The SCOTUS decided to end Pride Month exactly as expected and DeSantis is getting weirder by the minute, but I promise there’s joy amidst all this mess.

Every once in a while—or, in this-day-in age, often—you get a push notification for a news story that’s so outlandish and sad that you almost have to laugh. This is precisely what happened to me when I saw Ron DeSantis’ “Trump is an LGBTQ+ Ally'' video a few days ago (The Majority Report). There’s something comical about the fact that DeSantis is set on being the bigger bigoted asshole, and there’s something equally as humorous as Trump being painted as an ally to anyone but his QAnon-following base, let alone queer and trans people. One of the biggest arguments made in the reposted video was that it was unfair for cis-women if Trump allowed trans women to compete in his beauty pageants, which is a really weird way to say you think trans women are hot, but we’re all on our own journey! The video is so egregious that some LGBTQ+ conservatives (somehow not an oxymoron), like the Log Cabin Republicans, are speaking out against DeSantis’ “homophobia” (Assigned Media).

While I won’t celebrate LGBTQ+ conservatives doing the absolute bare minimum for our community, I do hope that we continue to call out homophobia and transphobia when we see it. We also must continue to note that this bigotry extends far beyond poorly edited videos, occurring in tandem with disinformation fueled by corporate media, legislation built on falsities, and hatred driven by fear.

May we all be gifted with self-awareness and the ability to inspect the information around us with openness and love.

With that, let’s get to it.

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🏳️‍🌈 On June 30th, SCOTUS handed down two major decisions, just days after ruling against affirmative action. The first was a major blow, blocking the Biden administration from forgiving student loan debt (The Majority Report). They also handed down their much-anticipated ruling on 303 Creative v. Elenis; the decision limits the freedom and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals in the name of “free speech” and religious rights. Perhaps the most abhorrent part of the ruling is that the case was so clearly the work of right-wing lobbyists.The defendant, Lorie Smith, who brought forward the case on the basis of not wanting to create wedding websites for gay couples, has not once been asked to make a wedding website for gay couples. (Pennsylvania Capital-Star) In fact, Smith “filed the lawsuit before she ever opened a business.” (The New Republic). In other words, the case was brought forth by hypotheticals. We've seen this pattern with other major rulings in the past. Before Dobbs was overturned several abortion-related cases made their way to the Supreme Court. The 303 Creative case makes it easier for right wing lobbyist groups working with conservative law firms to find another mouthpiece to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision that the right to marry extends to same-sex couples.

Some people might find themselves thinking that any LGBTQ+ couple could easily find someone else to make their wedding website, and they would be correct. The issue with that line of thinking is that 303 Creative LLC is not a religious organization, and if we're on track to follow separation of church and state (which we're not) such a ruling would make it possible to turn away anyone on the basis of anything. We are already seeing the impacts of this ruling (The New Republic). What’s more, such a decision opens the door to putting parts of the Civil Rights Act on the chopping block.

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Kansas Takes a Page Out of Matt Walsh’s Playbook

🏳️‍🌈Conservative pundit Matt Walsh has made himself famous by asking the question, “What is a woman?” And it seems that Kansas lawmakers took it upon themselves to answer that question. Senate Bill 180 has been deemed a “women’s bill of rights” aimed at protecting “biological” women in bathrooms, sports, and in daily life. Lawmakers say that anyone can present however they please, but they are unable to legally change their gender marker on documents, which is a huge blow to the transgender community. What’s more, intersex people will be labeled as “disabled” in an effort to solidify the binary of “male and female.” (Kansas Reflector)

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Rulings and Signings

🏳️‍🌈 Federal judges in Kentucky and Tennessee blocked gender-affirming care bans, citing all evidence in the cases as conflated lies. (Tennessee Lookout, The Intercept)

🏳️‍🌈 Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed three anti-trans bills from going into effect. House Bill 81 “would have forbidden school employees from using transgender students’ preferred names or pronouns unless they have parental approval,” House Bill 466 “would have prohibited discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools,” and House Bill 648 “would have banned gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth.” (Louisiana Illuminator) We’ll see if the Republican-run Congress honors Edwards’ veto.

🏳️‍🌈 Minnesota codified abortion rights and banned conversion therapy. (Counterpunch)

🏳️‍🌈 New York became a safe-haven for transgender people. (City Limits) This decision is huge, especially as trans kids and their families continue to flee states like Texas and Florida. (TransLash, The Majority Report)

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Working While Queer

🏳️‍🌈 Seemingly in unison, employees at the Trevor Project unionized just as its executives laid off many of its crisis hotline staff in a Greg-from-Succession-style Zoom call. (In These Times, The New Republic)

🏳️‍🌈 Starbucks employees have been striking after they were told they were unable to hang up LGBTQ+ decorations during Pride Month. (The Nation)

Of Note

🏳️‍🌈 TransLash announced their Fall 2023 News Fellowship.

🏳️‍🌈 Small towns in Idaho found ways to celebrate Pride despite ongoing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the state. (Idaho Capital Sun)

🏳️‍🌈The Episcopal Church has been celebrating same-sex marriages since Obergefell in 2015. (Ohio Capital Journal) Hopefully other churches can follow suit for religious LGBTQ+ individuals.

Remember to seek solace in one another. We strive and thrive with the help of our community.

See you in two weeks.

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