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Will Trump appoint the first gay national security adviser?

Richard Grenell on short-list for high-ranking government role



United States Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and President Donald Trump (Photo via Twitter)

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-ranking openly gay person in the Trump administration, has a brusque style that has offended some in his host country and journalists alike, but that hasn’t stopped him from appearing on the short list for President Trump’s next pick for national security adviser.

In fact, that style might help him. Grenell’s open confrontation with German officials and members of the media echo Trump’s brashness with traditional U.S. allies and accusations of “Fake News.”

National security experts who spoke with the Washington Blade said Grenell’s temperament and style fit Trump’s approach as president, which might make the ambassador an appealing choice for national security adviser.

Mark Groombridge, a gay D.C.-based national security expert and “Never Trump” Republican who’s known Grenell for close to 20 years, said Grenell knows how to play the game.

“I think, personally, he disagrees with a number of President Trump’s foreign policy positions, but also knows there’s no point going against him,” Groombridge said. “But there’s one thing that this president values more than anything, and that is loyalty. And Ric knows how to play that game very well.”

Despite an anti-LGBT record that has offended many in the LGBT community, Trump’s selection of Grenell as national security adviser would also be a milestone because he’d be the first openly gay person in that high-ranking position. Moreover, Grenell has spearheaded the Trump administration’s global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality (in so much that it exists), and could carry out that mission in his role as a senior Trump adviser.

In the aftermath of his dismissal of John Bolton as national security adviser, Trump himself has told reporters he has “five people that want it very much,” whom he called “good people I’ve gotten to know over the last three years.” 

Media outlets have identified the five as Grenell as well as Stephen Begun, lead envoy on North Korea; Brian Hook, U.S. special representative on Iran; Douglas Macgregory, a retired Army colonel and conservative commentator; and Robert O’Brien, special presidential envoy for hostage affairs.

Grenell, 52, is reportedly lobbying Trump to become national security adviser, and heavily so. It doesn’t hurt that Grenell, according to Politico Playbook, made himself seen Thursday at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. — a surefire (if unseemly) way to get Trump’s attention, and was also seen leaving the West Wing at the White House on Friday at around noon.

As ambassador to Germany, Grenell has won allies in Trumpland, including Donald Trump Jr. and Trump himself, who reportedly approves of Grenell’s approach and public berating of the U.S. ally. 

Following Trump’s dissolution of the Iran nuclear deal, Grenell right from the start has worked to deter German investment in Iran. Just days after his confirmation, Grenell tweeted in rather dictatorial fashion, “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” A look at his Twitter reveals he continues shaming German officials for interactions in Iran.

Additionally, Grenell has helped browbeat Germany into spending 2 percent of its GDP on defense, suggesting if the country doesn’t meet its NATO obligation, the United States would otherwise move U.S. troops stationed there to Poland.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Grenell’s style “took getting used to,” according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. The liberal minority party in Germany called for Grenell’s expulsion, but he has remained in place.

Groombridge said Grenell is right on the money in his approach as U.S. ambassador to Germany.

“A lot of people think that the role of an ambassador is to improve relations between the United States and the country that you’re serving in,” Groombridge said. “That is absolutely not the job of the ambassador. The job of the ambassador is to promote U.S. interests, and sometimes those interests align, and sometimes they don’t. [Grenell] is doing exactly what President Trump appointed him to do, and he’s doing it beautifully.”

But there’s more to Grenell’s resume. Grenell in the Bush administration served as spokesperson for four different U.N. ambassadors, including John Bolton during the height of the Iraq war.

Groombridge, who served with Grenell at the United Nations, said his combative style was evident in those days in dealing with journalists and the international organization.

“I worked with Ric at the U.N., and he was very combative up there,” Groombridge said. “And a lot of people didn’t like him up there in the journalistic community, but Ric’s job wasn’t to get along with journalists like you. It was, sure there’s always going to be spin, but to promote U.S. national security interests.”

Another gay D.C.-based national security expert, who has known Grenell for years and spoke on condition of anonymity for greater candor, said Bolton’s tenure was “by far” Grenell’s favorite of the four ambassadors.

“He enjoyed the combative nature of it,” the expert said. “And to a certain degree, what we’ve seen Ric do by way of whether it’s Angela Merkel and European attitudes or whatever, being the spear carrier, if you will, for the pugnacious Donald Trump, Ric learned that style under John Bolton.”

But that very allegiance to Bolton could be a strike against Grenell in his bid to become the next national security adviser. 

After all, Trump clashed with Bolton because of his neo-conservative worldview — which includes support for previous U.S. regime change efforts in Iraq and Libya and prospective ones in North Korea, Iran and Venezuela — and objections to bringing the Taliban to Camp David days before the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Groombridge said because of Grenell’s ties to Bolton, the chances of Trump selecting him as national security adviser are “pretty low.”

“Ambassador Bolton overreached and Ric would know that that’s not going to serve him particularly well,” Groombridge said.

Groombridge added at the end of the day, whomever Trump selects “doesn’t really matter” because the next national security adviser will be subordinate to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and an “empty suit.”

“The person has to have a close link to Pompeo, and I don’t think there’s any discord or disharmony between Ric and Secretary of State Pompeo, but there’s not a natural affinity,” Groombridge said. “And I think Pompeo would view him as too closely aligned with Bolton.”

The anonymous expert said Grenell as national security adviser could make the same mistake as Bolton by “bringing a potential bias and frame to the decision-making process and squelching others.”

“People come in and don’t understand that their role is to create a decision-making structure and process that brings in the mainstream and the anti-mainstream thinking,” the expert said. “It’s a process to get all of the options on the table, and to have a disciplined process by which the right voices are in the room, the right voices are in the process and the president can get the best set of options in front of him.”

Intentionally or not, Trump would send a signal on LGBT rights by appointing Grenell — an openly gay person with ties to Log Cabin Republicans — as national security adviser. Not even former President Barack Obama, whose hundreds of openly LGBT appointees dwarfs the handful of Trump’s, made that distinction.

Charles Moran, managing director of Log Cabin Republicans, said the appointment of Grenell as national security adviser would be “fitting” because of the value of having openly LGBT people in government roles, especially in sensitive positions.

“It was not very long ago that LGBT individuals were denied jobs in government or security clearances over the threat of blackmail over being ‘outed,’” Moran said. “So having someone of Ric’s stature in this position would go a long way to closing that shameful chapter in our history.”

Groombridge said even back during his days at the United Nations, Grenell was openly gay — a rare risk for any government official during these years, let alone a gay Republican — and began his relationship with his now spouse Matt Lashey. 

“I have conservative views on economics and foreign policy, on social issues, I’m about as liberal as you can possibly be,” Groombridge said. “And I think Ric is pretty much the same way, but, yeah, he was [out] to his credit, and I know his partner Matt, and they’re both wonderful people.”

It was that openness that hurt him in 2012 when Mitt Romney hired him as campaign spokesperson. Grenell was gagged and let go after a mere 12 days amid complaints from anti-LGBT factions of the Republican Party. Anti-LGBT radio host Bryan Fisher said, “If personnel is policy, [Romney’s] message to the pro-family community: drop dead.”

If Trump brought Grenell closer to his inner circle, it’s possible those voices would be heard again. Then again, the Republican Party may have changed in subsequent years. Barely a peep was heard about Grenell’s sexual orientation when Trump nominated him for ambassador to Germany.

Grenell has also taken on a global initiative to undo foreign laws criminalizing same-sex acts. More than 70 countries still have laws on the books making homosexuality illegal, and in some cases punished with the death penalty.

Moran was optimistic about Grenell being able to amplify that initiative as national security adviser as opposed to being an ambassador to just one country.

“Given that Ric is serving as point person on the president’s decriminalization effort, I think he would use that lens to bring clarity on regimes abroad that conduct human rights abuses, and could provide the president more awareness of the struggles LGBTQ individuals face in the 71+ countries that still criminalize homosexuality,” Moran said.

On the other hand, thus far, the global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality — which would require a foreign policy effort of Herculean proportions — doesn’t seem to have anything behind it other than tweets from Grenell and a forum he hosted in Berlin that included an Iranian gay activist who escaped the country.

Groombridge said the selection of Grenell would “symbolically” send a signal in favor of LGBT rights.

“I might help on the margins, but you have to weigh that with what President Trump has done with respect to LGBT rights overall,” Groombridge said. “He has been openly hostile to our community on employment, health care, education, family adoption rights, commerce, and certainly with respect to transgender rights.”

The anonymous national security expert said Grenell’s appointment in one sense would be a positive signal for LGBT rights, but was suspicious the Trump administration might use that signal to undermine them.

“In fact, I think he would be told he would have to drop kind of any gay agenda issues,” the expert said. “I still think it would be good for us in a way, but it wouldn’t necessarily be good for the national security adviser role, and I think it would really create a lot of interesting tensions. If anything, Ric could be used for the other side, which is to tell the gay community, or the trans community, to go take a flying leap.”

That has already occurred in Grenell’s capacity as a Fox News contributor, a role he had for some time and continued as a government official. On the air, Grenell unabashedly uses his sexual orientation to promote the Trump administration in ways other LGBT people may find offensive.

In one recent appearance after Pete Buttigieg criticized Mike Pence for being anti-gay, Grenell went on Fox News, called Pence his friend and accused the Democratic candidate of pushing a “hate hoax” against the vice president. (Pence’s notoriously anti-LGBT record, which includes signing a “religious freedom” bill as Indiana governor enabling anti-LGBT discrimination, says otherwise.)

Neither Grenell nor the White House responded to the Washington Blade’s request to comment for this article.


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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



Fifty years ago this week, 32 gay men were killed in an arson attack on the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans. (Photo by G.E. Arnold/Times-Picayune; reprinted with permission)

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.

(Photo by G.E. Arnold/Times-Picayune; reprinted with permission)

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.” 

(Photo by H.J. Patterson/Times-Picayune; reprinted with permission)

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.” 

(Photo by Philip Ames/Times-Picayune; reprinted with permission)

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.”

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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 is to set consider the case of 303 Creative, which seeks to refuse design services for same-sex weddings. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

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.”

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Kelley Robinson, a Black, queer woman, named president of Human Rights Campaign

Progressive activist a veteran of Planned Parenthood Action Fund



Kelley Robinson (Screen capture via HRC YouTube)

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.”

Kelley Robinson IS NAMED as The next human rights Campaign president

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.

Kelley Robinson, Planned Parenthood, Cathy Chu, SMYAL, Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders, Amy Nelson, Whitman-Walker Health, Sheroes of the Movement, Mayor's office of GLBT Affairs, gay news, Washington Blade
Kelley Robinson, seen here with Cathy Chu of SMYAL and Amy Nelson of Whitman-Walker Health, is the next Human Rights Campaign president. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
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