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Tennis Legend Margaret Court Boycotts Qantas for Its Support of Gay Marriage

Australian tennis great Margaret Court earned 24 singles Grand Slam titles, the standing record in women’s tennis, during her career in the 1960s and ’70s, but less illustrious is her nearly as long-standing opposition to LGBT rights.

In a letter to The West Australian newspaper, Court took it upon herself to announce that she will be boycotting major Australian airline Qantas due to its on-the-record support for marriage equality in the country. Apart from its official corporate stance, the CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce, is an openly gay man and was targeted in a pie attack by an anti-LGBT protester earlier this month. Court brought up her previous promotional work on behalf of the carrier in her statement as a contrast to her current disavowal:

“I am disappointed that Qantas has become an active promoter for same-sex marriage,” she said in a letter to The West Australian newspaper that was widely shared and discussed on social media.

“I believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible.

“Your statement leaves me no option but to use other airlines where possible for my extensive traveling.”

Court, who in her post-tennis life has become a pastor in Perth’s Victory Life Church, has periodically made known her opposition to same-sex marriage and relations publicly, calling them “abominable” and “unhealthy,” as well as frequently claiming that being gay is a choice while endorsing the conversion therapy offered by her church. Back in 1990, she took the triumphant occasion of Martina Navratilova’s ninth and final singles Wimbledon title to proclaim the LGBT tennis star a bad role model for children due to her sexual identity.

Given this history, it should be no surprise that Navratilova herself has now suggested that the arena bearing Court’s name in Melbourne Park, where the Australian Open is played, should be renamed due to her problematic views, which have been repeatedly rejected by fellow great and fierce LGBT advocate Billie Jean King as well as tennis governing bodies Tennis Australia and the Women’s Tennis Association.

While there is no indication as yet that such a move will be taken, Australian-born British tennis player Laura Robson famously wore a rainbow hair ornament in 2012 while playing in Margaret Court Arena as a form of protest against its namesake’s rhetoric shortly after that set of aforementioned remarks were made. Other players have spoken up against this latest episode, which comes as the French Open is gearing up to begin next week:

Australian player Casey Dellacqua, who is gay, tweeted: “Margaret. Enough is enough,” alongside an image of a letter by Court in a newspaper after the birth of her first child in 2013.

The 74-year-old had written of the “sadness that I see that this baby has seemingly been deprived of his father.”

Marriage equality in Australia remains in limbo, following a previous failed parliamentary vote on the subject in 2012 and ongoing insistence by conservative Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull that nothing other than a nationwide plebiscite, which was itself voted down by lawmakers, will be brought forward by his government, even as legislative attempts persist.

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It’s A Crew ‘Paul’s Drag Race’ Makeover Challenge [RECAP]

RuPaul's Drag Race

After last week’s shocking, devastating RuPaul’s Drag Race, this week’s lighthearted romp felt like a bit of a palate cleanser. And thank goodness for that, because I don’t think I could take another week of heartache.

I’ve been reflecting a lot about last week’s surprise elimination (which if you haven’t seen it yet, I’m about to spoil, so go back under whatever rock you’ve been hiding for the last week). It wasn’t so much that I was enamored with Valentina, although I was. I also adored BenDeLaCreme, but wasn’t nearly as shook by her elimination. It was watching Valentina clearly crumble on stage that was the perfect visual representation of so many of our greatest fears (and regrets). Who hasn’t chased a dream or goal and then failed spectacularly when it mattered most? Maybe not at the same scale, but it’s a feeling that resonates to the core.

Little time is spent mourning the loss of the Latina star. Instead, we’re catapulted quickly into another one of Nina’s shame spirals. She turned out that lip sync, but no amount of praise is getting through to her. All the other queens are over it, and, gurl, so am I.

A new day in the workroom means a new maxi-challenge, and Mama Ru is there to introduce this season’s makeover challenge. We’ve seen vets, husbands-to-be, LGBT activists and more in previous seasons, but this time we’re going to genderflip the Drag Race crew. And, be still my throbbing tuck, they are a handsome bunch!

RuPaul's Drag Race

Shea and Sasha get to assign the girls their crew members, but honestly they’re all winners. The guys are not only comfortable with drag, but their experience on the show also helps them understand what makes good, quippy TV. They’re game for anything the gals throw at them, and they even throw better shade than a lot of the gurls in the room.

Sasha has a ball with daddy Duncan, the tough guy associate director with a heart of gold. Trinity wants to make sure her (exceptionally handsome) partner, Rizzo, has that signature tight Taylor tuck. (I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE.) Peppermint is paired with Sarge, a burly cameraman and former military man. Oh, you wanted a twist?! He’s the most natural in drag. He’s got the look, the attitude, the wit. I’m obsessed. #TeamSarge

Nina is off with her partner deciding now’s the time to learn how to sew when she’s got two lewks to churn out. Oh, honey, no. After wasting probably too much time, she reconsiders.

On the runway, the gals need to strut their sisters out, then perform a lip sync to RuPaul’s track “Click Clack,” which I guess is just mostly repurposed from the far superior “Peanut Butter.” Trinity’s showgirl worth ethic translated nicely to a performance as tight as her tuck, earning her the win. Sasha shined as well, her focus on her partner keeping her from getting too in her head. Shea stumbled with a sloppy sister and Nina failed to fully realize her vision, landing both in the bottom two.

Shea turns out her lip sync to Demi Lovato’s 2k15 bop “Cool For the Summer,” but Nina can barely bolster an effort greater than Charlie or Kimora before her. Her heart just wasn’t in it. Hopefully the remaining girls have enough ambition to turn around this season’s lip sync stinkers.

Nina sashays away, leaving us our final five. How do hey stack up? Check out our ranking below, and leave yours in the comments.

RuPaul's Drag Race

1. Some winners never land in the bottom two, but more often these shows like to see a frontrunner sweat so it gives the viewer something to root for. I suspect that’s the case with Shea. Yes, Bae was a mess, but that hardly seems like enough to sink her chances. I wonder if the gown forced her to hold back some tricks in the lip sync, but even without kicks, splits and flips, Shea twirled the runway down. My money’s still on her to win it all.

RuPaul's Drag Race

2. Sasha continued to impress this week, and for the first time it felt she could really win this whole thing. Her high-fashion, high-concept schtick seamlessly served humor on the runway. It felt like she and Dunatella were having the most fun in their lip sync, and that gag where they spelled out LOVE then VELOUR was the perfect little wink.

RuPaul's Drag Race

3. Trinity Taylor has more than proven she’s a real threat. She might be a pageant girl, but I’ve been thoroughly sold on what a multidimensional performer she is. I admire her commitment to her tuck, but I admire her commitment to her performance more. I wonder if she pushed that to the forefront of her brand I would’ve been a fan sooner.

RuPaul's Drag Race

4.I can’t disagree with the judges that Peppermint and Winter Green’s ensembles looked hideous together, but they were both cute separately. More importantly, their energy complemented one another splendidly. Peppermint is such a lovable queen, and I wish she and Sarge could take this show on the road.

RuPaul's Drag Race

5. I’m completely soured on Alexis after weeks of bad behavior. The judges were right to clock that Party City space invader outfit (though was it just me or did Rye Anne Stardust look a lot like Jaymes Mansfield?).  My gut says she’s next to go.

RuPaul's Drag Race

6. Oh, Nina. What a sad mess this was. I’m usually all for her unique style of drag, but this was sloppy. Michelle nailed it; it was arts and crafts. Maybe she wasted too much time attempting to sew, but their whole runway performance was just so joyless. I hope Nina watches this back and learns to love herself, I really do. At the very least, I hope she watches it and stops overusing that hacky “Sue me!” joke.

How would you rank the queens?

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott Jokes About Shooting Reporters

The unrelenting Republican assault on the free press continued on Friday when Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, joked about shooting journalists. The joke was made not two days after a Montana congressional candidate, Greg Gianforte, assaulted a reporter instead of answering a question on health care. Abbott made his joke at a gun range,…

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Jared Kushner Proposed ‘Secret Communications Channel’ with Russian Leaders

Donald Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about setting up a “secret communications channel” between the transition team and Russia, according to the Washington Post, who received its reporting from U.S. intelligence officials.

The proposal was made in early December at Trump Tower. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was present and Kislyak was reportedly shocked at the suggestion because of its inherent security risks, the paper added.

The WaPo reports:

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that although Russian diplomats have secure means of communicating with Moscow, Kushner’s apparent request for access to such channels was extraordinary.

“How would he trust that the Russians wouldn’t leak it on their side?” said one former senior intelligence official. The FBI would know that a Trump transition official was going in and out of the embassy, which would cause “a great deal” of concern, he added. The entire idea, he said, “seems extremely naive or absolutely crazy.”

The discussion of a secret channel adds to a broader pattern of efforts by Trump’s closest advisers to obscure their contacts with Russian counterparts. Trump’s first national security adviser, Flynn, was forced to resign after a series of false statements about his conversations with Kislyak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from matters related to the Russia investigation after it was revealed that he had failed to disclose his own meetings with Kislyak when asked during congressional testimony about any contact with Russians.

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The Washington Post report comes as the White House has reportedly planned to set up a “war room” to combat questions about the Russia probe upon Trump’s return from overseas:

Upon Trump’s return, the administration will add experienced political professionals, including Trump’s former campaign manager, and possibly more lawyers to handle the Russia probe, which has gained new urgency since the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to head the investigation, the sources said.

Beyond pushing back at suggestions that Moscow is unduly influencing Trump’s administration, the messaging effort will also focus on advancing Trump’s stalled policy agenda and likely involve more trips out of Washington that will feature the kind of raucous rallies that were the hallmark of Trump’s campaign.

Trump’s aides are now facing a “perilous stage” in the investigation according to Politico as the scent of impeachment wafts through Washington.

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Equality March, Alabama, Trump’s NATO Fail, Derek Hough, April Ryan, Nick Jonas: HOT LINKS

national equality march

NATIONAL EQUALITY MARCH. Route announced: “The LGBT march on Washington scheduled for Sunday, June 11, which is officially called the Equality March for Unity and Pride, will travel in front of the White House before heading south on 15th Street, N.W. to Constitution Avenue and end on the National Mall at 7th Street, N.W. Organizers for the first time disclosed the route of the march and made an appeal for donations to help pay for what they say will be an historic demonstration for LGBT equality and diversity in a statement released to the Washington Blade.”

Trump meltdownNOBEL PRIZE WINNER BERNARD LOWN. Trump angled for Russian appointments in the ’80s: “Lown, now 95 and retired in Newton, Massachusetts, tells The Hollywood Reporter that Trump sought and secured a meeting with him in 1986 to solicit information about Mikhail Gorbachev. (Gorbachev had become the USSR’s head of state — and met with Lown — the year before.) During this meeting, Lown says, the fast-rising businessman disclosed that he would be reaching out to then-president Ronald Reagan to try to secure an official post to the USSR in order to negotiate a nuclear disarmament deal on behalf of the United States, a job for which Trump felt he was the only one fit.

ALABAMA. Governor signs bill protecting Confederate monuments: “Signed this week by Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, it clamps down how whether people can move or change monuments in the state. No mention of the Confederacy is made in the law, but critics say it is meant to help glorify the South’s problematic past.”

NYT. Trump’s NATO speech was a big FAIL: “What possesses him to treat America’s allies so badly? The NATO nations are mostly democracies with vibrant free markets that have helped America keep enemies at bay, including in Afghanistan. The question is made all the more pressing in view of Mr. Trump’s enthusiastic embrace of countless autocrats, among them Vladimir Putin of Russia and King Salman of Saudi Arabia, where he just paid a deferential visit and assured Sunni Arab leaders that “we are not here to lecture” despite their abominable records on human rights.”

APRIL RYAN. “I felt so bad for Sean” Spicer.

OH, HOORAY. Guess who’s coming back to television?

REMEMBER I TOLD YOU. Nick Jonas releases new single.

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR. Derek Hough tears his shirt off at the top.

SWEAR OFF. Kevin Spacey vs Gordon Ramsey.

SLOW HANDS. Niall Horan covers Billboard.

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FRIDAY FLASH. Erick Chuan Lim.

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Russia is Investigating Chechnya’s Anti-Gay Purge

Ramzan Kadyrov

Saturday marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan when, across the world, Muslims will begin their fast, unable to eat or drink until sundown. But for Chechnya’s Muslim leader Ramzan Kadyrov it was also supposed to mark an end: in late April, Kadyrov promised to eliminate all gay people from Chechnya before the start…

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Ariana Grande to Hold Benefit Concert for Manchester Bombing Victims and Families

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande announced today that she’ll be returning to the city of Manchester to hold a benefit concert to raise money for the victims and families of the terrorist bombing which took 22 lives and injured more than 50 others.

Grande made the announcement in a post to social media. She did not specify dates but said “I will have details to share with you as soon as everything is confirmed.”:

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