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A second open letter to Ivanka Trump

All sense of honesty and decency have escaped those at the White House



Ivanka Trump, gay news, Washington Blade

The LGBT community’s pleas to Ivanka Trump to moderate her father’s views have fallen on deaf ears. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

On Nov. 15, 2016 with high hopes for what you could do I published an open letter to you. It began, “I believe we must always keep an open line of communication with those we don’t agree with and the person on your side of this election I would enjoy having a cup of coffee with is you. As a supporter of Hillary Clinton the election didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. This isn’t the first campaign where my hopes were dashed. But the fight for the things I believe in and care about goes on. Ivanka, it would be great to have the opportunity to share with you how I lived my life. It is my conviction you would understand where those like myself are coming from and as senior adviser to your father that could be important and helpful as you help mold the administration.”

At the time many of us hoped you might be a moderating influence on social and economic issues relating to women, immigrants and the LGBTQ+ community. You didn’t respond to the letter when it was published. Then I met Omarosa Manigault, the president’s Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, at a reception honoring the new Secretary of the Veterans Administration. We had a very pleasant conversation and I handed her a copy of the letter in an envelope addressed to you, which she promised to deliver.

I never heard from her or you again. Seeing what your father and his administration are now doing and saying, you are probably correct in thinking responding wasn’t worthwhile. Clearly you either agree with what your father is doing or have zero influence to do anything about it. Both scenarios are disappointing. This time I am not expecting a response.

Your father, the president, has become an embarrassment to the nation. He has been called all kinds of names by those who disagree with him and some may be over the top. But I can only conclude by his behavior and speeches he can fairly be described as a boorish pig. His conduct overseas including roughly pushing aside the prime minister of Montenegro to get to his place in a photo op and his remarks on the figure of the wife of French President Macron were offensive.

His statements on efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act leave one perplexed and with the clear impression he has no idea what he is talking about. Inviting members of the House of Representatives to the Rose Garden one day to celebrate passage of their bill, then calling it ‘mean’ days later. Yes it is mean. But then he supports an even meaner Senate bill finally begging them to do something no matter how hateful it is.  Thankfully three decent Republican senators and every Democrat agreed both the House version, the Senate version he first supported, and the ‘skinny’ version are all mean-spirited and wrong-headed and voted them down. Clearly your father has yet to figure out the ‘art of the political deal.’

Then your father went further in showing how boorish and totally clueless he is with his speech to the Boy Scouts at their Jamboree. I am a Scout. In 1960, along with nearly 60,000 other Scouts, I attended the National Jamboree in Colorado Springs celebrating 50 years of scouting. That year another president, Dwight David Eisenhower, spoke. Whatever his politics he was a man with a reputation for decency and a military hero. Though I was a Democrat even then, supporting John F. Kennedy for president, I was inspired by Eisenhower’s words when he talked about trustworthiness, honor, honesty, valor and the importance of service to the nation. There is not one scout who when they think back on your father’s meandering remarks will be inspired to service. His use of curse words, talking about cocktail parties and women in New York; bashing a former president and threatening to fire one of his cabinet secretaries if a bill didn’t pass Congress, (let’s see if he does that now that the bill has failed) were totally inappropriate. The Boy Scouts for the first time ever had to apologize for a president’s speech.  I can’t imagine even you weren’t embarrassed by that spectacle.

Your father has gone so far off track I find myself feeling sorry for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a man I have always considered a racist. Your father talked about loyalty to the Boy Scouts; clearly your father’s concept of loyalty is a one-way street. Threatening Sessions for upholding the ‘rule of law’ is the height of stupidity and as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, if your father fired him there would be ‘holy hell’ to pay.

In a random early morning tweet your father attacked the LGBTQ+ community and heroic transgender members of the military announcing trans people will no longer be welcome to serve and possibly die for the nation. Something he was never willing to do. His new press secretary trying to explain the tweet lied about it saying it was in concurrence with the Department of Defense. In reality the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense have said they knew nothing about the tweet and the secretary had just announced a six-month study of the issue. Clearly lying at the White House has reached epidemic proportions.

So, Ivanka, the hope you and your husband would have any ability or even desire to moderate some of you father’s behavior is long gone. Instead we have seen you and Jared hire lawyers to defend what seems indefensible. We have witnessed both you and his inability to honestly fill out government forms including financial disclosure forms and at least his SF-86 needed to get a security clearance. The excuse on finances from your husband seems to be he is so rich it’s natural he forgot to report on numerous holdings. As to the security form he now admits he forgot over 100 meetings with foreign agents and is on his third or fourth iteration of the form in what he says is an attempt to be honest and forthcoming.

My God, how can he do his job if he really has such a poor memory? Or was he simply displaying selective memory hoping he could get away with it? When he signed the original form he swore to its truth that could be enough to send him to jail.

In fact, it appears all sense of honesty and plain decency have escaped most of those at the White House. You are all being caught up in the sludge oozing out of that venerable building; the building often called the people’s house. If this keeps up decent people will not want any association with that beautiful building,  recently home to a family that represented what is best in America, until your father stops disgracing it and the country.

Many of us who harbored hope you would be a champion for decency now count the days until your father either leaves voluntarily or is thrown out. Only then will the American people once again be able to lift up our heads with pride when facing the world community.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Someone needs to answer for monkeypox

A giant middle finger to Xavier Becerra for blaming us



Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra. (Photo public domain via HHS Facebook)

Did you lie to get your monkey pox shot? 

Well, maybe not lie, lie, but were you perhaps a little, say, economical with the truth? I mean, those eligibility questions were at times ping ponging between the highly personal to the incredibly vague. How many men have you slept with in the last two weeks? Have you come into contact with anyone with monkeypox? Probably, maybe? What exactly is a ‘skin-to-skin’ party? Is it sort of if you know, you know thing? Or can you say Peach Pit, the incredibly 90s dance party, where, as really most gay dance parties, gays shed shirts and dance skin-to-skin come midnight or so? Also, I’m not a sex worker. But, as a real estate agent, I think I can imagine it pretty easily. No disrespect to sex workers, of course. Everyone paused before checking boxes, wondering what were the right answers.

Do I feel bad for finding a category for eligibility that I could cram myself into? Maybe a little. But I wanted the shot. And let’s be clear — I didn’t create this panic, they did. And just who is ‘they’ I think we as the queer community deserve some answers. How could we fail a test like monkeypox so badly? A test that we had all the questions far in advance. We all saw this coming a mile away. And the lion-share of the credit as to the success of the vaccine rollout so far seems to go to the queer community itself. Activists dusting off old playbooks from the ACT-UP days, and coupling new clout and access to city government and officials, we were able to get what was available to us out to as many as possible as soon as possible. That wasn’t them, that was us. 

And I know two people that have had it. And they have assured me that it was by far the worst pain and most humiliating experience of their lives. Just seeing them quarantining for three weeks in excruciating pain was enough for me to hunt down my second shot. Did I lie to get it? Not really. Was I a little liberal with the truth? Perhaps. But again, that’s really on them. This panic is theirs. 

So what about them? Who are they? Whose head should roll? You might have missed it. But Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra was asked essentially ‘what the hell?’ in a conference call with reporters last month. The Blade’s own Chris Johnson was on the call. Just to be honest with you, I’ve thought Becerra was a disaster long before he ascended to his current position. But in the interview, Becerra became hostile and pointed the finger back at us, the “communities at risk.” In a pre-Trump world, that would have been a career-ending interview. But I suppose it’s a different world now. Let me give one giant middle finger back at him. And to anyone who thinks a ‘community at risk’ somehow means a community to blame. He’s a disaster. But then again, so is this whole rollout. 

Let me be clear. I’m not blaming D.C. Health here. On the contrary, I’m incredibly grateful to them. When I walked into the Georgia Avenue clinic for my first shot back in June, I felt terrible for them. A nondescript white building, un-air conditioned, the place looked like something from the developing world. Not something you’d want to find in the nation’s capital. I thanked them all for being there. They deserve better.

We all deserve better. And someone needs to answer for why we didn’t get it. 

Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer. He contributes regularly to the Blade.

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Casa Ruby’s services must survive

But the organization’s name doesn’t matter



A group of asylum seekers gather at Casa Ruby on March 5, 2019. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A judge approved putting Casa Ruby into the hands of a receiver and approved the D.C. Attorney General’s recommendation of the Wanda Alston Foundation, of which June Crenshaw is the executive director. She is an amazing person. Founded in 2008, according to its website “the Wanda Alston Foundation provides housing and support services for D.C. homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth ages 18 to 24 and advocates for expanded city services for LGBTQ youth.” 

Contrary to what Ruby Corado said at the hearing she apparently Zoomed into from El Salvador, it is only important to have someone who knows the work of Casa Ruby and if it is someone who worked for a successful organization in the area all the more reason for them to be named. 

It’s not important that the name Casa Ruby survives. What is important is the services it once provided to the transgender community survive, and even expand. That can be done under any name. 

Taking over as receiver will not be an easy task. Crenshaw will have to unravel the mess that is there now. The receiver will have to face the fact money may have been stolen and deal with employees who weren’t paid. They will have to deal with the fact, which now seems clear, that Casa Ruby was out of compliance with the District Non-Profit Corporations Act. 

D.C. was an amazing place for me to come out and I did so after moving here in 1978.  As a political person I got involved with what was then the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, which had just played a major role in electing Marion Barry as mayor. Over the years I got more and more involved in the LGBTQ community. I, along with Rick Rosendall, founded and incorporated the Foundation for all DC Families, the organization we set up to fight for marriage equality in D.C. We worked hard, raised funds and had Celinda Lake do the first major poll on the issue in D.C. We found the white community in D.C. was heavily in favor of marriage equality and the Black community was partially supportive based on age and religion. We recognized many of us who began the organization had white privilege, which made life easier for us. We never earned that privilege it was something society just awarded us. We worked hard to recruit a diverse board for the organization and involved the faith community in the fight as well. Then along with Sheila Alexander-Reid and Cornelius Baker we incorporated the Campaign for All DC Families as the 501(c)(4) to do the political work to secure marriage equality. We continued to raise some money for the organization and worked with HRC, which lent us staff and meeting space. We recruited new people. We won the fight working with Council member David Catania and the rest of the Council. Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the D.C. marriage equality bill and I still have one of the pens presented to me at the signing. 

White privilege made it easier for me to be out. Because of this over the years I supported groups like the Wanda Alston Foundation, and Casa Ruby, because there are so many members of the LGBTQ community who still struggle in the District, no matter how LGBTQ-friendly our laws are. We must all work to ensure no one falls behind due to homophobia, transphobia, racism, or sexism. Again, I will continue to support the services for the transgender community, which Casa Ruby provided, but don’t care what the organization providing them is called. 

The problem I have with Ruby Corado was compounded when I read in the Blade what she said at the virtual hearing disputing “the allegations, saying among other things, that claims that she was not in communication with the Casa Ruby board was a misconception.”

If Corado cares about the people Casa Ruby served, why is she in El Salvador? Who has she been in touch with — which board members, and will they confirm this? If she cared about the organization and people it served, and has done nothing wrong, why is she not here in the District fighting for the employees, calling a board meeting (if there is a board)? Non-profit boards hire executive directors and oversee their work. I don’t think Casa Ruby ever had a real ‘working’ board overseeing Corado’s work. We need to question and get affidavits from former ‘board’ members as to what they did and what they know about what Corado did.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Supporting LGBTQ rights is good for business and the right thing to do

Equity and inclusion must be a corporate imperative



Brad Baumoel is the Global Head of LGBT+ Affairs at JPMorgan Chase.

In communities across the United States, LGBTQ+ people and their families are facing a growing number of significant barriers to equal rights and protections. In 2022 alone, at least 30 states have introduced anti-LGBTQ+ bills, with a majority targeting transgender and non-binary youth, on top of continued anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and bias in various states across the country. Despite progress toward equity and inclusion, the LGBTQ+ community is increasingly struggling for equality and basic human rights.

I’m truly concerned for members of my community, given the impact these actions are having on our mental health and wellbeing. Several of my LGBTQ+ colleagues and colleagues with LGBTQ+ family members have expressed fear for themselves and their children. Some are scared their transgender child will be taken from them and placed in foster care. Others feel they might be personally prosecuted for seeking gender affirming care for their child. Many are worried they’ll need to move to a different state just so they can continue accessing essential forms of health care.

I feel lucky to work for a company that opposes discriminatory actions that could harm our employees, customers, and the communities where we do business, and has equally advanced policies, practices, and benefits to support our LGBTQ+ workforce. It comforts me to know my employer supports a society that serves all Americans, including the LGBTQ+ community. But not everyone has the same assurance when they go to work.  

Now more than ever, LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion must be a business imperative. Business leaders must use their voice to condemn the hate, bias, transphobia and homophobia that sadly exist in our communities. We also need businesses to take meaningful and measurable action in promoting and advancing inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community year-round, not just during Pride month. While it starts with inclusive benefits, policies and networks of support, this commitment requires businesses to lead with the values of acceptance and belonging in every decision they make. It’s only then that your LGBTQ+ employees, customers and communities will truly feel included and equal. 

Since the first LGBTQ+ Business Resource Group at JPMorgan Chase was created in the 1990s, many, like me, have worked hard to make our company a place where LGBTQ+ employees feel they can be their authentic selves when they come to work. Last year, we strengthened this commitment by creating the Office of LGBT+ Affairs, a full-time, dedicated team focused on advancing equity and inclusion for LGBTQ+ employees, customers, clients, and communities. It’s my sincere hope that we don’t see our efforts slowed down by attempts to threaten the rights of people for who they are, whom they love or how they identify.

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