Connect with us

National

FBI 2019 Hate-Crimes Report released- Third of total directed at LGBTQ people

Nearly one-third of hate crimes were directed at LGBTQ people

Published

on

2019 FBI Hate Crimes report graphic courtesy FBI

WASHINGTON – In the annual report issued this week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, (FBI) that tabulates bias-motivated incidents throughout the United States, nearly one-third of hate crimes were directed at LGBTQ people.

The 2019 information was submitted by 15,588 law enforcement agencies, outlines data about the offenses, victims, offenders, and locations of hate crimes. Because reporting hate crimes to the FBI is not mandatory, those statistics likely represent only a fraction of such violence against the LGBTQ community.

The number of law enforcement agencies reporting hate crimes data decreased by 451 from 2018 to 2019 the FBI noted. “Law enforcement agencies submitted incident reports involving 7,314 criminal incidents and 8,559 related offenses as being motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity,” the report’s executive summary read.

Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala, of the Los Angeles Police Department told the Blade that the LAPD was completely committed to not only investigating Hate Crimes but working with local community leaders and activists to help stem the frequency of these types of incidents. “As a community, our collective commitment must be unwavering –to protect, support, and defend the rights and safety of all transgender Angelenos, Girmala said. She then added, repeating her statement released for the City of Los Angeles Transgender Awareness Month campaign, “Nothing and no one thrives in the shadows. Let light, unity, and the goal of equality define our message during Transgender Awareness Month.”

The report shows that hate crimes based on sexual orientation represent 16.8% of hate crimes, the third largest category after race and religion. The report also shows an uptick in gender identity based hate crimes rising from 4.2% in 2018 to 4.8% in 2019.

“Yet another year with alarming levels of bias-motivated crimes underscores just how urgent it is to address this hate crimes epidemic. This year, we saw a tragic new record of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people in this country, particularly against Black and Brown transgender women.,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David noted in a media statement.

These alarming statistics represent real trauma for individuals and families across this country who have to bear the brunt of these hate crimes. As the Biden-Harris administration assumes office, we must recommit ourselves to advocating for mandatory hate crimes reporting across the country, better training for law enforcement officers to recognize bias-motivated crimes, and greater inclusion and equity in our communities,” he added.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Missouri

‘Trans is beautiful’ Missouri high school senior says, defies haters

Young told the Kansas City Star newspaper that the hatred would not deter her from living her life authentically

Published

on

17-year-old Tristan Young described the joy she felt when two weeks ago her peers at suburban Oak Park High School had chosen her for their 2023 homecoming queen. (Screenshot/Kansas City Star video)

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In a recent interview with the Kansas City Star newspaper, 17-year-old Tristan Young described the joy she felt when two weeks ago her peers at suburban Oak Park High School had chosen her for their 2023 homecoming queen.

Tristan Young, center, crowned homecoming queen standing alongside other candidates.
(Photo Credit: Oak Park High School North Kansas City School District/Facebook)

As the Young approached midfield at half-time in the game, along with the four other nominees, she told the Star she heard the roar of her classmates cheering and applauding at the sound of her name. She was chosen queen and for the transgender senior it was ‘the’ moment.

“I was so overwhelmed,” Young told the Star. “I thought I was never going to be in this position. And, in that moment, I had tears welling in my eyes because I just felt so supported. And I just felt like, this school wants me to be who I am, and not who other people want me to be.”

However, the next day Young was caught up in an explosion of transphobic hate speech and threats from across the United States.

The transphobic hate and threats was spread on Facebook, Instagram, and on X, formerly known as Twitter, where the notorious Libs of TikTok, a handle for the far-right anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech social-media accounts operated by Chaya Raichik- a former Brooklyn, New York real estate agent, spread the anti-trans messaging directed at Young.

Libs of TikTok has millions of followers and the account’s vitriol and hate speech has in the past fomented and instigated threats against the LGBTQ+ community and allies.

The Star also reported that with the deluge of hatred directed at the teenager, family members including a sister attending university in Boston became alarmed and called home.

“She was worried about Tristan being safe,” said Chari Young, the senior’s mother told the Star.

Responding to the threats Young told the paper,

“The comment that has stuck with me,” Young said, “was that I should have been dragged off the field by my hair and beaten up.”

While no one is certain how the news spread nationally, although once Raichik posted about young, the inevitable tsunami of hate followed. Ironically the Star reported that Young was in fact the second transwoman crowned homecoming queen at Oak Park High.

Nearly 8 years to the day on September 15, 2015, Landon Patterson, 18, was named homecoming queen.

Landon Patterson in September of 2015 after being named homecoming queen at Oak Park High School. (Screenshot/KMBC ABC 9)

Young told the paper that the hatred would not deter her from living her life authentically.

“I’m just not one of those people,” Young said. “I like to stay strong. I don’t really buckle unless something is really wrong. Right now, what’s happening is people are trying to turn a joyous thing into something that I should regret. But it’s going to stay a joyous thing.” She added that ‘Trans is beautiful.”

Local advocacy groups and others including former trans homecoming queen Patterson have rallied to the teen’s side.

Justice Horn, the chair of the Kansas City LGBTQ Commission, posted on X: “I uplift this against the transphobic comments against this young person.”

“I told her stay strong. You’re gorgeous. You’re beautiful. And no matter what these people say, they can’t take away this crown. They can’t take away this moment from you,” Patterson told The Star, adding, “Everything is amplified as a kid. Choosing yourself over everyone else’s opinion takes a lot of courage and bravery. … All these things that they said about her, that they said about me, what they say about trans people, it’s truly just ignorance. They probably don’t even know a trans person. They’re just saying things to be hateful. “Being trans is a reality. This is our life. It’s not going away.”

Additional reporting by the Kansas City Star and wire service reports.

Watch:

Continue Reading

Congress

House averts shutdown, clears bipartisan spending bill

Conservative members of GOP caucus warned they would replace the Speaker if he cooperated with Democrats on a deal to avoid a shutdown

Published

on

U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) speaks in favor of the stop gap funding measure Saturday. (Screen capture/PBS News)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House on Saturday approved a 45-day continuing resolution that, should the Senate approve the stopgap measure, as expected, will avert a government shutdown.

In a stunning turn of events, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats backed the proposal, H.R. 5860 advanced by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), which was passed with a vote of 335-91.

Ninety Republicans and one Democrat voted against the continuing resolution which, in addition to funding U.S. government agencies through mid-November, will provide billions in disaster relief .

(Screenshot C-SPAN)

Democrats agreed to the bill even though it did not contain U.S. aid to Ukraine. Still, the most conservative members of McCarthy’s caucus have warned they would replace their speaker if he cooperated with Democrats on a deal to avoid a shutdown.

In recent weeks, these members advanced far-right anti-LGBTQ amendments to spending packages that stood no chance of becoming law.

The Senate voted 88-9 to pass a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government at current levels through Nov. 17 and gives the Biden administration $16 billion it requested to assist victims of natural disasters.

“Bipartisanship, which has been the trademark of the Senate, has prevailed. And the American people can breathe a sigh of relief,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters.

After the Senate voted late Saturday evening to pass the House stop-gap continuing resolution, the White House released the following statement from President Biden:

“Tonight, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans. This bill ensures that active-duty troops will continue to get paid, travelers will be spared airport delays, millions of women and children will continue to have access to vital nutrition assistance, and so much more. This is good news for the American people.

But I want to be clear: we should never have been in this position in the first place. Just a few months ago, Speaker McCarthy and I reached a budget agreement to avoid precisely this type of manufactured crisis. For weeks, extreme House Republicans tried to walk away from that deal by demanding drastic cuts that would have been devastating for millions of Americans. They failed.

While the Speaker and the overwhelming majority of Congress have been steadfast in their support for Ukraine, there is no new funding in this agreement to continue that support. We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted. I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.”

Biden is expected to sign the measure once it is delivered to the White House before the midnight deadline.

Speaker McCarthy’s Press Conference After House Passage of 45-Day Stop-Gap:

Continue Reading

Virginia

Virginia students walk-out protesting trans Outing policy

Students have been organizing walkouts across Virginia since Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced new guidelines for trans & nonbinary students

Published

on

Dozens of Virginia Beach high school students, all dressed in black, addressed the school board on Tuesday in opposition of the 2023 model policies for trans students. (Photo Credit: Screenshot/WAVY-TV Norfolk)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board potentially approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

According to NBC affiliate WAVY 3, the Virginia Beach School Board has delayed a vote on proposed updates on its current non-discrimination policy that in some ways is consistent with Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s model policy, and in other ways, is taken verbatim.

A vote is now expected at the board’s Oct. 10 meeting, WAVY reported.

Dozens of LGBTQ+ students came out to the school board’s meeting and spoke out during public comment. The group was dressed in black to symbolize the deaths of their identities if VBCPS aligns the current non-discrimination policies with Youngkin’s model policy.

*************************************************************************************

Cal Benn, is a journalism major at Emerson College who is in D.C. with the Washington Center, and is a Fall intern at the Washington Blade.

Benn’s work focuses on human rights, climate change and how the two issues intersect. They are also passionate about sustainability, advocacy and writing and enjoy skateboarding and playing with their cats when they are not writing.

Continue Reading

Crime & Justice

Massachusetts woman pleads guilty in anti-trans bomb threat

She admitted calling in the threat to Boston Children’s Hospital, but stated that she had no plan or intention to actually bomb the hospital

Published

on

Gender Multispeciality Service (GeMS) Program, Boston Children’s Hospital. (Photo Credit: Boston Children’s Hospital)

BOSTON – A Westfield woman pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Boston to calling in a hoax bomb threat against Boston Children’s Hospital. 

Catherine Leavy, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false bomb threat and one count of intentionally conveying false or misleading information that a bomb was on the way to Boston Children’s Hospital. U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for March 19, 2024. Leavy was initially arrested and charged by criminal complaint in September 2022 and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2022. 

In August 2022, law enforcement began monitoring threats made against Boston Children’s Hospital and its employees. Among the wide range of healthcare services it provides, Boston Children’s Hospital is home to the Gender Multispecialty Service (GeMS) program – a healthcare program focused on gender-diverse and transgender adolescents. 

On Aug. 30, 2022, Boston Children’s Hospital received a telephonic bomb threat in which the caller said, “There is a bomb on the way to the hospital, you better evacuate everybody you sickos.” As a result of the call, the hospital and surrounding area was placed on lockdown status and a bomb squad was dispatched. An investigation determined no explosive devices were located at the hospital. Subscriber and call detail records and location information for the phone number that called in the threat determined that the phone number was subscribed in Leavy’s name. In addition, cell tower data indicated the phone was nearby Leavy’s residence at the time the bomb threat was made. 

During a search of Leavy’s residence on Sept. 15, 2022, the phone used to make the threat was recovered. In an on-scene interview with law enforcement, Leavy expressed disapproval of Boston Children’s Hospital on multiple occasions. Leavy also admitted that she called in the threat to Boston Children’s Hospital on Aug. 30, 2022, but stated that she had no plan or intention to actually bomb the hospital.

The charge of making a false bomb threat provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of intentionally conveying false or misleading information provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Continue Reading

State Department

State Department hosts five intersex activists from around the world

Group met with policy makers, health officials, NGOs

Published

on

The State Department last week hosted a group of intersex activists from around the world. (Courtesy photo)

WASHINGTON — The State Department last week hosted five intersex activists from around the world.

Kimberly Zieselman, a prominent intersex activist who advises Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ+ and intersex rights abroad, brought the activists to D.C.

• Morgan Carpenter, co-founder and executive director of Intersex Human Rights Australia

• Natasha Jiménez, an intersex activist from Costa Rica who is the general coordinator of Mulabi, the Latin American Space for Sexualities and Rights

• Julius Kaggwa, founder of the Support Initiative for People with Atypical Sex Development Uganda

• Magda Rakita, co-founder and executive director of Fujdacja Interakcja in Poland and co-founder of Interconnected UK

• Esan Regmi, co-founder and executive director of the Campaign for Change in Nepal.

Special U.S. Envoy for Global Youth Issues Abby Finkenauer and Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine are among the officials with whom the activists met.

Zieselman told the Washington Blade on Sept. 21 the activists offered State Department officials an “intersex 101” overview during a virtual briefing.

More than 60 Save the Children staffers from around the world participated in another virtual briefing. Zieselman noted the activists also met with Stern, U.N. and Organization of American States officials, funders and NGO representatives while in D.C.

“The people we met were genuinely interested,” Rakita told the Blade.

Stern in an exclusive statement to the Blade said “the visiting intersex activists clearly had an impact here at State, sharing their expertise and lived experience highlighting the urgency to end human rights abuses, including those involving harmful medical practices against intersex persons globally.” Andrew Gleason, senior director for gender equality and social justice at Save the Children US, in a LinkedIn post he wrote after attending his organization’s meeting with the activists echoed Stern.

“There are many learnings to recount from today’s discussion, but one thing is clear, this is unequivocally a child rights issue, and one that demands attention and action at the intersection of LGBTQI+ rights, reproductive rights and justice, disability justice and more,” wrote Gleason. “Gratitude to the panelists for sharing such poignant testimonies and providing insights into what organizations like ours can do to contribute to the broader intersex movement; and thank you to Kimberly for your leadership and bringing this group together.”

The activists’ trip to D.C. coincided with efforts to end so-called sex “normalization” surgeries on intersex children.

Greek lawmakers in July passed a law that bans such procedures on children under 15 unless they offer their consent or a court allows them to happen. Doctors who violate the statute face fines and prison.

Germany Iceland, Malta, Portugal and Spain have also enacted laws that seek to protect intersex youth. 

A law that grants equal rights and legal recognition to intersex people in Kenya took effect in July 2022. Lawmakers in the Australian Capital Territory earlier this year passed the Variation in Sex Characteristics (Restricted Medical Treatment) Bill 2023.

Intersex Human Rights Australia notes the law implements “mechanisms to regulate non-urgent medical care to encourage child participation in medical decisions, establish groundbreaking oversight mechanisms and provide transparency on medical practices and decision making.” It further points out the statute “will criminalize some deferrable procedures that permanently alter the sex characteristics of children” and provides “funding for necessary psychosocial supports for families and children.”

“It’s amazing,” Carpenter told the Blade when discussing the law and resistance to it. “It’s not perfect. There was some big gaps, but physicians are resisting every step of the way.”

The State Department in April 2022 began to issue passports with an “X” gender marker.

Dana Zzyym, an intersex U.S. Navy veteran who identifies as non-binary, in 2015 filed a federal lawsuit against the State Department after it denied their application for a passport with an “X” gender marker. Zzyym in October 2021 received the first gender-neutral American passport.

Continue Reading

Congress

McCarthy dealt another blow by far-right GOP seeking to oust him

In January, McCarthy narrowly secured his bid for the speakership after an unprecedented 15 votes from his caucus

Published

on

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California (Washington Blade photo by Michaël Key)

WASHINGTON – After joining with the Democrats on Friday to sabotage House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (Calif.) plan to forestall a government shutdown with a last-ditch spending package, a group of far-right members are now focused on replacing him.

The stop-gap funding bill was defeated 232-198 with more than 20 Republicans voting against the measure.

House GOP sources tell the Washington Blade that removing McCarthy from the speaker’s chair is now a top priority, along with resisting pressure from Senate Republicans seeking to broker a deal to avoid allowing funding to lapse.

These sources confirmed reporting in the Washington Post about discussions of tapping U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (Minn.) to become the chamber’s top Republican, though the congressman told CBS Minnesota/WCCO News, “I fully support Speaker McCarthy. He knows that and I know that. I have zero interest in palace intrigue. End of discussion.”

While Emmer was among the 39 House Republicans who voted with the Democrats in support of the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects the rights of couples in same-sex marriages, in April he was among the more vocal members pushing for a federal ban to prohibit transgender women and girls from competing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

In January, McCarthy narrowly secured his bid for the speakership after an unprecedented 15 votes from his caucus. Many of the same members now calling for his replacement demanded concessions, including conditioning their votes on McCarthy’s agreement to allow any member to call for a motion to vacate the chair at any time.

During the votes, which were held over a period of five days, other members like U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) were nominated for the position.

Continue Reading

Congress

Dianne Feinstein dies

Calif. Democrat elected to U.S. Senate in 1992

Published

on

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) attends a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Sept. 4, 2018, to consider the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has died at the age of 90.

Her office in a statement said the California Democrat, who has served in the U.S. Senate since 1992, passed away at her Washington home on Thursday night.

Feinstein in 1978 became San Francisco’s mayor after the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and openly gay Supervisor Harvey Milk. 

“Her passing is a great loss for so many, from those who loved and cared for her to the people of California that she dedicated her life to serving,” reads the statement that Feinstein’s office released.

“Senator Feinstein never backed away from a fight for what was just and right,” it added. “At the same time, she was always willing to work with anyone, even those she disagreed with, if it meant bettering the lives of Californians or the betterment of our nation.”

President Joe Biden, who served alongside Feinstein in the Senate from 1992 to 2009, released a statement calling her “a pioneering American,” “a true trailblazer,” and “for Jill and me, a cherished friend.”

“In San Francisco, she showed enormous poise and courage in the wake of tragedy, and became a powerful voice for American values. Serving in the Senate together for more than 15 years, I had a front row seat to what Dianne was able to accomplish. It’s why I recruited her to serve on the Judiciary Committee when I was Chairman – I knew what she was made of, and I wanted her on our team.

“There’s no better example of her skillful legislating and sheer force of will than when she turned passion into purpose, and led the fight to ban assault weapons. Dianne made her mark on everything from national security to the environment to protecting civil liberties. She’s made history in so many ways, and our country will benefit from her legacy for generations.

“Often the only woman in the room, Dianne was a role model for so many Americans – a job she took seriously by mentoring countless public servants, many of whom now serve in my Administration. She had an immense impact on younger female leaders for whom she generously opened doors. Dianne was tough, sharp, always prepared, and never pulled a punch, but she was also a kind and loyal friend, and that’s what Jill and I will miss the most.

“As we mourn with her daughter Katherine and the Feinstein family, her team in the Senate, and the people of California, we take comfort that Dianne is reunited again with her beloved Richard. May God Bless Dianne Feinstein.”

The Vice President of the United States, Kamala D. Harris & U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) (Official White House photo)

Vice President Kamala Harris, who served alongside Feinstein as U.S. Senator for California from 2017 to 2021 and, previously, was California attorney general and San Francisco district attorney, issued the following statement:

“Senator Dianne Feinstein was one of the greatest public servants that California and our nation has ever known.

“As the first woman president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the first woman to serve as mayor of San Francisco, and the longest-tenured woman to serve in the United States Senate, Dianne Feinstein broke barriers, inspired generations of women to run for office, and improved the lives of millions of Americans through her vision, courage, and leadership.

“From her work to help pass the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994, to her work to safeguard California’s public lands, and her longstanding advocacy for reproductive rights, marriage equality, and LGBTQ+ rights, Senator Feinstein helped build a better America.

“For years, I witnessed Senator Feinstein’s leadership, when the cameras were on and when they were off. In 2008, when I was re-elected District Attorney of San Francisco, it was Senator Feinstein who swore me in. As a United States Senator, it was my honor to serve the people of California alongside Senator Feinstein.

“On the Senate Intelligence Committee, we spent a great deal of time together—in classified, bipartisan briefings and hearings—working on issues critical to America’s national security and the stability of the world. Senator Feinstein and I shared a fundamental belief in the importance of strong American leadership. And I saw firsthand how she worked courageously to ensure that our leadership was guided by our nation’s values.

“In the tradition of so many great Senators from California, she was not only a leader for our state, but for our nation and our world. Through her long career, Senator Feinstein worked across the aisle to help our nation live up to its promise.

“Doug and I send our prayers to Senator Feinstein’s family.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom shared a statment on X.

Addressing the Senate floor on Friday, California Sen. Alex Padilla (D) said, “long before being able to serve together here in the Senate, Diane gave me one of my first jobs in politics in her Los Angeles office. At a time early in my career, when I was looking to make a difference for my community, and for our state. It’s in part thanks to her groundbreaking career that a Latino son of immigrants could one day not just work for her but work alongside her to keep up the fight for the American dream.”

Padilla also shared an anecdote about how Feinstein showed him a photograph, from her archives, of the AIDS Walk San Francisco in 1987, which she had inscribed with a handwritten note.

Also speaking from the floor in tribute to their late colleague following an address from the Senate Chaplain and a moment of silence were Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).

The statement by U.S. House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) touched on the senator’s early career in Democratic politics: “Dianne was a pioneering woman leader, who served as San Francisco’s first female Mayor with unmatched courage, poise and grace.  Standing strong amid horror and heartbreak – from the brutal murders of Harvey Milk and George Moscone to the deadly HIV/AIDs epidemic – she offered our City a beacon of strength and hope.”

“Personally, it was a great honor to serve alongside Dianne for decades – from the hilly streets of San Francisco to the hallowed halls of Congress,” Pelosi said. “We were not only colleagues, but neighbors and friends.”

She added, “My daughter, Nancy Corinne, has long been an admirer and devoted friend of Senator Feinstein, and we were all close friends with her and her late husband, Richard.”

LGBTQ groups issue statements on Feinstein’s passing

“Senator Dianne Feinstein’s passing is a loss for us all,” tweeted Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson. “Her steadfast support for the LGBTQ+ community and the fight for justice will be remembered. We carry her legacy forward in our relentless pursuit of equality without exception.”

Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, released a statement from Executive Director Tony Hoang on Friday. “Senator Feinstein devoted her life to serving the people of California and our nation, championing LGBTQ+ civil rights, reproductive freedom, gun safety reform and democracy throughout her remarkable career. Senator Feinstein stood with our community back when few others did, fighting for funding and action to combat the AIDS crisis when most elected officials chose to look away.”

“On the Board of Supervisors and then as Mayor, she played a crucial role in uniting San Francisco after the horrific assassinations of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, demonstrating exceptional leadership and compassion at a time when our LGBTQ+ community needed it most,” the group wrote.

“Her role in American history is unmistakably intertwined with LGBTQ+ history and the assassination of Supervisor Harvey Milk,” PFLAG said. “She had been a constant and strident advocate for LGBTQ+ rights ever since, supporting marriage equality, military service for LGBTQ+ people, the Equality Act, and so much more.

“PFLAG families in California and across the country mourn the loss of this stalwart advocate who worked to make our laws just and equitable so every LGBTQ+ person could live with dignity and respect.”

“Harvey Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk posted “After the assassination of Uncle Harvey – Senator Feinstein rose to national attention – determined, unwavering champion on women’s rights, gun control & eventually a consistent supporter of LGBTQ inclusion,” Stuart Milk, co-founder and president of the Harvey Milk Foundation, posted on X. “She is the patron of the USNS Harvey Milk -deep condolences Godspeed Dianne,” he wrote, referring to the U.S. Navy ship named for the late gay rights pioneer.

National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Kierra Johnson said, “The loss of Senator Feinstein’s voice as an advocate and champion is immeasurable. Our hearts are with her family during this time. She was a champion for those who call California home and those seeking justice everywhere.”

“She was a trailblazer who paved the way for so many. Her deep roots in the queer community, forged as a city councilmember in San Francisco and shaped by her relationship with Harvey Milk, contributed to her unwavering supporting for LGBTQ people,” Johnson said.

She added that Feinstein was “a leader who took risks. She was an original cosponsor of the Equality Act and a key champion for legislation like the Violence Against Women Act. She is succeeded by and undoubtedly inspired a deep bench of congress people like Tammy Baldwin who are bold and  unapologetic freedom fighters who are unrelenting in their quest for freedom and justice for all! She will be deeply missed.”

A look back at Feinstein’s career

A native San Franciscan born in the city on June 22, 1933, she first attended San Francisco public schools and then graduated from the Convent of the Sacred Heart High School in 1951.

She earned her degree at Stanford University in Palo Alto in 1955 and became actively involved in government service first serving as a member of the California Women’s Board of Terms and Parole 1960-1966.

In her first foray into city politics she won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors representing the Marina neighborhood, serving from 1970-1978, and as president 1970-1971, 1974-1975, 1978.

In 1978 Feinstein was thrust into the state and national political spotlight when on November 27, 1978 she became the mayor of San Francisco, after disgruntled former city supervisor Dan White entered City Hall and assassinated Mayor George Moscone after Moscone refused to appoint White back into his seat he had resigned from days before. White then also murdered openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk who had sparred with White over gay rights and had opposed White getting his seat back.

Feinstein served as mayor for ten years from 1978-1988 then she served on the board as a director of the Bank of California 1988-1989 at which point she made an unsuccessful run as a candidate for Governor of California in 1990.

After losing that race for governor in 1990, Feinstein later won a special election on November 3, 1992, as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. The special election was triggered by the resignation of Pete Wilson, who had defeated her in the 1990 gubernatorial election. She took office on November 4, 1992, and was subsequently reelected in 1994, 2000, 2006, 2012, and again in 2018 for the term ending January 3, 2025.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (Photo Credit: Rick Gerharter/Bay Area Reporter)

Feinstein’s record on LGBTQ+ rights was mixed

Senator Feinstein’s record on LGBTQ+ rights was mixed as reported on by San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ newspaper The Bay Area Reporter’s Assistant Editor John Ferrannini who noted:

Earlier in that campaign [1979] she’d faced some opposition from members of the LGBTQ community after she made remarks to Ladies’ Home Journal perceived as homophobic, but later won community support after gay candidate David Scott endorsed her in a runoff against independent Quentin Kopp. Scott endorsed Feinstein after she committed to appoint a gay person to the police oversight panel, which Feinstein followed through on with her appointment of lesbian Jo Daly.

Feinstein’s veto of city employee benefits for domestic partners led to a recall effort in 1983, though she won 81% to 18%.

[…]

 In the Senate she was one of the few Democratic members who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which had been supported by then-senator and current President Joe Biden (D). The last vestiges of DOMA were formally repealed in December when Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act. DOMA had key provisions struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 (Section 3, U.S. v. Windsor) and 2015 (Section 2, Obergefell v. Hodges).

Feinstein was never without controversy though, and in 2004 upset more progressive Democrats when she said then-mayor and now Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to order San Francisco officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples was “too much, too fast, too soon.”

[…]

She was criticized in 2020 when she said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing was “one of the best” and hugged Senator Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina), then the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Barrett’s vote last June on the Supreme Court was key for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which had protected abortion as a constitutional right, a key issue for Feinstein.

In 2017 the Senator openly criticized then President Trump’s ban on trans military service.

Feinstein in February announced her decision to retire at the end of her term. “I am announcing today I will not run for reelection in 2024 but intend to accomplish as much for California as I can through the end of next year when my term ends,” she said in a statement.

Out gay California state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) wrote on Twitter:

“Dianne Feinstein has been a trailblazer for more than 50 years,” he stated. “Her accomplishments are legion. We’re so proud of her in San Francisco & grateful for her service to our city & our state.”

Equality California released a statement from Hoang:

“Throughout her storied political career, Dianne Feinstein has been a champion for LGBTQ+ rights – from her early days on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors serving alongside Harvey Milk, to her historic service as the first woman Mayor of San Francisco and the first woman to represent California in the United States Senate.

“From being one of only 14 Senators to oppose the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 to being the lead Senate sponsor on the recently-signed Respect for Marriage Act, which repealed DOMA, Senator Feinstein has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of not only her constituents, but all LGBTQ+ Americans.

“She has supported landmark federal hate crime legislation, fought for access to life-saving treatment for people living with HIV, sponsored the Equality Act, spoken out in support of LGBTQ+ service members before and after ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, and has stood up for our community – even before it was popular to do so and when it presented significant political risks. Senator Feinstein has also been a leading champion in the fight against gun violence, recently reintroducing legislation to ban high-capacity magazines in the wake of deadly mass shootings like those at Club Q – an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado.  Equality California has been proud to call her a friend and ally –we are eternally grateful for her service and will continue to work with her as she finishes out her term.”

Additional reporting by Michael Lavers and Brody Levesque

Continue Reading

U.S. Federal Courts

Federal appeals court lets gender-affirming ban stand in Tennessee

Samantha & Brian Williams of Nashville, TN & their 15-year-old trans daughter are challenging a Tennessee law banning gender-affirming care

Published

on

Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo Credit: U.S. Courts/GSA)

CINCINNATI, Ohio – The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals today rejected a request from families and medical providers to block a Tennessee law banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. Today’s ruling follows an earlier ruling by the Appeals Court rejecting a stay request to block enforcement of the law which took effect in July 2023. 


Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP issued the following joint statement:

“This is a devastating result for transgender youth and their families in Tennessee and across the region. The disastrous impact of Tennessee’s law and all others like it has already been felt in thousands of homes and communities. Denying transgender youth equality before the law and needlessly withholding the necessary medical care their families and their doctors know is right for them has caused and will continue to cause serious harm. We are assessing our next steps and will take further action in defense of our clients and the constitutional rights of transgender people in Tennessee and across the country.”

In April 2023, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP filed a lawsuit to oppose the law on behalf of Samantha and Brian Williams of Nashville and their 15-year-old daughter, L.W., as well as two other anonymous families and Dr. Susan N. Lacy. The law prohibits medical providers from treating transgender youth with evidence-based gender-affirming medical treatment and requires youth currently receiving gender-affirming care to end that care by March 31, 2024.

Samantha and Brian Williams of Nashville, TN and their 15-year-old transgender daughter are challenging a Tennessee law banning gender-affirming care for transgender people under 18. Tennessee is home to over 3,000 transgender adolescents and the health care banned by this law is supported by the entire mainstream of the medical community.

District courts have unanimously blocked such bans in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In August 2023, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Alabama’s ban to take effect while a legal challenge against it proceeds.

In June 2023, a federal court in Arkansas struck down that state’s ban on gender-affirming care in the first ruling on the merits of such a law, finding it violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Continue Reading

Congress

House passes amendment targeting LGBTQ+ USDA workers

“In a clear indication moderates are completely controlled by the extreme fringe, they’re passing blatantly homophobic legislation”

Published

on

Rep. Lauren Boebert (left) inspecting melons at a USDA certified processing center in August, 2023. (Photo Credit: Office of U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert)

WASHINGTON – House Republicans on Wednesday pushed through a proposal by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) that would prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using federally appropriated funds for materials supporting the agency’s LGBTQ employees.

Passing by just three votes in the face of unified opposition from Democrats, along with one GOP member, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), the measure will never be signed into law amid Democratic control of the Senate and White House.

For weeks, Boebert and her ideological allies in the lower chamber have dashed hopes of forestalling a government shutdown by insisting on ladening must-pass spending bills with far-right demands, often targeting the LGBTQ community and initiatives promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Even so, the aim and scope of the Colorado congresswoman’s amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill was striking.

Among the 17 types of “courses, books, or study guides” circumscribed in the measure are those concerning “approaching LGBT issues in the workplace,” “understanding and supporting LGBTQ+ employees,” “becoming an ally to all,” “conversations with LGBTQ+ leaders on the power of identity,” and “creating an inclusive work community” for transgender employees.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Viet Shelton condemned House Republicans’ passage of the amendment in a statement shared with the Washington Blade:

“In a clear indication that so-called moderate Republicans are now completely controlled by their extreme fringes, they are now passing such blatantly homophobic legislation that mandates federal employees be discriminated against in the workplace,” he said. “Their focus on these hateful policies while ignoring middle class families struggling with rising costs is why they will lose their majority in Congress next year.”

Continue Reading

Congress

Boebert denigrates, misgenders trans Pentagon official

“Rep. Boebert, just spent 5 minutes misgendering & attacking our Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness—just because she’s trans”

Published

on

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) addresses a crowd outside of the U.S. Capitol building earlier this year. (Photo Credit: Office of Rep. Lauren Boebert)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) denigrated and deliberately misgendered Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness Shawn Skelly, the Pentagon’s highest ranked transgender official, during a debate Wednesday over amendments to a defense appropriations bill.

In remarks that stirred outrage from her Democratic colleagues, the congresswoman called Skelly a “delusional man thinking he is a woman” and the embodiment of “woke-ism” before proposing an amendment that would reduce her salary to a dollar.

Skelly served on active duty in the U.S. Navy for 20 years as a naval flight officer before retiring with the rank of commander. Her record of service includes senior positions with the Defense and Transportation Departments during the Obama administration.

“Assistant Secretary Skelly has served in her role admirably, as she has done as her time as a naval officer,” responded Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.), stressing each of the feminine pronouns as she spoke.

The second-term Colorado representative countered with more transphobic comments: “if you want to call Mr. Skelly a her, his chromosomes are still XY, and we trust the science over here rather than delusion and playing dress up and imaginary games with our military readiness. “

Boebert is among the more vocal members of an ultraconservative cohort of House Republicans who, in recent weeks, have sabotaged efforts to clear must-pass appropriations spending packages before October 1 to forestall a government shutdown.

Members of the far-right faction have attached to these bills controversial, partisan, and often anti-LGBTQ amendments — effectively dooming their chances of passage by the U.S. Senate amid Democratic control of the chamber.

With respect to the Defense Department spending bill, for example, GOP members have advanced proposals that would defund healthcare services for transgender service members and ban Pride flags from military bases.

On X, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, wrote that “Republicans claim to support the military but Rep. Boebert, just spent 5 minutes misgendering & attacking our Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness—just because she’s trans. Ms. Skelly serves our country w/ honor. I can’t say the same for Boebert.”

The Caucus added, “It’s disgusting that a Member of Congress would use their platform on the House Floor to misgender & attack a top-ranking @DeptofDefense official and veteran just because she’s a trans woman.”

Continue Reading

Popular