Woman pleads guilty in case of videotaped beating of trans woman at McDonald’s

Teona Brown, 19, has pled guilty Thursday, Aug. 4, to first degree assault charges and a hate crime charge in connection with the beating of transgender woman Chrissy Polis last April in Towson,

Chrissy Polis

Md. The attack was captured on video by a McDonald’s employee — who filmed the assault rather than step in and try to stop it — last April. The video went viral online and was used, along with new footage from a surveillance camera, in court hearings this week. CBS Baltimore has this report on the plea.

Conviction on a first degree assault charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years, and a hate crime conviction could add another 10 years. Because Brown pled guilty to the attack, prosecutors are recommending that the judge sentence her to five years in prison. A sentencing hearing has been set for next month.

Polis was present in court on Thursday, but told reporters she was nervous about being there and had no comment. “I just want to lay low and keep my life as normal as possible,” she said.

A second person charged in the attack was 14 at the time and has been charged with assault as a juvenile. Because she is a minor, her identity has not been released.

Below is a video of a news report aired on the Washington, D.C., Fox news program when the attack happened. It includes video of the attack and, as State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said this week, “The severity of the beating is much easier to understand when you see a video. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. Well, a video’s worth a million.”

—  admin

Watch: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Jared Polis Talk ‘DADT’ Repeal on ‘Hardball’

Matthews

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) joined Chris Matthews on Hardball to discuss this weekend's vote in the Senate to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Cicilline becomes 4th gay member of Congress

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund is reporting that Providence Mayor David Cicilline has won his race for Congress in Rhode Island.

“Mayor Cicilline will be a strong advocate for all Rhode Islanders, but he will also be an authentic voice for the millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans who long for the day when we will be treated equally under law,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund. “We are enormously proud of him and grateful to Rhode Island voters.”

Cicilline will join openly gay Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jared Polis of Colorado, all Democrats.

—  John Wright

AC360: Rep. Jared Polis & LCR’s Clarke Cooper Discuss Chambliss Scandal

Tonight CNN’s Anderson Cooper discussed the “all faggots must die” comment left by a Sen. Saxby Chambliss staffer here on JMG, bringing on Rep. Jared Polis and Log Cabin head R. Clarke Cooper. (The same pair discussed the issue on MSNBC’s Hardball yesterday.) Tonight’s conversation focused more on the delay in identifying the culprit, although LCR’s Cooper once again attempted to derail the issue by launching into an attack on Obama over DADT.

UNRELATED: CNN really has a problem with my name, this is the third mention in as many weeks in which they get it wrong. Whatevs.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Polis, Progressive Caucus Push Pelosi on ENDA

Pelosienda

Nancy Pelosi has by now grown accustomed to being the Republican and Tea Parties' enemy number one. With the House Speaker's lethargic approach to Employment Non-Discrimination, however, she's increasingly finding herself being criticized by progressives, including those in her own party.

Out and proud Rep. Jared Polis, as well as fellow Congressional Progressive Caucus members, co-chairs Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey and Rep. Raul Grijalva, all Democrats, have started what will hopefully be a chorus of Congressional opposition to ENDA with a letter urging Pelosi to enact ENDA.

Rather than focusing completely on that old, worn out equality argument, however, the letter takes aim at ENDA's economic necessity in a time of financial uncertainty. It's a shrewd move.

"As our economy works to recover, now seems the right time to thrust the American workforce into the 21st century with legislation that addresses discriminatory workplace practices," reads the missive, obtained by the Washington Blade and currently being circulated for signatories.

"Already struggling with an unemployment rate of over 9 percent, the American worker should not need to contend with an employer’s personal discomfort or bias against the sexual orientation or gender identity of an employee."

The signatories conclude on a surprisingly accusatory note, telling Speaker Pelosi, "Turning a blind eye to harassment and discrimination against the LGBT community has too long been a stain on our otherwise proud record of worker protection."

It's unclear whether Polis and other progressive Democrats will be able to push Pelosi further than she's gone — which isn't very far, especially considering that Pelosi has said ENDA won't be approached until after DADT's repeal, an seemingly far-off goal — but at least they're trying.

Read the entire letter, AFTER THE JUMP…


    The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
    Speaker of the House
    US House of Representatives
    H 232, the Capitol
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    Dear Madam Speaker:

    Members of the Progressive Caucus thank you for unrelenting support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and for making American jobs a top priority for the 111th Congress. Now is a dire time for the American worker and we believe, H.R. 3017, the Employee Nondiscrimination Act is a vital piece in our economic recovery. With the support of the Democratic leadership and the demonstrated commitment of the Administration, we believe this Congress will finally shut the door on employee discrimination.

    For nearly 20 years progressive members of Congress have been fighting to end discrimination and create a fair and equitable workplace for the LGBT community. In a metaanalysis conducted by the Williams Institute, statistics revealed a persistent and unacceptable trend towards open harassment, unfair hiring practices, unwarranted firings and unequal pay. As a caucus concerned with open-minded and progressive views, we take exception to this blatant mistreatment.

    As our economy works to recover, now seems the right time to thrust the American workforce into the 21st century with legislation that addresses discriminatory workplace practices. Already struggling with an unemployment rate of over 9 percent, the American worker should not need to contend with an employer’s personal discomfort or bias against the sexual orientation or gender identity of an employee. States that have adopted anti-discrimination laws report higher employee satisfaction and company morale. Unfortunately, there are only 20 states and the District of Columbia with these policies in place and 12 that also encompass thetransgender community.

    Employment, promotions and retention should be based on merit and merit alone. For the individual this means a safe and productive work environment where there is a focus on results not a preoccupation with their choice in partner or gender identity. Employers, too, should set their sights on an egalitarian workplace that encourages a sense of community and teamwork. In fact, 94 percent of Fortune 100 companies have antidiscrimination policies protecting lesbian and gay employees and 60 percent protect transgender employees. The best companies hire, promote and retain the best talent, all of which is only made possible by creating a supportive and accepting environment.

    ENDA will put the LGBT community on an even footing with every other employee. Turning a blind eye to harassment and discrimination against the LGBT community has too long been a stain on our otherwise proud record of worker protection. It is imperative to shine a light on this issue and add yet another achievement to this exceptionally accomplished Congress.

    We look forward to working with you and to enact ENDA in the 111th Congress.

    Sincerely,

    _________________________
    Raul Grijalva, CPC Co-Chair

    _________________________

    Lynn Woolsey, CPC Co-Chair

    ______________________
    Jared Polis, CPC Member

Image via TalkNewsMedia's Flickr.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

President Obama's speech at the hate crimes law reception

OBAMA ATTORNEY AT LAW

Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 28, President Barack Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act. Later that same afternoon, he attended a reception at the White House to commemorate the passage of this historic law that includes special provisions for investigating and prosecuting crimes committed out of hatred based on the victim’s perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

At that reception, the president recognized the Members of Congress who were attending — including the three out lesbian and gay Congressmembers Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Jared Polis — and activists and community leaders in attendance. Those activists included Matthew Shepard’s parents and brother, Dennis, Judy and Logan Shepard, and James Byrd Jr.’s sisters, Betty Byrd Boatner and Louvan Harris.

Here is the text of the rest of his address:

“To all the activists, all the organizers, all the people who helped make this day happen, thank you for your years of advocacy and activism, pushing and protesting that made this victory possible.

“You know, as a nation we’ve come far on the journey towards a more perfect union.  And today, we’ve taken another step forward. This afternoon, I signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

“This is the culmination of a struggle that has lasted more than a decade. Time and again, we faced opposition. Time and again, the measure was defeated or delayed. Time and again we’ve been reminded of the difficulty of building a nation in which we’re all free to live and love as we see fit.

“But the cause endured and the struggle continued, waged by the family of Matthew Shepard, by the family of James Byrd, by folks who held vigils and led marches, by those who rallied and organized and refused to give up, by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy who fought so hard for this legislation and all who toiled for years to reach this day.

“You understood that we must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones, but to break spirits — not only to inflict harm, but to instill fear. You understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights — both from unjust laws and violent acts. And you understand how necessary this law continues to be.

“In the most recent year for which we have data, the FBI reported roughly 7,600 hate crimes in this country. Over the past 10 years, there were more than 12,000 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation alone. And we will never know how many incidents were never reported at all.

“And that’s why, through this law, we will strengthen the protections against crimes based on the color of your skin, the faith in your heart or the place of your birth. We will finally add federal protections against crimes based on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. And prosecutors will have new tools to work with states in order to prosecute to the fullest those who would perpetrate such crimes.

“Because no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love. No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are or because they live with a disability.

“At root, this isn’t just about our laws; this is about who we are as a people. This is about whether we value one another — whether we embrace our differences, rather than allowing them to become a source of animus.

“It’s hard for any of us to imagine the mind-set of someone who would kidnap a young man and beat him to within an inch of his life, tie him to a fence and leave him for dead. It’s hard for any of us to imagine the twisted mentality of those who’d offer a neighbor a ride home, attack him, chain him to the back of a truck and drag him for miles until he finally died.

“But we sense where such cruelty begins: The moment we fail to see in another our common humanity, the very moment when we fail to recognize in a person the same fears and hopes, the same passions and imperfections, the same dreams that we all share.

“We have for centuries strived to live up to our founding ideal, of a nation where all are free and equal and able to pursue their own version of happiness. Through conflict and tumult, through the morass of hatred and prejudice, through periods of division and discord we have endured and grown stronger and fairer and freer.

“And at every turn, we’ve made progress not only by changing laws but by changing hearts, by our willingness to walk in another’s shoes, by our capacity to love and accept even in the face of rage and bigotry.

“In April of 1968, just one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, as our nation mourned in grief and shuddered in anger, President Lyndon Johnson signed landmark civil rights legislation. This was the first time we enshrined into law federal protections against crimes motivated by religious or racial hatred — the law on which we build today.

“As he signed his name, at a difficult moment for our country, President Johnson said that through this law “the bells of freedom ring out a little louder.” That is the promise of America.

“Over the sounds of hatred and chaos, over the din of grief and anger, we can still hear those ideals — even when they are faint, even when some would try to drown them out. At our best we seek to make sure those ideals can be heard and felt by Americans everywhere. And that work did not end in 1968. It certainly does not end today.

“But because of the efforts of the folks in this room — particularly those family members who are standing behind me — we can be proud that that bell rings even louder now and each day grows louder still.

“So thank you very much. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.”

—  admin