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Open thread UPDATE


This is an open thread. We’ll post any breaking news.

UPDATE: Lambda Legal is asking the Supreme Court to review their challenge to Mississippi’s sweeping anti-LGBT law known as HB 1523. Former US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli is joining as co-counsel along with Paul Smith, who argued Lawrence v. Texas before the Supreme Court.


  • 1. VIRick  |  October 10, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Canadian Passports to Include the Option "X"

    Los Passaportes Canadienses Incluirán la Opción "X"

    A partir del jueves próximo, 31 de agosto 2017, los canadienses dispondrán una nueva forma de identificar su género en pasaportes y otros documentos del gobierno: la "X" se unirá a las opciones, hombre y mujer.

    La decisión de permitir la tercera categoría, que indica un género "no especificado", tiene como objetivo proteger los derechos de los canadienses a identificarse por el género de su elección, dijo el departamento de inmigración del país al anunciar el cambio. Ahmed Hussen, ministro de Inmigración, Refugiados y Ciudadanía, dijo en un comunicado que la designación se agregó para avanzar en "la igualdad para todos los canadienses, independientemente de la identidad o expresión de género."

    Al menos otros ocho países ofrecen una tercera opción en pasaportes o tarjetas de identificación nacional. Esos países son: Australia, Bangladesh, Alemania, India, Malta, Nepal, Nueva Zelandia, y Pakistán.

    Starting next Thursday, 31 August 2017, Canadians will have a new way of identifying their gender on passports and other government documents: the "X" will join the options, male and female.

    The decision to allow the third category, which indicates an "unspecified" gender, aims to protect the rights of Canadians to identify themselves by the gender of their choice, the country's immigration department said in announcing the change. Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, said in a statement that the designation was added to advance "equality for all Canadians, regardless of gender identity or expression."

    At least eight other countries offer a third option on passports or national ID cards. These countries are: Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand, and Pakistan.

  • 2. VIRick  |  October 10, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Greece: New Law Passed Easing Legal Recognition for Transgenders

    Lawmakers in Greece have just passed a bill which makes it radically easier for transgender people 17 years and older to legally transition by removing the need for trans people in Greece to undergo sterilization to have their gender legally-recognized. However, trans people will need to be single to access the process, possibly forcing some couples to divorce against their will. And a judge will have to decide if the person’s gender expression/presentation matches their gender marker before legal recognition is granted.

    Children between the age of 15 and 17 will also have access to the legal gender recognition process, but will still need to obtain a certificate from a medical council.

    Previously, trans people were required to have had gender reassignment surgery and to have undergone psychiatric assessment in order to change their gender marker.….

  • 3. VIRick  |  October 10, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Germany: First Same-Sex Couple Approved to Adopt

    A gay married couple has become the first same-sex pair to adopt a child in Germany. Michael and Kai Korok, who live in Berlin, were told by authorities today, 10 October 2017, that their adoption has been approved, the Lesbian and Gay Association Berlin-Brandenburg said.

    Michael and Kai were among the first partners to get married after same-sex marriage officially became legal in Germany on 1 October, just 10 days ago. They have been fostering children for several years, and have cared for their son since shortly after his birth.….

  • 4. VIRick  |  October 10, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    India: Several Transgender Up-Dates

    India's First Transgender Police Officer

    Prithika Yashini has started her dream career as India’s first-ever transgender police officer. After an arduous battle with the courts, Yashini became the first trans person to be accepted into an Indian police force when she joined the state of Tamil Nadu’s police force in southern India back in February 2016. She graduated training earlier this year, and on Monday, 9 October 2017, reported for her first day as a Sub Inspector in the Law and Order unit at Choolaimedu police station.

    Since Yashini’s acceptance into the force, three more trans women have passed the police academy application process, and are soon due to become police officers themselves.….

    Naval Officer Fired after Undergoing Gender Reassignment Surgery

    A transgender naval officer has been fired after going through gender reassignment surgery. Sabi Giri, who has been an officer in the Indian Navy since 2010, was explicitly let go for this reason alone, the navy told the BBC in a statement which repeatedly mis-gendered the officer.

    Sabi, a marine engineer, said she would appeal to the military court against her sacking, adding that she would continue to fight for justice. The navy said: “The individual chose to undergo irreversible gender reassignment on his own accord.” The statement added that Sabi was guilty of “willfully altering his gender status from the one he was recruited for at the time of his induction.”

    India’s Supreme Court issued a landmark verdict in 2014 which created a new category, allowing transgender people to identify themselves as such on official documents. But trans citizens, as well as other LGBT people, are still banned from serving in the military.….

  • 5. VIRick  |  October 10, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    A Reminder: "Coming Out" Day is Tomorrow

    11 October: International "Coming Out" Day

    11 de Octubre: Día Internacional de Salir del Closet

  • 6. allan120102  |  October 10, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    In here its a great analysis of Queretaro and how they will get the 5 resolution directly from the supreme court.

  • 7. ianbirmingham  |  October 10, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Muslim-majority Kosovo gets its first Pride Parade

  • 8. TheVirginian722  |  October 11, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Kim Davis Is Touring Romania To Encourage The Government To Ban Gay Rights

    Disgraced Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, infamous for going to jail over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is taking her anti-gay sideshow on the road. The lawless government official is in Romania exhorting citizens to take away the civil rights of gay people.

    Davis is touring the country with Harry Mihet, Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel for her attorneys at the religious right legal organization Liberty Counsel. The group has been designated an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    American fundamentalist Christians have joined forces with the Orthodox Church to try to change Romania’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The country’s laws currently define marriage as between “two spouses” and the advocates want it changed to “man and woman.”

    Under Romanian law, the constitution can be changed if at least 500,000 residents petition the government for a change. The Coalition for the Family, a religious right group backed by the church, collected over 3 million signatures on the petition.

    The petition was certified by the country’s highest court and is awaiting approval by the Senate. Parliament must approve any revisions before it goes to a national referendum. Proponents hope to hold the vote this autumn, but Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, has opposed the change. The largest opposition party also opposes it.

    Davis and Mihet are having meetings with high ranking officials with the Orthodox Church, are giving speeches across the country, meeting with members of Parliament, and blitzing the media with anti-gay rhetoric and untruths. The two are using Davis’ jail sentence to “warn” Romanians that allowing same-sex marriage will bring back communist-era bans on religion.

    “I am so glad for this amazing opportunity to finally introduce Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis personally to my Romanian people,” said Mihet, who was born in the country. “Her story resonates loudly with them, and they are receiving her tearfully and very warmly, because they can still remember the not-so-long-ago days when they were themselves persecuted and imprisoned for their conscience. The freedom of conscience transcends national, cultural, religious and denominational lines, and Romanians are determined to prevent such injustice from ever happening again in their country.”

    In 2015, the hate group breathlessly announced that Davis had met with Pope Francis during his visit to the United States to discuss religious freedom, a claim the Vatican quickly debunked. The Pope did not know who Davis was when an Archbishop snuck her into a private reception. The Archbishop was later replaced and the Vatican issued a strong response to clarify the meeting was not a show of support for the lawless government official.

  • 9. guitaristbl  |  October 11, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    As controversial as it sounds if I was in charge of national security I would bar her from entering the US again based on her actions abroad. She learned nothing. But I suppose the LC pays her again a bunch of money. Sick, sick, sick individual.

  • 10. VIRick  |  October 11, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    Guaynabo, Puerto Rico: The Real Post-Hurricane Story

    Guaynabo is an up-scale suburb of San Juan where, a week ago, the Assh-ole-in-Charge threw rolls of paper towels at the assembled throng who were brought there from a near-by shelter. Guaynabo also has the largest concentration of English-speakers on the island, where many residents, in very plain English, curtly informed him that, rather than be in Guaynabo, he needed to visit the ravaged, mountainous interior to see the real devastation. Still, to quote directly from the article:

    “(In Guaynabo), there’s no electricity, and (municipal) water has arrived at two or three neighborhoods, but very few,” said Roberto Garcia, assistant to Guaynabo’s mayor, Ángel Pérez Otero.

    In the meantime, the Puerto Rico death toll has officially climbed to 45 (and unofficially, is in the hundreds), while 90% of residents remain without electricity (down from "only" 84% doing without as of yesterday), and half of residents are still without any water whatsoever, contaminated or not, while the sewage treatment system has been virtually wiped out.

    Thousands remain trapped at the San Juan International Airport, increasingly desperate to depart the island. Due in large measure to the insanely short-sighted and bigoted attitude of the Assh-ole-in-Charge, expect an absolute horde of individuals to migrate to the mainland in the coming months, in a continuing wave that will completely eclipse all previous migrations. Since all flights are currently to either Miami or Atlanta, about the only side-benefit one can foresee would be the permanent flipping of both Florida and Georgia into the Democratic column, as pissed-off Puerto Ricans WILL vote.

    Post-hurricane personal up-date:

    Now that I am safely on the mainland and have internet access, I've just completed two tasks for my partner so that he, too, has an opportunity to leave the island, at least for a time. First, at his behest, I completed the on-line request at his US-based company for his 3-week vacation-time. I then went ahead and obtained the required flights for him, with dates to match the vacation request.

    Despite having delayed my own return, I am now beginning to dread the inevitable. Here's why: Even though I have seen the optimistic forecast that electricity might be 90% restored by Christmas (an optimism which itself may not prove to be real), there still will not be any internet service, or much else. The electric power company owns all the utility poles (broken or otherwise), and has first choice on replacing their own poles and wires. The telephone company has second choice (and can not begin in any given area until after the power company completes whatever it needs to do). And cable TV comes third. Depending upon the service provider, our internet service comes via either #2 or #3. After one of the previous hurricanes, it took the phone company over 6 months and the cable TV people 2 years before they could restore their respective services.

    Still, I need to return. Among a host of concerns: A vehicle needs its windshield replaced. The house roof needs to be re-coated with sealant (and quite quickly). The entrance deck needs replacement, as does the entrance canopy. The house next door needs a roof beam replaced, as well as a fresh application of roof sealant. The washing machine may well need replacement. Roof gutters on both houses need attention/replacement. Both houses have homeowners insurance through a company based in Puerto Rico. We have not heard a word from them. Following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, almost all the insurers went bankrupt or pulled out of the market. As a result, in 1995, with Hurricane Marilyn, despite damage, we survived without any homeowners insurance. I expect a repeat. And the list goes on.

  • 11. VIRick  |  October 12, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Bayamón, Puerto Rico, and a Looming Leptospirosis Epidemic

    Bayamón is an adjacent up-scale San Juan suburb to Guaynabo. However, in the latest Puerto Rico horror story, Bayamón has seen a fatal outbreak of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease contracted through contact with urine from infected rodents (which in Puerto Rico usually means rats).

  • 12. ianbirmingham  |  October 12, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    VIRick, I've got your Internet technology right here:

    Step 1: Find anyone within a line of sight who has good Internet connectivity

    Step 2: Make a deal with them to allow you to connect your small dish to their Ethernet and power & then mount it so that it points directly at your house

    Step 3: Install identical small dish at your house pointing directly at the other dish

    Step 4: Follow manufacturer's directions for optimizing speed of wireless link

    $300 gets you both small dishes (a complete wireless point-to-point link)

    Available now in Miami:

    To create wireless Internet links between islands, use $700 Gigabit dishes:

    Available now in Miami:

  • 13. VIRick  |  October 11, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Celebrity Cruises: Legal Same-Sex Marriages Onboard Ships in International Waters

    Per Rex Wockner:

    Same-sex couples can now be legally married on Celebrity Cruises ships sailing in international waters, the Miami-based cruise line announced Wednesday, 11 October 2017. The move follows the passage of a marriage equality law this summer in Malta where most of its vessels are registered, Celebrity said.

    Malta’s legalization of same-sex marriage, which happened in July by a 66-1 vote by the country’s parliament, and which went into effect from 1 September 2017, also means captains on its ships can now officiate these ceremonies. Effective immediately, Celebrity will begin taking bookings for same-sex weddings.

    Industry competitors Cunard, Princess, and P&O (UK) have already announced that they will also host same-sex weddings onboard, starting in January 2018. Cunard's fleet is registered in Bermuda, where a favorable High Court ruling has effectively legalized same-sex marriage.

  • 14. VIRick  |  October 12, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Denmark: Danish Team Supports USVI Hurricane Recovery

    Per St. Thomas Source of 11 October 2017:

    The Danish Emergency Management Agency, funded by the Danish Ministry of Defense, is now on the ground locally in both St. Croix and St. Thomas and has joined forces with US federal and territorial emergency groups, supporting the US Virgin Islands’ recovery efforts from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

    Stephenson Family Donates $5 Million for USVI Hurricane Relief

    St. Thomas, USVI – Five million dollars has been officially pledged for US Virgin Islands hurricane relief efforts by the Stephenson family, which operates International Capital & Management Company (ICMC) and other businesses in the territory. Richard J Stephenson, ICMC Founder and Chairman, and his daughter Annie Stephenson Hostetler, announced the donation at a 10 October 2017 news conference held at the West Indian Company Limited (WICO) conference room on St. Thomas. The Stephenson family chose to make the news of their donation public in order to encourage others to contribute. In addition to pledging $5 million to the recovery effort, the Stephensons have helped evacuate residents and have brought in much needed supplies.

    Per press release of the USVI Dept. of Tourism of 11 October 2017:

    The airports on St. Croix and St. Thomas are now open to commercial flights, and one of the flagship hotels on the island of St. Croix, The Buccaneer, has announced it is accepting reservations for leisure guests arriving on or after 1 November 2017. The historic property received minimal damage to its infrastructure and has remained open to accommodate relief personnel.

    The Department of Tourism reports JetBlue Airways has resumed commercial service to the territory. This service is in addition to American Airlines operations at both the St. Thomas and St. Croix airports, as well as Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines service to and from St. Thomas. Inter-island flights by Air Sunshine, Cape Air, and Seaborne Airlines are also operational.

    The official website to donate to the US Virgin Islands recovery effort is:
    <a href="” target=”_blank”> <a href="” target=”_blank”> .

    <a href="–VIRGIN-ISLANDS-GETTING-BACK-TO-BUSINESS-FOLLOWING-SEPTEMBER-STORMS.html?soid=1101882102592&aid=mWeEqeJI74c” target=”_blank”>–VIRGIN-IS

    Impotant Note: In yet another public relations fiasco, United Airlines has pointedly refused to resume any service to Aguadilla, San Juan, Providenciales, St. Thomas, or St-Martin.

  • 15. allan120102  |  October 12, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Breaking news from Guerrero, Same sex marriage has been suspended in the state since March of this year. This is a big setback for the state in terms of equality. Lgbt activist are outrage by this but now couples will need amparos to get married in the state.

    The director of the Civil Registry of Zihuatanejo, Luciano Pineda Quiroz said that since March, equal and child marriage in the entire state of Guerrero has been suspended, he also explained that it was an order that came from the federation to the entity, the which is based on the agreements that Mexico has with the United Nations (UN), where supposedly the purpose is to protect human rights. "As of March no more egalitarian marriages were carried out, nor marriages older than 16 years because before with the consent of the parents they could marry." Recently the UN gave the order that marriages will not take place children in all countries that are part of international treaties, with the justification of protecting children and human rights in the country, since this marriage, unites men and women 16 and 17 years of age, despite the fact that the children do not want to do it, only the consent of their parents is needed. Reason why, Pineda Quiroz said that since March this action was stopped in Zihuatanejo and the other municipalities of Guerrero; in regard to egalitarian marriages announced that it was for the same reason, because of the treaties that Mexico has with the UN, in that sense he said he did not have so much knowledge of the subject, because he said that he only follows the orders of the state coordination. "By UN agreements in international treaties that Mexico has as a country." It should be recalled that in Zihuatanejo, 12 egalitarian marriages were held so far in the current administration, however since March the Civil Registry offices stopped issuing that document to persons of the same sex, nor to children under 18 years of age. In this regard, the Head of the Department of Gender Diversity, Carlos García Yáñez considered that the ban is a setback for Zihuatanejo society, pointed out that despite the fact that equal marriages had not yet been officially approved by Congress, less the LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transexual) community had the opportunity to marry in the Civil Registry, but regretted that now the government robs them of a right they have as human beings. "A little out of tune, although the state congress had not approved, officially not, if we had the advantage that if I was allowing the civil registry that if I could carry the link without any problem and now are practically banning that and yes it's a setback. "

  • 16. VIRick  |  October 12, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    Roy Moore Took Massive Amount of Cash from "Religious" Non-Profit

    Roy Moore, the current Alabama Republican US Senate candidate was removed from the state supreme court twice for breaking the law. Now, the "Washington Post" is reporting that the scofflaw skimmed over a million dollars from his hate group which has been masquerading as a religious charity. Moore claimed he did not take a “regular salary” from the Foundation for Moral Law, saying he didn’t want to be a financial burden. However, the "Post" investigation has revealed that Moore was taking $180,000 a year as the group’s president to do part-time work. Currently, Moore’s wife, Karen, ostensibly is the president of the group, and at least two of their children have been employed there.

    The group organized when Moore was first ousted from the bench for installing a huge Ten Commandments monument in the court building and refusing to remove it when it was found to be unconstitutional by a federal court. The group was originally called the Roy Moore Legal Defense Fund.

    Moore was suspended again (after being re-elected by voters a decade later) for refusing to abide by the US Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

    Karen Moore was paid $195,000 over a three-year period after her husband stepped down from the foundation and she took over the reigns of the organization. However, only her salary was reported in public tax filings and to the IRS.

    The organization’s first application for non-profit status was denied when the IRS determined it “operated for the benefit of private interests.” The "Post" investigation is full of financial details, tax forms, and record-keeping fact-finding information.

  • 17. Elihu_Bystander  |  October 14, 2017 at 5:59 am

    Here is a link to The Washington Post article:

  • 18. Elihu_Bystander  |  October 14, 2017 at 6:08 am

    I still believe everyone should write an email to their senator asking them in the very likely event that Moore is elected to refuse to seat Moore as a senator.

    Here is a copy of my email to my two senators:

    The Honorable Senator __________________________
    Subj: Judge Roy C Moore

    As a concerned citizen, I am deeply troubled about the moral and ethical standards held by candidate for Senate Judge Roy C Moore. He has twice been removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for defying an order of a Federal District Court or the Supreme Court of the United States.

    I understand differences of opinion and political party affiliation, but these have nothing to do with Moore’s candidacy. He does not have the requisite moral or ethical standards to be a member of the United States Senate. If that were not enough, his unsavory character has been further exposed by “The Washington Post” article: Undisclosed deal guaranteed Roy Moore $180,000 a year for part-time work at charity. By Shawn Boburg and Robert O'Harrow Jr. 11 October, 2017.

    In the very likely event that Judge Moore should be elected to the US Senate, I ask you to oppose his being seated as a Senator on moral and ethical grounds. Thank you for your concerns about this very important matter.
    Don E Siegal,
    Three Rivers CA
    Friday, 13 October, 2017

  • 19. VIRick  |  October 12, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Tlaxcala: Marriage Equality Bill Presented in State Legislature

    Per Sandra Corona Padilla‏, Nueva Alianza, diputada estatal del distrito 14 en Tlaxcala:

    Hoy, 12 de octubre 2017, presenté iniciativa en el congreso de Tlaxcala para matrimonio igualitario, con el que se respetarán los derechos de mujeres y hombres por igual en Tlaxcala.

    Per Sandra Corona Padilla, Nueva Alianza, state deputy of district 14 in Tlaxcala:

    Today, 12 October 2017, I presented an initiative in the Tlaxcala congress for marriage equality, one which will respect the rights of women and men alike in Tlaxcala.

  • 20. VIRick  |  October 15, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Tlaxcala: Marriage Equality Up-Date

    Per Ricardo Baruch D.:

    Nueva Alianza propone legislar matrimonio igualitario en Tlaxcala. Hasta el momento, (en Tlaxcala), ha habido 2 bodas (del mismo sexo) por amparo, la primera fue entre mujeres y la segunda entre hombres.

    En sesión ordinaria de ayer, 12 de octubre 2017, la coordinadora de este fracción, Sandra Corona Padilla, propuso diversas adhesiones al Código Civil, espificamente para sugerir en que Tlacala el matrimonio sea considerado como la unión entre dos personas, y no como la unión entre una mujer y un hombre, como actualmente está estabelecido.

    Nueva Alianza proposes to legislate marriage equality in Tlaxcala. So far, (in Tlaxcala) there have been 2 (same-sex) marriages by amparo, the first was between women and the second between men.

    In yesterday's ordinary session, 12 October 2017, the coordinator of this party, Sandra Corona Padilla, proposed various changes to the Civil Code, specifically to suggest that in Tlaxcala marriage be considered as the union between two people, and not as the union between a woman and a man, as currently established.

  • 21. VIRick  |  October 13, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    San Juan International Airport Up-Date

    As of today, 13 October 2017, the mass migration out of Puerto Rico through San Juan International began in earnest. Although not all scheduled flights actually flew, the following airlines had confirmed departures to the following destinations:

    American – to Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas, Miami (3), Philadelphia

    Delta – to Atlanta (3), New York JFK (3)

    Frontier – to Orlando, Philadelphia

    Jet Blue – to Boston, Ft. Lauderdale (3), New York JFK (3), Newark, Orlando (2), and inter-island to Punta Cana, Santiago DR, St. Croix, St. Thomas

    Southwest – to Baltimore, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando (3)

    Spirit – to Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando (2)

    United – to Chicago, Houston, Newark

    Inter-island, Cape Air – to Mayagüez (2), St. Croix (2), St. Thomas (2), Tortola (3), Vieques

    Seaborne – to St. Thomas, St. Croix, Tortola, St-Martin, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Dominica

    Internationally, COPA flew to Panamá, Avianca to Bogotá, and Iberia is to go to Santo Domingo and Madrid.

  • 22. FredDorner  |  October 13, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    I hope all those folks remember to update their voter registration wherever they settle.

  • 23. VIRick  |  October 14, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Assh-ole-in-Charge Claims He Met with President of the Virgin Islands

    Yesterday, 13 October 2017, while giving a speech before some right-wing, conservative hate-group, the Assh-ole-in-Charge quite clearly stated that in regard to the post-hurricane trauma, he met with the President of the Virgin Islands, after which he then grinned in a self-congratulatory mode of self-satisfaction.

    No, not exactly. In fact, not at all. Apparently, on the very day I left St. Thomas, 3 October 2017, he briefly met with the Governor of the US Virgin Islands, Kenneth E. Mapp, onboard a US naval ship, at sea in US territorial waters, somewhere between Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, and most likely close to the former US NAS at Roosevelt Roads.

    Unfortunately for all concerned, the President of the Virgin Islands is himself. But then, since he already has his head totally up his ass, in a rather perverse way, one could argue that there might be some substance to his ridiculous claim. Still, by keeping him confined onboard a US Naval vessel at sea, he was not given the opportunity to throw rolls of paper towels at us, as he did in Puerto Rico.

    Hear him grossly mis-state the facts here, currently in article #20 at BuzzFeed:

    Just one day prior, at a congressional hearing in DC, Rick Perry, the so-called Energy Secretary, referred to Puerto Rico as a country.

    Kenneth Mapp was born and grew up in Brooklyn, where he became an NYC cop. He later accepted a position with the USVI police force, and was eventually promoted to Chief of Police on St. Thomas. He then ran for and was successfully elected Governor of the US territory known as the US Virgin Islands.

  • 24. VIRick  |  October 14, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    Puerto Rico, the US Pharmaceutical Industry, and the USA

    Due to FDA rules, all pharmaceuticals sold in the USA must be manufactured within the jurisdiction of the USA so as to allow the FDA to adequately inspect the product at source. And because of tax incentives and a slightly lower minimum wage, a whole host of worldwide pharmaceutical companies, from Bayer to Novartis to Hoffmann-La Roche, gearing their products at the US market, have located their production/packaging plants in Puerto Rico. Every town of any size on the island has at least one such facility, while on the outskirts of San Juan, they line both sides of the autopistas. Overall, at least 25% of all drugs, across-the-board, stamped "Made in USA," and sold on the mainland, are produced in Puerto Rico, with a much higher percentage for certain specific drugs.

    This particular article focusses on the potential shortfall in HIV medications throughout the USA during the upcoming months as a direct result of the impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico and its pharmaceutical industry:

    Everyone has been duly warned. Those who are on a regimen of prescription medications, please do your best to stock up on your supply now, while you still have the chance,– or be planning a trip to Mexico where the same products are much less expensive and where no looming shortfall is to be anticipated.

  • 25. VIRick  |  October 14, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    San Juan International Airport Up-Date

    Today, 14 October 2017, the number of non-stop passenger flights departing San Juan International for the US mainland increased from yesterday's total of 36 to 50, thus increasing the total number of seats from around 9,000 to 12,500.

    American added a 4th flight to Miami and a 2nd to both Charlotte and Philadelphia. Southwest added 2 flights to Baltimore, and new flights to Houston, Newark, and Tampa. Delta added a 4th flight to Atlanta. Jet Blue added 2 flights to Ft. Lauderdale, plus one additional flight each to Boston, JFK, and Orlando. Viewed slightly differently, yesterday 16 (of 36) flights went to Florida, while today 21 (of 50) did so, that is, on both dates, more than 40% were destined for one of 4 cities in Florida.

    The number of inter-island flights increased from 22 to 30. Seaborne operated the first post-hurricane flight to/from Anguilla, while Jet Blue resumed service to Santo Domingo. Cape Air added 6 flights, but no new destinations.

    St. Thomas Airport Up-Date

    Both American (to Miami) and Delta (to Atlanta) continue to operate just one non-stop flight each. However, Spirit Air has returned, with one flight to Ft. Lauderdale, while Jet Blue operates one large jet to its San Juan hub for further connections there throughout its network. There were 9 additional inter-island flights.

  • 26. VIRick  |  October 15, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    EEOC Employment Discrimination Case Favorably Settled

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 5 October 2017, in "Broussard/EEOC v. First Tower Loan, LLC," a transgender man's employment discrimination suit against a Louisiana financial services company, has been favorably settled.

    New Orleans – First Tower Loan, LLC, a financial loan company based in Flowood MS, agreed to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and implement gender identity protections.

    In September 2015, the EEOC intervened in a suit, "Broussard v. First Tower Loan, LLC," Case No. 2:15-cv-01161, in District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, filed by Tristan Broussard, a former employee of First Tower Loan. The EEOC's suit charged that First Tower Loan violated federal law by firing Broussard because he is transgender and did not conform to the company's gender-based expectations. However, the EEOC's suit was stayed pending an arbitration between Broussard, as a private plaintiff, and First Tower Loan. After an arbitration hearing, Broussard was awarded $53,000 in damages by the arbitrator, but no injunctive relief was awarded.

    The 18-month consent decree resolving the EEOC's suit strengthens the company's discrimination policy by prohibiting and preventing discrimination or harassment against an employee because the employee is transgender, or because the employee does not conform to the company's sex- or gender-based preferences, expectations, or stereotypes. The agreement also prohibits the company from engaging in any employment practice which discriminates based on gender identity, transgender status, or sex stereotyping. First Tower Loan further agreed to provide training to its managers and employees explaining the prohibition against discrimination based on gender non-conformity under Title VII, and to provide its management with guidance on handling such complaints.

    • EEOC press release is here:
    • Consent Decree is here:
    • Order approving consent decree is here:

  • 27. VIRick  |  October 15, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    Post-Hurricane Up-Date from St. John, US Virgin Islands

    Per Rex Wockner:

    The island of St. John continues to remain 100% without electrical power, ever since being utterly slammed by Hurricane Irma on 6 September 2017, some 40 days ago. A single damaged inter-island ferry barely manages to provide its only link to St. Thomas, and thus to the outside world.

    Here's a link to a blog, "News of St. John," with lots of videos and photos, written by Jenn Manes on St. John, whenever the opportunity presents itself:

    Of course, for the same duration, the entire Northside of St. Thomas also remains without power, plus, since 20 September 2017, over 3 million people in Puerto Rico are in the same predicament.

    Note: If you watch one of Jenn's post-hurricane "driving tour" videos, please be aware that we drive on the left.

  • 28. guitaristbl  |  October 16, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Anyone who had any hopes of Austria following Germany any time soon in legislating marriage equality can lay them down for the coming at least 4 years. The center-right OVP that has shifted further to the right under right wing radical Kurz – known for his xenophobia and warm stance towards Russia – won the election and it will lead a coalition government with far right, founded by nazis, FPO whose leader has joined other far right leaders such as Marine Le Pen in the past attacking marriage equality and has close ties and shares mutual admiration with the hungarian illiberal radical right wing regime led by Victor Orban – and a great fondness of Russia as well.

    If anything there might even be regression on LGBT rights although I doubt it. Stagnation is more likely. So see you in 2021 at best for Austria – most likely Switzerland will make it before them.

    P.S. Although it may feel inappropriate and bit gossip-y for this forum I have to mention that I am in position to know from sources close to me involved into politics that Kurz himself is secretly gay.

  • 29. VIRick  |  October 16, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    "…. I am in position to know from sources close to me involved into politics that Kurz himself is secretly gay."

    Guitar, that factual observation is neither inappropriate nor gossipy. A lot of politicians are gay, although many won't admit to it. I too, am in a position to know (first-hand) that someone in a fairly high-ranking political position is secretly gay.

    But in my case, I keep my mouth shut. As I understand it, the rule is: Never "out" someone who is calmly and quietly working on our side, even if they are unwilling/unable to publicly admit to being gay, as is the person with whom I am familiar. Instead, only "out" them if they are self-loathing haters, who are actively working against us, as is Kurz.

  • 30. guitaristbl  |  October 16, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Kurz himself has never mentioned LGBT rights in any context that I am aware of – positive or negative.

    Given though his likely willingness to work with openly hostile on LGBT issues FPO I do not consider it unethical to mention it.

  • 31. VIRick  |  October 16, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    California: First State to Legally Recognize Third Gender

    California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill, SB 179, on Sunday, 15 October 2017, making his state the first in the nation to officially recognize a third gender.

    Californians will soon be able to identify as nonbinary, in addition to male or female, on state-issued identity documents, including driver's licenses and birth certificates. The bill also eases the process of legal gender changes of any kind — male to female, female to male, and either male or female to nonbinary — by removing requirements to obtain a doctor’s statement or appear in person in court.

    This past summer, Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicles became the first in the nation to offer a non-binary option, “X,” on IDs and licenses. But California is the first to offer statewide legal recognition of non-binary citizens.

  • 32. VIRick  |  October 16, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Panamá: United Nations Marriage Equality Conference

    The UN Human Rights Regional Office for Central America (ONU DH Centroamérica) and the Inter-American Court for Human Rights (Corte Interaméricana de Derechos Humanos) are inviting all LGBT activists and organizations in Panamá to a conference on sexual orientation, gender identity, marriage equality and discrimination, to be held tomorrow, 17 October 2017, at the Hotel las Américas Golden Tower, Calle 53 Este y Av. Balboa, Cd. de Panamá.

  • 33. VIRick  |  October 16, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Marriage Equality Divides Chiapas

    Chiapas, 16 octubre 2017
    Pese a que la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (SCJN) declaró inconstitucionales los artículos del Código Civil del estado que establecían que la unión civil sólo podía ser entre un hombre y una mujer para perpetuar la especie, el Congreso local se niega a acatar dicha sentencia.

    Luego de dos años de mantenerse en la lucha a favor del matrimonio igualitario, Unidos Diferentes Asociación Civil (UDAC), dio a conocer que pese al fallo de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (SCJN) este tipo de uniones aún no son posibles en Chiapas. A la fecha, se tiene conocimiento que son alrededor de 120 parejas las que se han acercado a las oficialías abiertas que hay en Tuxtla Gutiérrez, con la intención de casarse; no obstante, en todos los casos les han sido negados sus derechos.

    Cabe recordar que, en julio pasado, la SCJN declaró inconstitucionales los artículos del Código Civil del estado que establecían que el matrimonio civil sólo podía ser entre un hombre y una mujer para perpetuar la especie; sin embargo, el Registro Civil del estado se opone a efectuar los matrimonios igualitarios debido a que el Congreso local aún no ha emitido una notificación oficial en la materia.

    De acuerdo con Ricardo Acero Galindo, coordinador jurídico de UDAC, la posición de Flor Coello, directora del Registro Civil, es que no se efectúen matrimonios igualitarios hasta que el Poder Legislativo estatal notifique a esta institución que así debe hacerlo.

    Chiapas, 16 October 16, 2017
    Although the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN) already declared unconstitutional the articles in the Chiapas Civil Code that established that marriage could only be between a man and a woman to perpetuate the species, the Chiapas Congress refuses to comply with said ruling.

    After two years of fighting for marriage equality, Unidos Diferentes Asociación (UDAC), announced that despite the ruling of the Supreme Court (SCJN) such unions are not yet possible In Chiapas. To date, it is known that there are about 120 (same-sex) couples who have approached the open offices in the state capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, with the intention of getting married; however, in all cases they have been denied their rights.

    In July 2017, the SCJN declared unconstitutional the articles of the Chiapas Civil Code that established that civil marriage could only be between a man and a woman to perpetuate the species. Nevertheless, the Civil Registry of the state refuses to carry out egalitarian marriages because the state Congress has not yet issued its official notification on the matter.

    According to Ricardo Acero Galindo, legal coordinator of UDAC, the position of Flor Coello, director of the Civil Registry, is that no egalitarian marriages can take place until the state legislature notifies that institution that it must do so.

  • 34. VIRick  |  October 17, 2017 at 12:41 am

    Jet Blue and Its Flights from Puerto Rico

    Because of the crush of humanity all attempting to leave Puerto Rico at once, Jet Blue has just been forced to issue this unusual notice:

    17 October 2017
    JetBlue continues to add extra flights in and out of Puerto Rico and other impacted areas as local infrastructure permits. Flights from Puerto Rico to the mainland USA through 31 October 2017 are temporarily reserved for existing ticket holders only while we clear the backlog of those customers who were impacted by (earlier) cancellations.

  • 35. JayJonson  |  October 17, 2017 at 5:59 am

    Austria's Constitutional Court has issued a preliminary ruling that the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional discrimination. The ruling could bring marriage equality to Austria by January. This development is particularly interesting in light of the recent election that will bring a far-right party into the government. Will the new government resist the Court's ruling?

    See this link:

  • 36. guitaristbl  |  October 17, 2017 at 7:01 am

    The timing of this along with my post's above is extremely ironic I have to say. If this is binding and/or needs legislative action (the way the austrian judiciary works is unknown to me) Kurz will find himself with a VERY hot potato in his hands as he assumes his duties. FPO will never accept that and many in his own party won't either. This may actually break the coalition plans and boost SPO's standing.

  • 37. scream4ever  |  October 17, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Based on the article, and assuming that the final ruling is in our favor, it doesn't seem that there's much that can be done to stop this. The legislature may "respond" in the sense that they can codify it into law, though I highly doubt the new far-right coalition will do so. It seems likely that couples will be able to marry come January.

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