A D.C. Superior Court jury on Wednesday issued a verdict of not guilty for a 60-year-old District man charged with the February 2012 stabbing death of transgender woman Deoni JaParker Jones, 23, at a bus stop in Northeast Washington near her home.
The verdict followed a two-week long trial in which a team of three attorneys from the city’s Public Defender Service argued that Gary Montgomery, who was 55 at the time of the murder, was not the person who plunged a knife into the head of Jones on the night of Feb. 2, 2012.
Although police and prosecutors provided video footage from several nearby security cameras showing a male figure striking Jones in the head inside a bus shelter at East Capitol Street and Sycamore Road, N.E., the defense argued that the video images were too fuzzy to show anyone’s face.
The announcement of the verdict by a woman who had been named as the jury’s spokesperson prompted Judean Jones, Deoni Jones’ mother, to burst out crying. Her crying intensified as Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz, who presided over the trial, turned to Montgomery and said, “Mr. Montgomery, you will be released in this case.”
Montgomery has been held most of the time since his arrest less than two weeks after the murder at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a city-run psychiatric facility. One reason it took five and a half years to bring him to trial, court observers have said, is because several psychiatric examinations of Montgomery provided conflicting conclusions on whether he was mentally competent to stand trial.
He was finally cleared for trial last November when Leibovitz handed down an order finding him competent to stand trial based on the findings of the latest psychiatric examinations.
As she walked out of the courtroom while being consoled by another daughter and other family members, Judean Jones screamed out in a showing of emotional pain, causing at least one juror who was walking nearby in the courthouse corridor to begin crying.
“We were as thorough as possible in reviewing all the evidence,” said another juror, who spoke on condition of not being identified by name. “I did not think they had the evidence to show that he was guilty,” the juror said.
Another juror who also spoke on condition of anonymity said the jury found that prosecutors provided sufficient evidence to show that Montgomery was at the bus stop shortly before the murder. But the juror said the defense’s position that there was at least a four-minute gap in the video footage between the time Montgomery was present and the time a figure could be seen striking Jones in the head raised sufficient doubt, preventing them from concluding that it was Montgomery who struck Jones.
One witness presented by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office testified that she was at the bus stop a few minutes before the murder and identified Montgomery as being there sitting next to Jones and staring at Jones with “wide eyes.” But the witness said she walked away from the bus stop and decided to go to a Metro subway station several blocks away before anything else happened.
David Knight, the lead defense attorney in the case, pointed out in closing arguments on Monday that police and prosecutors could provide no fingerprints or DNA on the knife or on a discarded coat near the crime scene that police believe belonged to the person who stabbed Jones.
Raising his voice to emphasize his point, Knight told the jury in an angry tone that police homicide investigators discovered traces of DNA on the clothing items found near the crime scene but chose not to enter the DNA sample into a national law enforcement database to try to find a match with another person after laboratory tests found that the DNA did not match samples taken from Montgomery.
He also pointed to witnesses who knew Montgomery and who testified that Montgomery walked with a distinct limp. Investigators found at least one witness who identified Montgomery as the person captured on video walking to the bus stop with a limp in his stride shortly before the murder.
Knight then pointed to another video clip showing a witness who testified that he chased a man who he thought had punched Jones at the bus stop and knocked the man down with the intent to hold him until police arrived on the scene. The video shows the man police and prosecutors say was Montgomery running fast without a limp.
It could not possibly have been Montgomery, Knight told the jury, saying that other witnesses testified that Montgomery could never have run as fast and steady as the person shown on the video.
The man who testified that he chased the suspect, Jermaine Jackson, 41, told the jury he appeared to have knocked the suspect unconscious. But he said he quickly returned to the bus stop after his girlfriend, who was in a vehicle with him next to the bus stop when the incident happened, began to scream. When he got back to the bus stop he discovered why his girlfriend was so upset – Jones was lying on the ground unconscious with a knife sticking in the side of her head bleeding.
Under cross examination from the defense Jackson said that although he could describe the man he chased by his approximate height, weight and skin complexion he could not recognize Montgomery sitting in the courtroom as that person more than five years after the incident occurred.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff, one of two prosecutors working on the case, told the jury in her closing argument that the video footage of a man walking to and entering the bus stop shortly before the murder was clear enough to enable a witness who knows Montgomery to positively identify him as the person in the video.
Kerkhoff pointed out that video from other nearby cameras showed that Jones got up and walked out of the bus shelter and the man identified as Montgomery got up and followed her before she returned to the bus stop as did the man who followed her.
This combined with the testimony of the witness who was sitting at the bus stop next to Jones and Montgomery provided sufficient evidence to conclude that the person in the video observed striking Jones, even though that video was not sharp enough to show Montgomery’s face, was Montgomery.
“The evidence in this case is it was the defendant who was at the bus stop,” Kerkhoff said. Kerkhoff added that the video doesn’t show Montgomery leaving the bus stop as his defense attorneys claimed.
“You have it from the video that the defendant never left the bus stop and no one else came into the bus stop to do this,” she said. “That’s the man that killed her,” Kerkhoff told the jury, pointing to Montgomery sitting at the defense table. “The defendant killed her. It has taken five and a half years. Find him guilty.”
Defense attorney Knight reiterated what he called the inconsistencies in the government’s case. He noted that Montgomery was found to be wearing a brown coat and witness Jackson who chased a suspect testified the suspect was wearing a black coat.
Knight pointed out that Jackson testified that he punched and “stomped” the suspect he thought had attacked Jones at the bus stop. But when police brought Montgomery into a police station for questioning a few days after the murder he had no visible injures on his face or body, Knight pointed out to the jury.
“The burden always remains with the government,” Knight said. “They must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. After you consider all of the evidence and the lack of evidence you can still have a reasonable doubt,” he said.
In referring to police and prosecutors, Knight added, “They failed Mr. Montgomery and they failed JaParker Jones. JaParker Jones deserves real justice because Mr. Montgomery is not the one who did it…You should go in the back and check the form that says ‘not guilty’ and end this.”
Prior to the trial prosecutors said they had insufficient evidence to classify the murder as a hate crime or that Montgomery targeted Jones because of her status as a transgender woman. But in her closing arguments prosecutor Kerkhoff suggested Montgomery stabbed Jones after becoming enraged that Jones appeared to be ignoring his expressions of interest in her as the two sat at the bus stop.
Alvin Bethea, Jones’ stepfather who, along with his wife Judean Jones, have become outspoken supporters of the LGBT community since the time of their daughter’s murder, said the verdict was devastating to them and their family.
“I think even though there was no smoking gun, with the overwhelming circumstantial evidence there is no question that they should have found him guilty of first-degree premeditated murder,” he told the Washington Blade after the verdict.
“How the jury can come to the verdict that they reached is really beyond me,” he said. “I think that the prosecutors and the system, the court system, took way too long to bring this case to trial. Five and a half years was really an injustice to me, Deoni’s mother, sisters, and family and to the LGBT community in general.”
Added Bethea: “There is another person who administers justice in this society – the good Lord administers justice. And you know we will seek out justice from him. We will seek out justice from him.’
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office respects the jury’s verdict and once again extends its condolences to the family of JaParker Deoni Jones for the loss of their loved one,” spokesperson William Miller said in a statement.
Defense attorney Knight said the defense team would have no immediate comment on the verdict.
Longtime D.C. transgender advocates Ruby Corado and Earline Budd expressed shock and disappointment when told of the not guilty verdict. The two noted that the Deoni Jones murder had prompted many in the LGBT community to become more vigilant in efforts to protect the rights and safety of transgender people in the D.C. community.
Many of the city’s elected officials, including former Mayor Vincent Gray, attended vigils and rallies commemorating Deoni Jones’ life. At Gray’s suggestion, the D.C. Council used Jones’ name for a newly passed law streamlining the process of allowing transgender people to change their birth certificates to reflect their correct gender.
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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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