Commentary, Local Commentary, National Commentary

The LGBTQ+ Reach: August 17 – 23

Newspaper SLAPPed for Basic Reporting

A Wisconsin business owner, Cory Tomczyk, called a 13-year-old boy a f*g at a Marathon County Board meeting on Sunday, according to four eye-witness accounts.  The Wausau Pilot & Review, a Wisconsin nonprofit news site that reported the story, is now facing closure due to legal fees resulting from a defamation lawsuit from Tomczyk — even though a judge threw out the lawsuit in April.  The Pilot & Review has seen over $150,000 in legal fees defending itself, which its founder and editor says threatens the site’s existence, during a time when the area’s local newspaper, the Wassau Daily Herald, is already struggling to survive.

What’s SLAPP?

Other than something this writer has had to re-type every time, SLAPP is also an acronym for strategic lawsuits against public participation.  Basically, SLAPP is when news sources are sued into the ground with frivolous lawsuits — where the point isn’t to win; it’s just to put a heavy enough financial burden onto the source to cause critical damage.

Anti-SLAPP laws, which the GOP has targeted in the Trump era of free-press-bashing, would normally protect the Pilot & Review.   With an anti-SLAPP lawsuit, the entity being sued can move to strike the case because it involves free speech; if the plaintiff cannot show enough evidence, the case is dismissed — and the would-be defendant can recuperate legal fees.

Wisconsin has no anti-SLAPP laws (Virginia does).


Republican Presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis donated $95,000 to Iowa-based “The Family Leader Foundation.”  The group, affiliated with the Family Research Council (designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center), is run by influential evangelical Bob Vander Plaats.  Two-thirds of Iowa Caucus goers in 2016 identify as evangelical.

Vander Plaats says his endorsement cannot be bought.

LGBTQ+ Vets Sue for Honor

Last Tuesday, Queer Veterans sued the U.S. Department of Defense to reclassify dishonorable discharges due to sexual orientation (of which there are an estimated 100,000).  

An “honorable discharge,” which the group is seeking in a class action lawsuit, would allow them access to healthcare through Veterans Affairs, financial aid for college and loans, and repair their reputations and resumes.


The Ethiopian government has begun raiding establishments that provide services to queer people, or “institutions where homosexual acts are carried out.”

In the city of Addis Ababa, officials posted on Facebook that “if there is any sympathy for those who commit and execute this abominable act that is hated by man and God, [we] will continue to take action.”

AP vs. GOP

The College Board, which runs the AP program for High Schools, has seen itself dragged into the GOP culture wars.

In Florida, AP Psychology’s inclusion of sexual orientation has caused the course to be removed from many school curricula, in fear of it violating new “Don’t Say Gay” laws.

The Arkansas Department of Education has decided not to award full credit for AP African American Studies, in response to a Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) war against recurring GOP boogeyman “Critical Race Theory.”