Rouda really could unseat Rohrabacher
Laguna Beach-based candidate Harley Rouda wants to restore decency to Congress
The midterm elections just weeks away will be close with Democrats still predicted to win the House and Republicans assumed to keep the Senate. But while the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh gave a bounce to GOP enthusiasm, polls following his swearing in as the new Supreme Court Justice and President Trump’s mocking of sexual assault victim Dr. Christine Blasey Ford at a campaign rally reflect what CNN calls a huge and growing gender gap that may—may—reflect a cultural turning point with political consequences.
One of the starkest markers of that change is in Orange County, where some of the reddest of red anti-LGBT congressional districts have turned purple. Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California, calls the evolution a “tectonic shift,” with the decline of Republican voter registration from 49% to 36%, plus an increase in Democratic and independent registration and the changing demographics with the influx of Latinos and Asian Americans who are likely registered Democrats.
Politico has the six OC races that could flip the House as: “Lean Democrat” for Katie Hill vs Steve Knight in CD 25 and Mike Levin vs Diane Harkey in CD 49; “Toss-up” for Gil Cisneros vs Young Kim in CD 39, Katie Porter vs Mimi Walters in CD 45, and Harley Rouda vs Dana Rohrabacher in CD 48. Ammar Campa-Najjar’s once dark horse race against Duncan Hunter is rated as “Lean Republican,” though an Oct. 10 San Diego Union-Tribune report about yet more issues with campaign finance reporting may hurt Hunter in his desperate effort to keep his legacy seat.
One campaign getting a lot of national attention is Laguna Beach businessman Harley Rouda’s challenge to unseat 30-year office holder Dana Rohrabacher—the anti-LGBT representative long known as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favorite congressman—in the coastal district that spans Seal Beach south to Laguna Niguel. As the Los Angeles Times detailed on Oct. 8, Rohrabacher’s ties to the Russians also link him to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, thus complicating the Republican’s reelection bid.
But as a new video ad for Rouda points out, teased on his Twitter account, https://twitter.com/HarleyRouda, a number of Republicans are fed up with Rohrabacher. “The party left me. It’s not the same party,” one Republican woman says, answering the question “Why are Orange County conservatives thinking differently in 2018?” A Republican man calls the election Rohrabacher’s “performance review” and determines he’s accomplished “absolutely nothing.”
The ad contrasts Rouda with Rohrabacher’s views on issues such as the exploding federal deficit under Republican rule, climate change (which Rohrabacher calls a “hoax”) and women’s healthcare.
The ad does not mention LGBT rights but Rouda has repeatedly stressed his support in interviews, saying he will immediately sign onto the LGBT civil rights bill, the Equality Act, if elected. Laguna Nigel residents Tyler Robuck and husband Nic Robuck believe him. They attended a recent LGBT fundraiser for Rouda at the Los Angeles home of Alan Uphold and Jeff Olde and expressed passionate concerned about raising their three-year old son Staton in an America that now lacks decency “in our neighborhoods and in our conversations and in our groceries stores, and especially in politics. Human decency is gone. The compassion for one another, the connection seems to be missing,” Robuck told the Los Angeles Blade. Caring, kindness— that’s missing right now in this administration and in the Republican Congress. So trying to find role models for him is difficult and we want to change that.”
Rouda shares similar sentiments, one of the reasons why he stepped up as a citizen to run for office.
“My wife (award winning author Kaira Sturdivant Rouda) and I have always been very active in charity and philanthropy,” Rouda told the Los Angeles Blade in an Oct 3 interview. “My dad raised me saying you give your time, your talent, your treasures. We’re at a point in life when it’s easier to give treasures. But it’s always been important to give time, as well, to commit to getting things done.
“And the 2016 election was a watershed event. It wasn’t just the fact that Donald Trump became president,” Rouda continues. “It was the polarizing effect that he has had on our country. It was both parties putting party first, country second—that the election seemed to be about two personalities instead of issues, and for me, the clear indication that our country was going in a direction that is not what I believe our founders wanted us to do with this republic. And that all of us needed to start talking about our issues. Regardless of where we are on the political spectrum, we need to talk. And for me, that meant running for office.”
Rouda says changing hearts and minds and restoring decency—and creating role models for Staton Robuck—takes leadership from the top.
“Unfortunately, Donald Trump is a bad example, in so many ways, for our kids and also for elected politicians. I think what we’ve seen in the Senate with this breakdown in decorum—Donald Trump has to take some responsibility for that happening by creating an environment where that type of behavior is not only acceptable but it’s almost encouraged,” he says. “The role of the President of the United States is to bring Americans together. That has always been one of the key roles of the President. This is the first time in our lifetime that we have ever seen a president who purposely and systematically is pitting Americans against Americans.”
Rouda and his wife Kaira actually have a history of stepping up when the duty of citizenship calls, creating a homeless shelter to allow families to stay together.
“My wife read the story in the New Yorker Magazine about the plight of homeless families. Typically the breadwinners lose their jobs, and you miss mortgage payments; you lose the house; you go live in a motel until you run out of money; you live in your car until you realize that’s just not a tenable situation; and then you go into a shelter. And what they would do is send the men, the fathers and the oldest boys to the men’s shelter and the women, the mothers and the youngest children to the women’s shelter when all they have left is each other in that family unit.
“And there the system was separating them—just as we’re seeing on the Southern border where the only thing they have left when they get to our border,” Rouda says, “and we have our government, under the direction of Donald Trump, separating them when all they have is each other. It’s wrong. It’s wrong, whether its because they’re homeless Americans or wrong at the border—that’s when you want to keep the family together and help get them back on their feet.”
Rouda is also keenly aware of the history of white supremacy in his district. One of the four Southern California members of the so-called white supremacists “Rise Above Movement” arrested Oct. 2 for inciting that violence in Charlottesville lives in Huntington Beach.
“If you recall, Dana Rohrabacher said that the violence in Charlottesville was perpetrated by Democratic operatives,” Rouda said. “Clearly, that’s not the case. Clearly that was never the case. Not only has he failed to admonish the white nationalists, he has embraced them. It’s just one more piece of evidence as to how he is unfit to lead and unfit to serve.”
Rouda and his wife created a different approach to confronting white supremacists when the group America’s First staged a protest in Laguna Beach one week after the Charlottesville violence under the banner “Unity Over Division, Love Over Hate.”
“These same organizers came to Laguna Beach to organize a demonstration. And when my wife and I found out about that, we created #UnityRibbons. We took ribbons of every color and every size to represent the diversity of our country and our city and tied them around every signpost and every tree with hundreds and hundreds of volunteers helping us,” Rouda says. “So that when these people came into Laguna Beach, they knew they were going to be outnumbered by people who not only did not agree with their message, but were going to fight against that message every day of their lives.”
The flier for the event said: “Instead of confronting them at their rally, we’ve come together, activists and community leaders, and created our own rally the day before to bring together like-minded people who must demonstrate that America is better than this. In addition, we need a symbol to squash their evil ones. We are the majority. We are more powerful. We just need to come together to show our unity.”
“Don’t attend the hate group rally,” Kaira Rouda told the Laguna Beach Patch newspaper. “That’s what they want. The local law enforcement strongly urges us to stay away from these hate group gatherings. So don’t go. Instead, imagine them, ignored, surrounded by #unityribbons. As Dr. Martin Luther King once said: The time is always right to do what is right. With these simple, powerful steps, you will let everyone know that hate is not welcome here,” Rouda said.
The contrast between Rouda and Rohrabacher couldn’t be more stark on issues from climate change to homelessness. But on the issue of civil and human rights, Rohrabacher’s job performance lacks common decency while Rouda and his family stepped up for civility without being asked to do it simply because it’s the right thing to do.
“I welcome the opportunity to serve,” Rouda told the Los Angeles Blade. “And I need support in helping retired Dana Rohrabacher. And I’m committed to working with the constituents—not just in the 48th District but across Southern California and all of America to do what’s right.”
Rep. Frost talks gun control on anniversary of March for Our Lives
“10 years ago I became an Organizer because of Sandyhook. 3 years later, I’d become a survivor myself. That same year, Pulse”
Editor’s note: The full interview with Congressman Frost will be published next week.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), after a week of making headlines for his gun violence prevention advocacy, sat down with the Washington Blade for an exclusive interview on Friday, which marks the five-year anniversary of the founding of March for Our Lives.
The 26-year-old freshman Congressman, who before his election was national organizing director for the student-led gun control group, had just introduced his first piece of legislation Tuesday with U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn. that would establish an Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the U.S. Department of Justice.
The proposal’s aim, in part, is to better facilitate the implementation of last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act by establishing a singular office to coordinate that work.
And on Thursday, Frost captured and tweeted a video of a confrontation between U.S. Capitol Police and Patricia and Manuel Oliver, gun control advocates who lost their son Joaquin in the 2018 Parkland, Florida high school shooting.
Manuel and Patricia Oliver were just kicked out of this committee hearing on gun violence. Patricia said one thing and the chair escalated the entire situation. Then, Police arrested Manuel Oliver who lost his son in the Parkland shooting.— Maxwell Alejandro Frost (@MaxwellFrostFL) March 23, 2023
His son was shot to death.
Here is @manueloliver00 being arrested for speaking out at a committee hearing. His son, Jaoquin, was shot to death in Parkland, Fl.— Maxwell Alejandro Frost (@MaxwellFrostFL) March 23, 2023
MANNY IS A HERO. He didn’t deserve this. The Republican Chair of this committee just called him a narcissist. Disgraceful. pic.twitter.com/6jccYvesHb
The couple had been removed by police from the House Oversight and House Judiciary Committees’ gun rights hearing at the request of GOP Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Pat Fallon (Texas).
Frost, who was in attendance, told the Blade the conflict started when Patricia Oliver “just stood up and she said, ‘you took my son’ and she sat down,” but “instead of moving on, the Chair [Fallon] escalated things.”
The Congressman said hearing itself was “a sham” convened for the purpose of attacking the Biden administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the entity within the U.S. Justice Department that investigates violations of laws governing the manufacture, possession, and use of guns.
“The real story here,” said the Congressman, “is the fact that there were two parents who lost their son who was in high school, because he was shot to death and died in a pool of his own blood, and now they’re going to spend the rest of their lives fighting for a world where it doesn’t happen to anybody else.”
Frost noted the Olivers were joined at the hearing by other families, activists, and organizers – all of whom were gathered in Washington, D.C. to advance the mission established by the group of teenaged Parkland survivors who founded March for Our Lives five years ago.
Among these student activists were Cameron Kasky, who identifies as queer, and X González, who is bisexual and uses they/them pronouns.
Frost has repeatedly said he ran for Congress because of his involvement in the gun violence prevention advocacy movement, which began with his volunteering on behalf of the Newtown Action Alliance, a group formed in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The Congressman told NPR the 2016 shooting at Pulse, the gay nightclub in Orlando “where 49 angels were murdered right here because they’re queer” marked one of the most significant moments of his life.
That same year and in that same city, Frost himself survived a gun violence incident.
During his congressional campaign, on the heels of last year’s elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Frost tweeted: “10 years ago I became an Organizer because of Sandyhook. 3 years later, I’d become a survivor myself. That same year, Pulse. Now I’m running for Congress and 15 lives were taken at another Elementary school. I will not stop until the endless shootings do.”
SPLC condemns passage of Georgia anti-trans healthcare bill
Southern Poverty Law Center urged Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to veto S.B. 140, calling on him to not “give into pressure from his party”
ATLANTA – The Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund published a statement Tuesday condemning the Republican controlled Georgia legislature’s passage of S.B. 140, a bill that will criminalize gender-affirming health care for minors.
The statement, issued by Beth Littrell, senior supervising attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s LGBTQ and Special Litigation Practice Group, urges Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to veto S.B. 140, calling on him to not “give into pressure from his party” when “the health and wellbeing of young people are at risk” through the denial of “safe, effective medical treatment to transgender youth — based only on prejudice and political pandering.”
Kemp should “leave personal healthcare decisions in the capable hands of parents, children, and their doctors,” Littrell’s statement continues. “We hope the Governor will elevate himself and the State of Georgia above this cynical partisan attack on transgender youth, medical autonomy, and parental rights.”
S.B. 140 specifically prohibits “sex reassignment surgeries, or any other surgical procedures, that are performed for the purpose of altering primary or secondary sexual characteristics” when they are “performed on a minor for the treatment of gender dysphoria.”
“Limited exceptions” are made for the treatment of conditions other than gender dysphoria, if deemed medically necessary by the physician or healthcare practitioner, and for the treatment of patients with “a medically verifiable disorder of sex development.”
The mainstream medical societies with relevant clinical expertise have repeatedly spoken out against legislation that limits access to or criminalizes, as in the case of Georgia’s bill, guideline directed interventions for the treatment of trans and gender nonconforming youth.
On March 16, far-right GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who represents Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, called for the state legislature to make the bill more restrictive.
Specifically, in a tweet she urged the lawmakers to amended S.B. 140 such that treatment of gender dysphoria minor patients with puberty blockers would be criminalized alongside the other interventions covered in the bill and also to remove the covered exceptions.
Wiener introduces legislation to protect LGBTQ+ foster youth
SB 407 ensures LGBTQ foster youth are raised in supportive environments by creating standard documentation for their needs
SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 407, legislation to improve foster care conditions for LGBTQ youth. Nearly one third of foster youth identify as LGBTQ.
SB 407 ensures LGBTQ foster youth are raised in supportive environments by creating standard documentation for their needs, adding more follow-up from the Department of Social Services, and requiring LGBTQ youth’s needs be specifically considered in at-home assessments – including clarifying that conduct that poses risk to the health and safety of LGBTQ youth is a valid reason to deny a family the right to host a foster youth.
“Every child deserves to be one hundred percent supported at home,” said Wiener. “SB 407 ensures that foster youth receive this essential support by specifically requiring LGBTQ acceptance be considered in the resource family approval (RFA) process, creating standard documentation for the assessment of LGBTQ youth needs, and ensuring more frequent follow-up. These youth are at high risk for homelessness, criminal justice involvement, and mental health issues, and we must do everything in our power to ensure they have a safe home in the state of California.”
According to the California Child Welfare Indicators Project, there are 53,371 youth in foster care in California as of October 1, 2022. Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are overrepresented in foster care, with at least three studies estimating about 30 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ.
The degree of support for their identity an LGBTQ child receives at home is a strong predictor of their mental health outcomes. According to the Trevor Project, teens who perceived parental support regarding gender identity were 93% less likely to attempt suicide than youth who did not perceive parents as supportive.
Data collected since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic show LGBTQ youth are facing a crisis of mental health. Forty-two percent of LGBTQ+ youth—and 52 percent of trans youth—said they seriously considered suicide in 2021. This crisis may be related to the recent surge of anti-LGBTQ hatred in many states in recent years, which most LGBTQ youth are exposed to online. This year alone, more than 420 bills have been introduced in states across the country.
In 2019, California passed AB 175 (Gipson), which expanded the foster youth bill of rights to include rights to be referred to by the youth’s preferred name and pronoun and maintain privacy of the child’s sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Under existing law, foster youth also have the right to have caregivers and child welfare personnel that have received instruction on cultural competency and best practices for providing care for LGBTQ+ youth in out-of-home care.
However, while the foster youth bill of rights is strong, it has not translated into the RFA process or into considerations made when approving caregivers. LGBTQ foster youth are still being placed in homes with families that discriminate against or are hostile toward them based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
SB 407 will strengthen the resource family approval (RFA) process for LGBTQ foster youth by:
- Requiring explicit consideration of LGBTQ youth in home and environmental assessments;
- Creating standard documentation by the Department of Social Services for these assessments to include LGBTQ youth needs;
- Reviewing county-approved resource families to evaluate if they are meeting the needs of LGBTQ youth and investigating related incidents as needed;
- Ensuring that resource families have the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to support LGBTQ youth; and
- Clarifying existing law that conduct that poses risk to the health and safety of LGBTQ youth is a valid reason for denial of a resource family.
SB 407 is sponsored by Equality California and the California Alliance of Child and Family Services.
“According to the Trevor Project, teens who have parental support regarding their gender identity were 93% less likely to attempt suicide than youth who did not perceive parents as supportive. Supportive and affirming homes for LGBTQ+ foster youth saves lives. The CA Alliance is excited to partner with Senator Wiener on SB 407 to ensure that all LGBTQ+ foster youth have affirming families and feel safe, supported, and cared for.” –Christine Stoner-Mertz, CEO of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services
“LGBTQ+ foster youth experience violence and other stressors unique to the LGBTQ+ community, including homophobia or transphobia,” said Tony Hoang, Executive Director of Equality California. “SB 407 protects LGBTQ+ foster youth from being placed in non-affirming homes by creating standard guidelines and criteria that carefully screens potential families. LGBTQ+ foster youth need a healthy environment that supports and embraces them as they explore their identity.”
Chasten Buttigieg speaks out against Pence’s homophobic remarks
The Transportation Secretary, asked on Monday whether they are owed an apology from Pence, said, “I’ll let others speak to that”
NEW YORK – Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, said former Vice President Mike Pence has not apologized for homophobic and misogynistic remarks about the couple that he made at a dinner in Washington, DC last weekend.
“I spoke up because we all have an obligation to hold people accountable for when they say something wrong, especially when it’s misogynistic, especially when it’s homophobic,” Chasten Buttigieg said during an appearance Thursday on ABC’s The View.
Also on Thursday, the Associated Press reported Pence doubled down on his remarks after a Republican Party dinner in New Hampshire, telling reporters, “The only thing I can figure is Pete Buttigieg not only can’t do his job, but he can’t take a joke.”
Last Saturday, Pence had joked that following the birth of the Buttigieg twins in 2021, the Transportation Secretary took “maternity leave” and then the country suffered “postpartum depression” over issues with airlines and air travel.
The former Vice President delivered the remarks — which were first reported by the Washington Blade — during the annual Gridiron Club dinner, which he headlined along with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D).
Per tradition, speakers at the dinner are expected to poke fun at political figures, including guests in attendance, but Pence’s comments quickly drew outrage for their homophobia and misogyny.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed the matter in a comment shared with the Blade on Monday, “The former vice president’s homophobic joke about Secretary Buttigieg was offensive and inappropriate, all the more so because he treated women suffering from postpartum depression as a punchline.”
The Buttigiegs have been public about the “terrifying” ordeal they suffered following the premature births of their twins. The newborns developed serious Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections (RSV) — which required one to be hospitalized, put on a ventilator, and transferred to a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids for treatment.
“An honest question for you, @Mike_Pence, after your attempted joke this weekend,” Chasten Buttigieg tweeted on Monday, “If your grandchild was born prematurely and placed on a ventilator at two months old – their tiny fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background – where would you be?”
The Transportation Secretary, asked on Monday whether they are owed an apology from Pence, said, “I’ll let others speak to that.”
During Thursday’s interview, Chasten Buttigieg called out the hypocrisy of Pence’s putative identity as a “family values Republican,” telling the talk show’s hosts, “I don’t think he’s practicing what he preaches here.”
“But also,” he added, “it’s a bigger conversation about the work that women do in families — taking a swipe at all women and all families and expecting that women would stay home and raise children is a misogynistic view.”
Rachel Maddow: Trump inciting fears of another potential January 6
“He’s trying to make it so that there is a threat of uncontrollable political violence in this country that is triggered”
NEW YORK – Speaking by phone on Saturday morning with MSNBC’s weekend anchor and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC journalist and anchor Rachel Maddow reflected on the plea by former President Donald Trump, in a social media post, to ‘protest’ his impending arrest.
In a post on the Trump owned TRUTH social, the former president implied that his indictment and arrest on corruption charges in New York were imminent and that his followers should stage protests to “Take our nation back” employing the same rhetoric he used that eventually led to the Capitol insurrection. He had called for his followers to protest the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election by Congress meeting on January 6, 2021.
NBC News reported Friday that the New York Police Department (NYPD) and New York State Court Officers, along with Homeland Security, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service were quietly preparing for potential demonstrations from Trump’s supporters and counterprotests from those opposed to the former president opponents and the potential of the two groups violently clashing each other.
A spokesperson for Trump told CNN Saturday that the former president has not received a notification from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office regarding any potential indictment, but was “rightfully highlighting his innocence” in his post.
Trump is under criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in connection to a hush money payment his former personal attorney Michael Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election, CNBC reported noting Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, spoke on the heels of the report by NBC News that federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are preparing for the possibility that Trump will be indicted as early as next week.
Maddow told Capehart:
“[…] I don’t think we’ve had a clear view of what his legal defense is going to be, but his overall defense is going to be to try to raise the civic cost of indicting him. He is trying to bring intimidation and pressure to bear against the prosecutors who are considering right now whether to indict him. And he’s hoping to create fear that there’ll be another January 6 type event or, you know, his followers are going to show up another FBI office or, you know, something else that he could he could cause to happen by asking his followers to go into the streets in his defense.”
Capehart responded noting: “I’m glad you brought that up. And I love that phrasing, raise the the civic cost of indicting him. And I’m just wondering, the it’s hard not to recall January 6th when you read a post like the one he put out this morning. And I want you to talk further. How concerned are you and should people be concerned that that Trump supporters will see this as a call to action?”
In answer Maddow said: “Well, he’s trying to make it that.
“Getting arrested, getting indicted, even going to jail isn’t the end of the line. It isn’t the end of the world. But Trump is trying to make it that. He’s trying to make it so that there is a threat of uncontrollable political violence in this country that is triggered, that would be triggered by any, any act of the legal system against him. It’s his effort. There’s nothing intrinsic about him getting in trouble as a potentially publicly corrupt, public, corrupt figure that should cause violence. But he’s trying to make sure that it does. And the question is, whether his followers do.”
Capehart then asked: “And, you know, to that point, you anticipated the next question I was going to ask you, given this long history of public officials up and down, up and down the roster being arrested and some of them viewing viewing it as a good thing, using the number of times they’ve been indicted as a punchline in in campaign speeches. Is this good for Trump politically because he is right now a declared candidate for president?”
“Yes. I mean, I think that he’s banking on it being something that helps him. But he is playing with a fire that he doesn’t know how to contain and that nobody knows how to contain,” Maddow said adding: “Right. I mean, I think it is a little unnerving that his first political campaign appearance for his 2024 run is in Waco, Right. We’re at the 30th anniversary of the Waco standoff, Right. You’re talking about trying to trying to engender militant consciousness among Americans about the need to fight the federal government with violence. Well, Waco was a nice place to try to do that from. That’s a nice resonant place to try to do that from.
I mean, him being indicted on, you know, on a charge related to campaign finance tax and business fraud, again, doesn’t have to be the end of the world for him and could potentially be a positive for him. But if he’s asking for a militant racially, racially tinged violent response from his followers, that’s something that won’t be good for him. You know, January 6 is not good for Trump’s political legacy, for all the other things that it is, for all the other things that means for our country. It didn’t make him more electable for coming back as another term as president.
And so he’s he’s trying to start something that I don’t think he can, I don’t think he can take responsibility for how it will finish. And so I just I don’t I just don’t think it’s wise on his part. Just in political strategy, for him to be calling for what he’s calling for.”
LGBTQ groups challenge Fla. healthcare ban for trans youth
The healthcare ban is among anti-LGBTQ laws passed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his conservative allies in the state legislature
Attorneys from a coalition of three LGBTQ groups and a public interest law firm announced on Thursday their plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of Florida parents challenging the state’s ban on healthcare interventions for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors.
Plaintiffs are represented by Southern Legal Counsel, Inc., the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). A spokesperson for NCLR told the Washington Blade they plan to file the complaint “in the next week or so.”
The ban on guideline-directed, medically necessary healthcare for trans youth went into effect Thursday. The rule has been opposed by major medical associations with relevant clinical expertise including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
These organizations’ clinical practice guidelines and recommendations for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minor patients are backed by hundreds of peer-reviewed studies on the safety, efficacy, and medical necessity of these interventions.
“This policy came about through a political process with a predetermined conclusion, and it stands in direct contrast to the overwhelming weight of the evidence and science,” said Simone Chriss, Director of Transgender Rights Initiative, Southern Legal Counsel, in a press release announcing the lawsuit.
“There is an unbelievable degree of hypocrisy when a state that holds itself out as being deeply concerned with protecting ‘parents’ rights’ strips parents of their right to ensure their children receive appropriate medical care,” Chriss said.
“Our daughter is a happy, confident child but denying her access to the medical care recommended by her doctors would completely disrupt her life,” one parent-plaintiff said in the press release. “I’m devastated by what this will mean for her physical and mental health.”
The healthcare ban is among a bevy of anti-LGBTQ laws passed in recent years by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his conservative allies in the state legislature. Other examples include last year’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bars classroom discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity, and the 2021 law that prohibits transgender women and girls from participating in school sports.
The ACLU is tracking 10 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration by Florida lawmakers during this legislative session. Among these is a proposal that would allow the state to take children from their parents for facilitating access to gender affirming healthcare and require courts to “vacate, stay, or modify the child custody determination to the extent necessary to protect the child from the provision of such prescriptions or procedures.”
Republican leader Gallagher introduces ‘outing’ bill in Sacramento
“Legislation ‘outing’ transgender students against their will does not protect them it puts them in potentially life-threatening danger”
SACRAMENTO – Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City) alongside Assemblymember Bill Essayli (Riverside) introduced legislation that would require that any teacher, counselor, or employee of a school notifies the parents of any student that identifies at school as a gender that does not align with their assigned birth gender.
The text of Assembly Bill 1314 reads:
Existing law authorizes a minor who is 12 years of age or older to consent to mental health treatment or counseling services, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, if, in the opinion of the attending professional person, the minor is mature enough to participate intelligently in those services, or to outpatient mental health treatment or counseling services if the foregoing is true and the minor would present a danger of serious physical or mental harm to self or to others without the mental health treatment or counseling or residential shelter services, or is the alleged victim of incest or child abuse. Existing law requires the mental health treatment or counseling of a minor authorized by these provisions to include involvement of the minor’s parent or guardian unless, in the opinion of the professional person who is treating or counseling the minor, the involvement would be inappropriate.
This bill would, notwithstanding the consent provisions described above, provide that a parent or guardian has the right to be notified in writing within 3 days from the date any teacher, counselor, or employee of the school becomes aware that a pupil is identifying at school as a gender that does not align with the child’s sex on their birth certificate, other official records, or sex assigned at birth, using sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, or using facilities that do not align with the child’s sex on their birth certificate, other official records, or sex assigned at birth. The bill would state legislative intent related to these provisions. By imposing additional duties on public school officials, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
Echoing arguments that have risen in state houses across the United States by Republicans, especially in Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas, Gallagher in a response to State Senator Scott Wiener who tweeted his outrage over the bill tweeted: “No Senator this bill simply stops an outrageous policy of transitioning kids at school in secret without their parents knowledge or consent.”
A DeSantis-style bill was just introduced in CA to require teachers/counselors to inform parents if a kid id’s as a gender not on birth certificate.— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) March 13, 2023
Even if the kid isn’t ready to come out to their parents. Even if ratting the kid out risks violence at home.
Nope, not in CA.
In a statement issued by his office, Assemblyman Essayli said, “This legislation seeks to protect parental rights, ensuring that parents know what is going on with their child at school, instead of having the teacher replace the parent in discussing important personal matters.”
Essayli told media outlets that the legislation was specifically designed to assert the freedom of teachers to openly communicate with parents regarding their children’s gender transition decisions, and that it was based on a Jurupa Valley educator’s firing over her predisposition toward full disclosure.
In response to the introduction of the measure, the California Legislative LGBTQ+ Caucus said in a statement released Monday afternoon:
“The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus is united in ensuring that our children are protected and safe. But legislation that aims to ‘out’ transgender and non-binary students against their will does not protect them — it puts them in potentially life-threatening danger, subjecting them to trauma and violence. Additionally, the Trevor Project cites family conflict around youths’ LGBTQ identities as a driving factor contributing to LGBTQ youth homelessness.
“Teachers should not be forced into the inappropriate position of revealing a student’s personal information about their gender identity with anyone. Data indicates that 82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves and 40% have attempted suicide, with suicidality highest among transgender youth. Anyone putting forward a bill that would only increase those numbers is not seeking to protect children. Period.”
Equality California also issued a statement:
“We want LGBTQ+ students to feel safe talking to their parents about their gender and sexuality, but AB 1314 ignores the reality that not all trans youth have that option. Trans people are more likely to face family rejection and even abuse at home based on their gender identity, which leads to overrepresentation in foster care, juvenile detention and among unhoused youth. For many trans kids, school is the only place they feel safe to be their true, authentic selves. Forced ‘outing’ bills like AB 1314 seek to strip that sense of safety and dignity away.
“Conversations between children and their parents about gender identity should happen on their terms — at a time and place they feel is appropriate — not because politicians say so. We should be encouraging and supporting parents to have open and honest conversations with their children, not forcing teachers to serve as the school’s ‘gender police’, tracking down students using a different name or pronoun at school and outing them at home.”
State Senator María Elena Durazo: Expand tenant protections
“The rising homelessness crisis has become one of the most urgent and humanitarian issues facing our state and communities”
SACRAMENTO – State Senator María Elena Durazo, (D-Los Angeles) introduced a bill this past Friday to address limiting the risk of homelessness in the Golden State by expanding the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019.
Senate Bill 567 (SB 567), the Homelessness Prevention Act, is set to give Californian renters greater housing stability and reduces the number of people on the brink of homelessness. Currently the existing law provides tenant protection for renters, which includes limits on rent increases, unjust evictions and relocation fees for no-fault evictions.
Durazo’s bill will close loopholes that allow for rampant abuse of the no-fault just causes for eviction. The measure also calls for limiting allowable rent increases to a more reasonable cap while also providing mechanisms for accountability and enforcement.
“The rising homelessness crisis has become one of the most urgent and humanitarian issues facing our state and communities; that’s why I’ve introduced the Homelessness Prevention Act of 2023,” Durazo said in a tweet.
The rising homelessness crisis has become one of the most urgent and humanitarian issues facing our state and communities that’s why I’ve introduced the Homelessness Prevention Act of 2023. https://t.co/hu3X8TiCuB— María Elena Durazo (@MariaEDurazo) March 11, 2023
In a fact sheet provided by the Senator’s office citing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the state’s unhoused population has risen by 31% since 2010, which includes a 57% increase in people becoming unsheltered and living in the streets.
In a most recent count of the state’s unhoused, there are more than 170,000 unsheltered Californians, accounting for half of the U.S. unsheltered population. This does not include families living in substandard motel rooms or sleeping on floors and couches.
About 30% of the nation’s homeless population resides in California, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, an independent research group. That means about 170,000 homeless people are in the Golden State.
Los Angeles has a homeless population of 69,144, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
As the measure is introduced, the dual laws which protected renters who were financially impacted due to the pandemic from evictions, the California COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act and the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act, are set to expire at the end of this month on March 31.
In 2020, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found a $100 median rent increase led to a 9% increase in homelessness. Further, loopholes in existing law have led to widespread abuses that leave people vulnerable to displacement or eviction, even when tenants are in compliance with the terms of their lease.
These evictions and rent hikes are directly contributing to homelessness. As inflation soars and both state and local eviction protections enacted during the pandemic come to an end, gaps in standing tenant protections are impacting more renters facing significant rent increases and “no-fault” evictions.
In a press release, Durazo’s office noted that government responses have primarily focused on rehousing people, yet this has not led to a decrease in homelessness numbers due to the influx of newly homeless.
“While these efforts are needed, they should be complemented by efforts to prevent people from becoming homeless. While existing law provides for basic protections from rent-gouging and unjust evictions, loopholes in the law allow too many tenants to remain unprotected from eviction,” the statement continued.
Kal Penn & President Biden discuss same-sex marriage, trans kids
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s same-sex or a heterosexual couple, you should be able to be married.” Biden on same-sex marriage
WASHINGTON – In a segment slated to broadcast Monday on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, noted Out Indian American actor, comedian and former Obama White House adviser Kal Penn sits down with President Joe Biden at the White House discussing same-sex marriage, and how the government can protect the transgender community.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s same-sex or a heterosexual couple, you should be able to be married.” Biden tells Penn
White House condemns Pence’s homophobic comments
Associated Press Chief White House Correspondent Zeke Miller reported Pence’s “jokes” were not well received
WASHINGTON – White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement Monday condemning the homophobic and misogynistic remarks made by former Vice President Mike Pence during the Gridiron Club dinner Saturday night.
At the event, Pence said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg — the country’s first openly gay cabinet secretary — “took maternity leave” following the birth of his and husband Chasten’s twins in 2021, adding that the country subsequently suffered postpartum depression via airline and air travel issues.
“The former vice president’s homophobic joke about Secretary Buttigieg was offensive and inappropriate, all the more so because he treated women suffering from postpartum depression as a punchline,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement she shared with the Washington Blade.
“He should apologize to women and LGBTQ people, who are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect,” Jean-Pierre said.
Pence headlined the event for Republicans, while New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy represented the Democrats and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken represented the Biden administration. By tradition, each delivered prepared remarks that were meant to be humorous.
Associated Press Chief White House Correspondent Zeke Miller reported Pence’s “jokes” were not well received by the room.
Buttigieg has suffered homophobic attacks from Republicans in the past, including by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has repeatedly made similar comments about the transportation secretary’s parental leave.
On Monday afternoon, Chasten Buttigieg shared a photo on Instagram of Pete seated next to a crib equipped with monitors and medical equipment that was captioned: “An honest question for you,@mikepence, after your attempted joke this weekend. If your grandchild was born prematurely and placed on a ventilator at two months old – their tiny fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background – where would you be?”
Shortly after they were adopted in 2021, the Buttigieg twins were hospitalized with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The couple’s infant son Joseph “Gus” August had to be intubated for a ventilator and transferred to a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids for treatment.
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