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Biden, Harris inauguration events mostly virtual

Billy Porter to perform at HRC’s ‘LGBTQ Inaugural Ball’

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Joe Biden, gay news, Washington Blade
President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at noon. There will not be a public audience for the oath due to COVID restrictions.

WASHINGTON – The Presidential Inaugural Committee for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is calling on the LGBTQ community to participate in several planned virtual inaugural events that reflect the theme of “America United,” an inaugural official told LGBTQ representatives at a Jan. 12 online briefing.

“We are looking forward to the inaugural ceremonies in which the American people and the world will witness the peaceful transition of power,” said Rina Patel, the inaugural committee’s Associate Director of Coalitions before a Zoom gathering of close to 50 representatives of LGBTQ organizations from across the country.

“This will mark a new day for the American people focused on healing our nation, bringing our country together, and building back together,” she said.

Patel noted that the inaugural swearing-in ceremony for Biden and Harris, which will take place outside the U.S. Capitol, will not be open for in-person viewing and will be restricted mainly to members of Congress.

“In order to be mindful of COVID-19 guidelines there are no public tickets available for the inauguration,” she said. “I know some folks are excited about being in D.C., but we are really encouraging everyone to stay home and not to travel to D.C.”

At least three national LGBTQ organizations, meanwhile, were scheduled to hold their own inaugural celebrations in honor of the incoming Biden-Harris administration.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, announced it is joining “community partners” in holding a virtual LGBTQ Inaugural Ball on Jan. 20 called the Power of Unity.

“This not-to-be-missed virtual event will feature musical performances and special appearances from equality leaders across the LGBTQ movement,” a statement promoting the event says. Among the performers scheduled to appear, the statement says, is Billy Porter, the Grammy, Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor, singer and activist who stars in the FX hit series “Pose.”

HRC is billing the event as a fundraiser with suggested levels of donations of $400, $250, $175, $100, and $35, with financial supporters having access to an online reception and having their name posted as an official sponsor. But HRC says people can also attend the online Inaugural Ball free of charge by registering in advance of the event.

The Center for Black Equity, the D.C.-based national LGBTQ advocacy organization that organizes the nation’s Black Pride events, is holding its own virtual inaugural ball on Jan. 20, according to Executive Director Earl Fowlkes. Fowlkes said some LGBTQ elected officials were expected to speak at the event along with Reggie Greer, who served as the LGBTQ liaison for the Biden presidential campaign.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which raises money and provides logistical support for openly LGBTQ candidates running for public office, was scheduled to hold a virtual Inauguration 2021 fundraising event on Jan. 14. 
In a statement on its website, the group said the event would celebrate “the queerest U.S. Congress in history!” a reference to the record number of LGBTQ candidates elected or re-elected to Congress in the 2020 election. Nine U.S. House members and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), were expected to appear at the Victory Fund event.

The Biden inauguration was scheduled to take place two weeks after the Jan. 6 Capitol riots in which hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building in a siege that took the lives of five people, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

The Biden-Harris inaugural committee has said it was working closely with the U.S. Secret Service, D.C. police, and a Capitol Police force with new leadership to ensure the security and safety of all those participating in the few in-person inaugural events.  

Patel and Carrie Gay, another inaugural committee official, told the LGBTQ representatives at the Jan. 12 online briefing about at least three virtual inaugural events that community-based organizations, including LGBTQ groups, could participate in.

The two said one of the events scheduled for Jan. 18 was being organized in conjunction with the annual Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service. Community organizations throughout the country, including LGBTQ organizations, were being invited to organize events assisting those in need that would be publicized on the inaugural committee’s website, Gay told the briefing. Most of the events were to be virtual.

“Events will focus on COVID-19 relief and address challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, such as poverty, hunger, racial injustice, homelessness, mental health, and educational disparities,” a statement released by the inaugural committee says.

“The Presidential Inaugural Committee is asking Americans everywhere to participate in community service and urging them to sign up to volunteer at bideninaugural.org/day-of-service and encourage their friends, family, and neighbors to join,” the statement says.

Patel told the LGBTQ representatives participating in the Zoom briefing that the inaugural committee would welcome posting information on its website about their respective organizations participating in the Day of Service events and participation in at least two other official inaugural events.
One of them, scheduled for Jan. 19, is being billed as a nationwide memorial to remember and honor those who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Information released by the inaugural committee says it will take place mostly virtually beginning at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time, with a D.C. ceremony featuring a first-ever lighting around the Lincoln Memorial’s Reflecting Pool.

“Buildings across the country and the Memorial Pool will be reflected in the color of light amber, which I’m assured looks great on everyone and every building,” said Patel, who invited the LGBTQ representatives to submit an application form to be listed as a participant in the memorial from their home cities or states.

“I think this will be a great moment of unity and quite frankly a catharsis for the country for us to understand and reflect on the many lives lost to COVID-19,” she said.

Patel and Gay said yet another inaugural activity called the Field of Flags will serve as a fundraising event for community-based organizations across the country, including LGBTQ organizations. According to an inaugural committee statement, the committee will arrange for the installation of an “extensive public arts display” on the National Mall in Washington during the inaugural week.

It says the display will include “approximately 191,500 U.S. flags of varying sizes, including flags representing every state and territory, and 56 pillars of light.” The display will be widely televised and available for viewing online, the statement says, adding that Americans are being invited to become a symbolic sponsor of the flags in exchange for a donation that the inaugural committee will arrange for nonprofit community organizations to receive to help them carry out their mission of helping people in need.

“Those flags are being sponsored by folks who helped us build our flag page and make a suggested donation,” Gay told the LGBTQ Zoom briefing. She was referring to a page on the inaugural committee’s website. “If your organization is listed on that page you can submit a donation form and your network of people can donate directly to your group,” she said.
In addition to the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol, the inaugural committee has announced only three other in-person events on Jan. 20, with all three involving the military.

Following the swearing-in ceremony and Biden’s inaugural address, then President Biden, the new first lady, then Vice President Harris and her husband, called the second gentleman, will participate in a Pass in Review, a longstanding military tradition in which Biden will review the readiness of military troops, according to a statement released by the inaugural committee.

“Every branch of the military will be represented in this event,” the statement says.

According to the statement, Biden, Harris and their spouses will next participate in a “Presidential Escort” from 15th Street, N.W. to the White House one block away. Similar to the Pass in Review at the Capitol, every branch of the military will also participate in this event by escorting the president and vice president in a walk to the White House with a U.S. Army Band performing along with the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard and Fife and Drum Corps.

The inaugural committee statement makes no mention of how Biden and Harris and their spouses will travel from the Capitol to 15th Street, but it’s presumed they will be traveling by presidential motorcade.

The inaugural committee statement says at some point during the day of the inauguration the new president and vice president and their spouses will go to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They will be joined by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and former President Bill Clinton and former first lady Hillary Clinton.

Due to COVID-related restrictions there will be no in-person inaugural parade, the inaugural committee statement says. However, the committee says a Virtual Parade Across America will take place on Inaugural Day that will “highlight Americans from all walks of life in different states and regions.” It will feature musical acts, local bands, poets, and dance troupes,” the statement says.

Patel said the inaugural committee invited bands and other musical performers to apply to become part of the virtual parade, which was being organized by professional producers.

Adam Sulewski, vice president of the D.C. Different Drummers, an LGBTQ marching band, told the Blade the National Association of Lesbian and Gay Bands, of which the DC Different Drummers is a member, applied to perform in the virtual parade through a video it planned to produce. Sulewski said he did not know the status of the LGBTQ band association’s application.

Patel told the briefing that the deadline for applying by entertainers to perform in the virtual parade had expired last weekend. She said she would try to facilitate an exemption to the deadline if an LGBTQ entertainment group contacts her.

“We are excited about the possibilities and opportunities this moment presents to allow all Americans to participate in our country’s sacred inaugural traditions,” said Maju Varghese, executive director of the inaugural committee in a statement referring to the virtual parade.

“This innovative programming will keep people safe and use new ways to bring Americans across the country – from rural towns and urban cities to younger and older Americans to everybody and everywhere in between.” 
Information about viewing the virtual inaugural events organized by the Biden Presidential Inaugural Committee can be obtained at bideninaugural.org.

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Kansas

Anti-LGBTQ Kansas lawmaker who assaulted student given probation

In the classroom incident last Spring students recorded videos of the lawmaker talking about suicide, sex, masturbation, God and the Bible

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Kansas State House Representative Mark Samsel (R- House District 5/Wellsville) (Photo Credit: Kansas House)

OTTAWA, Ks. – Fourth Judicial Circuit Magistrate Judge Kevin Kimball sentenced Kansas House Representative Mark Samsel, (R- House District 5/Wellsville) to 90 days in jail (suspended) and probation for a year on Monday. Samsel was convicted of assaulting a male student after a physical altercation while he was substitute teaching at the Wellsville High School last April.

Samsel originally faced three misdemeanor battery charges following his arrest in April that involved two male victims, both approximately 16 years old.

The Kansas City reported that during a short hearing conducted over Zoom, Kimball in his ruling ordered that Samsel must apologize to his teenage victims. Samsel is also prohibited from using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms for personal use. An exception is included to allow social media for political and legislative purposes.

In the classroom incident last Spring that sparked four months of court proceedings according to the Kansas City Star, high school students began recording videos of the lawmaker talking about suicide, sex, masturbation, God and the Bible.

In one video shared with The Star, Samsel tells students about “a sophomore who’s tried killing himself three times,” adding that it was because “he has two parents and they’re both females.”

“He’s a foster kid. His alternatives in life were having no parents or foster care parents who are gay,” Samsel said.

The student videos additionally showed the lawmaker verbally targeting one student and encouraging other students to bully him.

The Star also reported: At one point, Samsel tells the student, “You’re about ready to anger me and get the wrath of God. Do you believe me when I tell you that God has been speaking to me?” He then pushes him, and the student runs to the other side of the classroom.

“You should run and scream.” In another video, he tells students, “Class, you have permission to kick him in the balls.”

Parents told The Star that Samsel “put hands on the student” and allegedly kneed him in the crotch. In a video apparently taken immediately after the incident, the student is shown on the ground. Samsel is standing over him and says, “did it hurt?”

He then asks him why he is about to start crying, pats him on the shoulder and apologizes, and then says he can “go to the nurse, she can check it for you.” Samsel addresses another student and says, “do you want to check his nuts for him, please?”

In another video, Samsel is shown telling the student about “distractions from the devil,” and then grabs him from behind and lifts him off his feet. In a different clip, he tells the student to go to the office. “You were not following — not my rules — God’s rules right now,” he tells the student. “You better take a Bible.”

“Keep denying God, keep denying God, see how it’s going to turn out,” he told the student.

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U.S. Federal Courts

Federal appeals court orders Trans professor fired in 2011 reinstated

The Tenth Circuit also rejected Southeastern’s cross-appeal in its entirety, citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County

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U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Byron White Courthouse Denver Colorado (Photo Credit - Library of Congress Collections)

DENVER – The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 55-page ruling issued Monday, ordered Southeastern Oklahoma State University located in Durant, Oklahoma to reinstate a Trans professor who was fired over a decade ago.

Douglas N. McMillan, then interim vice president for academic affairs at the university reportedly said that the professor’s “lifestyle” offended his Baptist beliefs.

Dr. Rachel Tudor, a 54-year-old Native American member of the Chickasaw Nation, in a statement released after the appellate court’s ruling said that [she is] “looking forward to being the first tenured Native American professor in her department in the 100-plus year history of the Native American-serving institution that is Southeastern Oklahoma State University.”

The 10th Circuit in its ruling overturned a lower District Court in Oklahoma City that had ruled “reinstatement would not be possible due to alleged hostility between Dr. Tudor and Southeastern.”

Tudor worked as a tenure-track professor of English at Southeastern Oklahoma State University between 2004 and 2011. In 2007, she informed Southeastern that she would be transitioning and that her gender identity was female. Following this, she was denied tenure and terminated even though her own students and the English Department supported her tenure application.

In her appeal, Tudor was represented by the Washington D.C. based National Women’s Law Center and its private law firm counsel, Erica Lai, who argued for NWLC.

In a recap statement NWLC noted:

The Tenth Circuit also rejected Southeastern’s cross-appeal in its entirety, heavily citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which overruled previous 10th Circuit precedent and held that discrimination against transgender employees is sex discrimination under Title VII.  

 After fighting her case in the courts, she won her jury trial on November 20, 2017. Although the jury awarded her $1,165,000, the court both lowered this amount to $300,000 and then awarded her only front-pay wages in an amount of $60,040.77. This front-pay figure was calculated without the court undertaking any meaningful analysis as to her ability to return to a tenure job in English at Southeastern as she wanted, or what amount would make up for her lost future earnings.

[…] Also, courts have made clear that employers may not cite litigation-related hostility as a reason to refuse someone a job. Finally, as the jury found, Dr. Tudor was only denied tenure because of sex discrimination.

Tudor’s statement reflected her desire to return to the classroom and press on the Tulsa World reported:

As injurious as the sex discrimination and retaliation were to Dr. Tudor, she did not consider it merely personal. Rather, she was a symbol to those who discriminated against her. They wanted to create an environment where certain views and certain people are punished to create fear and shame instead of self-confidence and opportunity for all.

“They wanted people like Dr. Tudor to be afraid, and to go away. Instead of going away, instead of accepting a settlement — conditioned on never teaching in Oklahoma — she fought for the rights and dignity of her Native and LGBT communities.

“Dr. Tudor would like to thank her allies and colleagues for their support through 10 long years of fighting for justice. She is grateful and honored to be the recipient of their goodwill. She promises to repay their trust by being the best professor she can be.”

 

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Colorado

Anti-LGBTQ extremist Bob Enyart who spread COVID lies- dies from virus

Enyart proudly referred to himself as “America’s most popular right-wing, religious fanatic, homophobic, anti-choice talk show host”

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Bob Enyart (Screenshot via KUSA9 NBC News Denver)

DENVER – The vehemently anti-LGBTQ preacher who made national headlines over his gleefully reading out the obituaries of AIDS victims on his cable television show, while cranking out the song “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen- whose lead singer, Freddie Mercury, died from that disease, has himself died from complications after contracting COVID-19.

Bob Enyart, 62, who had proudly referred to himself as “America’s most popular self-proclaimed right-wing, religious fanatic, homophobic, anti-choice talk show host” and pastor of the Denver Bible Church, died Monday after a short battle with the coronavirus. The news was confirmed by his longtime radio and podcast show co-host Fred Williams in a Facebook post Monday.

Enyart and his second wife Cheryl, had both contracted COVID-19 after refusing to take the vaccine citing pro-life reasons; “Bob and Cheryl Enyart have sworn off taking the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson vaccines because, as those firms admit, they tested these three products on the cells of aborted babies,” according to a statement in August on Enyart’s webpage.

In addition to falsely claiming that the vaccines were developed using fetal tissue, Enyart urged his followers to boycott the vaccines to “further increase social tension and put pressure on the child killers. (Remember, many institutions and celebrities who have been “pro-choice” all along are now also calling to legalize infanticide, what they call after-birth abortion.

In October of 2020, Enyart filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver asking to overturn the Colorado State Public Health order on facial masks at religious services, as well as rules limiting gatherings to 175 people amid the pandemic.

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Domenico, who was appointed by President Trump, granted a temporary restraining order against the health order.

A long time radical anti-abortion activists and a spokesperson for the pro-life Colorado Right to Life, Enyart in 2009 along with other antiabortion protesters were jailed over protest at Focus on the Family after the group accused Focus founder James Dobson of not being antiabortion enough.

After attempting to deliver a letter to Focus president James Daly deploring Dobson’s endorsement of 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, American Right to Life Action members staged an hour long standoff with ministry security, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

In addition to his open hostility towards the LGBTQ community on air, in 2016 protesting the U.S. Supreme Court ruling the previous year that granted same-sex couples the right to marry, the Huffington Post reported that he released a bizarre video as part of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) boycott of Starbucks, after the coffee-based chain announced its support of same-sex marriage.

As first reported by Good As You blogger Jeremy Hopper, Pastor Bob Enyart of Denver Bible Church purchased a Starbucks coffee before proceeding to dump it down a sewer in protest.

“Jesus Christ said God made us male and female at the beginning of the creation,” Enyart proclaims. “Starbucks, in a move that’s not wise for eternity and not good for business here and now, has decided to promote homosexual marriage.”

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