Alaska Airlines is fanning the flames this week for asking a gay couple to separate in order to seat a straight couple together.
“After my traveling companion and I had been seated in our assigned seats for a while, we were approached by the flight attendant and my companion was asked to move from his premium seat to coach, so a couple could sit together,” said Alaska Airlines passenger David Cooley.
Cooley owns the iconic LGBT bar The Abbey in L.A.
“I explained that we were a couple and wanted to sit together,” he added. “He was given a choice to either give up the premium seat and move to coach or get off the plane.”
Calling it an “overbooking situation,” Alaska has responded to the claims.
“We mistakenly booked two people in one seat. We are deeply sorry for the situation, and are investigating the details,” the company said in a statement.
The statement said Alaska Airlines has a “zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind.”
The statement further claimed, “This unfortunate incident was caused by a seating error, compounded by a full flight and a crew seeking an on-time departure and nothing more than that. It’s our policy to keep all families seated together whenever possible; that didn’t happen here and we are deeply sorry for the situation. We’ve reached out to Mr. Cooley to offer our sincere apologies for what happened and we are seeking to make it right.”
Alaska Airlines has an employee resource group that is expected to look into the situation to thwart future copycat issues in the company.
“Diversity and inclusion are part of the fabric of Alaska Airlines. We are an airline for everyone and reflect these values through our work with dozens of nonprofit LGBTQ organizations, Pride Parades along the West Coast and a perfect score in the HRC’s Equality Index,” their statement said. “We’ll keep building on this commitment, with our employee-led LGBTQ business resource group.”
David Cooley/The Abbey on Facebook
“We could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight and left the plane,” Cooley said “I cannot believe that an airline in this day and age would give a straight couple preferential treatment over a gay couple and go so far as to ask us to leave.”
He implored his fellow travelers to spend their pink dollars on other airlines, such as Delta.
“Thank you to Delta Air Lines for getting us home safe,” he shared on Facebook. “If you are an #LGBT person, please spend your travel dollars with an LGBT friendly airline like Delta.”
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Lily Tomlin Marries Kathy Griffin on New Year’s Day
Okay, so Lily Tomlin didn’t actually marry marry Kathy Griffin, but she did officiate her wedding to longtime beau Randy Bick.
“She said yes!” Bick exclaimed in the video. “Such an incredible moment in our lives.”
As for the ring exchange, well…
“Randy and I are doing sort of toy rings for the ceremony because neither one of us like wearing rings ever,” Griffin told People. “So we will never wear rings. Deal with it.”
The 80-year-old Grace and Frankie star started the ceremony with a quip of her own.
“What was supposed to be a shallow, ‘toot it and boot it’ one-night stand has grown and flourished into something far more meaningful,” Tomlin said. “They stayed together. Then they couldn’t stay away from one another.”
Here’s the rundown:
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) January 1, 2020
Yes, we officially got married early this morning. I’m going to post the whole 15 minute ceremony on my YouTube page tomorrow. We are editing out the vows because we wanted those to be private and for us. The rest of it is just adorable. Lily Tomlin & Jane Wagner rule!#2020SoFar
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) January 2, 2020
BIG THANKS to @kourtneykardash & @KrisJenner for taking this photo Christmas Eve when they were kind enough to host a gigantic ENGAGEMENT PARTY FOR US! I mean they didn’t technically know it was an engagement party for us but boy they spared no expense! Pic by The Collective You pic.twitter.com/CtdWTFU9Ob
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) January 1, 2020
The entire ceremony was just under 14 minutes but I have to give you guys the uncut first 75 seconds. LOVE IT! We promised you atypical. We are in love and we cannot stop laughing. Thank you @LilyTomlin and Jane Wagner!#HappyNewYear pic.twitter.com/O5vOss3TCD
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) January 1, 2020
“Yes, we officially got married early this morning,” Griffin tweeted. “I’m going to post the whole 15 minute ceremony on my YouTube page tomorrow. We are editing out the vows because we wanted those to be private and for us. The rest of it is just adorable. Lily Tomlin & Jane Wagner rule!”
Wagner and Tomlin married in 2013. They have been together for over 40 years.
Image via screengrab.
Facebook Begins Removing False HIV-Related Ads After More Than 50 LGBTQ Groups Complain
Facebook has started pulling ads with misinformation regarding PrEP and Truvada after more than 50 LGBTQ organizations signed an open letter addressed to Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
On December 9, HIV/AIDS and public health organizations called on Facebook to remove dangerous and misleading ads. As of Dec. 30, nearly 70 organizations are listed as signatories. The newest organizations to participate include AIDS Alabama, Fenway Health, Housing Works, New York City AIDS Memorial, and U.S. People Living with HIV Caucus. A full list is here.
The Washington Post broke the news of Facebook’s action this morning.
“After a review, our independent fact-checking partners have determined some of the ads in question mislead people about the effects of Truvada,” Facebook spokeswoman Devon Kearns said, referring to the name of the drug. “As a result we have rejected these ads and they can no longer run on Facebook.”
“It’s gratifying to see one of Facebook’s fact-checkers backing up the overwhelming consensus of AIDS, LGBTQ, and HIV medical groups that these ads are misleading. But the question remains – why is Facebook taking money from these ambulance-chasing law firms for ads that are helping the spread of HIV?” said Peter Staley, a co-founder of the PrEP4All Collaboration.
“But Facebook has put a warning on only one ad thus far, with many more unaffected,” he continued, adding: “If this is their official response, after ignoring us for months, then it’s a mess.”
“Removing select ads is a strong first step, but the time is now for Facebook to take action on other very similar ads which target at-risk community members with misleading and inaccurate claims about PrEP and HIV prevention,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO.
“The time is now for Facebook to take action on other very similar ads which target at-risk community members with misleading and inaccurate claims about PrEP and HIV prevention.” https://t.co/QqupUEy1r0
— Sarah Kate Ellis (@sarahkateellis) December 30, 2019
Adding, “Dozens of organizations have told Facebook that the safety and effectiveness of PrEP to prevent HIV transmission is unequivocal. The pervasiveness of these ads and the subsequent real world harm should be catalysts for Facebook to further review how misleading and inaccurate ads are allowed to be targeted at LGBTQ and other marginalized communities.”
The CDC states that “studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily,” however, public health officials cite the Facebook and Instagram ads with creating dangerous barriers to PrEP usage.
Earlier this month, Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted support of the campaign to get Facebook to remove the ads and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also issued a statement of support. On December 20, Sen. Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, also sent a letter to Zuckerberg calling the decision to allow the misleading ads to run “particularly egregious.”
The letter can be found here and excerpted below.
“Using Facebook’s and Instagram’s targeted advertising programs, various law firms are attempting to recruit gay and bisexual men who use Truvada PrEP as an HIV preventative to join a lawsuit, claiming that the drug has caused harmful side effects in this patient population, specifically bone density and kidney issues. By focusing on “Truvada” and PrEP — rather than “Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate” (or TDF) and HIV positive individuals who use it as an antiviral — the law firms’ advertisements are scaring away at-risk HIV negative people from the leading drug that blocks HIV infections. This is despite numerous studies underscoring the safety of TDF in HIV-negative PrEP users.
Leading public health officials, medical professionals, and dedicated PrEP navigators and outreach coordinators have shared that these advertisements on Facebook and Instagram are being directly cited by at-risk community members expressing heightened fears about taking PrEP. This issue goes beyond misinformation, as it puts real people’s lives in imminent danger.”
Three medical and HIV prevention experts recently wrote an op-ed calling out the ads, noting: “As public-health leaders, we are concerned that these often misleading and inflammatory advertisements are causing people to decide not to start PrEP or, in some cases, stop PrEP altogether. PrEP is a critically important component of the national plan to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030.”
LGBT Americans Are Poorer in the South Than Anywhere Else in the Country
A new report released Tuesday showed that in a majority of U.S. states, LGBT people experience higher rates of poverty than cisgender straight people. The findings were released by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.
Statistics reveal that more LGBT Americans are poor in the South at 24%, followed by the Midwest (23%), the West (22%), and the Northeast (18%).
Researchers analyzed data from the 2014-2017 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a health survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that collects state data on health-related risk factors and conditions among adults. The BRFSS offers an optional module that asks respondents to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity, and 35 states included that module in their state-level survey.
The survey does not collect data from youth. As a result, the study does not provide information about LGBT people under age 18, or LGBT people of any age in the 15 states that do not collect the data.
In addition to poverty rates, researchers examined social statuses that traditionally contribute to economic stability, including gender, race, age, and urban-rural residence in some states.
“There is so much more to learn about LGBT poverty in individual states,” said lead author Soon Kyu Choi, project manager at the Williams Institute. “We need to better understand the connection between differing poverty rates across states with variations in LGBT related public policies and public attitudes that may limit economic opportunities for LGBT people.”
Key Findings: Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin
•LGBT people have higher poverty rates than cisgender straight people in all eight states.
•Transgender people have higher poverty rates than do cisgender men in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and Ohio.
•LGBT people of color have higher poverty rates than White LGBT people in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio.
Key Findings: Northeast: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont
•In all six states, LGBT people have higher poverty rates than cisgender straight people.
•LGBT people of color have higher poverty rates than White LGBT people in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
Key Findings: South: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia
•In all Southern states except Florida, LGBT people are more likely to be poor than cisgender straight people.
•In Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia, rural LGBT people have higher poverty rates than urban LGBT people.
•In West Virginia, the urban LGBT poverty rate is higher than the rural LGBT poverty rate.
Key Findings: West: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Washington, and Wyoming
•LGBT people have higher poverty rates than cisgender straight people in Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming.
•Transgender people have higher poverty rates than do cisgender people (or cisgender men) in California, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, and Washington.
“This study provides a foundation for understanding LGBT poverty by state. But clearly, more data are needed in the states that are not yet collecting SOGI data,” said study author Bianca Wilson, Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “As more states begin to include these critical questions on all of their surveys, we can provide nuanced analyses that inform effective policies and interventions that meet the needs of LGBT people in specific states.”
This study is part of the Pathways to Justice Project, a long-term project at the Williams Institute examining poverty rates, personal narratives, and experiences with economic development and food insecurity services among LGBTQ people. Read the report.
Image via Shutterstock.
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