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NATIONAL Political candidates, flag controversy, HRC gala, New York Times, Disney
by Andrew Davis
2024-03-29

This article shared 10978 times since Fri Mar 29, 2024
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In California, of the historic 30 LGBTQ+ legislative candidates who ran in the March 5 primary, more than half are moving on to the fall ballot, The Bay Area Reporter noted. Based on the still unofficial primary returns in the various races, the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus is pretty much assured of seeing its current 12-person membership increase when the winners of the fall races are sworn into office in early December. The seven current members standing for election this year will likely win their races; also, five of the newcomers appear poised to easily win their races, with another three are seen as having strong chances of prevailing in November. However, three of the current caucus members will be leaving this year. Lesbian senators Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) are termed out, and gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) sought an open U.S. House seat instead of another term.

President Joe Biden agreed to ban U.S. embassies from flying the LGBTQ pride flag as part of a $1.2-trillion spending deal to keep most U.S. government agencies open through Sept. 30, per The South China Morning Post. House Speaker Mike Johnson has been promoting the flag prohibition, which was folded into the funding agreement, as a victory for Republicans. In a statement, the White House's budget office endorsed the overall deal and urged swift passage. Some conservatives have criticized the embassies' display of the pride banner and Black Lives Matter flag—which the provision also bars—as politically divisive. A Democrat familiar with the funding deal said the provision bans displaying any flag other than an approved U.S. flag, so it also would prevent embassies from flying Confederate or Trump-themed "Make America Great Again" flags. However, there is no ban on embassy officials' personal use of Pride flags.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) brought together more than 650 LGBTQ+ advocates and supporters for its annual Los Angeles Dinner on March 23, per a press release. The event honored advocates including Oscar nominee and three-time Emmy Award winning actor/producer Sterling K. Brown; and Tony, Grammy and seven-time Emmy nominated actress Jean Smart. Longtime LGBTQ+-rights advocate and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden delivered the keynote speech, addressing the growing rise of anti-LGBTQ+ political attacks and the path forward towards full equality. (Her speech was disrupted by protestors calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, Variety noted.) In part, Biden said, "Yes, the MAGA extremists are seeking to erase these hard fought gains. Trying to unwind all the progress that we've made. They want us to be afraid. They want to take our victories away. But, we won't let them. And we will win, today, tomorrow and all of the days after—until all of the people in all of the places can live freely, surrounded by love."

A new report from Media Matters and GLAAD concluded that The New York Times excluded the perspectives of trans people from two-thirds of its stories about anti-trans legislation in the year following public criticism for its handling of the topic, per a Media Matters release. Media Matters previously reported that the Times helped fuel a right-wing anti-trans panic in 2022 by platforming anti-trans extremists, among other things. Also, the report said that 18% of the articles quoted misinformation from anti-trans activists without adequate fact-checking or additional context. The full release is at https://www.mediamatters.org/new-york-times/seen-not-heard-new-york-times-failed-quote-trans-people-over-60-2023-stories-anti.

Disney and allies of Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit over who controls Walt Disney World's governing district, WESH reported. The development ended almost two years of litigation that was sparked by DeSantis' takeover of the district from Disney supporters following the company's opposition to Florida's so-called "Don't Say Gay" law. As punishment for Disney's opposition, DeSantis took over the governing district through legislation passed by the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature and appointed a new board of supervisors; in turn, Disney sued DeSantis and his appointees, claiming the company's free-speech rights were violated for speaking out against the legislation.

Joan Gibbs—a NYC activist and attorney who fought HIV/AIDS and advanced racial justice, women's rights and LGBTQ+ rights—died on March 14 at the age of 71, Gay City News reported. Gibbs said she joined ACT UP, an activist group fighting to end AIDS, beginning in the 1980s when she attended a demonstration on Wall Street. Also, she was a founding leader of Dykes Against Racism Everywhere (DARE), which launched in 1979 in response to the murder of demonstrators in Greensboro, North Carolina who were protesting racism.

In Atlanta, the Total Life Care Center clinic has opened, occupying several floors at the NAESM organization building, WABE reported. The clinic is designed to be a one-stop location that offers HIV care and PrEP as well as prevention and testing services for sexually transmitted infections, along with assistance with housing, health insurance and other patient needs. "Who we target, who we prioritize, who we were created for are Black gay, bisexual, same-gender loving men. And because we reflect that population we really are a home for them, a medical home for them, and a social service home for them," NAESM CEO/Executive Director Alvan Quamina said. "They don't have to explain themselves. They don't have to apologize." However, a large number of women patients also visit for HIV and STI testing.

Police had to evacuate a public library in Pennsylvania as well as two surrounding residential blocks after bomb threats were made and a package was found in the run-up to a planned Drag Queen Story Hour event, PinkNews noted. The LGBTQ+ organization Lancaster Pride posted on social media that "Drag Story Hour with Miss Amie" had been canceled, adding "the safety and well-being of our community are of utmost importance to us." The event had been protested by a large group who held a prayer vigil outside the library the night before; also, there had been angry scenes at a recent county commissioners meeting.

And in a related matter, an April book reading in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, featuring author Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff and Falls Church News-Press owner/editor Nick Benton was canceled following the bomb threats targeting the Lancaster Public Library, the Blade reported. "I am disappointed by the cancellation but it was the right call given the recent threats targeting the LGBTQ community in Lancaster," said Naff. "MAGA Republicans must dial back their rhetoric and their attacks on our community; they are dangerous and draconian and will cost lives."

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Senate Bill 5462—which requires public schools in Washington to create a curriculum including the histories, contributions and perspectives of marginalized communities, KGW reported. "LGBTQ identities were erased in schools and, largely, in most places they still are," said Ken Shulman, the executive director for the LGBTQ+ youth center Lambert House. ""t's considered too controversial to mention to kids that Thoreau was gay, or Walt Whitman was gay,. Alan Turing—who invented the first computer, helped serve the Enigma code and win World War II—was gay." By June 2025, state education leaders will revise a model policy; by October 2025, all public schools in Washington will have to put the new curriculum in place.

The state of South Dakota issued an apology letter and a $300,000 payment to the transgender advocacy group The Transformation Project for the abrupt cancellation of a Department of Health contract in 2022, per The South Dakota Searchlight. The group had a contract with the state, paid for with federal funds, to provide community health worker services to the LGBTQ+ community from its Sioux Falls headquarters. The cancellation happened shortly after a conservative news outlet contacted Gov. Kristi Noem to ask why the state had signed the $136,000 contract.

Former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut)—who had served first as a longtime Democratic senator and then declared himself an independent winning re-election in 2006—died at age 82 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital due to complications from a fall, per The Washington Blade. Lieberman viewed himself as a centrist Democrat, solidly in his party's mainstream with his support of abortion rights, environmental protection, LGBTQ+ rights and gun control, the Washington Post noted. Lieberman said the effort to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in Congress was one of the most satisfying experiences he had as a senator.

In Michigan, as Ann Arbor celebrates its 200th anniversary, city leaders are making plans to honor the city's trailblazing history of LGBTQ+ rights, per MLive. The Michigan Historical Commission has granted the city permission to erect an official historical marker outside city hall, the state informed the city in a letter. The final text will read, in part, "In October 1973, the Ann Arbor City Council debated the city's failure to prosecute lesbian and gay discrimination under its landmark 1972 Human Rights Ordinance. Council members Nancy Wechsler and Jerry DeGrieck came out as lesbian and gay, respectively, in order to emphasize the importance of active enforcement under the law. They were the first elected officials holding public office to come out as LGBTQ+ in the United States." Along with the historical marker, the city is making plans to erect a statue of Kathy Kozachenko—who became the first openly gay person elected to public office, at age 21—in front of city hall later this year as part of the city's bicentennial celebrations.

Democratic Delaware Gov. John Carney endorsed his former State Housing Authority Director and cabinet member Eugene Young over Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride—the nation's first openly transgender state senator—for Delaware's only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the state's Sept. 10 Democratic primary, per The Washington Blade. Carney's endorsement of Young came one day before the Delaware Building and Construction Trades Union announced it and 20 of its local unions from across the state have endorsed McBride for the congressional seat. A public opinion poll of likely Democratic primary voters conducted last September showed that McBride was leading Young 44 percent to 23 percent.

West Texas A&M University President Walter Wendler canceled a charity drag show planned to be held by student-led organization Spectrum WT for the second time, per The Hill. This move followed a recent denial by the U.S. Supreme Court of students' request for emergency action to let the show go ahead. Wendler canceled a similar charity drag show last year that the group had organized..He said drag shows are "derisive, divisive and demoralizing misogyny, no matter the stated intent" and compared drag to blackface in an email to the university community.

Billionaire philanthropist Mackenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon head Jeff Bezos, announced she would donate about $640 million to more than 300 charities nationwide, the Los Angeles Blade noted. Just a few of the community-led nonprofits receiving gifts include ACLU of Alabama, The LGBTQ Center Long Beach, Women Helping Women, Virginia Poverty Law Center, Equal Rights Advocates, EverThrive Illinois, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center and Center for Black Women's Wellness. The full list is at https://yieldgiving.com/essays/open-call-results.

Don Lemon told Tamron Hall that he went on antidepressants after he was fired from CNN last summer, per Page Six. Lemon—whose new show was just axed from Elon Musk's platform, X—also admitted that he has experimented with alternative drugs to treat depression—under the supervision of his doctor. A source said that he "was crying and happy to see how Tamron rebounded after NBC." Hall exited NBC News and MSNBC in 2017 after a decade at the network after her show, Today's Take (with Al Roker), was canceled.

Nebraska state Sen. Steve Halloran, a far-right Republican, is being investigated for sexual harassment after using a colleague's name while reading a graphic rape scene on the legislative floor, The Advocate noted. Halloran attempted to restrict Alice Sebold's critically acclaimed memoir Lucky by reading a passage he claimed was inappropriate for students. Halloran recited the scene, which featured a detailed depiction of sexual assault, while replacing the victim's name with that of fellow lawmaker Machaela Cavanaugh—a Democrat who has consistently opposed book bans and supported LGBTQ+ rights. Through tears, Cavanaugh denounced Halloran's actions as "beyond the pale" and "disgusting." Halloran apologized for invoking the name but defended his reading of the passage.


This article shared 10978 times since Fri Mar 29, 2024
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