NCAA Gives North Carolina Ultimatum: Repeal HB2 Now or Lose All Sports Events Till 2022

ncaa_nc

On yesterday’s anniversary of the passage of anti-LGBT law HB2, the NCAA again warned North Carolina that it must repeal the law now, or lose any opportunity to host games for five years.

Wrote the NCAA:

“Last year, the NCAA Board of Governors relocated NCAA championships scheduled in North Carolina because of the cumulative impact HB2 had on local communities’ ability to assure a safe, healthy, discrimination free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events. Absent any change in the law, our position remains the same regarding hosting current or future events in the state. As the state knows, next week our various sports committees will begin making championships site selections for 2018-2022 based upon bids received from across the country. Once the sites are selected by the committee, those decisions are final and an announcement of all sites will be made on April 18.”

State lawmakers were warned of this last month but HB2 still stands.

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Seth Meyers Unboggles Yesterday’s ‘Truly Mind-Boggling’ 24 Hours in Trumpland: WATCH

closer

“The last 24 hours in politics have been truly mind-boggling,” said Seth Meyers in last night’s A Closer Look. “You’ve got the president doubling down on his false wiretapping claim, Republicans scrambling to cobble together a health-care [bill] before anyone even knows what’s in it, and new reports that Trump associates may have coordinated with Russia.”

Meyers then pointed out the revelation that Paul Manafort had been paid $10 million to push Putin influence in the U.S.

Said Meyers: “So Trump campaign chairman’s previous job was working to advance Vladimir Putin’s agenda. That’s like finding out your babysitter’s previous job was baking children into pies.”

And as far as the health care bill went, Donald Trump was supposed to be negotiating his health care bill yesterday but instead he was in the cab of a semi after meeting with truckers at the White House.

He even honked the horn of the truck.

“In fairness, he had just seen this bumper sticker,” said Meyers. “Honk If You’re Tragically Unqualified.”

Check out the rest of Meyers’s latest assessment:

 

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Get To Know the ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 9 Queens in This Massive Must-Read Preview

RuPauls Drag Race season 9 queens

Break out the duct tape and heels, because RuPaul’s Drag Race is back. Gay March Madness begins tonight when the ninth season of the beloved drag competition kicks off at 8 p.m. Eastern on its new home VH1.

The new night and channel aren’t the only big news hitting Drag Race. Tonight’s premiere features one of the most exciting guest judges in herstory: Lady Gaga.

As a new batch of queens descends upon the workroom, we’re working on our own bracket to guess a winner. (And we’ll be back with our weekly Tops and Bottoms Power Rankings Saturdays.) We got a sneak peak of this season’s Racers in action at an NYC premiere party featuring performances from all the competitors. We also got to have some quick chats with the queens in attendance.

We’ve shared some samples of the gurls’ work and our initial thoughts below so you can get a jump on getting to know this season’s ladies.

 

Aja
Brooklyn, New York

Here’s the Tee:

This BK queen is just the right blend of underground artistry and signature star power. Her lip sync choices are unique, and she can deliver even speed rap with expert precision. “Aja means ‘Come here’ in Hindi,” she explained at the New York premiere. “The name has so much magnetism, it just gravitates people to come toward me.”

It’s true that there’s something alluring about Aja that makes you unable to look away. The judges might clock her makeup skills though, which is a weakness. Her paint lacks a bit of refinement that might fail to stand up beside the more polished competitors.

 

Alexis Michelle
New York, New York

Here’s the Tee:

It took Alexis eight tries to make the cut for RuPaul’s Drag Race, but she certainly seems ready for the main stage now. This veteran performer (and self-described “most elegant dick pig you’ve ever seen”) has a soft-spot for Broadway and 1970s gay standards like Barbra, Donna Summer and Aretha Franklin.

What remains to be seen is if she’s a little too old school when compared to some of the edgier up-and-coming queens in the race. Unlike other contestants (here and famously elsewhere), Alexis may actually be here to make friends. “Honestly, I’m not sh*tting when I say, yes, I wanted to come and compete and to win, but I really wanted to make some friends. And I did. Big time.”

 

Charlie Hides
London, UK

Here’s the Tee:

Charlie Hides is an odd bird. The oldest contestant in Drag Race herstory (52 years young) is perhaps best known for her wacky YouTube videos parodying Lady Gaga, Cher, Lana Del Rey, Madonna and more, but her sense of humor may not be for everybody. Charlie loves to toe that line of political incorrectness in similarly stomping fashion as Bianca del Rio and other queens.

She once courted controversy for performing as a character many believed to be racially insensitive.

When asked about the backlash, Charlie replied: “All I can say is I’ve played over 100-110 characters over the years, and sometimes people have not seen the actual performances, they formed opinions based on things that they’ve heard. What you’re referring to is someone who didn’t even bother to come see the show so didn’t know the character I was doing was satirical. They didn’t know the background. It’s kind of like seeing a movie poster and deciding that they don’t like the movie based on the poster. You have to come see the show first to understand what the performance is all about. Never judge a book by its cover, which is what that satirical character you’re referring to was based on.”

 

Eureka O’Hara
Johnson City, TN

Here’s the Tee:

Everything about Eureka O’Hara is big. Yes, this season’s big gurl is an imposing presence (even in full pageant paint), but she’s got an oversized personality to match. With a sweet Southern twang in her voice and a laugh more infectious than staph infection in a bathhouse, Eureka is sure to charm viewers, but will she wow the judges?

Her performance at the season 9 premiere was high-energy with just the right amount of humor. Her drag is competent, but a touch traditional. Expect to see Eureka stick around for a bit, if for nothing more than what I imagine will be many hilarious confessional interviews.

 

Farrah Moan
Las Vegas, Nevada

Here’s the Tee:

Farrah is for sure the queen most likely to be admonished by the judges to stop relying on her good looks. She’s gorgeous. “I feel like Christina Aguilera is my favorite drag queen, because she is contoured, highlighted, cut, creased with the glitter,” Farrah told us at the NYC premiere. “She’s in full drag!”

Farrah bears more than a passing resemblance to Xtina, and her showgirl-meets-fetish aesthetic feels right out of one of Ms. Aguilera’s videos. Think of her like Courtney Act minus the singing or Derrick Barry minus the cluelessness.

 

Jaymes Mansfield
Madison, Wisconsin

Here’s the Tee:

This quirky queen is all about comedy. Part Marilyn Monroe, part Muppet, she’s got kitsch down pat. Sadly, it starts to feel a little one note. Her NYC premiere performance to Julie Brown’s “The Homecoming Queen’s Got A Gun” felt stale, and her use of a puppet did little to enhance the performance.

Jaymes seems like a sweetheart, but good is not going to be good enough to outlast some of these other queens.

 

Kimora Blac
Las Vegas, Nevada

Here’s the Tee: Thirsty, children? Ms. Kimora Blac is serving ice-cold S-E-X. She’s giving you body, she’s giving you face, she’s giving you LEWK, but she’s also giving attitude. She could easily be this season’s breakout villain depending on her edit.

While she is fierce as hell, can she slay Snatch? How will she do in group acting challenges? Sex sells, but it doesn’t usually shantay all the way to the crown.

 

Nina Bo’nina Brown
Atlanta, Georgia

Here’s the Tee:

We’re OBSESSED with Nina Bo’nina Brown. She burst onto the NYC stage in a full face of sci-fi makeup right out of Planet of the Apes at the premiere, and it gave us life. She’s got a cosplay-influenced style that blends costume, character and a whole lot of charisma for a truly unique individual. It’s not your typical female impersonation, and, as such, the makeup is more theatrical than glamour, which could get messy.

Here’s hoping Nina sticks around long enough to show the judges her wide range of skills, even if that includes one obligatory pass at pageant.

 

Peppermint
New York, New York

Here’s the Tee:

Don’t get it twisted — Peppermint is already a star. Regardless how she fares in the competition, the whole world is better off with a little more Peppermint in it. Not only is she the first contestant to enter the competition as an openly trans woman, but she’s a New York institution that’s been slaying stages for years. She rocked the crowd at the NYC premiere after appearing in a giant inflatable sphere, but she slayed our hearts when she told us “You could be fierce and fly, but you could also have a heart.”

We’re not sure if Drag Race will want to crown two established NYC queens back-to-back, but Peppermint doesn’t need a win here to establish her as America’s Next Drag Superstar.

 

Sasha Velour
Brooklyn, New York

Here’s the Tee:

Of all the performances at the NYC premiere, no one brought the house down like Sasha. Her projection-heavy performance to Sia’s “Cellophane” was truly iconic and quite possibly the most emotionally evocative drag performance I’ve ever witnessed. Sasha is a true art queen, drawing inspiration from Kevin Aviance, Lypsynka and Leigh Bowery.

This is a whip-smart queen with reverence for drag herstory, but is all that passion a touch too humorless? Sure, she’s utterly engrossing, but how will her high-art style translate to TV? From pageant princesses to campy clowns, one thing we want from most of our drag faves is to laugh.

 

Shea Coulee
Chicago, IL

Here’s the Tee:

Shea is the total package (and might be our pick to go all the way this season). She’s got a great attitude, a vibrant DIY aesthetic and some fierce Beyoncé lip syncs. Other Drag Racers may excel in looks, performance or paint, but Shea seems like the most balanced (and likable) of this year’s batch of queens.

 

Trinity Taylor
Orlando, FL

Here’s the Tee:

Trinity is known for her tuck. That’s a real thing. In fact, her social media handle is “TrinityTheTuck.” It’s not exactly the kind of superlative that alone would warrant the crown, but combined with her high-energy performance and polished pageant look it might be.

She told us her drag style is “true female impersonation.” She earned points in our book for choosing to lip sync to Erika Jayne’s “XXPEN$IVE,” but it feels like she may be a bit too focused on the illusion and not enough on the artistry.

 

Valentina
Los Angeles, CA

Here’s the Tee:

You may not realize just from looking at her, but Valentina is a fairly new queen. When she began the competition, she had only been doing drag for a short time, but she looks impeccable. It’s not until she stepped on stage at the NYC premiere that it started to show.

She performed a Spanish-language lip sync that nearly bored the crowd to tears. Here’s hoping her work on the mainstage has a little more life.

Who are your early favorites to win this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race?

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Taiwan Poised to Usher in Marriage Equality as Constitutional Court Hears Landmark Gay Marriage Case

Taiwan

Taiwan may be the first place in Asia to have marriage equality should the Constitutional Court rule in favor of marriage equality in a case they are hearing today.

AFP reports:

A panel of 14 grand justices will hear a debate over a disputed law that critics say is unconstitutional because it prevents unions between gay couples.

Campaigners for change gathered with rainbow flags outside the court in Taipei, which was heavily guarded on Friday morning.

Two petitions for an interpretation of Taiwan’s Civil Code have been brought by veteran gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei and the Taipei city government, which has been receiving a growing number of requests to register gay marriages.

Lawyers for Chi, legal experts and government officials will take part in the court debate, with a ruling expected within two months.

“The constitutional court’s decision is legally binding,” said Hsieh Kuo-lien, a law professor at the National University of Kaohsiung.

The BBC adds:

A panel of 14 justices are hearing arguments and will debate whether a line in Taiwan’s civil code, which states that marriage is between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional…

…It’s the first time the judiciary is opening the Constitutional Court on the issue. If the judges rule that Taiwan’s current ban is unconstitutional, then parliament will be forced to amend the laws to offer gay couples protection.

Lawmakers, while initially supportive, have become less enthusiastic about passing such bills after vocal opposition by mainly religious groups and parents.

If the judges rule in favour of it, they will in essence be doing the dirty work for lawmakers, who can then tell their voters they have no choice but to amend the laws.

We’ll know by the end of the May. Keep following Towleroad for details…

 

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Trump Approves Keystone Pipeline

pipeline

Trying to distract from the failing health care bill, the Trump administration has announced approval of the key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

The State Department made the announcement on Friday morning:

The Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs has issued a Presidential permit to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (“TransCanada”) authorizing TransCanada to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the U.S.-Canadian border in Phillips County, Montana for the importation of crude oil.

The Department of State reviewed TransCanada’s application in accordance with Executive Order 13337 (April 30, 2004) and the January 24, 2017 Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In making his determination that issuance of this permit would serve the national interest, the Under Secretary considered a range of factors, including but not limited to foreign policy; energy security; environmental, cultural, and economic impacts; and compliance with applicable law and policy.

The permit was signed by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, Jr.

The Hill reports:

“In making his determination that issuance of this permit would serve the national interest, the under secretary considered a range of factors, including but not limited to foreign policy; energy security; environmental, cultural, and economic impacts; and compliance with applicable law and policy,” State said.

The decision closes a significant chapter in the long-running saga over the controversial oil pipeline, which has been a flashpoint in the debate surrounding climate change and dependence on foreign oil.

It fulfills a major campaign promise of President Trump and a top priority that congressional Republicans and the oil industry have had for years.

Ugh.

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Out MLB Player David Denson Retires from Professional Baseball

David Denson

Two years since he made history as the first Major League Baseball-affiliated player to come out as openly gay, Milwaukee Brewers’ David Denson announced this week his decision to retire.

The 22-year-old first baseman and outfielder played in the minor-league Class A Wisconsin and Brevard County teams over the last two seasons. It was in August 2015 that Denson, in conjunction with out former baseball player Billy Bean,  took the landmark step to discuss his sexuality with the Milkwaukee Sentinel-Journal.

Denson says he has been treated no differently by his teammates or officials since the revelation. However, other factors have contributed to his assessment to retire:

“My feelings weren’t in the game anymore,” Denson said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “My passion for the game and drive for the game wasn’t there anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I love baseball. Baseball will always be in my heart. But wanting to do it as a career was no longer there for me anymore . . . walking away from it is one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. But I had to do it for myself.”

Denson said he didn’t want to upset people by leaving baseball, especially those wrestling with the decision to come out as gay. But he said it was something he knew he had to do.

“I’m sure I’m letting some people down,” he said. “But I still feel like I’m connected to the game and my fans, and I want to stay connected to them. I want to be a role model for so many people.

“I think I opened the door. I showed just because I’m gay doesn’t make me any different or less of a person. If there are others who want to come out, hopefully they have my story to fall back on and see it’s OK.”

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Healthcare Vote Postponed After Trump Fails to Make Deal

Paul ryan Donald Trump

Tonight’s vote on the Republican replacement for Obamacare has been postponed after Donald Trump failed to make a deal with the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

ABC News reports:

Trump had made his last-minute sales pitch to conservative House Freedom Caucus members at the White House earlier in the day. After the meeting, however, House Freedom Caucus members said they haven’t reached a point where they can support the AHCA in its current form.

The president and caucus members discussed options and were “trying to get creative,” caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told ABC News.

CBS News reports:

The Freedom Caucus wants to lower premiums by rolling back what are known as the Obamacare “essential benefits” — like maternity care, emergency room visits, prescription drugs. But several moderates will likely reject this approach.

Republicans can lose up to 22 members if no Democrats support the bill.

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