The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision might make it harder for millions of LGBT Americans to access treatment that could revolutionize the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. has sparked debate over whether the court's opinion grants business owners the right to discriminate against LGBT customers and employees on religious grounds. The decision is already being celebrated by a number of anti-LGBT activists who see it as a license to ignore non-discrimination laws, while some commentators have argued that the decision was tailored to avoid creating a blank check for homophobic business owners.
But the Hobby Lobby decision's most significant implication for the LGBT community may be its impact on Truvada, a controversial "miracle drug" that blocks HIV infection and may revolutionize the battle against HIV/AIDS.
In May 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed Truvada, which is a pre-expsure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment combining two different antiviral drugs, for use by patients deemed at risk for HIV/AIDS. When taken properly, Truvada reduces the risk of HIV by more than 99 percent effective.
Despite its effectiveness, Truvada remains a hotly debated topic in the LGBT community, with critics warning (incorrectly) that Truvada users are more likely to engage in unsafe sex and deriding users as promiscuous and irresponsible.
In April, USA Today noted the similarities between the controversy surrounding Truvada and conservative opposition to birth control:
Demetre Daskalakis, the Mount Sinai doctor, said the Truvada debate recalls the way birth control was viewed in some quarters in the 1960s -- as an accessory to promiscuity.
"Anyone who takes Truvada, someone is looking at them and saying they're licentious," Daskalakis said. "When this becomes more normalized, we'll be fine."
Fox News contributor Ben Carson is slated to keynote an event hosted by the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) - an anti-LGBT hate group that is notorious for inventing a fake story about a transgender teen harassing people in a public restroom.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson suggested that people might not be born gay, compared homosexuality to alcoholism and adultery, and warned that gay people who don't repent won't be "saved on the last day."
In a June 20 blog post for RedState.com, Erickson expressed his support for Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry, who was criticized last week after comparing homosexuality to alcoholism. In his post, Erickson claimed that the science around sexual orientation wasn't settled, warning gay people not to "give in" to their temptations and repent for their homosexuality in order to be "saved":
So, again, fewer and fewer voices are willing to speak up. Those of us who can, should speak up. So I will say it - I largely agree with Governor Rick Perry and appreciate him speaking up.
While most of my generation is pretty accepting of the idea that a person can be born gay, there is no settled science on the matter. There certainly is no settled science on pick your own gender adventures. But to say so is apostasy in this secular world. It really does not matter though. Whether one is born gay or not does not mean God made a person gay. And whether it is the unrepentant alcoholic, homosexual, adulterer, liar, or any of the others the Duck Commander listed, none are going to be saved on the last day without repenting.
No one said life was easy, but too many are too ready to give in instead of repenting. Too many tire of the struggle and decide the struggle is just another form of normal. And frankly, it is apart from God. That too is why so many want to drive God out of the public square. God gives us Hope to overcome the struggles of this world, including the flesh. Left to our own devices, Romans 1 tell us we get exactly what we are getting. But we are not creatures of this world -- none of us. We are passing through to eternity. YOLO is a lie and if it feels good it does not mean we should do it. The zeitgeist of the present age tells us otherwise, but the Holy Spirit calls us to a higher and better and more eternal purpose.
Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote, "What was once stigmatized as deviant behavior is now tolerated and even sanctioned; what was once regarded as abnormal has been normalized . . . .As deviancy is normalized, so what was once normal becomes deviant. The kind of family that has been regarded for centuries as natural and moral - the 'bourgeois' family as it is invidiously called - is now seen as pathological" [emphasis added]
A Boston Globe columnist compared anti-gay groups fighting against marriage equality to activists who fought against Jim Crow-era racism, attacking marriage equality supporters for trying to "redefine" marriage.
In a June 18 op-ed, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby touted the upcoming March for Marriage in Washington, DC - an event sponsored by the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The march is likely to be a largely astroturfed event and will be attended by some of the most extreme anti-gay voices in America.
According to Jacoby, however, the anti-gay activists attending the march should be compared to the civil rights heroes who fought against Jim Crow era discrimination:
It would certainly be easier to make peace with the new order, especially considering the aggressiveness and hostility that many "marriage equality" activists deploy against those who oppose gay marriage.
Then again, much the same could have been said a century ago to those who insisted -- in the depths of Jim Crow -- that the cause of civil rights and racial fairness was worth fighting for. They too must have heard with regularity that they were on the "wrong side of history." The promise of Reconstruction was long gone. In much of the country, black enfranchisement was a dead letter. The Supreme Court had ruled 7-1 in Plessy v. Ferguson that racial segregation -- "separate but equal" -- was constitutional. The president of the United States was a white supremacist on whose watch black employees were fired from government positions, and public facilities in Washington were segregated.
Honorable voices argued that blacks had no realistic option but to make the best of a bad situation. But there were others who insisted that the lost spirit of abolitionism could be revived, that Jim Crow could be fought and eventually overturned, that "separate but equal" was based on a falsehood and would ultimately prove untenable. They founded the NAACP in 1909, launching a movement that would eventually transform America. [emphasis added]
Glenn Beck decried "thought police" for making it difficult to say "fag the new nigger," the title of a poster he featured on his web show.
During the June 9 edition of Beck's The Blaze TV program, Beck invited anonymous street artist Sabo to discuss his work. In May, Sabo produced a widely-condemned "Abortion Barbie" poster to attack Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, depicting "a mostly-naked Barbie doll with a plastic baby in her belly."
The segment spotlighted a number of Sabo's other controversial posters, including one that read "FAG THE NEW NIGGER":
Discussing the poster, Sabo and Beck lamented that they couldn't use homophobic and racist slurs because "we live in such a politically correct society":
SABO: You know, it bothers me you can't say the name.
BECK: It bothers me. It bothers me.
SABO: I mean, we are such a politically correct environment that you can't even say "fag the new nigger." Why is that? It's a word.
BECK: I know that. But you know what the reality is.
BECK: It astounds me that the people who, my whole life, have accused me and people like me of being a Nazi, of trying to stifle speech and everything else - I don't care what you're saying. It doesn't bother me. It's not going to make me cower in fear and run away crying. However, they have now stifled everyone's speech to the point to where we're now getting down to thought police.
Sabo went on to lament that "the whites in general have been beat down so much" and compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler.
Two radio hosts in Rochester, NY lost their jobs following a grossly transphobic segment mocking the transgender community. But the vicious comments that got them fired are nearly identical to the kind of transphobic hate speech Fox News regularly peddles to its national audience with impunity.
On May 22, Rochester radio station 98.9 The Buzz announced that it had fired Kimberly and Beck - the hosts of the station's morning talk radio show "The Breakfast Buzz' - following outrage over a segment criticizing Rochester's plan to cover transgender healthcare for employees and their families. According to a statement from Entercom Rochester:
This morning Entercom fired Kimberly and Beck effective immediately. Their hateful comments against the transgender community do not represent our station or our company. We deeply apologize to the transgender community, the community of Rochester, and anyone else who was offended by their hateful comments. We are proud of our past work on behalf of the local LGBT community and we remain committed to that partnership.
The May 21 segment in question was an "atrocious" train wreck of transphobic slurs, misinformation, and hate speech. Kimberly and Beck called transgender people "nut jobs," trivialized the need for transgender health care, and played Aerosmith's Dude Looks Like A Lady throughout the segment. They accused a transgender high school athlete of having an unfair advantage over her opponents and joked about her using her genitals to play baseball. And when a caller expressed disappointment in the hosts' transphobic commentary, another host responded "thank you, sir," in an attempt to mock the caller's gender:
98.9 The Buzz was right to act quickly to shut down Kimberly and Beck's hateful transphobic commentary.
But Kimberly and Beck's comments aren't all that extreme when compared to the way conservative media outlets talk about the transgender community. In reality, the segment might have been entirely unremarkable had it been aired on Fox News.
Fox News rolled out the welcome mat for a Dallas television host who went on a homophobic tirade after openly gay NFL player Michael Sam was shown kissing his boyfriend on ESPN.
Amy Kushnir made national headlines on May 13 after she walked off the set of The Broadcast, a Dallas, Texas morning show, following a heated discussion about the airing of Sam's kiss on ESPN. Kushnir, who co-hosts The Broadcast, argued that the kiss was being "pushed in faces" and objected to having her sons watch two men kiss. Kushnir also claimed she also opposed seeing heterosexual kissing on television, prompting skepticism from her co-hosts and eventually resulting in Kushnir walking off the set.
That display of homophobia was apparently enough to get Kushnir an exclusive interview on Fox's The Kelly File on May 16, where she told fill-in host Shannon Bream that the kiss between Sam and his boyfriend was "shocking" and "over-the-top":
KUSHNIR: It was actually over-the-top. ESPN used it as an opportunity to put out shocking video when ESPN is a sports network that families watch. We've got children that play sports. They watch ESPN all the time. So it bothers me that they used this opportunity to promote their left-wing agenda, in my opinion.
Kushnir went on to lament that people with "traditional values" couldn't express their views without fear of getting "lambasted." Bream wondered if Kushnir was concerned that she was no longer able to voice her opinion, even thought it was Kushnir who decided to walk off the set of her show.
While discussing an effort to roll back a transgender non-discrimination law in Maryland, MSNBC's Ronan Farrow called out the right-wing "myth" about sexual predators entering trans-inclusive bathrooms.
On April 29, a conservative group in Maryland launched an effort calling for a referendum to repeal the recently enacted Fairness for All Marylanders Act, SB 212.
The group, MDPetitions.com, has chosen to refer to the measure as a "bathroom bill," even though the law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and a number of other areas not related to the use of restrooms.
It's a common conservative tactic meant to gin up fears about even basic protections for transgender people.
During the May 2 edition of MSNBC's Ronan Farrow Daily, Farrow discussed the effort to repeal SB 212, as well as the media's ongoing struggle to adequately cover the transgender community:
What happens when a transgender activist gets to turn the tables and ask her interviewer to prove her womanhood?
In an April 29 segment for Fusion TV's AM Tonight, transgender activist Janet Mock grilled host Alicia Menendez about her identity, genitalia, and womanhood. Menendez answered a series of invasive questions like "do you have a vagina" and "when was the moment that you felt your breasts budding?":
The interview was a parody of typical media interviews with transgender people, with Mock asking Menendez - who is cisgender - many of the same questions she routinely has to deal with as a trasgender woman. The segment highlighted the way that even trans-welcoming media personalities can objectify and dehumanize their transgender guests by focusing on their bodies and medical histories.
Despite major developments in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and research in 2013, cable evening news shows devoted scant time to covering developments in the fight against HIV/AIDS in 2013. The lack of coverage of HIV/AIDS stories has continued into the first quarter of 2014.