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Bipartisan group of lawmakers introduce bills to protect transgender servicemembers

U.S. Reps Speier, Kennedy among those spearheading House Resolution 1032

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U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) is among the bipartisan group of lawmakers who introduced bills on Feb. 7, 2019, that would protect transgender servicemembers.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers on Thursday introduced bills that would allow openly transgender people to enlist in the military and protect trans servicemembers who are already serving.

U.S. Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Anthony Brown (D-Md.) introduced House Resolution 1032 in the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) introduced an identical bill in the U.S. Senate.

The lawmakers introduced the bills less than three weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court essentially allowed President Trump’s ban on trans servicemembers take effect. Speier and U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) are among those who invited trans servicemembers to attend Tuesday’s State of the Union Address as their guests.

“Our transgender servicemembers put their lives on the line every day despite an ill-advised edict from the president,” said Speier in a press release. “This bill makes it clear to our brave transgender troops that we see them and that we honor the risks they take and sacrifices that they and their families make for the safety of our country. It’s also solid common sense. The president’s ban is not only hateful and un-American, it harms military readiness and morale and ultimately makes our country less strong.”

Gillibrand, who is among the Democrats who have announced they are running for president in 2020, agreed.

“President Trump’s ban on transgender service members is discrimination, it undermines our military readiness, and it is an insult to the brave and patriotic transgender Americans who choose to serve in our military,” said Gillibrand in a statement, noting the heads of all five military branches have spoken publicly in support of trans servicemembers in the armed forces.

“We should end this discriminatory ban for good and ensure our transgender service members can continue to do their jobs, serve with dignity, and protect our country,” she added. “That’s what our legislation would do, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to fight with me to overturn the president’s cruel and unnecessary ban, respect the transgender troops who are willing to die for our country, and pass this bipartisan bill now.”

Advocates welcomed the bills.

“No qualified service member or recruit should be denied the opportunity to serve their country because of their gender identity,” said Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. “A bipartisan chorus of members of Congress and an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s transgender troop ban. This legislation would help ensure that transgender service members and enlistees are respected and protected under the law.”

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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.”

Watch:

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

related

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.

related

“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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Los Angeles County

LA County Public Health: Mpox cases rise & data privacy breach

Ten new Mpox cases reported in Los Angeles County in past two weeks cause concern as agency reels from a successful phishing attack

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Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Public Health Director, L.A. County (Screenshot/LA County Channel)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is alerting residents and health care providers about a concerning increase in mpox cases, with 10 new cases reported in Los Angeles County in the past two weeks up from an average of less than two cases per week during the preceding several weeks.

Mpox (previously referred to as Monkeypox) is mainly spread through close contact with body fluids, sores, shared bedding or clothing or respiratory droplets (kissing, coughing, sneezing). Symptoms include rash or unusual sores that look like pimples or blisters on the face, body and genitals, fever, chills, headache, muscle aches or swelling of lymph nodes. Early detection, testing and vaccination are vital to controlling the spread of this disease and protecting the health of Los Angeles County residents.

Given the recent increase in cases, Public Health strongly recommends the following actions:

Testing: Anyone who develops symptoms consistent with mpox, such as rash, fever or swollen lymph nodes should seek medical attention and get tested. Health care providers should be aware of the possibility of mpox and promptly report suspected cases to Public Health for appropriate testing and interventions.

Prevention: Vaccination is a safe way to prevent one from getting mpox and may also reduce symptoms. The following can help reduce the risk of getting and spreading mpox:

  • Ask partners if they have mpox symptoms or feel sick. Individuals should not have sex or other intimate contact if they or their partners have a new or unexplained rash or sores or feel sick until they see a health care provider.
  • Reduce the number of partners, especially those whose recent sexual history is unknown.
  • Make a habit of exchanging contact information with any new partner to allow for sexual health follow-up, if needed.
  • Limit going to sex parties, circuit parties and other spaces where people are having sex or other intimate contact with multiple people.
  • Use condoms and gloves:
    • Condoms (latex or polyurethane) may protect the mouth, penis anus or vagina from exposure to mpox; however, condoms alone may not prevent all exposures to mpox since the rash can occur on other parts of the body.
    • Gloves (latex, polyurethane or nitrile) may reduce exposure if inserting fingers or hands into the anus or the vagina. The gloves must cover all exposed skin and be removed carefully to avoid touching the outer surface.
  • Do not share towels, clothing, bedding, fetish gear, sex toys or toothbrushes.
  • Wash hands, fetish gear, towels and bedding. Sex toys should be washed after each use or sex act.

Vaccination: Vaccination is an important tool in preventing the spread of mpox. Jynneos is a two-dose vaccine developed to protect against mpox, and getting both doses provides the best protection against mpox. The vaccine is available to anyone, and individuals who identify with any of the following subgroups are highly encouraged to get vaccinated:

  • Any man or transgender person who has sex with men or transgender persons
  • Persons of any gender or sexual orientation who have sex or intimate physical contact with others in association with a large public event or engage in commercial and/or transactional sex
  • Persons living with HIV, especially persons with uncontrolled or advanced HIV disease
  • Sexual partners of people in any of the above groups

People in high-risk groups are urged to get fully vaccinated with two doses for the best protection. Second doses can be given no matter how long it’s been since the first dose. Residents can choose to receive the mpox vaccine subcutaneously (in the upper arm) or intradermally (under the skin on their arm or back). Vaccine boosters are not recommended at this time.

Public Health is collaborating closely with health care providers, community organizations and other stakeholders to address the mpox resurgence as swiftly and effectively as possible. Enhanced surveillance, contact tracing and outbreak investigations are underway to identify potential sources of the infection and prevent further transmission. Public Health’s mobile vaccination units are providing free vaccination at numerous Pride events this season, Public Health’s sexual health clinics found at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/chs/sexualhealthclinics/ and other walk-up vaccine clinics can be found at https://myturn.ca.gov/.

A collective response is crucial in mitigating the impact of this outbreak. By increasing vaccination rates, the spread of mpox can be minimized within Los Angeles County to protect the health and well-being of its diverse communities.

For the most up-to-date information and resources, please visit ph.lacounty.gov/mpox or contact the Public Health Call Center at 1-833-540-0473.

Public Health Responds to Privacy Breach

Between February 19, 2024, and February 20, 2024, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health experienced a phishing attack in which a hacker was able to gain log-in credentials of 53 Public Health employees through a phishing email, compromising the personal information of more than 200,000 individuals.

Upon discovery of the phishing attack, Public Health disabled the impacted e-mail accounts, reset and re-imaged the user’s device(s), blocked websites that were identified as part of the phishing campaign and quarantined all suspicious incoming e-mails. Additionally, awareness notifications were distributed to all workforce members to remind them to be vigilant when reviewing e-mails, especially those including links or attachments. Law enforcement was notified upon discovery of the phishing attack, and they investigated the incident.

The information identified in the potentially compromised e-mail accounts may have included DPH clients/employees/other individuals’ first and last name, date of birth, diagnosis, prescription, medical record number/patient ID, Medicare/Med-Cal number, health insurance information, Social Security Number, and other financial information.

Affected individuals may have been impacted differently and not all of the elements listed were present for each individual.

Public Health is notifying impacted individuals by mail. For individuals where a mailing address is not available, Public Health is also posting a notice on its website to provide information and resources. Public Health is also notifying the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights and other agencies as required by law and/or contract.

In response, Public Health has implemented numerous enhancements to reduce exposure to similar e-mail attacks in the future.

While Public Health cannot confirm whether information has been accessed or misused, individuals are encouraged to review the content and accuracy of the information in their medical record with their medical provider. To help relieve concerns and restore confidence following this incident, we have secured the services of Kroll, a global leader in risk mitigation and response, to provide identity monitoring for one year at no cost to affected clients.

Additionally, affected individuals should review “Steps You Can Take to Protect Against Identity Theft and Fraud,” to help protect their information.

Individuals that would like to inquire if their information was impacted can contact the following established dedicated call center available toll free in the U.S. at 1-866-898-4312, from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time (excluding weekends and major U.S. holidays).

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World

Out in the World: LGBTQ+ news from Europe & Asia

LGBTQ+ news stories from around the globe including Georgia, Poland, Lithuania, Greece, France, Pakistan & Singapore

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GEORGIA

The co-director of Tbilisi Pride, Anna Subeliani. (Photo Credit: Tbilisi Pride/Facebook)

TBILISI, Georgia – The organization that holds Pride events in the Georgian capital Tbilisi has announced it is cancelling all physical Pride festivities this year, in light of an increasingly hostile environment promoted by the Georgian government ahead of elections this fall. 

Tbilisi Pride says in a statement posted to Facebook that they will focus their efforts instead on reaching hearts and minds, with a hope of defeating the government and ending restrictive legislation in the October election.

“We anticipated that the summer before the 2024 parliamentary elections would be filled with physical violence encouraged by the government and rhetoric filled with hate and hostility,” the statement says.

“Now, after ‘Georgian Dream’ adopted the Russian-style law on ‘foreign agents’ and announced a hate-based anti-LGBTQ legislative package alongside constitutional changes, we are even more confident in our decision. We are demonstrating the highest civic responsibility and recognize that the fight for queer rights today is inseparable from the broader people’s struggle against the Russian-style regime. This fight will inevitably end in favor of the people on October 26!

“We will use the coming months to bring the message of queer people to more hearts than ever before! We will explain to everyone that homophobia is a Russian political weapon against Georgian society, against the statehood of Georgia! We are patriots of this country and will always and everywhere be where our homeland calls us!”

The U.S. government slapped visa restrictions on members of the Georgian government in response to actions taken to undermine democracy in the post-Soviet nation, just as the government announced a sweeping package of anti-LGBTQ legislation it intends to pass ahead of fall elections.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told a June 6 press conference in Washington, DC that the government had slapped sanctions on “between two and three dozen” individuals who were “responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Georgia, such as by undermining freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, violently attacking peaceful protestors, intimidating civil society representatives, and deliberately spreading disinformation at the direction of the Georgian Government.”

Citing U.S. privacy law, Miller refused to name any individuals who had been sanctioned. He added that this was considered a “first tranche” of sanctions.

Georgia has been rocked with protests for weeks in response to the “foreign agents” law, which requires media and civil society groups to registers as agents of a foreign power if they receive funding from abroad. 

The law was passed by the ruling Georgian Dream Party, vetoed by the President who is a member of the opposition, and then passed with a veto override on May 28.

Modelled after a similar law in Russia, the law is meant to undermine the credibility and actions of bodies that are critical of the government and has drawn fierce criticism from Georgia’s allies in the US and European Union.

Georgia was recognized as a candidate country from EU membership this year, but EU leaders have warned that the law undermines European values and threatens membership negotiations.

At the same time, the Georgian government has introduced a package of anti-LGBTQ legislation also modelled after Russian laws, which it is hoping will fire up its base and divide the opposition ahead of fall elections.

Under the package of laws, the state would be forbidden from recognizing any relationship other than heterosexual relationships, restrict adoption to married heterosexual couples and heterosexual individuals, ban any medical treatment to change a person’s gender and require that the government only recognize gender based on a person’s genetic information, and ban any expression or organization promoting same-sex relationships or gender change.

The bills are meant to be introduced in parliament before the end of the summer session in July, and the government plans to hold a vote on it ahead of elections scheduled for October.

POLAND & LITHUANIA

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. (Photo Credit: Government of Poland)

WARSAW, Poland – Bitter fights are emerging over civil union legislation in the governing coalitions that run Poland and Lithuania, with left-leaning parties insisting on improving the legal rights of LGBTQ couples and families, while more conservative parties want to maintain the status quo.

In Poland, that’s led to protracted negotiations to get a draft civil unions bill introduced, long after Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s original promise to have the law in place within his first hundred days in office. Tusk was sworn in as prime minister in December.

Tusk’s coalition includes his own centrist Civic Platform party, as well as the left-leaning Left party, and the more conservative Poland 2050 and Polish People’s Party (PSL), the latter of which mostly opposes recognizing same-sex couples. The coalition agreement left out any mention of civil unions.

The ambitious civil union bill aims to be an ‘all-but-marriage’ type of union, complete with adoption rights, which has drawn the ire of the PSL. Negotiations within the coalition have focused on finding a way to get the PSL on board but have so far proved fruitless.

The opposition parties are even more hostile to LGBT rights and are not expected to support the bill in any form.

Regardless, Equalities Minister Katarzyna Kotula, who comes from the Left party and has been spearheading the bill, has given the coalition a deadline of the end of June to come to agreement. Failing that, she says she’ll introduce the bill without government support, although that will likely doom it to fail.

A last-ditch negotiation among the coalition partners is expected to take place June 17.

Tusk has struggled to introduce other promised social reforms since taking office. A promised hate crimes and hate speech bill has yet to be introduced. In March, the president, who comes from the conservative opposition Law and Justice Party, vetoed a bill to legalize the morning-after contraception pill.

President Duda has not yet revealed if he will veto a civil union bill. The coalition does not have a+ three-fifths majority in parliament to override a veto. 

Lithuanian MP Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, is a Lithuanian liberal politician, Member of the Seimas, and LGBTQ+ rights activist
(Photo courtesy of Lithuanian MP Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius)

In neighboring Lithuania, tensions over a long-stalled civil union bill erupted into a dispute between coalition partners this week.

The left-leaning Freedom Party has threatened not to support the nomination of Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielias Landsbergis to the post of European Commissioner, given his party’s lack of support for the civil union bill that awaits a third a final vote in parliament.

The dispute has spilled a lot of ink in Lithuanian press, with the coalition partners debating whether or not the threat was appropriate in the circumstances.

Lithuania heads to the polls in October for parliamentary elections. 

GREECE

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaking to reporters at an EU press conference in early 2024. (Photo Credit: Office of the Greek prime minister/Greek government)

ATHENS, Greece – After his party took a drubbing in EU elections last weekend, Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says he is going to pause pushing forward new LGBTQ rights legislation, suggesting the new priority is changing minds rather than laws. 

Mitsotakis announced his surprise support for same-sex marriage and adoption rights last year after clinching reelection, and his government passed a marriage bill in February.

But in last week’s EU elections, his party’s support dropped nearly 5 percentage points, while the more radical far-right Greek Solution and the anti-LGBT conservative NIKI party collectively gained about 10 percentage points. 

Mitsotakis himself speculated to Bloomberg TV that the new same-sex marriage and adoption law passed this year alienated his party’s traditionally conservative base.

Greece is already one of the highest-scoring countries on ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Map Index, thanks in large part to reforms that Mitsotakis himself ushered in. In addition to same-sex marriage and adoption, his government has banned conversion therapy, banned unnecessary surgeries on intersex children, and set up a National Strategy for the Equality of LGBTQI+ People.

Queer activists in Greece were still calling on the government to facilitate legal surrogacy and automatic parental recognition for same-sex couples, and a simplified process for trans people to update their legal gender.

FRANCE

Pope Francis is greeted by the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron.
(Photo Credit: Office of the President of France/French government)

PARIS, France – The far-right National Rally party is campaigning on restricting LGBTQ rights in snap parliamentary elections, with prime minister candidate Jordan Bardella supporting restrictions on surrogacy and IVF for same-sex couples.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced snap parliamentary elections after his party’s poor showing in the European Parliamentary elections last weekend. National Rally won the most votes in that election and is polling strongly ahead of the June 30 first-round vote. However, French elections are run in a two-round system, and National Rally often fails to win second-round votes as voters coalesce around a less unappealing compromise candidate to block them.

In the past, National Rally has campaigned strongly against LGBTQ rights, especially same-sex marriage, but they appear to have conceded that marriage equality is settled law.

While campaigning ahead of the EU elections, Bardella appeared on the French television show Le Grand Oral, where he reiterated his opposition to surrogacy. 

Bardella also bitterly opposed Macron’s 2019 law which finally allowed lesbians to have access to in-vitro fertilization. 

He told local television at the time, “There is no right to having children. Children have a right to have a father and a mother and this law creates children without fathers.”

National Rally’s opposition to same-sex parenting mirrors that of Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, under whose watch the Italian government has stripped parental recognition from same-sex couples and imposed criminal penalties on Italians who conceive children via surrogacy.

The first week of the truncated election has taken a number of surprising turns. The mainstream right-wing party, The Republicans, has been in turmoil since its president announced his party would consider a coalition with the National Rally, which led party members to oust him and an embarrassing schism where he barricaded himself in the party headquarters and took over the party’s social media.

And in a bit of news that may be a little on-the-nose, the National Rally has nominated a man named Guillaume Bigot as their candidate in Belfort in northeastern France.

PAKISTAN

Atheist Republic/Los Angeles Blade graphic

ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan – A Pakistani man was apparently committed to a mental hospital after he attempted to open a gay bar in Abbottabad, Pakistan this month.

The man, whose identity has not been disclosed, had apparently hoped to open the country’s first gay bar in the city of 250,000 people, about 75 miles north of Islamabad. 

Abbottabad is best known in the west as the city where Osama bin Laden was found and killed by US Forces in 2011.

According to The Telegraph newspaper, the man had applied to open “Lorenzo Gay Club,” which he described in his application to civic authorities for a “No Objection Certificate” as a “great convenience and resource for many homosexual, bisexual and even some heterosexual people residing in Abbottabad in particular, and in other parts of the country in general.”

The application, dated May 8, also insisted that “”there would be no gay (or non-gay) sex (other than kissing)” and that a notice would be posted on the wall to warn against “sex on premises.” 

The applicant describes the club as “a matter of the basic human right of free association, as established in the constitution.”

Gay sex is illegal in Pakistan, which is an officially Islamic republic. A conviction would carry up to two years in prison, but the law is rarely applied as it is difficult for anyone to be openly gay in the strictly conservative country.

The application sparked considerable debate online, after a copy of the application was released to the local media. The application seen in the Pakistan Observer is signed by a Preetum Giani, but it is not clear if that is the applicant or a representative.

According to The Telegraph, the man was committed to the Sarhad Hospital for Psychiatric Diseases in Peshawar on May 9, and friends have been unable to reach him since. Friends who spoke to the newspaper say they are worried about his safety, but also worried for their own safety if they speak out.

The Telegraph also reports that far-right politicians in Pakistan had threatened violence and arson against the club if it had been allowed to open. 

The applicant had previously told the paper that he believed it was important to stand for human rights, and that he would defend the right to open the club in the courts, in hopes that Pakistan’s courts would follow neighboring India’s lead, where gay sex was decriminalized in 2018. 

SINGAPORE

Singaporean LGBTQ+ rights activist Rev. Miak Siew, with Judy & Dennis Shepard in Singapore, May 2024. (Photo Credit: Rev. Miak Siew/Facebook)

SINGAPORE – A new Ipsos poll has revealed a slight majority of Singaporeans support laws banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination, and support legal recognition of same-sex couples and adoption. 

The poll found that 54 percent of respondents agreed that same-sex couples should have the right to marry, and 57 percent agree they should have the right to adopt, compared to only 25 percent who oppose same-sex marriage and 30 percent who oppose same-sex couple adoption rights.

On both questions, a large number of respondents were unsure or had no opinion. 

An even larger number of respondents supported anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said that LGBTQ people should have discrimination protections in employment and housing, although only 40 percent supported legislation to that effect, while 20 percent opposed it, and another 40 percent were unsure. 

There are no specific anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people in Singapore.

The poll found strongest support for LGBTQ rights among younger respondents as compared to older generations.  

Two years ago, Singapore repealed a colonial-era law that criminalized gay sex. But at the same-time, parliament also amended the constitution to require parliamentary approval for same-sex marriage. 

These poll numbers may indicate that eventual legalization could be possible.

Global LGBTQ+ news gathering & reporting by Rob Salerno 

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Maine

Hundreds pack Portland, Maine for annual Pride parade

The city of Portland held it’s annual Pride parade and festival on Saturday, with hundreds turning out to celebrate LGBTQ+ rights

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Spectators watch the Portland Pride Parade on Congress Street on June 15, 2024. (Jim Neuger/Maine Morning Star)

By Lauren McCauley | PORTLAND, Maine – The city of Portland held it’s annual Pride parade and festival on Saturday, with hundreds turning out to celebrate LGBTQ+ rights.

Pride month is observed throughout June, with parades, festivals, drag shows and other events across much of Maine. Photographer Jim Neuger captured some of the parade’s participants and onlookers as the marchers wove their way down Congress Street, culminating at the festival in Deering Oaks Park.

Marchers carry a 900-foot flag down Congress Street at the end of the Portland Pride Parade. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

Participants in the Portland Pride Parade head down Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

A participant in the Portland Pride Parade on Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

A participant in the Portland Pride Parade on Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

A participant in the Portland Pride Parade on Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

Participants in the Portland Pride Parade head down Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

A Portland school system bus heads down Congress Street during the Portland Pride Parade. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

Participants in the Portland Pride Parade ride a trolly car down Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

Participants in the Portland Pride Parade on Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

A participant in the Portland Pride Parade on Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

Participants in the Portland Pride Parade on Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

A man watches the Portland Pride Parade from a second-story window above Reny’s department store on Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

Participants in the Portland Pride Parade on Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

Spectators watch the Portland Pride Parade on Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

Members of the Portland Dance Collective perform during the Portland Pride Parade on Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

A participant in the Portland Pride Parade on Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

Portland Pride Parade heads down Congress Street. [These may be the grand marshals; need to check names.] June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

A member of the Dykes on Bikes motorcyhcle group leads the Portland Pride Parade down Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

Rylee Knight twirls a flag before marching in the Portland Pride Paradeon Congress Street. June 15, 2024. Photo: Jim Neuger

In a state that led the way in the fight for same-sex marriage — becoming the first to pass a law by statewide referendum in 2012 — many participants this year focused on the need to protect the rights of trans people, who have become the target of a nationwide, right-wing backlash.

On Tuesday, some of the movement’s pioneers held a conversation at the Equality Community Center in Portland, during which they reflected on some of the lessons they learned over the years and discussed how they could help guide future efforts to protect and advance equal rights.

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Lauren McCauley

Lauren McCauley is the editor of Maine Morning Star. She has covered politics and policy in Maine for more than 10 years and is the former editor of Maine Beacon.

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The preceding article was previously published by the Maine Morning Star and is republished with permission.

Maine Morning Star is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan news site covering state policy and politics — and how they impact the lives of Maine people. We aim to hold powerful people and institutions accountable and explain how their actions affect communities from Kennebunk to Caribou.

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

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