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Democratic Governors Association planning conference in anti-LGBT North Carolina

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Has the Democratic Party lost its soul or just its mind by forfeiting its allegiance to LGBT equality?

For the past few months, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA)—an organization operating separate from but under the auspices of the National Democratic Committee—has been planning a policy conference in North Carolina, according to a very reliable source with knowledge of the action.

Apparently the planning started after a former staffer for newly elected North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper joined the DGA. The source did not know if the conference was a counter-measure to the backlash from such prominent LGBT organizations as the Human Rights Campaign, Equality North Carolina and Equality California over Cooper’s “compromise” with conservative state Republicans to “repeal” the transphobic HB2 law in order to appease business boycotters such as the NCAA.

The appeasement worked. On April 18, the NCAA announced that North Carolina is again free enough from anti-LGBT discrimination to hold championship games. “The NCAA has fallen ‘hook, line, and sinker’ for this ‘bait and switch’ sham ‘deal’ doubling down on discrimination,” JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs, said in a press release. “[T]he NCAA has undermined its credibility and is sending a dangerous message to lawmakers across the country who are targeting LGBTQ people with discriminatory state legislation.”

HB 142 still prohibits local anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people in public accommodations or private employment practices until Dec. 1, 2020 and leaves regulation of multiple occupancy restrooms, showers or changing facilities to the state. “I think this will address issues of who we are, how inclusive we are and whether everyone is valued,” said Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue about the “reset” back to pre-HB2 days, according to the News & Observer.

But the LGBT community isn’t buying what that Blue man is selling. “The governor threw the LGBT community under the bus,” Victory Fund President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills told the Washington Blade last month. “It was the LGBT community that ultimately pushed Roy Cooper into victory and he would be wise to remember that. I’m disheartened but I’m not surprised. At the end of the day opportunism is not partisan.”

It was an opportunity the Trump Justice Department couldn’t resist, withdrawing its complaint against HB2 citing the purported repeal.

“Here is yet another instance of the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrawing the federal government’s support from transgender individuals, and they are using the fake repeal of HB2 as cover,” said Lambda Legal’s Jon W. Davidson, noting that Lambda Legal and the ACLU are still pursuing legal challenges to the law.  

Already facing erasure in Trump’s America, the LGBT community may now be facing the slow betrayal of once reliable friends. Democratic pundits now talk about shucking off “identity politics” in favor of economic issues that appeal to overlooked Trump voters. But economic issues are LGBT issues when an LGBT person can be legally disqualified from applying or fired for simply being LGBT. According to a 2015 Center for American Progress report, “America’s 5.1 million LGBT women face lower pay, frequent harassment, compromised access to health care, and heightened violence” and are at high risk for poverty, especially lesbians with children.

The Democratic Governors Association Facebook page offers this glowing tribute to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

Isn’t poverty an issue of concern to America’s Democratic governors?

The Los Angeles Blade source says the DGA has “contacted” the offices of the DGA Executive Committee about the planned conference in North Carolina. The committee is made up of: incoming Chair Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe; Oregon Gov. Kate Brown; and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

The Blade made repeated calls to the offices of the executive committee members and made numerous calls and sent several emails and even Tweeted DGA Communications Director Jared Leopold, to discuss the planned conference but received no response.

Gov. Inslee’s office did respond, but noted that the DGA question was political and outside the scope of the governor’s office. However the staffer noted, Inslee signed a renewed travel ban to North Carolina and therefore it was unlikely that the governor would violate state law to travel to the conference.

Brown’s press office said the question should be put to the governor’s reelection campaign. An email and two calls to campaign manager Thomas Wheatley were not returned. When HB2 first came out, bisexual Gov. Kate Brown said she was “appalled” by the new law but has not commented on the new law.

Rich Azzopardi, a spokesperson for Cuomo, previously told the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson:  “Our review of the new North Carolina law is ongoing, and the Governor’s Executive Order ‎currently remains in effect.”

North Carolina travel bans are being upheld by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and California Gov. Jerry Brown.

“Discrimination is unacceptable and we intend to protect LGBT rights,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. “California’s law was enacted to ensure that, with limited exceptions, our taxpayer resources are not spent in states that authorize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. North Carolina’s new law does not cure the infirmity of this type of discrimination.”

Cities keeping their travel bans include: New York City; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Atlanta; Baltimore; Los Angeles; Oakland; Santa Fe; Cincinnati; Salt Lake City; Palm Springs, Calif.; West Palm Beach; Portland, Maine; Burlington, Vt; and Wilton Manors, Florida—where a series of egg-throwing attacks in the city’s gay corridor are being considered as hate crimes.

The LGBT community has had problems with the DNC before and has been expected to just “grin and bear it.” That time’s long gone. LGBT grassroots have glimpsed full equality and won’t settle for crumbs doled out by DGA smart-ass sell-outs. If the party wants to regain power, it needs to reclaim its soul—and that means embracing the struggle of America’s official second-class LGBT citizens.

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Indiana

South Bend Indiana Rainbow Story Hour disrupted by Proud Boys

Seven men — all Proud Boys — entered the library and began arguing with staff and patrons. Several displayed white supremacist symbols

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Proud Boys via Screenshot/Twitter

SOUTH BEND, In. – A Pride Month children’s Rainbow Story Hour event at the St. Joseph County Public Library’s Virginia M. Tutt Branch on Monday was disrupted after the far-right anti-LGBTQ+ group, the Proud Boys, walked in and began loudly arguing with staff and library patrons.

 At one point during the confrontation, one of the group unfurled a flag reading “Michiana Proud Boys,” appearing to identify the men as a local chapter of the white nationalist hate group.

This latest incident follows Proud Boys targeting LGBTQ+ Pride month events- especially Drag Queen Story Hour events- in Sparks Nevada, Wilmington North Carolina, Alameda California, Boise Idaho, many promulgated by highly influential far-right social media stars like Chaya Raichik, the Brooklyn real estate agent behind @LibsOfTikTok who has highlighted these events she calls out as inappropriate and sexualizing children to her more than 1.3 million followers on Twitter.

South Bend’s NPR outlet WVPE reported that the event was a partnership between the library and TREES, a Michiana organization that provides resources for the local transgender community and operates the Tree House Gender Resource center in downtown South Bend.

But before the event was set to start, seven men — all Proud Boys — entered the library and began arguing with staff and patrons. Several displayed white supremacist symbols, according to photos posted on social media.

Police were called — and the group left after about 40 minutes — but they caused so much disruption that the event had to be canceled.

“This definitely came as a shock,” library system communications manager Marissa Gebhard told WVPE. “We were not anticipating any problems.”

The library plans to reschedule the event in a few months, and Gebhard said the system wants everyone to feel safe and welcome at its branches.

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U.S. Federal Courts

Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in as 116th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

“It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States”

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Screenshot/YouTube SCOTUS TV via the Associated Press

WASHINGTON – In oaths administered by the Chief Justice John Roberts and outgoing Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the 116th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 51 year-old Justice Jackson made history as the first-ever black woman sworn in as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. She replaces Justice Breyer, whose resignation from the Supreme Court becomes effective at noon Thursday (Eastern) after his nearly 28 years of service on the nation’s high court.

In the simple ceremony held at the Court, Jackson in the constitutional oath, given by Chief Justice Roberts, solemnly swore to defend the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

Justice Breyer gave her the statutory oath, in which Jackson swore to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.”

The newly sworn-in Associate Justice was joined by her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, and their two daughters, Talia and Leila.

The court will hold another formal inaugurating ceremony, called an investiture, in the fall, Roberts said. But Thursday’s ceremony allows her to immediately begin work as the newest member of the nine-seat Supreme Court.

Nominated by President Biden and confirmed by the Senate, in April at a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, addressing the audience of members of Congress, the Biden Cabinet, and White House staff along with family and invited guests, Justice Jackson noted;

“As I take on this new role, I strongly believe that this is a moment in which all Americans can take great pride. We have come a long way towards perfecting our union. In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.” 

As the first Black woman to be nominated to serve on the nation’s highest court which she noted in her remarks:

“It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. But we’ve made it,” she said, to applause from the crowd. “We’ve made it, all of us, all of us. And our children are telling me that they see now, more than ever, that here in America anything is possible.“

Quoting Maya Angelou, an American author, poet and civil rights activist, “I am the hope and the dream of the slave,” Jackson said.

In statement issued by the White House, President Biden traveling back from the NATO conference in Madrid aboard Air Force One said:

“I am honored that the very first judicial nominee I selected as President – the brilliant lawyer who became “Judge Jackson” – has now become “Justice Jackson.” 

Her historic swearing in today represents a profound step forward for our nation, for all the young, Black girls who now see themselves reflected on our highest court, and for all of us as Americans. 

The Supreme Court just gained a colleague with a world-class intellect, the dignified temperament the American people expect of a justice, and the strongest credentials imaginable.  

Justice Jackson is a former public defender who served for almost a decade as a district and circuit judge.  Her nomination was endorsed by top legal experts across the political spectrum, as well as our country’s leading law enforcement organizations.  In her career, she has been confirmed four times by the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support.

She is the daughter of educators and the niece of a police chief—and she too has devoted her life to public service. 

She is also the embodiment of hard work, grace, and perseverance.

Justice Jackson’s wisdom and experience, will make all of us proud for so many years to come.

Like I said after her confirmation, Justice Jackson’s ascension to the highest court in the land makes the sun shine on so many of us in a new way.

Justice Jackson succeeds another extraordinarily brilliant jurist who has also devoted their life to their country, including in the U.S. Army as a teenager and on the Watergate Committee  – Justice Steven Breyer. Justice Breyer’s integrity and his commitment to ensuring our nation’s laws worked for the people have made him beloved by his colleagues and deeply respected across our country. I thank him again for his many years of exemplary service.”    

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U.S. Federal Courts

U.S. Supreme Court upholds Biden’s ability to enforce immigration laws

In its 5-4 ruling the high court said that the president may repeal the Trump-era ‘remain in Mexico’ policy

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Screenshot/YouTube NBC News

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday in a 5-4 ruling said the Biden administration can end a policy that forced asylum seekers to pursue their cases in Mexico.

The previous White House’s Migrant Protection Protocols program, which became known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, took effect in 2019.

The Biden administration suspended MPP enrollment shortly after it took office in January 2021. The program was to have ended six months later, but a federal judge in Texas ordered MPP’s reinstatement after the state and Missouri filed suit against the Biden administration.

Thursday’s ruling sends the Texas and Missouri case back to lower courts.

“As Secretary Mayorkas concluded in October 2021 after a thorough review, the prior administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs and pulls resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border,” said the Department of Homeland Security in a statement. “We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision affirming that the Secretary has the discretionary authority to terminate the program, and we will continue our efforts to terminate the program as soon as legally permissible.” 

U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) also welcomed the ruling.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision correctly acknowledges the Biden administration’s authority to end the unlawful and cruel ‘Remain in Mexico’ program,” he said in a statement. “For more than three years, this horrifying policy has denied asylum seekers their right to due process and subjected them to crimes like rape, kidnapping and torture in northern Mexican border cities while they await their court hearings.”

Advocates sharply criticized MPP, in part, because it made LGBTQ+ and intersex asylum seekers who were forced to live in Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, Reynosa, Matamoros and other Mexican border cities even more vulnerable to violence and persecution based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

[email protected] Coalition President Bamby Salcedo on Thursday told the Los Angeles Blade the Supreme Court ruling “will certainly impact our community in a positive way.”

“We know that people who have to remain in Mexico to wait continue to be victims of violence,” said Salcedo. “This is definitely a step in the right direction and we’re grateful that this happened in this way.”

Emilio Vicente, communications and policy director of Familia: TQLM, an organization that advocates on behalf of Transgender and gender non-conforming immigrants, echoed Salcedo.

“We’re glad to finally have some good news from the Supreme Court after horrible rulings on abortions, climate change, Native American rights,” said Vicente. “Ending ‘Remain in Mexico’ will allow LGBTQ+ asylum seekers who face increased discrimination and abuse during the journey to the U.S., to be able to seek asylum here.” 

Abdiel Echevarría-Cabán is a South Texas-based immigration attorney and human rights law and policy expert who the LGBTQ+ Bar in 2021 recognized as one of its 40 best LGBTQ+ lawyers who are under 40.

He told the Blade on Thursday the Supreme Court ruling is “a victory we must celebrate.” Echevarría-Cabán also said MPP placed LGBTQ+ and intersex asylum seekers at increased risk. 

“Refugees in general, but especially LGBT refugees, are extremely vulnerable to other type of harms such as kidnappings by cartel members, extortion, physical and psychological abuses from Mexican law enforcement authorities and third parties given the high levels of discrimination for LGBT refugees in Mexico,” said Echevarría-Cabán.

The Supreme Court issued its ruling a day after the Justice Department filed charges against four people in connection with the deaths of 53 migrants who were found in the back of a tractor trailer truck in San Antonio.

The Biden administration in April announced its plans to terminate Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the Southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the pandemic. Title 42 was to have ended on May 23, but a federal judge ruled against the White House.

“This decision isn’t the end of the fight for ensuring that people seeking asylum get asylum but it’s an important step in protecting vulnerable people,” Vicente told the Blade after Thursday’s ruling. “President Biden must follow through on his commitment to end MPP and protect all asylum seekers.”

Salcedo noted to the Blade the “system, as it is, particularly when it comes to trans women, needs to be completely changed so that we can be at a better place as a community.” Padilla in his statement urged the Biden administration “to do everything in its power to swiftly end ‘Remain in Mexico’ once and for all.”

“Misguided and inhumane Trump-era policies like ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42 have only decimated an already broken immigration system,” he said. “We must keep working to restore the lawful processing of asylum seekers at the border, in keeping with America’s most deeply held values as a nation of immigrants.”

The Department of Homeland Security in its statement notes Title 42 remains in place.

“The department also continues to enforce our immigration laws at the border and administer consequences for those who enter unlawfully, and will continue the court-mandated enforcement of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 public health order,” it reads.

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