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Pope’s statement on gay priests draws mixed reaction

Some say Francis is backing away from ‘Who am I to judge?’



Pope Francis, earthquakes, gay news, Washington Blade

‘The Church recommends that people with this rooted tendency are not accepted in the ministry,’ Pope Francis told the author of a new book. (Photo by Jeffrey Bruno via Wikimedia Commons)

LGBT Catholic leaders say they are troubled over news that surfaced earlier this month that Pope Francis stated in a recently published book that gay men serving as priests “worries me” and that homosexuality has become “fashionable” in some societies.

Reports of Francis’ latest comments on homosexuality and gay priests first surfaced in the Italian press on Dec. 1 when a Rome newspaper quoted from an advance copy of a book consisting of a four-hour interview the Pope had with Spanish priest and author Fernando Prado.

The book, “The Strength of Vocation,” which discusses the challenges faced by priests and nuns, has since been published in several languages.

The Pope’s candid remarks in the book on homosexuality and gay priests has created a stir among some LGBT Catholic activists who had been hopeful that Pope Francis’ earlier comments and positions about gays indicated he might move to change the Catholic Church’s longstanding hostile teachings on the subject.

When asked by Prado about people with “homosexual tendencies” who are in the priesthood and religious life, Francis stated, “It’s something that worries me because perhaps at some point it has not been dealt with well.”

Added Francis, “That of homosexuality is a very serious matter that must be discerned adequately from the beginning with the candidates, if this is the case.” He was referring to men who are candidates for the priesthood.

“We must be demanding,” he continued. “In our societies it even seems that homosexuality is fashionable and this mentality, in some way, also affects the life of the Church.”

In a comment that Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of the LGBT Catholic organization Dignity USA, found most troubling, Francis told his interviewer about a clergy member who confided in him that he discovered there were many young men studying to become priests who were gay.

The pope said the clergymen told him this was “not so serious,” and that it was “only an expression of affection,” a view that Francis called “a mistake.”

“It is not just an expression of affection,” Francis continued. “In the consecrated life and in the priestly life there is not a place for this kind of affection. For this reason, the Church recommends that people with this rooted tendency are not accepted in the ministry or in the consecrated life,” Francis said.

“Priests, religious men and women should be urged to live in celibacy in full and, above all, to be perfectly responsible, trying not to create scandal in their communities or in the holy faithful people of God by living a double life.”

In a statement posted on Dignity USA’s website, Duddy-Burke said the Pope’s comments suggest that he is in need of education about the LGBT community.

“It is very damaging and unsupported by the facts for the Pope to suggest that gay people are less able than others to commit themselves to religious and ministerial life or they are somehow a threat to the church and its members,” she said.

“His comments reinforce negative and long discredited stereotypes that have led to discrimination and violence against our community,” Duddy-Burke said. “Furthermore, they are demeaning to all the lesbian sisters and gay priests and brothers who have faithfully served the church for decades, and to all who are currently preparing for such ministries.”

Concerning Francis’ comment that homosexuality is seen by some as fashionable, she said the Pope “seems to be mistaking genuine but limited progress in achieving basic civil and human rights for LGBTQI people in some countries as a frivolous fad or trend.”

Added Duddy-Burke: “Nothing could be further from the truth. LGBTQI identities are not a matter of fashion but of fundamental human qualities that are intrinsic to the sense of self.”

“Rather than belittle such progress, the Pope should examine how the Catholic Church has contributed to the unjust oppression of LGBTQI people for centuries, and how its unsung LGBTQI clergy and vowed religious men and women have contributed immeasurably to the good it has done,” she said.

The Mount Rainier, Md., based LGBT Catholic group New Ways Ministry took a more measured position in two articles posted on its website, which were written by its associate editor Robert Shine. Shine quoted from a number of Catholic commentators, including LGBT supportive priest James Martin SJ.

Martin said some media reports were concluding incorrectly that Francis’ comments in the newly published book suggest that he is against allowing gays to become priests. According to Martin, Francis isn’t opposed to gay men in the priesthood but only to priests who are not celibate.

“Yet the language about homosexuality being merely ‘fashionable’ (unless he means more acceptable in the public sphere) is both wrong and hurtful,” the New Ways Ministry article quotes Martin as saying.

“If he means that one is gay simply because it’s ‘fashionable,’ this goes against every reputable psychologist, and, more important, the lived experience of LGBT people,” the article quotes Martin as saying. Yet Martin added that Pope Francis recently told a gay friend in a widely reported remark, “God made you that way,” which Martin said appears to be closer to what Francis believes.

Martin, who Francis appointed in 2017 as a consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, told America Magazine Francis should work to avoid making statements without thinking them through to clarify what he really means.

“We all speak off the cuff, but I suppose when you’re the Pope those off-the-cuff remarks are more likely to cause damage,” American Magazine quoted him as saying.



The Williams Institute at UCLA study: Kentucky is pretty queer

In the study they discovered Kentucky has the second highest percentage of adults that identify as LGBTQ+ in the nation



Louisville Pride (Photo Credit: Louisville Pride Foundation)

LOS ANGELES – Researchers at The Williams Institute of The University of California, Los Angeles School of Law recently released their findings from the data contained in the 2020-2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

In the study they discovered Kentucky has the second highest percentage of adults that identify as LGBTQ+ in the nation, 10.5%, with the highest percentage reported in the District of Columbia,14.3%.

The Williams Institute, which conducts independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, found that in terms of the number of adults identifying as LGBTQ — 359,500 in Kentucky — the commonwealth ranks No. 13.

“Combining 2020-2021 BRFSS data, we estimate that 5.6% of U.S. adults identify as LGBTQ,” according to the study. “Further, we estimate that there are almost 14.1 million (14,090,400) LGBTQ adults in the U.S.”

The study identified estimates of percentages and numbers of adults who identify as LGBTQ by age group in the country.

  • 18 to 24-year-olds: 15.4% (4,707,800)
  • 25 to 34-year-olds: 9.2% (4,130,900)
  • 35 to 49-year-olds: 4.2% (2,567,400)
  • 50 to 64-year-olds: 2.8% (1,752,800)
  • 65 years and older: 1.8% (931,400)

The study also divided the country by region and gave an estimate of percentages and numbers of adults in the group of states in each one — Kentucky is in the South region.

  • Northeast: 18.3% (2,574,900)
  • Midwest: 20.6% (2,902,700)
  • South: 36.9% (5,203,200)
  • West: 24.2% (3,406,600)
United States5.60%14,090,400
District of Columbia14.3%81,400
New Hampshire7.2%78,400
New Jersey5.3%367,300
New Mexico5.5%87,600
New York5.5%853,600
North Carolina4.4%353,100
North Dakota4.9%28,400
Rhode Island6.5%54,800
South Carolina4.9%192,800
South Dakota5.3%34,500
West Virginia4.1%60,000
Adult LGBT Population in the United States

The top 10 states plus the District of Columbia by percent of LGBTQ adults

6New Hampshire7.2%
10Rhode Island6.5%
Adult LGBT Population in the United States

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Anti-LGBTQ provisions removed from NDAA

MAGA members of Congress tried to hijack the National Defense Authorization Act to advance their anti-LGBTQ+ agenda



U.S. Defense Department Photo/Los Angeles Blade graphic

WASHINGTON – Anti-LGBTQ provisions submitted by House Republicans to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have been removed from the defense spending bill, triggering outrage from conservative lawmakers and praise from LGBTQ groups.

The conference version of the bill was released on Thursday.

This week saw the revocation of two measures targeting gender affirming care along with the book ban and drag ban. Language stipulating the list of approved flags that can be flown at military bases was amended such that more flags can be added on a discretionary basis.

“MAGA members of Congress tried to hijack the National Defense Authorization Act to advance their anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, attempting to riddle it with discriminatory riders,” Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary Brandon Wolf said in a statement to the Washington Blade.

His statement continued, “They failed and equality won. Anti-LGBTQ+ provisions, including efforts to restrict access to gender affirming care, were rejected. The anti-LGBTQ+ agenda continues to be deeply unpopular across the country and a failing political strategy.”

Wolf thanked U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) for “defending equality and defeating attacks on the community.”

Pledging to vote “no” on the bill, Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) said in a post on X, “I was appointed to the NDAA conference committee but NEVER got to work on the final version of the NDAA bc they made the deal behind closed doors and here are the horrible results.”

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California Politics

New Poll: Adam Schiff has a five-point lead in U.S. Senate race

The survey was conducted last month and involved 1,100 likely voters- While still relatively slim, it is Schiff’s largest lead to date



Rep. Adam Schiff speaking at a private campaign event in Santa Barbara, California in August, 2023. ( Photo Credit: Adam Schiff for Senate/Louise Palanker Facebook)

SAN FRANCISCO – A new Public Policy Institute of California poll shows that U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has a five-point lead in the race for the U.S. Senate seat that had been held by the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The seat is currently occupied by Newsom-appointee, Democrat Laphonza Butler, the first Black lesbian to serve in the Senate. Butler, announced in October that she would not run for a full Senate term in 2024.

California’s 2024 senate race already has a crowded field that includes Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee of Oakland, Katie Porter of Irvine and former Dodgers Major League Baseball star Steve Garvey, a Republican, also running.

The survey was conducted last month from Nov. 9 to 16 and involved 1,100 likely voters and has a 3.2% margin of error.

PPIC found that 21% of those surveyed would support Schiff in the primary race while 16% would vote for Porter. Republican Garvey had 10% support, while Lee polled at 8%. 

As with other prior California Senate surveys, PPIC found a large percentage of voters are still undecided. While still relatively slim, it is Schiff’s largest lead to date.

KTLA 5 News noted that a November Inside California Politics/Emerson College poll showed several other candidates, James P. Bradley, Lexi Reese, Eric Early, Christina Pascucci, Jonathan Reiss and Sarah Liew with support in the low single digits. That same poll found Schiff with a three-point lead over Porter, while a June survey showed Schiff and Porter in a virtual tie.

The results of a Public Policy Institute of California on the 2024 U.S. Senate Race. (PPIC)
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Trans people seek government job consideration in India’s Maharashtra state

Court petition filed on Nov. 29



(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ancient texts in India have recorded the history and cultural importance of Transgender people, but the community is still marginalized and vulnerable in the country. Although the government offers many vulnerable castes a specific number of slots for education and government jobs, Trans people still have no such benefit and continue to face discrimination across the nation. 

Three Trans people from Maharashtra state on Nov. 29 filed an application to the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal seeking slots for Trans people in government jobs and a “third gender” option in online job applications. Two applicants had applied for police officer posts, while the other had applied for a revenue officer post — both of which are government jobs in India.

While hearing the application, the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal, a court that has all the powers of the High Court, said it cannot direct the state government to give slots for Trans people in public employment and education. The Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal did say, however, that the state government should take more steps towards inclusivity for the community in mainstream society.

Maharashtra’s government told the tribunal it would not be possible to provide slots to Trans people in government jobs or education. 

The Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal in a 26-page order directed the state government to give applicants the necessary points to qualify for the job if the applicant has secured 50 percent of the total marks for the concerned post. The tribunal also directed the government to provide age relaxation to Trans applicants if they earned 45 points.

In India, every government job seeker goes through an examination to qualify for the job. Government job examinations are one of the toughest in India because there are millions of applications for a few positions, resulting in the need to secure higher marks to get a position.

More than one million applicants applied for 18,331 police officer positions in 2022. The government, however, provides slots to backward class applicants and gives points relaxation in examinations. Trans people in India are most marginalized and vulnerable with no slots in education or employment.

Retired Justice Mridula Bhatkar, who chairs the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal and member Medha Gadgil in the ruling said the fact that not a single Trans person who has come out received a job in the government sector speaks volumes.

“The Transgender people are humans and are citizens of our great country who are waiting for their inclusion in the mainstream,” said the tribunal. “We have historical, mythological and cultural instances of eunuchs and their participation in political, social or cultural fields.”

The tribunal also said trans people are in the minority. 

Although the majority forms the government, the majority cannot suppress the rights of marginalized sections of society. The tribunal further added the situation in which the Trans community finds itself is worse than what women faced in the past while demanding equality.

The tribunal highlighted the mere acknowledgment of the separate identity of Trans people was not enough, but they also need to be given opportunities in government jobs.

“The State of Maharashtra has been very progressive in its thought and culture,” said the tribunal. “Therefore, it is desirable on the part of the government to take necessary measures to enable these Transgender applicants to get jobs in the government sector.”

The tribunal mentioned Indian Constitution prohibits any kind of discrimination based on sex under articles 15 and 16.

“To get into public employment is a handicapped race for Transgenders,” said the tribunal. “Though they are not physically disabled and are able-bodied persons, their activities, actions, growth are paralyzed due to the negative approach of society, family in all schools, colleges in all places at all levels.”

While representing the petitioners, Kranti LC, a lawyer, said that the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Bihar have provided reservations to Trans people. The tribunal, however, noted it understands the state has reached the limit of vertical slot of 62 percent, but ordered the law can reach equality and harmony through social engineering.

“The courts are for justice and cannot ignore any societal problem when placed before it,” said the tribunal. “Under such circumstances, though courts are not the lawmakers while interpreting the law, a legally permissible solution is to be applied to meet the ends of justice.”

According to the Indian Supreme Court’s 1992 Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India ruling, nine judges upheld the 50 percent ceiling on slots and denied slots in promotion in government jobs. This means no government agencies or institutions can give slots more than 50 percent of total job openings. Maharashtra state already crossed the limit.

“It is very unfortunate, because Transgender people are one of the most vulnerable people in India, and of the most marginalized population in our country,” said Kalki Subramaniam, a Trans rights activist and founder of Sahodari Foundation, an organization that works for Trans Indians. “For the horizontal reservation, we need to get the support of our government. We need to sensitize our members of Parliament. I think, all political parties do support (the) Transgender community, and do understand the plight of the community and difficulties we face.”

Kalki told the Washington Blade the community needs to work hard. She said the community needs to start campaigning for horizontal slots. She said the community needs to MPs to get the necessary support for it.

While talking to the Blade, Rani Patel, an activist and founder of Aarohan, a nonprofit organization that works with Trans Indians, said that it is right that the Trans community needs to have reservations in jobs and education so that they can be mainstreamed in the society.

“I have been working with the Transgender community for last 11 years in Delhi. We had worked very hard for the scraping of section 377,” said Patel. “All the equality and rights given by the Supreme Court of India is of no use until and unless they are not provided with reservation, because there is a stigma in the society against the Transgender people, the community feel rejected and detached from the society.”

Patel told the Blade that only a few Trans children are getting an education in the country. She said most of the Trans people in India need to be skilled in whichever field for which they have an interest. Patel further said that while getting skills, the government should provide slots to Trans people, otherwise giving skills will be of no use.

Patel and Aarohan were instrumental in drafting the Delhi government’s trans bill.

Ankush Kumar is a reporter who has covered many stories for Washington and Los Angeles Blades from Iran, India and Singapore. He recently reported for the Daily Beast. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is on Twitter at @mohitkopinion.

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New bill to protect LGBTQ businesses from lending discrimination

The legislation “would also add a definition for businesses owned by LGBTQ+, and intersex individuals to the ECOA statute”



U.S. Capitol Dome
U.S. Capitol Dome (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – A bicameral bill introduced on Wednesday by U.S. Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), along with U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), would require financial institutions to collect data on access to credit and capital by LGBTQ+ owned businesses.

The legislation would thereby allow regulators to better identify and potentially remedy instances of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in these areas.

CNBC reported in June that a study by the Movement Advancement Project found LGBTQ+-owned businesses encountered more rejections than non-LGBTQ+-owned businesses that applied for funding, amid a tightening of lending standards across the board.

Specifically, the bill would “clarify that Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) requires financial institutions to collect the self-identified sexual orientation and gender identity of the principal owners of small businesses, in addition to their sex, race, and ethnicity,” according to a press release by Padilla’s office.

The California senator said “With anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and hate crimes on the rise, LGBTQ+ business owners continue to face persistent and unjust barriers to financial success,” adding that “LGBTQ+-owned small businesses are a cornerstone of local economies, and they deserve equitable resources to help them grow and thrive.”

Padilla’s press release notes the legislation “would also add a definition for businesses owned by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex individuals to the ECOA statute.”

Additionally, “The legislation also includes a Sense of Congress confirming that sexual orientation and gender identity are already covered under the ECOA (including the current data collection requirements)” while clarifying “that the sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity of the principal owners of a business should be collected as three separate forms of information.”

The Congressional Equality Caucus, Ali Forney Center, Center for American Progress, Destination Tomorrow, Drag Out The Vote, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality Action Fund, InterAct, and New Pride Agenda have backed the bill.

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California Politics

Nonprofit leader aims to be 1st Out Santa Cruz County Supervisor

“I think it would send a really strong message to our county and region for a first openly LGBTQ supervisor in Santa Cruz County”



Monica Martinez is running for the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. (Photo Credit: Courtesy the candidate)

By Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor | FELTON, Calif. – Despite its reputation as a coastal liberal bastion, Santa Cruz County has yet to see an LGBTQ leader elected to its Board of Supervisors. Recent elections have seen the out candidate running for a seat on the countywide governing body come up short.

Nonprofit executive and queer mom Monica Martinez is aiming to break through that pink political glass ceiling with her bid for the board’s open District 5 seat. With another local leader opting against entering the race and instead endorsing Martinez, she is aiming to win the seat outright on the 2024 primary ballot.

“I don’t want to take anything for granted,” Martinez, 41, told the Bay Area Reporter about the campaign. “Certainly, my goal is to win in March and avoid a runoff in November.”

If she does win the race for a four-year term, Martinez will be the first woman elected to the District 5 seat; she told the B.A.R. a woman was appointed to it in 1979 and served two years. She would also be the first woman to serve on the county board since 2012 and the first elected since 2008.

“I am ready to work as hard as I can all the way through the election because diverse candidates like myself, we don’t have the privilege of walking into these seats,” said Martinez. “I am ready to work hard to understand the needs of our district so I can represent it well as a supervisor.”

Last June Supervisor Bruce McPherson announced he would retire at the end of his third term rather than run for reelection next year. It opened the door for Martinez, CEO of the county’s largest health and human services nonprofit, Encompass Community Services, to seek the seat that covers the northern section of the city of Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley.

The fifth supervisorial district also includes the San Lorenzo Valley and its communities of Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek, and Felton, where Martinez resides. Most of it is unincorporated, with the county board providing services and governance.

“We haven’t had a representative who has lived in San Lorenzo Valley since 2002, even though we make up 60% of voters,” said Martinez. “Because we are unincorporated, we don’t get another elected voice.”

Two other candidates in the race, Christopher Bradford and Theresa Bond, have been focused on water issues in the district, while Tom Decker, who works for a company that builds accessory dwelling units, pulled papers last month to run. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart ruled out also vying for the seat and endorsed Martinez in late October.

Last month, statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization Equality California endorsed Martinez along with several other out supervisor candidates on March ballots across the state, as the B.A.R. previously reported. She told the B.A.R. it is time for Santa Cruz County’s board to have LGBTQ representation.

“I think Santa Cruz does have a reputation of being very progressive. However, this has been a glass ceiling that hasn’t been broken yet,” said Martinez. “I think it is an important voice that has been missing from the county board.”

Becoming the first out supervisor from the board’s most conservative leaning district would also be significant, she noted. Particularly at a time when attacks against LGBTQ rights have broken out across the Golden State, added Martinez.

“I think it would send a really strong message to our county and region if the first openly LGBTQ supervisor in Santa Cruz County came from the fifth district,” she said. “I think it would be a really significant change and signal support for the values of inclusion and acceptance in our entire county, including in this district.”

First-time candidate

A first-time candidate for public office, her candidacy is already an example of how far the LGBTQ community has come in her lifetime, said Martinez. She never imagined in her childhood that she would seek to be elected one day.

“Originally being from Bakersfield, I just never thought as an out LGBTQ woman who is Latinx that I would be electable,” she said. “I have dedicated my life to public service and have been serving those in need in our community for my entire career. Over the last decade a lot has changed in what is valued in elected representation. My lived experience could be an asset; I could really help advance policy in our community.”

Born and raised in Bakersfield at the southernmost end of California’s Central Valley, Martinez grew up in a union household. Her father is a retired Kern County fire captain, while her mother is a retired public elementary school teacher.

Looking for a more welcoming environment post high school, Martinez enrolled at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo along the state’s Central Coast. As she worked toward earning her B.A. in political science, Martinez landed a summer job after her freshman year with the YMCA of San Francisco at its Camp Jones Gulch in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Nineteen and not wanting to return to her hometown during her break between semesters, Martinez told the B.A.R. the camp was “a beacon” for her where she met like-minded, accepting people in the other employees.

“I met the first lesbians I’d ever met there. They took me to my first Pride in San Francisco. This was in 2001,” she recalled. “I continued to work there for another five years during the summers.”

She also noted that she hasn’t missed Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the free annual music festival held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, in 15 years. (It was held virtually during the first two years of the COVID pandemic.)

“I love it. I love music,” said Martinez, who had just visited the city’s LGBTQ Castro district for the first time since the start of the health crisis in 2020 when she spoke with the B.A.R. by phone in mid-November.

After Martinez earned a master’s in public administration at the University of Southern California, she worked to provide services to homeless women living on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. In 2010, the nonprofit Housing Matters of Santa Cruz County hired her as its executive director.

She co-founded the 180/180 Initiative, a community partnership aimed at helping to house homeless individuals in the county. By 2014, Martinez had taken over the leadership of Encompass Community Services.

Martinez is a co-parent with her two children’s other mom, from whom she is separated. Because the couple adopted them out of the foster care system, Martinez is keeping their identities private, though she did tell the B.A.R. they are elementary school students ages 8 and 9 who are not biological siblings.

(Photo Credit: Courtesy the candidate)

She and her family had to evacuate their home during the CZU Lightning Complex Fire that tore through the Santa Cruz Mountains in August 2020. They were able to return after being displaced for a month.

“We were fortunate to have a home to come home to,” said Martinez.

That experience, and navigating the COVID pandemic as a parent working from home, provided her a unique perspective that she now wants to bring to the county board. In addition to knowing the inner workings of the county government due to her nonprofit work, Martinez has also chaired the Santa Cruz County Parks and Recreation Commission and serves on the executive committee of the Santa Cruz County Health Improvement Partnership.

“Given my experience navigating public services and county funding, I feel like I have a lot to offer,” she said. “I won’t be green in the job because I have been navigating these systems professionally my whole career. I feel really ready and that this is a natural next step for my career.”

Should she be able to secure the supervisor seat in the March 5 primary, it would allow Martinez to help usher in a new executive director at her agency before she is sworn into the supervisor seat next December ahead of the board’s first meeting in January 2025.

“The real reason I want to win in March is I run a large human services organization. If I have time to transition out of the role and support the organization in hiring and training a person during that time period, it will be good for the organization and the services we deliver in our county,” said Martinez. “I’d much rather have time to do that from March to January rather than have to campaign.”

To learn more about her candidacy, visit her website at

EQCA endorses out Santa Cruz council candidate

Another candidate looking to make political history in Santa Cruz County next year also picked up the support recently of EQCA. Joe Thompson is aiming to become the first nonbinary individual elected to the Santa Cruz City Council.

A former union organizer at Starbucks, Thompson came up short last year in their bid for a state Assembly seat. Thompson is now running for the District 5 council seat in Santa Cruz, as is former assistant city manager Susie O’Hara.

It includes the Pogonip open space area and the majority of the UC Santa Cruz campus, plus the city’s Upper West Side and Harvey West Park areas. (The coastal enclave is transitioning to having six district-based council seats plus an elected mayor, which began with the 2022 elections for two of the seats and a new mayor.)

Like the county’s supervisor races, the council race will be on the 2024 primary ballot. With just two candidates in the race, it is likely one of them will receive more than 50% of the vote come March 5 to win it outright and avoid a runoff race on the November ballot next year.

According to a map of LGBTQ elected officials maintained by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, there are no out members currently on the City Council in Santa Cruz. Former lesbian councilmember Donna Meyers left in 2022 after serving one four-year term, which included her becoming the city’s first lesbian mayor when she held the former ceremonial role in 2021.


The preceding article was previously published by the Bay Area Reporter and is republished with permission.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.

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Ohio hospitals testify against a trans care ban

In a hearing, the presidents of some of the top pediatric hospitals in the United States testified against trans care bans




By Erin Reed | COLUMBUS, Ohio – Yesterday, Ohio held a hearing for House Bill 68, a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for trans youth and force those already on care to medically detransition.

The hearing was primarily for opponents of the bill—a prior proponent hearing had already happened a week earlier. Testimony stretched on for nearly eight hours, with those submitting testimony against the bill outnumbering supporters 7:1. Testimony came from a wide variety of professionals and those with lived experience, including transgender kids, their doctors, parents, educators, social workers, and more.

Perhaps the strongest testimony of the afternoon, though, came when presidents and leaders representing some of the top hospitals in the United States stepped forward and unequivocally condemned the bill, stating that it would have drastic negative health consequences for trans youth in their care.

At the beginning of the hearing, three leaders in US medical care testified together: Nick Lashutka, President of the Ohio Children’s Hospitals Association serving over 2,600,000 children in the region; Dr. Steve Davis, President of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the US News #1 ranked children’s hospital in the United States; and Dr. Shefali Mahesh, who represented Akron Children’s Hospital.

All of them delivered extremely strong testimony, dispelling myths about trans care. They testified that bans on care would harm an already extremely vulnerable population and that gender-affirming care was the best option for the few trans youth who do ultimately get cleared for medical transition.

Perhaps the strongest moment of the night was when Dr. Davis looked at the committee and pleaded, “You trust us on every other condition. Please, trust us on this one.”

Watch their incredible testimony here:

When Lashutka spoke, he testified that trans care at Ohio Children’s Hospitals is cautious and measured. He stated that in Ohio Children’s Hospitals, patients see multidisciplinary teams and often have long waiting periods before they obtain gender-affirming care.

He also noted that the percentage of youth obtaining gender-affirming care in Ohio is only 0.0003%, a tiny fraction not just of youth in Ohio, but also of trans youth in Ohio. He likewise dispelled the idea that teens are getting care without their parents’ knowing: “All treatment requires parental consent.”

Lashutka, addressing the idea that trans youth are too easily given medical treatments, stated that care is only given to patients meeting rigorous requirements: “Individuals diagnosed with this condition are insistent, consistent, and persistent for a lengthy period of time. The notion that kids declare a feeling and are immediately prescribed at one of our clinics is not true.”

Speaking next was Dr. Davis, who testified not just as the president of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, but as a pediatric critical care physician with 35 years of clinical care experience. He stated, when discussing the gender-affirming care ban and its potential profound negative mental health effects on trans youth, “the most harrowing part of my job is informing parents that their child died, especially when their death was from a preventable suicide.”

He then stated that the gender-affirming care provided by his hospital is done only after “comprehensive assessments, rigorous mental health evaluations, and screening for comorbidities.” He rebuked the idea that hormone therapy in trans youth is done without thorough evaluation, stating that the average time of the evaluation period is “10-12 months.”

Lastly, he stated that there is no financial incentive to providing this care and that they do not make money on it – a reasonable claim given that hormone therapy tends to be relatively inexpensive, and that trans youth are not provided surgery in the Ohio Children’s Hospital system. He closed, stating, “You trust us on every other condition. Please, trust us on this one.”

Dr. Mahesh testified to another aspect of the bill. She stated that increasingly, doctors are having to provide care for patients who have been purchasing hormones off the internet. She indicated that, should a bill like this pass, black and gray market medication might become more common, and that patients would be driven to taking care into their own hands rather than trusting their doctors to administer their care.

Though opposing the bill in its entirety, Lashutka recommended four amendments should the bill pass. First, those already receiving care should be grandfathered in. Second, the “aiding and abetting” clause barring mental health doctors from referrals should be stricken. Third, allowing physicians to provide all information around care, which the bill bars.

Lastly, adding an exception for trans youth who show extreme dysphoria to get care. This last exception was passed in West Virginia’s ban on care.

Though hospital administrators have testified in other hearings in the past, this particular panel of healthcare leaders is perhaps one of the strongest seen in any hearing across the United States. The hospitals they represent and the number of patients they serve could give pause even to the most ardent supporters of the bill.

They are also enormously respected voices for all pediatric care in Ohio and even nationwide – many of the legislators in Ohio likely have children who went to these hospitals, and many of the legislators themselves likely did when they were younger. Their presence, along with the massive showing in opposition to the bill, may have made an impact; while some thought the bill would receive a vote immediately after the hearing, those plans appeared to be scrapped.

The hearing adjourned without a vote, and advocates for trans youth care left knowing they had given their all.


Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here:


The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Megyn Kelly pushed extreme anti-trans positions as moderator

While voters have registered their relative lack of interest in trans policy, the former Fox News host has made it a personal priority



Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Ari Drennen | WASHINGTON – In the December 6 Republican presidential primary debate, podcast host Megyn Kelly used her role as moderator to challenge former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over his opposition to a federal ban on transition for minors — part of a pattern by the former Fox News host of attempting to further radicalize the GOP field on the already contentious issue. 

In a lengthy exchange, Kelly first asked Christie, “Aren’t you way too out of step on this issue to be the Republican nominee?” The candidate replied that his opposition to medical bans stemmed from a belief in parents’ rights. 

Kelly followed up with an accusation that Christie signed legislation in 2017 requiring schools “to accept a child’s preferred gender identity even if the minor’s parents objected” and stating “that there is no duty for schools to notify parents if their son or daughter changes their gender identity.”

From the December 6, 2023, Republican presidential primary debate, hosted by Rumble:

Christie’s answer was poorly received by right-wing media figures; Daily Wire personality Matt Walsh called him a “stupid coward” and a “disgusting degenerate.” “Disqualifying,” added Libs of TikTok founder Chaya Raichik. 

Christie did sign two pro-trans laws in 2017, including a law to protect transgender students, as Kelly accused him of doing. “As he did with the conversion therapy ban, Governor Christie took a stand for LGBT youth in New Jersey by signing this important legislation,” Garden State Equality wrote in a statement at the time. But as Christie said in the debate, the guidance mandated by the education law was not issued to schools until 2018, after Christie had left office

Kelly’s prompting was not necessary to get the candidates to wade into vile anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis started with a speech about his record on trans issues, and he went out of the way later to accuse Al Qaeda terrorists of wearing “man dresses,” showing his dedication to ensuring everyone around him is dressed the way he would like them to be at all times. Vivek Ramaswamy bizarrely accused former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley of making a launch video that “sounded like a woke Dylan Mulvaney Bud Light ad.”

Nor was the debate light on big candidate promises to constrain the rights of trans people. Haley called trans women in women’s sports “the women’s issue of our time,” suggesting that she would take on legislation to ban trans sports inclusion, while Ramaswamy promised to hold federal highway funds hostage if states do not ban medical transition for minors. 

This is not the first time that Kelly has challenged GOP candidates to take more strident positions against equality for trans people. In a September interview, the podcast host, famous for declaring that Santa “just is” white, attempted to push former President Donald Trump on the question of whether a man “can become a woman.” 

Kelly has a long history of anti-trans extremism, saying that accepting trans children causes “confusion” for other children, calling gender-affirming care “a weird form of conversion therapy,” and laughing at the appearance of a transgender inmate

In multiple recent elections, voters have listed LGBTQ issues as a low priority, and a “red tsunami” of candidates agitating against trans inclusion failed to materialize in the 2022 midterms. 


The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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Riverside County

Season’s Greetings, Riverside! (and Southern California)

Happy Holidays, Riverside!❤ We’re wishing you a joyful holiday season filled with happiness, health, and cherished times with loved ones



Photo Credit: City of Riverside


Happy Holidays, Riverside! We’re wishing you a joyful holiday season filled with happiness, health, and cherished times with loved ones. Looking ahead to the new year, we are eager to serve you, support you, and to continue to make a meaningful difference in Riverside.


Join us at the Historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa’s Festival of Lights and enjoy millions of holiday lights and holiday-themed décor, all in the heart of Downtown! 

Swing by the North Pole on Main St. to meet Santa and grab your ice skates for the return of our beloved ice-skating rink located near The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the holiday lights and grab treats from a variety of food vendors opened daily from 5 PM – 10 PM.


Help your neighbors in need this holiday season by donating to your local Little Free Pantry. The program provides Riverside families with non-perishable food and personal item donations at one of the many local pantries in a neighborhood near you.  

You can help expand access to food and create a positive impact within our community. Make an even bigger impact by becoming a pantry steward and host today! 



Celebrating a milestone in financial transparency, the City of Riverside has been honored with the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA). The prestigious award is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting.  

Accompanied by the Award of Financial Reporting Achievement (AFRA), this achievement highlights our City’s commitment to transparency, high standards, and effectively communicates Riverside’s financial journey.  


Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) has secured 125 megawatts of wind-generated energy from a new facility being built in New Mexico. This groundbreaking deal will allow RPU to reach the 2030 statewide clean energy mandate with more than three years to spare. The power purchase and sale agreement will boost RPU’s renewable energy resources from 45.4% to nearly 70% when the project comes online in March 2026. The agreement reinforces the City’s dedication to clean energy and helps RPU continue to meet and exceed statewide mandates for clean energy. 


Dreaming of new appliances this season? The holidays are ideal for smart home upgrades. That dishwasher or TV on your wish list may qualify for rebates. Take advantage of Riverside Public Utilities Energy Star rebates to reduce your energy bills and enjoy energy-efficient products. Holiday savings are just a click away! 


Mark your calendars for an insightful evening with Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson and The Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce for The State of the City Address. The address will highlight this past year’s achievements and share the vision for what 2024 holds. Mayor Lock Dawson will also present the honoree of the Innovation Award, which is given to a group or individual who epitomizes the spirit that helps make Riverside the City of Arts and Innovation. Join us in-person or via live stream on RiversideTV and social media.  

Please note, the City of Riverside upcoming holidays and special hours of operation.
As a friendly reminder, trash services will be delayed after City observed holiday. Holiday Schedule.

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Endocrine Society corrects mis-info about gender affirming care

The Endocrine Society, the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the clinical practice of endocrinology



Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) (Screen capture/Boston Globe-Fox News)

WASHINGTON – The Endocrine Society, the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the clinical practice of endocrinology, released a statement correcting misinformation about gender affirming healthcare that was spread at the fourth Republican presidential primary debate on Wednesday night.

The group said comments in which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) characterized care for transgender and gender-diverse youth as child abuse and genital mutilation “do not reflect the health care landscape” and contradict “mainstream medical practice and scientific evidence.”

“Pediatric gender-affirming care is designed to take a conservative approach,” the Endocrine Society wrote. “When young children experience feelings that their gender identity does not match the sex recorded at birth, the first course of action is to support the child in exploring their gender identity and to provide mental health support, as needed.”

The statement continues, “Medical intervention is reserved for older adolescents and adults, with treatment plans tailored to the individual and designed to maximize the time teenagers and their families have to make decisions about their transitions.”

Notwithstanding the remarks by DeSantis, other debate participants, and moderator Megyn Kelly, “gender-affirming genital surgery is rarely offered to anyone under the age of 18,” the statement says.

Additionally, “More than 2,000 scientific studies have examined aspects of gender-affirming care since 1975, including more than 260 studies cited in the Endocrine Society’s Clinical Practice Guideline.”

Other major scientific and medical groups like the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics are “in alignment” with the Endocrine Society on “the importance of gender affirming care,” the statement notes.

Further, research shows it “can be life saving for a population with high suicide rates.”

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