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Florida LGBTQ Group Cancels Pride Parade Thanks to Anti-Drag Bill

Florida’s drag ban hasn’t been signed into law yet, but it’s already having the intended effect.

People participate in the Pride Parade during the Miami Beach Pride Festival in September 2021.

Florida’s drag ban has not yet been signed into law, and yet it is already stopping Pride celebrations in the state.

The measure passed the state House of Representatives Wednesday by a vote of 82–32 and is now headed to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis. If he signs it into law, the measure would prohibit government entities and employees from issuing permits to organizations that may hold “adult live performances” in the presence of minors. It would also ban businesses from allowing minors to attend such performances.

The Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast, which covers several counties in southeastern Florida, announced some dramatic changes late Wednesday to its Pride celebrations in light of the legislation.

As all of you know, the political climate that we are currently in has us all very concerned for our community. After multiple meetings with city officials, it is with a heavy heart that Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast has to announce that this weekend’s Pridefest will now be a 21 and older event,” the group said on Facebook.

“We also regret to announce that we will have to cancel our plans to bring back our beloved parade.”

This is the law working as intended: forcing queer people back into the closet,” tweeted New York Times columnist Lydia Polgreen.

Florida is the latest state to advance a (vaguely worded, extreme) measure attacking drag performances, which have become a particular target for the right wing in recent years. It is likely to become the second state to pass a law, after Tennessee in March. The Tennessee law was blocked by a judge before it could go into effect on the grounds that it was overly broad and violated free speech rights.

Cop City Protester Was Shot 57 Times; Had No Gunpowder Residue on Hands

The police narrative on the murder of the environmental activist known as “Tortuguita” is quickly falling apart.

Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images
A vigil by environmental activists in a preserved forest in Atlanta that is scheduled to be developed as a police training center

The police do not seem to have been provoked when they shot and killed Manuel Esteban Paez Teran.

At least that is what the evidence continues to indicate. In January, the 26-year-old forest defender known as “Tortuguita” was shot and killed by police as they were protesting the construction of a $90 million police training facility in Atlanta, Georgia.

New autopsy results from DeKalb County reveal that Teran had no gunpowder residue on their hands, contrary to police reports that said Teran had shot first at a state trooper, provoking officers to respond with gunfire.

Even more appalling, Teran suffered at least 57 gunshot wounds, from head to toe. Officers shot at least 57 bullets into a person who was protesting the construction of a militarized police facility and defending a forest. Fifty-seven. If there was a point to be made about our overinflated police budgets, the police made it themselves.

Teran’s family reportedly conducted an independent autopsy that found Teran’s hands were raised during the shooting; the DeKalb County autopsy could not definitely come to a conclusion on that fact.

Conveniently, there is no body camera footage of the event, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The revelations follow an ongoing display of proof for why residents might be skeptical of giving the police more and more money. In March, at least 35 people were indiscriminately detained at a music festival organized by Cop City protesters. Twenty-three were charged with domestic terrorism.

Those arrested were accused of participating in vandalism and arson at a construction site over a mile away from where the music festival was held. There was no substantial proof that any were involved in illegal activity; some people were outright denied bond on the grounds of “evidence” like wearing black or having mud on their shoes (they were all in a forest, where it had just rained).

While the police continue to prove why they warrant more scrutiny and less leeway, their behavior has yet to change; it is unclear how much more damage they will need to cause to inspire enough change to stop them from causing such damage at all.

Taxpayers Are Subsidizing Fox’s Election Lies and Violent Radicalization

Fox is getting a big tax break on its settlement with Dominion. Meanwhile, it continues radicalizing its viewers, like the person charged with shooting Ralph Yarl.

Someone walks by a Fox News sign that has the channel's logo and the line "America is watching."
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It turns out that every person who pays taxes is also paying for Fox to further radicalize their neighbors.

On Tuesday, Dominion Voting Systems decided to settle with Fox and its cable networks after a months-long battle in a defamation lawsuit alleging that Fox had knowingly spread lies about the 2020 election. And now, The Lever has revealed that Fox will get to obtain a tax break as large as $213 million off the $787.5 million it owes Dominion.

“Thanks to an arcane line in the tax code, Fox can deduct that settlement payment from its income taxes,” The Lever reports, “because federal law allows taxpayers to write off many legal costs, providing that they are ‘ordinary and necessary’ business expenses.”

The revelation is shocking at its face: With a settlement, Fox had weaseled out of a potentially deeper inquiry into the lies undergirding its operation. And now the American taxpayer, whether they watch Fox or not, gets to help the crooked company wade through the costs of its own actions.

The revelation is all the more shocking given reporting from the Kansas City Star on the role Fox played in the radicalization of the shooter of Ralph Yarl, a Black 16-year-old boy who went to the wrong home in Kansas City, Missouri, to pick up his siblings.

Andrew D. Lester, who has been charged with shooting Yarl last week, was apparently immersed in a “24-hour news cycle of fear and paranoia,” according to Lester’s grandson.

“He’s become staunchly right-wing, further down the right-wing rabbit hole as far as doing the election-denying conspiracy stuff and Covid conspiracies, and disinformation, fully buying into the Fox News, OAN kind of line,” his grandson, Klint Ludwig, told the Star. “I feel like it’s really further radicalized him in a lot of ways.”

And how has Fox covered this shooting? Media Matters reports that between the day of Yarl’s shooting and Tuesday Fox had spent a whopping 13 minutes covering the violent incident. The only prime-time coverage, Media Matters notes, came while Tucker Carlson downplayed the shooting and used it to somehow attack the Biden administration. The figures are especially rich given Fox is ostensibly so “tough on crime”—but apparently not for the vicious acts it helped incite in the first place.

Republicans Really Want to Avoid Talking About Abortion

Top members of the Republican Party, including the 2024 front-runner, are seemingly reversing course on abortion.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Republicans seem to be getting exactly what they want on abortion, and yet suddenly none of the party’s top members want to talk about it.

In the past few weeks alone, a Texas judge ruled that mifepristone, one of the medications used to induce an abortion, had been improperly approved by the FDA and should be pulled from the market. A chaotic battle over access to the drug is now playing out in the courts. Meanwhile, under cover of night, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law banning abortion after six weeks—before most people know they are pregnant.

Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP 2024 presidential nomination and the man primarily responsible for Roe v. Wade being overturned, has not commented publicly on any of it.

President Donald J. Trump believes that the Supreme Court, led by the three Justices which he supported, got it right when they ruled this is an issue that should be decided at the State level,” a Trump campaign spokesman said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Trump has repeatedly touted himself as “the most pro-life president” ever, and yet now he’s evading the issue. His campaign refused to answer questions about what policies he would support if reelected. Other top Republicans have similarly changed their tune when it comes to abortion.

In January, the Republican National Convention urged the party to “go on offense” against abortion rights and pass new restrictions, including six-week bans. But now, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has begun telling candidates to back a 15-week ban instead. According to the Post, she doesn’t believe the six-week bans are popular or helpful to the GOP (she’s right). And even 15-week bans are tricky: Last year, when Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a federal 15-week abortion ban just before the midterms, many of his colleagues slammed the move. The bill never made it to the Senate floor.

After the initial mifepristone ruling, only a handful of Republicans reacted, most of whom gave mealy-mouthed answers that sought to deflect attention onto other issues. Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley has generally adopted a waffly stance designed not to alienate anyone. She maintains she is “pro-life” but doesn’t “judge anyone who is pro-choice.” Another candidate, Tim Scott, struggled to form a coherent sentence about abortion rights last week but ultimately said he supports a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks and would consider a ban at 15 weeks.

Simply put, abortion wins elections. Every time an abortion-related issue has been on the ballot, the people vote in favor of protecting reproductive rights, not taking them away. Republicans must know this, but they don’t want to alienate the one-third of Americans who still oppose abortion rights. So rather than address the issue, they’re burying their heads in the sand.

Florida Republicans Pass Bill Allowing Trans Kids to Be Removed From Their Families

This is just the latest anti-trans bill passed in the state, but it’s among the most dangerous.


Florida’s House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would let the state take transgender minors away from their families if they are receiving gender-affirming care.

The measure passed by a vote of 82–31. A previous version of the bill passed the Senate earlier this month by a vote of 27–12, and the amended version now goes back to the other chamber for a final vote. Governor Ron DeSantis has previously expressed support for the bill and will likely sign it into law if it passes.

If it becomes law, the bill will allow the state to take custody of a child if they have been “subjected to or [are] threatened with being subjected to” gender-affirming care, which includes puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy. Florida courts could modify custody agreements from a different state if the minor is likely to receive gender-affirming care in that second state. The text refers to gender-affirming care as “sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures” and qualifies this care as a form of “physical harm.”

Medical facilities would have to give the state Department of Health a signed attestation that they neither provide gender-affirming care to patients nor refer people to providers that do. Their medical license renewal is contingent upon sending in this attestation. Medicaid funds could not be used to pay for gender-affirming care, even though the majority of people do not use Medicaid to pay for such treatments.

Minors who have already begun transitioning will be allowed to continue to do so, but they are no longer allowed to receive care via telehealth, including for prescriptions. Their doctors have to tell them about the “risks” of gender-affirming care, and patients will have to sign an informed consent form, which the ACLU has pointed out often contains misinformation. Doctors who violate any of these new rules could be charged with a felony.

“We’re supposed to be working to keep Floridians healthy, safe, and prosperous. We are not supposed to be here to pass ambiguous bills and take away a child’s ability to be healthy and safe,” said Democrat Rita Harris during the debate.

“Florida ranks fortieth in health care for children. You want to protect children? … And yet here we are, taking away health care from children.”

Republicans across the country have introduced bills targeting gender-affirming care, insisting that by doing so, they are protecting children. Instead, lawmakers are criminalizing LGBTQ people of all ages and putting them at risk of real harm.

And Florida seems to be leading the charge. Republicans have introduced bill after bill targeting LGBTQ people and openly admitted their goal is to erase the community from existence. A little more than an hour earlier, the House passed a bill banning drag performances, which heads to DeSantis’s desk.

House GOP’s Debt Ceiling “Plan” Calls for Medicaid and SNAP Work Requirements

The Republican proposal would fail at addressing the debt but would succeed in making people’s lives worse in more ways than one.

Kevin McCarthy
Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Republicans have introduced a debt ceiling plan that really just increases social, environmental, and financial costs.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy revealed a GOP debt ceiling bill that would instate work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps, reduce funding for the Internal Revenue Service, repeal green energy programs, and block President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. 

The bill is not even guaranteed to pass the Republican-controlled House and has little chance of passing the Senate. But McCarthy’s bill is less about getting something done than trying to compel Democrats to join Republicans’ push to cut spending on services essential to hundreds of millions of people in this country.

On Medicaid, Republicans want recipients to fulfill certain income and work thresholds. If they don’t, states could kick them off their health insurance plans. A Congressional Budget Office report estimated that Medicaid work requirements would cause two million people to lose health coverage.

Republicans also want work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Adults without children must fulfill work requirements up to the age of 56, overturning current law that has the threshold at age 49. Not only are such cuts punitive in nature, but they effectively leave people more vulnerable to precarity. The less we support people preemptively, the higher the costs will be if they fall through the cracks.

On the proposed IRS cuts, the only thing conservatives would be “saving” is bloated tax evaders. A CBO analysis found that the IRS program would in fact reduce the deficit by $120 billion over the next decade (as in, the Republican proposal would add to the deficit).

The proposal also calls to repeal numerous green-related provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, like tax credits for electric vehicles. And as we have seen, the more slowly we transition from fossil fuels to a greener economy, the more climate disaster we will face and, consequently, the more astronomical the human and financial cost will be. The conservative insistence on appeasing the fossil fuel industry and obstructing climate-friendly solutions is not only deeply crooked but fiscally irresponsible.

Such a dynamic is just as pressing when considering that the bill blocks Biden’s plan to relieve 43 million people from crippling student debt. These are millions of working people who are trying their best to bloom and live more whole and productive lives but are hindered by the burden of such soulless debt. In the short term, Republicans may frame their ideas as cost-saving, but in reality, such measures will increase medium- and long-term costs on society.

All this to say, the GOP proposal is unserious on a few counts. For one, it is self-evidently not concerned with coming to fruition; the primary conservative goal is to egg Biden and Democrats on to support cuts, lest the government default. But moreover, the bill is not about “saving” at all; it encourages money to be stolen from the government by tax-evading elites who flout the IRS, it promotes fiscal irresponsibility by way of encouraging wasteful and toxic fossil fuel reliance, and it further welcomes future social and economic costs by ways of leaving—and pressing—a boot on millions of people.

Florida Passes Anti-Drag Ban So Extreme It Could Ban All Pride Parades

The bill is so vaguely worded that Pride organizers are already worried about celebrations this year.

Sean Drakes/Getty Images
Celebrated drag personality and Palace ambassador Tiffany Fantasia co-hosts the fifteenth annual Miami Beach Pride Parade, wearing a custom dress that declares “Drag Is Not a Crime,” on April 16.

Florida passed a bill Wednesday that could stop all Pride parades and festivals in the state.

The measure passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 82–32 and is now headed to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law. The bill passed the Senate last week by a vote of 28–12.

If it becomes law, the measure would prohibit government entities and employees from issuing permits to organizations that may hold “adult live performances” in the presence of minors. Anyone that does can be charged with a misdemeanor.

The measure would also ban businesses from allowing minors to attend an “adult live performance,” which is defined as a show performed in front of a live audience that “depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities … lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts.” Any business that breaks this law will face a fine of up to $10,000 and could lose its license.

“This bill is a blatant attack on free expression, parental rights, and choice,” said Democratic Representative Lavon Bracy Davis. “What are you afraid of? What is it about drag queens that terrify you? Pray tell, why are we censoring artistic expression?”

“I know this chamber has shown quite the concern for impersonation. Well right now, we are impersonating democracy.”

Democrat Fentrice Driskell pointed out that Florida already has laws in place to protect children from being exposed to obscene content, the main argument from the bill’s backers. “Even though the plain text of the bill may not say ‘drag’ ... there’s a greater context happening here, and we all know it,” she said.

Her colleague Daryl Campbell warned that Republicans may currently be targeting the LGBTQ community. But “for those watching, they will come after you when it’s in their interest.”

If DeSantis signs the bill into law, it will go into effect immediately, a little more than a month before Pride Month begins in June. Festivals such as St. Pete Pride in St. Petersburg, the state’s largest Pride celebration, could lose their permits.

The measure is so vaguely worded that Pride organizers in the state have already expressed concern. “We do believe that this might be the last Pride as you know it,” Patrick Gevas, one of the organizers of Miami Beach Pride, told NBC 6.

Critics have slammed the bill as being overly broad, which could have unintended consequences. Republicans backing it have admitted that the measure would prevent performances of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the musical Hair.

But the measure will also have an intended consequence: “erasing” LGBTQ people from existence. Florida Republican Representative Randy Fine said last week that if passing the bill “means erasing a community because you have to target children, then, damn right, we ought to do it!”

The ACLU slammed the bill when it first passed the Senate as “an extreme governmental overreach of power.” “This is not democracy. This is not freedom,” the group said in a statement.

Florida is the latest state to advance a (vaguely worded, extreme) measure attacking drag performances, which have become a particular target for the right wing in recent years. In March, Tennessee became the first state to pass a law banning drag performances, but the measure was blocked by a judge before it could go into effect on the grounds that it was overly broad and violated free speech rights.

DeSantis has also set his sights on drag performances, revoking the liquor licenses for multiple businesses that have hosted drag shows—even though undercover agents sent to one show “did not witness any lewd acts.”

The Latest Wrinkle in Republicans’ Quest to Ban the Abortion Pill

A new lawsuit against the FDA seeks to preserve access to the pill, regardless of what the lower courts have said.

Probal Rashid/LightRocket/Getty Images

The maker of the generic version of the abortion pill mifepristone sued the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday in an effort to keep the drug accessible nationwide.

A complicated legal battle over mifepristone is playing out in the U.S. judicial system. A Texas federal judge ruled two weeks ago that the drug, one of the medications used to induce an abortion, had been improperly approved by the FDA and should be yanked from the U.S. market. The Department of Justice appealed the decision, first to the Fifth Circuit Court, which only partially stayed the ruling. The Justice Department then appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which issued a temporary administrative stay.

The Fifth Circuit’s ruling, if upheld, will judicially nullify the Abbreviated New Drug Application, or ANDA, for the pills made by GenBioPro, which the FDA approved in 2019. GenBioPro says its pills are used in about two-thirds of the 500,000 medication abortions that happen in the United States each year.

GenBioPro sued the FDA for indicating in court filings that if the Supreme Court does not intervene, then the agency will abide by the lower rulings and pull GenBioPro’s drug from the market. The company argued that doing so would violate laws about the process for withdrawing a drug’s approval.

“In addition to the severe harm to GenBioPro’s commercial viability from suspension of its ANDA, catastrophic harm also results to members of the public, including doctors and patients, who have developed extensive reliance interests in the approval and availability of GenBioPro’s mifepristone,” the company said in the lawsuit.

GenBioPro also said that it has repeatedly asked the FDA for assurances that its approval status will be protected, but the FDA has not responded. “Because of the FDA decision and the enforcement threat and uncertainty it has created, GenBioPro is suffering irreparable financial and reputational harm, severely threatening its core business model and commercial viability,” GenBioPro said.

The GenBioPro lawsuit is an attempt to keep mifepristone available, regardless of whether the Supreme Court decides to stay or uphold the lower court rulings. The nation’s high court is expected to issue a decision Wednesday.

Medication abortions make up more than half of all abortions performed in the United States. These drugs can be ordered online and delivered via mail, making them a key resource for people who live in states that have cracked down on abortion access since Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer.

Elise Stefanik Likes to Talk About Crime Until It Happens in Her Own District

A 20-year-old woman was shot and killed after her friend turned into the wrong driveway. That was in Republican Representative Elise Stefanik’s district.

Elise Stefanik
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

On Saturday night, a group of friends had driven up the wrong driveway as they were searching for another friend’s house. And as they turned their vehicles around, the owner of the home shot at them.

The 65-year-old homeowner, Kevin Monahan, fired two shots and killed 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis, authorities said—for the simple offense of being in the passenger seat of a vehicle that pulled into a wrong driveway before promptly turning around. The violent shooting occurred in upstate New York, in the district represented by Republican Representative Elise Stefanik.

On Tuesday, Stefanik tweeted a Notes-app-style statement that her “heart breaks for the tragedy of the loss of Kaylin Gillis’ young life” and that she fully supports efforts “to ensure justice is served.” But within the hour, Stefanik went back to her regularly scheduled programming of whipping up outrage about crime in New York City.

Stefanik has spent much of her career fearmongering about crime, all the more so amid the Manhattan district attorney’s indictment of twice-impeached former President Donald Trump. She, along with other Republicans, has attempted to discredit Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg by trying to frame New York City as a bastion of crime.

Stefanik, not even a member of the House Judiciary Committee, was invited to join a hearing Monday that falsely framed New York as awash in crime. The New York City crime narrative is a popular one, but as witnesses in the hearing pointed out, New York City is safer than many of the places House Republicans leading the smear campaign come from.

The campaign has been all the more vacuous given that Republicans have put forth no actual solutions to crime that may be taking place, other than building more jails and throwing more people in them. Seldom have they genuinely pursued a broader policy vision they pretend to care about, whether it be improving people’s mental health or combating social alienation.

Meanwhile, Stefanik and other Republicans have blocked any attempt to prevent shootings like the one in her district or in Kansas City, Missouri, where 16-year-old Ralph Yarl was shot after accidentally ringing the wrong doorbell. After the Nashville school shooting last month, Stefanik called the move for gun control “overly political.” Never mind that more than 160 mass shootings have taken place just this year in America.

Republicans have made it easier, again and again, to access guns in a country ravaged by mass shootings. They have fomented social distrust, in a society where hate and divisiveness have become as American as apple pie.

And in Stefanik’s weak-hearted chicanery, she embodies precisely how hollow it all is. Instead of confronting why our society has produced such anger and why that anger is allowed to so easily access weapons of killing, Stefanik and Republicans are instead inflaming that anger and making sure it is as armed as possible.

Florida Expands “Don’t Say Gay” Law Through High School

The law bans classroom discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity.

David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Florida’s Board of Education voted Wednesday to dramatically expand the state’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law through high school.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed the original law, officially named the Parental Rights in Education law, in March 2022. The law bans schools from teaching students in kindergarten through third grade about sexual orientation or gender identity, arguing that those topics are not age- or developmentally appropriate.

The amendment approved Wednesday expands that ban. Instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity was originally banned from pre-kindergarten to third grade. Now, “for Grades 4 through 12, instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited unless such instruction is either expressly required by state academic standards … or is part of a reproductive health course or health lesson,” the amendment states.

Teachers who provide such instruction anyway risk losing their teaching license. Parents can also decide to remove their student from any health classes.

“It was NEVER, EVER, EVER about ‘protecting children,’” warned former Democratic state Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, ahead of the vote.

The LGBTQ rights group Equality Florida slammed the measure after it was passed. “The lust for government censorship is insatiable,” the group said.

The proposal will go into effect after a procedural notice period, which lasts about a month, an Education Department spokesperson told the AP.

Florida is cracking down on discourse around sexuality and gender identity, often in ways that are overly broad and extreme. A Republican representative introduced a bill in February that would bar any kind of sex education in public schools until sixth grade, and then allow abstinence-only sex ed in the grades after. The bill, which passed the House and is in the Senate, is so vague that it would also prohibit younger students from discussing their periods with school officials.

DeSantis is widely expected to announce a 2024 presidential run, and he has made clear he is waging war on anything he deems “woke.” He’s been in a weird legal battle with Disney World for a year, since the company’s then chairman condemned the “Don’t Say Gay” law. He has promised to defund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on college campuses; limited what can be taught or read in schools; and had his allies force out the president of a liberally minded college.