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Will civil rights groups support Equality Act?

Some key organizations like NAACP not yet on board



John Lewis, United States House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, Georgia, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade
John Lewis, United States House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, Georgia, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) is among the co-sponsors of the Equality Act. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Although many civil rights groups have endorsed the Equality Act, the reluctance of others to support the sweeping new LGBT rights bill raises questions about its viability.

The Washington Blade surveyed civil rights groups representing racial and religious minorities on whether they support the measure, which would amend the Civil Rights Act and Fair Housing Act to enshrine into law federal LGBT non-discrimination protections in employment, housing, education, jury service, credit, public accommodations and federal programs.

The civil rights groups were among the 80-plus organizations that were part of the coalition that sought to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which was limited to protections against anti-LGBT bias in the workplace and was standalone legislation that would leave the Civil Rights Act untouched. Unlike the Equality Act, which was introduced last week, ENDA languished in Congress without passage for decades.

Luis Torres, director of education policy for the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, told the Blade on Monday his organization “just signed up” as among the civil rights groups that support the Equality Act.

While initially the group withheld support for the legislation, Torres said LULAC “of course” agreed to support the Equality Act after the Human Rights Campaign agreed to review proposed changes to the bill. The organization seeks to add ethnicity to protected classes in the legislation and adding language centers to the list of establishments prohibited from engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination.

“We do still want to see changes, but we don’t want to hold off on the process,” Torres said. “We know that it’s moving already, so we want to make sure that we are supporting full equality in all its forms.”

The nation’s largest Latino advocacy group, the National Council of La Raza, was one of the few civil rights organizations to declare support for the Equality Act on the day of its introduction last week, making an announcement on the bill via Twitter.

Julian Teixeira, an NCLR spokesperson, affirmed via email his organization supports the Equality Act because “like our tweet said we believe equal rights = equal rights.”

Other civil rights groups declaring support for the Equality Act include Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Calfornia-based Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center.

But other key civil rights groups have yet to declare support for the Equality Act. Many groups have expressed concern over enacting LGBT non-discrimination protections by amending the Civil Rights Act, which they said could open up the historic law to dangerous poison-pill amendments or expanded religious accommodations if the legislation reaches the floor of the House and Senate.

At the same time, amending the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity would take existing legal precedent under the law to cover LGBT people. In an interview with SiriusXM’s Michelangelo Signorile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), lead sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, said it doesn’t “feel right” to separate the bill from the Civil Rights Act.

Kham Moua, a spokesperson for the Organization of Chinese Americans, signaled support for the legislation, but acknowledged concern about amending the Civil Rights Act to achieve non-discrimination protections.

“OCA supports the Equality Act,” Moua said. “Though we are concerned that key sections of the CRA may be hurt by potential toxic amendments, we believe that the act will further civil rights for all minority groups, particularly LGBT racial minority community members.”

Chief among the groups that haven’t endorsed the bill is the Leadership Council on Civil & Human Rights, an umbrella group founded in 1950 that coordinates national lobbying efforts for civil rights measures. The group supported ENDA, but has yet to endorse the Equality Act.

On the day the Equality Act was introduced, Wade Henderson, president of LCCHR, issued a statement applauding efforts to ban anti-LGBT discrimination, saying “we look forward to working toward passage of this bill or similar legislation” to the achieve those goals. An LCCHR spokesperson clarified for the Blade the organization supports the aims of the Equality Act, but is “still vetting this particular legislative vehicle.”

Not responding to repeated requests to comment on whether it supports the Equality Act is the NAACP, which was on the record in support of ENDA and marriage equality. Nothing on the organization’s website indicates the NAACP’s position on the bill.

Julian Bond, chairman emeritus of the NAACP, nonetheless wrote an op-ed piece for The Advocate prior to the introduction of the bill calling for the addition of LGBT protections to existing civil rights law.

“It’s time to add concrete protections for LGBT people to existing civil rights law, ensuring that sexual orientation and gender identity enjoy similar treatment as religion, national origin, and race; and guaranteeing nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing, public spaces and services, education, federal funding, and other areas,” Bond said. “It’s time for true federal equality: nothing more, nothing less.”

Tina Matsuoka, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, which has supported ENDA, said her organization supports the aims of the Equality Act, but is still reviewing the legislation.

“NAPABA has long supported LGBT equality, including the freedom to marry and full equality in the workplace and in public accommodations,” Matsuoka said. “We haven’t yet fully reviewed the Equality Act but it appears to include many anti-discrimination provisions that are consistent with our policy platform.”

Civil rights and legal groups that didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment on the Equality Act are the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Japanese American Citizens League, the A. Philip Randolph Institute and Legal Momentum.

One noteworthy group that has remained silent on the Equality Act is the Southern Poverty Law Center, which as part of its civil rights efforts has undertaken efforts to win marriage equality in the South. An SPLC spokesperson said experts who would be able to speak on the legislation were unavailable.

Another organization that seeks to bridge the LGBT and black communities came out enthusiastically in support of the legislation on the day of its introduction.

Sharon Lettman-Hicks, CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, said without federal legislation like the Equality Act, LGBT people have insufficient protection amid the current patchwork of state non-discrimination laws.

“When a person is both black and LGBT, discrimination — and the evils of blatant and systemic racism — is too common place and faced on a number of levels that are fundamentally unacceptable in a democracy,” Lettman-Hicks said. “As such, NBJC supports the Equality Act, which would provide vital legal protections to so many in the black LGBT community who are particularly vulnerable to discrimination in our nation.”

The Human Rights Campaign, which has taken the lead on the Equality Act and its promotion, didn’t respond to a request for comment on support from civil rights groups for the legislation.

Ian Thompson, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union, sought to allay concerns about opening up the Civil Rights Act to amendments by saying the adoption of dangerous measures would lead supporters to abandon the bill.

“I think what you see on the part of LGBT groups and women’s rights groups is a rock-solid commitment not to do anything with the legislation that’s going to undermine existing civil rights protections,” Thompson said.

Thompson acknowledged LCCHR and NAACP are currently not on board with the Equality Act, but said they’re in the process of evaluating the bill and have an underlying support for the idea of federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

Arguably as a reflection of discomfort with the bill among civil rights groups, two-thirds of the Congressional Black Caucus are designated as co-sponsors of the Equality Act. Thirty members of 46-member caucus were among the co-sponsors of the legislation.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, stopped short of endorsing the Equality Act upon its introduction, but maintained the caucus opposes anti-LGBT discrimination.

“We believe that all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, are entitled to protection of the law from discrimination in all aspects of American life,” Butterfield said. “We believe these principles must be enacted into law. We look forward to the opportunity to analyze the bill introduced today.”

Civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), said upon introduction of the bill, “This legislation is what justice requires, and like the recent Supreme Court decision, it is long overdue.”

Many women’s groups are at the forefront of efforts to pass the Equality Act. In addition to enacting LGBT non-discrimination protections, the legislation would add gender provisions to the public accommodations and federal program sections of the Civil Rights Act, which are currently absent from the statute.

Civil rights groups representing religious minorities generally had the same perspective on the Equality Act as women’s groups, even though the potential danger of amendments to the Civil Rights Act would apply to the religion provisions just as much as the race provisions.

Issuing statements in favor of the Equality Act upon its introduction were the Anti-Defamation League, the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism and the Interfaith Alliance.

Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, signaled support for the legislation in a statement to the Blade, commending the inclusion of legislation to ensure the Religious Freedom Restoration Act can’t be used to enable anti-LGBT discrimination.

“The National Council of Jewish Women supports passage of the Equality Act because we believe no one should be denied employment, housing, transportation, retail services, public accommodations or other programs because of discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity,” Kaufman said.

Sharon Bender, a spokesperson for B’nai B’rith International, said her organization supports the aims of the bill, but hasn’t yet vetted the Equality Act.

“We are generally supportive of protections for LGBT people from discrimination in workplace, housing, public accommodations, etc., but we haven’t had time to fully evaluate this particular vehicle for reaching that goal,” Bender said.

Not responding to a request for comment was Disciples Justice Action Network, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

Making a prediction civil rights groups would universally come on board with the Equality Act was Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Freedom for All Americans who formerly led the Americans for Workplace Opportunity coalition to pass ENDA in the previous Congress.

“We need to continue having open conversations with everyone – Republicans and Democrats alike – to ultimately achieve that consensus, and I’m confident that our allies in the civil rights community will continue to stand with us, as they long have done in the fight for LGBT equality,” McTighe said. “That partnership will also be integral in our state and local work where nondiscrimination protections are still lacking or under attack, including in cities like Houston, where Freedom for All Americans will partner with state and national groups to defend the nondiscrimination ordinance passed by the city last year.”


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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.”

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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.”

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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)
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