Connect with us

News

Despite shutdown, activists continue to engage on ENDA

Advocates say they’re meeting with lawmakers on LGBT bill during budget crisis

Published

on

U.S. Capitol, gay news, Washington Blade
U.S. Capitol, gay news, Washington Blade

Advocates say work on ENDA continues despite the government shutdown. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Despite the ongoing stalemate in Congress in the second week of a government shutdown, advocates say they’re undaunted in their efforts to pass pro-LGBT legislation.

LGBT rights supporters say they remain engaged on a high-priority bill, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and assert plans for a vote in the Senate this fall remain unchanged.

Christian Berle, legislative director for Freedom to Work, said he doesn’t expect the shutdown to have any impact on the timing of an ENDA vote.

“We’ve always believed the most likely window for a Senate vote on ENDA was between the last week of October and Thanksgiving, and we think we’re still on track for that timing,” Berle said.

Even as Congress focuses on finding an agreement to restore funds to keep the government in operation and raise the nation’s debt limit, advocates say they met last week with lawmakers to build support for ENDA.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, said the shutdown “will not shut us up” on issues like ENDA as well as immigration reform.

“It’s always the right time for rights and protections: that’s why we were on the Hill last week pushing for ENDA with the members and their staff who remain at their desks during the shutdown,” Carey said. “Just because some members of Congress don’t want to do their jobs, doesn’t mean that we should stop doing ours.”

Similarly, Berle said last week Freedom to Work “had a very productive discussion” with an undeclared Republican senator who was eager to learn about the bill.

“While senators are focused, on both sides of the aisle, on resolving the government shutdown, they can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Berle said. “We have been actively engaging with our allies on the Hill, while continuing to lobby the swing votes.”

Berle declined to name the undeclared senator with whom he spoke, but said the lawmaker is “actively considering” support for the bill.

Although LGBT advocates are saying the trajectory for ENDA is unchanged, lawmakers close to ENDA are silent during the government shutdown.

Emails to the offices of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.); Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore), ENDA’s chief sponsor; and Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) were returned with automatic replies that the offices were closed.

A Senate senior Democratic aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he hasn’t heard about ENDA discussions and “everything’s on hold” besides budget and debt negotiations. Still, he didn’t dispute that advocates are engaged on the legislation.

“That’s probably credible, but they also have to put on airs, or put up a face like they’re still doing the work on it,” the aide said. “But, honestly, we’re not going to get to anything until the week of Halloween. We won’t get to anything other than debt ceiling and government funding until Halloween week, so everything is on hold until we address those two things.”

Americans for Workplace Opportunity, the $2 million campaign whose steering committee consists of 11 groups seeking to pass ENDA, didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment on the status of its ENDA lobbying during the government shutdown. The campaign was scheduled to have a citizens lobby day on Capitol Hill to push for ENDA passage on Oct. 3.

As gridlock continues, it’s reasonable to question whether legislation that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT workers could reach the president’s desk during the current Congress.

Berle insisted the situation is different for ENDA when asked if the current impasse reflects poorly on the chances for passage of the LGBT bill.

“ENDA is not a partisan issue, unlike the budget and government funding, senators on both sides of the aisle are in ongoing discussion about the need for employment protections,” Berle said. “We are confident that ENDA will have the 60 votes necessary for cloture. We’re ready to pass these fundamental workplace protections.”

Berle added that there is time to push for ENDA in the House, where passage will be more difficult.

“Fortunately there are still 15 months in the current Congress to pass ENDA,” Berle said. “Freedom to Work is actively engaging not only with Senate offices, but are picking up Republican supporters in the House to help press the case for consideration and building a majority in the House of Representatives to make federal workplace protections for LGBT workers a reality.”

A shutdown for marriage equality lawsuits?

The shutdown could also have an impact on another route LGBT advocates are using to pursue LGBT rights: the federal judiciary. The website for the U.S. courts, as reported by ThinkProgress, at the time of the shutdown said the court would remain open for about 10 business days, but on or around Oct. 15, the judiciary will reassess the situation.

Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, said it’s unclear at this time whether the shutdown will lead to a nationwide closure or impact the 35 marriage equality cases he counts pending before the judiciary.

“Federal courts will be operating at least until mid-October and thereafter, it will vary by courthouse, as each federal district and circuit makes its own independent budget decisions,” Davidson said. “Furloughs of nonessential federal judicial staff is likely to lead to postponements of pending hearings in many parts of the country, but I have not heard of any of the immediately upcoming hearings in marriage cases being delayed.”

The case for which a closure of the federal judiciary could have the most immediate impact is DeBoer v. Snyder, the federal lawsuit seeking marriage equality in Michigan. Oral arguments are set for Oct. 16, just about the time the federal judiciary will make a reassessment.

Rod Hansen, a spokesperson for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, said he doesn’t expect oral arguments in the case will be affected by the shutdown.

“There is no way of being sure, but I doubt very much that it will be postponed,” Hansen said.

But Davidson said the shutdown is already having an effect on other parts of the federal court system that are important to LGBT people.

“Immigration courts have postponed hearings in matters not involving someone in detention, meaning delays for many individuals seeking asylum or binational married couples seeking green cards for the foreign spouse,” Davidson said. “Discrimination proceedings before the EEOC are being postponed, which is having a negative impact on several cases we are currently handling on behalf of LGBT and HIV-positive workers.”

House-passed NIH bill would fund AIDS research

As Congress hashes out the way forward, the House continues to pass bills to fund the government through a piecemeal approach without approving legislation that would restore operations to the government as a whole.

Among these bills is a measure to continue funds for the National Institutes for Health. As the Blade reported last week, the lack of funds for this agency has implications for HIV/AIDS because the shutdown put a freeze on new medical research related to the disease.

The White House has threatened to veto the legislation, saying a piecemeal approach to fund the government isn’t appropriate, and Reid indicated a lack of interest in bringing up the bill in the Senate, saying, “What right do they have to pick and choose what parts of government can be funded?”

Laura Durso, director of LGBT research at the Center for American Progress, rejected the idea of funding the government through a piecemeal approach and said her organization doesn’t support the bill.

“While this piecemeal approach to funding the government is not a sensible strategy, restoring funding to the National Institutes of Health will mean that coordination and execution of life-saving research will continue under agencies such as the Office of AIDS Research and the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases,” Durso said.

Chris Collins, director of policy for amfAR, said the government shutdown magnifies a larger problem of inadequate government funds for AIDS research and is keeping American scientists away from an international HIV vaccine conference taking place this week in Barcelona, Spain.

“The government shutdown is frustrating AIDS research in multiple ways,” Collins said. “It has already kept scores of U.S. government scientists away from an HIV vaccine conference this week. This, on top of a continued loss of purchasing power of NIH funding over the years, will slow down new discoveries in the fight against AIDS and other diseases.”

Meanwhile, LGBT people are among the estimated hundreds of thousands of federal workers who remain on furlough during the shutdown.

Just like during the shutdown 17 years ago, these workers seem headed to receiving compensation for the time they’ve been unable to work. On Saturday, the House passed a measure to restore their pay, but only after the funding for the government as a whole is restored.

President Obama endorsed the idea of providing these workers with pay for the time they were furloughed, saying, “That’s how we’ve always done it.”

On Monday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recalled most civilian Pentagon furloughed employees back to work on the basis of Obama signing the Pay Our Military Act to continue funding for the armed services.

Capt. Valerie Palacios, spokesperson for the LGBT employee affinity group at the Pentagon known as DOD Pride, said her fellow LGBT employees look forward to getting back to their jobs.

“DOD civilians, LGBT or otherwise, are proud to go back to work to support the military, but we, along with military personnel and the defense industrial base, remain severely hampered in our ability to do work critical to National Security by the lack of funding to support key programs,” Palacios said. “We all look forward to the day when we can get back to this critical work. Our nation’s safety depends on it.”

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Africa

Ugandan president signs Anti-Homosexuality Act

Law calls for death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’

Published

on

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (Photo courtesy of the U.S. State Department)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday signed his country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act into law.

MPs in March approved the Anti-Homosexuality Act, but Museveni on April 20 sent it back to Parliament for additional consideration.

Lawmakers earlier this month once again approved the measure without provisions that would have required Ugandans to “report acts of homosexuality” and would have not criminalized LGBTQ people simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The second version of the Anti-Homosexuality Act that MPs passed calls for the death penalty for anyone found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality.” 

“As the Parliament of Uganda, we have answered the cries of our people. We have legislated to protect the sanctity of family as per Article 31 of the Constitution of Uganda,” said Ugandan Parliament Speaker Anita Among in a statement after Museveni signed the bill. “We have stood strong to defend our culture and aspirations of our people as per objectives 19 and 24 of national objectives and directive principles of state policy.”

Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesara, a Ugandan LGBTQ and intersex activist, described Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Act as a “dark day for human rights of LGBTQIA+ and allies.”

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson in a statement condemned the law.

“This new law to restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ Ugandans is by far the most horrific display of bigotry we have seen in recent memory in Uganda, and in all of Africa,” said Robinson. “The Ugandan Parliament should be ashamed of themselves for considering this draconian law that erases the internationally recognized rights of LGBTQ+ Ugandans, and President Museveni should be condemned for not using the full power of his position to stop it. We at the Human Rights Campaign stand in solidarity with human rights defenders and the LGBTQ+ community in Uganda.”

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, UNAIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in a joint statement said they “are deeply concerned about the harmful impact of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 on the health of its citizens and its impact on the AIDS response that has been so successful up to now.”

“Uganda’s progress on its HIV response is now in grave jeopardy,” reads the statement. “The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 will obstruct health education and the outreach that can help end AIDS as a public health threat. The stigma and discrimination associated with the passage of the act has already led to reduced access to prevention as well as treatment services. Trust, confidentiality and stigma-free engagement are essential for anyone seeking health care. LGBTQI+ people in Uganda increasingly fear for their safety and security, and increasing numbers of people are being discouraged from seeking vital health services for fear of attack, punishment and further marginalization.”

Museveni, with the support of anti-LGBTQ evangelicals from the U.S., in 2014 signed a version of the Anti-Homosexuality Act that imposed a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts. The law was known as the “Kill the Gays” bill because it previously contained a death penalty provision.

The U.S. subsequently cut aid to Uganda and imposed a travel ban against officials who carried out human rights abuses. Uganda’s Constitutional Court later struck down the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act on a technicality.

The U.S. last month postponed a meeting on the PEPFAR’s work in Uganda in order to assess the potential impact the Anti-Homosexuality Act will have on it. Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ and intersex rights, and other American officials have said the Biden-Harris administration is considering “the potential impact of the Anti-Homosexuality Act on U.S. foreign assistance.” 

The Washington Blade has reached out to the White House and the State Department for comment.

Meanwhile, Nabagesera and Sexual Minorities Uganda Executive Director Frank Mugisha are among those who challenged the Anti-Homosexuality Act in the Ugandan Constitutional Court after Museveni signed it.

Continue Reading

Texas

Texas attorney general impeached, suspended pending outcome of Senate trial

Ken Paxton over the last decade has targeted LGBTQ people

Published

on

The Texas House of Representatives voted to impeach state Attorney General Ken Paxton on May 27, 2023. (Photo by Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune)

Editor’s note: For the vast majority of the past 10 years the Texas attorney general has waged a relentless campaign to limit the rights and equality of LGBTQ Texans, especially transgender Texans. Today’s vote is significant in terms of the possibility that a Senate conviction would offer a potential respite from Paxton’s attacks on the LGBTQ community.

By  Zach Despart and James Barragan AUSTIN, Texas | In a history-making late-afternoon vote, a divided Texas House chose Saturday to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton, temporarily removing him from office over allegations of misconduct that included bribery and abuse of office.

The vote to adopt the 20 articles of impeachment was 121-23.

Attention next shifts to the Texas Senate, which will conduct a trial with senators acting as jurors and designated House members presenting their case as impeachment managers.

Permanently removing Paxton from office and barring him from holding future elected office in Texas would require the support of two-thirds of senators.

The move to impeach came less than a week after the House General Investigating Committee revealed that it was investigating Paxton for what members described as a yearslong pattern of misconduct and questionable actions that include bribery, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice. They presented the case against him Saturday, acknowledging the weight of their actions.

“Today is a very grim and difficult day for this House and for the state of Texas,” Rep. David Spiller (R-Jacksboro), a committee member, told House members.

“We have a duty and an obligation to protect the citizens of Texas from elected officials who abuse their office and their powers for personal gain,” Spiller said. “As a body, we should not be complicit in allowing that behavior.”

Paxton supporters criticized the impeachment proceedings as rushed, secretive and based on hearsay accounts of actions taken by Paxton, who was not given the opportunity to defend himself to the investigating committee.

“This process is indefensible,” said Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo), who complained that the vote was taking place on a holiday weekend before members had time to conduct a thorough review of the accusations. “It concerns me a lot because today it could be General Paxton, tomorrow it could be you and the next day it could be me.”

Saturday’s vote temporarily removes a controversial but influential Republican figure in Texas and nationally. He has led an office that initiated lawsuits that overturned or blocked major Biden and Obama administration policies, sought to reverse Trump’s electoral defeat in 2020, aggressively pursued voter fraud claims and targeted hospitals that provided gender care to minors.

The Legislature had impeached state officials just twice since 1876 — and never an attorney general — but the House committee members who proposed impeachment argued Saturday that Paxton’s misconduct in office was so egregious that it warranted his removal.

“This gentleman is no longer fit for service or for office,” said committee member Rep. Ann Johnson (D-Houston). “Either this is going to be the beginning of the end of his criminal reign, or God help us with the harms that will come to all Texans if he’s allowed to stay the top cop on the take, if millions of Texans can’t trust us to do the right thing, right here, right now.”

Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), a member of the investigative committee, used his presentation time to criticize Paxton for calling representatives as they worked on the House floor to “personally threaten them with political consequences in the next election” if they supported impeachment.

Speaking against impeachment, Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), called the process “wrong.”

“Don’t end our session this way. Don’t tarnish this institution,” Tinderholt said. “Don’t cheapen the act of impeachment. Don’t undermine the will of the voters. Don’t give Democrats another victory handed to them on a silver platter.”

The vote came as hardline conservatives supportive of Paxton’s aggressive strategy of suing the Biden administration were lining up in support of him. Former President Donald Trump — a close political ally to Paxton — blasted the impeachment proceedings as an attempt to unseat “the most hard working and effective” attorney general and thwart the “large number of American Patriots” who voted for Paxton.

Trump vowed to target any Republican who voted to impeach Paxton.

As lawmakers listened to the committee members make their case, Paxton took to social media to boost conservatives who had come to his defense, including Trump, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and conservative radio host Grant Stinchfield, who tweeted, “Kangaroo Court in Texas.”

About 90 minutes into the debate, the official Twitter account of the Texas attorney general’s office began tweeting at members of the committee to challenge some of the claims being made.

“Please tell the truth,” the agency’s account said.

Because Paxton was impeached while the Legislature was in session, the Texas Constitution requires the Senate to remain in Austin after the regular session ends Monday or set a trial date for the future, with no deadline for a trial spelled out in the law.

Impeachment represents the greatest political threat to date for Paxton, who has been reelected twice despite a 2015 indictment for felony securities fraud and an ongoing federal investigation into allegations of official misconduct that began in 2020.

The impeachment vote, on the third-to-last day of the regular legislative session, capped a tumultuous week at the Capitol. From Tuesday to Thursday:

  • Paxton abruptly accused House Speaker Dade Phelan of presiding over the chamber while drunk and demanded that he resign.
  • The House General Investigating Committee revealed it had been investigating Paxton in secret since March.
  • The committee heard a three-hour presentation from its investigators detailing allegations of corruption against the attorney general.
  • The committee’s three Republicans and two Democrats voted to forward 20 articles of impeachment to the full House.

Paxton, who was comfortably elected to a third term last year, made a rare appearance before assembled reporters Friday to criticize the process, saying he was not given a chance to present favorable evidence. He called impeachment an effort by Democrats and “liberal” Republicans to remove him from office, violating the will of voters and sidelining an effective warrior against Biden administration policies.

“The corrupt politicians in the Texas House are demonstrating that blind loyalty to Speaker Dade Phelan is more important than upholding their oath of office,” Paxton said. He added, “They are showcasing their absolute contempt for the electoral process.”

Many of the articles of impeachment focused on allegations that Paxton had repeatedly abused his powers of office to help a political donor and friend, Austin real estate developer Nate Paul.

In fall 2020, eight top deputies in the attorney general’s office approached federal and state investigators to report their concerns about Paxton’s relationship with Paul.

All eight quit or were fired in the following months, and most of the details of their allegations against Paxton were revealed in a lawsuit by four former executives who claim they were fired — in violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act — in retaliation for reporting Paxton to the authorities. Paxton’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit is awaiting action by the Dallas-based 5th Court of Appeals.

According to the lawsuit, the whistleblowers accused Paxton of engaging in a series of “intense and bizarre” actions to help Paul, including intervening in an open-records case to help Paul gain documents from federal and state investigations into the real estate investor’s businesses. They also accused Paxton of directing his agency to intervene in a lawsuit between Paul and a charity, pushing through a rushed legal opinion to help Paul avoid a pending foreclosure sale on properties and ignoring agency rules to hire an outside lawyer to pursue an investigation helpful to Paul’s businesses.

In return, the whistleblower lawsuit alleged, Paul paid for all or part of a major renovation of a home Paxton owns in Austin. Paul also helped Paxton keep an extramarital affair quiet by employing the woman Paxton had been seeing, the lawsuit said, adding that the attorney general may also have been motivated by a $25,000 contribution Paul made to Paxton’s campaign in 2018.

In their report to the House General Investigating Committee on Wednesday, the panel’s investigators concluded that Paxton may have committed numerous crimes and violated his oath of office.

Investigators said possible felonies included abuse of official capacity by, among other actions, diverting staff time to help Paul at a labor cost of at least $72,000; misuse of official information by possibly helping Paul gain access to investigative documents; and retaliation and official oppression by firing employees who complained of Paxton’s actions to the FBI.

The articles of impeachment accused Paxton of accepting bribes, disregarding his official duties and misapplying public resources to help Paul.

The articles also referred to felony charges of securities fraud, and one felony count of failing to register with state securities officials, that have been pending against Paxton since 2015, months after he took office as attorney general. The fraud charges stem from Paxton’s work in 2011 to solicit investors in Servergy Inc. without disclosing that the McKinney company was paying him for the work.

The impeachment articles also accused Paxton of obstruction of justice by acting to delay the criminal cases with legal challenges and because a Paxton donor pursued legal action that limited the pay to prosecutors in the case, causing further delays “to Paxton’s advantage.”

Taken in total, the accusations showed a pattern of dereliction of duty in violation of the Texas Constitution, Paxton’s oaths of office and state laws against public officials acting against the public’s interest, the impeachment resolution said.

“Paxton engaged in misconduct, private or public, of such character as to indicate his unfitness for office,” the articles said.

An attorney general had never before been impeached by the Legislature, an extraordinary step that lawmakers have reserved for public officials who faced serious allegations of misconduct. Only two Texas officials have been removed from office by Senate conviction, Gov. James Ferguson in 1917 and District Judge O.P. Carrillo in 1975.

If Paxton is to survive, he will need to secure the support of 11 senators. With the 12 Democratic senators likely to support his removal, votes for acquittal would need to come from the 19 Republican members.

None has publicly defended Paxton. In a television interview Thursday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, said merely that he believed senators would be responsible jurors and “do their duty.”

A complicating factor is Sen. Angela Paxton (R-McKinney), Paxton’s wife. State law requires all senators to attend an impeachment trial, though whether she will recuse herself from voting is unclear.

Paxton’s political base lies in the far-right faction of the Republican Party, where he has positioned himself as a champion of conservative causes and a thorn in the side of Democratic President Joe Biden. Paxton has criticized his opponents as RINOs (Republicans in name only) who “want nothing more than to sabotage our legal challenges to Biden’s extremist agenda by taking me out.”

He also retained the backing of the state Republican Party, led by former state Rep. Matt Rinaldi, who frequently attacks Republicans he considers to be insufficiently conservative. On Friday, Rinadi said the impeachment was Phelan’s fault for allowing Democrats to have too much influence in the House.

“The impeachment proceedings against the Attorney General are but the latest front in the Texas House’s war against Republicans to stop the conservative direction of her state,” Rinaldi said in a statement.

Paxton also has maintained a close relationship with Trump and filed an unsuccessful U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the 2020 presidential election. Paxton also spoke at Trump’s rally on Jan. 6, 2021, shortly before the president’s supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol.

Related:

***************************************************************************************

Zach Despart’s staff photo

Zach Despart

[email protected]

@zachdespart

James Barragán’s staff photo

James Barragán

[email protected]

@James_Barragan

***************************************************************************************

The preceding article was previously published by The Texas Tribune and is republished by permission.

**********************

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. 

Quality journalism doesn’t come free

Perhaps it goes without saying — but producing quality journalism isn’t cheap. At a time when newsroom resources and revenue across the country are declining, The Texas Tribune remains committed to sustaining our mission: creating a more engaged and informed Texas with every story we cover, every event we convene and every newsletter we send. As a nonprofit newsroom, we rely on members to help keep our stories free and our events open to the public. Do you value our journalism? Show us with your support.

Donation Link Here

Continue Reading

National

Target stores across the country receive bomb threats over LGBTQ merchandise

Company removed Pride-themed items to back of stores in Southern states

Published

on

Screenshot from YouTube (Courtesy of 11 Alive Atlanta)

Police departments in Utah, Ohio and Pennsylvania aided by assistance from agents from Federal Bureau of Investigation Field Offices in Ohio and Utah are investigating threats made by email to local media referencing the retail chain Target’s LGBTQ merchandise collections celebrating Pride Month.

KUTV CBS 2 Salt Lake City reported that Sgt. John Ottesen with Layton Utah Police said bomb threats were made to Target stores in Layton, Salt Lake City, Taylorsville and Provo. Ottesen confirmed that multiple law enforcement agencies commenced the investigation after the local new stations received the emailed threats.

A Target store in Layton, Utah, was evacuated after police said they were informed of a bomb threat to multiple Utah locations.

The threats specifically mentioned Target’s Pride merchandise, were three sentences long, and came from a “bogus email address,” according to Ottesen.

WOIO Cleveland 19 News received a bomb threat Friday afternoon against four Target stores in Ohio and a store in Monaca, Pa., purportedly from a person or persons angry over Target Corporation’s decision to remove some of the LGBTQ merchandise after a series of threats and physical threats against its retail clerks and staff in several southern states earlier this week.

It was not immediately known if the threats were legitimate, though precautions were quickly taken to ensure staff and customer’s safety according to officials.

A Target spokesperson who spoke with multiple media outlets said: “The safety of our team members and guests is our top priority. Law enforcement investigated these claims and determined our stores are safe. Our stores are currently open and operating regular hours.”

Speaking for the Minneapolis-based retail giant two days ago, spokesperson Kayla Castañeda noted: “Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and wellbeing while at work. Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”

Castañeda also released a statement from the company:

“For more than a decade, Target has offered an assortment of products aimed at celebrating Pride Month. Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work. Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior. Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year.”

Removal of the merchandise from its online store in addition to the storefronts has prompted harsh criticism of the retailer. California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted.

Numerous LGBTQ activists and groups have condemned Target for bowing to what is seen as political pressure by a minority of far right extremists:

“Extremist groups and individuals work to divide us and ultimately don’t just want rainbow products to disappear, they want us to disappear,” Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “For the past decade, the LGBTQ+ community has celebrated Pride with Target — it’s time that Target stands with us and doubles-down on their commitment to us.”

On Friday, Alejandra Caraballo, a clinical instructor at the Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic and an LGBTQ activist tweeted her disgust over the decision by Target to effectively abandon company support for the queer product lines and the creators.

Atlanta LGBTQ community reacts to Target pulling some Pride merchandise:

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular