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Meet GetEQUAL’s New Field Director Felipe Matos — Exclusive Interview



Felipe Matos on Monday became GetEQUAL‘s new Field Director. Matos, who says he is both queer and undocumented, is perhaps in a unique position to assess and act on the current needs of the LGBT community while being able to form important and powerful coalitions with other minority groups — something the LGBT community up until now has rarely been effective at doing.

GetEQUAL, now two years old, has a very specific mission: “to empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and our allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way.” Clearly they have followed it to the letter, and with surprisingly effective results.

Perhaps best-known for the multiple times they have handcuffed themselves to the White House fence — drawing needed attention and momentum that resulted in the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — GetEQUAL’s tactics of nonviolent civil actions have been praised, prosecuted, and impugned.

Matos “has a long record of pressuring both Democrats (see here) and Republicans (see here) for progress on Latino issues — and now he’s bringing that knowledge and history to the LGBT movement,” Heather Cronk, GetEQUAL’s Managing Director, tells The New Civil Rights Movement.

She excitedly adds that Matos will be “bringing his ridiculously successful organizing experience in the Latino community to the LGBT community. Felipe is a rockstar DREAMer who participated in the Trail of Dreams in 2010 to draw attention to the need for the DREAM Act, and has been organizing for the past few years with both Presente and United We DREAM.”

In an introduction, Matos himself notes:

I was brought to the USA by my older sister who was living here for 4 years then. My mother had developed a chronic back disease that prevented her from working. I had grown used to being oppressed by extreme poverty in my country of origin, Brazil, so the US was definitely a promising way to finally find freedom- I was wrong.

His bio also notes:

He has served in the Board of Directors of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, a core leader from Students Working for Equal Rights, he is part of the National Coordinating Committee of the national organization United WE DREAM and an online advocate for the national group

We asked Felipe Matos several questions about his plans as GetEQUAL’s new Field Director, and the challenges he will face both within and outside of the LGBT community.

GetEQUAL has been very successful in the short time since its inception. What do you see as your role, will you be altering the group’s direction, or will you just “stay the course”?
Get Equal has played a critical role in our movement’s recent victory- the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. However, Get Equal has also been an unsung hero in many other fronts. I got involved in 2010 with Get Equal when politicians in Washington, D.C. tried to create a divide between the LGBT movement and immigrant rights when both the repeal of DADT and the DREAM Act came up for a vote at the same time. Heather Cronk, Get Equal’s managing director, approached me and a few other DREAM Act students and we strategized on ways to keep our communities together by highligting stories of queer undocumented youth and we organized some local joined actions. Later, Get Equal brought together its local organizers to Memphis, Tennessee for a training, all of the trainers were United We DREAM organizers. These initiatives have been critical in creating solidarity between both movements and struggles. Both DREAMers and Get Equal organizers have a shared experience that will never be forgotten. This is how we build meaningful bridges between the different issue areas in the Progressive Movement.

I’m hoping to expand Get Equal’s capacity to go beyond the LGBT community but also its field power. Most national organization get stuck in the “DC mentality,” an island that allows politics to easily take over and “access” sometimes become more important than “progress.” Get Equal is different because we are actually led by people on the ground that face homophobia and homophobic laws on their daily lives. This is why I decided to stay in Florida, a place where we have a constitutional ban on marriage, SB1070 copycats are a constant threat, and we still have to fight to get justice for the murder of African American youth because of gun laws that allow for people to literally get away with murder. In my opinion, politics is truly done locally and a strong field is an integral part of our current plan to gain full federal equality. I wouldn’t call my plans “altering” the current course but rather expanding and exploring new opportunities for growth.

GetEQUAL’s success has not come without a price. There are those in the LGBT community who feel GetEQUAL’s “tactics” are more dramatic and disruptive that they are comfortable with. Some feel they don’t want groups like GetEQUAL or for that matter, HRC, to represent them. What would you tell them?
Not everyone agrees with our tactics or strategies, that’s OK. There is enough space in the spectrum of important roles everyone can play for progress in our community. We have chosen to create an unapologize way of organizing which it may not be popular but it’s definitely effective and it brings results to the community. We are more concerned with bringing equality to a young person in Iowa or a 80 year-old that waited his or her entire life for change than pleasing everyone. I also feel that everyone’s role is important and that’s why I would encourage anyone to reach out to us as we keep building a movement for full federal equality in this country.

Your background seems to be more focused on the DREAM Act and immigration. Do you feel you are changing direction personally, or are you at a point where you want to expand your responsibilities? Does your new GetEQUAL role mean you’re abandoning your DREAM Act activism?
I wouldn’t be able to ever leave the DREAM movement, as a matter of fact, I would feel like a traitor to an important part of who I am if I ever did so. My new role in Get Equal will allow me to embrace everything I am. I am an immigrant, undocumented, queer and a man of color. Get Equal’s philosophy allows for anyone involved to never have to choose which identity hat to wear, which part of their identity to highlight and which part to hide away. Instead, we are encouraged to embrace our full selves. I am grateful for Get Equal’s willingness to accept everything I am and allowing me to bring everything to the table. I am hoping that this new phase in my life as an organizer will expand the LGBT movement’s reach and keep a door open for Latinos and other communities of color to come in and also sit at decision making tables.

The LGBT community, especially recently, has benefited from other minority groups, like the NAACP, for example, showing support for our issues, yet LGBT groups have not been as active in speaking out for other causes, like immigration and the DREAM Act, or any of a number of other important social justice issues. Nor have we been especially successful at, or, apparently, interested in, building coalitions that support other causes. Do you feel you are in a unique position to change this? If so, will this be a focus for you?
I agree that several sectors of the LGBT movement has been “shy” to meaningfully engage on other social justice causes. Unfortunately, this has been a recurring problem in our movement. What we need to understand as a community is that there is LGBT people in every disenfranchised community. These individuals have to deal with homophobia and other structural oppressive system such as xenophobia, racism, transphobia, misogyny, to name a few. So immigrant rights, reproductive justice, health care reform, labor issues are LGBT issues because several individuals in our community are directly affected by these policies or issues. This is why I’m a firm believer that it is in the best interest of the LGBT movement to build coalition with groups working on other issues that have not been traditionally seen as our community’s issue.

In 2010, I had the honor of walking in the Trail of DREAMs, a walk from Miami to Washington, DC. to highlight the plight of undocumented students, with my partner Juan and our peers Carlos and Gaby. During our journey we met hundreds of people who live under several oppressive systems and whom were actively fighting against them. They have been an inspiration for my work in intersectionality and this will definitely be a focus for me in Get Equal.

Jorge Gutierrez, a personal mentor and a great friend, wisely told me, “Felipe we are natural bridges.” People who have multiple identities are clear ambassadors to multiple communities. I hope to bring other people from diverse communities to leadership position so we can expand Get Equal’s contribution in changing the current dynamic between the LGBT movement and other organizations fighting for other issues.

You have worked with faith-based groups in the past, especially on immigration. Do you plan to try to reach out to them, and do you think your past association with them will make that easier?
My personal interactions with faith groups have been very challenging and yet very rewarding. Faith groups have a strong base of people who many times care about equality and social justice causes. It’s important for us to create a strong coalition for equality and reaching out to them should be part of our strategy for change. Faith groups should be an integral part in increasing our political power as a movement and that’s why I will reach out to them.

What can the average person who supports LGBT rights and equality do that they may not be doing now to help us all “get equal”?
Martin Luther King, Jr once said, “In the end we will remember not the word of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” So they should join us, organize with us, vote for people who care about our issues but most importantly never stand silent even when it’s hard to do the right thing. If they want to get involved with Get Equal they can go to

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‘Unlawful Incursion’: Manhattan DA Schools Jim Jordan for Demanding He Testify in Ongoing Trump Investigation



Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg served up an extensive lesson in American jurisprudence Thursday in his response to House Republican Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan’s letter demanding he provide communications and testify before Congress on his ongoing investigation into Donald Trump’s hush money payoff to Stormy Daniels.

Jordan’s demand was seen by legal experts as a “purely political attack.” They note Jordan has no constitutional oversight authority over a duly-elected county district attorney.

Bragg is respectfully refusing Jordan’s demands.

Thorough his office’s General Counsel, Bragg sent Jordan a five-page letter (below) filled with numerous citations of federal and state law and legal decisions up to and including from the U.S. Supreme Court, that offer the Judiciary Chairman instruction in the law and that support the District Attorney’s refusal.

READ MORE: ‘Going Full Fascist’: Morning Joe Blasts Trump’s Latest ‘Dehumanizing’ Attack on Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg

In Bragg’s response, he calls Jordan’s letter “an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution,” and notes it “only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day, and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene.” He tells Jordan, “if charges are brought … it will be because the rule of law and faithful execution of the District Attorney’s duty require it.”

Jordan, who refused to comply with a lawful subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, had claimed his demand for documents and testimony was in furtherance of a legislative purpose, an effort to examine federal law. Bragg refuted that claim: “Congress cannot have any legitimate legislative task relating to the oversight of local prosecutors enforcing state law.”

“In New York, the District Attorney is a constitutional officer charged with ‘the responsibility to conduct all prosecutions for crimes and offenses cognizable by the courts of the county in which he serves,'” Bragg’s letter continues, offering an education into the concept of federalism and the U.S. Constitution. “These are quintessential police powers belonging to the State, and your letter treads into territory very clearly reserved to the states.”

In a section titled, “Compliance with the Letter Would Interfere with Law Enforcement,” the Manhattan DA’s response says Jordan’s letter “seeks non-public information about a pending criminal investigation, which is confidential under state law.” It adds that “prosecutor’s disclosure of grand jury evidence is a felony.”

Continuing to explain the law to the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Bragg’s letter adds:

“These confidentiality provisions exist to protect the interests of the various participants in the criminal process–the defendant, the witnesses, and members of the grand jury- as well as the integrity of the grand jury proceeding itself. Like the Department of Justice, as a prosecutor exercising sovereign executive powers, the District Attorney has a constitutional obligation to ‘protect the government’s ability to prosecute fully and fairly,’ to ‘independently and impartially uphold the rule of law,’ to ‘protect witnesses and law enforcement,’ to ‘avoid flight by those implicated in our investigations,’ and to ‘prevent additional crimes.'”

READ MORE: Trump Lawyer’s ‘Critical Evidence’ Will Help DOJ Make Decision to Charge ‘Without Significant Delay’: Former Prosecutor

It continues, warning Jordan’s “requests are an unlawful incursion into New York’s sovereignty. Congress’s investigative jurisdiction is derived from and limited by its power to legislate concerning federal matters.”

Bragg twice offers to meet with staffers from Jordan’s Judiciary Committee to see if the Chairman’s requests “could be accommodated without impeding those sovereign interests.”

Read the letter posted by Axios’ Andrew Solender below or at this link.



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‘Going Full Fascist’: Morning Joe Blasts Trump’s Latest ‘Dehumanizing’ Attack on Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg



Days after he wrongly claimed he would be arrested and urged his supporters to “protest,” Donald Trump unleashed a vicious and antisemitic attack against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and philanthropist and donor George Soros, leading “Morning Joe” Scarborough on MSNBC to declare the ex-president has gone “full fascist” and even “full Nazi.”

“I mean he’s just going full Nazi here, full fascist,” Scarborough said Thursday morning, just minutes after Trump’s remarks posted on social media.

“You’re doing the whole Jewish international banker thing and and dehumanizing him as an ‘animal,’ calling him an ‘animal,'” Scarborough said.

“That’s ugly,” Mika Brzezinski added.

“And that’s like like straight out of the playbook. Yeah, that’s really that’s really ugly. Yeah, it’s really interesting to see exactly what’s happened with Bragg. He hasn’t taken the bait.”

READ MORE: Trump Lawyer’s ‘Critical Evidence’ Will Help DOJ Make Decision to Charge ‘Without Significant Delay’: Former Prosecutor

Thursday morning, in an all-caps rant, Trump called District Attorney Bragg a “Soros backed animal who just doesn’t care about right or wrong no matter how many people are hurt.”

Scarborough was not being hyperbolic when he said Trump had gone “full Nazi.”

“This is no legal system, this is the Gestapo, this is Russia and China, but worse. Disgraceful!”

The Gestapo were Adolf Hitler’s Nazi secret police.

In a separate post Thursday morning, after his attack on Bragg, Trump again appeared to telegraph a call for violence, writing: “Everybody knows I’m 100% innocent, including Bragg, but he doesn’t care. He is just carrying out the plans of the radical left lunatics. Our country is being destroyed, as they tell us to be peaceful!”

It is possible the grand jury, which is meeting Thursday, could vote on an indictment of Trump. Some say any potential vote would not come before next week.

READ MORE: ‘National Security Implications’: Former DOJ Official Speculates on Ruling Ordering Trump Attorney to Hand Over Docs

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‘Burn It to the Ground’: Kari Lake Undeterred After State Supreme Court Smacks Her Down



Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake suffered a devastating blow after the state Supreme Court refused to take up her case challenging the results of her election last November, reported Newsweek on Thursday.

“Speaking at a rally organized by Turning Point Action, Charlie Kirk’s right-wing organization, Lake said: ‘They have built a house of cards in Maricopa County. I’m not just going to knock it over. I’m going to burn it to the ground,'” reported Giulia Carbonaro. “Lake shared a video of her speech, with a caption quoting her comments and a fire emoji.”

Lake is one of the only major statewide Republican candidates last year in a hotly contested race who has refused to concede her loss. She has alleged that her voters were illegally suppressed because of technical glitches with ballot tabulators in certain precincts of Maricopa County, the state’s largest population center, on Election Day.

In reality, there is no evidence of foul play, and Maricopa County election officials provided a backup method for affected ballots to be counted. Furthermore, one reason the glitch may have disproportionately affected Lake’s voters is Trump counseled voters not to mail in their ballots early, based on conspiracy theories — though Lake herself had done the opposite and asked her supporters to vote by mail.

READ MORE: Former Trump official: ‘Folks on both sides of the aisle want to see him arrested’

“Her challenge was thrown out by both Maricopa County Judge Peter Thompson and the Arizona Court of Appeals, which said Lake’s case lacked evidence that the hiccups in the county were intentionally caused by election officials to disenfranchise Lake’s supporters,” said the report. “Lake brought her case to the Arizona Supreme Court, which has declined to hear her case, but did send one of her claims back to a county judge for review. A superior court judge in Maricopa County is now reviewing Lake’s claim that the county did not follow signature verification procedures.”

On top of her litigation failures, Lake was referred to the Secretary of State’s office for investigation after she tweeted out images of what appeared to be real voter ballot signatures, which would be a violation of Arizona state law.


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