When I was growing up, there were few things as exciting to me as a trip to the Regency Mall in Racine, Wisconsin, for lunch at Chick-fil-A.

My family didn’t have much money then so eating out was a rare treat. But when the trip included waffle fries ― an ingenious food so alien to southern Wisconsin in the early ’80s that they seemed like small, salty miracles to my tiny, still-soft mind ― it was almost too much for me to take.

Still, as delicious as the Georgia-based company’s fried foods were, they weren’t my only weakness as a kid. When I wasn’t fantasizing about grease, I was spending my young swishy days doing a really shitty job of hiding my insatiable hunger for other boys.

I was the kind of gay that doesn’t go unnoticed. It wasn’t until I escaped to college that I finally began to accept who and what I was. Once I did, I vowed to never let anyone make me feel like I was less than them simply because I lusted after and loved other men.

So you can imagine how upsetting it was for me when Chick-fil-A’s president, Dan Cathy, proudly came out as a homophobe in 2012 by claiming, “We are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

Even worse, the company put its money where Cathy’s vile mouth was by donating millions of dollars each year to anti-LGBTQ organizations via its Winshape nonprofit organization.

As disappointed as I was to learn the chain I had loved as a child was working to make my life and the lives of my fellow queers a living hell, I was heartened by the swift response from the queer community and its supporters. For several years, the only time you’d catch an LGBTQ person or an ally at Chick-fil-A was for a protest

And then ... something changed.

For some strange reason I still don’t fully understand, some queer people and their friends and families began eating at Chick-fil-A again and are still eating there. 

I’d venture a guess that Cathy’s somewhat conciliatory yet ridiculously inadequate non-apology and the company’s (totally bogus) promise to stop donating to anti-LGBTQ groups (while it may have ceased funding some groups, it’s certainly still bankrolling others) may have made some people feel justified in returning to the chain. People can be disturbingly indignant and defiant when faced with giving up their beloved chicken sandwiches.

If you care about queer people ― or you yourself are queer ― you have absolutely no business eating at Chick-fil-A. Ever. It’s really that straightforward.

When Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was called out earlier this week for tweeting about eating at Chick-fil-A during Pride Month, I was shocked to see how many queer people and their allies not only didn’t care but went out of their way to defend the fast food chain.

Excuses I’ve heard for continuing to eat at Chick-fil-A range from a nonchalant dismissal of the issue (“In the grand scheme of things, eating there isn’t really that big of a deal and we have bigger problems to worry about”) to an all-or-nothing paradigm (“I can’t possibly avoid all of the problematic companies out there, so why should I worry about this one?”) to a simple admittance that the siren song of the company’s kitchens has proven impossible to ignore (“I know I shouldn’t eat there but it’s just too good not to!”).

To all of these flimsy justifications, I say, “Bullshit.” If you care about queer people ― or you yourself are queer ― you have absolutely no business eating at Chick-fil-A. Ever. It’s really that straightforward.

If you’re arguing there are other (arguably bigger) fish (or, in this case, chicken) to fry, you may not be wrong. However, I think you’re underestimating my (and probably your) ability to be angry about ― and take action against ― more than one target at once. Just because Chick-fil-A may not be as “bad” (in your view) as the Trump administration (or countless other folks or corporations), that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t challenge Chick-fil-A on its anti-queer stance while continuing to call out and work against other offensive and/or dangerous entities. 

Any effort or energy you dedicate to not filling Chick-fil-A’s queerphobic coffers does not compromise your ability to simultaneously do the same with other opponents. Surely, like me, you have enough ― and are, sadly, constantly generating more ― outrage to spread around whenever and wherever it may be needed. 

If you’re arguing that virtually every company doing business today is problematic in one way or another, you’re not wrong there either. (If you want to find other anti-queer culprits, check out the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.) But when a corporation is wafting its anti-queer stance directly under your nose, as Chick-fil-A has and continues to do, not giving them more money to use against us is a no-brainer. 

I’m not saying that in order to be a “good” person or ensure you don’t support despicable businesses, you have to hermetically seal yourself inside your home and only eat food you’ve hydroponically grown and only wear clothes you’ve woven on a loom built using recycled popsicle sticks and the stickier variety of bodily fluids you have handy. I’m saying that when you know a company is anti-queer ― and, what’s more, when a company like Chick-fil-A goes out of its way to tell you as much ― you shouldn’t support them no matter how delicious a reason you can order up.

It sucks that we can’t have waffle fries. But you know what sucks even more? Not having equal rights and contributing to the profits of a company that wants to ensure you never do.

Yeah, I know, I know ― it sucks that we can’t have waffle fries. But you know what sucks even more? Not having equal rights and contributing to the profits of a company that wants to ensure you never do because it believes you’re fundamentally disordered or unnatural or sinful or some delightful combination of all three.

Am I saying Chick-fil-A and everyone who works for it is evil? Of course not. The corporation has done a lot of good and even donated food to volunteers giving blood in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre (though, ironically, most gay men weren’t allowed to participate in that charitable effort).  But none of its generosity changes the fact that the chain has taken and continues to take an anti-queer stance and still donates large sums of money to anti-queer groups.

Ultimately, if you’re going out of your way to find a reason to continue to patronize Chick-fil-A, you might want to examine why you need to expend so much energy to do so.

No one likes to hear that they’re doing something wrong ― or that they can’t have something that brings them immense pleasure ― but that’s still exactly what I’m telling you.

It’s time to choose where your loyalties lie ― with your community or with your stomach. I’m hoping you can find another restaurant to satiate your chicken sandwich cravings. If all else fails, there’s always this recipe to make a copycat version of the Chick-fil-A favorite at home. Sure, it won’t be exactly the same but it’s pretty damn close, and I promise it’ll go down a whole lot easier without all of that nasty queerphobia you’ve been ingesting.

The Kittery School District and the community are making a positive difference in creating a policy that shows transgender students they will be treated equally, with dignity and respect.

Ensuring equal rights for all people should be a simple concept and universally embraced. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Kittery’s new policy is thankfully part of a growing trend that includes a new law passed in New Hampshire this year.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the Kittery policy is how the school administration, School Committee members, parents and students came together to make it happen, speaking out with emotion and compassion and addressing opposition that shows a great deal of education is still needed in our society on transgender issues.

It was heartening to see Traip Academy students William Heffron and Jeremy Clifford address the School Committee before it approved the transgender policy. Heffron said his transgender friends are “the kindest, gentlest ... least dangerous people I know.” School Committee member Anne Gilbert said the committee’s “first and foremost responsibility is to protect our students, all of our students.” Committee member Kim Bedard was in tears as she spoke about meeting a transgender person years ago, shaping her views.

The policy, which passed unanimously, says Kittery schools will honor the wishes of students regarding gender identification, names and pronouns. This includes school identifications, classroom rosters, certificates, diplomas and yearbooks. It also states students can use restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities corresponding with the gender identity they assert at school.

That last part is what fear-mongering opponents of transgender equity laws and policies call out every time. It happened again at Kittery’s School Committee meeting Tuesday night, when resident Susan Wiswell raised concerns about a boy pretending to identify as a girl so he could go in a girls locker room and sexually assault someone. These “bathroom myths” are always presented in the scariest way possible by people who don’t want to grant equal rights to all people.

The truth is sexual assault is illegal, of course, and remains illegal, and we as a society simply need to allow people to go to the bathroom when nature calls. That’s it. Schools don’t allow assault or any inappropriate behavior in bathrooms and locker rooms, and a transgender policy doesn’t change that. In New Hampshire, when this issue was raised, Dover Police Chief Anthony Colarusso, who recently retired, testified that statistically transgender people are far more likely to be victims of assault than assailants. Many schools in our states and around the nation have had policies similar to what Kittery is adopting for a long time. This includes Portsmouth, which adopted its policy in 2016.

In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday signed into law a nondiscrimination bill passed earlier this year. “Discrimination – in any form – is unacceptable and runs contrary to New Hampshire’s Live Free or Die spirit,” Sununu said in a statement he released about signing the bill. “If we really want to be the Live Free or Die state, we must ensure that New Hampshire is a place where every person, regardless of their background, has an equal and full opportunity to pursue their dreams and to make a better life for themselves and their families.”

New Hampshire already specifically prohibits discrimination based on age, sex, race, creed, color, marital status, familial status, physical or mental disability, national origin or sexual orientation. Now “gender identity” will be added to that list, and New Hampshire will join all other New England states with similar laws.

The New Hampshire law is a simple change that makes a big difference. This change and the Kittery school policy send a much-needed positive message about humanity and equality in our communities.

We need laws and policies that give everyone equal protections.

A CrossFit spokesman was fired after landing in hot water for spouting homophobic remarks on Twitter.

Russell Berger, the global fitness company’s former chief knowledge officer, expressed support for an Indianapolis CrossFit gym’s decision to cancel an LGBTQ pride workout, calling it a “sin.”

“As someone who personally believes celebrating ‘pride’ is a sin, I’d like to personally encourage #CrossFitInfiltrate for standing by their convictions and refusing to host an @indypride workout,” Berger wrote in a tweet. “The intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing.”

Berger’s remarks followed a major fallout among CrossFit Infiltrate members over the cancellation of the celebratory workout.

Gym manager Johnnie Martin sent a notice to members saying the gym’s owner, Brandon Lowe, had decided to cancel the event.

“We believe that true health forever can only be found within humility, not pride," the note read CNBC reported.

The announcement stirred members to action.

On Sunday, June 3, member Ryan Nix, who had organized the Pride workout, blasted the gym’s decision on Facebook.

“Last week we received an email from the gym cancelling our PRIDE workout. We emailed the owner since it seemed that there was an issue with people who may be LGBT. You can see from his response that there is,” Nix wrote.

He added that the gym’s coaches and general manager quit over the owner’s stance.

“Many of us are leaving the gym due to the owners. Please tell your friends not to join this place,” Nix wrote.

As a result, the gym closed.

Lowe weighed in to say, “The unfortunate line that is being read about the gym grossly misrepresents what CrossFit Infiltrate stands for and what it believes. The majority of the reviews and statements being read about the gym largely point out that Infiltrate’s community has been incredible and welcoming and that the decision not to host an Indy Pride event is the reason we are called bigots or discriminative.”

CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman took to Twitter to express support for his gay members following the incident.

“I am crazy proud of the gay community in CrossFit,” he said, according to the branded fitness regimen’s official Twitter account.

He referred to the incident, saying: “The whole company is upset,” BuzzFeed reported.

 
 

Lambda Legal this morning filed a federal lawsuit against the State of Alaska on behalf of Jennifer Fletcher, a state legislative librarian who was forced to pay out-of-pocket for medically necessary surgical treatment because the state health insurance plan prohibits such coverage only for transgender state employees.

"Jennifer Fletcher was denied coverage for medically necessary treatment specifically because she is transgender. This is unlawful and stigmatizing discrimination that jeopardizes the health of hardworking state employees," said Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn.

"The state employee health care program – AlaskaCare – covers medically necessary treatment for all state employees except transgender employees. That’s textbook discrimination by any standard."

"The state employee health care program – AlaskaCare – covers medically necessary treatment for all state employees except transgender employees. That’s textbook discrimination by any standard."

“All that I am asking is that the State of Alaska stop discriminating against people like myself,” Fletcher said.

“My coworkers are able to receive coverage for their care, but coverage for transition-related care is denied.  This sends a clear message that the State does not value me, and does not consider me equal to its other employees, by forcing me to pay out of pocket for my medically necessary care.  How is this not discriminatory, when equivalent care is routinely provided to other state employees?”

Jennifer Fletcher is 36-year-old resident of Juneau, Alaska, who works as a legislative librarian for the State of Alaska. She has been working for Alaska since 2012 and was promoted to legislative librarian in 2014.

Assigned male sex at birth, she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2014.  In consultation with health care professionals, Fletcher started hormone therapy and transitioned to living openly as the woman that she is.

The AlaskaCare plan contains a blanket exclusion of transition-related surgical treatment, which has existed in the plan since at least 1979. Because of the exclusion, Fletcher had to pay out of her own pocket for surgical treatment in 2017. 

Beginning in 2018, the AlaskaCare plan began covering transition-related hormone therapy, recognizing that such treatment is medically necessary, but continues to categorically prohibit coverage for transition-related surgical treatment, even though it can also be medically necessary.

In its lawsuit, Lambda Legal argues that the State of Alaska is violating the sex discrimination prohibition of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

In March, 2018, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that the State of Alaska had violated Title VII.

"Whether your insurance will cover medically necessary treatment should not depend on who you are," added Lambda Legal Counsel Tara Borelli.

“The State itself recognizes that transition-related care is medically necessary, which is why it covers hormone therapy. The only reason for this lingering blanket exclusion against surgical treatment is irrational discrimination.”

All mainstream medical associations including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association recognize that transition-related surgical treatment can be medically necessary for an individual. The AMA and other medical organizations have called for an end to discriminatory exclusions of medical care in public and private health insurance policies.

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of an anti-gay baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in a test of the country’s religious freedom laws. The court ruled 7-2 in favor of the baker.

Only Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor opposed the narrow ruling in favor of the baker.

The narrow ruling does not grant Christians a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people, but instead is tailored to specifically address the case that was in front of the court.

In this case, plaintiffs alleged that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed animus against baker Jack Phillips instead of ruling impartially. Members of the commission had suggested that Phillips was claiming religious freedom specifically so he could discriminate, and had not given a fair consideration to the bakery’s claims.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote in most other LGBT cases that have come before the court in recent years, voted with the majority and wrote the ruling.

Today’s ruling chips aways at one of America’s most basic values for the last 50 years – the freedom to expect that a business will serve all customers without discrimination.

While the Court’s decision does not create a new license to discriminate, it also does not address the discrimination that millions of Americans still face. In more than half the country, our state laws do not explicitly protect LGBT Americans from discrimination in stores and restaurants, in the workplace, or in housing.

“The court reversed the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision based on concerns unique to the case but reaffirmed its longstanding rule that states can prevent the harms of discrimination in the marketplace, including against LGBT people.” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU.

Experts expect religious right groups to try to use the ruling to undermine local and state nondiscrimination protections nationwide.

“This case was never just about a wedding cake. It was about all people– no matter who they are – having the right to celebrate their love without facing discrimination,” DNC Chair Tom Perez said in an emailed statement.

“The Democratic Party believes that no individual has a license to discriminate. We believe in the dignity of every human being. And we will continue to fight for equality for LGBTQ people in all areas of our society – from housing and health care, to bathrooms and boardrooms, to bakeries and the ballot box.”

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