Connect with us

homepage news

LGBT advocates mark International Human Rights Day

Release of Senate CIA torture report overshadowed commemorations



Black History Month, gay news, Washington Blade

gay news, washington blade

Jason Collins, left, talks with Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy on Dec. 11, 2014, during an event on Capitol Hill that commemorated International Human Rights Day. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Advocates this week used International Human Rights Day to highlight the global LGBT rights movement.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson joined lesbian singer Mary Lambert and Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a researcher at Political Research Associates who exposed Scott Lively and other American evangelicals who traveled to Uganda and Nigeria before lawmakers introduced anti-LGBT laws, on a U.N. panel on Wednesday that gay MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts moderated. St. Lucian LGBT rights advocate Kenita Placide; transgender San Francisco Human Rights Commission Executive Director Theresa Sparks and Jane Clementi, mother of Tyler Clementi, a gay Rutgers University student who committed suicide in 2010 after his then-roommate used a webcam to watch him kissing another man in their dorm room, also took part.

“Far too long LGBT people have been made to feel as lesser human beings,” said Eliasson. “Such discrimination and the silence around it was and is a disgrace. Love is a family value.”

Placide, co-executive director of United and Strong, a St. Lucian LGBT advocacy group, highlighted her organization’s work.

“We are building capacity of LGBT persons to speak out for themselves,” she said.

USA Today columnist Christine Brennan on Wednesday moderated a panel during Human Rights First’s annual summit in D.C. that examined the way sports can promote human rights around the world. Retired Olympic diver Greg Louganis; Eli Wolff of the Institute for Human Centered Design and Shireen Ahmed, a women’s soccer player from Canada who is Muslim, took part.

Louganis, who tested positive for HIV six months before competing in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, said during the panel that South Korean officials would not allow Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion four years earlier, into the country to watch him compete because of his status. The gay retired Olympian noted he too would have been prevented from entering South Korea if authorities knew he was living with the virus.

Louganis pointed out he supported efforts that urged U.S. Olympic Committee not to have events in Cobb County, Ga., during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta because the municipality had an anti-gay law on the books. The USOC ultimately decided to hold them in Athens, Ga., but he said his advocacy raised eyebrows at the time.

“I always said that I was not political, but just by being myself and just sharing who I am,” said Louganis. “I am a gay man living with HIV who recently got married…all I can do is be myself. And I think in being myself and sharing myself with as many people as I can in whatever country I’m in, I am an advocate for just humanity and trying to do the best I can.”

Ahmed during the panel highlighted the case of Dutee Chand, an Indian sprinter who must undergo a so-called “gender test” in order for the Athletic Federation of India to allow her to compete against other women internationally. Ahmed nevertheless said participation in sports can help further the rights of LGBT people and other marginalized groups.

“Sport can be used as a vehicle for right and justice and peace,” she said.

The Pan American Health Organization this week hosted a two-day meeting in D.C. that focused on ways to improve the health of LGBT people throughout the Americas within the context of human rights. LGBT rights advocates from Nigeria, Russia, Jamaica, India, Cameroon, Malaysia, China, South Africa and St. Lucia on the same day attended an event at the New York Public Library that the International Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, Muslims for Progressive Values and other groups co-sponsored.

“It does not matter what country we live in, what our religious beliefs, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation is,” said gay U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster in a YouTube video that commemorated International Human Rights Day. “Because we are human, we therefore have rights that are bound to be protected by our governments.”

LGBT advocates celebrate progress, note setbacks

International Human Rights Day commemorates the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the U.N. General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948.

This year’s International Human Rights Day took place less than three months after the U.N. Human Rights Council ratified a resolution against anti-LGBT violence and discrimination.

Ty Cobb of the Human Rights Campaign on Thursday noted during a panel at the Capitol Visitor Center that U.S. Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) attended alongside gay retired basketball player Jason Collins, Charles Radcliffe of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and Patricia Davis of the State Department that Finnish lawmakers late last month approved a same-sex marriage bill.

Sweden, France, South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina are among the nearly two dozen countries in which gays and lesbians can legally marry. Same-sex couples are also now able to tie the knot in 35 states and D.C.

Denmark in June became the first European country to allow trans people to legally change their gender without undergoing sterilization and surgery. Lawmakers in Mexico City last month approved a measure that would allow trans people in the Mexican capital to legally change their gender without a court order.

The European Court of Justice earlier this month issued a landmark ruling that says EU member states cannot require gay asylum seekers to prove their sexual orientation.

Luisa Revilla, Miluska Luzquiños, Peru, gay news, Washington Blade

Luisa Revilla Urcia, left, speaks with Miluska Luzquiños on Sept. 5, 2014, during a meeting of LGBT activists from Latin America and the Caribbean in Lima, Peru. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Angélica Lozano in March became the first openly LGBT member of the Colombian Congress. Luisa Revilla Urcia in October won a seat on the local council in the Peruvian city of La Esperanza, thus becoming the first trans candidate elected to public office in the South American country.

Consensual same-sex sexual acts remain criminalized in more than 70 countries. Mauritania, Saudi Arabia and Iran are among the nations in which those found guilty of homosexuality face the death penalty.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh last month signed a draconian bill under which those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” face life in prison. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in February enacted a similar measure — Anti-Homosexuality Act, but the Ugandan Constitutional Court later struck it down on a technicality.

Egyptian authorities on Dec. 7 arrested dozens of men at a Cairo bathhouse on charges of “perversion” and “debauchery.” A pro-government television station subsequently broadcast video of the detained men that one of its reporters apparently filmed from inside the establishment during the raid.

“Progress has been made in some places,” said Lee on Thursday during the Capitol Hill event. “But today as we speak in far away places unlike this room that may be safe and secure, there are those who may be covering up their own failures and using it against the vitality, the vibrancy, the spirit of people who have the right to be themselves.”

Radcliffe also acknowledged the global backlash against the expansion of LGBT rights, although he cautioned it is “patchy” and “localized.”

“There is no other area of human rights where I can say we have seen such rapid progress in so many countries in such a short space of time,” he said. “It’s also true that there’s no other human rights issue that I can think of our that I work on where we see such organized, determined opposition and such well-organized opposition determined to try and halt and roll back these advances.”

U.S. government ‘must reflect’ founding ideals

President Obama in 2011 issued a presidential memorandum that mandated agencies charged with implementing American foreign policy to promote LGBT rights.

The State Department’s Global Equality Fund since 2011 has contributed $17 million to advocacy efforts throughout the world. The U.S. Agency for International Development in April 2013 launched the LGBT Global Development Partnership, a $16 million public-private initiative that seeks to promote LGBT rights in developing countries over four years.

The State Department and USAID last month hosted a conference in Washington that was designed to bolster funding of global LGBT advocacy efforts.

LGBT rights advocates earlier this year applauded the Obama administration for cutting aid to Uganda after Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act. The White House in June also issued a travel ban against Ugandan officials responsible for human rights abuses in the East African country.

Cicilline has introduced a bill — the Global Respect Act — that would impose visa bans against those who commit “gross human rights violations” against LGBT people.

“Our country of course was founded on the principles that everybody is equal, everyone must be respected and valued and all are free to pursue life, liberty and happiness,” said Cicilline. “The actions of our government should and must reflect those ideals.”

Brennan during the Human Rights First panel she moderated described Obama’s decision to appoint three LGBT people to the U.S. Olympic delegation to Sochi as “an amazing in your face right to” Russian President Vladimir Putin over his country’s LGBT rights record that includes a 2013 law banning the promotion of so-called gay propaganda of minors. She also noted the International Olympic Committee earlier in the week added sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination clause.

“If the IOC had in place what it has now in place — and we’ll hold them to it because sometimes they wiggle around on these things — they wouldn’t have been able to give the Olympics to Sochi,” said Brennan. “Or…the anti-gay propaganda law, whatever the heck that means, that was in place there would have had to be rescinded.”

The U.S. over the last year has faced criticism from some advocates who feel the White House is not doing enough to promote global LGBT rights.

Obama in August faced criticism after he invited Museveni, Jammeh and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to the White House during a summit that brought dozens of African heads of state to Washington. California Congresswoman Barbara Lee is among those who blasted USAID after reports emerged over the summer that said USAID used an HIV prevention workshop to try and undermine the Cuban government.

Washington Blade, Barack Obama, Gambia

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Gambian President Yahya Jammeh at the White House on Aug. 5, 2014. (Photo courtesy of the State Department)

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a report detailing “rectal feeding” and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” the Central Intelligence Agency used against al-Qaeda prisoners in the years following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the outgoing chair of the committee, and U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) are among those who argue the interrogation techniques amounted to torture.

“We are acutely aware that the U.S. definitely does not have a perfect record of protecting and promoting the human rights of all its citizens, including LGBT individuals,” said Davis during Thursday’s Capitol Hill panel. “We know we still have work to do here at home. And we’re very open about that when we talk about it.”


homepage news

Honoring the legacy of New Orleans’ 1973 UpStairs Lounge fire

Why the arson attack that killed 32 gay men still resonates 50 years later



Fifty years ago this week, 32 gay men were killed in an arson attack on the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans. (Photo by G.E. Arnold/Times-Picayune; reprinted with permission)

On June 23 of last year, I held the microphone as a gay man in the New Orleans City Council Chamber and related a lost piece of queer history to the seven council members. I told this story to disabuse all New Orleanians of the notion that silence and accommodation, in the face of institutional and official failures, are a path to healing.  

The story I related to them began on a typical Sunday night at a second-story bar on the fringe of New Orleans’ French Quarter in 1973, where working-class men would gather around a white baby grand piano and belt out the lyrics to a song that was the anthem of their hidden community, “United We Stand” by the Brotherhood of Man. 

“United we stand,” the men would sing together, “divided we fall” — the words epitomizing the ethos of their beloved UpStairs Lounge bar, an egalitarian free space that served as a forerunner to today’s queer safe havens. 

Around that piano in the 1970s Deep South, gays and lesbians, white and Black queens, Christians and non-Christians, and even early gender minorities could cast aside the racism, sexism, and homophobia of the times to find acceptance and companionship for a moment. 

For regulars, the UpStairs Lounge was a miracle, a small pocket of acceptance in a broader world where their very identities were illegal. 

On the Sunday night of June 24, 1973, their voices were silenced in a murderous act of arson that claimed 32 lives and still stands as the deadliest fire in New Orleans history — and the worst mass killing of gays in 20th century America. 

As 13 fire companies struggled to douse the inferno, police refused to question the chief suspect, even though gay witnesses identified and brought the soot-covered man to officers idly standing by. This suspect, an internally conflicted gay-for-pay sex worker named Rodger Dale Nunez, had been ejected from the UpStairs Lounge screaming the word “burn” minutes before, but New Orleans police rebuffed the testimony of fire survivors on the street and allowed Nunez to disappear.

As the fire raged, police denigrated the deceased to reporters on the street: “Some thieves hung out there, and you know this was a queer bar.” 

For days afterward, the carnage met with official silence. With no local gay political leaders willing to step forward, national Gay Liberation-era figures like Rev. Troy Perry of the Metropolitan Community Church flew in to “help our bereaved brothers and sisters” — and shatter officialdom’s code of silence. 

Perry broke local taboos by holding a press conference as an openly gay man. “It’s high time that you people, in New Orleans, Louisiana, got the message and joined the rest of the Union,” Perry said. 

Two days later, on June 26, 1973, as families hesitated to step forward to identify their kin in the morgue, UpStairs Lounge owner Phil Esteve stood in his badly charred bar, the air still foul with death. He rebuffed attempts by Perry to turn the fire into a call for visibility and progress for homosexuals. 

“This fire had very little to do with the gay movement or with anything gay,” Esteve told a reporter from The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I do not want my bar or this tragedy to be used to further any of their causes.” 

Conspicuously, no photos of Esteve appeared in coverage of the UpStairs Lounge fire or its aftermath — and the bar owner also remained silent as he witnessed police looting the ashes of his business. 

“Phil said the cash register, juke box, cigarette machine and some wallets had money removed,” recounted Esteve’s friend Bob McAnear, a former U.S. Customs officer. “Phil wouldn’t report it because, if he did, police would never allow him to operate a bar in New Orleans again.” 

The next day, gay bar owners, incensed at declining gay bar traffic amid an atmosphere of anxiety, confronted Perry at a clandestine meeting. “How dare you hold your damn news conferences!” one business owner shouted. 

Ignoring calls for gay self-censorship, Perry held a 250-person memorial for the fire victims the following Sunday, July 1, culminating in mourners defiantly marching out the front door of a French Quarter church into waiting news cameras. “Reverend Troy Perry awoke several sleeping giants, me being one of them,” recalled Charlene Schneider, a lesbian activist who walked out of that front door with Perry.

(Photo by G.E. Arnold/Times-Picayune; reprinted with permission)

Esteve doubted the UpStairs Lounge story’s capacity to rouse gay political fervor. As the coroner buried four of his former patrons anonymously on the edge of town, Esteve quietly collected at least $25,000 in fire insurance proceeds. Less than a year later, he used the money to open another gay bar called the Post Office, where patrons of the UpStairs Lounge — some with visible burn scars — gathered but were discouraged from singing “United We Stand.” 

New Orleans cops neglected to question the chief arson suspect and closed the investigation without answers in late August 1973. Gay elites in the city’s power structure began gaslighting the mourners who marched with Perry into the news cameras, casting suspicion on their memories and re-characterizing their moment of liberation as a stunt. 

When a local gay journalist asked in April 1977, “Where are the gay activists in New Orleans?,” Esteve responded that there were none, because none were needed. “We don’t feel we’re discriminated against,” Esteve said. “New Orleans gays are different from gays anywhere else… Perhaps there is some correlation between the amount of gay activism in other cities and the degree of police harassment.” 

(Photo by H.J. Patterson/Times-Picayune; reprinted with permission)

An attitude of nihilism and disavowal descended upon the memory of the UpStairs Lounge victims, goaded by Esteve and fellow gay entrepreneurs who earned their keep via gay patrons drowning their sorrows each night instead of protesting the injustices that kept them drinking. 

Into the 1980s, the story of the UpStairs Lounge all but vanished from conversation — with the exception of a few sanctuaries for gay political debate such as the local lesbian bar Charlene’s, run by the activist Charlene Schneider. 

By 1988, the 15th anniversary of the fire, the UpStairs Lounge narrative comprised little more than a call for better fire codes and indoor sprinklers. UpStairs Lounge survivor Stewart Butler summed it up: “A tragedy that, as far as I know, no good came of.” 

Finally, in 1991, at Stewart Butler and Charlene Schneider’s nudging, the UpStairs Lounge story became aligned with the crusade of liberated gays and lesbians seeking equal rights in Louisiana. The halls of power responded with intermittent progress. The New Orleans City Council, horrified by the story but not yet ready to take its look in the mirror, enacted an anti-discrimination ordinance protecting gays and lesbians in housing, employment, and public accommodations that Dec. 12 — more than 18 years after the fire. 

“I believe the fire was the catalyst for the anger to bring us all to the table,” Schneider told The Times-Picayune, a tacit rebuke to Esteve’s strategy of silent accommodation. Even Esteve seemed to change his stance with time, granting a full interview with the first UpStairs Lounge scholar Johnny Townsend sometime around 1989. 

Most of the figures in this historic tale are now deceased. What’s left is an enduring story that refused to go gently. The story now echoes around the world — a musical about the UpStairs Lounge fire recently played in Tokyo, translating the gay underworld of the 1973 French Quarter for Japanese audiences.

When I finished my presentation to the City Council last June, I looked up to see the seven council members in tears. Unanimously, they approved a resolution acknowledging the historic failures of city leaders in the wake of the UpStairs Lounge fire. 

Council members personally apologized to UpStairs Lounge families and survivors seated in the chamber in a symbolic act that, though it could not bring back those who died, still mattered greatly to those whose pain had been denied, leaving them to grieve alone. At long last, official silence and indifference gave way to heartfelt words of healing. 

The way Americans remember the past is an active, ongoing process. Our collective memory is malleable, but it matters because it speaks volumes about our maturity as a people, how we acknowledge the past’s influence in our lives, and how it shapes the examples we set for our youth. Do we grapple with difficult truths, or do we duck accountability by defaulting to nostalgia and bluster? Or worse, do we simply ignore the past until it fades into a black hole of ignorance and indifference? 

I believe that a factual retelling of the UpStairs Lounge tragedy — and how, 50 years onward, it became known internationally — resonates beyond our current divides. It reminds queer and non-queer Americans that ignoring the past holds back the present, and that silence is no cure for what ails a participatory nation. 

Silence isolates. Silence gaslights and shrouds. It preserves the power structures that scapegoat the disempowered. 

Solidarity, on the other hand, unites. Solidarity illuminates a path forward together. Above all, solidarity transforms the downtrodden into a resounding chorus of citizens — in the spirit of voices who once gathered ‘round a white baby grand piano and sang, joyfully and loudly, “United We Stand.” 

(Photo by Philip Ames/Times-Picayune; reprinted with permission)

Robert W. Fieseler is a New Orleans-based journalist and the author of “Tinderbox: the Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation.”

Continue Reading

homepage news

New Supreme Court term includes critical LGBTQ case with ‘terrifying’ consequences

Business owner seeks to decline services for same-sex weddings



The U.S. Supreme Court is to set consider the case of 303 Creative, which seeks to refuse design services for same-sex weddings. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The U.S. Supreme Court, after a decision overturning Roe v. Wade that still leaves many reeling, is starting a new term with justices slated to revisit the issue of LGBTQ rights.

In 303 Creative v. Elenis, the court will return to the issue of whether or not providers of custom-made goods can refuse service to LGBTQ customers on First Amendment grounds. In this case, the business owner is Lorie Smith, a website designer in Colorado who wants to opt out of providing her graphic design services for same-sex weddings despite the civil rights law in her state.

Jennifer Pizer, acting chief legal officer of Lambda Legal, said in an interview with the Blade, “it’s not too much to say an immeasurably huge amount is at stake” for LGBTQ people depending on the outcome of the case.

“This contrived idea that making custom goods, or offering a custom service, somehow tacitly conveys an endorsement of the person — if that were to be accepted, that would be a profound change in the law,” Pizer said. “And the stakes are very high because there are no practical, obvious, principled ways to limit that kind of an exception, and if the law isn’t clear in this regard, then the people who are at risk of experiencing discrimination have no security, no effective protection by having a non-discrimination laws, because at any moment, as one makes their way through the commercial marketplace, you don’t know whether a particular business person is going to refuse to serve you.”

The upcoming arguments and decision in the 303 Creative case mark a return to LGBTQ rights for the Supreme Court, which had no lawsuit to directly address the issue in its previous term, although many argued the Dobbs decision put LGBTQ rights in peril and threatened access to abortion for LGBTQ people.

And yet, the 303 Creative case is similar to other cases the Supreme Court has previously heard on the providers of services seeking the right to deny services based on First Amendment grounds, such as Masterpiece Cakeshop and Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. In both of those cases, however, the court issued narrow rulings on the facts of litigation, declining to issue sweeping rulings either upholding non-discrimination principles or First Amendment exemptions.

Pizer, who signed one of the friend-of-the-court briefs in opposition to 303 Creative, said the case is “similar in the goals” of the Masterpiece Cakeshop litigation on the basis they both seek exemptions to the same non-discrimination law that governs their business, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, or CADA, and seek “to further the social and political argument that they should be free to refuse same-sex couples or LGBTQ people in particular.”

“So there’s the legal goal, and it connects to the social and political goals and in that sense, it’s the same as Masterpiece,” Pizer said. “And so there are multiple problems with it again, as a legal matter, but also as a social matter, because as with the religion argument, it flows from the idea that having something to do with us is endorsing us.”

One difference: the Masterpiece Cakeshop litigation stemmed from an act of refusal of service after owner, Jack Phillips, declined to make a custom-made wedding cake for a same-sex couple for their upcoming wedding. No act of discrimination in the past, however, is present in the 303 Creative case. The owner seeks to put on her website a disclaimer she won’t provide services for same-sex weddings, signaling an intent to discriminate against same-sex couples rather than having done so.

As such, expect issues of standing — whether or not either party is personally aggrieved and able bring to a lawsuit — to be hashed out in arguments as well as whether the litigation is ripe for review as justices consider the case. It’s not hard to see U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, who has sought to lead the court to reach less sweeping decisions (sometimes successfully, and sometimes in the Dobbs case not successfully) to push for a decision along these lines.

Another key difference: The 303 Creative case hinges on the argument of freedom of speech as opposed to the two-fold argument of freedom of speech and freedom of religious exercise in the Masterpiece Cakeshop litigation. Although 303 Creative requested in its petition to the Supreme Court review of both issues of speech and religion, justices elected only to take up the issue of free speech in granting a writ of certiorari (or agreement to take up a case). Justices also declined to accept another question in the petition request of review of the 1990 precedent in Smith v. Employment Division, which concluded states can enforce neutral generally applicable laws on citizens with religious objections without violating the First Amendment.

Representing 303 Creative in the lawsuit is Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm that has sought to undermine civil rights laws for LGBTQ people with litigation seeking exemptions based on the First Amendment, such as the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

Kristen Waggoner, president of Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote in a Sept. 12 legal brief signed by her and other attorneys that a decision in favor of 303 Creative boils down to a clear-cut violation of the First Amendment.

“Colorado and the United States still contend that CADA only regulates sales transactions,” the brief says. “But their cases do not apply because they involve non-expressive activities: selling BBQ, firing employees, restricting school attendance, limiting club memberships, and providing room access. Colorado’s own cases agree that the government may not use public-accommodation laws to affect a commercial actor’s speech.”

Pizer, however, pushed back strongly on the idea a decision in favor of 303 Creative would be as focused as Alliance Defending Freedom purports it would be, arguing it could open the door to widespread discrimination against LGBTQ people.

“One way to put it is art tends to be in the eye of the beholder,” Pizer said. “Is something of a craft, or is it art? I feel like I’m channeling Lily Tomlin. Remember ‘soup and art’? We have had an understanding that whether something is beautiful or not is not the determining factor about whether something is protected as artistic expression. There’s a legal test that recognizes if this is speech, whose speech is it, whose message is it? Would anyone who was hearing the speech or seeing the message understand it to be the message of the customer or of the merchants or craftsmen or business person?”

Despite the implications in the case for LGBTQ rights, 303 Creative may have supporters among LGBTQ people who consider themselves proponents of free speech.

One joint friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court, written by Dale Carpenter, a law professor at Southern Methodist University who’s written in favor of LGBTQ rights, and Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment legal scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles, argues the case is an opportunity to affirm the First Amendment applies to goods and services that are uniquely expressive.

“Distinguishing expressive from non-expressive products in some contexts might be hard, but the Tenth Circuit agreed that Smith’s product does not present a hard case,” the brief says. “Yet that court (and Colorado) declined to recognize any exemption for products constituting speech. The Tenth Circuit has effectively recognized a state interest in subjecting the creation of speech itself to antidiscrimination laws.”

Oral arguments in the case aren’t yet set, but may be announced soon. Set to defend the state of Colorado and enforcement of its non-discrimination law in the case is Colorado Solicitor General Eric Reuel Olson. Just this week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would grant the request to the U.S. solicitor general to present arguments before the justices on behalf of the Biden administration.

With a 6-3 conservative majority on the court that has recently scrapped the super-precedent guaranteeing the right to abortion, supporters of LGBTQ rights may think the outcome of the case is all but lost, especially amid widespread fears same-sex marriage would be next on the chopping block. After the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against 303 Creative in the lawsuit, the simple action by the Supreme Court to grant review in the lawsuit suggests they are primed to issue a reversal and rule in favor of the company.

Pizer, acknowledging the call to action issued by LGBTQ groups in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision, conceded the current Supreme Court issuing the ruling in this case is “a terrifying prospect,” but cautioned the issue isn’t so much the makeup of the court but whether or not justices will continue down the path of abolishing case law.

“I think the question that we’re facing with respect to all of the cases or at least many of the cases that are in front of the court right now, is whether this court is going to continue on this radical sort of wrecking ball to the edifice of settled law and seemingly a goal of setting up whole new structures of what our basic legal principles are going to be. Are we going to have another term of that?” Pizer said. “And if so, that’s terrifying.”

Continue Reading

homepage news

Kelley Robinson, a Black, queer woman, named president of Human Rights Campaign

Progressive activist a veteran of Planned Parenthood Action Fund



Kelley Robinson (Screen capture via HRC YouTube)

Kelley Robinson, a Black, queer woman and veteran of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, is to become the next president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s leading LGBTQ group announced on Tuesday.

Robinson is set to become the ninth president of the Human Rights Campaign after having served as executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and more than 12 years of experience as a leader in the progressive movement. She’ll be the first Black, queer woman to serve in that role.

“I’m honored and ready to lead HRC — and our more than three million member-advocates — as we continue working to achieve equality and liberation for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people,” Robinson said. “This is a pivotal moment in our movement for equality for LGBTQ+ people. We, particularly our trans and BIPOC communities, are quite literally in the fight for our lives and facing unprecedented threats that seek to destroy us.”

Kelley Robinson IS NAMED as The next human rights Campaign president

The next Human Rights Campaign president is named as Democrats are performing well in polls in the mid-term elections after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving an opening for the LGBTQ group to play a key role amid fears LGBTQ rights are next on the chopping block.

“The overturning of Roe v. Wade reminds us we are just one Supreme Court decision away from losing fundamental freedoms including the freedom to marry, voting rights, and privacy,” Robinson said. “We are facing a generational opportunity to rise to these challenges and create real, sustainable change. I believe that working together this change is possible right now. This next chapter of the Human Rights Campaign is about getting to freedom and liberation without any exceptions — and today I am making a promise and commitment to carry this work forward.”

The Human Rights Campaign announces its next president after a nearly year-long search process after the board of directors terminated its former president Alphonso David when he was ensnared in the sexual misconduct scandal that led former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign. David has denied wrongdoing and filed a lawsuit against the LGBTQ group alleging racial discrimination.

Kelley Robinson, Planned Parenthood, Cathy Chu, SMYAL, Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders, Amy Nelson, Whitman-Walker Health, Sheroes of the Movement, Mayor's office of GLBT Affairs, gay news, Washington Blade
Kelley Robinson, seen here with Cathy Chu of SMYAL and Amy Nelson of Whitman-Walker Health, is the next Human Rights Campaign president. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade