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Remembering the LGBT Heroes, Victims of 9/11

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FDNY Chaplain Mychal Judge, Flight 93 Passenger Mark Bingham Made Ultimate Sacrifice 15 Years Ago Today

On the 15th anniversary of the terror attack of Sept. 11, 2001, the nation pauses again to remember all who lost their lives in the assaults on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and in the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Among the most celebrated heroes of 9/11 are two gay men, Father Mychal Judge and Mark Bingham.

Judge (pictured), a Franciscan friar and a Roman Catholic priest who served as chaplain to the Fire Department of New York City, rushed with some off-duty firefighters to the North Tower of the World Trade Center, which had just been hit by the first hijacked plane, American Flight 11.

Soon after, Judge became the first recorded fatality of the attack. (He was not the first person to die in the attack — that distinction probably belongs to flight attendants on American Flight 11 — but his was the first officially recorded death.) He was struck by falling debris in the tower while administering the last rites to another victim.

Judge, a gay man who ministered to AIDS sufferers and served as chaplain to Dignity, an organization of gay Roman Catholics, exemplified a Catholic ideal of service. As biographer Michael Ford has noted, Judge’s “ministry … helped many gay people, alienated from the church, reconnect with their faith. Father Mychal was a living symbol of the church as it ought to be.”

Even before his death, many considered Judge a saint because of his compassion and service to others, especially his embrace of the homeless and those suffering from AIDS, as well as the deep spirituality he exhibited.

His former teacher and spiritual advisor, John J. McNeill, a Jesuit who pioneered the development of “queer theology” before being expelled from the order, told Judge’s biographer that he achieved an “extraordinary degree of union with the divine. We knew we were dealing with someone directly in line with God.”

Judge is the subject of a documentary film, Saint of 9/11 (2006, directed by Glenn Holsten). Narrated by Sir Ian McKellen, it is a touching portrait of Father Judge, capturing the man not only in his enormous sense of duty and service to others but also in his gifts as a witty storyteller with an irrepressible sense of humor and an abiding belief in hope.

In June 2002, Congress passed the Mychal Judge Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush over the objections of Attorney General John Ashcroft. The legislation authorized the payment of federal death benefits to anyone named as a beneficiary on the insurance policy of a firefighter or police officer who died in the line of duty. Previously, only spouses, parents, and children had been eligible. The passage of the Mychal Judge Act meant that, for the first time, gay and lesbian partners could receive a federal benefit.

Mark Bingham, an openly gay businessman who owned a public relations firm and was an avid rugby player, was the last passenger to board United Flight 93 in Newark, New Jersey. Soon after the doomed flight began its journey to San Francisco, it was hijacked by terrorists who redirected toward Washington, D. C., where they apparently planned to crash it into either the Capitol or White House.

Flight 93 passengers learned from cell phone conversations that the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had already been attacked. Bingham and three other athletic young men sitting in the rear of the plane — Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick — are believed to have stormed the cockpit and forced the plane to crash into an empty field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

Although all passengers on the plane were killed, the actions of Bingham, Beamer, Burnett and Glick undoubtedly saved the lives of many more.

The heroism of the brave passengers of Flight 93 has been celebrated in a number of films and television reenactments, including Paul Greenglass’s feature film United 93 (2006) and Peter Markle’s TV film Flight 93 (2006), as well as a memorial at the crash site.

Bingham has been memorialized in a number of ways, including the establishment of the Mark Bingham Leadership Fund at the University of California at Berkeley and the naming of a San Francisco gym in his honor. Along with the other passengers on Flight 93, Bingham was also posthumously presented the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2002.

Most fittingly, given his passion for rugby — as an undergraduate at Berkeley, he played on two national championship teams, and later for the San Francisco Fog, a predominantly gay team — the International Gay Rugby Association has named its biennial tournament the Bingham Cup.

Bingham’s heroism on 9/11 came as no surprise to his former partner, Paul Holm, who told Jon Barrett in The Advocate‘s Sept. 11, 2002 feature on Bingham as “Person of the Year,“ that, in addition to the physical courage he showed on the rugby field, Bingham had also foiled mugging and robbery attempts, including one at gunpoint. Many others also attested to the 6-foot, 5-inch, 220-pound Bingham’s protectiveness and love of action. (Barrett’s feature story was expanded into a book entitled Hero of Flight 93: Mark Bingham. A Man Who Fought Back on September 11 [2002]).

Bingham’s mother, Alice Hoagland, a former United Airlines flight attendant, has been an unfailing supporter of LGBT rights and a fierce protector of her beloved son’s memory.

Melissa Etheridge’s “Tuesday Morning” is a tribute to Bingham that specifically contrasts his heroism with the denial of equal rights that he experienced as a gay man.

Bingham is the subject of a documentary by Scott Gracheff, The Rugby Player (2013). Below is a trailer for the film, which was formerly titled With You.

Among other LGBT victims of the terrorist attack are the following: Carol Flyzik, passenger on Flight 11; David Charlebois, co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon; Graham Berkeley, passenger on United Flight 175, the second hijacked plane that crashed into the World Trade Center; Ronald Gamboa and Dan Broadhorst, a gay couple who were traveling with their adopted son, David, on Flight 175; James Joe Ferguson, a passenger on Flight 77; Jeffrey Collman, a flight attendant on Flight 11; and Waleska Martinez, a passenger on Flight 93.

The following LGBT victims of 9/11 worked at or near the World Trade Center: Pamela J. Boyce, John Keohane, Eddie Ognibene, Eugene Clark, Wesley Mercer, Luke A. Dudek, Michael Lepore, William Anthony Karnes, Seamus O’Neal, Catherine Smith, Patricia McAneny and Renee Barrett.

Sheila Hein worked at the Pentagon. When Virginia’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund administrators refused to recognize Hein’s partner Peggy Neff as anything more than a “friend,” she sued. In January 2003, the federal government’s 9-11 Compensation Fund recognized Neff as Hein’s partner and approved compensation for her.

It is believed that several of the firefighters, police officers and rescue personnel who perished on 9/11 were also members of the LGBT community, but have not been identified as such. More information about the LGBT heroes and victims may be found here

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Trump’s Fundraising Off Mar-a-Lago Raid Hit $1 Million a Day – and It’s Still Higher Than Usual

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When Donald Trump announced that the FBI was raiding Mar-a-Lago his fundraising operation went into high gear, and produced tremendous results: up to $1 million a day, and still trending higher than usual more than a week after federal agents removed 20 cartons including at least 11 sets of classified materials.

“Contributions to Trump’s political action committee topped $1 million on at least two days after the Aug. 8 search of his Palm Beach, Fla., estate, according to two people familiar with the figures,” The Washington Post reports, calling it a “cash bonanza.”

“The daily hauls jumped from a level of $200,000 to $300,000 that had been typical in recent months, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss nonpublic information,” The Post adds, noting more than 100 fundraising emails have been sent. “The donations stayed unusually high for several more days and are still above average, both of these people said, though they have leveled off in recent days. There are more contributors than usual, these people said, and the average donation has climbed.”

READ MORE: Weisselberg Expected to ‘Criminally Implicate’ Trump Organization in Plea Deal Admitting to 15 Felonies: Reports

Describing the Mar-a-Lago themed fundraising emails as a “firehose,” The Post offered some examples: “THEY BROKE INTO MY HOME,” “They’re coming after YOU,” and “THIS IS INSANE.”

“One message included a poll asking, ‘Do you agree that President Trump is being politically persecuted?’ Another promised ‘an exclusive 1300% MATCH today only!,’ a common tactic used to encourage people to respond immediately.”

The Daily Beast last week reported Trump’s “campaign wants to cash in on his Florida residence being raided by FBI agents. ‘My home, Mar-a-Lago, was raided by the FBI,’ an early Wednesday morning fundraising email stated. ‘These are dark times for our Nation,” the message continued. ‘WITCH HUNT,’ another email sent out by Trump’s Save America PAC declared, while soliciting donations.”

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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‘A Perfect Call!’: Trump Rails Against Georgia Election Probe in Late-Night Truth Social Rant

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Donald Trump Joe Biden twitter

Former President Donald Trump is posting vintage rants attacking investigators on his Truth Social platform.

In a late-night tirade, the former president lashed out against the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office just hours after Rudy Giuliani testified before a special grand jury that’s probing the Trump campaign’s efforts to illegally remain in power despite losing the 2020 election to President Joe Biden.

“So, let me get this straight!” Trump’s rant began. “In the Great State of Georgia, if you want to challenge or protest Election results in any way, shape, or form (despite the fact that in Atlanta, murders and crime are the highest in the Nation, with many people dying each month – at numbers never seen before), they will charge you and put you in jail. But if you kill people, you will quickly be set free to murder again. Isn’t there something ‘slightly’ wrong with this scenario? A PERFECT PHONE CALL!”

In fact, the grand jury is not probing Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results, but is rather investigating incidents such as his phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he pushed for Raffensperger to “find” 12,000 votes and “recalculate” the final vote tally.

READ MORE: Former CIA director warns GOP is the most ‘dangerous and contemptible’ political force on earth

In a separate post, the former president attacked the Washington Post for reporting that he was having trouble finding top-notch legal representation, as he is currently relying in part on a lawyer who previously worked as general counsel for a parking garage company.

“The WAPO story that ‘Trump is scrambling to add seasoned lawyers’ to the Mar-a-Lago Raid case is, as usual, FAKE NEWS,” he wrote. “I already have excellent and experienced lawyers – am very happy with them. This is highly political prosecutorial misconduct, I have not been charged with anything and, most importantly, I did nothing wrong. Thank you!”

 

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Dr. Oz Trounced in Newsmax Interview as Host Demands Explanation for ‘Wegner’s’ and ‘Crudité’ Ad

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Republican Mehmet Oz is having a tough time in his entrance to Pennsylvania politics. The multi-millionaire celebrity TV doctor, running for a U.S. Senate seat, released a video which this week went viral with liberals – and his Democratic opponent, Lt. Governor John Fetterman – picking it apart.

In the video, an attack ad on President Joe Biden, who he is not running against, Dr. Oz says he’s shopping at “Wegner’s,” a grocery store that does not exist. Internet sleuths deduced he was shopping at Redner’s, although some believe he was at Wegmans — including a Newsmax TV host, who Oz did not correct.

Why did he get something as simple as the name of a beloved Pennsylvania grocery store wrong?

“I was exhausted,” Oz told Newsmax, after “campaigning 18 hours a day.”

RELATED: ‘Gone Dark’: GOP Nominee Dr. Oz Has Disappeared From TV in Critical Senate Race – Report

He also admitted he gets the names of his children wrong.

Curiously, the 39-second video Oz recorded is from April, and it got criticized then, but he left it up – only for the Fetterman campaign to go after it again. Back in April it led to questions about his tremendous wealth, put at around $400 million, and calls of being a “carpetbagger,” as many say he actually lives in New Jersey, not Pennsylvania.

Politico reports the Fetterman campaign “said it had raised more than $500,000 from the crudité video alone — including a sticker of the non-existent ‘Wegners.’ ‘Oz clearly has never been in a grocery store before. That’s why this is resonating with supporters across Pennsylvania,’ said Brendan McPhillips, Fetterman’s campaign manager.”

The Fetterman campaign appears to have created a “Wegner’s Groceries” account on Twitter, and is pounding Oz with snark.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania voters do not appear to be impressed with Oz.

One Republican poll shows Fetterman beating Oz by 18 points.

“New poll conducted by GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies for Pittsburgh Works Together shows big leads for Dems in the PA Senate and governors races. Fetterman up 18 points over Oz,” reports Politico’s Alex Isenstadt. The Democratic nominee for governor, Josh Shapiro is up 15 points over Republican Doug Mastriano, he adds.

READ MORE: Watch: Dr. Oz Says Legalizing Marijuana Is ‘Giving Them Pot So They Stay Home’

Back over at Newsmax, here was host Shaun Kraisman hammering Oz:

“As you know, this video went viral,” Kraisman says, as Mediate reports. “You were at Wegmans going through the veggie aisle, essentially hitting on inflation and how things cost more, putting together a plate of crudité would cost you more than 20 bucks. You said that you were at Wegner’s – this is a very popular local grocery in this region called Wegmans.”

Kraisman later says, “I don’t mean to fixate on it, but just for those watching in Pennsylvania, you know how particular many people are about their groceries, what happened with Wegmans and Wegner’s? Can you explain that to them?”

“Yeah. I was exhausted. Well, you’re campaigning 18 hours a day. I’ve gotten my kids’ names wrong as well. I don’t think that’s a measure of someone’s ability to lead the Commonwealth.”

Kraisman also says, “it does get to the factor: Is Dr. Oz relatable to the everyday, hardworking American there in Pennsylvania?”

“We’ll do whatever we need to do to make sure the people of Pennsylvania respect what we’re about,” Oz replies, “and that we’re going to work as hard as we can to fix their problems. It’s what I’ve done my whole life. It’s what I’ll continue to do. I challenged my opponent. What have you done? Rolling your sleeves up in your own life to make life better for the people of Pennsylvania?”

Before he was elected Lt. Governor, Fetterman was elected mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, four times, and served for 13 years.

Oz concludes, “I’m the person who put us on the right track and addressed many of the challenges. Cost of living, crime, and our schools that afflict so many Pennsylvanians.”

Some have also questioned if Oz understands what job he’s running for.

U.S. Senators don’t have tremendous responsibility over their state’s cost of living, crime, and school issues. Nor do they “lead the Commonwealth,” as he said to the Newsmax host.

 

 

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