As voters ponder the likely choice of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president, LGBT rights advocates are sounding the alarm over just how much Trump could roll back the progress seen during the past eight years.
With divided government throughout much of the Obama administration, many advancements on LGBT rights came thanks to executive action. Because they don’t have the force of law, a new president could undo those with the stroke of a pen.
Chief among those actions is Obama’s 2014 executive order prohibiting federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT workplace discrimination. Obama signed the executive order after the Republican-controlled U.S. House failed to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (and after many LGBT groups dropped support for the bill over a religious exemption more expansive than one under current civil rights law).
TJ Helmstetter, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said Trump is “reckless, incoherent and dangerous” on a range of issues a poses a “serious threat” to advances in LGBT rights if elected president.
“The LGBT community would be set back decades,” Helmstetter said. “Trump would rescind President Obama’s pro-equality executive orders and he would appoint pro-discrimination Supreme Court justices. He would sign laws that allow businesses to kick out gay customers and ban transgender people from using the bathroom. The stakes could not be higher for our community and for all Americans.”
The Center for American Progress has compiled a list of eight executive actions benefiting LGBT rights enacted under the Obama administration that Trump could undo. Among them is a rule prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination in health care and insurance, a Department of Housing & Urban Development regulation prohibiting anti-LGBT bias in government-sponsored housing and endorsement of federal LGBT non-discrimination legislation known as the Equality Act.
Laura Durso, senior director of the Center for American Progress’ LGBT research and communications project, said the initiatives show the breadth of leadership on LGBT rights under Obama.
“These actions are in stark contrast to the outright hostility we have seen in a conservative-controlled Congress and, unfortunately, we have no reason to believe that a President Trump would advocate for LGBT issues in opposition to these members,” Durso said. “It is instructive that his list of potential Supreme Court nominees includes demonstrably anti-LGBT jurists.”
It’s hard to say to what extent — if at all — Trump would seek to roll back the advancements under his administration. After all, Trump hasn’t been as vitriolic in attacks on LGBT people as he has been with other minorities, including Latinos, women, the disabled and black activists. Still, Trump has said he’d consider appointing justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who would reverse the ruling in favor of nationwide marriage equality and would sign the First Amendment Defense Act, a religious freedom bill seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination, if Congress delivered it to his desk.
Trump has sworn to undo Obama’s executive actions that he deems unconstitutional — as soon as in one hour or even two minutes – after taking the oath of office on Inauguration Day. At a campaign town hall rally in December, Trump lamented, “the system is supposed to work” with Congress passing bills that are signed into law by the president, not executive orders.
“And then, all of a sudden, I started hearing: ‘Oh, well, he tried. He can’t do it.'” Trump said. “And boom. And another one, boom. And you have these executive actions. I don’t even think he tries anymore. I think he just signs executive actions.”
The candidate was speaking in reference to Obama’s immigration actions and it’s unclear he would include initiatives benefiting LGBT people among the orders he would undo. The Trump campaign didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment for this article on whether pro-LGBT initiatives would be among the actions he would undo.
But Trump already has vowed to rescind one LGBT action in particular. In an interview last month with the Washington Post, he said he would rescind the joint guidance from the Departments of Justice and Education prohibiting schools from discriminating against transgender students and guaranteeing them access to the restroom consistent with their gender identity. At the same time, Trump insisted “you have to protect everybody” and said transgender people are a small part of the population.
One legislative change is also on the table for Trump to change: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal. When Congress repealed the gay military ban in 2010, lawmakers left nothing in its place directing the U.S. military not to discriminate against or eject troops based on sexual orientation. Trump could institute a change that would administratively restore “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Matthew Thorn, executive director of the LGBT military group OutServe-SLDN, nonetheless said he doesn’t think Trump would be able to reverse openly gay military service.
“I think the service chiefs would strongly object to any administrative action from Trump on a reinstatement of a DADT,” Thorn said. “We are approaching five years since the repeal this September. I would find it highly unlikely that the Pentagon would reverse and reimplement a ban and conversations our organization has had are in line with that.”
The real danger, Thorn said, is Trump rolling back administrative changes, such as those benefiting LGBT veterans or status of forces agreements allowing service members to bring a same-sex spouse with them or overseas, or halting movement on lifting the ban on openly transgender service.
“If a Trump presidency could exist he would be met with strong objection and hearty voices from our organization and I strongly believe amongst individuals inside the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs department on any changes or reversal of advancements made for the LGBT military community,” Thorn said.
Trump has made one commitment to advance LGBT rights, but it was made 16 years ago and in this election cycle he hasn’t said whether he would follow through with it. In a 2000 interview with The Advocate, Trump said he’d support amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation, which is similar to the Equality Act pending before Congress (although he’s made no mention if he supports transgender inclusion, which the legislation also encompasses).
For months, the Trump campaign hasn’t responded to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on whether the candidate still supports adding sexual orientation to federal civil rights law, or if his position has since changed.
Charles Moran, a gay Republican activist seeking to represent Trump as a California delegate to the Republican National Convention, doubted Trump would seek to roll back LGBT rights because he “has not waded into the messy world of social politics” over the course of his campaign.
“I don’t think he’s going to be keen to jump in and start reversing President Obama’s executive orders,” Moran said. “While President Obama expanded the use of executive orders for LGBT protections, there were a number he simply continued from President Bush’s days. So hypothetically could a President Trump reverse some of President Obama’s executive orders concerning LGBT protections or rights? Of course. Is this likely to happen given his public policy positions and private business decisions leading up to this point? Absolutely not.”
Moran didn’t respond to a follow-up email to identify an LGBT protection that Obama continued from former President George W. Bush, who has a reputation for being anti-gay. When Obama signed his 2014 executive order against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination, he left in place a Bush-era religious exemption permitting religious organizations that are federal contractors to favor co-religionists in hiring practices.
Pointing to contributions Trump made to HIV/AIDS organizations, as reported by The New York Times, and the candidate’s support for gay rights in 2000, Moran said Trump is “the most LGBT-friendly candidate the Republican Party ran in 2015/2016.”
“While he does not have an electoral or legislative record to point to, he does have a business and philanthropic track record to read, and those indications look good for the LGBT community,” Moran said.
At the end of the day, a commitment from Trump on LGBT rights may not mean much. As Slate’s Jordan Weissman wrote earlier this month, Trump tends not to have policy positions, but “policy moods” that change as easily as the direction of the wind.
Take, for example, Trump’s position on North Carolina’s recently enacted House Bill 2. Trump initially expressed opposition to the anti-LGBT law, which bars cities from enacting pro-LGBT non-discrimination ordinances and prohibits transgender people from using the public restroom in school and government buildings consistent with their gender identity. But on the same day in a later interview, Trump backtracked on those views, saying “local communities and states should make the decision” on whether transgender people should be able to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity.
A number of safeguards are in place that would prevent Trump from making too many changes against LGBT rights, as least rapidly. The Administrative Procedure Act — a law enacted by Congress in 1946 governing the way in which administrative agencies may propose and establish rules — prohibits a quick change in regulation if a hostile administration takes over. Instituting new final regulations repealing these policies would be a multi-year process and require a justification for overturning them other than for political reasons.
Other changes are firmly in place as a result of law or changes by the courts. Although Trump has said he’d seek to appoint justices who’d overturn marriage equality, that effort would be a long shot and he unilaterally couldn’t change the right for same-sex couples to marry because the U.S. Supreme Court determined that’s a right afforded under the U.S. Constitution.
Trump may rescind the Obama administration order prohibiting schools from discriminating against transgender students, but that’s based on case law developed over two decades determining anti-trans bias amounts to gender discrimination under federal law. Courts and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have now begun to make the same determination for sexual-orientation discrimination.
But despite the independence of the judiciary, it wouldn’t be immune to a Trump presidency seeking to reverse advances on LGBT rights.
Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, declined to comment on any particular presidential candidate, but said the election is happening “in a critical period” of legal understanding of anti-LGBT discrimination and the next person who occupies the White House could influence that.
“Having federal judges who will rule fairly on these issues is essential,” Davidson said. “Whoever is president will influence the future composition of the EEOC, the Department of Justice’s leadership, and the makeup of the federal judiciary. In particular, given the Senate’s refusal to consider the nomination of Judge Garland to the Supreme Court, a future president may well choose who will fill the late Justice Scalia’s seat. While we can hope that, regardless of who is elected, those the future president appoints will continue to recognize that sexual-orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination barred by current federal statutes, that remains to be seen.”
Obama’s LGBT executive actions Trump could undo
∙ Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
∙ Final rule in May 2016 that protected LGBT people from discrimination in healthcare and insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
∙ Prison Rape Elimination Act implementation regulations in May 2012 to directly protect LGBT people.
∙ Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Rule in February 2012, protecting LGBT people in all HUD-funded programs.
∙ Comprehensive guidance in May 2016 on their interpretation of Title IX, clarifying that public schools receiving federal funding must treat transgender students in accordance with their gender identity.
∙ Guidance in July 2013 that all immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse would be reviewed in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.
∙ The Global Equality Fund, launched in 2011, which supports programs that advance the human rights LGBT persons around the world.
∙ Public endorsement of the Equality Act in November 2015, supporting comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.
Source: Center for American Progress
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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
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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, 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.”
Kelley Robinson, a Black, queer woman, named president of Human Rights Campaign
Progressive activist a veteran of Planned Parenthood Action Fund
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.”
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.
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