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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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White House, Don’t Say Gay law: “This is discrimination, plain and simple”

“State officials who claim to champion liberty are limiting the freedom of their fellow Americans simply to be themselves”

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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (The White House)

WASHINGTON – The White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre released a statement Friday as Florida’s notorious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law took effect, saying “[…] state officials who claim to champion liberty are limiting the freedom of their fellow Americans simply to be themselves.”

President Biden also tweeted about the law prior to leaving for Camp David to spend the July 4th holiday weekend, calling the law “the latest attempt by Republicans in state houses to target LGBTQI+ students, teachers, and families.”

In her statement, Jean-Pierre said:

“Today, some of Florida’s most vulnerable students and families are more fearful and less free. As the state’s shameful “Don’t Say Gay” law takes effect, state officials who claim to champion liberty are limiting the freedom of their fellow Americans simply to be themselves.

“Already, there have been reports that “Safe Space” stickers are being taken down from classrooms. Teachers are being instructed not to wear rainbow clothing. LGBTQI+ teachers are being told to take down family photos of their husbands and wives—cherished family photos like the ones on my own desk.

“This is not an issue of “parents’ rights.” This is discrimination, plain and simple. It’s part of a disturbing and dangerous nationwide trend of right-wing politicians cynically targeting LGBTQI+ students, educators, and individuals to score political points.

“It encourages bullying and threatens students’ mental health, physical safety, and well-being. It censors dedicated teachers and educators who want to do the right thing and support their students. And it must stop.

“President Biden has been very clear that every student deserves to feel safe and welcome in the classroom.

“The Department of Education will be monitoring this law, and any student or parent who believes they are experiencing discrimination is encouraged to file a complaint with the Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

“Our Administration will continue to fight for dignity and opportunity for every student and family—in Florida and around the country.”

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Florida

Florida county’s school policy critics say “essentially targets LGBTQ+ kids”

“Sending out a parent notification could be seen as placing a target on a student’s back,” said Lauren Kelly-Manders, a Tallahassee resident

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Screenshot/YouTube students in a classroom generic news coverage

TALLAHASSEE – The Leon County School Board this week unanimously approved its “LGBTQ Inclusive School Guide” after a rancorous and at times heated debate Tuesday. At the heart of the new policy are guidelines that critics charge will harm LGBTQ+ youth in the school system.

The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported what drew the most debate was a provision that a school will notify parents — by form — if a student who is “open about their gender identity” is in a physical education class or on an overnight trip. 

Some teachers and students during the Tuesday night meeting said the policy will “out” LGBTQ+ students — revealing their sexual orientation or gender identity without their permission. 

While the policy language does explicitly say a student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression “should not be shared with others without their input and permission,”  advocacy groups and activists claim that in “real world” application the policy’s danger to Outing LGBTQ+ kids remains regardless.

Los Angeles-based writer and actor Benjamin Siemon took to Twitter angrily noting that the policy “essentially paints these children as sex offenders that require warnings.”

Supporters of the school board’s new policy included the Leon County chapter of Mom’s for Liberty, a national far-right anti-LGBTQ+ activist group which has sought to ban LGBTQ+ books and curriculum nationwide. But the sticking point for the group is the provision doesn’t go far enough.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Sharyn Kerwin, head of the Leon County chapter of Mom’s for Liberty and who also served on the advisory committee to the School board as it crafted the new policy, told board members and the audience Tuesday: “Any attempt to withhold information from a parent or try to influence a child in a knowing way is against Florida law.”

Kerwin and other parents argued that the Parental Rights in Education bill, HB 1557, colloquially referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” law requires school administrators to notify parents and many in the audience Tuesday citing biblical verses maintained discussions about sexual orientation have no place in schools.

Opponents charge that this policy will effectively weaponize bigotry and target LGBTQ+ kids, especially trans youth.

Critics of the notification policy say the district’s language is equating “gender identity” with LGBTQ sexuality. They note that even someone who is “straight” expresses themselves via their clothing choices or appearance and can be “open about their gender identity,” the Tallahassee Democrat noted.

“Sending out a parent notification could be seen as placing a target on a student’s back,” said Lauren Kelly-Manders, a Tallahassee resident. 

In the end, even with the policy approved, none were happy with the outcome as one side claiming not enough consideration was given to parental rights and opponents charging this will simply increase bullying of LGBTQ+ kids.

“Normally when we have something on the agenda, we have a group that’s for, and a group that’s against,” school board Vice Chair Alva Striplin noted adding, “Well, tonight we had everyone against.”

The school board voted to approve the guide unanimously 4-0.  According to the Tallahassee Democrat school board members will schedule another meeting to revisit the guide in six months to adjust the policy if needed. 

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The White House

White House announces 17 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients

The nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom will be presented to those named at the White House on July 7, 2022

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Megan Rapinoe, an Out Olympic gold medalist is among those named ((Screenshot/YouTube via U.S. Soccer )

WASHINGTON – The White House today released President Joe Biden’s selection of recipients for bestowing the nation’s highest civilian honor,  the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The awards will be presented at the White House on July 7, 2022.

Included among the seventeen honorees are Megan Rapinoe, the Out Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion. She also captains OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League. She is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice, and LGBTQI+ rights.

Also selected by the president for a posthumous recognition was Richard Trumka, the powerful labor leader and longtime Democratic ally of the LGBTQ+ community who passed away last August. Trumka had led the AFL-CIO since 2009 and who throughout his career, was an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ Americans, social and economic justice.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.

Presidential Medal of Freedom (The White House)

The following individuals will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

Simone Biles
Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast in history, with a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. Biles is also a prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system, and victims of sexual assault.

Sister Simone Campbell
Sister Simone Campbell is a member of the Sisters of Social Service and former Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization. She is also a prominent advocate for economic justice, immigration reform, and healthcare policy.

Julieta García
Dr. Julieta García is the former president of The University of Texas at Brownsville, where she was named one of Time magazine’s best college presidents. Dr. García was the first Hispanic woman to serve as a college president and dedicated her career to serving students from the Southwest Border region.

Gabrielle Giffords
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona State Senate, serving first in the Arizona legislature and later in the U.S. Congress. A survivor of gun violence, she co-founded Giffords, a nonprofit organization dedicated to gun violence prevention.

Fred Gray
Fred Gray was one of the first black members of the Alabama State legislature since Reconstruction. As an attorney, he represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP, and Martin Luther King, who called him “the chief counsel for the protest movement.”

Steve Jobs (posthumous)
Steve Jobs (d. 2011) was the co-founder, chief executive, and chair of Apple, Inc., CEO of Pixar and held a leading role at the Walt Disney Company. His vision, imagination and creativity led to inventions that have, and continue to, change the way the world communicates, as well as transforming the computer, music, film and wireless industries.

Father Alexander Karloutsos
Father Alexander Karloutsos is the former Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. After over 50 years as a priest, providing counsel to several U.S. presidents, he was named by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as a Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Khizr Khan
Khizr Khan is a Gold Star father and founder of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center. He is a prominent advocate for the rule of law and religious freedom and served on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom under President Biden.

Sandra Lindsay
Sandra Lindsay is a New York critical care nurse who served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response. She was the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials and is a prominent advocate for vaccines and mental health for health care workers.

John McCain (posthumous)
John McCain (d. 2018) was a public servant who was awarded a Purple Heart with one gold star for his service in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. He also served the people of Arizona for decades in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and was the Republican nominee for president in 2008.

Diane Nash
Diane Nash is a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who organized some of the most important civil rights campaigns of the 20th century. Nash worked closely with Martin Luther King, who described her as the “driving spirit in the nonviolent assault on segregation at lunch counters.”

Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe is an Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion. She also captains OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League. She is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice, and LGBTQI+ rights.

Alan Simpson
Alan Simpson served as a U.S. Senator from Wyoming for 18 years. During his public service, he has been a prominent advocate on issues including campaign finance reform, responsible governance, and marriage equality.

Richard Trumka (posthumous)
Richard Trumka (d. 2021) was president of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO for more than a decade, president of the United Mine Workers, and secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. Throughout his career, he was an outspoken advocate for social and economic justice.

Wilma Vaught
Brigadier General Wilma Vaught is one of the most decorated women in the history of the U.S. military, repeatedly breaking gender barriers as she rose through the ranks. When she retired in 1985, she was one of only seven women generals in the Armed Forces.

Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington is an actor, director, and producer who has won two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and the 2016 Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also served as National Spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for over 25 years.

Raúl Yzaguirre
Raúl Yzaguirre is a civil rights advocate who served as CEO and president of National Council of La Raza for thirty years. He also served as U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic under President Barack Obama.

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