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2012 Olympics: Who Are The LGBT Athletes? Day Nine – Pia Sundhage

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This is the ninth in a series of articles profiling known out and proud Olympic athletes who are openly LGBT. The New Civil Rights Movement will publish one article each day as we move into the London 2012 Olympics.


June 30, after the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) defeated Canada 2-1 in a 2012 Olympic Send-Off Match in Sandy, Utah, Pia Sundhage said, “We are ready… I only have good things to say about the team. We are full of confidence and we’ll have fun at the Olympics.”

In June, 2010, it was the same confidence that led then 49-year-old Pia Sundhage, the Swedish head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, to come out as gay on Swedish TV. After singing Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin,” Sundhage said, “There has been no problem for me to be openly gay as head coach in the U.S.” During her interview with TV host Lasse Bengtsson, she also disclosed that she has a girlfriend named Mari.

Well, times sure have changed since Sundhage began kicking the ball around. “I started when I was five or six and had to play with boys because there were no girls’ or women’s teams. But I was always one of the first to be picked.”

Her playing skills earned her a place on the national squad when she was only 15. “It was in 1975 against England and we won 2-0 in Gothenburg. The national coach rang me up and I read a report in the paper too, which was obviously a very big thing for me at 15. But I wasn’t nervous because I had quite good technical skills, more so than some of the others, and that made me comfortable with the group.” She went on to become a national hero.

The confidence and talent that distinguished Sundhage’s playing is reflected in her coaching. After a distinguished career in her native Sweden, she became an assistant with the Philadelphia Charge in 2001. A year later she was named head coach of the Boston Breakers, only the second female coach in Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) history. Sundhage was named Coach of the Year in her first season.

After a short time as an assistant to the Chinese National Team In 2007, Sundhage became the first foreign head coach of our WNT. Under Sundage, the team won the 2008 Algarve Cup in Portugal as well as the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

And it is Sundhage’s determination and confidence in her players’ abilities that has helped make the USWNT, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA’s) top-ranked women’s soccer team with a great chance to win the Gold again in 2012.

Follow our series: “2012 Olympics: Who Are The LGBT Athletes?” as we profile all the out LGBT athletes playing in the London 2012 Olympic games.

 

Stuart Wilber. Photo by Mathew Ryan Williams

 

Stuart Wilber believes that living life openly as a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Allied person is the most powerful kind of activism. Shortly after meeting his partner in Chicago in 1977, he opened a gallery named In a Plain Brown Wrapper, where he exhibited cutting edge work by leading artists; art that dealt with sexuality and gender identification. In the late 1980’s when they moved to San Clemente, CA in Orange County, life as an openly gay couple became a political act. They moved to Seattle 16 years ago and married in Canada a few weeks after British Columbia legalized same-sex marriage. Although legally married in some countries, they are only considered domestic partners in Washington State. Equality continues to elude him.

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Republican Who Declared His State a ‘2nd Amendment Sanctuary’ Blocks Senate Bump Stock Ban

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In 2021, as the Republican Governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts signed a “largely symbolic” proclamation declaring The Cornhusker State a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” Now, calling the legislation a “show vote,” U.S. Senator Ricketts has blocked a Democratic bill that would have restored a ban on bump stocks, like the one used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Just four days ago, in a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a bump stock, that effectively turns an AR-15 into a machine gun, cannot be regulated under current law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. The device is so dramatically lethal pro-gun President Donald Trump banned it in 2018.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito made clear: if lawmakers want to ban bump stocks, they can, by passing a federal law:

“Congress can amend the law—and perhaps would have done so already if ATF had stuck with its earlier interpretation. Now that the situation is clear, Congress can act.”

On Tuesday, Senator Ricketts blocked a bipartisan bill banning bump stocks – what the Supreme Court suggested and what Donald Trump had done – which was sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

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Bump stocks increase the rate of fire from approximately 45-60 rounds per minute, to 400-800 rounds per minute.

Senator Ricketts called the vote on banning the lethal accessory that effectively increases the rate of fire by a factor of ten, “another day in the Democrat summer of show votes,” and called the legislation “a gun-grabbing overreach.”

“This bill will not pass,” Ricketts also said, as the Associated Press reported. “It won’t pass because enough people in this building still believe in the Constitution, and the Constitution affords Americans the right to own a firearm.”

Watch Ricketts’ remarks below or at this link.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Desperate Scramble to Stop Steve Bannon From Going to Prison

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On July 1, criminally-convicted former top Trump advisor Steve Bannon is expected to begin his four-month prison sentence for contempt of Congress after a federal appeals court in May rejected his last-ditch claim he was merely following advice of counsel by ignoring a lawful subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has a plan to make Bannon’s conviction and prison sentence disappear – and that of former top Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who is currently serving his four-month prison sentence.

“I fully support and am co-sponsoring @RepThomasMassie’s resolution to rescind the subpoenas for Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro by repudiating Nancy Pelosi’s illegitimate J6 committee,” Congresswoman Greene wrote on social media Tuesday.

“Nancy Pelosi violated House rules by refusing to accept McCarthy’s appointed Republicans on the committee. Now, our Republican-led House must nullify any actions taken by the illegitimate J6 committee,” Greene wrote, falsely.

Two federal courts have ruled the House January 6 Committee was legally constituted.

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“We must also hold the J6 Committee members accountable for the destruction of the committee’s records,” she clamored, also falsely.

The New Republic‘s Hafiz Rashid is mocking the Georgia GOP lawmaker: “MTG’s New Plot to Save Trump Allies From Jail May Be Her Stupidest Yet.”

“Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene seems to think you can just rewind time,” TNR writes. “Unfortunately for Greene and other House Republicans, rescinding the subpoenas doesn’t magically mean no crime was committed.”

Bannon, who served as Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign CEO, his Chief White House Strategist, and Senior Counselor to the President, before returning to the far-right wing website Breitbart, where he was a founding board member and later, executive chairman.

But now Bannon, a far-right provocateur, hosts the “War Room” podcast, which Media Matters last year called “the media home of Project 2025 and Trump’s retribution plans.” Last year he called for Rep. Greene to become Speaker of the House.

Project 2025 is The Heritage Foundation’s massive plan to remake the entire Executive Branch, fire thousands of civil servants, and turn the Dept. of Justice into an arm of the next Republican President.

“Bannon has continued his usual activities, such as telling a Turning Point Action convention audience Saturday who exactly will be on Donald Trump’s anticipated ‘retribution’ list and naming Justice Department officials,” TNR added. “But now, after escaping prison once thanks to a Trump pardon over a border wall fraud scheme, he will soon be behind bars, and not in a minimum-security prison camp as he wants, but in a low-security prison like Rikers since he still has an open criminal case against him.”

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Matt Gaetz Ethics Committee Sexual Misconduct and Drug Use Probe Expands

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The House Ethics Committee has expanded its ongoing investigation into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), releasing a rare statement revealing it is now investigating the Florida Republican congressman for allegations of sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, accepting improper gifts, dispensing special privileges and favors to individuals, and obstruction.

The statement detailed the direction of its probe while announcing it has issued dozens of subpoenas and spoken with numerous individuals. It also announced certain allegations will not continue to be investigated.

The bipartisan Committee adds that “at this time” it “will take no further action” on allegations Gaetz “may have shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe or improper gratuity.”

No reasons were given for expanding the probe nor for appearing to step back from pursuing certain  aspects.

Under Trump Attorney General Bill Barr, Gaetz, a top Trump follower, had been under federal investigation for alleged sex trafficking of a minor and alleged illicit drug use.

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“Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws,” The New York Times had reported in 2021, citing unnamed sources. “A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences.”

The House Ethics Committee had also opened an investigation in 2021, but on Tuesday noted it had paused that probe at the request of the Dept. of Justice, but “reauthorized” its investigation after DOJ withdrew its request.

“On April 9, 2021, the Committee announced it had initiated a review into allegations that Representative Matt Gaetz may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct,” the Ethics Committee said in Tuesday’s statement.

Punchbowl News co-founder John Bresnahan characterized the Committee’s statement as “very unusual,” and adds it “[s]ays Gaetz hasn’t cooperated with the investigation.”

Despite “difficulty in obtaining relevant information from Representative Gaetz and others,” the Ethics Committee revealed it “has spoken with more than a dozen witnesses, issued 25 subpoenas, and reviewed thousands of pages of documents in this matter.”

The Committee notes that Gaetz maintains his innocence. It often indicates an expected date for resolution, updates, or further announcements but did not on Tuesday.

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HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery called it “an unusual public statement.”

“Apparently aware the ethics committee would be making a statement about its investigation, Gaetz claimed on social media on Monday afternoon that he’s been the subject of four committee probes and all were closed,” HuffPost reported Tuesday.

On Monday Gaetz targeted former GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“’This is Soviet,’ Gaetz said of the latest ethics investigation,” HuffPost noted. “’Kevin McCarthy showed them the man, and they are now trying to find the crime.’ ”

In April, McCarthy declared he was no longer Speaker “because one person, a member of Congress, wanted me to stop an ethics complaint, because he slept with a 17-year old.”

While McCarthy did not name Gaetz, the Florida congressman has denied that allegation and never been charged for it.

Also on Tuesday Noah Bookbinder, president of the government watchdog Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), announced the organization is suing DOJ for “documents explaining why the Justice Dept. chose not to prosecute” Gaetz.

Watch McCarthy below or at this link.

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