President Obama issues memorandum on protecting LGBTs abroad

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Four days in advance of  Human Rights Day on Saturday, Dec. 10,  President Barack Obama today issued a presidential memorandum “to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” according to a statement just released by the White House press office.

The statement sent out by the White House includes these comments by the president:

“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.  I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.  That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”  Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.  Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.”

The memorandum from Obama directs agencies to combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad; protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers; leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination; ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad; engage international organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination, and report on progress.

I give the president credit for issuing the memorandum at the same time he’s gearing up for what will likely be a tough re-election campaign during which opponents will no doubt use his stance and actions on LGBT issues against him. But I still have to point out that we as LGBT people still face discrimination and inequality right here in the good old U.S.-of-A:

• Our marriages are legally recognized at the federal level and they aren’t recognized in the VAST majority of state and local jurisdictions. We want the Defense of Marriage Act repealed and local and state ordinances and constitutional amendments prohibiting recognition of our relationships need to be overturned.

• There is still no federal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/gender expression and gender identity. Congress needs to pass — the president needs to sign — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

• Even though there is now a federal hate crimes law that includes LGBT people, as well as similar laws at many state and local levels, those laws are not well enforced.

Anti-LGBT bullying remains a deadly problem in our schools and our workplaces and on the Internet. We’ve made progress in combating such bullying, but not nearly enough. Dedicate the resources necessary to address the issue effectively.

So let’s applaud our president for the steps he has — and is — taking. There’s no doubt Obama has been more open than any other president about addressing LGBT issues and we have seen great strides forward toward equality during his administration. But there’s a long way to go yet, and we need to make sure that the president — and all our elected officials — know they can’t just rest on their laurels.

—  admin

Rhode Island Governor-Elect Chafee Snubs NOM, Reiterates His Commitment to Marriage Equality

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is whining because Rhode Island Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee won't entertain supporting a 2012 voter referendum on same-sex marriage and has reiterated his commitment to equality.

Chafee The Providence Journal reports that Christopher Plante, the head of NOM's Rhode Island chapter, paid a visit to Chafee's office:

Plante said he dropped by Chafee’s transition office unannounced about two weeks ago, and came away from his conversation with aide Michael Trainor believing that the governor-elect was open to sitting down and talking with people on all sides of the gay-marriage debate.

Hence his “surprise” when he received a letter from Trainor, reaffirming the position that Chafee stated repeatedly through his campaign for governor over the last year. It said: “The governor elect feels that the issue should be addressed as soon as possible by the General Assembly, and does not believe that the question should be decided by a ballot referendum.”

In his Nov. 16 letter to Plante, Trainor also reiterated Chafee’s belief that: “Marriage equality is a basic right that should be extended to all Rhode Islanders — a question not only of fairness and justice, but of economic development as well.”

“I was surprised,” said Plante on Tuesday, “because Mr. Trainor indicated that he thought that Governor-elect Chafee would sit down at the table with all parties … I left there thinking that maybe we’ll get a roundtable. We’ll get ‘Marriage Equality’ … We’ll get NOMRI to sit at the table and talk about how we are going to go forward on this … But what he has done is rejected our position out of hand.”

Plante is clearly exasperated. The ProJo asked him why he thought Chafee would change his mind.

"What insanity got into my mind? That I have real and credible polling data that shows that 80 percent of Rhode Islanders want it on the ballot … And he was elected with — what? — 36 percent of the vote, fewer popular votes than (unsuccessful independent lieutenant governor candidate) Bob Healey got."

No doubt NOM will soon be pouring more millions of dollars toward the Rhode Island referendum.

And why hasn't NOM been classified as a hate group already?


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

GetEqual at Reid’s office. Staffer on commitment to lame duck repeal – ‘I don’t know’

UPDATE: GetEqual is at Sen. Harry Reid’s office. A Tweet from Scott Wooledge:

@ltdanchoi asks Deputy Chief of Staff if @HarryReid will commit to repealing #DADT in lame duck: “I don’t know.”

If Dan is permitted to speak with the Senator, keep in mind what happened at Netroots Nation this year. I was at Dan’s table when he strode onto the stage and gave him his West Point ring and a letter:

This summer, Lt. Dan Choi made headlines at Netroots Nation in Las Vegas when he approached Senator Harry Reid on-stage at a main conference event and gave his West Point cadet ring to Senator Harry Reid. At that time, Senator Reid – in front of this large crowd of progressive/liberal bloggers and activists, Senator Reid promised Dan that he would return the ring by the end of this year when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is repealed.

Dan’s question to Senator Reid – “can I expect my ring back this year or not?”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Jim Messina makes a firm commitment on DADT: ‘We’re going to get that done this year’

Jim Messina was at a college classroom in Montana today when he announced the future of DADT repeal:

Political science major John Blake asked Messina about the failure to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the military policy that prevents gays from being open about their sexuality while serving in the military. The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday against repealing DADT “for largely partisan reasons,” Messina said, but he’s confident DADT will be struck down.

“We’re going to get that done this year,” he said.

Okay, I’ll play along. I’m viewing this as the first promise of the 2012 campaign from the guy who is going to manage the President’s reelection. Messina said repeal will happen this year.

Now, keep in mind that no one from the White House said anything like this about DADT after we lost in the Senate. We had to wait til Messina got asked about DADT in a college classroom in Missoula. I’d like to know how they intend to do this. Maybe someone in the White House press corps could get some details. And, nice work, GetEQUAL Board Member John Blake, for getting Messina on-the-record when no one else could.

My hunch is that Messina wants to string us along until after the midterms. So, let’s revisit this campaign promise in November and December. And, revisit it again when Messina becomes the campaign manager for Obama’s reelection. He owns it now. And, I hope I’m wrong. Really, I do — and if I am, I’ll gladly say I was wrong. But, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard a promise like this from Team Obama (think State of the Union.)

Oh, also, Messina told the students that he works 41 feet from the Oval Office, “I’ve measured it.”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Commitment? They do — no ifs, ands, or out-of-touch Senate votes

There hasn’t been much said or written about New York City’s decision to perform commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples who go in to obtain their domestic partnership paperwork. Largely because NYC couples can already go to a neighboring state (CT being the closest) and get a legal marriage, which the Empire State must then recognize. Or, alternately, there is a civil union option across the river in NJ. And then there are those New Yorkers who are waiting for their state and city to catch up and actually perform (rather than just recognize) same-sex marriages, refusing to have any sort of ceremony until full, unqualified marriage equality is a statewide reality. The months-old commitment ceremony option has been undeniably overshadowed.

But the New York Times has found a couple for whose lives the domestic partnership and associated commitment ceremony struck just the right balance: An ability to profess love in front of the law (and a mother’s camera), as well as the access to crucial protections that would protect their bond in a future that’s always, inconvertibly unknown. Go check out one NYC couple’s story:

Ms. Glazer learned she had breast cancer. A double mastectomy followed, then five more operations, along with radiation and chemotherapy. For Ms. Glazer, who had had ovarian cancer at the unimaginable age of 11, it was all too familiar. For a relationship that had been built on lightness and fun, it was a wrenching change.

Ms. Glazer survived, and so did the relationship.

Far smaller crises have driven other couples to break up or get married. For same-sex couples, though, marriage is not an option in New York State. So Ms. Glazer and Ms. Bacolas, who exchanged rings back when they first moved in together, figured they would wait until the law changed, then have fun with a big wedding.

In April, Ms. Glazer learned she had kidney cancer.

The couple had always avoided doing any legal planning, but this summer, after an operation to remove part of Ms. Glazer’s kidney, they realized they had to.

The Best Two Women Could Do [NYT]

Someday this commitment choice, markable only because of lack of larger access, will be just as mundane as it is for any heterosexual person. For now, it’s still a story. A sweet, human story that will never be conquered by unfounded, anti-intellectual fears.




Good As You

—  John Wright

Winger Sen. Tom Coburn on Gingrich: ‘he doesn’t know anything about commitment to marriage’

This is hysterical – Newt’s going to have a hard slog ahead if he plans to run for President – his own party faithful are going to talk about his inability to understand the “Sanctity of Marriage.” Via Think Progress:

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn called out Democrats, Republicans, Newt Gingrich, the military-industrial complex, teachers unions and Medicare – to name a few – at a town hall meeting Friday. [...]

Coburn made it clear that he won’t be on Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential bandwagon. Gingrich “is a super-smart man, but he doesn’t know anything about commitment to marriage,” he said of the thrice-married former House speaker. “He’s the last person I’d vote for for president of the United States. His life indicates he does not have a commitment to the character traits necessary to be a great president.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Quinn Wants Senate Marriage Commitment

New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn would like the marriage equality bill to get another vote more quickly than senate majority leader John Sampson seems willing to say.
Daily News

—  John Wright