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Santorum wins in Alabama, Mississippi

Gingrich fades; Romney takes Hawaii

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Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum scored two wins in the GOP primaries on Tuesday by adding Alabama and Mississippi to his column after prevailing in Kansas over the weekend.

The former U.S. senator, who’s known for his strong opposition to same-sex marriage and other anti-gay views, edged out his competitors in the most recent contests — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney,  former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

In Alabama, Santorum won 35 percent of the vote with 98 percent of precincts reporting. Gingrich and Romney were tied with 29 percent of the vote.

In Mississippi, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, Santorum captured 33 percent of the vote, while Gingrich had 31 percent and Romney had 30 percent. Hawaii also held a contest on Tuesday; Romney won there with 45 percent of the vote to Santorum’s 25 percent and Gingrich’s 11.

Speaking at his campaign headquarters at Lafayette, La., Tuesday night, Santorum told supporters, “We did it again.”

“The most common thing I heard from people — and I know I’m not alone — is people come up and say, ‘I’m praying for you,'” Santorum said. “I just want to thank you for that. I want to thank God for giving us the strength everyday to go out there and to be clear in our message and our vision for this country.”

Santorum said the “best chance” for Republicans to win the November election is to nominate a conservative — likely a reference to Romney, who’s viewed as a more moderate candidate — and said he expects to have “a huge win” in the Louisiana primary, which will have its contest on March 24.

Hastings Wyman, who’s gay and editor of the Southern Political Report, said the results on Tuesday give Santorum “a big boost” — mostly because they show Santorum’s competitor as the anti-Romney alternative, Gingrich, has run out of steam.

“It sends a strong message to Gingrich that it’s time he got out,” Wyman said. “I don’t know whether he will or not, but if he can’t win those two states, there’s nowhere else he can win really.”

Although Romney has amassed more delegates leading up to the convention than either Santorum or Gingrich, Wyman said Santorum’s wins show he continues to have strength and could give Romney a run for his money for the Republican presidential nomination.

“I think Santorum is going to give Romney a strong race,” Wyman said. “He’s more youthful. The polls show he does very well with women, and think that’s because they find him personally attractive. I don’t mean some sort of sexually way, or anything like that. It’s just he’s young and handsome and they kind of like him. Romney’s too aloof, Gingrich is too cerebral, Paul is kind of the class nerd. I think Santorum comes across as somebody they really like.”

The candidate’s wins on Tuesday build off of his win on Saturday in the Kansas caucuses. Santorum won a majority of the vote in the state, while Romney came in a distant second with 20.9 percent of the vote.

But Thomas Witt, chair of the Kansas Equality Coalition, said he doesn’t think Santorum’s win in the state amounted to much because of the low turnout in the primary.

“I think there’s some perspective we can put Santorum’s victory in here,” Witt said. “There’s about 725,000 registered Republicans in the State of Kansas. Fewer than 30,000 participated in the caucuses. Of those, 15,000 voted for Santorum. That’s 2 percent of the Republicans in Kansas voting for Santorum. Polls have margins of error bigger than the number of Republicans that voted for him.”

Witt said he’s unaware of any anti-gay rhetoric that Santorum may have employed while campaigning in Kansas, which is known for being a socially conservative state. The activist said he followed news coverage carefully and talked to people at one of Santorum’s events in Topeka, but nothing related to LGBT issues came up.

Santorum is known for his opposition to LGBT rights. He’s signed a pledge from the National Organization for Marriage committing himself to back a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country, defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and establish a commission of “religious liberty” to investigate the alleged harassment of those opposed to same-sex marriage. He has also said he would restore “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if elected president.

Other contests on Saturday took place in U.S. protectorates: Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Romney won in the first two places. Paul won the Virgin Islands, but Romney took more delegates because of the system there.

The next contest is set to be the Missouri caucuses on Thursday. Santorum won the primary in the state on Feb. 7, but his win was symbolic because delegates weren’t awarded then. Missouri has 52 delegates up for grabs during its caucuses. Following Missouri, the next contest will be Puerto Rico on Friday, Illinois on Sunday and Louisiana on March 24.

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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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U.S. Federal Courts

Club Q shooter sentenced to life in prison for federal hate crimes

Five people killed in 2022 mass shooting in Colo.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. (Justice Department YouTube screenshot)

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 24, formerly of Colorado Springs, Colo., was sentenced to 55 concurrent life sentences to run consecutive to 190 years in prison after pleading guilty to 74 hate crimes and firearms charges related to the Nov. 19, 2022, mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ establishment in Colorado Springs.  

According to the plea agreement, Aldrich admitted to murdering five people, injuring 19, and attempting to murder 26 more in a willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated attack at Club Q. According to the plea, Aldrich entered Club Q armed with a loaded, privately manufactured assault weapon, and began firing. Aldrich continued firing until subdued by patrons of the club. As part of the plea, Aldrich admitted that this attack was in part motivated because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity of any person.

“Fueled by hate, the defendant targeted members of the LGBTQIA+ community at a place that represented belonging, safety, and acceptance — stealing five people from their loved ones, injuring 19 others, and striking fear across the country,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “Today’s sentencing makes clear that the Justice Department is committed to protecting the right of every person in this country to live free from the fear that they will be targeted by hate-fueled violence or discrimination based on who they are or who they love. I am grateful to every agent, prosecutor, and staff member across the Department — from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, to the Civil Rights Division, the ATF, and FBI — for their work on this case. The Justice Department will never stop working to defend the safety and civil rights of all people in our country.”

“The 2022 mass shooting at Club Q is one of the most violent crimes against the LGBTQIA+ community in history,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI and our partners have worked tirelessly towards this sentencing, but the true heroes are the patrons of the club who selflessly acted to subdue the defendant. This Pride Month and every month, the FBI stands with the survivors, victims, and families of homophobic violence and hate.”

“ATF will not rest until perpetrators like this defendant are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Steven Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “I hope today’s life sentence brings at least some peace to the victims and survivors of this senseless, horrific tragedy. That this sentence should come during Pride month reinforces how far we have left to go before all communities, including all LGBTQIA+ communities, are safe here. It also shows how far ATF and all our partners will go to ensure hatred does not win.”

“The defendant’s mass shooting and heinous targeting of Club Q is one of the most devastating assaults on the LGBTQIA+ community in our nation’s history. This sentence cannot reclaim the lives lost or undo the harms inflicted. But we hope that it provides the survivors, the victims’ families, and their communities a small measure of justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our message today should be loud and clear. No one should have to fear for their life or their safety because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The Justice Department will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who perpetrate hate-fueled, bias-driven attacks.”

“Hate has no place in our country and no place in Colorado” said Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch for the District of Colorado. “I hope that today’s sentence demonstrates to the victims and those connected to this horrific event that we do not tolerate these heinous acts of violence.”

The FBI Denver Field Office, Colorado Springs Police Department, and ATF investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alison Connaughty and Bryan Fields for the District of Colorado and, Maura White of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.

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