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Massive LGBT strike in Israel

LA’s out Rabbi Denise Eger reacts

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Thousands protest against the discriminatory surrogate bill in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 22, 2018. (Photo courtesy Facebook)

An estimated 100,000 Israelis took to the streets in protest on Sunday, July 22, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration blocked an amendment to a law that would have extended surrogacy rights to same-sex couples. The law allows single women to have children through surrogates via the national healthcare plan—but the exclusion of gay men was greeted with outrage from Israel’s LGBT community.

Netanyahu initially signaled his support for the amendment on July 16, but reversed course two days later, reportedly under pressure from Orthodox Jewish coalition partners who oppose any legislation that condones homosexuality. Israel has increasingly supported LGBT rights, but the ultra-Orthodox contingent still holds considerable power.

Out lesbian Rabbi Denise Eger, founding rabbi of congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood and immediate past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, told the Los Angeles Blade: “Time and again, those of us who are to the center and to the left are constantly fighting against the encroaching right-wing Orthodox power. These are fundamentalist Jewish parties. They are reading their Bible—their Torah—with a strict and narrow viewpoint.”

Eger believes Netanyahu is perhaps not personally anti-LGBTQ, but rather may be siding against Israel’s LGBTQ communities because it is politically expedient.

On Sunday, the beginning of Israel’s work week, gay rights groups called a strike with the support of major companies and the national labor movement. Protests clogged the streets leading to Tel Aviv, whose City Hall was illuminated by the Star of David and colors of the rainbow. Straight allies joined the LGBT demonstrators, in many cases to voice their opposition to other recently enacted conservative policies.
Among its other provisions, the widely-criticized “nation state” bill that was recently passed by Israel’s Parliament, removes Arabic from the official languages, alongside Hebrew, that are recognized in the country.

“Those of us who are connected to Israel,” Eger said, “and are Zionists, as I am, are appalled at the ‘nation state’ bill.”

Another incendiary development happened on Friday, July 20, Eger said, when an Orthodox rabbinist called the police to arrest a conservative rabbi for performing a commitment ceremony (of opposite-sex partners). In Israel, where civil marriage does not exist, only imams, priests, and Orthodox rabbis are permitted to ordain weddings and funerals.

“The interests of the national religious and ultra-Orthodox factions, pose a significant threat to Israeli democracy and push us far from democracy in the direction of theocracy, as witnessed by the interrogation of a Conservative Rabbi for the absurd transgression of performing a wedding ceremony,” wrote leading Reform Rabbi Meir Azari in an email to members of a progressive Jewish organization.

Reaction to Friday’s arrest coalesced with opposition to the “nation state” legislation and outrage against Netanyahu’s volte-face on including gay men in the surrogacy law. Considering that Israel’s total population is roughly equivalent to Virginia’s, the number of protestors who turned out Sunday in cities from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Haifa, and Beersheba is remarkable, Eger said. “It’s a wonderful, important, and incredible exercise of democracy.”

The demonstrators are impassioned, as the subject of family planning is deeply personal, and the exclusion of same-sex couples will, in many cases, force gay men to travel outside the country to find surrogates. Many say the process can cost upward of $100,000.

“Look me in the eyes and tell me I don’t deserve to be a father,” a protestor shouted near Netanyahu’s residence before he was detained by Israeli police, which has arrested and released three people so far in protests in Jerusalem, according to The Times of Israel.

“Both reform and conservative Jews here in America have supported the protests of the LGBTQ community [in Israel],” Eger said. And LGBTQ people are completely integrated in Israeli society, she explained. “There’s no division; no dividing line.”

Several of the country’s major gay rights groups have circulated petitions on social media that call for supporters to join what they call the Global Strike for LGBTQ Rights in Israel. At the same time, Havruta, an Israeli LGBT organization of religiously-inclined Jewish people—which aims to promote tolerance and understanding in the Orthodox community—shared a post on Facebook that reads, in part, “I do not know what a right to parenthood is. I do not think that surrogacy for same-sex couples is a cause for celebration, but I know that we have the strength to heal this rift, and therefore we must heal it…I have no intention of striking Sunday.”

Members of Havruta feel that intimate behavior between people of the same sex is immoral.

“There are always people who are LGBTQ Jews who struggle because they came from or live in the Orthodox world,” Eger explained. “These people are far, far right in the religious world.”

She compared these groups to movements in Catholicism that preach acceptance of LGBTQ congregants while maintaining that same-sex behavior is verboten. “

They are struggling,” Eger said, “because they want to stay in that very far-right world and they’re struggling with their homosexuality.” By contrast, “The majority of the LGBTQ organizations in Israel work to try to help LGBTQ people be proud of who they are and live full, healthy lives—including in their intimate lives.”

The American Jewish Committee endorsed the strike. But major Jewish and LGBT organizations based in the United States, including the Human Rights Campaign, have not yet issued statements on social media that concern the protests in Israel.

Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, spoke before the Christians United for Israel in Washington, DC and apparently did not mention the strike.

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California Politics

It’s official- Rep. Karen Bass enters race to become the next mayor of LA

If elected she would be the first Black woman & second Black mayor after legendary Tom Bradley who served as 38th Mayor from 1973 to 1993

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Rep. Karen Bass (D-37CA) (Photo Credit: Bass campaign provided0

LOS ANGELES – Congresswoman Karen Bass officially announced her entrance Monday as a candidate to replace her fellow Democrat outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“Our city is facing a public health, safety and economic crisis in homelessness that has evolved into a humanitarian emergency,” she said in a statement announcing her candidacy. “Los Angeles is my home. With my whole heart, I’m ready. Let’s do this — together.”

If Bass were to win election she would be the first Black woman mayor and the second Black mayor after Thomas Bradley, the legendary politician and former police officer who served as the 38th Mayor of Los Angeles from 1973 to 1993.

KABC 7 noted that she would be the first sitting House member to be elected mayor of Los Angeles since 1953, when Rep. Norris Poulson was elected. Then-Reps. James Roosevelt, Alphonzo Bell and Xavier Becerra lost campaigns for mayor in 1965, 1969 and 2001.

The 67-year-old member of Congress currently represents the 37th Congressional District, which encompasses Los Angeles neighborhoods west and southwest of downtown including Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills, Miracle Mile, Pico-Robertson, Century City, Cheviot Hills, West Los Angeles, Mar Vista and parts of Westwood, as well as Culver City and Inglewood. Bass was a member of the California Assembly from 2004-10, serving as that body’s speaker from 2008 to 2010.

Bass is entering an already crowded field of candidates including Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and two members of the City Council – Kevin de León and Joe Buscaino – who have already announced their campaigns for mayor.

When speculation as to her running surfaced last week, Bass spokesman Zach Seidl told the Los Angeles Times that her running was due to the fact that “Los Angeles is facing a humanitarian crisis in homelessness and a public health crisis in the disproportionate impact this pandemic has had on Angelenos,” Seidl said in a statement. “She does not want to see these two issues tear the city apart. Los Angeles has to come together. That’s why the Congresswoman is considering a run for mayor,” he added.

That seems to be the focal point and whoever is elected will face the city’s massive homelessness crisis.

Bass acknowledged this in her candidacy announcement statement this morning, writing “I’ve spent my entire life bringing groups of people together in coalitions to solve complex problems and produce concrete change — especially in times of crisis.”

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California Politics

Rep. Karen Bass to enter Los Angeles mayoral race

Bass has been working to dismantle systemic racism, as well as other forms of social, racial and economic injustice, for decades

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Rep. Karen Bass, (D-37) (Photo Credit: Blade file photo by Karen Ocamb)

LOS ANGELES – In a breaking story published Friday morning, the Los Angeles Times reported that Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass, who represents California’s 37th congressional district, which covers several areas south and west of downtown LA will enter the mayor’s race.

U.S. Rep Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) intends to run for Los Angeles mayor, according to three people familiar with her plans. Such a move would shake up a contest that, until this past week, which saw the field of candidates increase, had been a fairly sleepy affair. Bass, a high-profile Democrat who has served in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C., could announce her entry into the mayor’s race as early as next week, those sources told The Times.

Bass has been working to dismantle systemic racism, as well as other forms of social, racial and economic injustice, for decades. She is a community activist who was raised on civil rights activism in LA’s Jewish Venice-Fairfax district, volunteered for Bobby Kennedy’s presidential campaign in middle school, graduated from Hamilton High School in West LA in 1971, studied philosophy at San Diego University but switched her attention to healthcare, graduating from USC’s Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. She subsequently received her BA in health sciences from Cal State/Dominguez Hills and her Masters in Social Work from USC.

Bass focused that training on fighting the crack epidemic in South LA, where she founded the Community Coalition to fight for substance abuse prevention programs and better foster care and relative caregivers, like grandmothers.

She also fought the AIDS epidemic — all experience directly applicable to dealing with the ongoing Opioid crisis, as well as COVID-19.

“I went through the AIDS crisis from its very beginning. I watched all of Santa Monica Boulevard get wiped out near Vermont (Ave.). That whole area there. I watched everybody die within a matter of two years,” Bass told the Los Angeles Blade. “But I think that this [COVID-19 crisis] is really hard because you don’t have to have any physical contact….People are building the plane while it’s flying.”

Torie Osborn, the executive director of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in 1989, met Bass at a meeting of progressive grassroots activists in a South LA church basement.

“This woman I didn’t know came up, introduced herself as Karen Bass from South LA, an anti-police violence activist and a physician assistant,” Osborn says. The two talked all day with Bass noting that the gay community’s experience of AIDS deaths was similar to what the Black community was experiencing during the crack epidemic.

“I had never heard anything like this before. She knew gay men. She clearly was an ally,” Osborn says.

Last summer the Biden campaign vetted Bass as a potential candidate for the number two spot on the Democratic ticket in the race for the White House, which ultimately ended up with then California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris as Biden’s choice.

“Los Angeles is facing a humanitarian crisis in homelessness and a public health crisis in the disproportionate impact this pandemic has had on Angelenos,” Bass spokesman Zach Seidl said in a statement, when asked for comment by the Times. “She does not want to see these two issues tear the city apart. Los Angeles has to come together. That’s why the Congresswoman is considering a run for mayor.”

Earlier this past week, another LGBTQ ally, Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León, a Democrat, announced his intention to seek the mayor’s chair after current Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was elected for a four-year term in 2013 and again in 2017- who’s limited to serving no more than two terms- was picked by President Joe Biden to serve as the U.S. ambassador to India on July 9, 2021.

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Head of Anti-LGBTQ group worked with Trump to overturn election

Eastman and the former president had a secret scheme to try to get former Vice-President Mike Pence to overturn election

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NOM Head John Eastman with Rudy Giuliani on January 6, 2021 (Screenshot via YouTube)

By David Badash | PROVINCETOWN, Ma. – The head of a once well-known anti-LGBTQ organization that spent countless millions in dark money to try to block the advancement of same-sex marriage worked with then-President Donald Trump and his legal team on a secret scheme to try to get Vice President Mike Pence to subvert the U.S. Constitution and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

John Eastman, who until January 13 was a tenured professor of law and dean at the Chapman University School of Law in California, advanced a six-point plan detailing the steps he wanted Pence to take on January 6.

Eastman, who is the chairman of NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, “tried to convince then-Vice President Mike Pence that he could overturn the election results on January 6 when Congress counted the Electoral College votes by throwing out electors from seven states, according to the new book ‘Peril’ from Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa,” CNN reports.

“You really need to listen to John. He’s a respected constitutional scholar. Hear him out,” Trump told Pence during a January 4 meeting with Eastman in the Oval Office, according to “Peril.”

In addition to directing that Pence would falsely claim that the seven states had competing electors, Eastman suggested Pence make all these moves without warning.

“The main thing here is that Pence should do this without asking for permission — either from a vote of the joint session or from the Court,” Eastman wrote. “The fact is that the Constitution assigns this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter. We should take all of our actions with that in mind.”

Pence disagreed with Eastman’s legal claims and did not enact the secret scheme.

Eastman spoke at the January 6 “Save America” rally that many claim Trump used to incite the insurrection.

One week later he “abruptly” resigned from Chapman University “amid criticism of his role in stoking the violent attack,” and “calls for his firing,” Law.com reported at the time.

********************

David Badash (@davidbadash) is the founder and editor of The New Civil Rights Movement, an award-winning news & opinion site.

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

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