Sign Up to Receive Email Action Alerts From Issa Exposed

1/16 news round up and open thread

Discrimination Transgender Rights

– The Washington Blade reports that Trump-appointed Fifth Circuit judge Kyle Duncan refused to grant a request by incarcerated person who is transgender to be recognized by her preferred pronouns. The judge had previously worked to stop Gavin Grimm from being able to use the correct restroom at his Gloucester County high school. More here.

– The Tennessee legislature passed, and the governor says he’ll sign, a bill that gives adoption and foster care agencies the ability to block same-sex couples from adopting or participating in foster care.

We’ll post any breaking news.


  • 1. VIRick  |  January 16, 2020 at 11:26 am

    US Virgin Islands Government Files Suit to Seize All Assets of Epstein Estate

    On Wednesday, 15 January 2020, US Virgin Islands Attorney-General Denise George filed a civil complaint against the estate of Jeffrey Epstein and six named corporate entities of his creation. Before he died, his will was filed in the US Virgin Islands, and at the time of his death at the Manhattan Correctional Detention Center on 10 August 2019, Epstein officially was a resident of Little St. James in Pillsbury Sound, located between St. Thomas and St. John. The complaint further names, as defendants, those shell companies associated with Epstein's activities in the US territory.

    Entities named in the lawsuit include: The 1953 Trust, created by Epstein two days before his death, containing his financial assets; Nautilus Inc., owner of Little St. James; Great St. Jim LLC, owner of three parcels of land on Great St. James; Poplar Inc., a limited liability company holding the title for Great St. James; Plan D LLC, owner of aircraft that Justice officials say were used to transport sex trafficking victims; Hyperion Air LLC, registered owner of helicopters allegedly used to transport sex trafficking victims.

    The suit alleges Epstein carried out and concealed an expansive sex trafficking operation on the secluded private island of Little St. James, where he and his associates could avoid detection and prevent the escape of young women and girls they lured with money and promises of employment. According to the complaint, flight logs show that between 2001 and 2019, Epstein transported girls and young women to the US Virgin Islands and then took them by helicopter or another private vessel to Little St. James. There, they were forced to engage in sexual acts, the complaint said.

    As part of the complaint, the Virgin Islands is seeking to take over all assets used to carry out the alleged sex trafficking operation, including Little St. James and Great St. James, a second island Epstein acquired in 2016, as well as any money he and his many shell companies obtained through the enterprise. The suit seeks a judgment from the court declaring that Epstein engaged in a civil conspiracy involving human trafficking, forced labor, and sexual servitude in the US Virgin Islands. If the challenge succeeds, George said the government will also seek punitive damages against Epstein’s $577 million estate.

    The territory's Criminally Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act allows the government to acquire assets, impose civil penalties, and seek damages from enterprises engaged in criminal activity. Under the act, it may also disperse the assets to victims. In the complaint, the government asked the court to award "equitable relief" from any of Epstein's "ill-gotten gains" to "protect the rights of victims and innocent persons."

  • 2. VIRick  |  January 16, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    Virginia: 38th State to Ratify Equal Rights Amendment

    On Wednesday, 15 January 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, an important milestone needed to formally ensure gender equality is part of the US Constitution. The ERA passed in the House by a 59-40 vote margin and in the Senate by a 28-12 vote margin. Governor Ralph Northam has signaled his support for the measure.

    In 2017, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the ERA and Illinois followed suit in 2018. But in 2019, Virginia again failed to ratify it.

    In a press conference, Attorney-General Mark Herring described the vote as “historic and a major milestone in the fight for equality in this nation. I am preparing to take any steps necessary to ensure that Virginia is recognized as the 38th ratifying state,” said Herring. "And that the will of Virginians is carried out, and that the ERA is added to our Constitution, as it should be.”

  • 3. ianbirmingham  |  January 16, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    Congress specified a seven-year time limit for the ratification of ERA which expired many years ago, and one of the big questions now is whether or not it is even legally possible for Congress to extend that deadline. Another big question is whether or not Congress can recognize ratifications which took place in the past. A third question relates to the ERA's failure to specify coverage for US territories, which the more recently proposed "New ERA" attempts to address.

  • 4. VIRick  |  January 16, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    Bermuda Government Misses Critical Filing Deadline on Same-Sex Marriage Appeal

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    The Bermuda Government’s landmark appeal against same-sex marriage risks being thrown out by the Privy Council after a crucial deadline for the case was missed last month.

    The present case in London would settle the issue for Bermuda, after years of wrangling in the island’s courts and Parliament. It would also set a precedent for same-sex unions in the UK’s Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, as well as for a host of former territories/colonies, if heard at Britain’s highest court.

    However, "The Royal Gazette" understands that a key document for the Government’s side missed a filing deadline with the Privy Council on 13 December 2019.

    Yesterday, 15 January 2020, Rod Attride-Stirling, one of the lawyers for the side backing same-sex unions, said: “The whole appeal could be struck out tomorrow by the Privy Council.” He added: “We had an agreement with the Government that in a case of this importance, we would both use our best endeavors to have this dealt with quickly. That agreement was made early last year. Since then, the Government has done everything to frustrate and delay the hearing taking place. In an instance involving human rights issues, delaying the process of the application is wrong.”

    The battle over same-sex marriage was referred to the Privy Council after the Bermuda Court of Appeal ruled against the Government in November 2018. The Government had an automatic right of appeal, as the issue rested on a constitutional matter.

  • 5. VIRick  |  January 17, 2020 at 11:25 am

    Virginia: "Conversion Therapy" Ban Approved in Senate Committee

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    On 15 January 2020, in a 9-6 vote, the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee passed the bill banning "conversion therapy" on minors. This is the first time this bill has been approved in committee since it was first introduced six years ago.

  • 6. Randolph_Finder  |  January 20, 2020 at 10:13 pm

    Given that the entire Senate is 21D-19R. I would expect most if not all committees to be 1 more D than R, and as such, this one 8D-7R. I wonder who the R was that voted for the ban.

  • 7. scream4ever  |  January 22, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    Believe it or not it was Stephen Newman, who co-sponsored the Marshall-Newman amendment in 2006.

  • 8. Randolph_Finder  |  January 22, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    Wow. He was the Republican President Pro-tem in the last session, represents a *safe* R district. Interesting…

  • 9. VIRick  |  January 17, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    Puebla: Supreme Court Accepts Second "Action of Unconstitutionality" against State

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    Al admitir a trámite ambas "Acciones de Inconstitucionalidad" el 17 de enero 2020, la SCJN emplazó a los poderes legislativo y ejecutivo de Puebla para que en un plazo de 15 días hábiles rindan por escrito sus informes sobre el proceso legislativo se llevó para aprobar esta norma (de matrimonio igualitario), y así comenzar el periodo de instrucción, que podría llevar varios meses.

    Upon admitting both "Actions of Unconstitutionality" on 17 January 2020, the SCJN called upon the legislative and executive powers of Puebla to submit their reports within a period of 15 business days on the legislative process they have taken to approve this norm (of marriage equality), and thus begin the period of instruction, which could take several months.

    The first one accepted is Expediente 143/2019, currently #8 on the list of 211 pending "Acciones de Inconstitucionalidad," while the second one is Expediente 1/2020, currently #6 on the list.

  • 10. VIRick  |  January 17, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    South Korea: The Case of the First Transgender Soldier

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    The South Korean military said it will make an unprecedented decision about the future of transgender soldiers who serve in the armed forces following a non-commissioned officer's decision to undergo sex reassignment surgery. The case has sparked a wider discussion about the rights of gay and transgender South Koreans.

    During a briefing on Thursday, 16 January 2020, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said there are no regulations on the books that outline what to do when a transgender soldier undergoes transition surgery. A committee will decide in the coming days whether to discharge the soldier or allow her to keep serving in the military, the spokesman said. Under current regulations, transgender Koreans are prohibited from entering the military, but there are no regulations regarding soldiers in active service, the spokesman clarified.

    The soldier, who has not been named, underwent sex reassignment surgery in Thailand late last year while she was on personal leave. She is a professional officer who was not drafted, but rather, is someone who signed up for the military. She was identified by the Center for Military Human Rights Korea (CMHRK) as a tank officer, and had been receiving hormone therapy and psychological treatment before the surgery.

  • 11. VIRick  |  January 17, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Cyprus: First Same-Sex Civil Union to Occur in Prison

    A week ago, in early January 2020, Kevork Tontian, 34, and Wemson Gabral da Costa, 30, a queer couple in Cyprus who met in prison, obtained a civil union behind bars, the first such for the country.

    Tontian, a former heroin addict, landed in jail in 2015 on a drug-related charge, and was released in 2018. Upon being released, he was clean, but he had to face his family’s rejection because of his being gay, and had trouble finding a job.

    In the meantime, Da Costa still had two more years of prison time to serve. Originally from Brasil, they were also rejected by their family after coming out as gay, and as a result, started doing sex work. At some point, someone offered to pay for their grandmother’s medical expenses in exchange for smuggling drugs into Cyprus. They were arrested at the airport upon arriving on the island in 2015 and were sentenced to five years behind bars. Currently, Da Costa is undergoing hormone therapy as part of a transition.

    Tontian said that he subsequently broke the law so that he would be arrested and thus be able to live with Da Costa again. He was released a year later, but then got himself sent back to prison yet again.

    While they have faced some harassment from other inmates, the couple was able to obtain their civil union in prison. Cyprus does not recognize marriage equality, and since both Tontian and Da Costa are considered male under the law, they could not be married. However, prison officials obtained the paperwork they needed for the civil union, set up a ceremony that was attended by some of their friends in jail, and even provided a wedding cake. The couple are set to be released in June, and plan to stay in Cyprus.

    This is only the second same-sex civil union known to have taken place in prison anywhere within the European Union.

  • 12. VIRick  |  January 17, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    Chile Has Been a Secular State for 136 Years

    As a reminder to the several bible-beating UDI senators whose ignorance of Chilean law was on full display in the Senate chambers when discussing the marriage equality bill:

    Per Francisco Darmendrail, Periodista titulado Universidad de Concepción:

    El 16 de enero de 1884, se promulga la Ley de Matrimonio Civil. Elimina la facultad de la Iglesia Católica de consagrar y registrar los matrimonios entregándole dichas funciones al Estado. Regula el matrimonio de los no católicos, y no reconoce como legal el matrimonio religioso (de cualquier culto).

    On 16 January 1884, the Civil Marriage Law was promulgated. It eliminates the ability of the Catholic Church to consecrate and register marriages by transferring said functions to the State. It regulates the marriages of non-Catholics, and does not recognize religious marriages (of any denomination) as legal.

  • 13. allan120102  |  January 17, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    So I have been investigating about the constitutional commission of Chile and I see that one senator who vote against is there Victor Perez, but we have three in favor Francisco Huenchumilla , Felipe Harboe and Alfonso de urresti the remaining one is Andres Allamand but seeing as he is part of the RN and every member vote against I suppose he is going to be against, so we have a majority of 3-2.

    Where I am worried is actually the chambers of deputies were conservatives have 71 votes and joining all the left together we get 70 and that is joining all the left that is separate in many fractions, I have seen in twitter one deputy saying he is against and voting no since now and will try to convince a majority for a bad vote for us. I hope they dont because it will probably take another 10 years for all the process to happen against, will prefer the senate to have it as much as I can until a more favorable environment in the house.

  • 14. VIRick  |  January 18, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Allan, actually, Andrés Allamand did not vote on the measure on the evening of the critical vote in the Senate. There are 40 Senators in the Chilean Senate, and we needed a 55% majority vote in favor, meaning we needed a minimum of 22 favorable votes. The final vote was 22 in favor, 16 against, and 1 abstention. However, that only tallies to 39. In addition, Allamand was marked as "pareo."

    As best as I can determine, "pareo" (stopped) must mean that he was absent, and that his vote was stopped (not counted). Having lived there for an interval, I am aware that Chileans have a habit of using non-standard Spanish as a local dialect, and this is a likely example. Instead, I would have said he was "ausente." However, at the time of the vote, it is quite clear that Allamand did not miss the session by going to the beach wearing a pareo to cover his mini-bikini, the more standard usage for the word "pareo."

    In any case, among the 7 RN Senators, although 5 voted against the marriage equality measure, there was also one abstention and one "pareo." This same limited splintering could also happen among the House RN Deputies, as well. Only the 11 UDI Senators, albeit the largest party, presented a uniform negative phalanx. Movilh still provides us with the best breakdown, here:

    For the remainder of its time at the Senate in the Constitution Commission, the Marriage Equality Law is in good hands, with Huenchumilla (DC), Harboe (PPD), and De Urresti (PS) forming the majority, leaving Allamand (RN) and Pérez (UDI) as the minority.

  • 15. VIRick  |  January 18, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    7th Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Ruling Requiring Indiana to Recognize Both Parents on a Child's Birth Certificate

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 17 January 2020, in "Henderson v. Adams," the state of Indiana's appeal of the district court ruling requiring both mothers be listed on a child's birth certificate when the child is born to a married couple, in a case argued back in May 2017 before Flaum, Easterbrook, and Sykes, with Easterbrook writing the decision, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has finally affirmed the district court ruling:

    "The district court’s order requiring Indiana to recognize the children of these plaintiffs as legitimate children, born in wedlock, and to identify both wives in each union as parents, is affirmed."

  • 16. VIRick  |  January 19, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    I deeply miss Richard Posner's presence on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and his novel theories, like that of the slowly boiled frog. Had he been on this panel, instead of the three who actually were, I am rather certain he would have had a breezy, yet decisive decision issued in this case within a matter of weeks, instead of it dragging on for 2 years and 8 months.

    Still, this was a particularly difficult panel who heard the appeal by the state of Indiana, in what Posner probably would have determined to be a slam-dunk matter, particularly given the binding precedent already established regarding two-parent recognition on birth certificates, as per the Supreme Court ruling against the state of Arkansas on the identical issue in "Pavan v. Smith," the case where Gorsuch proved himself to be a fool in his very first dissent by not even understanding the question.

    However, in the present instance, the panel finally did understand the question, and reached the same conclusion as in "Pavan v. Smith," citing that decision numerous times, even drawing comparisons, including admonishing the state for attempting to hitch 3 unrelated, antiquated Indiana state laws together in their vain effort to reach a purely biological conclusion as to whom was to be listed on children's birth certificates in the state of Indiana, laws which do not take into account such matters as IVF, nor the fact that both women in the couple could literally both be mothers (as was one couple, this being a consolidated appeal from numerous plaintiffs within the state). Laws in the state of Indiana are not even keeping abreast of medical science, let alone same-sex marriage, even without a retrograde interpretation by the state of the several out-of-date laws they do have.

  • 17. allan120102  |  January 18, 2020 at 10:04 pm

    Bhutan house committee wants to retain the ban on homosexual relationships. Honestly I didn't expect that . The debate and probably we will know the outcome on monday.

  • 18. VIRick  |  January 20, 2020 at 10:42 am

    Yucatán: Full State Constitutional Court Hearing Latest Marriage Equality Challenges

    Per Carlos Escoffié:

    Hoy, 20 de enero 2020, el Pleno del Tribunal Constitucional de Yucatán está discutiendo nuevamente el tema de omisión legislativa por matrimonio igualitario en el estado.

    Today, 20 January 2020, the full Constitutional Court of Yucatán is once again discussing the issue of the legislative omission of marriage equality in the state.

    Per César Briceño:

    Pese a reconocer discriminación en la Constitución Estatal, el Poder Judicial de Yucatán se dijo atado de manos y desecho una de las demandas por omisión legislativa contra el Congreso de Yucatán, dejando claro que es responsabilidad de los legisladores aprobar el matrimonio igualitario.

    Despite recognizing discrimination in the State Constitution, the Yucatán Judiciary said its hands were tied and dismissed one of the lawsuits for legislative omission against the Yucatán Congress, leaving it clear that it is the responsibility of the legislators to approve marriage equality.

    In a 7-4 vote, today's dicta from the Yucatan State Constitutional Court can be found here:

    One point worth noting:

    . . . la regularidad constitucional violentada cuando el Congreso del Estado, el Gobernador del Estado, o los Ayuntamientos no expidan alguna disposición de carácter general . . .

    . . . the constitutional regularity was violated when neither the State Congress, the State Governor, nor the City Councils issued any general provision . . .

    Within Yucatán, this reaffirms that all three have the power to change the law (within their area of jurisdiction) to allow for marriage equality. In other words, the governor can also issue a statewide decree and the various municipalities can also change the law within their specific municipalities.

  • 19. VIRick  |  January 20, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Switzerland: Referendum to Add Sexual Orientation to Anti-Racism Legislation

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    On 9 February 2020, in the latest referendum, Swiss voters will decide on extending the scope of anti-racism legislation to include discrimination based on sexual orientation. This revision is essential as current law does not protect against incitement to hatred against homosexuals, says Muriel Waeger, director of the Swiss Lesbian Organization and the Swiss Gay Federation for French-speaking Switzerland.

  • 20. VIRick  |  January 20, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Migrantes Homosexuales y Trans Piden Ayuda a la Comunidad LGBT de México

    Per EFE:

    Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas – Este lunes, el 20 de enero 2020, Centroamericanos homosexuales y trans que viajan en la caravana migrante piden la atención y la ayuda de la comunidad LGBT mexicana por el riesgo que corren sus vidas, y la discriminación que padecen tanto de sus compañeros de viaje como de las autoridades migratorias.

    La caravana está conformada por miles de personas – son más de 2,500 personas y la cifra no deja de crecer – y decenas de ellos formaron un grupo LGBT para visibilizar que deben escapar de Centroamérica por la persecución que sufren por su orientación sexual e identidad de género.

    El Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) de México informó este fin de semana que han atendido a un total de 1.087 migrantes, de los que 663 fueron en esta zona fronteriza de Chiapas, y 424 en la localidad de El Ceibo en Tabasco.

    Dentro de la caravana hay quienes prefieren quedarse en México que llegar a Estados Unidos, como Pedro, un guatemalteco gay de 22 años que partió en 2018 con en otra caravana migrante, y sufrió una deportación porque un juez estadounidense le negó refugio. "Estados Unidos, para mí, de pasar a ser el sueño americano, se convirtió en la peor pesadilla que me pudo haber pasado. Estuve nueve meses en una detención donde sufría acoso sexual, no solo de mis compañeros, de los oficiales, los agentes de ICE (Servicio de Inmigración y Aduanas de Estados Unidos)," relata.
    (to continue in English)

  • 21. VIRick  |  January 20, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    Homosexual and Trans Migrants Ask for Help from the LGBT Community of Mexico

    Per EFE:

    Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas – This Monday, 20 January 2020, gay and trans Central Americans traveling in the migrant caravan asked for the attention and help of the Mexican LGBT community due to the risk they face with their lives, and to the discrimination they suffer from both their travel companions and the immigration authorities.

    The caravan is made up of thousands of people – there are more than 2,500 and the number does not stop growing – and dozens of them formed an LGBT group to make visible that they must escape from Central America because of the persecution they suffer due to their sexual orientation and gender identity .

    The National Institute of Migration (INM) of Mexico reported this weekend that they have attended to a total of 1,087 migrants, of whom 663 were in this border area of ​​Chiapas, and another 424 in the town of El Ceibo in Tabasco.

    Inside the caravan, there are those who prefer to stay in Mexico rather than arrive in the United States, such as Pedro, a 22-year-old gay Guatemalan who left in 2018 with an earlier migrant caravan, but suffered deportation because an American judge denied him refuge. "The United States, for me, instead of becoming the American dream, converted itself into the worst nightmare that could have happened to me. I spent nine months in detention where I suffered sexual harassment, not only from my companions, but also from the officers, the agents of ICE (United States Immigration and Customs Service)," he relates.

    Ciudad Hidalgo, the municipal seat for the municipality of Suchiate, the southernmost in Mexico, is the main crossing point on the international border with Guatemala. The town is situated directly on the Río Suchiate, which forms the international border in this region, and over which there are two bridges, one for la Carretera Interamericana, and a second for the main railway line.

Having technical problems? Visit our support page to report an issue!