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Federal employees ‘frightened’ over Trump

Leaders of LGBT affinity groups across the gov’t decline interviews



federal employees, gay news, Washington Blade

Matthew Murphy, the only LGBT federal employee who agreed to speak openly, said he’s hopeful that existing policies would prevent the Trump administration from targeting LGBT employees. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In an ominous sign reminiscent of the George W. Bush era, many LGBT federal government employees contacted by the Washington Blade over the last two weeks declined to speak about the incoming Trump administration, saying they are “frightened” and “on guard,” raising concerns that workers will be forced back into the closet after eight years of a supportive Obama administration.

Representatives of eight of the 10 LGBT federal employee organizations that set up booths in D.C.’s 2016 Capital Pride Festival or marched in the Capital Pride Parade declined to talk to the Blade about the possible impact of the incoming Trump administration on LGBT federal workers.

Another five LGBT federal employees based in Washington agreed to speak to the Blade about their concerns over how LGBT federal workers may be treated under the Trump administration; all but one spoke on the condition that they not be identified.

“To be honest, people are concerned and there are people that are frightened,” said a gay administrator with a federal agency who asked not to be identified.

The administrator, who is an active member of his agency’s LGBT employee group, said he and his LGBT colleagues’ concerns aren’t directed as much toward President-elect Trump but instead are focused on the people Trump has named so far to head key federal agencies.

The gay administrator and other LGBT federal employees who spoke to the Blade joined several national LGBT rights organizations in expressing deep concern over Trump’s first round of high-level appointees, including his selection earlier this year of Gov. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) to be vice president.

Trump has said Pence, who has a longstanding record of opposition to LGBT rights, will serve as a high-level White House adviser on domestic issues, including the operation of key federal agencies and departments.

Other Trump nominees for cabinet level secretary positions also have records of embracing positions and policies hostile to LGBT rights. They include Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), whom Trump nominated to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who’s been nominated to be U.S. Attorney General; and Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Department of Education.

“The big question that most of us are really worried about is whether Trump will let Pence dictate personnel policy,” said a gay attorney who works for another federal agency and who also asked not to be identified.

“I don’t think anybody thinks that Trump is personally a homophobe,” said the attorney. “But our biggest fear is he would be indifferent to any abusive policies that Mike Pence might propose and that he would give Mike Pence a blank check.”

Matthew Murphy, the only LGBT federal employee the Blade could find so far who agreed to speak openly, is a senior attorney for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC.

Murphy is also the founder and president of a government-wide LGBT employee organization called FEDQ.

As someone familiar with U.S. civil rights laws and civil service regulations protecting the rights of federal employees, Murphy said he is hopeful that a wide range of existing policies and federal employee protections would prevent the new administration from targeting LGBT employees solely on grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“There is no guarantee that these couldn’t be changed,” he said. “But I’m optimistic. I think the ball is set in motion. It would be difficult to undo.”

Murphy pointed to the executive order issued by President Bill Clinton in 1998 that bans discrimination in the federal workforce on grounds of sexual orientation and a separate order issued by President Obama banning federal employee discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

Clinton issued another executive order prohibiting a government security clearance to be denied solely on grounds of someone’s sexual orientation.

During his presidential campaign Trump vowed to rescind many of Obama’s executive orders pertaining to other issues. And although Trump expressed some support for LGBT people in general during the campaign, political observers say his appointment of LGBT rights opponents to key positions raises questions about what he might do on LGBT-related matters.

Meanwhile, the EEOC, an independent federal agency in charge of enforcing U.S. civil rights laws, recently issued a legal opinion declaring that a provision in the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans employment discrimination based on sex can be interpreted to ban employment discrimination against LGBT people.

The EEOC ruling is based on what it says is a legal interpretation that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are rooted in gender stereotyping of gay people and transgender people that falls under the purview of sex discrimination.

Murphy said this interpretation adds to the protections LGBT federal employees have against a hostile supervisor or agency head who might target them for discrimination.

“I think it will be kind of difficult to roll back all the progress that we’ve made,” he said. “We’ve come a long way.”

He nevertheless said he understands the concerns LGBT federal employees have and why some would be reluctant to speak openly or speak at all to the Blade.

Making it easier to fire fed’l employees

Donald Trump, gay news, Washington Blade

President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks are exacerbating fears that the next four years will be tough on LGBT federal employees. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The concerns raised by LGBT employees and representatives of LGBT federal employee organizations come at a time when Trump and representatives of his presidential transition team have said they plan to make unprecedented changes in the federal civil service system.

Among their proposed changes is an overhaul of current policies and regulations to make it easier to fire federal employees for “poor job performance” and to end the longtime assumption that federal workers could automatically keep their job “for life” until they choose to retire.

A spokesperson for Trump’s presidential transition team couldn’t immediately be reached to determine Trump’s position on LGBT federal employees and the LGBT employee groups that have formed in recent years in more than a dozen federal agencies and departments.

Gay Trump supporter Joseph Murray II, an attorney and conservative commentator who served as administrator of the pro-Trump Facebook page LGBTrump, said he doesn’t believe LGBT federal workers will be targeted under the Trump administration.

“I don’t think anybody who is LGBT has anything to fear from being LGBT,” Murray said. “I think our existing statutory protections against unlawful job discrimination will protect LGBT folks regardless of whoever is sitting in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Murray said it is well known that Trump has had numerous LGBT employees working for his businesses.

“I don’t think he cares about someone’s sexuality,” said Murray. “If you bring your ‘A’ game to the table and you produce results and you get things done I think that’s the only thing he’s interested in.”

According to Murray, Trump appointees like Pence and Sessions would be unlikely to target LGBT federal employees for discrimination because they know doing that would almost certainly result in widespread news media coverage.

Murray said “left-leaning” LGBT federal employees who seek to undermine the mission of the Trump administration might be targeted for termination. But he said any adverse action against them would be based on their ideology, not their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Laura Goulding, a spokesperson for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the federal workforce, said OPM in 2015 prepared and released a comprehensive document outlining the rights and procedures available for LGBT employees who believe they encounter workplace discrimination.

The document, Addressing Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination in Federal Civilian Employment: A Guide to Employment Rights, Protections, and Responsibilities, can be accessed at

Among other things, the guide says LGBT federal employees enjoy protection under the U.S. Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which was passed by Congress. The act prohibits discrimination based on conduct that does not adversely affect job performance, which has been interpreted to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the OPM guide.

The guide says the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency that investigates complaints alleging prohibited personnel practices, has determined that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination constitute a prohibited personnel practice.

The LGBT employee groups that hosted booths at the Capital Pride festival in June or marched in the Pride parade one day before the festival and who declined to be interviewed for this story were affiliated with these federal agencies: Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Justice, National Counterterrorism Center, U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Kerri Hannan, president of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, which represents LGBT State Department employees, released a one sentence statement to the Blade.

“We do not yet know to what degree LGBT rights abroad will be a priority under President-elect Trump’s administration, but are ready to work with his transition team and the new administration to address important issues that impact LGBT employees of foreign affairs agencies,” the statement says.

Murphy, the FEDQ president, said FEDQ was formed, in part, when he and other LGBT federal employees determined that the longstanding LGBT federal workers group Federal GLOBE was no longer functioning as an active advocacy group for LGBT federal workers.

Federal GLOBE was founded in 1988 by the late gay activist and Smithsonian Institution official Leonard Hirsch. It has been credited with helping to create and nurture LGBT employee groups in as many as 50 federal agencies over a period of 20 years.

The gay administrator of one of the federal agencies who spoke to the Blade on condition of not being identified said Federal Globe may have been a “victim of its own success.” He noted that beginning with the Clinton administration and continuing through the Obama administration, LGBT people saw major advances, including marriage equality, the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law banning gays from serving openly in the military, and the appointment of an unprecedented number of openly LGBT people to high-level positions in the Obama administration.

Murphy of FEDQ said it appeared that Federal GLOBE members in more recent years didn’t think the organization was needed any longer in light of all those advances.

But now, with the uncertainty of the Trump administration, FEDQ’s board of directors believes a government-wide LGBT employee group is needed more than ever, Murphy told the Blade.

“We have serious concerns and that’s why we think it’s important for LGBT employees now to kind of stand up and have their voices heard,” he said. “We think that’s really important.”

Murphy said one of FEDQ’s biggest projects right now is a campaign to encourage and assist the LGBT employee groups in the different federal agencies to become officially recognized as an employee group by those agencies. Doing that, he said, gives them official standing and would make it less likely that a hostile agency director could disband the LGBT groups or treat LGBT employees in a less than fair way.

“We feel now is the time for LGBT employees to be on guard,” he said. “We realize we can’t sit back and be comfortable.”

Murphy, who noted that FEDQ was founded in April 2013, said the group plans to “work hard to develop relationships within the Trump administration,” especially with the people the president-elect appoints to head and run federal agencies.

He said the group also plans to develop partnerships with religious organizations that are LGBT allies.


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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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