Tag: major

Kamala Harris’ swearing-in could open up a major opportunity for LGBT+ representation in the US Senate

Kamala Harris will give up her Senate seat in January

With Kamala Harris set to become vice president, there could be a vital opportunity to bolster LGBT+ representation in the US Senate.

Harris has represented California in the United States Senate since 2016, but is set to give up her seat in the chamber on January 20 as she assumes office as Joe Biden’s second-in-command.

Under the rules of the chamber, it will be up to Governor of California Gavin Newsom to appoint an interim senator to fill the seat temporarily, serving until a special election can be held to elect a full-time replacement for Kamala Harris.

LGBT+ campaigners have called on Newsom to use the opportunity to bolster  queer representation in the Senate, which has only ever had two out LGBT+ members, Senators Tammy Baldwin and Kyrsten Sinema.

Replacement of Kamala Harris could bolster LGBT+ representation in the US Senate

LGBTQ Victory Fund, which works to bolster LGBT+ representation in politics, has suggested that Newsom could appoint either California state senate president Toni Atkins or Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia, two of the state’s most accomplished LGBT+ leaders, to serve in the seat.

Annise Parker of Victory Fund said: “Governor Newsom is one of the strongest allies we have in elected office and consistently shows courage in his efforts to advance equality, so we are hopeful he will add to his legacy with an LGBTQ appointment.

“Both Senator Atkins and Mayor Garcia represent communities too often denied political power – including women, immigrants and people of colour – furthering the impact their appointment would make.”

Kamala Harris could see her Senate seat filled by an LGBT+ person
Gavin Newsom could appoint either California state senate president pro tempore Toni Atkins or Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia, the group says

Parker continued: “Not just in California but across the country, the LGBTQ community would celebrate an LGBTQ leader taking the position and we will stand by them with resources and support to ensure they succeed.

“We hold immense pride in the leadership of our current LGBTQ US Senators and would be eager to rally behind an LGBTQ US Senator from the largest state in the nation.”

Senate will play a pivotal role in Biden years

The Senate is primed to play an outsized role in US politics during the early years of the Biden administration, with a nail-biting double election in Georgia set for January set to decide control of the chamber.

The best-case scenario for Biden would result in a 50-50 split in the chamber that would require his policy measures to attract support from every single Democratic senator.

If Republicans win the Georgia seats, however, they will maintain control of the chamber and could effectively block much of the president’s agenda, which could spell peril for Biden’s ability to deliver on key promises, including on LGBT+ rights.

Pope Francis endorses same-sex civil unions in’ major step forward’

Pope Francis holds his speech during an International Prayer Meeting for Peace

Pope Francis holds his speech during an International Prayer Meeting for Peace (Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

Pope Francis has given his backing to same-sex civil unions for the first time, in a major break from Catholic teachings.

The 83-year-old leader gave the nod to gay unions in an interview for the documentary Francesco, which premiered at the Rome Film Festival on Wednesday (October 21).

The pontiff said: “Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”

He added: “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”

The comments are a significant break from his own past comments as well as the position of the church, which has long deployed its lobbying influence to oppose any legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

Pope Francis has previously opposed same-sex civil unions and adoption.

As noted by the Catholic News Agency, in his 2013 book On Heaven and Earth Pope Francis condemned laws “assimilating” homosexual relationships to marriage as “an anthropological regression”.

 He also warned that same-sex couples gaining the right to form unions and adopt could “affect children”, insisting: “Every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help them shape their identity.”

Catholic opposition led to repeated defeats over a civil union law in Italy, before a watered-down version was finally approved in 2016 in the face of continued opposition from the church.

As the bill was discussed in 2014, high-ranking cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, claimed: “It is irresponsible to weaken the family by creating new forms of unions… it only confuses people and has the effect of being a sort of Trojan horse, undermining culturally and socially the core of humanity.”

Pope Francis arrives to lead his weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican on October 21, 2020.
Pope Francis arrives to lead his weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican on October 21, 2020. (VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)

In 2003, under Pope John Paul II, the Vatican warned: “Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity.”

While Pope Francis has a track record of public comments in support of LGBT+ people’s individual freedoms, critics say he has done little on paper to end the church’s discriminatory practises and lobbying in opposition to equal rights.

There are still countless cases of Catholic schools firing teachers for being gay, and Catholic adoption agencies have fought for the right to exclude same-sex parents. Bishops have also led the defence of conversion therapy practises, which pro-LGBT+ voices in the church say is still commonplace in Catholicism.

Pope Francis’ comments on same-sex civil unions hailed as a ‘major step forward’.

Responding to his the remarks, the pro-LGBT+ Jesuit priest Rev. James Martin said they were a “a major step forward in the church’s support for LGBT people.”

He said: “The Pope’s speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws.”

Director Evgeny Afineevsky received considerable access for the film Francesco, part of which addresses the leader’s outreach to LGBT+ people.

The film recounts the story of two gay Italian men who say the leader encouraged them to raise their children with the Pope.

“He didn’t mention what was his opinion on my family. Probably he’s following the doctrine on this point,” one of the men said.

Pope Francis has had a chequered history with the LGBT+ community.

In 2013, he made global headlines when he called on the Catholic church to “show mercy, not condemnation” to gay people – representing a stark shift in tone from his predecessors.

But in 2019, he told a Spanish newspaper that parents who see signs of homosexuality in their children should “consult a professional” – a comment that was considered by many to endorse conversion therapy.

Meanwhile, he has been staunch in his opposition to trans identities, comparing them to nuclear war and genetic manipulation in 2015.

In 2019, the Vatican released a document claiming that “gender ideology” is a “move away from nature”.

Major League Baseball manages full season without a gay slur on the field

Major League Baseball manages full season without a gay slur

The New York Yankees high-five each other after winning 6-3 against the Philadelphia Phillies on August 3, 2020 (Sarah Stier/Getty)

For the first time in four years, a season of Major League Baseball has passed without a single homophobic slur being uttered on the field.

The 2020 season ended on Sunday after coronavirus shortened it to 60 games, and all players managed to make it through without any recorded, on-field anti-gay controversies.

However, although it ended on a high note, the season wasn’t totally devoid of anti-gay sentiment.

Unfortunately the Cincinnati Reds’ game against the Kansas City Royals was marred by Fox Sports announcer Thom Brennaman using a homophobic slur live on air while he thought his mic was turned off.

Viewers were horrified to hear the veteran commentator referring to Kansas City as “one of the fag capitals of the world”. His on-air plea for forgiveness fell short of the mark as he broke off midway to comment on the baseball game in front of him.

Brennaman later issued a second apology, claiming he was unaware of the history of “hate and prejudice” the slur is rooted in, but Fox moved to suspend him after 30 years of commentating.

Sadly it was far from the first time the word was heard on the pitch.

The long history of homophobia in Major League Baseball is often blamed for the fact that only two players have ever come out as LGBT+, with no current players identifying as queer.

According to Ginny Searle of Baseball Prospectus, anti-gay slurs are “something of an annual occurrence” in Major League Baseball.

She told NPR’s Leila Fadel that although many teams engage in LGBT+ campaigns like Pride nights, in reality they don’t go far enough.

“I don’t know that you would qualify them as substantial enough to be a complete affirmation of the LGBT+ community,” she said.

“[It doesn’t] give certainties that on every instance – not just the broadcast booth, in the stands, the locker rooms, everywhere – the LGBT+ community is respected and not simply allowed, but welcomed as a substantial part of the community.”

But for Sean Doolittle, a Washington Nationals player and long LGBT+ ally, there is hope. He told Outsports that the fierce reactions to Brennaman’s slur indicated a fundamental shift in attitudes.

“My experience as a player, I really think is changing,” he said. “The outrage response is evidence it is changing.”

He recalled an incident at a game last year when a fan repeatedly called him a “fag” as he was warming up in the bullpen. The homophobe was immediately confronted by Dolittle’s teammates, who called security and had him ejected from the stadium.

“They knew, even as far as a fan heckling, there is no room for that in our game at the ballpark,” Doolittle said. “I thought that was awesome.”

Florida student regains bathroom access in major win for transgender rights

Florida student regains bathroom access in major win for transgender

A federal appeals court delivered a major victory in transgender rights by ruling a Florida high school violated the law by refusing to allow transgender student Andrew Cody Adams to use the restroom consistent with his gender identity.

The decision relies heavily on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment is a form of unlawful sex discrimination.

Adams, now 19 and a former student at Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Fla., said in a statement he’s “very happy to see justice prevail, after spending almost my entire high school career fighting for equal treatment.”

“High school is hard enough without having your school separate you from your peers and mark you as inferior,” Adams said. “I hope this decision helps save other transgender students from having to go through that painful and humiliating experience.”

Tara Borelli, counsel at the LGBTQ legal group Lambda Legal, which represents Adams, said in a statement the court “sent a clear message that schools must treat transgender students with the same dignity and respect as any other student.”

“The trial court was correct when it ruled that the law requires that Drew Adams be treated like every other boy and be allowed to use the boys’ restroom,” Borelli said. “We are glad the court saw the school board’s policy as unjust and discriminatory, and affirmed the inherent dignity of transgender students.”

via Washington Blade

Deadly Premonition 2’s ‘hurtful’ deadnaming sequence patched out of game – but there are still major problems

Deadly Premonition 2 has come under fire for its handling of a trans character

The creator of Nintendo Switch game Deadly Premonition 2 has removed some of the game’s transphobic content after fierce backlash from fans.

The open-world mystery thriller game came under fire over its treatment of a trans character when it was released earlier this month.

The character, Lena, was repeatedly misgendered and referred to using her deadname by characters including the protagonist throughout the story.

Last week, the game’s Japanese developer Hidetaka Suehirom, also known as Swery, issued an apology and promised to remove the transphobic material.

Some of the dead naming has been removed from Deadly Premonition 2, but problems persist.

Swery confirmed on Twitter yesterday (21 July) that the game had been updated in a statement translated into English through Google Translate.

In his statement, the developer said they had released the first patch of the game.

“The scenario where the problem occurred has been fixed. I didn’t change the important point of the story of this work, and I was able to make changes only where I wanted to make corrections.

“Therefore, I am confident that fans who were worried that ‘this fix may change the essence of the game’ will be reassured.”

He said they had also fixed bugs and flitches and promised to “gradually improve” other issues with the frame rate.

I didn’t change the important point of the story of this work, and I was able to make changes only where I wanted to make corrections.

“I would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has contributed to urgent patching and to the fans who support Deadly Premonition. I love you all!”

A fan of the game confirmed on Reddit that the game had been updated.

“All the dead naming and misgendering got cleaned up from York’s end by removing or editing lines though in the latter case they’re not voiced,” they wrote.

“Kinda awkwardly handled but a future patch might smooth them out. Nice to see it addressed this quick regardless.”

A number of issues have not been addressed.

However, journalist Laura Kate Dale said in a Twitter thread that she did not believe all the transphobic content could have been removed in just six days.

“Six days does NOT seem long enough to get consultants to consult, rewrite all impacted scenes, AND MOST OF ALL get all voice actors back to rerecord their lines,” she said.

Dale later confirmed that the cis male voice actor who played the trans woman has not been recast or rerecorded.

Furthermore, a comment about the trans woman not being a “normal woman” is still in the game.

Dale said the scene where York deadnames Lena had been “awkwardly” cut out – but Lena goes on to mention her own deadname a moment later, “now totally unprompted.”

“Yeah, so the game still features examples of Lena being referred to by the wrong gender inconsistently. Sometimes when referencing times we know she was out as trans,” Dale added.

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