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Campaign finance complaint filed against Christine Quinn

NYC mayoral candidate challenged over Victory Fund travel reimbursements

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Christine Quinn, New York City, gay news, Washington Blade
Christine Quinn, New York City, gay news, Washington Blade

Christine Quinn (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Brooklyn attorney has filed a complaint against New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn over travel reimbursements she accepted from an LGBT political action committee while raising funds for her mayoral campaign.

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reported that Garfield Heslop filed a complaint with the New York City Campaign Finance Board on June 24 asking it to investigate Quinn over more than $20,000 in contributions her campaign received from donors in Houston, San Diego and Chicago after she attended Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund events in the three cities in 2011 and 2012.

The newspaper reported last month the Victory Fund paid Quinn to travel to the three cities to attend their fundraisers.

Quinn, who hopes to become New York City’s first gay and female mayor, spoke at the Victory Fund’s annual National Champagne Brunch in D.C. in April alongside U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims.

Heslop did not immediately return the Washington Blade’s request for comment, but the Wall Street Journal reported that he wrote in his complaint that Quinn “may have broken both the letter and the spirit of New York City campaign finance laws” when she “participated in fundraisers for both the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and her own mayoral campaign.”

The New York City Conflicts of Interest Board opined on May 5, 2011; Nov. 21, 2011 and Oct. 18, 2012 that the Victory Fund could reimburse Quinn for travel costs to their events because she attended them in her official capacity as an openly gay government official.

The Victory Fund declined comment.

Quinn spokesperson Mike Morey defended the campaign’s actions.

“We work diligently to report any and all costs related to fundraising for the campaign,” he told the Blade. “We continue to review any expenses related to fundraising for the campaign to ensure full compliance of reporting requirements.”

New York City campaign finance records indicate the Victory Fund has contributed $165,078 to Quinn’s mayoral bid as of May 15.

Edith Windsor, the Manhattan widow who successfully challenged the Defense of Marriage Act before the U.S. Supreme Court, is among the prominent LGBT New Yorkers who have endorsed Quinn to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Gracie Mansion. Long-time LGBT rights advocate Allen Roskoff, who co-founded the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, are among Quinn’s most vocal opponents.

“Anyone seeking the highest office in New York City government should avoid even the appearance of the possibility of conflict of interests,” Pauline Park, a Queens, N.Y.,-based transgender activist who frequently criticizes Quinn, told the Blade. “Christine Quinn failed to adhere to that standard when she accepted expense reimbursement from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund for fundraising trips that clearly benefitted her own mayoral campaign as well.”

Quinn’s campaign has raised $7,174,177 and spent $1,342,502 as of the same date. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who declared his candidacy in May, reported $5,139,175 — which includes $4.5 million left over from his 2009 mayoral bid — in his campaign account and spent $869,109 as of May 15.

Republican Joe Lhota, who is the former chair of New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, reported his campaign had raised $1,283,793 and spent $449,089 as of May 15.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC New York/Marist Poll released on June 26 shows Weiner leads Quinn among registered New York City Democrats by a 25-20 percent margin. A Quinnipiac University survey released on the same day found Quinn ahead of Weiner by a 19-17 percent margin.

Former New York City Comptroller William Thompson came in third among Democratic voters in the five boroughs with 16 percent.

The New York City primary will take place on September 10.

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Virginia

Lawsuit seeks to force Virginia Beach schools to implement state guidelines for trans, nonbinary students

Va. Department of Education released new regulations in July

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(Bigstock photo)

Two parents in Virginia Beach have filed a lawsuit that seeks to force the city’s school district to implement the state’s new guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

NBC Washington on Friday reported Cooper and Kirk, a D.C.-based law firm, filed the lawsuit in Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

The Virginia Department of Education in July announced the new guidelines for which Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked. Arlington County Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and Prince William County Schools are among the school districts that have refused to implement them. 

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U.S. Federal Courts

Federal judge: drag is ‘vulgar and lewd,’ ‘sexualized conduct’

Ruling ‘bristles with hostility toward LGBTQ people’

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J. Marvin Jones Federal Building, U.S. Courthouse in Amarillo, Texas (Photo: Library of Congress)

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a ruling Thursday denying relief to a group of university students who sought to host a drag show over the objections of their school’s president.

A Trump appointed jurist with deep ties to anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion conservative legal activists, Kacsmaryk argued that drag performances probably do not constitute speech protected by the First Amendment.

As Slate Senior Writer Mark Joseph Stern wrote on X, this conclusion “conflicts with decisions from Texas, Florida, Tennessee and Montana which held that drag is constitutionally protected expression.”

“It also bristles with undisguised hostility toward LGBTQ people,” he added.

Kacsmaryk’s 26-page decision describes drag performances as lewd and licentious, obscene and sexually prurient, despite arguments the plaintiffs had presented about the social, political, and artistic merit of this art form.

As the Human Rights Campaign recently wrote, “drag artists and the spaces that host their performances have long served as a communal environment for queer expression.”

The group added, “It is a form of art and entertainment, but, historically, the performances haven’t only served to entertain, but also to truly advance the empowerment and visibility of LGBTQ+ people.”

Nevertheless, anti-LGBTQ conservative activists and organizations have perpetuated conspiracy theories about members of the community targeting children for sexual abuse including by bringing them to drag performances.

Among these is a group with ties to the Proud Boys that was cited by Kacsmaryk in his ruling: Gays Against Groomers, an anti-LGBTQ and anti-transgender extremist group, according to the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center.

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Africa

Kenyan lawmaker’s bill would further crackdown on LGBTQ rights

Provisions include 50-year prison sentence for gays and lesbians convicted of non-consensual sex

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Kenya flag (Photo by rarrarorro/Bigstock)

A fresh bid to prevent the recognition of and equal rights for LGBTQ people in Kenya through a constitutional amendment has been introduced in Parliament.

The move is in response to this month’s ruling from Kenya’s highest court affirming its February decision that allowed the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission to register as a non-governmental organization.

Opposition MP Peter Kaluma, an outspoken critic of homosexuality, is the sponsor of the new initiative that is part of tightening the noose on LGBTQ people after the Kenyan Supreme Court dismissed his petition that challenged its February ruling. 

Kaluma wanted the ruling reversed since the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission advocates for homosexuality, which is against the law, and sought the court’s clarification on the term “sex” to exclude LGBTQ persons.  

Kaluma has already written to National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, notifying him of his proposal to have the term “sex” redefined in the constitution by repealing Article 259 (4) which judges perceive to also include consensual same-sex sexual relations. 

“This will seal the constitutional gaps the courts are exploiting to introduce homosexuality into the country under the guise of ‘judicial interpretation’ and secure the legislative mandate retained in Parliament and constitutional-making power remains with the people,” Kaluma said. 

He faults the judges for interpreting the term “sex” under Article 27 (4) of the constitution to also refer to sexual orientation of any gender, whether heterosexual, lesbian, gay, intersex, or otherwise, not to be discriminated from sexual identity. 

The controversial court’s verdicts have sparked an uproar in the country since Article 45 of the constitution only recognizes consensual opposite-sex sexual relations and Section 162 of the penal code criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations. 

In redefining “sex” in law, Kaluma wants the term to be limited to the biological state of being male or female as assigned at birth and not “foreign sexual orientation and gender identity ideology” which he argues the judges based on wrongly. The MPs proposal to redefine sex, however, would not impact intersex people in Kenya since their recognition and sex identity are protected under a landmark law that took effect in July 2022. 

Kaluma notes that the court’s ruling renders sex/gender fluidity away from the biological state of being male or female “to over 150 current gender categories abbreviated as LGBTQ+” which has serious consequences for women in terms of equality.     

“The courts, unelected arms of government not directly accountable to the people, have been the weakest link in the battle for family values across the world. The Supreme Court of the United States failed the Americans and the European courts have failed the Europeans,” the MP said.  

Kaluma, who has also sponsored a stiffer anti-homosexuality bill that awaits introduction in the House, added “we are in a war not only to save our society but to salvage humanity from the LGBTQ+ perversion”. 

The lawmaker has also sought to strengthen his anti-homosexuality measure by adding punitive clauses, including one that would impose a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison for gays and lesbians who are found guilty of engaging in non-consensual sex. Other provisions include a ban on gay Pride parades, assemblies, street marches, cross-dressing in public and all LGBTQ-related activities.

The MP has also proposed proposes a fine of $14,000 or a 7-year prison sentence for owners of premises used for same-sex sexual practices. 

“I urge all persons and institutions of goodwill to stand firm and ready themselves to fight against homosexuality. Even when we don’t win before the courts as is the case across the world, I am certain we will win before the people’s representatives in parliament,” Kaluma stated. 

Muslim and Christian religious authorities last Saturday staged anti-homosexuality protests in the coastal city of Mombasa, which is the country’s second largest city. Protesters condemned and denounced the Supreme Court’s ruling and asking President William Ruto to “unequivocally denounce LGBTQ” like his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni.  

The Kenya Muslims National Advisory Council, a leading Muslim governing body, on Thursday also condemned the Supreme Court and demanded the ouster of Chief Justice Martha Koome and other judges who ruled in favor of the LGBTQ community. The group argues the ruling offends Kenya’s social, cultural and religious beliefs while asking the president and Parliament to be “firm” like Uganda, which enacted a harsh anti-homosexuality law in May.    

A presidential education reform working group last month in a detailed report presented to Ruto after gathering views across the country recommended the teachers’ employers to hire pastors and Imams in elementary and high schools to help fight homosexuality and other so-called immoral practices. This call came after the Education Ministry in March confirmed to MPs its decision to form a Chaplains Committee, led by Kenya’s Anglican Church Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit, to stop the infiltration of LGBTQ practices in schools.

The working group’s report has yet to be introduced in Parliament.

Kenya’s relentless move to curb homosexuality comes at a time when top government officials, politicians, and during this week’s U.N. General Assembly in New York raised concerns over backlash against LGBTQ and intersex rights around the world.

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