Friday News Bites: Next in LGBTQ Equality, Who is Burning Black Churches + More

Greetings, Persephoneers. My deadline didn’t quite catch the amazing news last Friday that the US Supreme Court declared marriage equality to be the law of the land, but with the whole of the Internet exploding in rainbows and discussion, let’s move on to what’s next in the fight for LGBTQ equality:

If you want to know who to thank for this monumental court case, take a minute to learn about Jim Obergefell. Obergefell’s partner of 21 years, John Arthur, died of complications from ALS while they were fighting for their home state to recognize the validity of their marriage, and for the state to recognize Obergefell on Arthur’s death certificate.

Here’s a roundup of the many nondiscrimination laws that still need to go into effect nationwide. It’s still legal to fire someone for being gay in 28 states, for instance.

I hope you’ve already watched this because it’s amazing, but just in case you haven’t, here’s John Oliver explaining how we need to do better by transgender people:

That’s the Transgender Pride flag pictured there, by the way. People know of the rainbow Pride flag, but there are a host of other flags and symbols.

Speaking of that rainbow flag, you adding that filter to your Facebook profile is probably being used as a data experiment, but I hope you know that everything you do on Facebook is one big data experiment.

And speaking of flags, I’m still laughing at the CNN reporter who mistook this sex toy flag as a real ISIS flag.

The Texas attorney general is claiming that it’s A-OK for clerks to refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Not upholding the law is probably against your oath of office, dude.

It’s unfortunately not a giant love-fest out there, post-marriage ruling: Hate crimes against LGBTQ people increased in some areas after the news was announced.

In better LGBTQ news:

The Girl Scouts of Western Washington returned $100,000 to a donor who said that they didn’t want the money being used for trans girls. The Girl Scouts responded: “Girl Scouts is for every girl. And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.”

They’ve since started an IndieGoGo campaign and have already raised over $300,000.

A New Jersey jury ruled that LGBTQ “conversion therapy” violates the Consumer Fraud Act. Unfortuantely, there are still plenty of other therapists who believe that this is a real thing they should do.

Dana Scully: Rainbow Eye Roll
Here’s Scully summing up my feelings on this type of “therapy.” (via)

The Episcopal Church has voted to allow same-sex weddings inside their churches. Clergy can still decline to perform the ceremony, but it’s not outright banned by the church.

Who is burning black churches?

Six predominantly black churches have been on fire in the past week, with only three so far being ruled as arson. No suspects have been apprehended.

It took awhile for larger media outlets to even cover these fires (but we remember the Baltimore CVS being all over the news…), leading people on Twitter to start the hashtag #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches.

Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal) in St. Louis has started a donation fund for these churches, if you were looking for a way to help.

It doesn’t seem like much of a coincidence that these fires (all in the South) occurred after the shootings in Charleston, and the subsequent backlash against the Confederate Flag. (PS: Bree Newsome is a hero, y’all.)

On a related note: Even NASCAR is asking fans not to wave the Confederate flag during races.

In Other News:

Despite having a Congress actively working against him at every turn, looks like Barack Obama may be one of the most consequential Presidents ever.

He’s also reached the “Fuck it” — or as he says, “rhymes with bucket” — stage of his second term where he’s just gonna do what he wants.

Are you confused by this whole Greece solvency story? Here’s a handy doc that explains the situation pretty well.

Someone decided to set up an IndieGoGo campaign for the country. The needed Euro amount is so high that it’s not even 1% funded yet with over €1 million donated so far.

Here’s some potential justice in the Duggar case: A non-family member who was molested by Josh Duggar is bringing a civil suit against him. Because the statute of limitations has expired, neither Duggar nor his parents can plead the Fifth.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling (in a 5–4 decision) that the drug midazolam can continue to be used for lethal injection, Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion called the use of the drug akin to someone being “burned at the stake.”

The court also ruled that Texas abortion clinics can stay open, while proponents for the state’s strict laws have a chance to appeal. The decision was 5-4, and guess what? All the women voted to keep the clinics open. Funny, that.

Another decision at the end of the current SCOTUS term:

The Supreme Court voted Monday that the EPA cannot stop power plants from releasing hazardous chemicals without first proving that the clean air is worth more than the companies would have to spend to stop polluting. […] The case has been remanded back to the lower court for a new accounting of costs.

This is why voting is important, people. Presidents pick Supreme Court Justices, who are there for life. You think Mitt Romney would have picked Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan?

Speaking of the importance of voting: California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law that requires almost all children attending public or private school to be fully vaccinated. Now only California, Mississippi, and West Virginia permit only medical exemptions as legitimate reasons to sidestep vaccinations.

Here are the celebrities who apparently anti-vaxxers. -sigh-

(By the way, we just had our first US measles death in twelve years. The concept of herd immunity is a real thing, people!)

Oregon will soon allow residents to carry up to an ounce of pot and grow up to four plants in their home. Minnesota has now also legalized medical marijuana, but it will only be in the form of a vial of pills or THC-infused oils.


Cuba has become the first nation to stop mother-to-child HIV transmission. Huzzah!

Here’s a great profile of “The Real Cosima” from Orphan Black, Cosima Herter, who works as the science consultant for the show.

A+ headline from The Telegraph: “Leap second: French time lords add one second to 2015.”

In a study with almost 1.2 million Swedish patients, researchers have discovered that writers “have more than double the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder compared to a control group of accountants. Writers also faced a greater risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.”

-whistles innocently-

In Montana, bees are being “washed and fluffed” for research purposes.



In Japan, Tama the cat stationmaster died at age 16. Company officials set up a memorial for her at the Kishi station.

Sir Nicholas Winton, known for saving 669 children from the Holocaust, died this week at age 106.

Chris Squire, co-founder of the band Yes, died from leukemia last Saturday. He was 67.

Patrick Macnee, best known for his role on the TV show The Avengers, died last Thursday at age 93.

In Entertainment:

Someone thought #AskELJames would be a good idea. The results were amusingly predictable.

Misty Copeland has been named the American Ballet Theatre’s Principal Dancer, making her the first black female to receive the honor. [auto-playing video]

Sonia Manzano, who has played Maria on Sesame Street for the past 44 years, announced her retirement this week. Here’s one of her classic videos:

See you next week, friends.

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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