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  • 1. DeadHead  |  August 22, 2017 at 7:02 am

    After Health Care Denial, Gay Couple Suing Mortgage Company – A lesbian couple in California filed a federal discrimination complaint last week after the alleged refusal of spousal health insurance coverage…
    .A lesbian couple from the San Gabriel Valley filed a federal discrimination complaint Thursday against the wife's former employer and its health insurer for allegedly refusing to provide spousal health insurance coverage on an equal basis to heterosexual employees.

    Judith Dominguez, a former employee of Cherry Creek Mortgage Co., and Patricia Martinez, her wife and partner of 29 years, contend the mortgage brokerage and UnitedHealth Group are violating federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on sex, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Affordable Care Act, according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles.

    Representatives for Colorado-based Cherry Creek Mortgage and UnitedHealth Group in Minneapolis could not immediately be reached for comment.

    According to the suit, Cherry Creek told Dominguez in December that the company would no longer offer spousal health care benefits to Martinez, showing Dominguez a policy statement that said the mortgage company only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman.

    "The federal government and Supreme Court has said we're married, that our marriage is no less than any other," Dominguez said at a press conference. "The fact that they're putting my wife's health at risk by doing this is what made us do what we're doing."

    Dominguez alleges the brokerage was retroactively retracting spousal health insurance coverage for her wife for the prior year — leaving the couple faced with tens of thousands of dollars in unexpected charges for care after Martinez's two heart attacks in 2015.

    When the Alhambra couple complained, Cherry Creek fired Dominguez, the suit alleges. "The judge who married us said it was an honor to perform our ceremony," Martinez said. "He told us, `Now you are family.' Cherry Creek doesn't have the right to rip that apart. They can't take our rights away from us."

    The couple and their supporters say they think some companies feel more emboldened under President Donald Trump to violate civil rights laws.

    The mortgage brokerage claims it does not have to provide health insurance benefits to spouses of LGBT employees — yet it markets its mortgage products to same-sex couples, and required Dominguez to attend a mandatory training for selling mortgages to same-sex couples, according to the complaint.

    Cherry Creek is one of the companies that won the landmark Hobby Lobby case in which the Supreme Court ruled that family-owned companies had the religious freedom to deny contraception coverage.

    Some believe that ruling may now extend to issues like same-sex marriage.

    "I feel a little scared, a little insecure that I won't have the government standing behind me," Martinez said.

    But the couple's lawyer, Dan Stormer, feels confident of their chances in court. "I think that the circumstances are dramatically different. I do not see that (Cherry Creek) could prevail on a Hobby Lobby claim."


  • 2. FredDorner  |  August 22, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    There's zero chance of the company prevailing. Very foolish of them to discriminate in that way. The retaliatory firing will bite them too.

  • 3. scream4ever  |  August 22, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Don't compare this case to Hobby Lobby, which was actually quite narrow in its scope.

  • 4. VIRick  |  August 22, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Randy Rainbow Totally Triumphs in Latest Video

    I have been binge-watching Randy Rainbow's gayly-presented song parodies mocking the Trump Admin, after having just discovered the latest one, "Yes, We Have No Steve Bannon Today."

    The song itself, of course, quite gayly parodies the classic Jamaican ditty, "Yes, We Have No Bananas Today," (but then adds, we do have a bigly orange, a pair of cherries, huckleberries, a kumquat, and a dumb squat). It also includes an insane side-interlude, complete with "locks" (and Bannon sucking c*cks) of "Everything Will Be Alt-Right" (a take-off of Jimmy Cliff's reggae,"Everything Will Be All Right").

    There's a whole collection of past performances here:

  • 5. VIRick  |  August 22, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    Colombia: Summary Numbers of Same-Sex Marriages Performed

    Here's a second news article, this one from Caribe Afirmativo of Barranquilla, discussing in detail the number of same-sex couples who were married before public notaries in Colombia nationwide for two time periods: September-December 2016 (a 4-month span when 298 such couples were married, 74.5 per month), and January-June 2017 (a 6-month span with 417 couples marrying, 69.5 per month), with all numbers being provided by the national Superintendencia de Notariado y Registro.

    At the very bottom of the article, the numbers for both time periods are further broken down department by department, with each of 32 departments being listed, even if its number of same-sex marriages for either or both time-spans were zero. To say the least, this is the most complete summary listing yet encountered pertaining to the number of same-sex marriages performed in Colombia.

    The vast bulk (an amazing 94%, or 672) of same-sex marriages occurred in the 13 departments within the heavily populated high-elevation Andean heartland stretching border-to-border, Pasto to Cúcuta (and containing 12 of the top 15 departments), with far fewer (only 5%, or 37) being recorded in the 9 low-elevation northern departments bordering the Caribbean (with only Magdalena for Santa Marta coming in at #10, the rest with even fewer, Bolívar for Cartagena at #14, and Atlántico for Barranquilla at #15), and almost none at all (less than 1%, or just a mere 6) in the far less populated 10 departments in the Amazonas half of the country. Looked at slightly differently, magnifying the concentration further, over 2/3rds of all same-sex marriages occurred within and around 3 major metro areas, Bogotá, Medellín, and Cali, while 9 departments (3 in the North and 6 in Amazonas) recorded zero. Alternatively, if one were to lump the 3 urban Caribbean port areas together with the diagonally-oriented high-elevation Andean stripe which runs all the way across the center of the country, we would account for only 16 of 32 departments, yet those same 16 produced 98.6% (or 705 of 715) of all same-sex marriages nationwide.

    These summary numbers only include the number of couples married within the past 10 months. They do not include couples who married prior to nationwide legalization by the Court, nor do they include marriages performed for the 4 months immediately thereafter, May-August 2016.

    As I understand Colombian law, at least one of the two persons in the partnership must be a Colombian citizen in order for the couple to qualify for marriage in Colombia. By law, foreign couples can not get married in Colombia.

  • 6. VIRick  |  August 23, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Virginia: Lawmakers Seek to Move Confederate Statue

    Two gay members of the Virginia General Assembly said they will introduce bills that would give the city of Alexandria authority to move a Confederate statue from the prominent Old Town site at which it has been displayed since it was first placed there in 1889. Adam Ebbin, a member of the Virginia State Senate whose district includes Alexandria, and Mark Levine, a member of the state’s House of Delegates whose district also includes Alexandria, announced plans to introduce the legislation in their respective chambers within the past week. Both are Democrats.

    The General Assembly is in recess and isn’t scheduled to convene until January for its 2018 session. Ebbin and Levine said they would formally introduce their respective bills at that time. The two said their bills call for repealing an 1890 state law that specifically prohibits Alexandria from removing the Appomattox statue, which depicts an unarmed and unnamed Confederate soldier observing the surrender of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia at the Appomattox Court House in 1865. Ebbin and Levine said their respective bills would also repeal part of a 1950 Virginia state law that prohibits any local municipal government from removing any Confederate memorials or monuments.

    Levine said he plans to introduce a separate bill calling for the state to use its authority to remove from the US Capitol’s National Statutory Hall a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Under a policy set by Congress, each state is allowed to place two statues of its choosing in the Statuary Hall section of the Capitol Building.

    Eight ex-Confederate states, including Virginia, still have statuary at the US Capitol building in DC "honoring" a Confederate personage from their state, with South Carolina and Mississippi having both of their allocated statuary displays "honoring" such.

  • 7. scream4ever  |  August 23, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Formal guidance for trans military ban released:

    It does give Matthis much leway in how to implement it. So far he has indicated that he doesn't want this, so he may try to delay/undermine it.

  • 8. VIRick  |  August 23, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    AMPA Condemns White House Push to Implement Transgender Military Ban

    Per Equality Case Files:

    "Today (23 August 2017), the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of LGBT military spouses and their families, strongly condemned new rules from the White House implementing Trump’s vicious assault on transgender service members. According to a report by the 'Wall Street Journal,' the new guidance will 'allow Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to consider a service member’s ability to deploy in deciding whether to kick them out of the military. The White House memo also directs the Pentagon to deny admittance to transgender individuals and to stop spending on medical treatment regimens for those currently serving, according to US officials familiar with the document.'"

    AMPA's full statement is here:

  • 9. VIRick  |  August 24, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    White House Gives Pentagon 6 Months to Create New Trans Military Ban Policy

    White House guidance on the transgender military service ban Trump ordered via tweet on 26 July 2017 is headed to the Pentagon as soon as this afternoon, or possibly Friday morning, 25 August 2017, a senior White House source told the "Los Angeles Blade."

    The Guidance has been boiled down to a 2½-page memo that directs Defense Sec. Mattis to come up with a policy in six months, stop spending money on transgender-related medical treatment for active-duty trans service-members, and gauges fitness for service based on “deployability” — whether the trans individual can ably serve in a war zone and engage in military exercises or function on a ship for months, officials told the "Wall Street Journal."

    “‎DoD will provide an update upon receipt of formal guidance,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick told "The Washington Blade." “The Department continues to focus on our mission of defending our nation and on on-going operations against our foes, while ensuring all service members are treated with respect.”

    That guidance was also watered down from the complete ban the orange ass-hat ordered to one that would allow active-duty trans service members to continue serving after even Republicans opposed the policy change. The weakened policy requires that recruitment and the accessions policy be halted (they are now), enlistment contracts not be renewed, that promotions result in discharges, and transgender-specific healthcare be prohibited.

    Mattis flagged that he expected the guidance “very soon,” after which “we will study it and come up with what the policy should be,” without giving any specific time-frame to any aspect of it.

  • 10. VIRick  |  August 24, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Further down in the same "Washington Blade" news article, we have an important up-date:

    OutServe-SLDN sent out this angry press release moments after the above news became public. They intend to file a lawsuit with Lambda Legal as soon as they see and scrutinize the 2 1/2 page memo:

    OutServe-SLDN Condemns White House Purge of Trans Service Members

    Washington, 24 August 2017 – Breaking faith with top generals and admirals, Trump’s White House will issue guidance to the Department of Defense, per the "Wall Street Journal," which would effectively purge anyone found to be transgender from the armed services. This policy would purge thousands of currently-serving transgender troops over the coming months and years by denying them reenlistment; threatening to cut off their healthcare; and would make permanent a ban on recruiting transgender troops that was set to expire later this year.

  • 11. VIRick  |  August 24, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Sen. Duckworth Urges Congress to Pass Law Blocking Trans Military Ban

    US Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a decorated military veteran who was severely wounded in Iraq, has called for Congress to block Trump’s announced ban on transgender people in the military.

    “When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter after I was shot down, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white or brown,” Duckworth said in a statement posted today on her Senate website. “All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind. If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve — no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation. Anything else is not just discriminatory, it is disruptive to our military and it is counterproductive to our national security. If the President enacts this ban, which would harm our military readiness, the Democratic and Republican Members of Congress who oppose this discrimination must enact legislation that prevents it from taking effect.”

    Duckworth, a former House member who was elected to the Senate last year, is a Democrat and strong LGBT ally. She was one of the first women in the Army to fly combat missions during the Iraq war. In 2004, she was deployed to Iraq as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard. On 12 November 2004, her helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade, causing Duckworth to lose both her legs and partial use of her right arm. A staunch advocate for service members and veterans, she retired from the National Guard in 2014 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

  • 12. VIRick  |  August 23, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    Lambda Legal Sues the DOE and the DOJ

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 22 August 2017, in "Lambda Legal v. Dept. of Education and Dept. of Justice," Lambda Legal filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in federal court for the Southern District of New York to obtain documents related to the decision of the current administration to withdraw Title IX guidance relating to transgender students. The case has been assigned to Judge Lorna G. Schofield.

    Excerpt from Complaint (full complaint linked below):

    "This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act…to enforce the public’s right to information about Defendants’ withdrawal of guidance relating to Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (“Title IX”) and transgender students. Lambda Legal seeks injunctive and other appropriate relief with respect to Defendants’ unlawful withholding of this information.

    "Pursuant to the FOIA, Lambda Legal has requested records relating to Defendants’ rescission of two guidance documents pertaining to schools’ Title IX obligations with respect to transgender students: (i) an unpublished opinion letter from James A. Ferg-Cadima, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, to Emily Prince dated January 7, 2015…; and, (ii) the Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students jointly issued by Defendants on May 13, 2016 …. Lambda Legal also requested documents related to the Dear Colleague Letter jointly issued by Defendants on February 22, 2017."

    "Lambda Legal is legally entitled to responses to the FOIA Requests that satisfy the statute’s requirement that an agency provide a prompt and thorough search for and production of documents, which in this case were requested more than five months ago. Defendants have far exceeded the statutory and regulatory time limitations to conduct a search and produce the requested documents."

    The full Complaint is here:

  • 13. VIRick  |  August 23, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    EEOC Is Still Fighting for Us and for Civil Rights

    Per Equality Case Files:

    A recent sex discrimination case, "EEOC v. Apple-Metro, Inc. (Applebee's)," was filed on 8 June 2017 in federal court for the Southern District of New York.

    Apple-Metro, Inc., which operates several dozen Applebee's Neighborhood Bar & Grill restaurants in the New York City area, violated federal civil rights law by firing a woman for complaining about sex harassment at the company's Hawthorne NY restaurant, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in the lawsuit.

    "According to the EEOC's complaint, Apple-Metro staff made numerous crude and derogatory references to the employee's transgender status, repeatedly and intentionally referred to her with a male name and male pronouns, and made offensive comments about her genitalia. After the employee complained to management about the harassment on several occasions, the company fired her."

    The full Complaint is here:

    The EEOC press release is here:

  • 14. VIRick  |  August 24, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Costa Rica: PAC Is Pro Marriage Equality in Up-Coming Elections

    Marissa Batalla, presidenta de la juventud del Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC), impulsa la incorporación de la defensa del matrimonio igualitario en el plan de gobierno del candidato presidencial Carlos Alvarado. En conversación con "Diario Extra," aseguró que existe un compromiso del aspirante presidencial de respaldar candidatos a diputado que defiendan un proyecto de ley que incorpore la figura del matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo.

    "Carlos se ha comprometido no solo a lo interno del partido sino que también se ha comprometido con organizaciones de la sociedad civil, como el Frente por los Derechos Igualitarios, con no solo impulsar el matrimonio igualitario sino impulsar personas a la Asamblea Legislativa que apoyen el matrimonio igualitario,” manifestó.

    Marissa Batalla, president of youth of the Citizen Action Party (PAC), promotes the incorporation of marriage equality into the government plan of presidential candidate Carlos Alvarado. In conversation with "Diario Extra," she assured them that there is a commitment from the presidential hopeful to support candidates for deputy who are in favor of a bill that incorporates same-sex marriage into it.

    "Carlos has committed not only internally to the party, but also has committed to civil society organizations, such as the Front for Equal Rights, to not only promote marriage equality but to also push people into the Legislative Assembly who support marriage equality," she declared.

    Time is running out for Costa Rica, so it is good to see that at least one political party there is in favor of marriage equality, and for legislating to make said change happen. In particular, the recently-filed lawsuit against the government of Costa Rica made by a Costa Rican citizen seeking to force the government to recognize his valid Mexican marriage, stands a good chance of winning.

  • 15. Raga  |  August 24, 2017 at 6:45 am

    Landmark judgment today by a unanimous 9-judge constitutional bench of India's Supreme Court, recognizing the right to privacy as a fundamental right, and specifically calling out sexual orientation as an essential attribute of privacy and deserving of Constitutional protection.

    Today's judgment expressly overruled several previous judgments that held that the right to privacy does not enjoy Constitutional protection. While the Court explicitly called out its fateful December 2013 ruling in Koushal that upheld the constitutionality of Section 377 (criminalizing consensual homosexual activity) as bad law, devoting 5 pages to explain why (pages 121-125), it stopped short of expressly overruling Koushal only because a curative petition on the matter is still pending before a different bench of the Court.

    This is great progress, and I'm looking forward to the pending curative petition being quickly acted upon now, in light of today's judgment.

    I recommend reading pages 121-125 of the judgment as it relates to the criticism of Koushal:

    Full judgment:

  • 16. VIRick  |  August 24, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Thank you, Raga. We have missed your expertise.

  • 17. Raga  |  August 24, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    I miss you all too! I've been in India for the past three years, in a crazy-busy job. I do keep an eye on this form and check back for updates on what's happening every now and then! This coming year is going to be big for us again!

  • 18. Sagesse  |  August 25, 2017 at 4:03 am

    Good to hear from you, and that you're happy and well. Like you, I continue to follow the stie, but find little new to contribute.

  • 19. VIRick  |  August 24, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Indian Supreme Court Issues Landmark Privacy Ruling

    A landmark Indian Supreme Court ruling issued on Thursday, 24 August 2017, will likely have implications on efforts to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations in the South Asian country. The BBC reported the judges unanimously ruled that the fundamental right to privacy was “an intrinsic part of Article 21 that protects life and liberty.” They also said “discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.”

    The ruling comes in response to challenges to the Indian government’s plan to implement a biometric identity card system. It also counters the top court’s 2013 ruling that reinstated India’s colonial-era sodomy law, which is known as Section 377. In a separate case, still pending, the Indian Supreme Court in 2016 said it would review the Section 377 ruling.

  • 20. Raga  |  August 24, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    What's more, the judgment cites a plethora of US Supreme Court decisions concerning privacy from Griswold, Roe, Casey to Bowers, Lawrence, Obergefell (quoting Justice Kennedy, of course). See Pages 141-165.

  • 21. scream4ever  |  August 27, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    I think India could have same-sex marriage sooner rather than later.

  • 22. ianbirmingham  |  August 24, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    [India's] Supreme Court Tears Into Its Own 2014 Verdict On Section 377

  • 23. VIRick  |  August 24, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Finland: Parliament Set to Reconsider Gender Recognition Laws

    The Finnish government is set to review its gender recognition laws in a move that campaigners hope will stop forced sterilization for transgender people. Under current Finnish law, a trans person must be sterilized prior to having their legal gender changed. They are also required to be medically diagnosed with “transsexualism” and undergo extensive mental health screening.

    The United Nations Human Rights Council has made several recommendations to the Finnish government to abolish these conditions. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in April that requiring sterilization for gender recognition was a human rights violation. Campaigners hope this ruling will translate into a legislative change when Parliament next meets on 25 August.

    Two other Nordic countries, Denmark and Sweden, had similar conditions for gender recognition, but have dropped these requirements in the last few years.

    Legal gender recognition in Finland dominates everyday life, as the personal identity number (an equivalent of the British national insurance or US social security number) is gendered and is used for everything from payroll payments to library cards. This bureaucratic feature makes it practically impossible for a trans person to not out themselves unless they are legally recognized.

  • 24. Sagesse  |  August 25, 2017 at 4:11 am

    From this morning's NYT

    The Worst (and Best) Places to Be Gay in America – Frank Bruni
    If the Trump administration won’t protect gay people, we’re at the mercy of our ZIP codes

  • 25. VIRick  |  August 25, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    San Franciscans Fighting Neo-Nazis with Dog Poop

    Sometimes counter protesters get in the white supremacy assholes’ faces, but San Francisco residents are taking the power of the butthole to a whole new level.

    As neo-Nazis prepare to rally in the city’s Crissy Field, dog owners are stepping in to give the white supremacists something to step in. Hundreds of canine aficionados are letting their dogs do their business in the park and aren’t cleaning it up. Others are bringing bags of poop they’ve saved from walking their pooch in their own neighborhood just to add to the disgusting landmines. Thus, the entire field is being appropriately decorated in advance of the rally, to the point where there's now a sudden dog-poop shortage in the rest of the city.

  • 26. Fortguy  |  August 25, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    I feel so sorry for the people of the Gulf Coast facing Harvey's onslaught. It's clear now that they can expect even less help from the federal government than the survivors of Katrina.

    In bipartisan fashion, both Gov. Abbott of Texas and Gov. Edwards of Louisiana have declared disaster zones in counties and parishes of their respective states and have both requested the Trump administration to do likewise. So far, Trump has refused–a normally routine move that would free up federal money to local governments for assistance such as opening shelters for evacuees. Instead, like Shrub during Katrina, this president has also chosen to go on vacation for the weekend only this time to Camp David after the flack this past week from reports the Secret Service no longer has money to pay overtime to his security detail after so many vacations he and his family have already taken.

    Instead, Trump is using Harvey and the otherwise slow weekend news cycle to pardon Joe Arpaio, the racist former sheriff in Arizona under criminal contempt for ignoring a federal judge's order to stop racially profiling people. This is on top of the transgender military ban released earlier today.

    At least under Shrub, FEMA was under direction of the incompetent but well-meaning Michael Brown while Trump has yet to appoint a FEMA director. Worse, FEMA's parent department, Homeland Security, is rudderless since its former Secretary Gen. Kelly became Trump's chief of staff.

    It's bad enough Harvey is now a category 4 storm with 130 mph sustained winds at this writing. Normally that would be the big story. With Harvey, the really big story is that the hurricane is not expected to budge from the same coastal area it is now striking for most of the next week. This could surely be one of the most deadly and damaging U.S. storms in recent years rivaling Katrina, Andrew, and Sandy with no one in Washington knowing what the hell they are doing.

  • 27. Fortguy  |  August 25, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Update: Trump has finally signed a disaster declaration as landfall is imminent.

  • 28. VIRick  |  August 25, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    I am eternally grateful that Harvey got past us (and the rest of the Caribbean/Central America area) before deciding to blow up into the monster storm it has become. Earlier, I had issued a personal warning to Allan in Honduras to be on guard, as I had anticipated that it could well develop into something much bigger far quicker than it actually did.

    On the plus side, the National Hurricane Center in Miami and the associated Hurricane Hunters appear to be scientifically-oriented professionals with all the latest sophisticated equipment needed to do their jobs in a timely, accurate manner. Unfortunately, one can not say the same for FEMA or HHS, let alone the ass-hat-in-charge, off on yet another weekend sojourn, without authorizing any federally-approved preparations whatsoever.

    In addition, Texas may not have done enough on its own to properly prepare. The Governor of Texas has only declared a "state of emergency" for 30 Texas counties, whereas the governor of Louisiana has declared a "state of emergency" for the entire state.

    Oh wait! Still, too little, too late:

    Trump Signs Disaster Declaration for Texas as Hurricane Harvey Makes Landfall

  • 29. Fortguy  |  August 25, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Also, thanks to Gov. Abbott's support of SB 4, the new law requiring local police to assist in enforcing immigration law, many families who have undocumented family members are caught in the Catch-22 of risking apprehension by evacuating through potential police checkpoints or staying put in dangerous locations. I don't believe the law takes effect until Sept. 1, but much of the general public doesn't know that nor do many more conservative law enforcement officers care.

  • 30. VIRick  |  August 25, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami (at midnight EDT):


    Trump, ever-proud of himself, all wrapped up in his own magnanimousness, finally issued his disaster declaration at 9:46 PM EDT on 25 August 2017, despite the fact that Governor Abbott had sent in the request sometime yesterday, and that both Texas senators, Cornyn and Cruz, had been urging him, all day long, to grant the request.

    Aransas Bay,– is this Louis Gohmert's district that's being hammered? Sorry, it's Farenthold's. Aransas County is immediately adjacent to, and north of Nueces County (Corpus Christi).

  • 31. Fortguy  |  August 25, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Rep. Blake Farenthold is this guy in the ducky pajamas meeting with his most favored constituents. A three-judge federal redistricting panel has recently ruled his district is unconstitutionally configured. (Thank God!)

    Louie the Loon represents an East Texas district in the Piney Woods based in Tyler.

    San Patricio County separates Nueces from Aransas. San Patricio has a naval base, oil refineries, and suburban Corpus communities.

  • 32. VIRick  |  August 25, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Holy shit!! That hurt my eyes, while simultaneously frightening me. Good luck getting any disaster relief to the area in question with THAT as one's congress-critter.

    I knew the area had one of the nuttier whack-jobs as their representative, but with so many lunatics and escapees from assorted mental health facilities representing Texas, it's difficult to keep them all sorted out.

  • 33. Fortguy  |  August 25, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    Ironically, Blake's step-grandmother was Frances "Sissy" Farenthold who was a leader of progressive Democrats in Texas in the early 1970s. During the Sharpstown Scandal of 1971, she was one of the "Dirty Thirty" House legislators, a block of left and moderate Dems and GOPers, who challenged the conservative Dem leadership long entrenched in state politics. Back then, the state Dems were still dominated by hard-core conservatives who only half a decade before were clamoring for continued segregation. The GOP was mostly meaningless at the time.

    As a result of the scandal, just about anyone even slightly whiffed by taint of the scandal was thrown out of office defeated either by progressives in the Dem primary or GOPers in the general election. Sissy was the exception being defeated by Dolph Briscoe, a conservative without connection to the scandal, in the '72 Dem primary by a very narrow margin. She would lose to Briscoe again in '74 as governors served only two-year terms back then.

    Despite her loss, the '73 Legislature was firmly in the control of a lib-mod Dem and GOP coalition that proceeded to pass campaign finance and open government reforms to cripple the historic Tory Dems. They could have done so much more had she won.

    Blake not only was the apple who fell far from the tree, he was dropped-kicked so far beyond sight of the tree it's ridiculous.

  • 34. Fortguy  |  August 25, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Also, to be begrudgingly fair to Gov. Abbott, most of Texas' 254 counties will be in no way affected by this storm. I live in the far-west Trans-Pecos region. My town experienced a light afternoon rain today, same as we have nearly every day over the past two weeks, but that was due to the normal summer monsoonal flows that we experience routinely and completely unrelated to Harvey which is expected to slowly move even further away from us.

    Texas stretches more than 900 miles from both north to south and east to west. It would stretch the realm of credulity for him to declare everything including El Paso, Amarillo, DFW, and Texarkana as disaster zones at this point.

    Conversely, Gov. Edwards in Louisiana may have overstepped by including Shreveport and Monroe in his disaster declarations.

  • 35. Fortguy  |  August 25, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Update: The eye of the storm has made landfall between Port Aransas and Port O'Connor. The biggest city in its current, immediate path while still a hurricane is Victoria with a population of approx. 65,000.

  • 36. VIRick  |  August 26, 2017 at 12:10 am

    On 26 August 2017, the 2 AM CDT up-date from the National Hurricane Center in Miami places Harvey, just inland and still at Category 3 status, at:


    Rockport is a coastal town on Aransas Bay and the county seat of Aransas County. It already caught the western wall of the hurricane's eye while still a category 4. Victoria, a bit inland, but in its direct path, is the largest city and the county seat of Victoria County.

    Note: I have survived the eye and the eye wall of a category 4, while literally huddled in the closet all night with the dogs, one of whom, in the aftermath, would rescue dozens of people. For hours on end, the entire house vibrated and windows exploded, sending glass shards flying across the rooms to impale into the closet doors or the opposite wall. And then the rain,– and giant trees crashing down,– wash-outs, mudslides, and hideous flooding, like it would never quit.

    Afterward, it took everyone, working as an ad hoc team, with chain saws buzzing, 4 days before we could dig ourselves out. Plus, with every strong back available, we even had to flip an entire roof off the road and down an embankment. The entire time, we were waist-deep in rotting rain forest litter. It was only after we had cleared a path that the Red Cross came around looking for survivors. After all, if we couldn't get out, they couldn't get in. Of course, by that point, I had a whole houseful of refugees, with more constantly showing up, as the dog kept finding more. There wasn't another house left standing (or tree, or anything green) as far as one could see to my immediate west.

    The old French people who have survived many hurricanes here told me to ignore official advice and to not board up. Instead, following their advice, I stuffed everything of any value into large plastic garbage bags and then cranked the large floor-to-ceiling windows open and let the hurricane rip right on through the house. Windows exploded because I hadn't opened them far enough, once the winds had exceeded 100 mph. And at that speed, even inside the house, one can not successfully walk "upwind" to open them further. The wind smashed the front door lock and then ripped the door right off its hinges, and was never to be found afterward. Instead, for example, we found someone else's ruined wedding pictures, blown all the way across the island.

    In addition to the standard hurricane clips, before any hurricane had hit, in a burst of total butchness, we had retro-fitted the entire house with 5-inch bolts, tying walls to floor, walls to each other, walls to roof, in every direction and angle possible. And that's why the house vibrated so badly, as the hurricane-force wind unsuccessfully strained to yank off the roof. But with open windows, the pressure differential between inside and outside remained the same. Most roofs pop due to the trapped high-pressure air inside, while the extreme low pressure air is immediately outside. Of course, afterward, the inside of the house looked like a pig sty, but the roof held, and the structure of the house remained intact. But one of the vehicles was crushed after it took the full force of a neighbor's flipped roof. A second vehicle missed being totaled by a hair, when a giant tree slammed down practically on top of it.

  • 37. ianbirmingham  |  August 26, 2017 at 7:16 am

    Great story, VIRick! How long did it take to apply all the bolts?

  • 38. VIRick  |  August 26, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    The retro-fitting with those 5-inch bolts was an on-going project that spanned a number of months. We first had to rip out all the old interior paneling, then drill holes in the studding to insert the bolts, and then put up new paneling. It was not something one could do in a short time-span while under a hurricane warning.

    The bolts in question are the biggest, thickest, longest ones that Home Depot carries in its regular stock. They sell-out in a heartbeat at the slightest hint of an approaching hurricane.

    Also, I live at high elevation on a steep mountainside, definitely in tropical rainforest territory. The house, like practically all the houses here, is cantilevered outward over the hillside, and is larger than its foundation. So, we have several additional problems that would not apply to Texas. First, hurricane wind-speeds dramatically increase at higher elevations. For example, all the houses with million-dollar wrap-around views were utterly gone. Then, because of the low-pressure updraft, a lot of debris is flung upward, up the mountainside, and can jam in under the cantilever, and batter it from below. However, we also have a thick grove of mango trees directly below the house which successfully impaled and snagged someone's entire flying roof before it could reach the house. But when someone else's deck blew apart, the lighter, airborne 2x6s punched holes into my roof, allowing the rain to pour in.

    And in the aftermath, did I yet discuss the rotting stench and the swarms of bugs? And no electrical power for 3 months. And no communications. And no more gasoline. And credit cards which had become instantly useless.

  • 39. ianbirmingham  |  August 27, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    In your situation I would strongly consider rooftop solar panels in addition to wind turbines, both of which could generate electrical power for you even after a hurricane.

  • 40. VIRick  |  August 27, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    The Virgin Islands boasts of (once) having had the Western Hemisphere's largest single oil refinery. It began as Hess Oil. Then, it doubled in size and became Hovensa, after the Venezuelan government bought a 50% share in the expanded facility. Then Chavez because president of Venezuela, and in a fit of pique, cut off the oil flow to Hovensa, effectively shutting down the facility.

    The up-shot of that poorly-planned Venezuelan decision has been three-fold:

    1. After much legal wrangling, the Virgin Islands government expropriated Hovensa for breach of contract and for failure to pay taxes, and has re-sold the facility to other operators, refusing to pay a dime of the proceeds to the Venezuelan government (thus, we officially remain on each others' shit-lists).

    2. In the meantime, the Virgin Islands government undertook a major investment binge in solar power farms. We now have entire south-facing hillsides covered with them. There's even one (FAA-approved) in the grassy space running alongside the full length of the airport runway. Plus, local residents have been given all sorts of tax breaks/rebates for installing their own rooftop panels.

    3. The local dual-purpose government-run electrical power/water desalinization plants have switched from burning oil (from Venezuela) to propane (from Trinidad), a product which is cleaner, reliably-available, and far less expensive. So, Venezuela can keep its oil. We are no longer dependent upon it.

  • 41. VIRick  |  August 26, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    On Saturday, 26 August 2017, at 1 PM CDT, Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical storm. Its present location is:


    It is moving to the NNW at just 2 mph, meaning that it has damn-near stalled, and that that whole area of east-central Texas is moving into the catastrophic flooding stage.

    At 4 PM CDT, it is in the same spot, while the torrential rains continue.

    The first death from Rockport has been reported.

  • 42. ianbirmingham  |  August 25, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    ACLU: Trump's pardon of Arpaio 'a presidential endorsement of racism'

    (My headline would be) Trump: "Arpaio, you're doing a heck of a job!" (Alluding to W's infamous praise for the grossly incompetent "Brownie" during Hurricane Katrina)

  • 43. VIRick  |  August 26, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Re: The Arpaio Pardon

    Arpaio isn't out of the woods quite yet. The reality was the judge probably wasn't going to put 85-yr old Arpaio in federal prison (the maximum sentence was only 60-days). However, she was probably going to give him a hefty fine.

    The bad news for him is what happens next. As I understand it, a pardon doesn't erase the conviction, just the sentence. He'd need an expungement to make the conviction itself go away. With the conviction in place, he is open to civil suits. Further, his active defiance of a court order may cause him loose his civil immunity to suits as an "agent" of the county and state. It may also cause the state/county to decline to indemnify him where he is sued jointly along with the state/county. This includes paying for HIS defense and HIS portion of any civil judgments. Also, a pardon negates his ability to invoke a self-incrimination defense against testimony. Our buddy Joe will be required to provide truthful depositions and testimony in every case brought in this matter.

    He has the rest of his life to look forward to being in and out of court, paying crippling legal fees.

    The state/county has already paid out over $140 million to settle litigation in over 13,000 cases, some involving his persecution of staff, but many involving the victims of his "round-up" actions, like their deaths during detention.

    Even the most conservative of Hispanic organizations have condemned the Arpaio pardon, to the point where one will no longer be able to use the words "conservative" and "Hispanic" in the same sentence. Certainly not in Arizona, and very probably not anywhere else in the USA, not even among Cuban-Americans. The negative ethnic implications are just too strong and too self-evident.

  • 44. VIRick  |  August 26, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Wisconsin School Board Seeks Certiorari in Transgender "Bathroom" Case

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 25 August 2017, in "Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District," the case wherein which a transgender boy is suing his Wisconsin school district over discriminatory treatment, the Kenosha School District has filed a petition of certiorari seeking Supreme Court review of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in favor of the trans student, Ash Whitaker.

    The Petition for a Writ of Certiorari is here:

    A statement from the Transgender Law Center is here:

  • 45. VIRick  |  August 26, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Pennsylvania: Judge Denies Preliminary Injunction in "Fake Outrage" Bathroom Case

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 25 August 2017, in "Doe v. Boyertown Area School District," the case wherein which four high school students were suing their Pennsylvania school district because they must share a locker room with transgender students, Judge Smith has denied the plaintiff students' motion for a preliminary injunction.

    The terse Order denying the preliminary injunction is here:

    An excerpt from the extended Opinion:
    "Here, the court is presented with four students, three who will be seniors for the upcoming 2017-18 school year and one student who recently graduated, claiming that the defendant school district’s practice of allowing transgender students (who the plaintiffs choose to identify as “members of the opposite sex” rather than as transgender students) to access bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity violates (1) their constitutional right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment, (2) their right of access to educational opportunities, programs, benefits, and activities under Title IX because they are subject to a hostile environment, and (3) their Pennsylvania common law right of privacy preventing intrusion upon their seclusion while using bathrooms and locker rooms. The plaintiffs not only raise concerns with being in privacy facilities with transgender students regardless of whether the transgender students actually view them in a state of partial undress, but they raise concerns with the possibility of viewing a transgender person in a state of undress or having a transgender person present to hear them while they are attending to their personal needs while in the bathroom. At bottom, the plaintiffs are opposed to the mere presence of transgender students in locker rooms or bathrooms with them because they designate them as members of the opposite sex and note that, inter alia, society has historically separated bathrooms and locker rooms on the basis of biological sex to preserve the privacy of individuals from members of the opposite biological sex.

    "The plaintiffs now seek a preliminary injunction which would require the school district to cease its practice and return to the prior practice of requiring all students to only use the privacy facilities corresponding to their biological sex. The plaintiffs have a heavy burden here because they are not seeking to preserve the status quo that has existed since the start of the 2016-17 school year and instead are seeking to have the school district cease its current practice.

    "The court has thoroughly reviewed all evidence in the record and has considered the parties’ well-articulated arguments in support of their respective positions. After reviewing the entire record, the court finds that the plaintiffs are not entitled to preliminary injunctive relief because they have not shown that they are likely to succeed on the merits on any of their causes of action and they have failed to show irreparable harm. Accordingly, the court will deny the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction."

    The Memorandum Opinion is here:

  • 46. davepCA  |  August 26, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    I just got back home from spending the day in San Francisco. Wow, what a day! After meeting with friends at breakfast, I heard that there was going to be a counter-protest against some alt right group who was scheduled to have a demonstration at Alamo Park. That group chickened out and never showed up, but the counter protest went ahead.

    It started with a makeshift stage at Castro and Market with a series of people speaking from various groups and organizations, including the National Center for lesbian Rights (yay!!), labor representatives, and several organizations that advocate for people of color, minority religions, and immigrants. The last speaker was Cleve Jones, who then led us in a march down Market Street all the way to City Hall at Civic Center Plaza.

    At about the half-way point, more than a mile from the start, Market reaches the bottom of a hill and then you can look back up and see the entire length of the street behind you, all the way back up to Castro Street. I was at the very front of the march, and looking back up you could see that the entire street was completely FILLED WITH THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE, stretching all the way back to the top of the street. It was amazing. I haven't seen that sight since the very biggest of the marriage equality marches a few years ago.

    Then, when we reached Civil Center Plaza, we were surprised to see that there were already THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE who had come from various other directions, separate from our huge march down Market Street, and they were already filling the entire massive plaza in front of City Hall….

    Another stage had been set up there, and it turned into a huge celebration / demonstration / protest / party.

    I'm badly sunburned and my feet are killing me and I have not been this happy since some time well before last November. This was very encouraging. We are not alone.

  • 47. FredDorner  |  August 27, 2017 at 11:20 am

    While you were celebrating this happened in one of the less enlightened regions in California:

    Tastries, a Bakersfield, California bakery, is the latest to declare that it won’t bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The business’s bigotry was exposed by Sam Salazar, a customer who was refused service by the bakery after he said the cake he was ordering would be for a gay wedding.

    Wrote Salazar on Facebook: “Tastries Bakery… so we just went with some friends to do a cake tasting for a wedding cake and we were referred to another bakery. Apparently they don’t “believe” in same sex marriage, so they refused to make the cake. I’m not even sure how to react or feel right now. So just be aware if you choose to spend your money there.”

    Sorry to harsh your mellow but I can't believe anyone in California thinks they'll get away with that crap. I suspect the bakery will be out of business even before the state has a chance to take action.

  • 48. scream4ever  |  August 27, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Bakersfield is quite conservative.

  • 49. bayareajohn  |  August 27, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    To understand Bakersfeild, listen to the angst, anger, and fatalism of the band spawned there… KORN.
    "Did my time…."

  • 50. davepCA  |  August 27, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    Aaah, Bakersfield. Nuthin' but gun racks, meth labs, and 'Yes on 8' bumper stickers as far as the eye can see…. What a shit hole.

  • 51. scream4ever  |  August 27, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    The only worse place is in the state is Porterville, the lone municipality to endorse Prop 8, and later rescinded a Pride month proclamation.

  • 52. VIRick  |  August 27, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    UAE: Transgender Woman, Ear-Ring Wearing Friend Imprisoned for Crossdressing

    A transgender woman and her male friend have been imprisoned for a year in the United Arab Emirates for wearing women’s clothes. The pair, who are from Singapore, were first approached by police at a shopping mall in the country’s capital of Abu Dhabi two weeks ago. They have since been charged, gone on trial, and been sentenced.

    Nur Qistina Fitriah Ibrahim, a pre-op trans woman, was in the city for a photo shoot when she was arrested with her friend Muhammad Fadli Bin Abdul Rahman, a fashion photographer. An official court document misgendered Ibrahim, stating that two Singaporean men were caught wearing women’s clothes in public and behaving indecently, according to the Singapore newspaper, "The Straits Times." Ibrahim, 37, had often travelled to the UAE in the past without encountering any difficulties, said friends, who call her Fifi. Her younger sister said: "Fifi has not undergone gender reassignment surgery, so her personal documents still state her gender as male."

    Rahman, 26, was wearing a white t-shirt, bow tie, and earrings when police approached the pair at Yas Mall in the east of the city. He has reportedly created photo spreads for magazines such as Esquire, as well as with fashion brands, including Burberry. His brother, Muhammad Saiful Bahri Bin Abdul Rahman, told the AP: “I hope to bring my brother back to Singapore as soon as possible."

  • 53. VIRick  |  August 27, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Chile: Partido Amplitud‏ Supports Marriage Equality

    Amplitud Chile anuncia respaldo a proyecto de matrimonio igualitario con adopción y filiación. El partido de oposición e integrante del pacto “Sumemos” adelantó que votará a favor de la iniciativa legal que este lunes, 28 de agosto 2017, el Gobierno presentará en La Moneda.

    Amplitud Chile announces support for the marriage equality bill with adoption and filiation (artificial insemination). The opposition party and member of the "Sumemos" pact announced that it will vote in favor of the legal initiative that the Government will present at La Moneda this Monday, 28 August 2017.

    Although part of the opposition, this announcement is tempered by the fact that Partido Amplitud only has one sitting senator (of 38), meaning in effect, that Lily Jovanka Pérez San Martín, la senadora por la Región de Valparaíso, will be voting in favor of the proposal.

    On a broader positive note, in the most-recent parliamentary election, the New Majority governing coalition (comprising 6 political parties and an assortment of Independents backing President Bachelet's candidacy) won back control of both chambers of Congress, winning 12 of the 20 contested seats in the Senate, for a total of 21 out of 38 total seats, and 67 of the 120 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

    The governing coalition consists of Christian Democrats, Socialists, Democracía, Communists, Radical Social Democrats, Broad Social Movement, plus the assorted Independents.

  • 54. JayJonson  |  August 27, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    It would be wonderful if marriage equality came to Australia and Chile by the end of the year.

  • 55. allan120102  |  August 27, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    a vote in favor will pretty seal the deal in Australia so by the end of the year a vote in the end of thr year looks really likely. Chile if approve it will probably be in 2018 as once a law its propose and send it travel chanmbers the constitutional court etc. Another thing base om polls it looks like Sebastian piñera is likely to win. He is against lgbt marriage so chile will probably put the brakes there.

  • 56. VIRick  |  August 27, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Allan, pertaining to the marriage equality proposal in Chile, I have read (and agree with the notion) that because this proposal is the result of a mutually-agreed court settlement made by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), based in San José, Costa Rica, between the State (Estado de la República de Chile) and MOVILH, that once the two legislative bodies act in a positive manner and pass the measure, and a measure to which MOVILH also had to agree (and did so this past week), that the issue can then by-pass the Chilean Constitutional Court, and that Bachelet can immediately sign it into law. The State has already made an agreement, and a commitment to obey said agreement, not the Socialist Party or the Christian Democrats, or any specific coalition or administration. Normally, however, from measures originating from within the Chilean Legislature, once passed, they would then need to be submitted to the Constitutional Court to determine their constitutionality, prior to the Presidential signature.

    Never mind the current opposition's noise in Chile. If he were to win the presidency, Piñera is just as bound to the court settlement as is the curent administration, because it is the State which has made the agreement.

    In fact, the Costa Rican State (Estado de la República de Costa Rica) is facing the same issue before the same court because any settlement made before the IACHR is always written in that manner, binding the State, not a specific individual, political party, coalition, or administration. That way, the opposition can not weasel out of said binding agreements at a later date.

  • 57. Elihu_Bystander  |  August 28, 2017 at 8:01 am

    New suits against Trump over transgender service members.

    This one is by lambda legal

    Karnoski v. Trump

    (SEATTLE, August 28, 2017) – Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN today filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Trump administration’s ban on military service by transgender individuals. The lawsuit—brought in response to President Trump’s formal issuance of directions to military authorities late Friday—was filed on behalf of two individuals who seek to join the military; one current service member who seeks appointment as an officer; the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization; and Gender Justice League, a gender and sexuality civil and human rights organization, headquartered in Seattle.

    The Lambda Legal attorneys working on the case are: Peter Renn, Jon W. Davidson, Camilla B. Taylor, Tara Borelli, Natalie Nardecchia, Sasha Buchert, Kara Ingelhart, and Carl Charles. They are joined by co-counsel Peter Perkowski of OutServe-SLDN. Also on the legal team are pro-bono co-counsel at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Newman Du Wors LLP.

    The lawsuit is Karnoski v. Trump. Read a copy of the complaint here:

  • 58. Elihu_Bystander  |  August 28, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Stone v Trump – Complaint

    This is the ACLU of Maryland’s suit.

    Here is the link to the 39-page complaint.

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