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MLK’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’ encourages civil agitation

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This is an unusual Martin Luther King Day. Usually, young people would be learning about the civil rights icon’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech—but teachers are still on strike in Los Angeles and the nation is in its fifth week of a government shut down so that lesson may be missed. And in Washington DC, the president many consider to be an outright racist felt obliged to visit the monument dedicated to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr after the backlash Vice President Mike Pence received for comparing Trump to King on CBS News’ Face the Nation.”

“The vice president attempted to compare the president to Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a bridge builder, not a wall builder,” said Martin Luther King III, according to The Atlantic staff writer Edward Isaac-Dovere on Twitter. “Martin Luther King Jr. would say, ‘Love, not hate, will make America great.’”

Others used the day differently. California Sen. Kamala Harris announced she is running for president, as expected. Sen. Cory Booker sounded like a candidate-in-waiting at an NAACP event in South Carolina. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tried to burnish his civil rights credentials, saying he attended the March on Washington as a college student and heard King speak.

And new California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a long statement that started with a quote from King: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“More than 50 years after his passing, Dr. Martin Luther King’s words ring true today. They remind us that moral leadership doesn’t require a person to be in elected office or hold a position of power. Instead, exercising moral authority simply requires the will to do the right thing,” Newsom said. “I remember the quote above when I think about what’s happening in our country today. It’s almost as if Dr. King himself had imagined this moment. During this time of unprecedented tumult, from presidential Twitter tirades to the willful destruction of federal civil protections, each of us has the capacity to make a difference. Instead of giving up or losing hope, let’s gather strength from Dr. King’s legacy and use our moral authority to push for a more equitable state, society and world.”

For King, that moral push came at an extreme cost—his assassination at the hands of a right-wing racist on April 4, 1968 in Memphis. He was 39. But there were other costs, too, as King modeled how non-violent civil disobedience confronts authoritarian power—such as beatings, humiliation and jail. But here, too, King turned powerlessness into a tutorial for assuming moral authority.

On April 12, 1963, King and his associate Rev. Ralph Abernathy put on work clothes and joined marchers in their Birmingham Campaign from Sixth Avenue Baptist Church into a waiting police van. Eight members of the Birmingham clergy immediately published an ad criticizing the campaign in the Birmingham News, calling the civil rights strategy of mass street direct action “unwise and untimely.” They appealed “to both our white and Negro citizenry to observe the principles of law and order and common sense.”

From his jail cell, King wrote a long letter on bits of newspaper and notepads left by his lawyers that was circulated as a mimeographed copy,  then published as a pamphlet, then printed in periodicals, with a portion eventually read into the Congressional Record by New York Democrat Rep. William Fitts Ryan. A year later, King revised his letter and published it in his 1964 memoir, Why We Can’t Wait.

First King addressed being called an “outside agitator” by Sheriff Bull Connor and others before explaining the campaign’s principles and four basic steps: “collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action.” The purpose of direct action, he explained, was to create a confrontation that would demand negotiation.

But most of the letter dealt with the clergy’s assertions of “impatience” by the Black community and the “extreme” actions used by the campaign. He wrote:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” — then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

King cites practioners of civil disobedience, such as the American colonists who protested “taxation without representation” and threw the Boston Tea Party—underscoring that civil disobedience is based in a person’s right to refuse to submit to unjust laws. He also chided the white clergy, noting that Jesus, the apostle Paul and even Abraham Lincoln had been called “extremists” and he was proud to stand in that light. But he scorned white moderates most of all. He wrote:

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

King’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail” is archived at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute.  Listen to King reading the letter here.

 

Once released from jail, King often used the term “outside agitator” in his sermons and speeches, according to Hedrick Smith, who covered King for the New York Times. At Southern Christian Leadership Conference meetings in Black churches in the Deep South, King created an interesting visual that took the sting out of the criminal-sounding slur. In 2016, Smith remembered how King would flip the script:

“They call me an agitator,” he would cry out from the pulpit, his voice rising to put force and menace behind the indictment leveled against him. “Well, they’re right,” he came back defiantly. “I am an agitator.”

Then softening, he’d ask puckishly: “Do you know what an agitator is?” For a moment or two, he let the question hang in the air. People looked around at each other, uncertain.

“Well, look inside your washing machine,” he went on. “There’s an agitator in there.” And he would hold out his right arm, crooked at the elbow like a muscle man showing off his might with his fist thrust upward. And then Martin – that’s what his close friends called him – would twist his right fist sharply left-right, left-right, imitating the jerky motion of the shaft inside a clothes washer. “That agitator is in there, stirring up the water, knocking the dirt out of your clothes.”

“Well, that’s what I’m doing,” Dr. King declared, still jerking his fist left-right. And the audience, catching on, would start to giggle. “I’m agitating to knock the dirt out of our society – discrimination, Jim Crow, segregation, racism. So they’re right. I am agitating – agitating to clean up our democracy. That’s what all of us need to do – agitate for a better America, a freer America, a fairer America.”

From the audience came a roar of laughter, understanding and engagement.

 

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U.S. Federal Courts

Doctor charged: Unauthorized access to personal info of trans kids

If convicted, Dr. Haim faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 maximum possible fine for his actions

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Ethan Haim/Screenshot YouTube

HOUSTON – A Houston doctor has been indicted for obtaining protected individual health information for patients that were not under his care and without authorization, announced Alamdar S. Hamdani, the United States attorney for the Southern District of Texas.

The case against Ethan Haim, 34, Dallas, has now been unsealed, and he is set to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Yvonne Y. Ho in Houston.

The four-count indictment alleges Haim obtained personal information including patient names, treatment codes and the attending physician from Texas Children’s Hospital’s (TCH) electronic system without authorization. He allegedly obtained this information under false pretenses and with intent to cause malicious harm to TCH.

According to the indictment, Haim was a resident at Baylor College of Medicine and had previous rotations at TCH as part of his residency.

In April 2023, Haim allegedly requested to re-activate his login access at TCH to access pediatric patients not under his care. The indictment alleges he obtained unauthorized access to personal information of pediatric patients under false pretenses and later disclosed it to a media contact.

According to Houston’s CBS News affiliate KHOU-TV 11, shortly after Haim allegedly accessed the records, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced he was launching an investigation into Texas Children’s Hospital to find out whether they are “actively engaging in illegal behavior and performing gender transitioning procedures on children.

Calling himself a ‘whistleblower’ last year as the FBI conducted the investigation, he tweeted a request for funding to support his legal defense:

If convicted, Haim faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 maximum possible fine.

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Congress

Rep. Garcia urges Feds to protect LGBTQ+ people during Pride

“Ensuring that people can peacefully and safely celebrate Pride and the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community is of utmost importance”

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Participants of the Capital Pride Festival in D.C. on June 8, 2024. Gay U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) has urged U.S. officials to ensure LGBTQ people are safe during Pride Month. (Washington Blade/Emily Hanna)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) on June 12 sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray to work to ensure LGBTQ people during Pride events.

“Over the last several weeks, your respective agencies and departments have issued stark warnings, and travel advisories to the public over potential threats from foreign terrorist organizations (FTO), and their supporters during this year’s Pride Month,” said Garcia in his letter. “I understand that these steps have come after deeply concerning increases in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, calls for targeted violence, and foiled violent plots.”

The FBI on May 10 issued an advisory that warned of potential violence at Pride events and other LGBTQ-specific events. The State Department on May 17 — the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia — announced a similar warning.

“Ensuring that people can peacefully and safely celebrate Pride and the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community is of utmost importance,” wrote Garcia, a gay man who represents California’s 42nd Congressional District that includes Long Beach.

June 12 also marked eight years since a gunman killed 49 people inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

The massacre at the time was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The gunman pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State, even though there is no evidence that suggests the extremist group ordered him to carry out the massacre. 

“This week marks the eight (sic) anniversary of the horrific Pulse nightclub Orlando shooting — during which the attacker deliberately and viciously targeted the LGBTQ+ community,” wrote Garcia in his letter. “It is important to put the recent escalation of extremist anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda and messaging in the context the Pulse nightclub shooter who was influenced by these same forces of extremism.”

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Southeast Asia

Thai marriage equality bill receives final approval

Country third jurisdiction in Asia to allow same-sex marriages

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(Photo public domain)

BANGKOK — The Thai Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that will extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The measure passed by a 152-130 vote margin with four senators voting against it and 18 abstaining. The Thai House of Representatives in April approved the marriage equality bill, with 400 of 415 lawmakers who participated in the vote backing it.

Taiwan and Nepal are the two other Asian jurisdictions that allow same-sex couples to legally marry.

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Florida

Tampa trans woman qualifies to run for state House seat

LGBTQ activist Ashley Brundage aims to become the first transgender elected official in Florida history as she faces a primary challenge

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HD 65 Democratic candidate Ashley Brundage at the WMNF studio in Tampa on June 14, 2024. (Photo by Mitch Perry/Florida Phoenix)

By Mitch Perry | TAMPA, Fla. – The Florida Democratic Party boasted as candidate qualifying closed Friday that for the first time since the state Legislature flipped red three decades ago, it has a Democrat running for every state House and Senate district.

That includes Hillsborough County’s 65th House District, where Ashley Brundage hopes to make history by becoming the first transgender person elected to serve in Tallahassee.

“While I’m going to be making history on something like me and my personal life, which really has no impact on anything, but what I think is even more history-making is that I used to be the DEI person for PNC Bank and 60,000 employees as their national president of diversity, equity, inclusion,” she said on Friday, speaking on WMNF 88.5 FM radio in Tampa (on a show which this reporter participated in).

Yes, that’s right. If running as a transgender woman isn’t cutting enough against the established conservative grain in Florida politics in 2024, then touting her credentials as the “DEI candidate” certainly is.

“Florida is where DEI goes to die … ,” Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote on X in March, responding to a report that the University of Florida was eliminating all diversity, equity, and inclusion employee positions to comply with new Florida Board of Governors regulations.

That board defines DEI as “any program, campus activity, or policy that classifies individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation and promotes differential or preferential treatment of individuals on the basis of such classification.”

Brundage says her history as vice president of DEI at PNC Bank as well as her work with her own small business, Empowering Differences, which does diversity, equity, and inclusion training for companies, has shown her the benefits of such programs.

“Inclusion also shouldn’t be scary,” she said.

“Because inclusion is literally the opportunity for us to learn and grow as people. And that’s what every program I’ve ever built that had DEI in mind, was an opportunity for someone to learn about a community, and then go and sell more goods and services to make more money from that community,” Brundage continued.

“And that’s what happened when I became a part-time bank teller at PNC Bank while I was homeless, living in Tampa. I showed up on day one and, ultimately, I started building relationships in my community, and I started bringing those people to bank at PNC Bank. Because it wasn’t people they were literally marketing to immediately. So, by them practicing diversity, I became the number-one revenue producing employee for three straight years out of all of the entire bank around the country.”

Representing Tampa

 Rep. Marilyn Gonzalez Pittman via Florida House

House District 65 encompasses most of South and downtown Tampa, as well as a portion of northwest Hillsborough County, and has been held since 2022 by Republican Marilyn Gonzalez Pittman, who succeeded Republican Jackie Toledo.

It’s a seat that breaks down as 39% Republican, 31% Democratic, and 30% NPA (non-party-affiliated) and other third-party registered voters as of Feb. 20, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

Brundage calls those NPA voters “the secret sauce to our win.”

“And the Republicans are scared about that, because they’ve been running on all of these issues that are all about scaring people and hurting our economy long term,” she said, adding that she’s running on issues such as lowering the cost of property insurance, getting the government out of making decisions about people’s bodies, and economic empowerment for small businesses.

Brundage is running in a state not considered friendly to the LGBTQ community, to say the least. Under Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida has been a leader in passing anti-LGBTQ laws. One of those laws, banning minors from receiving gender-affirming health care, was struck down by a federal judge in Tallahassee earlier this week.

The day after that decision, DeSantis predicted in Tampa that the state would win its appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. “This has already been decided by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. They upheld Alabama’s law, which was almost identical to Florida’s law. This will be reversed. There’s no question it will be reversed,” the governor said.

Community award

Brundage received a “Spirit of the Community Award” for her work from the Florida Commission on the Status of Women two years ago. While DeSantis did not attend the awards ceremony in West Palm Beach, he did sign a letter telling her to “keep up the great work!”

Brundage said on Friday that the governor didn’t initially respond to media inquiries about why he had given tribute to a transgendered woman until she announced in April that she was running for a legislative seat and his team responded to the U.K. Daily Mail.

The publication wrote that “a source close to DeSantis told Daily.Mail.com that the commendation was bestowed because the governor’s team was under the impression that Brundage was a biological female. When it was revealed that was not the case, the congratulation letter was removed from the governor’s website.”

Brundage doesn’t believe that. “If he had read the actual nomination before signing the letter, he would have known” about her transgender status, she said.

Brundage is not the Democratic candidate for HD 65 yet, as she faces a primary challenge from Nathan Kuipers in the Aug. 20 primary. Gonzalez Pittman hasn’t drawn an opponent in her primary and will face the winner of the Brundage-Kuipers race on Nov. 5.

Note: Ashley Brundage spoke Friday on WMNF’s “The Skinny” program, for which this reporter is a co-host.

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Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018

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The preceding article was previously published by The Florida Phoenix and is republished with permission.

The Phoenix is a nonprofit news site that’s free of advertising and free to readers. We cover state government and politics with a staff of five journalists located at the Florida Press Center in downtown Tallahassee.

We’re part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.

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The White House

White House reaffirms commitment to advancing LGBTQ+ rights

Jean-Pierre noted how many of the challenges facing LGBTQ youth have dovetailed with the ongoing mental health crisis in America

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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaking to reporters on June 17, 2024 from the White House James Brady press briefing room. (Photo Credit: Washington Blade/Christopher Kane)


WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre began her briefing with reporters on Monday by honoring Pride Month as a time to “reflect on the progress we have made in pursuit of equality, justice, inclusion” and “recommit ourselves to do more to support LGBTQI+ rights at home and around the world.”

She said that while the Biden-Harris administration has taken “historic action” to expand freedoms and protections for the community “since day one,” state legislatures last year filed more than 600 anti-LGBTQ bills, which disproportionately target transgender youth.

Not only are conservative state lawmakers potentially on track to surpass that number in 2024, but Republican members of Congress along with the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, have pledged their support for at least a dozen anti-LGBTQ policies at the federal level.

Jean-Pierre said this administration “is going to continue to speak out and stand up against these attacks,” adding, “as President Biden says, these young [transgender and queer] people are some of the bravest people he knows, but no one should have to be brave just to be themselves.”

The press secretary concluded her opener by discussing the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which provides a “line dedicated to serving LGBTQI+ young people that can be reached by dialing nine eight and pressing three.”

Afterwards, when fielding questions from reporters, Jean-Pierre noted how many of the challenges facing LGBTQ youth have dovetailed with the ongoing mental health crisis in America.

She also addressed a ruling on Monday that blocked the administration’s newly passed LGBTQ-inclusive Title IX rules, which clarify that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is covered by the statute’s language barring sex discrimination in education programs and activities that receive federal assistance.

A Trump-appointed judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana had issued an injunction against the regulations on Thursday, with a handful of Republican state attorneys general promising more legal challenges.

Declining to address specific legal questions that she noted are best directed to the Justice Department, Jean-Pierre stressed the need for students to feel safe and to be treated equally.

“That is why the protections are all about making sure students have equal rights restored,” she said.

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West Hollywood

Q Con Queer comic con returns to WeHo

WeHo Mayor John Erickson & Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers attended the event as Erickson, an admitted comic book nerd, stated this was his favorite

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Q Con West Hollywood 2024. (Photo Credit: Mike Pingel/WEHO TIMES)

By Mike Pingel | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Over 1000 queer comic book fans hit West Hollywood Plummer Park for the third annual Q Con queer comic book convention this past Saturday, June 15, 2024.

The event was hosted in part by Prism Comics, the nonprofit championing LGBTQ+ visibility, diversity, and inclusion in comics, graphic novels, and popular media. The WeHo Pride event had something for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, including LGBTQ+ books, comics, artists, and meet and greets with authors and cosplay personalities.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

This year, Q Con included special appearances by X-Men ’97 voice-over actors Holly Chou (voice of Jubilee in X-Men ‘97), Christine Uhebe (voice of Nina Da Costa), and JP Karliak (voice of Morph from X-Men ’97, available from 11 am – 1 pm only); Gui Agustini (voice of Sunspot), and Morla Gorrondona (voice of Lilandra). The actors participated in meet and greets and signed autographs.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

There was also a surprise appearance by actor Kevin Caliber, who starred in the movie Surge of Power, which screened at the event. Many may recognize Caliber from his role as Superman in the movie Superman World War. He also appeared in the TV shows Supergirl and Futureman.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

The event was larger than in previous years, with more exhibitors on display at the West Hollywood Recreation Center. The expanded programming included comics creators, cosplayers, panels, gaming, photo opportunities, and comics portfolio reviews by comics professionals for aspiring comics creators.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

Creators at the event included David Booher (Killer Queens, Ghostbusters), A.C. Esguerra (Eighty Days), Sina Grace (Superman: The Harvests of Youth), Sam Maggs (Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas), Knave Murdock (Transcat), Josh Trujillo (Blue Beetle), William O. Tyler (We Belong), Shannon Watters (Lumberjanes, Hollow), Kendra Wells (Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas), Qweerty Gamers, and more.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

Special guests at the Prism Comics table included Tim Sheridan (DC Pride Through The Years; Superman: Man of Tomorrow), Rex Ogle (Free Lunch, Northranger; Four Eyes), Lee Dawn (We Are Frogs), and animated voice actress Valerie Rose Lohman.

West Hollywood Mayor John Erickson and Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers attended the event to show their support. Mayor Erickson, an admitted comic book nerd, stated that this was his favorite programming in the entire WeHo Pride Arts Festival.

The event concluded with a cosplay costume contest. The Joker took first prize, followed by the Green Lantern and an Anime character.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

Prism Comics:

Prism Comics is a nonprofit championing LGBTQ+ visibility, diversity, and inclusion in comic books, graphic novels, and popular media.

Founded in 2003, Prism Comics is “LGBTQ+ Comics Central” at San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon Anaheim, Los Angeles Comic Con, other conventions, and online, providing a safe, welcoming community for LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+ friendly comics creators, readers, librarians, educators, and families. Prism has helped foster many comics creators who have become major voices in comics and graphic novels.

For more information, please visit prismcomics.org and @prismcomics.

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Mike Pingel

Mike Pingel has written six books, Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels & Angelic Heaven: A Fan’s Guide to Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman, The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy after all these years; Works of Pingel and most recently, Betty White: Rules the World. Pingel owns and runs CharliesAngels.com website and was Farrah Fawcett personal assistant. He also works as an actor and as a freelance publicist. His official website is www.mikepingel.com

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Research/Study

63% of LGBTQ+ people have faced employment discrimination

The report’s findings also show 70% of LGBTQ+ people feel lonely, misunderstood, marginalized, or excluded at work

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LGBTQ+ Federal Employees of the U.S. Dept. of Labor gather to mark Pride Month outside the headquarters building in Washington D.C.. (Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Labor)

WASHINGTON -A newly released report on the findings of a survey of 2,000 people in the U.S. who identify as LGBTQ says 63 percent of respondents have faced workplace discrimination in their career, 45 percent reported being “passed over” for a promotion due to their LGBTQ status, and 30 percent avoid “coming out” at work due to fear of discrimination.

The report, called “Unequal Opportunities: LGBTQ+ Discrimination In The Workplace,” was conducted by EduBirdie, a company that provides s professional essay writing service for students.

“The research shows basic acceptance remains elusive,” a statement released by the company says. “Thirty percent of LGBTQ+ people are  concerned they will face discrimination if they come out at work, while 1 in 4 fear for their safety,” the statement says. “Alarmingly, 2 in 5 have had their orientation or identity disclosed without consent.”

Avery Morgan, an EduBirdie official, says in the statement, “Despite progress in LGBTQ+ human rights, society stigma persists. Our findings show 70% of LGBTQ+ people feel lonely, misunderstood, marginalized, or excluded at work, and 59% believe their sexual orientation or gender identity has hindered their careers.”

According to Morgan, “One of the biggest challenges businesses should be aware of is avoiding tokenism and appearing inauthentic in their actions. Employers must be genuine with their decisions to bring a more diverse workforce into the organization.”

The report includes these additional findings:

• 44% of LGBTQ people responding to the survey said they have quit a job due to lack of acceptance.

• 15% reported facing discrimination “going unaddressed” by their employer.

• 21% “choose not to report incidents that occur at work.”

• 44% of LGBTQ+ workers feel their company is bad at raising awareness about their struggles.

• Half of LGBTQ+ people change their appearance, voice, or mannerisms to fit in at work.

• 56% of LGBTQ+ people would be more comfortable coming out at work if they had a more senior role.

At least 32 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The EduBirdie report does not show which states participants of the survey are from. EduBirdie spokesperson Anna Maglysh told the Washington Blade the survey was conducted anonymously to protect the privacy of participants.

The full report can be accessed here.

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United Nations

UN Women calls gender-criticals an extremist anti-rights movement

The UN has an important role to play to combat international disinformation regarding LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender individuals

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The United Nations headquarters buildings in New York City. (Washington Blade/Michael K. Lavers)

By Erin Reed | NEW YORK – In an announcement for Pride Month, UN Women—the United Nations entity responsible for global women’s issues—announced that anti-rights movements are on the rise across the world with respect to LGBTQ+ people.

The organization highlighted steps being taken in several countries to target transgender people, women, and LGBTQ+ people with overtly discriminatory policies and restrictions. UN Women also explicitly called out several movements as “anti-rights,” including the “gender-critical” movement, which frames women’s rights as being in opposition to transgender people.

On June 11th, UN Women took to social media to sound the alarm on the surge of anti-LGBTQ+ movements, which have been fueled by a 50% funding increase over the past decade. The UN’s arm for global women’s issues highlighted how these anti-rights movements are gaining traction worldwide, notably those trying to pit trans rights against women’s rights. “Some try to frame the human rights of transgender people as being at odds with women’s rights, for instance, asserting that trans women pose a threat to the rights, spaces, and safety of cisgender women,” the announcement stated.

However, such assertions have no factual basis; transgender people are often the most at risk in such spaces, and hate-fueled rhetoric from these movements can increase that risk.

Security Council Open Debate: “Women, Peace and Security: Towards the 25th Anniversary of 1325.” (Photo Credit: UN Women/Ryan Brown)

Perhaps most impactful, though, is the full report released alongside the announcement. In the report, UN Women explicitly calls out the “gender-critical” movement, which has infamous adherents such as J.K. Rowling, as being an extremist “anti-rights” movement similar to “men’s rights activism” in rhetoric:

There is a long tradition in which anti-rights movements frame equality for women and LGBTIQ+ people as a threat to so-called “traditional” family values. Movements encompassing “anti-gender”, “gender-critical”, and “men’s rights” have taken this to new extremes, tapping into wider fears about the future of society and accusing feminist and LGBTIQ+ movements of threatening civilization itself

Anti-rights movements have pushed for overtly discriminatory policies and restrictions on essential services, and even for the criminalization of people based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

Currently, the “gender-critical” movement is most active in the United Kingdom. Recently, Conservative Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch revealed that members of the movement were put in key health positions to produce the Cass Review, a report that resulted in broad-scale attacks on transgender youth and their medical care in the country. Similarly, the U.K. is currently grappling with attempts to promote conversion therapy of transgender youth, ban trans people from bathrooms that align with their gender identity, and exclude trans women from women’s hospital wards.

In the United States, Republican candidates and legislators have latched onto similar language, passing “Women’s Bills of Rights” that contain little regarding women’s rights but instead target transgender women’s access to bathrooms and seek to end legal recognition of transgender people altogether. Notably, these legislators and the organizations that push the bills often oppose many other women’s rights issues, such as reproductive healthcare access, abortion rights, and generous paid family leave.

The move to declare “gender-criticals” an anti-rights movement is a notable one. In recent years, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Reem Alsalem, has supported “gender-critical” issues and been praised by supporters of the movement for doing so.

Notable actions taken by Alsalem include opposing Biden’s Title IX policies for transgender youth in the U.S. and the World Health Organization’s support for self-determined gender identity. In these policies, Alsalem explicitly frames women’s rights and the safety of women’s spaces as being in competition with transgender inclusion.

Alsalem has also historically shared content from far-right, anti-LGBTQ+ organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom International, which has promoted anti-LGBTQ+ policies globally.

The United Nations has an important role to play in the coming years to combat international disinformation regarding LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender individuals. SPLC-designated hate organizations such as the Society for Evidence in Gender Medicine and Genspect have gained power and operate in multiple countries to oppose transgender rights. Victories obtained in one country are then used as justification to get other countries to follow suit.

In the U.S., they are likewise used in court fights and legislative hearings over transgender rights. The UN’s move signals that such international attacks on transgender people may be beginning to be recognized by one of the world’s most important international organizations, and that recognition could be the most crucial step toward combating further attacks.

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

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

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Orange County

Anaheim neighbors show solidarity after Pride flag vandalism

The man walks over to the Pride flag- he pulls out a knife and slashes through the flag, then rips the flag and pole down

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Screenshot/KABC 7 Eyewitness News

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Neighbors in the Colony Park neighborhood of Anaheim are raising LGBTQ+ Pride flags on their homes in a show of solidarity and allyship after a same-sex couple’s Pride Flag was torn off their house and slashed.

KABC 7 reported that Jake Nolan and his partner Jon had just put the flag up a few days ago. When they say it on the ground at first they thought perhaps the wind had torn it down.

But when they looked at their doorbell camera they saw something much more disturbing.

In the video, two men are walking along Water Street this past Saturday around 2 a.m. when one of them walks over to the Pride flag in front of the couple’s home. He pulls out a knife and slashes through the flag, then rips the flag and pole down.

In an interview with KABC 7 reporter Leanne Suter, describing the incident documented in the doorbell cam: “They used the f word – the slang term – and said not in my hood, not in my neighborhood,” Jake said. “We’ve lived here for years. There are other same-sex couples who have been here for decades. It’s like, no, this is our neighborhood.”

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NBC News reported that over twenty acts of hate against LGBTQ+ Pride have occurred so far this month nationwide.

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During Pride month every June, Stonewall National Monument volunteers put up 250 LGBTQ+ Pride Flags on the Black iron decorative picket fence that rings the Christopher Street park.

This year, according to a statement from an New York Police Department spokesperson, 160 of the flags were torn down and damaged between Thursday evening and Friday morning. The NYPD said that no arrests have been made and that the vandals climbed over the Black iron decorative picket fence that rings the Christopher Street park to gain access to the monument.

This is the second year in a row for an vandalism incident on the Stonewall National Monument. In 2023, Park volunteers found at least 70 of those flags torn down and damaged in what the New York Police Department‘s Hate Crimes Task Force investigated as a hate crime and later arrested three men.

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U.S. Federal Courts

LGBTQ Title IX protections blocked in six more states

Chief Judge Danny Reeves of the U.S. District Court blocks Biden Title IX rules, says ‘sex,’ ‘gender identity’ not the same thing

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

By McKenna Horsley | LEXINGTON, Ky. – A federal judge has blocked new Title IX rules, including those aimed at protecting LGBTQ+ students from discrimination in K-12 schools, and sided with Republican attorneys general in several states — including Kentucky. 

Chief Judge Danny Reeves of the U.S. District Court in Eastern Kentucky on Monday issued a ruling siding with Republican Attorney General Russell Coleman and his counterparts in five other states. The ruling prevents the U.S. Department of Education from “implementing, enacting, enforcing, or taking any action to enforce the Final Rule, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance,” which was set to begin Aug. 1. 

Kentucky Attorney General Russell Coleman (Kentucky Lantern photo by Mathew Mueller)

Coleman and the GOP attorneys general filed the lawsuit in April. At the time, they argued the Department of Education “used rulemaking power to convert a law designed to equalize opportunities for both sexes into a far broader regime of its own making” with the new Title IX regulations. 

Reeves limited the injunction to the plaintiff-states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Biden administration introduced the rules to “build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access schools that are safe, welcoming, and respect their rights,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. The rules also would have rolled back Trump administration changes that narrowly defined sexual harassment and directed schools to conduct live hearings, allowing those who were accused of sexual harassment or assault to cross-examine their accusers.

President Joe Biden with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

In their complaint, the state attorneys general said that under the Biden rule, “Men who identify as women will, among other things, have the right to compete within programs and activities that Congress made available to women so they can fairly and fully pursue academic and athletic excellence — turning Title IX’s protections on their head. … And anyone who expresses disagreement with this new status quo risks Title IX discipline for prohibited harassment.” 

Established in 1972, Title IX was created to prevent “discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance,” according to the Department of Education.

Reeves wrote in his opinion that “the Department of Education seeks to derail deeply rooted law” created by the implementation of Title IX. 

“At bottom, the Department would turn Title IX on its head by redefining ‘sex’ to include ‘gender identity.’ But ‘sex’ and ‘gender identity’ do not mean the same thing,” he wrote. “The Department’s interpretation conflicts with the plain language of Title IX and therefore exceeds its authority to promulgate regulations under that statute.” 

In a press release, Coleman’s office said Monday that schools that would fail to comply with the new rules would risk losing federal funding. Citing the Department of Education, the office said Kentucky’s public and private schools received a total of $1.1 billion in federal funding last year.

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“As a parent and as Attorney General, I joined this effort to protect our women and girls from harm. Today’s ruling recognized the 50-plus years of educational opportunities Title IX has created for students and athletes,” Coleman said in the press release. “We’re grateful for the court’s ruling, and we will continue to fight the Biden Administration’s attempts to rip away protections to advance its political agenda.”

A spokesperson for the department said it was reviewing the ruling.

“Title IX guarantees that no person experience sex discrimination in a federally-funded educational environment,” the spokesperson added. “The Department crafted the final Title IX regulations following a rigorous process to realize the Title IX statutory guarantee. The Department stands by the final Title IX regulations released in April 2024, and we will continue to fight for every student.”

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McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia, and Frankfort, Kentucky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.

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The preceding story was previously published by the Kentucky Lantern and is republished with permission.

The Kentucky Lantern is an independent, nonpartisan, free news service based in Frankfort a short walk from the Capitol, but all of Kentucky is our beat.

We focus on how decisions made in the marble halls of power ripple through the lives of Kentuckians. We bring attention to injustices and hold institutions and officials accountable. We tell the stories of Kentuckians who are making a difference and shine a light on what’s working. Our journalism is aimed at building a fairer, healthier Kentucky for all. 

Kentucky Lantern is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.

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