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Gay conservatives defend Buttigieg; Bloomberg slams Bernie Bros

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If you’re not a super fan of MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace, you might have missed it. But mid-afternoon the day after the New Hampshire primary, gay “Never Trumper” Republican strategist Tim Miller told fans of “Deadline White House” one of the most significant missed points of the previous night after former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulled ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the all-important delegate count.

“I think that a lot of times people here in New York don’t maybe give the appreciation that is deserved for how ridiculously amazing and astounding it is that an out, married, gay man is leading the delegate race,” Miller said.

Emblematic of the American divide, the day after that, on Feb. 12, recent Medal of Freedom recipient and longtime anti-LGBTQ conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh posited a spiteful scenario using the same image.

Chumming up crude and rude stereotypes during his commentary on the Democratic presidential candidates, Limbaugh concocted a scenario of voters looking at Buttigieg on a debate stage going toe-to-toe with his fantasy macho man, Donald Trump.

“You’ve got Fauxcahontas way back there in the background barely out of the tepee bringing up the tail end,” Limbaugh said, referring to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. “Biden’s gone. So you’re faced with a dyed-in-the-wool socialist who’s not even a Democrat [and] a gay guy, 37 years old, loves kissing his husband on debate stages,” Limbaugh said, referring to former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Buttigieg, respectively, while getting Mayor Pete’s age wrong – he’s 38. “Can you see Trump have fun with that?”

Limbaugh was having too much fun to let Buttigieg go. “Then they’re sitting there, and they’re looking at Mayor Pete, a 37-year-old gay guy, mayor of South Bend, loves to kiss his husband on the debate stage. And they’re saying, ‘OK, how’s this gonna look, a 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband onstage next to Mr. Man Donald Trump? What’s gonna happen there?'”

“They gotta be looking at that,” Limbaugh continued, “They’ve gotta be saying that despite all the great progress and despite all the great ‘wokeness’ and despite all the great ground that’s been covered, America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage president. They have to be saying this, don’t they?”

Gay conservative Guy Benson also chimed in.

And on Valentine’s Day, Benson posted a love tweet to his husband.

Actually, gay Republican Tim Miller addressed the Buttigieg point after the Iowa debacle. “The Iowa Democrats’ epic fail robbed not only Mayor Pete, but all of us, of a rare moment of progress and shared joy in a political era that almost seems like it’s designed to deny us those things,” he wrote in The Bulwark. “Buttigieg’s success in the lead-off caucus wasn’t just about Mayor Pete or his supporters—it was a moment for gay and lesbian Americans across America. And they deserved a moment to revel in it. Mayor Pete was poised to be the first gay person to ever win a delegate for a major party presidential nomination and he was about to do it in startlingly strong fashion.”

And as Mayor Pete closed his speech that night in Iowa, the crowd chanted “Chasten! Chasten!”— a point missed by vaunted anchors more interested in whether Buttigieg had declared victory.

“But while our jaded political class missed the significance of Mayor Pete’s moment, Iowans got it. Say what you will about the state being unrepresentative, white, and bland—but the same voters who horsetraded in high school gyms Monday night were the catalysts for Barack Obama’s campaign and among the first activists to fight for gay marriage in their state,” Miller wrote. “Many of them saw this as another opportunity to be on the front end of a something.”

Something they dare not dream. “The idea of a married gay man winning the Iowa caucuses? Absurd,” Miller wrote.  “As it turns out, it wasn’t absurd at all, the absurdity was the caucus process itself.”

On Sunday, Buttigieg made the rounds dissing Limbaugh.

And now Nevada – another debate stage; another caucus on Saturday. Will Buttigieg and his husband kiss? Will Limbaugh and others chill now that Trump has named Fox contributor and out gay ambassador Ric Grenell as his Acting Director of National Intelligence? In 2012, Grenell was one of the gay Republicans who came out in support of marriage equality.

Eric Bauman, former out chair of the California Democratic Party, notes that the real surprise about Buttigieg’s performance is how well he did in the rural areas. But he also cautions that caucuses are akin to the Electoral College, where one candidates may have more popular votes – but it’s the delegate count that matters.

“Some candidate has to get nearly 2000 delegates in order to be nominated at the party’s convention in Wisconsin,” he tells the Los Angeles Blade. “When you look at Iowa, it is true that Bernie Sanders appears to have won a clear victory — but he won it by 2%. This is a state that he won against Hillary Clinton by 22%, and so he won but he didn’t win by the margin that they probably expected they were going to win by. Buttigieg ultimately did better than anybody expected him to.”

And while much attention was conferred upon Sen. Amy Klobuchur after her New Hampshire debate performance, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has taken up much of the air time now that he’s qualified for the Las Vegas Democratic debate.

“When you look at the exit polls from New Hampshire, the late deciders went to Buttigieg, some went to Klobuchar, a very limited number went to Sanders,” Bauman says. “The obvious big losers were my good friend, Uncle Joe [Biden] — I’m heartbroken to see him do so poorly because he’s a such a good man. And Elizabeth Warren has got to be devastated that in state that’s right next to her state – where senators from Massachusetts usually do so well — she came in fourth.”

But, Bauman adds, “the simple fact is that Iowa and New Hampshire have virtually nothing to do with anything that happens in the rest of the race for Democrats because the places that are significant for Democrats are states where the population is diverse.”

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, in particular, has to do well in Nevada and South Carolina. “Biden has been, in many, many ways, the biggest loser of the first two states, all the way around,” says Bauman.  “There was an air of invincibility about him that caused candidates to not even get in the race and that veneer is gone. Now he looks totally punctured. That does not mean that African American voters in South Carolina and union and Latino voters in Nevada won’t come out for him.”

He noted that the Las Vegas culinary workers union announced a major campaign against Sanders at the Nevada caucuses because they feel Sander’s Medicare for All plan would cost them their health care and the quality of health care that they have now.

“As with so many unionized workers in so many kinds of jobs, when money was short, what did they negotiate for in lieu of raises from their employers was increased benefits. And now, the so- called Cadillac Plans are in the sight of Medicare for All – they will lose that level of plan. There’s not an option that allows them to keep it,” says Bauman who’s also a registered nurse and healthcare expert.

Bloomberg “has a ton of major endorsements in California,” ahead of Super Tuesday, Bauman notes. “I think that Nevada and South Carolina will have a bigger impact here than people realize.”

And, he says, “Bernie Sanders will have a big reach in California. The thing that is going to be interesting to see is whether or not he can grow his vote. The question is: where are all the other candidates?

Bauman thinks most voters are still candidate-shopping. “Most voters are not paying attention to every twist and turn in the campaigns,” he says. “Most voters are following it superficially. They know they want to vote. They know they want to get rid of Trump. They know that there are issues that matter. But their level of engagement in the election is very different than people who are activists, who have an intense interest in it. The Sanders supporters tend to be pretty engaged — they have to be. That’s the very nature of how their campaign lives.”

And therein lies a hard question: though Sanders has unequivocally said he would support the Democratic nominee, if it’s not him – his supporters have not made such a pledge. Additionally, the Bernie Bros appear uncontrollable such as flushing Twitter with nasty comments about Buttigieg after his Iowa delegate victory cause #MayorCheat to trend.

Since 2016, anyone who criticizes Sanders or media professionals who write about his opponents without sufficient praise for Sanders have been attacked and harassed by Bernie Bros. The most recent example is the attacks on highly regarded leaders of the Nevada Culinary Union after the union’s refusal to endorse any candidate and criticized Sanders’ Medicare For All policy.

“He cannot afford to have another major organization  release a statement like that of the culinary union’s secretary treasurer, who wrote on Twitter: ‘It’s disappointing Senator Sanders’ supporters have viciously attacked the Culinary Union & working families in NV simply because we provided facts on proposals that might takeaway what we have built over 8 decades,’” Jessica Tarlov wrote in The Hill. “What’s more, it hasn’t stopped. The spokeswoman for the culinary union received calls from people telling her that she is a ‘f—ing whore,’ a ‘bitch’ and an ‘ignorant dumb f–k.’ This type of behavior from Sanders’s supporters is not the stuff that wins elections.”

It’s not just public political figures or mainstream journalists who experience the Bernie Bro swarm.

After posting a story on Equality California’s endorsement of Buttigieg, the Los Angeles Blade’s Facebook page was hit by a deluge of nasty, mocking posts – one of which was very informative.

“Just know we have a formidable army of people online now ready to strike at anyone and anything trying to stop this working class movement. Welcome to the revolution. Welcome to your Nightmare on Elm Street.”

Sanders deplored the sexist Bernie Bros in 2016  and apologized to women on his 2016 presidential campaign who alleged they were sexually harassed. He also apologized for an op-ed in which a surrogate said Biden has a “big corruption problem.”

A Bloomberg ad that premiered on Monday highlights Bernie Bro tweets, memes and hashtags like #BernieOrElse and “Vote Bernie or bad things will happen.”

The ad also featured a now-familiar threat: “Libs who are flirting with Bloomberg now should be aware that they are going on lists. Next time they pretend to care about racism or sexual harassment or really anything other than money and power, we will remember what they were doing right now and we will remind everyone.”

“Senator Sanders and our senior campaign team have a clear and unambiguous message for all our supporters. We believe in having a dialogue based on respect for all participants and strongly condemn any speech that is demeaning or derogatory,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a national co-chairman of Sanders’ presidential campaign, told The Daily Beast. “What our party and nation need now is less division and polarization and more healing. I implore all of Senator Sanders’ supporters to live up to the high principles by which Senator Sanders has conducted his life in public service.”

Meanwhile, as politicos tune into Nevada and South Carolina, California politics are looking to Super Tuesday.

“For LGBTQ people and our allies, the 2020 presidential election will be the most important election of our lives,” Eddie Martinez, executive director of the Latino Equality Alliance, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “We’ve seen Trump’s administration repeatedly pushed for policies that would open the door back to discrimination in housing, for trans people, and more under the guise of religious liberty. For queer people of color, the intersectional issues of social, economic and environmental justice will be on the table for all candidates to address in the golden state. To win in California, candidates must address those issues.”

“Super Tuesday will tell for Warren. Most people I know in California are voting for her!” political consultant and grassroots organizing strategist Torie Osborn tells the Los Angeles Blade. “No idea how she’ll do, but I’m keeping hope alive that she’ll kick ass in California and Texas – where the Castro brothers are working hard for her – and she’ll surge again in all 12 states March 3 as I think she’s the best possible candidate.”

Politicos are organizing on the ground, trying to explain the voting process to new voters – independents and people registered in parties other than Democrat or Republican – can vote in the open Democratic primary but they must specifically ask for a Democratic ballot to be able to vote. The Republican primary is for GOP registered voters only.  Early vote-by-mail started on Feb. 3.

“While Stonewall has not yet taken a position on the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, we are watching the process with great interest,” Jane Wishon, Political Vice President of the Stonewall Democratic Club, tells the Los Angeles Blade.

“It’s difficult to determine what, if any, impact the New Hampshire primary will have on the diverse voters who comprise the California electorate, especially considering that Nevada and South Carolina voters will also weigh in before March 3rd,” she continues. “More than 300,000 Californians have already voted in the March 3rd primary. While replacing Donald Trump remains the highest priority, we urge all eligible voters to participate, not just in the presidential election, but on every race up and down the ballot.”

“California has always voted on its own terms. As the most progressive and diverse state in the nation, the candidate we have always supported has been reflective of California Values,” Mark Gonzalez, the out chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party tells the Los Angeles Blade. “California voters are watching, but likely won’t be swayed by what’s happening in other states. Obviously that changes as candidates suspend their campaigns.”

The biggest donkey in the proverbial Democratic room is multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

“Mayor Bloomberg has a great infrastructure here in LA and is spending a lot of money to get his name out there,” says Gonzalez. “With the focus on money in politics, he’s going to have to work hard to explain to Democratic voters that his money is in the best interest of Democratic Party values and defeating Donald Trump.”

There is more and more talk about a brokered convention as Sanders gains momentum but may not have really expanded his base as the moderates collectively assert themselves.

“We’ll see what happens,” says Gonzales. “With the new DNC Rules on Superdelegates, it’s going to have an affect across the board. In the end, Democratic voters will make the best choice to take on the president in November.”

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U.S. Federal Courts

Lawsuits against Ohio State over sexual predator sports doctor tossed

“The judge just threw 300 survivors in a trash can,” Steve Snyder-Hill said then adding, “a trash can with an OSU logo on it”

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Screenshot via WBNS-TV, CBS News 10, Columbus, Ohio

COLUMBUS, Oh. – A Federal judge Wednesday dismissed hundreds of pending lawsuits against Ohio State University, (OSU) in cases related to a former OSU sports team doctor Richard Strauss, who had sexually molested young male athletes and other students for twenty years.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson of the Southern District of Ohio wrote;

It is beyond dispute that Plaintiffs, as well as hundreds of other former students, suffered unspeakable sexual abuse by Strauss. It is also true that many Plaintiffs and other students complained of Strauss’s abuse over the years and yet medical doctors, athletic directors, head and assistant coaches, athletic trainers, and program directors failed to protect these victims from Strauss’s predation.”

According to Judge Watson he dismissed the cases because the statute of limitations for criminal rape cases in Ohio is 20 years to report for criminal prosecution or otherwise have legal proceedings initiated.

“If there is a viable path forward for Plaintiffs on their claim against Ohio State, it starts with the legislature rather than the judiciary,” Watson wrote.

Taking aim at Ohio lawmakers Watson noted; ““At all times since the filing of these cases, the Ohio legislature, has the power, but not the will, to change the statute of limitations.” The legislature can provide a “path forward for Plaintiffs on their claim against Ohio State.”

Strauss preyed on hundreds of young men from the time of his employment at OSU in 1978 until he retired in 1998, and allegations about his misconduct didn’t become public until an ex-wrestler named Mike DiSabato spoke out in 2018, years after Strauss’ death by suicide in 2005.

The former athletes were represented by several legal teams including Washington D.C./Oakland, California-based legal advocacy group Public Justice.

Today’s ruling is not only deeply disappointing,” the legal team said in reaction to the ruling today, “but also sends a disturbing message that the very real challenges sexual abuse survivors often face in understanding what has happened to them – and who enabled the abuse they experienced – is irrelevant when they ultimately ask for the court’s help in holding abusive people and institutions accountable.

OSU spent decades denying, hiding, and evading the truth about its role in concealing the abuse that happened on its watch. Today’s ruling punishes survivors already traumatized by the university’s callous campaign of deception. The court’s decision cannot, and must not, be the final word in the survivors’ journey towards justice.”

The case against OSU brought widespread attention as one of the cases involved Strauss victim Steve Snyder-Hill, a a prominent LGBTQ activist and a U.S. Army veteran. Upon hearing of Watson’s ruling, a palpably angered Snyder-Hill told several media outlets; “The judge just threw 300 survivors in a trash can,” he said adding, “a trash can with an OSU logo on it.”

Steve Snyder-Hill (Screen shot via WCMH-TV, NBC 4 Columbus, Ohio)

NBC News had reported on the case and profiled Snyder-Hill in 2019:

[…] In the years following the alleged assault, Snyder-Hill would go on to serve in the Iraq War, publicly fight against the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and become an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage. He and his husband, Josh, married in 2011 in Washington, D.C., in front of the tombstone of Leonard Matlovich, a Vietnam War veteran who had been discharged by the Air Force for being gay. The couple were involved in a lawsuit filed by Service Members Legal Defense Network that challenged the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevented the military from giving benefits to legally married same-sex couples, and successfully fought in court to have their surnames combined in Ohio.

Snyder-Hill was unexpectedly thrust into the media spotlight in 2011 after submitting a question during the Republican presidential debate about whether the candidates would reverse the 2011 repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Some members of the audience booed Snyder-Hill, who submitted his question by video from his military base in Iraq. That an active-duty soldier in uniform would be booed during a presidential debate shocked and angered many Americans during a time when acceptance for same-sex marriage was mounting. […]

The publicity over the OSU cases also ensnared conservative right-wing Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), renewing questions over his failure to stop Strauss from molesting former wrestlers Jordan had coached more than two decades ago at OSU. Jordan was accused of that neglect in 2018 by those former wrestlers.

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National

2.3 million Latinx LGBTQ adults live in the US

More than one-third are living in low-income households

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Graphic via Fenway Health LATINX Center, Boston, Massachusetts

LOS ANGELES – A new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that an estimated 2.3 million adults in the U.S. identify as Hispanic or Latino/a and LGBTQ.

Researchers found that Latinx LGBTQ people fare worse than their non-LGBTQ counterparts on some measures of economic and social vulnerability, including unemployment and food insecurity. In addition, Latinx LGBTQ adults face disparities in mental and physical health such as depression, asthma, and chronic health conditions compared to non-LGBTQ adults.

However, similarities were found between the two groups, including household annual income and experiences of victimization and discrimination.

This study provides information on the well-being of Latinx adults in the U.S., as well as additional analyses of Latinx LGBTQ subgroups, such as Mexican, Central American, and South American LGBTQ people in California.

“In terms of economic security, we see both similarities and differences between Latinx LGBTQ and non-LGBTq adults,” said lead author Bianca D.M. Wilson, Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “The fact that Latinx LGBT adults tend to be younger may contribute to  disparities in employment and food insecurity, while U.S. citizenship—which many Latinx LGBTQ adults in California have—may help close the poverty gap.”

KEY FINDINGS

Demographic Characteristics

  • There are an estimated 2.3 million Latinx LGBTQ adults in the US.
  • 65% of Latinx LGBTQ adults are under age 35, compared to 45% of non-LGBT adults.
  • Just over half (52%) of LGBTQ Latinx adults are women, and 48% are men. 
  • Fewer Latinx LGBTQ adults (44%) than non-LGBTQ adults (57%) are raising children.

Economic Characteristics

  • Latinx LGBTQ adults are more likely to be unemployed (10% vs. 8%) and to experience food insecurity (32% vs. 25%) than Latinx non-LGBT adults.
  • 37% of Latinx LGBTQ adults and 39% of non-LGBTQ adults live with a household income below $24,000 per year.
  • Latinx LGBTQ adults are less likely to live in low-income households than non-LGBTQ adults, however, the rates of poverty are high for both groups: 60% of Latinx LGBTQ adults live below 200% of the federal poverty level, compared to 63% of non-LGBTQ Latinx adults.

Mental and Physical Health

  • Nearly one-third (30%) of Latinx LGBTQ adults have been diagnosed with depression, compared to 16% of Latinx non-LGBTQ adults.
  • Latinx LGBTQ women have the highest rates of depression (35%) compared with non-LGBTQ women (20%) and both groups of men.
  • Latinx LGBTQ adults (12%) are more likely to have Medicaid as their primary insurance compared to Latinx non-LGBTQ adults (9%).

Discrimination and Stress

  • 17% of Latinx LGBTQ adults disagreed with the statement “You always feel safe and secure” compared to 11% of non-LGBTQ adults.
  • 42% of Latinx LGBTQ adults reported experiencing physical assault and threats, and 69% reported experiencing verbal assault or abuse at some point in their lives.

Social Support

  • The majority (64%) of Latinx LGB adults and 40% of Latinx transgender adults reported feeling connected to the LGBT community.
  • Less than half (43%) of Latinx LGBTQ adults reported feeling connected to the Latinx community.

This study is part of the Williams Institute’s LGBTQ Well-Being at the Intersection of Race series, which examines demographic characteristics and key indicators of well-being, including mental health, physical health, economic health, and social and cultural experiences, of different racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. The series also includes analyses by region.

Read the report

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Congress

Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment legislation reintroduced

The legislation has failed to garner enough congressional support for passage beginning with its initial introduction in 2011

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Photo courtesy of the Tyler Clementi Foundation

WASHINGTON – Democratic U.S. Senators Patty Murray of Washington and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, along with Democratic U.S. House Representative Mark Pocan, also from Wisconsin, reintroduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act Wednesday.

If enacted, the legislation would require colleges and universities that receive federal student aid to have in place a policy that prohibits harassment of students based on their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Schools would have to distribute that policy to all students, along with information about the procedure to follow should an incident of harassment occur, and notify students of counseling, mental health, and other services available to victims or perpetrators of harassment.

The legislation would also require schools to recognize cyber-bullying as a form of harassment, and would create a new grant program at the U.S. Department of Education to help colleges and universities establish programs to prevent harassment of students.

“No student should live in fear of being who they are at school,” Baldwin said in a statement. “By reintroducing this legislation, we are taking a strong step forward in not only preventing harassment on campus, but also making sure our students have the freedom to learn and succeed in safe and healthy environments. Everyone at our colleges and universities deserves to pursue their dreams free of harassment and bullying.”

The lawmakers action was to mark eleventh anniversary of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi’s death, a suicide, after he lept from George Washington Bridge which connects North New Jersey to New York City on September 22, 2010. 

The Rutgers University freshman jumped to his death just days after his college roommate broadcast live images on the internet of him having a sexual encounter with another man. Fellow students Dharun Ravi, who was Clementi’s roommate, and Molly Wei were later charged. Wei struck a plea deal with prosecutors and a New Jersey Superior Court judge sentenced Ravi to 30 days in prison and three years probation for his actions.

The proposed law has failed to garner enough congressional support for passage over the past decade in beginning with its initial introduction in the 112th Congress in 2011. 

During a dedication ceremony on Monday February 4, 2013 of the Tyler Clementi Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, (D-N.J.) announced that he and U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) had reintroduced the legislation in Congress.

The legislation failed to get the required support for passage and it again languished.

Last year in the 116th Congress, it was introduced again by Pocan in the House and Murray and Baldwin in the Senate in May 2019.

“Today we honor the life of Tyler Clementi by reintroducing this critical legislation. No one should be bullied because of who they are or who they love,” Pocan said in a statement. “This bill will help ensure that students can learn in peace and not have to worry about living in fear or humiliation for being themselves.”

Tyler’s parents founded a non-profit organization in their son’s name committed to end online and offline bullying, harassment, and humiliation.

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