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Log Cabin issues ‘qualified endorsement’ of Romney

Move comes despite GOP support for Federal Marriage Amendment

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R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Log Cabin Republicans announced on Tuesday morning that it’s giving a “qualified endorsement” to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney after months of speculation over whether the gay GOP group would back the candidate despite his anti-gay views.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the organization, announced that Log Cabin’s board had elected to endorse Romney in a statement because supporting the candidate is the right decision “for our members, our community and for the nation as a whole.”

“Despite our disagreement with Gov. Romney on the issue of marriage, on balance it is clear that in today’s economic climate, concern for the future of our country must be the highest priority,” Cooper said. “We are Republicans, and we agree with Gov. Romney’s vision for America in which success is a virtue, equal opportunity is ensured, and leaders recognize that it is the American people, not government, that build our nation and fuel its prosperity. On issues of  particular concern to the LGBT community, we believe Governor Romney will move the ball forward compared to past Republican presidents. No matter who is in the White House, it is crucial our community always has a credible voice speaking out on behalf of LGBT Americans. Log Cabin Republicans will be that voice to President Mitt Romney.”

Log Cabin also sent a statement to supporters via email saying the organization is giving Romney a “qualified endorsement” and the organization will “be most active” in supporting previously endorsed House and Senate candidates — such as Richard Tisei in Massachusetts and Rep. Nan Haywoth (R-N.Y.), a member of LGBT Equality Caucus — as opposed to getting more involved in the presidential election.

Cooper told the Washington Blade that Log Cabin’s 15-member board made the decision to endorse Romney earlier this month by a vote of 14-1. Cooper declined to identify the dissenting member of the board and wouldn’t immediately offer the exact date for when the board made the decision.

The endorsement for Romney comes even though Romney has signed an agreement with the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage to back a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and establish a presidential commission on religious liberty to investigate the harassment of opponents of same-sex marriage. In 2004, Log Cabin withheld the endorsement from then-President George W. Bush largely because of his support for a Federal Marriage Amendment.

Log Cabin’s email to supporters explains the decision to endorse Romney despite his decision to sign this pledge and back a Federal Marriage Amendment, saying “2012 is not 2004. The Federal Marriage Amendment has been voted on twice, and each time has failed with bipartisan opposition.”

“While even the suggestion of enshrining discrimination in our nation’s most precious document is deeply offensive, there is a significant difference between a valid threat and an empty promise made to a vocal but shrinking constituency,” the email states. “In our judgment, the NOM pledge is ultimately merely symbolic and thus should not be the basis of a decision to withhold an endorsement from an otherwise qualified candidate, particularly given the gravity of the economic and national security issues currently at stake.”

Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokesperson, thanked Log Cabin for its endorsement in response to an email inquiry from the Washington Blade.

“Gov. Romney is pleased to have the support of the Log Cabin Republicans and looks forward to working together for the future of our country,” Saul said.

Jamie Citron, the Obama campaign’s LGBT vote director, rebuked the gay GOP group for endorsing Romney based on the candidate’s previously articulated anti-gay positions.

“If the Log Cabin Republicans are interested in supporting a candidate who would have left ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ in place and has committed to enshrining discrimination into the constitution, then it is an endorsement that is best suited for Mitt Romney,” Citron said.

Individuals working to re-elect Obama to the White House expressed displeasure over the decision. Among them was Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, who slammed Log Cabin for endorsing Romney and called the organization a sell-out to the LGBT community.

“The Log Cabin Republicans have proven once and for all that they are not an organization aligned with the LGBT movement,” Davis said. “They are a Republican front group bumbling their way into fooling LGBT voters that it’s OK to support a party that would legislate us back into the closet.”

Davis added that the endorsement decision was a “disgrace” and motivating factors other than Romney’s record were in play.

“This is politics at its worst — when a community sells out its own people for the gain of a few individuals,” Davis said. “There is little doubt that Clarke Coooper’s position on the RNC finance committee played a major role in this decision. Of course, so did their blinding fear of GOProud nipping at their heels.”

Previously, Cooper told the Washington Blade that Log Cabin was seeking clarity on Romney’s position on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act before making an endorsement decision and was seeking to meet with the Romney campaign about the issue. Romney supported the legislation as a U.S. Senate candidate in 1994, but has since backed away from that support and hasn’t talked about the bill during the 2012 presidential campaign. In the email to supporters explaining the endorsement, Cooper said on the issue of workplace discrimination, “we are persuaded that we can work with a Romney administration to achieve a desirable outcome.”

The “qualified” endorsement is akin to the qualified endorsement for the candidate that gay former U.S. House Rep. Jim Kolbe gave to Romney in an interview with the Washington Blade during the Republican National Convention based on the candidate’s business background despite his opposition to same-sex marriage.

R. Clarke Cooper, Mitt Romney, Jim Kolbe, Republican Party, Election 2012, Log Cabin Republicans, gay news, Washington Blade

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney (center) with Log Cabin’s R. Clarke Cooper (left) and former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (photo courtesy Log Cabin)

The statement also includes a photo of Cooper with Romney and Kolbe. The file name for the photo denotes a meeting between Romney and Log Cabin on Oct. 17 in Leesburg, Va. It’s not immediately clear whether the photo was from a meeting in which Romney’s position on ENDA came up.

In the statement announcing the endorsement, Log Cabin also provided words from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who endorsed Romney during the primary, and Ted Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general who’s leading a lawsuit against California’s Proposition 8, but helped the Romney campaign with debate prep.

Ros-Lehtinen, a supporter of marriage equality who’s known as being one of the most pro-LGBT Republican lawmakers in Congress, praised the endorsement.

“Our nation needs common sense solutions to fixing our economy and creating private sector jobs and Gov. Romney will provide us with the strong leadership we need at this critical time,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Gov. Romney understands that businesses need less government regulation and lower taxes. Romney is the right man for our time. I am pleased that Log Cabin Republicans is endorsing Gov. Romney. I know that all of us together will fight for equality for all Americans, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.”

Olson emphasized that both he and Log Cabin support Romney for president and marriage equality at the same time.

“Like the Log Cabin Republicans, I am proud to support Governor Romney for president, and I am proud to be an advocate for the freedom to marry,” Cooper said. “This endorsement speaks to Log Cabin’s principled belief in equality for all Americans, and the pragmatic recognition that our nation is in need of new leadership. Getting our fiscal house in order is more than an economic imperative – it’s a moral imperative. Gay or straight, Americans deserve a president who will secure a future for our children that doesn’t leave them buried in debt.”

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Stephen Clark

    October 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    There is no such thing as a "qualified endorsement." Voting is a yes or no choice. Cooper can't have his tax cut AND his gay rights, no matter how much double-speak he issues.

    LCR has made its choice. It has chosen party first, gay a very distant second–just like Barney Frank. As far as I'm concerned, there is no longer any meaningful difference between LCR and GOProud. I don't regard either as a credible voice of the gay community.

    I wish them luck in their new gay-bashing partnership with Tony Perkins.

  2. Diane McLaughlin

    October 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Dumbasses

  3. Tom

    October 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I think it’s fairer to say that their decision simply represents the 30 percent of our community who vote Republican in national elections. We’re not a monolithic group.

  4. Barrie Daneker

    October 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Just goes to show you that the LCR are fucking clueless. I suggest they all take a weekend in MA and talk to people there about what Romney not only did to the LGBT community but that he was never a bi-partisan in the least bit during his term as governor. The Dems overrode 800 of his vetoes. So LCR’s are going to suffer again because as they put it money is more important than civilization and civil rights!

  5. Michelle Seyner

    October 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    They are endorsing a proven liar. I'd say that's a sketchy deal!

  6. Adrian Salsgiver

    October 23, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    The GOP is a criminal organization. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is an agent of the New World Order Conspiracy.

    http://youtu.be/iv4llVSNL9c

  7. Willie Braxton

    October 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    8 years of Romney/Ryan would set LGBT people back at least 20 years since at least 2 Surpreme Court Justices would retire in that time.

  8. Mykelb

    October 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Chris Barron is just another KAPO living in a MONEY BUBBLE.

  9. Sanford Reece

    October 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    IT would be so nice if you "Log Cabin Republicans" or for that matte, r ALL REPUBLICANS would "get it"… It's NOT JUST ABOUT MONEY AND JOBS…."IT'S" about making the world a better place and moving MANKIND and AMERICA physically, mentally and spiritually FORWARD.
    Republicans seem to MOSTLY to care about MONEY and MAKING SURE THEY are taken care of. All you REPUBLICANS seem to care about is yourselves and YOUR BELIEFS. I, very seldom, hear a Republican voice that seems to give a rats…… about the earth, others people health care, how America is viewed by the rest of the world or ALL human rites. It's ALL ABOUT MONEY TO YOU PEOPLE.

    This quote comes from someone who is gay, needs healthcare and has been denied time and time again, grew up very poor, lives pay check to pay check, pays taxes and doesn't mind paying more if it makes the lives of others better, believes in GOD but doesn't judge or fault those who do not, loves children but doesn't want to have any. Donates to many causes. Recycles, has worked hard all his life, has over come many health and mental issues and TURELY CARES about people other than myself. Even people I don't know. EVEN REPUBLICANS.. I just wish you would get your heads out of your own ass's!

  10. Sanford Reece

    October 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    IT would be so nice if you "Log Cabin Republicans" or for that matter, ALL REPUBLICANS would "get it"… It's NOT JUST ABOUT MONEY AND JOBS…."IT'S" about making the world a better place and moving MANKIND and AMERICA physically, mentally and spiritually FORWARD.
    Republicans seem to MOSTLY to care about MONEY and MAKING SURE THEY are taken care of. All you REPUBLICANS seem to care about is yourselves and YOUR BELIEFS. I, very seldom, hear a Republican voice that seems to give a rats…… about the earth, others people health care, how America is viewed by the rest of the world or ALL human rites. It's ALL ABOUT MONEY TO YOU PEOPLE.

    This quote comes from someone who is gay, needs healthcare and has been denied time and time again, grew up very poor, lives pay check to pay check, pays taxes and doesn't mind paying more if it makes the lives of others better, believes in GOD but doesn't judge or fault those who do not, loves children but doesn't want to have any. Donates to many causes. Recycles, has worked hard all his life, has over come many health and mental issues and TURELY CARES about people other than myself. Even people I don't know. EVEN REPUBLICANS.. I just wish you would get your heads out of your own ass's!

    • Tim Rogers

      October 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm

      i"m gay and proudly voting Romney/Ryan!!!!!

    • Cynthia Ragan Martin

      October 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      Chicken voting for Colonel Sanders just appeared in my itty bitty brain.

  11. I'm Just Sayin

    October 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Thirty years from now when some historian makes a documentary about how gay self-loathing hindered the advancement of equality, it will be called “14 Opportunists and the Voice of Reason.”

  12. Anonymous

    October 23, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Bad call, friends. Romney is in the pocket of the right wing evangelical haters who think you are human garbage. Bad call.

  13. RCS

    October 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Log Cabin has just made a laughingstock of itself by endorsing a candidate who not only opposes marriage equality, but who, also, opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell.” It would have been far better to refrain from endorsing the Republican candidate and to instead urge its members and all Republicans to work to pass gay marriage in the states in which it is on the ballot this election.

  14. Vivian Fisher

    October 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I think you have made a patriotic decision. After the first debate one of Obama's criticisms of Romney was "that's not STATESMANSHIP, that's SALESMANSHIP." This is the basic problem with Obama – he can't or won't SELL his ideas to the people or to the Congress by working with them, so he FORCES what he wants on everyone. More than anything else now, we need BIPARTISANSHIP, and we will not get it from Obama.

  15. Lee Sills

    October 24, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Log Cabin Republicans, or Jews for Hitler. Delusion is delusion no matter how you spin it. Using the Nazis as a reference many political Jewish Bankers voted for social change in the 1930's and change certainly happened. Hitler built a new world order and paid for it on the backs of the people who elected him and then it was to late. I am for smaller government, and I don't like social welfare give away programs. I don't want higher taxes but today's Republican party is not our forefathers party. It is almost 2013 and the bile and hatred coming out of the party today should not be rewarded. I hardly think Mr. Copper would be so smug if in the middle of the night he was arrested for just spending a quiet night at home with his partner. Having all rights removed and having his personal assets seized. Cant happen today. It happened in Germany and it happened here with the Japanese Americans. Grow Up, don't condone the wrong practices just because you so long to fit in and sit at the big boy table. Make your voice matter. If Romney is elected interest rates will double, he will alienate China and while that sounds powerful China currently holds the majority of Americas dept and could force us to have record breaking inflation.

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National

In a historic first, Colorado now has a 1st gentleman as Gov. Polis marries

The governor and his now husband decided to hold their nuptials on the 18th anniversary of their first date

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Governor Jared Polis and 1st Gentleman Marlon Reis exchange vows (Screenshot via CBS News Denver)

DENVER – Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis married his longtime partner Marlon Reis in a ceremony that marked the first same-sex marriage of a sitting Out governor in the United States.

The couple was married Wednesday in a small traditional Jewish ceremony at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where Reis had matriculated and graduated from. The governor and his now husband decided to hold their nuptials on the 18th anniversary of their first date.

“We met online and went out on a date and we went to the Boulder bookstore and then went to dinner,” Polis told KCFR-FM, Colorado Public Radio (CPR).

In addition to family and close friends in attendance, the couple’s two children participated with their 7-year-old daughter serving as the flower girl and their 9-year-old son as the ring bearer.

The governor joked that their daughter was probably more thrilled than anyone about the wedding. “She was all in on being a flower girl. She’s been prancing around. She got a great dress. She’s terrific,” he said CPR reported.

Their son was also happy, but more ambivalent about it all according to Reis. “Kids are so modern that their responses to things are sometimes funny. Our son honestly asked us, ‘Why do people get married?”

Colorado’s chief executive, sworn in as the 43rd governor of Colorado in January 2019, over the course of nearly 20 years as a political activist and following in public service as an elected official has had several ‘firsts’ to his credit.

In 2008 Polis is one of the few people to be openly Out when first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as well as being the first gay parent to serve in the Congress. Then on November 6, 2018, he was the first openly gay governor elected in Colorado and in the United States.

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Gov. Jared Polis And First Gentleman Marlon Reis Are Newlyweds

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U.S. Catholic theologians call for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections

Joint statement says church teachings support equality

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More than 750 of the nation’s leading Catholic theologians, church leaders, scholars, educators, and writers released a joint statement on Sept. 14 expressing strong support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

The six-page theological statement, “A Home for All: A Catholic Call for LGBTQ Non-Discrimination,” was scheduled to be published along with the names of its 759 signatories as a four-page advertisement on Sept. 17 in the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper widely read by Catholic clergy and laypeople.

The statement was initiated by New Ways Ministry, a Mount Rainier, Md., based Catholic group that advocates for equality for LGBTQ people within the church and society at large.

“As Catholic theologians, scholars, church leaders, writers, and ministers, we affirm that Catholic teaching presents a positive case for ending discrimination against LGBTQ people,” the statement says. “We affirm the Second Vatican Council’s demand that ‘any kind of social or cultural discrimination…must be curbed and eradicated,’” it says.

“We affirm that Catholic teaching should not be used to further oppress LGBTQ people by denying rights rooted in their inherent human dignity and in the church’s call for social equality,” the statement adds.

The statement notes that its signers recognize that a “great debate” is currently taking place within the Catholic Church about whether same-gender relationships and transgender identities should be condoned or supported.

“That is a vital discussion for the future of Catholicism, and one to which we are whole-heartedly committed,” the statement continues. “What we are saying in this statement, however, is relatively independent of that debate, and the endorsers of this statement may hold varied, and even opposing, opinions on sexual and gender matters,” it says.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministries executive director, said his organization and the signers of the statement feel the issue of nondiscrimination for LGBTQ people can and should be supported by Catholic leaders and the church itself even if some are not yet ready to support same-sex marriage and sexual and gender identity matters.

“LGBTQ non-discrimination is being debated at all levels in our society, and the Catholic perspective on this is often misrepresented, even by some church leaders,” DeBernardo said. “Catholics who have studied and reflected deeply on this topic agree that non-discrimination is the most authentic Catholic position,” he said. 

DeBernardo said those who helped draft the statement decided it would be best to limit it to a theological appeal and argument for LGBTQ equality and non-discrimination and not to call for passage of specific legislation such as the Equality Act, the national LGBTQ civil rights bill pending in the U.S. Congress.

The Equality Act calls for amending existing federal civil rights laws to add nondiscrimination language protecting LGBTQ people in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations. The U.S. House approved the legislation, but the Senate has yet to act on it.

“We wanted this to be a theological statement, not a political statement,” DeBernardo said.

He said organizers of the project to prepare the statement plan to send it, among other places, to the Vatican in Rome and to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has expressed opposition to the Equality Act.

Among the key signers of the statement were 242 administrators, faculty, and staff from Sacred Heart University, a Catholic college in Bridgeport, Conn. New Ways Ministries says the statement was circulated by the school’s administration and eight of its top leaders, including President John Petillo, are among the signers.

Some of the prominent writers who signed the statement include Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking;” Richard Rodriquez, author of “Hunger of Memory;” Gary Wills, author of “Lincoln at Gettysburg;” and Gregory Maguire, author of “Wicked.”

The full text of the statement and its list of signatories can be accessed at the New Ways Ministry website.

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Activists reflect on Black Trans Lives Matter movement resurgence

Blade speaks with Alex Santiago, Jasmyne Cannick

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An I Am Human Foundation billboard along Atlanta's Downtown Connector expressway on Feb. 22, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The world came to a standstill last year as a video surfaced online that showed then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd. The video went viral and sparked numerous protests against racism and police brutality in the U.S. and around the world as many people felt it a potent time to relay their frustrations with and to their governments.

For the LGBTQ community, these protests brought to light the need for human rights for transgender individuals as the murders of people like Tony McDade in Florida and Nina Pop in Missouri reawakened the flame within the Black Trans Lives Matter movement.

A tribute to Tony McDade in downtown Asheville, N.C., in June 2020. McDade was a Black transgender man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Tallahassee, Fla., on May 27, 2020. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Washington Blade more than a year later spoke with Alex Santiago, executive director of the I Am Human Foundation in Atlanta, and Jasmyne Cannick, a Democratic political strategist and journalist in Los Angeles, to reflect on last year’s Black Trans Lives Matter movement, how far it has come, and what’s in store for the future. 

Uplifting voices often silenced

Participating in the Black Lives Matter protests was an easy decision for Santiago. He is a member of the Legendary House of Garcon, a ballroom house headquartered in D.C. 

Although the house is composed mostly of LGBTQ members, Santiago still felt the need to center trans voices and experiences by visually representing them during Black Lives Matter marches. 

“[I decided that] when I go I’m going to have signs that say ‘Black Trans Lives Matter.’ After talking to a couple of the people in the house, they said it was a great idea. So, they got these t-shirts made that incorporated the trans colors [baby blue, baby pink and white],” says Santiago.

Out of the 250 people in the Legendary House of Garcon, 175 showed up to D.C. from other states to march in solidarity with Black trans people. Santiago says that from what he was told, his was the largest group of activists representing Black trans lives at protests. 

“At first I thought people were going to look at us crazy, like, ‘Why are you separating yourselves or being exclusive?’. But, we got a great response from the general population that was there that day. It was a good day,” says Santiago.

Cannick, who was in Los Angeles during the protests, lent her efforts to platforming pertinent issues. She identifies herself as an ally and a “friend” to the LGBTQ community. 

“I’m active in the LA community and everybody knows me. So, whenever something happens, someone is hurt, someone is killed or someone needs to get the word out about something that’s going on particularly as it relates to the trans community, I’m always asked to get involved, and I do,” says Cannick. 

Over the past year, she reported on multiple LGBTQ issues including the trial of Ed Buck, a Democratic political fundraiser who was convicted in the deaths of two gay Black men who he injected with methamphetamine in exchange for sex.

What happened to the BTLM movement and what needs to change?

The nature of many social movements is that as the intense emotion surrounding them fades, people’s fervor for change wanes as well. This is especially true with allies who are not directly linked to the cause.

“Fatigue and frustration at the relatively slow pace of change to a growing backlash on the right against efforts to call out systemic racism and white privilege — has led to a decline in white support for the Black Lives Matter movement since last spring, when white support for social justice was at its peak,” US News reports about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cannick believes this is the same for the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. She says Americans allow the media to dictate how it behaves and responds to issues. Thus, when stories “fall out of our media cycles … they fall out of our memories.”

“I think that’s not going to change, and that’s a psychological thing, until we learn how to not let the media necessarily dictate our issues,” says Cannick. 

She suggests that individuals remain plugged into their communities by “doing anything to make sure they keep up with an issue” including following the “right people” on social media and setting up Google alerts for any breaking news. 

Jasmyne Cannick (Photo courtesy of Jasmyne Cannick)

Santiago also echoes Cannick’s sentiments. 

“We wait until something happens before we do something. And, I don’t want to be retroactive; I want to be proactive. I want people to see me when things are going well [and when they’re not going well],” says Santiago. 

Upon returning to his home in Atlanta after the D.C. protests, Santiago contacted a billboard installation company and paid for a billboard labelled, “Black Trans Lives Matter” to be displayed on University Avenue near downtown Atlanta. He says that the billboards got attention and helped to spread much-needed awareness. Following this success, he is now in the process of installing a new billboard labelled, “Black, Trans and Visible. My life Matters.”

“Unless you’re in people’s faces or something drastic happens, people forget. Unless you’re living it, people forget,” says Santiago.

As time progresses, both Santiago and Cannick nest hope for the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. However, this hope can only persist when crucial steps are taken to ensure Black trans individuals around the country are protected, most importantly through legislation.

The New York Times reports there are close to 1,000 elected LGBTQ officials in the U.S., with at least one in each state except Mississippi. 

“We need to have more legislation. We need more voices in power like the council Biden has right now,” says Santiago. 

“You know that [Biden] has a lot of trans people and Black trans people [involved], and a part of that’s a positive step in the right direction, but we need that times 10,” says Santiago.

He believes that political representation should extend to local governance where ordinary Black trans individuals can be trained to assume leadership roles. 

Cannick’s focus is on the Black community. 

“[Trans women] are usually murdered by Black men. If we ever expect that to change, we need to start talking about that,” says Cannick.

She’s open to having conversations that put people, including her as a cis-identifying woman, in uncomfortable and awkward spaces. 

She hosts a podcast titled “Str8 No Chaser” and recently aired an episode, “Why Are Black Men Killing Trans Women,” where she discussed with three Black trans women about the gender and sexuality dynamics within the Black community and their perils. 

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