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2020 Election

Shyne and Erickson oust Heilman and Duran in WeHo and other California races

No matter what happens with the Presidential election, the LGBTQ community today stands united with other communities which have also faced ongoing attacks against their humanities.



John Erickson and Sepi Shyne (Photograph via Shyne’s Facebook page)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Wednesday morning, Nov. 4, after a harrowing Election Night where Democrats saw their wishes for a Blue Wave crash on the jagged cliffs of Trumpism, Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair Mark J. Gonzalez managed to find a patch of blue in the foggy political sky.  

“Last night, Americans proved that, as our nation has always done, we will work to vanquish threats. Last night, millions of Americans chose hope over fear, progress over bigotry, democracy over authoritarianism,” Gonzalez said in a statement noting that a record 150+ million Americans voted. “This election cycle, we hit 3 million registered Democrats and we could not be more hopeful for our future as a nation and the future of our county and state.” 

With early voting and Trump-ordered confusion at numerous post offices, the official outcome of many races, including the presidential race, may not be known for weeks. In California, county elections officials must report all final results to the Secretary of State by Dec. 4 to be certified by Dec. 11. Meanwhile, county clerks are regularly updating their results, including Los Angeles County which reported early Wednesday on the results for 99% of the 3,383 precincts. 

Interestingly, while Democrats on the federal level are dumbstruck by the success of Donald Trump’s messaging lies about “socialism,” abject racism about keeping streets and neighborhoods “safe,” and economic prowess during the nation’s near depression caused by his incapacity to handle the COVID-19 crisis, – on the ground in California, there were real signs of youthful progressive activism demonstrating real political strength.

There was perhaps no greater example of this longing for generational change than in the race for two seats on the West Hollywood City Council.

Attorney Sepi Shyne, a WeHo Business License Commissioner, and LGBTQ and Iranian-American advocate and John Erickson, a former Legislative Representative at Los Angeles World Airports, longtime WeHo city community outreach and event planner and LGBTQ and NOW/LA activist ousted longtime incumbents Councilmember and WeHo City co-founder John Heilman, a lawyer, law professor and longtime human rights, LGBTQ and AIDS advocate and Councilmember John Duran, a criminal defense attorney, radio host and longtime LGBTQ and AIDS activist. 

Shyne — the top vote getter with 6,738 votes (23.49%) — and Erickson, who garnered 6,228 votes (21.71%), both posted notes of gratitude on their Facebook pages but withheld further comment until more votes are counted. Heilman remained silent, but Duran — who has become renown for his daily COVID updates, posted some thanks and some thoughts.   

“It appears that both John Heilman and I are not going to be re-elected to Weho Council, Duran wrote, noting that not all the ballots are in and counted. “But it looks likely that the voters wanted change and fresh faces at city hall. If this is the case, we all need to support the new council members because they will have a heavy lift immediately in dealing with a public health emergency and West Hollywood economic collapse. I will wish them well and will offer to help anyway that I can….If I lose – it has been a GREAT 20 years on council.” 

Duran considered his legacy. “I am most proud of the Weho Recovery Center and Log Cabin 12 Step facilities acquisition for sobriety in Weho. And It has been extraordinary to have served as an LGBT activist for 40 years – with 20 of those years as an elected official through the marriage battles. The rainbow crosswalks, rainbow and trans flags across the city, the dog parks and the night time shuttle – are my lasting legacies. All of these mentioned items are my fingerprints,” he wrote, in part.

“There’s still plenty of fire in this middle aged (Ok. end of middle aged) Gay Latino. And there’s still plenty of work to be done. Elected office was never an end point for me. It was a vehicle for service,” Duran added.

The City of West Hollywood also noted the passage of a measure to help the city recover from the COVID economy. “Unofficial election results also indicate that Measure E, a measure establishing a 3/4¢ sales tax, has been approved by West Hollywood voters with votes currently tallied at 12,351 “yes” (73.1%) and 4,546 “no” (26.9%). Measure E will provide approximately $11,000,000 annually to maintain City of West Hollywood services and recover from public health emergencies; support senior services and health-related services; keep public areas clean and safe; address homelessness; help retain local businesses and jobs; repair potholes and streets; maintain public safety and 911 response; and provide other City services. It will exist until ended by voters, and requires public disclosure of spending, independent financial audits, and all funds to be used locally,” according to a WeHo press release.

Shyne and Erickson will be sworn-in on Dec. 7, 2020 at 6 p.m. Lindsey P. Horvath will continue as Mayor until May 17. But the City Council will elect a new Mayor Pro Tempore to replace Heilman on Dec. 21. Keep an eye on the posted council agenda for any changes.

Shyne and Erickson are not the only LGBTQ candidates who won their races. The Victory Fund endorsed 50 LGBTQ candidates in California, including members of the California LGBT Legislative Caucus such as State Sen. President Toni Atkins of San Diego and Todd Gloria, who left the California Assembly to run for San Diego Mayor.

As of noon on Wednesday, Gloria led his opponent Barbara Bry 56.3% to 43.7%, with 6.4% of the voter turnout. 

That San Diego mayor’s race had ugly patches, including one misleading incident apparently orchestrated by gay conservative Republican Carl DeMaio, a former city councilmember and radio talk show host. According to KPBS DeMaio sent text message ads saying Gloria “supports sex offenders” or has “put our kids at risk by voting to shield sex offenders.” A  Facebook post was entitled “Todd Gloria Supports Sex Offenders.” All of this referred to Gloria’s support of SB 145, the important change to California’s sex offender registry that gives judges greater discretion in determining whose name goes on the lifelong registry, helping end some of the discrimination against LGBTQ people in sex crime convictions.

The bill was authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener (who won his contentious re-election race in San Francisco), sponsored by Equality California and a slew of law enforcement professionals and signed by Gov. Newsom

There are several other local races of importance to the LA LGBTQ community. LA City Councilmember David Ryu is a tight race against Bernie Sanders-backed urban planner Nithya Raman, co-founder of SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition, in the 4th District. Ironically, Ryu, who is also passionate about homelessness, has been endorsed by Sanders’ Democratic Primary opponent in 2016, Hillary Clinton

Ryu is best known by the LGBTQ community for his strong support for the Los Angeles LGBT Center – strong enough to garner a rare endorsement from Center CEO Lorri Jean. As of noon on Wednesday, Raman had a slight lead with 52.38% of the vote to Ryu’s 47.62%.

In the grueling race to replace Mark Ridley-Thomas (who is winning his City Council race for the 10th District), for LA County Supervisor for the2nd district, State Sen. Holly Mitchell has a long lead over former Assembly Speaker and former LA City Council President Herb Wesson, with 60.86% of the vote to Wesson’s 39.14%.

Both have long and close ties to the LGBTQ community, including Mitchell’s friend, former colleague (serving former State Sen. Diane Watson) and former senior advisor Charles Stewart plus the endorsement by the Stonewall Democratic Club and Wesson’s endorsement by the LA County Democratic Club (led by gay chair Mark Gonzalez and Executive Director Drexel Heard), and by senior consultant Jasmyne Cannick. 

KNBC4 points out:  “Sen. Holly Mitchell appears set to make history, turning the county board once referred to as ‘five little kings’ into one that will be run by five women for the first time in its history.” 

Another critical local race is for LA District Attorney. Current DA Jackie Lacey, the first woman and first Black woman to hold the office, faced intense criticism by families, Black Lives Matter, and criminal justice reform activists for failing to charge law enforcement officers who fatally shot Black men. Former Los Angeles police officer George Gascón skipped running for San Francisco DA in order to come back to LA and challenge Lacey.

Though regarded as progressive and reform-minded, Gascón faced a last minute allegation of sexual harassment 20-25 years ago, as reported by freelance journalist Yashar Ali.     53.8% of the vote to Lacey’s 46.2%, holding a lead of about 211,650 votes. Both candidates have their LGBTQ supporters and opponents, though more activists pushing for police and prison reform support Gascón.

Even if former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris defeat Trump and Democrats hold onto the House, it looks like the Senate will remain in Republican Mitch McConnell’s control. That means local activism becomes even more important.

“No matter what happens with the Presidential election, the LGBTQ community today stands united with other communities which have also faced ongoing attacks against their humanities. We stand with Black, Indigenous and people of color, with activists seeking racial justice, with feminists and immigrants, and, indeed, with the many millions of people who believe in the possibility that—working together—we can build a more equitable and loving national community, said Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean in a statement.

“No matter the results, the Center will continue to do what we’ve always done: Fight like hell for our community and for all people who believe we can truly be a nation of liberty and justice for all.” 

The Center is hosting a post-election virtual community conversation via Facebook Live  tonight (Wednesday, November 4) at 6 p.m PT that will include an update on the election and its impact on the LGBT community. Center CEO Lorri L. Jean will be joined by guests U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (CA–28th District); Phill Wilson, Founder of the Black AIDS Institute; and Dan Maldonado and Eve O’Toole, the Center’s Federal Advocates.

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2020 Election

Senate acquits Trump 57- 43 in 2nd impeachment trial

The vote was cast after lawmakers scrapped plans to depose witnesses



Screenshot via C-SPAN

WASHINGTON – The United States Senate in a vote of 57 to 43 Saturday acquitted former President Donald Trump, who was charged in the one Article of Impeachment by the U. S. House for inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021. The Constitution requires a two-thirds majority to convict or 67 votes.

The House Impeachment Managers spoke to reporters after the Senate vote to acquit the ex-president telling reporters, “We have shown Trump is a disgrace to our country.”

Trump issued a statement thanking his defense team and supporters that read in part;

“[…] My deepest thanks as well to all of the United States Senators and Members of Congress who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.

This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.

Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together […]”

One Capitol Hill source reflecting on Trump’s statement told the Blade, “Not one word of remorse in that mess. [statement on the acquittal.] He doesn’t even acknowledge what a tragedy and travesty Jan. 6 was- he doesn’t care.”

A leading progressive coalition of more than 220 national organizations which promote and protect the civil rights of Americans, the Washington D.C. based ‘The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ issued a statement from its interim president and CEO Wade Henderson after the Senate acquitted Trump;

“Despite the unmistakably clear evidence, only a handful of Republican senators found the moral fortitude to put partisan politics aside and hold Donald Trump accountable for the deadly insurrection. There is no question to fair-minded Americans that Trump weaponized blatant lies and incited a white supremacist, anti-Semitic mob to try to stop the peaceful transition of power.

The white supremacy that undergirded Trump’s deadly rhetoric and fueled the insurrection is not new. The failure to convict Trump only highlights the actions we must take as a part of our country’s long overdue reckoning with white supremacy and white nationalism.”

One of the House Impeachment Managers, California Congressman Ted Lieu, (D-Santa Monica/Long Beach) tweeted after the vote;

“57 United States Senators concluded President Trump was guilty of inciting an insurrection. The highest bipartisan vote to convict in US history. That’s a damning vote.”

President Joe Biden, who is spending the weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, Maryland, issued a statement late Saturday evening regarding the verdict;

“It was nearly two weeks ago that Jill and I paid our respects to Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who laid in honor in the Rotunda after losing his life protecting the Capitol from a riotous, violent mob on January 6, 2021.
Today, 57 Senators – including a record 7 Republicans – voted to find former President Trump guilty for inciting that deadly insurrection on our very democracy. The Senate vote followed the bipartisan vote to impeach him by the House of Representatives. While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute. Even those opposed to the conviction, like Senate Minority Leader McConnell, believe Donald Trump was guilty of a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the violence unleashed on the Capitol.
Tonight, I am thinking about those who bravely stood guard that January day. I’m thinking about all those who lost their lives, all those whose lives were threatened, and all those who are still today living with terror they lived through that day. And I’m thinking of those who demonstrated the courage to protect the integrity of our democracy – Democrats and Republicans, election officials and judges, elected representatives and poll workers – before and after the election. 
This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America. And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.
That is how we end this uncivil war and heal the very soul of our nation. That is the task ahead. And it’s a task we must undertake together. As the United States of America.”

LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD’s President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, in a media statement wrote; “the Trump administration will forever be defined by misinformation and violence, tactics the former president weaponized against LGBTQ people and other vulnerable communities before turning them loose on our government on January 6th.”

Ellis continued noting;

“The verdict does not reflect the truth understood by a majority of Americans, that Donald Trump recklessly and maliciously directed his supporters to attack the Capitol and our democracy. The Trump administration will forever be defined by misinformation and violence, tactics the former president weaponized against LGBTQ people and other vulnerable communities before turning them loose on our government on January 6th.

Senators voting to acquit are now and for all of history recorded for their cowardice in failing to hold the former president accountable for his lawless, destructive behavior. Let this be a turning point for our country, where we demand a return to shared core values of truth, safety and integrity to protect the least among us, especially from those chosen to lead us.”

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), offered up a withering criticism of Trump’s behavior. McConnell said Trump was “practically and morally” responsible for the Jan. 6 attack and suggested that he could face criminal charges. McConnell had been one of the 43 GOP Senators who voted to acquit.

McConnell said he would have “carefully considered” convicting Trump if he still held office, but ultimately determined that he, as a former president, was not “constitutionally eligible” for a conviction.

One of the ex-president’s supporters blamed the Democrats; “This impeachment trial did nothing to bring the domestic terrorists who committed this heinous attack to justice,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “It merely satisfied Democrats’ desire to once again vent their hatred of Donald Trump and their contempt for the tens of millions of Americans who voted for him.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) angrily chastised the 43 Republican Senators over their votes in the acquittal saying in a statement:

“Senate Republicans who voted not to convict chose to abandon the Constitution, the Country and the American people with this vote.”

The Speaker also noted that “the Congress and Country can take great pride in the House Impeachment Managers, who defended our Constitution & Democracy with a moving presentation demonstrating love of country and loyalty to our oath and the facts.”

In a letter to his supporters, House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, (D-Burbank) remarked;

“[…] When I served as lead manager of the first impeachment, we warned the Senators that if they failed to convict Donald Trump after he betrayed our national security, he would do so again, that he had compromised our elections and he would do so again. We warned that they would not change or constrain him. That truth mattered little to him, what’s right mattered even less, and decency not at all. 

[…] As long as I live, I will never understand how the Republican Senators who voted to acquit can reconcile themselves with the consequences of that vote, or where this will place them in history. Why run for the Senate at all, if you will be missing in action when the country really needs you? Is the job that important to leave your country defenseless to a demagogue who brought violence down on our heads? How can they fail to see that by doing so, they have enabled him to bring this same hell upon us again, and that next time it could be even worse?

Rep. Jamie Raskin, (D-Md.), the lead House Impeachment Manager, warned senators that their conviction vote would define their legacies.

“This is almost certainly how you will be remembered by history,” he said. “It really might not be fair, but none of us can escape the demands of history and destiny right now.”

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2020 Election

LGBTQ groups condemn Capitol siege, back Trump removal from office

We must honor the rule of law. It is what has made our democracy a model



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her press conference on January 7 tells reporters that she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called upon Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment against President Donald Trump after the rioting in the Capitol. (Screenshot via NBC News)

WASHINGTON – LGBTQ rights groups on Wednesday and Thursday were quick to condemn the siege of the U.S. Capitol.

“Today’s violence is revolting and nothing short of insurrection, a coup instigated by Donald Trump and abetted by cowardly Republicans who have put party over conscience,” tweeted Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “We must honor the rule of law. It is what has made our democracy a model and one that is worth upholding.”

Today’s violence is revolting and nothing short of insurrection, a coup instigated by Donald Trump and abetted by cowardly Republicans who have put party over conscience. We must honor the rule of law. It is what has made our democracy a model and one that is worth upholding.

— Alphonso David (@AlphonsoDavid) January 6, 2021

PFLAG Executive Director Brian K. Bond in an email to his organization’s supporters wrote “today’s violence” was “undertaken not to build up, but to tear down. And we cannot ignore glaring differences between the treatment of Black Lives Matter protestors seeking justice and the treatment of the violent insurrectionists who today stormed the U.S. Capitol to undermine our democracy.”

“The people attacking the Capitol building are not protestors, and the disparities in how they were received are glaringly clear,” added Bond.

Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez echoed Bond.

“The peaceful transition of power is the hallmark of our American democracy that both Republican and Democratic presidents have honored throughout history,” said Martinez in an email to Equality Texas supporters. “The subversive nature of today’s insurrection, which led to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, is not only un-American; it is domestic terrorism. Moreover, the lack of preparedness to ensure public safety was negligent — especially compared to the extraordinary measures taken during the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests in the summer.”

Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, in a statement to the Washington Blade said President Trump “has attacked marginalized people, including transgender Americans” since he began his campaign.

“Yesterday’s angry mob of armed white militants attacked the people of this country and the foundations of our democracy,” added Heng-Lehtinen. “Trump and those who aid and abet him have a clear pattern of inciting violence, of targeting political opponents, of attacking people of color — all while excusing the violent actions of their supporters.”

The siege began as members of Congress were certifying the Electoral College results that confirmed the election of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. Trump supporters marched to the Capitol after the outgoing president spoke at the “Save America Rally” on the Ellipse.

Democrats on Tuesday regained control of the U.S. Senate after Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) respectively in Georgia.

Equality Florida on Wednesday acknowledged the Georgia election results before condemning the Capitol siege.

“Congratulations to Senator-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock and Senator-elect Jon Ossoff on their historic elections to the United States Senate,” said Equality Florida in a tweet. “We are thankful for our volunteers, members, staff and board for being a part of the coalition that supported Georgia Equality (an LGBTQ rights group in Georgia) in their efforts to elect pro-equality senators.”

“This historic mobilization of voters is a testament to our incredible democratic process, and contrasts the treasonous actions taken by supporters of President Trump at the U.S. Capitol today,” added Equality Florida.

Congratulations to Senator-elect @ReverendWarnock and Senator-elect Jon @Ossoff on their historic elections to the United States Senate!

— Equality Florida (@equalityfl) January 6, 2021

This historic mobilization of voters is a testament to our incredible democratic process, and contrasts the treasonous actions taken by supporters of President Trump at the U.S. Capitol today.

— Equality Florida (@equalityfl) January 6, 2021

Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith and National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey are among those who have called for Trump’s removal from office. Smith has also called for an investigation into the U.S. Capitol Police’s response to the siege.  

“We condemn the violence in Washington, D.C., and in communities across the country that has been incited by today’s attack on the Capitol building,” said Carey in a statement. “We are better than this. To move forward we must begin by making the strongest statement possible and remove Trump from office using the power of the 25th Amendment.”

Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings in his statement also cited the 25th Amendment.

“Today’s unprecedented events are a betrayal of that fundamental American commitment, and any pretense to ‘patriotism’ on the part of those who committed today’s acts of desecration of the temple of democracy that is our Capitol building are blasphemous,” he said. “Our democratic processes must be defended, and we call upon our leaders to utilize any and all processes available to them, including the 25th Amendment, to ensure an orderly transition of power in accordance with the will of the American people as expressed freely at the ballot box in November.”

“The president, but also the those who have remained silent in the face of his lies, are responsible for this attack on our democracy, and they should be held accountable for their actions,” added Heng-Lehtinen. “Their desperate attempt to hold onto power at any cost will cement their legacy of failure.”

GLAAD, 18 LGBTQ rights groups demand Trump’s removal

GLAAD late on Thursday released a statement signed by 18 LGBTQ rights organizations that calls for Trump’s removal from office.

“As LGBTQ organizations and movement leaders, we call for the immediate and unequivocal removal of Donald Trump as president of the United States via the invoking of the 25th Amendment or by impeachment if necessary,” reads the statement. “Our nation’s security and the personal security of every American is in grave danger, and we cannot afford to sustain even another day with this destructive and seditious man in the White House.”

Athlete Ally, the Equality Federation, Family Equality, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, GLSEN, Lambda Legal, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, NMAC, PFLAG, Pride in Running, Puerto Rico Para [email protected], SAGE, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Transgender Law Center and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund signed GLAAD’s letter.

HRC has also called for Trump’s removal from office.

“The Human Rights Campaign urgently calls for the immediate removal of President Donald Trump from office,” said David in a press release his organization released on Thursday. “President Trump bears responsibility for Wednesday’s insurrection at the United States Capitol and the attempted coup of our government in which four people died.”

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2020 Election

Electoral College Vote is certified by Congress

Congress certified the Electoral College Vote at 3:41 AM Eastern Time, January 7, 2021



WASHINGTON – Congress certified the Electoral College Vote at 3:41 AM Eastern Time, January 7, 2021. Joe Biden was officially named as the 46th duly-elected President of the United States and Kamala D. Harris has been named as the 49th Vice-President of the United States.

It was a day of extreme drama that resulted in rioters temporarily taking over the United States Capitol building after being incited by a speech given by President Donald Trump earlier on Wednesday in which he falsely claimed that there was massive election fraud.

During the Capitol siege four civilians died including a 35 year-old female military veteran, Ashli Babbitt. She had served 14 years in the Air Force, her husband told KUSI-TV in San Diego. The couple had resided in Ocean Beach, California.

Babbitt was shot by Capitol Police officers in a hallway just off the House Chambers at the entrance to the Speaker’s Lobby and died after being transported to a Washington hospital.

According to Stars & Stripes Babbitt was apparently a staunch Trump supporter, and her social media accounts were filled with posts supporting the president. She tweeted on Tuesday, “Nothing will stop us…. they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours….dark to light.”

Washington’s Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee had told reporters in a press briefing Wednesday evening that three other persons had died during the rioting in the Capitol building but offered no further details citing ongoing investigations.

Objections by Republicans to accepting the results from Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia were defeated after debate at times that was contentious and in the case of the House debate over the objection to accepting the Pennsylvania results resulted in a fist fight between a couple of House members which was rapidly broken up by other representatives.

At the end of the process, outgoing Vice President Mike Pence announced that Joe Biden defeated President Trump, officially ending the 2020 presidential race that Trump has refused to concede and after the violent day at the Capitol.

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