LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Just two days after being named host of the Academy Awards, Kevin Hart has stepped down following an outcry over past homophobic tweets by the comedian.
Capping a swift fallout, Hart wrote on Twitter just after 9 p.m. Thursday that he was withdrawing as Oscars host because he didn’t want to be a distraction.
I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's….this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.
Hart stepped aside just about an hour after refusing to apologize for tweets that resurfaced after he was announced as Oscars host on Tuesday. In a video on Instagram, Hart said the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences gave him an ultimatum: apologize or “we’re going to have to move on and find another host.”
“I chose to pass on the apology,” Hart said. “The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times.”
Hart has since deleted some of the anti-gay tweets, mostly dated from 2009-2011. But they had already been screen-captured and been shared online. In 2011, he wrote in a since-deleted tweet: “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay.”
In an earlier post Thursday, Hart wrote on Instagram that critics should “stop being negative” about his earlier anti-gay remarks.
“I’m almost 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve? I don’t know what to tell you,” said Hart, who added, in all-caps: “I love everybody.”
Hart’s attitudes about homosexuality were also a well-known part of his stand-up act. In the 2010 special “Seriously Funny,” he said “one of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay.”
(CBS News) — Election Night 2018 turned out to be a night of firsts — with groundbreaking victories for Native American, Muslim, black, gay and female candidates.
The midterms seemed poised to shake things up even before results came in: A record number of women were on the ballot, and there were races across the country that looked likely to diversify the faces in Congress and statehouses. In the end, these are the winners who ended up making history:
Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim congresswomen
Two Democratic candidates will become the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. Tlaib, who ran unopposed to represent Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, will become the first Palestinian-American congresswoman. Omar, a former refugee, will be the first Somali-American congresswoman after winning the race for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.
Jared Polis, the first openly gay male governor
Polis won the race for Colorado governor and will become the first openly gay manto claim a governor’s mansion anywhere in America. Polis is also the state’s first Jewish governor.
Only one openly LGBT politician has ever been elected governor before: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who identifies as bisexual. Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey came out as gay only after announcing he would resign in 2004.
Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland, the first Native American congresswomen
Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe in New Mexico, will be one of the first two Native American women to serve in the House of Representatives. Davids, who won the race for Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, is a first in two ways: Besides being Native American, she’ll also be the first lesbian congresswoman from Kansas. And she’s a former MMA fighter, as well.
Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee’s first female senator
A Republican who served in the House will become the first woman to represent Tennessee in the Senate. Ironically, Blackburn rose to wider attention when pop star Taylor Swift broke her political silence and encouraged fans to support Democratic challenger Phil Bredesen. But Blackburn prevailed with nearly 55 percent of the vote.
Janet Mills, Maine’s first female governor
After nearly eight years of Maine being run by controversial Republican Gov. Paul LePage — who has received national notoriety for racially charged comments and accusations of abuse of power — the state’s voters replaced him with its first woman governor. Mills, a Democrat, previously served as Maine’s attorney general.
Today, we are powerful. There are only a few hours left to get out the vote. Go #vote for progressive candidates who will fight for equity & justice. Vote for activist leaders who will work in and with community. Vote, because this is your democracy & your voice matters.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman in Congress
Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became an overnight sensation this summer after her upset primary defeat of Rep. Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent who was the No. 4 Democrat in the House. Election Night made Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in New York’s 14th Congressional District official. When she’s sworn in, she’ll be the youngest women to ever serve in Congress.
The Hawkeye State has never sent a woman to the House — until now. Finkenauer, a 29-year-old Democrat who served two terms as a state representative, defeated Republican incumbent Rod Blum. And although she has some age on Ocasio-Cortez — she’s turning 30 in December — Finkenauer is still one of the youngest people ever elected to the House.
Tonight we as Iowans made clear who we are. Tonight, Iowa rejected fear and division, and tonight, Iowa proved we step up for our neighbors. I truly believe hope is the reason we got this far – and hope is the reason we still have work to do. https://t.co/HYa19cCosT
The record-breaking number of women running led to another historic moment. With more than 90 women elected to the House as of early Wednesday morning, this election led to more women winning House seats than in any election in American history.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Democratic newcomer Sharice Davids has defeated incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas to become the nation’s first LGBT Native American in Congress.
The 38-year-old activist, lawyer and political newcomer already garnered national attention as part of a crop of diverse Democratic candidates.
Yoder was endorsed by President Donald Trump, but the suburban Kansas City district voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. The district is a mix of fast-growing bedroom communities, established suburbs and poorer city neighborhoods.
Davids emerged from a six-person Democratic primary and energized voters and Democratic donors by emphasizing her biography. Her history includes mixed martial arts fights.
She’s a member of the Wisconsin-based Ho-Chunk Nation and was raised by a single mother who served in the Army and worked for the U.S. Postal Service.
DALLAS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Texas same-sex couple both wanted to carry their baby and through a special type of in vitro fertilization they were able to. Ashleigh and Bliss Coulter call 5-month-old Stetson their miracle baby.
“The way that Mr. Stetson came into this world was pretty special,” Ashleigh said.
When Ashleigh and Bliss married, they knew they wanted kids and through what’s called “Effortless IVF” they were both able to carry their son.
Ashleigh and Bliss Coulter call 5-month-old Stetson their miracle baby (Coulter family)
“We gave it a try and it was very, very successful,” Bliss said.
“This represents the first time that two women have both physically carried their child together,” fertility specialist Dr. Kathy Doody of The Center for Assisted Reproduction said.
Kathy and her husband, Dr. Kevin Doody made it happen using Bliss’ eggs and sperm from a donor.
“She was so confident when she was saying that they can do it,” Ashleigh said. “I think that was surprising to us but also exciting.”
Through Effortless IVF, instead of placing the sperm and eggs into incubators, they go into an INVOcell. This device is then placed in the body for five days where the egg fertilizes and early embryo development begins.
In the Coluter’s case, after five days, Bliss had the INVOcell removed. The embryos were frozen and then one was transferred to Ashleigh. She carried their baby to term.
The Coulter family
“This is a revolutionary type of IVF,” Kevin said. “It’s more accessible, it’s more affordable and it’s truly more natural.”
He said it’s received mixed feelings from the medical community.
“I think many have been excited about the thought but Kevin is correct, doctors in general, we don’t like change so I think that their ability to share their story is phenomenal,” Kathy said.
Ashleigh and Bliss said they feel blessed to be able to share this experience together and more children are in their future.
“You know your whole life changes obviously with anybody when they have a baby so leaning on your partner I think is really, really important and I definitely think it brought us closer together,” Ashleigh said.
Even though the Coulters were the Doody’s first same sex couple to go through Effortless IVF, they’ve performed the process for around 200 heterosexual couples.
They said the process typically costs about half as much as traditional IVF.
(CNN) — Caitlyn Jenner says she made a “mistake” in thinking she could work with President Donald Trump to benefit the LGBTQ community and is now no longer a Trump supporter.
In a Washington Post op-ed published Thursday, Jenner said at first she believed she could work with Trump and Republicans to change the party’s stance on LGBQT issues.
“Sadly, I was wrong,” Jenner wrote, adding, “The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president.”
She argued that Trump “has shown no regard for an already marginalized and struggling community.”
“Believing that I could work with Trump and his administration to support our community was a mistake,” Jenner wrote.
She pointed to a New York Times report that the Department of Health and Human Services has a draft proposal to define gender under Title IX as solely male or female at birth, with no room for change.
Jenner said her hope in Trump and Republicans was “misplaced” and that she “cannot support anyone who is working against our community.”
“I do not support Trump,” she wrote. “I must learn from my mistakes and move forward.”
Over three years ago, the famed US Olympian came out as transgender in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer. Jenner voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election and told E! in an interview Trump “would be very good for women’s issues.”
However, Jenner began criticizing the President after the Trump administration announced policies that rolled back some protections for the transgender community.
In March, the White House announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military, following Trump’s tweet on the topic.
That was about a year after Jenner visited the White House to meet with administration officials. “He’s not been doing a very good job, but it’s not over yet,” Jenner said in an interview with Variety at the time.
In October 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed Obama administration guidance and determined that the 1964 federal civil rights law does not protect transgender workers from employment discrimination.
And just a month into his presidency, the Trump administration withdrew Obama-era protections of transgender students in public schools that let people use the bathrooms and facilities that correspond with their gender identity.
(CNN) — Four years ago, Tim Cook became the first CEO of a major company to come out as gay. He says he’s happy about that distinction — and his decision.
“I’m very proud of it,” the Apple (AAPL) CEO told Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday in an exclusive interview for her program on CNN International and PBS. Being gay is “God’s greatest gift to me,” he said.
Cook came out on October 30, 2014. His sexual orientation had been widely rumored beforehand though he had not confirmed it publicly.
“I was public because I started to receive stories from kids who read online that I was gay,” he told Amanpour.
He said the emails and letters came from children who said they had been ostracized, bullied or abused because of their sexual orientation.
Cook said he is a private person but ultimately decided that he was being “selfish” by keeping quiet about his identity when he could help people by coming out.
“I needed to do something for them,” Cook said. He wanted to demonstrate to gay children that they “can be gay and still go on and do some big jobs in life.”
Cook said he was shocked that he was the first out CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He said he is glad other CEOs have come out since, although that wasn’t his goal.
Coming out has also helped Cook as a leader, he said.
“I learned what it was like to be a minority,” Cook told CNN. “The feeling of being in a minority gives you a level of empathy for other people who are not in the majority.”
Prejudicial comments have also given him a thick skin, Cook said.
“That turns out to be pretty beneficial from this role as well.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — LGBT leaders across the U.S. reacted with fury Monday to a report that the Trump administration is considering adoption of a new definition of gender that would effectively deny federal recognition and civil rights protections to transgender Americans.
“I feel very threatened, but I am absolutely resolute,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Rights, said at a news conference convened by more than a dozen activist leaders. “We will stand up and be resilient, and we will be here long after this administration is in the trash heap.”
The activist leaders, speaking amid posters reading “#Won’tBeErased”, later addressed a protest rally outside the White House.
On Sunday, The New York Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services was circulating a memo proposing that gender be defined as an immutable biological condition determined by a person’s sex organs at birth. The proposal would define sex as either male or female, and any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified through genetic testing, according to the Times’ account of the memo.
For LGBT-rights leaders, it’s the administration’s latest attack on transgender Americans. They also cite an attempt to ban them from military service; a memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions concluding that civil rights laws don’t protect transgender people from discrimination on the job; and the scrapping of Obama-era guidance encouraging school officials to let transgender students use school bathrooms that matched their gender identities.
President Donald Trump briefly addressed the latest controversy as he left the White House for a political trip to Houston, but left unclear how his administration plans to proceed.
“We have a lot of different concepts right now,” Trump said. “They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now — you know that as well as I do — and we’re looking at it very seriously.”
Trump added: “I’m protecting everybody.”
The Cabinet agency had acknowledged months ago that it was working to rewrite a federal rule that bars discrimination in health care based on “gender identity.” It cited a Texas-based federal judge’s opinion that the original rule went too far in concluding that discrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex discrimination, which is forbidden by civil rights laws.
The department said Monday it would not comment on “alleged leaked documents.” It did release a statement from Roger Severino, head of its Office for Civil Rights, saying his agency was reviewing the issue while abiding by the 2016 ruling from the Texas-based federal judge, Reed O’Connor.
LGBT activists, who pledged legal challenges if the reported memo leads to official policy, said several other courts had issued rulings contrary to O’Connor’s.
“For years, courts across the country have recognized that discriminating against someone because they are transgender is a form of sex discrimination, full stop,” said Diana Flynn, Lambda Legal’s litigation director. “If this administration wants to try and turn back the clock by moving ahead with its own legally frivolous and scientifically unsupportable definition of sex, we will be there to meet that challenge.”
Shannon Minter, a transgender attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, called the reported plan a “cynical political ploy to sow discord and energize a right-wing base” before the Nov. 6 election.
UCLA legal scholar Jocelyn Samuels, who ran the HHS civil rights office in the Obama administration, said the Trump administration would be going beyond established law if it adopted the policy in the memo.
“What they are saying is you do not get to decide your sex; it is the government that will decide your sex,” said Samuels.
Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a lawyer with Lambda Legal, said the proposed rule change appears to still be undergoing White House review. It would need to be signed off by the departments of Justice, Labor and Education, which are also involved with civil rights enforcement.
He said “the purpose of this rule is to erase transgender people from existence, to write them off from federal law, and to institute a definition that is contrary to case law, contrary to medical and scientific understanding, and contrary to the lived experience of transgender people.”
While social mores enter into the debate, medical and scientific experts have long recognized a condition called “gender dysphoria” — discomfort or distress caused by a discrepancy between the gender that a person identifies as and the gender at birth. Consequences can include severe depression. Treatment can range from sex-reassignment surgery and hormones to people changing their outward appearance by adopting a different hairstyle or clothing.
According to an estimate by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, there are about 1.4 million transgender adults in the United States.