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Anti-LGBTI Brazilian president takes office

Jair Bolsonaro took office amid concerns over his administration

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One of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro‘s first executive orders directs the country’s new human rights ministry not to consider LGBTI-specific issues. (Photo by Agência Brasil Fotografias; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

SÃO PAULO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took office on Tuesday amid mounting concerns over the impact that his right-wing government will have on the country’s LGBTI community and other minority groups.

The crowd who attended his inauguration in Brasília, the Brazilian capital, chanted, “The captain is back!” These words startled many observers because they refer to a member of the military, in this case a former Army captain, occupying the country’s highest office, which has only happened in Brazil during dictatorships that came to power after a coup.

So why were Bolsonaro’s supporters chanting?

They bought into his campaign promises: Defend Brazilian family values and fight what he and his supporters call “socialism,” which were things championed by the Worker’s Party that former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva found. These include social inclusion, combating poverty and enacting pro-LGBTI laws.

Bolsonaro in his inauguration speech made it perfectly clear that he plans to follow through with his campaign promises.

“Let’s unite the people, value families, respect Judeo-Christian traditions, fight gender ideologies (and preserve) our values,” he said to a cheering crowd.

What is particularly frightening to his opponents, aside from the number of supporters who attended his inauguration, is the fact that people with militarist ideologies seem to be stepping forward to “defend” conservative values after backing a former Army captain as president and Gen. Hamilton Mourão as his vice president.

LGBTI people, Brazilians of African descent who practice non-Judeo-Christian religions were attacked by right-wing Bolsonaro supporters across the country during the presidential election campaign.

Bolsonaro on Wednesday issued an executive order that directed Brazil’s new human rights ministry not to consider LGBTI-specific issues. Bolsonaro’s critics also feel his inaugural speech gave license to Brazilians that they can commit any form of violence and carry weapons.

The Datafolha Institute, a private poling agency, says most Brazilians are against liberalized gun laws; with rich, straight and Bolsonaro supporters the only ones who support them. Gun registrations in Brazil have increased since his election.

The opposition even before Bolsonaro’s election raised other red flags over his decision not to allow some “liberal” journalists to attend his press conferences and public events.

Bolsonaro also never debated former São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party during the second round of the presidential election. Bolsonaro had been hospitalized after he was stabbed during a campaign event less than two months before the debate, and he said medical reasons prompted his decision not to face off against Haddad.

The attack also prompted the unprecedented deployment of more than 3,000 police officers, firefighters and members of the military at Bolsonaro’s inauguration. The security measures were similar to those that are seen during presidential inaugurations in the U.S.

Pompeo attends Bolsonaro inauguration

Bolsonaro has been described as the Brazilian version of President Trump because they share many of the same hardline beliefs.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among those who attended Bolsonaro’s inauguration. The two men met in Brasília on Wednesday.

“Secretary Pompeo congratulated President Bolsonaro on his inauguration and reaffirmed the strong U.S.-Brazil partnership; rooted in our shared commitment to democracy, education, prosperity, security and human rights,” said the U.S. State Department in a press release.  “The two leaders discussed opportunities to strengthen cooperation on bilateral and regional challenges, including combating transnational crime and reinforcing democratic governance and human rights in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.”

“They also discussed further strengthening economic ties and trade to increase prosperity for citizens in both our countries and in the entire region, including through promoting transparency and good governance for investment in the region,” added the press release.

Trump also congratulated Bolsonaro on Twitter, saying the U.S. “is with Bolsonaro.” Bolsonaro, for his part, responded by saying, “together, under God’s protection, we shall bring prosperity and progress to our people.”

Agence France-Presse last week reported Trump has already invited Bolsonaro to visit the U.S.

Michael K. Lavers contributed to this article.

The White House

Biden’s second State of the Union prioritizes bipartisanship

“To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress”

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President Joe Biden delivers his 2023 State of the Union address (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s second State of the Union address on Tuesday focused on building upon recent accomplishments, especially legislative milestones that were reached with bipartisan cooperation.

Nevertheless, the speech was met with vocal objections from Republican lawmakers over Biden’s comments about the debt ceiling and mention of some GOP members’ plans to cut social security and Medicare.

“From reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, to the Electoral Count Reform Act, to the Respect for Marriage Act that protects the right to marry the person you love,” Biden said, “To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress.”

On the subject of legislation, for the second year in a row, Biden repeated his plea for Congress to revisit the Equality Act “to ensure LGBTQ Americans, especially transgender young people, can live with safety and dignity.”

He also focused part of Tuesday’s address on public health. “Twenty years ago, under the leadership of President Bush and countless advocates and champions, we undertook a bipartisan effort through PEPFAR to transform the global fight against HIV/AIDS,” Biden said.

The successful effort should be repeated in the fight against cancer, he added.

These matters aside, Biden included little mention of LGBTQ issues, or the extremism of Republicans who are poised to run for the presidency next year. Instead, the bulk of his remarks were focused on themes like implementing the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan infrastructure law.

The country’s economic recovery was another well-trod message, on the heels of a January jobs report whose data showed record low unemployment and steady growth in new jobs and workers’ wages.

Biden did devote some time to reproductive justice. “The Vice President and I are doing everything we can to protect access to reproductive health care and safeguard patient privacy,” he said. “But already, more than a dozen states are enforcing extreme abortion bans.”

The president then vowed to veto a national abortion ban if Congress should pass one.

During last year’s State of the Union, Biden said “The onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans and their families is wrong,” adding, “As I said last year, especially to our younger transgender Americans, I will always have your back as your President, so you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential.”

One sign of solidarity with the LGBTQ community this year was the invitation of Gina and Heidi Nortonsmith, plaintiffs in the Massachusetts case that led the state to become the first to legalize same-sex marriage, to join First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s box.

And House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) brought Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson as his guest. Biden honored the former House Speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as “someone who I think will be considered the greatest Speaker in the history of this country.”

President Biden delivers 2023 State of the Union address:

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Crime & Justice

Gay man beaten, hospitalized after leaving bar in San Francisco

Anyone with information is asked to contact the SFPD at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and start the message with SFPD

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Photo Credit: San Francisco Police Department

By John Ferrannini | SAN FRANCISCO – A gay man said that he was beaten near a South of Market LGBTQ bar over the weekend, leading to his hospitalization, and a GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for his living expenses.

Barry Miles posted a picture of himself post-attack to his Instagram page Monday, February 6. Miles wrote, “Last night I got jumped when I left powerhouse by two guys. My wallet was taken? I also had a heart attack. They put in two stents. From high cholesterol. my face hit the sidewalk. also a front tooth was knocked out, and a small fracture in my neck. I’m pretty banged up.”

Barry Miles, left, before he said he was attacked by two men, and right, after he was hospitalized.
Photos: Via GoFundMe

Allison Maxie, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department, corroborated Miles’ account in a statement to the Bay Area Reporter on Tuesday.

“On February 5, 2023 at approximately 12:02 a.m., San Francisco Police Officers from Southern Station responded to the unit block of Langton Street regarding a call for a well-being check,” Maxie wrote. “Officers arrived on scene and located an adult male being treated by medics. During the initial interaction with officers, the victim was unable to provide details regarding what led up to his injuries.”

Then, “officers responded to a business on the 1300 block of Folsom Street where the male stated he had come from and during their initial investigation, officers were unable to determine that a crime had occurred at that location,” Maxie added.

“At this time, we do not have evidence that this incident was hate-motivated,” Maxie stated.

Scott Richard Peterson, the general manager of Powerhouse, stated to the B.A.R. that an officer showed up after midnight.

“A policeman came by after midnight,” Peterson stated. “The incident didn’t happen at Powerhouse, on the alley or on Folsom [Street] that we could see … Officer didn’t give me any details.

“This city is getting rough,” he added.

Maxie said that “the male was transported to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Officers provided the male with a follow up form for this open investigation.”

Gary Virginia, a longtime gay activist and friend of Miles, set up the GoFundMe for him.

The fundraiser has raised $8,000 out of a $10,000 goal as of press time. Virginia found out from the social media post that Miles had been hurt.

Since Powerhouse is between Ninth and 10th streets, and Miles lives on Sixth Street, Virginia said Miles was probably on his way home.

Virginia has been communicating with Miles via text since “I didn’t want him to feel pressure to answer the phone or talk.”

“He lives on a tight budget,” Virginia told the B.A.R. “He’d had stents put in, a neck fracture, a heart attack, and lost a front tooth. I thought ‘that’s going to be a long time of recovery for him.'”

Virginia said that he’s known Miles for about two decades.

“We’ve been friends through the Castro and leather communities,” Virginia said. “I don’t really know when he moved here.”

The two are involved in Krewe de Kinque, a Mardi Gras-themed club. Miles was King XIV of the club (there’ve been 20 kings thus far, one per year).

Virginia said Miles needs about $5,000 for a tooth implant.

Virginia said he would text Miles to ask if the latter would be interested in speaking with the B.A.R.; Miles was also messaged directly by the B.A.R. via Instagram, but has not responded as of press time.

“I feel there could be some trauma he’s not realizing from the attack,” Virginia said.

Virginia said there’s no indication he has heard yet from Miles that this was an attack motivated by anti-gay animus.

San Francisco Pride President Nguyen Pham, a gay man, condemned “this horrific attack against a member of our community.”

“While we might not know the motive for the attack, we cannot ignore the growing nationwide trend of violence against the LGBTQ+ community, from the streets to the statehouses,” Pham wrote in an email. “We remain in solidarity with Barry, as well as other victims of anti-LGBTQ+ hate, and we will hold him in our hearts toward his speedy recovery.”

Powerhouse, a leather and cruise bar, is an anchor of the LGBTQ community in the SOMA neighborhood. It’s located on Folsom Street, once dubbed the “Miracle Mile” for its string of queer establishments. Powerhouse opened under its present ownership in 1997 after a variety of bars had done business in the space.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the SFPD at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and start the message with SFPD.

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

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Los Angeles County

L.A. County passes gun control measures after Monterey Park

“We must do absolutely everything in our power to prevent and put an end to gun violence in our community,” said Supervisor Horvath

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a series of gun control measures in response to the mass shooting in the City of Monterey Park that took the lives of 11 people during the celebration of the Lunar New Year last month.

On Tuesday supervisors unanimously approved a series of motions authored by Board Chair Janice Hahn, Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath to strengthen gun regulations in Los Angeles County and support gun safety legislation. This follows the Board of Supervisors’ recent action to declare gun violence a public health crisis in Los Angeles County.

“We know that blame for the gun violence epidemic lies with the failure of Congressional leaders to pass even the most basic federal gun laws. Because they have not acted — we have found actions we can take at the county level to protect lives,” said Chair Hahn.

“I intend to do whatever is possible to protect Los Angeles County residents, particularly following the tragedy in the First District community of Monterey Park. Gun-related violence will continue to cause mass damage, trauma, and harm if we do not take the necessary steps at all levels of government. This includes supporting key gun safety legislation like Senator Feinstein’s recent action to reinstate the assault weapons and high -capacity magazine ban. Today, living in the United States of America means being at risk of becoming a victim of a mass shooting. To that end, time is of the essence,” said Supervisor Solis.

“We must do absolutely everything in our power to prevent and put an end to gun violence in our community. Today’s motions do exactly that,” said Supervisor Horvath“I’m proud to advance common sense gun safety guidelines and to join my Board colleagues in our continued demand to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

Item 2, authored by Chair Hahn, establishes ordinances to prohibit the sale of .50 caliber firearms and ammunition in the unincorporated areas of the County and prohibit the possession of firearms on County property, with certain exceptions. The motion also requests the Department of Regional Planning to prepare an ordinance to implement zoning regulations with a 1,000 feet buffer between firearm sellers and child-sensitive areas, as well as the Treasurer and Tax Collector to prepare the final amendments to the County code regarding business licenses to enhance the regulation of firearm and ammunition dealers in unincorporated areas of the County.

Item 8, authored by Supervisor Solis, directs the County’s Chief Executive Office’s Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations branch to send a five-signature letter to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, with a copy to the Los Angeles County Congressional delegation, in support of S.14 and S. 25 ─ legislation to raise the minimum age to purchase assault weapons from 18 to 21 and ban the sale, transfer, manufacture, and importation of military-style assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and other high-capacity ammunition feeding devices.

Item 15, authored by Supervisor Horvath, instructs County Counsel to draft an ordinance and report back to the Board of Supervisors on requiring all firearms in a residence be securely stored in a locked container or disabled trigger lock and draft ordinance language that would mandate liability insurance for gun owners. The motion also requests the feasibility of implementing a County gun database and asks that the Treasurer and Tax prepare an amendment to the County code requiring signs to be displayed with specific language warning customers about the risk associated with access to firearms wherever they are sold.

Item 56-A, authored by Chair Hahn, directs the County’s Chief Executive Office’s Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations branch to support SB 2 and SB 241 – state legislation that strengthens conceal-carry laws and requires federally licensed firearm dealers to complete annual training provided by the California Department of Justice.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 54 mass shootings in the United States since the start of the new year 38 days ago. This amounts to almost two mass shooting events a day. 

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Congress

Speaker McCarthy confirms Santos faces House Ethics probe

“If ethics finds something, we’ll take action,’ McCarthy said. “Right now we’re not allowing him to be on committees”

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) (L) with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) (Photo Credit: Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives/Facebook)

WASHINGTON – House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) confirmed to CNN on Tuesday that GOP Rep. George Santos (N.Y.) faces an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

“Ethics is moving through, and if ethics finds something, we’ll take action,” McCarthy said.

For his part, Santos continued to lean into the defiant attitude with which he has recently treated the many scandals that have enveloped him since his arrival to Washington.

Santos told CNN he is “not concerned” about the Ethics probe and is eager to welcome the constituents from his district, New York’s Third Congressional, who are headed to Capitol Hill today to demand his resignation.

“Right now we’re not allowing him to be on committees from the standpoint of the questions that have arisen,” McCarthy told the network, following reports last week that Santos stepped down from the House Committees on Small Business and Science, Space and Technology.

Asked whether his resignations came at the speaker’s behest, Santos told reporters at the time: “Nobody tells me to do anything.”

Also last week came reports that the FBI was exploring allegations that Santos ran a GoFundMe scam, allegedly stealing crowdsourced money that was intended for oncology treatments for a homeless veteran’s treasured service dog.

Politico reported that on Tuesday, dozens of constituents from Santos’ district called on the beleaguered New York Republican to resign — or demanded House GOP leadership call a vote to expel him.

Gathering on Capitol Hill outside of congressional offices on the day that President Joe Biden is to deliver his State of the Union address, constituents waved a number of signs including those that read “I believe in Santa more than Santos,” “Scamtos,” and “Sashay away George.” They chanted: “Force him out!” The New York Republican has given no indication he’d resign.

One of his GOP constituents said he found Santos’ lie that his mother perished during 9/11 particularly offensive. “You have to be really psychologically impaired to throw that around like it’s nickels,” Ben Marzouk, a local Republican, said.

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Montana

Montana Republicans support anti-Trans medical conscience bill

HB 303, which allows medical providers to decline services based on moral or religious beliefs, cleared a key House vote Monday

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Rep. Zooey Zephyr, D-Missoula (Photo Credit: August Payton Photography)

By Mara Silvers | HELENA – State lawmakers in the House of Representatives gave broad approval Monday to a bill that would allow medical providers, health care facilities and insurers to deny services based on “ethical, moral, or religious beliefs or principles,” signaling the bill’s likely advancement to the Senate this week. 

House Bill 303, sponsored by Rep. Amy Regier, R-Kalispell, passed the Republican-majority chamber largely along party lines, with 65 votes in favor and 35 against, after roughly 20 minutes of debate.

Regier portrayed the bill as a “preservation and protection for medical conscience” in the state for practitioners and health care institutions that object to specific “lifestyle and elective procedures” such as physician aid in dying, prescribing marijuana or opioids, abortion procedures and gender-affirming medical care for transgender people.

“To be clear, this bill would not give the right to refuse to serve a person. It would only apply to the narrow circumstances where a nurse or physician cannot conscientiously perform a specific procedure,” Regier said.

A subsection of the bill says it is not meant to conflict with the federal emergency health care access law known as EMTALA as it applies to health care institutions, such as hospitals. But the bill does not provide a holistic exemption for emergency departments and emergency health care providers. When it comes to abortion, for example, the bill would require providers to opt-in to participating in those procedures in writing beforehand.

Similar legislation has had recent success in other states. For instance, a Medical Ethics and Diversity Act was signed into law in South Carolina last spring. The legislation in that state saw support from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative religious advocacy group that is also backing the Montana proposal. 

The opposition to South Carolina’s legislation, including from transgender patients and LGBTQ advocacy groups, echoes concerns now surfacing in Montana over HB 303. Medical associations and groups, including the Montana Hospital Association, Montana Primary Care Association, Montana Nurses Association and the Montana Medical Association, testified against the bill during a January committee hearing, saying it would put patients’ care at risk. 

During Monday’s debate on the House floor, Democrats reiterated that the bill includes no discrimination protection for patients, and does not guarantee that a patient has a right to access health care even if a specific provider declines to participate in those services. 

Rep. Zooey Zephyr, D-Missoula, told fellow lawmakers the bill would mean transgender people like herself could be turned away from medical services they need.

“What is actually going to happen is it will be a denial based on diagnosis. Something like, I am diagnosed with gender dysphoria,” Zephyr said. “And the thing is, that is inherently discriminatory because you cannot pass my diagnosis from who I am. To deny me based on my diagnosis of gender dysphoria is to deny me based on my being a trans woman.”

Republican moderates appeared to try and derail the bill by proposing a strategic amendment during Monday’s floor session. 

As written, HB 303 does not apply to a “health care institution or health care payer owned or operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state.” Some Republican representatives showed interest in striking that provision from the bill, an amendment that would have triggered a higher threshold for the bill to pass because of a specific provision of the state constitution. That amendment, proposed by Rep. Tom Welch, R-Dillon, failed in a 39-61 vote. 

Republicans who spoke in support of the bill on the floor said they hoped the bill would protect freedom of expression for medical providers, even those they disagree with. 

“I think in this increasingly lack of traditional values and conscience world, and oftentimes profit-driven world, that protection needs to be provided for providers and health care workers that do have those values and do have that conscience,” said Rep. Jerry Schilling, R-Circle. 

Other Democrats who considered the bill as part of the House Judiciary Committee urged lawmakers to consider the unintended consequences of the bill. Rep. Laura Smith, D-Helena, said she’d heard stories from parents of young children faced with challenging medical circumstances who feared that, had HB 303 been in place, their desires for care would have been trumped by the prerogative or ideology of their providers. 

“This is just one of many examples that I receive where medical teams have tried to deny parents’ rights to choose procedures for their children,” Smith said. “If the bill passes, it will take away parental rights, and your constituents’ parental rights, to make these life-and-death procedural and medical decisions for our own children.”

The bill ultimately passed with widespread Republican support and one affirmative vote from Rep. Frank Smith, D-Poplar. Four Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in opposition.

If the bill passes a third, non-debatable vote this week, it will then be transmitted to the Senate and assigned to a committee for a second hearing. 

Speaking to Montana Free Press Monday afternoon, Regier said she was pleased by the vote margin. 

“It’s what we all hope for,” she said. 

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Mara Silvers writes about health and human services stories happening in local communities, the Montana statehouse and the court system. She also produces the Shared State podcast in collaboration with MTPR and YPR. Before joining Montana Free Press, Mara worked in podcast and radio production at Slate and WNYC. She was born and raised in Helena, MT and graduated from Seattle University in 2016.

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The preceding piece was previously published by Montana Free Press and is republished with permission.

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Orange County

Huntington Beach could ban Pride flags on city property

The new rule would only allow the American flag, California state flag and the city of Huntington Beach flag to be flown

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The city first hoisted the Pride flag on May 22, 2021 (Photo Credit: City of Huntington Beach)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – A new ordinance that would only allow the American flag, California state flag and the city of Huntington Beach flag to be flown or displayed on city property has been proposed by Councilmember Pat Burns to be heard Tuesday at the regular city council meeting starting at 6 p.m..

The Republican councilman, a former Long Beach Police Department Lieutenant, told KABC 7 Eyewitness News: “Special flags or recognition flags of some sort that aren’t governmental or representative of the community, as one, I don’t believe has a space on our government flag poles,” he said.

Burns said the only exception would be the Prisoner of War and Missing in Action flag that honors those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country. “So many of the men gave all to give us the rights we enjoy today,” Burns said.

Although he did not specifically call out the Pride flag, Burns stated in a staff report explaining his reasoning for the request. “The City of Huntington Beach should avoid actions that could easily or mistakenly be perceived as divisive. [We] are one community with many different cultures and people. All are equally valued members of our community, and none are to be treated differently or discriminated against.”

 “People have asked if we can fly other flags, whatever they may be, and I don’t believe that we should fly any other flags but equal flags that represent us all,” Burns added.

Many Republicans and conservatives view the display of the LGBTQ flag as divisive, some stating moral objections to affirming LGBTQ+ people as “represented” by display of the flag. According to Huntington Beach Public Affairs Manager Jennifer Carey, the Pride flag was previously approved is the only other banner approved by members of the council for civic display.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Carey told the Times that the city first hoisted the Pride flag on May 22, 2021— the birthday of former San Francisco supervisor and civil rights activist Harvey Milk, fatally shot in 1978 — after the City Council voted 6-0 in a May 3 meeting to keep the banner flying throughout the month of June to mark LGBTQ Pride Month.

Defending his proposed ordinance Bruns said: “We’re one community with different cultures, different people, and if anything, it’s a unifying measure.” 

KABC also reported that in a letter, Peter Levi, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League of Orange County/Long Beach, asked the Huntington Beach City Council to reject the proposed ordinance to limit flag displays.

“Celebrating the rich diversity of the Huntington Beach community is not a political statement and prohibiting the display of pride flags because they are allegedly ‘divisive’ sends a dangerous message to the LGBTQ+ community and allies,” said Levi.

From KABC 7:

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News Analysis

Daily Wire host: Demons are “always trans”

“They’re never beautiful, truly gorgeous women with classical proportions- They’re always androgynous. They’re always trans”

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Michael Knowles Show (Screenshot/YouTube)

By Media Matters Staff | WASHINGTON – In his latest episode of his show, Daily Wire host Michael Knowles says the CBS network endorses Satan worship after the airing of the performance on the GRAMMYs Sunday night of Out Trans artist Kim Petras along side nonbinary artist Sam Smith singing their song “Unholy.”

Petras and Smith won a GRAMMY for Best Solo Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Unholy.”

Watch:

Transcript:

MICHAEL KNOWLES (HOST): So, Sam Smith gives an overtly satanic performance with all sorts of transsexuals and fire coming up. First point there, by the way — and I noticed this the other day even before Sam Smith’s performance — isn’t it odd how depictions of demons, how depictions of weird ghoulish devilish demonic figures are always androgynous?

They’re never super duper hyper-masculine chads. They’re never beautiful, truly gorgeous women with classical proportions and representations of beauty. They’re always androgynous. They’re always trans. And the reason for that is that the Devil hates human beings and sexual difference is, basically, at the very core of human nature.

The difference between man and woman, the complementarity of man and women, is right there at the heart of human nature. And the Devil hates humanity and so he tries to cut away at the very core of humanity.  

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California

Newsom calls for Federal investigation of high Natural Gas prices

California accelerating bill credits of $90-$120 starting next month to support with high gas and electric bills

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Governor Gavin Newsom (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – As millions of California families experience soaring gas utility bills, Governor Gavin Newsom took action today urging the federal government to investigate the recent price spike affecting the Western U.S. and highlighted the state’s action to provide relief to Californians.

In a letter to the federal agency responsible for regulating wholesale natural gas, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Governor requested that the agency “immediately focus its investigatory resources on assessing whether market manipulation, anticompetitive behavior, or other anomalous activities are driving these ongoing elevated prices in the western gas markets.”

Additionally, millions of Californians will soon see relief from high utility bills – with credits of $90 to $120 showing up on gas and electric bills as soon as next month. 

On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to accelerate the California Climate Credit to help California families with high gas bills.

The $90-$120 credit will be applied to residential utility customer bills starting in March for customers of PG&E, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Gas Company. Customers of Bear Valley, Liberty, PacifiCorp, and Southwest Gas will also receive an accelerated credit of varying amounts. 

Tomorrow, the CPUC and the California Energy Commission will host an en banc hearing to examine the causes and impacts of the recent spike in natural gas prices. 

“Millions of California families are opening their utility bills to sticker shock – and we’re taking action now to provide relief to help with those high gas bills,” said Newsom. “We know this provides only temporary relief from soaring bills. That’s why I’m asking the federal government to use its full authority to investigate the spike in natural gas prices and take any necessary enforcement actions. We’re going to get to the bottom of this because Californians deserve to know what’s behind these exorbitant bills.”

California accelerating bill credits of $90-$120 starting next month to support with high gas and electric bills

Californians do not need to do anything to get the credit. Every spring and fall, millions of Californians receive credits on their electric and natural gas bills identified as the California Climate Credit. The California Climate Credit comes from the State’s cap-and-trade program managed by the California Air Resources Board. The credit on utility bills represents the consumer’s share of the payments from the State’s program.

The CPUC and California Energy Commission will hold an en banc hearing on February 7 to bring together market experts to examine the possible drivers behind the natural gas price spikes and explore potential state actions that can be taken. The hearing includes participation of the California Independent System Operator and market experts from across the country to discuss possible drivers and explore any state measure to protect California customers.

More information is available here.

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Politics

Victory Institute urges Senate to confirm Gigi Sohn for FCC

Sohn, whose appointment has been languishing since October 2021, would be the first LGBTQ person ever to serve in that role

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Gigi Sohn (Screen capture via C-SPAN)

WASHINGTON – The LGBTQ Victory Institute submitted a letter Monday with more than 375 signatories urging Senate leadership to confirm Gigi Sohn’s nomination for commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission.

Sohn, whose appointment has been languishing since October 2021, would be the first LGBTQ person ever to serve in that role where she would become the tie-breaking vote on the bipartisan-led commission.

“Gigi is one of the nation’s leading public advocates for open, affordable, and democratic
communications networks,” the Victory Institute wrote in its letter. “Gigi has worked across the country to defend and preserve the fundamental competition and innovation policies that have made broadband internet access more ubiquitous, competitive, affordable, open, and protective of user privacy. During this time, she has worked across the industry, notably as Counselor to former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler.”

Despite these qualifications – and the Biden-Harris administration’s decision to nominate her for a third time – Sohn’s confirmation has been delayed amid coordinated attacks by industry lobbyists, conservatives on the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and right-wing media organizations.

Fox News, Breitbart, and the Daily Mail have recently focused on Sohn’s membership on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a respected organization that has come out against a pair of laws that were enacted in 2018 amid the panic over child sex trafficking.

The laws, according to the Los Angeles Times, “have proved to be largely ineffective for their stated purpose and rife with adverse side effects,” with the EFF writing that they “will not stop sex trafficking and will instead make stopping it harder.” Regardless, the matter has nothing to do with the work in which Sohn would be engaged at the FCC.

Nevertheless, these attacks on Sohn, an out lesbian, dovetail with efforts to link the LGBTQ community with child sexual abuse and exploitation. The EFF came out in support of Sohn, too, arguing that the attacks against her were “dog whistles.”

“Democrats can’t claim to support LGBTQ rights while failing to stand up to blatant bigotry targeting one of their own nominees,” Evan Greer, director of the digital rights organization Fight for the Future, told the Los Angeles Times. “If they remain silent and complicit, this will become a go-to strategy to tank LGBTQ nominees to any public position,” she said.

According to research provided by GLAAD, one of the groups that signed the Victory Institute’s letter, “These criticisms [of Sohn] have led extremists, especially those from the QAnon movement, to conclude that Sohn supports sex trafficking and is participating in a secret plot by Democrats and other ‘far left elites’ to silence conservatives.”

Former U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) called Sohn a “she-male” and “fringe lunatic,” claims that prompted other users to make death threats against her, according to research provided by GLAAD.

Separately and in the past, Sohn earned criticism for her social media posts, including one authored by the acclaimed actor and comedian Issa Rae that Sohn shared, which read: “Your raggedy white supremacist president and his cowardly enablers would rather kill everybody than stop killing black people.”

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State Department

State Department spokesperson welcomes Pope Francis’ opposition to criminalization laws

Ned Price is openly gay, said pontiff ‘speaks with authority’

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State Department spokesperson Ned Price, center, speaks at the LGBTQ Victory Institute's International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C. on Dec. 3, 2022. Price, who is openly gay, welcomes Pope Francis' recent comments against laws that criminalize LGBTQ and intersex people. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

WASHINGTON — State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Monday said he welcomes Pope Francis’ recent comments against criminalization laws.

“His Holiness using his voice in this way is something that will be noticed by people and governments around the world,” Price told the Washington Blade during his daily press briefing. “He obviously speaks with authority that perhaps no one else can. We welcome those remarks.”

Francis, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Rt. Rev. Ian Greenshields of the Church of Scotland on Sunday after they left South Sudan publicly denounced criminalization laws and said their respective churches should welcome LGBTQ+ and intersex people. Francis during an exclusive interview with the Associated Press on Jan. 24 described criminalization laws as “unjust” and said “being homosexual is not a crime.”

The Vatican’s tone towards LGBTQ+ and intersex issues has softened since Francis assumed the papacy in 2013, but the church continues to consider homosexuality a sin. The Vatican remains opposed to marriage rights for same-sex couples. 

Price on Monday referred to President Joe Biden’s memorandum that committed the U.S. to promoting LGBTQ+ and intersex rights abroad as part of his administration’s overall foreign policy. 

The openly gay State Department spokesperson in May 2021 told the Blade the decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relations is one of the five priorities for the White House in its efforts to promote LGBTQ+ and intersex rights abroad. Singapore, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis have legalized homosexuality since that interview.

“We will continue, as an administration, as a government, to doing (sic) what we can, perhaps in a very different way, but practical steps that we can to promote and protect the rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world,” said Price on Monday, referring to Biden’s foreign policy memorandum. 

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