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Quantity, cruelty of anti-LGBTQ state bills raise alarm bells

“We really need to support local LGBTQ organizations- lift them up as much as possible,” particularly those in conservative & rural states”

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

WASHINGTON – When the Washington Blade connected with activist and legislative researcher Erin Reed on Tuesday to discuss the new anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country, it was just as the news of an especially hateful proposal came across her desk.

Senators in West Virginia had teed up an anti-trans law that would criminalize “displays” that “shall include, but not be limited to, any transvestite and/or transgender exposure, performances, or display to any minor.”

The move recalled anti-LGBTQ laws from the 1960s that criminalized the very existence of transgender and gender non-conforming persons as well as drag performers, while providing pretexts for police raids of LGBTQ establishments like the Stonewall Inn, Reed said.

For example, she said, many states once enforced dress codes that required people to wear at least three articles of clothing consistent with their sex assigned at birth.

Likewise, the West Virginia bill raises alarming questions about whether transgender parents and teachers in the state might be prosecuted, with a potential five-year prison sentence, said Reed, who is herself a transgender parent.

Additionally, the proposed legislation is “unconstitutionally vague,” written so broadly that it would presumably become illegal to screen the film “Mrs. Doubtfire” or perform certain Shakespearen plays for an audience of minors if the measure were to pass, Reed said.

Less than three weeks into 2023, state legislatures have introduced nearly as many anti-LGBTQ bills as were introduced in the entirety of last year – and qualitatively, many of these new bills are more hateful than anything we have seen in decades, Reed said.

“I see an increase in both the number and in the cruelty towards transgender people,” she said.

There are “new pieces of proposed legislation that go further than bills in 2021 and 2022,” such as by “banning gender affirming care through age 26 in Oklahoma,” and others that “target the drag community in ways that haven’t happened in 30 to 40 years.”

Fear and hate mongering over all-ages drag performances has been ratcheted up in the right-wing ecosystem, fueled by conservative media figures like Matt Walsh and Tucker Carlson, as well as social media accounts like Libs of TikTok and extremist militias, Reed said.

According to the ACLU, “As drag reality competitions and drag brunches become increasingly popular, backlash in the form of armed protests and intimidation of drag performers has followed.”

Consequently, Reed said, this year for the first time anti-LGBTQ legislation has included measures targeting drag performances – with, so far, a dozen new bills. And the concern is not just that many of these proposed laws are draconian, like Nebraska’s bill that would prohibit patrons younger than 21 from attending a drag show.

“Whenever I see those [laws] being proposed, I also see militant organizations storming in” to LGBTQ bars, schools, hospitals, and venues that host drag queen story hours, Reed said. “I see people trying to break into drag events and successfully doing so,” disrupting them with violence and intimidation, she said.

“What I read into [the impetus behind these laws] is these legislators want to change the uniform of the people doing the storming,” from militias comprised of far-right citizens to “people wearing badges.”

Making matters worse, Reed said, there are “lots of cases where drag events have asked for local protection and not received any protection whatsoever.”

Last month, organizers of a drag queen story hour-style event in Columbus, Ohio, had to cancel after they said police failed to work with them to protect participants from demonstrators affiliated with far-right groups like the violent neo-fascist Proud Boys. (Police dispute the organizers’ account of events.)

The ACLU notes that, “Amidst this wave of anti-drag legislation and violence, drag performers and host venues across the country are moving to higher security or cancel performances altogether.”

Looking at the slate of new statewide legislative proposals, many are a continuation of similar anti-trans themes that have emerged in recent years, but “we’re seeing scary attempts to escalate things,” Reed said.

For instance, bills that restrict or prohibit guideline-directed healthcare for transgender and gender non-conforming youth were introduced and passed in several states in 2021 and 2022, but new measures proposed this year would target adults as old as 26.

“It makes me wonder what their ultimate goal is,” Reed said. “To ban transitions entirely?”

Every mainstream medical organization with relevant clinical expertise recommends age-directed gender affirming care according to clinical practice guidelines that are supported by a bevy of research and updated regularly to ensure best practices.

Still, right-wing figures have demagogued the issue and characterized responsible medical care as “experimentation” and child abuse.

Reed noted there are some “new wrinkles” in anti-trans healthcare bans that have been proposed this year.

For instance, she said, Indiana proposed folding gender affirming care into practices that would be outlawed under a conversion therapy ban – thereby conflating supportive and medically necessary healthcare with an abusive, ineffective practice that has been rejected by mainstream science and medicine.

Across the board, Reed noted, there is an increasing reliance on executive authority. This was previewed toward the end of last year, she said, pointing to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s weaponization of the state medical board and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s weaponization of the Department of Family and Protective Services to, respectively, ban gender affirming care and prosecute parents for child abuse for facilitating their trans children’s access to gender affirming care.  

‘The fight is on the state level right now

Amid the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ legislation, Reed emphasized the need for coordinated action by the U.S. Congress, the Biden-Harris White House, progressive and pro-equality legal actors, and state legislatures, as well as local and national LGBTQ groups.

She noted that pro-equality interests have focused significant time, attention, and money urging Congress to pass the Equality Act, which is commendable and necessary, while the courts can provide (and, often, have provided) a path toward effectuating pro-equality policy.

At the same time, Reed said, for the foreseeable future federal legislators are unlikely to find a path forward for any major bills impacting LGBTQ people, while relying on the judiciary – particularly with the U.S. Supreme Court as it is currently construed – is far from a safe bet.

By contrast, “at the state level, we’ve seen the GOP focus time and attention and money and efforts on changing state laws,” she said, adding, “it’s important that we do the same.”

Likewise, Reed said, “I also think we really need to support our local LGBT organizations and help lift them up as much as possible,” particularly those located in more conservative and rural states, which largely do not earn commensurate resources and support.

“In places like North Dakota and Oklahoma, South Dakota, and West Virginia, we need to help the people who live there,” Reed said, but also in blue states where significant progress toward LGBTQ equality has been made but there is still room for improvement. “Don’t neglect your own backyard.”

For instance, she said, the gay and trans panic defense is still legal in some progressive states.  

“One of the biggest problems for people in some of these states criminalizing [healthcare for trans people] is they don’t have resources to travel out of state,” Reed said, noting that POLITICO has reported on the plights of people who have been forced to flee states with anti-trans laws.

And while “We have to take care of those people,” Reed said, people should not be in a position where they must flee their home states. “We need federal action and federal protections,” she said.

Thankfully, there is some movement on pro-LGBTQ state bills. Reed said she has seen more this year compared to last year, which is “a bit promising.” She highlighted bills such as the proposal to protect gender affirming care in Maryland, access to bathrooms for trans youth in Minnesota, the ability to change information on birth certificates in West Virginia, and adoption by trans parents in Montana.

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Political commentary & analysis

Jimmy Kimmel Live’s hilarious faux ‘Out for Biden’ campaign ad

“It’s called ‘Out for Biden-Harris,’ which is a clunky title, but was definitely better than the original slogan: ‘I’m a Joemosexual”

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Late night host Jimmy Kimmel debuts a faux Biden-Harris reelection campaign advert poking fun at his allyship of the LGBTQ+ community. (Screenshot/YouTube Jimmy Kimmel Live ABC TV)

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – During his opening monologue Thursday, ABC Television late night host Jimmy Kimmel took playful aim at a new push by the Biden-Harris reelection campaign’s effort to get more LGBTQ+ voters to the polls in November.

The Biden-Harris campaign on Wednesday debuted “Out for Biden-Harris,” a “national organizing and engagement program to mobilize LGBTQ+ voters, communities, and leaders across the country.”

In a press release announcement, the campaign stated: “From drag queens to elected leaders to LGBTQ+ faith leaders, Team Biden-Harris will use a wide range of validators to communicate what’s at stake for the LGBTQ+ community in this election and why it’s critical that we vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

In his satirical take on the announcement Kimmel noted:

“Yesterday they launched a new program to engage voters in the LGBTQ+ community,” Kimmel said, having a slight issue articulation the acronym for the community. “It’s called ‘Out for Biden-Harris,’ which is a clunky title, but was definitely better than the original slogan: ‘I’m a Joemosexual.”

The parody campaign advertisement voiced by a Biden impersonator said:

“What’s up bitches? It’s me, Joe Biden, and I’m excited to announce the launch of Out for Biden-Harris: a new campaign all about you LGBT-cuties out there,” he said. “Listen, I may be straighter than a bamboo fishing rod, but I’m the most gay-friendly president in history. Like your mother used to always say, ‘You can’t spell Biden without Bi.’ And that’s the tea.”

The campaign noted that LGBTQ voters will be “a key part” of its coalition, while 39 percent of voters consider LGBTQ equality a “make-or-break issue.”

“In 2020, nearly 11,000 LGBTQ+ volunteers mobilized to help elect President Biden and Vice President Harris,” the campaign wrote. “This year, Out for Biden-Harris will re-engage these supporters and build on their work. The program is designed around the idea that there is no better messenger to mobilize LGBTQ+ voters than their friends and neighbors to bring new supporters into our campaign.”

Related

The Biden-Harris administration is the most pro-LGBTQ in history, and LGBTQ groups with a combined 3.8 million members have endorsed President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign the Biden-Harris campaign manager Julie Chavez-Rodriguez pointed out.

“LGBTQ+ voters are a force to be reckoned with. They were critical to our victory in 2020, and they will be critical to winning again this November,” said Chavez-Rodriguez. “That’s why we’re thrilled to launch Out for Biden-Harris, which will harness the LGBTQ+ community’s organizing prowess to reelect President Biden and Vice President Harris this November.”

Watch

The Biden-Harris segment begins at the 7:22 minute mark:

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Politics

First Lady warns Trump is ‘dangerous to the LGBTQ community’

Delivering a keynote address at the HRC’s ‘Equality in Action’ event, she warned Trump is “a bully” who’s “dangerous to the LGBTQ community”

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Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson introduces the First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at the Human Rights Campaign's Equality in Action event on Friday, April 12, 2024 in Arlington, Va. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign)

ARLINGTON, Va. — Delivering a keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign’s ‘Equality in Action’ event Friday, First Lady Jill Biden warned former President Donald Trump is “a bully” who is “dangerous to the LGBTQ community.”

Her appearance at the three-day volunteer and board gathering at the Sheraton Pentagon City in Arlington, Virginia comes as part of the Biden-Harris reelection campaign’s “Out for Biden” program, which aims to “mobilize LGBTQ+ voters, communities, and leaders across the country.”

“Today, this community is under attack,” Mrs. Biden said. “Rights are being stripped away. freedoms are eroding. More and more state laws are being passed targeting this community. Just last month, we had to fend off more than 50 anti gay amendments that Republicans tried to force into the government funding bill.”

“These were extreme measures aimed directly at this community — measures that would have limited health care and weakened protections for same sex couples,” she said. “And they served only one purpose to spread hate and fear.”

In a nod to her long career as an educator, Mrs. Biden said, “History teaches us that our rights and freedoms don’t disappear overnight. They disappear slowly. Subtly. Silently.”

She continued, “A book ban. A court decision. A ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. One group of people loses their rights and then another. And another. Until one day you wake up and no longer live in a democracy…This is our chapter of history and it’s up to us how it ends.”

Mrs. Biden then highlighted some of the advancements for LGBTQ rights secured under the Biden-Harris administration.

“Thanks to President Biden, marriage equality is now the law of the land,” she said. “He ended the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. He’s made it possible for trans Americans to serve openly and honorably in our military. And he’s standing firmly against conversion therapy.”

“Yes, there are forces outside these walls that are trying to erase these hard fought gains, trying to unwind all the progress that we’ve made,” Mrs. Biden said. “They want to take our victories away. But we won’t let them. Your President will not let them — I will not let them.”

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Political commentary & analysis

Transphobic report by UK pediatrician Hilary Cass released

The report calls for restrictions on trans care, social transition including trans adults up to 25 from adult trans healthcare in Britain

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UK Pediatrician Dr. Hilary Cass. (Screenshot/YouTube The Times and The Sunday Times)

By Erin Reed | LONDON, UK – On Tuesday evening, Dr. Hilary Cass released a final report commissioned by the British/UK National Health Service (NHS), widely expected to target gender-affirming care. The report met these expectations, calling for restrictions on gender-affirming care and social transition, and even advocated for blocking transgender adults under the age of 25 from entering adult care.

To justify these recommendations, the review dismissed over 100 studies on the efficacy of transgender care as not suitably high quality, applying standards that are unattainable and not required of most other pediatric medicine.

Conducted in a manner similar to the anti-trans review by the DeSantis-handpicked Board of Medicine in Florida, which Cass reportedly collaborated on, the report and its reviews are likely to underpin further crackdowns on trans care globally.

The 388-page report featured 32 recommendations on how transgender care should be conducted within NHS England. It incorrectly claims that there is “no good evidence” supporting transgender care and calls for restrictions on trans care for individuals under the age of 18, although it does not advocate for an outright ban.

The report endorses the idea that being transgender may be caused by anxiety, depression, and OCD issues, despite the American Psychological Association, the largest psychological association in the world, rebutting this as lacking evidence.

It also claims that transgender individuals can be “influenced” into being trans, a nod to the discredited theory of social contagion and rapid onset gender dysphoria, rejected by over 60 mental health organizations.

Lastly, it seemingly endorses restrictions on transgender people under the age of 25, stating that they should not be allowed to progress into adult care clinics.

To support these recommendations, the report was released alongside “reviews” of the evidence surrounding transgender care, using these reviews to assert that there is “no good evidence” for gender-affirming care.

A closer inspection of the reviews released alongside the Cass report reveals that 101 out of 103 studies on gender-affirming care were dismissed for not being of “sufficiently high quality,” based on the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale—a subjective scale criticized for its flaws and potential unreliability due to a high risk of bias.

This critique is particularly significant given the contentious political nature of the subject and connections between reviewers, Cass, and anti-trans organizations.

The Cass Review seems to have emulated the Florida Review, which employed a similar method to justify bans on trans care in the state—a process criticized as politically motivated by the Human Rights Campaign.

Notably, Hilary Cass met with Patrick Hunter, a member of the anti-trans Catholic Medical Association who played a significant role in the development of the Florida Review and Standards of Care under Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.

Patrick Hunter was chosen specifically by the governor, who has exhibited fierce opposition towards LGBTQ+ and especially transgender people, and then immediately got to work on targeting transgender care. The Florida review was purportedly designed and manipulated with the intention of having “care effectively banned” from the outset, as revealed by court documents.

The Florida Review was slammed by Yale Researchers as “not a serious scientific analysis, but rather, a document crafted to serve a political agenda,” and much of their full critique is applicable to the Cass Review as well.

In those meetings, Cass apparently took interest in Florida’s anti-trans expert report, according to emails from trial exhibits uncovered by transgender researcher Zinnia Jones, such as this email confirming that a meeting took place:

Paul,

See attached information sent to me from the Cass Review. I forgot to mention that they were very interested in the Florida evidence review, especially the report from McMaster University. She recognized the work done at that institution under the leadership of Gordon Guyatt. At Dr. Cass’s request, I sent them a copy of the Florida evidence review.

Notably, Patrick Hunter has been identified as part of a network of anti-trans experts who seek to roll back gains for queer and trans rights by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and both the Florida Review and the Cass Review serve those functions.

One of the most controversial sections of the Cass Review addresses social transition, with the review recommending that individuals considering social transition “be seen as early as possible” by clinical professionals. It claims that social transition could “change the outcome of gender identity development,” a statement that notably lacks the validation or evidence level that the review demands of transgender care.

Significantly, there has been discussion about prohibiting social transition in schools, even with parental consent. A recent bill proposed by former Prime Minister Liz Truss would have prevented public officials from using language or treating a child “in a manner inconsistent with their sex,” leaving unclear how individuals should be treated differently based on their sex.

The Cass Review also touches on gendered toys, suggesting that preferences like trucks for boys and dolls for girls might have a biological basis, despite significant controversy over such claims, with a recent study casting doubt on earlier monkey studies used to justify biological differences in toy preferences.

“A common assumption is that toy choice and other gender role behaviours are solely a result of social influences; for example, that boys will only be given trucks and girls will only be given dolls to play with. Although this is partially true, there is evidence for prenatal and postnatal hormonal influence on these behaviours,” writes Cass in the report.

To support arguments around potentially high detransition/desistance rates, Cass repeatedly cites Ken Zucker, including the often-challenged “85%” rate from his research. Notably, Zucker has recommended that parents withhold “wrongly-gendered” toys from their children as a strategy to change their gender identity.

Of special note is the focus on those from ages 17-25. The Cass review states that transgender people should not be transferred into adult care until age 25. Among its rationale for doing so is that those who have been waiting for youth care, with waitlists often being over 5 years long, have that waiting time counted towards the wait for adult services.

Instead, the review proposes a “follow through” service, declaring transgender 17-25 year old’s as “vulnerable.” It is uncertain what level of restrictions this follow through service would have.

Within a day of the publication of the Cass Review, it appears that those concerns were well warranted. NHS England announced that it would be launching a review into “the operation and delivery of adult GDCs” in a report released by The Guardian.

The decision to launch a review into adult care was justified by “concerns put to the [Cass] review team by current and former staff working in the adult gender clinics about clinical practice, particularly in regard to individuals with complex co-presentations and undiagnosed conditions.”

Immediately after the release of the Cass Review, experts in transgender healthcare from around the world voiced their opposition to its findings. Dr. Portia Predny, Vice President of the Australian Professional Association for Trans Health, criticized the findings and recommendations as “at odds with the current evidence base, expert consensus, and the majority of clinical guidelines worldwide.”

Similarly, a statement from the Professional Association for Transgender Health Aotearoa condemned the review, noting, “The Review commissioned several systematic reviews into gender-affirming care by the University of York, but appears to have ignored a significant number of studies demonstrating the benefits of gender-affirming care. In one review, 101 out of 103 studies were dismissed.”

It is important to note that gender affirming care saves lives, and there is plenty of evidence to show for it. Numerous studies have demonstrated that gender-affirming care significantly reduces suicidality, with some showing a decrease in suicidality by up to 73%.

A review compiled by Cornell University, which compiled over 50 journal articles on the topic, shows the efficacy of transgender care. These findings were echoed recently in an article published by the Journal of Adolescent Health, which found that puberty blockers dramatically lowered depression and anxiety.

All of these studies and more have led to The Lancet, a medical journal with international acclaim, to publish a letter stating that gender affirming care is lifesaving preventative care. The largest and most influential medical organizations support trans care.

A recent and historic policy resolution passed overwhelmingly by the American Psychological Association, the largest psychological organization in the world, states that gender affirming care is a medical necessity and that being trans is not “caused” by things like autism and PTSD.

While the full impact of the Cass Review will not be known for some time, it is likely to significantly affect England, where transgender care is already heavily gatekept with extremely long waitlists.

Additionally, it is probable that anti-trans organizations in the United States will cite the review to justify further bans on care. However, similar to other “reviews” conducted in countries or states like Florida, where transgender medical rights are under attack, the review is unlikely to be given much credence by many United States judges, legislators in states without significant political opposition to care, and medical organizations that have remained steadfast in combating anti-trans disinformation.

Nevertheless, worldwide, the Cass Review carries forward the same types of attacks advanced in Florida, and could have significant negative impacts on transgender people globally should their recommendations be put into effect.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Politics

‘Out for Biden-Harris’ LGBTQ-targeted campaign is launched

“In 2020, nearly 11,000 LGBTQ+ volunteers mobilized to help elect President Biden and Vice President Harris”

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a Pride celebration, June 10, 2023, at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

WILMINGTON, Del. — The Biden-Harris campaign on Wednesday debuted “Out for Biden-Harris,” which is a “national organizing and engagement program to mobilize LGBTQ+ voters, communities, and leaders across the country.”

Out for Biden-Harris “will train supporters to organize within their own networks and leverage messengers from the community to ensure we are meeting LGBTQ+ voters where they are,” the campaign wrote in a press release announcement.

“From drag queens to elected leaders to LGBTQ+ faith leaders, Team Biden-Harris will use a wide range of validators to communicate what’s at stake for the LGBTQ+ community in this election and why it’s critical that we vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

The campaign also previewed some of the events and initiatives in coming weeks, which will include:

  • A virtual organizing call featuring actor Wilson Cruz, Congressman Robert Garcia, HRC President Kelley Robinson, to mobilize LGBTQ+ supporters;
  • A series of virtual relational organizing trainings focused on activating and reaching new volunteers targeting battleground voters. The campaign will be engaging trusted messengers, including high-profile and trusted messengers in the LGBTQ+ community, like Brita Filter, Danica Roem, Gina Ortiz Jones, and Rev.
  • Hosting a series of Out For Biden-Harris house parties and community events including events in Phoenix, Arizona, Ferndale, Michigan, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Las Vegas, Nevada to mobilize supporters.
  • First Lady Jill Biden will be a featured speaker at the Human Rights Campaign Equality In Action Conference bringing together a network of 400 organizers and activists in Arlington, VA.

The campaign noted that LGBTQ voters will be “a key part” of its coalition, while 39 percent of voters consider LGBTQ equality a “make-or-break issue.”

“In 2020, nearly 11,000 LGBTQ+ volunteers mobilized to help elect President Biden and Vice President Harris,” the campaign wrote. “This year, Out for Biden-Harris will re-engage these supporters and build on their work. The program is designed around the idea that there is no better messenger to mobilize LGBTQ+ voters than their friends and neighbors to bring new supporters into our campaign.”

The Biden-Harris administration is the most pro-LGBTQ in history, and LGBTQ groups with a combined 3.8 million members have endorsed President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

However, “the fight for equality for all Americans is at stake this November as Trump and his allies plan to roll back the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ Americans,” the Biden campaign wrote. “Trump and his MAGA allies are running on an extreme, anti-LGBTQ+ agenda which would push to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community, even going after the right to marry who you love.”

“LGBTQ+ voters are a force to be reckoned with. They were critical to our victory in 2020, and they will be critical to winning again this November,” said Biden-Harris 2024 Campaign Manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez. “That’s why we’re thrilled to launch Out for Biden-Harris, which will harness the LGBTQ+ community’s organizing prowess to reelect President Biden and Vice President Harris this November.”

Chavez Rodriguez continued, “LGBTQ+ Americans couldn’t have more at stake this election: Donald Trump and his extremist allies are running to gut LGBTQ+ rights and erase history as their top priorities. LGBTQ+ Americans deserve leaders who will fight for every American’s freedom and dignity. That’s what President Biden and Vice President Harris have done throughout their time in office, and what they will do if reelected, including pressing Congress to pass the Equality Act.”

“There has never been a more critical time to protect the rights of all Americans, no matter who you love or how you identify, and Out for Biden-Harris will be critical to not just safeguarding, but strengthening the rights and voice of every single American,” she said.

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California Politics

WeHo Mayor John M. Erickson discusses re-election campaign

Erickson officially announced his re-election campaign for West Hollywood City Council this week & sits down with WeHo Times

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West Hollywood Mayor John M Erickson - (Photo by Paulo Murillo/WEHO TIMES)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – West Hollywood Mayor John M. Erickson, Ph.D. officially announced his re-election campaign for West Hollywood City Council this week.

WeHo Times caught up with the incumbent following his big announcement to discuss his campaign, some of his accomplishments from his first term and the challenges he faces ahead.

===

So it’s official today. You announced your run for reelection.

Yes. I announced this morning I’m running for re-election to the West Hollywood City Council.

What is running for re-election looking like for you?

It looks like what I’ve been doing for the last four years, delivering for our residents and our businesses. When I look at the city and where I started four years ago, back then, we weren’t allowed to go outside. We were in masks, and now we are out in a vibrant, although a little gray and overcast today, sky. We have new businesses opening every day. We have residents that are further protected, thanks to some of the tenant harassment ordinances that we’ve passed. And we’re working on bringing the city into the future with new infrastructure and great new projects like the coast Playhouse and the purchasing of the Log Cabin on Robertson Boulevard. These things that are priorities to me and always have been, so the work that we’re doing continues on. My re-election ensures that the residents and businesses remain at the forefront of my mind, and I am committed to running strongly to ensure that we prioritize their needs.

Pandemic lockdown aside, how else is this campaign different from the last one?

I mean, the last time I ran, I ran a people forward campaign. It was a people centric campaign that really focused on bringing a new voice to the City of West Hollywood. And this time, it’s about holding true to those values that I ran on. I think the stuff that I’ve done over the last four years and also just the sheer logistics this time, we can go door-to-door, we can go out and see each other, and be within six feet, so making sure that the community feel we are back and are part of the campaign. That’s something I love so much.

What kind of feedback are you getting after people learned you were running for re-election?

I’ve announced it early. I’m really proud to say I am endorsed by over, I believe, 70 board members and commissioners. I’m endorsed by almost every elected official that represents West Hollywood and some are Congress member Adam Schiff, supervisor Lindsey Horvath, Senator Ben Allen, Assemblymember Rick Chavez, and my colleagues Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers and Councilmember Sepi Shine. When you look at the list, it’s a broad coalition of supporters and organizations already. I’m endorsed by Equality California, Victory Fund, The Los Angeles Building Trades Council, the Sierra Club, and the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters. A lot of people jumped in early because they see the progress that we’ve made, and I’m really excited to see the momentum going forward.

What kind of challenges does your campaign anticipate?

I think the main topic of conversation will be what the future of the City of West Hollywood looks like, and I really welcome those conversations. I’m going to be running a positive campaign like I always did. I’m not going to be getting into the mud because I believe that residents want a positive mayor and a positive candidate out there putting forth a vision of the city that not only shows our progressive values, and our history, but also leans us towards the future in the way that we’ve been going. Is everything sunshine and rainbows? No candidate should ever say that. But we have work to do, and I’m really looking forward to that work and in those robust conversations.

What are some of the issues that are coming up for you, in this this election versus your first run?

This time it’s about building more affordable housing and housing, as a whole. We have a lot of housing to build and transportation infrastructure. We’re trying to bring the city into the 21st century when it comes to our roads and sidewalks and making sure that they’re accessible to everyone, and getting people out of cars and maybe onto bikes are another mode of transit. Walking is another great example. I think the last and most important thing that I said when I first ran was climate change. I’ve really made that a staple of my campaign, sustainability practices and climate resilience and I have that record to back it up. That’s why I’ve already received endorsements from the two leading organizations in that field. And we have a lot of work to continue to make sure West Hollywood leads on those issues. Then I think when we always invest in community safety and our businesses, you can’t go wrong there.

How is your campaign addressing public safety?

As many know, I led the charge to bring back two deputies after hearing the response from the community and making sure that our people felt safe. The first call we always get is always going to be about community safety. We need to make sure we’re responsible to that and so we’re building and pushing forward a robust public safety plan. I’m already endorsed by the firefighters and that’s really important to me, because they are our first responders. We’re building a new state-of-the-art Fire and Sheriff Station in partnership with LA County so that first responders have 21st-century tools to ensure that our diverse community is safe at home and in our neighborhoods.

So what do you tell the voter who isn’t sure about you?

I would ask them to look at my work ethic, and look at the work that I have done, and look at my response to the community. When you email City Hall, do you not get an email back? Do you not get a phone call back? What I say to the voter that’s unsure is that I’ve led the City with distinction and I’ve led the city with, I believe, the honor that I’ve always been taught by my former mentors. I’m looking forward to continuing that and making sure that the people of the City of West Hollywood know that they’re my first priority.

How will your campaign address your detractors?

There’s always going to be detractors. I would say that even my detractors would say that I answer the phone when they call. I don’t think anyone can ever say that I don’t welcome a robust conversation. I have very strong values and morals. I’m really proud of that. My grandmother taught me those things when as a young queer kid in Ripon, Wisconsin. I think the most important thing that I can say to my detractors is, you may not like what I’ve done, or you may not like what we’re trying to do as a city, but I want you to come and talk to me and give it a chance. If after that, you still don’t want to be involved in the conversation, you can always call me if something’s happening because I’m there for you just as I’m there for everyone else.

What do you love most about being Mayor and council member of the City of West Hollywood?

The best part about being the mayor and the council member in the City of West Hollywood is you get to see and interact with people on a person-to-person basis in a way that we all work together for a better future for our city. When the principal of West Hollywood Elementary School can call the mayor directly and not have to go through staff, when a resident can call, or a parent at a school can call the Mayor of West Hollywood and say they’re having this issue, or need more green space, or they want to have pickleball courts in the city… my answer is going to be yes, because that’s the role of our local government. Local is where community happens. And I’m so proud of that. This is why I post my Plummer Park event for the last 34 months now without missing a single one. The community needs to know that we’re out at a school, or we’re out in the streets, or their businesses. The mayor is listening and I think that’s the best part of being here, we get to hear right from the community.

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For a full list of endorsements, biography, issues, and more visit www.erickson4weho.org and follow John on social media @JohnEricksonWH.

To read about John’s accomplishments in his first term, go to: https://erickson4weho.com/about-john

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

Raul Ureña battles recall election in Calexico over his trans identity

For Ureña, the recall is more than a political hurdle; it is a litmus test for the values of the community he serves

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Raul Ureña (center) with supporters last month in Calexico, Calif. (Photo Credit: Raul Ureña/Facebook)

CALEXICO, Calif. – A battle is underway that encapsulates the broader national struggle over LGBTQ+ rights, environmental policy, and the future direction of local governance. At the center of this storm is Raul Ureña, 26, one of the youngest and first openly transgender city council members in Calexico’s history.

Ureña faces a recall election orchestrated by a faction of past politicians and fueled by a campaign marred with alleged misinformation and accusations rooted in prejudice.

Ureña, alongside fellow young councilmember Gilberto Manzanarez, has been instrumental in ushering in a new era of progressive policy-making in Calexico, aimed at rectifying a decade of economic downturn, political strife, and social neglect. Their tenure has been marked by significant investments in the community’s infrastructure, environmental initiatives, public safety, and efforts to boost the financial health of the city, in stark contrast to the practices of previous administrations.

The Recall Effort: A Closer Look

The recall, set against the backdrop of Calexico’s 116th anniversary, emerges as a politically motivated attempt to derail the momentum gained by Ureña and his colleagues. Ureña provided insights into the recall’s dynamics: “Right now it is April 5, we are 11 days from the recall election that was petitioned by a group of very hateful citizens,” Ureña told The Bolade. “They have raised north of $30,000, which is a substantial amount for our small city, mainly to circulate petitions for the recall.” 

Despite the financial and political onslaught, Ureña remains undeterred, highlighting the backing from organizations like the United Auto Workers, a testament to his environmental advocacy and progressive policies, including the introduction of the county’s fastest and only electric vehicle chargers.

The Impact of Ureña’s Policies

Under Ureña’s stewardship, Calexico has witnessed tangible progress across several domains:

  • Financial Health: Addressing the city’s financial mismanagement has been a priority, with corrective measures now steering Calexico away from a state-designated “High Risk” status due to previous overspending and budgetary inaccuracies.
  • Transportation and Infrastructure: Ureña’s role as the city’s commissioner at the Imperial County Transportation Commission has been pivotal in securing funding and advancing projects like the $13.4 million Intermodal Transportation Center, set to enhance regional mobility and address border traffic issues.
  • Environmental Advocacy: A staunch environmentalist, Ureña has championed the New River Improvement Project, aiming to remediate one of the nation’s most polluted rivers, alongside initiating the city’s first micro-transit system, which has become the county’s most successful transit service.
  • Community and Public Safety: Investments in emergency services, the rehabilitation of essential facilities like Fire Station #2, and improvements in parks and recreation underscore the commitment to public welfare and community engagement.
  • ProWorker Policies: Ureña and Manzanarez have implemented pro-worker policies as part of their economic development strategy in Calexico, focusing on the well-being of the working population. They spearheaded an equitable spending plan for the American Relief Plan Act (ARPA), allocating 1 million dollars in “hero pay” to essential workers who served during the COVID-19 pandemic, recognizing their contributions as equally valuable to those of other city employees who received similar compensations in the past.

Facing Down Hate and Misinformation

Addressing the recall campaign’s undertones, Ureña stated, “The claims against me for the recall are just dog whistles for transphobia.” 

He remains committed to his agenda, asserting that he takes the right’s labeling his party as “radicals” as a complimentary testament to their dedication. “We have our goals and strong ideas. we  said we were going to clean up the new river and that project is under construction. The electric vehicle chargers are under construction. We are building the largest transportation center in the imperial county. We are building affordable housing. We are radical, because when we say we are going to do something, we go ahead, and we do it. No excuses.”

Equality California (EQCA) has thrown its support behind Ureña.

“Ureña is one of only a handful of out transgender elected officials in California and, at a time when trans Californians are facing unprecedented political attacks, trans representation in elected office is more important than ever,” said EQCA Executive Director, Tony Hoang. 

The Future of Calexico

As the recall election looms, the stakes for Calexico and for Ureña could not be higher. A city at a crossroads, Calexico’s voters face a choice between continuing on a path of progressive reform and environmental stewardship or reverting to the governance that precipitated years of decline.

For Ureña, the recall is more than a political hurdle; it is a litmus test for the values of the community he serves, the efficacy of his policies, and the resilience of progress against the tide of misinformation and intolerance.

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Politics

Melania Trump to host Log Cabin Republicans event

Funds will be used to support the group’s “Road to Victory” program, which will target voters in swing state

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Former First Lady Melania Trump (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Former first lady Melania Trump is back on the campaign trail with plans to host a fundraising event for the conservative LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans on April 20 at Mar-a-Lago, Politico reported on Thursday.

Funds will be used to support the group’s “Road to Victory” program, which will target voters in swing states. LCR has had a close relationship with Mrs. Trump, who was a special guest for its Spirit of Lincoln Gala in 2021, where she received the Spirit of Lincoln Award.

Politico reports that the host committee for this month’s event will include GOP donors Saul Fox, Amanda Schumacher, Bill White, Bryan Eure and Richard Grenell, who is gay and served as ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence during the Trump administration.

“Melania Trump’s work as first lady, from helping children reach their full potential to championing a more inclusive Republican Party, has been historic,” LCR President Charles Moran said in a 2021 press release concerning the Spirit of Lincoln event.

“Her vocal support of Log Cabin Republicans has been a signal to Republicans everywhere that it is possible to simultaneously be conservative and support equality under the law for all Americans,” he said.

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Political commentary & analysis

No, A New Study Does Not Show “Being Trans Is Just A Phase”

The study was not about trans individuals, but rather on people who sometimes express dissatisfaction with their sex unrelated to being trans

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EIM/Los Angeles Blade graphic

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the Daily Mail reported that a new “landmark study” from the Netherlands concluded that being transgender was “just a phase” and that most children “grow out of it.”

News of the study was widely reported on Twitter by conservative accounts, with tweets about the Daily Mail’s reporting of the study garnering tens of millions of views. Unfortunately, the headline fails a fact check: the study was not about transgender individuals, but rather on people who sometimes express dissatisfaction with their sex for a variety of reasons entirely unrelated to being transgender.

The Claims:

The study to which the Daily Mail refers was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. This journal, under the leadership of Kenneth Zucker, a noted anti-trans figure known for his involvement in reparative/conversion therapy, has become a parking journal for anti-transgender research. The study aims to examine a single question from 15 years of surveys administered to 2,772 children in the Netherlands who transitioned into adulthood: “I wish I were the opposite sex.” Respondents were asked to indicate their feelings by circling 0 for “never,” 1 for “sometimes,” and 2 for “often.” A copy of the question can be viewed here:

The study ultimately reveals that approximately 12% of 11-year-old children, with some variance between those assigned male at birth and those assigned female at birth, indicate a desire to be the opposite sex either “sometimes” or “often,” with the vast majority selecting “sometimes.” By adulthood, this percentage decreases to 2-3%. In addition, 19% of the sample circle sometimes or often at some point in their lives. From these findings, the Daily Mail infers that “The majority of gender-confused children grow out of that feeling by the time they are fully grown adults,” although the term “gender confused” is not used in the original study. The headline, which claims “Critics Say It Shows Being Trans Is Just a Phase,” suggests that the study supports this notion.

The Daily Mail also provides charts that claim to illustrate this finding, though these charts contain egregious inaccuracies. For example, the Daily Mail’s chart mistakenly swaps the labels for “M” and “F” compared to the original study. More significantly, the Daily Mail’s chart reverses the categories for “sometimes” and “often,” creating the impression that the majority of youth who respond positively to the question do so “often,” when, in fact, the original study’s chart indicates that most children who answer affirmatively only “sometimes” wish they were the opposite sex. It’s also important to note that “sometimes” encompasses even those who “rarely” experience this wish.

See the Daily Mail’s chart vs the actual study’s chart:

Comparison between study chart and Daily Mail chart

The Problems:

There are immediate issues with both the study and the Daily Mail’s interpretation of it. The most evident issue with the study is that it is not a study of transgender individuals; this should be apparent considering that a full 19% of participants indicated “sometimes” or “often” in response to wanting to be the opposite sex at some point in their lives, with the majority selecting “sometimes.” Even the most generous estimates suggest that approximately 0.5% of Americans identify as transgender. It is clear that the authors are measuring an entirely different population by analyzing responses to this single question.

It is easy to see how various individuals might respond “sometimes” (which includes rarely) or “often” to this question. Tomboys, feminine gay teen boys, gender nonconforming individuals, people who experience sexism, and even those with curious minds might answer affirmatively without ever identifying as transgender. If someone has ever momentarily wished to be the opposite sex, for any reason, even in passing, they would be categorized as “gender noncontent.” Should that individual later state when older that they no longer ever experience this desire, they would then be classified as experiencing “decreasing” gender noncontentedness.

Of course, transgender identification is not accurately gauged by answering a single question. Instead, gender dysphoria diagnoses require a persistent, consistent, and insistent desire to be the other sex lasting 6 months, as well as 5 of 7 other criteria, such as a dislike of one’s own sexual anatomy, a desire for sex characteristics to match their experienced gender, preference for cross sex roles in make-believe play, and more. The study, on the other hand, looks at an isolated question at individual moments in young people’s lives and clearly cannot be used as a proxy for transgender people.

Although the study encompassed a wide range of participants beyond just those who are transgender, it provides intriguing insights into a subset of the sample that might actually identify as transgender. Epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, in his analysis published early Friday morning, delved into the data. Meyerowitz-Katz found, “Overall, the proportion of children aged 10-12 who said they ‘often’ wanted to be the opposite sex decreased from 2% to 1% by the age of 12-14, and then remained constant. Therefore, we could reasonably argue that, based on this study, transgender identification tends to stabilize by the age of 12.” Meyerowitz-Katz adds that even though this is evidence of a stable gender identity for transgender people, even answering “often” on the survey is not a good proxy for transgender identification; the response is provided only as a snapshot, and reasons for answering “often” on that single question are numerous.

“Ultimately, despite the media furor, these results tell us very little about transgender children. At best, it seems likely that children who have a strong trans identity at ages 10-14 probably don’t change that much, while those who only sometimes think about being another gender may change their minds a bit more – how this relates to the proportion of kids who no longer identify as another gender when they grow up is anyone’s guess.”

For these reasons, it is clear that a fact check renders the claims made about the study completely unsupported.

However, there is more to said on the study: it represents a perfect illustration of the problem in many old studies that claim to demonstrate transgender “desistance,” or the notion that transgender individuals cease to identify as trans as they age. The Daily Mail interviews Jay Richards, introduced as the director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at the Heritage Foundation (though it leaves the Heritage Foundation portion out of the introduction). Richards asserts, “Indeed, we can infer from the DSM 5 [2013] and other sources that as many as 88 percent of gender-dysphoric girls and as many as 98 percent of gender-dysphoric boys in previous generations desisted if allowed to go through natural puberty.”

This “80% desistance myth” has been fact checked as false in a separate article, yet this study presents the most direct evidence of the origin of the “80%” statistic that Richards pushes in the Daily Mail article. Ironically, this article and the associated study makes it easier to critique of the reliability of many older studies on the persistence of gender identity among youth from the 1990s to 2000s. In the 1990s and 2000s, gender dysphoria was not a diagnosis; instead, the diagnosis was gender identity disorder. The only singular required criterion was a “discomfort with the gender role of the assigned sex” – there was no requirement for a child to desire or insist that they were another sex. The diagnosis was also pathological and often resulted in parents of “sissy boys” or masculine girls taking their children in for psychological treatment.

You can see the old requirements vs the new requirements here:

Old criteria vs. new criteria (Credit: Diana Ofosu)

The belief that individuals desist from transgender identities at high rates traces back to Kenneth Zucker, the editor of the journal in which this current study was published. In the 1990s, Zucker led a clinic and conducted research on “desistance” from being transgender, giving rise to the “80% of transgender youth desist” narrative.

A later review revealed that approximately half of the patients at his clinic did not meet the criteria for gender identity disorder then in place. Moreover, even those who did meet these criteria were often subjected to practices now widely considered unethical, akin to conversion or reparative therapy. Such practices included withholding toys and clothing associated with the gender the child identified with, forcing children to play in ways that aligned with their sex assigned at birth, among others. Treatment approaches were reportedly influenced by parental wishes regarding their child’s gender identity.

Both Zucker and another researcher, Thomas Steensma, have published studies on the “desistance” of individuals purported to represent transgender youth in earlier decades. It’s important to note, however, that the criteria for diagnosing gender dysphoria have undergone significant changes since the 1990s and early 2000s. Studies claiming to demonstrate “high desistance” rates uniformly suffer from a critical flaw that was prevalent during those decades: gender nonconformity was pathologized, leading these studies to encompass a much broader group of individuals than just those who are transgender. This recent study replicates the same error in a perhaps easier to see fashion, making it a perfect example of the problems inherent in utilizing older datasets for current research on gender identity.

Despite the study clearly not showing what the headline from The Daily Mail claims it shows, major conservative influencers spread misinformation on the study, leading to widespread distribution of factually incorrect information about transgender people. Ian Miles Cheong shared the study, stating, “being transgender is a trend — it’s a phase some kids go through and eventually grow out.” That post was then shared by Elon Musk, who said, “kids need to be protected at all costs.” Those posts sharing the article were viewed over 35,000,000 times on Twitter alone.

Journalists should be cautious interpreting old studies regarding transgender people, and should check in with researchers on transgender care before publishing incorrect and inflammatory headlines on transgender care.

Further reading on the Daily Mail article and the study itself can be found here:

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

Evan Low survives historic primary race, will be on November ballot

Elections officials certified their vote counts Thursday. It is reportedly the first time three candidates will advance out of a primary race

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Gay Assemblymember Evan Low is part of a trio of candidates moving on to the general election race for an open South Bay U.S. House seat. (Photo Credit: Assemblymember Evan Low)

By Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor | CUPERTINO, Calif. – Having survived a historic primary race for an open South Bay U.S. House seat, gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) will now vie in November to be the Bay Area’s first gay congressmember. But he is facing a tough three-person contest this fall.

As the Bay Area Reporter first reported online April 3, Low ended up tying for second place with Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian once all ballots were counted this week. The two Democrats both received 30,249 votes.

Because California’s election code does not allow a tie vote in a primary to be determined “by lot,” the pair will both appear on the November 5 ballot along with former San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo. The fellow Democrat finished first in the March 5 primary race with 38,489 votes.

One of the three will succeed Congressmember Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), as she decided to retire when her current term expires. Her House District 16 seat spans San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

“I am honored to have won the support of our community to advance to the general election to replace the esteemed Anna Eshoo for Congress. Thank you to all of my incredible supporters who gave their time, money, and votes to support our campaign,” stated Low. “This historically close race shows that every vote really counts. I could not have made it this far without every one of you, and I hope to earn your support once again in November.”

Low also expressed thanks to the other candidates who ran in the primary, including bisexual Palo Alto City Councilmember Julie Lythcott-Haims, “for a thoughtful campaign and for their commitment to serve our community. I look forward to continuing to share my vision for the future with every voter in the coming months.”

Elections officials in both jurisdictions certified their vote counts Thursday. It is reportedly the first time three candidates will advance out of a primary race since California began using its open primary system. Adopted by voters in 2010, normally only the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation advance out of the primary for a federal office to the general election.

In the case of a tied vote, per the state’s election code, “if only one candidate receives the highest number of votes cast but there is a tie vote among two or more candidates receiving the second highest number of votes cast, each of those second-place candidates shall be a candidate at the ensuing general election along with the candidate receiving the highest number of votes cast, regardless of whether there are more candidates at the general election than prescribed by this article.”

Any of the candidates or a registered voter in the state can ask for a recount. They now have five calendar days to do so, but it will cost them tens of thousands of dollars because the financial burden falls on them and not the county election offices.

In announcing her certification of the primary election results in Santa Clara County, Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey noted, “The results of this election exemplify why your vote truly matters.”

Other close races

The House race was one of several primary contests with LGBTQ candidates across the Golden State that took weeks to determine due to razor-thin vote margins. It wasn’t until March 28 that bisexual Riverside City Councilmember Clarissa Cervantes declared victory in her race for an open Assembly seat.

Cervantes took second place over fellow Democrat Ronaldo Fierro by 202 votes. In November, she will compete against Republican Leticia Castillo, who placed first in the primary, for the 58th Assembly District seat that spans Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

“I want to extend my deep gratitude and appreciation to my daughter, my family, my dedicated team, our tremendous volunteers, and every labor union and organization who stood with us and believed in my candidacy,” stated Cervantes. “Thank you for standing with me. I am ready to champion the needs of our communities in Sacramento and ready to deliver lasting results for the Inland Empire.”

If victorious, Cervantes will be one of the Golden State’s first bisexual female legislators. She would also succeed her sister, lesbian Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona), who is favored to win her November 5 race for the open Senate District 31 seat against GOPer Cynthia Navarro.

The Cervantes sisters, who are both moms, would be the first pair of LGBTQ siblings to serve together in the California Legislature. Of the two, Clarissa Cervantes is likely facing the tougher fall campaign.

Castillo and Republicans likely will continue hammering her over being arrested last year for drunken driving weeks after a judge had dismissed her DUI conviction from 2015. Cervantes has been sober for more than seven months now, per a campaign spokesperson, and was one of several Democratic primary candidates who overcame DUI headlines to win in March.

State Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) also faced attacks stemming from his DUI arrest last year in Sacramento. Nonetheless, he survived his March 5 contest for an open U.S. House seat in the heart of Orange County and is competing in November against former Republican Assemblymember Scott Baugh of Huntington Beach.

Min’s campaign blasted Baugh Thursday over his benefitting from an April 3 fundraiser in Newport Beach with Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana. It signaled how their race “is ground zero in the fight for the House,” stated Min campaign spokesperson Amelia Matier. “Baugh’s connections to white nationalists and his backing by groups against abortion and LGBTQ+ rights fit right into Johnson’s MAGA Congressional playbook.”

They are seeking the District 47 seat being vacated by Congressmember Katie Porter (D-Irvine), as she lost her primary bid for the U.S. Senate seat that for years had been held by the late Senator Dianne Feinstein. After her death last fall, Democratic lesbian U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler was appointed to fill the vacancy by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Butler opted not to seek a full term this year and will step down shortly after the November 5 election. Congressmember Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) is expected to easily win the seat over his GOP opponent, retired baseball star Steve Garvey.

The state’s current two gay congressional members, Democrats Mark Takano of Riverside and Robert Garcia of Long Beach, both represent Southern California districts and are expected to easily win reelection in November. They both had endorsed Low in his primary race.

Southern California congressional candidate Will Rollins has received support from the Democratic Party. (Photo: Courtesy Will Rollins)  

But as he is seeking a safe Democratic seat that will not factor into if Democrats retake the House this year, Low will not have the same party advantages as gay congressional candidate Will Rollins has in his bid for a House seat in the Palms Spring area. Rollins is aiming to oust from office conservative Congressmember Ken Calvert (R-Corona) from his 41st Congressional District seat.

His race is seen as a possible pickup for the Democrats, and unlike when he first ran against Calvert in 2022, Rollins has received early backing and support from his party since he launched his campaign last year. Thursday Rollins announced raising over $1.8 million in the first three months of 2024.

His campaign noted it is the single-highest fundraising quarter ever for a candidate running against Calvert. Rollins is also reporting having more than $3 million in cash on hand as he ramps up his fall campaign.

“The contrast in our race could not be clearer, and that’s demonstrated by our continued fundraising success,” stated Rollins. “Voters in California’s 41st District know that 32 years of Ken Calvert is far too much. It’s time to turn the page from his decades of corruption and MAGA extremism and bring in new leadership that works across the aisle to get things done for Riverside County. Together, we are going to win this race and deliver a pro-democracy and pro-working family agenda for the people of our district.”

Two other gay Democratic congressional candidates are mounting rematches this year and have not gotten the same party support as Rollins has received. Progressive lawyer David Kim aims to oust from office Congressmember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) from his District 34 House seat to become the first out Korean American elected to Congress.

Progressive activist Derek Marshall is seen as the underdog in his race against Congressmember Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) for the District 23 House seat in the high desert country east of Los Angeles.

In the East Bay race to succeed outgoing Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), who also lost her primary bid for Feinstein’s former Senate seat, queer candidate Jennifer Kim-Anh Tran, Ph.D., is also seen as the underdog against fellow Democrat Lateefah Simon. The BART board member took a commanding lead in their primary race for the District 12 House seat and is expected to easily win it come November 5.

Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang following the victory by Evan Low in the CA-16 primary election, released the following statement:

We are thrilled to see Evan Low advancing to the November General Election after his victory in California’s 16th Congressional District. With LGBTQ+ civil rights under attack, we need leaders like Evan in Congress. He has been on the front lines of the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights for years —and he would make history as the first LGBTQ+ leader to represent the Bay Area in Congress.

As Chair of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, he has advanced legislation to better the lives of LGBTQ+ Californians in various arenas, including healthcare, safe and supportive schools, cultural competency for law enforcement, and more. Last year, he joined Sen. Scott Wiener in successfully advancing ACA 5 through the legislature — a constitutional amendment that will remove the discriminatory, anti-marriage equality language of Proposition 8 from our state’s constitution once and for all. Thanks to his leadership, voters will have the opportunity to protect same sex-and interracial marriages this November.

Evan’s experience and strong record make him the best candidate to represent California’s 16th Congressional District, and we look forward to helping ensure he wins in November.”  

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The preceding article was previously published by the Bay Area Reporter and is republished with permission.

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Politics

PBS Poll: 20% of Americans think political violence is necessary

47 percent of Americans overall say discrimination against white people is as much of a problem as it is against Black people

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Trump supporters & other insurrectionists storm the U.S. Capitol Building battling police on January 6, 2021. (Screenshot/YouTube)

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – The latest PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll found that one in five adult Americans feel that the nation is so far off course that only political violence will get the country back on track.

According to PBS News Hour, most Americans, no matter their political affiliation, do not believe that violence is a solution to domestic political divisions, according to this latest poll. But Republicans were more likely than Democrats or independents — and slightly more likely than the population overall – to say force may be needed to course-correct.

Chart by Jenna Cohen/PBS NewsHour

This poll comes as more harsh rhetoric by GOP frontrunner Donald Trump came at campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan Tuesday as he railed against “Biden’s border bloodbath.” Trump has previously used inflammatory statements regarding his political rival, President Joe Biden, along with his allies who have ratcheted up heated divisive political discourse.

PBS News Hour also reported: This poll found that about 25 percent of U.S. adults thought a president should be immune from crimes committed while in office. Republicans, at 34 percent, were nearly twice as likely as Democrats (18 percent) or independents (19 percent) to feel this way.

Chart by Jenna Cohen/PBS NewsHour

In addition, 41 percent of Americans overall said the nation has gotten so far off track that it needs a leader willing to break rules. Looking across partisan lines, 56 percent of Republicans, 28 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of independents agree, PBS reported.

Key Point findings in this poll included:

  • Roughly 8 in 10 Americans say they have friends with different political beliefs than theirs. Among independents, that rises to about 9 in 10.
  • Three-quarters of Americans said religion should not influence government policy. Another 24 percent said religion should play a role, including almost half of all Republican men.
  • 51 percent of Americans overall said immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally should be deported (an opinion shared by 84 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats).
  • Two-thirds of Americans say the country “is too politically correct.” Trump voters were about twice as likely as Biden voters to agree (79 percent vs. 37 percent).
  • 47 percent of Americans overall say discrimination against white people is as much of a problem as it is against Black people and people in other minority groups. Looking across party lines, 77 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of independents and 22 percent of Democrats agree.
  • President Joe Biden won the 2020 election. In this poll, 71 percent of Americans overall said they believe that to be true. That drops to 38 percent among Republicans.

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