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Ricardo Lara makes history as first openly LGBT person elected statewide in California

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New California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara addresses supporters (Photo by Equality California Communications Director Samuel Garrett-Pate.)

It was windy and pouring the night before Ricardo Lara made history; “Hurricane Sacramento” some called it. But by noon on Jan 7, the sky had cleared, the air was full of change and somewhere a rainbow beamed over California as the son of Mexican immigrants was sworn in as the 8th Insurance Commissioner and the first LGBT person elected statewide in the state of California.

In his remarks, Lara stressed that being gay wasn’t just a reference, one characteristic that happened to be part of his character. Being an out gay Latino is a central fact of his existence, an experiential lens through which he sees the world, understands policy and celebrates symbolism—such as having out gay former District Judge Vaughn Walker, who ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional, preside over his swearing-in on a copy of California’s first Constitution in its original 1849 Spanish translation.

New Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara thanks former District Judge Vaughn Walker (photo via Michael Soller)

The arc of the moral universe felt like it was bending toward justice.
“Thank you for insisting that our laws be based on evidence, and not prejudice. Your ruling on marriage equality showed that the wisdom of our Constitution is greater than the sum of our fears,” the new Commissioner told the judge.
Lara then opened his inaugural comments by acknowledging the importance of the moment.

“A people’s progress is often measured by thresholds crossed. In the nearly 170 years of California’s history, hundreds of men and women have been elected to serve in statewide constitutional office. Until now, not one was openly gay,” Lara said.

“I am standing before you, but I am surrounded by the spirit of those bold, unapologetic, and courageous people who protested and ultimately gave their lives so that we could live proudly. Today has been in the making for generations,” the new Commissioner said.

“From the thousands sent to concentration camps in Nazi Germany to the uprisings at the Black Cat in Los Angeles and the Stonewall Inn in New York to the queer Dreamers paving the way for our immigrant communities. To my LGBTQ+ community, my parents and my family, my great teachers and professors, my extraordinary staff — past and present — and my lifelong support system,” Lara said. “Today we shattered the pink ceiling!”

But Lara said he didn’t run for the statewide office to make history. “I ran to make a difference in the lives of millions of Californians.”

California’s Department of Insurance, Lara noted, is the largest and most important state consumer protection agency in America. “At a time of historic disparity, when the rich get richer and corporate elite get all the advantages, it is more urgent than ever that government work for all of us,” Lara said. “I have made it my life’s work to ensure Californians can live their lives openly, safely, and affordably. Free of fear, prejudice or injustice.”

As the “proud son” of working-class Mexican parents “who – sustained by one dream but no documents – braved a border to pursue a better life,” Lara championed undocumented immigrants, including authoring a bill as state senator in 2015 that extended Medi-Cal to undocumented children. “After all, I know what it is to live in the shadows. Concealing my own orientation to even my own family and closest friends,” he said.

“We are the Department of Fair Deals, the Department of Fresh Starts, the Department of Rebuilding Your Home, the Department of Protecting your Investment, and the Department of the Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow,” said Lara. “In short, we are the Department of Hope, and we have never been more important.”

Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur at Lara’s swearing in (photo via Facebook)

Equality California hosted a reception for about 400 people to celebrate Lara’s life and career as an LGBTQ trailblazer from East LA, said EQCA Communications Director Samuel Garrett-Pate. “There were drag queens throughout the club mingling with guests, the featured cocktail was a ‘Pink Triangle,’” and the food was a spin on LA street vendor classics.

Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur congratulated his friend and addressed “identity politics,” which conservatives have disparaged as an “issue.”

“’Identity politics’ is not a dirty phrase or a political liability,” Zbur said. “It is, rather, the literal definition of representative democracy to elect leaders who represent all of us and our diverse identities, backgrounds and stories.”

Zbur then celebrated the identities of California’s top elected officials. “Today is for the gay boy in East Los Angeles, the son of immigrants — a factory worker and a seamstress — sharing a king-sized bed with his four siblings and fearing that his parents might be taken away from him one day. [Lara],” he said.

“Today is for the young girl whose father told her stories of his small Greek village being invaded by Nazis, who then occupied his modest childhood home. [Lt Gov. Eleni Kounalakis],” Zbur said. “Today is for the boy with dyslexia, struggling to read and write, whose mom works three jobs to support him and his sister. [Gov. Gavin Newsom]

“Today is for the daughters of Chinese immigrants in San Francisco and New York [State Controller Betty Yee and Treasurer Fiona Ma], for the sons of Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles and Sacramento [Sec. of State Alex Padilla and Attorney Gen. Xavier Becerra] and for the son of a single mother, a schoolteacher from Panama [Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond].”

In fact, California, the most populous state in the union, is now run by minorities with Gov. Gavin Newsom the only white man holding a statewide constitutional office.

Ricardo Lara being sworn in (Photo by Equality California Communications Director Samuel Garrett-Pate.

Transcript of INSURANCE COMMISSIONER RICARDO LARA INAUGURAL ADDRESS (prepared for delivery) Jan. 7, 2019

Senator Art Torres — you have been here every step on California’s march toward justice for all. Thank you for leading us today.

Senator Holly Mitchell — I am so lucky to call you my friend, my sister, my partner in equity and justice.

Secretary Erika Contreras — you are a trailblazer. No words can describe my gratitude and admiration for you.

Stuart Milk — There is no doubt that your uncle is here with us today. Thank you for continuing his fearless work for equality.

Rick Zbur — thank you for your advocacy for all those LGBTQ+ Californians who deserve the protection of our laws.

Judge Walker — your presence today is an honor for me and for the thousands of families who can live in love and legally since your decision. Thank you for insisting that our laws be based on evidence, and not prejudice. Your ruling on marriage equality showed that the wisdom of our Constitution is greater than the sum of our fears.

Commissioner Jones — thank you for your courage and commitment to the people of our great state and for being a fierce advocate for California consumers.

My friends, mi familia, and all of my esteemed colleagues from the Legislature — thank you for being here today.

My fellow Californians:

A people’s progress is often measured by thresholds crossed. In the nearly 170 years of California’s history, hundreds of men and women have been elected to serve in statewide constitutional office.

Until now, not one was openly gay.

As I cross this threshold, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all those who have made this possible.

I am standing before you, but I am surrounded by the spirit of those bold, unapologetic, and courageous people who protested and ultimately gave their lives so that we could live proudly.

Today has been in the making for generations.

From the thousands sent to concentration camps in Nazi Germany to the uprisings at the Black Cat in Los Angeles and the Stonewall Inn in New York to the queer Dreamers paving the way for our immigrant communities.

To my LGBTQ+ community, my parents and my family, my great teachers and professors, my extraordinary staff — past and present — and my lifelong support system.

Today we shattered the pink ceiling!

Because of you, this door is opened forever.

It is the privilege of a lifetime. And I thank you.

But I didn’t run for this office to make history.

I ran to make a difference in the lives of millions of Californians.

California’s Department of Insurance is the largest and most important state consumer protection agency in America.

We are the Department of Fair Deals, the Department of Fresh Starts, the Department of Rebuilding Your Home, the Department of Protecting Your Investment, the Department of the Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow.

In short, we are the Department of Hope.

And we have never been more important.

Because — despite our state’s economic prowess — a majority of Californians remain financially insecure.

People are working harder for less.

And the rising cost of living is pricing out our middle class.

At a time of historic disparity, when the rich get richer and corporate elite get all the advantages, it is more urgent than ever that government work for all of us.

I have made it my life’s work to ensure Californians can live their lives openly, safely, and affordably.

Free of fear, prejudice or injustice.

I am the proud son of two working-class parents born in Mexico – who – sustained by one dream but no documents – braved a border to pursue a better life.

After all, I know what it is to live in the shadows. Concealing my own orientation to even my own family and closest friends.

My father was a factory worker. My mother a seamstress. They believed in the California Dream.

They worked back-to-back shifts so I could become the first child in my family to ever graduate from high school and attend college.

At San Diego State, I didn’t just come out of the closet, I came out ready to fight.

I found my voice.

And I dedicated myself to the enduring principle that California must always be a beacon of opportunity, where everyone can find a place to belong.

Here, we can embrace our differences and measure our achievements not by where you come from but by where we are going.

I was blessed to serve under leaders who were not content following others – they were determined to blaze their own trail.

It is no accident that I took the oath today on a replica of the original California Constitution, which was adopted 170 years ago — in Spanish.

Our founders insisted that the laws be written in English and Spanish, starting with the Constitution.

For our first 30 years, we were a bilingual state, bound together as Californians by a shared history.

Así que…bienvenidos a California!

But we have battled division and exclusion for our entire history.

Today, we are living proof that California is stronger when we stand together.

We are proof that love is stronger than hate.

It is what brought my parents to California and what drives us all forward.

People have always come to California, drawn by its promise and bounty.

This promise of opportunity is not guaranteed, however. Our leaders are guardians of this opportunity.

Our seniors, people living in poverty, and immigrant communities are targets of con artists and scams.

Our entrepreneurs face economic uncertainty.

Millions of us live one emergency room visit away from financial ruin.

We cannot deny that with climate change, California faces a threat like never before.

Just ask the Paradise High School class of 2019, who go back to school tomorrow in temporary classrooms.

Ask the Garfield High School class of 2019, in East L.A. where I was born and raised, who continue to deal with some of the nation’s worst air pollution.

When I started my campaign for Insurance Commissioner, I pledged to help lead this fight.

But I cannot do it alone.

To the staff of the California Department of Insurance — we will roll up our sleeves to do more than ever before for the people of California.

I have been in your shoes as a legislative staffer so your long hours and dedication to the people of California are not lost on me.

I know elected representatives depend on the hard work of our staff.

Together we will be the problem solvers, the crisis experts, the consumer champions.

To my law enforcement division and partners — I want to be unequivocal. We will use every resource to crack down on fraud, which continues to cost consumers and businesses millions of dollars.

To our seniors cheated out of their retirement savings.

To people in recovery from addiction.

To immigrant victims of auto-fraud rings.

To the insurance industry — I ask you to join me in this fight against extreme disasters linked to climate change.

We need bold action to ensure our communities adapt and are resilient to this new reality.

There is no other industry that has the necessary expertise to ensure that California is prepared to mitigate and reduce risk to our communities and environment.

Our planet can’t wait. I’m ready, and I hope you are too.

Today I am announcing the creation of the Deputy Insurance Commissioner of Climate and Sustainability — a first for the Department — to work with our environmental and industry leaders to bring innovative solutions to market — like only California can.

Like climate change, technology is touching every aspect of our lives.
We need to embrace new technology to improve access, affordability, and privacy, while promoting creativity and allowing innovation to transform the industry.

I will organize the Department to keep California at the forefront of the discussion on technology, and make sure we maintain our lead in the race for innovation.

To Governor Newsom — I am excited to be your partner in expanding affordable healthcare for every Californian. There is nothing we cannot achieve with our new common agenda.

You are keeping your commitment on single payer. Together we will take on the cost crisis including prescription drug prices. And under your leadership, I am ready to build on our efforts and commitment to Health4All.

We stand ready for your California4All vision.

To my friends and colleagues in the Legislature, Senator Susan Rubio and Assemblymember Tom Daly, our Insurance Committee chairs — I value and honor your role in this deliberative process. I look forward to working with you to deliver on our promise to California.

If there was no more pressing reminder of my duty, I reflect on the devastating loss suffered by communities due to wildfires, mudslides and other catastrophic events.

I commit to you that I will work tirelessly to ensure that we have a system in place that helps you restore, rebuild, and renew your lives and communities.

I have a Department comprised of committed professionals and public servants who believe in our mission.

They believe insurance is about more than safety and security. It is about giving people hope.

Hope that if disaster happens, you can rebuild your home on solid ground.

Hope that you will stay healthy to work and watch your family grow.

Hope that businesses will continue to invest in our state and thrive.

That is why I say we are the Department of Hope.

Hope is what binds us.

For me, in my darkest hours — when I was filled with self-doubt and fear — what kept me going was that promise, the hope, of something better.

That is why I am able to stand here before you today as California’s 8th Insurance Commissioner.

Today is dedicated to the promise that no matter what circumstance you are in — it can get better.

To that child who felt different growing up and uncomfortable in your own skin — you can achieve your dreams.

To the boy like me who always wanted to play with the Easy-Bake oven — you know who you are.

To the girl who questions herself and the queer youth who does not want to fit in any box — you are perfect the way you are.

This isn’t my promise, this is California’s promise.

And it is one I intend to keep.

Thank you.

 

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Federal Government

One million plus same-sex households in U.S., California has most

Data also revealed that roughly 710,000 of the same-sex couple households were married and about 500,000 were unmarried

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US Census Bureau Headquarters, Suitland, Maryland (Photo Credit: Photo by Hubert Dobson, U.S. Census Bureau)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Census Bureau last week released a report that detailed that there were about 1.2 million same-sex couple households in the United States in 2021. Data also revealed that roughly 710,000 of the same-sex couple households were married and about 500,000 were unmarried.

Since 2005 the number of same-sex households in the U.S. has steadily increased, with about 540,000 reported in 2008 and then in 2019, the last year the Census reported data, there were about 980,000 same-sex households in the country.

The data, based on American Community Survey (ACS), which shows estimates from 2005 through 2021, was not released in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19 on ACS data collection.

Other highlights from the release:

  • The average age of householders in same-sex married couples (48.9 years) was lower than in opposite-sex married couples (52.8 years). But the average age of householders in same-sex unmarried couples (42.0 years) was higher than in opposite-sex unmarried couples (39.9 years).
  • The share of female-female and male-male couples with both partners employed did not differ significantly, though median household income in female same-sex couple households ($92,470) was lower than in male same-sex couple households ($116,800).
  • Both partners had at least a bachelor’s degree in a larger share of same-sex (29.6%) than opposite-sex (18.1%) unmarried couples.
  • A larger share of same-sex (31.6%) than opposite-sex (18.4%) married couples were interracial.
  • The District of Columbia (2.5%) had the highest percentage of same-sex couple households of any state or state equivalent. California has the most same-sex households at 163,964.
  • States with the highest number of same-sex households include Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Delaware, Oregon, California, Florida and New York, all of which include more than 1 percent of same-sex households in the total household population.

This is the second time the Census Bureau has released ACS estimates of same-sex couple households since revising the survey’s relationship to householder question to more accurately capture same-sex relationships.

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Middle East

Far-right Israeli politician vows to cancel Jerusalem Pride parade

Avi Maoz rebuked by Benjamin Netanyahu

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Avi Maoz (Screen capture via i24NEWS English YouTube)

JERUSALEM — A far-right Israeli politician on Wednesday said the country’s new government should not allow the annual Jerusalem Pride parade to take place.

Walla News Diplomatic Correspondent Barak Ravid noted Avi Maoz, a member of the Israeli Knesset who is a member of the far-right Noam party, told the Olam Katan newspaper the incoming government needs “to cancel the Jerusalem Pride parade.”

“It’s a disgrace,” said Maoz. “I am as serious as I can be. It didn’t come up in the coalition agreement, but I am not hiding, I want it cancelled.”

President Isaac Herzog has asked Netanyahu to form a government after his Likud Party won the election that took place on Nov. 1. Maoz’s party is among those that could form a coalition government with Netanyahu as prime minister.

WDG, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Israel, previously reported Maoz promotes an anti-LGBTQ agenda based on the preservation of family values.

Ravid noted Netanyahu has said the Jerusalem Pride parade “will continue.”

“My government will not harm the rights of the LGBT community or any of Israel’s citizens,” said Netanyahu. 

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Politics

Charlie Kirk smears Out Calif. State Sen. Scott Wiener on Twitter

“Kirk is leading the movement to slander gay men and trans people as ‘pedophiles’ and ‘groomers,’ & these heinous words have consequences”

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Charlie Kirk speaking on the 2021 Turning Point USA college tour (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

SAN FRANCISCO – In a lengthy tirade on Twitter Tuesday, far-right extremist radio chat show host Charles J. Kirk, while loosely channeling an InfoWars host Alex Jones style-attack, went after California State Senator Scott Wiener, (D-SF District 11) implying that the veteran lawmaker endorses and supports child molestation.

Kirk, 29, is a co-founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative right-wing political group aimed at influencing college and university students and young people. Ironically, Kirk himself dropped out of Harper College, a junior community college near Chicago, without having completed any degree or certificate.

Kirk hosts a daily three-hour radio talk show, called The Charlie Kirk Show, on Salem Media which is known for owning conservative websites Townhall.com, RedState, Hot Air, and PJ Media, as well as Twitter aggregator Twitchy, calling itself a ” for-profit Christian broadcast corporation.”

He is also an avid supporter of impeached former president Donald Trump, consistently refers to himself as a MAGA Republican and has asserted that the concept of white privilege is a myth and a “racist lie.” He also has spread false information and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 on social media platforms, such as Twitter, in 2020.

Recently Kirk has been attacking the LGBTQ+ community on the subjects of trans youth and also following the lead of far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-GA) in attacking Senator Wiener:

Kirk’s attack on the senator commenced with: “Thousands of pedophiles in California are going free after just a few months in jail, thanks to the state’s radically reduced penalties for child molestation. One reason so many of these predators are going free so early is California lawmaker Scott Wiener.”

Then he went on to state in the thread: “That name and photo might ring a bell. Wiener is one of the most effective lawmakers in the entire country. He’s behind California’s new law that will protect parents who kidnap their children and take them to California to receive mutilating surgeries.

Wiener was also behind California’s law lowering penalties for intentionally spreading HIV to other people, and their law creating a third “nonbinary” gender for government documents.

If there’s some horrifying idea related to modern gender and sex ideology, Wiener has probably written and passed a bill about it in California.

If elected Republicans cared as much about their voters’ concerns as Scott Wiener cares about freeing pedophiles and mutilating children, they’d have won total victory long ago.”

Editor’s Note: It needs to be made clear, California has NOT reduced penalties for child molestation.

(REUTERS) Posts on Facebook claim that SB-145, a bill passed by the California State Senate on August 31, 2020 seeks to “legalize pedophilia.” This claim is false, as the bill is intended to reform the state’s sex offender registry to be fairer to young LGBT adults who may be in technical violation of statutory rape laws. The bill seeks to treat all statutory rape cases—regardless of what kind of sex they involve—equally.

Senator Wiener responded to Kirk’s attacks saying on Twitter:

Charlie Kirk — one of the biggest attention-seeking liars around — is spreading bald-faced lies about me. These statements are absolutely false & defamatory. These are the lies bigots have always spread about LGBTQ people — lies that lead to violence against our community.

In an emailed statement to the Blade Wiener said:

“LGBTQ leaders around the country are under attack by toxic, far-right ideologues and elected officials. These MAGA talking heads – whose party performed far worse than expected in the midterm elections – have no meaningful policy solutions for the issues facing our country. Instead, they are focused on slandering and demonizing gay and trans people, and using us as scapegoats. Specifically, they’re employing the age-old slander that LGBTQ people are threats to children, and that is what Greene and Kirk tweeted about me.

“Charlie Kirk is a prime example of this type of extremist right-wing grifter, and he joined Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene in tweeting about me repackaged versions of centuries-old homophobic lies. Kirk and Greene are leading the movement to slander gay men and trans people as ‘pedophiles’ and ‘groomers,’ and these heinous words have consequences. Be it the massacre at Club Q or the death threat I just received this morning referencing Kirk’s tweet, LGBTQ people everywhere are experiencing an onslaught of violence and threats.

“People like Kirk and Greene are a stain on our country, and they should be held accountable for spreading vile, homophobic misinformation.”

In his statement Wiener was referencing last week’s attack by Far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-GA) who called the Senator a “communist” questioning Wiener’s loyalty and service to both the State of California and the U.S. she then went on to accuse Wiener of being a “groomer” implying that the Senator was a predator of minors for sexual purposes:

Pass my Protect Children’s Innocence Act to stop communist groomers like this from using state government power to take children away from their parents to allow a for-profit medical industry to chop off these confused children’s genitals before they are even old enough to vote.”

Wiener made a point of calling out use of the word “groomer,” as the abusive reaction and fallout from right-wing sources regarding the mass-shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, continues to ratchet up against the LGBTQ+ community.

The word “groomer” is categorically an anti-LGBTQ hate word. It’s super homophobic/transphobic. It plays into the slander that LGBTQ people are pedophiles. It’s no different than calling someone a fagg*t. If you call someone groomer, you’re inciting violence against LGBTQ people,” Wiener stated in a tweet.

Equality California, the largest statewide LGBTQ equal rights advocacy group reacted to Kirk’s smears Wednesday afternoon. In an text message to the Blade, Equality California spokesperson Jorge Reyes Salinas said:

“It is disgusting but not surprising that days after a mass shooting fueled by dangerous rhetoric from extremists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Charlie Kirk posts lies to spread anti-LGBTQ+ hate. The statements made are false, defamatory and lead to violence  against our LGBTQ+ community. This is another performance to build up hatred.”

The organization had previously tweeted at Kirk defending the senator:

“This is a lie. It’s false, offensive and dangerous — the exact type of disinformation that has fueled violent attacks like the Club Q shooting in #ColoradoSprings. Shame on you, and shame on @elonmusk [Twitter owner and CEO] for allowing these dangerous lies to proliferate.”

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Southern-Central Asia

India Supreme Court chief justice seen as LGBTQ ally

Chandrachud has been expressing his observations and opinions on the issue of LGBTQ rights in India, even when he was not the chief justice

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DY Chandrachud, Chief Justice of India (Screenshot/YouTube NDTV 24-7 News)

NEW DELHI – The struggle for equality in the world’s biggest democracy took a giant step forward in 2018 with the decriminalization of homosexuality, but the fight is not over.

Though homosexuality is now decriminalized in India, same-sex marriage is still not legalized. In other words, same-sex couples can love but cannot marry. The pain in the community is visible. Since same-sex marriage is not legally recognized, it affects a spectrum of rights available to heterosexual couples that include the transfer of property and access to medical facilities.

Several marriage equality cases have been filed in the Delhi High Court and in other courts across the country.

Two petitions filed by gay couples came to the India’s Supreme Court on Nov. 25 asking for recognition of same-sex marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. A bench led by the new Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachud issued a notice to the federal government and the attorney general and posted the matter for further hearing after four weeks.

Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), a public sector insurance company under India’s Finance Ministry, last month appeared to recognize a same-sex couple who lives in Kolkata. The arrival of the Supreme Court’s new chief justice is an additional ray of hope for the country’s LGBTQ and intersex community.

On many occasions, Chandrachud has signaled his support for the community. For instance, while speaking at the British High Commission in New Delhi, the Indian capital, on Aug. 31, Chandrachud said that decriminalization of homosexuality alone cannot achieve equality, and it must extend to “all spheres of life,” including home, workplace, and public places.

Chandrachud has been expressing his observations and opinions on the issue of LGBTQ rights in India, even when he was not the chief justice but a Supreme Court judge. Chandrachud, while speaking at the British High Commission event, which focused on the future of the country’s LGBTQ and intersex rights movement, said society owes a debt of gratitude to every individual who formed and continues to form a part of the struggle for equality.

“Perhaps, we need a little more than love,” highlighted Chandrachud at the New Delhi event while calling for structural change in society to let the LGBTQ community live a life of autonomy and dignity.

The Supreme Court in 2018 struck down the law decriminalizing homosexuality. Chandrachud was on the Supreme Court in 2018 when it decriminalized homosexuality between consenting adults and recognized sexual autonomy as a basic right of individuals.

“While the decision in Navtej was momentous, we have a long way to go. The Beatles famously sang ‘All you need is love, love; Love is all you need.’ At the risk of ruffling the feathers of music aficionados everywhere, I take the liberty to disagree with them and say – perhaps, we need a little more than love,” highlighted Chandrachud. “At the heart of personal liberty lies the freedom to choose who we are, to love whom we will, and to live a life that is true to our most authentic selves, not only without the fear of persecution but in full-hearted joy and as equal citizens of this country.”

Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India was the historical judgment that struck down the criminalization of homosexuality in India.

“The accomplishment of this simple yet crucial task would breathe life into the decision in Navtej,” said Chandrachud. “It is not merely the black letter of the law that these changes must take place in, but in the heart and soul of every Indian. Heteronormativity — in every sense of the word — must give way to a plurality of thought and of existence.”

Chandrachud in August said that justice can quickly be undone if people do not continue with the right discourse to safeguard the interests of marginalized groups. Chandrachud also highlighted in the same event that the decriminalization of homosexuality is not sufficient for members of the LGBTQ community to realize their rights. He was referring to the withdrawal of an advertisement of Karva Chauth featuring same-sex couples.

Karva Chauth is the Indian festival celebrated by Hindus in northern India in which wives keep a day-long fast for their husbands and perform rituals for the long life and well-being of their husbands.

The advertisement showed female couples celebrating Karva Chauth, and faced backlash over the internet and immediately firm withdrew it. Meanwhile, the marriage equality case the Supreme Court heard on Nov. 25 and Chandrachud’s position as chief justice has brought renewed hope among LGBTQ and intersex activists and the broader community.

“It is heartening that D.Y Chandrachud was recently appointed as the Chief Justice of India. His opinions on abortion, privacy, women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple, adultery, and gay rights (to name a few) have been progressive and brought about much-needed change,” said Kanav Narayan Sahgal, communications manager at Nyaaya, Vidhi Center for Legal Policy. “With an uncooperative central government, and a largely conservative society, the ball is now in the hands of the Supreme Court.”

Ankush Kumar is a freelance 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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Federal Government

Homeland Security: More attacks against LGBTQ people possible

Some domestic violent extremists who have conducted attacks have cited previous attacks and attackers as inspiration

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Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a terror threat bulletin today warning that domestic extremists have posted online praise for the fatal shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado earlier this month. and have called for copycat attacks.

In its bulletin, DHS officials noted that several recent attacks, plots, and threats of violence demonstrate the continued dynamic and complex nature of the threat environment in the United States:

“Some domestic violent extremists who have conducted attacks have cited previous attacks and attackers as inspiration. Following the late November shooting at an LGBTQI+ bar in Colorado Springs, Colorado—which remains under investigation—we have observed actors on forums known to post racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist content praising the alleged attacker. Similarly, some domestic violent extremists in the United States praised an October 2022 shooting at a LGBTQI+ bar in Slovakia and encouraged additional violence. The attacker in Slovakia posted a manifesto online espousing white supremacist beliefs and his admiration for prior attackers, including some within the United States,” DHS warned.

DHS also asked that Americans report potential threats:

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California

Newsom to hold oil industry accountable for price gouging

Governor calls special session to pass price gouging penalty on oil companies, push new efforts to increase transparency & accountability

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Governor Newsom signs proclamation convening a special session to pass price gouging penalty on oil companies (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – As oil companies continue to evade questions about unexplained gas price increases, Governor Gavin Newsom today convened a special session of the California Legislature on December 5 to pass a price gouging penalty on oil companies that will keep money in Californians’ pockets. 

The Governor’s action comes on the heels of a state hearing yesterday – which five major oil refiners refused to attend – to investigate this fall’s unprecedented spike in gasoline prices. This spike in gasoline prices resulted in record refiner profits of $63 billion in just 90 days, disproportionately affecting low- and middle-income families.

“Big oil is ripping Californians off, and the deafening silence from the industry yesterday is the latest proof that a price gouging penalty is needed to hold them accountable for profiteering at the expense of California families,” said Newsom. “I’m calling a special session of the Legislature to do just that, and to increase transparency on pricing and protect Californians from outrageous price spikes in the future.”

This fall’s spike occurred while crude oil prices dropped, state taxes and fees remained unchanged and gas prices did not increase outside the western U.S., so the high prices went straight to the industry’s bottom line.

During the special session, the Legislature will also consider efforts to empower state agencies to more closely review gas costs, profits and pricing as well provide the state with greater regulatory oversight of the refining, distribution and retailing segments of the gasoline market in California.

Taking action to lower prices at the pump, Governor Newsom in September ordered the switch to winter-blend gasoline and demanded accountability from oil companies and refiners that do business in California. Since California’s record-high gas prices of $6.42, the Governor’s actions have reduced those prices to $4.95 most recently – a decrease of $1.47 since the peak.

In the third quarter of 2022, from July to September, oil companies reported record high profits:

The text of the Governor’s proclamation convening a special session can be found here. 

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