet another provision in the Affordable Care Act. It makes it easier for employers to deny healthcare coverage for birth control based on religious or moral beliefs.
Homophobia did not topple the mayor of a small Alabama town back in 2019, but now racism has – that and offending followers of the Crimson Tide.
Carbon Hill’s Republican Mayor Mark Chambers wrote in a Facebook post last year that the only way to deal with queer activists, “baby killers” and their ilk “would be to kill the problem out.” In Chambers words, “I know it’s bad to say, but without killing them out there’s no way to fix it.”
The mayor refused to step down despite sustained criticism.
But in a state where the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team is king, Chambers went out of bounds when he criticized coach Nick Sabin and the university for its vocal support of the Black Lives Matter campaign. His June 25th Facebook post announced his disaffection saying, “Their sorry-ass political views is why they’re getting out of my house. When you put Black lives before all lives they can kiss my ass.”
Chambers initially denied the remarks, just as he did his genocidal rant last year. But this time it was too much.
The Carbon Hill City Council held an emergency meeting on July 1st to accept Chambers’ abrupt resignation. Councilwoman April Kennedy Herron was appointed Mayor to fill the rest of his term, and will run for a full four-year term in November.
Black gay birdwatcher Christian Cooper has turned the other beak to the woman seen in a viral racist confrontation with him in New York’s Central Park. The unrelated Amy Cooper was walking her dog off leash in May, a clear violation of posted signs. She responded to Chris’ polite request to leash her dog by calling the police claiming that, “an African American man is threatening my life.”
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office formally charged Amy Cooper with filing a false police report on July 1st. It’s punishable by up to a year in jail.
However Chris Cooper told the New York Times that he would not be assisting the prosecution. He said that Amy had already “paid a steep price” when she lost her job over the incident, not to mention the negative notoriety. In his view, helping to prosecute her “just seems like piling on.”
The birder who is also an activist has been both praised for his Christian Cooper charity and criticized for not helping prosecutors make an example of the racist woman. Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the D.A., pointing out that, “racist behavior could have dire consequences for a Black man.”
Amy Cooper is due to appear before a judge on October 14th.
Finally, the gay dad on Modern Family was just rehearsing on TV – now he’s become a gay dad in real life. Jesse Tyler Ferguson played the redheaded, red-bearded Mitchell Pritchett to ally Eric Stonestreet’s Cameron Tucker on the long running landmark TV series. Ferguson just announced the arrival of his first child with his husband, lawyer Justin Mikita.
People magazine was first to report the news, which was confirmed by Ferguson rep Jillian Roscoe. “Jesse and Justin welcomed their little bundle of joy Beckett Mercer Ferguson-Mikita on July 7th.”
Some of the familiar faces seen celebrating at the couple’s baby shower included castmates Sofia Vergara and Sarah Hyland.
Guests were asked to donate to @nokidhungry in lieu of gifts.
Ferguson first announced that he and his hubby were expecting their first child during a January appearance on the CBS-TV Late Late Show with James Corden. As the Sydney Star Observer reported, Corden said that Jesse and Justin were going to make “the best parents.”
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