Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Donald Trump’s choice for director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, brings not only anti-immigrant but anti-LGBTQ ideology with him.
Administration officials told The Washington Post that Trump will nominate Cuccinelli to the position, from which L. Francis Cissna resigned Friday, at the president’s request. Cissna, whose resignation is effective June 1, had been the target of frequent criticism from Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser to Trump. Among other things, Miller has “faulted Cissna for moving too slowly in implementing new rules that would penalize immigrants who use public benefits,” according to the Post, and has contended Cissna does not share the administration’s goals. However, the position requires Senate confirmation, and even some Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are less than enthused about Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli, a Republican, has no experience with enforcement of immigration law, but he does support Trump’s stances on it. Like Trump, he has proposed ending birthright citizenship — the policy that any child born in the U.S. is a citizen, regardless of whether the child’s parents are. Also like Trump, he has expressed doubt that Barack Obama was born in the USA — if Obama was not, he would have been ineligible to be president — but eventually had to back away from that position.
Cuccinelli’s anti-LGBTQ record is extensive. As attorney general of Virginia, a post he held from 2010 to 2014, he defended the state’s antisodomy law, even though all such laws had been invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling. Cuccinelli argued that the Virginia law, which remained on the books even after Lawrence, was necessary to prosecute adults who engaged in or sought oral or anal sex with minors, even though other laws could be used to prosecute them. (Earlier, as a state legislator, he opposed a revision to the law that would have decriminalized so-called sodomy between consenting adults.) The attorney general took his appeal all the way to the high court in 2013, but the court declined to hear it.
Also in 2013, he ran for governor of Virginia. During a televised debate with Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe (who ended up winning the election), moderator Judy Woodruff asked Cuccinelli if he still believes that “same-sex acts are against nature and harmful to society,” as he said when he was a state senator running for attorney general in 2009. His answer was “My personal beliefs about the personal challenge of homosexuality haven’t changed.” The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 2013 was E.W. Jackson, a minister who said gay people have “perverted” minds and are “very sick people psychologically, mentally, and emotionally.” Ralph Northam defeated him. The ticket of Cuccinelli and Jackson earned a Phobie Award from The Advocate that year.
Among Cuccinelli’s other homophobic statements: “When you look at the homosexual agenda, I cannot support something that I believe brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul.” And: “You can’t have safe homosexual sex. There is no such thing.” He has also said “homosexual acts” are “intrinsically wrong” and against “natural law.”
On his last day as attorney general in January 2014, Cuccinelli issued a nonbinding legal opinion that the new governor could not order Virginia officials to accept joint state tax returns from same-sex couples legally married in other states. He argued that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage took priority over federal law, which by then recognized same-sex marriages thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the main part of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. But later in 2014 Virginia’s ban was also struck down in court, so marriage and all its benefits became available to all couples in the state.
His far-right, anti-LGBTQ activism has continued since he left office. He is currently president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which donates to candidates who support “limited government, a strong national defense, and traditional family values,” according to its website. It has backed U.S. senators including Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Tom Cotton, and Marsha Blackburn. It’s now on a crusade against the Equality Act, claiming the LGBTQ civil rights bill “would undermine women’s rights, parental rights, religious rights, and actually hurt kids suffering from gender confusion.”
Cuccinelli’s anti-LGBTQ stances could inform immigration policy, given that many migrants and asylum-seekers are fleeing homophobic or transphobic persecution, and that at least one trans immigrant has died in the custody of immigration authorities. Even with a Republican-majority Senate, though, his confirmation isn’t a foregone conclusion. McConnell, for instance, is no fan of his. When it was rumored that Cuccinelli might be nominated for a higher position, secretary of Homeland Security, McConnell said, “I have expressed my, shall I say, lack of enthusiasm for one of them ... Ken Cuccinelli,” according to the Post. And sources told The New York Times that he has little chance of confirmation.
Written by: Trudy Ring. 25 May 2019. Politics. Advocate.com
Dozens of graduating seniors and faculty at a Christian College in Mike Pence’s home state protested his delivering the commencement address on Saturday by walking out in the middle of it, according to Newsweek.
The walkout at Taylor University in Upland, Ind. followed a Change.Org petition intended to bar Pence from speaking at graduation entirely.
“Inviting Vice President Pence to Taylor University and giving him a coveted platform for his political views makes our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration's policies, which we believe are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear,” the petition read.
“I am signing because Pence is a disgrace to humanity. He gives a bad name to evangelism—proclaiming the Good News. His news proclaims Trump's evil,” wrote one person who signed the petition.
Taylor students who pushed back against Pence speaking at their graduation said the vice president was an inappropriate choice based on the Trump administration’s hateful policies. More than 10,000 people signed the petition but he remained the commencement speaker and was undeterred by his detractors.
Pence delivered a speech that mimicked one he made last week at Liberty University, a private Evangelical school in Virginia, where he suggested that Christians are under attack from the left because of their faith. At Taylor, he told Christian students to remain strong in the face of persecution.
“We will always stand up for the freedom of religion and the right of every American to live, to learn, and to worship according to the dictates of your conscience,” he said, according to Newsweek.
While only a few dozen people walked out during Pence’s speech, many remained wearing buttons that read, “I am Taylor Too,” indicating that the university does not have a one-size-fits-all conservative Christian ideology.
Written by: Tracy E. Gilchrist. 19 May 2019. Politics. Advocate.com
When Nancy Pelosi said she would make it a priority to pass federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, she wasn’t just making a politician’s promise. Today, for the first time in American history, the House of Representatives voted in favor of the Equality Act.
“We’d like to thank the House Democratic majority, and especially Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for making the Equality Act a priority in this session of Congress,” Pride At Work executive director Jerame Davis said in an emailed statement. “The Equality Act is an essential step toward creating a just and fair society for all, but especially critical to our members, it will afford LGBTQ working people the dignity and respect they deserve on the job.”
“Today is a historic day—the first time a comprehensive LGBTQ civil rights bill has come to the floor of the House. This long overdue legislation will provide millions of LGBTQ Americans protections from being denied medical care, fired from their jobs, or thrown out of their homes simply because of who they are.
“Much of the history of the United States has been about expanding the definition of who is understood to be included when the Declaration of Independence says, ‘all men are created equal.’ When these words were first written, that phrase did not include black and Latino men; it did not include Native Americans; it did not include women; and it did not include LGBTQ individuals,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on the floor as debate opened.
“At this moment, we have an opportunity to continue our march toward justice—to enshrine in our nation’s laws protections for marginalized communities to ensure that everyone can fully participate in key areas of life, and to provide them recourse in the face of discrimination.”
Davis, however pointed out that the legislation’s chances of passage in the Senate are decidedly less likely.\
“Currently, the majority of states lack the kind of protections the Equality Act would advance. Despite federal caselaw that has established discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity as sex discrimination, LGBTQ Americans still need explicit, durable protections that the Equality Act would provide,” he said.
“More than 70% of Americans support the Equality Act, but its fate is uncertain as it moves to the Senate for consideration. We call on the Senate to stand with LGBTQ Americans and pass the Equality Act with due haste.”
The Trump administration opposes the Equality Act. While the President claimed on the campaign trail that he supported LGBTQ rights, he has kowtowed to the religious right and has been the most anti-LGBTQ president in history.
“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights,” a senior administration official told the Washington Blade earlier this week.
“The question before us is not whether the LGBTQ community faces outrageous and immoral discrimination, for the record shows that it clearly does,” Nadler added. “The question is whether we, as Congress, are willing to take action to do something about it. The answer goes straight to the heart of who we want to be as a country—and today, that answer must be a resounding ‘yes’.”
“LGBTQ Americans are one step closer to being protected by federal law instead of living in a country where hard-working Americans in a majority of states can be fired from their jobs, denied housing opportunities, and turned away from other critical services – including access to health care – simply for being who they are. Fairness should never be a partisan political issue, and the Senate should pass this bill without delay,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD.
“I am so proud to have voted for and helped pass the Equality Act, a landmark bill that will protect LGBTQ people from all forms of discrimination,” Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky said. “As the proud grandmother of a young transgender man, I will not stop fighting until he is granted equal recognition and treatment under the law. He, like all people, deserves a fair chance to obtain and education, find housing, and support himself and his loved ones. He, like all people, deserves to live his life free from discrimination and fear. He, like all people, is human and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.”
Written by: Bil Browning. 17 May 2019. Politics. Lgbtqnation.com
A May 24, 2017 ruling by Taiwan’s Supreme Court declared the country Civil Code’s definition of marriage — between a man and a woman — as unconstitutional because it failed to protect all human rights. The Court gave Taiwanese legislators two years to legalize it, but Prime Minister Tsai Ing-wen (who ran on an equality platform) and other legislators were too timid to act.
Their inaction allowed anti-gay religious petitioners to turn the issue into a non-binding November 24 ballot measure on that and whether public schools should teach kids about LGBTQ topics. Three U.S. anti-LGBTQ groups in particular — the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), MassResistance and International House of Prayer (IHOP) — helped local conservative groups organize and raise $33 million in preparation for the vote.
The country ended up voting against same-sex marriage and LGBTQ education by margins of around 70 percent, giving legislators 90 days to decide whether to act on the vote. The legislature took no action. Shortly after the vote, Taiwan’s Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang declared the vote a giant waste of time and energy because the rulings of the country’s highest court “cannot be touched.”
The high court ruling gave legislators until May 24, 2019 to legalize same-sex marriage or else courts would be ordered to begin recognizing same-sex marriages automatically. Ultimately legislators passed a “compromise” bill that legalized same-sex unions but also limited adoption rights for same-sex couples. Now we imagine we’ll see lawsuits for increased adoption rights.
In recognition of the newly legalized same-sex unions, Taiwan’s Prime Minster tweeted, “On May 17th, 2019 in #Taiwan, #LoveWon. We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country.”
Written by: Daniel Villarreal. 17 May 2019. Queerty.com
A spokesperson for the White House has said that Donald Trump opposes the Equality Act.
“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights,” a senior administration official told the Washington Blade.
The Equality Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil rights legislation as protected categories, effectively banning job, housing, credit, and other forms of discrimination against LGBTQ people at the federal level.
The White House spokesperson did not say what threats there were to “parental and conscience rights” in the bill.
The “conscience rights” may refer to how Republicans believe that many forms of discrimination are justified if the person discriminating says their religion made them do.
Earlier this month, Trump announced new guidelines that would allow health care professionals to refuse to provide medical care if they have personal or religious objections to it, which Trump framed as “conscience rights.”
LGBTQ organizations denounced Trump’s opposition to the Equality Act.
“We’re disgusted, but certainly not surprised, by Donald Trump’s announcement that he opposes the Equality Act, which is supported by seven in ten Americans and more than two hundred major businesses,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
“By opposing this common sense civil rights legislation, Donald Trump is ensuring that LGBTQ people remain at risk of being fired or denied housing in a majority of states,” the ACLU said in a statement.
“Thankfully, most Americans disagree with President Trump and believe that our nation’s nondiscrimination laws should explicitly cover LGBTQ people, too.”
Trump’s views on the Equality Act have changed in the last several decades. In a 2000 interview with The Advocate, he said, “I like the idea of amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include a ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation. It would be simple. It would be straightforward.”
“We don’t need to rewrite the laws currently on the books, although I do think we need to address hate-crimes legislation. But amending the Civil Rights Act would grant the same protection to gay people that we give to other Americans — it’s only fair.”
House Democratic leadership is planning to hold a vote on the Equality Act this coming Friday. The bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
Written by: Alex Bollinger. 14 May 2019. News. Lgbtqnation.com
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, announced on Monday (13 May) its opposition to the Equality Act.
In a statement, the religious group said the legislation doesn’t ‘meet the standards of fairness for all’.
‘While providing extremely broad protections for LGBT rights, the Equality Act provides no protections for religious freedom,’ the statement reads.
The Mormon Church reaffirmed its belief that religions institutions and groups should have the right to maintain faith-based standards.
According to the Church, the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes against discrimination, would ‘threaten religious employment standards, devastate religious education, defund numerous religious charities.
Other religious institutions, like the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church, also do no support the Equality Act.
The Mormon Church maintained in its statement that it supports protections for LGBTI people, but not at the cost of religious freedom. Recently, they supported banning conversion therapy in Utah and dropped its ban on baptizing children of LGBTI parents.
What is the Equality Act?
The Equality Act seeks to prohibit discrimination for LGBTI people by amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Legislators introduced the first version of it in 1974, only including sexual orientation in various areas of life. Previously, the Equality Act as it exists today, including both sexual orientation and gender identity, has been introduced to Congress twice. The first time was in 2015 and then again in 2017.
Both years the bill died in committee.
Democrats re-introduced it to Congress in March. After Democrats took back control of the House of Representatives following last year’s midterm elections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said it was a ‘top priority’.
Many experts, however, warn the legislation has a long chance of passing with a Republican-controlled Senate.
Written by: Anya Crittenton. 13 May 2019. News. Gaystarnews.com
LGBTI rights are declining in Europe, campaigners have warned.
The Rainbow Europe 2019 has seen, for the first time in 10 years, countries are moving backward.
Malta has remained the safest place to be LGBTI in Europe. Azerbaijan, once again, is last in the ranking.
The UK has also slipped four places in the ranking of 49 countries and is now eighth.
Which countries in Europe are getting worse on LGBTI rights?
Many countries have backslided after choosing to make life harder for LGBTI people.
For example, Bulgaria has removed legal procedures for changing name or gender marker for trans people. Turkey is also one of the countries failing to uphold fundamental civil rights.
And Poland has also made it very hard for gay and bi women to access medically assisted reproduction procedures.
ILGA-Europe has announced the findings to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia on 17 May (IDAHOBIT).
We cannot ignore the backslide
Click Human rights campaigners are also calling on governments to no longer ignore the backslide.
‘If ever there was a time to put a high political priority on LGBTI equality, it is now!’ Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe’s Executive Director, said.
‘Last year, we warned about the dangers of thinking that the work was done. Sadly, this year, we see concrete evidence of roll-back at political and legislative levels in a growing number of countries. There is no more time to waste.’
Micah Grzywnowicz, the co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, also said: ‘For years, we have said that marriage equality was an important signifier of equality, but not the be-all and end-all for LGBTI people.
‘What is also crucial for our communities are effective laws to recognize rights of trans people to self-determination, robust protection against LGBTI-phobic violence and speech, equal access to reproductive rights, and prohibiting medical intervention on intersex children.
‘Our revised index makes this fact clearer now.
‘The countries that are expanding their legislative horizons to embrace this vision of equality for LGBTI people are the ones moving ahead.
‘We are heartened to continue to see examples of governments demonstrating leadership in this direction, as Luxembourg and Finland did over the past year.’
Predominantly, those countries that score higher on Rainbow Europe are member states of the European Union. In the UK, some of those campaigning for a second Brexit referendum fear that the UK’s departure from the EU could impact LGBTI rights. Gay Star News explored the issue in more detail earlier this year with a specially commissioned report on Brexit (below).
Read the full Gay Star News Brexit report by clicking below
Written by: Joe Morgan. 13 May 2019. News. Gaystarnews.com
At least three LGBT+ activists in Cuba were detained as police broke up an “unauthorized” Pride march.
Activists went ahead with a planned march against homophobia in Havana on Saturday (May 11), making it several blocks before several participants were arrested.
The government-run LGBT+ group CENESEX, which is fronted by Raúl Castro’s daughter Mariela Castro, had abruptly canceled plans for the 12th annual official Conga against Homophobia and Transphobia march, blaming “new tensions in the international and regional context.”
The group said the decision was taken “in compliance with the policy of the Party, the State, and the Revolution.”
Activists turned up to march despite the cancellation of the government-backed event
However, activists vowed to turn up anyway without permission, in a rare public show of defiance in the tightly-controlled country.
More than 100 demonstrators took to the streets with rainbow flags for the march, according to the BBC, but came up against a vast number of police and security service officials.
At least three people were arrested, reports suggest.
Rights activist Raul Soublett told Associated Press: “It was a complete success because we got so many people together despite all the expectations of government interference.
Lidia Romero added: “This is because we don’t want to lose our rights to public space.”
Some of the marchers criticized the police for breaking up the march, with Laydel Alfonso telling AFP: “I don’t believe this is right because we’re doing nothing wrong.”
Cuba has seen divisions over LGBT+ issues
The country’s government has come under strain over LGBT+ issues, abandoning a push towards equal marriage.
In December, lawmakers caved to pressure from evangelical church groups and stripped a definition of marriage as between “two people” from the country’s new Constitution.
The document instead includes no reference to a definition of marriage.
The change was allegedly made to appease evangelical and Catholic churches in the country, who oppose same-sex marriage and had already begun campaigning against the constitutional changes.
The constitution was eventually passed after the concession.
The island’s new president Miguel Diaz-Canel has expressed support for gay marriage.
The leader, the first non-Castro to rule Cuba for generations, said he was in support of recognizing marriage “between people without any restrictions” to help eliminate “any type of discrimination in society”.
Under the long reign of Fidel Castro, who rose to power in 1959, LGBT+ Cubans suffered persecution and discrimination.
In the 1960s and 1970s, police began to round up gay men and many LGBT+ people were imprisoned or forced into “re-education camps”.
In 2010, Castro apologized for the treatment of the LGBT+ community, telling Mexican newspaper La Jornada: “If someone is responsible, it’s me.”
Written by: Nick Duffy. 12 May 2019. Americas. Pinknews.com
Police in Ankara, Turkey violently ended a student-led Pride march at the Middle East Technical University (METU) on Friday (10 May).
According to a report from Amnesty International, authorities arrested 25 students during the ensuing tumult.
‘It is heartbreaking to hear that today’s Pride march, which should have been a celebration of love and solidarity, was so violently broken up by police using pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas, and that at least 25 people have reportedly been unlawfully detained,’ said Fotis Filippou, Campaigns Director for Europe at Amnesty International.
‘Reports of excessive use of force by the police must be urgently investigated.’
A video posted on Twitter shows some of the chaos erupting between police and students.
The tweets translate to: ‘He is applying disproportionately power to the students at METU Honor Parade. The reason our friend was detained was “staring” and taking pictures.’
Students held the march despite a ban
Though Turkey lifted its ban on Pride marches, the METU rectorate banned the student march earlier this week.
‘For the last eight years students at this university have marched through their campus to celebrate pride and demand equality and dignity for LGBTI people,’ Filippou said at the time of the ban.
‘Rather than banning Pride events, the university should be supporting and protecting such marches and challenging homophobia and transphobia.’
Amnesty International further reported students ‘demonstrated peacefully’ but police prevented them from flying a rainbow flag, sitting on the lawn, and reading a statement.
‘It is a dark day when university authorities call the police to silence students who are simply demanding their rights to dignity and equality,’ the organization concluded. ‘All those detained by police must be released immediately and unconditionally.’
Written by: Anya Crittenton. 10 May 2019. News. Gaystarnews.com
Two right wing activists are allegedly behind false sexual assault accusations levied at Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
The claims surfaced through a Medium post on Monday (29 April). Supposedly from a 21-year-old student from the University of Michigan, it claimed Buttigieg sexually assaulted him in February.
Both the article and a Twitter account sharing the article were under the name Hunter Kelly.
However, Kelly later denied Buttigieg sexually assaulted him. When approached by The Advocate, he claims far-right lobbyist and Trump supporters Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman used his identity to create a false story and social media accounts.
The pair flew Kelly to Washington DC in order to discuss working against Buttigieg.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Kelly reiterated he had nothing to do with the posts.
He said: ‘I was approached by a political figure to come to DC to discuss political situations from the standpoint of a gay Republican.
‘When I arrived, they discussed Peter Buttigieg and started talking about how they would be working a campaign against him.
I went to bed and woke up to a fake Twitter @RealHunterKelly and an article that I in no way endorsed or wrote.’
Buttigieg also denied the reports on the campaign trail.
The post itself remained vague with the details. It spoke about the alleged subject contemplating suicide, that he hadn’t slept for the past three days, and vomited eight times.
It states coming forward with the allegations was the ‘toughest thing’ he had to do.
Wohl remained silent after Kelly denied the story. Jacob Wohl did not respond to Gay Star News’ request for comment.
Burkman defended the Medium post on Twitter. He shared photos of Kelly with his ID, alongside a supposedly signed statement ‘attesting to his accusation’.
However, Kelly told The Advocate: ‘They basically forced me to sign that and take that photo.
‘I had no say in either. In the photo you can clearly see I had been crying.’
Pete Buttigieg has made significant gains on his bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020. With his high numbers in the polls, he stands a chance of becoming the first openly gay, married president of the United States.
Last year, the pair were accused of being involved in a plot to label Robert Mueller as a sexual abuser.
Written by: Tom Capon. 30 April 2019. News. Gaystarnews.com