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Fresno activists wage lonely battle to oust congressman

California’s newly drawn 22nd District ‘safe’ for anti-gay GOP incumbent



Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) received a ‘0’ rating on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard. (public domain photo)

Editor’s note: This is the second in an occasional series profiling congressional districts in which the incumbent is not supportive of LGBT rights. The articles seek to assess the chances of electing a supportive candidate to help advance pro-LGBT bills that have been stalled in Congress. Visit for the first installment on Maryland’s 6th District.

U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is one of 14 members of the U.S. House of Representatives from California who received a “0” rating on LGBT issues from the Human Rights Campaign’s 2010 Congressional Scorecard, which has a rating scale of 0 to 100.

Nunes and most of the other U.S. House members with a 0 rating in the state — all Republicans — represent districts inside or bordering on California’s Central Valley, a vast rural and agricultural region in the interior and eastern part of the state.

The region has traditionally elected conservative Republicans to Congress and to the California Legislature.

“The rabid homophobes come from rabid, red homophobic districts,” said Mark Leno, a gay State Senator from San Francisco and longtime LGBT rights advocate. “They’re going to get re-elected. So to waste time, energy and resources in those districts is just that, a waste,” Leno told the Blade.

“You have to look at party registration where it’s most possible for a Democrat to win, and that’s what the Democrats are doing,” he said.

The newly redrawn district includes precincts that voted overwhelmingly for Sen. John McCain in 2008, leading many observers to label the seat “safe” for Nunes.

But gay activist Jason Scott, a resident of Clovis, Calif., a small city that borders on the much larger City of Fresno, said he’s troubled that the national Democratic Party and national LGBT organizations appear to have written off the 22nd Congressional District and other Central Valley districts.

Scott is one of the organizers of Gay Fresno, an online LGBT news and resource service that covers Fresno and nearby cities and towns in the Central Valley region. Although he agrees that Nunes is likely to win re-election this year, Scott told the Blade residents of Nunes’ 22nd District have changed their views on LGBT issues in recent years.

“I don’t feel like the people he represents have the identical mindset that he does on gay rights,” Scott said.

Lesbian activist Robin McGehee, a Fresno resident who teaches communications at the College of the Sequoias in nearby Visalia, expressed a similar view. McGehee is co-founder of the national LGBT direct action group GetEqual and one of the lead organizers of the 2009 National March on Washington for LGBT Equality.

“It would be great if more of our state-based organizations and even national organizations were putting boots on the ground and resources in these congressional districts,” she said. “I think we can swing the vote because Nunes is really not liked as well as what would be expected in a farming community like this.”

McGehee added, “There are lots of liberal Democrats that are here. Nunes is the one who’s gotten all the resources. That’s the reason he’s been in that seat as long as he has.”

Nunes has voted against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the law that prohibited gays from serving openly in the U.S. military. According to the HRC Congressional Scorecard, Nunes has declined to back all of the LGBT supportive bills pending in Congress, including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which calls for banning private sector employment discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

He also opposes legal recognition of same-sex marriage and has declined to support or co-sponsor legislation to repeal the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

Jack Langer, director of communications for Nunes’ congressional office in Washington, said he would make inquires to determine if Nunes has changed his position on LGBT issues since the release of the HRC Scorecard in October 2010. Langer didn’t get back with a response by Wednesday afternoon.

HRC is scheduled to release an updated version of its Congressional Scorecard in October. People familiar with Nunes’ voting record and positions have said he doesn’t appear to have changed his views on LGBT issues.

Scott of Gay Fresno said he wrote a letter to Nunes’ office urging him to take a more supportive posture on LGBT-related issues. He said the response he received was a terse refusal to back any of the bills or positions he inquired about.

“I was surprised that the response I received went further than the Republican talking points you would expect from a member of Congress,” Scott said. “It looked like it came from one of the anti-gay groups.”

Scott said he knows of no local LGBT political advocacy groups in Nunes’ district or in any locations within the Central Valley. While the statewide group Equality California gets involved in some issues in the region, for the most part LGBT people in the region have been left to fend for themselves, Scott said.

He and McGehee said an effective advocacy campaign for LGBT equality, especially through TV ads, could have resulted in far more votes in the Central Valley against Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure approved by California voters that bans same-sex marriage in the state constitution. McGehee said the No on 8 campaign had little or no presence in the Central Valley other than to provide campaign signs.

“I think voter education is an important part of this,” Scott said, adding that a concerted effort by national and state advocacy groups to promote LGBT rights in the region would significantly boost the chances for electing pro-LGBT candidates to Congress and state offices in the Central Valley region.

Leno, the gay state senator, points to a plan developed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that strategically targets eight congressional districts in California that are held by Republicans or are vacant due to redistricting.

The plan, dubbed “Red to Blue 2012,”calls for sending money and logistical support to the Democratic candidates running in those districts from the National Democratic Party and Democratic contributors from across the country.

One of the targeted races is in the newly created 41st District in the Los Angeles area, where gay Democrat Mark Takano is said to have a good chance of winning in an area with a solid Democratic majority. Takano is receiving logistical and financial support under the Red to Blue campaign.

Another district targeted is the redrawn 36th in the Palm Springs area, which is held by Republican Mary Bono Mack. The Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Bono Mack in 2010 but have yet to do so this year, according to an endorsement list on the group’s website.

Bono Mack received a rating of 53 on the HRC Scorecard in 2010, the highest rating of any Republican in the state.

The newly drawn 22nd Congressional District where Devin Nunes is running for re-election to his sixth term in office is not one of the districts targeted in the Red to Blue 2012 campaign. The Red to Blue 2012 campaign is targeting just three of the 14 California districts where the GOP incumbent had a 0 HRC Scorecard rating. The three targeted districts are not in the Central Valley region.

Nunes is being challenged by Democrat Otto Lee, a Chinese-American businessman and U.S. Navy veteran who served in the first Gulf War and later, as a commander in the Navy Reserves, was recalled to active duty during the Iraq war.

Lee is a former city council member and former mayor of Sunnyvale, Calif., in the state’s Silicon Valley area, which is located more than 100 miles away from the 22nd Congressional District. The fact that he and his family moved to the district earlier this year has prompted Nunes supporters to call him a carpetbagger.

Brandon Fisk, an official with the Fresno County Democratic Party Central Committee, said voters would likely view Lee’s experience as an accomplished businessman, Navy Reserves commander, and “public servant” in Sunnyvale as an asset that will help him better serve as a congressman in the Fresno area.

“Nobody called him a carpetbagger when he served in Iraq,” Fisk said.

Scott and McGehee said that although Lee has not mentioned LGBT issues in his campaign speeches he has made it known in the district that he would be supportive on LGBT issues in Congress. Scott said the Lee campaign reserved space to set up a booth at an LGBT Pride festival scheduled for Saturday in Visalia.

Although Congress in the past three-and-a-half years has passed legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and to approve a hate crimes law that allows the federal government to prosecute hate crimes against LGBT people, all other LGBT supportive bills have remained stalled in committee.

Some LGBT advocates have said they are especially troubled over the inability of the Democrats to arrange for the passage of ENDA when they controlled both the House and Senate in 2009 and 2010. Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) have said Democratic supporters, who far outnumbered Republicans committed to backing ENDA, had the votes to pass the bill itself but not to defeat one or more hostile amendments expected to be introduced by opponents of the bill.

Frank said a head count taken by House Democratic leaders found that supporters would fall short by a dozen or more votes in an effort to defeat an amendment calling for banning transgender people from certain jobs such as schoolteachers.

It was due to that uncertainty that Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders chose not to bring up ENDA for a vote at the time, according to Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill.

Most political observers say ENDA and most other LGBT bills would have little or no chance of passing in the next two years if Republicans retain control of the House. Pelosi and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s leaders say they are hopeful that Democrats will win the 25 House seats they need to regain control of the House in the November election.

McGehee and other LGBT advocates, however, say if Democrats win a majority in the House, nearly all of the new members making up their majority will likely be from swing districts with many conservative, Republican leaning voters. Unless advocacy groups and the Democrats do the outreach work needed to change the hearts and minds of voters on LGBT issues in places like California’s Central Valley, Democrats may not be able to garner the votes needed to pass ENDA and other gay bills, the advocates say.

“Could we do more about this?” asked gay California Assemblyman and former San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano. “Absolutely,” he said.

Ammiano said he was hopeful that the growing number of LGBT supportive members of the state legislature and in county and municipal offices throughout the state would serve as a “farm team” for future LGBT friendly members of Congress.

LGBT advocates note that while California has the distinction of having 14 congressional districts with anti-LGBT incumbents, the largest number of U.S. House members with a 0 HRC rating of any state, California also has the most members of Congress with a perfect 100 HRC rating — 21 House members and both U.S. senators, Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

“California certainly is a progressive state and is becoming ever bluer every year,” said Leno.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.



Acclaimed gay doctor to be honored at LGBT History Month event

Pediatric cardiologist moved from Louisiana to N.Y. in protest over anti-LGBTQ bills



Dr. Jake Kleinmahon, his husband Tom, and their kids.

Dr. Jake Kleinmahon, a gay pediatric cardiologist and pediatric heart transplant specialist, is scheduled to be honored Oct. 1 by the Equality Forum at its annual LGBT History Month Kickoff and Awards Celebration in Philadelphia.

He has been named a recipient of the Equality Forum’s 28th annual International Role Model Award. 

Kleinmahon became the subject of national news media coverage in early August when he announced he was leaving the state of Louisiana with his husband and two children and ending his highly acclaimed medical practice in New Orleans after the state legislature passed bills targeting the LGBTQ community.

He had been working since 2018 as the medical director of pediatric heart transplant, heart failure, and ventricular assist device programs at Ochsner Hospital for Children in New Orleans.

Kleinmahon told the Washington Blade his and his family’s decision to leave New Orleans was a difficult one to make. He said it came after the Republican-controlled Louisiana Legislature passed three anti-LGBTQ bills, including a so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill targeting public schools and a bill banning transition-related medical care for transgender youth.

The state’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, vetoed all three bills. But the legislature overturned his veto of the bill banning transition-related medical care for trans minors beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

Kleinmahon said he and his family moved at the end of August to Long Island, N.Y., after he accepted a new job as director of pediatric heart transplant, heart failure and ventricular assist devices at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in the town of New Hyde Park, which is located along the border of the Borough of Queens in New York City and Nassau County, Long Island.

“The decision to leave is not one that we took lightly at all,” Kleinmahon told the Blade. “And it was not one because I got a better job or other factors,” he said. “The main driver for it was that as we realized where things were going, we were raising our children in a state that was actively trying to make laws against your family,” he said in a phone interview. “And that’s not the type of environment that we want to raise our kids in.”

Kleinmahon said he and his husband Thomas timed their move to Long Island at the end of August so their daughter, who’s seven, could begin school at the start of the school year and their son, who’s four, could begin pre-kindergarten sessions.

“We have been open with our children about why we’re moving because we think it’s important that they carry on this message as well,” said Kleinmahon, who noted that his daughter expressed support for the move.

“We were at the dinner table one night and we were explaining what happened,” Kleinmahon said. “And she goes, you know daddy, we do have a choice, but there is only one good one. And she agreed with our moving to New York.”  

Kleinmahon acknowledges that some in New Orleans, which is considered an LGBTQ supportive city in general, questioned his decision to leave on grounds that the two bills that would directly impact him and his family did not become law because the governor’s veto of the two bills were upheld.

“One of the things I’ve heard is that none of these really directly affect a family because the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill didn’t go into effect, and my children are not transgender, and I don’t work in a transgender clinic,” he told the Blade.

“But that’s really not the point,” he continued. “The way we think about it as a family, the people who are elected officials that are supposed to take care of the people in their state are casting votes against our families,” he points out. “So, sure, while the laws may not be in effect this year, certainly there’s a push to get them passed. And why would we want to remain in a state that is trying to push forward hateful laws?”

He said he will begin his new job at Cohen Children’s Medical Center on Long Island on Nov. 1.

“They have been incredibly supportive,” Kleinmahon said. “They have actually encouraged me to be open with why we left Louisiana,” he said. “And they have a Pride resource group that’s reached out to me to lend their support,” he said, adding that the hospital and its parent company have been “exceptional in helping us make this transition.”

During his medical practice at Ochsner Hospital for Children in New Orleans, Kleinmahon has been credited with helping to save the lives of many children suffering from heart-related ailments. He said his decision to leave behind his colleagues and patients was difficult.

“Unfortunately, it had ramifications for the kids in Louisiana, which was the hardest part for me,” he said. “And the reason for that is I was one of three pediatric heart transplant cardiologists, and I was the director of the only pediatric heart transplant program in Louisiana.”

He added, “While there are two other fantastic heart transplant cardiologists in Louisiana, the ability to keep a program running that serves an entire state needs a full army of people. And me leaving took 33 percent of that army away.”

He said he was also one of just two pediatric pulmonary hypertension providers in the state, and he just learned that the other provider had also left Louisiana recently. Pulmonary hypertension doctors provide treatment for people with the condition of high blood pressure in their lungs.

Regarding his extensive experience in treating and caring for children with heart disease, Kleinmahon, in response to a question from the Blade, said about 400 children receive heart transplants in the U.S. each year.

While heart transplants for kids are not as frequent as those for adults, he said kids needing a heart transplant and their families “deal with a tremendous amount of stress and medical appointments that really change their life,” including the need to take medication to prevent the body from rejecting a new heart for the rest of the children’s lives.

“My hope as a transplant doctor is that I can get these kids to live as normal a life as possible,” he said.

In addition to presenting its International Role Model Award to Kleinmahon, the Equality Forum was scheduled on Oct. 1 at its LGBT History Month event to present its Frank Kameny Award to Rue Landau, the first LGBTQ Philadelphia City Councilperson. It was also scheduled to present a Special Memorial Tribute to the late Lilli Vincenz, the longtime D.C.-area lesbian activist and filmmaker credited with being a pioneering LGBTQ rights activist beginning in the early 1960s.

“I am beyond humble to receive this award that is really not an award for me but is an award for my family and for families like ours and for people that are going to continue to fight discriminatory policies,” Kleinmahon said.

Blade editor Kevin Naff will present Kleinmahon with the award on Oct. 1 in Philadelphia.

“Dr. Kleinmahon and his family took a brave stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community and they deserve our gratitude,” Naff said. “I’m excited and honored to present him with the International Role Model Award.”

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Federal Government

Attorney details the harms of waiving anti-discrimination rules for religious universities

Incentives aligned for continuation of anti-LGBTQ discrimination



The Lyndon Baines Johnson Building, Washington D.C., headquarters of the U.S. Department of Education (Photo Credit: GSA/U.S. Dept. of Education)

Democratic lawmakers re-introduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act on Friday, which marked the 13th anniversary of the 18-year-old New Jersey college student’s death by suicide after he was targeted with homophobic harassment by his peers.

The bill, which establishes cyberbullying as a form of harassment, directing colleges and universities to share anti-harassment policies to current and prospective students and employees, was introduced by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) and Patty Murray (Wash.), along with U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (Wis.), Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus.

Advocacy groups including the Tyler Clementi Foundation, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and The Trevor Project have endorsed the legislation, which comes as issues concerning anti-LGBTQ harassment in institutions of higher education have earned renewed scrutiny on Capitol Hill and beyond.

Earlier this month, the Washington Blade connected with an expert to discuss these and other subjects: Paul Southwick, a Portland, Oregon-based litigation attorney who leads a legal advocacy group focused on religious institutions of higher education and their treatment of LGBTQ and other marginalized communities.

On Tuesday, he shared a statement responding to Friday’s reintroduction of the Tyler Clementi bill, stressing the need for equal enforcement of its provisions in light of efforts by conservative Christian schools to avoid oversight and legal liability for certain federal civil rights regulations:

“We are still evaluating the bill regarding how the bill would interact with the religious exemption in Title IX,” Southwick said. “We fully support the expansion of anti-harassment protections for students and corresponding requirements for educational institutions.”

He added, “We also believe that such protections and requirements should extend to students at taxpayer funded, religiously affiliated educational institutions, regardless of whether those institutions claim, or receive, an assurance of religious exemption from Title IX regulations” through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Baylor University’s unprecedented Title IX exemption

In response to a request from Baylor University, a conservative Baptist college located in Waco, Texas, the Education Department in July granted a first of its kind religious-based exemption from federal regulations governing harassment, a form of sex-based discrimination proscribed under Title IX.

Southwick explained that during the Obama administration, the federal government began to understand and recognize discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as forms of sex-based discrimination covered by the statute. The Biden-Harris administration issued a directive for the Education Department to formalize the LGBTQ inclusive definitions under Title IX, with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that is now underway at the agency.

Beginning with the Department’s 2010 “dear colleague” letter clarifying the administration’s view that discrimination against LGBTQ people constitutes sex-based discrimination under the law, Southwick said the pushback from religious schools was immediate. In the years since, many have successfully petitioned the Education Department for “exemptions so they can discriminate against queer, trans and non-binary people,” but these carveouts were limited “to things like admissions, housing, athletics.”

No one had argued that “federally funded educational institutions [should] have no regulation by the federal government as to whether they’re protecting their students from harassment,” he remarked – at least not until the Baylor case.

Addressing the unprecedented move in a letter to the Department on September 5, U.S. Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Greg Casar (D-Texas), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) urged the agency to “clarify the narrow scope of this exemption and assure students at religious institutions that they continue to have protections against sex-based harassment.”

Southwick told the Blade other members of Congress have expressed an interest in the matter, as have some progressive nonprofit groups.

Asked for comment, a spokesperson for the Department confirmed receipt of the lawmakers’ letter and said the agency will respond to the members.

The Department’s issuance of the exemption to Baylor came despite an open investigation into the university by its Office of Civil Rights over a Title IX complaint brought in 2021 by Southwick’s organization, the Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP), on behalf of a queer student who claimed she was subjected to homophobic abuse from other students while university officials to whom she reported the harassment failed to intervene.

It is not yet clear whether the agency will close its investigation as a result of its decision to exempt Baylor from Title IX’s harassment rules.

Veronica Bonifacio Penales, the student behind the complaint against Baylor, is also a plaintiff in REAP’s separate class action lawsuit challenging the Education Department’s practice of waving Title IX rules for faith-based colleges and universities – which, the plaintiffs argue, facilitates anti-LGBTQ discrimination in violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

The case, Hunter v. U.S. Department of Education, is on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Other religious schools are likely to follow Baylor’s lead

Southwick said the agency’s decision in the Baylor case “puts students at risk of harassment without a civil remedy against their school’s failures to properly address harassment,” adding, “Taxpayer funded educational institutions, whether religious or secular, should never be permitted to escape oversight from OCR in how they handle anti-harassment claims from LGBTQIA+ or other students protected by federal non-discrimination law.”

Buoyed by Baylor’s successful effort, requesting exemptions to Title IX rules for purposes of allowing the harassment of LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff is likely to become routine practice for many of America’s conservative institutions of higher education, Southwick said.

The nonprofit group Campus Pride maintains a list of America’s “absolute worst, most unsafe campuses for LGBTQ youth,” schools that “received and/or applied for a Title IX exemption to discriminate against LGBTQ youth, and/or demonstrated past history and track record of anti-LGBTQ actions, programs and practices.”

193 colleges and universities have met the criteria.

Many of the thousands of LGBTQ students enrolled in these institutions often have insufficient support, Southwick said, in part because “a lot of the larger civil rights organizations and queer rights organizations are very occupied, and rightly so, with pushing back against anti-trans legislation in the public sphere.”

Regardless, even in America’s most conservative schools like Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, Southwick noted that pro-equality students, faculty, and staff have pushed for change.

He added that while there are, no doubt, young people who harbor anti-LGBTQ views, “they often become much more progressive the longer they’re in school, because there’s just queer people coming out everywhere, you know, and it’s hard to hate people who are your friends.”

The powerful influence and role of financial incentives  

Southwick said meaningful reform at the institutional level is made more difficult by the reality that “financial incentives from the government and from the market are aligned to favor the continuation of discrimination.”

“Once the money stops flowing, they will almost all instantly change their policies and start protecting queer students,” he said, but added that colleges and universities have little reason to change without the risk that discriminatory policies and practices will incur meaningful consequences, like the loss of government funding and accreditation.

Another challenge, Southwick said, is the tendency of institutions of higher education to often prioritize the wishes and interests of moneyed alumni networks, boards of trustees, and donors, groups that generally skew older and tend to be more conservative.

Southwick said when he and his colleagues at REAP discuss proposed pro-LGBTQ reforms with contacts at conservative religious universities, they are warned “over and over again,” that “donors will be angry.”

Following the establishment of nationwide prohibitions against segregation and other forms of racial discrimination with passage of the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which applied to public schools, and Runyon v. McCrary (1976), which covered private schools, Southwick noted that “A lot of Christian schools and college colleges continued to deny admission to black students.”

One by one, however, the so-called “segregation academies” would permanently close their doors or agree to racial integration, Southwick said – buckling under pressure from the U.S. government’s categorical denial of federal funding to these institutions, coupled with other factors like the decision of many professional associations to deny membership to their professors and academics.

Another important distinction, Southwick added: unlike Title IX, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “does not have a religious exemption.”

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Puerto Rico

Two men charged with attacking trans Puerto Rican woman plead guilty to federal hate crimes charges

Alexa Negrón Luciano attacked with paintball gun before her murder



(Bigstock photo)

Two men on Monday pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes charges in connection with attacking a transgender woman in Puerto Rico in 2020.

A Justice Department press release notes Jordany Laboy Garcia, Christian Rivera Otero and Anthony Lobos Ruiz “were out driving together” in Toa Baja, a municipality that is about 15 miles west of San Juan, early on Feb. 24, 2020, “when they saw” Alexa Negrón Luciano “standing under a tent near the side of the road.”

“The defendants recognized A.N.L. from social media posts concerning an incident that had occurred the day prior at a McDonald’s in Toa Baja,” reads the press release. “During that incident, A.N.L. had used a stall in the McDonald’s women’s restroom.”

“Upon recognizing A.N.L., Lobos-Ruiz used his iPhone to record a video of himself yelling, ‘la loca, la loca,’ (‘the crazy woman, the crazy woman’) as well as other disparaging and threatening comments to A.N.L. from inside the car,” it notes. “The defendants then decided to get a paintball gun to shoot A.N.L. and record another iPhone video. Within 30 minutes, they retrieved a paintball gun and returned to the location where they had last seen A.N.L., who was still at that location. Lobos-Ruiz then used his iPhone to record Laboy-Garcia shooting at A.N.L. multiple times with the paintball gun. After the assault ended, Lobos Ruiz shared the iPhone video recordings with others.”

Negrón was later killed in Toa Baja.

Laboy and Rivera pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a hate crime and obstruction of justice. El Nuevo Día, a Puerto Rican newspaper, notes a federal judge sentenced Lobos to two years and nine months in prison after he pleaded guilty to hate crimes charges last November.

Laboy and Rivera are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 10.

They, along with Lobos, have not been charged with Negrón’s murder.

“To assault an innocent victim who posed no threat to the defendants for no other reason than her gender identity is reprehensible behavior that will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow for the District of Puerto Rico in the Justice Department’s press release. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend the rights of all people, regardless of their gender identity, to be free from hate-fueled violence. Our community must stand together against acts of violence motivated by hate for any group of people — we remain steadfast in our commitment to prosecute civil rights violations and keep our communities safe and free from fear.”

Pedro Julio Serrano, spokesperson for Puerto Rico Para Todes, a Puerto Rican LGBTQ rights group, on Tuesday welcomed the guilty pleas. Serrano also urged authorities to bring those who killed Negrón to justice. 

“The time for total justice for Alexa is now,” said Serrano in a press release. “Her murder was a hate crime. Nobody doubts this. They falsely accused her, persecuted her, hunted her, insulted her with transphobic epithets, uploaded onto social media a video of them accosting her and they killed her. There are already three individuals who will serve time in federal prison for attacking her in a hate crime. That’s some justice, but not complete.” 

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