4 GOP candidates sign anti-gay marriage pledge
Cruz, Santorum, Jindal, Carson want constitutional amendment
(Washington AP) Four of the 17 Republican presidential candidates have pledged to support a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, an anti-same-sex marriage group said Tuesday.
The National Organization for Marriage said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson signed the group’s pledge “to take several specific actions as president to restore marriage to the law and protect people of faith from discrimination because of their support for traditional marriage.”
The influence of the National Organization for Marriage — once a powerful force in funding pushes for same-sex marriage bans on the state level — has been in decline following a large swing in public support in favor of same-sex nuptials. According to Gallup, in 1996 nearly seven in 10 Americans opposed same-sex marriage, but in May 2015, 60% of Americans said they supported such unions.
And in June, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that states must recognize same-sex marriage.
“Electing a president in 2016 who is a true champion on marriage is a critical priority, something that is essential if we are to overturn the outrageous, illegitimate decision of the U.S. Supreme Court imposing same-sex ‘marriage’ on every state in the nation,” Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said in a statement.
In addition to support for the federal constitutional amendment, the group’s pledge includes working to overturn the Supreme Court decision, nominating judges and appointing attorney generals who will apply “the original meaning of the Constitution,” and reviewing pro-gay rights policies enacted by the Obama administration.
The pledge also asks potential presidents to direct the Justice Department to investigate and publicize cases of Americans who have been harassed and threatened due to their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.
NOM invited every candidate to sign, and Brown said the organization will not support a candidate who does not sign the pledge.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — both courting evangelical voters — have spoken frequently about their support for traditional marriage, but declined to sign the pledge, Brown said in the release.
Both men told the group they have a blanket policy against signing pledges, Brown added.
Several GOP candidates, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, have stated their opposition to same-sex marriage but do not support amending the Constitution to make marriage between one man and one woman, they have said.
Ashton P. Woods Running for Houston City Council
Houston-based activist and co-founder of the Houston chapter of Black Lives Matter, Ashton P. Woods, announced on Wednesday, February 13th, that he is running for a seat on the Houston City Council At-Large 5.
(HOUSTON) — Ashton P. Woods is no stranger to the politisphere, and it doesn’t look as though he plans to become one any time soon. The co-founder of Black Lives Matter Houston and political advocate — who was most recently featured on the cover of Poz Magazine (shown below) — announced last Wednesday that he was running for a seat on the Houston City Council At-Large 5 in a Facebook Live video, which can be seen below this article. In the same video, Woods went on to better explain his platform, which includes focusing on infrastructure in various Houston neighborhoods that are poorly lit, decriminalizing homelessness and working to help Houston’s homeless population, as well as emphasizing healthcare on a local level rather than waiting for change on a national level.
Woods is a well-known voice in and out of both Houston’s Black and Queer communities, especially where those two intersect. His other work also includes such successes as the appointment of the City of Houston’s first LGBT advisory board. His advocacy against police brutality has in the past made him a target of violence, but in continuing to speak out, he has inspired others to take action, as well. Woods’ focuses in his advocacy also include support for the community of people living with HIV/AIDS, intersectionality, ending violence against people of color, and speaking out to end rape and sexual assault. Ashton has been speaking and fighting for the rights of people like him for years, and expresses his views publicly and unabashedly. Those views do not come without their share of criticisms from others, but Woods maintains his views and continues to fight for what is right.
Everyone I’ve Ever Voted for Has Lost
Politics Is Personal, No. 1
Politics Is Personal is a new column by Rachel Abbott, covering local and national news as it affects LGBTQ+ people. This column abides by one principle: that politics is never just a difference of opinion but a system of moral beliefs that influence our lives, liberties, and pursuits of happiness. Marginalized populations are particularly endangered when politics go awry.
I was driving home from my mom’s neighborhood in Spring, Texas the night that I heard Beto O’Rourke lost the race for US Senate against Ted Cruz. We had been out celebrating my birthday, and I vowed not to check my phone all evening as the results began to roll in. I’m both a person who loves politics as well as a person with an anxiety disorder; and the two go together like ammonia and bleach. I wanted to stay away from both the politics and the anxiety so that I could enjoy my birthday celebration with my mom. Therefore, I’d put my phone on silent and shoved it into the bottom of my bag. All night while we were out shopping and getting sushi at a local dive, I had felt the weight of my phone pulling my phone nearer to the ground like bricks in the proverbial sack. . The vibration of every single notification threatened to pull me out of the moment I was fighting my own anxiety to enjoy.
I had avoided my phone for about five hours in an effort to be present and practice some birthday mindfulness. But when our night out came to a close and I needed to drive back downtown, I was forced to pull out my phone to put on some music and to get directions. Even as I tried to avoid the news updates, my eyes canned the headline at the top of the screen — “Beto Concedes Race to Ted Cruz”. That was that. As disappointed as I was, I mostly felt exhausted. Beto was the latest in a long string of candidates that I supported and rooted for only to watch be defeated.
I remembered the first time I felt that sense of loss and frustration. I had been just a few days too young to vote for Barack Obama’s re-election, but I registered as quickly as I could. Soon I voted for Wendy Davis in the primary elections. Then I voted for her again in the gubernatorial election of 2014. At the time, there was no doubt in my mind that Wendy Davis would win. She had filibustered magnificently — hell, she’d filibustered at all. She ran on a platform all about empowering bold, Texan women. She was young, she was charming, and she cared about education and minority populations. Yet she lost to Greg Abbott.
Then there was Bernie Sanders, whom I’d voted for in the primary elections in the 2016 presidential race. He ran on a platform of promoting economic equality, of affordable college tuition and free healthcare. His tax plan read as European and elegant, and he had decades of experience. He had marched with Martin Luther Fucking King Jr., for chrissakes. These bricks that build the Great Wall of Bernie all sound amazing, I thought. And Hillary already lost a primary once before. Surely Bernie is our candidate. Yet he lost to Hillary Clinton.
So I brushed off the dust, and I threw my support in for Hillary. Was she perfect? No. But God she was so much better than the alternative that it seemed laughable. Even when I wasn’t on fire for her policies, it was easy for me to support her. She was professional. She was poised. She had years of political experience and the education to match it. I was ready for the first female United States president. Beyond that, I felt like she had the bare minimum of human decency. She neither made fun of disabled reporters, nor boasted about sexually assaulting people. She didn’t call immigrants rapists and criminals. The bar set by her opponent seemed impossibly low. The bar was literally buried five feet under ground; you would have to dig your own grave to miss that bar.
Well, we all know how that turned out.
All of this is to say: I am used to my candidates losing, but I’m still sick of it. In a country where we tout a representative democracy, I have yet to vote and see my views represented. It feels, on a fundamental level, unfair. And it sounds whiny when I say it like that, but it doesn’t make it any less true. If the point of an elected official is to represent the views of their governed body, and your views are eked out year-after-year … what’s left to do?
It would definitely be easier for me to sit with the disappointment if this were a matter of mere opinions. For instance, if the greatest thing at stake in any election were how much tax funding went to road repair versus the city bus system, I probably would not care all that much about the results. However, that’s not how our elections work. One representative supports my right to marry my partner; one thinks our union should be illegal. One representative will allow transgender people to receive the healthcare and support they need; one wants to define them out of existence. One representative would end border camps for children; one supports the destruction of families. When the stakes are this high, everyone should care. Everyone should care about these policies on a visceral, emotional level.
The baffling truth is that many people don’t feel that way. I’ve tried to figure out what’s going on in the minds of my close relatives and family friends who vote red time-and-again. Their beliefs are now reflected in our governor, both of our senators, our president, and the majority of the Supreme Court. But what, exactly, are those beliefs that they hold so dear? These are the same people who will assure me that they love me, love my partner, can’t wait for our wedding. Then, in the same day, they’ll post on Facebook that they’re voting for Ted Cruz or that they’re trying to “Make America Great Again”. It gives me emotional whiplash. And for what? What belief is it that my own family could hold more dear that my right, as their sister or niece or cousin, to feel happy and safe? I want to shake them — physically shake them — and ask, Why don’t I matter enough to you?
Beto O’Rourke lost by just a little over 2% of the vote. That means that nearly half of all Texans support liberal policies, yet both of our senators are conservative. I believe — and hope — that Beto will run for another political office one day, maybe not the presidency yet but something. His campaign invigorated the Texas Democrats in a way that I’d never seen before. I would be really proud to be represented by a candidate like Beto O’Rouke. But it’s too soon for me to think about all that — too soon to excite myself again.
Wendy Davis. Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton. Lupe Valdez. Beto O’Rourke. My political mind holds something of a memorial to these people who ran on good, decent platforms but lost. There will be more candidates. I have no doubt in my mind that in a few months we’ll begin to ready our battle paint for yet another round of primaries and yet another round of general elections. There will be shiny and wonderful new democratic candidates who will reignite the spark of hope that us voters in the South carry in our hearts. After all, Senator Cornyn’s seat will be up for reelection soon, and then there’s that thing about the President. I hope these new candidates will win. I really, really need one of these new candidate to win. For the first time, I need someone that I voted for to win.
In the words of Wendy Davis: “I fucking hate to lose.”
Beto, Valdez Lose Midterm Elections to Cruz, Abbott but Democrats Gain House
In a tremendous let-down to Texas Democrats, the two nominees everyone was watching — Beto O’Rourke and Lupe Valdez — have lost their seats to Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott.
(DEVELOPING) – On Election Night 2018, Texas Democrats were hopeful to unseat two of their most despised adversaries from the governorship — Greg Abbott — and the Texas Senate — Ted Cruz. While many were convinced that Beto O’Rourke would take the the Senate seat from Ted Cruz — less so believed Lupe Valdez could win the governorship as a Latina lesbian — it seemed as though he might early in the evening. However, as the 9 o’clock hour passed, Cruz was called the winner, garnering just over 200,000 (nearly 2%) more votes than O’Rourke at the time of this article. An hour earlier, Greg Abbott — the incumbent governor of Texas whose staunch positions on immigration/sanctuary cities, LGBTQ rights, women’s healthcare, and more have left him quite unpopular with Democrats — was announced as the returning governor. Valdez lost by a much greater margin than Cruz, with her numbers currently showing that she is nearly one million votes behind and nearly 13%.
Though Texas has been historically a red state over the years, there was a great wave of hope from Democrats that the midterms would be an excellent turning point for Texans following the result of the 2016 elections. O’Rourke, in particular, had gained national attention from countless celebrities, including Jake Gyllenhaal and Ellen Degeneres, who even had O’Rourke appear on her daytime talk show a few weeks prior to the election. That being said, voter turnout in Texas was higher by the end of early voting than at the time of the 2014 midterms. The Houston Chronicle reported that nearly 150,000 more voters turned out during early voting than in 2014, with 40% of eligible voters having voted before Election Day.
Had Valdez won the governorship, she would have been the first Latina, LGBTQ governor of Texas in recorded history. Valdez — who appeared this summer on About Magazine’s web series, Wineding Down with Anthony — served as the sheriff of the Dallas County Police Department from 2005 to 2017. She was the first openly gay sheriff of Dallas County, as well as the first Latina.
In news to warm the heart, however, Texas Democrats gained control of the House with a gain of 15 seats at 50% of the vote, while Republicans lost 17 seats, receiving only 48.4% of the vote. Additionally, Texas elected Sylvia Garcia as the first Latina woman to Congress.
This is a developing story.
America or Gilead? New US Law Will Deny Visas to Domestic Partners of UN Officials
In the latest anti-LGBTQ news out of the Trump Administration — as well as what one could only expect from a Handmaid’s Tale story arc — UN Officials will no longer be able to obtain visas for their domestic partners.
Although the White House is spinning the news as a step toward equality, LGBTQ advocates, including the ACLU, have pointed out that it will unfairly target the gay partners of diplomats and employees from countries without marriage equality. The statement to the UN read as follows:
“Same-sex spouses of U.S. diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses […] consistent with [US State] Department policy, partners accompanying members of permanent missions or seeking to join the same must generally be married in order to be eligible” for a visa.
The new policy strikes down a 2009 policy made by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. At the time, gay marriage was not legal at a national level in the United States, so Clinton’s policy offered a semblance of equality to same-sex partners. Domestic partnerships granted same-sex couples more rights, although partnerships still do not grant all the same protections as a marriage. Now that the US has legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, the Trump administration claims that the 2009 legislation gave an unfair advantage to same-sex partners. The White House argues that limiting diplomatic visas to married couples prevents preferential treatment.
What this new policy completely ignores, however, is the reality that the vast majority of UN nations do not recognize gay marriage. In fact, according to an article in Foreign Policy, only 12% of nations in the UN allow same-sex marriage, and in several countries same-sex relationships are actively criminalized. In seven nations, same-sex relationships are punishable by death. The majority of the countries in opposition to gay marriage are African and Asian states, meaning that the new US policy will primarily affect gay couples of color. This makes the policy seem doubly discriminatory. The fact that the United States legalized gay marriage hardly means that gay marriage is legal on a global scale.
The proposed–or rather, demanded–solution is for diplomats to marry their partners at American embassies. Indeed, the United States has issued the ultimatum that domestic partners must become married by December 31st or they will be asked to leave the country. This is unreasonably cruel for multiple reasons. First, a marriage should be a celebration of love and unity that a couple can enjoy with their friends and family members. Instead, couples must hastily put together a ceremony for political reasons, and the majorities of their loved ones will be unable to attend. This ruins what should be a special day for many queer people. Additionally, these diplomats and employees will eventually return to their home country, where many of them will be shunned, fired, or worse for their marriage. The proposed “solution” is neither compassionate nor possible for so many of these people.
My greatest question upon hearing this news was: why? Why enact this policy? How many same-sex domestic partners of diplomats and UN employees can possibly be trying to obtain a visa to the US at this time–one hundred? One thousand? Even if it were ten thousand (and I highly doubt there are), certainly there aren’t enough queer diplomats to pose a significant strain on the economy. The nation-wide impact must be negligible at best. Moreover, these countries aren’t going to change their own domestic stances on gay marriage to accommodate a handful of queer employees abroad. If anything, those countries are more likely to avoid hiring gay people since their visas will be complication. This policy isn’t necessary in any way. It exists only to show queer people around the world that they still aren’t equal, that they are second-class citizens at best.
There’s a chilling scene in the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale where Emily (Alexis Bledel), her wife Sylvia (Clea DuVall), and their young son are attempting to flee the U. S.-turned-Gilead for Canada, where Sylvia is a dual citizen. The scene begins as simple visa troubles; since Emily is not a Canadian citizen, she merely needs to meet with a border patrol agent for a different stamp. Surely she’ll be approved since her wife has citizenship. However, at the gate, they’re told that their marriage is no longer valid. Emily will not–cannot–be granted a visa. She watches her wife and son disappear up at elevator, off to country where they will be safe and protect. And Emily is left behind.
The scariest thing about The Handmaid’s Tale is not how outlandish the world of Gilead is, but rather how close it hits to home. Hopefully civil rights lawyers can begin the process the messy process of reinstating Clinton’s 2009 policy, but until then: Make The Handmaid’s Tale Fiction Again.
BREAKING: El Tiempo Owner Releases Statement Regarding Jeff Sessions
El Tiempo Cantina owner, Roland Laurenzo, has released a statement regarding the Jeff Sessions photo posted on all their social media accounts earlier this evening, as well as the #BoycottElTiempo campaign.
(HOUSTON) – In a story broken by About Magazine earlier this evening, Houston’s once-renowned Mexican restaurant chain, El Tiempo, was met with a great deal of criticism following a photo of restaurant executive chef, Domenic Laurenzo, posing with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The LGBTQ community especially did not react well to this photo, creating the hashtag #BoycottElTiempo on social media platforms. Restaurant owner Roland Laurenzo has taken to social media to make a statement just minutes ago about the photo. A screenshot captured from the Facebook page of the soon-closing Montrose location can be seen here:
The restaurant chain, which has been in business since 1998 to a well-established Houston restauranteur family — also once having been the family behind Houston’s now-defunct Mama Ninfa’s — was already looking to the closure of the Montrose location due to an apartment complex being built in its place.
Sessions is part of the mastermind behind the separation of immigrant parents from their children which has been the subject of heated discussion lately. He is also notoriously anti-LGBTQ, having worked to enable many states across the U.S. to enact laws allowing discrimination. His wild unpopularity in both the LGBTQ and Latino communities could prove to be a large punch for the El Tiempo chain, which caters to large numbers of LGBTQ and Latino customers, specifically at the Montrose location.
This is a developing story.
Breaking: Boycott El Tiempo Hashtag Surfaces After Jeff Sessions Visit
Today, 10 August 2018, the hashtag #BoycottElTiempo began after the Mexican restaurant chain posted photos to each of their locations’ social media pages with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
(HOUSTON) – El Tiempo Cantina has been serving Houstonians since its Richmond location opened in 1998. The company was started by the Domenic Laurenzo, the eldest son of historic Houston restauranteur, Ninfa Laurenzo (known for Houston’s Mama Ninfa’s Tex Mex). As of late, El Tiempo has made the news cycle when they announced that their longtime Montrose location would be closing July 31 — which has since been postponed until after the August month according to the restaurant’s Facebook page — to make room for a new apartment building in the historic ‘gayborhood.’ But now El Tiempo is in the news again (and some agua caliente) for another reason.
Tonight, screenshots of social media posts by all El Tiempo locations all around Houston began to surface, captioned with “#BoycottElTiempo” after the company’s social media pages posted photos of executive chef of the restaurant chain and El Tiempo founder, Domenic Laurenzo, with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The caption on the photo read:
“We had the honor to serve Mr. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.”
Sessions is not a popular politician among the LGBTQIA community. After being appointed Attorney General of the United States by President Donald J. Trump in February of 2017, Sessions wasted no time in rolling back LGBTQ rights and protections. In fact his track record with our community includes, but is not limited to:
- Withdrawing a preliminary injunction against North Carolina’s anti-transgender House Bill 2, which until that time had kept the state from discriminating against transgender people.
- Was in-part behind the separation of immigrant parents from their children.
- Cancelling quarterly calls with LGBTQ organizations.
- Filed a brief with the Supreme Court that stated business owners had the right to discriminate against LGBTQ patrons.
- Put forth the “License to Discriminate” guidance, which more or less outlined a legal path for discrimination against LGBTQ people, women, and other minorities.
And that’s just to name a few. Social media posts and reactions from various Houstonians have inundated Facebook and Twitter:
Residents of the Montrose area were deeply disappointed in July when El Tiempo announced its impending closure. Now, however, it seems like they’re singing a different tune. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
Wineding Down Season Two Premiere: Lupe Valdez
About Magazine editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez, premieres the second season of his web series, Wineding Down with Anthony.
(HOUSTON) – In the season two premiere of his web series, Wineding Down with Anthony, Anthony Ramirez talks about political mayhem, boys, and voting before sitting down with former Dallas County Sheriff, Lupe Valdez, who is currently campaigning as the LGBTQ Democratic nominee for the Texas Governorship. Watch here:
Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
The seemingly harmless 32-year-old comic tore the Trump administration and the media to shreds with her White House Correspondents’ Dinner stand-up gig … and it was beautiful.
The White House Correspondents’ Association (you know, those people who sit in the press room of the White House shouting questions that typically go unanswered or answered falsely by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) is treated annually with a nice dinner at the White House. The dinner is typically attended by the bulk of the administration, the president and vice president, members of the association intertwined with celebrities and other Washington big-wigs. However, in both 2017 and now 2018, Donald J. Trump has made the choice to not attend the festivities for one reason or another. In his place in 2018, Trump sent Huckabee Sanders.
The evening always boasts at least one entertainer, who in the past have included Jay Leno, Bob Hope, Wanda Sykes, Aretha Franklin, and many others. Last year, Daily Show senior correspondent, Hasan Minhaj, entertained the room, making one-liners about Trump, his staff, the turn-over rate (which even in late April of 2017 was alarmingly high), Russia, and, of course, the press. Minhaj committed himself to performing at the expense of the administration, and was widely regarded for doing so tastefully. This year, (also) Daily Show contributor/writer, Michelle Wolf, was tasked with the honor of performing … and she took no prisoners.
It was mesmerizing.
Throughout the bulk of her performance, Michelle Wolf took jabs at Donald Trump (“Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a ‘white nationalist’ is like calling a pedophile a ‘kid friend,’ or Harvey Weinstein a ‘ladies man,’ which isn’t really fair — he also likes plants.”), Mike Pence (“Mike Pence is what happens when Anderson Cooper isn’t gay.”), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (“I loved you as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale. Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.”), the press corps (about CNN:“You guys love breaking news, and you did it, you broke it! Good work!”) and so many others. When she took the stage, it was probably a general assumption that this tiny, 32-year-old, not-that-famous comedienne from Pennsylvania was going to perform some quick burns, but that she would do so apologetically and with respect to the administration.
What’s the old saying about assuming?
Michelle took the stage and held her own. She had no problem roasting individuals who were seated before her, and even those just a few chairs from her (read: Sanders). She delivered jokes with impeccable comedic timing and proved to the entire world that she’s just as pissed about the state of our nation’s government as many of us are. And by the time the dust had settled, Michelle Wolf became a name that everyone in America would soon know.
However, much like the 2016 election, reactions to the event were … well … divided. While many liberals and anti-Trump advocates rallied around Wolf and lamented their praises, the right, the administration, as well as a great deal of the media, felt differently. Just this morning, even the White House Correspondents’ Association president, Margaret Talev, even released a statement via Twitter responding to Saturday’s monologue. In the statement, Talev outlines that the spirit of the WHCD was “not to divide people”, and went so far as to state that Wolf’s set was not in the spirit of that mission.
Even the president felt the need to take to Twitter to comment on the performance he had not even the courage to attend, stating that Wolf “bombed.” Conversely, many big-names from the left have stepped up and sworn their allegiance to Wolf, supporting her and defending her in social media battles.
Yes, Michelle Wolf put on a performance that is going to be long-remembered, as well as one that will be go down in history as controversial. But why was it so controversial? It didn’t seem controversial when a scathing performance was given by the aforementioned Minhaj the year before. And while he too was met with criticism for some of his remarks by the right, the amount of blowback didn’t include a personal letter from the WHCA.
And why is it that America is so angry? (Let’s be honest, it’s mostly because she’s a liberal woman, and liberal women apparently shouldn’t have opinions … least of all express them). Wolf did her job. Not just as a comic (and it was really freaking funny), but as an American. She used the opportunity to point out through satire and rhetoric the issues that a great deal of Americans have with the administration, as well as the press (and even added to the end of her set that Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water.). And while you may not often hear the words ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ being shouted throughout the halls of the White House as they were last night (then again, how can I really know that?), Wolf’s commentary was tasteful and rewarding.
Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a ‘white nationalist’ is like calling a pedophile a ‘kid friend,’ or Harvey Weinstein a ‘ladies man,’ which isn’t really fair — he also likes plants.
Everyone is concerned for Sarah Huckabee Sanders and President Trump for what Wolf had to say about them; but what about what those two say to all of us on a daily basis? It’s no secret that Donald Trump is a compulsive liar. He usually gets caught in his lies, denies them, is presented with evidence, denies that, and then comes around and says, “Oh, sure. Yeah. I think that did happen. But it’s okay, because it was just me.” Huckabee Sanders does nothing to help that situation, as she conveniently holds a title that requires her to relay a great deal of those lies to the press. And the problem with the both of them? As they’re spewing bullshit to America, they’re doing so with faces that read clearly: I believe what I’m saying is true. To add insult to injury, Trump doesn’t just tell lies, he’s also a self-proclaimed sexual assailant (refer to the Billy Bush recording travesty), and talks about people—often his constituents, mind you—as if they’re not people, but pawns in his real-life game of Monopoly.
Have we so quickly forgotten how he accused Megyn Kelly of having “blood coming out of her wherever” when she chastised him for his behavior during a debate? Are we ignoring how he mocked a disabled news reporter on live TV at a rally held in South Carolina? Are we forgetting how his temper tantrums have brought us to the brink of nuclear war more times than a few? What about his proposed ban on transgender military members? What about the time he claimed that sexual assault in the military is just what happens when men and women work together? Oh, and there was that time he joked about dating his own daughter (that one still makes me cringe).
Wolf did what Wolf was there to do and she did a damn fine job doing so. The backlash she’s receiving is basically to say that we are now supposed to hold the comics in this country to a higher standard than we are the leader of the free world. And that sort of assertion is, quite frankly, ridiculous. She tackled issues that people don’t want to talk about, including the press pandering to the president for ratings and money.
Wolf wasn’t what the crowd was expecting that night at the WHCD … and thankfully so. Whether you like what she had to say about the president, his administration, or the press, Wolf showed up and did her job the way that a comedian is supposed to (and much unlike the president’s record has proven, she did so without insulting the image or body of a single woman). When is the Trump administration going to show up to do their jobs the way they’re supposed to?
You can watch Michelle’s full remarks here.
Queer Houston, We Have a Problem
What the actual heck is the GLBT Political Caucus thinking?
(HOUSTON)—Over the weekend, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus announced its long-winded list of endorsements for the 2018 primary elections, which are now only one month away (March 6th, 2018). The list, which consists of 60 names—59 Democrats and 1 Republican—hosts some notable names, from Beto O’Rourke to Fran Watson and beyond. However, it also is missing a couple of not only recognizable, but very important names in two very important slots.
Jenifer Rene Pool for the Texas House of Representatives and Lupe Valdez for governor. Why do these names matter? Well, for one, Pool was the president of Houston’s GLBT Political Caucus from 2006 until 2008. And then there’s the fact that she was also the first trans person to ever win a primary election in Texas in 2016 (although, she was defeated in November). As for Valdez, well, she made history by being one of the first democrats elected to office in Dallas in 2004 after a long span of time, and by being the only Latina sheriff in the entire nation elected and serving in 2004. Now, as their political candidacies are just a month shy of votes that could disconcert the Texas political establishment, Houston’s GLBT Political Caucus has pulled a very Texas-fitting move by endorsing straight, white men rather than these two queer women.
A little more background on these two women:
Jenifer Rene Pool is more than just a trans woman—she’s a successful businesswoman and advocate who not only has been appointed to the Buildings and Standards Commission, the Police Advisory Commission, the Task Force on Buildings and Standards, the Special Task Force on Film in Houston, the Houston Police Advisory Committee, but has also served thoroughly and actively in the LGBTQIA community for decades and owns her own consulting firm. In 2016 (as aforementioned), Pool became the first trans person to ever win a primary election in the state of Texas, beating opponent Erik Hassan for the Harris County Commissioner’s Court, District 13 seat by a staggering margin. Pool pulled in 78.28% of the votes. Hassan, on the other hand, reeled in only 21.72%. In November, Pool lost the seat to Republican candidate Steve Radack, but by a much smaller margin than Hassan had lost to her in the primary. Radack won with approximately 58%, leaving pool with about 42%. Now, Pool is running for the Texas House of Representatives, heavily emphasizing the repair of infrastructure, implementing comprehensive flood protection, reforming education to a quality standard, and so much more.
Lupe Valdez has served as a captain in the US Army, and has also worked as a federal agent. She served as Sheriff of Dallas County from 2004 until just last year. Valdez’s work in the federal government involved investigating fraud in the country, as well a crime corps outside the country. As the sheriff, she spent a great deal of time reforming prisons that were understaffed and overpopulated. Her advocacy for inmates extended even further, however, seeking better care for prisoners suffering mental illness. As mentioned before, Valdez was one of a handful of LGBTQIA elected public servants serving over the course of her career as sheriff; and when she began in 2004, she was the only Latina in the entire country to hold the title of sheriff. Now, Valdez is running for governor. Valdez is running on higher minimum wages, equal pay, affordable college educations, affordable healthcare, more and better public transit options, and raising the standard of education.
Unarguably, these are two strong political candidates. Right? And they just so happen to identify as LGBTQIA. Still, Pool and Valdez aren’t the only two LGBTQIA candidates running for office. In fact, there are almost fifty queer people running in Texas alone. Certainly, they can’t all win. Still, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be given the opportunity to win.
I’m a staunch believer that we shouldn’t elect queer people just because they’re queer. I wouldn’t be electing Caitlin Jenner just because she’s trans. She’s also a Republican who endorsed Donald Trump. Not quite my cup of tea. However, among those near-fifty candidates that we’re talking about, nearly all are running on the Democratic ticket and are talking about issues that matter to the LGBTQIA community. After all, when it comes down to it, we’re concerned about the same things that cis and straight people are. We just want to be safe and afforded the same opportunities. But more than anything, what the community needs right now and more than ever is representation. Rare is the occasion that any given person is going to agree with each and every political stance taken by any given politician; but even rarer—especially in the LGBTQIA community—is the opportunity to be represented by a majority of politicians. We’re a community of minorities that converges like a Venn Diagram with other minority groups. We’re made up of gay people, trans people, bisexual people, black people, Hispanic people, Jewish people, Asian people, disabled people, veterans, asexuals, the non-binary, and so many more. Unlike the representation we see in our government—especially so in our state’s government—we are more than just white, cisgender, straight, male faces. So, why is that so much of what we’re seeing? And more importantly, why are those the faces that the Houston GLBT Political Caucus is endorsing over queer trans women or queer women of color?
Though it was reported in 2017 that Congress is now composed of 19% nonwhite individuals, there are only seven people who identify as LGBTQIA currently serving—less than 2%. Worse still? Only one of those 7 is a nonwhite person. So, if we take this information into consideration, and if we bother to ask why in 2018 we’re still seeing a giant lack of representation in our national and state government systems, it is equally important to ask why the Houston GLBT Political Caucus is endorsing straight, cisgender, white men in place of a strong trans woman and a Latin lesbian. Both of these women have worked tirelessly over the course of their political careers to ensure safety for the LGBTQIA community and who want to bring their voices—our voices—to Austin to make effective change.
As someone told me lately, “If the Caucus ain’t gonna support you [queer people], who will?”
To hear the Caucus’s new and sitting president tell it, as reported to MyStatesman, “We absolutely, positively wanted to endorse Lupe, but she didn’t do as well as we would have liked in the interview.” But that doesn’t quite seem like a good enough excuse. When it comes down to politics, the public eye never leaves a politician, especially not in the current era of 24-hour news coverage. A politician’s reliability, their credibility, and their flat-out ability to do the job aren’t solely based on one interview. They’re based on what work the candidate in question has done to effect change in the community. And neither Pool nor Valdez has carried out a career lacking said efficacy. Moreover, their careers—possibly even somewhat stunted due to their LGBTQIA statuses—have not come without pressures that their candidates have never had to face. As women—one trans and one cis—and as members of this community, both of these ladies have jumped hurdles to assume and maintain the positions they’ve fought tirelessly for to protect the well-being of other people. And, let’s be honest, these are both women of a certain age. That’s not a jab at them—that’s a jab at the times in which they’ve had to be unafraid and unabashed in order to make the strides they’ve made to get to where they are. Their political lives have had to shatter more glass ceilings than many in politics can ever imagine having existed.
And, as a community of mixed voices—gay, bi, trans, non-binary, lesbian, black, Asian, Hispanic, and more—we need heroes that are comfortable being uncomfortable to stand up, sword and shield in hand, to say no to the assholes in Austin who seek to shove us back into the holes we’ve worked so hard to wiggle our way out of. No more bathroom bills. No more denying us spousal benefits for city employees. No more revoking our right to marry. No more refusal to change gender markers. We need leaders whose voices reflect the people who are underserved—and we are the underserved. I’m not sorry to say that I don’t need a straight, white, cisgender man making decisions for my big, fat, gay life, just like our trans brothers and sisters don’t need one making decisions for them, and just like our lesbian sisters don’t need them making decisions for them, and just like our non-binary siblings don’t need them making decisions for them. We all need a voice that sounds a bit more like ours—a perspective that has been shaped by adversity and experience.
With that said, I’m not sure what the Houston GLBT Political Caucus was thinking when they made these decisions. No offense to Andrew White or Adam Milasincic, the men endorsed in place of Pool and Valdez. Their resumes are impressive, but they’ve also lived lives of white boy privilege. If we’re going to continue talking about draining the swamp and equality and reclaiming our time and nevertheless persisting, our community and the organizations and caucuses that self-proclaim to represent the politics of our best interests need to recognize that it’s time to stop endorsing straight, white, cisgender men in lieu of people who have walked down the roads we have. As someone told me lately, “If the Caucus ain’t gonna support you [queer people], who will?”
Houston GLBT Political Caucus, shame on you. Shame on you for not supporting our trans sister and our sister of color. Sure, they may seem like the underdogs right now. But isn’t that what all of us in this community are? The underdogs? Isn’t that what all of your sitting board members were at some point? But in 2018—a year into a presidency of pussy-grabbing, trans military-banning, and wall-building—you need to be setting the example that even the underdog deserves a chance to shine. You need to be elevating our people and putting them on a pedestal and telling not only these candidates, but the world, “Yes. You can do this. You are the best person to represent our community.” And you have failed in doing that here. As happy as I am that you have endorsed many candidates that I think are going to go out there and use their voices to do great things for us, I am so disappointed in you for discouraging two strong, fierce-as-fuck women when you had the chance to expose them to people who need to know they’re out there fighting for us.
Shame on you.
And queer Houstonians, yes, we have a problem. But we are the only people who have the power to fix that problem. So, on March 6th, get up, go out, and vote. Vote for the queer people on the ballot—no matter who has or has not endorsed them. Make your voices heard. Because the louder that we shout, the more of us that show up, the harder we fight back to be heard and seen and to live an equal and happy life, the more the world will change for the better.