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Gay ex-congressman shuns politics in Florida

Robert Bauman, outed in 1980 sex scandal, lives quietly in Wilton Manors — and opposes same-sex marriage

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Former U.S. Rep. Robert Bauman (photo courtesy of Bauman)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Former U.S. Rep. Robert Bauman, a Republican who represented Maryland’s mostly rural Eastern Shore district from 1973 to 1981, was known at the time as a champion of conservative causes.

Today, more than 30 years after a gay sex scandal led to his ouster from office, he lives in the upscale gay enclave of Wilton Manors, a small city located just outside Fort Lauderdale.

In an interview with the Washington Blade on the eve of Florida’s Republican presidential primary, Bauman said he remains committed to conservative and libertarian principles but has shunned politics since 1982.

“I think both parties are miserable,” he said. “I don’t know what they stand for any more.”

Bauman added, “I think they mirror each other. I think they are both completely enthralled to Wall Street and the banks. I think they are controlled by the people that contribute money to them. And that goes for Obama and it goes for Gingrich.”

“The only thing you can say for Romney is that he’s rich enough that maybe he won’t be influenced by that,” said Bauman. “I hate to say it, but I think he’s probably the least influenced by them because of his religion.”

Bauman, an attorney, said he voted earlier this month for GOP presidential contender Ron Paul, the congressman from Texas, as a “protest vote.” He said Paul’s outspoken call for reforming the nation’s politics and economic policies represents a refreshing alternative to the other candidates, even though Bauman acknowledges some of Paul’s proposals are unrealistic.

When asked about former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the fourth remaining contender in the GOP presidential race, Bauman shrugged and said he considered him “no better or no worse” than Romney or Gingrich.

Bauman noted that some people he knows who share his disappointment over the current state of U.S. politics no longer vote because they believe it “lends credence” to a lousy system.

“I don’t feel that way. I’ll keep fighting until I go,” he said.

In October 1980, then-U.S. Rep. Robert Bauman was widely believed to be the most conservative member of the House of Representatives.

Admirers and critics alike recognized him as an articulate and formidable opponent of the Democrats who controlled both Congress and the White House at the time.

But later that month, his status as a champion of conservative Republican causes and an admired husband and father of four children came crashing down. News surfaced that the FBI and D.C. police accused him of soliciting sex from a 16-year-old male prostitute who apparently used fake identification to land a job as a stripper in a D.C. gay bar called the Chesapeake House, the place where Bauman met him.

Just four weeks before Bauman was expected to win re-election to a fourth term in Congress by a lopsided margin, he pleaded “no contest” in federal court to a misdemeanor charge of solicitation for prostitution. Under a plea bargain arrangement for first-time offenders, authorities called for a sentence of just six months probation, with no jail time, after which the charge was dropped.

As an interesting aside, Bauman said he was represented in court by Baltimore attorney Tom O’Malley, the father of Maryland’s current governor, Martin O’Malley.

Following what Bauman has called a grueling four-week climax to his election campaign, in which longtime supporters turned against him, he lost his race for re-election to Democrat Roy Dyson.

At the urging of loyal supporters, Bauman threw his hat in the ring for a comeback in the 1982 election. But he was immediately challenged in the Republican primary by a former state senator who seized on the sex scandal that led to Bauman’s defeat two years earlier.

“It was almost totally a personal campaign based on what happened to me,” Bauman said. “And with three of my kids still living with me and my wife and I separating, I just said to myself, that’s enough, and I withdrew. And I almost won the primary six weeks after I withdrew. My name was still on the ballot.”

His opponent in the primary lost overwhelmingly to Dyson in the November election.

“So that was my last activity in politics,” Bauman said.

Over the next four years Bauman started a private law practice in Washington; worked briefly as a lobbyist for the newly created Gay Rights National Lobby, the forerunner to the Human Rights Campaign; and wrote a book called “The Gentleman from Maryland: The Conscience of a Gay Conservative.”

The book, published in 1986, has been praised by conservatives and liberals as an honest and painful account of Bauman’s struggle with his sexual orientation and alcoholism.

Shortly after his book was published Bauman moved to Florida to take a job as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs office outside St. Petersburg. He said he left that job about a year later after deciding he was no longer interested in working within the federal bureaucracy.

He next went to work as a freelance writer and attorney for a libertarian-oriented publishing company called Agora Publications. In 1998 Bauman helped to found a subsidiary to the company called the Sovereign Society, which publishes email newsletters and books specializing in legal tax avoidance through the use of offshore investing.

“I write for them on a regular basis for their daily e-newsletter that goes out to more than 335,000 people,” he said. “And I write books. I’ve written five or six or more books on offshore financing and on places to invest off shore – asset protect –all of the things that Newt Gingrich has been railing against for the last few days,” he said.

Bauman takes strong exception to gay activists who accused him of pushing for anti-gay policies during his years in Congress. He said that with the exception of one vote — for a 1970s era amendment introduced by Rep. Larry McDonald (D-Ga.), which prohibited the U.S. Legal Services Administration from taking on gay rights cases — he never took a public position for or against gay rights.

“I was a closeted homosexual. Taking on gay rights issues was the last thing in the world I wanted to do,” he said.

Now, Bauman said he fully supports civil rights and full equality for gays and transgender people. But he said he isn’t ready to support legalization of same-sex marriage, a position he acknowledges will upset gay activists.

“I have never supported gay marriage,” he said. “To me, marriage is between a man and a woman. I don’t think you can replace centuries of religious tradition when it comes to marriage. It does not include two people of the same sex.”

He said he does support legal recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships, saying same-sex couples joined in that form of legal relationship should be given all of the rights and benefits of marriage.

 

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Florida House committee passes “Don’t Say Gay” bill

Equality Florida quickly condemned the measure

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The Florida State Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González)

The Republican majority Florida House Education and Employment Committee on Thursday passed House Bill 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill, colloquially referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill advancing the measure to the full House.

HB 1557 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 1834, would ban classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, erasing LGBTQ identity, history, and culture — as well as LGBTQ students themselves.

The bill also has provisions that appear to undermine LGBTQ support in schools and include vague parental notification requirements which could effectively “out” LGBTQ-identifying students to their parents without their consent.

“The Trevor Project’s research has found that LGBTQ youth who learned about LGBTQ issues or people in classes at school had 23 percent lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past year. This bill will erase young LGBTQ students across Florida, forcing many back into the closet by policing their identity and silencing important discussions about the issues they face,” said Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project. “LGBTQ students deserve their history and experiences to be reflected in their education, just like their peers.”

In an email to the Los Angeles Blade, Brandon J. Wolf, the press secretary for Equality Florida noted; “Governor DeSantis’ march toward his own personal surveillance state continues. Today, the Don’t Say Gay bill, a piece of legislation to erase discussion of LGBTQ people from schools in Florida, passed its first committee and became another component of an agenda designed to police us in our classrooms, doctor’s offices, and workplaces. Make no mistake — LGBTQ people are your neighbors, family members, and friends. We are a normal, healthy part of society and we will not be erased.”

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than 42 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and non-binary youth.

According to a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project, 85 percent of transgender and non-binary youth — and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66 percent) — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.

When asked about proposed legislation that would require schools to tell a student’s parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun or if they identify as LGBTQ at school, 56 percent of transgender and non-binary youth said it made them feel angry, 47 percent felt nervous and/or scared, 45 percent felt stressed, and more than 1 in 3 felt sad.

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/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678. 

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NCAA adopts new policy amid fervor over transgender athletes

Sport-by-sport approach requires certain levels of testosterone

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NCAA, gay news, Washington Blade
The NCAA has adopted new policy amid a fervor over transgender athletes.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced it has adopted new procedures on competition of transgender athletes, creating a “sport-by-sport” approach that also requires documentation of testosterone levels across the board amid a fervor of recently transitioned swimmers breaking records in women’s athletics.

The NCAA said in a statement its board of governors voted on Wednesday in support of the “sport-by-sport” approach, which the organization says “preserves opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.”

Although the policy defers to the national governing bodies for individual sports, it also requires transgender athletes to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections. The new policy, which consistent with rules for the U.S. Olympics, is effective 2022, although implementation is set to begin with the 2023-24 academic year, the organization says.

John DeGioia, chair of the NCAA board and Georgetown president, said in a statement the organization is “steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports.”

“It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences and college athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy,” DeGioia said.

More specifically, starting with the 2022-23 academic year, transgender athletes will need to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections, the organizational. These athletes, according to the NCAA, are also required to document testosterone levels four weeks before championship selections.

In terms of jurisdiction, the national governing bodies for individual sports are charged determines policies, which would be under ongoing review and recommendation by the NCAA, the organizational says. If there is no policy for a sport, that sport’s international federation policy or previously established International Olympics Committee policy criteria would be followed.

The NCAA adopts the policy amid controversy over University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas smashing records in women’s swimming. Thomas, which once competed as a man, smashed two national records and in the 1,650-yard freestyle placed 38 seconds ahead of closest competition. The new NCAA policy appears effectively to sideline Thomas, who has recently transitioned and unable to show consistent levels of testosterone.

Prior to the NCAA announcement, a coalition of 16 LGBTQ groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and Athlete Ally, this week sent to a letter to the collegiate organization, urging the organizations strengthen non-discrimination protections as opposed to weakening them. The new policy, however, appears to head in other direction, which the LGBTQ groups rejected in the letter.

“While decentralizing the NCAA and giving power to conferences and schools has its benefits, we are concerned that leaving the enforcement of non-discrimination protections to schools will create a patchwork of protections rather than a comprehensive policy that would protect all athletes, no matter where they play,” the letter says. “This would be similar to the patchwork of non-discrimination policies in states, where marginalized groups in some states or cities are protected while others are left behind by localities that opt not to enact inclusive policies.”

JoDee Winterhof, vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement after the NCAA announcement the new policy was effectively passing the buck.

“If the NCAA is committed to ensuring an environment of competition that is safe, healthy, and free from discrimination, they cannot dodge the question of how to ensure transgender athletes can participate safely,” Winterhof said. “That is precisely why we and a number of organizations across a wide spectrum of advocates are urging them to readopt and strengthen non-discrimination language in their constitution to ensure the Association is committed to enforcing the level playing field and inclusive policies they say their values require. Any policy language is only as effective as it is enforceable, and with states passing anti-transgender sports bans, any inclusive policy is under immediate threat. We are still reviewing the NCAA’s new policy on transgender inclusion and how it will impact each and every transgender athlete.”

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Transgender rights group’s Los Angeles office receives bomb threat

[email protected] Coalition evacuated

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(Public domain photo)

A bomb threat was phoned in Wednesday afternoon to the Wilshire Boulevard Koreatown offices of the [email protected] Coalition, Bamby Salcedo, the president and CEO of the non-profit organization told the Los Angeles Blade.

According to Salcedo, an unidentified male caller told the staff person who answered at approximately 3 p.m., while delivering the threat said; “You’re all going to die.” The staff immediately evacuated everyone from their offices and then contacted the Los Angeles Police Department for assistance.

Officers, specialists and detectives from the Rampart Division of the LAPD responded and swept the building. A spokesperson for the LAPD confirmed that the incident is under active investigation but would make no further comment.

On a Facebook post immediately after the incident the non-profit wrote; “To ensure the safety of our clients and staff members, we ask that you please NOT come to our office.”

In a follow-up post, Salcedo notified the organization and its clientele that the LAPD had given the all-clear and that their offices would resume normal operations Thursday at 9:00 a.m. PT.

“Thank you for your messages and concern for our staff and community,” Salcedo said.

“No amount of threats can stop us from our commitment to the TGI community,” she added.

The [email protected] Coalition was founded in 2009 by a group of transgender and gender non-conforming and intersex (TGI) immigrant women in Los Angeles as a grassroots response to address the specific needs of TGI Latino immigrants who live in the U.S.

Since then, the agency has become a nationally recognized organization with representation in 10 different states across the U.S. and provides direct services to TGI individuals in Los Angeles.

In 2015, the [email protected] Coalition identified the urgent need to provide direct services to empower TGI people in response to structural, institutional, and interpersonal violence, and the Center for Violence Prevention and Transgender Wellness was born.

Since then, the organization has secured funding from the state and local government sources as well as several private foundations and organizations to provide direct services to all TGI individuals in Los Angeles County.

The [email protected] Coalition’s primary focus is to change the landscape of access to services for TGI people and provide access to comprehensive resource and services that will improve the quality of life of TGI people.

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