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Don’t let Katie Hill’s abuser steal her legacy

Congress loses a champion of progressive causes

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Katie Hill, gay news, Washington Blade

Valerie Ploumpis (Los Angeles Blade photo by Karen Ocamb)

I glanced at my phone as I left the gym on Sunday night and my heart dropped. Rep. Katie Hill (CA-25) had just announced her resignation.

Hill is one of the good ones. She went into politics for all the right reasons. She seemed to be good at it, too — quickly climbing the ladder of leadership in the House and developing a strong bond with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Who knows — she could have been Speaker herself one day.

So, let’s be clear about what Hill’s vindictive, abusive husband has attempted to steal from her — the would-be Congressional legacy of a 32-year old bisexual woman who was a powerful advocate for social justice, the environment, and clean government. Like too many LGBTQ leaders before her, Hill’s time in office was cut short because her gender and sexual orientation made her a target.
I, for one, refuse to let him succeed and prefer to remember her service to our community instead:

A champion for the LGBTQ community

Katie Hill was California’s first openly LGBTQ congresswoman. She was notably forthcoming and open about her bisexuality in a district where some political consultants would have urged her to hide it.

“Since I pass as heterosexual, I could have just not addressed that in my campaign, and I was advised not to” but “I decided to be open about it. It’s part of who I am,” she said. “It’s important to be a voice for a community that I think is so underrepresented.”

Co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, Hill stepped up in a big way for our community to advance the Equality Act by forcefully rebutting absurd claims that transgender women would somehow “take away” athletic scholarships and Olympic medals from cisgender women.

“Are you kidding me?” Hill challenged her Republican colleagues on the House floor. “Through my work on the issue of homelessness, I saw trans women disproportionately affected by discrimination at every stage of their lives…I can tell you that no trans person is trying to game the system to participate in sports. And that is a sad scare tactic that has no place on the floor of the People’s House. … You, my colleagues, are on the wrong side of history. And we will be waiting for you on the other side.”

A champion for those experiencing homelessness

Just prior to being elected, Hill served as Executive Director of People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), which, during her tenure, grew into California’s largest non-profit provider of permanent housing for thousands of homeless people. In just her first nine months in Congress, she led a bipartisan, bicameral effort aimed at persuading President Trump to drop his Administration’s policies aimed at slashing or eliminating funding altogether for public housing: “Let us be clear: policing and criminalizing your citizens won’t end homelessness. In fact, providing housing-insecure individuals with supportive housing is significantly less expensive than sending them to jail or an emergency room.”

A champion for the environment

Hill, an ardent advocate for cleaner air, water and a non-toxic food supply, defeated Steve Knight, a Republican who earned a three-percent lifetime score on the League of Conservation Voters’ National Environmental Scorecard. She campaigned on the transition to 100 percent clean energy and addressing the climate crisis with passion, advocating for the closure of the Aliso Canyon Oil Field and an end to the building of new fossil-fueled power plants. She authored a letter to the president demanding that any renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) include strong, binding climate standards and that the U.S. reenter the Paris Climate Agreement.

She fought for the environment because she was a Millennial who knew that her generation — and the generations that come after her — will have to deal with the consequences of climate change, even if her older colleagues do not.

A champion for women and girls

Hill is a powerful voice for the vital healthcare services provided by Planned Parenthood and other health clinics that serve the most marginalized members of our communities. She fought for women’s health care on military bases, worked to pass stronger equal pay legislation and advocated for comprehensive sexual health education for students.

A champion for healthcare

Hill has long fought to increase Californians’ access to comprehensible affordable, healthcare. Of particular concern to the freshman Congresswoman was Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act — the nondiscrimination clause that addresses health disparities for the LGBTQ community, people of color, those seeking reproductive care and especially transgender patients who might otherwise be unlawfully denied the care they need or forego seeing a doctor entirely for fear of discrimination.

As she promised in her emotional announcement video, Katie will “take up a new fight” against cyber exploitation — or “revenge porn,” as some call it — so that her experience cannot be used “to scare off other young women or girls from running for office.” I have every confidence in her leadership on this issue – cyberbullying of LGBTQ young people in particular is a terrible and growing epidemic that too often leads to devastating consequences.

While her voice and representation in Congress will be missed, and our country will never know what she could have achieved there if given the time, Hill shattered glass ceilings. I have no doubt she will go on to shatter many more – and support more women and LGBTQ folks who seek to shatter their own.

 

Valerie Ploumpis is National Policy Director for Equality California and Silver State Equality.

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Homophobia wins in the Puerto Rico Senate

Bill to ban conversion therapy died in committee

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[Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

By Alberto J. Valentín | It is a sad day for Puerto Rico, and it is a sad day for human rights on the Caribbean island.

Last Thursday, 11 senators decided to turn their backs on children and human rights in Puerto Rico. A new Senate majority proved to be weak and on the wrong side of history, again. Eight senators from the legislative committee reviewing Senate Bill 184 to ban conversation therapy on the island voted against the bill’s report.

Today, thanks to these senators, any mental health professional can freely charge a father for “curing” his son of homosexuality or of a gender identity/expression that does not conform to social standards of “normality.” Although there has been an executive order in Puerto Rico banning conversation therapy since 2018, this order is only applicable to health institutions that have a specific connection with the government. Executive orders state mandatory requirements for the Executive Branch and have the effect of law; however, any governor can revoke them.

Senators received scientific evidence and several testimonies from LGBTQIA people who testified during public hearings. These senators also received evidence of permanent depression and suicide attempts caused by conversion therapy. However, 11 senators decided to condone hate and the intolerance towards the LGBTQIA youth on the island. One of these senators, Wanda Soto, said during one of the public hearings that “… with love anything is possible … ” in reference to her belief that kids’ sexual orientation and gender identity can be changed or cured. This senator even compared a bad personal experience with a dentist she had when she was a kid with LGBTQIA opponents’ testimonies of their experiences of going through conversion therapy.

Suicide and depression rates among LGBTQIA youth are staggering and are the highest in the entire United States compared to other reasons. These indices are a direct consequence of the intolerance, discrimination and lack of validation that our society perpetuates. LGBTQIA youth go through difficult times in their lives, including personal and family acceptance that trigger years of depression and anxiety among LGBTQIA people.

Today again, hatred wins. Today, Puerto Rico demonstrates why it is the number one jurisdiction for hate crimes in the entire United States. Today again, these 11 senators make evident why gender-based crimes continue to dominate local headlines. Today these senators are an example of the ignorance and lack of cultural competence that persist in our island. Today, these senators will be responsible for the depression and the stigma that the LGBTQIA community will continue to suffer. Today these senators are responsible for perpetuating intolerance. We take a step back as a society, demonstrating again that we cannot tolerate those who are different and who do not meet our standards of normality.

Neither the tears of Gustavo nor Elvin or Caleb, who presented their testimonies before the Puerto Rico Senate, were enough to move the hearts of these senators. The hypocritical hugs and words of support that some senators gave to these LGBTQIA people after their testimony and personally meeting them make it much harder to understand how they turned their backs on our children. Today these 11 senators are responsible for perpetuating hate crimes on the island and make our path to be a more inclusive society even harder.

Homophobia won in the Puerto Rico Senate last Thursday. There was no difference when the pro-statehood Senate majority defeated SB 1000 (banning conversion therapy) back in 2018 and now with a new majority lead by the Popular Democratic Party. Different senators, different bills, same result, but the same homophobia. Many Puerto Rican voters believed that furthering human rights would be easier to achieve on the island with a new majority in the legislature. Unfortunately, the reality is that our legislature is just a mirror of our society, and the lack of cultural competence persists among us. But we will keep fighting; this is a single lost battle, a battle among many others yet to come.

These are the 11 senators who voted against SB 184 or didn’t vote:

  1. Sen. Rubén Soto – Against
  2. Sen. Ramón Ruiz – Against
  3. Sen. Albert Torres – Against
  4. Sen. Ada García – Against
  5. Sen. Wanda Soto – Against
  6. Sen. Marissa Jimenez – Against
  7. Sen. Joanne Rodríguez – Against
  8. Sen. Thomas Rivera – Against
  9. Sen. José L. Dalmau – Absent
  10. Sen. Marially González – Absent
  11. Sen. Javier Aponte – Absent
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Commentary

Happy Mother’s Day

The publisher, editor, and staff of the Los Angeles Blade wishes all of the mother’s a very happy mother’s day and thank you for all that you do.

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The publisher, editor, and staff of the Los Angeles Blade wishes all of the mother’s a very happy mother’s day and thank you for all that you do.

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Rich privilege on full display- Hannity interviews Jenner and it wasn’t pretty

Vox journalist Aaron Rupar live tweeted the show, capturing some of the arguably worst of the discourse with Jenner.

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LOS ANGELES – Fox News pundit and anchor Sean Hannity interviewed realty television star Caitlyn Jenner on his show Wednesday evening and it frankly was a hot mess.

Jenner, who announced a week ago that she’s running to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom in the likely recall election this Fall, gave Hannity her take on issues that was Trumpian and clueless to outright enraging at times.

Vox journalist Aaron Rupar live tweeted the show, capturing some of the arguably worst of the discourse with Jenner pontificating on subject matters that she clearly doesn’t have a firm grasp of.

For instance, on California’s homeless crisis: Jenner said: “My friends are leaving California. My hangar, [ Jenner is a pilot and has her own aircraft ] the guy right across, he was packing up his hangar and I said, where are you going? And he says, ‘I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona, I can’t take it anymore. I can’t walk down the streets and see the homeless'”

Jenner again disparages Trans youth athletes: Jenner explains that she’s opposed to transgender girls playing sports against other girls. But then in the next breath she says she wants to be a role model for transgender girls.

“Forest management is extremely important” Jenner’s comments about wildfires reminded Rupar of former President Trump’s clueless remarks.

Next she claims, well take a listen yourself:

This next part is rich. “You’re pro *legal* immigration” — Sean Hannity puts words in Caitlyn Jenner’s mouth when she talks about immigration. Jenner responds by saying, “sorry, did I miss the legal part? Thanks for catching me. You’ve got my back, Sean, I appreciate that.”

Then there’s her take on trains. Jenner wonders why high speed rail is needed between LA and SF since people can just fly

Then she muses that Trump did a better job than Biden is doing which is completely vapid and devoid of substance

Mercifully it ended…

I reached out to a Trans activist of note for comments on the Hannity interview, who angrily asked why I would consider giving Jenner any more oxygen.

I explained that sadly in the toxic world of Republican politics circa 2021 in a post-Trump presidency world there are those right wing extremists who will hold Jenner up as an ‘authority-figure’ and as a spokesperson for Trans people, and worse will cite Jenner as an example.

Jenner needs to be marginalized, people need to hear loudly and clearly that she absolutely does not speak for the LGBTQ+ community and that her bigotry towards young Trans people is harmful and dangerous.

While Jenner’s candidacy and ‘policy’ positions may well be perceived as a joke, what does need to be taken seriously is her ongoing attacks on the Trans youth who just want to participate in sports.

Electing not to comment the activist agreed.

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