It’s pronounced “Boot-a-judge.”
That was the first thing South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg cleared up for the Washington Blade in response to questions about his 2020 presidential run in a Jan. 31 interview.
Buttigieg, a Rhodes scholar and Afghanistan veteran, beefed up his national profile in his 2017 run to become Democratic National Committee chair.
The 2020 White House hopeful announced his exploratory committee last month. If successful, the long shot Buttigieg would be the first openly gay person to win the Democratic presidential nomination and the White House.
LGBT priorities for Buttigieg, who said he’d run a campaign based on the themes of freedom, democracy and security, include passage of the Equality Act and greater visibility for transgender people.
Distinguishing himself from other 2020 hopefuls, Buttigieg said he supports transgender people having access to transition-related care, even when they’re in prison. Other candidates, including Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, have different records on that issue.
The full Q&A between the Blade and Buttigieg follows:
Washington Blade: You’re running in a field of Democratic candidates, many of whom have been longtime LGBT allies. What do you bring to the table that’s different?
Pete Buttigieg: First of all, I’m very mindful of the possibility of being the first out nominee in American history, and you know, I think it’s safe to say for many reasons, I’m not like the others.
I also just have a different outlook: I am from the industrial Midwest, I’m in local government and I come from a generation that I think really needs to be stepping forward right now. I think our generation has so much at stake in the future and the decisions that are being made today, and I think it really shows the people in charge, like the current president and administration, don’t care very much about the future because they don’t plan to be here.
2054 is the year when I will reach the current age of the current president, and I think you just take some of these decisions about climate, about the economy much more seriously if you’re hoping to be here in 2054.
What we have here right now is a sequence of decisions that have been made that are very short term, very destructive and it’s time for voices from a generation that has a personal stake in that future to step forward and talk about how we can make that future different.
Blade: But what makes you think you can win the White House if you get the nomination?
Buttigieg: I think the message needs to revolve around three themes: freedom, democracy and security. I think that you have a very strong, progressive foundation for those issues, but I also think we’ve not done a very good job of communicating them across the aisle.
Freedom is something that I think has been monopolized by conservatives in terms of political rhetoric, but when I think about everything from the freedom to marry to the freedom to start a new business knowing you can still get health care, it’s really progressive and Democrats have delivered the kinds of freedom that are most important for our daily lived experience.
When it comes to democracy, I think we’ve demonstrated that we are the party that is more interested in making sure that more people can vote, and I think this needs to be part of a national conversation as well. We need to shore up our democracy through a number of reforms, including D.C. statehood, that just make our democratic republic a little more democratic.
And then on security, we’ve got to understand 21st century security means a lot more than just border security and traditional military issues. I was in the military. I certainly spent a lot of time thinking about traditional military issues, but we have to be talking about cybersecurity, election security, climate security, digital security. And I think people are ready for a message that’s just different from what we’ve had before.
We have a profoundly, almost historically, unpopular president, but that doesn’t mean he gets defeated on his own if we don’t have a compelling message that’s different and better.
Blade: Let’s bring this closer to our LGBT readers. How does support for the LGBT community figure into your run for the presidency?
Buttigieg: I think that it will be vital. I think it will be a spruce of lifeblood because we are perhaps the only minority in more or less equal proportion across every racial, ethnic, economic and geographic group in the country, so one thing that will be very important for the success of this project, especially early on when people take your measure based on fundraising is to be able to demonstrate grassroots support from people in the community who believe that representation at the highest levels, actually having someone from the LGBTQ community on the ballot is important, that it will make things better for the next person who comes along and that America needs to be given a chance to demonstrate that it’s ready for this.
Blade: In terms of LGBT rights issues, where do you want to go with that?
Buttigieg: I think one of the big things that we’re looking at, of course, is the Equality Act. I live in a state where it is still — not in South Bend because we took local action, but in most parts of my state it’s still perfectly legal to be fired for who you are, and I think we need better legislation, civil rights legislation that takes care of that.
Obviously, we have a lot of issues with hate crimes now in Indiana. At the state level, we’ve been pursuing hate crimes legislation. We have federal hate crimes legislation, but we have to do a lot more, including, not just at the policy level, but at the cultural level. There’s several reasons why hate crimes have gone up by most measures in recent years, and I think, a lot of that starts at the top. It has to do with leadership, it has to do with the tone that it set by those in charge and it has to change.
Blade: What concerns you most about how President Trump is handling LGBT issues?
Buttigieg: Obviously the attack on trans rights and the trans military ban is extremely disturbing. When I was in the military, the people I served with could not have cared less whether I was going home to a girlfriend or boyfriend. They just wanted to know that I was going to be someone they could trust with their lives and vice-versa.
Trans members of the military who are willing to put their lives on the line in order to defend this country deserve to be supported by their commander in chief, and it’s extremely disturbing, especially for someone who, let’s face it, kind of pink-washed his campaign early on and portrayed himself as somebody who might change the way the Republican Party related to the LGBT community to turn around and do this demonstrates that he was never serious about that, not to mention the elevation of Mike Pence to one heartbeat away from the presidency.
Blade: What kind of place will transgender people have in your campaign and your presidency?
Buttigieg: A very prominent place. I’ve been really heartened to see more people, especially in my generation, stepping forward. I think Danica Roem opened a lot of doors in terms of elected leadership, and I think we will be looking to make sure that our campaign as well as a future administration reflects the diversity of this country. Obviously, that includes making sure there are visible roles for trans people.
Blade: One question I want to pose to you because it has been a point of differentiation among the Democratic candidates: Should transgender people, even if they’re in prison, have access to gender reassignment surgery?
Buttigieg: Yeah. I believe that’s part of health care. We provide health care to people who are serving the country, we provide health care to people who are incarcerated. I think the bigger issue is that too many people are incarcerated, but if you are, we need to treat everybody the same, and if you regard this, as I do, as part of health care.
Look, people try to turn others against this around the issue of cost, but the spectacular costs of incarceration have very little to do with things like gender reassignment.
Blade: Are you aware Kamala Harris as California attorney general defended the California Department of Corrections in seeking to deny surgery to transgender inmates and what do you make of that?
Buttigieg: I was not aware of that. I do know that California, if I understand correctly, is one of the few places that has been able to provide that, and I think that the rationale for it is based on it being — not only that it can be medically necessary for many inmates, but also there are shockingly high rates of sexual assaults or sexual abuse for transgender people who are incarcerated, so I think that moving in that direction was the right thing to do and I hope that more states take a look at that, especially the ones that want to ensure that we’re preventing sexual abuse.
Blade: What kind of endorsements has your potential candidacy obtained so far and how do you expect them to grow?
Buttigieg: Obviously, this is a very early phase. We just announced the exploratory committee last Wednesday, but we are going to seek endorsements from organizations and individuals. We’ve already reached out to the Victory Fund, to the Human Rights Campaign and to a lot of the people I respect and talked about.
Rightly, they are taking their time and they’re being very deliberate about this, but I do hope that we will earn that and demonstrate somebody like me belongs in this conversation at the highest level. Hopefully, we will continue to mobilize the support we need in order to be taken seriously.
This first quarter is critical because this is where we establish that we belong at the table, then it becomes a matter, once we’ve shown enough early organizational support at the end of the quarter, then we no longer have to answer questions about whether we belong in the conversation and start really focusing on making sure that what we have to say in the conversation justifies more and more support.
Blade: What will it take for you to move from an exploratory committee to a candidacy in the legal sense?
Buttigieg: I want us to be in a position to have a very strong launch coming out of the gate both in terms of the sort of event we are launching and in terms of the organizational support we have on Day One of that phase, that we’re right where we want to be.
Blade: I’ve had experts tell me you face challenges because you don’t have the name recognition of other candidates and you should run for governor and not president. What would you say to that?
This is not about steps for me…I believe in running for an office when you believe what you offer matches the needs of the moment and I am surprised as anybody that things have come this far, but I think we’ve gotten to a moment where what that office most needs is someone entirely new, something very different, something that is not rooted in the way Washington works today and has more generational energy and on the ground local experience than anybody else…
I just don’t believe that you run for office because you would love to have it or because you think it’s the right step along the way because these offices are too important. You run for office because you think what you have meets the moment, and every time I’ve decided to run for office and every time I’ve decided not to run for an office has been the outcome of that same process of discernment.
Blade: Has anyone told you a gay person cannot be elected president in the year 2020?
Buttigieg: Yes. Some believe that’s the case, and I think there is only one way to demonstrate conclusively that that’s not true.
Blade: If there are LGBT people or people anywhere who want to support you, what is the biggest way to help out?
Buttigieg: So, peteforamerica.com is the place where you can add your name to the list, if you want to be on the list so we know you’re a supporter, if you want to make a financial contribution, which again, right now, in terms of showing we belong at the table, part of how they take your measure is that grassroots financial support.
Over time, especially in early states, we will need help on the ground getting known, making introductions, winning people over and then hopefully as that grows, more and more of a field organization that will have all kinds of roles for people, but you can start by going to peteforamerica.com and adding your name so we know who’s out there to support us.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length.
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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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