Poll: Gay men and older LGBTQ don’t want more stripes on Pride flag

NEW YORK — A recent poll done by Buzzfeed and Whitman Insight Strategies found that gay men and older members of the community were the most resistant to adding stripes to the Pride flag. From Buzzfeed:
The poll, taken by 880 LGBT adults from around the United States, found that 58% oppose the new stripes, while 42% support the change. The largest blocs of opposition were found among gay men and those over 50, with both groups opposing the additional colors 70% to 30%. White LGBT people oppose the change 62% to 38%. The research was conducted by Whitman Insight Strategies and BuzzFeed News as part of a larger LGBTQ survey on life, politics, and identity.

The right wastes no time in pushing for new Supreme Court justice

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate GOP and conservative groups have already started working on getting a new conservative justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Politico reported late Wednesday afternoon that Judicial Crisis Network was beginning a seven-figure campaign on national cable and digital platforms intended to boost Trump’s. The effort will launch on Thursday and is aimed at putting moderate Senate Democrats in a tough spot before the election, less than a day after Kennedy’s announcement. “President Trump has proven that he wants the best of the best on the Supreme Court. He appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch, a fair and independent justice, committed to the Constitution,” a narrator says in the ad.

Justice Kennedy to retire from SCOTUS

WASHINGTON — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced early Wednesday afternoon that he would retire, effective July 31. “It has been the greatest honor and privilege to serve our nation in the federal judiciary for 43 years, 30 of those years on the Supreme Court,” Kennedy, who is stepping down July 31, said in a statement received by the Washington Post. Kennedy was the swing vote in many cases including many LGBTQ rights decisions. From Vox:

In 1996’s Romer v. Evans, he authored the Court’s first major pro-gay rights decision, invoking the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause in striking down a Colorado state constitutional amendment that prevented cities and towns from adopting their own bans on discrimination against gays, lesbians, or bisexuals. Seven years later, in 2003’s Lawrence v. Texas, Kennedy wrote for a 6-3 court invalidating Texas’s ban on oral and anal sex between two men or two women.

SCOTUS grants appeal for florist who refused same-sex wedding

WASHINGTON — NBC OUT reported on Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court has the appeal of a florist who was fined after refusing to sell flowers to a gay couple for a wedding. From NBC OUT:
Monday’s action sends the florist’s case back to the Washington state courts “for further consideration in light” of the decision in the baker case, which offered little guidance on how to balance gay rights and religious freedom. “The Washington State Supreme Court now has the job of determining whether the U.S. Supreme Court ruling affects this case. I am confident they will come to the same conclusion they did in their previous, unanimous ruling upholding the civil rights of same-sex couples in our state,” Robert Ferguson, Washington’s attorney general, said Monday. Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, Washington, refused to provide flowers in 2013 for the wedding of two longtime customers, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, explaining that as a Southern Baptist, it would violate her religious beliefs and her “relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Texas GOP backs ‘conversion therapy,’ 23 other anti-LGBTQ issues

SAN ANTONIO — The Texas GOP approved an anti-LGBTQ platform at their state convention this past weekend in San Antonio. From Houston’s OutSmart Magazine:
Texas Republicans once again officially endorsed the dangerous, discredited practice of “ex-gay” therapy, including for “self-motivated” youth. They called on state officials to reject the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, and repeal Texas’ hate crimes law. The 2018 platform also calls for the repeal of local nondiscrimination ordinances that protect LGBTQ people, and states that businesses and their employees should have a license to discriminate based on their religious beliefs. The document opposes “all efforts to validate transgender identity,” and calls for banning trans military service, and requiring trans people to use restrooms in government buildings, including schools, based on the sex they were assigned at birth.

Lambda Legal, SPLC request DOJ documents on protection rollback for transgender people in prison

NEW YORK — On Friday, June 22, Lambda Legal and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) seeking all documents and communications connected to its decision to alter the Transgender Offender Manual, including communications with outside advocacy groups. The organizations said in a press release that the changes weaken protections for transgender people who are incarcerated – who are already 10 times more likely to be targeted for violence – and undercut compliance with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). “There is no reasonable justification for the changes the BOP made to the Transgender Offender Manual, especially as correctional facilities across the country have successfully housed transgender people consistent with their gender identity,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney and Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct Strategist Richard Saenz in the release. “Local, state, and federal facilities, including jails, prisons, re-entry programs, and juvenile systems, have a constitutional obligation to protect all people in custody. Yet again, the Trump-Pence Administration is turning its back on those most vulnerable, exposing transgender people in prison to harassment, abuse, and violence, as they have done in schools, workplaces, health care systems, and the military.”

“The rollback of protections for transgender people in the federal prison system has no penological basis,” said David Dinielli, deputy legal director for the SPLC. “Instead, it appears that the BOP may have acted at the behest of the Alliance Defending Freedom, an SPLC-designated anti-LGBT hate group that has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of transgender people abroad and has recommended use of the terms ‘cross-dressing’ and ‘sexually confused’ in place of the term transgender.”
The Transgender Offender Manual was issued in January 2017 after the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2014 that more than one in three transgender people in prison report experiencing sexual abuse by either staff or other inmates in the previous year – a rate nearly 10 times that of the general prison population.

Gay Pa. state rep ‘welcomes’ Pence to town

PHILADELPHA — Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims welcomed Vice-President Mike Pence to his city by flipping the bird on a recent Facebook post. From The Hill:
State Rep. Brian Sims (D), who represents Philadelphia and is the state’s first openly gay legislator, posted the photo on Facebook with a preface of “OFFICIAL WELCOME” ahead of Pence’s Tuesday visit to the city. “To be clear, we’re a City of soaring diversity. We believe in the power of all people to live and to contribute: Black, Brown, Queer, Trans, Atheist, Immigrant, we want you and we’ll respect you,” Sims wrote in the post. “So keep that in mind while you’re here raising money to attack more families, spread more lies, blaspheme with your bible, and maybe even talk to a woman without your wife in the room,” he continued.

OPINION: Masterpiece Cakeshop – It’s not great, but it’s not a disaster

This article was originally published on Peacock Panache, an LGBTQ news and opinion blog. In a 7-2 decision announced today, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop in a case about public accommodation and whether individual religious views should and can supersede a protected group’s right to free market equal access. The actual decision offered no opinion on LGBTQ civil rights, however. In the majority opinion, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the high court noted the case presents “difficult questions as to the proper reconciliation of at least two principles. The first is the authority of a State and its governmental entities to protect the rights and dignity of gay persons who are, or wish to be, married but who face discrimination when they seek goods or services.”

He added, “The second is the right of all persons to exercise fundamental freedoms under the First Amendment, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.”

While the decision is a narrow victory for the cake shop, it may also be a roadmap forward for progressive activists.

SCOTUS rules for baker in wedding cake case

Decision narrowly focused on specifics, does not set precedent on LGBTQ rights
WASHINGTON — On Monday, the US Supreme Court set aside a lower court ruling against a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. According to NBC Chicago, the court did not rule on whether or not businesses have the right to refuse service to gay and lesbians. From NBC Chicago:

The justices’ limited ruling Monday turns on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled against baker Jack Phillips. The justices voted 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Phillips’ rights under the First Amendment. Justice Anthony Kennedy says in his majority opinion that the issue “must await further elaboration.”