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11/1 news round-up and open thread

Transgender Rights

– The Trump administration announced a new rule that removes requirements that grant recipients from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) enforce nondiscrimination provisions on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

– Charles Rhines, who is on death row, is asking the Supreme Court, in a last-minute effort, to stop his execution. His lawyers say that he was given the death penalty only because some of the jurors knew he was gay and thought he would enjoy life in a men-only prison.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings


  • 1. VIRick  |  November 1, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    Barbados, St, Kitts-Nevis, Antigua/Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia: 5 New Legal Challenges Filed against Anti-Sodomy Laws

    Per Rex Wockner:

    Today, 1 November 2019, the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) announced the launch of five legal challenges to the remnants of draconian laws of our colonial past. The claims, all expected to be filed before the end of 2019, will challenge the buggery and indecency laws in Barbados, St. Kitts-Nevis, Antigua/Barbuda, Grenada, and St. Lucia.

    Executive Director of ECADE, Kenita Placide said, “this is four years in the making. While the process of litigation is important, the main part of this journey was to strengthen the organizations and communities within the countries they serve. We also needed to understand how these laws contribute to the stigmatization of LGBTQI people, how they legitimize hate speech, discrimination and violence, and tear at the heart of the family that our society, including our governments, has sworn to protect.”

    The intention to file these cases challenging the constitutionality of the buggery and indecency laws is the result of a process which commenced with a meeting organized by "United and Strong" of St. Lucia and "GrenCHAP" of Grenada in 2015. Organizations representing LGBTQI people and other marginalized groups from seven islands in the Eastern Caribbean came together for the first time, shared experiences and strategies, and created the regional advocacy hub that is ECADE.

    Adult, consensual, same-sex intimacy is criminalized in nine Caribbean countries, all of which are members of the Commonwealth. Discriminatory Penal Codes on the islands date back to the British colonial era, and unfairly target LGBT people. Although custodial sentences are rarely imposed, those convicted under these laws can face sentences ranging from ten years to life imprisonment.

    Veronica Cenac, a St. Lucia-based lawyer who serves on the board of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, said, “these archaic laws violate the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitutions, including the right to equality, privacy, freedom of expression, personal liberty, non-discrimination, and protection against inhuman and degrading treatment.”

    Filed by ECADE on behalf of member organizations and citizens who are affected by these discriminatory laws, these cases follow the four-year process developed at the Grenada meeting. ECADE has worked closely with our regional and international partners to support litigants in the cases. Our partners include a team of Caribbean lawyers; the Faculty of Law UWI Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP), operating from three of UWI’s four campuses, and the Human Dignity Trust.….

    Although LGBT advocates in Barbados have already filed a complaint against Barbados with the CIDH, the new case challenging the Barbados anti-sodomy law, cited above, is filed directly in Barbados court.

    Separate legal challenges to the antiquated, colonial-era anti-sodomy laws have already been filed against Jamaica, Dominica, and St. Vincent/Grenadines. This only leaves Guyana without a direct court challenge.

  • 2. VIRick  |  November 1, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    Colombia: 20 LGBT Election Winners

    Per Caribe Afirmativo:

    In a previous post, we had identified 19 LGBT candidates who had won a seat at some level in the recent regional elections in Colombia. One more, a third deputy to a departmental assembly, in a close election race, has now been declared:

    Catherine Morales, Diputada del Valle del Cauca (Cali)

    giving us 1 alcaldesa, 3 diputaciones, 10 concejos, y 6 ediles.

    Previously, Colombian voters had never elected an openly LGBT candidate to a seat in any of the country's 32 departmental assembles. This time, as a new first, they elected three.

  • 3. ianbirmingham  |  November 2, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    New Trump rule would let faith-based foster care and adoption agencies exclude LGBTQ families, yet continue to receive taxpayer funding

    'It is outrageous that the Trump administration would mark the start of National Adoption Month by announcing a rule to further limit the pool of loving homes available to America's 440,000 foster children,' said Julie Kruse, director of federal policy at Family Equality. 'The American public overwhelmingly opposes allowing taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to turn away qualified parents simply because they are in a same-sex relationship.'

  • 4. VIRick  |  November 2, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    Panamá: At the World's Crossroads on Marriage Equality

    per Adolfo Berrios Riaño, Panamanian journalist/Human Rights activist in Panamá

    The (current) Constitution of Panamá does not contemplate any specific protection for citizens with different sexual identities or orientation. The Family Code, a legal text that dictates family issues, specifically stipulates that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. So same-sex marriage is illegal.

    Adoption is also not an option for same-sex couples. In one case, a gay couple married overseas and adopted a child. They are fighting so their son can obtain Panamanian citizenship, since the law does not recognize them as his legitimate parents.

    Right now, Panamá is in the process of massive Constitutional reforms. Among the proposals is one to incorporate the definition of marriage as solely that of the union between a man and a woman into the (revised) Constitution, not just the Family Code. Another would stipulate that International Law should never be considered superior to Panamanian law (as is at present).

    This last point comes from the fear by many conservative and religious groups that have observed the worldwide trend in which Supreme Courts of many countries such as the United States, Mexico, Colombia (and Costa Rica) have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. There are three lawsuits before the Supreme Court of Panamá regarding this very issue and a lot of anticipation about the final ruling.

    Note: By my count, there are four such cases before the Supreme Court. However, until now, I had been unaware of what one could deem to be the fifth case, that is, of the adoption case involving a same-sex couple who had already legally married abroad, and the question of citizenship for their adopted child born abroad.

    For the entire past week, there have been boisterous protests outside the National Assembly, rejecting any number of the constitutional proposals, not just the one directly concerning marriage equality and/or the one slated to block interpretation of international law as superior to Panamanian law, as per multiple international treaties which Panamá has already signed, including the one in which Panamá conceded that CIDH rulings are binding (vinculante) upon Panamá.

  • 5. VIRick  |  November 2, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Colorado: ADF Hate Group Challenge Appealed to 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

    A Colorado website designer has filed an appeal with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the state’s anti-discrimination law, which she says will not allow her to refuse to make wedding websites for same-sex couples.

    Court documents from last Friday, 26 October 2019, obtained by the Denver-based "Westword," show that Lorie Smith, of "303 Creative," does not actually make wedding websites yet, nor have any gay clients explicitly asked her to do so.

    But in 2016, she filed suit claiming that she wanted to post a notice on her website saying that as a Christian, she “will not be able to create websites for same-sex marriages or any other marriage that is not between one man and one woman.”

    Smith knew, however, that doing so would likely be a violation of Colorado’s statute banning LGBTQ discrimination. Instead of waiting for the chance to deny services to a gay couple, Smith “decided to challenge the law in court before it was enforced against her," as her attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom write on the group's website.

    Federal district courts repeatedly ruled against Smith, with Judge Marcia S. Krieger dryly noting in September 2017 that “the Court cannot determine the imminent likelihood that anyone, much less a same-sex couple, will request [Smith’s] services.” Krieger later, in her 2019 dismissal of the case, observed that Smith was using her challenge to one clause of the statute — which would ban the posting of a notice saying she intended to discriminate — “as a Trojan Horse to challenge the Accommodations clause indirectly.” In other words, Smith was trying, and failing, to target the part of the law that bans the denial of goods and services to LGBTQ people by objecting to the clause that bans communicating about doing so.

  • 6. VIRick  |  November 2, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Kentucky Supreme Court Dismisses Lawsuit against Anti-LGBT Printer

    On a technicality, the Kentucky Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit brought against a shop that refused to print T-shirts for Lexington’s 2012 Pride Festival. “The court sidestepped debates over civil rights and the freedoms of religion and speech by ruling on a legal technicality, that the party that brought the claim — the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization — lacked the statutory standing to do so because it was not the party denied service by the business,” the "Lexington Herald-Leader" reports.

    The party who was denied service by Hands On Originals has not been identified, but that person is the one who should have brought the complaint, the court ruled Thursday, 1 November 2019. It was the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, as sponsor of the Pride Festival, that filed a complaint with the Lexington Human Rights Commission.

    The Human Rights Commission in 2014 found the shop had violated Lexington’s Fairness Ordinance, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, in refusing to print the T-shirts. Blaine Adamson, the co-owner and manager, said his conservative Christian beliefs prevented him from doing providing goods bearing a pro-LGBTQ message. The commission did not impose a fine on the store, but it ordered Hands On to cease discrimination and provide sensitivity training for its staff.

    The Fayette Circuit Court overturned that decision on appeal in 2015, finding that the refusal was based not on the customer’s identity but on the message the shirts would convey, and that his constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religion allowed him to reject work that would send that message. The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld that decision, so the Human Rights Commission went to the state Supreme Court.

    Adamson and his lawyers, from the anti-LGBTQ hate group, Alliance Defending Freedom, had argued again in the Supreme Court that his objection was based on the message of the shirts, not the customer’s orientation. But, as the "Herald-Leader" observed, the court chose not to deal with that issue.

    “While this result is no doubt disappointing to many interested in this case and its potential outcome, the fact that the wrong party filed the complaint makes the discrimination analysis almost impossible to conduct, including issues related to freedom of expression and religion,” Justice Laurance Van Meter wrote for the court majority.

  • 7. VIRick  |  November 3, 2019 at 7:14 am

    Buttigieg and a Gay US President: "Get Used to It"

    South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has a message to countries with anti-gay laws on the books like Saudi Arabia and Russia: Better get used to dealing with a gay US President. The gay 2020 presidential hopeful made the comments Saturday night, 2 November 2019, during a town hall at Decorah High School in Iowa in response to a question submitted by an audience member.

    The campaign staffer who read the question asked Buttigieg how he’d deal with international leaders from countries “like Saudi Arabia and Russia, where it’s illegal to be gay.”

    “So, they’re going to have to get used to it,” Buttigieg said.

    The audience, which was an estimated 1,000 people in a small town of 8,000, responded with roaring and sustained applause far greater than any other cheers throughout the evening. Other responses to Buttigieg’s lines about action on guns and removing Trump from the White House were loud, but didn’t come close.

  • 8. ianbirmingham  |  November 3, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    Transgender Democrat Danica Roem is facing a transphobic ad blitz as she seeks re-election

    Roem made history as the first out transgender state lawmaker in 2017, when she won a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Although she primarily campaigned on local issues, Roem’s opponents have sought to weaponise her gender identity as she seeks re-election. The anti-LGBT Family Foundation Action has been targeting Roem online with Facebook ads that conflate Democratic healthcare policies with her own gender identity.

    LGBTQ Victory Fund, which supports LGBT candidates, also decried the ad – noting that Family Foundation Action has “strong ties” to Roem’s opponent Kelly McGinn. Annise Parker said: “Throughout this campaign, Kelly McGinn was careful to hide from voters her years of advocacy for anti-LGBTQ and anti-women causes. McGinn “has a long history of opposing equality for LGBTQ people,” having signed a letter comparing same-sex marriage to slavery, and decrying same-sex adoption as a “social experiment on our children.”

    Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence is heading out on the campaign trail ahead of elections in the state on Tuesday. Geoff Wetrosky of Human Rights Campaign said: “Vice President Mike Pence and the legislative candidates he’s in Virginia to support have demeaned LGBTQ people in an effort to dehumanize us and pander to an ever-shrinking bloc of anti-equality voters.”

  • 9. VIRick  |  November 3, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    UK: Out Scottish MP to Resign over Groping Incident

    Conservative MP Ross Thompson has announced he will resign, after he was accused of groping a Labour MP in a Parliamentary bar. Glasgow North East Labour MP Paul Sweeney had spoken out about the issue on Sunday, 3 November 2019, revealing that he reported the Conservative MP to Parliament’s standards watchdog over the incident at Strangers’ Bar inside Parliament.

    Thompson, the out MP for Aberdeen South, denies any wrongdoing and dismissed the claims as a “political smear.” However, he announced on Sunday that he will not run in the 12 December snap election following the claims.

    Thompson said in a statement: “This is a political smear and I will continue to fight to clear my name. I will see this investigatory process through to a conclusion. I have suffered a level of personal abuse that has affected my health, my mental well-being and my staff. It has been a level of abuse that I never imagined possible. I have therefore made the most difficult decision that I could ever make. I have decided that I will stand down as the Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate for Aberdeen South.”

  • 10. VIRick  |  November 4, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    Ireland: Same-Sex Couples to Be Allowed Both Names on Birth Certificates

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    Today, 4 November 2019, the Irish Health Minister, Simon Harris, signed regulations allowing LGBT couples to both be named on a child's birth certificate, starting from 5 May 2020.

    In addition to these new rules, Harris has agreed to examine other areas of law reform required to support all LGBT families and will be committing to work on these issues in coming weeks and months. He said: “Today is a really important day, as we sign the regulations to commence parts of the Children and Family Relationships Act.

  • 11. VIRick  |  November 4, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Northern Mariana Islands: Same-Sex Marriage Up-Date

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    During fiscal year 2019 (from 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2019), the Saipan mayor’s office registered 256 same-sex marriages, the mayor’s marriage coordinator Barbara Yamada said. Of these same-sex marriages, 59 were male couples, while 197 were female couples. “Most of the couples are from China,” Yamada said.

    Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said there has been a slight decrease in marriage applications. “It’s not like before when we had 10 to 12 marriages each day,” he added.

    In FY 2019, there were 619 wedding ceremonies of which 496 were officiated by the mayor’s office, 53 by the church, and 70 by the court. There were 310 marriages between US residents; 307 between non-residents; and two for US residents and non-residents.

    Note: From these statistics, one can clearly see that the Northern Mariana Islands almost doubled the number of marriages registered in the territory by allowing non-residents to marry there (the vast bulk of which, one presumes from other comments made, being marriages between same-sex couples from China).

  • 12. VIRick  |  November 4, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    New York: 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Grants Preliminary Injunction in Adoption Agency Non-Discrimination Case

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 4 November 2019, in "New Hope Family Services v. Poole," the federal appeal wherein which an ADF-represented adoption agency is challenging New York's non-discrimination requirements, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has granted New Hope a preliminary injunction, pending resolution of its appeal, and has set oral argument for Wednesday, 13 November. The injunction is granted with conditions, including a requirement that the agency "shall not accept any new prospective adoptive parents for adoption services."

    The panel will be: Circuit Judges José A. Cabranes and Reena Raggi and District Judge Edward R. Korman.

    District Court Judge Mae A. D'Agostino had dismissed the lawsuit on 16 May 2019. That opinion is here:

    Today's Order from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals is here:

  • 13. VIRick  |  November 4, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Germany: Draft Bill to Ban "Conversion Therapy" Released

    On Monday, 4 November 2019, Health Minister Jens Spahn, who is gay, released the draft of a bill to ban "conversion therapy," as reported by "Deutsche Welle." It would ban use of the practice, designed to turn LGBTQ people straight or cisgender, on people under age 18. Adults could still undergo such "therapy," unless they were deceived, coerced, or threatened into doing so. And people ages 16 to 18 could undergo the "therapy" if they could show they understood its implications.

    If the German bill becomes law, therapists who violate it could be imprisoned for up to a year or have to pay a fine, according to "Deutsche Welle." Anyone who advertises or offers the widely discredited practice would be fined 30,000 euro once it becomes law. Parliament will likely vote on the bill next year, but it has not yet been scheduled for consideration, a spokesman for the Health Ministry told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

  • 14. VIRick  |  November 4, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Argentina: President-Elect Fernández Proud of His Drag Queen Son

    Argentina's president-elect is proud of his son, a notable drag performer and cosplayer in the South American nation. Alberto Fernández praised Estanislao, who is also known by the name Dyhzy, in an interview with Radio Con Vos via "Ushuaia Noticias."

    Estanislao is “one of the most creative persons in my life," Fernández told the radio outlet, according to a translation from MecroPress. “My son is a rights activist in that community. I would worry if my son were a criminal, but he is a great man,” he said. “In that world, which I don’t know much about, he seems to be respected and very recognized. I feel proud for my son.” Estanislao's creative gifts are on full display in his social media accounts, as recent posts to Instagram include a number of impressive drag transformations.

    President-elect Fernández, a champion of LGBTQ rights, represents a new era for the country's queer citizens. He bested the right-wing incumbent, Mauricio Macri, last week in the presidential election.

    However, Estanislao's passion for drag has made him a political target ever since his father announced his candidacy last May. Trolls have frequently come for the politician and his son — among them Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of the anti-LGBTQ president of Brasil, Jair Bolsonaro.

    In retort to the latest tasteless idiocy from Bolsonaro, Estanislao shot back in Portuguese on Twitter: “Brazilian brothers, we are in this fight together. I love you," along with a rainbow emoji. “Many people from Brasil began to follow me and I want to tell the LGBTIQ community and allies of Brasil that we are in this fight together,” Estanislao then stated on his own Twitter account in Spanish. “Remember that love always conquers hatred and among us, we must always take care of ourselves,” he declared.

    Note: Since Argentina tends to lead the rest of South America in the pendulum swing back and forth between right and left, let us hope that these election results are a portent of additional upcoming gains throughout the region. In the meantime, we will have the creative "First Son" of Argentina at the forefront, pushing for LGBT rights, while simultaneously being far more entertaining than the doltishly uninspiring "First Son" of Brasil, who is about as brilliant as Uday and Qusay.

    The contrast between the two is stark, as seen in the comparative photo near the bottom of the article marked, "Filho do presidente da Argentina" (left) and "Filho do presidente do Brasil" (right).

  • 15. JayJonson  |  November 5, 2019 at 6:43 am

    What is a "cosplayer"?

  • 16. ianbirmingham  |  November 5, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Adding to the rather G-rated definition VIRick provided, "cosplay" is the popular practice of having sex while dressed for and acting in a specific role. Examples include "Catholic School Student & Teacher", "Nurse & Patient", "Boss & Secretary", "President & Intern", "Sailors At Sea", etc., and those are just the tame examples. Just as a hint of the less tame examples, consider "Sex-Starved Stepmother & Horny Son" or "Sex Education Class". The Reddit group "NSFWcosplay" has over 470 thousand participants, indicating very strong popularity.

  • 17. VIRick  |  November 5, 2019 at 8:48 am

    According to Wikipedia, cosplay, a portmanteau of the words "costume play," is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific fictional character.

    Furthermore, Estanislao, 24, is the only child of President-elect Alberto Ángel Fernández who will assume office on 10 December 2019. His Vice-president will be the former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (commonly known in Argentina by her initials, CFK), who as president signed the law in 2010 legalizing same-sex marriage in Argentina, the first in all of Latin America, and then followed that by the 2012 signing of the Gender Identity Law. At the time of its passage, Argentina was the "only country to allow people to change their gender identities without facing barriers such as hormone therapy, surgery, or psychiatric diagnosis that labeled them as having an abnormality."

    Alberto Fernández served as the Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers (2003-08) during the entire presidency of Néstor Carlos Kirchner (2003-07) and then continued in that position on into the first portion of his wife's two-term presidency (2007-15), that is, of that of the same Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, now to be Vice-President.

    Here is the original "MercoPress" article about Estanislao:

  • 18. VIRick  |  November 4, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    Buttigieg Slams Trump Adoption Decision as "Huge Step Backward"

    Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg has slammed Trump’s decision to allow publicly-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ families.

    “It’s a huge step backward,” Buttigieg told the "Washington Blade." “It’s bad enough that discrimination is taking place across the country, but when discrimination is being supported with federal funds, it takes away, first of all the movement toward justice and equality, but also removes an opportunity for the federal government to show leadership in advancing equality.”

    On Friday, 1 November 2019, the administration announced it would allow adoption agencies and other social programs receiving Health and Human Services grants to refuse service for LGBTQ individuals and others who offend their religious sensibilities, on the basis of so-called "religious freedom." That includes refusing to place children with same-sex couples and other rainbow families, denying HIV services to gender and sexual minorities, and turning queer youth away from homeless shelters.

    The decision rolls back a 2016 executive order by then-President Barack Obama that prohibited recipients of federal grants from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Buttigieg said that the move by the Trump administration is unfortunately consistent with “a whole bunch of things they’ve done on the administrative side.”

  • 19. VIRick  |  November 5, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Bavispe, Sonora/Janos, Chihuahua: Mexican-American Mormon Communities

    The following is a pastiche from several accounts of the incident, in combination with my own knowledge of the region:

    A convoy of 3 SUVs, carrying various members of the extended Le Baron family, all dual-citizen Mexican-Americans of a fundamentalist (polygamous) Mormon off-shoot group who have lived in the area since the 1880s, was attacked by gunmen Monday night, 4 November 2019, while travelling on an isolated dirt road near the Sonora/Chihuahua state line. Nine are dead (all 3 women and 6 children), and 5 more are severely injured, all children. One infant survived unhurt.

    They were travelling from the La Mora community near Bavispe, Sonora. One woman was on her way to pick up her husband at the Phoenix airport. The other two were on their way to Janos, Chihuahua, to attend a wedding to be held there in another Mormon community, presumably Colonia Juárez, the site of a Mormon temple in the southern part of that municipality, southwest of the adjacent municipality of Nuevo Casas Grandes, yet another Mormon community.

    Bavispe is located in northeast Sonora, abutting the Chihuahua state line (and the southern part of Janos municipality), and is directly south-east of Agua Prieta, the most northeasterly municipality in Sonora. Agua Prieta, in turn, sits on the international border, adjacent to Douglas, Arizona. Janos, Chihuahua, is the most northwesterly municipality in Chihuahua, due east of Agua Prieta along Mexico Route 2, and one that encompasses a huge area. It too sits just south of the international border, abutting Hidalgo County, New Mexico.

    But something is not right, as Phoenix is north and the southern part of Janos municipality and neighboring Nuevo Casas Grandes is east. The attack apparently occurred within Chihuahua state, as that state's Attorney-General has become involved in the investigation. But there was no need for the woman heading to Phoenix to be in Chihuahua state at all, as the most direct route for her was north from Bavispe to Agua Prieta-Douglas-Tucson-Phoenix. If the other two women had chosen to accompany her to the border, they would have then proceeded due east, Agua Prieta-Janos, on Mexico Route 2, a busy, paved east-west artery running parallel to, but just south of the international border, and would not have even crossed into Chihuahua state until about half way there.

    Yet, the attack took place on a dirt track in Chihuahua state, meaning that the women were taking an out-of-the-way "short-cut," heading straight east from Bavispe and on up and over the Sierra Chihuahua (the continental divide) directly to Colonia Juárez. Still, this is definitely not the way to Phoenix. And the only explanation for the attack itself appears to be that of mistaken identity,– 3 large SUVs convoying through the isolated mountains on a dirt track were taken to be the approach of a rival gang by some trigger-happy locos.

    One family surname associated with Colonia Juárez is that of Romney. Another is Hatch.

  • 20. ianbirmingham  |  November 5, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    Press reports indicate that "They were en route to see family in the state of Chihuahua for a wedding that was scheduled for Friday" and "Rhonita was driving to Phoenix on Monday with her four children to pick up her husband at the airport following his work trip."

    According to this map, they were killed near Bavispe (inside Sonora):

    "Christina’s son Devin walked 13 miles to get help from relatives. He covered his injured siblings with branches before trying to make out where the shots were coming from to avoid the gunmen as he walked away. Relatives say he reached the [La Mora] community six hours later. Family members alerted authorities before arming themselves with guns to go out searching for the injured children."

    "Senator for Sonora, Lilly Téllez, tweeted: 'The massacre in Sonora cannot go unpunished.'"

  • 21. VIRick  |  November 5, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    This is also a fairly remote, mountainous region, and early reports were incomplete, confused, and conflicting. So, the attack must have occurred much nearer to Bavispe than originally thought,– while still in Sonora state, and not in Chihuahua state, despite the fact that Chihuahua state officials quickly began their investigation of it. That also explains another early report of the "missing child," as Devin, uninjured and one of the older children, had safely departed the scene to seek help 13 miles away (despite just seeing his own mother murdered and one of the other vehicles catch fire and explode, killing all its occupants).

    That map also shows where I once lived, the only other place to actually be named. From there, toward Bavispe, on a very long, all-day adventure/ordeal to kill mountain lions on an isolated cattle ranch owned by the uncle of gay twins I knew from university, we all carried guns. We went eastward toward the mountains for miles and miles on a hot, dusty, rutted dirt track, dipping down through a multitude of dry washes (arroyos), and climbing back up the other side, in an open-air, 4-wheel Jeep. As we approached yet one more, the overhanging brush was very close to me, and was inhabited by a giant poisonous tarantula the size of a serving platter, just overhead. Suddenly, a shot was fired and tarantula guts were splattered everywhere, as the less flamboyant twin standing as "lookout" and riding "shotgun" in the back had just killed it. We never did encounter any mountain lions, but that is the kind of rough, hot, dry territory where this attack on the Mormons occurred.

    It might also be worth noting that Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice, grew up on an isolated cattle ranch straddling the Arizona-New Mexico state line not more than 200 miles further north, near Duncan AZ.

  • 22. ianbirmingham  |  November 6, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    A heavily armed suspected drug lord has been arrested and is under investigation for the slaughter of nine Americans. The suspect – only identified as a 30-year-old man named Leonardo – was found late Tuesday in the town of Agua Prieta, right at the border with the U.S. state of Arizona, holding two hostages who were gagged and tied inside a vehicle, Mexico's Agency for Criminal Investigation said. Authorities said the suspect, who is part of an El Chapo rival cartel, was also found in the possession of four assault rifles and ammunition, as well as various large vehicles including a bullet-proofed SUV. The hostages are not believed to be related to the nine LeBaron family victims who were killed on Monday while traveling in a convoy of three SUVS on a dirt road in Sonora state.

    Officials have said that the cartel gunmen may have mistaken the group's large SUVs for those of a rival gang amid a vicious turf war. They also blamed Juarez drug cartel and its armed wing, La Linea, for the attack on the LeBaron family. La Linea's gunmen had entered Sinaloa cartel territory and set up an armed outpost on a hilltop and an ambush further up the road.

    The Sinaloa cartel was previously headed by Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán. The area where the attack occurred is dominated by a Sinaloa cartel offshoot called the Salazar. The Juarez cartel apparently wanted to send a message that it controlled the road into Chihuahua. It was this invasion force that the American mothers and their three vehicles drove into. It was only after the first vehicle belonging to the family was shot up and set alight that 50 or 60 Sinaloa cartel gunmen showed up to see what had happened.

    'It is believed that the La Linea criminal organization acted on a threat from the Salazars to enter Chihuahua,' General Homero Mendoza said. 'It decided to send a cell to the Janos and Bavispe city limits… This cell was sent to stop any incursion of the Salazar criminal cell to Chihuahua.'

    The military general also said that La Linea and the Salazars were involved in another shootout earlier on Monday that resulted in the death of a man.

  • 23. VIRick  |  November 5, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Virginia: 2019 Election Results: Democrats Win Control of Legislature

    In elections on Tuesday, 5 November 2019, Democrats in Virginia finally won control of the state legislature, opening the door for lawmakers there to pass new gun-control laws, a higher minimum wage, statewide LGBT non-discrimination protections, plus a host of other measures Republicans have long opposed, as well as have influence in the drawing of political boundaries with data from the 2020 census..

    Wresting both the House and Senate from the GOP’s grip gives Democrats a trifecta, across-the-board political control in Richmond for the first time in 26 years. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, still has two years left in his term. The AP called both tallies for the Democrats, who needed to pick up several seats across both chambers to take control.

    The Virginia contests drew intense national attention, high-profile campaigners, and millions of dollars in out-of-state donations, and were seen as a key test of voter enthusiasm and party momentum ahead of the nationwide 2020 elections.

    At the moment, the 40-member Senate results show:
    21 Democrats
    18 Republicans (with one more leading)

    The 100-member House of Delegates results show:
    53 Democrats (with 2 more leading)
    42 Republicans (with 2 more leading
    01 Independent leading

    Of particular note, in Prince William County, the transgender incumbent, Danica Roem (D), of the 13th House district, beat her opponent Mc Ginn (R) by a wide margin, 57% to 43%.

    Pivotal for the Virginia Senate, the Democrats finally flipped the 13th Senate district in Loudoun County, the up-scale area around and west of Dulles Airport, where John Bell (D) beat his opponent Geary Higgins (R), an unabashed Trump supporter, complete with Trump endorsement, 54% to 46%.

    Even more extraordinary, in the 10th Senate district, covering a western portion of Richmond, Ghazala Hashmi (D) beat the incumbent Glen Sturtevant (R) by a margin of 55% to 45%, making her the first Muslim-American ever elected to the Virginia Senate.

  • 24. VIRick  |  November 5, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    Kentucky: A Democrat Wins the Governor's Race

    The Kentucky Governor's race had been too close to call, but shows the Democratic challenger, Andy Beshear, with a slight lead over the Republican incumbent, Matt Bevin:

    49.2% Andy Beshear (D)
    48.8% Matt Bevin (R)

    Up-Date: Andy Beshear, the Kentucky state Attorney-General since 2016, and the son of Steve Beshear, the state's 61st governor (2007-15), has won the race for governor, narrowly beating the incumbent, Matt Bevin.

  • 25. ianbirmingham  |  November 5, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    Warren pledges to overturn military transgender ban on Day 1

    The Massachusetts senator who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination maintains her first step as president would be to overturn President Donald Trump's decision to prohibit transgender troops in the military. "I'll reverse it on the first day of my presidency," she says in the plan, insisting "the only thing that should matter when it comes to allowing military personnel to serve is whether or not they can handle the job." That also means "providing all medically necessary care related to the health of transgender people" such as transition-related surgery, according to her "Keeping Our Promises to Our Service Members, Veterans, and Military Families," which is being released ahead of Veterans Day.

  • 26. ianbirmingham  |  November 5, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    Danica Roem: 1st openly trans person to win reelection in a state legislature

    Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D) was reelected on Tuesday, becoming the first openly trans person to win reelection in a state legislature. LGBTQ advocacy groups were quick to praise Roem's reelection, calling it a historic moment. Roem [previously] made history in 2017 when she became the first openly trans elected official, defeating longtime Republican Del. Robert Marshall.

  • 27. scream4ever  |  November 5, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    I would love nothing more than for her to sponsor the repeal of the Marshall-Newman amendment which banned same-sex marriage in the state 🙂

  • 28. Elihu_Bystander  |  November 6, 2019 at 2:46 am

    I would like to think that Swing Left a grassroots get out the vote letter writing campaign had something to do with this outcome. I belong to Swing Left Fresno (CA). A state get out the vote non-profit from Virginia asked California Swing Left to personally encourage voting. We were asked to provide 30,000 personalized form letters asking people to vote. In our Fresno group, we personalized over 900 such letters. The form letter is personalized in the following manner: The writer hand writes the recipient's name on the Dear line, Then finishes the sentence: I always vote in every election because, again in your hand writing, finally the letter is signed by the person personalizing the letter. The envelop is hand addressed and return address of the non-profit sponsoring the campaign, finally the letter is hand stamped. The letters were group mailed to reach the recipients in the week before the election. BTW, in the Virginia letter writing campaign all letters were written to known registered voters. Consider finding a Swing Left group where you live and participate.

  • 29. ianbirmingham  |  November 6, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    This is a very worthy cause, as turnout is the biggest problem that the "Left" has. The right-wing minority always has high voter turnout. We have to have big turnout in order to win. Progressives staying home and not voting, or voting for a third-party candidate in a First-Past-The-Post election, is basically a vote to install new Antonin Scalias on the Supreme Court.

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