February 25, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Is California Failing Lesbian Couples?

There’s an old myth about lesbians and Victorian England that you’ve probably heard about one way or another–you might even have thought it was true at one point. Although homosexuality was famously criminalized during Queen Victoria’s reign, any specific reference to lesbian sex acts was left out, according to the fact that (they say) Victoria refused to believe lesbians existed.

While the anecdote is most likely untrue, it’s important to think about. Although our era may feel less primitive than Queen Victoria’s in certain ways, in many others, oppressive remnants of the Victorian age live on.

  Throughout history, a feigned ignorance about (or pure denial of) lesbian individuals and partnerships has lead to two things: An ability to fly beneath the radar of certain restrictive lifestyle-based laws, and a total and utter lack of representation.

Today, this lack of representation, both in the media and in politics, is harming lesbians more than ever. Two cases in California this week show just how underserved the lesbian population is, despite the progress we’ve made in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. In the eyes of too many companies, politicians, and state laws, lesbians relationships are still viewed as invalid.

Take Judith Dominguez and her wife Patricia Martinez. The two women live in Alhambra and have been together for 29 years, having tied the knot officially in 2013 when the Supreme Court finally legalized gay marriage on a federal level. For years the women have enjoyed coverage from the joint health care Dominguez received from her job. That is, until this January, when Dominguez re-enrolled only to be told her 29-year-long relationship did not meet her insurance’s “one man, one woman” criteria for spousal benefits. Dominguez filed a suit and was met with a vicious counter-suit by the insurance company. But not before they made sure her health plan was retroactively canceled, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in debt for services already performed and cleared by insurance.

    It doesn’t seem like something that could happen in California, or anywhere across the anti-Trump oasis of the West Coast. But cases like Dominguez’s are becoming more common in the wake of Trump’s election. Dominguez’s attorney Dan Stormer has been able to see the change first hand, in civil rights court cases across the state. “It is absolutely clear to us that once Trump was elected, these people saw their opportunity to carry out their bigotry,” Stormer told the Los Angeles Times, “[and] that without the election of Trump, the [federal] Civil Rights Division would clearly have moved on them, would clearly have determined that their actions were unlawful.”

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, another years-long fight was coming to a close.

White and Videckis have been fighting Pepperdine on a discrimination charge since 2014. Just this month, they lost the case.

Back in 2014, two college basketball players filed a lawsuit for discriminating against them because they were in a relationship with each other. Plaintiffs Layana White and Haley Videckis claimed that their coach at Pepperdine University had harassed them for their sexual orientation and blamed them (specifically their relationship) for losing games. Not only did Videckis and White claim that they were discriminated by their coach but also by the university, which failed to process White’s NCAA appeal to become eligible to play for the 2014-15 season after her transfer to Pepperdine.

Pepperdine University is a private Christian university that “Niche” ranks as the 9th most conservative college in California and one of the more conservative universities in the United States. It is located in Malibu and is undoubtedly, as the plaintiffs’ lawyer described, “not a great university to be gay in,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The former players of the university’s basketball league stated the multiple times that the staff tried to pry into their relationship with questions about sleeping arrangements to gynecology records. The university even tried to argue that Title IX, which protects athletes in schools from gender discrimination, does not extend to protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The case was closed in early August, with the jury coming down on the side of University on the basis of a lack of evidence. The case still remains a landmark suit by being the first to go to trial under the Title IX law. When the case was ruled by a federal judge to fall under Title IX, it propelled it to trial and ultimately told the American people that LGBTQ discrimination is inextricably linked to discrimination based on gender.

The case not only gave LGBTQ athletes representation and courage to pursue legal action against discrimination in an academic setting but also marked the first of its kind under the Title IX law, further proving its importance. If another academic institution tries to create a loophole through denying LGBTQ+ protection from discrimination in Title IX, the 2015 case ruling by the federal judge who allowed Videckis and White Vs. Pepperdine University to go trial will remain a starting point for fighting against it. That landmark 2015 ruling by a California Federal judge opened up the Title IX anti-discrimination measure (first instituted in 1972) to apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation as well, giving Layana White and Haley Videckis their well-deserved spot in history.

But what good is a spot in history when the current legal system keeps failing you? Just this May, the two women underwent psychological evaluations to measure the extent of the stress caused by the lawsuit as well as their exclusion from the team. The moral of the case, if there is one, is that lesbian and queer-identified women continue to suffer from not being considered, heard, or taken seriously in our society at large.

These cases can be taken as examples of Trump’s presidency has already started a wave of unpleasant changes in our court systems. They can also, however, be seen as progress. As women continue to be ignored and ill-treated by the government, they learn to push back harder every time.

Related Posts

Anti-LGBTQ Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh Dies At 70 – E.P.I.C Pride Show, February 24th, 2021

February 24, 2021

February 24, 2021

E.P.I.C Pride, Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture. ⁃ Rush Limbaugh Dead At 70...

The Pride Poets’ Corner “Death Sentence” By: Victor Yates

February 11, 2021

February 11, 2021

In honor of Black History Month The Pride’s featured poem this month is by poet Victor Yates.  Yates is a...

Get the Most out of Your Tax Filing With Mofrad Financial Solutions

February 10, 2021

February 10, 2021

Local finance firm meeting the needs of small/medium sized businesses and individuals Tax season is fast approaching – and to...

Lesbian Police Officer Named Hero After Christmas Day Bombing- E.P.I.C Pride Show, February 10th, 2021

February 10, 2021

February 10, 2021

E.P.I.C Pride, Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture. * Lesbian Police Officer Named Hero...

Hal Holbrook, Actor Who Played Mark Twain, Dies At 95

February 3, 2021

February 3, 2021

Hal Holbrook, the actor best known for his accurate portrayal of Samuel Clemens — better known as Mark Twain —...

Trans Pride Flag Crossing Coming to WeHo – E.P.I.C Pride Show, February 3rd, 2021

February 3, 2021

February 3, 2021

E.P.I.C Pride, Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture. *Gay Black Man Stabbed Left In...

Black History Month: Celebrating Bayard Rustin

January 31, 2021

January 31, 2021

Bayard Rustin was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence, and gay rights. Due to criticism...

We-Drive Ins Opening New Location In Santa Monica

January 28, 2021

January 28, 2021

WE Drive-Ins has announced the opening of an exclusive premiere drive-in experience featuring all new release films, with their newest...

Trailblazing Actress Cicely Tyson Dies At 96

January 28, 2021

January 28, 2021

Iconic actress, former model and civil rights activist Cicely Tyson has died at the age of 96.  Tyson’s manager Larry...

Award Decorated Actress, Cloris Leachman, Dead At 94

January 27, 2021

January 27, 2021

Cloris Leachman, Oscar and Emmy winning actress, has died at the age of 94 from natural causes at her home...

True Blood Getting A Reboot- E.P.I.C Pride Show, January 27th, 2021

January 27, 2021

January 27, 2021

E.P.I.C Pride, Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture. *True Blood Getting A Reboot *John...

L.A. Queer Woman Being Deported From Bali

January 24, 2021

January 24, 2021

Former Los Angeles resident and graphic designer Kristen Antoinette Gray is being deported from Bali over her viral tweets that...

Iconic Talk Show Host Larry King, An LGBTQ Ally, Dies At 87

January 23, 2021

January 23, 2021

Larry King, the iconic talk show host and LGBTQ ally died on Saturday Jan. 23rd.  A statement was posted on...

FBI Investigating Blast At Anti-Gay Church

January 23, 2021

January 23, 2021

An El Monte church that had been threatened this month with an arson attack over its condemnation of same-sex marriages...

Gay Man From Huntington Beach Stormed Capitol Now “In Fear Of His Life”

January 21, 2021

January 21, 2021

32-year-old Kristopher Dreww a gay hairdresser from Huntington Beach was one of many who rioted the Capitol Building on Jan....