Things That Matter

From Gun Reform To Immigration, Here Are The Highlights Of Last Night’s #DemDebate

ABC News and Univision hosted the third Democratic debate last night in Houston. A lot of the discussion focused on the gun violence epidemic due to the recent shootings that impacted the Texas community. Immigration and healthcare were also major topics discussed among the top ten Democratic candidates. Here’s a quick recap so you know what went down.

Beto O’Rourke had the biggest moment when he declared that the U.S. government should take away assault rifles.

O’Rourke, who is from and represented El Paso, Texas, took on the gun debate in a way we haven’t seen. The Texas-native spoke about the guns that have been used to commit mass shooting across the country bringing unimaginable pain and death in minutes. He referred to the guns as weapons wit the intention of killing people and spoke on their purpose in war. He went further to say that weapons meant for war have no place on the streets of the U.S. citing mass deaths in El Paso and Odessa, Texas.

“Hell yes. We’re going to tek your AR-15 and your AK-47,” O’Rourke said. “We’re not going to allow them to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”

His statement was met with a standing ovation and thunderous applause.

His statements caught the attention of Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain who represents District 128.

Credit: @BetoORourke / Twitter

The tweet, which many are calling a death threat on the presidential candidate, was deleted by Twitter. Cain represents a rural district of Texas just east of Houston. The O’Rourke campaign is reporting the tweet to the FBI.

Jorge Ramos, one of the moderators of the debate, asked Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to explain the difference between his views of Socialism and the governments of Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Ramos asked Sanders to explain why he won’t refer to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro as a dictator. He also asked just how Sanders’ view of Socialism is different than the governments in Latin America.

Sanders started his answer by calling Maduro a vicious tyrant and called on international and regional support to reinstate free and open elections. Sanders’ hope is that by placing pressure on Venezuela, the people will be able to create the government and future they seek.

“In terms of Democratic Socialism,” Sanders started. “To equate what goes on in Venezuela with what I believe is extremely unfair. I’ll tell you what I believe in terms of Democratic Socialism. I agree with what’s going on in Canada and Scandanavia guaranteeing healthcare to all people as a human right. I believe that the United States should not be the only major country on earth not to provide paid family and medical leave.”

Julián Castro, also from Texas, declared that his immigration plan will not use DACA as a bargaining chip and plans to keep the program in place.

First, Castro painted the picture that Obama and Trump are polar opposites when it comes to the treatment of the immigrant community. To Castro, Trump has a “dark heart” when it comes to immigrants and has spent his time as president to scapegoat and demonize the immigrant community.

Namely, Castro went after Biden for celebrating the victories of the Obama administration by inserting himself in those victories. Yet, Castro calls out what he sees as Biden separating himself from the harder moments of admitting to being part of the shortcomings.

“I was the first candidate in early April to put forward an immigration plan,” Castro said. “You know why? Because I’m not afraid of trump on this issue. I”m not going to backpedal. I’m not going to pretend like I don’t have my own vision for immigration. So, we’re not going to give up DACA. We’re not going to give up protections for anybody.”

Vice President Joe Biden and Castro had a moment of fierce disagreement on stage and it caused a discussion.

Castro went after Biden in what he heard to be a plan that would not allow for people to be automatically enrolled into the healthcare plan set forth by the former vice president. While it was not completely false, there was a nuance in the language that was omitted by Castro.

Biden’s plan does require people to opt into the healthcare system. However, while Biden’s plan does not rely on an automatic enrollment for healthcare recipients, it does enroll low-income families and communities. Biden does not support Medicare for All but says his plan would allow for Obamacare to include 97 percent of the population. Those omitted would be undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for federal subsidies and programs.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker used some of his time to reframe the discussion around race and racism in the country.

He openly called President Trump a racist and acknowledged the rise and threat of racism. Booker also called out Trump for supporting white supremacy by his unwillingness to call it out. Yet, more than that, he called out the systemic racism that is truly crippling communities of color.

“We have a criminal justice system that is so racially biased [that] we have more African-Americans under criminal supervision today than all the slaves in 1850,” Booker told the audience. “We have to come at this issue attacking systemic racism, having the courage to call it out, and having a plan to do something about it.”

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang did something never before seen at a presidential debate.

Yang is a candidate running on a platform that includes a universal basic income. The universal basic income would guarantee $1,000 a month for every citizen. In his opening statement, Yang decided to take his plan to the next level before even making it through the primary. Yang offered to start the universal basic income now with 10 American families. In order to be one of the families, Yang called on people to go to his website and tell him how the universal basic income could change their lives.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar also took on the gun debate and addressed a gridlock she is seeing in the Senate.

Klobuchar agreed that something needs to happen with guns and that eliminating assault rifles is a way to start. However, she framed the argument in a different way. Instead of placing the responsibility on the president or the future president, Klobuchar called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for stalling all the bills passed through the House of Representatives that would address the most supported gun reform measures, like universal background checks and a registry and licensing program for gun owners.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren also took aim at McConnell and his successful attempts to block popular gun reform legislation.

Nearly 90 percent of American agree with universal background checks before people are allowed to purchase guns. More than 80 percent of American agree with licensing and registries for gun owners. However, as Warren points out, the NRA lobby has successfully killed bills targeting these issues in the Senate.

Warren posed the question asking how it is possible that such popular legislation dies in the Senate. Her answer, “Corruption. Pure and simple.”

California Senator Kamala Harris directly addressed Trump for his use of hate and division to keep the country at a stalemate.

“President Trump. You spent the last two and a half years, full-time, trying to sow hate and division among us and that is why we’ve gotten nothing done,” Harris said. “You have used hate, intimidation, fear, and over 12,000 lives as a way to distract from your failed policies and your broken promises. The only reason you’ve not been indicted is because there was a memo in the department of justice that says a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.”

Harris then spoke on how the American people are better than him and his fearmongering. She spoke on how the American people and their values are stronger than Trump and his campaign against decency.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg used his final answer about a professional setback to talk about his journey coming out.

Buttigieg was a military officer serving during the time of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” when it was forbidden for openly LGBTQ+ to serve in the military. He then became a mayor of a town in Mike Pence’s conservative Indiana. Yet, at a certain point, Buttigieg had enough of living in the closet and decided it was time for him to be honest with himself and others.

“At a certain point, when it came to professional setbacks, I had to wonder if just acknowledging who I was was going to be the ultimate career-ending professional setback,” Buttigieg said. “I came back from the deployment and realized that you only get to live one life and I was not interested in not knowing what it was like to be in love any longer. So, I just came out. I had no idea what kind of professional setback it would be, especially because, inconveniently, it was an election year in my socially conservative community. What happened was that when I trusted voters to judge me based on the job that I did for them, they decided to trust me and reelected me with 80 percent of the vote.”

What was your favorite moment from the third Democratic Presidential Debate?

READ: Julián Castro Is Rolling Out A $10 Trillion Plan To Fight Climate Change

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

Things That Matter

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

Bryan Bedder / Ethan Miller / GETTY IMAGES

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

‘Saturday Night Live’ Excludes Julián Castro From Sketch And His Twin Brother Said He Could Have Played The Part

Entertainment

‘Saturday Night Live’ Excludes Julián Castro From Sketch And His Twin Brother Said He Could Have Played The Part

@natimontelongo / Twitter / Saturday Night Live / NBC

“Saturday Night Live” doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to people of color, specifically Latinos. In the show’s iconic history, which spans 44 years, the cast has mostly been white and male. In 2016, they finally hired a Latina to join the cast, which was a year after “SNL” decided to have Donald Trump host the show when he was running for president and calling Mexicans “rapists and criminals.” Latinos boycotted the show and they did receive backlash for allowing him to host. Yet, still “SNL” has yet to learn the importance of Latino representation and inclusion. 

On the season 45 premiere, “SNL” did a sketch that featured the Democratic presidential candidates but did not include Julián Castro and did include Marianne Williamson, who’s not in the running anymore. 

So why didn’t the have someone impersonating Castro? We know they don’t have any Latino comics on the show, however, they could have had their sole Latina comic Melissa Villaseñor put on a wig. She has played a man before. The sketch did include special guest stars including Maya Rudolf (who played Kamala Harris), and Larry David (who played Bernie Sanders). Could they have not asked former Latino “SNL” comics Fred Armisen or Horatio Sanz to play Castro?

“Interesting that @nbcsnl decided to cut one candidate out of this sketch. Could you not find a Latino actor to play @JulianCastro?” Sawyer Hackett, national press secretary for Castro’s campaign, tweeted. 

People on social media were livid at the exclusion of Castro and once again their dismissive attitude toward Latinos. 

Credit: @natimontelongo / Twitter

Was it too difficult for “SNL” to add one more actor to the stage, especially one that is still in the running — unlike Williamson? Lin-Manuel Miranda and his dad said they would have both stepped up to the plate to play the role of Castro. 

It’s as if “SNL” continues to make the wound even deeper by excluding the only Latino candidate. 

Credit: @latinovictoryus / Twitter

“SNL” knows very well that representation matters, so there’s no excuse for this exclusion. Are they doing this on purpose?

Maybe they think Castro’s persona isn’t funny enough to include in a parody?

Credit: @MrMikeBlake / Twitter

If “SNL” has talented writers they could have surely written something hilarious for an actor portraying Castro. We already have staggering facts that show film and TV excludes Latinos in overwhelming statistics, so you would think “SNL” (and all programming for that matter) would want to rectify that. Maybe they just don’t care?

“SNL” has a long history of dissing Latinos, so this just makes it worse.

Credit: @JuanSaaa / Twitter

Latino viewers and talent have been asking for more representation for several seasons now. There was celebration from fans when Melissa Villseñor was brought on in 2016.

Many people see their omission of Castro as the show disregarding Latinos.

Credit: @cristela9 / Twitter

This overt move by “SNL” actually made the skit not very funny but cringeworthy. The erasure of the only Latino running for the presidency was glaring.

You know “SNL” messed up bad when Latina moms get involved. 

Credit: @anabpez9 / Twitter

If you make Latina moms mad, asking for their forgiveness won’t be easy to do. Trust us. We have all been there. However, when you really try to make things up to them, they will accept it.

Since “SNL” screwed up the premiere, will they correct their huge mistake by the next episode?

Credit: @XorjeO / Twitter

There’s another debate coming up very soon, and if “SNL” is going to stay relevant in the political comedy stage they better include Castro or they will risk not only alienating a core audience but also looking like they can’t handle diverse comedy.

And, if “SNL” can’t find anyone to play Castro, there’s one person that will be happy to do it. 

Credit: @Castro4Congress / Twitter

Julian’s twin brother, Joaquin Castro — who’s pretty busy right now working on Capitol Hill himself — said he could step in and portray him on the show. We think he’d do a fabulous job because he clearly knows him best right?

Either way, “SNL” needs to get their act together. There’s no reason to exclude a strong candidate for president only to be replaced by a white woman who isn’t running for president anymore. It’s an obvious omission that “SNL” needs to stop. 

READ: New Latina “SNL” Cast Member Called Out Over Controversial Tweets