Qmmunity: The Best Big Qmmunity in Texas

On discrimination, Dolly, and more queer happenings

Our patron, Ms. Dolly Parton (center, of course)

The Tr*mp administration's Department of Health & Human Services – slithering under the cover of seditious conspiracy and chaosfinalized a rule last week that would allow federal HHS grantees to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. More specifically, the new rule rescinds Obama-era regulations that barred grant recipients in HHS federal grant programs and services from discriminating on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, in addition to requiring grant recipients to "treat as valid the marriages of same-sex couples." The Tr*mp administration's regulation argues that only nondiscrimination requirements required by the Constitution – specifically Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which governs federal programs – and federal statutes are applicable for HHS grantees. (Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of only race, color, or national origin.) The new rule, published last Thursday, wasn't entirely unexpected – as the administration first proposed it in 2019 – but it could result in far-reaching implications for anti-LGBTQIA discrimination across a range of health and human services programs supported by HHS funding, including homeless shelters, HIV/AIDS services and programs, and substance use recovery programs, among others. Most alarming of all perhaps is that the proposed regulation would allow taxpayer-funded foster care agencies to refuse placing a child in an LGBTQIA family and to discriminate against queer and trans youth. The HHS points out that several states have requested exceptions under the Obama-era rule, including – unsurprisingly – Texas' challenge to the rule's sexual orientation, gender identity, and same-sex marriage status nondiscrimination protections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Now, this proposed rule could be rendered moot should President-elect Joe Biden sign the Equality Act within 100 days of taking office – as he's pledged to do. That bill, if passed, would prohibit anti-LGBTQIA discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and federally funded programs – like HHS grantees – among other areas. Still, the adoption agency challenge is a reminder of Sharonell Fulton, et al. v. City of Philadelphia that's pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, a case about whether taxpayer-funded foster care agencies have a "right" to discriminate on the grounds of their religious beliefs.

2 To Do

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Poo Poo Platter's annual tradition of celebrating Our Lady Dolly Parton's birthday goes virtual with a monthlong digital drag tribute shows and viewing parties of her blockbuster hits. Hosted by Bulimianne Rhapsody with performances from Louisianna Purchase, Arcie Cola, Quiche Lorraine, Liz Dexia, and Levi Tracy. Fri., Jan. 15, 9pm. Online. $10 suggested donation. twitch.tv/poopooatx.

Unapologetic Cinematographer Ashley O'Shay's feature directorial debut chronicles Janaé Bonsu and Bella Bahhs, two young Black women activists in Chicago working to end police violence against Black residents. As part of Film Festival Day with Film Festival Alliance, ticket revenue is split between filmmakers and participating fests like aGLIFF. Sat., Jan. 16, 7pm. Online. $10. www.agliff.org/monthly-screenings.

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Austin LGBTQ, Department of Health & Human Services, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Sharonell Fulton, et al v. City of Philadelphia, U.S. Supreme Court, Poo Poo Platter, aGLIFF, Dolly Parton, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

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