Queer Catch Up: Friday, Nov. 8, 2019


Welcome to back to YUNGMIGA’s Friday Queer Catch-Up, a weekly post where folks can catch up recent LGBTQ+ news and pop culture.

NEWS ROUND UP

Photo credit: The Grosby Group

Walter Mercado, a flamboyant astrologer and TV star popular across Latin America, dies at 88

Television astrologer and gay icon Walter Mercado has died at 88. Mercado was best known throughout Latin American countries for his dramatic daily horoscopes on broadcast networks such as Univision. He wore extravagant capes, over-the-top gemstone rings and other elaborate and ornate clothing and jewelry. While Mercado never disclosed his sexual orientation publicly, his TV presence was beloved by people, especially LGBTQ+ people.

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Spelman College, a historical black women's college in Atlanta, Georgia, receives $2 million for the first ever Audre Lorde Queer Studies program. The grio reported: “Spelman College has received a $2 million dollar gift from philanthropist Jon Stryker, to establish its first chair position for a Queer Studies program. The program was named in honor of legendary queer Black poet, activist, and feminist, Audre Lorde. ‘Spelman College has long been at the forefront of LGBTQ inclusion and education among HBCUs,” Stryker said in a statement. “By supporting this chair, the goal is to engage and empower the next generation of LGBTQ advocates to create a better world.’”

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Three trans women shared their stories at the Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association’s Transgender Education Panel at the Oak Park Library. The Chicago Tribune’s Judith Ruiz-Branch reported: “Panelists Ann Lewis, Odette Bishop and Jill Rose Quinn each shared how they struggled with their identities for decades before coming out as transgender women. Each of them voiced their regret over the years they lived not being “themselves." They said they hoped their stories would help to encourage transgender people and their families with the transitioning process.”

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) under the Trump Administration has reversed nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people within federally funded health programs. Pink News reported: “In a rule change announced on Friday (November 1), health programmes receiving grants from HSS will no longer have to abide by nondiscrimination guidelines protecting LGBT+ people. The Trump administration changed the rule in the name of “religious freedom.”

The announcement from HHS said: “The proposed rule represents the Trump Administration’s strong commitment to the rule of law―the Constitution, federal statutes, and Supreme Court decisions. These require that the federal government not infringe on religious freedom in its operation of HHS grant programs.”

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, the rule change will impact “all discretionary and non-discretionary grants across the Department.”

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A Kentucky Supreme court unanimously rules in favor of a print shop owner from Lexington, Kentucky, who refused to print messages on products that “violated his deeply hard religious beliefs.” This case isn’t by any means new or recent. It dates back to 2012 after the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) filed a complaint against Blaine Adamson, the print short owner, with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission. The complaint alleged that Adamson denied a request from GLSO to print shirts for the Lexington Gay Pride Festival.

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Virginia’s Human Rights Commission canceled their Halloween meeting that was supposed to discuss one of their commissioner’s homophobic and transphobic posts on Facebook. According to news reports, the public was upset that the meeting was being held during prime trick-or-treat hours, which led the commission’s decision to postpone their meeting until a later time. Brother LaKendrick Coburn El, the commissioner in question, wrote that trans people “suffer from mental illness” and said homosexuality is an “abomination.” He was supposed to resign at the meeting on Halloween; however, Coburn El told the Virginian-Pilot that he will not resign from his position until he receives a chance to address the Virginia Rights Commission in person at their next meeting. The commission’s next regular scheduled meeting is Nov. 14 at 4 p.m.

The Virginian-Pilot reported: “El said his posts accurately describe his religious beliefs, and he does not regret sharing his personal views online. El is a grand sheik divine minister with the Moorish Science Temple of America.”

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Photo credit: Google Earth Roncalli High School in Indianapolis

Another Catholic school employee in Indiana is fired; making her the third employee terminated from the Indianapolis high school in the “LGBTQ+ scandal.” Kelley Fisher, a heterosexual woman, alleges she was fired from her job as a social worker at Roncalli High School in Indianopolis, Indiana, because she made public comments on Facebook in support of her two lesbian guidance counselors who were fired from Roncalli High School.

"If you publicly support, you know, (being) against discrimination ... you too, can be a victim of losing your job," Kelley Fisher told IndyStar. The archdiocese previously released a statement which states that the Supreme Court "has repeatedly recognized that religious schools have a constitutional right to hire leaders who support the schools' religious mission."

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St. Louis jury determines that police denied an officer a promotion because he’s gay. The St. Louis Day reported that jurors said the police sergeant should get almost $20 million in discrimination suit against St. Louis County police.

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"Gateway_Arch" by liimus is licensed under CC BY 2.0

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) announced that the state will train voter poll workers how to interact with transgender and non-binary voters. “Elections officials have a duty to facilitate the participation of all eligible voters. By partnering with Equality California we can benefit from their expertise and experience to better train poll workers and ensure a welcoming voting environment for LGBTQ citizens. California is proud to be proactive in protecting the voting rights of LGBTQ voters and fostering an inclusive democracy,” Padilla said in a press release.

Read the release here

Photo credit: Diversidad Sin Fronteras

Democratic Senators, Kamala Harris and Richard Blumenthal, are demanding a special counsel investigation from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for Roxsana Hernández's death. The two senators are asking the DOJ to look into whether immigration authorities committed a crime by not keeping the surveillance footage of Hernández.

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Two organizations composed of people who claim they were formerly LGBTQ+ identified are lobbying in Washington, D.C., this week against proposed LGBTQ rights bills. The groups are claiming that despite academic research and hate crimes data from the federal government that discrimination against LGBTQ+ people does not exist.

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The Cut’s Madeleine Aggeler wrote a guide to the “Incredibly Complicated Katie Hill Scandal,” referring to Californian Representative Katie Hill’s resignation amidst the House Ethics Committee investigation into an alleged relationship with a staffer and legislative director from her campaign committee. Hill suggested that the criticism she’s received was due to a double standard. Now, she’s being subjected to porn revenge and blackmail. “I know that as long as I am in Congress, we’ll live fearful of what might come next and how much it will hurt,” Hill wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

Read: "A Guide to the Incredibly Complicated Katie Hill Scandal" | The Cut

Read: Hill's statement from Twitter

Read: "Katie Hill Blames Scandal, Resignation On 'Double Standard'" | Daily Press

Read: "Bisexual Congresswoman Katie Hill Doesn’t Want Her Resignation To ‘Scare Off’ Women And LGBT People Running For Office" | Pink News UK

Read: "Katie Hill Is The Victim Of A New Blackmail" | Irish Times (opinions piece)

Read: "Vargas: The Attack On Katie Hill Is A Gay-Bashing" | San Jose Spotlight (opinion piece)

Read: "Don’t Let Katie Hill’s Abuser Steal Her Legacy" | Los Angeles Blade (opinion piece)

El Salvadoran trans woman’s future is uncertain as an asylum seeker in Phoenix, Arizona. “From experience, Britany knew what to expect if her asylum claim was rejected. She imagined a Boeing 737 was waiting just a few miles from the New Mexico immigration court, just like the one she’d boarded two years ago,” the Phoenix New Times reported.

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