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Take a breath, votes still out for Biden/Harris

Campaign conducted amid pandemic comes to surprising end

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election 2020, gay news, Washington Blade
(Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Take a deep breath and then slowly let it out. Try to release the stress of the last year. Yes I know if you are a Democrat that isn’t working. You hear Donald Trump declaring victory and calling for voting to stop. Yes he is outrageous and even Vice President Pence and others like Chris Christie said he must wait to count the remaining ballots.

The race is still up in the air and the mail-in ballots are still being counted and it seems like it will take forever. But reality is we will know by Friday who won and that isn’t bad when you consider the millions of ballots that must still be checked and counted. We are waiting for results from Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Whatever the result the people will have spoken. What must happen now is we need to ensure every vote is counted.

It appears Biden will win the popular vote and we are looking at the Electoral College for the answers. That is a sad state of affairs.
I admit I gave up watching the results last night getting scared there would be another 2016 on election night. Back then, I was in the Javits Center in New York when around 10:30 p.m., Debbie Wasserman Shultz told us there weren’t enough votes in Broward County to make up the difference for Hillary in Florida.

This year is different; while we lost Florida again as I write this on Wednesday morning the votes still remaining to be counted in many states will decide the election but it looks like most will go to Biden. What we as Democrats and actually every Republican should be fighting for is to ensure every vote is counted. Let’s show respect for the people who have taken the time to exercise their right to vote.

If Biden wins it is my hope Sen. Mitch McConnell will repeat what he tweeted back in September when he promised a smooth transition. The time has come for us to move on from the Trump presidency and reclaim our democracy. We must say it loud and clear using the hashtags #everyvotecounts and #democracyrising when we speak of this election. We must show respect to all Americans and tell them #countonus.

While we wait for the final result of the presidential election it’s time to celebrate all the amazing local election results. Among others they include the first two gay African-American men going to Congress from New York. It includes Sarah McBride becoming the highest-ranking transgender official in the country, having won a Senate seat in Delaware.

We should congratulate all the voters who turned out in record numbers despite a pandemic, an economic collapse, and so many attempts to stop them.

When Trump declared victory before all the votes were counted it was like calling 2020 an amazing year in February. It could be compared to George W. Bush declaring “Mission Accomplished.” In our democracy, the voters pick our leaders, our leaders don’t get to choose which votes they want to count.

As we move toward the final certified result for the presidential election there is the crucial vote for who controls the Senate and it looks like Democrats will fall short. If that happens it will make it very difficult for a President Biden to move his agenda forward.

If this campaign has seemed endless it is because it was. It has caused many to feel the type of stress they never felt before. It has been a totally different campaign as it had to be mostly virtual. Whatever the results kudos to the Biden team, which did a yeoman’s job. Most of them working from their homes and never meeting the people working with them around the country in person. Those like finance director Katie Petrelius and her staff who managed to raise more money than any previous campaign had ever done all without the lure of donors getting to meet the candidate.

So once again, take a deep breath while you wait for the final results. When they are in I think Democrats will be able to celebrate.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

Commentary

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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