Is America Over The Fight For LGBTQ Rights?

A recent story published in The Atlantic characterized the state of LGBTQ rights about half a decade after the Supreme Court ruled to allow same-sex marriage as a matter of federal law. For a lot of people, the fight for LGBTQ rights — at least from straight alliance members — ended there. 

But for the rest of us, the fight rages on, at least in part because legislators still haven’t figured out what they’re doing, and the Trump administration continues to gut equal rights regulations put into place under Obama.

Federal law does not ban discrimination of the LGBTQ community, but about half of the country thinks it does. That explains a great deal of resentment derived from right-wing free speech advocates and conservative Christian business owners who would prefer to post signs banning gay people from their establishments or simply deny them service when they come inside. 

Questions like whether or not LGBTQ should be protected from discrimination in the same way that people are protected based on skin color, gender, age, etc., are still being asked by lawmakers. For many of us, it’s not a question at all. How can anyone justify allowing lessors to deny a lease to someone based on sexual orientation? And yet they do.

The House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent such acts of discrimination early this year. The Equality Act would guarantee equal rights for LGBTQ people — and more importantly, no one would have the option of shouting “religious freedom!” as a loophole for not following the law. Of course the only way it will ever be passed into law is if Democrats win back control of Congress in 2020, retain control of the House of Representatives, and put a Democratic president in Trump’s still-warm seat. 

In other words, it’s a long road ahead for LGBTQ equality.

An upcoming Supreme Court case will determine whether or not an employee had the right to terminate the employment of a transgender employee after the employee came out. Judging from the conservative leaning of the current justices, no one’s all that optimistic.

Many conservative groups are still trying to relax LGBTQ protections — aided by the president, who is trying to do the same — while others are trying to find some sort of compromise to protect the community while also granting private businesses and organizations to continue functioning on par with their religious beliefs. 

Is compromise important in these struggles? Not really. Either discrimination is legal or it isn’t. How can there be any middle ground?

News Flash: Some Of The Asylum Seekers At Our Southern Border Are LGBTQ

And they’re being persecuted both here and at home. The problem isn’t exaggerated: it’s real. There are more than 800,000 migrants seeking asylum here in the United States. The Trump Administration is trying to do everything it can to turn them back or prevent them from entering. His supporters routinely reiterate the willfully ignorant belief that the migrants wouldn’t be locked up in concentration camps if they had entered the country the “legal” way. 

But they did exactly that.

By law, asylum seekers are supposed to come into the country through a point of entry and make their application. That’s what they did. There’s nothing illegal about it. That’s why Trump is trying to change the current laws to make it illegal.

Some of these folks left their home countries because they were persecuted for sexual orientation or gender identity; we’re supposed to be more civilized in this country, right? It’s getting harder and harder to make the case when those leaning right are so heavily influenced by Fox and Friends.

The UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute believes there are around 267,000 undocumented LGBTQ residents of the United States. They face the same obstacles as the LGBTQ community in general, except those obstacles can be greatly amplified and become much more difficult to tackle simply because these people have a different ethnic origin.

One migrant shares her story that began on January 1, 2017 when she crossed the border with Mexico at El Paso, Texas — a place the entire nation knows very well by now. It’s not only the location of a recent mass shooting, but it’s one of the places where asylum seekers are legally allowed to cross into the country in order to make their application.

“That was the start of another horrible ordeal,” she says, “which was going into ICE detention. It is difficult when you show up and your appearance is completely feminine but your document says you are a man. They brought me into the famous ‘ice boxes’ as they call them. And they were full of men, and they knew that because I was there, that I was trans.”

When she was verbally assaulted and screamed at, the officials there gave her little in the way of consolation. They handcuffed her to a pole outside for the next six hours. Weeks later, she was finally transferred to a special facility, but not before enduring additional trauma.
While the experience is worse for LGBTQ individuals, it highlights the way the migrants are being treated in general: like prisoners, like criminals, like animals, but not like human beings.

What To Do If You’re LGBTQ In Miami This Year

It can be difficult to make friends in the LGBTQ community without resorting to sketchy hookup apps like Grindr, but if you live in a big city there are always plenty of activities to keep you busy — so long as you know where to look. Here are a few of the biggest LGBTQ events hosted by Miami organizations over the summer and beyond.

  1. Brothers at Sea LGBT Cruise. This one is tailored to “brothers” i.e. African American members of our community. The cruise will last for seven days and have everything you’d expect, stopping in Cozumel, New Orleans, Jamaica, and the Cayman Island on either end of three sea days. It will even include a Halloween party! The cruise departs from New Orleans at 12 p.m. on October 27 and won’t get back until November 3.

  2. LGBT “Dinner and a Movie” in Downtown Hollywood. No, not that Hollywood. This event kicks off Saturday, August 3 from 8:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. at 121 N 20th Ave in Hollywood, Florida. Tickets will set you back $60, but thankfully you can bring your own booze!

  3. LGBTQ+/Transgender 101 Training. This free event will begin at 2:30 p.m. and end at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 1 at the West Regional Library located at 8601 West Broward Blvd. in plantation, Florida. Head to the multi-purpose room on the first floor to get a new perspective on gender spectrum, identity, and transgender individuals in particular.

  4. Setting The Table: Cultivating Pride All Year Long. This event will take place on Thursday, July 11 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Miami Ironside Campus. Tickets cost $35. The monthly event is meant to shed light on important facets of society, and this gathering will help continue to celebrate LGBTQ pride — because it extends way past June!

  5. Riptide’s Christmas in July Pool Party. Who doesn’t love a good pool party? Even if you’re hesitant to jump into anything with the word “party,” rest assured that this one is for a good cause. The “Christmas in July” pool party will help raise funds toward the 2019 Gay Softball World Series. Food and drink are included in the price of admission, which is set at a “suggested” $20 donation. This particular event is on Saturday, July 20 from 2-7 p.m. at 2129 Northeast 61st st Court in Fort Lauderdale.

Have you ever been arrested during an LGBTQ-themed rally or event? Are you in the midst of litigation you think was born out of hate? A lawyer at Valiente Law is available to look at your case so you can have the best possible defense.

Are LGBTQ Rights Weaker After Two Years Of A Trump Administration?

It’s impossible to watch another Pride Month slip by without asking ourselves where LGBTQ rights stand today. Although Trump ran his 2016 campaign as though he were a friend to LGBTQ individuals, it should be abundantly clear to all that it was nothing more than another of his countless lies. June 28 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots — and we will do our best to remember those who gave their lives to see the current LGBTQ movement grow so strong.

But not all is well, and there is still work to be done.

Significant strides began when Clinton drafted legislation to prohibit discrimination on the grounds or sexual orientation (in the government) and then went one step further to implement don’t ask don’t tell (although some believed it was just another way for people to discriminate). George W. Bush was largely silent on gay rights, but he openly opposed gay marriage. We saw the legalization of gay marriage under Obama. 

Once again a Republican in office has turned back the clock. Trump hasn’t made an proclamations to recognize June as Pride Month. Trump decided to draft legislation to kick trans folk out of the military. He’s even gone further than that by making it harder for LGBTQ individuals to afford health care or find safety in shelters. The administration has sought to both endorse those who harbor anti-LGBTQ sentiments and edit us out of government documents.

Even more damaging may have been the destruction of an Obama-era law by the Bureau of Prisons. In May last year the organization said that current inmates will be housed according to biological gender. Regard for personal identity no longer matters, which leaves these individuals less safe. Time and time again, Trump has altered old laws to reflect how they no longer extend to the LGBTQ community.

Some of these diminished freedoms were slashed because of the tired old “religious freedom” ideas that Trump seems to like so much. Basically all they do is allow the ultra-religious to discriminate legally.

Members of the LGBTQ community are among the most hated, even in 2019. We’re the most likely targets of hate crimes. This is true even considering the spike in violent crime against those of Muslim or Hispanic ethnic background beginning near the beginning of Trump’s campaign for the 2016 election. Violence against the LGBTQ community, especially transgender women, has risen substantially during the last two years of the Trump presidency. This isn’t a weird coincidence! We have a president who has quite literally been responsible for the deaths of ordinary, innocent American citizens — and half the country doesn’t seem to care at all. 

Yes, we still have far to go.

LGBTQ Representation At The Oscars

29.6 million viewers tuned in to see who would win what is considered by many the most coveted trophy in all of acting. While in years past, The Academy Awards has been reprimanded for not being diverse, but the 2019 Oscars were just the opposite. From the red carpet to the presenters, to the winners, members of the LGBTQ community were well represented.

Well before the program even started, heads were turning by the daring ensemble worn by Billy Porter. Billy Porter is best known for his role as the lead in Kinky Boots on Broadway. His tuxedo gown was designed by another gay icon Project Runway winner Christian Siriano. Everyone loved it – including Glenn Close. Also on the red carpet was Drag Queen Shangela from RuPaul’s Drag Race. She was in the movie A Star Is Born which was nominated for Best Picture.

When the show opened, openly gay singer and American Idol alum Adam Lambert rocked the stage with Queen. Originally, comedian Kevin Hart was supposed to host the show but stepped down when homophobic tweets from the past resurfaced online. To replace Kevin Hart with an openly gay man to open the show is a huge step for LGBTQ advocacy and representation. Presenters that also identify as LGBTQ included Tessa Thompson, Amandla Stenberg, Jose Ceja, and Sarah Paulson.

Lady Gaga, who identifies as bisexual, won for Best Song for the song “Shallow” that was featured in A Star Is Born. Her steamy rendition of the song with co-star Bradley Cooper made headlines as people speculated the two of them were together. Lady Gaga just recently broke up her engagement and has never appeared in public in a relationship with a woman, however, if she identifies as bisexual, we will take it as a win for the LGBTQ community.

Another aspect that should be noted are the roles that were up for nominations. Oscars in three of the four major categories went to actors who portrayed characters who were part of the LGBTQ community.

The three LGBTQ performances that won were Rami Malek, Best Actor for portraying Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody; Olivia Colman, Best Actress for playing Queen Anne, caught in a lesbian love triangle, in The Favourite; and Mahershala Ali, Best Supporting Actor for portraying Dr. Don Shirley in Green Book.

The fourth winner Regina King won for her non-LGBTQ role for her work in If Beale Street Could Talk, however, it should be noted that this film is an adaptation of a novel written be an LGBTQ writer James Baldwin.

While it is a shame that the three actors who won their Oscars are not LGBTQ, it’s nice to see that that Academy is recognizing gay characters as heroes.

It Might Be Time To Go On A Gay Cruise

Vacations can be a source of stress for many gay men and women, who might not know where to go or what to do. The usual vacation research becomes even more exasperating when you know you have to find out exactly what to expect from the local residents. Are they okay with your sexuality? Will they treat you like a human being? Are there local laws punishing homosexuality? These questions are something you don’t have to worry about when you embark on a gay cruise, and that’s why it might be time to go on one.

What are the benefits of a cruise? Basically, the same as any cruise.

First and foremost, you don’t have to worry about any additional travel planning. Booking a cruise is simple and easy, and all you’ll need in order to embark is your cruise-specific travel pass and a passport. Almost everything else will be handled quickly and efficiently at your port of departure. All in all, the process is less stressful and simpler than any trip you’ll plan for yourself. Plus, there’s no arguing where to go or what to do once your there. You get to “cruise your own cruise” without worrying about what anyone else is doing.

On top of that, it’s the most bang for your buck. Cruises are really inexpensive when compared to even other bargain vacations. Normally a hotel alone will turn out to cost you more than a cruise for the same amount of time. The latter offers you food, friends, the serenity of the ocean, service, and any number of fun activities to do both on and off the ship.

What are the benefits of a gay cruise?

If you’ve ever been on a cruise before, you’ll get more of what you’ve come to expect–plus the pleasure of knowing that there are potentially thousands of like-minded people who would probably like nothing more than to get to know you. If you’ve been to a gay pride event, then you know exactly how you’ll feel the second you board the ship. The energy will be palpable, and the people-watching alone could fill your time.

Naturally, you’ll encounter some bad behavior. It’s expected. Thankfully, you can avoid anyone partaking in these oh-so-scandalous activities if you so choose. You probably won’t encounter the rare instance of homophobia on or off the ship. And that’s the real reason we want to go on a gay cruise, isn’t it?

The Most Gay-Friendly Cities In The World

Traveling abroad can present a little extra headache if you’re out with a same-sex partner. Where do you go? What do you do? Will you be treated differently depending on where you explore? Not every country and culture is gay-friendly, but there are many cities where you can find healthy gay populations, a left-leaning political atmosphere, and more open-minded people than most. Here are the most gay-friendly cities in the world.

  1. London is a great place to start if you don’t want to experience too much culture shock. You won’t have trouble communicating with people no matter where you go, and the city is definitely different than you’re used to if you’ve been living in the U.S. all your life. The city is home to the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. You can check out Old Compton Street in SoHo, or wait until nightfall to bounce around.
  2. Amsterdam is a required item on this list. The city is one of the most tolerant places in the world when it comes to visitors, gay and straight alike. Tourism is the beating heart of Amsterdam, so you’ll find a place to have fun or relax wherever you go. The Canal Parade is the biggest gay pride even in the Netherlands, so try to time your trip right.
  3. Barcelona is a great place to visit if you travel to Spain. It’s a liberal bastion in which to spend your time among like-minded people from a different culture and with a different life experience from your own, and it wouldn’t hurt to learn more about the city’s history or its people. A unique 2014 law aims to prevent homophobia by forcing those who would do the community harm to prove their own innocence, instead of the other way around. Needless to say, it was a controversial law then, and still is today.
  4. Berlin has certainly had its share of historical peaks and troughs, but today there are few better places to be loud and proud anywhere in the world. The nightlife is as diverse as any you’ll find, and you won’t lack for things to do during the day either. If you’re traveling alone, you won’t have any trouble finding friends while you’re in the city.
  5. Tel Aviv is another good spot, and certainly the best you’ll find in the Middle East. To some, it represents the greatest mashup of gay culture in the world, and wherever you go you’ll find gay friends by your side. There’s no shortage of local events.

Gay Rights In Uganda (Or Lack Thereof)

Sometimes it’s important to remember that there are places in the world where human rights haven’t progressed much at all. Some believe that Uganda in Africa is one of the worst places in the world where you can grow up gay, and it’s not difficult to see why. There is a culture of hatred, disrespect, and disgust toward LGTBQ individuals that has seen little in the way of conflict resolution. These are the “rights” enjoyed by those in Uganda.

In 2014 Uganda’s government passed the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act. It was often referred to as the “Kill the Gays bill” by media outlets because the original version included a death penalty for those found to have violated the bill’s mandate. The new version poses a sentence of life imprisonment instead. Although the Anti-Homosexuality Act was quickly signed into law by Yoweri Museveni, the president (see his thoughts of LGBTQ below), it was ruled invalid by the Constitutional Court of Uganda.

One of the most heinous aspects of the proposed law is that it is written to apply to those living inside OR outside Uganda. Those who violate the provisions of the law who are not residents of Uganda may be extradited to the country to face punishment. The law continues to ensure that same-sex relationships–and marriage, of course–are illegal. There are additional penalties for those who would make it easier for homosexuals to engage in sexual activity with one another.

Activists have estimated that the LGBTQ community in Uganda may be upwards of 500,000 people. Those who are perceived to be gay are subject to violent assault or even murder. Both are commonplace in Uganda. In addition, media outlets are onboard. Some tabloids and newspapers have published lists of individuals who may be gay, spurring readers to take extreme action.

When the Rolling Stone newspaper (not to be confused with America’s Rolling Stone magazine) published personal information and called for the execution of about 100 individuals, the tabloid was precipitously sued by members of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, including David Kato, Kasha Jacqueline, and Pepe Julian Onziema. Although they won the lawsuit and the tabloid was forced to pay damages to the individuals in question, Kato was murdered not long after the victory.

 

Hong Kong Recognizes Same Sex Marriages On Spousal Visa Applications

The government in Hong Kong changed their policy regarding visa applications after a long legal battle from a case in July. A married British lesbian was denied a spousal visa to live in Hong Kong with her wife.

This new policy will consider applications from six different relationships including:

  1.  Same Sex Marriage
  2. Same Sex Civil Unions
  3. Same Sex Partnerships
  4. Opposite Sex Marriage
  5. Opposite Sex Civil Unions
  6. Opposite Sex Partnerships

The person must also meet all other immigration requirements.

It’s important to note that the government, in general, is not on board with same-sex marriage and unions. Currently, in Hong Kong, you cannot apply for a same-sex marriage or union and be legally married. So while policy change is good, there are more policies that need to be changed. Holden Chow Ho-ding, a legislator said, “the government should assure the public that the change did not mean Hong Kong would recognize same-sex marriage.”

While many LGBTQ activists are happy about the policy change, they feel that the government should consider other social policy changes including things like applying for housing. Or you know, start to be on the same level as the rest of the world and allow same-sex marriage.

Currently, there are 56 applications and 20 were successful while 33 of them are still pending. According to Navarrete & Schwartz, P.C., the department will begin to process outstanding visas and new visas that will start to come in. 

BEST OF FRENEMIES: REPUBLICANS CAITLYN JENNER AND DONALD TRUMP

President Donald Trump has been nothing if not a hurricane in his first 18 months in office.

He has attacked allies for not doing enough, sided with enemies because they claim to be working with the U.S. and they say nice things about him, and he criticizes members of his own Republic Party who don’t two the Trump party line. He even sides with Democrats on certain issues and butts heads with Republican leadership if they resist the policy.

In some ways, he has been a true maverick and independent, not going along with the traditional party platform in many ways, but some also praise him for being more conservative policy-wise than they originally thought.

Another maverick is Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner, perhaps the most famous transgender in the world these days. What makes Caitlyn a maverick is the affiliation with the Republican Party and being longtime friends with Trump – yet is on the opposite side of the administration because of transgender rights.

Jenner is a true unicorn – being a Republican and transgender. But Jenner is using that to advantage, lobbying for transgender rights as a GOP liaison in Washington. Caitlyn voted for Trump in the 2016 election but is now claiming to not be a fan of his – probably unless he relents on some of his transgender policies currently in place.

As a transgender, Jenner should be a Democrat, but there is room for growth and influence on the Republican side of the aisle, and the gravitas and celebrity status gives Jenner near carte blanche in Washington where both Democrats and Republicans will at least listen. Trump, so far, however, has not budged on any transgender policies that are deemed discriminatory.

Jenner showed some upset in February of last year when Trump announced that transgender guidelines for students in schools were being rescinded – the guidelines which allowed for transgender students to use the bathroom that matched their identity instead of their birth gender. For the last 18 months, Jenner has been on the opposite side of Trump after hearing Trump campaign on promises of protecting the LGBTQ community.

For those who are Never Trump on the GOP side, Jenner is a champion by working behind the scenes for transgender and lobbying against the policies of the sitting Republican president. As part of the Resistance, Jenner is a champion for transgender and is fighting for the same equal rights as every other demographic that claims victimhood in the Democratic Party.

In many ways, Jenner and Trump truly are the best of frenemies as they straddle the gulf between the two sides of the political aisle together, but with different motives.