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Trump’s gay nominee facing Dem opposition in Senate

Grenell survives tight committee vote

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Richard Grenell is facing opposition in his confirmation process from Democrats.
(Screen capture public domain)

The first openly LGBT nominee of President Trump’s administration is encountering opposition from Democrats, who are objecting to his history of sexist comments.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly voted Thursday to approve gay foreign policy expert Ric Grenell as U.S. ambassador to Germany on 11-10 party-line basis.

A Democratic aide said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) spoke for Democrats on Grenell’s nomination and expressed concern about his public commentary, including degrading comments about the appearance of women. Those remarks, Murphy reportedly said, could be a problem if Grenell becomes the U.S. representative to a country led by arguably the most powerful woman in the world.

During Grenell’s confirmation hearing, Murphy raised concerns about Grenell’s remarks on Twitter about the appearances of women. Grenell deleted those tweets and apologized for them in 2012 during his brief stint of two weeks on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, which he noted during the hearing.

“Anybody who knows me knows that I am a very caring person and very sensitive — and I also appreciate good humor,” Grenell said in response. “Unfortunately, there are times where what was intended to be humorous turned out to be not so humorous, and, again, that was never my intention and I regret that.”

But Grenell has a history of making offensive comments about women long before the advent of social media. A 1995 Washington Post profile on Grenell quotes his fellow staffer in the 1992 Bush-Quayle re-election campaign as saying he once told a female colleague, “‘Didn’t your mother ever tell you only whores and very small children wear red shoes?’”

The narrow vote in committee could spell trouble for Grenell when his nomination comes to the Senate floor. If all Democrats vote against his nomination and at least three Republicans vote “no,” his confirmation will be sunk.

The opposition to a gay nominee from Democrats marks a considerable contrast to years past when Republicans would be the voice against presidential gay appointments, citing objections to their sexual orientation. But Grenell’s sexual orientation isn’t the issue for Democrats.

Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, criticized the Democratic opposition to Grenell’s nomination.

“Clearly no Republican is immune from the Democrats’ unhinged opposition to anything and everything proposed by the Trump administration — even a highly qualified openly gay man appointed to represent our interests in a center-right nation that just realized marriage equality,” Angelo said. “Pathetic, but not surprising.”

Also receiving a 11-10 party-line pick was Sam Brownback, Trump’s pick as U.S. ambassador at large for religious freedom, who also has an anti-LGBT record.

Prior to the vote, the Human Rights Campaign sent a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urging senators to reject the nomination.

“Over his long career in the U.S. Senate and as governor of Kansas, Gov. Brownback has consistently opposed basic civil and human rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people and queer (LGBTQ) people,” wrote Human Rights Campaign Governmental Affairs Director David Stacy. “These positions stand in contrast to longstanding policies of the U.S. State Department and could do severe damage to LGBTQ people living abroad.”

During his confirmation hearing, Brownback refused to say under questioning from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Kaine) that religious motivations aren’t sufficient justification for foreign laws instituting the death penalty for homosexual acts.

Approved on a unanimous basis by the committee was former Rep. Pete Hoekstra for the position of U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands. Hoekstra had unanimous support despite an anti-gay history and objections to his nomination from a Dutch LGBT group based on his opposition to same-sex marriage.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Steve Danowski

    October 26, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    He has shown questionable judgement in how he speaks and acts toward women. This post is to a country that is being lead by A WOMAN, who for all intents and purposes is the Leader of Europe (if not the free world since some one is abdicating his responsibilities). Is 45 not enough of an embarrassment on the international stage we have to have this misogynist there?

    • LesbianTippingHabits

      October 26, 2017 at 9:53 pm


      In answer to your question, No, not at all.

      After all, 45 sent to the Vatican – as his personal representative – an admitted Adulteress, Ambassador Callista Gingrich.

      She’s also a parsimonious (cheap) tipper.

      • Steve Danowski

        October 27, 2017 at 7:59 am

        I don’t know. I have always felt there was a difference between stepping in fecal matter and having it thrown in your face and smeared there.

    • K Morgan

      October 27, 2017 at 4:23 am

      and you can see what that got europe…overrun by camel jocks…..

      • Steve Danowski

        October 27, 2017 at 7:52 am

        Awww, the bigot trolls have come out of the woodwork to spout racism. Good Day!

        • K Morgan

          October 29, 2017 at 7:25 am

          Awww, the idiot liberals have come out of the woodwork to spout racism. Good Day!

          • Steve Danowski

            October 30, 2017 at 4:14 pm

            Haha… your lack of reading comprehension amuses me, as well as your inability to use words correctly. It was a valiant effort, however, it was quite the fail. Perhaps you would benefit from some remedial reading courses as well as a dictionary. There are many resources available. Perhaps a local community college could be of assistance.

          • Jeff

            November 4, 2017 at 6:13 pm

            Steve just won the Pretentious BIGOT award. congratulations

  2. Ricky Moore-Daniels

    October 27, 2017 at 8:47 am

    ohhh – fiddledeedoo :)

  3. Rick Stokes

    October 29, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Who’s the pathetic one, Gregory Angelo? You are!

  4. psphilip

    October 29, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    why do we NEED a ambassodor at large for relguois reasons? SECULAR nation NOT a theocracy here

  5. joeblow55

    October 30, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Obviously Ric has mother issues. And his Log Cabin mouthpiece Greg Angelo supports this sexist dog down the line. He is as unacceptable a nominee as that prostitute Callista (aka Caligula) Gingrich to the Vatican. Reject him. There are plenty of haters on the right who will be more than happy to help.

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National

Matthew Shepard honored at National Cathedral

Daylong services held to mark his 45th birthday

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Matthew Shepard, gay news, Washington Blade
Matthew Shepard Thanksgiving and Celebration at the National Cathedral in 2018. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The parents of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in a 1998 hate crime that drew international attention to anti-LGBTQ violence, were among those attending a day of religious services commemorating Shepard’s 45th birthday on Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral.

The services, which the Cathedral organized in partnership with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, included tributes to Shepard at the Cathedral’s St. Joseph’s Chapel, where his remains were interred in a ceremony in 2018.  

“Matthew Shepard’s death is an enduring tragedy affecting all people and should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry and instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are,” the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, said at the time of Shepard’s interment.

“In the years since Matthew’s death, the Shepard family has shown extraordinary courage and grace in keeping his spirit and memory alive, and the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as his final resting place,” Hollerith said.

The first of the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard began at 7 a.m. with prayers, scripture readings, and music led by the Cathedral’s Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan. The service was live streamed on YouTube.

An online, all-day service was also held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Cathedral officials said was intended to “connect people around the world to honor Shepard and the LGBTQ community and pray for a more just world.”

The Shepard services concluded with a 5:30 p.m. in-person remembrance of Shepard in the Cathedral’s Nave, its main worship space. Among those attending were Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, who have said they created the Matthew Shepard Foundation to continue their son’s support for equality for all.

A statement released by the Cathedral says a bronze plaque honoring Matthew Shepard was installed in St. Joseph’s Chapel to mark his final resting place at the time Shepard was interred there in 2018. 
Following the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard, the Adams Morgan gay bar Pitchers hosted a reception for Dennis and Judy Shepard, according to Pitchers’ owner David Perruzza.

One of the two men charged with Shepard’s murder, Russell Henderson, pleaded guilty to the charge after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty for him. The second of the two men charged, Aaron McKinney, was convicted of the murder following a lengthy jury trial.

Prosecutors said McKinney repeatedly and fatally struck Shepard in the head with the barrel of a handgun after he and Henderson tied Shepard to a wooden fence in a remote field outside Laramie, Wy., on Oct. 6, 1998. Police and prosecutors presented evidence at McKinney’s trial that McKinney and Henderson met Shepard at a bar in Laramie on that day and lured him into their car, where they drove him to the field where authorities said McKinney fatally assaulted him.

Shepard died six days later at a hospital in Ft. Collins, Colo., where he was taken after being found unconscious while still tied to the fence.

In a dramatic courtroom scene following the jury’s guilty verdict for McKinney, Dennis Shepard urged the judge to spare McKinney’s life by not handing down a death sentence. He said that out of compassion and in honor of his son’s life, McKinney should be allowed to live. The judge sentenced McKinney to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, the same sentence given to Henderson.

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National

‘Very familiar’: Mark Glaze’s story brings into focus mental health for gay men

Experts see common story as LGBTQ people enter middle age

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Mark Glaze's death by suicide is bringing into focus mental health issues faced by gay men.

The death by suicide at age 51 of Mark Glaze, a gun reform advocate who was close to many in D.C.’s LGBTQ community, is striking a chord with observers who see his struggles with mental health and alcoholism as reflective of issues facing many gay men as they enter middle age.

Glaze’s story resonates even though much of the attention on mental health issues in the LGBTQ community is devoted to LGBTQ youth going through the coming out process and transgender people who face disproportionate violence and discrimination within the LGBTQ community in addition to a growing focus on LGBTQ seniors entering later stages of life.

Randy Pumphrey, senior director of behavioral health for the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health, said Glaze’s story was “very familiar” as a tale of mental health issues facing gay men in the middle stage of life.

“You’re talking about a gay-identified man who is in his 50s, somebody who has struggled with alcohol misuse — or maybe abuse or dependence— and also depression,” Pumphrey said. “I think that there has always been a higher incidence of suicide for men in general in their middle age 50 and above, but this increases when you’re talking about gay men, and also if you’re talking about gay men who suffer with mental health issues, or substance use disorder issues.”

Several sources close to Glaze said his death did not come as a surprise. His family has been open about his death by suicide last month while he was in jail after allegedly fleeing the scene of a car accident in Pennsylvania and a long history of depression and alcoholism.

Pumphrey said Glaze’s situation coping with mental health issues as well as the consequences for his role in the accident, were reflective of someone who might “begin to perceive that this is an issue that they can’t get away from, or the consequences they can’t get away from exposure and that can lead somebody to a fatal outcome.”

“My experience is that there have been gay men that I have worked with over the years — particularly in their 50s and early 60s — it’s taken them a long time to recognize the severity of the problem, whether it’s their depression or their substance abuse, and then they find themselves in a very precarious situation because of shame, and so they may not necessarily seek help even though they need help.”

A 2017 study in the American Journal of Men’s Health found the prevalence of depression among gay men is three times higher than the general adult population, which means they are a subgroup at high risk for suicide.

The study found “scant research exists about gay men’s health beyond sexual health issues,” most often with HIV, which means issues related to depression and suicidality “are poorly understood.”

“Gay men’s health has often been defined by sexual practices, and poorly understood are the intersections of gay men’s physical and mental health with social determinants of health including ethnicity, locale, education level and socioeconomic status,” the study says.

The study acknowledged being male itself is one factor incorporated in addressing mental health issues in this subgroup because “regardless of sexual orientation, men can be reluctant to seek help for mental health problems.” Another study quoted in the report found 23 percent, less than one quarter of gay men, who attempted suicide sought mental health or medical treatment.

In addition to mental health issues facing gay men in Glaze’s age group, others saw his situation as a common story in the culture of Washington, which is notorious for celebrating and prioritizing success with little tolerance for personal setbacks.

In the case of Glaze, who had sparred on Fox News with Tucker Carlson as executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety, the threat of exposure and threat to his career may have seemed overwhelmingly daunting.

Steven Fisher, who knew Glaze since the 1990s and worked with him at the D.C.-based Raben Group, said one factor that contributed to Glaze’s condition was “he could only see upward in terms of his career trajectory.”

“We saw that in him and it had me very concerned because I felt like he might end up in a place that wasn’t good once he left Everytown, and that’s tragically and sadly what happened,” Fisher said. “I think he just had trouble adjusting to what is usually a roller coaster ride, I think, in people’s careers, especially in the D.C. world.”

Along with Glaze, Fisher has worked on gun issues for Everytown, which has been a client of his since 2015 after he worked for them in 2012 after the Newtown shooting.

Compounding the challenges that Glaze faced is a culture among many gay men focused on sexuality, which prioritizes youth and appearance and presents problems as those qualities start fading when men enter middle age.

Fisher said another factor in Glaze’s condition was social media, pointing out public perception about his identity was important to him.

“If you look at his social media — I think this is instructive to the rest of us — a lot of the comments are about how Mark was so good looking and he was charming, and he was so smart and so funny,” Fisher said. “That’s all true, and that’s why he was very appealing to many people, but those qualities don’t really tell you everything about a person. In fact, one could argue they’re superficial in a way, and people have to remember people are more complicated than what you see on social media.”

One issue for gay men facing mental health issues as they enter middle age is they don’t have the same resources as those available to LGBTQ youth, who have been more of a focus in terms of mental health issues in the LGBTQ community.

Among the leading organizations for LGBTQ youth is the Trevor Project, which has resources and a hotline for LGBTQ youth facing mental health crises.

Kevin Wong, vice president of communications for the Trevor Project, said his organization would be receptive to an older LGBTQ person who calls the hotline, but ultimately would refer that person elsewhere.

“If an LGBTQ person above the age of 25 reaches out to The Trevor Project’s crisis services for support and expresses suicidal thoughts, our counselors will listen, actively and with empathy, and work with them to de-escalate and form a safety plan, like any other contact,” Wong said. “However, our organization has remained youth-centric since its founding and our volunteer crisis counselors are specifically trained with younger LGBTQ people in mind.”

Much attention is focused on the coming out process for LGBTQ people, a time that can upend close relationships — as well as reaffirm them — and a process more commonly associated with youth.

Ilan Meyer, senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said data is scant about suicide rates among LGBTQ people, but information on suicide attempts shows they tend to be at a heightened rate for LGBTQ people as they go through the coming out process.

“What we do know is that there is a connection with the coming out period at whatever age coming out happens,” Meyer said. “And so, we see a proximity to coming out whatever age that happened, we see the suicide attempts proceeding and after that.”

Suicide attempts, Meyer said, are much higher for LGBTQ people than the population at large. The self-reported rate of suicide attempts in the U.S. population as a whole, Meyer said, is 2.4 percent, but that figure changes to 20 to 30 percent among LGBTQ youth, which about to 10 to 15 times greater.

Black and Latino people, Meyer said, have been less likely to make suicide attempts in their lifetimes, although he added that may be changing in recent years.

With the primary focus on mental health issues elsewhere in the LGBTQ community, Glaze’s death raises questions about whether sufficient resources are available to people in his demographic, or whether individuals are willing to seek out care options that are available.

Meyer said whether the resources for suicidal ideologies among LGBTQ people are sufficient and what more could be done “is the the million-dollar question.”

“It’s definitely not determined by just mental health,” Meyer said. “So many people have depression, but they don’t attempt suicide. And so, then the difficult thing is to find the right moment to intervene and what that intervention should be.”

Meyer said much of the focus on mental health is on a person’s last moments before making a suicide attempt, such as making suicide hotlines readily available, but some of the stressors he sees “are more chronic, ongoing things related to homophobia and the kind of experience that LGBT people have as they come to terms to realize their sexual identity.”

Pumphrey said another factor in mental health issues not to be underestimated for almost two years now is “dealing with the COVID and loneliness epidemic,” which appears to have no immediate end in sight with the emergence of the Omnicron variant.

“There was always this piece of sometimes the experience of being in your 50s and early 60s…we talk about the invisibility factor,” Pumphrey said. “But when there’s just this sense of being disconnected from community, especially in the early days of the pandemic, and kind of being locked down, I think that just raised the risk.”

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World

Openly gay man elected to Honduran congress

Víctor Grajeda will serve as Congresswoman-elect Silvia Ayala’s substitute

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Victor Grajeda (Foto cortesía de Víctor Grajeda)

An openly gay man in Honduras made history on Sunday when he won a seat in the country’s Congress.

Grajeda will serve alongside Congresswoman-elect Silvia Ayala of the leftist Free Party (Partido Libre), who represents Cortés department in which the city of San Pedro Sula is located, as her substitute.

Reportar sin Miedo, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Honduras, and Agencia Presentes, reported Grajeda received more than 100,000 votes. Grajeda is one of five openly LGBTQ candidates who ran for Congress.

“I am looking to open spaces and eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity,” said Grajeda.

Tegucigalpa Mayor Nasry Asfura, a member of outgoing President Juan Orlando Hernández’s ruling National Party (Partido Nacional), on Tuesday conceded defeat to President-elect Xiomara Castro of the Free Party.

Castro’s husband, former President Manuel Zelaya, was ousted from power in a 2009 coup.

Activists with whom the Blade has spoken say LGBTQ Hondurans continue to flee the country and migrate to the U.S. in order to escape rampant violence and discrimination and a lack of employment and educational opportunities. Castro, among other things, has publicly endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples in Honduras.

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