Connect with us


Fla. Log Cabin members tilt toward Romney

Former Massachusetts governor wins straw poll at ‘gay’ GOP caucus in Miami



MIAMI — Two days before the hotly contested GOP presidential primary in Florida, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney beat his three remaining rivals by a lopsided margin Saturday night in a straw poll of gay Republican activists in the Sunshine State.

The poll of just 34 Log Cabin officers and active members from the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa areas was billed as an unscientific sample of LGBT Republicans in the state.

It took place at an informal “cocktail caucus” of Log Cabin members at a Miami restaurant. In secret balloting, Romney received 24 votes, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich received 6 votes, Texas Congressman Ron Paul received 4 votes, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania received no votes.

“It’s a reflection of some of our most active and politically informed members mostly from the Miami-Dade area,” said R. Clarke Cooper, president of the national Log Cabin Republicans organization.

Officials from the group’s Florida chapters said the outcome was consistent with anecdotal information they’ve received from club members and gay and lesbian Republicans across the state – that a majority of Florida’s LGBT Republicans, including those who initially backed former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Texas Congressman Ron Paul, have shifted their support to Romney.

Huntsman has dropped out of the race and most political observers believe Paul has little chance of capturing the Republican nomination for president.

Shortly after Log Cabin’s cocktail caucus adjourned on Saturday evening, the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, and the Tampa Bay Times released the findings of a joint poll that showed a large majority of the state’s Republican voters were in agreement with the Log Cabin members.

The poll of 800 likely GOP voters showed Romney had a commanding lead of 42 percent, with Gingrich coming in second with 31 percent. Santorum came in third with 14 percent. Paul received 6 percent support from the GOP voter sample.

The Florida primary takes place on Tuesday. Thousands of GOP voters have already cast their bollots under the state’s early voting law.

Mimi Planas, co-director of Log Cabin Republicans of Miami, said her group organized the cocktail caucus in honor of members of the national Log Cabin Republicans board of directors, which met in Miami earlier in the day.

Planas, a Cuban American, was among several Hispanic Log Cabin members and officers that attended the caucus. The other co-director of the Miami chapter, Eddie Sierra, is also Cuban American.

Planas said her perception was that many LGBT Hispanic Republicans were in agreement with a majority of their straight counterparts in believing that Romney would be the best candidate to challenge President Obama in the general election in November.

“I can you tell that I, as a Republican gay voter, will be voting for Romney in the Republican primary and will support his campaign 100 percent,” said Planas, who works as an executive assistant to the president of a Miami company.

She acknowledges that Romney isn’t as supportive on LGBT issues as she would like, especially on the issue of same-sex marriage, which Romney opposes. But Planas and nearly all the others at the cocktail gathering who spoke with the Blade said their decision on which candidate to support for president was based on a wide range of issues in addition to LGBT issues.

“We see many of the LGBT Democrats as being one-issue voters,” said Planas. “We’re multi-issue voters who care a lot about a strong national defense, regulatory reform, and less, not more, government intrusion in the private sector.”

Jim Pease, president of the Tampa Bay Log Cabin Republicans chapter, said he’s developed a “sound bite” answer over the past ten years to the question by gay Democrats and others on why gay Republicans support a party or candidates that oppose LGBT rights.

“If you’re going to be a single-issue voter, than, yes, you’re going to have a problem,” he said. “But you’ve got to look at the whole picture. I’ve never found any candidate whose platform I agree with 100 percent.”

Pease added, “I have to look at what’s best for America. I want to keep America safe, I want a strong defense. I want a strong economy. I want to keep it so we have the liberties and the freedoms that we enjoy so we can be gay Republicans, so that we can be gay Democrats.”

Andy Eddy, president of the Log Cabin Chapter of Broward County, which includes the city of Fort Lauderdale, said he, too, is supporting Romney.

“I was originally supporting Huntsman and I was leaning toward Gingrich,” Eddy said. “But I was disappointed in a couple of things about Gingrich. I decided Romney would be the best person to win the Republican ticket in November 2012.”

Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum have each signed a pledge vowing to support a U.S. constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The anti-gay National Organization for Marriage sent the pledge to all Republican presidential candidates last year. Paul and Huntsman were the only two of the original ‘top tier’ candidates to decline to sign the pledge.

Cooper, who heads the national Log Cabin organization, and several officials with the group’s Florida chapters, including Eddy, said on Saturday that it would be unlikely that the national group would decline to support Romney in November should he win the nomination based on his position on gay marriage.

Cooper said Log Cabin traditionally waits to decide whether to endorse a Republican presidential candidate until the time of the GOP national convention.

In a controversial decision, the national Log Cabin Republicans group chose not to endorse President George W. Bush for re-election in 2004 based on Bush’s support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would add a permanent ban on same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution.

Eddy noted that Log Cabin’s action in 2004 left it open for its chapters throughout the country to endorse Bush, enabling the chapters to avoid sanctions or expulsion from their local or state Republican committees. A number of Log Cabin chapters, including those in Miami-Dade and Broward County in Florida, have been accepted as official arms of the Republican Party Committees in their respective counties or cities.

Cooper said he and other Log Cabin officials believe Romney’s position on gay marriage is more nuanced than that of President Bush in 2004, who actively backed a constitutional ban. Cooper said that Romney, while signing the National Organization for Marriage pledge, refused to sign a “far more extreme” pledge against gay marriage sent to him and other candidates by the Iowa based Christian conservative group The Family Leader.

According to Cooper, Log Cabin’s decision not to endorse Bush in 2004 under group’s then president Patrick Guerriero was also based, in part, on the national Republican Party’s strong backing of referendums in several states seeking to ban gay marriage.

Cooper said the party was using gay marriage as a “wedge issue” to divide the electorate and increase the turnout of conservative voters at the polls.

“Romney has said doing a constitutional amendment is not realistic and that’s not something that’s going to happen,” Cooper said. “So when you have candidates like him and Ron Paul saying that’s not a realistic option, that’s far different than from saying I’m going to push for a federal marriage amendment.”

Eddy said he and other Log Cabin members planned to attend a Romney rally Sunday afternoon in Pompano Beach near Fort Lauderdale.

Jerame Davis, executive director of National Stonewall Democrats, an LGBT group aligned with the Democratic Party, disputes Cooper’s view that Romney’s statement that a federal constitutional amendment seeking to ban gay marriage is not likely to be seriously considered offsets Romney’s support for NOM’s federal marriage amendment pledge.

“It’s the height of hypocrisy that Log Cabin would try to excuse Mitt Romney’s adoption of NOM’s insidious hate pledge,” Davis said. “In 2004, LCR took a principled stand and refused to endorse George W. Bush for his misguided push for a federal marriage amendment.”



Gay journalist murdered inside Philadelphia home

Josh Kruger’s death has left city ‘shocked and saddened’



Josh Kruger with his cat Mason (Photo courtesy of Josh Kruger's Facebook page)

An openly gay journalist was shot to death in his Point Breeze neighborhood home in the 2300 block of Watkins Street in South Philadelphia early Monday morning.

According to Officer Shawn Ritchie, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department, 39-year-old Josh Kruger was shot at about 1:30 a.m. and collapsed in the street after seeking help. Kruger was transported to Penn Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 2:13 a.m.

Police said that Kruger was shot seven times throughout the chest and abdomen and that no weapons were recovered nor have any arrests been made. Homicides investigators noted that there was no sign of forced entry and the motive remains unclear.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement:

“Josh Kruger lifted up the most vulnerable and stigmatized people in our communities — particularly unhoused people living with addiction. As an openly queer writer who wrote about his own journey surviving substance use disorder and homelessness, it was encouraging to see Josh join the Kenney administration as a spokesperson for the Office of Homeless Services.

Josh deserved to write the ending of his personal story. As with all homicides, we will be in close contact with the Philadelphia police as they work to identify the person or persons responsible so that they can be held to account in a court of law. I extend my deepest condolences to Josh’s loved ones and to all those mourning this loss.”

WHYY reported Kruger had written extensively with bylines in multiple publications, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, the Philadelphia Citizen, WHYY, and Billy Penn.

CBS News reported that Kruger overcame homelessness and addiction to work for five years in city government, handling Mayor Jim Kenney’s social media and serving as the communications director for the city’s Office of Homeless Services.

He left city government in 2021 to return to journalism, according to his website.

“He was more than just a journalist,” Kendall Stephens, who was a friend and neighbor of Kruger’s, told CBS News. “He was more than just a community member. He was somebody that fought that great fight so many of us are not able to fight that fight because we’re too busy sheltered in our own homes wondering if someone is going to knock down our doors and kill us the same way they killed him. The same way they tried to kill me. And we’re tired of it.”   

Kenney said in a statement that he is “shocked and saddened” by Kruger’s death.

“He cared deeply about our city and its residents, which was evident in his public service and writing. Our administration was fortunate to call him a colleague, and our prayers are with everyone who knew him.”

The District Attorney’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee issued the following statement:

“Many of us knew Josh Kruger as a comrade who never stopped advocating for queer Philadelphians living on the margins of society. His struggles mirrored so many of ours — from community rejection, to homelessness, to addiction, to living with HIV, to poverty — and his recovery, survival, and successes showed what’s possible when politicians and elected leaders reject bigotry and work affirmatively to uplift all people. Even while Josh worked for the mayor, he never stopped speaking out against police violence, politicized attacks on trans and queer people, or the societal discarding of homeless and addicted Philadelphians.

We are devastated that Josh’s life was ended so violently. We urge anyone who has information that could lead to an arrest and prosecution for Josh’s murder to contact the Philadelphia Police or the DA’s Office directly. LGBTQ+ Philadelphians experience violence of all kinds every day; few people used their platforms to remind powerful people in government of that reality as effectively as Josh Kruger did. Josh and the communities he advocated for every day of his life deserve nothing less than justice and accountability for this outrageous crime.”

Continue Reading

U.S. Federal Courts

Lesbian mother from El Salvador released from ICE custody

Jessica Barahona-Martinez arrested on June 26, 2017



(Bigstock photo)

A federal judge last week ordered the release of a lesbian mother from El Salvador who had been in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody since June 2017.

Jessica Patricia Barahona-Martinez and her three children entered the U.S. on May 31, 2016. A court filing notes she fled “persecution she faced in El Salvador as a lesbian, and because the government had falsely identified her as a gang member.”

Barahona-Martinez lived with her sister and other relatives in Woodbridge, Va., until ICE arrested and detained her on June 26, 2017. She was housed at two ICE detention centers in Virginia until her transfer to the South Louisiana ICE Processing Center, a privately-run facility the GEO Group, a Florida-based company, operates in Basile, La., in October 2020. 

An immigration judge in November 2019 granted Barahona-Martinez asylum for the second time. The government appealed the decision and the Board of Immigration Appeals, which the Justice Department oversees, ruled in their favor.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana last month filed a writ for habeas corpus petition in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana’s Lafayette Division that asked for Barahona-Martinez’s release. U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty on Sept. 27 ruled in her favor.  

“Petitioner (Barahona-Martinez) ultimately argues that her prolonged detention violates due process; she moves that this court issues a temporary restraining order, requests release, a bond hearing, an expedited hearing and costs and attorney fees,” wrote Doughty.

“This court finds that petitioner has plausibly alleged her prolonged detention violates due process,” added Doughty.

An ACLU spokesperson on Monday told the Blade that ICE has released Barahona-Martinez and she is once again in Virginia with her children and sister. 

Continue Reading

State Department

State Department hosts intersex activists from around the world

Group met with policy makers, health officials, NGOs



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.

Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade