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Vote for Biden (duh)

He will restore sanity, compassion, and stability to the gov’t and world

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Joe Biden, gay news, Washington Blade

Joe Biden will restore decency to the White House if elected. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The list of Donald Trump’s affronts is long. The unlikely evangelical darling operated casinos, paid off porn stars, bragged of grabbing women by the “pussy,” mocked a disabled reporter, praised white supremacists, insulted a Gold Star family, attacked a revered POW, flirted with his own daughter, tweeted support for a murderer, and bullied foreign leaders into helping him steal the election.

And those are just some of the most infamous of Trump’s transgressions.

There’s no reason for any informed American voter to grant Trump another four years. There’s even less reason for LGBTQ voters to support him, no matter what the hypocrites at Log Cabin tell you.

His botched COVID response has needlessly cost tens of thousands of lives. Rather than model commonsense mask use, Trump mocked those like Joe Biden for wearing them. Rather than level with the American people back in February and March about the severity of what was coming our way, he downplayed coronavirus, called it a “hoax” and ridiculously said it would “go away like a miracle.” Even as we watched heartbreaking and frightening YouTube clips of Italians suffering in quarantine as bodies piled up in morgues, Trump held firm that it was not a threat to us. He was dead wrong. When we sought answers and comfort from leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci — well known to the gay community from his days fighting AIDS in the 1980s — Trump turned on him too, unleashing opposition research to undermine his credibility.

The resulting chaos has left nearly 200,000 Americans dead and the economy in shambles. When everyday Americans and small business owners needed another relief package, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House responded swiftly with a bill and passed it, while Senate Majority Leader and Trump loyalist Mitch McConnell let his colleagues go home for an August vacation. I don’t know any small business owners who took a vacation this summer; we are all struggling to stay afloat without any communication or direction from the federal government.

This sad performance alone on coronavirus should be enough reason to vote Trump out in November, but, of course, there is more.

The parallel crisis of police brutality against Black Americans has reminded us yet again of the stubborn entrenchment of systemic racism. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake joined the unending list of Black victims of police abuse. As protests flared around the country, Trump gassed peaceful demonstrators at the White House so he could stage a clumsy photo op with an upside-down Bible, a book he has never read and cares nothing about. When 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, armed with an AR-15, shot and killed two protesters in Kenosha, Wis., Trump defended him. Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway later admitted what the rest of us already knew: that Trump believes violence in American cities benefits his campaign. He’s encouraging his armed supporters to show up at Black Lives Matter protests to intimidate and taunt peaceful demonstrators. It’s unconscionable and people are dead as a result. More blood on Trump’s hands and his Republican enablers in Congress, on state propaganda Fox News, and online invoke inane conspiracy theories to justify his reckless assault on our democracy.

Make no mistake that this election will determine whether the great American experiment continues or it unravels. Trump’s admiration for dictators like the murderers Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un; his attacks on our allies like Germany, France, and the Kurds; and his backing out of the Paris climate accord and rolling back myriad environmental protections in deference to his corporate golfing buddies further illustrate just how unfit Trump is for office. Make no mistake that all of this chaos is by design — the plan all along was to gut and cripple the federal government. We’ve seen it agency by agency, from the Education Department’s efforts to promote the privatization of public schools through vouchers, to the Interior Department being coopted to host Trump campaign events on federal lands, to even the Postal Service being undermined to thwart mail-in voting, no agency has been unaffected. Let’s not forget Trump was impeached for his efforts to undermine our democracy and he presided over the longest U.S. government shutdown in our history.

What about Trump’s record on LGBTQ issues? It’s the disaster many of us predicted it would be. In a 2016 endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president, I wrote: “the Republicans have turned their party over to a racist, sexist bully with zero experience in elected office. … The LGBT community cannot risk a Trump presidency.” I was right. From Trump’s very first day in office, when LGBTQ issues were deleted from the White House website, right up to today, when his State Department is denying citizenship to children of same-sex couples born via surrogacy overseas, the attacks have been constant and sometimes cruel.

Trump’s tweet banning transgender patriots from serving their country in the military “in any capacity” is perhaps the most egregious and blatant of those attacks, but there are countless others. The blame for a nationwide dramatic rise in hate crimes, which disproportionately impact the LGBTQ community, lies at Trump’s feet. Previously, Americans who held bigoted views felt at least some pressure to keep those opinions to themselves. But under Trump, those views are validated and encouraged, motivating scores of “deplorables” to come out and express their hatred openly, as we saw in Charlottesville, and sometimes violently as seen in the FBI’s report noting that attacks motivated by bias or prejudice reached a 16-year high in 2018. The Trump administration has allowed discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom” across the board, from adoption agencies to faith-based schools. This administration has worked overtime to render us invisible, removing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from the list of categories the Education Department tracks in compiling data on bullying and canceling plans to include us in the Census. The administration has filed a long series of court briefs attacking LGBTQ rights, from seeking to block workplace protections for trans workers to allowing discrimination against same-sex couples seeking to foster children.

Attacks on the trans community are particularly acute and nasty, including allowing homeless shelters to discriminate against transgender people and rescinding Obama-era guidance that allowed trans students to use facilities that correspond to their gender identity.

He opposes the Equality Act, despite originally supporting it. He named notorious homophobe Mike Pence as his vice president, who famously signed a bill as Indiana governor allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ customers. He has named scores of judges hostile to LGBTQ equality to the federal bench, jeopardizing our community’s gains for years to come. He surrounds himself with bigots and homophobes, like Tony Perkins, Gini Thomas, Brent Bozell, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr.

I could go on for pages, but you get the point. The Blade’s archives over the last four years are filled with reasons for queer voters to reject Trump.

So, why vote for Joe Biden and not just against Trump? Again, the list is long.

Biden has vowed to make the Equality Act his top legislative priority in his first 100 days. This is an important step, as the historic Bostock ruling can be undermined by other lawsuits seeking “religious freedom” carveouts to legalize discrimination and by interpreting the ruling narrowly to allow discrimination in other areas outside of the workplace.

Back in March, Biden unveiled a comprehensive plan to advance LGBTQ rights. In addition to the Equality Act, he pledges to support international LGBTQ human rights and to ban harmful, discredited conversion therapy nationwide. He vows to reappoint a special envoy to advance international LGBTQ rights, form a coalition of countries to advance international LGBTQ rights and guide the GLOBE Act into passage, as the Blade reported. Further, Biden will work to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2025 and expand PEPFAR.

“As president, Biden will stand with the LGBTQ+ community to ensure America finally lives up to the promise on which it was founded: equality for all,” the plan says. “He will provide the moral leadership to champion equal rights for all LGBTQ+ people, fight to ensure our laws and institutions protect and enforce their rights, and advance LGBTQ+ equality globally.”

The 17-page plan is detailed and thoughtful and offers a clear vision of how he will work for LGBTQ equality.

Biden praised the historic June Supreme Court ruling in Bostock that the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes LGBT people in its prohibition on employment discrimination based on gender or sex.

“Today, by affirming that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Supreme Court has confirmed the simple but profoundly American idea that every human being should be treated with respect and dignity.” Biden said. “That everyone should be able to live openly, proudly, as their true selves without fear.”

In other words, Biden will use the bully pulpit for good and to inspire others, rather than to foment division and hurl juvenile insults.

Biden endorsed marriage equality in 2012, beating his boss President Obama to the punch. Make no mistake that the bully pulpit is powerful; when the president of the United States speaks, the world listens. When Biden and days later Obama endorsed marriage equality, the floodgates were opened and a slew of celebrities, politicians, and everyday Americans followed, eventually aiding the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling. Imagine a president using that awesome power again for good rather than for exacting petty revenge on real and imagined enemies.

Trump and his toadies like Ric Grenell — who likes to boast of being the first gay Cabinet member, even though he was not Senate confirmed and lacked qualifications for the job — have foolishly tried to paint Biden as anti-gay, citing 1970s era comments about gay federal workers. If Trump wants to talk about the 70s, let’s do that. At that time, Trump’s mentor was Roy Cohn, the notorious closet case who died alone of AIDS after devoting his career to ridding the federal government of gay employees in the Lavender Scare era. Also in the 1970s, Trump was investigated for discriminating against Black renters seeking to live in his apartment buildings. The Justice Department filed a civil rights case against the Trump firm, accusing the company of violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The case was eventually settled after a protracted court battle. Trump should be careful about re-litigating the 1970s with Biden.

And if you needed more reason to vote for Biden, think of the Supreme Court. Trump has already had two conservative picks, but in a second term he could get at least two more. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 87 years old with recent health scares, and Justice Stephen Breyer is 82. That’s two of the court’s remaining four liberal justices in their 80s. A second Trump term could mean a solid 7-2 conservative majority for years to come. In that case, Roe v. Wade, Obergefell and Bostock would all be in jeopardy. That’s not hyperbole. Challenges to those rulings continue and will only intensify under a second Trump term. Last year, nine states passed bills restricting abortion rights. Undermining and overturning Roe remains the #1 goal of the right, and marriage equality is next on their target list.

Whatever you think of Biden’s policies, there’s no disputing he is a decent man, an honorable father and husband who has dedicated his life to public service. His first big decision as the presumptive nominee was to pick Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, a historic and stellar choice. The California senator is a longtime LGBTQ ally who will work with Biden to reverse Trump’s attacks on our community and to advance an equality agenda.

Joe Biden will work to advance LGBTQ equality. He will restore America’s reputation around the world as an ally in the struggle to protect and expand human rights. His administration will look like America and we could finally see an openly LGBTQ Cabinet member and a roster of senior government officials that showcases our great diversity. Once again, it will take a Democratic president and Congress to fix the economic mess created by the outgoing Republican administration. Biden will ensure that science wins the day and procure and distribute a coronavirus vaccine that is proven safe and effective. He will embrace an overdue dialogue on race and enact new policies to address systemic racism. He will stand up to our enemies like Putin and aid our allies. And he will use the bully pulpit to inspire all Americans to achieve their full potential.

There is only one rational choice for president this year. Joe Biden has the experience, the wisdom, and the compassion to restore sanity to government and stability to the world.

 

Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at [email protected].

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The Song of Achilles; When he died all things were buried with him

We also began promoting the power of kindness to heal our broken world and to promote and support LGBTQIA+community and ethnic diversity

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Jeanne Pepper (L) The Demolition Dolls, Gideon Bernstein (R) 2018 'Blaze It Forward' Orange County Pride. This was the first Pride after the death of their son Blaze. (Photo courtesy of the Bernstein family)

“The sorrow was so large it threatened to tear through my skin. When he died, all things swift and beautiful and bright would be buried with him.” 

Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles  

By Jeanne Pepper | I told myself I would not do it again:  explain who I am and who my son was as an introduction to my story.  I love writing, but how many times can I talk about the horrific things that happened?   What you need to know: he was gay, Jewish, and the victim of a hate crime.   This tragedy propelled me into the public eye and gave me a chance to be an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, and it also ended the  beautiful life of my son Blaze Bernstein.  He should be enjoying gay pride month this June, but instead his body lies in an Orange County cemetery since January 2018.   He died at just 19 years of age.  

I don’t want to be a captive storyteller, forced to regurgitate our sad truth and the story of how we endured Blaze’s disappearance and violent death.  I want to talk about the great things we have accomplished since then and the miraculous things people around the country did and continue to do to show their support for those who identify as queer and for the kindness movement we wholeheartedly embraced when we started #BlazeitForward in honor of Blaze.   The story of my brilliant and kind son who was going to change the world,  should not start with the horrific ending of his life.  The story should start with hope because his life started with and even in death continues to give hope to all of us.

The night he disappeared many of my dreams for my family ended and a radical new timeline began.  I came out of the closet as a supporter of LGBTQIA+ and a parent of a gay teen.  While Blaze was alive and living in the closet, he was not comfortable with us participating in any activities that would draw attention to his sexual orientation.  While we encouraged him to live openly, he was young and we respected his right to “out” himself.  We will never know how our failure to educate ourselves and our family on how best to support a gay child impacted the tragedy that came to us. 

Our family lived in the shadow of the normative Orange County world that we raised him in that did not understand the needs of gay teenagers or the dangers they face both from alienation that can lead to teen suicide nor did we understand the dangers posed by malevolent outsiders and ignorant peers, teachers and strangers.  It was this revelation after his death that spurred our entry into the public eye when the opportunity arose. 

My husband Gideon and I made the quick decision that Blaze’s death should herald a new age of sex positivity.  We also wanted to do something about the stereotypes and hateful tropes we heard about Jewish people and that inundated the media.  While Blaze would not live to see a world where his uniqueness and kindness became an ideal, we live to promote it.   We exposed the haters and hate groups as we did the unthinkable:  put our mourning on hold and immediately used his death to educate the public about the danger hate groups such as Atomwaffen pose to all of us.  We also began promoting the power of kindness to heal our broken world and to promote and support LGBTQIA+ community and ethnic diversity.  

As the years after his death progressed, a pattern began to develop.  The polarization in political, religious and sexual beliefs became unmanageable in our country.  We could not come together to fight the pandemic when it began.  Civil unrest ensued.  Corruption and racism exposed throughout the United States caused rioting and more polarization.   Reforms were proposed.   People began to see the need for learning how to have respectful discourse.  Some became more sensitive and either apologetic for wrongs against the marginalized or outraged by the way the system has kept us marginalized.  No one was left untouched by the violence, inequity, and unhappiness that was left in the wake of the events of the last few years.  

Blaze’s murder could serve as a catalyst for positive peaceful social change.  Was the world ready for the message?  Probably more than ever.  What was the message?  Be good to each other.  Be kind.  Don’t wait for things to get better.  Take affirmative intentional action now.

Photo: Jeanne Pepper (L) and Gideon Bernstein

We coined the term #BlazeitForward and use it to encourage people to do intentional kind acts in honor of Blaze and his legacy.   My husband and I spent the last few years powering the Facebook public group #BlazeitForward where we encourage our members to post stories of kindness, community philanthropy and everyday miracles.   We also oversee endowments created in Blaze’s name that fuel college scholarships, the Blaze Bernstein school of Culinary Arts at the Merage Jewish Community Center, annual Orange County School of the Arts conservatory funding, an annual Real Arts internship for the University of Pennsylvania, and annual donations to various foundations such as homeless shelters, Orangewood Foundation, the Human Relations Council, Second Harvest Food Bank, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Tilly’s Life Center, the Anti-Defamation League, The LGBTQ Center of Orange County, and The City of Hope, to name a few.

In addition to our advocacy for marginalized people and holocaust education, we speak out against homophobia and hate groups, conversion therapy, bullying and hate speech.   We do all of this to give life to Blaze’s legacy of kindness while we await the commencement of the criminal trial set to begin by the Fall of this year.  

In June we stand proud with good people around the country and celebrate Gay Pride.  I cringe at the absurdity that I could not do this with Blaze.  We “came out” and support the LGBTQIA+ community because there are parents out there who do not know what to do or say to help their LGBTQIA+ children.  Hearing me speak out could be the first time, they learn the importance of giving these kids acceptance and love.  

If you want to repair the world, you need to start at home with your own family.  Do it right now.  Call your younger siblings and tell them you are a proud supporter of this community.  Give your teen a hug and tell them that their sexual orientation is not something they need to hide – you love them and support them unconditionally.  Tell your kids that hate in any form and for any reason is something you will not support.  Educate your kids on hate groups, the holocaust, the dangers of ethnocentrism and the beauty of diversity.  Go to a gay pride parade.  Show your support for and be curious about people who are different.  Listen non-judgmentally to the stories of others.  Join the #BlazeitForward group on Facebook.  Create a legacy of kindness in your family.

Editor’s Note: More on the Bernstein’s son’s murder case can be read here, ( LINK )

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The movement to protect LGBTQ civil rights encourages us to be bold

Equal rights for LGBTQ Americans feels more attainable than ever; we cannot afford to drop the baton right before the finish line

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Lindsey Horvath is the Mayor of West Hollywood (Photo courtesy of Lindsey Horvath)

By Lindsey Horvath | As the Mayor of West Hollywood, my roots as a leader have been shaped by the courage and activism of the LGBTQ community. The simple idea that we should be able to love who we love and live authentically without discrimination or fear has energized a beautiful, thriving movement that is transforming our county and our country for the better. 

I think a lot about Harvey Milk, who rebelled against the “conspiracy of silence” and inspired generations of LGBTQ public servants to speak out and be themselves. The idea of creating change by reclaiming who we authentically are instead of trying to fit into an oppressive mold to inspire change is incredibly powerful.

From trailblazers like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Bayard Rustin, and Morris Kight to the ever-inspiring leaders of today, the movement to promote and protect LGBTQ civil rights encourages us all to be bold and realize the power of our example.

As our generation of activists and allies steps up to lead, what kind of example do we want to set? At this turning point, are we going to think small? Are we going to let fear and “the way we’ve always done it” get in the way of real progress for the people who need it most? Are we going to let prejudice and division get in the way of our true potential?

Or will we be like the champions for change who got us here, fearless and relentless in our pursuit of full equality? If we look to our past, our mandate is to be nothing short of revolutionary.

Equal rights for LGBTQ Americans feels more attainable than ever; we cannot afford to drop the baton right before the finish line. We must codify penalties for discriminating against someone for their gender identity or sexual orientation. Creating safe spaces — in our homes, our workplaces, and our communities — is essential for us to be fully free. Housing, healthcare, and community services are critical components of building full and healthy lives. We need to ensure that everyone has access to the care, protections, and support they need to live as themselves. 

As your next County Supervisor, I will work with you to use the power of our example to eliminate sexual orientation and gender bias. No one should have to live in fear because of who they love or how they choose to identify.

With more than 10 million people, L.A. County is the most populous county in the United States. Our example is powerful. Together, we can build a future in L.A. County and our country where every person is able to live and thrive, loudly and proudly. 

Lindsey Horvath is the Mayor of West Hollywood. She has served as a Board member of the Victory Fund and a founding Board member of the NOH8 Campaign. In 2009, she represented the City of West Hollywood in the National Equality March in Washington DC. She has also advocated for LGBTQ older adults through her work on the Board of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE).

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After returning to YouTube, Crowder goes on hateful tirade against Pride

Crowder engaged in a homophobic tirade, claiming that being gay could make mental health issues, promiscuity, and AIDS “more likely.”

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Screenshot of Louder with Crowder (Photo Credit: Media Matters)

By Jason Campbell | WASHINGTON – On June 3, Louder with Crowder returned to YouTube after the channel’s second suspension. After the show stopped livestreaming on YouTube and continued to stream behind the BlazeTV paywall, Crowder engaged in a homophobic tirade, claiming that being gay could make mental health issues, promiscuity, and AIDS “more likely.” He also ludicrously asserted that “all major historical gay figures” had AIDS.

STEVEN CROWDER (HOST): Here’s the thing: I don’t have a problem — if people want to be gay, sure, fine, whatever. I don’t care. And if you want to say you have a month, OK, fine —

DAVE LANDAU (CO-HOST): I have a lot of former friends that are gay. 

CROWDER: I don’t care. If you want to start having sex on floats, OK, that’s an issue. That’s an issue. That’s what happens in San Francisco or the Folsom Street Fair. But these are the people who are put out there as ambassadors. And now that becomes a problem because now it’s a conversation of sexualizing children. Now, if we just look at it — look, with kids, you’re going to say, “OK, you’re born gay. You’re born straight.” Fine, let’s just go with that. But you overwhelmingly celebrate gay. If it’s just something that’s a part of you, it either shouldn’t be celebrated or certainly you wouldn’t celebrate the one of the two versions that results in HIV, more likely; AIDS, more likely; promiscuity, more likely; mental health issues, more likely, but lower domestic abuse with gay people, higher with lesbians.

My point is if you’re just going to celebrate, hey, the preference of friction, why wouldn’t you celebrate the one that makes for the most productive environment for children and has worked for perpetuating the human species since ever. That’s all I’m saying. I just don’t think you need — you’re like — you’re just like telling kids, “Hey, hey, isn’t it great? They’re gay.” What does that mean? It means they have sex in a way that doesn’t work.

GERALD MORGAN JR. (CO-HOST): That has no productive value.

CROWDER: OK, fine. I don’t care. But I don’t know how this requires a month and people who died get a day. That’s all.

CROWDER: Honestly, let’s look at all major historical gay figures. You look at Milk.

You look at Harvey Milk. You look at people, you look at [UNINTELLIGIBLE] — these are people with AIDS. These are people — look, I think that if we want people to be happy you say, “Well, that shouldn’t be an example. Pick the domesticated Dave Rubin and make him your ambassador.” I just like — in other — like look at the — I’m just saying you’re not pointing to get examples because it’s not about what usually — what we used to want to do with children was encourage them, right? Guide them toward the kind of behavior that would create the most content, fulfilled, and productive members of society. Now it’s about making sure that they have the greatest awareness of the most marginalized victims. That’s why they’re not picking the Buzz Aldrin of the gay community. I’m just saying. I don’t even know who he is. Maybe it’s Buzz Aldrin.”

YouTube has a hate speech policy which states that the platform will remove any content promoting hatred against individuals and groups for attributes including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. It specifies that content is in violation of this policy if it claims “that individuals or groups are physically or mentally inferior, deficient, or diseased based on any of the attributes noted above.” In November 2020, YouTube removed two anti-trans videos from the right-wing propaganda network PragerU for violating this policy as they compared being trans to having a mental illness.

YouTube formally rebuked Crowder in March for violating its policy on misinformation and demeaning content. That same month, YouTube removed a video because it spread misinformation regarding COVID-19. In May, YouTube once again struck Crowder’s channel for violating the platform’s harassment, threats, and cyberbullying policy. During the particular episode that garnered the channel its second strike, Crowder and his co-hosts had mocked Ohio police shooting victim Ma’Khia Bryant’s weight.

Crowder’s show has consistently trafficked in racistsexistbigoted, and bullying content. He has also consistently promoted conspiracy theories and misinformation. By allowing Crowder to return to the platform with his long record of violating its content policies, YouTube is acting against the interests of those groups it claims to protect.

Jason Campbell is a researcher at Media Matters for America based in Washington D.C.

The preceding article was ordinally published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

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