This week: trans military ban news, Roy Moore's still not conceding, a Russian Senator thinks LGBTQ rights are a fad, and more!
Marilyn Drew Necci | December 28, 2017
Here’s the debut edition of The Dive, a new weekly feature with which we hope to bring you all sorts of tidbits that might otherwise fall through the cracks. Let’s start with a big one:
The Pentagon has released a memo explaining the process for accepting transgender recruits. The Trump administration continues to try and find legal grounds for keeping its trans military ban alive — just before Christmas, a California District Court judge issued yet another injunction blocking the ban from being put into force, on the same day a DC Circuit Court judge denied a Justice Department request for a stay on enlistment of transgender recruits.
However, it seems the Pentagon has either admitted defeat or, depending on who you ask, gotten tired of fighting a battle they never wanted in the first place. A memo issued December 8, written by U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command head Capt. David Kemp, was made public by its inclusion in a court filing last week. The memo states that trans applicants will need to present a copy of their birth certificate, a passport, or a court order stating their correct gender as part of their application process.
Unfortunately, there’s still some weird stuff going on in this memo. Recruits who have had neither surgery or hormone therapy must wear underwear associated with their birth gender. Huh? As if this matters at all. Anyway, the vast majority of transgender people who’ve gone far enough to get a court order confirming their gender are going to have had either surgery or hormone therapy, if not both. So ultimately, it won’t matter for most. More disappointingly, the memo confirms that non-binary people will be forced to enlist under their birth gender, as the military still hasn’t figured out how to deal with people outside the conventional gender binary.
Still, it’s a sign of progress, right? At this rate, it looks as if the military will begin accepting trans recruits as scheduled, less than one week from today. There are sure to be further developments in this story soon; we’ll keep you posted.
Walmart has been sued for anti-trans discrimination by a former employee. Charlene Bost, who worked for Walmart subsidiary Sam’s Club for four years before being fired in 2015, has joined with the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) to file suit against Walmart for employment discrimination and harassment. Ms. Bost says she was called “it” by coworkers and was wrongfully fired in retaliation for her complaints about co-worker harassment. TLDEF claims that her treatment is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act.
TLDEF previously fought for the rights of Jessica Shyne Robison, a trans woman discriminated against at a Florida Sam’s Club location. In August, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in favor of TLDEF and Ms. Robinson, saying there is “reasonable cause to believe” Walmart discriminated against Robison according to Title VII. The EEOC is one thing, though, while a Federal lawsuit is quite another. If nothing else, this entire matter shows that Walmart may not be the greatest place to work if you’re in the LGBTQ community — not exactly a shocker.
— Daniel Reynolds (@dnlreynolds) December 21, 2017
Roy Moore and his supporters attack Doug Jones’ gay son online. Still refusing to concede despite having lost to Doug Jones by around 20,000 votes, defeated Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore continues to stoke the fires on social media, and managed to get his followers all in an uproar last week by sharing an Advocate article about Doug Jones’ son Carson, who is gay. The social media post itself contained no commentary — though, coming from a man who has publicly stated “homosexual conduct should be illegal,” it seems clear what the intent was. Commenters got all whipped up into a vitriolic hatred, saying things like “Shame they slander a great Alabamian Judge Moore and then the sick left winner shows its perversion” before the post was deleted. Conclusion, which we pretty much already knew: we really dodged a bullet with this guy.
A small Tennessee town tried to re-ban gay marriage. On December 21, in Hamblen County, Tennessee, the county commission voted on a resolution condemning same-sex marriage and asking Tennessee to make it illegal, in defiance of the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that equal marriage rights were protected by the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The resolution was sponsored by a group called the Patriot’s Brigade, who, according to their website, want to “restore that which our Creator gave us through our founding fathers: a Christian form of government.” Oh lordy me. Over 100 people gathered at the commission meeting, with over 20 speaking about it during the comment period before the vote was taken. In the end, the vote went against the resolution, but by the narrowest possible margin: 5 against, 4 in favor, 4 abstaining. It just goes to show, y’all — the fight ain’t over.
The US has sanctioned two Chechen government officials for the Russian republic’s anti-gay crackdown. Things have been pretty messed up in Chechnya — a semi-autonomous Russian republic — for a while now. Over 100 men either known or perceived to be gay have been arrested so far this year, and word is that lesbians and trans people are now being arrested as well. Chechnya’s President, Ramzan Kadyrov, along with Internal Affairs Ministry official Ayub Kataev, have both been sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act, which freezes their assets and bans them from entering the US due to their human rights abuses. Kadyrov has called reports of the crackdown “nonsense,” on the ridiculous basis that there aren’t any gay people in Chechnya.
Meanwhile, Movsar Eskarkhanov, a Chechnyan man who spoke to Time magazine earlier this year about the persecutions he’s endured in his home state, recently went public with revelations that he was forced to recant his comments to Time on Chechnyan TV by threats made against his family. This is apparently just one of several similar incidents that have occurred in Chechnya this year. Kadyrov is a close ally of Vladimir Putin’s, by the way, because of course he is. And speaking of Russian creeps with stone-age views…
A Russian Senator calls “the rights of sexual minorities” a “Western fad.” This one really takes the cake. Senator Sergei Kalashnikov (that really is his name, I promise I did not make that up) argued against a bill to ban cruelty against animals used to train hunting dogs and birds. “We treat many western fads with humor, including political correctness, the rights of sexual minorities and others,” Kalashnikov said on the Senate floor. “Any thought, however humanitarian, becomes absurd when carried to its logical conclusion. We’re not only passing a law that won’t work for many reasons, but we’re also demonstrating that we’re following the same path, so to speak, of defending the rights of sexual minorities.” One of those in favor of the bill responded in shock that Kalashnikov would place dogs on the same lowly level as LGBTQ people. Yeesh.
The President of Ghana said homosexuality might be decriminalized in Ghana someday and the whole country freaked out. Listen, this country isn’t perfect, but really, when you compare this story to the Tennessee story above, you should see how good we have it here in the US. Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Ghana’s President, Nana Akfu-Addo, talked about the possibility that social attitudes in Ghana might change over time and lead to homosexuality not being seen as a crime. “I grew up in England at the time that homosexuality was banned there,” he said. “It was illegal and… British politicians thought it was an item not to even think about. But suddenly [by] the activities of individuals and groups, a certain awareness, a certain development grew and grew stronger and it forced a change in law. I believe that those are the same processes that will bring about changes in our situation.”
The ridiculous responses he got would be funny if they weren’t about something so serious, with such high stakes. “He recklessly landed our God-fearing country into the hands of the sausage jockeys,” said Hassan Ayariga, the founder of the All People’s Congress political party. “We will remind the president that his self-acclaimed human right activism does not extend to abnormal human rights! If his father had been a homosexual, he the president would not have been born to fight for back door bandits calling themselves human beings who do not know what normal human beings do.” “Sausage jockeys.” “Back door bandits.” Who are these people?
Anyway, let’s get back to the US and wrap this up by talking about one of my personal favorite punching bags…
LOL @ Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo’s in the process of suing Simon & Shuster for cancelling his book deal after they found out he’s basically a white nationalist. Sarah Mei, a software engineer and the owner of a Verified twitter account (so you know she’s hot stuff), tracked down a copy of the manuscript and found editor’s notes attached. She started posting some of the notes to twitter and they are a scream. Here are a few of my faves to close out the column. See y’all next week!
Top photo via Seattle Gay News.