Things That Matter

Trans Activists Of Color Protested At The CNN/HRC Equality Town Hall And Audience Members Applauded

CNN and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) hosted a historic town hall last night focusing on issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community. The moderators and presidential candidates tackled topics and hard-hitting issues that have severely impacted the lives of millions of LGBTQ+ Americans. The town hall happened as the Supreme Court is deciding if LGBTQ+ people are deserving of the same discrimination protections as all Americans. Here’s what happened last night.

Texas politician Julián Castro made it clear that religion will not be an excuse for LGBTQ+ discrimination in his administration.

There have numerous attempts by local and state governments to legalize religious discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. The bills, often labeled as Religious Freedom bills, have been proposed in North Carolina and Indiana and failed. North Carolina wanted to legislate what bathroom people had to use and Indiana wanted to give religious organizations and business owners the license to outright discriminate against people based on their faith.

“If I’m elected president, the first order of business on January 20, 2021, will be to have a catalog with all of the different executive actions that this president, this administration, has taken, including exemptions that they’ve created or rolled back that has allowed people to discriminate against the LGBTQ, using as the reason their religion, their excuse their religion,” Castro told an audience member who asked how he will stop religious organizations from using their faith to dictate discriminatory laws. “I will go back to what we did in the Obama administration and then take it to the next level to protect the LGBTQ community. I don’t believe that anybody should be bale to discriminate against you because you are a member of the LGBTQ community. I don’t believe that folks should be getting funding if they’re doing that. I don’t believe that in the healthcare context, the housing context, the employment context that people should be able to do that. I support the Equality Act and will work to pass that. When I was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, we did the transgender rule, which as I mentioned, expanded the equal access rule so that transgender individuals can find shelter in a manner that they are comfortable with and in accordance to their preference and that’s what I would do as president.”

Castro’s performance during the LGBTQ+ town hall has received praise from LGBTQ+ people.

Credit: @cmclymer / Twitter

Castro was able to speak about the issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community with an understanding that proves he isn’t going off talking points.

His conversation about faith and the license to discriminate showed his understanding of religion and LGBTQ+ people of faith.

Credit: @TUSK81 / Twitter

Castro wants to keep religion from attacking the very LGBTQ+ people of faith who depend on it. For many religious LGBTQ+ people, seeing religious leaders claim that their faith doesn’t accept them is a harsh reality.

Trans women of color let their voices be heard in a town hall that largely ignored them.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg was interrupted when he started his time on the stage. Trans activist Bamby Salcedo and other trans women of color stormed the venue holding trans flag that read “We Are Dying.” The women chanted “We are dying” and “Do something.” Some audience members joined the women in their protest however others jumped up to take the flag away and end the protest.

Anderson Cooper, who was moderating for Buttigieg, spoke up for the women as they were escorted out telling the audience, “Let me just point out, there is a long and proud tradition in history in the gay, lesbian and transgender community of protest and we applaud them for their protest.”

Cooper continued saying, “And they are absolutely right to be angry and upset at the lack of attention, particularly in the media, of the lives of transgender [people].”

Another trans activist, Blossom C Brown, also took on the moderators about the lack of Black trans voices during the town hall.

A lot of the conversation during the town hall focused on issues impacting gay men, trans women, and bisexual people. Many are calling out the town hall for ignoring trans people of color, lesbians, and non-binary people when it comes to health, housing, identity expression, and other issues impacting these communities specifically.

Ashlee Marie Preston, the only trans Black woman in the program, was taken out of the program by CNN so she publicly boycotted the event.

Credit: @AshleeMPreston / Twitter

There was a pretty glaring lack of trans women and men of color during the hours of discussion about LGBTQ+ issues. It is a common complaint within the community as trans women of color have long been ignored and silenced within the LGBTQ+ Rights movement.

READ: After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

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As Republicans Move To Fill Supreme Court Seat, Julián Castro Says Democrats Should Consider Nuclear Option

Things That Matter

As Republicans Move To Fill Supreme Court Seat, Julián Castro Says Democrats Should Consider Nuclear Option

Gabriela Bhaskar / Getty Images

With the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, progressives are struggling to figure out their next move. Republicans have made it clear they don’t care about precedent or even following their own made up rules, and plan to attempt to fill the vacancy as quickly as possible.

Some Republicans have even gone as far as saying they’ll vote to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee even if he loses the November election, in a lame duck session of Congress.

This has Democrats in overdrive trying to figure out their game plan and how they’ll respond to Republican efforts to once again steal a Supreme Court seat.

Julián Castro says that Democrats should consider packing the court if they come into power come January.

In an interview with Buzzfeed’s News O’Clock podcast, this year’s only Latino candidate for president said that Democrats should consider adding more justices to the Supreme Court if Senate Republicans rush to confirm a justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. His announcement is a reversal from his stated position during the presidential campaign.

“For many of us, that wasn’t our preference, but the fact is you have Mitch McConnell not abiding by, not working in good faith under the Constitution. … If you have that kind of abuse of the system, then I think that, yeah, Democrats should be open to different ways that we can stave off draconian changes to our fundamental rights,” he said.

During last year’s presidential primaries, Castro said that he “would not pack the court” if we were elected president, but with reproductive rights, voting rights, and healthcare hanging in the balance, he now believes Democrats should consider structural reform to the court.

“When those are the stakes, and Mitch McConnell is the one who’s abused this system, then yeah, I think we need to be open to considering either adding more justices or other structural reforms that will prevent this kind of abuse in the future,” he said.

Nothing in the Constitution limits the number of justices that sit on the Supreme Court.

Credit: Sam Gateaux / Getty Images

Adding more justices to the Supreme Court, or “packing the court”, has become widely popular among progressives as they see it as a last resort to restoring equality to the court. And the only way in writing wrongs committed by Republican Senate leadership.

Obviously, one concern is that if the Democrats increase the court size when they have power, that the Republicans could expand it again when they regain power. And we would have a never ending saga.

But as the Democrats are once again outplayed and outmaneuvered by the GOP, many say it’s a risk worth taking.

Castro also warned that Biden was losing his traction with Latino voters.

Meanwhile, Castro has also expressed concern that the Biden campaign isn’t doing enough to win the support of Latino voters.

“I believe the campaign gets it in that they understand they have work to do,” Castro said, adding that he thinks that Biden will pick up Latino support by Nov. 3 because the campaign is now investing in voter registration, bilingual messaging across platforms, and tailored outreach to different Latino communities, rather than treating them as one unified voting block.

“The Latino community too often is invisible, it’s an afterthought,” said Castro, who was housing secretary under Barack Obama. “Even though it’s going to be the largest non-white voting group in 2020. I think in every way in American society … there’s this image of the Latino community as though everybody got here five minutes ago.”

Joe Biden’s campaign has “to make sure that they are doing everything they can to reach out to a community that already has one of the lowest rates of voting, that needs to be brought into the fold”, Castro said.

With 29 million eligible voters in 2018, or about 12.8% of the total, Latinos voted more than two-to-one for Democrats, according to Pew Research. That was a much lower rate than for the party’s key bloc, African Americans, who went 90%-9% for Democrats.

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Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Entertainment

Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Mike Windler / Getty Images

Ricky Martin has long been an international superstar – even long before ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ took over virtually every airway in the world. But it’s hard to deny that with that song, the Puerto Rican singer entered the global mainstream and ever since he’s been a pop icon.

From being one of the first major pop stars to publicly come out as gay, to acting in popular TV series, and getting married and becoming a father of four, Ricky Martin has always been a very busy man.

And despite a global pandemic that has forced all of us to stay at home and find a ‘new normal,’ Martin has forged a path forward. He recently sat down for an interview with Billboard to discuss everything from new music, the global Coronavirus pandemic, and his identity as an out and proud gay Latino.

Considering we’re all still living amid a global pandemic, the Billboard interview started on this very relevant topic.

Billboard points out that Martin and his family live in a very big and beautiful house in Beverly Hills, which likely makes staying at home a bit easier compared to the rest of us. However, Martin points out that he has a very loud home – with four kids and his mom all living under one roof. But he admits, “…I am very lucky. I am in a comfortable home where my kids can play.”

Ricky Martin is also working on new music. He released Pausa in May, and now as he works on new music the world is a very different place. He told Billboard: “I started working on my music maybe nine months ago. In my mind, the album was going to be called Movimiento, which means movement. But with all this [pandemic], it just told me… “The way it was, was not working. Let’s do it differently.” I have music with rhythm, but I was not going to tell people to move! So I named it Pausa.”

He also speaks about his close relationship with fellow Puerto Rican, El Conejo Malo.

Shortly after Billboard released its history-making cover with Bad Bunny on the the cover, Martin described San Benito as a “Latin queer icon.” Many people – of all backgrounds – took issue with that. But Ricky Martin tells Billboard that “allies are so important. Without them, our fight for equality is impossible. It really tickles me to see Bad Bunny as a gay icon — just like Cher could be. Why not?”

The Puerto Rican singer shared what his coming out experience was like and reveals he never tires of sharing it.

In the interview, Martin is very open about his coming out as gay. The singer came out as gay in 2010, married husband Jwan Yosef in 2017, and together the couple is raising four children.

Rolling Stone asked Martin, 48, what it was like to remain closeted during “the most public, exposed period” of his life.

“I had moments of extreme positivity, and not so positive [moments],” Martin answered. “Life was a bit on steroids in those days. Everything was really intense, but I could take it! I come from a school of military discipline when it comes to training for music, dance, and acting. I started when I was 12. So for me, it was about not being ready to open [up]. When you open an egg from the outside, what comes out is death. But when the egg opens from the inside, what comes out is life. It’s something that needs to come from within. Every time someone forces someone to come out, what you’re doing is you’re destroying the natural flow of the self-discovery.”

When asked what motivated him to come out publicly, Martin said that a kid somewhere in America needs to see positive headlines about coming out.

“Today I woke up to this beautiful headline that I know someone out there is in need of. The headline was something like, ‘I came out. And ever since I’ve been the happiest.’ Something like that, something… My heart is beating faster because I know today a kid somewhere in America woke up needing to hear those words. A lot of people say they get tired of talking about the same thing. Why would I? Are you kidding me? For so many years I had to keep it inside. And then the effect of someone… What people are getting from it in their healing process?”

Billboard also asked Martin his feelings on how the media is profiting and accepting Puerto Rican and Latinx culture.

When asked if he feels that the American media has gotten better or more open to understanding Puerto Rican culture, Martin responded: “We certainly have a long way to go, but the important thing is that we see that there’s an audience that is interested. And it’s up to us to bring [the] education.”

And he’s absolutely right. This year has seen several Latino artists rise to the top of all sorts of charts. Bad Bunny and J Balvin are among the most streamed artists globally and Bad Bunny is one of the most streamed artists on YouTube as well.

Meanwhile, Maluma and Jennifer Lopez are working on a film that will be out early next year. The Emmy’s, VMAs, and other award shows finally had decent representation of artists of color – particularly among the Latinx community.

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