The campaigns for Republican presidential contenders Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Ron Paul have each selected gay Republicans to run with them as candidates for delegate to the Republican National Convention next year in D.C.’s April 3 presidential primary.
Among the gay delegate candidates selected by Huntsman’s D.C. campaign is R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans.
Cooper said he’s backing Huntsman as an individual, not as Log Cabin’s executive director. He said the national Log Cabin group won’t decide whether to endorse a candidate for president until the Republican convention convenes Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla.
“Huntsman is a conservative hero who can unite the broader conservative movement and secure the votes necessary to beat Obama in 2012,” Cooper said. “Further, Huntsman believes in the equality of people born under the same constitution and is a strong Republican voice for the LGBT community.”
Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, says he supports civil unions for gays and lesbians, the only GOP presidential contender to back any form of legal recognition for same-sex couples. He is considered the most LGBT-supportive of the Republicans running for president.
But he trails far behind the other candidates in national polls, leading most political observers to conclude he has little chance of capturing the Republican nomination for president.
The Gingrich campaign selected as D.C. delegate candidates gay Republican activists Marc Morgan and Timothy Day. Both ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for seats on the D.C. City Council and both are members of Log Cabin Republicans of Washington.
The Romney campaign, meanwhile, recruited as a delegate candidate Rachel Hoff, who ran as an out lesbian last year for the presidency of the Young Republican Federation, a national GOP youth group.
Hoff finished in second place in that contest but made a positive impression on party leaders, leading to her selection as a member of the D.C. Republican Committee, according to the DCRC’s gay chair, Robert Kabel.
“I’m pretty pleased that we have openly gay people serving on all of these delegations either as delegates or alternates,” Kabel said. “I think that’s terrific. And the campaigns are all going to know that they are putting gay folks on their delegations.”
Morgan said he decided to support Gingrich knowing that the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives opposes same-sex marriage and has declined to support other LGBT civil rights related bills pending in Congress.
But he said Gingrich met with Log Cabin Republican officials during his tenure as House speaker and has been supportive of what Morgan called “very progressive” AIDS-related proposals in Georgia, where Gingrich’s congressional district was located.
“What made me decide to support him is his pro-growth jobs and prosperity plan,” said Morgan, referring to Gingrich’s call for lowering taxes and overhauling the nation’s tax and government regulatory policies. “That made a lot of sense to me and I definitely support that.”
As of late this week, Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry, the governor of Texas; Michele Bachmann, the congresswoman from Minnesota; and Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, had not filed to run in the D.C. primary. The deadline for filing is Jan. 4.The three have emerged as the most outspoken opponents of LGBT-related issues on the presidential campaign trail.
President Barack Obama’s campaign filed papers last month for Obama to run in the D.C. primary. Under rules established by the D.C. Democratic Party, delegate and alternate delegate candidates pledged to Obama will be selected at a March 3 Democratic caucus on the campus of the University of the District of Columbia. All registered Democrats in D.C. are eligible to vote in the caucus.
As they have in past D.C. presidential election years, many LGBT Democrats are expected to enter their names as delegate candidates at the caucus. In past years, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, has backed a slate of delegate candidates competing in the Democratic caucus.
Similar to the Republicans, Democratic Party rules require that all delegate candidates be approved by the Democratic presidential campaigns – in this case, the Obama campaign, before they can be eligible to run as a delegate candidate in the D.C. caucus.
The national Republican Party has allocated 16 delegates and 16 alternate delegates for D.C. to represent a presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention. The D.C. Republican Party this year chose to put in place a winner-take-all primary, allowing the candidate winning the most votes in the April 3 primary to take all 16 delegates and 16 alternates.
Under rules established for the primary by the D.C. Republican Committee, the names of the delegate and alternate delegate candidates will not appear on the ballot beside the name of the presidential candidate to whom they are pledged to support.
However, according to Paul Craney, a spokesperson for the D.C. Republican Party, a list of the Republican delegate and alternate delegate candidates’ names will be available at the polls for Republican voters to inspect before they cast their ballot.
In addition to Cooper, who is running as an alternate delegate candidate pledged to Huntsman, gay Republican David Black is running as a delegate candidate for Huntsman.
In addition to Hoff, who is running as a delegate candidate pledged to Romney, gay GOP activists Jose Cunningham and David Trebing are running as alternate delegate candidates pledged to Romney.
Gay Republican Terry Tahir is the only known gay person running on the delegate or alternate slate for the campaign of Ron Paul. Tahir is running as a delegate candidate.
Gay Republican sources said several other gays were running as delegate or alternate candidates for Huntsman and Gingrich, but the Blade could not reach them by press time to confirm whether they were out.
Gay man shot to death on NYC subway train
Police say shooting was random and unprovoked
A gay man became the latest victim of a New York City subway shooting on Sunday when police say a male suspect shot Daniel Enriquez, 48, in the chest in an unprovoked random act inside a subway car traveling from Brooklyn to Manhattan.
Police on Tuesday arrested Andrew Abdullah, 25, who they identified as the sole suspect in the shooting, after attorneys representing him from the Legal Aid Society attempted to arrange for his surrender, according to a report by NBC 4 News in New York.
Police said the shooting occurred around 11:42 a.m. while the train was traveling over the Manhattan Bridge. The then unidentified suspect walked off the train and disappeared into a crowd of people when the train stopped at the Canal Street station minutes after Enriquez lay dying on the floor on the train car, police said.
Possibly based on the viewing of images from video surveillance cameras, police sources told the New York Times that investigators identified the suspect as Abdullah whose last known residence was in Manhattan, as a suspect in the fatal shooting. NYPD officials released two photos of Abdullah and appealed to the public for help in finding him.
Adam Pollack, Enriquez’s partner of 18 years, told both the Times and the New York Post that Enriquez took the subway to meet his brother for brunch. According to Pollack, Enriquez previously had taken Ubers into Manhattan, where he worked and socialized, from the couple’s home in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. But in recent weeks the cost of taking an Uber rose dramatically to more than $80 for the round-trip fare, prompting Enriquez to begin taking the subway, Pollack told the Times and Post.
“I don’t love the subway,” the Post quoted Pollack as saying. “I know how dangerous New York is. It took me two years to get back on the subway. I don’t feel safe on the subway,” he said.
The fatal shooting of Enriquez took place six weeks after another gunman identified as Frank R. James began shooting inside a crowded rush-hour subway car in Brooklyn, injuring at least 23 people.
Pollack told the Times his partner was a native New Yorker who worked as a researcher for the Goldman Sachs investment bank in Manhattan. Enriquez was the eldest of five children and a beloved uncle known for taking his nieces and nephews for ice cream in local parks and out to amusement parks when he visited them, Pollack told the Times.
When asked by the Washington Blade if any evidence has surfaced to indicate suspect Abdullah targeted Enriquez because he thought Enriquez was gay, a police public information officer said the investigation into the incident was continuing.
“There’s nothing on that now,” the officer said. “Everything, the motive, and all of that stuff, is part of the investigation and that is still ongoing. So, there’s no comment on that yet.”
The Times reports that court records show Abdullah, who is now in police custody, was charged along with others in 2017 in an 83-count indictment for alleged gang related activity. The following year he pleaded guilty to criminal possession of weapons and other charges in 2018 and was sentenced the following year to a prison term and released on parole several months later.
According to the Times, he faced new gun charges in 2020, was charged in 2021 with assault and endangering a child, and in April of this year was charged with possession of stolen property and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
“We are devastated by this senseless tragedy and our deepest sympathies are with Dan’s family at this difficult time,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said in a statement.
Federal judge blocks White House from ending Title 42
Advocacy groups say policy further endangered LGBTQ asylum seekers
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the Southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the pandemic was to have ended Monday, but it remains in place after a federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s plans to end it.
The White House last month announced it would terminate Title 42, a policy the previous administration implemented in March 2020.
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in Louisiana on May 20 issued a ruling that prevented the Biden administration from terminating the Trump-era policy. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement announced the Justice Department will appeal the decision, while adding the administration “will continue to enforce the CDC’s 2020 Title 42 public health authority pending the appeal.”
“This means that migrants who attempt to enter the United States unlawfully will be subject to expulsion under Title 42, as well as immigration consequences such as removal under Title 8 (of the U.S. Code),” said Jean-Pierre.
Advocacy groups and members of Congress with whom the Washington Blade has spoken since Title 42 took effect say it continues to place LGBTQ asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups who seek refuge in the U.S. at even more risk.
Oluchi Omeoga, co-director of the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, last month described Title 42 as a “racist and harmful policy.” ORAM (Organization of Refuge, Asylum and Migration) Executive Director Steve Roth said Title 42 “put asylum seekers in harm’s way in border towns and prevented them from seeking safety in the United States.”
Title 42 was to have ended less than a month after five members of Congress from California visited two LGBTQ shelters for asylum seekers in the Mexican border city of Tijuana.
The Council for Global Equality, which organized the trip, in a tweet after Summerhays issued his ruling described Title 42 as a “catastrophe.”
“The Biden administration cannot breathe a sign of relief until it’s a matter of the past,” said the Council for Global Equality on Saturday. “We remain committed to end Title 42.”
— The Council for Global Equality (@Global_Equality) May 20, 2022
U.S. Army considers allowing LGBTQ troops to transfer from hostile states
Proposed guidance remains in draft form
A draft policy is circulating among top officials of the U.S. Army that would allow soldiers to be able to request a transfer if they feel state or local laws discriminate against them based on gender, sex, religion, race or pregnancy.
Steve Beynon writing for Military.com reported last week the guidance, which would update a vague service policy to add specific language on discrimination, is far from final and would need approval from Army Secretary Christine Wormuth. But if enacted, it could be one of the most progressive policies for the Army amid a growing wave of local anti-LGBTQ and restrictive contraception laws in conservative-leaning states, where the Army has a majority of its bases and major commands.
“Some states are becoming untenable to live in; there’s a rise in hate crimes and rise in LGBT discrimination,” Lindsay Church, executive director of Minority Veterans of America, an advocacy group, told Military.com. “In order to serve this country, people need to be able to do their job and know their families are safe. All of these states get billions for bases but barely tolerate a lot of the service members.”
This policy tweak to the existing Army regulations pertaining to compassionate reassignment would clarify the current standard rules, which are oft times fairly vague.
A source in the Army told Beynon the new guidance has not yet been fully worked out through the policy planning process or briefed to senior leaders including the Army secretary or the office of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“The Army does not comment on leaked, draft documents,” Angel Tomko, a service spokesperson, told Military.com in an emailed statement. “AR 600-100 and 600-200 establish the criteria for which soldiers may request for a compassionate reassignment. The chain of command is responsible for ensuring soldiers and families’ needs are supported and maintain a high quality of life.”
The Crystal City-based RAND Corporation had published a study on sexual orientation, gender identity and health among active duty servicemembers in 2015 that listed approximate six percent of LGBTQ troops are gay or bisexual and one percent are trans or nonbinary.
A senior analyst for RAND told the Washington Blade on background those numbers are likely much lower than in actuality as 2015 was less than four years after the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and prior to when the Trump administration enacted the trans servicemember ban in 2017, which has had a chilling effect on open service.
The Biden administration repealed the Trump ban.
Another factor is that the current 18-24 year old troops colloquially referred to as “Gen Z” are much more inclined to embrace an LGBTQ identity and that would cause the numbers to be higher than reported.
Also factored in is uncertainty in the tweaking of policy in light of the recent leak of the draft U.S. Supreme Court decision that would effectively repeal Roe v. Wade.
According to Military.com it’s unclear whether the Army’s inclusion of pregnancy on the list would protect reproductive care for soldiers if Roe v. Wade is overturned. That language could be intended to protect pregnant service members or their families from employment or other discrimination, but could also be a means for some to argue for transfers based on broader reproductive rights.
One advocacy group pointed out that the current wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation will negatively impact the moral of service members:
“What we’re seeing across the board is a small group of elected officials who are trying to politicize and weaponize LGBTQ identities in despicable ways. They’re not only doing that to our youth, but the collateral damage is hurting our service members,” Jacob Thomas, communications director for Common Defense, a progressive advocacy organization, told Military.com. “[Troops] can’t be forced to live in places where they aren’t seen as fully human.”
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