Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Diaz, jailed in assault, set to be released again

David Diaz in his 2016 booking photo. (Photo: SFPD)

David Diaz in his 2016 booking photo. (Photo: SFPD)

David Munoz Diaz, who was acquitted in 2014 of murdering another man during a sexual encounter in San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park, and then released from jail in September 2016 in an unrelated arson case, is set to be released from custody soon in his latest case, an alleged assault.

Diaz, 27, pleaded guilty Thursday (February 23) to felony false imprisonment and is expected to be sentenced March 16 to up to five years of probation. He’ll be released that day. His probation conditions will include a midnight curfew and up to a year of wearing an ankle monitor.

The case stems from a November 29 incident in which Diaz allegedly handcuffed and bit a chunk out of another man’s scalp while impersonating a police officer. Assault and other counts were dismissed Thursday. Diaz has been in custody since the November incident.

Outside the courtroom Thursday, Deputy Public Defender Rebecca Young said that Diaz’s alleged victim had actually been the first to strike during the incident, and Diaz had a “very, very strong self-defense” case.

In 2014, Diaz stood trial for the June 2011 death of Freddy Canul-Arguello, 23, in Buena Vista Park. In his testimony, Diaz testified that Canul-Arguello had asked to be choked during a sexual encounter and that he’d accidentally killed him.

Diaz said he’d set fire to a cup in a recycling bin to signal for help. The melted bin was found with Canul-Arguello’s heavily charred body.

Jurors acquitted Diaz of second-degree murder but convicted him of involuntary manslaughter, arson, mutilating human remains, and destroying evidence. He was released in September 2014 after spending more than three years in custody. Superior Court Judge Donald Sullivan dismissed the arson count.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Thursday, March 2 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 23, 2017 @ 3:58 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Trump administration rescinds trans student protections

Politico reported late Wednesday afternoon (February 22) that the Trump administration told schools that an Obama directive aimed at protecting the rights of transgender students has given rise to lawsuits and confusion – so it’s pulling it back.

A guidance letter to schools, released by the Justice and Education departments, said the administration has “decided to withdraw and rescind” the Obama directive “in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved,” Politico reported.

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments next month in a case about the rights of a transgender student, Gavin Grimm, in a Virginia public high school. On Tuesday night, the Justice Department advised the justices about the federal government policy change – a move which could lead the high court to drop the pending case and leave the legal issue to be resolved at a later date, Politico reported.

Local officials blasted the administration’s actions.

“President Trump is on a crusade to Make America Hate Again and LGBT Americans must join other people of conscience to stop him,” gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy said in a statement. “As a public school parent, I’m outraged and saddened that he would deny young people respect, dignity and the ability to live as their authentic selves. We shouldn’t be surprised given how little regard he gives to public education in the first place. As a San Franciscan, I remain committed to speaking out against hatred and organizing to ensure equality for all. Moving backwards in our path toward equality is unacceptable.”

San Francisco school officials also weighed in.

“Today’s decision to rescind protections against transgender students is a misguided act that will victimize children most in need of our support,” gay interim San Francisco school superintendent Myong Leigh, school board President Shamann Walton, and Mayor Ed Lee said in a joint statement.

Leigh, Walton, and Lee said that “All students deserve to learn in an atmosphere that is free of fear and discrimination. While attending school, no child should feel overwhelmed by the simple decision of which bathroom to use, or fear the consequences of entering a locker room.”

The San Francisco Unified School District has a policy in place that explicitly prohibits gender-based discrimination, a protection that extends to everyone, including transgender students, the statement said. “San Francisco is proud that we were the first City in the country to include those safeguards to our transgender student body. We will continue to honor those policies and ensure that all of our students feel safe and comfortable when they enter our classrooms.”

“We became the first city in the nation to appoint a Transgender Initiatives Adviser to hasten the implementation of policies and protections for the transgender community. At a time when civil rights are under attack, we will continue to work locally to protect all of our residents from harassment and discrimination,” Leigh, Walton, and Lee stated.

— Cynthia Laird, February 22, 2017 @ 6:06 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Drag group denied service at Denny’s

Nereida Alvarez ("Creme Fatale") and Mitchell Erickson ("Laundra Tyme.") (Image courtesy of Alvarez)

Nereida Alvarez (“Creme Fatale”) and Mitchell Erickson (“Laundra Tyme.”) (Image courtesy of Alvarez)

A group of drag performers say they were recently denied service at a Daly City Denny’s because they were wearing too much make-up.

Some in the group had just competed in the Mother: Star Search drag contest at San Francisco’s Oasis nightclub, and several of them had donned Marie Antoinette-style makeup and dresses. The five friends got to the Denny’s at 2 Serra Monte at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday (February 12).

Nereida Alvarez, 25, who goes by the name Crème Fatale, said when she got to the restaurant, she looked around inside, mistakenly thinking that her friends, who’d taken another car, were already there.

A security guard approached her and said, “You can’t be in here with that face make-up on,” Alvarez said.

She “automatically assumed it was a joke,” laughed it off, and continued talking to the friends who’d come with her.

The guard repeated his statement, but other customers were complimenting her on here make-up, and Alvarez didn’t quite hear him, she said.

Then, the guard said, “I need you to leave,” and she and her friends realized he was serious.

When one of her group asked why they had to go, the guard said, “You can’t be here with that face make-up on. It’s company policy,” Alvarez said.

The man kept repeating that they couldn’t be there. Alvarez said part of the reason she was surprised was that other customers were also made up – it was a Saturday night, and many people had gone heavy on the cosmetics to go out to nightclubs. Alvarez said she and her friends didn’t have that much more make-up on than anyone else in the restaurant.

She and the others eventually walked outside. She called her friends Mitchell Erickson, 25, (a.k.a. Laundra Tyme) and Quinn Monroe, 26, (a.k.a. Scarlett Letters) and told them, “We just got kicked out of Denny’s for being in drag.”

Erickson said that when he and Monroe got there, he asked the guard about not being let in because he and his friends were in drag.

The guard replied that it wasn’t because they were in drag, it was because of the make-up. However, Erickson said that when he asked whether the drag attire was the problem, the guard “got flustered and uncomfortable,” and it appeared he was “afraid” of seeming homophobic.

“He had a very clear problem with it, but he would not say” the issue was their drag get-ups, Alvarez said.

“There was nothing offensive about the way we looked,” she added. “We were all in pink and white … very demure, very covered up.”

Alvarez also said that the guard told them “if we got popped” – or shot – “nobody would know who we were,” as though they wouldn’t be able to check identifications.

“I wasn’t aware this is the most dangerous Denny’s in the world,” Alvarez said to the guard, who actually asked for their IDs.

After Erickson said, “We’re hungry drag queens looking for a milk shake,” the guard told them it would be alright that time, “but you can’t come here a lot.”

Monroe said that when she got to the restaurant, she went inside to ask about why they couldn’t be seated. She was initially ignored, but a hostess eventually told Monroe she’d seat the group. By then, though, they’d decided to go elsewhere.

The group went to a nearby Nation’s hamburger restaurant, where they had no trouble being served.

Alvarez, who didn’t know the guard’s name, said not being allowed into a business because they were in drag was something “I don’t think any of us have experienced” before.

An employee at the Denny’s Friday (February 17) referred the Bay Area Reporter to the restaurant chain’s corporate office, where no one was available.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 17, 2017 @ 4:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Castro kidnapping suspect’s name still not released



Police have still not released the name of the man suspected of pretending to be a cop and kidnapping another man in San Francisco’s Castro district last Thursday (February 9).

According to Officer Robert Rueca, a police spokesman, the incident started at 7 a.m. when the 48-year-old suspect demanded that the victim, 38, take him to a local hotel. When the victim refused, the suspect forced him to go eastbound on 17th Street to Noe. He brandished a gun, ordered the victim to sit, and threatened to shoot him if he ran.

The suspect then told the victim to give him his car keys, but the victim refused. A witness observed the incident and called 911. The suspect showed the witness a security badge and stated that he’s a police officer, Rueca said in a summary. Police arrived and detained the suspect. Rueca indicated the arrest occurred in the 300 block of Noe Street, which is near the Fitness SF gym and Café Flore.

Rueca said Monday that police were withholding the suspect’s identity because investigators were still talking to witnesses. As of Wednesday, the suspect’s name was still not available.

The only detail about the suspect that Rueca’s shared other than the man’s age is that he’s white.

The victim wasn’t injured in the incident, and nothing was stolen, according to Rueca.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 15, 2017 @ 4:33 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man stabbed in Dolores Park; woman robbed in Duboce Triangle

Dolores Park. Photo: Pete Thoshinsky

Dolores Park. Photo: Pete Thoshinsky

A man was stabbed during a fight in San Francisco’s Dolores Park Monday (February 13) and a woman was robbed in the Duboce Triangle neighborhood, according to police.

The stabbing occurred at 7 p.m. as the victim and suspect were playing dominoes. The two men got into an argument, and the suspect slashed the victim’s arm with a pocket knife then fled on foot, Sergeant Michael Andraychak, a police spokesman, said in a summary.

The victim, 29, suffered a non-life threatening laceration to his left arm. He was taken to a hospital.

The suspect was described as a 36-year-old Hispanic male.

The robbery occurred at 11:15 a.m. Monday at 14th and Sanchez streets when a man grabbed a woman’s cellphone then got into a “tan or beige car” and drove off with three other men.

The victim, a 23-year-old woman, wasn’t injured in the incident.

The suspects were described as four black males ages 15-20.

No arrests have been reported in either incident.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 3:21 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF homeless director addresses comments that offended Lyft driver

Jeff Kositsky (Photo:

Jeff Kositsky (Photo:

Jeff Kositsky, director of San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, is addressing a conversation he took part in during a recent Lyft ride that offended the driver. The conversation included comments that were taken to be anti-homeless and anti-sex worker.

Kositsky initially told Kevin Ebach, the driver, that Ebach had violated his privacy by posting about the incident on Facebook, and said, “I am not embarrassed,” but he’s now apologizing.

In an 11:24 p.m. Facebook post Wednesday (February 8), Ebach, 25, who’s gay, said he’d “picked up two white older men in suits from a restaurant near the Embarcadero.” As he drove them to the Mission district, he overheard them talking.

“I was not totally sure who said what, but what I heard was appalling at the least,” Ebach said.

Eventually, he drove by Mission Street, where there were “several homeless people and tents” set up. According to Ebach, one of the riders said, “‘They are here fucking now too’ in a very harsh tone.”

When they reached another street, they saw a woman on a corner wearing “a short dress,” Ebach said.

“There are prostitutes here now?” one of the men said. “They come and go,” the other said, according to Ebach. The first man responded, “Haha. Come and go in more than one way.”

Ebach, who’d been tempted to kick both men out of his car, dropped off the first man at his destination, and as he drove the other rider home, he asked him what he did for work.

That’s when he learned that the remaining man was the city’s homelessness director.

Ebach, a public school teacher, said, “I drive for Lyft because it’s expensive to live in the Bay. And 90% of the people I meet on Lyft are great. But this experience with this man who supposedly is ‘helping end homelessness’ left me so upset and jaded about people in upper level administrative roles in ‘Social Justice’ fields. … I would like a follow up convo with this dude to understand why him and his buddy made me feel so uncomfortable and made so many comments that are just… mean.” Ebach then mentioned Kositsky by name.

In a private Facebook message Kositsky sent to Ebach hours after Ebach’s post, Kositsky, who said his companion had been the one commenting on homeless people, wrote, “I was a bit boozy and goofy from being tired and feel that my privacy has been violated. I am not embarrassed by anything that I said last night but feel very shamed by the context in which it was presented. I also feel unfairly judged by someone who does not know me at all.”

Kositsky, who offered to have a conversation with Ebach, also said that his companion’s remark on homeless people was “out of frustration that this has not been corrected.”

In a message he posted to his own Facebook page Thursday afternoon, Kositsky said he’d ” reached out to Kevin in order to apologize.”

He also referred to disparaging comments about unnamed employees that had been made during the Lyft conversation. Additionally, one of the riders had “said that [Supervisor] Jane Kim was ‘on their backs’ about a problem, but they would be able to ignore it,” according to Ebach.

“My friend and I were talking about his professional frustrations,” Kositsky wrote. “We were also making light of things we shouldn’t have. I am sorry for offending Kevin and anyone who has read his Facebook post.

“I have spent the better part of my career working to end homelessness; as a case manager, running shelters and developing affordable housing,” Kositsky added. “Yesterday’s conversation does not reflect who I am or what I’ve done for nearly thirty years.”

In a phone interview, Ebach, who said Kositsky has followed up since his initial private message to apologize, told the Bay Area Reporter that several people have commented that he’d violated his riders’ privacy and “I should not be eavesdropping.”

“You should know that if you’re in a Lyft, I’m not a therapist,” Ebach said, so he isn’t required to keep things confidential. He indicated there’s no way for him not to hear what his riders are saying, and out of the 700 rides he’s given, “I never felt the need to share anything publicly until this situation.”

Ebach, who doesn’t know who the other rider was, said what was especially offensive about the conversation was “My background is in social work. I’ve heard other riders have conversation that made me feel uncomfortable,” but since this involved “people in the same field as me, it made it more jarring, more upsetting to me.”

The B.A.R. couldn’t reach Kositsky for comment.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 10, 2017 @ 7:57 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man shot near Dolores Park

Dolores Park. Photo: Pete Thoshinsky

Dolores Park. Photo: Pete Thoshinsky

A 42-year-old man was left with non-life threatening injuries early Thursday morning (February 9) after being shot near San Francisco’s Dolores Park.

The 1:51 a.m. incident occurred on Church Street between 18th and 19th streets. The victim was talking with somebody when two suspects approached him. One of the suspects asked the victim a question. When the victim didn’t answer, one of the suspects shot at him, according to Officer Robert Rueca, a police spokesman. The suspects then fled on foot on Church.

Rueca described the suspects as a black male in his 30s and another man whose race and age weren’t known.

Nothing was taken during the incident.

No arrests have been reported.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 9, 2017 @ 6:57 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man accused of stalking, death threats almost jailed

Demarus Allen-Batieste (Photo:

Demarus Allen-Batieste (Photo:

A queer East Bay man accused of stalking and threatening to kill a former mentor was almost jailed this week for refusing to meet with the doctors who are supposed to evaluate his mental health.

Demarus Allen-Batieste, 30, of Hercules, California, who’d been “a gifted student” at the Zurich Symphony, was expelled from the program after he developed a “serious mental illness,” according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. He then “started stalking” a female mentor he’d met at the symphony “and threatened her with multiple vile emails,” Wagstaffe said in a summary. “The emails included threats to kill the victim and numerous delusional threats” to her.

In August 2015, Allen-Batieste entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity in the case. In December 2016, criminal proceedings were suspended so doctors could examine whether he’s mentally competent.

Superior Court Judge Donald Ayoob expected to get the doctors’ reports Tuesday (February 7), but the reports hadn’t been completed because Allen-Batieste had “refused to cooperate with the doctors,” Wagstaffe said.

“Judge Ayoob initially remanded the defendant into custody and then changed his mind and left him out of custody on his promise he will now meet with the doctors,” according to Wagstaffe.

The case was continued to February 17 for a status update on the reports.

Allen-Batieste, who’s out of custody on $150,000 bail, has told the Bay Area Reporter that he hasn’t “done anything illegal,” and he’s “absolutely” competent to stand trial. He didn’t respond to an email inquiring about this week’s court appearance.

Wagstaffe indicated that this fall, Allen-Batieste rejected a plea deal from prosecutors, and the offer was revoked.

In a separate case, a San Francisco official ruled recently that staff at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Allen-Batieste’s former employer, don’t owe him any money.

In October, Allen-Batieste filed claims against two SFAF staffers alleging “wrongful termination” and other issues. He’d wanted $10,000 from each of them.

But in separate rulings issued in January, Judge Pro Tem Elizabeth Zareh said the SFAF workers didn’t owe Allen-Batieste anything.

At the time of the rulings, Allen-Batieste told the B.A.R., “Hitler also ruled against the Jews. … I will choose to remain moral and ethical even in the face of adversity.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 8, 2017 @ 3:10 pm PST
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Online Extra: Political Notes: Bill would amend state’s HIV criminal statutes

by Matthew S. Bajko

Legislation to be introduced Monday would update California’s laws criminalizing HIV, which were adopted during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, so that a person could not be prosecuted for intentionally transmitting the virus if their sex partner tested negative for HIV.

(State Senator Scott Wiener. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(State Senator Scott Wiener. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Under current law, HIV-positive persons may be prosecuted for engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse with the specific intent to transmit HIV even if no actual transmission of the virus occurs. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to eight years in prison.

Another law on the books targets sex workers who are HIV-positive. If the person is convicted of solicitation, even if they did not engage in intercourse, they can be sentenced to prison for 16 months or longer. That would no longer be the case under the proposed legislation.

The statutes need to be updated “because people are being prosecuted and incarcerated for no good reason under the existing HIV-specific criminal laws in California. It is unjust is the number one reason,” said Scott A. Schoettes, the HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, in a phone interview Friday with the Bay Area Reporter. “The second reason is we want to have laws promote public health not injure public health prevention efforts. Right now that is what these laws do.”

AIDS advocates have long contended the laws are outdated and, rather than protect public safety, provide incentives to people to not know their HIV status. Yet for years lawmakers in Sacramento have refused to carry legislation to amend the state’s existing penal codes that target people with HIV.

“We have been working to get this issue on the radar of legislators in California for the last couple of years,” said Naina Khanna, who is living with HIV and is executive director of the Oakland-based Positive Women’s Network-USA. “It is a tremendous opportunity to advance human rights and the dignity of people living with HIV while aligning public health efforts with current science.”

After winning election last fall, gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) agreed to be the lead author for the legislation. He will officially announce the bill at a press conference in San Francisco Monday morning at Strut, the gay and bisexual men’s health clinic in the heart of the city’s Castro district.

Joining Wiener at the news conference will be bill co-sponsors Assemblymen David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), who is gay, along with a number of LGBT and AIDS advocates. (Senator Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, and lesbian Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, are also co-sponsors, said Wiener, who expects other lawmakers to add their names to the bill.)

“There are multiple penal code sections passed during the height of AIDS hysteria in California and throughout the country,” said Wiener. “And these laws single out HIV as opposed to all other infectious diseases and harshly punish HIV-positive people who have sexual contact with other people even if there is no transmission and even if there is little or no risk of transmission.”

The bill will modernize “the outdated laws,” said Wiener, and make HIV similar to other communicable diseases whose intentional transmission is considered a misdemeanor under current laws.

“We have made so many advances to allow HIV-positive people to live normal, healthy, productive lives and to the point where someone who is HIV-positive and on medication can be virally suppressed so that it is almost impossible for them to infect anybody else,” said Wiener, who is HIV-negative and made headlines in 2014 for announcing he was taking the HIV prevention pill known as PrEP. “Yet we have these old laws that treat anyone who is HIV-positive almost as an automatic criminal.”

There are currently four criminal statutes in the state that criminalize the transmission of HIV. The legislation being introduced will not change the penal code that says an HIV-positive person who engages in a nonconsensual sex crime, such as rape, could see three years be added to their sentence.

But it will address the health and safety code that says it is illegal for an HIV-positive person to donate blood, organs, tissue, semen, or breast milk to an HIV-negative person. If convicted under the statute, they could face up to six years in prison. (Emergency legislation adopted last year made it legal for an HIV-positive person to donate their organs to another HIV-positive person.)

The Senate bill would change the statute so it would only be a crime if an HIV-positive person makes such a donation to intentionally infect someone and that person does become HIV-positive. It would make the transmission of HIV through such donations similar to the criminal statutes applicable to all infectious diseases, noted Wiener.

According to a December 2015 study conducted by the Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank at UCLA School of Law, 800 Californians between 1988 and June 2014 came into contact with the state’s criminal justice system due to their being HIV-positive. The study noted that nearly all of the cases, 95 percent, involved people either engaged in or suspected of sex work.

The number of incidences have drastically dropped over time, found the study, with just 17 people having a HIV-related criminal contact in 2013, the most recent full year of data obtained for the study. It was the lowest number since 1991, noted the report.

Black and Latino people were disproportionately represented at 67 percent of the cases, although they account for about just half, at 51 percent, of people living with HIV or AIDS in the state, found the report. In California, an estimated 138,879 people were living with HIV and AIDS in 2014.

The HIV laws also significantly impacted women, who accounted for 43 percent of the cases the study identified even though women make up less than 13 percent of the HIV-positive population in the state.

Gay San Francisco Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who is the first person living with HIV to serve on the board, hailed the introduction of the state legislation as being long overdue, especially in light of the advances that have been made in controlling a person’s HIV viral load and preventing people from becoming HIV positive in the first place.

“We know being undetectable reduces your chance of transmission to virtually nil. And with people going on PrEP, we have a lot of people having sex safely that is not protected,” said Sheehy, who served as former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s adviser on HIV policy. “So this law is really an artifact of a different age. It is more about stigma and fear and has never been based on good public health practices or science.”

The B.A.R. will have more coverage of this story in Thursday’s paper.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @
Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail

— Cynthia Laird, February 3, 2017 @ 6:53 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Spicer hedges on draft executive order in works

by Lisa Keen

Just two days after the White House issued a statement saying, “President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community,” a purported draft for an executive order was leaked that would, if signed, leave LGBT people vulnerable to discrimination in a wide variety of arenas.

(White House press secretary Sean Spicer)

(White House press secretary Sean Spicer)

Asked whether the draft in circulation is one being considered by Trump, press secretary Sean Spicer said at a White House briefing Thursday (February 2), “Right now, there are no executive orders we are able to read out.” He added, however, that there are a “lot of ideas being floated out,” and “input and ideas” being provided “on a variety of subjects.”

But he said, “until the president makes up his mind, there’s nothing going out.”

The answer provided little relief to LGBT legal activists, particularly given that Trump, on Wednesday, met with almost a dozen representatives of right-wing groups, including those with specifically anti-LGBT agendas. And at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning, Trump reiterated his support for eliminating the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits tax exemptions for organizations participating in political activity.

News of a leaked four-page draft executive order was published by the Nation magazine Wednesday, the day after the White House issued a statement saying the president would not rescind an existing executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors. That statement was issued as rumors were circulating that Trump was getting ready to sign an executive order rescinding the LGBT protections.

But the draft executive order, if approved, would enable federal contractors to claim a religious belief as motivation for discriminating against LGBT employees.

Jenny Pizer, a senior attorney with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, told the Nation that the proposed executive director would violate the Constitution’s establishment clause and equal protection clause.

The language of the proposed executive order appears to seek some of the requests made by some religious organizations to the Obama administration when it devised regulations last year related to the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on sex discrimination, saying they include discrimination based on gender identity. Health and Human Services noted at the time that, “Some religious organizations … strongly supported a religious exemption, arguing that faith-based health care providers and employers would be substantially burdened if required to provide or refer for, or purchase insurance covering, particular services such as gender transition services.”

Certain other language in the draft appears directed toward enabling organizations, such as Catholic Charities, to obtain federal funding despite discrimination against same-sex couples as potential adoptive parents. The draft executive order prohibits the federal government from taking “any adverse action against a religious organization that provides federally-funded child welfare services, including promoting and providing adoption, foster, or family support services for children … on the basis that the organization declines to provide… such services due to a conflict with the organization’s religious beliefs.”

And with regards, presumably, to the Johnson Amendment, the draft order enables religious organizations to speak on “moral or political issues” without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

The draft obtained by the Nation is entitled “Executive Order – Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom.” It purports to protect not only religious institutions but also “persons of all faiths” in “all activities of life,” including “closely held for-profit corporations operated for a religious purpose, even if its purpose is not exclusively religious. …”

It protects the tax-exempt status for organizations who speak or act “in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life.”

And it states, “All agencies shall promptly withdraw or rescind any rulings, directives, regulations, guidance, positions, or interpretations that are inconsistent with this order to the extent of their inconsistency.”

During the Thursday press briefing, Spicer said the president and vice president believe that current regulations and laws have “denied people the ability to live according to their faith” and that the “president wants to make sure we don’t penalize someone for wanting to express their faith.””

Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, said the proposed executive order would have “an immediate and chilling impact on every aspect of our lives” and amounts to “a charter for widespread and divisive discrimination, against LGBTQ people.”

“If this leak is accurate, and he signs this or a similar order,” said Carey, “it will be a truly devastating day for American freedoms.”

— Cynthia Laird, February 2, 2017 @ 12:12 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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