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This Way Out Radio Episode #1811: SCOTUS Hears Wedded Bias & The Scarlet Coast

As the U.S. Supreme Court considers a complaint about the right to refuse services for same-gender weddings, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Katanji Brown Jackson and Elena Kagan examine the dangerous implications, while Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch conjure false equivalencies in questioning Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson and plaintiff attorney Kristen Waggoner; analysis of the case provided by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and GayUSA’s Ann Northrop and Andy Humm.

Just in time to cure your queer holiday blues, Seattle gay pop duo The Scarlet Coast debuts a new album with a lead single that takes on seasonal depression with a smile (interviewer, Matty McLaughlin).

And in NewsWrap: Biden trades Russian arms dealer for Brittney Griner, Indonesia criminalizes unmarried sex, trans and non-binary athletes score with Sport New Zealand, Aruba and Curacao get court-ordered marriage equality, U.S. Respect For Marriage Act buries DOMA, Florida ”Don't Say Gay" sponsor quits after federal fraud indictments, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Marcos Najera and Elena Botkin-Levy (produced by Brian DeShazor).

All this on the December 12, 2022 edition of This Way Out!

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Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of December 5th, 2022

SCOTUS Hears Wedded Bias & The Scarlet Coast

Program #1,811 distributed 12/12/22

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Lesbian WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner is released from a Russian penal colony in a prisoner exchange for notorious U.S.-jailed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout [with comments by President Joe Biden, Brittney’s wife Cherelle Griner, and White House Press Secretary Karine Jeanne-Pierre] … Moscow librarians begin purging their shelves of any material that could be considered “LGBTQ propaganda” after Vladimir Putin signs the expanded “now applies to everyone and every form of communication” bill outlawing “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” … Indonesian lawmakers advance revisions to the Criminal Code that include criminalizing sex outside of heterosexual marriage … New Zealand opens community sports to trans and non-binary competitors, but allows governors of each elite sport to set their own rules … a Caribbean court orders Aruba and Curacao to open civil marriage to same-gender couples … the U.S. House approves a reconciled version of the Respect For Marriage Act [with a brief comment by proudly out former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank] … Florida lawmaker Joe Harding, lead sponsor of the state’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law, resigns after federal prosecutors indict him for money laundering, wire fraud, and making false statements [with a brief flashback to his arguments in support of the bill] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MARCOS NAJERA and ELENA BOTKIN-LEVY, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR)

Feature: While the U.S. Congress was voting to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, the judicial branch was feasting on arguments concerning same-gender weddings. The other ironic thing about the Supreme Court’s December 5th hearing was that there’s a cause with no real case. Unlike the Colorado baker who refused service to a gay couple on religious grounds in the 2018 Masterpiece Cakeshop challenge, this time it’s a Colorado website designer who has yet to open a business that she can refuse service from — she just doesn’t want same-gender wedding customers when she does. It’s bigger than queer nuptials, as Pacifica Radio’s CHRISTOPHER MARTINEZ reports [with questioning by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Katanji Brown Jackson, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch of attorneys Kristen Waggoner and Eric Olson; analysis by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and GayUSA’s Ann Northrop and Andy Humm (intro/outro music by PETER TOSH).

Feature: There’s nothing uncommon about the queer holiday blues, but This Way Out music correspondent MATTY McLAUGHLIN found a pop cup of cheer on his way to The Scarlet Coast, the pop duo of David Johnson and Michael Van London (featuring cuts from their forthcoming album, This Wave: In The Dark, Garbage Can and the aforementioned Whoa).


A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending December 10, 2022
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Marcos Najera and Elena Botkin-Levy,
produced by Brian DeShazor

[SOUND – BIDEN:] “It is a good morning …”

U.S. President Joe Biden.

[SOUND – BIDEN:] “Moments ago standing together with her wife Cherelle in the Oval Office I spoke with Brittney Griner. She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances. Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along.”

International women’s basketball star Brittney Griner is home. The Biden administration got Griner back on December 8th in a one-for-one exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as “The Merchant of Death.”

Griner had been sentenced to nine years at hard labor after her February 17th arrest at a Moscow-area airport. She had accidentally left medically prescribed cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage. Bout has been serving a 25-year sentence in a U.S. federal prison since 2012, convicted of trying to sell weapons to a terrorist group intent on killing Americans.

Griner’s plane would land in the early morning hours of December 9th at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. She was scheduled to undergo a routine medical exam. Her wife Cherelle was deeply moved when she joined President Biden at the podium:

[SOUND – CHERELLE:] [long sigh] “So over the last nine months, you all have been so privy to one of the darkest moments of my life, and so today I’m just standing here overwhelmed with emotions. And today is just a happy day for me and my family. So I’m just gonna smile right now.”

U.S. officials tried to exchange Bout for both Griner and Paul Whelan. The dishonorably discharged former Marine has been serving a 16-year sentence in a Russian prison since 2018 on what the U.S. calls trumped up allegations of spying.

The Biden administration has faced harsh criticism from the right for “leaving Whelan behind.” Press Secretary Karine Jeanne-Pierre explained at a White House briefing that Russia views Griner’s drug charges and Whelan’s espionage charges by different standards.

[SOUND -- JEAN-PIERRE:] “This was not for us a choice of which American to bring home. That was not the choice. It was a choice between bringing home one American, or bringing home none. And we brought one home today. And just like we were able to bring home Trevor Reed back in April. And through every step of this process we have sought to bring Paul Whelan home, and that will not change, that will continue to be our commitment.”

Cherelle Griner also acknowledged the complexities:

[SOUND – CHERELLE:] “BG’s not here to say this, but I will gladly speak on her behalf. BG and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home, including Paul, whose family is in our hearts today.”

The Griners have asked for privacy after Brittney is released from the hospital.

Librarians in Moscow began pulling books from their shelves before the ink was dry on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signature on an enhanced “no promo homo” law this week. The bill expanded the 2013 version that applied only to spreading “queer propaganda” to minors. Now the dissemination of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” is illegal for everyone – even foreigners, who can be jailed or deported for breaking it. It applies to all media, including the written word, film and broadcasting, advertising -- generally all forms of public discourse.

The impact of the measure was immediate. Anything that could even remotely be considered “LGBTQ propaganda” has started disappearing. Books by writers branded “foreign agents” are also being dumped in the literary purge, especially content critical of Putin’s war on the people of Ukraine.

Lawmakers in Indonesia approved a bill on December 6th to outlaw all sex outside of heterosexual marriage. Violators can be jailed for up to a year.

It’s part of a revision of the Criminal Code that also makes it a crime to insult the President or express ideas counter to “national ideology,” among other reforms. President Joko Widodo is expected to sign it.

Indonesia’s unique federal legal system is officially secular, but allows Aceh province to be governed under strict Islamic law. LGBTQ people have notoriously been publicly caned there.

Sexual- and gender-variant people live mostly in the shadows in the world’s most populous mostly-Muslim nation. According to a 2019 Pew Research Poll, only nine percent of people in the socially conservative country said that homosexuality was acceptable.

Not only are queer and unmarried Indonesians at risk. The “no sex outside of hetero marriage” laws will also apply to vacationers in the popular tourist mecca of Bali.

Sport New Zealand announced on December 6th that trans and non-binary competitors will be able to play in community sports in their preferred gender. The country’s athletics governing body will not require declarations of gender.

However each elite sport’s governors will individually determine how gender-variant athletes can compete. FINA has already adopted rules that severely limit the participation of female trans swimmers. Supporters of the restrictions assert that trans women have a physical advantage, but that has not been scientifically proven.

Kiwi Laurel Hubbard became the first trans athlete to participate in the Olympics when she competed as a weightlifter in Tokyo in 2021. She failed to make the initial cut.

In the Caribbean, the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba ordered Aruba and Curaçao to open civil marriage to same-gender couples on December 6th. According to the English-language Curaçao Chronicle, the Court decided cases filed by a lesbian couple and queer rights groups on the two island nations. They argued that denying marriage to queer couples violates equality and non-discrimination provisions of the Aruba and Curaçao constitutions. The ruling does not address adoption rights.

The Court of Justice has jurisdiction over Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, and the Netherlands municipalities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. The Netherlands led the world with marriage equality in April 2001, and lesbian and gay couples have been able to legally marry and adopt children in the municipalities since 2012.

A spokesperson for the ruling party in the constituent country of Sint Maarten told reporters that the government has plans to introduce a marriage equality bill in Parliament.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a reconciled version of the Respect For Marriage Act in a barely bipartisan vote on December 8th. Most Republicans voted against it, but 39 of them joined all the Democrats to ice the deal with a total of 258. The majority accepted so-called “religious freedom” amendments that had assured passage in the Senate last week.

Aside from requiring all states to recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples legally performed elsewhere, the bill removed the Defense of Marriage Act from federal law. DOMA banned the U.S. government from recognizing such marriages. Even though it was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013, activists worried that DOMA could be revived in the future by anti-queer lawmakers or courts.

Gay former Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts was among the few voices speaking out against DOMA in 1996. He was an invited guest at the official House bill signing ceremony this week.

[SOUND – FRANK:] “I was here for the birth of DOMA, and so I am very grateful to be here for the funeral.” [laughter]

Finally ...

[SOUND -- JOHN LENNON’s Instant Karma]

… recall the state lawmaker who sponsored Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law earlier this year:

[SOUND – HARDING:] “This is about the fundamental right of parents to have insight and control of what’s going on in their children’s life. It’s not the job of the school district to raise the child, it’s the job of the parent in these extremely sensitive conversations.”

It was not those false statements that got Joe Harding into trouble. He resigned his seat in the Florida legislature on December 8th after federal prosecutors indicted him for wire fraud, money laundering … and making false statements.

What goes around …

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