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Rep. Lieu revels in trolling Trump

Insists president a ‘danger to the Republic,’ asks for special prosecutor

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Ted Lieu, gay news, Los Angeles Blade

‘The most patriotic thing I could do is to resist our president,’ said Rep. Ted Lieu. (Photo courtesy Twitter)

“Anger can cause all sorts of changes,” Rep. Ted Lieu told the Los Angeles Blade on April 4 when asked why the usually staid lawyer, Air Force Reserve Colonel and computer science geek has let loose trolling President Trump on Twitter.

It’s an anger rooted in a profound sense of betrayal. After the election, Lieu, a longtime LGBT ally who represents LA’s Westside, embraced America’s greatness as demonstrated through a “peaceful transfer of power” and urged supporters to give Trump “a chance to govern.” By the beginning of January, he changed his mind.

“I concluded I was wrong,” Lieu said. “I concluded that Donald Trump is so different that he is a danger to the Republic because he is attacking institutions of our democracy such as the First Amendment and the press—calling it ‘fake news.’ He’s going after our judiciary, calling them ‘so-called judges.’ He is suppressing internal dissent. His main adviser is Steve Bannon, who wants to deconstruct the administrative state. And Donald Trump lies pathologically – and then the public can’t tell the difference between what is truth and what is fiction. That leads us down the road to authoritarianism. And I decided that the most patriotic thing I could do is to resist our president.”

@realDonaldTrump: You truly are an evil man. Your job is to help Americans. Not intentionally try to destroy their lives,” @tedlieu tweeted March 25 in response to Trump’s tweet about the GOP’s failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Lieu’s prolific tweets trolling Trump have made him a political star. But behind the well-crafted words is a shaken belief that America really is in danger with the administration’s responses to Russian intervention, the use of chemical weapons in Syria and North Korea saber-rattling. Additionally, he is concerned about the erosion of democratic principles throughout government—impacting real people’s lives, including those in the LGBT community.

Lieu signed onto a letter organized by Rep. Adam Schiff with Arizona Rep Raúl M. Grijalva and out Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin sent to U.S. Census Bureau Director John Thompson and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney demanding to know why the federal government finds “no federal data need” to include LGBT questions on the next Census survey.

“It really highlights what this administration is doing in terms of trying to take out of public discourse what we know to be true: there are gay people!” Lieu said. “They’re trying to simply effect how the public views reality. And it’s very troubling that this administration wants to erase what makes America great, which is our incredible diversity.”

Will that attitude promoting LGBT erasure become policy and bleed into reporting hate crimes? The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino reported that hate crimes in the city of Los Angeles went up 15 percent in 2016, with a “significant spike” (25 percent) in attacks against the LGBT community, according to the Daily News April 5. Additionally, “hate crimes against transgender persons jumped from 2 in 2015 to 8 in 2016,” according to the LAPD data.”

“Perhaps most disturbing is the surge in the most violent type of attacks, which are aggravated assaults,” said Brian Levin, the center’s director. “Whether it’s the increase in aggravated assaults or criminal threats, it appears that assailants are emboldened.”
Lieu said he is “concerned” that the FBI may also slough off on collecting and reporting LGBT hate crime data.

Lieu’s “resistance” is not limited to Twitter. If the House and Senate investigations show “there was collusion with Russia and Donald Trump knew about it—that would be an impeachable offense,” said Lieu. On March 5, he sent a letter to acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente requesting the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate any Trump campaign collusion with Russia.


“Because you serve at the pleasure of the President, it is our belief that you have a conflict of interest and cannot exercise true independence into an investigation that may implicate the President. That is one of several reasons we request that you appoint a Special Counsel to investigate any collusion with Russia,” the letter reads. “At stake is the legitimacy of the Presidency and whether high crimes occurred.”

Lieu’s concerns extend to the core American principle of upholding human rights, especially in the face of reports of a roundup of gay men and murder of at least three gays in Chechnya.


“What’s happening at the State Department is very alarming,” Lieu said. “The State Department is really the first line of making sure that America does not engage in unnecessary conflicts and wars…. And by making drastic cuts to the State Department while advocating for huge increases in the military, it shows that President Trump has a warmonger mentality where he wants to solve every problem with military force. And that is exactly the wrong way to approach our changing world order.”   


Nor is it logical. “I’m very troubled by Donald Trump’s stance on human rights,” said Lieu. “He recently green-lighted a sale of weapons to Bahrain that the Obama administration did not do because they were concerned about Bahrain’s human rights record—which is also very anti-LGBT. The Trump administration is sending a message that they are going to de-couple human rights from weapon sales. I think that’s a very grave mistake.”


Asked about the irony of candidate Trump campaigning for LGBT votes by referencing “radical Islamic terrorists” beheading gays under Sharia Law—and the fact that Bahrain is governed under Sharia Law—Lieu said: “You’re asking me to state that what this administration does is logical and I can’t say that.”


There are many ways to resist. Attending protests rallies “is significant,” he said, noting how the Jan. 21 women’s marches showed that “the populist movement opposing Donald Trump was larger than his relatively small populist movement.”

Lieu will hold Town Hall meetings in Santa Monica on April 20 and Redondo Beach on April 24. Check his website for updates.

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U.S. Federal Courts

Anti-LGBTQ hate group asks Supreme Court to reverse 11th Circuit ruling

“No one is trying to suppress anyone’s right to believe in their own faith- They’re making it look like we’re attacking religious freedom”

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Screenshot via Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel video 2017

WASHINGTON – The D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM), the Coral Ridge, Florida based anti-LGBTQ+ Christian group petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling by a lower Federal court that dismissed DJKM’s defamation lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

DJKM, which has been defined as an extremist hate group on by the Southern Poverty Law Center for lies and propaganda smearing LGBTQ+ people on its hate-watch map and list, filed a brief with the High Court on November 24.

In its appeal brief, DJKM, represented by the National Center for Law and Liberty (NCLL), asks the Court to reconsider its 1964 decision in New York Times v. Sullivan, a ruling which created a high bar for “public figures” to win defamation suits.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected DJKM’s defamation suit based on the Times v. Sullivan standard.

Sullivan requires “public figures” to demonstrate “actual malice” on the part of defendants in defamation suits.

In so doing, bringing a civil suit that seeks damages for defamation brought by a person in the public eye becomes an almost impossible task, depriving that individual of the opportunity to defend their reputation, the legal brief claims.

“That gives reputational terrorists like the SPLC carte blanche to attack and destroy its ideological enemies,” said Dr. Frank Wright, President and CEO of DJKM.

“We are asking the Court to give us and similarly situated ministries and individuals the ability to bring a claim for reputational harm that is currently denied under Sullivan.”

Founded by D. James Kennedy who spent nearly 50 years at Coral Ridge Presbyterian, which the group was originally called. Kennedy was known nationally for the “Coral Ridge Hour,” which was one of the highest rated syndicated religious programs on broadcast TV — and for his opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, pornography, fetal stem cell research and the teaching of evolution. Kennedy died in September 2007 at age 76.

In a 2017 interview with the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale as the news broke that DJKM had sued the SPLC, the ministries’ arguments against SPLC in the suit aren’t as simple as it portrays, Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis told the paper.

Before he became the city’s first openly gay commissioner, he was a community activist who tangled with Kennedy and his organization over its stand on LGBT issues.

Trantalis said the Kennedy Ministries isn’t being persecuted for its religious views. “No one is trying to suppress anyone’s right to believe in their own faith,” he said. “This is a continuation of an effort to make Christian as much of America as possible. … They’re just rebranding their message and making it look like we’re attacking their religious freedom.”

“Let’s not forget the legacy of D. James Kennedy,” Trantalis said, recalling the environment in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He said Kennedy stood with people opposed to LGBT rights “and supported everything that they said to denigrate the LGBT community at that time.” Trantalis pointed to his support for “reparative therapy in which he strongly advocated trying to ‘pray away the gay,’ and to force young kids into trying to deny their sexual orientation.”

“They may not want to bring up those episodes of the past. They perhaps remember him in a different way. But this community will never forget the legacy that he leaves behind,” he said.

Labeling the SPLC as a “watchdog/Left-wing advocacy group” the suit alleges that the SPLC classified DJKM as a “hate group” for teaching the traditional, Biblical position on marriage and sexuality.

The lawsuit also claims that because of SPLC’s false and defamatory label, DJKM has suffered reputational injury and financial harm from both increased security expenses and decreased donations.

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Maryland

Long-time LGBTQ activist running for Maryland’s House of Delegates

His LGBTQ advocacy work also includes senior policy counsel for the National LGBTQ Task Force and organizer for Pride at Work

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Patrick Paschall (Photo courtesy of Eli Sauerwalt of Patrick Paschall for Delegate)

HYATTSVILLE, Md. – Former FreeState Justice Executive Director Patrick Paschall last week announced via social media that he is running for the Maryland House of Delegates.

“As a proud parent of two kids in Prince George’s County public schools, former Hyattsville City Council member, and lifelong civil rights advocate and policy analyst, I’ve spent my life and career working for equity, community and sustainability for my family,” Paschall said in a statement posted to Facebook on Nov. 23. 

Paschall, who currently is the American Rescue Plan Program Manager for the city of Hyattsville, previously served as executive director for FreeState Justice from 2015 to 2017. 

His LGBTQ advocacy work also includes serving as senior policy counsel for the National LGBTQ Task Force, as an organizer for Pride at Work and as a policy fellow for the National Center for Transgender Equality.  

He also worked for Family Equality Council, an organization advocating for the rights of same-sex couples and their children. 

“One of the things I’m running on is being a parent,” Paschall told the Washington Blade. “We can provide more opportunities for families to succeed in our communities.”

Paschall is running to represent District 22, which includes Hyattsville, where he has lived for over 10 years with his two children, who currently attend Hyattsville Elementary School, and his wife, who identifies as pansexual. 

He told the Blade he views his family as a “rainbow family,” but pointed out since he and his wife did not have to endure the same difficulties as his friends who are married same-sex couples when they wanted to adopt children.

“When I became a parent, no one stopped by my house to make sure it was an adequate living situation for my child, no one checked to make sure I had a room dedicated to the child and for no other purpose,” he said. “But my friends Jamie and Sean went through all of that when they tried to adopt a kid.”

Paschall explained that even though he and his wife didn’t go through these experiences, there was still room for Maryland to improve in the areas of adoptions and civil rights. 

“It strikes me how much privilege I have because the state doesn’t design to make it hard for me like it does for so many same-sex couples,” he explained. 

Patrick Paschall with his family. (Photo courtesy of Eli Sauerwalt of Patrick Paschall for Delegate)

Much like with the recent elections in neighboring Virginia, Paschall said helping parents is an important issue for him — one he wants to carry to Annapolis — if elected “because my district deserves better schools for our kids, more child care options and family support like paid family leave.”

“I think that District 22 needs a voice in Annapolis to represent progressive parents and to exercise policy expertise in achieving the values of our community,” he added. “And I have the experience to get it done.”

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U.S. Federal Courts

Supreme Court justices appear to lean towards overturn of Roe v. Wade

If the justices overturn Roe and Casey, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that 26 states will implement complete bans on abortion

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The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court (Photo Credit: US Supreme Court)

WASHINGTON – The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case involving a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart began by arguing the court’s abortion rulings have “poisoned the law.”

“Roe vs. Wade and Planned Parenthood versus Casey haunt our country,” Stewart said. “They have no basis in the Constitution. They have no home in our history or traditions. They’ve damaged the democratic process. They poison the law. They’ve choked off compromise. For 50 years they’ve kept this court at the center of a political battle that it can never resolve and 50 years on, they stand alone. Nowhere else does this court recognize a right to end a human life.”

According to observers in the courtroom, most of the six conservative justices appeared to agree. “The Constitution is neither pro-life nor pro-choice on abortion,” Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh said.

NBC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pete Williams noted; “It’s pretty clear that Miss. law is going to survive and that the standard that the Supreme Court has used for 50 years to decide when states are violating its rules on banning abortion, of viability, banning it before the fetus is viable, is dead.”

Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, passed in 2018 but has been blocked by two lower federal courts, allows abortion after 15 weeks “only in medical emergencies or for severe fetal abnormality” and has no exception for rape or incest. If doctors perform abortions outside the parameters of the law, they will have their medical licenses suspended or revoked and may be subject to additional penalties and fines.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only licensed abortion provider in the state, went immediately to federal court to challenge the law, arguing that it is unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s previous rulings including Roe v. Wade, which was decided in 1973.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar urged the justices to uphold precedent and avoid a ruling that would disproportionally harm women who have come to depend upon the decision, CNN reported.

“For a half century, this Court has correctly recognized that the Constitution protects a woman’s fundamental right to decide whether to end a pregnancy before viability,” she argued. “That guarantee, that the state cannot force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth, has engendered substantial individual and societal reliance. The real-world effects of overruling Roe and Casey would be severe and swift,” Prelogar told the justices.

She added: “The court has never revoked a right that is so fundamental to so many Americans and so central to their ability to participate fully and equally in society.”

A U.S. District Court had blocked the Mississippi law, holding that it is in direct violation of Roe v. Wade, the precedent legalizing abortion nationwide prior to viability, which can occur at around 23-24 weeks of pregnancy.

A panel of judges on the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed ruling that “unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability.”

The Circuit Court said states may “regulate abortion procedures prior to viability” so long as they do not ban abortion. “The law at issue is a ban,” the court stated.

In an analysis published by SCOTUS blog, Amy Howe noted;

If the justices overturn Roe and Casey, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that 26 states (including Mississippi) will implement complete bans on abortion. Although the stakes in the case are thus obviously high, Mississippi takes pains to assure the justices that overruling Roe and Casey would not have ripple effects beyond abortion rights. It distinguishes abortion from other constitutionalized privacy interests, such as interracial marriage and same-sex marriage, saying that those interests – unlike abortion – do not involve the “purposeful termination of a potential life.”

But a “friend of the court” brief supporting the state argues that the effects would be much more expansive than Mississippi suggests. The brief filed by Texas Right to Life (whose counsel of record, Jonathan Mitchell, was the architect of Texas’ six-week abortion ban) tells the justices that the court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia, establishing the right to interracial marriage, would survive if Roe were overruled because the Civil Rights Act of 1866 “provides all the authority needed” to strike down a state law banning interracial marriage. However, the group adds, the court’s decisions in Lawrence v. Texas, striking down a Texas law prohibiting gay sex, and Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage, would necessarily fall because they are “as lawless as Roe.”

In a statement to the Blade after the arguments had concluded, Shannon Minter, the Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) warned;

Today’s arguments should be a wakeup call for LGBTQ people. We must face the reality of a Supreme Court packed by one of the most reactionary presidents of our time, and we must get serious about passing a federal law that protects basic rights and liberties for our community. If you care about LGBTQ equality, it is essential as never before to do everything within your power to elect fair-minded local, state, and federal officials and to engage in real dialogue with those who do not yet fully understand or support LGBTQ people. We do not have the luxury of disengagement or passivity. If you are not actively involved in supporting a federal civil rights law for LGBTQ people, you are part of the problem.”

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