Connect with us

Politics

Liberal PAC poll shows Floridians oppose DeSantis policies

Respondents were asked their opinion of recent laws being signed by Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis that targets LGBTQ+ Floridians

Published

on

Billboard mock-up photo provided by Cedar Key Progress PAC

SACRAMENTO -A recent Cedar Key Progress poll of 400 Floridians, conducted May 18-22, 2023 by Civiqs, found that Floridians oppose LGBTQ+ book bans and Ron DeSantis’s attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

In a series of questions, respondents were asked their opinion of recent laws being signed by Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis that targets LGBTQ+ Floridians, especially LGBTQ+ youth and educational instruction.

Do you support or oppose laws removing books mentioning gay and transgender people and history from public school libraries?
Support 42%
Oppose 48%
Neither support nor oppose 7%
Unsure 3%

Do you support or oppose laws banning diversity, equity, and inclusion programs from colleges and universities?
Support 39%
Oppose 50%
Neither support nor oppose 7%
Unsure 4%

Full poll results here.

The Cedar Key Progress group is also sponsoring six billboards during June’s LGBTQ+ Pride month 2023 to be positioned along six major throughfares across the state including:

Titusville, Brevard County
East side, Northbound U.S. 1, north of Golden Knights Blvd

Tallahassee, Leon County
West side, Lake Bradford Road north of Hutchinson St

Yulee, Nassau County
US 17 south of Harts Road

Pensacola, Escambia County
South side of I-10 west of Alt US 90

Summerfield, Marion County
US 27 south of SE 132nd St

Winter Haven, Polk County
Cypress Gardens Blvd south of Old Helena Rd

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Politics

Oregon U.S. Senator & trans advocates: renewed Equality Act push

“Our rights & freedoms are on the ballot. I won’t stop fighting until every American can live safely & freely as their authentic self”

Published

on

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) speaks at the Senate Swamp on Tuesday. (Washington Blade photo by Christopher Kane)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) called for passage of the Equality Act during a press conference on Wednesday alongside Advocates for Trans Equality, who were convened on Capitol Hill for the Trans Day of Empowerment lobby day.

Instead of freedom and the opportunity to participate fully in society, the senator said, “We see hatred, we see harassment, we see homelessness, we see discrimination, and bigotry, and violence, we see unemployment, we even see state-sanctioned attempts to outlaw the very identity of our transgender members of our community.”

“Across America in 2024, in our state legislatures there have been 500 bills drafted to constrain the opportunity for transgender Americans,” Merkley said. “They take on school curriculum, or they ban gender affirming care or otherwise seek to constrain the opportunity to participate in society, by our transgender individuals, in so many different ways.”

“This is wrong,” he said. “This is unacceptable. And we need to therefore pass the Equality Act here in the halls of Congress.”

Merkley, who introduced the latest iteration of the bill in the Senate, noted the legislation would “end discrimination on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, in housing, in public accommodations, in mortgages, in financial transactions, in jury duty — every facet of American society.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), who is gay and a co-chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, is leading the House version of the bill.

However, Merkley said, “our partners on the right side of the aisle have abandoned us. So, the responsibility to pass the Equality Act falls firmly on the Democratic Party.”

The senator called for an end to the Senate filibuster as a means of passing important legislation like the Equality Act.

Separately, in a statement to the Washington Blade, Merkley said, “Voting is the heart of our democracy. As Americans cast their ballots this fall, they have the chance to decide major issues facing our nation — from LGBTQ+ rights to reproductive freedom to so much more.”

“Democracy doesn’t exist unless every eligible voter has equal opportunity to make their voice heard,” he said. “As attacks on our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors continue in the halls of Congress, state legislatures, and in our communities, we must all speak out and vote against this rising hate.”

The senator added, “Our rights and freedoms are on the ballot this year, and I won’t stop fighting until every American can live safely and freely as their authentic self.”

Continue Reading

Political commentary & analysis

Family Research Council falsely claims Pride events ‘scaled back’

“Pride is a time to celebrate all the progress that has been made; especially within sports over the past decade”

Published

on

Suzanne Bowdey, editorial director and senior writer at the FRC’s outlet, The Washington Stand, made that claim in a June 4, 2024 online column and in an appearance on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins. (Screenshot/YouTube Washington Watch with Tony Perkins)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Borrowing a tactic from former president and convicted felon Donald Trump, the Family Research Council’s in-house propaganda machine published a lie in hopes it will be accepted by the uninformed as truth. In this case, the false claim is headlined “Major Sports Leagues Dump Pride, as Biden Fights to Fill the Void.” 

Suzanne Bowdey, editorial director and senior writer at the FRC’s outlet, The Washington Stand, made that claim in the form of an online commentary

“…Not just major brands but major leagues are making the conscious decision to sit this month out, desperate to protect their profits from the consumer outrage that’s burned down brands like Bud Light and Target,” she wrote. “…America’s five major sports leagues pushed the LGBT holiday to the sidelines. Unlike past years, the rainbows that used to color the logos of the NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLS for the month are gone.

“Only Major League Baseball dipped its toes into the 2024 Pride waters — a brief experiment that they abandoned when fans went berserk. After its ‘Baseball is everyone’s game’ post on the morning of June 1, users exploded in the comments…” 

Exploded? Well, maybe, as the typical homophobic trolls were met with glitter and glee and anticipation of hate messages so typical for X these days. 

And some others just admired the rainbow logo

To verify Bowdey’s claims, the Los Angeles Blade reached out to media representatives for a wide range of sports leagues and checked the social media pages for the MLB, NFL, NBA, WNBA, NHL teams like the Edmonton Oilers, the Philadelphia Flyers and the league’s players association, MLS and NASCAR to see if they had indeed “dumped” Pride.

Nope, although as Pink News reported, there are several NFL teams that did not rebrand their logos with rainbow colors, despite the league’s Instagram post, including Harrison Butker’s Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. 

Contrary to reports in right-wing media, the Green Bay Packers are one of the 20 teams that support Pride Month on its social media, and even the teams that aren’t on board still sell Pride merch on their websites. 

The Blade also reached out to public relations specialist Paulo Senra, who founded PushPull PR nearly a decade ago and for nearly a year has been Canada Soccer’s Chief Communications and Content Officer. Senra called Bowdey’s op-ed “way off base.” 

“Just look to what U.S. soccer is doing with its Pride jerseys. We would know, as we are partners working with them on their Pride game and jersey auction. Any suggestion to the contrary is just simply factually incorrect,” Senra told the Blade. “All the major sports leagues are celebrating Pride this year. One just has to quickly search social media posts to see that leagues and individual teams are sharing their Pride stories and support for the community in many ways from games, donations, parade participation and engaging with training resources we provide.” 

Some examples: 

As the Blade has reported, the NHL reversed course last year and dropped a ban on rainbow-colored Pride tape on players’ hockey sticks to honor the LGBTQ+ community at Pride games, which the NHL celebrates on its website.

The NBA, which could see the Celtics crowned champions tonight, is also a big supporter of Pride, both as a league and through its individual teams, like the Dallas Mavericks.

The league provided the Blade with a statement of its “core values” of equality, respect and inclusion.” 

“As part of our ongoing commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, the NBA and WNBA family works in partnership with leading LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations — including Athlete Ally, GLAAD and GLSEN — to support a variety of programs and initiatives designed to promote LGBTQ+ equality and create a more inclusive environment in our leagues and across sports year-round,” the NBA said in its statement to the Blade. 

“The NBA and WNBA are engaging players, teams, and fans through a variety of activations that celebrate the league’s year-round commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and inspire all to be more inclusive,” said the NBA through its statement. The league also boasts a Pride employees resource team: “Started in 2015, NBA Pride aims to bring together the league office’s LGBTQ+ employees and allies to foster an environment in which LGBTQ+ employees feel empowered and encouraged to bring their whole selves to work each day.  The Pride ERT was the first LGBTQ+ employee resource team in a major professional sports league, and hosts regular programming for league employees.” 

The NBA had a float in last year’s New York City Pride March and in its statement to the Blade, the league promised it will do so again this year. 

“Pride is a time to celebrate all the progress that has been made; especially within sports over the past decade,” said Senra. “We’re proud of work we have done to make the world of sports more inclusive and a safe space for all. Pride is also an opportunity to reflect on opportunities where we can continue to have a lasting impact and continue the work year-round to ensure that anyone connected to sport as a player, fan, coach, official or executive can be a part of it authentically and welcomed by their organization.”

Continue Reading

Political commentary & analysis

Project 2025: Far right’s laundry list also targets LGBTQ+ rights

Project 2025  extends to altering the post-WWII international order, challenging established human rights declarations

Published

on

Former President Trump speaks at Heritage Foundation event in 2018. (Screenshot/YouTube PBS NewsHour)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A dystopian Handmaid’s Tale style future may soon be underway in the US, should former President Donald Trump and the Republicans seize the upcoming election. Backed by billions of dollars in funding, and over 100 organizations, many of which are tied to hate groups and white nationalists, the far right’s laundry list of goals includes removing all women’s reproductive rights, and firing all LGBTQ+ employees.

This plan is called Project 2025, and it is terrifying for the minority groups it calls out. 

In a recent Zoom discussion attended by the Blade, Wendy Via and Heidi Beirich, co-founders of the advocacy The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE), shed light on the disturbing realities of  the far-right’s manifesto that has gained surprisingly little media coverage thus far. 

Wendy Via President & Co-Founder and Heidi Beirich, PhD Chief Strategy Officer & Co-Founder (Photo Credit: GPAHE)

Project 2025, led by the far-right Heritage Foundation and supported by over 100 organizations, is a 920-page plan aimed at reshaping America into a more authoritarian and Christian Nationalist state.

The plan threatens to roll back constitutional rights for women, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, and people of color, and proposes centralizing power in the executive branch. Project 2025 aims to radically reshape the U.S. government, systematically dismantling protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, women, people of color, immigrants, and disabled individuals.

One excerpt from Project 2025 reads: “The next conservative President must make the institutions of American civil society hard targets for woke culture warriors. This starts with deleting the terms sexual orientation and gender identity (“SOGI”), diversity, equity, and inclusion, gender, gender equality, gender equity, gender awareness, gender-sensitive, abortion, reproductive health, reproductive rights, and any other term used to deprive Americans of their First Amendment rights out of every federal rule, agency regulation, contract, grant, regulation, and piece of legislation that exists.”

Project 2025 entails a coordinated attack on people of color and immigrants, proposing measures such as militarizing the border and executing mass deportations. Further proposals include re-assigning control of the FBI to the president, giving the ruler of the free world the power to turn the FBI on anyone not following through on the rules outlines by Project 2025. 

Trump’s plan to increase law enforcement and military presence, coupled with the potential use of the DOJ and FBI to target marginalized groups, raises alarms about civil rights protections.

The militarization of law enforcement under Project 2025 threatens the safety and freedoms of vulnerable populations, and all those who do not fall under the category of cisgender heterosexual, white, Christians.

Authors of Project 2025 seek to erase terms like “gender identity” and “diversity” from government language, further marginalizing LGBTQ+ individuals. The plan also includes proposals to demonize the LGBTQ+ community, painting them as societal threats through various government agencies.

Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA (TPUSA) and a Project 2025 advisor, continues to promote controversial Christian Nationalist views. At a Phoenix rally, he compared the fight against “wokeness” to World War II battles against totalitarianism. TPUSA, with significant financial backing, actively promotes conservative values and opposes LGBTQ+ rights.

The project calls for the removal of LGBTQ+ protections in employment, education, and adoption, and aims to criminalize gender-affirming care. LGBTQ+ individuals face the threat of job termination and increased legal persecution under this plan.

Under these rules, anyone who can be proven or, perhaps, even suspected of being hired under Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, will be fired.

Christian nationalism is a keystone in shaping Project 2025, which includes efforts to restrict reproductive rights in addition to LGBTQ+ issues. The plan’s advocates seek to make the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) federal law, promoting Christian traditional family values at the expense of individual freedoms.

This includes allowing orphanages to turn away potential adopters who adhere to any faith other than Christianity. Further, Project 2025 threatens to eradicate adoptions as a whole, as the manifesto calls for a child’s “right” to be raised by their mother and father, regardless of the economic and/or mental states of said parents. The act would also limit or eliminate the right to practice one’s religion of choice, thereby annihilating the separation of church and state. 

Project 2025  extends to altering the post-WWII international order, challenging established human rights declarations. Plans to fire civil servants and replace them with political appointees were also discussed, raising concerns about the impartiality and stability of federal agencies. 

One zoom attendee  voiced concerns about the defunding of LGBTQ+ nonprofits and the potential for increased investigations and demonization of organizations working with immigrants. The implementation of Project 2025 through executive orders by a conservative president poses a substantial risk to this concern.

Emphasizing the critical need to act now, speakers highlighted the growth of a far-right international network since Trump’s presidency, which could lead to the criminalization of LGBTQ+ individuals. The overturning of landmark cases like Lawrence v. Texas could pave the way for further legal persecution.

Continue Reading

Politics

Biden-Harris campaign debuts ads targeting LGBTQ voters

The Biden-Harris 2024 campaign will debut new ads on Tuesday targeting LGBTQ voters in battleground states for Pride Month

Published

on

Image courtesy of Biden-Harris 2024 campaign


WILMINGTON, Del. — The Biden-Harris 2024 campaign will debut new ads on Tuesday targeting LGBTQ voters in battleground states for Pride Month ahead of November’s election.

“These ads will be featured across national and battleground LGBTQ+ media outlets, and will run throughout the month,” the campaign explained in a press release.

The aim is to “uplift” Biden’s record as “the most pro-LGBTQ+ president in history” while also highlighting “Donald Trump’s history of attacking their rights and his plans to go further.”

One ad that was previewed exclusively by the Washington Blade reads, “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are fighting for the LGBTQ community!” with a photo of the president and vice president.

Another, formatted for social media, features a photo of Pride flags atop a quote from the “PBS NewsHour”: “On the campaign trail, Donald Trump has been outlining what he plans to do if elected in November. That includes rolling back the rights of millions of LGBTQ+ people. It’s part of a wider playbook to undo many civil rights advances for minority groups.”

“This Pride is an important time to remember the progress we’ve made for our community under President Biden, and the stakes of this election for LGBTQ+ Americans as Trump proudly runs to strip us of our rights,” said Biden-Harris 2024 Spokesperson Kevin Munoz, who is gay.

“From threatening IVF treatments to threatening LGBTQ+ marriages, Trump’s Project 2025 agenda would rip away our rights, and sow needless hate and division for Trump’s political gain,” he said. “LGBTQ+ Americans deserve to hear from us about these stakes, and this buy shows we will continue to show up and make our case to them in this election.”

The ad blitz on Tuesday comes after the campaign’s announcement of a paid media and organizing push for Pride month, which includes sizable investments in courting LGBTQ voters in battleground states.

Continue Reading

Politics

New poll: 60% oppose laws banning youth gender-affirming care

A slim majority believe that changing one’s gender is morally wrong. Yet, a majority also oppose laws banning gender-affirming care

Published

on

“March for Queer and Trans Youth Autonomy” on Transgender Day of Visibility 2023. (File photo: Washington Blade/Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – A new Gallup poll out this week found that six in 10 U.S. adults oppose laws banning gender-affirming care for minors. The poll also found that a steady 51% of Americans think changing one’s gender is morally wrong, while 44% say it is morally acceptable.

According to the researchers at Gallup: There are significant demographic differences in Americans’ views of the morality of changing one’s gender. Majorities of political liberals (81%), Democrats (72%), those who do not identify with a religion (67%), those who do not attend religious services regularly (59%), young adults aged 18 to 29 (56%) and college graduates (53%) believe changing genders is morally acceptable. Less than half of their counterparts say the same.

While slightly less than half of women believe in the moral acceptability of changing genders, they are significantly more likely than men to think as much (48% vs. 39%, respectively).

In data published by the Human Rights Campaign, as of May 2024, 39% or 117,600 trans youth aged 13-17 are living in the 25 states that have passed bans on gender-affirming care. This includes 18,500 youth living in the three states–Florida, Ohio, and Montana–where bans are currently on hold or blocked from enforcement through court orders.

In its survey, Gallup researchers gauged Americans’ support for laws banning such care for minors with two questions, each asked of half of the total sample. One question asks about bans in general terms, on “treatments and medical procedures,” while the other spells out some of the specific treatments that could be banned, such as “psychological support, hormonal treatments and medical surgeries” to help minors align with their gender identity.

Gallup researchers found that on both questions, Republicans are more supportive than Democrats and independents of bans on gender-affirming care for minors.

On the more specific question that includes psychological support, hormonal treatments and medical surgeries, a majority of Republicans (53%) but far fewer Democrats (25%) and independents (34%) favor a ban.

On the more general question, Republicans are somewhat less likely to support a ban on treatments and medical procedures (45%), while Democrats’ and independents’ responses remain unchanged from the more specific question.

Gallup researchers measured U.S. adults’ gender identity in all of its surveys; an average of 0.9% of U.S. adults in 2023 identified as transgender. Transgender identification among adults is highest (2.8%) for those in Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2005).

The Gallup polling data also revealed:

A slim majority of Americans believe that changing one’s gender is morally wrong. Yet, a majority also oppose laws banning gender-affirming care to help minors align with their gender identity.

This discrepancy could be because the questions about gender-affirming care specifically mention minors, while the question about the morality of changing one’s gender does not. In addition, the relatively low support for banning laws on gender-affirming care may be attributable to Americans’ general distaste for bans, a pattern that can be seen in Gallup trends on banning cigarette smoking and handguns.

Continue Reading

Religious Extremism/Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism

Bogus Doctors org pushed by Musk & Fox News against trans care

Headlines on conservative news sites stated that the “American College of Pediatricians” opposes trans care

Published

on

A video featuring Dr. Jill Simons states that there must be an end to "social affirmation, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones" for trans youth. (Photo Credit: Erin Reed)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – On Friday, numerous conservative accounts and news sources promoted headlines that the “American College of Pediatricians” had issued a statement against transgender care.

video accompanied the announcement featuring Dr. Jill Simons, who, wearing a white lab coat, states that there must be an end to “social affirmation, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones” for transgender youth.

Despite the official-looking attire and name, the organization’s name serves to mislead observers into thinking they are the much larger American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents tens of thousands of pediatricians. In reality, the ACP is a hyper-conservative Christian group of doctors created in 2002 to oppose gay parenting.

In the announcement released on Friday, Simons called for an end to social transition and gender-affirming care for transgender youth. One video, which went viral, begins with a statement that the organization has released a “declaration” authored by the American College of Pediatricians, along with “hundreds of doctors and healthcare workers,” opposing transgender care.

It references the highly-politicized Cass Review from the United Kingdom, whose author controversially blames pornography for being transgender, as well as the Climategate-style leak of the “WPATH Files” to support the statement.

The video, which was viewed over 51 million times on Twitter, cuts off just before the next speaker is introduced: Dr. Andre Van Mol, who represents the Christian Medical and Dental Associations. Van Mol serves on the board of the Bethel Church of Redding, which made headlines in 2019 for attempting to pray a dead child back to life.

He is followed by representatives from several other Christian medical organizations that also support banning transgender care. The website promoted at the event lists signatories to the statement, including the Catholic Medical Association, Genspect, The National Catholic Bioethics Center, the Family Research Council, and the Discovery Institute, an organization that promotes intelligent design over evolution in schools.

The American College of Pediatricians has been hugely influential in the promotion of anti-trans policy in the United States, relying in part to its misleading name. Members of the organization testify in state houses and courtrooms across the United States, misleading legislators into thinking they are the much larger American Academy of Pediatrics, the professional society that represents 67,000 pediatricians in the United States.

In 2023, the organization inadvertently left a Google Drive public, leading to the leak of a massive trove of files showing their extremist roots. According to these documents, the group received significant media training from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a right-wing organization that has played a large role in the passage and defense of anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the United States.

It also received free video production from Family Watch International, a group of Christian fundamentalists opposing homosexuality, birth control, abortion, and sex education. The American College of Pediatricians itself has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2012, when the group’s leader stated that “homosexuality poses a danger to children” and that the group was “essentially a Judeo-Christian values organization.”

Despite its clear Christian fundamentalist opposition to LGBTQ+ people, the organization’s name has been utilized to help create misleading headlines about the state of medical acceptance of transgender care in the United States.

On Friday, conservative influencer Robby Starbuck posted a video of Simons speaking with a statement that “The American College of Pediatricians” had called for groups to “IMMEDIATELY stop the promotion of social affirmation, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries for children and adolescents who experience distress over their biological sex.”

That video was retweeted by Elon Musk, who quote tweeted it with a reply of “wow.” Michael Shermer of “Skeptic Magazine” also promoted the misleading video. Following millions of views on twitter, Fox News reported on the video, stating that “American College of Pediatricians issues fiery statement condemning child gender transition” and that “The American College of Pediatricians and other groups argue evidence does not support transgender medical procedures.”

The Fox News article makes no mention of the nature of the ACP and its Christian conservative roots.

The article and tweets successfully fooled many people. Replies to the Fox News story, for instance, feature top-rated comments such as “I’m a retired physician, pathologist, who has been wondering why this group and others have taken so long to publish a position paper along these lines,” “I never thought I would see anything like this in my entire life,” and “Finally…….a medical group has the courage to speak out against this evil practice!”

Despite the widespread misinformation, every major medical organization in the United States supports gender-affirming care. In February, the American Psychological Association, the largest psychological association in the world, released a policy resolution stating that gender-affirming care is medically necessary and saves lives.

The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that transgender youth have access to gender-affirming care tailored to their unique needs. The Advocates for Trans Equality maintains a list of over 30 of the largest U.S.-based medical organizations that support transgender care, including the Endocrine Society, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the American Public Health Association, and the American Medical Association.

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

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.

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

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

Continue Reading

Political commentary & analysis

2024 European elections: A turning point for LGBTQ rights?

After the elections, right-wing parties are gaining substantial ground and concerns about the potential impact on LGBTQ rights are growing

Published

on

The Pride flag and flag of the European Union fly over International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo Credit: ILGA)

By Amber Laenen | BRUSSELS, Belgium – As the dust settles after the 2024 European Parliament elections, right-wing parties are gaining substantial ground and concerns about the potential impact on LGBTQ rights are growing. The projected surge in support for far-right parties, however, was not as pronounced as some had expected.

Monday morning’s estimates indicate the far-right’s presence has, however, undeniably increased. 

The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) gained four seats, bringing their total to 73. The Identity and Democracy group saw a significant rise, gaining nine seats to reach 58. Together, these nationalist, anti-immigrant parties now hold around 130 seats, reflecting their growing influence.

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, which clinched over 32 percent of the vote, and the Alternative for Germany securing approximately 16 percent of the vote and becoming the country’s second-largest party, ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, in particular could affect the broader political dynamics in Europe.

Despite the gains for the far-right, the mainstream conservative European People’s Party (EPP) emerged as the largest group, securing 189 seats, an increase of 13 seats. The two other centrist parties, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and Renew Europe, however, experienced losses that eroded the political center. S&D finished with 135 seats, losing four, while Renew Europe saw a significant reduction, finishing with 83 seats.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen celebrated her party’s victory and called for cooperation among centrists to ensure a “strong and effective Europe.” She emphasized the responsibility that comes with the election results, noting the need for stability amid growing support for extremist parties.

The election’s biggest losers were the Greens, who saw their support decrease by 25 percent, ending with 53 seats. The Greens, despite this setback, could still play a crucial role in supporting centrist majorities as an alternative to further-right parties.

All eyes are now on the election winners, the EPP. 

Von der Leyen has indicated her readiness to work with certain parties sitting with the hard-right ECR. Initial signals from the EPP camp, however, suggest it will stay true to its traditional allies at the center. Von der Leyen has offered to work with socialists and liberals to build a “majority in the center for a strong Europe,” underscoring the importance of maintaining a united front against extremism.

The narrow margins in the new parliament could lead to issue-by-issue coalitions, especially for sensitive issues such as those related to the European Green Deal. This limited room for maneuver could see the EPP relying on partners to its right on an ad hoc basis, including for critical decisions that include ushering in a new commission president. Von der Leyen’s future hangs in the balance as she seeks re-election. National delegations within her EPP grouping and support from lawmakers of Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which clinched 24 seats, will play a crucial role in her bid to secure an absolute majority of 361 MEPs.

The implications for LGBTQ rights in Europe are significant. 

Far-right parties, known for their conservative social values, might push for policies that restrict LGBTQ rights, opposing marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, and challenging the legal recognition of gender identity and access to healthcare for transgender people. Such potential policy reversals represent a significant setback for the LGBTQ community.

The rising popularity of far-right ideologies also poses a risk of heightened discrimination and hate speech against LGBTQ people. 

Hate-motivated violence and exclusion are likely to become more prevalent, along with more frequent and aggressive hate speech targeting the LGBTQ community. Additionally, far-right parties often promote traditional gender roles and family structures, potentially undermining the visibility and acceptance of LGBTQ identities. Nonbinary, transgender, and intersex people could face increased stigmatization.

The 16th annual Rainbow Map that ILGA-Europe publishes underscores the importance of legal protections for LGBTQ people. 

Authoritarian leaders across Europe continue to use the scapegoating of LGBTQ people to divide and mobilize their electorates. Several countries, however, have demonstrated robust political will to advance and protect LGBTQ rights. Some countries — Germany, Iceland, Estonia, and Greece — have made significant strides in protecting LGBTQ rights through improvements in legislation and anti-discrimination measures. Belgium, Cyprus, Norway, and Portugal have introduced bans on conversion therapy practices.

Countries such as Italy, on the other hand, show the consequences of stalling legislative protection for LGBTQ people. Moreover, EU accession countries, including Turkey and Georgia, are actively eroding human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Rainbow Map illustrates the stark differences in how European countries handle LGBTQ rights. 

While some nations are making significant progress, others are regressing, influenced by the far-right’s growing power. Germany, Iceland, Estonia, and Greece, for example, have made noteworthy improvements in their legal frameworks to protect LGBTQ people. Germany prohibited hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics, while Estonia and Greece amended their laws to allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.

In contrast, Italy, which has dropped in the rankings due to stalling legislative protections, exemplifies the risk of complacency that many activists in Europe fear. The far-right’s influence can quickly lead to the erosion of rights if proactive measures are not taken. The situation is even more dire in EU accession countries such as Turkey and Georgia, where LGBTQ rights are actively being rolled back.

The stakes are high as Europe moves forward from these elections. 

The EU must address the rise in political hate speech and new tools of oppression that include Russia’s criminalization of the LGBTQ movement. Without strong laws and policies to protect LGBTQ people, the foundation of safety, rule of law, and democracy in Europe is at risk.

The balance of power remains delicate as the European Parliament prepares for its new term.

related

The first major test will be the approval of the new European Commission president, which is set for July. Von der Leyen, who narrowly won her position five years ago, will need to secure broad support among centrists while navigating the complex dynamics of the new parliament. The secret ballot process adds an additional layer of uncertainty, making her re-election far from guaranteed.

The 2024 European elections have set the stage for potentially significant changes in the legislative and social landscape of the EU. As right-wing parties gain power, the fight for LGBTQ rights becomes more crucial than ever. The next few years will be pivotal in determining whether Europe can uphold its commitment to human rights and equality or if it will see a regression influenced by nationalist, conservative ideologies.

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

Amber Laenen is a senior at Thomas More Mechelen University in Belgium. She is majoring in journalism and international relations.

Continue Reading

Politics

Former out staffers reflect on working for VP Kamala Harris

Tim Silard & Ike Irby, two gay men who have worked for Harris, spoke to the Blade providing insight into her work advancing LGBTQ+ rights

Published

on

Vice President Kamala Harris and staff (Photo credit: The White House/Lawrence Jackson)

WASHINGTON — The Washington Blade spoke last week with two gay men who have worked for vice president Kamala Harris and provided insight into her work advancing LGBTQ+ rights and her lifelong close ties to the queer community.

These conversations preceded the exclusive interview with Harris published on the Blade Tuesday.

Tim Silard, president of the Rosenberg Foundation, which provides grants to promote racial and economic justice in California, worked for Harris when she served as the District Attorney of San Francisco.

Ike Irby, a scientist who now leads his eponymously named communications firm, served as special assistant to the president and deputy domestic policy advisor and chief climate advisor to the vice president until January 2024, having previously worked in Harris’s U.S. Senate office.

Harris has sincere, deep ties to the LGBTQ community


“She’s had close working relationships with and advisors from the [LGBTQ] community, and in particular, one of her main campaign people the first time she ran [for district attorney] was Jim Rivaldo, who was a legend in San Francisco and part of Harvey Milk’s inner circle,” Silard said.

Irby, and Harris herself, also told the Blade about her work with Rivaldo, who through his role electing Milk, California’s first openly gay public servant, helped show the country it was possible for queer people to hold elected office.

“From the get go, she both hired — and, I think, maybe just as significantly, promoted into the top ranks of the office — a number of LGBTQ people,” Silard said. Harris “was intentional about not only hiring more people of color into the office, but also women and LGBTQ people,” he noted.

When he joined her Senate office, Irby remembers, “it was actually such a shock to like, finally, be in a work environment where it’s not just like there was another queer person, it was like there was a whole family, a brigade of queer people in this office.”

“Law enforcement as an institution tends to be dominated by straight white men,” Silard said. So, “promoting LGBTQ people into [positions] as managers of units and into the top executive staff, I think is a very important element to culture change within an office and to ensuring that the voices of the community are heard within the office.”

“Kamala, just by the virtue of who she is and what she believes, and her deep relationships across many communities, brought a very different perspective,” he explained. “And that was true across so many things, communities of color, women, LGBTQ folks — I think it was just natural for her, and, you know, she became a prosecutor to represent the underdog, right, to represent people who are victimized.”

In her personal life, too, Silard said, the vice president has “always had deep relationships and close friendships” with LGBTQ+ people who “were really part of her immediate, extended family, coming to Thanksgiving dinner and whatnot.”

“In the time period where the vice president was was growing up and learning the foundation of who she was going to be, both as a child in the Bay Area, but then also right after she graduated undergrad and moved to law school over there and then became a D.A., both those time periods were such a moment of the queer liberation movement,” Irby said.

Cover of the August 13-26, 2020 issue of the SF Bay Times newspaper as then U.S. Senator Kamala Harris campaigns for the vice-presidency as an LGBTQ+ ally in Northern California.
(Photo: Library of Congress collections)

This time was also a period in which LGBTQ rights intersected with “women’s rights and Black equality,” he noted, “all of these fights, together, and the way the vice president really addresses and thinks about these issues is that intersectionality.”

“Both because of her relationships, and going back to hiring and promoting a lot of LGBTQ people, all of the things that she did and that we did, that I mentioned, and there were others, all came from and were developed in direct conversation and coordination with leaders from our community,” Silard said.

Taking action, and understanding problems as intersectional


In her first term as district attorney, which was also her first elected position, Harris was sure to appoint LGBTQ+ staff to the Victim Services Division, Silard said.

“Our office provided victim services whether there was an actual prosecution or not,” he said. “If there was a police report, then the victim advocates could do a lot of practical things, like accessing victim support funds and funds for therapy, changing your locks, other kinds of practical ways to keep you safe, as well as emotional support.”

Silard added, “That was the first in California — I don’t know about, possibly, the nation — but where there was a whole team of victim advocates who were from our community.”

As a result, he said, more LGBTQ people came forward to report crimes. Having “vertical prosecution units” with “lawyers and paralegals and others who not only are from the community, but they are experts, they have lower caseloads, they pay more attention,” he said, tends to yield “more successful prosecutions, and you can define that in a whole number of different ways.”

Irby and Silard both highlighted Harris’s work combatting use of the “gay panic defense” and “trans panic defense,” arguments in the courtroom that endeavor to mitigate acts of violence against LGBTQ+ victims.

“She brought a focus to LGBTQ hate crimes, and in particular, transphobic crimes,” said Silard, who noted, “it hadn’t been that long since [the murder of] Matthew Shepard and then, I think, more recently for us in the Bay Area, Gwen Araujo’s murder.”

“We did a whole conference, for law enforcement, on the trans and gay panic defenses,” he said, recalling, “we had these sheriffs from Texas and Florida and people in cowboy hats; we had people from all over the country come from prosecutors’ offices and law enforcement,” many of whom had never met a trans person and now were listening to full panels of trans speakers.

“It really was impactful for those law enforcement people to be hearing directly from trans people about what their lives are like, the oppression and violence that they and people in their community were suffering all the time,” Silard said.

Irby pointed to the fact that Harris “gathered other district attorneys from around the country to do a training so that she could share that information, so that it wasn’t just her impacting [the issue] there in San Francisco.”

Silard said the notion that she “somehow she did these things because she thought it would get her more votes” is ridiculous, as if bringing in law enforcement officials from Florida to work on this issue could have carried some electoral advantage for her.

“It’s classic Kamala to say, ‘okay, what are we going to do about it?'” when confronted with a problem, he said. So, with respect to the gay and trans panic defenses, she set about figuring out ‘”how do we educate people in law enforcement to confront it?’ and ‘how can we craft a law and do it in such a way that still protects the rights of defendants?'”

Irby remembered how Harris, as a new senator, saw and took the chance to help broaden access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, a medication regimen that substantially lessens the chances of transmitting HIV through sex.

“There’s a lot of people who have been senators for a very long time, and there are not a lot of open policy lanes for a new person to come in and try to make sure that they are making their mark on specific issues,” he said. “But on LGBTQ issues in particular, the Vice President found that opportunity by her bill to help people access PrEP.”

Harris, he recalled, said, “‘hey, this is important. We need to de-stigmatize this. This is about healthcare for LGBTQ people. This is about their ability to to be to be safe, to be healthy and live their fullest lives.'”

“As a former prosecutor, she understands the power of the courts, certainly,” Irby told the Blade. Going back to her time as a prosecutor and later as California’s Attorney General, he noted, Harris “refused to uphold Prop 8 in the courts and saw the power of that as making sure that she was fighting for that expansion and not the restriction” of rights through the judiciary, whose role she has always understood as a means of strengthening and broadening freedoms and protections.

“I am so proud of her, and I was so proud to be part of so many things that she did early on and proud of what she’s continuing to do,” Silard said.

“It’s one thing for a politician to talk about an issue, to orate about it very nicely,” Irby said. “It’s another thing to show up in those spaces; it’s another thing to surround yourself and demonstrate that you have credibility,” as she has done and continues to do.

Continue Reading

Politics

New poll: 77% say elected officials use trans issues as a distraction

New NORC/LA Times poll shows support for protecting trans access to medical care & 77% think politicians use trans as a distraction

Published

on

Los Angeles Blade graphic

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – A new poll released by NORC and the Los Angeles Times reveals that 77% of U.S. citizens believe politicians are using debates over transgender and nonbinary people as a distraction from more pressing priorities.

The same poll finds that majorities oppose forced outing laws for transgender youth. A slim majority indicated their support for protecting access to gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth when their parents and doctors feel those treatments are appropriate, though results were somewhat mixed depending on how the question was worded.

These numbers align with several recent polls indicating that while some people may have nuanced opinions on transgender issues, Americans do not view these concerns as worthy of lawmakers’ attention.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “Elected officials are mostly using debates over transgender and nonbinary people to distract attention from more pressing priorities.”

The remainder agreed with the statement, “Issues regarding transgender people are an important priority for elected officials.”

In the last three years, over 1,000 anti-LGBTQ+ laws have been proposed across the United States, most of them targeting transgender people; few other issues receive as much attention in statehouses across the country. These poll results suggest that spending significant time targeting transgender people may not be a popular course of action.

These results align with several recent polls. In March of this year, 71% of South Carolina voters indicated that the government should not intervene in LGBTQ+ gender-affirming healthcare decisions for those under 18 years old.

Another recent poll found that 76% of respondents believe decisions regarding gender-affirming care for transgender youth belong to parents or doctors, not state lawmakers. Similar findings were replicated in a poll of Kentucky voters and a Pathfinder Opinion Research poll that indicated 53% of voters would be motivated to oppose a candidate who frequently spoke about restricting access to gender-affirming care for trans youth, compared to 25% who would be motivated to support such a candidate.

Likewise, a Fox News poll in 2023 indicated that only 1% of people identified transgender issues as a top priority, and 83% of voters believed that political attacks on transgender children are a problem.

The new survey also asked questions about individual issues, such as gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth and adults, as well as forced outing policies for transgender youth in schools.

A majority of respondents indicated that schools should “respect students’ wishes of not telling parents that they identify as transgender.” This support was higher among Democrats than Republicans, but even 32% of Republicans indicated they oppose forced outing policies.

When it comes to gender affirming medical care, the results were mixed depending on how the question was worded. When asked if they would support state laws that prevent access for minors to gender affirming care, 54% answered in favor with 44% in opposition.

However, when asked if they would support laws that protect access for minors to gender affirming care 50% answered in favor and 49% answered against.

Confusing and contradictory results on support for gender-affirming care highlight a larger narrative about Americans’ complex opinions on transgender issues: a lack of salience on the matter.

People’s views on transgender individuals seem not to be firmly held and can vary significantly with simple changes in wording. Most importantly, several polls indicate that Americans do not want legislators spending time on this topic and believe these decisions should be made by parents, patients, and doctors.

These findings suggest that while Americans may have uncertainties about transgender issues, they believe these are personal decisions for families and individuals, not matters for legislative action.

The idea that transgender issues are a distraction is supported by the heavy electoral losses where these issues have been made front and center. In 2023, 70% of Moms For Liberty and 1776 Project candidates lost their races after campaigning heavily on book bans and bathroom bans targeting transgender people.

That same year, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear won reelection despite vetoing the state’s gender-affirming care ban; he won by an even larger margin than in his initial election, despite significant funding for anti-trans ads.

Similar victories for those supporting transgender people occurred in elections where transgender issues were a major focus, including the Virginia legislature elections, the Arizona Governor’s race, the Michigan legislature elections, the Wisconsin Supreme Court election, the Walker-Warnock Senate race, and dozens more.

All of these races were significantly influenced by anti-trans political expenditures and narratives; Democrats were victorious in each of these contests.

Going into 2024, a number of elections will feature similar dynamics. With over 1,000 anti-LGBTQ+ policies pushed in the last two years, many legislators will face their first election since passing anti-transgender legislation.

Perhaps sensing voter sentiment, several state legislatures, including those in GeorgiaWest Virginia, and Florida, have pulled back on targeting LGBTQ+ people this year, with bills failing to pass. Similarly, ballot initiatives were rejected in California and Arizona, highlighting Republicans’ wavering commitment to these policies.

Nevertheless, major Republican candidates, including Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, have issued strong statements of intent to target transgender people if they win, suggesting the issue could be pivotal in 2024 election campaigns. If this poll is correct, focusing on such issues could harm candidates who prioritize targeting transgender people.

You can view the poll report here as well as the toplines.

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

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.

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

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

Continue Reading

Political commentary & analysis

The What-ifs are setting in: Harris, Eastman & Trumpish retribution

Now it’s rapist/convicted felon/wanna-be dictator Donald Trump’s MAGA cult salivating to erase #LGBTQIA people

Published

on

Vice President Kamala Harris greeting LGBTQ+ supporters at LAX on June 1, 2024. (Washington Blade photo by Jono Madison/Jono Photography)

By Karen Ocamb | WEST HOLLYWOOD – “Freedom, the concept of freedom, has always been an undergird of the movement for LGBTQ equality and rights,” Vice President Kamala Harris told Los Angeles Blade White House Correspondent Chris Kane in an exclusive interview about the November election.

Some of us remember the Gay Liberation movement, the hard fights for our freedom and full equality and the heart-breaking losses to hate crimes, AIDS, overdoses and suicides. Now it’s rapist/convicted felon/wanna-be dictator Donald Trump’s MAGA cult salivating to erase #lgbtqia people as a line item on God and Trump’s retribution list for defiantly existing in the first place.

LGBTQ ally Kamala Harris is surely high up on that retribution list, as well. As Chris Kane points out, “America’s first woman, first Black, and first South Asian vice president, Harris, 59, has broken barriers throughout her career in public service, beginning with her election as San Francisco district attorney in 2003, and then as California attorney general in 2010 and U.S. senator for California in 2016. Harris has also been credited with playing a major role in the establishment and expansion of rights and protections for LGBTQ communities at the local, state, and federal levels over the past two decades.”

But Harris really hasn’t been given much credit for her courage. Over the decades, Harris — who was born in Oakland in 1964 to immigrant parents — has exhibited a smart, determined commitment to the civil rights struggle, even as she is constantly attacked by dangerous creeps like former law professor John Eastman. LGBTQ people know Eastman well as Chair of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which passed California’s anti-gay marriage initiative #Prop8 in coalition with leaders of the crazed “spiritual warfare” movement. As Attorney General, Harris refused to defend Prop 8 in court.

After Biden picked Harris as his Vice- Presidential running mate, Eastman wrote a hostile op-ed in Newsweek that critics compared to “Birtherism,” the fake racist “natural born citizen” conspiracy theory Trump advanced against Barack Obama.

Trump defended Eastman. In an Aug. 18, 2020 story, The Intercept noted that “Trump called birthright citizenship ‘ridiculous’” in a 2018 interview with Axios. “[Trump] also said that an executive order was in the process of being drafted” to strip citizenship “from people like Harris.”

The Intercept reported that Trump “called the question Eastman raised about Harris’s citizenship at birth ‘very serious’ and a potential ‘problem’ for her. He also praised the fringe legal theorist” as “a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer” and “a brilliant lawyer.”

Eastman provided the theory for overturning the Biden/Harris 2020 election victory, reportedly trying to convince Vice President Mike Pence (incorrectly) that he had authority to not certify the Electoral College vote. After an impassioned introduction by Trump lawyer Rudi Guiliani on Jan. 6, Eastman spouted nonsense about decertification at the March to Save America rally: “This is bigger than President Trump! It is the very essence of our republican form of government, and it has to be done!” After Trump spoke, the Stop the Steal protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol building.

Eastman has since been disbarred in California, criminally indicted in the now-delayed Georgia election racketeering case, and a co-conspirator in the (delayed) federal 2020 election interference case against Trump.

But Eastman’s already implanted seeds in MAGA minds about the fringe independent state legislature (ISL) theory whereby state legislatures determine laws regulating federal elections. Democracy Docket explained in a July 11, 2023 story that the Supreme Court rejected the ISL theory but that may not deter MAGAs who prefer electoral chaos.

If Trump wins, Eastman may well seek retribution — perhaps even against Kamala Harris. In 2010, Eastman ran for California Attorney General but lost to LA District Attorney Steve Cooley in the Republican Primary. Three nail-biting weeks after Election Night, Cooley finally conceded to Democrat Harris.

Did Eastman and his campaign manager Jeff Flint – of Schubert and Flint Public Affairs/Prop 8 infamy – think they could have defeated their Prop 8 foe in 2010? Might Eastman want to “lock her up?”

related

There’s another pall being ignored: the fear that some progressives may decide that the Biden/Harris team is not progressive enough.

What if the campaign found unlikely surrogates to offer contrary evidence? Longtime San Francisco deputy public defender Niki Solis, for instance, an LGBTQ mom of two, wrote a piece on Aug 10, 2010 for USA Today headlined “I worked with Kamala Harris. She was the most progressive DA in California.” The subhead was: “I grappled with this idea of defending a former prosecutor for a long time, but I have to say what I feel is right to set the record straight on Harris.”

Two years later, I interviewed Attorney General Kamala Harris at LA Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa’s Pride Party with the Traipsing Thru Films lesbian crew, Renee Sotile & @Mary jo Godges. See for yourself. Kamala HarrisBiden/Harris 2024Geoff KorsRick Chavez ZburChad Hunter GriffinHuman Rights CampaignEquality CaliforniaBiden-Harris HQ

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

Karen Ocamb is the former news editor of the Los Angeles Blade. She is an award-winning journalist who, upon graduating from Skidmore College, started her professional career at CBS News in New York.

Ocamb started in LGBTQ+ media in the late 1980s after more than 100 friends died from AIDS. She covered the spectrum of the LGBTQ+ movement for equality until June 2020, including pressing for LGBTQ+ data collection during the COVID pandemic.

Since leaving the LA Blade Ocamb continues to advocate for civil rights and social, economic, and racial justice issues.

She lives in West Hollywood, California with her rescue dog Pepper.

Continue Reading

Popular