Meet 8 LGBT Aides Who Climbed the Hill

Meet 8 LGBT Aides Who Climbed the Hill

Lingering inequality, coming out to your boss — high-ranking political aides have faced it.

The Capitol may still be a “heteronormative” place where some wonder, “Am I commanding enough?” But LGBT staffers run media shops, committees and offices.

Now these Hill climbers speak out about how to love your job while bringing your “full self” to work.

Robert Edmonson , 33, chief of staff, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi ’s, D-Calif., personal office: “I was first a House page for my Texas congressman at the time, former member Chet Edwards . My second week was actually 9/11, so it was a very fascinating time to be in Washington, D.C., and just had a really profound effect on me.”

Julie Tagen , chief of staff to Rep. Jamie Raskin , D-Md.: “My first job on the Hill was in 1989. I worked for Paul Kanjorski. He was the chair of the Human Resources Subcommittee of the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee, which doesn’t even exist anymore.”

Wyatt Larkin , 27, digital media director for Sen. Mark Warner , D-Va.: “I started out as an intern for congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema , who is my member of Congress from home. She is the first out bisexual member of Congress. I identify as bisexual. That was totally not part of the equation as to why I started working for her, but it was certainly a very, very welcoming place.”

Mitchell Rivard , 28, chief of staff to Rep. Dan Kildee , D-Mich.: “I came to Capitol Hill in 2011 as a press intern for Leader Pelosi, and it was with the help of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. They have a program called the Victory Congressional Internship program that helps place LGBTQ interns on Capitol Hill.”

Michelle Mittler , 30, director of scheduling for Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer , D-N.Y.: “I moved to D.C. originally for grad school, and I was one of the very lucky people who two weeks later happened to have a job. It was with Paul Tonko of Albany.”

Drew Hammill , 40, deputy chief of staff and head of communications to Pelosi: “I work for Nancy Pelosi , and she’s been for marriage equality since she came to Congress in 1987. It’s different than it was maybe 16 years ago when I started on the Hill, but there couldn’t be a more supportive, inclusive boss.”

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Bryce McKibben , 31, senior policy adviser for Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Democrats: “I rarely if ever have any challenges internally. I have, however, experienced challenges when more conservative junior staff in other offices and some lobbyists need to think more carefully about the language they use. And I’ve encountered stereotypes where people assume you’re not strong or tough enough to tackle a negotiation, and they’re always mistaken. I believe being openly gay has helped me recognize and understand additional perspectives, and it makes me a better staffer.”

Mittler : “I don’t know if I would call it a daily challenge, but on Capitol Hill in general, everyone is assumed to be heteronormative unless explicitly told otherwise. That can be an uncomfortable thing to correct a colleague or someone who you’re meeting in a professional environment.”

[ Latino Staffers Who Call the Shots on Capitol Hill ]

Tré Easton , 27, legislative assistant to Sen. Patty Murray , D-Wash.: “Like many gay men, I’m very self-conscious about my voice and mannerisms. Am I commanding enough? Does this group of presumably heterosexual men take me seriously? Are my hands moving too much? It’s a daily decision to try and worry about those superficial things less and to instead focus on providing good work for my boss and for the constituents. Those are the things that truly matter in these jobs.”

Tagen : “The biggest challenge was, because we weren’t legally allowed to get married — now I am married, I have a wife and children — that we had to have separate health insurance. My wife at the time had to get insurance through her company, and I had to get it through the Hill. For me, that was just kind of discrimination. It had nothing to do with my employer.”

Edmonson : “I’ve been incredibly lucky to have such an incredibly supporting office, coming all the way from the leader and her decades of involvement in LGBT rights. I actually came out in the office … one of the first people I told even before I told my mom was my chief of staff, and she was just incredibly supportive.”

Rivard : “Figure out what excites you and drives you to get out of bed every morning. Doing what you love makes work and life a lot easier, I’ve found. The second piece of advice that I usually give is to say yes. Say yes to things and the new opportunities that come across your desk.”

[ Black Women Movers and Shakers on Capitol Hill ]

Larkin : “There’s a real community, and everybody’s looking out for each other. Seek that out and be a part of it.”

Hammill : “I think interning is a really solid way to start. I know it’s not always attractive to everyone, but I worked part time while I interned, made it work. It was a slog, but it was well worth the hard work.”

Easton : “For me, being LGBT is an aspect of my identity that I refuse to mute, encumber, or in any way deny. I’m of the belief that if you can’t bring your full self to work, then you’re not able to bring the fullness of your perspective and experience to help form policy and shape public opinion.”

[ Asian American and Pacific Islander Capitol Hill Staffers to Watch ]

Tagen : “Just to work hard, love what you do, be willing to put the time and effort into the institution.”

Mittler : “Longevity stands for a lot, so just staying sometimes can get you further than you might think.”

Edmonson : “I also serve as president of the LGBT congressional staff association, so come and join the association because we are really dedicated to helping LGBT staff have a home on the Hill.”

McKibben : “Be politely persistent, tell your story, and find your people. Your people are those who will be there reliably for you in your career or job search — the ones always willing to extend a helping hand.”

Reporter’s Notebook: Democratic Senators Seeking Re-Election Have Less Diverse Staffs

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Freemasons to accept transgender women – if they joined as men

Freemasons to accept transgender women – if they joined as men

The Freemasons are three centuries old (Carl Court/Getty) The Freemasons have allowed women to be members – but only if they legally change their gender to male while they’re in the society.

After 301 years as a male-only group, the United Grand Lodge of England has told its 200,000 members that anyone who transitions after joining will not be kicked out, as “a Freemason who after initiation ceases to be a man does not cease to be a Freemason.”

Freemasons hit the headlines in February after the group No To Freemasonry and Homosexuality attempted to stop Rihanna’s visit to Senegal because they believed the pro-LGBT singer had ties to Freemasonry and planned to promote homosexuality for the Illuminati. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, the 10th Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, is shown the Grand Master’s Chair (Carl Court/Getty) The Freemasons’ new guidelines, which were issued to all lodges on July 17, also allow transgender men to join, according to The Times .

The group will insist that members continue to address each other with the title ‘Brother’ even if they are trans women, meaning that someone who has become Jessica Reynolds will be known as Brother Jessica or Brother Reynolds.

However, the society will allow trans members to choose between stereotypically male or female clothing, with a “smart dark skirt and top” permitted. Freemasons’ Hall, where the United Grand Lodge of England meets (poppet with a camera/flickr) The change in guidelines brings the Freemasons into line with current legislation.

The United Grand Lodge of England has been contacted for comment.

February’s campaign by No To Freemasonry and Homosexuality was far from the first time that an anti-gay group or individual has attacked Freemasons and LGBT people in the same breath. A painting celebrating the opening of Freemasons’ Hall in 1784 (Hulton Archive/Getty) In 2013, a lecturer at Newham College in east London was sacked after admitting to being prejudiced and saying gay people were like the “Ku Klux Klan, the Freemasons and the Nazis.”

Dr Mark Walcott, a former head of performing arts at the college, said all these groups wanted to boost their “memberships” by “indoctrinating people.”

And in 1998, when Lord Tebbit wrote about Peter Mandelson being outed as gay, he said: “In a world where Freemasons are being asked to identify themselves as such in order that the public may judge if they are improperly doing one another favours, surely it is important that homosexuals in a position to do each other favours should similarly be outed?” A member exits Freemasons’ Hall (Tee Cee/flickr) These gay conspiracy remarks were not out of character for the Lord, who in May this year described a local pastor as a “Sodomite” after finding out he was gay.

Norman Tebbit, an 87-year-old former Thatcher minister, grew upset when he discovered a dean at his local church, St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, was gay, vowing to snub ceremonies at the Church of England cathedral.

Farmers send livestock to slaughter early due to drought

Farmers send livestock to slaughter early due to drought

Dairy farmer Abi Reader has already sent four milking cows to slaughter and she’s planning to send four more as the cost of feeding them soars.

The record summer heatwave has put huge pressure on farmers like her.

Meat and milk producers, like salad and vegetable growers, say it is having a "crippling impact".

Their concerns are on the agenda at a "drought summit" where the president of the National Farmers’ Union will meet government representatives.

The NFU says it is "seeking urgent action" to address the impact of the dry weather, despite heavy rain in recent days, which has provided some potential relief.

Representatives of farming organisations, The Environment Agency, Natural England, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and farming charities RABI and Farming Community Network are expected to meet Secretary of State for the environment Michael Gove to discuss how to mitigate the impact on food producers.

Already farmers growing lettuce, peas and carrots have warned of shortages if the hot weather continues. The forecast is for high temperatures to return on Friday.

For livestock farmers the lack of rain means animals can’t just be put out to pasture as usual.

Near Cardiff in Wales, where Abi Reader farms her 180-strong milking herd, grass is usually green and lush throughout the summer, she says, but the heat has dried it to a crisp yellow.

It’s costing her £210 a day to keep them fed using silage and hay.

"We’re breaking into winter stocks, that’s the frightening thing," she says. It doesn’t make economic sense to feed so many.

So they’re "shedding passengers" – cutting down the number of mouths by sending cows to slaughter that would in better circumstances have continued milking. Two were cows that aborted calves due to the stress of the hot weather.

"We’ve lost a lot of money on them. The cheapest option is get rid of them and cut our losses," she says. In April Abi Reader’s fields were "green and lush" she says By July the fields were dry and not providing enough nutrients for her herd Ms Reader says she’s not the only farmer taking this course of action. It was hard to find a slot for them in abattoir, she says.

John O’Farrell, who runs an abattoir in Camarthenshire, Wales, says many farmers are culling animals earlier than they would normally, following a bad grass growing season due to the harsh weather in March, which delayed the start of outdoor grazing, followed by the heatwave.

"Our volume of work is considerably higher than we would expect at this time of year," he told BBC Radio Four’s Farming Today programme.

"Farmers are taking the view if the animals are to be culled it’s best to cull early."

The same factors are having an impact on beef and sheep herds too, according to Nick Allen from the British Meat Processors Association.

"The first thing we noticed was people sending lambs in for slaughter at slightly lighter weights than normal," he says. "The moment they’re running out of grass on the farm they get rid of them earlier."

He says if farmers go into winter short of feed and relying on expensive concentrates it will push up costs and could result in lower overall production of UK meat and milk.

"It could translate into meat being in shorter supply and prices having to go up because the cost of production is going to have to go up, without a shadow of a doubt," he added. UK heatwave 2018: The winners and losers

Heatwave threatens shortage of peas

Lettuce shortage ‘imminent’

At Wednesday’s meeting, National Farmers’ Union president Minette Batters will raise a range of issues resulting from the lack of rainfall.

She will say the weather has created "extra volatility and pressures" on farmers and will discuss what can be done to help mitigate the impact of the ongoing heatwave in particular in terms of ensuring water supplies to farms.

The NFU would like to see more flexibility for farmers to apply for a licence from the Environment Agency to take water from rivers to irrigate crops. It would also like to see more opportunities for access to public supply water when there is spare capacity in the system.

"I know many areas of the country experienced thunderstorms and heavy rain last weekend, said Ms Batters.

"Unfortunately, that hasn’t mitigated the many issues farmers are experiencing currently from availability of water and lack of forage and feed," she said.

Vancouver Pride Parade marshal chronicled LGBT movement for over 40 years

Vancouver Pride Parade marshal chronicled LGBT movement for over 40 years

An anti-violence rally takes place in Vancouver in 1979. This is one of the thousands of photos in the B.C. Gay and Lesbian Archives, curated by Ron Dutton. (B.C. Gay and Lesbian Archives) One of the people who will be at the head of this year’s Pride Parade in Vancouver has chronicled the LGBT movement in the city for over 40 years.

Ron Dutton created the B.C. Gay and Lesbian Archives in 1976 and amassed over 750,000 items over the years: photos, posters, audio recordings, videos and more.

"To be honest, I was a little shy about the whole matter," Dutton told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko about being named a marshall on Monday.

"It’s a humbling experience but no civic institution like an archive is the work of a single individual. Ever. It’s the work … over many years, of many, many people.

"So to be singled out and told you’ll be at the front of the parade feels a little perplexing to me."

Dutton says far from being his project, the archives are only possible because of stories and memorabilia shared with him by LGBT persons, historians and writers who have chronicled their struggle and the organizations and movements that have pushed for change over decades.

"I don’t want to take credit away from that effort," he said. "When you see me waving, there’s 200 people waving." Two people pose for a photo during the 1987 International Lesbian Week held in Vancouver. (B.C. Gay and Lesbian Archives) Growing number of boxes

Dutton described himself as a political "firebrand" in the early ’70s as the gay liberation movement took shape, but he felt their work needed to be preserved for posterity.

He says he started simply throwing items in boxes — which soon turned into hundreds of boxes — and then, he said "some order needed to be imposed upon it." That was the spark of the archives. Part of the collection of VHS tapes gathered by Ron Dutton and soon to be digitized. (B.C. Gay and Lesbian Archives) One of his commitments early on in the process, he said, was capturing the experiences of the "marginalized within marginalized communities: women, young people, seniors, ethnic and religious minorities and rural people.

"They often have the least money to even put out posters and handouts," Dutton explained. "They tend to be ignored." Big changes

Dutton says a lot has changed for the LGBT community in Vancouver since he’s been keeping the archives.

Many of the clubs and bars where gay people used to meet have closed but now social media has become a place for people to find others in the community.

That can be a positive in that it’s easier to make connections with people of a similar identity, Dutton says, but it’s also leading to a sense of isolation.

"You no longer have the diversity of a community to be a part of," he lamented.

The Vancouver Pride Parade takes place Aug. 5.

Listen to the full interview:

With files from CBC Radio One’s On The Coast

Australian diocese document calls for ‘inclusive church’ of ‘LGBT people,’ ‘women chaplains’

Australian diocese document calls for ‘inclusive church’ of ‘LGBT people,’ ‘women chaplains’

Shutterstock.com AUSTRALIA, July 31, 2018, ( LifeSiteNews ) – An Australian Catholic archdiocese has produced a working document about the "future of the Catholic Church in Australia” which calls for “women deacons and women chaplains,” “married priests,” and a “more inclusive church” that includes “LGBT people.”

The document was put out by the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn , led by Archbishop Christopher Prowse. It is part of the preparation for a countrywide Plenary Council to be held in 2020. The last such council was held 81 years ago.

The Plenary Council, what the bishops are calling the “highest form of gathering of local church and has legislative and governance authority,” is being held “so that we can dialogue about the future of the Catholic Church in Australia,” states the website about the event. The event is being promoted in the name of becoming a “synodal Church” called for by Pope Francis.

Four “listening and dialogue” sessions were held by the Central Deanery of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn in June, and were attended by nearly 300 people. Attendees were asked, “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”

The diocese summarised the responses in this way: “God is asking us to explore ways to reinvigorate in the Australian Church the sharing of the Gospel message.” Some of the responses included in the document, however, reveal a detachment from the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Among the sixteen different categories of responses were the following suggestions, quoted here verbatim: The ordination of married priests;

Women deacons and women chaplains should be considered;

Focus on developing a more inclusive church. God’s love is inclusive. The church has spent too much time excluding rather than including, eg, women, LGBT people, the divorced, people of other religions … Many people who have drifted away from the church feel intimidated to return by past traditions of the church;

A more active social justice stance from the church, more dialogue from the pulpit, more promotion of involvement by the laity in social justice matters. Church leaders should […] emphasis on the need to combat climate change as a fundamental social justice issue;

Leaders of other Christian churches should be invited to provide advice to the Plenary Council, especially on matters of church governance.

The document makes no mention of Jesus Christ, the centrality of the Eucharist in the lives of the faithful, and seems to emphasize an attraction to things of this world rather than the Kingdom of God obtained through Christ and his cross.

In the Frequently Asked Questions section on the website, one question states: “Does my voice, my experience, sharing my story really matter?”

The reply states: “Yes absolutely! Each of us is called as children of God to respond to Pope Francis’s invitation to become a ‘synodal’ Church – a Church of faith-filled people who speak boldly and with passion, and who listen deeply with an open and humble heart.”

Another answer to a question states that the agenda of the Plenary Council will be “formed in response to the dialogue and listening process” currently happening. “After an open and inclusive process of listening, dialogue, prayer and discernment, we will form the Council agenda in late 2019 and early 2020,” the website states.

Delegates chosen to attend the Plenary Council, including clergy and lay people, will be able to vote on what resolutions the Council adopts.

“These deliberative decisions are forwarded to Rome to ensure they are consistent with the universal teachings of the Catholic Church and then the legislation becomes binding for the Catholic Church in Australia,” states the website.

Contact information:

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
GPO Box 368
Canberra ACT 2601
Australia

Ph: (02) 6201 9845
Online contact form here .

Archbishop Christopher Prowse
GPO Box 3089
Canberra ACT 2601
Australia

Phone: 02 6239 9811
Email: archbishop@cg.org.au

Harris, Carper introduce bill to include LGBT questions on U.S. Census

Harris, Carper introduce bill to include LGBT questions on U.S. Census

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Calif.) have introduced the Census Equality Act. (Photos public domain) In the wake of the Trump administration’s decision not to allow Americans to identify as LGBT on the U.S. Census, two Democratic senators have introduced legislation that would require those questions in major federal surveys.

Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) announced on Tuesday they had introduced in the U.S. Senate the Census Equality Act , which would begin the process of adding questions allowing respondents to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity in both the decennial U.S. Census and the annual American Community Survey.

Harris said in a statement the legislation is necessary because “the spirit of the census is that no one should go uncounted and no one should be invisible.”

“We must expand data collections efforts to ensure the LGBTQ community is not only seen, but fully accounted for in terms of government resources provided,” Harris said. “This information can also provide us with better tools to enforce civil rights protections for a community that is too often discriminated against.”

Traditionally, the decennial U.S. Census has been a more streamlined questionnaire that seeks primarily to ascertain sheer numbers of the U.S. population. The annual American Community Survey, on the other hand, is longer, has more detailed questions and has been the focus of LGBT groups for some in efforts to include LGBT questions on federal surveys.

Carper said the legislation will assist in efforts “to ensure the information collected by the Census accurately reflects who we are as a society and that everyone is counted fairly.”

“Today, despite the fact that roughly 10 million Americans identify as LGBTQ, the community is left unrepresented on the census,” Carper said. “In order for our government and the businesses that drive our economy to work for the American people, they must have the most accurate and comprehensive data on those they serve.”

Last year, after initially indicating LGBT questions would be included in the American Community Survey in a report to Congress, the Trump administration immediately corrected that, claiming it was a mistake and announcing they wouldn’t be included.

The reversal ignited a firestorm among LGBT rights supporters who accused the Trump administrating of trying to erase LGBT people. Harris and Carper had sought answers from the Trump administration on the reversal in a joint letter before introducing their legislation a year later.

The decision to exclude questions allowing U.S. Census respondents to identify as LGBT stands in contrast to the Trump administration’s decision to include questions asking respondents if they’re U.S. citizens — a decision resoundingly criticized by civil rights groups as an attempt to single out undocumented immigrants.

The Census Equality Act would require the secretary of commerce to expand data collection efforts of the Census Bureau to include collection of data collection on the sexual orientation and gender identity of Americans.

The bill requires the Census Bureau to begin an implementation plan of LGBT questions no later than one year after its signed into law. The decennial census would be required to include LGBT questions no later than 2030 and the American Community Survey would be required to include them no later than 2020.

One section of the legislation explicitly instructs the Census Bureau to maintain the same level of confidentiality for the responses to the LGBT questions that the agency uses with sensitive information.

A vast array of pro-LGBT groups are on the record in support of the legislation, including the National LGBTQ Task Force, the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights and the Human Rights Campaign.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said in a statement the legislation “will put the Census Bureau back on the path it initiated two years ago to count LGBTQ people.”

“We call on members of Congress to support a full, fair, and accurate Census by becoming co-sponsors of the Census Equality Act and opposing efforts to add an untested citizenship question to the Census,” Carey said.

The Task Force indicated in a statement the inclusion of LGBT question in the U.S. Census and American Community Survey is important because Congress allocates and distributes $800 billion each year to programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Section 8 housing vouchers and foster care based on the findings.

David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement the legislation is important to “help address the LGBTQ community’s underrepresentation in federal data collection efforts.”

“It’s absolutely critical that we have the hard data needed to find solutions and address the unique challenges Americans face based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Stacy said. “The Census and American Community Survey are crucial tools to meet these needs.”

Although no questions allowing respondents to identify as LGBT will on the 2020 Census, the agency announced earlier this year in a report to Congress it would implement to allow same-sex couples identify themselves and differentiate themselves from different-sex couples. But that move would only allow LGBT people identify themselves in the U.S. Census if they’re in a same-sex relationship.

The Washington Blade has placed a request in with the Census Bureau seeking comment on the legislation.

Trump admin vows to stop punishing countries that oppose homosexuality; LGBT activists outraged

Trump admin vows to stop punishing countries that oppose homosexuality; LGBT activists outraged

U.S. Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney Flickr WASHINGTON, D.C., July 31, 2018 ( LifeSiteNews ) — Pro-homosexual voices are up in arms over remarks by a Trump administration official pledging to end the Obama-era practice of using aid to influence foreign nation’s policies on abortion and homosexuality.

U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director Mick Mulvaney addressed the State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom on July 25, CNS News reported , during which he expressed disgust that “U.S. taxpayer dollars are used to discourage Christian values in other democratic countries.” “It was stunning to me that my government under a previous administration would go to folks in sub-Saharan Africa and say, ‘We know that you have a law against abortion, but if you enforce that law, you’re not going to get any of our money,’” Mulvaney explained. “‘We know you have a law against gay marriage, but if you enforce that law, we’re not going to give you any money.’”

“Persecution oftentimes stops far short of life-and-death matters (…) That is a different type of religious persecution that I never expected to see,” he said.

“There are a lot of people in this government who just want to see things done differently,” Mulvaney assured the crowd.

Despite the fact that the only specific examples Mulvaney cited were laws protecting preborn babies and rejecting same-sex “marriage,” numerous left-wing and pro-LGBT websites claimed he was defending laws that imprison or execute citizens for homosexuality.

“Mulvaney’s portrayal of punishing people over their marriage laws is either intentionally deceptive or unintentionally ignorant,” ThinkProgress LGBTQ Editor Zack Ford claimed , citing examples such as Ugandan efforts to enact the death penalty for gays. Towerload and PinkNews released similar stories.

“Mulvaney said that the Obama administration had gone too far in trying to promote equal rights, such as President Barack Obama saying he would put an emphasis on the importance of LGBTQ rights in a visit to Kenya in 2015,” Bailey Vogt at Metro Weekly wrote . “Kenya currently punishes homosexuality with up to 14 years in prison.”

In fact, Mulvaney does not specifically invoke Uganda or Kenya; he only recalls discussing the matter with “a large group of men and women from sub-Saharan Africa.”

As for the substance of Mulvaney’s remarks, Breitbart’s Robert Kraychik noted that Barack Obama spent “tens of millions” of dollars to block “anti-LGBT” measures abroad and in 2015 earmarked more than half a billion to assist “marginalized groups” and “support gay communities and causes.”

The previous administration also bragged about providing more than $200 million to the pro-abortion UN Population Fund (UNFPA) since 2009, in the name of promoting “reproductive health.”

Even the New York Times reported in 2015 that the Obama administration’s aggressiveness in promoting homosexuality abroad may have done “more harm than good,” provoking defensiveness in foreign governments and electorates that led to harsher laws than would have otherwise been enacted.

Rev. George Ehusani, former secretary general of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, told the Times that a 2014 Nigerian law imposing jail time on participation in same-sex “marriages” or civil unions, gay clubs, and “amorous” public displays of homosexuality “would not have come in the form in which it did” without U.S. pressure.

LGBT commentators’ latest attack on the Trump administration is particularly ironic in light of pro-family activists’ assessment that President Donald Trump’s record on LGBT issues is decidedly mixed , praising his commitment to religious liberty while criticizing him for accepting same-sex “marriage” and various displays of gay “pride.”

Hurricane Library staff say they were censored after displaying LGBT-themed material

Hurricane Library staff say they were censored after displaying LGBT-themed material

Video

HURRICANE (News4Utah) – Librarians in southern Utah are speaking out – telling News4Utah they’ve been censored after displaying LGBT-themed material.

"I feel that acknowledging a group of people should not be controversial, especially when they are already within your community, it’s just education," said Ammon Treasure, Library Clerk at the Hurricane Library.

Employees at the Hurricane Public library say it started in 2017 when during Pride month, an LGBT display at the front of the library received complaints.

"We were asked to never do another LGBTQ display again," said Treasure.

This summer during Pride month, the Hurricane Library’s display instead focused on diversity, but employees wanted to do something more and designed a button to wear.

"There are a lot of people who have yet to come out of the closet, or are unsure of the environment we’re in whether or not they’re going to be ridiculed … to ask certain questions, we wanted them to make sure they knew it was ok. … that is is a neutral space, we wanted to be able to provide all of our community with information that they need," said Treasure.

Washington County Library Director Joel Tucker says he continued to receive complaints.

"I’ve been the Library Director for 5 years, and the pride displays and the pride buttons were the only complaints that I’ve ever received in regards to a display," said Tucker.

"Even Orem Utah, their library put on their website, on their newsletter, It’s Pride Month," said Sarah Hall, Reference Librarian at the Hurricane Library.

"I did get a complaint about the buttons because it seemed we were advocating for that position again… I reviewed the policy, specifically the dress and appearance policy … it didn’t seem to fall in line … the policy is really professional, and really, buttons kind of remind me of TGIFridays," said Tucker.

"If we had been censored on anything, I think we need to speak up because we are a library, and legally we’re not supposed to do that. We’re supposed to give information and make information available to everyone. Regardless of topic, whether I believe it, or not," said Hall.

"We celebrate diversity and love the differences that we as people have, but I do as a library want to be more neutral on how we talk about and display topics," said Tucker.

We spoke to the Salt Lake City Public Library to see how their policies may differ. They share with ABC4 they encourage their staff to wear buttons that express their interests and expertise.

Brexit: What would ‘no deal’ mean for aviation?

Brexit: What would 'no deal' mean for aviation?

If the UK leaves the EU without any withdrawal agreement, EU rules and regulations will, very abruptly, stop applying to the UK after 29 March next year. So what would that mean in terms of planes being able to take off and land?

Well, the UK would no longer be part of the EU’s single aviation market, which is the basis for flights in and out of the country at the moment, not just to the EU itself, but to other countries with which the EU has a deal – such as the United States and Canada.

In all, the EU governs direct UK aviation access to 44 other countries.

Of course, you can always negotiate new agreements, but access would start at a pretty low level and negotiations take time.

That’s why a sudden no-deal scenario is so alarming to the industry, a point that was recognised back in October 2017 by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

"It is theoretically conceivable in a no-deal scenario that there will be no air traffic moving between the UK and EU on 29 March 2019," he said.

"But I don’t think anybody seriously believes that is where we will get to."

As always, the devil would be in the detail. FlyBe says it hopes "common sense will prevail" in the Brexit negotiations The UK would no longer be governed by the regulations of the European Aviation Safety Agency, which deal with all sorts of things like maintenance and common standards.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority could, in theory, take on all the same rules, and hire lots of new staff to implement and oversee them, but it would also have to convince other international regulators to recognise it – another time-consuming process.

And if you’re following EU aviation rules in full, you basically have to accept a role for EU courts like the European Court of Justice as well.

Of course, plenty of "third countries" have their own separate deals with the EU and given time, the UK could do the same. But we keep coming back to that ticking clock. No Brexit deal ‘could ground aircraft’

Reality Check: What would ‘no deal’ look like?

Reality Check: What does the Brexit White Paper reveal?

‘Ultimate worry’

All of which makes it difficult for airlines that are already selling tickets for flights after Brexit.

"Right now we will continue to sell in the hope and belief that when a conclusion comes to the Brexit scenario, common sense will prevail and people will realise the need for intra-Europe travel," said Roy Kinnear, the chief commercial officer of FlyBe.

"The biggest fear has to be if at the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute there is a complete cessation and breakdown, and a shutdown of air travel between the UK and Europe. That is the ultimate worry." RyanAir will soon add a "Brexit clause" to any tickets sold for travel after 29 March And airlines, just like many other industries, are having to make contingency plans to prepare for the worst.

From September, when many people will start booking Easter and summer holidays in 2019, RyanAir will add a "Brexit clause" to all tickets sold for travel after 29 March .

It will warn customers that their tickets may not be valid if aviation regulation is disrupted in the event of "no deal".

If flights don’t take place, the cost would be refunded.

In a statement, RyanAir said it hoped a 21-month transition agreement after Brexit would be implemented as part of a withdrawal agreement, to give airlines more time to prepare for a transition to a new relationship.

But it said: "We believe that the risk of a hard (no-deal) Brexit is being underestimated."

IAG, the parent company of British Airways, was unable to confirm whether BA was planning to introduce similar measures to those being implemented by RyanAir.

Instead, an IAG statement said: "we are confident that a comprehensive air transport agreement between the EU and UK will be reached." Chris Morris from BBC Reality Check.

Chris Morris from BBC Reality Check One of the reasons for the continuing uncertainty is the nature of the aviation industry.

In other areas of the UK’s trade relationship, if it leaves with no deal, it will fall back on the basic rules of the World Trade Organization.

But in aviation, there is no fall-back position. Either you have a deal or you don’t.

So if negotiations with the EU fail, and neither side wants that to happen, there would have to be a scramble for an interim solution to keep planes in the air.

The most obvious one would be some kind of stopgap agreement to roll over current rules for a short time.

But that would mean the UK’s current commitments to the EU – such as legal and budget commitments – would have to continue as well. It would be extended membership in all but name. Project Complexity?

It is worth emphasising that it would be in no-one’s interest to ground aircraft. Everyone would be looking for a fix.

Again, this is a point that was emphasised by Philip Hammond.

"It’s very clear," he said, "that mutual self-interest means that even if talks break down, even if there is no deal, there will be a very strong compulsion on both sides to reach agreement on an air traffic services arrangement."

But the suggestion that everything would automatically be fine for aviation in the event of no deal is highly misleading.

A deal would need to be done, to deal with the consequences of "no deal".

And this isn’t about Project Fear – this is Project Complexity. What do you want BBC Reality Check to investigate? Get in touch Read more from Reality Check

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South Africa to amend constitution to allow land expropriation

South Africa to amend constitution to allow land expropriation

President Cyril Ramaphosa promised land reform on his election in February South Africa will push ahead with plans to amend the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation, its president says.

In a recorded address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the ruling ANC will "finalise a proposed amendment" allowing the move.

He said the reform was "of critical importance" to the economy.

Recent months have seen growing anger about the slow pace of land reform in South Africa.

The country’s white minority is believed to have a disproportionate hold over land, with a few thousand white commercial farmers possessing the most fertile lands.

However, critics fear expropriation could lead to land grabs, as happened in neighbouring Zimbabwe. South Africans’ anger over land set to explode

Can South Africa avoid doing a Zimbabwe on land?

In the video, Mr Ramaphosa said that a "proper reading" of the constitution allowed expropriation of land without compensation "in the public interest".

The ANC would go "through the parliamentary process" with the amendment.

The country passed a law allowing expropriation in 2016 . Millions of South Africans depend on agriculture for their livelihoods However, he said it had become "patently clear" that the people want the constitution to be "more explicit" on the matter.

"This is the constitutional democracy that we fought for," the president said.

"We call on all South Africans to work with us on developing a social compact for economic inclusion, economic growth and jobs for all."

Around 10% of land in white ownership has been transferred to black owners since the end of apartheid, which is only a third of the ANC’s target.