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    Ann Rostow: Gay Clients Only at Ann’s Flowers

    By Ann Rostow–

    Gay Clients Only at Ann’s Flowers 

    I’ve just spent crucial deadline time exploring the question of when, why, and how an individual can claim an exemption to mandatory vaccine policies based on religious freedom. Why? Because, as a rule, mainstream Christianity has nothing to say on the subject of vaccines now, does it? 

    True, there are those offbeat religions that forbid you to go to a doctor or give blood or what have you. So fine, have it out with your employer if your special sect says you can’t get a shot. But can you really just announce that you don’t believe in vaccines as a matter of faith if you’re a regular old Baptist or Methodist? Can you explain that to, let’s say, the U.S. Army?

    You know, one of the most irritating aspects of the whole insistence on “religious freedom” is that, legally, an individual’s personal belief is considered sacrosanct and is not evaluated by the court. So yes, an employee could argue that his or her religion means he or she cannot get a vaccine, even if said religion is silent on the matter. All that counts is the employee’s honest belief. On the other hand, the High Court has said that you can’t use your religion as an excuse to avoid generally applicable secular laws, so we have at least one ace in our hand to protect us from those who would play the faith card against a public authority.

    Now, we must hope that the High Court, which just upheld that precedent (Employment Division v Smith) in the recent case between Philadelphia and a Catholic foster care agency, continues to allow it to operate as intended. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that Colorado’s GLBT-inclusive civil rights law was generally applicable and cannot be sidestepped by a Christian web designer who seeks to discriminate against same-sex wedding clients based on faith. That decision has been appealed to the Supreme Court, where we know at least three justices are hungry for just such a challenge. It takes four justices to accept review, so it was interesting to see the Court reject an antigay religious freedom petition the other day when it turned its back on the Arlene’s Florist wedding case out of Washington.

    Oh, and finally, while we’re on the subject, I did something to make the internet think that I am personally a wedding florist. I am now receiving almost daily emails informing me that some bride (it’s always a woman) is looking for a florist for her upcoming nuptials. It’s like an Angie’s List thing, but it’s something different. Maybe I should respond to one of these and explain that I don’t serve heterosexual clients. That’s a true statement after all.

    Sounds Like Some Sea Snakes May Be Lesbians

    Before we continue, I was glancing at a gay penguin story out of Melbourne, trying to decide whether or not to cover it, when I noticed a sidebar link about sex-crazed sea snakes. Now, we may have had our fill of gay penguins, but we’ve yet to skim the surface of sex-crazed sea snakes. On y va!

    According to an article in Scientific Reports, experts evaluated some thirty-year-old data from 158 encounters between humans and “Olive” sea snakes, which I gather are highly venomous. According to the analysis, the male snakes were looking to mate, while the female snakes were rushing past the humans in order to hide from the male snakes. As far as I’m concerned, this gives the story a GLBT aspect. If the female snakes are so straight, then why are they trying to escape? 

    As an article in The Hill explained: “Researchers believe that the male snakes are mistaking divers as rivals or potential mates, whereas the female snakes are using the divers as a way to flee and hide from males pursuing them.” Scientific Reports advises divers to sit back and enjoy the experience if a poisonous male snake attacks. “By staying still and allowing a sea snake to investigate them with its tongue, a diver is unlikely to escalate the encounter and be bitten,” the article says.

    I have a few questions. Why is The Hill covering sea snake news? And why are researchers examining data from 1995? Can’t they find something more recent to analyze? While we’re at it, who cares about a handful of snake encounters from back in the day? Who turned this into a fancy report to begin with? And how can any creature mistake a large human scuba diver for a “rival sea snake”?

    I just checked out Scientific Reports. The service began in 2011 “with an inclusive ethos, and a mission to publish high-quality research without selecting papers based on perceived impact or significance.” Ah, that explains a great deal.

    Freedom to Marry?

    As is often the case, I have my cousin to thank for a story out of North Carolina, where I had no idea people were still allowed to marry at age 14. According to The Guardian, some 13 states allow children under the age of 16 to get married under certain circumstances, nine of which have no minimum age. In the Tar Heel State, 14-year-olds could marry with the consent of a judge if they were pregnant. What the … ?

    I know that the concept of childhood has greatly evolved in the last hundred years. And doesn’t every family have a sweet story about Grandma Mabel and PeePaw Pete who ran away together in their teens and stayed married for seventy years? But there is no legitimate reason for a 14 or 15-year-old girl (or boy) to make a lifetime commitment to someone else in this day and age, period. As for pregnant 14-year-olds, does anyone think a shotgun wedding in front of the local traffic judge is a good way to set the girl straight, so to speak? 

    Now the state legislature has changed the law to prohibit marriage for those under 16, and to require the 16 and 17-year-olds to get parental permission and keep an age gap of four years maximum. Governor Roy Cooper is about to sign this bill, but it makes you wonder why the lawmakers couldn’t just make age 18 the rule and leave it at that. You can’t vote or drink at 17, but you can still get married? Why?

    The irritating thing is that these are (many of) the same people who wanted gay men and lesbians to be banned from marriage completely and forever. No marriage for us, while little Suzy Smith with the Girl Scout cookies is free to tie the knot with that stringy guy who sometimes works for Dave at the gas station because, well, those crazy kids say they’re in love and it looks like they’re starting a little family to boot. Well, good luck to ‘em is all I’ll say. Reminds me of Grandma Mabel and PeePaw. Remember the story?

    Sweet Home Alabama

    So, here’s a tragic story about a lesbian couple murdered in some remote camping grounds outside of Moab, Utah. I was struck by this because it was headlined as “missing couple” found dead, with no reference to sexual orientation. Believe me, ten or twenty years ago this story would have been blasted as a “lesbian” murder, or at the very least “two women killed” at campground. The notion that “couple” is no longer automatically a heterosexual term is significant, I find.

    That said, the details were not very pleasant. Seems as if these women, Crystal, 38, and her wife Kyle, 24, led a bohemian life, wandering around in a van, nomadland-style, with no fixed address. Recently, they texted their friends that they had encountered some weird guy, and after that, crickets. They were found dead with multiple gunshot wounds. One of their friends told People magazine that the bad guys “might have taken their lives physically, but they are not going to put their love light out.” 

    Call me a cynic but, I’m sorry, whoever shot them did, in fact, “put their love light out.” They were killed and their “love light” was extinguished. Let’s not try to sugarcoat the situation. Was there a hate crime element? Stay tuned. 

    And speaking of lesbian couples, I was reading about the Montgomery, Alabama, city council’s 5–4 decision to reject an inclusive civil rights bill (and I was wondering, do we really have the mental space for this mean little slap in the face?) when I noticed a headline about former Miss America, and former Miss Alabama, Deirdre Downs. I know I’ve written about Downs before, but this time I can tell you that she and her wife Abbott are expecting a baby. 

    Dr. Downs, who came out of the closet during med school and who has an 11-year-old son with her former husband, is pregnant after IVF and is expecting a girl in early September. She was crowned Miss America in 2005. Oh, and Mobile, Alabama, is home to one of the last lesbian bars in the country. I know this because I am on a Google news page under the query “Montgomery Alabama gay,” where I have learned next to nothing about the Montgomery civil rights vote but lots about other Alabama things. It’s called “Herz.” The bar.

    Don’t Worry, Be Happy

    Check out the 15th LGBTQ Community Survey (from CMI Media, the Human Rights Campaign, and Wells Fargo) for a sense of what over 15,000 members of our favorite, fabulous community had to say for themselves, but take particular note of the fact that some 92 percent of us have had at least one vaccine shot. Even the reportedly hesitant Black community is still at 85 percent when it comes to LGBTQs, while those with just a high school degree were also up there at 87 percent. Why are we so wonderful? We are more likely to be urban, liberal, educated, and more amenable to medical interventions. And hey. Maybe we just don’t want to die right now.

    The survey extends to 76 pages, so I just breezed through it, but I did notice that only 23 percent of us have kids of any age, and most of these are women or transgender. This reminds me that I was intrigued by Pete Buttigieg and husband Chasten’s mysterious announcement that they have become parents.

    “For some time,” tweeted the Transportation Secretary, “Chasten and I have wanted to grow our family. We’re overjoyed to share that we’ve become parents! The process isn’t done yet and we’re thankful for the love, support, and respect for our privacy that has been offered to us. We can’t wait to share more soon.”

    Could the new fathers be waiting for formal adoption papers? Are they fostering? It sounds as if the little one, or ones, has been born. If so, I can see why they might hold back a bit, but surely, we could have a gender reveal. Guys? 

    Finally, I found it interesting that the number one health concern for men and women under 55, both transgender and cisgender, was depression or other mental health concerns. Yet only about half the baby boomers listed depression or mental health as a main concern. Instead, the guys were worried about heart attacks or strokes while the women were (still) fretting over their weight. 

    Gonzo Gender Dysphoria

    I conclude this week with an apology for overlooking a message from our friends at One Million Moms, who alerted us to a disturbing episode of Muppet Babies, which aired on July 23. In the show, the character “Gonzo” wanted to wear a gown to the ball rather than go as a knight, which was the male option. With the help of a magic rat, Gonzo arrived in a beautiful dress and the other characters apologized for trying to impose gender rules. 

    “It wasn’t very nice of us to tell you what to wear to our ball,” said Miss Piggy, while another character told Gonzo: “You’re our friend, and we love you any way you are.” In the end, all the characters were back at the ball where some of the females were wearing the knight outfits. 

    “This is outrageous that Disney Junior is normalizing gender dysphoria to young children,” exclaimed Monica Cole with grammatical imprecision. “With such a liberal push in children’s entertainment, it is obvious where Disney Junior stands … . This program makes it clear that Disney Junior has an LGBTQ agenda that it is forcing on extremely young audiences.” 

    It’s outrageous! Huff with me!

    arostow@aol.com

    Published on August 26, 2021