Gay presidential hopeful wants to abolish the death penalty

Pete Buttigieg

The first openly-LGBTI candidate in the 2020 presidential race, Pete Buttigieg, has called for the US to abolish the death penalty.

He said capital punishment in America has ‘always been a discriminatory practice’.

‘We would be a fairer and safer country when we join the ranks of modern nations who have abolished the death penalty’ he said at the 2019 National Action Network Convention in New York.

The mayor of South Bend also pledged to work towards ending solitary confinement.

He labeled it a ‘form of torture’.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez this week also called solitary confinement torture. She called for the release of transgender whistleblower and activist Chelsea Manning.

Several other 2020 candidates, including Kamala Harris, have called for the end of the death penalty in the US.

According to the NAACP, the death penalty disproportionately affects people of color.

Presidential race

Buttigieg officially entered the presidential race last month.

He is the only LGBTI Democratic candidate running so far and will be the first openly gay presidential candidate to participate in the DNC Primary debates.

Earlier this week, he told CNN viewers how he met his husband on Hinge. He also said the US needed to show ‘moral authority’ on LGBTI and other human rights issues.

Buttigieg is already impressing the American public.

A Rhodes scholar and veteran of the war in Afghanistan, the Mayor of South Bend can also speak eight languages.

His primary work as mayor has focused on redevelopment. At 37, he is the youngest presidential candidate in the race.

A poll of Democratic candidates in the state of Iowa last month placed Buttigieg third.

He earned double digits and surpassed more nationally known contenders like Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.

Author: Rik Glauert

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Texas Senate passes ‘cruel and discriminatory’ anti-LGBTI bill

The Texas Senate in Austin

The Texas State Senate on Tuesday (2 April) gave preliminary approval to a sweeping ‘religious exemptions’ bill. It would allow professionals to cite religious beliefs when refusing services.

LGBTI rights groups have labeled it a ‘license to discriminate’.

‘This bill would allow state-sanctioned discrimination against many Texans, but would particularly impact the LGBTQ community’ explained Rebecca Marques, Human Rights Center (HRC) Texas state director.

Marques said it was ‘a dark moment for Texas’.

The Senate Bill 17 passed on a 19–12 initial vote. It requires one more vote in the Senate before it can be sent to the Texas House for debate.

It allows occupational license holders to use ‘sincerely held religious belief’ as a reason for taking discriminatory action.

The licensing agency that oversees the occupation would have no place to address that discrimination.

License holders cover a large number of professions from barbers to doctors.

Local LGBTI advocacy group Equality Texas warned that the ‘sweeping bill that would empower and protect discriminatory behavior across hundreds of professional activities’.

They said it would ‘open the doors to discrimination and to real harm to LGBTQ Texans’.

The bill does not protect police officers, first responders or doctors who refuse to provide life-saving care.

But, health professionals could deny non-life saving treatment.

Last week, leaders from big companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google came out in force against the bill, according to the Texas Tribune.

Democrats also recently re-introduced  a nationwide Equality Act to Congress.

It extends civil rights protections to LGBTI people across the United States and makes them consistent.

Author: Rik Glauert

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DeVos dodges when asked to condemn LGBT discrimination in schools

Betsy DeVos answers questions in the House (Photo: Twitter)

US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to directly answer a question about whether she opposed LGBT discrimination in schools at a House hearing on Tuesday (26 March).

Representative Mark Pocan asked notoriously anti-LGBTI DeVos: ‘Do you think it’s all right for a school to discriminate based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity?’

‘We have laws that cover … discriminatory efforts and our office for civil rights has continued to be very diligent in investigating any allegation of discrimination and will continue to do so’ DeVos replied.

When pushed for a ‘yes or no answer’ by Pocan, DeVos finally said ‘we follow the law’.

DeVos has long come under fire for the education department’s anti-LGBTI policies.

In early 2017,  her department rescinded federal guidelines designed to protect transgender students.

What’s more, the Human Rights Campaign last year found only 26% of LGBTQ students felt safe in classrooms.

Tuesday was not the first time DeVos was put on the spot over LGBTI rights.

At a Senate hearing in 2017, DeVos also tried to dodge questions from Senator Jeff Merkley.

He asked whether schools that receive funding from the federal government would be punished if they allowed discrimination against LGBT students to occur.

‘Schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law,’ DeVos said.

DeVos’ family also has a long-standing history of supporting anti-LGBTI causes.

Through family foundations, they funded anti-LGBTI campaigns and organizations.

The benefactors include Focus On the Family. The organization’s website states ‘homosexual strugglers can and do change their sexual behavior and identity’.

They received a $10 million (€9.34 million, £7.98 million) donation from the DeVos family.

Author: Rik Glauert

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