Today’s Hearings -- Ben Carson, General James Mattis, Tillerson; Civil Rights heroes speak out against Sessions at hearing
TODAY, TRUMP’S PICK FOR HUD, BEN CARSON: Everyday HUD supports millions of individuals and families nationwide through lifeline programs providing assisted and public housing, emergency shelter and supportive housing, and mortgage and loan assistance. Access to this assistance can be life-changing -- it can keep families intact, provide shelter safe from violence, and help make the dream of home ownership a reality. It is essential that any incoming Secretary not only exhibits a working knowledge of these complex programs, but also a sincere commitment to ensuring fair and equal access for all people regardless of who they are and who they love. Dr. Carson’s record of hostility and ignorance regarding LGBTQ people directly conflicts with these fundamental qualities and casts significant doubt on whether he is fit to serve in this role.
AND ONE MORE: TRUMP’S PICK FOR SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES MATTIS: Retired USMC General James Mattis, Trump's pick for Secretary of Defense, will testify before the Senate Armed Forces Committee. Key background: Gen. Mattis was a senior leader during the implementation of the repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”. In the last eight years under President Obama, there has been significant progress for LGBTQ service members and veterans, including repealing “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” and most recently ending the ban on open service by transgender service members.
TRUMP’S SEC OF STATE NOMINEE REX TILLERSON TESTIFYING TODAY HAD LITTLE TO SAY ON LGBTQ HUMAN RIGHTS: Yesterday, in response to a question from Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) about whether LGBT rights are human rights, Tillerson said, “American values don’t condone violence or discrimination.” Tillerson’s minimal response leaves a big question mark on how a Trump/Tillerson State Department will approach anti-LGBTQ regimes who target LGBTQ people for violence and discrimination. Tillerson’s minimal response leaves a big question mark on how a Trump/Tillerson State Department will approach anti-LGBTQ regimes who target LGBTQ people for violence and discrimination, like Russia, where Tillerson has a long history and close ties with Putin -- a dictator known for his brutal and deadly crackdown on LGBTQ people. Putin awarded Tillerson with one of the country’s prestigious honors in 2013 just days before signing the draconian anti-LGBTQ law that was highly publicized at the time.
CIVIL RIGHTS HERO REP. JOHN LEWIS AND EQUALITY CHAMPION SEN. CORY BOOKER DELIVER POWERFUL CHALLENGE TO AG NOMINEE SESSIONS: During the second day of confirmation hearings for anti-LGBTQ Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Donald Trump’s pick for Attorney General, a powerhouse lineup of civil rights champions testified to the danger the nominee poses to equality in the United States. “We need someone who will stand up and speak up and speak out for the people who need help, for people who are being discriminated against. And it doesn’t matter whether they are black or white, Latino, Asian or Native American, whether they are straight or gay, Muslim, Christian or Jews. We all live in the same house, the American house,” said Rep. Lewis. Sen. Booker (@CoryBooker), who broke tradition by testifying against his Senate colleague yesterday, said, “Sen. Sessions’ decades-long record is concerning in a number of ways, from his opposition to bipartisan criminal justice reform to his views on bipartisan drug policy reform, from his efforts earlier in his career to deny citizens voting rights to his criticism of the Voting Rights Act, from his failure to defend the civil rights of women, minorities, and LGBT Americans to his opposition to common sense, bipartisan immigration reform.” Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and NAACP President and CEO Cornell Brooks (@CornellWBrooks) also spoke strongly against the nominee, as did sexual abuse survivor and victim advocate Amita Swadhin, who testified about violence faced by transgender woman of color in the U.S. Read more at the New York Times.
●ICYMI: In 1986, Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King, Jr’s widow, wrote a letter to Congress The Washington Post
MEANWHILE… A THANK YOU TO OUTGOING AG LORETTA LYNCH FOR LEADING ON HISTORIC ADVANCES IN LGBTQ EQUALITY : Since her confirmation in April 2015, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has led the Obama Administration’s drive to expand and solidify LGBTQ rights through the Department of Justice (DOJ). Yesterday, during a humorous and emotional DOJ farewell ceremony for Lynch, Vanita Gupta, head of DOJ's Civil Rights Division, lauded Lynch's incredible service to the country, detailing her groundbreaking work on LGBTQ equality and characterizing it as a “very significant mark of her tenure.” Lynch reflected on actions taken by the DOJ under her watch, including suing North Carolina for discrimination embedded in its anti-LGBTQ law HB2, and affirming the administration’s commitment to standing with and protecting the transgender community. “Together, we stood with our LGBT brothers and sisters against inequality and injustice. We ensured that they will never again be invisible to the cause of justice. We did that,” she said. Read her full remarks here, and watch her farewell ceremony at CNN.
THROWBACK THURSDAY: This week in 1958, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in its first case involving the LGBTQ community. One: The Homosexual Magazine, an early LGBTQ magazine in the United States, had been declared “obscene” by the Los Angeles Postmaster, who refused to deliver it. A challenge to that decision rose all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled obscenity laws did not apply to the LGBTQ magazine -- allowing for a flourishing LGBTQ press across the country. The archives of this pivotal publication are available through the USC Libraries Archive.
TEXAS BIZ, TOURISM GROUPS JOIN TO OPPOSE SB 6: Yesterday in Austin, a group of Texas businesses and tourism groups hosted a press conference outside the Texas Capitol to oppose the newly-introduced SB 6, as part of the “Texas Welcomes All” campaign. SB 6 -- introduced by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst -- is a harmful, anti-transgender bill that would make it illegal for transgender people in Texas to be afforded access to facilities consistent with their identity. “Discrimination of any kind is wrong,” said Phillip Jones, president and CEO of VisitDallas, a tourism group that is part of the coalition. At the press conference, the participants reiterated the negative economic impact a law such as SB 6 will have on Texas’ economy, urging lawmakers to not pursue the legislation. More from Star-Telegram.
UN AMBASSADOR SAMANTHA POWER REFLECTS ON GLOBAL FIGHT FOR LGBTQ HUMAN RIGHTS: In an interview with Michael K. Lavers (@mklavers81) of the Washington Blade, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power talks at length about the Obama Administration's efforts to further global LGBTQ equality. She recalls one beautiful moment when Vice President Joe Biden personally thanked Belize LGBTQ advocate Caleb Orozco, who was instrumental in bringing down that country’s “anti-sodomy” law. More from Washington Blade.
GAY AIR FORCE VETERAN FINALLY GETS “HONORABLE” DISCHARGE REFLECTED IN OFFICIAL RECORDS: Hubert Edward Spires proudly served his country in the 1940s, before being dishonorably discharged for being gay. Now, after nearly 70 years, the Air Force Board for the Correction of Military Records has changed his discharge status to “honorable,” allowing him to -- when the time comes -- be buried with military honors. More from The New York Times.
NEW POLLING -- MORE GEORGIANS OPPOSE ANTI-LGBTQ “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY” BILLS: An Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey shows that 44 percent of respondents disapprove of so-called “religious liberty” bills often used to excuse discrimination against the LGBTQ community, while only 40 percent support such measures. More from AJC.
PERU TO RECOGNIZE SAME-SEX MARRIAGES THAT OCCUR ABROAD: The decision comes from Seventh Constitutional Court in Lima. More from Gay Star News.