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Mark Gonzalez: Trump’s worst white supremacist nightmare

The young gay Latino now heads the LA County Democratic Party

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Mark Gonzalez, new chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (Photo courtesy LACDP)

“Does this administration think that slavery is wrong?” American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan asked Oct. 31 as White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders scurried from the White House briefing room, leaving the question hanging with no response. It’s a fundamental Core Values question about the embrace of diversity and opportunity in America, something LGBT Californians know a lot about.

Even with New York real estate developer and “Apprentice” Reality TV star Donald Trump playing President of the United States, it is difficult to imagine that in 2017 some Americans are actually re-litigating the Civil War. But that appears to be happening, as Trump fluffs his white nationalist base—saying there were “very fine people, on both sides” of the violent KKK and Neo-Nazis protest in Charlottesville, Virginia last August that left one woman dead and many injured.

A self-declared “very intelligent person,” Trump’s jaw-dropping ignorance of eighth grade history may be fodder for late night comedians but it’s no joke to Confederacy-praising white supremacists. “The Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask the question but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?” Trump asked during a conservative radio interview last May.

Trump’s Chief of Staff, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, heretofore considered the “adult in the room,” doubled down during an Oct. 30 interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham when asked about the removal of a Robert E. Lee monument from a Virginia church.

“I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” Kelly told Ingraham. “He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

Historians pushed back, noting there were several attempts at “compromise” but finally the Civil War was fought over slavery and the South’s economic and moral beliefs in white supremacy with the secession of 11 Southern states. Alexander H. Stephens, vice-president of the Confederacy, articulated that idea in his “Cornerstone” speech of March 21, 1986, just before the first shots were fired in the Civil War.

The Founders, including Thomas Jefferson, thought “the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature” and would eventually pass away. But the new Confederate government, he said, “is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

That’s what Lee fought for, and the states’ right to defy or break from the union to support the economic commerce slavery provided.

“The real story, the great tragedy of the coming of the Civil War, was that there was no middle left anymore in American politics,” David Blight, a historian at Yale University, told the New York Times in response to Kelly’s comments.

PHOTO: Eric Bauman,Chair of the California Democratic Party and Mark Gonzalez, Chair of the LA County Democratic Party (Photo courtesy LACDP)

While 2017 may not be as grave as the Civil War era or as divided as the country became during the war in Vietnam, the moral fabric of constitutional America is splitting and many are looking to progressive California for help and eventually, healing. And it’s coming. In additional to progressive congressional leaders, today the California Democratic Party and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP) are both run by openly gay men, Eric Bauman and Mark Gonzalez, respectively.

Bauman, who successfully ran the LACDP for 17 years, literally passed the torch to a new generation, the young man he mentored, Mark Gonzalez.  And on Oct. 12, after years of working with the grassroots and in the offices of elected officials, the 33 year old out gay Latino chairs the largest local Democratic Party in the country, with 2.2 million registered Democrats in a county of 9.8 million people in the minority-majority state. And speaking of states rights, California recently became a “sanctuary state” to try to protect undocumented immigrants and DREAMers who call the Golden State home.

“The true progressive movement is here in California, and it is here in the Los Angeles County Democratic Party,” Gonzalez said after his election. “The Democratic Party’s principles are the foundation of how America was built: The Party of inclusion, of the hard-working middle class. As the youngest person and first Latino ever elected Chair of this great Party, I can tell you firsthand that those Democratic Party principles are as alive and true as they ever were. We are going to send the message throughout this country that we are what we preach.”

“I got involved in this party 16 years ago as a teenager when I joined the Northeast Democratic Club of Los Angeles in my home area of North East LA. Meeting folks like Eric, my current boss, (Assemblymember) Miguel Santiago, John Perez– they were personal mentors of mine who inspired me to get more involved,” he tells the Los Angeles Blade. The 2004 presidential race between George W. Bush and John Kerry inspired him to take the plunge into politics.

Gonzalez thinks it is his experience of literally working from the bottom up and accruing over a decade of experience in service of LACDP that helped him win election as party chair, especially after the contentious race for state party chair between Kimberly Ellis, representing the “Berniecrats” and Bauman, representing the “establishment” wings of the California Democratic Party.

“I think they wanted to vote for somebody who could unify both sides,” Gonzalez says. I get along with both sides and I think we’re finally starting to move forward. But I think there are people on the Bernie side who know I actually do agree with what they’ve been saying and there are some of the ‘establishment side’ who know my work and my work ethic and that they can work with me. I come in the middle and my goal is to unify both sides which I think we’ve been doing because the newer activists, who are hungry to do this, are just like me when I was doing this 16 years ago.”

Gonzalez’s experience growing up in North East LA also helps his broader grasp of issues and helps him relate to LGBT people, especially LGBT Latinos, who might not feel welcome in the Democratic Party.

“When you’re Latino and you grow up in a strong Catholic single parent household, being gay is not something that is always accepted,” he says. ”It’s not something you talk about because you’re supposed to—in my case— marry a woman and have kids like my brothers did. It’s that old fashioned thinking.”

And while he thinks that “old fashioned thinking” is “evolving,” he’s also very aware of the intense homophobia that still exists. “I grew up on that weird kind of cusp. I graduated from high school in 2003—it’s not that long ago, but at the end of the day, it’s not socially accepted. It’s getting better, but you still see and hear stories of killing and attacks. We’re lucky to live in California. I was born in Texas and visiting my brother there in February—it’s a very different atmosphere out there. In Los Angeles, we’re such a mixing bowl, we’re all so different and I embrace the diversity. But you have to realize, not everywhere is like LA. It’s a culture shock.”

Gonzalez also has experience needing government programs and is ready to fight for them. “I went to Head Start and sometimes we needed food stamps so we had to rely heavily on those kind of government services when I was young,” he says. “So I know how it feels.  And that’s why it’s important to elect good people to make sure those services are still provided for people like me today, especially with the cost of living being so outrageous in some places.”

Gonzalez says being chair of LACDP is a “huge undertaking” but his election as the first Latino and the youngest to run the local party “is a huge message” about the direction in which LA Democrats want to go.

“I’m looking forward to it. And we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Gonzalez says, especially strategizing how to bring in new voters and engage with current voters who’ve become apathetic. “I’m look forward to hearing from people who are still fired up and ready to go. We want to build on that and give people a voice at the table.”

Gonzalez laughs when it’s point out that he has automatically incorporated former President Obama’s catch phrase without even think about it.  “It’s true,” he says. “I wake up in the morning and that’s the goal. Yeah—I’m still fired up and ready to go!”

A tale of two Americas: one tweets about division, the other speaks about unity.

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Religious Extremism/Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism

Christian pastors launch flood of vituperation against Canadian law

Some 4,000 U.S. pastors spoke about it from their pulpits in a show of concern about similar laws coming into effect here

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Pastor John MacArthur speaking at Grace Community Church in LA (YouTube screenshot)

LOS ANGELES – A campaign launched by Liberty Coalition Canada and promulgated in the United States by Pastor John MacArthur of Los Angeles, who has a lengthy record of hateful & extremist public attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, against the Canadian Parliament’s recently passed legislation banning conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ people culminated in over 4,000 clergy in both countries protesting the new law Sunday, January 16.

In an editorial posted to his Facebook page, influential evangelical leader Franklin Graham, who has decades long actions of spreading misinformation and deceptive lies against the LGBTQ+ community decried the law writing:

The Canadian Parliament passed legislation banning what they refer to as “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ, and the law describes as a “myth” the belief that heterosexuality is preferable. They added a stiff penalty that can carry up to a 5-year jail sentence, and Canadian pastors feel they have been stripped of their religious freedoms. Critics of Bill C-4 say it is broadly worded and could even encompass private conversations about the topic, such as when a pastor or any Christian shares what the Bible teaches about sexuality.

One Canadian pastor said, “All socialistic and communistic movements hate the authority and law of God…Much of the church in Canada believes that compliance and compromise will promote peace and freedom, but this attitude only feeds the beast and will increase persecution and eliminate freedom.”

Today, some 4,000 U.S. pastors spoke about it from their pulpits in a show of concern about similar laws coming into effect here. Pray for pastors in Canada as this legal oppression continues to grow, and pray that all of us as Christians will have the boldness to continue to proclaim the life-changing truth of the Word of God—the only hope for this world.

Pastor John MacArthur, the 82-year-old leader of the Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, in an interview with FOX News, said that he believes widespread sexual immorality is evidence of divine judgment on a culture and predicted increased efforts to silence those who speak out against it.

Ultimately, the dissenters, the ones who will not cave in, are going to be those who are faithful to the Bible,” he said. “And that’s what’s already leading to laws made against doing what we are commanded to do in Scripture, which is to confront that sin. And that’s just going to escalate,” MacArthur said.

The fact that they identified it as a criminal conduct that could give you as much as five years in prison takes it to a completely different level, because Canadian pastors have been put in jail for just having church services,” he continued.

Legislation banning conversion therapy passed in the states of California, New York, New Jersey and Nevada, among other U.S. jurisdictions. Alarmed by this, MacArthur sees Canada as a portent for the potential of a national ban in the U.S. telling Fox; “I think it’s reached a level there in Canada that it hasn’t yet reached here, but it’s coming,” he said. “It’s coming fast.”

The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and a host of therapeutic professional organizations oppose the use of conversion therapy, stating it is ineffective, harmful and not evidence-based.

Currently, 20 states and numerous localities, including D.C., ban the use of this discredited practice.

In two recently issued reports from the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE), anti-LGBTQ groups “easily” spread dangerous disinformation online about the so-called conversion therapy as tech companies fail to de-platform such content, especially in non-English languages.

The reports detail that even though conversion therapy is a widely condemned practice, content related it is “distressingly easy” to find through simple searches on various platforms.

Both Graham and MacArthur’s anti-LGBTQ+ animus has been well documented. New York City-based journalist, editor, and blogger Joe Jervis who publishes the widely popular ‘Joe My God’ website has a partial tabulation of MacArthur’s egregious vitriolic statements.

John MacArthur says God gave humanity a “disposable planet.” MacArthur declares that the response to COVID is setting the stage for the Anti-Christ. MacArthur says lockdowns are “Hitler false science.” MacArthur says gay people do not exist. MacArthur signs petition condemning churches that advocate for social justice. MacArthur declares that Christianity which isn’t “offensive” about homosexuality isn’t really Christianity at all. MacArthur signs statement declaring that Jesus hates people who don’t hate LGBTs. MacArthur tells parents that if their child comes out, “turn him over to Satan.”

The GLAAD Accountability Project has cataloged anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and discriminatory actions by Graham including: 

Said celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride is like celebrating “lying, adultery, or murder.” Graham’s comment came in a Facebook post marking the end of Pride Month. “This is an entire month set aside to celebrate a lifestyle that God defines as sin.”

Claimed that public schools have no right to “teach our children something that is an affront to God” in his support for Alfonso Cirulli, the mayor of Barnegat Township, New Jersey, who was fighting a state law requiring schools to teach about LGBTQ history.

Called out Taylor Swift “for using her platform to try to push the socialist left’s so-called Equality Act, which has nothing to do with equality, but is about pushing the LGBTQ agenda down the throats of the American people.”

Said: “LGBT agenda wants to force everyone to accept & condone their lifestyle which God’s Word defines as sin.”

Said: “LGBT activists are trying to hook their caboose to the ‘freedom train’ & drag an immoral agenda into our communities.”

—When HB2 was rolled back in North Carolina, tweeted: “Thanks to the gov, people of NC will be exposed to pedophiles & sexually perverted men in women’s public restrooms.”

In Facebook post since deleted, claimed Satan is behind LGBTQ rights and advocacy: “This is a full-scale assault against Christianity and the followers of Christ. When prayer is banned from the public square, when our President fails to defend biblically defined marriage, and he openly and zealously advocates for gay rights; when legislators rush to overrule existing laws to promote gay marriage; when schools and courts consistently suppress religious freedoms; we know we are locked in a war against the Christian faith, not culture. The architect behind this offensive is none other than Satan himself. The Scripture says that the devil, our archenemy, is bent on as much destruction as possible.”

—Insists that gay and lesbian people cannot have families: “[Same-sex marriage] takes the family away and there is no way you can have a family with two females or two males, if you just think biologically how God made us our plumbing is completely different.”

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Politics

GOP VA AG-elect fires dozens of lawyers including in Civil Rights Division

Miyares campaigned promising to refuse to allow coronavirus mitigation including masks & vaccine requirements, despite the surging pandemic

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Virginia’s Republican Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares (Screenshot via Fox News)

By David Badash | RICHMOND – He has yet to be sworn in but Virginia’s Republican Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares has already fired dozens of lawyers, including those working in the Office of Civil Rights, and including those who are not political appointees but career civil servants.

Miyares campaigned on enforcing the law while promising to refuse to allow coronavirus mitigation efforts including masks and vaccine requirements, despite the surging pandemic.

But enforcing the law – certainly specific aspects like civil rights – will be much harder when he is sworn into office on Saturday.

“I’ve been told incoming AG @JasonMiyaresVA just FIRED the entire civil rights division in the Attorney General’s office,” tweeted Virginia Democratic state Senator L. Louise Lucas, the President Pro tempore. “My bill helped create and expand the authority that this division uses.”

“This whole campaign we had to listen to @JasonMiyaresVA whining about local prosecutors choosing not to prosecute certain crimes- then he gets elected and eliminates an entire division dedicated to enforcing civil rights law. Total hypocrisy and it needs to be SEEN,” she added.

It’s unclear if Miyares has fired the entire civil rights division but the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports he has fired 30 attorneys including “Helen Hardiman, an assistant attorney general who focuses on investigating and litigating against housing discrimination in the Office of Civil Rights.”

“I am not a political appointee. I don’t have a political job,” she says, adding she has 20 cases that are in court or going to trial.

“I don’t want those people who have been discriminated against to be left hanging,” Hardiman said. “I also felt like a cursory email with 24 hour notice was unprofessional. And I’m disappointed that the new administration seems to be signaling that they care less about civil rights issues like fair housing than the current administration.”

On his Twitter page Miyares posted numerous platitudes and promises like, “My oath of allegiance is to follow the law, to respect the code of Virginia, and the people of Virginia As AG, I am going to go back to calling balls and strikes and we are going to enforce the law.”

He also posted tweets attacking coronavirus mitigation policies, saying, “no Virginian should be forced to choose between their job and the vaccine.”

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The preceding article was previously published by The New Civil Rights Movement and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

Newsom highlights blueprint investments in infrastructure & transportation

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for more than 50% of emissions

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Governor Newsom speaks at Santa Clara Depot which serves Caltrain, the Altamont Corridor Express, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and Amtrak (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SANTA CLARA – Governor Gavin Newsom Thursday touted his California Blueprint’s major investments in transportation and infrastructure while visiting the Santa Clara Depot rail station, highlighting the plan’s $9.1 billion in funding for climate-friendly clean transit projects that will create thousands of jobs.

The Blueprint also includes $2.3 billion to support ports and goods movement throughout the state and an additional $6.1 billion to accelerate the state’s transition to zero-emission vehicles – creating a total package of $10 billion that will invest in affordable cars, clean trucks and buses. The Santa Clara Depot serves several transit agencies, including Caltrain, which is scheduled to complete electrification of its system in 2024. 

“These bold investments will deliver safer, faster and greener transportation options connecting communities across the state while creating thousands of jobs and tackling our largest source of harmful pollution and emissions,” said Governor Newsom. “With California on the frontlines of the intensifying climate crisis, the state is committed to building a clean transportation future that protects the health of our communities, environment and economy.”

Transportation is the state’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for more than 50% of emissions when considering the production and deployment of fuels. California’s commitment to decarbonizing the transportation sector also advances the state’s affordability goals, increasing access to opportunity and amenities through a network of affordable, clean transportation options and pushing zero-emission vehicle innovation to continue driving down costs for everyone.  

The California Blueprint includes a proposed $9.1 billion package to advance clean transit initiatives that support the state’s climate and public health goals, promote equity and bolster the green economy, including $4.9 billion for transit and rail projects to improve connectivity, climate adaptation, bicycle and pedestrian safety and more locally driven initiatives. In addition, the Blueprint proposes a $4.2 billion investment in California’s High-Speed Rail project, which will eventually share the electrified Caltrain corridor, as well as funding for projects that encourage active modes of transportation and improve equity and safety, including converting underutilized highways into corridors that better serve residents. The Blueprint positions California to take advantage of additional federal infrastructure investments.

The California Blueprint also furthers the Administration’s ongoing work to support ports and build supply chain resilience, outlining a $2.3 billion package that includes $1.2 billion for port-related infrastructure projects that increase goods movement capacity and additional funding for zero-emission port equipment, drayage trucks and infrastructure. The Governor in October issued an executive order directing state agencies to help identify additional ways to alleviate congestion at California ports and announced a state-federal partnership to help kick-start infrastructure projects designed to improve goods movement. In addition, the Governor has launched a multi-agency Supply Chain Task Force working to find opportunities to lease state and privately-owned land for container storage space, Caltrans has issued temporary truck weight exemptions on State Highways to keep goods moving efficiently and the Department of Motor Vehicles has worked to nearly double its capacity to conduct commercial driving tests.

The Blueprint also builds on the California Comeback Plan’s $3.9 billion zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) package with an additional $6.1 billion in proposed investment to accelerate the transition. The additional funding will add thousands of affordable clean cars, zero-emission trucks and transit buses, support school transportation programs and electrify our school bus fleet, expand equitable access to ZEV charging infrastructure and fund equity-focused clean transportation community projects.

Governor Newsom in 2020 made a commitment to require that sales of all new passenger vehicles be zero-emission by 2035 and aggressively decarbonize heavy-duty vehicles such as trains, trucks and buses. The state has targeted emissions from the heavy-duty sector with bold action to reduce pollution in disproportionately impacted communities.

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