China Troubadours & Word!

A fond “Bon Voyage!” to Portland’s Gay Men’s Chorus as they head for a historic tour in China.

Outcasting Overtime confronts “the Q word” from the perspective of a new generation.

The Shadow President author analyzes the US Vice President’s prayerful politics.

Lagos birthday party arrests accelerate Nigeria’s anti-gay crackdown, Bermuda’s Court of Appeal imports judges for marriage equality hearing, Taiwan to undertake marriage equality vote, U.S. Supreme Court keeps Philly’s foster care bias ban in force, and more international LGBTQ news.

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of September 3, 2018

China Troubadours & Word!

Program #1,588 distributed 09/03/18
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Fifty-seven men who say they were at a birthday party at a Lagos, Nigeria hotel banquet hall are caught up in a raid and charged with “committing homosexual acts” and “belonging to a secret cult” … Bermuda’s Court of Appeal announces that it will hear from November 7th to 9th yet another government challenge to yet another Supreme Court marriage equality ruling … anti-equality forces in Taiwan apparently qualify a petition to offer same-gender couples less-than-marriage “civil unions” after the island’s Grand Council of Justices ordered lawmakers to pass a law opening civil marriage to queer couples by May 2019, while LGBTQ activists reportedly qualify a dueling petition to declare marriage equality – both referenda to be on the ballot on November 24th … it’s anti-bias protections for LGBTQ people versus so-called “religious liberty” as the eight-Justice U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs a Roman Catholic fostering agency’s request for an injunction against the city of Philadelphia in ongoing lower court litigation over the Catholic agency’s refusal to consider fostering applications from same-gender couples … the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the federal Fair Housing Act requires landlords to protect LGBTQ tenants from fellow tenants’ anti-queer abuse and harassment; sixteen U.S. states challenge the notion that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that bans workplace bias based on sex includes protections for LGBTQ people in a “friend of the court” brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court … and more global LGBTQ news (written by GREG GORDON, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, and reported this week by MICHELE YEATER & BRIAN DESHAZOR).

Feature: Several months ago the Beijing Queer Chorus came to Portland, Oregon, and This Way Out correspondent STEVE SIMS (on loan from his own Queer, Not Weird radio show) brought us their story. Now the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus is in China to return the favor, and Steve helped see them off (with cameos by the BOSTON GAY MEN’S CHORUS and the BEIJING QUEER CHORUS).

Feature: LGBT people who object to the use of the word “queer” usually cite that word’s negative legacy. But what happens when the word “gay” becomes a pejorative? The Outcasting Overtime crew has a few words on the subject (LUCAS introduces ALEX, produced by MARC SOPHOS).

Feature: By all accounts, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence not only fervently believes in God, but, more dangerously, he’s sure that God believes in Pence … and that all the madness of the Trump Administration is God’s mysterious method to elevate Pence and his conservative, “godly” agenda. Pulitzer Pride-winning writer Michael D’antonio talked about his new biography of Pence, The Shadow President, on CNN (intro’d by a semi-out-of-tune high school band performance of Onward Christian Soldiers and outro’d by a quickie Dixieland-style Jesus Loves Me by SAM LEVINE).

Satisfying your weekly minimum requirement of queer news and culture for more than 30 years!

NewsWrap

A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBT communities for the week ending September 1st, 2018

Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, and reported this week by Michele Yeater and Brian DeShazor

A court in Nigeria has charged 57 men with “committing homosexual acts” and “belonging to a secret cult.” Each faces up to 14 years in prison. The charges against each man also include three counts of conspiracy, and being at an unlawful gathering.

The arrests this week in a hotel banquet hall in Lagos come on the heels of a similar raid on a hotel room in the southeastern state of Abia in mid-August that netted six men.

A few of the defendants in the latest anti-queer crackdown in Nigeria denied being gay, and told the local Premium Times newspaper that it was a birthday party for one of the men. Some also insisted that there were several women at the party who were getting dressed up in a nearby room, and that police officers told any of them that they saw to just leave.

All 57 men entered not guilty pleas during their arraignment on August 30th, and each was ordered by the magistrate to be remanded unless bail equivalent to about 600 U.S. dollars could be posted. The case was adjourned until September 10th.

Nigerian authorities continue to trumpet multiple arrests of gay people. Forty-two men attending an HIV/AIDS education workshop in a hotel conference room in Lagos last year were infamously arrested and also charged with committing “homosexual acts.”

Bermuda’s Court of Appeal is uniquely composed of foreign judges flown in for each specific case. It was announced this week that they will hear an appeal November 7th through 9th of rulings by Bermuda’s Supreme Court rebuffing the government’s efforts to overturn marriage equality.

A law repealing marriage equality in the British Overseas Territory and replacing it with inferior domestic partnerships took effect on June 1st this year. It gave the Caribbean island the distinction of being the first national government in the world to repeal marriage equality. But five days later, the portion of the law that re-banned marriage equality was struck down by the Supreme Court, the same court that had first legalized marriage equality in May 2017.

If the Court of Appeal rules against it, Bermuda’s government could make one final appeal to the United Kingdom Privy Council, where opponents of marriage equality would probably face an uphill battle.

Anti-queer forces in Taiwan have apparently gathered enough signatures to force a referendum on marriage equality.

The island’s Grand Council of Justices ruled in May 2017 that limiting civil marriage to heterosexual couples was unconstitutional. However, they gave lawmakers until May 2019 to pass marriage equality legislation. If members of the Legislative Yuan don’t act by May of next year – and they seem reluctant to do so – marriage equality would come into force by default.

But a petition with more than 650,000 signatures demanding a public vote on the issue was submitted to election authorities this week by a group calling itself Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance. The referendum language specifically denies marriage equality to same-gender couples, and requires “using means other than marriage” to legally recognize those couples. If the Central Election Commission confirms the required number of valid signatures, a referendum would likely take place on November 24th to coincide with local elections already scheduled for that date.

Anti-queer foes have already brought in Brian Brown of America’s National Coalition for Marriage, which, having failed to stop marriage equality in the U.S., has been actively promoting discrimination elsewhere. With subtitles translating his message into Mandarin, Brown urges voters to support the referendum and “protect marriage in Taiwan.”

LGBTQ activists have reportedly qualified a competing referendum to establish marriage equality, insisting that civil unions or something similar is not equality.

While a referendum cannot directly overturn a Constitutional Court ruling, recent news reports say that the government is required to propose laws that comply with referenda outcomes. So the government would have to propose marriage equality or some kind of civil unions law, depending on the referenda results. If a civil unions law were enacted instead of marriage equality, that action could apparently trigger a new lawsuit.

In other news, the U.S. Supreme Court refused this week to force the city of Philadelphia to allow the foster care placement of children with Catholic Social Services. The Church-backed agency refuses to consider applications from same-gender couples. The high court rejected without comment the agency’s request for an injunction that would have required the city to allow it to place children in foster homes headed only by heterosexual couples while litigation over the issue continues in lower courts.

A majority of Supreme Court Justices are required to grant an injunction. Even though it’s short one Justice with the pending nomination by Donald Trump of Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Anthony Kennedy, only three of the current eight-member Court voted to grant the injunction: Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Trump-appointee Neil Gorsuch.

Catholic Social Services claims that considering same-gender couples as prospective foster parents would amount to endorsing marriage equality, which Church doctrine strongly opposes. The city of Philadelphia insists that every fostering and adoption agency abide by its anti-discrimination laws, which include protections for LGBTQ people. Using an increasingly familiar argument, Catholic Social Services, which is part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is claiming that the city is violating its Constitutional rights to religious freedom and free speech.

In yet another lower court affirmation of the rights of LGBTQ people to be free from discrimination, the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that under the federal Fair Housing Act, a landlord can be liable for not protecting a tenant from documented discriminatory harassment by other tenants. The Chicago-based 7th Circuit, which reviews cases from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, decided that elderly lesbian Marsha Wetzel had been subjected to verbal harassment and abuse at the hands of other residents of Glen St. Andrew Living Community, a Chicago suburb senior housing facility – including three separate physical assaults – and that the landlord “can be held accountable for purposefully failing to protect [her].”

Equality activists say the 7th Circuit decision represents a significant interpretation of the Fair Housing Act in declaring that the law protects LGBTQ people from discrimination. Karen Loewy of Lambda Legal, which is representing Wetzel, called it “a tremendous victory.”

The lawsuit can now continue in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which had dismissed the case. “The court today struck a blow for me and for all senior citizens — gay or straight — who deserve to feel safe and to be treated with respect,” Wetzel said in a Lambda Legal press release. “That’s not too much to ask. No one should have to endure what I endured because of who I am.”

 

Meanwhile, a group of 16 states is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that companies can fire workers based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity without violating federal workplace anti-discrimination laws. They argue that Congress didn’t intend the ban on discrimination based on sex in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to cover lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender employees. A few lower courts have already ruled that Title VII does, indeed, protect LGBTQ people, while other courts have rejected that idea.

The August 23rd “friend of the court” brief, spearheaded by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, specifically targets an appeals court decision against a Michigan funeral home that fired a transgender worker – currently being considered for review by the U.S. Supreme Court – and asserts that Title VII’s protections based on “sex” are limited only to biologically born women. A total of 13 Republican attorneys general, including those representing Texas, Alabama, Kansas, and Utah, signed on to the brief. Three GOP governors — Kentucky’s Matthew Bevin, Maine’s Paul LePage, and Mississippi’s Phil Bryant — also joined in the court filing.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide in the coming months whether to take up the Michigan case. It’s been asked to consider two other cases testing whether bias based on sexual orientation is also a form of sex discrimination banned under Title VII.

And finally, a judge in the state of Utah made news this week when he declared that 74-year-old Bonnie Foerster was legally wed to her common law spouse Beverly Grossaint, who died in May at the age of 82, a few weeks after the couple celebrated their 50th anniversary together.

Their attorney Roger Hoole proposed the unusual action. Judge Patrick Corum decided that the couple could be considered married since December 20th, 2013, when the state opened civil marriage to same-gender couples – or even sometime in 1968, when the couple began living together, although that would require a more complex legal process.

According to Corum, this was Utah’s second posthumous marriage of a same-gender couple. A previous case declared a woman married to her deceased partner, who had died in a car crash.

Bonnie Foerster, who says Beverly Grossaint was her “soulmate,” told the Salt Lake Tribune that she was “numb from happiness. I’m a married woman,” she said. “I’ve waited fifty years!”

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