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Happy holidays open thread!


Happy holidays everyone!

We’ll be back in January.

Be safe.


  • 1. Randolph_Finder  |  December 24, 2020 at 3:10 am

    I went looking back through the wikipedia pages for LGBT recognition for the 8 states in the Americas in the *no recognition* category where Homosexuality is illegal: 1) Antigua and Barbuda, 2) Barbados, 3) St. Kitts and Nevis, 4) Dominica, 5) Grenada, 6) Guyana, 7) St. Lucia, 8 St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The first three are listed as Illegal, but not enforced. On those pages, the most recent instance of people being convicted of Homosexual activity in 2001 in Dominica.

    1) Does anyone know of more recent? (Which I guess could be a country that officially repealed its Sodomy (or related) laws)
    2) If not, I'm considering moving all of them into the illegal, but not enforced category, any feelings on that?

    Note, Jamaica is in a different category as the only place with both a constitutional ban on Marriage *and* Homosexuality being illegal. (and almost certainly will end up as the last place in the Americas to reach *any* level of LGBT rights)

    I'm still undecided as to whether… in 2012 would count, since they were originally charged with buggery and pled down to indecent exposure.

  • 2. VIRick  |  December 24, 2020 at 9:00 am

    In all 9 jurisdictions, consenting adult male-to-male anal sexual activity remains illegal, but penalties have not been enforced for many years, at least for several decades, if not longer. Given the antiquated British colonial penchant of focusing on "buggery" (in whatever manner that term might be legally defined), it is highly doubtful that female-to-female sexual activity was ever deemed to be illegal in any of these same 9 jurisdictions, nor were other forms of adult male-to-male sexual contact, such as oral.

    Furthermore, from direct dialog with an assortment of officials and representatives from some of these 9 jurisdictions, it is my firm belief that we be very graphically-explicit, in very specific terms, in forcing them to describe exactly what is supposedly deemed to be illegal under these Victorian-era colonially-inherited laws, if for no other reason than they find it embarrassingly difficult to discuss, almost shamefully so. For example: "So, consenting adult male-to-male anal penetration is illegal. Then what about two eager 'bottoms,' who are otherwise not touching each other, engaging in some 'double-headed' anal-to-anal dildo play? Is that illegal, too, or would that be allowed?" They can barely cope. Yet, for legal clarity, such questions must be forcefully asked.

    Court challenges against these so-called "buggery" laws remain pending in Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, and St. Vincent/Grenadines. Promises of similar lawsuits in the remainder continue to remain just that, promises.

    This same Wikipedia page needs further up-dating to reflect other changes made in 2020. For example, for Mexico, the fact that Tlaxcala legalized same-sex marriage is noted in the lower chart, but simultaneously, the same fact is not noted in the introductory text. At the same time, during 2020, Wikipedia has yet to recognize that Sonora, Jalisco, and Quintana Roo have all recognized the right of transgender individuals to self-declare their gender identity, the first in September, and the latter two in November.

    The chart entry for Bolivia has not been up-dated to reflect the fact that the courts and the civic registry have now legally recognized the "free union" of a same-sex couple, completely up-ending whatever "constitutional" prohibition might once have existed, assuming it ever did. The 2014 gender-neutral Family Code allows for "uniones libres," and utilizes the word, "cónyuges" (spouses), throughout. Additionally, the Constitutional Court has further ruled that international obligations supersede the national constitution, thus giving precedence to OC 24/17 of the CIDH over their own constitution and laws. This entire section for Bolivia needs re-thinking and re-writing. For starters, the red "X" under the heading "Recognition of Same-Sex Unions" needs to be removed and replaced with a green "check." In essence, in terms of legislation and court rulings, Bolivia with its "free unions" is presently on the same level as Chile with its AUCs. The "South America" map is correct in reflecting this new reality, while at the same time, the text and the "Americas" map are not.

  • 3. VIRick  |  December 25, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    This is what the current Constitution of Bolivia has to say about both marriage and free unions (uniones libres):

    Constitución Política del Estado (CPE) de Bolivia, 7 de Febrero 2009

    Artículo 63.
    I. El matrimonio entre una mujer y un hombre se constituye por vínculos jurídicos y se basa en la igualdad de derechos y deberes de los cónyuges.

    II. Las uniones libres o de hecho que reúnan condiciones de estabilidad y singularidad, y sean mantenidas entre una mujer y un hombre sin impedimento legal, producirán los mismos efectos que el matrimonio civil, tanto en las relaciones personales y patrimoniales de los convivientes como en lo que respecta a las hijas e hijos adoptados o nacidos de aquéllas.

    Article 63.
    I. Marriage between a woman and a man is constituted by its legal ties and is based on the equality of the rights and duties of the spouses.

    II. Free or de facto unions that meet conditions of stability and singularity, and are maintained between a woman and a man without legal impediment, will produce the same effects as civil marriage, both in the personal and patrimonial relationships of the cohabitants as well as with respect to the daughters and sons adopted or born to them.

    Neither clause of Article 63 specifically prohibit same-sex couples from marrying or from forming free unions (unions which have the same effect as marriage). Both the Constitutional Court and the Civic Registry have now legally recognized the free union of a same-sex couple.

  • 4. VIRick  |  December 24, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Cayman Islands: Foreign Marriages of Same-Sex Couples Must Be Recognized

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    A Cayman Islands same-sex couple have won the right to have their marriage recognized by the island’s immigration authorities. Developer Paul Pearson and his partner Randall Pinder, who were legally married in Ireland, applied to have Pinder acknowledged as a "spouse of a permanent residency holder" for immigration purposes.

    The application was denied by the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board on the grounds that Cayman’s Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman. That was overturned by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal in a ruling published by 23 December 2020. The tribunal decided that the original decision was in breach of the couple’s human rights, guaranteed by the Constitution. The ruling notes that failing to allow the application, commonly granted to opposite-sex couples, would have amounted to discrimination.

    The tribunal ordered that Pinder be granted "spouse of a PR holder" status, allowing him to remain on island with his partner without a separate work permit. It also ordered that Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman pay the couple’s $6,000 legal bill.

    The ruling indicates that Cayman’s legal framework required the recognition of same-sex foreign marriages even before the introduction of civil partnership legislation earlier this year. It states that the Matrimonial Causes Act does not contain any express prohibition on the recognition of same-sex couples for immigration purposes. In fact, that law actually requires that all marriages legally celebrated outside the islands be legally recognized in Cayman.

    The tribunal further noted that the Marriage Act, which does define marriage as between a man and a woman, relates only to ceremonies within the islands and was not relevant legislation in this case. As long as a couple is legally married according to the laws of the country in which the ceremony was performed, they are entitled to have that union recognized in Cayman, the tribunal ruled.

  • 5. Randolph_Finder  |  December 27, 2020 at 12:35 am

    So at this point, the Cayman Islands should be viewed as the same as Israel?

  • 6. VIRick  |  December 27, 2020 at 9:11 am

    Yes, although in addition, I was thinking more in terms of the 12 remaining recalcitrant states in Mexico which still do not allow for the performance of marriages between same-sex couples (without amparo) within their own state's boundaries, yet must recognize all such legally performed marriages conducted elsewhere.

  • 7. ianbirmingham  |  December 24, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    Democrats shatter fundraising records ahead of Georgia Senate runoffs

    Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock shattered fundraising records by hauling in more than $100 million each in the past two months, giving them a decisive advantage over GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the final stretch of the two Georgia Senate races that will decide control of the chamber next month.

    The massive fundraising for the two Democrats was driven largely by small-dollar donations, continuing the pattern this year of the party’s Senate candidates tapping into online donors across the country to fund their challenger campaigns, although Democrats underperformed expectations in November despite the fundraising edge.

  • 8. ianbirmingham  |  December 24, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    Polling Averages: Both GA Republican Senate Candidates Have Slight Leads

    Ossoff Trailing By 1.0%

    Warnock Trailing By 0.2%

  • 9. ianbirmingham  |  December 26, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    Trump names owner of conversion therapy practice to disabilities advisory post

    "The truth is God has designed our eyes to be attracted to the woman's body," a counselor was caught telling a gay man. "I think it's possible to be totally free of this."

  • 10. davepCA  |  December 27, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    Yeah Biden's team is going to have quite a bit of work sweeping the lingering trump-era characters out of his new administration. It can't happen soon enough.

  • 11. VIRick  |  December 26, 2020 at 9:10 pm

    New York: 22nd Congressional District Still Undecided

    Incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D), former incumbent Claudia Tenney (R), Keith Price (L), and James Desira (I, write-in) ran for New York's 22nd Congressional District on 3 November 2020. As of 26 December, this was one of two US House races whose outcome remained unclear; the other being in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District.

    The most recent count of ballots was conducted on 23 December and showed Brindisi with a 14-vote lead over Tenney. These results came after Tenney's and Brindisi's campaigns joined legal proceedings asking for judicial review of certain absentee ballots.

    As of 26 December, Justice Scott DelConte had not made a final ruling and official results had not been certified. DelConte said he did not expect to certify a winner before Congress is sworn in on 3 January 2021, since judicial review of ballots will continue into January.'s_22nd_Cong

    Iowa: 2nd Congressional District Still Contested

    Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) was certified as the winner of the general election for Iowa's 2nd Congressional District on 30 November 2020, after a recount showed her defeating Rita Hart (D) by a mere six votes. Hart announced on 2 December that she would contest the election with the US House Administration Committee, the next action in this race being Hart's filing of said appeal before the US House Administration Committee. The 117th Congress will be seated on 3 January 2021.'s_2nd_Congressi

    Once Brindisi is seated, the Democrats will hold 223 seats. Assuming Miller-Meeks keeps her seat, but with one Michigan representative, Fred Upton (MI-6) now claiming he is an independent, the Republicans will hold 211 seats, plus this one unaffiliated independent.

  • 12. Randolph_Finder  |  December 27, 2020 at 12:26 am

    Source on Upton becoming an independent? I've looked, but can't find anything…

  • 13. VIRick  |  December 27, 2020 at 8:35 am

    The correct individual in question is Paul Mitchell (MI-10) who switched from Republican to independent earlier this month. However, he also chose not to run for re-election in 2020, and thus will be leaving the US House in a few days. This late switch was in addition to the 2019 switch of Justin Amash (MI-3) from Republican to Libertarian. He also chose not to seek re-election in 2020. Different Republicans won both seats in the 2020 election, Peter Meijer in MI-3 and Lisa McClain in MI-10.

    Fred Upton is still a Republican. In fact, in the new congress, with Mitchell gone, Upton will become the "dean" of the Michigan Republican delegation in the US House. And obviously, because of that specific point, I confused the two, as Mitchell had previously been the "dean" of that delegation. Thanks for noticing my error.

    Thus, as matters currently stand, the over-all count in the 117th congress of the US House of Representatives ought to be 223 Democrats and 212 Republicans.

  • 14. ianbirmingham  |  December 27, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    Transgender Egyptians face abuse, discrimination for asserting their identity

    Family members who are uncomfortable with the sex assigned to them at birth are considered a nuisance and shame and something that has to be kept secret. In front of society, the same members are viewed as perverts, sometimes apostates.

    “Everybody bullies transgender people, including state institutions, the media and ordinary people,” Reda al-Danbouki, director of the local Women's Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness nongovernmental organization, told Al-Monitor. “There is a need for opening a nationwide dialogue on this issue.”

  • 15. ianbirmingham  |  December 28, 2020 at 11:10 am

    Germany's Transgender Law seen as 'archaic, degrading'

    "Degrading, expensive and illogical" — that is how one trans* person described her experience of legally changing her gender in Germany.

    Felicia Rolletschke is one of many activists who is fighting for a reform to the so-called Transsexual Law, which determines the legal process for trans* people to change their gender and name in Germany. By the beginning of 2021, the law will have been in place for 40 years — a timeframe in which many countries around the world have seen great upheaval in their legislation around trans* rights.

    There are currently two bills before the German parliament that aim to ease this process with a new "self-determination law" (Selbstbestimmungsgesetz). Activists hope such a law would reform the current costly, lengthy process — but the reform has faced some stiff opposition.

    Under the latest bill, proposed by the Green party in June 2020, "all people could submit a declaration on the indication of gender and the use of their first name at a registry office" without any need for psychological assessment.

    A second bill, proposed by the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), calls for largely the same thing. Both bills would allow self-determination for those aged 14 and above.

    There is precedence for reforms for trans* rights in Germany — the Transsexual Law was amended in previous decades to remove a requirement for infertility and evidence of surgery before applicants could change their gender. In 2017, Germany added a third legal gender — "divers" — to the options on official forms.

    But a law of self-determination would bring Germany up to speed with many European Union partners and other countries around the world. A Council of Europe ruling in 2015 paved the way for many European countries, among them Malta, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Portugal, to introduce variations on a law of self-determination.

    "This call was also echoed in the recently published EU LGBTQI equality strategy," Hümpfner added. "There are many good reasons on an international level why the German government should now finally bring in a new law."

  • 16. VIRick  |  December 28, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    And Switzerland, Too

    Although not yet implemented, the recently-passed marriage equality legislation in Switzerland also includes a provision allowing transgender individuals to self-declare their gender identity:

    Among many other points, under the legislation approved by the Swiss Parliament on Friday, 18 December 2020, transgender individuals, 16 and older, will be able to change their gender on identity documents by making a simple self-declaration at civil registry offices.….

    And The Netherlands, As Well

    Since April 2019, transgender children in the Netherlands are now able to change their gender on passports before the age of 16, while trans adults can self-identify without a doctor’s statement. Children seeking to have their gender legally recognized will be able to do so by requesting a court date.

    Since July 2020, the Netherlands is also in the process of implementing a plan whereby the government is to be issuing genderless national identification cards to everyone, without exception. However, passports will continue to be marked with one of three self-identifying choices, "M," "F," or "X."….

  • 17. ianbirmingham  |  December 28, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    Franklin Graham: “Rally God’s Army” In Georgia Or Else The “Wicked” Dems Will Impose The LGBTQ Equality Act

    Why are these two [Georgia Senate] seats so important? The control of the U.S. Senate is at stake. The Senate is the last line of defense to block the radical, wicked agenda that is trying to take control of our nation.

    These two seats will determine whether liberal socialist-leaning progressives OR conservative lawmakers have a majority. The policies supported by those on the left promise to be openly hostile to those who hold Christian beliefs.

    Liberal, so called progressives, immediately want to pass The Equality Act which is anything but equal. It is an attempt to rid our country of religious freedom protections. Progressives could pass this easily and quickly with control of the Senate.

    Friends, this is dangerous. This would change our nation at its very foundation—and yes, it would also greatly change your everyday life. It will vastly alter the America that we leave for our children and grandchildren.

  • 18. davepCA  |  December 28, 2020 at 11:11 pm

    Same old nonsense from those guys.

  • 19. bayareajohn  |  December 29, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    Always comforting to know that pillars of the church are thinking of the children. A lot. Up close. REAL close. Because liberals.

  • 20. VIRick  |  December 29, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    Iowa Federal Judge: "Not Surprising that a Criminal Like Trump Pardons Other Criminals"

    On Tuesday, 29 December 2020, a federal judge in Iowa slammed Trump’s recent pardons, saying, “It’s not surprising that a criminal like Trump pardons other criminals.” US District Judge Robert Pratt made the statement during an interview with the Associated Press. Pratt further said, “Apparently to get a pardon, one has to be either a Republican, a convicted child murderer, or a turkey.”

    Pratt was referring to Trump’s Republican allies in the government, security contractors convicted of killing civilians in Iraq, and the turkey that is pardoned each Thanksgiving. The AP reports that Pratt’s statement came when he was asked by the news outlet for a comment on the recent pardoning of former aides for ex-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) who were convicted on corruption charges related to the Iowa caucuses.

    Jesse Benton and John Tate both worked on Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign and were convicted of hiding $73,000 worth of payments to former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R) in exchange for his endorsement of Paul. Both men were sentenced to six months of home confinement and probation before Trump pardoned them.

    Pratt oversaw Sorenson’s case in 2017 and sentenced him to 15 months in prison despite prosecutors recommending a more lenient sentence in light of Sorenson’s guilty plea and cooperation. Sorenson’s testimony ultimately helped convict Benton and Tate, as well as Dimitri Kesari, former deputy campaign manager for Paul. The AP notes that Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), supported the pardoning of Benton and Tate.

  • 21. VIRick  |  December 29, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    Louisiana: US House Rep.-Elect Dies from COVID-19

    Louisiana Republican Rep.-Elect Luke Letlow (LA-5) died on Tuesday, 29 December 2020, after being hospitalized with COVID-19, after having won the very recent run-off election for the open seat on 5 December, following the "jungle" primary of 3 November.

    On 19 December, Letlow, 41, was first admitted to St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe LA due to complications from COVID-19, before being transferred to the Ochsner LSU Health ICU in Shreveport LA on 23 December as his condition worsened.

    "The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time. A statement from the family along with funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time," his family told the Monroe News-Star, which was first to report the news. The 41-year-old Louisiana Republican leaves behind his wife, Julia Letlow, and two children.

    Luke Letlow was slated to succeed his boss, retiring Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), for whom he previously served as chief of staff, as the representative for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District, an oddly-shaped district that wraps around the state, abutting the Mississippi state line almost the entire distance.

  • 22. Fortguy  |  December 30, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    And now, through his bottomless ineptitude, Trump has even killed Mary Ann.

    Greg Hernandez, Greg in Hollywood: TV icon Dawn Wells, the beloved Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island,” has died at age 82 from COVID-19

  • 23. ianbirmingham  |  December 29, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    2.3 million people have voted in Georgia's Senate runoffs with week to go

    Roughly 1.5 million people have already voted early in person, according to the U.S. Elections Project, citing data from the secretary of state’s office published on Thursday. In addition, 802,290 mail-in ballots have been accepted in the runoffs.

    That's markedly high turnout for a runoff election, which usually sees much lower participation than a general election.

    More than 79,000 people who did not vote in this November's general election have cast a ballot in the runoffs.

    The runoffs already set an early voting record when 168,000 Georgians went to the polls the day they opened and another 314,000 cast absentee ballots that day.

    In addition, Ossoff is now the best-funded senate candidate in U.S. history, managing to raise $106.8 million over the past two months. Warnock separately raised $103.4 million during the same time period. Loeffler and Perdue raised a combined $171 million.

  • 24. ianbirmingham  |  December 29, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    Amazon is allowing anti-LGBTQ groups to fundraise on its site as “charities” again

    An analysis of the online retail giant Amazon’s non-profit partnership program, AmazonSmile, has found that it has become a key fundraising space for organizations with anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion ambitions.

    A chapter of the American Family Association and Focus on the Family, two SPLC-rated hate groups, headline the list of over 40 groups … An analysis by the United Kingdom website for their 50.50 Project also found far-right or anti-abortion groups like Human Life International, The American Center for Law and Justice, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association were available as eligible ‘charities’ on AmazonSmile.

    Despite this, Amazon is adamant that “organizations that engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities are not eligible” for the site, a spokesperson stated in response to the analysis.

    Earlier this year, Amazon determined that the SPLC-rated hate group Family Research Council (FRC) was ineligible for the program. Two years prior, Amazon was pressured until it also ended its acceptance of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on its site.

  • 25. VIRick  |  December 29, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    Bolivia: First Same-Sex "Free Union" Dated, Signed, Registered, and Delivered

    On 28 December 2020, the first same-sex couple received the documents certifying the official recognition by the Civic Registry of their " free union" (unión libre o unión de hecho). The accompanying video showing the couple receiving their certified documentation is in Spanish with German sub-titles:

    Per DW Deutsch:

    Voilà, Boliviens erstes homosexuelles Paar mit einer eingetragenen Partnerschaft. Dafür haben David und Guido zwei Jahre gekämpft. Es ist ein Meilenstein für die Gleichberechtigung Homosexueller in dem katholischen Land.

    Here it is, Bolivia's first gay couple with a registered partnership. This is what David and Guido fought to obtain for two years. It is a milestone for same-sex equality in the Catholic country.

  • 26. VIRick  |  December 29, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    Rob Salerno's Annual Worldwide Round-Up on Marriage Equality/LGBT Rights, 2020

    For now, here is the link to Rob's complete, detailed, professionally prepared annual report for 2020 on worldwide progress (and a few setbacks and stalled initiatives) on marriage equality and LGBT rights, to which I am certain we will later make frequent reference, as he mentions any number of developments during 2020 in various and sundry countries worldwide for which we here at EoT did not give proper mention. He also gives us a number of positive prospects on future events likely to occur in 2021, many of which are a continuation of works-in-progress carried over from 2020.

  • 27. DevilWearsZrada  |  December 31, 2020 at 8:44 am

    The Swiss marriage equality law was officially published today
    It means that in order to trigger a referendum on this law the haters will have to collect 50 thousand signatures in 100 days (by 10 April 2021). Then the government will set a date of the law's entry into force after either the positive referendum outcome or the certification of insufficient signatures count to trigger a referendum. For example, the registered partnership law was passed by the Swiss parliament in June 2004, a referendum was held in June 2005 and the law came into effect only on 1 January 2007.
    It seems that even if the referendum won't be held this time the law won't come into effect before 1 January 2022. And if the referendum will be held then we may even see the first same-sex couples' weddings in Chile to take place sooner than in Switzerland.
    P.S. The same conditions on entry into force apply for a gender self-declaration law published today as well

  • 28. VIRick  |  December 31, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    North Carolina: Court Strikes Down Anti-Gay Domestic Violence Law

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    On Thursday, 31 December 2020, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that LGBTQ people in North Carolina can no longer be prevented from getting domestic violence protective orders.

    North Carolina had been the only state in the country to withhold emergency protections for people seeking protection from abuse by a same-sex partner, the "News & Observer" reported in 2019. That kind of protection is offered to couples of the opposite sex, and to married and divorced same-sex couples, but not for same-sex couples who are dating or who used to date.

    But in a 2-1 opinion, the appeals court ruled that that ban is unconstitutional. The opinion written by Judge Linda McGee, a Democrat and the chief judge of the Court of Appeals, said LGBTQ people have the same right to liberty that other Americans have. That includes the right to make choices about their romantic partners, she said, and the right to be protected if that relationship becomes dangerous.

    The ruling further said the state law had created “a heightened potential of harassment, or physical abuse” in the LGBT community that was not in keeping with the state’s goals of improving public safety. Attorney-General Josh Stein and Gov. Roy Cooper, both Democrats, had previously called the law unconstitutional and signed briefs supporting the plaintiff in this case.

  • 29. VIRick  |  December 31, 2020 at 12:33 pm

    Israel "Accidentally" Accepts Online Civil Marriage from Lesbian Couple

    ….and in so doing, and by a very clever sleight-of-hand, Israel just recognized the first civil marriage of a same-sex couple "performed" in Israel. Truthfully, this matter was not an accident, but do not tell the ultra-Orthodox, because first of all, by their standard and by Israeli law (with one exception, mentioned below), only religious marriages may be conducted within Israel. However, because of COVID-19 and the travel restrictions currently in place, Israeli citizens who wish for a civil marriage rather than a religious marriage and/or who do not qualify for a religious marriage and are thus required to obtain a civil marriage somewhere outside of Israel, have been unable to marry. So, the government was provisionally allowing such couples to marry by this means: Physically, the couple was in Israel, but the marriage ceremony was conducted remotely, somewhere outside of Israel (in the instance cited, the ceremony occurred in the US state of Utah, even though the couple was not present). Of course, it was understood, but not promoted, that same-sex couples would take advantage of this opportunity, as offered by the Israeli government. The fact that it has already occurred does not come as a surprise, even if one wishes to pretend to be surprised.

    However, just as an additional side-thought, for years, Israeli hetero couples (mostly refugees with shaky immigration status, fearful of being denied re-entry to Israel upon return) have been marrying civilly and remotely in El Salvador, using Salvadorean stand-ins and proxy witnesses. Of course, to date, El Salvador will not marry same-sex couples, but will gladly accept the fees, provide the lawyers, stand-ins, and proxies, and make all the other necessary arrangements for the civil marriage of hetero couples, while providing all the necessary documentation afterward. So, the only real surprise here is that Utah has apparently joined El Salvador in also providing for remote civil marriages, including that of same-sex couples.

    So, apparently, the proposal first put forward in September 2020 to temporarily expand the 2010 law that allows two people classified as “without religion” to marry in a civil ceremony within Israel, to also include citizens who cannot marry through the rabbinate or other religious institutions, was thus allowed to go forward.….

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    The Israeli government plans to temporarily halt accepting online civil marriages after it accidentally approved that of a lesbian couple who will not have their marriage revoked.

    Israel to Reconsider Accepting Civil Marriages Online After Accidental Approval

    On 31 December 2020, Interior Minister Arye Dery orders a halt to processing requests to recognize other civil marriages performed remotely until a decision is reached on the matter. The Population and Immigration Authority recognized for the first time the civil marriages of three couples, among them a same-sex couple, conducted via a dedicated website run by the US state of Utah.

    Sometime earlier in December 2020, lower-level Israeli Population Authority officials had decided to recognize the civil marriages performed remotely. After word of the decision reached the press, first reported by Kan Bet public radio, Interior Minister Arye Dery announced that it was his responsibility to look into the matter, and that the authority would stop processing requests submitted for the recognition of such unions.

    The three couples whose marriages were recognized, including a lesbian couple from Rehovot, conducted their ceremony over Zoom and presented the Population Authority with an official marriage license from the state of Utah.

  • 30. ianbirmingham  |  December 31, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    Photograph: Israeli Interior Minister Arye Dery, a co-founder of Israel's ultra-Orthodox Shas party, 'Looks Into' Israeli law re: Civil Marriages Performed Remotely

    [Deri ( ) was previously convicted of taking $155,000 in bribes while serving as Interior Minister, and was given a three-year jail sentence in 2000, and was then released from Maasiyahu Prison in 2002 after serving 22 months. Israeli police recommended on 20 November 2018 that he be indicted again for "committing fraud, breach of trust, obstructing court proceedings, money laundering, and tax offenses."]

  • 31. ianbirmingham  |  January 1, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    A record three million early votes cast in Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff races

    The 3,001,017 early votes amount to 38.8% of all registered voters in the state, according to the U.S. Elections Project. That puts turnout at a record high for a Georgia runoff, exceeding the 2.1 million ballots cast in a 2008 Senate contest.

  • 32. VIRick  |  January 2, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    South Dakota: COVID-19 Vaccination/Marriage Proposal

    A Covid-19 vaccine appointment at a Canton SD hospital turned into a marriage proposal for one healthcare couple. Robbie Vargas-Cortes, 31, a paramedic and EMS supervisor, was scheduled to receive his vaccination on 23 December, and knew his boyfriend of five years was one of the vaccine administrators at Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center.

    "I wanted for it to be a surprise," Vargas-Cortes told CNN. Eric Vanderlee, a registered nurse, told CNN he had no idea the proposal was coming. When Vargas-Cortes rolled up his sleeve and there was already tape on his arm, he thought his boyfriend was jokingly indicating where the vaccine should go, "like a bulls eye or something."

    But Vargas-Cortes had taped a ring to his arm. "It just kind of dawned on me and I was like, 'absolutely, of course, yes.' It was just an amazing moment after I figured it out," Vanderlee said.

    Vanderlee then had to administer the vaccine to his new fiancé. And within 10 minutes, Vargas-Cortes, vaccinated and engaged, was out the door responding to an ambulance call.

  • 33. VIRick  |  January 3, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    The Ass-Hole-in-Chief Has Completely Lost His Mind

    Trump urged fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia Secretary of State, to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat in an extraordinary one-hour phone call on Saturday, 2 January 2021, that election experts said raised numerous legal questions. The "Washington Post" obtained a recording of the conversation in which Trump alternately berated Raffensperger, tried to flatter him, begged him to act, and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue his false claims, at one point warning that Raffensperger was taking “a big risk.”

    Throughout the call, Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel rejected Trump’s assertions, explaining that the president is relying on debunked conspiracy theories and that President-elect Joe Biden’s 11,779-vote victory in Georgia was fair and accurate. Trump dismissed their arguments.“The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry,” he said. “And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”

    Raffensperger responded: “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.” At another point, Trump said: “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

    The rambling and at times incoherent conversation offered a remarkable glimpse of how consumed and desperate the ass-hole remains about his loss, unwilling or unable to let the matter go and still believing he can reverse the results in enough battleground states to remain in office. "There’s no way I lost Georgia,” Trump said, a phrase he repeated again and again on the call. “There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

    Several of his allies were on the line as he spoke, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell, a prominent GOP attorney whose involvement with Trump’s efforts had not been previously known.

    On Sunday, 3 January 2021, Trump tweeted that he had spoken to Raffensperger, saying the secretary of state was “unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out-of-state ‘voters’, dead voters, and more. He has no clue!”

    Raffensperger responded with his own tweet: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true.”

    The pressure Trump put on Raffensperger is the latest example of his attempt to subvert the outcome of the 3 November election through his personal brow-beating outreach to state Republican officials. He previously invited Michigan Republican state leaders to the White House, pressured Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in a call to try to replace that state’s electors, and asked the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to help reverse his loss in that state.

    (to continue)

  • 34. VIRick  |  January 3, 2021 at 3:02 pm


    Throughout the call, Trump detailed an exhaustive and exhausting list of disinformation and conspiracy theories to support his position. He claimed, without evidence, that he had won Georgia by at least a half-million votes. He floated a barrage of assertions that have been investigated and disproved: that thousands of dead people voted; that an Atlanta election worker scanned 18,000 forged ballots three times each and “100 percent” were for Biden; that thousands more voters living out-of-state came back to Georgia illegally just to vote in the election.

    “So tell me, Brad, what are we going to do? We won the election, and it’s not fair to take it away from us like this,” Trump said. “And it’s going to be very costly in many ways. And I think you have to say that you’re going to re-examine it, and you can re-examine it, but re-examine it with people that want to find answers, not people who don’t want to find answers.”

    Trump did most of the talking on the call. He was angry and impatient, calling Raffensperger a “child” and “either dishonest or incompetent” for not believing there was widespread ballot fraud in Atlanta — and twice calling himself a “schmuck” for endorsing Kemp, whom Trump holds in particular contempt for not embracing his claims of fraud. “I can’t imagine he’s ever getting elected again, I’ll tell you that much right now,” he said.

    He also took aim at Kemp’s 2018 opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, trying to shame Raffensperger with the idea that his refusal to embrace fraud has helped her and Democrats generally. “Stacey Abrams is laughing about you,” he said. “She’s going around saying, ‘These guys are dumber than a rock.’ What she’s done to this party is unbelievable, I tell you.”

    The secretary of state repeatedly sought to push back, saying at one point, “Mr. President, the problem you have with social media, they — people can say anything.”

    “Oh this isn’t social media,” Trump retorted. “This is Trump media. It’s not social media. It’s really not. It’s not social media. I don’t care about social media. I couldn’t care less.”

    At another point, Trump claimed that votes were scanned three times: “Brad, why did they put the votes in three times? You know, they put ’em in three times.” Raffensperger responded: “Mr. President, they did not. We did an audit of that and we proved conclusively that they were not scanned three times.”

    Trump sounded at turns confused and meandering. At one point, he referred to Kemp as “George.” He tossed out several different figures for Biden’s margin of victory in Georgia and referred to the Senate runoff, which is Tuesday, as happening “tomorrow” and “Monday.”

    (to continue)

  • 35. VIRick  |  January 3, 2021 at 3:14 pm


    His desperation was perhaps most pronounced during an exchange with Ryan Germany, Raffensperger’s general counsel, in which he openly begged for validation.

    Trump: “Do you think it’s possible that they shredded ballots in Fulton County? ’Cause that’s what the rumor is. And also that Dominion took out machines. That Dominion is really moving fast to get rid of their, uh, machinery. Do you know anything about that? Because that’s illegal.”

    Germany responded: “No, Dominion has not moved any machinery out of Fulton County.”

    Trump: “But have they moved the inner parts of the machines and replaced them with other parts?”

    Germany: “No.”

    Trump: “Are you sure? Ryan?”

    Germany: “I’m sure. I’m sure, Mr. President.”

    It was clear from the call that Trump has surrounded himself with aides who have fed his false perceptions that the election was stolen. When he claimed that more than 5,000 ballots were cast in Georgia in the name of dead people, Raffensperger responded forcefully: “The actual number was two. Two. Two people that were dead that voted.”

    Yet Trump also recognized that he was failing to persuade Raffensperger or Germany of anything, saying toward the end, “I know this phone call is going nowhere.”

    But he continued to make his case in repetitive fashion, until finally, after roughly an hour, Raffensperger put an end to the conversation: “Thank you, President Trump, for your time.”

  • 36. Fortguy  |  January 4, 2021 at 12:08 am

    I have a few thoughts here. First off, let's keep in mind how commanding Biden's victory over Trump was. Biden won by a popular vote margin of 7.1 million votes. This exceeds the total population of the eight least populous states and D.C. combined. If we considered only the number of people who actually cast ballots rather than total population, which includes children, non-citizens, and others ineligible to vote, the number of states increases dramatically. Furthermore, only fourteen states have a total population that exceeds those 7.1 million. That number of states again decreases when considering only the citizen voting-age population minus others disenfranchised such as incarcerated or paroled felons depending on state law.

    Also, let's keep in mind that Biden's electoral vote margin was larger than that of any challenger to a sitting president since FDR beat Hoover in 1932 after the onset of the Great Depression. Biden won 306 electoral votes out of 538. In 2016, the GOP also won 306, but two faithless electors in Texas didn't give their votes to Trump (one for John Kasich, the other for Ron Paul). As a result, Trump won with fewer electoral votes than did Biden. Let's also not forget that Trump is the only president to ever lose the popular vote twice.

    Now that we have established how truly profound Biden's victory was, let's look at what Trump needs to overcome that. Georgia is not enough. Trump needs to overturn Pennsylvania and one other swing state whether Georgia or elsewhere. Otherwise, Trump needs to overturn the results in three swing states. Of these, only Arizona and Georgia have their state electoral machinery in GOP hands, and neither is cooperating with him at this point. To the contrary, Republican state officials are fed up with having their homes and families threatened by Trumpanzees jumping up and down, hollering, and flinging their feces everywhere. Trump's last hope is the certification of the Electoral College votes in a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. Although Congress critters from both chambers will issue objections to the votes from some states, this will ultimately fail since such objections must be upheld by both chambers while the House has a Dem majority and more than enough GOP senators resent being forced to participate in a clown show.

    In my home state of Texas, "Big John" Cornyn fully intends to recognize Biden as the president-elect and reject the clown show despite not resembling anything approaching a moderate nor showing any previous sign of courage over the last four years, while Carnival Cruz will prepare for Wednesday by putting on his red nose, oversized shoes, polka dot suit, and lipstick stretching to his earlobes. Cruz, of course, is a complete coward who no longer challenges Trump's assertion that Cruz's father was a Kennedy assassin and has probably come to agree with Trump that maybe his wife really is ugly. (She's not. Heidi Cruz certainly is no beauty queen whom Trump would pay $130,000 to be spanked with a magazine, but her only serious physical flaw is the blindness that keeps her from seeing how truly ugly and idiotic her own husband is.)

    Continued below…

  • 37. Fortguy  |  January 4, 2021 at 12:10 am

    Continued from above:


    Several of his allies were on the line as he spoke, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell, a prominent GOP attorney whose involvement with Trump’s efforts had not been previously known.


    It was clear from the call that Trump has surrounded himself with aides who have fed his false perceptions that the election was stolen.

    From what I heard earlier, Meadows was being a dutiful yes-man while backing Trump and speaking in support of his conspiracy fantasies on the call. The one good thing I can say about this administration is that Trump's henchmen aren't very good at henching. This is probably because reality doesn't leave them with enough henches to work with.

    The breaking news about WaPo releasing the tapes of Trump extorting Georgia officials came at a bad time for me. I was constantly switching channels between watching that on CNN, watching the Cowboys lose and eliminate themselves from playoff contention, and listening to one of the local radio stations that features Tejano music on Sundays. The radio station is not located in my town but rather in another nearby, and the reception is better by local cable TV than over the airwaves. I haven't heard more than the initial 4-5 minutes of the original Trump tape that was initially released and the commentary of the WaPo reporter that released it. While disheartening, it wasn't surprising after seeing the Very Stable Genius at work for the past four years. Similarly, watching the Cowboys choke again was also expected. Listening to Tejano music all day, however, is the enjoyable soundtrack of all of my Sundays.

  • 38. JayJonson  |  January 4, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    Yes, Biden's victory was overwhelming. He received by far more votes than any presidential candidate in American history. Yet, at the same time, the victory was precarious, given our antiquated and undemocratic electoral system. If fewer than 100,000 votes in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada, had switched, the vote in the electoral college would have been far closer than it was. We really need to reform the electoral college.

  • 39. ianbirmingham  |  January 4, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    No Internet broadcasting for this radio station?

  • 40. Fortguy  |  January 4, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    Yes, they do! I use their Internet stream on my phone when I'm away from home. My TV is hooked to better speakers, however.

  • 41. ianbirmingham  |  January 4, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    Can you share a link for this Sunday soundtrack?

  • 42. Fortguy  |  January 5, 2021 at 12:46 am

    The Internet stream is available here.

    For the following description, I'll be using Central Time as that is the time zone the station uses to announce its programming. The station begins its Tejano programming at noon on Sundays beginning with a show featuring Conjunto music lasting until 3 pm. Conjunto is a sub-genre of Tejano that typically features accordions and is the sub-genre that most resembles the Norteña music of Mexico. Conjunto artists include The Hometown Boys, Jaime y Los Chamacos, and La Tropa F as examples.

    From 3 pm to 8 pm, the station features Orquesta and modern sub-genres. Orquesta bands often feature brass instruments and have upbeat, fast meters that are very dance worthy. Examples of this are Little Joe y La Familia, David Lee Garza, Shelly Lares, Mazz, and La Mafia. Modern Tejano has very much of a contemporary pop sound. Selena is a good example of an artist whose songs largely fit in this category.

    Before 8 pm, the station relies on local DJs. After that, the station broadcasts nationally syndicated Tejano programming. From 8 pm to 10 pm is a countdown program that plays the Top 20 Tejano songs of the week interspersed with artist interviews. From 10 pm to 11 pm is a Tejano favorites show. A Tejano classics show airs from 11 pm to midnight when Tejano programming ends.

    The rest of the week, the station is mostly Country-Western with news and weather from time to time. The station does have a Spanish-language music show Monday through Friday from 6 pm to 8 pm, but that program is more general in nature and doesn't necessarily play Tejano. Any music program may be preempted by local high school athletic events, but that happens more rarely now that football season is over.

    If you want to listen to Tejano music some other day besides Sundays, go to Wikipedia's List of radio stations in Texas and use the "Find" function in your browser's menu to search for "Tejano". Any radio station that has its own article likely will have a link from that article to the station's Internet stream.

  • 43. VIRick  |  January 3, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    Trump Broke Georgia State Election Law for which He Can Not Self-Pardon

    In that phone call where he requests Raffensperger to "find" 11,780 votes, Trump broke Georgia state election law.

    Per Jed Shugerman, Professor of Law at Fordham Law:

    GA 21-2-604a1
    A person commits…criminal solicitation to commit election fraud…when, with intent that another person engage in…a felony, he solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.

    Per Anthony M. Kreis, Professor of Law, Georgia State University:

    The most damaging part of the call is when Trump says that the Secretary of State should just say he “retabulated” the numbers. It reveals that he isn’t blowing off steam or sincerely seeking out the truth. His only demand is to have votes tossed or invented to fabricate a win.

    Between that and “we need” the number of votes Biden won by, plus one, is just an astonishing demand. There’s no way to read this other than as a blatant attempt to pressure Georgia officials to lie and alter legitimate election results with a wink and a nod to a looming consequence.

    The actual audio is even more damning, given that he simply will not shut up, while simultaneously being quite rambling and incoherent, yet sinister and threatening (including a fair amount of bleeping):

  • 44. ianbirmingham  |  January 3, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    GA Election Board member asks GA Sec of State to pursue civil / criminal violations involved in phone call with Trump

  • 45. ianbirmingham  |  January 3, 2021 at 8:36 pm

    Turkish Family Ministry flags rainbow-themed children's book; leading Turkish clothing chain bans rainbows, unicorns and 'figures resembling people from the LGBT+ community'

    Turkish authorities have banned pride celebrations in the past few years, citing “security concerns.”

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