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Huckabee urges conservatives to oppose Calif. trans law

Values Voter Summit features anti-LGBT attacks

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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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White House: ‘We have made clear’ Brittney Griner is being ‘unjustly detained’

Biden officials spoke to basketball player ‘in the last few days’

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White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. (Screen capture via C-SPAN)

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday he has spoken in the last few days with the wife of Brittney Griner as part of a larger effort within the Biden administration to secure the release of the lesbian basketball player in Russia whom supporters say is being unlawfully detained.

Sullivan made the comments speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One during President Biden’s trip to Europe in response to a question about efforts within the Biden administration to bring Griner home ahead of her expected trial in Russia.

“So first, Brittney Griner is wrongfully detained, unjustly detained, and we have made that clear as an official determination of the U.S. government,” Sullivan said. “Second, the Russian government should release her and allow her to be returned and reunited with her family and come home safe and sound.”

Sullivan added he — as well as Secretary of State Antony Blinken — have spoken with Griner’s wife Cherelle, to “convey our very deep sympathy, to convey that, you know, we just can’t even begin to imagine what the family must be going through, what Brittney — what Brittney must be going through.”

Griner, a professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury within the Women’s National Basketball Association, was detained in February by Russian Customs on allegations that cartridges of hashish oil were found in her luggage. Griner had gone to Russia to play with the Russian Premier League during the WNBA off-season.

Sullivan said the U.S. government “is actively engaged in trying to resolve this case and get Brittney home,” but added he’s constrained in what he could say because of confidentiality about the sensitive issue.

“But I will tell you it has the fullest attention of the president and every senior member of his national security and diplomatic team,” Sullivan said. “And we are actively working to find a resolution to this case, and will continue to do so without rest until we get Brittney safely home.”

The Biden administration, Sullivan added, is additionally working to return all unjustly detained Americans and hostages being held overseas,” including detainees in Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, Venezuela, and China.

The Washington Blade has placed a request with the State Department for a readout on Blinken’s role in the Biden administration’s talks with Griner.

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District of Columbia

D.C. house with rainbow Pride flag set on fire

Investigators seeking help from public in search for suspect

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A Pride flag remained displayed at the house in Shaw this past Sunday, one week after the fire in the rear of the house which fire officials have listed as arson. (Washington Blade photos by Lou Chibbaro Jr.)

The D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department has classified as arson a June 19 fire at a two-story row house on the 1800 block of 8th Street, N.W. in the city’s Shaw neighborhood that had an LGBTQ rainbow Pride flag prominently displayed on the front of the house.

A Fire & EMS Department spokesperson said the fire was ignited in a detached wooden garage in the rear of the house accessible only through an alley, and fire investigators have yet to identify a suspect or a motive for what evidence shows was an intentionally set fire.

Although the front of the brick rowhouse where the Pride flag was displayed was not damaged, the fire in the garage spread to the rear of the house, destroying a wooden outdoor deck, and caused extensive damage to the kitchen, bathroom, and second floor bedroom. Fire investigators have sealed the house, requiring its three occupants to find a temporary residence as the investigation continues.

One of the three occupants of the house, who was the only one at home when the fire started at about 2 a.m., escaped without injury, according to sources who know the occupants.

“The Pride flag on the front of the house was present at the time of the fire,” Jennifer Donelan, director of communications for the Fire & EMS Department, told the Washington Blade. “We do not have any information, at this time, that suggests the arson was related to the presence of the flag, however we are still working on the case,” she said.

“We are aggressively working to identify a suspect and a motive,” Donelan said. “Until such time, we won’t be able to make a determination as to whether or not this was a hate crime.”

She said the Fire & EMS Department is seeking help from the public in its effort to identify one or more suspects responsible for the fire. Anyone with information that could be helpful to the investigation is asked to call fire investigators at 202-673-2776.

The fire at the D.C. house with the Pride flag took place less than a week after Baltimore police said a house in that city’s Waverly neighborhood on which “Pride décor” was displayed was set on fire on June 15, causing extensive damage to the house and nearby houses.

Baltimore police and fire department officials said a Pride flag on a house across the street from the house set on fire was also ablaze when firefighters arrived on the scene. Two men were hospitalized in critical condition and a woman was listed in serious condition because of the fire ignited in the house.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott released a statement saying fire department officials had yet to determine a motive for the fire.

“At this point, we cannot confirm that this was a hate crime,” Scott said. “However, my agencies will bring every appropriate resource to bear to get to the bottom of this tragic event,” he said. “I continue to stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ community.”

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Europe

Turkish police arrest hundreds over banned Pride parade

Istanbul officials sought to prevent event from happening

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LGBTQ activists in Istanbul on June 26, 2022, with a banner reads: ""If you don't let us walk, we will open our asses" (Photo courtesy of Kuir Mavzer/Kaos GL)

Hundreds of LGBTQ people, allies and supporters took to the streets of Istanbul Sunday in defiance of the country’s government’s ongoing 2014 ban of Pride parades and Pride Month festivities.

Protestors violently clashed repeatedly with police and security forces in various neighborhoods located around the Bol Ahenk Sokak (Pedestrian Plaza) and other sections of the central downtown area.

Authorities had shut down the city’s transit systems hours prior to the influx of LGBTQ activists and demonstrators and flooded streets with police in riot gear who made hundreds of arrests, in some cases tear gassing participants and attacking them with clubs.

Government security forces arrested over 373 people including Agence France-Presse journalist and chief photographer Bülent Kılıç. Detainees were taken by bus to a central holding facility for processing. Photojournalist Mehmet Demirci documented the arrest of Kılıç in a Twitter post.

Ankara-based Kaos GL, the largest Turkish LGBTQ activist group, documented the arrests and clashes which occurred prior to the 5 p.m. planned parade kick-off in a series of Twitter posts.

KAOS GL in a press release on Monday noted that “the detentions experienced during the march, was among ‘firsts’ for this year. Totally 373 LGBTIs and LGBTI+ right defenders were taken into custody on the day of march! This number is a record both in the history of Pride marches and the other public demonstrations.”

The group also recorded the scope of anti-LGBTQ Pride Month bans and pressure by Turkey’s governmental bodies across the country.

“There were 10 ban decisions announced within the scope of Pride Month events. These ban decisions were taken by Boğaziçi University Rectorate, METU Rectorate, Gaziantep Governorship, Çanakkale Governorship, Datça District Governorship, Beyoğlu District Governorship, Kadıköy District Governorship, Eskişehir Governorship and İzmir Governorship.

The detentions began with 70 people at ninth Boğaziçi Pride March on May 20, increasingly went on till June 26. 373 people were taken into custody in Istanbul on June 26. This number is among the highest detentions within the context of the public demonstrations in İstanbul recent years. Totally 530 LGBTI+s and LGBTI+ right defenders were detained in 37 days.”

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