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  1. And another article following up on the incident: SF Gay Men’s Chorus Video Unleashes Torrent of Right-Wing Threats, Vitriol 8 July 2021 The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus released a magnificently funny video last week, but a barrage of threats and doxxing has forced them to change their key. We’d like to show you an extremely amusing, uplifting, and clever video recently posted by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. But we’re not sure if we can. It may or may not still appear below, as the Youtube version has been set to private. And amidst a 36-hour onslaught of threats, doxxing, and online right-wing mob harassment, the chorus is removing unauthorized versions of the video as quickly as they can. We’re not even sure if the version below is authorized, but… this a very funny satirical video that deserves to be watched umpteen times. The ditty is called “A Message From the Gay Community,” and it’s a clever victory anthem about the gradual normalization of gay culture among the youth of America (“even grandma likes Rupaul / And the world's getting kinder / Gen Z's gayer than Grindr”). The wingnut furor has focused entirely on two lyrics — “We'll convert your children” and “We're coming for your children” — which the QAnon set assumes is an open declaration of sexually exploitating minors. But a full listen to the track (lyrics here) makes it clear to any reasonable listener that the choir is talking about winning hearts and minds by being funnier, more likable, and better dressed (“Your children will care about / Fairness and justice for others / Your children will work to convert / All their sisters and brothers”). Yet in the mind of a frothing Trumper, the word “convert” can only mean “have sex with” if spoken by a gay man. And because we live in the QAnon era, the chorus' leadership tells SFist they've gotten death threats in the last 36 hours. "We have received emails, phone messages, threats across all of our social media platforms — not just the chorus, but the staff, as well as the soloists who were featured in the song," SF Gay Men's Chorus executive director Chris Verdugo told SFist Thursday. "The [Youtube] comment that continues to stick out in my head is the one that said 'We're going to put lead in your head.'" "Someone on Twitter took a screenshot of the singing members of the chorus and created a speadsheet and was starting to identify them," he added. "Some of our members' jobs were contacted saying, 'Do you know you have a pedophile working for you?' or things of that nature. Singers on their social media have been getting threats. It's been a harrowing 36 hours." "The leadership team met yesterday evening and we decided to close the office and out of an abundance of caution, send eveyone home," Verdugo said. Bottom-feeding websites you’re better off not clicking on are having a field day with this; Pajamas Media fumed that “the people who want to convert your children to their lifestyle and way of thinking don’t even bother to hide it anymore.” Breitbart notes in their complaint that “In June, the choir similarly went viral for creepy political propaganda — a brief clip barking commands to receive a coronavirus vaccine, simply titled ‘Vaccinate!’” (That song is set to the tune of Three Dog Night’s “Celebrate,” and would only be “creepy political propaganda” to someone who’s amped up on too much hydroxychloroquine.) The chorus posted a statement early Thursday. “The far-right conservative media found our ‘Message…’ video and have taken it as their cause,” the statement says. “This has all happened in the last 24 hours and it continues to pick up steam. They have taken the lyrics out of context to support a narrative that suits their intolerant and hateful needs. It is obvious the tongue-in-cheek humor is lost on many. As a result, we have seen the user comments on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram become increasingly alarming. Emails to individuals and the chorus office are vitriolic — including threats of harm.” “We feel the first action we must take to keep everyone involved with the chorus and the making of this video safe is to turn the video to private. We are communicating with law-enforcement both locally and nationally,” the statement continues. What they do not acknowledge is the troubling nature of some of this harassment. SFist will not link the post, but some joker has more than a thousand quote-tweets claiming that many members of the chorus are registered sex offenders. We won't name these individuals' names, as these choralists are surely living through hell right now. But we checked the Megan’s Law database, and each of these were mere “similar name” deals citing offenders who are registered hundreds of miles away from San Francisco, and the offender’s photos do not even remotely match the appearance of the choir member. The trolls harassing the chorus members are the same trolls who’ve never said a word about Matt Gaetz’ trafficking of a minor issues, nor former Republican House speaker Denny Hastert’s serial molestation charges, nor the widespread abuses of the Boy Scouts of America or the Catholic Church. But this 42-year-old, first openly gay chorus in the U.S. has faced violent threats before, and homophobic bullying has never changed their tenor. "For us, it's not only about the artistic product that we put out, but also about our being activists," Verdugo told SFist. "Social justice is a mantle we take up, and we take it up loudly. We won't back down."
  2. SF Gay Men's Chorus receives death threats after InfoWars article by John Ferrannini Assistant Editor Thursday Jul 8, 2021 The offices of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, housed at its National LGBTQ Arts Center in San Francisco, closed out of an "abundance of caution" following harsh criticism of its video by InfoWars, a right-wing site run by Alex Jones. Photo: Jeff Zaruba The office of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus is closed "out of an abundance of caution" after members started receiving a barrage of negative messages, including death threats, in response to a mischaracterization of a song the group posted to YouTube, its executive director said Thursday. Chris Verdugo, a gay man who is the executive director of the chorus, told the Bay Area Reporter July 8 that the website InfoWars — run by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — called the song "A Message from the Gay Community" "pedophilic" in an online article July 7. That apparently unleashed the vitriol. "The threat that stuck in my head," Verdugo said of the harassing messages he fielded, "was, 'We're gonna put lead in your head.' That was quite frightening." The chorus posted its video to YouTube last week. Verdugo said that the song includes the words "we're coming for your children" to evoke long-standing fears that gay men will convert children to homosexuality, for the purpose of exposing those fears. The real conversion gay men are interested in, Verdugo said, is teaching others to be "tolerant and fair." That message was lost on, or deliberately misrepresented by, InfoWars, Verdugo said. "The song is tongue-in-cheek, satirical, and I'd say nuanced except it's not even that," Verdugo said. "Since Anita Bryant, there's been people who think there is a gay agenda; that pedophiles will convert children to become homosexuals. That's not true, but we do have a gay agenda — teaching children to be tolerant and fair. "Yeah, we're going to convert them to be tolerant, kind, justice-seeking people," Verdugo said. Anita Bryant, of course, is the anti-gay activist who in the 1970s ran the Save Our Children campaign to overturn equal protection laws nationwide. Bryant served as brand ambassador for the Florida Citrus Commission from 1969 to 1980. In 1977, during her successful campaign to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance in Dade County, Florida, the gay community retaliated by organizing a boycott of orange juice. Bryant once stated "As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children." Verdugo said that members of the chorus and administration have been inundated with phone calls and messages, which "span the gamut from just people being hateful, which we're accustomed to, to people saying we should be killed, and more references to Hitler and the Nazis than I have ever seen in my life." Verdugo said that the office, housed in the chorus' National LGBTQ Center for the Arts, will be closed until further notice. An investigator from the San Francisco Police Department is working on the case, he added, and the chorus has been in touch with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's San Francisco field office. The field office acknowledged that the incident was reported to it. "I can confirm that this incident was reported to law enforcement, including the FBI," the FBI San Francisco media team stated in an email. "We will be unable to comment further." The SFPD has been unable to confirm or deny that investigations into the death threats are taking place as of press time. As the B.A.R. previously reported, GLAAD found that LGBTQs face more online hate and harassment than any minority group. Some of this is fueled by false equivalencies between homosexuality and pedophilia, as GLAAD found in a March study. As the B.A.R. reported last year, gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) was the subject of death threats for introducing a bill that InfoWars falsely stated would "decriminalize adult men having sex with boys." Wiener's bill, which is now law, did not change criminal statutes. It allowed judges the option to not include on the state's sex offender registry those over the age of 18 who have been convicted of oral or **** intercourse with someone between the ages of 14 and 17, provided that the individual so convicted is within 10 years of age of their consensual sexual partner. This year, Wiener is aiming to secure $1.7 million in the state's budget for the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus's National LGBTQ Center for the Arts on Valencia Street. The funds would be used for a new air circulation and filtration system; Governor Gavin Newsom still needs to sign off on the final budget.
  3. Meant to share this earlier, but had to find it:
  4. You seem to be implying that there are only two options--either allow all women to have access OR lose any/all safe spaces. That seems to be a false dilemma, to me. Most (and an increasing number of) venues today (from gyms to schools to stores to rec centers to government buildings) now have private single-use restrooms, private changing rooms, private showers, etc. Single use bathrooms and such spaces are great options for those not wanting to use a shared space whether because of disability, body concerns, past trauma, etc. I’m not sure it has to be an either/or here…
  5. As an American born overseas due to the military, I was raised in Europe, where many places had genderless bathrooms and even locker rooms where families of all ages would often get changed and be fully exposed both in locker rooms and common showers. Most women were usually topless and often some men and women were naked at the beaches. We even had an annual church event that consisted of our LDS Mutual youth group and leadership spending a full day kayaking down a river until we reached the end, where there was a spacious shared locker room where entire families would get naked and shower tougher. As youth, we would huddle in the showers, grateful for their warmth after hours in the cold river. No one ever really even noticed the male and female genitalia around is… And as an annual Mutual event throughout my teen years, it didn’t deter our adult leaders from returning to the same venue. Culturally-speaking Europeans don’t have the hang ups over nudity that Americans do, and I'm often puzzled by it, myself. I wonder if there any studies comparing cultures where nudity and shared gendered spaces are more dangerous for victims of sexual assault....? I may go look that up...
  6. There certainly IS a documented history of alleged bathroom sexual predator fears and objections being raised in opposition to the advancement of equal civil rights and especially equal accessibility and recognition based on religion, race, sex, and sexual orientation that is now being applied to gender identity.... I recall being mortified after learning how early memebrs of the LDS Faith were viewed with distain, fear, and hatred and enured severe persecution, expulsion, and even death based on their religious belief and practice of polygamy, which itself generated ongoing vigorous claims and fear-mongering of sexual preditation of girls and women by and from Mormon men being levied at any/everyone from generalized members to its highest leaders. We certainly seem to often fear what is new, unknown, and perceived as different or other.
  7. Andrew Stoddard: My LDS faith leads me to support the Equality Act By Andrew Stoddard | Special to The Salt Lake Tribune | June 30, 2021, 1:00 p.m. We are all a part of a heavenly family and our Heavenly Parents love us all equally. This year, for the first time, we raised a rainbow flag at our home in honor of Pride Month. It prompted good discussions with my older kids about what the flag stands for and why we are displaying it. These talks were helpful both in trying to teach my kids to practice inclusiveness and as a reminder that we respect the dignity of all people. As an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my faith has led me to support the rights of LGBTQ+ people. The Equality Act would do just that. Two of the regularly repeated tenets of the church are “we are the children of God” and “all are alike unto God.” These two aspects of the gospel are deeply intertwined. We are all part of a heavenly family and our Heavenly Parents love each of us equally. Our Church’s President Russell M. Nelson, who I consider to be a prophet, stated clearly that “We truly believe that we are brothers and sisters - all part of the same divine family.” As such, I believe that it is our duty to make sure that all of our brothers and sisters are able to enjoy the same privileges and blessings that we enjoy. This is the reason I spent two scorching years in northeastern Brazil teaching people of Christ, and it is the reason I entered public service. I want to make sure that all of my brothers and sisters can live in our great country and enjoy all of its wonderful amenities and experiences free from discrimination and prejudice regardless of their gender, race, socioeconomic status, religion and, yes, sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equality Act codifies these beliefs by amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure that businesses that are open to the public treat all people equally and fairly. As a member of the church and someone with pioneer heritage, I am painfully aware of what the early members of the church went through. Expulsion, bigotry, hatred and the worst kind of violence were regular occurrences for members in the early years of the church. I believe no one should ever endure that kind of exclusion, just because of who they are, how they pray, or who they love. Our common humanity calls us to be more inclusive; for me, it is also an act of faith. I believe it is what my Heavenly Parents would do and want me to do. Unfortunately, not all people share the belief that all people should be able to enjoy and share the same freedoms. Because of this, our state of Utah recognized that we needed to put into law protections for vulnerable individuals who were experiencing regular discrimination and passed SB 296 in the 2015 legislative session, which was supported by the church. This bill’s language expertly shows that legislation can protect religious freedoms alongside other nondiscrimination protections. I believe that the Equality Act builds upon these same protections for all. It updates federal law to include explicit protections for LGBTQ+ Americans in employment, housing, education and public spaces. It would also expand religious protections to a broader array of businesses and services, thus better guaranteeing our religious freedom. This is something that I strongly believe because I want to ensure that all people have the privilege of worshiping “how, where, or what they may.” And while I wish that this did not have to be legislated, I also recognize that members of the Church believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” and that these protections will extend to all of us. King Benjamin, in what I regard as the perfect sermon on being Christlike, taught that it is our responsibility to teach our children to “love one another, and to serve one another.” The Equality Act at its core conveys that same teaching. And it is what I teach my children when explaining why we now fly a rainbow flag to honor Pride Month. State Rep. Andrew Stoddard, D-Sandy Andrew Stoddard, Midvale, was born and raised in Utah, is a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a husband, father to four boys and a state representative from House District 44.
  8. I have been looking into the incident you’ve described and am working on a response, but plan to move it to a new thread, as the transgender bathroom access case warrants its own focus due to the differences involved.
  9. SCOTUS’s final ruling on Arlene’s Flowers was issued today: U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs appeal by florist who spurned gay couple Lawrence Hurley July 2, 20218:01 AM MDT Last Updated 3 hours ago WASHINGTON, July 2 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday declined to hear an appeal by a florist fined by Washington state for refusing to make a flower arrangement for a same-sex wedding due to her Christian beliefs, sidestepping another major case pitting gay rights against religious liberty. After ruling in 2018 in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for two men for religious reasons, the justices turned away an appeal by Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers in the city of Richland, after a lower court upheld Washington's action. Stutzman refused service to gay couple Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed in 2013. Three of the court's six conservative justices - Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch - said they would have heard the case. The appeal had been on hold while the Supreme Court considered a separate religious rights case involving a Catholic Church-affiliated agency that sued after the city of Philadelphia refused to place children for foster care with the organization because it barred same-sex couples from applying to be foster parents. The court ruled unanimously on June 17 in favor of Catholic Social Services but left certain legal questions unresolved. Washington state imposed a $1,000 fine on Stutzman for violating an anti-discrimination law and was directed to make floral arrangements for same-sex weddings if she does so for opposite-sex weddings. The Washington state Supreme Court upheld the fine. The case raised two separate legal questions under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. Stutzman's lawyers at the conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom had argued that the state violated not only her right to religious expression but her free speech rights, too. The latter argument was based on the legal theory that arranging flowers is a form of creative expression protected in the same way as free speech. The florist case was similar to the one that prompted the Supreme Court's 2018 ruling on narrow legal grounds siding with a Denver-area baker named Jack Phillips. The court said in that case that the state civil rights commission that imposed sanctions on Phillips was motivated by anti-religious bias. But the Supreme Court in that case did not resolve a broader question: under what circumstances can religious beliefs be cited to win exemption from penalties under anti-discrimination laws. The justices opted not to use the florist case as another opportunity to do so. Stutzman, a member of the Southern Baptist denomination, has said marriage should be exclusively between a man and a woman, based on her Christian beliefs. In court papers, Stutzman's lawyers said she and Ingersoll were friends before the incident and that she had frequently provided him with flowers for various purposes. Her lawyers also said she would sell pre-made arrangements for use in same-sex weddings, but not custom arrangements. When she refused to prepare custom arrangements for Ingersoll's wedding, she referred him to three other florists, according to court filings. The couple, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, have said they were shocked and hurt by Stutzman's refusal, stopped planning for a big wedding and held a small wedding at their home. Washington state Attorney General Robert Ferguson, a Democrat whose office sued Stutzman, said in court papers Stutzman's version of events "never occurred." Ferguson said Stutzman outright refused to serve Ingersoll before the customer even made a request. The state sued Stutzman only after she refused to comply with its anti-discrimination law, Ferguson added. The Supreme Court in 2018 threw out the Washington Supreme Court's first ruling against Stutzman in light of its baker ruling. The Washington court in 2019 stood by its original finding in favor of the state. Similar legal fights have been waged in other states after other small business owners including a wedding photographer and a calligrapher refused to serve same-sex couples. The Supreme Court in recent years has been at the center of collisions between LGBT and religious rights. It backed gay rights in a series of landmark rulings culminating in the 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. In 2020, the court expanded protections for LGBT workers under federal law. The Philadelphia foster care ruling and the 2018 baker case were losses for LGBT activists. Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham
  10. My understanding is anyone can register to become an ordained marriage officiant for free through a couple of online options, such as American Marriage Ministries , Ministry Now!, Universal Life Church, Get Ordained Now, or (for those that want a more trendy option) Universal Life Church Monastery. It's pretty easy to get ordained to a church, after all, the US government tries to avoid getting into the business of saying which religions are legit and which aren't....
  11. Additionally, while the LDS Church can create policies prohibiting it's lay leaders from performing civil marriages for non-LDS members, from using it's facilities, and using any of its marriage certificate documentation, the government still allows all US citizens regardless of religious affiliation to perform legally-recognized civil marriage ceremonies for other US citizens who qualify for a civil marriage license. My guess, though, is the Church's own prohibition will be enough to keep most devout members of the church from doing so. Edited to add: I wonder if this policy would lead to any sort of church discipline if a member chose to civilly marry someone at a private location (not on LDS property) not as an acting lay clergy member but as a non-denominational US citizen...?
  12. Perhaps the church is adding one additional layer (church membership) of insulation against perceived potential litigation out of concern over this?:
  13. https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article70255967.html https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/32594395 https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/32594395 I’m not aware of of any incidents of trans women or men displaying their genitalia to others in any locker-rooms or bathrooms. Do you have actual evidence of such?
  14. In related news, today SCOTUS declined to review a case in which lower courts ruled that schools must allow transgender students to use the bathroom associated with their gender identity, not their sex at birth-a win for trans men and women. That certainly seems to indicate a majority of justices consider trans individuals protected by anti-discrimination law on the basis of gender, though the court may be waiting for a different case, such as the one pending in the article below… [quote] Religion and free speech among cases justices could add https://www.kgw.com/mobile/article/news/nation-world/cases-supreme-court-could-add/507-f43089fe-ef5e-42fa-b7e4-ddd87459e415?utm_campaign=snd-autopilot The Supreme Court justices could say whether they’ll add more high-profile issues to what already promises to be a consequential term, beginning in October. Author: MARK SHERMAN and JESSICA GRESKO Associated Press Published: 1:37 AM PDT June 28, 2021 Updated: 7:22 AM PDT June 28, 2021 WASHINGTON — A closely watched voting rights dispute from Arizona is among five cases standing between the Supreme Court and its summer break. But even before the justices wrap up their work, likely later this week, they could say whether they’ll add more high-profile issues to what already promises to be a consequential term, beginning in October. This month, the court has already issued big decisions on health care and religious freedom. And next term, the high court has agreed to take on cases about abortion and guns. The court on Monday passed on two potentially big cases but was still considering others. Here are the issues the court declined and others the court has not yet acted on: DECLINED: TRANSGENDER RIGHTS The court on Monday declined to take an appeal by a Virginia school board asking the justices to uphold a policy that prohibits transgender students from using school bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Lower courts had struck down the policy. The case has been around for six years, since then-high school student Gavin Grimm filed a federal lawsuit over the Gloucester County board's refusal to allow him to use the boys' bathroom. STILL PENDING: RELIGION The justices just wrapped up a case involving a church-affiliated foster care agency that declined to work with same-sex couples, ultimately siding with the agency. Now they'll have to decide whether to hear other cases involving religious freedom claims. Alternately, they could send the cases back to lower courts for review in light of their recent decision. The pending cases include a dispute out of Washington state involving a florist who refused to provide arrangements for a same-sex wedding. The Supreme Court already sent that case back once to lower courts to be revisitedafter the court's 2018 ruling involving a Colorado baker who declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Also waiting is a case involving a Catholic hospital in Maryland sued by a transgender man who sought to have a hysterectomy. The hospital canceled the procedure, saying it was contrary to its Catholic faith, after learning the reason for it. [/quote]
  15. Hope you enjoy your time off and I look forward to your contributions when you return.
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