A timely rebroadcast of excerpts from Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black’s play based on the transcripts of the 2010 trial that overturned California’s Proposition 8, the initiative that banned marriage equality in the state, starring John C. Reilly, George Takei, George Clooney, Kevin Bacon and Brad Pitt as Judge Vaughn Walker. (Los Angeles Theater Works latw.org)
Plus: White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre shares her rainbow flare on National Coming Out Day!
And in NewsWrap: two patrons of Slovakian gay bar killed in terrorist teenager’s shooting spree, Mexico's Senate passes ban on conversion therapy, Montenegro Pride demands end to hate speech, U.S. gay man married to Japanese citizen wins extended visa, University of Florida students slam anti-queer Senator Ben Sasse’s pending appointment as college president, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of October 8th, 2022
Program #1,803 distributed 10/17/22
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): A 19-year-old “hate terrorist” kills two and injures another in a horrific shooting outside a popular gay bar in Bratislava, Slovakia, and then kills himself after posting an anti-Jewish anti-LGBTQ manifesto … Mexico’s Senate overwhelmingly approves and sends to the Chamber of Deputies a bill to ban conversion therapy in the country, not just for “patients” under the age of 18 as a handful of other nations have done, but protecting adults as well … Montenegrins celebrate LGBTQ Pride for the 10th time in Podgorica despite vocal opposition from far right politicians, the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church, and the anti-queer violence they inspired at earlier celebrations [with brief comments by a visiting marcher from St. Petersburg, Russia] … a Tokyo court denies a U.S. citizen permanent resident status because bi-national queer marrieds are not recognized in Japan, but gives him the right to stay in in the country with his Japanese husband for up to five years with a “designated activities” visa … hundreds of University of Florida students loudly protest the apparently all but decided Board of Trustees choice of rabidly anti-queer anti-choice Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska to be the next university president [introduced by students chanting “Hey hey ho ho Ben Sasse has got to go!”]; and Provo, Utah has “accidentally” become a global hub for the legal marriages of same-gender couples who can’t wed in their home countries, including some 200 queer couples from China and Hong Kong (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by M.R. RAQUEL and MICHAEL LEBEAU, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre brought her special rainbow flare to the White House briefing room on October 11th (with an intro from The Wizard of Oz and outro music by EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER).
Feature: You can now see the actual courtroom proceedings from one of the most significant trials in the quest for marriage equality in the U.S. — and it’s not just a good queer history lesson. This week the Supreme Court passed on the chance to prevent the release of videotapes from the landmark trial involving California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that overturned the state Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed same-gender couples to marry. Efforts to broadcast the hearings live were blocked. MARK MERICLE and CHRISTOPHER MARTINEZ of Pacifica Radio News covered the trial’s opening day in January of 2010 (with comments by Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac, Andrew Pugno, and John Lewis, and intro music by JONI MITCHELL).
Feature: Although the Proposition 8 trial was not aired for the public, the now-retired and openly gay U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker had the proceedings videotaped for his own use in his deliberations. It’s as if the winning defenders of marriage equality in California knew that the testimony as presented would still be relevant to the civil rights arguments we continue to face today. For 12 years they’ve kept up the fight against the initiative’s proponents, who wanted to keep Judge Walker’s tapes forever sealed. By declining to take up the case, the Supreme Court yielded to the November 2021 ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and those tapes have now been released. Absent the actual recordings at the time, Oscar-winning gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black took matters into his own pen. He wrote and produced the play 8 based on the trial transcripts. Thanks to the LA Theater Works, here are excerpts from the Los Angeles production featuring John C. Reilly as David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values, George Takei as Dr. William Tam of the Traditional Family Coalition, George Clooney as co-counsel for the plaintiffs David Boies, Kevin Bacon as ProtectMarriage.com attorney Charles Cooper and Brad Pitt as Judge Vaughn Walker. It’s now easy to understand why Prop 8 backers fought the public release of the actual videotapes of the trial for so long (with transition and outro music by JONI MITCHELL).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending October 15th, 2022
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by M.R. Raquel and Michael LeBeau,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Shots rang out at a popular Bratislava, Slovakia gay bar on the night of October 12th. Two men in their mid-20s were killed, and a woman thought to be a Teplaren bar employee was seriously injured. Police found the 19-year-old suspect the following day dead of self-inflicted wounds. Officials are calling it an act of “terrorist hate” by a “radicalized teenager.”
Press reports out of the Slovakian capital say that the shooter posted a lengthy manifesto on social media against both Jewish and LGBTQ people, including the hashtags “hate crime” and “gay bar.” He claimed responsibility soon after the horrific attacks, posting photos from the scene and several of himself. He assured like-minded zealots that he would meet them “on the other side.”
Thousands gathered in downtown Bratislava on the 14th to honor the victims and show their support. Many waved rainbow flags and “Stop the violence!” signs. President Zuzana Čaputová expressed her personal support at a makeshift memorial outside the bar, declaring, "I want to say to the LGBT community, it is not you who don't belong here … It is hate that does not belong in Slovakia."
A coalition of queer groups in the central European nation condemned the “unprecedented” attack motivated by anti-queer hatred. They called on their fellow Slovakians to give full equality to LGBTQ people in order to ensure that such bloody violence is not repeated.
Mexico’s Senate has overwhelmingly acted to ban all conversion therapy. The October 11th vote was 69 in favor, two opposed, and 16 abstentions. The bill now heads to the Chamber of Deputies, where proponents hope it will finally be made law.
A handful of countries have prohibited the bogus practice that claims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In most of them the bans are limited to victims under the age of 18. However the new Mexican law would criminalize all efforts to “convert” queer people.
The bill has been three years in the making. Leftist parties first introduced the national measure in October 2018. Conversion therapy is already banned in 12 states and the federal district of Mexico City.
Senator Patricia Mercado voted “yes.” She said, “There’s nothing to cure, it is not a disease. … These are cruel and inhuman treatments that we have to stop in our country.”
A press statement from the queer rights group Yaaj Mexico stressed that conversion therapy’s “main victims … are young LGBTQ+ people, causing irreparable damage to their mental health throughout their adult life and in the worst cases, driving them to suicide.” Yaaj Mexico proclaimed, “The eyes of the world are today on this historic advance in human rights, hoping that it will become an international benchmark.”
More than 500 people joined Montenegro’s tenth LGBTQ Pride march on October 8th. The tiny Balkan nation hosted an international crowd in the capital city of Podgorica:
[SOUND – Crowd sounds.
Participant: I love it! I can go around, and I can walk. It’s safe and it’s fun, and it’s a lot of people, and everyone is smiling. It’s so good.
Reporter: It’s not the way you can do in your home town … where is it …?
Participant: It’s Russia … St. Petersburg. Yes, it’s not. It’s unimaginable like this there.]
Until recent years, the festivities were marred by anti-queer violence. The powerful Serbian Orthodox Church again led a few so-called “traditional values” officials in a “protest prayer gathering” the day before the Pride march, but it failed to inspire a repeat of such violence. In fact, much to the chagrin of the Church and its allies, Montenegro’s government has started vocally supporting Pride events. Aspiring to membership in the European Union, lawmakers even approved less-than-marriage registered partnerships for same-gender couples in 2020.
Despite those advances, queer activists are demanding more from the conservative, patriarchal population of about 650,000. With a cry to curb hate speech and harassment, the theme of the 10th annual Montenegro Pride March was “No More Buts.” As one activist said, “We don’t want [government officials] to come here and take photos with us. We want results. No more buts!”
Marriage equality moved another tiny step forward in Japan. U.S. citizen Andrew High won a “designated activities” visa because of his marriage to a Japanese citizen. The “designated activities” visa has only been used for legally married foreign same-gender couples. Tokyo Court Judge Yoshitaka Ichihara ruled that High should have the same right based on the constitutional mandate of “equality under the law.”
High met his Japanese husband Kohei in California in 2004. The economic downturn forced Kohei to return to Japan in 2008. High moved to Japan to be with his spouse and had managed to stay in the country under a temporary student visa and then a business visa. They legally married in the U.S. in 2015.
High has applied for long-term residency five times based on that marriage. Each time he’s been denied because same-gender marriages are not legal in Japan, and it only accommodates foreign same-gender marriages if neither party is Japanese. High filed his lawsuit against the federal government almost three years ago.
He told a press conference, “It’s hard to believe that this is a success,” but he’s “relieved.” The “designated activities” visa at least allows him and Kohei to legally live in Japan for five years, and it’s renewable. With their 18th anniversary coming up, High said, “During this entire time, we’ve never been able to really have a picture beyond a year or so that felt secure.”
[sound – student chants: Hey hey, ho ho, Ben Sasse has got to go!]
Hundreds of University of Florida students are pulling the “welcome mat” out from under their prospective new university president. Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse is set to bring his lengthy anti-queer track record to the “Don’t Say Gay” state. Sasse condemns the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, and opposed the “Respect For Marriage Act” to codify that decision when it passed in the U.S. House earlier this year. He has also celebrated the high court’s Dobbs decision outlawing a woman’s right to choose.
Sasse’s selection as University president has been considered a foregone conclusion since a Board of Trustees search committee named him as the one and only finalist about a week ago.
Queer-identified University of Florida junior Grace Smith told the campus Independent Florida Alligator newspaper, “I think his presence is a threat to my well-being here, and if he actually becomes president, he won’t live a day of peace.”
Protests erupted at a Town Hall meeting in Gainesville this week, prematurely ending the student Q&A session. A separate in-person meeting with university staff and faculty was held digitally.
Sasse’s “final interview” with the Board is scheduled for November 1st.
[sound – student chants: Hey hey, ho ho, Ben Sasse has got to go!]
Finally, hashtag-odd-pairings! Utah County has become a global hub for same-gender couples to get legally married if they cannot do it in their home country. Utah has no citizenship requirement for state marriage licenses, and the COVID pandemic prompted officials in the Utah County seat of Provo to institute virtual marriages in 2020. The couple only needs to be of legal age, and their identities must be verifiable. Including the officiant, one person involved in the Zoom ceremony must physically be in the state.
More than 200 couples from China and Hong Kong have tied the knot that way since last year, according to Rest of the World magazine. Civil marriage is obviously not a possibility in their home jurisdictions, so those digital marriages are not legally recognized. However for many couples personally, the ceremonies have brought a closer, more secure relationship.
Utah County has performed more than 3,500 international weddings, including couples from Finland, France and Kenya, according to The New York Times.
Bert Harvey oversees marriage licenses at the County Clerk’s office. He told the Times, “We have become an international marriage venue completely by accident. But we’re leaning into it.”