Shepard Smith Will Host One-Hour News Show On CNBC

Shepard Smith (screen capture)

Openly gay news anchor Shepard Smith, formerly of Fox News, has been announced to host a one-hour news telecast on CNBC at 7 pm ET beginning this fall.

After 23 years at Fox News, Smith abruptly announced his departure from the conservative-leaning news outlet last October after being warned of criticizing both Donald Trump and his Fox News ally, Tucker Carlson.

From CNBC:

The newscast, which will be called “The News with Shepard Smith,” is set to launch in the fall. Smith’s title will be chief general news anchor and chief breaking general news anchor.

Smith joins CNBC after spending 23 years at Fox News Channel, where he anchored “Shepard Smith Reporting,” “The Fox Report” and “Studio B.” He also served as chief news anchor of the network and managing editor of the breaking news division.

“I am honored to continue to pursue the truth, both for CNBC’s loyal viewers and for those who have been following my reporting for decades in good times and in bad,” Smith said in a press release.

CNBC Chairman Mark Hoffman said Smith has a track record of fact-driven storytelling.

“We aim to deliver a nightly program that, in some small way, looks for the signal in all the noise,” Hoffman said in the press release. “We’re thrilled that Shep, who’s built a career on an honest fight to find and report the facts, will continue his pursuit of the truth at CNBC.”

Dan Colarusso, CNBC’s senior vice president of business news, said Smith’s program aims to go beyond financial markets, “to tell rich, deeply reported stories across the entire landscape of global news.”

Smith casually came out during an interview with HuffPost in October 2016.

Gay Mayor Of Wilton Manor Dies Of Brain Aneurysm

Justin Flippen, the 41-year-old  openly gay mayor of Wilton Manors, Florida, died suddenly early Tuesday night as he was driving to a meeting of the Wilton Manors City Commission.

Wilton Manors Police Chief Paul O’Connell said Flippen was taken to a nearby hospital due to a serious “medical issue,” and that he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Police Chief Paul O’Connell said Wednesday that the Medical Examiner’s Office determined Flippen died of a brain aneurysm.

Flippen was elected mayor in 2018 on a platform of experience, fiscal responsibility, inclusive community values and protecting neighborhoods’ small-town feel. He had filed to run for reelection this November.

Mayor Justin Flippen (center)

With his election, Wilton Manors became only the second city in the U.S. to have an entirely LGBTQ elected city government. Palm Springs was the first.

Flippen was first elected to the Commission in November 2008 and then picked to serve as Vice Mayor. He also served from 2008-2010 and 2014-2018 before being elected mayor in 2018.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who Flippen had endorsed for president, tweeted his condolences.

Ireland’s Openly Gay Prime Minister Offers His Resignation

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (image via Instagram)

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s openly gay prime minister, has offered his resignation after his political party, Fine Gael, failed to win a majority in the parliamentary elections held on February 8.

From The Advocate:

Parliament then voted Thursday on the prime minister, with a candidate needing 80 votes to win. Varadkar received just 36, with the support of all members of his party plus one other. Micheál Martin, from the Fianna Fáil party, received 41 votes, and Mary Lou McDonald, of Sinn Fein, won the most, 45.

The other parties refuse to form a coalition government with Sinn Fein, which was once the political affiliate of the Irish Republican Army, so Martin may end up leading a coalition with Fine Gael.

When he became prime minister in 2017, he became one of the highest-ranking openly gay elected officials in the world.

Varadkar visited the U.S. several times in his capacity as Ireland’s Prime Minister including attending a luncheon with virulently anti-LGBTQ Vice President Mike Pence in 2018.

Teacher Fired For Sharing He’s Gay With High School Students

Dr. Josh Hamilton (screen capture)

Dr. Josh Hamilton teaches professional communications and college readiness at Grapevine High School near Fort Worth, Texas.

He is also the coach for the school’s competitive speech team that won state and national championships last year.

But the school district he works for recently fired him saying he texted inappropriate messages to a student. Hamilton says the trouble started the day after he mentioned being gay to his speech team.

During preparation on September 5, 2019, for an upcoming oral interpretation tournament, Hamilton felt his team was distracted by personal issues instead of the topic at hand.

“Guys, I get it,” Hamilton told the students in an attempt to motivate them. “We all have something going on. Heck, you all watched me struggle last year with my mental health and met me this year on the other side as a happy, open and honest gay man.”

“So, I get it life is hard,” added the PhD. “Let’s put that to the side and get our work done.”

The next day he was called into Human Resources where he says he was asked about his communication with students, did he text them, and what was the content?

Hamilton said he did text some students as the team coach and in the context that one of the students handled babysitting chores for him.

Finally, the HR representative asked, “Josh, have you told the students anything about your personal life changes in the last month?”

Hamilton says his response was as straight-forward as he could make it.

“Are you asking if the kids know that I am gay?” he told the representative. “Sure, just like they know that I was married, I have kids and travel each day from Fort Worth, sure they do its part of my life.”

He was placed on administrative leave at that time pending an investigation into whether he ‘shared too much information’ with his students.

That was a Friday. On Monday, he was told by the HR persona, “Josh, we have done our investigation and decided we are no longer going to continue employment.”

Hamilton says he was given no due process nor provided with any evidence.

When he asked to see the text messages the school insisted he was being dismissed for, he was told, “No, we need to protect the privacy of the student.”

After hiring a lawyer, who asked for the text messages in question to be forwarded pending legal action, the school stopped communicating.

A few days later, he was finally allowed to review the text messages that the school says are the basis for his firing.

The messages were with a student who regularly took care of Hamilton’s young son, Jackson.

Hamilton says the topics in the 8 text messages ranged from his son to separating from his wife to his new dating life. The instructor says the student was babysitting when he would go on dates, so the issue came up.

“If we’re going to fire a teacher for texting a kid, we’re going to fire a lot of teachers in Texas,” Hamilton told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

And he insists none of the messages have ever been inappropriate.

The student’s parents didn’t see it that way.

At a meeting this week of the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District, board members voted unanimously to fire Hamilton due to the District’s policy on texting students.

During the meeting, Human Resources executive director Gema Padgett said, “Dr. Hamilton violated the standards by developing inappropriate relationships with students, providing inappropriate information to the students concerning his personal life, through text messages, treating students as family members or close friends and providing inappropriate personal information to the students.”

Hamilton told the local NBC News affiliate NBC DFW, “Sitting in the board room and hearing her use the word inappropriate, inappropriate, inappropriate painted me to the public as a child predator. This has been the worst experience of my life.”

But the school district, contending Hamilton’s firing was not because he is gay, issued this statement:

“Mr. Hamilton has been proposed for termination for good cause due to violations of the District’s electronic communications policy, violations of student privacy, failure to follow written directives, and violations of the Texas Educator’s Code of Ethics. In GCISD, we hold all employees to high standards for their interactions with our most important people, our students. His conduct is not acceptable for an educator in GCISD.”

Hamilton plans to appeal the decision to the Texas Education Agency, which would provide a due process hearing. He says he hopes to retain his teaching position.

The state of Texas has no legal protections on the books prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace.

(source: NBC DFW)

Police Veteran Told ‘Tone Down’ The Gayness If He Wanted Promotion

Sgt. Keith Wildhaber (image via Wildhaber)

In the spring of 2014, St. Louis County police Sgt. Keith Wildhaber says he was told he would need to “tone down his gayness” if he hoped to be promoted to lieutenant.

The comment, according to Wildhaber, came from a former member of the St. Louis County Police Board of Commissioners, John Saracino, a short time after Chief Jon Belmar took over the department.

“I was sickened by it,” said Wildhaber on the first day of his employment discrimination lawsuit against the department, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“I think I said, ‘I can’t believe we are having this conversation in 2014.’ It was devastating to hear,” Wildhaber told the jury. “We had never spoken of my sexuality before, and I thought he was just trying to be helpful to me and looking out for my best interest in the promotional process.”

Saracino later denied making the comment.

Wildhaber filed the lawsuit in 2017 after being passed over for promotion 23 times.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at the time Wildhaber ranked third among 26 people who took a promotions test in February 2014. In February 2015, he again placed third in a second round of tests.

On the opening day of the lawsuit, lawyers representing Wildhaber characterized Chief Belmar as “having a penchant for promoting masculine men that dominates all promotional decisions and said that he will retaliate against anyone who questions them, as Wildhaber did by filing his lawsuit.”

“The police department under Chief Belmar is big on high-testosterone, type A masculine personalities, and my method of policing doesn’t conform with that,” testified Wildhaber, who contends he would have been promoted if he weren’t openly gay. “This chief is very heavy on promoting the SWAT, masculine type of guys, and I wasn’t doing that.”

Wildhaber’s attorneys told the jury that, after filing his lawsuit, Wildhaber was transferred to the Jennings precinct which nearly tripled his daily commute to work. And he was moved from afternoon shifts and put on midnights.

Wildhaber told the court, “It’s what’s known as a ‘geography lesson’ in the department.”

Lawyers for the department told the jury the police chief had reasons not to promote the 22-year-veteran, who is still with the department.

The department’s attorney’s pointed to a three-day suspension in 2011 for failing to file 23 out of 6,000 police reports during his tenure as a fraud detective.

The lawyer’s also said Wildhaber had been the subject of an FBI investigation and hadn’t told Belmar. They accused him of tipping off a suspect the FBI was investigating.

But Wildhaber denied the allegations saying, “I didn’t do that,” adding that he informed his supervisor after being questioned by the FBI.

Attorneys for Wildhaber say there have been several officers with larger disciplinary issues in their file than Wildhaber who have been promoted to lieutenant.

The trial will continue on Wednesday.

Missouri has no laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace.

A bill to add sexual orientation to the state’s non-discrimination laws was passed by the state Senate on May 17, 2013, but the state House of Representatives adjourned that session without taking up the bill for consideration.

(source: Post-Dispatch)

‘Meet The Press’ Host Presses Mayor Pete On Winning The Black Vote

During an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press, host Chuck Todd repeatedly quizzed Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, on his relationship with African-American voters and whether being openly gay could be an obstacle in winning their votes.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg on ‘Meet The Press’

During an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press, host Chuck Todd repeatedly quizzed Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, on his relationship with African-American voters and whether being openly gay could be an obstacle in winning their votes.

Reading from an interview with Reverend Rodric Reid of the Uplift Church in Indianapolis, Todd recounted Reid’s thoughts on Buttigieg’s marriage to his husband, Chasten.

“‘I guarantee it’s going to be an obstacle for the candidate from South Bend,” read the quote from Reid. “That is really still a touchy subject, specifically and especially in the African American church.”

“Now, I think it could be overcome, because we are gradually getting to a point of, and I don’t want to say ‘accept,’ but we are getting to a point of realizing this is the culture that we are going to have to begin to live with and adapt to it,” added Reid.

Todd then turned to the Mayor and asked how his outreach efforts to the Black community are going.

“They’re going well,” said the 37-year-old mayor. “And we are working very hard to engage people across the party, but especially black voters, who expect you to demonstrate, especially when you’re new on the scene, what your values are and how you’re going to promote policies that lift them up.”

Buttigieg then pivoted to Donald Trump adding, “I also think we have a moment on our hands when we can do the exact opposite of what the president has done.”

“The president has used identity as a wedge, used race as a wedge to divide people who have common interests,” the young mayor explained.

Instead of dividing people, Buttigieg suggested recognizing our “distinctive identities,” whether the Black or LGBTQ community, could help to “build bridges, to reach out to people different from us, knowing that anybody who has been on the short end of an equation of exclusion has a way to sympathize with people who’ve had different experiences with exclusion in this country.”

“And if we build a solidarity around that, then people who have, for whatever reason, felt a lack of belonging or felt exclusion or felt discrimination in this country, even though those patterns of discrimination are very, very different, when all of us come together, we win, and we are all better off,” he added.

‘Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd and Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Todd wasn’t done with the subject, though.

The NBC host told Buttigieg he’d spoken to African-American congressmen who like what they’ve heard from the mayor and could see themselves supporting his campaign, but are concerned some of their more socially conservative constituents may have issues with his sexuality.

Todd wondered what could Buttigieg do to win over those voters?

Noting that he won his second term as mayor in a 80 percent landslide as an out candidate, Mayor Pete answered, “I’d invite them to look at what happened in South Bend.”

He continued saying he was confident “that American voters, especially Democratic voters, will not discriminate when the opportunity comes up to choose the right leader for the future.”

It is worth noting that a recent Post and Courier/Change Research Poll of likely Democratic primary voters in South Carolina, which holds the third presidential primary in the country and is the first real gauge of African-American voters mood, shows Buttigieg has recently surged into third place with 11% behind former Vice President Joe Biden (37%) and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (17%).

So it would appear that Mayor Pete’s outreach to the Black community is showing positive results.

You can watch Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s full interview on NBC’s Meet the Press below. The discussion on Buttigieg and the Black vote happens at the 12:57 mark.

Presidential Hopeful Pete Buttigieg On Whether America Is Ready For A Gay President

Appearing on The View today, presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, was asked the question everyone wants to know: Is America ready for its first gay president?
South Bend Mayor and presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg

Appearing on The View today, presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, was asked the question everyone wants to know: Is America ready for its first gay president?

Buttigieg’s answer was perfect.

“Well, there’s only one way to find out,” replied the 37-year-old mayor with a smile.

He continued:

“When I came out it was 2015, I was in the middle of a reelection campaign. I was ready – you know you’re ready when you’re ready? – and I wanted to have a personal life.

“It was not obvious that was going to be a safe thing to do – it was in Indiana, Mike Pence was the governor at the time – and I wound up getting reelected with 80% of the vote.

“So I think people will evaluate you for the job you’re doing.”

Buttigieg also says coming from a different generation isn’t a bad thing, and that he promised his father (who passed away this Sunday) he would make him proud.

Out Mayor Of South Bend Considers 2020 White House Run

Mayor Pete Buttigieg (image via Flickr/Edward KimmelCC license)

With the 2018 midterm elections in the rearview mirror, political pundits can’t wait to start wondering aloud who may run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Rep. Beto O’Rourke are just some of the names being floated.

But how about a 36-year-old openly gay mayor from red-state Indiana?

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, now in his second term, has announced he will not seek a third term at the end of 2019.

We keep hearing how voters want a fresh, young voice and a young, progressive mayor from middle America could certainly fit the bill.

Plus, Buttigieg is an Afghanistan veteran, a Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar.

Not too shabby.

When Adam Wren of Indianapolis Monthly interviewed the mayor, Wren asked straight up if Buttigieg will run for president.

“I don’t know,” was the response.

But considering he trades calls with Biden, has been lauded by former President Barack Obama and keeps counsel with Obama’s former strategist, David Axelrod, it’s very possible Buttigieg might be a dark horse challenger to keep your eye on.

“He speaks the language of the heartland,” Axelrod says. “He is a very gifted guy in a very understated way.”

With no significant national profile, Buttigieg knows the odds are against him. But, perhaps, winning isn’t everything (right now).

From Indianapolis Monthly, which notes his fondness for carnival “claw games:”

Even if he runs in 2020 and loses the Democratic primary, many see him landing a plum cabinet position.

You don’t have to try too hard to imagine the former management consultant running a federal agency like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development—or even the vice presidency. Indiana, after all, has produced more of those—six—than any other state except New York, which claims 11. “Any president would benefit from his gifts,” says Axelrod.

Buttigieg is seven years younger than John F. Kennedy was when he became president. If he runs and wins, he’d be 39 when he was inaugurated.

He has an entire political lifetime to win the plush toy of the presidency. There’s time. But you can tell he hears the electronic carnival music of running for national office getting faster in his head.

Colorado Could Elect The First Openly-Gay Governor In The U.S.

Colorado Democratic candidate for governor, Jared Polis

Less than one percent of elected officials in the United States are openly LGBTQ.

According to The Victory Institute, in terms of LGBTQ representation, we have:

• 1 governor
• 7 members of Congress
• 4 statewide elected officials
• 37 mayors
• 123 state lawmakers
• 306 local officials
• 95 judicial elected officials

That’s a total of 573 LGBTQ elected officials in the entire country which breaks down to 0.11% of all public offices.

With a record number of LGBTQ candidates running for office this year, that could change after this year’s midterm elections.

Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon is the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected to governor in the country. After succeeding John Kitzhaber upon his resignation in 2015, Brown, who’s openly bisexual, was elected to the office in 2016.

Brown is currently running for reelection this year, as are three more LGBTQ leaders (which end up ticking all of the LGBT boxes):

• Lupe Valdez, a lesbian woman running for governor in Texas
• Christine Hallquist, a transgender woman running for governor in Vermont
• Jared Polis, a gay man running for governor in Colorado

Of those four, the one poll in Vermont shows Hallquist trailing her opponent by 14 points, and Lupe trails her opponent by an average of 20 points.

Brown looks steady for reelection as she leads her opponent in Oregon by an average of 3.4 points.

And in Colorado, Polis could be poised to become the country’s first-ever gay man elected to a governor’s mansion. (In 2004, former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey was closeted when elected but came out during his resignation speech).

According to RealClearPolitics, Polis leads his race by an average of 7 points.

Polis is one of the wealthiest members of Congress having made several fortunes as a tech entrepreneur. After taking his family’s greeting card company online, he also founded and sold ProFlowers.com for hundreds of millions of dollars.

With an estimated $300 million in personal wealth, Polis is funding much of his own campaign telling NBC News, “I’m beholden to no one except voters.”

So, if you’re in Colorado, make sure you vote for Jared Polis for governor.

And if you live in any of the 49 others states, make sure you get out and vote for our candidates as well!

You can find a list of LGBTQ candidates at The Victory Fund.