The marriage equality decade in the U.S. has come full-circle from the December 2012 Supreme Court hearings on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act to the signing of the Respect for Marriage Act on December 13. A flashback to the Supreme Court’s first foray into LGBTQ marriage equality sets the stage for signing the bill that spells DOMA’s demise.
Plus: lesbian activist singing duo Emma’s Revolution builds coalitions — and that’s what they’ve done with a cheery multi-culti holiday track from their Rooted CD.
And in NewsWrap: Barbados high court overturns colonial-era sodomy laws, U.S. Congressional committee hearing links anti-queer rhetoric to hate violence, Ohio anti-trans sports ban withers as legislative session ends, Connecticut’s inclusive athletics policy upheld in federal court, Brittney Griner vows to play ball despite Russian trauma, "Hawai'i's Last Princess" leaves a lesbian legacy, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Melanie Keller and David Hunt (produced by Brian DeShazor).
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of December 19th, 2022
DOMA to Respect & Zeesn Christmas
Program #1,812 distributed 12/19/22
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Barbados becomes the third Caribbean nation this year to dump its British colonial-era anti-queer sex laws against “gross indecency” and “buggery” … a U.S. Congressional committee hears heart-wrenching testimony about rising anti-queer rhetoric and hate violence from Club Q shooting survivors, national leaders like the Human Rights Campaign’s Kelley Robinson, and Pulse massacre survivor Brandon Wolf, who’s now Equality Florida’s Press Secretary … Ohio’s General Assembly kills a bill to ban transgender girls from competing in girls’ school sports after the Senate adds an amendment transferring control of the state’s public schools from the Board of Education to the governor … a U.S. federal appeals court rebuffs a challenge to Connecticut’s laws allowing transgender girls to compete in girls’ high school sports … a New York state appeals court supports students at Yeshiva University seeking recognition by the Orthodox Jewish-centered school of their LGBTQ+ support group, Y.U. Pride Alliance … plaintiffs appeal the rejection by a Japanese court in Tokyo of their marriage equality lawsuit … WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner, who’s at long last home for the holidays with her wife Cherelle, issues her first public comments via Instagram after her 10-month ordeal in the Russian legal system on trumped up “drug smuggling” charges … “Hawai’i’s Last Princess” Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa, who passes away at her Honolulu home at the age of 96, is lauded by her wife Veronica (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MELANIE KELLER and DAVID HUNT, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: The marriage equality decade in the U.S. has come full-circle from the 2012 Supreme Court hearings on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act to the signing of the Respect for Marriage Act this month. We flash back to when President Joe Biden was the prematurely pro-equality Vice President and V.P. Kamala Harris was California’s marriage ally Attorney General … back to December 6, 2012, with a report from MARK MERICLE, ROSE KETABCHI, CHRISTOPHER MARTINEZ, and DAN FRITZ of Pacifica Radio’s California Evening News (with additional comments by KRIS PERRY and DARREL CUMMINGS, and intro music by THE DIXIE CHICKS). Then President Joe Biden ceremoniously signs the Respect For Marriage Act with supporters gathered on the 11 Lawn of the White House cheering him on (with intro music by DAVID RALEIGH).
Feature: The lesbian activist singing duo Emma’s Revolution builds coalitions — and that’s what they’ve done with A Zeesn Christmas from their Rooted CD -- plus a snippet from a fully inclusive seasonal ditty by THE THERAPY SISTERS.
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending December 17, 2022
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Melanie Keller & David Hunt,
and produced by Brian DeShazor
PLESE NOTE: The NewsWrap crew is off for the holidays and will return
on the This Way Out show to be distributed on 9 January 2023.
Same-gender sex is no longer a crime in Barbados. The Caribbean nation’s highest court has overturned its antiquated British colonial-era laws.
The justices concluded that the gross indecency and buggery provisions in Sections 9 and 12 of the Barbados Sexual Offense Act are unconstitutional. Penalties ranged from 10 years to life in prison. The oral decision lifting the ban on same-gender sex was issued this week. A formal written ruling is expected in early 2023.
Kudos for challenging the laws on behalf of two local activists go to the Barbados queer advocacy group Equals and the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality.
Barbados is the third Caribbean nation to dump its laws criminalizing private consensual adult same-gender sex in 2022. Courts struck down sodomy laws in St. Kitts and Nevis and in Antigua and Barbuda this year.
UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Luisa Cabal celebrated the win in Barbados, but she counts six Caribbean countries where same-gender sex is criminal: Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
According to a UNAIDS press release, anti-queer sex laws “sustain stigma and discrimination against LGBT people and stop [them from] seeking and receiving healthcare for fear of being punished or detained. Decriminalization saves and changes lives and builds stronger societies.”
There was heart-wrenching testimony about mushrooming anti-queer rhetoric and hate violence heard before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform on December 14th.
It was the 10th anniversary of the bloody massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Survivors of Colorado’s Club Q shooting described the horrors of the most recent assault on LGBTQ venues. Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson laid much of the blame on Republican state lawmakers. She pointed to the torrent of anti-queer, anti-trans measures, many already approved. The debates have hinged on inflammatory language, such as accusing LGBTQ people, their allies and even queer-supportive healthcare providers of being child-molesting “groomers.” Protests at family-friendly drag shows have also been on the rise – sometimes with violence. In Robinson’s words, the spike in anti-queer hate and violence is “fueled by nearly unfettered access to guns, and political extremism and rhetoric that is deliberately devised to make our community less safe, less equal and less free."
Republican committee members denied any responsibility – they called the Democrats “the party of crime.” The queer advocacy group Equality Florida’s Brandon Wolfe survived the Pulse nightclub shooting. His summary of the crisis was poignant:
[SOUND – Wolfe:] You know, being LGBTQ in America in 2022 means looking over your shoulder before you hold hands with someone you love. It means watching your very humanity being litigated day in and day out on every cable news network and across every social media platform. It is high time that Congress get serious about the cost of anti-LGBTQ hatred and commit to honoring those in its crosshairs with real actions. The simple truth is this: We just want to live. Is that so much to ask?
A bill that would have banned transgender girls from competing in school sports died in the lower house of the Ohio state legislature this week. Not because lawmakers there became “enlightened.” The state Senate had added an amendment shifting control of public schools to the governor rather than the State Board of Education. That was a “poison pill” to a majority in the General Assembly.
Democratic Representative Phil Robinson argued, “This is not the way to do education in the state of Ohio.”
Republican Governor Mike DeWine had said the issue was “best addressed outside of government, through individual sports leagues and athletic associations” and refused to support the original anti-trans legislation.
The current legislative session ends at the end of December. An anti-trans sports ban could be re-introduced next year.
Meanwhile, Connecticut’s policy that allows transgender girls to compete in girls’ high school sports has been upheld by a U.S. federal appeals court. A three-judge panel of the New York City-based Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge by four cisgender runners who claimed that trans competitors had an unfair advantage. The judges ruling as cited by the Associated Press said, “… on numerous occasions, Plaintiffs were indeed ‘champions,’ finishing first in various events, even sometimes when competing against (transgender athletes) … Plaintiffs simply have not been deprived of a ‘chance to be champions’.”
Yeshiva University students seeking school recognition of their Y.U. Pride Alliance have won their case in a New York state appeals court. The four-judge panel unanimously ruled late this week that the Orthodox Jewish-run university was not a strictly religious institution that would make it exempt from the New York City Human Rights Law. According to The Advocate, the panel also decided that requiring Yeshiva University to recognize the Y.U. Pride Alliance would not violate the school’s first amendment religious rights.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a motion for emergency relief in September that asked it to take up the case. By a slim 5-to-4 majority, the justices said that the case needed to first wind its way up the state judicial ladder. Far-right Justice Samuel Alito was the loudest voice in the minority. He wrote, “The First Amendment guarantees the right to the free exercise of religion, and if that provision means anything, it prohibits a State from enforcing its own preferred interpretation of the Holy Scripture.”
To Yeshiva University officials, that Supreme Court loss was a victory of sorts. President Rabbi Ari Berman was quoted by The Times of Israel at the time saying that the high court had “laid out the roadmap for us to find expedited relief, and we will follow their instructions.” The four-justice minority asserted that Yeshiva is likely to win its case if it comes before the Court again. Yeshiva is likely to ask them to do just that.
The plaintiffs in a recently failed Tokyo court challenge to Japan’s ban on marriage equality are appealing the ruling – this according to the Kyodo news service.
The seven lesbian and gay couples have been filing similar lawsuits in Sapporo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka since 2019. One of the original eight couples has withdrawn.
The Sapporo District Court ruled in March last year that denying civil marriage to same-gender couples violates Japan’s constitution. Their Osaka counterparts upheld the ban two months later. District courts in Nagoya and Fukuoka are expected to deliver their rulings in May and June next year.
Activists must use increasing levels of the judiciary to fight for their marital rights because Japan’s conservative government has resolutely opposed any efforts to enact marriage equality at the federal level.
WNBA basketball All-Star Brittney Griner is home for the holidays with her wife Cherelle. She spent eight days of medical exams and “reintegration treatment” at an army base in San Antonio, Texas following her release from a Russian prison.
Griner had been serving a nine-year sentence on trumped up “drug smuggling” charges. In her first public comments since her return, Griner wrote on Instagram, “It feels so good to be home. … The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn. I dug deep to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help.”
That includes her WNBA Phoenix Mercury teammates. Griner intends to compete with them again when the league’s season begins next May. She also thanked the medical staff at Fort Sam Houston Base in San Antonio, saying that, “I appreciate the time and care to make sure I was okay and equipped with the tools for this new journey.”
Finally, Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa was known as Hawai’i’s “last princess” because of her ties to the original ruling royal family.
Princess Abigail was said to be worth more than 215 million dollars, and much of her wealth went to underwriting groups that support traditional Hawai’ian culture.
She died peacefully at her home in Honolulu on December 11th at the age of 96.
Her wife Veronica Gail Kawānanakoa said, "Abigail will be remembered for her love of Hawai’i and its people. I will miss her with all of my heart."