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Obama touts gay rights in U.N. speech

Speech marks first time U.S. President addresses gay rights before General Assembly

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President Obama (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

President Obama emphasized the importance of gay rights Wednesday during a speech at the United Nations largely devoted to anti-terrorism and global development issues.

In his speech before the 193-member U.N. General Assembly, Obama included a mention of gay rights in a portion of his speech dedicated to human rights issues.

“No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere,” Obama said.

It’s the first time that a sitting U.S. president has mentioned gay rights in a speech before the full U.N. General Assembly.

Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, praised President Obama for including gay rights in his speech.

“The remarks were historic,” Bromley said. “Never before has a sitting U.S. President spoken so clearly about LGBT rights in a formal address to the full General Assembly. It shows how far we have come.”

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Jeri Hughes

    September 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    i love the POTUS. we have never had such an ally. to his detractors within our community… shame.

  2. stanJames

    September 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    One of hte things we need is international help re gay equality. From what I read, the reason W, Europe has marriage or CUs in every nation except Italy and greece is that the European courts and the Eurozone require members to have equality under their laws.

    the UN may be seen as tooth less, but getting its support is just another step in progress around the world

  3. Holly Williams

    September 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Obama needs to be voted out in the next elections. He is promoting things like gay “marriage” and stuff which needs to be discouraged instead of promoted.

    • Lucy

      September 22, 2011 at 10:39 am

      Well, that’s your opinion, but as a gay teen I’m frankly thankful that Obama mentioned gay marriage. I want to be able to get married when I get older. My love doesn’t threaten your love, and my marriage won’t affect your marriage. Or, you know, “marriage”.

      • Samuel

        September 23, 2011 at 11:12 am

        I’m also a gay teen. I’d love to be able to marry the person I love when I get older, too. Really, it’s nonsensical that two people who love each other shouldn’t be able to marry. People really need to wake up and understand that people, gay or straight, don’t choose their sexual orientation, and therefore don’t choose which gender they fall in love with.

    • kanezona

      September 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      What we need is to vote bigoted hate-mongering people like yourself out of this country!

      • gaeboi

        September 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

        Amen!

    • kanezona

      September 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm

      It’s called gay “marriage” is called “progress”, sister! Join the bandwagon or get the hell out and go move to your own hate-filled island somewhere far, far away….

    • gaeboi

      September 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      Oh darling, you’re retarded. He’s talking about human rights, he didn’t say anything about gay marriage because he’s on the fence with that. But you know human rights does include intolerance to hate crimes, such as those based upo racism and homophobia. Wow, no wonder our country is backwards. People like you vote and allow your ignorance to impede the clear judgment of those more influential. Please shut up until you deduce properly next time.

    • Kyle

      September 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      F*** ***! Everyone has the right to love who they love. Love is love no matter who it is. If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married! Its that simple. It wont start a third world war it wont make heterosexuals gay and it wont make your children gay, the only thing that will happen will be that gay people will get married.

  4. Straight, Canadian Woman

    September 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Thank sweet baby Jesus for people like Holly discourage union between two individuals who love each other. We should leave it to the straight Americans – they really know how a marriage works. With 50% of their unions failing and 1/3 having extra-marital affairs – I would be ashamed to be under the same category as them. Holly were you encouraged to be straight? Or did it come naturally? Hate to be the one to drag you into our century – but sexual orientation is not a choice.

    • McLovin

      September 23, 2011 at 9:26 am

      Im Not Completely Sure If Your Supporting Gay Marriage But In Reality Gay Marriage Works Out Better Than Straight Marriages.. [censored]

    • Another guy in ftl

      September 23, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      And thank God for people like you “straight Canadian woman”. I think it’s ridiculous that people in this day and age can still even think about, not just telling other people how to live their lives but to go as far as to voice their ignorant opinions and try and deny people their rights just because of what gender they are inevitably drawn to…… To these people I say, “get a life!”. Surely there must be something more important going on in your own little world that can occupy all this free time of yours! To each his own, gay people don’t lobby/protest to deny you of your rights so what are you really getting out of harming other people? And if the Christian agenda is your angle then let me put it to you like this, in the end do you think that God is going to praise you for being mean-spirited to another human being, or is he going to judge you with the same malice you showed them?

  5. A A

    September 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    One may describe Obama’s speech to the U.N. as progress. It is commendable! However, I would like to hear Obama give a speech to these United States of America about “Gay rights dedicated to Human Rights.”

  6. Peter the saint

    September 24, 2011 at 2:08 am

    LGBT people used to trust Bill Clinton. Then came DOMA and DADT. So no, political innuendo is dead, as far as a way to communicate with regular, non-political people who are NOT politicians, and in fact HATE the way they do “business” (which is to screw it up for business owners and investors, whether Dem or GOP). So if you have something to say then just say it. I’m not going to spend my time trying to decipher a meaning that probably won’t be adhered to anyway. You want the world to protect our human rights? Then say that. No equivocation.

  7. Portia Rizzuto

    September 24, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Human rights: One nation under God: Equal Rights to all: especially the right to remain silent when being ignorant … All human beings deserve the right to love and be loved… basic rights- like getting married, raising children, working, paying taxes, sounds like human rights.. not straight rights…

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National

Alarming numbers of Texas Trans kids in crisis over litany of anti-Trans bills

“Under the guise of protecting children- Texas legislators are directly harming thousands of transgender & nonbinary youth”

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LGBTQ youth protest anti-Trans bills at the Texas Capitol building (Photo Credit: Equality Texas)

NEW YORK – The Trevor Project received nearly 4,000 crisis contacts from transgender and nonbinary youth in Texas in 2021, with many directly stating that they are feeling stressed and considering suicide due to anti-trans laws being debated in their state.

This new data comes during a year when Texas lawmakers have proposed nearly 70 anti-LGBTQ bills, including more than 40 bills that specifically target transgender and nonbinary youth — far more than any other state.

The Texas State Senate passed its anti-trans sports ban SB3 this week, and the companion bill HB10 is now moving forward in the Texas House. 

Republican Texas Governor Abbott has prioritized SB 3 and called for a third consecutive special session of the legislature to consider this bill, which would ban transgender student-athletes from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

“The Trevor Project’s crisis counselors have been hearing from transgender and nonbinary youth in Texas who are scared and worried about anti-trans laws being debated in their state — and some have even expressed suicidal thoughts. This is a crisis. We urge Texas lawmakers to consider the weight of their words and actions — and to reject HB10/SB3,” said Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project.

  • Between January 1 and August 30, 2021, The Trevor Project received more than 10,800 crisis contacts (calls, texts, and chats) from LGBTQ young people in Texas looking for support. More than 3,900 of those crisis contacts (36%) came from transgender or nonbinary youth.
  • Crisis contacts from LGBTQ young people in Texas seeking support have grown over 150% when compared to the same time period in 2020.
  • While this volume of crisis contacts can not be attributed to any one factor (or bill), a qualitative analysis of the crisis contacts found that:
  • Transgender and nonbinary youth in Texas have directly stated that they are feeling stressed, using self-harm, and considering suicide due to anti-LGBTQ laws being debated in their state.
  • Some transgender and nonbinary youth have expressed fear over losing access to sports that provide important acceptance in their lives.

“As a transgender young person in Texas, this new data from the Trevor Project is not surprising, but it’s nonetheless harrowing and alarming to see this representation of the detrimental impact Texas Lege is having on our community — especially our kids. Lawmakers and proponents of bills like SB3 and HB10 should be alarmed by these statistics, too,” Landon Richie a Trans youth activist and GenderCool Youth Leader from Houston told the Los Angeles Blade.

“Under the guise of protecting children and promoting fairness, Texas legislators are directly harming thousands of transgender and nonbinary youth, denying them the dignity, respect, and childhoods that they deserve. It’s never an exaggeration to say that the passage — and merely debate — of these bills will cost lives,”  Richie added.

National mental health organizations like The Trevor Project and state LGBTQ equality groups including Equality Texas and Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) are raising concerns about the impact of such legislation on the mental health and wellbeing of transgender and nonbinary youth.

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than half (52%) of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year and 1 in 5 attempted suicide. Further, Trevor released a new research brief earlier this month on LGBTQ youth participation in sports, which found that a majority of LGBTQ young people (nearly 66%) do not actively participate in sports — with many citing fear of bullying and discrimination as a key factor for not participating.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678. 

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2nd largest school district in Utah bans Pride & BLM flags as ‘too political’

“We have to have a politically neutral classroom, and we’re going to educate the students in the best possible way that we can”

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Davis School District Offices in Farmington Utah (Photo Credit: Davis School District)

FARMINGTON, Ut. – Administrators this week in the Davis School District, which is Utah’s 2nd largest school district with 72,987 students, banned LGBTQ Pride and Black Lives Matter flags, saying they are ‘politically charged.’

According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, Davis Schools spokesperson Chris Williams told the paper; “No flags fly in our schools except for the flag of the United States of America.” Williams later walked that statement back adding a clarification that some of the Districts schools have flags from sports team or international countries which are considered “unrelated to politics.”

“What we’re doing is we’re following state law,” said Williams. “State law says that we have to have a classroom that’s politically neutral.”

Amanda Darrow, Director of Youth, Family, and Education at the Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake City, told multiple media outlets the school district is “politicizing the rainbow flag” which doesn’t belong on a political list.

“That flag for us is so much more,” said Darrow. “It is just telling us we’re included in the schools, we are being seen in the schools, and we belong in these schools.”

KUTV CBS2 News in Salt Lake City checked with the Utah State Board of Education. In an email, spokesman Mark Peterson said, “There is nothing in code that specifically defines a rainbow flag as a political statement so it would be up to district or charter school policies to make that determination.”

The local Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union also weighed in saying in a statement;

Whether or not a school district has the legal ability to ban inclusive and supportive symbols from classrooms, it is bad policy for them to do so,” the advocacy organization said in a statement. “Utah schools have an obligation to ensure that all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identify, feel welcome inside a classroom. We urge school administrators and teachers to adopt policies that make all students feel safe and included.”

Williams insisted the policy is not meant to exclude anyone and that all students are loved and welcomed – they just want to keep politics out of school he told the Tribune and KUTV.

“We have to have a politically neutral classroom, and we’re going to educate the students in the best possible way that we can,” said Williams.

A Utah based veteran freelance journalist, writer, editor, and food photographer weighed in on Twitter highlighting the negative impact of the Davis Schools decision on its LGBTQ youth.

Davis County School District bans LGTBQ and BLM flags as ‘too political’

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Non-binary person reports assault by Proud Boys near Portland

‘They nearly killed me’

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Juniper Simonis (Photo by Mariah Harris)

It was a typical day for Juniper Simonis. The freelance ecologist decided to break from work for lunch at about 3 p.m. to take their service dog, Wallace, to the local dog park and grab a bite to eat.  

But a planned peaceful afternoon quickly turned ugly. Simonis says they survived a gang assault of about 30 perpetrators in Gresham, Ore., a suburb outside of Portland. The Oregon resident encountered the group for only minutes but suffered a concussion, sprained jaw, extensive car damage and verbal assaults, they said. 

“They nearly killed me,” they said.

Simonis said they turned into a parking lot to pick up lunch in Gresham, Ore., and stumbled upon a rally that included several members of the Proud Boys — a far-right, ultra-nationalist organization known for its anti-LGBTQ, anti-feminism and neo-fascist ideologies. 

There was a “Flag Ride” right-wing rally in a parking lot earlier that day. Simonis was under the impression the event had ended after checking reports on Twitter. After pulling into the lot, originally to look for lunch options, Simonis saw a large gathering still in the lot. 

Simonis decided to take pictures of what was happening to post online to warn others and was intentional in keeping their distance, they said. As Simonis was preparing to leave the area, they yelled from inside the car, “Fuck you, fascists, go home.” 

“I did not expect this to escalate into violence,” they said. 

The attack itself only lasted about three minutes, Simonis said. Simonis was quickly surrounded by several people and physically blocked from leaving the lot. People stepped in front of the parking lot exit, then a car was moved to barricade Simonis. People began to shout homophobic slurs at Simonis, they said. 

“I’m in serious trouble now and I know it,” they said. 

Simonis was then punched while inside their vehicle and was briefly knocked out. They regained consciousness a few seconds later, and a cinder block was thrown at the car and shattered the back window of their car inches away from their service dog, Wallace. 

Simonis got out of the car to assess the damage and make sure their service dog was safe. They quickly got back in their car and was able to leave the lot by maneuvering around the blocked exit, Simonis said. 

Wallace, Juniper Simonis’ service dog. (Photo by Mariah Harris)

Looking back at the photos and videos Simonis took before the assault, Simonis said they saw people looking into the camera and acknowledging them taking photos. 

“I honestly don’t know if I hadn’t said anything, that … things would have gone any different,” they said. 

Last year, Simonis was targeted and arrested by federal police in Portland during the tumultuous Black Lives Matter protests in the city. They were denied medical attention, misgendered, jumped and aggressively handcuffed while taken into custody. 

Simonis is still working through legal proceedings in a multi-plaintiff lawsuit. 

A witness to the event called the Gresham Police Department, which was only a few blocks away from the incident. But the call went to voicemail and the witness did not leave a message, Simonis said. 

Another witness called 911, Simonis said, which led to an officer calling Simonis about 45 minutes after the accident to take a report.   

In the police report obtained by the Blade, Simonis is consistently misgendered. Simonis’ sex is also listed as “unknown” in the report. The incident was labeled as vehicle vandalism. 

Simonis said the conversation with the officer was filled with victim-blaming and the officer wrote in the report that Simonis should avoid “approaching groups of this nature.”  

“At no point in this conversation does he treat me as an actual victim of a crime,” Simonis said.

The Gresham Police Department did not respond to a request for comment. 

Weeks after the assault, Simonis is struggling mentally and physically, they said. 

The concussion makes working on a computer virtually impossible because of light sensitivity and trouble focusing, Simonis said. The pain caused by the sprained jaw makes it difficult to focus, as well. 

Simonis is not able to begin physical therapy for their jaw until November because of long medical wait times, they said. The cost to repair the car damages will be about $8,000, as well, they said.  

The times where Simonis is able to focus are usually taken up by piecing together what happened that day, they said. 

“The part of my brain that I use for work has been hijacked functionally by the part of the brain that needed to know what happened to me,” they said. “There is such a painful need to understand what happened to me.”

Because of past traumatic events, like the experience of being in federal custody last year, Simonis said processing and living with the trauma is a bit easier to handle. But their ability to work will be forever changed yet again, they said. 

“I’m not able to work at the pace that I used to work at before I was assaulted by DHS. I’ll never be,” they said. “And this is just a further knockdown.” 

The trauma of the event has increased Simonis’ hyper-vigilance, as well. 

“Every time I hear a car go by, I’m double-checking,” they said. 

Even though Simonis has the tools to process and live with the immense trauma, they will never be the same person, they said. 

“They fucking changed my life forever. Point blank,” they said. “Not just mentally, but physically and physiologically. I can’t go back to where I was before. I’m lucky that I survived.”

Simonis has reported the attack to the FBI and is pursuing legal action with two specific goals in mind: to heal and to prevent similar crimes from happening.

“I am somebody who believes in abolishing the carceral system and the justice system as it exists and policing,” Simonis said. “But also a 37-year-old trans and disabled person who somehow managed to survive this long. And so naturally has become pragmatic about the world.”

Because of the reaction of the Gresham Police Department, Simonis did not want to work with local officers and instead went to the federal level. But because of the alleged assault by agents in Portland last year, this decision wasn’t easy for them.

Perpetrators in the assault threatened to call the police on Simonis,  even though Simonis did not commit a crime. Reporting the crime to the federal level is also a layer of protection, they said. 

“All of this is forcing my hand,” they said. There is no easy decision in the situation, they added. 

“We all know that crimes are underreported. We hear about it all the time,” they said. And there are reasons why people don’t report crimes and they’re totally understandable. A lot of victims are very concerned about what will happen if they break anonymity. In my situation, I’ve already broken anonymity.”

With recent arrests and crackdowns on the Proud Boys and other hate groups in the United States, Simonis is bracing for a long process. 

“This isn’t just going to go on a shelf,” they said. 

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