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Will Trump Live-Tweet the HRC/CNN LGBTQ Democratic presidential town hall?

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Last March, outgoing Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin announced that the HRC Foundation was co-hosting an LGBTQ-focused 2020 Democratic presidential forum with UCLA on Oct. 10, the day before National Coming Out Day. But HRC was quietly in talks with CNN about the prospect of the national cable channel broadcasting the in-depth examination of LGBTQ issues by top notch reporters and presidential candidates.  On Sept. 4, HRC announced the partnership deal with CNN, which necessitated a venue change to The Novo at LA Live to accommodate the live CNN broadcast.

Everything changed.

There’s the historical aspect, of course. No similar LGBTQ-focused political event has ever been broadcast to a such a wide audience. HRC Foundation has hosted two other such forums—one in 2004 that included eventual Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry and The Visible Vote ’08 forum on August 9, 2007 in Los Angeles that was broadcast on cable by forum co-host LOGO. This one made national news briefly, and included the top two Democratic contenders New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

But Twitter did not exist then and most people subscribed to a sense of civility and common decency in public spaces. Now the President of the United States uses Twitter to vent about personal vendettas. In fact, Donald Trump has been effusive in his hatred for both CNN and out gay anchor Don Lemon, who most likely will be one of the moderators of the HRC/CNN town hall.

That raises a whole host of other questions. Will Trump Live-Tweet his responses to his potential Democratic opponents? Will his fans? Will CNN set up a monitored chat-room for their live-stream, including on CNN en Español? Will pro and anti-Trump demonstrators make news protesting outside the venue, as well?

The HRC/CNN LGBTQ Democratic presidential town hall at LA Live has the potential to expose LGBTQ people and issues to the world, as well as the ongoing homophobia and LGBTQ hatred from Trump and his white supremacist supporters.

And then there is the event itself. Entitled Power of Our Pride, individual candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination and the opportunity to directly challenge Donald Trump will be sequentially asked about their beliefs about and plans for the LGBTQ community.

Six of the 10 candidates who have made the Democratic National Committee debate stage have confirmed their participation: former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Sec. Julian Castro and Senators Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

But while Buttigieg may be gay and the other candidates may have LGBTQ friends and staff and may support the Equality Act, it is questionable that they realize that LGBTQ voters are still officially second-class citizens, the extent to which LGBTQ immigrants and asylum seekers are often brutally victimized, and may reference the epidemic of murders of black transgender women but do not know any black trans woman other than Laverne Cox and Janet Mock.

“For nearly 40 years, the Human Rights Campaign has fought to realize a world in which LGBTQ people are safe, equal and free in every aspect of our lives,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a press release. “Today, at a time when our most basic civil rights and democratic values are under attack, our work has never been more urgent. We are eager to hear from this field of Democratic presidential candidates about how they plan to win full federal equality, defend the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people, and protect the most vulnerable among us — both here in the United States and around the globe — from stigma, institutional inequality, discrimination, and violence.”

David added: “This town hall comes at a critical time in our fight to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people (LGBTQ) in this nation. Today, in 30 states, LGBTQ people remain at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services because of who we are. Thirty-five states have yet to ban the dangerous and debunked practice of ‘conversion therapy,’ which is harming our young people. Hate crimes are rising, and more than 100 transgender people — most of whom are transgender women of color — have been killed in the United States in the last five years. Although the federal government should be protecting all residents, the Trump-Pence Administration is directly attacking our community by banning transgender troops from serving our country openly, undermining health care services for people living with HIV, and seeking to erase LGBTQ people from protections under law.”

The structure is still being worked out but it looks like it will basically follow the format CNN has used for other town halls. A CNN person will moderate with the individual candidates following one after another for perhaps up to four hours. The moderator will ask questions and there may be a CNN reporter introducing video packages about particular issues then asking a question from the audience.

Perhaps the most interesting questions will come from invited audience members. CNN will no doubt have editorial quality control over the questions to ensure they meet broadcast standards—ie, the questions are not laced with profanity—and to be able to proper and succinctly introduce the questioner. But since this is a partnership, HRC will no doubt look for people and questions that tell stories and best articulate the LGBTQ dilemma to try to elicit the best response from the candidates.

And the LGBTQ vote is no joke. HRC estimates a minimum of 10 million LGBTQ voters nationwide—in addition to what HRC says are the millions of “pro-equality” voters—parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, and allies whose vote might make a difference in the Democratic primaries, including California’s delegate rich primary on Super Tuesday.

“In 2018, LGBTQ voters cast ballots in higher numbers than the general population. LGBTQ voters cast more than 7 million ballots in all — a turnout of roughly 70 percent, compared to a turnout of 49 percent among the general population — and comprised 6 percent of the entire electorate,” HRC said in a press release.

Which raises another question: will Trump try to Tweet-tout his re-election endorsement from the Log Cabin Republicans during the HRC/CNN town halls to try to win over some LGBTQ and “Equality” voters? Or will the temptation to Twitter-smear CNN and Don Lemon prove more powerful than wanting to win?

The culture wars are about to engage in one of its most public battles for the hearts and minds of fair-minded voters.

 

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Illinois

Illinois high school investigates ‘anti-queer’ bathroom survey

A group of students calling themselves the ‘Anti-Queer Association’ had circulated the so-called survey

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Anna-Jonesboro Community High School (Photo Credit: Anna-Jonesboro Community High School)

ANNA, Il. – An unofficial student survey that made the rounds at the Anna-Jonesboro Community High School located in the Southern tip of Illinois last week has the local LGBTQ+ community angered and LGBTQ+ students alarmed.

A group of students calling themselves the ‘Anti-Queer Association’ had circulated the so-called survey that asked: “Yes, I want queers to go in the bathroom,” or ” No, I don’t want queer kids to go to the bathroom with us normal people.”

Screenshot courtesy of NBC-affiliate, WPSD-TV 6, Paducah, Kentucky

Rob Wright, the superintendent told NBC News affiliate WPSD 6 News that school administrators found out about the survey this past Wednesday.

“We began investigating. We’re still investigating. At this point in time, I really can’t give any information regarding any individuals or discipline measures,” said Wright. “But, I can tell you that this type of harassment is taken very seriously and will not be tolerated. And once the investigation is complete, the appropriate discipline will take place where warranted.” 

The Rainbow Café LGBTQ Center in neighboring Carbondale, Illinois, responded to the survey, “My understanding is that it was an association that was brought upon the students and a parent that’s cosigning for it that made the Anti-Queer Association, basically trying to repeal the Keep Youth/Children Safe Act,” Michael Coleman a member of the Cafe’s board of directors told WPSD. “Basically stating that we are supposed to have inclusive bathrooms for those who are transgender or non-binary or non-conforming,” he added.

Coleman also told the station that bullying, harassment and discrimination of any kind is not tolerated.

Noting that the high school’s LGBTQ+ students are feeling alarmed and that there are no safe spaces, He said that the message he wanted to convey to those students is to let them know they have a safe space available with his organization. He also shared a message to those responsible for the survey.

“Come to Rainbow Cafe. We offer a plethora of resources and training,” he said. “I’m actually the one that does all of the training for different local agencies, schools. We do training on an individual basis as well, so you know, I like to tell people: If you don’t know something, learn it. Don’t spew hate about it because you don’t understand something.”

“They really feel very unsafe in that environment in Anna-Jonesboro and that they felt that nothing was going to get done,” Coleman said. “That by us taking that stand, that initiative, they really feel like it’s not going to happen anymore.”

Superintendent Wright said to WPSD that “he is personally disappointed that this happened at the school.” The station asked Wright if the staff at the Anna-Jonesboro Community High School will provide counseling to the LGBTQ+ and other students affected. His response was that the school has always had counseling and other resources available to students.

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Ohio

Akron, Ohio non-profit gears up to assist LGBTQ+ young adults

“Although there’s a nondiscrimination ordinance for LGBTQ+ people in Akron, he says that Ohio still has a long way to go for LGBTQ+ rights”

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Giovonni Santiago (Photo courtesy of META Akron Facebook page)

AKRON, Oh. – The Motivate, Educate, Transform and Advocate (META) Center has provided support to Northeast Ohio trans and gender-nonconforming youth from ages 7 to 19 since 2016. Now, Giovonni Santiago, the founder of the Akron, Ohio, based nonprofit, is gearing up to support people in their 20s. 

Santiago started the group to “create social change and foster acceptance” by providing housing coordination, legal advocacy, emotional support and community outreach, reports the Akron Beacon Journal

“Sometimes, it’s just allowing people to have a place to go,” Santiago told the Beacon Journal. “It’s like they don’t need to have a conversation. They just need a safe place.”

“I do this work because I want other people to live their life authentically,” he said.

Santiago says that parents who see their child “expressing differently than society would say they should” seek his help.

“A parent might say, ‘Well, my daughter likes to play with trucks’… and it’s not just a one-time thing,” he told the Beacon Journal. “It might be nothing, and it might be something.”

“We want them to know that’s not a bad thing,” he said. “We want people to feel valid with who they are.”

Although META is based in Akron and does much of its work in Northeast Ohio, Santiago says his group has a national impact, helping approximately 200 people a year, according to the Beacon Journal.

“It entails support groups, one-on-one peer support with myself, we send out care packages after individuals have gender-affirming surgery, we offer a clothing closet, so we send clothing to individuals who need clothes,” he said. 

Santiago, who is also the Northeast Ohio organizer for Equality Ohio, knows first-hand the struggle that trans kids face, as he too is a trans man.

“As trans people, the journey is not just ours,” he told the Beacon Journal. “It affects our families, it affects our friends. It affects everyone.”

According to the Beacon Journal, he entered the U.S. Air Force during the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military era. After his Air Force service, Santiago earned a degree in early childhood education and began teaching preschool.

At 27, Santiago began his medical transition at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2013. He tells the Beacon Journal that he was the doctor’s first trans patient.  

“I was born female, and knew that I belonged in a male body,” he said. “So, I tell people that I’ve been transitioning, and I’ve been transitioning for eight years.”

Santiago is a highly regarded LGBTQ organizer. According to the newspaper, he was named one of Cleveland Magazine’s Most Interesting People and honored by NBC Out in 2018.

Although Santiago helped establish a nondiscrimination ordinance for LGBTQ+ people in Akron, he says that Ohio still has a long way to go for LGBTQ+ rights. Santiago added that nearby Cleveland is “No. 4 on the list for where Black trans women are murdered.”

“We’ve always been here, but we’ve had to live in fear,” he said. “Even now in Ohio, there are zero protections for LGBTQ people”

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Virginia

Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate opposes marriage equality

The Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center categorized as an extremist anti-LGBTQ hate group has endorsed Youngkin

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Glenn Youngkin (Blade file photo)

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – Glenn Youngkin in an interview with the Associated Press has reiterated his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Youngkin—a Republican who is running against Democrat Terry McAuliffe to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam—said in an interview published on Friday that he feels “called to love everyone.” Youngkin then reiterated his opposition to marriage equality before he added it is “legally acceptable” in the state. “I, as governor, will support that,” Youngkin told the AP.

McAuliffe was Virginia’s governor from 2014-2018. Same-sex couples began to legally marry in Virginia a few months after McAuliffe took office.

McAuliffe in 2014 became the first governor of a Southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding. The lesbian couple who McAuliffe married recently appeared in one of his campaign ads.

McAuliffe on Friday criticized Youngkin. “As governor, I worked my heart out to keep Virginia open and welcoming to all,” said McAuliffe in a tweet. “This type of bigotry and intolerance has no place in our commonwealth.”

The Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has categorized as an extremist anti-LGBTQ hate group, earlier this month endorsed Youngkin, but Log Cabin Republicans are among the groups that have backed his campaign.

The Human Rights Campaign in 2019 named Youngkin’s former company, the Carlyle Group, as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index.

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