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President Biden reverses military’s ban on trans military servicemembers

Transgender Rights

Huffpost reports:

President Joe Biden has repealed Donald Trump’s 2019 guidance that banned transgender people from enlisting and serving in the military, part of a broader effort to undo the former president’s transphobic and regressive policies.

“President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” reads a White House statement sent to reporters on Monday.

“This question of how to enable all qualified Americans to serve in the military is easily answered by recognizing our core values. America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive. The military is no exception,” the statement reads. “Allowing all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform is better for the military and better for the country because an inclusive force is a more effective force.”

The memo summarizing the order is here:

This is a long-awaited win for LGBTQ activists.

UPDATE The text can be found here.

At the same time, attorney Chase Strangio highlights some bad news from state legislators on trans rights here:


  • 1. DevilWearsZrada  |  January 25, 2021 at 9:47 am

    Switzerland: Anti-marriage equality referendum committee formed

    In early December 2020, the Council of States, Switzerland’s upper house voted in favour of same sex marriage, finalising a government decision to change Switzerland’s laws to allow marriage equality for all. Since then those opposed to the idea have been busy.

    The proposed referendum is entitled: Yes to marriage and family, no to marriage for everyone. The committee behind it describes themselves as: The non-partisan referendum committee against marriage for everyone and access to sperm donation for lesbian couples, suggesting the vote is focused on a specific element of marriage equality: medically assisted procreation.

    The organisers, who describe same sex union as pseudo marriage, believe the planned legal changes required to implement it undermine the constitution. Article 14 of Switzerland’s constitution guarantees a right to marriage and family, and vote organisers argue that this means the natural union of men and women, a definition that excludes same sex marriage.

    According to the initiative website, the committee behind the recent initiative includes a number of members of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP/UDC), the Democratic Christian Party (CVP/PDC) and the Federal Democratic Union (EDU/UDF).

    Note: I had to rewrite the headline as the original one implied that enough signatures have been already collected for the referendum to be held. Actually, the initiative committee is quite frank about it on its website:
    "From December 31, 2020 to April 10, 2021, we need to collect at least 50,000 certified signatures. Unfortunately, corona measures make collecting signatures very difficult."

    I hope they won't collect enough signatures. Human rights, especially minorities rights, should not be placed on ballot. Even though referendums are a common practice in Switzerland, if held, such a referendum would set a harmful precedent for other countries.

  • 2. Mechatron12  |  January 27, 2021 at 5:27 am

    We've had this discussion periodically ever since the marriage legislation movement started in Switzerland. The good guys have always claimed to be ready for a referendum because 50,000 signatures is a joke. For comparison, in my state of Arizona our population is more than a million less than Switzerland but it takes 350,000 signatures to get something on the ballot.

    Obviously, the COVID world is a different one, but I still wouldn't hold my breath hoping they don't make it. I'm not a huge fan of referenda on our rights either, but that precedent has already been set, in many states in the USA, in Ireland, and in Australia.

    I'm also not worried in the least about us losing. The bigots even realize they have no chance on straight-up gay marriage, so they are trying to focus on artificial insemination. It didn't work in Ireland and it won't work in Switzerland either. But hopefully the government will step in if the debate gets ugly, unlike the government in Ireland which did not.

  • 3. DevilWearsZrada  |  January 27, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    Most referendums concerning marriage equality have been held over initiatives to ban, not to legalize, it (and mostly to ban it in the constitution, which is not really a feast for democracy, a point expressed by many US judges), and there are not that much referendums over legalization. Excluding Australia (which had a non-binding "postal survey") and Ireland (activists feared that a simple statutory law on marriage equality passed in parliament could be ruled unconstitutional by the courts so the referendum to amend the constitution was deemed necessary), only three occasions from the US remain: a successful 2009 Maine people's veto on the bill passed by the legislature, an unsuccessful 2012 Maryland people's veto on the similar bill and a 2012 Maine referendum which approved a statute brought forward by a popular initiative. In the first two cases the referendums were initiated by the opponents of marriage equality, using the people's veto constitutional option (as is the case in Switzerland) and only in the third case the ME supporters used another constitutional option to put legalization on ballot. With all that in mind I wouldn't say that putting gay couples' marriage rights on ballot really became a common thing to do globally, especially after that era ended in the US in 2012. Almost every time it was used by the conservatives to obstruct legalization efforts, even that Australian "postal survey".

    Now the only useful referendum of such a kind that can be held, especially in the US, is to finally get rid of those nasty constitutional amendments, which are still on the books even if struck down by SCOTUS. I wonder why no US state hasn't held such a referendum (except Nevada which did just that last November)? By "no US state" I mean California first of all.

    By the way, the Swiss bigots' pointless appeal to the federal constitution that was adopted in 1999, didn't define marriage at all and, according to one interpretation, expressly forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation simply shows how frustrated they are that they weren't sneaky enough to drag that anti-gay definition in the constitution's text 20 years ago. Without it their stance seems to be intellectually bankrupt at this moment.

  • 4. Mechatron12  |  January 27, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    In 2012 Washington State also passed marriage equality by popular vote. Had the courts not acted first, you would have started seeing these votes all over the place.
    Also, a marriage amendment was defeated in Minnesota (yes, that obviously doesn't legalize marriage but it was still a referendum on the idea).
    The Australia vote was "non-binding", but do you seriously think Australia would have marriage equality today if it had failed?

    As far as why the constitutional amendments haven't been repealed? Because they can only be undone with ANOTHER constitutional amendment and those can be very expensive to undertake, depending on the state. Many people in the USA would see it as a huge waste of money, especially in COVID times, and might respond angrily at the ballot box. I certainly wouldn't want to take that chance. Yes, we need to start undoing these, but we have bigger fish to fry in the meantime.

  • 5. scream4ever  |  January 27, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    California already repealed the Prop 8 language through legislation following the litigation. Also, I believe Virgina has begun the process to strike the language from their constitution.

  • 6. VIRick  |  January 27, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    "Also, I believe Virgina has begun the process to strike the language from their constitution."

    Yes, that process has begun. Last session, the Virginia legislature removed the state statutory ban. Having done that, this session, they have now undertaken the more complicated and time-consuming task of removing the state constitutional ban.

  • 7. DevilWearsZrada  |  January 28, 2021 at 12:39 am

    But why should at least the California Proposition 8 repeal in post-COVID times be expensive (only statutory ban was repealed and replaced with appropriate legislation, not Prop 8 itself)? As far as I know, the Democrat-controlled state legislature can put this question on ballot by its vote, thus avoiding signature collecting. Popular votes are conducted in California regularly. Regarding campaigning I think – this time – our side can simply rely on overwhelmingly positive public opinion, as well as on post-Obergefell legal reality. And regarding the "it's not necessary, we have Obergefell and gender-neutral statutory law" point: hey, even Alabama started getting rid of its racist constitutional clauses after a referendum held last November!

    As for Australian vote, it couldn't mean much if it would have negative result with low turnout. But there actually was high turnout and an overwhelmingly positive result reflecting public opinion at that time which Australian politicians already knew about before the "survey". It was yet another needless obstruction.

  • 8. Mechatron12  |  January 28, 2021 at 5:46 am

    Any election in California is expensive. TV ads, direct mail, you get the picture. And right now voters are CRANKY. Remember, most people thought the Democrats would pick up seats in the House, and instead they almost lost it. No way in hell I would want to take the chance on losing an election like this, especially when as of yet the Supreme Court has shown no real appetite for overturning Obergefell.

    And I said before, I don't like referenda. But now that we are winning them fairly regularly, it's nice to be able to shove them in the faces of the bigots when they claim the people don't support us.

  • 9. Fortguy  |  January 28, 2021 at 9:01 pm


    "As far as why the constitutional amendments haven't been repealed? Because they can only be undone with ANOTHER constitutional amendment and those can be very expensive to undertake, depending on the state."

    Also, some states don't permit citizen initiatives. In Texas, removing the constitutional language banning ME requires two-thirds of each house of the Legislature followed by voter approval. Getting such a super-majority through the Lege when most of its members believe Adam and Eve lived with dinosaurs is going to be too much to expect anytime soon.

  • 10. VIRick  |  January 26, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    San Marino: Bill to Up-Grade Civil Unions to Marriage

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    In San Marino, the legislators of the Consiglio Grande e Generale are in the process of modifying the civil union law of 20 November 2018 to make civil unions equal to marriage in all aspects except for adoption.

    So, with this news, we now have 3 western European nations in the process of playing "catch up" on marriage equality, Switzerland, Andorra, and San Marino, while the first nation in eastern Europe, Estonia, is doing the same, to possibly be followed by Latvia. Liechtenstein will likely eventually join them, but not until after Switzerland has finally finished with its lengthly procedures and has actually implemented marriage equality there.

  • 11. scream4ever  |  January 26, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    It's a shame there haven't been any updates on the Chech Republic.

  • 12. Mechatron12  |  January 27, 2021 at 5:32 am

    I don't hold out much hope for Latvia in the near future. There are way too many Russians there. Even Estonia, while clearly the most liberal of the Baltics, might be too much to hope for, but the leadership change does at least open the possibility.

    Like scream4ever, I wish we could hear more regarding the Czech Republic. Maybe even Slovenia might give it another go. (Maybe Melania could go campaign for it haha!) I REALLY would like to see a Slavic country to take the plunge on marriage equality and be that trailblazer.

  • 13. scream4ever  |  January 27, 2021 at 5:48 am

    Slovenia could have it if our side challenged the referenda as violating humans rights. It's just so disheartening how close we keep coming there.

  • 14. DevilWearsZrada  |  January 27, 2021 at 12:23 pm

    We can hope that Slovenian parliament will pass same-sex marriage law again and that the conservatives' push for a new referendum won't succeed, maybe with the help of the constitutional court (it didn't really help six years ago).

  • 15. DevilWearsZrada  |  January 27, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    As a citizen of a Slavic country I am waiting for either Slovenia or Czechia to become the first Slavic country with marriage equality as well. Also the Montenegrin partnership law comes into force this July, so Montenegro will soon become the first Slavic Orthodox-majority country, the first non-EU Slavic country and the first non-EU Orthodox-majority country effectively recognising and protecting same-sex unions.

  • 16. VIRick  |  January 27, 2021 at 10:13 pm

    Democrats Introduce Bill to Make Washington DC 51st State

    On Wednesday, 27 January 2021, House and Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would make Washington DC the 51st state. The measure was re-introduced by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) in the House and its companion has been unveiled by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) in the Senate. Norton said that she had more than 200 co-sponsors in the House.

  • 17. DevilWearsZrada  |  January 28, 2021 at 1:08 am

    So can they really do it? I understand that there is a federal Democratic trifecta and that the Senate Democrats can end that silly filibuster thing with a simple majority, but are Republicans going to let two more Democrats sit in the Senate for decades so easily? Or will the DC statehood issue be going to tied to the PR statehood issue to be passed? Of course, we can just sit and wait for the Republicans to start saying aloud that providing Congressional representation for almost a million citizens of their own nation doesn't benefit their party so they oppose it. And make themselves look like total douchebags 😀

  • 18. Mechatron12  |  January 28, 2021 at 5:38 am

    Although I'm an Independent, I voted for Biden and was glad to see Trump gone in November last year. I was also overjoyed to see the Democrats get "control" of the Senate with the two pickups in Georgia. That said, some of the things expressed by Democrats are simply completely out of touch with reality.

    At least 2 Democratic senators have said they will not support ending the legislative filibuster. Unless something changes, the legislative filibuster is not going anywhere, period.

    D.C. and Puerto Rican statehood are so complicated that it would be tough for the Dems to do it with 55+ seats, to say nothing of only 50. Giving out COVID checks is insanely popular in this country and they can't even manage to do that. Adding two new states is NOT popular.

    D.C. statehood is problematic for various reasons. For starters, the US Constitution expressly forbids it. So D.C. would have to be redrawn to only include say the White House and Congress, and a new entity would have to be created. I hate to say this, but a lot of people see this as what it is – a Democratic power grab. If the people of D.C. being "disenfranchised" is that big of a problem, there's a (somewhat) easy solution. Reattach the city back to Maryland. Then they would be able to vote for House/Senate. Only about half of Americans support statehood for D.C., so it's not going anywhere.

    Puerto Rico is even worse. Unlike for D.C., there is no real indication that the people of Puerto Rico even WANT to become a state. Their non-binding referendum only had about 55% percent turnout (presumably because many were boycotting it), and only 53% said yes to statehood. Until the U.S. says to P.R. very bluntly, "Piss or get off the pot," there isn't going to be any movement there either.

  • 19. scream4ever  |  January 28, 2021 at 10:38 am

    Why are you saying Democrats can't manage to get full COVID checks out? They haven't even been in power in the Senate beyond just a week and are just beginning debate on the full package.

  • 20. VIRick  |  January 28, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    "So D.C. would have to be redrawn to only include say the White House and Congress, and a new entity would have to be created."

    Seemingly, you are unaware that the existing legislation does precisely that. It already passed the US House during the previous congress, and has been re-introduced into both the US House and US Senate in the new congress, exactly as already written, complete with clearly defined maps delineating the boundaries between the shrunken-down Federal District (drawn to meet precise constitutional requirements) and the State of New Columbia.

    The DC Metro government is a pre-existing, elected civilian government which would continue to govern the commercial and residential sectors of the current federal district, to be re-named the State of New Columbia, while the newly re-defined federal district would only rule over the essential federal governmental portions, in a contiguous strip, specifically focused on the areas around the White House, the Mall and its assorted memorials, monuments, and museums, as well as the US Capitol and its attendant office buildings, plus the Library of Congress and the US Supreme Court building. It would not affect federal entities like the Pentagon or Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac in Virginia, nor any of the multitude of federal facilities like Walter Reed Hospital or Joint Base Andrews, scattered all over Maryland. Nor for that matter, would it include the many outlying, scattered federal facilities within DC itself.

    In a way, it is already governed and policed separately, as we saw during the trumpista insurrection and its failed coup. The DC Metro Police have jurisdiction over the civilian commercial and residential portions of New Columbia, while the Capitol Police and the Park Police have jurisdiction over those areas within the newly-designated, shrunken-down governmentally-focused federal district.

    Puerto Rico and its future status are not included in this measure, one which is a stand-alone measure concerning only the District of Columbia. However, almost perversely, the pro-statehood political party in Puerto Rico loosely aligns itself with the Republican Party on the mainland (or at least once made that claim, prior to the trumpistas running completely amok).

    To view the map, google:
    It will bring up a pdf file prepared by the District of Columbia Office of Planning to which I am unable to post a direct link. The revisions refer to the removal from the federal district of the half-block between H St. NW and Pennsylvania Ave. NW on the west side of 15th St. NW which has been redeveloped as commercial, as well as the trumpista-leased Old Post Office, also re-designated as commercial, on the south side of Pennsylvania Ave. NW between 12th St. NW and 11th St. NW.

    Also notice that the OAS complex, the Pan American Health Organization, as well as the Canadian Embassy, all perched directly on the very edge of the federal district, are actually just within the boundaries of New Columbia, as these are international/foreign properties that can not be part of the federal district.

  • 21. Fortguy  |  January 28, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    Rick, last year's proposed admission act, and presumably this year's as well, dumped the old proposed name "New Columbia" in favor of "Washington, Douglass Commonwealth". The latter allows it to continue in popular and postal parlance as "Washington, D.C.".

  • 22. Mechatron12  |  January 29, 2021 at 11:44 am

    Umm, I'm COMPLETELY aware of the requirements about redrawing the boundaries of the District. Anything that did not do that would be unconstitutional by definition. I was just giving some background for those who may not be aware of the complexities of the issue.

    The point is, it's not going to happen with 50 Democratic senators. Period. No GOP senator will go along with it, so it would require ditching the filibuster, and Manchin and Sinema at a bare minimum have said they will not do that. Now if the GOP does something crazy, like filibustering some important COVID legislation, maybe things will change.

  • 23. Fortguy  |  January 28, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    Fortunately, McConnell caved on his filibuster demand in the Senate's organizing resolution. The Democrats keep that option in their back pockets should the GOP senators abuse the filibuster in the future, which you know they will do since they can't help themselves if they tried. When that day comes, Dem opposition to eliminating the filibuster may melt away. Also, there is always the possibility that a GOP seat will become unexpectedly vacant or that some GOP moderate, probably one planning to retire, will grow fed up and switch parties like Arlen Specter.

    D.C. statehood is a heavy lift. Polls show more of the public opposes it than favors, and it will get universal opposition from the GOP in Congress. This will require the complete support of Senate Dems and the elimination of the filibuster to proceed. Statehood for P.R. is easier. The public supports P.R. statehood as does the GOP party platform despite Trump's and McConnell's opposition. More importantly, some GOP senators support it including both Florida senators, Rubio and Scott. Should P.R. become a state and elect two Dems to the Senate, and that is by no means certain, D.C. statehood becomes easier.

    Assuming the Norton/Carper resolutions resemble last year's admission act, the smaller district would comprise the Capitol, White House, Supreme Court, the Mall, and various monuments, public areas, and government buildings in Washington. Residents, such as the Presidential household or those otherwise sleeping on a sidewalk grill somewhere or on an office couch after a domestic breakup would be permitted to vote in their state of previous residence. Congress would administer the district directly and would designate no presidential electors. The 23rd Amendment would ideally be repealed eventually, but it's not a deal-breaker.

    The majority of Puerto Ricans, or at least those who care enough to vote, want to become a state. Period. Full stop. Statehood has prevailed in the last three referenda. The first two were confusing with either multiple ballot questions or nonbinary choices, and the second had a boycott. This last November, voters were faced with a simple yes or no on statehood. The 55% turnout, while low by island standards, is in line with the typical presidential turnout in the states and much higher than a typical midterm election. There was no boycott this time. The winning margin of the pro-statehood vote exceeded Trump's margin of victory in Texas. No one questions whether Trump carried Texas. Statehood clearly carried P.R. Independence has the support of only a small minority, and "commonwealth" looks increasingly like what you'd call a colony with lipstick.

  • 24. VIRick  |  January 28, 2021 at 9:47 pm

    "a colony with lipstick" . . .

    on which the lipstick has completely worn off, a point which was searingly brought home again, over 3 years after-the-fact, when I saw the video once again where el trumpista "magnanimously" heaves the rolls of paper towels at the assembled post-hurricane refugees, all US citizens, huddled in the shelter in the up-scale San Juan suburb of Bayamon.

    Of course, at the time, I only heard about this episode second-hand, as we had no communications whatever, and were much more focused on digging our own way out of our post-hurricane debris in the neighboring colony. But we did accomplish one important maneuver: the "President of the Virgin Islands" (according to the ass-hole-in-charge) met him half-way in between, on board a naval vessel, justifiably having refused to allow him to come any closer, let alone to step ashore on any of our islands.

    If you have not yet noticed, it does not take much to scratch open a still-festering open sore, one that will probably never heal. And of course, 2017 pre-dates the pandemic and the continuing chaos and incompetence.

  • 25. Fortguy  |  January 29, 2021 at 1:37 am

    Unfortunately, the colonialism predates Trump although the Very Stable Genius seems to think that Obama's father must have come from one of the territories. Under Obama, Puerto Rico got the PROMESA Act in which an unelected board closed schools and raided public pension funds in order to satiate the greed of hedge fund managers during the island's debt crisis.

    The Constitution's Territorial Clause makes it clear that Congress has authority over the territories under its plenary powers. Whatever autonomy and self-rule Congress grants today it can take away tomorrow at its whim.

    Status quo proponents in Puerto Rico foolishly think that if they could negotiate something better than statehood while enjoying whatever benefits they see in belonging to the U.S. If there truly were something better than statehood, the 50 states would have all sought it long ago. Some borriqueños also like the idea of independence with a compact of free association such as the new nations from the former Pacific Trust Territory. Those compacts also can be ended on the whim of a new Congress.

    The Dems should grant statehood to P.R. and D.C. as soon as politically feasible. It should then run a plebiscite in Guam and the CNMI to see if they support joining together as one Mariana territory. Such a territory would have a population greater than that of Alaska when Alaska joined the union. Should they then join the union, this would leave the USVI as the lone outlier of organized territories and maybe dampen any concern of it's small population joining. In the meantime, all of the populated territories except for American Samoa should become legally incorporated with full, irrevocable constitutional protections.

    American Samoa will have to decide whether to "piss or get off the pot" as Mechatron so elegantly put it.

  • 26. VIRick  |  January 30, 2021 at 7:45 am

    Since yesterday, 29 January, I have become aware that the above post entitled "Democrats Introduce Bill to Make Washington DC 51st State," and its subsequent discussion, particularly the input from Fortguy regarding colony/territory/statehood, has drawn some additional outside, local attention from a number of key allies and political observers, one of whom was last seen in person on the floor of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC.

    This note is simply an acknowledgment and a "Thank you" for everyone's continuing efforts, beginning, of course, with that of Eleanor Holmes Norton.

  • 27. Fortguy  |  January 30, 2021 at 8:17 pm

    Interesting. In that case, for the benefit of those allies and observers, I'll make one last point that I wasn't able to address above since my post was already approaching the maximum allowed by the comment service.

    Mechatron said that an easy solution would be the retrocession of the district back to Maryland. Retrocession is strongly opposed in D.C., and a 2016 poll of Marylanders indicated that retrocession held only 28% support while being opposed by 44%. Forcing retrocession on an unwilling Maryland would require a not-so-easy constitutional amendment.

    Moreover, the district has existed since 1801 upon congressional passage of the district's organic act. As such, the district is older than all but 16 of the states. Each of the states since preceding admission has developed a unique history and geographical context that has contributed to a self-identity and a narrative contributing how the state is perceived by others on the outside. The district, of course, is no different.

    Maryland's legal and political systems have evolved over time in line with the ideals and aspirations of its people. This evolution has occurred without the care or concern of district residents who were never part of the discussion. It would be unfair to demand that the district, after 220 years, subject itself to the norms of another polity in which it played no part in developing. The district has created its own systems, albeit under the controlling thumb of Congress, and its historical identity and aspirations should be respected. Retroceding the district to Maryland makes no more sense than retroceding Kentucky and West Virginia back to Virginia.

  • 28. VIRick  |  January 28, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Biden Sworn In, Many Federal Judges Announce Retirement/Take Senior Status

    A bit over a week in office, President Biden is getting the chance to start reversing big Republican judicial gains, or at least begin to chip away at their massive edge. Five federal judges announced retirement plans immediately after Biden's inauguration last week. On Tuesday, 26 January, two more US district judges announced plans to take senior status. All told, even before the inauguration, an additional eight judges had previously already announced plans to step down.

    Biden, a former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, has 46 district court vacancies and three appeals court vacancies to fill. But the former vice-president and 36-year Delaware senator has a long way to go in matching the Trump administration's confirmation of judges. The Trump administration placed more than 230 people on federal benches, more than the number Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton got confirmed in their first terms.

    McConnell, as Senate majority leader, saw the confirmation of federal judges as part of his legacy. But McConnell has now been relegated to Senate minority leader, with Democrats in control of the chamber, through a 50-50 split and with Vice-President Kamala Harris set to break tie votes in favor of Democrats.

    Federal judges have not been shy about departing since the new administration took over. One judge, Victoria Roberts, announced her retirement just hours after Biden took office, sending a letter to the president that she would step down in late February. Roberts was nominated to the Eastern Michigan District Court by Clinton. US District Judge William Alsup sent a letter to Biden a day after he was sworn in. "Congratulations on becoming our new president," Alsup said. "I feel it is time now for me to ‘go senior’" — a semi-retired status that allows for a judicial successor to be nominated.

    Eight of the retiring judges were appointed by Clinton, two by Obama, and five by Bush.

  • 29. VIRick  |  January 29, 2021 at 2:34 pm

    Quebec Superior Court Invalidates Anti-Transgender Articles in Quebec Civil Code

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    Montreal — The Superior Court of Quebec has invalidated several articles of the Civil Code of Quebec that discriminated against transgender and non-binary individuals, in what advocates are calling an “historic human rights decision.” In a ruling rendered on Thursday, 28 January 2021, Justice Gregory Moore voided several portions of the Civil Code as unconstitutional, such as not allowing non-binary people to change their sex designation on their Act of Birth record to correspond to their gender identity. According to the decision, Moore determined that those provisions “violate the dignity and equality rights of non-binary people."

    Moore also struck down other articles that required non-binary parents to be identified in official records as either the mother or father of a child, instead of being referred to as parents. The provincial government has until 31 December 2021 to amend these parts of the code to comply with said ruling.

    The decision also does away with the requirement that only Canadian citizens can change the gender designation on their identification and on their official records, allowing refugees, permanent residents, and immigrants seeking status to also do so, as well.

  • 30. VIRick  |  January 29, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    India: Same-Sex Couples Are Using a Gujarati Legal Practice to Get "Married"

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    A Gujarati legal practice is allowing LGBT couples to legitimize their relationships, even if it confers no legal recognition. The concept of Maitri Karar began as a tool for married men to legitimize their lovers (as the Hindu religion only allows for one wife, and divorce is not part of the tradition, but arranged marriages are, as is taking up with a lover when the arranged marriage does not work out). Now, same-sex couples are using Maitri Karar to make their relationships official.

    In late June 2020, two policewomen from Mahisagar, Gujarat, filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court in Ahmedabad. The women had been in a relationship for the past three years, their petition said. They wanted to live together, but their families were not in favor of it. They were trying to separate from the two families, and the women sought a court order for police protection.

    The petition also referred to a "Friendship Agreement" they had entered into. This Maitri Karar, as it is colloquially known in Gujarat, was their way of legitimizing their relationship. Under the contract, their lawyer, Zakir Rathod, told Mint that the two had vowed to stay together for the rest of their lives. “Like in the case of a marital union, it had details on property ownership, inheritance, and maintenance, in case of separation.”

    On 23 July 2020, the Gujarat High Court granted their petition and ordered the Mahisagar police to give protection to the couple. While there was no explicit mention of the Maitri Karar, Rathod believes it helped the couple demonstrate their commitment to each other. “Under Indian laws, same-sex civil unions are not possible but same-sex cohabitation is. And ever since homosexuality was decriminalized by the Supreme Court in 2018, I have come across many instances of gay couples wanting to get into a Maitri Karar. I myself have helped three or four of them in the past few years,” he adds.

    In 1988, two women from Vadadhali village in Chhota Udaipur, Gujarat, decided to make their relationship official using Maitri Karar. It is among the earliest documented cases of same-sex couples using the Karar. Their decision, an "Indian Express" report on 7 May 1988 said, “created a sensation of sorts when they entered into a contract marriage by signing before the notary public and decided to live together."

    At the time, homosexuality was illegal. “But the Maitri Karar translates into ‘a contract of friendship,'” says Maya Sharma. “It doesn’t say relationship anywhere.” Over the years, she says, many same-sex couples entered into such agreements. In 2016, an inter-faith heterosexual couple from Banaskantha, Gujarat, entered into a Maitri Karar as a substitute for marriage, since neither of them wanted to change their religion. Other couples have pre-emptively used the practice to block arranged marriages being forced upon them by their families.

    Most instances of Maitri Karar are found in Gujarat. But Ruth Vanita, scholar and author, writes that Mamata and Monalisa, a lesbian couple from Odisha, entered into a similar contract in 1998. “Friendship agreements evolved independently in India under Indian contract law, which recognizes any contract, whether notarized or not, between consenting adults, if it does not violate state policy. The idea of a friendship agreement is also based on pre-modern traditions of recognizing friendship as an institution.”

    The above account is the real India, complete with its myriad of endless, subtle complexities. Maitri Karar can also be found in Bangladesh.

  • 31. VIRick  |  January 29, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    Nebraska: State Constitutional Amendment to Repeal Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    A Democratic state legislator has submitted a proposal into the unicameral state legislature as a state constitutional amendment to repeal the (now-defunct) ban on marriage between same-sex couples. A Republican super-majority in the legislature is likely to block it:

    Lincoln – Marriage between same-sex couples has been legal in the US since 2015, but a proposed amendment dealing with the issue is set for a hearing Friday afternoon, 29 January 2021. The measure from state Senator Patty Pansing Brooks would repeal Article One, Section 29, of the Nebraska Constitution that states that only marriage between a man and a woman shall be recognized in Nebraska and that any same-sex union will not be valid.

    Senator Pansing Brooks said the law was rendered unenforceable by a Supreme Court decision in 2015 legalizing marriage between same-sex couples.

  • 32. bayareajohn  |  January 29, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Sadly, Repubs are betting that SCOTUS will eventually reverse on SSM (or somehow return discretion to the states whims) and then their dormant laws – if still on the books – will instantly spring back to validity. They believe that to re-enact the discriminatory law later would be too uphill. Going long. Hopefully a bad bet, like hoping to put all the water back after the dam breaks, but after the last year, it seems anything is possible.

  • 33. scream4ever  |  January 30, 2021 at 10:48 am

    It won't happen, especially since they didn't grant cert to the birth certificate case from Indiana, which would've been the perfect opportunity to begin to chip away at Obergefell.

  • 34. bayareajohn  |  January 30, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    Reality is a concept that doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. The same people who think Trump won by a landslide and that space lasers from lizard people started the California fires also hold out hope for putting 7 years of toothpaste back into 50 tubes.

  • 35. Fortguy  |  January 30, 2021 at 8:28 pm

    You have different conspiracies mixed up. (That's easy to do since there are so many these days.) Marjorie Taylor Greene has expressed her belief that the space lasers causing the California wildfires come from Jewish satellites because the true measure of how offensive someone's nutty beliefs are is how quickly they invoke "The Jews" for every affliction in the world.

    The Qanoners more generally believe that government is speckled throughout by alien lizard people. This is clearly ridiculous as the only person in government who could even plausibly be a lizard person is Ted Cruz.

  • 36. bayareajohn  |  January 30, 2021 at 10:26 pm

    Take another look at McConnell before you stop at one.

  • 37. ianbirmingham  |  February 5, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    BayAreaJohn, McConnell is counted as an alien turtle person (as shown here):


  • 38. ianbirmingham  |  January 30, 2021 at 4:05 am

    After Trump, Democrats set out on a mission to 'repair the courts'

    The White House and senators are coordinating on an ambitious judicial project. Some Democrats want to fill every vacancy by the end of 2022.

  • 39. VIRick  |  January 30, 2021 at 6:09 pm

    Newfoundland Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Required Marriage Equality Compliance

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    A marriage commissioner who had filed a discrimination complaint with the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission after she was told to resign unless she agreed to perform marriages between same-sex couples has lost an appeal to the province’s Supreme Court, years after her death in 2016. Desiree Dichmont was a marriage commissioner in 2004 when the province amended its marriage act to allow for same-sex marriages, and informed commissioners they would have to resign their appointments if they did not provide services to same-sex couples. Dichmont resigned as a commissioner, citing a “strongly-held religious belief that homosexual unions were sinful,” according to the court. She later filed a complaint with the province’s human rights commission, saying she had been discriminated against because of her religion.

    In late January 2021, Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Justice Vikas Khaladkar ruled in favor of the human rights commission, agreeing that the provincial government had the right to require her to resign unless she agreed to perform marriages between same-sex couples, and was thus not required to accommodate her belief. Khaladkar further ordered Dichmont’s estate to pay appeals costs to both the province and the human rights commission.

    Serious question: After the plaintiff's death, why would her estate wish to continue to pursue this appeal? Were they expecting a large monetary settlement based upon her alleged "religious discrimination" claim? If so, they must now be more than disappointed, because instead of receiving such settlement, they have been (justifiably) saddled with paying for all parties' legal expenses related to the appeal.

  • 40. JayJonson  |  January 31, 2021 at 7:18 am

    Good question as to why her estate continued to pursue the appeal. I suspect that she was simply a nominal plaintiff who enabled a larger anti-gay organization (the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms may be a Canadian version of ADF) to use her to establish standing on the issue.

    What I find surprising is why it took so long to get such an obvious decision. There were many such cases in the wake of marriage equality coming to Canada in the early years of the century and they reached the same resolution. In Canada it is a no-brainer since marriage commissioners were established in the first place in order to enable people who were not religious to get married.

  • 41. VIRick  |  January 31, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    Trump Is Completely Delusional; His Defense Team Quits

    Late Saturday, 30 January 2021, five lawyers who were set to defend Trump left the team as the Senate prepares to begin its impeachment trial. Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, who were expected to be lead attorneys, have reportedly left amid a mutual decision by the attorneys and Trump. North Carolina attorney Josh Howard, as well as Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris from South Carolina, have also reportedly left the case.

    A person familiar with the situation told CNN that the departure was prompted by an unresolved dispute over legal strategy. Trump allegedly wanted the attorneys to still argue that mass election fraud took place in the 2020 election and that the election was stolen from him, rather than their focusing on the legality of convicting a president once they have left office, as per the legal team's intended strategy.

    There have been no other announcements at the time as to who may work on Trump's legal team. The Senate impeachment trial is still scheduled to begin on 8 February.

  • 42. davepCA  |  January 31, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    I'm really hoping that some equally delusional attorneys will jump at the opportunity to try to argue the case exactly how Trump wants it done, and subject that bullshit to the full scrutiny of the court. I'll get the popcorn.

  • 43. bayareajohn  |  January 31, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    Dave, the "court" is the US Senate. Which is (nearly) 50% too scared to cross Trump. Scrutiny is not on the menu.

  • 44. davepCA  |  February 1, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    Yes, I'm looking forward to the actions of the other 50%. I would expect it to be better than years of unrestrained fabricated tweets with zero fact check filtering and zero accountability. A guy can dream.

  • 45. VIRick  |  January 31, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    Wisconsin Vaccine Saboteur Is a Delusional Conspiracy Nut-Job

    The Wisconsin pharmacist who intentionally sabotaged hundreds of doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on 24 and 25 December 2020 because he thought COVID-19 was a hoax, also believes the earth is flat and the sky is actually a “shield put up by the Government to prevent individuals from seeing God.”

    Federal authorities accused Steven Brandenburg, 46, of purposely destroying 570 doses of the vaccine by twice removing a box containing the vials from a refrigerator at Advocate Aurora Health Systems in Grafton WI where he worked the night shift. Brandenburg knew this could spoil the vaccine, which can only survive for up to 12 hours outside of refrigeration, said prosecutors.

    Brandenburg insisted the “microchipped” vaccine would “turn off people’s birth control and make others infertile.” He was convinced that the physical world around him was not what it seemed, a coworker told investigators. Brandenburg carried a .45-caliber handgun to work, which he said he needed “in case the military came to take him away.”

    According to divorce records reviewed by Milwaukee ABC News affiliate WISN, Brandenburg’s wife Gretchen told a judge that her husband was storing bulk food and guns in multiple rental units, fearing that the government was planning attacks on the electrical grid and the nation’s computer networks. She said she was so scared for her safety, and that of her children’s, that she left town, taking the children with her.

    Last week, Brandenburg, who has since been fired from his job, agreed to plead guilty to two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products with reckless disregard, and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each charge.

    If and when Brandenburg ever gets out of federal prison, it is possible he could well become the next Republican candidate for President. He certainly seems to possess all the necessary "qualifications."

  • 46. bayareajohn  |  January 31, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    He and Marjorie Greene would have a lot to talk about.

  • 47. VIRick  |  February 1, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    The "Brightest" Pro-Trump Insurrectionist at the US Capitol

    On Friday, 29 January 2021, federal prosecutors arrested Troy Faulkner on charges related to the Capitol riot and insurrection of 6 January. They were able to easily identify him, the FBI said, because Faulkner attended the insurrection and failed coup wearing a jacket with his phone number on the back. In an extra-ordinarily "brilliant" maneuver, he apparently attempted to overthrow the US government while wearing said jacket advertising his Ohio painting company.

    Although the phone number is partially redacted in the official FBI affidavit, just for the record, since there is also a full-color unredacted screen-shot of the back of the jacket taken while he is simultaneously smashing one of the windows of the US Capitol in order to force entry, his "well-thought-out" fashion statement quite informatively declares, "Faulkner Painting, 614-900-6985." The FBI was able to confirm through the Ohio Secretary of State's website that Faulkner did indeed own a painting business in his name consistent with the company's logo on the back of the jacket.

    One can view the infamously informative advertising jacket, as Faulkner forces his way into the US Capitol on 6 January, here:

    Oh shit! In addition, in less than a minute, I just found this "full frontal" profile mug-shot pic of the same esteemed Troy Faulkner wearing a t-shirt proudly proclaiming "Ban Idiots, Not Guns," along with his complete business contact information: Faulkner Painting, Painting Contractor, 4024 Etna St., Columbus OH, 43213-2317. (614-900-6985)

  • 48. davepCA  |  February 2, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    Too bad he didn't have any gay friends to help him avoid this dumb mistake. I'm picturing:

    "Okay, I'm off to attack the Capitol to attempt to destroy democracy!"

    "…and you're wearing THAT?"

  • 49. VIRick  |  February 2, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    Here is another "well-planned" MAGA insurrectionist who also does not appear to have all of their shit fully packed:

    MAGA Rioter Asks Federal Judge for Permission to Depart USA to Vacation in Mexico

    On 6 January, Jenny Cudd said on video that she "fucking charged the Capitol today with patriots today." In a picture taken by a Getty photographer, she could be seen in the Capitol Rotunda, wrapped in a Trump flag with a phone stuck in front of her face, possibly recording the 25-minute video, graphically detailing all the day's "heroic" exploits, including the breaking down of Nancy Pelosi's office door. But now, she's worried about her "planned and prepaid" trip to Mexico later this month.

    Apparently, vacationing in Mexico during a global pandemic isn’t just for gay circuit-party-goers in Puerto Vallarta anymore; Jenny Cudd of Midland TX who was allegedly part of the 6 January MAGA riot and attempted coup at the Capitol is asking a federal judge to allow her to take a leave of absence from the USA because she already booked a vacation in Mexico.

    According to the "New York Post," on 1 February, Jenny Cudd told a federal court where she is facing multiple charges stemming from her alleged participation in an attempted coup that left five people dead that she had already “planned and prepaid for a weekend retreat with her employees” in Mexico from 18-21 February. Cudd told the court that the flower shop she owns is having “a work-related bonding retreat for employees and their spouses.”

    Instead, it would appear far more likely that Jenny Cudd will be having her own special "bonding retreat" in federal prison with a collection of other equally delusional inmates.

  • 50. JayJonson  |  February 3, 2021 at 6:40 am

    Alas, the judge granted her request to vacation in Mexico.

  • 51. bayareajohn  |  February 3, 2021 at 8:52 am

    We can hope she just doesn't come back.

  • 52. VIRick  |  February 1, 2021 at 8:57 pm

    US Virgin Islands: Limetree Bay Oil Refinery Finally Restarts

    Avoiding any mention of the endless international conflict, including blockades, contract violations, lawsuits, and seizures over the Hovensa oil refinery (now re-named Limetree Bay) between the quixotic Chavez government of Venezuela and its continuismo, and that of the US Virgin Islands government, the following brief announcement rather prosaicly describes the enormous facility's restart, once the largest-capacity oil refinery in the entire Western Hemisphere, after 9 long years of its being shuttered:

    Limetree Bay has started up part of the former Hovensa refinery on St. Croix, and begun production and commercial sales of refined products, the company announced on Monday, 1 February 2021.

    The refinery is reportedly capable of processing more than 200,000 barrels of crude oil and other feedstocks per day. Before it was shut down in 2012, the former Hovensa refinery could handle 500,000 barrels per day. BP Oil is now the refinery’s exclusive provider of crude oil and the sole purchaser of all of its refined products. Limetree Bay company officials hope to play a role in processing the growing supply of Latin American sour crude to fulfill consumer demand in growing end-markets in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the US East Coast.

    Parts of the original plant were not restarted due to expensive retrofits mandated by the US Environmental Protection Agency. However, with other parts originally set up with special equipment to remove sulfur from Venezuelan crude oil, the refinery may be well-situated to meet new marine fuel sulfur standards.

    If all goes well, the refinery is expected to generate up to 700 permanent jobs and tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue. The loss of the former Hovensa refinery severely damaged the Virgin Islands government’s finances, and the restart of part of the facility may go some way in reversing that loss.

  • 53. VIRick  |  February 2, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    Pete Buttigieg Becomes First Out Senate-Confirmed Cabinet Member

    Pete Buttigieg made history again on Tuesday, 2 February 2021, becoming the first out member of the LGBTQ community to be a Senate-confirmed Cabinet member. The Senate confirmed Buttigieg, who is gay, to be Secretary of Transportation by a vote of 86-13. At 39, he is the youngest Transportation secretary and one of the youngest Cabinet members ever, and the first one from the millennial generation.

    He is the former mayor of South Bend IN who sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He was the first out presidential aspirant to appear in a major party’s debate, and he made history by sharing his coming-out story in that forum. He won the most delegates in the Iowa caucus in January but dropped out of the race in March and then endorsed Joe Biden. He went on to work on Biden’s transition team. Before going into politics, he worked for a consulting firm and served in the military in the Iraq War.

    Per Chris Johnson at the "Washington Blade," these are the 13 Republican Senators who voted against Buttigieg's confirmation:

    Cruz (TX)
    Cotton (AR)
    Marshall (KS)
    Scott (FL)
    Tuberville (AL)
    Shelby (AL)
    Hawley (MO)
    Blackburn (TN)
    Rubio (FL)
    Scott (SC)
    Lankford (OK)
    Hagerty (TN)
    Cassidy (LA)

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