- The day before her borough’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, Miss Staten Island Madison L’Insalata publicly came out as bisexual to several news outlets.
- She revealed her plan to wear rainbow colors while marching in the parade, especially because the Pride Center of Staten Island was not allowed to march.
- Shortly after this news broke, a parade organizer informed L’Insalata that she could not march in Sunday’s event, citing safety concerns as the reason.
- The Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers have been widely criticized for their exclusivity of LGBTQ groups.
- Miss Staten Island repped her rainbow gear from the sidelines regardless of her ban.
Banned from Parade
As Staten Islanders held their annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday, there were several noticeable absences among the marchers—Miss Staten Island and anybody openly representing the LGBTQ community. Madison L’Insalata, who holds the pageant title, was confined to the sidelines after she came out as bisexual.
L’Insalata, 23, revealed her sexual orientation to The New York Post and the Staten Island Advance over the weekend. She also told the outlets about her plan to wear rainbow gear at the parade as a symbol of LGBTQ pride. Her motives stemmed from the parade organizers’ decision to deny the Pride Center of Staten Island’s from participating in the parade, a rejection that has occurred repeatedly in past years.
“I thought this might be a good time to really make a statement and take a stand,” L’Insalata told ABC7. “I wanted to announce that I would be marching in the parade with rainbow colors and showing and coming out and saying that I was bi because I wanted people to see the colors.”
“I wanted there to be discussion and I wanted people to talk, and I wanted to change,” she added.
Shortly after the news outlets published her public coming out on Saturday, L’Insalata received a call from the director of Miss Staten Island Scholarship Pageants, Jim Smith. He had heard from parade organizer Larry Cummings, who said that L’Insalata and another pageant queen who had supported her were not allowed to march.
“I was stunned by the whole thing,” Smith told CBS New York. “I wasn’t prepared. He just said we’re worried about her safety, like he’s doing us a favor.”
L’Insalata didn’t fully believe the decision was made for her security.
“It seems that it might have more to do with me coming out as bi, and my wearing my rainbow scarf that I have here, and them not being okay with that,” L’Insalata told ABC7.
The pageant queen wasn’t the only one barred because of her colorful accessories. City Councilman Joseph Borelli (R) said he was physically blocked from marching and told he could not participate due to the rainbow-flag pin he was wearing.
“They called the police on me,” Borelli told the Staten Island Advance. “I spoke to a sergeant and was not going to make the life of our cops more complicated to prove a point. …I didn’t come with it looking for an argument; my friends handed a pin to me. I really didn’t think it was a big affront to the Irish.”
L’Insalata, for her part, still showed up to wear her rainbow accessories on the side of Sunday’s parade.
“I just realized that even if I wasn’t going to be allowed to march, I could still make a difference,” L’Insalata told the Washington Post. “And I think that I still sparked conversation.”
Criticized For Exclusion
Staten Island’s is the only St. Patrick Day parade in the city that still bans LGBTQ groups from participating.
“Here’s the deal, it’s a non-sexual identification parade and that’s that, no, they are not marching,” Cummings told the Staten Island Advance earlier this year when asked why the Pride Center was denied.
“Don’t try to keep asking a million friggin’ questions, OK?” Cummings added when asked further questions on the matter.
Cummings and the other organizers have faced repeated backlash for their exclusivity. Several politicians refused to participate in the Staten Island parade after the decision to ban the Pride Center was revealed. Other pageant winners in the area boycotted the parade due to the ban.
A petition to remove Cummings from his position emerged over the weekend and had gained over 5,700 signatures by Tuesday morning. L’Insalata, however, doesn’t think this is the best move.
“A lot of people just want him totally removed, and the thing is, he was trying to shut me and the rest of the LGBTQ community out. He wasn’t trying to have a discussion,” she told NBC. “If I do the same thing, and if other people do the same thing by pushing him out, I don’t think that anything gets accomplished.”
See what others are saying: (CBS) (Washington Post) (NBC)
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.
See what others are saying: (New York Post) (The Daily Mail) (Insider)
Biden Administration Orders ICE To Halt Workplace Raids
The Department of Homeland Security will now focus on targeting employers who exploit undocumented workers, instead of carrying out raids that dissuade those workers from reporting labor violations.
DHS Reverses Worksite Raid Policy
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop workplace raids.
The move marks a reversal from Trump administration policies that have been strongly criticized by immigration activists who argue the efforts created fear in immigrant communities and dissuaded them from reporting labor violations or exploitative employment practices.
In addition to stopping the raids, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a memo that the administration will refocus enforcement efforts to instead target “employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions.”
Mayorkas added that the immigration agencies housed in DHS will have the next 60 days to identify harmful existing policies and come up with new ones that provide better deportation protections for workers who report their employers.
In the Tuesday memo, the secretary argued that shift of focus will “reduce the demand for illegal employment by delivering more severe consequences to exploitative employers” and “increase the willingness of workers to report violations of law by exploitative employers and cooperate in employment and labor standards investigation.”
Labor Market Implications
The new policy comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a critical labor shortage, including in many sectors that rely on immigrant labor.
Some companies that use undocumented workers pay them wages that are far below the market rate, which is not only exploitative but also undercuts competitors.
According to Mayorkas, the pivot to employer-based enforcement will help protect American businesses.
“By exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, the unscrupulous employers create an unfair labor market,” he said in the memo. “They also unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.”
It is currently unclear how effective the new efforts will be, but historical precedent does not paint an optimistic picture.
The Biden administration’s efforts closely mirror a similar move by the Obama administration, which attempted to reverse workplace raids authorized under President George W. Bush by targetting those who employ undocumented workers rather than the workers themselves.
That effort, however, still led to thousands of undocumented workers being fired.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (ABC News)
Mom Charged for Hosting Secret Teen Parties, Pressuring Kids To Drink and Engage in Sex Acts
Investigators said some of the sex acts between teens were non-consensual and at times took place while the mother stood by laughing.
Mother Hit With Dozens of Charges
A California mother is facing 39 criminal charges after hosting a series of illegal parties for her teenage son and his mostly 14- and 15-year-old friends that regularly led to dangerous accidents and sexual assaults.
The mother, 47-year-old Shannon O’Connor, also known as Shannon Bruga, is currently awaiting extradition to Santa Clara County. According to The Mercury News, she was arrested Saturday in Ada County, Idaho, where she has a home in addition to her property in Los Gatos that is currently on the market.
Her criminal charges include 12 felony counts and 10 misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, one count of misdemeanor sexual battery, three counts of misdemeanor child molestation, and 13 misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors.
“It took a lot of brave children to come forward and to untangle this deeply disturbing case,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a press release regarding the case. “As a parent, I’m shocked. As the DA, I’m determined to hold those adults who endanger children fully accountable to the law and our community.”
What Happened During the Parties?
Investigators claim O’Connor organized the functions, attended by as many as 20 teens, via text message and Snapchat. She would then allegedly supply the teens with alcohol and push them to binge drink, often to the point of illness or unconsciousness.
The harm that resulted from their intoxication included one teen breaking a finger and another almost drowning in a hot tub, among other serious situations.
In another instance, O’Connor let an unlicensed drunk teen drive her car. Her son and another one of his friends then hung off the back while it was moving, which caused the friend to fall, hit his head, and become unconscious for 30 seconds. He was later diagnosed with a concussion after spending the night vomiting.
O’Connor is additionally accused of manipulating and encouraging drunk teens to participate in sex acts with one another, which were sometimes non-consensual or carried out while she watched. In some cases, she allegedly laughed while the sexual acts happened or when assault victims asked her why she didn’t step in to help.
Investigators added that O’Connor required teens who attended her parties to keep them a secret. She’s even accused of helping them sneak out of their homes so she could drive them to her events. Authorities said she was found to have bullied at least one teen who she suspected of breaking the secret.
“Everyone should feel relieved this woman’s not on the street,” the parents of one assault victim told The Mercury News. “She was grooming these kids, setting them up for sexual acts, and she’s a mother and doing this to her own child. … I’ve been racking my brain trying to think what was in it for her.“