Governors in the U.S. have tried and failed multiple times to enshrine discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community by passing “religious freedom” bills. At the heart of these bills is the idea that someone’s religion is enough to discriminate against those of different faiths, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Puerto Rico tried to follow the same failed path as Indiana and the backlash was swift and victorious after Ricky Martin and Bad Bunny (Benito Martinez) spoke out against the bill forcing Governor Ricardo Rosselló to backtrack on his bill to discriminate.
In April, Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló presented the Puerto Rican House of Representatives a “religious freedom” bill.
The bill was months in the making and Gov. Rosselló showed his full support for the bill, House Bill 2069. The bill would have allowed for government employees to openly discriminate against people who went against their religious beliefs.
Ricky Martin spoke up against the measure and called out the Puerto Rican government and their willingness to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.
“While the world calls for equality, respect for diversity and the defense of human rights, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the Governor of Puerto Rico are pushing for a measure that goes against all of the above and it encourages division, prejudice, hatred and the lack of respect for individuality,” Martin wrote on his fan website. “It does so under a premise that undermines the constitutional protections against discrimination on the basis of race, sex or belief, and in its place, justifies an irrational protection of the religious convictions of government employees.”
“As a member of the LGBTT community, I join the constituency that affirms that there has never been a willingness among our LGBTT people to allow for the validation or legalization of discrimination against us.”
“House Bill 2069, filed at the request of Governor Ricardo Rosselló and promoted by Representative Charbonier, achieve nothing more than opening the doors to hatred towards anyone who doesn’t share the same ideology, who simply belong to the LGBTT community, or who don’t have the same color skin, amidst many other discriminatory measures.”
“Authentic religious freedom calls for respecting everyone equally.”
Bad Bunny also used his platform to stand up for the LGBTQ+ community in Puerto Rico.
“While we ‘bad guys’ do out to unite people and try to send a message of respect and tolerance, the leaders of my country work to do the opposite,” he wrote on Instagram. “We cannot take steps backwards, NEVER! @ricardorossello you make excellent coffee, I know that you can also make an excellent decision.”
Calle 13’s Residente joined his Puerto Rican peers to call out the Puerto Rican government’s wishes to strip LGBTQ+ people of their humanity with the law.
These calls against the action came during Pride month when the U.S. is supposed to be celebrating and uplifting the LGBTQ+ community, which still faces discrimination and violence.
After the outcry, Gov. Rosselló reversed his support for the bill and ordered the Puerto Rican House of Representatives to shelf the bill.
“WE WON! The recent years, Western countries have made significant advances in guaranteeing equal right for the LGBTT community,” Martin tweeted.
Martin celebrated the decision by educating his followers about what the measure would mean for the LGBTQ+ community.
“These advances were threatened recently in Puerto Rico, where the House fo Representatives passed legislation that endangered the progress won in the last decade and risked feeding the division, prejudice, and tensions between the communities.”
He did not sugar coat the true meaning behind the legislation.
“By granting government employees the power to act in accordance with their religious convictions, personal values, and principles, this regressive legislation would have sanctioned the practice of institutional discrimination on the part of those who committed themselves to a life in public service.”
It just goes to show that enough public outcry can make politicians listen to the majority instead of the vocal minority.
We see celebrities all the time at the airport. Sometimes they’re noteworthy (Edward James Olmos, Rosario Dawson), sometimes they’re yawners (Gérard Depardieu), but imagine seeing one half of Outkast at your gate. Wouldn’t you freak out? That’s exactly what happened to a New York-based journalist.
Antonia Cereijido, a producer for NPR’s Latino USA podcast, was casually waiting for her flight at the Los Angeles Airport when she spotted André 3000.
The sighting almost wasn’t meant to be. Cerejido explained that she had missed her first flight.
“The crazy thing is I was supposed to take a flight at 11:15 the night before,” she told Slate in an interview, “but there were 50 minutes of traffic at the airport, so I missed my flight. I was very upset. I had to buy flights for the next day, and I was annoyed. I arrived super early, like, “I’m not going to miss my second flight.”
When she realized it was him, she — as any smart person would do — asked to take a picture with him.
“Well, I think I said, ‘I’m a big fan of yours,’ and then because my friend had said, ‘That’s not a flute,’ I asked, ‘What instrument is that?’ and he said, ‘Oh, it’s a flute. It’s an indigenous double flute.’ Then I asked to take a photo. I was sort of starstruck. I took the photo, and I went away as quickly as possible before I said anything and I sat down. Then we all boarded the plane, and I uploaded the post on Instagram and on Twitter. I saw that it was popular because it was probably only up for 10 minutes and it had 600 likes.”
Yeah, her tweet was popular. It’s gotten more than 50K retweets.
“I had one tweet before get kind of popular,” she told Slate. “It was, like, a thousand likes, so I was excited. Then I turned my phone off. And then, when we landed six hours later, it had 68,000 likes. And actually, my first feeling was dread. I felt kind of bad, like, what if I’m outing—what if this is what he does, he goes to places and plays the flute and kind of stays low-key? Because it wasn’t like he was asking for a lot of attention—he was doing his own thing. And I could tell that he saw I was staring at him when he was going back-and-forth, but it wasn’t like he was mad at the attention. He was just sort of neutral.”
But, about that indigenous flute.
People on social media actually questioned her about her flute knowledge, but she got the response directly from André and the makers.
“I just got off the phone with Guillermo Martinez the man who made Andres’s beautiful flute, she tweeted. “It’s a Mayan double flute. He and his shop are doing incredible work by keeping the music if indigenous North American communities alive. Here is his website: https://www.quetzalcoatlmusic.org/ “
The best part about the story is how Outkast is part of her family history.
“My family is originally from Argentina, and when we first moved from New York to San Diego, it was so different from my experience up until then that my family became really close,” she told Slate. “And there were two things we listened to all the time: the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Outkast. And we became obsessed with the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below album. My mom had a dream that André 3000 taught us the “Hey Ya!” dance. I always remembered that, because it was such a funny thing for my mom to say. And so I have this very fond feeling about him, and he lived up to that. My mom dreamed that he would be nice and teach us something, and that happened to me in real life, which is so crazy.”