The most recent round of primary elections this week saw wins for LGBTQ lawmakers in at least three states ahead of November’s general election.
Former meteorologist Eric Sorensen won the Democratic primary for Illinois’s 17th Congressional District, putting him on track to be the first out LGBTQ lawmaker ever elected to Congress from the state. He’ll face off against Republican nominee Esther Joy King in November in a race that the New York Times is calling a toss-up.
In Colorado, incumbent Gov. Jared Polis (D) will defend his seat against Republican nominee Heidi Ganahl. The only out gay man elected governor of a U.S. state, Polis ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Elsewhere in the state, incumbent state Rep. Brianna Titone (D), the first transgender person to serve in the Colorado legislature, will now face Republican nominee Christina Carlino in the race to represent Colorado’s 27th congressional district.
Oklahoma state Rep. Mauree Turner (D), the first nonbinary person elected to any state legislature, handily beat challenger Joe Lewis in the Democratic primary, and will now go on to face independent Jed Green in the general.
In Utah, state Sen. Derek Kitchen (D), the only out LGBTQ member of the state’s legislature, leads challenger Dr. Jennifer Plumb by two points. That primary has not yet been called.
Tuesday’s elections also saw Rep Marie Newman (D-IL) lose her race against fellow incumbent Rep. Sean Casten. The two lawmakers found themselves competing in the same district after Illinois legislators redrew the state’s congressional map. Newman, whose daughter is transgender, was seen as the more progressive of the two Representatives. The defeat would seem to bring to an end her ongoing battle with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), whose office is located across from hers, over a trans Pride flag Newman posted outside her door.
Meanwhile, anti-LGBTQ extremist Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) won her primary after denouncing the separation of church and state, one of the cornerstones of American democracy.
“And I’m tired of this ‘separation of church and state’ junk, that’s not in the Constitution. It was in a stinking letter and it means nothing like what they say it does,” Boebert recently told the crowd at the Cornerstone Christian Center in Basalt, Colorado.
As cases of monkeypox virus surge in the U.S., the Biden administration will start distributing the monkeypox vaccine across the country, focusing on people most at risk and communities with the highest numbers of cases, White House officials announced Tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will send 56,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine immediately to areas with high transmission. An additional 240,000 doses will be distributed over the next few weeks, with even more to come this summer and fall. Officials expect to make at least 1.6 million doses available by the end of the fall.
“We are recommending that vaccines be provided to both people with known monkeypox exposures who are contacted by public health and also to those people who’ve been recently exposed to monkeypox,” the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said at a news briefing Tuesday.
The CDC is prioritizing initial access to the vaccine for people who have been in close contact, including sexual contact, with someone who has diagnosed with the virus. The agency will also provide vaccines to men who have sex with men who report having had multiple recent sex partners at a venue or party where the virus is known to have spread, or who have had sex with multiple partners in an area of the country with elevated spread.
The vast majority of confirmed monkeypox cases, both in the U.S. and in the global outbreak as a whole, have been among men who have sex with men.
While case numbers continue to rise in the U.S., the White House Covid-19 coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, seemed hopeful the U.S. could contain the outbreak and said it was important to remain vigilant.
“Monkeypox is not novel,” Jha said at the briefing. “We as a global community have known about it for decades. We know how it spreads. We have tests that help identify people who are infected. We have vaccines that are highly effective against it.”
The U.S. monkeypox outbreak was first detected in Massachusetts in May, after a person who had been traveling tested positive. Since then, the virus has been spreading around the country, with more than 306 cases in 28 states, according to the CDC. But because of limitations with testing for the virus, it’s likely the U.S. is significantly undercounting the numbers of infections, experts say.
“We’ve already lost control of this outbreak,” said David Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. “We think there’s many more cases, and we need to act now to get control of this outbreak.”
New York City and Washington, D.C., were among the first cities to begin vaccinating at-risk groups for monkeypox, including men who have sex with men reporting multiple partners or at least one anonymous partner within 14 days. With just 1,000 doses from the CDC to distribute at one clinic, New York, which began administering shots on June 23, quickly ran out.
It was a similar situation in Washington, where health officials announced Monday that they would also start vaccinating at-risk groups. The 300 available appointments were taken in less than an hour after the online booking system went live.
A drag show at a Woodland bar celebrating the end of Pride month was disrupted Thursday night after a group showed up yelling homophobic slurs and threatening safety.
The owner of Mojo’s Lounge and Bar had canceled the event earlier in the evening due to safety concerns. Threats toward the venue and performers scheduled to be at the event had been circulating on social media for several weeks after details were picked up by a hateful group on social media, according to the owner.
As the group yelled hateful language, patrons waited as police surrounded the bar. At some point, someone deployed pepper spray. Thursday night investigators are still working to figure out where it came from.
Nearly a dozen anti-LGBTQ bills are scheduled to go into effect today in states across the U.S. Alabama, Florida, Indiana, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah will all see restrictions placed on trans athletes, bans on LGBTQ topics in public schools, and other laws.
More than 300 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state houses across the county this year. Over two dozen have passed, and ten of those go into effect today—a grim record for 2022. According to the Trevor Project, July 1 represents the single day when the most anti-LGBTQ bills will be implemented this year.
“We’ve already seen the impact of debating bills targeting our young people,” Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project said. “85% of transgender and nonbinary youth say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. And now, LGBTQ youth will have to face the reality of these harmful bills being enacted into law, waking up to find they are no longer able to say who they are at school, safely use the bathroom, or play sports with their friends.”
One of the laws taking effect today is Florida’s infamous HB 1557, commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill for its ban on any mention of LGBTQ issues, people, or history in kindergarten through third grade. The bill, which Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law earlier this year, has provided a template for similar laws across the U.S., some of which go into effect today as well.
But new polling data released this week by The Trevor Project and Morning Consult finds that most Florida voters oppose banning or limiting LGBTQ content in public schools. They’re also less likely to vote for candidates who support criminalizing gender-affirming care for trans youth.
Florida’s so-called “Stop Woke Act” also takes effect today. The law aims to limit the instruction of topics related to the history of racism in the U.S.
Florida’s new laws may be the most high-profile, but they certainly aren’t the only anti-LGBTQ laws taking effect today. In Alabama, HB 322 will restrict transgender students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity and ban instruction of LGBTQ topics in schools, similar to Florida’s law.
Bans on transgender women and girls competing in sports take effect in both Indiana and South Dakota. South Dakota’s HB 1012 will also place restrictions on LGBTQ topics in higher education.
In Tennessee, a total of three anti-LGBTQ laws take effect today. Two are aimed at limiting trans participation in sports, while a third restricts LGBTQ materials available in schools. And yet another law banning transgender women and girls from participating in sports takes effect today in Utah.
“Pride Month may be over, but the fight goes on,” Ames said. “We enter July with a reminder that the LGBTQ community is part of a legacy of resistance and resilience. And we call on every elected official, company, community member and leader who wore a rainbow flag yesterday to make good on that commitment today. It will take each of us working together to build a safer, more affirming world for LGBTQ youth.”
Even after five years of living together in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, something as simple as holding hands or sharing a kiss in public is unthinkable for Dayanny Marcelo and Mayela Villalobos.
There is an ever-present fear of being rejected or attacked in Guerrero, a state where same-sex relationships are not widely accepted and one of five in Mexico where same-sex marriage is still not allowed.
But this week they traveled the 235 miles (380 kilometers) to Mexico’s capital, where the city government hosted a mass wedding for same-sex couples as part of celebrations of LGBT Pride Month.
Under a tent set up in the plaza of the capital’s civil registry, along with about 100 other same-sex couples, Villalobos and Marcelo sealed their union Friday with a kiss while the wedding march played in the background.
Their ability to wed is considered one of the LGBT community’s greatest recent achievements in Mexico. It is now possible in 27 of Mexico’s 32 states and has been twice upheld by the Supreme Court.
Mexico, Brazil and Argentina top Latin America in the number of same-sex marriages.
Mariaurora Mota, a leader of the Mexican LGBTTTI+ Coalition, said the movement still is working to guarantee in all of Mexico the right to change one’s identity, have access to health care and social security and to let transsexual minors change their gender on their birth certificates.
Walking around Mexico City a day before their wedding, Marcelo and Villalobos confessed to feeling strange holding hands in the city streets. Displays of affection between same-sex couples in the capital are commonplace, but it was difficult to shed their inhibititions.
“I feel nervous,” said Villalobos, a 30-year-old computer science major, as Marcelo held her hand.
Villalobos grew up in the northern state of Coahuila in a conservative Christian community. She always felt an “internal struggle,” because she knew she had a different sexual orientation, but feared her family would reject her. “I always cried because I wanted to be normal,” she said.
A majority of Americans favor protecting transgender people from discrimination, but a rising share say a person’s gender is determined by their sex assigned at birth, and most support trans sports bans, a new poll from the Pew Research Center found.
The survey of more than 10,000 adults, which was conducted May 16-22 and published Tuesday, found that 60% say a person’s gender is determined at birth, up from 56% in 2021 and 54% in 2017.
Views on gender identity differ by age groups and even more sharply by political affiliation. Half of adults ages 18 to 29 say someone can be a different gender than the one assigned to them at birth, compared with about 4 in 10 of those ages 30 to 49 and about a third of those 50 and older, the report found. Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic Party were four times more likely than Republicans and conservative-leaning people to say that someone’s gender can be different than the one assigned to them at birth.
The new poll also shed light on how people in the United States feel about one of the most politically debated issues regarding trans people — whether they should be allowed to compete on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) support policies that would require transgender athletes to compete on sports teams that match the sex they were assigned at birth, the survey found.
Of the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills filed in recent years — over 670 since 2018, according to an NBC News analysis — measures that would limit trans people’s participation in sports have been among the most popular and politically contentious in the nation’s state legislatures. Eighteen states have enacted the bills into law within recent years, with Louisiana doing so earlier this month.
Proponents of transgender sports bans say they are protecting fairness in women’s sports, arguing that trans girls and women have inherent advantages over cisgender girls and women.
Critics say the measures are less about protecting women’s sports and more about discriminating against trans people.
Kentucky’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, who is gay, says he is leaving the K-12 classroom “to make the most difference, and the discrimination and lack of support prevent me from making that difference.”
After 17 years being a public school teacher, Willie Carver Jr. said he decided to leave the classroom and take a position at the University of Kentucky in student support services.
Carver, who had been teaching high school in Montgomery County, told the Herald-Leader that “vocal anti-LGBTQ extremists at school board meetings (and on social media) have been personally attacking me and my former students.” Carver said he had been unable to find support from his school administration.
As voters head to the polls today for primaries in 5 states and the District of Columbia, a record number of LGBTQ candidates for federal office are bringing the prospect of equal representation in Washington ever closer to reality.
A record 104 LGBTQ candidates have mounted campaigns for House or Senate seats this year, with 57 candidates still in the running.
Currently, 11 out LGBTQ lawmakers serve in Congress, including Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), plus nine members of the House, all running for reelection.
Nine more LGBTQ candidates for House seats are in competitive races. Wins in their states would bring total LGBTQ representation in the House to 4%, or about half of the estimated population of LGBTQ people in the US.
Those nine include 4 women, 2 Latinx candidates, and an LGBTQ immigrant.
Here’s a breakdown:
In Vermont, state senator Becca Balint is facing off against three other Democrats in the August 9 primary for a shot at an open seat representing Vermont’s At-Large Congressional District. Balint is the first woman and first out gay person to serve as the Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore, and would be the first out LGBTQ person and the first woman elected to Congress from Vermont.
In North Carolina, County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, won the Democratic primary handily and faces off against Republican Chuck Edwards for a seat currently occupied by primary loser Madison Cawthorn.
Beach-Ferrara is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and the founding Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) and would be the first out LGBTQ person elected to any federal position from North Carolina.
In Arizona, state representative Daniel Hernandez faces off against two other candidates in the Democratic primary in August for an open seat in Arizona’s 6th congressional district.
Hernandez attended the University of Arizona and interned for then-Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, whom he was with the day she was shot; he was the first to administer first aid to the Congresswoman before the EMTs arrived. He was named a national hero by President Obama.
Hernandez would be the second Latinx out LGBTQ member of Congress.
In New York, former Congressional aide and businessman Robert Zimmerman will face off against five other Democrats for an open seat in the August 23 primary in Long Island’s 3rd congressional district.
Zimmerman has been honored by the LGBTQ Network of Long Island and Queens and the Long Island Progressive Coalition, in addition to serving as President of Great Neck B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Congress Long Island Division.
The Empire State’s congressional delegation currently includes three LGBTQ members: Ritchie Torres, the first out LGBTQ Afro-Latinx person elected to the U.S. Congress; Mondaire Jones, one of the first two Black gay men, along with Torres, elected to Congress; and Sean Patrick Maloney.
Zimmerman would be the first out LGBTQ member of Congress from Long Island.
In California, two-term Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia is running for an open seat to represent the city in Congress from California’s 42nd district. Garcia was re-elected to a second term as mayor by almost 80% of the vote in 2018.
Garcia immigrated to the United States at age 5 and holds an M.A. from the University of Southern California and an Ed.D. in Higher Education from Cal State Long Beach, where he also earned his B.A. in Communications. He won an open primary in June with 46% of the vote, 20 points higher than his general election opponent for the seat, Republican John Briscoe.
Garcia would be the first out LGBTQ immigrant elected to Congress.
Also in California, former federal prosecutor Will Rollins is running to represent Riverside County in the state’s 41st district against Republican Congressman Ken Calvert in the 42nd district. Rollins won the Democratic primary June 7.
Rollins earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth in 2007 and a law degree from Columbia Law School in 2012. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, he helped prosecute some of the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.
Rollins’ election would make him the second out gay man from California to serve in congress, after incumbent Mark Takano, from the same district; Takano is running in 2022 for a seat in the state’s 39th following re-districting.
In Oregon, Jamie McLeod-Skinner is running as the Democratic nominee for an open seat representing the state’s 5th district, after winning a primary in May 15 points ahead of her opponent. She faces Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the general.
McLeod-Skinner currently serves as an elected board member of the Jefferson County Education Service District. This is her second run at Congress, after a change-making grassroots campaign for Oregon’s second district in 2018, resulting in the largest voter swing (+26) of all congressional races that year.
McLeod-Skinner would be Oregon’s first out LGBTQ member of Congress.
In Maryland, former Assembly member Heather Mizeur is running to represent the state’s 1st Congressional District. Mizeur faces one other opponent in Maryland’s July primary to face off against Republican incumbent Andrew Harris in the general.
In the Maryland Assembly, Mizeur took a leading role in passing marriage equality, banning fracking, enacting criminal justice reforms, and expanding health insurance for children, women, and families.
Mizeur would be the first out LGBTQ member of Congress from the state.
In Illinois, popular TV meteorologist Eric Sorensen is running against five opponents in the Democratic primary for an open seat to represent the state’s 17th congressional district.
Sorenson says he was pushed out of his first television gig in Texas, with a copy of his contract sitting on his boss’s desk and the “morals clause” highlighted.
Sorenson would be the first out LGBTQ person elected to Congress from Illinois.
Thomas wrote that, even though the Constitution doesn’t explicitly mention abortion rights, the Supreme Court “erroneously” decided in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to treat abortion as a fundamental right that should be free from government interference, something known in legal terms as “substantive due process.”
Thomas wrote, “We should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents. We have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents… For that reason, in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold [the case that granted the right to contraception] Lawrence[the case that struck down anti-sodomy laws], and Obergefell [the case that legalized marriage equality].”
In response, Obergefell made a statement, saying, “Clarence Thomas is a Supreme Court justice appointed by humans, he is not the Supreme Deity. The millions of loving couples who have the right to marriage equality to form their own families do not need Clarence Thomas imposing his individual twisted morality upon them. If you want to see an error in judgment, Clarence Thomas, look in the mirror.”
IVF usually involves fertilizing multiple eggs to increase the likelihood of the treatment being successful. Once the gestational parent becomes pregnant through IVF, medical professionals discard any extra fertilized eggs.
“Without the protections of Roe v Wade, it is possible that state lawmakers may feel empowered to create barriers for people to access medical procedures like IVF – which is deeply troubling for LGBTQ+ people and anyone who needs access to IVF to expand their family,” Shelbi Day, Chief Policy Officer at the nonprofit organization Family Equality, told LGBTQ Nation.
Clela Rorex, a former Colorado county clerk considered a pioneer in the gay rights movement for being the first public official to issue a same-sex marriage license in 1975, has died. She was 78.
Rorex died Sunday of complications from recent surgery at a hospice care facility in Longmont, the Daily Camera reported.
Rorex was a newly elected Boulder County clerk when a gay couple denied a marriage license elsewhere sought her help in March 1975. She told The Associated Press in 2014 that she saw a parallel with the women’s movement and found nothing in state law preventing it.
The then-31-year-old agreed and, in the end, issued a total of six licenses to gay couples before Colorado’s attorney general at the time ordered her to stop.
State and federal law didn’t recognize gay marriage at the time. Rorex recalled that she had little public support and didn’t challenge the attorney general.
A recall effort was launched against Rorex, a single mother and University of Colorado graduate student. Suffering from chronic migraines and dealing with hate mail, she resigned halfway through her term.
Colorado legalized gay marriage in 2014 after a state court and a Denver federal court struck down a 2006 ban enacted by state voters. A 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision recognized the fundamental right nationwide.
Jared Polis, Colorado’s first openly gay governor, paid tribute to Rorex upon learning of her passing.
“Her certification of same-sex marriages (until the Attorney General shut her down) was a pivotal moment in the long struggle for marriage equality that led to Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, which legalized marriage equality nationally,” Polis wrote on Facebook. “So many families, including First Gentleman Marlon Reis and I, are grateful for the visionary leadership of Clela Rorex, a woman ahead of her time.”
Glenda Russell, a retired writer and LGTBQ community historian, told the Camera that Rorex faced significant backlash after issuing the first license.
“Nationally at the time, most people didn’t take it too seriously because they didn’t worry about it happening again, but in Boulder, the reaction was forceful and mean spirited. She got hit with all the homophobia and heterosexism that the LGBTQ community was facing,” Russell said.
In later years, Rorex advocated for gay and lesbian rights, speaking in schools and expressing exasperation with the slow pace of change.
According to Out Boulder County, an LGTBQ advocacy organization, Rorex was born in Denver on July 23, 1943. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Colorado before running for county clerk and recorder. After resigning as clerk in 1977 she obtained post-graduate degrees and served a legal administrator for the Native American Rights Fund.
A celebration of life was planned for July 23, Out Boulder County said.
The county courthouse in Boulder where she issued the licenses has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.