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3/30 SCOTUS update


Today the Court released orders and one decision in an argued case. The Court still hasn’t issued anything in any of the LGBT cases we’re following.


  • 1. VIRick  |  March 30, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Singapore High Court Dismisses Challenges to Colonial-Era Sodomy Law

    On Monday, 30 March 2020, the Singapore High Court dismissed three cases that challenged the city-state’s colonial-era law that criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations.

    In a press release, OutRight Action International notes that Justice See Kee Oon ruled against three men — Johnson Ong Ming, Roy Tan Seng Kee, and Bryan Choong — who had each challenged Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code that dates back to when the country was a British colony. Consensual same-sex sexual relations under Section 377A is punishable by up to two years in prison, although it is rarely applied.

    “It is incredibly disappointing to see the High Court of Singapore uphold this colonial-era law,” said OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern in a statement. “Even while lying dormant, such laws send a strong message — that gay and bisexual men are not only second-class citizens, but also criminals, purely for who they love. Today that message was amplified, legitimizing societal hate, discrimination, and exclusion of LGBTIQ people in Singapore.”

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    Note: In Singapore, appeal of today’s decision to uphold the law banning gay sex can still be made to the Court of Appeal, which last upheld the law in 2014.

    For a fuller discussion of the arguments put forth in each of the three cases, see:

  • 2. VIRick  |  March 31, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Singapore: Two Plaintiffs Appeal Dismissal of Suits Against Colonial-Era Sodomy Law

    Per Rex Wockner:

    On 31 March 2020, two men have appealed the Singapore High Court's dismissal of their challenges to Penal Code Section 377A, a law which criminalizes gay sex with two years in prison.

    Lawyers representing Mr Johnson Ong Ming, a disc jockey, and Dr Roy Tan, an LGBT rights activist and retired doctor, told "The Straits Times" on 31 March that they had already filed appeals in the Court of Appeal.

    Dr Tan's lawyer, Mr M. Ravi of Carson Law Chambers, is appealing "against the whole of the decision" issued by Justice See Kee Oon on Monday, 30 March, according to court documents. The third plaintiff, Mr Bryan Choong, the former executive director of LGBT non-profit organisation Oogachaga, is planning to file his appeal soon, his lawyers said.

  • 3. VIRick  |  March 30, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Hungary: Parliament Votes to End Democracy

    Per Balazs Csekö:

    Today, 30 March 2020, ostensibly to curb the spread of COVID-19, the 199-member Hungarian Parliament passed a bill, 137 in favor, 53 against, with 9 not voting, that gives right-wing, anti-LGBT Prime Minister Orbán unlimited power, and proclaims:

    – State of emergency without time limit
    – Rule by decree
    – Parliament suspended
    – No elections
    – The spreading of fake news and rumors: up to 5 years in prison
    – Leaving quarantine: up to 8 years in prison

  • 4. VIRick  |  March 30, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    New York: Lorena Borjas, Latina Transgender Advocate, Dies from COVID-19

    Lorena Borjas, a longtime, esteemed transgender activist in New York City, died Monday morning, 30 March 2020, of COVID-19. She was 60. Her death was confirmed by New York State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, who called Borjas “a great human being” and her death “a great loss for our community.”

    Borjas immigrated to the US from Veracruz, Mexico, in 1981, New York’s Telemundo affiliate reports. She became an advocate for the city’s transgender population, especially for those who had been victimized by trafficking and other forms of exploitation. She helped others obtain legal representation, hormone treatment, and HIV testing, and she also opened her small Queens apartment to them, housing as many as 20 at a time.

    “We were women without families and who had run away from our countries, persecuted for expressing our identity, for being ourselves,” she told "El Diario/La Prensa" in 2017. “Here in New York, we did not have the life and freedom we had been dreaming about. We also endured violence and abuse here. In those days, it was a real crime to be a transgender immigrant of color. I started out helping Mexican women, and that work gradually extended to all my Latin American sisters. By the time the 1980s came, we were a growing, if ignored, community.”

    Tributes for Lorena Borjas have been pouring into the website, Noticias LGBT, from a whole host of Latino/a activists/representatives all day long, including the following:

    Pedro Julio Serrano, Puerto Rico Para [email protected]
    Carmen Yulín Cruz‏, Alcaldesa de San Juan PR
    Jennicet Gutiérrez, Community Organizer, TQLM
    Carlos Menchaca, New York City Council, District 38 – Brooklyn
    Corey Johnson, New York City Council Speaker, District 3 – Manhattan
    Catalina Cruz, New York State Assembly, District 39 – Queens
    Jessica Ramos, New York State Senate, District 13 – Queens
    Telemundo 47

    Note: Carlos Menchaca is the first Mexican-American elected to public office in New York City, and is the first openly gay New York City Council member.

    Corey Johnson is an LGBT activist and the second openly gay New York City Council member, as well as the only openly HIV-positive politician in the state of New York.

    Catalina Cruz, a Colombian-American, became the first former undocumented immigrant who identifies as a DREAMer to be elected in New York State.

  • 5. VIRick  |  March 30, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Pays Tribute to Lorena Borjas

    Per AOC en Español:‏

    Me rompe el corazón compartir que Lorena Borjas, una prolífica organizadora trans y activista en Queens, falleció del COVID-19.

    Lorena abogó por la ayuda mutua en la comunidad LGBT, y su Fondo Comunitario estaba salvando vidas de personas queer e inmigrantes impactadas por el COVID-19.

    It breaks my heart to share that Lorena Borjas, a prolific transgender organizer and activist in Queens, passed away from COVID-19.

    Lorena advocated for mutual aid in the LGBT community, and her Community Fund was saving the lives of queer people and immigrants impacted by COVID-19.

    AOC, of course, is the representative from New York's 14th Congressional District.

  • 6. JayJonson  |  March 31, 2020 at 9:51 am

    The field hospital that opens today in Central Park to help cope with the Covid-19 outbreak is apparently sponsored by notorious bigot Franklin Graham's "non-profit" Samaritan's Purse, which is known for its discrimination against non-Christians and lgbt people. How could the city agree to such a partnership? Anyone have any more information on this? Apparently, a city councilman has expressed concern.

  • 7. VIRick  |  March 31, 2020 at 10:33 am

    More Stay-At-Home Orders Issued Due to COVID-19, Maryland/Virginia/DC


    Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has issued a stay-at-home order, which took effect at 8 PM on Monday, 30 March 2020. “This is a deadly public health crisis — we are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home, we are directing them to do so,” Hogan said at a Monday press conference. “No Maryland resident should be leaving their home unless it is for an essential job or for an essential reason such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention, or for other necessary purposes.”

    The order will be enforced by state and local law enforcement, Hogan said. According to a press release posted on Monday after the press conference; to violate this order “knowingly and willfully” constitutes a misdemeanor crime, with a conviction carrying a potential penalty of imprisonment not exceeding one year, a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.


    On Monday, 30 March 2020, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statewide stay-at-home order in response to the continuing spread of the coronavirus. The order is immediate and remains in effect until 10 June.

    “This weekend some of our beaches and other recreational areas were literally packed,” Northam announced during a press conference. “Everyone who is gathering in a crowd at any place around the state is putting themselves and others at risk.”

    The governor’s order directs all Virginians to stay at home except for limited essential travel such as for food or medical care. He also ordered academic institutions to stop in-person instruction and for beaches to close except for fishing and exercise.

    “We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” Northam stated in a press release. “Our message to Virginians is clear: Stay home.”

    Northam previously closed most nonessential businesses, prohibited public gatherings of more than 10 people and directed all K-12 schools to remain closed for the rest of the academic year. The Virginia Department of Health currently confirms there are more than 1,000 coronavirus cases across the state with 25 deaths.

    District of Columbia

    On Monday, 30 March 2020, DC. Mayor Muriel Bowser joined Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Maryland Gov, Larry Hogan in issuing an official stay-at-home order for DC residents in an effort to control the rapidly spreading coronavirus infection rate. Bowser said the order provides the force of law to her earlier directive calling on city residents to stay at home except to perform essential activities.

    Similar to the Virginia and Maryland orders, Bowser’s order says residents may only leave their residences to engage in essential activities, which it says includes obtaining medical care that cannot be provided through phone consultations. The order also includes as “essential” activities obtaining food and essential household goods; performing or accessing essential governmental functions; working at essential businesses; engaging in essential travel; or engaging in allowable recreational activities.

  • 8. VIRick  |  March 31, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    Idaho: Governor Signs Two Anti-Transgender Bills into Law

    Last night, 30 March 2020, Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed two bills into law that severely restrict the rights of transgender people in the state, both of which will likely be challenged in court.

    One of the bills bans transgender people from correcting the gender marker on their birth certificates – joining Tennessee and Ohio as the only three states that still ban transgender individuals from correcting their birth certificates at all. The other bill bans transgender girls from competing in high school sports and even allows parents and students from opposing teams to “challenge” a female athlete’s gender and require her to get a genital exam.

    The first bill, HB 509, is a direct retaliation against a 2018 federal court ruling that overturned Idaho’s previous ban on transgender people correcting their birth certificates. The Idaho attorney-general’s office has already told the press that it estimates it will cost $1 million to defend the law in court.

    The other bill, HB 500, bans “biological males” – meaning transgender girls, since cisgender boys aren’t trying to compete as girls in sports – from competing as girls in high school sports, effectively making them choose between being who they are and participating in athletics.

    HRC said that both laws are unconstitutional, an attack on transgender Idahoans, and a bad use of the state’s time during a global pandemic.

  • 9. VIRick  |  March 31, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    Finland: A Country Seriously Fighting COVID-19

    Emergency legislation is to remain in force until at least 13 May to help fight COVID-19, announced Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Monday evening, 30 March 2020. She said that the measures taken so far had been effective, but that they should be extended into May to prevent an upsurge in new COVID-19 cases.

    "I want to thank all those Finnish people and businesses that have kept to the restrictions and thereby protected the health of their loved ones," said Marin, who added that Finland is going to ramp up testing in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

    The news means schools will offer remote learning for most of their students until at least 13 May, while early years education centres and grades 1-3 will be open for pupils — but the government is pleading with parents to keep their children home if they can.

    (Seasonal) passenger ferry services to Sweden will be suspended (normally, it does not operate in winter), and border surveillance increased on northern (with Norway) and western (with Sweden) borders. (As per usual, the heavily-fortified eastern border, complete with land mines, endless guard towers, and miles of barbed wire on the Russian side, like the others, is presently closed, and will remain closed indefinitely.)

    The previously-announced restrictions (which began from midnight, 27 March 2020) on movement in and out of Uusimaa (Nyland) Province will remain in force until at least 19 April. Uusimaa Province includes Helsinki, Helsinki Metro, and the immediate surrounding area, including Porvoo, Vantaa, Espoo, Hanko in south-central coastal Finland. Essentially put, no one is allowed in or out. Uusimaa contains most of Finland's 1025 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    In spite of the idiotically ridiculous claim put forth last year by the Orange Menace that Finland rakes its forests to prevent the spread of wildfires, Finland does close down all borders, even erecting internal ones, blocking people from travelling, in order to prevent the spread of contagious disease.

  • 10. ianbirmingham  |  March 31, 2020 at 8:02 pm

    Elizabeth Warren: "This #TransDayOfVisibility, I want all trans and non-binary people to know you are valued, you are loved, and that we will keep fighting to make sure you can live freely, safely, and openly exactly as you are."

  • 11. VIRick  |  April 1, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Russia, Without Warning, Has Suddenly Closed Its Borders Due to COVID-19

    On Monday, 30 March 2020, as he watched his luggage being loaded onto a plane at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, Trenton Thurber felt relieved that he would soon be home in Arizona. But then, on the same date and without warning, Russia locked down its borders in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, halting all traffic to and from the country, including Thurber’s flight on a Russian Aeroflot plane to New York’s JFK International Airport. From there, he was due to connect to his home in Tucson.

    Now the 26-year-old is one of the dozens of foreign citizens, including a handful of Americans, marooned inside Moscow’s largest, and today mostly empty, airport with few food and lodging options — and so far no support from the US government.

    The advice given to Thurber by the US Embassy in Moscow has not exactly inspired confidence that they’ve got a plan for getting him out. “They said, ‘If you can get to the land border with Finland, that might be OK.’”

    Oh for God's sake, NO!!

    The Russo-Finnish border, a hostile left-over from the Cold War, besides being over 700 miles away, has been closed to all traffic for some time (see post above regarding Finland). Besides, even in the best of times, only Finnish or Russian citizens are allowed to cross. But Thurber seems to already know this, as he is a US citizen who works in customer support for a Russian company that does business in the US. Last May, he married a resident of St. Petersburg, who remains with her family while awaiting documents allowing her to move to the US with her husband.

  • 12. VIRick  |  April 2, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    Because of COVID-19, FDA Has Eased Ban on Blood Donations from Gay/Bisexual Men

    On Thursday, 2 April 2020, the Food and Drug Administration eased its ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men, citing the “unprecedented challenges to the US blood supply” during the coronavirus pandemic. The new rules allow blood donations from men who have abstained from sex with another man for more than three months; for the past several years, gay and bisexual men could not donate if they had had sex with a man in the previous year.

    Various forms of the ban — which was first implemented in the 1980s as a total prohibition to keep HIV out of the blood supply — were slowly dialed back under the Obama administration, which said screening and tests increasingly ensured a safe blood supply. Even the one-year policy was widely decried as a de facto ban for gay and bisexual male blood donors.

    But on Thursday, Peter Marks, director of FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, explained the new rules were prudent given that blood “donor centers have experienced a dramatic reduction in donations due to the implementation of social distancing and the cancellation of blood drives. Based on recently completed studies and epidemiologic data,” he added, “the FDA has concluded that current policies regarding certain donor eligibility criteria can be modified without compromising the safety of the blood supply.”

    In the scramble to curb the coronavirus pandemic, some medical facilities have announced plans to collect blood plasma — a subset of whole blood that contains antibodies — from those who had overcome COVID-19 and transfuse it to patients who are still sick with the disease. Gay men, however, had complained they were unable to help in the potentially lifesaving program.

  • 13. VIRick  |  April 2, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    More Statewide Stay-At-Home Orders Issued Due to COVID-19, Georgia, Alaska, Florida

    Rather belatedly, given that Atlanta is home to the CDC, on Wednesday night, 1 April 2020, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced a statewide shelter-in-place order in an effort to curtail the rapid spread of the coronavirus in his state. Kemp had recently come under pressure to implement stricter measures, with several Georgia mayors surpassing Kemp to announce their own shelter-in-place orders, including in Atlanta, Savannah, and Athens.

    There are currently more than 4,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia. To date, more than 150 people have died from the disease statewide.

    Of relatively recent date, Alaska has also implemented its own statewide stay-at-home order, while both Nevada and Florida have finally shuttered non-essential businesses.

    According to the latest information from Johns Hopkins University on 2 April 2020, Georgia, now with 5348 confirmed cases, is already #8 in terms of the overall number of deaths (163) in the USA due to COVID-19, while Florida, with 8010 confirmed cases, the 7th highest for confirmed cases, is in 10th place (128) in overall number of deaths.

    Both states, as well as the South in general, what with their overdose of do-nothing Republican governors, have been quite remiss in issuing statewide stay-at-home orders in a timely manner. Instead, these measures appear to be far too-little, too-late. Worse yet, the governors of 16 additional states all still appear to be in denial: South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, both Dakotas, and Maine.

    Up-Date: Florida's stay-at-home order has finally been issued, with effect from tomorrow, 4 April 2020. In Ohio, the stay-at-home order, originally slated to expire on 6 April, has been extended to 1 May.

    Per NBC News:

    Up-Date #2: Maine, Tennessee, Mississippi, Nebraska, Arizona, and Nevada have all quite recently issued statewide stay-at-home orders.

  • 14. VIRick  |  April 3, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    Supreme Court Again Postpones Up-Coming Oral Arguments

    On Friday, 3 April 2020, the Supreme Court once again postponed oral arguments in several major lawsuits, this time for its April session, leaving high-profile legal disputes in limbo due to the coronavirus pandemic. The delay affects a number of cases slated for in-person debate inside the Supreme Court Building, including a trio of lawsuits about disclosing Trump’s financial records; arguments were originally slated in those cases for this coming week.

    The roadblock has frustrated activists who say the court must adapt on urgent matters of national interest. The nine justices already hold video conferences for their weekly closed-door conferences — prompting a growing cry to simply hold oral arguments with a videoconferencing service. In an effort to break the logjam, progressive advocacy group Demand Justice is planning a social media ad campaign on Monday that targets about 100,000 people around Washington, DC, arguing the court must hear the president’s financial records cases, collectively referred to as "Trump v. Mazars."

    Lower courts had ruled against Trump in those disputes, saying he must hand over a trove of records, possibly even his tax filings, but the Supreme Court put the brakes on those decisions last fall. “If Chief Justice John Roberts wants to continue delaying the release of Trump’s tax returns, he’s going to need a better excuse than not wanting to spring for a Zoom subscription,” Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, told "BuzzFeed News."

    Tthe Supreme Court said “if circumstances permit in light of public health and safety guidance,” it “will consider rescheduling some cases” slated for the April session and for the March session, which had already been postponed, before the court’s annual term ends in early summer. The court implied possible workarounds — without elaboration — noting that it “will consider a range of scheduling options and other alternatives if arguments cannot be held in the Courtroom before the end of the Term.” The press release also said justices will “continue to proceed” with cases in which they have already heard oral arguments. They will post those opinions online.

    Other federal appellate courts have already switched to online platforms for hearing arguments, including the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and 4th Circuit Court of Appeals — plus state supreme courts in Ohio and Georgia.

  • 15. VIRick  |  April 3, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    Wisconsin: Republicans Reject Gov. Evers' Call to Stop In-Person Voting Tuesday

    Per Rex Wockner and Rachel Maddow:

    In a last-minute plea, on Friday, 3 April 2020, Gov. Tony Evers asked state lawmakers to stop people from voting together this Tuesday, 7 April, to prevent thousands from being exposed to the coronavirus, but Republicans who control the Legislature said "No."

    The GOP leaders instead criticized Evers for also calling for the election to move to 19 May — a reversal from previously pushing to keep the election date in place — and not asking them to take action before Friday. Both said Tuesday's spring election must be held to preserve democracy.

    But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos had no answer as to how local election officials are supposed to keep people safe as a massive shortage of poll workers has resulted in the closure or reduction of polling locations, forcing more people to vote at a single site. Milwaukee election officials said Friday they only had enough poll workers to open five voting locations (of the normal 180) for Tuesday's election, which could draw as many as 50,000 voters in the city, putting thousands at risk of infection.

    Evers called a special legislative session for 4 PM Saturday, 4 April, to extend the election date to 19 May and to convert the contest entirely to a mail-in election.

  • 16. iocbyux  |  April 4, 2020 at 2:25 am

    Republicans would rather make Americans get sick and die than risk losing an election

  • 17. Randolph_Finder  |  April 5, 2020 at 7:42 am

    Maryland is oddly moving in the other direction. The original proposal from the Republican controlled State Board of Elections was *entirely* vote by mail, and only after threatened lawsuits from the ACLU and various Disability rights groups, have they decided that the proposal should include 1 to 4 locations (out of the locations that would have been used for early voting) for voter assistance for those who need the help.

    I'm in Montgomery County, which I'm sure will use 4 (our population is about 20% of the state population), so I'm *guessing* these will have about 10-15 election workers apiece. The county board of elections *might* decide to staff this with Full Time Employees.

  • 18. VIRick  |  April 5, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    UK: The Queen Has Spoken; PM Boris Johnson in Hospital

    Boris Johnson has been admitted to the hospital for tests after suffering from symptoms of the coronavirus for 10 days. The decision was taken for precautionary reasons on the advice of his doctor and it was not an emergency admission, the prime minister's office said in a statement on Sunday night, 5 April 2020.

    Johnson has had a high temperature since Thursday, 26 March. He tested positive for COVID-19 the following day, and continues to have persistent symptoms. He went into hospital at around 8pm on Sunday night and is expected to stay in overnight. Monday morning's meeting of senior advisers and officials on 6 April will instead be chaired by the foreign secretary Dominic Raab.

    At almost the same moment in time, Queen Elizabeth used a rare pre-recorded televised message on Sunday evening, 5 April 2020, to urge the British people to show “self-discipline and resolve” as she vowed that “ we will succeed” in the fight against the coronavirus. In her special address — only the fifth in her 68-year reign — the Queen thanked the staff of the National Health Service and other key workers, as well as people who have been staying at home to protect the vulnerable. The royal message, which was carried on all major TV channels and radio, was filmed by a single cameraman wearing protective equipment, with all other technical staff in another room, according to the BBC.

    The UK’s death toll rose by 621 to 4,934 according to the latest figures released by the government on Sunday, 5 April 2020. Restrictions which came into force on 23 March require people to stay at home for all but essential reasons, such as shopping for food or medicine, or going to work in critical professions like healthcare and public transport.

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