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Gay Calif. mayor seeks U.S. House seat

GOP candidate would be first member of Congress in same-sex marriage

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Mike Gin (right) and his spouse Christopher Kreidel (Photo courtesy Gin for Congress)

A gay Republican from California could become the first person in a same-sex marriage elected to Congress if he wins a U.S. House seat in an upcoming special election.

Mike Gin, who’s served as mayor of Redondo Beach, Calif., since 2005, said economic and education issues would be his priorities if elected to Congress, but he would welcome any benefit that his visibility as a gay member of Congress in a same-sex marriage would impart to LGBT youth.

“Certainly, we all need role models, and being gay and being married is just a part of who I am,” Gin said. “If somehow my election would provide some inspiration or maybe help a young person that’s very conflicted about being gay, then I think that’s a wonderful thing.”

Gin, 48, married his spouse, Christopher Kreidel, 50, an animator, at the Redondo Beach Historic “Morrell House” three days before Proposition 8 passed in California, eliminating same-sex marriage rights in the state. The couple has been together 16 years.

The California mayor is pursuing a U.S. House seat to represent California’s 36th congressional district, which was vacated when former Rep. Jane Harman left Congress to become head of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

In what is likely to be a difficult race for Gin, an all-party primary is set for May 17. If no candidate wins a majority, the two candidates who receive the most votes, regardless of party, will participate in a run-off election on July 12 to determine who will represent the district in the U.S. House.

If elected, Gin would become the fifth sitting openly gay member of Congress, joining Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.). Gin would also be the first openly gay Republican to serve in Congress since former Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe retired in 2007.

“I look at it just simply as part of who I am,” Gin said. “I’ve been very fortunate to be very open in my community and people have always treated me with tremendous respect and, even though they might agree with me on what they might consider to be a lifestyle, or the particular political positions that I have, I have always been very fortunate in being treated with a great amount of respect.”

Job creation would be the top priority for Gin. To stimulate the economy, Gin said Congress should sustain community block grants funds as well as the Workforce Investment Act, a 1998 law signed by then-President Clinton that created regional Workforce Investment Boards throughout the country to entice business. Gin said House Republicans had proposed to defund the law, but he wants it to continue.

“I view the budget not as a slash-and-burn approach as I think I’ve seen, especially over the past few months,” Gin said. “The Workforce Investment Act has created jobs, particularly in aerospace, and helped us sustain jobs here in the community.”

Another important issue for Gin is investment in education — particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A former computer technician for the aerospace and defense industries, Gin said science education forms the foundation of the talent needed in his district for the advanced technical industries and he wants to see federal education grants in these areas.

“We need more young people to get excited about careers in science, engineering and mathematics in order to sustain that base of talent that we need here in our local industries,” Gin said.

Gin’s emphasis on economic issues in his campaign is part of the reason he won an endorsement in his race from the Log Cabin Republicans.

R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin’s executive director, said Gin has already proven he’s an effective leader in the course of the time he’s been a public servant.

“It says a lot that Redondo Beach is one of California’s few debt-free cities under his leadership, and that Mike was able to raise more than $100,000 in the first three days of his campaign,” Cooper said. “He is ready and able to join the GOP majority in Congress fighting to create jobs and turn this economy around, and Log Cabin Republicans will work to send him to Washington this summer.”

Gin has also won the endorsement of 10 current or former mayors in the South Bay of California and the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Although he’s emphasizing economic issues, Gin said LGBT issues would also be on his agenda if elected to the House. Gin said upon taking his House seat he’d join the LGBT Equality Caucus, which is chaired by the openly gay members of Congress.

“To me, that’s really a non-issue because I strongly believe in the rights affecting our community and legislation affecting our community because it affects my family as well,” Gin said.

Among the bills that Gin said he’s support are the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would bar job discrimination against LGBT people, and the Uniting American Families Act, which would allow gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States, as well as legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Gin also said he’d oppose a measure pending before the House that could disrupt the process for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal by expanding the certification requirement to include the four military service chiefs. In December, President Obama signed legislation allowing for an end to the military’s gay ban, but only after he, the defense secretary and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify the U.S. military is ready.

“Certainly, the [chair of the] Joint Chief [of Staff] represents all the service chiefs throughout our nation’s armed forces — and with the secretary of defense and the president, the commander-in-chief in particular — I believe those are the three appropriate people that need to certify and would be very competent and knowledgeable about certifying the readiness of our troops,” Gin said.

Mike Gin (photo courtesy Gin for Congress)

Gin’s work as an LGBT advocate has been limited, although he was involved in the fight against Prop 8 in 2008 by taking part and contributing money to a coalition of Republicans that were against the initiative. In 2000, Gin said he was also against Prop 22, which made a ban on same-sex marriage part of the state law.

“Those are issues that I’ve come out in front of because, again, it affects my family as well,” Gin said. “I don’t consider myself an activist, but I’ve certainly been an advocate for legislation that affects our community. Being an out mayor has allowed me to have that voice.”

In the course of his run for Congress, Gin said he hasn’t encountered any anti-gay campaign tactics from his opponents. Still, he said he has endured attacks on his sexual orientation in his previous runs for office as mayor.

“There was a very ultra-conservative social conservative group here in California called the California Republican Assembly, which did an independent expenditure campaign flier against me — a very subtle way with issues regarding the gay agenda,” Gin said. “Very frankly, many people in my community were put off by it, and I believe that actually backfired on them and helped me gain greater support for my election as mayor in 2005.”

Even though upon taking his House seat, Gin would be voting for Republican leadership and joining the Republican caucus — which most Capitol Hill observers agree wouldn’t be willing to advance pro-LGBT legislation — the California mayor said his presence among GOP lawmakers could change minds.

“I would not hesitate at all to tell them my personal story and how this type of legislation affects my family and many families throughout our nation to bring the conversation back to really what I feel Republicanism is about and how it started,” Gin said. “That’s how hearts and minds can change. Whether or not it will happen, I don’t know.”

Gin expressed mixed feelings about House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) decision to take up legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act now that the Obama administration has declared it would no longer litigate on behalf of the statute. Gin said he’s personally against DOMA, but sees advantages to Boehner’s action.

“If you look at it from a constitutional level, sometimes the case, the judicial case, can be strengthened if you have some sort of opposition that’s mounted,” Gin said. “From a personal level, I don’t like the fact that that’s occurring, but also, the silver lining, if it occurs, is that clearly, I think, the courts have been in favor of us to this point. The very strong record should be built that further strengthens our case, if, in fact, counsel is appointed.”

Gin faces an uphill battle in his pursuit of a U.S. House seat as he runs in a Democratic district where two high-profile Democratic candidates are in the running: California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Los Angeles City Council member Janice Hahn.

Recent polls released from the campaigns of the Democratic challengers indicate the race is neck-and-neck between Bowen and Hahn — with Gin following behind. According to an internal poll published last month by the Bowen campaign, Bowen and Hahn are tied at 20 percent in the race while Gin comes in at 8 percent.

Additionally, Bowen and Hahn are better funded than Gin. According to most recent Federal Election Commission reports, Bowen has raised $195,000 and has $93,000 in cash on hand, while Hahn has raised $275,000 and has $171,000 in cash on hand. Meanwhile, Gin has raised $77,000 and has $42,000 in cash on hand.

At the same time, California’s state equality organization last month threw its support behind Bowen in the race. Jim Carroll, interim executive director for Equality California, cited Bowen’s long-term commitment to the LGBT community in the announcement of the endorsement’s from his organization’s political action committee.

“Equality California PAC only endorses candidates who support full equality for the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and Debra Bowen has a long track record of standing with our community when we’ve needed her most,” Carroll said. “We are confident that she will remain a vocal champion for equality in Congress and a committed leader that all Californians can count on.”

Gin said he’s pursuing an endorsement from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Denis Dison, a Victory Fund spokesperson, said he couldn’t comment on candidates that his organization has yet to endorse. The Victory Fund has endorsed Gin in his previous runs for political office as mayor of Redondo Beach.

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State Department

State Department hosts intersex activists from around the world

Group met with policy makers, health officials, NGOs

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The State Department last week hosted a group of intersex activists from around the world. (Courtesy photo)

The State Department last week hosted five intersex activists from around the world.

Kimberly Zieselman, a prominent intersex activist who advises Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ and intersex rights abroad, brought the activists to D.C.

• Morgan Carpenter, co-founder and executive director of Intersex Human Rights Australia

• Natasha Jiménez, an intersex activist from Costa Rica who is the general coordinator of Mulabi, the Latin American Space for Sexualities and Rights

• Julius Kaggwa, founder of the Support Initiative for People with Atypical Sex Development Uganda

• Magda Rakita, co-founder and executive director of Fujdacja Interakcja in Poland and co-founder of Interconnected UK

• Esan Regmi, co-founder and executive director of the Campaign for Change in Nepal.

Special U.S. Envoy for Global Youth Issues Abby Finkenauer and Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine are among the officials with whom the activists met.

Zieselman told the Washington Blade on Sept. 21 the activists offered State Department officials an “intersex 101” overview during a virtual briefing.

More than 60 Save the Children staffers from around the world participated in another virtual briefing. Zieselman noted the activists also met with Stern, U.N. and Organization of American States officials, funders and NGO representatives while in D.C.

“The people we met were genuinely interested,” Rakita told the Blade.

Stern in an exclusive statement to the Blade said “the visiting intersex activists clearly had an impact here at State, sharing their expertise and lived experience highlighting the urgency to end human rights abuses, including those involving harmful medical practices against intersex persons globally.” Andrew Gleason, senior director for gender equality and social justice at Save the Children US, in a LinkedIn post he wrote after attending his organization’s meeting with the activists echoed Stern.

“There are many learnings to recount from today’s discussion, but one thing is clear, this is unequivocally a child rights issue, and one that demands attention and action at the intersection of LGBTQI+ rights, reproductive rights and justice, disability justice and more,” wrote Gleason. “Gratitude to the panelists for sharing such poignant testimonies and providing insights into what organizations like ours can do to contribute to the broader intersex movement; and thank you to Kimberly for your leadership and bringing this group together.”

The activists’ trip to D.C. coincided with efforts to end so-called sex “normalization” surgeries on intersex children.

Greek lawmakers in July passed a law that bans such procedures on children under 15 unless they offer their consent or a court allows them to happen. Doctors who violate the statute face fines and prison.

Germany Iceland, Malta, Portugal and Spain have also enacted laws that seek to protect intersex youth. 

A law that grants equal rights and legal recognition to intersex people in Kenya took effect in July 2022. Lawmakers in the Australian Capital Territory earlier this year passed the Variation in Sex Characteristics (Restricted Medical Treatment) Bill 2023.

Intersex Human Rights Australia notes the law implements “mechanisms to regulate non-urgent medical care to encourage child participation in medical decisions, establish groundbreaking oversight mechanisms and provide transparency on medical practices and decision making.” It further points out the statute “will criminalize some deferrable procedures that permanently alter the sex characteristics of children” and provides “funding for necessary psychosocial supports for families and children.”

“It’s amazing,” Carpenter told the Blade when discussing the law and resistance to it. “It’s not perfect. There was some big gaps, but physicians are resisting every step of the way.”

The State Department in April 2022 began to issue passports with an “X” gender marker.

Dana Zzyym, an intersex U.S. Navy veteran who identifies as non-binary, in 2015 filed a federal lawsuit against the State Department after it denied their application for a passport with an “X” gender marker. Zzyym in October 2021 received the first gender-neutral American passport.

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Federal Government

Federal government prepares for looming shutdown

White House warns of ‘damaging impacts across the country’

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U.S. Capitol Building (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

However remote they were on Monday, odds of avoiding a government shutdown were narrowed by Thursday evening as House Republicans continued debate over their hyper-partisan appropriations bills that stand no chance of passage by the Upper Chamber.

As lawmakers in the Democratic controlled Senate forged ahead with a bipartisan stop-gap spending measure that House GOP leadership had vowed to reject, the federal government began bracing for operations to grind to a halt on October 1.

This would mean hundreds of thousands of workers are furloughed as more than 100 agencies from the State Department to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation roll out contingency plans maintained by the White House Office of Management and Budget. On Thursday the Office of Personnel Management sent out memos to all agencies instructing them to ready for a shutdown on Sunday.

Before 1980, operations would continue per usual in cases where Congress failed to break an impasse over spending, as lapses in funding tended to last only a few days before lawmakers brokered a deal.

Since then, the government has shut down more than a dozen times and the duration has tended to become longer and longer.

“Across the United States, local news outlets are reporting on the harmful impacts a potential government shutdown would have on American families,” the White House wrote in a release on Thursday featuring a roundup of reporting on how the public might be affected.

“With just days left before the end of the fiscal year, extreme House Republicans are playing partisan games with peoples’ lives and marching our country toward a government shutdown that would have damaging impacts across the country,” the White House said.

The nature and extent of that damage will depend on factors including how long the impasse lasts, but the Biden-Harris administration has warned of some consequences the American public is likely to face.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, for example, warned: “There is no good time for a government shutdown, but this is a particularly bad time for a government shutdown, especially when it comes to transportation.”

Amid the shortage of air traffic controllers and efforts to modernize aviation technology to mitigate flight delays and cancellations, a government shutdown threatens to “make air travel even worse,” as Business Insider wrote in a headline Thursday.

Democratic lawmakers including California Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, meanwhile, have sounded the alarm in recent weeks over the consequences for the global fight against AIDS amid the looming expiration, on Oct. 1, of funding for PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

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Federal Government

QAnon follower pleads guilty to threatening member of Congress

Conspiracy movement claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rule the world

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QAnon banner at a pro-gun rally in Richmond, Va., in 2020. (YouTube screenshot from Anthony Crider)

A New Mexico man has entered a plea deal after being charged with a federal criminal complaint of making threats through interstate communications directed at a member of Congress.

Federal prosecutors charged Michael David Fox, a resident of Doña Ana County, for calling the Houston district office of an unnamed member of Congress on or about May 18, 2023, and uttering threats that included knowingly threatening to kill an active member of Congress.

The plea agreement was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Damian L. Martinez of U.S. District Court in New Mexico in the Las Cruces by Fox’s attorney from the Federal Public Defender’s Office in August.

According to the criminal complaint as outlined by a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal investigator for the Albuquerque Field Office, Las Cruces Resident Agency, on May 18 at approximately 9:04 p.m. Fox called the office of a congresswoman for the District of Texas, U.S. House of Representatives (Victim One/”V1″), who is from Houston. The call was received by V1’s office.

In the phone call Fox stated “Hey [Vl], you’re a man. It’s official. You’re literally a tranny and a pedophile, and I’m going to put a bullet in your fucking face. You mother fucking satanic cock smoking son of a whore. You understand me you fucker?” 

Law enforcement was able to trace the call back to Las Cruces, N.M., and it was believed that Fox was the user of cell phone account used to make the call. According to the FBI agents who interviewed Fox, he admitted to making the call.

Fox acknowledged that the threat was direct but claimed that he did not own any guns. Fox
claimed to be a member of the Q2 Truth Movement, the Q Movement. Fox explained these
movements believe all over the world there were transgender individuals running
governments, kingdoms and corporations. 

Fox told the FBI that there is a plan called “Q the Plan to Save the World” which he learned about from an online video. Fox claimed that he believed Q was going to engage in the “eradication” of the people who were causing all the world’s misery. He believed that part of the eradication had already happened.

Fox explained that he had run Vl’s skull features through forensic analysis and determined
that Vl was born male and is now trans. Fox discussed his military service with the
U.S. Air Force, “Q the Plan to Save the World,” and how God communicates using
numbers. 

Fox continued to reiterate several different types of conspiracy theories indicating
extreme far right ideologies as his explanation for why he conducted the phone call to
threaten V1.

According to the FBI, Fox rescinded his threat against Vl and apologized. Fox claimed he was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when he made the call. Fox stated he understood how Vl would feel threatened by his phone call, and he acknowledged that anyone he knew or cared about would also be concerned with such a threat.

The charge of interstate threatening communications carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

QAnon began in 2017, when a mysterious figure named “Q” started posting on the online message board 4chan, claiming to have inside access to government secrets. Since then, QAnon has grown into a conspiracy movement that claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rule the world. It is claimed by QAnon adherents that former President Donald Trump is the only person who can defeat them. 

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based journalist Ana Valens, a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship and sex workers’ rights noted that Fox appears to be a “transvestigator.” Valens noted that the transvestigation conspiracy theory is a fringe movement within QAnon that claims the world is primarily run by trans people. Phrenological analysis is common among transvestigators, with a prominent focus on analyzing celebrities for proof that they are trans.

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