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New focus over battles in racism, politics- Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Opposition to the legislation in Florida comes more from “people who don’t like the DeSantis agenda anyway”

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Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) being confronted by EQ Florida's Brandon J. Wolf [Left] outside PULSE, 2019 ( Photo Credit: Brandon J. Wolf )

WASHINGTON – Legislation in Florida known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, criticized as an effort to quash any discussion of LGBTQ families and identities in schools, has become a focal point of contention in the context of ongoing national battles over politics, critical race theory, restrictions on LGBTQ books and anti-transgender sports legislation in state legislatures.

The shock of the potential reach of the measure, which opponents say would make schools vulnerable to lawsuits simply over a teacher responding to a student’s question about a gay family member, followed by comments by Gov. Ron DeSantis signaling support for the bill, has opened up targets in other battles waged by the Democratic Party and progressives seeking attention for other issues and a potential upcoming challenger to President Biden in 2024.

Chief among the fiery battles for which the “Don’t Say Gay” bill has provided kindling is the upcoming presidential election. It’s no secret DeSantis is widely seen as a potential Republican challenger to Biden, who may be vulnerable amid consistently low approval ratings and criticism over his handling of inflation and coronavirus.

After DeSantis made comments last week favorable to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, saying he thinks it’s “entirely inappropriate” for teachers to be having conversations with students about gender identity, his opponents were quick to take him task and tie him to the legislation. Although the legislation had previously faced criticism from Chasten Buttigieg, who tweeted the legislation “will kill kids,” among the new voices against the legislation were no less than the White House and Biden himself.

“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” Biden wrote in a tweet last week. “I have your back, and my administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay person to obtain Senate confirmation for a Cabinet-level role, echoed his husband’s criticism of the bill during an appearance last week on CNN’s “Newsroom.” 

When host Jim Sciutto asked whether the bill would inflict any potential harm the measure on LGBTQ kids, Buttigieg replied, “absolutely.”

“And the reason is that it tells youth who are different or whose families are different that there’s something wrong with them out of the gate, and I do think that contributes to the shocking levels of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth,” Buttigieg said.

The legislation hasn’t gone far in Florida. 

As of this week, one House committee and one Senate committee have approved it and neither chamber has scheduled a floor vote. But with Republican in control of both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s mansion, the measure is well-positioned to become law.

A.G. Gancarski, a reporter with the news website FloridaPolitics.com, told the Washington Blade he could see the “Don’t Say Gay” bill coming up for a floor vote in the near future, pointing out “with these big social-message type bills, it seems like they do one a week in the House and the Senate.”

“It’s going to come up this session because it’s in posture where we’ll hit the floors probably toward the end of session — the last two weeks after committees, where things get kind of kind of crazy and things happen quickly,” Gancarski said. “We’re not there yet. We got plenty of time for this to get through the process, and there are no structural impediments to it. I can’t see what stops this is what I’m saying.”

One saving grace for opponents of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill is DeSantis has stopped short of committing himself to signing it. Gancarski drew a distinction between the support DeSantis has offered the bill compared his support for other bills, such a proposed bans on critical race theory.

“It’s something that Gov. DeSantis has not explicitly endorsed,” Gancarski said. “He hasn’t said, ‘I back these bills.’ Whenever he’s asked about these bills, he speaks conceptually supportive of them. This is true with CFO Jimmy Patronis also. So it’s something that Republicans on the executive level back, but it’s not one of those bills that DeSantis is putting the same emphasis on some other bills with his own name behind it, but he certainly backs it. He’s given every indication he would sign it.”

LGBTQ groups and commentators aligned with the conservative movement, sensing the legislation could become a political liability for DeSantis, were quick to defend the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 

Chadwick Moore, editor of Log Cabin Republicans’ media arm Outspoken, told Tucker Carlson last week on Fox News said the measure is “a perfectly reasonable, rational bill” being unfairly maligned by Democrats and “childish wacky gay activists.” Brad Polumbo, a gay conservative commentator, in a column for the Washington Examiner criticizes opposition to the legislation as “wildly overblown and not based in reality,” then undercuts his own argument by saying the “language is admittedly rather broad.”

Key portions of the legislation, numbered House Bill 1557 and Senate Bill 1834, reveal the potential penalty for the slightest hint of talk about LGBTQ kids and families in schools. The legislation is restricted to grade schools, although the bill never defines what constitutes a grade school from other places of education.

Under the legislation schools “may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity,” or generally in the education system “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” Further, the legislation empowers a parent of a student who feel the law was violated to “bring an action against a school district” in court to seek and obtain damages.

Another portion of the bill would give parents “access to information about their child’s mental and emotional well-being, as well as information about any changes to their mental or emotional health,” which critics could lead to teachers being forced to out LGBTQ kids still going through the coming out process to their families.

Equality Florida was out of the gate on Monday with a new TV ad against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which is the first of two TV against DeSantis’ policies. 

The ad features a young girl in a school classroom about to give a presentation on her heroes, which she subsequently says are her two moms. A red light and buzzer goes off in the classroom, after which a teacher informs the students she should be proud of her two parents. The ad closes within a voice from an overhead, saying “please report to the front office.”

Although the “Don’t Say Gay” bill causing a stir at the national level, Gancarski said opposition to the legislation in Florida comes more from “people who don’t like the DeSantis agenda anyway” and the national outcry may not have the desired effect.

“That’s sort of the rub,” Gancarski said. “The more the White House pushes against DeSantis, the Republicans, the more they take that as validation of their approach. So when President Biden tweeted last week, he set himself up as a foil as the thing moves forward as much as anything vis-and-vis DeSantis-supporter Republicans. And that’s the paradox.”

‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill tied to ban on critical race theory

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill, amid an intense political discussion over topics discussed in schools, is not unlike other measures enacted in Florida and elsewhere seeking to curtain ideas the conservative movement has found objectionable, such as critical race theory or gender ideology. In addition to getting behind legislation against critical race theory, which remains pending before the Florida Legislature, DeSantis signed into law a measure prohibits transgender girls from participating in school sports.

As such, progressives see the fervor over the “Don’t Say Gay” bill as a means to highlight these related initiatives, encouraging the public to view them as one issue and part of a greater effort to further oppress marginalized groups, being clear to tie them all to DeSantis ahead of his potential challenge to Biden in the 2024 election.

Nadine Smith, executive director the LGBTQ group Equality Florida, said Monday in a conference call with reporters the “Don’t Say Gay” bill is part of a “roster of bills that chip away at freedom of expression, allow for surveillance in the classrooms, video monitoring, microphones on teachers to eavesdrop on their conversations with students.”

“They hide behind the guise of parental rights, but really when you read what these laws do they allow anybody in the community, regardless of whether or not they have a child, to challenge any resource and have it removed,” Smith said.

A second ad from Equality Florida unveiled on Wednesday called “The Content of Our Curriculum” against the Stop WOKE Act in Florida, which is the vehicle DeSantis to ban the teaching of critical race theory in school. The legislation, House Bill 7 / Senate Bill 148, among other things, would prohibit teaching members of one race are “morally superior” to members of another race, individuals are inherently racist because of their race or an individual’s “moral character or status” is privileged or oppressed because of race.

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is also playing into the hands of critics who are decrying efforts to restrict pro-LGBTQ literature in schools and libraries across the country, many of them conservative states like Texas. According to a recent report in NBC News, hundreds of LGBTQ-themed titles have been pulled from libraries across the state for review, sometimes over the objections of school librarians. Many of these books are said to have sexually explicit content.

George Johnson, who says their book on the Black queer youth experience “All Boys Aren’t Blue” is banned in 15 states, was on the conference call with reporters and said efforts like bans on books are the result of demographic shifts in the United States and the “conditioning of students’ minds.”

“The ultimate goal of book banning is to not just silence us,” Johnson said. “It’s not that they’re trying to say we don’t exist, it’s that the don’t want to condition Generation Z with the proper information about our existence, as well as information about the existence and history of this country. Because then, when Gen Z becomes the next CEOs, the next mayors and the next governors, they may actually think about people who are marginalized because they read about them growing up, because they knew them growing up.”

With state legislatures across the country advancing at a rapid pace bills that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in school sports, LGBTQ rights advocates are also drawing connections between the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the anti-trans sports measures.

Mary Emily O’Hara, rapid response manager for the LGBTQ group GLAAD, said in the conference call in the national context, more than 170 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced throughout the country, many of which are focused on schools.

“There is no separating book bans from anti-trans sports bans in schools,” O’Hara said. “They both impact students. They’re both about lowering representation on the visibility and equality for LGBTQ students. There is no separating LGBTQ school policy bills from critical race theory bans.”

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Marjorie Taylor Greene tweets homophobic attack on Sen. Wiener

“Greene is a toxic person & embodies why the MAGA movement is dangerous, a threat to our democracy & to the personal safety of LGBTQ people”

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Calif state Sen. Scott Wiener, (D-San Francisco) (Photo credit: California LGBTQ Legislative Caucus)

LOS ANGELES – Far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene attacked Calif. State Sen. Scott Wiener, (D-San Francisco) on Tuesday after Wiener made a point of calling out use of the word “groomer,” as the abusive reaction and fallout from right-wing sources regarding the mass-shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, continues to ratchet up against the LGBTQ+ community.

The word “groomer” is categorically an anti-LGBTQ hate word. It’s super homophobic/transphobic. It plays into the slander that LGBTQ people are pedophiles. It’s no different than calling someone a fagg*t. If you call someone groomer, you’re inciting violence against LGBTQ people,” Wiener stated in his tweet.

Quoting Wiener’s tweet the far-right MAGA Georgia congresswoman called the Senator a “communist” questioning Wiener’s loyalty and service to both the State of California and the U.S. she then went on to accuse Wiener of being a “groomer” implying that the Senator was a predator of minors for sexual purposes:

Pass my Protect Children’s Innocence Act to stop communist groomers like this from using state government power to take children away from their parents to allow a for-profit medical industry to chop off these confused children’s genitals before they are even old enough to vote.”

In an emailed statement, Senator Wiener responded to the homophobic attack by the Georgia Republican:

“The same day Elon Musk reinstated QAnon extremist Marjorie Taylor Greene, she launched a vile homophobic attack on me because of my vocal advocacy in response to the Club Q slaughter. When Greene has attacked me in the past, threats against me have typically increased. She is a toxic person and embodies why the MAGA movement is so dangerous. Green is a threat to our democracy and to the personal safety of LGBTQ people.”

The term ‘groomer’ is considered highly offensive as it broadly brushstroke paints LGBTQ+ people as child molesters.

The definition according to the Urban online dictionary:

groomer

1 (the crime definition): An adult that builds a sense of trust with a minor to exploit and/or abuse them, typically (but not always) in a sexual manner. This is a crime, and it also causes harm to the minor.

2 (in US politics): What republican politicians and supporters refer to LGBTQIA+ people and their allies as, to manipulate their audience to pass anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation. This is targeting and harming LGBTQIA+ people and the people using the word in this manner typically are (or have connections with those who are) actual groomers.

National Public Radio, (NPR) reported this past May the Movement Advancement Project’s executive director, Ineke Mushovic, pointed out:

“What the far right often does is they engage people’s reptilian brains, the fight-or-flight instinct,” says Mushovic. “And so it behooves far-right conservatives to put people in a state of fear, because then they’re reactive. They don’t support change.”

The “grooming” narrative, Mushovic added, “taps into this primal sense of fear and this kind of parental protective instinct. But we know it’s a completely false narrative.”

The “grooming” narrative has been actively promoted by conservative activist Christopher Rufo, and Daily Wire pundit and transphobe Matt Walsh who have both attacked gender affirming care in their assaults on the LGBTQ+ community.

Green’s H.R.8731 – Protect Children’s Innocence Act, was introduced this past August 19 and has forty-nine Republican members listed as co-sponsors. The language as introduced stated targets primarily Trans youth healthcare and targets colleges and universities from “offering instruction in gender affirming care:”

This bill places restrictions on the provision of gender affirming care. Gender affirming care includes performing surgery, administering medication, or performing other procedures for the purpose of changing the body of an individual to correspond to a sex that differs from the individual’s biological sex.

Specifically, the bill makes it a felony to perform any gender affirming care on a minor and it permits a minor on whom such care is performed to bring a civil action against each individual who provided the care.

Additionally, the bill prohibits the use of federal funds for gender affirming care or for health insurance that covers such care. Such care may not be provided in a federal health care facility or by a federal employee. The bill also prohibits qualified health plans from including coverage for gender affirming care. Further, plans that include coverage for such care are not eligible for federal subsidies. […]

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Out AG candidate wins, Rollins concedes congressional race

‘Fixing our system of disagreement matters. Integrity matters. Truth matters. Democracy matters, elections matter’

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Kris Mayes & Will Rollins (Photo Credit: LGBTQ Victory Fund/Rollins Campaign)

PHOENIX – The closest statewide competition in the Grand Canyon State was the race for Arizona attorney general. On Monday Maricopa County released its final election results that had openly Out candidate Kris Mayes beating her Republican opponent Abe Hamadeh by only 510 votes.

“Kris’ victory is a win for all Arizonans. Voters chose a champion of equality who believes in democracy over a cynic who spread election disinformation for his own perceived political gain. In a state with bans on abortion and same-sex marriage still on the books, the symbolism of voters choosing an out LGBTQ Attorney General cannot be overstated,” Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. “Kris has a long track record of taking on big fights and winning on behalf of her community and will be a powerful pro-equality, pro-choice force in Arizona. Today’s results are a resounding rebuke to the hate and intolerance sweeping our country. Voters made their voices heard loud and clear: enough is enough. It’s time for change, it’s time for courage.”

There are currently just two out LGBTQ state Attorneys General in the United States, according to LGBTQ Victory Institute: Dana Nessel in Michigan and Maura Healey in Massachusetts. In case of Massachusetts, Healy is now the governor-elect of Massachusetts, having won the 2022 election.

According to Phoenix NBC News affiliate KPNX 12, the state’s unofficial final results have placed Mayes only 510 votes ahead of Hamadeh to become the state’s next attorney general. The results will likely spur an automatic recount after state election numbers are certified on Dec. 5. 

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

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – In the race to represent California’s 41st Congressional District in the House of Representatives, openly gay Democratic candidate and former federal prosecutor Will Rollins congratulated his GOP opponent Ken Calvert and conceded the race.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Rollins said: “I have called Representative Calvert to offer my congratulations. I had hoped for a different result, but I respect our democratic system and am sure that our fine election workers did their jobs honestly and responsibly, and I accept the count. Thank you to the hundreds of thousands of you who voted.” 

He added:

“So, what’s next? What’s next for our communities, and what’s next for our country? The truth is that we are in a moment of uncertainty, because America is divided. And there are a lot of people out there who benefit – financially, militarily, politically – when Americans turn against one another.

“But this campaign proves that ordinary Americans have the power to reject those who try to divide us. That is how we built this country, and that is how we built this campaign. We are a community of Democrats, Republicans, and independents who came together to restore compromise, civility, and progress in the United States.”

Rollins also noted:

“This community is growing. Ordinary Americans of good faith uniting to elect leaders who know that this country is about more than one person, more than one president, more than one party, and more than one congressman. We may not always agree on how to solve the country’s problems, but the point of this campaign has always been that the way we disagree matters. Fixing our system of disagreement matters. Integrity matters. Truth matters. Democracy matters.”

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Kelly cites white supremacy after losing House race in Tennessee

A 2022 report by The Sentencing Project shows that 21% of Black voters in Tennessee are permanently barred from voting

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Odessa Kelly lost her House race in a gerrymandered district. (Photo by Shance Ware)

NASHVILLE – Odessa Kelly was on track to become the first openly gay Black woman elected to represent Tennessee in the U.S. House. On election night, as votes were counted, Kelly watched that dream slip out of reach. 

“The loss didn’t come because I’m an openly gay Black woman in the South, the loss came because of racism,” Kelly said in an interview with the Blade.

Kelly, who ran to represent Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District against incumbent Mark Green (R), lost the election by more than 20 points. Kelly blames white supremacy, gerrymandering, and voter suppression for her loss.

“I just lost a congressional race due to White Supremacy, Gerrymandering, Racist (GOP), Undercover Racist BlueDog Dems, and Voter Suppression,” Kelly tweeted post-election.

Republican-led gerrymandering parceled predominantly Democratic Davidson County, which includes Nashville, into three separate congressional districts. This gerrymandering obliterated representation for Nashville residents at the state and federal level. 

“We have zero representation in the largest, most populated city in Tennessee,” Kelly said. 

Gerrymandering often intentionally marginalizes minority communities’ voices and votes by relocating them to conservative districts. East Nashville, the minority ruled and politically Democratic district where Kelly grew up, was moved to the conservative and predominantly white district of Cookeville. But Nashville residents aren’t the only Tennesseans affected by gerrymandering in the state. 

Statewide, Tennessean voters of color were disproportionately split up and relocated to districts where they are outnumbered and their voices are drowned out. This leaves communities of color at the mercy of Jim Crow and racist political tactics that suppress their voices and their votes because they no longer hold a majority vote in any of these new districts. 

“White supremacy showed up in our state legislature and in me losing this race,” Kelly said. 

The systemic disenfranchisement of Black voters in Tennessee also played a major role in Kelly’s loss. A 2022 report by The Sentencing Project shows that 21% of Black voters in Tennessee are permanently barred from voting, while only 8% of adult voters are barred statewide. 

And a Tennessee Advisory Committee Report shows that Tennessee is one of 11 states that permanently disenfranchises voters. With some of the toughest laws and requirements for voting, the state makes it hard for Tennesseans to earn the right to vote again. 

“I assume that the majority of those individuals who can’t vote would probably vote for me because they’re looking for relief and pathways out of poverty,” Kelly said. “And those are the things that I’m fighting for.” 

As for what’s next, Kelly says she is determined to keep fighting for a country and political system where those forgotten by the status quo are represented. .

“I will not stop. I will not give up. I will keep fighting because the issues don’t change.” 

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California Politics

Lindsey Horvath elected to LA County Board of Supervisors

Horvath extended her appreciation to outcoming Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who had endorsed and backed her in the campaign to succeed her

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Lindsey Horvath (Screenshot/YouTube CBS Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES – West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath won slightly more than a plurality of the vote gaining a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors representing District Three after State Senator Bob Hertzberg conceded Thursday afternoon.

In a statement released Hertzberg wrote; “I want to offer my sincere congratulations to Sup-Elect Horvath. The challenges LA faces are extraordinary and it’ll take someone with her work ethic to be successful. Thank you to everyone who has supported me- my family, friends, elected leaders, & residents across SD3.”

 

“I am humbled and honored that the voters have chosen me to serve as their next Supervisor. Their confidence and support fueled our people-powered campaign across the finish line, and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to represent the people of District 3,” Horvath told supporters and county residents in a statement Thursday evening.

“I want to thank Senator Bob Hertzberg for his incredibly generous and kind phone call, for his commitment to public service, and for engaging in this hard fought campaign to make Los Angeles a better place. I welcome his supporters into the work we will all need to do together. Regardless of who you voted for, I will always work my heart out to represent you and the best interests of our communities,” she said.

She also extended her appreciation to outcoming Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who had endorsed and backed her in the campaign to succeed her in the seat.

SUPERVISOR 3RD DISTRICT

Candidate(s)VotesPercent
LINDSEY HORVATH (N)227,56152.24%
BOB HERTZBERG (N)208,01947.76%
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Politics

Cicilline joins clergy rallying support of Respect for Marriage Act

The legislation presents a rare area on which the deeply divided Congress has struck an agreement to pass a significant bipartisan bill

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U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) speaks during a rally in the Lower Senate Park on Nov. 16, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Christopher Kane)

WASHINGTON – Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline, chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus and member of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees, joined multi-faith clergy for a rally on Thursday at the Lower Senate Park in support of the Respect for Marriage Act.

Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat who co-sponsored the U.S. House of Representative’s version of the legislation, which the lower chamber passed this summer, celebrated the U.S. Senate’s expected vote today to send the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk.

The congressman said that while faith has sometimes been misused as a cudgel to argue against same-sex marriage, “many people support marriage equality not despite their religious beliefs but rather because of them.”

“As a proud Jew, it’s part of my religious community and tradition,” Cicilline said. “We’re taught to heal the world and repair the broken world. I’m proud as a member of Congress and chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus to follow our Biblical command to pursue justice.”

Cicilline’s message about the personal significance of the protections offered by the Respect for Marriage Act was echoed by, among other speakers, Revs. Nicole Garcia, faith work director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, and Paul Raushenbush, president of the Interfaith Alliance.

Yesterday, a dozen Senate Republicans joined their 50 Democratic colleagues to support a procedural cloture vote, which advanced the Respect for Marriage Act to a floor vote by the full chamber.

Biden and a chorus of LGBTQ, civil rights, and legal advocacy organizations celebrated the GOP members’ support of the bill, which leadership in the House and Senate have made a major priority for Congress’s lame duck session.

The Respect for Marriage Act presents a rare area on which the deeply divided legislature has struck an agreement to pass a significant bipartisan bill.

The impetus behind the legislation was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which saw a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas in which he pledged to revisit the high court’s precedent-making rulings on other matters, including same-sex marriage.

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Pelosi announces end of her tenure as House Speaker

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also announced he will step down from leadership to pave the way for “a new generation of leaders”

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Nancy Pelosi addresses the House from the chamber floor Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022 announcing she is stepping down from leadership (Screenshot/YouTube Washington Post)

WASHINGTON – On Thursday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) announced her decision to pass the leadership torch to the younger generation of Democratic members in the lower chamber, stepping down after decades of service in that role.

“I will continue to speak from the people of San Francisco as a member of the House,” she said, but “I will not seek reelection to democratic leadership in the next caucus.”

Republicans secured a narrower-than-expected seven-seat majority in the 2022 midterm elections, with Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) poised to become the next House Speaker when the new Congress is seated in January.

Pelosi, whose decision to step down comes weeks after her husband was brutally attacked in the couple’s San Francisco home, reached an agreement with fellow Democratic members in 2018 that she would resign from her position in leadership by the end of this year.

While she did not address the question of who might succeed her as Democratic leader of the House, the website Puck reported on Thursday that Pelosi plans to throw her support behind Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Ny.).

“Never did I think I would go from homemaker to House Speaker,” Pelosi said from the floor of the House. Reflecting on her 35 years of service in the chamber, the congresswoman celebrated the work that she and the Democratic caucus have accomplished.

This included passage of transformative legislation under the administrations of three presidents, she said: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden. Pelosi, who became the first woman Speaker of the House in 2007, also held that role under former President Donald Trump’s tenure.

“When I think of Nancy Pelosi, I think of dignity,” opens a statement from President Joe Biden on the Speaker’s announcement:

“History will note she is the most consequential Speaker of the House of Representatives in our history. There are countless examples of how she embodies the obligation of elected officials to uphold their oath to God and country to ensure our democracy delivers and remains a beacon to the world. In everything she does, she reflects a dignity in her actions and a dignity she sees in the lives of the people of this nation.”

Democratic Senator Alex Padilla of California also released a statement, which read in part: “Speaker Pelosi’s perseverance and commitment to unity has served as a source of strength both at home and abroad in the face of extremist attempts to harm our democracy, our nation’s Capitol, and even her own family.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statement in which he said, in part: “Her career in Congress, and as Speaker, has been a masterclass in powerful, empathetic leadership, guided by her strong moral compass and unmatched political skill.”

The LGBTQ Victory Institute hailed the Speaker’s record on matters of consequence to the community. Pelosi, the group wrote, “is the most pro-LGBTQ Speaker in American history – constantly championing our rights and causes – and the relief and pride that came with having a fierce defender in that position cannot be understated.”

“From her first floor speech in 1987 to today’s, Speaker Pelosi has been an indefatigable champion for LGBTQ+ civil rights, reproductive freedom and the health and well-being of all Americans,” Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang said in a statement. “She is, without question, the most effective Speaker in history, and we are eternally grateful for her service.”

Also on Thursday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced in a letter to his Democratic colleagues that he would not seek another term in leadership.

Having served in leadership positions for 36 of his 42 years in the House, Hoyer wrote, “I have been honored to serve alongside Nancy Pelosi, whose tenure as Speaker was both historic and extraordinarily productive.”

Hoyer announced his endorsement of Jeffries to replace him as the House’s Democratic Leader.

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