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Gov-elect Gavin Newsom hires out Daniel Zingale for top administration spot

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California’s fortification against the Trump administration just got a little more gay. Gov-elect Gavin Newsomwhose first official digital campaign ad was about marriage equality just announced the hiring of longtime gay strategist Daniel Zingale as a Senior Adviser on Strategy and Communications. He is the third gay person Newsom’s hired out of six announced staffers so far. The other three hires are straight women. The new administration will be sworn into office on Jan. 7th, 2019.

“It’s time for California’s State Capitol to engage more of California’s diverse voices and talents, beginning with this transition,” Newsom said in a press release. “This isn’t going to be the usual top-down, closed-door, paint-by-numbers process.  Our state government impacts millions of California lives every day and we are committed to offering unique ways to enable more Californians to help shape the future.”

To facilitate that aspiration, Newsom launched an innovative new website called “All In California,” to engage Californians in the transition, “including: 1) ranking policy priorities, 2) recommending specific policy solutions, 3) signing up for regular updates from Governor-elect Newsom, 4) getting involved in community service efforts, and 5) applying for official jobs in the Newsom Administration,” per the press release.

Zingale’s hire is significant to the LGBT community for a number of reasons. He has institutional knowledge about the progress and obstacles the LGBT community has faced over a number of years. In the early 1990s, he was the public policy director for the Human Rights Campaign Fund under executive director Tim McFeeley, in 1994 organizing the first pledge presented to members of Congress that they would consider sexual orientation in hiring and firing and would not discriminate against lesbian and gay employees. While 225 members agreed to pledge, 210 of the 435 members declined. Such pressure resulted two years later in the US Senate passing an initial version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

That institutional knowledge extends to healthcare. In Oc. 1996, Zingale was named executive director of AIDS Action, and, as a board member of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, he brought an understanding of the need to address underserved communities. He subsequently came to California where he was the founding Director of the California Department of Managed Health Care and served as Cabinet Secretary for Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, at a time when lesbian Susan Kennedy served as Chief of Staff and longtime gay politico Eric Bauman was senior advisor.

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger kept Kennedy on as Chief of Staff and Zingale became a Senior Adviser and Chief of Staff to journalist and California First Lady Maria Shriver. In 2009, Zingale joined The California Endowment, the state’s largest private health foundation, as Senior Vice President.

“Hiring Daniel Zingale is the smartest move Governor-elect Newsom could have made,” said Gov. Schwarzenegger in a statement to the transition team.

Bob Ross, current CEO of CA endowment said: “During his exceptional tenure with our foundation, Daniel helped us place the voices of grassroots, marginalized, and young community leaders at the center of our policy work. I am confident that he will help Governor Newsom ground his policy leadership in the wisdom of communities. An inspired choice by our Governor-elect.”

On Nov. 20, CalMatters posted a very open letter from Zinagle to Newsom with “some disruptive ideas for keeping the spirit of California up–ideas you may not hear from those around you responsible for putting out the day-to-day fires.” They include:

  • Induct Colin Kaepernick into the California Hall of Fame. His induction would provoke deeper thinking about patriotism.

  • Erect a Statue of Liberty West, one that welcomes immigrants from east and south.

  • As you’re filling vacancies at CalTrans, consider applicants who are trans, and for other top jobs too.

  • Finish the job of Obamacare by making Medi-Cal available to all eligible Californians, regardless of how Washington D.C. views their immigration status.

And, Zingale suggests humor:

  • Next Halloween, turn the Governor’s Mansion into a haunted house. Enlist those guys from Queer Eye to help….

  • Use line-item poop emojis, but sparingly to preserve the dignity of the office.

  • At your inaugural gala, dance a Greek syrto with your Lieutenant Governor, Eleni Kounalakis And dance with Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara too. Now that would embody California values.

The other gay folks already named to the administration are:

Nathan Click, now on the transition team, who helped the Los Angeles Blade secure the long interview with candidate Newsom. Click will be Chief Spokesperson and Director of Public Affairs. According to a press release: “Click has served as a top political and communications advisor to national and California political officeholders, campaigns and initiatives for more than a decade. Before joining Newsom’s campaign, Click served as Communications Director for the U.S. Sen. campaign of Kamala Harris, the office of U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono and CARE CEO Michelle Nunn.  He also served in top communications roles for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, incoming U.S. Rep. Katie Porter, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones and former U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek.”

Ana Matosantos, a lesbian, who will be the Cabinet Secretary. Per the release: “She is a highly-respected finance and policy expert who served as Director of the California Department of Finance under two Governors, including Governor Jerry Brown – and was the youngest person and first Latina to ever serve in that role.  In 2016, she was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board.  She previously served as a deputy legislative secretary in the Governor’s Office and worked in the California Health and Human Services Agency and the California State Senate.”

Also noteworthy are Newsom’s other top appointees (from press releases):

“Ann O’Leary will be the incoming Chief of Staff.  She is a nationally-recognized policy expert, non-profit leader and attorney who served as a senior policy advisor in the Clinton Administration and to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign – and led the Clinton-Kaine Presidential Transition Project.  She also advised President Obama’s transition team on early childhood education and was the founding Executive Director of the Center on Health, Economic and Family Security at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. Effective immediately, O’Leary will be helping to lead Newsom’s “All In California” gubernatorial transition.

Priscilla Cheng, who currently serves on the Transition of Governor-elect Newsom and was most recently Senior Political Advisor for the Newsom for Governor campaign, will serve as Director of External Affairs.

Cheng brings over a decade of experience in the organized labor movement, most recently as Chief of Staff for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, the second largest central labor council in the nation.  She also served on the City of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board and the Los Angeles Convention and Exhibition Center Authority.  The child of immigrants from Hong Kong, she was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated with honors from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Maricela Rodríguez, currently a Director of Strategic Communications at The California Endowment and a former staffer in the Office of California First Lady Maria Shriver, will serve as Director of Civic Engagement and Strategic Partnerships.

Rodríguez has been the Director for the Endowment’s Healthy California program since 2011, leading all strategic communications for its nationally-celebrated Asegúrate and #Health4All campaigns.  Before that, she served as Director of Program Development and Policy Liaison to the Office of First Lady Maria Shriver, where she helped create WE Connect, a national anti-poverty effort.  She was also an Executive Fellow in the California Community College’s Chancellor’s Office.  The daughter of Mexican immigrants, she is from Woodlake, California.  Rodríguez graduated from University of California, Riverside in 2003 and received a Master of Public Administration from University of Southern California in 2009.”

Photo of Daniel Zingale and Maria Shriver by Karen Ocamb. 

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Amazon bestseller book compares Trans to pretending to be a walrus

Walsh is a prominent podcast host at The Daily Wire, a right-wing media outlet cesspool of bigotry & hatred which targets the LGBTQ community

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Graphic courtesy of Media Matters for America

By Alex Paterson | WASHINGTON – The bestselling “LGBTQ+ Book” on Amazon is Johnny the Walrus — a hateful picture book by The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh that compares the gender identities of trans youth to a young boy who imagines he is a walrus. Amazon mislabeled the book into its LGBTQ+ Books section and, as a result, is promoting harmful anti-trans views to its consumers interested in LGBTQ stories.

Walsh is a prominent podcast host at The Daily Wire, a right-wing media outlet and a cesspool of bigotry and hatred which frequently targets the LGBTQ community. Walsh himself has a long record of espousing extreme anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, including falsely comparing best practice medical care for trans youth to “molestation and rape” and calling doctors who serve trans youth “pedophiles” — and now he has used Amazon’s mislabeling to claim he is an “LGBT author” and “one of the leading LGBT voices in the country.”

Johnny the Walrus is a gross misrepresentation of the experiences of trans youth 

Johnny the Walrus is an anti-trans allegory that compares a child imagining that he is a walrus to society affirming and accepting trans youth, including by providing lifesavingbest practice medical care when kids go through puberty. In reality, research shows that transgender youth are best able to succeed when their teachers and families accept and affirm their gender identity, which has been proven to reduce their risk of experiencing depressionhomelessness, and suicidal ideation

The description for the children’s board book claims that it is about “a little boy with a big imagination” named Johnny who “forced to make a decision between the little boy he is and the things he pretends to be.” The book depicts Johnny first pretending to be a walrus by using wood spoons as tusks and socks as fins, then going through the process of trying to become a walrus by eating worms, putting on gray makeup, and visiting a doctor who offers a “simple procedure” to cut his “feet into fins!”

Notably, Amazon has faced backlash for selling anti-trans books in the past. The company continues to sell the book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters by anti-trans author Abigail Shrier, even though Amazon employees filed an internal complaint in April claiming that the book violates the company’s policy against selling books “that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.” 

Johnny the Walrus’s position atop Amazon’s bestselling LGBTQ books list comes at a time when right-wing advocates and Republican officials are seeking to ban LGBTQ books in schools. These critics have targeted LGBTQ books for their so-called “sexually explicit” material, including falsely claiming that one promoted pedophilia. 

On Fox News, Walsh gloated that he is “an LGBT author” and “one of the leading LGBT voices right now according to Amazon”

During the December 7 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, Walsh promoted his book and stated that Amazon “did this on their own. They listed it as an LGBT book.” He also noted that his book is “the top-selling LGBT book. So I’m an LGBT author” and “one of the leading LGBT voices in the country right now according to Amazon, and I embrace that.” 

MATT WALSH (THE DAILY WIRE): I think people are buying the book because we need a little bit of sanity in our culture and especially in children’s books. I mean any parent, –I’m a parent myself, and we know that if you go to the children’s section at Barnes & Noble’s, you look at all the titles, and it’s like being at an antifa rally or something with all the, just the left-wing propaganda. And to have something that’s a response to that I think is resonating with people. And by the way, I should mention that Amazon, they did this on their own. They listed it as an LGBT book, and right now, currently, for the last few days I’ve had the top-selling — not just one of the top-selling books on Amazon, but one of the top-selling, or the top-selling LGBT book. So I’m an LGBT author, and I’m, you know, I think one of the leading LGBT voices in the country right now according to Amazon, and I embrace that.

LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): The children’s book publishing industry — again, most parents, they don’t give a lot of thought to it. But from the books that are assigned, and I can say this from junior high to high school, elementary school, what kids have available in their school curriculum and at reading hour at your public library, so much of it is just — it’s never going to withstand the test of time, and that’s putting it charitably

WALSH: Yeah, and a lot of it —  when we’re looking at indoctrination, a lot of it, there’s a lot of the racial indoctrination — anti-racist baby, you now, critical race theory, that kind of thing. But so much of it is gender ideology being foisted on kids at very young ages. Gender ideology is so absurd that they realize that if they want to convince people of it, they have to get to them when they’re very, very young and they’re not able to distinguish between fantasy and reality and make these kinds of common-sense judgments. And that’s why it’s so important for them to brainwash the kids early. And it’s why it’s important to protect our kids from that brainwashing. 

Numerous other right-wing media outlets have promoted Walsh’s anti-trans picture book. The Daily Wire has hyped the book and bragged about its labeling as an LGBT book in several articles and videos, including a video of Walsh reading the book to a group of children. The outlet is also selling Johnny the Walrus t-shirts. 

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Alex Paterson is a researcher for the LGBTQ program at Media Matters, where he has worked since 2019. Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Montana State University and has a background in LGBTQ advocacy, including previous work at the National LGBTQ Task Force and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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

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Palm Springs

Historic swearing in of Lisa Middleton as Palm Springs Mayor

Middleton will become the first out transgender mayor in California and just the third out transgender mayor in U.S. history

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Palm Springs City Councilmembers Lisa Middleton and Christy Holstege (Photo courtesy Equality California)

PALM SPRINGS –  City Councilwoman Lisa Middleton will be sworn-in as Palm Springs mayor on Thursday. Middleton will become the first out transgender mayor in California and just the third out transgender mayor in U.S. history. The mayor’s office in Palm Springs rotates among councilmembers who serve one-year terms.

Middleton – who became the the first out transgender person elected to a non-judicial position in California in 2017 with the support of Equality California and Victory Fund – is also running for the state senate in 2022 and is endorsed by both organizations. She will be the first out transgender state legislator in California history if she wins.

LGBTQ Victory Fund and Equality California jointly praised the news Wednesday.

“Lisa’s elevation to mayor is a milestone moment for California, but also for trans people across the nation who want to make positive change through public service,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “While hateful politicians attempt to vilify trans people for their own perceived political gain, Lisa is the model of a true public servant – one who lifts people up and focuses on issues that actually improve people’s lives. Lisa is a trailblazer who will be a fantastic mayor and we are excited for her to shatter another lavender ceiling with a state senate win in 2022.”

“Lisa Middleton has been a transformational trailblazer, and we’re proud to be by her side as she makes history again — this time as California’s first out transgender mayor,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “Just as important as the powerful representation she’s provided, Lisa has been a champion for bold solutions to the big challenges Palm Springs faces — housing affordability, access to affordable healthcare, support for our elders, the climate crisis and more. We know that Lisa will continue to be champion for the Coachella Valley and all Californians when she is elected to the California Senate next year.”

Currently there are just 42 out trans people serving in the entire country and only six are in California. There are no currently serving out trans mayors, however Stu Rasmussen previously served as mayor of Silverton, Oregon, and Jess Herbst as mayor of New Hope, Texas. Only one out trans person has ever been elected to a state senate in the U.S. – Sarah McBride of Delaware.

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Georgia

State of Georgia settles wrongful-death suit by family of Trans inmate

She is calling for a criminal investigation into the death. She believes her daughter was neglected by the guards because she was transgender

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Valdosta State Prison (Photo Credit: Georgia Department of Corrections)

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a 25-year-old Trans female inmate who committed suicide at Valdosta State Prison December 6, 2017, hanging herself in her cell. The prison system had agreed this week to pay a $2.2 million settlement to her parents.

The four defendants who were named in the lawsuit are the GDC, the warden at the time, Don Blakely, a correctional officer at the time, James Igou, and the Georgia Board of Regents.

The regents board is named because it manages Augusta University’s program called Georgia Correctional Healthcare, which provides health care for inmates, including mental health care.

“The financial settlement is barely nudging any kind of justice,” Sheba Maree, Mitchell’s mother, told CNN in an exclusive interview. “I’d rather have my child … nothing will ever, ever, ever, ever take the place of my child. To me, this is blood money, and I will not stop until the people involved with her death are held responsible.”

Maree told CNN that she is calling for a criminal investigation into the death. She believes her daughter was neglected by the guards because she was transgender.

Convicted in Union County, Georgia in 2015, court documents show Mitchell was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to robbery by intimidation.

In the lawsuit filing, Sheba Maree, her mother, stated that she had called prison staff December 2, after receiving a letter from her daughter warning that she was going to kill herself. Maree indicated in the lawsuit that she had called staff at Valdosta warning them to keep an eye on Mitchell, who suffered from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and gender identity issues.

The lawsuit also said that Mitchell had a history of hurting herself.

According to the suit filed in 2019, Mitchell had been approved for gender reassignment surgery but was being held at Valdosta State Prison, a men’s prison. Albany, Georgia’s NBC/ABC-affiliated television station WALB 10 reported that the lawsuit focuses a lot on what happened between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m. that day that Mitchell committed suicide.

From WALB 10:

Around 1:30 p.m., the suit says Mitchell asked an attendant to find corrections officer, James Igou, and a sergeant, Wallace Richardson.

Richardson is not named as a defendant in the current version of the lawsuit, but he was named as a defendant in the original version filed with the court.

The lawsuit said Igou went to Mitchell’s cell and saw a noose around her neck.

The suit accuses Igou of taunting her and encouraging her to commit suicide.

Around 1:35 p.m., they say Igou walked away, and at least one other inmate told him Mitchell was committing suicide.

They say he laughed and shouted that she should wait until he got back because he “wanted to see.”

Before he returned, the lawsuit says Mitchell hanged herself.

Meanwhile, Igou told the sergeant that Mitchell intended to commit suicide, and an inmate told the sergeant Mitchell was hanging in her cell.

Around 1:40 p.m., the lawsuit implies Igou and the sergeant took their time getting back to the cell. A minute later, they say Igou left, and the sergeant stood outside the open cell door a few feet from where Mitchell’s body was hanging. Around 1:45, the suit says Richardson closed Mitchell’s cell, locked it, and walked away.

Two minutes later, Igou, the sergeant, and another officer walked back. At some point between 1:47 and 1:54 p.m., the lawsuit says Igou and Richardson handcuffed Mitchell. Around 1:54 p.m., Mitchell’s parents say she was cut down.

Records from Lowndes County show a 911 call was made around 1:57 p.m., apparently from a staff member.

This is a transcript of that call:

Caller: “What time is it? 1357. Okay, okay.”

Dispatcher: “Lowndes County 911, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “Hey, can I get an ambulance dispatched to Valdosta State Prison?”

Dispatcher: “Okay. What’s the address there?”

Caller: “It’s 3259 Val Tech Road.”

Dispatcher: “Okay. Is this the main prison?”

Caller: “Yes. Come in by the tower. I’m not sure of the nature of the emergency, but everybody’s running. So, we need them like real fast.”

Dispatcher: “You need an ambulance?”

Caller: “Yes, but I’m not sure why.”

Dispatcher: “You don’t know any patient information?”

Caller: “No, I don’t. I just heard them call it over the radio, to call 911, like 1018.”

Dispatcher: “We’re going to have to know what’s going on at some point.”

Caller: “Unresponsive. Unresponsive. They’re doing CPR.”

Dispatcher: “Okay, well there’s a difference between CPR and somebody unresponsive. So, they’re not breathing?”

Caller: “Okay, they’re doing CPR. I’m watching them. They’re doing CPR.”

Dispatcher: “Okay, you’ve got a ‘code blue.’”

Caller: “Yeah.”

Dispatcher: “Okay. We’ll get them on the way.”

Mitchell was pronounced dead at the hospital two days later.

The Georgia Department of Corrections is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division for years of reported homicides inside prisons, prisoner-on-prisoner violence and the sexual abuse of gay, lesbian and transgender prisoners by other inmates and staffers.

Family members, concerned residents and civil rights organizations including the ACLU of Georgia have filed complaints about the situation within the state’s correctional system that has been described as inhumane condition. pointing to such issues as feces- and urine-covered cells due to sewage backups and prisoner-on-prisoner violence.

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