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Romney wins big in New Hampshire

Takes lead in South Carolina polls

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney earned his second victory in the race for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday by trouncing his competition in the New Hampshire primary.

Romney finished with 39.4 percent of the vote. Second place finisher, libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), had 22.8 percent. Media outlets declared Romney the winner shortly after polls closed in the evening, unlike in Iowa, where a winner wasn’t declared until the wee hours of the morning.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr., came in third with 16.8 percent of the vote.

Standing before his family during a victory speech at Southern New Hampshire University, Romney accused President Obama of having run out of ideas and excuses in his leadership of the country.

“We still believe in the hope, the promise, and the dream of America,” Romney said. “We still believe in the shining ‘City on the Hill.’ We know that the future of this country is better than that 8 or 9 percent unemployment. It’s better than $15 trillion in debt. It’s better than the misguided and broken promises of the last three years, and the failed leadership of one man. The president has run out of ideas; now he’s running out of excuses.”

Romney concluded by looking to the next contest in South Carolina, saying, “Tonight, we’re asking the good people of South Carolina to join the citizens of New Hampshire and make 2012 the year he runs out of time.”

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich finished fourth with 9.4 percent of the vote; former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum was close behind in fifth place with 9.3 percent.

Santorum encountered an unfavorable reaction from some New Hampshire residents at his town hall meetings for stating his opposition to same-sex marriage. In one town hall, he said children would be better off having parents in prison rather than having parents of the same gender. Prior to his final campaign appearance in New Hampshire, Santorum was denounced as a “bigot” by Occupy protesters.

Gingrich also came under media scrutiny for incorrectly stating during a debate that the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and D.C. “forced” the Catholic Church to close charitable services in those places. The church had volunteered to close those services.

Gay Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger at his N.H. victory party (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Gay GOP candidate Fred Karger — considered a long shot in the race — had earned 294 votes in the New Hampshire primary late Tuesday as results were still being tabulated.

Reflecting on his showing, Karger told the Washington Blade, “I’ve done this on my own. I’ve gotten no help from any organization or big donors.”

Karger said he’s setting his sights now on the Michigan primary, which will take place on Feb. 28. Karger, who touts himself as the only presidential candidate who supports full equality for LGBT people, said he’ll be one of 11 Republicans on the ballot and thinks he could be in a position take part in a debate for that primary.

Romney’s win could be significant because no other non-incumbent Republican candidate since the modern primary system was established has won the contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. According to recent polls, Romney is also polling in the lead in South Carolina, where the next primary will take place next week.

The decisive win for Romney in New Hampshire also stands in contrast to his extraordinarly narrow win in Iowa, where he claimed victory over Santorum by a margin of eight votes.

None of the candidates that Romney beat in the primary announced they would end their race on Tuesday. Despite his third place win, Huntsman vowed to continue his campaign to South Carolina, although polls have him in single digits in the more conservative state.

Gay conservatives lauded Romney for his victory and said the win helps cement Romney as the GOP nominee who’ll take on Obama in the general election.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said the “definitive victory” for Romney in New Hampshire — coupled with the candidate’s win in Iowa — shows he can “unite Republicans and is a clear threat to Barack Obama in November.”

On Romney’s positions on LGBT issues, Cooper recalled remarks in recent debates in which Romney said he supports “full rights” for gay Americans.

“While he continues to support a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality — a position Log Cabin strongly opposes — he is also on record saying that such an amendment has been tried, rejected and is unlikely to ever succeed,” Cooper said. “Romney has also taken a position that the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has been settled, and he would not seek to reinstitute the ban on open service.”

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud, said Romney’s win demonstrates that his message of “economic renewal for America is resonating with Republican voters across the country.”

“Governor Romney’s win tonight is good news for all Americans – both gay and straight – struggling to make ends meet in this failed Obama economy and bad news for the president’s re-election prospects,” LaSalvia said.

LaSalvia endorsed Romney in an op-ed piece published last week in the Daily Caller, citing economic and tax policy as reasons to support the candidate. The endorsement was a personal one, and not on behalf on GOProud.

Cooper also praised Paul, saying his second-place showing “underscores New Hampshire’s commitment to the libertarian principles he has consistently championed,” and Huntsman for having “frequently talked about the need for Americans to do more for gay rights.”

But Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, said political observers shouldn’t anoint Romney as the Republican presidential nominee.

“Romney’s prospects are looking up, but he hasn’t clinched the nomination by any means,” Davis said. “Keep in mind, this is only the second contest of many and more than 60 percent of the GOP vote went to someone other than Romney.”

Davis said Romney’s failure to win a majority of the vote demonstrates that the GOP is unable to get behind the candidate.

“Republicans just can’t get excited about him even if they ultimately accept him as their nominee, but can you blame them?” Davis said. “He’ll say anything to get elected. Just look at the way he’s pandered to LGBT voters and then disavowed having ever done so and you get a taste of his lack of conviction.”

Davis was referring to a 2002 Pride flier from Romney’s gubernatorial campaign promising equal rights that was disavowed by his presidential campaign after the candidate said during a debate Saturday he supports full rights for gay people.

The anti-gay National Organization for Marriage also praised Romney.

Brian Brown, NOM’s president, called Romney’s win “an impressive victory” and said the candidate’s opposition to same-sex marriage makes him an ideal candidate.

“We commend Mitt Romney on his impressive victory tonight in New Hampshire, adding to his delegate total following his victory in Iowa,” Brown said. “Mr. Romney has signed NOM’s pledge to take specific actions as president to defend traditional marriage. He has also called for the repeal of same-sex marriage in New Hampshire. Voters rewarded him and we congratulate Mr. Romney on his well-earned victory.”

Romney is among the Republican presidential candidates who’s signed NOM’s pledge to oppose same-sex marriage if elected president. Among other things, signing the document commits the candidate to back a Federal Marriage Amendment and to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

NOM makes no mention in its statement of Paul’s second place showing. The organization had undertaken a $50,000 ad campaign to alert voters to the candidate’s opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment and belief that government should get out of marriage. NOM had criticized Paul for his third place showing in Iowa after earlier polls showed him doing better there.

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Federal Government

Trump indicted in classified document mishandling case

Former president to appear in federal court in Miami on Tuesday

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Former President Donald Trump (Photo by shganti1777 via Bigstock)

A federal grand jury has indicted former President Donald Trump on seven criminal counts in connection with his mishandling of more than 100 classified documents.

In a series of posts to his Truth Social account Thursday, Trump said that he has been indicted related to his mishandling of the classified documents taken to his estate at Mar-a-Lago after his term of office ended in January 2021.

The unprecedented decision comes after a more than yearlong investigation by special counsel Jack Smith into whether Trump knowingly retained classified and top secret government records when he left office and then disregarded a subpoena to return all classified documents in his possession and whether he and his staff obstructed Federal Bureau of Investigation efforts to ensure all documents had been returned.

A person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to discuss it publicly said Trump’s lawyers were contacted by prosecutors shortly before he announced on his Truth Social platform that he had been indicted, the Associated Press reported.

In the first of a series of posts Trump wrote:

“Page 1: The corrupt Biden administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax, even though Joe Biden has 1850 boxes at the University of Delaware, additional Boxes in Chinatown, D.C., with even more boxes at the University of Pennsylvania, and documents strewn all over his garage floor where he parks his Corvette, and which is ‘secured’ by only a garage door that is paper thin, and open much of the time.”

“Page 2: I have been summoned to appear at the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday at 3 p.m. I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former president of the United States, who received far more votes than any sitting president in the history of our country, and is currently leading, by far, all candidates, both Democrat and Republican, in Polls of the 2024 presidential election. I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!”

“Page 3: This is indeed a DARK DAY for the United States of America. We are a country in serious and rapid decline, but together we will Make America Great Again!”

The Justice Department didn’t respond to a request for a comment.

The AP also noted it remains unclear what the immediate and long-term political consequences will be for Trump. His first indictment spurred millions of dollars in contributions from angry supporters and didn’t damage Trump in the polls.

No matter what, the indictment — and the legal fight that follows — will throw Trump back into the spotlight, sucking attention away from the other candidates who are trying to build momentum in the 2024 presidential race, the AP pointed out.

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The White House

White House debuts new actions to protect the LGBTQ community

The administration is coordinating efforts across different federal agencies

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The White House was lit in rainbow colors following the Respect for Marriage Act signing ceremony (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden, during a call with reporters on Wednesday, announced a slate of new actions the administration will undertake to better protect the LGBTQ community.

These will focus on three major areas, she said: safety and security, issues for LGBTQ youth like mental health and housing insecurity, and combatting book bans.

President Joe Biden has “already developed a historic record of supporting the LGBTQ community,” Tanden said, noting that he and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden are also prepared to “host the largest Pride celebration in White House history” on Thursday evening.

At the same time, she said, LGBTQ Americans are now experiencing “a whole range of attacks” from “hateful, un-American legislation” to “a disturbing surge in violent threats.”

Administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the administration’s “community safety partnership” will “work hand in hand with LGBTQ community organizations” to provide safety training and resources, Tanden said.

For example, she said, “and it’s so unfortunate to have to say this,” but the partnership will help LGBTQ community centers “prepare for the worst” – including “bomb threats, active shooters, and cybersecurity threats – while also protecting “healthcare providers who serve the community by working with doctors and medical associations.”

Actions for LGBTQ kids that Tanden previewed on Wednesday include HHS’s development of a behavioral health care advisory for transgender and gender diverse youth, to help ensure young people are given the best evidence-based care.

On Thursday, she said, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will launch federal initiatives to combat LGBTQ youth homelessness and new regulations to “protect LGBTQ kids in foster care.”

Finally, Tanden said, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights “will appoint a new coordinator” to combat book bans, which disproportionately target, for exclusion, materials with LGBTQ characters or themes, or communities of color.

DoE’s coordinator will “offer trainings and resources to schools to help them understand that students have a right to learn free from discrimination, and that book bands may violate federal civil rights laws if they create a hostile environment for students,” Tanden said.

A senior administration official, responding to a question from the Washington Blade following Tanden’s remarks, elaborated on the scope of the community safety partnership.

Community organizations, they said, will include “health clinics, community centers, and organizations that are planning Pride celebrations, but it also includes small businesses like restaurants and bars that have been targeted because they’re run by LGBTQI+ Americans or because they host events that support that community.”

“We’ll be encouraging and reaching out directly to organizations that have been impacted by these violent threats to help make sure that they have the training and the resources they need to stay safe,” the official said.

They added that DHS and DoJ, in anticipation of the possibility that threats will increase in June, “have both been working proactively over many months leading up to Pride to communicate with state and local law enforcement about the threats that the community may face and to help local pride organizers get access to any federal safety resources they may need to help keep the community safe.”

Asked to explain how HHS’s healthcare focused initiatives will be reconciled with restrictions targeting medical interventions for trans youth in conservative states, the official noted ongoing efforts to fight back – including by federal rulemaking and litigated challenges of policies that violate Americans’ rights.

When it comes to the actions previewed by Tanden, the official said, “Almost half of LGBTQI+ youth say they seriously considered committing suicide in the past year, and that attacks on their rights have made their mental health worse. That’s a serious crisis that we want to take on and this advisory will help.”

Additionally, they said, “HHS is announcing that they’re going to release new guidance to states to help them use federal funds to offer dedicated mental health services to the LGBTQI+ community,” while “the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMSA, is releasing $1.7 million in new federal funding for programs that support the health and mental health of LGBTQI+ youth by investing in programs that are focused on family affirmation.”

Responding to other questions about anti-LGBTQ legislation and the rising transphobic and anti-LGBTQ sentiment in America, the official offered some insight into the Biden-Harris administration’s positions on these matters more broadly.

“Part of our role here is to lift up the stories of transgender kids and their families to help the American people understand what is happening to families who, as the President says aren’t hurting anyone but are being hurt by these laws,” said the official.

“These aren’t just attacks on the rights of LGBTQI+{ Americans, they are part and parcel of a coordinated attack on our democracy,” they said. “We’re not just talking about laws that target transgender kids. These are really laws that get at the heart of our basic freedoms and values: the right to free expression, the right to make decisions about your own body, the right to parent and raise your children.”

The official added, “Opponents of LGBTQI+ Americans are leading a pretty significant campaign of disinformation,” which have included “the same types of hateful lies and stereotypes that have been used against our community really for decades and for generations.”

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California

Calif. school district meeting over LGBTQ studies turns violent

Police officers and protestors clashed outside Glendale Unified School Board meeting

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(YouTube screenshot from KCAL)

Police officers and protestors clashed outside a meeting of the Glendale Unified School Board over LGBTQ studies and the GUSD polices on addressing LGBTQ related issues.

News footage from CBS Los Angeles KCAL showed approximately 50 Glendale police officers attempting to keep the two groups separated and then fists were thrown as both sides engaged in physical assaults. A Glendale police spokesperson confirmed that some arrests had been made but wouldn’t comment further.

Witnesses and news crews noted that many of those protesting against the LGBTQ community were from the same group that had protested at Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood, angered over a Pride month assembly. Officers from the LAPD’s North Hollywood Community Station responded and there were physical assaults as well.

The situation in Glendale has become increasingly acrimonious. Last year during Pride month, a third grade teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Tammy Tiber, had enraged some parents after speaking to her students about LGBTQ topics on Zoom. The GUSD officials later transferred her because Tiber had told them she no longer felt safe.

A spokesperson for the district said that all materials are vetted by the GUSD, and are in full compliance with curriculum that deals with LGBTQ history, mandated under California’s FAIR Education Act, which was signed into law on July 14, 2011, and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

It amends the California Education Code to include the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful reference to contributions by people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community in history and social studies curriculum.

Last month on May 18, a man who is not the parent of a child in the district, accused GUSD school board vice president Jennifer Freemon of concealing consistent attempts to “indoctrinate” students on LGBTQ issues.

“They are saying boys can be girls and girls can be boys,” Henry said during the board meeting. “If you believe in that, that is your opinion, and if that is your official policy, Jennifer, that is indoctrination because it offends a lot of people’s actual doctrine.”

As an example of instructing students to “behave inappropriately,” Henry referenced an alleged recent incident involving a student with special needs. GUSD student Thelma Gonzalez, who spoke later in the meeting, was allegedly asked to provide the definition of “scissoring” during a health lesson, despite her mother requesting that she be excused.

“A violation of their doctrine, their Christian doctrine,” Henry said, referring to Gonzalez and her mother. “Regardless of what you think, what I think, what the community thinks about any faith, you violated that. And if you don’t condemn that today, Jennifer, you are a hypocrite and a liar.”

He then mounted an attack on district polices regarding its transgender students.

“If you think they value your children, you’re more than entitled to think that,” Henry said. “They will not lie to you about your child, they will lie to these parents. They will conceal that private information from parents. You have enshrined that into doctrine, into policy, which is a misinterpretation of the law.”

It is not immediately clear what policy Henry was referring to. However, GUSD’s anti-discrimination policy states the district will only disclose a student’s “transgender or gender-nonconforming status” with their consent. It also mandates that a district official may discuss with that same student “any need” to confide in their parents or guardians.

Inside the Tuesday GUSD board meeting, pro- and anti-LGBTQ protesters faced off over how schools teach gender and sexuality, attendees were suddenly told to shelter in place as the violence outside escalated. The interruption came after about an hour of public comments, most of them in defense of the LGBTQ community and the district’s handling of materials and policies.

Protesters fight outside Glendale school district meeting about LGBTQ studies:

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