The anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom comes again when a rightwing political backlash threatens the movement toward true democracy. The situation was similar in 2003, when we reported on the 40th anniversary (featuring Martin Luther King III and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Matt Foreman).
A nationally televised 2008 LGBTQ Democratic Presidential Forum presented by the Human Rights Campaign was one of Barack Obama’s first stops on his way to the White House.
And in NewsWrap: the International Chess Federation at least temporarily prevents transgender women from playing against cisgender women, trans social media influencer Wendy Guevara wins the first season of La Casa De Los Famosos México, vandals attack Berlin’s queer Holocaust monument, Williams Institute researchers find that many Florida parents long to escape the “don’t say gay” Parental Rights in Education Act, Baptist-run Baylor University in Texas prevails with a religious exemption case before the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, nonpartisan judicial watchdog group Fix the Court files a misconduct petition against the Texas appeals judge who sent corporate lawyers to a certifiably anti-queer legal hate group for “religious liberty training,” and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Melanie Keller and David Hunt (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the August 21, 2023 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of August 21, 2023
Augusts Past: “Dream” March & Early Obama
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The International Chess Federation at least temporarily bans transgender women from competing against cisgender women in the global chess regulator’s authorized tournaments for women; fan votes make Wendy Guevara the first transgender woman to win a Mexican reality TV show in the first highly-rated season of the country’s version of Celebrity Big Brother; an anti-queer Hebrew Scripture-quoting vandal or vandals try to set fire to a monument in Berlin to queer victims of the Nazi Holocaust; the chair of Florida’s Republican Party responds to a study suggesting that a significant number of parents are considering fleeing the state because of its “Don’t Say Gay” and other anti-LGBTQ laws by welcoming the departure of such “perverts”; the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education affirms the “religious rights” under federal education laws of Waco, Texas-based Baptist-run Baylor University to treat its queer students unequally; and a judicial watchdog group called Fix the Court files a formal misconduct complaint with a U.S. appeals court against Trump-appointed Texas federal judge Brantley Starr in a workplace bias case for ordering lawyers for Southwest Airlines to undergo “religious liberty training” from the certifiably anti-queer Alliance Defending Freedom legal hate group because he didn’t like how the lawyers worded the statement guaranteeing no religious belief-based discrimination he ordered the company to issue to its employees (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MELANIE KELLER and DAVID HUNT, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Organizers are calling the August 26th event this year a continuation rather than a commemoration of the 1963 March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Sixty years later, the family of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and justice activists from a full spectrum of marginalized communities will go back to the Lincoln Memorial. It’s not the first time that the anniversary of the historic demonstration finds a rightwing political backlash threatening the movement toward true democracy in the United States. That’s how it was under the Bush administration in 2003, when This Way Out’s LUCIA CHAPPELLE reported on the 40th anniversary (with music by BARBRA STREISAND and THE MOREHOUSE COLLEGE GLEE CLUB, and featuring The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Martin Luther King III and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Matt Foreman).
Feature: Four U.S. presidential cycles ago, a young Illinois state senator burst onto the scene at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The next time the party met, it selected U.S. Senator Barack Obama as its nominee for the White House. One of Obama’s first stops on the road to his 2008 convention victory was a nationally televised Democratic Presidential Forum presented by the queer advocacy Human Rights Campaign. The candidate was questioned by Washington Post columnist JONATHAN CAPEHART and HRC Executive Director JOE SOLMONESE (with intro music by SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending August 19th, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Melanie Keller and David Hunt,
produced by Brian DeShazor
“Really? Chess?” The National Center for Transgender Equality led a chorus of shocked queer and human rights groups in response to a new policy from the International Chess Federation. It will at least temporarily prevent transgender women from playing against cisgender women. Global competitive chess regulator FIDE’s August 14th announcement says trans women have “no right” to compete in Federation events for women “until further decisions are made … based on further analysis.” Trans women will still be able to play in the open section of FIDE tournaments.
Members at the regulating Council meeting gave themselves “no longer than within [a two-year] period” to settle on a permanent policy. For now FIDE is joining a wave of other international sports governors that have banned or restricted participation by trans women, including swimming’s World Aquatics, World Cycling and track and field’s World Athletics.
The National Center for Transgender Equality called the move, “… so insulting to cis women, to trans women, and to the game itself. It assumes that cis women couldn’t be competitive against cis men — and relies on ignorant anti-trans ideas.”
A trans woman who was not excluded from competition made history in Mexico this week. In an adaptation of the U.S. TV show Celebrity Big Brother, Wendy Guevara won Season One of La Casa De Los Famosos México. More than 18.2 million fan votes made the 29-year-old social media influencer the country’s first transgender woman to win a reality TV series. Well-known personalities showed up among the hundreds of social media posts celebrating the high-profile advance in human dignity for Mexico’s often-embattled transgender community.
Guevara prevailed over a Peruvian actor and TV host, a Mexican entrepreneur-influencer, and a Mexican actor-politician. It began with a group of 14 celebrities living in a house together for 10 weeks, competing in a series of challenges. Viewers of the highly rated show voted out at least one participant every week. Guevara came into the game as an LGBTQ Instagram video star with close to six million followers. Last year she attracted more than a million YouTube views and almost 600,000 streams on Spotify with her first single, Putssy.
She garnered the TV audience’s devotion with her bubbling personality and her hotdog-eating prowess.
Two Berlin monuments to victims of the Holocaust were vandalized this week – one of them specifically dedicated to queer people murdered by the Nazis during World War 2. Police officials say that a man was seen “papering” the monument with slips of paper containing Hebrew Scripture verses condemning same-gender sex. A park security guard chased off the suspect as he tried unsuccessfully to set fire to it.
A second arson attack took place at the ”Platform 17” memorial, which honors Jewish prisoners who were sent to die in concentration camps from the Grunewald train station. That fire destroyed a free library exchange box containing books on the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews. Neither monument suffered any permanent damage.
Located at the edge of the German capital city’s popular Tiergarten Park, the Memorial to Persecuted Homosexuals under National Socialism was unveiled in 2008. A cube with a window insert shows a video of a gay male couple kissing. The attack on it is seen as part of a worrisome recent uptick in anti-queer incidents in Germany. The Berlin-Brandenburg Lesbian and Gay Association condemned both attacks and expressed the hope that the perpetrator or perpetrators would be “caught quickly.”
Florida may be in for a major family migration, as parents consider escaping the “Don’t Say Gay” state. A survey by the queer research and advocacy Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law finds that 40 percent of responding parents have thought about leaving since the passage of the Parental Rights in Education Act. Eleven percent said they were “very likely” to leave the state in the next two years.
That’s just fine with Florida Republican Party chair Christian Ziegler. He told the rightwing Washington Examiner, “if a Democrat voter is passionate and perverted enough to support the sexualization of kids during school in grades as early as kindergarten, then I would agree that Florida is probably not the best fit for them.” Ziegler cited no source for his assertion that, “Over 60 per cent of voters support the actual language in the law, including 55 per cent of Democrats.” According to the Williams Institute study, only 29 percent of Democratic parents supported it.
Zeigler and the Florida Republicans have marched in lockstep with Governor Ron DeSantis and his whole agenda to restrain the rights of queer young people, especially transgender young people. Their war on the queer has prompted national advocacy groups to caution LGBTQ travelers about visiting the state.
The U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights has failed a test presented by LGBTQ students and alumni of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. In late July, Baylor’s religious exemption from federal education laws forbidding discrimination based on sex was affirmed.
Those anti-queer discrimination laws were the basis of the complaints filed in 2021 with the Department of Education. Students charged that they faced harassment and bias from fellow students without repercussion at the conservative Baptist-run school. Baylor’s denial of a charter to the LGBTQ+ student group Gamma Alpha Upsilon and “alleged pressure on university media” to minimize coverage of LGBTQ issues and events was also mentioned. The University cited its rights under federal laws and the Constitution “to conduct its affairs in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs,” which exclude same-gender sex and relationships.
Veronica Bonifacio Penales is one of the disappointed complainants. She told the media, “I am saddened by Baylor’s lack of integrity and accountability to their students.”
Paul Carlos Southwick is the director of the Religious Exemption Accountability Project, an advocacy group that filed the complaint on behalf of Penales. He noted that no other religious-affiliated university in the country has requested such an exemption.
The Biden administration and the federal courts have previously interpreted discrimination based on “sex” to extend to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Seeing Baylor’s exemption granted by a governmental agency tasked with protecting civil rights was especially discouraging to Elizabeth Reiner Platt, director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School. She told The Texas Tribune, “This decision is the latest example of religious exemptions being expanded in ways that undermine equality rights and, ultimately, harm religious communities.”
Finally, a judicial watchdog group has stepped in to stop a Texas judge from sending corporate lawyers to a certifiably anti-queer legal hate group for “religious liberty training.” The small nonpartisan group Fix the Court generally focuses on the U.S. Supreme Court, but on August 15th it filed a judicial misconduct petition with the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans against U.S. District Court Judge Brantley Starr. Starr’s edict came after a jury had already found that Southwest Airlines had violated the religious rights of one of its “pro-life” flight attendants. The company was to make a statement to its employees affirming that they would not be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. The judge ordered Southwest’s lawyers to take the “religious liberty training” from the Alliance Defending Freedom because of a slight variation in the statement’s wording.
Fix the Court called the Trump-appointed federal judge’s order “not reasonable” in its filing, and insisted that “a judge should perform the duties of the office fairly, impartially and diligently.” It asked that Starr be “admonished by the Judicial Council and should be compelled not to assign such a strange and unprecedented penalty again.”
Southwest is appealing both the verdict and Starr’s “religious liberty training” order.
Fix the Court Executive Director Gabe Roth said that ethics training of some sort would not have been out of bounds. However, he pointed to the Alliance Defending Freedom’s anti-queer, anti-woman legal filings, and argued that such training should never be assigned to a group clearly tied to a particular faith. Roth said that Starr’s order “sets a dangerous precedent, and he deserves sanctions himself for this awful judgment call.”