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Grenell bragged to Jared Kushner about decriminalization initiative: emails

Gay ambassador said support from Germany company ‘huge’

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Richard Grenell (left) told Jared Kushner an endorsement of the global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality was "huge." (Screen capture of Grenell via YouTube; photo of Kushner by excellentphoto via Bigstockphoto)

Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who was the face of LGBTQ outreach for former President Trump, bragged to Jared Kushner about a major German company’s endorsement of the Trump administration’s global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality, suggesting the former White House adviser had a greater role or interest than previously known.

The latest emails obtained by the Washington Blade from its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department, which was filed by attorneys at Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP and seeks Grenell’s emails related to the initiative, includes the communication from Grenell to Kushner.

“Huge” says Grenell simply in the email to Kushner forwarding a tweet from Daimler AG, now known as the Mercedes-Benz Group, in support of decriminalization at a time when Grenell was working in Germany to build support for the initiative.

It’s unclear why Grenell sought to engage with Kushner on the initiative, nor whether Kushner offered any response. No reply from Kushner is included in the emails obtained by the Blade, although such a response could come in a further email production under the FOIA lawsuit or may have happened offline.

The message, however, is consistent with the perception that Kushner and Ivanka Trump were among the players in the Trump administration who supported LGBTQ rights, privately pushing to include that in President Trump’s agenda and resisting efforts to roll back LGBTQ rights. Critics would point to policies such as the transgender military ban and regulations allowing anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the name of religious freedom as evidence they failed in that effort, although bright spots, such as the decriminalization initiative and the first-ever appointment of an openly gay person to an acting Cabinet-level role, were unprecedented for a Republican administration.

Insiders close to the decriminalization initiative at the time it was underway told the Blade one White House adviser who was “all over” the effort was Ivanka Trump, although she never publicly articulated anything about the plan.

Grenell didn’t respond to a request for comment from the Blade on why he emailed Kushner about the initiative. Kushner couldn’t be reached for comment, although the Blade sought to contact him through his private equity firm, Affinity Partners.

The email from Grenell to Kushner is revealed at a time when Kushner is facing criticism and accusations of corruption after The New York Times reported the Public Investment Fund — led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler — contributed a $2 billion investment to Affinity Partners six months after Kushner left the White House in the aftermath of the Trump administration taking no action after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded the Saudi government gave the order to assassinate and dismember Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi columnist for The Washington Post.

Zeeshan Aleem, writer and editor for MSNBC, wrote in an op-ed piece the Saudi leaders’s $2 billion contribution to Kushner’s firm “sure looks corrupt” because it’s a bad deal for the Saudi fund financially and Kushner is inexperienced in private equity.

“One cannot rule out that MBS views it as a down payment as well,” Aleem writes. “If Trump were to return to the White House, MBS has proven a willingness to pay handsomely for cushy treatment. And even if it’s not Trump returning to the White House, perhaps a Trump-influenced figure like a future President Ron DeSantis would take note of how things went down between MBS and Trump World.”

Saudi Arabia is among the 10 countries where homosexuality is punishable by death. Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 presidential election, faced criticism for accepting Saudi money as a contribution to the Clinton Foundation because of the country’s record on LGBTQ and women’s rights. The money, however, was used for human rights, including medications for HIV treatment and prevention in Africa, as opposed to personal enrichment.

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New York

Gay man shot to death on NYC subway train

Police say shooting was random and unprovoked

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Daniel Enriquez (Photo courtesy of the NYPD)

A gay man became the latest victim of a New York City subway shooting on Sunday when police say a male suspect shot Daniel Enriquez, 48, in the chest in an unprovoked random act inside a subway car traveling from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

Police on Tuesday arrested Andrew Abdullah, 25, who they identified as the sole suspect in the shooting, after attorneys representing him from the Legal Aid Society attempted to arrange for his surrender, according to a report by NBC 4 News in New York.

Police said the shooting occurred around 11:42 a.m. while the train was traveling over the Manhattan Bridge. The then unidentified suspect walked off the train and disappeared into a crowd of people when the train stopped at the Canal Street station minutes after Enriquez lay dying on the floor on the train car, police said.

Possibly based on the viewing of images from video surveillance cameras, police sources told the New York Times that investigators identified the suspect as Abdullah whose last known residence was in Manhattan, as a suspect in the fatal shooting. NYPD officials released two photos of Abdullah and appealed to the public for help in finding him.

Adam Pollack, Enriquez’s partner of 18 years, told both the Times and the New York Post that Enriquez took the subway to meet his brother for brunch. According to Pollack, Enriquez previously had taken Ubers into Manhattan, where he worked and socialized, from the couple’s home in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. But in recent weeks the cost of taking an Uber rose dramatically to more than $80 for the round-trip fare, prompting Enriquez to begin taking the subway, Pollack told the Times and Post.

“I don’t love the subway,” the Post quoted Pollack as saying. “I know how dangerous New York is. It took me two years to get back on the subway. I don’t feel safe on the subway,” he said.

The fatal shooting of Enriquez took place six weeks after another gunman identified as Frank R. James began shooting inside a crowded rush-hour subway car in Brooklyn, injuring at least 23 people.

Pollack told the Times his partner was a native New Yorker who worked as a researcher for the Goldman Sachs investment bank in Manhattan. Enriquez was the eldest of five children and a beloved uncle known for taking his nieces and nephews for ice cream in local parks and out to amusement parks when he visited them, Pollack told the Times.

When asked by the Washington Blade if any evidence has surfaced to indicate suspect Abdullah targeted Enriquez because he thought Enriquez was gay, a police public information officer said the investigation into the incident was continuing.

“There’s nothing on that now,” the officer said. “Everything, the motive, and all of that stuff, is part of the investigation and that is still ongoing. So, there’s no comment on that yet.”

The Times reports that court records show Abdullah, who is now in police custody, was charged along with others in 2017 in an 83-count indictment for alleged gang related activity. The following year he pleaded guilty to criminal possession of weapons and other charges in 2018 and was sentenced the following year to a prison term and released on parole several months later.

According to the Times, he faced new gun charges in 2020, was charged in 2021 with assault and endangering a child, and in April of this year was charged with possession of stolen property and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

“We are devastated by this senseless tragedy and our deepest sympathies are with Dan’s family at this difficult time,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said in a statement.

Andrew Abdullah (Photo courtesy of the NYPD)
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Rehoboth Beach

Vandals target 2 Rehoboth Beach LGBTQ-owned businesses

Staff discovers graffiti on walls, doors

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Vandals targeted the Purple Parrot in Rehoboth Beach on Monday. (Photo courtesy Purple Parrot)

Freddie’s Beach Bar and the Purple Parrot — two LGBTQ+ bars and restaurants in Rehoboth Beach — discovered that their establishments had been vandalized on Monday, according to a series of posts to the Purple Parrot’s Facebook page made by Hugh Fuller, the restaurant’s owner.

The vandal, whose identity remains unknown, painted on the walls and carved graffiti into the mirrors of the Purple Parrot’s bathroom, and painted graffiti on the front door of Freddie’s Beach Bar, the posts recounted. The establishments have since filed police reports with the Rehoboth Police Department.

Tony Rivenbark, a manager at Freddie’s, said that a staff member first noticed the vandalism around 10:30 a.m. on Monday, and that it was dry to the touch, leading restaurant management to believe it was painted early in the day. Upon discovering the graffiti, restaurant staff reported it to local police and were told that other nearby locations had similarly been vandalized, he said.

Between its Rehoboth and Arlington, Va. locations, Rivenbark has worked at the establishment for almost two decades, and added that this was the first instance of vandalism at the Rehoboth venue, which has been open for less than one year. He noted that Freddie’s management is currently reviewing security footage for further information, and is likely to soon install additional security cameras.

At the establishment’s Arlington, Va., location, “we’ve had some minor spray painting done, we’ve had some rocks thrown at windows,” he recounted. “Mostly I have attributed it to drunken antics, not so much hate. Hopefully that’s the case here as well.”

Rivenbark added that Freddie’s staff remains positive despite the circumstances. “It doesn’t seem like a huge issue. It’s something we’ll probably just paint over tomorrow,” Rivenbark said. “I’d much rather it be some kid that’s got a new little airbrush … than it being somebody that’s targeting LGBT businesses.”

The Rehoboth Beach Police Department declined to comment or to confirm details of the reports filed.

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District of Columbia

Pride Run returns after two-year hiatus

1,500 participants to join 10th annual event on June 10

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The Pride Run 5K is back after COVID hiatus. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

After a two-year pandemic hiatus that saw the Pride Run go mostly virtual, the DC Front Runners Pride Run 5K is elated to once again welcome nearly 1,500 runners, walkers, volunteers, and spectators back to the Historic Congressional Cemetery for their Tenth Anniversary Race on Friday, June 10.

As an official Capital Pride Partner Event, the Pride Run 5K kicks off Capital Pride weekend with a bang. Well perhaps more of a “On your mark, get set, GO!” 

Join us as we run, walk, skip, shantay, and sashay on a course that starts near the cemetery’s “Gay Corner” where many LGBTQ rights activists, such as Leonard Matlovich, are interred. The race then winds along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to finish where you started.  

Gates open at 5 p.m. for packet pickup with the race beginning at 7 p.m. The post-race party includes beer and hard seltzer provided by DC Brau along with a DJ playing music until 9 p.m. Be sure to check out the return of the DCFR dance troupe performing to a hyped-up crowd. 

Race proceeds benefit the following local LGBTQ and youth-supporting organizations via the Pride Run Foundation: Ainsley’s Angels (National Capital Region), Casa Ruby, Team DC Student-Athlete Scholarship, SMYAL, The Wanda Alston Foundation, The Blade Foundation, and Teens Run DC. You can help support these amazing charities by registering for the race or donate directly at DCPrideRun.com.

A special thanks to the presenting sponsors, Capital One Café, Choice Hotels, KNEAD Hospitality + Design, Shake Shack, and Wegmans Food Market to the premier sponsors DC Brau, Pacers Running, and Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, and our elite sponsors, AHF Healthcare Centers, Avalon Bay Communities, Casey Trees, Endorphin Fitness, and Starbucks, and of course our special partner the Historic Congressional Cemetery. Last, but not least, a big thank you to all individual donors who contribute via the race website directly to our incredible charity partners. Together, we proudly celebrate who we are in a festive, safe, and inclusive event.

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