The Stonewall Inn’s owners say they won’t serve certain beers at the famous LGBTQ bar during Pride weekend to protest manufacturer Anheuser-Busch’s political contributions to some politicians who have supported anti-LGBTQ legislation.
Co-owners Stacy Lentz and Kurt Kelly said they would be instituting the ban on Friday in support of the “Keep Your Pride” campaign, a recently launched effort highlighting five companies that it says advertise support during Pride but have also made contributions to anti-LGBTQ lawmakers.
The campaign, a project of Corporate Accountability Action, used data compiled from the National Institute on Money in Politics to show that Anheuser-Busch contributed more than $35,000 to 29 legislators it described as anti-LGBTQ between 2015 and 2020.
“We just felt Stonewall having the platform, the power to do this, it was important to stand up,” Lentz said. “We really just want Anheuser-Busch to stop donating to lawmakers who are trying to legalize discrimination.”
In a statement, Anheuser-Busch said, “We support candidates for public office whose policy positions and objectives support investments in our communities, job creation, and industry growth.”
The statement continued, “Together, with our brands, we have a clear role to play in bringing real change and creating an inclusive and equitable world where we cherish and celebrate one another.”
It was at an earlier incarnation of the Stonewall Inn in June 1969 when bar patrons fought with police who had come to carry out a raid, which galvanized gay rights activism around the country and the world.
The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday challenged bans involving transgender people that target athletes in West Virginia and children in Arkansas, slamming them as violations of federal law.
The department filed statements of interest in lawsuits that seek to overturn new laws in those states. In West Virginia, a law prohibits transgender athletes from competing in female sports. Arkansas became the first state to ban gender confirming treatments or surgery for transgender youth.
The DOJ said the laws in both states violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. It also said the West Virginia law violates Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity receiving federal funds.
And in a third case, West Virginia’s Supreme Court on Thursday reinstated a lawsuit filed on behalf of a transgender male student who said an assistant principal harassed him when he tried to use the boys bathroom.
The American Civil Liberties Union, its West Virginia chapter and LGBTQ interest group Lambda Legal challenged the athlete ban on behalf of an 11-year-old transgender girl who had hoped to compete in cross-country in middle school.
“A state law that limits or denies a particular class of people’s ability to participate in public, federally funded educational programs and activities solely because their gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth violates both Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause,” the Justice Department filing said. The state law “does exactly this.”
In Arkansas, the ACLU filed a lawsuit last month challenging the transgender youth prohibition, which is set to take effect on July 28. It prohibits doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for the treatment.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of four transgender youth and their families, as well as two doctors who provide gender confirming treatments. The lawsuit argues the prohibition will severely harm transgender youth in the state and violate their constitutional rights.
“A state law that specifically denies a limited class of people the ability to receive medically necessary care from their healthcare providers solely on the basis of their sex assigned at birth violates the Equal Protection Clause,” the Justice Department filing said. “These restrictions explicitly target transgender people.”
Republican lawmakers enacted the ban in April, overriding a veto by GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The Arkansas governor vetoed the ban following pleas from pediatricians, social workers and the parents of transgender youth who said the measure would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide.
Hutchinson said the law went too far, especially since it wouldn’t exempt youth already receiving the care. Gender confirming surgery is currently not performed on minors in Arkansas.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, also a Republican, asked a federal judge this week to dismiss the lawsuit over the state’s ban. And West Virginia Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Thursday asked a judge to allow him to intervene on the state’s behalf to defend the athlete ban.
Rutledge’s office rejected the Justice Department’s argument, saying the state’s prohibition “absolutely doesn’t discriminate based on transgender status.”
“The Biden Administration’s brief makes the frivolous argument that it does,” Stephanie Sharp, a spokesperson for Rutledge, said in a statement. “But that brief illustrates the weakness of its position — so weak that the Administration resorts to pages of personal attacks against Arkansans’ elected representatives.”
Several other states also have enacted bills this year over school sports participation bans. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem implemented the move by executive order. Other states, including Kansas and North Dakota, passed bans only to have them vetoed by the governor.
In February, the Biden administration withdrew government support for a federal lawsuit in Connecticut that seeks to ban transgender athletes from participating in girls high school sports. A federal judge dismissed that lawsuit in April.
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, which oversees scholastic sports, said earlier this year that it had not received any complaints about transgender athletes on girls teams.
Several Democrats said the West Virginia bill was discriminatory, but supporters have argued that transgender athletes would have physical advantages in female sports.
Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed the bill despite warnings from some lawmakers that the NCAA could retaliate and decide not to hold college tournaments in the state. Justice had said that while it concerned him that the state could miss out on a sporting event, he believed the benefits of the law “way outweigh the bad part of it.”
In the transgender bathroom case, the West Virginia Supreme Court reinstated some negligence claims and sent the lawsuit back to a lower court for further proceedings. A circuit judge had dismissed the lawsuit, saying the Harrison County school board was immune from liability for the actions of an assistant principal.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of student Michael Critchfield accused the board of failing to create a safe school environment. The ACLU had said Liberty High School Assistant Principal Lee Livengood followed Critchfield into the boys bathroom in November 2018 at the school and said, “You freak me out.” Critchfield said he also was ordered to prove his gender by using a urinal. He was 15 at the time.
An attorney for Livengood had previously argued that his client was unaware of Critchfield’s gender identity and was not told of an arrangement Critchfield had with the principal to use the boys restrooms.
A Colorado baker who won a partial victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to make a birthday cake for a transgender woman, a state judge has ruled.
In Tuesday’s ruling, Denver District Judge A. Bruce Jones said Autumn Scardina was denied a cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside to celebrate her gender transition on her birthday because of her transgender status in violation of the law. While Jack Phillips said he could not make the cake because of its message, Jones said the case was about a refusal to sell a product, not compelled speech.
He pointed out that Phillips testified during a trial in March that he did not think someone could change their gender and he would not celebrate “somebody who thinks that they can.”
“The anti-discrimination laws are intended to ensure that members of our society who have historically been treated unfairly, who have been deprived of even the every-day right to access businesses to buy products, are no longer treated as ‘others,’” Jones wrote.
The group representing Phillips, Alliance Defending Freedom, said Wednesday that it would appeal the ruling, which ordered him to pay a $500 fine. The maximum fine for each violation of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act is $500. But it was not clear from the ruling if the fine was for the two attempts that Scardina made to order the cake or just one.
“Radical activists and government officials are targeting artists like Jack because they won’t promote messages on marriage and sexuality that violate their core convictions,” the group’s general counsel, Kristen Waggoner, said in a statement.
Scardina, an attorney, attempted to order the cake on the same day in 2017 that the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips’ appeal in the wedding cake case. Scardina said she wanted to “challenge the veracity” f Phillips statements that he would serve LGBT customers, but her attempt to get a cake was not a “set up” intended to file a lawsuit, Jones said.
One of Scardina’s attorneys, John McHugh, said the case is about how LGBTQ people are treated, not just what happened to her.
“This is about a business that is open to the public that simply says to an entire class of people in the community that your identity, who you are, is something that is objectional,” he said.
The San Francisco Giants will support Pride Month on the field and on their uniforms and caps.
On Saturday against the Cubs, the Giants will feature Pride colors in the SF logo on their game caps along with a Pride patch on the right sleeves of their home uniforms — making them the first major league team to do so.
“Very proud that the San Francisco Giants are taking this step. Very proud to be part of it,” manager Gabe Kapler said Tuesday before San Francisco hosted the Los Angeles Angels. “Looking forward to the impact and the support that we can provide for the LGBTQ+ community.”
The 11 colors represented in the new Pride logo are: red (life); orange (healing); yellow (sunlight); green (nature); blue (serenity); purple (spirit); and black and brown for LGBTQ+ people of color. Light blue, pink and white represent those who are transgender.
“We are extremely proud to stand with the LGBTQ+ community as we kick off one of the best annual celebrations in San Francisco by paying honor to the countless achievements and contributions of all those who identify as LGBTQ+ and are allies of the LGBTQ+ community,” Giants President and CEO Larry Baer said in a statement.
Additionally, the Giants will host Pride Movie Night at Oracle Park on June 11-12.
Germany’s powerful Catholic progressives are openly defying a recent Holy See pronouncement that priests cannot bless same-sex unions by offering such blessings at services in about 100 different churches all over the country this week.
The blessings at open worship services are the latest pushback from German Catholics against a document released in March by the Vatican’s orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which said Catholic clergy cannot bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin.”
The document pleased conservatives and disheartened advocates for LGBTQ Catholics around the globe. But the response has been particularly acute in Germany, where the German church has been at the forefront of opening discussion on hot-button issues such as the church’s teaching on homosexuality as part of a formal process of debate and reform.
The dozens of church services celebrating blessings of gay unions are the latest escalation in tensions between conservatives and progressives that have already sparked alarm, primarily from the right, that part of the German church might be heading into schism.
Germany is no stranger to schism: 500 years ago, Martin Luther launched the Reformation here.
Pope Francis, who has championed a more decentralized church structure, has already reminded the German hierarchy that it must remain in communion with Rome during its reform process, known as a “synodal path.”
In Berlin, the Rev. Jan Korditschke, a Jesuit who works for the diocese preparing adults for baptism and helps out at the St. Canisius congregation, will lead blessings for queer couples at a worship service May 16.
“I am convinced that homosexual orientation is not bad, nor is homosexual love a sin,” Korditschke told The Associated Press in an interview Friday. “I want to celebrate the love of homosexuals with these blessings because the love of homosexuals is something good.”
The 44-year-old said it is important that gays and lesbians can show themselves within the Catholic Church and gain more visibility long-term. He said he was not afraid of possible repercussions by high-ranking church officials or the Vatican.
“I stand behind what I am doing, though it is painful for me that I cannot do it in tune with the church leadership,” Korditschke said, adding that “the homophobia of my church makes me angry and I am ashamed of it.”
The head of the German Bishops Conference last month criticized the grassroots initiative for gay blessings which is called “Liebe Gewinnt” or “Love Wins.”
Limburg Bishop Georg Baetzing said the blessings “are not suitable as an instrument of church political manifestations or political actions.”
However, Germany’s powerful lay organization, the Central Committee of German Catholics, or ZdK, which has been advocating for gay blessings since 2015, positioned itself once more in favor of them. It called the contentious document from Rome “not very helpful” and explicitly expressed its support for ”Love Wins.”
“These are celebrations of worship in which people express to God what moves them,” Birgit Mock, the ZdK’s spokeswoman for family affairs, told the AP.
“The fact that they ask for God’s blessing and thank him for all the good in their lives — also for relationships lived with mutual respect and full of love — that is deeply based on the Gospel,” Mock said, adding that she herself was planning to attend a church service with gay blessings in the western city of Hamm on Monday in which she would pray for ”the success of the synodal path in which we, as a church, recognize sexuality as a positive strength.”
The ZdK has been taking part in the “synodal path” meetings for more than a year with the German Bishops Conference. They are due to conclude in the fall. The meetings include talks about allowing priests to get married, the ordination of women and a different understanding of sexuality, among other reforms. The process was launched as part of the response to revelations of clergy sexual abuse.
“We’re struggling in Germany with a lot of seriousness and intensive theological discourses for the right path,” Mock added. “Things cannot continue the way they did — this is what the crimes and cover-ups of sexual abuse showed us.”
“We need systemic changes, also regarding a reassessment of the ecclesiastical morality of sexuality,” Mock said.
The U.S. will protect gay and transgender people against sex discrimination in health care, the Biden administration announced Monday, reversing a Trump-era policy that sought to narrow the scope of legal rights in sensitive situations involving medical care.
The action by the Department of Health and Human Services affirms that federal laws forbidding sex discrimination in health care also protect gay and transgender people. The Trump administration had defined “sex” to mean gender assigned at birth, thereby excluding transgender people from the law’s umbrella of protection.
“Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Everyone — including LGBTQ people — should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”
It marked the latest step by President Joe Biden to advance the rights of gay and transgender people across society, from military service, to housing, to employment opportunities.
Monday’s action means that the HHS Office for Civil Rights will again investigate complaints of sex discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Hospitals, clinics and other medical providers can face government sanctions for violations of the law.
The Biden administration action essentially restores the policy established during the Obama years. The Affordable Care Act included a prohibition on sex discrimination in health care but did not include the term “gender identity.” The Obama administration interpreted the law as shielding gay and transgender people as well. It relied on a broad understanding of sex shaped by a person’s inner sense of being male, female, neither or a combination.
Behind the dispute over rights for transgender people in particular is a medically recognized condition called “gender dysphoria” — discomfort or distress caused by a discrepancy between the gender that a person identifies as and the gender assigned at birth. Consequences can include severe depression. Treatment can range from gender confirmation surgery and hormones to people changing their outward appearance by adopting a different hairstyle or clothing.
Under the Obama-era rule, a hospital could be required to perform gender-transition procedures such as hysterectomies if the facility provided that kind of treatment for other medical conditions.
LGBTQ groups say explicit protections are needed for people seeking gender transition treatment, and even for transgender people who need care for illnesses such as diabetes or heart problems.
More than 1.5 million Americans identify as transgender, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank focusing on LGBT policy at the UCLA School of Law. A bigger number — 4.5% of the population— identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to Gallup.
Professional groups like the American Medical Association, along with civil rights organizations, have supported health care protections for gay and transgender people, while social and religious conservatives sought to narrow their scope.
HHS is a traditional battleground for conflicts over social issues. During the Trump administration the department clearly bent to the will of conservatives. Other Trump policies applauded by the right restricted abortion referrals and broadened employers’ ability to opt out of providing birth control to women workers covered by their health plans. Under Biden, the policy pendulum has been swinging back in the opposite direction, as officials unwind actions taken in the Trump years.
One of Biden’s first steps after taking office was a Jan. 20 executive order on combating discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The new president directed every executive branch agency to examine what it could do to combat such discrimination.
And earlier this spring, the Department of Housing and Urban Development withdrew a Trump policy that would have allowed taxpayer-funded homeless shelters to deny access to transgender people.
At HHS, Biden’s term has seen the Senate confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine to be assistant secretary for health, a senior position that involves oversight of public health initiatives, HIV/AIDS, women’s health and minority health, as well as other areas including research protections. Levine, formerly Pennsylvania’s top health official, is the first openly transgender person to be confirmed by the Senate.
The hilltop cottage belonging to a lesbian couple who were the first same-sex partners to legally marry in San Francisco has become a city landmark.
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to give the 651 Duncan St. home of the late lesbian activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin landmark status. The home in the Noe Valley neighborhood is expected to become the first lesbian landmark in the U.S. West, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“They provided a place for lesbians who were really, really, really in the closet to hang out and dance, have holiday potlucks so they wouldn’t have to go home and hang out with their homophobic relatives,” said Shayne Watson, an architectural historian who specializes in LGBTQ heritage conservation and was active in the movement to get the home landmarked.
Martin and Lyon bought the simple one-bedroom house, terraced up the hillside, as a couple in 1955, the same year they co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis, a political and social organization for lesbians.
The group started as a social support organization but quickly transformed into activism and politics.
“The Daughters of Bilitis didn’t have an office space, so 651 was really ground zero for the lesbian rights movement at the time. It was a place where people could be safe and reveal their sexuality,” said Terry Beswick, executive director of the GLBT Historical Society.
Lyon was a journalist who met her lifelong love, Martin, while working at a magazine in Seattle. The couple moved to San Francisco in 1953. Besides the political organization, they published a national monthly for lesbians and a book called Lesbian/Woman in 1972.
Gov. Gavin Newsom was a newly elected mayor of San Francisco in 2004 when he decided to challenge California’s marriage laws by issuing licenses to same-sex couples. His advisers and gay rights advocates had the perfect couple in mind to be the public face of the movement.
Lyon and Martin, who had been together more than 50 years by then, were secretly swept into the clerk’s office. They exchanged vows before a tiny group of city staffers and friends.
Martin died in 2008, and Lyon in 2020, and the house was left to Martin’s daughter, Kendra. The property was sold in September 2020.
After the sale, a loose organization called the Friends of Lyon-Martin House was formed to guard against demolition, with the GLBT Historical Society as a financial sponsor.
The new owner, Meredith Jones McKeown, supports landmarking and protecting the cottage, the Chronicle reported.
Within six months, the group will put forth a proposal, with a sidewalk plaque as “a bare minimum,” Beswick said. Beswick and Watson both want to preserve the interior as a student residency, public research facility and center for LGBTQ activism and history.
“No one wants to see a tour bus in front of the house,” said Watson, “but Phyllis and Del affected so many lives, including my own, and I feel strongly that the house where they did it should stay in the community.”
More than 400 companies — including Tesla, Pfizer, Delta Air Lines and Amazon — have signed on to support civil rights legislation for LGBTQ people that is moving through Congress, advocates said Tuesday.
The Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based LGBTQ advocacy group, said its Business Coalition for the Equality Act has grown to 416 members, including dozens of Fortune 500 companies. Big names like Apple, PepsiCo, General Motors, CVS, Facebook, Marriott, Capital One, Starbucks and Home Depot pepper the list.
“It’s time that civil rights protections be extended to LGBT+ individuals nationwide on a clear, consistent and comprehensive basis,” said Carla Grant Pickens, IBM’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, in a statement distributed by the Human Rights Campaign.
The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics. Those protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education and other areas.
The bill passed the U.S. House 224-206 in February, with all Democrats but just three Republicans supporting it. Its fate in the closely divided Senate is uncertain. The House also passed the bill in the last Congress, but it didn’t advance to the Senate.
Among the bill’s opponents is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has said it could force church halls and facilities to host functions that violate their beliefs.
Corporate endorsements of the bill have more than doubled since the House first passed it in 2019, the Human Rights Campaign said.
“We are seeing growing support from business leaders because they understand that the Equality Act is good for their employees, good for their businesses and good for our country,” the Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement.
The city of Scottsdale has voted to approve a non-discrimination ordinance, becoming the eighth city in Arizona to provide protections to members of the LGBTQ community and other groups.
The Scottsdale City Council unanimously passed the ordinance on Tuesday protecting residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, public places and housing.
The ordinance will take effect on May 20 and apply to all elected and appointed city officials, employees and volunteers and all contractors, vendors and consultants of the city.
“The ordinance represents the city of Scottsdale’s commitment to anti-discrimination and fair treatment of residents, visitors and employees in the Scottsdale community, and the City Council’s support and value for diversity and inclusiveness,” the statement said.
The City Council had discussed a similar ordinance in 2016, but never took it to vote because of disagreements on whether to exempt businesses with fewer than 15 employees.
The newly approved ordinance has multiple exemptions, including federal and state officials, federally recognized American Indian tribes and religious organizations. The ordinance will also not apply to anyone who violates any policy or regulation of any places of public accommodation that applies to everyone.
City officials who violate the ordinance could be subject to multiple “responsive actions,” including termination. People not connected with the city who violate the ordinance could face fines between $500 to $2,500 per violation.
The city of Mesa adopted a similar anti-discrimination ordinance earlier this year.
Last year at this time, as much of the world was on lockdown due to the pandemic, Leslie Jordan began posting daily videos of himself on Instagram.
The actor known for roles in the “American Horror Story” franchise and “Will & Grace” was staying near family in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was bored.
Many of Jordan’s videos included him asking “How ya’ll doin?” He referred to his followers as “hunker downers.” Sometimes he posted stories about Hollywood or his childhood growing up with identical twin sisters and their “mama,” as he calls her. Other times he did silly bits like complete an indoor obstacle course. He quickly became a bright spot during an otherwise bleak time and his followers grew.
“Someone called from California and said, ’Oh, honey, you’ve gone viral.’ And I said, ’No, no, I don’t have Covid. I’m just in Tennessee,” said Jordan. Celebrities including Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Alba and Anderson Cooper, along with brands such as Reebok and Lululemon, would post comments.
Soon he became fixated with the number of views and followers he had, because there wasn’t much else going on.
“For a while there, it was like obsessive. And I thought, ‘This is ridiculous. Stop, stop, stop.′ You know, it almost became, ’If it doesn’t happen on Instagram, it didn’t happen.’ And I thought, ‘You’re 65, first of all. You’re not some teenage girl.’”
The spotlight led to new opportunities. Earlier this month he released a gospel album called “Company’s Comin’” featuring Dolly Parton, Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Eddie Vedder and Tanya Tucker. He also has a new book called, “How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived.” It’s Jordan’s second book. His first, “My Trip Down the Red Carpet” was published in 2008.
“That sort of dealt with all the angst and growing up gay in the Baptist Church and la, la, la, la, la. And this one, I just wanted to tell stories.” In “How Y’all Doing,” Jordan writes about working with Lady Gaga on “American Horror Story,” how meeting Carrie Fisher led to Debbie Reynolds calling his mother, and the Shetland pony he got as a child named Midnight.
Jordan says it was hard to narrow down what he wanted to write about because he’s a storyteller by nature.
“It’s very Southern. If I was to be taught a lesson or something when I was a kid, I was told a story.”
With no shortage of anecdotes, Jordan ends the book with a tease there’s more to come. “This is not goodbye forever,” he writes but won’t say if there is an official plan for more, just that if this book does well, he’d love to write another.
Now that the globe has hit the one year mark of the pandemic, Jordan is less reliant on Instagram. He sometimes has to remind himself to post something new and can scramble for content.
“I didn’t plan it in any way at all,” he said of his quarantine surge in popularity. People say to me, ‘Tell me what you did, because I want to get a lot of followers.’ I have no idea. I remember the day it got to a million. Now it’s almost 6 million. … I’ll tell you where it helps, when they go to negotiate the money,” he laughed.
Jordan, who was most recently in the Fox comedy “Call Me Kat” starring Mayim Bialik and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” says he made a decision when he turned 60 to treat showbiz like a regular job and clock out each evening. “At six o’clock, the curtain goes down. TV and movies, see, that’s my job. I have other things that I do besides that.” These days, Jordan spends much of his spare time taking riding lessons and is preparing for his first horse show in June.