Two flashback reports in which we covered major high court rulings that led to marriage equality: one in the Canadian province of Ontario, and one 20 years ago this week in the US state of Massachusetts. Featuring Canadian litigant Michael Leshner; Mary Bonauto of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders; Massachusetts plaintiffs Gloria Bailey and Linda Davies, Mike Horgan and Hillary and Julie Goodridge; Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney; Democratic Massachusetts State Representative Phil Travis; Massachusetts U.S. Congressman Barney Frank.(Reporters: Heather Kitching, Greg Gordon)
And in NewsWrap: Latvia’s Parliament creates civil unions for same-gender couples with fewer rights than their heterosexual counterparts, more than a million people celebrate Pride in Buenos Aires demanding anti-bias protections and a comprehensive trans law, the director of Budapest’s Hungarian National Museum was fired this week for allowing young people to see the inclusive World Press Photo Exhibit, a U.S. federal judge has upheld a Florida law that bars transgender girls and women from competing in female sports, another “Rainbow Wave” of local electoral victories buoys Democratic wins in U.S. off-year elections, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and Marcos Najera (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the November 13, 2023 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of November 13, 2023
Stops En Route to US and Canadian Marriage Equality
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Latvia’s Parliament creates civil unions for same-gender couples, although the rights granted to those couples fall far short of civil marriage … more than a million people converge on the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires’ for the city’s 32nd annual LGBTQ Pride Parade [with comments by a Russian lesbian refugee, who with her Ukrainian wife, experienced Pride for the first time in their lives] … Hungary’s government fires the head of the National Museum for not censoring five photos of revered Filipino elders, some in drag, at the prestigious World Press Photo Exhibit when it visited Budapest … a U.S. federal judge refuses to block enforcement of Florida’s ban on trans girls and women competing in female sports … another “Rainbow Wave” accompanies another “Blue Wave” as queer and progressive Democratic candidates win big in off-year U.S. elections on November 7th, including Black real estate professional Fabian Nelson as Mississippi’s first out gay state legislator … DANICA ROEM, who became the first elected transgender lawmaker in Virginia in 2016 becomes in 2023 the state’s first elected transgender state Senator (with an excerpt from her victory speech) … Virginia voters reject Governor Glenn Youngkin’s push for Republican control of both chambers of the state legislature to enact a 15-week abortion ban by keeping his party in the minority in the House of Delegates and losing its formerly narrow control of the state Senate to the Democrats … usually conservative Ohio voters embed a woman’s right to choose in their state constitution … right to choose Democratic Governor Andy Beshears wins a convincing reelection bid against his “right to life” Republican opponent in otherwise generally red Kentucky … New Jersey has its first elected proudly out lesbian lawmaker in Luanne Peterpaul … almost all local school board candidates across the U.S. backed by the rabidly anti-queer book-banning “parents’ rights” group Moms For Liberty lose big … Meg Bryce, daughter of the late far-right Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia whose kids are all in private school, loses in a landslide to a Democratic mom with a queer kid in public school in a local Virginia school board race … and long-serving proudly out lesbian Orlando City Council member Patty Sheehan thumbs her nose at Florida’s drag show ban by inviting in-demand drag star Darcel Stevens to provide the evening’s entertainment at her November 7th reelection victory party (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by TANYA KANE-PARRY and MARCOS NAJERA, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: One little word — “married” — was starting to change the world for North America’s queer couples back in 2003, but it was definitely not just “like that.” In these two flashback reports, we covered major high court rulings on the way to marriage equality: one in the Canadian province of ONTARIO, and one 20 years ago this week in the U.S. state of MASSACHUSETTS: from the This Way Out program of 6/16/03: Same-gender couples in Canada have seemingly crossed the final frontier in the struggle for full legal recognition of their relationships. The province of Ontario's Court of Appeal ruled on June 10th that it was a violation of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms to deny marriage equality to queer partners, but unlike similar rulings by courts in British Columbia and Quebec, the Ontario judges ordered the government to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay & lesbian couples immediately. And as HEATHER KITCHING [Queer FM/CITR-Vancouver] reports, it's almost certainly the beginning of the end of Canada's ban on same-gender marriage. Commenting are MICHAEL LESHNER, one of the litigants who, with Michael Stark, became the first queer couple in North America to be legally married by a judge (with segment intro music from Married by RON RIFKIN, and feature intro/outro music from Wouldn't It Be Nice by THE BEACH BOYS); then, from NewsWrap on the This Way Out program of 11/24/03, anchored by CINDY FRIEDMAN and JON BEAUPRE: Introduced by a brief excerpt from the song “Defenders Of Marriage” by ROY ZIMMERMAN -- with a review of the historic Goodridge versus Department Of Public Health ruling announced on November 18th by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declaring that "barring an individual from the protections, benefits and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution." Coverage includes comments by some of the seven gay and lesbian plaintiff couples who filed the original lawsuit challenging the ban on same gender marriages in the state, GLORIA BAILEY and LINDA DAVIES, MIKE HORGAN, and HILLARY and JULIE GOODRIDGE; attorney MARY BONAUTO from Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the group that represented them; Massachusetts Republican Governor MITT ROMNEY; Democratic Massachusetts State Representative PHIL TRAVIS; openly gay U.S. Congress member from Massachusetts BARNEY FRANK; and ending with the :30 radio spot “Complaints”, among a series of Canadian broadcast ads with the theme “What's Wrong With Gay Marriage” created by Toronto ad agency Zig for an online marriage equality group and P-FLAG (with a brief postscript and an outro music reprise of “Married”).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending November 4th 2023 on
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and Marcos Najera,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Latvia’s Parliament has created civil unions for same-gender couples. The November 9th vote grants them legal recognition, but with fewer rights than their heterosexual counterparts. Activists hoping for more were stymied by changes Parliament made to Latvia’s Constitution in 2005 that define civil marriage as exclusively heterosexual.
The legislation entitles gay and lesbian couples who register their unions with a notary to hospital visitation rights, and tax and social security benefits. However, they have no inheritance rights nor the right to adopt children. The law comes into force sometime in mid-2024.
Former Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs became Europe’s first out gay head of state in July when he was sworn in as President. Recent public opinion polls reveal substantial antipathy for LGBTQ people in the socially conservative Baltic nation. Rinkēvičs vowed to “stand up … for a legal and just Latvia, for the wellbeing of the people, [and] for an inclusive and respectful society.” Hailing the civil unions legislation as “an important step in creating a modern and humane Latvia,” he said that it “sends a signal that all families are important.”
More than a million people celebrated LGBTQ Pride in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires on November 4th. Well-known celebrities rode the always colorful floats blasting dance music, or performed during the festivities that began on October 28th. A recent Russian émigré and her Ukrainian wife told the “Associated Press” what it was like to experience their first Pride:
I’m originally from Russia, my wife is Ukrainian. I am refugee in Argentina here for one year already for being LGBT person and against war activist. And this is amazing feeling I experienced today. This is my first Pride in general. I never saw so many rainbow flags, wonderful people all around joined without fear.
Argentina is one of the more queer-progressive countries in Latin America. It became the first on the continent to open civil marriage to lesbian and gay couples in 2010, and the first to let same-gender couples adopt.
The theme of the march was “Not one more adjustment, not one less right.” Demands included a federal anti-discrimination law and a “comprehensive trans law now!”
Queer activists are united in their concern over the upcoming presidential run-off election on November 19th. Far-right vocally anti-queer Libertarian economist Javier Milei is running against current Economy Minister Sergio Massa, who is seen as a strong supporter of LGBTQ rights. The fear is that a Milei victory will usher in efforts to repeal existing rights laws and create new barriers to equality.
The director of Budapest’s Hungarian National Museum was fired this week for failing to pre-censor the prestigious World Press Photo Exhibit. Five photos of revered queer Filipino elders were included in the exhibit, some of whom are in drag. Laszlo Simon was blamed by the Culture and Innovation Minister of neo-fascist white Christian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government for not banning young people from visiting the showing.
Simon lost to a letter-writing campaign led by the far-right group Our Homeland. They charged Simon with violating the 2021 legislation that bans the “display and promotion of homosexuality” or the discussion of gender issues in materials accessible to children, according to Agence France Presse.
The museum director defended the decision to include the photos because they include no nudity, are not sexually explicit, and have no questionable material. He wrote on his Facebook page, “As a father of four and a grandparent, I firmly reject the idea that our children should be protected from me or from the institution I run.”
A U.S. federal judge has upheld a 2021 law in Florida that bars transgender girls and women from competing in female sports – this according to a report by the News Service of Florida.
U.S. District Judge Roy Altman granted a request by state officials to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the ban on November 6th. Altman’s 39-page decision rested on the notion that “promoting women’s equality in athletics is an important government interest.” He compared the trans ban to “laws prohibiting the blind from flying airplanes or the HIV-infected from donating blood.”
The challenge was filed on behalf of a trans high school volleyball player identified as “D.N.” Altman rejected the plaintiff’s claims that the trans ban violates her due process rights. However the door was apparently left open to another challenge of the law, one based only on alleged violations of the equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution and on Title IX, federal legislation that bans bias based on sex in education. There has been no word yet from them about an appeal.
It was another “Rainbow Wave” of local electoral victories in the November 7th off-year U.S. elections. It accompanied a “Blue Wave” of progressive and Democratic Party wins across the country.
The LGBTQ+ Victory Fund backs openly queer political candidates. According to the group, at least 148 candidates they supported won their races. Here are just a few of them:
Fabian Nelson became the first out gay lawmaker in the state of Mississippi. The Black real estate professional will represent southwest Jackson’s District 66 in the state House of Representatives. He campaigned on better funding for education, supporting small businesses, and expanding government-funded healthcare.
Danica Roem “graduated” to the upper chamber of Virginia’s state legislature with her election to the state Senate on November 7th. She made history in 2016 as the first transgender candidate elected to the lower chamber House of Delegates. The not-so-shrinking violet dedicated her win to all misfits in her victory speech at the Virginia Portuguese Community Center in Manassas:
Like I said six years ago, every person who ever felt like they were a misfit, who felt like they didn’t belong, who felt like they were the kid in the corner, who felt like they needed someone to stand up for them when they felt it was impossible for themselves, we won it for them. [applause] To quote one reporter at the time, the kid in the corner is now the head of the class. And the kid in the corner is now Senator-elect [unintelligible].
Newly elected Virginia State Senator Roem was part of a sweeping win for Democrats and a woman’s right to choose in the state. Governor Glenn Youngkin urged Virginia voters to elect fellow Republicans so that he could pass a 15-week ban on abortion. They instead kept the lower House blue, and flipped the state Senate to blue as well.
In generally conservative Ohio, voters came out overwhelmingly to embed a woman’s right to choose in the state Constitution. Pro-choice Democratic Governor Andy Beshear was re-elected as Governor in otherwise red Kentucky, defeating a Republican challenger who advocated for a total abortion ban.
New Jersey voters elected their first out lesbian state lawmaker on November 7th. Luanne Peterpaul won an Assembly seat representing the 11th District in the central part of the state. She has a long history of public service in law enforcement and as a human rights advocate.
The far right had some high-profile losers on November 7th. Moms for Liberty advocates for “protecting children” from learning about LGBTQ people, disguised as “parental rights.” Almost all the candidates they backed in local school board elections across the country lost, including several incumbents.
Meg Bryce is the daughter of the late rightwing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. She lost her bid for a seat on a local school board in Virginia to Allison Spillman. Spillman won by a crushing vote of 62 to 38 percent. She has five children in local public schools, including one identified on her website as “a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.” Bryce’s four children all go to private schools.
Finally, Orlando, Florida’s local lesbian lawmaker Patty Sheehan won more than 64 percent of the vote to win a record seventh term on November 7th. She first won election to the City Council in 2000.
Sheehan defeated an openly gay man who had campaigned for Donald Trump in 2016. The proud victor thumbed her nose at the state’s embattled drag show ban by inviting celebrated drag star Darcel Stevens to provide the evening’s entertainment.