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Rea Carey: ‘I’m not stepping down’

Review of Creating Change practices underway after protests



Rea Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force, gay news, Washington Blade
Rea Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force, gay news, Washington Blade

National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey has no plans to resign in the wake of January’s protest at the annual Creating Change conference that forced the cancellation of a reception with two Israeli activists.

“There are a lot of opinions both from people who were and weren’t there,” Carey told the Washington Blade during an interview at the Task Force’s offices in Northwest D.C. on Feb. 25. “I love the work that I do and I’m not stepping down.”

Carey spoke with the Blade a month after more than 200 people opposed to “pinkwashing,” which they describe as the promotion of Israel’s LGBT rights record in an attempt to deflect attention away from its policies toward the Palestinians, protested the reception at the Creating Change conference in Chicago.

A Wider Bridge, an organization that seeks to bolster “LGBTQ connections with Israel,” organized the reception. Sarah Kala-Meir and Tom Canning from the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance were scheduled to speak, but they left the room in which the gathering was taking place through a back door as protesters began shouting.

Organization does not have ‘international mission’

The National LGBTQ Task Force initially cancelled the reception amid criticism from Dean Spade, founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and others who accused A Wider Bridge of “pinkwashing.” Carey later reversed this decision.

She stressed that the National LGBTQ Task Force “does not have a policy stance on the Israeli Palestinian conflict.” Carey also touched upon the debate around the campaign in support of a boycott, economic divestment and sanctions against Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians that took place during the protest and in the days and weeks afterwards.

“We are not an organization with an international mission,” she said.

A Wider Bridge CEO Arthur Slepian told the Blade on Monday that he welcomes Carey’s comments on the Israeli government’s policies toward the Palestinians.

“That’s a good thing,” said Slepian. “It should not be the role of the National LGBTQ Task Force to have a policy position on the conflict.”

Dana Beyer, a member of A Wider Bridge’s board of directors, agreed.

“Our goal as LGBT organizations is to do the best we can for our citizens and for those elsewhere in the world who need our help and want their help,” she told the Blade on Monday during an interview. “We need to be concerned about their well-being, not the geo-political situations in which they live.”

Safety of conference participants top priority

Carey throughout the interview said the decisions she made around the A Wider Bridge reception were about safety.

“It is in fact at the core of every decision I made about that reception, including to cancel it,” she said.

She told the Blade that A Wider Bridge promoted the reception “more publicly for people to come in from the outside.”

“That happens sometimes with our receptions … so it was a public thing,” said Carey. “We can’t always check badges as we do with the plenaries and workshops to make sure that people have registered for the conference.”

Carey said standard protocol for Creating Change is to make sure that those who attend a workshop or plenary are registered and have a nametag.

“[If they] don’t have one we simply ask them to go register, please go get a nametag and go on back,” she said. “It’s so hard to do that on reception night … you’ve got 4,000 people going from hallway to hallway, room to room, plus some receptions have made them open to the public.”

Carey told the Blade that most of those who organized the protest did not register for the conference. Slepian dismissed suggestions that his organization’s decision to promote the reception contributed to the protest.

“In the weeks leading up to the conference, there was just some agitation from a small number of folks who were complaining that we were on the itinerary,” he said.

Staff helped ‘deescalate’ situation with police

Carey said that Task Force staff spoke with security personnel at the Chicago Hilton about the protests that they expected to take place. She told the Blade that they did not want them to call the police “unless things got really violent or something,” in part, because of the controversy surrounding the shootings of Laquan McDonald and other people of color in Chicago.

“My worst fears were that this gets out of hand somehow, the police are on site and it gets worse and worse,” said Carey.

Carey told the Blade that Task Force staff were inside and outside the reception “to try to deescalate things, which they tried to do actually outside the reception at one point.”

Hotel personnel nevertheless called the police.

“We then, our staff, were talking to the police trying to get them to help deescalate the situation, knowing the experiences that many of our attendees have had with the police,” she said. “Unfortunately that itself was going to be a challenge for a number of people. It was a very intense situation where I think a lot of people were trying to deescalate it.”

‘Peacekeepers’ possible at future conferences

Carey in the weeks after the protest has reached out to organizers.

Slepian told the Blade that he and Carey had a “very cordial conversation” for nearly an hour. Carey has also exchanged emails with Jerusalem Open House Executive Director Sarah Kala-Meir.

“On site we started assessing what we did, what we could have done,” said Carey. “We started to talk with people.”

Carey told the Blade it “would have been helpful if we could have had conversations” with A Wider Bridge and other organizations holding the reception about “what they felt they needed in the room.” She said they did not consider the need for security during the event.

Slepian disputes this account.

He told the Blade that there was a person inside the room in which the reception took place for security.

“That person basically used his body to barricade the door to keep the protesters outside,” said Slepian.

Carey said she and Task Force staff could have also spoken with the protest organizers.

Bashar Makhay, one of the protest organizers with whom the Blade has previously spoken, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment this week.

“We have protests at Creating Change,” said Carey. “Often times when we talk to the protest organizers, we’re actually able to create a situation where they get to have a protest, have their voice heard, say what they want to say and make sure that it’s a protest that doesn’t turn into something that they don’t want and we don’t want, whether it’s physical violence or insulting other people.”

Carey told the Blade that the layout of the reception rooms in the hotel “exacerbated the situation.” She added another solution at which the organization is looking for future Creating Change conferences is to use so-called “peacekeepers” who are trained to de-escalate protests and other situations.

“I wish it hadn’t gotten to the point where the police had been called by the hotel,” she said.

Carey told the Blade that the National LGBTQ Task Force is undertaking a larger assessment of Creating Change and how it can continue to be “the conference that moves our movement forward.” She stressed that the safety of those who attend the annual gathering remains her highest priority.

“Anything that happens under my watch is my responsibility, and I take it seriously,” said Carey. “I and we are learning and I think we’re going to come up with some creative and concrete recommendations with how we can move forward for the conference, for the organization and for the movement.”

Panel with ICE officials also cancelled

The first Creating Change Conference took place in D.C. in 1988.

Carey told the Blade that roughly 200 people attended the first conference that Task Force Director of Creating Change Sue Hyde and Urvashi Vaid organized.

This year’s Creating Change had 234 workshops, 70 caucus sessions, 31 events, two-dozen institutes and four plenary sessions. Several people delivered Carey’s annual State of the Movement speech that she traditionally gives during the gathering.

National LGBTQ Task Force, Creating Change, gay news, Washington Blade

Advocates attend the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference in Chicago in January. (Photo courtesy of the National LGBTQ Task Force)

Carey told the Blade that nearly 4,000 people attended this year’s Creating Change.

“It’s a lot of people,” she said.

Another controversy that emerged ahead of this year’s Creating Change was Carey’s decision to cancel a workshop that was to have featured three officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Carey noted to the Blade that government officials, including former White House LGBT liaison Gautam Raghavan, have attended Creating Change. She nevertheless decided to cancel the ICE workshop because a number of undocumented immigrants who had planned to attend said they would not feel safe.

“Personally I am an activist,” said Carey, noting she has been arrested twice during immigration reform protests. “I am happy to tell a government official what I think they should do any time, but this wasn’t the safest situation for a lot of people to do so, and we heard that.”

Immigration reform a ‘significant priority’

The Task Force, which was founded in 1973 as the National Gay Task Force, is the country’s oldest national LGBT advocacy group. It is among the dozens of LGBT advocacy groups that urged the Obama administration last month to stop conducting raids that have targeted undocumented immigrants from Central America. Carey’s organization has also advocated for comprehensive immigration reform, which includes the release of LGBT detainees in ICE custody.

“It is a very significant priority for the Task Force,” said Carey. “It is something that I personally care deeply about.”

Rea Carey, NGLTF, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, immigration reform, gay news, Washington Blade

National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey speaks at a 2013 rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform. (Photo by Kathy Plate)

Carey during the interview described her organization as “a racial, economic and social justice organization that works for the LGBTQ community.”

“For 43 years, we have always been an organization that has pushed this country to understand our full lives,” she told the Blade. “Part of that is looking at issues that, unfortunately, some don’t consider to be LGBTQ issues.”

Carey said her organization continues to advocate in support of expanded economic and employment opportunity for LGBT Americans, which includes opposing so-called religious freedom bills. She also sharply criticized congressional Republicans for their opposition to President Obama nominating someone to succeed the late-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who died last month.

“I am extremely disappointed and I would say as a voting citizen of this country angry that members of Congress would derail democracy,” Carey told the Blade.

Carey stressed her organization is not going to expand its mission into international issues.

“That is not our area of expertise,” she said. “We are a U.S.-based domestically focused and missioned organization and that’s our best work.”

“Having said that, we absolutely understand…there’s a global experience that we all have now,” added Carey. “So we absolutely understand that issues that happen in other countries around the world, conflicts that happen in other countries affect people here in the United States.”


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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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