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Capitol Hill rally calls for rejection of Jeff Mateer nomination

Trump urged to withdraw nomination of anti-LGBT judicial pick

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Jeff Mateer, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) speaks at a rally outside of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday opposing the confirmation of Jeff Mateer to the federal bench. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

LGBT rights advocates, mothers of transgender children and congressional Democrats joined forces at a rally Tuesday before the U.S. Capitol to stand against the confirmation of Jeff Mateer to the federal judiciary, urging President Trump to withdraw the nomination.

The nomination of Mateer to a federal judgeship in Texas has invoked the ire of LGBT rights advocates after recent recordings were unearthed in which the nominee endorsed widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy, said marriage equality would lead to polygamy and called transgender kids part of “Satan’s plan.”

Among those speaking out against Mateer was Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who called the nominee’s comments on transgender children “one of the cruelest, most malinformed comments ever” for a judicial pick.

“This is very, very disturbing that it has come to this point that we would have an administration that doesn’t have a vision of justice, in fact, such a malshaped determination that this person would ever be nominated,” Merkley said. “That is deeply, deeply disturbing.”

Mateer made the comments about transgender kids during the same 2015 Iowa conference organized by pastor Kevin Swanson, who became infamous in the LGBT community for taking that opportunity to call for the death penalty for LGBT people. (Others in attendance were then-Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal.)

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who has submitted articles of impeachment for Trump, said the Mateer nomination represents the lack of qualifications of the president who has proposed nominating him to the federal bench.

“This nominee is nothing more than further evidence that we have a president who is unfit to be president,” Green said. “We have a president who has made hate a part of his agenda it seems. He tends to incite hate.”

Other reporting has emerged in which Mateer was shown to have said the contraception mandate in Obamacare was similar to religious crackdowns in Nazi Germany. Additionally, Mateer proclaimed “we discriminate” against gay people in the Baptist Church to justify anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religious freedom.

Also speaking out at the Mateer really was Nan Aron, executive director of the liberal judicial advocacy group Alliance for Justice, whose organization hosted the event.

“We need to say to Donald Trump and his allies enough is enough,” Aron said. “You cannot force us to accept a person like Jeff Mateer, who is so filled with hostility toward his fellow Americans, on the federal bench.”

Julianna Gonen, policy director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said the Mateer nomination is consistent with other anti-trans policies of the Trump administration, such as a transgender military ban and revocation of school guidance on bathroom access for transgender kids.

“We knew it before, but it has become all the more important now with this dangerous and reckless president: Courts matter, judges matter,” Gonen said. “We need federal judges who are fair and unbiased and free of extreme and hateful views, and that ain’t Jeff Mateer.”

The White House has stayed silent on Mateer’s anti-LGBT history and hasn’t responded to repeated requests from the Washington Blade to comment on whether Trump stands by the nomination.

The Mateer nomination remains pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has yet to hold a hearing for the pick. A Democratic aide said the committee has yet to obtain paperwork to proceed with the nomination.

Consternation over Mateer remains strong amid opposition to other Trump judicial nominees, such as Brett Talley, whom the Senate Judiciary Committee approved last week even though he has never tried a case as a lawyer.

Sharon McGowan, Lambda Legal’s director of strategy, warned during the rally the Mateer nomination was but one of Trump’s judicial nominees who could do damage for “generations to come.”

“Let’s be clear: There are many, many other Jeff Mateers in the pipeline,” McGowan said. “Nominees who would not only write LGBT out of the Constitution, but who fundamentally challenge our right to exist. These nominees deny the legitimacy of our relationships, take aim at our families and have declared open season on our children.”

On the same day as the Mateer rally, Lambda Legal unveiled a letter signed by 27 LGBT groups in opposition to three Trump judicial nominees: Don Willett and Stuart Kyle Duncan to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals as well as Matthew Kacsmaryk to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

“Their records reveal that they will be incapable of treating LGBT litigants fairly — no matter what body of law is at issue in the cases over which they may preside — because they do not acknowledge LGBT people as having a right to exist,” the letter says. “These are not the kinds of judges that this country wants, needs or deserves. We strongly urge you to reject their respective nominations.”

One of the mothers of transgender children at the rally was Sarah Watson, who grew emotional as she told the story of her middle-school aged son coming out to her as transgender after years of difficulty growing up.

“He finally told me because it was just too painful to keep it a secret any longer,” Watson said. “He was really at a breaking point. He knew at a very early age that there is hate in this world, that it is not always safe for kids like him. He knows that there are people like Jeff Mateer who try to shame him because he’s transgender.”

The incident that inspired her son to come out, Watson said, was the speech Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary Sarah McBride gave at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

McBride, who was the first openly transgender person to speak at a major party convention, also urged rejection of Mateer.

“Equal justice cannot come from someone who has compared marriage equality to bestiality, equal justice cannot come from someone who participated in a conference hosted by a proponent of the death penalty for LGBTQ people,” McBride said. “Too many, including all of us standing here today, cannot be ensured equal justice in a courtroom presided over by Jeff Mateer.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. LesbianTippingHabits

    November 26, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Not only that, but Jeff Mateer is well known as a parsimonious (cheap) tipper.

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Politics

Pete Buttigieg calls out Tucker Carlson over attack

Fox News host mocked transportation secretary over paternity leave

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (Washington Blade file photo)

Appearing remotely on MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace’s politics program Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called out Fox News host Tucker Carlson for the attack on his parental leave.

“This attack is coming from a guy who has yet to explain his apparent approval for the assassination of Harvey Milk, ” Buttigieg said.

During his Thursday evening program Carlson said, “Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child—paternity leave, they call it—trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went. But now he’s back in office as the transportation secretary and he’s deeply amused, he says, to see that dozens of container ships can’t get into this country.”

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En Espanol

‘Mercenarismo’: El delito que la Seguridad del Estado de Cuba usa para presionar al activista LGBTQ Raúl Soublett

Se realizó la interrogación el 9 de octubre

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Raúl Soublett López ((Foto cortesía de Twitter de María Matienzo)

Tremenda Nota es el socio mediático del Washington Blade en Cuba. Esta nota salió en su sitio web el 9 de octubre.

LA HABANA — El activista LGBTIQ+ Raúl Soublett López fue amenazado este sábado durante una entrevista con la Seguridad del Estado con un proceso penal por “mercenarismo”.

“Cualquier tipo de lucha en #Cuba puede ser criminalizada. A Raúl Soublett López ahora lo quieren procesar por mercenarismo y la notificación se la hace un tipo que tiene tanto miedo que no da ni su nombre real”, denunció la periodista María Matienzo en sus cuentas de Facebook y Twitter.

Según Matienzo, el argumento de la Seguridad del Estado para probar el «mercenarismo» de Raúl Soublett es una serie de videos contra el racismo y la homofobia que produjo el activista.

Al menos uno de esos videos fue publicado por Tremenda Nota.

Camino al Código de las Familias, uno de los videos de Raúl Soublett señalados por la Seguridad del Estado como “mercenarismo”

La Alianza Afro-Cubana, una organización independiente que coordina el propio Soublett, informó este viernes que el activista había sido citado en la mañana del sábado para una entrevista con “agentes de la Seguridad del Estado” en una unidad de policía ubicada en Playa, La Habana.

En coincidencia con la citación, este sábado Raúl Soublett debió asistir a la universidad, donde cursa el último año de una licenciatura en Pedagogía.

María Matienzo advirtió en Facebook que “las citaciones con menos de 72 horas de antelación son ilegales también”.

El mismo día que citaron a Soublett, el presidente Miguel Díaz-Canel se reunió con activistas LGBTIQ+ y funcionarios del Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (Cenesex). Malú Cano, la coordinadora de la red TransCuba, que fue una de las invitadas, calificó el encuentro como una evidencia de la “voluntad política de avanzar en el reconocimiento de los derechos de las personas LGBTIQ+”.

Matienzo, que también es lesbiana, observó la coincidencia entre ambos incidentes.

“Ante una comunidad #LGTBIQ que se reúne con el poder en #Cuba, quieren procesar al activista @RaulSoublett”, observó en Twitter.

El propio Soublett posteó en Facebook: “Mientras hay activistas LGBTIQ+ que no se les escuchan, que los acosan, los citan para interrogatorios ilegales, en fin. Esa es la Cuba de ponle corazón. Hipócritas”.

El pasado 25 de febrero, Raúl se reunió con la Seguridad del Estado y acabó autoagrediéndose como resultado de la presión.

“Fue interrogado por más de cuatro horas, según me describe las cuatro horas más horribles de su vida, en la cual usaron los más bajos recursos de intimidación, chantaje, coacción y sobre todo mucha violencia tanto psicológica como verbal”, relató en esa ocasión el periodista Héctor Luis Valdés Cocho.

Según el Código Penal vigente en Cuba, el delito de “mercenarismo” consiste en incorporare “a formaciones militares integradas total o parcialmente por individuos que no son ciudadanos del Estado en cuyo territorio se proponen actuar” a cambio de “un sueldo u otro tipo de retribución material”. 

Las sanciones previstas para estos casos son hasta 20 años de cárcel o muerte. 

Un experto en Derecho consultado por Tremenda Nota, que pidió reservar su identidad, considera que “esta amenaza no pasa de ser un recurso de tortura psicológica”.  “Ese delito es improcedente en este caso y eso sería obvio para cualquiera”, añadió. 

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Texas

Texas House approves anti-trans youth sports bill

HB 25 now heads to state Senate

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GenderCool Project leader and Trans activist Landon Richie (Photo courtesy of Landon Richie)

Texas House Republicans were able to push through the anti-trans youth sports measure Thursday evening after hours of emotional and at times rancorous debate, passing the bill in a 76-54 vote along party lines.

Under the provisions of Texas House Bill 25, all trans student athletes in grades K-12 will be prohibited from competing on sports teams aligned with their gender identity. The bill will now head to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.

The Texas Tribune reported that the University Interscholastic League, which governs school sports in Texas, already requires that an athlete’s gender be determined by the sex listed on their birth certificate. Republican Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, the author of HB 25 has said the bill would simply “codify” existing UIL rules.

However, UIL recognizes any legally modified birth certificates. That policy could accommodate someone who may have had their birth certificate changed to match their gender identity, which can sometimes be an arduous process.

HB 25 would not allow recognition of these legally modified birth certificates unless changes were made because of a clerical error. It’s not clear though how it will be determined if a birth certificate has been legally modified or not. According to the UIL, the process for checking student birth certificates is left up to schools and districts, not the UIL the Tribune reported.

“To say that tonight’s passage of HB 25 is devastating is an understatement. For the past 10 grueling, exhausting, and deeply traumatic months, trans youth have been forced to debate their very existence—only to be met by the deaf ears and averted eyes of our state’s leaders,” Landon Richie, a GenderCool Project leader, University of Houston student and Transactivist told the Washington Blade after the vote.

“Make no mistake: This bill will not only have detrimental impacts on trans youth, who already suffer immense levels of harassment and bullying in schools, but also on cisgender youth who don’t conform to Texas’s idea of ‘male’ or ‘female.’ To trans kids everywhere: you belong, you are loved, you are valued, you are deserving of dignity, respect, care and the ability to live freely as your true and authentic selves, no matter where you are. We will never stop fighting for trans lives and a future where trans kids are unequivocally and unwaveringly celebrated for who they are,” Richie said.

“The cruelty of this bill is breathtaking, and the legislators who are pushing it forward are doing irreparable harm to our state. Texas is a place where people value freedom and respect for diversity. This bill is a betrayal of those cherished values, and future generations will look back on this moment in disbelief that elected officials supported such an absurd and hateful measure,” Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights told the Blade. “The families of these kids deserve better, and the burden is now on the rest of us to do everything in our power to stop this dangerous bill now,” he added.

During the debate on the measure, state Rep. James Talarico, (D-Round Rock), a former middle school teacher, began his remarks by apologizing to the trans kids and families who have gone to the Capitol time and time again this year. He tells the chamber he speaks now as a legislator, and educator, and a Christian.

He quoted Republican Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, the author of HB 25 who said “if one girl wins a game, it’s worth it.” He says he has a different moral yardstick. “If one trans kid dies for a trophy, this bill is grotesque.”

He ended speaking to his “fellow believers” in the chamber. “The worst part in these hearings have been in hearing the Bible used against trans kids to support these bills. Even tonight, ‘God’s law’ was used to present an amendment.” He then quoted the first two lines of the Bible, where God is referred to with two different Hebrew words, one masculine/one feminine. “God is non-binary.” He then prevented an interruption in the chamber and continued telling trans kids that he loves them.

Fellow Democratic state Rep. Jessica González, (D-Dallas County), vice-chair of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus asked the chamber how many trans Texas kids they are willing to hurt. She reminded her fellow representatives that cisgender women and girls will also be hurt by the bill. She shared a personal story about being outed in high school by a friend, having her locker, home, and car vandalized and losing all of her friends. “Kids are cruel.”

González told lawmakers that her brother encouraged her to try out for soccer, and she was bullied with comments like “shouldn’t she be trying out for the boys’ team.” She went from feeling a bit accepted to being an outsider again. She then reflected on carrying those feelings into adulthood and said that this bill will have long-term affects on trans kids. She asked legislators to listen to the stories of the trans kids who have bravely testified, saying kids will contemplate suicide or complete suicide.

Representative Diego Bernal, (D-San Antonio), told the chamber that some representatives can’t wrap their heads around knowing that there is no problem but there is *real* harm to trans kids, and for whatever reason, that’s not enough it seems to stop moving these bills.

He said that he has heard “if they already have mental health issues and suicide ideation, this can’t make it worse” and “if the debate is harming them, let’s just vote.” The he breaks down the Texas statute’s definition of bullying, telling lawmakers, “The bullying statute doesn’t have an intent requirement. It doesn’t matter if you don’t mean to cause them harm. We are bullying these students. Know that by law … our own definitions and our own words, we are. And we don’t have to.”

“Texas lawmakers voted today to deliberately discriminate against transgender children. Excluding transgender students from participating in sports with their peers violates the Constitution and puts already vulnerable youth at serious risk of mental and emotional harm,” Adri Perez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas said in a statement to the Blade.

“There is no evidence that transgender kids pose any threat. It is indefensible that legislators would force transgender youth and their families to travel to Austin to defend their own humanity, then blatantly ignore hours of testimony about the real damage this bill causes. Trans kids and their families deserve our love and support—they’ve been fighting this legislation for months. Texans will hold lawmakers accountable for their cruelty,” she added.

The statewide LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Texas in a tweet after the vote said; ” We will not stop fighting to protect transgender children.” Then added “We’ll continue to educate lawmakers—replacing misinformation with real stories—and demand the statewide and federal nondiscrimination protections we need to prevent further harms.”

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