Things That Matter

Marco Rubio Took To The Senate Floor To Condemn The Torturing Of Gay Men In Chechnya

Marco Rubio is standing with the LGBTQ community for the first time.

The government of Chechnya (a majority-Muslim region of Russia) has been drawing international anger for rounding up and imprisoning members of its LGBTQ community — mainly gay men. Reports claim that at least 100 men have been detained at concentration camps for homosexuals in Chechnya and at least three have been killed. The men detained at these prisons are being subjected to extreme torture, including multiple beatings a day, having their hands electrocuted, and being forced to sit on bottles. As the chairman of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, And Global Women’s Issues, Marco Rubio has spoken up against the Chechen dictator, Ramzan Kadyrov, and his plans to exterminate all gay men in the region by the start of Ramadan. The arrests of the men are being executed based on proof or speculation of being gay.

“Unfortunately, this is not a new reality for those living under the brutal tyranny of the Chechen leader, who by the way happens to be a loyal ally of Vladimir Putin,” Rubio said on the Senate floor. “There have been reports in the past of similar abuses although these reports seem to be the most brutal and should provoke anger in all of us. We should never ever tolerate human rights violations against any person for their political views, their religious beliefs, [or] their sexual orientation.”

Rubio spoke passionately about the need to condemn the act of violence against Chechnya’s LGBTQ community and the need to condemn the government in the most efficient way possible. Canadian LGBTQ activists are calling for the Canadian government to start granting emergency visas to LGBTQ Chechens in order to relocate them away from the present and imminent danger of violence and death by the hands of their government.

Rubio has long drawn criticism from LGBTQ activists because of his previous stances on LGBTQ issues. According to the Human Rights Campaign, Rubio has consistently voted against the interests and rights of the LGBTQ community in Florida and the United States. He has voted to block marriage equality, prevent same-sex couples from adopting, and even vowed to vote against his own immigration bill if it allowed immigration rights for same-sex couples. There are even reports of Rubio speaking at a fundraiser to raise money for the debunked and harmful practice of conversion therapy, which is its own form of torture on LGBTQ people.

“If this bill has in it something that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I’m gone. I’m off it,” Rubio told CNN about his immigration bill. “I’ve said that repeatedly. I don’t think that’s going to happen, and it shouldn’t happen. This is already a difficult enough issue as it is.”

Are we seeing a change in Rubio’s attitude towards LGBTQ people? Only time will tell.


READ: Watch Marco Rubio Drag Trump’s Secretary Of State Pick

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Two Republican Senators Post Photos Of Elijah Cummings While Honoring John Lewis

Things That Matter

Two Republican Senators Post Photos Of Elijah Cummings While Honoring John Lewis

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This weekend, the U.S. lost one of the greatest Civil Rights icons in history. Rep. John Lewis died July 17, 2020, and tributes poured out for the long-running congressman.

Congressman John Lewis leaves behind a legacy of racial justice and activism for civil rights.

Rep. Lewis was a major leader in the Civil Rights movement in 1960s Alabama. On March 7, 1965, Lewis led a group of people marching to Montgomery, the Alabama capital, in order to vote. As the group tried crossing the bridge, state troopers attacked the protesters. Lewis sustained a cracked skull during that attack. Every year after, Lewis crossed that bridge on the anniversary to commemorate the fight.

Tributes poured in on social media praising the congressman’s legacy of fighting for justice.

Rep. Lewis was relentless in his fight for justice and for racial equality. He was arrested several times throughout his life while fighting the injustices he wanted to change in this country. The activism eventually led him to a life of politics. The 80-year-old politician was first elected to Georgia’s 5th congressional district in 1987 and he served his district until his death.

On the eve of his death, the Supreme Court announced a decision that barred 1 million former felons from having their right to vote restored. This was something for which Rep. Lewis started with his fight for justice. He fought for the right of people to vote and would always remind people of their duty to vote in honor of those who fought for the right. The decision was a reminder that his fight was not over.

“There is no person more associated with the sacred right to vote in our lifetime than John Lewis,” Michigan Representative Dan Kildee told the Atlanta Journal Consitution. “To be able to execute his vote — to cast his vote for him — is an honor I will be able to keep with me until the day I die.”

Kildee was chosen by Rep. Lewis to cast his votes for him while he was in hospice. Rep. Lewis was ill from pancreatic cancer during his last days serving the people of Georgia’s 5th congressional district.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio offered his condolences but used the wrong picture.

Rep. Elijah Cummings died in October 2019 of complications from health issues. People are stunned that Sen. Rubio, who has worked with both Cummings and Lews in the past, would mix the two up.

The very uncomfortable mix up was exacerbated when Senator Dan Sullivan made the same mistake.

That’s right. Two senators made the mistake of posting a photo of themselves with Rep. Elijah Cummings. Rep. Lewis knew very well that this confusion was a long-running issue and made jokes about it in the past. On April 1, 2019, Rep. Lewis released a statement on how he was going to start ming sure people can tell them apart: a beard or head tattoo.

“I considered getting a tattoo on the back of my head, just to clear things up. I tried to convince Elijah to get one too, but that didn’t go over so well.,” reads Rep. Lewis’s statement. “I guess being mistaken does have its advantages, though. Elijah’s younger than me, so I guess being mistaken for him is kind of a compliment. Maybe one day when I have a schedule conflict, I’ll see if he wouldn’t mind sitting in a hearing for me. You think anybody would notice?”

Sen. Rubio eventually tweeted the correct image but not before the damage was done.

The tweet corrects the mistake but is a little too late considering the speed of screengrabs. At least he did take the steps to change the tweet and admit that he did post the wrong image.

Of course, people took the time to turn the narrative and misidentified both Sullivan and Rubio.

Those are fellow Republican senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas. The mix up is an embarrassing reminder of the racial microaggressions still alive and well today. The moment has reminded people of the trope that all Black people look alike and that is something we are hyperaware of in the current political atmosphere and cultural shift.

READ: Over 60 Politicians Are Boycotting Trump’s Inauguration

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Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

Entertainment

Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

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There are few queer characters the people can point to in the past as being someone that changed their lives. Santana Lopez, Naya Rivera’s character on “Glee,” is one of them. Even if you’ve never watched “Glee,” Rivera’s character touched you because of how that representation is so important and empowering.

Naya Rivera’s place in LGBTQ+ media representation will be her long-lasting legacy.

Rivera brought us Santana Lopez, a queer Latina navigating the world of high school in a small town. For many, this kind of representation was so rare and often poorly done that Rivera’s command of the role was impactful. You didn’t have to be an avid viewer of the show to understand and appreciate the magnitude of Santana Lopez.

Rivera brought our experience directly to the mainstream and forced our own classmates to think about the way they saw queer people.

Rivera’s ability to capture the awkwardness and terror of being a closeted queer student in high school still resonates. It is a piece of nostalgia that is so deeply ingrained in queer people that it’s hard not to be emotional about Rivera’s sudden and tragic death.

Who can forget the moment Santana used “Landslide” to tell Brittany that she loved her.

The emotion of a love that is not easy to confess and live authentically is real. Ask any queer person you know about coming to terms with her sexuality in high school and you will hear about the fear and excitement. You will hear about the strategic allyships that epitomize the constant battle between being open and staying safe.

Rivera was more than an actress, she was an ally and advocate during her time on “Glee.”

Season 2, when Rivera’s feelings for Brittany (played by Heather Morris) grew, aired from 2010 to 2011. It was a time when marriage equality was not nationwide. Some states still barred same-sex couples from adopting children. Yet, queer high school and college students had a chance to see their experience mirrored because of Rivera’s insistence.

Rivera’s death is a major loss for the queer community that got our strength and courage from her.

Knowing that all of the “Glee” fans were rooting for and falling in love with Santana Lopez gave us a chance to breathe and feel accepted. Adding her Latina heritage was so important. Queer people of color, who have faced increased scrutiny from their own families, had someone representing them completely and sincerely.

Demi Lovato paid tribute by remembering the time she played Santana Lopez’s girlfriend.

The queer Latina love was not lost on fellow queer Latinos. Lovato herself was not out about her sexuality at the time and she admits in her post that Rivera inspired her. Rivera’s efforts to give the character an accurate and respectful storyline will forever be praised and admired as a fully realized manifestation of our experience.

Thank you for being someone we didn’t know we needed, Naya.

Our hearts are broken and our eyes are wet. We send love and hope to your loved ones. Rest in power, mija. We love you and will never forget what you did for our community.

READ: Naya Rivera’s Body Found In Lake Piru After Going Missing During Outing With Son

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