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Anti-gay evangelical leaders back Santorum

Support reflects unease with Romney

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The anti-gay Family Research Council and a group of evangelical leaders are endorsing Republican Rick Santorum for president, reflecting the unease among some social conservatives with the prospect of Mitt Romney’s nomination.

On Saturday, Tony Perkins, FRC’s president, announced Santorum had won the backing of the nearly 170 conservative leaders who gathered in Brenham, Texas, to discuss the GOP primary race and top policy goals for a Republican administration.

“There is clearly a united group here that is committed to see … a true conservative elected to the White House,” Perkins said after the decision was made, according to Reuters.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has dubbed the Family Research Council a “hate group” in part because of its opposition to LGBT rights. Other anti-gay leaders who were present at the meeting — and backing Santorum — were Gary Bauer and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania won the endorsement on the third round of balloting, Politico reported. Of the 114 votes cast, Santorum won 85. Former U.S. House Speaker  Newt Gingrich took the remainder.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry didn’t even make it past the first round of balloting — even though the meeting was held in his home state and he’s heavily courted evangelicals since the beginning of his campaign.

While campaigning before the New Hampshire primary, Santorum said the legalization of same-sex marriage could lead to polygamy and said children would be better off with parents in prison rather than parents of the same gender. Santorum has also said he’d reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if elected president.

Meanwhile, Romney has said he supports “full rights” for gay people, although he opposes same-sex marriage. The former Massachusetts governor has said he’d leave open service for gays in the military as it is.

But both Santorum and Romney have signed a pledge from the National Organization for Marriage committing themselves to back a Federal Marriage Amendment, defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and establish a presidential commission on “religious liberty.”

LGBT groups on the right and left had mixed reactions to evangelical leaders’ decision to endorse Santorum.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said he doesn’t think the endorsement will translate into much success for Santorum over the long term.

“For some voters, an endorsement from the FRC will help Rick Santorum but it will not translate into a long-term gain with the general electorate,” Cooper said. “If anything, the FRC endorsement will further isolate Rick Santorum from the general electorate.”

Log Cabin has been emphasizing that social issues won’t play out well for Republican presidential candidates in their campaigns and economic issues will help them win the White House.

Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, said the endorsement reflects discontent with Romney, saying “the theocratic wing of the Republican Party has been driving the not-Romney bus since the beginning.”

Davis added Santorum “is the perfect candidate for notorious hate groups” because of what he described as the candidate’s extreme positions.

“He wants to ban contraceptives, forcibly divorce tens of thousands of legally married couples and believes every undocumented immigrant is a criminal,” Davis said. “I’m only surprised it took this long for them to decide.”

Despite the endorsement from evangelical leaders, Romney continues to enjoy support from Republicans nationwide following his narrow win in Iowa and significant victory in New Hampshire. The daily updated Gallup poll on Sunday found Romney had a 23-point lead among other candidates.

Whether the endorsement will build Santorum’s strength in South Carolina — a conservative state holding its primary on Saturday — remains to be seen.

The support for Santorum is akin to the support he received from Iowa anti-gay leader Bob Vander Plaats prior to the Iowa caucuses, where Santorum took second place and lost by only eight votes.

Romney leads others in the Republican pack in South Carolina by single digits, but Santorum and Gingrich have double-digit strength in the polls.

Sean Theriault, a gay political scientist at the University of Texas, Austin, said the evangelical leaders’ support for Santorum may help the candidate, but the field of Romney alternatives remains too crowded for any one to surge ahead of the frontrunner.

“If this were a two-person race, Romney might be in trouble, but the longer it takes the social conservatives and tea partiers to decide on which Romney alternative they like the most, the better it is for Romney,” Theriault said. “If they don’t decide soon, it’ll be too late, and Romney will be the nominee.”

 

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U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to consider challenge to Tenn. law challenging gender-affirming case for minors

Volunteer State lawmakers approved ban in 2023

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U.S. Supreme Court (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider a challenge to a Tennessee law that bans health care providers from offering gender-affirming care to transgender minors.

Tennessee lawmakers approved the law in 2023.

A federal judge in Nashville issued a temporary injunction against portions of the statute before it was to have taken effect on July 1, 2023. The 6th U.S. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last September rejected a request to block the law the Justice Department has also challenged.

“The future of countless transgender youth in this and future generations rests on this court adhering to the facts, the Constitution, and its own modern precedent,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBTQ and HIV Project, on Monday in a press release. “These bans represent a dangerous and discriminatory affront to the well-being of transgender youth across the country and their constitutional right to equal protection under the law. They are the result of an openly political effort to wage war on a marginalized group and our most fundamental freedoms.” 

“We want transgender people and their families across the country to know we will spare nothing in our defense of you, your loved ones, and your right to decide whether to get this medical care,” added Strangio.

The Associated Press reported Tennessee is among the more than two dozen states that have enacted laws that either restrict or ban gender-affirming care for trans minors.

The ACLU notes the Supreme Court “is not expected to hear arguments” in the case until the fall.

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The White House

EXCLUSIVE: Jill Biden to host White House Pride celebration

Event to take place on June 26

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First lady Jill Biden (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

First lady Jill Biden will host the White House Pride Month celebration on June 26, according to a press release previewed by the Washington Blade.

The party on the South Lawn will also feature a performance by singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer Deborah Cox and musical selections by DJ Trifle.

This year’s event comes on Equality Day this year, which honors the anniversaries of three landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions that expanded rights and protections for LGBTQ Americans: Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down sodomy laws, United States v. Windsor (2013), which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which made marriage equality the law of the land.

The White House highlighted some of the “historic action” taken by President Joe Biden to “advance LGBTQ+ equality for the community,” including:

  • Signing into law the landmark Respect for Marriage Act which protects the rights of same-sex and interracial couples;
  • Appointing a historic number of LGBTQI+ and transgender appointees, including the first transgender American to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate;
  • Directing all federal agencies to strengthen civil rights protections on the basis of gender identity, resulting in agencies working to strengthen protections in housing, health care, education, employment, the criminal justice system, nutrition programs, and more;
  • Reversing the ban on open service by transgender members of the military;
  • Signing an executive order focused on LGBTQI+ children and families that directs agencies to address the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy” and finalized rule-making that ends disparities that LGBTQI+ children and parents face in the child welfare and foster care system and protects against disparities in health care; and
  • President Biden continues to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act to enshrine civil rights protections for LGBTQI+ Americans in federal law.

Last year, the president and the first lady hosted the celebration, which was the largest Pride event ever held at the White House.

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National

65% of Black Americans support Black LGBTQ rights: survey

Results show 40% have LGBTQ family member

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(Logo courtesy of the NBJC)

The National Black Justice Coalition, a D.C.-based LGBTQ advocacy organization, announced on June 19 that it commissioned what it believes to be a first-of-its-kind national survey of Black people in the United States in which 65 percent said they consider themselves “supporters of Black LGBTQ+ people and rights,” with 57 percent of the supporters saying they were “churchgoers.”

In a press release describing the findings of the survey, NBJC said it commissioned the research firm HIT Strategies to conduct the survey with support from five other national LGBTQ organizations – the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Family Equality, and GLSEN.

“One of the first surveys of its kind, explicitly sampling Black people (1,300 participants) on Black LGBTQ+ people and issues – including an oversampling of Black LGBTQ+ participants to provide a more representative view of this subgroup – it investigates the sentiments, stories, perceptions, and priorities around Black values and progressive policies, to better understand how they impact Black views on Black LGBTQ+ people,” the press release says.

It says the survey found, among other things, that 73 percent of Gen Z respondents, who in 2024 are between the ages of 12 and 27, “agree that the Black community should do more to support Black LGBTQ+ people.”

According to the press release, it also found that 40 percent of Black people in the survey reported having a family member who identifies as LGBTQ+ and 80 percent reported having “some proximity to gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer people, but only 42 percent have some proximity to transgender or gender-expansive people.”

The survey includes these additional findings:

• 86% of Black people nationally report having a feeling of shared fate and connectivity with other Black people in the U.S., but this view doesn’t fully extend to the Black LGBTQ+ community. Around half — 51% — of Black people surveyed feel a shared fate with Black LGBTQ+ people.

• 34% reported the belief that Black LGBTQ+ people “lead with their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Those participants were “significantly less likely to support the Black LGBTQ+ community and most likely to report not feeling a shared fate with Black LGBTQ+ people.”

• 92% of Black people in the survey reported “concern about youth suicide after being shown statistics about the heightened rate among Black LGBTQ+ youth.” Those expressing this concern included 83% of self-reported opponents of LGBTQ+ rights.

• “Black people’s support for LGBTQ+ rights can be sorted into three major groups: 29% Active Accomplices, 25% Passive Allies (high potential to be moved), 35% Opponents. Among Opponents, ‘competing priorities’ and ‘religious beliefs’ are the two most significant barriers to supporting Black LGBTQ+ people and issues.”

• 10% of the survey participants identified as LGBTQ. Among those who identified as LGBTQ, 38% identified as bisexual, 33% identified as lesbian or gay, 28% identified as non-binary or gender non-conforming, and 6% identified as transgender.

• Also, among those who identified as LGBTQ, 89% think the Black community should do more to support Black LGBTQ+ people, 69% think Black LGBTQ+ people have fewer rights and freedoms than other Black people, 35% think non-Black LGBTQ+ people have fewer rights and freedom than other Black people, 54% “feel their vote has a lot of power,” 51% live in urban areas, and 75% rarely or never attend church.

Additional information about the survey from NBJC can be accessed here.

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