Davante Lewis first elected out Black LGBTQ person in Louisiana
There are currently just two out LGBTQ elected officials in Louisiana, according to LGBTQ Victory Institute
BATON ROUGE – Davante Lewis won the election for Louisiana Public Service Commissioner, District 3. With this victory, he is now the first Black out LGBTQ person elected to public office in state history.
There are currently just two out LGBTQ elected officials in Louisiana, according to LGBTQ Victory Institute.
“For far too long, Black people and the LGBTQ community have lacked equitable representation in government – with the scars to show for it. Davante shattered this lavender ceiling because voters were enthusiastic about his life-long service to Louisiana, his commitment to working families and his keen ability to forge and activate diverse coalitions.,” Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in an emailed statement. “We are confident these qualities and his exceptional career as a climate champion and public policy expert will make him an effective leader for all Louisianans, especially the LGBTQ community who have faced a sharp uptick in homophobia and transphobia this year. His election is a shining example that when LGBTQ people run, we win.”
Speaking to a crowd of supporters at the Holy Ground Irish Pub, Lewis thanked them for their support, for the movement for clean, affordable, and reliable utilities they had all built together, and for delivering a victory for Louisiana’s energy future:
“Tonight, we have begun a new chapter for Louisiana. Tonight, the people of Louisiana start taking our power back. Tonight, Louisiana has a Public Service Commissioner who’s unafraid to hold Entergy accountable, because I owe this victory to the people of Louisiana and their commitment to a brighter, cleaner, and 100% renewable future.
“Thank you to all of the people who gave their time, money, and votes. It is because of you that our movement for clean, affordable, and reliable utilities won out against the political and financial interests who invested so heavily in maintaining an unaffordable, unreliable, and unbearable status quo. We rose up and said Louisiana is ready for a new energy future. One in which every Louisianian can count on clean air and water, a warm house in the winter, a cool horse in the summer and utility bills that don’t break the bank.
Realizing this vision will take hard work from our entire movement. The monopoly utility companies, oil, gas and petrochemical industries and political establishment who tried to sink our movement will not disappear because of this election. We must continue to root out corruption and unrig the system, to hold me and my fellow commissioners accountable, and to advocate for bold, new solutions. But tonight shows that together, we are up to the challenge and I look forward to spending the next six years fighting every day for you.”
Louisiana’s five Public Service Commissioners each serve six-year terms regulating the state’s utilities, pipelines, telecommunications, and more as well as helping to determine the state’s energy policies. The Commission has the power to approve or deny rate increases by utility companies and influence whether utilities are powered by gas or renewables such as solar and wind.
While past elections for the position have drawn little attention, recent tragedies caused by climate change, such as Hurricane Ida, have increased scrutiny on the Public Service Commission and Louisiana’s utility companies, particularly Entergy, and their role in contributing to climate change and leaving Louisana’s energy infrastructure vulnerable to worsening hurricanes.
Davante Lewis decided to run for Public Service Commissioner soon after Hurricane Ida when he saw the Commissioner, Lambert Boissiere, doing little to help his constituents better prepare Louisiana’s infrastructure for future storms or hold Entergy accountable. In addition to a slow recovery from Ida, Louisianans’ utility bills soared this summer while the monopoly utility companies made immense profits. According to a voting guide by the New Orleans chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, Boissiere has never voted against any of Entergy’s requests for additional fees or rate increases.
Lewis was raised by a single mother in Lake Charles, Louisiana and knew what it was like to struggle to keep the lights on. He also lived through Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as a young adult, when his opponent, Lambert Boissiere, was just starting on the Public Service Commission. Through these storms, and the many more that followed, Lewis experienced firsthand how an ill-prepared energy infrastructure can displace and devastate a family.
At 30 years old, Davante Lewis is the Director of Public Affairs with the Louisiana Budget Project. There, he gained experience crafting policy to protect Louisiana’s families and working with lawmakers to pass that policy in the legislature. Lewis used that experience to develop a policy platform that reflected the concerns of Louisiana’s next generation of leaders and focused on rebuilding Louisiana’s energy future. The platform includes passing a Ratepayers’ Bill of Rights, which would end service disconnections, provide a fixed billing system, ban excessive late fees and strengthen utility companies’ profit cap, cleaning up the grid by making Louisiana’s electricity 100% renewable by 2035, tackling corruption by banning commissioners from receiving donations from the entities they regulate, and investing in green jobs. This progressive policy platform earned him the support of environmental groups, and pitted him against utility companies.
In the final weeks of the campaign, Lewis’ opponent, three-term incumbent Lambert Boissiere, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, mostly from Entergy and other entities and individuals the Public Service Commission is supposed to regulate. Since the beginning of his campaign, Lewis has pledged not to accept donations from any entities the Public Service Commission regulates.
However, this late influx of cash and political support ultimately lost against Lewis’ coalition of grassroots supporters and community organizations dedicated to environmental and criminal justice.
These groups, including Voters Organized to Educate, Sunrise Movement New Orleans, The Sierra Club, and Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance, supported Lewis because of his promise to make Louisiana’s electricity 100% renewable by 2035 and to lower costs of phone calls to and from prisons, which the Public Service Commission has the power to determine.
Lewis spent the last few weeks of his campaign lining up endorsements from his former challengers, Reverend Gregory Manning and Willie Jones, environmental justice advocate, Sharon Lavigne, and a slate of community endorsers, and utilizing all of his campaign’s resources to contact voters and get them out to vote.
His stated policies brought together a broad coalition of supporters from New Orleans to Baton Rouge that included the Jefferson Parish Democratic Executive Committee, Voters Organized to Educate, Sunrise Movement New Orleans, Forum for Equality PAC and more.
On November 8th, Davante Lewis forced an unprecedented runoff for the Public Service Commissioner’s race. This was the first competitive election Boissiere has faced since he was first elected in 2004.
A record number of Black out LGBTQ candidates ran for public office this year. There are currently just 115 Black out LGBTQ elected officials serving in the U.S., none of whom serve in Louisiana.
SPLC condemns passage of Georgia anti-trans healthcare bill
Southern Poverty Law Center urged Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to veto S.B. 140, calling on him to not “give into pressure from his party”
ATLANTA – The Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund published a statement Tuesday condemning the Republican controlled Georgia legislature’s passage of S.B. 140, a bill that will criminalize gender-affirming health care for minors.
The statement, issued by Beth Littrell, senior supervising attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s LGBTQ and Special Litigation Practice Group, urges Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to veto S.B. 140, calling on him to not “give into pressure from his party” when “the health and wellbeing of young people are at risk” through the denial of “safe, effective medical treatment to transgender youth — based only on prejudice and political pandering.”
Kemp should “leave personal healthcare decisions in the capable hands of parents, children, and their doctors,” Littrell’s statement continues. “We hope the Governor will elevate himself and the State of Georgia above this cynical partisan attack on transgender youth, medical autonomy, and parental rights.”
S.B. 140 specifically prohibits “sex reassignment surgeries, or any other surgical procedures, that are performed for the purpose of altering primary or secondary sexual characteristics” when they are “performed on a minor for the treatment of gender dysphoria.”
“Limited exceptions” are made for the treatment of conditions other than gender dysphoria, if deemed medically necessary by the physician or healthcare practitioner, and for the treatment of patients with “a medically verifiable disorder of sex development.”
The mainstream medical societies with relevant clinical expertise have repeatedly spoken out against legislation that limits access to or criminalizes, as in the case of Georgia’s bill, guideline directed interventions for the treatment of trans and gender nonconforming youth.
On March 16, far-right GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who represents Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, called for the state legislature to make the bill more restrictive.
Specifically, in a tweet she urged the lawmakers to amended S.B. 140 such that treatment of gender dysphoria minor patients with puberty blockers would be criminalized alongside the other interventions covered in the bill and also to remove the covered exceptions.
Wiener introduces legislation to protect LGBTQ+ foster youth
SB 407 ensures LGBTQ foster youth are raised in supportive environments by creating standard documentation for their needs
SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 407, legislation to improve foster care conditions for LGBTQ youth. Nearly one third of foster youth identify as LGBTQ.
SB 407 ensures LGBTQ foster youth are raised in supportive environments by creating standard documentation for their needs, adding more follow-up from the Department of Social Services, and requiring LGBTQ youth’s needs be specifically considered in at-home assessments – including clarifying that conduct that poses risk to the health and safety of LGBTQ youth is a valid reason to deny a family the right to host a foster youth.
“Every child deserves to be one hundred percent supported at home,” said Wiener. “SB 407 ensures that foster youth receive this essential support by specifically requiring LGBTQ acceptance be considered in the resource family approval (RFA) process, creating standard documentation for the assessment of LGBTQ youth needs, and ensuring more frequent follow-up. These youth are at high risk for homelessness, criminal justice involvement, and mental health issues, and we must do everything in our power to ensure they have a safe home in the state of California.”
According to the California Child Welfare Indicators Project, there are 53,371 youth in foster care in California as of October 1, 2022. Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are overrepresented in foster care, with at least three studies estimating about 30 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ.
The degree of support for their identity an LGBTQ child receives at home is a strong predictor of their mental health outcomes. According to the Trevor Project, teens who perceived parental support regarding gender identity were 93% less likely to attempt suicide than youth who did not perceive parents as supportive.
Data collected since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic show LGBTQ youth are facing a crisis of mental health. Forty-two percent of LGBTQ+ youth—and 52 percent of trans youth—said they seriously considered suicide in 2021. This crisis may be related to the recent surge of anti-LGBTQ hatred in many states in recent years, which most LGBTQ youth are exposed to online. This year alone, more than 420 bills have been introduced in states across the country.
In 2019, California passed AB 175 (Gipson), which expanded the foster youth bill of rights to include rights to be referred to by the youth’s preferred name and pronoun and maintain privacy of the child’s sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Under existing law, foster youth also have the right to have caregivers and child welfare personnel that have received instruction on cultural competency and best practices for providing care for LGBTQ+ youth in out-of-home care.
However, while the foster youth bill of rights is strong, it has not translated into the RFA process or into considerations made when approving caregivers. LGBTQ foster youth are still being placed in homes with families that discriminate against or are hostile toward them based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
SB 407 will strengthen the resource family approval (RFA) process for LGBTQ foster youth by:
- Requiring explicit consideration of LGBTQ youth in home and environmental assessments;
- Creating standard documentation by the Department of Social Services for these assessments to include LGBTQ youth needs;
- Reviewing county-approved resource families to evaluate if they are meeting the needs of LGBTQ youth and investigating related incidents as needed;
- Ensuring that resource families have the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to support LGBTQ youth; and
- Clarifying existing law that conduct that poses risk to the health and safety of LGBTQ youth is a valid reason for denial of a resource family.
SB 407 is sponsored by Equality California and the California Alliance of Child and Family Services.
“According to the Trevor Project, teens who have parental support regarding their gender identity were 93% less likely to attempt suicide than youth who did not perceive parents as supportive. Supportive and affirming homes for LGBTQ+ foster youth saves lives. The CA Alliance is excited to partner with Senator Wiener on SB 407 to ensure that all LGBTQ+ foster youth have affirming families and feel safe, supported, and cared for.” –Christine Stoner-Mertz, CEO of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services
“LGBTQ+ foster youth experience violence and other stressors unique to the LGBTQ+ community, including homophobia or transphobia,” said Tony Hoang, Executive Director of Equality California. “SB 407 protects LGBTQ+ foster youth from being placed in non-affirming homes by creating standard guidelines and criteria that carefully screens potential families. LGBTQ+ foster youth need a healthy environment that supports and embraces them as they explore their identity.”
Chasten Buttigieg speaks out against Pence’s homophobic remarks
The Transportation Secretary, asked on Monday whether they are owed an apology from Pence, said, “I’ll let others speak to that”
NEW YORK – Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, said former Vice President Mike Pence has not apologized for homophobic and misogynistic remarks about the couple that he made at a dinner in Washington, DC last weekend.
“I spoke up because we all have an obligation to hold people accountable for when they say something wrong, especially when it’s misogynistic, especially when it’s homophobic,” Chasten Buttigieg said during an appearance Thursday on ABC’s The View.
Also on Thursday, the Associated Press reported Pence doubled down on his remarks after a Republican Party dinner in New Hampshire, telling reporters, “The only thing I can figure is Pete Buttigieg not only can’t do his job, but he can’t take a joke.”
Last Saturday, Pence had joked that following the birth of the Buttigieg twins in 2021, the Transportation Secretary took “maternity leave” and then the country suffered “postpartum depression” over issues with airlines and air travel.
The former Vice President delivered the remarks — which were first reported by the Washington Blade — during the annual Gridiron Club dinner, which he headlined along with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D).
Per tradition, speakers at the dinner are expected to poke fun at political figures, including guests in attendance, but Pence’s comments quickly drew outrage for their homophobia and misogyny.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed the matter in a comment shared with the Blade on Monday, “The former vice president’s homophobic joke about Secretary Buttigieg was offensive and inappropriate, all the more so because he treated women suffering from postpartum depression as a punchline.”
The Buttigiegs have been public about the “terrifying” ordeal they suffered following the premature births of their twins. The newborns developed serious Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections (RSV) — which required one to be hospitalized, put on a ventilator, and transferred to a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids for treatment.
“An honest question for you, @Mike_Pence, after your attempted joke this weekend,” Chasten Buttigieg tweeted on Monday, “If your grandchild was born prematurely and placed on a ventilator at two months old – their tiny fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background – where would you be?”
The Transportation Secretary, asked on Monday whether they are owed an apology from Pence, said, “I’ll let others speak to that.”
During Thursday’s interview, Chasten Buttigieg called out the hypocrisy of Pence’s putative identity as a “family values Republican,” telling the talk show’s hosts, “I don’t think he’s practicing what he preaches here.”
“But also,” he added, “it’s a bigger conversation about the work that women do in families — taking a swipe at all women and all families and expecting that women would stay home and raise children is a misogynistic view.”
Rachel Maddow: Trump inciting fears of another potential January 6
“He’s trying to make it so that there is a threat of uncontrollable political violence in this country that is triggered”
NEW YORK – Speaking by phone on Saturday morning with MSNBC’s weekend anchor and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC journalist and anchor Rachel Maddow reflected on the plea by former President Donald Trump, in a social media post, to ‘protest’ his impending arrest.
In a post on the Trump owned TRUTH social, the former president implied that his indictment and arrest on corruption charges in New York were imminent and that his followers should stage protests to “Take our nation back” employing the same rhetoric he used that eventually led to the Capitol insurrection. He had called for his followers to protest the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election by Congress meeting on January 6, 2021.
NBC News reported Friday that the New York Police Department (NYPD) and New York State Court Officers, along with Homeland Security, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service were quietly preparing for potential demonstrations from Trump’s supporters and counterprotests from those opposed to the former president opponents and the potential of the two groups violently clashing each other.
A spokesperson for Trump told CNN Saturday that the former president has not received a notification from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office regarding any potential indictment, but was “rightfully highlighting his innocence” in his post.
Trump is under criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in connection to a hush money payment his former personal attorney Michael Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election, CNBC reported noting Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, spoke on the heels of the report by NBC News that federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are preparing for the possibility that Trump will be indicted as early as next week.
Maddow told Capehart:
“[…] I don’t think we’ve had a clear view of what his legal defense is going to be, but his overall defense is going to be to try to raise the civic cost of indicting him. He is trying to bring intimidation and pressure to bear against the prosecutors who are considering right now whether to indict him. And he’s hoping to create fear that there’ll be another January 6 type event or, you know, his followers are going to show up another FBI office or, you know, something else that he could he could cause to happen by asking his followers to go into the streets in his defense.”
Capehart responded noting: “I’m glad you brought that up. And I love that phrasing, raise the the civic cost of indicting him. And I’m just wondering, the it’s hard not to recall January 6th when you read a post like the one he put out this morning. And I want you to talk further. How concerned are you and should people be concerned that that Trump supporters will see this as a call to action?”
In answer Maddow said: “Well, he’s trying to make it that.
“Getting arrested, getting indicted, even going to jail isn’t the end of the line. It isn’t the end of the world. But Trump is trying to make it that. He’s trying to make it so that there is a threat of uncontrollable political violence in this country that is triggered, that would be triggered by any, any act of the legal system against him. It’s his effort. There’s nothing intrinsic about him getting in trouble as a potentially publicly corrupt, public, corrupt figure that should cause violence. But he’s trying to make sure that it does. And the question is, whether his followers do.”
Capehart then asked: “And, you know, to that point, you anticipated the next question I was going to ask you, given this long history of public officials up and down, up and down the roster being arrested and some of them viewing viewing it as a good thing, using the number of times they’ve been indicted as a punchline in in campaign speeches. Is this good for Trump politically because he is right now a declared candidate for president?”
“Yes. I mean, I think that he’s banking on it being something that helps him. But he is playing with a fire that he doesn’t know how to contain and that nobody knows how to contain,” Maddow said adding: “Right. I mean, I think it is a little unnerving that his first political campaign appearance for his 2024 run is in Waco, Right. We’re at the 30th anniversary of the Waco standoff, Right. You’re talking about trying to trying to engender militant consciousness among Americans about the need to fight the federal government with violence. Well, Waco was a nice place to try to do that from. That’s a nice resonant place to try to do that from.
I mean, him being indicted on, you know, on a charge related to campaign finance tax and business fraud, again, doesn’t have to be the end of the world for him and could potentially be a positive for him. But if he’s asking for a militant racially, racially tinged violent response from his followers, that’s something that won’t be good for him. You know, January 6 is not good for Trump’s political legacy, for all the other things that it is, for all the other things that means for our country. It didn’t make him more electable for coming back as another term as president.
And so he’s he’s trying to start something that I don’t think he can, I don’t think he can take responsibility for how it will finish. And so I just I don’t I just don’t think it’s wise on his part. Just in political strategy, for him to be calling for what he’s calling for.”
LGBTQ groups challenge Fla. healthcare ban for trans youth
The healthcare ban is among anti-LGBTQ laws passed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his conservative allies in the state legislature
Attorneys from a coalition of three LGBTQ groups and a public interest law firm announced on Thursday their plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of Florida parents challenging the state’s ban on healthcare interventions for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors.
Plaintiffs are represented by Southern Legal Counsel, Inc., the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). A spokesperson for NCLR told the Washington Blade they plan to file the complaint “in the next week or so.”
The ban on guideline-directed, medically necessary healthcare for trans youth went into effect Thursday. The rule has been opposed by major medical associations with relevant clinical expertise including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
These organizations’ clinical practice guidelines and recommendations for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minor patients are backed by hundreds of peer-reviewed studies on the safety, efficacy, and medical necessity of these interventions.
“This policy came about through a political process with a predetermined conclusion, and it stands in direct contrast to the overwhelming weight of the evidence and science,” said Simone Chriss, Director of Transgender Rights Initiative, Southern Legal Counsel, in a press release announcing the lawsuit.
“There is an unbelievable degree of hypocrisy when a state that holds itself out as being deeply concerned with protecting ‘parents’ rights’ strips parents of their right to ensure their children receive appropriate medical care,” Chriss said.
“Our daughter is a happy, confident child but denying her access to the medical care recommended by her doctors would completely disrupt her life,” one parent-plaintiff said in the press release. “I’m devastated by what this will mean for her physical and mental health.”
The healthcare ban is among a bevy of anti-LGBTQ laws passed in recent years by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his conservative allies in the state legislature. Other examples include last year’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bars classroom discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity, and the 2021 law that prohibits transgender women and girls from participating in school sports.
The ACLU is tracking 10 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration by Florida lawmakers during this legislative session. Among these is a proposal that would allow the state to take children from their parents for facilitating access to gender affirming healthcare and require courts to “vacate, stay, or modify the child custody determination to the extent necessary to protect the child from the provision of such prescriptions or procedures.”
Republican leader Gallagher introduces ‘outing’ bill in Sacramento
“Legislation ‘outing’ transgender students against their will does not protect them it puts them in potentially life-threatening danger”
SACRAMENTO – Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City) alongside Assemblymember Bill Essayli (Riverside) introduced legislation that would require that any teacher, counselor, or employee of a school notifies the parents of any student that identifies at school as a gender that does not align with their assigned birth gender.
The text of Assembly Bill 1314 reads:
Existing law authorizes a minor who is 12 years of age or older to consent to mental health treatment or counseling services, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, if, in the opinion of the attending professional person, the minor is mature enough to participate intelligently in those services, or to outpatient mental health treatment or counseling services if the foregoing is true and the minor would present a danger of serious physical or mental harm to self or to others without the mental health treatment or counseling or residential shelter services, or is the alleged victim of incest or child abuse. Existing law requires the mental health treatment or counseling of a minor authorized by these provisions to include involvement of the minor’s parent or guardian unless, in the opinion of the professional person who is treating or counseling the minor, the involvement would be inappropriate.
This bill would, notwithstanding the consent provisions described above, provide that a parent or guardian has the right to be notified in writing within 3 days from the date any teacher, counselor, or employee of the school becomes aware that a pupil is identifying at school as a gender that does not align with the child’s sex on their birth certificate, other official records, or sex assigned at birth, using sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, or using facilities that do not align with the child’s sex on their birth certificate, other official records, or sex assigned at birth. The bill would state legislative intent related to these provisions. By imposing additional duties on public school officials, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
Echoing arguments that have risen in state houses across the United States by Republicans, especially in Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas, Gallagher in a response to State Senator Scott Wiener who tweeted his outrage over the bill tweeted: “No Senator this bill simply stops an outrageous policy of transitioning kids at school in secret without their parents knowledge or consent.”
A DeSantis-style bill was just introduced in CA to require teachers/counselors to inform parents if a kid id’s as a gender not on birth certificate.— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) March 13, 2023
Even if the kid isn’t ready to come out to their parents. Even if ratting the kid out risks violence at home.
Nope, not in CA.
In a statement issued by his office, Assemblyman Essayli said, “This legislation seeks to protect parental rights, ensuring that parents know what is going on with their child at school, instead of having the teacher replace the parent in discussing important personal matters.”
Essayli told media outlets that the legislation was specifically designed to assert the freedom of teachers to openly communicate with parents regarding their children’s gender transition decisions, and that it was based on a Jurupa Valley educator’s firing over her predisposition toward full disclosure.
In response to the introduction of the measure, the California Legislative LGBTQ+ Caucus said in a statement released Monday afternoon:
“The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus is united in ensuring that our children are protected and safe. But legislation that aims to ‘out’ transgender and non-binary students against their will does not protect them — it puts them in potentially life-threatening danger, subjecting them to trauma and violence. Additionally, the Trevor Project cites family conflict around youths’ LGBTQ identities as a driving factor contributing to LGBTQ youth homelessness.
“Teachers should not be forced into the inappropriate position of revealing a student’s personal information about their gender identity with anyone. Data indicates that 82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves and 40% have attempted suicide, with suicidality highest among transgender youth. Anyone putting forward a bill that would only increase those numbers is not seeking to protect children. Period.”
Equality California also issued a statement:
“We want LGBTQ+ students to feel safe talking to their parents about their gender and sexuality, but AB 1314 ignores the reality that not all trans youth have that option. Trans people are more likely to face family rejection and even abuse at home based on their gender identity, which leads to overrepresentation in foster care, juvenile detention and among unhoused youth. For many trans kids, school is the only place they feel safe to be their true, authentic selves. Forced ‘outing’ bills like AB 1314 seek to strip that sense of safety and dignity away.
“Conversations between children and their parents about gender identity should happen on their terms — at a time and place they feel is appropriate — not because politicians say so. We should be encouraging and supporting parents to have open and honest conversations with their children, not forcing teachers to serve as the school’s ‘gender police’, tracking down students using a different name or pronoun at school and outing them at home.”
State Senator María Elena Durazo: Expand tenant protections
“The rising homelessness crisis has become one of the most urgent and humanitarian issues facing our state and communities”
SACRAMENTO – State Senator María Elena Durazo, (D-Los Angeles) introduced a bill this past Friday to address limiting the risk of homelessness in the Golden State by expanding the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019.
Senate Bill 567 (SB 567), the Homelessness Prevention Act, is set to give Californian renters greater housing stability and reduces the number of people on the brink of homelessness. Currently the existing law provides tenant protection for renters, which includes limits on rent increases, unjust evictions and relocation fees for no-fault evictions.
Durazo’s bill will close loopholes that allow for rampant abuse of the no-fault just causes for eviction. The measure also calls for limiting allowable rent increases to a more reasonable cap while also providing mechanisms for accountability and enforcement.
“The rising homelessness crisis has become one of the most urgent and humanitarian issues facing our state and communities; that’s why I’ve introduced the Homelessness Prevention Act of 2023,” Durazo said in a tweet.
The rising homelessness crisis has become one of the most urgent and humanitarian issues facing our state and communities that’s why I’ve introduced the Homelessness Prevention Act of 2023. https://t.co/hu3X8TiCuB— María Elena Durazo (@MariaEDurazo) March 11, 2023
In a fact sheet provided by the Senator’s office citing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the state’s unhoused population has risen by 31% since 2010, which includes a 57% increase in people becoming unsheltered and living in the streets.
In a most recent count of the state’s unhoused, there are more than 170,000 unsheltered Californians, accounting for half of the U.S. unsheltered population. This does not include families living in substandard motel rooms or sleeping on floors and couches.
About 30% of the nation’s homeless population resides in California, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, an independent research group. That means about 170,000 homeless people are in the Golden State.
Los Angeles has a homeless population of 69,144, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
As the measure is introduced, the dual laws which protected renters who were financially impacted due to the pandemic from evictions, the California COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act and the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act, are set to expire at the end of this month on March 31.
In 2020, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found a $100 median rent increase led to a 9% increase in homelessness. Further, loopholes in existing law have led to widespread abuses that leave people vulnerable to displacement or eviction, even when tenants are in compliance with the terms of their lease.
These evictions and rent hikes are directly contributing to homelessness. As inflation soars and both state and local eviction protections enacted during the pandemic come to an end, gaps in standing tenant protections are impacting more renters facing significant rent increases and “no-fault” evictions.
In a press release, Durazo’s office noted that government responses have primarily focused on rehousing people, yet this has not led to a decrease in homelessness numbers due to the influx of newly homeless.
“While these efforts are needed, they should be complemented by efforts to prevent people from becoming homeless. While existing law provides for basic protections from rent-gouging and unjust evictions, loopholes in the law allow too many tenants to remain unprotected from eviction,” the statement continued.
Kal Penn & President Biden discuss same-sex marriage, trans kids
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s same-sex or a heterosexual couple, you should be able to be married.” Biden on same-sex marriage
WASHINGTON – In a segment slated to broadcast Monday on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, noted Out Indian American actor, comedian and former Obama White House adviser Kal Penn sits down with President Joe Biden at the White House discussing same-sex marriage, and how the government can protect the transgender community.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s same-sex or a heterosexual couple, you should be able to be married.” Biden tells Penn
White House condemns Pence’s homophobic comments
Associated Press Chief White House Correspondent Zeke Miller reported Pence’s “jokes” were not well received
WASHINGTON – White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement Monday condemning the homophobic and misogynistic remarks made by former Vice President Mike Pence during the Gridiron Club dinner Saturday night.
At the event, Pence said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg — the country’s first openly gay cabinet secretary — “took maternity leave” following the birth of his and husband Chasten’s twins in 2021, adding that the country subsequently suffered postpartum depression via airline and air travel issues.
“The former vice president’s homophobic joke about Secretary Buttigieg was offensive and inappropriate, all the more so because he treated women suffering from postpartum depression as a punchline,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement she shared with the Washington Blade.
“He should apologize to women and LGBTQ people, who are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect,” Jean-Pierre said.
Pence headlined the event for Republicans, while New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy represented the Democrats and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken represented the Biden administration. By tradition, each delivered prepared remarks that were meant to be humorous.
Associated Press Chief White House Correspondent Zeke Miller reported Pence’s “jokes” were not well received by the room.
Buttigieg has suffered homophobic attacks from Republicans in the past, including by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has repeatedly made similar comments about the transportation secretary’s parental leave.
On Monday afternoon, Chasten Buttigieg shared a photo on Instagram of Pete seated next to a crib equipped with monitors and medical equipment that was captioned: “An honest question for you,@mikepence, after your attempted joke this weekend. If your grandchild was born prematurely and placed on a ventilator at two months old – their tiny fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background – where would you be?”
Shortly after they were adopted in 2021, the Buttigieg twins were hospitalized with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The couple’s infant son Joseph “Gus” August had to be intubated for a ventilator and transferred to a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids for treatment.
Pence targets Buttigieg with homophobic remarks at D.C. event
During his speech at the 138th Gridiron Club dinner, Pence said Buttigieg “took maternity leave” following the birth of his children
WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Mike Pence made homophobic remarks about U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at the annual Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, D.C. Saturday night, a source familiar with the matter told The Washington Blade.
Per tradition, headliners from both parties deliver remarks meant to be humorous during the dinner. Pence represented the Republicans while New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy represented the Democrats and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken represented the Biden administration.
During his speech at the 138th annual event, Pence said Buttigieg “took maternity leave” following the birth of his and husband Chasten’s twins in 2021, adding that the country subsequently “got postpartum depression,” referencing the ongoing issues over problems with U.S. airlines and massive delays and cancellations that has plagued air travel.
According to the source, Pence also claimed his pronouns were “thou” and “thine.”
In a piece ahead of the event Politico reported: “Pence’s closest advisers hope that he will use the appearance as an opportunity to deploy a trait he has for the most part kept under wraps over the past half dozen years: his humor.”
The Associated Press Chief White House Correspondent, Zeke Miller, reported that the remarks referencing the Transportation Secretary were not well received in the room.
Many of Pence’s prepared remarks were targeting former President Donald Trump, whose “reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day” during the Jan. 6 insurrection, Pence said.
Pence is widely expected to challenge his former boss for the Republican nomination in the 2024 Presidential Election race.
A journalistic organization, the Gridiron Club inducts members by invitation only, and it has historically been restricted to only Washington newspaper bureau chiefs. By tradition, headliners from both parties deliver remarks meant to be humorous during the dinner.
Pence’s homophobic and misogynistic comments about Secretary Buttigieg mirrored those made by far-right Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has on numerous broadcasts in the past two months suggested Buttigieg took paternity leave “to figure out how to breastfeed.”
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