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BREAKING: Bauman wins California Democratic Party chair race, but party is deeply divided

Dirty tricks against Eric Bauman in the weeks leading up to the convention failed to sway the party

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Eric Bauman supporters celebrate his narrow victory. (Courtesy Eric Bauman’s Facebook page)

After the shocking election of Reality TV star Donald Trump last November, progressive Democrats and independents vowed California would stand as a fortress against the expected Trumpian onslaught of attacks against the state. Lawmakers and other leaders promised to protect LGBT rights, undocumented immigrants, women, the disabled, the poor and the elderly.

But no one expected the attacks to come from within.

Something happened on the way to the California Democratic Convention. The old Democratic circular firing squad reappeared after years of sparring politicos working out their differences. And Saturday, the debilitating 2016 primary fight between “establishment” Democrats who supported former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton versus supporters of “revolutionary” democratic socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders came to a head—perhaps to the detriment of Congress elections in the 2018.

About 3,300 delegates attended the three day convention, with 2,953 Democrats voting for the next party chair on Saturday night, Christopher Cadelago of The Sacramento Bee reported on Twitter.

After a nail-biter of a tense night, Eric Bauman, the openly gay Chair of the Los Angeles Democratic Party, won with 51 percent of the vote. The vote was so close – Bauman won 1,493 votes to 1,431 for Ellis, a 62 vote margin – that some Ellis supporters have called for a recount.

But the schism in the California Democratic Party now runs deep.

“We can’t afford division when the fate of our republic is at stake,” Rep Adam Schiff, Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee told the audience Saturday night. “Californians must pick up the mantle of leadership, just as our President has set it down”

Schiff may have been the bright spot of relief after two days of contention instigated by proud and rambunctious “Berniecrats.”

Tomorrow, when we’re in that hall … they’re going to be telling you how bad Trump is and how we should all be OK with them because Trump’s so bad,” Sanders’ backer RoseAnn DeMoro,  executive director of the California Nurses Assn./National Nurses United, said Friday night to an enthusiastic  group of Sanders followers. “Tomorrow, you guys are going to want to boo. There’s a lot of good people to boo.”

“We don’t have to behave,” DeMoro said. “They are holding the key. They are holding back the Democratic Party”

Former Ohio State Sen. And Sanders “warm-up act” Nina Turner blasted Democrats for focusing more on the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia than criminal justice reform, albeit that was the focus of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ remarks to the convention. Turner also claimed that there is no longer any difference between the nation’s two major parties, the Los Angeles Times reports, though Reps. Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, and Maxine Waters, among countless others, would strongly disagree.

“The way we show the corporate [Democrats] that we are not playing games with them, starting right here in California, is to make sure that we get Kimberly Ellis elected as chair!” Turner said.

The DeMoro/Turner wing of the California Democratic Party did boo speakers and disrupt the convention—to the extent that beloved outgoing Party Chair John Burton said: “Hey, shut the fuck up or go outside!”

The DeMoro/Turner “Berniecrats” were loudly protesting that Democrats had not passed a single-payer healthcare plan. “Put your fucking sign down, man. We’re all for it, Burton said, adding that Democrats had been fighting for single-payer healthcare “since before you were born.”

Indeed, as many LGBT politicos remember, out State Sen. Sheila Kuehl introduced a single-payer plan in 2003, 2005, 2007 – only to have the last two bills vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The inexplicable acrimony over a single payer initiative reared its head in the ugly contest to be the next chair of the California Democratic Party. Supporters of “Berniecrat” Kimberly Ellis, the former executive director of an organization that recruits women to run for political office, alleged that Bauman, a former ER nurse, did not sufficiently support a single payer initiative. But Bauman worked with then-Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, out former State Sens. Sheila Kuehl and Mark Leno, and more recently, SB 562 co-authors Ricardo Lara, and Toni Atkins to make, in his words, California a “healthcare sanctuary” state.

Of perhaps greater import was the outrageous dirty tricks against Bauman in the weeks leading up to the convention. Supporters of Ellis spread rumors that Bauman had engaged in “inappropriate behavior with 14- and 16-year-old boys.”  Bauman decried the tactic in a May 7 email to the convention’s 2, 415 delegates: “This is despicable! This is not the Democratic Party! These are Trumpian tactics and it has to stop!”

Bauman then found anti-Semitic attacks in a delegate chat room

Ellis denounced the tactics. “These rumors are despicable and there’s no place in our politics for such outrageous behavior and I denounce any such type of cruel maligning of someone’s character,” Ellis said in her own email to state Democrats, the L.A. Times reported. “Though there’s certainly a lot of passion on both sides, I’m proud of the mutual respect and courtesy we’ve shown each other in our interactions.”

Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, said he was “sickened that there still are people in California’s Democratic Party who would resort to these false smears to favor their preferred candidate” and called for an investigation.

None has been forthcoming. But meanwhile marriage equality hero Lt. Gavin Newsom decided to endorse Ellis on May 16, despite the controversy over homophobia. He had already endorsed Bauman last year. Neither former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa nor State Treasurer John Chiang, both of whom are running for governor and both of whom endorsed Bauman, decided to do a duel endorsement at the last minute.  Newsom said he was impressed by Ellis’ campaign skills.

Bauman and the Democratic Party have a lot of healing to do before the next elections.

However, Bauman made a start late Saturday night issuing this statement:

“I am so humbled to be elected as the next Chair of the California Democratic Party.

I want to thank the amazing coalition of organized labor, Young Democrats, and grassroots activists – both new and old – who have put their faith in me and entrusted me with this most awesome of responsibilities.

California must remain the bastion of resistance against Donald Trump, and the shining beacon of hope, leading the way, pushing the envelope on progressive policy for the rest of the nation to follow.

Kimberly Ellis and Lenore Albert Sheridan are fierce and worthy competitors. They gave voice to a vast and growing segment of the Party that hasn’t always felt listened to or valued, and to their supporters, I want to say directly that you will have a seat at the table in the California Democratic Party.

My fellow officers and I are committed to working with you to make our Party representative of our grassroots base and ensure we stand up for those most in need.

Regardless of the outcome of today’s election, and regardless of the fact that we have proven that California is the one place in the nation that knows how to do it right – there is no denying that there is a problem when so many of our hardworking activists feel that they are not welcome within our Party and that they have been slighted and shut out of the process.

We cannot win the vital elections in 2018 and beyond without the energy, commitment, and participation of every part of our Democratic family.

I look forward to working with each and every one of you. Now let’s go show America and the world what it means to be a Democrat!”

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U.S. Military/Pentagon

U.S. Army considering letting LGBTQ+ troops transfer out of hostile states

This policy tweak to the existing Army regulations pertaining to compassionate reassignment would clarify the current standard rules

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Top Army G-1 officer & enlisted advisor speaking with Joint Base Lewis-McChord single and dual military parents (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

ARLINGTON, Va. – A draft policy is circulating among top officials of the U.S. Army that would allow soldiers to be able to request a transfer if they feel state or local laws discriminate against them based on gender, sex, religion, race or pregnancy.

Journalist Steve Beynon writing for Military.com reported last week the guidance, which would update a vague service policy to add specific language on discrimination, is far from final and would need approval from Army Secretary Christine Wormuth. But if enacted, it could be one of the most progressive policies for the Army amid a growing wave of local anti-LGBTQ+ and restrictive contraception laws in conservative-leaning states, where the Army has a majority of its bases and major commands.

“Some states are becoming untenable to live in; there’s a rise in hate crimes and rise in LGBT discrimination,” Lindsay Church, executive director of Minority Veterans of America, an advocacy group, told Military.com. “In order to serve this country, people need to be able to do their job and know their families are safe. All of these states get billions for bases but barely tolerate a lot of the service members.”

This policy tweak to the existing Army regulations pertaining to compassionate reassignment would clarify the current standard rules, which are oft times fairly vague.

A source in the Army told Beynon the new guidance has not yet been fully worked out through the policy planning process or briefed to senior leaders including the Army Secretary or the Office of the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

“The Army does not comment on leaked, draft documents,” Angel Tomko, a service spokesperson, told Military.com in an emailed statement. “AR 600-100 and 600-200 establish the criteria for which soldiers may request for a compassionate reassignment. The chain of command is responsible for ensuring Soldiers and Families’ needs are supported and maintain a high quality of life.”

A base member wears rainbow socks during Pride Month Five Kilometer Pride Run at Joint Base Andrews, Md., June 28, 2017.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)

The Crystal City Virginia based RAND Corporation had published a study on Sexual Orientation, Transgender Identity, and Health Among U.S. Active-Duty Service Members in 2015 that listed approximate numbers of LGBTQ+ troops are 6% gay or bisexual and 1% is transgender or nonbinary.

A senior analyst for RAND told the Blade on background those numbers are likely much lower than in actuality as 2015 was less than 4 years after the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell’ and prior to the Trump enacted Trans service ban in 2017 which was then repealed by the Biden Administration which has had a chilling effect on open service. Another factor is that the current 18-24 year old troops colloquially referred to as ‘Gen Z’ are much more inclined to embrace an LGBTQ+ identity and that would cause the numbers to be higher than reported.

Also factored in is uncertainty in the tweaking of policy in light of the recent leak of the draft U.S. Supreme Court decision that would effectively repeal Roe v Wade.

According to Military.com it’s unclear whether the Army’s inclusion of pregnancy on the list would protect reproductive care for soldiers if Roe v. Wade is overturned. That language could be intended to protect pregnant service members or their families from employment or other discrimination, but could also be a means for some to argue for transfers based on broader reproductive rights.

One advocacy group pointed out that the current wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation will negatively impact the moral of service members:

“What we’re seeing across the board is a small group of elected officials who are trying to politicize and weaponize LGBTQ identities in despicable ways. They’re not only doing that to our youth, but the collateral damage is hurting our service members,” Jacob Thomas, communications director for Common Defense, a progressive advocacy organization, told Military.com. “[Troops] can’t be forced to live in places where they aren’t seen as fully human.”

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Religious Extremism/Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism

Right-wing extremist provocateur threatens to ‘hunt’ LGBT supporters

He has a history of right-wing extremist short videos including a harassment campaign against an Arizona wig shop that serves cancer patients

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Ethan Schmidt (Screenshot/Twitter)

PHOENIX – A twenty-four year old right-wing extremist based in the metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona area, Ethan Schmidt, posted a short video of himself accompanied by Kyle Clifton who describes himself as “authoritarian Christian nationalist,” driving in an undisclosed area announcing that he and Clifton will be “hunting ‘LGBT supporters” and people in area Target retail stores.

The video captured by Twitter account Patriot Takes, which describes itself as a group of Dedicated researchers monitoring and exposing right-wing extremism and other threats to democracy, first posted the video clip Saturday.

Schmidt has a history of making right-wing extremist short videos including a harassment campaign against an Arizona wig shop that serves cancer patients.

Sunny’s Hair and Wigs, specialize in making wigs for women who have lost hair while getting treated for cancer and the store had implemented coronavirus pandemic protections including strict mask guidelines to ensure safety of their clients who are particularly vulnerable to infection.

Lisa Memberr, the owner of the shop had explained to local media outlets: “My customer base is very diverse,” and she added, “Not only do I have Caucasians, I have Afro-Americans, I have Asians, I have Latin Americans.”

Schmidt, who has ban banned by nearly all social media platforms including Twitter for spreading false and misleading COVID-19 pandemic information had been visiting numerous retail stores in the Phoenix area including Sunny’s Hair and Wigs targeting those businesses that still require customers to wear mask. He invariably creates videos of his encounters which he uploads to right-wing social media and web sites that he hasn’t been banned from.

In addition to his anti-mask campaign he has made videos with extremist conservative lawmakers including one with Arizona U.S. Republican Representative Paul Gosar telling antivaxxers “to stay the course.”

He also filmed a short with Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers who has established herself firmly as an anti-vax, anti-LGBTQ, right wing extremist.

Clifton is a leader of the America First Union, an openly white nationalist, antisemitic, “conservative youth” organization. He also promotes former President Donald Trump’s big lie about the 2020 Presidential election being stolen by Democrats and President Joe Biden. Clifton also participated in the Arizona audit of the 2020 vote in Maricopa County, which state Sen. Rogers, had raised the visibility of her own political profile by insisting that Arizona’s vote was stolen.

Last Fall Schmidt posed with Trump endorsed Republican candidate for Arizona Governor Kari Lake as he burned a LGBTQ+ Pride flag.

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Los Angeles County

Assemblymember Santiago: Up food access to undocumented Californians

A study from the Food4All Coalition, in partnership with UCLA research, 45% of undocumented Californians face food insecurity

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Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (Twitter/Assemblymember Miguel Santiago)

LOS ANGELES – The sharply rising costs of food, housing, gasoline, coupled with the inflation rate hovering at 8.3%  has many Californian scrambling to supplement their access to food. The cost for food alone in the Southern California region has risen 1% from February 2022 to March 2022, and food prices were 8.8% higher than in March 2021.

Governor Gavin Newsom had previously announced in January that he intended to extend CalFresh public food assistance programs in the budget to include undocumented immigrants ages 55 and over, a move advocates including state Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, who represents the 53rd District covering parts of downtown L.A. applauded as a first step in curbing food insecurity for millions of low-income Californians.

At the beginning of the month in Newsom’s revised budget the governor removed exclusions to the California Food Assistance Program for Californians 55 and older, regardless of immigration status.

Santiago, joined by the Food4All Coalition, the LA Regional Food Bank, the California Immigrant Policy Center, Gender Justice LA, and Nourish California gathered for a ‘ Food4All” rally Friday in Los Angeles to ensure that all ages are to be included in Newsom’s revised proposal.

“If you qualify for CalFresh program, you should have the ability to obtain the dollars to be able to feed your kids,” said Santiago.

Betzabel Estudillo ( Nourish California /Twitter)

Betzabel Estudillo, a senior advocate with Nourish California told the rally attendees; “This campaign has been years in the making. We appreciate the governor’s proposal, but the need is greater. Nearly half of undocumented Californians face food insecurity. It’s even worse for children – 2 out of every 3 are going hungry.”

Currently, all undocumented people are ineligible for CalFresh benefits. Only certain low-income immigrants that have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, including those admitted for humanitarian reasons and those with permanent residence, may be eligible for the benefits. Immigrants who receive disability-related assistance or benefits and children under 18 years old with permanent residency are also eligible, regardless of their entry date.

Newsom’s proposals would revise those CalFresh benefits restrictions.

According to a study from the Food4All Coalition, in partnership with UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, 45% of undocumented Californians face food insecurity.

“We’re pushing for a budget that includes over $500 million to be able to feed those who are the hungriest in the state of California,” said Santiago.

Newsom has until the end of June to finalize the budget.

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