Clinton, Sanders respond to 2016 presidential HIV/AIDS questionnaire

Bernie Sanders and Hillary ClintonIn February, a coalition of more than 50 AIDS and HIV service organizations, including AIDS Arms and Houston’s Legacy Community Health, sent a survey to presidential candidates from both parties to assess their stances on HIV/AIDS policies and initiatives. Candidates were question on their positions on HIV stigmatization laws, research funding and needle exchange policies.

Of the five candidates still in the race, only the two Democrats — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — have responded.

In general both support policies supported by HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention advocates. But when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of policy, Clinton shines.

On the issue of ending HIV criminalization laws, here’s Clinton’s take:

As President, I will work with advocates, HIV and AIDS organizations, and Congress to review and reform outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws — and I will call on states to do the sameI will continue to aggressively enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act and other civil rights laws to fight HIV-related discrimination. And I will ensure that my Administration releases the latest facts about HIV transmission and risk behaviors to counter unnecessary laws and work to educate prosecutors about the latest science of HIV to reduce unnecessary charges against people with HIV that are not scientifically valid. 

Here’s Sanders’ take:

We should continue and expand the policies that are working. The United States has clearly come a long way in its attitudes towards sexual orientation, gender identity, and health status, but there is still a long way to go. We must ensure that health providers, social services, law enforcement, and all other entities have proper resources and training to handle the varying needs of the community they serve. Schools must be giving students age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education. I echo the Strategy’s recommendation that all Americans should have access to scientifically-accurate information regarding HIV infection. For starters, I would direct FDA to update its blood donation policy. The recent update was a step in the right direction, but a blanket one-year ban is still not supported by science. I have joined other Members in asking FDA to implement a risk-based policy for all donors.

Click here to read Clinton’s complete response. Click here to read Sanders’ complete response.

For what it’s worth, the coalition is still happy to receive responses from remaining GOP candidates Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, businessman Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. In absence of a response, however, the coalition reviewed campaign literature, speeches or other positions of the candidates but found no information directly related to HIV/AIDS issues addressed in the survey.

—  James Russell

Caitlyn Jenner: Hillary Clinton only cares about herself

Screen shot 2016-03-09 at 1.16.20 PMAnd here’s today’s news post from Caitlyn Jenner’s Fantasyland: The woman who just days ago was blathering on about how Ted Cruz is an intelligent, articulate man and a great constitutionalist, and she wants to be Cruz’s “ambassador” to the transgender community — is now making headlines for making sure we all know that Hillary Clinton doesn’t care about women.

According to MSNBC, Jenner got into a “heated argument” with “one of her peers” during the season premiere of her “reality show,” I Am Cait, and in that argument Jenner declared: “If we’re unfortunate enough to get Hillary as our next president, we need her on our side, [but] she won’t be. She couldn’t care less about women, she only cares about herself.”

I am pretty sure Hillary Clinton’s record on women’s issues speaks for itself. Democrats may be arguing amongst themselves about whether Sanders or Clinton is better on civil rights issues — including equality for women and for LGBT people — and about which one of them has the best policies on the economy, terrorism, world affairs, etc. But Caitlyn Jenner may very well be the ONLY person in the country who would say that Cruz is better than either Democratic on civil rights for anybody.

Let me just speak plainly: Before she transitioned, Caitlyn Jenner lived as a white man swaddled in wealth and privilege, famous for long-ago being an outstanding athlete and for currently being a part of that train wreck known as the Kardashian family. Nobody was chasing Bruce Jenner down to seek his political wisdom. Since her transition, Jenner is a white woman swaddled in wealth and privilege, famous for being a part of that train wreck known as the Kardashian family, for transitioning publicly and, now, for saying absolutely asinine things about politics and presidential candidates.

Everyone, including Caitlyn Jenner, is entitled to their opinion. But maybe if you are gonna put yourself out there as some sort of representative for a particular community or as a political pundit, you should educate yourself a little better. And I am talking about “real-world education,” not “privileged white Republican living in a bubble” education.

—  Tammye Nash

A report from the campaign trail

Sanders wins more primaries this week, but Clinton gets more delegates; Kasich waffles on ‘religious freedom’ laws

candidates

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

The Democratic presidential candidate who appears to have the most LGBT support narrowly lost a major primary Tuesday, March 8, to the Democratic presidential candidate who boasts the most consistently pro-gay record.

The only Republican presidential candidate who has encouraged business owners to respect LGBT people appeared this week to back off that position. And to this mix, add the Republican frontrunner’s new rally feature: asking participants to raise their hands and “solemnly swear” to vote for him and saying, “Bad things happen if you don’t live up to what you just did.”

Wins vs. delegates

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders picked up a surprise win in the Michigan primary Tuesday, as did Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

Polls leading up to Tuesday gave Democrat Hillary Clinton the advantage in Michigan. She appeared to have had significant support from the LGBT community in Michigan. Gay philanthropist Jon Stryker, head of the Kalamazoo-based Arcus Foundation, contributed heavily to political action committees supporting Clinton. LGBT organizers in Royal Oak on Sunday hosted former President Bill Clinton. And Michigan LGBT newspaper publisher Susan Horowitz said she supports Clinton.

But of the six states that held Democratic balloting between Saturday and Tuesday, Sanders won Michigan and three others (Kansas, Maine, and Nebraska) and Clinton won two (Louisiana and Mississippi). That kept up a general trend, so far, of Sanders winning in the northeast and Midwest, and Clinton winning in the south.

Though Clinton won fewer states in the past week, she picked up more delegates (152 to Sanders’ 136) and is now more than halfway to securing the 2,383 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination. Sanders is 24 percent of the way.

While Trump is the Republican frontrunner, he has only 37 percent of the 1,237 delegate votes needed to secure the nomination. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has 29 percent, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has 12 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has 4 percent.

Unless Kasich and Rubio can pull off victories in their home states next Tuesday, March 15, the Republican contest could soon be a two-man race.

But Trump continues to lead in most of the remaining polls — including in Florida and Ohio — and maintains the lion’s share of media attention.

That continued this week when Trump began asking rally participants to swear an oath to him, unleashing open discussion of a concern that Trump’s rhetoric and tactics are reminiscent of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Trump has also had security personnel to remove protesters from his rallies.

Abraham Foxman, a former head of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Times of Israel, “As a Jew who survived the Holocaust, to see an audience of thousands of people raising their hands in what looks like the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute is about as offensive, obnoxious and disgusting as anything I thought I would ever witness in the United States of America.”

Trump called on his audience to make the pledge in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, March 5, and Concord, N.C., on Monday, March 7. Photos from the events show some people holding their hands up in a classic pledge pose, with their forearms perpendicular to their upper arms. But many held their arms straight out from their bodies in a pose reminiscent of Hitler’s salute.

Asked about it by various television news reporters, Trump said the oath was just “for fun” and that his audiences were beckoning him to “do the swear in.”

Kasich waffles

Republican Party leaders are distraught over the seeming likelihood that Trump will win the nomination and many have been throwing their support behind Rubio and Kasich. Anecdotal information suggests LGBT Republicans are getting behind Kasich, too.

Many LGBT Republicans were pleased with Kasich’s remarks during a Feb. 25 debate in Houston about the refusal of some to do business with same-sex couples.

“If you’re in the business of selling things, if you’re not going to sell to somebody you don’t agree with — OK, ‘Today, I’m not going to sell to somebody who’s gay and tomorrow maybe I won’t sell to somebody who’s divorced’.

“If you’re in the business of commerce, conduct commerce,” Kasich in Houston. “That’s my view. And if you don’t agree with their lifestyle, say a prayer for them when they leave [the shop] and hope they change their behavior.”

But during the latest debate on March 3, Fox News reporter Bret Baier said “some faith leaders got nervous about that answer” and asked Kasich “Do gay marriage dissenters have rights?”

Suddenly, Kasich seemed to waffle. After rambling about trying to be “a man of faith every day as best as I can,” he then restructured the conflict into one that gay couples were causing.

“Look, you’re in the commerce business, you want to sell somebody a cupcake, great, OK? But now they ask you to participate in something you really don’t like — that’s a whole ’nother issue, OK? Another issue,” Kasich said.

He reiterated that he didn’t agree with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down state bans on same-sex marriage and that he favors “traditional marriage, a man and a woman.”

“If you go to a photographer to take pictures at your wedding, and he says, ‘I’d rather not do it,’ find another photographer. Don’t sue them in court,” said Kasich. “You know what the problem is in our country? In our country, we need to learn to respect each other and be a little bit tolerant for one another.”

“…At the end of the day, if somebody is being pressured to participate in something that is against their deeply-held religious beliefs, then we’re going to have to think about dealing with the law,” Kasich said.

At that same debate, Baier then asked Cruz, “Do you believe a gay couple should be able to adopt?” (This was four days before the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order that said Alabama had to accept an adoption approved in Georgia for a same-sex couple.)

Cruz said, “Adoption is decided at the state level, and I am a believer of the 10th Amendment in the Constitution. I would leave the question of marriage to the states. I would leave the question of adoption to the states.”

On Monday, a voter in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., confronted Kasich about his revised position. According to the Washington Post, the voter “asked if the governor would stand for the rights of gay people to be served just as Lyndon Johnson had stood for the rights of black people.”

The Post said Kasich “tried to pull [the voter] over [to his side] by portraying the religious liberty fight as one good people could agree not to have.”

“Don’t make laws until you think you need to,” Kasich said, according to the Post. “Let’s take a deep breath and see if we can get along. … If common sense doesn’t prevail, we can pass a law.”

He did not, apparently, identify which law he would want to pass.

Reacting to Kasich’s remarks, the Clinton campaign Twitter feed posted a graphic of a smiling Clinton against a rainbow background with the message “Marriage equality is the law of the land — Deal with it.”

Coming up

The race for the nomination in both parties now rushes into the District of Columbia (Saturday, March 12) and five delegate-heavy states: Illinois, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Missouri.

The Clinton Twitter feed, @HillaryClinton, has been posting numerous LGBT-related messages. A March 4 post says, “Today, nearly 100 #LGBT leaders from all across Illinois announced their support for @Hillary Clinton.”

The list includes State Rep. Kelly Cassidy; Chicago Aldermen James Cappleman, Ray Lopez, and Deb Mell; Community Leader Bernard Cherkasov; long-time activist Rick Garcia; and NGLTF Creating Change Co-Chair Kenny Martin-Ocasio.

A March 5 post says, “We should be supporting LGBT kids — not trying to change them. It’s time to end conversion therapy for minors.” And a March 6 video showed same-sex couples together, with Clinton saying that “I’m running for president to stand up for the rights of LGBT Americans and all Americans.”

© 2016 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  Tammye Nash

Cruz wins Iowa caucuses, Clinton barely edges Sanders

Ted CruzTexas Sen. Ted Cruz won Iowa’s Republican caucuses last night, beating businessman Donald Trump 28 percent to 24 percent, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio receiving 23 percent.

The most drama came in the Democratic caucus. In the caucus, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton garnered 49.9 percent to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 49.6 percent. While the Iowa Democratic Party called the race for Clinton, Sanders declared the race a “virtual tie.”

Two candidates also announced they were suspending their campaigns: Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who came in a very distant third in the caucus, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won Iowa’s GOP caucus in 2008.

While LGBT issues did not play a deciding role among Iowa Democrats, they were a hot topic among Republicans. Evangelicals and social conservatives dominate the state’s GOP caucuses. Cruz and Trump played a tug of war for the social conservative endorsement. Among vocally anti-LGBT leaders, Cruz had the backing of Bob Vander Plaats of the Family Leader, while Trump earned the endorsement of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.

“From threatening to overturn nationwide marriage equality, to campaigning with a notorious ‘kill the gays’ pastor in Iowa, to using transgender Americans as a punchline on the trail, Ted Cruz has spared no opportunity to attack the dignity and rights of LGBT Americans,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Gregory T. Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, dalso enounced Cruz’s win.

“Log Cabin Republicans will continue to advocate for a common-sense conservative presidential nominee while ramping up our campaign to make Hillary Clinton’s anti-gay past known. Log Cabin Republicans does not endorse in primary elections, but we encourage all our members to step up as our members in Iowa did today to advocate for a stronger, more inclusive GOP. This presidential race is fluid and far from over,” he said in a statement.

Candidates are now focusing their eyes on New Hampshire’s primary election on Feb. 9.

—  James Russell

Jeffress says he can’t endorse Trump — as he endorses him

Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas

First Baptist Church Pastor Robert Jeffress

Churches and their pastors can’t endorse political candidates without risking losing their tax exempt status. But that didn’t stop the So-Called-Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of Dallas megachurch First Baptist, from making sure that everyone knows Donald Trump is his man. (See video below.)

Jeffress, who wasted no time making a name for himself as an anti-gay crusader when he moved to Dallas from Wichita Falls in 2008, flew to Iowa over the weekend to introduce the GOP’s leading presidential contender at an appearance at Dordt College. (This is at least the second time Jeffress has introduced Trump; he also did so at a rally in September at the American Airlines Center. And as the Dallas Morning News reported here, later in September, Jeffress joined Kenneth Copeland and some other right-wing hatemongers at a gathering at Trump Tower in New York City to lay hands on The Donald “in prayer.”)

In Iowa, Jeffress acknowledged the limitations placed on pastors when it comes to politics, but then continued on with what basically amounted to a “screw that, I am endorsing Trump anyway” moment: “Although as a pastor I cannot officially endorse a candidate, I want you to know I would not be here this morning if I were not absolutely convinced that Donald Trump would make a great president of the United States,” Jeffress said.

He also warned that only Trump could save the U.S. from its current “death spiral,” and that the country would not survive “another third term of Barack Obama in the form of” Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

He wound up the intro by describing Trump as “a great leader, a great visionary and a great American.”

Now, I am not endorsing any candidate for president. But I will say this, if the idea of a candidate that gets Robert Jeffress’ backing scares you — and it should — then you need to make sure you are registered, and you need to MAKE SURE YOU VOTE.

—  Tammye Nash

Clinton campaign staffer holding training tonight

Rosenberg.Barbara.Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Ok, all you Hillary Clinton backers, you won’t want to miss this.

Carlos Paz, Texas state organizing director for the Hillary campaign, will be conducting a brief training session — as part of the Hillary for America Organizing Academy — tonight (Monday, Jan. 25) in the Rose Room at S4.

The event starts at 6:30 p.m., and those attending should enter through the green doors off the back parking lot and go to the second floor.

RSVP here.

Dallas Democratic activist Jeff Strater encouraged Clinton supporters to make time to attend despite the short notice, adding, “It’s not often that a presidential campaign deploys staff to Dallas and conducts training like this.”

Strater also said that because the original location had problems with the H/AC, the event had to be relocated at the last minute, and offered his thanks to Caven Enterprises for allowing the use of S4 and The Rose Room.

—  Tammye Nash

Clinton campaign appoints new LGBT liaison

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Dominic Lowell

Democratic presidential candidate — and former First Lady, former U.S. senator and former Secretary of State — Hillary Clinton has appointed Dominic Lowell as director of LGBT outreach for her campaign, the Washington Blade reported earlier today.

Lowell, 29, will officially join the campaign on Thursday, Oct. 1, coming from Rock the Vote, where he worked as director of strategic partnerships, coordinating outreach to progressive movements. Before working for Rock the Vote, he was vice president of investment services at Democracy Alliance.

Lowell is one of several out LGBT people on Clinton’s campaign staff. Others include campaign manager Robby Mook, deputy political director Brynne Craig and national finance director Dennis Cheng.

News of Lowell’s appointment comes just days before Clinton is set to speak to the board of directors and supporters of Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. Clinton’s speech to the group happens the same day as HRC’s national dinner, where Vice President Joe Biden will be delivering the keynote address.

—  Tammye Nash

Sen. Bernie Sanders announces 2016 presidential campaign

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I–Vermont.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I–Vermont, announced his campaign f0r the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination today, promising to run on a progressive economic platform.

The self-described democratic socialist is the second major Democrat to announce his candidacy following former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A two-term senator, he is currently the longest serving independent in Congress and caucuses with the Democrats.

Sanders may be the answer for progressive Democrats who have long been skeptical of Clinton, the former senator, first lady and a 2008 presidential candidate and presumed frontrunner.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Sanders said he’ll campaign on progress economic and taxation policy, campaign finance reform, against a hawkish U.S. foreign policy. He also cited his opposition to free-trade agreements and vote against the Keystone XL oil pipeline to distinguish himself as independent alternative who could appeal to Democrats, Republicans and other independents.

“So to me, the question is whose views come closer to representing the vast majority of working people in this country,” Sanders said. “And you know what? I think my views do.”

While Sanders is looking to nudge Clinton the the left on these issues, LGBT issues, like same-sex marriage, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, were not mentioned in the interview. But Sanders has long been an advocate for the LGBT community throughout his fourteen years in Congress, first as a House member and now as a senator.

—  James Russell

Clinton names gay campaign manager

Robby Mook

Robby Mook

Hillary Clinton has named 35-year-old Robby Mook as her campaign manager.

Mook is openly gay. This is the second time a major presidential candidate had an out campaign manager. In 2000, Donna Brazile, who is lesbian, managed Al Gore’s campaign.

In 2008, Mook worked as state director for Clinton in three states. He managed Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s 2008 campaign. In 2012, he managed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and in 2013 managed Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign.

 

 

—  David Taffet