June 10, 2019 at 1:37 pm PST | by Karen Ocamb
Are Democrats taking LGBT voters for granted?

Black Trans rally at LA City Hall on May 24. (Photo by Melanie Chapman via UWC)

San Francisco is considered one of America’s safest havens for LGBT people to be themselves. But in the early morning of June 2, two unidentified gay young Democrats left a bar near the Moscone Center after a day at the California Democratic Convention and were called homophobic slurs and attacked. The 21-year-old, who was beaten until bloody, was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released.

San Francisco Police caught the suspect, Griffin Murray, 27, who was cited for two counts of misdemeanor battery and released. The SFPD is investigating the attack as a hate crime.

“Homophobia has no place in our communities, not in San Francisco, not anywhere. We stand with these two victims and we look forward to an appropriate response from local authorities that sends a strong signal to the public that this behavior is unacceptable and illegal, for the safety of our entire community,” said Tiffany Woods, newly elected co-chair of the California Democratic Party LGBT Caucus.

“I join the CDP LGBTQ Caucus and Democrats everywhere in strongly condemning the violent attack on two Democratic LGBTQ activists in San Francisco on Saturday,” newly-elected CDP Party Chair Rusty Hicks said in a statement to the Bay Area Reporter. “Violence motivated by hate and homophobia is particularly repulsive, and we must all speak out for safer communities and stand with the survivors today.”

But while Hicks is considered a strong LGBT ally, his statement is found nowhere else. Additionally, the CDP apparently made no similarly strong statements condemning the epidemic of Black trans murders— seven deaths so far this year. The body of the latest victim, Chynal Lindsey, 26, was found Saturday, June 1, in White Rock Lane, Dallas, according to TransGriot blogger Monica Roberts.

Last November, the Human Rights Foundation called the 26 murders of trans women in 2018 a “national epidemic.” Recently, on May 24, a coalition of trans activists and allies rallied at Los Angeles City Hall to serve as “examples of unyielding resiliency,” said organizer Chela Demuir, Founder and CEO of Unique Woman’s Coalition, who also promoted the National Trans Visibility March in Washington DC on Sept. 28. 

“The Trump administration announced Friday morning sweeping changes to the rules protecting transgender people from discrimination in health care. Combined with an announcement earlier this week ending gender identity protections in homeless shelters, the administration has now taken steps to exclude transgender people from almost every aspect of public life, including employment, housing, health care, education, prisons, and the military. We are being legally obliterated,” Demuir said.

Also being ignored by mainstream Democrats are the human rights violations against trans asylum seekers. Johana “Joa” Medina Leon, 25, an HIV-positive trans asylum seeker from El Salvador, died June 1 in a Texas hospital after being released from the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Trans refugees and asylum seekers are now being held in male ICE detention centers because the sole unit for trans detainees at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico is past capacity. 

Trans and LGBT issues were mentioned at Equality California’s “Pride and Politics” reception kicking off the convention. Reps. Katie Hill, Mark Takano and Eric Swalwell, a presidential contender, talked to the 1,000 LGBTQ and allied audience about the Equality Act and President Trump’s discriminatory ban on transgender military service, Equality California Communications Director  Samuel Garrett-Pate told the Los Angeles Blade. Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and members of the LGBTQ Caucus also talked about “California’s leadership in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights and the our efforts at the state level to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and violence — all LGBTQ people, including trans folks, LGBTQ people of color and immigrants and asylum seekers.”

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders was scheduled to appear but a young staffer impolitely said Sanders would be a no-show during the speaking program.

Sanders did show at the CDP’s LGBT Caucus, as did Sen. Amy Klobachar, another presidential candidate. Neither was scheduled to appear.  

“The LGBT Caucus did reach out to Mayor Pete [Buttigieg, out presidential candidate] to come and speak,” Woods tells the Los Angeles Blade. “However, he was unavailable, attending fundraisers in SF. No member of his team asked to come and speak. Very disappointing, as we had several LGBT Caucus members request we reach out to ask us to invite him.” 

Also surprising: the CDP website only lists support for “federal workplace protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity” and “nondiscrimination for the LGBT community in all aspects of their lives, including housing, employment, healthcare, family and adoption.”

There is no specific support of the Equality Act, passed by the House as #5 on Speaker Pelosi’s Top 10 list of priorities.

The Los Angeles Blade also reviewed the CDP’s 195-page packet of proposed resolutions and found “LGBT” (or related) in 11 Resolutions, with two being redundant and one from Stonewall Democratic Club about LGBT asylum seekers.

According to newly elected LGBT Caucus Co-Chair Lester F. Aponte, president of Stonewall Democrats, only 10 resolutions are passed at each convention. They included support for the Green New Deal and ending the federal cannabis ban. But no Equality Act. One LGBT resolution “on which former LGBT Co-Chair Evan Minton was very involved” did make the cut, however, Aponte said.  Resolution 19-05.142 “relates to proposed partnerships between UC hospitals and Dignity Health, the catholic chain of hospitals that requires its hospitals to apply religious teachings to their care by, for instance, refusing treatments to transgender individuals.” 

LGBT Democrats have always been reliable as ATMs, volunteers and voters. When will the CDP’s reciprocal actions match their words?

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