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Huckabee urges conservatives to oppose Calif. trans law

Values Voter Summit features anti-LGBT attacks



Mike Huckabee, gay news, Washington Blade

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee opposes the California trans student law (Photo by David Ball; courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

A strong anti-LGBT sentiment pervaded the first night of an annual conference for conservatives in D.C. as Republican commentator Mike Huckabee railed against a pro-transgender student law in California to fire up his audience.

The former Arkansas governor urged attendees to oppose the School Success & Opportunity Act, which enables transgender students in California to participate in programs and athletics consistent with their gender identity, during his speech at the Values Voter Summit.

“So, Jerry Brown, the governor of California, this week signed a bill — by the same legislature that passed a bill that said if six-year-olds, who are biologically boys think that they are really girls, that they should be able to go to the girls restroom,” Huckabee said. “And if they’re 16 and they really — maybe you’re biologically all male but they identify as female, they should be able to go to the locker room with, shower with, and play on the sports teams of the girls. And, to those of us who believe that there is a difference between male and female, we would say ‘We have been told you’re on your own.'”

Huckabee continued to jab at the law by envisioning a scenario in which a transgender student would shower with boys on a sports term.

“And by the way, it is a good thing that that didn’t come up when I was in high school ’cause I’m pretty sure that every boy in my high school would have suddenly felt like that he was just a little more comfortable showering with the girls no matter how uncomfortable the girls might have been with it,” Huckabee said.

Huckabee concluded his tirade against the law by saying, “Is that not the craziest think you’ve ever heard?”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, criticized Huckabee’s remarks.

“The School Success & Opportunity Act is simply about making all school programs accessible for all students,” Keisling said. “That’s all and Mr. Huckabee should be extremely supportive of that. This is about boys being in boy space and girls being in girl space, and everybody being able to participate.”

Keisling also said Huckabee was adding a sexual element to a law in a way that was inappropriate.

“Though Huckabee claims that he and all the teenage boys he grew up with were perverts, it is still inappropriate that he should be sexualizing six year olds this way in his comments,” Keisling said.

The California transgender student law has been targeted for repeal as anti-trans forces, in particular the groups Privacy for All Students, gather signatures to place the measure on the ballot for a referendum. Last week, the California State Republican Party endorsed an effort to reverse the law at its convention in Anaheim.

But trans people weren’t the only part of the LGBT community that Huckabee targeted during his speech. Huckabee also went after gay people by railing against what he said were the consequences for opponents of same-sex marriage in the growing number of states that have legalized same-sex marriage.

“For those of us who still believe that the biblical standard of marriage is the standard of marriage because it’s the only one that has lasted over the test of time, do you realize that for those of us for whom this is not a governmental issue and it’s not a political issue, it is a moral issue, it is a biblical issue, it’s a cultural issue, it’s a sociological issue, it’s a family issue, we’ve been pretty much told, ‘You’re on your own.'”

Huckabee brought up an incident in which a photographer was sued under a New Mexico anti-discrimination law for refusing to take a photo of a same-sex wedding ceremony and another incident in which he said a baker in Washington State was in trouble for refusing to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding.

“The government told them, you better make the cake, or go out of business,” Huckabee said. “They said, ‘You’re on your own.”

Also on stage speaking out against marriage equality was former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, now president of the conservative think-tank The Heritage Foundation, who said the nation must resist the legalization of gay nuptials.”

“Marriage is the most foundational, cultural and economic institution in our society,” DeMint said. “Marriages between a man and a woman are by far the best environment to raise children and create responsible citizens.”

Perhaps foreseeing a day when the marriage issue would return to the Supreme Court, DeMint said, “States have regulated marriage to protect it, but there is nothing in our federal Constitution that gives Congress, the president or the Supreme Court the right to redefine or regulate marriage.”

These speakers took the stage after remarks against same-sex marriage by Ben Carson and anti-gay remarks from political commentator Sandy Rios. Also among the earlier speakers was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who, after being interrupted several times during his speech by protesters, later won the Values Voter Summit’s presidential straw poll by 42 percent.

Friday evening at the Values Voter Summit culminated with a panel on opposition to same-sex marriage, moderated by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, titled The Future of Marriage. The 1964 song “Chapel of Love” by the Dixie Cups played as the panel began.

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, invoked the notion that opposition to same-sex marriage is similar to the civil rights movement of the 1960s as he defended those who would seek to defend “the truth that mothers and fathers are different and that children deserve the opportunity to have both.”

“On the other side of the debate is an attempt to deconstruct the very nature of reality, the very nature of what it means to be a human being, to be created male and female,” Brown said.

Brown attributed the lack of success of marriage equality legislation in Illinois that supporters kept from coming to a floor vote this summer, to a coalition of lawmakers that included black lawmakers who oppose same-sex marriage.

Jennifer Marshall, director of domestic studies for The Heritage Foundation, said a wave of “young recruits” has entered the anti-gay marriage movement following the Supreme Court decision against the Defense of Marriage Act.

“We will continue to give the unique status in law to the union between a man and a woman, the only union that can produce children as a monogamous, exclusive permanent relationship,” Marshall said. “We uphold this ideal in the interest of children, in the interest of coming together and in the interest of America’s future.”

Representing the young recruits in opposition to same-sex marriage was Ryan Anderson, a fellow in religion and free society at The Heritage Foundation, who said he’s gone to speak on college campuses on why “marriage matters.”

“Whenever a child is born, a mother will be close by, that’s a fact of biology,” Anderson said. “The question for culture and the question for law is will a father be close by, and if so, for how long?”

The marriage panel was originally scheduled for the Values Voter Summit earlier in the day, but was postponed until the evening. Darin Miller, a Family Research Council spokesperson, told the Blade it was postponed to accommodate lawmakers’ schedules so they could make it on time for votes on Capitol Hill.

Evan Wolfson, president of the LGBT group Freedom to Marry, responded to the remarks against same-sex marriage at the Values Voter Summit by saying they’re acting contrary to basic values.

“If they can’t value basic American values such as liberty and justice for all, and if they can’t value personal values such as the Golden Rule and loving your neighbor, and if they can’t value veracity, you’d think they’d at least value their own self-image enough to stop the rest of us from trying to come up with polite synonyms for ‘out-of-touchiness,'” Wolfson said.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jon Bond

    October 15, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Huck-a-butt, as with the rest of the GOPee, Teahadist, Far Reich-Wing nutjob Russian Repuks, are all members of the current Neo-Fascist movement known as the TEAM JURASSIC! They fight and stand for all outdated, moronic, hateful, Jurassic-era dinosaurs.

    Luckily, they shall go the way of the dinosaurs before too much longer. And not soon enough as far as I'm concerned.

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Va. businessman apologizes for burning of rainbow flag poster

‘Shocked and horrified’: Ashburn incident caught on video



Organizers of an event where a Pride symbol was burned say the incident was a misunderstanding.

The owner of a Virginia technology company that hosted a private Veterans Day party on the grounds of an Ashburn, Va., brewery in which a company employee used a flame-throwing device to ignite a rainbow flag poster said the selection of the poster was a mistake and he and his company have no ill will toward the LGBTQ community.

The Washington Blade learned about the poster burning from a customer of the Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, where the incident took place on its outdoor grounds. The customer made a video of the incident with his cell phone and sent a copy of the video to the Blade.

The video, which includes an audio recording, shows a man using a hand-held flame-throwing device to ignite the rainbow poster, which was hanging from a cable and appeared to be mounted on cardboard or a thin sheet of wood. Bystanders can be heard laughing and cheering as the poster is set on fire.

The poster consisted of a variation of the LGBTQ Pride rainbow flag that included the word “love” configured from an upper white stripe on the rainbow symbol.

The customer who took the video, who has asked not to be identified, thought the decision to set the poster on fire was a sign of disrespect if not hatred toward a longstanding symbol of LGBTQ equality and pride.

Chris Burns, Old Ox Brewery’s president, shared that view, telling the Blade he and his staff were “shocked and horrified” when they learned later that a rainbow flag poster had been burned on the brewery’s grounds. Burns said Old Ox supports the LGBTQ community and participated in LGBTQ Pride month earlier this year.

He said the company that held the private party paid a fee to hold the event on the brewery’s grounds, but the brewery did not know a rainbow poster would be burned.

“I’m mortified that our event was interpreted in this way,” said Nate Reynolds, the founder and partner of Hypershift Technologies LLC, the Falls Church, Va.-based technology company that organized the Nov. 11 party at Old Ox Brewery. “I can assure you that ZERO ill-will or offense was meant,” Reynolds told the Blade in a Nov. 24 email.

“We held a small private party for a few clients, which included a demonstration of Elon Musk’s Boring Company ‘Not a Flamethrower,’” he said in his message. He was referring to one of billionaire businessman Elon Musk’s companies that specializes in boring through the ground to create tunnels for cars, trains, and other purposes. 

“After so many being isolated during COVID, we wanted to have an event that was lighthearted and to some small effect, silly,” Reynolds said in his message to the Blade.

According to Reynolds, in thinking about what should be used for “fodder” for the flame-thrower, he went to a Five Below discount store and purchased items such as stuffed animals and posters, including a “Space Jam” movie poster as well as what he thought was a poster of the British rock group The Beatles.

“When I pulled the Beatles poster out of the tube it was instead the ‘Love’ poster,” he said, referring to the rainbow flag poster the Blade asked him about in an earlier email.

“All I focused on was the ‘Love’ wording and not the rainbow and did not draw the conclusion that the poster was an icon that represents the LGBTQ community,” Reynolds said. “It was my own ignorance of not connecting the symbolism of the poster. If I had realized it was a symbol of the LGBTQ community, I would not have used it,” he said.

“I feel terrible, and I want to emphasize that I am solely responsible for this mistake – not the Old Ox Brewery,” he wrote in his message. “Nobody at Old Ox had anything to do with this activity.”

Reynolds added, “Hate has no place in my heart, and I sincerely apologize for any offense that could have been drawn from what I now realize was poor judgement on my part. I simply didn’t correlate this poster with the LGBTQ pride symbol.”  

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Before Reynolds issued his statement of apology, Burns, the Old Ox Brewery co-owner, told the Blade in an email he was “saddened and upset” over the rainbow poster burning on the grounds of his brewery.

“We do not wish to benefit from this event,” he said in his email message. “Therefore, Old Ox is donating 100% of the revenue generated from the private event to GLSEN.”

GLSEN is a national LGBTQ advocacy group that focuses on education and support for LGBTQ youth. Burns said Old Ox Brewery also donated proceeds from a Pride month event it organized earlier this year to GLSEN.

LGBTQ activists and organizations contacted by the Blade said they were unfamiliar with the variation of the rainbow flag with the word “love” that was the subject of the poster burning incident. The poster is available for sale at Five Below stores in the D.C. metropolitan area for $5.

Small print writings on the poster show it is produced by Trends International LLC, which describes itself on its website as “the leading publisher and manufacturer of licensed posters, calendars, stickers and social stationery products.” The Blade couldn’t immediately determine who designed the poster.

 The video of the poster burning incident can be viewed here:

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Fairfax schools returns LGBTQ-themed books in high school libraries

Review found ‘no pedophilia’ in texts as critics claimed



(Book cover insert courtesy of Amazon)

The Fairfax County Public Schools announced on Tuesday that following a detailed review by two committees appointed by school officials it has returned two LGBTQ themed books to its high school libraries that had been temporarily withdrawn after being challenged by critics who claimed they included sexually explicit content inappropriate for students.

The two books, “Lawn Boy,” a novel by author Jonathan Evison, and “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” which is described as an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe, each contain descriptions of sexual acts.

But supporters of the books have argued that they have won praise by literary critics and, while describing intimate relationships, they tell stories that do not fall into the category of pornography.  

Fairfax County Public Schools, the name used for the county’s public school system, on Tuesday said in a statement that a thorough review of the books by two committees consisting of educators, school officials, parents and some students found that neither book contained content that could be considered to depict pedophilia as claimed by some parents and others opposing the two books.

School officials announced they had temporarily withdrawn the two books from school libraries following a Sept. 23 meeting of the Fairfax County School Board where strong objections to the two books were raised by parents.

“Two books that were subject to formal challenge have been deemed appropriate for high school readers following a two-month review process and will be reinstated to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) libraries,” Tuesday’s statement by the school system says.

“The decision reaffirms FCPS’s ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” the statement continues. “Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journey,” the statement says.

The statement says the final decision to reinstate the books was made by Noel Klimenko, the Fairfax County Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for its Instructional Services Department.

The two books have received favorable reviews in various literary publications. Both have received the American Library Association’s Alex Award, an annual award that recognizes the year’s 10 books written for adults that the association says have a special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.

“The robust committee process took place over several weeks and considered whether the books flouted regulations by being obscene or harmful to juveniles as defined by the Code of Virginia,” the school system statement says. “The members also considered the work in line with an excerpt from the FCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook pertaining to possessing obscene visual imagery as defined in the Code of Virginia,” the statement says.

“After careful consideration, neither books were deemed to have fallen foul of these regulations,” it concludes.

The decision by Fairfax school officials to reinstate the two books came about six weeks after more than 425 LGBTQ students and allies from over 30 Fairfax County public high schools sent a letter to the school board and the school system’s superintendent urging them to reinstate the two books.

The Pride Liberation Project, a coalition of LGBTQ and allied students in Fairfax County, organized the joint letter.

“Student representatives from over 30 schools, including nearly every high school in Fairfax County Public Schools, have signed this letter, and many of us are students of color, low-income, gender expansive and not out to our families and communities,” the letter states.

“We are writing to ask you to reject calls to remove Maia Kobabe’s ‘Gender Queer’ and Jonathan Evison’s ‘Lawn Boy’ from Fairfax County Public Schools libraries,” the letter says.

It points out that “hundreds of books in our schools already depict heterosexual relationships and physical intimacy,” and says singling out LGBTQ themed books with similar stories of intimacy for rejection is unfair.

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Matrimonio igualitario a un paso de ser ley en Chile

Solo falta una última votación en el Senado



Una manifestación en favor del matrimonio igualitario en Santiago, Chile, en 2017. (Foto cortesía de Francisca Becker)

VALPARAÍSO, Chile — Como un triunfo “histórico” para los derechos de la diversidad sexual y de género, calificaron los activistas LGBTQ en Chile el avance del proyecto de ley de matrimonio igualitario el martes en el Congreso. Ahora solo falta una última votación en el Senado para convertirse en ley.

“Con 101 votos a favor, 30 en contra y dos abstenciones se aprueba el proyecto de ley que regula el matrimonio igualitario, que pasa a su tercer y último trámite en el Senado”, ha informado el Congreso Nacional chileno en un comunicado.

La votación se enmarca en uno de los momentos políticos más complejos para la población queer de ese país latinoamericano, luego de que el pasado domingo en las elecciones presidenciales y de congresistas la ultraderecha y anti-LGBTQ liderada por el candidato presidencial, José Antonio Kast del Partido Repúblicano obtuvieran un buen desempeño electoral.

Kast, que ha afirmado en muchas ocasiones que existe un “lobby gay” que “busca influir a las personas”, fue el candidato más votado y se enfrentará en el balotaje del 19 de diciembre al izquierdista Gabriel Boric.

“Frente a los discursos de violencia y odio, hace falta responder con amor. No queremos sesgos dogmáticos ultra ideologizados”, apuntó el diputado Diego Ibáñez, del Frente Amplio, la coalición que lidera Boric.

El proyecto de matrimonio igualitario fue firmado por la expresidenta Michelle Bachelet en 2017 y presentado ante el Congreso durante su segundo mandato. Sin embargo, no fue hasta enero de 2020 cuando la sala del Senado aprobó en general el proyecto con 22 votos a favor, 16 en contra y una abstención.

Posteriormente, el presidente del país, Sebastián Piñera, mostró su apoyo a la medida y ordenó suma urgencia.”Pienso que ha llegado el tiempo de garantizar esa libertad y esa dignidad a todas las personas, el tiempo del matrimonio igualitario en nuestro país”, dijo el jefe de Estado en su última cuenta pública.

“Luego de tres décadas de lucha, falta solo un trámite en el Senado para conquistar la hasta ahora esquiva igualdad legal que merece todas las parejas y familias”, destacó la vocera del Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (Movilh), Javiera Zúñiga, a través de un comunicado de prensa.

“Festejamos este nuevo paso, ahora con la total convicción de que estamos en la recta final. Especialmente felices porque se aprobaron por amplia mayoría todos las indicaciones sobre filiación y adopción homoparental que introducimos en la Cámara. Hablamos de 30 años de lucha, pero de siglos de segregación, cuyos días están contados, lo cual terminará con las injusticias y desigualdades que sufren las parejas del mismo sexo y las familias homoparentales”, añadió Zúñiga.

De no ser aprobado en el Senado, el proyecto de ley pasaría a una comisión mixta. Sin embargo, la actual presidenta de la Cámara Alta se comprometió a realizar su mayor esfuerzo para que sea despachado lo antes posible.

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