Here we go again — more dark, depressing muck to dig through and find all the other stuff that happened around the LGBTQ world this week. Hopefully it’s not all terrible. Let’s find out:
Puerto Rico’s legislature passes an anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” law as huge swaths of the country remain without power. I guess we see where the government of Puerto Rico’s priorities are. As 35 percent of the US territory’s citizens remain without power, the Puerto Rican Senate passed PC 1018, the “Law For Protection of Religious Liberty in Puerto Rico,” and if I have to explain to you exactly what sort of discrimination this law legalizes, I have to wonder where you’ve been this year.
But OK, as of now it offers protection to government workers and contractors who deny service to people whose “activities” are against the religious beliefs of those workers. Between the recent streamlining of adoption rules in Puerto Rico, making it easier for same-sex and unmarried hetero couples to adopt, and the continued furor around same-sex marriages being legal, there are plenty of reasons the religious anti-LGBTQ types are looking for this sort of protection.
Thankfully, Governor Ricardo Rosselló has publicly stated that he will veto the bill when it reaches his desk. Previous versions of the bill offered these protections to private sector workers as well, and the Senate restricted its provisions to public employees in an effort to win the governor over. At a press conference earlier this week, though, the governor said he hadn’t seen “significant changes” and his plans with respect to the bill had not changed. Hopefully he’ll stay true to his word. But the fact that it comes down to one man to stop this bill from becoming law is concerning enough — I think we can all agree on that.
The Weeds divorce, apologize for trying to pretend gay people could have happy hetero marriages. Josh and Lolly Weed, who became famous for somewhat successfully having a Mormon marriage despite the fact that he is a gay man and she is a straight woman, have announced that they are getting a divorce. Not did the couple apologize for their divorce on their blog, but they also offer up an apology to the LGBTQ community as well.
Five years ago, the Weeds got a lot of attention due to a blog post in which Josh came out as a gay LDS member (it means Church of Latter-Day Saints and is how the Mormon church refers to itself) who remained faithful to not only his wife but his church and its values as well–meaning Josh chose to repress his sexuality and live as part of a married couple that, one can only assume, saw very little intimate time (though they did manage to have four kids,so…).
After the blog post, the Weeds were in high demand with various news outlets around the world who wanted to know how they chose to make their unconventional union work. Ultimately, though, the couple decided that it wasn’t actually working. They found it wasn’t enough to just get along and have a strong platonic bond. They also needed what everyone wants and deserves at the end of the day — romantic love.
“And that is what human beings need to be healthy. All of us. Romantic attachment. It’s one of the main purposes of life!” Lolly Weed wrote on the couple’s blog.
Lolly was also quick to defend her husband against anyone who hadn’t or wouldn’t had empathy and support for him on this decision. “When the tables are turned and we are talking about LGBTQ individuals, somehow people don’t see the parallels. Why am I, as a straight person, entitled to reciprocal, requited romantic love while an LGBTQ individual is not?” she wrote on their blog.
The couple also stated that despite the divorce they will remain a family, as close as ever. And, one would assume, a lot happier.
Moscow retracts recognition of gay marriage, brings couple up on charges. Earlier in January, Russian couple Yevgeny Voytsekhovsky and Pavel Stotzko wed in Copenhagen, Denmark, where gay marriage is legal. When they returned to their home country of Russia, they asked Russian officials to observe their marriage certificate. The official worker on duty stamped their passports without any questions and allowed them to carry on their way.
Now, here is where it gets kind of awkward. The couple is now facing charges in regards to the documentation, and their passports will be cancelled. Russia is notorious for its institutionalized homophobia. However, while they don’t recognize same-sex marriage, there is technically a loophole. Article 14 of their “Family Code” does prohibit marriage between close relatives and people who have already previously been married; however, same-sex marriages are not stated as a disqualification.
Moscow’s service center has officially denied ever endorsing the marriage and any information stating otherwise. “Employees of state service centers don’t stamp passports. Therefore, the information indicated in the news is false,” it said in an online statement.
Meanwhile, Russian media has also reported that the clerk and her supervisor will be fired. For something they apparently don’t actually do.
Further evidence in favor of the Undetectable = Untransmittable campaign from a top US doctor. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) recently spoke about the U=U campaign. U=U stands for Undetectable = Untransmittable, and is the name of a campaign intended to reduce the stigma of HIV and clarify the help medical treatment can offer for the disease. U = U basically means that if someone is HIV positive, but on medication, and has had an undetectable viral load for at least six months, they will not pass the virus on to their sexual partners.
“From a practical standpoint, the risk is zero, so don’t worry about it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with Josh Robbins for his I’m Still Josh blog. “How you live your life, from a practical standpoint is zero, with how you conduct yourself at work, how you do this, how you go to work, how you travel, how you have sex. You’ve to look at the practicalities. From a practical standpoint. What’s the risk? From a practical standpoint, the risk is zero,” he added.
The opinion of Dr. Fauci matters a great deal as someone who is currently the leading expert on the HIV epidemic. Because of this it was especially important to interviewer Josh Robbins to speak to him.
“Dr Fauci gave the most impressive crowning vindication that U=U is scientific fact and it was remarkable to hear a scientist explain from a practical standpoint that the risk is zero,” Robbins told Gay Star News. “This will be one of those phrases we all remember in the epidemic moving forward. You can’t get more clear than “don’t worry about it” from the leading immunologist in the world.”
In Alabama, a lesbian prom-posal has resulted in suspension. Apparently two students at Alexandria High School in Calhoun County, Alabama, were given in-school suspension after a public prom-posal that took place during a school talent show. Y’all know about prom-posals, right? It’s a big thing with the kids these days, treating a request for a prom date as the teenage version of the sort of big elaborate show some people make when proposing marriage. It’s a really big thing for some people, and that’s generally fine… at least when those people are hetero.
According to Alexandria High School senior Ashley Fadely, other prom-posals between heterosexual students that have occurred at the school resulted in no discipline. “If it was a male and a female student, nothing would have been done,” Fadely told AL.com. The incident itself took place during a school talent show, but while adminstrators called it a “disruption,” Fadely says nothing about it was disruptive.
Allegedly, the student who received the proposal was just finishing her talent show performance when the proposal happened. “It was right after her performance. No words were spoken by them. They just got happy, hugged and that was it,” said Fadely. The girl who initiated the prom-posal and a friend who helped her are the ones who received the suspension. The girl performing in the talent show wasn’t disciplined.
How depressing is this whole thing, though? I really thought we’d fought all these battles over same-sex prom attendance back in the 90s. I guess this goes to show how far we still have to go.
Words by Marilyn Drew Necci and Ash Griffith. Top photo via Twitter/NCRM