The congressional resolution condemning Chechen gay killings is worthless

A protest was held in Tel Aviv outside the Russian embassy asking for an end to the violence in Chechnya. Shutterstock

The House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution condemning the human rights abuses of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya yesterday. On the surface, this looks like a win for the LGBT community and the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus that sponsored it, but a deeper peek shows just how meaningless it really is.

The resolution doesn’t actually do anything other than make a statement about the concentration camps set up in the former Soviet republic. Hundreds of gay and bi men have reportedly been detained and tortured in the facilities.

“I’m proud that the House passed this strong resolution condemning the recent violence targeting gay men in Chechnya. Now, it’s critical that we do more to ensure those fleeing horrific violence can relocate somewhere safe,” said LGBT Caucus co-chair Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island. “This is an important step, but there is much more work left to be done.”

Yes, indeed.

Here’s what the resolution does:

  • It calls for Russia to investigate the allegations.
  • It calls for Chechnya to investigate and punish anyone found guilty.
  • It calls for the United States to identify those involved in the attacks and determine if they could be sanctioned under U.S. laws.
  • It uses HRC’s hashtag #EyesOnChechnya

There are no repercussions for Chechnya. The chances of Russia suddenly deciding they like LGBT people and want to take a serious look at the issue is nil. In fact, the Russians have already “investigated” and found no evidence before the investigation even started.

While the Trump administration is in bed with the Russians, he has no actual sway to get anything accomplished. He’s been a tool in their hands and they’ve played him like a fiddle. His administration can call for anything it likes (and UN ambassador Nikki Haley has already condemned the attacks although the White House hasn’t), but that doesn’t make it going to magically happen.

“We will continue to stand united with the LGBT community and shine a bright light on these atrocities, which are encouraged by the evil Putin regime in Russia, in order to help ensure that those who are responsible for these crimes are held to account for their despicable actions,” said retiring Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.

Perhaps she’d be better off cleaning out the Trump administration with all of her fellow party members who advocate for ex-gay torture, oppose our equality, and seek to actively harm us. You don’t need Russia for that. None of the Republicans in the House wanted to go on the record as supporting the murder of innocent people, but most of them aren’t going to lift a finger to stop it here at home.

But, hey, HRC’s hashtag got used. Looks like all those political donations the group makes is really paying off. Enjoy the hashtag, Chechen queer folk. Because in the end, that’s what you’re gonna get from America’s political leaders.

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Tyler Oakley Reveals Why America May Be Headed For Another ‘Stonewall Moment’

For Tyler Oakley, no tribute to historic acts of queer resistance would be complete without a visit to New York’s Stonewall Inn

The 28-year-old YouTube personality, author and queer rights activist dropped by Stonewall, which is considered the symbolic birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, for the latest installment of his new “Chosen Family” video series. One of the many highlights of the clip, which can be viewed above, is Oakley’s candid interview with Stonewall veteran Tree Sequoia, who is now a bartender at the historic Greenwich Village venue.

Though the clip was released 48 years after Stonewall’s patrons fought back in a June 28, 1969 police raid, Sequoia tells Oakley he worries about that legacy being brushed aside as LGBTQ people continue to make social strides. “The younger generation [has] no idea what we went through to give them what they have,” Sequoia, now 76, says. “They have 100 percent more than I had when I was a gay guy coming to the Village in the ’50s and ’60s. We had nothing.”  

Oakley also chatted with Stonewall’s co-owner Stacy Lentz, who sees parallels between the challenges LGBTQ people experienced in 1969 with those they now face in America’s current political climate.  

“This was founded on resistance. This was founded on standing up,” Lentz says. “We need everybody now… whether it’s our trans friends, whether it’s people of color, whether it’s immigrants ― whatever it is ― those issues matter now. You have your Stonewall 1969 moment right now to stand up, come out, march and fight back.” 

Oakley told HuffPost that the chance to speak with Sequoia and Lentz just ahead of the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising was “really powerful.” 

“Bars like the Stonewall Inn have always been sanctuaries for queer people,” he said. “Hearing a firsthand account from an activist like Tree Sequoia reminded me of how important it is to carry on the legacy of resistance of our LGBTQ+ elders that began almost 50 years ago.”

Check out the trailer for Oakley’s “Chosen Family” video series below, then be sure to watch more of his videos here

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Trump’s lawyer used his religious charity to make millions off the poor

Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow approved a plan to shake down poor and old people for money to keep himself and his family well-heeled. Steve Helber/AP

As we recently reported, President Donald Trump‘s latest hire in his team of attorneys defending him in Russiagate, Jay Sekulow has an extensive anti-LGBTQ, and anti-abortion background. He has also amassed quite a fortune for himself and his family, in part by shaking down the poor and elderly during the worst days of the financial crisis.

Sekulow heads up two Christian conservative nonprofits: The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) and sister group Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (CASE). As The Guardian reports, telemarketers for CASE, under Sekulow’s direction used scare tactics, with wild claims like abortion centers were going to be opening in middle schools and high schools as part of Obamacare, were asking the unemployed, the impoverished, and retirees living on fixed incomes to dig deep to give a “sacrificial gift of even $20 within the next three weeks.”

Turns out, much of that money was going to bankroll Sekulow and his family’s lavish lifestyle:

For years, the nonprofits have made a notable amount of payments to Sekulow and his family, which were first reported by Law.com. Since 2000, a law firm co-owned by Sekulow, the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group, has been paid more than $25m by the nonprofits for legal services. During the same period, Sekulow’s company Regency Productions, which produces his talk radio show, was paid $11.3m for production services.

Sekulow also personally received other compensation totalling $3.3m. Pam Sekulow, his wife, has been paid more than $1.2m in compensation for serving astreasurer and secretary of Case.

Sekulow’s brother, Gary, the chief operating officer of the nonprofits, has been paid $9.2m in salary and benefits by them since 2000…

Meanwhile, a company run by Gary’s wife, Kim Sekulow, has received $6.2m since 2000 in fees for media production services and for the lease of a private jet, which it owned jointly with Jay Sekulow’s company Regency Productions. The jet was made available for the use of Jay and Pam Sekulow, according to corporate filings.

Jay’s two sons, and Gary’s son and daughter, have also shared at least $1.7m in compensation for work done for the nonprofits since 2000.

Attorneys and other experts in the nonprofit field said this risked violating a federal law against nonprofits paying excessive benefits to the people who run them, as this looks to be the very definition of excessive.

If nothing else, it raises serious questions about Sekulow’s motivations for the work he does, and the practices he is willing to implement to gain wealth.

“This is all highly unusual, and it gives an appearance of conflicts of interest that any nonprofit should want to avoid,” said Daniel Borochoff, the president of CharityWatch, a group that monitors nonprofits. CharityWatch has given Sekulow’s groups a C+ rating. He added that the two groups should be merged to avoid confusion.

“I can’t imagine this situation being acceptable,” said Arthur Rieman, managing attorney at Law Firm for Nonprofits. “That kind of money is practically unheard of in the nonprofit world, and these kinds of transactions I could never justify.”

Sekulow’s new client also has experience dipping his hand into his charity’s cookie jar to benefit himself.

Trump has used money from his nonprofit to purchase paintings of himself, a signed football helmet, and to pay off legal settlements stemming from his for-profit businesses.

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Ricky Martin Reveals The One Thing He Must Do For His ‘Massive’ Wedding

Ricky Martin is taking wedding planning very seriously.

The singer recently spoke to E! News about what he has in store for his nuptials, and the event is starting to sound pretty legendary.

“We talk about about the wedding but nobody is talking about the planning of the wedding because it’s so difficult,” he said. “I didn’t know it was so complicated to put together an event like the one we want… but it’s going to be a big event. I want something massive.”

Martin explained that because his fiancé, Jwan Yosef, is from Sweden and has relatives from Syria, the wedding will be an international affair. The location, however, is bound to be a place close to the artist’s heart. 

“I want to get married in Puerto Rico,” he said. “That is something that has to happen. It where I’m from, it’s where my family is from. It’s a beautiful scenario, not only for my wedding but for anyone who is just interested in getting married in the tropics. ”

The star also said he wanted his wedding to be a “three day celebration, at least” while talking with “CBS Sunday Morning’s.” The couple has yet to set a date but Martin said “maybe this year” during the April interview. 

The Puerto Rican artist first announced his engagement to Yosef in November during an interview on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Martin also revealed how he popped the question. 

“I proposed,” he told Ellen. “I was really nervous, but I got on my knees… and instead of saying ‘Will you marry me?’ I said, ‘I got you something!’ Bad. And then he was like, ‘Yes?’ I said, ‘I want to spend my life with you’ and he was like, ‘What is the question?’ [then I said] ‘Will you marry me?.’”