New South Wales trans expert Teddy Cook (AUSPath) testifies against a transphobic education bill before a parliamentary committee!
New music by Steven Gellman, Imagesong, Zola, Emmet Michael, Jhonny Nights and Lowbelly, curated for our Queer Music Focus by Steve Sims!
Opponents force Swiss marriage equality to the ballot box, a Czech bill for queer mates advances, U.S. President Joe Biden’s speech backs trans kids and the Equality Act, Alabama, West Virginia and Florida ban trans student athletes, Montana forges a faith-based “license to discriminate,” and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of May 3, 2021
NSW Trans Stand & Queer Music Focus!
Program #1,727 distributed 05/03/21
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Opponents delay marriage equality in Switzerland by qualifying a referendum to force a public vote on the issue … lawmakers in the lower house of parliament in the Czech Republic advance a marriage equality bill that’s unlikely to pass both houses before national elections in early October … U.S. President Joe Biden notes the historic nature of his first presidential address to a joint session of Congress on April 28th, and calls for passage of the LGBTQ civil rights Equality Act, with a shout-out of support to transgender young people … the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Texas’ lawsuit against California for banning unessential travel by “Golden State” officials or employees to states with anti-queer laws … a U.S. federal district court rejects a lawsuit challenging Connecticut state policy that allows trans students to compete in school sports, … the Republican governors of Alabama and West Virginia sign bills to ban trans competitors in school sports … Florida Republicans revive and pass a bill thought dead to do the same thing [with an unsuccessful plea to “kill the bill” by Democratic State Senator Vic Torres, who has a trans grand daughter] … Montana’s Republican governor signs a “license to discriminate” bill allowing businesses and individuals to cite “religious belief” to refuse to serve LGBTQ people … progressive groups and litigators line up to launch legal challenges to virtually every anti-queer law being enacted by Republican-controlled U.S. state governments (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by WENZEL JONES and PAULA THOMAS, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: A committee of the Parliament in New South Wales held two days of hearings on a bill that would ban the recognition of transgender identity and gender fluidity in public schools. In all that time, only one trans person got a chance to address the issue: Teddy Cook, representing the Australian Professional Association for Trans Health (with intro/outro music from The Village by WRABEL).
Feature: As the year goes whizzing by, have you lost your Queer Music Focus? This Way Out’s STEVE SIMS found it! (segment introduced by THE DOOBIE BROTHERS, and features new music by Steven Gellman, Imagesong, Zola, Emmet Michael, Jhonny Nights, and Lowbelly).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending May 1, 2021 Written this week by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported by Wenzel Jones and Paula Thomas, produced by Brian DeShazor
Marriage equality is going up for a public vote in Switzerland. Lawmakers approved a bill last year to open civil marriage to same-gender couples. However under the country’s unique “direct democracy” system, opponents may challenge legislation if they can gather at least 50,000 signatures within 100 days of passage.
Switzerland has had less-than-equal “civil unions” for queer couples since 2004. According to most opinion polls, a sizable majority of Swiss voters favor full equality. That said, opponents have likely succeeded only in stoking homophobia during the upcoming political campaigns, and delaying the inevitable. Some activists do see it as a chance “to further increase acceptance of LGBT people in society,” as campaigner Matthias Erhardt told The Local.
A government spokesperson announced that the marriage equality vote probably would not be held until at least September.
In the Czech Republic, a marriage equality bill has advanced in the lower house of Parliament. The measure amends the Civil Code to define marriage as a union of “two persons” instead of “a man and a woman.”
Its first reading victory in the Chamber of Deputies on April 29th may be short-lived, however. Is an affirmative vote in the Senate possible? That’s uncertain.
A contradictory bill also passed its first reading in the lower house. It would amend the country’s Constitution to define civil marriage as the union of one man and one woman — period.
The four-hour debate on both bills got fairly heated at times, but just 93 members of the 200-member Chamber of Deputies were there for the action. Attempts to dismiss each measure outright also failed.
Same-gender couples have been able to enter into registered partnerships in the Czech Republic since 2006. Those partnerships offer far fewer rights compared to married heterosexual couples.
The competing bills now each advance to the Constitutional/Legal and Social committees, according to local media. The committees have been given 80 days to review them, rather than the standard 60 days. That also raises doubts about the chances marriage equality legislation has of passing both houses of parliament before general elections in early October.
[Joe Biden sound]
Those were the historic first words uttered by U.S. President Joe Biden in his first address to a joint session of Congress on April 28th.
Biden celebrated the accomplishments of his first 99 days in office. Then he laid out in bold strokes many of his administration’s initiatives on a wide range of social and economic issues. That included urging lawmakers to pass legislation that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal anti-discrimination laws. He also sent a strong message of support to young transgender people:
[Joe Biden sound]
The House of Representatives passed the Equality Act almost two years ago, but it stalled in a Republican-controlled Senate. Democrats now have the narrowest of margins there, but to overcome that chamber’s antiquated “filibuster” rules, they would need the support of 10 Republicans – which seems highly unlikely.
Veteran out Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin told the Washington Blade that she’s involved in efforts to secure 60 votes to end the Senate filibuster, or at least limit its use. That would allow a simple majority to pass most legislation like the Equality Act – just as the House has done.
The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas against the state of California. It challenged the “Golden State’s” 2016 law prohibiting nonessential taxpayer-funded travel by state officials or employees to states that allow discrimination against LGBTQ people. Texas, of course, is one of those. The Court voted 7-to-2 to refuse the case, the two being conservative justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. Nineteen other states filed briefs in support of Texas, including West Virginia, Kansas, and Tennessee. Rabidly anti-queer Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claimed that California’s action violated interstate commerce laws.
As is its custom, the Court did not explain its decision to reject the case.
Connecticut’s Interscholastic Athletic Conference policy of allowing trans students to compete alongside their cis counterparts has survived a court challenge. A U.S. federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed last year by some parents. The plaintiffs claimed that the policy gave two title-winning trans girls an “unfair” advantage in competition with girls.
But Connecticut District Judge Robert Chatigny decided this week that the issue was moot because those 2 trans athletes have graduated. He said that since the plaintiffs could not name other trans athletes creating concern, further consideration of the issue would simply be “speculative.”
The Republican Governors of Alabama and West Virginia are the latest to sign bills banning trans competitors in school sports. Similar laws are being passed by Republican-controlled legislatures across the country, almost hand-in-hand with their voter-suppression bills.
Ironically, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey also signed a measure this week to remove language in sex education curricula that describes homosexuality as illegal and unacceptable – that’s to her credit, albeit a few decades late.
West Virginia’s even more ironically named Governor Jim Justice had already announced that he would “proudly” sign his state’s bill. When pressed by a cable news reporter, however, he was unable to cite one example of a trans athlete that his law would “protect” against.
Alabama and West Virginia join Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota and Tennessee – states that have already banned transgender students from competing in school sports. And then there’s Florida. There’s no reason to believe that Republican Governor Ron DeSantis won’t sign his state’s trans ban.
Opponents thought that the bill had died in the Senate, but it was revived this week after some of the most obnoxious parts were removed – such as requiring genetic testing and genital examinations for competitors.
Democratic state Senator Vic Torres pleaded with his colleagues to reject the bill …
[Vic Torres sound]
But his words fell on deaf ears.
Finally, the rash of U.S. anti-trans bills may actually become a jobs program for the ACLU and other progressive groups and litigators. A federal district court has already put Idaho’s anti-trans-in-sports bill on hold pending further litigation.
A “license to discriminate” bill signed this week by Montana’s Republican Governor Greg Gianforte is also almost certain to face a court challenge. The Montana Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows businesses and individuals to cite “religious belief” in rejecting LGBTQ customers or clients. It bans state officials from “interfering” with a person’s exercise of their religious beliefs.
Virtually every U.S. state law restricting queer rights has been challenged in court – or they will be.
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