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Open thread and more SCOTUS briefs in Title VII LGBT employment discrimination cases

Community/Meta Discrimination

As we noted last week, the Trump administration is arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t protect against employment discrimination based on transgender status. The administration has now filed a brief in the sexual orientation cases arguing the law doesn’t protect against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation either.

The cases will be heard October 8.


  • 1. ianbirmingham  |  August 26, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Thailand: Parliament votes no to forming an LGBT rights committee

    (Click through to the article for a detailed look at the current state of equality in Thailand)

  • 2. VIRick  |  August 26, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    6th Circuit Court of Appeals: Second Kim Davis Ruling, "Ermold/Yates v. Davis"

    On 23 August 2019, ruling in a separate suit, "Ermold v. Davis," now combined with "Yates v. Davis," brought by two other couples, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said Davis has sovereign immunity as a public official but not qualified immunity as an individual. This means that she can be sued for damages. She was violating a “clearly established” right of the couples who sued, Judge Richard Griffin wrote in a unanimous decision for the three-judge panel.

    Because Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether, she claimed was not in breach of the Supreme Court decision recognizing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

    But the appeals court said the Supreme Court decision was “as sweeping as it was unequivocal. In short, plaintiffs pleaded a violation of their right to marry: a right the Supreme Court clearly established,” Circuit Judge Richard Griffin wrote. “The district court therefore correctly denied qualified immunity to Davis.”

    This suit is in its early stages and the trial court has not yet heard arguments; the appeals court’s ruling dealt only with the matter of whether the case can proceed. The two couples – David Ermold and David Moore, and Will Smith and James Yates – can therefore try to show that Davis acted unreasonably, the appeals court said.….

    In the other matter, in "Miller v. Davis," one in which the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court's ruling that the State of Kentucky must pay the plaintiffs' $225,000 in legal expenses and court fees expended in the original court saga while fighting Kim Davis and her ridiculous intransigence, as well as that of the utter insanity shown by Liberty Counsel in appealing anything and everything, as of today, 26 August 2019, the state has finally conceded. An aide to Governor Bevin issued a terse statement saying, “We respect the court’s decision.”

    It is unfortunate that Bevin could not have come to that same conclusion in 2015, as it would have saved Kentucky taxpayers $225,000. Instead, as a virulent, right-wing, "religious freedom" extremist, he incessantly rabble-roused the rubes with this issue during his noisy election campaign to become governor. And he won. Then, as the newly-elected governor, in order to save face, while doing flip-flops and cart-wheels, he even had to accede to Davis' demands. And now, well after the fact, the hapless rubes get to pay, as one can be certain he will not offer to cough up any of the $225,000 out of his own precious pocket. At the same time, his fellow rabble-rousing bottom-feeders, the preachy Huckleberry Huckster and the detestable Carnival Cruz, are nowhere to be found.

    In the meantime, Liberty Counsel put out yet another money-begging fundraising appeal asking its supporters to “help Kim through to victory.”

  • 3. Elihu_Bystander  |  August 26, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    Ermold/Yates v. Davis

    I'm not sure this is good news. Does this let the Commonwealth of Kentucky off the hook for any damages? Kim Davis surely has no ability to pay any damages let alone any punitive damages? Help me if I am wrong.

  • 4. VIRick  |  August 27, 2019 at 12:32 am

    At the present moment, the question before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in "Ermold/Yates v. Davis" was strictly limited as to whether Kim Davis herself could be sued for damages. The answer given was "Yes." As to whether or not she has any money is completely her problem.

    As best as I can determine, the question you raised was not addressed in either this suit or in the "Miller" suit. In "Miller," only the question concerning the state's obligation to pay the plaintiffs' legal expenses and court fees was dealt with, one though that does contain a built-in "damages" award within that $225,000 assessment. In the ultimate flip-flop, the governor was attempting to argue that the state was not responsible for Davis' idiocy, despite the fact that he aided and abetted, and that she should pay the $225,000 herself.

  • 5. VIRick  |  August 26, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    Transgender Troops Allowed to Sue Pentagon for Discrimination

    Trump first took to Twitter in 2017 to announce that anyone who identifies as trans will no longer be allowed to serve their country, citing “tremendous medical costs” and “disruption” by trans individuals. The ban went into effect in April 2019, but has faced roadblocks, both before and after, with the House of Representatives first blocking funding for the ban, before passing an amendment that sought to reverse the ban.

    And now, on 22 August 2019, a federal judge in Maryland has just ruled that transgender troops will be allowed to sue the Pentagon for discrimination. Although five out of the six people who brought the case to court were barred from bringing their cases further, due to their continuing to serve, the judge allowed the sixth case to proceed. In his ruling, District Judge George Russell, said: “By its plain language, then, the [transgender policy] discriminates on the basis of transgender status. In addition the … plan categorically bars transgender individuals who have transitioned to their preferred gender — a recommended treatment to alleviate the distress dysphoria causes.”

    Josh Block, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU, celebrated the ruling, saying: “This is a victory for our clients who want the opportunity to serve their country openly and freely in our armed forces. We will continue to hold the government accountable for their attempts to ban trans people from the military and shut down judicial review of the policy.”

  • 6. Elihu_Bystander  |  August 27, 2019 at 12:03 am

    AS a retired U.S. Navy person, all I can say is I'm very happy with this ruling. Transgender persons have been serving honorably in the military since time in memoriam, many times in great hardship to themselves. They are my sisters and my brothers.

  • 7. VIRick  |  August 26, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    Mexico: Supreme Court of Justice Recognizes Co-Maternity

    Per Sonora Pride:

    Mexico: Reconoce la SCJN la Co-Maternidad

    El 23 de agosto 2019, la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (SCJN) emitió una jurisprudencia reconociendo a la co-maternidad como la situación jurídica en donde dos mujeres unidas en pareja comparten la crianza de los hijos en común, con todas sus responsabilidades y derechos legales. La SCJN señaló que la co-maternidad es “una figura propia de la unión familiar homoparental constituida por dos mujeres, que se refiere a la doble filiación materna, por virtud de la cual la pareja de mujeres se encarga del cuidado bajo su seno de uno o más hijos, como cualquier otro ejercicio de crianza parental.”

    Se trata de la tesis aislada LXV/2019, emitida por la Primera Sala de la SCJN a raíz de la sentencia de amparo en donde se ordenó al Registro Civil de Aguascalientes otorgar un acta de nacimiento reconociendo los derechos de una pareja del mismo sexo, y donde ambas se inscribieron como madres.

    La jurisprudencia de la Corte señala que tiene su fundamento en el Artículo 4º. de la Constitución, donde se reconocen los derechos de todo tipo de familias, y por tanto la posibilidad de registrar a sus hijos: “todas las personas sin distinción de género u orientación sexual tienen el derecho a formar una familia, y si es su deseo, acceder a la procreación y crianza de hijos propios, adoptados, gestados mediante el uso de técnicas de reproducción asistida, o procreados por uno de ellos.”

    On 23 August 2019, the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN) issued a jurisprudence recognizing co-maternity as the legal situation in which two women unite as a couple to share in the upbringing of children in common, with all their responsibilities and legal rights. The SCJN pointed out that co-maternity is “a type of homoparental family union constituted by two women, one which refers to the double maternal affiliation, by virtue of which two women are responsible for the care of one or more children, like any other parenting exercise.”

    This is according to the isolated thesis LXV/2019, issued by the First Chamber of the SCJN, following the amparo ruling whereby the Civil Registry of Aguascalientes was ordered to grant a birth certificate recognizing the rights of a same-sex couple, and where both registered as mothers.

    The jurisprudence of the Court states that it is based on Article 4 of the Constitution, where the rights of all types of families are recognized, and therefore the possibility of registering their children: “all persons without distinction of gender or sexual orientation have the right to form a family, and if it is their desire, access to the procreation and upbringing of their own children, adopted, gestated through the use of assisted reproduction techniques, or procreated by one of them.”

  • 8. allan120102  |  August 27, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Tomorrow Oaxaca votes to amend its civil code. This is a confirmation from one of the deputies and architect of the proposal

  • 9. VIRick  |  August 27, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    Oaxaca: State Congress to Vote on Marriage Equality Tomorrow

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    The Oaxaca state congress is expected to pass the marriage equality bill tomorrow, 28 August 2019, bringing state law into alignment with the executive practice already in place since 2018.

    Per México Igualitario:‏

    Este 28 de agosto a las 11:00 AM, estaremos presentes en la votación de la iniciativa sobre matrimonio igualitario en el Congreso de Oaxaca.

    On 28 August at 11:00 AM, we will be present at the vote on the initiative for marriage equality in the Oaxaca Congress.

    Note: México Igualitario is the LGBT rights organization headed by Alex Alí Méndez Díaz.

  • 10. allan120102  |  August 27, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    I was very glad when she respond me the question I ask her and provide me the date of the vote. For some reason I am pretty confident ssm will pass in Oaxaca tomorrow.

  • 11. VIRick  |  August 27, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    I am hopeful it will pass, as well, in part because, on a practical level for all of the past year, Oaxaca has already had marriage equality in place, and the sky has not fallen on that state.

  • 12. allan120102  |  August 28, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Oaxaca becomes the record sixth state this year to have ssm after a 25-10 vote.

  • 13. VIRick  |  August 30, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    Oaxaca Congress Approves Marriage Equality and Gender Identity

    Per Rex Wockner:

    Today, 28 August 2019, in a 25-10 vote (with 7 abstentions in the 42-seat legislature), the Oaxaca state Congress passed marriage equality and hassle-free document changes for trans people.

    Per Geraldina González de la Vega‏:

    ¡Recibo las mejores noticias desde Oaxaca! Se aprobó el matrimonio igualitario.
    Hace 7 años conocí a Alex Ali Méndez Diaz por los tres amparos que resolvió la Suprema Corte en 2012. Siete años han pasado ya. Apenas hoy se gana la igualdad en ese estado, una batalla larga. ¡Felicidades!

    I received the best news from Oaxaca! Marriage equality was approved. Seven years ago, I met Alex Alí Méndez Díaz because of the three amparos that the Supreme Court decided in 2012. Seven years have passed. Just today, equality is won in that state, a long battle. Congratulations!

    At the time, Geraldina González de la Vega‏ was a law clerk for Justice Arturo Zaldívar at the Supreme Court of Mexico when Alex Alí Méndez Díaz, still a law student, won the first three marriage equality amparos from the state of Oaxaca before the Supreme Court, the very first amparos to be granted from any state anywhere in Mexico.

    Note: Before this vote, there were 19 jurisdictions in Mexico with marriage equality. And after this vote, the number remains the same. Because of an administrative directive, Oaxaca has had marriage equality in effect since 2018. The law is only now catching up with the practice. However, what is new is that portion of this massive piece of legislation which will now allow for gender marker change on government documents based on self-identification, and one which can be accomplished through simple administrative means. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, in God knows how many generations since the conquista, the third-gender Zapoteca muxe of Juchitán and environs will finally be officially recognized as legal. The muxes, centuries ahead of practically the entire rest of the world, are celebrating:

    When the next state congress, that of Baja California, votes in favor of marriage equality, we will still have 19 jurisdictions with marriage equality. In this instance, the law will be catching with an administrative directive in effect since 2017, one which will be forcefully extended to include Mexicali, which, so far, has refused to comply.

  • 14. VIRick  |  August 30, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    According to a photo of the vote tally screen in the Oaxaca Congress, here is the vote break-down by party. Despite their absolute majority, and a national policy requiring Morena party members to vote favorably, it further shows that there were Morena votes in absolutely every category:

    These 25 votes were in favor:

    17 Morena
    03 PT
    04 PRI
    01 MI

    These 7 votes were against:

    03 Morena
    01 PRI
    01 PAN
    02 PES

    These 3 names were blacked out (absent? and marked as negative?):

    02 Morena
    01 MI

    There were 7 abstentions:

    04 Morena
    01 PRI
    02 Verde

    Per Abraham Mendieta:

    Since it required 22 positive votes to assure passage, for once, thank you, PRI. There are also 3 Morena members who will be thrown out of the party for voting against national Morena policy, Emilio Joaquín Garcia Aguilar, who has already been sanctioned by Morena for bad practice; Juana Aguilar Espinoza, who has been an embarrassment for a long time; and Ángel Domínguez Escobar, an ex-priista who slipped into Morena.

  • 15. VIRick  |  August 27, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    St. Vincent/Grenadines: Two Men File Court Challenge to Its Anti-Sodomy Laws

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    This report from a month ago, dated 27 July 2019, basically duplicates what has already been reported from other sources when the news of the court filing was fresh. However, there is one important aspect that had not been previously noted, given that this article also includes photos of the two litigants.

    Javin Johnson, 22, appears to be quite androgynous and sports a unique and rather amazing make-up job. The attention-grabbing blue/yellow/green eye shadow matches with the colors of the St. Vincent flag, while the multiple stars down the right cheek must represent each of the islands within St. Vincent/Grenadines. However, in combination with his very light skin tone, what I found most important was his surname, Johnson.

    The Johnson clan are very numerous in a number of eastern Caribbean locations, and for St. Vincent/Grenadines, they tend to predominate in the small islands of the Grenadines, most especially Bequia. The Johnson clan also hold a special place in eastern Caribbean history, as almost all of them are descended from poor whites who were forced out of the main islands by the plantocracy who had no use for them, and who insisted upon utilizing African slave labor. The poor whites, in return, took to the sea, and relocated to islands too small/too dry to support the large plantations, islands exactly like the Grenadines. Over the years, many have also mixed with the more numerous black population. Still, in most islands, this separate, light-skinned, mixed-race group is recognized as a distinct racial minority.

    And because of that recognition, coupled with the Johnson surname and the Grenadines connection, it is important that Javin Johnson be one of the litigants.

  • 16. VIRick  |  August 27, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Log Cabin Executive Director Resigns over Trump Endorsement

    The executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans has resigned following a controversial decision by the organization’s board to endorse Trump, the "Washington Blade" has learned. Jerri Ann Henry, who was the first woman to lead the LGBT Republican group, formally submitted her resignation on Friday, 23 August 2019, and left on Monday, 26 August, after discussions with board members characterized as “harsh.”

    The resignation follows intense criticism of Log Cabin, which announced its support for Trump earlier this month without its members having met with him or having received any explicit commitments in exchange. Sources said Henry’s discontent with Trump and dissatisfaction with Log Cabin’s approach to defending its Trump endorsement in the media were key among her reasons for stepping down.

  • 17. ianbirmingham  |  August 27, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    Head of Log Cabin Republicans gay group quits over decision to endorse Trump

    The organization's endorsement of Trump came in the form of an op-ed article sent to the Washington Post that praised Trump's "commitments to the United States, including taking bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community." Henry's name was not attached to the op-ed, only the names of Log Cabin Republicans chairman Robert Kabel and vice chairman Jill Homan.

    Henry is not the first executive in the group to depart following the vote to endorse Trump. Jennifer Horn, who sat on the board for several years, also chose to leave over the endorsement. "There is no world where I can sit down at the dining room table and explain to my children that I just endorsed Donald Trump for president," Horn told the Washington Post. "It is contrary to everything that I have ever taught them about what it means to be a good, decent, principled member of society."

  • 18. VIRick  |  August 27, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    Tamaulipas: Newly Elected Congress Begins Session in October

    Una prioridad de la próxima legislatura de Tamaulipas, que inicia su ejercicio en octubre, deberá ser la reforma al Código Civil y a la Ley Reglamentaria del Registro Civil, para abrirle la puerta a figuras como el matrimonio igualitario y el cambio de sexo en el acta de nacimiento. La directora del Registro Civil estatal, María del Rosario Garza Hinojosa, explicó que actualmente las personas que quieren hacer uso de alguno de esos derechos deben acudir ante la instancia judicial para obtener una autorización por vía de amparo.

    A priority of the next Tamaulipas legislature, which begins its work in October, should be the reform of the Civil Code and the Regulatory Law of the Civil Registry, to open the door to matters such as marriage equality and the adjustment of the gender marker on birth certificates. The director of the State Civil Registry, María del Rosario Garza Hinojosa, explained that people who currently want to use any of these rights must go to the court to obtain an authorization through an amparo.

    She further explained that she, as Civil Registrar of Tamaulipas, has already married 11 same-sex couples, all via amparo, and has made a number of gender marker changes on birth certificates. Although stated in the plural, the exact number of changes was not given.

  • 19. ianbirmingham  |  August 27, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    It’s No Longer a Crime to Be Gay in Botswana

    Botswana's High Court has decriminalised same-sex relationships in a unanimous ruling welcomed by the LGBTQ+ community in the southern African country and beyond. Same-sex relationships were previously criminalised by the colonial-era section 164 of Botswana's penal code.

    Announcing his ruling on Tuesday, Justice Michael Leburu said discrimination has no place in Botswana. “A democratic society is one that embraces tolerance, diversity, and open-mindedness," he said. He added that continuing to criminalise sexuality and gender identity holds societies back from reaching their full potential, saying: “Societal inclusion is central to ending poverty and fostering shared prosperity.”

    The ruling by Justice Leburu comes after Letsweletse Motshidiemang, a 21-year-old student at the University of Botswana, took on the law by bringing the case to court in March. “I am in a sexually intimate relationship with a man. I have no doubt that this will be the case for the rest of my life. My friends, roommates at the University of Botswana have accepted me, even at the University of Botswana I feel free and accepted,” he said at the time. “By virtue of one or more of these provisions of the law, I am prohibited from expressing the greatest emotion of love through the act of enjoying sexual intercourse with another consenting adult male that I am sexually attracted to and who is also sexually attracted to me, as consenting adults,” he said.

    At the moment, only 24 out of 54 countries in the continent recognise LGBTQ+ people’s right to exist and thrive. Meanwhile, last month, Milimani high court in Nairobi, Kenya, ruled against decriminalising same-sex relationships. Botswana joins South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and São Tomé in decriminalising same-sex relationships.

    "This judgement can make a massive change for our lives. This is what excites me the most. The judgement means so much,” said Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, coordinator of at the LGBTQ rights group Legabibo. She added: “The court has upheld our dignity, our privacy, and our liberty … It means freedom.”

  • 20. ianbirmingham  |  August 30, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    City Council of Norman Adopts 1st LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Ordinance In Oklahoma

    Last week, the city of Norman, Okla., became the first city in the state to pass an ordinance specifically protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination.

    The Norman City Council voted 8-1 to approve an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and marital status as a same-sex couple in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

    The ordinance also extends existing age-discrimination protections to those age 40 or older, and clarifies and streamlines the duties of the city’s Human Rights Commission, which is tasked with investigating alleged complaints of discrimination.

  • 21. ianbirmingham  |  August 30, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Arizona’s Governor Is Leading Republicans’ Quiet, Radical Takeover of State Supreme Courts

    Democratic presidential candidates are mostly tiptoeing around the idea of court-packing, toying with the idea of adding seats to the U.S. Supreme Court without committing to a real plan. But while 2020 hopefuls avoid endorsing such a scheme, Arizona Republicans have already enacted one: They not only packed their state Supreme Court but rigged the nomination process to ensure more favorable outcomes for the GOP. It’s just the latest example of Republicans capturing a state judiciary through the kind of brute-force politics that Democrats still shy away from.

    These machinations, led by Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, may soon deliver a state Supreme Court seat to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, a reactionary whose tenure has been plagued by scandal and lawsuits. Montgomery has fought against progressive reform at every turn. He is a fierce foe of LGBTQ equality as well as a staunch defender of the death penalty, the drug war, and mass incarceration. In 2015, he told a Vietnam War veteran that he was “an enemy” because he used marijuana, adding, “I have no respect for you.”

    First, the governor packed the court, adding two seats to swing it rightward. (Chief Justice Scott Bales declared at the time that the expansion was entirely unnecessary.) None of Ducey’s justifications for the court-packing plan have proved true: The court is now completing fewer cases, and while Ducey called for “more voices” on the bench, he has exclusively appointed men. The new “voices” come from male judges whose views align with Justice Clint Bolick, another Ducey appointee and an arch conservative who wants to demolish the New Deal.

    Second, Ducey replaced several Democrats on the [judicial] nominating commission with putative independents who, in reality, have deep ties to the Republican Party. Today, there are zero Democrats on the 15-member commission. Ducey appears to have altered the commission’s makeup with an eye toward elevating Montgomery. Earlier this year, when Montgomery applied for an open seat on the Arizona Supreme Court, the commission voted him down 7–5 after criticizing his lack of experience, his clear ideological bent, and his office’s culture of misconduct. Ducey promptly replaced Montgomery’s opponents on the commission with Republicans or Republican-affiliated “independents.”

    When Bales announced his retirement in March, Ducey’s new commissioners did what they were likely appointed to do: They put Montgomery on the shortlist, effectively reversing the commission’s earlier conclusion that he was not qualified.

    Montgomery’s career has been defined in large part by startling cruelty toward minorities, especially LGBTQ people. After a federal court struck down Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage, Montgomery refused to let his office provide free legal assistance to gay couples seeking to adopt children. State law expressly granted free legal assistance to married couples hoping to adopt, but Montgomery insisted that it could only apply to opposite-sex couples. To ensure that the state would not have to help same-sex couples, Montgomery then lobbied the Legislature to repeal this right altogether. He wished to revoke all couples’ right to such assistance just to ensure that same-sex couples could not receive it.

  • 22. VIRick  |  August 30, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    We Just Survived the Eye of Hurricane Dorian

    Hurricane Dorian was not forecast to pass directly through the US Virgin Islands, let alone even be up to hurricane strength, yet that is exactly what it did, as it angled further to the east while simultaneously strengthening. According to the NWS, at sea level at the St. Thomas airport, sometime after 2 PM on Wednesday, 28 August 2019, the strongest sustained winds were recorded at 82 mph, with gusts to 111 mph. Up here, at over 1000 feet in elevation, it was even stronger.

    Curfew was hastily called at noon that day, and shortly after 12:30 PM, all holy hell broke loose, as the hurricane came in from the south, on the protected side of my house. Between 2:30 PM and 3:00 PM, we sat here and watched as the eye passed us overhead, with the lowest barometric reading being 29.58 in. (normal here is 30.05 in., and never fluctuates except when a hurricane passes).

    After just 2 days, electrical power was restored late today, 30 August. Amazingly, all the new composite utility poles recently installed up the steep side of the mountain through Solberg after Irma/Maria in 2017 withstood the winds. Further east of me, in Estate Misgunst, they were less fortunate. We never lost cell phone service, but internet service was only restored tonight.

    Dorian, with winds to 140 mph, has now been up-graded to a Category 4, is headed directly for the east coast of Florida, and is expected to make landfall somewhere in the vicinity of Cocoa Beach. If you live anywhere along the east coast of Florida from that area and on to the north, move inland and as far north as you can (preferably several states further north, like Tennessee), and do it now, as Dorian is a disaster waiting to happen. It is expected to turn and rake the whole east coast of the state, from Cocoa Beach north, on past Jacksonville and on into Georgia. Also, as an additional word of warning, high rise buildings become uninhabitable death traps when there is no electrical power.

    At the moment, Dorian is 540 miles east of Palm Beach (and Mar-a-Lago), Florida. Unfortunately, it is not projected to make landfall quite that far to the south. If it were, I would say that it was a gift from the US Virgin Islands, delivered directly to the orange buffoon. Still, since the gays have been accused of directing hurricanes, let's all really concentrate, as there is still enough time to direct this one, and aim it right there.

  • 23. JayJonson  |  August 31, 2019 at 7:36 am

    So glad that you survived the onslaught unscathed. It must have been frightening and triggering of bad memories.

  • 24. ianbirmingham  |  August 31, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Gays Suck At Directing Hurricanes

    Contrary to the arguments made by religious bigots, a concerted gay effort to direct Hurricane Dorian onto Mar-A-Lago has failed. Dorian's path has moved in the opposite direction, turning farther to the north and now staying a considerable distance away from the east coast of Florida.

    The failure of the gay effort to direct this hurricane onto Donald Trump's house is so comprehensive that now Dorian's hurricane-force wind field will not even touch the state of Florida.

    Religious bigots were unavailable for comment.

  • 25. VIRick  |  August 31, 2019 at 10:55 am

    In 1995, religious nut-jobs crowed and boastfully claimed that they had successfully prayed Hurricane Luis to turn away from St. Thomas and spare us. In the same breath, however, they failed to mention that Hurricane Luis, at the last minute, curved into and utterly destroyed nearby Sint Maarten/St-Martin and Anguilla, with multiple deaths in each.

    Then, just a week later, the very next hurricane, Marilyn, came up from the south, just like Dorian, and completely wiped us out, with 95% destruction in our second-largest town, Tutu. That was the first time I survived the eye of a hurricane, and the last time I ever heard these religious quacks claim that they can pray the hurricanes away. Locally, I have never heard any comment about gays being involved in weather prediction and/or hurricane direction.

    It was in the aftermath of Marilyn that I found myself standing in line for MREs being distributed by the US Army, sandwiched between the Lt. Governor and this wealthy woman from Skyline Drive whose house was totally flattened and who was reduced to living in her luxury Mercedes-Benz.

    Ian, Great Abaco and Grand Bahama are still in the direct path of Dorian, now with 150 mph, winds. So, if it fails to make the turn, as current predictions estimate, Palm Beach is its next destination, now, at 5 PM on 31 August, just 350 miles away. Continue concentrating, as we really need to make this thing happen.

    Up-date: At 2 AM on 1 September, Hurricane Dorian is 275 miles east of Palm Beach, and continues heading due west, still packing sustained winds of 150 mph. I remember Hurricane Andrew, another monster like this one. They kept predicting that it was going to turn, it was going to turn. And it never did, slamming headlong into the Homestead area on the south side of Miami.

    Up-date #2: At 2 PM on 1 September, Hurricane Dorian is 180 miles east of Palm Beach, and continues heading due west, now as a Category 5, packing sustained winds of 185 mph. Presently, it is directly over Great Abaco, and will soon be directly over Grand Bahama. With that force of wind, both islands are guaranteed to be utterly ruined. Freeport, Grand Bahama, is the second-largest city in the entire Bahamas chain, and is also the location of a large off-shore oil refinery which will be knocked out of production.

    Up-date #3: At 8 PM on 1 September, Hurricane Dorian is 75 miles east of Freeport and 150 miles east of Palm Beach, still heading due west, with sustained winds of 185 mph. Its minimum central pressure is only 27.02 in., a horrifically low pressure. When it passed through here, it was recorded at 29.58 in.

  • 26. ianbirmingham  |  September 1, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    Hurricane Andrew (1992) was only 175 mph. Two hurricanes, Gilbert (1988) and Wilma (2005), were also 185 mph. Hurricane Allen (1980) was 190 mph.

  • 27. VIRick  |  September 1, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    I was in St. Lucia shortly after Hurricane Allen slammed through that island. Every dwelling on Vigie Point, overlooking Castries, was stripped down to its very foundation. All valleys were badly flooded, with most dwellings near any water course being washed away. The third-largest town, Vieux-Fort, at the southern tip of the island, was obliterated, as was the adjacent airfield. The export banana crop (exported to Britain), island-wide, was reduced to garbage. It was here, in St. Lucia, where I learned a basic survival technique: If located on the top of a hill, one is blown away; if located at the bottom, one is washed away; so take one's chances, and cling to the side of the mountain, not too high, and not too low.

    Some years later, I was also in Jamaica (Kingston and St. Andrews) some time after Hurricane Gilbert slammed through there. In the aftermath, the Kingston Airport and the nearby town of Port Royal had to be re-invented, as did roads almost everywhere. Kingston, normally rather dicey, was a true nightmare without water and no electricity,– and endless lines for gasoline,– and mobs of desperate people everywhere.

    I also remember being petrified by both hurricanes as they passed us, as well as by Hurricane David as it obliterated Dominica, then passed quite close to us, before wiping out large portions of the Dominican Republic. Hurricane Hugo was also bad. Before stopping our clocks here, it cleared off most of the eastern half of Guadeloupe and utterly destroyed St. Croix, Vieques, Culebra, and NE Puerto Rico. It also went on to wreck havoc on Charleston, South Carolina.

    I "missed out" on both Hurricanes Andrew and Wilma, as I was not living in Florida at the time either one slammed through there.

  • 28. ianbirmingham  |  September 1, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    I was in Florida during Wilma, where I also learned a basic survival technique. Just before the hurricane struck, I observed a tree of dubious strength near a line of parked cars. It occurred to me that I had better park my vehicle in a safer place, and I found a good spot a short distance away which was safely distant from any trees which might fall over during the storm. After the storm, sure enough, the tree of dubious strength had fallen over directly onto a parked vehicle, crushing its passenger compartment and converting it into a total loss.

    VIRick, given the long and brutal list of hurricanes that you've suffered, why choose to live in such a highly eventful location?

    Also, one might think that burrowing into the side of the mountain would offer greater safety than clinging to its surface. Is that feasible?

  • 29. VIRick  |  September 1, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Ian, we do both. However, even our partial-underground bunker is not perfectly foolproof. During the passage of Hurricane Maria in 2017, with the ground still saturated from Hurricane Irma which had slammed through only 13 days prior, we ended up standing in knee-deep water down there due to the raging wall of run-off ripping down the mountain outside, as well as from springing water leaking through the foundation wall from underground. In the midst of the chaos, I suddenly realized that the little dog was furiously swimming in it, trying to save his own life. I had to grab him and place him on top of the washing machine (which was ruined from water damage) just to save him.

    And speaking of which, just today, my partner and I worked to reinforce the barrier wall on the upper side of the house which we had made higher after being flooded by Maria. Yes, at over 1000 feet in elevation on a steep mountainside, and we were flooded (besides being trapped here for a month). And all Trump could do was throw paper towels.

    As for "choosing," I live here because of job, overall climate, boyfriend, social ambiance, and an intangible,– I know everyone and everyone knows me. Plus, I have to live in an accepting bi-lingual, bi-racial, bi-cultural environment, and one not adverse to the obvious presence of LGBTs.

    At the moment, too, I am extremely thankful that he no longer works in Freeport, Bahamas (as a crew member on a Windjammer sailing vessel, specializing in clothing-optional, all-gay cruises).

  • 30. ianbirmingham  |  September 2, 2019 at 5:33 am

    Based on those requirements, I would suggest Wilton Manors, Florida:

    Wilton Manors is known as a gay village. Wilton Manors ranks 2nd in the U.S. for its percentage of gay couples as a proportion of total population, with 140 gay couples per 1,000 residents or 1,600 persons or 14% of the inhabitants. The Fort Lauderdale area ranks 4th in metro areas (per capita). Neighboring Oakland Park is ranked sixth on the list. Wilton Manors has approximately 1270% more resident gay couples per capita than the national average of 1.1% of the population.

    In 2018 the city became the second city in the United States (after Palm Springs, California) to have a gay mayor and all-LGBT+ city commission.,_Flor

  • 31. VIRick  |  September 2, 2019 at 1:35 am

    Up-date #4: At 2 AM on 2 September, Hurricane Dorian has made landfall on Grand Bahama and was 40 miles east of Freeport and 120 miles east of Palm Beach, still heading due west along 26.6 W, but at a crawl, with sustained winds at 170 mph and with gusts to 200 mph.

    Whenever a hurricane slows way down in its forward speed, like this one is doing right now, is when it is at its most destructive because it keeps pounding at the same location, incessantly, for hours and hours on end. When Dorian passed through here at a reasonable forward speed, and kept moving, the worst of it had passed us within about 4 hours or so. We also had a daytime passage. And the tail, with torrential rains, was semi-detached from the circularly-spinning, windy head, and never showed up here until the next day, a truly odd feature.

  • 32. VIRick  |  August 30, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    Michigan: Bay Mills Indian Community Approves Marriage Equality

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    The Bay Mills Indian Community of Michigan legalized marriage equality for its tribal reservation on 8 July 2019.

    Per Bryan Newland, President:

    This evening, 8 July 2019, the Bay Mills Executive Council unanimously approved amendments to our tribal marriage ordinance to authorize and recognize same-sex marriages.

  • 33. VIRick  |  August 30, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    Dominican Republic: Court Rules against Evangelical Nut-Job on Gay Rights Issue

    This is the first-ever court ruling on the subject of gay rights and gender policy in the Dominican Republic, and one which was favorably decided:

    Per Yimbert Feliz Telemin:

    El 23 de agosto 2019, el Tribunal Superior Administrativo rechazó solicitud de medida cautelar contra Orden Departamental 0033-2019 impuesta por el pastor evangélico Carlos Peña, ya que este alega que el gobierno quiere homosexualizar a los niños dominicanos.

    On 23 August 2019, the Superior Administrative Court rejected the request for precautionary measures (injunction) against Departmental Order 0033-2019 as put forth by the evangelical pastor Carlos Peña, as he alleges that the government wants to homosexualize Dominican children.

    Per Claudia Sarante:

    Departmental Order 0033-2019 of the Ministry of Education of the Dominican Republic seeks to establish gender policies in the education sector.

  • 34. VIRick  |  August 31, 2019 at 12:55 am

    Mexican Consulate in Tucson: First Same-Sex Marriage

    El 30 de agosto 2019, en el Consulado de México en Tucson, se celebró el primer matrimonio igualitario de dos co-nacionales, a quienes deseamos prosperidad y felicidad. ¡Enhorabuena!

    On 30 August 2019, at the Consulate of Mexico in Tucson, the first equal marriage of two co-nationals was celebrated, to whom we wish prosperity and happiness. Congratulations!

    Although the commentary does not identify the couple by name, nor their location of residence, the accompanying photos indicate that they were a male couple. Chances are very strong that they travelled up from Sonora in order to be married there in Arizona.

  • 35. ianbirmingham  |  August 31, 2019 at 7:50 am

    Saying 'not all country boys are bigots,' Oklahoma man puts LGBT pride message on his truck

    He and his mother purchased some tape rolls, which he used to cover the tailgate of his Chevrolet Silverado with a rainbow pride flag. On top of the flag was an all-caps message in black mailbox letters: “Not all country boys are bigots … Happy Pride month.”

    He posted a public photo of the tailgate on social media on Thursday…, but said he didn’t expect much fanfare outside of friends or family. But as of Monday evening, his Facebook post has nearly 130,000 reactions and more than 75,000 shares from people around the world, even drawing the attention of CNN.

    “I think it was just kind of a matter of over time feeling more inclined to speak out,” he said of his decision to post. “Being an average straight guy and driving a truck like I do, I don’t deal with hate. I don’t deal with judgment. I just wanted to do what I could to help out.

  • 36. VIRick  |  August 31, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Durango: State Director of Civil Registry Wants Marriage Equality, Gender Identity

    A decir de la Directora del Registro Civil, Brenda Azucena Rosas Gamboa, es necesario que en Durango se modernice la legislación en materia de cambio de identidad de género y matrimonios igualitarios, pues en otros estados ya se tiene. La entrevistada explicó que en el Registro Civil de Durango ya se está trabajando para que se lleve a cabo el matrimonio igualitario y la identidad de género, pues consideró que esto es muy importante para los cambios en la legislación y reglamentos, dado que en otros estados esto ya está reconocido.

    According to the Director of the Civil Registry, Brenda Azucena Rosas Gamboa, in Durango, it is necessary that legislation regarding change of gender identity and that of marriage equality be modernized, since in other states it already exists. She explained that in the Civil Registry of Durango they are already working to carry out marriage equality and gender identity, considering how important it is to make changes in the legislation and regulations, given that in other states it has already happened.

    Note: When responsible governmental officials with authority begin to make comments of this nature, we know we are past the tipping point. The person in charge in Durango wants it done, as it makes her job less complicated.

  • 37. VIRick  |  September 1, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Ecuador: Two Lead Plaintiffs Who Won Marriage Equality Court Case Marry in Quito

    Ecuador: Líder de los LGBTI Se Casó en Quito

    Efraín Soria y Javier Benalcázar son una pareja LGBT que por más de seis años luchó para que el matrimonio civil igualitario sea un derecho de toda su comunidad. En una emotiva ceremonia, la tarde de ayer, el 31 de agosto 2019, Soria y Benalcázar se dijeron "Sí" en el Centro Arte Contemporáneo, de Quito.

    Efraín Soria and Javier Benalcázar are an LGBT couple who for more than six years fought for equal civil marriage to be a right of the entire community. In an emotional ceremony, yesterday afternoon, 31 August 2019, Soria and Benalcázar said "Yes" at the Centro Arte Contemporáneo, in Quito.

  • 38. VIRick  |  September 1, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Citizens Insist Yucatán Congress Approve Marriage Equality, Forcing a Third Vote

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    Insistirán ante el Congreso Yucateco en la Aprobación del Matrimonio Igualitario

    En septiembre próximo se estaría presentando una iniciativa ciudadana, no solo para buscar la aprobación del matrimonio igualitario, sino como un paquete que incluya los derechos del concubinato, seguridad social, patrimonio, herencia, y hasta una reforma a la Ley del Registro Civil para hacer más ágiles y sencillos los trámites de cambios que requieran las personas trans, dijo Amelia Ojeda Sosa, asesora jurídica del Colectivo por la Familia.

    La profesional recordó que además están en procesos los amparos que promovió este colectivo contra la forma en que se desechó la iniciativa original y de resolverse de manera favorable un probable efecto sería que se reponga el proceso, se someta de nuevo a votación en el Congreso.

    La entrevistada coincidió con Enrique Castillo Ruz, diputado del PRI y presidente de la mesa directiva del Congreso, en que ya sea por el resultado de los amparos o por la nueva iniciativa en la que se trabaja, el caso del matrimonio igualitario regresará al Poder Legislativo en el próximo periodo de sesiones ordinarias que se inicia mañana, el 2 de septiembre 2019.

    A citizen initiative will be presented in September, not only to seek the approval of marriage equality, but as a package that includes the rights of cohabitation, social security, heritage, inheritance, and even a reform of the Civil Registry Law to make the procedures for changes that trans individuals require easier and more simple, said Amelia Ojeda Sosa, legal advisor to the Collective for the Family.

    The professional recalled that the amparos promoted by this group are also in process and are against the way in which the original initiative was discarded, and if resolved favorably, a probable effect would be that the process be reinstated, and be put to another vote in Congress.

    She agreed with Enrique Castillo Ruz, PRI deputy and president of the board of directors of the Congress, that either because of the result of the amparos or because of the new initiative, the case for marriage equality will return to the Legislature during the next period of ordinary sessions that begins tomorrow, 2 September 2019.

    Note: Colectivo por la Familia is pro-marriage-equality, and is not to be confused with the evangelical nut-job group, Frente Nacional por la Familia.

  • 39. VIRick  |  September 1, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    Baja California: Marriage Equality Bill to Be Submitted to New State Congress

    Per UNE-Ensenada Red:

    El próximo jueves, 5 de septiembre 2019, se subirá la iniciativa de matrimonio igualitario en la XXIII Legislatura del Estado. Apoyemos todas y todos el inicio de la agenda en favor de los DDHH de las poblaciones LGBTI.

    Cita: Mexicali, BC
    Día: Jueves, 5 de septiembre
    Hora: 9:00 AM

    Next Thursday, 5 September 2019, the marriage equality initiative will be submitted to the XXIII State Legislature. Let us all support the beginning of the agenda in favor of the Human Rights of the LGBTI population.

    Location: Mexicali, BC
    Day: Thursday, 5 September
    Time: 9 AM

  • 40. allan120102  |  September 1, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    I am hoping it passes so Mexicali can be put on its place. Its the only place in BC that is not issuing ssm licenses and its surprising because more conservative municipalities are doing it.

  • 41. VIRick  |  September 2, 2019 at 12:00 am

    This new proposal is being put forth by a feminist network based in Ensenada. With Morena holding an overwhelming majority in the newly-elected congress, this measure stands an excellent chance of passage.

    There are two newly-elected state congresses in Mexico. This one in Baja California takes their seats now. The other, in Tamaulipas, takes their seats in October. And in between, we should also have a marriage equality vote in the Sonora state congress.

  • 42. ianbirmingham  |  September 2, 2019 at 8:59 am

    Mississippi wedding venue refuses to rent to engaged interracial couple because the owners say 'it's against our Christian beliefs to do mixed race and gay weddings'

    The owners of Boone's Camp Event Hall in Booneville, Mississippi (inset) recently reneged on renting to an engage couple after finding out the groom and bride-to be were from two different races. When the groom's sister, LaKambria S. Welch (right) paid the business a visit, an older white woman (left) told her on video that being forced to host an interracial marriage would violate the business owners' Christian beliefs. She said: 'First of all, we don't do gay weddings or mixed race, because of our Christian race… I mean our Christian beliefs..I don't want to argue my faith. We just don't participate. We just choose not to.'

  • 43. JayJonson  |  September 2, 2019 at 11:32 am

    This is the perfect case with which to challenge the Mississippi law, which clearly contravenes the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I hope the SPLC and Lambda Legal are listening.

  • 44. FredDorner  |  September 2, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Pretty much a guarantee that the owners are traditional Southern Baptists or a related variant like Free Will Baptists. Hopefully the adverse publicity puts them out of business even if the couple doesn't sue for the civil rights violation.

  • 45. Elihu_Bystander  |  September 2, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    If my memory serves me correctly, the Fifth Circuit dismissed the case without prejudice for lack of Article 3 standing–the plaintiffs could not show any concrete harm.

    That probably means the case can be refiled.

  • 46. VIRick  |  September 2, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    " . . . we don't do gay weddings or mixed race, because of our Christian race. . ."

    This is precisely what she truly meant to say. It has nothing to do with some garbage passing as her "religion," but rather, everything to do with her perception as to her own supposed racial superiority and racial purity. But this woman is also truly stupid, not only for the point just made, but also for unnecessarily adding in the extra point, which does not concern the party in question, regarding gay marriages. This is not a gay couple seeking a reception venue, but rather an inter-racial hetero couple.

    Furthermore, this woman does not run a wedding venue, nor does she have any authority to marry anyone. Instead, she merely rents out some facility which is used to host reception events (all sorts of receptions and events, like class reunions and anniversaries), and is a peripheral non-participant to the entire event, right alongside the flower arranger, the cake decorator, the calligrapher, and the videographer. All of them are confusing the word, "wedding," with that of "reception."

    Besides, the "wedding," as well as the "reception," are both meaningless, excess fluff, as one simply needs apply for a marriage license with the county clerk, after which, once obtained, the marriage itself is then legally registered before said county clerk, the sole points which are legally required.

    Note: Facebook link to Boone's Camp Event Hall has suddenly become unavailable:

  • 47. VIRick  |  September 2, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    A Pakistani-Indian Lesbian Wedding

    Bianca Maieli wore an ivory sari at her wedding to new wife, Saima Ahmad, who wore a sherwani, an outfit traditionally worn by males in South Asia. Maieli is a Muslim Pakistani woman and Ahmad is a Colombo-Indian Christian. The two married at a beautiful ceremony in California, which is where they live and where they met.

    Note: From what I can find on Google Search, a Colombo-Indian Christian actually refers to someone of the traditional Eastern Orthodox Christian community from Sri Lanka. That rite has been present in southwestern India and Sri Lanka for millennia, and pre-dates all European colonial efforts in the region by many centuries.

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