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Op-Ed: How I’m Feeling on the Day After Orlando

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Not very well at all.

Sunday, June 12th, 2016 marks the largest LGBT hate crime in American history. This tragedy will be remembered as one of the most brutal and terrifying incidents of mass violence our country has ever confronted. Several issues have been raised in response to the attack. Gun control. Terrorism. Global attitudes to the LGBT community. Homeland security. Public safety. Hate. These are important conversations, and should be conducted with open hearts, a clarity of purpose, and a common dedication toward urgent resolution.

I keep saying those things to myself, because I cannot connect to them yet. I’m sure that in time I will. Right now, on the day after, it’s the little details that haunt me. I think of the investigators processing the scene at Pulse, trying to tune out a cacophony of cell phones ringing with calls from loved ones hoping for a confirmation of safety that will never come. Text messages between the soon to perish and their terrified families. People hiding under piles of bodies in hopes they could evade their own butchering. The smell of gunfire. Slipping in pools of blood while fleeing from unclear danger. Families, so many families, hoping for word that their loved ones had possibly survived this nightmare, and the crushing weight of learning that their hope was in vain. Screaming. Chaos. Horror. I keep visiting these things over and over. I’m not ready for the big conversations yet. I’m still stuck on the event itself.

It was closing time at Pulse. I’ve closed out a few gay bars in my life, and I’m usually drunk, tired, and ready to go home. I imagine it was much the same at Pulse that night. You’ve had a full evening. The energy is high. Maybe you’ve met new friends, or had a good time with old ones. Maybe you’re planning for where you’ll get a post-club sandwich or trying to figure out which late night diner might be open. The weight of the real world is 10,000 miles away. Then you hear a noise. The atmosphere in the room shifts. You notice people dropping. Then the entire world changes. For some of you, it will be the very last change.

As a gay man, this hits very close to home. Most of us have been in a place like Pulse at one time or another. Nightclubs, bars, cabarets, and other safe spaces where members of the LGBT community congregate are supposed to be just that. Safe. When I first came out, unsure of my footing, at a later age than most, it was a club in Davenport, Iowa called Fusion that made me feel welcome. As I grew into some measure of confidence, it was places like Fusion, like Pulse, like countless other similar establishments across the country, in which I could feel comfortable being myself. I knew my community would be there. I like to think about them, in all the bars, in all the towns. A legion of LGBT people getting to know each other, finding community, feeling free to be who they are. A place where you don’t have to ask yourself the question, “Is it okay to be gay here?”

But we are never as safe as we think. Members of the LGBT community have always been targets for violence, as this tragedy demonstrates. We will fight, we will love, and we will win. I’m confident of that. The LGBT community has tremendous strength, and we will require every ounce of it in the weeks and months ahead.

Still, I’m filled with a profound sense of loss. The struggle has more casualties than it should. I think about Kimberly Morris. She was a 37 year old bouncer at Pulse. Her only crime was punching a time clock. I think about Jason Benjamin Josaphat. Jason was just nineteen years old. Nineteen. You’ve barely begun to live your life at nineteen years old. He liked photography and studied computer science. I wonder what he would have become? Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon and his partner Jean Carlos Mendez Perez went to Pulse together that night. They died together. Leroy Valentin Fernandez. Angel L. Candelario-Padro. Amanda Alvear. The list goes on, and on, and on. The pain their families and friends are going through must be incomprehensible. My god, the size and depth of that pain. I didn’t know any of these people personally, but each of their stories hits me like an arrow to the heart.

Today I will leave the punditry to other, more organized minds. I don’t want to think about the political ramifications for the campaigns, or the need for comprehensive gun control, or anything other than these beautiful people that we’ve lost. That ground will be well tended without me. I don’t want to hear about the madman behind this tragedy. At the moment, I don’t particularly care why he did what he did, or what particular brand of monster he’ll ultimately prove to be. I’ll eventually care deeply about each of these issues, but today I don’t. Today I grieve for the families. I grieve for the fallen. I grieve for each safe space that now feels a little less safe. I grieve for my community, who has lost so much over the years, despite all we’ve gained. We must remember these people, their faces, and their stories. We will make our places safe again. We will find ways to bear such unbearable tragedy. But we shouldn’t have to. We really shouldn’t have to.

 

Photo: Toronto Vigil for Orlando Shooting
Image by Lws & Clrk via Flickr and a CC license

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WHY DOES TUCKER CARLSON HATE AMERICAN FAMILIES?

Pete Buttigieg Brilliantly Destroys Tucker Carlson After Fox Host’s Homophobic Hit Job

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U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg responded to Fox News host Tucker Carlson‘s vile, homophobic attack from Thursday night, by defending the right of every new parent to take paternity or maternity leave and spend time building bonds that will last a lifetime.

Buttigieg, known for being able to incisively carve up conservative hate, had no problem correcting Carlson’s claims.

Carlson, who regularly spreads white nationalistic, white supremacist, and fascistic rhetoric that clearly is supported by Fox News chiefs Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch, on Thursday berated Buttigieg for taking paternity leave as he and his husband, Chasten welcome two newborn twins into their family.

“Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child,” Carlson had told Fox news viewers. “Paternity leave, they call it, trying to figure out how to breastfeed – no word on how that went.”

Buttigieg struck back on Friday, telling MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace Carlson’s “attack is coming from a guy who has yet to explain his apparent approval for the assassination of Harvey Milk.”

Related: Tucker Carlson and Naomi Wolf Blasted for Claiming No One ‘Moralized’ Against HIV/AIDS Patients in the ’80s

Carlson, in his college yearbook, reportedly wrote that he was a member of the “Dan White Society.” There is no Dan White Society, but Dan White is the man who assassinated Harvey Milk, one of America’s first openly-gay elected officials. At the same time, in 1978, he also assassinated San Francisco Mayor George Moscone.

“So, you know, obviously we know that there’s some dark places where some of these attitudes come from,” Buttigieg continued.

“But I also note that that doesn’t speak for the country,” he said of Carlson’s homophobic and anti-family remark.

“I don’t think that even speaks for most people, on the other side of the aisle from the party that I belong to. This is largely a consensus issue, not just the support for families like mine to have a right to marry and right to be treated equally, but also that families in general. Moms and dads have to be able to support their children including with paid leave.”

Buttigieg, as NCRM reported Thursday night, is correct: 86% of Americans support paid paternity leave. And seven out of 10 Americans support same-sex marriage.  Sadly, U.S. federal law does not require companies to offer it, but as Wallace noted, Tucker Carlson’s employer does.

Watch:

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘We Warned You’: Jenna Ellis Destroyed by Legal Expert for Comparing Herself and Giuliani to Atticus Finch

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Former Trump personal and campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis is getting blowback from at least one top legal expert after she falsely compared herself and her colleague, Rudy Giuliani, to fictional hero attorney Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and to founding father John Adams.

“No, you are not John Adams. You are not Atticus Finch. Competent lawyers warned you to stay away from the election lawsuits,” said top national security attorney Bradley Moss. “We warned you loyalty to a conspiratorial client [doesn’t] override ethical obligations to the court. It’s on you.”

Ellis, in video posted by Right Wing Watch (below), claimed that she and Giuliani were merely “advocating” for “politically inconvenient candidates” like Trump, which is provably false.

Giuliani, according to numerous news reports, wasn’t defending Trump so much as he was traveling the world trying to dig up dirt on Joe Biden to help Trump win re-election. When that didn’t work Giuliani (and Ellis) promoted false election “fraud” narratives, which is not advocacy for a client.

“It used to be that if you represented the politically inconvenient candidates or the, the politically inconvenient, people I mean look at ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ you know, it was like you were you were lauded as a defense attorney, like John Adams, you know, who represented people who deserve a defense,” Ellis said.

“This has such an impact on the future of America,” Ellis continued, “because if we tell lawyers that in order to advocate for a client, that means that necessarily you have to subscribe to their position, you will be you will be liable for your bar license essentially based on not only the merit of their case but the outcome, then we won’t have advocates anymore in the United States.”

Again, that is not a reality-based response to what she and Giuliani were doing.

Moss, meanwhile, was far from the only attorney criticizing Ellis.

Former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), Richard Signorelli, commented, “Jenna is lucky she wasn’t given any actual lawyerly responsibilities.”

Atlanta appellate attorney Andrew Fleischman weighed in, saying, “It’s good for people to get due process before being convicted of things. It’s bad to file dozens of frivolous, dishonest lawsuits. That’s the distinction.”

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Trump’s MAGA Supporters Chant Profanities Within ‘Clear’ Earshot of Young Kids Biden Was Talking to Outdoors

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Trump’s MAGA supporters were out in full force Friday afternoon, chanting “F**k Biden,” waving flags with the same slogan, along with ones that falsely claim “Trump won,” as President Joe Biden spoke with young children outside a Connecticut child development center.

“Around 50 more Trump supporters,” according to the White House press pool, “gathered a street away from the center. They chanted ‘F*** Joe Biden. He’s not our president.’ They also shouted ‘traitors’ as a coda while we walked inside.”

Minutes later the press pool reported President Biden “entered the playground at 1:25, greeted by some gregarious children. One gave him a hug, as he kneeled to talk. Another, wearing an American flag t-shirt, pointed out parts of the playground.”

But then, confirmation that the Trump supporters’ profanity could be heard by the young children and the President.

“From the playground the pool could still hear protesters chanting from the curb outside. More expletives. More yelling,” the pool reports.

NBC News White House Correspondent Mike Memoli also confirms:

President Biden later made televised remarks promoting his “Build Back Better” agenda, and talking about how improvements to infrastructure will help young children.

 

 

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