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Joy Reid’s cathartic public apology (Video)

Will this be enough to quell critics?

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Joy Reid (screen grab)

Perhaps this is what is meant by the phrase “standing in your truth.” MSNBC anchor Joy Reid’s opening to her popular AM Joy Saturday morning show was riveting. No frills, no fanfare, no histrionics. Just Joy-Ann Reid looking into the camera for four minutes addressing the tornado of controversy whipping around her after the revelation of ten year old homophobic and transphobic tweets and blog posts.

“Good morning and welcome to AM Joy. A community that I support and that I deeply care about is hurting because of some despicable and truly offensive posts being attributed to me. Many of you may have seen these blog posts circulating online and on social media. Many of them are homophobic, discriminatory and outright weird and hateful. When a friend found them in December and sent them to me, I was stunned, frankly. I couldn’t imagine where they’d come from or whose voice that was,” she said.

Reid had apologized late last year for a slew of blog posts from her days as a Florida radio morning talk show host and blogger. But, as the Los Angeles Blade reported Thursday, the second batch of posts and tweets were construed as considerably more homophobic and transphobic than the first batch—and Reid said she did not recognize them. She hired a cybersecurity expert and turned the matter over to federal law enforcement—the FBI is now investigating whether or not her old posts were somehow digitally manipulated.

Because of her strong support as an ally, some LGBT people accepted her surprise and reluctance to automatically apologize while others insisted the Wayback Machine that archived the old posts couldn’t be hacked and that she was lying to cover up her humiliating homophobia to save her career.

Saturday morning, Reid stood metaphorically naked to explain the truth as she sees it and apologize for the hurt her words have caused.

“In the months since [December], I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make sense of those posts. I hired cybersecurity experts to see if someone had manipulated my words or my former blog. The reality is, they have not been able to prove it,” Reid said. “But here’s what I know. I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things, because they are completely alien to me. But I can definitely understand based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past why some people don’t believe me. I have not been exempt from being dumb, or cruel, or hurtful to the very people I want to advocate for. I own that, I get it, and for that I am truly, truly sorry.”

Reid noted how an LGBT advocate and friend from Florida called her out for transphobia in tweets about right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, who she had mocked using transgender stereotypes.

“I apologized to my friend and I want to apologize to the trans community and to Ann,” Reid said. “Those tweets were wrong and horrible. I look back today at some of the ways I’ve talked casually about people and gender identity and sexual orientation and I wonder who that even was. But the reality is that like a lot of people in this country, that person was me.”

Reid talked about growing up in a household with conservative views on LGBT issues and people, which she reflected.

“I’m heartbroken that I didn’t do better back then,” she said, acknowledging how difficult it is to come out, “to just walk around in the world, especially for trans people. And I feel like I should have known better than to ever write or tweet in a way that could make fun of, or make light of, or make light of that pain and that experience. Even a decade ago, when the country was in a very different place. But I cannot take any of that back. I can only say that the person I am now is not the person I was then,” Reid said.

“The reality is that I have to own the things I have written and tweeted and said. And I’m hoping that out of all of this, there’s an opportunity to talk about the ways in which hurtful speech really does imperil marginalized communities. These issues matter, not just theoretically, but because we’re talking about our friends, our kids, our co-workers. People who deserve better than what I have sometimes given them,” Reid said. (See the video and full transcript of her remarks below).

For about 36 commercial-free minutes, Reid and a panel of LGBT friends and community representatives—who she invited to “feel free to grill me, you have absolutely the right to do that”—talked about how words hurt and matter, especially in this era where LGBT rights are being rolled back and hate crimes are going up.

The panel was sizable: her friend, Jonathan Capehart, opinion columnist for The Washington Post; Diego Sanchez, PFLAG’s Director of Advocacy, Policy and Partnership; Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project, who’s appeared several times on her shows; Zeke Stokes, Vice President of Programs for GLAAD; Sarah Scanlon from Arkansas, who did LGBT Outreach for the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign; as well as other frequent AM Joy guests – Danielle Moodie-Mills, host of Woke AF, on Sirius XM Radio; Brandon Wolf survivor of the Pulse Nightclub massacre and Vice President of the Drew Project; and Jose Antonio Vargas, undocumented founder and CEO of Define American

Reid started the discussion with her “dumb” tweeting about Coulter that “mocked the trans identity.” How does this “land in the real world,” she asked Strangio, “for people who are experiencing this in their real lives?”

“Using anti-trans, trans-antagonistic is part of the cultural discourse we hear all the time and it contributes to the trauma in the trans community, it contributes to the high rates of violence, all of the discrimination that trans people experience,” Strangio said. “And none of us are immune from that – whether we’re trans, whether we’re LGBT. And so what I want us to really gain from this dialogue is that the work of unpacking the internalization of anti-black language, anti-language is life-long work—work that we have to do and participate in every day and that’s what I hope we all learn from this.”

Noting Reid’s growing popularity and what’s at stake for her reputation, Variety suggested the segment was strategically aimed PR crisis management.

Reid borrowed “a play that appears to have worked for HBO host Bill Maher, who faced a similar imbroglio in 2017 after he uttered a racial epithet on his ‘Real Time’ program,” Brian Steinberg wrote. “In the aftermath, Maher convened guests like Ice Cube and Michael Eric Dyson to call him to task for using the slur and explore the issues about its use.”

But what bled through the television was not sharpened stinging criticism but a heartfelt response, closer to home, with longtime LGBT friends like Capehart seeming to choke back tears in pauses that seemed eternal. Those seconds of real dead air on TV were deeper than any pause in a profound Harold Pinter play.

“The beauty of what you did at the open was put into context where society was,” Capehart said. “I wouldn’t even be talking to my own mother if she had not evolved…. Only a stone cold heart could not change.”

 

Pause. “Joy, when this happened, I was hurt. But not by anything that was attributed to you. I was hurt because the Joy I know and have known for probably more than 10 years, certainly before all of this stuff – is not the Joy that I know. The Joy that I know is someone who stands by me personally, stands by me and my husband, stands by me and my community,” Capehart said, looking sincerely into the eyes of his friend. “I don’t know a better place for me to be right now than to sit in the chair next to you.”

Capehart also chastised Reid’s critics as “people out there watching because it’s like the Coliseum for them—I mean they want to see you eviscerated. But for those who have not evolved, for those who have not changed, for those who are waiting for you to crumble and for everyone to reign down condemnation on you – good luck with that. Change your hearts. [To camera] Evolve. Just like the rest of the country.”

But Strangio added: “I think we have to hold the reality that we can’t be looking for people that we love to be our heroes and be perfect. We are all flawed and the trauma of our mistakes hurts other people and we have to own that and the reality is that evolution is what we should strive for but we should also not be trying to look for perfect human heroes because they do not exist and we have to hold the complexity and the pain and the trauma that we all carry in the world.”

Sanchez also reminded the group, and by extension that the very conversation they were having “is a luxury,” in terms of the day-to-day lives for so many. When the phone rings at PFLAG, he said, people ask basic question about how to find a grocery store “because I can’t walk in safely.”

Reid used that to note the degree of danger that exists for LGBT people.

Moodie-Mills brought a note of levity but said she found it “problematic” that so many were jumping on Reid while the media give President Donald Trump “a complete and total pass on things that are coming out of his mouth right now.”

“So while I appreciate your apology,” Moodie-Mills said, “I don’t represent the gay community. Unfortunately, I’m not the queen of it. But the reality is that while we’re having conversations about what may or may not have been said ten years ago, we should be having conversations about what was tweeted ten seconds ago and about how there are bans that are still up at the Supreme Court right now to keep Muslims out of America, that there are bans right now to kick patriotic trans people out of the military—and that’s coming from the Oval Office right now, not ten years ago, not ten minutes ago, but right now.”

The remarkable Rev. Dr. William Barber expressed his support at the end of his segment and Reid and her AM Joy show were both trending on twitter, with an outpouring of support from colleagues and fans.

Will this apology be sufficient to silence Reid’s critics, at least until the FBI concludes its investigation? Who knows. An Internet feeding frenzy does not require starvation for subject matter to consume. But for many in the LGBT community, for friend and advocate Joy-Ann Reid to lose her media platform over past homophobia and transphobia for which she has spectacularly publicly apologized would be a greater lose for the cause of LGBT equality.

Here’s the full transcript of Reid’s opening remarks, followed by video of the entire segment.

“Good morning and welcome to AM Joy. A community that I support and that I deeply care about is hurting because of some despicable and truly offensive posts being attributed to me. Many of you may have seen these blog posts circulating online and on social media. Many of them are homophobic, discriminatory and outright weird and hateful. When a friend found them in December and sent them to me, I was stunned, frankly. I couldn’t imagine where they’d come from or whose voice that was.

In the months since, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make sense of those posts. I hired cybersecurity experts to see if someone had manipulated my words or my former blog. The reality is, they have not been able to prove it. But here’s what I know. I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things, because they are completely alien to me. But I can definitely understand based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past why some people don’t believe me. I have not been exempt from being dumb, or cruel, or hurtful to the very people I want to advocate for. I own that, I get it, and for that I am truly, truly sorry.

I had a conversation the other day with a friend who’s also an advocate in the LGBTQ community in Florida who rightly took me to task for my tweets mocking Ann Coulter using transgender stereotypes. I apologized to my friend and I want to apologize to the trans community and to Ann. Those tweets were wrong and horrible. I look back today at some of the ways I’ve talked casually about people and gender identity and sexual orientation and I wonder who that even was.

But the reality is that like a lot of people in this country, that person was me.

I grew up in a household that, like many in America, had conservative views on LGBTQ issues. I had friends – some of my closest friends in fact, growing up – who I later learned were gay and had kept it secret from me and from everyone else we were close to. Because they didn’t know what we would say or if we would still be friends or whether we would look at them differently.

I can remember a friend of mine my freshman year in college telling me he was gay – and my knee-jerk reaction being that it was so disappointing to the women he could have married. He was so hurt he didn’t speak to me for months.

I’m heartbroken that I didn’t do better back then. Knowing so many great people in the LGBTQ community, including amazing friends and journalists and producers and political operatives and great dads and moms and advocates and just regular people and knowing how hard it must have been for so many of them to come out, to their families to their friends, to just walk around in the world, especially for trans people. And I feel like I should have known better than to ever write or tweet in a way that could make fun of, or make light of, or make light of that pain and that experience. Even a decade ago, when the country was in a very different place. But I cannot take any of that back. I can only say that the person I am now is not the person I was then. I like to think that I have gotten better as a person over time, that I’m still growing. That I am not the same person I was ten or five or even one year ago. And I know that my goal is to try to be a better person, and a better ally.

The reality is that I have to own the things I have written and tweeted and said. And I’m hoping that out of all of this, there’s an opportunity to talk about the ways in which hurtful speech really does imperil marginalized communities. These issues matter, not just theoretically, but because we’re talking about our friends, our kids, our co-workers. People who deserve better than what I have sometimes given them.

And with that I want to introduce our panel. Joining me now is Jonathan Capehart, opinion columnist for “The Washington Post;” Diego Sanchez, Director of Advocacy, Policy and Partnership at PFLAG, an organization for families and allies of the LGBTQ community; Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project; and Zeke Stokes, Vice President of Programs for GLAAD; and Sarah Scanlon who worked on LGTB Outreach for the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign.”
VIDEO:

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California Politics

Newsom, Senate & Assembly leaders announce budget agreement

23 million Californians will benefit from direct payments of up to $1,050 & additional funds to help people pay rent & utility bills

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Governor Newsom with some of the state's leadership Friday (Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) announced they had were able to reach an agreement on the framework for the 2022-23 state budget.

In a statement released Sunday evening, the state’s leadership said:

“California’s budget addresses the state’s most pressing needs, and prioritizes getting dollars back into the pockets of millions of Californians who are grappling with global inflation and rising prices of everything from gas to groceries.

“The centerpiece of the agreement, a $17 billion inflation relief package, will offer tax refunds to millions of working Californians. Twenty-three million Californians will benefit from direct payments of up to $1,050. The package will also include a suspension of the state sales tax on diesel, and additional funds to help people pay their rent and utility bills.

“In addition, California is doubling down in our response to the climate crisis – securing additional power-generating capacity for the summer, accelerating our clean energy future, expanding our ability to prepare for and respond to severe wildfires, extreme heat, and the continuing drought conditions that lie ahead.

“This budget builds on our unprecedented commitment to transform the resources available in our state, from a $47 billion multi-year infrastructure and transportation package to education and health care, showing the nation what a true pro-life agenda looks like. With these new investments, California will become the first state to achieve universal access to health care coverage.

Newsom and his legislative counterparts also highlighted that in the wake of Friday’s stunning U.S. Supreme Court decision, California is reaffirming its commitment to defending reproductive rights, providing more than $200 million in additional funding for reproductive health care services. The state will also be investing in key programs that help California families, from funding for homeownership programs and billions of dollars in additional ongoing funding for education, to universal preschool, children’s mental health, and free school meals.

“In the face of growing economic uncertainty, this budget invests in California’s values while further filling the state’s budget reserves and building in triggers for future state spending to ensure budget stability for years to come,” the statement read.

Yesterday the governor and the leadership agreed to the framework to offset the high cost of gas prices and the hit inflation has created on the wallets of taxpayers, particularly those who least able to bear the added cost burden. Under the budget compromise most California taxpayers would get hundreds of dollars in cash to help offset the high price of fuel and other goods.

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Politics

Activists gather & prepare for post-Roe America

“For a country about personal rights, we’re doing an awful lot right now to limit women’s ability to do what they want with their body”

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U.S. Senator Catherine Marie Cortez Masto (D-NV) speaking to crowd after SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade (Photo by Josh Alburtus)

WASHINGTON – Just moments after the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its decision on Friday overturning its landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade that had legalized abortion nationwide for 49 years, hundreds gathered outside the Court to both protest and celebrate the ruling.

In its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court found that access to abortion was not a right guaranteed under the language of the Constitution. The ruling effectively reversed the Court’s 1973 decision that mandated states to allow the procedure in most instances throughout the first two trimesters of pregnancy.

Immediately following the decision, a group of those welcoming the decision quickly gathered in front of the Court.

Anna Lulis, a member of Students for Life of America, welcomed the decision as long overdue.

“I think it is a huge victory for human rights,” Lulis said. “For far too long, since 1973, human rights have been infringed upon at an egregious level.”

Beside Lulis, Olivia Cowin, a member of Survivors LA, shared a similar reason for gathering outside the Court.

“This is a celebratory day to show our support of the unborn and of women and support both simultaneously,” Cowin said.

But not all that were gathered immediately after the unveiling of the decision were encouraged by the decision’s implications. 

Across the way from the Court’s west side, Virginia resident Alysia Dempsey feared what the verdict in Dobbs could mean for women’s rights – including those of her four daughters.

“I believe in women’s rights, and I think that our country needs to be able to start listening to each of our stories and to have empathy for them in so many different aspects,” Dempsey said. “I feel like we’re sort of going back in time with regard to so many rights.”

Hailing from Arizona, a state under Republican legislative leadership where Planned Parenthood has already halted all abortion services pending legal clarity from the state, Hannah Waldrip cast doubt on the sincerity of anti-abortion rationale.

“For a country about personal rights and personal freedom, we’re doing an awful lot right now to limit women’s or people with uterus’ ability to do what they want with their body,” Waldrip said.

Stark divisions between the groups arose as ideological lines could be seen physically emerging between the crowds. 

And as the day progressed, those protesting the ruling quickly began to outnumber its supporters.

Among the protesters, the color green – a symbol for abortion rights activists borne out of similar movements in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America – could be seen lining the street on scarves, shirts, stickers, and elsewhere.

As the crowd continued to grow and green began to eclipse the heat-simmering pavement beneath the protesters, several speakers emerged amidst the epicenter of the crowd.

One of those speakers was Elizabeth Paige White, a civil rights lawyer working under nationally renowned attorney Ben Crump.

Elizabeth Paige White (Photo by Josh Alburtus)

In connecting Friday’s decision to the United States’ history of patriarchal structure, White called into focus the disproportionate effect the repeal of nationwide abortion access is widely expected to have on minorities and communities of color with less resources to travel to abortion-friendly states.

“As Black, Brown, and all these women out here know, we’ve been fighting for our rights since the inception of this country,” White said. “We have been fighting to have rights over our own bodies since the inception of this country.”

With the repeal of Roe, decisions on whether to legalize or outlaw abortion will now be left to each individual state. As of Friday’s ruling, 13 states are now set to make almost all abortions illegal, having passed “trigger bans” designed to take effect in the immediate aftermath of Roe’s demise or within the next month.

However, many abortion rights supporters, activists and lawmakers still fear that the curtailing of reproductive rights won’t end with the Court’s decision.

Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) addressed the crowd with a message of urgency and revelation.

“At the end of the day, let me just say, here’s what’s next,” Cortez-Masto said. “I’ve got some of my Republican colleagues based on this decision who are already drafting legislation to restrict abortion in this country. If they win this election, they will pass that legislation and it will preempt all of the state laws we have protecting women in this country when it comes to our right to choose.”

Even beyond nationwide restrictions on abortion, some fear even more privacy restrictions are now under fire.

Such privacy rights have been established in other past Supreme Court rulings based on the same Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment that justices used to interpret nationwide abortion rights nearly half a century ago. These cases have included those that established access in all states to contraception, same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and the right to same-sex relations in the privacy of one’s home.

Among the crowd gathered on Friday, such was a sobering outlook for many.

Pro-Choice protestors in front of SCOTUS June 24, 2022 (Photo by Josh Alburtus)

“Gay marriage, interracial marriage, gay sex are going to fall like fucking dominoes if we let them,” one speaker outside the Court said.

Anger and fear could be felt permeating those in the crowd. Activists, however, were determined to turn their compatriots’ fears into action and change.

“We must get out in the streets,” the speaker said. “We need millions of people all around the country because this affects every single living, breathing person in this country whether they realize it yet or not.”

Among protesters’ trepidation regarding the future of women’s rights and privacy rights in America, many clung to a message of hope as speakers and activists pledged to continue fighting.

“They have worked to keep us down, they worked to keep us enslaved, they worked to keep us out of the polls, they worked to keep us out of political offices, they’ve worked to keep us in the home,” White said. “But we know, as we fought for centuries, that this will not stand.”

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Newsom & others move to protect abortion rights after SCOTUS ruling

The decision of allowing access now falls to individual states. 13 states have passed ‘trigger laws’ that criminalize & outlaw abortion

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Newsom announcing abortion protections (Office of California Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he others will take action on legislation to protect patients and providers in California against abortion bans in other states.

Also in response to the decision this morning, Newsom and the governors of Oregon, Kate Brown and Washington State, Jay Inslee launched a new Multi-State Commitment to defend access to reproductive health care and protect patients and providers.

California, Washington, Oregon Commitment to Reproductive Freedom: West Coast Offense:

Governor Newsom has proposed a $125 million Reproductive Health Package to expand access for women and help prepare for the influx of women seeking reproductive health care from other states. In addition, the California Legislature has introduced a constitutional amendment to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution.

Governor Newsom recently signed legislation eliminating copays for abortion care services and has signed into law a legislative package to further strengthen access and protect patients and providers.

With its ruling Friday the high court leaves the decision of whether to allow abortion access now falls to individual states. 13 states have already passed so-called ‘trigger laws’ which will criminalize and outlaw the procedure.

The following shows the state, the penalty and when the trigger law takes effect:

Newsom today signed legislation to help protect patients and providers in California against radical attempts by other states to extend their anti-abortion laws into California.  

“With today’s Supreme Court decision to endanger the health and safety of millions of women across the country, California must do everything it can to protect the fundamental rights of all women – in California and beyond,” said Governor Newsom. “We know that states like Missouri are already targeting women seeking abortions in states like California where abortion remains legal. This legislation seeks to protect women and care providers from civil liability imposed by other states, and sends a clear message that California will continue to be a safe haven for all women seeking reproductive health care services in our state.”

The Governor signed AB 1666 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), which seeks to protect those in California from civil liability for providing, aiding, or receiving abortion care in the state.

The measure comes as lawmakers in Missouri advance a proposal to allow private citizens to sue Missouri residents who have an abortion out of state, as well as their providers and anyone who assists them in seeking an abortion. Texas has enacted a six-week ban on abortion with a private right of action enabling individuals to sue abortion providers and others.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has introduced a federal bill to exclude employers from receiving tax breaks if they provide abortion access to their employees.

Governor Newsom and California leaders respond to Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade

“This is a dark moment for our country,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “This court’s decision is outrageous, unprecedented, and dangerous. It blasts our nation back into the dark ages. Millions are now facing a stark reality when it comes to their right to choose. People all across the nation — their bodies, futures, and families — will be hurt by this decision. But, in California, we refuse to turn back the clock and let politicians exert control over a person’s body. Despite the decision, abortion remains fully protected here in California. We’ll keep fighting to strengthen and expand access to safe and legal abortion. As Attorney General, I will use the full force of the law and the full authority of my office to protect reproductive healthcare for every person who seeks it in California. Abortion remains a legally protected right in our state and, in California, we won’t backslide.”

“Extremist laws – now deemed constitutional – will pursue our incredible providers for the care they provide, will penalize vulnerable people desperately seeking abortions in a last effort to control their own lives,” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan. “ In California we won’t let this happen. I am incredibly grateful to the governor for signing AB 1666, which will immediately protect anyone in California from civil penalties for abortion. We will continue to fight and be a sanctuary for abortion care.”

In a press release, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health relayed that Abortion remains safe and legal in California and Los Angeles.

“We know from decades of research that the impact of criminalizing abortion falls hardest on people who already struggle to access health care, including abortion. This includes low income women, women of color, immigrants, youth, and LGBTQI+ people, many of whom will now potentially face the prospect of forced childbirth. All people, both residents of LA and those residing elsewhere, must have access to safe, legal, high quality abortion services,” Public Health said.

“Los Angeles County’s Safe Haven Abortion Project is underway.  It seeks to improve access to abortion and to the full spectrum of reproductive health services for Los Angeles residents and for people who travel here from states where abortion is no longer an option. Access to the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion, is fundamental to the health of individuals, families, and communities.”  

“Make sure your friends and families know: In California and here in LA County, abortion remains safe and legal,” the statement concluded.

For more information about abortion as a public health issue, see http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/owh/Abortion.htm.

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