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Newsletter: A victory for LGBTQ rights

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The Supreme Court rules that a landmark civil rights law extends to LGBTQ employees.

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A Victory for LGBTQ Rights

In a 6-3 ruling that came as a shock to many, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ employees from workplace discrimination nationwide. Hailed as one of the most far-reaching civil rights advances in decades, it marked a victory for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer workers, who until now lacked legal protection in more than half the states.

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The justices said the law’s ban on job discrimination on the basis of “sex” means that firing employees or not hiring them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal. Previously, Title VII of the law was most often used to prevent workplace discrimination against women.

The biggest surprise came from who wrote for the majority — Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who was appointed by President Trump — with the backing of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., as both joined with the court’s liberal justices for the ruling.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, called the ruling “a momentous step forward for our country.”

Trump, whose administration has moved aggressively to curtail transgender rights, said he had read the decision and found it to be “very powerful.... Some people were surprised. But they’ve ruled and we live with their decision.”

Monday saw surprising setbacks for conservatives on two other fronts: The court turned down a series of 2nd Amendment appeals in which gun rights advocates urged the court to uphold a right to carry a weapon in public. And the justices turned away Trump’s challenge to a California “sanctuary” law that limits police from aiding federal agents who seek to take custody of immigrants.

The defeats for Trump, especially those involving LGBTQ rights and immigration, showed the conservative-majority court backing a mainstream movement toward expanding equality in America, leaving the president in a shrinking minority of people digging in their heels for the status quo.

Making matters worse for Trump: Conservative activists slammed his first court appointee.

No More ‘Respectability Politics’

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As demonstrations have erupted across the country in response to George Floyd’s killing in police custody May 25, many Black Americans have reacted in ways that reflect overlapping, yet distinctive, generational experiences and perspectives.

Black activism is not monolithic. But some differences among age groups, activists and community leaders say, have centered on younger protesters rejecting “respectability politics” — the idea that Black Americans should wear their Sunday best and adopt an attitude more mollifying than militant in order to gain equal rights — and challenging the belief that simply sitting at the table with those in power will effect change.

“This is a Third Reconstruction moment,” 30-year-old Pastor Eddie Anderson said, alluding to two previous periods in which Black people strove to combat white supremacy: the decade after the Civil War and the civil rights era of the 1950s and ’60s. “So let’s lean into the moment and not be so stuck to tradition that we stagnate the movement.”

More About Race in America

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— More than two decades after affirmative action was outlawed at public campuses, University of California regents on Monday unanimously supported the repeal of Proposition 209. Voters may get the chance to decide the 1996 state initiative’s future in November.

— For teen activists, defunding school police has been a decade in the making, as groups like the Los Angeles teachers union announce support for removing the Los Angeles School Police Department.

— The feeling is everywhere: A cultural shift over racial justice and inequality is happening. Here are seven major changes that have emerged amid the national uprising.

Police unions have become a target of labor activists who see them as blocking reform as the U.S. labor movement faces questions about what its relationship should be with hundreds of thousands of police officers.

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— The Times interviewed nearly two dozen Black entertainment industry professionals, spanning directors, producers, writers, designers, agents and executives. They discussed systemic racism in Hollywood, what needs to change and their frustration with years of talk and little action.

A New National COVID-19 Hot Spot

On Friday night, like nearly every other weekend for the past month, the bars and nightclubs in downtown Scottsdale were packed. Dance floors were jammed. Lines to get in stretched for blocks. And almost nobody wore masks or gloves.

When Arizona’s governor lifted the state’s stay-at-home order May 15, giving the green light for much of the state’s economy to restart, he said residents had the right and responsibility to gauge the risks posed by the novel coronavirus and to act accordingly.

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Now, as confirmed cases of COVID-19 soar here, making Arizona a national hot spot for new infections, it’s becoming clear that many residents chose to go back to life as normal as if nothing had changed. The state recorded 7,121 new cases between May 31 and June 6 — a 54% increase over the previous week, and has also seen a spike in hospitalizations.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— U.S. regulators have revoked emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, the antimalarial drugs promoted by Trump, for treating COVID-19.

— Los Angeles County public health officials visited roughly 2,000 restaurants over the weekend and found that half of them were not in compliance with the county’s guidelines.

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— The vast majority of classes at UCLA this fall will be virtual, with only a small percentage offered on campus.

A Plea Deal in a Notorious Case

The former police officer accused of terrorizing California during a series of rapes and killings attributed to the Golden State Killer is expected to plead guilty this month in a deal that will spare him the death penalty, according to multiple sources.

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 74, is set to enter a guilty plea to 13 murders and kidnapping charges from as many rapes in a yet-to-be determined Sacramento County courtroom on June 29. The crimes occurred during the 1970s and ‘80s.

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Many sources who were notified about the legal arrangement spoke on condition of anonymity because they were asked to not disclose the deal to the media. Nor are any legal motions outlining the plea deal required to be filed in court before June 29.

The agreement is a significant development in a criminal saga that could have lasted years longer if it had gone to trial but will now lack a public accounting of the evidence collected — and the missteps committed — by detectives over the course of the investigation.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In June 1978, Six Flags Magic Mountain debuted a new roller coaster that was said to be the fastest and the tallest in the world: Colossus.

According to a June 16, 1978, story in The Times, the coaster featured 9,203 feet of track with two drops of more than 100 feet. The cars carried passengers at speeds of more than 60 mph and it was the first wooden roller coaster built in Southern California in 30 years.

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Six months after opening, a 20-year-old woman was ejected and killed. The ride remained open, but it underwent several upgrades and closures over the years. Colossus was officially retired in 2014, long eclipsed by faster, taller, newer roller coasters.

Magic Mountain's Colossus
When it was built in 1978, Magic Mountain’s Colossus was billed as the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster.
(Joe Kennedy / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— Authorities have vowed to conduct a deeper probe of the death of Robert Fuller, who was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale. The attorney general has also joined the investigation.

— A UC Berkeley study released Monday found that California prosecutors often routinely strike Black and Latino prospective jurors and that appellate courts have failed to rein in the practice.

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— The orchards at the old town of Manzanar have faced drought, flooding, wildfires, pests, marauding elk and trespassers armed with chain saws. Now, the site of the nation’s most famous internment camp faces new threats brought by the coronavirus.

— The City Council of Fort Bragg, a small Northern California city named after Braxton Bragg, a Confederate Army general and slave owner, is pondering putting a town name change on the November ballot.

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NATION-WORLD

North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office building just inside its border with the South in an act that sharply raises tensions on the Korean Peninsula amid deadlocked nuclear diplomacy with the United States.

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— Trump said that his former national security adviser John Bolton could face a “criminal problem” if he doesn’t halt plans to publish a new book that describes scattershot, sometimes dangerous decision-making by a president focused only on getting reelected.

— The director of U.S.-funded Voice of America and her deputy resigned Monday following recent clashes with the Trump administration that have sparked fears for its independence.

— A Russian court has sentenced an American businessman and former U.S. Marine to 16 years in prison on spying charges. U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo denounced the man’s treatment by Russian authorities as “appalling.”

— Under pressure from police, the French government has backed away from a ban on chokeholds during arrests.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— The 2021 Oscars have been postponed two months to April 25 because of coronavirus concerns. Also pushed back: the long-delayed opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has been moved to April 30, 2021.

“Urbano” is frequently attached to the popular Latin trap, reggaeton and dembow genres, all influenced by hip-hop. As the music industry rethinks its relationship to Black artists, the term has come under scrutiny.

White celebrities are rushing to amplify Black Lives Matter. The results are mixed to embarrassing, but it’s no excuse to stay silent, writes culture columnist Mary McNamara.

Compiled just for you: The Emmy-contending original songs playlist for 2020.

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BUSINESS

— Companies like Tesla won’t report coronavirus cases. Why aren’t the numbers public? Experts say the law is not so clear cut.

24 Hour Fitness has filed for bankruptcy. The company said it could not keep up with debt payments under pandemic conditions and would be closing 130 gyms.

SPORTS

— NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he supports and encourages teams to sign quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He also welcomed the thought of having Kaepernick’s voice to guide the league in making better decisions concerning what could be done in communities.

— Days after Commissioner Rob Manfred guaranteed there would be a 2020 season, Major League Baseball suggested it might cancel the season entirely. Columnist Bill Plaschke thinks MLB owners bear the brunt of the blame for the shameful state of negotiations with players.

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OPINION

— In the midst of a racial reckoning, columnist Frank Shyong wonders: What does whiteness mean?

— The Supreme Court has offered LGBTQ Americans new protections, but Black Americans are still fighting for theirs. Remember that LGBTQ rights wouldn’t exist without the violent, bloody and righteous riots of the past, writes Brian Boyle.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— “How Utah‘s tech industry tried to disrupt coronavirus testing.” (The New Yorker)

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Mary Trump, President Trump’s niece, is set to publish a tell-all book this summer. (Daily Beast)

ONLY IN L.A.

HBO’s “Insecure” focuses on the lives of Issa, Molly, Tiffany and Kelli, but one of the show’s most important — and perhaps commanding — characters is the city of Los Angeles. Specifically, South L.A. where creator Issa Rae and executive producer Prentice Penny are from. “Issa is like an encyclopedia of Inglewood, she knows so many places already, so that is so useful,” producer Amy Aniobi says. “Unlike Hollywood, a lot of people aren’t used to the streets being shut down or the coffee shop just not being open [during filming] today,” she adds. “Season 1 they were like, ‘You’re shooting what for who? Why can’t I go get coffee?’ Now, people know the show so it’s like, ‘Oh, can I be in it?’

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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